Chapter 1

The ghosts of the past

The Special Region - 38 years later

Rory Mercury was getting annoyed the closer she walked to the Special Region. Then again the Demi-Goddess has been irritable of late. With the anniversary coming, her birthday around the corner, and idiots generally pissing her the hell off, it's no wonder that people had been avoiding her and only the children were brave enough to approach her considering the volatile mood swings. Rory would never lift an arm against the innocent -especially the children. Though she would never hesitate to skin and hang 95 percent of the damned idiots that crossed her - with a gut hook no less. The black haired girl sighed. It was always like this every year. Knowing that and the fact that Lord Emroy has already spoken to her - of length - about slaughtering innocents that so much as looked at her funny. She had to curb her violent blood lust and was forced to wrap her massive halberd in cloth lest she succumbs to the overwhelming urge to slice -in many pieces - the next hapless douchebag that got on her nerves. Rory couldn't help but sigh again...

"I suggest that you come out now if you now what's good for you!" Rory growled. "I'm really not in the mood for stupid games!"

Rory glared towards the shadows of a large tree where a stranger in a green cloak emerged...

"It's nice to see you again Rory."

Rory quirked an eyebrow. Where have she heard that soothing rich voice before? The black haired girl has not have any human contact as she has traveled nearly constantly the last few decades. This has been her first encounter with people in years but for the life of her she didn't have a clue who the hell this woman was but the nagging feeling that Rory knew her from somewhere. The green cloaked woman smiled and pulled the hood back. The Demi-Goddess eyes widened in surprise….

"Tuka is that you?"

"Yes, it's been a long time…" Tuka replied.

Tuka Luna Marceau was an orphaned High Elf that Rory met a long time ago. It seemed the years have been too kind to her. A cascade of silky blonde hair that went half way down her waist danced sinuously in the calm breeze. She was taller the last time the Demi-Goddess has seen the elf last and it seemed that she filled in certain areas of her body that nearly made the black haired girl slightly jealous. Her deep blue eyes twinkled but there seemed to be a kind of melancholy in them that Rory saw and knew the source of her sadness all too well. The same look that she showed when she lost her father to the Fire Dragon that torched her clan's village to the ground. Tuka pushed away a strand of hair behind a pointed ear. A genuine smile welcomed Rory and the black haired girl couldn't help but smile in return. The two women hugged each other tightly and walked hand in arm while she balanced her weapon on her other shoulder.

"So how have you been doing all these years Rory?" Tuka asked.

"Oh other than helping the innocent, being a force for justice, and slaughtering the guilty you mean?" Rory replied.

Tuka giggled. Rory never was one to mince her words. She was one of those people who would tell they're ugly to their faces in the bluntest way possible. The High Elf loved her honesty and quite frankly she missed the black haired girl tremendously for some odd 30 years. Then Rory continued in saying…

"You don't look half bad now that you filled up in the right places…" she said grinning.

"And you look as cute as ever as you did 38 years ago…."

Indeed Rory Mercury was an enigma. She was after all a priestess and a disciple of Emroy - the God of Violence, War, and Death - a job description she had since as far as she could remember. As such, her status as His personal envoy to spread his message throughout the world had a few interesting perks. She is immune to the ravage of time and her body will regenerate no matter how dire the wounds she suffers - making her technically immortal. People fear her monstrous strength and they turn down right catatonic whenever they see the gleaming blade of her massive Halberd stained with the blood of her enemies.

What Tuka then said to Rory was literally true. Because the little Demi-Goddess looked the same as she did 38 years ago. She looked like a 13 year old girl but if one looks in her crimson red eyes they will notice the world weariness and wisdom of countless generations that does not belong in a normal girl her age would look like. There was also kind and gentle tinge to those same eyes but with a touch of mischief but they also promise hell to those that cross the line and will be quickly dealt with her brand of justice. The black/red bow on top of her head looked cute and a black priestess uniform that Tuka later learned to suspiciously look like a frilly Gothic Lolita fashion in Japan. Well except for the giant Halberd. The blond haired elf suspected that carrying half a ton of steel would be bad for the girls and women who were into that kinda stuff. As the two friends caught up with each other, they rounded a corner and stopped. Right in front of them was a woman kneeling before a shrine. Rows of candles were lit to brighten up the area as the sun began to set down.

"Where is Leilei anyway?" Rory asked curiously.

"I'm right here." The woman who was kneeling down replied.

The woman turned around and smiled at the two of them. Rory tried to ignore the fact that Leilei's once radiant blue green hair was streaked with gray and wrinkles began to cover her once youthful face. As the older woman stood up and came to meet the two of them with open arms; Rory noted that she seemed to be a little frail and leaned on her staff to assist her mobility.

Rory sighed. Sometimes she resented being immortal for some obvious reasons….

"I see that you've been doing well Leilei-chan." Rory commented.

"Considering that my back is killing me and I feel weight of my age on these old bones, I never felt better!"

Silence…

"So here we are…" Rory began.

"Yes, Leilei and I visited this place every year around this time." Tuka added sadly.

"I'm glad that you can make it this year Rory." Leilei said smiling.

Rory didn't have words to say as she tried her best not to cry. For if you look beyond the wall, down below the valley was a massive crater - which was once known as Alnus hill and where the JSDF's fortress used to be…

Flashback - The Special Region - 38 years ago

In the final battle where Molt Sol Augustus has somehow bullied every nation in the planet to assault the JSDF's fortress on top of the hills of Alnus. The combined might of several million strong and men were thrown like pigs to a slaughter but the Emperor didn't care. Even if his massive army was outgunned with firepower unlike this world have ever seen, the JSDF's ammunition was not limitless and they were going to run out of bullets eventually. And with a little divine help from the Goddess of the Underworld - Hardy - the Empire was poised to crush the JSDF once and for all and then move on beyond the Gate to conquer the world beyond it. Though not if Itami had anything to say about it…

The man actually convinced the government to provide the JSDF with a weapon to neutralize the Empire's threat once and for all. Nothing was too costly to the hero of Japan and if anything they granted his request 6 months prior to the assault. The weapon was suppose to arrive today but the attack on the fortress came out of nowhere and the military has been fighting for the last 48 hours. At first, the JSDF's defenses held strong. Still the Empire's initial assault on the base was a complete and utter disaster. It seemed that they haven't learned their lesson either as an estimated 10,000 soldiers lost their lives trying to storm the base not realizing that the Japanese had planted mines all over the grassy fields in a two mile radius. It was fair to say that a mind exploded every five seconds, slowing down the great army's advance. Still the seeming endless sea of soldiers continued to its advance to the base - never mind that they were losing fellows in an alarming rate. Then the Airforce came roaring in the skies carpet bombing the area. As literally whole platoons vanish in the sea of fire and debris and after several hours of heavy bombardment but they ran out of bombs eventually.

Central Command ordered the planes to comeback as they have done their job. However, as the heavy losses for the Empire multiplied exponentially, the suicidal charge still continued. Artillery bombardment commenced and garnered the same result: this time devastation and annihilation of 50 thousand in one hour. Though the shelling inevitably stopped as the crews ran out of ammunition too. It seemed that the Emperor's gamble of throwing nearly one quarter of his vast army to slaughter while he kept the bulk of his forces as far away from the killing fields as possible. Still the advanced forces were whittling away at the enemy's ammunition in a far faster rate than was anticipated. Then the Empire's counter attack began…

It became ugly after that as JSDF's fortunes in the battle has reversed in favor of the Empire's. Magically assisted catapults bombarded the base relentlessly. The skies rained with boulders, hails of arrows, and pots filled with pitch, naphtha, and oil. Buildings collapsed and for the first time the JSDF suffered some casualties. As firefighters tried to control the blaze, people were in a panic and officers directed soldiers to evacuate civilians to the center of the base. Gradually, because of sheer numbers, the defensive barriers and the walls were breached on the Western side. Imperial soldiers flooded into the base and even though the JSDF was losing ground, they made the enemy pay for every inch. Central Command has ordered a retreat towards the center square and had soldiers plant C-4 in several strategic places and detonate them when the enemy was on top of the booby traps. Several hours of heavy fighting and it was clear that the JSDF wasn't capable of holding their defensive line, several buildings blew up simultaneously and blocked the Empire's advance. Reluctantly CC has ordered the rest of civilians to go through the gate to escape while they delayed the enemy.

The JSDF already knew that war was coming courtesy of some intel that was received several weeks ago. What Central Command has underestimated was the size of Emperor's army that he has mustered up for this campaign. They already knew that once the ammunition ran out that the battle would become a war of attrition once one of the gates were breached. So evacuations started weeks before the attack. Those refugees were granted asylum by the government and eventually they became proud Japanese citizens several years later. They also had the foresight to gradually send some of the troops home to help reinforce the defensive perimeter at home should the JSDF was defeated here and the Emperor marched through the Gate and attack Japan again. Itami's platoon volunteered to stay behind to shield the JSDF and civilian evacuation.

Eventually Itami and his men were surrounded and they were called upon to surrender. But the slacker Captain had other ideas and they still fought to the last man. Once Itami was the only left, he dropped his gun, took a key out and inserted it on a key hole. Typed some commands on a keyboard. Once he was done, Itami addressed his dead comrades…

"It's been an honor to serve with you guys and it's been a fun ride." Itami said. "I'll see you guys soon…"

An arrow pierced Itami's heart and fell forward with a smile on his face. Someone noticed a strange device as tall and as wide as a man in the middle of the square. There were numbers counting backwards. It had five seconds left….

The Special Region, The Gate, and the Emperor's army of one million vanished instantly as they were incinerated by the fires of a nuclear explosion…..

Rory remembered the massive mushroom cloud that could be seen for several miles as it dominated the landscape. Itami asked her and the girls to conduct guerrilla warfare and to slow the advance of the Imperial armies as much as possible. The Demi-Goddess knew deep in her heart that something was up when the idiot was actually nice to her for once and took her on a date and in all the centuries that she has lived, never had she had more fun than that night. (Except slaughtering people in war of course!) Then she felt her blood bond with Itami vanish and she knew then that she lost him forever.

The Demi-Goddess never felt so insulted in all her life! It's not as if she wanted the idiot to die but they were at war and death has always been the inevitable conclusion since the dawn of humanity. She knows this. Rory expected it. Yet she couldn't let this go. A rage unlike she never felt gripped her. Vengeance was the only thing left that could give her comfort. Madness that kept the pain of losing someone important was the only medicine left to hide the senseless emptiness that she felt inside thereafter. When Rory woke up akin to a dream, thousands laid dead on her feet. Rivers of their blood tainted the rivers for weeks. And in the end, she didn't feel any better than when she started slaughtering the remnants of the Empire's defeated army. Leilei guided the seeming lifeless woman back home to her village while Tuka carried her Halberd. The old Rory would have probably scoffed at the way her two friends fussed at her and she probably would have insisted of carrying her weapon herself. But not this Rory. She was too lifeless as if the world have ended and there was nothing left for her in the world. The Demi-Goddess was at one point in her melancholy has threatened to Ascend and get it over with but Tuka and Leilei managed to talk the little priestess out of it….

It was several months later when the cloud finally subsided and she returned to survey the damage. Rory has learned that the people who were within a 50 mile radius has gotten sick from a mysterious disease. She put two and two together and to make sure she had it right, the black haired woman asked LeiLei as the bluenette studied extensively Earth. When the girl explained that the people were suffering from what's termed as "radiation sickness," Rory knew what she needed to do. So she made trek towards what used to be Alnus Hill - the radiation not bothering her one bit - kneeled down and prayed to Emroy. After a few hours of haggling with him, the Dark God granted his priestess her wish. Several months later, signs of life have returned in the devastated area and the people who were sick were eventually cured. It was unusual for the God of War and Death to actually let the souls He desired and just let them go. Whatever sorcery that Rory was able to cast and sweet talk a God into doing what she has asked was amazing in Tuka and Leilei's opinion. Though suddenly praising and worshipping the God of War was kinda awkward to say the least. Still, Rory never did mention the details of what the priestess had to give or do in order for the people to be saved. Even now when this was the first time they saw her in 38 years, Tuka and Leilei still didn't know…

Then one Winter morning when Leilei came to visit Rory's house in the outskirts of the Village, the bluenette found it empty. The Priestess was already gone for several weeks considering the light dust that covered everything. On the table was a note simply saying: "Don't worry. I'll be back someday…." Thirty Eight years later, the note's message came true….

As for Rory's self imposed exile, she traveled the World nonstop for decades. At first, she didn't know where she was going, simply following where the road takes her. True to her calling as a Priestess, she spread the Word of Emroy and performed miracles. And her favorite part of it all was dispensing justice to the wicked and the guilty. Perhaps her religious duties has kept her grounded. The melancholy she felt within her was forgotten when she was working but at night it was a different story. She was restless as nightmares plagued her dreams and as a result she hasn't slept well in decades.

The reason why Rory came back at all was because she realized that she was being silly about seeing a grave. She avoided visiting the memorial erected in honor of those who died though she kneeled down and said a prayer for the dearly departed every time the Anniversary came along. It was only 38 years later on the eve of her last year in the world that she realized that she may regret not seeing her friends for the last time and to honor the graves of her comrades…

The present- midnight…

Rory kept tossing and turning (again ) for the last hour. She looked at her sleeping friends and sighed. The priestess then removed her covers aside since she won't be able to go back to sleep anyway. She sneaked out of the tent and found herself walking towards the giant slab of marble that was the memorial. Rory touched the smooth white surface of the stone admiring the craftsmanship of the relief carvings engraved on the memorial itself. The moonlight seemed to have shined directly into the stone, casting an ethereal glow. Seeing that this must be some kind of sign from God, Rory naturally kneeled down and prayed. Sure enough, she started a conversation with Emroy…

"Why art thou still melancholy mine priestess?"

"I know not my Lord. To this day I still do not know why I have such a heavy burden in my heart…" Rory replied.

"Silly child, don't you know? Look into thine heart and see the truth."

Rory looked deep within herself as her God has commanded and saw nothing…

"I-I do not understand…."

"Here, let me open thine eyes…"

Then the flood of memories she tried to suppress for decades started flooding back. Memories of lifetimes past flashed before her eyes. She saw people dear to her as she has remembered them as they laughed, cried, and lived their lifetimes before her God has claimed them at the end of their time here in this mortal world. Though the one thing she has kept tight to her heart was her visit from another world and most of the memories of those times were of the one person who managed to worm his way into her heart.

The person she saw was Itami….

Rory suddenly understood what the Lord was trying to tell her. In order for her to move on and Ascend to a higher existence, she needed to settle the score and do all the things she needed to do so that she had no regrets. In order for her to find peace, she needed to see Itami again and tell him the secret that she's been hiding from her friends and apparently to herself. But how was she going to see him if he's no longer here?

"I will take care of that for you daughter. Do what you must do in this plane and when the time comes I will take you to him. Then once all accounts are settled, you will be mine. Deal?"

"Thank you my Lord. When the time is right, I cannot wait to spend Eternity with you."

"Good girl…"

Did Emroy just chuckled? Rory don't know what to make of this….

"When the time comes, I don't want you to have regrets…"

"I know…." Rory replied.

"Then there is nothing left to be said daughter. Now go and fulfill what it is that your heart desires…"

"Again thank you Lord Emroy."

"You welcome child."

By the time that Rory has finally woke up from her trance, it was already morning…

"Rory, were you here all of last night?" Tuka asked.

"Yes…"

Tuka noticed that the little Priestess actually smiled? Decades ago ever since the incident in Alnus Hill, Rory had a melancholy about her that she couldn't quite shake. She was depressed for the longest time and her temper was rather volatile. The only people she tolerated at all were her and Leilei. Perhaps the reason why she left that long ago was the fact that she didn't want to drag everyone in the village down and that she didn't want to harm the innocent with her fits of rage during that time.

"I wonder what happened?" Tuka thought.

"I know what you're thinking and I will tell you over breakfast…" Rory replied. "Ah isn't this a fine lovely day?

Tuka blinked at her for a moment. Kami, did she just hear Rory Mercury say something that's remotely sappy? Is this the same Priestess who would so much as gut you stem to stern when she's in battle or had the gall to piss her the hell off? Or the same woman who was blunt to the point that she sounded rude? Tuka sweat dropped as Rory started dancing around in happiness…

"We are like so doomed…"

Soul Society - 38 years later

Yoji Itami sighed for perhaps the umpteenth time that day as the paperwork seemed to pile up even higher. After dying in a nuclear blast to prevent an invasion of Japan and pretty much saving the world from scourge of war, he figured he would have gotten a break from doing damn paper work! But who would have thought that even in the Afterlife that pain in the ass of a chore existed! At least his Captain had the foresight to modernize the 8th Division. Amazingly enough, he was the one who convinced Captain-General Kyoraku to slowly but surely integrate technology into the Seireitei. Now the city using reiryoku gathering plants that absorbed the spiritual energy in the air and converting it to electricity. Power stations were in construction so that even the outermost districts have some electricity at least.

Itami smiled. His Captain was one amazing guy. He heard stories that the Captain and his friends -once upon a time - invaded Soul Society itself so that he could save Lt. Kuchiki from a false execution perpetrated by Sosuke Aizen. Then during the Winter War, he infiltrated Hueco Mundo to save another friend kidnapped by the Espada and defeated the traitor himself. A couple of months later he would save the world again from the Quincy invasion. After that, Itami heard that Ichigo became Karakura's resident Shinigami though sadly his duties were assigned to another because his reign was cut short. His human body apparently couldn't withstand the tremendous spiritual power that his Soul generated and thus, ending his time in the World of the Living.

Ironically enough, Itami and a bunch of his old unit were studying at Shino Academy a few years ago when -out of nowhere - their future Captain walked through the door with Captain-general Kyoraku where the strawberry was introduced. The students were informed the he was going to graduate with their class which was kinda weird considering they only had one semester left until school's out. Though as time seemed to literally dragged on that day, the students came to realize how special this newbie was if the head of the Gotei 13 stayed monitoring his progress.

In kido class for example, while everyone were in line shooting Hado #31's at targets, Itami noticed that the newbie was separated from the others.

"Probably some stuck up noble or something?" one student said. "Too special to mix in with us peasants!"

"That's where you are wrong sir…" Kyoraku replied chuckling.

"C-Captain-General Kyoraku, I-I a-apologize for the insult!"

"You should be apologizing to him and not me. Though I think Ichigo wouldn't care really."

"What's so special about him sir?" Itami asked.

"Oh you'll see…"

Ichigo held up his right hand palm outward and chanted…

"Hado #31 Shakkaho!"

A large red fireball shot out of his palm and annihilated several targets in front of him…

"That's good Ichigo. Now how about you use an incantation?" Kyoraku suggested.

"Are you sure about that?" Ichigo replied. "I'm still having a little trouble controlling the amount of reiryoku into the spell, ya know."

"That's why you are here. Shino Academy will be able to teach you how to refine that control." the head Captain replied. "Besides you know Nanao-chan will kill me if I don't get back to my paper work."

"Well if ya say so." Ichigo said shrugging. "Though I would feel better if you erected a barrier just in case and provide them with sun glasses."

"I gotcha covered."

All this talk of lack of control and barriers made Itami and the entire class quite nervous…

Kyoraku signaled the instructor to erect a strong barrier and Itami found himself putting on sun glasses…

"Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on to the south! Hado #31 Shakkaho!"

They all felt the large surge of power and a massive fireball shot out of Ichigo's outstretched palm. Shockwave from the velocity rings destroyed the ground in front of him. As the titanic fireball carved a trench on the dirt, it hit a target, wiped out every one them, and caused a spectacular explosion that destroyed the wall in front of and made a crater several miles wide. To say that all those present were awestruck and speechless was an understatement…

"Gee Ichigo, overkill much?" Kyoraku commented.

"What the hell man, don't blame me. It was your idea in the first place dammit!"

"Well at least it didn't blow up in your face this time!"

"Yeah, don't remind me!" Ichigo growled.

The students went back and forth as the two of them bantered like old friends. It makes Itami wonder if he and the Captain-General has worked with each other before considering the familiarity involved….

Ichigo's abilities were apparently on display as the rest of the day unfolded. In Zanjutsu class, the strawberry has beaten their class' best weapon practitioner at the sound of the bell. He moved so fast that the match was already over in a blink of an eye. In hoho, he practically ran circles around the entire class and even made the teacher collapse in a heap on the ground while it looked like he didn't look winded at all. Hakuda class was the same as he beaten all challengers with an ease of a veteran. Itami suspected that he was already an expert in many of the Shinigami arts long before he entered the Academy. At the end of the day, Kyoraku set Ichigo aside and talked with him briefly before the older man held out his hand and latter shook it.

"Don't be a stranger Ichigo…"

"I'll probably end seeing you more often in the future than I'd like." the strawberry jokingly replied.

Kyoraku chuckled and he vanished in shunpo. Ichigo went back in the classroom, got his things, and he too disappeared.

The next few months were interesting. Itami introduced himself to Ichigo and the both of them started hanging around with several people from his old unit. He along with Mari Kurokawa his old combat medic,Takeo Kurata - the driver, and Shino Kuribayashi. Ichigo and Shino in particular got along famously. In other words, they could be seen arguing and in each other's faces - most of the time. Though Itami suspected that the two mutually respected the other but were too embarrassed to admit it. That bond became even stronger as Ichigo one day saved the class from a band of Hollows that attacked them in a lab that took place in The World of the Living. Then thereafter, banter between the two of them was comedy gold and Itami had to admit that the two of them worked well together. Even if there was a nagging suspicion that both of them would rather strangle the other than admit that they were good friends….

A few months pass, and they all finally graduated. Immediately, Itami and the others were assigned to the 8th division….

"I wonder who's our Captain gonna be?" Shino wondered.

"Kyoraku became the Captain-general during the Quincy war, the 8th Division had a Captain vacancy ever since then." Ichigo said. "So I wouldn't be surprised if he picked someone new amongst the ranks of the Gotei 13"

At the time, Itami and the others wondered how Ichigo knew that bit of information. It was as if he witnessed that very event happening…

Still strange as it sounded, they really never paid attention or ignored it all together. Granted it was a very big elephant in the room but Ichigo refused to elaborate when one of them asked. There was a standing bet amongst the group that the strawberry was some kind of celebrity or something like that. Though if he was someone famous, Ichigo never really mentioned it nor cared to let them know that he was in fact one. He was never one to brag and perhaps that's why the squad took a liking to the strawberry. After all these years he was still acting as if he was ashamed of his accomplishments. Strangely enough, there was some kind of excitement in the air in anticipation of the announcement.

The group entered the the gates of the 8th Division and right there at the main courtyard, the entire Gotei 13 stood in attention with Kyoraku at the center. Ichigo looked at all this ceremony rather nervously and wondered what the hell was going on. Itami and the others were too stunned to even make a comment…

"So what are you guys doing here?" Ichigo dreaded to ask.

"As you know Ichigo, the Gotei 13 has not been at full strength for the longest time. I did my best to fill those vacancies as best I could and now the last vacancy will finally be filled."

"You have distinguished yourself in the Winter War." Yoruichi said.

"And you have saved Soul Society from the Quincy Invasion and defeated the Quincy Emperor Juha Bach." Urahara added.

"In fact, you have saved the World of the Living and the Dead countless of times since then but no one knew about it. Now we recognize you for your heroic efforts." Rukia said smiling.

Indeed Ichigo knew this for the longest time as he attended those functions when these individuals were recognized.. He wasn't surprised that Renji, and Rukia got promoted as Captains of the 7th and 13th. Yoruichi was pardoned and returned as 2nd Division's Captain which bumped off Soi Fon. With a little bit of persuasion from the Shihoin princess though, she gladly took the vacancy in the 3rd. Shinji took back his previous position as the Captain of the fifth while Hachi reluctantly took the 4th. Byakuya, Toshiro, Kenpachi, and Kurotsuchi stayed at their current positions and surprisingly Urahara returned and took over the Ninth. That leaves the 8th Division in need of a Captain. The strawberry however had a bad feeling about this….

"Oh no hell no, you wouldn't dare…."

"Who amongst you recommends Kurosaki Ichigo as the 8th Division Captain?" Kyoraku asked.

All the Captains present raised their hand and for the first time in the 1000 years of Gotei 13's long history, a Captain was unanimously voted in by his peers….

"Your peers and fellow Captain have spoken. So what say you Captain Kurosaki?"

"Do I have a choice?" Ichigo asked blandly. "Never mind that was a rhetorical question…"

Ichigo put a thumb and forefinger in between the bridge of his nose and scratched the back of his head. The Captains present looked at him expectantly….

"Dammit, why the hell not?" he said. "I have from now until eternity to figure things out and find my place here I guess…"

Loud cheers erupted in the 8th Division barracks as people gathered towards the main courtyard to witness history. At last, the Gotei 13 was complete once more. Itami and the others couldn't believe it. He didn't know that their friend and classmate was such a decorated war hero! All the the major events that the Captains mentioned, they have studied in school and always wondered whether the hero that was in the books was real. Now that very same hero has now become their Captain? But, he knew that Ichigo was special when he first came to that Kido class a long time ago. And since he was such a war veteran, Itami knew that he and his old unit will get along with their new Captain just fine. He then looked to his left and saw Shino looking shocked as her jaw looked like it was going to get unhinged with the way it was hanging down. Hmm, this looked familiar somehow…..

"Hey Sgt. you ok?" Itami asked. "You're looking a little pale for someone who's already dead."

"W-wha? T-that brat is the one the history books mentioned?" Shino stammered. "What the frickin hell?"

"Yup apparently he is…."

"Well I for one am glad that Ichi-kun is our Captain." Mari commented brightly. "He will transform Soul Society one day, I just know it! Come on Shino-chan, I think it will be fun getting there don't you think?"

Mari didn't get an answer as Shino looked even on in shock…

"N-now h-he's our Captain? He, he, he…"

Most of the unit ignored her and soaked in the festive atmosphere with food and drink…

That was 5 years ago….

"I can't believe we've been together for awhile now…" Itami thought. "Mari was right, it has been fun journey!"

Itami shook his head and smiled. He still had enough time to get everything done before Ichigo comes in the office. The Captain was suppose to personally supervise a new training regiment for the entire Division after the troops failed miserably to respond in a timely manner in an incident with an Arrancar that left most of them injured and he had no choice but to step in and save them. After a few weeks of healing, Ichigo assessed that the 8th needed to get their training overhauled or risk getting slaughtered the next time. The Captain told him that he was going to use the methods that Captains Urahara and Yoruichi used to train him up to speed when Ichigo first invaded Soul Society once upon a time…

"That's going to be interesting…" Itami chuckled. "What could go wrong?

What could go wrong indeed….

to be continued...

A/N This is going to be a very short series so it shouldn't interfere with my other stories. This story has been bugging me for awhile now so I thought I would give it a shot since I believe there's only one story so far in this category. Anyway, expect two more chapters. As I said, it's gonna be short and sweet.

-As far as Japan having a nuke...Think about it, the Japanese took only decades to industrialize and they're technologically advanced enough that if they were pushed enough into a corner, they can make an atom bomb if they wanted to...Just sayin...

-How do you'll like it so far...read and review as usual...

-Well that's it for now kiddies, until next time