Chapter 10

It was a bright, beautiful, and sunny day in the spirit world. Fairly far from the Soul Society, deep within a dense forest secluded from civilization, Hachigen Ushoda known to his friends as Hachi, left his log cabin to take a walk. On nice days like this, Hachi enjoyed being outside in nature, feeling the fresh air on his face, smelling the flowers, and watching the wildlife in this forest. The former vice leader of the kido corps was so happy when Captain Commander Yamamoto lifted the ban of himself and the rest of the Visored from the spirit world after Aizen's defeat. The large round man with short pink hair, and a light pink mustache enjoyed the world of the living, but to him nothing could compare to the lush nature of the spirit world. Everything, from the buildings to the trees, was seeping with Reiatsu and being in it's presence was very appealing to any spiritually aware soul.

Hachi closed his eyes peacefully as he walked down one of his favorite trails, taking in the smells and feelings of the day. Suddenly, the large man abruptly stopped, opened his eyes, turned his head to the left, and with a stern look spoke out to the strange and threatening presence he felt nearby.

"Come on out!" Hachi beckoned to the trees, "I am well aware that I am not alone in this forest."

From behind a tree, Cedric Ares calmly walked into the kido master's sight. He gave a small cocky smile as he spoke to his target, praising him for his ability to sense him.

"Well, well well…You wouldn't have been able to sense me unless you knew to keep an eye out for my spiritual pressure. You know, we're awfully far from the Soul Society. It took me a while to find you out here in the middle of nowhere."

"I have gone through great lengths to stay hidden." Hachi responded calmly, "I am curious sir…who are you and how did you find me? Also, why is It you have gone through such great lengths to find me?"

Cedric, amused by the question chuckled a little to himself as he replied. "I don't see any point in introducing myself to someone who I am about to kill, it's not like we can go out for coffee later and chat about our first impressions of each other, right? As far as why I am here and how I found you…they are very connected."

Cedric raised his arm, showing his left hand wearing a shiny silver gauntlet with sharp talons as fingers, as he continued to speak. "This is called the Hell Gauntlet, it tracks down ancient artifacts I need to reach the Void, a prison in Hell for the worst criminals in the history of the Soul Society. As soon as I put it on its power linked with mine, and it led me to you because deep inside your body, you contain the last piece I need to open a portal to the Void. "

"I see…" Hachi reflected on these words, showing no appearance of any fear of his foe. "How very strange of you. You refuse to tell me your name because you claim you will be killing me shortly. And then, you take time to speak to me in details about what you are doing here."

"Good point," Cedric spoke as he shrugged, and raised his blade and pointed it towards Hachi. "I guess I just wanted someone to know how much work I've had to do to get to this point! Fair enough...I'll cater to your needs, as they will be the last ones you ever have…My name is Cedric Ares, I am an enemy to the Soul Reapers and by opening a portal to the Void and releasing its prisoners, I will be doing my part to destroy the Soul Society."

Cedric paused before attacking Hachi and spoke once more. "Before we get this over with, I am interested in knowing how you knew I'd be coming for you? I pride myself in my ability to discretely work and get the job done."

"Simply put…" A voice was heard somewhere in the vicinity of Cedric and Hachi, "You aren't as discrete as you like to think you are."

In a quick motion, the captain of the 5th squad, Shinji Hirako appeared in between Cedric Ares and Hachi, with his Zanpakuto drawn and pointed at the rogue soul reaper. Cedric was surprised to see this foe, and also interested in why he was dressed in human clothes. Shinji wore khaki pants and a tucked in orange button down shirt.

"We knew you were coming, and put together a little welcoming party to give you the…proper greeting." Shinji spoke a malicious voice with a smile, revealing large front teeth.

"A welcoming party?" Cedric asked as he heard three more shadows flash step into the scene, behind him. He turned around and looked up to see standing on sturdy branches of three different trees, Shinji's fellow Visords, Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi, Kensei Muguruma, and Mashiro Kuna. The assassin smiled, as this was not the first attempt in his life of people trying to ambush him. "Now who the hell are you people? And why are you all not wearing soul reaper clothing?"

"If the information we received from Kisuke Urahara is true…" Shinji continued to speak, "You have been out of the Soul Society for 500 years right? Boy, have you missed a lot of interesting stuff."

"Answer my questions!" Cedric impatiently interrupted Shinji, not liking his calm demeanor.

"I'm getting to it…" Shinji rolled his eyes as he responded, "Good lord, nobody told me how annoyingly impatient you are. Like I was saying, about 110 years ago a little accident happened, which through some unfortunate events gave us some interesting powers."

Cedric noticed on each of his foes, counting Hachi, strange masks resembling the faces of hollows appearing on the tops of the heads of all his enemies. He had remembered long ago hearing stories of Hollowfication, where soul reapers would be able to get the powers of a Hollow. Fascinated, Cedric grinned with excitement at this fascinating development in the folks before him. In truth, in the past 500 years Cedric considered himself more like minded to Hollows then Soul Reapers, the idea of becoming one seemed like nothing more than a lofty dream or fairy tale to him.

"It's a good thing we're going to kill you…" Shinji replied, his voice full of seriousness and murderous intent, "Because Old Man Yamamoto himself forbids us to use such powers…but we're pretty far away from the Soul Society, and you're threatening the safety of one of our own, and you killed Orihime Innoue….who was a very special girl!"

Cedric found himself temporarily stunned as all four Visoreds dawned their mask and increased their spiritual pressure tremendously. In a quick moment, escaped captive from Hueco Mundo regained his composure and summoned the Shikai of his Zanpakuto."

"Run like the wind, Osafu!"

As Moshiro and Kensei moved quickly off their trees to try to strike Cedric, the wielder of the wind Zanpakuto moved even faster and jumped high into the air, dodging their attacks. From high in the sky, Cedric looked down at his four enemies and knew he would need to split their attention if he wanted any chance of getting to the keeper of the Blood Chalice.

The Visoreds were shocked to see how quickly Cedric could move as he dodged the attacks towards him and flew into the air. The looked up to see him smiling back down at them.

"You all have no idea how much I envy you!" Cedric spoke, "Those masks…so you were exiled to the human world because you became better than a mere soul reaper with those hollow powers? And then am I to gather that the four of you foolishly returned to this place to regain your place in their little kingdom, like a dog returns to its own vomit? Why? You're clearly superior! I had heard of hollowfication before and I had always hoped if I met someone with your abilities, I'd be able to befriend them. If anyone is to understand how disgusting a soul reaper is, I would think it'd be a soul reaper that has felt the glory of a Hollow. You see, after being exiled into Hueco Mundo and residing there for so many centuries my eyes have been opened to the evils of the soul society. I have met true power, and it has welcomed me home as its own. Sure, they never gave me a cool mask like yours…but I have something else."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Shinji asked. The captain watched as Cedric pulled a flute out of his tunic made out of hollow bone.

"Did you know in Hueco Mundo there is a place called Menos Forest?" Ares spoke, with an evil grin on his face. "It's a forest, much like this…completely infested with millions of Menos! Around the Soul Society and the World of the Living, if you see one that's a sight…just imagine seeing thousands! It's truly beautiful…and this little flute, why it opens up a portal from wherever I play to the Menos Forest. And after that, well, let's just say the Menos get very curious to see what's on the other side."

"He can't be serious…" Kensei muttered as he raised his fists in the air ready for another attack.

"I'm not much of a musician…" Cedric continued his tangent, "But maybe you all can appreciate the beauty of what's about to happen next!"

Cedric closed his eyes as he focused his spiritual pressure into his hands as he began playing the Menos Flute. The music was so loud, as if coming from the heavens. The notes themselves were very low and haunting, as if Satan himself was playing the flute. As the melody continued, a large black rip in space appeared behind Cedric. Several giant Menos Grandes began clawing their way through the portal that Cedric opened.

"There has to be at least 20 or 30 of them!" Rōjūrō, Rose for short, exclaimed as he readied his blade. "We need to dispose of them quickly before they scatter throughout the spirit world!"

"You three go," Shinji ordered his comrades, "Me and Hachi can take care of this guy…"

"Perhaps we should handle him with caution." Hachi added from behind Shinji, "Apparently Ichigo had issues keeping him in the world of the living. You of all people should know Ichigo's power."

"Maybe the kid's gone soft since his battle with Aizen." Shinji said with a wry smile, "This guy isn't anything special. He's got a fancy flute that summons hollows, and he's got some pep in his step. I'll slice him to pieces before he even knows what hit him!"

Shinji dropped his sword, which levitated in the air as he spoke his release command. "Collapse, Sakanade!"

Tatsuki opened her eyes and found herself floating in some kind of abyss of swirling purple and black energy. She couldn't move a single bone in her body. She was numb, was unable to look around to survey her surroundings.

"Am I dead?" Tatsuki asked, "No…this can't be the end for me, I can't go this way."

"What a terrible defeat you faced!" A majestic voice boomed throughout the endless abyss that Tatsuki's seemingly lifeless body floated in. She instantly recognized the voice as her Zanpakuto, Simba.

"I….I was overpowered…" Tatsuki spoke back, her voice quivering with disgust and shame.

"Nonsense!" The voice bellowed back, the sheer might his tone was enough to frighten Tatsuki. "You have spent days learning to access my power and used none of it in your duel! Like a selfish child, you rushed in before trying to use any kind of skill at all! How can you claim to be overpowered when you didn't use any of the power you have access to? Little girl, you don't even know the names of the attacks I have given you!"

"The names…of attacks?" Tatsuki inquired, so confused at what her Zanpakuto was saying to her.

"If it was up to me…your life would be over." Simba replied, "I told you before…I care not of your battles, causes, and reasoning. I live to serve the strong and powerful. The weak will have no place at my side."

"If…it was up to you?" Tatsuki asked as her body began to be surrounded by an orange glow in the dark purple abyss. She was beginning to feel warmth throughout her entire body, "Who else would it be up to?"

Without any warning, Tatsuki awoke in a field not far from the Rukon district in the spirit world. Of course, she had no idea where she was. As the soul reaper surveyed surroundings she had absolutely no idea how she ended up in the field. Tatsuki rose to her feet and then gasped in shock…her body was perfectly fine, with no blemish whatsoever.

A/N: What do you think so far? Please let me know! In theory, unless I decide to add more as the story goes, we are about halfway through with this book! The plot will continue and end in the Soul Society. Another gentle reminder, that I still don't own Bleach. Thanks for reading, and please review!