The Final Battle Begins
A grim tone hung in the air of the Soul Society as the hours of the night slowly bled away to the coming dawn, with the next round of the war coming up. Soul Society had lost many soldiers and several notable officers while the Quincy had lost half their main force with their elites having proven to be far harder to kill, to say nothing about the possibility of Yhwach taking to the field while Ichigo was still in the Royal Realm. His presence in the forge apparent to all that listened by the clang of a hammer and the roar of fire that rang throughout the afterlife. It was to this melody that the final preparations were made.
The clanging of steel that rang as Zaraki and Byakuya left the hospital, determined to see the war through. The roar of fire as Rukia gathered her sister-wives with the intentions of going to get Senna, who was still in the World of the Living, to plan their rescue of Halibel. The ringing of the hammer falling drummed through the air as Nozomi armed her latest soldier model Modsouls and Reigai, blank gray androgynous humanoids with implanted military training and musculature, with anti-Quincy guns made from the leftover Hollow Reishi after the failure of the bombs. The explosions of heat that washed over the realm as Kyoraku made his way to a special prison where another vile soul remained hidden. The timed beats of the forging as Kisuke and Mayuri watched ten Gikon set into the mechanical heart that now laid in Chad's chest. The ticking of the clock was replaced with these timed strikes as Ryuujin Jakka was remade for its new master.
The moment Ichigo and Oetsu had reached the smith's palace Zangetsu rose from the Asauchi pit holding a small handful of dimly glowing embers, the remaining life force of the once mighty Ryuujin Jakka. Wasting no more time, Ichigo and Oetsu went down t the forge and immediately got to work mixing in the broken remains of the Zanpakuto with the new spirit. With every strike of the forging hammer the fire and heat of the Zanpakuto grew, building up until it was a raging inferno. Eventually the heat grew so intense that even the smith's Zanpakuto forge girls couldn't withstand it and his hammers kept melting, but the blade wasn't complete. Ichigo took the fury of the forge and held the billet still with his bare hands, ignoring the fire and heat that ate away at his body while Oetsu suffered right along with him to shape the blade. The air of the Royal Realm was set ablaze as Oetsu tossed away another destroyed hammer, his sixth one, and the palaces within the realm started to blacken from the heat as the blade was finally started taking its new shape. The two Shinigami at the core of the forge powered through, even as their skin cracked, peeled, and blistered from the fire that threatened to reduce both of them to ashes in an instant, all to finish this new and terrifyingly powerful blade.
Within the inner world of the hybrid a new spirit started to take form, starting out as a fading candle light before rising as a towering inferno. Those flames then slowly compressed into a burning resemblance of Yamamoto from his final days of life and grew progressively younger as the blade was hammered out. Eventually the fire started to change color, shifting within the original orange and red fire was flames of blue, black and white. Soon the visage of Yamamoto disappeared completely as well as it became a figure of fire. At the same time the forge exploded with such intensity that everything in the Royal Realm cracked and splintered with multiple places erupting into flames and the Soul Society gained what seemed like a sun in the middle of the night. The inside of the forge was still melting fast from the sheer heat of the newly finished blade, Ichigo trying desperately to bite back the pain from his right arm burning in the flames that engulfed it. A sheath materialized, almost at the same time, in Ichigo's left hand as he struggled to contain the power and wrath of his new blade. With great effort he slid the blade into its container and the flames were all extinguished, though he was still in the middle of what may as well have been an active volcano, molten stone having replaced the floor.
His regenerative abilities were beginning to run out as his flesh continued to burn and melt in the forge as it cooled at a glacial pace, his arm was still cloaked in flames until the Zanpakuto girls stormed in. The next few moments were a blur as they took Ichigo and Oetsu out of the forge, both half dead from the process, and sent them to Tenjiro's palace to recover. Unfortunately all the moisture in the Royal Realm and entirety of Soul Society, was burned away upon the blade's completion and Tenjiro had to make do with standard healing methods while his subordinates restored the springs. As Ichigo began to black out, one word sounded out in his mind. The name of his new sword.
(Squad 15 Barracks)
A Garganta opened in the underground base of the Shinigami Squad in the world of the Living, soon revealing Orihime, Rukia, and Neliel. Most of the sister-wives were already in Soul Society with the exception of Senna, so while Esdeath got familiar with her new family and begin planning the attack, Rukia, Nel, and Orihime would bring in the bubbly member of the 15th division. The only Shinigami that remained were trainees, Isshin, Hiyori, Lisa, and Senna herself, and all of them were groaning in pain from being twisted and broken.
"Wha- what happened?" Orihime whispered in shock before sending out her healing shield to try and heal as many as she could. Rukia and Nel began investigating the area, finding trace amounts of Reishi from a powerful individual while the damage gave Rukia some idea on who attacked. "Hiyori!" Orihime's sudden cry brought the attention of the Shinigami and the Arrancar back to her, finding the Vizard twisted in a rather horrid manner. Orihime immediately began healing her as the tomboy's eyes fluttered open, weak and already trying to close again.
"Watch... sur...veil...lance footage..." She managed to groan out before passing out again. The girls shared a glance before nodding and each one set about their unspoken tasks; Orihime would continue healing, Nel would gather the injured, and Rukia would find the video recording. The squad 13 lieutenant found her way to Hiyori's surveillance room and set about finding the footage of the attack. When she did she let the video play out; showing her the image of the many trainees, the officers that remained to keep things peaceful, and a hooded figure that appeared from a shadow.
"Pernida!" Rukia gasped, recognizing the description she heard from other Shinigami that encountered the living hand. She continued to watch in horror as it appeared to make some demands, with a couple of the trainees attempting to intimidate it, before shooting something from the hood and started to horrifically twist their bodies. It wasn't enough to kill but more than enough to make one wish it had, clearly an intimidation tactic. Soon Isshin and Masaki stepped forward to initiate a counter attack; Lisa, Hiyori, and Senna trying to organize a retreat before the underground base started to twist and shift to cut off any exit.
She continued to watch as Pernida and the Squad 15 leaders fought, with Lisa learning the hard way that being in close contact was a bad idea. The Vizard tried stabbing the Quincy elite with her spear, only for it to snap into pieces with her right arm getting ripped off. It became a ranged battle after that as Masaki and the Vizards used Balas and Ceros against the hooded hand with Isshin burning away the tendrils that kept sprouting from the Quincy with Engetsu. It worked for the first three times before Engetsu's flames became ineffective, not even leaving the tentacles smoking as they touched him and began to twist his body into an unrecognizable shape. Isshin did managed to fire a fiery Getsuga at the Quincy and burned away the coat to reveal the giant left hand. The sight stunned Hiyori and Masaki, leaving them open to Pernida's attack and slowly twisting them to the point of breaking.
"Damn it! Where's the audio!?" Rukia cursed as she tried in vain to get the sound to come on, only to yield failure as the result as she kept watching. Pernida was one inch away from snapping Masaki's neck when it froze and turned its attention on Yuzu and Karin who made their appearance. They started telling the hand... something and it started to become an argument, Pernida coming close to killing Masaki and Isshin before the twins drew their Zanpakuto. Much to Rukia's surprise they made no move to attack the Quincy elite but got ready to cut their own throats, that made Pernida stop everything it was doing. The twins yelled something else and Pernida, reluctantly, set Masaki and Isshin down before creating a shadow portal. There was a pause before the giant left hand squeezed through the portal with Karin following it and Yuzu doing the same once Karin was through and the portal closed.
"No... oh no." Rukia groaned in horror. "Did they... really?" It appeared to the lieutenant that Yuzu and Karin had sacrificed themselves to save the members of squad 15, but they were probably the targets in the first place. Which meant that Yhwach was planning to use them against Ichigo in some way. Once again, her husband's sisters were being used against him. "It can't be the same... Aizen wanted a distraction. Yhwach doesn't have the means to do the sa... wait... NO!" She wanted to be wrong, but everything she heard about the Quincy Emperor indicated that he would do just what she was thinking. "Need to get back! NEL! ORIHIME! WE'RE GOING!" She shouted as she burst out of the room where she found emergency response teams from Squad 4 led by Ryuuken gathering the injured with help from the exorcist and Arrancar.
"What is it?" Orihime asked, taking a break after restoring Isshin, Masaki, and Senna. "Is it about Yuzu and Karin?" Rukia nodded in affirmation.
"We need to warn Ichigo. Now." Rukia turned to Ichigo's uncle who held up a hand.
"I've already done my part." Ryuuken told the Shinigami. "Uryu has what he needs and I'm helping to heal these people. This is the extent of my actions, I don't fight." Rukia growled in frustration as Nel opened a Garganta and her group left.
'Ichigo, you must be careful.' The hybrid's wife thought as they ran as fast as they could back to Soul Society. 'Your sisters' lives depend on your control.'
(Seireitei: Unmarked Prison)
Kyoraku made his way down to the lone cell of this particular prison. It was in the middle of nowhere, one-way access, with the number of people that were supposed to know about it being able to fit on one hand, made specifically for one person and one alone. The current Captain Commander gripped the fragile key in his pocket as he made his way down to the only prisoner in this lonely jail.
"Well, it seems I have a visitor." The lone occupant said as Shunsui made it to his destination. "I was getting really bored lately so thank you for coming." The man inside was Tokinada Tsunayashiro, the head of the Tsunayashiro clan and the most politically powerful person in the whole of Soul Society. He had a slender frame and long unkempt green hair from his imprisonment with a loose white robe reserved for criminals. Next to him were a few magazines and a cup of ice cream that was fresh, nothing that he was allowed to have in this prison cell. "So... I hear I'm getting released?" He asked with a cruel smile.
The Tsunayashiro clan was a member of the Four Noble Houses, if not the leader of the Noble Houses themselves. The duty of the Tsunayashiro was to keep the history of Soul Society, but that was mainly to keep the Original Sin a secret. How Soul Society was built on lies as the original founders of the Noble Houses made the Soul King into what he is, sealing him in crystal and tearing him to pieces to limit his power before splitting the realms and creating the cycle of Life and Death millions of years ago. It was the Tsunayashiro that made this happen and Tokinada that decided that this knowledge should allow him to become one of the most vile people in Soul Society. He made an effort to cause pain and misery in others, delighting in their suffering, with Tousen being among his victims. However, his status as a noble kept him to just a light sentence of being discharged from the Gotei. This changed after the Bakkoto incident and the Nobility Purge when Yamamoto had him and other detrimental elements arrested.
"Looks like there's a new Captain Commander. So why did the old man finally croak?" Tsuyashiro sneered as he walked up to his prison bars. "Because of his stupid pride, pathetic sense of honor, or was he just weak?" The entire cell was made of Sekkiseki Stone with the man himself wearing two Reiatsu suppressing shackles on his wrists and ankles, leaving him powerless. "Doesn't matter, the orders of a dead man are meaningless. Now open this door." Kyoraku scoffed and said with a smile.
"Nah. I don't think I will." The look of surprise on the usually haughty noble was quite a sight of the captain. "See, the original plan with you was that if Tousen returned to the Gotei then he'd be your executioner. But that didn't happen and we just forgot you were here... till the old monk reminded me you existed." The noble then scowled at Kyoraku with a look that promised a slow and painful death.
"You're under orders of the highest authority of the Shinigami to free-!"
"The orders of a dead man are meaningless." Shunsui interrupted with a dark smile of his own, shocking Tokinada once again. "Change is coming, the old Soul Society will fade, and people like you are not needed. I could kill you myself, but a certain hybrid can ensure your eternal damnation so I'll leave it to him. After he ends this war." The Captain Commander left before Tsunayashiro could do more than yell angrily and when he exited the prison he blasted the entrance with a Hado spell to cause a cave-in before covering it in illusions. "The new era approaches."
(Squad 12: Gikon Development Wing, Reigai/Modsoul department)
"You did good yesterday Frankenstein." Nozomi said as she continued to patched up the Berserker Reigai model. As the Quincy attacked the day before, a few went to the R&D departments where Kisuke and Mayuri dealt with many of them but a few reached her department. She then unleashed the Frankenstein Sisters, as many were calling the faux humanoids made from recycled parts from other Reigai bodies. There was nothing beautiful about the display as the Saber and Berserker Frankensteins just raged across the battlefield, powering through everything to smash or slash anything that was Quincy related. The Saber model actually was more careful than the Berserker model, hence why she needed repairs. She was reconnecting the last few nerves when she got some visitors.
"So, is this where those 'artificial souls' are made?" The green haired researcher looked over to the door to find the foreign heroes, sans Karna who was still recovering from his fight. Achilles was looking at the various Reigai with different levels of excitement while CuCulainne and Atalanta kept their focus on Nozomi as she finished her maintenance work.
"How does it feel?" Nozomi asked the mute Reigai, prompting the berserker to get off the operating table and moved her arms to check. She nodded and grunted in approval with her creator's work, making the verdette smile.
"You the one that defended this place?" Achilles asked as he walked up to the scientist and Reigai. "Not bad missy. High five!" The Greek said, holding his hand up to the girl and waited for her to return it. Nozomi did nothing but watch as the silence got awkward and Achilles slowly reached for Frankenstein's hand to clap it. The berserker was still confused but seemed to somewhat understand the matter, raising her hand and slammed her hand against the Greek hero's chest. The force of the impact sent him flying and through the walls of the building.
"Guess that can pass for the strength test." Nozomi said while Cu was laughing his ass off.
(Royal Realm: With Ichigo)
The hybrid walked to the edge of the entrance platform, looking down the path that led back to the Soul Society. The stairs manifested but he did not need them, he'd be flying down. Kagutsuchi grew hot on his hip, creating a haze in the air around it as the sword radiated bloodlust. Particularly against that man that broke him and killed his previous partner, who knew swords could carry such a grudge?
"Soon. I promise." Ichigo said, dropping a hand to the hilt of the Zanpakuto. His skin immediately began to burn from the heat, smoke rising from his palm even as the sword began to cool down. He may have the power of fire now, but that did not mean he could fully control it and Kagutsuchi was filled with too much rage to help him beyond ending the Quincy Emperor. When it finally cooled down, Ichigo looked to his hand as it regenerated from the third degree burns. As it healed he flexed his arm as it flashed a golden light to reveal chains around his forearm, the links shimmering with golden light. The so called 'Chain of Heaven' a final gift from his time in the other world as he thought back to how he got it.
"I can help you with that." The hybrid heard a voice call out to him after an intense battle with the Quincy that was named Gilgamesh after his claimed ancestor. "I am the first king and hero of man, the true Gilgamesh." The voice said as Ichigo looked at the apparition; a head of golden hair with ruby red eyes and a body that looked sculpted from marble. He wore baggy pants, golden shoes and a gold gauntlet on his arm with an ornate ax and stone tablet hanging off a golden belt.
"...How are you here?" Ichigo asked, trying to comprehend how an ancient king could contact him from another realm and with thousands of years between them.
"Ignorant mongrel!" The king suddenly yelled, surprising the tired hybrid. "I studied and mastered magic at the peak of its existence in the time when gods walked among mankind! This is merely clairvoyance and projection. Now, I've seen your future and what you aim to do. But, you will need greater help if you wish to succeed. To which, I am permitting you this." He said before Ichigo's arm flashed with golden light and chains were now wrapped around his left arm. "This is my most precious treasure, named after my one and only dearest friend. The Chain of Heaven, Enkidu." The hybrid grabbed onto the chain and gave an experimental tug, feeling the power within it.
"These feel... different than what your descendant used against me." Ichigo noted with Gilgamesh nodding knowingly.
"As much as I want to keep it locked away in my treasury, never to be seen or touched by any other unworthy hands, your mission is too important. I've sent my precious treasure to you in my present so that no one else could use it. Killing the parasite that dares to call himself king and restoring a dead king, you have a long and difficult road boy." The spirit of the ancient king held out his hand and the sword Ea flew to his grasp. "But know this mongrel, you only have ONE SHOT." Gilgamesh said, glaring at Ichigo and making the hybrid feel the true power of the real ancient king. "I will not suffer my precious friend to be misused and will have it back in my treasury for good. Ea served its purpose in letting me know when it was time to send this message, now to seal it away so that no other filthy hand touches it." The ancient king began to fade before saying one last thing. "Good luck, Ichigo Kurosaki."
"What the?" Ichigo was brought out of his thoughts when he sensed something off in the Soul Society, like it was changing. He didn't know how to describe it, but the only thing that mattered was the one person he sensed. "Yhwach!" The hybrid growled with venom before grabbing Kyoka Suigetsu. "Bankai, Kagami no Bun'ya de no Tsukiakari no Nisshoku." He quickly chanted while unsheathing the Kido Zanpakuto. The blade evaporated into a mist while the world around him rippled like a lake that had just been disturbed. The next thing that happened was Ichigo jumping off the Royal Realm's platform and flying to the Seireitei, or rather Silbern as Yhwach made his next move.
A/N: I was actually hoping to make the final battle the next chapter, but that was taking too long and this felt like a good place to end it. The next chapter will be mainly fights again though I don't know how long it will be before I update again. I've been hit with a lack of motivation and ideas lately and it's pissing me off.
In other news, I've completed my own original novel and sent it to a publishing company to review. Fingers crossed people.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed, see you all next time.