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Bleach: Shihai no Tsumi: Vengeance Unattained is an article created by Achrones150. Use is allowed with the permission of the owner, with the exception of collaboration-created articles.

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Raising the Curtain

"Now it's time to raise the curtain on Act One." Takahashi said, as they exited the Garganta. All but the Shriekers. As the Garganta closed, they vanished into black smoke. "Angelika, I'd like you and your troops to head into the street and simply kill." He put ice-cold emphasis on the last word. "Man, woman, child, I'd like it dead. I do not care where you kill either. Be it in the Seireitei or in Rukongai, I want blood of the innocents as a message saying "We're here"."

"Of course...." Angelika's smooth and German-accented voice answered back to him, before she turned her head towards her two subordinates on either side of her. "Oliver!" She barked out. "Anton! Show our clients here how a sportsman hunts their ducks!"

This brought about a malicious smile above Oliver's face. He and Anton raised what appeared to be scoped rifles to aim down the sight, several targets of opportunity waiting down below. Just to add insult to injury, Oliver set his sights on the head of what looked like a young child running and skipping along the street. Despite being without her parents, she was looking quite happy to be outside for the moment. "At the ready, kraut." He said gruffly.

"Fire at will!"

BANG! BANG! BANG!

The girl's happy face immediately contorted to one of shock as the bullet tore through her chest. She fell to the ground, eyes losing their color and her expression becoming blank. Her head sank to its side, a trickle of blood flowing from her mouth. All around her, blood stained the ground.

The two troops continued to fire, killing any targets that they set their eyes on. Women, men, children, even animals... it didn't matter. They were all lambs to the slaughter, pigs shredded and eaten by the ruthless mercenaries. Oliver was laughing, clearly having a good time as he shot down civilian after civilian. "Eat this, you fucking monkeys!!!"

"Will this draw them out?" Nabiki asked, surveying the mass murder with a look of distaste on her face. She didn't approve of her Captain's order, but she wasn't going to question it.

"I'm counting on it." Takahashi replied. "I could find them myself if I wanted. But I'd prefer they come to me."

Over by the Red Hollow Gate, inside the Seireitei, the sounds caught the ears of Miharu, who was quick to point it out to the others. "Can you guys hear that?" She asked. "It sounds like gunshots."

"And screams...."

Megami's ears could pick up the sound of civilians screaming in terror, her heart quickening and her eyes narrowing. "It's happening again...." She whispered. "Those mercenaries have started their attack again!"

"Which means Takahashi's here!" Rukia realized suddenly. "I can feel his energy, How could I have missed it before this?"

"I think we need to get moving." Miharu said, though it sounded like an uncertain question.

"I know we have to get moving." Megami added, a rather stern tone in her voice. She stood up, looking over at Rukia. "Rukia! This is your ground now, I'm afraid I'm not a navigator when it comes to situations like this."

"Of course." Rukia nodded, and she took off, motioning for them to follow her. "I can't help but think they're doing this to send of a signal saying "We're here"." She said as she ran. "The falling spiritual signals, no matter how small, will be noticed by those with astute senses. Top it off with Takahashi's own large spiritual energy, and the entire Seireitei should be on alert soon."

"By this point, I think they already are...."

"We're getting closer." Rukia called back. "In a few minutes, we may be charging right into a hail of bullets!"

"W-what?" Miharu sounded shocked. "I don't wanna be shot full of holes!"

Megami clapped her hands together, focusing spiritual energy within them. She knew exactly what she had to do: a protective Kidō spell once they came within the range of the bullets. "What's your suggestion?!" She called out to Rukia, her eyes drifting up towards the sky.

"A protective Kidō barrier to start." She said, turning a corner as quickly as possible, the sound of bullets and screaming becoming more audible. "After that, we turn our sights on the ones doing the shooting. There are four of us, so we'll split. If we're lucky, it will only be one or two out there doing the shooting. That should make it slightly easier. I will deal with the snipers, Megami, you and your daughter head to Takahashi."

"U-us?" Miharu asked, sounding nervous and excited.

"Yes, you." Rukia nodded. "I can feel Midoriko and Kibō on their way back, and they seem to be accompanied by powerful Shinigami."

Megami nodded grimly. "All right...." She relented, bracing herself. "Here goes nothing.... Sotokonsekisho!" Using a great deal of her energy, she summoned a protective barrier as they charged headlong into death. When the gunners stopped firing, she would take her daughter and confront Takahashi.... and hopefully not die. She gritted her teeth as she kept the barrier up, hoping that they would not die in the initial onslaught.

As the barrier was formed, Angelika was the first one to notice. "Oh, look!" She remarked, smiling as she watched the defense take place. "It seems that the barely alert presences have taken to bringing themselves out in the open."

"Split now!" Rukia called out, and she launched herself with Shunpo in the direction of Oliver and Anton. Against firearms, she was at a bit of a disadvantage, so binding them seemed to be the most logical course of action. Going up into the air with a Shunpo, becoming a near blur with her speed, her fingertips on both hands began to glow with yellow energy.

"Bakudō, number 63! Sajo Sabaku!" She called out the Kidō name, and let strong ropes of energy fling from her fingertips, flying down towards Anton and Oliver, and, as they closed in, began to quickly snake around their bodies in an attempt to bind their arms.

Oliver's eyes widened in shock. "Oh, shit--"

"You really need to learn how to think reflexively, American."

The Russian smiled slyly, raising one hand up in front of him and towards the ropes. "Danku." He stated. Within seconds, a shield appeared in front of both him and the ropes that threatened to imprison him and his partner. He timed it perfectly; once the ropes collided, they disintegrated immediately. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Megami charge in with her daughter past them and towards Takahashi. But he paid no mind to it; what they were doing was suicide. Takahashi would slay them quickly and proceed on with the plan.

For now....

"A Kidō?" Rukia's expression was one of surprise as she descended to the ground. And a Danku no less. All low-level binding spells she could conserve energy with were useless if he could use that.

As Miharu and Megami charged in towards Takahashi, Miharu raised her hand, forming a blob of water. It began to lengthen, becoming spear-like, and then it froze. An ice spear.

"Take this!" Miharu threw the ice spear at Takahashi, and it spiraled, increasing in power as it sped towards him.

Takahashi stood there calmly, not fazed by the weapon coming his way. When the spear was no more than four inches away from him, it shattered, forming into several small, sharp shards. He smiled and the shards turned, launching themselves back at Miharu and Megami.

Immediately, Megami extended a hand out. This was her field, and she assumed as such. When the shards neared her, they liquified instantly. They floated towards her hand, taking on the form of her Zanpakutō. A grim smile came across her face as she lowered it, mentally cheering at her first step in the battle. But she knew that she was a far cry from Takahashi's abilites. Hopefully, with Kyumu, they both could stand a chance....

Silently, Anton lowered himself to the ground, tossing his gun away as he did so. His feet landed, and he was now standing a distance away from Rukia. Oliver, seeing as there was no more restraint, raised his rifle and continued to fire at the civilians left. By then, most had taken to their homes as protection, so there were only a few stragglers along with the corpses that scattered the ground.

Even after seeing Megami draw her sword, Takahashi made no move to draw his own. He pointed his hand down at the young girl, the first victim of the shooting. There was the sound of cracking, and flesh being ripped open. A bone, the femur, was floating up into his palm. While it moved, bone began to chip away, and it sharpened into a blade, which Takahashi grasped.

"W-what was that?" Miharu choked the words out, rather shocked to see bones of a dead body used like that.

"Telekinesis." Takahashi replied simply. "I need only think, and I have a new arsenal."

"I think I'm going to be sick...."

Megami grasped her stomach, looking on in horror at the newfound weapon. "That....was a child, you monster....!!!" She managed to gasp out, unable to believe her eyes. Her knuckles grew white, her squeeze on the hilt of her sword the cause of it.

"Child or not, once their dead, they're bodies are free to be used for anything." Takahashi replied. "A warrior makes use of everything he can, surroundings, even deceased individuals." He chuckled dryly. "Let me show you something fun." He twitched his fingers, and more bones, from various bodies, began to rip form their respective carcasses, and fly towards one point in the air where they began to assemble. Bone piling upon bone, connecting to various joints and such as removed, formed a skeleton. However, more bones began to crush on top of it, forming into a suit of armor. How many people had died for this? The flying bones stopped, and finished product was a large, white samurai, roughly human sized. Takahashi threw it the bone-sword.

"How do you like it?" Takahashi asked, amusement in his voice.

Megami couldn't even begin to describe the anger that was boiling within her.

She didn't grace him with a response.

Instead, she thrust her sword out at him, the tip pointed straight for him. That very blade separated into four pillars of crushing water, heading towards Takahashi at a breakneck speed.

"Tsk tsk." Takahashi swept his hand to the side, and the bone golem moved surprising fast, using it's large, durable body to block the water blade. "He is your opponent now."

Miharu had vanished from her spot, and she was behind Takahashi. "Forgot about me, didn'tcha?" She said smugly, raising Kyūmu. "Improvise!" She called out, and Kyūmu took the form of a giant, gleaming axe. She swung the axe down, only for Takahashi to raise his hand up, the aze (and Miharu) getting sent back without even touching him.

She skidded back. "What the heck?"

Down on the ground, Rukia has just drawn her blade. Due to Danku, low level Kidō spells were useless now, and she wanted to conserve as much energy as possible.

"Dance, Sode no Shirayuki." She held her Zanpakutō out in front of her and turned it in a circle counter-clockwise. As she turned it, the blade, hilt and tsuba turned completely white. She vanished, appearing back behind Oliver, seemingly turning her attention from Anton. She had to stop Oliver first. She forced her blade into the ground.

"Daiyon no Mai, Juhaku." She murmured. A trail of ice formed from where she stabbed the ground, and began to snake it's way towards Oliver. All the while, she was murmuring under her breath.

"....damn it."

Immediately, Oliver, clearly not happy about having to switch targets, shifted his fire towards the ice. First, he fired continuously, the bullets shattering through the ice and dismantling the structure of the attack. To whatever he missed, he leaped out of the way, performing an acrobatic roll before rising up in a crouch position. "Hey, Anton!" He called out. "I'm joining in on this fight. This bitch seems like she just ain't going to leave me be...."

Giving a curt nod to Oliver, Anton directed his gaze to Rukia for a moment, studying her over. "The noble Rukia Kuchiki...." He remarked slowly, a ghost of a smile crossing his face. "An honor meeting you.... if we weren't in this situation, I would gladly bow to you." The words he spoke had a genuine flow from them, even as he stood ready to fight the girl to the death.

Rukia turned to look over at Anton. "A polite killer. I can't say I've met someone like you before." She vanished with Shunpo, appearing at Anton's side, her white blade glowing.

"Some no Mai, Tsukishiro!" She made a slashing motion to her side, in Anton's direction. A large ice circle formed under his feet and quickly began to rise up, aiming to freeze anything everything within the circle's influence.

At first, it seemed to work.

The first thing Anton did was extend his hands towards Rukia before the ice arose underneath him. It enveloped him completely, freezing him in the pillar that was rising rapidly towards the sky. Wherever it went, only the owners of the attack would know. However, the only thing that was of concern was the man now frozen within its center. In a few moments, the ice would break, and he would shatter along with it. Gritting his teeth, Oliver aimed his weapon at Rukia and was ready to pull the trigger to end her life.

However, the girl's victory was short-lived.

SMASH!

From Anton's frozen body, a brief light of red was generated. Then, a bright red mass of flames burst forth from the ice, heating and liquifying it instantly. Oliver's eyes widened, but he kept the rifle trained on Rukia as the fire threatened to consume her. If Anton managed to kill her off with the move, well and good. But if not... he would catch her right where she stopped, pull the trigger, and finish her off right then and there. For her, it would be a lose-lose situation. But for them, it would be one step closer to victory and reward.

"G'night, Kuchiki...."

The moment Rukia saw the flames, she sped up, taking to the sky as quickly as possible in an effort to avoid them. As she moved, there was a flash of red, and Bala slammed right into Oliver's weapon.

"Gah!! What the--"

To his chagrin, the gun was knocked from his hands and slid a few feet away from him. His eyes narrowed, and he turned to glare at his assailant. It was a girl, the energy dissipating from her hands as the Bala subsided. Angelika blinked a little, staring in surprise at the newcomer that had approached. However, it faded away immediately. Of course there would be more to help the Kurosaki. They were in enemy territory after all!

Meanwhile, Megami focused her attention onto the golem. Hopefully, Takahashi wouldn't kill Miharu outright.... she decided to launch a second attack identical to the first, but this time at the golem that was apparently challenging her.

Nabiki was merely watching. She hadn't gone to draw her sword or join the battle in any way yet.

Miharu appeared in front of Takahashi, swinging the large axe down, only for it to be deflected once again without him so much as twitching a muscle. Miharu was grinding her teeth in frustration.

"Takahashi, tell me something." Miharu said, looking straight at him. "Why are you attacking the Seireitei?"

"Why?" Takahashi repeated. "To put it simply, I enjoy watching moving objects. A motionless pinwheel isn't worth watching. Then again, when it's stopped it can sometimes be sentimental too." He took a breath, and continued speaking as if he and Miharu were discussing this over drinks. "Either way, I am going to make the pinwheel spin with the destruction of the Gotei 13 right now." Eying Megami, he waved his hand, and the golem moved to the side, and swung it's armored arm up at her face.

BOOSH!

Bone collided with pressurized water, and the more continuous force dominated the latter. The giant was knocked back. Megami allowed a slight smirk to cross her face before swinging her hilt, the pillars swinging sideways along with it to cut into the monster's side.

As Rukia was coming up--

WOOSH!

--Anton was on her in an instant, his figure shadowing hers from behind. Two blades had merged onto his hand, both of them made out of spiritual energy. It was a dual Kirimi spell. "I'm Anton Semenov." He introduced himself. "Just in case both of us happen to survive this fight...!" With that, he swung one of the blades towards Rukia's side in an attempt to cut her in half.

Rukia dodged with Shunpo, and her timing was excellent, for the energy blade barely managed to singe her outfit. "Hadō number 9, Hakurai." She extended her palm, firing a powerful blast of lightning towards Anton.

Aoi was standing motionless for a moment, looking at Oliver. Then she vanished quietly, appearing in front of him without so much as a sound. Her hand immediately shot towards his chest, right where his heart would be located.

"From what you said, it sounded like you're attacking the Seireitei because you're bored." Miharu said quietly.

"You can think of it that way." Takahashi said, smiling.

"You killed people because you were bored?" Miharu's Zanpakutō began to morph, losing it's axe shape, and turning into a saw-toothed ice blade. Without a word, though her eyes were full of anger, she swung it, sending massive ice crystals shards at Takahashi. This time, he moved, though only slightly, blurring and reappearing slightly to the left.

Megami's attack hit home, cutting the bone golem in half easily. It began to crumble, and it appeared to be raining bones from it's spot.

Oliver's feelings compared to Aoi's were mutual.

With one hand of his own, the blond caught Aoi's hand at the wrist and raised her hand over her head. He balled his free hand into a fist, delivering three ferocious rights to the spot where the girl's ribs should've been. On the third punch, he forced her back from him. His teeth were gritted, and his eyes were widened in battle-driven rage. Reaching into his coat, he yanked out what looked like a high-caliber pistol. He aimed, unleashing several shots at the girl in order to finish her off quickly.

Aoi's Hierro did a good job of protecting her, the damaged the impact of those punches would have had was halved. She shrugged off the rest of the damage, and the moment she saw him pull the trigger, she jumped, dodging the bullets that flew under her. She breathed in through her nose and frowned.

"Your power..." She murmured, though loud enough for him to hear. "It smells weak..."

"And you smell like shit...." Oliver retorted bitterly, keeping his pistol aimed for the girl's head. "Ever heard of something called a bath?"

"....well.... that was quick."

Thankful that the fight seemed to have ended so quickly, Megami looked on as the bones fell onto the ground. However, this caused her to stare upon the corpses. A chill of disgust ran through her, her anger towards Takahashi surfacing once again. She turned her head to glare up at him and Angelika, sword tightening within her hand once again. "I hope we don't have to wait for much longer...." She thought to herself, turning the pillars on Takahashi once more. This caused the German woman to float out of the way, clearly not wanting to get in the way of the attack.

Immediately, Anton jerked to the side, barely missing the lightning. However, he could feel the heat from the beam itself, knowing that it would've been enough to burn a killing hole into him. Not wanting to be outdone, he raised his own finger to fire an identical shot of lightning back at Rukia. His eyes were concentrated, having little malice within them. His actions stated otherwise, however.

Nightmare March

While this violence was going on near the gates, Nabiki was seemed to be silent, her eyes following the fight. Takahashi had now drawn his blade and was currently fending off both Miharu and Megami with relative ease. But her mind however was not focused on what she was watching. She was currently in telepathic communication with Shikaku, who had arrived unsensed by the others. He was Seireitei sewer system, and Shrieker army was following him, in a compressed, gaseous form, a new, last minute feature Nabiki had added to make them easier to move through spaces like this.

"Shikaku, how're things down there?" She asked. "Have any Shinigami noticed you yet?"

Shikaku's eyes searched around. "I have no visual yet...." He remarked dryly, moving through the sewer system and keeping himself on guard. "But things can always change in the blink of an eye. I feel as though the Seireitei relaxed their guard a bit too much for our comfort.... do you feel something's....wrong?"

"It's possible." Nabiki replied, though the thought hadn't crossed her mind before Shikaku mentioned it. "They're too relaxed. I haven't felt a single Captain even notice us yet. I have been feeling multiple spiritual signals heading our way, but they haven't arrived yet. So, perhaps they're not as relaxed as we think."

"Agreed...." Shikaku said. "We're in enemy's territory, and I am unsure on what could be lying ahead of us. Be on your absolute guard.... failure isn't an option." His last words were bitter and ominous, the flashback of Diosa's death playing through his mind once more.

"I know." Nabiki replied gravely. "Good luck." As the communications closed, a Shinigami appeared, a member of Fourth Company. He was down cleaning the sewers. However, he felt the spiritual pressure of the approaching Arrancar and his eyes widened as he almost fell to his knees. He was struggling to his feet as Shikaku turned a corner, the gas following him. The Shinigami took one look at him and tried to run. He had to report this!

Shikaku would not allow him to escape so easily.

With one swift motion, he grasped the Shinigami's throat, eyes narrowing and his lip curling. "Unless you're wishing for a painful death right here and now in these filthy sewers...." He spat, a killing intent flaring up. "Then you will tell me where can I find the 4th Division headquarters. Only then might I let you live....Shinigami filth!" He lifted the man up in the air, only presenting enough force not to choke him to death.

"T-to get to the F-Fourth Company stalls, keep moving s-straight down here." The boy choked out. "You reach a dead end, but there will be a manhole right above you. O-open it, and when you get out, proceed to the left. The Division Stalls are there."

"Thank you, brat."

With that, Shikaku made the decision to force him around and deliver a swift chop to his neck, knocking him unconscious. However, he made sure to toss him over to the dry side of the sewer as to not make him drown in the muck. Without hesitation, he continued on to follow the boy's directions. "Nabiki. I'm proceeding to destroy the 4th Division's barracks from the inside out. If their medical sources are gone, then they will have nothing they can rely on to reduce casualties from the mounted attack."

"A great choice of action." Nabiki responded. "Proceed."

Nodding, Shikaku started walking faster.

It wasn't much later after that he reached the manhole cover that the boy had been talking about. He grasped the bars and climbed upward, closing in on the manhole cover. He would kill everyone.... everything in that building that dared to oppose him. The rest, the Shriekers could have as prey. He just wanted to slaughter the very beings that thought they could raise a sword to him. At this very moment, all that he was concerned about was slaughtering his foe....

He placed a hand on the manhole cover.

BOOM!

Before he knew it, the walls of the vertical tunnel exploded, and the force sent him down into the base of the sewer once more. The power rocked his senses, and for a moment, he was sent into blackness. His thoughts were reeling out of the shellshock he was feeling, even as rocks collapsed and buried him underneath. In the distance, he could hear even more explosions going off, and could only wonder what could've happened....

Nabiki felt a disturbance between her and Shikaku's telepathic link.

"Shikaku!" She called out. "Are you alright? What's going on down there?"

Silence on the other end.

Shikaku was climbing out of the debris, coughing and clutching his chest for a moment. However, when he raised his head up, he saw that there were several bombs going off in the alley opposite of which he had gone in. All of them had been lined up in the ceiling.... and each explosion was getting closer to him! Horror striking him, he leaped upwards, not bothering to use the ladder.

He was instantly jumped by several Shinigami, all of which looked like seated officers.

Shikaku immediately whipped out his own personal blade and engaged his attackers. It was a short, one-sided battle. The Arrancar skillfully cut through the officers and finished them off within seconds before alerting Nabiki again. "I'm being engaged by 4th Division Shinigami in the barracks!" He reported, knowing that there were reinforcements coming along. "They knew I was coming!"

"I see." Nabiki murmured. "As the 4th Division is a medical unit, most of their seated Shinigami aren't great attackers. You shouldn't have a problem taking them out. Now, I'm going to set the Shriekers loose. Like rats in the street, they will destroy everything they can find."

"Do so with haste! I'd like to get this over with!"

Nabiki chuckled, and she uttered the word "Release!" The gas began to whirl and from it, multiple Shriekers began to form, and were released, landing on rooftops and in the streets. No sooner had they been released than they took off, running throughout the streets, breaking into homes, etc. After about thirty had been released, more kept coming.

"Have fun Shikaku." Nabiki said merrily.

"Right..."

With no hinderances, Shikaku raced through the 4th Division barracks, ready to put and end to this battle once and for all.

Shinigami inside the barracks easily picked up both Shikaku's powerful spiritual energy and the scattered spiritual energies of the Shriekers that were spreading out. Despite being only in the Fourth Division, they had to defend their barracks. Several of the more powerful Shinigami of this division poured out in small droves. Some were heading towards Shikaku, but others took off in the directions of the spreading out Shriekers, the ones that were closest to their barracks.

As several Shinigami closed in on Shikaku, one of them removed a small glass vial from his kosoode and threw it directly at Shikaku's face.

"Uh oh."

Sensing danger, Shikaku immediately ducked the vial and charged inward, his sword flashing. He didn't waste any time in cutting down the first Shinigami. Then the second, the third, and the fourth. All of them dispatched with swift and cold professionality. With those defenses cleared, Shikaku continued to make his way through.

More Shinigami emerged, each of them with their blades drawn. They divided, and each one launched a Sōkatsui attack from all sides.

"HAH!"

Immediately, Shikaku extended his hands out, expelling a large amount of his own spiritual pressure from his body. It acted as strong winds on their bodies, slamming them against the wall and knocking them out. However, a few were unfortunate to hit the wall hard enough for their bones to shatter among impact. They crumpled to the ground, lifeless. The Arrancar smiled in amusement, running away to penetrate deeper into the facility. "Worthless...."

As Shikaku went full on with his assult of the medical division, the sound of ringing and explosions starting to echo around the Seireitei. The Shreikers were spreading out, and attacking anything in sight. Buildings, animals, souls. Whatever they saw, they shot the leeches. While their victims were busy trying to pry them off, the Shriekers let out the ringing sound...and the victims exploded.

Midoriko, Kibō, and the Yamamura family were still on the move, and were lucky enough to witness this.

"Poor bastards...." Kibō muttered under his breath, his eyes contorting with mild sympathy as he ran. Sachi remained silent, though she did glance at the death going on occasionally. It was clear that even the stoic Yamamura wasn't entirely unaffected by the slaughter all around them.

Morio looked down at the murder going on in the streets. He frowned. "Everyone, I think I'll make a stop-off here." He said, already beginning to make his descent.

"Don't do anything stupid!" Sachi immediately warned him, voice stern. She already knew what he was going to do, and she knew he could handle himself. She just hoped that in the heat of battle, he wouldn't get carried away.

"Since when have I ever done anything stupid?" He called back up.

"Since that jail break a few centuries ago!"

"Oh yeah..." Mori murmured.

"Jailbreak?" Midoriko asked, turning to Sachi.

"It's not important...." Sachi answered dismissively.

Morio removing mask

Morio about to put on his Hollow Mask

Morio hit the ground, smiling. He raised his hand up, forming his Hollow mask. He calmly placed it onto his face.

"Why don't we get the fun started?" Multiple Shriekers heard his voice and turned their attention to him. "Oh, so you all can hear me. That makes this easier." The Shriekers spit out several leeches onto Morio. Under his mask, he frowned, attempting to pull them off, but to no avail. They extended their tongues and emitted a vibrating ringing noise, which immediately caused the leeches to explode, making Morio stumble back, blood dripping down his arms and skull, his mask already cracked.

"Alright..." He murmured. "I wasn't expecting that." He placed a hand to his face, regenerating the broken portion of the mask. "Since the Gote 13 seems to be sleeping on the job, I'll gladly play the role of the exterminator." He raised up his fist, and it was covered in green energy. The Shriekers noticed and spat leeches at him. Right before they hit, he let a Cero loose, the blast annihilating the leeches and the Shriekers in his way, as well as some unfortunate buildings.

"That was easy enough." Morio murmured, however, his feeling of victory was going to be short-lived indeed. As he turned his back on the remains of the Shriekers, they began to quiver, and from the remains sprouted more limbs.

The Shriekers were regenerating. As Morio was walking off, he felt multiple splashes onto his back, arms, and the back of his head. Before he could react, he heard the vibrating bell sound.

BOOM!' Several explosions from all over his body and on the ground around him could now he heard for a fair distance in the Seireitei.

Meanwhile, a dozen Shriekers had reached the Shinigami Research and Development Institute. This squad of Shriekers were sent here by Nabiki herself to dispose of the SRDI.

Meanwhile, inside the structure itself, two figures of importance were speaking to one another. They were the captains of the 4th and 12th Divisions, Naomi and Shien respectively. All around them, workers were scrambling to finish up working and monitor progresses of their technology before the attack hit them. It was an effort to check defenses of the facility before it was hit by the oncoming Shriekers.

"....and the device is active....?" Naomi questioned, cocking an eyebrow.

A smirk crossed Shien's face, his arms folded across his chest. "Not only active, but fully functional!" He declared, raising a finger to adjust his glasses. "This man will never suspect a thing when he realizes what he's going up against. Of course, I have only myself to think, but I will give props to the head Captain for his thought-out plan!"

This caused Naomi to roll her eyes. Shien was always such a narcissist genius, a degenerate prodigy when it came to his work and progress in the Gotei 13. "Let's just hope that same technology can be used to defend this base when those Hollows hit. Failure isn't an option here, Shien-taichō. Do you understand that?"

"Hmph! Failure is eons away from my vocabulary, dear...."

"Shriekers, attack now. Use the Doce Cero." Nabiki sent her telepathic orders to the creatures. Each of the dozen Shrieker's began to move, assuming various positions around the Shinigami Research and Development Institute so they could cause damage from all sides. They opened their mouths and stuck their tongues straight out, forming purple orbs of energy in front of each of them. The orbs began to grow larger and larger, and then stopped. There was a moment of silence, and then each Shrieker unleashed a large purple beam simultaneously and they merged at the same point, forming a massive and powerful Cero that tore the ground as it headed towards to engulf and disintegrate the SRDI as well as everyone inside.

It smashed into the outside walls, its power pushing against the very facility. However, even with the combined might of this, the SRDI building stood like an impenetrable wall against the attack. However, the energy was enough to shake its innards, similar in the manner to how an earthquake would be executed. Inside the heart of the facility, the occupants staggered a little, some even falling over in surprise due to the weight.

"Damn it...." Naomi growled, rising to her feet and glaring at the entrance way. "I'm sensing enemy presences all over the area! They've got this whole place under siege!" This prompted a few workers to take up arms, both swords and a few Kidō rifles being wielded in preparation.

"They'll never get through." Shien answered dismissively. "Mayuri made a foolish mistake in not attending to the alloy of his own facility in the case of destruction. What I've constructed out of it is fool-proof; they'll never be able to use those creatures to smash straight through like any other building! So we have plenty of time to prepare ourselves once they storm in." His eyes searched around. "Now, where's my damn Lieutenant! I told him to be here five minutes ago!!"

"Tsk!" Nabiki hissed in her thoughts, noticing that the Doce Cero wasn't causing any significant damage. "I expected more than this." Then something came to her. If they couldn't destroy from the outside, then perhaps, the inside? The dozens of the Shriekers merged and took on their gas form. In this form, they began to move, their spiritual energy undetectable, themselves nearly invisible and odorless. As they reached the main building of the SRDI, they seeped into a vent on the side of the main building.

"Our motion sensors picking up something entering through the vents, taichō!"

"Hm?" Shien raised an eyebrow, looking up to the ceiling. One of the vent extensions led directly into the room they were in. A rather sadistic sneer crossed his face, and he directed his gaze to the worker that spoke. "If they're attempting to poison us, they surely don't know any better! Turn on the air conditioner! It might get a bit colder, but it'll force that gas right out of the building!!"

As the worker did so, the 12th Division captain turned to Naomi with an irked expression. "Takahashi clearly underestimates my abilities. That will be the fool's downfall!" He declared.

As the cool air began to circulate through the building, it worked as Shien had expected, blowing the Shrieker gas directly out of the vent and back outside, where they regained corporeal form. Nabiki hissed. These failure's weren't letting her thinking straight. But, the vent had given her another idea. She had one of the Shrieker's fly in and rip the vent "cage" open. The Shrieker's "artillery" were form, and began to run through the vent. These beings weren't gas, and they felt no pain. They would keep moving, no matter how hot, cold, or how much damage they took. As the "artillery" reached the end of the vent, they opened the other vent "cage", leering into the room where Shien and the others were.

This time, Naomi was the first to react.

"LOOK OUT!!!"

Immediately, the 4th Division Captain raised her hands up, summoning her Kidō to her aid. Immediately, one half of the Kagesei spell had pinned itself to the vent cage opening, preventing the artillery from exploding and causing considerable damage. "Sooner or later, they're going to find some way to breach the facility..." She commented tensely, eyes narrowing. "We need reinforcements to turn the heat off of us--"

"Shien-taichō!" Immediately, a voice shot from Shien's ear through an earpiece he was wearing. "This is Takashi, can you read me, over?"

"You'd better have a good explanation for being so late, Takashi!" Shien snapped, placing a finger to his earpiece so that his voice could be heard better.

"W-well, sir.... I managed to contact the 2nd Division. They sent out a small group of Onmitsukidō in order to assist in the support, but there was a volunteer unit from the Yūrei that came to assist them. I'll put the leader on... just a moment...."

It was only a few seconds, before Shogo Nakamura's voice spoke out. "Captain Shien? I was told that you and your men could use some help...." His tone sounded gruff, but polite nonetheless. "The troops and I are making our way close to position ourselves behind the enemy's frontlines. With the 2nd Division's tech and our natural affinities, we're cloaked from their senses. You'll know when you're free when the first gunshot sounds. Out."

The communication ended. Shien frowned disdainfully, folding his arms across his chest. "I do hope they do their job. I don't keep this facility up and running just so it can be torn down by these rebellious hooligans!" He said indignantly, before turning off and storming away. Naomi just watched him go for a moment before letting out an annoyed sigh. Why was her colleagues so difficult to work with....?

Nabiki was beginning to get rather frustrated with these failures. She sighed. There was one more option, though it wasn't one she favored. The Shrieker's version of suicide bombing. Each Shrieker raised it's head directly up, and a multitude of "artillery" were created, surrounding the main laboratory on all sides. They began to pile up on each other, and then stopped, the building surrounded in a mass of green. They all released leeches, hitting the buildings and each other.

"Now!"

All twelve Shriekers extended their tongues, and the vibrating ringing sound and the leeches created a truly massive explosion, destroying the remaining artillery as well as attacking the building itself. The explosion began to expand, enveloping the Shriekers, ripping them apart and turning them to dust.

Needless the say, the explosion attracted attention.

Inside, all of the workers were knocked viciously off of their feet, and the two Captains were forced to stagger for a moment. All of their eyes widened in considerable shock, the power rippling through their bodies like a wind. However, despite all of that, the near-impenetrable building still held under the brutal suicide attack caused by the Shriekers. The bright light, however, was enough to shake the buildings nearby....

WHAM!

Immediately, Shogo led a raid through the front door of the building next door, his rifle aimed and ready to shoot at a moment's notice. However, once he saw virtually nothing, he lowered it in what appeared to be slight disappointment. He motioned out his comrade Kuniumi, who was acting as the pathfinder for the 2nd Division squad. "Looks like we were too late.... Shriekers killed themselves attempting to blow up the facility." He commented, eyes searching around.

Kuniumi whistled. "Woah. They must be getting desperate. Things just might be turning in our favor, eh?"

Shogo turned his attention to the squad. "You all, scout the perimeter and proceed with caution." He ordered. "There may be enemies in the area, so keep yourself undetected and out of sight. Kuniumi and I will speak with the 12th and 4th Division captains on what's going on in this sector. Move out!"

"Yes, sir!"

The shadows scattered immediately, leaving Kuniumi and Shogo to stand alone and approach the facility.

Nabiki sighed. Her attack on the Twelfth Division Barracks had come to a pathetic failure. Takahashi wasn't going to like this, though luckily, she wouldn't have to tell him just yet. She turned her telepathy towards Shikaku now.

"Shikaku, how are things on your end?"

"Never better...."

As Shikaku was speaking to her, he stood in one of the medical facilities. In his wake, there was a line of dead Shinigami that had been unfortunate enough to cross his path. He walked slowly, though with a purpose. "Their defense is heavily lacking, but apparently they were quick enough to evacuate patients out of the area before I could get to them. Nevertheless, the 4th Division's barracks HQ is being liquified as we speak."

Nabiki chuckled. "Nice. I wish I could say the same for my assignment. My Shrieker assault on Twelfth Company did not go as I would have expected. Even my last ditch explosion failed. Takahashi-sama will not be pleased."

An amused smile crossed Shikaku's face. "Never send a child to do an adult's job, I suppose." He answered tauntingly. The remembrance of Nabiki's long-term mistrust in him had jarred itself within his mind. But he could've cared less about what she thought of him. What was a measly minion like her to do?

"I was merely following orders." Nabiki replied icily. "It was Takahashi-sama that understimated the durability the labs of Twelfth Company have. It has rather changed since our time here."

Shikaku quirked an eyebrow, even though she wouldn't be able to see it. "So you're saying that you have some doubts of Takahashi's forethought? At the very least, I can commend you for not being a mindless drone to his cause." He commented, the taunt wiped from his voice this time.

Nabiki hissed. "Either way, I'm turning my attention away from Twelfth Company. If you're finished where you are, go take them on yourself. I shall turn my Shrieker's attentions to Sixth Company."

"Very well."

As more Shrieker's continued to arrive, Nabiki sent orders to a few, and they turned and began to march towards the Sixth Company barracks, while their brethren continued their destruction.

Dancing With Spears

"Bakudō number 39, Enkosen!" Rukia put her blade in front her, forming a shield of condensed reiatsu with easily blocked the Hadō spell.

The shield.... it would obscure her vision partially.

A perfect set up for his next attack.

With a Shunpo, he brought himself to her direct front, hands outstretched in front of him. The beginning of a Gaki Rekkō was formed at his palms, hands crackling with the powerful yellow energy. Once he was certain it had charged itself enough, he unleashed the attack at the point-blank range they were at. His hair was whipping back from the winds the attack was creating, but he himself remained unphased.

Her shield, which was still in place, only managed to hold the spell off for a brief moment before it completely shattered and the bullets of light began to rain forwards towards her. Several of the spears cut into her, blodo spouting, But, she managed to gear herself into action, dodging the others with Shunpo and moving towards him, braving the rain of light in order to get close. She appeared at his front as his spell died down, and placed her hand in front of him.

"Hadō number 63, Raikōhō." She did as Anton had done, releasing her spell from near point blank range, emitting a powerful shock a lightning from her palms.

WOOSH!

Anton saw the counter-attack coming beforehand. With a Shunpo just enough for a side-step distance, he evaded the attack. His side was now facing Rukia, his head turned to stare at her smaller form. "You seem quite insistent on fighting me at my level." He commented. "I thought for sure finishing this fight quickly would've been your motive. More innocent lives will die the more you drag this battle on...."

Rukia turned to look at him. "It's about to end, right now." As she spoke these words, a light snow began to fall. She raised Sode no Shirayuki and began to puncture the ground once creating a large ice circle similar to the first dance, then she punctures the ground in front of her four times in a semi circle. She took a battle stance and ice particles began to flow up from the protrusions she'd made in the ground.

"Tsugi no mai, Hakuren!" As she called out the attack name, a massive, powerful pure-white wave of ice fired from Sode no Shirayuki's blade, speeding towards Anton.

"Another projectile attack...."

Anton immediately pulled another side-step to avoid the assault, the blast narrowly missing him. It was an expression of mockery, an expression of goading. It was telling her that her attacks were proving themselves to be worthless in his cause. It was meant to tell her that whatever effort she was putting into this fight, she needed more than that. "Tell me, Kuchiki...." He continued to speak to her calmly. "Have you ever fought and defeated a supposed Captain-level opponent by yourself?"

"Tell me how that is relevant to this situation." She spoke back just as calmly. She did not continue her attack, but she did not lower her guard either.

A casual frown crossed Anton's face, and he raised his hands and arms up in a shrugging motion. "Well, if you're attempting to fight evenly with me...." He explained. "Then that must mean you're feeling quite at ease. You're thinking, "I can defeat this opponent over time, and I have plenty of it". That must also mean I must be taking it a bit too easy on you, and that's causing you to think so clearly." Slowly, he side-stepped towards a nearby building, lowering his arms and balling one of them into a fist. "Maybe it's time...."

He slowly raised his fist.

"....I made you feel despair."

He swung.

BOOM!

Upon impact, his blow was enough to smash through the entire lower foundation of the building. It collapsed within itself, causing a smoke cloud to bellow and envelop him within its clutches. The shockwave of the punch was much more devestating; its focus caused several buildings in its corresponding row to explode and collapse as the first building had done. It was not his spiritual energy that did so.... but his own physical strength.

That very spectacle shocked Rukia, causing her eyes to widen and she let out a small gasp. Up above however, it also distracted Miharu, the young Kuroskai turning to look at the destroyed building. This slip up proved to be a mistake. As soon as she'd turned her back, she felt Takahashi's blade sink into it. The pain was a signal to her, causing her to move out of the way, but the wound was still there and bleeding.

"Shit." She thought to herself as she felt the blood drip down her back. "I should have been looking."

"Miharu!"

Immediately, the daughter felt the hand of her mother on her back. A bit of healing Kidō seeped into the wound in order to keep it from bleeding out. The medic kept her eyes onto Takahashi with concentration, as she did not want to fall into the same trap. Of course, she knew the man was simply toying with them.... why wasn't he aiming to kill them outright?

In an instant, with speed that her lower-level eyes could not percieve, he was right at her side. His hot breath tickled her ear with its whisper.

"Here I come....Kuchiki."

Then, he raised his leg up, striking the woman in the side with the same force he had applied to the now-wrecked building.

"Nabiki, how are you fairing with the tasks I've assigned?" Takahashi asked, not even bothering to stop Megami's healing of Miharu.

"Fourth Company has been eradicated. Unfortunately, I was unable to dispose of Twelfth Company. As we speak, Sixth Company is under siege."

Takahashi frowned. "Twelfth Company still stands?" His tone just barely showed his disappointment at hearing this. "Perhaps I underestimated them. It shouldn't matter. Send Shikaku."

"I've already done so."

"Good." He turned his attention behind him. "Take heart." He said to Megami and Miharu. "It seems you reinforcements are arriving."

Rukia's eyes widened and blood spurted from her mouth as the felt the man's leg collide with her side. She was sent flying and heard her ribs crack. She slid across the ground, and went through a building before she came to a complete stop. There was no denying the pain, but she stumbled to her feet.

"That strength!" She thought to herself, wiping the blood from her mouth. "It's impossible. It's monstrous!"

Anton slowly approached her, a rather calm gait within his features. "If you have anything more up your sleeve, I suggest you use it." He spoke. "After all, it's only a matter of time before you're dead, anyway. Why spend the remainder of your life cowering in the corner when you can have a much more honorable death with the hands around the throat of your enemy? It's much more dignified...."

As he walked, however, he sensed the oncoming presences approaching. He blinked, tempted to turn his eye in the direction of them. However, that would only allow Rukia to attack him.... if she somehow managed to recover from the devestating blow he had given her quick enough....

Megami looked out of the corner of her eye... and to her relief, she sensed Takahashi was right. "Oh, thank god...." She muttered under her breath, resisting the urge to sigh in relief.

Midoriko, Kibō and the Yamamura family were coming through, Midoriko and Kibō at the head.

Takahashi smiled upon seeing them. "As I said. Not that their arrival will make any difference."

The snow began to fall even harder as they arrived, and Rukia smiled. It was about to happen.

The snow, still falling, seemed to intensify.

"....?"

At the snow falling heavier, Anton raised a quizzical eyebrow. He had assumed it was part of the Hakuren attack Rukia produced earlier, but it now seemed like something else.... something much more.... "What is this....?" He asked softly, staring at the sky for a moment. Despite being what could be one of his most dangerous threats yet, it still looked so.... beautiful. He almost smiled grimly at the irony.

Only Sachi and Suki were behind them. Mitsuki and Tora had gone for the moment in a separate locations. Only their daughters knew where they were going, however....

"Takahashi...."

Kibō spat the name with barely hidden venom, immediately drawing out his sword and fixing a bitter glare at his father's killer. He was tempted to attack, to bring his sword down upon his enemy's head. However, he knew better. His anger was greatly outmatched by Takahashi's strength alone, so he would have to think rationally in order to kill the monster.

Takahashi turned to look at Kibō, as the boy was the one who had addressed them. "Ah yes, the young hatching." He chuckled. "How are you fairing, after having been kicked out of the nest before you were ready to fly?"

Kibō's lip curled. "I've learned enough to know how to swoop and kill." He remarked, lifting the blade to point at Takahashi. "And, by God, how I'll enjoy taking you in my claws...." Despite his violent words, he felt a sting of anger within him. His enemy seemed so calm...so confident... even the fact that he was surrounded didn't help him?

"I see." Takahashi raised his blade. "In that case, I will enjoy clipping you wings. Realize, Kakure Shin." He called out his Zanpakutō release comman and name, but nothing happened. However, he did not look surprised or disappointed at all. "Come, boy."

Midoriko looked suspicious. His Zanpakutō hadn't seemed to do anything at all, yet he didn't look fazed at all. Something was off here.

The brown-haired teen's teeth gritted in a snarl. "Gladly! Ascend from the Ashes, Kaiketsu!!!" His blade immediately split into two, one in each hand. Rotating his body and his blades, he unleashed the first attack onto his person. From the ground, dense sand rose up in snake-like pillars and raced towards Takahashi from all sides, intent on crushing him where he stood.

And they made contact too, but as soon as they hit, they crushed on contact with a glowing barrier. Takahashi smiled. "Your talons are dull." He said, his voice only slightly muffled from inside the barrier. "With talons like that, you cannot kill me."

Midoriko frowned. He was taunting Kibō. She gripped her Zanpakutō. If he let his anger get the better of him, she was going to have to step in.

However, someone else decided to assist.

From behind the barrier, Sachi appeared with her own sword at the ready. She had trained with these types of foes all of her life, all of them coming in the form of her own father. She had yet to discover the full abilities of his Zanpakutō, but the strength he carried.... the immense reiatsu.... it didn't affect her. A measly barrier would not be enough to keep Takahashi's head from being removed from its shoulders if he didn't move accordingly.

And so, she swung, her eyes narrowed and a concentrated frown on her face.

He didn't move. However, something did block the blade.

It was Miharu. But she looked slightly different. Her gaze was unfocused and her eyes were blank. She pushed Sachi back, and stood next to Takahashi like a guard. Her blade crackled with the same color energy as the barrier that surrounded Takahashi.

"M-Miharu?!" Midoriko gasped in surprise at her sister's actions.

"W..What in the....?!"

At first, Kibō was shocked at the girl's actions. Then, his eyes drifted over towards Takahashi. "That release....!" He thought, narrowing his eyes once more in a fierce glare. "You!" He exclaimed, raising an accusatory finger to point at his foe. "What in the hell did you do to her?!"

Sachi herself only allowed a flash of surprise to come across her eyes. "A sort of hypnosis....?" She thought to herself, studying Miharu carefully.

"What did I do to her?" Takahashi repeated. "Since you asked, I will explain. The human mind is even more fragile than the body. People are influenced by what they see and read. Out of that, people can create an entire split personality. Others even think they hear "God"...Imagination can eat up the mind." He placed a hand to his forehead. "When my overwhelming charisma and dominance combines with a person's internal image of "God" it's easy to control anyone. That is the power of my Zanpakutō. My mind utterly dominates them...their thoughts, their senses, their memories. Miharu at this moment is my puppet to control." Miharu raised her own sword to her neck. "If I wanted, I could have her kill herself now."

A sharp intake of breath came from Megami. "Let her go!" She shouted angrily. However, the dread was seeping through her rapidly. Just like that, Takahashi had turned one of their own lives against them. Now, how could they free her? The question only made her grip her sword tightly. She wouldn't let her daughter die to this monster!

"Now Miharu, go. Pick your mother apart." Takahashi ordered and Miharu launched herself toward's Megami, her sword gleaming, her eyes and face blank.

Down on the ground, Rukia was smiling as the snow continued to fall. "You want to know what this snow means?" She asked. "Take a look at your feet." As she said these words, ice, which had already encased his feet, was quickly moving up.

"!!!"

Anton's eyes widened in shock for a moment. Of course! She was aiming to freeze him using the very snow around him! But had she conjured up this storm? With only her Shikai? He couldn't believe that a mere seated officer could have such power. It was a severe underestimation....

But that would not deter him.

As the ice crawled up his body, he stared one last time at Rukia with a hardened look. His hands clenched into fists. This next attack would risk himself in the process.... but at least it would be better than succumbing to his enemy. "You think this prison can hold me....?" He asked rhetorically. "I think not." Before it could pass to his waist, he uttered one word that would unleash the power within.

"Honōshiki."'

There was no warning when a mass of black flame materialized, spread, and enveloped everything within several feet of Anton's person. He felt the searing pain when the fire scorched his own skin, but he paid nothing of it. Under the immense heat, the ice melted away and disintegrated. But now, its hungered blaze was racing towards Rukia in an attempt to claim a final prey.

"Tsugi no mai, Hakuren." A pure-white wave of ice shot down from the sky, forming a large ice pillar that blocked the oncoming flames. However, the flames started to quickly eat at the ice. Before they managed to melt it completely however, a figure dived down and swept Rukia out of the way, before setting it down. It was her Zanpakutō spirit, Sode no Shirayuki, who was also the source of the falling snow.

"Her Zanpakutō spirit...."

Anton identified it immediately. He took this moment as the time to take a breather, inhaling and exhaling deeply once. How come he hadn't noticed her before? Was it because he was too busy attempting to kill Rukia? Oliver was really rubbing off on him. Mentally, he huffed, folding his arms across his chest and waited patiently for the Kuchiki to ready herself again.

"Mother fucker!!!"

Oliver's angered voice snapped him out of his thoughts for a moment. His eyes widened, turning towards the gunman as he continued to unload bullet after bullet upon Aoi's person. The American's eyes were looking in his direction, despite the fact that he was shooting with rather lethal accuracy. "Why don't you try killing me next time?! I might as well have been right beside you!!" At this, the Russian noticed his clothing was partially scorched.

"Heh...." A sheepish smile came across Anton's face. "Sorry....?"

Megami couldn't move.

She could only stare on with dumbfounded eyes as Miharu attacked, blade ready to slice through her. She couldn't move a muscle, couldn't bring the nerve to fight back against her daughter. She could only float, voluntarily helpless as death in the form of love sped at her. "I'm sorry, Miharu...." She thought to herself, closing her eyes and turning away from what would be the sword in her chest.

However, luck once again came in.

Sachi quickly moved to intercept.

WHUMPF!

A swift kick, and Miharu was sent away from her mother. Opening her eyes, Megami was surprised to see Sachi in front of her. The blonde lowered her leg. "I see you can't handle fighting against your own blood...." She said, slightly stern. "So I'll keep that burden off of your shoulders." To emphasize, she raised her blade up in a defensive position, ready to defend Megami and counter Miharu.

"Sachi...." Megami muttered softly, but didn't say anything else.

Miharu recovered rather quickly and it didn't seem as if Sachi's kick had damaged her at all. She raised flicked her hand in Sachi's direction, recognizing her as an enemy now instead of Megami, due to having been attacked by her. The falling snow around Sachi stopped, floating in mid-air, before turning into liquid water and rushed at Sachi, droplets piling onto her, forming a sphere of water. When the sphere was large enough, the droplets stopped flying, and Sachi was now trapped inside the sphere of water.

Suki's eyes widened at this. "Sachi!"

Takahashi turned to Kibō. "Well boy, you seem rather quiet. I recall you saying something earlier about swooping in and taking me in your claws. Why do you not move?"

Immediately, Sachi took in a deep breath and held it before the droplets could consume her completely. She could barely see Miharu's figure through the murkiness of the water. Her hands were held up in front of her, and her legs were partially brought up to her chest. She experimented a little with her movements, trying to push herself in any direction. However, the water seemed to push back against her with equal force, no matter how much she applied. Eyes widening in shock, she could only stare at Miharu for a moment, slowly losing air...

...only to disappear.

She had never been there.

Instead, she was now taking the last few steps behind the girl, sword lowered at her side for a moment. It was the technique called Utsusemi, a technique which left an after-image behind. The image had been the one doing the struggling inside of the water ball... while the real Sachi had snuck up from behind to unleash the second, and much more frightening technique. Not only would the blow severely wound Miharu.... but it would rip away those powers like leaf ripped away from the wind. All it would take was one strike.... and the battle would be over.

The blade tip thrust itself towards the girl's back.

"I've had....just....about enough... of you!!!"

The shock Kibō felt at Miharu's actions was now forced back into the burning hatred towards Takahashi. Unable to help himself, he lunged at him, wanting nothing more than to swing his swords right into the man's head. His eyes were widened with a wild look, his lip curled to show his snarling teeth.

Anyone who had been watching would have barely saw him move. As soon as Kibō recklessly charged, Takahashi raised his blade. In one swift movement, he'd leapt from his spot, cutting deep into the boy before he'd even know what happened. Blood spurted from the boy as Takahashi more blood from his blade.

"Kibō-kun!" Midoriko was shocked, surprised, and furious to see what Takahashi had just done. She ripped her hand over her face, quickly donning her Hollow Mask. Takahashi looked at this in surprise.

"Hollowfication?"

She charged in, only to be greeted by backhand slap from Takahashi, almost completely shattering her mask, and forcing her back.

"Tsk!" She hissed, and fired a Cero at Takahashi.

"And you can even fire a Cero." He smiled as he slammed his hand into the oncoming golden beam, deflecting it. Midoriko was wide-eyed with shock.

Miharu moved, just enough to cause Sachi to miss, the blade piercing her in the wrong body sections. She pushed the blade out, and jumped away, not even showing signs that she was in pain, despite her wounds.

"G....gah....ngh....!!!"

The wound sustained was not good. It was taking a vicious amount of willpower not to fall unconscious. However, he was forced to descend, the pain too much for him to bear. "This....is too much...!!" He exclaimed bitterly, panting heavily. "If this keeps up...we're all going to die...!!" He couldn't die just yet! He had to kill Takahashi!! But their power levels were just too far.... and he was just scattering their numbers.... what were they to do?!

"Just hang in there...."

Immediately, Megami was the first to jump to his aid. The healing hand pressed against his wound, and it started to seal once more. He heard Megami grunt a little. "Ugh.... this wound is just too deep for me to heal completely...." She muttered to herself, dropping her sword an using both hands. "I'll try as best as I can, OK?"

Angelika whistled, looking over the scene. "It seems like Takahashi, dare I say it, has his shit handled...." She remarked, grinning in amusement. She looked down, observing the fight between her own henchmen and their respective opponents. "I wish those two would stop fooling around, though. Takahashi may have the advantage here, but that could change any moment...." Her tone was non-chalant, and she seemed really indifferent to it all. She slipped her hands into her trenchcoat pockets.

"Can you still fight?" Sode no Shirayuki asked, concerned.

"Yes." Rukia nodded. "Can you fight him in my stead though? I have an plan, but I'll need time."

"Of course." Sode no Shirayuki stood up, and pointed her blade at Anton. Wordlessly, she launched a Hakuren from the blades tip, the massive ice wave rushing at the man.

"These are high level spells I've only recently starting practicing with, but now is a better time to try it than ever." Rukia thought to herself, and she began to focus her spirit energy.

"!"

Immediately, Anton darted to the side of the attack, the Hakuren blast barely missing him. "It seems like I was wrong...." He thought, immediately taking to the rooftops with a single leap. His legs boosted off of the ground and onto the roof, where he landed in a crouching position. "Zanpakutō spirits can fight without the aid of their master... or, at least this one can...."

And this Zanpakutō spirit was ruthless in her methods. Sode no Shirayuki, as soon as she saw him flee, took off, quickly landing next to him. As soon as she made it close, she swung her blade at his side.

"Sora no mai, Kōshiro!" From her blade, she let loose a flurry snow-white crystals at Anton.

Meanwhile, Rukia was chanting, quietly so she could not be heard. Her index and middle finger began to glow.

"She's unleashing an attack...."

Whatever it was, Anton suspected it couldn't be good. While launching himself away from Sode no Shirayuki, he extended his hand outwards. A tornado-like blast erupted from his palms, a Tenran blast racing straight for the motionless Kuchiki. He would have to evade and distract Sode while making efforts to interrupt whatever Rukia was trying to summon. Otherwise.... it would cost him his energy in order to avoid it.

Or his life....

In the sky, Sachi observed Miharu closely. Because of the incredible resistance to the pain, it was obvious inflicting wounds was only serving to bring her closer and closer to death. She had to find some way to contain the girl and keep her from fighting. In other words, she would have to either sap her opponent's energy until she gave out, or simply find a way to knock her out. Every option was risky either way, but she had no choice.

She raised a finger. "Bakudō 61. Rikujōkōrō."

Several beams of light shot out at immense speed towards Miharu to trap her within the air.

They collided with Miharu. The girl tried to move, but she the spell had her trapped.

Sode no Shirayuki made a gesture, and a wall of ice erupted from the ground in front of Rukia, shielding her from the Tenran spell while she continued chanting, the yellow glow on her fingers changing to a purple-pink. As the spell died out, Sode no Shirayuki made another gesture, shattering the ice into spears, which she sent hurtling towards Anton.

Still, Anton wasn't ready to give up just yet. He needed to get through Sode yo Shirayuki's defenses, and that would require yet another dangerous attack. If it failed, the consumption of energy would leave him vulnerable to Rukia's finisher, which would not produce fruitful results. Teeth gritting in slight frustration, he violently jerked to the side to avoid being impaled and directed his fist towards Rukia again. This time, a Yariawai spell erupted, a straight beam of energy racing towards Rukia. It was capable of cutting through the stronger-than-solid-steel Hierro of an Arrancar. Sode no Shirayuki's defenses would mean nothing when compared to it.

Anton would kill the Kuchiki.

Sachi used Miharu's immobilization as an opportunity to finish the fight. Re-appearing in front of her, she placed a hand onto her head and looked into her eyes. This next spell would be immediate: a Hakufuku spell. The proximity of it would not destroy anything around her but the air. However, its effect was immediate on Miharu. It knocked out her senses, rendering her unconscious under its power. The binding spell broke, and Sachi immediately caught Miharu by the arm before she could fall to the ground.

For now, she was safe.

Immediately, she dropped towards the spot where Megami and Kibō were, setting the young girl gently on the ground. "Keep watch on her...." Was all she said, before she rose back up towards the sky again in order to re-engage Takahashi.

"So, she's out of my mind control." Takahashi didn't seem upset by it at all. "In that case, it is time to try something else." He raised his blade up. "Envision. Yogoreta Na." He declared, calling out a 'different name than he had last time.

Suki drew her sword. With Midoriko, Kibō and Megami either out of commission or preoccupied, and Aoi and Rukia wrapped up in their own problems, it seemed like it was time for her to enter the battle. But she felt like something was off. He'd released his Zanpakutō again, but under a different name. What was it this time?

Sode no Shirayuki saw the attack on her master and moved, with speed surpassing most Shunpo users, and stood in front of the spell, turning her body to ice, slowing down the beam of energy slightly before it shattered, enabling Rukia to move.

Rukia already knew she would be O.K. and turned her attention to Anton. Having already completed her chant, all that was left was to attempt it.

"Bakudō number 61, Rikujōkōrō!" Several beams of light shot out at immense speed towards Anton to trap him where he stood. And, while his attention was focused on them. "Hadō number 95, Senjū Kōten Taihō!" With this spell, which she knew would drain her considerably, she summoned several spears of light that were all fired directly at Anton.

The first attack, he managed to evade.

However, the second just came too quickly.

"Oh, no...." Anton thought, eyes widening in clear horror as the light sped towards him. In a desperation move to defend himself, he raised his arms up in an X-shaped cross level with his chest. The blast hit him full-on, enveloping him within its brilliant light.

Rukia fell to her knees, Sode no Shirayuki reforming at her side.

"Are you alright?" She asked.

"I'm fine." Rukia replied, still on her knees. "I just need to rest. I've never attempted a Kidō spell that hight before."

Where Anton had been standing, there was a smoke cloud enveloping that as well as the area around him. Obviously, the spell had presented a magnificent amount of damage. However, what mattered most was whether or not it caused that same amount of damage to the Russian mercenary. It possessed a lot of potential, and Rukia's energy certainly was high enough to do the job.

Sadly, fate was cruel against the Kuchiki.

For as the smoke cleared, Anton had stepped out of the smoke with his arms at his sides.

He looked worse for wear. He was bleeding from a head wound, the amount covering one side of his face. His jacket was torn to shreds, revealing the black undershirt underneath. On the showable parts of his skin were blackened, charred marks where the spell had hit him the most. Nevertheless, he was still standing, walking along as if he had only suffered a flesh wound.

Overall.... he survived the attack.

"H-how?" Rukia gasped. "How can that not have stopped you?"

Anton stopped into his tracks, a grim smile crossing his face. "I suppose luck had something to with it...." He answered calmly, leveling both eyes at the woman. With one hand, he ripped off the remnants of his jacket and tossed it aside. "Honestly, I thought I was going to die right then and there... but, apparently someone's decided it just wasn't my time to die...." He turned his head for a moment to look at the alley of the destroyed city. He closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. He put his spiritual senses to use.... and he listened.

His mouth moved.

"But I suppose.... this could be my time to lose...."


Rukia stood up, noting that her legs still felt like jelly from her last spell. She took a stance as Sode no Shirayuki returned to Rukia's blade. She had to end this soon.


The streets were noticeably quiet, and the smell of blood was apparent. A young man with waist-length raven hair was standing in the streets, looking around at his surroundings. Quietly, he turned, his cape fluttering in the wind, moving quickly down the street. The silence in the streets began to grow eerie, but he continued walking, passing by half eaten bodies. When this was all over, he'd have to ask what happened here. He stopped in front of a house, one that stood out in the Yūrei Ōkoku. He walked into the yard and opened the door. Where had that boy buried him? He walked through the house until he found an exit that led him to the backyard.

There was a single grave standing in the middle, inscribed with the name 印字機龍火 (Injiki Ryūka). The young man walked over to it, placing his hand on the top of the tombstone.

"Ryūka..." He sighed. "Still hard to accept that your dead. I killed you once, but that was me." He wiped his finger across the tombstone. "I didn't expect anyone else to be able to manage that feat." He chuckled for a moment, but his face turned serious. "I can feel it from here. The one who slew you is still alive. Kibō seems to have been weakened. I can only assume he's fallen." Ahatake turned his head towards the Seireitei. "I'm going to avenge you Ryūka." He said determinedly. "You and Kyashi both." With those words, he was enveloped in flames, and vanished from that spot, leaving the grass where he stood burned, his version of leaving flowers by the grave.

The End

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