Chapter 1: Queen of Hueco Mundo.
Time moved forward in an odd way after death.
At least for her, she couldn't say how anyone else reacted to the afterlife. She'd taken it in stride, though at the time she'd felt overwhelmed. It was still easy to remember the day she died, and how within the hour a chain, which had come from her chest, eroded painfully.
Her friends at the time were alive, well most of them, and that had allowed her to handle the mind numbing pain of hollowfying. She was pretty sure by now that one reason her chain of fate had eroded so quickly, when it usually took souls weeks if not years before they became Hollows and lost their hearts and usually their minds, was because she'd been a jinchūriki.
Her existence before she joined Team Seven was filled with darkness, loneliness, hate, bitterness, rage, any combination of negative emotions one could think up. In other words it had been hollow.
Once she'd become a Hollow she'd stayed in the living world for a few months, just to make sure everything was alright and then she'd left to her new home – which she'd seemed to instinctively know how to access, among other things – Hueco Mundo.
It kind of reminded her of Suna, or the Land of Wind in general, but everything was white and their was an endless moon and night. That was fine with her, nighttime was always her favorite time, but it was while there she realized the majority of Hollows were beast. They had no stable minds of their own, hell the majority weren't even humanoid like herself. Most seemed to form masked animals as large as Kyuubi – if not a bit smaller compared, definitely weaker.
After what seemed like a month – there was no real way of telling time in Hueco Mundo, she found – she had been getting accustomed to how Hollowfication worked. Most souls started out as simply Hollows, which were large and driven by instinct more than any other it seemed to her. The more souls they devoured, the more power they gained and eventually they evolved to the next level.
There were a fair amount of Vasto Lordes, but very few Arrancar, which were the highest evolution. In this form one gained their mind back, in most instances, and for lack of better term, some of their humanity. They could suppress the Hollow instincts better than any other evolution.
She had skipped this evolving all together, and she was sure it had to do with both the immense Chakra she'd had in life and Kurama.
As it was, it was easy to tell how her mask fragment came to be. She'd only seen the full version once or twice while in the living world, before she'd came to Hueco Mundo, since she'd spent very little time as a Vasto Lorde herself (Vasto Lorde being the evolution she'd skipped to upon becoming a Hollow). It was a very sinister fox, grinning in such a way it would give small children nightmares.
Of course, it was before she'd even arrived in Hueco Mundo she'd evolved to Arrancar, after the last tail of the Kyuubi had finally been merged with her power, even in death. She had a feeling her Zanpakutō was also heavily influenced by Kurama seeing as it was sentient, unlike most Arrancar Zanpakutō which acted mainly to contain their true power or form.
It wasn't until she ran into other former Jinchūriki that she realized it must have been, once again, a side effect of being jinchūriki in life. To her sadness her mother, who had been a jinchūriki before her, was not in Hueco Mundo. Though that meant her mother had been sent to Soul Society, and she supposed that was a much happier place for her mother to have gone.
She supposed it all depended on upbringing to if the Jinchūriki had enough negative emotion to become Hollows, or maybe a Shinigami had simply gotten to her mother faster, and her mother's chain hadn't eroded as quickly. After all, none had known Kushina was a jinchūriki but a select few.
Like her, the other jinchūriki who were dead – which was everyone but Gaara and Killer B when she'd died – had started out as Vasto Lorde, completely skipping over the other evolutions.
She was the quickest to become Arrancar, of course one became an Arrancar by ripping their mask off and none of them had known this until certain times into their afterlife. She'd figured it out about two months after her death, while still in the human world. The others had figured it out between five and nine months respectively.
What had confused her was Kabuto's resurrection jutsu, if the other jinchūriki, along with Itachi were Hollows – Itachi being a rather level headed Adjuchas rather quickly after his death and Hollowfication – then how had Kabuto summoned their souls back?
The truth was the Jutsu had still worked because they were souls, even if they were Hollows. Unfortunately, for the most part, his jutsu had taken their free will, otherwise they would have simply eaten Kabuto's soul and been done with it. Pity that couldn't have been the end of it.
Once Kabuto was taken out and the jutsu ended, they had reappeared in Hueco Mundo as if they'd never been gone. Of course they remembered everything, and while upset at being used they had moved past it.
The Fact remained that she, Uzumaki Miyuki, had never been normal in life and even in death she defied all human logic – or otherwise. At least she got to see her friends every now and then and sometimes a Hollow appeared that was once someone she knew. She remembered running into three certain ones the most clearly, Madara, Kabuto and Orochimaru.
She'd made quick work of taking care of them, Vasto Lordes or not, sometimes with the help of the others. The fact there were so few Arrancar had allowed for them not to realize they could rip their mask off to gain a new level of power.
Of course, considering she and the other former jinchūriki could be considered the new Bijū (they had actually taken on their Bijū's names as aliases of sorts, in honor of their old tenants which helped form their Zanpakutō's) the three major pains from their human life most likely wouldn't have stood much of a chance.
Sometime, about eighty years after her death in the living world – she sometimes visited Konoha and her friends to check in – there was another old friend who arrived in Hueco Mundo. Sasuke, which really shouldn't have been much of a surprise to her, but running into a recently evolved, Vasto Lorde, Sasuke had surprised her at the time.
At first she'd thought it was Itachi, but then realized it was a Vasto Lorde so couldn't possibly be the former Akatsuki member. She'd been happy to see him once more, though. In the time before he'd arrived Gaara and Killer B had already joined as the last jinchūriki's to die.
In life, she and Sasuke had gone through a lot together, facing each other in life or death fights many times after he'd left for Sound. When he'd returned during the war it had been one of the happiest days of her life.
If not the happiest, honestly some of her earliest human memories were hazy at best. Most memories, from the time she was twelve to when she'd died at seventeen were rather clear, though. She'd held onto them tightly.
Years passed, and they became the few existing Arrancar and were hailed as gods of Hueco Mundo, as Kings and Queens. Personally, Miyuki felt she could have done without the attention and praise, but what was done was done. As time continued to move on they all noticed how Hollows began to become even less intelligent, to evolve slower, to not be quite as powerful as once before.
As one of the ones who visited the human world the most often, Miyuki could report that things were vastly changing. What she suspected was that the world was loosing the ability to harness their chakra as they once had.
The physical energy and spiritual energy was no longer blending together properly, as the arts were lost with the old world Elemental Nations and Ninja began to become obsolete.
By the time a thousand years had passed it was unlikely that unless they knew the arts in life, as she and the others did, there would be no more chakra users in the world. They were now an extinct race, if one didn't count Miyuki and the others – considering they were dead it was unlikely they would.
This was when Hueco Mundo wasn't quite as populated with Hollows.
Now days, some three thousand years latter, things had truly changed. Hollows were even more viscous at times, and had grown greatly in numbers. Unlike when Miyuki had first came to Hueco Mundo, Vasto Lordes and Arrancar had become even more of a minority.
She had noticed though, that recently there was rumors of the Arrancar numbers growing, which confused her. Arrancar were the most scarce of all evolutions for quite a while. For some time it had only been her, Gaara, Yugito, Yagura (who was actually quite likable once he got over the whole Madara-mind-fuck, which had started the Kiri civil war and Bloodline Massacres), Rōshi, Han, Utakata, Fū, Killer B, Itachi and Sasuke.
Over all Miyuki didn't mind this new existence she led, though she found it kind of ironic that she'd spent her life trying to prove to her village she wasn't a monster or demon, and that was basically what Hollows were considered.
She may have her mind intact, and power over her baser instincts that loved the fight, the hunt, and the carnage, but she, like all Hollows, had still lost her heart. The hole above her navel, just below her breast was proof of this. As was the mask fragment, which was covered nearly half of the left side of her face, circling her eye, down her cheek, around her ear which continued up in a bone fox ear.
The right side also had a piece of her mask which went down her hairline and circled her ear and ended with a fox-line bone ear, much like the right side. The white mask had three sharp black marks, a resemblance to her whisker birthmarks she'd had in life.
On the right side, where her face was clearly visible, the same whisker marks could be seen as she'd had in life, but they were thicker, more feral looking just as they were on her mask fragment.
Other than the mask she hadn't changed much from life in appearance. Her hair was still sort of messy, with a subtle spiky quality when it came to the bangs that fell in her face. It was a bright, yet moderately dark red – similar to her mother's hair.
It was long, if it were not tied up with golden bands in pigtails, which trailed behind her to her calf's, than it would probably touch the sands of Hueco Mundo. It didn't help that she was still rather short, only 5'0 1/2. Her skin was paler than in life, her whisker marks thicker and darker, as mentioned before. Her eyes were still the same bright cerulean blue, but now had slit-pupil's, like a fox.
Miyuki continued to exist, though there were not many who believed the old ones to still be around, but their legend still existed. Only a few knew for certain she and the other titled 'Deities of Hueco Mundo' existed. It was how they preferred it, after all.
As it was for nearly fifty years now Miyuki had spent most of her time in the living world, most aptly in Karakura Town, Japan, which had once been a large part of Fire Country, mostly Konohagakure and a few miles outside of the once forested village.
Now there were large buildings and roads and the land marks she had grown up with were long gone. Three thousand years did that, though.
There was something that kept her in the human world, a certain family. A family she'd known for around fifty years, starting with Kurosaki Masaki's mother, Misao, and ending with Masaki's children and husband who were still living in Karakura Town.
It was this that would change how the Sword of Fate fell upon Kurosaki Ichigo, and all of Soul Society.
And so the sword of fate fell...
"You'd think she'd be on time after so many years..." a red haired male muttered.
A woman, with long blonde hair in a tight french braid, cat ears made of bone, and slit-pupil, cat-like eyes chuckled at the redheads words.
"When is Miyuki ever on time, Gaara?" Yugito asked, amused.
The redheaded man, about twenty in appearance, sighed. He had distinct, stoic, sea foam green eyes, which lacked pupils, and had black rings around them. His hair was messy and on his forehead one could see the kanji for love. Along the opposite side of his face (the left) was a part of a tanuki-like bone mask that started from his temple, the corner of his eye, and then widened slightly along his cheek to the corner of his mouth and over his ear.
There were eight others sitting around the large table, made of what seemed like white stone or marble, but was made from the sand found in Hueco Mundo, and the minerals that made up the trees found there.
Being from the Land of Wind and Sunagakure, which was largely made of sand and other minerals, Gaara had been great help when it came to creating the large structure that the eleven of them met at, at least once a month.
Some could say it was a castle, located in a hiden location in Menos Forest. Hidden with heavy genjutsu and fūinjutsu. Of course, all of their personal territories, or homes, were.
"Hn, she probably picked it up from Kakashi-sensei," another male muttered, sounding almost annoyed.
Said person had black hair which had a distinctly duck-butt hairstyle, black eyes and a bone mask which curved along his cheekbone from the corner of his eye to a little above his jaw, in a wing like shape. Though he had died at an older age, he didn't look older than seventeen or eighteen, his prime.
There was another who looked like him, but his mask fragment was larger, and had more of a resemblance to half a crow skull the way it was shaped, covering nearly half the right side of his face. His hair was long and black, just as the younger looking boys was. He was only around twenty or twenty-one himself in appearance.
"How cruel, teme, here I thought we'd moved past the name calling," a familiar, if not slightly childish voice interrupted them all.
They all looked over at the girl who'd entered. She was between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, but could pass for younger because of the pigtails she kept her long, crimson hair in. her mask fragment was fox-like, covering half the left side of her face, with a second fragmented piece along the hairline on the left side, curling around her ears and going up in a bone fox ear, as it did on the other side.
The mask wasn't quite as plain as the others – sans Gaara's, who had black designs, similar to when he was possessed by Shukaku in the chūnin Exams when they were twelve, on his mask fragment. Her's had three whisker marks. It was mirrored on her bare left cheek, something she'd brought from her human life.
She wore a shin length, white cheongsam, which was split up the sides till her hips, and white thigh length stockings on under this. Her feet were encased in black and dark brown shin boots, which went up to just below her knees. The cheogasm itself had short sleeves, and crimson edges, on the back was the Shiki Fūjin in black. On her hands were orange fingerless gloves.
Though one couldn't see it, on the inside were seals that kept her clothes from needing to be cleaned, and replaced. If they were ripped or torn in a fight, all she had to do was feed chakra or simply spiritual energy to the seals and they'd be as good as new. Being an Arrancar didn't exactly give them many options of going out and buying more than one copy after all.
"Miyuki-chan," Yugito said, smiling slightly at the younger girl, along with the others. "Have a nice trip to the human world?"
They were all considered deities of Hueco Mundo, as Kings and Queens, but Hueco Mundo didn't have a governing like other places. It was all about power, and whoever had the most were considered rulers. It was a little different for them, since they were the oldest Hollows still around, and the most powerful. Of course, they'd faded mostly to legend now, but that was how they liked it.
The point was, they all knew Miyuki was the most powerful out of them all, not just because of having been the Kyuubi's container, but because she'd been a powerhouse herself as a human.
"It was alright," she said, sitting in the only remaining seat next to Killer B and Sasuke. "And you all?"
"Fine. Hueco Mundo has been... Hueco Mundo," Fū said, shrugging, her shoulder length, mint green hair shifting with the movement.
"Not like there's much to see around here," Killer B said, for once not rapping.
It had taken about a thousand years, give or take, but eventually Killer B had gotten to the point where he didn't talk in rap constantly. Sometimes he did break out into a rap, every now and then, but mostly he spoke as a normal person. Which saved everyone's ears and nerves, so it wasn't an unpleasant change. It had taken them a while to get used to though.
"Personally, I think it's nice," Gaara muttered and everyone snorted. Gaara raised an eyebrow at them, and sighed, rolling his eyes slightly. "Maybe it's a little repetitive at times."
"That's easy for you, you grew up in a place with nothing but sand," Miyuki said, smirking slightly. "Anyways, is there anything to add?"
"Hmm, I've noticed Hollow activity seems to be increasing," Yugito mentioned.
Many nodded, having noticed the same thing.
"I've heard rumors, about an large group of Arrancar..." Yagura began. "I'm still working on finding more on the subject."
Miyuki frowned, wondering if this had anything to do with the odd feeling she'd been getting lately. She'd noticed more Hollows around and in Karakura lately.
"When I left Karakura I noticed something off, I think there might be a Shinigami there."
"That's not unusual," Itachi spoke up, quirking an eyebrow. "There usually are, Karakura does get a lot of Hollow activity at times."
Miyuki nodded, still scowling.
"I know, but I just have this uneasy feeling. Like I'm needed there..."
Everyone frowned, they'd learned that Miyuki's gut was usually right.
For as long as he'd been able to remember seeing spirits was normal. He couldn't really recall ever being unable to in any case.
It helped that he wasn't the only one. His younger sisters were spiritually aware as well, though only Karin could see with any clarity, like he did. Before his mother died she too was able to see them.
Kurosaki Ichigo, age fifteen. Until the day he met her his life was relatively normal, except for the spirits. One in particular, which had hung around his family for years came to mind when someone mentioned spirits.
Before the Shinigami girl, Rukia, appeared he'd thought he knew pretty much all there was to know about Miyuki.
Miyuki was the odd spirit that had known his mother, and maternal grandmother, and so there was a lot that was known about her, but he would find he was wrong. That in all actuality what Miyuki told his family about her past was only the beginning.
What he did know, was that it was the night of a bright, full moon that everything changed.
"It's amazing, a miracle!" his dad, Isshin exclaimed, bringing Ichigo from his shock somewhat. "A truck plows right into the house, and yet not a soul was hurt!"
"Right, a miracle," Karin muttered, staring with calm disbelief at the hole in the house.
Ichigo twitched, sweat-dropping at how unbelievable ol' goat face was being.
"You can't be serious," Ichigo muttered, looking back to his sisters.
It was easy to see they remembered nothing either, and the wounds he knew they'd had were gone. At least Karin was much more hesitant to believe they hadn't woken up from a truck plowing into the house.
How was that even humanly possible? Unless someone was in a coma that kind of event was bound to wake someone up!
'I wonder if that girl went back to that place she was talking about, Soul Society, or whatever?' Ichigo thought, wondering what happened to the short girl.
"Ichi-nii, if you don't eat now you'll be late for school," Yuzu interrupted, and the orange haired sighed and nodded.
"Right, I'll be right there Yuzu."
'Whatever, it doesn't matter anymore. She's gone and so is that thing. There's no use worrying about it,' he thought, following after his sister.