Disclaimer: I Don't Own Bleach
Arrancar Saga – Inner Battle arc – Chapter 1 – Ichigo's Decision
Karakura Town - 1st of September, 6:30am
Ichigo found himself back on Sōkyoku Hill with Renji at his side and they were opposing Aizen.
"I can only use this move once but if the opponent gets hit, they will unavoidably show an opening... Captain Aizen is strong... So that opening may be very brief... but try to catch him off guard." Renji Abarai informed the Substitute Shinigami.
"Got it!" Ichigo replied tightening his grip on Tensa Zangetsu.
"Let's go, Zabimaru!" Renji shouted as red spiritual energy surrounded the broken segments of Zabimaru that Aizen had cut off. The segments of Zabimaru were all connected with Renji's spiritual energy and they all floated in the air surrounding an amused Aizen.
"Higa Zekkō!" Renji shouted and the segments all shot straight at Aizen but when they connected the spectators weren't able to see the damage. This was due to all the dust, dirt and chunks of earth that covered Aizen from view from the force of Renji's technique.
Seeing the opening, Ichigo flew quickly towards Aizen and when he was close enough he could see the shadowy figure of Aizen within the cloud of dust. He believed that Aizen would have been injured from Renji's attack and swung his Zanpakutō as hard as he could at Aizen's torso.
To his shock however, his attack was blocked easily. Not only was Aizen completely unharmed from Renji's attack but he had blocked his with just a finger. He couldn't react to the sudden flash of silver in his vision because of his disbelief and suddenly he was brought back to earth from the immense pain coming from his waist...
Ichigo's eyes snapped open and realised that he was still sitting cross legged on Kisuke's flying carpet along with his friends and Kisuke's group. He rubbed his waist gently still feeling the phantom pain where Aizen had slashed him.
"Hey Ichigo..." Uryū spoke up behind him, "Before we left... didn't Ukitake give you something?"
"Hmm... Oh yeah, it was this thing." Ichigo replied and pulled out the Substitute Shinigami Badge and showed it to the others.
"What's that?" Uryū asked curiously as he along with Chad and Orihime leaned over Ichigo to get a good look at it.
"It's a license... Get off! You guys are heavy." Ichigo complained annoyed as their combined weight pressed down on him.
"A license?" Uryū questioned confused.
None of the group saw both Kisuke's and Yoruichi's eyes glance at each other for a moment with grim realisation clear in their eyes. They knew what that badge's purpose was and just what Soul Society had planned for the new Substitute Shinigami.
'Of course they will have to wait until the situation with Aizen is dealt with first before they set their sights on Kūgo Ginjō.' Kisuke thought and released a small grin as he quickly glanced at Ichigo. 'With Aizen's true colours finally exposed, I will probably receive a full pardon from Soul Society. After over 100 years of being an exile, I can finally get the chance to go home however it may only be short lived. If they carry out their plans to dispose of Kūgo Ginjō, then I am going to have to go against them once again. I owe Ichigo and Isshin that at least. Let's hope Ichigo can build up plenty of allies in Soul Society when this war is over... It would make it much easier.'
"It's called a Substitute Shinigami Licence!" Ichigo explained. "Ukitake said 'In Soul Society there is a law regarding Substitute Shinigami's and if that Shinigami is deemed useful to Soul Society we give them this. If you put this on, you will be able to quickly become a Shinigami.' Well that is what he said. He told me to hold onto it because it might be useful... Are you even listening, Uryū?" Ichigo asked seeing the thoughtful look on Uryū's face.
"Huh?! Yes of course!" Uryū answered hastily. 'Maybe I am just worrying too much...'
"This emblem... Almost makes it seem that they don't want it back." Chad admitted looking at the skull.
"Don't say that." Ichigo grumbled.
"Looks like you no longer need my beautiful awesome practical cane anymore." Kisuke pouted sadly.
"Of course! Now I will be able to leave my body when I choose to." Ichigo glared at a smirking Kisuke, "I won't be at your mercy anymore."
"Ahh! Uryū isn't this close to your house?!" Orihime cried out in realization interrupting the banter.
"Yes it is." Uryū said as he recognised the buildings and street that they had flown over, "Kisuke you can drop me off here."
Kisuke lowered the flying carpet until it was only a metre away from the ground. Of course he made sure that there were no people around to see this. It would be a bit annoying to explain... Then again, he could just erase their memory.
Before Uryū jumped off, Ichigo spoke up, "Later Uryū! I'll call you if something comes up!"
"What are you talking about?" Uryū asked with his back turned to the Substitute Shinigami. "Have you forgotten already, Ichigo? You're a Shinigami and I am a Quincy... When we meet again, we will be meeting as enemies. See ya!"
With that parting comment Uryū jumped off the carpet and headed home.
"He's not honest with himself." Orihime said with a wide grin.
"Yeah, seriously!" Ichigo huffed annoyed with Uryū.
Orihime giggled, "Well that is a good trait of Uryū's."
"You think so?" Ichigo asked curiously.
"I agree." Chad added.
"You too?" Ichigo gaped, "I guess you guys are more mature than I am..."
It only took them a few minutes to drop off both Orihime and Chad at their respective houses and now they journeyed to Ichigo's.
Ichigo looked over at Kisuke and Yoruichi conversing quietly and without the distraction that his friends gave him, his mind wandered back to the fight he had with Aizen.
'Fight isn't the right word to describe it...' Ichigo thought angrily, 'I was blocked by a single finger. Granted I wasn't at full strength because of the injuries I sustained against Byakuya, but I shouldn't have been blocked by a finger. Just how powerful is he? What is his goal? Not to mention that he seemed interested in me... I need to get stronger in case he attacks Karakura town!'
However that led to another problem. He grasped Zangetsu's hilt but when he tried to summon Zangetsu's power he felt the cocky laugh of his Inner Hollow. The sound made him release his hold on his Zanpakutō and the voice quietened.
That bastard had taken over in his fight with Byakuya and he admitted reluctantly that his interference had saved his life. Knowing that he only beat Byakuya because his Hollow helped him really pissed him off. Having to watch through the Hollow's eyes unable to control his own body was torturous until he finally managed to gain the strength to overpower him. Worst of all was just how well his Hollow wielded Bankai. While he had struggled against Byakuya when Senkei Senbonzakura Kageyoshi was unleashed, his Hollow on the other hand proved to be far superior to Byakuya.
'His lack of conscience gave him a real advantage. He fought to kill, not to defeat.' Ichigo concluded, 'I had two great chances to kill him. Right after I activated Bankai, I had the tip of my blade an inch away from his throat but I backed away. The second time I stabbed him in the left side of his stomach in a non-vital area instead of stabbing him right through his chest.'
Was it his hesitation to kill that stopped him from utilizing his Bankai correctly? Is that why his Hollow wielded his Bankai so much better than him?
'Not just Bankai...' Ichigo thought suddenly as a memory popped up. 'During the battle against Kenpachi... When I fought him briefly in my Inner World, I remember how well he wielded Zangetsu.'
His thoughts were interrupted when a paw of claws suddenly scratched his face harshly.
"Gah! What the hell Yoruichi!" Ichigo shouted angrily holding his face with his right hand. Through his fingers, he glared furiously at the nonchalant black cat.
Yoruichi shrugged, "We had been calling you for several minutes but you wouldn't listen. So I figured that this was the second best way to get your attention."
"What was the first?" Ichigo complained and released the hold on his face after pushing the pain away.
Yoruichi glanced at Ururu and Jinta and replied, "It wouldn't have been appropriate with the children among us."
Jinta tried to protest that he wasn't a child but Tessai calmly put his hand over his mouth and prevented the hot headed kid from talking.
Ichigo blushed heavily understanding immediately what Yoruichi was referring to.
Kisuke pouted on the other hand and he muttered sadly, "I knew I should have left them at the store."
Yoruichi just smirked in amusement. Ichigo didn't know which made her happier, his embarrassment or Kisuke's comment.
"As we were trying to tell you... we're at your place." Yoruichi informed the Substitute Shinigami.
Ichigo blinked and check his surroundings. Sure enough, they were hovering only a few metres in the air just outside his house.
"Just what were you thinking so hard about, Ichigo?" Kisuke inquired.
"Aizen's goal..." Ichigo answered truthfully and reluctantly added, "Also about my fight with Byakuya and... My Inner Hollow."
"I see..." Kisuke answered. He had informed Shinji Hirako about Ichigo having an Inner Hollow and would need help in controlling it when he returned from Soul Society. He expected that Shinji would soon make contact with Ichigo.
"Aizen... I have a suspicion of what he is planning." Kisuke admitted, "But it is late... If you're still curious, come by the store after school and I will explain."
Ichigo narrowed his eyes and questioned the candle shop owner, "Can you train me more?"
Kisuke looked surprised at the question and glanced at Yoruichi to see her equally surprised. Kisuke looked back into the determined eyes of Kurosaki Ichigo and asked curiously, "Why do you ask? You successfully saved Rukia and now you can go back to your human life. Go to school, hang out with your friends and maybe get a girlfriend. You don't need to get involved in this, let Soul Society handle Aizen."
Despite saying this out loud his thoughts were far different. The four people that protected this town, Ichigo, Uryū, Chad and Orihime were the only ones that could defeat Aizen. Logically he knew that Chad and Orihime would never gain the power to go toe to toe with Aizen however they hadn't seen Aizen's Zanpakutō. If Uryū was able to get his powers back and learn and master every technique that his father Ryūken knew, such as the Quincy: Vollständig, then he might have a chance against Aizen. However Ichigo was their best bet to defeat Aizen.
Not to mention Aizen's goal directly involved Karakura town so Ichigo would be forced to be involved in the fight. For Aizen to be defeated, Ichigo needed to actively train and want to fight and not fight just because he had to. That was why he was asking Ichigo these questions... to learn Ichigo's state of mind.
"I don't give a damn about Aizen's plans." Ichigo told him seriously, "Just answer me this... Is Karakura town or my family and friends in danger from him?"
"I'm afraid so." Kisuke said seriously.
"Hanging with friends... getting a girlfriend... what does that matter if I don't have the strength to protect them when the time comes?" Ichigo explained, "He stopped me with a finger Kisuke, Yoruichi. It was only because of my Hollow that I was able to defeat Byakuya... At my current level, I am useless in this fight. I need to get stronger!"
Kisuke looked at him at him with a mixture of sadness and pride from behind his fan. He would always feel responsible for involving Ichigo in this mess and for creating the Hōgyoku that would aid Aizen in whatever he was planning. Still from his experience with Ichigo, he knew the more determined he was, the faster his progress developed.
"Okay Ichigo, I will give you more training!" Kisuke said cheerfully, "Come to my shop after school and we will begin!"
Ichigo shook his head, "No, I have no intention of going to school. My grades are already high, and I can afford to miss a bit of school. I'll get my father to inform the school of my leave of absence. I just need to find a reason for him to do that."
"Tell him that you are an apprentice to the great Kisuke at the Urahara Shop." Kisuke puffed his chest out proudly with a big grin on his face causing Ichigo to sweat drop.
"Sure I guess that will work." Ichigo nodded and jumped off the carpet and headed to his window. Kisuke and Yoruichi watched him for a moment before taking off towards the store.
Ichigo looked through his window into his room and to his extreme annoyance; Kon was lying on his bed in his body. If lying on his bed sleeping was the only thing that he was doing, then Ichigo wouldn't have a problem with it. The problem was what the mod soul was muttering about the inappropriate dreams he was having in detail. He tried to open the window from the outside but it didn't budge an inch sue to it being locked from the inside. Not wanting to break his window, he began tapping on it loudly.
"Hehe... No Rukia... Ah..." Kon muttered in his sleep having a very inappropriate dream about Rukia. "Oh not you too Orihime..."
Kon's eyes tightened when his dream faded away and he was brought back to reality by a loud tapping noise. His eyes snapped open and he shot out of bed glaring furiously at the direction the noise was coming from.
"Shut up! What is this noise that is interrupting my peaceful sleep?! I was so close! 2 more seconds, Rukia and Orihime would have sandwiched me! What... t... the... Ichigo?!" Kon trailed off with wide eyes, seeing the Substitute Shinigami giving him a very annoyed look.
Wait a minute... If Ichigo was back that meant...
"You're finally back, Ichigo!" Kon shouted excitedly after opening the window. "Yes! Now I can finally part with your annoying body! But, if you're home that means... Welcome home Rukia!"
Silence met his scream of excitement causing the mod soul to begin looking around but didn't see Rukia anywhere. He looked back to Ichigo who had entered his room and currently had his back to Kon.
"Where is Rukia?"
"She decided to stay over there." Ichigo replied pulling out his Substitute Shinigami badge.
"What are you saying?!" Kon shouted, "The why bother going all the way there if..."
Kon couldn't finish his complaints before Ichigo swiftly spun around and slammed the badge into Kon's forehead. The small green pill spat out of Ichigo's body and Ichigo caught it with his right hand. He allowed his body to fall onto the bed and he glanced at his badge.
"This thing is really useful." Ichigo acknowledged. It would certainly be a lot easier to use instead of having to stuff his hand into Kon's mouth whenever he was in the stuffed lion. "Sorry Kon, I'll tell you about it in the morning. Let me rest for the night."
He placed the pill on his desk and entered back into his body for the first time in a while.
'Man... It feels great being back in my own bed.' Ichigo thought pleasantly until a familiar shiver passed through his body.
"I know this feeling..." Ichigo muttered fearfully, "But it couldn't be... It's still dark out."
"GOOD MORNING ICHIGOOOOO!" Isshin shouted bursting through the door. Both feet were in the air aimed at Ichigo fortunately Ichigo managed to raise his guard and caught his father's kick.
"Whoa..." Isshin muttered impressed by Ichigo's reaction.
"You haven't changed... I'm relieved." Ichigo grinned for a moment before settling into his natural scowl.
Isshin noted in amazement, "You stopped my crazy screw kick in midair... You're skills have..."
"Shut up!" Ichigo yelled, "Why the hell are you attacking me in the middle of the night?!"
"Middle of the night? It's 7am!" Isshin retorted breaking Ichigo's hold and threw a punch at his son, "Time to get ready for school!"
"What?!" Ichigo shouted in disbelief blocking his father's punch and retaliating with his own.
"Hey! Father! Brother! Stop that! You're bothering the neighbours!" Yuzu yelled looking into Ichigo's room to see her brother and father fighting. Karin stood next to her with her arms folded across her chest and an amused look in her eye.
"I haven't seen them this excited in a while."
"Karin! Don't just stand there! Stop them!" Yuzu protested but Karin just shrugged and continued watching the show. It had been a while since they had seen it after all.
Urahara's Shop Basement - 1st of September, 10:00am
"Yo! Kisuke!" Ichigo greeted Kisuke in his Shinigami form after stepping into the large training room. He had explained to his father that he had been given an apprentice ship at Urahara's Shop and needed to waive school for a little while. Surprisingly his father hadn't hesitate in agreeing and called the school up to explain the situation. He had been emailed with the assignments that he needed to complete by the end of the month.
Standing beside Kisuke, whom had been waiting for his arrival, was Yoruichi and Tessai.
"So what are we doing first?" Ichigo questioned his teachers.
Kisuke grinned from behind his fan, "I am going to be the one to continue your training on utilising Zangetsu effectively and you desperately need to learn how to control your spiritual energy."
Ichigo scowled in frustration. That meant more annoying delicate exercises like controlling that Spirit Core back at Kūkaku's place.
Just as Kisuke was about to explain what Tessai and Yoruichi were here for, Ichigo cut him off by asking, "Hey Kisuke, what's with the blue fan? Isn't it usually white?"
Indeed the fan that Kisuke was currently using was blue in colour. Said shopkeeper scowled as he remembered sneezing on his beloved regular fan and was forced to use this ordinary one. Yoruichi chuckling next to him wasn't helping either.
'I swear I will find the one that bad mouthed my store and avenge my beloved fan!' Kisuke thought determinedly.
"I just felt like using this one today. Back onto important matters, Tessai will begin instructing you in the matters of Kidō. He will teach you both, Bakudō: binding spells and Hadō: destruction spells." Kisuke pointed to Tessai and received a nod in agreement from said man.
Kisuke then signalled to Yoruichi and explained, "Ms. Yoruichi here will help improve your hand to hand combat and your fast movement."
"Not to mention your stamina." Yoruichi pointed out with a smirk and a glint in her eyes that Ichigo missed.
Ichigo scoffed, "My stamina is fine. I could've done that whole Bankai training without taking a break. You're the one that had to stop."
"Your fighting stamina is impressive." Yoruichi agreed slyly, "However, there are many different and more pleasurable ways to test a man's stamina."
Kisuke let out a perverted giggle and Tessai blushed at Yoruichi's teasing. Their reactions didn't compete with Ichigo's as the young man's face turned red from embarrassment and spluttered, "This isn't the time for your crazy antics!"
Yoruichi didn't lose her smirk and continued to look at him with amusement. She just couldn't help it... he was so innocent.
"I thought I had already master flash step?" Ichigo said confused after getting his embarrassment under control, "What else is there for me to learn in that area?"
"Mastered flash step?!" The Goddess of Flash asked incredulously. "Please, you've only scratched the surface. In Bankai you might be able to give me a little workout but you're still a long way off from being my equal!"
"Also considering the main strength of your Bankai is speed... just imagine how fast you would be in Bankai if you mastered flash step in your Shikai state." Kisuke explained to him.
Ichigo nodded in understanding, it made sense after all. "So what first?"
"We will start with controlling your spiritual energy and the first step is to seal away most of it." Kisuke informed him.
"Don't you remember what I told you when you were learning Bankai?" Yoruichi asked him with a grin on her face seeing Ichigo's confused look.
"I told you that your Zanpakutō is a full-time release form type because of your vast but uncontrollable spiritual power."
"Yeah so? I'll say the same thing I asked Uryū. If my spiritual power is high, shouldn't it remain on its maximum output?"
Now Kisuke lost the grin on his face that he had since Ichigo got here and became serious, "No, in fact it is a very bad thing. Why do you think Captains and Vice-Captains have to have limiters placed on them that conceal 80% of their spiritual power? Do you know how much damage that your leaking spiritual energy is causing to the souls of humans and the fact that it draws many Hollows to this town? The same town you wish to protect? If you learnt how to suppress your spiritual power, then that would mean less Hollows coming to Karakura. In turn that would mean less danger for your friends and family."
Ichigo was stunned by the amount of danger he was causing Karakura town just because of his lack of control of his spiritual energy. He knew no matter how much he hated this type of training, he would have to do it.
"That is just one reason why we have to seal it. Your spiritual power is so large that it is just impossible to control and so if we seal most away then it will be easier for you to learn some Kidō spells."
"While it might be nice to learn some Kidō, wouldn't my strength and speed be restricted because of the seal?"
"The seal is easily to remove." Kisuke shrugged easily, "Besides the seal is just to help you understand how to control your spiritual energy since the amount that you currently possess is too hard to control."
Ichigo nodded, "So how do I seal it then?"
"We will get to that soon but first I want to know about Zangetsu and your Inner Hollow." Kisuke replied.
"I can't sense Zangetsu." Ichigo told him, "Do you know what I need to do about him? I can hear him cackling in my head right now!"
"No, I don't." Kisuke said truthfully, "First we need to find out what happened to Zangetsu and the best way to do that is for you to go into your Inner World and find him."
"How do I get in there? Zangetsu has always pulled me in."
"We will use a method known as Jinzen." The eccentric scientist exclaimed.
"This method is the only way to carry on a proper conversation with your Zanpakutō. First you have to place your sword over your lap. Take a meditative pose and then force your mind to become one with Zangetsu." Yoruichi jumped in.
Ichigo sat down in a meditative pose that he had learnt as a kid when he learnt karate placed Zangetsu across his lap. He fell into the mediative stance and the adults watched him for a few moments. Tessai walked behind Ichigo and threw a punch towards the back of Ichigo's head. Ichigo quickly ducked under the punch that he sensed approaching him.
"Why did you dodge?" Tessai boomed angrily.
Ichigo just looked at him with confusion and blurted out, "Are you crazy?! If I don't dodge then it's going to hurt!"
"The fact that you dodged my fist means you aren't putting your soul into your sword! Now concentrate, picture your inner world, and connect your soul with your Zanpakutō." Tessai demanded.
Ichigo got back into his stance and began connecting with Zangetsu while Kisuke, Yoruichi, and Tessai watched on patiently.
Karakura High School - 1st of September, 10:10am
Orihime sat at her usual desk by the window at school looking through the window with a thoughtful frown on her usual cheery beautiful face. The orange haired beauty had acknowledged Uryū and Chad when they arrived and of course reunited with her best friend Tatsuki. However when Ichigo didn't turn up to class, she begun to get worried about him until she had sensed his spiritual pressure still at his house.
During the homeroom call just a little over an hour ago, their teacher Miss Ochi told them, "Ah yes, Isshin Kurosaki rang up earlier and said that Ichigo had just started an apprentice ship at Kisuke's shop and will be back in a few months. Such a shame, Ichigo could do much better than that dump."
Orihime was far too curious as to why Ichigo had gone to Kisuke's instead of school after feeling his spiritual pressure head to the store. Uryū and Chad both seemed to have the same feeling as well and each of them gave Miss Ochi excuses to get out of class. Keigo of course not wanting to be left out of the group tried to leave as well but their teacher wouldn't let him. It helped that all three of them were among the top students in the school.
"The only reason I can think of is his there for training." Chad concluded as the trio walked towards Kisuke's shop.
"That is the most logical outcome." Uryū agreed.
"But why? We saved Rukia and Ichigo is already strong enough to take on any Hollows that attack." Orihime questioned them curiously.
"Probably because of Aizen... Ichigo must be training in preparation for another fight with him or he is just worried that if Aizen attacks Karakura town he won't be strong enough." Uryū concluded but he bitterly thought, "And I can't do anything since I can't gather any spirit particles."
"Why would he attack Karakura town?" Orihime asked him confused. Why would a Shinigami want to attack this town, what would be the gain?
Uryū just shrugged not really interested in coming up any theories on why Aizen would attack this town. He couldn't contribute if there was a fight anyway.
"Is there any way you can recover your powers?" Chad asked Uryū which startled the Quincy who wasn't expecting the question. Chad might not be one for words, but he could read body language really well. So it was easy for him to see that Uryū was struggling without his powers even if he wouldn't come out and admit it.
"No not that I can think of. When I used The Letzt Stil, I was able to gather spirit particles at a rate that my body couldn't withstand. It gave me great power and I was able to defeat Kurotsuchi Mayuri with it. However because it surpassed my limits, it burnt my body up and once the power subsided I became unable to gather spirit particles. My body is far too damaged. While I can still sense people's spiritual pressure and see Hollow and Shinigami, my body can no longer fight."
"So your body is so damaged that you can't use your powers. I'm sorry Uryū. I know how much you love your heritage." Orihime told him sympathetically.
"If it's just because of that, couldn't Orihime heal it?" Chad questioned hopefully.
Uryū looked at him in extreme surprise since he had not thought of that and he looked at Orihime trying to conceal his hope but failing.
"Can you Orihime?" He almost pleaded.
Orihime smiled brightly at him while rubbing the back of her head, "I guess I can give it a try. I'll need you to lie down so I guess we will wait until we get to Kisuke's, unless you want to lie in the middle of the street."
"Uh no that's okay Orihime. I can wait until we get to Kisuke's." Uryū said hurriedly.
Only a few moments later did their eyes widened when they felt a shift in Ichigo's spiritual pressure.
"What just happened to Ichigo?" Chad grunted, light sweat descending from his forehead.
"His spiritual pressure has changed... into a Hollow's." Uryū said in disbelief.
Orihime shook off the feeling and quickened her pace to Kisuke's shop with Chad and Uryū not far behind.
Inner World – 1st of September, 10:12am
Ichigo awoke to a familiar place, sitting on the side of a tall building, and the sky was a deep sea's blue with no clouds. He stood up, always feeling a little bit strange that he was able to stand on the side of the building.
"Yo, isn't this a surprise. The King has come to greet the Horse."
Ichigo spun around to see his look alike in white crouching on the ledge that Zangetsu would usually stand on. The only difference was that his Inner Hollow wasn't on a pole.
"You sure are making a wimpy face there, huh?" Hollow Ichigo said as he stood up.
Ichigo ignored him for the moment and quickly looked around his surroundings for any sign of old man Zangetsu.
"Where is Zangetsu?" Ichigo asked in confusion.
"Zangetsu?" Hollow smirked and then pointed at Ichigo. "Do you mean the one that you have on your back or the one that I have here?"
He grasped the hilt of the Zangetsu he had on his back and withdrew the large sword before Ichigo. It was the same shape as Ichigo's but the colours were inverse. Instead of the edge being silver, it was black and the blade was silver instead of black. Instead of being white, the cloth was black.
'Another Zangetsu?' Ichigo thought incredulously.
"I am Zangetsu, Ichigo!" Hollow Ichigo shouted after seeing the confused look on Ichigo's face.
'What the hell is he on about?!' Ichigo thought in confusion. There was a clear difference in their appearance, so how could his Inner Hollow think that he was Zangetsu?
"Heh... I never expected you would come here so early, King." Hollow Ichigo admitted resting his Zangetsu on his shoulder, "I was hoping that I could devour you slowly and have you slowly lose your mind to the fear. However it can't be helped. You will just have to settle on being devoured now."
"I have too many people to protect to allow myself to be devoured by you." Ichigo scoffed irritably, "Answer my question... Where is Zangetsu?"
"Don't make me repeat myself... I am Zangetsu!" Hollow Ichigo said annoyed before he tilted his head to the right. Ichigo's confused expression didn't change and so he would have to explain it to him. "Who knows if you will understand but... the old man and I have always been one and the same. Both he and I are a part of your spiritual power, and I was a part of him! We all share the same body, and whenever the 'dominant' person changes, the outer appearance changes. When one is dominated by 'life', one is flesh. When one is dominated by 'death', one becomes bones. It's the same reasoning. My power expanded, and so the ruling power went to me. In addition, this way, the old man became a part of me instead. The more you try to use Zangetsu's power, the easier it is for me to control your soul!"
"I see..." Ichigo stated, "That's why whenever I grabbed Zangetsu's hilt, I could feel your presence instead of his. I get it... so that means if I am able to beat you here... then Zangetsu will... be restored into control of my spiritual power once again."
"You... beat me? That's impossible." Hollow Ichigo told him.
"That so?" Ichigo replied and withdrew his Zangetsu and pointed the tip at Hollow Ichigo, "Try saying that again when our swords meet!"
"Che... You're so stubborn!" Hollow Ichigo replied and then he leapt into the air with his Zangetsu in one hand raised above his head. As he descended towards Ichigo quickly, Ichigo raised his in the air to meet the downward strike and both Zanpakutō clashed fiercely.
Urahara's Shop Basement - 1st of September, 10:15am
Ichigo's three teachers were still waiting patiently for Ichigo to come out of Jinzen so they could begin the next part of his training. Well all but one was being patient.
"Maa... What is taking Ichigo so long?!" Kisuke said childishly. "I could be doing other things instead of just waiting here. Surely it shouldn't take him long to find his Zanpakutō!"
"Hush, Kisuke!" Yoruichi snapped, "He will be done when he is done."
"But Ms. Yoruichi... just think of the other fun stuff we could..." Kisuke's whining was suddenly cut off when they all buckled slightly under the sudden spiritual pressure that popped up. None of them had expected the sudden spiritual pressure but they shook it off immediately and identified that it came from Ichigo.
"Huh? I wasn't expecting that to happen." Kisuke said confused.
Their eyes widened when the spiritual pressure being released from Ichigo suddenly changed into a darker and denser feeling. Ichigo's previously bowed head shot up revealing him with a wicked grin on his face. His eyes had changed, his irises were now yellow and his sclera was black. A Hollow mask formed on the left side of his face. It took the form of a menacing skull and it was pure white in colour except for three red striped along the forehead and two under the eye.
The Hollowfied Ichigo leapt to his feet, his Zanpakutō in his hand and slashed at Kisuke's head but hit nothing but air.
"Whoa that was a close one!" Kisuke yelled standing on a large boulder looking down on Hollow Ichigo. He rested his cane on his shoulder, "If I hadn't been so worried about my trademark hat being damaged, I might not have been able to dodge that."
"Kisuke... what happened?" Yoruichi asked the scientist appearing next to him.
Kisuke narrowed his eyes and replied, "I think that it wasn't as simple as Zangetsu not being there. I believe that his Inner Hollow has devoured Zangetsu and now he and Ichigo are battling for control."
"And why didn't you think of this happening before sending him to his Inner World?!" Yoruichi snapped at him.
"I don't know the specifics in taming an Inner Hollow!" Kisuke said indignantly. "All the research I have done involving Hollowfication was simply learning how to stop Soul Suicide. If I knew how to deal with it I would have told Ichigo earlier! Tessai hit him with some Bakudō!"
Tessai nodded appearing behind the Hollowfied Ichigo and pointed his right hand at the Hollow.
"Bakudō #63: Locking Bondage Stripes!"
A yellow energy rope that looks like thick chains appeared out of mid air near Tessai's hand and wrapped tightly around the startled Hollow Ichigo's torso. Just as the Hollow was about to break free, Tessai added on another spell.
"Bakudō #99: Seal!"
Spiritual fabric wrapped around the Hollow's entire body on top of the previous binding spell and pinned his body firmly on to the ground. Spiritual fabric stacked to the ground around Hollow Ichigo with several iron shafts in an "X" shape.
"Bakudō #75: Quintet of 1 kan Iron Pillars!" Tessai concluded his string of spells.
Five incredibly tall and thick pillars, which were connected to each other by chains, were summoned in mid air above the Hollow. They descended towards him quickly and landed right on top of him. One on each leg, one on each shoulder blade, and one smack in the middle of his back.
"Nice job Tessai!" Kisuke praised his business partner after flash stepping to his location along with Yoruichi.
"Will that hold him?" Tessai grunted out.
"Hopefully... Just in case it doesn't..." Kisuke said as his cane stripped away revealing his Zanpakutō underneath, "Awaken, Benihime!"
His Zanpakutō took the form a sleek, medium-sized sword and the grip had a gentle decorative bend that ended at a crimson tassel dangling from the pommel. Instead of a cross guard, there was a U-shaped decoration covering the first three or four inches of blade, with a flower petal design just as it met a red string wrapping. The string is wrapped thrice around the hilt, with a three-loop bow on one side and a folded paper decoration on the other. Benihime's blade was straight and slim, though somewhat short, with the tip ending in a slanted razor-like edge instead of being tapered to a point.
"Kisuke!" Orihime shouted appearing inside the training room to their surprise along with Uryū and Chad. "What's happened to Ichigo?"
"Well... he seems to be going through a tiny problem..." Kisuke said sheepishly.
Ichigo's Inner World – 1st of September, 10:20am
The clash between the two Zangetsu's created a shockwave that shattered all of the windows on the building as both fighters struggled to overpower the other.
"Having a bit of trouble, Ichigo?!" Hollow Ichigo taunted him. He had his right hand holding his Zangetsu's handle and his left elbow pressing down on the blade trying to add more force. Ichigo was in the same position as his Hollow, with his right hand on Zangetsu's handle and his left elbow on the blade to brace himself.
"Yeah right!" Ichigo retorted. His eyes flared up with resolve and the edge of his Zangetsu had a faint blue aura surround it. Hollow Ichigo's glinted in excitement and mirrored Ichigo as a faint white aura surrounded the edge of his own Zangetsu.
"Getsuga Tenshō!" Both fighters yelled fiercely.
A mix of blue and white spiritual energy erupted from their blades and mixed together trying to overpower the other. In a manner of seconds both warriors were enveloped in an explosion of blue and white spiritual energy.
Ichigo skidded backwards out of the fiery explosion and used his spirit particle manipulation to stand in the air. He quickly scanned the area for his Inner Hollow but saw no sight of him and concluded that he was behind the explosion of power.
His eyes widened as his instincts screamed at him to move and he was just able to dodge the tip of his Hollow's Zangetsu that almost pierced his head. The Zanpakutō shot past him and with his free left hand he grabbed onto the handle.
Ichigo smirked as his eyes trailed the black cloth that straightened out down to the remnants of their previous attack. No doubt his Hollow thought he could throw his Zanpakutō and catch him off guard. Well he was about to pay the price for his mistake.
Blue spiritual energy enveloped his Zangetsu and Ichigo's eyes flashed with malicious intent. This wasn't like his fights with Ikkaku, Renji, Kenpachi and Byakuya. He cut to defeat them. He targeted non-vital areas. This time he won't.
'When I dodge, I won't let you cut me. When I'm protecting someone, I won't let them die. When I attack, I will cut you!' Those were the words that Kisuke had beat into him before he invaded Soul Society. He fought by those words. However in this fight, he had to make a slight change.
'When I attack, I will kill you!'
"Getsuga Tenshō!" Ichigo roared and unleashed the large blue crescent wave of spiritual energy towards Hollow Ichigo.
Ichigo's eyes widened however when at the corner of his eyes he saw the black cloth of Hollow Ichigo's Zangetsu suddenly be encased by white spiritual energy. He quickly released the Zanpakutō but it was too late and the white spiritual energy exploded from the Zanpakutō and enclosed Ichigo. Fortunately Ichigo managed to bring his own Zangetsu in front of the explosion to block out most of the damage.
"This is a lot more fun than I thought it would be King." Hollow Ichigo admitted with delight as the remnants from all of the previous explosions faded away. With the Inner World back to its calm status both fighters were able to see the others conditions.
Ichigo had a slight burn on his forehead and some wear and tears on the left side of his Shihakushō. Hollow Ichigo on the other hand and his left sleeve ripped apart from the elbow downwards and a light burn on his left forearm.
"I like that look in your eyes. You haven't had a look in your eyes like that since you fought Grand Fisher. The look that screams just how much you want to kill me!" Hollow Ichigo smirked at Ichigo and he began spinning his Zanpakutō with its cloth.
Ichigo's narrowed and said with some confusion, "I had no idea it was possible send spiritual energy through the cloth and use Getsuga Tenshō from a distance..."
Hollow Ichigo scoffed, "You barely know how to use Zangetsu Ichigo! You were amazed when you saw me use the cloth when we fought the first time... but not once did you ever use it on one of your fights!"
Ichigo didn't reply. The truth was he never found the opportunity to use it in a fight.
Hollow Ichigo stopped spinning his blade and grabbed the handle before resting it on his shoulder. His unwavering gaze fixed on Ichigo. It was beginning to creep Ichigo out.
"Jidanbō and Ikkaku..." Hollow Ichigo said, "I'll give you credit for those victories. You won them from your own strength and skills. However, Renji, Kenpachi and Byakuya... If it wasn't for my help then you would have been killed by all three of them!"
His mask... Ichigo remembered... in the areas where both Renji and Kenpachi had struck in a critical spot, a Hollow Mask appeared to block most of the damage. And of course against Byakuya, his Hollow took control.
"If helping me pisses you off so much... then why did you?" Ichigo demanded.
Hollow Ichigo's eyes narrowed and replied, "Ichigo, what's the difference between a king and his horse?"
"I don't mean kiddy shit like 'One's a person and one's an animal' or 'one has two legs and one has four.'" Hollow Ichigo explained. "If their form, ability, and power were the same, why is it that one becomes the king and controls the battle, while the other becomes the horse and carries the king?"
Ichigo remained silent holding his Zangetsu defensively and he slowly descended from the sky onto the building that Hollow Ichigo stood on.
"There's only one answer... INSTINCT!"Hollow Ichigo screamed viciously.
"Instinct..." Ichigo muttered.
"In order for identical beings to get stronger and gain the power they need to become king, they must search for more battles and power! They thirst for battle, and live to mercilessly, crush, shred, and slice their enemies! Deep, deep within our body lies the honed instinct to kill, and slaughter our enemies! However, you don't have that! You don't have those pure, base instincts! You fight with your brain! You try to defeat your enemies with logic, and it doesn't work! You're trying to cut them with a sheathed sword! That's why you're weaker than me, Ichigo!" Hollow Ichigo shouted furiously at Ichigo.
"What're talking about?" Ichigo questioned him, "I've been told that I have sharp instincts from my teachers and from some of the Shinigami I have battled."
Hollow Ichigo scoffed, "Your instincts look sharp from Shinigami that you have defeated. The reason they believe that is because you defeated them. Your primal instincts only tend to surface whenever you're out of any logical ways to win. When you fought Renji you focused on identifying the patterns in his attack and determine when he would be vulnerable. What happened then Ichigo? You missed, and he slashed you badly. If it wasn't for me protecting you then you would have died then. In the end you won the fight by abandoning your thought process and used your instincts. Logic won't beat me Ichigo... And for obvious reasons... I won't be protecting you this time!"
"You still haven't told me why you helped me in those battles." Ichigo pressed him.
Hollow Ichigo rolled his eyes, "You still don't get it... You really are a moron. If you die then I die and I am sick of a weakling like you being in charge of my fate. So now I will rise up and take the crown from you myself!"
"That's not going to happen! This is my body!" Ichigo retorted angrily. He pointed the tip of Zangetsu straight at Hollow Ichigo and placed his left hand on his right forearm. The white cloth wrapped around his right arm and a faint blue aura surrounded him. "I don't have the instincts to kill? Try looking at my sword again!"
"You're all talk, Ichigo!" Hollow Ichigo shouted back and mimicked Ichigo's stance.
"BANKAI!" They yelled in unison. Blue energy burst out of Ichigo and enveloping him while for Hollow Ichigo it was white in colour.
The real fight for control of Ichigo's body was about to begin...
End of Chapter
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Okay so this is the re-write of Tensa Zangetsu's True Power which I have named Resolve to Fight and Protect. This will have major changes compared to the original which is why I have decided to put it under a new story. I'll keep my previous one up until I catch up to it.
Memories of Nobody, Fade to Black, Zanpakutō Rebellion, Reigai and Amagai arc will all be included. Of course the Zanpakutō and Amagai arc won't be huge. Amagai will only take a maximum of three chapters and the Zanpakutō arc will be 3-7 chapters. Reigai arc will also be 3-7 chapters long. Of course they will have my own twists and have some minor and major differences.
This story will end before a major time skip and the sequel will focus on Hell, Fullbring arc and 1,000 Year Blood War arc.