Hey friends and fans, Kairomaru is bringing you another Force of Souls Chapter! The Hollow Bait has been released! Karakura is about to be swarmed by more Hollows than ever before! That'll surely set off some sensors in the Soul Society! What will be the results and consequences of Uryū's actions?
If you'd like to become a patron and get access to these chapters earlier, just head on over to Pat re on and add a /Kairomaru after the com.
Make sure to thank the patrons that make these stories possible by checking out the Patron Plaque on my profile!
Chapters 16, 17, 18, and 19 are Already Available for Patrons!
So, without further delay, please enjoy.
Chapter 15 – Crossing the Rubicon
Action and inaction,
Both have results,
The consequences of each will leave their mark.
Ichigo tackled Uryū to the ground with a snarl. He grabbed the front of the other teen's shirt and glared into the bespectacled eyes of the Quincy. "Call it back! Get rid of that bait!"
"Be sensible." Uryū looked Ichigo dead in the eye. "The bait is spreading on the wind. I can't recall it." He shoved the orange-haired Shinigami off of him and stood up. "The die is cast. Soon, Hollows will flock to this town, lured by the bait." Uryū shoved past Ichigo and glanced at both Orihime and Tatsuki. "Instead of fighting with me…you should be running. It won't be easy to defend an entire town from the Hollow hordes"
"You son of a…" Tatsuki was about to curse him out.
"A word of warning," Uryū stated as he looked up into the sky, knowing that Hollows would soon be appearing. "Hollows will attack anyone with high Reiryoku."
Ichigo's eyes widened as he thought about Karin. His little sister was easily as spiritually aware as he was. She'd be a prime target for any Hollow!
"I told you what would happen if your powers became a problem." A new voice spoke up. Every single one of the teens was shocked as they just now noticed the man suddenly standing behind Uryū. He was middle-aged and stood at an average height with fair skin and white hair. He wore thin, frameless glasses over his eyes and a plain grey suit with a light blue shirt and a tie. He had blue eyes that were currently narrowed in a stern glare.
"Father…" Uryū barely got the word out before his father's hand blurred and struck his neck. The boy dropped, only to be caught by the scruff of his shirt by the man.
"I apologize," The man gave a slight bow to the three teens. "This will never happen again; you have my word." Then, in a blur, he seemingly vanished along with Uryū. Ichigo, Tatsuki, and Orihime just blinked as none of them had seen the man arrive or leave. They hadn't even been able to sense him!
"What the hell was that?" Tatsuki questioned of the odd series of events.
"Ishida's father?" Orihime recalled what the Quincy had called the man.
"RAAARRRGGGHHH!" The loud howling roar of a Hollow reverberated across the area while the very air was seemingly split as a dark void opened up. A Hollow emerged into the Living World with a dinosaur-like mask and an equally large body.
"Shit!" Ichigo reached for his Gikon at the same time as Orihime and Tatsuki.
A pulse seemed to pass throughout Karakura Town as dozens of the small black voids tore holes in the sky. The three teens emerged from their bodies in Shinigami Form as they saw the number of Hollows that had already been drawn in by the bait that Uryū had broken. What they didn't realize was that the pulse they'd just felt was also felt by others, both in and out of Karakura Town.
"What in the world?" Rukia blinked as she felt the pulse. She stood up quickly just as her Soul Pager started to blare. She flipped the device open and stared in shocked horror at seeing over a dozen orders coming in all at once.
"That's not good." Urahara looked out from beneath the brim of his hat. Tessai had also turned to face the front of the shop with a stern look.
"Ichigo!" Rukia had popped a Gikon in a flash and left her Gigai behind as she rocketed out of the store and towards where she'd felt Ichigo release his Reiatsu.
"What should we do?" Tessai questioned Urahara a moment later.
"Prepare to move out, they may need some assistance." Urahara stood up as he walked forward and looked up at the sky when he got to the doorway. "I doubt he'll let this opportunity slip by without acting."
-Kanagawa Prefecture ~ Yokohama-
"The hell was that?" A male Shinigami looked to his left as he briefly felt a strange pulse through his senses. He'd never felt anything like that before in all his time patrolling the Living World.
-Saitama Prefecture ~ Omiya-
"Huh?" A female Shinigami blinked as she felt something brush against her awareness. She looked in the direction of the pulse confused. It had come from somewhere within the Tokyo area. "What's going on?"
-Seireitei ~ Squad Twelve-
Alarms blared as more and more Hollow incursions were detected in District 3600, the current Jūreichi. Squad members were rushing about, checking sensors and trying to figure out what was going on. All attention was being put on Karakura Town and several of the Shinigami noted the detection of four distinct Shinigami Reiatsu signatures on the readings.
"How are so many Hollows gathering?!"
"Why are they gathering is the better question!"
"We have four confirmed Shinigami in the District!"
"Shouldn't only one be stationed there though?"
"What the hell is going on!" A man in a white haori with black diamond-shaped markings near the bottom hem demanded. On the back of the white haori he wore was the kanji for the number twelve surrounded by a rhombus with black corners. The man had a skeletal look to him with his face painted to resemble a skull-like visage. His eyes were golden and if one could see his hair, it would be blue. Both his ears were seemingly replaced with stubbed golden cones. His fingernails were all painted blue and, with the exception of the fingernail on his right middle finger, were all cut short. The single long fingernail matched the length of the finger itself. He also wore a white hat with two ends that pointed to his right and a large purple scarf around his neck.
"Captain Kurotsuchi!" Everyone greeted the newly arrived man even in the midst of the emergency.
"I asked a question." Kurotsuchi Mayuri gazed over his subordinates.
"We're not sure yet sir, there's been a sudden mass incursion of Hollows in District 3600!" One of the Shinigami manning the sensors replied.
"3600?" Mayuri narrowed his eyes for a moment. "The Jūreichi?"
"Yes, sir!" The man nodded back.
"There's also four distinct Shinigami Reiatsu signatures, sir." Another person pointed at their screen showing four lights on in.
"I swear, I have to do everything myself." Mayuri scoffed as he approached the main hub of the sensor monitors. The man in the seat quickly vacated it so that his Captain could sit down. "If you want to find the cause of a change, look for any new variables that have been introduced, fools." He began typing on the console and the screen was quickly filling with data. "Nemu, one of those signatures should be the stationed Shinigami's, I want to know who the other three are immediately."
"Yes, Mayuri-sama." Kurotsuchi Nemu replied as she gently pushed the person currently sitting before the screen out of their seat. She was a slender, youthful, and well-endowed woman with green eyes. Her black hair was pulled back into a long braid, with slightly parted bangs. Her uniform consisted of a short black kimono, which stopped at mid-thigh, with a white nagajuban underneath. The sleeves of her kimono weren't as wide as those worn by most Shinigami, and the upper parts of the sleeves looked slightly puffed. She wore a traditional wide white obi, fastened with a red cord. On her left sleeve was her Lieutenant's armband embossed with the Twelfth Squad's number and symbolic flower. She finished off her outfit with white gloves, which only covered the back of her hands and wrists, and a dark red choker around her neck.
The rest of the monitors quickly got back to work to try and discover the cause of this anomaly so that appropriate action could be taken. If they needed to send in reinforcements, then they needed to know as soon as possible. There was no telling how bad the situation would get if the Jūreichi was overrun by Hollows.
"Hollows are converging?" A man silhouetted in shadow repeated what he'd just been told.
"Yes, we're not sure why." A second man replied, only part of his face illuminated by the scant light, revealing his silver hair.
"Hmm, sudden mass incursion…probably Hollow Bait. I had thought that the ones that knew how to make that were gone." The shadowed person let out an amused chuckle.
"Just going to leave it be?" The other man questioned.
"Why don't we make it more interesting?" The slightly amused grin spelt nothing but trouble. "Send a Gillian."
"I'll relay your orders." The man gave a slight bow before leaving.
"Damn it!" Ichigo scowled as he split another Hollow's mask and watched it begin to disintegrate. Two small blue souls leaving the body and being sent on their way by Konsō. "I need to find Karin!" He had no idea where his little sister was right now. All he knew was that after school she'd usually go play soccer with some friends of hers.
"There's so many!" Tatsuki dropped an axe kick on one Hollow's mask, shattering it, before drawing her wakizashi and slashing a thin, bony Hollow that had tried to sneak up on her. The narrow mask split and both Hollows began to breakdown as a few small souls were purified and Konsō-ed.
"Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws. Hadō #33: Sōkatsui!" Orihime chanted quickly and a torrent of blue flames was blasted from her palm. The widespread Hadō engulfed five different Hollows and reduced their bodies to ashes. She gave a slight smile as she watched at least a dozen little souls be Konsō-ed by her connection to her Zanpakutō. The small fell as she saw more and more Hollows appearing still.
"Clouds part and illumination falls on the earth. A ring of emerald, warring shadows, the sound of rage. A cage of fangs, the rain is nigh, fall upon all! Hadō #44: Gaki Rekkō!" Rukia blurred into existence between her girlfriends and boyfriend. Her Zanpakutō was drawn and the blade was glowing with a green light. A large circle of the same light formed from the tip of her sword before ten beams of light emerged from the center of the circle. The beams touched the edge of the Kidō circle before each bent at almost a ninety-degree angle and were launched at the numerous Hollows. Each of the beams fired three times before the spell ended.
Any Hollow that took one of the beams to its mask was instantly killed and purified. Others were injured badly and became sitting ducks for Tatsuki to blitz and finish off. That was a dozen Hollows of the horde dealt with from the single cast and another five that were finished off by Tatsuki.
"What's going on?" Rukia asked for information on the current situation.
"That Uryū guy broke something he called Hollow Bait and attracted all of these Hollows to Karakura!" Ichigo gave her the short version to explain their current mess.
"Hollow Bait?" Rukia had never heard of such a thing. Why would anyone want to lure a large number of Hollows to the Living World? That was insanity!
"Do we have any way to deal with this many all at once?" Tatsuki asked as she landed next to them.
"I'm not sure how many Kidō I can cast in a row." Orihime mentioned as the four Shinigami regrouped.
"We'll have to split up and cover as much of Karakura as possible." Rukia hated to say it. She didn't want any of them to fight alone with less than six months of training, but they couldn't deal with this if they all stayed in one place.
"I want to make sure that Karin is safe…she's spiritually aware more than anyone else I know." Ichigo was almost grinding his teeth. A charging Hollow's mask was nearly turned to dust as he hit it with a non-incantation Atsudama. He had enough control to pull off that Hadō at the very least.
"Splitting up with this many enemies is risky." Tatsuki blurred forward to slam her fist into a larger Hollow's pig-like mask. There was some cracking, but not enough to shatter it and kill the Hollow. A left hook empowered by her Reiryoku fixed that and the Hollow started to disintegrate a second later. She was back beside the others quickly.
"But if we don't, then a lot of people could get hurt." Orihime didn't want anyone to get attacked by the Hollows. No telling how many Plus souls still existed in Karakura either for the Hollows to target.
"I'll make a path through the Hollows here." Rukia nodded to the other three. "Dance, Sode no Shirayuki." She released her Zanpakutō while turning the sword until the tip pointed to the ground. The regular katana with the rectangular guard changed. It became pure white from the tip of the blade to the end of the pommel. A long white ribbon formed and trailed from the pommel of the Zanpakutō.
"Pretty…" Orihime mumbled as she saw Rukia's Shikai for the first time.
"Tsugi no mai," Rukia stabbed downward four times leaving ice behind on the ground. She took a stance as she aimed at the Hollows before her. The frozen ground began to emit ice particles from the stabbed spots. "Hakuren!" Rukia thrust her Zanpakutō forward and a massive wave of white frosted air rushed forth to engulf every Hollow standing before her. With the wave cleared it revealed all of the Hollows encased in ice. A second later and they all shattered into nothing, only the small souls floating away as they were Konsō-ed remained.
"Holy shit…" Tatsuki gaped at the power she'd just witnessed.
"We need to go." Rukia smiled at her girlfriends and boyfriend. "We have to keep the town from being overrun."
"Right," Ichigo agreed before pulling her into a quick kiss. He pulled back only to capture Tatsuki's lips next and then Orihime's right after. "Be safe."
"You too." Orihime smiled brightly at him.
"You better come back. I want a better kiss next time." Tatsuki smirked, even though Ichigo could see the worry behind her tough gaze.
"Be careful and be smart, think strategically." Rukia gave some final advice before blurring away in a Shunpo.
Ichigo was the next one to vanished as he tore through a couple of Hollows that hadn't been in the area of Rukia's attack. Orihime smiled at Tatsuki, but just as she was about to utilize her own Shunpo, Tatsuki gently took her arm.
"Tatsuki?" Orihime questioned only to be kissed by her girlfriend.
"Be safe, Hime-chan." Tatsuki smiled at the orangette.
"I will," Orihime couldn't help but giggle slightly. "Love you, Tatsuki."
"Love you too." Tatsuki vanished in a blur and a Hollow almost two blocks away suddenly had its masked shattered by a powerful kick.
"Hah…" Orihime inhaled deeply before exhaling slowly. With a determined look on her face, she vanished towards the only direction that hadn't been taken already.
"Hey! Kick the ball, Kurosaki!"
"I have to go home soon! Hurry up!"
Kurosaki Karin wasn't paying any attention to the boys that she was playing soccer with. She'd felt that weird pulse earlier and then everything started going weird to her sixth sense. The air felt off and it was like there was a growing pressure all over. She stared up at the sky as part of it seemed to warp and begin compressing in on itself.
"What is going on?" Karin muttered to herself.
-Mashiba Ward ~ Karakura-
"Get the hell outta my way!" Ichigo cleaved through another Hollow's mask with a Suikawari strike. He didn't have time for all these weaker Hollows! He just needed to find Karin and make sure she was safe.
Almost a dozen Hollows were already rushing at Ichigo, trying to overwhelm him with numbers. The Substitute Shinigami growled before holding his left palm out, facing the charging Hollows. "The ship sails west and the herd gallops north. Bend the sea, o' god of waves and wash away the mountain. Hadō #14: Mōretsu Kyūryū!" A deluge of water formed in front of Ichigo's hand before exploding outwards. The charging Hollows were knocked backwards from the burst of high-powered water. None of them had been killed, but they were all staggered and soaked. "Eldest tree, darkest maw, flash of light. A wizened crow soars above all. Hadō #11: Tsuzuri Raiden!" The electrical charge sparked along Ichigo's Zanpakutō before he tapped it into the pooling water in the empty street.
"Raaaaaahhhh!" The Hollows howled as the electricity traveled and reached them. After several seconds they couldn't take any more and began to disintegrate. Ichigo stopped his spell at that point. That was another dozen of the horde purified.
"Where are you, Karin?" Ichigo jumped up to a nearby rooftop to try and get a better vantage point.
-Sakurabashi Ward ~ Karakura-
"Come on!" Tatsuki challenged as she blurred into a Shunpo and reappeared kneeing a Hollow in the face. The bone white mask shattered in a shower of blood as the head was crushed. The Martial Artist turned Shinigami wasted no time as she vaulted over the disintegrating Hollow and dropped her heel on the next masked face she spotted, that was another down. Her wakizashi flashed out as a different Hollow's large hand tried to grab her.
"Graaaaaaggghhh!" The Hollow roared out as it lost some fingers. It was silenced when the blade of the Zanpakutō was stabbed through its mask.
"Shisho!" Tatsuki cast without an incantation. She simply didn't have time as the Hollow that had rushed her from her blind spot was too close. The almost transparent barrier appeared. The Hollow crashed head first into it and shattered the unstable Bakudō. Tatsuki executed a perfect roundhouse to shatter its mask and blurred into a Shunpo to slash the mask of another Hollow further away.
"Raaaarrrggghh!" Another Hollow howled out and Tatsuki glared at the weird beast. It was some kind of amalgamation of multiple features and she didn't have the patience to try and figure them all out.
"So damn many!" Tatsuki moved in and sliced the swiping hand. With a leap she slammed her fist into the Hollow's bone-like mask, fracturing it. Her Zanpakutō stabbing into the eye as deep as possible killed the fallen soul and it began to disintegrate.
-Karakura Honchou ~ Karakura-
"Hya!" Rukia passed a Hollow in a blur leaving behind a large, already frozen, wound on its side. The ice crept over the injured monster until it froze entirely and then shattered. She wasted no time and moved onto the next few Hollows she could already see. "Hadō #31: Shakkahō!" She held out her left hand and the red fireball formed quickly. She launched it at the nearest Hollow and succeeded in blasting off the arm it had raised to block.
"Graaaaagggghh!" The Hollow howled in pain and rage.
"Hadō #31: Shakkahō!" Rukia fired again and this tie the Hollow's head was obliterated.
"Raaaahhhh!" More Hollows were approaching and Rukia realized they were coming from all directions.
"Some no mai, Tsukishiro." Rukia swiped Sode no Shirayuki through the air and a large circular area of the ground froze over. The Shinigami woman blurred away just as the multiple Hollows tried to dogpile her. They landed within the frozen circle and only had a split-second to realize something was wrong. A tower of ice suddenly existed between a few office buildings. It wasn't there for long though as it shattered and dispersed into Reishi. All of the Hollows that had been within the circle had been purified.
"Nnnrrrraaaahhhhh!" Still more Hollows roared out and Rukia grimaced as she Shunpo-ed to a higher area to feel out the closest ones. How could this have happened in such a short time? What the hell had been unleashed to draw in such a large number of Hollows?
-Gakuenchou Ward Karakura-
"Bakudō #9: Hōrin!" Orihime cast another of the Bakudō to ensnare the sixth Hollow in a row. She was making great use of the fact that this particular Bakudō stuck to other versions of itself when they made contact, becoming stronger and making it possible to bind multiple enemies together. "Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws. Hadō #33: Sōkatsui!" She blasted the six restrained Hollows with the blue fire and wiped them out.
"What's this?" A sick and slightly disturbing voice questioned. Orihime's eyes widened as she blurred forward and something struck the area that she'd just been standing in. "You dodged it…that's no fun." The octopus-like Hollow giggled darkly. It had a flat mask and the rest of its body appeared to be a writhing mass of purple tentacles. "Come on, Shinigami, let's play!" The Hollow snickered. "I know! How about I make you kill all of the little humans in that school over there? Then I can eat their souls as they emerge! Nice and fresh!"
Orihime's eyes widened when she noticed that the school one of the tentacles was pointing at was Karakura High School, her school. Dozens of people would still be there for after school clubs!
"Oh~ That look on your face is so nice!" The Hollow giggled in the same dark and twisted manner as before. "But don't worry! I'll be sure to kill and eat you right after! You won't have to suffer over what you did for long!" The Hollow shifted and Orihime quickly figured out that it was to get a better shot at her. "Hold still this time and it'll all be over soon!"
"Bare walls, expand and divide. Ten shields holding formation. Bakudō #12: Hiroi Byōbu!" Orihime incanted and cast faster than she ever had before as her eyes hardened and a cold look appeared on her normally bubbly features. The shields unfolded rapidly just as multiple thuds rang out. Looking at what had been fired at her, the orangette was disgusted to see what looked like seed pods with a single on each of them. Her Bakudō had held up easily against the barrage though.
"What?!" The Hollow seemed surprised that Orihime had been able to counter so quickly. "I don't like to fight myself. I guess I should go get some toys first." The Hollow launched itself in the direction of the school with a cackle.
"Bakudō #4: Hainawa!" Orihime practically threw the crackling yellow Reiryoku at the fleeing Hollow.
"Aaah!" The octopus Hollow shrieked as the yellow Reiryoku wrapped around it and then solidified into a tight rope of glowing yellow Reishi. "What?!" The Hollow screeched as it crashed into the ground. The Bakudō was so tight that blood was flowing from the tentacles that had been cut into by the rope. The feeling of a blade stabbing straight into the 'forehead' of its mask maybe the Hollow's yellow eyes widen in fear.
"Stay away from my friends." Orihime's voice had none of its usual cheer. Only a cold a severe tone that promised death. She slashed her kodachi sideways and split the intelligent Hollow's mask in half.
"Aaaaahhhhhh!" The twisted Hollow cried out before disintegrating and releasing at least twenty small blue souls.
The gentle smile returned to Orihime's face as she watched the souls be passed on via Konsō. She hated being angry or hurtful…but that Hollow was horrible, talking about killing and playing with people like toys. Even she had her limits before she simply chose violence as her first resort. She smiled at her Zanpakutō and cleaned the blood off with the sharp swing that Rukia had taught them. She sheathed her kodachi and Shunpo-ed towards the next Hollow she could feel.
-Kasazaki Ward ~ Karakura-
"Let's go, Chad!" Gitano called out to the tall teen that had stopped walking to stare at the sky for some reason. "We're gonna miss the Early Bird Special prices if you don't hurry up! I'll make you pay the extra five-hundred Yen!"
Chad snapped his gaze onto his older friend and bandmate. "Wait…I don't have it."
"That's right, you don't! So, move it!" Gitano yelled back while pointing over his shoulder towards the shopping district where they'd get their early dinner. "I will make you pay!"
Chad glance up at the sky one more time, it looked weird, almost like the sky was crushed into itself. 'This looks bad…this feeling…I've felt it before.' He couldn't remember where though. Gitano flying kicked him in the back and knocked the larger teen face first onto the road.
"That does it!" Gitano pushed up the sleeve of his overshirt like he was about to punch Chad. "I subsist on almost nothing! I'm barely alive! I'm not one of you spoiled students that gets to eat just for being alive!" Left unsaid was the fact that he had been, just a bit over a year and change ago.
Chad stood up from the surprise kick without a mark on him.
"I live for my next meal!" Gitano grabbed the front of Chad's shirt. "What did I just say?!"
"You live for your next meal." Chad repeated.
"That's right!" Gitano let go of the taller teen and started walking again. "Don't get meat unless it's on sale! Make sure it's past the expiration date to get a bigger discount!" The young adult began rattling off 'advice' for living on a budget. Chad and their other bandmate, Harutoki, both shook their heads at him. "Repat after me! Thou shalt not pay full price at the supermarket!"
Chad heard a distinct crack just before what sounded like an explosion went off behind him. He widened his eyes and stumbled a step before turning to face the opposite direction.
"Whoa…that scared the hell outta me!" Harutoki had his hand on his chest.
"Was that an explosion?!" Gitano blinked at the dust cloud in the air.
Something hit the paved road and cracked it, only noticed by Chad as he was closest to the broken part of the road. The large teen narrowed his eyes as he noticed something in the fading dust. He couldn't see it directly though…like it was invisible…or transparent.
'What is this? This feeling…' Chad blinked as the dust finally settled. 'That one spot, shimmering like heat waves. I know something is there.' He narrowed his eyes at the large mass in the crater. 'I've felt this before…somewhere.'
"Chad, you okay?" Gitano questioned eve as other people further away called the police about the apparent explosion.
"Huh?" Chad saw the blurry thing move, like it was raising a fist! He shoved Harutoki and Gitano aside and ducked to his right to avoid the swing. The street sign nearby snapped in half and the top portion sailed away over a dozen meters to clatter on the road. "Gitano! Harutoki! Run!" Chad called out to his friends. He noticed the semi-transparent thing swipe at him and backed up a large step. 'It's after me!' Realizing that he was the target, Chad took off down a side street that was empty.
He felt more than heard the unseen thing following him as he ran. But that was more than enough for him. If this thing wanted to chase him, then he'd lead it somewhere without any other people. He knew of a vacant lot not too far away from here. With any luck it would be empty, and he could try and deal with whatever was chasing him there.
'This is giving me a powerful sense of déjà vu…' Chad thought again, like he'd done this before but couldn't remember it clearly. Almost like a dream.
It was too bad that the vacant lot wasn't so vacant right now.
Well shit! The horde has descended upon Karakura! How many Hollows can four Shinigami, three of which have less than six months of experience, take out?
Ryūken stepped in! Oh shit! Is he gonna make good on his threat? Uryū, you might've just pushed beyond your father's last nerve!
Squad Twelve's sensors and alarms are blaring and Mayuri is now looking into it. That may not bode well for Rukia.
Ichigo is slaughtering Hollows while looking for Karin. Tatsuki's taking out Hollows left and right. Rukia is wiping out multiple Hollows as fast as she can. Orihime killed Numb Chandelier and went 'death mode' while doing it! You don't upset the adorable airhead!
A certain someone *cough*Asshole*cough* has ordered a Gillian to be sent to Karakura!
Now Chad is trying to lead a Hollow away from others, but we all know where he's running.
How will this event pan out for everyone?
Keep reading to find out!
Until I get your reviews, later!