It was a war. A war that shook the worlds, where faith itself was tested as the fate of all existence came under question. It was the end of a golden age for mankind, and a start to a new story where man himself would shape the pages.
The Great War, they called it. Though a word a simple and mundane as 'Great' did not serve it justice. The three factions, each with their own belief as to how history should continue fought angst each other. The Angels, the Devils and those who had Fallen from grace.
In the chaos, Devils arose, ones whose power far eclipsed the others. They were called the Four Satans and they united the races of Hell in a stand against God himself. A war to decide who had the right to mankind.
God stood strong against the Satans in a battle that shook all of time. Fighting until the shadows that threatened his children were driven away and killing the Satans and the Dragons. But by the end of the fight God was strained to the brink. He looked about him and the ruins of the battle field covered in the dead men and angels who had fought beside him, and God began to weep.
There, a soul of one of the human soldiers recently dead found God.
"Father, what for does tho weep? You are victorious" The young man asked, looking up to God.
"My child, though the darkness has been pressed back and is weakened, it has not been destroyed entirely. But the battle has taken its toll on me. My arms are wery, and my loyal angels has been cut down to only a fraction of their former strength." God said, shaking his head sadly. "I worry, my child. I worry that I may no longer have the strength to guide mankind."
The youth looked shocked as God confessed his fears. But then a look of determination came across his face. He bent down and picked up one of the swords that stood upon the battlefield. "Do not worry father. If you are too tired to continue, then I will fight against the darkness in your stead."
God's eyes widened at the child's decoration. "My child, though your valor is true, I worry still. You are not as strong or fast or cunning as the creatures who seek to lead you astray."
"But Father, I am strong. I am strong in the soul. The soul you gave me father. It is with that strength that I will stand against the darkness." The young man said, no fear in his voice.
God smiled at his child. "Though you are strong in spirit, still I worry. You are only one soul. How are you to take care of all of mankind?"
"But Father, I am not just one soul." The young man said, pointing out across the battlefield where other soul who had fallen in battle slowly moved towards them, each picking up a blade from the ground as they stood tall. "If one soul can not do it, that doesn't mean that the many can't. If we work together, then we will certainly succeed."
"Father, let us take up the task of shepherding the soul to where they belong." Another man said, standing by the first.
"Please Father." "I wish to help, Father." "Do not fear, Father." One after another, the souls stood proud in front of God, each ready to take up the task that God had been left to tired to carry out. The Lord did not speak. He only smiled down upon them giving a short nodded to show his blessings, before his eyes drifted shut.
Kurosaki Ichigo sat on the cobbled stones of the cemetery path, his eyes closed and breath held. He searched for something. Anything, but just like always it was quiet.
Two and a half years since the fight with Aizen. The fight were he sacrificed a part of his own identity in order to protect the people he cared for. The fight which robbed him of his power, leaving him as little more than a normal teenager where he had once been a proud Shinigami. He couldn't help but wonder, that if he had not been so wrapped up in that lose, whether he would have noticed something that he missed. If he might have been able to keep it from happening.
"Orihime... why didn't you tell me." He mumbled to himself, trying to hold back the tears as he looked at the stone in front of him. 'Inoue Orihim; 1994-2009; A loyal sister, a dear friend, she shaped the lives of all of us.' It had been two and a half years since the battle with Aizen, but only one year since Orihime's death.
It had come as a sudden shock to everyone. Ichigo had never had a clue her health was on decline. He hadn't known that her body couldn't sustain her spiritual power. He had never known that there was anything other than that smile she gave him. Those words of praise and encouragement. The looks that could only be compared to those of a loving mother.
No. He had never guessed.
One day, she simply missed school. The next, she was found dead in her apartment, the look of peace on her face still not giving a hint of the pain she had been in. If only her power would have permitted her to heal herself.
Urahara and Yuroichi contacted the Soul Society. Orihime had been loved by all who had met her, and a search spread across that entirety world in an attempt to find her soul. But her soul was no where to be found. From what Ichigo had heard, some suggested even sending soldiers into Hueco Mundo in an attempt to find her. When the request was denied, Squad 11 went anyways, bringing Rukia, Renji and Rangiku along with them. But she was never found.
Ichigo wished he had just one more chance to talk to her. To tell her how sorry he was.
"That is not the kind of expression one should have when paying their respects." An unfamiliar voice said from behind Ichigo. He turned his head as someone dressed as a Christian priest walked past him to put flowers down in front of Orihime's gravestone. It took Ichigo a second to mark whether the person was a man or a woman, both the voice and the figure had this sort of air about them that wasn't strictly male or female.
But it was a guy. At least he was pretty sure it was, considering it was a priest's robes and not a nuns. His lean face was smooth as a baby's bottom where even the curve of a smile, a normally melancholy expression, seemed light and as natural as could be. His bowl cut hair was that particular shade of blond that almost seemed silver in the light that came through the heavy clouds. His presence was unsettling, unnatural even as the wind did nothing to disturb his hair or clothes.
"Do you think that she'd be happy seeing you here so sad." The man asked Ichigo, looking at him with golden eyes, the only feature on the man's face that seemed to be touched by time. It reminded Ichigo a bit of the boy Captain, Hitsugaya; vastly experienced, but still young.
Ichigo didn't know what to make of the individual, so he chose not to judge at all. He just answered the question honestly. "I know that. Doesn't make it any easier though." He said, looking down and giving a soft sigh. "I worry. I can't help it."
"You needn't through. She is in a better place." The man said.
Ichigo tensed up, his fingers digging into the soil. "Is she? How can I know when no one can find her?" He said, not caring if the man had anything to do with the supernatural or not. He could be labeled a raging lunatic and he wouldn't care.
"You can know, because I have told you. She is safe within Heaven's walls and it is from that endless paradise that she watches you, Kurosaki Ichigo." The man said. Ichigo looked up as he heard the sound of air being brushed aside and his eyes widened. The man stood in front of him, ten shining golden wings spread wide and light coming off of him in ribbons. A golden halo was suspended above his head. "Not a day goes by when she doesn't talk about you. Inoue-chan misses you dearly."
"Who... are you?" Ichigo said, more shocked than he had even expected to be. There was only one thing that the man could be, but... he had never really believed they existed.
"Forgive me, I haven't introduced myself yet. I am Raphael, one of the ten Seraphim, the Angels who guard the Throne of Heaven. It is a pleasure to finally met the young man Inoue-chan is so taken with. She has told us all about you, former Substitute Shinigami and War Hero, Kurosaki Ichigo." The Angel said with a smile.
"Orihime... she's in heaven? I never knew heaven was real." Ichigo said trying to think back to the soul Society. The place wasn't hell, but he would never describe it as Heaven. Not with the countless social issues it had.
"Yes. We were very surprised to meet Inoue-chan as well. The Gates of Heaven are very picky of late as to who they open up for. She is a very special girl. I don't believe I have ever seen anyone adapt to Heaven as quickly as she has." The Seraph said, though his smile then turned sad. "It is why it breaks my heart to see her everyday standing on the edge of Heaven, watching over you all. Heaven was meant to be a paradise, a gift to all those who gained entry. But all she truly wants is to be back in the Soul Society where she can spend eternity with the people she cares for."
"But... if she want to, then why can't she just do it!?" Ichigo said in a panic.
The Angel shook his head. "The Heaven's system does not allow for it. People receive their justice in the afterlife."
"I see... don't suppose I will be seeing her in the afterlife... will I?" Ichigo said, somehow feeling that he was not good enough for something like that.
"Kurosaki-san, there is nothing I would like more than to see you step through the Great Gates." Raphael said. "Sadly, regardless your accomplishments and your strong moral character, I am afraid it is just not possible. From the moment you first picked up a Zanpakuto, you forfeited your claim to heaven. Shinigami cannot enter Heaven. Not since there very first brave souls took up their swords in order to defend their fellow man over a thousand years ago after the Great War between the Three Factions. It had never been a problem before, since the only people who could become Shinigami were those who had died and gone to the Soul Society. You are one of only a handful of mortal men who had became Shinigami before death, and perhaps are the only one who deserves a place in Heaven."
Ichigo closed his eyes and tried to hold back a dry laugh. "I see. Thanks for the compliment, though I wouldn't really care about getting into Heaven if I could just see her again." He said, remembering Orihime's energetic nature. All those times she had pushed him along when he had been wondering if what he was doing was right. He could just picture it in his mind, her looking down at him from up in the clouds with that lonely expression. "I hope she can move on and be happy, even if there is no hope that we will meet again."
"Kurosaki-san, do you honestly believe I would come to you if there was no hope?" The Angel said, surprising Ichigo again as he pulled out of seemingly nowhere twelve cards.
At first the light coming from the cards made them hard to see, but after a few moments of letting his eyes adjust, he saw that they bore resemblance to classic playing cards, all the different cards of the club set, with only the king card missing.
"Right now, as you are, you cannot enter Heaven. But if you would allow yourself to be reincarnated as an Angel, pledging your eternity to serving Heaven, then you will be able to enter and see her again." Raphael said. "You will become a sword which defends Heaven and is brandished against those who threaten the lives of God's children."
Ichigo stared at the cards, not blinking no matter how much the light stung his eyes. "W...what about my family?"
"As a reincarnated Angel, you will be permitted to come and go from Heaven as long as you abide by its rules. You will be allowed to live with your family, if that is your wish. Though your duties as an Angel will always come first."
"Ok... what exactly would I do as an Angel do?" Ichigo asked, immediately much more interested, though he couldn't help this nagging feeling in the back of his mind that he was selling his soul. Though that was ridiculous. This was an Angel, not a Devil.
To his surprise, the Angel started to laugh. Though it sounded a lot like a giggle. "Why, the exact same things you did as a Shinigami." He said with a smile. "In truth, the Goten 13 only exist because of the drop in the number of Angels after the Great War. Before then, it was the Angels who guided all of the souls of the dead to their final resting place, and defended them against the attacks of the Hollows. I suppose you could see it as the equivalent of off-shoring labor. However, you will not be given the kind of leeway you had as a substitute. You will have to answer to your superiors if you want to remain able to enter Heaven."
Ichigo didn't hold back an expression of displeasure at being told that. It wasn't that he minded being called in or putting the needs of others before his own. No, it was the whole 'answer to your superiors' thing. Ichigo wouldn't say that he had authority issues, but he didn't like other people telling him what was right and wrong or where the priorities should lie. He wanted to be the one to decide things for himself. Could he last an eternity of listening to orders? Probably not. But he could hold out as long as he could in order to be with Orihime, and if he couldn't keep it up anymore and got himself kicked out of Heaven for trying to save a life he believed was worth saving, she would understand.
Seeing Ichigo's expression, the Angel chuckled. "Don't worry. Since I am the one bringing you into Heaven, I will be your superior, and I am more than aware of your temperament. I won't give you any orders you do not feel like you can moral comply with."
Ichigo nodded. "Alright then. I do it."
Raphael looked at him for a few moments, searching his face. "Before we begin, I need to worn you, this ritual, the Brave Saint Contract, it has never been fully tested. You are the first person who will undergo the right. That said, you could die or even have irreversible damage done to your soul. Knowing this, will you still continue?"
"Doesn't change anything." Ichigo said, not giving the risks a second thought. "If the situation was reversed, I don't have a doubt in my mind that Orihime wouldn't hesitate for a moment. She wouldn't care about her own safety if it was for us, so I will risk mine for her. Besides, its not like I've never risked my life and soul before."
Raphael gave his angelic smile. "You really do love her, don't you?"
Ichigo froze, his eyebrows shooting up into his hairline as a strong blush covered his face. "That... I... That's none of your damn business!" The orange haired boy shouted.
At first the Angel was shocked at the sudden outburst from the boy but then he started to laugh uncontrollably. "Oh, so your a virgin? That's good, it will make turning you into an Angel a lot easier." Raphael couldn't help himself. Ichigo was so strange. Usually people don't act so relaxed in front of their first Angel. He teased the boy for a little longer before taking him back to the church to get the ritual underway.
Though as they went, he looked over his shoulder at a tall red haired man who stood in the back corner of the graveyard. People who didn't know any better would believe he was the family of someone recently dead, as he stood their, his eyes water and his bottom lip trembling. But Raphael knew better. He knew it as one of the Four Satans, Lucifer, the father of lies, and that he was crying because someone swooped in at the last moment and took away his prize.
'Father, forgive me. I promise that my actions are not meant to cause unhappiness. Forgive me this sinful pleasures.' Raphael prayed silently.
Sirzechs Lucifer was upset. Really really upset. "They got him! After all that time I spent getting everything together they took the perfect rook away!" He cried as he buried his head in his wife's bosom. Most people would be shocked to find one of the four rulers of hell acting like a complete baby, but his wife only patted his back and rolled her eyes.
"Lucifer-sama, please try to control yourself. It isn't the end of the nine hells." Grayfia said calmly, not breaking out of her role as Lucifer's head maid.
"But Grayfia-chan I put so much work into finding that mutated rook piece and waiting for him perfect time to spring the question. He was going to be our son's first piece." Lucifer said, holding back his tears as he looked up at his wife/maid with puppy-dog eyes.
Lucifer hadn't wanted to recruit Ichigo for himself. No. Though Lucifer was a demon of greed, his greed manifested as wanting the best for his family members; his little sister and his son. He had put careful work into helping his sister recruit her own Peerage, without her knowing off course. He made sure she was always at the right place at the right time, just as her potential allies' worlds were falling apart, when they would be at their most desperate, letting her remain clean of any guilt as everything fell into her lap. His sister had never realized her big brother was helping her behind the scenes. And know his own son was approaching the age when he too should be starting to look for members to add to his Peerage.
Kurosaki Ichigo, Hero of the Winter War, was a living legend. When he was a Shinigami he had been nearly as strong as one of the Four Satans, and at the moment when he had reached his peek, he would have been a match for any of the Heavenly Dragons of old. With his personality of being a defender of anyone he considered to be family, regardless of the personal cost or what got in his way, he would have been an unparalleled Rook, even better than the Fire Giant that was in Lucifer's own Peerage. He would have protected little Millicas with his life and pretty much granted the boy's future.
The one year anniversary of when his love died was going to be the day. The day when he would be cursing his own weakness and loose of power. The day he would be most likely to take a hand that could help him regain the strength he needed to protect others. Lucifer had spent months insuring that his son would know the name Kurosaki. He had made sure to make it seem like it was the boy's own idea to go see him. But when the day finally came, Lucifer got word that an Angel was spotted with Ichigo. The Angel beat him too it.
The basics for initiative ideas in this is that the entire reason for the existence of the Goten 13 is because of the drop in Angel population.
Probably not going to continue this.