A/N In advance I will say that I didn't really have time to proofread this chapter a large portion so there may be a few typos here and there, I'm not entirely sure for reasons I have already stated xD. Anyway, here you go!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or any of its characters, and I make no money off of this.
Remote Part of the City: Starrk and Lilynette vs. Ichiro and Jiro
'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.
"You're most certainly welcome to try." Lilynette sneered, after which she immediately brought up her right gun and fired off powerful blue cero.
The approaching attack forced both of the dichromatic brothers to vanish in the blur of flash step, after which they reappeared on the grounds below, their eyes set on the forms of their two opponents.
"If your desire is to fight her, then I will not stop you and I will comply by keeping the other busy for the time being. However, I will remind you that of those two guns you should avoid the right as it is the one that fires off the more powerful cero attacks while the left can fire a slew of less powerful cero blasts." Jiro commented.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever… now we just wait a little bit, after which we can make our move." Ichiro replied.
"Approach this with tact. If under some absurd circumstances we find ourselves being pushed back, we know how to gain the upper hand." Jiro stated.
His brother seemed to release a slight grunt of annoyance at the constant attention to strategy. Personally, he'd rather just fight and be done with it, but strategy was always important and it was the one thing his brother thought of that he never did.
"Alright…" Ichiro said.
In the skies above both Starrk and his partner gazed down at the immobile forms of the two squad zero members with something akin to apprehension.
'Starrk…' Lilynette's voice echoed in his mind.
The Segunda's eyes widened slightly at the foreign feeling that seemed to erupt upon his name being called. It was the same result as the telepathy the former Novena was capable of using, but the feeling was completely and utterly different. However, that feeling of unease only lasted for a moment, after which he responded to the call.
'Yeah?' Starrk said lazily.
'They're not making a move… what do you think our next move should be?' Lilynette inquired.
'Hmmm… the moment they draw their swords they'll immediately try to come at us. I expect the one who's taken a liking to you to go after you while the other tries to keep me busy.' Starrk replied.
'That works to our advantage if your right, because that means we've got the first chance to surprise them with teamwork before they start to do anything along the same lines.' Lilynette mused.
'Yeah… I know. But just keep in mind I'd like to weaken them as much as possible before they get completely serious. Just don't get overexcited and jittery, otherwise your aim will be off.' Starrk advised.
'What do I look like, a twelve year old?' Lilynette asked rhetorically.
'Well you did, and your original form still does.' Starrk pointed out absentmindedly.
The green-haired female said nothing via their telepathic link, but even so the Segunda released a tired sigh. A moment later he turned to his partner, immediately after which he saw the scowl and glare that she currently sported.
"Sorry…" Starrk apologized.
"Ass…" Lilynette grumbled.
Before the brown-haired Espada could even think about making a lazily said reply, the forms of the two brothers vanished into this air, a signal that whatever conversation to two had previously been engaging in had come to a close.
"Insult me later, they're making their move!" Starrk exclaimed.
An instant later, Lilynette brought up her left pistol and blocked the incoming sword attack with its side. Quickly, she leaped backwards into the air, trying to put a good bit of distance between her opponent and her body all the while aiming her pistols in case he were stupid enough to charge in head first.
Starrk was simultaneously forced to block a sword attack from the other, however it took little to no effort to guess where the initial strike would come. Without care, he simple turned his back to lock the incoming strike and began engaging his opponent relentlessly.
The twin energy blades began to cut and slash at high speeds, however, each was simply parried or dodged by the dichromatic man. The two began to enter what seemed to be a dynamic stalemate, with neither being able to land a proper hit for the time being.
'His speed is nothing to underestimate… but at the same time the attacks he's throwing at me with his sword aren't even strong enough to cut me. So that means he is either sizing me up or goading me into making the first move.' Starrk thought.
A moment later he slashed both of his swords forward, entering a literal stalemate with his opponent courtesy of their weapons now being locked in place.
"I must admit your speed is quite impressive, Espada." Jiro complimented impassively.
"Thanks, but it's pretty obvious to me that you're not taking this fight seriously. The way your counterattacking is way too weak to do any real damage, so why the passivity?" Starrk inquired.
The man quirked an eyebrow at this, after which he chose to break the stalemate and subsequently use flash step to appear across the battlefield.
"I choose to be passive because my only objective is to keep you busy for the time being. My brother will deal with your comrade, and when he has finished I will choose to end this fight." Jiro replied. His words, however, elicited a slight bit of laughter out of the Segunda, who readied his blades before he chose to speak once more.
"I wouldn't put too much faith in your brother beating Lilynette. She's got a trick or two up her sleeve." Starrk stated before zooming through the air to reengage his opponent.
'Tch, this guy's fast.' Lilynette thought.
She ducked her head under yet another of his attempted slashes, during which she carefully positioned her right gun and let loose a powerful blue cero to create some space and breathing room.
The cero blast succeeded in doing just that, effectively forcing the zero division member to vanish in the blur of flash step. However, it didn't seem as if he was willing to let up, as evident by the fact that his reentry position was directly behind the green-haired woman.
Lilynette quickly used sonido to appear above her former position, subsequently gaining a high ground advantage and successfully dodging the attack of her opponent.
Without delay, she brought up her left gun and began firing off a slew of lesser cero blasts in order to zone our the black-haired man. Her predictions of his movements were perfect, but all the same the attacks simply couldn't fly through the air quickly enough to connect.
'These attacks are getting more and more accurate… which means that in just a little bit she'll make an attempt at hitting me with her right gun. When that happens, I'll come at her from the left and cut through any of those weaker ceros that she is capable of firing.' Ichiro thought.
The very instant that he saw the pink-eyed arrancar bring forth her right gun and begin to put pressure on the trigger, he vanished in the blur of flash step in order to enact his plan.
The blue cero tore through the air, hitting nothing but the nearby buildings and subsequently the concrete ground of the streets. At the same time, the form of the black-haired Soul Reaper appeared at Lilynette's side, his sword raised high in the air and a bloodthirsty grin etched on his features.
'I've got you now ya brat!' Ichiro thought contentedly, if not a little too joyously.
The squad zero member currently saw the left gun aimed directly at his body, but it mattered very little at that point. He was well aware that no matter how closely he took the weaker cero, it wouldn't pack enough of a punch to prevent his sword from cutting her in half. Essentially, in trying to defend by using the left gun, she had sealed her fate. This was what he had thought would happen, but the ethereal glow the barrel currently gave off seemed to disprove that way of thinking.
'What the hell?!' Ichiro thought, his blade still in mid-swing.
"Gran Rey Cero." Lilynette uttered.
The last she saw of her opponent's face for some time was the look of his eyes widening before a wave of bright white energy eclipsed his form like an unrelenting tidal wave. Shortly after the spiritual energy passed over his body, the very air around his seemed to erupt in an explosion, sending him flying into a group of buildings off in the distance.
Lilynette, having been the perpetrator of the attack, brought up her left gun, spinning it in her hands briefly with an all too content smirk etched on her face.
"Not bad for a kid, eh?" Lilynette thought aloud.
Easters Part of the City: Ulquiorra vs. Takao
The Cuarto opted to start off the battle by raising his left hand and pointing the index finger thereof directly at his opponent. Wordlessly, a black orb laced with green began to form at its tip, swirling to life and emiting a slight static spark immediately before it completely took shape.
"Cero Oscuras." Ulquiorra uttered.
The wave of black energy flew towards the black-haired man, relentlessly tearing through the air and partially illuminating the nearby skies of the city.
"Danku." Takao said, making no other motion for the time being.
A clear solid wall of spiritual energy formed in the immediate path of the blast, clashing with the powerful attack just as was the intent.
The kido expert scowled, however, upon seeing small cracks in the barrier, after which he used flash step to evade the inevitable outcome. Surely enough, the bakudo spell shattered into glass a moment later, the raw power and the energy of the black cero proving to be too much.
As powerful as it was, however, it was evaded and did little more than destroy several buildings off in the distance, causing them to fall to the ground and become nothing more than piles of rubble and ash.
Takao came back into existence a moment later, not even bothering to look at the damage the doom blast had caused as he knew all too well what its power level was.
'If a Danku casted by someone of my level isn't enough to block his Cero Oscuras then it is likely that any instantaneous barrier I am capable of casting will fail to block that attack…' Takao thought.
He raised his hand a moment later, aiming his right finger directly at the form of the bat-like hollow with an emotionless expression present on his features.
Without so much as uttering a word, a ray of pale blue spiritual energy shot out of his hand, zooming across the battlefield at an incredibly high speed.
The attack, however, passed through little more than air as the static buzz of sonido sounded off before it could even make contact with the Cuarto's skin.
He appeared in front of the squad zero member a moment later, a green energy lance present in his right hand and prepared to draw first blood.
To his disappointment, the following swipe of his energy blade did little more than force the raven-haired kido practitioner to leap backwards into the air. That, unfortunately for the Soul Reaper, was far from sufficient to get him out of harm's way.
'What?!' Takao thought out of shock upon feeling a thin, furry object wrap around his left ankle.
He looked down a moment later, and the instant before he was thrown into the grounds of the city he caught a glimpse of the Espada's black tail wrapped around his leg.
The following collision with the streets above which they fought sounded off with the ever so pleasant noise of cracking concrete, but the Cuarto was still far from finished.
Even before the Soul Reaper had made contact with the ground, his left index finger already sported a forming orb of black energy, and was aimed directly at the still falling form of his opponent.
"Now die." Ulquiorra stated, firing off the powerful cero an instant later.
The black energy poured forth, but very shortly thereafter it shot into the ground, causing a massive pillar of fire and smoke to shoot up into the skies of the city. From around the faux-town it was likely that the results of his attack were visible, but all the same the Cuarto fought the urge to scowl as he stared into the pit of fire where his doom blast made landfall.
'It would seem I have underestimated his speed…' Ulquiorra thought.
He turned to another direction a moment later, his left index finger once again charging a black cero and his eyes fixed on what appeared to be a random area of smoke.
Said area of smoke, however, was cast aside in the wave of a colossal ball of blue, lightning-like spiritual energy forming in the open palm of the Soul Reaper's right hand.
"Hiryu Gekizoku Shinten Raiho!" Takao exclaimed, launching off the high leveled kido blast.
The ray of blue tore through the air with the sound and force of lighting from the heavens, but like a shadow that would never vanish the black cero responded in kind, raging through the air at full power.
The two attacks collided midway between the two warriors, causing an explosion that resounded throughout the fake city. In one brief motion, each of the combatants leaped backwards in the air, exiting the pillar of smoke as quickly as was able.
'He is capable of firing even a hado of that strength extremely quickly… if I give him too much time to prepare, it is very likely that he will mastermind a combination of kido spells to defeat me.' Ulquiorra thought.
At the moment, however, a massive pillar of smoke and fire barred his way, therefore he would either have to fire an attack blindly, or wait for his opponent to come to him. Being ever the strategist, he opted for the latter, simply scanning the area in front of him uncaringly.
'What could he be planning…' Ulquiorra thought, getting the answer to his unasked question not a second later.
His eyes widened slightly at the sight of a red beam of energy shooting directly through the clouds of smoke primed directly at the center of his head. With barely enough time to spare, he tilted his head to the side and dodged the attack, avoiding any damage but adding ever so slightly to his already growing concerns.
Across the battlefield, he saw that the kido spell had torn a hole through the pillar of fire, revealing his now scowling opponent to still have his right index finger aimed directly where the attack had been sent towards.
"You are quite a worthy opponent to be able to dodge my Jugeki Byakuri without being able to see me… that hado in particular is nasty for the particular reason that its speed and precision is capable of ending a fight before it even begins. Truthfully, you are only the third person in existence to have successfully dodged that attack." Takao thought aloud.
"As this battle continues you will likely continue to be surprised by how it ends, and yet at the same time you will be powerless to stop coming events." Ulquiorra replied.
His opponent, at his words, scowled heavily and released a slight grunt of disapproval. The arm he had previously held up and directed towards the Cuarto fell to his sides once more, after which he chose to speak.
"I hate the fact that you and your ilk have been talking about how what is to come is predetermined. Do you know what the fate of the Soul Society was before the first king came into existence? It was oblivion, but my life, the life of our first king, of Genryusai Yamamoto, of our current king, each serve as a testament that fate, no matter who believes it to exist, can always be toppled." Takao stated.
"Then it would appear you misunderstand…" Ulquiorra trailed off, closing his eyes momentarily.
"Explain yourself, Ulquiorra Cifer." Takao firmly requested.
"Fate has nothing to do with this battle for it does not truly exist. The concept that every person's ultimate destiny is predetermined is nothing but the thinking of those who seek to justify inaction. I refer to the fact that no matter how our fight ends, be it with your death or with mine, you yourself will not live to see another day." Ulquiorra replied.
"You have such faith in Sosuke Aizen?" Takao said condescendingly.
"Lord Aizen is powerful, more powerful than most Soul Reapers are aware, but it is not his power that will defeat your king. Ichigo Kurosaki has but one role and nothing else, and that is to secure our victory here on this day." Ulquiorra stated.
"Tch… he will not secure anything when he lies dead at my feat." Takao sneered.
He extended the palms of his hands, each of which currently glowed with a brilliant red aura of spiritual energy. From the palms sprouted a total of nine perfect spheres of raw energy, which then began to rotate around the body of the kido expert, leaving a slight trail of energy as if they were stars shooting in the sky on a dark night.
"Jugeki Shakaho." Takao uttered.
"This attack is a modified version of an existing kido and it allows me to increase the raw power by condensing the energy into a singular sphere. In addition to this, performing this attack also increases the speed I am able to launch the attack." He explained.
He extended his right hand a moment later, launching the spheres of energy without delay and sending them zooming towards his opponent. One thing was certain, this battle was far from over.
Halibel vs. Katsumi
The Tercera and the red-headed woman did little more than stare at one another for some time, neither really saying anything and only staring directly into the eyes of the other.
"You have yet to draw your zanpakuto… why?" Halibel inquired emotionlessly, being the first to break the silence.
"I'm examining your new form and feeling out the depths of your spiritual energy. However, even though your power is truly impressive it pales in comparison to the look in your eyes… that determination is exactly what I want to see." Katsumi replied.
In one uncaring motion she rolled her shoulders, allowing the white open-cloak to fall to the grounds beneath the city, effectively leaving her with only a white, sleeveless top that covered only her breasts while her lower body currently sported what seemed to be the bottom of a dress, the color of which was pure white so as to match the rest of her attire.
On the left side of her hip a zanpakuto made itself apparent within a dark-red sheath, standard in appearance save for the fact that its guard was the same shade of red as the sheath as opposed to bronze or gold. An instant later she drew the blade, holding the point towards the blonde-haired Espada in an intimidating fashion.
Upon the blade being taken from its sheathe, Halibel instantly recognized the fact that half of the blade was obsidian, much like that of Yamamoto's, and the stance she currently sported gave away the impression that she intended to be the aggressor.
'Her Shikai and Bankai are a mystery to me… but at the same time, the truth can be said of my powers to her, so it is even in that regard.' Halibel thought.
Currently, she believed this fight would come down to who would be able to flush out the others' abilities first, as that would allow for a clear advantage in terms of strategy and planning for whoever was successful in this. This, incidentally, gave the Tercera a great deal of comfort, especially given that the difference between their physical strengths was likely the difference between night and day.
"Fly on Burning Wings…" Katsumi began, her words instantly causing her opponent's eyes to shoot wide-open.
Halibel could feel the red-headed woman's spiritual pressure rise an amount that gave off she was about to release her Shikai, but that in turn confused her given that she was of the impression that her doing so needlessly gave away a clear advantage. At the same time, however, it also gave away the impression that perhaps the red-headed woman had enough confidence in her abilities that strategy and things of that nature were meaningless.
"…Fenikkusu." Katsumi uttered.
A wave of fire seemed to engulf her body and form a perfect sphere of spinning flames around her being. It began to swirl more and more rapidly by the second, giving of a great deal of heat and shining so brightly that the Tercera almost thought it necessary to shield her eyes with her free left forearm.
The brilliant wave of energy and fire, however, burst forth a moment later making such things unneeded and subsequently revealed the appearance of the blue-eyed woman.
In terms of general looks and body type she remained much the same, but the very clothes on her body became a brilliant red, and the guard had changed its color to gold while its shape became what appeared to be a bird of some kind whose tail acted as the parameters of the guards circular nature.
"I apologize for not releasing my Shikai sooner. Surely you have grown bored of waiting." Katsumi said somewhat respectfully.
Without saying so much as another word or even waiting for a response, the red-headed woman vanished from sight, appearing directly in front of her opponent with her zanpakuto poised to slash across the blonde's midsection.
Halibel, quickly seeing the avenue of attack, brought up her lance and blocked the blade with the shaft of her double-sided spear, after which she simply batted the blade away with one powerful swing of her weapon.
'Her physical strength is good…' Katsumi thought as she leaped backwards in the air.
Her feet skidded slightly before she came to a complete stop, after which she immediately found herself on the defensive. The Tercera had charged at her before she had even received enough time to collect herself, but her attacks seemed slightly too slow to catch her completely off guard.
The blonde rapidly spun the double-sided spear, switching between each end so as to establish and unpredictable pattern of attacks. Despite the speed and grace with which she wielded her weapon, however, her opponent held strong in the wake of her relentless aggression.
With one powerful strike, Halibel managed to send the red-headed Soul Reaper across the battlefield upon a simple meeting of their respective blades. The woman stumbled for a brief moment, but little else resulted from the attack.
"Not bad…" Katsumi admitted.
"I was going to say the same thing about you. However it is clear that neither of us is using any of our true abilities outside of basic strength and speed." Halibel replied.
"Hmmm… just going on what you've just said I can safely assume your fixating on who between the two of us shows her hand. That would also mean you're the type that takes their time in a fight and thinks things through multiple instances in advance. Even right now I would wager that you have even gone as far as to consider what would happen if I were to flush out your powers first." Katsumi observed.
Her words, though accurate as was known to the two of them, didn't rattle the Tercera in the slightest. It wasn't calming to know she had been figured out, but at the same time simply because her opponent knew she had a mind for strategy didn't mean she was capable of outthinking her.
"That's rather boring… you're boring, you know that?" Katsumi said blandly, a slight scowl now gracing her features and her eyes now slightly narrowing.
"Sorry, I don't quite understand." Halibel replied uncaringly.
"Of course you don't…" Katsumi trailed off.
She sighed for a brief moment, after which she closed her eyes and shook her head in a rather disappointed or sympathetic manner, which in turn confused her opponent a great deal.
'What the hell is she doing?' Halibel wondered out of annoyance.
"A battle is something that can be fun and exciting. Therefore it confuses me why you are fighting me as if you can tell exactly what the outcome will be. Moreover I don't know why you would want to know everything that will occur in a battle since that just makes it boring." Katsumi thought aloud.
"So to be honest I find people like you uptight and boring." She continued.
Very quietly so as to not let her opponent know the effect of her words, Halibel growled. A battle was a battle, the purpose was to fight not to make idle talk, and yet this woman acted as if it was a game played out on a board for entertainment.
'I actually agree with her…' Tiburon commented idly.
'I swear, the very next time I see you I am going to…' Halibel began.
'Calm down… good god, learn to take a joke. The fact that you actually can't only goes to show that she is right.' Tiburon replied.
For a brief moment, Halibel's entire being tightened as if it was struck by a sudden jolt of electricity in the form of immense rage coupled with annoyance.
"You find me boring… is that so?" Halibel questioned, somewhat to the surprise of her opponent.
"Yes…" Katsumi trailed off in an unsure voice, not entirely sure what the Espada was about to do.
"Then perhaps I will show you what it looks like when I let loose." Halibel mused.
The Tercera placed the lance in front of her vertically such that each end of the weapon was respectively pointed at the sky and the very ground of the city. A moment later her hand retracted from the long shaft of the spear, though the weapon itself moved not an inch. Rather, it simply floated in air as if it were still being held in place firmly by her hand.
With a small smirk present on her lips, she brought her right hand to the upmost portion of the spear, the section that currently pointed towards the skies, and gently placed her fingers on its side. Without warning, she then pushed her hand off to the side, causing the weapon to spin in a clockwise fashion, faster and faster with each passing second.
'What the hell is she doing?' Katsumi wondered, curiosity and confusion written all over her face. Her eyes shot wide open a second later, however, at the sight of water encompassing the form of the spear. It too began to spin rapidly, and even behind the circling torrent of water she knew all too well her opponent was still smirking.
"Cascada." Halibel uttered, after which the spinning spear forced an absolute hurricane of water directly towards the form of her opponent.
It began to shoot forth, encompassing far more than the original circle and consuming not only buildings but what seemed to be the very air of the skies. The booming sound of water crashing into buildings and forcing them down echoed like claps of thunder, but even though this is what the Tercera heard, it was still unknown if she had successfully hit her target.
The double-sided spear stopped spinning upon the final surge of water coming to a stop, at which point she grabbed it and brought the weapon to her side once again. Upon doing so, however, she scowled heavily at what she saw.
Her opponent had not only weathered the storm that was her previous attack, but not an inch of her body was covered in water. It was as if she has simply allowed it to encompass her being, but at the same time negate its effects entirely.
'How can she possibly be unharmed after taking that attack full force?' Halibel wondered.
"From how you're looking at me now I can guess you're angry and confused… and you should be. Allow me to explain the power of my zanpakuto, Fenikkusu." Katsumi began.
At her words, the Tercera's eyes widened slightly both out of surprise and confusion. She had known full well the red-headed woman had activated her Shikai, but at the same time she had yet to see any of its abilities, assuming that its effects were not already present.
"I am unique in that I have currently achieved a state that best resembles the ultimate form of a zanpakuto and its wielder. The first king was a master of this technique, and achieving it has since been deemed impossible, but while this is the case the raw power gained by coming even remotely close to this is incredible. My zanpakuto and its very nature are connected to my body and soul." Katsumi continued.
"I would appreciate it if you would get on with your explanation." Halibel cut in impatiently.
"I was getting to it… anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, the power of my zanpakuto is, in short, to completely and utterly manipulate my spiritual energy. While that may sound impressive or perhaps confusing, I am incidentally only able to manifest it in one form… and exactly what that is I will gladly show you…" Katsumi trailed off.
A moment later she pointed the tip of her blade directly at the blonde-haired Espada, after which the very air around the blade began to shimmer with the brilliant glow of pure flames.
"In case this weren't obvious enough, my spiritual energy manifests as fire. Previously I had willed a barrier around my body to block out your attack, but that is far from all that I am capable of." Katsumi stated.
"Tch… I'd be disappointed if that really was all you were capable of. I do hope you will prove that statement correct in this fight, as I will do everything in my power to show you exactly what it is that I am capable of." Halibel replied.
Tosen vs. Orochi
The two combatants currently stabbed and slashed at one another without any semblance of holding back. Sparks flew at each collision of metal, but despite the evident levels of effort on each party neither warrior had yet to sustain a wound.
The brown-haired man chose to be the first to divert from his attacks by using flash step to appear on the grounds below his opponent with his left hand extended and his palm open.
"Sokatsui." Orochi uttered, firing off a wave of blue spiritual energy at his opponent.
In response, the blind Soul Reaper extended his own left hand, mimicking the actions of his opponent save for the fact that currently two orbs of glowing spiritual energy currently flickered to life in his palm.
"Hado Number 73, Soren Sokatsui." Tosen chanted.
The powerful wave of raw energy easily shattered the approaching kido the zero division member had launched, but just the same the attack was nowhere near fast enough to both deflect the blast and land a direct hit.
Tosen immediately used flash step to vanish upon sensing his opponent move. In actuality, his hado spell had yet to even make contact with the ground, but at the same time he didn't need that to happen in order to know his opponent had already opted to evade.
Orochi phased back into existence hovering overtop a nearby building, but immediately after doing so his eyes shot wide open and his reflexes instantly brought his zanpakuto to his front.
A loud resounding boom resulted from the proverbial chop of the dark-skinned former captain's sword coming into contact with that of his opponent's, though as opposed to continuing with his attack he chose to keep his blade locked with that of the brown-haired man's.
'He's a bit stronger than I thought he'd be…' Orochi thought to himself.
Currently, both of their blades shook due to the force that each was exerting on them, but just the same neither showed any signs of wavering. Their hands were firmly placed on their swords, and it didn't seem like either was willing to let up for a second.
"Hado Number 32…" Tosen began, causing his opponent's eyes to shoot wide open once more. His began to glow with golden spiritual energy an instant later, giving a clear indication of what he was about to do.
"…Okasen." Tosen uttered.
A large wave of energy poured out of the glowing blade, successfully forcing back the squad zero member. He flew down towards the grounds of the city through multiple buildings, his sword still firmly holding back the wave of spiritual energy but just the same.
Before coming into contact with the ground, he opted to use flash step to get out of the attacks path, at the same time discerning that simply redirecting the blast would leave him wide open.
The ground behind where he disappeared exploded violently in an uproar of smoke caused by the attack, but the blind former-captain paid no attention to such things.
He turned to his right, narrowly blocking the attack his opponent tried to perform. The two once again began to slash at one another, each appearing desperate to draw first blood in the engagement.
'His attacks are getting faster and more precise…" Tosen thought as he continued to parry the attacks.
The blades abruptly locked with one another for a brief moment, after which the brown-haired man lodged his knee firmly into Tosen's gut, causing him to gasp slightly at the large amount of sudden pressure.
Orochi, not wanting to let the opportunity go to waste, spun himself in the air, holding his blade at his side so that it would then subsequently slice into his opponent's skin upon his rotation coming full circle.
Tosen, sensing this, brought up his blade to block the attack. Unfortunately, he was only able to stop the blade from digging deeper into his left arm. The cut and damage was minimal at best, but the fact remained that it was the first hit to be landed in this fight.
An instant later, the zero division member kicked his opponent with as much force as he could muster, sending him flying into a nearby building which then subsequently came crashing down around him.
'Tch… so he couldn't keep it up for long, could he.' Orochi thought condescendingly as he watched the rubble of the structure fall to the ground.
An abrupt medium-sized disk of purple energy shooting out of the rubble, however, dashed such thoughts aside and replaced them with mild concern. The brown-haired captain used flash step a moment alter, narrowly avoiding the attack but all the same allowing no harm to come to himself.
He phased back into existence atop a nearby building, believing that it would allow him some semblance of cover as he felt the area for his opponent's energy signature.
'That Haien came from the rubble… but something tells me he isn't dumb enough to stay in the same place for too long.' Orochi thought.
Shortly thereafter the form of his opponent appearing directly in front of him in the sky with his zanpakuto held at his side made any attempt at sensing out of the man's position to be completely pointless.
He quickly brought up his zanpakuto, blocking the strike with time to spare. This came as a slight sense of relief given that he now believed himself at an advantage, ufnrotunatly such thoughts were once again dashed as soon as he felt his feet begin to sink into the building.
The zero division members' eyes widened slightly upon the continued sound of cracking stone building material sounding off beneath his feet. He knew very well that his opponent was applying enough pressure to send him crashing down the building, but at the same time there wasn't really anything he could do given it was simply too late.
Tosen, with one powerful swinging motion of his sword, broke the stalemate and subsequently sent the man he hated more than anyone flying down the very structure of the large building, crashing into floor after floor without any sign of stopping. However, that was nowhere near close enough to do any real damage.
"Hado Number 54…" Tosen began, preparing his sword in a slashing position.
"…Haien." Tosen finished, after which he swung his blade and launched a purple disk down the hole in which his opponent was still currently falling.
An explosion sounded off a moment alter as the kido seemed to hit its mark, destroying several of the structures support beams and effectively causing it to collapse. As he watched the building do so, however, the blind Soul Reaper was in no way prepared to let an opportunity slip past him.
Therefore, be it out of rage or because it was strategically correct, he began to swing his blade back and forth in a slashing motion at a rapid pace, each and every time launching another of the purple disks into the falling rubble. It was all too likely that many of them missed, but truth be told he had lost count after the sixth time he launched the attack.
When the very pile of rubble that was the building was nothing more than a flaming pile of debris, he allowed his zanpakuto to rest at his side, his breathing slightly heavier than prior given that he had carelessly launched that last barrage of attacks.
'While he is now most likely injured that last set of attacks was illogical given my very recent injuries.' Tosen thought, as he observed his bruised left arm.
"Hmm… I suppose it matters very little." Tosen said to himself.
The former captain turned his body to face what seemed to be a random area of the sky, however a moment alter the form of the zero division member phased into existence.
While he couldn't exactly see the injuries that were currently afflicting the heinous man, he could tell that they were less severe than he had intended. True he wanted him to be dead, but just the same his previous offensive was only meant to wound him a good deal.
"Not bad…" Orochi admitted truthfully.
He observed his wounds for the briefest of moments, taking specific note the upper left portion of his clothes were completely gone and his left arm was slightly burned. Overall, however, he was fine, and that was a miscalculation that his opponent would pay dearly for.
"I'm at least glad you're getting serious, otherwise it wouldn't be fair if I started to come at you with all the strength I've got." Orochi stated.
"It is funny that you should speak of getting serious, for I have yet to show you the full extent of my capabilities." Tosen replied.
"Oh please, are you referring to your Shikai and Bankai?" Orochi scoffed.
"No… I am referring to a much greater ability." Tosen stated calmly.
The brown-haired man quirked a curious brow at those words, and his confusion was only increased upon seeing the dark-skinned former captain reach for the blindfold that covered his eyes.
'What is he doing?' Orochi wondered.
A moment later, Kaname Tosen ripped off the blindfold and tossed it to the side uncaringly, revealing his face in its entirety save for his still closed eyes. When those eyes opened, however, what was revealed shocked the squad zero member a great deal.
As opposed to the white eyes one normally associated with a blind person, his opponents were a light brown. In addition to this he stared directly into Orochi's eyes, giving the impression that he could see, an actuality that was by every definition impossible.
"What the hell is this?" Orochi exclaimed out of annoyance.
"This is the gift that Lord Aizen has given me…" Tosen began, cutting off any side-rant his opponent would divert into.
"Despite what it seems I cannot see… at least, not technically. Using kido, Lord Aizen was able to give me the ability to use my eyes in order to track the intended pattern of spiritual energy, essentially allowing me to predict your moves before you even make them." Tosen continued.
"That's a load of crap!" Orochi shouted.
"Simply because it is something you cannot understand doesn't mean that it isn't reality. However, the kido that Lord Aizen has fused into my eyes drains my spiritual energy the longer it is in use, therefore my Shikai and Bankai will be too taxing to use. At the same time they are no longer needed for me to kill you." Tosen said calmly.
"Why the hell would you tell me this?" Orochi asked.
"I tell you this because I know the power of your zanpakuto is useless against me due to my lack of vision. Even as I am now I wouldn't be influenced by your Shikai, and as a result of this I desire this battle to be one that we settle with nothing but our swords and skill." Tosen replied.
At this, the brown-haired man smirked cockily, raising his zanpakuto and preparing to engage his opponent once more.
"If that's what you want, its fine by me." Orochi stated.
Gin vs. Shutara
The quirky teal-haired man came to a stop abruptly in the middle of an attack, leaping backwards in the air without giving so much as a brief explanation to his opponent.
The great weaver frowned slightly at the random action, but nevertheless she supposed it didn't anger her too much. However, all the same she wanted an reason.
"You stopped, I want to know why." Shutara stated, as if simply to make it known that she expected an explanation from the former captain.
"Well you see, that's rather tricky to explain… but I guess I should at least tell you because it will explain what I do next." Gin replied.
The raven-haired woman raised a curious eyebrow at her opponent, paying close attention to the fact that he made to hold his zanpakuto directly out in front of him with its point directed at her.
"Kaname has gotten serious, and therefore I feel I should do the same…" Gin mused.
"Bankai… Kamishini no Yari."
Remote Part of the City…
From within a pile of rubble, the dichromatic Soul Reaper known as Ichiro rubbed his head with a scowl on his face. This had been the second time something like this had happened to him in one day, and to be perfectly honest he didn't quite care for it.
'Damn kid… and that last attack actually hurt.' Ichiro thought.
His clothing was torn in various places atop his upper body while the skin on his left shoulder had been badly burnt. It wasn't something he couldn't deal with by any means, but just the same he was never in the habit of allowing his opponent to have an advantage.
"Oh well… guess I should get going then." Ichiro said lazily as he picked himself up.
Just as he began dusting himself off, however, an ethereal blue light shining far off in the sky caught his attention and forced him to look off into the distance. Upon second glance, he saw it coming closer and closer, the form of which became more and more apparent as it did so.
"You've got to be kidding me…" Ichiro sighed out upon recognizing the attack as a large cero, the color of which matched that of the female arrancar he had been fighting.
He used flash step a moment later, appearing off in the distance a moment later directly across the hollow that had launched the attack. Both heard the sound of the ensuing explosion, after which the squad zero member released a quiet sneer of derision.
'Her aim is pretty decent if she can accurately hit me from such a distance. That just means I have to get serious.' Ichiro thought.
A moment later the black-haired dichromatic man readied his zanpakuto raising it high in the air and directing its tip towards the heavens. Dark-gray spiritual energy began to swirl around the air, exuding from the blade like water from a faucet.
"Corrupt…" Ichiro began.
The energy suddenly began to pour out and extend far into the air with such intensity and speed that the very winds began to shake the foundation of the immediate area. The green-haired woman herself was forced to guard her eyes with one of her forearms in the wake of what was presumably a Shikai release.
"…Akuma ejji." He finished.
In one final burst, the spiritual pressure in the air dissipated, giving way for the transformation the blade had likely underwent. Surely enough, when the ensuing smoke had subsided, the zanpakuto had, indeed, changed.
The guard of the sword had become a solid metal inhuman skull with two horns protruding out of its sides. The substance itself was pitch black in color, while the blade became a half-and-half mixture of dark crimson and light gray. The grip of the sword also seemed longer, and overall the sword had extended and widened to the point that it appeared more like a broadsword but not quite as large as one characteristically was.
"I give you credit for making me get serious… but now is when the real fight starts." Ichiro stated.
A moment later he vanished in the blur of flash step, appearing directly in front of the green-haired hollow almost instantaneously. With one powerful downward swing of his zanpakuto, he brought the metal of his own weapon against that of Lilynette's pistols, resulting in a stalemate given that neither was truly making any move to follow up with another attack.
'What the hell?!' Lilynette thought out of frustration.
Currently she stood in the air, staring at the incredibly irritating smirk her opponent sported as her weapons shook under the pressure he applied with his simple-appearing zanpakuto. Previously he had shown no such strength, in fact she had presumed that dodging some of his less serious attacks would be completely unnecessary given that she could just bat them away with one of her weapons.
"You're losing some steam…" Ichiro stated, placing more and more pressure on his weapon.
"Grr…" Lilynette growled out in an annoyed fashion.
The black-haired warrior broke the stalemate with one quick powerful motion, effectively sending Lilynette flying across the battlefield. Her eyes were slightly widened upon this happening, but just the same she had the advantage that this put some distance between them.
The very second that she regained her footing the green-haired fraccion brought up her right gun, firing it at the overconfident man without delay. A ray of blue shot through the sky, closing in on its target more and more after each passing second.
"Not good enough!" Ichiro exclaimed as he brought up his free left hand.
His palm was opened and extended as if he were about to fire a kido of some kind of counteract the incoming doom blast, but it quickly became apparent that he had no such intent. The blue energy of the cero came into contact with his hand but did little more than that, in fact all it succeeded din doing was filling the air around its body upon failing to even force his hand back an inch.
'What the hell?' Lilynette wondered upon seeing such events occur.
The pink-eyed arrancar was quickly broken out of her trance an instant later upon seeing her opponent bring his zanpakuto up to his sides as if her were about to slash at her all the way from across the air that separated the two of them.
However, with one powerful swing an enormous concentrated ray of wind shot towards Lilynette, forcing her to buckle down in order to negate any direct damage and subsequently sending her spiraling into a nearby building.
Lilynette almost immediately used sonido to appear across from the squad zero member in an attempt to let no time be wasted in their current battle. She began firing cero after cero from both her right and left gun, relentlessly destroying every nearby building but failing to land a singular hit.
Her level of aggravation was increasing drastically, not because she wasn't able to land a hit, but because he wasn't even using flash step. Each and every time she fired an attack from her pistols, he would leap across the air with the most aggravating grin on his face.
"WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!" Lilynette shouted angrily.
For the briefest of moments she stopped firing cero blasts at her opponent, though it wasn't because she didn't want to, rather because her next attack would require a great deal of concentrated energy.
"Why did you stop, get bored of missing already?" Ichiro sneered upon seeing the female arrancar simply point the barrel of her right gun at him threateningly.
Lilynette scowled upon hearing those words, but just the same with this next attack she would absolutely and unequivocally devote it to destroying the agitating man before her. She said no words at first, rather she would let the bright white glow emanating from the barrel of her weapon do the talking for her.
"Gran Rey Cero Metralleta." Lilynette uttered.
A massive barrage of pure white ceros flooded the immediate area, the magnitude of which made even the rather confident zero division member go wide-eyed out of surprise. He himself had to constantly use flash step to evade the attacks, and even when he found an opening to get out of the attacks path, his opponent simply shifted the gun in another direction.
'She can't keep this up forever… can she?' Ichiro thought out of curiosity.
The Segunda and his opponent constantly rushed at one another with their weapons brought to bear, each flawlessly predicting the attacks and counterattacks that were presented to them.
Neither had successfully landed a hit as of yet, but their moves and positioning were simply too perfect and precise to allow something like that to happen.
'The way he is fighting tells me that he's just stalling given that he hasn't used his Shikai yet… but that's good for me.' Starrk thought.
Truth be told he had also been stalling, but he hadn't let that be known to the dichromatic man and for a good reason. All he needed was one opening where he could surprise him and this battle would potentially be over. Even if it wasn't, he and his partner could then simply use their unison attacks and end this all the more quickly. The only issue was, at the moment, a certain half of the equation was noticeably agitated.
'Dammit Lilynette…' Starrk thought tiredly.
He leaped backwards across the skies to put some distance between himself and his opponent. Much as he expected, the man didn't seem to react much and allowed him to do so without impunity, but even so he spoke to illustrate his confusion.
"Why did you stop? Is it because your partner is in danger?" Jiro questioned.
"Something like that…" Starrk replied lazily.
'Lilynette, what the hell are you doing? You'll just tire yourself out if you keep that up.' Starrk chided.
'You shut up! This guy is pissing me off!' Lilynette replied.
The brown-haired Espada sighed at this, especially given that the sound of crashing buildings began to fill his ears.
'Don't be an idiot. Goad him into attacking and then the instant later you know what to do. Remember, if you can catch him off guard and take him down this is over.' Starrk reminded.
His conversation was cut short a moment later due to his opponent abruptly charging at him from across the air. Their blades once again met, after which the previous pattern of parries and subsequent counterattacks began once more.
"That was rude." Starrk simply said through their sword clashes.
He brought his left blade into a stalemate with the singular weapon of his opponent, after which he made to slash across his chest but to no avail as the black-haired man simply dodged.
"I apologize, I assumed you were ready." Jiro replied, swinging his blade all the while.
'I think I've got him where I want him… all I have to do is wait for Lilynette.' Starrk thought as he continued to constantly engage the zero division member.
'Tch… I'm not stopping because you told me to, Starrk, I'm stopping because I want to.' Lilynette thought, after which she ceased firing the barrage of powerful cero blasts.
Her opponent appeared in the air across from her looking ever so slightly out of breath given that he likely was forced to perform constant flash steps for some time. Also he seemed less arrogant and more annoyed, but that was to be expected.
"Brat…" Ichiro growled out.
"Who're you callin' a brat, loud mouth?" Lilynette shot back.
"Tch… you're really asking for it, aren't you?" Ichiro asked rhetorically.
"And if I am what the hell are you gonna do about it?" Lilynette challenged, readying her pistol and aiming the barrel directly at the black-haired man.
The black-clad man smirked briefly at the words of the female arrancar, after which he brought up his sword and began his assault. He appeared at her side via flash step, instantly slashing across her body in an attempt to cut her into two separate pieces.
The green-haired fraccion, however, simply ducked under the attack while simultaneously bringing her left gun towards her opponent's midsection, making contact with it briefly before she let loose a powerful blue cero.
She scowled upon seeing the man vanish from sight a mere instant before it would have torn through his body, and she herself was once again forced to use sonido in order to evade the follow up attack the man had opted to perform.
Upon phasing back into existence, the pink-eyed arrancar brought up her right pistol, letting loose another powerful cero primed directly where the dichromatic man had last attacked her.
He, once again, dodged the attack through the use of flash step, after which he appeared at her flank with his sword prepared to stab directly through her stomach.
Somewhat to his surprise, Lilynette chose to push the attempted stab off to the side with her right gun as opposed to dodging it completely and then following up with a subsequent blast from her pistols.
Rather quickly she made the motion to turn her body, giving the impression that she was about to bring up her free left gun and fire off a counterattack perhaps in the hope that it would catch him off guard. However, it quickly became apparent as the woman's rotation neared completion that a gunshot was far from what she intended to use to inflict damage.
'What the hell?' Ichiro thought.
'It's time…' Starrk thought.
He and the dichromatic man continued to trade blows, sending powerful hit after powerful hit at but to no avail.
Abruptly, they entered a stalemate with their weapons practically fused together for what had to be the tenth or so time in their current fight. Due to this repetitiveness, however, the squad zero member paid no attention to the fact that only one sword had been used to create the current setup.
It was only upon seeing the Segunda's right hand sporting a gun that he realized something was amiss. Unfortunately, such realization struck all too late as the barrel of the gun was already set on its target.
"Gran Rey Cero." Starrk uttered.
A massive ray of white energy poured out of the gun's barrel, eclipsing most of the scene before the brown-haired Espada and effectively denying him vision.
Any sight seemed unneeded as the basic sound of a body crashing through building after building served as an indication that the attack hit its mark. It didn't mean the Soul Reaper was dead just yet, but very clearly that attack did some form of damage.
"That takes care of him for the time being…" Starrk said to himself, after which he turned to look of in the distance.
The Segunda vanished in the blur of sonido, knowing all too well that after their little trick was revealed that the two brothers would be forced to fight alongside one another. He figured he may as well speed things up or maybe at best take out one of them quickly before things could escalate, and thus he headed towards his partner without delay.
'What the hell?' Ichiro thought.
Before his very eyes a blue energy blade came slashing across his chest, tearing through his clothing and the skin below and causing blood to pour forth from the resulting wound.
The black-haired Soul Reaper leaped backwards in the air, deciding it best to put some distance between he and his opponent in order to allow himself time to react to the current situation.
'What was that just now? She just replaced the gun with the sword that the other one was using… but that means…' Ichiro thought.
He looked off in the distance to see a large white ray of energy shoot forwards, after which the clear sound of a body crashing through a group of building sounded off. At this, the dichromatic man scowled before turning his head towards the green-haired arrancar once again.
"Dirty little trick you've got there pintsize." Ichiro stated.
"Oh come on! I'm not even half as short as I was in the original form." Lilynette griped in a childish fashion.
"You're really weird, you know that?" Ichiro asked rhetorically.
Lilynette seemed to be highly agitated by the question but no sooner than she opened her mouth she closed it in favor of smirking cockily at her opponent.
She quickly raised her left hand, aiming the gun at her opponent before letting loose a series of lesser cero blasts.
Ichiro released an unimpressed grunt upon seeing the female's response to his words and subsequently began batting the attacks off in random directions with a simple motion of his sword. That's when it hit him, however, which gun she was currently using.
'If she's using the left gun again… that means she doesn't have the sword… which means…' Ichiro thought.
An instant later he was forced to turn and block a very well-timed attack courtesy of the brown-haired Espada. The twin blades of energy struck with absolute precision, forcing Ichiro to give all of his attention towards the new arrival.
Starrk, however, vanished in the static buzz of sonido after successfully distracting the man, after which Lilynette fired off a powerful cero from across the battlefield.
Ichiro used flash step to evade the attack, but as soon as he reappeared the twin energy blades of the Segunda were once again slashing at him without relent.
The two came to a stalemate, their blades locked with one another with neither letting up an inch.
'This one's stronger than the girl when it comes to physical strength…' Ichiro thought.
The abrupt feeling of a pistil being pressed against his back forced him to use flash step in order to dodge what he expected to be a cero blast.
The zero division member heard and felt no such thing upon appearing across the battlefield, but he expected as much given that if he had gotten out of the way in time firing the attack off would have been futile.
When he looked back at his opponents, however, all he saw was the smirking green-haired woman, the energy blades in her hands and her surroundings devoid of her partner.
Ichiro turned a moment later, sensing the blast of a cero quickly approaching him. With his sword used as a buffer, he sent the energy of the attack off to his sides, but turning his back would prove to be a mistake, as illustrated by what occurred next.
Lilynette used sonido to appear directly behind the black-clad man, after which she immediately delivered two powerful slashes across his back. Blood spilled from the man's wounds, but he himself made no signs that it bothered him in the slightest.
Both Starrk and Lilynette came to a pause across the singular Soul Reaper after the damage was done, their weapons once gain swapped with the Segunda currently wielding the twin energy blades and his partner bearing the two pistols.
'Good job… but don't get cocky.' Starrk warned.
'I know, I know.' Lilynette replied childishly.
"You two are pretty good at your movements… and I gotta say, that little trick of yours really caught me off guard." Ichiro admitted passively.
"As you could clearly tell our second release isn't defined by its extreme increase in individual strength, rather it is the exact opposite. The powers that were once our complete self are separated into the two of us individually, and the way we use our weapons as well as our fighting styles alter as a result." Lilynette began.
"Yeah… for example, I prefer to hit the target I am shooting at while she prefers to miss by a long shot since its more her style." Starrk added, aggravating his partner to the point that a tick mark made itself present on her forehead.
"What the hell are you spouting off?! My aim is at least ten times better than yours!" Lilynette exclaimed.
"In your dreams, and even then it'd be five at best." Starrk replied uncaringly.
"I don't have to take this kind of crap from a lazy ass like you!" Lilynette shouted.
"If the two of you are done…" Ichiro trailed off, breaking up the evident argument.
Both the Segunda and his fraccion turned to face the black-haired man, shortly after which said man readied his sword and pointed its tip threateningly at what was clearly the air between the two arrancar.
'You think he bought it?' Lilynette asked.
'Tough to say, but even if he didn't there's no way he'll figure out the level of our combat synchrony.' Starrk replied.
The dichromatic man stayed put for a brief moment, somewhat confusing his opponents given he simply wasn't the type for waving a sword without a follow through. However, an instant later upon his brother phasing into existence to his left it became apparent why he had waited.
Jiro kept a calm facade, but his body was clearly injured to the point that his movements and general posture seemed labored for the time being. The entirety of his upper body was devoid of clothing, and his skin was covered by light burns everywhere that was visible.
"What the hell happened to you?" Ichiro asked rhetorically.
"You know very well… and brother, keep in mind that from this point forwards it will be necessary for us to attack them in unison." Jiro replied.
"Yeah, yeah. yeah…" Ichiro said dismissively.
The four combatants readied their respective weapons, after which they charged headfirst into what they each presumed to be the final scene of their fight.
Eastern Part of the City: Ulquiorra vs. Takao
The Cuarto effortlessly dodged the solidified balls of red kido, allowing them instead to crash into a series of nearby buildings.
A sizeable explosion erupted from where the orbs of spiritual energy had made contact, the sound of which served to tell the green-eyed Espada what would happen if he were to allow himself to be hit.
As he glided up into the air with his wings spread, he shot an energy lance directly at one of the approaching spheres, slicing it in half and subsequently causing it to explode.
The stoic arrancar used sonido in order to evade the blast by moving atop a nearby building that had yet to be leveled, immediately after which he called form another green spear of spiritual pressure and fired it off, destroying what was thought to be the last of the attacks. While all may have seemed calm, one factor continued to gnaw away at his mind.
'This has given him time to prepare another move…' Ulquiorra thought.
He was forced to quickly vanish in the static blur of sonido a moment later, narrowly escaping the ball of energy that had come spiraling towards his head.
"I was positive that all of the originals had been dealt with… which means…" Ulquiorra said to himself.
Not even an instant alter he called forth another of his characteristic weapons and shot it directly into the cloud of smoke and fire, which had subsequently resulted in another explosion.
From within the still raging fire came a group of what appeared to be ten red energy spheres, each of which was rushing through the air with its target rather clear.
The Cuarto began to fly through the air, making very sure that each of the projectiles was following him at a distance he thought to be safe. When the timing was right, he flipped his body and turned to face the incoming series of attacks, his right hand extended and a ball of black, green-laced energy now present at its tip.
"Cero Oscuras." Ulquiorra uttered.
A ray of black energy eclipsed each of the kido attacks from sight, at which time they seemed to simply disintegrate. The lack of explosion made it feel as if the energy was simply destroyed by a higher concentration, and thus the battlefield resent to an arena devoid of explosions for the time being.
"Is that truly the best you can do?" Ulquiorra asked blankly, shifting his body so as to face the form of the kido expert that had done little more than force him to move around the city.
"I must admit I am impressed. To think that a simple hollow has the ability to give me such a challenge is mind-boggling." Takao replied.
"If what I have done thus far has given you a challenge then I have severely overestimated you." Ulquiorra thought aloud.
"It disappoints me that you have lost your high opinion of me… but given that this fight is over, it doesn't really matter." Takao stated.
The bat-like hollow simply raised a curious brow at the words of his opponent given that they didn't really make any sense to him. It was all the more confusing due to the fact that thus far he hadn't even shown his most powerful attack, and yet the man expected to win this very instant.
"Explain yourself." Ulquiorra requested.
"I will allow my markings to do so for me." Takao replied, smirking menacingly upon these words leaving his mouth.
Abruptly, several of the surrounding buildings and massive piles of rubble began to be enveloped by an ethereal light blue glow. The Cuarto began to look around the area, his eyes slightly widened out of both surprise and confusion.
He saw with his own eyes the standing buildings become rubble before the remnants floated into the air alongside the rubble that had already existed. It was difficult to guess how many buildings in total were currently destroyed and floating in the skies, but nevertheless the quantity was sufficient to surround the Espada in a large circle of debris that simply stood in place a large distance away.
"Be glad that I would use such a complex gravity manipulation technique on the likes of you." Takao stated.
Without any further warning, the large chunks of destroyed structures shot towards the form of the Cuarto from all sides, slamming into his body with such force that a resounding boom sounded off.
When all was said and done, a large circular collection of rubble surrounded Ulquiorra's body, likely crushing him, but at the very least preventing him from making any movements at all.
"With this…" Takao began, extending his right hand and directing it towards the practical earth-like sphere that held his opponent at its center.
"Limit of the thousands hands, respectful hands, unable to touch the darkness. Shooting hands unable to reflect the blue sky. The road that basks in light, the wind that ignited the embers, time that gathers when both are together, there is no need to be hesitant, obey my orders. Light bullets, eight bodies, nine items, book of heaven, diseased treasure, great wheel, grey fortress tower. Aim far away, scatter brightly and cleanly when fired." Takao incanted, during which time ten large, bright pink energy projectiles formed in the air around him.
"Hado Number 91, Senju Kohten Taiho!" Takao roared, sending the masses of energy shooting forth at such a speed that equaled the boisterous tone with which he shouted.
A massive explosion of bright pink erupted, the magnitude of which made it visible from likely miles upon miles away. The squad zero member smirked to himself, all the while relishing in the fact that the Cuarto had been at the epicenter of that blast.
If the Espada were lucky he would be missing half of his body, and if he were unlucky not a trace of his body would be left. With this, the kido expert turned his heel and began to walk, basking for a moment in his victory before he disappeared and went to fight the true threat.
Just as he was about to vanish, however, a large spike of pain emanating from his left shoulder gave him pause. He felt blood flow down his arm and through his clothing, after which he saw a green light shoot out at his front.
The Soul Reaper turned a moment later, his hand firmly gripping the fresh wound and his eyes narrowed to the point that it seemed as if he were trying to cut something with them.
'What the hell? He shouldn't be able to move, let alone mount a counterattack.' Takao thought in an agitated fashion.
He still couldn't see the appearance of his opponent just yet as the smoke had yet to dissipate, but a moment later that problem took care of itself.
With one powerful motion of his wings, the Espada cleared the smoke and willfully revealed his unaltered appearance to his opponent.
"That's not possible! You shouldn't even be alive right now!" Takao exclaimed.
A Soul Reaper of his power level coupled with his knowledge of kido and the fact that he used an incantation should have meant that a hit like that would result in instant victory on his part, and yet it did not. Needless to say, he was certainly not pleased.
"You say that I shouldn't be alive, and yet thanks to you I am devoid of any actual injuries." Ulquiorra began.
The Cuarto called forth another energy lance, allowing it to take its place in his right hand before he continued to speak. Though it served no purpose, he knew it would aggravate his opponent and given that he was injured goading him served to his advantage.
"My regenerative capabilities essentially make it so that should my internal organs and brain be left unharmed there is no possibility that I suffer an injury that lasts more than a mere moment. While you made sure that your attack hit me, you also gave my body a shield to protect it from a portion of the blast, and that was all I needed in order to nearly instantaneously recover from the burns that resulted from your attack." Ulquiorra explained.
'Which would mean that I am now at a disadvantage…' Takao thought.
The kido expert's blood began to boil with anger. The wound on his shoulder was not only a bodily injury but a severe blow to his pride. To think that a lowly hollow could injure him was something he couldn't perceive as reality, and yet it was.
"Bastard!" Takao exclaimed, extending his hand and firing a red sphere of kido exactly the same as those he had used to attack the Cuarto previously.
Ulquiorra simply shifted his body given that this particular attack lacked any control whatsoever, effectively allowing it to move past his body and do little more than stir the wind around him.
His eyes widened, however, as soon as he realized where that particular attack was currently heading. Without a moments delay, he turned and threw the energy lance from his right hand, effectively landing a directly hit on the energy sphere and causing it to explode before it would make it any further out of his line of sight.
'What on earth was he doing?' Takao wondered confusedly, the actions of his opponent appearing completely out of place and pointless.
'That attack would have done little more than destroy a group of nearby buildings… so then why would he…' Takao thought.
A moment later his senses alerted him to the exact reason that the attack was blocked in such a way. Off in that distance was the spiritual energy of Aizen, Ichibei, Ichigo, and of course his king. Each of them would have been able to take that attack and laugh it off in a second, but just the same they were the only was capable of moving in that area.
The spiritual signatures of nearly all of the fallen captains lay in that exact direction, each of whom would likely have been helpless to stop that attack. However, the fact that the Cuarto seemed to care what happened to the captains was rather interesting.
'He would not have done that if he were not ordered to do so, which means that Aizen wants the captains alive. How interesting…' Takao thought.
'Damn… so he's figured it out. However I believe at this point it matters very little.' Ulquiorra thought.
"My attack just now… why did you block it for their sake?" Takao questioned.
The black-haired Espada simply released a slight grunt of annoyance, barely audible, but just the same it was made. This, in turn, prompted the kido expert to smirk deviously, after which he extended his hand towards his opponent, a golden ball of energy already forming at the center of the palm.
"Raikoho!" Takao exclaimed.
A large golden ray of spiritual energy shot forth from the hand, raging towards Ulquiorra without delay. Said Espada, however, simply extended his left index finger and shattered the attack with his own black cero.
Just as he saw the hado spell dissipate due to the force of his own attack, out of the very corner of his eye he saw the form of his opponent zoom past his body. For a moment he cursed himself for allowing such an obvious ploy to be mounted, and with that he turned his body, extended his wings, and flew off in pursuit of the black-haired Soul Reaper.
Center of the City: Outside the Spirit King's Protective Barrier
"Can you sense that, Ichigo?" Aizen inquired abruptly.
The orange-haired teen quirked a brow beneath the horned mask that covered his face, but a moment later after paying any real attention to the energy signature approaching he knew immediately what the former captain had been referring to.
"I have to admit I didn't think things would work out this well." Ichigo admitted.
"What could you two be referring to… that is something I desperately wish to know." Ichibei thought aloud.
Both the brown-haired man and his assumed subordinate shared a slight chuckle at the musing of the bearded man, though neither gave any verbal acknowledgment of his words.
A moment later, the black-haired man that each knew as Takao appeared, a menacing grin etched on his face, his palm extended with his other arm supporting it, and a general appearance that he thought himself to have caught those present off guard with his arrival.
"Hiriyu Gehkizoku Shinten Raiho!" Takao exclaimed, immediately after which a large, powerful ray of lighting-like spiritual energy burst forth and shot into the grounds below. It seemed for a moment that the injured forms of the captains and vizards looked up at the powerful hado, their eyes slightly narrowed as if to show they would fight with whatever they had left even if their bodies refused to move.
The squad zero member, as well as others who were present, watched as the very ground of the city erupted in an explosion of raw power and energy which seemed to leave nothing in its wake.
"Hahahahahahah!" Takao cackled triumphantly, turning to the renowned traitor as soon as he had his fill.
"What are you going to do now, Sosuke Aizen?! I don't know why you wanted them alive, but that reason doesn't matter if their dead!" He exclaimed.
The brown-haired former captain then did something that the squad zero member did not expect, and it unnerved him greatly. The slight sound of an amused chuckle sounded off, the source of which was undoubtedly the man whose plans were presumably set back in some way as a result of what had just happened.
"But are they really?" Aizen asked, smirking cockily at the kido practitioner.
Takao's eyes shot wide open and he immediately shifted his vision back to the ground. Within the crater his attack had created and even through the dirt and slight bits of smoke he could see the bodies of the captains were completely unharmed, as if nothing had happened.
"But how?" Takao wondered aloud.
Only one thing occurred that would give him an explanation without words being needed. The bodies of the captains faded into nothingness, effectively proving themselves to be little more than a perfect illusion.
The kido expert stared with a slight bit of sweat dripping down his cheeks as he came to terms with what had happened, making it seem like he was frozen and immune to outside influence. Perhaps that was to his benefit, however, as it would likely lessen the pain from the powerful kick that then sent him flying back across the city, shooting through building after building along the way.
"What an idiot…" Ichigo trailed off in an annoyed tone.
"Yes, it would appear so." A rather emotionless male voice idly commented from behind the former substitute's position in the air.
"Sorry about kicking him across the city by the way." Ichigo apologized.
"I even went through the effort of chasing after him as if his actions would make a difference in the long run. However truth be told I rather enjoyed watching his shock, so I am easily able to find it in me to accept your apology." Ulquiorra replied before vanishing in the static buzz of sonido.
"Now that that's done…" Ichigo began, shifting his vision off towards a nearby set of buildings.
He stared at the rooftop where two Soul Reapers once stood in place, three in actuality if one were to count little pink-haired lieutenants. The ever stoic Captain Unohana was no longer among those who occupied the roof, but the battle-hungry captain of the eleventh sat with a bored expression on his face and an aura that simply begged for a some action.
"Kenpachi, have you gotten bored over there yet?" Ichigo questioned.
The eleventh's captain smirked in a bloodthirsty manner as soon as this was asked. The way he responded with that simple gesture made it actually seem rhetorical.
"It's about damn time… but where the hell do you need me to go?" Kenpachi asked.
"Go tag out with my fraccion, she's got something else she needs to do right now." Ichigo replied.
"If I don't get any satisfaction from defending that stupid piece of rock you know you're going to owe me more than one fight!" Kenpachi shouted, after which he jumped down from the building.
With his lieutenant on his back, he hit the ground, cracking it before he began to run off at impressive natural speeds towards the location he was asked.
"Something tells me even if he does get satisfaction I'm going to owe him more than one fight…" Ichigo thought aloud.
The quiet chuckle from the former captain who currently stood nearby in the air above the city broke him out of his mental dread, replacing it with a mild sense of annoyance.
"It isn't funny! He's completely insane!" Ichigo exclaimed.
"Oh I am well aware of that. However he is still only second in line to that honor." Aizen stated.
"What, you mean Captain Unohana? I don't even understand why she had that as a condition. Also, yeah, she can be scary, but something tells me she just wants to see what I can do in my basic strength. I couldn't picture her fighting me like Kenpachi." Ichigo replied analytically.
"Of course, what was I thinking?" Aizen asked rhetorically, turning his head to slightly hide the grin on his face.
"What the hell are you not telling me?" Ichigo questioned warily.
"Actually quite a bit… but that is a conversation for the future. For now I believe that particular information is best served as a surprise." Aizen replied.
"I agree. In fact it should be entertaining." Ichibei commented idly.
"What the hell?! Even you know what he's talking about?!" Ichigo exclaimed.
Eastern Part of the City: Landing Cite of Takao
The black-haired Soul Reaper released a slight groan of annoyance as he picked himself up from the rubble of the building he currently found himself in.
'How on earth could I not see that coming?' Takao thought.
For a moment he wondered whether he was mentally referring to the kick or the trick that Aizen had planted, but then that only made him even more frustrated given that he really should have expected both.
"Never before have I been so tempted to use the word trash." A voice commented, the source of which sounded as if it was slowly approaching.
"Given the company you keep I find that to be extremely insulting." Takao replied, picking himself up before turning to face the stoic Espada.
"The term trash does not have limitations on species. It is one's actions that determine whether or not they are trash." Ulquiorra stated evenly.
"Be that as it may, I am still curious as to where you have stashed the captains away. Care to enlighten me?" Takao questioned, his tone one of annoyance upon recollecting the events that had only recently just unfurled.
The Cuarto stared at his opponent with no indication that he had heard the inquiry. At this, the squad zero member scowled, now having grown annoyed at the fact that he knew he wouldn't get an answer. All that needed to happen now was a simple verbal confirmation of that fact.
"That is something you do not need to know." Ulquiorra finally replied.
Soul Society: Outside the Gates of the Senkaimon
"Everyone at the ready! The captains are returning!" A guard bellowed.
Many bland-appearing Soul Reapers scattered by the gates, forming columns to welcome back the presumably victorious captains in an attempt to make sure they were tended to.
They, however, were not the only ones present at the gates. A group of nearby lieutenants approached from several angles, standing at the very end of the column in no discernable formation whatsoever.
"The captains are back so soon? Is that a good thing?" Rangiku wondered aloud.
"I hope so, otherwise we're in for a hell of a rude awakening." Izuru commented.
"Don't be so pessimistic. Have faith in our captains, they have by far earned it." Shuhei stated.
"Even so, this timing just rubs me the wrong way." Renji said.
When the massive gates opened, however, there was only a singular person exiting the large portal, however she was followed by something that many at first didn't recognize.
"Captain Unohana?!" Isane exclaimed as she ran towards the renowned healer whose Shikai currently followed closely at her rear.
Many of the lieutenants and others present stared with both confusion and worry upon seeing the normally cheerful captain's expression so melancholy. On top of this, the fact that her manta-ray like Shikai, which most knew only to be used for medical purposes, was following her meant that most likely someone was injured, or worse.
"I will immediately ask that each and every member of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads that is not a lieutenant rank or was not at any point considered an asset in the winter war to leave this area. Return to your divisions and await further orders." Unohana commanded sternly.
Each of the squad members instantly bowed and respectfully, as well as intelagantly, followed their orders. This, naturally, left those who remained in a state of both shock and worry.
"Captain Unohana, what on earth is going on?" Rukia questioned somewhat urgently.
"Don't tell us you guys lost?!" Ikkaku shouted.
"Silence, all of you." Unohana calmly ordered.
Those present saw a somewhat sinister aura replace her generally cheerful and compassionate demeanor. Many felt a chill go down their spines, but conventional wisdom would deny that the most motherly of the captains was capable of inspiring such a thing.
"We have not yet lost, but for the moment I would simply like to tell you that the situation is extremely sensitive. You will meet with your captains after I am done healing them, but for the moment you will all stand at the ready in your own divisions." Unohana continued.
This, immediately, was followed by the collective realization that the captains were now within the healer's Shikai, which naturally caused an instant strike of panic among the Soul Reapers.
"Captain Unohana, are you saying every captain is…" Renji began in a shocked voice, only to be cut off.
"Remain calm. Captain Yamamoto as well as Captain's Ukitake and Kyoraku are currently fighting within the fake Karakura Town. The remainder of the captains are within Minazuki save for Kenpachi Zaraki, but regardless of what the information causes you to feel my orders stand. Simply go, knowing that none of them will be wounded for more than another hour before they are capable of meeting with you." Unohana stated firmly.
None of those present even had the slightest urge to argue against the woman's solemn commands. Something about her tone simply gave off the impression that if one valued their life they would heed her words. With that, they each vanished, gradually, in the blur of flash step, leaving the healer alone with her apparent pet.
In a somewhat visually displeasing manner, the manta-ray-like creature essentially vomited out the captains, each of whom then currently lay on the grass outside the Senkaimon's gates with a rather annoyed expression present on their face, or at least that was the predominant trend.
The vizards seemed the most annoyed or suspicious, but half of them were completely out cold so perhaps that was a moot point.
"While I believe I should thank you for safely gathering us back in the Soul Society I feel compelled to demand an explanation as to why you have brought us back here, Captain Unohana." Komamura said sternly.
The healer glared and scowled at the furred warrior in a way that would have made Ichigo Kurosaki proud, after which she stepped up to him, looked directly into his eyes, and chose to reply.
"Given everything that you've witnessed who is it that you believe to be the greatest threat to your lives at the moment? No matter what answer you choose to give, each of those parties currently resides fighting one another in fake Karakuara Town. Regardless of your perception and taking into consideration your injuries, this is the safest place for you to heal." Unohana sternly replied.
"So you do intend to heal us?" Hitsugaya asked, somewhat surprised.
"Of course I do, why would I not?" Unohana countered.
"Forgive me Captain Unohana, but I believe Captain Hitsugaya's suspicions are not entirely unwarranted. You along with Captain's Kyoraku and Ukitake have clearly been conspiring with the enemy." Byakuya stated evenly.
"You have seen the Spirit King with your own eyes, and his current course of action goes against everything that the Soul Society stands for. While I did not wish to believe he would do such a thing at first, a certain man had gone to such extents to fight him that it was worthy of consideration to wait and see what would occur should he be forced to intervene." Unohana replied.
"You're saying you admire Sosuke Aizen?" Shinji questioned, spitting the name of his former lieutenant as if it were the worse of curses.
"If you believe me to be speaking of Sosuke Aizen, then you should perhaps check your perception of reality. I am speaking of Ichigo Kurosaki." Unohana began.
Many had slightly widened eyes at this, especially given that up until this point they had thought the former substitute to be an enemy that needed to be subdued. Perhaps not killed, but definitely subdued.
"He has an unnatural talent for seeing injustice and then doing everything in his power to weed it out for the sake of protecting others. Given that I now know his motivation is correct, I have no intention of standing in his way. In fact as you can see I've gone so far as to help him in his efforts by bringing you all here." Unohana said.
"You think for a second that we're going to just go back and fight against the Spirit King once you've healed us?" Lisa scoffed.
"I will heal each of you, but feel free to make your own decisions. Go back and fight the Espada, go and fight the Spirit King himself, or simply stay here and wait things out. However, know that no matter what will happen, should the Spirit King be victorious, each of us will face a one-sided trial with our very lives on the line." Unohana stated.
A/N Okay, so due to the lateness that I am posting this chapter I am rather tired and have had a long week, therefore there will be no follow-up sections to the ending author's note. Next chapter will be posted next Friday, and also if you had a question you wanted answered for this section of reviews, I would ask that you repeat it so that I know what I missed. Till next time!