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This article, Chiaroscuro: Aggravation, is the co-property of both LordGalvatron and Stylx.

This article, Chiaroscuro: Aggravation, is property of Zf6hellion.

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Chiaroscuro: Premonition Chiaroscuro: Complication Chiaroscuro: Aggravation Chiaroscuro: Retribution

Part 1

Seireitei.

Anders Schäfer was standing among the rubble of the devastated battlefield, buildings demolished and the ground dotted with plentiful small craters.

"I suppose you may be growing tired of my little, ineffectual attacks", he said, addressing his opponent. "Regardless, I hope they have served as an extemporary warm-up for you, because it is time to advance our duel to the next stage", he continued whilst his crossbow emitted a static noise.

"Heilig Blitz."

Single supercharged bolt of spiritual energy burst forth from his weapon, aimed at the Royal Guardsman's chest. As the bolt flew toward him, Satō used Shunpo to dodge the attack, the arrow whizzed past him, exploding a considerable distance away. Undeterred Ander's kept his assault fresh, constantly firing Heilig Blitz's at an considerable rate, however despite the barrage the Zanjutsu master managed to evade the quincy's relentless attack.

"Sehr gut, despite being an unholy Shinigami your skills in evasion are magnificent.", Schäfer exclaimed, his voice, while sounding vaguely joyous, still had a hint of loathing in it.

However, despite his comment Satō got into a offensive stance and charged at the Quincy, catching him slightly off guard, in which only pure instinct and a Seele Schneider prevented a fatal blow.

"Your movements may be eloquent, but your manners are that of filth, like all Shinigami are.", Anders growled.

Satō merely narrowed his eyes as he pushed the Quincy back, dodging the now flying Seele Schneider Anders shot.

"Hadō #70, Hisame Akaihi.", Satō said firmly.

A large pillar of compressed fire shot forth from the Royal Guardsman's hand, headed swiftly to Anders, who only could express a look of annoyance before the Kidō struck him, causing a sizable explosion in the air.

Once its glow had vanished, it revealed the Quincy's singed form. All of his veins were shining faintly with an aquamarine colour, giving him a peculiar appearance. Suddenly, the pattern changed significantly. With a swift motion he had reached out toward his back and detached another Seele Schneider from his belt, and then quickly put it in his crossbow's barrel.

Another arrow darted toward the Shinigami.

With as distance as clear as had been given, evading the next shot was as simple as the previous ones. Again Satō made use of Shunpo to not only evade but to place himself on the offensive, a series of instantaneous movements brought him within a few feet of the Quincy before his entire arm vanished in a feat of intense speed.

"Senmaioroshi", he said flatly. His body disappeared following the words only to reappear behind Anders, a visible trail of sword cuts attempted to tear the man's entire body to pieces.

Schäfer's white cloak was torn to shreds, but few drops of blood were launched into the air in the wake of Shingen's manoeuvre. With an abrupt motion so fast he appeared as a blur, he turned and pointed his spirit weapon, Reiniger, at the Shinigami's back. Yet again he fired a Seele Schneider, while at the same time casting away his tattered cape with the other hand.

Only those at the height of stupidity would stay still with their back to the enemy, especially one that they knew wouldn't go down in a single strike. This applied to Satō as well, who'd quickly pulled into another Shunpo following his attack, but it would appear Anders had been quicker on the draw. Though the motion allowed him to avoid any serious harm, his forearm had been struck by the passing spiritual blade, leaving a rather obvious tear in his robe.

He could feel the bonds of Reishi within his arm splitting apart, initially there was no blood, just a gap where there was once flesh composed of spiritual particles, it quickly filled up with blood attempting to circulate through that part of the body. Satō would nonethless ignore it.

"It seems I underestimated how quickly you could fire that bow", he muttered to the air.

"You have no idea", replied the Quincy, who had just materialised to his side.

A shower of light erupted from his crossbow.

Satō had played the same trick, the instant Anders appeared, he disappeared only to turn up beneath him. His sword swung at a crossing arc above him, firing off a pair of blades made of spiritualized wind at the Quincy overhead.

"Tenkusōkon!", he exclaimed as if roaring at the Heavens above.

Nearly caught off guard, Anders spun rapidly around his axis in order to avoid the strike. However, one of the blades managed to leave a shallow cut on his left arm as they were narrowly passing by. With a burst of Hirenkyaku he moved a significant distance away. Once on the ground, he took a brief glance at Shingen whilst drawing a Seele Schneider with a swift motion.

Rather than load it into his crossbow, he promptly stabbed it into the ground.

"Sprenger", he declared solemnly.

All those Soul Cutters, seemingly so easy to avoid, had been fired with that scheme in mind, one of them actually concealed under the cloak he had cast away during the fight. Huge aquamarine pentagon shone under Satō's feet, immediately fastening him to the ground. With an ominous grin Schäfer revealed a small silver tube held in-between the fingers of his left palm, and poured a single streak of gleaming liquid at the Seele Schneider in front of him.

Subsequently, a column of devastating light engulfed the Royal Guardsman with its destructive power.

Like a parasite eating its way outside of a host's body, a golden light burst through the blue, beam after beam shot through the magnificient pillar of Reishi before exploding into a new pillar of peerless gold. The second tower of light dispersed as soon as the last trace of the Sprenger had faded revealing the Royal Guardsman to have been unharmed by the attack. His Zanpakutō had shifted form ever so slightly, its blade had straightened and the steel replaced by the finest silver.

"Would you like to try again?", uncharacteristically he taunted his foe.

Schäfer rapidly bent his legs in his knees, throwing his left hand to the side and outstretching the right forward, pointed at the Shinigami.

"Hagelfeuer", he bellowed.

The crackling orb plugging the barrel of his weapon literally exploded, unleashing a volley of 108 Heilig Blitz spread over a wide arc.

A massive golden crescent shot forth to meet the oncoming Heilig Blitz, its size was gargantuan and more than enough to encapsulate the spread of the spiritual arrows. Beneath that a much thinner blade flew in proportion to a second, lighter swing of Satō's blade.

The Heilig Blitz collided with the mammoth blade of energy only to be consumed, they would re-emerge from the smaller edge, their formation more focused and directed straight at the one who'd fired them.

Satō vanished into the air with Shunpo, constantly repositioning himself in wait for the next move.

Noticing the wall of death coming his way, Anders quickly threw at it a small tube he had drawn earlier. Streak of glowing liquid rapidly materialised a large shield, holding the attack just long enough to allow him to evade it safely. Still on the move, Schäfer charged his upcoming attack with Blut Arterie.

"Hagel", he stated sternly right before firing it.

The powerful recoil caused him to spin around his axis and land on the ground below. Meanwhile, the swirling sphere of electricity rapidly rose up to the sky and blew up, unleashing an omnidirectional barrage of countless bolts of explosive energy. Devastating the entire area, it caused a massive cloud of dust and debris to rise into the air.

Contrary to his previous motions, Satō stopped in place, seemingly allowing Anders' attack to engulf him. A short moment before it had done so, a glimmer passed over his blade. The very next moment he was no longer anywhere near the explosion. Instead he was emerging from a new formed blade of energy, right next to the Quincy. His blade already aimed for its next target, a cleaving strike aimed towards severing the hand from the arm. A disarming motion, if a little drastic.

Schäfer's body twitched in an abrupt movement as he turned around to defend himself. There was an aquamarine glint, and Satō's blade clashed with the gleaming edge of a Seele Schneider the Quincy had recovered mere moments ago. Within the following instant the Soul Cutter's blade dispersed, enclosing the Shinigami within.

Quick to utilise this opportunity, Anders promptly leapt backward whilst drawing another Gintō tube from his belt. Then, he had thrown it at the barrier right before disappearing with the use of Hirenkyaku. Once the fluid contained inside made contact with the cage's surface, it triggered a giant explosion.

It had happened again, another shine of light rushed across Shūgetsu's edge, completing its journey within a fraction of a moment before the Seele Schneider's cage had completed its form. The cage was empty when the Gintō collided with the gathered Reishi, wasting little more than resources in the process.

Despite the obviousness of that particular motion, Satō made use of it. Standing directly behind Anders, his hands charged with light before a great strike of lightning shot forth at the Quincy's natural blind spot.

Hit in the back by the strong Hadō, Schäfer disappeared from the Royal Guardsman's sight in a flash of light. The explosion formed a large crater and stirred up a considerale amount of smoke.

Using this brief moment to rest, Shingen nonetheless stayed vigilant. Suddenly, he heard a distant, protracted thunderous noise. Even though the enormous portal above the Sōkyoku Hill had vanished, the swirl of storm clouds remained there, and now, after another thunder resounded through the city, began spreading on the light blue sky. In a matter of seconds the whole Seireitei was drowned in grim semidarkness.

"It is time", he then heard the Quincy's raised voice from a distance.

Gust of wind cleared the smoke, revealing Anders' form. There was a big hole on his uniform at his back, and his exposed skin was visibly singed. Nevertheless, he stood calmly, his stare fixed onto the Shinigami.

He reached with his left hand to the right palm and swiftly took off a black glove.

Air around him undulated. Subsequently, within a fraction of a second most of his immediate surroundings were torn to shreds, converted into spiritual particles and assembled on his body. His uniform was fixed and modified, and Reiniger became larger and more intricate in construction. A pentagon-shaped halo materialised above his head, and two pairs of black wings spread from his back. The aquamarine Reiatsu outlined his muscular body.

"Bardiel."

Suddenly, barely visible threads of condensed Reishi erupted from Schäfer in all directions, seemingly holding onto several imperceptible things suspended in various areas of the battlefield. A single surge of energy flowed through each thread, momentarily lighting them and the golden scars they caught before tearing the latter apart.

"I have modified my Reiniger especially for you", he said whilst pointing the weapon at Satō. "I have seen such a thing utilised in the World of the Living."

The crossbow was now sporting a bundle of six barrels arranged in a circular formation, which promptly started to rotate with an audible whizz.

Then started the cannonade.

Part 2

Numerous shockwaves pummeled the already destroyed buildings that surrounded Tinieblas, the Arrancar was exchanging shocking blows to her two opponents, her unmatched eyes glinted with madness as she finally stopped assaulting the two reinstated Captains.

"You're tougher than before, wasn't expecting you to be that good.", Kuragari exhaled as he lifted his mask to wipe some sweat from his forehead, revealing his black and purple coloured eyes in full view, further angering Tinieblas.

"HOW IS THIS!", she screamed, raising up her black nodachi, she took a great swing at Kuragari, who merely caught it with one of his armoured gauntlet, his action caused the Arrancar to recoil slightly, Tadayoshi, noticing her abrupt pause, took the chance as he attacked her from behind her back.

"You can thank that spider of yours for this.", Kurokawa said smugly, his released sword, while impeded slightly by Tinieblas' Hierro, sank into Tinieblas' shoulder, causing her to wince in pain.

"Lascivia?", Tinieblas asked, her voice was unusually calm and her face showed signs of shock, seeing her expression, Tadayoshi's eyes became wider behind his mask, giving off a sense of elation.

"Yeah, it was a stupid move for her to make a carbon copy of me and just give it to our technology department.", he explained, despite Tinieblas' growing anger he continued on, "Next time you should get smarter allies.", his jeers finally caused Tinieblas to explode in anger, she forcefully broke free of Kuragari's grip and charged towards Tadayoshi, who promptly got into a kneeling position, his right hand placed on the floor,

"Bakudō #21, Sekienton!", he exclaimed, both Tinieblas and Kurokawa disappeared in a cloud of red smoke, concealing their movements, rubbing his hand, Ikiryō observed as Kurokawa appeared next to him.

"Y'know we should lay off the insults a little bit, we can handle her now but her anger makes her extremely dangerous, don't you remember what happened before?.", Kuragari said, pulling his hollow mask back on.

"You're right, sorry.", Kurokawa replied, slightly ashamed at his provocative behaviour.

The two turned to face Tinieblas, who had not moved an inch during their small conversation, she was staring them down furiously, growling at the two Captains. Without uttering a word, she charged at Ikiryō, engaging him in a mad display of flurries and slashes. Kurokawa stayed a small distance away, he placed his hand on the curved groove of his Zanpakutō.

"Hadō #32, Ōkasen.", he murmured quietly, his blade started glowing a bright yellow colour, the energy from the sword shining over the scorched battlefield, he instantaneously spun on his axis and slashed upward, releasing a wide, vertical beam towards the two combatants, momentarily splitting them apart.

During the small gap of time Kurokawa bought Ikiryō broke through Tinieblas' defence, he punched her square in the solar plexus, sending her flying back down to the earth, causing a vast amount of dust to rise.

"Alright, let's get a bit more serious.", Kuragari said darkly, he started to charge up an indigo coloured ball in his left hand, the ball of energy increased until is was enveloping his fist. He pointed it at the cloud of dust as it was dissipating, revealing Tinieblas getting up from Kuragari's punch, she had enough time to look up and stare at Kuragari's attack.

"Cero."

All she could do was to widen her eyes before the surprisingly fast beam hit her with full force. The following explosion of energy and darkness enveloped her entirely.

Not for long.

The black and purple shroud dispersed suddenly with the release of her massive Reiatsu. This time Kuragari was the one to be shocked, as he noticed her charging a big, spiral-like orb of swirling blackness.

"THIS IS A CERO!", she yelled as it burst forth.

Ikiryō had little trouble evading the attack, but its result was not so easy to avoid. The devastating explosion leveled a large area, reducing numerous buildings to ashes and debris. Kuragari reappeared a signficant distance away, streaks of smoke flowing from his singed clothing.

With a burst of Shunpo he moved beside Kurokawa, who had been observing the situation attentively.

"Kuro, prepare something nasty for her while I'm keeping her occupied", he said to the reinstated Kidō Chief. "We can't let her release her full power, so I'll try not to overdo this either."

After having had said that, he removed his Hollow mask with a swift motion. Then, he slammed his armoured fists on front of his chest.

"Bankai, Sonzai no Yūgure", he declared sternly.

A pillar of black and purple energy emanated from his body and shot toward the sky. His clawed gauntlets increased in size, and a black-and-silver set of light armour materialised on his body. Some of his cold Reiatsu became extremely dense and formed a spreading, tattered cape, fluttering on its own.

"Care to provide an opener?", he said to Tadayoshi as he was preparing to leap forward.

"With pleasure.", Kurokawa replied, he lifted his zanpakutō horizontally, getting into a stance as the sky darkened around them slightly, noticing the change, Kuragari prepared himself.

"Hadō #91, Senjū Kōten Taihō!", Tadayoshi shouted as the pink spears of light cascaded down upon Tinieblas, Ikiryō, not wasting a moment, rushed towards the explosion while Kurokawa got into a defensive stance, his mask started cracking slightly due to his exertion.

"This is gonna wipe me out quite a bit.", he murmured under his breath, he raised his zanpakutō as it shined brightly and increased in size.

"Bankai, Shoukan no Mikoto.", he stated, he lowered his now elegant, oversized longsword slightly while tensing his free hand slightly, making a claw like shape with it.

Despite the Kidō's impressive explosion, Tinieblas was relatively unfazed as she intercepted Ikiryō's attacks, the only damage she had acquired was a large, superficial burn mark on her left arm. The two combatants clashed furiously, each matching their power level perfectly, however as the fight bore on, Kuragari found himself steadily being pushed back.

"Borei!", he shouted, just barely activating his ability as Tinieblas' nodachi flew through his head, Kurgari, still intangible, maneuvered behind the Arrancar, materialising again, slashing downward onto her head, Tinieblas however, spun on her heel, blocking the attack just in time. In retaliation, she fired a point-blank Bala at Ikiryō, causing him to fly back a number of metres, distancing herself from him.

Meanwhile, Kurokawa finally had charged a sizable Cero, using up a vast amount of energy, he forcibly made his zanpakutō absorb the hollow technique, the Cero suddenly changed, it initially shrouded his blade in black energy, the energy had a distinct red outline around it, it finally expanded slightly in size, making a small screeching sound in doing so.

"Cero no Yomi.", Kurokawa said ominously.

Back in a deadlock of claws and blades, Ikiryō felt the dense spiritual power that was emanating from below, understanding the situation, he turned to Tinieblas, whose intense anger stopped her from noticing Kurokawa's presence.

"Bunkatsu Genjitsu!", Kuragari shouted, he slashed upward, clashing with Tinieblas' nodachi, causing her to raise it high the air.

"Shōkyō Taihō!", he followed up with, he directed his attack to the Arrancar's torso, the resulting attack, while able to push her back, stunning her, left little indication of any damage.

"She's open Kuro! Get her!", Kuragari shouted, Tinieblas, partially recovered from the previous attack, finally noticed the Kidō Captain due to Ikiryō's yell, however, it was too late as he used shunpo to maneuver directly in front of her, his supercharged blade raised high.

"Izanagi no Hanketsu!"

Then it descended, swiftly breaking all resistance it met on its path. Drops of blood sprinkled in the air.

However, Tadayoshi noticed a blur coming rapidly toward his head, and dodged at the last possible moment. A small, vertical chip appeared on his Hollow mask as he landed a safe distance away.

"You... may put on those masks...", seethed Tinieblas, delivering him an ominous death stare.

There was a long vertical cut on her left cheek. The left forearm ended in a stub about halfway through. Lastly, the end of the wound marked her leg, tearing the material of her robe and revealing a small part of her muscular hip.

"You... may fire Cero...", she continued, her murky Reiatsu now undulating around her. "But you'll never be an Arrancar!"

An animalistic roar shook the entire area as her aura swelled, appearing as a flame-like tempest of blackness.

"Shit!", cursed Kuragari, rising his left hand.

An indigo Cero beam burst forth, nearly simultaneously with the Sōkatsui fired by Tadayoshi. Nevertheless, both attacks were nullified by Tinieblas' wild Reiatsu.

"Plunge down into the spiral of madness, Legión!", she yelled.

The darkness of her power exploded in all directions, prompting the two Shinigami Captains to retreat even farther.

"Here I thought a severe wound would prevent that", complained Ikiryō, standing beside Kurokawa.

"She looks a lot like us, but her powers are very different", stated the Kidō Chief.

Without a warning, numerous oblong shapes emerged from the storm of Tinieblas' Reiatsu. Caught off guard, Tadayoshi was swept away by one of them, but Kuragari evaded the abrupt strike. Still, a fraction of a second later he was struck by another black tentacle, and like his friend ended up colliding hard with the fractured pavement.

"I'll show you what a true Hollow's power is!", exclaimed Tinieblas, gaseous streaks of black swirling around her monstrous form.

Subsequently, she pointed the two sets of tentacles at a Captain each. Whilst the Shinigami were standing up and quickly preparing to react, bunches of jet black Bala blasts were forming at the tips of the tendrils.

Then, she launched the barrage.

Part 3

Meanwhile Odayakana Kurushimeru was dodging the incessant tag team attacks that Kana Enodoriko and Akimoto Miharu were dealing, he thought himself lucky that the Guardians of Hell were inactive, otherwise the first strike would have been his downfall.

"Enough!", he finally shouted, firing a burst of flame directed at Kana, however before it struck her, her Zanpakutō returned just in time, allowing her to block the attack.

In the brief break that was given Odayakana shot straight toward the now stunned Kana, however before he was able to attack, he was struck by a red ball of energy, which exploded on impact. Surprised, he spun to see the 5th Seat, shooting a wall of blue flame at him.

"Tch, looks like you have another use, and here I thought you could only become an air current.", Odayakana jeered, dodging the incoming Kidō, retreating a few metres in doing so.

"Kana-san, please defend me while I charge up an attack.", Akimoto asked, she sealed her Zanpakutō, sheathing it afterwards.

"Okay.", Kana replied, she turned to Odayakana who was waiting for them.

"Come on fleas, apart from that one surprise attack you haven't even touched me.", he shouted, however, his jeers didn't reach the two shinigami.

"Lets go!", Kana said sternly, she rushed toward Odayakana, trying to throw off the Togabito with her Shi no Senkai-ha while Akimoto began an incantation.

"Ye lord! Weep at the transgressions of your wretched creations!", Akimoto started, she raised both of her arms, with her hands outstretched.

"Another Kidō spell?", Odayakana mused, almost absent mindedly, blocking and countering Kana's barrage of attacks, "Out of the way!", he shouted, forcing Kana back.

"Let your sacred tears purify their sins and cleanse the world from the impure!", Akimoto continued on, one of her hands raising further, pointing to the sky.

"Not good!", Okayakana thought, to his shock, Kana had somehow pushed him back further than he had, his eyes widened almost comically.

"Did I mention?", Kana said while they were in their deadlock, both struggling over control, "I'm not so bad in the art of the sword!", she finished, finally pushing him back, following up with a horizontal slash, knocking Odayakana's sword out of his hands.

"Shit!", Odayakana shouted, facing Akimoto.

"Make ther evil dissolve into nothingness! Hadō #86, Shinsei Namida!", Akimoto shouted, directed her hands downward, as she did, a bright blue light appeared over Odayakana, looking up to his horror, he saw a massive bullet of light blue energy soaring down toward him at a blurring speed, he didn't have time to do anything before the spell forced him to the ground, creating a massive explosion that could be felt from back where it's castor was.

"That was amazing Akimoto-san!", Kana shouted happily over the still raging explosion.

"I'll have to thank Captain Mewokuramasu for personally teaching me that spell.", Akimoto replied, panting due to the vast amount of spiritual power exerted.

As the dust settled however, both of the shinigami found the silhouette of a single figure, the look on their faces turning from surprise to shock as Odayakana emerged from the cloud, the torso of his clothes was destroyed, showing his extremely burnt upper body, however his most shocking feature was the look of rage imprinted on his face.

"How dare you....how dare....you.", he was quietly muttering to himself.

"HOW DARE YOU MAGGOTS HUMILIATE ME, THE LORD OF HELL!", he screamed, his rage released his imposing spiritual pressure, which immediately caused Kana to buckle, while Akimoto, already weakened by her own use of Shinsei Namida, collapsed to her knees.

"HINOTAMA ONI!", he screamed, he raised both of his hands, as Kana watched in horror as the gigantic ball of fire started to form.

"Renkūdan!", he heard in response.

Suddenly, a large bullet of pressurised air passed by the two shocked female Shinigami and hit the forming fireball, dispersing it in a small, but violent explosion. Infuriated, Odayakana looked at the one who interrupted him, unable to speak a word due to the sheer anger.

"Great job, Enodoriko-san, Miharu-san", stated Lieutenant Norio Nishimura, holding his spear-like Shikai in an opening stance. "But Mizūmi-kun and I will be taking it from there."

"Aye", confirmed the Tenth Division Lieutenant, passing calmly by Kana.

"Good", seethed Kurushimeru at last. "The more come here the more I'll be able to SLAUGHTER!"

The Ninth Division Lieutenant, with a big bandage still wrapped around his chest, reacted immediately to the Togabito's yell. He instantly lifted his Zanpakutō over his head and began spinning it with great speed, stirring a miniature whirlwind.

"Teikiatsu!"

The whirlwind rose high and bent, targeted toward Odayakana. Somewhat surprised, the Togabito quickly shielded himself with his forearms as the powerful gust of wind struck him with full force, cracking the ground beneath his feet.

"Now, Mizūmi-kun!", shouted Nishimura to his colleague.

"Right.", Mizuumi confirmed, he got into an offensive stand and charged at Odayakana, who in response re-summoned his sword to block the impending strike, while successful, he buckled slightly before Ganjou's strength.

"Tch, pathetic.", Odayakana said, he broke free of the attack and performed a stabbing maneuver directed at Mizuumi, who promptly blocked the attack, reinforcing his defence with his arm.

"Don't disgrace yourself with those amateur moves Togabito-san.", Ganjou stated, he threw Odayakana off balance and made an upward slash, forcing Odayakana to jump back, however the move still created a small cut on the Togabito's chest.

"Tch, you're annoying me now!", Odayakana growled, yet before he could retaliate he saw Nishimura appear between Mizuumi and himself, his spear pointed at the Togabito.

"Renkūdan!", Norio shouted, a bullet of pressurised air hit Odayakana squarely in the chest, sending him flying a fair distance away into a still standing building.

"Nice move Nishimura-san, but keep your guard up, he will be back shortly.", Mizuumi stated formally

Nishimura nodded stiffly, his eyes fixed on the point where Odayakana landed, somewhat unexpectedly Kana appeared next to the two Lieutenant, her Zanpakutō was sheathed yet she still had a face of determination on her face.

"Are there any order assigned for us?", she asked, looking over her shoulder to a now standing Akimoto.

"None made by superiors, but you can help with giving medical support to the nearby Shinigami, the 4th Division is struggling due to the unexpected arrival of these guys.", Ganjou explained, point idly to the spot where Odayakana was.

"Understood.", Kana replied, she returned to Akimoto to tell her the news, before running off down one of the many alleys.

The two Lieutenant shared a look of determination before facing towards Odayakana who had approached them unnoticed.

"So it's just you two now? I'll make a note of hunting them two bitches down next.", he said, his voice had an air of madness in it.

Hearing enough, Mizuumi charged towards him while Nishimura created a gust of wind, pushing the togabito back slightly, distracting him while Ganjou attacked him furiously, transferring crushing blows down onto the worn Togabito.

"Enough!", Odayakana shouted, he covered his sword in flames and pushed Mizuumi back, releasing a vast amount of fine in doing so.

"Dammit, he doesn't give up.", Norio said, "Ganjou, release your Shikai, we can't fight him without going all out.", he continued, Ganjou's face stiffened slightly.

"Not yet, we can still do this without my Shikai.", he argued, however before they could continue in their talk Odayakana appeared between them.

"I'll force you to.", he said ominously, a wide grin etched on his face, he placed his hands on their heads, smashing the two off guard Shinigami together, stunning them.

The two Shinigami both directed their attacks toward the Togabito, with Ganjou casting Hadō #31, Shakkahō and Nishimura directing another Renkūdan, however, quite surprisingly, Kurushimeru repelled both attacks with one arm, only sustaining minor damage from both attacks.

"Ah, it seems you bastards warmed me up again.", Odayakana said quietly, his new found strength made Norio slightly anxious, while Mizuumi waited with baited breath.

"Let's see if you can handle the attack those other maggots fell to.", Odayakana shouted, his jeers echoing across the area. He raised his arms into the sky, his reiatsu pulsing out of the now forming fireball, causing both Mizuumi and Nishimura to clutch at their chests to help them breathe.

"The hell...?", Nishimura wheezed, Ganjou, while a little more composed, was singing the same tune, they watched as Odayakana charged his attack, looking at his almost maniacal smile form at the sight of the gigantic fireball.

"Hinotama Oni."

Part 4

They say you can fight fire with fire.

Two figures were locked in a deadly struggle, surrounded from all sides with a blazing inferno. For a long time the only sound audible apart from the roar of flames was the incessant clatter of the violently clashing blades; time after time.

"What's wrong, Captain-san?", jeered Tōru Yōshanai whilst parrying a wide slash. "Now that I've warmed up you ain't so scary anymore!"

He ducked under the follow-up and thrust forward, his blade raised diagonally. However, Tarō Kinzoku deflected that counter strike with his left blade. Immediately afterward the right one descended vertically on the crouching Togabito, ready to bisect him swiftly. Yōshanai evaded it thanks to Shunpo, but rather than retreat and gain some distance, he rushed back at the Third Division Captain.

"Your persistence is impressive, Captain-san, but you ain't gonna snuff me out easily!", he exclaimed, pushing his opponent with three lightning fast slashes.

Tarō blocked all of them. Then, he leapt forward, his wrist-mounted broadswords making a shearing motion toward Tōru's chest. The Togabito smirked as he jumped and landed on the two blades once they cut the air in the place he had been just standing a moment ago. Subsequently, he threw his body backward, kicking the shocked Captain in the chin with a smooth Kazaguruma.

Yōshanai somersaulted in mid-air and landed softly, ready to continue his assault. Nevertheless, Kinzoku had anticipated him, already recovered from the last strike. A powerful jab nearly swept his head away from his shoulders, blocked in the nick of time with an inconveniently lifted sword; the sparks struck as the two blades were scraping each other singed Tōru's face. Then, he widened his eyes, noticing the other triangular blade coming his way rapidly. Once again using his uncommon nimbleness he evaded the lethal manoeuvre, but not without paying the price; a long, not so shallow cut appeared on his right cheek.

Irritated, he smashed his Zanpakutō against one of the blades, pushing it to the side, and resumed a relentless onslaught of fast cuts. Rather than go on complete defensive, though, Tarō began squeezing a counter attack or two between each hit he protected himself from.

Seeing that, Yōshanai jumped backward, dodging a thrust that would have punched a hole in his chest. The moment he landed on the scorched ground he grasped the hilt of his sword with both hands and pointed it to the side.

"Fushichō no Tsubasa!", he yelled.

As he swept with his Zanpakutō, three columns of fire accumulated into one and burst forth rapidly, engulfing the Third Division Captain entirely. The crimson flames roared frighteningly.

Kinzoku emerged from the attack shortly afterward. His posture had not changed at all, but his uniform and skin were visibly singed. His haori had been long gone already, and his hair were burnt on the tips.

"Just how many strikes like that can you stand, Captain-san?", asked Tōru, slanting his head to the side. "I must admit, though, you're much more durable than that stiff soldier-guy", he added, grinning menacingly.

At first, Tarō seemed not to react to his words. He just stood there, breathing heavily, but rhythmically. Then, he abruptly lifted both of his hands.

"Hijiken", he declared sternly.

Two long, narrow and gently curved blades sprouted from his elbows.

"Oooh?", uttered Tōru, widening his eyes.

"Rendaken", replied Kinzoku whilst scraping the main blades against each other.

A volley of deadly sharp wedges shot forward without a warning. The Togabito leapt to the side, but one of the wedges cut his left arm. Just as he was about to land softly on the ground, the Captain charged at him mercilessly.

Yōshanai blocked a broad slash, but the blades bounced off of each other and the one emerging from Kinzoku's elbow quickly followed suit. Suddenly pressured, Tōru had to take a step backward. In the meantime, he had to defend himself from two incredibly fast strikes from the opposite direction, and then Kinzoku launched a true tempest of sword strikes. Both Tōru's hands and legs shaking under the might of the Captain, he found himself retreating each consecutive second, unable to even stall the relentless advance.

Then, desperation growing in him, he let out an animalistic roar.

"Senmaioroshi!"

His Zanpakutō blurred and virtually disappeared, striking countless times against the four blades wielded by Tarō. A peculiar whizz was emitted in the process, and both combatants were showered with sparks. All of a sudden, several cuts appeared on Yōshanai's limbs, one after another. The Togabito groaned; his assault rapidly interrupted, he took a few swaying steps backward.

"Curse you!", he seethed, clenching his teeth. "Curse you!"

He jumped backward, his Reiatsu enveloping him with wild fire. When he landed on the ground he lifted both of his hands and roared madly, the flames around him suddenly stirred up. Then, he glanced at the enemy Captain, who had been already approaching him with near-palpable killing intent.

"Tachiagari Fushichō!", screamed Tōru with inhuman fervour.

The crimson blaze erupted forward, immersing Kinzoku completely and taking him with it.

Part 5

The blinding light emitted in the wake of Ayumu Nakahara's Bankai started to weaken. However, the man was no longer at the spot he had stood moments ago.

Suddenly, there was a loud rumble and the ground shook perceptibly. A cloud of smoke rose rapidly toward the sky, the astounded Shinigami troopers standing still with their jaws dropping. They all uttered a protracted "ooh" once the Royal Guardsman emerged from the cloud, with no trace of the enemy in sight.

Enveloped by an electrified aura of navy blue Reiatsu, he was now clad in a light, artistically streamlined armour that covered his entire legs, but was reduced to merely a chest plate and elbow guards on the upper body. The force exerted by his spiritual pressure made the soldiers perspire and shake visibly.

"Hey lads, better go to another sector now", he said, smiling. "I'm gonna fight all out and I dun' wanna hurt ya by accident."

"Yes... Yes, Nakahara-sama!", replied the apparent leader of the squad with a springy bow. "You've heard him guys, let's go!"

Then, they retreated immediately. Ayumu had observed them for a little while before turning back to face Kerai Gozen again.

"Sorry for keepin' you waitin'", he stated and vanished.

Without a warning a swarm of flickering afterimages of the Royal Guardsman surrounded the giant Togabito with a flurry of jumps, dodges and feigned attacks. Ten, twenty, thirty of them, each one employing a different manoeuvre before disappearing, only to be replaced by the next copy.

Suddenly, one of them plunged at her with tremendous speed.

"Tobigeri!", he exclaimed.

She ignored him for much of the duration of his movements. Her eyes did not follow his pattern of motions, nor did her body react at any of the feints he pretended to strike with. Instead she took to removing her protruding bones from their appropriate limbs and with slight care, slotted the blade of each into the back of another, the blades somehow melding with the bone to force an attachment. All four had joined together by the end of it, a single blade on the end while the bones acted like the shaft of a polearm, though their combined length was still dwarfed by Kerai herself.

Each motion she had made, although slow and careful, had caused her already fragmented mask to break and crumble. Bits and pieces flowing off like dust until it had been entirely removed to reveal her clear face and its alabaster skin. She looked almost like a doll, to the point that some would call her beautiful if only before they saw how tightly her skin wrapped around her obvious muscles and skeletal structure. Her cyan eyes found themselves drawn to Ayumu when he broke from his illusions to attack, a single sweep from her spear drew enough of a shockwave that almost permanently impeded his advance, a wind so strong that moving forward had been impossible.

That same swing lodged her arm back behind her shoulder with a sickening snap, her other arm having crossed over to rip it back into place with a second.

Unlike the first time her mask saw damage the Togabito remained calm, her eyes regarded the Royal Guardsman not with a single minded desire to turn him into paste, but an obvious respect that appealed beyond petty words and self-depreciation.

"Shinigami, I have a request", she spoke clear and loud, while she still had his attention.

"I cannot surrender to you, I gave my word to fight for him, but I would ask that should you win, you do not send me back to Hell", it was a sincere request, devoid of pandering or pleading that so often went with a bid to escape a rough spot.

"I know why I suffer in that pit as I have for so long, but those that I wronged have moved on, reincarnated repeatedly in the cycle that I broke from", regret worked its way into the tone of her voice with each word spoken, though it quickly died out for the resolve that she had begun to show.

"Hell is a realm devoid of material possessions, and I have nothing to offer you other than the promise of my all", Her right arm moved over to her opposite shoulder, two fingers removed themselves from around her spear to tug at the cloth of her cloak before ripping it away from her body in its entirety, exposing her lengthy blackened hair, shaped like various tails that fluttered in the light wind around them. The red plates of her armour shone uncharacteristically, as if taking new life in the skies of the Soul Society. She drew into her stance whilst that blackened cloth flew towards the earth at a slight pace. Her left hand drew up in front of her, index and middle finger stretched out, ring and pinky tucked in, her knees pent and her legs stood apart, taking on a slight digitigrade stance. Her spear rested to the side, the back of it tucking underneath her arm.

She was ready.

A loud thunder reverberated throughout the darkened skies.

"Heeeh, you've put me in quite a troublesome situation, Unnamed-san", complained Nakahara, his eyes wide open. "Y'see, it's my duty to protect the Soul Society from the likes of you, so I'm really at a loss now."

He swiftly assumed a fighting stance.

"But that'll be a problem only if I defeat you, am I right?", he asked with a smirk.

He vanished the following instant, only to reappear beside her in mid-air, his leg folded backward in preparation for a strong kick.

Smiling inwardly to herself for a moment, Kerai reacted to the incoming motion like a mirrior, her own leg folded back and launched forward in sync with Ayumu's, meeting at a middle ground between the two. The air boomed with a concussive explosion, the sound of bone and flesh smashing against each other resounding through out. Neither foot had broken past the other.

"I apologize for the burden I've placed on you", she replied to him, swiftly following up her words with a punch aimed at the Royal Guardsman's head. The force behind it was obvious simply from the recline, muscles tensed to the extreme and the veins across her arm popped with such intensity that it appeared they were on the verge of bursting.

Nakahara widened his eyes in the instant preceding the hit connecting to his face. His head vanished, swept off the neck by the brute force of the punch.

As did his body.

"Wrong!", Kerai heard from behind.

Ayumu had been already charging fast at her back, spinning in the air in the Tatsumakigeri technique.

"Tch!", the punch flew threw the afterimage but continued reeling for far longer, leaving the large Togabito wide open, and incapable of responding to the oncoming attack with any kind of counter or defense. Instead she repeated the previous process that her arm had just went through only this time with the entirety of her body, tensing it up in order to assist with defense. All it took was a single thought before the veins across most of her body popped up from beneath her pale skin.

The kick impacted with her back and pushed her forward in spite of her attempts to root herself in place, the sound of bones being crushed were clear and it almost appeared as if a spot on her back had decompressed; it did little to stop her next move however. Her right foot shot up, appearing to kick an invisible wall before she spun on her axis to bring herself face-to-face with the Royal Guardsman, a well placed thrust of her spear appeared to shoot out from nowhere, previously hidden by the motions her body took to keep it from being seen.

The abrupt stab pierced the Royal Guardsman's body swiftly. He smiled and pointed his index finger upward before disappearing.

Then, Gozen felt something smash into the top of her head.

"Ryūsei no Kakō!", came a shout from above her within the same instant.

There was a brief flash of light before bolts of lightning struck in all directions. The explosion resulting from the electrically-empowered drop kick demolished the entire area with a powerful shockwave, punching a huge crater in the pavement and leveling many nearby buildings.

Ayumu retreated immediately with a backward somersault and landed softly on debris a considerable distance away from the epicentre, glancing at the vast cloud of dust.

A part of the cloud began to billow out and move forward at a considerable pace, whatever moved through the impenetrable cloud pulled the numerous dust particles with it, and the speed with which it flew towards Ayumu only kicked up more from the surrounding debris. But it wasn't Kerai.

Instead the hulking woman had somehow already gotten back into the fight, having appeared from almost nowhere, she stood behind Ayumu on a smaller branch of broken and edges rocks which remained at an odd balance beneath her feet. Her height more than making up the difference between either bit of debris, it did little to halt her powerful and tightening grip on the man. Her powerful arms wrapped around his chest and tightened in as hard as they could as if to squeeze the life out of his lungs.

Though she moved as if she had been unfazed by the powerful attack, her body itself told a different tale, with patches of skin burning and sizzling visibly, parts had even melted off giving a clear view of her muscles as they continually tensed and went to work.

"I would have loved to study under one such as you", she spoke, her voice somewhat raspy and shaken after the previous attack. "That movement technique of yours is a wonder to behold", she complimented.

In the distance, breaking free of the dust cloud at last was the spear of bone that she wielded, its white form gleamed, unmarred by the explosions or the dust it kicked up, worst of all, its blade remained honed and sharp, flying directly at the Royal Guardsman within Kerai's clutches.

Despite being stiff due to his efforts to withstand Gozen's crushing embrace, there was an unmistakeable expression of grief on Nakahara's face as the spear-like projectile was rapidly approaching him.

"Raikiri", he whispered solemnly.

Within the instants preceding the strike, his wild, electrified aura suddenly receded, becoming a gleaming, humming outline of navy blue. Just as the spear of bone was about to reach him, his leg bolted upward and smashed it into pieces in an impromptu Kazaguruma manoeuvre. Then, he flexed his muscles and tore himself out of the Togabito's clutches with seemingly little resistance, the condensed layer of his lightning-imbued Reiatsu virtually burning through her flesh. The second he freed himself he vanished with the faint sound of Shunpo and reappeared approximately thirty metres in front of Kerai, facing her.

For the first time since his arrival in Soul Society, his trademark smile had completely disappeared from his face.

As he was taking heavy, nearly asthmatic breaths, his ribs fractured and puncturing his chest with needles of pain, he at last acknowledged what he had to do. The unnamed Togabito woman was far too strong to be let free. He was never a merciless or cruel man, but his devotion to the Soul Society and its inhabitants, and his will to protect them at all costs outweighed the genuine pity he felt toward that damned Soul. He had to fulfil his duty.

If for a little while, he had to become the Instant Death again.

"Ichigeri Hissatsu."

Suddenly, he was a considerable distance away, carving a long ditch in the scorched earth of the battlefield before finally losing his impetus; his lightning aura had been gone. He straightened up and glanced back at his opponent.

There was a large hole in her chest, the other side of the battlefield easily seen through the instantly cauterised wound. Small sparks were still bursting here and there in the wake of his attack.

"I'm sorry, Unnamed-san", he said in a sombre manner. "Could you tell me your name now?", he asked after a short pause.

She'd had little time to process the events in the wake up the gaping hole that ran clean through her upper body. Her form held together remarkably well in spite of the loss of rather critical parts of her body's structure. She let a long sigh leave her lungs, almost filled to the brim with relief as if the feelings contained within the hot air could be as easily felt as the Sun's rays on skin.

Her head slowly raised to face the clouds above, her ears ignored the guttural burst and eery cracks that were made as her missing body parts quickly started to regenerate. New skin burst through the old cauterized wounds and new bone formed over the blunted melted edges of the previous. They did not regenerate perfectly however. Instead the new flesh broke in to the empty cavity in specific places, forming a cluster in the vacant spice as a shell of bone formed around it like a carapace, altogether it looked like a mangled piece of work that was formed half consciously.

The woman had begun to feel the touch of rain on her face, the scent of various flowers filling her nose, a vibrant slew of colours were envisioned behind her closed eyes. She elicited a second breath to the wind before returning her sight to reality.

"I am... Kerai Gozen", her voice contained a sense of finality to it that was palpable, it wasn't a cold feeling but not an altogether warm one either. The life drained from her eyes whilst her outer skin began to flake off into a million pieces that resembled ashes. She moved one last time.

Appearing before the injured Guardsman with speed to rival his own, she had drawn into a stance and flung a punch that had been impossible to react to. That very same strike stopped only a hair's breadth from the man's face. Behind him a monsterous shockwave rippled through out the area, eradicating the debris around him and sending other chunks flying off. But he remained untouched somehow.

Kerai's body blackened, limb after limb turned dark before bursting into ash fragments that scattered around in a pattern akin to the fall of snowflakes.

"It seems, even at the end, I could not land a proper blow", she smiled at that fact with a brightness that almost dared the Royal Guard to do the same, but before he could do anything the last of her form turned to ash.

Nakahara fixed his gaze at the place she had been just moments ago, sorrowful. Then, he smiled faintly in a rather unhappy manner; a streak of blood flowed from the corner of his lips.

"You did", he said, wiping the blood with the back of his palm. "Kerai Gozen-dono."

Part 6

"Hikari... Maebure...", gasped Captain Haruka Mewokuramasu.

"I'm sure you have many questions you'd like to ask", replied the aforementioned man casually. "I'll answer them in due time."

"Captain!", exclaimed Lieutenant Daiki Ueno suddenly. "Is he... is he the one who killed my Grandfather?"

"You mean the Tenth Division Captain I fought ten years ago?", interrupted Hikari. "If that's the case, the answer is yes."

"Ueno-kun, please...", started Mewokuramasu, seeing her subordinate's face expression change.

"Lash, Jinrai!", he yelled with fervour.

His Reiatsu surged, and the blade of his Zanpakutō was enveloped with blue-grey aura. Then, a single bolt of electricity travelled the length of the blade which shone brightly and lost its rigidity. Within a single second it elongated substantially, forming a crackling energy whip.

Maebure observed with mild interest as the Lieutenant plunged at him and lashed the whip. In spite of its ferocity, the strike merely bounced off some invisible barrier surrounding the Sōzōshin. Undeterred, Daiki followed with several further attacks, each time lashing the energised tail against the shield, to no avail.

"Ueno-kun!", exclaimed Haruka as she tried to grab his arm.

Much to her surprise, the young Shinigami evaded her hand and pulled his whip, rising its tail vertically. A sudden surge of electricity lighted the entire area.

"Rakurai!", he shouted.

Afterward, he lashed with the whip one more time. However, rather than a simple, if electrokinetically enhanced physical strike, he unleashed a powerful bolt of lightning that struck Hikari almost immediately. The ground shook in its foundations as the explosion shattered all nearby windows with its roar. Mewokuramasu glanced at Daiki, her mouth slightly open in deep shock.

A large column of smoke rose toward the sky, debris still falling to the ground. Ueno stood slanted, panting heavily.

Without a warning numerous black, rusted and oily chains burst forth from the dust, instantly constraining both Shinigami officers before they were able to react.

"Impressive", remarked Maebure as he emerged from the cloud unscathed and started walking toward them. "But you're so very young... You've still got much to learn, boy, but you have potential."

"Curse you!", replied Daiki, struggling fruitlessly with the warped version of Sajō Sabaku.

Hikari waved with his hand, promptly enclosing him in a semi-translucent Kidō barrier, completely dampening the Lieutenant's next words.

"It'll disappear on its own in about five minutes", he stated, glancing at him briefly before turning to Haruka.

"Why... How did you come here?", she asked, distressed.

"I'll explain everything on the way", he replied.

Then, he formed another Kidō cage around her and lifted the bound Captain. As he began pacing forward, the barrier was hovering slightly behind him.

"You see, my experiences from ten years ago had a profound impact on me", he started. "Both my confrontation with the Gotei 13, and the futile struggle against the Soul Prince."

"The Soul Prince?", whispered Haruka, dumbfounded.

"Indeed. I used to think I had reached the ultimate pinnacle of power, yet I was proven dead wrong two times. For a while I was utterly devastated", he continued, looking around in a nonchalant manner. "But, once in Hell, my Zanpakutō conviced me to persist. And so I did.

When damned Souls come to Hell, they are turned into Togabito. They keep most, if not all of their previous powers, so that they may attempt to defend themselves against the relentless Kushanāda. Most of them fail miserably, and their will is repeatedly broken until they drown in absolute despair. Select few prevail.

When you're in Hell, the darkest aspects of your soul awake. How foolish I was not to realise how long I'd been being affected by my inner darkness... Subtly influencing my actions and thoughts, it had been warping me for centuries, if not millennia. And as I finally realised its existence, it was truly powerful, and I had little choice but to succumb to it completely. However, surrendering isn't in my nature, so I'd managed to overpower it and subsequently fed it to my Zanpakutō spirit, changing it drastically.

I changed as well. Unwilling to wield the blade that had been by my side for countless battles any longer, I cast it away and formed a new one from my own Reishi. Then, I forged its blade in the fires of Hell itself. Once I poured my spiritual power into it, my transformation was complete, and a new power was born. I unchained my shackles. I reforged my body, mind and soul, and became something new... I've become a Tsumikami."

Either too scared or too curious to interrupt him, Haruka had remained silent, observing him from her temporary confines. When Hikari paused, however, she at last brought herself to ask him something.

"Have you staged this invasion?"

Maebure looked at her briefly with a smirk.

"No, that was Usuguraiboshi-kun's idea. I'm merely an ally. While I now have other priorities than either conquering or destroying the Soul Society, I don't mind someone else doing that."

"You still have not answered my previous question", remarked Mewokuramasu, gradually regaining composure.

"Ah, yes, I apologise. You see, that bunch in Hell is either untalkative, or overly loquacious and insane... I've been missing an opportunity to talk with someone normal, particularly considering that you're my closest living relative. Anyway, why: I'd like to test something, and how: I've learnt many new things while in Hell, and one of them was a technique to escape from it."

He paused and smiled absent-mindedly. There was something unnerving to that face expression.

"One could say that I've saved those Sinners from eternal damnation", he mused, looking into a distance. "By breaking their chains they're no longer bound to Hell. However", he continued, slightly narrowing his eyes, "that is, in a way, a double-edged sword. They're once again a part of the circulation of Souls. If they die, they won't go back to Hell, but their powers, memories and identities will be completely erased, and they'll be reborn as blank slates in the World of the Living."

Haruka shook her head slowly.

"Whatever your goal is, you will not succeed this time either. The Royal Guard is here, and they will confront you."

"I hope they will", replied Hikari, still smiling. "I think here's okay", he added after a short pause.

Afterward, he halted in the middle of a wide alley, his caged descendant levitating behind him. He looked around and nodded.

"Seems everyone is pretty busy. I suppose I should release my Reiatsu to gain a bit of attention", he said, stroking his chin.

His surroundings darkened. Haruka lifted her hands to her head as she was momentarily defeaned; within a fraction of a second the pavement under Maebure's feet cracked, and a powerful shockwave swept the entire area, shattering windows and demolishing nearby buildings. The Kidō cage shielded her from those adverse effects, but the sheer magnitude of his Reiatsu was still suffocating.

"Oops", commented Hikari. "Well, at least they can't possibly overlook that."

Subsequently, he folded his arms across his chest and breathed slowly, waiting. After several seconds he raised one eyebrow.

"Come out of hiding", he barked in seemingly no particular direction.

However, soon afterward two feminine figures materialised relatively nearby. Mewokuramasu instantly recognised both of them: Duo Wen Tian and Kimiko Kōtaku have come to her rescue.

Wen Tian had been latched to Kimiko's back the entire time, her fingers gripped onto her shoulder and her toes somehow clung to her waist, like an oversize koala that didn't know how to shut up. It was a harmless thing if annoying, she didn't appear to weigh anything at all, there was very little change in presence when she vanished from her fellow Royal Guard's back to stand above the gilded cage of energy trapping Haruka.

"Heeee~ So this kind of makes you a damsel in distress, huh?", playfully she took to performing a handstand in the air, entirely ignoring the figure not far from the cage that had amassed the spiritual pressure enough to attract their attention amongst the chaos engulfing the Seireitei. "We're kind of like heroic knights then, right?", puzzling over the though she moved again, taking up a position at Kimiko's side, a look of teary-eyed despair on her face. "We're not dressed up properly Mi-chan, we gotta do it over!", she exclaimed.

"It's okay, Duo", replied Kōtaku, visibly undisturbed by her fellow Guard's antics. "We'll change after we'll have dealt with that old fart right there."

For a while Maebure's face expressed near comical bewilderment, but he quickly regained a more composed demeanour.

"That's a rude thing to say, Kimiko Kōtaku-kun", he replied eventually, his stare fixed at Wen Tian. "Rude and bold."

"Release Captain Mewokuramasu, or I'll tear off your face with my bare hands", retorted Kimiko, her voice seemingly calm, but with some tense vibe to it.

Hikari shook his head slowly.

"I've no intention of causing her any harm. She's my great-granddaughter, after all", he stated.

The cage holding Haruka inside floated toward the two members of the Royal Guard slowly, and then landed softly on the ground. The rusty chains constraining the Captain vanished, yet the semi-translucent prism of energy remained.

"That barrier will dissolve in half a minute", revealed Maebure, glancing briefly at his descendant. "Take care, Haruka Mewokuramasu-san. I hope we'll meet again in more comfortable circumstances."

Before she was able to respond, he had looked back at the other two Shinigami present.

"Kūkanten'i", he said, a faint green aura enveloping him and the Royal Guardsmen.

Suddenly, the scenery had changed completely, the alley and nearby buildings replaced by a vast, windy wasteland, with multiple rock formations of various size and shape scattered across it.

"I believe this place will be more suitable for our confrontation. After all, fighting within the Seireitei would mean the doom of the entire city", he stated in an ominous tone.

Wen Tian was darting around from place-to-place, a look of wonder and amusement on her face whilst she examined all manner of rock face and lifeless, scarred earth. She was the type that could find enjoyment in almost anything, though often to the exclusion of all else.

A sigh was elicited that all present could hear but not identify, a voice that belonged to none of those currently visible on the field. "Focus, please", that same voice spoke out.

In that same instant Wen Tian had been moving along to examine what looked like a rock in the shape of Katashi, at least to Wen Tian. But she immediately shifted her weight in a new direction with surprising momentum behind her, manifesting behind Hikari with a motion towards making a palm strike. It hit the man for sure, but it appeared to have done less than nothing.

Unperturbed by this, Wen Tian made yet another use of Shunpo to return to Kimiko's side. A series of markings had appeared on her skin to signify some sort of change, though what was anyone's guess. "I got 'im!", she declared. In between both women, a third being appeared, a man that resembled Wen Tian to a T, with the obvious exceptions that came with a differing gender.

"Its nice to see you again Kimiko-taichō", said the figure.

"Yeah", replied Kōtaku with a nod directed at the man.

"It seems proper etiquette's died out since my own demise", commented Hikari, still standing unfazed with his arms folded across his chest. "I'm Hikari Daikōki Maebure, the last Head of House Maebure, feared as "the Black Sun". I already know Kimiko Kōtaku-kun, but I don't know you", he said whilst glancing at the diminutive Royal Guardsman and her opposite-gender twin.

Wen Tian was quick to fall back into ignoring Hikari, her hand dancing around in the air to the motions of a nearby dust trail caught in the wind. The male figure took one look at her with little reaction to what she'd went off to do before turning his gaze on the man before them.

"She is Duo Wen Tian, some seem to think she's a goddess of good fortune", his tone was serious though laced with a hint of distaste on the latter part. "I am Chigusari, her Zanpakutō", he continued, this time with obvious pride.

Maebure had observed Wen Tian with an eyebrow raised, but turned to the manifested spirit of her sword once he spoke to him.

"Intriguing", he mused. "Your master appears to be a frolicsome sort. I'm in a good mood, so what do you say that we play a little game?"

Without waiting for a potential response he abruptly relocated himself some twenty metres farther from the Royal Guardsman and the Zanpakutō spirit.

"Game one: make me draw my sword", he stated in a raised voice, smiling ominously.

Suddenly, a swirl of smoky Reiatsu enveloped him, stirring a strong gust of wind. The black-and-scarlet aura began rising in a form of contained whirlwind, but after reaching the height of about six metres it stopped and proceeded to expand above Hikari's head. Within a matter of seconds it gained discernible shape, forming a broad-shouldered torso and two long arms with slender fingers. Single scarlet eye shone from the face with nebulous features, and a pair of spreading, skeletal wings sprouted from the shadowy being's back.

"By the way", said Maebure, his head slanted to one side. "This is my Karadawaru spirit."

"Jamansim."

End of Chapter
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