Chapter 17 - Picking up the False Sun's Trail
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Bleach. They are the respective properties of Masashi Kishimoto and Tite Kubo.
A/N: Apologies in Advance about the long update time. I got caught up in the last trimester of Senior year of high school, including taking my finals and the graduation ceremony. Now that I'm out of school for the time being, I can update my stories regularly. And to make up for the long update time, I have an omake at the end of chapter (which I personally think is funny).
[Daireishokairō, Central 46 Compound, Seireitei, Soul Society]
As Naruto's team was recovering from the Espada's first assault, the Gotei 13 was currently preparing what Aizen had planned for them. While Mayuri was analyzing the reiatsu readings from the Arrancar that were sent there, four captains, which consisted of Minato, Fugaku, Ukitake, and Kyoraku, were currently searching the Daireishokairō (Great Spirit Book Gallery). They suspected that since Aizen had hidden there for a short time after faking his own death, then there would at least be some clues for what his plans were.
Unfortunately, the search had been fruitless so far. They had searched the library for some time and had so far found nothing of value. This was due to the tremendous amount of information stored there.
Fugaku Uchiha had just conducted another search with very few results. He had looked into anything involving the Hōgyoku, but each lead he had got was a dead end up to that point. He was currently walking through one of the corridors, rubbing his forehead with his hand, when something caught his eye.
It was Kyoraku, sitting against one of the many bookshelves, snickering to himself with his nose buried in a small, orange book, a book that he recognized from when he was alive, the hallmark of a certain perverted sage. Fugaku sighed to himself in frustration as he approached the 8th Division Captain, intending to force the man back to work. While he respected Kyoraku, the man's poor work ethic was very frustrating and, with Sasuke now caught in the crossfire of this war against Aizen and the possibility of the same happening to Itachi, Fugaku wasn't going to tolerate it.
"What are you doing?" he asked sternly as Kyoraku looked up from his book.
"I'm reading this very fine piece of adult literature," Kyoraku said as Fugaku's frown deepened.
"In case you haven't noticed, we are working on a very important task that could give us a vital clue on Sosuke Aizen's schemes. That task does not involve reading pornography," Fugaku said as he walked off, but not before hearing Kyoraku talk under his breath.
"Geez, how can a guy as stuffy as him get a wife as pretty as Mikoto-chan?"
The 9th Division Captain quickly turned and glared at Kyoraku, the former Uchiha Clan head having activated his Sharingan, both surprising and intimidating Shunsui in the process. Kyoraku, like most longtime shinigami, knew that if you've provoked an Uchiha enough to where they activate their famed dojutsu, but haven't tried to kill you, it was a good idea to shut your mouth while you still had a chance.
"I'll have you know, Kyouraku-san... I was quite handsome in my younger years," Fugaku said before walking away to continue his research.
On the other side of the room, Ukitake and Minato were currently conducting their own research with the same amount of success, that is to say none at all.
"Do you have any suggestions on how to proceed, Minato-san? I'm running out of ideas" Ukitake asked. The former Yondiame Hokage scratched his chin in thought until his eyes widened, as if he realized something.
"According to my son, Aizen-san said that he wanted to rule over the Soul Society, and that would imply that he might want to overthrow the Soul King. Maybe we should try looking up anything related to the Soul King; perhaps Aizen-san was looking for something among those files."
"That's very good thinking on your part. I'll see if we can find anything there," Ukitake complimented as he went off to find any information on the Soul King. Minato then heard a chime coming from his pocket before he took out his Soul Pager, which was ringing, to answer it.
"Yes?" Minato said before he heard the familiar voice of the 4th Division Lieutenant, Isane Kotetsu.
"Captain Namikaze, it's Isane Kotetsu. I have some urgent news for you: Momo Hinamori has just awoken from her coma!" she explained.
After thanking Isane and telling her that he'll be there immediately Minato, in a blink of an eye, quickly put away his Soul Pager and flash stepped off to the 4th Division barracks to check on his subordinate... after informing Ukitake and the others first, of course.
[Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho, 4th Division Barracks, Seireitei, Soul Society]
A Few Minutes Later…
Minato soon appeared in front of the 4th Division barracks, and quickly rushed himself inside towards the intensive care ward. He arrived at Momo's room, where the sight of Captain Unohana greeted him. Kushina was also currently in the room, watching as Momo slowly opened her eyes.
"How is she doing?" Minato asked Unohana in a rather hushed tone.
"Momo-chan's stabilized, but she will have to rest for at least a week or two. Her stomach wound is closing up," Unohana explained.
After nodding in acknowledgement to Unohana's response Minato spoke again.
"That's good to hear... though I'm a bit more worried about her mental state... If it's not too much trouble, may I speak to her?" he asked to which Unohana simply nodded in response.
Minato walked in and gave the young girl a warm smile. A sense of dread washed over him as he pulled up a chair, knowing that he had to break the news about Aizen's betrayal to her.
"Hello, Momo-chan," he greeted as the girl weakly smiled at him.
"H-hi, Minato-san. Why are you wearing a Captain's Haori? Wait… does that mean Captain Aizen's really dead?" she asked, suddenly saddened by the memory of Aizen's "death"; the shock caused by the events surrounding her last encounter with the traitor led Momo to believe that it had all been nothing more than a bad dream.
"No, he's alive. I'm… afraid that it's much more worse than that," Minato explained, causing Momo's eyes to widen in surprise.
"Wha-what do you mean?" she asked.
"It's a long story, Momo-chan. It might be hard for you to believe what I'm about to tell you but Aizen... was the one behind everything that happened," Minato said in a gentle voice to begin his explanation.
Minato told her that Aizen was the person who manipulated the events behind Rukia's execution, going through the details of how Aizen went through all the trouble of putting the Shinigami against one another all so he could get a powerful item called the Hōgyoku. According to him, the kind and compassionate Sosuke Aizen that they all (they all being the other shinigami as the former shinobi had know something was off about Aizen from the start) knew never existed. It was just a mere mask to cover up his actions. Minato slowly watched as the luster faded from Momo's eyes, and her mouth turned into a disbelieving frown. The Fifth division captain finished up his explaination by saying that Aizen was now an enemy of the Soul Society and preparing to go to war.
With her mental state being as fragile as it was (not that anyone could blame her given what she went through), this information was something she couldn't accept.
"No… no, i-it can't be true," Momo said slowly in a frightened, shaky voice as her body started to tremble.
"Captain Aizen is the most kind and caring man I know. H-he would never betray us for power. He... he's being manipulated, that's it! Captain Ichimaru... he has to be forcing him to do this!" Momo reasoned in a desperate manner, only for Minato to shake his head in response.
"I'm sorry, Momo-chan, Aizen is doing this of his own free will. Gin was merely one of his co-conspirators along with Tosen-san," Minato said sternly yet gently.
At this point it looked like Momo was about to break down into tears.
"No! It can't be true! Captain Aizen would ne-"
Momo was suddenly cut off as Kushina's hand appeared in front of the young girl's face, before the redhead uttered two words.
"Tanma Otoshi (Time-Out Drop)!"
A white light glowed from Kushina's hand as Momo became disoriented and fell unconscious, her head landing on her pillow. Kushina had a sad look on her face as she adjusted the 3rd seat officer's pillow.
"Poor Momo-chan... she's still suffering from what that bastard did… damn Aizen for using her and playing mind games on her like this!" Kushina said as she thought of all the ways she could make Aizen suffer if she ever got her hands on him.
"I don't like what he did to her either, but there's not much we can do for her right now. I think only time will tell if she'll recover, Kushina," Minato said as he walked out the door before speaking to Captain Unohana.
"Captain, I suggest that after Momo recovers, she goes through therapy. I have a feeling that it'll be difficult for her to continue her duties as she is now."
"We'll do our best," Unohana said before Minato, who nodded in response to Unohana's statement, headed back towards the 5th Division Barracks.
Unohana then peaked her head into Momo's room and was slightly surprised to see that Kushina was still there, looking over Momo. The 4th Division Captain walked in and looked at Kushina with a smile on her face.
"Kushina-san, you should leave Momo and let her rest up. She needs her sleep in order to recover," she suggested.
Kushina shook her head in response to this.
"I've decided to stay here and keep her company, Unohana, so I'm staying for now," Kushina replied.
"Kushina-san... I think it would be best if you left the room now," Unohana said in a sickly sweet voice that almost sounded threatening.
This was Unohana's usual tactic of keeping the rowdy members of the 11th Division, other unruly patients (e.g. Naruto), and virtually anyone else cooperative. Unfortunately, Unohana forgot that she was currently speaking to Kushina Uzumaki, the ONLY person whom Unohana couldn't intimidate no matter how much she tried.
"And I think I'm perfectly fine with where I am right now. Unohana," Kushina replied in a calm yet threatening tone of her own, the Uzumaki being completely unfazed by Unohana's scare tactic, as a dark menacing shadow forming over her eyes even as she kept her pleasant smile on her face.
Just outside of the room, Isane and Hanataro, who was passing by as this was happening and stopped to see what was going on, were watching the confrontation in fear and abject terror. The fact that Unohana's scary face had no effect on the 5th Division Lieutenant was something that was well-known among the shinigami. Despite knowing this, or very likely BECAUSE of this, the shinigami only seemed to be more terrified of the redheaded lieutenant and lived with the constant fear of being around when a scene like this occurred or, even worse, being in the Soul Society when, Soul King forbid, Kushina should ever snap in front of Unohana.
"I-I don't think I ever want to see what Lieutenant Uzumaki is like when she's REALLY angry," Hanataro squeaked, trying his best to not wet himself in his fear, as Isane dully nodded before speaking.
"Even after three years it feels like the end of the world is about to happen everytime Kushina-san and Captain Unohana are in the same room. -No wonder Central 46 didn't even try to prosecute Kushina after she left Captain Kurotsuchi in a body cast; they must have feared for their own lives if they incited Kushina-san's wrath-" Isane said as she and Hanataro walked away, wanting to get as far away from "Hell Zone" (the shinigami's nickname for any place whenever either Kushina loses her temper or she and Unohana confront each other) as they possibly could.
[9th Division Barracks, Seireitei, Soul Society]
Fugaku Uchiha stood in front of the rather simple and unmarked grave of the friend of his former captain, one Kaname Tosen. Fugaku (who had left Ukitake and Kyoraku to finish the search of the Daireishokairō's archives while he went to deal with some unrelated business) having suspected that the death of this person and the complications surrounding it drove his former Captain to ally himself with a dangerous traitor like Aizen, was in deep thought as if he expected Kaname's deceased friend to provide him some sort of answer. He let out a sigh as he looked down at the cross, apparently thinking to himself. He was soon broken out of his thoughts as he heard a coughing sound behind him.
The 9th Division Captain turned around and saw Komamura along with Shuhei Hisagi, the newly promoted Lieutenant of the 9th Division. Hisagi was a lean built and tall man with short black hair that had violet tint to it, dark grey eyes, and three vertical scars over his eye that lead straight down to his right cheek. He also had a pale blue-striped tattoo running across his left cheek and over the bridge of his nose. Additionally, he had the number "69" tattooed on his left cheek as well. Hisagi wore a sleeveless shihakusho with a choker around his throat, matching armbands on both of his upper arms, and his lieutenant's badge was worn on his right bicep. Lastly, he kept his zanpakuto on his waist.
"Sorry to bother you, Captain, but Captain Komamura also came to see visit the grave of Tosen's friend and wanted to speak to you when he learned you were here," Hisagi said.
"It's alright," Fugaku said silently as Komamura walked up and stood besides his fellow captain. The two stood in silence for some time before Komamura spoke.
"Kaname was the first person to accept who I was, and the first to be my friend. I never imagined that he would go against the Soul Society, and against the law he once vowed to uphold."
"He is a complicated man," Fugaku said as the large wolfman looked down at the Uchiha and began to speak.
"I still, I believe that I'll open his eyes, and set him back on the right path again," he said with a hit of hope in his voice while Fugaku gave off a humorless chuckle.
"I am not as optimistic as you, Sajin. Kaname might not realize the error of his ways until it is too late."
"H-how do you know for certain?"
"I had a similar experience when I was alive," Fugaku said as Komamura looked at him in confusion. He sighed as began to explain.
"When Mikoto-chan and I were still alive, I was in charge of Konoha's Military Police Force, a high ranking position like Tosen's. After the night of the Kyuubi attack, my clan was accused by some of the leadership of the village, of being the conspirators behind the attack. This accusation lead to us being essentially cut off from the rest of the village. When this happened my fellow clan members and I decided to plan a coup d'état against Konohagakure, in revenge for the perceived wrongs against the Uchiha clan. My desire for revenge warped my common sense, and I didn't realize the consequences of what my actions would lead to. The coup never came to be as my eldest son Itachi came home one night and killed everyone in the compound."
Komamura's eyes widened at this as began to slowly speak.
"Fight back? No. Mikoto and I realized that our time was up and accepted our fate. The last thing I did was tell Itachi was to take care of his brother and that I would always be proud of him, no matter what decision he made. He was breaking down into tears when he killed us. After that, we arrived in the Soul Society and I had a lot of time to think about my actions. Some time later, I came to an epiphany. I realized that the coup would have lead to a civil war in Konoha, and would also consume the Land of Fire, killing hundreds of people, including my two sons. Tosen will be blinded by his desire for revenge, and it will end up being his downfall if it continues, just like it was mine."
Komamura suddenly looked crestfallen at the prospect of his friend being irredeemable. The glimmer of hope he once had in his eyes began to slowly fade, which didn't get by Fugaku's attention.
"I don't mean to crush your hopes, Sajin, but that is just the way I see it. However, I'm not saying he's beyond hope, either. Maybe he can be redeemed and maybe he can't. I just hope he realizes the consequences of what he is doing before it is too late. Only time will tell what will become of Tosen... we just have to wait and see what happens."
"It was nice talking to you, Fugaku-san," Komamura said in a slightly happier voice as he began to walk off.
[Head Captain Yamamoto's Office, 1st Division Barracks, Seireitei, Soul Society]
Two Hours later…
Yamamoto stood sternly at his desk as he waited for Minato and Fugaku to arrive. He had just received an important call from Naruto about the recent attack on Konohagakure, and had decided to share it with the two former shinobi turned Captains, mainly because they could rely it to the rest of the shinobigami, who may very play a role in this conflict later on. Off to the side of his office was a large video screen, which the SRDI had set up for the upcoming meeting.
A knocking was heard at the door, which was soon opened, revealing both Minato and Fugaku. The two captains walked forward to the desk before stopping. The aged Head Captain studied over the two shinigami before Minato spoke.
"Not to offend you, Head Captain, but why do you want us here? We were making some headway into our investigation."
"Good question, Captain Namikaze. I am about to receive a report from your son regarding the recent attack by Aizen's forces on your village. He should be appearing on that screen any minute."
"I've heard the 12th Division was all up in a ruckus over the amount spiritual pressure that was exerting around the area," Fugaku said as a beeping sound was heard from the other side of the room.
The video screen blinked for a bit before an image of Naruto appeared. He was currently sitting cross-legged on a bed, wearing what appeared to be hospital clothes. His zanpakuto was leaning against the bed, and haori (which was a bit torn up) was draped over a spare chair. The young captain leaned in and stared intently.
"Helloooooooooo? Is this thing on?" he asked as Yamamoto and the two captains approached the video screen. The Head Captain cleared his throat as he spoke.
"We are able to hear you perfectly, Captain Uzumaki." Yamamoto said as Naruto leaned back and gave a grin.
"Hello, Head Captain! Hi, Dad and Fugaku-san!"
"It's good to see you again, Naruto-kun. I take it that my son has been doing well," Fugaku as Naruto nervously rubbed the back of his head.
"He's… doing better, but it's sort of complicated..."
"The two of you can talk about personal issues some other time. Captain Uzumaki, you said you were going to deliver us your report?" Yamamoto said, interrupting the two.
"Oh, right," Naruto said as he straighten up and took in a deep breath before speaking in a somewhat professional tone.
"Well, as I'm sure you already know Konoha was attacked just recently. The attack was carried by a group of fully developed Arrancar, which were all pretty powerful in their own right. The majority of them appeared to be around the Aduchas level. Another interesting thing that I noticed is that two of the Arrancar said that they belonged to a special group of Arrancar called the Espada, and I guess that the one who went by the name of Ulquiorra was their leader."
"Interesting," Yamamoto commented as Minato stepped up and spoke to his son.
"What happened to these Arrancar, Naruto?"
"Well, most of them are dead, dad. Byakuya, Sasuke, a few members of my class, and I killed half of them. They weren't too hard. The Espada, on the other hand, are a different story altogether."
"Explain," Yamamoto demanded as Naruto took in a deep breath.
"The Espada gave us a lot of trouble, Head Captain. A big one, who goes by Yammy, nearly killed two of my teachers, Kakashi-sensei and Gai-sensei, despite both of them giving their best effort. Ichigo managed to push him into a corner, but that was only temporary... but that's a discussion for another day. Another Espada called Grimmjow beat Sasuke half to death and almost killed him before I intervened."
Fugaku stood shocked for a moment when he heard that his son almost died at the hands of an Arrancar, before his expression changed to relief when he heard that he was still alive.
"I was able to fight Grimmjow to a standstill, despite getting a major wound in the process. Even with that, I was still capable of fighting him and would've left him in pieces if this Ulquiorra guy didn't interrupt."
"Do you have anything to report on the last Espada, Captain Uzumaki?" Yamamoto asked as Naruto scratched his chin in fought before answering.
"Not much, except that his reiatsu feels much more higher than Grimmjow's, though it's nothing I couldn't handle. That said, I'm guessing that he's their leader. But we'll probably get more information on him once we interrogate that Yylfordt guy."
"Who?" Yamamoto asked as Naruto realized that he left out an important detail.
"Whoops. I forgot to mention that Renji and Team 10 were able to detain and capture one of the Arrancars," Naruto said sheepishly. Yamamoto looked like he was about to burst a gasket, while Fugaku and Minato wisely stepped a few feet away from him.
Naruto continued his explanation in an attempt to calm down his superior.
"Now hear me out, Head Captain. Yylfordt is better to us alive than dead. There's a chance that he may know what Aizen is up to or about the Espada. I was against it at first until another of my friends, Shikamaru, managed to convince me otherwise."
"Very well, Captain Uzumaki, but I want that fiend executed the moment he's given us all the information he has. Now then, in a few days, I shall send the backup squad in case these Espada attack again soon, so make ready for their arrival. And I expect that you send in another report once your backup has arrived."
"Thank you, Head Captain. Anyways until then, later! Bye, Dad and Fugaku-san!" Naruto said.
"Best of luck, son," Minato said, waving at the screen as it turned black. Suddenly, the opening of doors was heard as all three men turned around to see Captain Ukitake. He looked incredibly shocked, as if he had seen a ghost, and apparently had gone into another one of his coughing fits. In his hand was a parchment of paper.
"Juushiro Ukitake! In all of the years that I have known you, I never expect you to have the gall to come into my office so unexpected! You better have a good reason for this!" Yamamoto bursted out in an tone that sounded like a mix of anger and annoyance.
"A thousand apologizes, Captain, but I've taken Mianto-san's suggestion and I've looked into anything related to the Soul King and his realm. And… I think I found out what Aizen is planning to do," Ukitake explained.
That apparently was a good enough reason as Yamamoto suddenly calmed down.
Ukitake nervously held up the piece of paper, which had a drawing of an odd-looking key, and said a single sentence that sent the whole room into shock:
"Aizen is planning on creating the Ōken (King's Key)."
Kaze no Moi, the spirit of Naruto's zanpakuto, was currently wandering the halls of the Konoha Hospital, looking for a way to alleviate his boredom. He suddenly stopped when he heard two distinct voices arguing around the cornor. The voices belonged to Tsunade and Danzo. The spirit snickered to himself whilst giving a mischevious smile, as he had a feeling that he was going to have some fun.
"The shinigami are causing more harm than good, Tsunade-hime."
"You're only saying that because your ROOT agents got slaughtered by one of those Arrancar!"
"They would of surely killed it if they only had the shinigami's sword."
"You know, if you're going to start a dick fighting contest with a woman, then you probably have the world's most cruelest handicap," Kaze no Moi snarked as he stepped into view.
"You! Who are you?" Danzo said in a surprised tone as Kaze waved his hand.
"The name's Kaze, Danzo. And I know your name because you're the stupid asshole who wanted to separate me from my partner."
"Why would you want to stay with the boy?"
"Mainly because I like him and its fun to get a rise out of him. I wouldn't be able to rile up one of your ROOT agents since they probably have the personality and emotional depth of a sheet of copy paper."
"Such useless things as emotions are hindrances. A perfect shinobi must abandon these things."
"And then become as boring and pathetic as you, an old geezer who's butthurt about not being Hokage, mainly because you're not Hokage material."
"How am not Hokage material?" Danzo said still in a neutral tone as Kaze pulled out a ridiculously long list from his cloak.
"I have a couple dozen, mainly because DocHoliday hates you with a burning passion. Let's read a few, shall we: you're a coward/you're as cuddly as a cactus/you have the charisma of a roadkill skunk/you're a coward/your philosophy is more stupider than Ayn Rand's/your face is more beaten up than Mickey Rourke's/you'd use a toddler as a human shield in order to save your own hide/you're so tedious and boring you'd put an insomniac to sleep/dod I also mention that you're a coward?"
"Hey is this a private roasting, or can I riff on him too?" a voice said as what appeared to be a red haired man wearing samurai armor that looked like it was made out of lightning appeared.
"Who the hell are you?" Kaze asked as the lightning-cladded man stretched.
"I'm Kamikaze, from DocHoliday's other story, which he's taking his sweet and oh-so-precious time to update. And I'm here for an obligatory cameo, and to make fun of the guy whose favorite bedtime story was Machiavelli's The Prince."
"You do realize that only five people who are probably reading this will understand that reference, right?"
"Eh, more power to them."
"You! Sword! Am I alive and Hokage in the author's other story?" Danzo demanded as Kamikaze chuckled to himself.
"Nope! You kicked the bucket off screen. You apparently died of either old age or a bowel obstruction. Either way is a fitting way for you to die," Kamikaze said as Kaze stared intently at his fellow spirit before speaking.
"Now that I think about it, you look like a complete rip off of me," he said as Kamikaze turned around with an annoyed look on his face.
"No, you're the one that ripped off me! I was already created before you were even a thought in the back of the author's mind!"
"But I'm still cooler!"
"Yeah, a wind zanpakuto for Naruto. That's really original!"
"But at least I still look badass in this coat and mesh shirt."
"Just because you look cool doesn't mean you're powerful then me!"
"Oh yeah? Then let's find out," Kaze said as he pulled his sword out and Kamikaze did the same, as both spirits said the magic word:
Kaze exploded in a burst of wind while Kamikaze was strucked by a column of lightning, wind, and water. Kaze emerged wielding his katana while Kamikaze… had a large storm cloud floating above him, with the sound of roaring dragons coming from jnside (causing Tsunade and Danzo to leave the area).
"Oh, sweet mother of Kaguya! What the hell was Rocker smoking when he came up with this?" Kaze said shock while Kamikaze yelled out his ultimate attack.
"Arashi no Seirei!"
Next Time - Reinforcements!