It had been three days since Orihime and Uryuu had woken up in the Squad Eight Captain’s quarters, three days since they had been outside. Every time they asked about continuing with their mission of finding and saving Rukia, Nanao said it was best to wait until the execution itself, that way all the Captains with the goal of preventing the Rukia’s death will be present and the group may have a chance. The pair didn’t understand how fighting a group of powerful Captains would work in their benefit but nonetheless they listened to her advice and stayed in the eighth division barracks.
Today was the day that they would actually go to the Sokyoku Hill and save Rukia, both Orihime and Uryuu were given information about the Captains so if they had to fight them they would be aware of their powers. Earlier that day, Captain Kyoraku had rushed off to a Captains Meeting that had been called by the Head Captain himself. It left them with Nanao, who was surprised to find that the execution had not been called off because of the Captain absences.
“It’s probably better for us if the Captains aren’t there.” Nanao said. The lieutenant had agreed to come and fight alongside them as she didn’t think the punishment for Rukia giving her powers to Ichigo was suitable or appropriate. “Let’s get going.” The trio walked out of the barracks without being seen, with Ise leading them they made their way to the base of the hill. Nanao appeared to be quite puzzled as she glanced around, no one was there. “This is strange…” She muttered to herself. Then suddenly she leapt out into the sky as a red ball of light came at her. “What the-” She shouted.
A man with blonde hair, covering one of his eyes came forward. “I didn’t know you were siding with the Ryoka, Lieutenant Ise.” Izuru said. Behind him stood Chad, both his hands tied behind his back using reiatsu sealers.
“Lieutenant Kira, what are you doing here with a Ryoka?” Nanao asked surprised.
“I was told to come to the Sokyoku Hill with this one by Captain Ichimaru.” Izuru answered, drawing his Zanpakuto.
“Orihime, Uryuu take your friend and go. I’ll stall Izuru for now.” She said firing a Shakkaho ball at the blonde. He deflected it with his blade, sending it into a tree. “Hado No.63, Raikōhō!” She yelled, releasing lightning from the palm of her hand. Sensing that Nanao didn’t need their help and could take on Izuru by herself, Chad, Uryuu and Orihime ran up the stairs. They were soon followed by Ganju and Hanataro.
“How did you guys escape?” Chad demanded as they raced up the never-ending stairs.
“The Captain that had us was attacked by another Captain; we escaped while he was fighting.” Ganju explained.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. The Captains shouldn’t be fighting.” Hanataro said clearly concerned.
“We can’t worry about that now, we need to get to Rukia!” Uryuu yelled over the sounds of explosions in the distance.
The wind whistled in their ears as Ichigo and Zayla flash-stepped across the roofs to the Sokyoku Hill. Their training had been harsh with Yoruichi pushing them to their limits, and their Zanpakuto Spirits didn’t make it any easier. Motivation and sheer will power kept them going; they had to save Rukia and Isshin. During the training, Ichigo had discovered a mask that looked disturbingly like a Hollow’s; it was skeletal-looking, pure white with red marks on one side. Upon finding it, Yoruichi had snatched it away, simply claiming that she would keep it during their training. Ichigo thought it was a lucky charm as it saved him from serious injuries, but Zayla thought different; something about the mask looked horribly familiar, the shape of the eyes and sharp jagged teeth gave it an evil appearance.
They observed the hill and counted six figures at the execution site, the parabatai had expected more people- some of the captains and lieutenants, yet only one figure was cloaked in the white haori. Four people were lying of the ground in their shihakusho and they appeared to be unconscious. The pair watched cautiously as the man in the haori plunged his hand into the small figure opposite him, a tearing sound was made as his hand ripped through flesh, and once he pulled his fist out there was something placed in his palm. The man examined the object in his hand before a cruel smile curled his lips. He turned to the girl, lifting his bloodied hand slowly again, the girl gasped in horror grasping what he was going to do. Realising that the girl with raven hair was Rukia, Ichigo rushed forward in a rapid flash-step, grabbing her, he moved back to his soul-mate and positioned Rukia into her arms.
“Zayla, take care of her, I’m going to kill the bastard.” Ichigo said through gritted teeth. He launched himself at the brunette with his cleaver-like sword raised; unaware of the danger that lay waiting for him. A flash of teal caught his attention, and he swung his Zanpakuto at the new-comer with the same ferocity he had intended for the Captain. The figure caught Zangetsu is his hand, lazily.
The thing that stood opposite Ichigo was unlike anything he had seen before; at first glance it would’ve appeared human but the hole in its abdomen and the jaw bone on his right cheek suggested otherwise. Other than those two frightening features, the monster’s skin was flawlessly golden, which contrasted greatly against his gelled back teal blue hair and cerulean eyes. The creature wore a white half jacket lined in black and white hakama, with a sheathed katana strapped at his belt. It looked like a cross between a Hollow and a Soul Reaper; in fact, Ichigo wouldn’t be surprised if he was.
“That all you got, Shinigami?” He asked. Ichigo swung his blade again, this time it made a cut in the man’s clothing.
“Grimmjow, stop playing around…” The brunette scolded idly. Ichigo flash-stepped behind the Captain, planning to stab him in the back, when he caught a glimpse of body that lay there. Black hair, goatee, bulky frame, goofy face…Impossible, it can’t be.
Isshin? Ichigo felt his knees going weak; he glanced at the body again and knew for certain that it was his father. His knees made contact with the ground as the boy shivered at the sight of his father’s body, crawling over and pressing his hand against his chest, Ichigo clocked that there was no heartbeat. Isshin was dead.
“Does, Ichigo miss his Isshin?” The brunette taunted in the same silky voice. “You want to know who killed him?” The substitute Soul Reaper’s head snapped back at the words, to find the man pointing to himself. “Remember this Ryoka: I, Captain Sosuke Aizen, was the one who killed your precious father.”
“Bastard!” Ichigo yelled, jumping to his knees and flinging his sword at the man one more time. Once again, it was stopped by Grimmjow who had his sword drawn to counter Ichigo’s, a sadistic smirk making its way to his face.
“You the son of that pathetic excuse for a former-Captain? Are you as weak as him or will you stand a little longer?” He mocked. The orange-head’s mind was in a whirl, his father had been killed and here was the murderer standing before him, laughing at his weakness. This was the man that had hurt Rukia, stabbed her through her chest using nothing but his hand. He was so angry, he could literally see red. Zayla must have sensed his intentions because she jerked violently before trying to move forward, still holding an unconscious Rukia in her arms. Grimmjow was still smirking, watching amused, as Ichigo attempted pushing his sword deeper into his opponent’s blade only to find it made no difference to the situation.
“My Espada, come we have work to do.” At Aizen’s words, the half-hollow didn’t look too pleased, but as he opened his mouth to retort, the brunette pointed his index finger at Ichigo. “Bakudō No.63, Sajo Sabaku.” Ropes of light seemingly flew out of Sosuke’s finger and wrapped themselves around Ichigo’s arms and pinning them to his torso. It happened so fast and unexpectedly, it made Byakuya’s flash-steps look impossibly slow. Before the orange-haired teen could even blink, much less move his sword, he was restrained and rendered useless. A look of complete and utter shock overcame the substitute Shinigami’s features, at that moment; a group of lieutenants entered arrived on the hill. The small group consisted of Nanao, Izuru, Isane, Rangiku and Shuhei who wore similar expressions of shock mixed with confusion directed at Aizen.
“Ah, my dear lieutenants…” He cooed at the squad.
“B-but, Captain Aizen, we thought you were dead!” Exclaimed Izuru, taking a step forward.
“Still, ignorant as always, aren’t we? That was my Zanpakuto’s Shikai, Kyoka Suigetsu; its power is complete hypnosis.”
“We thought, Isshin Shiba murdered you…” Muttered Nanao, still confused.
“That was part of my Shikai, anyone who has seen my blade in action can be manipulated by its ability.”
“Why?!” Shouted Rangiku, all eyes turned towards her. “Why use hypnosis on us, what’s the point of all this?”
“Why, you ask?” Aizen tilted his head as if considering an answer. “Because you are all dolls in my game, so easily manipulated. Everything major that has happened so far was all part of my planning! I will be a god!” His creepy smile had returned to his face, throughout his explanation though, Grimmjow appeared to be bored, staring absently at the sky. In fact, Aizen’s soldier was itching to fight the orange-head; it seemed if he could taunt the boy enough, Ichigo would give Grimmjow a worthy fight. All that stood in the way was his ‘master’, the orders given were clear enough; he wasn’t to harm the boy, but the blue-haired Espada could feel his senses tingling at the thought of an up-coming battle, well what could have been a battle. He glanced at aforementioned teen, who was still struggling to free himself from the kido bindings. Quickly, though, Grimmjow was knocked out of his thoughts at the sound of someone yelling whilst lunging at Aizen, the black-haired Shinigami with the odd tattoo of his cheek was stopped by Rudbornn.
The other lieutenants let out a gasp at the sight of the hollow, but were soon surrounded by Grimmjow’s fraccion, each holding a sword at their throats. Grimmjow smirked as more of Ichigo’s comrades were also cut off from reaching their friend by a group of Exequias. He glanced at the squad of people that had recently arrived, none of them seemed to be Shinigami- perhaps they are human, Grimmjow thought, so pathetically weak and vulnerable.
“Well, what do we have here?” Aizen tutted at the humans. “Have you come to see me kill Ichigo?” Orihime’s eyes filled with tears that threatened to escape as she shook her head quickly. Nnoitra and Yammy who had also showed up were cackling at the girl’s tears as they strode over to stand by Aizen’s side. “Don’t worry, I won’t kill him…much.” Aizen strolled to the restrained substitute Shinigami and in one swift move plunged his blood-stained hands into the boy’s chest. Ichigo wheezed, as Sosuke tore the teen’s chest. Blood gushed out of the wound, and a tear was made in the orange-head, everyone froze as the Captain’s finger’s closed around a chain near his heart. Aizen stroked one of the links with his thumb before crushing it with two fingers, causing Ichigo to fall unconscious into the brunette’s arms. As the small link turned to dust, Zayla dropped Rukia to the ground and clutched her chest, falling to her knees.
“You monster, what did you do?” She cried, scarlet liquid escaping past her lips as she spoke.
“I see…so this is what happens…” Sosuke mumbling under his breath. The Shadowhunter scrambled onto her feet and look of fury etched into her features as she pointed her Zanpakuto at the brunette.
“Mugen Rakurai!” Zayla yelled as a bright electric blue light enveloped the girl. When the Nephilim girl appeared once again, she was cloaked in a white shihakusho that was almost identical to Ichigo’s Bankai outfit. Her sword was lightning blue and in the shape of a katana, white electricity cackled around the blade sending sparks flying off in all directions. Zayla knew her Bankai wouldn’t last long, she had attempted to master it like Ichigo had, and the longest she had been able to keep in this form for was three minutes. I’ll just have to make the three minutes count. Taking a deep breath, she brought down her Zanpakuto onto Aizen only to have her opponent stop her attack with his pinkie finger. Her electric Zanpakuto dissolved into ashes as it scattered on the floor. The blue-haired Shinigami’s eyes widened as she felt a stab through her abdomen, refusing to fall once again to Sosuke, she stood, wrapping her arms around the wound. The blood soaked through the white clothing.
Aizen lifted the young Kurosaki into his arms, watching as his parabatai struggled to even stand. “Yammy, Nnoitra, kill her.” He said expressionlessly. Two more Captains appeared at his side, one whom Zayla recognised as Gin Ichimaru. A beam of light surrounded each Captain, before disappearing Gin shot an apologetic smile at the lieutenants. Zayla could feel the panic rising in her chest as Aizen vanished taking Ichigo with him. “No, no…” She muttered, staggering over to where they previously stood, pools of blood were left behind. I swore I wouldn’t leave his side. I swore.
Two of the Espada were moving towards her, she remembered that Aizen had called them Nnoitra and Yammy, though she didn’t know who was who. A large, beefy man with his hollow mask covering his chin and a hole through the centre of his chest. The other Espada was lanky, with black hair and an eyepatch, his smile was disturbing as his teeth looked like piano keys. “Argh, Yammy why do we always get the weak ones…?” Nnoitra lifted his double crescent-shaped Zanpakuto to attack the girl but was stopped shortly by Yammy, who placed a hand on the hilt.
“Let me kill this one.” Yammy said, sniggering as the Shadowhunter took a fighter stance, he knew that without her blade she was about as easy to kill as a fly. Closing his large meaty hands around Zayla he squeezed the breath out of her. A sickening crunch was heard as her ribs snapped in crushing force. Zayla gasped, the air left her body, and broken ribs stabbed into flesh as her own blood started filling her lungs as Yammy’s grip on the girl tightened. Yammy laughed heartily as more blood spurted out of her mouth, not caring that it was staining his clothes. Eyelids drooping, the Shadowhunter felt herself drifting into unconsciousness, into a black void where she could no longer feel the pain. A strangled cry made her lift heavy eyelids to see where it came from, Orihime’s face was heart-wrenching to look at, and tears ran down her face as she sobbed heavily. Yammy, noticing the look of pain that crossed his opponent’s features, curled his lips as a cunning thought planted itself in his head.
“Hey, little girl, if you die now without feeling actual pain, I’ll crush this pretty doll here!” The thought of eternal sleep without having to feel any pain was tempting at this point, she could feel her lids closing slowly. Through her half-closed eyes, Zayla could see Yammy’s grimy hand reaching out for Orihime.
“Don’t touch her…” She slurred as his fingers inched towards the cowering red-head. “Stop, don’t…” Yammy lifted his monstrous face to look at the blue-head.
“Eh, did you say something?” He asked with an amused smirk, he had, in fact, heard the girl. Zayla glanced at Espada’s hands which were centimetres from Orihime but still moving closer to the girl. Just as Yammy’s fingers were about to enclose on the red-head, the giant looked at the almost-unconscious figure in his hand, whose bracelet was glowing faintly.
“I SAID DON’T FUCKING TOUCH HER!” Zayla screamed, Yammy stood shock-still. A second later, half his forearm fell to the floor, blood spraying out from the end of the stump. Zayla panted with the effort from moving her badly bruised arm in which she carried a silvery-gold axe the size of Yammy’s face.
“GAAHHH!!!” Yammy yelled swinging the girl onto the floor with such impact Zayla could feel her spine cracking. The giant cradled the stump of his arm, swearing loudly whilst doing so. This is my chance. The girl got on all fours and crawled in the direction that her axe lay, just as she stretched her fingers to grab it, a fancy shoe that was curled at the toes kicked it out of the way. Skidding across the ground, it reformed into a bracelet. Nnoitra kicked the girl onto her back and pinned her to the floor using his Zanpakuto, it pierced into her stomach and sides. She yelled in agony as in cut deep through her previous wound, her broken ribs were pushed deeper into her organs as Nnoitra twisted his blade into her.
“Look like I’ll have to finish the bitch off then.” The joy on the lanky Espada’s face was unmistakeable. Yammy appeared behind Nnoitra, barging his comrade out of the way and violently pulling the blade out of Zayla.
“No! I’ll make sure her death is slow and painful.” Taking the girl by her right arm, snapping it in the process, he swung her on the floor. Beating the teen against the ground, he smashed her bones on process shouting curses at the girl.
Orihime watched in despair as her friend was beaten to death, every time the red-head brought her fingers up to call on her faeries, the sword at her throat was dug deeper into her skin, warning her of the consequences. Tears fell continuously as Zayla was crushed, cut, slashed, swung and beaten- she had never felt so utterly useless ever before. When she saw Ichigo wounded badly and knew the cure was at her fingertips but couldn’t so much as move without being killed. Then Aizen had taken him, taken Ichigo to hurt him and torture him. She observed the scene that was playing out before her, Yammy lifted Zayla by her head, thumb and middle finger cracking her skull, the Shadowhunter’s eyes were glassed over and had lost the usual liveliness iT held.
“How does pain feel, Shinigami, when an Espada inflicts it?” He looked as if he was about to say more, but Nnoitra interrupted and pointed at the dark figures that were advancing speedily in the distance.
“The Captains are coming, let’s go.” Just as they turned to leave, more Espada appeared beside them, looking satisfied at something. Before the beam of light appeared to take them back, Yammy flung Zayla back onto the ground with a grunt.
The Nephilim girl landed with her body, twisted and bloody on the dusty floor. Through her half-lidded eyes, she could see Yammy and his comrades being encased in the same beam of light that Aizen had been before they too disappeared. More figures appeared on the hill, but it didn’t matter. Not anymore. Because Aizen had Ichigo, he had taken her parabatai. She had sworn to protect him, but failed to do so.
Her breathing became more uneven, she took in her last breath. A few more sluggish beats.
And. Then. Her. Heart. Stopped.