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Bond of the Souls

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The portal had opened suddenly, and the light inside was intense, blinding even. A feminine figure stepped through. She appeared to be clutching her abdomen as blood splattered the ground; her black clothes were ripped and coated in a powdery substance.  She was gorgeous with short shoulder-length blue hair and deep golden eyes, injured as she was, she held herself in a warrior stance. Her head suddenly jerked to the left, her eyes widened in shock at the enormous beast that started towards. It was unlike anything she had seen before, and she had seen many demons in her lifetime. The creature had the body of an ape, its body covered in dark fur. And its face…its face was the most horrid, the mask it wore was skeletal white, and pure black eyes glistened through.

The girl spun around to face the portal door, she placed the palm of her hand over it and the door closed slowly as the light faded away. Narrowing her eyes at the monster she clenched her fist, where a bracelet linking her middle finger to her wrist lay. It was an object of interest; the metal was a silvery gold, a scythe and sword crossed over were etched into it. It looked beautiful in a deadly way; the diamond placed in the ring around her finger glowed red.

The monster glared at the figure, she was clearly injured and carried no weapon. This is going to be easy, it thought, such strong spiritual pressure too, her soul will taste good. It was about to lunge at her when it stopped abruptly. Looking on in astonishment as the girl’s fragile bracelet changed form until she was holding a pale gold double-edged sword almost the length of her arm. The creature could do nothing but watch as she charged forward and sliced through its mask, it screeched in pain, then disintegrated. Landing on both feet, she still held tightly onto her stomach as blood continued to pour through. She staggered in uncertainty towards the town. It looked familiar to her.

A grey furry hand swatted the young woman aside into the walls. The impact was so hard it made a crater in the wall. The girl sunk to the floor, breathing heavily she glanced to the side and saw her only weapon lying under the rubble. She started crawling towards her sword when a skeletal mask similar to the monster she just defeated blocked her path. It appeared to be grinning maniacally. It closed in on her, ready for the kill.

This is it, she thought, Angel, I pray this won’t be too painful. She closed her eyes tightly awaiting her death.

“Hey you”, called a male voice. The monster snapped its head back to see a boy with bright orange hair wearing a black kimono. He wielded a large white sword, which he swung at the monster, disintegrating it into black dust.

By now, the girl’s wound was bleeding profusely, soaking her clothes. The boy crouched down in front of her, frowning. “Hey, you alright?”, he asked. The girl glared at him. Did it look like she was alright? “Uh yeah, obviously you’re not... I’ll take you to my dad’s clinic; he can take care of your wounds.”

“Just give me my sword.” She replied, panting. “It’s over there”. He stared at her in surprise.

“Your sword? You have a sword? Are you a soul reaper?” He questioned.

“Soul reaper? The hell is that?” The orange head glared back at her, opening his mouth to explain, before she cut him off. “You know what?” ,she croaked, pointing at the rubble that lay a metre away. “Talk later, get me my sword.”

He stood up obediently, reaching out his hand to pick up the sword. The instant his fingers touched the hilt it transformed back into the bracelet. He snatched his hand away, astonishment etched into his face. His head shot up to meet her eyes.

“Yeah it does that sometimes”, the girl answered. Her breathing was becoming unsteady. “Just hurry up and grab it, okay?” He took it into his hand looking at it in wonder. Still staring at it he handed back to the other teenager. As soon as the girl touched it the bracelet it changed into a stylus made with the same pale golden metal. She held it like a paint brush using the tip to draw a strange tattoo onto her skin, then leaned back against the wall. The boy realised she was sitting in a pool of her own blood.

“Holy crap, how are you sitting there drawing tattoos when you’re bleeding so much?” ,he shouted making the girl jump.

She scowled at him. “What?”

He reached forward to help her up. “We need to get you to the clinic.”

The girl swatted his arm away, before pointing at her cut. “Look, it stopped bleeding. It’ll start closing up.” Though, she was biting her lip tentatively. “The tattoo, it’s called a rune, for healing.” Her response met his blank look. “In other words; I’ll be fine.”

He sighed. “Alright if you say so…” The girl pulled herself off the ground, steadying her body against what was remaining of the wall. “But you have some explaining to do.”

She nodded her head curtly. “I want some answers too.” They walked in an awkward silence for a couple of minutes. “So…what’s your name?”

“Ichigo Kurosaki”, the orange-haired boy responded. “You?”

“Zayla…Krieger”, the girl stated.

“You’re defiantly not Japanese. Krieger, European?” Ichigo squinted at her.

“My…dad’s from Germany. Krieger means ‘warrior’ in German.”

“You know, I thought my hair was extreme. But yours is just next level. Navy Blue? Seriously? Of all colours, you would dye your hair blue? ”

Zayla ran her fingers through her hair, which was encrusted with blood and cement. “It’s not dyed, it’s natural.” She noticed the look Ichigo was giving her. “Fine. Don’t believe me.”

They walked the rest of their journey in silence, until they reached Ichigo’s house. A large sign hung over the door; Kurosaki Clinic. The pair walked through the glass doors, with Ichigo leading the way. A man bulky man with dark hair and a goatee was seated on the dining table. He smiled goofily as Ichigo walked up to him, Zayla stayed near the doors. He jumped up, attempting to kick his son in the face, but Ichigo dodged easily, holding his father’s leg by the ankle.

“Hey, Dad, my friend, Zayla, needs some help. She keeps saying her wound is healing, but it’s clearly not. I need you to fix it up.” Ichigo explained in a low voice. His father nodded gravely, as his expression turning serious. “She has lost a lot of blood, and for some reason doesn’t want to be treated.”

Isshin got up and walked started towards to girl. Frowning she backed up against the wall.

“It’s alright, I just need to take a look at your injury.” He assured her. Zayla considered arguing, but gave up looking exasperated. If he takes my blood sample or something, I’m in deep shit, Zayla thought.

Isshin led her to the clinic and gestured for her to take her place on operation bed. She lifted up her blood-soaked t-shirt and sat down as he looked at the cut which was closing up slowly but surely. “Doesn’t look too bad, I’ll clean it then bandage it up” Isshin said, reaching for his equipment.” Soon thick layers of bandage were wrapped around her abdomen. Relieved, Zayla stood and muttered her thanks before walking out the door.

Ichigo was waiting outside, pacing the corridor, looking concerned. He glanced at her as she came out of the clinic. “You better now?” He inquired. Zayla nodded. “You could use some new clothes.” Eyeing her torn and bloody attire, he threw one of his t-shirts. She caught it and held it at arm’s length before raising an eyebrow at him.

“Does it stink?” she asked, smirking.

“What do I look like? A tramp?” Ichigo asked narrowing his eyes at her.

“You don’t look like one, you smell like one.” Zayla jabbed a finger at him seeing that he was getting pissed. “Anyone could smell your BO from a mile away…”

“Why you little – ” he started but was soon cut off as his sister, Yuzu, ran towards them. She appeared to be anxious about something.

Yuzu reached for Zayla’s hand. “Ichigo, Dad said your friend here needed something to wear” Ichigo flinched at the word ‘friend’. “I’ll get her something from Mum’s old clothes.” The little girl dragged Zayla to another room.

Zayla felt awkward as Yuzu searched for a pair of trousers, she introduced herself and talked all the while about her family. She could judge from the reactions of the family that Ichigo’s mother had passed away; the poster of the woman in the living room said as much. Zayla wasn’t comfortable knowing she was going to wear a dead person’s trousers. It must be hard for them too, she thought to herself, seeing someone in their late mother’s clothes. “Er… are you sure, Yuzu?” Zayla asked. “I wouldn’t mind staying in these trousers; they only have a little blood stain…”

“Don’t be silly.” Was all Yuzu said, carrying on with her search.  A few minutes passed before she emerged with a pair of black jeans. She handed it over to Zayla, and pointed her chin at the bathroom to go and change.

After being clothed in baggy a t-shirt and jeans, Zayla exited the bathroom to find Ichigo waiting for her again. “What?” she asked, irritated. What was with this kid? Why did he care so much?

“You promised me an explanation.” Ichigo stated, gesturing for her to follow him. He sat on his bed as Zayla plopped herself onto the chair. She opened her mouth to begin, when a short raven-haired girl jumped up and crouched on the window sill.

“Hey Ichigo, Kisuke gave me the – ” she stopped sharply and glared at the other girl. The girl hopped off from her position and landed next to Zayla, who gave the other an equally hostile glare.

“Who are you? What are you doing here? Do you want something from Ichigo?” The shorter girl fired questions at Zayla. All the while, Zayla looked amused. She then cleared her throat and introduced herself.

“I’m Zayla Krieger. Ask him. Guess so.” Zayla answered the questions. The raven haired girl continued to glare.

“Umm… Zayla, this is Rukia Kuchiki one of my close friends.” Ichigo said. “Rukia, calm down. Zayla’s going to explain to me exactly what she is.”

“We are known as Nephilim or – ” Zayla started only to be cut off by Rukia.

“You look human.” Rukia stated.

“No shit, Sherlock. That’s ‘cause I am human. Well, half anyways.” Zayla admitted. Rukia widened her eyes in shock.

Intrigued, Ichigo leaned forward. “And other half…?”

Zayla’s eyes shone as she replied. “Angel.”

Chapter Text

There was a moment of stunned silence. Zayla could feel Rukia staring at her intently. She wondered whether she done that simply to make her feel uncomfortable or if she was waiting for her to continue.

“You’re kidding.” Ichigo said, fidgeting on his bed. He looked up to meet Zayla’s serious expression. “No, you’re not.”

“Care to explain?” Rukia’s gaze didn’t shift.

“Long ago during the Crusade the world was in despair, a crusader named Jonathan summoned the Angel Raziel and begged of a way to rid the earth of the demons who threatened mankind. The angel drew his ichor and mixed it with that of mortals in a cup. Jonathan Shadowhunter and his men became the first of the Nephilim, their children, grand-children and so on carried the blood of angels. The Clave, Council, Covenant and Consul were created to govern the Shadowhunters. Our sole duty is to protect the human race from demons. ”

“When you say demons, I take it that you don’t mean hollows like the one you were attacked by today?” Ichigo asked.

“Hollows? I’ve never seen them before today.” Zayla admitted. “You can tell me later, what that thing was.” Ichigo nodded before she continued. “That was a millennia ago, since then there has been much…complications. A demon plague almost wiped out my kind. A decade and a half ago, a man rebelled against the Clave in what was called the Uprising and he had would’ve succeeded had it not been for his wife. Many were slaughtered. But what he fought for was perhaps the most sickening. He wanted the destruction of all demon blooded creatures.”

“Isn’t that good though? You said your main purpose was the destroy demons.” Rukia said.

“Yes our purpose was to kill all demons. But demon-blooded creatures would mean vampires, werewolves, warlocks and faeries; the Downworlders. Not all of them are evil; those that do, however, pose a threat to the Clave or humans are punished. I have Downworlder friends and they assist the Clave. After all, they are very human-like.  But, this man he didn’t care about their innocence. He hated all Downworlders as did his group of followers called the Circle. They were defeated and he went missing, assumed dead. But he is still alive and wants exactly what he wanted fifteen years ago.”

“Who is this man you speak of?” Rukia asked, leaning her back against the wall and pulling her knees up to her chest.

“My father, Tomasz Krieger. You see, the Clave and many of the Downworlders don’t trust me because of this very reason. But my father wants me for one thing; to use my Rune powers for his advantage.”

“Rune? You mentioned that earlier. What is it?” Ichigo questioned.

“A Rune is something we Mark ourselves with; there are different Runes for different uses. Voyance Rune is for clear sight, it’s the first Rune we get. The Healing Rune heals most of our injuries. There are many more runes, but none are stronger than the parabatai Rune, which links two souls and forms a strong bond. They are the perfect pair of warriors.”

“A bond between two souls? That sounds a lot like something I’ve heard before…” Rukia muttered. 

“Perhaps. Our worlds are more connected than we think.” Zayla said.

“So how did you end up here?” Ichigo was looking thoughtful.

“Well, my friends and I were on patrol when we were attacked by my father and his followers. They told me to run because if he captured me it could very well mean the end of the Downworld. So, using my Rune powers I drew a portal, though why I ended up here…” Zayla’s face brightened in recognition. “Wait, this is Karakura town? No wonder, I must’ve been thinking of my brothers so the portal brought me here!”

“You keep talking about your Rune powers what do you mean?” Rukia’s eyes were still fixed on Zayla. She was starting to wonder if Rukia didn’t trust what she said, but wouldn’t that be all too familiar.

“Tomasz was Nephilim, my mother was a Faerie princess of the Seelie Court. Thus, the blue hair.” She ran her fingers through her locks. “I was one of my father’s experiments, he injected more angel blood into me before I was born. He then swapped his other child with me, my half-sister was killed by the faeries’ once they found out she was a Shadowhunter.” She looked down at her trembling hands. “Which means, unlike any other Shadowhunter, I am able to create new Runes. Tomasz wants me to design a rune to control the Nephilim who bares it; he said as much the last time we met. Now, I’m on the run, not only from my father but also the Clave and most of the Downworld. All they need to do is destroy the threat, in other words, they just need to kill me.” Her voice broke at the last words, she felt tears filling up in her eyes. Dammit, she thought, I just had to go and make myself look weak in front of strangers. Oh, crap.

Warm hands took hers and squeezed tightly. Zayla lifted her gold eyes to warm brown ones. “Hey it’s alright, I’ll protect you. No need to worry, I won’t let any of those bastards hurt you. I promise.” Ichigo’s voice was soft and made her want to believe every word. He grinned and it lit up his face, he truly did look handsome.

Rukia smiled at Zayla and nodded. “That’s right, you can trust us on that.” Zayla was taken aback, wasn’t this the girl who had given her mistrustful glares?

Ichigo watched the exchange between the two girls. He would keep his promise and protect Zayla as if his life depended on it. He already felt a strong bond with her within the last few hours, it was unusual, he didn’t trust people so easily but this was unlike anything else.

Zayla closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “There is so much more to explain, but when the time comes I’ll tell you.” Ichigo wanted to ask what she meant by ‘when the time comes’, but figured he should drop the subject for now. “Ichigo, you still owe me an explanation.”

Ichigo shifted his position to face Rukia. “Ah, yes. I’m a Soul Reaper of sorts. Don’t know if I have the right to be called one.” Ichigo launched his explanation into how Rukia had given him her powers so he could protect his family from the Hollow that attacked. He soon became insistent on protecting others too, regularly running out of school to defeat hollows.

“Tell me, what is a hollow?” Zayla asked.

“A Hollow is a creature that consumes souls.” Rukia spoke up. “Hollows start off as human souls that are unable to pass on because of regrets or longings. They rot away in misery and pain, eventually becoming hollows. These monsters devour souls to gain power.”

“So, you soul reapers kill hollows to protect humans?”

“We don’t kill them; we purify them which then sends their souls to the soul society.” Rukia paused, and then pointed to herself. “I died long ago. This body is called a gigai, it’s like a vessel for my soul.” She looked at Ichigo. “Ichigo here, isn’t dead nor is his body a gigai. He is an example of the consequences for defying the Gotei; a living soul with powers of the dead.”

Zayla noticed Ichigo muttering something about Rukia defining him a ‘consequence’. This certainly is strange, she thought, both Nephilim and Shinigami have the same duty; to protect humans. We both fight creatures that threaten mankind, yet we were completely unaware of each other’s existence.   

She let her mind wander back to when Alec and Isabelle clarified their purpose and world to her. They definitely hadn’t mentioned Shinigami, nor did any of them come across Hollows before.

Zayla voiced her thoughts to Rukia and Ichigo, who nodded their head in agreement. “You’re right, I have never heard of Nephilim in or out of the Soul Society before this day. It is unusual, but we can’t let our thought linger on that forever.” Rukia said.

Ichigo stood up, motioned for Zayla to get up as well. “You have anywhere to stay?”

“Yeah, I’ll crash at my brothers’.” Zayla stood at walked to the door. Ichigo followed her.

“I’ll drop you off. You might be unstable after losing so much blood.”

The pair walked out of the house and through Karakura. They passed by the river, which was glistening as the sunlight touched it. The sky was a deep orange, the colour of Ichigo’s hair, and faded into a pink as the sun set. Zayla was admiring the sky, when Ichigo spoke. “Is it just me, or is your hair a paler than before?” He stared at her hair which appeared to be cobalt blue rather than navy.

“Mm? It’s just you.” She answered absentmindedly. As she admired the view, she thought of what her friends, back in London, must be doing. Were they looking for her? Should she send a message telling them of her whereabouts? No, because then they would have to look after her, they already had so much on their hands, she would just me another burden on their shoulders. She felt a pang of guilt as she eyed Ichigo, she wouldn’t be able to take it if he or Rukia were injured in the process of trying to protect. People always got hurt trying to shield her, wouldn’t just be so much easier if they had killed her?

Zayla stopped in front of her house. Ichigo raised an eyebrow at her, asking, This is it?. She nodded and rang the doorbell, footsteps shuffled to the door and it swung open. Familiar deep blue eyes stared back at her. She threw her arms around his neck as her brother chuckled into her hair. “Ken.” She muttered into his chest.

He pulled back, holding her to get a good look. “Hey, sis. You never said you were coming!” Ken noted Ichigo standing awkwardly, hands stuffed in his pockets watching their embrace, a few meters away. He gestured for him to come in as he led Zayla into the house. A small boy aged seven ran towards Zayla and flung his arms around her waist. “Zayla!” The boy cried in delight.

“Hey Tomi, you’ve grown.” Zayla picked up her brother and cuddled him.

“I see you’ve brought a friend.” Ken pointed his chin at Ichigo. Zayla nodded, introducing Ichigo to her brothers. Ken smiled warmly at Ichigo, inviting him to dinner, the orange-haired boy refused politely saying he had to get back home.

Ichigo left the house, walking back home with his usual scowl plastered in his face. He felt over-whelmed by everything that he had learnt today. He entered his room and seated himself on the chair, taking out his homework. Rukia continuously shot glances at him, until he grew irritated. “What? Why do keep giving me them looks?”

“You mean you don’t know?”

“Don’t know what?”

“Your reiatsu is different it seems laced with that girls.”

“Who? Zayla? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Yes, the Nephilim girl.  I’ve never seen two reiastus laced, though I have heard of it. It’s similar to what she said about parabatai, really.”

Ichigo didn’t say anything, nor did Rukia. She watched him for a while, then muttered goodnight and entered the closet to sleep. Ichigo finished his homework, distractedly before plopping himself onto his bed. He had one word echoing in his head as he fell asleep.

Parabatai.

Chapter Text

Zayla woke up to find her bandages soaked with blood. Swearing, she leapt out of bed and made her way to her bathroom. Good thing she was taught first aid in the London Institute, otherwise she would be clueless. She took a roll of bandages out of her first-aid kit, turning to the mirror and gaped. What the fuck? Her hair was sky blue, Ichigo wasn’t kidding he said her hair was paler. How the hell did this happen? Then realisation hit her hard. Kieran, his hair was blue like hers but his hair shifted colour reflecting on his mood, sometimes he could even will it to change. However, she mused, my hair changing colour can’t possibly be a good sign. I could never change it to begin with…so what’s triggering it?

She heard a knock on the bedroom door and Ken calling out her name. She locked the bathroom door, before replying.

“I’m going to drop Tomi off at school before I go uni, there’s breakfast on the table if you want it. See ya, Zay.” He said, his footsteps fading away. Zayla breathed a sigh of relief; she better come up with a good explanation before her brother freaked out. Carrying on her morning routine, she stressed over the turn of events. First, her goddamned healing Rune was useless. Then, her hair decides to go and change to an even more blatant colour. What was next, a - ?

She froze. The doorbell sounded, the ring echoing through the room. Who was it now? Reluctantly, she made her way to the door. Before swinging it open, she grabbed a coat off the nearby stand and hastily pulled the hood over her head covering her hair.  On her doorstep was Ichigo, frowning at her.

“Hey, why’re you wearing a coat in your house?” Ichigo was refraining from laughing his head off. Zayla was standing with a coat thrown over her pyjamas, her mouth open in a ‘O’ of surprise. “You do realise, you look stupid right?”

“Shut it, strawberry.” She ripped of the coat, exposing her hair. Now it was Ichigo’s turn to look surprised. He pointed at it and opened his mouth to speak. “Yeah, I know, woke up in the morning like this. And, for goodness’ sake, come inside.”

Ichigo and Zayla glared at each other for a few minutes, seated on the couch. The blue haired girl raised her eyebrows at the other, who cleared his throat. “I wanted to check on you. See if your cut is healing properly.”

“It’s completely fine.” She lied. “Aren’t you meant to be in school?”

“Yeah, but you know… came to visit you first.” He finished awkwardly. Nodding curtly, Zayla stood up, making her way to the kitchen. She felt overcome with dizziness, her knees buckled and she felt light-headed. Falling onto her knees, she used the wall for support. In the background, she could hear Ichigo calling out something, but the words were jumbled. Her eyelids seemed to be closing; she just wanted to sleep…

Ichigo watched anxiously as Zayla lay unconscious on her couch, she was burning a fever and the cold cloth on her forehead seemed to be ineffective. He had given Kisuke Urahara a call and asked him to come over immediately after she had passed out, that had been half an hour ago and there was still no sign of him. With Zayla’s condition only getting worse… his head snapped to the side as he heard a sound. The girl took a deep breath as her eyes fluttered open, she tried to sit up but her head felt heavy. Ichigo rushed to her side. “It’s best if you lay down, you’re burning a fever.” He said. Zayla opened her mouth to speak but no words came out, her throat felt dry and hot. Ichigo noted her discomfort, providing her with a glass of water, and observed silently as she sipped from the glass.

“I think I know.” She croaked. Before she could say another word, the doorbell rang, Ichigo held up a hand for her to wait as her answered the door. Kisuke and Tessai walked in, the former was a blonde with a white a green stripped hat which was pulled low to conceal his eyes, and the latter a large man with glasses and an almost comical moustache. Ichigo introduced them to Zayla who appeared somewhat suspicious.

“Ichigo” she called to get his attention. All three of the males turned to her. “I said I think I know why I’m ill.” She took a deep breath, before continuing. “When my friends and I were ambushed, I was stabbed. What I didn’t realise was that there was poison on the blade that inflicted the wound.”

The orange-haired boy tensed, he turned to Kisuke and Tessai with pleading eyes. They nodded, talking amongst themselves and set to work. Tessai performed a kido on the girl, who was too tired to even ask questions. Ichigo looked on as her hair returned to her original navy blue. Maybe, he thought, her hair represents her life force? He relaxed when she opened her bright golden eyes, took one look at Tessai’s face looming over hers, and fell out of the narrow couch onto the floor.

“Wh-what the…?” she stuttered. Ichigo informed her that Tessai and Kisuke had just saved her life by extracting the poison from her body using kido. Sitting up from her position on the floor, she glanced at the pair and thanked them earnestly. “No problem, my dear, anything for our Ichigo.” Kisuke mocked in his silky voice. After the men left, Zayla mumbled her thanks to Ichigo. The teen, pretending her hadn’t heard, asked her to repeat with an amused smile in his face.

“I said thanks, as much as I hate to admit it; you’ve umm… saved my life twice now.”

“Well, aren’t you grateful?”

Zayla smirked in response. “How about we go hollow/demon/ whatever-its-called hunting?” Ichigo frowned at her before breaking into a smile.

“Yeah? Let’s see who can kill the most monsters.”

Soon, both Zayla and Ichigo were running on the rooftops of Karakura searching for signs of hollows or demons. Zayla wore black clothes similar to the ones she had when she arrived, her lethal bracelet glowing a deep red. Ichigo was in his soul reaper form; his body was in school with Kon taking over. Kon, he explained to Zayla, was a ModSoul which was an alternative to leaving your body lying around with no soul, in other words, dead. ModSouls were souls that were designed to take over your gigai, in this case, body, when there was a need to assume Shinigami form.

Ichigo felt sympathy for the Hollows and demons within a mile radius. He and Zayla fought like they never fought before; his partner was swift and slaughtered any hollows that dared to come close, Ichigo taking the side that she was most vulnerable and Zayla doing the same. After an hour or so of killing Hollows, they sat exhausted near the edge of a building.

“I was wondering, wouldn’t it just look odd to see a girl swinging something about and slicing through air. I’m pretty sure that’s how humans see it.” Ichigo said, panting.

“I guess it would, but I’m using a Glamour Rune. So anyone without the Sight can’t see me.” Zayla replied, leaning back on her palms. “I was wondering why we didn’t come across any demons. I feel like they’re avoiding us. And that’s not something that demons would naturally do.”

“Really? That sure is odd. How comes your sword can slice through Hollows, though? I thought only zanpaktos can.”

“Mm… well, I doubt many seraph blades can do that. But my sword was made by Wayland Smith himself, it can cut through anything.”

“Anything?” Ichigo breathed.

“Yeah, anything. With enough force applied. There is only one other sword I know of that can do that, and that is Cortana- the Carstairs family blade.” Ichigo looked like he wanted to ask another question, but Zayla cut him off. “Look!” She exclaimed, holding out her accessorised hand. The bracelet changed shape, instead of it transforming into a sword, the girl was now holding a metre long spear that had a blade on either end. It changed form again until an axe was being held.

“H-how are you doing that?” Ichigo asked, astonished.

“I just think it, really. It reacts to my thoughts and displays the weapon I want to wield.” The axe reformed into the sword. “Oh, and remember the time you touched it? It doesn’t react to anyone other than the family its ‘assigned’ to.” She traced the symbol of a scythe and sword crossed over.

“You mean that’s why it turned back into a bracelet when I touched it?”

Zayla nodded. “Amriel” She whispered and the sword flared a blinding white.

Ichigo was entranced; the weapon emitted a strong but comforting spiritual pressure. He was so engrossed in the weapon that he did not notice the spider-like demon that slashed at him from behind, by the time that he did, he had lost his balance and tilted forward, towards the ground fifty feet below. Had it not been for Zayla’s quick reflexes he would’ve fell to his death. The Shadowhunter laid her friend on his front carefully and in one rapid move, had cleanly cut through the Shax demon. She rushed to him and gawked at the large wound which was oozing blood. No demon poison, she thought, still, they were miles from his house and body. There was only one thing for it…

She murmured her prayers to the Angel and shaped her bracelet into a stele. Her hands were shaking as she drew the iratze – healing rune – onto his forearm. She held her breath, hoping against hope that it would work. If it didn’t, he would turn into Forsaken and she would have to kill him. She held onto his arm, please work, she begged whatever supernatural being there was, please.

“Would you let go of my arm, you retard.”

Zayla dropped Ichigo’s arm hurriedly and stood. Holding, out her hand to help him up she stared down at him. “How do you feel?” She asked him.

“Like fucking shit, I’m shattered.” He replied taking her hand and letting her help him up. “My back hurts like hell.” The Nephilim girl twisted around to take a look at his back, it had stopped bleeding and the wound was closing up quickly too. The boy shrieked and Zayla jumped back.

“What? Are you alright?” She questioned nervously.

“You drew a Rune on my arm?!”

“Yeah, it’s a healing Rune. That Shax demon attacked you and slashed your back, so I had to.”

“But you said only people with angel blood can bare Runes?”

“I know, but it worked on you somehow. Maybe you have angel blood in your veins…?”

“How did you know it was going to work on me?” He looked at her curiously.

“I didn’t know. There was a chance you would become a demon, if – ”

“What?!” Ichigo was fuming now

“Ichigo, I didn’t have much choice. I wasn’t going to leave you here to bleed to death. Look, there was a chance you would become Forsaken, but you didn’t. And the Rune is taking effect, you’re healing up nicely.”

The Shinigami seemed to be calming down now. “Thanks, I guess.” He asked for Zayla to explain what a ‘Forsaken’ was and teach about the different types of demons.

As the sun was starting to set, the pair stood to part ways. Ichigo hesitated, looking as if he was about to say something, Zayla noted his hesitance. “What’s wrong?”

He shifted his feet, clearly uncomfortable. “Rukia said that my reiatsu was laced with yours…” Zayla frowned as he spoke. “Even today, Kisuke said the same thing, not only about my reiatsu, but also yours.”

“Reiatsu…okay. Is that bad?” Zayla was confused, whatever he meant by that, it was obviously making Ichigo awkward and uneasy.

“Rukia said it’s like umm… soulmates?”

“Like parabatai?”

“Yes, you know, we fight pretty well together. And seeing as I can bare Runes - ”

“You want us to be parabatai?” Ichigo nodded. “That’s not such a bad idea, considering you’re such a dimwit.”

“Hey, who you calling – ”

“But, thing is, a pair of Nephilim train for years before becoming parabatai, not just one day.”

“Still, you can’t deny that we work well together in combat.”

Zayla tilted her head to the side, considering this. “Alright, but how am I meant to get someone to perform the ceremony? You’re not exactly Nephilim.”

Ichigo’s face fell. “So it can’t happen?”

Zayla sighed, as much as she Ichigo to be her parabatai, it wasn’t going to be easy. There’s no way the Clave will agree a substitute Shinigami and Shadowhunter to be parabatai. Anything that the Clave weren’t aware of, they found a threat. One that needs getting rid of. She peered at Ichigo, who was gazing at the horizon, lost in thought. In this case, that threat would be him. She could pull it off… but she would need a Silent Brother to do the ritual. Brother Zachariah. Yes, Brother Zachariah, he did owe her a favour.

“Ichigo” She called, her friend turned his head towards her, a glint of hope in his eyes. “You can’t take parabatai lightly. It’s a bond till the death. It binds our souls together.” Ichigo nodded, without missing a beat.

“So you think we can be parabatai?”

“Yeah, I’ll have to find the nearest Institute so I can send a fire-message.” She told him that Institutes are like the head-quarters of all the Shadowhunters in the country. “So the Institute in Japan should be in Tokyo as it’s the capital.”

“How do these Institutes look?”

“Well, they normally appear as abandoned buildings to normal humans without the Sight. But we should see it as a large building of…some sort, really.”

“That hardly helps. Be more specific.”

“The Institute in London looks like a cathedral. The Los Angles Institute is a modern mansion. It can look like anything. Big enough to house at least fifty people.”

“Mmm, I think I have an idea of what you’re talking about.” Ichigo signalled for her to follow him. They ran for a few minutes, until Ichigo stopped abruptly with Zayla bumping straight into him. She swore under her breath and looked up to see him pointing at the tall modern building that stood before them. It had floor to ceiling glass windows, some were tinted a mint green others a deep blue, the metal that lined the edges shone brightly. “Let’s go.” He said poising to jump. Zayla caught the back of his kimono and pulled him back.

“Who said you’re coming. You stay here.” He opened his mouth to protest. “Actually, get back to your body; make sure no one sees the iratze on your arm. Especially, anyone who wears the same Shadowhunter uniform as me.”

“Wait – ”

“Please, it’s for your own safety.”

He rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” She watched him run off into the distance, taking a deep breath she hopped down from the roof. Landing steadily on both feet, Zayla eyes skimmed over the building before her. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea; her relationship with the Clave wasn’t exactly friendly. If she entered the Institute, the inhabitants were sure to ask questions and she would be under suspicion. I’ll just have to get it done and over with.

Zayla strolled grudgingly to the front door, placing her hand on the brass handles and pulled the door open.

A knife flew past her ear, slicing through a few strands of hair, and planting itself onto the wall next to her. Amriel transformed into a sword, which she held up defensively.

“We weren’t expecting visitors.” Said a voice. She glanced up to see a boy, only slightly older than herself, with black hair and amber eyes, holding a throwing knife in his hand. He glared daggers at her, quite literally.

“I take it, you threw the knife.” She said, the boy responded with a brisk nod. Zayla realised she was still standing behind the door, holding onto the handle. Quickly, she hurried inside and shut the door by leaning against it. “I’m Zayla. Zayla Krieger.”

He narrowed his eyes, suspiciously. “Kreiger, huh? So to what do we owe the pleasure?”

“Cut the shit. You should know, I side with the Clave against my father.”

“Alright, warrior” Zayla grimaced at his sarcasm. “I would like to know what you are doing in Karakura. Last I heard, you were based in London with the Lightwoods.”

“I came to visit family, my brothers live here. I was advised to keep my whereabouts hidden from others so Tomasz would have trouble finding me.”

“And you expect me to believe that?”

“Why don’t you ask the Inquisitor about what I was ordered?” Zayla knew the Inquisitor, Robert Lightwood, would agree to her staying in Karakura. After all, the order to go into hiding, during the attack, had some from his son.

“I will, but pray tell, why will the Krieger princesses grace us with her presence?”

This guy was really pushing it. Her patience was running out and it didn’t help that his words were dripping with sarcasm. Gritting her teeth, and answered with as much politeness as she could muster. “I need a few resources, stele and uniform. Also, I need to send a fire message to Brother Zachariah.”

“Lucky for you, Brother Zachariah is here, treating one of us.” At the voice, Zayla turned to face an old lady, with a bob of white hair. “I’m sure you can discuss with him soon after he tends his patients. I’m the head of the Institute, Fuyumi Asato, and that is my son Noritaka.”

Zayla nodded her head in greeting and introduced herself. Fuyumi showed her the way to the store room where Zayla can find what she needs. Casting a scowl at Noritaka, she started down to the store room. She found a stele, grabbing an empty backpack; she stuffed some of the black combat clothes made of the strange material in it. Making her way back to the main hall, she felt a fluttery feeling in her stomach. She wasn’t so sure about asking Brother Zachariah to do the ritual anymore, what if this just ends up getting Ichigo caught? What if Brother Zachariah was punished for aiding them to become parabatai? What if Ichigo couldn’t bare stronger Runes and becomes Forsaken during the ritual? Deep in thought, she crashed straight into Brother Zachariah himself. Zayla’s back hit the wall; she massaged her shoulders, squinting at the Shadowhunter before her. He looked just as she had remembered, deathly pale skin, shaved head with his eyes and mouth sewn shut.

I was told you wanted to speak with me, Zayla. His words echoed in her mind.

You said you owed me a favour. I recall it now.

What is this favour? Mind, it must be within my power.

Yes, it is, I need you to perform a parabatai ritual. The other is not Nephilim, though he can bare Runes.

That is against the Clave.

But you need to know, our souls are linked already. A long pause stretched out, the Silent Brother must be searching her mind.

What you say is true. This boy, if he is not Nephilim how can he use Runes?

I don’t know. But I can tell you what he is. Zayla let her thoughts wander to her conversation with Ichigo when he explained that he was a Soul Reaper, she could telepathically feel Brother Zachariah listening and watching he memory.

Very well, I owe you. And you have called upon it, I cannot turn it down. What you are about to do, defies the Clave. Are you willing to accept punishment for your actions if the Clave finds they cannot accept this?

Yes. Will you be able to perform the ritual now?

Certainly, the boy will need to be present, of course.

Zayla beckoned for Brother Zachariah to follow, she walked to the door with him, noticing the dirty looks that Noritaka was giving her. They walked out onto the road; the evening air was chilly but relaxing and the sky was a pale lilac, indicating that it was going to be dark soon. She would have to walk all the way to the other end of town to Ichigo’s house.

“Hey, Zayla!” She looked up to see Ichigo standing on the stairs in front of them, he was inside his body. She frowned; the orange-haired boy was a pain, she had told him to go home, but here he was waiting for her. She waved at him to come down.

That is the boy? Brother Zachariah questioned. How had he known? Reading her thoughts he answered. I can sense it; his aura is very similar to yours, as you said your souls are already bonded. The parabatai bond will only make it stronger.

To Ichigo, Zayla and the man next to her seemed to be staring at each other. When the substitute Shinigami looked closer, he clocked that the figure next to her wasn’t human, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. He shuddered, it was creepy.

“Ichigo! Come, this is Brother Zachariah, he will be performing the ritual.” Zayla shouted. The boy jumped down from his position, making his way towards the pair, and then abruptly stopped. He and the Silent Brother appeared to be conversing telepathically. Once their conversation supposedly ended, Brother Zachariah set to work; he placed his hands on the grassy ground and three rings of fire appeared.

Zayla, step inside the left ring. Ichigo, the right.

The two glanced each other, Zayla smiled nervously before doing what she was told. Ichigo watched her take her place, before doing so himself. The blue-haired girl took her stele from her pocket and fingered the shape anxiously.

Now, both of you - step into the centre ring together.

The Nephilim and Shingami entered the ring, staring at each other. Zayla swallowed hard, she brought the stele to the exposed skin on his chest right above the heart. Here goes everything. She drew the symbol, her hands moving on their own, until a dark Rune was Marking Ichigo. The other gently took the stele from her and drew the same Rune onto the girl, who could feel her heart beating soundly against the chest. Ichigo brought his eyes to meet gold orbs, then said the words the bound them together against all odds.

Entreat me not to leave thee,

Or return from following after thee—

For whither thou goest, I will go,

And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.

Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.

The Angel do so to me, and more also,

If aught but death part thee and me.

 

There is a flaw in this oath, thought Ichigo, because not even death will separate us.

Chapter Text

The ring of fire died down, Brother Zachariah observed as the parabatai stood silently with bated breath. Zayla’s face broke into a smile and she threw her arms around Ichigo, who was now grinning. As the Silent brother watched the scene he remembered another place, in another time where two boys stood in each other’s arms, without a care in the world. Because all that mattered was being in their parabatai’s presence. For the first time in decades, Brother Zachariah felt emotion. He felt longing. Zayla and Ichigo broke their embrace; she told him to wait while she talked to Brother Zachariah and made her way to him.

Brother Zachariah, I would appreciate it if you didn’t inform the Clave of this.

I will not tell them, but it is likely they will find out.

Zayla mentally sighed, When they do, I’ll deal with it.

It will not be easy, you and your parabatai may face severe punishment.

Zayla tensed. I’ll figure something out. Thank you.

Till the next time we meet.

She mentally said her farewells then jogged to her parabatai. The sky was the colour of her hair and the streetlights glowed dimly, Ichigo stood tracing the Rune, as he did so Zayla felt warmth and comfort wash over her. The sensation was odd but she could have been trapped in the moment for eternity. They walked in a companionable silence, most of the time Ichigo felt isolated from everyone and everything. Yeah, he had friends but they never understood him completely. It was always him against the world and he was overwhelmed, but with his parabatai beside him, he felt invincible.

Zayla glimpsed at Ichigo who was scowling deeply, he seemed to be in lost in thought. She felt something heavy in her heart, a mix of pride and protectiveness. The pair strolled to Zayla’s house, the lights were switched on, and she could see shapes moving around. She took out her stele and drew a line through her Glamour Rune, to any humans, it would look like she appeared out of thin air.

“See ya.” Zayla called out over her shoulder as she strode to the door.

“Goodnight.” Ichigo smiled weakly and gave her a two-fingered wave, before walking off.

The Nephilim girl opened the door slowly to see her older brother waiting with his arms crossed, he looked really pissed. “Ah, hey there bro…” she greeted.

“Are you stupid?” Ken asked, Zayla flinched knowing what was coming at her. “I come home from uni, and you’re not here. Okay. So I wait for two-three hours, still, you don’t come. I call you and turns out you left your phone here. Its ‘effing ten at night! I was worried sick! What was I to do, of course I assumed the worst!”

Zayla knew better than to argue back, she hung her head. “Really, I’m sorry Ken. It was my fault, it won’t happen again.”

Ken’s shoulders slumped as he reached out and took her hand. “Come, eat dinner.”

Ken and Zayla sat at the table and ate dinner in peace, without Tomi fussing and complaining about the food. Once they finished Zayla rose from her seat to leave, when Ken called her.

“Zay, I got you a place a Karakura High School. Your uniform’s in your room.”

The Shadowhunter entered her room tiredly and noted the neatly folded school uniform sitting on her bed. She picked it up and placed it her closet, before sinking into the bed.

Zayla felt as if a huge burden had been placed on her shoulders, it wasn’t her parabatai, no, she wouldn’t have wished it to be any other way. But, now she had to be even more aware of the Clave, they could find out at any given time and… She closed her eyes, drifting into fitful sleep.

She was cornered, the Raum demons had surrounded her and blocked off any chance of escape she could’ve had. Amriel had disappeared, she was unarmed and terrified. A shrill laugh echoed around the room, it sounded familiar. Cold grey eyes bore into hers, savouring her fear and weakness, she recognised them. Of course, she would recognise the eyes of her father. The figure moved towards her at a leisurely pace, the light of his seraph blade shone brightly. “Isn’t it sad how such an angelic weapon is going to kill such a filthy creature.” The voice drawled, closing in on the space. She screamed.

Someone was shaking her awake she opened her eyes to grey orbs. No, her father was after her, he was going to kill her.

“Zay!” called a child’s voice. Zayla stared at a chubby face and brown hair, her brother, Tomi. “You’re gonna be late for school!”

“Alright, Tomi, why don’t you get ready and I can drop you off?” At this the little boy leapt off the bed and ran out of the room giggling. The girl let out a sigh of relief; she was getting way too paranoid.

 


 

Ichigo walked to school feeling incomplete, as if a piece of him was missing. It was though, his parabatai wasn’t with him. Yesterday, when he came home, Rukia sat observing his every move. She had asked what the tattoo on his chest was; he had to then explain that he now had a parabatai bond with Zayla. The substitute Shinigami had expected her to scold him for being too rash and rushing into things but she simply nodded, saying it only made sense to do so as their reiastu was already laced.

The moment he entered the classroom, Keigo sprinted towards him in a vain attempt to hug his friend, only to be elbowed in the face. He greeted Uryuu, Orihime and Chad absentmindedly, before slumping into his chair. The orange-haired boy gazed out the window wearily, then almost immediately perked up at the familiar spiritual pressure. Zayla. He glanced up to see his parabatai stroll through the door looking rather beat.

“This is our new transfer student.” The homeroom teacher turned to the girl. “Why don’t you introduce yourself?”

 “My name is Zayla Krieger.” She said to the class, before seating herself next to Orihime. She sneaked a glimpse at Ichigo and smirked at him.

Sometime during the lesson, Rukia sensed a Hollow; she mouthed it to Ichigo, who in turn excused himself from the lesson. Zayla, detecting that something was wrong followed after him. He popped soul candy into his mouth, separating his soul from his body. Kon ran back into lesson, while Zayla drew a Glamour rune onto her wrist.

“Hollow?” She asked.

“Yeah, near the school as well.” Ichigo answered.

The pair raced to the fields, to meet a creature the size of a two-storey building. It had the body of a serpent and wore the skeleton-like mask that marked it out as a Hollow. Squirting a black liquid from its mouth, it launched itself at them, only to have the parabatai leap out of the way. Ichigo hopped onto the branch of a tree waiting for the Hollow to make its move. Zayla ran in front of the monster vying for its attention, so Ichigo could attack it from behind, they had used this technique many times when fighting before. But at that exact moment, everything seemed to be in slow motion as the Hollow spun around, knocking Ichigo to the ground. Zayla watched on in horror as the monster slithered towards her parabatai, its claws extending ready to attack. No, the Shadowhunter sped to Ichigo who lay, helpless, on the floor his zanpakto had been knocked to the side. She stepped in front of him, shielding his body with hers, just in time as the serpent slashed its talons across her body. Zayla opened her mouth, but the scream of agony came from behind. Before she could tend to him, the Hollow lunged again but this time its talons met a metal rod. She pushed the spear through its mask, turning it to black dust.

Panting, she turned to her parabatai. A long cut ran from his right shoulder to left hip, much like hers, though he seemed to be in more pain. Zayla dropped to her knees, agony was etched into his face, and he let out a cry. She could feel hurt ripping at her heart; the girl couldn’t bear seeing her soul-mate suffering so much. After grabbing her stele, she drew an iratze onto his bicep, looking on as his cut slowly stopped bleeding and closed up. Ichigo’s breathing became more even and he brought his eyes up to meet hers, just as he was relaxing, he noticed the long slash down Zayla’s front.

“Zay…” He wheezed, reaching for the stele in her hand. The Soul Reaper Marked her with the Healing rune. They sat back, exhausted from the fight, glaring at the spot where the Hollow once stood.

“How did your wound…?” Ichigo asked, unable to think of the right words. Zayla had already figured it out; parabatai could normally feel the pain of their other half, but the reason for Ichigo actually being inflicted with the wound and feeling the pain more intensely was probably because he was in his soul form. She was tormented to know she was the cause of his suffering and she certainly didn’t want to tell him the reason; it would only make him more concerned.

“I think it’s because of the parabatai rune, I’ve heard when the bond is first made, it can double the emotions that parabatai feel through the link. I’m sure it will become more stable through time.” Zayla answered avoiding eye-contact with him.

“How’re you feeling? Do you think we can go back now?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. You?”

“Never been better.” Ichigo stood offering a hand to Zayla, who took it, helping herself stand. She turned visible again by cancelling out her Glamour rune, the parabatai then returned to lesson, receiving odd stares. Ichigo took over his body, and proceeded as if nothing had happened. The Nephilim girl, however, couldn’t return to her calm demeanour, for one moment replayed itself in her mind; Ichigo’s agonised look, the blood that seeped through his cut. She never wanted to see that again, never wanted to see him suffering. And above all, she never wanted to be reason that he endured such pain.

“Miss Krieger, I very much doubt that those doodles in your book are algebra formulas.” The teacher’s voice brought her back to reality; she blushed before muttering an apology. Only when she glanced down at her sketches of random symbols, did she notice that one of them was glowing faintly. It was a feather shape with a swirly ‘Z’ running through the middle. She had never seen that Rune before, had she created it? If so, what was she last thinking about? The Runes Zayla designed was always inspired by something, a thought, a need…

Then it dawned on her, she was thinking about something that could prevent Ichigo from being inflicted with the same wounds that she had. Perhaps, this Rune did that? But, did it weaken their bond in the process, or did it prevent the wielder from feeling their parabatai’s pain? As Ichigo’s parabatai, she wanted to shoulder his suffering and if this Rune stopped that it would only add to her guilt. Well, there’s only one thing for it…

Hiding her hands under the table, she took out her stele and began Marking herself on the inside of her wrist, just above the veins. The girl then leaned back into her chair; she would have to find out what effect the Rune had.

Ichigo felt a dull ache coming from his parabatai Rune, he searched the room for Zayla and found her looking rather relaxed. It’s normal then, he thought, the bond is probably stabilising or something. The bell rang for lunch, pulling Ichigo from his thoughts.

Much to his friends’ amazement, Ichigo stood and sauntered over to Zayla. The pair conversed casually as though they had been friends for a long time. Orihime looked on in wonder, Ichigo had never been known as the friendly sort.

Ichigo and Zayla made their way to his friends; the orange-head introduced Uryuu, Orihime, Tatsuki and Chad to his soul-mate who nodded curtly. Zayla waved at Rukia, who responded with a smile. Uryuu thought the girl’s reiatsu was similar to Ichigo’s and observed quietly.

“ICHIGOOO!!!” Keigo sprinted over to the group to hug his friend, but ended up getting kicked in the face. The brunette hoisted himself up and regarded the parabatai. “Ichigo, I see you’ve found yourself a hot girl.” He wriggled his eyebrows for effect, only pissing off his friend more. Zayla’s eye twitched in irritation, refraining from punching a few teeth out of the guy.

“Krieger-kun, you know Kurosaki-kun?”Orihime asked, she looked between them wistfully, Ichigo seemed genuinely happy with her, his usual scowl replaced with a grin.

“Eh, yeah, unfortunately.” Zayla replied, she eyed the red-head before her; Ichigo’s friends seemed different from other humans.

“Ichigo can be a pain in the ass.” Tatsuki stated.

“That’s an understatement.” Zayla glared at Ichigo.

“Betrayal.” Ichigo mumbled. “You’re meant to be on my side, Blueberry.”

“Don’t call me that, besides I’m only telling the truth, Strawberry.

The pair exchanged insults back and forth getting in each other’s faces, threateningly. Ichigo’s group of friends watched the fight, bemused. The two seem to be quite close, Orihime thought, perhaps they’re together? She shook the thought from her head, the red-head had assumed the same of Rukia and Ichigo, but they were just friends.

“Uh, Ichigo, since when did you get a tats?” Keigo asked, pointing at teen’s chest. “You’re twinning with Zayla!” The group scanned the two, while Keigo continued to cry. “Whyyyy? It’s not fair, everyone keeps leaving me behind! Whyyyyy…”

Ichigo rolled his eyes at his depressed friend, but Zayla was finding it hard to resist smacking him. I will not murder Ichigo’s friend. I will not murder Ichigo’s friend. The substitute Shinigami could feel his parabatai finding it hard to refrain from launching herself at Keigo, so he gestured for her and Rukia to leave with him.

“You have some serious anger management problems.” He said to Zayla once they reached the roof.

“Your friend was really pissing me off. Just the ‘thy people shall be my people’ part of the oath stopped me from committing homicide.” The Nephilim replied.

“How’re you going to explain the tattoos to your friends?” Rukia asked.

Zayla shrugged, casting her gaze to the floor because Ichigo was staring at her intently. “What’s that Rune on your wrist? It wasn’t there before, and it’s emitting a strange…aura.”

“It’s the…umm Stamina Rune.” She didn’t meet his eyes while speaking. Ichigo nodded in understanding, if he thought something was off, he didn’t show it. Suddenly, Zayla’s head jolted up, she Marked herself with a two different Runes, one that Ichigo recognised as the Glamour Rune, and before dropping from the top of the building to the floor to the ground, snapped her head to her parabatai and said, “I sense another Nephilim, I can deal with it. Don’t follow me, Ichi.”

Rukia and Ichigo watched in shock as the other girl took off in the direction of the school gates. The Soul Reaper was about to run after her, when Rukia grabbed him by the arm. “Let me go, Rukia. She might need help.” He hissed.

“Idiot, she said stay here, so she obviously knows what she’s dealing with. Besides, you can sense if she’s in danger, right?” Ichigo gritted his teeth in frustration but stayed by Rukia’s side.

 


 

As Zayla walked to the school gates, she saw a tall male figure with dark hair, dressed in Shadowhunter gear, his amber eyes narrowed as she walked towards him.

“Ah, Noritaka, for what reason could you possibly waste your precious time?” She asked sarcastically, recalling their last conversion.

“Came to check on you.” He frowned at her mockery.

“Aww, isn’t that sweet?”

“I meant to say, I don’t trust you.”

“My heart bleeds in despair.” Before she could say anything more, his fist closed around the collar of her shirt tightly.

“Shut up, filthy scum.” He snarled, bringing his face to hers, intimidatingly. “I didn’t think the Kriegers could get any lower, till I met you.”

“Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me.” She snapped through gritted teeth.

“Or else what?” A sly smile crept onto his face. “You gonna kill me, trash?” Zayla knew he was goading her to fight back. If she hurt him, it would only give the Clave more reason punish her.

“You piece of shit, didn’t you hear what I said?”

Noritaka fastened his hand around her neck, choking her. “Filth like you shouldn’t even exist. Nephilim and Faerie.” He spat the word out like it was poison.

“Let Zayla go.” Said a voice. Both Noritaka and Zayla twisted their heads around to see Orihime standing a few meters away, with a determined look on her face. The Nephilim pair were shocked that the red-head could see through their Glamour Rune, Noritaka so much so that he let go of Zayla, who stumbled back.

“Orihime? Wh-what are you doing here?” She asked the other girl.

“Are you alright Zayla? Me and Tatsuki saw that this person was bothering you, so we came here straight away.” She glared at Noritaka, the boy had got over his shock and was now scowling at Orihime like she was the dirtiest thing he had ever seen.

Zayla, however just stared at her. “Tatsuki?” she asked just as a yelling Tatsuki attempted to fly-kick the Shadowhunter boy, but he just caught her by the ankle. He closed his hands around her ankle, in a crushing force. Tatsuki yelled out in pain and Orihime started towards her friend, but Zayla held out her arm to stop the girl.

“How about I break the mundane’s ankle, eh?” He asked Zayla, smiling sickly.

“Noritaka, you dare do that and…” Zayla clenched her fists tightly. Noritaka, who saw this, smiled even wider.

“Oh, is the princess gonna punch me? Beat me to a bloody pulp?” At his response, Zayla smirked. If he was thinking about what she was thinking about, then this would work out nicely.

“Sed lex, dura lex.” She replied. It meant the ‘the law is hard, but it is the law”. “The Clave would not be happy if you break a mundane’s leg.”

Noritaka growled at her, letting go of Tatsuki’s ankle. Giving a look of pure hatred over his shoulder, he took off. Zayla sighed in relief, shoulders slumping. She was somewhat used to this hatred not only was she a Krieger, she was part Downworlder, but it had never got physical. Zayla had thought that coming to Japan would reduce the damage, even if only a little, but no such luck. The Nephilim girl lifted her head as her parabatai and Rukia ran to her.

“Hey, Zay!” He shouted, waving his arms in the air to get her attention, panting, he stopped in front of her. “You OK?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Zayla muttered. She proceeded to grab him and get him back to class when Orihime decided to speak on her behalf.

“Oh, Ichigo, me and Tatsuki came here when we saw a guy grabbing Zayla by the neck, he looked like he was going to hit her.” Ichigo tensed as Orihime spoke on. The girl has to go and give every explanation in so much goddamned detail.

“Is that true, Zayla?” Ichigo asked, his eyes flashing in anger.

“No.” She murmured, lowering her head, unable to meet her parabatai’s eyes. She felt like shoving Orihime’s face into the school dustbins, see how her innocent little face looked covered in rotten juice.

“It’s true” Tatsuki said, limping towards them. “The bastard took off when Zayla said something to him in another language.” Ichigo turned his attention back to his parabatai, taking her by her shoulders, he shook her gently.

“Zayla, tell me, who was it? When I get my hands on him – ” Zayla slapped his arms off, pushing him in the chest.

“What are you going to do, Ichigo? Fight him? I wonder what they would do when they see that!” She hissed pointing at the Rune above his heart. He opened his mouth to speak, only to be shoved out of the way. Fuming, Zayla walked back to the school, she could hear Ichigo starting behind her, but Rukia stopped him.

That idiot, she thought, what does he think he could do? Even she couldn’t lift a finger against Noritaka, she knew the consequences were greater than the benefits. They would both be stripped of their Runes which would be painful, not to mention the inhumane torture techniques. The Silent Brothers could drive a man to madness, break his mind to fragments. Clenching her fists in anger, she seated herself in her chair. Zayla sat through the lessons; she was seriously pissed at the situation she had got herself into.

When the bell rang, signalling the end of the day, Zayla stood, getting ready to leave when Ichigo called after her. She wanted to ignore him and walk away, but it was hard to stay angry at him for long. Ichigo placed his arm on her should, leaning on it for support.

“Sorry, Ichigo.” She said. “I just got really vexed.”

“So are you going to tell me why you got so vexed?” He asked.

“The guy’s name is Noritaka Fuyumi.” She explained when she had met him in the Karakura Institute. “Right now, he was goading me into fighting him. I’m not stupid; it was obvious he did that so I get punished by the Clave.”

“How do the Clave punish people?” He asked. Zayla didn’t answer, the last thing she needed was having her parabatai worry about being driven insane.

The pair was walking to Ichigo’s house when they felt a crushing spiritual which brought them down to their knees, when the pressure slowly subsided they ran in the direction it had been coming from. After a few minutes they found themselves in front of Ichigo’s house. Zayla threw a worried glance at her parabatai; she felt the panic raising in her chest as the two entered the house cautiously. Ichigo was in his Soul Reaper form, his Zanpakto drawn before him. He hoped that his family was safe; if his sisters were attacked by a hollow… he shook his head at the thought. No, this spiritual pressure was different from that of a hollow.

The parabatai sneaked into the house taking in the damage to the walls, the same spiritual pressure lingering in the air, they stared at each in horror at the blood splattered on the floor. Ichigo’s hands were trembling as he took in the pools of red liquid; he sunk to his knees, his blade clattered onto the floor. Zayla’s legs felt weak as she hurried around the house looking for Karin and Yuzu. She heard whimpering coming from the en suite in the master bedroom. Her chest was heavy with hope as she twisted the door handle open, if not for her years of boxing training she would’ve been hit on the head with a hammer.

“Karin?” Zayla asked her voice soft as she eyed the raven-haired girl before her, then looked behind her shoulder at a cowering Yuzu. “Yuzu?”

“Ohh, Zayla” The brown-haired girl flung her arms around the Shadowhunter’s waist. “Dad’s gone!”

“Isshin?” The twins nodded grimly. She gestured for both girls to follow her into the living room. Ichigo, who was now in his body, looked up, his distraught face relaxed as he saw his sisters. He held them close; the sisters buried their faces into his chest and sobbed.

Ichigo pulled away from the embrace, looking his sisters in the eye as he asked. “What happened? Where’s Pops?”

“We came home and Dad told us to hide in the bathroom and arm ourselves. He didn’t say what was going on, Yuzu hid in there and I came to see what was going on. I saw these strange people who were wearing black kimonos and wielding swords, they took Goat Face with them.” Karin said. The parabatai glanced at each other, thinking the same thing. Soul Society.

“Karin was telling me when you came, Zayla!” Yuzu told them through her sobs. “That’s why she attacked you.” Karin gave her an apologetic look. Ichigo sat on the sofa and talked to them quietly, while Zayla watched from a distance. Her phone rang twice but she ignored it, deep in thought. What could the Soul Society want from Isshin Kurosaki? He was human and they were Shinigami, what could possibly have happened for them to take him.

Her phone rang again; Ichigo looked up from the sofa where Yuzu and Karin were now sleeping. “You better answer it, could be important.” Ichigo watched as Zayla answered and grew impatient, she appeared to be getting more irritated by the minute. He was glad that nothing had happened to his sisters, they were safe and that’s what mattered. But he felt uneasy at the thought that his father had been taken by Soul Reapers, Isshin was hiding something and there was more than what meets the eye. He would just have to find out a way to get Goat Face back. “What was it?” he questioned as he saw Zayla stuffing her phone back into her pocket.

“The Council has called an emergency meeting of all Shadowhunters to the Idris. Naturally, I wouldn’t need to attend the meeting itself; only Nephilim over the age of 18 have to. But “as the situation calls for all members to be present” they keep pestering me to come.”

“Why, what’s this emergency?”

“Tomasz has Mortal Cup, but that move was already predicted. They demand me to attend the meeting, apparently “my contribution is necessary”, but don’t I already know what that means.” Zayla snorted at their weak excuse to bring her there, she knew they suspected her of siding with her father.

“Go if you need to, I can look after my sisters.” Ichigo replied as her phone rang again, Zayla answered it once more. She swore into the phone before meeting the substitute Soul Reaper’s eyes.

“Sorry, Ichigo, I have to go. I’ll be back as soon as possible, probably by midnight.” She called over her shoulder and opened the door to leave.

The Shadowhunter walked swiftly to the Institute, it was getting dark already. Why couldn’t her life be peaceful for once? Of course she was a Shadowhunter, and she killed demons, but it was never just as easy as that. The Nephilim were preparing for an upcoming war with her father, and she most likely won’t be able to fight if she was helping her parabatai search for Isshin. Things were only about to get a whole lot more complicated. She and Ichigo were torn between the three worlds, The World of The Living, The Shadow World and The Soul Society, now too. The girl stopped and looked up at the high-rise in mild annoyance before entering the building.

However, she did not notice the figure that lurked in the shadows, watching her every move.

Chapter Text

Zayla had arrived in Idris from the Karakura Institute almost an hour ago, yet, the meeting the Consul had called for hadn’t started. The girl was losing her patience, her parabatai needed her now, and here she was waiting for a meeting on something that was already expected. She glared at the group of Shadowhunters gathered before her; there were representatives from enclaves and conclaves from around the world. The way they dressed and spoke hinted their origins.

“Is the meeting going to start or not?” She snapped, crossing her arms over her chest, leaning against the wall at the back of the large room. This hall was designed so that even the quietest whispers where heard loudly in the room.

“It will start shortly; we are waiting for the members of the Los Angles Institute.” The Consul responded. Zayla rolled her eyes to show that she was uninterested. She saw the Blackthorns walk through the door, Andrew with his children, Mark and Helen. Zayla found she could relate with the Blackthorn twins, like her, they were both part Faerie; their mother had been Lady Nerissa of the Seelie Court. The Carstairs family followed the trio into the room. She gave the Blackthorn twins a curt nod before scowling at the Inquisitor, urging him to start the meeting.

“As you now know, Tomasz Krieger is in possession of the Mortal Cup.” The Inquisitor pointedly glanced at Zayla as if it were her fault. “We were somewhat expecting it to happen and took precautions to hide it, however, we found that they have been ineffective in preventing Tomasz from stealing it. We are now going to send an investigation team consisting of the Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, Magnus and Zayla Krieger.”

“What?!” Zayla practically shouted. Everyone in the room glared at her coldly.

“You are part of the investigation squad to locate and retrieve the Mortal Cup.” The Consul stated, looking at her suspiciously.

“But you never said that in the original plan! It was meant to be the Lightwoods and Blackthorns!” The Nephilim girl sputtered furiously.

“So you do not want to aid your friends on this mission?” The Consul asked, in response Zayla shook her head. “What could be more important than retrieving the Mortal Cup from your father to prevent a war?”

“Aiding her father in said war?” Noritaka asked innocently. The blue-haired girl growled at him, but others in the room were nodding in agreement. Some of the former followers of her father were shifting uncomfortably, shooting looks of accusation at Zayla.

“Why is she in the war council? She could be a spy.” Noritaka said, his words met people booing, calling out ‘Traitor’ and ‘Downworlder Scum’. The Consul and Inquisitor remained quiet, observing the scene that was taking place. Robert Lightwood raised his eyebrow waiting for an answer. When Zayla looked around the room, she saw Noritaka giving her a triumphant look. Her face was flushed in anger and she felt as if she was summoned here simply to be humiliated.

“How about standing by your parabatai’s side when they need you the most?” She questioned, her fists clenched her sides. The girl was furious; she had come all the way from Karakura, leaving Ichigo stressed and worried and here she was being insulted.  

At this the Consul seemed taken aback. “You have a parabatai, Miss Krieger? I don’t have records of such parabatai or ceremony.”

Zayla pulled aside her shirt to reveal the Runes that bonded her to Ichigo. “Of course you don’t.” She heard gasps from those who knew her well like Isabelle, Alec and Mark.

“Who is it? Which Institute?” The Inquisitor demanded. After seeing the girl growing tense and her expression harden, Jia Penhallow’s voice was cold when she asked. “Is your parabatai even Nephilim?”

“Fuck no.” The Shadowhunter girl replied.

Silence. The Consul stood and looked her in the eye, he looked disgusted. “You made a parabatai bond with a mundane?” 

Zayla figured it would be best to avoid telling them exactly what Ichigo was. It wouldn’t bode well if she revealed them that he was Shinigami, then have to explain to the Council what she meant. “Who said they are a mundane?”

“If they’re not human, then what are they?”

“Why do you need to know?” As soon as those words left her mouth, the room erupted. People stood and shouted accusations and the Consul was glowering at her. Inquisitor Penhallow glared daggers at Zayla before writing something onto paper.

“You will go on trial with your parabatai and may be severely punished. The trial will not take place immediately as the Council is preparing for the upcoming war, however, you will receive a sentence seen fit by both the Consul and myself after the war.”

The Krieger gritted her teeth in frustration. Great, she thought, I go around warning everyone about the Clave finding out, and then go blab it myself.

She strolled to the door, flung it open and exited the meeting. Making her way down to the courtyard, images of torture and imprisonment in the City of Bones played through her mind. Zayla had gotten herself into another mess and there seemed to be no way of getting out of this one. Abruptly, a piercing pain shot through her right shoulder, her parabatai Rune glowing brightly in the dark hallway. Shit, Ichigo. He must be in some sort of trouble.

 


 

 

Ichigo fell to his knees; his shihakusho was soaked in blood. The redhead that stood before him had run through his left shoulder with his blade, Zabimaru, he called it. Ichigo didn’t know that Soul Reaper’s named their Zanpakto.  

“So tell me, what’s the name of that monstrosity?” Renji sneered.

“Huh, what’s it name?” Ichigo asked.

“You didn’t even ask did you?”

“What, you mean Rukia? Wait, are you telling me you all name your swords?”

“I knew it! You’re not even able to ask your Zanpakto its name. And you really think you can fight me as an equal? Come back in two thousand years!” He held out his sword, placing his hand over it. “Roar, Zabimaru. Now open your eyes, see what lies before you and fall upon your prey!”

He jumped into the air and struck his blade it Ichigo’s shoulder and slowly pulled the extended sword out of the boy. “It’s all over you little runt, you lost to Renji Abarai and will die where you stand.”

“Sorry it’s ending this way kid, but that’s what’s known as a difference in strength. That’s because this Zanpakto can change its size and shape, it responds to its wielder’s spirit energy. How do ya like my spirit energy?” He positioned his blade in front of him. “Well this is it kid, it’s time for me to head out. I don’t like the way the air smells here.”

“Ready?” He waited for Ichigo to respond. “No answer, eh?” Renji yelled, bringing his sword down, only to have Rukia leap onto his back and cling onto his sword arm.

“Run, Ichigo, move!” Rukia shouted.

“What’re you doing Rukia?” The red-head attempted to pull his arm away. “Let go of me! Are you trying to make things worse for yourself? Fool!”

“Ichigo get out of here!” Rukia screamed. The substitute Soul Reaper saw a familiar figure standing in front of him. Tall, with bright blue hair and a bracelet glowing deep red. 

“Idiot, what do you think you’re doing?” Zayla asked Ichigo, holding onto her shoulder tightly. “You could’ve at least told me!” Both Renji and Rukia stared at the Shadowhunter that stood before them. 

“Who are you?” Renji asked. “A friend of this runt?” In one swift move, he threw Rukia off his back and brought Zabimaru down. Zayla stopped his sword in mid-air, bringing up her seraph blade to clash with his. “What the…?”

“Amriel!” The Nephilim girl yelled, her sword glowing bright gold, the light blinded Renji and Zayla made her move, slicing him across his left bicep. He jumped back a few metres in surprise, blood dripped from his arm.

“What are you? A Soul Reaper?” Renji demanded, his questions met no response. “Fine! I don’t need to know, I just need to kill you!” He advanced, slashing at the girl trying to find her weak spot. They exchanged slashes, moving back and forth. Dammit, this guy’s pretty good. One slow reaction and I’ll get skewered by his blade. The Soul Reaper swung his sword in an attempt to cut across her chest, but Zayla’s Amriel met his blade inches from her abdomen. An animalistic grin split the red-head’s face before Zabimaru extended and stabbed her through her stomach. She fell to her knees, gripping her side as blood gushed out of the wound. Fuck.

“Zayla!” Came Ichigo’s voice. “Damn you, bastard!” The girl’s parabatai rushed forward, intercepting Renji’s blade with his own from delivering the finishing blow. He positioned himself in front of her, shielding his soul-mate from the damage.

“You shouldn’t even be able to move, brat!” Renji bellowed, facing the substitute, both their swords drawn. The wind in the area stilled, before Ichigo’s spiritual pressure increased tremendously, moving swiftly he dove forward and sliced through Renji’s shoulder. Spinning back to Renji, he cut across and his face; breaking his head-band in half.

“I don’t understand what’s happening to me, but I like it! I feel no pain from my wounds, in fact, I feel totally invincible.” Ichigo said, grinning manically. He soared into the air and brought his Zanpakto down to Renji.

No one saw what happened, but when they looked again, Ichigo’s blade was nothing but a stump. A stump which he held above the Soul Reaper’s head. The orange-haired Shinigami glanced at Rukia’s brother, who now held the rest of his Zanpakto. It clattered to the floor, everyone looked at him in shock, the move was so quick no one even saw how he did it.

In a flash Rukia’s brother stood with his back facing Ichigo’s. Zayla gasped as she felt excruciating pain, she looked at her chest as blood spluttered from a cut that ran diagonally from her left shoulder to her side, right through her parabatai Rune. She watched as Ichigo fell forward, she only heard the second move, neither saw it nor felt it. Her parabatai dropped to the ground and a pool of blood surrounded him.

Move, Zayla, move. The Shadowhunter willed herself to stand, staggering over to where Ichigo lay. Captain Kuchiki looked at the bloodied girl as his hand reached for the hit of his Zanpakto.

“Please” Zayla said softly, crouching down to stroke her parabatai’s hair. “Don’t. He will…die soon.” She managed to get the words out, a streak of blood slid from the corner of her mouth. The Shadowhunter knew he could survive this; she could transfer the rest of her energy into him so he could get treatment from someone. The parabatai Rune itself may have been cut through but that didn’t mean it had affected the bond. An iratze wouldn’t work; it would use the energy drawn from his life force to heal, and right now he didn’t have much life left. Sure, if she gave him the rest of her energy, it would kill her but that didn’t matter. She swore an oath to protect him, and she would do so no matter what, even if it cost her life.

“Why prolong his suffering, child? Surely it would be mercy to end his life now?” Asked Captain Kuchiki, glaring at the girl knelt in front of him. Zayla simply shook her head. He noticed her wounds were the same as Ichigo’s.

“Brother Byakuya, please, Zayla is right. They would die in a few hours anyway.” Rukia begged.

To this, Byakuya nodded. “Very well. Renji come.” He took his Zanpakto and stabbed through the seemingly empty air, however, the tip disappeared. “Open.” He said twisted his blade in the air. A set of doors opened to another set of doors, this time the shape was circular. Behind these doors was a blinding light much like that of a portal. Byakuya stepped through with Renji and Rukia followed, the raven-haired girl shot one last look behind her. “Do not follow me, Ichigo, Zayla.” She said her last words before walking into the Senkaimon.

Zayla placed her fingertips over Ichigo’s parabatai Rune, closing her eyes she reached for the bond between her and Ichigo. Willing her remaining energy into the bond, she could feel the life draining out of her. The substitute Shinigami’s eyes fluttered open, but they were still lifeless, his breathing was ragged.

“Ah now, there’s no need for that.” Came a silky voice, chest full of hope, Zayla twisted around to see a figure in a green and white striped bucket hat wearing wooden clogs.

“Kisuke…” The girl muttered before falling forward onto the floor.

 


 

 

Ichigo woke staring up at Tessai’s face inches from his own, he tried moving but the man’s bulky body was above his own. The orange-haired boy screamed at the top of his lungs, to anyone who would walk in right now, this would look very wrong.

“Calm down, Ichi.” Said his parabatai. He looked up to see her standing in the door way, she had bags under her eyes and her hair was so pale it was almost white. Crossing her arms over her chest, Zayla observed him warily, her eyes moved over to Tessai. Ichigo saw something pass between them, like a silent demand, as the large man stood and sauntered out of them room. The Shadowhunter walked over to his futon and kneeled by it.

“Ichigo, I’m sorry.” She said, unable to meet his eyes. “I couldn’t defeat them, I couldn’t stop them from taking Rukia.”

“It wasn’t your fault; I got you caught up in all this mess.” Ichigo replied, sitting up.

“You can’t say that to your parabatai, dumbass! I’ll get involved whether you like it or not, I swore an oath.” Ichigo opened his mouth to reply, but Zayla held up her hand to silence him, bringing her eyes up to meet his. “I’ll get stronger, Ichigo. You said this to me, when we first met; you said you’ll protect me. Now, as your parabatai, it’s my turn to say it; I promise I’ll protect you and ones you love.”

Neither spoke for a moment. “You’re such a pain, you know that?” Ichigo sighed, running his fingers through his hair. The Nephilim smiled weakly at him.

“I’ve reached my limits as a Shadowhunter.” Zayla said slowly. “I’m…going to train to become a Soul Reaper.”

The orange-head’s mouth fell open. “Wait, what?! Is that even possible? I mean, I know Rukia gave me powers…” He looked down at his hands. “Am I even Shinigami anymore?” He asked in a quiet voice.

His parabatai shook her head, then seeing his expression, added quickly. “But you can become one.”

Ichigo frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Urahara offered to train us.” The substitute Soul Reaper still appeared to be confused so she reached out and placed the palm of her hand against the Rune on his chest. Her memories of the conversation with Kisuke played through his head.

Zayla and Urahara sat opposite each other at the table, coffee mugs in front of them.

“What can we do? Like you said his Soul Sleep and his Soul Chain have been destroyed, he has no Spiritual power. He isn’t Shinigami anymore!”

“We first restore the spiritual power he has lost. The process is harsh if it doesn’t work out, he will become a Hollow.”

“No way! How’s that gonna help?!”

“Trust me, it will.”

Zayla gritted her teeth in frustration. “Fine, I’ll go through these stages first.”

“Ah, well, you can’t.”

“What are you telling me I can’t be a Soul Reaper, now?”

“I told you before, you can. But you’re not used to being in Soul form, I’m not sure of the outcome.”

“What if he can’t, what if he becomes a Hollow?”

“You took a risk when you drew an iratze on him, didn’t you?  You’ll just have to believe in him. Besides, if your parabatai became a Shinigami first, it will be easier for you to become one. At least that’s my theory.”

“And if your theory doesn’t work?”

“Well then, you die and go to the Soul Society, where Rukia will be!” Kisuke said, hiding his smile behind his fan.

Ichigo gasped as Zayla dropped her hand from his Rune. “So it’s true, you can become a Soul Reaper.” Zayla rolled her eyes sarcastically at him.

The door behind them slid open, to reveal Kisuke and Tessai. “Ichigo, I see you’re awake! Now let’s start with restoring your spirit energy.” The shop-keeper said, gesturing for Ichigo to follow him. Zayla started to get up from her position on the floor, but Tessai placed a firm hand on her shoulder, pressing her down.

“Ah, Miss Krieger, I’m afraid you must stay here. You might be compelled to help him, and that just wouldn’t do.” Explained Kisuke, looking over at Tessai, he nodded.

“I’m sorry about this.” Tessai pointed his index finger between her brows and the girl fell forward, seemingly unconscious.

“It’s just a sleeping kido, nothing to worry about.” He said to Ichigo, signalling for the boy to follow him down an apparently unending ladder, which descended into darkness. Ururu and Jinta trailed the trio down into the basement, or rather, dessert.

“No way, this place is amazing! Who would’ve guessed all this time there is a huge subterranean training ground under my store?!”

Ichigo rolled his eyes. “Cut the crap, you obviously knew this place was down here. Though I will admit, it’s quite impressive.” He took in the landscape that surrounded him. “Can we just get on with the training?”

“Always be careful what you ask for.” Kisuke spun in his heels, brandishing his wooden cane he brought it up and slammed the base into his forehead. Ichigo flew back, the chain that was attached to his chest rattling in the wind.

“What was that all about? At least warn me - ” Ichigo clutched his chest, wheezing and gasping for air.

“It is rather hard to be in Soul form, right, Ichigo? Now without any spirit energy you’re just like any normal human soul.” He gestured over to Ururu. “It’s time to meet your opponent.”

“Hell no. I aint fighting her, she’s a kid.”

“I wouldn’t underestimate my opponents, Ichigo.” Kisuke tutted, as Ururu chased after him, attempting to punch him. Every time she came close, Ichigo would dodge her. Barely. Wait, if he could dodge her, then that meant his speed had returned. He turned around and threw punches at her but the little girl dodged it swiftly, until, he threw his last punch. Ururu swerved out of the way, but a small paper cut was now clear on his cheek. The girl’s eyes widened before she sent him soaring across the grounds, into a large rock.

“Well done, Ichigo! Lesson one is now completed!” Urahara beamed at his student before shoving him and Tessai into a deep pit behind them. The pair landed at the bottom with a loud crash. “All you have to do is climb up this shaft! Your Soul chain is being eaten away, if you don’t become a Soul Reaper before it is completely encroached, you will become a Hollow…and then we will really have to kill you.”

Squirmed on the floor, Ichigo soon realized that his arms had been tied together behind his back. And quiet tightly too. Damn it. How was he supposed even move, much less climb up the shaft? He glanced at his Soul chain; the worm-like creatures were eating away at the metal. Eventually struggling to his feet, he tilted his head back to look up. He had a long way to go, but he could make it. He had to. For Rukia’s sake, for his father’s sake.

The teen set his foot onto a small ledge, steading himself he dragged up his other foot to find another small dent of ledge to step onto. Instead of making any progress, he fell onto his back.

 


 

 

Three days later, Ichigo was still laying at the bottom of the pit. He had come to notice that the worms that had a routine. They would eat away at the chain for hours, then stop for a rest. The time during encroachment was painful; the only time he could do anything was when they were resting.

“Hey, mister, you’ve been down there for more that seventy hours! You sure you’re not hungry yet?”Jinta shouted, grinning. The little brat was obviously enjoying watching him suffer. “Oh and by the way, the final encroachment? It’s nothing like the other ones.”

Just as he finished speaking, all the chains turned into worms and rattled. Within seconds, they had all disintegrated and fell to the floor, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of his chest. The boy fell to his knees, and screamed. But the sound was gurgled as a something a white substance poured from his eyes and mouth. The pain was excruciating, it felt like all his insides were being pulled out of him slowly.

Ichigo opened his eyes, to someone calling his name. The voice was deep, male.

He took in his surroundings; he was sitting on a blue building, which was bordered by more tall blue buildings.

“Where am I?” He asked himself.

“Ichigo…” Called the same voice. Ichigo twisted around to see a middle-aged man standing on a thin metal pole. He was dressed in a tattered black cloak, the tail blew in the wind, his eyes were covered as he wore wrap-around sunglasses.

“Who are you?” Ichigo demanded.

“What are you talking about, it’s me -------- ” The teen glared at the man, he didn’t catch his name. “I see, so I still can’t reach you. How very sad. Perhaps you can tell me, how many times I must cry out before you can hear me. For there is no one in this world that knows me better than you do.”

“Huh? What’re you talking about? I’m sorry but unfortunately, I don’t know anyone as depressing as you are.” He looked at the man again, and found him standing on the pole, using one foot. “How do you…it’s like you’re just floating on air.”

“You surprise me, how can you just sit in a place like that?” Ichigo looked down at where he was sitting and fell backwards, he grabbed at the air but to no avail.

“Byakuya Kuchiki thought he could take away all your spiritual power by destroying your Soul sleep and your Soul chain. But he did not realize that you have Soul Reaper powers of your own, powers that were awakened when Rukia Kuchiki transferred her spirit energy into you. If you do not find those powers in time, you will become a hollow and leave Zayla Krieger living half alive, for your parabatai bond is not any normal one.” The buildings crumbled away and small identical white boxes rained down on them. “Hurry, this world is crumbling. In one of these boxes lies you Soul Reaper powers, find it.” And with that the man disappeared.

How was Ichigo going to find the right box, he knew he couldn’t sense spirit energy well. It just wasn’t his skill, but now he was going to become a hollow because he didn’t learn to sense spiritual energy. How was he going to find his Soul Reaper powers? Wait, how did Uryuu? He said something about Soul Reaper’s spirit energy being different. “Did you know… did you know a Soul Reaper’s spirit ribbon is red?” That’s it! His eyes skimmed over the white ribbons until he spotted the blood red ribbon that stood out and grabbed it. It was attached to the lid of a white box; inside the box was the hilt of a Zanpakto. He looked behind him, where the man he saw earlier floated; a faint glow was outlining him.

“You did well, Ichigo. Now, hurry, grab my hilt! This world was fading!” The teen did as he was told and snatched his Zanpakto out of its box. “Remember my name, it’s Zangetsu.”

Ichigo roared in pain, the white liquid was becoming hard like concrete; it was covering his entire body. Tessai shouted Bakudo and Hado incantations to seal the boy away. A sudden flash of light threw everyone back, balls of fire planted into the grounds. One humanoid shape landed with a thud as everyone waited for the smoke to clear. A lean figure wearing a shihakusho stood, his face was covered in a hollow mask. The only indication that the figure is Ichigo was his bright orange hair. Ichigo unsheathed his stump of a blade, bringing the hilt up to his face he smashed the mask into pieces.

“Well, it seems out favourite Carrot Top is a Soul Reaper again!” Exclaimed Jinta.

Chapter Text

Zayla felt numb, she was in a void, surrounded by nothingness. She felt nothing, no pain, no emotions. It was worse than anything; the Shadowhunter would’ve preferred to feel immense pain rather than numbness. Then all at once everything came flooding back colour, sound, light, everything was overwhelming. When she forced her eyes open she saw wood and realised that she was kneeling on the floor with her hands against it, holding herself up and stopping her from collapsing. She was breathing rapidly as her Runes dimmed to a greyish colour, the girl felt paralysed.  

Zayla heard the door sliding open she tried lifting her head, but couldn’t move her body an inch. She saw three pairs of feet in the doorway.

“Zay, you OK?” Ichigo asked rushing towards his parabatai. She started shaking uncontrobally as Tessai hefted the girl to her feet, she leant against the man unable the support herself. “What happened?”

The Shadowhunter coughed into her hand, which came away stained in blood. “Damn it.” It was worse than usual.

Few minutes later, after Zayla had refreshed herself, the group sat beside the futon looking rather anxious. The blue-head’s Runes had returned to their original state.  

“What was that about?” Ichigo picked at the edge of his shihakusho nervously.

“I have seizures sometimes.” Zayla started. “I get it when I use too many Runes, I’m not exactly sure why though.”

Kisuke raised an eyebrow at her response. “Why do you think you get them, surely you have an idea?”

“Er, well…” She scratched the back of her head anxiously. “I think it’s because I have Faerie blood; Downworlders can’t bare Runes, you see. Although Nephilim blood is dominant, I am part Downworlder.”

“So you’re guessing that’s the reason?” Zayla nodded in response to Kisuke’s question. “It does seem reasonable. So how many Runes did you use?”

The girl made a thoughtful face. “I honestly don’t know myself. I might have used quite a bit before coming to Karakura last night.” She noticed the look that the males between each other. “What?”

“Not last night, four days ago.” Tessai said.

“What the fuck?!” The Nephilim girl remembered how Tessai had used something to make her unconscious during Ichigo’s training. But four days? That was too much. “I was asleep for four goddamned days? Kisuke, you bastard!”

The shopkeeper just smiled goofily at her outburst. “It took Kurosaki three days to retain his Soul Reaper powers.” He shrugged before continuing. “If you were awake during that time, it could’ve been disastrous for all of us.”

That didn’t stop Zayla from planting a kick in his face that sent him flying into the wall. “So when do I start my training?”

“Well, that would be now.” Kisuke turned his attention to Ichigo. “Ichigo, we need to put a sleeping kido on you.” The orange-haired Shinigami opened his mouth to protest, but Tessai slammed the palm of his hand against the boy’s forehead, causing his to fall into deep sleep.

Kisuke, Tessai and Zayla made their way down to the subterranean basement. Having a new student to boast to, the shopkeeper shouted the same thing he had to Ichigo. “Oh my! How on earth, did this subterranean dessert end up in my basement?!”

This time however, the girl wasn’t so impressed. “Eh, I’ve seen better and bigger.” She replied. “Can we just get on with the training?” As soon as she said that, Kisuke planted the base of his cane into her chest, splitting her soul from her body.

“You are in your soul form. Now, we start lesson one!” The shopkeeper brought forth Jinta and let him chase her, though not as fast as he had let Ururu chase Ichigo. The girl isn’t used to being in Soul Form so overworking her could lead to some terrible consequences. In the first few minutes she kept tripping over her own Soul chain. Eventually though, the teen could run as fast as she could in her body, so Kisuke allowed Jinta throw punches at her, she dodged each one and neatly used an upper-cut on the boy to clear the lesson.

“So, Kisuke, why are you helping us?” Zayla asked after the first lesson. “I find it hard to believe that you would do it from the kindness of your heart.”

At this, Urahara ran to Tessai and slammed the sides of his fists against the other man’s chest. “Oh, the girl questions my generosity! How cruel!” He wailed. Zayla grunted, sometime the perverted shopkeeper reminded her of Ichigo’s father.

“I’m sorry I asked.” She muttered, not really meaning it at all. Kisuke stopped his ‘tantrum’ and smiled the same annoying goofy smile.

“Our next lesson is very difficult.” Just as he said that the ground beneath her feet disappeared and she fell into a deep pit with Tessai following. “You will have to climb up this raft before your chain is completely eaten away. If you fail to do so, you will become a Hollow, you have seventy-two hours before that happens. Good luck!” He added, cheerfully.

This shouldn’t be too hard, she thought to herself. That was, until she tried moving her arms to find them bound behind her back. She shuffled a bit to see Tessai sitting Indian-style on the ground a few metres away, he held his hands out in front.

“It’s a kido for binding, if you become a Hollow, you will be violent and dangerous. It’s best in your arms are tied.”

“How the hell am I supposed to get up the raft like this?” She asked, frustrated, but Tessai didn’t answer. Kisuke wasn’t kidding when he said that this was going to be difficult.

 

Urahara had been sitting in the basement for almost three whole days; he had to close the shop, seeing all four of them were busy.

“Is the missy gonna make it? She doesn’t have long left, you know. I think she’s gonna become a Hollow.” Jinta said.

“Don’t say that Jinta, I’m sure she’ll pass this lesson.” Ururu answered quietly. Jinta smacked the girl upside her head and the two started arguing. Kisuke sighed. He wasn’t sure about the outcome; he had never met a Shadowhunter before though in the short time he had, he researched as much as he could about the Shadow world. It wasn’t much and the idea of crossing the line from part angel to Shinigami had never –

 He was brought back from his thoughts to the sound of screaming. “It’s begun.” He muttered to himself.

 

The pain that followed her Soul chain being completely eaten away was unlike anything else, it made her seizures seem like paradise. It felt like someone grabbed her heart and squeezed it until in exploded. Now, her other organs were being torn to shreds while white liquid oozed out from her mouth and eyes. She screamed in agony, beating her fists into the ground.

Zayla opened her eyes to stars. They dotted the night sky they burned with passion, like fire. No, not the night sky. It looked more like space, but there were no planets. She realised that she lying on a raft made of… It wasn’t made of anything, the raft itself was light. It didn’t burn, but it was almost blinding in an entrancing sort of way. Looking around, there were more light rafts dotting the sky like stepping stones. In the distance, there stood a tall, lean young man in his early twenties. Angel would be more suitable to describe him, except he didn’t have wings. He had short blonde hair and tanned skin; he wore a simple white cloak lined in what seemed to be a pale gold fire. In lightning speed, he moved to stand right before her. Zayla saw his face was striking, eyes the colour of blue fire and high cheekbones.

“I was wondering when I would see you, Kaiyō.” He said in a honey voice. Kaiyō? Only the members of the Seelie Court called her that.

“Do I know you?” She asked.

He chuckled lightly. “Of course you do.” She glared at him blankly. “I am your Zanpakuto Spirit.”

The girl remembered what Kisuke had taught her about Shinigami. “So this is my Inner World?”

“Yes, listen to me” He started as the stars started raining down on them, up closer they looked like orbs of light. “Your parabatai is most important to you, right? In one of these orbs, lies your parabatai bond. Find it, if you do not, you will lose him and everything will fade.” The spirit dissolved into light as did all the light rafts.

Zayla found herself falling through the sky into the turquoise ocean below, she’d expected the surface of the water to be like concrete but it was soft, like hitting a pile a feathers. The orbs were littered around her, sinking in the water. How was she supposed to find the one orb amongst the thousands here that contained her bond? It seemed impossible, yet if she didn’t find it, she would lose Ichigo. The thought itself was enough to uncoil the panic in her stomach. She reached out to touch one of the orbs, only to have it disintegrate at her touch. All these spherical objects appeared to be so fragile; all started slowly fading once they hit the water. How could her bond be so fragile, so weak?

That’s it. None of these orbs could possibly be her bond.

“That’s right. Your parabatai bond is part of your soul, it can’t be destroyed so easily. I doubt even the Clave themselves can destroy yours and Ichigo’s link.” Zayla’s eyes widened in shock. Her spirit brandished a large sword. It was the same pale gold as his hair, a metre long and twenty centimetres in width, the hilt placed in the middle on the base of the sword. The hilt itself was black with Runes designs etched onto it. The very edges of the sword were silver and seemed to reflect light. Holding out the hilt for her to take it, he stoked the girl’s hair affectionately. “Take the hilt. My name is Raitoenjeru, little one. Remember it.”

Zayla’s hands closed around the beautiful hilt. Raitoenjeru.

Tessai watched as the white substance covered the girl, encasing her inside the body of a large lion-like hollow. He held out his hands in front of him and started muttering a kido incantation. Tessai didn’t want to kill the Shadowhunter but the emerging Hollow before him didn’t leave him much choice. Just as he was about to fire the kido, a beam of light shot down from above and blinded him for a second. In that time, the Hollow disappeared and reappeared on the surface. Jinta and Ururu tensed as Kisuke reached for his cane. Suddenly the body of the Hollow cracked and fell to the ground in small pieces, the mask vanished to leave Zayla standing in a sleeveless shihakusho [1] with her sword strapped to her back using a single chain of light.

“Hey Kisuke!” she called running towards the surprised shopkeeper while grinning. “You best be prepared, cause I’m gonna kick your ass.”  

Jinta snickered, glancing at Kisuke. “I didn’t you were gonna make it missy.” He said before relaxing on a rock.

“So, Zayla, do you know the name of your Zanpakuto?” Kisuke asked as Tessai emerged from the pit.

“Yeah, he’s called Raitoenjeru.” She responded.

“As in Light Angel?” Zayla nodded. Then remembering that Ichigo was still sleeping, she hurried to the basement ladder.

“I’ll go and get Ichigo to train with me, that way we can both kill you together.” Tessai followed the girl up to the shop.

Climbing up the ladder, she felt overjoyed. Zayla was worried that if she turned into a Hollow, she would kill everyone she loved. Now, there was nothing to worry about apart from getting into the enemies headquarters, finding Rukia and Isshin then getting out of there alive. Easy.

She slid the door open and found Ichigo sleeping there blissfully, without his permanent scowl on his face, he looked quite peaceful. Tessai lifted his sleeping kido off the substitute Soul Reaper to have him jumping up, appearing to be alerted. Once Ichigo saw his parabatai in her shihakusho, he grinned like a candy-high five-year-old. Together they set off to train together.

 

Chad and Orihime were sparring in an old warehouse. The strenuous training was wearing her out and it wasn’t like Mr. Yoruichi allowed any ‘puny excuses’. Orihime knew she just wasn’t a combat fighter, she didn’t like hurting people even if it was to defend herself; Tsubaki was always complaining that the girl didn’t use him enough. She preferred using her healing powers; all she needed to do now was perfect it. At least I’ll be of some use to Ichigo, and we can all save Rukia together. She was snapped out of her thoughts when Mr Yoruichi started calling her.

“Orihime, I was telling to improve your stance and move quicker.” The cat said.

“Oh sorry, Mr Yoruichi” She laughed nervously. “I was just thinking about what Ichigo and Uryuu are doing.”

“Well, Ichigo and Zayla are training with their Zanpakutos and Uryuu is refining his Quincy powers.” The pair nodded in understanding, then Orihime voiced her thoughts.

“Mr Yoruichi, how do Ichigo and Zayla know each other?”

“They’re parabatai, soul-mates, Ichigo saved her life when she was fighting a Hollow.” Said Yoruichi.

Soul-mates? Does she mean what I think she means? Once again she was brought out from her thoughts, but this time with Yoruichi leaping onto her shoulder and planting his claws into the girl. “Owwww, Mr Yoruichi, what was that for?”

“Pay attention!” He growled, pointing a paw at the now advancing Chad, who was about to aim his armoured arm at her. The red-head screamed and brought her Santen Kesshun forth to block the attack just inches from her face. Phew, that’s was close. The pair continued to spar and perfect their powers, they both knew it would take everything they have to save Rukia and get out of the Gotei 13 alive.

 

Kisuke had opened the Senkaimon in the basement of his store, now everyone stood before it, determination written on their faces. Ichigo and Zayla were in their Soul Reaper form with their Zanpakutos slung on their backs in shikai-mode, Chad, Uryuu and Orihime were wearing casual clothes that would make them stick out like a sore thumb.

“Now when you enter the Dangai, just keep running towards the light at the end. Once you jump out, you’ll be in front of the Seireitei.”

Everyone in the group nodded before walking through the Senkaimon as Urahara wished them good luck. The precipice world looked like a dark cave, the walls on either side of the group was made of something resembling wax. As they stood observing the Dangai, with a thrumming sound getting louder, the group realised how much they needed the luck. Ichigo watched, dumbfounded, as a large spherical boulder rolled towards them. They didn’t even need to be told what to do, spinning on their heels, every one of them ran for their lives.

“What is that thing?” Ichigo shouted.

“It’s called the Cleaner; it comes through the Dangai once every seven days. It’s just our luck that it’s here today.” Mr Yoruichi replied.

“And Kisuke forget to tell us this? I bet he’s laughing his ass off right now!” Zayla yelled over to the cat.

“Just run!” A door of light could now be seen. “We’re almost there!” They were so agonisingly close, but the Cleaner was right on the heels. Zayla and Ichigo, who were at the back, could literally feel the surface of the large boulder rubbing against their ankles. Holy crap, we’re doomed, Ichigo thought, and we haven’t even got into the Seireitei yet.

Everyone watched as Orihime spun around and summoned Santen Kesshun to stop the Cleaner. Obviously though, the girl’s shield wasn’t strong enough to take on the Cleaner itself, which was designed to swallow intruders. The impact as the large boulder collided with her shield sent the group flying through a portal into the Rukongai, everyone landed on the hard ground with a thud.

“Thanks a lot, Orihime.” Ichigo muttered, lying in an awkward yoga position.

“Heh, heh” The red-head laughed nervously. “Sorry about that! But we’re all alive and well!”

“Alive, yeah. Well? I’m not so sure.” Zayla mumbled, sitting up and dusting the dirt off her clothes. Yoruichi, jumped up and poked Orihime in the eye making the girl screech and hold onto right eye tenderly.

“Mr Yoruichi! What the hell?!” The girl cried.

“Idiot! I told you not to expose your spiritual power in there, you’re lucky the Cleaner only collided with the shield itself if it had touched any of your fairies, you all would’ve died!” The cat chided. Orihime stared at the ground, guilt written on her face.

“Did you just say faeries?” Zayla asked making her way over to Orihime.

“Yeah!” She pointed at her flower hair pins, visibly more cheerful. “I can heal, defend and attack using them!” The Shadowhunter observed the pins carefully, it didn’t seem like anything from Faerie at all.  She glanced at the girl, if she was Faerie that may prove to be problematic. Ever since the Seelie Court had discovered her whereabouts they had been trying to recruit her into the court. Clearly, Orihime wasn’t aware of the fair folk and they weren’t aware of her, but if they found out…

“Orihime, can you show me your powers?” Zayla asked. Orihime nodded, pressing her index finger and middle finger to her hair pins. In a second, six small pixie-looking creatures appeared and surround Orihime. They look like pixies, but they don’t have sharp teeth. Cute, yeah, I guess? Pixies can be quite cunning though. Zayla mused to herself. “Are you pixies?” Everyone watched on in interest as Orihime’s ‘fairies’ looked rather uncomfortable at the question.

“I guess you can call us that” Said the blonde haired faerie that wore a red dress. “Who are you anyways? How do you know?”

“The name’s Zayla. My mother was Lady Iya of the Seelie Court, so I do know my fair share of things about fey.”

“As much as I know, Lady Iya went missing a few years ago. But if you are her daughter then -” Starts off a Faerie with light pink hair and pink wings.

“Spare me the stupid royal ‘greetings’. What I want to know is, if you’re pixies, why are you with Orihime. And is she fair folk?” They pixies glanced at each other then back at Orihime who was listening with a curious look on her face.

“Well Orihime is -” A large pixie in a green costume began only to be cut off by Yoruichi calling to them. They all glared at the cat who was pointing at an enormous man ape-like man wearing a shihakusho and a red hat with yellow tassels. His arm was clad in metal and he carried a huge strangely shaped axe. He stood in front of a thirty metre wall that seemed to stretch out for miles to the left and right. There was clearly a door behind him, it was lined it metal and stood out from the miles of plain rock.

“It’s been a long time since someone has tried to enter the Seireitei without a travel permit. You’ll just have to give it all you got and see if you can defeat me!”

“Yoruichi, who is this?” Questioned Uryuu.

“He’s Jidanbo, keeper of the gates. He guards the hakuto, one of the four entrances into the Seireitei. Apparently, he hasn’t been defeated in three hundred years, every intruder that he has faced has lost to him.”

“Then we need to plan a way to get into the Gotei!” As soon a Uryuu finished his sentence, Orihime and Chad speed across to Ichigo. Jidanbo plants his axe into the ground bringing up tall rocks to block their path.

“What do we do? Ichigo can’t fight him alone!” Orihime wails evidently concerned for the substitute Soul Reaper.

“Relax.” Zayla says, moving leisurely towards the pair. “I’ve seen Ichigo in training, he can defeat him. This shouldn’t take too long.” The Nephilim girl seated herself on a small boulder, stabbing her Zanpakuto into the floor; she rested her chin on the hilt. Zayla couldn’t practically feel Ichigo’s confidence bleeding into her. “It’s a shame we can’t see the fight.” She mused, closing her eyes. The blue-head could hear the others gaping at her in shock, opening one eye she asked, “What?”

“How do you know? How can you be so sure?” Uryuu demanded.

“Honestly, Uryuu, you ask too many questions and worry too much. I’m his parabatai; I know his powers as well as I know my own. Seriously, there’s nothing to worry about, Ichigo can do this on his own.” She replied.

“Zayla’s right. You guys should calm down.” Ichigo yelled from the other side of the rocks. Jidanbo’s hearty laugh shook the floor.

“You certainly are confident, boy. What’s your name?” Jidanbo queried.

“Ichigo. Ichigo Kurosaki.” A moment later, the giant bought his axe down, sending dust and concrete in their direction. No way, it can’t be, thought Jidanbo. The dust cleared and his suspicions were confirmed. Ichigo had blocked his blow with his cleaver-shaped Zanpakto.

The giant threw his head back and laughed. “Before you, Ichigo, there have only ever been two who have been able to block my first thrust, but it ended right there. Because they couldn’t possibly hope to stop my second thrust. Jidanbo swung his axe once more, thinking he needn’t do it again, but Ichigo had managed to stop this attack too. He swung his axe again and again, with no luck. The orange-haired boy blocked each one of his thrusts.

“I’m not done, yet. I’m not done!” Jidanbo reached into his shihakusho and took out his other axe, identical the one he had been using. With all his remaining energy he thrust both weapons down, spraying up more dust around the boy. He squinted at Ichigo, who was still standing, then he glanced at his hands. Impossible. The giant now only held the hilts of what used to be his axes, falling on his bottom he wailed loudly, rivers of tears running down his face. Zayla viewed the scene from a distance as Jidanbo smiled at her parabatai, beckoning for him and the rest of the group to come forward before lifting up the hakudo. Zayla got up from her position on a boulder and jogged over to the gate that was now half opened. In a flash, the giant holding the door up fell to his knees, dropping his left arm that was dripping with blood. He supported the weight of the gate on his shoulders.

When she got there she saw them gaping at a white-haired man Soul Reaper in a white haori. His smile was snake-like and he kept his eyes close.

“When a gate-keeper loses, it doesn’t mean he opens the hakudo. No, it’s means death.” His voice made the girl shudder. Ichigo charged towards him, with Zangetsu but the man brought up a short Zanpakto to counter it. Zayla drew Raitoenjeru, ready to strike if she needed to.

“That’s Gin Ichimaru, captain of the third division.” She heard Yoruichi explain to Uryuu, Chad and Orihime.

Trust that idiot to go and challenge a captain, she thought. “Ichigo…” Zayla trailed off as Gin tilted his head to stare at her and look back at her soul-mate.

“Ah, you must be Ichigo Kurosaki.” He said before turning around and heading back in the direction he came from.

“Wait, where do you think you’re going -” Ichigo felt a hand close around his mouth.

“Shut up. He’s a captain, we can’t do anything now.” Zayla’s fist closed around the back of his shihakusho to stop Ichigo from running after the captain.

“All the more reason I can’t let you pass, I’m afraid.” Gin held out his short blade, his back facing them before spinning back to face Ichigo. “Impale him, Shinso.”

Zayla realised what was going to happen a milliseconds before Ichigo, after all, her Zanpakuto spirit in her Inner World moved really fast. But that didn’t stop his sword from making impact with hers so fast and with so much force that it sent both her and Ichigo flying back into Jidanbo, who let go of his hold on the gate. The trio crashed into the ground several metres away with the hakudo slamming, closed, to the floor.

Zayla leapt off Jidanbo, helping Ichigo up. “The gate’s closed, so much for all of that, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, man, that guy’s a bastard.” He glanced at Jidanbo who lay injured on the floor. “Orihime, could you heal him? After all he did open the gate.” Orihime nodded and walked over to the giant. Only when the group looked around, did they realise that the deserted streets were now packed with people, eyeing them warily. An old grey-haired man made his way to the front.

“Jidanbo has always been kind to us, and we saw you stopped Gin Ichimaru from killing him. Thank you. I can help you for this kindness you’ve shown.” The old man said, then he stared at Ichigo. “You really have a generous heart, to help your enemies.”

Ichigo rubbed his eyebrow, trying to look modest, but Zayla could see that he was quite proud of himself. She pushed his head down and held it there. “Don’t get too full of yourself, Strawberry.”

A boy from a group of children in the corner called out, “His name’s Strawberry?”

Zayla grinned evilly, now was the perfect time to get his back for teasing her during training. “Yeah and see his orange hair? He attempted to dye it red like his name but it came out like this.”

“Hey, Strawberry! Thanks for helping out Jidanbo!” The children called out one by one. The Shadowhunter snickered, satisfied with her work. Ichigo lifted his head up and glared daggers at her, his eye twitched with effort to restrain himself. She smiled triumphantly at him.

“Why you little punk.” He whispered, before speaking loudly. “It wasn’t just me! It was Blueberry too!” He yelled slapping his parabatai hard on the back. The children shouted out “Thanks, Blueberry.” Ichigo flashed his victorious grin, as Zayla stared with her mouth wide open. How the hell had this back-fired on her?

“Stop fooling around! We need to get into the Seireitei. Elder, do you know where Kukaku Shiba lives?” Yoruichi’s question met a shocked silence from the crowd.

“Who wants to know?” Came a gruff, male voice. The crowd made way for a bulky man wearing a flowery cap, white shihakusho with a red obi at the waist and a black overcoat. Following him was a boar with a red bow on its head, it had sharp teeth that made the residents on the Rukon District back away.

“It’s Yoruichi, Kukaku knows me well.” He replied before strolling over to the man and whispering something in his ear.

The bulky man nodded and gestured for the group to follow him. “I am Ganju Shiba of the Shiba Clan.” He introduced himself and said no more as they walked through the town.

“Why do you have a pig with you?” Asked Zayla. Ganju looked like he was about to answer then realised who was talking. He scowled at Ichigo and Zayla, taking in the Soul Reaper uniform and Zanpakutos.

“I didn’t know I was helping out some stinkin’ Soul Reapers.” He growled. “So punks, what’re your names?” The parabatai glowered at the man not muttering a word.

“What are you, deaf? Or are you so stupid that you don’t understand what I just asked?” He said inches away from their faces. Everyone else in the group watched with batted breath.

“What did you just call me?” Ichigo snarled. Ganju grabbed Ichigo’s face in his hand but before he could answer, Zayla kicked him in the chest, sending him flying into the wall.

“Hey, missy, what was that for? I was dealing with the orange-haired kid first!” Ganju yelled, grabbing his bleeding nose that had hit the wall. The Shadowhunter walked over to the dizzy man, dragging him to his feet.

“Look, you overgrown idiot, you best take us this Kukaku without any more fuss. Otherwise, I’ll skewer you and feed you to that pig of yours before you can cry out. Ok?” She hissed to Ganju, so only he heard her.

Ganju gulped and nodded, leading them out of the house, with Zayla following right behind.

“I wonder she said to him, he looks pretty scared.” Orihime mused.

“Well, knowing Zayla, she must have threatened him or something. Eh, he deserved it.” Ichigo strolled behind his parabatai, regretting that he didn’t punch Ganju when he had the chance, doing so know would probably be asking for a beating from Zayla. The group walked through a large field for several minutes before Ganju paused and pointed at the building before them.

Ichigo and his friends gawked, speechless, at the house that stood in front of them. Two large stone arms that sprouted from the ground held up a banner reading ‘Kukaku Shiba’. No way, don’t tell me I have to go in there. That’s so embarrassing!

“Are you sure this is the place? I mean anyone that’s strong enough to help us out can’t possibly live there.” Uryuu said.

“It’s the place.” Ganju said walking through the doors, shamelessly. Zayla, Uryuu and Ichigo glanced around to make sure there wasn’t anyone that would see them walking in there before sprinting in as if their lives depended on it. Kukaku, the group soon found out, was actually Ganju’s sister, they were both equally insane.

“So how are you going to get us into the Seireitei, we can’t enter through the gates.”

“I’m gonna get you into the Seireitei through the air, after all I am the fireworks expert of the Rukon District.”

Uryuu, Chad and Orihime soon learnt how to use the glass orbs they were given to create a spiritual bubble around them but Zayla and Ichigo found it hard to even use their spirit energy to make this bubble.

“Idiot, it’s because of you! I bet I would do just fine, if I could just concentrate without having to worry about you blowing up this place!” Screamed Zayla to Ichigo in frustration.

“I never asked you to worry about me, dimwit!” Ichigo replied, still trying to focus on wielding his spirit energy.

“Like I could stop getting distracted if I wanted to, remember our reiatsus are laced!” She yelled in response. “It’s your shitty control on your spiritual pressure that makes it hard for me.”

“How do you know it’s my ‘shitty control’?! I could be yours.”

Yoruichi let out a loud purr, to bring their attention to him. “It might help if you stopped arguing. Your focus is on saving Rukia, fighting like a bunch of baboons isn’t going to help.”

After a few explosions and beatings from Kukaku, the parabatai managed to create the spirit bubble that would help them enter the Seireitei. The entered the giant canon behind the house and all seven of them held onto the same orb. Pouring their spirit energy into it, they heard Kukaku chant and incantation outside just as she finished they blast into the sky with Ganju directing the bubble across the sky into the Seireitei. They felt as if they had crashed into metal, the bubble vibrated as if it were about to shatter. The last thing everyone saw before they split up and crashed into the Seireitei was a bright explosion that sent shock waves through the sky.

Chapter Text

Ichigo felt someone grab onto his shihakusho as he plummeted to the ground, but the force of which he was thrown made it difficult to move his head to see who the person was. He saw a flash of green and white. Ganju. It was just his luck that he had to end up with the most annoying person in the group, well second most annoying person. No-one could hope to outsmart his parabatai in pissing the hell out of him. The pair crashed into the Seireitei, hitting the ground with such power that it made a crater. Miraculously though, both of them were seemingly unharmed. Ichigo felt as if his back was slightly bruised but it was incredible how they had both survived the crash.

“Ganju?” Ichigo called out to his ally. “You alright?”

“Yeah, yeah.” The man replied brushing the dirt off his clothes. “Come one, kid, let’s get going.”

The two were about to jump out of the pit when they heard a voice, that seemed filled with glee. “Oh look, Yumichika, we found the Ryoka! This must be my lucky day!” Said a bald headed Soul Reapers with red eye-liner. His companion, who must be Yumichika, was some-what feminine-looking in appearance, with jaw-length black-blue hair and lilac eyes. He had two feathers woven into his hair and eyebrow.

“Yes, well, if we don’t fight them first, the others will come and take all the glory.” Yumichika replied looking quite calm, but you couldn’t mistake the blood-thirsty glint in his eyes. While they were talking, Ganju was trying to get Ichigo’s attention so they can both run away before being attacked. The bald-head, who noticed what he was planning, drew his sword and pointed it at them.

“Oh no, you don’t.” He drawled. “I’m gonna fight one of you, it’s been a long time since I could full-on battle it out.”

“C’mon, Ichigo!” Ganju hissed at the orange-head who wasn’t budging. “We should run before reinforcements arrive.”

“What happened to the tough guy act? What happened to the ‘Self-proclaimed number one Soul Reaper hater of the west Rukon’?” Ichigo teased.

“Soul Reaper hater?” Asked Yumichika, the grip on the hilt of his sword tightening. His eyes narrowed at Ganju, who looking quite frightened, made a run for it, leaving Ichigo behind. Yumichika chased after the man, still intent on fighting someone.

“So, kid, ain’t gonna run?” The bald-head asked, smirking now that he had someone to use all his new moves on. Ichigo shook his head and took a fighting stance, only making the man cackle at his defiance. “What’s your name, eh?”

“Ichigo Kurosaki.” The substitute replied.

“Ichigo? They say guys with ‘ichi’ in their name are overflowing with talent and good-looks, we’ll see how talented you are!” He yelled drawing his Zanpakto as Ichigo leapt out of the pit and made his way over to his opponent.

“Since you’re asking my name, what’s yours?”

“Ikkaku Madarame, third seat of Squad Eleven!” He shouted, beating a fist against his chest in pride.

Ichigo reached for Zangetsu, wrapping his fingers around the hilt before bringing it in front of him. “Well, Ikkaku, let’s see which one of us will be the last man standing.” He said, grinning enthusiastically.

 


 

Uryuu and Orihime had hit the ground hard, so hard that Orihime had injured her arm badly. After hurriedly, carrying the girl away from the crater, he treated her injuries. The Quincy finished bandaging her arms, helping the girl sit up. They needed to get out of the area as quickly as possible; Soul Reapers would be arriving soon.

“Orihime, we need to get going. Do you think you can move?” Uryuu asked, standing up and taking in their surroundings.

“Thanks, Uryuu! I’m much better now!” Orihime answered in her usual cheery voice. Suddenly, they heard voices coming in their direction. Grabbing Orihime by her uninjured arm, he pulled the girl into a space between two buildings. A group of Soul Reapers passed by, following after a black hell butterfly.

“It might be a good idea to be on higher ground, that way we can find the others.” Uryuu said as the duo climbed onto the roofs. From there they could see the entire Seireitei, the cliff in the distance and some parts of Rukon.

“You’re right Uryuu, this is a good idea!” Orihime exclaimed, taking in the sight.

“Not for you it isn’t.” Said a deep voice. Both the red-head and the Quincy spun around to face a large man, similar in appearance to Jidanbo. He laughed in delight at the looks of shock before drawing his blade.

Uryuu took out his bow but before he could start firing, he was swatted out of the way across the roofs. The giant moved towards Orihime, who was easy prey. The girl placed her fingers over her hairpins, ready to call out Tsubaki, when a flicker of movement caused her to hesitate. Still, Tsubaki flew in the direction of the giant only to be whacked aside, cursing at the red-head before fading and returning to her pins. Uryuu emerged from where he had fallen and moved swiftly to aim his arrows at the back of the giant’s head. The large man who was so focused on beating the girl didn’t notice Uryuu fire a line of arrows from behind. With a scream he dropped his Zanpakto, and turned around to Uryuu, who then shot his arm making him fall to the floor partly-unconscious with blood oozing out of his wounds. Orihime lifted a hand to cover her mouth at the sight of blood as Uryuu dragged her by the arm to the ground again. 

“But the poor Soul Reaper!” Cried Orihime, her eyes brimmed with tears.

“Don’t worry about him.” Hissed Uryuu, then pointed at the group of Shinigami that were now on the roofs, fussing over the injured man. “They’ll heal him, now let’s go!”

 


 

Zayla knew she was unlucky. But never knew she was this unlucky; the Shadowhunter had crashed into a tree. She could feel splinters all over her body, piercing into her skin. One particularly large splinter had planted itself into her left thigh, after pulling it out, she realised exactly how bad it was. Sharp pain shot up her leg as blood flowed out of the wound staining her clothes, her shihakusho was ripped in various places and small cuts marked her skin. Zayla tried standing up and immediately regretted it; there was no way she could walk with her leg in that state. Sitting back, she drew her Zanpakuto and stabbed it into the ground, then holding onto the hilt for support, she helped herself up. Naturally, the girl would’ve just used her stele to draw an iratze and heal the wound, but recently the healing runes were almost completely useless on her unless it was Ichigo who marked her. It did make sense as he was her parabatai, but she didn’t understand why she couldn’t just heal herself. Zayla pulled out the chain of light that normally secured Raitoenjeru to her back, holding it in her hands, the chain was slightly warm and felt like cotton. She set to work wrapping it around her thigh to stop the bleeding.

The Shadowhunter heard a group of Soul Reapers in the distance and they were heading her way. Limping, she went in the opposite direction, occasionally hiding behind buildings when Shinigami passed by. After a group of what seemed like Soul Reaper medics crossed her, she started across the street but stopped shortly in her tracks.

A Soul Reaper with black hair pulled into a bun and glasses was standing before her. The woman was dressed in a standard shihakusho but wore a badge around her right arm.

“And who might you be?” She asked, adjusting her glasses. The woman stared at her injured leg and Zanpakuto.

“Zayla Krieger. Might as well introduce myself to my opponent, right?”

“You must be the Ryoka. I am lieutenant of Squad Eight, Nanao Ise.” She held her hands up in front of her as if about to do Kido.

“You don’t suppose, you’ll just let me pass by?” Zayla questioned, already knowing the answer.

“Not a chance. The Ryoka must be captured.” She stated as if reading from a rule book. “Hado No.31, Shakkaho.”  Zayla brought her Zanpakuto up like a shield as a ball of red light headed in her direction.

 


 

Ikkaku groaned as he opened his eyes. He, the third seat of the Zaraki Squad had lost to a Ryoka. Even the thought of it was humiliating, how was he supposed to explain it to his Captain. He saw Ichigo sitting and observing him carefully, that’s when he realised that his wounds had been bandaged up by the kid.

“Hey, kid, why did you treat my cuts?” He asked.

“Huh? Well, of course I did. I wasn’t going to leave you bleeding to death.” Ichigo replied standing up.

“You can’t defeat your enemies then treat them, idiot. Especially not if you’re gonna fight my captain.”

“Your captain?”

“Yeah, Kenpachi Zaraki. He’ll wanna fight you, so be prepared; you’ll know who it is when you see him.”

Ichigo nodded before placing Zangetsu on his back. The last thing Ikkaku saw before he passed out was the substitute Soul Reaper’s distant figure.

 


 

Nanao knew she was going to lose the moment she saw Zayla’s Shikai. The girl’s blade was incredible, a light-type Zanpakuto- she had never seen one so powerful. She thought of the intense but rapid battle, if she had that right to call it that, as she lay bleeding.

Nanao fired a line of Shakkaho balls but each was deflected by the girl’s weapon. “Hado No. 33, Sokatsui.” She yelled as a line of blue fire burned through the ground in front of the girl, making her leap into the air to escape it.

“Incinerate, Raitoenjeru.” The silver edges of her golden Zanpakuto seemed to draw in the light from her surroundings. Zayla pointed her sword at Nanao as a beam of intense white light was emitted from the blade; it was quicker than her own flash-step. She dodged the first beam but the second seared through the skin on her left arm, she cried out in pain as it burned through flesh. In those seconds Nanao had let her guard down, that was all it took for the Shadowhunter to strike, slashing her blade across her chest in one move. The lieutenant fell back her eyes wide, she couldn’t believe it; she had been beaten by a mere child.

Nanao’s eyes fluttered open as she felt a stinging sensation on her forearm, the blue-haired girl was drawing something with a pen and the black tattoo was glowing faintly.

“Wh-what are you doing?” She demanded the panic rising in her voice.

“Relax. I’m healing your wounds. Sorry about almost killing you, I felt kinda bad just leaving you here, bleeding.” She finished the tattoo and leant back. “There, finished.”

“It’s a tattoo.” Nanao stated simply.

“Not really, your cut should stop bleeding and start closing up. There will be a thin scar though.” Zayla looked around at the cracks in the ground and burnt walls, taking out the golden pen again she drew another tattoo on the lieutenant’s arm. Instantly, Nanao felt herself losing consciousness.

“Wha now…?” She said her word’s slurring together.

“Sorry, again. Can’t have you following me, don’t worry though; I’m sure your comrades will be here in a minute. She stood to full height and stuffed the pen in her pocket. “See ya Nanao. It was a good fight.” Zayla flashed a grin before running off.

A good fight?  I didn’t last five minutes. Nanao thought as she fell into deep sleep.

 


 

Ikkaku and Nanao woke up in the Squad Four Barracks, with the intimidating face of Mayuri Kurotsuchi above their own. Ikkaku tried smacking him in the face but the scientist held his wrist in a vice-like grip.

“I’m not interested in you, bald-head.” He said, then pointed at Nanao. “She’s the one I need to experiment on.” Nanao brought her arms across her chest defensively and gave Captain Kurotsuchi a look of pure disgust.

“Now, now, Captain Kurotsuchi, there’s no need to carry out experiments on my lieutenant.” All three of them turned their heads towards the door and found Captain Kyoraku smiling sheepishly at them. “Though Nanao could explain to us what happened.”

By now Captain Ukitake and Captain Hitsugaya had entered the small room. Nanao glanced at them nervously before starting her story. “I met one of the Ryoka, she said her name was Zayla Krieger. She only looked around fifteen years old but she was wearing a shihakusho and carried a Zanpakuto.” At this, Toshiro Hitsugaya muttered something about judging people by their age, probably referring to everyone who underestimates him. “Her Zanpakuto was called Raitoenjeru so obviously it was a light-type. I fired Shakkaho and Sokatsui at her but she deflected them easily. Then before I knew it, she had slashed across my chest and defeated me. When I regained consciousness, she was drawing something on my arm. Zayla said she was healing me, but then she drew another one that made me sleep.” Nanao’s eyes scanned her arm and saw only one faint marking. She looked up at the captains. “There were two, but one is gone.”

“When my men found you, Lieutenant Ise, you were unconscious. You had no injuries, but there where cuts and burns in your clothes.” Jushiro Ukitake explained. “There were two tattoos, one has now completely faded away but the other, as you can see, is there but very faint.”

“If what you told us is correct, it means that the Ryoka healed you using some kind of technique that we are we unaware of.” Toshiro said.

“This means, I have a new test subject!” Exclaimed Mayuri.

“It means you can carry out supervised observations of these tattoos on my lieutenant.” Shunsui moved over to stand by Nanao side. “And I’ll be the one supervising.”

Mayuri rolled his eyes, then adjusting his toilet-seat hat, called for his lieutenant. Nemu entered the room as the Jushiro and Toshiro walked out. “You” He said pointing poking Ikkaku in the face. “Tell me about the Ryoka you fought.”

“I’m sorry Captain Kurotsuchi, but I will only answer to my Captain.” Ikkaku replied through gritted teeth.

At the moment the towering figure of Kenpachi appeared “That’s right. My third seat can give the details, so move punk.” He said smirking at Mayuri’s face twitching in annoyance.

The insane scientist opened his mouth to retort, but was stopped by Captain Kyoraku. “Not to interrupt, but my lieutenant and I have work to attend to so would be grateful if you got this over and done with.” Kurotsuchi and Nemu lead Shunsui and Nanao into a lab in the Department of Research and Development.

 


 

Chad beat through yet another group of Shinigami, they seemed to be coming from all directions. He slammed his fist into the ground, the impact sent dozens of Soul Reapers flying back. The teen took advantage of their weakness and ran in the opposite direction only to be running into more trouble. But this time it was a lone Soul Reaper, and guy with blonde hair that covered half his face and wore a badge around his arm. The man didn’t say anything, instead charged at Chad with his Zanpakuto drawn, Chad, who saw this coming and raised his forearm to block the strikes.

“Raise your head, Wabisuke.” The Soul Reaper whispered as his Zanpakuto took on a new form; a blade that looked like rectangle with the base missing and the longer side coming from the hilt. Chad  didn’t understand how this helped his opponent, the blade was blunter and didn’t do much damage, after twenty or so slashes, however, Chad came to realise the power of this particular Zanpakuto; it had made his right arm unbearably heavy. It fell to the floor and he couldn’t lift it without putting incredible strain on his shoulder.

“This is the power of my Zanpakuto, Ryoka, it doubles the weight of any object with one strike. My blade made contact with your arm twenty three times to be exact, right now, you won’t be able to move that armoured arm of yours.” He pointed the corner of his blade at Chad and brought it down with one strike, the stoic teen fell forward, unconscious, as he sunk into a sea of black.

Chapter Text

Orihime’s idea of disguising as Soul Reapers wasn’t such a bad idea. The pair didn’t have to hide from Shinigami continuously and they managed to get some information about where Rukia was being held, but before they could directions to the place they were interrupted by an officer and assigned to duties. Uryuu swallowed thickly as he shifted uncomfortably; he didn’t know what to say, the officer was asking what squad they were in.

“Squad twelve!” Orihime exclaimed cheerfully before Uryuu could speak. At her response, the other Soul Reapers scowled at them before one got in Uryuu’s face threateningly.

“What’re squad twelve freaks doing here?” He sneered. “You’re not welcome; did your insane scientist send you?”

“Insane scientist?” Asked a shrill voice. “You couldn’t possibly mean me?” The other Shinigami froze in terror at the voice. The officer who sneered at Uryuu was now pale with fear, he slowly turned around at the pale man with an oddly-shaped hat.

“N-no, sir. Absolutely n-not.” He stuttered.

“That’s a shame; I could’ve dissected you alive…” He replied a creepy smile breaking out across his face. The group of Shinigami took off in the opposite direction without looking back, leaving Uryuu and Orihime with the captain.

“Ahh, the Ryoka…” He mused as the duo’s faces twisted in fear. “I’m Mayuri Kurotsuchi, Captain of Squad Twelve. I must say, it’s a pleasure to meet my new test subjects!”

Orihime cowered behind Uryuu as the scientist spoke, grabbing onto his shirt in horror. Uryuu summoned his bow to his hand and heard a gasp in response from Kurotsuchi.

“A Quincy! It’s been a long time since I could get my hands on another one!” He exclaimed. Kurotsuchi brought up a palm and muttered a kido incantation under his breath, shooting a line of blue spears of light at them. It headed in Uryuu’s direction, he brought up his bow as a shield but he knew it couldn’t possibly withstand the attack. The spears were inches from his face when an orange shield appeared, protecting him and shattering the spears as they made contact with it. Orihime had used Santen Kisshun to block the attack. The Quincy felt a tugging at the sleeve of his shihakusho; the red-head was trying to pull him away from their opponent when they heard a manic laugh.

“What’s this? You’re not a Soul Reaper, girl!” He looked like a kid in a candy store- which did not look appealing- as he clapped his hands in joy. “Oooh, imagine all the experiments I could carry out on you!” He glanced around the area and called out. “Nemu!”

“Bakudō No.61, Rikujōkōrō!” Shouted a female voice. Before they knew it, the pair had a circular band of light around them and six spikes grew out of it, like a wheel. Uryuu’s back was against Orihime, neither could move. A girl with plaited black hair, wearing a short shihakusho stood before them, her face was expressionless as Uryuu’s eye-lids closed.

“Ah, Captain Kurotsuchi, I see you’ve found the Ryoka.” Captain and Lieutenant of Squad twelve stared at the figure in the corner. The figure stepped from the shadows into the light, revealing his pink cherry-blossom kimono and straw hat. “You’re taking them to the Head Captain, I am sure.” The said, more of a statement rather than a question. Shunsui walked leisurely towards Nemu and Mayuri, pulling his hat low to conceal his eyes and smiling his lazy smile.

“It’s none of your business.” Mayuri snapped, moving in front of his new test subjects.

“Old man Yama won’t be pleased, if he finds you’re going to take them to the lab instead of handing them over.” He replied in a sing-song voice. At this, the Kurotsuchis snarled and back away. “Thank you, Captain.” Shunsui nodded at them and called forth a small group of his squad members to take the unconscious pair back to his quarters. 

A comrade of these two showed mercy to my lieutenant and saved her life. I can see in the way Nanao talked about her former-opponent that she admired the girl’s strength and power. The least I could do for the Ryoka girl is save her friends from Kurotsuchi’s clutches. Captain Kyoraku thought as he glanced as the still-bound duo.

 


 

Renji opened his eyes to Zabimaru. The white Monkey sat on his chest, its Snake tail dancing around behind it. Glaring at him with yellow eyes that contrasted with its red face, it tapped his forehead gently.

“So, Renji, how long are you going to lay there for?” The Monkey asked.

“Yeah! Get your lazy ass out of bed and fight!” The Snake hissed in its high pitched voice.

“After so long, this is the greeting I get? I’m totally feeling the love.” He replied absently, thinking back on his fight with Ichigo.

“Why are you so determined?!” Renji yelled furiously. “It’s your fault she’s going to die!”

“She won’t die. Because I’ll be the one that saves her.” Ichigo stated as if it was a simple fact.

“You’re weak; you’ll never defeat the Captains! Now one of my friends will die all because she tried to save a weakling like you.” Renji hadn’t meant to say the last part, it just slipped out, but it only angered Ichigo even more.

You’re calling me a weakling?! If Rukia is your friend then why aren’t you fighting to save her?” Ichigo’s eyes flared in anger. “Instead you’re stopping me from helping her; you’re not truly her friend if you’re just going to watch her die!”

Renji sighed, pulling himself from his memories and found Zabimaru staring intently at him, reading his thoughts and emotions.

“It seems you know who your true enemy is. I was wondering how long it was going to take you to figure it out.” Monkey told Renji.

“You’re so stupid; even we know how you feel about Rukia.” Snake mused; glaring at the red-head’s confused face.  “You know…like how you wanna-”

Monkey whacked Snake on the head as Renji’s face turned the colour of his hair. “We are ready, we’re just waiting for you to pick up your sword and fight a battle worth fighting.” With that, Zabimaru faded away, the last thing he saw was Snake smirking mockingly at him before his Zanpakuto spirit disappeared. Renji lay motionless for the next few minutes, determined to prove the Ichigo wrong. He will save Rukia, even if it was just him against the entire Gotei.

 


 

Izuru brought the large man into the prison from the courtyard, he had to wait until the power of his Zanpakuto-Wabisuke- had worn out to be able to lift the man and even then his opponent was heavy. Placing the unconscious guy on a futon, he reached for the hand cuffs on the table and fastened it onto his wrists. The Ryoka look peaceful while sleeping, even when Izuru cut him down, he hadn’t shown his pain and his face remained stoic. One of the squad-four members had treated the Ryoka’s wounds and bandaged them. Strolling over to the prison door, he swung open and came face to face with his Captain.

“Captain Ichimaru, sir.” Izuru greeted his Captain by bowing.

“Izuru, I heard you arrested one of the Ryoka.” Gin said his fox-like smile plastered on his face.

“Yes, Captain. He was badly wounded in the fight, and as the Head-Captain ordered for the Ryoka to be captured, I brought him to this cell.” The blonde answered as Gin slunk past his lieutenant into the room. The grey-haired man stood by Chad’s futon, taking in the sleeping figure.

“Why not end his life?” Gin asked, unsheathing his Zanpakuto. “I doubt he would be of much use to us and could prove to be troublesome in the future.” Frantically, Izuru moved to Gin’s side and placed a hand on his Captain’s shoulder.

“Please, sir, you may suffer consequences for doing this. Head Captain Yamamoto is already unimpressed by the actions you took against the Ryoka at the Hakudo.” The lieutenant pleaded with his superior. Gin tilted his head to the side as if considering Izuru’s words, then pushed his blade back into its sheath.

“Ah, Izuru you’re right. Can’t have the Head Captain after me, now can I?” Gin chuckled lightly, exiting the cell with his lieutenant following. “I have to report your finding of the Ryoka in the meeting today, make sure the Ryoka doesn’t escape!” He called over his shoulder as he flash-stepped away. The blonde sighed in relief and walked down the corridor to retrieve food for the prisoner. Entering the kitchen, he remembered that Renji had also been imprisoned for taking on one of the Ryoka alone.

Renji’s captain is rather cold, thought Izuru, he was the one who ordered for Renji’s arrest upon finding him wounded. At least Abarai wasn’t dead; we can’t afford to lose another strong member of the Seireitei. He could’ve ended up like Captain Aizen…

Two weeks prior

All the lieutenants and Captain Hitsugaya were walking together down the courtyard path that lead into the Squad ten barracks, when Momo froze. Rangiku, who was walking behind her, crashed into the girl.

“Hey, Momo, what’s up?” Rangiku asked, placing a hand on the smaller girl’s head. Izuru could see Momo’s face had paled significantly, her eyes wide and glassed over; the girl seemed to be staring at the building before them. Izuru twisted his head in the direction of that Momo was staring and took in a sharp breath. Sosuke Aizen’s body was pinned to the wall using a single blade through his neck the Soul Reaper’s glasses were splattered in blood and his eyes lifeless.

“No, no.” She muttered not lifting her gaze from her Captain.  “It can’t be!” She screamed the last words. Toshiro walked over to the girl and tried soothing her but to no avail.

“I can’t believe it… Aizen of all people…” Izuru heard Rangiku mumbling. The other lieutenants wore expressions of pure shock most of their faces were white in horror. Who would’ve wanted to kill Aizen? And how could they have possibly done it, the Captain wasn’t weak, far from it actually.

The flashback dissolved in Izuru’s mind, bringing him back to the present. Well, they did find that Shiba and have him in custody. Everyone thinks that he killed Aizen; they said his reiatsu was found in the area. We’ll just have to wait for Central 46’s verdict. Izuru thought grimly. Kira’s head snapped back at the sound of someone calling his name, it was Isane.

“Izuru! Lieutenant Abarai is missing from his cell, the guards in the area were found passed out. An emergency Lieutenant meeting has been called!” Isane shouted to him.

 


 

The orange haired Soul Reaper lay conscious in a pool of dark red liquid, small and large cuts marking his body. His chest heaved as he tried to sit up but failed to even lift his back slightly in the process. A black cat circled the rubble around the boy examining the damage made in the battle. I didn’t think the boy could defeat Captain Zaraki; he almost killed himself in the process. Mr. Yoruichi thought to himself. A figure with vibrant blue hair entered the scene, looking as battered as Ichigo; she took in the damages to the walls and staggered over to her parabatai. Kneeling down beside him she formed her bracelet into a stele and drew an iratze on his shoulder which took effect immediately; his cuts and bruises fading away to thin scars. The boy opened his eyes only to be slapped harshly across his cheek, Zayla was livid as she grabbed onto his shredded shihakusho. Frustrated tears made their way down her face.

“Bastard! What did you think you were doing? You’re not invincible, you could’ve died!” She yelled, her voice hoarse.

“Zayla…hey, look I’m alright.” Ichigo said serving himself a backhand across his other cheek.

“Don’t ever do that again! You think you can do everything by yourself, you’re only fifteen for god’s sake!” The Shadowhunter slumped back her shoulders drooping. “What’s the point of being parabatai if you don’t let me help you?” Ichigo reached out to the girl, but Zayla swatted his arm away.

“We need to find Rukia, let’s go.” The blue-head said not meeting the substitute Shinigami’s eyes.

“Not yet. You both need to train.” Yoruichi walked in front of the pair, grabbing their attention.

“But Ganju-” Ichigo started off.

“Ganju and Hanataro will be fine, what matter’s now is training you to be strong enough to fight the Captains at the execution.” Yoruichi explained.

“No, I need to-” This time Ichigo was cut off by a blow to the head by Zayla, the orange-head fell forward into his parabatai’s arms, who threw him over her shoulder like a sack.

“Idiot needs to know when to shut up.” She muttered before following Yoruichi.

The cat lead them to her hiding spot concealed somewhere in a forest, for a cave it was well-furnished with stone tiles covering the floor and walls. Zayla placed Ichigo down on a blanket and sat back, waiting for the sleeping boy to wake up, after a few minutes however, the girl was tapping her foot impatiently as her parabatai slept on. She grabbed a fistful of orange locks and yelled in his ear. “Wake-up, scumbag!” The sound echoed the room as the teen jumped awake.

He took in the room, his eyes skipping over to Yoruichi who watched him with wide eyes. “I’m going to train you to achieve Bankai.” The cat stated.

“Bankai?” Zayla asked.

“Bankai is the next level, after Shikai. Normally it takes a Soul Reaper ten years to attain Bankai, you two will have to do it in three days.” The pair’s mouths jaw dropped in astonishment. Three days? “Yes, don’t look so surprised, there’s no way you can save Rukia without attaining Bankai. Not to mention, you still don’t know why your father was taken by the Soul Reapers.” Yoruichi said.

“How’s a cat gonna train us?” Ichigo mused. Yoruichi’s eye twitched, clearly irritated by his disbelief. Yoruichi’s features started to shimmer and fade until a stark naked dark-skinned woman with deep purple hair stood before them. Immediately, the on-lookers faces reddened and both shut their eyes tight in embarrassment.

“Oh c’mon, you know, you wanna see…” Yoruichi taunted, wriggling her hips.

“PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!” Ichigo screamed at the top of his lungs. Yoruichi rolled her eyes, pulling on an orange sweat shirt and black leggings. When Ichigo had calmed down he stared at the woman, who raised her eyebrows.

“Like what you see?” She mocked.

Ichigo snorted before asking, “You’re a woman but when you were a cat, you had a male voice?” Yoruichi shrugged in response, leading the parabatai into a large training round similar to that of Urahara’s.

“This is where you’ll be training; first you need to go into your Inner World to talk to your Zanpakuto spirit. You need their help to attain Bankai.” Yoruichi explained. The pair sat cross-legged on the dusty ground before placing their Zanpakutos on their laps and closing their eyes in meditation. The purple-haired lady observed her students quietly. They’re the only hope we have of saving both Rukia and Isshin, if they fail this…then two innocent lives will be lost.

 


 

Ganju and Hanataro sneaked across the bridge in a vain attempt to reach Rukia, they were blocked by two guards who held their large spears, crossing over.

“Entrance is not permitted to anyone apart from the Captains of the Gotei Thirteen.” One on them stated. Ganju reached into his pocket and his fingers closed around a small cracker. This should do it, he thought, enough for a distraction. At that moment, a man with black hair wearing a haori made his way over to them. He looked Ganju up and down, taking in his clothes before drawing his blade. Ganju threw his cracker; red sparks flew out of it and engulfed the guards and captain in smoke. Hanataro and Ganju ran across the bridge towards the larges doors, the healer reaching his fingers out to the handle, they were so agonisingly close.

“Scatter, Senbonzakura.” A calm voice whispered. Thousands of cherry blossom petals surrounded them, encasing the pair in a ball of pink. The captain stood with the guard and hilt of his sword as his petals swirled around his opponents, slicing and cutting them. The miniscule pink blades returned to their master, leaving two bloodied men laying unconscious on the floor.

 


 

The lieutenant of the eighth fumed as she stomped down the corridor to her Captain’s living quarters. Nanao was going to speak with Captain Kurotsuchi about the results of his scanning when she’d been summoned by Shunsui; he always called her over for trivial things, preventing her from carrying out her duties as lieutenant. She stormed into his office, swinging the door open and was about to blackmail her captain when she saw an unusually serious expression on his face. Her face relaxed a little as she composed herself.

“Captain Kyoraku, is there a reason as to why you summoned me?” She asked surprised.

“Yes, Nanao, I brought in two Ryoka.” Shunsui said slowly, watching the reactions of his subordinate carefully.

“You what?!”

“I’ll explain.” He replied gesturing for her to follow him into his living room, just past his office. Nanao threw her hands up in exasperation, but still walked after her superior, entering the large well-decorated room. In the middle, laying on futons, were two figures; one a boy with glasses wearing a white Quincy uniform and the other a girl with orange-red hair dressed in simple human clothes. “I brought in the comrades of that Ryoka girl you fought, Mayuri was going to take them to his lab to experiment.” Nanao said nothing, only stared at the sleeping figures. “Aren’t you going to thank your dear Captain?” He asked innocently.

“Shut up.” She muttered sitting on a sofa beside the futons only to get up again as the boy opened his eyes. He looked around at his surroundings, taking in Nanao and Shunsui before sitting up quickly and searching for his Quincy bow bracelet.

“Where am I?” Uryuu demanded, he glanced at Orihime, who was now awaking too. “What do you want from us?”

“Calm down, we won’t hurt you. Your friend showed mercy to my lieutenant, just repaying a debt.” Said Shunsui softly seating himself on a chair.

Nanao nodded, agreeing with her Captain. “I’m Nanao Ise, lieutenant of Squad Eight. And this is my Captain, Shunsui Kyoraku.” The raven-haired girl introduced.

“I’m Orihime Inoue and this is Uryuu Ishida. Who did you fight, Nanao?” Orihime asked.

“One of your comrades, Zayla Krieger.” Nanao answered.

“Zayla? Do you know if she is alright?” The red-head questioned, looking rather concerned for her friend.

“Well, the last time I saw her, she was fine.” The lieutenant said, she felt uncomfortable with the Quincy staring at her with hawk eyes.

“Aren’t you going to turn us in?” Uryuu asked.

“No, I don’t see why I should. You Ryoka haven’t killed anyone…” Replied Shunsui, pulling his straw hat down to conceal his eyes. “Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a little nap.”

Uryuu turned his attention back to Nanao. “Do you know where our friends are?”

“Lieutenant Kira imprisoned a large dark-skinned man earlier today.” She explained.

Orihime gasped and mumbled. “Chad…”

“I heard something right now about Captain Kuchiki taking down a Squad Four member and a Ryoka who used fireworks.” She continued.

“Nothing about Ichigo, Zayla and Mr Yoruichi?” Orihime brooded. Nanao shook her head in response and thought of something.

“You came here to save Rukia?” Nanao inquired.

“Yeah, but also find out what happened to Isshin Kurosaki.” Uryuu said.

“Isshin Kurosaki? I think you mean Isshin Shiba.” Nanao corrected the ‘mistake’.

“Shiba?” Uryuu pondered over the surname before asking. “You know him?”

“Of course. He is the man who is alleged of murdering Captain Sosuke Aizen.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez did not like waiting, nor did he like thinking deeply. But right at his moment, he was doing both. He was Hollow, Espada at that-not to mention the Espada of destruction- he wasn’t supposed to think, just charge head-first into things. That Shinigami brat that Aizen had brought back was in the ‘Recovery Room’, “recovering from his serious injuries that could be potentially delay our progress” as Aizen had put it. Grimmjow didn’t understand what the kid had to recover from, all Aizen had done was stabbed him in the chest; considering how powerful Kurosaki was, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Dammit, Kurosaki. Wake up and fight me already. A flash of black and white caught his attention.

“Hey Ulquiorra!” Grimmjow called stopping the black-haired Espada from sonidoing away, just as he stepped out of the room.  “How long will the Shinigami kid take?” Grimmjow demanded.

Large green eyes observed him for a moment. “I am going to inform Lord Aizen that he is ready.” Was all the Cuarto said before heading swiftly towards Aizen’s room to report.

“Great.” Grimmjow muttered under his breath. Now Aizen will start his ‘talk’ with the kid and Grimmjow won’t have a chance to actually fight him. The Sexta Espada thought for a moment, debating internally whether to stay or not before finally deciding to retire to his room.

When Aizen was done with Grimmjow’s prey, he would fight him. Show him what a real battle was.

---

The moment Ichigo opened his eyes, he was blinded. After giving himself a few seconds for his eyes to adjust, he eyed the room he was in. He appeared to be in a large bed with comfortable pillows and a silky duvet. Only when he glanced at the other object did he find that there were nothing except for a small white chair. In fact, the entire room was the same colour. The walls, ceiling, door, floor- even his bed sheets. Everything was white.

“Where am I…?” He asked under his breath.

“In Las Noches, of course.” Said a silky voice that made the hairs on Ichigo’s skin stand on end. Turning his head slowly, he eyes met dark brown orbs. Aizen. The brunette was no longer wearing his glasses and instead of the usual black shihakusho under the white haori, the man was cloaked in a white shihakusho lined in black. Memories came flooding back as he the scenes of the events that occurred on Sokyoku Hill- his father, Zayla, Rukia and his friends replayed through his mind.

He growled, reaching for Zangetsu, only for his fingers to grasp at air. Zangetsu was not on his back. With a start, he realised that he wasn’t wearing his Shinigami shihakusho, instead he was wearing something that was lighter and softer than the Soul Reaper uniform, disturbingly, it was very similar to Aizen’s clothes. The shihakusho was much like his Bankai but in white. “Aizen…” Hissed Ichigo, eyes narrowing at the ex-Captain’s smirk.

“Now, now, that’s no way to treat your Lord…” Aizen drawled.

“L-lord?” Sputtered Ichigo, finding it hard to make sense of the man standing in front of him. “I will never work under you!”

“Oh, we’ll see about that…” Aizen swiftly dodged out of the way as a fuming Ichigo launched himself at him, catching the boy by the wrist, he spun him around so that the orange-head was inches from Aizen’s face. “Why don’t you come to the meeting room to see?” At this the substitute Shinigami shook his head furiously. But Sosuke wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer, before Ichigo even had time to react, the man had taken him to a large throne room in a flash of shunpo. Ichigo gasped, only realising what had happened seconds later, wrenching himself from the brunette’s grip, he scowled at the man. A hearty laugh came from the back of the room, making Ichigo jump and spin around to face the newcomer, not one but several Arrancar were watching him intently. The blue-haired Espada, in particular, looked frightening with a psychotic grin etched onto his face- he looked as if he were about to launch himself at Ichigo when the man’s eyes widened. The grin vanished, to be replaced with a frown- cerulean orbs darted to Aizen before he dropped his gaze and huffed in annoyance. The large, bald Espada was smirking and at Grimmjow’s reaction he sniggered loudly – Ichigo looked on in shock at the Arrancars gathered before him.

“Mah, mah, observing your new comrades, Ichigo?” Asked an oddly familiar voice that the substitute Shinigami soon knew to be Gin Ichimaru’s.

“Cuatro, play the events to our dear Ichigo.” Ordered Aizen, now seated on his throne, placing his chin on the palm of his hand.

“Yes Lord Aizen.”

The orange-head watched the projection on the screen and his eyes widened when he saw his parabatai charge at Aizen only to be swatted aside. Yammy and Nnoitra beating her to a blood pulp. Shaking with rage, he watched as the life left her body. Aizen smirked as the boy’s face contorted in fury then pain and finally as his face paled when Zayla died. Ichigo could feel his palms sweating and his heart hammering in his chest. I wasn’t possible. His head was screaming that Zayla couldn’t have been defeated so easily. But his eyes betrayed his mind, the image of the dead body left him numb and empty. Eyeing the Rune on his chest, he knew as much; the black inky colour was replaced by a faint grey – signifying the bond getting weaker by the second.

“How sad, almost pathetic don’t you think?” Aizen said.

Ichigo twisted around to face ex-Captain, livid beyond words. “Don’t you dare talk about her like that, you bastard!”

“Oh, dear. And here I was thinking I could help you…” The substitute Shinigami’s face took on a new look, one of confusion at the words. “We make a deal, you join my ranks and I spare you friends.”

“You expect me to believe that?” Ichigo gritted his teeth in frustration.

“Why would I lie? I could bring your parabatai back alive if you do as I say.”

“You’re lying! No one can bring her back, it’s impossible!” Ichigo screamed, absolutely pissed off.

“Impossible, I keep hearing that word. I have the hogyoku, I can do anything I wish.” Aizen explained. “How about I show you?” In lightning speed, Sosuke stood in front of Ichigo, fingertips over his heart. Within seconds, Ichigo felt warmth spreading through his body, starting with a tingling sensation where his Rune was.

Ichigo, Zayla is alive. Zangetsu’s voice echoed in his mind. Shocked, the teen lifted his eyes to Aizen.

“You brought her back…?” He asked, to which Aizen simply smiled.

“How are you doing to repay the favour Ichigo?”

“That doesn’t mean I’ll fight alongside you.”

The self-proclaimed ‘Lord’s’ smile vanished, face hardening. “If I can give life to your friends, I can take it away that easily.”

“Are you threating to kill them?” The orange-haired teen felt a wave of worry wash over him at the thought of his friends being hurt.

“No, I ‘m threating to kill them and make you watch as they are tortured. While you won’t be able to do a thing about it.” Swallowing any retort he had ready, the teen clenched his fist – accepting that at this moment, there was nothing he could do. “I see that you have finally accepted.” Gesturing to the long table he pointed his chin at a chair for Ichigo to take a seat. With the other Espada also taking their seat, their leader started the meeting.

“My Espada, today we have gathered here today on an important notice: a new member of my army.” He motioned at Ichigo. “This is the new Cero Espada.”

Silence stretched out for several awkward seconds, before an outburst. Yammy slammed his palms onto the table, waking up Starrk, before laughed hysterically. “Ha, this loser is stronger than me? What a joke!” Almost instantaneously after the words left his mouth, a crushing reiatsu caused him to drop his knees and gasp for air.

“You will not disrespect your superior, Yammy Llargo. Next time, you will not be let off so easy.” Aizen reprimanded his soldier, releasing his hold on the Arrancar.

“It doesn’t make sense, Lord Aizen, the boy is not even an Arrancar - he is Shinigami.” Spoke up Ulquiorra.

“My Cuatro, surely you know the boy is not any normal Soul Reaper. He is what we call a Vizard; a Shinigami with Hollow powers, not much different from how you are Hollows with Shinigami powers.” Ichigo gaped at the fact that Aizen knew of when his Hollow emerged in his training. “Of course I knew Ichigo, I will teach you how to control your Hollow.”

“Then where is his Hollow mask and Hollow hole?” Demanded Grimmjow.

“Like I said, my Sexta, I will train him to use his Hollow’s powers to his advantage.” He turned to his face to the right. “Menoly!” The slender female Arrancar bowed down to Aizen. She had short blonde hair, with her mask covering her right eye, the other eye being deep green.  “Loly!” Another Arrancar appeared by the Menoly’s side, she had black hair tied in two long ponytails with one eye being purple. Loly’s Hollow mask was identical to Menoly’s but she wore it on her left eye.  “Ichigo, these two will be your Fraccion.” Both the girls kneeled down onto one knee, bowing their head in respect.

 


 

The lieutenants gathered around the body of the girl with grave expressions on their faces. The figure laying there was sickening to look at. Her body was twisted in an odd shape, bones and limbs jutting out in different directions. White, blood stained hair spread out like a halo around her head. Rukia stood to her feet, taking the pale gold Zanpakuto in her hands she placed it next to her friend. Most of the lieutenants were pale, no doubt, what they had seen was going to haunt them. Thought Unohana. The dark-skinned Ryoka lifted his head to look the Captain in the eye.

“Captain, can’t you heal her?” The calm voice asked.

“I am truly sorry, but she is beyond saving.” Eying the lifeless teen, she shook her head. “The girl is dead.”

Clutching Uryuu’s shirt tightly, Orihime sobbed into his chest. Toshiro and Ukitake turned away in guilt, feeling that they had failed the teens in not getting there sooner.

“Captain…” Whispered Rukia, pointing at the body, which was now glowing dimly. Zayla’s pale skin had taken on a golden tint from the light, her eyes fluttered open to reveal lifeless gold orbs. There was a sharp intake of breath from the on-lookers as Zayla tilted her head to look at her friends. The red-headed teen was still crying and choking on tears.

“Orihime…” Zayla called softly, recognising her friend’s voice, the teen twisted her head. Slowly lifting her bloody and bruised fingers, the Shadowhunter wiped Orihime’s tears away with the back of her hand. “I’m sorry… I couldn’t stop…Aizen.” She looked up the blue cloud-less sky, her still-lifeless eyes held no emotion. “I promise… I’ll bring Ichigo back…”

Rukia crouched down by Zayla. “And we’ll help you Zayla.”

A ghost of a smile played on the Shadowhunter’s lips at her friend’s words, before she slipped into darkness. One moment, she was staring at blue skies, the next her eyes met a midnight blue sky with dots of stars scattered, she found herself slipping through the air slowly. After a few seconds, her back made contact with a familiar warm silky substance – she was in her Inner World. Raitoenjeru was soon seated beside her, observing his wielder as she looked across the landscape with a distant expression. Hugging her knees to her chest, the Shadowhunter spoke quietly, if not for the constant silence of the place the Zanpakuto Spirit wouldn’t have heard what she said next.

“How Rai?” Zayla asked, making the Spirit glance at her. “How am I still alive?” Raitoenjeru opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again when he sensed another presence.

“Aibou, stop being so depressed.” Came a voice similar to her own but more high pitched. Zayla froze before spinning around to face the person. The figure standing behind her looked like a photo negative of the Shadowhunter; with black sclera and silver orbs for eyes. The twin was an albino, both her skin and hair were snow-white – naturally that would mean the person had a different hair colour to her own but, right now Zayla’s hair was the same colour. The albino’s fingernails were painted black and the shihakusho she wore was white instead of black. Everything, appearance-wise was inverted. “It makes a storm rage down there.” She said pointed a paper-white finger at the ocean below them. The last time she had been here, the ocean was turquoise but right now it was a greyish-blue. Waves collided with each, spraying water as they did so – white foam gathered on the surface. The wind was so strong, that Zayla could see a water tornado forming in the distance.

“Who are you?” The blue-haired teen demanded.

The albino faked stabbing her a knife through her heart at the words. “I am deeply offended that you don’t know me, aibou!”

“Why do you keep calling me that? I’m not your partner, I don’t even know you!” Shouted Zayla in frustration. Facing the other spirit, she asked, “Rai, who is this?”

“That is your Hollow, Kaiyō.He answered in his calm voice. “She is part of your soul, whether you like it or not.”

“A Hollow? But does that make me?”

“You’re a Vizard, like that King.”

“She means Ichigo.” The Zanpakuto replied with a roll of his eyes at the word ‘King’.

“Are you…evil?” Zayla questioned cautiously. To this the Hollow burst into a high-pitched laugh.

“Evil? Very.” She replied, still sniggering. “I devour souls and I work with that Aizen dude. Oh yeah, I ate your soul too.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” She said showing the finger to the smirking albino. “What’s your name?”

“I don’t have one.” She answered, her face falling.

“How about…Leiko?”

“Not bad, I like it.”

“Doesn’t that mean ‘arrogant’?”  Whispered Rai into his master’s ear.

“That’s sort of the point…”

“Being arrogant isn’t bad.” Claimed Leiko . Zayla hummed in response as she regained the distant look on her face. Exchanging glances, Leiko placed a comforting hand on her partner. “Hey, aibou, we’ll save Ichigo together. Me, you, Raitoenjeru together and that little midget can come too.”

“Only I get to call Rukia a midget.” She retorted half-heartedly.

“Kaiyō, think about it. Ichigo isn’t dead or hurt, you would know if he is, wouldn’t you?

“Well if Aizen uses some kind of device that stops her from sensing it…” Leiko trailed off, as Rai gave her a piercing look and mouthed ‘Not helping’.

Shoulders sagging, Zayla lifted her head to stare at the sky as a flash of lightning ripped through the stars. “You didn’t answer my question; how am I still alive? Yammy killed me, I know he did.”

“If he killed you, you wouldn’t be alive right now would you?”

“Exactly.” Rai sharply nudged the Hollow in stomach, giving her a glare that told her the shut her mouth. “So how am I alive…?

“It was me!”  Said a small childish voice. In front of Zayla stood a small girl, no older than three. She had long flowing gold hair and was cloaked in a white tunic, a band of silver-gold floated above her head like a halo. Small white feathery wings sprouted from her back, giving her the appearance of an angle. From behind her stepped a teen whose skin was the colour of periwinkle, his hair a deep sea blue. His entire eye, sclera and all was sea green a wreath of silver was placed around his head – from his looks, Zayla concluded that he was a Faerie and a prince from the Seelie Court at that.

“Wh-who…?” The girl launched herself at the Shadowhunter, wrapping her arms around her legs and clinging onto it. The boy gave her a warm smile before patting her head affectionately.

Let’s sit down and have a talk, eh, Kaiyō?” The boy replied, sitting cross-legged on the light shaft then signalling her Zayla to sit down too. “So, you do know what your father did…right?”

Shifting uncomfortably, the blue-haired teen answered. “He…carried out experiments on Downworlders and demons.”

“Amriel here, she’s one of the Angels, a minor one.” The Faerie explained. “He tried fusing your soul to Amriel, it worked – except for one thing; it caused her to revert back into a child, if she had not the power and heavenly fire in her veins would have disintegrated you on impact.”

“So, she’s bound to me?” Amriel buried her small golden head into the girl’s shihakusho.

“She could have erased you existence during the process, but she chose not – so don’t feel guilty or think she’s trapped inside your Inner World. Amriel chose to serve you instead of kill you.”

“Does she still have her powers?”

“Some of it, like I said, she had to supress and lock it away so as not to damage her soul. Sometimes, she has moments when her true form shines through, normally when you are in a severely injured.”

“That still doesn’t explain how I’m still alive.”

“Seriously aibou, you’re so thick.” Leiko said hitting her upside the head.

“Probably inherited one of your traits.”

Ignoring the pair’s antics, the Faerie continued. “Really, Kaiyō? I would’ve thought you figured it out by now.” Cutting off the Shadowhunter’s retort, he carried on talking. “During the time she shifted form, Amriel brought you back to life.”

“But that can’t be possible, right?”

“Can’t it? You’re still alive.”

Seemingly getting over her shock, the girl stared at the other teen. “What about you? Who are you?”

“During another one of Tomasz’s experiments, he tried using the strength of a demon to enhance a Shadowhunter, but seeing as demon blood in poisonous to the Nephilim, he attempted another way. Knowing that Faeries have both angelic and demonic qualities, he used Faerie blood. I was only three, I don’t really remember what happened. But something went wrong and my body turned to dust. The Shadowhunter that he wanted to enhance was you and like Amriel, my soul fused with yours. It gave me a life inside here.” He said gesturing towards their surroundings.

“Are you in the Seelie Court?” Zayla questioned watching the boy’s face morphed into happiness as he looked across the landscape.

“Yes, my name is Zeki. My mother was Lady Iya of the Seelie Court.” Zayla mouth fell open.

“You-you’re my brother?” She asked still surprised, she didn’t know she had a half-brother, and he was one of her Inner Spirits too. Zayla jolted at that thought before turning around to face everyone. “So, does that mean all of you are my Inner Spirits?”

“You could say that, but technically, only I am your Zanpakuto Spirit.”

“Kaiyō…can you pway wiv me?” Begged Amriel looking up at her with large brown orbs that painfully reminded her of Ichigo. Zayla placed the toddler on her shoulders, small fists digging into her hair and tugging harshly. “Horse!” The girl shouted in delight smacking her hands into the Shadowhunter’s head, ordering her to move. Leiko and Zeki could be heard sniggering in the background. Zayla sighed. Boy, this was going to be a long day.

 


 

Grimmjow stormed into his room. He was positively pissed. How the fuck was he going to fight the brat now? He was the fricking Cero Espada! Any chance he could’ve had of fighting Kurosaki, vanished the moment Aizen introduced him as the ultimate Espada. He shouldn’t even be an Espada without being an Arrancar, much less the greatest warrior in Aizen’s army. Hell, Grimmjow reckoned he could beat the kid without releasing his Resurreccion.

The Sexta Espada kicked the nearest object which happened to be one of Las Noches’ servant Arrancars. The Hollow went flying across the room and through the door. Huh, I probably killed the pathetic Numero. Plopping himself onto the bed, he sulked at the white ceiling. Brown orbs seemed etched behind his eyelids every time he closed them. Those eyes. Those eyes taunted him where ever he went, they looked down on him. He hated him. All he ever wanted was to completely destroy the substitute Shinigami, so much so, he fantasised ripping the kid apart. Gritting his teeth, he stood and made his way out of his room. Grimmjow needed to take his anger out on something before he exploded from the anger he felt building up inside of him. He saw a lanky figure with a spoon-shaped collar and ridiculously-shaped weapon.

“Yo, Nnoitra! Wanna fight?” He called out to the Quinto. Twisting his head, the lanky Arrancar glared at him with one eye. His signature piano-key smile stretched across his face.

“Heh, why would I fight a weakling like ya?” He asked.

“You’re just afraid of me, you know I’m much stronger.” Grimmjow taunted.

“Fuck off.” Was all Nnoitra.

Turned out the goading didn’t work. Sighing, he left to find one of the other Espadas to spar, right now even one of his weakling Fraccion wouldn’t be too bad to fight. One day, he would rip the Cero apart with his hands, watch the eyes that taunt him every day, stare at him in fear as the life left them. Smiling sadistically at the thought, he meandered through the corridors of Las Noches.

Chapter Text

Shiro speaking

Zangetsu speaking

Raitoenjeru speaking

Leiko speaking

‘Thoughts’

 


 

The mask broke, fragments blowing away in the wind and slowly disintegrating. The orange-haired teen stood, panting, before bringing up his sword to block Ulquiorra’s strike. Staring at the Arrancar’s large emerald eyes he pushed him away with his Zanpakuto. Far behind the Cuatro Espada, sat Aizen, casually drinking his tea as if training a Vizard was an everyday occurrence. Biting his lip, he continued to strike at Ulquiorra. He had to gain control over his Hollow, if he failed to do so the consequences were severe; is Hollow would take over and kill everyone he loved.

So pathetic, King… The albino Hollow, who he now called Shiro, taunted. Manic laughter echoed in his mind. Mind letting me take over?

“No…” Ichigo replied through gritted teeth, saying the words out loud without realising. The Cuatro raised an eyebrow at the substitute Shinigami before blocking yet another attack. A soft sigh escaped his lips; the progress being made was slow, impossibly slow. It had taken three days of continuous training for the teen to reach the level of using his mask, and even then, the longest he had been able to keep it on for was twelve seconds. The boy had proven weaker than Ulquiorra had originally thought, he didn’t understand what use Lord Aizen had of him or why he had given Ichigo the position of Cero Espada.

“Enough, Ichigo, Ulquiorra.” Called the voice of Sosuke. Both turned their heads towards the ex-captain. A smile played on Aizen’s face as he sipped his tea. “I think our dear Cero needs a break, don’t you?”

Ichigo glared at the man before using shunpo to exit the training room. There his Fraccion were waiting, seemingly concerned about their Espada.

“Lord Kurosaki…” Both the girls said bowing swiftly, giving a curt nod in response, he flash-stepped to his room with Loly and Menoly following. Once he entered his large bedroom, he hung Zangetsu on the wall beside his bed and collapsed on his bed, not even bothering to change his blood stained, torn uniform. Sinking into the silk sheets, he thought about his friends and sisters. Yuzu and Karin. Dread dawned on him; his sisters were alone in the World of the Living, expecting him and Isshin to return. He imagined Yuzu cooking meals for a father who would never return, for a brother who was serving a mass murderer. Tears pricked at his eyes, swallowing down sobs, he buried his face into a pillow. When he opened his eyes again, he was surrounded by familiar side-ways sky and oddly-rotated buildings.

“Ichigo…” Zangetsu called, balancing on a metal pole, looking as stoic as ever. Realising where he was, Ichigo frantically searched the area for his Hollow. A still white figure in the distance caught his eye. Shiro. Flash-stepping in the albino’s direction, he felt a melancholy aura surrounding his twin. Naturally, Shiro was aggressive and manic, always wanting to fight Ichigo for control over his body- but the albino’s expression was thoughtful, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

“Shiro?” Ichigo said, placing a hand on his shoulder, causing said Hollow to jump.

“King?!” He sputtered looking incredulous. “When did you get here?”

“Seriously, you didn’t know? What were you so engrossed in thinking about that you didn’t realise your arch-nemesis arriving?” Ichigo asked, shocked.

“Who said you were my ‘arch-nemesis’?”  The Hollow muttered. “If you came to fight, let me tell you, I’m not in the mood.”

Ichigo was taken aback. Did Shiro just say he wasn’t in the mood to fight? “I thought your only goal in life was to fight?”

“Ouch. You hurt my feelings.” Shiro replied, half-heartedly, acting out stabbing a knife through his heart.

“You’re a Hollow; you don’t have feelings. Or a heart.” Ichigo snapped back, growing tired of Shiro’s antics. At his words, the albino’s shoulders slumped even lower and he turning away, looking crest-fallen.

“It may have been true, King, but it wasn’t very nice.” Shiro said before flash-stepping across the buildings, far away from Ichigo.

“I have to agree, Ichigo that was rather savage.” Zangetsu chided, watching the disappearing figure of Shiro carefully, then turning his attention back to Ichigo. “He was in a rather depressed mood when you ended your training.”

“I…” Ichigo started trying to explain himself, but being unable to find the words. He felt bad, Shiro- who was never anxious or worried- had been depressed and he just made it worse.

 


 

Emerald eyes scanned the white corridor, a reiatsu lingered in the air. From behind a wall, emerged a scowling blue-haired Espada, looking over Ulquiorra’s shoulder, his scowl deepened.

“Where’s the Kurosaki brat?” He demanded, shoving his fists into his pockets and scanning the room as if Ichigo might be hiding somewhere. The Cuatro mentally snorted at the thought of Ichigo hiding, as if the Shinigami could control his reiatsu to control it to begin with. The idea that Grimmjow was stupid enough to think that he could hide was even more amusing.

“He has retired to his room.” Ulquiorra replied calmly, seeing the Sexta move in the generally direction of the Cero’s room, he moved forward swiftly to grab Grimmjow by the wrist in a vice-like grip. “He shall not be disturbed by trash.”

“What did you call me?!” Shouted Grimmjow, attempting to free himself from the Cuatro’s grip.

“I called you trash.” Answered Ulquiorra evenly.

Grimmjow knew full well that the green-eyed Espada was much more powerful than him, so gritting his teeth he growled at his comrade. “Why does Aizen allow you to train him?”

“Because I am not reckless, and will not kill him in the process.”

“Damn you, I was supposed to fight the brat!” Yelled the Sexta, finally pulling his wrist out of the other Espada’s grasp.

Ulquiorra’s eyes widened ever so slightly. “Are you jealous?”

“Fuck! I’m not jealous, I just want to beat Kurosaki.” Huffed the blue-head, his face reddening at the accusation. Giving one last murderous glare to the Cuatro, he shunpoed away.

Ulquiorra observed his fellow Espada, before reaching a conclusion for Grimmjow’s behaviour. The Sexta was definitely jealous. 

Ugh. Grimmjow was pissed. Again. Ulquiorra had called him jealous? Why would he be jealous of the Cuatro? Clutching his hair, he almost tore it out in frustration. Just at that moment a blonde Arrancar passed him, casting a wary look at the blue-haired Espada before speeding up a little. Familiarity struck him; she was one of the Cero’s Fraccion. Smirking, he grabbed the smaller Hollow by the back of her collar and abruptly pulled her back to face him.

“Where’s Ichigo?” He asked menacingly, his trade-mark psychotic grin splitting his face. Menoly whimpered at the sight, her face paling.

“H-he’s in h-his room, r-resting.” She stuttered, cowering away from the Sexta’s gaze.

“Take me there.” Grimmjow ordered.

“B-but, h-he’s-” The Fraccion was cut off sharply by the other Arrancar.

“Now!” Grimmjow yelled, a manic glint in his eyes. Shaking with fear, Menoly led the way to her master’s room. Without knocking, Grimmjow barged through the door, right into a half-naked Ichigo. The Sexta, who was planning on drawing his sword on the Shinigami the moment he walked in, froze with one foot placed in the room. He had a rather awkward expression on his face. “Errr…”

“Ever heard of knocking, Grimmjow?” Asked an irritated Ichigo with his face reddening by the second.

“Shut up, Kurosaki!” He snapped showing the finger before moving to wait outside, slamming the door behind him.

Sighing, the orange-head pulled on his Espada uniform, running his fingers through his short hair, he faced the mirror. He was one of Aizen’s Espadas now; he wanted to escape the place but he couldn’t risk playing with his friends lives.

You can find a way out of this, Ichigo. You must become stronger. Zangetsu said. Run and you will age, hesitate and you will die.

The sound of someone pounding against his door brought him out from his thoughts. “Hurry up Kurosaki!”

Ichigo swung the door open and scowled at the Espada. “What do you want?”

“We didn’t get to finish our fight last time.” He replied.

“I don’t have time to play your games, go find a ball of string or something.” Ichigo retorted, remembering the time Ulquiorra mentioned the Sexta’s Resurreccion. Grimmjow glowered at the comeback, reaching for his Zanpakuto.

“Mah, mah, we don’t want fights breaking out between comrades.” Said a silky, yet slightly high-pitched voice. Gin appeared between Grimmjow and Ichigo, startling both. “Aizen doesn’t want his precious Cero injured.”

“I can look after myself.” Snapped back the substitute Shinigami, making Gin chuckle lightly.

“Yes, of course.” He replied, his voice laced with sarcasm. Grabbing the Cero by the wrist, he shunpoed to the training rooms where Aizen waited. Grimmjow watched as the orange-head escaped from his sworn re-match once again. Gritting his teeth the reiatsu around him thickened with uncontrollable anger. He was the Espada of destruction. And right now, more than anything, he wanted to destroy Ichigo Kurosaki.

 


 

Rukia observed her unconscious friend, her chest rising and falling with every breath, white hair spilled around her head like a halo. It had been a week since Zayla had entered her coma- as Captain Unohana said, the teen’s hopes were slim. A small twitch of her friend’s finger caught the petite Shinigami’s eye. Almost leaping out of her seat, she rushed toward the Shadowhunter. Eyelids fluttered before golden orbs were unveiled.

“Rukia?” She asked softly, a smile stretching across her features. The raven-head smiled warmly at Zayla, then twisted her head towards the door to call for the Fourth Squad Captain. Unohana entered the room quietly, smiling kindly at the girls before helping her patient to sit up in her bed. The blue-haired teen examined her right hand where Amriel was secured tightly around her wrist.

“How are you doing, Zayla?” Retsu asked, observing the Shadowhunter.

“I feel much better, Captain.” She answered. Swinging her legs over the side of the bed to get up. Just then her friends rushed in; Orihime, Chad, Uryuu and Renji looked relieved as their friend stood rather steadily on her feet. “When can we go after Aizen?”

“Ah…” Renji scratched the back of his neck, nervously. “The Head Captain suggests we wait until we can find a way to enter Heuco Mundo.”  

“Heuco Mundo?” Zayla asked.

“Heuco Mundo is the Hollow World, it’s where the hollows in the World of the Living come from. That’s where Aizen has taken Ichigo.”

“Can’t we get there through a Senkaimon?” This time the question was asked by Uryuu.

“No, it’s not possible.” Rukia replied. “Hollows enter Heuco Mundo using a Garganta, or a Negacion as Aizen did. Both require a Hollow.”

“How long will it take to find a way?” The blue-head demanded trough gritted teeth.

“I reckon around four or five days.” Answered Renji.

A look passed the Shadowhunter’s face but it went as quick as it came. “How’re are Yuzu and Karin?” She inquired in a voice so quiet, it was almost a whisper.

“Kon is looking after them, Kisuke checks on them now and then.” Said Rukia.

“Perfect; two perverts are with them.” She retorted half-heartedly. Glancing up at her friends, she walked out of the room to the field outside. Inhaling the fresh air, a sense of homesickness overcame the teen; the scenery reminded her so much of home. Pink, Purple and Orange hues highlighted the sky, bringing back memories of when she first met Ichigo; when he saved her from the Hollow. Then the one day they spent killing Hollows and demons, when they both became parabatai and when they had trained together. She had sworn to protect him, but then Aizen… She was weak, so weak. Yammy had swung her about like a doll, but she could do nothing.

Quit blaming yourself aibou, it’s pouring in here!

Finally, Leiko has said something smart.

‘How can I not blame myself? If only I had actually achieved Bankai-‘

And then what…? Aizen was stronger than the Captains themselves. Stop whining about what already happened and think about what you’re going to do next.

Surprising how spending time with your Hollow has actually had an effect. Rai muttered in the back of her mind. Leiko is right, she should think about how she’ll do next instead of lingering on the past. The sound of the shoji door sliding open brought Zayla back from her thoughts, twisting her head around, she saw Rukia.

“We’re going to the World of the Living, you coming?” She asked.

“I’ll come.” Zayla replied. She hurried back into the room to pull on a shihakusho and grabbed her Zanpakuto before following the raven-head to the Seireitei’s Senkaimon, where they met with Orihime, Uryuu and Chad. The group entered the through the Senkaimon, after a short walk through the Dangai, they arrived in front of Ichigo’s house.

“Are you going to tell them what happened to Isshin?” Questioned Uryuu. Rukia and Zayla stiffened the words.

“It our place to tell them, they need Ichigo for this.” Rukia answered.

“But Yuzu and Karin think that Kon is Ichigo…” Orihime said, stating what everyone was thinking.  Shaking her head Rukia moved forward to knock on the door, only to have to swing open by Kon himself.

“Where’s Ichigo?” He whispered. Everyone suddenly seemed interested in the floor, dropping their heads low and not meeting Kon’s eyes. “Wh-what happened?”

“Let’s go to Urahara’s, I’ll explain.” Zayla said.

Once they were all seated in the Urahara Shoten, no-one seemed eager to explain.

“What happened?” Asked Kon once more. An awkward silence hung in the air, even the blunt Chad was hesitant to explain. As the silence stretched out, Kon grew more and more impatient with the group’s behaviour. “Will someone -”

He was cut off when Zayla’s phone started vibrating loudly. Glancing at the phone, the Shadowhunter grew tense. “Sorry.” She muttered, grabbing the phone and leaving the room.

“Tell me what happened, Rukia.” Demanded Kon, in an unusually serious voice.

“I was in the Repentance tower before I was taken to the Sokyoku Hill, but when I got there Sosuke Aizen, the Captain of the Fifth Squad, was there and he -”

The shoji door slid open to a pissed off Zayla. She clutched her phone in a crushing grip, a scowl engraved into her features. “I have to go to Idris.”

“Idris?” Uryuu looked up questioningly.

“Home of Shadowhunters.” Rukia said to Uryuu before turning her attention back to Zayla. “Why?”

“War has broken out, they need every Nephilim to fight.”

“What about Ichigo?” Chad asked.

“I’ll be back then, I’m sure. It should be over in a few days.” She assured her friends. “Tell me if you make any progress in the plan.” The Shadowhunter called out over her shoulder, walking out of the room.

A stunned silence enveloped the small group as they watched their friend leave. Rukia couldn’t but feel a foreboding sense of worry wash over her.

 


 

The doors to throne room of Las Noches flung open, revealing a small group of Arrancar lead by Ulquiorra. The group made their way to the centre of the room and knelt on one knee to their Lord. Aizen was seated on the throne, his watchful eyes scanning over his creations a small knowing smile stretching across his features. Two of his more trusted companions stood by him, Tousen and Ichimaru.

“Ulquiorra.” Aizen called, elongating the name. The Cuatro lifted his head to meet the ex-Captain’s glare. “How’s my dear Cero faring?”

“He is training with Halibel. He seems to be making quick progress since his last training session with me, my Lord.”

“Why do you reckon that is?” Aizen inquired.

“It may be because he formed a pact with his Hollow, my Lord.” Replied the emo-like Espada.

Sosuke smirked at the answer. “How are the preparations going?”

“Well, Lord Aizen.”

“When will it take place?”

“In two days.”

Chapter Text

Ichigo made his way down the corridor to his next training session with Starrk, feeling dizzy and nauseated. The training with Halibel had gone pretty well; Shiro hadn’t put up much of a fight when he tried to use his hollow powers, in fact, the albino had been docile. The teen paused abruptly in realisation, the pounding headache became a piercing pain as if a metal clamp was squeezing his head which was filled with several needles. Eventually, his knees gave away and the orange-head fell to the ground, the sound echoing in the corridor. Every muscle went slack, refusing to move. Vision blurring, he looked up to see the huge double doors leading to the training room a few metres away. As seconds passed, his reiatsu started fluctuating wildly.

“Look like the Cero needs help. May as well put ya out of ya misery, eh?” The Quinto’s voice came floating softly. Tilting his head up, he saw one beady eye glaring at him hate before the Espada hefted his double-crescent blade up for the kill. “Think ya stronger than me, brat?” Nnoitra swung his blade back, all time seemed to slow down as the blade moved agonisingly slowly. Dammit.

A blur of teal and appeared before the orange-head. Clang. The sound of metal against metal rang in his ears. As his eyes adjusted, Ichigo was able to see the figure clearly. A hole through the abdomen and ridiculously bright blue hair gelled up. Grimmjow.

“Damn you Nnoitra, why fucking trying to kill Kurosaki?!” Yelled Grimmjow in frustration, pushing against his sword arm in an attempt to shove the stronger Espada back.

“I thought you wanted him dead, Jaegerjaquez?” Asked Nnoitra shocked that the Sexta was defending the ‘Shinigami brat’.

“I like to fight and kill my prey, bastard. I don’t stoop so low as to kill someone when they can’t fight back.” Grimmjow shouted back, finally thrusting Nnoitra off his Zanpakuto to put space between them. “Where’s the fun in that?!” A blood-thirsty glint had returned to his eyes, an insane grin caused his jaw mask to split in half as he cackled. Once again, Ichigo vision hazed until the Espada before him were nothing but smudges of white, black and blue. Sensing the Cero’s weakness, Nnoitra appeared behind the teen in a flash of sonido. The last words he heard, resounded inside his head.

Sorry, King. It’s for your own good.

Grimmjow watched as the orange-head fell forward, his face crashing into the floor. When he faced the direction of his opponent again, the Quinto had disappeared. Grimmjow made the mistake of assuming Nnoitra had left, but the Sexta’s heightened hearing caught the soft whistle of wind as a blade was swiftly draw back. Spinning on his heels, he saw the spoon Espada’s double crescent Zanpakuto inches away from his prey’s spine. Panic rose in his chest as the razor edge neared Kurosaki’s body. He wasn’t fast enough. He would never make it. Not unless…

“Grind, Pantera.” An electric blue light swallowed the trio, Grimmjow’s reiatsu flaring highly and killing off weaker hollows in a mile radius. The light blinded Nnoitra momentarily, and that moment was all the blue-haired Espada needed to block his opponent’s blade. When Nnoitra had regained his sight he found the Sexta pushing against his sword using his forearm that was covered in some sort of white armour. Tersely, the Quinto’s head snapped up, grinning his piano-key tooth grin, he shot off in the opposite direction of the Cero. Grimmjow scowled at his opponents retreat and made to follow him when a hand latched around his bicep, gripping it so tightly that he felt it through his armour clad arm.

“What are you doing Grimmjow?” Green eyes stared back at cerulean orbs, Ulquiorra’s lips barely moved as he spoke. “What did you do Kurosaki? I didn’t think killing a disadvantaged opponent was your style.”

“I…” Grimmjow sputtered, unable to find words to respond to the accusation.

“Lord Aizen strictly forbids such attacks on the Cero.” Ulquiorra states, moving towards the unconscious teen. “You will be punished.”

“I didn’t do shit to him! He just kinda…fainted.” Ulquiorra raised an eyebrow ever so slightly. “Nnoitra was the one who tried killing him!”

The Cuatro, who was hefting Ichigo into his arms, twisted his body around to glare intensely at Grimmjow’s Resurreccion. “Why are you in your Resurreccion then?”

“I was trying to save the brat’s ass from Nnoitra!” Said Grimmjow, throwing up his arms in frustration.

“As much I know, you’re the one who wants to kill Kurosaki.” Replied the emo Espada before sonidoing away to the infirmary. Grimmjow stared after him in mild shock, before shaking himself a bit to release the trance, his Resurreccion fading away in the process. Great, now he was going to be punished by that Aizen bastard, for fucking helping that Shinigami brat. After all the brat was his prey, and only he would kill him.

Then why haven’t you already? The voice at the back of his head asked. The Sexta shook his head furiously; he had been hearing a strange, but almost familiar voice, lately and it was driving him insane. Not that he wasn’t insane already… The voice was chuckling softly now.

Fuck off. He growled mentally before stalking off in the direction of the infirmary. Yet, the question still lingered, he could sense the curiosity practically vibrating from the voice, stopping for a second, he thought. Why didn’t I kill the brat already?

Do you hate him? The voice inquired.

Of course! Grimmjow screamed mentally, in response. It’s just…Aizen ordered us to not hurt the Cero. He said there are consequences.

Didn’t know you were the type to follow Aizen’s orders or fear his punishments. Sarcasm was laced into the voice, which only served to piss the Sexta off even more.

Who the fuck are you? He yelled, clutching his head in his hands. The voice didn’t respond, silently observing his actions. Grimmjow felt as if what was left of his sanity was being eaten away. Tell me!

“Grimmjow.” Halibel’s voice shattered his concentration, the Sexta’s head snapped up to meet the Tercera, who was watching him intently. “Lord Aizen has summoned you to his throne room.” She stated. The blue-head stared at her with narrowed eyes, trying to get over his anger at the voice. “Is something wrong?” She asked raising an eyebrow at his odd behaviour.

“No.” He muttered, pushing past Halibel. That voice will be the death of me. He thought as he walked briskly to the throne room. The instant, he pushed open the doors to the room an intense spiritual pressure crushed him, forcing the Sexta to his knees.

“My dear, Sexta…” Aizen called, by now Grimmjow was sweating profusely under the pressure. Ulquiorra, who was also present in the room sonidoed over to the blue-head and brought down a foot on his head. “What were my orders?”

“To not hurt, Kurosaki.” Grimmjow hissed, at this Ulquiorra twisted his foot into the side of his face.

“And what did you go and do?” Aizen asked.

“I didn’t…hurt him…” Blood spurted past his lips. “Nnoitra…tried to…”

“Your reiatsu output was so strong, I felt it here.” Aizen replied, motioning for the Cuatro to step away. Grimmjow, felt his head being released and jumped up onto his feat.

“I told you, Nnoitra tried killing him.” The Sexta responded, wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth all the while glowering at Ulquiorra. Aizen sighed before turning to Kaname Tousen to discuss the Sexta’s punishment. Grimmjow balled his fists before spiting blood on the floor in front of the green-eyed Espada.

“Pathetic trash.” Ulquiorra muttered, receiving the finger from Grimmjow. Narrowing his eyes at the blue-head, the Cuatro gripped the hilt of his sword tightly, noticing his actions, Grimmjow grinned.

The ex-Captains seemingly finished their conversation, turned their attention back to Grimmjow. “Sexta.” Tousen called, shunpoing to stand in front of the Espada. “You have disobeyed Lord Aizen’s orders and have attempted to kill the Cero.” He paused, waiting for a response, but Grimmjow did nothing but stare back at him with hate imprinted in cerulean orbs. “Therefore, you will receive severe punishment.”

Grimmjow scowled; Tousen was looking rather satisfied which meant something bad for him. Aizen was sitting with his chin in his palm, observing the exchange in amusement. Grimmjow froze the moment his eyes laid on Gin. That was the moment he knew he was doomed. The fox-faced ex-Captain had opened his eyes to watch him- up till now the Sexta didn’t know that Gin’s eyes even existed. A sense of foreboding sent chills down his spine making him shudder, tearing his eyes away from Ichimaru, he brought his attention back to Kaname. The next words he heard echoed throughout the room.

“You will serve as the Octava’s Fraccion.”

 


 

The Institute was empty. There was no one in the building, with most of the weapons missing as well. Zayla swore loudly as she searched the rooms, one by one but to no avail. She swung the door to the main office in frustration to find that the portal wasn’t shimmering to show recent activity. Her mind clouded over with confusion as her eyes scanned over the room. Pulling her phone out, she called Isabelle, seconds stretched out with the Shadowhunter’s scowl deepening. For fuck’s sake!

Calm down, Kaiyō. Take a moment to think.

Hey, aibou! Why don’t you open a portal into Idris?

Oh I don’t know, maybe because she would get torn apart by the restrictive currents from the wards surrounding Idris? Use your brain, baka.

Does she even have one? 

Hey who you calling baka?

Zayla could practically feel a tick mark on her temple. Will you guys quit arguing?! All the spirits chorused an apology, falling silent immediately after. The vibrating of her phone made her jump, fumbling for her pocket, Zayla answered the call.

“Yo, Izzy. I came to the Karakura Institute, but no one’s here. The portal won’t open without the other side allowing it.”

“Ah yeah, they just closed the portal from Karakura. Give me a minute.” The faint sound of Izzy shouting for someone and scuffling sounds in the background could be heard. “Magnus will be opening the portal about…now!”

The teen’s head snapped to the side just as the portal door started shimmering and glowing white. “I’ll be right there!” She barked into the phone before stuffing it back into her jeans and sprinting into the sea of white. Traveling through the portal was like sky-diving, not that Zayla had ever done that before. It was what she imagined sky-diving would be like. The wind was so intense that she could feel her skin stretching out tightly across her face as she fell.  Abruptly, the sensation stopped and she stumbled forward.

“Woah there!” Said a voice, steadying the blue head. Zayla’s golden orbs lifted to meat cat eyes.

“Oh hey Magnus!” Greeted the Shadowhunter smiling warmly at the warlock before looking around the room at her friends. The Lightwoods, the Blackthorns and Emma were surrounding here looking relieved that she’d made it. Izzy came forward and enveloped her in a bone-crushing hug. “Yeah, missed you too Iz.” She said before greeting all the others individually. Zayla felt a little guilty that she had dismissed them during her time in Karakura; after all some of these people were her closest friends and people she trusted with her life. Mark and Aline, especially looked like they wanted to talk to her but Izzy spoke up before the blue-head could say anything.

“Zayla, why don’t you rest for a while?” Isabelle suggested.

“We’ll take her there!” Julian piped up, dragging Emma along with him. The pair pulled Zayla in the direction of the Inquisitor’s home.

“So, what’s up?” Asked the Soul Reaper averting to small talk.

“We’re going to be parabatai!” Exclaimed Emma, an awkward silence broke out as Zayla thought about her own parabatai. Sensing the awkwardness, Emma quickly changed the topic. “Guess what just happened in the meeting?”

“Let me explain!” Yelled Julian ecstatically. “We were in the Hall of Accords when this long sword just appeared out of nowhere, right in the middle. It almost cut off the Consul’s ear-!”

“Then, just as quickly as it had come, it disappeared.” Finished off Emma.

“Mhm…” The blue-head hummed absentmindedly as the two chattered away about all kinds of things. She wondered what Ichigo would be doing right now, would he be sleeping? What time was it in Heuco Mundo? Was Aizen - ?

“Zayla? You even listening?” Emma asked. “Is everything alright?”

“Huh? Yeah.” She replied. The pair stopped right in front of a door, before Julian and Emma could say more, the teen barged into the room and closed it in their faces. Stunned at her odd behaviour, the to-be-parabatai made their way back to the training room. The bedroom was neat and well-furnished, the Soul Reaper noted, but of course it would be; it was the Inquisitor’s home after all. Settling on the double-bed, the teen examined her Substitute Soul Reaper Badge and Mod Soul, she didn’t know why she brought it- it wasn’t like she needed or wanted to use it in Indris. Closing her eyes, she entered her mind-scape, greeted by the familiar greyish thunder clouds and lightning-streaked skies. Before her stood all her Inner spirits, save Amriel, they appeared to be concerned.

“What’s up Kaiyō?”

“Nothing much. I just wanted to ask Rai something.” She turned towards her Zanpakuto spirit. “You told me to bring my badge and Mod Soul, but why?”

Tilting his head to the side, the spirit seemed to be considering something. “You might need it, it’s best to keep it with you.”

“You can always my mask, aibou.” Leiko said winking exaggeratingly.

“So that they can get their holy water and exorcise me? Yeah, funny.”

“But, Kaiyō, I don’t recommend using it in the war.” The spirit continued, taking a seat in on the shaft of light. “You can’t have anyone knowing that you’re a Soul Reaper, it’s best to keep the Soul Society and the Shadow World separate. It has been that way for years and we can’t disrupt the balance now.”

The teen nodded in understanding, before searching the area for Amriel. Feeling something tug on her trousers, the Soul Reaper looked down to see the little girl smiling up at her, wings fluttering softly. Holding her arms out, she clenched and unclenched her fists- asking for the blue-head to pick her up. Lifting the angel into her arms, Zayla grunted. “You’re heavier than you look.” In response, the girl slapped chubby hands to her cheeks repetitively. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry.” But the girl grabbed a fist-full of blue hair and tugged hard, yanking a few strands out. “Holy-!” The sound of shrill laughter could be heard as the girl, poked her in the eye. Zayla glared with one eye at her hollow who was holding her sides, doubling over in hysterics.

“Hah, aibou, you have got to be the only person that gets bullied by a little kid!” The albino teased, gasping for air.

“Some ‘angel’ she is.” Zayla replied shoving Amriel into Zeki’s arms, who was grinning widely. Even her Zanpakuto was looking amused at the teen’s antics.

“What were those two kids talking about?” Asked Rai, randomly.

“Who?”

“Those two kids that were with you before…?”

“Oh, Emma and Julian?”

“They were talking about some sword that appeared in the Hall of Accords.” They Zanpakuto mused, half to himself.

“They were?”

“Yeah, they were. While you decided to zone out.”

Rai nodded in agreement. “Something sounds a little…off about that.” As an afterthought, he added. “Do you have any idea what they’re talking about?”

“Honestly? Don’t know and don’t care. Lots of strange things happen in the Shadow World.”

“Kaiyō-” Rai was cut off by Zeki, who quickly grabbed her by her shoulder.

“Something’s going on out there, quick go!”

Zayla sat up, abruptly to the sound of raised voices in the corridor. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, the teen moved closer to the door, yet the voices were still muffled- she couldn’t make out the words. Taking long strides, she reached the other end of her room to peer out the window. It was chaos out on the streets; young children were running in the direction of the Hall of Accords a few teens helping them reach safety. From what, or whom the Soul Reaper didn’t know. Groups of armed Shadowhunter were lined up, working as human shields for the children behind them. The ground shook and several windows of the houses before her shattered, raining glass on the retreating kids many of the Nephilim threw themselves in front of the children in a vain attempt to protect them. The skies became dark and heavy, not the usual dish water colour she had grown accustomed to, living in England but a sort of grey-black that screamed malevolent.

The door to her room crashed down behind her, revealing Alec clutching his bow a quiver of arrows strapped to his back. Zayla didn’t need to hear the next words to confirm her thoughts; she knew it was inevitable. “It’s begun.”