Chapter 1: The White Mafia
It was no more than a normal mission in the eyes of the 12 th Raven . Just an ordinary mission, perhaps a bit higher-risk than what normally got handed to a single Raven, but the 12 th Raven ha d had a reliable track record for a while and wa s stronger than most Ravens besides. So the 12 th Raven, the Crimson Seraph, never thought to suspect anything.
Kisuke Urahara trudged through the small city that served as the only major town in the 56 th District of Rukongai, searching for the local mafia don.
“Sorry mister!” a child shouted when they ran into him.
Kisuke’s hand shot out. “Return my money, if you please,” he said, voice jovial.
The child pouted at him but reluctantly returned the few coins that had been resting in his pockets. Kisuke handed back a couple bits back, and then let go of the wrist he had caught. “Get better next time, kid.”
The child ran off with a scowl. Kisuke smiled sadly, reminded of another child who’d scowled more than smiled.
He shook the memory off.
Now wasn’t the time to dwell on the past like that. He’s committed a heinous crime. He didn’t deserve to see Ichigo again.
Someone ran into him again. This time, Kisuke let them go off. He’d recognised the subordinate of a certain mafia family. It would be child’s play to follow the man who had made off with the seeded lire.
With almost pointed resol ve , he turned to follow the mo bs ter who had pick-pocketed him.
The mobster — who he’d nicknamed Floof Hair at this point — lead him on a merry goose chase through the city. At one point, Kisuke had even entertained the thought that Floof Hair ha d caught onto him and was just leading him around to waste his time. At least until he noticed that Floof Hair was being very careful to bump into a few certain people as well as random civilians and had returned to the same few locals a couple times over.
When night finally fell, Kisuke had tailed Floof Hair through half the town and into an abandoned factory. He scaled the building quickly, dodging the sight-lines of guards , until he reached a n extremely out-of-place but also sheltered window ledge. He climbed into the alcove and pried the window open a crack.
“…. g ot all the messages sent around, Boss. Micheal wanted to know if you wanted to get into contact with the White Mafia,”
“Tell Micheal to order in another ten guns and another numbered h ō gyoku .”
Kisuke had heard enough.
He pulled up his crimson hood, tugged his face-scarf into place, threw open the window , and leapt down onto a catwalk with a loud clang.
A red envelope fluttered to the ground at the mafia don’s feet.
“Oh fu ck.”
Kisuke leapt down from the catwalk, sword swinging loose and wide and already transitioning into a whip made of razor wire and shards of steel.
“The Crimson Seraph?!”
“ Who is this White Mafia that you’ve bought hōgyoku from?” Kisuke asked cheerfully, completely at odds to the deadly whip lashing the ground in a screeching of metal and scattering of sparks, “If you tell me, I might be inclined to make your death quick. I need to dissuade people from using hōgyoku, see, and in my experience, that’s always best done with an example. You don’t want to be my example, do you?”
The mafia don swallowed thickly. “ I don’t know who the White Mafia is. I just know that they’re willing to sell us the hōgyoku we need to take over the area.”
Kisuke ducked a literal bullet and tutted. “Did you really think I wouldn’t notice? My, my, being a bit naughty, are we? Well then, don’t mind me if I return the favor !”
He whipped around to face Floof Hair and shot out with his whip. A flick of his wrist and a hard jerk and the metal whip wrapped around gun, finger, hand, and wrist and shredded it. The bloody meat that was Floof Hair’s hand dropped to the ground . A beat of silence. Floof Hair screamed, loud and high, and Kisuke turned around to face the mafia don again.
The mafia don had a gun in hand, sleek, long barreled , and stamped with a symbol that Kisuke knew as intimately as he knew his Crimson Princess . Hōgyoku . Then his eyes flew to the number stamped into the weapon next to that hated logo. No.125 . The raining bullets of tragedy. Bullets would move in unpredictable movements after exiting the barrel and converge on an area no larger than a meter squared, making it unpredictable and hard to avoid whilst still effective against a single target . Best used against a single opponent or a back-to-back pair.
Kisuke had been especially proud of creating the mechanisms within the barrel for the unpredictable movements of the bullets.
The mafia don laughed maniacally at him. “Witness the power of the hōgyoku, the power that could allow anyone to kill even the Crimson Seraph !”
Bullets flew towards him . Kisuke’s eyes widened. He dodged the initial volley as much as he could. Inevitably, some of his clothes gained new holes he would have to patch up afterwards.
“You ma y be able to dodge for now, but with t his numbered hōgyoku, ‘ the raining bullets of tragedy ’, the impossible-to-predict bullets , this ‘black rain’, I will have your head!”
Kisuke snarled, just barely dodging . Too close. Too close. Too close!
He spun , whip shifting around him to form a cage of razor wire that shredded the bullets.
Too close. Too close . Too close!!
His vision shifted .
The colors of the world dulled in vibrancy, the mob boss became high-lighted in red , and the bullets racing for him slowed and glowed a bloody violent red .
Kisuke dodged the spinning orbs of light and lashed out with his whip again. The links of his Crimson Princess wrapped around the hōgyoku and a sharp tug, shattered it.
Kisuke advanced on the shocked mafia boss, whip turned into sword, and eyes crimson from his Blood Eyes.
“One last chance,” he said, “tell me who the White Mafia is, tell me who sold you the hōgyoku is, and I won’t make your death as agonizing as possible ,”
“I don’t know! I don’t know!” The mafia don screamed, voice high and reedy, desperate.
“I have no need to delay the execution order any longer then, do I?” Kisuke asked softly, stepping forward until the man’s still outstretched fingers touched his chest.
The mafia don’s eyes bulged.
A quick drop to the floor and a swift strike took the man’s legs off at the knees and another separated his arms from his torso. Kisuke watched dispassionately at the screaming man. He bisected the head to shut it up.
A flash of gold.
He whipped his head around.
A familiar voice spoke, one that belonged to his biggest regret, one that he could never forget, “Looking for me?”
Chapter 2: Reverse Number
“Ichigo...?” he asked, pleaded, “is that you?”
“I’m surprised that you still remember me,” Ichigo said with a bitter smile, “after you abandoned us without a second thought,”
“What? No—I never —”
Ichigo pulled out a long, thin but wide box by the handle on one end.
His heart skipped a beat.
“Do you remember this? My 001 hogyōku , Heaven-Chain Slaying-Moon , made by the father of the H ogyōku himself. ”
It was like being shot through the heart, the dead tone that Ichigo used to speak about him, the way Ichigo wouldn’t acknowledge him.
He dodged, rolling to the side.
With deliberate slowness, Ichigo retracted the chain on his hogyōku . With a dull thunk, the sharpened end of the chain retracted fully into the tall metal scabbard.
He knew this weapon intimately, and he hated being forced to face it.
The scabbard was tall and metal, with a chain rolled up in it and a system to retract and shoot the chain. The sword that accompanied it was honed to a fine edge that could be used to produce blades of wind if the right force w a s a pplied. The grip also had a button to retract and shorten the blade so that it was more akin to a long knife or short sword and could be held backhand. The scabbard was large enough that it could also be used as a shield and the chain thin and strong enough that it could use hooked into the hilt of the sword to be swung around.
Kisuke had been so proud.
He still was.
A blade of wind scythed through the air towards him, visible only as an arc of crimson energy. He dove to the side, rolled under another deadly whistle of wind, somersaulted over yet another.
He ran for Ichigo and thumbed a discrete button, sword-cane snapping into whip form. A quick loop of whip snapped tight around the scabbard. Ichigo’s sword thrust towards his face. He leaned back, jerked the whip back over his head jerking the scabbard out of Ichigo’s grip, and the sword passed over his head. His back hit the floor with a thud and knocked all the breath of out of him. Ichigo’s sword followed him down. Kisuke swung his whip forwards desperately. The scabbard hit Ichigo in the side of the head. Kisuke winced at the soft crunch and the bleed of purple that indicated a concussion but grabbed the length of his whip in both hands and caught the falling sword. Metal bit deep, and red ran down his arms. Ichigo fell onto his stomach, the impact leaving him breathless again.
Kisuke let his head fall onto the ground gently.
Carefully, he shimmied out from under Ichigo, cradling Ichigo’s head and laying it on the ground gently. Then he went about untangling his Crimson Princess from the Heaven-Chain Slaying-Moon, a task that caused him to wince multiple times when he saw the scratches and damage that he’d left. When he finally left snapped his Crimson Princess into its sword form, the 001 hōgyoku was two bloodied slabs of metal. He eyed it for a moment. Ichigo would tell Sōsuke about him, no two ways around it, there wasn’t any point in trying to destroy his bloody evidence.
His hand hovered over the three subtle switches built into the scabbard. He closed his eyes and turned his head away in shame. H e slowly, shakily took the scabbard and its mechanisms apart.
He dashed his tears away. Red Raven wouldn’t be able to keep Ichigo contained as it was currently. This was the best way. It had to be.
It had to be.
He didn’t bother bandaging his hands, just tucked his Crimson Princess back into its wooden, cane scabbard, cleaned up the blood all over the rest of him, pulled down his hood and topped his whole mad ensemble off with a green and white striped bucket hat and that innocuously mad persona he wore like a mask and was just as recognisable by the right people.
He hoped they’d meet again soon.
“ Urahara Kisuke,” Kisuke chirped into the phone , “ Sasakibe’s personal line, please ~ ”
A click, and then Nanao’s calmly furious voice came over the line. “Can you please explain to me why you’re calling from a public pay phone rather than through your Raven?”
“Ah~ ” he said, singsong, “D earest Nanao ! I’m afraid that a Raven would be a mite conspicuous here, so I sent Yoruichi away while I’m in town.”
A sigh crackled over the phone. “Please don’t tell me you’re still in Ho ko rippo ino ,”
“I’m definitely not still in Hokorippoino ,” he cackled.
“ Once your business is conducted, please reconvene with your Raven and return to Headquarters immediately. Understood?”
Nanao’s chilly tone didn’t undermine his fun one wit. “Understood~~”
“Patching you through to Sasakibe now .”
Two clicks later, a gruff, accented male voice was on the line. “Urahara, this is Sasakibe , make your report,”
“Execution letter has been successfully enacted upon, the Millea Family has scattered after the death of the boss and the main people in charge.” Kisuke paused. “ I-- the White Mafia. The one we’ve been hearing rumours of. It’s Ichigo .”
There was silence on the other end of the line. “Make the rest of your report in person,” Sasakibe finally said, words sharp and clipped, “and I expect you back within the week,”
“I’ll be there.” Kisuke set the phone down in it’s cradle with a soft click , and spoke softly to himself, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,”
Chapter 3: Shattered Shards of the Hōgyoku
“Kisuke Urahara,” the robot said, hissing crackling into static spitting, “What were you thinking?”
“Ah,” he said lightly, one hand tipping down his hat, “I wasn’t really. Thinking that is.”
A squawk of indignation, and he was suddenly fending off sharp beak and claws. “Thinking, Kisuke Urahara, is your job!”
“Oi, what’s happening back there? My cargo’s safe, right?”
“It’s all good!” Kisuke shouted back, “Everything’s in one piece!”
“Yoru,” he hissed to the robot, a frozen smile on his face, “please do not give us away with your jabbering—”
“Aren’t you the head of the Wandenreich?”
The two of them froze. “Did he just say Wandenreich,” Kisuke asked, voice so flat it was more a statement than a question.
Kisuke hid behind a crate, tucking an uncomplaining Yoru in the space between. They sat there for several breathless moments, listening to the driver and Jugram Haschwalth chat. Thankfully, the driver didn’t give them away, but that only made Kisuke tenser and more suspicious.
He cradled the neck of his Crimson Princess in one hand and placed the other on the cane head.
Sure enough, a gun clicked loaded in the driver’s hand and the barrel stared at him through the window of the carriage. He sighed and burst out through the back of the carriage with a leap to dodge the bullet and give himself some more room to manoeuvre.
Kisuke’s eyes blew wide. This factory!
“Until 15 years ago, I worked at this facility,” The driver told him, arms spread wide as if in benediction, “I was both a soldier and a researcher,”
“Hōgyoku...” he whispered, stunned.
A crazed smile blossomed on the driver’s face and he spun with arms flung out wide as he shouted. “Indeed! The Hōgyoku’s ideology is flawless! We must carry on their will and create new weapons!”
The driver’s arms drooped to his sides. “You’re Red Raven, right?” The driver didn’t wait for an answer before he continued. “We knew you would be coming to this town... but your timing could not have been better! It seems everyone believes the executioner to be able-bodied. So even the Caccini overlooked you,” The driver pulled out a massive machine gun with crossbow limbs, as tall as the driver, “Red Raven... I have no doubts about your power. I will put it to good use under the Hōgyoku! But first,” the driver pulled the trigger, sending three massive metal bolts flying at him, “let’s take a look at your ‘power’!”
No.122. The arrows of heaven. A massive mechanical crossbow that could shoot three huge metal bolts at a time, and with an unautomated reload system that was so fast as to be ungodly.
His rage bubbled over. Kisuke smashed the bolts into pieces with his Crimson Princess. “Seriously,” he muttered, “can’t you stop reminding me of these memories I want to leave behind...?”
“Wha-” the driver got over his shock and desperately fired again and again.
“You minions of the Hōgyoku... none of you... not a single one really knew about the goals of the Hōgyoku, about the goals of the founders of the Hōgyoku,” Kisuke hissed twirling his Crimson Princess and her cane-exterior scabbard, smashing his way through the deadly steel rain towards the driver, “And you talk about your twisted fucking ideals as if they were shared by the Hōgyoku, you’re disgusting,”
“SHUT UP!” The driver shouted maniacally, firing as fast as he could reload the requisite three bolts and pull the trigger, “Don’t you talk like you know everything! Hōgyoku will rule the world! What do you know about the Hōgyoku!!” the driver snarled, finger clicking empty on the trigger and pile of bolts gone.
Kisuke stilled, only his loose clothes billowing in the backwash of air. “You asked ‘what do I know’?,” Kisuke steadied his footing and held his Crimson Princess low and to the side, “That Hōgyoku was my creation, fool.”
He swung up, thumbed the switch, and it was a long-reaching whip that ripped through the no.122 Hōgyoku.
“Possession of illegal weapons, conspiracy to manufacture and disperse illegal weapons, attempted murder of a Raven, suspicions of conspiracy to commit murder... I do believe that... an immediate execution is required!” A knife-sharp smile cut across his face. “You won’t struggle, will you?” He brought his Crimson Princess up to his face, uncaring of the way the metal shards cut into his cheek as he rubbed his cheek against it.
“The— the Crimson Seraph!” the driver turned a ghostly pale.
Kisuke tilted his head in predatory consideration, the metal slicing deeper as he leaned into it. “‘Tis I, ‘tis I,” he murmured, smile drawing wider into a crazed, half-glasgow affair.
The driver’s expression twisted again, into something equally half-crazed and grimly determined. He pulled another weapon out from under his coat, a small handgun.
No. 132. A handgun that could shoot unusually large rounds but was otherwise unremarkable except in its relative stealth.
He ducked down, running low to the ground. The bullets passed overhead, one brushing his hair as he twisted to dodge the shining ruby death seeking out his head. He slapped a hand on the ground, boosted himself back to his feet, ran for the driver. Another trio of bullets sprayed towards him. He dodged high, leaping up into the air and catching the bright sparks of danger in his whip and shattering them.
The driver backed away, firing all the while. Kisuke dodged and ducked, swinging his Crimson Princess frenziedly and clicking rapidly between sword and whip to destroy each bullet that bloomed to life in the vision granted to him by his Blood Eyes. He reached the driver, let his chest lead and turned to dodge one last baleful star and flicked his wrist as he fell to the side. His whip lashed out and wrapped around the driver’s neck.
Kisuke rolled to his feet, uncaring of the way his whip’s metal shards bit into him with the motion. The driver was bent over, gasping and clawing at his neck, and the no.132 hōgyoku clattering along the floor from where the driver had dropped it. He yanked, hard, and the driver’s head fell to the floor with a wet plop, followed quickly by the thud of the main body.
Kisuke stepped over the decapitated body cheerfully, with nothing but bloodied satisfaction in his mind and whistling with abandon. His smile faded some, when he saw the crates of weapons, lined up neatly in rows. The heat he’d need to melt all that metal to a useless slag... his smile faded away altogether. A bonfire, would work, yes, but there was a chance of it burning itself out on the metal or jumping to other buildings and catching the entire section of the town on fire.
Well, at the very least he could begin stripping and disassembling everything down.
He glanced up and out through the skylights. Or he could send a message through Yoruichi, who was flapping down to join him.
He raised an arm, and Yoruichi alighted on it deceitfully lightly.
“Yoru’, you’ve been getting heavier lately, have you been eating too many rats recently?” he teased.
She squawked and batted at him with her wings. “Cretin! Philistine! How dare you ask a lady how much she weighs!”
He laughed good-naturedly and used his other arm to fend her off half-heartedly. “I would never dare.” Kisuke declared blandly. “Patch me through to HQ or the nearest Raven?” he turned serious.
She grumbled and fluffed up her feathers before deigning to settle down again. When she opened her beak again, Soi-fon was speaking out of it.
“Urahara?” She asked, the distaste and reluctance clear in her voice.
“Soi-fon.” He said flatly.
“Why are you calling me.”
“I have a warehouse here, old Hōgyoku manufacturing plant. It’s been used recently; it looks like it was used as a storage facility for scavenged and half-assed hōgyoku. Most of the pieces in here are either put together by the workers who made the unnumbered hōgyoku, or scavenged pieces. There were a couple numbered ones used by the man who drove me here in hopes of an ambush, so I suspect there are a few more floating around.”
“Location.” Soi-fon demanded.
“Third warehouse on Via Fabbrica. I’ll be going, so you better arrive soon.”
She snarled at him, but he hung up before she got past the opening volley of insults.
“Really, your Soi-fon has such a mouth on her.” He said to Yoruichi.
She huffed and ruffled her feathers. “If only you two would stop riling each other up, you’d be such a good team,” she mourned.
Kisuke threw her into the air and she squawked and hurriedly flapped a few times to stay aloft. He was already wandering off when she caught up to him and dived him with claws out and an unceasing litany of creative insults on his manners.
He ignored her.
Aizen... I’m coming for you. You and Ichigo both.