Chapter 24: Cometh the Hour
The Battle of London rages on, and our beloved characters continue to fight for their lives. I honestly don't have much else to say this time, so I hope you all enjoy the new chapter. Sorry for the wait, but school takes priority.
Before we begin, let me go ahead and say that there is a character in this chapter who is vastly stronger than in canon. The reason for this will be explained in the ending notes, and it really isn't anything to get too work up about. I just know how some people can be about jumping to conclusions…
Ichigo's corpse was heavy on her sword.
Candice continued to laugh, but it had devolved from a full-blown cackle into a far tamer chuckle of quiet disbelief. She stared at the blood staining her weapon, and watched as the precious liquid continued to flow from the orange-head's body and over her gloved hands, slowly discoloring the white fabric with patches of deep red. In any other circumstance, she might have been infuriated with the ruined state of her formerly pristine uniform…
As it was, though, she couldn't care less at the moment.
She had just done what the Major had deemed impossible.
She had killed the infamous Ichigo Kurosaki. The boy designated as Millennium's most dangerous Special War Potential. The boy who had defeated Sosuke Aizen in single armed combat. The boy who had stormed the gates of Hell itself in order to save his comrades. Despite all of his accomplishments, he was now destined to be nothing more than food for the worms below.
It almost seemed too good to be true.
Perhaps it was too good to be true…
Eyes narrowing suspiciously, Candice eyed Ichigo's body. His Reiatsu had completely disappeared, which heavily supported the idea that he was in fact dead as a doornail. His eyes were dull, he wasn't breathing, and the only sign of movement that came from him was the slight waving of his hair in the wind. And yet, Candice couldn't shake the mounting feeling of dread that was crawling up her spine…
Tearing her eyes away from Ichigo's body, she fixed her gaze on Bambietta, who was floating several meters away. The brunette's expression was disturbingly blank, and her eyes were fixed upon an indiscernible point in space. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Candice took a cautious step towards her. "B-Bambi…?"
Almost as soon as the name passed her lips, Bambietta adopted a positively horrifying smile.
And then, she heard it.
A deafening sound, akin to the shattering of glass, overwhelmed each and every one of Candice's senses. The cacophony was so intense, she was forced to drop her sword and cover her ears to prevent herself from going completely deaf. Bright, glowing purple cracks suddenly appeared in the air, originating close to the ground and rapidly ascending towards the heavens. And then, the entire world seemed to break apart into thousands upon thousands of particles of amethyst particles of light.
Head whipping around wildly, Candice surveyed her new surroundings. Everything appeared exactly as it had before, but as she turned down towards where she had dropped her sword, the green-haired Sternritter felt the blood in her veins ice over. The weapon had fallen onto the roof of a semi-demolished building, but the body impaled on the blade did not belong to Ichigo Kurosaki. In the orange-head's place, a Ghoul's rotten corpse continued to leak foul blood onto the concrete…
It… it had been a trick?!
Her eyes widened in sudden realization, and she threw herself to the side as a sudden presence made itself known behind her. Candice clenched her teeth as an agonizing sensation ripped through her left thigh. Her Blut Vene prevented her from taking any lasting damage, but it still felt as if someone had pressed a white-hot branding iron to her skin. Utilizing Hirenkyaku, she placed a dozen meters of distance between herself and her surprise assailant.
Reaching down to place a hand against the dark bruise rapidly blossoming across her thigh, Candice raised her eyes to glare at whoever had been stupid enough to think they would be able to kill her so easily.
Mismatched green eyes stared back at her from underneath a short curtain of orange hair.
Zorin Blitz sneered, resting the handle of her enormous scythe along her shoulders. "I'm still alive, aren't I? If betraying Millennium keeps me that way, then I don't really have a problem with abandoning all of my precious former comrades. They seemed more than happy with throwing me to the wolves…"
"Do you really think His Majesty will let you live after all of this is over?" Candice scoffed tauntingly. "Even if Millennium and the Major fail tonight, there is nothing in this world that can stop His Majesty from fulfilling his goals. Not you, not Hellsing, and certainly not Soul Society. Even a filthy abomination like you must recognize that."
Surprisingly, Zorin's sneer widened. Her multi-hued eyes danced with an almost giddy madness. "You haven't felt just how powerful the Kurosaki brat has become. Neither the Major or His Majesty have any idea how much they've underestimated him…"
"And how can you be so sure of that?"
"How do you think, hündin? I've been on the receiving end of one of his temper tantrums. But you knew that already, didn't you? After all, in the eyes of His Majesty and the rest of you pure-blood shitheads, I was nothing more than disposable cannon fodder." Baring her teeth, Zorin's sneer morphed into a furious snarl. She readjusted the position of her scythe, and let it hang down from her right hand. "The Major promised us a war for the ages. He's kept good on that promise, but I never realized until now that Millennium was not meant to survive the night, was it? We were all destined to die here in London."
Candice remained silent.
Evidently, her silence was enough of an answer.
Releasing a furious roar, Zorin flared her Demonic Energy before blasting forward with Hirenkyaku. Her gigantic scythe was raised into the air, and she quickly brought it screaming back down towards Candice's throat. Reacting accordingly, Candice summoned another blade of Reishi to intercept the attack. She was successful, but the raw power behind Zorin's strike still caught her by surprise. Her arms trembled with the effort of holding the larger woman back, and it took a good portion of her own strength to finally push her former comrade away.
Clearly undeterred, Zorin rushed forward once again and swung her weapon in a horizontal arc. Briefly flaring her Reiryoku, Candice propelled herself backwards and out of the scythe's oncoming path. Even so, the oversized blade still managed to slice through a small patch of fabric on the front of her Quincy uniform. The tear was almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye, but it was still enough to warrant a decent amount of concern. A single bead of sweat raced down Candice's brow, and she used Hirenkyaku to once again put a favorable amount of distance between Zorin and herself.
The difference in strength between a true Sternritter and one of Millennium's faux Quincies should have been astronomical, yet Zorin was quickly proving herself quite capable of fighting on par with a higher Lieutenant-Class Shinigami. The Demonic Energy swirling within the orange-head's body was undoubtedly to thank for that, and Candice found her expression settling into a scowl. As loathe as she was to admit it, there was no denying that her former comrade had a point. It was quite clear that the power of a Devil, reincarnated or otherwise, was not to be underestimated.
Bravado and pride would not do her any good here. If she was to emerge victorious, she would have to treat this fight with all of the seriousness it deserved. Otherwise, she might very well end up as one of the many corpses lining the streets below.
Summoning the power of her Schrift, Candice called forth several bolts of electricity. The white-hot coils of energy slithered around her arms like serpents, before springing forward to strike Zorin in the middle of her sternum. The older woman staggered, coughing, but otherwise tanked the attack with no visible injuries. Candice grimaced in disappointment, ducking under a retaliating punch that likely would have taken her head clean off her shoulders.
Unfortunately, she was unprepared for the combat boot that was firmly planted in her stomach only a few seconds later.
The air was driven from her lungs violently, and she actively fought to keep from throwing up in pain as she was sent careening back through the air for several dozen meters. Struggling to keep Zorin in her line of sight through the fresh tears stinging in her eyes, Candice swore harshly when the former vampire quickly disappeared in a burst of Hirenkyaku. A buzz of static and a rush of air from behind heralded the orange-head's reappearance, and Candice dropped into a crouch just in time to avoid being decapitated.
Kicking out immediately with her right foot, she felt her heel connect with something solid.
Finally, a solid hit.
A burst of pressurized air generated from the point of impact, followed by a resounding boom. Zorin hacked on spittle, and Candice whipped around before the older woman could hope to regain her bearings. The air hummed with static, and dozens of bolts of electricity jumped out from the surrounding clouds. The lightning followed her command, and coalesced in her hands into the shape of enormous hammer. It all happened within the span of a few seconds, and Candice screamed her frustration as she swung her new weapon with every ounce of supernatural strength she possessed.
Her attack hit home.
Thunder roared as Zorin was sent sailing across the open sky,
Reshaping her hammer into a gigantic spear, Candice hurtled it forward with another shout. The weapon whistled through the air after its intended target, before quickly catching up. A fountain of blood erupted from Zorin's mouth like a crimson geyser as she was violently impaled. It was a staggering blow, even for those with the most advanced of healing abilities. The taste of victory fell on her tongue, and Candice once again allowed herself to smile.
However, it was quick to disappear…
Zorin's body shattered like glass, and the electric spear dissipated into thin air.
"Running and hiding, huh?" Candice shouted, eyes scanning the sky for her opponent. The sounds of Bambietta's ongoing battle with Ichigo echoed in the distance, but she couldn't afford to pay it any mind. Combined with her newfound strength, Zorin's ability to warp the senses was not something to be taken lightly. "Come out and fight, you bitch!"
"If you insist."
Candice's eyes widened in surprise as the air directly above her shattered into a thousand broken shards of light. Zorin reappeared out of nowhere, raising a leg and swinging her heel in a downward arc that smashed into the very center of Candice's forehead. Crying out as she was sent careening towards the earth, the green-haired Sternritter bared her teeth and braced herself as her body collided with the street in an explosion of dust and rubble. Her momentum, combined with the sheer force behind Zorin's kick, crumbled each and every surrounding building. The impact was jarring, and certainly painful, but her Blut still kept her from taking any grievous injuries.
Forcing herself to open her eyes, Candice swore harshly and rolled across the concrete just as a crescent of crimson energy cut deep into the ground where she'd just been. Utilizing Hirenkyaku, she moved across several hundred meters to reappear on the collapsed roof of a demolished building. Her legs shook like jelly, but she still managed to remain upright. Turning her eyes skyward, she scowled as her gaze once again settled upon her opponent's form. The orange-head's curved blade still glowed a faint red with the residual energy of her most recent attack.
"Had enough?" Zorin sneered.
"Not. Quite. Yet."
"Oh? Haven't you realized yet? I'm leagues stronger than I was before."
"No shit. But I think you might have forgotten something…"
"And what might that be?"
Candice smirked. She still had one final ace up her sleeve, and although she hadn't expected to use it, utilizing it now would almost guarantee her victory. "You aren't a true Sternritter… which means you have one huge disadvantage against someone like me. Even with all of your new Demonic Power, there is something I can do that you'll never hope to achieve. You've come far for such a lowly animal, I'll admit… I suppose I can reward you through a demonstration of the true power of one of his Majesty's chosen soldiers."
Extending her Reiryoku, Candice tapped into the slumbering reservoir of power trapped within the deepest recesses of her soul. Calling the power forward, she ignited an explosion of bright green aura around herself, instantly disintegrating the building beneath her feet. The energy swirled, danced, and raced through every muscle, bone, nerve, and cell within her body. Her Reiatsu doubled. Tripled. Quadrupled. Even then, it continued to climb higher and higher until finally reaching a crescendo.
Glowing wings of the brightest energy, shining blue, extended outward from between her shoulder blades.
Candice took quite a bit of personal pleasure at the expression of horrified realization slowly dawning on Zorin's face. A single whispered word escaped her lips, but it still echoed as if she'd shouted it from the highest mountaintop.
There seemed to be no end in sight…
Fires continued to rage across the city.
More and more corpses slowly began to reanimate into Ghouls.
Tremors shook the earth and sky in nearly every direction, generated by the blows traded between multiple supernaturally-enhanced combatants.
And to top it all off, Alucard still had yet to arrive…
Integra was confident that her servant would eventually make a grand appearance, but the exact moment when that would happen was almost impossible to determine. Even for an overwhelmingly powerful vampire, moving across open water was a fairly monumental task. For the time being, Ichigo and Seras would have to be enough to hold back the legions of the undead.
Of course, the presence of the orange-head's assortment of powerful friends was also more than welcome.
Blowing out a slow exhale of smoke, Integra dropped her cigar and snuffed it out underfoot. From her vantage point on the roof of what had once been the Palace of Westminster, she watched in disgust as a decently-sized legion of Ghouls continued to slowly approach from the west. The undead creatures, comprised of a mixture of fallen soldiers and civilians, served as a grim reminder of just how brilliantly she had failed to protect her homeland from Millennium's Last Battalion.
Crystalline blue eyes flicked to the man standing next to her. "Would you mind taking care of that?"
"Not at all," Kisuke Urahara replied, stepping forward. The 'clack' of his wooden sandals echoed across the rooftop. "These poor souls deserve to be put to rest." Gripping his shikomizue with both hands, the blond man detached the handle of the cane from the shaft, revealing a thin sword hidden within.
A shimmering aura of crimson briefly engulfed the blade, and when it dissipated, the weapon had taken on a completely different form. The hilt's grip, which possessed a black-decorative wrapping, bent forward at the end. At the base of the guard was a red string wrapped thrice around the hilt, with a three-looped bow on the back side and a folded paper decoration on the front. The actual blade itself was colored black with a silver edge, with the tip ending in a slanted, razor-like edge.
"Your Zanpakutō?" Integra surmised. This was her first time actually seeing a Shinigami's signature weapon — she had only heard Ichigo's verbal descriptions beforehand.
"Correct," Kisuke nodded, holding the sword horizontally out to the right side of his body. "Now, if you could be so kind, would you mind taking a few steps back?"
Doing as instructed, the Hellsing matriarch turned her attention back towards the still-approaching group of Ghouls. Once again, Kisuke's weapon was wreathed in an aura of crimson. This time, however, he slashed the weapon through the air in front of himself.
A crescent of energy discharged from the sword, racing forward to obliterate everything in its path. The attack flowed down the street, engulfing the horde of Ghouls and promptly turning each and every one of them into smoldering piles of ash. It was certainly an impressive display, but at this point Integra highly doubted there was much more she could witness that would be able to inspire awe.
Nodding in satisfaction, she turned away from the scene to regard the two other individuals present on the roof. "The both of you have been awfully quiet. Is there anything you wish to say?"
"What is there to say?" Balalaika retorted. "We're surrounded by a literal Hell on Earth. I don't know about you, 'Teggy, but all of this has rather spoiled by appetite for conversation."
Mildly irritated with the mention of her childhood nickname, Integra turned her gaze towards the fourth blonde on the rooftop. "And what of you, Miss Blackwater? Something is troubling you, yet you're clearly reluctant to speak up. What is it?"
The American swallowed, wetting her lips nervously. "I… I know there are more pressing matters to worry about… but I can't help but worry…"
"You're concerned for Captain Bernadotte." Surprise blossomed across Edith's face, and Integra made to explain before she could be assaulted with a volley of questions. "Ichigo mentioned in passing that the two of you had formed a relationship during the events in Tobioka City. As far as I know, the Captain was critically wounded during the assault on Hellsing Manor, but he was relocated to safety after Ichigo arrived to deal with the threat. I am not certain of his current condition, but I have a feeling he will survive."
Edith opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off as a tooth-rattling crash of thunder echoed across the sky. Wincing against the flash of lighting that followed, Integra turned her gaze upward. Her eyesight was not supernaturally enhanced, but she was still able to make out the faint silhouette of a figure wreathed in electricity zooming across the sky.
Noelle and Ninny, having been utterly silent thus far, both screamed in terror as the surrounding area was illuminated in a bright blue hue, and another cacophony of thunder shook the roof beneath their feet.
"What the hell is that?" Balalaika scowled, hand itching nervously towards the pistol on her hip.
"Nothing good, I'm sure," Integra snorted, turning towards Kisuke. "Can you see what's going on up there?"
"I can," he nodded. "But I think we will have to focus our attention elsewhere for the time being…"
"What do you mean?"
As if to answer her question, the rooftop was suddenly illuminated by the shine of dozens of enormous spotlights. Temporarily blinded, Integra brought up one hand to shield her eyes, while the other fell down to withdraw her pistol from her overcoat. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the offensive light, the platinum blonde swore under her breath as she found her vision filled with the sight of Millennium's massive flagship floating overhead. The crackle of a radio filled her ears, amplified through several loudspeakers fastened to the front of the zeppelin.
"Guten Abend, Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing!" the Major's voice crowed psychotically. "We have been looking everywhere for you, Maine Liebe. I am so happy to have finally found you!"
"Who in God's name is that?" Noelle shrieked, clutching Ninny to her chest. The raven-haired girl stared up at the zeppelin in abject horror, while her blonde friend continued to tremble in terrified silence.
"The madman responsible for all of this death," Integra replied bitterly, scowling as nearly two dozen armored foot-soldiers, each bearing the Millennium crest on their uniforms, blurred into existence on the rooftop. Each vampire was quite literally armed to the teeth — some brandished simple combat pistols, while others carried Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles. There was one who was even holding a bloody MI34 Mini-gun.
Slowly taking a step back, the Hellsing matriarch raised her pistol and trained it on the center of the closest vampire's forehead. To her left and right, respectively, Balalaika and Edith cautiously did the same. The three women formed a protective circle around the two defenseless civilians.
In a flash of crimson, all twenty-two vampires screamed in agony as they were suddenly reduced to piles of ash. Flesh, armor, and weaponry was all disintegrated within the span of an instant, and Integra turned to spare a semi-amazed glance in Kisuke's direction. She hadn't even seen him move. Alucard had managed similarly impressive feats in the past, but the elder vampire had always possessed a visual tell. Kisuke, on the other hand, had simply uttered two words and destroyed their enemies.
Suddenly, Integra felt quite a bit better about their chances.
"Very impressive, Kisuke Urahara!" the Major commended. His tone conveyed quite a bit of amusement, as if he'd actually enjoyed the spectacle of his soldiers being dispatched so easily. "It is good to know that our Daten about you was correct. Your fighting capabilities are truly incredible! But of course, we both know that isn't where your true strength lies…"
"You speak as if you know me," Kisuke responded curiously. "Do forgive me, but I certainly think I would've remembered meeting a man such as yourself in the past. I don't think we've ever crossed paths before tonight."
"You are correct, of course. You might not know me, but I certainly know quite a bit about you, Mean Freund. Your involvement in this fateful night was predicted nearly half a century ago by our exalted Emperor. In his infinite wisdom, he advised us on which course of action to take to ensure that your presence would not hinder our progress."
"Oh? Is that right?"
A mechanical creak resonated through the air, and Integra watched as a door-sized panel on the side of the zeppelin slowly opened. A single figure, silhouetted by the lights shining from within the airship, stepped into the opening. The individual took a step into the open air, allowing themselves to be pulled towards the ground. Impacting the earth with a violent crash, the figure remained firmly upright even as the street cratered beneath their feet and the derelict structures surrounding them finally crumbled away into nothing. As the dust slowly cleared, and the man was finally revealed in his entirety, Integra felt a deep pit of dread form in her stomach as she took in the sight of Millennium's Captain.
If the Captain was here, then that could only mean…
Walter had perished.
Her grip on her pistol tightened, and she bit her lip to keep from screaming in rage. First the Wild Geese and her mansion, then Sir Penwood, and now the man who had rather easily become like a second father to her…
How much else was she to lose tonight?
A sudden 'clack' broke her from her thoughts, and Integra directed her attention towards Kisuke just as the blond man stepped forward to the very edge of the roof. His gaze was trained firmly on the Captain, who was still standing silently at the end of the street. His posture had changed completely — whereas he had been calm and fairly relaxed before, his entire body now seemed to be coiled on a hairspring trigger.
"What is it?" Integra asked quietly. "You sense something, don't you?"
"That man…" Kisuke muttered, still staring at the Captain. "His Spiritual Energy isn't anything like any of the other Nazis we've encountered. I don't want to jump to any conclusions… but I'd dare say he's strong enough to take on a Shinigami Captain without much trouble."
That was certainly worrisome. Based on what she'd been told by Ichigo, Shinigami Captains were the most powerful individuals residing in the Soul Society. If Millennium had truly been able to produce a soldier capable of matching that power, there really was no way of telling what else they were capable of. "Can you defeat him?"
"Almost certainly. And I think he knows that. But like their Major said, their goal isn't necessarily to beat me… all they need to do is keep me occupied long enough so they can keep running around causing even more chaos." The air pressure on the rooftop sharply increased, and a visible aura of yellow energy engulfed Kisuke's body. His left hand was raised, with an open palm facing outward in the Captain's direction. "Bakudō Number Four: Hainawa!"
The energy surrounding Kisuke morphed into a tendril-like form, and leapt from his outstretched hand as if fired from a cannon. Traveling down the street at a seemingly impossible speed, the tendril quickly reached the Captain and coiled tightly around his body, immobilizing him. The red-eyed man's expression remained impassive, but a slightly irritated glint shined in his eyes.
Integra watched as a light blue sheen of energy engulfed the Captain's body, which expanded outward and promptly shattered his bindings.
"That's not a pleasant sight," Kisuke mused, lowering his arm. "He was able to destroy my Kidō spell simply by increasing his Reiatsu. Miss Hellsing, I think it would be best if you and the others left me to take care of this on my own."
"Like hell!" Edith shouted, stamping a foot. "I'm not about to run away like a fucking coward!"
"This isn't about cowardice, Miss Blackwater. This is about common sense. No matter how great your skills with a firearm are, you cannot possibly hope to survive against an opponent likely capable of toppling mountains. Not even silver bullets will do you much good here, I'm afraid. Besides, would it not be in your best interests to get our two young friends out of harm's way?"
"He's right," Balalaika interjected, cutting her subordinate off. "It will do us no good to stick around and die here just for the sake of our pride. Especially when our skills can be utilized elsewhere on the battlefield."
Holstering her pistol, Integra turned and placed her hands on Ninny and Noelle's shoulders. Guiding the two young women in the opposite direction of the zeppelin, she paused momentarily to throw a fleeting glance over her shoulder. "Come and find us once you finish up here, won't you?"
Eyes still locked on the Captain, Kisuke nodded. "Of course. Take care, Miss Hellsing."
Satisfied, Integra returned her attention to the girls and continued to usher them along, with Balalaika and Edith tailing her on either side. The rooftop was no longer a safe vantage point, and it would likely be wise to find refuge elsewhere. Sparing one final glance in Kisuke's direction, she watched as he leaned forward and abruptly disappeared from view.
A burst of energy radiated from down the street, followed by the metallic 'clang' of steel.
Another battle had begun.
"Should we pursue them, Battalion Commander?"
Positioned comfortably in his large, cushy chair in the very center of the Deus Ex Machina's observation room, the Major chuckled and shook his head. The entire wall in front of him was lined with enormous monitors, with each tracking the progress of the various conflicts playing out across the city. Turning his attention to one screen in particular, the amber-eyed man pulled his lips back into a satisfied smile. "Nein, Herr Doktor. There is no need. The Hellsing woman will come back to us eventually, so what reason is there to focus our attention on relentlessly hunting her down? I don't know about you, but I find this most recent development far more captivating."
"Do you really think the Captain will be able to stand his ground against Urahara?"
"For a while. However, keep in mind our true objective, my friend. Urahara is not our main target, nor is Integra Hellsing. Not even Ichigo Kurosaki is the full driving force behind our actions. No… we are only here for one monster, and he has yet to arrive. Quite rude, wouldn't you say?"
"Incredibly so, Herr Major," the Doktor agreed.
Looking towards another screen, the Major watched as Kisuke Urahara traded another earth-shaking blow with the Captain. Both combatants ducked and weaved around one another, occasionally exploiting gaps when one of them momentarily exposed themselves. Urahara wielded his Zanpakutō, while the Captain utilized a simple blade of glowing Reishi. Chuckling mirthfully, the Major leaned back into his chair to enjoy the spectacle. The Captain, for all his physical strength, possessed an even greater trump card that no other individual within Millennium could claim as their own. That secret would be the key to prolonging his battle with the former Captain of Soul Society's Twelfth Division for as long as possible.
Fifty years ago, at the end of the second World War, when the late führer had been defeated by the Allied Forces, Millennium had been in a state of utter decay. With Nazi Germany at an end, and what remained of their forces being eradicated by the Allies, they had been in a very desperate situation. That was when he had arrived. His Majesty had found them and helped them to their feet in their hour of need, with promises of revenge against Alucard and a final conflict that would ensure they would be remembered throughout all of history.
All he asked in return was their loyalty.
The terms were agreeable, despite the obvious manipulation. And so had been born a truly magnificent partnership…
Of course, being who he was, His Majesty had taken certain steps to ensure that the battle of London would play out just as he wished it to. One of those steps included personally teaching and shaping the Captain into a fighting machine capable of combating fully-realized Shinigami. The Captain, along with the Major himself, was one of the only two members of the Millennium Organization who had been graced with the privilege of visiting Silbern. There, the power of his Schrift had been increased and focused by the very hands of His Majesty himself.
Such an honor it must have been!
Out of all of the commanding officers operating within Millennium, only the Captain possessed all of the true strength of a proper Sternritter. Along with the typical set of Quincy abilities, he was also capable of achieving Vollständig. However, His Majesty had made it quite clear that he would be the only imperfect Quincy capable of doing so.
The Major knew for a fact that His Majesty did not fully trust Millennium enough to give each and every member the ability of Vollständig, but that was honestly to be expected. The way they operated was in direct contrast with one of the Emperor's firmest personal beliefs, but he had still given them free reign to do whatever they wished so long as they fulfilled their end of the bargain. In any case, the Captain was a loyal dog to a fault — there was no reason for anyone to be worried about him running around and using his powers for purposes other than achieving their main goal.
A sudden flare of Reiatsu broke him from his thoughts, and the Major returned his full attention to the screen displaying the battle occurring below the airship. Urahara fazed out of existence and reappeared on top of a destroyed shop further down the street, just as the Captain's sword carved through the space he'd previously occupied. Quick to react, the Captain flared his own Spiritual Power to blast after the blond.
Hopefully, the main event would begin before too long.
It seemed things would not be as easy as he'd hoped.
The Nazi Captain — he could assume the man's rank due to the clothing he wore — was far stronger than Kisuke had anticipated. Thankfully, however, his physical prowess was nowhere near the level Kenpachi Zaraki. Kisuke had no doubts he would be able to defeat the man when the right opportunity presented itself, but there was no telling when that would be. The best he could do for the time being would be to continue gauging the Captain's fighting style.
Easier said than done, considering the red-eyed didn't seem too keen on giving him much breathing room for a proper analysis. Whenever he would utilize Shunpo to gain some distance, the Captain would quickly follow using Hirenkyaku. The constant cat and mouse chase was obviously preplanned — the attention demanded by combat prevented Kisuke from devoting the proper time to reciting Kidō incantations, which was arguably his personal specialty. However, there was a very glaring downside to the use of instantaneous movement techniques… whoever was chasing you had to actually see where you were going before following you. That moment of observation, brief as it was, was exploitable to those who could react quickly enough to do so.
Ducking underneath a horizontal swipe, Kisuke activated Shunpo to travel several dozen city blocks in only half a second. Reappearing amidst the rubble of a demolished building, he immediately thrusted his hands forward. "Hadō Number 57: Daichi Tenyō!"
Instead of aiming the Kidō spell at the Captain's current position, he did so at the empty air directly in front of himself. His gamble proved successful, as the Captain quickly filled the space in a burst of Hirenkyaku. The Nazi's eyes widened by only a fraction, but he was still clearly caught by surprise as several large pieces of debris rose from the ground and slammed into his body.
With his opponent momentarily disoriented, Kisuke generated an orb of crackling yellow energy in his left hand and aimed it at the Captain. "Sprinkled on the bones of the beast! sharp tower, red crystal, steel ring. Move and become the wind, stop and become the calm. The sound of warring spears fills the empty castle! Hadō Number 63: Raikōhō!"
The roaring of thunder shook the ground beneath their feet as a massive concentration of lighting-like energy leapt forward from Kisuke's outstretched hand. Racing across the cracked pavement for several meters, the attack struck the Captain in the stomach just below his ribcage. The man did not cry out in pain, but his eyes bulged in their sockets as he was engulfed in an explosion of energy that sent shockwaves rolling down the streets in every direction. All pieces of rubble in the direct vicinity were instantly vaporized, and the ground cratered under the sheer force of the detonation. A billowing cloud of dust ascended into the air, obscuring the Nazi from view.
Shihakushō billowing in the wind, Kisuke leapt back two dozen meters. The Kidō had been fairly powerful one, but he wasn't about to take any chances in assuming the Captain had been completely dealt with in one fell swoop. He'd seen much weaker combatants pull through far more powerful attacks in the past…
A sudden, aggressive burst of Reiryoku confirmed his suspicions, followed by a barrage of glowing spirit arrows which shot out from the dust cloud. Ducking and weaving through the oncoming projectiles was fairly easy — years spent in the company of Yoruichi had ensured that his speed could rival some lower members of the Onmitsukidō. The volley of arrowspromptly ended, and the Captain himself emerged from the continually rising column of dust and debris. His Nazi uniform was, by all conventional means, completely destroyed. His overcoat had been completely vaporized, and his lower region was barely covered by what remained of his pants.
"Well, you're certainly a tough one," Kisuke mused, smiling sardonically. "I don't suppose you could find it in yourself to be a good sport and just give up?"
The Captain slowly shook his head.
"I thought not…"
Dropping into a ready stance, Kisuke raised his Zanpakutō. Flooding the weapon with his Reiatsu, he slashed Benihime through the air five times in quick succession. Crescents of crimson energy discharged from the blade, racing across the broken earth towards the Captain. The white-haired man tanked the first to projectiles, but seemed to think better of it a moment later. The final three crescents were dodged, and Kisuke tensed as his opponent conjured a glowing bow of Spiritual Energy out of thin air.
Oddly enough, however, the Captain dismissed the Heilig Pfeil almost immediately.
That certainly wasn't foreboding at all…
"This has certainly been a very interesting bout. Don't tell me you're getting tired already?" Kisuke quipped, all while analyzing the red-eyed Nazi's movements. The Captain's fighting style was actually quite basic, but with the full range of his abilities unknown, it would be foolish to make too many assumptions. His advanced senses alerted him to a sudden change in the surrounding air pressure, immediately putting him on guard. "It's been quite some time since I've fought someone who has been able to truly keep me on my toes. You've got quite the knack for enduring some serious physical punishment, don't you my friend?"
It was incredibly brief, but the Captain's expression quickly flashed into the smallest of smirks.
Then, without any prior warnings whatsoever, the man's Reiryoku nearly tripled. Shielding his face and taking a cautious step back, Kisuke grimaced as his opponent's Spiritual Power continued to climb higher and higher, and then even higher still. A bright flash of azure light washed over the area, followed by a loud 'hiss' as the Captain's Reiatsu alone began to erode away at the ground beneath his feet. Finally, the Nazi's increase in power seemed to reach a zenith, and a pair of glowing wings sprouted out from his back.
The sheer amount of Spiritual Pressure in the air was almost suffocating. If he had to venture a guess, Kisuke would assume that the Captain's newfound increase in strength had finally placed them on equal footing.
Raising his left hand, the blond generated a small, crackling orb of Reishi in his palm. "Bakudō Number Thirty: Shitotsu Sansen!" Kisuke moved his hand through the air to draw an inverted triangle, which in turn spawned a trio of smaller triangles from the original's three points. The smaller triangles shot forward towards the Captain at incredibly high speeds, smashing into his body and cutting deep into the muscle tissue. Their momentum carried the man backwards and into the nearest solid object, which just so happened to be a section of crumbling wall. Unfortunately, a sharp flare of his Reiatsu allowed the Captain to easily shatter the constructs of the Kidō spell.
Stepping away from the wall, the Captain paused briefly to look down and consider the triad of gaping wounds in his torso. Narrowing his eyes, the Nazi seemed to focus intensely on them for a moment. To Kisuke's mild surprise, the Captain's flesh slowly reconstructed itself until there was nary a sign of his former injuries to be seen.
"Well that's certainly handy…"
Raising Benihime once more, Kisuke concentrated his Reiryoku into his legs and blasted forward in a flash of Shunpo. Likewise, the Captain utilized Hirenkyaku to charge forward as well while summoning yet another Reishi sword. As the two blades met, a deafening sound akin to a crash of thunder reverberated out front the point of impact. Planting his feet and tensing his muscles, Kisuke pushed forward with everything he had. Unfortunately, as he'd predicted, the Captain's new boost in power allowed the white-haired man to press back against him with an equal amount of force, effectively locking them in a physical stalemate. "You're really trying to kill me, aren't you? Do you think you even can?"
The Captain did not offer a verbal reply, but the look in his eyes was answer enough.
"Hmm. We'll see… but you'll have to work for it!"
Ichigo panted raggedly.
A thick layer of sweat and grime caked his entire form, causing what remained of his tattered Shihakusho to stick uncomfortably to his skin. Likewise, strands of orange hair stuck to his forehead, and a myriad of dark bruises decorated his body. Luckily for him, his Hierro had prevented him from taking too many grievous injuries during the course of his ongoing battle with Bambietta, but the sheer force behind each of the brunette's strikes was still enough to leave behind ugly discolorations wherever her attacks hit home.
Perched as he was on the very top of the London Eye, Ichigo was able to keep a careful eye on the aforementioned Quincy as he fought to catch his breath. She herself was standing atop Big Ben on the opposite side of the River Thames, and was in no better condition than he — her hair was frazzled, sticking up randomly, and her formerly pristine uniform now supported several long tears in various places.
Like him, she also gulped down greedy lungfuls of oxygen, all while keeping her gaze locked on his own. Their battle had stretched over the better part of an hour and a half, and although that wouldn't have normally been an issue, Bambietta was strong. Incredibly so, in fact. Although she wasn't quite on the level of Kenpachi, Ukitake, or Kyōraku, she was still strong enough to give those such as Byakuya and Ulquiorra a genuine run for their money.
Rising into a fully upright stance, Ichigo grimaced. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to do it, but he needed to end the fight as soon as possible. Drawing upon the reservoir of power within himself, Ichigo flared his Demonic Power and forced it to climb as high as it could go. It didn't take long for Bambietta to answer in kind by raising her own Reiryoku to match him. The river between them began to boil and his under the growing pressure in the air, and both the London Eye and Big Ben slowly began to disintegrate and erode away, as did the rest of the structures in the direct vicinity.
With an almighty shout, Ichigo shot forward through the air with Zangetsu in hand, cloaked in a dark crimson aura of pure Demonic Energy. Directly across from him, Bambietta raced to meet him, wreathed in her own aura of shimmering blue. Her own Reishi sword was raised, and collided with his Zanpakutōwith enough sheer force to blow away the water beneath them, briefly exposing the very bottom of the Thames.
Rolling to the left, Ichigo scraped Zangetsu along Bambietta's sword in a shower of sparks. Pulling his Zanpakutōaway, he swung the oversized blade forward again towards his opponent's midsection. The action was boosted by Sonido, yet Bambietta still reacted just in time to block the attack. The resulting collision generated yet another burst of pressurized air, followed by an ear-rupturing boom. Despite the ringing in his ears, Ichgio still pushed forward with an additional slash towards the Quincy's throat.
Unfortunately, Bambietta disappeared in a sudden burst of Hirenkyaku, which momentarily threw him off balance. Evidently, that brief moment was all the time she needed to reappear and slam the top of her foot into the right side of his ribcage, effectively driving all of the air from his lungs and propelling him backwards across the sky. The kick was instantly followed by a punch, which painfully connected with his right cheek. Of course, his Hierro prevented his jaw from being blown clean off, but Ichigo still felt the full force behind the attack.
Fighting through the pain, the former Substitute repositioned himself behind his opponent using Sonido, and immediately pumped a sizable amount of his Demonic Power into Zangetsu's blade. Without even bothering to call out the name of the attack, he slashed his weapon through the air and discharged a large Getsuga Tenshō, which seemed to illuminate the entire city of London in a bright red glow. The crimson and black crescent of power raced through the air towards Bambietta, cutting through the clouds above while simultaneously burning a wide trench through the ground below.
He hadn't really expected the attack to hit its mark, but Ichigo still scowled in annoyance as he watched his Quincy opponent throw herself out of harm's way at the last possible moment. He prepared to change forward for another exchange of swordplay, but that idea was quickly dismissed when Bambietta began hurling a volley of orange spheres in his direction. Not particularly keen on being blown up again, Ichigo ducked and weaved through the incoming projectiles to the best of his ability. However, to his irritation, the glowing orbs just seemed to increase in numbers. Eventually, his view of Bambietta was completely obscured by a virtual wall of Reishi bombs.
And then, out of nowhere, she appeared again directly above him.
Crossing his arms over his head, Ichigo winced as the heel of his opponent's boot slammed down on his forearms. Propelled downward, he crashed down in the middle of a ruined shopping center. However, before he could truly regain his bearings, Bambietta appeared once more, raising her sword overhead before bringing it down in an apparent attempt to bifurcate him down the middle. Raising his own Zanpakutō, Ichigo successfully blocked the attack. Even so, the physical power behind the strike drove them both downward and into the Earth itself. The Reiatsu Bambietta exerted, along with his own Demonic Power, eroded away the concrete and cement, allowing them to travel further downward and into the rock and soil below.
Flaring his power, Ichigo focused a portion of the energy within him into his left hand, and concentrated it into a red and black orb. Sending the aforementioned orb forward, he successfully caught Bambietta off guard and blew her backwards, finally allowing himself some room to breathe. Turning around so that he was facing forward, he changed direction and shot through the rock back towards the surface. Breaking through the dirt and rock and back into the night air, he continued upward until he was far above the city and in the cover of the clouds.
His entire body ached, but the moisture trapped within the clouds somewhat eased the pain.
Though he was loath to admit it, it seemed there was only one surefire course of action he could take that would ensure Bambietta's defeat. He hadn't expected that he'd be forced to use his Bankai, but Shikaireally didn't seem to be doing the trick. He'd been hacking and slashing with Zangetsu for nearly two hours, but that didn't seem to be getting him anywhere. Thrusting his Zanpakutōforward, Ichigo placed his left hand on his right wrist and flooded the blade with his Demonic Power. Closing his eyes, he silently focused on the point between rage and serenity that would allow him to ascend beyond his current limits…
Ichigo waited for the surge of power that was to come, but he felt nothing…
His eyes shot open, and he stared in bewilderment at his Zanpakutō. He knew he was going about the process correctly, but the metaphorical path that had always bridged his Shikaiand Bankaiwas… it was just gone…
"What the hell…?"
An explosion, followed by a rush of heat, ripped him from his confusion and forced him to turn back towards the ground. A small cluster of buildings exploded outward, sending chunks of concrete and other debris sailing through the air in all directions. An enormous crater — which spanned several city blocks — was all that was left behind, and standing in the center of that crater was Bambietta Basterbine. It would have been quite the understatement to say that she looked pissed, and Ichigo supposed it had something to do with the fact that barely anything remained of her Quincy uniform. Only a few scraps of cloth, barely held together by several threads, covered her more private areas.
"You… you… you son of a bitch!"
Ichigo recoiled, honestly surprised by the rage carried in her tone.
Down below, Bambietta happily continued her tirade. "Do you think this is funny?! Do you think you can just get away with this?!"
"I don't know what-"
"Shut up! I wasn't going to do this before, but you deserve it now!"
With a furious shout, Bambietta was engulfed in an explosion of bright blue energy, which formed into a column that shot up and pierced the clouds above her. Ichigo shielded himself with his forearms against the bright light that illuminated from her form, while still doing his best to see what was going on. The only part of his opponent that was visible was her silhouette, but he could still feel her Reiryoku climb higher and higher beyond anything she had demonstrated previously. It doubled, tripled, and then quadrupled before finally reaching a crescendo. Even with his own power shielding him from feeling the full force of her Reiatsu, Ichigo still felt a nauseous sensation settle in his gut.
As the light surrounding his opponent slowly began to die down, a pair of blue wings comprised of pure energy sprouted outward from the center of her back. And then she spoke a word. It passed softly over her lips, but Ichigo still heard it clearly despite the significant distance between them…
And then she was in front of him.
He hadn't even seen her move.
He hadn't even sensed her move.
A feeling of shock, unlike anything he'd experienced since his first confrontation with Ulquiorra, overwhelmed every one of his senses. As such, he was completely unprepared for the jarring impact that collided with his stomach. A shockwave tore through his body, lighting each of his nerve endings on fire. Eyes going wide and mouth opening in a silent cry of agony, he fell onto Bambietta's outstretched arm for support. Looking down, he registered that her right fist was firmly lodged against his abdominals.
"Do you understand now?" she said plainly. "Do you see how futile it is to oppose the will of His Majesty? Even you, with all of your strength, cannot even defeat me by yourself. And I'm not even the strongest soldier His Majesty has at his disposal." Ripping her arm out of his grasp, Bambietta grabbed Ichigo by the throat and pulled him close enough that their noses brushed together. "No one will stop me from obtaining my wish. Not even you, the infamous Ichigo Kurosaki…"
With that, she released him.
Ichigo fell through the air and towards the ground, staring blankly up at the sky.
His body jerked as he collided with the broken street, which cratered inward underneath the impact. A feeling of weightlessness settled over him, followed by an ice-cold sensation of utter hopelessness. How could he possibly hope to defeat Bambietta as she was now without his Bankai. There was just no way that he could. It was simply beyond the realm of possibility. He had overcome overwhelming odds in the past, but he had always been able to fall back on his Bankaiwhenever things seemed bleak. It was his trump card, and without it…
His eyes widened, but still remained firmly locked upon the night sky. "Old Man…?"
'Do not despair, Ichigo. Giving up is what kills people, and I have never thought of you as the sort to simply give up in the face of adversity. You have conquered much worse than this.'
'He's right, King.'
'Who else? Now get the fuck up! Why the hell are you sitting around in the dirt when you can be up there kicking that bitch's ass?'
"I can't beat her… not without Bankai."
"That is untrue. Although the power of the Bankai has indeed become lost to you, it has been replaced with something just as equally formidable.'
"It has? What is it?"
'Oh, come on King. You already know what it is…'
With their advice given, the two spirits fell silent.
Brow furrowing in confusion, Ichigo wracked his brain for the power they had mentioned. After a moment's thought, realization finally dawned on him. Gritting his teeth, he slowly sat up and pushed himself to his feet. The pain coursing through his body was still immense, but he wasn't about to let it stop him from finishing the job. His eyes drifted to the ground next to him, where Zangetsu had slid from his grasp. As he leaned over to pick up the blade, and loud 'crash' from behind caught his attention.
Turning around, he blinked in surprise upon seeing the bruised and bloody form of Zorin Blitz. His Rook looked as if she had taken a much harsher beating than he — large patches of her skin had been charred black, and there were spots all over her head where her hair had been burned away. Taking an unsteady step towards her, Ichigo knelt down and placed a hand on her left shoulder. She was alive, albeit barely, and her wounds were already beginning to heal at a slow and steady rate.
His gaze turned skyward, and he frowned upon catching sight of the one responsible for Zorin's condition. Candice Catnipp, on the other hand, looked to be immensely pleased with her handiwork. Like Bambietta, she supported a glowing pair of wings — Ichigo supposed it was safe to assume that she also possessed the same accompanying power boost.
Conjuring a small orb of Demonic Power, he tossed it towards Zorin unconscious body, where it expanded and surrounded her to form a thin barrier of energy. It would protect her from what he was about to do until she was fully healed and awake. With that done, Ichigo hefted Zangetsu and rose into the air once again.
Higher and higher, he rose above the buildings and into the clouds, until he was finally directly across from both Candice and Bambietta. The two Quincies looked fairly confident, and he couldn't necessarily fault them for that. After all, what chance did a single Reincarnated Devil without his Bankaihave against two highly trained soldiers capable of matching and surpassing Shinigami Captains? To be honest, he wasn't quite sure of the answer himself, but he was willing to find out…
Closing his eyes, Ichigo once more called upon the massive well of Demonic Power coursing through his soul. It answered his call, roaring in glee as he accessed the cursed power of the Eternal Pit. Going through the motions of activating his Bankai, he raised Zangetsu and pointed the tip of the massive blade towards his opponents. Channeling his power into his Zanpakutō, heopened his eyes and allowed the white of his sclera to bleed away into a midnight black.
Once again, I am sorry for the wait.
School came back along several months ago, and although I have worked on my stories whenever I had the chance, projects and studying for tests occupied the majority of my time. I am currently on winter break now, but despite that I am also going through a rather rough period. I won't go into any specific details, but a certain family matter came up yesterday that really turned my entire world upside down, and I am very shaken up. To be completely truthful, I probably will be for the rest of my life. No one has died, but as I've said, everything I have known until this point has been uprooted.
Being an adult has certainly helped, but I am still very upset. Some of you will probably guess what has happened, but I will not be confirming or denying anything in my Author's Notes. Thank you for being understanding.
Now then, let's talk about the chapter. I apologize if it is a bit rough in places.
Candice activated her Vollständig against Zorin, Kisuke and the Captain have entered their own battle, and Ichigo has discovered a new power within himself whilst fighting Bambietta. As I hinted at in the opening notes, the Captain is indeed the "Hellsing" character that I have made stronger than in canon. Some of you may disagree, but I think I have given a fairly believable reason for why this has occurred. Being trained by Yhwach himself to master his Quincy abilities would have undoubtedly boosted the Captain's strength, and I think it making him comparable to Urahara isn't going too far.
Of course, the Captain IS NOT as powerful as Candice or Bambietta, given that they are true Sternritter and he is not. That being said, I will go ahead and confirm that the Captain's Vollständig makes him as strong as Kisuke while the latter is using Shikai. If Kisuke decided to use his Bankai, the Captain would stand absolutely no chance. However, I don't think I'm going to make that happen this early.
Originally, I was going to reveal Yuuko's fate in this chapter, but I thought it would be better to keep you all on your toes just a bit longer. Additionally, Alucard's grand entrance will be happening fairly soon, so you won't have to keep waiting for that.
On another note, it was recently brought to my attention that this website is very… sensitive when it comes to certain types of adult content. Several chapters ago, I promised the inclusion of several lemon stories once this one reach 1k followers, but I honestly don't want to run the risk of everything being taken down. If I could be assured that nothing bad would happen if I wrote lemons, then I would be more than happy to. I know there are lemon stories on this site that have been up for quite some time, but I also know that there are random purges very now and then that will take down stories that authors have dedicated years of their lives to. Rest assured, there will be adult content in this story at a later date, but I don't think it will evolve into full sex scenes.
That said, would any of you be interested in reading my lemon stories on ArchiveOfOurOwn? Publishing my lemons there was suggested by a reader, and it honestly doesn't sound like a bad idea. However, I will only put forth the effort if enough people express their interest, so leave your opinions in the reviews.
As always, thank you for supporting my work. I wouldn't be anywhere without dedicated readers like you all.