• "A Gillian... eh? Isn't that a bit more extreme than your average Hollow?"

    "Yeah... this might be bothersome..."

    "Bothersome? Heh, it wouldn't even be a challenge."

    "Shut yer trap, Shiren! Tis Gil'ian ain't gonna proof itself ta be a pushova, y'know tat?!"

    "Eh, I fought a Menos before. Wasn't hard."

    "Ha! Sez you!"

    "Shut up, all of you. Here comes the captain in charge of this mission."

    "Captain? They needed a captain? Heh... This is going to be even more interesting than I thought..."

    The three shinigami standing around the meeting area for the Gillian race were talking amongst themselves, gossiping. They glanced around every now and again, but only one of them could sense the reiatsu of the man who now approached them.

    The captain walking towards them never blinked, his eyes flicking from face to face. His orange hair ruffled in the wind, a rare color that his wife, the Vice-Captain of his Division, likened to a dandelion.

    Kurosaki Ichigo, captain of the 13th Division ever since the unfortunate passing of the previous captain, Ukitake Juushiro, scanned the faces of the three shinigami before him, his trademark frown never leaving his face.

    "Oi, get some spine into ya. Y'think the Menos is gonna wait for you guys to get ready?"
    The three shinigami paled almost visibly: Kurosaki Ichigo, a legend among legends. It was said that once, when Soul Society was at the brink of destruction by the traitor Aizen Sousuke, it had been Kurosaki who had unearthed the plan. Although he had been defeated, it was that knowledge that enabled Soul Society to mobilize a force to enter Hueco Mundo, and ultimately, it had been him that had destroyed Aizen behind the capabilities to be restored.

    Reaching Bankai level in three days, surpassing even the fabled Zaraki Kenpachi, he achieved all that while not even being technically dead; His body still lived and breathed, and a Mod Soul, the only one left alive since the great purge years upon years ago, took over it now and again to keep up the appearance of life.

    Now, two hundred years after the Soul Society/Hueco Mundo incident, with Kurosaki's death in the material world, he had been learning the level-headed-ness of the captains, and was proving to fill the role of captain remarkably well, despite dire warnings and predictions that he would fall short.

    Next to him, the dark eyes of his wife gazed steadily at each of them. Small and slender, the head of the Kuchiki family after her brother had stepped down, Kuchiki Rukia was nearly half the height of Kurosaki-taicho, yet the diminutive woman had almost twice the character. The three shinigami paled even further at the person standing behind the pair, if it could be possible.

    Tenshi Kurai, 3rd Seat of the 13th Division, and rumored to be one of the strongest shinigami in Soul Society. The only reason he wasn't at captain rank was because he wished to stay under Kurosaki-taicho, who had saved his life on one occasion. The only reason the silver-haired warrior would come along on a trip to hunt Hollows would be that there would be need of battles, big ones.

    "Heh, seems like everyone's ready? Let's have some names then. I suppose you three know our names?" This was from Tenshi-san. He hated honorifics, but it was required, and he had to tolerate them whether or not he liked them.

    "Hai, Tenshi-san, Kuchiki-fukutaicho, Kurosaki-taicho." The middle shinigami answered. "I am Hien, and these are Shiren and Koren. We were siblings in Rukongai."

    Kurosaki-taicho nodded, then his frown deepened a bit. "Drop the honorifics," he said shortly.

    The shinigami were almost pure white by now. Address a captain, vice-captain and a 3rd seat without honorifics? Beads of sweat appeared on their foreheads.

    Kurai took the lead again, at the discreet signal of his vice-captain. "Hey, don't worry about it. Call us whatever you want; we don't care. Just want to let you know you can drop the honorifics if you want." He grinned.

    The three shinigami loosened up a bit. Kurai was exactly like the rumors described him: Happy and genial until in battle. They hadn't seen him fight yet though, so they couldn't be too sure about the second part.

    Kurosaki-taicho took one last glance around at the party, then went into the briefing. "Alright, this is just a general mission. Me, Rukia and Kurai will be doing the actual fighting; you three just watch. The higher-ups are sending you three along just to glean some fighting techniques from us. Apparently you three are the top unseated in the 5th Division. Stay out of the fighting, or at the most take out minor Hollows that threaten to interfere. Any questions?"

    The three shinigami shook their heads vehemently. Being able to witness Kurosaki and Kuchiki fight, not to mention Tenshi, was a great honor. Their eyes were inevitably drawn to the huge zanpakutou that hung on a red sash around Kurosaki-taicho's body.

    Zangetsu, the unsealed zanpakutou. Kurosaki-taicho's reiatsu was such that after releasing his zanpakutou for the first time, he couldn't re-seal it, leading him to carry it around in permanent shikai. More than twice the size of most zanpakutou, it was almost as tall as Kurosaki-taicho himself. It was nothing so much as a giant butcher blade, having no guard or proper grip, and the blade itself was curved and massive.

    Kurosaki-taicho nodded, than pointed at the Gate. "Well, if it's all clear, let's go before we lose any Pluses to that Gillian." He strode off without another word.


    "Ichigo, you think it's going to be any trouble?"

    "I don't know. Normally, Gillians don't go to the material world unless they're pissed at someone or something, or someone's popped a Hollow bait like Ishida did that day."

    "Rukia-sama, d'you think...?"

    "Kurai, shut it. I know you don't like honorifics, so you can stop using them if you want to. We're all friends."

    "What she said. Anyways, to answer your question, I don't think anyone's popped a bait recently. They're hard enough to get anyways. The 12th has stopped production after the Hollow Influx twenty years ago."

    "That idiot, accidentally spilling twenty of the things. We were lucky Zaraki stepped in."

    "D'you really mean that now? Personally, I think Byakuya-nii-sama helped the most."

    "You would, wouldn't you? How he let you go, I'll never know."

    "You saying you don't want me, bakamono?!"

    "N-No! Um... Let's just go, alright?"


    "Heh... kids..."

    Captain, Vice-Captain and 3rd seat were at ease with each other, the white haori of the captain easily standing out from the black robes of the other two. The kanji for the number '13' were emblazoned on the back of the captain's haori and the armband of the vice-captain, signifying their division.

    Out of earshot from the junior shinigami, the three had returned to their normal easygoing nature... or at least as easygoing as it could be with Rukia's seriousness and matter-of-factness.

    "Those three... aren't they going to be a liability?" asked Rukia.

    Ichigo shrugged. "Whether liability or not isn't our place to decide. If they come along, I guess one of us will just have to protect them."

    Rukia's face had a small smile, as she gazed at her husband. It had been a long time since his death in the material world, and with time, he had come of age, reaching a level previously unheard of among Soul Society except for the old general, Yamamoto Genryusai-Shigenkuni, and with the death of the shinigami due to old age, Ichigo was now the most powerful shinigami in Soul Society.

    The position of 1st Division Captain had been offered to him, but he turned it down, fearing the greater responsibilities of being the highest authority in Soul Society. Being captain of the 13th Division was enough for him: Being the backup division, he needed to do little.

    As they walked through the portal, they stopped, hearing a massive roar. The three junior shinigami blinked once, and Zangetsu, Sode no Shirayuki, and Umou were in the hands of their wielders. Each felt a hand grab the back of their robes, than they were flying through a forest, a crater left where they had been standing. Behind them, a Menos Grande leered at their retreating backs, the remnants of a Cero blast obscuring its face.

    "Damn... Looks like they were ready for us." Ichigo leaped over rocks and trees, before shunpo-ing over to a small rise in the terrain, where he deposited the junior shinigami named Hien. Tenshi swooped down from above while Rukia appeared next to him, the two shinigami placing their respective charges on the rise.

    "Stay here and don't move, not if you value your lives."

    With a blur of motion all three shinigami flashed into the distance, and within moments the battle was on. With screeching sounds, more rips were opened in the dimensional fabric between the material world and Hueco Mundo, and more Gillians appeared.

    "Mae, Sode no Shirayuki!"

    "Yuuki wo tsubasa ni shitte, Umou."

    "Ikuso, Zangetsu!"

    A single massive blast of energy emanated from the three of them, their combined reiatsu causing every single Hollow in the area to come in bounding leaps and flights. It also attracted the attention of a group of souls.

    "You guys feel that?"

    "Aye. Powerful... Very powerful..."

    "Really? I had the feeling that this is a combined reiatsu. But one of them... A vizard. More
    powerful than any of us..."

    "That reiatsu... I know it! Kurosaki Ichigo... we meet again."


    "Umou no Bakuhatsu!"

    "Some no Mai, Tsukishiro!"

    "Getsuga Tenshou!"

    Feathers flew through the air from the angel zanpakutou of Tenshi-san, exploding on impact. The first dance of the most beautiful ice zanpakutou in Soul Society froze one Gillian, which was destroyed instantly as a feather cracked the actual body of the Menos.

    The moon slasher that emanated from the unsealed zanpakutou slammed into a Gillian, ripping it in two instantly. Kurosaki-taicho was a far cry from the shinigami substitute he had been 200 years ago; his power had increased by so much that it was no wonder people called him the strongest shinigami in Soul Society, although he would never reach the power Yamamoto Genryusai-Shigenkuni had. But he was close: Very close.

    "I didn't expect this many to show up..." Tenshi-san muttered. Umou, the long curved blade that was his trademark weapon, was stained with the blood of the Gillians, yet they seemed to keep coming.

    "We never do." That was from Kuchiki-fukutaicho. The white blade of Sode no Shirayuki was unmarked, blood sliding off it instead of sticking onto the pure white blade. However, her black robes were soaked to the bone with blood, and the resulting confining movement was starting to annoy her.

    "Time to end this. Bankai!" Kurosaki-taicho stood his ground as a Menos loomed up over him. Holding Zangetsu out before him, a massive blast of kidou energy slammed into the Menos, disintegrating it instantly. "Tensa Zangetsu."

    Tenshi-san stuck his zanpakutou over his shoulder. "Bankai." Umou disappeared in a blast of white light, and a pair of wings unfolded from behind his shoulder blades. One of the wings was white, as white as snow, while the other wing was the shade of midnight hue. "Yuuki no Tsubasa."

    Kuchiki-fukutaicho was the only one without a Bankai, yet her shikai was useful as it is. "Tsugi no mai, Hakuren!" A massive wave of ice erupted from Sode no Shirayuki, freezing one of the Gillians thoroughly, allowing a light tap from her hilt to shatter it instantly.

    Far away from the battlefield of the big guns, the three junior shinigami, Hien, Shiren and Koren, were facing their own battle. Hollows of every shape and size were attacking in unison, and the resultant chaos inevitably drew them apart.

    "Hien! Where the hell are you?!"

    "I'm over here! Ugh, dammit! Move over you great lug!"

    "Shiren! I needa bitta 'elp wit tis biggun!"

    "Sorry! I'd help if I could, but this one's being a pain in the- Argh!"


    "I'm alright! Nicked me in the arm, is all!"

    And above it all was the resonating scream of the Hollows. Utter hell on earth.


    "Should we step in? They look like they could need a bit of help..."

    "Nah, Kurosaki'll never forgive me if he could've done it himself. Let's wait and watch."

    "If you say so..."


    "Kuro Getsuga Tenshou!"

    "Umou no Ame, Souga, Umou no Tengen!"


    The three attacks dispatched a Gillian each, yet more kept pouring in.

    "I swear, when I get my hands on whoever summoned them..." Ichigo threatened as he took a short breath of fatigue before shunpo-ing right up to the face of a Menos and cleaving its face in two.

    "Not if I get to him first..." muttered Kurai. Striking outwards with his feathers, which were as lethal as they were beautiful, he dispatched Gillian after Gillian, his feathers exploding on contact.

    "When the two of you are done with him, I'll take him to Soul Society and run him through with the Soukyouku..." Rukia added darkly. The femme fatale harnessed the power of ice to the fullest, freezing as many as she could so that weak attacks from either Ichigo or Kurai would instantly destroy them.

    But the rifts kept opening.



    As the command was given, white streaks formed in the sky, streaming into a small cave that overlooked the battlefield. Masks of terrifying creatures formed, and a hand pulled each one over their individual faces.

    "Vizard, move out. Hiyori, seek out the maker of the rifts. Lisa, help those three down there. I'll go help Kurosaki. Hachige, put up a shield around the whole place. The rest of you, help whoever you see fit. Don't let the Hollows harm any of the Pluses or Kurosaki will first thank me, then kill me. Got it?"

    "Roger that."


    The arrival of the vizard took everyone by surprise. Ichigo, who had been feeling their reiatsu for a while but had assumed they would do nothing, was specially surprised.


    "Yo. Why don't we clean this up properly? Seeing as you can't do it yourself."


    "Uh-uh... Is that how you treat someone who came to help? Oh, and duck."

    Ichigo ducked just as a Cero beam blast over his head, slamming into the ground before him and leaving a crater in the earth.

    "My turn. Hope he can take what he dishes out, eh?" Whirling around, Hirako Shinji unleashed a Cero blast from his hand, the beam slamming straight through the Menos' mask, shattering it instantly. "Tsk tsk tsk... Apparently not."

    The two men stood back to back, Shinji unarmed but with his vizard mask on, Ichigo in Bankai with Tensa Zangetsu.


    "On the count of three."


    They disappeared in a flash, both of them helping Kurai and Rukia in the battle that was rapidly becoming devastating.


    A blade shone in a silver arc, cutting a Hollow in two. A woman dressed in a sailor-fuku stepped fluidly out into the clearing where the three shinigami were battling for their lives. Yadoumaru Lisa easily sidestepped another attack, her zanpakutou whirling out again and cleaving the mask of another Hollow. Shaking her head and sighing, she strode forward, destroying the Hollows pressuring the Hien, Shiren and Koren with well-timed Cero blasts.

    "Damn that Shinji, I almost finished that book! Well, better get this done so I can actually finish it...

    "Mirror of sin, revel now the fury of creation; ninety-nine prayers alight, cast the tidings of hell down upon yourself; brand the seal of war into your eyes. Hadou no Go Jyuu Yon, Haien!"

    The Level 54 Destructive Spell seared through the air, powered up by the vizard mask that rested on her face. Her yellow eyes rested on one of the Hollows, which burst into flames as she watched. Switching her gaze from Hollow to Hollow, she burnt them effortlessly without even moving her zanpakutou. Still she kept walking.

    The three junior shinigami trembled at her approach. Except for her dress, Lisa reminded them a lot of Ise Nanao, Vice-Captain of the 8th Division. That was one woman they did not want to cross.

    "Hey you three! Get your backsides in gear. Release those pig-stickers you've got and help me clean this mess up!"

    Yup, definitely someone they did not want to cross. Giving each other quick glances, they released their zanpakutous.

    "Howl a dirge for the dead, Requiem!"

    "Enchant and embrace, Mandragora!"

    "Flames of hell, ice of heaven, water of seas, lightning of skies, Erementar!"

    Lisa nodded. "Good. I was wondering why you didn't release them earlier. Now let's go!"
    She leapt over them, zanpakutou flashing in the sunlight, and another three Hollows were purified.

    The three shinigami looked at each other, nodded once, then joined in.


    "Oh, sure, I always get the lousy jobs. 'Seek out the maker of the rifts'? Why don't you seek him out yourself if you're so smart?"

    Hiyori grumbled to herself nonstop as she flew along the alleyways, her speed creating a sort of wind funnel behind her that surprised the humans walking along.

    "Let's see... the reiatsu points to the smart-arse being in that warehouse. Surely they could just tell Kurosaki and Co., but no, it's always Hiyori this Hiyori that..."

    Her yellow eyes flared up through the slits of her rhino-like mask, and she sped up, shunpo-ing through Karakura Town.


    Back in Soul Society, Zaraki was starting to fret.

    "Dammit, I'm bored. Yachiru, find me something to do."

    "Mou, Ken-chan! I'm bored as well! Ne, I heard Ichi-san has gone to the real world! Want to go join him?"

    "Ichigo... eh? Heh... this'll be payback for when he trashed me in our last battle... Ikakku! Let's go!"

    "Eh? Zaraki, you're really gonna go?"

    "Yeah... I've been dying for a fight. The b*****d made me have to lie in a bed for a day, I wanna do the same to him! C'mon!"

    "Yeah, moon-head! Let's go!"

    "I'm gonna kill her..."

    The captain of the 11th Division led the way, calling back to Yumichika: "You take care of the Division for me. I'm going out."

    Yumichika waved back at him, calling out, "Alright! Take care!"

    "b***h boy..." muttered Zaraki as he ran out the Gate. Ikakku and Yachiru had the same expressions on their face.

    "Kurosaki Ichigo! I, Zaraki Kenpachi, am coming!"


    As Ichigo unleashed another Kuro Getsuga Tenshou, he suddenly stopped, a massive blast of reiatsu hitting him like a battering ram. The Menos all around the area stopped as well, drawn by the immense reiatsu that had just appeared. Ichigo's eyes narrowed, then he laughed.

    Concentrating, he released his own reiatsu, which forced Rukia and Kurai to intensify their own reiatsu in an attempt not to get overrun. Shinji merely raised an eyebrow.

    "Kurosaki, whoever's coming, you know him?"

    Ichigo nodded. "Yeah. Someone you do not want to get on the wrong side of. I'm calling him here." He intensified his reiatsu even more, which caused some of the Menos to retreat.
    They didn't have to wait long. Within moments, they felt another two blasts of reiatsu, similar to the first. Ichigo's smirk widened. "And he's not alone."

    The screaming of a Menos sliced right through their head, and they watched as one was cleaved straight in two.

    "Ichigo! Where are you, you b*****d!"

    "Ichi-san! Dokoni?!"

    "Oi Ichigo! Get your a** out here now!"

    Kurai landed next to Ichigo, the wings of his Bankai spread wide. "Heh, looks like Yachiru-chan and Ikakku came along with Zaraki, eh?"

    Rukia came up next to her husband's side. "Do they even have clearance from the Central 46?"

    "Knowing them, they don't."

    Rukia sighed and shook her head. "I'm not saying I don't appreciate the help, but still... couldn't they at least have gained permission?"

    "Oi, this is taking too long. The b*****d ain't answering. Ikakku, clear us a way why doncha?"

    "Heh, if you want. Bankai, Ryuumon Houzukimaru!"

    "Dammit, if I knew you had bloody Bankai we could've fought back in the 11th Division HQ!"

    "Hey, baldy has Bankai! Wow!"

    "Shut up."

    The massive blades of Ryuumon Houzukimaru easily leveled the battlefield, swiping the area clear of immediate enemies.

    "There he is!"

    "Oi Ichigo! C'mere!"

    "Hey Kurai! I didn't know you were here as well!"

    The three fighters came over to stand by Ichigo, Rukia, Shinji and Kurai. Zaraki jerked a finger at Shinji. "Who's the freak?"

    Shinji didn't reply. Walking up to Ichigo, he whispered into his ear. "Looks like your friends are here, Kurosaki. I'll go take care of other business. I trust you can take care of yourself now that daddy's here?"

    With that, he shunpo-ed away, disappearing into the day, ignoring Ichigo's fuming.


    Rukia put one hand on her husband's arm. "Too late, Ichigo. He's gone."

    Ichigo turned around, sending a Kuro Getsuga Tenshou to rip one of the Gillians in two. He was fuming. "b*****d!"

    Zaraki hefted his own unnamed zanpakutou over his shoulder. Despite numerous attempts, he still hadn't been able to get the name of his zanpakutou. "Oi, Ichigo, you gonna fight me or them?"

    Ichigo shunpo-ed away, disappearing and reappearing at intervals all the way up a Menos. Landing on the ground a fair way away, he turned and watched as the Gillian he had targeted was dismembered. His black Bankai robes flew out in the wind. "The Gillians, obviously. Your fight can wait."

    Zaraki shrugged. "Whatever." He ran off at a Menos, his reiatsu flaring up and circling around his zanpakutou. One slash sent the Menos toppling over, and another finished it off. His eye patch constantly devoured his immense reiatsu, allowing him to somewhat control it.

    Yachiru stayed where she was, watching in amusement as Kenpachi systematically destroyed the Menos. "Go Ken-chan!"

    But even as they fought, more and more rifts were formed, and the Gillians continued to enter.


    "Shinji? What're you doing here?"

    "Meh, Kurosaki got some help. I'll help you finish off here, then we can go help Hiyori."

    "Help her? Why-?"

    "You really think Hiyori would take this long? As you can see, the Gillians are still coming, with no signs of stopping. Kurosaki's backup is... insane... to say the least, but finishing this mission would not only stop Soul Society from taking an interest in the Material World, but also stop the destruction of the surrounding terrain. With me?"

    "Ye- Yeah... Right."

    "I wonder how much longer Hachi's shield is going to hold up... We better hurry."

    Lisa was surprised, to say the least, when Shinji showed up all of a sudden. But after a brief exchange, the two vizard obliterated the surrounding area of Hollows, much to the fear of the three shinigami, then shunpo-ed away. The three of them breathed a sigh of relief once they were gone, then without talking, they shimmied up a tree to watch the battle that was going on in the distance.


    The Cero blast caught Hiyori by surprise, sending her flying back and smashing into a wall, leaving a massive dent.

    "Wha-?" Her yellow eyes widened at the sight of the legendary Hollow that stood before her.



    The reiatsu flare that came from the warehouse made Ichigo, Rukia, Kurai, Zaraki, Yachiru and Ikakku stop in their tracks.

    "What the...? That reiatsu is a captain level's...!" Rukia exclaimed.

    Ichigo shook his head. "That's no captain... I don't recognize it... Whatever it is, it means something bad. I'd bet anything that it's the one creating the rifts!"

    Zaraki felled another Gillian, turning back to face Ichigo.

    "Heh, this one sounds like a tough guy. What say you and me go take him on?"

    Kurai stepped forward. "I'll go too. Rukia, Yachiru, Ikakku, the three of you alright here?"

    Yachiru pouted, shaking her head. "I'm going with Ken-chan!"

    Kurai sighed. "Fine, you go. I'll stay behind. Rukia, Ikakku, you two alright with this?"

    Ikakku, now wielding his shikai instead of his Bankai, stabbed Houzukimaru into the ground in derision. "Peh... I suppose I have to. Zaraki, you be careful. I still wanna fight you when we get back."

    Zaraki laughed. "Fine. You take care of yerself too."

    With that, the two captains and the vice-captain left, Ichigo flash-stepping, the other two not flash-stepping per se, but still moving pretty damn fast.

    As the next Gillian reared its ugly head, it was frozen in place by pure ice that chilled its veins, then cleaved in two.

    "Who's next?!" roared Ikakku.


    Another Cero blast smashed into the Vasto Lorde, which it shrugged off with a laughing roar. The number of Hollows that made it up lowered its intelligence greatly, while vastly increasing its power. A good example of this was the way it shrugged off the Cero blast, while not being able to talk.

    Hiyori, coughing up blood, stood her ground defiantly. "b*****d..." she coughed. Her legs wobbled slightly, but her zanpakutou kept her up.


    Multiple Cero blasts rocked into the Vasto Lorde, sending it back a couple of paces. It glared stupidly into the masked faces of Shinji and Lisa, the two vizard with their masks on.

    "Hiyori, you alright?"

    "Y-Yeah... Take more than that to get rid of me..." She coughed up more blood, swaying unsteadily.

    A gentle hand on her shoulder caused her to glance upwards. "Shi-Shinji?"

    "Don't worry, Hiyori. Get the other vizard here. You go rest. We'll take care of the rest." His eyes started to glow golden as he glared at the Vasto Lorde.

    Hiyori frowned, shrugging the hand off. "I can take care of myself!"

    "Not now you can't. Just listen to me. Get the other guys here. Kurosaki's coming, can't you feel him? And the other guy as well. We'll take care of this."

    Hiyori struggled for a second, then her face smoothed to the first real smile she had ever worn. "Th-Thanks..."

    She shunpo-ed off, leaving Shinji and Lisa behind, as well as a thin trail of blood.

    "Well, how about we start the dance?" he asked the Vasto Lorde.

    Lisa's zanpakutou started to glow with a bright light. "Fine by me. Salsa or classic?"

    Behind the mask, Shinji's mouth curled up in a feral smirk. "Both sound fine."


    Ichigo and Zaraki, with Yachiru on his shoulder, arrive scant minutes apart, just seconds after Hiyori had left. The white captain haori that was draped around Ichigo contrasted sharply with the midnight hue of his Bankai robes. Before them, the legendary Hollow, one that the Captain of the 10th Division Hitsugaya Toushiro had said would only need ten of to destroy Soul Society, the Vasto Lorde stood.

    The black blade of Tensa Zangetsu was almost invisible in the dark warehouse, but that was soon remedied.

    "Soukatsui." The blast of kidou energy smashed into the Vasto Lorde, but it didn't even leave a scratch. The brief flash of light stunned the Hollow for a second though, and it allowed Zaraki and Ichigo to get their bearings. Ichigo was grateful for the dark: It meant he could go vizard without Zaraki seeing him and revealing his biggest secret to Soul Society. As the white shreds of his mask fell into place, his hazel eyes opened in a yellow storm.

    "Let's go, Zaraki."

    "Yeah! Go Ken-chan!"

    "Heh, this better be good."


    "Vasto... Lorde? Impossible." Rukia couldn't believe what the little vizard in front of her was saying. Sure she was covered in blood and sure she knew just how powerful vizard could be, but Vasto Lorde were objects of legend in Soul Society, it wasn't possible one could exist in actuality.

    Hiyori crossed her arms in frustration. "Believe what you want. But Kurosaki and that guy with him are both there as well, so do what you want. I'm off." She limped off in agony.
    Rukia turned to Kurai and Ikakku, her frustration evident on her face. "What has that idiot gotten himself into?!"

    Kurai shrugged, sending another feather exploding into the mask of a Gillian that had just appeared. With Ikakku's help and the solemn promise that they wouldn't reveal that he had Bankai to Soul Society, Ryuumon Houzukimaru had helped so much that they now found themselves with some free time.

    Although Ichigo's Bankai was extremely useful when it came to taking on one powerful enemy or plenty of weak ones, the condensation of all that power into one small blade limited its usefulness when it came to clearing areas of moderate strength.
    Ikakku's Bankai on the other hand focused purely on attack, and was constantly destroying one Menos or another. At first it would take a couple of hits, but as soon as the dragon's crest in the middle blade was full, Ikakku could easily destroy a Menos in a single blow.
    Rukia paced up and down impatiently, constantly turning Sode no Shirayuki around and around in her hands.

    "Rukia, calm down. Ichigo'll be fine."

    "Kurai's right, Rukia-fukutaicho. I fought that b*****d once before and he don't know how to quit. He'll be back once he's done whooping that Hollow's a**."

    "But a Vasto Lorde..."

    "Tch! You actually believe her?"

    "Ikakku, she could be right for all we knew."

    "Oh whatever!"

    "Who was she anyway, Rukia?"

    "I don't know... I've seen her once before... I think, but it as a long time... nearly 200 years..."

    "Y'mean before Ichigo actually died?"

    Rukia kept quiet, as did Kurai. The two of them were the only ones in Soul Society who knew their captain's vizard secret: Should that information be leaked out, Ichigo, as well as themselves, would be sentenced to death, by the Soukyouku no less.

    Ikakku looked from one to the other, then sighed. "Fine, you two go over to him. You can find his reiatsu pretty easily, can't you? I'll take care of the Gillians here."

    Kurai nodded. "Thanks, Ikakku. I owe ya one. I can't sit around here not knowing. Rukia, you coming?"

    Sode no Shirayuki gleamed in a white arc. "What do you think?"

    A blur of movement and a flash of reiatsu concentrated around their feet, and Vice-Captain and 3rd Seat were off. Ikakku, rubbed his bald head for a second, then turned as the roar of another Gillian rang through the air. Ryuumon Houzukimaru flashed once, and the Menos was cleaved in two.

    "Ya better take care of yourself, Ichigo. We still got a deal to settle."



    Lisa was sent flying back as the Vasto Lorde slammed a huge fist at her, smashing into the side of the warehouse.

    "Lisa!" Shinji shunpo-ed to her side, grabbing her arm and shunpo-ing away just as the fist of the Vasto Lorde smashed into the wall, destroying it instantly. Fortunately, the wall opened up onto an abandoned part of the wharf on which it was located, meaning that no one see the sudden explosion of the wall.

    Ichigo, his yellow eyes burning, shunpo-ed to the back of the Vasto Lorde, flaring up his reiatsu as high as it would go in an attempt to overpower it. His reiatsu went so high that Lisa felt some of the effects, even with her mask on.

    Zaraki laughed maniacally, reaching up and taking off his eye-patch. "This is great! Finally, a real match as good as Ichigo!" His reiatsu skyrocketed as well, matching Ichigo's. Shinji took one look at Lisa's gasping face and grabbed her, shunpo-ing outside to where the rest of the vizard were gathered.

    "Who the hell's in there?! Their reiatsu..."

    Shinji looked at them all and said one word. "Kurosaki."

    All of the vizard nodded. Hiyori, still slightly bloodied even after her accelerated healing process, stood at the front, her angry face set into a determined frown.

    "Let's go in and kick the b*****d's a**!" she shouted.

    Hachigen placed a gentle but firm hand on the fiery vizard. "Calm down, Hiyori. Kurosaki's in there, and he's more powerful than any of us. And his friend has an immense reiatsu as well, he should do fine. In the meantime, the combined reiatsu of both him and his friend will attract all the Hollows nearby. It will be our job to destroy them. I will put a shield up to negate effects to the terrain."

    Hiyori shunpo-ed off, muttering curses under her breath. Within moments, the scream of a Hollow showed that she was venting her rage on the nearest and most accessible object.
    The other vizard glanced at each other, shrugged, then went their separate ways.


    "Um... Hien? Any idea where everyone went?"

    "No idea... But Madarame-san is over there..."

    "I never knew he had Bankai..."

    "Well, I dun tink tat he'd appreciate us tel'n' Sou' Society 'bout his secret."

    "Good point. Anyways, didn't Kuchiki-fukutaicho and Kurosaki-taicho ignore the fact?"

    "Speaking of that, where did Zaraki-taicho come from? All I felt was his bloody reiatsu..."

    "I don't think we'll ever know..."


    "Kuro Getsuga Tenshou!"

    The blast of black spiritual energy smashed into the back of the Vasto Lorde, finally creating a small crack in its armor. Ichigo took the advantage, shunpo-ing in close and stabbing Tensa Zangetsu in the crack. However, he didn't last long before the Vasto Lorde threw him off.

    "Dammit... can't stay on long enough...' he muttered.

    A blast of ice slammed through the broken wall, followed by a single black feather that exploded on impact. The two attacks, smacked into the crack, widening it.

    "What's wrong Ichigo? Can't you do it yourself?" A familiar voice came through the open wall.


    Through the open wall, the lithe figure of the Vice-Captain leapt in, followed by the tall bulk of the 3rd Seat.

    "So it was true..." murmured Rukia as she gazed at the mighty Hollow. "A Vasto Lorde..."

    "Heh, told ya she could've been right." Kurai's silver eyes pierced through the darkness, scouting out the Vasto Lorde. "I kinda expected them to be bigger, but these guys are real small ain't they?"

    "Size has nothing to do with power, bakamono." Rukia shot at him.

    Now the odds were 5 to 1, although Yachiru wasn't doing anything more than cheering her captain on. "Go Ken-chan! Kill him!"

    "This is great!" Zaraki was bleeding from multiple wounds, but he didn't care, the battle freak taking all sorts of risks to get close enough to smash the Hollow in the chest. However, once he saw the crack, he laughed even louder. "Ichigo! Did you do that? Ha! You've gotten even better since we last battled! This is the best!"

    A Cero blast flew through the air, but Kurai's wings closed over, and the blast ricocheted off them, heading straight for Yachiru. The little shinigami disappeared, a pink reiatsu exploding out into the warehouse. A pink flash, and she reappeared on Zaraki's shoulder, the Cero having missed him by mere inches.

    "That was fun, Ken-chan!"

    Behind her, the crack was suddenly widened by a whole lot, which caused Ichigo's eyes to widen in surprise as he gazed at the tiny shinigami riding on his fellow captain's shoulder. His eyes relayed the information to his brain, and he knew immediately that it was the Vice-Captain who had done it.

    But the Captain of the 13th Division didn't let himself get distracted for long. Concentrating for a split second, he raised his reiatsu again, forcing it to go so high that the very walls of the warehouse started to shake.

    Zaraki took a look at him, then at the crack, and his feral grin widened. He stopped moving, blood dripping from the numerous wounds that covered his body, and released his own reiatsu.

    With the two people with the most reiatsu in all of Soul Society releasing their hidden spirit energy, all the Hollows in Karakura Town, and all that were in Karakura City, all came rushing in, to be met with the zanpakutous and the Ceros of the vizard.

    Rukia and Kurai, seeing the situation, immediately shunpo-ed out of the warehouse, helping the vizard take care of the overwhelming number of Hollows that were pouring in. Yachiru was the only one that stayed behind, but then she was used to Zaraki's reiatsu.
    The two most powerful shinigami in Soul Society, working together, were a mighty force to behold. Their reiatsu was shaking the very foundations of the warehouse, and the vizard outside were having their hands full keeping the Hollows at bay.

    "Zaraki, you gonna help?" asked Ichigo, his hair flying up from the force of his reiatsu. His eyes hovered between blue and yellow, the gold of the vizard contesting with the blue of his inner strength, the core of his legacy, where his true power lied.

    Zaraki, on the other side of the Hollow, licked his zanpakutou eagerly. His golden reiatsu exploded, eyes glowing yellow as well, although his power wasn't that of the vizard. "Hell yeah! Vasto Lorde, eh? Taking down one sure is fun!"

    The two shinigami circled at high speed around the Hollow, the dumb Vasto Lorde turning slowly, trying to keep up with them.


    Together, with both of them on opposite sides of the Vasto Lorde, the two captains turned and ran at the Vasto Lorde, zanpakutou raised high. Tensa Zangetsu was crying out in a desire to feel and taste blood, while the unnamed zanpakutou did the same.

    The two blows landed together, cleaving the Vasto Lorde in half. Reiatsu exploded in a blue and gold flash, and the screaming of the zanpakutous erupted to a higher level. The scream of the Hollow trailed off as it disintegrated into spirit particles, purified by the zanpakutous.
    Ichigo's mask disappeared, it's presence unnoticed by Zaraki, to Ichigo's relief. His eyes dimmed back to their usual hazel hue. Tensa Zangetsu expanded back to its shikai size as he reverted out of Bankai.

    "That was fun, Ken-chan! Ne, when can we find another one?" Yachiru kept up her high-pitched banter, laughing and hugging Zaraki.

    Zaraki was panting, his eyes dimming from the golden shade of his reiatsu released state. Grunting once, he stuck his eye patch back on, and the reiatsu level in the building went back down by a whole lot. Or at least, what was left of the building.

    "Oi Ichigo, we better get outta here. The damn building's gonna fall down on us."

    "Yeah... Let's go. My mission's done anyways."

    Together, the two captains stumbled out, reaching safety seconds before the warehouse finally gave way.


    "A Vasto Lorde... To think that one such as that has managed to slip into the Material World..." mused the current captain of the 6th Division, Abarai Renji. But then again, he had never managed to get Rukia. The only way his ego could sustain that was to get the position of 6th Division Captain, one that most people were glad to give him, seeing as he would've gone Bankai on whoever wouldn't.

    "Well, blame the 12th for that. Their sensors were supposed to see if anything above the power level of a non-Menos Gillian sneaked past the barriers we put up since Aizen's defeat. But then again, Kurotsuchi would say it wasn't his problem. The b*****d." Ichigo rubbed the back of his neck distractedly.

    The team had finally returned, with Ichigo making the report to the Captain of the 1st Division, which he had taken a long time to get used to. Kurosaki Isshin accepted the report with none of the fuss and hilarity that he exhibited when in the Material World, his brow furrowed in much the same way Ichigo's did when he was worried, tense, angry or thoughtful.

    "Oyaji, what's wrong?" asked Ichigo, only to receive a smack up his head.

    "Mind your tone, Ichigo. I'm the Captain of the 1st Division now that Old Man Yama's gone, and I'll be treated like one. But to answer your question... Seems like the Hollows are on the move again." Isshin wasn't even looking at his son, his eyes focused on some far away place Ichigo couldn't see.

    Ichigo's brow mirrored his dad's. "Does that mean... Aizen...?"

    Isshin shook his head. "No, we destroyed him and Kaname. As for Ichimaru..." He shrugged. "I still don't trust him, anymore than you do. But him infiltrating Aizen's company like that... I still don't know what to make of him."

    "You ain't the only one..." Ichigo muttered, electing a laugh from his father. He stood up. "If the meeting is over...?"

    His father nodded. "Dismissed."


    Hien, Shiren and Koren were treated like heroes that night. All the unseated members of the 5th Division kept plying them with questions,

    "Ne, how was Kurosaki-taicho?"

    "Was he as powerful as they made out?"

    "Tenshi-san looked so cool when he returned! What did he do?!"

    "What happened? Why was there so much blood?"

    "Ne, Hien!"

    "SHUT UP!"

    Although they liked being treated like heroes, the questions were something they could forgo. "One at a time if you'd bloody please!"

    The crowd parted before Shiren's vehemence. He softened immediately, especially at the look on a certain female unseated member.

    "Look, it's not like we're not gonna tell you. Gather around. It all started when the Gillian alert came out..."