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.
“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.”