Here is the next chapter, Thank you to Aroneden and Mattock123 for the proofread.
And just because this has come up in a lot of PM's and reviews, I don't consider interharem relationships (I.e Akneo and Asia) cheating. Just wanted to put that out there, Think of it like this. Ichigo is one big circle which goes around all the girls, and there circles interlock with his and if they want to, each others. No circle goes outside of Ichigo's circle and so its not cheating. And if that is not good enough, then….this is my fanfiction Its not cheating because I say its now and I will write that way damn it….Anyway enjoy.
Serafall had been having a good time, it was the last day before she had to go back to work full-time with the conference coming up. After that, it would be some time for herself, Ichigo, and Sona to do her TV show. Unusually, the going back to work part was annoying her Queen as much as her, because Beli was having a great time with her new boy-toy.
Her violet eyes sparkled as she watched the two of them just stand next to each other, both quiet, both enjoying the simple presence of each other. Neither needing or wanting to speak, though they were holding hands, Serafall made a note to tease her over that later.
"So-tan!" She shouted and glomped her sister from behind, curling her arms around her sister's waist and pulling her close. That got a lot of looks, but most of them knew what had happened last night, so she did not feel like holding back.
Still, there would be no fondling, that was her limit and she would stick to it. "Onee!" So-tan surprised her by not struggling, her sister instead whispered. "If you behave yourself, I will," So-tan blushed, but managed to keep her voice quiet, "I will spend the night with you."
Serafall had been about to give her sister a love bite just for fun, but those words had her letting go at once. So-tan let out a sigh of relief and turned to her. "Thank you Onee-sama, I don't expect you not to be yourself, just...nothing extreme, alright?"
The Maou saluted her little sister like she was a drill instructor. "Ma'am, yes Ma'am!"
Sona put her hand to her face and Serafall could not help but laugh and lean forward. "Well played baby sis, well played."
"Thank you, I learned from the best."
Serafall leaned back. "Me? Mom? Or Auntie?"
"All three." She replied at once.
"Well, good for you So-tan." It felt good that her sister was not going to change herself, not going to let what they were now, change who she was and how she acted. The girl had adapted and figured out the best way to keep her big, loving, sexy, older sister in line. Oh, that was damn hot, and she would play along for now.
So-tan's blue-haired Rook was a feisty one, who, like So-tan, had gone with the Kuoh school uniform. She was a bit broad in the shoulders for a girl, but it fit her tomboy aesthetic. Her height, her strong legs, and narrow hips, the trim waist, and modest bust. Her arms were strong, muscles defined in the area near her shoulders. Perhaps that was why she wore the uniform as she did. With her long sleeves rolled up and that cute shoulder cape over the top. The high collar of the shirt stood out with a pronounced flair and her black tie placed so that it fell in between her breasts. The mini-skirt of the uniform was sinfully short as always, though she was rocking a pair of thigh-high black tights with a perfect amount of skin showing between them and the skirt.
Her face was lovely, though she wore no makeup of any kind, with dark blue eyes that went perfectly with her cute nose and a little smirk. That fell away as she put a friendly arm around her So-tan. "Kaichou, I just want you to know if you need someone to throw down with, get rid of all that pent-up embarrassment and frustration, I am here for you, ok. No judgment, no jokes, no questions asked, ok. You did not mean to mess up and we all know that, ok?"
Serafall felt her smile grow radiant and she quietly slipped away as Sona gave her Rook a relieved look. She made her way over to her mother, the woman had a plate of snacks and was shamelessly indulging in the treat. "You taught her well mama."
"You mean I taught her to use the power available to her. Whatever power that might be."
"Just like you taught me."
The woman smiled just a little. "I did not get all that much time to teach you Sera, not much time at all."
The Maou leaned against her mother, inhaling her familiar and calming scent. "I think you did a good job, I was just bad at dealing with my emotions."
"You had PTSD." She corrected.
"Yes, but I spent a lot of time being emo in my room and not talking to you all, so you can hardly be blamed for that."
"Yes," Her mother sounded sad, "All it took was you having your heart broken, and a whole new war."
Serafall sighed. "It's why I wear my heart on my sleeve now, it's hard for it to go dark when everyone can tell something is wrong. Beli-chan won't let me fall too far, even if she has to drag me out of whatever hole I fall into."
They both turned to where Beli and Sado were leaning against the wall and each other. "You chose your Queen well, it's enough to make your mother a little jealous."
"You and Sebra can't be with me all the time, you all have your responsibilities."
"We know," Seras said, "But it does not matter."
Serafall made a frustrated sound. "How can I fix this, it's..." She bit her lip.
"Time," her mother said, "Spend time with us."
Seras nodded in the direction of Ichigo, he was speaking quietly with an irate Koneko. The poor girl had been looking for him and only realized he had left the party when he had flashed back in, that girl Tatsuki with him. Serafall had seen the event preceding this and registered a number of changes in the girl at once.
One, she seemed to have had that stick up her ass removed, you could tell it in the way her shoulders were relaxed. Two, she was bonded now, the gloves at her waist had not been there before and she could sense the small amount of Devil Power that all her lover's bonds contained.
Three, she was smiling and her head was moving around as if she had discovered a new sense. And four, if she read the body language right, the girl was not the newest member of the harem...yet.
She went over to Inoue who let out a shriek of joy and hugged her friend tightly to her chest. What they said Serafall was not close enough to hear, but it made Tatsuki blush and shake her head violently. Orihime gave her a disappointed look, but only for a moment.
Serafall shook her head and Seras giggled. "How long do you think?"
The Maou shrugged. "She will be part of it long before she admits it."
Serafall was about to answer when she saw Ichigo stiffen. Not in a fun way either, he went completely rigid, his eyes growing very wide. His posture changed, any hit of relaxation gone, muscles taut and ready for explosive movement.
'Trouble.' Serafall said through her commutation link, setting her whole Peerage on alert. She was about to open her mouth when Ichigo turned and between the time it took him to go do that, there was a flash of pure gold...that was new...a whispered word of "Bankai." and he was gone.
Of course by that time she had crossed the room, drawing on his gift to her and moving with speed only a few present could track, hurling herself off the second story, her battle staff appearing in her hand. A lovely pink thing as tall as she was with a large jeweled heart on the tip. She was already wearing her magical girl uniform so she was ready for war.
Whoever was interrupting the last day of her vacation was going to regret it.
There were not many that had earned their name back in the Death Guard. You gave it up in return for the honor of joining. Yuki Zapada was one of the few. It was a matter of strength of arms and impressing someone who had a name within the Death Guard.
As one handpicked to serve Lord Tsunashiro, it had only been a matter of time. She was even first in line to attempt the fast-track Bankai training when they inevitably discovered the secret. But for now, she was content to know she was a match for the average Lieutenant-level Shinigami. That, of course, did not include the myriad of actual Lieutenants who were themselves on the level of Captains, but under the right circumstances, she might even be able to kill them.
But that was the power of a subtle tool, X-1 and X-2 were blunt. Having to work with them was a chore she wished she had not had to deal with. It did make her grateful for the unisex nature of her uniform and her lean build. X-1 was a rapist on track to be sent to Hell, and X-2 was a murderer who was the last man standing at the end of a prison death tournament that Lord Tsunayashiro liked to host.
What made X-1 truly dangerous was the fact that he had been a Lieutenant in the Gotei 13 four hundred years ago, and the Lord had even gone so far as to retrieve the man's Zanpakuto. She had almost killed him when she joined the group, just to make a point that she was no prey. So far he had been sullen and quiet, save for the time he spent ogling any remotely attractive women.
She had no doubt he had been indulging his desires, but that was no issue of her's. It made him easy to read, but with X-2 that changed. He did not do anything, at all. He followed orders, then either stood or sat around. However, his killing intent was massive, almost equal to her Lord.
"Look at that," X-1 breathed, "What would it be like to take that one, I have never seen the likes of her."
Yuki glanced in the direction X-1 was looking in and had to catch her breath. She did not have much in the way of a sexual drive, but to see a creature like that, curly blonde hair, a figure that once upon a time she might have wanted. Voluptuous, soft, perfect, hair that glinted like spun gold in the sun, eyes as blue as the azure sky. She was dressed oddly, some sort of green and gold robe, but then again mortals dressed oddly anyway. The woman was sitting on a bench and it did not seem as if the humans around her even noticed her presence as they moved about their day.
"X-1," She snarled, "Don't even think about it."
He turned his Death's Head mask to her and she could feel his violent rage as a palpable force. She had her hand on the hilt of her Zanpakuto, meeting his gaze and staring him down. X-2 shifted, his mask turning to watch them with something of an intensity he had only shown when Yuki had almost killed X-1 to establish her leadership.
"Listen you cunt I will-" Whatever he was going to say was interpreted as the lenses in their masks flickered and they were all seeing Lord Tsunayashiro. It said something about the fear he instilled in X-1 that he shut up and listened. "It seems that one of that boy's friends is attempting to ruin our insurance policy. Go catch the powerless one." The man smiled and the genuine nature of it frightened them all. "X-1 you can do what you want with the other, just make sure she is dead by the time it ends."
Yuki almost shuddered, but that was the judgment of her Lord and it was not her place to question. "Yes, my Lord." She responded at once, X-1 was far louder with his assent. "Do it now, while the chaff keeps the boy distracted. Yuki, you must create an Isolation Barrier, do not risk anyone finding out. While I don't care if you kill those who get in your way, stick to the mission." The lenses flickered and they were staring back at one another.
"You heard him, get moving," Yuki ordered, moving her hands through the proper seals and starting to chant the proper words. X-1 and X-2 watched her, waiting as violent intent built around them like a thunderstorm. She raised her hand and a square field of semi-transparent haze rose about a several block radius. The effect seemed to go unnoticed by the mortals, that was until one of them ran into it and bounced off.
This barrier was special for one important reason, it could mimic the Spiritual Pressure of those within, a snapshot of when things were calm. It was a way to trick any being tracking them by Spiritual means that everything was fine. It was also a fucking hard thing to do and absorbed most of her focus. "Go." She ordered.
Rukia knew she had gotten very good with the blade, but Renji was still better and the bastard held back even though he claimed not to. She was now much more fully rounded with her skills, though her Kido did far outstrip everything else. It had never occurred to her that using her Final Waltz would disrupt her ability to cast so badly.
Her Spiritual Power was in flux, like a fire in her body, burning wild and uncontrolled. She had her blade, she had enough control for the Flash Step, and that was it. She wove her Zanpakuto in a series of defensive strikes. If she would have had to worry about her back, this would have gotten ugly fast.
She could feel him breathing hard, no, that was not right. Back to back, she could feel his tremendous breath, rising and falling. Body pieces fell past her as a testament to his lethality. She risked a glance behind her and saw the way he fought had changed.
He was now taking the God-like speed and strength his Banaki granted him and using it in a controlled manner. He had his blade in front of him held in both hands, a furious scowl on his face. A Death Guard attacked him with a thrust, an attack he could not dodge because it would have hit her. So he brought his blade up from a low guard in a blinding fast strike that shattered his attackers Zanpakuto. With the same speed, he whipped the blade around and severed the man's head. Another Death Guard was on him, cutting at his exposed side. Ichigo reversed his blade and his grip, his stance shifting with an ambidextrous quality she had never seen in him before. His body was developed in perfect balance, neither side stronger or weaker than the other.
He brought his blade in high, cutting through the neck of his attacker, with efficient ease, not unlike how her brother fought. He returned his blade back to a guard position and with a slight twitch knocked another thrust off-target and nearly split the man in half from head to groin on the counterblow.
Rukia refocused on herself, in time to block an attack coming at her, though to do so forced her into a blade-to-blade struggle, costing her a second to cast the Death Guard back. Another one came at her front blade striking forward like a snake.
It looked bad until a staff with a jeweled heart on the end came crashing down on his head. There was a horrible squelching sound and the broken body slammed into the ground below them at Mach 2.
Rukia disemboweled her first attacker and kicked him away, her new savior was a freaking magical girl, with a heart-staff she was spinning around like a martial arts weapon.
"Hi, I'm Serafall, what is your name?'' She said. The girl caught a blade in the middle of her staff, shoved the person back, and with a flourish brought it down to smash her attacker's head in. With an almost negligent flick of her waist, a wave of ice smashes into and froze seven Death Guards, the bodies falling from the sky to crash onto the ground and shatter into grizzly chunks.
"Rukia." She responded a bit put off at how she could not sense this woman. That made her an Outer.
"Ah," The girl nodded, spinning her staff above her head, forming a ring of ice spikes centered on her, each foot-long needle-sharp construct spaced about ten inches apart in a ring to orbit her head. "Cool, I have always wanted to meet the woman who..."
"Bad timing Levi-tan," Ichigo called out.
"We are fine Ichi-chan, everyone else is almost here."
"Ichi-chan?" That was perhaps the first nugget of humor she had experienced in weeks.
"Pet name," He said tersely. "You're not allowed to use it." Her shoulders drooped, the command pulsed with dissatisfaction. "The moment you stop calling me Fool the world will end."
Rukia blinked once. Right, she already had a pet name for him. "I will call you whatever I want, Fool."
"There you go, midget."
Around them the Death Guard had pulled back, at the same time as several new people arrived: There was a girl whose hair and arms glowed with crimson darkness; A girl with glasses, orbited by a dozen orbs of water; Another girl shorter than her with white hair, her body sparking and crackling with blue electricity which, if you watched it for a few seconds, the lighting would seem to form like ears and a tail, but would break apart before a heartbeat had passed; A blue-haired girl, tall and strong, her body glowing with blue tribal markings; A woman in a Miko outfit with one blue wing and one black wing, close to her side was a blond girl with blue wings hovering in place; A freaking maid with a toddler on her back…though that toddler was Nel so…wait, how the hell did she get here?
The only three others she recognized were Orihime and Tatsuki, the black-haired girl had her fists up, fingerless gloves with metal knuckle guards visible, she looked a little out of place. Both of them floated on a platform formed by Inoue's power. Sado stood in front of them, though he had changed, with green armor covering his chest and legs, and a blond woman at his side. All that and more, and the most of them she could not sense, most of them the Death Guard could not sense.
At some signal the Guard began to flee, doors opening in the air as they fled back to Soul Society. But before she could breathe a sigh of relief, Ishida appeared in front of them all. He was fully dressed in his Quincy regalia and his back to them, his bow formed. "The bodies," He said, his voice cold, "Do you feel that Kurosaki?"
Rukia glanced at Ichigo who frowned down at the dead Death Guard, he focused on it for a moment before his eyes widened. "Oh Fuck."
Ishida raised his bow. "Here they come."
"Ichigo?" One of the girls asked as he readied himself, head swinging around.
"Hollows are coming, a lot of them." The bodies of the Death Guard began to glow and that unmistakable scent of Hollow Bait filled the air. "I thought that was only a Quincy thing?"
"That might have been the case, but in case you forgot there is at least one Captain in Soul Society who spent decades capturing, studying, and killing my kind."
Rukia winced at the words as Ichigo nodded. He took a look towards Karakura. "Dad's on his way to Yuzu, but he has to get out of his body…Nel," The toddler looked up at him, "Go find Karin and Yuzu, protect them.
The Arrancar nodded and slipped off of the Maid's back, she fell a few dozen feet, her body morphing and changing until a woman stood in her place, tall and busty, with green hair and a sword at her hip. She vanished with the sound of static as hundreds of holes in space began to open all around them, all around the city, and the countryside. Just one piece of Hollow Bait had been enough for a maddening amount of Hollows, dozens upon dozens…This was going to be bad.
Neliel hurtled across the city towards the source of Yuzu and Karin's Souls, around her Hollows began to tear their way into reality, but on instinct avoided her, which suited her just fine. It was only going to take her….she rolled as a Cero tore its way out of the void and slammed into her.
She managed to open her mouth in time and devoured the attack, she caught a glimpse of a Gillian before she unleashed a Cero Doble back, careful to make sure her attack was angled up so the backwash did not hit Karakura. She did however sense something far stronger behind it and her eyes went very wide.
She hesitated and sent a warning to Ichigo through their link. 'Master, there's something massive coming ou…' That was all she could get out before there was a flash of white, Nel drew her blade and blocked something that drove her backward's in the air. 'Nel!'
She did not have time to answer, even in her head, as she caught a glimpse of what attacked her. It stood nearly eight feet tall, humanoid and armored, its huge arms had shaped edges growing from the elbow and wrists. Its hands and wrists were overgrown with solid white plating. Its chest was like a sculpted armor plate, though it had too many divots for abs. Its legs were covered to the ankle by what looked like the tattered remains of a Shinigami robe, though even their white armor plating was growing over it like ivy. The feet were clawed dragon-like things, just as thick and powerful as its arms, there were no holes for eyes or ears as the head itself was encased in armor. It features vaguely like that of a Dragonoid human-shaped thing. Save for its single rhino-like horn judging from its forehead area.
Its mouth unhinged to reveal rows of teeth dripping with molten liquid, and in the middle of its chest a hole stood out prominently against his armored form. "Vasto Lorde." She whispered.
"Esssspada." It hissed, a long thin tongue running over its myriad of razor-sharp teeth. It's fist clenched. "Die, Traitor."
Before she could say anything he rushed her. Moving fast Nel dodged a punch which created a blast of compressed air in the space she had been, bringing her sword down. The hollow raised its arm, blocking the attack and a squeal of metal under pressure erupted as her weapon left a molten scar in the armor of the arm.
It hissed in pleasure and came at her, unleashing a series of brutal punches, each fast, but accurate, controlled and aimed.
Furthermore, through the closing portal, she sensed more coming. 'Ichigo' She sent through their bond, 'I am under attack by a Vasto Lorde, I don't dare lead it to your sisters.'
There was a pause and she felt his nod. 'Got it, be careful.'
"Ishida, bug spray," Ichigo ordered, it said something about the trouble they were in that the Quincy had no reply except to start shooting, thousands of small arrows lashing out to decimate the hollows in the hundreds….and it was barely making a dent.
"Rukia," He said, turning to her. "What is a Vasto Lorde?" Whatever it was, if what he was sensing with Nel's opponent it had more raw spiritual power than half of the Gotei 13 Captains.
Rukia's eyes went very wide before she shook herself. "Said to be the oldest and most powerful of the Hollows, they are supposed to be insanely rare and incredibly dangerous. Furthermore, they are said to have abilities that other Hollows do not possess, the one we have records of is the domination of lesser Hollows."
As she spoke Ichigo began to sense the arrival of Gillian and Adjuchas class. "Lastly it is believed that most of the Espada were former Vasto Lorde."
Ichigo risked a short message to Nel and nodded as he got the answer. "Only two of them were, one of which was newly formed, the other...well." Ichigo or rather Zangetus-white had put paid to that one. "These are older."
Every second that passed more and more Hollows appeared, Serafall waved her staff, and almost a thousand Hollows froze and burned at the same time, shattering into pieces before they hit the ground, sending golf ball-sized hail down on Karakura, the town was already going into a panic. This place was one of the strongest concentrations of Spiritual Power in Japan. There were more than a few who could see what was going on and those that could not, did notice when people started to die.
For a brief moment he hoped that Kisuke would appear with some plan, but they had all been caught by surprise. He needed to… "Protect me for a moment," He said to Rukia and Serafall, "The rest of you, ranged attacks, kill as many as possible in the next few seconds." Before any could ask questions he closed his eyes, focused past his Inner World, forcing his mind into the dream. He could feel it now, a forming bond between him and Aizen...it was a sobering realization. It was not complete, not yet, but it was close and it was enough to drag his waking mind into that space where they could talk. Into the dreaming.
Aizen raised an eyebrow at his appearance, but Ichigo, despite knowing he had a lot of time, moved quickly. He waved a hand and grunted as he forced his will over the dream.
He did not care about the void, he manifested a table and two chairs, and with a snarl, he forced away the image of Aizen's prison leaving the man standing and looking very confused. "Odd," the man mused as he slowly lifted and moved his arms, "I have never been able to leave that cage." The man bent back stretching his whole body. "Oh, even in a dream the feeling is amazing."
With a long sigh and moved over and took the open seat, Ichigo waved his hand over the table, and the last images before he closed his eyes appeared as a three-dimensional representation. "My home is under attack."
"I see that." Aizen nodded.
Ichigo gave a quick overview of what he knew, how the Shinigami Rukia called the Death Guard had been assaulting her, the Soul Society created Hollow Bait, and everything else he could think of, including the disposition of forces he could influence.
Aizen rolled his shoulders, seeming to take great pleasure in the action. Once that was done he turned his bright purple eyes to the table. With a wave of his hand, a simple quill appeared as well as paper. Ichigo watched as Aizen began to write.
Ichigo did not know what he expected, perhaps Aizen to just look at it all and come up with a genius plan. Or tell him he had already thought through this exact situation. Perhaps do some Sherlock thing or even just chuckle a little at how easy it was.
But no, there was none of that. Aizen took down all the information, split it by categories, and asked a lot of questions about Devils and the relative power levels of his allies.
Aizen changed the image on the table to a 3d image of Karakura from above, ran calculations, asked more questions, scraped paper, and started from scratch. It was like watching a chess grandmaster at work, worrying over a hard problem and loving it.
"You have an unenviable position, as I am assuming gathering all your allies and fortifying a position is out of the question."
"The Hollows would kill everyone."
Aizen nodded. "I thought not and to be safe we will assume you have no help incoming." Ichigo opened his mouth then closed it, Rukia had been running from something, and if it was Soul Society itself… "Then we will make do with what we have, heavens know I did that enough in my day."
"You...you've been tied up for like almost two years, that's not a long time for you."
Aizen smiled and did not reply to that, Handing him a piece of paper. "Let's go over what I have and see if there are any flaws.
To everyone else, it looked like he closed his eyes for five seconds. They snapped open and Ichigo began to say. "We don't have a lot of time." He used the Power of Imagination to amplify his voice making sure every person could hear him. "I need you all to listen and do what I am about to tell you."
No one spoke, which kind of surprised him, there were two Kings and a Maou looking at him and waiting. He let out a breath. "Serafall, Hollows are burned by devil power, so we will use it for area denial. I need to put a low fog over all of Karakura and keep it infused with your power, make the Hollows stay away from the residences. I don't want it to go further up, as it would just drive the Hollows berserk and drive them out to wreak havoc elsewhere." She nodded and without a worker lowered herself to the ground with her mother following her.
"Rias, you take your people," He pointed at two sections of the town, "Deploy here and kill all the Hollows you see until they stop coming." He turned. "Sona, you and your Peerage will go there and there," He pointed at the center of the town and an area on the edge, "Same as Rias, kill every Hollow until they stop coming."
He turned to Chad. "You're rapid reaction, go anywhere that needs help." He pointed at Beli. "Please protect Serafall, and if you could kill the Hollows that go down into the fog that would be great." She gave him a look that said, 'I was going to do that anyway' and after giving Chad a quick peck on the lips, set off after her King.
"Ishida," his friend gave him a look, and it took everything in him not to smile, "You got this?" He gestured to the areas of the town not covered. "Or will you need some help?"
The Quincy's glasses flashed and he gave no response save for turning his bow on more appearing Hollows. With a nod, Ichigo looked at his friends and nodded. "Remember, only direct attacks will work on the Hollows when it comes from Devil Power. No bindings, no esoteric shit, throw a fireball, raise a force field, only direct power will work and for God's sake," He gulped, "Make sure to dodge the Ceros." They all winced. "Even if it would hit the town, you will all save more lives alive...Thank you all, now go."
He passed as Mori gave him a look, he hesitated having no real idea of her combat strength. "Where do you think you should be?" She glanced at him and several wingbeats took her over to his side. "That works." He replied. If she needed protection he would be there, if she could take care of herself then the extra hands would come in handy.
He winced at the sudden flare of Devil Power from Serafall, then at a flash of power from Nel and whoever she was fighting. "Street-level," he ordered the rest, "Let's sweep them until the fog rolls in." He focused on his Sisters for a moment, Karin was near Yuzu and both their Souls seemed calm. At the same time a wave of Ishida's arrows flooded the sky over where they were, there did not seem to be anything stronger than normal Menos...small blessings.
His Dad had stopped moving at ground level, it seemed he was dealing with at least three Adjuchas near an Elementary School. Ishida's Dad was guarding the hospital and, as far as he could tell, no Hollow had so much as scratched the paint.
Yoruichi was running rampant through the streets destroying Hollows with every heartbeat. Ichigo opened his eyes fully and transformed Zangetsu into its bow form, the weapon still black and white, and began to shoot, relying on his senses, physical and Spiritual to aim and fire where he felt it was needed, such as the Gillian that was just emerging from a hole in space, blowing its head apart even as he sent a dozen more arrows in different directions. He aimed for the Hollows Ishida's bug spray bow could not instantly kill.
At his side, Mori was doing much the same, though she did it with a seemingly endless supply of freaking Kunai that she retrieved from somewhere on her person.
Now all he could do was wait for the fog and try to stabilize this. "Someone is going to pay for this.'' He growled.
Behind him, Rukia made a sound of pain and he glanced at her. "I can't do anything for another six minutes." Her eyes flashed. "I will stay by you as well."
Ichigo nodded and turned his full attention back to his bow.
"Down!" Karin shoved her sister to the side as a small Avian Hollow with a needle-like beak slammed into the ground where she had been. She stomped down hard on the monster, feeling it squelch under her foot.
"What the fuck is going on?" She snarled as she swept her Zanpakuto up and split a dog-looking thing in half. Her moonlight-colored blade slid through its flesh like it was not there.
Yuzu screamed and Karin whirled to see a thing with a head too large for a doll-like body. Razor-sharp teeth clamped down on her arm. Karin cut it in half at the head and it dissipated revealing….perfectly fine skin. Yuzu seemed just as stunned as she was. Then her hand went to her abdomen as circuit lines of blue flashed on her arm.
That was when something howled and the world cracked, as a fucking Gillian stepped out. Its long-nosed mask pointed directly at Yuzu. Her Sister froze as anyone might, the thing's mouth opened and it roared, shattering glass windows and sending civilians who could not hear or see it running in a panic as glass started to rain down. "Reign..." she started to say when a figure moved across her vision, dressed all in black with a skull mask. He seemed to have long curved blades growing out of his forearms, the curved outward razor edge dripping with Hollow ichor. It passed the Gillian, a huge gash appeared near its head, the figure Flashed behind the monster and slashed at the other end of the neck. The Hollow's head fell and the bladed man hurled himself at the other monsters within its range.
"That's new." She murmured.
That was when her instincts screamed danger, she turned just as a huge man, dressed in the same black outfit as the other, with the same Skull Mask came hurtling at her. "Run Yuzu!" She shouted and blocked as a murderously powerful attack slammed into her and she was flying back as the man drove her away from Yuzu and through a small bakery window, through several walls, and out the back.
It was all she could do to hold her attacker back as he laughed, the sound loud and booming. With a scream of effort, she turned her body and managed to let the man slide past her and run through a wall as she was knocked spinning and it took several long seconds before she got her feet under her. Meaning she had no time to run as the man stalked out of the building. "Oh, you are going to be a treat."
His voice, gods, his voice made her feel physically ill. "A body as small and," He let out a breath, "Undeveloped, with the stretch of a Soul Reaper."
Karin did not hesitate for a second. "Reign over the Endless Void, Getsuteyu(Moon Dragon)!"
Her body became shrouded in her power, the very shadow under her feet shot up. Folding around her, becoming her robe, flickering and shifting as no real clothing could. Making her body ill-defined and hard to track. Her sword shone like moonlight, the hilt becoming darker than the void itself. Her skin turned a deep moonlight pale and strength flooded her veins.
The man blinked at her. "And they said all you could do was see ghosts." He took a firm grip on his oversized Katana. "Thrust and Break, Kyanonberu (Cannon Bell)." His weapon turned into a haft of black metal taller than he was, the last three feet was a mass of metal akin to the Hand Cannon of old Europe. It had dragons engraved in red and gold that circled the Cannon.
When he spun the weapon its slow motions were ponderous, but she was not fooled. "Your skin," He growled, "I want to bite it." Karin took that revulsion and let it feed her power.
"Then come and get it." She hissed.
He moved quickly for a big man, his long strides deceptively fast. "Don't break, ok." He sounded breathy. "Don't break." She dodged as the weapon came down, the sheer strength behind the blow-making the haft bend like a reed. There was an explosion of concrete, chunks cracking, and jagged shards flying out from the point of impact.
They bounced off her shadow dress harmlessly, but they were almost enough of a distraction to get her killed. The Cannon staff came whistling towards her head, and still ruffled her hair when she ducked.
Using her short stature she brought her blade in low, striking at his legs, but that staff swept down and, though she drew blood, the staff knocked it away before it could be anything more than an abrasion. He completed the spin, Cannon's end pointed down. Karin took a step back, but her foot rolled on a piece of broken concrete and she fell on her ass. The man snorted and the weapon came down. Karin lifted a hand. "Lunar Tide Push!" The words were shouted, desperate and the man went flying as shadowy gravitational waves rammed into him like a semi-truck launching him from his feet, through part of a building and spinning into the sky.
Karin felt a moment of weakness as the expenditure of power drained her reserves. "Any new power or trick would be welcome." She hissed at her Zanpakuto.
"It does not work like that." Dammit, she knew that already. Above the man stabilized and pointed his Cannon staff at her. "Shit, I hoped it was for show." She threw herself out of the way as an actual Cannonball, glowing red with heat detonated where she had been. The explosion knocked her spinning and rolling down the street. She heard screaming as the explosion added to the chaos.
Her instincts chimed and during one flip she slammed her hand on the ground and launched herself into the air as another explosion sent her higher. At last, she remembered she could dig her feet into the air and step on it as if it were ground. Of course, that was only in time to see the man appear before her in that maddening Flash Step, that cannon staff cocked for a brutal swing. She had no choice but to block. She was almost shocked when her Zanpakuto did not shatter on impact. Her shadow dress did explode however as it attempted to cancel the kinetic energy sending her hurtling towards a hazy wall. She slammed into it hard, the remnants of the Shadow dress bunching around her to cushion her impact.
It still drove the breath from her lungs, leaving her gasping. She fell and only just caught herself enough to land on her feet. The world behind her was blocked by a hazy wall of spiritual power though it seemed like a fog the likes of which she had never seen was rolling in rapidly.
"Oh, you are tough!" She forced her attention back to her attacker, an ache forming in her head. He was hurtling towards her at street level, straight on. "How long will I get to break you, please last."
Well, if he was going to come at her in such an obliging way, who was she not to give him his reward. "Getsuga..." She whispered, not moving, acting as if she was stunned.
"Got you." The man hissed and her eyes flared. "Tenshou!" She howled, thrusting her Zanpakuto at him. He was only ten feet away when the attack hit him, a long serpentine dragon forged of shadow, dark enough to make the void jealous.
Karin went to her knees leaning on her Zanpakuto as the attack kept going, across the whole section of the town locked away by the barrier behind her. There was a crash and a tremulous explosion, sending cracks cobwebbing out from the point of impact.
The barrier almost broke, had she been just a bit stronger it might have. She could see a blackened shape fall in the distance and prayed it had been enough to put that man down. She had to try a few times to stand up and after closing her eyes for a second, found the power of Yuzu...and someone else. "Fuck." Karin snarled and forced her body to run.
Yuzu had no idea what she was doing, just running and dodging little Hollows, several times she had been bit and scratched, but each time they scored was...odd. Her skin blocked them like it was metal, or if it was a really bad bite her skin would flare with blue lines.
They were rapidly becoming nuisances rather than a threat. The man with blades coming out of his arms was a different story. He was following her, above her, behind her, around her. It was hard to get a good look, it was the screams or sounds of a Hollow dying that told her where he was or had been.
"Ichigo, where are you?" She whispered.
She looked up at the hazy sky and forced herself to keep moving. She felt it when the man passed close to her, there was a small rip and a lance of pain across her back. She stumbled over her feet and bit her lip hard enough as she felt that it should have drawn blood.
It was an odd contrast as she looked up at the man suddenly in front of her. He moved his arm and a flare of pain went through her leg. She screamed and the man seemed to shiver, as he cut her other legs. The pain was three times as bad as the first cut, Yuzu jerked back her eyes wide, scared. "Brother, help me!" She whimpered as the blade swung towards her.
Ichigo gasped as a third of his power was ripped from him. Zangetsu-White, feeling an irresistible pull, was just as surprised as he was. His bow turned into gold energy, losing its physical form. His skin and eyes returned to their normal color.
No pain, the sound of metal clashing against metal. Yuzu opened her eyes, standing above her was...well it was someone who looked like her brother. Except his skin was paper white, his hair the same. He wore white robes with a single pale gold pauldron on his right shoulder.
A single white katana held in one hand had blocked the attack. "Who the fuck are you?" It was her Brother's voice, distorting and filled with dark amusement, but it was still his voice. Yuzu moved her leg and the pain of that small insignificant cut was absolute agony. She could not help it, tears were welling in her eye and she let out a half-choked sob.
Her Brother's body turned to look at her, his eyes glowing yellow, bright with a lust for battle. Then he saw her, her face, the pain, her tears.
For a moment she was frightened, his face, her brother's face, but the look, the smirk, things she had never seen before. His expression changed at once, his eyes going wide. "Yuzu." Even distorted his voice held what it always did, love.
He whirled as the man swung his other blade, Ichigo's hand flashed up, his white fingers catching the blade between them with so little effort you could feel the contempt in the gesture. When he spoke it was terrifying. "I am going to tear your head off."
Whoever the man was, he believed it, trying to flee before her Brother put a foot in his sternum and kicked him so hard she saw the man blast through buildings. Her Brother, she was sure of it now, turned to her away from the smoking hole he had just created and knelt, laying a hand on her abdomen. Hot pain flashed through her before the cuts began to spew a white substance that sealed them, the excess crumbling away before she could really process what was happening. All she could see was that her cuts had been healed...sort of. That white substance looked like smooth skin. She felt his lips on her forehead. "Stay here, your Brother has to take out the trash." Around her an orange barrier rose, encasing her. "I will be right back."
"Karin," Yuzu gasped, "Karin was attacked too."
Ichigo whirled, horns sprouting from his head. "I'll kill them all!" He snarled. And he was gone, Yuzu put a hand on where he had touched her and felt safe, afraid for Karin, afraid of what was happening, but she felt safe and that was something.
Ichigo felt physical pain as Zangetus-white related to him what had happened in short clipped words. The only thing that kept him from going their way…was that he was already there.
Karin was only warned by the word, "Beautiful.", and it was barely enough for her to get her Zanpakuto up in time. The blow came down so hard her whole upper body went numb, under her, the ground cracked and splintered. Her legs wobbled and a kick to her chest sent her into a brick wall and had her sliding down in a heap.
The man was hurt, burned, his chest mass of mangled flesh, the lower part of his mask broken to reveal a bruised and split lip, and a series of broken teeth. He was limping as he approached her. "So Beautiful, you're perfect." She twitched, trying to move her body as panic started to rise. She could only watch as he leaned heavily on his cannon staff pausing to take in a few deep breaths. "I can't wait to break you." He spat out a goblet of blood.
For some reason, the sight of that gave her a fresh flood of strength. Perhaps it was just defiance, but feeling returned and she forced herself back to her feet. She spat her disgust at the man and felt her Soul answer. Black power flickered like a candle flame around her.
The man just shook his head and leveled his cannon staff at her. The thing glowed with a hellish light. "Don't worry, this is low power." He cooed. Karin held up her sword and tensed her body. There was a boom and she tensed for the impact that never came.
Karim looked into the back of someone, they had curly blonde hair, with a silver flower set over one ear. She wore a robe of gold and green, and even from behind Karin could sense the inhuman beauty of the being.
There was a loud clunk as an iron ball the size of Karin's fist hit the ground and dissipated into Spiritual Energy. "I am sorry Brother, I cannot just sit by and watch."
Those words confused her and apparently they confused the man too. "Who the fuck are you talking to?"
"You will not touch this girl again."
The man snorted. "Really, cause I don't sense anything in you that could stop me. Though you did block that weak cannonball." He laughed. "A young hard body and a soft mature one, ohh this is my day."
The woman did not seem bothered by the vile implications. She just stood there waiting, hands spread, hair moving in the breeze. Something he saw seemed to give her attacker pause, a hesitation she had not seen before.
Whatever it was his mouth snapped shut, his grip on his weapon changing from arrogant to battle-ready. Karin wondered what he had seen, and why he was not using his cannon again. "I don't mind breaking you a little." The man breathed. Spinning his cannon staff above his head.
The woman let out a breath and then inhaled, something in the way she did it was familiar, and it took her a moment to place it with the same kind of thing Ichigo did in their sparring matches. But her breath seemed worlds apart, it was like Creation inhaled with her. Hands moved as if she was gripping the hilt of a sword, her stance lowering, her leg sliding back. There was a gentle gathering of Light, fast yet elegant, taking the shape of a katana, forged of Light. Her right hand grasped the hilt and she waited.
The man stopped his spinning staff, the cannon end glowing molten and he leveled it at the women. "Yūgata no berutōn (Evening Bell-tone)."
The woman gained a soft glow, and in the area around her Light began to fragment, sending splashes of rainbow light in odd places. "Breath of the First, Form One:," The man fired, the sound of the explosion, everything, "Morning's Breath." The woman whispered. Karin felt the air pressure as two halves of the cannonball flashed past to either side of her body.
Karin blinked away the dust and caught a glimpse of her attacker's body, the woman had split him from groin to head. His Zanpakuto fell into two sizzling halves splitting with his body as he fell.
The woman turned and….Karin was straight as straight could be, but even though she found the breath punched out of her lungs, the woman was so hot. Soft, gently curving features, endless blue-green eyes, and a soft pair of pink lips.
Karin shook it off. "Yuzu." She said, trying to move and just managing to fall forward. The woman caught her with ease, holding her like a baby. "Yuzu." She said again pointing and frowning at a pillar of orange light. The woman nodded and six pairs of wings just appeared, sending lovely white feathers flying everywhere.
When they moved it was quick, so quick the distance was covered in seconds. That was when she saw her brother's Hollow and the second man. He was running, running for his life, and he was far too slow.
She expected laughter, crazed words, something, anything to show what that Hollow was to her Brother. What she saw was much more terrifying. Hate, pure hatred so hot it burned cold. Contempt flowed through every single one of his actions. With his blade in one hand, he blocked and deflected every attack from the man, he kicked and caught the man in the chest, sending him crashing to the ground. He did not even have time to stand up.
The Hollow slammed into him, driving his white Katana into his chest, and through the concrete below. Having pinned the man in place he bent, grabbed either side of his head and the woman covered Karian's eyes, but the sound of a scream cut off by an all-consuming snap told her the story.
Then they were on the ground again. "Karin." She looked over to Yuzu, surrounded by a barrier of orange light. She saw her sister pause as she took in the woman's appearance. "Wow." That was all she could say.
The woman touched the light, frowning, and pressed her hand fully against it. Karin felt something old flow around this woman, older than her Brother, perhaps as old as time itself, older than the separation of the worlds. A morning star rising to burn its radiance in an empty void, the light that had been called into existence by the simple words. "Let there be light."
The barrier around Yuzu wobbled, turning into the same soft yellow as the Women's light. It dissipated into fragments of radiance, and that was when hundreds of small Hollows pounced. They did not make it to within thirty feet of Yuzu, they all died too quickly. The woman had not moved but all those fragments of light had flashed down like a rain of meteorites.
"Who are you?" Yuzu said, asking the obvious.
"Gabriel, the messenger of God, bearer of the Grace: Godspeed and Morning Star. Second in command of Heaven and Crown Jewel of Heaven." The woman turned to look at Ichigo's hollow who had answered her sister's question. She got the sense he really wanted to have his blade at Gabriel's throat as he said it, but his gold pauldron was pulsing and it seemed to be hindering that arm.
"I am, though I will debate that last part, the Crown Jewels of Heaven are the faithful, in their eternal reward."
"Ya, ya, whatever." The Hollow waved his hand. "Thank you for saving my little sister." he paused to nod at her. "Now what the fuck are you doing here?"
"Delivering a message." She replied.
"Great, let me guess, it's for the dumbass, right?"
"Ichigo Kurosaki and Serafall Leviathan."
That made the Hollow tilt his head, but then seemed to decide he did not care enough. "Follow me then." Yuzu made a quiet sound of joy as the Hollow swept her up in his arms. "Don't fall behind, Gabriel Godspeed."
"Hm," the woman said as they both went skyward, "How does he know that nickname?"
"What?" Karin asked, more out of numb shock than curiosity.
"It's a name I was called in the War of Three Powers."
Karin did not have anything to say to her so she focused on regaining her strength. This day was far from over, and they all knew it.
Ichigo's heart rate settled down as his Sisters headed towards the Sitri Peerage, he did not spare any thought to the fact that there was a Seraph of Heaven with them, there just was not enough time, and besides, he knew she was not here to fight them. Or rather, he had been told. He looked up to where Nel fought the Vasto Lorde, she had managed to get him above the town to a point where their fight would not damage the surroundings.
Under him, the fog covered the whole town, and the Hollows who entered it burned, leaving only the defenders of Karakura above the mess. The Hollows were focusing on those with real Spiritual Power, as even biting a Devil seemed to burn them. It meant that with Orihime and Tatsuki, the Sitri Peerage was dealing with more little Hollows, the ones with some intelligence were going after the weaker-looking people like Koneko and Asia or fleeing.
The Gillians were the most dangerous to Karakura, but between his arrows and Yoruichi as well as both Peerages when they came close to one, things seemed contained for the moment.
So it was of course with this thought, things went to Hell, as four more huge Spiritual Pressures entered the local space. Three were weaker than the current Vasto Lorde, in terms of Spiritual Power at least, so that was something.
Before he did anything, several more portals opened and more Gillians began tearing out of them. While in front of him the sky tore open and a whole herd of Adjuchas surged out of it, looking desperately afraid, but not of him.
When they noticed him, a roar went up. "Kill him and eat him, take his power for ourselves. Feed and become one of the Lordes."
Ichigo killed three before they could reach him and shifted Zangetsu into its twin short sword form, the white one was currently made of energy with no physical form, it still has the shape and size of the black blade. Twenty-eight inches long and four inches wide, with the thickness of a finger.
He took in a breath, just as he had done for the past week. Sparring with his sister, and practicing his breath, over and over again, whenever he had a moment, whenever he walked down the street. Repetition, the key to success, and he had it now.
It felt like he was light, like he could see and feel every enemy in stark clarity, his mind was so clear and focused. He could feel his breath, the way he breathed, feel it act as a slight drain on his Spiritual Power.
At first, he had always stopped when that happened, Vasco had told him the breath would drain his stamina until he had mastered it and while he could feel it he was not there yet. The Adjuchas did not seem to know or care about the oddity, a wall of teeth, claws, and muscle surged towards him.
Ichigo met the first head-on, the black Zangetsu coming down, cleaving through the Hollow mask and the head, then ramming the hazy white blade into a leaping lupine form, leaping up before bolts of red shot, reishi, fire, acid, and a myriad of other unique projectiles flashed towards him. He wove in between them, his speed and focus absolute, not a single one so much as touched his robe.
Moving with the full speed of his Bankai, he used the break in cohesion to attack. His blades cleaved through their bodies. It was quick and efficient, but he was dissatisfied with his movements, hell, that had been the case ever since seeing Vasco demonstrate his Breath of the Soul and what he could do with it.
But there was no time to learn right now, rushing past three of the Hollows he cut and slashed, sending prices flying. He whirled as at least eight of the monsters unleashed Ceros at him. His first instinct was to respond in kind, but without his Hollow, that was not an option. "Getsuga...'' He noted that without Zangetsu-White, the color of his energy was a bit duller than its golden luster. He poured his power into it, drawing the ambient energy from around him. The leaking reishi created by his breath merged with his attack. "Jujisho." He put a lot of power into it, not wanting to risk what would have happened if the Ceros overpowered the attack. They actually looked like a gold cross of pure energy, which clove through the beams and through the ones who had fired them. Soaring off into the distance where it dissipated a dozen miles from the town.
"You don't seem to understand what the difference between us is." Ichigo said. Of course, that was the case, he was still practicing hiding his power. He was not doing very well, but it did make him seem less than he was. "You," He gestured with his white energy blade, "Can't kill me." His gold reiatsu flared around him, so dense it was visible to even normal mortals.
The few who were looking up at the sky saw gold energy radiating from an invisible point. The gold seemed to form almost tail-like wisps around the point and the Adjuchas got the message as to what the fuck they had been trying to eat. They tried to run, but the force of his Soul locked them in place. They stared at him in fear and just before he could move, another portal opened and the Spiritual Pressure that came out of it was intense.
It fought against his own Spiritual Pressure making the air all around them vibrate with the force of it. Yellow eyes were visible against the darkness of the void as another fucking Vasto Lorde stepped forward, and behind him, more Hollows marched.
Well, shit is going down, where did this literal army of hollows come from I wonder? Those who read don't fear your own world will know a bit more about the Vasto Lordes or as I like to call them one of the Greatest Disappointments in Bleach. Thanks to a filler arc we know that Tier Harribel was a Vasto Lorde and that she got her ass kicked by two nameless Arrancar so far from Espada they might as well have been dirt.
Anyway, I am making a few changes to them, adding a few things here and there, like the idea that Teir was an incredibly young Vasto Lorde's and Barragan well he at least has a better excuse because his ass got one shot by Aizen. That just is not a fair fight, anyway I was talking to my friend and telling him about how we first learned of the Vasto Lorde and how if Aizen had ten of them he could take over Soul Society.
And given that because of the filler arc we know the Espada outcalls them effortlessly in the main cannon I was having a laugh. But then he pointed out something true "Ten Vasto Lorde and Aizen" those last two words being the most important. Anyway hope you all enjoyed and hope you enjoy some of the changes I am making to the Vasto Lorde's.
In other's thoughts...well done Ichigo, I am sure that the psychic part of Aizen's cage was not important in any way, And I am sure giving him the power levels and skill ranks of your allies will have no future ramifications….
Reading all these top comments at the end make me feel...inadequate in my own reviews, but I wanna show positive support to your efforts in writing this fic, so I'll stick with my "Great(or other synonyms) story!" when I'm in a rush to read the next chaptergreat chapter btw :p
Lol don't feel that that, I read all the comments and thank you for your's now as for the one I want to answer.
I knew I was getting Dresden vibes for theast few chapters regarding the White God but I just chalked it up to my lack of knowledge of actual Christian myths.
I get a lot of inspiration from the dresden files, favorite book series, favorite author though I have been getting real into demon slayer as of late...can you tell?
I like the imagery where she(Rukia) escaped and made her entrance to the human world.
It looked almost like a rebirth for her as if she was shedding away her old life for a new one. Her declaring her name without any of the titles just emphasized it.
That was what I was going for, its not going to free her from what she went though but it is a start and a place where she can look back and say, yes I did this.
Good work on fleshing out the characters and I am so happy you included Tatsuki. That girl gets so little love. I remember the king pieces you mentioned Sona and Rias having but they didn't have them. There was like 10 or something in existence. They multiplied the user's power by atleast 10 times. Perhaps you can make it so that Ajuka made 2 special pieces that were reduced versions of original.
And I did not know that, I could have sworn Rias showed Issei one of them but I guess I was wrong, I also though that you needed a king piece to be a King, but I was wrong there...heh Ichigo peerage is back on the market fun.
(This week there were two comments of the week and I could not pick between them so here they both are)
First, glad to hear you're not breaking up one of the OTPs. Isshin and Masaki rate a whole 9 out of 10 on the Gomez and Morticia Adams OTP scale. With G&M being the unreachable 11, of course.
Yes I fully agree with what you have said, and glad people got my message.
Second, glad to see things have finally come to a head, and even more excited to see the next chapter is likely to open up with a very one-sided beatdown, or the aftermath of one at least.
Well it was kind of a one sided beatdown until the death guard cheated. Lol thank you for your comment
Despite what others have said, I actually really liked the last batch of chapters. You have compressed a lot of the romances down to a chapter pr two and they really just fit. The fliting in and out of Rukia has been a subtle undertone that just came to a climax in the best possible way. Keep up the amazing Work.
Thank you, for this, it makes me glad to here it, there have been a lot of comments about how nothing I have done in the chapters before this have been relevant, so its you and the others telling me that it was fun that makes me feel good.
Now I will do my best to go back to the romance growth that I did in normal chapters. Well except when new girls show up, then they get their own chapter but there should be no more series of chapters like this.