Kisuke Urahara swept the stoop of his shop as a gentle wind caressed the leaves during an early autumn morning. He chewed on a piece of straw as he pushed the straw broom and he whistled while he worked. Without any sort of warning, the leaves stopped moving in the trees, frozen in place.
“So, what does the most lovely of our omnipotent creators require of this humble shopkeep?” Kisuke said into the wind.
“Hello, Kisuke,” a woman in green materialized in front of him. “You are ever the charmer.”
“I do my best. It’s been a long time, Goddess,” Kisuke smiled. “What can I do for you? We never seem to meet under pleasant circumstances.”
“Unfortunately, one such as I cannot just stop by to visit, but I digress. Circumstances have changed for the worse, I’m afraid. I’ve placed a few of my agents to assist you in the coming war. It’s no longer just Aizen that’s moving against you.”
“I thought I sensed something of the sort. You brought one of them here. That can’t be a good sign.”
“No, it’s not. As for what I will need of you, one of her companions will need a set of weapons she can use against your enemies, the sooner, the better.”
“Right away. So I assume your wayward child is finally making her move?”
“Yes and the Soul Society will be her target, as I’m sure you are aware. Only you, my agents and your allies stand in her way.”
Autumn’s alarm blared a loud Japanese pop song and for some reason she couldn’t force herself to move right away. Her bed was far softer than she had been used to and it was even softer than the one on the boat she was last on.
“I didn’t think I had an alarm on the boat…” she muttered. Her eyes popped open. “I didn’t have an alarm on the boat! Where the hell am I?” She nervously glanced about the room she had awoken in. She saw her guitar leaning against a corner and her old practice weapons decorating the walls, but little else was recognizable. Her bed was obviously brand new and so was the rest of the furniture.
“Autumn, honey, are you awake?” Her mother’s voice rang from outside the room.
“Yeah, Mom,” Autumn said as she turned off the digital alarm clock.
“Okay, don’t be late for your first day at your new school!”
“New school?” Autumn muttered to herself. She stood up and opened the window that was alongside her bed. She glanced around and realized very quickly, she wasn’t in Miami anymore.
Autumn saw houses and streets that looked very familiar, but she wasn’t sure where she had seen them before. The street signs weren’t in English, they were in Japanese. Once this observation was made, she realized she was in suburban Japan.
“Alexandral, what is going on?” Autumn said mentally.
Her mind was silent.
“And don’t think about going to school in jeans, you have to wear your uniform!” Autumn’s mother echoed once again.
“Oh, no, not a uniform!” Autumn cried as she opened her dresser drawer and found it full of skirts, all far shorter than anything she had ever worn before.
Autumn pulled out a short sleeve dress shirt, noticed how thin it was and sighed.
After showering and dressing, Autumn rushed downstairs and stopped in front of a full body mirror. She frowned when she the image of herself in a tight gray sweater-vest, white dress shirt complete with red tie and a shorter-than-she-wanted-it pleated gray skirt. She sighed and said, “Dear God, I look like Orihime.”
“Who?” her mother appeared behind her.
“Orihime, from Bleach . I’m surprised you forgot, Mom. I know you haven’t watched a lot of television lately, but you and I watched some of that together.”
“Oh, I guess I’ve just been preoccupied with the move,” she smiled.
Autumn raised an eyebrow, “Are you… okay… you don’t seem like yourself.”
“Oh, yes, I’m fine. Now hurry and eat your breakfast before you are late.”
Autumn took a few bites of toast and a few bites of bacon. She moved toward the door and saw a near-empty bookbag waiting for her.
“Carol asked that you try to keep Carry out of any fights,” Autumn’s mother said.
“Carry?” Autumn replied.
“Yes, Carry and Cristy are probably waiting on your slow butt, now go!”
Autumn said nothing else and stepped out of the door onto the sidewalk. Across the street, she saw Carry and Cristy, coming out of similar homes, doing the same.
The three young ladies met on the sidewalk. Carry was in a similar uniform without the sweater vest, shirt half buttoned and untucked. Her pale skin was almost as pale as her shirt. Cristy’s outfit also lacked the sweater vest but hers was button but it was rolled up above her stomach. She ran her hands through blonde hair much like Autumn's but not as long.
“Anyone else’s mom acting weird today?” Autumn asked. “Mine didn’t say a word when I walked out the door barely eating anything.”
“Yeah, mine has…” Carry said as she touched up her black lipstick.
“Mine too,” Cristy added. “And now that you mention it, but did I start drinking or something? Because I don’t remember moving here.”
“Neither do I,” Autumn and Carry answered simultaneously.
“Okay, cool. So at least we have our heads on straight,” Cristy sighed with relief.
“So what the fuck?” Carry tossed out as she pushed raven hair away from hazel eyes.
“I don’t know….” Autumn trailed off. Her crystalline blue eyes caught a couple of students down the street.
“Don’t kick me, damn it!” a tall young man with orange hair yelled.
“Well, I wouldn’t if you weren’t making us late! You are so slow!” a very short girl with jet black hair argued.
“And you worry too much, why do you care if we’re…” the orange haired boy replied, trailing off when he saw Autumn and now Cristy and Carry staring at them.
“Oh, hi!” the dark haired girl put on a goofy, wide grin and waved exaggeratedly.
“You guys must be the from the new families that just moved in, sorry, we didn’t get a chance to come say ‘hi’,” the guy said as they approached..
“I’m Rukia Kuchiki and this is my friend, Ichigo Kurosaki,” the girl said as they stopped in front of the trio.
“Hi, I’m Cristy the curvaceous shorty, the goth babe here is Carry and that Amazon over there is Autumn,” Cristy let out a flirtatious grin. “So...how are you guys doin’?
“Ah…” Ichigo stuttered. “We’re fine, just heading to class. I assume you guys go to Karakura High too, right?”
“Yeah,” Carry nodded.
“Well, we better get going! See you there!” Rukia grabbed Ichigo by the wrist and carted him off.
“See you later,” Ichigo said as he was being drug away.
“Ah, Japan, land of the cute short girls. I might like it here. I just hope what they say about the men isn’t true,” Cristy said as Ichigo and Rukia disappeared around the corner. She glanced over to Carry and Autumn. Carry was staring at Autumn, who was a paler than normal, with a stunned look cemented on her countenance.
“What’s the deal dragging me away like that! We’re not that late! It was rude!” Ichigo complained as soon as he was sure they were out of earshot.
“Didn’t you notice that girl?”
“What, you mean the short one with the goofy expressions?” he replied.
“No, not her. By the way, she was flirting with you, you idiot. I think she was flirting with me too… but that’s beyond the point! I’m talking about the really tall one.”
“You mean the one that’s like Rangiku… but you know, taller and less…”
Rukia bashed Ichigo in the back of the head, “It’s not polite to talk about a lady’s proportions like that, you moron!”
“Ow! Alright! What about her?”
Rukia sighed as they continued down the street, “You are as dense as usual. You didn’t notice her energy? It’s subdued, but there is energy coming from her is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. You go on ahead to school. I need to stop by Orihime’s and speak with Captain Hitsugaya.
Autumn’s stunned expression lingered as Carry and Cristy tried to get her attention.
“Are you okay?” Carry waved her hand in front of Autumn’s face.
“Those two… they are straight out of a manga…” Autumn stuttered.
“Whoa! Autumn,” Cristy exclaimed. “I know they are Japanese and all, but not all Japanese people look like anime characters.”
“Actually, she is quite right… somewhat,” a gentle female, unseen voice said. The world froze still. Birds in the sky stopped moving, hanging in mid-air. Autumn’s mother, Cassandra, could be seen in the window straightening the drapes, she too still, in the process of action. Only Autumn, Cristy and Carry continued to be unfrozen in a world of the still.
“What the hell?” Cristy exclaimed.
“The Mother,” Carry muttered.
“In the flesh,” she smiled. “If such an expression is accurate for someone such as myself.” a woman appeared in the middle of the road. She wore a light green dress and long sandy blonde hair that blew in wind that wasn’t blowing. Around her arms and torso green leafy vines grew, which worked their way around the top of her hair like a crown and then down through her hair. She approached the trio.
“What are we doing here?” Autumn gasped. “Is this place even real?”
“Yes, my dear, very real. I know where you come from it is a popular ‘fictional story’, but the inspiration for the story is based on a very real place, with real people. Let’s say a fae inspired Mr. Kubo who wrote the story in your world about events that should happen here. These sort of things happen all the time.”
“Should?” Carry asked.
“Yes, should. What happens in this world should follow Tito Kubo’s story, for the most part, at least. But, there is an outside influence that will very much alter the chain of events here. That outside influence is what you are here to fight.”
“I see, so does that mean we shouldn’t influence things” Cristy said. “I don’t know…like... collect any virginities… while I’m here?”
“Cristy!” Autumn exclaimed.
“You may do as you please,” the Mother chuckled. “Things have already been changed for the worst, I’m afraid, even before you arrived.”
“And our parents?” Carry said. “They are acting sort of odd.”
“They aren’t real. Flesh and blood, yes, but the real ones, no. They are placeholders to give you an appearance of normalcy. So, they know little about what’s going on and some of the things you expect they should remember, they won’t. Don’t make much mind of them.”
“So, you want us to deal with this outside influence?” Autumn asked.
“Yes, it is now pulling the strings of the villain of this ‘story’, Sōsuke Aizen, so fighting him will be a priority as well. This is where the ‘plot’ will begin to diverge from what you are familiar with, Autumn. The fact that Rukia and Ichigo saw you just a few moments ago has caused that, let alone things that have already happened. Rukia is on her way to report what she saw to one of her superiors.”
“Autumn, that’s not nice, you scared the shit out of the poor girl,” Cristy grinned. “I guess that’s why she grabbed Ichigo and high-tailed it out of here.”
“If the real thing is anything like the Rukia I know, it’s not fear but caution,” Autumn said. “She tends to not show enough fear sometimes. Oh… I also couldn’t get ahold of Alexandral… is something wrong? It’s like she’s not even there.”
“Yes, I’ve temporarily isolated you from Alexandral, for the time being. The Balanced Ones are best left out of this situation. This world has very different rules than the one you are from. It has a far thinner veil, the spiritual world and the physical are less separated, so she would have too much influence over you here. It’s a reason I don’t send your kind here very often. Yet, this also works to your advantage. You will find your incredible, natural spiritual energy will be much easier to access here. That goes the same for you too, Carry and Cristy. Due to your abilities, your spiritual powers are far greater than the average mortal and you should be able to do things here you couldn’t at hom.”
“That’s good. I’ve seen a few episodes of this ‘story’ and I think things are going to get rough. Speaking of which, what are going to do about weapons?” Carry asked. “I noticed my sword wasn’t here.”
“Oh, yes, Karithian isn’t going to be up to the task, I’m afraid. You’ll be using the Dharg’Synth, I believe you saw it on your way out of the house.”
“My mother’s scythe...okay…” Carry trailed off.
“What about me?” Autumn asked.
“You’ll see your weapons in your room when you return from school. I didn’t want you getting distracted by them before you left for school.”
“And I’ve always got plenty of guns,” Cristy added.
“You’ll need special armaments, but until then, the dagger you carry that Hephaestus forged will work.”
“Awesome, if I’m understanding you correctly, that means more guns, and I’m always down with that.”
“And there is one more important matter that must be put out in the open before I let you ladies go about your day. Carry, it’s time you told Autumn,” the Mother looked to Carry.
“What…?” Carry’s mouth dropped.
“About your duty, dear.”
“Oh.. yeah...that. Autumn,” Carry struggled to look Autumn directly in the eyes. “Look… I haven’t been completely honest with you. The reason I came to Miami, the entire reason I’m in our world… is because I’m not just any Tala’har, I am your Tala’har…that means I’m your guardian.”
Autumn’s mouth open halfway. Before she could say anything, the Mother put her hand gently on her shoulder and took her chin, “Autumn, before you even think of getting angry with Carry’s deception, understand this. She is your Tala’har. Not Alexandral’s, but yours. It is not because of Alexandral that she came to you. It is not because she is your guardian that she is your friend. Carry’s feelings towards you, the way she treats you, the fact that she stood up for you that day in school, have nothing to do with her duty to you. She is, indeed, the friend you’ve always needed. That is no lie. It was only under my instruction that Carol told her to keep it from you. She had no idea that you knew anything about who you are or your destiny. If you have anger toward anyone, let it be me. Do you understand, me?”
“Yes…” Autumn said.
“Even if you were not a Balanced One, Autumn, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’d still fight for you, you’d still be my friend, one of my two very best friends,” Carry reassured.
“I was about to get angry…” Autumn muttered, tears streaming down her face. “I’m so sorry…”
“It’s okay,” Carry placed her arms around Autumn and pulled her close. “I know you hate Alexandral and I can’t stand her either.”
“Hug time!” Cristy attempted to put her short arms around her two friends.
As the three friends pulled out of their extended embrace, the world was back to it’s normal state and the Mother was gone.
“Oh, hi Rukia!” Orihime said as she closed the door to her small dwelling. “What are you doing here Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Ghosts always scare me too!”
“I’m fine, Orihime, and I’m not afraid. I’m here to speak to Captain Hitsugaya, is he in?” Rukia replied as she approached.
“Yes, but he’s speaking with the Head Captain now, so you might want to wait.”
“Actually, that might be even better, I’ll see you at school, Orihime,” Rukia replied.
“Okay!” Orihime opened the door to her house, let Rukia inside and scurried off to school.
“Head Captain, Captain, Lieutenant!” Rukia said when she entered the living room of Orihime’s house, which contained an organic appearing screen with the Head Captain’s image on it. “I’m sorry to interupt, but this could be very important,” she said as she bowed.
Rangiku and Tōshirō turned to Rukia. The Head Captain on the screen also took notice of her.
“What is it, Rukia? I know you’d only barge in like this if it was important,” Tōshirō said.
“Yes,” Head Captain Yamamoto said. “Don’t hesitate. Has the enemy made a move?”
“No, sir, but I saw something I can’t quite explain,” Rukia said as she stood up straight. “It was a human. She was one of Ichigo’s new neighbors. It was her energy… it was huge… it was being held back, but it could eclipse yours, Head Captain... by magnitudes…”
“It couldn’t be that strong…” Tōshirō reasoned.
“I’m certain, sir,” Rukia nodded.
“I’m afraid Miss Kuchiki is right…” Yamamoto said slowly. “I thought I sensed such a presence myself, but I wasn’t certain.”
“From the Soul Society?!” Tōshirō exclaimed.
“It’s that strong?” Rangiku finally opened her mouth.
“I’m afraid so,” Yamamoto replied. “The presence of such a being could only mean matters are much worse than we had perceived.”