A/N Here is Chapter 63, hope you enjoy it given that it is rather long as I thought it would be.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or and of its characters, and I make no money off of this.
"As effective as this was, I could deal without that awful smell." Gin thought aloud, still bearing his usual grin as he waved the air in front of his face.
"That's the second time today I'm forced to agree with you. I'd like not to make a habit out of that." Ichigo said jokingly.
"That is enough you two. We now have a much to accomplish and so little time to do so." Aizen stated before he began to walk forwards.
Wonderweiss, from his position under the massive beast that had freed his masters, turned and nodded at the creature. In response, the gray hollow began to retreat back into the Garganta, allowing it to shut itself and leave the blond-haired arrancar in the fake city to join his comrades.
The Soul Reapers, however, didn't seem to pay any attention to that occurrence. They had their hands firmly placed on their swords and their eyes locked on the forms of Aizen, Ichigo, Gin, and Tosen, each of whom currently walked towards them. The four stopped upon coming to the forefront of the arrancar, none of them having drawn their blade but clearly prepared for a fight.
"It would seem that we are all here… that is good, for it will mean the end of this battle comes all the sooner." Aizen began.
He smirked contentedly as he stared at the forms of the captains and the masked warriors who had once been his comrades, pausing momentarily before he chose to speak once more.
"Now then are you all ready… members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, and you failed mock arrancar." Aizen questioned.
"Simply because you've decided to enter the battle Sosuke doesn't mean the chances of your defeat have lessened." Hitsugaya stated venomously, pointing the blade of his Bankai directly at the form of the brown-haired former captain.
However, his attempt at a meager threat seemed to elicit a chuckle out of the traitorous man who had thus far succeeded in besting the Soul Society at every turn.
"I will not have to lift a finger for this battle to come to a close. No, you will lose at the hands of those who followed me here." Aizen stated matter-of-factly, smugly closing his eyes as a certain orange-haired former substitute opted to step in front of him and face the captains.
At this, many of the captains and all of the vizards opted to glare and scowl heavily at the man that had chosen to step at the forefront of the opposing group. His blade had yet to be drawn, but the simple appearance of him standing in the way of Aizen's death was sickening.
"Bastard." Hiyori spat.
"So they really did get to you… I'm disappointed, Ichigo." Shinji said evenly.
"I was always of the impression that no matter how idiotic your actions there always existed a definitive sense of honor pushing you forwards. It appears that on this day I am proven incorrect." Byakuya stated coldly.
"That's where you're wrong Byakuya…" Ichigo began, drawing his blade and allowing it to rest in the palm of his relaxed hand.
"But at this very moment I don't have the time to explain to you why I'm doing what I'm doing, so I've decided to let you see it with your own eyes." Ichigo finished.
His spiritual pressure began to rise, an aura of dark crimson energy lightly surrounding his body and gradually growing with each passing moment. It became a practical storm of power shooting into the sky before his intent was fully revealed
"Pierce the Heart…" Ichigo began.
At this, each and every warrior fighting for the Thirteen Court Guard Squads stared with their eyes shot open, or in Yamamoto's case simply with his eyes open a normal degree. It had been one thing to consider that the boy had gained the powers of an arrancar, but the fact remained that seeing such a thing in action was a different matter entirely.
The dark-crimson energy burst forth, extending in all directions and generating a brief but powerful gust of wind. In its wake a small cloud of smoke shrouded the former substitute's appearance, but even so the captains and vizards alike seemed unable to take their eyes off of where his body currently stood in the air.
The smoke dissipated shortly thereafter, revealing the once pure human's release form for the very first time to the captains and their allies. His skin was extremely pale, the hair on his head now extended to the lower section of his back, his hands and feet were now clawed, black tribal markings surrounded his body, extending from his chest, and tuffs of red fur now scattered themselves on his wrists, ankles, and neck.
The one surprising thing to those who had seen the form before, however, was the fact that the characteristic horned skull mask was currently missing from his face, which in turn allowed for his pitch black sclera and golden irises to be seen by all.
"I thought you'd look a bit less human!" Kenpachi shouted from atop a nearby building. Unohana felt the urge to slap the back of his head, but a certain bubbly pink-haired child sat on the brute's neck, making it less than preferable to do so.
"Oh… sorry about that, I figured you wouldn't want to see the mask at first." Ichigo said, as if to himself.
A moment later, a quick flash of black, red-laced spiritual energy surrounded his head, immediately after which the characteristic mask of his released form made its appearance, horns and all.
The absolutely demonic, lifeless nature sent an involuntary shiver down the backs of most who had yet to see it, and even some who had. It simply appeared to be a walking avatar of death.
'Ichigo… you owe me big for this, I hope you realize that.' Kenpachi thought with a grin.
"Well then…" Ichigo trailed off, bringing the pitch-black zanpakuto that mimicked his Bankai in every way back and preparing to swing the mighty blade.
"Wonderweiss, start things off for us. The rest, you know what to do." Ichigo stated.
Upon the order being given, the purple-eyed arrancar flew across the air as if he were a mindless bullet, his aim dead set on the green-haired vizard that had done battle with Grimmjow several moments prior.
He crashed into her and continued to charge forward, breaking through building after building with each passing second.
"Mashiro!" Kensei exclaimed, after which he vanished in the blur of flash step to deal with the childlike hollow.
"That's two…" Ichigo counted off, after which he swung his zanpakuto forwards directly at the center of the captains random formation.
A powerful burst of wind shot forward, forcing the captains to scatter off to the sides lest they be slightly pushed back and put into an unfavorable position.
Rose, upon leaping towards the side of the attack, was quickly faced with the form of two Espada charging at him from each side. The blue-haired panther-like warrior from his flank and the one he knew to be the Sexta from his front.
He shot his golden whip-like weapon towards the charging form of Nel, successfully preventing her from impaling him and allowing an opportunity to escape should he be able to dodge the incoming strike of the blue-haired Espada.
The blonde-haired captain successfully dodged the swipe aimed at his back, but immediately after doing so and directly before he could in every way be deemed safe from danger, everything seemed to turn blue.
A powerful cero surrounded his body, the source of which showed itself to be none other than Starrk, who stood a short distance away with his right gun facing where the, now falling, former captain had stood.
"Rose!" Love exclaimed, immediately after which he called forth his mask and frantically charged to engage the group of Espada.
He was stopped, however, upon the green energy blade of the Cuarto bashing itself against his Shikai and momentarily bringing him to a halt.
"Gya!" Love grunted out, swinging his massive spiked weapon horizontally to rid himself of the hollow that had barred his path.
Ulquiorra gracefully jumped back in the air, leaving the exposed form of his opponent open and ready for the follow up attack of his comrades. Surely enough, Halibel appeared directly behind the vizards exposed back, impaling him through his chest and sending nearly half of her blade through his entire body.
She pulled back the shark tooth-like weapon an instant later, allowing the vizard to leap away from the sudden attack. However, doing so left his back turned yet again.
"Cero." Ulquiorra uttered, after which a wave of green spiraled towards the starfish-haired former captain.
Love turned briefly, his eyes widening beneath his mask before he was hit with the full force of the doom blast, subsequently after which he succumbed to his wounds and fell to the grounds beneath the city with smoke surrounding his body.
Komamura as well as Soifon, Hitsugaya, and Byakuya appeared via flash step an instant later with their blades raised and prepared to avenge their fallen comrades, or at the very least take advantage of the meager opening that presented itself.
The captains of the second and sixth advanced on Halibel while the foxlike officer and Hitsugaya turned their aggression to the Cuarto, each of which proved to be futile.
The blonde-haired Espada turned and blocked the two subsequent attacks of her opponents, after which she used sonido to give up her position as a combatant.
In her place, Ichigo appeared, the sight of which seemed to shock both of the attacking captains. With one slash of his blade, he cut Soifon down her body, quickly delivering a punch to her gut a moment later and cementing her less than graceful descent into the grounds below.
Byakuya quickly released his Shikai a moment later upon seeing the former Soul Reaper act, sending to myriad of petals towards the orange-haired Espada without delay.
Ichigo quickly turned and fired off a massive cero blast directly at the captain, which succeeded in decimating the petals and forcing the esteemed noble to use flash step to avoid the blast. The mass of red energy tore through the air, illuminating the sky for a short period of time before it died out.
Byakuya appeared on the grounds below after having dodged the doom blast, immediately after which the blades of Grimmjow were coming at him as if he were prey for a beast. The raven-haired captain quickly recalled his Shikai, having dodged the first round of attacks before he began to parry the next wave thereof.
However, as soon as he locked blades with the blue-haired Espada, two swords pierced through his body, each of which now protruded from his front.
Byakuya managed to turn his head and see, briefly, the form of the raven-haired woman who had taken down Kyoraku standing behind him, clearly being the owner of the two blades that had recently run him through. Without any hesitation, Risha pulled her blades out of the captain's chest, causing his limp body to fall to the ground.
Both Risha and Grimmjow then looked back to the skies, seeing the form of Ichigo with his blade slightly bloodied standing next to both Halibel and Ulquiorra, the falling forms of the foxlike captain and the white-haired prodigy slowly making their respective descents beneath their feet.
On the other side of things, however, Shinji, Hiyori, and Lisa had opted to make their move directly against Aizen, their position being behind the arrancar and their defeated comrades. Their masks were dawned, and their swords were held firmly in their hands, nothing currently standing in the way of them and their enemy but the air in the sky.
"Collapse, Sakanade!" Shinji exclaimed, shifting his zanpakuto into an extremely sharp blade with a large ring where the pommel had previously been.
In all the years that he had been the superior of Sosuke Aizen, never had he revealed to him the nature of his Shikai. Even if he were to be taken down a second later, all that needed to be done was to take him out in an instant with the singular advantage that he would gain. Leaving no explanation, he gave the word given that all they required was a singular strike.
"Go now!" Shinji shouted.
The two vizards began to rush towards the smirking form of the man who had essentially sentenced them to death. Their swords were primed, and second by second their blades came all the more closer to piercing his flesh.
"Did you really think the three of you can possibly put up a fight against me?" Aizen questioned.
The forms of his fellow traitorous captains disappeared in the shimmer of light directly before the eyes of the attacking vizards. A moment later, each felt a massive pain rip through their respective bodies.
Hiyori and Lisa seemed to erupt in a fountain of blood, their masks shattering as they fell to the grounds of the fake city to join the ranks of those who they fought with. Behind them stood a grinning teal-haired man, who turned to watch their blood stained bodies as their masks vanished midway to the surface of the earth beneath their feat.
"Sorry the both of you need to leave us." Gin commented as the weakened bodies of the two former lieutenants hit the ground with a loud thud.
Shinji, however, looked down, seeing a zanpakuto lodged in his stomach and currently protruding out of his front. With his teeth gritting together beneath his pharaoh-like mask, he turned his vision to see the form of Kaname Tosen standing directly behind him with both of his hands currently on his blade.
"Kaname… you bastard…" Shinji growled out, his mask disappearing as he spoke.
"From the sound of your voice, it really must bother you that I was the one to take you down." Tosen stated.
Without even allowing for the blond-haired former captain to give a response, the blind Soul Reaper brought his blade cleanly through his side, severing the rest of the flesh in-between Shinji's stomach and the side of his body.
His partly cut-in-half body slowly fell in the air, blood flowing upwards as he glared at the form of Sosuke Aizen, the man that seemed so close, so within the reach of his blade and yet so far.
The last thing he saw was the content smirk on the man's face before he felt a blade cut across his upper back, forcing his head to hang and his body to fall freely due to the gravity of his wounds.
All seemed quiet in the fake city, allowing the sound of the blond former captain's body hitting the rubble below to resound throughout the immediate, or at least it seemed that was the case.
With that, Aizen began to walk forwards, passing his two coconspirators and making his way towards the head captain. Gin and Tosen followed his lead a moment later, walking on either side of his flanks, and likewise the arrancar present also began to make their move, surrounding the head captain from all sides.
"I won't order your deaths…" Aizen began, addressing the masses of defeated Soul Reapers who were within the sound of his voice.
"I have ordered my Espada to target your wounds so that your powers will allow you to live, but you will watch for the time being as this phase of the conflict comes to a conclusion." Aizen finished, coming to a stop in the air across from the aged Soul Reaper who had yet to make his move. Those that followed him into the city halted their advance as well, each allowing the brown-haired former captain to finish his speech before any action was to be taken.
"Head captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, your subordinates lay defeated beneath your feet, and you are now the only captain left standing capable of opposing me. Due to your inaction, you've let the last hope of your victory slip away." Aizen stated.
"Do not mistake my not attacking you directly as inaction, Sosuke Aizen." Yamamoto said in his usual booming voice.
He drew the flaming blade known as Ryujin Jakka from its sheath, fire pouring forth and surrounding him with such intensity and velocity that his haori blew wildly in the resulting winds.
"You believe you can take on three of your former subordinates as well as the Espadas that I have brought with me? You're a fool if you believe yourself to be even remotely capable of such things." Aizen pointed out.
"It's as I said before, you are the fool for believing I have allowed an opening to slip past me…" Yamamoto began.
Abruptly, a multitude of powerful flaming columns burst forth from all directions across the immediate area, surrounding both Aizen and his forces in a blazing inferno. Many simply looked around the and gazed at the impressive display of power, however they knew very well it mattered very little what the head captain did at this point.
"This was crafty of you, old man. To think that you would be underhanded enough to prepare this confrontation as your subordinates and allies were cut down before your very eyes." Aizen said condescendingly.
"Yes, I really wouldn't think he'd sacrifice his subordinates so readily… and even now if he uses this to take all of us down, all of those who fought for the Soul Society will die with him." Gin thought aloud, looking at the grounds below to see many of the defeated warriors peering up at the pillars of fire.
"Do not pretend you are capable of judging me! You and all of your men will die here in this blazing inferno with me, for at all costs I will exterminate your evil. That is the will of the Soul Society." Yamamoto replied.
Yamamoto used flash step to appear in front of Aizen a moment later, his sword burning strong and prepared to cut down the arrogant former captain without delay.
However, just as it seemed the zanpakuto would cut the brown-haired man in half, a large pure-white hand halted the advance of the blade. What's more, the flames of Ryujin Jakka vanished in unison with the sword being stopped.
The head captain looked to see an abominable creature with pure white armor surrounding his body, very wide hips, shoulders that pointed upwards, two simple, black holes that seemed to take the place of his eyes, or at the very least conceal them from view. Five cleanly showing holes now made themselves present in his abdomen, and a hollow hole was currently located at the center of his stomach.
The creature abruptly punched Yamamoto with such force that he was sent flying into the ground, however the only rubble that erupted was a result of his feet being placed so that he would land with some semblance of grace.
"What cased Ryujin Jakka's flames to vanish?" Yamamoto wondered aloud.
He looked back up at the smirking form of Sosuke Aizen, who currently stood directly behind the blond-haired abomination that seemed to take away the power of his zanpakuto.
"Allow me to enlighten you. Your Ryujin Jakka is undoubtedly the most powerful zanpakuto in existence. Even if I were to come at you with the entire brute force of every Espada there is still the distinct chance of your victory. To deal with this, a special weapon was needed… his name is Wonderweiss." Aizen began.
The aged Soul Reaper's eyes widened slightly at the sight of the blazing pillars vanishing quickly around the immediate area. Seemingly all at once, the trap that he had set up while his subordinates were in combat disappeared.
"He is the only modified pure arrancar, and the name of his Resurrección is Extinguir. He has but one role and nothing else, and that is to rob you of your Ryujin Jakka." Aizen began.
"He was created for this one purpose. He sacrificed his speech, intelligence, memory, and reasoning to carry out this mission… he is the perfect weapon." Aizen continued.
"Aaaa…" Wonderweiss moaned out blankly.
"The overwhelming force that Wonderweiss has given his life to achieve is all the advantage that is needed to seal your fate… without your zanpakuto, I am afraid that not even you stand a chance against me and my forces." Aizen stated.
The head captain used flash step to appear across from his opponents in the air, his fists readied to illustrate he had far from given up.
"If you believe I will give in to your meaningless talk then you are highly mistaken." Yamamoto stated.
"I don't think you will surrender, that would simply be too easy. However, despite the strength you have shown in this battle, what are you compared to the power of my forces without your zanpakuto?" Aizen countered.
"I am astounded by your complete and utter lack of insight. I am the head captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads because since the beginning of the Soul Society not a single Soul Reaper has been born that is stronger than I." Yamamoto replied.
Each of the Espada, and all those outside of Aizen himself, brought their weapons to bear, surrounding the head captain from all sides but choosing inaction for the time being.
The aged Soul Reaper shifted his eyes around him, checking to see who he should attack first or who would make the first move on him.
Before he or any others chose to rush into battle, however, the resounding sound of a Senkaimon's appearance spread throughout the area.
Everyone, be they an injured Soul Reaper, the head captain, or an arrancar, looked towards the gate that currently stretched a massive horizontal distance, its wooden doors only just materializing.
The gates began to break apart, gradually revealing a group of ten people in total. Their appearances were rather discernable and their faces were uncovered. However, if their formation was any indication then their leaders were quite obvious.
"It's squad zero…" Unohana said in slight awe from her position atop a nearby building.
At the edge of the left side of the line of warriors stood a lean, tall man with black hair arranged in a ridiculous-looking hairstyle. His body was covered with a waist length white jacket along with a black hakama, a yellow sash around his waist, and standard-looking sandals. He currently sported a seemingly bored expression and could be seen chewing on a small stick.
To his immediate left stood a slender, well-endowed woman with purple hair, black lips, and two distinct swirl-shaped markings on her cheeks. She currently wore a standard Soul Reaper uniform beneath a white haori. She appeared rather bubbly in nature, currently having a warm-looking smile etched on her face.
To her left stood yet another woman, yet her appearance was drastically different. She appeared slender and youthful with fair skin and long, black hair with an ornament of a golden, crescent-moon shaped object with lines radiating outward. Her body was covered by a standard Soul Reaper's uniform like the woman at her side, and much the same she wore a white haori over top of it.
Next in the line leading up to the center was yet another man. He was what could only be described as a large broad man with a bald head, bushy eyebrows, and a long, black beard. He too wore a standard black Soul Reaper's uniform beneath a white haori, being the third in the line of people to do so.
At the end of the right side stood a set of individuals that were very clearly different than those at the other half.
It began with a man of decent height, short, pitch black hair, peach-colored skin, and an angry disposition. The one outstanding characteristic about him, however, was the fact that his eyes were each of a different color. The right was pure blue, and the left was a deep crimson.
He currently wore a pitch black haori overtop of a pure white shihakusho. Around his waist was a dark gray sash at the side of which sported the sheath of his zanpakuto, which appeared to be anything but standard in appearance. The grip itself was normal, but the guard was a golden spiked, collar-like object.
To his right stood another man wearing the same clothes and bearing the same disposition. Incidentally, their appearances were exactly the same, the only separating factor being what seemed to be their eye color and the general look of their zanpaktuo. His eye coloring being the exact opposite of the previous man, and his sword was completely standard-looking.
Next to him stood a decently endowed woman with a slim figure, peach skin, long, dark-red hair, and sky blue eyes. She, unlike any of the others, wore attire that was completely white, a white cloak covering a white skin-tight uniform that was revealed ever so slightly. The only exception to the singular color her look sported was the pitch black sheath of her sword, currently strapped to her left hip.
To her immediate right stood yet another man and the last in the group that was placed before the immediate center. He stood tall with a stout figure and a cocky disposition, if not condescending. He had short, slightly spiky, dark-brown hair, gray eyes, and wore the standard version of a Soul Reaper's uniform beneath a white haori. His zanpakuto, however, was strapped diagonally across his back.
The center of the group, however, was clearly the two who were presumably the leaders. They stood before the group by several steps, and the very air around them breathed authority. Those that stood at the center were both men, one standing at the forefront of the group and the other standing slightly off to his side.
'So that must be him…' Ichigo thought, glaring at the form of the man who stood at the front of the group from behind his horned mask.
The man that stood at the immediate front of the group was a fairy tall man with long, flowing brown-hair and a pair of matching brown eyes. He, unlike any of the others present, wore a pure white shihakusho beneath a royal-purple colored haori that had gold lining the sleeves and the outlying areas. He appeared to be rather content, if not cocky, a stark contrast to the other man who seemed to be his right hand.
Said man was about the same height as the presumed leader, sporting spiked, light gray hair that extended to the upper part of his back. His eyes were a dark gold, and his skin was tanned. If appearances were anything to go by, however, this man was rather old. His skin was slightly wrinkled, and his general demeanor breathed experience.
"That is enough Head Captain Yamamoto, you've done your part in this battle." The man wearing the purple haori stated snidely.
"Your highness, you should not be present on this battlefield." Yamamoto stated, sounding as if he were giving a stern talking to a child. In response, however, the brown-haired man seemed to simply laugh for a brief moment.
"You would call this a battlefield? I apologize head captain, but this can hardly be called a battlefield anymore. It is a graveyard, and would I not intervene at this time you would be joining the bodies of your subordinates." The man replied.
He cocked his head to the right, staring off into the distance at seemingly nothing. However, it was quickly made apparent that he had a reason for doing so, as yet another man phased into existence.
The man currently knelt on one knee, bowing his head respectfully to the purple-clad man. His skin was somewhat on the lighter side, his hair was short and black, his eyes were a dark purple, and his body type seemed to be somewhat muscular. However, he, unlike the others, possessed no zanpakuto to speak of.
"I should thank Takao here for relaying the information that you had been so thoroughly defeated, otherwise it'd really have been a drag to let you die out of your own pride." The man thought aloud.
"I merely do what I can, your highness." The now named Takao replied.
The presumed king turned his sights back towards the staring group of individuals, his eyes fixed on the head captain once more.
"I should say I am disappointed that you have all lost, but I suppose had you not been robbed of your Ryujin Jakka this fight would have turned out differently. Regardless, the captains have seemingly failed me, and as a result my hand is forced." The brown-haired man began.
"Bout damn time, we shoulda just done this in the first place." One of the dichromatic men at the edge of the row sneered.
"Shut your mouth Jiro, that was always the last resort and you damn well know that." The man with ridiculously styled raven-colored hair barked.
"Calm yourself Tenjiro. I am sure my brother has simply grown impatient." The now known brother stated.
"You two talk too much. Ichiro, keep him in check for cryin' out loud." The woman with a golden ornament decorating her hair demanded lazily.
"Now, now, Shutara, you shouldn't get involved in this conversation. It'll just be a waste of your time I'm afraid." The bubbly purple-haired woman commented sweetly.
"Listen to Kirio, she knows what she's talking about." The stout, cheerful looking man commented from his position at the right side of the line.
"Ichibei, please be silent. It is incredibly annoying to hear such a cheerful voice when we are about to engage in combat." The red-headed woman clad in white said calmly.
"All of you be silent!" The gray-haired man behind their leader shouted, immediately after which those in the group obeyed.
"You know, Nobu, you always seem to do that right before their chatter starts to really piss me off… I thank you for that." The king stated jovially.
"My king… what would you have us do?" The gray-haired man named Nobu inquired.
"Simple really. Kill all of them, and then destroy Karakura Town and everyone in it, right?" Ichiro questioned with a sickening grin.
Many of the captains, be they on the grounds below the city or within the group of arrivals themselves, had slightly widened eyes or a startled disposition after this was said. Even head captain himself seemed a bit taken aback by this statement.
"That's the gist of it, yes. If the town itself is destroyed and its population wiped clean off the face of the earth it will no longer be possible to create the Oken and thusly the royal realm will be out of reach for the next several centuries. That should serve as an example to those who try to reach the throne of a god." The king replied.
"It's interesting that you should say that…" Aizen began, bringing the attention of the group to himself for the first time since they're arrival.
Those present all turned their sights towards the, now cockily smirking, form of the brown-haired traitor. He took a few steps forwards, his hands in his pockets all the while, after which he chose to speak.
"You would call yourself a god? It strikes me as a bit comical." Aizen continued.
"Does it? Well I suppose if you find the truth comical then you're a man who is easily amused." The king countered.
"Your words, no matter what they may be or to whom they are directed, cannot hide the fact that you are nothing more than a coward. Perhaps you are a crafty coward, but within your actions lay the unmistakable mark of fear." Aizen stated.
"You would dare mock our king?!" Takao screamed, having jolted up from his bowing position to simply illustrate his anger.
In response, the brown-haired former captain chuckled, closing his eyes smugly before taking his arms out of his jacket pockets and positioning them for a nonchalant shrug.
"That pathetic excuse for a creature is no king of mine. In fact it goes to show how low your ambitions are that you would follow such a man." Aizen countered.
A vein seemed to pop in the head of the raven-haired man, but the king himself put a hand on his shoulder, forcing him to halt before anything was to actually become of his rage.
"That's enough Takao, he is goading you." The king lightly chided.
The man nodded in response, after which the purple-garbed man walked ahead of his subordinate to address his enemy in a more direct fashion.
"This is our first time meeting, and to be honest I can't say I'm the least bit surprised you love to talk." The brown-haired man thought aloud.
"Do I?" Aizen asked to no one in particular.
Many of those within the presumed royal guard began to stir slightly at the man's constant agitation and evident smugness. The only thing that kept several of them back was the simple fact of the matter that this was precisely what their enemy wanted.
"Actually, everything I have said to you thus far has had no impact on what is to come. No, it has been your own words that have given birth to the seeds of your own demise." Aizen began.
Abruptly, two distinct stops in the air between the two groups shattered as if they were glass mirrors. The eyes of most Soul Reapers present widened in shock as the forms of both Kyoraku and Ukitake, the first two captains to have gone down to their respective opponents appeared to be in perfect health with their Shikai active and their usual expressions etched on their faces.
"Well it seems that what we were told was true…" Kyoraku mused, resting his longer blade across his shoulders in a nonchalant fashion.
"Yes, it would appear so." Ukitake said in agreement.
The king himself was at a loss of words at the sight of the two captains, and for more reasons than one. Thanks to his subordinate, he had seen practically first-handed their defeats and subsequent descent to the grounds of the city. Yet here they stood in the air in front of him, appearing to be completely unharmed.
'But how…' The Spirit King thought, only to glare slightly at the smirking form of Aizen.
"What is the meaning of this?" The gray-haired man known as Nobu asked evenly.
"We might've heard a thing or two from your conversation just now… now to me it is a problem if you have no qualms about ending the lives of a hundred-thousand human souls. Our job isn't to act as executioners it's to act as protectors." Kyoraku stated.
"Well said. Above all else we stand for what we believe in, and if doing so makes you our enemy then so be it." Ukitake added.
"Traitors…" The two seemingly twins muttered with disdain.
"I don't really think we're betraying anything at the moment. If you're going to go against the very law of the Soul Society then we've really no choice but to stand in your way." Kyoraku replied, both his tone and expression being one of absolute seriousness.
'They have sided with the enemy… he has used his abilities to trick me into coming out in the open and even now he insults me by turning the very best of my subordinates against me… or are they the only ones?' The king wondered.
"I see… so this is what it has come to." He muttered to himself.
A certain brown-haired former captain, as well as those that knew all too well what was about to happen, had to contain a sheer content smirk at the sound of his words being uttered.
'Once again your fear makes you predictable.' Aizen thought.
"Men, it would seem that these captains have betrayed my faith and have sided with the enemy. It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are guilty of treason and must therefore be sentenced to death…" The king began.
"However, I do not believe for one second that they are acting in separation from the others. If two of them have betrayed us then I have no doubt in my mind the others are in line with them, therefore they are all traitors and should be dealt with as such. In the name of my father, and by the sovereignty of my crown, I hereby order the immediate arrest and condemnation of each and every captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads and their allies. Their lives no longer have any meaning to us, therefore do what you wish, take them dead or alive!" He roared.
Yamamoto's eyes widened fully at that declaration, as did those of each and every warrior that currently lay on the ground, unable to do anything at this current moment.
"Your highness, surely you can't…" Kirio began, only to be cut off.
"Are you questioning my decision, former Captain Hikufune? You would do well to remember that as our newest member it wouldn't take much to assume you sympathize with their treachery." The king said authoritatively.
The purple-haired woman hung her head slightly and her eyes gained a saddened look. Several of those around her gave her a concerned look, but all the same she would give the reply she knew she had to give.
"N-no… forgive me, milord." Kirio replied.
"So Kenji, you want us to take out the captains first or kill the Espada?" One of the members asked.
It had been the man that had said very little, if anything, since the group had arrived in the fake city. He still held a cocky look, but it seemed to have more evidence of malice in it than prior.
"Don't address our king so flippantly Orochi, otherwise I may just have gained an excuse to rip your head off." Ichiro stated.
"Brother, do not start." Jiro calmly chided.
"To answer your question it doesn't matter to me at all who you kill, just as long as they meet their end. All the same Karakura Town must be purged as well, therefore I will take care of destroying the pillars they have set up while the lot of you take down the captains." The now known Kenji replied uncaringly.
Abruptly, his hand reached for his left hip, after which he pulled out an immaculate-looking sword. Its grip was a holy-white, its guard a bright gold, and the blade itself was the most flawless of metals.
He placed the sword out in front of his body, releasing his grip and allowing the blade to float in the air, vertically with the tip facing the grounds of the fake city. A moment later the purple-clad man entered a meditative stance, his legs now being crossed and his brown-eyes closing.
"Do not fail me…" Kenji said firmly, after which a circular barrier of pure white energy surrounded him.
His body was unable to be seen, and the sphere itself seemed to lightly swirl around with energy. Several members of the royal guard looked blankly at the energy mass, but a distinct few looked at it with a bloodthirsty smirk.
"Now we can get this part started!" Ichiro exclaimed, yanking his sword out of its sheath within an instant.
The raven-haired man cocked the blade back, zooming down towards the ground of the city directly at the bodies of several captains, among whom were Hitsugaya, Byakuya, and Komamura.
He didn't even make it half way towards the ground before the form of a horned demon-looking hollow blocked his path. They clashed swords briefly, but an instant later a powerful kick sent him flying half-way across the city.
His body crashed through building after building, sending smoke and dust flying into the skies above his repeated collisions. The structures themselves seemed to collapse, and many simply looked at the turn of events with either confusion, amusement, or a sense of dispassion.
"What an idiot." Orochi commented snidely, closing his eyes smugly and crossing his arms.
"Oh brother…" Jiro commented, after which he disappeared in the blur of flash step to go after the man who had just acted as a human bowling ball.
The performer of the kick himself appeared across the group of the zero division members a moment later, his horned mask staring at them without any emotion or intent.
"Anyone else feel like trying their luck?" Ichigo asked rhetorically.
"Actually I believe I should thank you…" Takao said, placing a hand on his chin to illustrate a sense of thought.
"I'd like to know the name of the man that so easily caught Ichiro off guard… who are you, stranger?" Shatura inquired, her eyes examining the demonic creature in an analytical fashion.
"He is none other than Ichigo Kurosaki…" Takao stated, somewhat to the surprise of many present.
"That thing is Ichigo Kurosaki? I thought the kid was a human turned Soul Reaper." Tenjiro exclaimed.
"Evidently he gained the powers of an arrancar through an unknown means… it really doesn't matter. He's the enemy, so he dies." Takao commented.
"You point out the obvious my friend." Ichibei stated.
"Sorry great 'Monk of Perception', I'll do my best to stop that nasty habit of mine." Takao replied, rolling his eyes slightly.
"It doesn't take one as perceptive as I to know what is obvious and what is not." Ichibei replied jokingly.
"So that's Ichigo Kurosaki… I thought he'd be taller." The red-headed woman said idly.
"And I thought that guy I just kicked across the city would be a bit stronger. Sadly we're both disappointed it seems." Ichigo shot back.
The red-headed woman seemed to release a slight chuckle in response, after which she just smirked predatorily at the orange-haired Espada from across the battlefield.
"I think Katsumi found her opponent…" Orochi commented with what seemed to be a high amount of amusement.
"Oh yes… I'm going to thoroughly enjoy playing with you Ichigo Kurosaki." The now known Katsumi said, her tone being one that sent an involuntary shiver down the backs of most who heard it.
'Oh my…' Unohana thought, having recognized that tone of voice that equated fighting with physical pleasure.
'Over my dead body!' Tiburon shouted within Halibel's inner world.
'That makes two of us.' Halibel said in agreement, her tone possessing a noticeable edge.
"Alright then… I guess if we're really gonna have to fight this out, who do you want to go a few rounds with Jushiro?" Kyoraku questioned.
"Mind if I take him on? It's been a while since I've even had to use a blade." Kirio said cheerfully.
"Be my guest." Kyoraku replied.
He turned to look at his long-time friend for his reaction, after which he received a brief nod before both he and the purple-haired woman vanished in the blur of flash step. Once that was done, Kyoraku turned his sights onto the man who had been chewing on a slim wooden stick, his eyes filled with mild amusement as they usually were.
"Hey Tenjiro, how 'bout giving it a go for old time's sake?" Kyoraku offered.
The raven-haired man released a slight chuckle, after which he tossed the stick to the grounds below and vanished in the blur of flash step just as Ukitake and Hikifune had done moments ago.
'He always was never one to make small talk…' Kyoraku thought, after which he followed suit.
A moment later, Ichigo turned his sights towards the form of the aged head captain, to see him, for the first time, speechless. Upon seeing this, he quickly used sonido to appear directly in front of the expressionless Soul Reaper, his own in fact being hidden behind his horned mask.
"So… what is it that you're going to do old man? This is the last chance you have at making your choice. Are you going to sit down and die alongside everyone else, or are you going to fight for what I know you believe is right?" Ichigo pressed.
"Master Genryusai, do not listen to his words. His majesty will not order your arrest or death for you have served faithfully for centuries. Your subordinates will be arrested and some executed for their actions, yes, but you are still needed to lead." Nobu stated from his position at the center of the zero division, or at least what was left of them in the current location.
The head captain turned up to face the gray-haired man, after which he looked back towards Ichigo, his eyes somewhat open and showing that deep down inside of his very being his heart weighed heavily on him.
'Come on old man… I know you're not like this, don't make me your enemy.' Ichigo thought.
"You are right… I am still needed to lead…" Yamamoto began, somewhat to the surprise of many present.
"Then finish off Ichigo Kurosaki and be done with this business." Orochi said uncaringly.
The head captain, however, simply looked to the skies with a raised brow and a curious expression. This, in turn, confused the remaining members of the royal guard.
"You were under the impression that I was speaking of joining your massacre? Don't be so foolish, boy!" Yamamoto bellowed.
"I am Genryusai Shingekuni Yamamoto, the head captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads and the strongest of the Soul Reapers! It is my duty to protect and to lead these captains and those that ally themselves with the Soul Society, and therefore I will not stand for this order!" Yamamoto shouted.
Across the grounds of the city, those who heard his words smirked slightly at the declaration. Though they were unable to do anything in their current conditions, be they vizards or Soul Reapers, in spirit they were all behind the head captain full force.
'Stubborn old geezer…' Hiyori thought, smirking to herself though she was unable to see anything that was currently going on.
"If that is how it must be… then I must ask for forgiveness… because now it falls to me to end your life." Nobu replied.
"You are certainly welcome to try, but I have no intention of being defeated by you." Yamamoto stated.
The gray-haired man looked at the head captain expressionlessly for a brief moment, after which he seemed to nod in understanding. With that done, he quickly turned to one of his presumed subordinates, his expression still unreadable.
"Takao, I will be fighting Master Genryusai myself… I plan to do so with honor, and while I expect my opponent to do so as well, I have my doubts Sosuke Aizen will see fit to keep it that way. Do you understand what I am saying?" Nobu questioned.
The young-looking black clad man raised a curious brow and dawned a confused expression, however a moment later he seemed to obscurely point his finger towards something off across the battlefield.
"I take it you mean him?" Takao inquired, not even bothering to look at where he was pointing.
"If it's not too much of a bother, take care of it will you?" Nobu respectfully requested.
An instant later the sword-less member of the royal guard snapped his fingers together, after which across the battlefield a pure white sphere of energy surrounded none other than Wonderweiss.
No one was able to do a thing as the energy came into existence and seemingly trapped the child-like arrancar turned abomination. Surprisingly nothing could be heard from within the sphere. It was as if the inhabitant of the apparent prison wasn't even bothering to attempt an escape.
"There you go." Takao said somewhat cheerfully.
"You have my thanks. Please do your best to make sure our fight is not interrupted." Nobu replied.
"You've got a lot of requests for me today…" Takao commented dryly.
The gray-haired man seemed to only release a small grunt as if to say that was true, after which both he and Yamamoto vanished in the blur of flash step, leaving the rest to their own devices.
"Guess I'll go take care of that guy Ichigo sent across the city…" Starrk thought aloud, after which he used sonido to presumably head towards the two brothers.
Immediately after this, both the red-headed woman and the man who had previously acted as a scout stepped forwards, their eyes dead set on the demonic form of Ichigo in his Resurrección.
"What are you doing, Katsumi?" Takao questioned in an annoyed fashion.
"I was about to ask you the same question." She replied.
"Leave Ichigo Kurosaki to me. He has disrespected our king and will be met with the consequences." Takao said with conviction, glaring at the Primera as he spoke.
"You believe I am incapable of giving him his punishment?" Katsumi inquired, only to receive a slight condescending snort of laughter.
"I have no doubt in my mind you will, but to put it nicely you're a lecherous harlot who'd just take her sweet time. Allow me to end his existence quickly." Nobu answered. If anything he seemed to be honest in his response.
The red-haired woman, however, turned her vision fully towards her comrade and gave him a glare that would freeze water. Incidentally said comrade made no move to meet her gaze, as if he knew it was happening and yet knew from experience it'd simply be best not to look.
"Would you please repeat that for me? Not the entire thing, just the part where you called me a… what was it again?" Katsumi pressed.
Nobu shut his eyes for a moment and turned to give his reply, only to stop upon a call sounding out from their enemies.
"Sorry to break up such a wonderful display of teamwork…" A voice called out from across the battlefield.
The two members of the zero division took their eyes off of each other and turned to the source of the voice, only to find the blonde-haired Tercera and the Espada known as Ulquiorra standing directly in front of Ichigo, their eyes set directly onto the both of them.
"…but I'm afraid he has better things to do than fight the likes of you." Halibel continued.
"Tch, and our arguing would constitute as a better allocation of time than dealing with the likes of you." Nobu scoffed.
"If you see that as the case then by your own logic simply defeat us and move on to arguing over who between the two of you will get the opportunity to fight Ichigo Kurosaki." Ulquiorra pointed out.
The raven-haired man gave off an annoyed sigh, after which he turned towards his comrade once more. She, however, seemed to be staring at the two Espada, as if deciding who she would prefer to face.
"Alright… which one do you want, Katsumi?" Nobu questioned, seeing the fact that she was already analyzing.
"I will take the female. She seems stronger and perhaps I will obtain some form of fun in our confrontation." Katsumi replied.
Without saying another word or checking with her fellow squad member, she vanished in the blur of flash step, heading towards some remote part of the city and expecting her opponent to follow. Surprisingly enough, Halibel did so without even a moment's hesitation.
'She seems determined… can't really blame her I guess. Even I want to see what her new form can do.' Ichigo thought.
"Guess that makes the two of us opponents, Ulquiorra Cifer." Takao stated.
"Yes, it would seem so. Lead the way." The Cuarto requested, after which both he his opponent vanished in the static blur of sonido.
"Kaname… I believe you have a certain friend who needs to be dealt with, correct?" Aizen questioned, turning his head slightly towards the form of the blind man.
Despite the fact that a blindfold was over his eyes and despite the fact that even if it weren't present he would be unable to see, his head and useless eyes were directed straight at the form of one specific man. They had been since the arrival of the royal guard, and if it served as any indication they likely wouldn't leave his form until one of the two lay dead on the ground.
He currently stared at the form of the tall brown-haired man with gray eyes and a zanpakuto strapped on his back within a sheath. Incidentally the very same man had been staring at the dark-skinned former captain as well, however not for the reason that the man's eyes seemed fixed on himself.
"Yes, Lord Aizen." Tosen replied.
"Oh, so you still haven't let that go? Alright then I guess I'll have to put you out of your misery." Orochi stated.
"My misery will dissipate the moment a sword pierces through your heart. Therefore in a way you will release me from my hatred and grief. I have no intention of allowing you to live, even if I must give up my own life to make sure you die." Tosen replied, his tone being on that possessed a slight edge.
"Tch, we'll see about that." Orochi scoffed.
Both Soul Reapers vanished a moment later, disappearing at the exact same time and evidently heading to one collective location. Aizen himself stared off into the distance with a blank expression on his face, however his thoughts seemed plagued.
'You have served me faithfully Kaname. Whatever happens I know you will find the peace you have sought for so many years on this day.' Aizen thought.
"Ichibei, what are you going to do for the time being?" The woman sporting a golden-ornamented crescent moon abruptly inquired.
The large raven-bearded man seemed to hum in thought for just a moment, after which he cross his legs and opted to sit down in the air over the very position he had appeared.
"It is important to know when one must act and when one must observe. I will be of use when the time comes." Ichibei solemnly replied.
The black-haired woman gave a small nod of understanding, after which she turned her sights back across the battlefield. Her eyes traveled over the forms of the remaining Espada as well as Aizen and his fellow conspirator.
"Hey, squinty-eyes… your Gin Ichimaru, right?" Shutara questioned.
The teal-haired former captain pointed a finger at himself inquisitively, all the while maintaining the same characteristic grin he had become known for.
"You wouldn't be talking to little ol' me would you?" Gin questioned cheekily.
"If you're Gin Ichimaru then your question answers itself." Shutara replied.
The teal-haired former captain released a slight chuckle, after which he rubbed the back of his head in a bashful manner.
"I suppose you've got me there… and that must mean I'm the one you want to go a few rounds with." Gin mused.
"Naturally." Shutara commented.
"Well by your appearance I know you to be Senjumaru Shutara, one of the five palace holders in the royal realm. I should say I'm honored, but for some reason I don't think the feeling is mutual." Gin stated.
The jovial former captain simply shrugged his shoulders in a nonchalant fashion, after which he vanished from sight. The Great Weaver Guard followed shortly thereafter, leaving only few where once there were many.
"Now that everyone is situated…" Aizen began, turning to face the remainder of his forces outside of Ichigo.
Currently, Nelliel, Grimmjow, and Risha were left standing and in near-perfect condition. Each stared at the brown-eyed man with their full attention, simply waiting for their next order.
"The three of you are to defend the pillars that keep the Tenkai Kecchu activated. Very soon it is likely that whatever the Spirit King is doing within that barrier will be directed at them. Under no circumstances are you to allow those pillars to fall, no matter the cost." Aizen said.
The three arrancar nodded in understanding, after which they vanished in the static buzz of sonido, heading towards where they were ordered. Currently, every piece was on the board, and the final stage was set. This would be it, the culmination of years of planning, of provisions made to that plan in the wake of the unforeseen.
"Everything appears to be in place." Aizen mused, turning back to stare at the proclaimed Monk of Perception.
The bald-headed man quirked an eyebrow at the words of the former captain, illustrating that he seemed confused.
"Yet here the both of you stand." Ichibei commented.
"Guess it isn't the right time just yet…" Ichigo replied, smirking beneath his mask at the sight of the bearded-man's surprise.
"Hahaha… I see, well said Ichigo Kurosaki." Ichibei conceded.
Abruptly, three separate spikes of energy could be heard in three distinct areas of the fake city. They seemed to sprout up in the vicinity of the three pillars, at first making it seem as if a sudden explosion of energy had done little more than miss its mark. However, upon a second glance, an energy-based attack seemed to be the farthest thing from what had happened.
Where each of these sudden bursts of spiritual pressure erupted, a white rift of ethereal energy seemed to burst open. They appeared as if they were the gates to an unknown realm, but what that realm contained no one would ever know.
'The fact that whatever this is isn't something that can instantly destroy the pillars is good… that at least gives us plenty of time before those three are overwhelmed.' Ichigo thought.
First Pillar: Nelliel
The green-haired beauty stared directly at the white rift that had torn open within the air before her very eyes. Her lance stood at the ready, prepared to strike down whatever was to venture out of the ethereal portal.
For a while, she simply stared and stared, waiting for something to happen. It seemed nothing would, but she was nowhere near naïve enough to think this was the case.
Abruptly, a shimmering echo could be heard from the portal, immediately after which several being seemed to walk out of the white, ethereal light.
Nel's eyes fixed on her soon to be opponent, taking note at first of their numbers, at least twenty in total. However, their numbers seemed to be the last thing on her mind upon getting a full look at the creatures.
They appeared to be all male, but that was the only feature that was distinguishable about them. They were covered with a white, shell-like substance and currently carried nothing but a standard zanpakuto, each carrying it within their right hand. The most disturbing aspect of the entire ordeal was the simple absence of anything on their bodies. They lacked eyes, discernable skin, hair, a mouth, and seemed to give off no energy whatsoever. It was as if they weren't really there in front of her, and yet she could see them with her very eyes.
The beings prepared their swords and began to charge forth, their abrupt action breaking Nel out of her thoughts. Within an instant, she brought back her own lance, after which she opted to start things off with a show of force.
"Lanzador Verde!" Nel exclaimed, launching her lance forward.
The violet energy began to circle the weapon as it spiraled in the air towards the approaching group of combatants, yet the creatures didn't give an inch.
It seemed, however, that upon the lance coming into contact with the group that their bravery in the face of the attack was little more than an inability to run away. Almost all at once, the white being shattered upon the lance barreling through their ranks, not a single member of their group left standing.
'That seemed too easy…' Nel thought to herself as the lance rushed back into the palm of her hand.
The fragments of the white-shelled soldiers turned to dust a moment later, scattering in the wind and floating off to some unknown part of the city. However, the ethereal light of the rift began to shine more so than before, alerting the green-haired beauty that this was far from over.
'What the hell is this?' Nel wondered, glaring slightly at the portal.
Second Pillar: Grimmjow
The blue-haired Espada stared at the rift with a bored expression on his face as the light continued to shine brightly.
He had just finished easily dispatching the first group of faceless drones and it took him no more than an instant. In truth, he hoped they would be stronger despite the fact that it'd have made his job all the more easy had they been as week as they were.
However, upon the shimmering sound of being exiting the portals sounding off one again, a bloodthirsty grin spread itself across his face.
At least forty or so of the white soldiers poured forth, taking the same formation as prior and wasting no time before they began to charge once more.
'Not a bad start… but it'll take a hell of a lot more than forty to even put up a fight.' Grimmjow thought, extending the palm of his hand and charging a crimson cero.
Third Pillar: Risha
The raven-haired fraccion stared down the approaching group of faceless warriors emotionlessly, shortly after which she vanished in the static blur of sonido.
She appeared directly behind the group a moment later, an instant after which the group in its entirety shattered like a glass mirror.
Risha retracted her swords a moment later, allowing the sound of dust whirling in the wind to serve as indication that they had been dealt with.
Once more she walked back towards the pillar, yet again facing the ethereal portal in expectation on what was to come. This pattern would undoubtedly repeat itself for a hundred or even a thousand more times, but each and every occurrence would meet the same result.
With that, she once again willed the blades to burst forth from her forearm, her eyes still fixed on the white glow that had once again started to erupt from the portal.
Kyoraku vs. Tenjiro
"Brings back old memories, doesn't it?" Kyoraku thought aloud.
Across from him the raven-haired man known for his healing abilities and flash step proficiency gave a slight shrug of his shoulders.
"Guess I'd be lying if I said it didn't… especially given the circumstances." Tenjiro replied, after which he unsheathed the zanpakuto that had been placed within a sheath alongside his left hip.
"Then I take it you're taking this fight seriously?" Kyoraku questioned seriously.
The member of the zero division smirked slyly at the inquiry, after which he released a slight chuckle.
"Well it looks like I have to…" Tenjiro replied.
At this, the brown-haired captain of the eight began to chuckle himself, though why he did so seemed to be known only to himself.
"Good… glad to hear it." Kyoraku though aloud.
Ukitake vs. Hikifune
"Does this spot suit your tastes, Kirio?" Ukitake asked respectfully.
"I don't see why it wouldn't… after all, it is a place to fight so the location doesn't really matter." Kirio replied.
She took her sword from its sheath a moment later, standard in appearance and clearly not released in any manner. A moment later, the blade of said zanpakuto was pointed at the white-haired captain, a signal that their fight was about to begin.
"However… given that this is going to be a serious fight, I suppose you asked for that reason." Kirio continued.
"Naturally…" Ukitake replied, giving off a sly smirk as he readied his blades.
Gin vs. Shutara
The two combatants entered existence once more, each standing in the air across from one another with their eyes fixed on their respective opponent.
"You know when you asked me to be your opponent I was a bit surprised." Gin stated, breaking the brief period of silence that had taken over.
"Really? It somewhat surprises me that you would say that…" Shutara replied.
"Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against you, but I had high hopes of getting to see Ichigo fight and now it seems I won't get to do that." Gin explained, his grin slightly increasing in size as he spoke.
The raven-haired woman quirked a curious brow at his words as if to show she were slightly confused. Her head turned to look off into the distance, facing the direction that the former substitute was allegedly located.
"Seems to me that Ichigo Kurosaki is remaining stationary for the moment… I wonder why that is." Shutara thought aloud, after which she turned to face the teal-haired man with a smirk evident on her features. Said former captain, in response, began to chuckle slightly at the words of his opponent in an amused fashion.
"Who knows?" Gin replied with a shrug, causing the smirk of the squad zero member to grow.
"All the same we should get this started." Shutara mused, after which she drew her zanpakuto from its sheath. This action, however, caused the forever grinning former captain to raise an eyebrow given that something was currently amiss.
"You're Senjumaru Shutara, the Great Weave Guard, right? Given that, it appears that your fighting style is missing a few limbs." Gin stated.
"Oh? Sorry to have forgotten how I must characteristically fight." The woman replied cheekily.
As if on cue, four skeletal arms erupted from her back, extending outwards and acting as additional limbs.
"I suppose I asked for that one…" Gin though aloud.
He drew his own zanpakuto a moment later, taking the stance he traditionally did whenever he was about to engage an opponent in battle. Within a moment later, both combatants then charged at each other, thus beginning their battle.
Tosen vs. Orochi
The former captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads stood in solemn silence across the black-clad man who wore the haori of the zero division. Only one sound could be heard, and that was the slightest hint of the wind displacing their respective garments.
The brown-haired man smirked evilly at his opponent, his arms crossed and the general aura he gave out being one of condescension.
"Never in a thousand years did I expect to ever see or hear your name again…" Orochi thought aloud.
"From the sound of your voice it seems as if you truly believe what you say." Tosen commented.
"Of course I do, hell I thought after I killed her that…" Orochi began, only to be cut off.
"You speak so nonchalantly about something so serious?!" Tosen roared, surprising the brown-eyed man a great deal.
"She was perfectly innocent, a beacon of light in a world so dark, and yet you killed her over a petty argument?! What's worse is that you were protected by the organization the both of you served!" Tosen continued.
He drew his zanpakuto a moment later, pointing the tip of the blade directly at his opponent. The blade, despite the evident rage of its wielder, did not shake. It did not so much as move as its tip continued to hold steadily aimed at the black-clad man's heart.
"Even so I refused to allow such injustice to occur! Today you will answer for your crimes, and though I may have very well damned myself to get to this point I will avenge her death." Tosen finished.
For another period of time, silence began to take over, Tosen staring at his opponent with a stern expression hiding one of pure rage, and the zero squad member looking at the former captain with something that could only be described as disbelief. Abruptly, however, the silence was broken at the sound of a distinct chuckle.
"Hahaha… hahahaha…" Orochi laughed out, causing the dark-skinned man across from him to release an audible grunt of anger and frustration.
"You seem to be a bit confused… so I'll tell you what really happened. Yeah, I killed her, I did it once and I'd do it again actually, but it wasn't over a petty argument…" Orochi began.
"I guess I should say that this was around the time I became a member of the Royal Guard… and when that happened I was told that I had to pack up and leave, just like that. Now you can naturally guess that meant I had to leave her in the Soul Society. However, something really strange happened before I got the job… and that was the fact that she had asked me for a separation, to be released. Do you know why?" Orochi questioned.
Tosen stood in silence, his sword still not moving but his thoughts in conflict between whether he should charge through the air and take his chances or allow the despicable man across from him to continue speaking. Sadly, his body seemed not to allow him to do the former.
"I had killed a Soul Reaper over some stupid dispute… I forgot what it was about, but I'm pretty sure he just disobeyed my orders so I thought nothing of it. She didn't seem to think it was something insignificant, and she said that was the reason she wanted me to release her was because I was too cold-hearted. But at the same time even if I didn't want her she was still mine… so I did the humane thing and released her." Orochi continued.
"If you wanna hear something really funny I didn't even find out that the two of you were such close friends until after I killed her. After I did I just assumed she was lying to me and simply wanted to be bonded with you. In hindsight it was definitely the right decision." Orochi finished.
No sooner than those words left his mouth did the form of his opponent appear directly in front of him with his sword raised high and prepared to cut off his left arm.
Quickly, he leaped backwards into the air, grabbing the hilt of his zanpakuto and drawing it from its position across his back before he stared down the man who had nearly gotten first blood in their engagement.
'Damn… I really didn't think he had it in him to move that quick.' Orochi thought. He had never been the most proficient of users in flash step, but all the same he was no slouch.
"You're a fool… not just a murderer but a fool." Tosen began, breaking the brown-haired man out of his thoughts.
"What the hell are you babbling about?" Orochi grumbled in a hoarse voice.
"She did not wish to be bonded with me… she simply wished to spread justice. That was her reason for joining the Thirteen Court Guard Squads and that was her reason for living! A simple-minded fool such as yourself wouldn't understand the concept of justice and therefore my words likely fall on deaf ears, but listen well for I will not repeat myself. If she had told you what her reason for wanting the separation was, then she spoke the truth." Tosen stated.
"Look, I don't think she was telling the truth, and to be honest what's done is done. The only thing that matters at this moment is our fight, because that's the present, and I suggest you start paying more attention to it, otherwise you've got no shot at beating me." Orochi replied.
Yamamoto vs. Nobu
The head captain stood strong, the sheath of his sword held tightly in his left hand by its center. Though the blade no longer held the flames it once did, it seemed the aged Soul Reaper had no intent of casting it aside for the time being.
"Master Genryusai… now that we are alone I want your honest answer. Why are you fighting me and by extension the king we have both sworn loyalty towards?" The gray-haired man questioned.
"It is ironic that in the same collection of words in which you request the truth you spout out a blatant lie. Neither of us has sworn loyalty towards the current king, you follow him out of respect for his father, for the first great ruler of the Soul Society, while I did so because I promised to protect Seishin's legacy." Yamamoto began.
"Forgive me, but your words contradict themselves. His son and our ruler are a part of his legacy." Nobu pointed out.
"That may very well appear to be the case… but at the same time I have always viewed the greatest of his achievements to be the creation of the Soul Society itself, of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, and of the academy that young men and women attend to learn the ways of the Soul Reapers. The orders the royal guard were just given are simply those which I cannot abide by, therefore even if it leads to my last breaths I will fight to protect what I have always been meant to stand for." Yamamoto replied.
The gray-haired man hung his head slightly as a result of hearing the words of the greatest warrior the Soul Society had ever seen. It seemed that on some level he understood, but at the same time he realized they wouldn't ever see eye to eye, at least not during this battle.
"Then it would seem that puts us on opposite sides… never in a thousand years would I have thought I'd raise my sword at an enemy I once saw, and still see, as my mentor and as the greatest warrior I have ever seen. But if I must, then so be it." Nobu stated, after which he ripped his sword out of its sheath.
The sword itself appeared much the same as the head captains in that the blade was half pitch-black steel and half standard-looking steel. However, the guard itself appeared to be a bronze x-shaped object with endings that curved upwards.
Yamamoto responded in kind, withdrawing his own zanpakuto though flames did not burst forth. He cast the purple sheath of his weapon to his side, after which he briefly took a combat stance, and lunged at his opponent.
Remote Part of the City…
"Ugg… my frickin' head." Ichiro grumbled as he lifted his body out of a pile of rubble.
He looked to his immediate front, seeing the columns of buildings that had collapsed due to his recent trajectory. It seemed he was quite far away from his original position, but at the moment his head hurt a bit too much to care.
"You really should have been more careful…" Jiro commented, phasing into existence in the skies above his brother's current position.
"Oh bite me, it isn't like I expected him to do anything. Hell, I thought he'd jump at the opportunity for us to finish off some of the captains given he's on that smug bastards side." Ichiro replied.
The raven-haired dichromatic man used flash step a moment later, coming to his brother's side in the air before he spoke once more.
"Anyway, did you come all the way here to find me, or…" Ichigo began, only to be cut off by the sound of sonido echoing throughout the immediate area.
Both of the two siblings turned with slightly widened eyes to gaze upon the form of the pistol-wielding Espada that had come to a stop across the air.
"Sorry to interrupt but it seems like I'm going to be your opponent." Starrk stated.
The once surprised eyes of the two brothers seemed to give off a sense of amusement at the words of the brown-haired Espada.
"Really, you're going to take down the both of us?" Ichiro asked rhetorically.
"That's what he said you dumbass!" Lilynette shouted, causing great sense of confusion to wash over the two zero division members.
The two men looked oddly at the left pistol, their eyes giving off a sense of loss upon hearing the childlike voice.
"Jiro… did that pistol just talk to me…" Ichiro asked blankly, his eyes still fixed on the left gun.
"Yes, I believe it called you a 'dumbass' as well." Jiro responded evenly.
"Good… I thought I was going insane for a second. Hey, wait a minute! What the hell did you say to me you stupid ass pistol?!" Ichiro exclaimed.
"You heard me!" Lilynette barked right back.
'You've got to be kidding me…' Starrk grumbled in thought.
"Brother, calm down already. I seem to recall from Takao's transmission that this Espada absorbed his fraccion in order to release his blade. While I didn't know the pistol could speak, it benefits us if you simply focus on the fight." Jiro lightly chided.
"Focus on the fight? Hell, most of the fighting will be between you and me over who gets to go one on one with him. You know how I feel about tag teams, after all." Ichiro said.
"The both of you are going to be fighting us… but I have no intention of holding back, even for a second." Starrk stated, breaking up the conversation between the two men.
Abruptly, the air around the immediate area began to grow thick and the ground began to crack below where the three combatants stood in the air. The spiritual pressure of the Segunda continued to rise, higher and higher with seemingly no limit.
'What the hell is going on?' The two wondered, light beads of sweat making their way down their respective cheeks.
A coating of pitch-black spiritual energy with a blue outline began to surge around the form of the brown-haired man, whipping about in the air in an uncontrolled fashion. The very feel of the energy was monstrous, and eventually it completely obstructed their opponent from view.
'This spiritual pressure… what kind of technique is he using?' Jiro wondered.
Halibel vs. Katsumi
"Does this location suffice for our battle?" Katsumi asked upon coming to a stop somewhere near some indiscernible section of the city.
"I have no complaints." Halibel replied.
The red-headed woman began to glare slightly at the Tercera, for a reason that was unknown to the object of the woman's evident annoyance.
The blonde-haired beauty raised an inward brow of curiosity, as she would simply not allow herself to show confusion or anything similar in such a critical battle.
"You seem upset with me for some reason and yet our battle has yet to begin." Halibel commented, eliciting a slight agitated huff from the blue-eyed Soul Reaper.
"Don't take it too personally, but I do not believe you and I are on the same level." Katsumi replied.
"Oh?" Halibel questioned evenly.
"Yes… I have high expectations for Ichigo Kurosaki, but it seems I must go through you before I am able to do so. It's just such a bother…" Katsumi thought aloud, closing her eyes in an uncaring fashion and shrugging her shoulders slightly.
The young-looking Soul Reaper opened her eyes a moment later, allowing her hands to fall to her sides once more as she saw the form of her opponent. However, upon seeing very clearly a smirk making its way onto the blonde woman's face, her expression quickly turned to one of curiosity.
Abruptly, a very powerful, very dark aura of spiritual pressure began to seep into the air. The very magnitude and suddenness of the power was enough to force the red-haired woman's eyes to shoot wide open, and the very structure of the city seemed to crack beneath their feet.
Black, yellow-laced energy began to surround Halibel's body, accompanying the continuing rise of her spiritual pressure, adding to the surprise and confusion of her current opponent. With one powerful surge, it coated her entire body, eclipsing her entire form from view.
'This spiritual pressure… it's very potent. Perhaps she will be able to put up a challenge after all.' Katsumi thought, her surprised expression now giving way for a content smirk.
Ulquiorra vs. Takao
The green eyes of the Cuarto stared directly into those of the man across from him, his posture one of dispassion and his hands devoid of any weapon for the time being.
"To tell you the truth I thought you'd be smarter than to follow me to this location where we are so far away from your comrades." Takao commented.
"Am I to assume that means you believe me to be at a disadvantage?" Ulquiorra inquired emotionlessly.
"I don't believe you're at a disadvantage because you are at a disadvantage. You've followed an opponent with greater power without regard to the position of your comrades. Either way this works out to my advantage given that even if you were followed I would have the ability to take care of Ichigo Kurosaki as well. Now all I need do is dispatch you quickly and move to face him, therefore making this the ideal situation." Takao replied.
"I find it interesting that you would say something like that… but I suppose that is because you are unaware." Ulquiorra thought aloud, causing his opponent to raise a curious brow.
"Explain yourself, Espada." Takao sternly requested.
"If it is not already obvious what I am implying, I will simply tell you that my power as you see it is not the maximum power I am capable of displaying. Among the Espada there are four of us who have gained access to a higher power than a basic Resurrección, and you shall bear witness to my own." Ulquiorra stated.
Waves of black, green-laced spiritual pressure began floating around the air as a colossal surge of the energy began to swirl around the body of the Cuarto. His eyes kept constantly on the surprised form of his opponent up until the very point that the substance fully covered his body.
Within an instant later, the dark energy began to vanish, revealing the new appearance of the stoic Epsada to the raven-haired man in all of its glory.
"Resurrección, Segunda Etapa." Ulquiorra uttered.
'What the hell is this… a power beyond an arrancar's release? There's no way!' Takao thought.
His eyes, however, and his senses told him a different story entirely. The hollow mask and clothing that had once covered the bat-like hollows body were completely gone, and his full appearance seemed to resemble a pure bat even more so. What's more, at the center of his chest a pitch black marking made itself present, down which a dark-gray substance slid over his skin extending to the tuffs of fur covering his waist.
"From your appearance I assume you are having difficulty accepting the fact of the matter that my power is now at a much higher level than even you had expected. I'm also sure you realize that this means your comrades will face a similar power in their battles with the remaining Espada, and I assure you that their power is greater than even my own." Ulquiorra stated.
"A second release… well I'll be damned, you Espada are sure as hell full of surprises. However I have grown tired of surprises and wish to finish this quickly." Takao said.
He tore off the haori that covered his body a moment later, revealing himself to be wearing a sleeveless, black shihakusho with a white strap tied around his waistline. Still no sword made itself apparent, but that didn't seem to disturb the Cuarto in the slightest.
"Takao Hiroyuki, first commander of the Kido Corps of the Soul Society and the most proficient practitioner of the art outside of the royal family. I suppose this makes sense given that you were able to imprison Wonderweiss so easily." Ulquiorra thought aloud.
"You seem to know quite a bit about me… I dislike that a great deal." Takao replied in a somewhat annoyed tone.
'I see… if Wonderweiss is to fulfill his role in this battle then I will need to defeat this man first.' Ulquiorra thought.
The two combatants seemed to stand across one another in the skies above the city in silence, neither really preferring to make a move for the time being.
"What are you waiting for, Espada. Come at me and I will show you the power of a Soul Reaper." Takao goaded.
At those words, his opponent called forth a green energy lance into the palm of his right hand. The Cuarto then chose to break his own silence in order to say one final grouping of words before their fight would commence.
"Likewise, I will be the one to show you the power of the Espada and the futility of your resistance." Ulquiorra stated.
Starrk vs. Jiro and Ichiro
The dark, twisted energy began to swirl rapidly for several more moments, after which it seemed to completely burst forth and dissipate in the air instantaneously. The form of their opponent was now shown for the first time since the spiritual energy had appeared, however perhaps 'form' was not the proper word one could use to describe the new appearance the brown-haired arrancar had taken.
Before the two brothers stood two individuals, each completely different from one another in seemingly every way. The Segunda stood much the same as he already had, however he no longer had a gazer covering his left eye, and in his hands where once the two guns were held a pair of glowing, blue energy swords currently lay.
To his left, however, was someone that neither recognized in the slightest. It was a relatively tall decently-endowed woman, standing only a few inches shorter than her presumed partner. She wore a gray, sleeveless, button-down vest with tuffs of gray fur covering the linings, a pair of white arm warmers that left the upper part of her arms exposed, and a pair of white, skin-tight pants with an additional set of gray fur tuffs covering the bottom half of her legs up to her knees but not covering the boot-like shoes that were currently worn by her feet.
The woman's hair was somewhat long, reaching down the middle of her back and flowing down to the sides of her breasts out in front of her body. Her eyes were a captivating pink, and within her hands were the very same twin pistols that the brown-haired Espada had previously held. With one motion, they brought their respective weapons to bear, after which they chose to speak the name of their new form.
"Resurrección, Segunda Etapa." The two uttered in unison.
'A second release… how is this possible?' Jiro wondered, his mind drawing a blank. The simple way that arrancar functioned made this seem like an impossibility, and yet here it was proven to be reality before his, and his brothers, very eyes.
"What the hell is going on? I thought arrancar only had one release form." Ichiro exclaimed.
"If you thought for a second we'd come into battle without a trick or two up our sleeves then you're even dumber than I thought you were." Lilynette replied.
"That voice… wait a minute, you're the brat aren't you?!" Ichiro shouted, a tick mark appearing on his forehead.
"Thanks for that, captain obvious! Next I guess you're going to realize my hair is green, or the sky is blue. Boy, I sure do feel like an ass for calling you stupid repeatedly." Lilynette said sarcastically.
From across the battlefield, the object of her torment glared angrily at the formerly childlike arrancar, gritting his teeth all the while.
"That one's mine, brother, and I don't want to hear any crap from you about it." Ichiro stated.
"I have no objections… however I do believe it best we work in unison, otherwise we may be at a disadvantage." Jiro replied.
"Fine, but I get to be the one that kills her." Ichiro commented.
Halibel vs. Katsumi
The vast amount of energy began to gradually dissipate and flutter away in the air, revealing the form of the blonde-haired beauty to have changed rather drastically.
Her previously spiky and wild blonde hair was now rather straight and greater in length, now partially covering her right eye and extending to the middle of her back. In front, the straight blonde hair also cascaded down her front so as to reach to top of her breasts on each respective side.
The large, white spaulders that had previously been on her person were now completely gone, replaced by nothing other than her flawless skin and a pair of green lighting-like markings that were tattooed horizontally on the middle part of her upper arms. The remnants of her collar still remained, however the pieces of white armor extending from it were changed drastically. The once solidified pieces of armor had now become thin segments of long, teeth-like objects that extended forward and covered the underbelly of her breasts as well as an area that was less than preferable to expose.
The Tercera's waste was covered by a thin, white piece of armor, out of the back of which sprouted a mermaid-like tail appendage that covered her rear end. The bracers that had previously covered the entirety of her forearms were now segmented, revealing the long, black glove-like objects beneath. Her legs were now bare on their upper half, while the lower half was covered by a segmented, white, armor-like substance, beneath which was yet another black article of clothing that served to do little more than cover her skin. The biggest change, however, was the fact that her weapon, previously seeming as if it were glued to her right hand, had completely altered.
In her right hand, the blonde-haired Espada currently held a rather long, double sided lance, the appearance of which made it seem as if her shark-tooth like weapon was currently on each side end though in a much smaller form. She spun the double-sided lance in her hand for a brief moment, after which she grabbed it firmly once more and pointed one of the weapons tips at her opponent.
"Resurrección, Segunda Etapa." Halibel uttered.
'Interesting… she appears to have access to a second form. I may have been too quick in judging her strength.' Katsumi thought as she observed her opponents new appearance.
"If you're done gawking, I suggest you get yourself ready, for I will not hold back in this fight." Halibel stated.
A/N So next chapter will likely not be posted next week due to scheduling conflicts. Basically it will be not next week but the week after that either on Tuesday or Thursday.
Kyoraku and Ukitake: Just to clarify in case it isn't all too clear what has happened, Kisuke Urahara might have had something to do with transfer of information and in general what Ichigo had asked him to do.
The Spirit King: The justification for his own actions are that he has a god complex, and is prone to extreme paranoia. Somewhat understandable, but at the same time a bit ridiculous in terms of the extremity of his actions.
The Royal Guard: It would just have been so boring if I had just copied the five major members without adding a few, now wouldn't it? Their personalities and such kind of come out in this chapter and the next, but overall I'd say they are characters of minor importance.
The Fights: Okay, so someone in a review pointed out that I had the captains losing pretty hard, and I completely did, but I have multiple reasons for it. First of all, most of the fights, if not all of them last chapter, went exactly as I would have expected them in the first place. Ukitake is strong, yes, but he and Kyoraku couldn't beat Starrk so I can't justify having him do well solo against the same opponent, also in case you were wondering their defeats served a purpose given that they weren't actually 'defeated'. The Grimmjow, Halibel and Ulquiorra fights I can say were pretty obvious, but then after them I suppose there should be some explanations. Neliel against Byakuya, aside from the fact that her known abilities counteract his fighting style, is tipped by the fact that Nel, in her released form, is stronger than Ulquiorra's released form. It is only because of the second release that Ulquiorra is a higher number than she was, and I explained this previously. Given that Ulquiorra's release is stronger than Ichigo with his mask on by a good bit, and that Ichigo beat Byakuya, that translates to Nel being stronger than Byakuya on top of the fact that her abilities just counteract his powers. Risha against Kyoraku, again for those of you who could have guessed, was designed to be one sided because it was meant to be, you guessed it, an illusion. Not the entire fight, but you get the general idea. For starters though, Risha's power level, when she was a Vasto Lorde, was on par with Halibel's while in her released form. Translate that to the arrancarization process, and her power level is adequate, or in some ways superior to, the power that Halibel currently possesses in her own released form. Again, she is a fraccion by choice, and I feel the need to say that because someone seemed a bit confused by that.
The Fights, this chapter: To be honest I just had the captains lose quickly because it makes this so much easier and faster. You'll see what I mean in the future, but it's kind of like what Kubo did when Aizen defeated Kyoraku, Shinji, Soifon, and Hitusgaya over the course of about three seconds. Also as you can see I added a few OC's, just to add a bit more surprises and make the fights a bit even in number so I could show off a few good ones and take a break from the main ones.
Wonderweiss: Okay, so he is trapped at the moment because Nobu, aka the OC who has known Yamamoto very well, uses a zanpakuto that is able to be stolen by Wonderweiss. Keep in mind that his power is to seal away the powers of a zanpakuto, which as far as I am lead to believe must at the very least be energy based on some grounds. Clearly he isn't dead, and that's all I have to say about this.
Ichigo: He will be fighting, but you can consider this to be another surprise.
Kenpachi/Unohana: I have in no way forgotten about them, and if you know me at all you know I have something planned for each of them.
The Pillars: Meh, just needed a way to take out the Spirit King and keep the others occupied. Numerically it works out, and I feel it brings more to the mystery behind the sword the Spirit King uses.
Yamamoto: I can't really justify having him be on board with arresting and executing his own subordinates while at the same time condemning Karakura Town.