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Diosa Arc: Looming Shadows is an article created by Achrones150. Use is allowed with the permission of the owner, with the exception of collaboration-created articles.

This article, Diosa Arc: Looming Shadows is the property of Darkrai.
It may not be used by anyone but the author or the co-author's in question.

A white haired Arrancar woman appeared in a flash of white light, right in front of an injured Arrancar easily recognizable as Grimmjow. She sighed. "You let yourself get too worked up in that battle against Nnoitra Gilga and this is what happens to you. You wind up injured and back here." She sighed and began rummaging through cupboards. "A little quiet aren't you? Did getting your ass handed to you finally humble you a bit?"

"Shut your mouth." Grimmjow snapped back, regaining his ability to speak as she spoke those words.

"Nice to see you aren't dead to me." She replied, chuckling. It wouldn't take long to drop you off in Hell, should you ever become useless."

Grimmjow was about to rise, but the impact of her spiritual pressure forced him back down, just like Aizen's had years ago. "Just stay still, and we can get those wounds of yours treated." She uncorked a bottle in her hand and kneeled down next to Grimmjow, pouring drops of it over the wounds Nnoitra had caused him. Steam began to rise, and sever as his wounds we, they had begun healing, the skin stitching itself over. Diosa got up, returning the bottle to it's shelf, and sat down in what appeared to be a rolling chair. Getting a better view of the location she was in, it great resembled the Los Noches castle.

She cleared her throat. "I know you're there."

"I was hoping you would."

A deep male voice, sounding a bit older than Diosa herself, sounded from one of the nearest walls. Following that statement, there was a bit of rumbling in that wall, the material cracking and shaking. It wasn't long, however, until it finally managed to give in, and the rock crumbled to reveal a man-sized tunnel. When the rocks were pushed aside, a figure climbed through and jumped down to their level, straightening himself up and dusting himself off.

It was a man in his early thirties, with a shaven head and a composure which could only be described as "monk"ish. In fact, he was wearing a robe of some sorts to go with his countenance - a white robing topped with a decorated vest piece. Small and round-lens glasses were fixated on his face, seemingly stuck there. He had his arms folded within his sleeves, a rather polite expression on his face. "After all, seeing as if it was your kind here, I didn't see the need to hide my spiritual energy...."

She looked at the wall. "Couldn't you have gotten in here some other way? I don't believe they have the type of people who can fix a hole like that here in Hueco Mundo."

It was here that the man unfolded his hands.

They were both coated in crimson liquid, fresh to the top. Behind him lay several corpses of the Adjuchas kind, creating a trail that led back down the tunnel. He closed his eyes and thought about it. "Ah, but if went any other way, I would've missed the chance to hone myself. After all, the kind of lawless area Hueco Mundo provides allows one to enhance their survival skills for when the time is necessary." He explained, raising one finger to push up his glasses. Slowly, he began to make his way to approach the two - or, more preferably Diosa.

"Secondly, does it really matter where I come through this place? It's prone to falling apart anyway, what with the neglect and all...."

"Which is why I'd prefer that you not damage it anymore. But I see your point." She sighed. "Moving on to other matters, I believe it is time. He's beginning to grow impatient, and I believe we should carry out his orders."

The man stopped right in front of her, directing his glance to Grimmjow. "Do you not know by now?" He asked chidingly. "There is no pleasing of people of that type. If he is to expect perfection, he must know it has to be planned and executed. There is no working your way around that, unless you wish for total disaster...." Throughout this, a rather tired look was on his face. "But, alas, first thing's first. What are these "orders"?"

She walked over to what appeared to be a monitor. Despite the fact that the place was indeed breaking down, the monitor seemed to work just fine. She pressed a button, and an image popped up on screen. It was showing Ahatake, back during his first battle with Ryūka. She clicked the button several more times, and it shifted through video feed of the entire Kurosaki family. "His orders were actually quite simple. His goal is to return to the Soul Society eventually, to prove his point. However, he'd like as little resistance as possible. The Gotei 13 he says he can handle on his own. However..." She gestured to the flitting clips of the Kurosaki family. "This lot he says he would like us to take care of." She pressed the button a few more times, and images of Tereya, Kyūi, Taiki, and Akiko appeared, lined in a row. "These four, while part of the family, are of no concern to us, as they do not appear to be near the Soul Society enough to cause a threat. The same applies.." Images of Kaemon and Asami Kurosaki "..to these two." She pressed another button and the monitor shut off. "The handle the amount of people that family has to offer, I resurrected a few select individuals for them to face, as well as healing this fool from the brink of death twice. I believe we are ready now."

"And, is there anything specific about these.... individuals.... that we need to know about?"

"Ahatake Kurosaki." The monitor switched back on and his image appeared on the screen, followed by of the family. Diosa would point to each of these in turn. "Is a Hanyō, as well as a Visored. He is possibly the most powerful that remains in the group. Fortunately, or at least from what has been relayed to me, his demonic powers are not yet under his control." She gestured to another image. "Megami Kurosaki. The wife. To be perfectly honest, we haven't much information on her, but we do know that her Zanpakutō is a constant-release water-type." She rapped the screen again, pointing to an image of Aoi. "This girl is the granddaughter. She is a mixed-breed of Hollow and Shinigami, and her Zanpakutō controls both poison and the dead. Fortunately, she has recently been a little shaken up due to the kidnapping of her sister. That will prove to be an asset. Then young girl here. She is the newest addition to the family, Ahatake Kurosaki's youngest daughter. Her Zanpakutō is one you will have to watch out for. It can literally become any weapon for any situation, and there is no known weakness at this time. Then." She pointed at a picture of Adela. "The mother of the granddaughter. Like us, she is an Arrancar. Finally," She gestured to a picture of Midoriko Kurosaki. "The eldest daughter. She is not much to be concerned about, as she is rarely around her family anyway, but for the sake of caution, I will include her in this. Her Zanpakutō controls emotions, from calming one down to spiking ones anger. Like her father, she is also a Visored, and can call on her Hollow powers at any time she pleases."

It would take further thinking in order to decide who went first. However, this would not be an impossible task; they did not have to follow the rules of combat and honor, after all. Killing them off one by one, starting with the one would prove to be the most troublesome, was his own personal way of going into it. "In any case, we should deal with the one that would be the "link" to the family. Taking that one, or few out would cause the rest to fall apart, making them much easier to handle. The resistance would be effectively destroyed, and killing them all would only be an option." He advised, folding his arms within his sleeves once again. One eye was open and one was closed in an expression of deviant thinking, and he had a wiry smile on his face.

"In that case, it seems we start by picking off Ahatake and Megami." She switched the monitor off.

"Oh, and...." This was when a frown came over the man's face, and he eyed her warily. "One more thing."

"What is it?" She asked, her one eye turning towards him.

A palm slapped on his face. "Do find the time to change out of that shirt!" He complained, an expression to match his tone. "A young lady like you shouldn't walk around like a prostitute!" He was, of course, referring to the ridiculous width that Diosa had her shirt opened, making it only enough to cover the outer halves of her breasts. Personally, if he were to walk with her as such, he himself would be embarrassed.... it was unmodest! Unladylike!

Diosa sweatdropped. "Shikaku, we've been over this. I'm a Hollow. How I dress shouldn't matter. I've seen humans dress worse than this." She sighed. He was always like this.

Needless to say, the man addressed as "Shikaku" was appalled. "Have you no shame, woman!" He exclaimed, putting his hands up in an expression of his dumbfounded nature. "I understand that you can handle yourself, but I detest having to deal with others staring at you as we walk by, it-it's unnerving, to say the least. The last thing I want is someone...." He let out an annoyed sigh, once again slapping his own face. "Putting their hands on you in an inappropriate manner."

If they were human, he would clearly be her father.

"Stop overreacting, you'll give yourself a heart attack." She sighed, turning her attention to the monitor once more.


Mother-to-Daughter[]

...It was a scene befitting of the beginning of a horror movie. The Kurosaki mansion was surrounded by dark clouds, while the rest of the Yurei Ōkoku seemed perfectly normal. Lightning flashed occasionally, and the only thing missing was screams, and the mansion itself falling apart. Inside the house, the atmosphere was very dull. Aoi was nowhere to be seen, and Miharu was sitting at a table, lost in her thoughts. Her mother and father were somewhere else in the building.

It seemed Miharu was the cause of this bad weather, and it was up to her mother to save the day.

Or, considering the time of day, night.

Megami was just coming downstairs, having decided to fall asleep for the night. However, the sound of lightning and thunder had awoken her. Now, one would normally take it to just natural causes and fall asleep again. However, her motherly instincts were telling her that it was Miharu's doing. So, being the mother she was, she decided to take a look for herself. Gently, she treaded down the stairs and approached the table where Miharu was sitting. "Mi-chan....." She remarked softly, giving a soft smile. "You're going to confuse the newscasters if you keep this up."

Miharu looked up. "Sorry." She said, looking out the window at the sky. "It's not really something I have complete control over yet. It fluctuates with my emotions."

"So, right now.... you're troubled." Megami concluded, pulling up a chair for herself to sit in. "Is this about Taiki and Kyuui?" She wanted to make sure she was on the right track. It was the immediate thing that came to everyone's minds, but she just wanted to make sure it was that very fact and not something else that Miharu was thinking about.

Miharu nodded and sighed. "I was the one fighting him. I should have been able to do something..." She closed her eyes for a moment. "I kept playing around...when I use my Zanpakutō I love to test just what it can do, and that's exactly what I was doing against Onī-chan. And even with my elemental powers, I couldn't stop him..." Lightning flashed and rain began to pour.

"I know you tried your best...." Megami said, reaching over to place her hand on Miharu's shoulder. "But, this was someone even your father had trouble with. You just weren't ready against that kind of adversary." Mentally, she scolded Ahatake as well as herself for allowing Miharu to fight Taiki. It would've been better for someone stronger to do so, but.... what had they been thinking, then?

"I know...but I could have thought something up. My Zanpakutō is supposed to be able to do anything. Yet it's limited. It can't affect my body at all." She gripped the blade tightly. "If I could have used it like that, I could have strengthened myself, and maybe I would have had a chance."

"Listen to yourself...." Megami insisted. "Maybe. Could have. There was nothing that ensured that it would happen. It wasn't your fault, none of it was...." She got up from her seat in order to lean towards Miharu, embracing the young girl in a hug. "So don't blame yourself. There will always be a next time for everything, right? We're going to save your brother." Her words spoke with assurance.... but inside, she herself was doubting it. He had stabbed and killed his own daughter! How was that justifiable? It wasn't!

The embrace began to settle the emotions Miharu was feeling, and she smiled. "You're right." She said, gripping her blade even tighter. "There will be a next time. And I'll try harder." She said this with absolute confidence, completely oblivious to her mother's thoughts.

This caused Megami to smile. "I'm glad to hear it. Now...." Releasing Miharu, she stretched a bit. "Mommy needs to get some rest, because she is sleeeeeepeeeeee.....!!!" This was emphasized by a tired yawn. It was quite a humorous thing to see, if one overlooked the clouds. "Try not to worry yourself, all right, dear....?" With that, she folded her hands behind her head and walked away, back in the direction of the stairs.

Miharu smiled and she yawned as well. The clouds began to clear as she walked up to her room, her Zanpakutō still gripped tight in her hand. She collapsed onto her bed and fell asleep instantly.

Megami winced at the tug, but allowed herself to be pulled anyway. "All right, all right! Don't be so hard on me, I'm getting old, after all!" She remarked, chuckling a little at the joke made towards herself.

Bad Omens. Oh Joy.[]

And she awoke to the smell of turkey bacon being cooked downstairs. She got up, yawned, and took in the wonderful scent of food before changing into a new outfit and hanging her Zanpakutō at her waist. She walked out and her room, and slid down the stair railing, landing neatly in the kitchen.

There wasn't anyone inside of course. However, there was the smell of food coming from the dining room table, followed by a bit of chatter. That was where everyone had resided for the morning, at least until they had finished with the contents on their plates.

Miharu rushed into the kitchen to see everyone eating and slumped into a chair. "You guys started without me?" She whined. "Is there even any left?!"

"Your plate's right in front of you dear, I made sure to save you some...."

In front of her were the common breakfast meals: miso soup in a bowl, and a plate of steamed rice. Scattered amongst the table were various side dishes: broiled/grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), onsen tamago, tsukemono pickles, seasoned nori (dried seaweed), and natto. It was very apparent that Megami had chosen the traditional route for consumption.

Miharu's eyes lit up slightly as she reached for her chopsticks.

"Itadakimasu!" She said happily, before she began eating.

It was good to see the child happily feasting.

Megami slowly shifted her gaze from Miharu to the rest of the table as she ate. It seemed that, at least for the moment, the incident with Taiki and Kyuui had been forgotten. Everyone was back to their old selves again, if only for a short while. It would be disappointing to see it disappear, but such was the circumstances, weren't they? Of course, being nice, she wasn't going to spoil their mood by bringing it up. Instead, she continued to eat and let them carry on.

"So, what's gonna happen today?" Miharu asked, eagerly swallowing soup. "Ezra's busy, so I really don't have anything planned for myself."

Ahatake sighed. "I, unfortunately, have a job to get to after this. Guess it's for the best, otherwise that suit won't get much use."

"Aoi....?"

Megami was a little hesitant to address the lone girl, as she was possibly the most torn. But, she didn't want to be put off as completely ignoring and shunning the girl because of how she felt. "What about you? What do you plan on doing?" She asked questioningly. If anything, she probably would take the girl someplace just to brighten up her mood later on in the day.

Aoi looked up from her meal, swallowing slowly. "I'm not really sure. I'm probably just going to take a walk." She resumed her eating.

"Hmm..... I don't think I'm up for anything, either. Would it be OK if I came along with you?"

"Alright." Was the simple reply.

Miharu was nearly done with her meal, which caused Ahatake to laugh. One of the many things she inherited from him. A decent appetite.

Without having to look up from her own plate, Megami spoke to her. "Don't eat so fast, you'll get sick!" Her chiding tone came, slightly scolding.

Miharu laughed, and slowed down her eating. "Sorry Kā-chan. You're foods just too good."

Ahatake laughed again. "Kid's got a point."

"That may be...." As she had begun much earlier, Megami was able to finish and set her fork down, standing up to take her utensils back to the kitchen. "But that doesn't mean she's going to get sick over it."

Aoi set down her utensils and picked up her plates, following her grandmother into the kicthen. She set her dishes on the sink and threw out anything unneeded. "I'm ready to leave when you are."

"Ready." Megami gave a warm smile to the girl as well as a nod to emphasize.

Aoi waved to her grandfather and niece, before she walked out of the house, Megami accompanying her. As she walked, she looked around blankly, as if hoping Kyūi would appear out of nowhere.

It was a depressing scene.

Even the route they seemed to take didn't do any good. All of the laughter and positive exchange of the citizens around them didn't seem to phase Aoi's regressive mood at all. This caused a frown to come over Megami's face, signaling her disappointment. In order to cover it up, she quickly replaced it with a smile and squinted eyes. "You're looking awfully hard for something...." She commented lightly.

Aoi looked up at her. "Yeah." She sighed. "I guess...I guess I'm hoping that Kyūi will turn up... I know it's not possible, I saw Tō-san kill her...but something tells me she's alive. Maybe it's that "psychic bond" they say twins have."

"Then why do you seem so down about it....?" Megami asked softly. "If you think she's alive, then you should hold on to that."

"I know. But she's with Tō-chan, and only God knows what's happening to her." She sighed. "I really should have gone back when I had thought about it." She said, remembering the battle from weeks ago. "I told you I wanted to go back and help her out. But you told me not to..."

This caused Megami to flinch inwardly at the indirect accusation. The guilt caused her to remain silent, a rather solemn expression on her face as she listened. That was starting to be the biggest decision she ever regretted - not sending in help. "I know you wanted to help, but there was no way to be sure that you would make a difference. You would've simply been in danger of getting yourself killed by him."

"I know, but I could have at least felt like I was doing something. Now I feel like I didn't even bother." She closed her eyes for a moment, breathing in slowly. "I've never hated my own powerlessness more in my own life."

"If there's a chance she's alive, then we will take it...." Megami said, stopping for a moment to stoop down to Aoi's level. "The Kurosaki never abandons one of their own. You understand that, right?"

Aoi smiled. "Of course. And I'm going to show Tō-san hell like he can't imagine." She said, gripping the Zanpakutō at her waist, her spiritual pressure spiking.

"Easy, easy!!!"

Megami immediately and instinctively warned her, as the sudden spike was startling people nearby. "Keep the excitement to a minimum. The last thing we need is for ourselves to be a scene of attraction...." She whispered scoldingly.

"Sorry, I just wanna get Kyūi back." Aoi replied, stopping the rise of her energy. "And sorry if it sounded like I was blaming you earlier."

"I know...."

With this statement, Megami put her hand on the girl's shoulder comfortingly, continuing to pace with her as they continued to walk. Relief swelled up within her - at least the girl wasn't so sad-looking anymore. Even if it was a lie.... that Kyuui was truly dead.... it was the only shred of hope that she could cling to, one piece of motivation.... and as long as that existed, she would keep pursuing it. They all would.

"So, where should we head to?" She asked, yawning slightly. She had not slept much the night before.

"Wherever you want to...." Megami answered, placing her hands behind her head and shrugging. "We can go visit one of the malls, stop by the one of the food stands.... or, we could just simply keep walking around and taking a look around the city like this."

"I like the sound of the latter option." Aoi replied, looking around. "It's peaceful out here, which is only to be expected since no one really remembers what happened to them with that spell. I wonder thought. Didn't that spell have good intentions?"

"It did."

Megami's eyes drifted towards the bustle of the city folk. "But, it wasn't of good action. Violence, corruption.... it didn't get purged out. It was just simply ignored. If I took my sword down and cut down someone in cold blood, no one would even bat an eyelash towards me. If one had fallen down, severely injured and needing of assistance, I doubt anyone would've come to their aid. It was of good intention.... but it was nothing but a blindfold, a prison."

"I see." Aoi replied, thinking for a minute.. "If they ever "work the bugs out of it", I kind of hope they'll come back and try again. A world without evil sounds promising, even if a little boring."

"As I said before.... I do hope they learn from their mistakes...."

"Yeah." Aoi agreed, and then she craned her head. "Grandma, I think I see a crowed gathered over there." She pointed a few blocks ahead of them. Good eyesight. "Wanna go check it out? It could be interesting!"

A crowd? Why would there be a crowd out in this time of day?

Nevertheless, out of curiosity, Megami herself decided to allow it. "Well, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't.... lead the way!" She said brightly, her feet immediately taking her towards the crowd. Whoever or whatever was causing it sure picked a very good time - the crowd looked quite sizable.

Aoi almost dragged her grandmother over to where the crowd. Pushing through quite a few people, she came to an abrupt halt when she finally saw what they were looking at. "Um...Obā-chan, you might look at this."

"I already am...."

Being so close to Aoi, Megami's eyes easily fell upon what happened.

And, truthfully, she was starting to regret her curiosity.

The Investigation Begins[]

Lying there, without shame, was a woman. Dried blood was staining the concrete and gravel under her, signaling that she had been dead for quite some time. Megami grimaced in disgust - her body had been stabbed, slashed, and practically gutted open, her figure mutilated beyond recognition. This was one of the few times that she had witnessed scenes like this, corpses that were results of a butcher knife. But every time she did so, it only sent a vicious chill down her spine. Who in the blue hell would do this to someone?

Around her were a small group of police officers, those who were specialized to inspecting, checking bodies such as this. It would be later on disposed of, the blood cleaned up and the body removed in order for sanitary reasons. They seemed to be ignoring the crowd and allowed them to do what they pleased, but occasionally waved one back if they got too close.

Aoi was troubled by the body, but not too disgusted. Perhaps it was her Hollow side. But she did wonder something, and voiced her thoughts. "Why do things like this happen wherever we are?" She asked, frowning as she looked at the body. To be honest, this looked more like the work of a psychopath than anything supernatural, but she still couldn't help wondering. Did they simply have a serial killer in their midst, or was something about to happen again?

"I have no idea...." Megami began, stepping back a little. "But I think we should leave. I don't think I can take looking at it much longer...."

"Hm? Oh, right." Aoi looked away from the body and followed her grandmother. "So, what do we do about this? Go back and tell Ojī-chan, assuming he's still there? Or should we just hope that body means nothing?"

"This looks like the work of a serial killer...." Megami noted, walking out from the crowd and placing a hand to her chin in a thoughtful look. "I think it'd be best to stay out of this and let the authorities take care of it."

"I was hoping you'd say that." Aoi said, sounding relieved. "I don't wanna get into a battle with some other new group again."

"Same here, Aoi.... same here...."

She grabbed her grandmother's hand. "So, let's get moving! We got sights to see!" She said cheerfully, once again dragging her grandmother down the block with her. They walked past several places, Aoi purchasing an ice cream each or her grandmother and herself, before she continued walking. "I never really knew this place was so big. I haven't really explored all of it yet." She licked the ice cream as she looked around.

"It's a city, Aoi...." Megami explained calmly, her eyes mostly closed as she continued to walk in a relaxed manner after her granddaughter. "Of course it's going to be a bit large! No one's going to get a chance to quickly scan over the place on foot."

"Yeah, but we've been here for over a century." Aoi replied. "You think I'd have seen everything by now."

"Are you sure you weren't...." Megami winked in Aoi's direction - a hint towards her little "games" with Kyuui. "...busy with anything else in that time?" She was sure it would be OK - after all, if she still believed Kyuui to be alive, then there was no reason to be sad, right?

Aoi thought for a moment and her face turned bright red. "Now that I think about it, you're right. Guess I didn't do as much exploring as I'd thought."

"Exactly. I have had a bit more sightings, but I haven't seen it all myself...."

Aoi was about to say something, but then she picked up a trace of spiritual energy that seemed...familiar.

"Hm?" This caused Megami to stop, eyes looking over the young girl in a curious manner. Now it seemed like she was looking for something else.... but, it couldn't be Kyuui anymore, could it? Because of this, she unconsciously let go of her hand while she looked in the same direction Aoi was looking. "What is it this time?"

"Nothing dead." Aoi assured her, looking around. "I'm just picking up some familiar spiritual energy. Don't you feel it?"

Megami closed her eyes for a moment, and focused through the crowd....

There!

Now that she had punched through the signatures of those around her, she could pick up the recognizable signature. Her eyes opened immediately, and surprise washed over her. "Here? But for what purpose?" She asked, mostly to herself as she turned her head in her target's direction. The last time she had felt such energy was during the Hirashin incident, where it had helped against both him as well as his partner. The only times that she had appeared was before something supernatural ever happened, before the nastiest of events could ever occur.

So it wasn't a shock that Megami's heart filled with dread. Why now, of all times....?

"Seems like we don't need to find it." Aoi said, finishing her ice cream. "She's coming right this way." And she was indeed. Turning a corner was Rukia Kuchiki. Her outfit, to someone who didn't know her, wouldn't have been surprising, but it definitely seemed different to the Kurosaki duo. It consisted of several gold bracelets, a black top with slit open sleeves, and short, ripped shorts. Her Zanpakutō was nowhere is sight.

Despite the dread, Megami waited until the woman was close enough to them. Then, she folded her hands together, bowing to what would've been the superior. "Vice-Captain...." She said respectfully, rising up as she did so. Silently, she was hoping that it wasn't something that they needed to be included in. The family was emotionally exhausted.... surely, they had a chance for reprieve, right?

As she reached them, Rukia saw Megami and looked surprised. "Oh, hello Megami. Um...why are you bowing?"

"Oh, I wasn't supposed to?" Megami laughed sheepishly, the tips of her fingers pressed against her lip. "My apologies. I was just being polite, don't mind me!" It was a bit of relief to know that she was at least a little informal.

Rukia smiled. "There's no need to stand on ceremony for me." She said kindly. "And as for "Vice-Captain", I'm not longer a member of the Gotei 13."

"Really?" Immediately, assurance began to set in. "What happened?"

"Because I know more about "modernization" than most Shinigami in the Gotei 13, I was assigned to this region as the Gotei 13's Yūrei Ōkoku Representative." She sounded rather proud of this new post.

"Ah, congratulations, Kuchiki!" Megami, of course, supported the declaration fully. She nodded. "I do wish you the best of luck. How's it been so far?"

"Thankfully, uneventful. I've only been here a few weeks, adjusting to the new surroundings, and nothing has happened yet." Rukia replied. "I'm actually about to go check out that crowd that's over there."

"Actually, the--"

Megami immediately stopped herself. Rukia was a representative. In that case, she could possibly speak to the officers who were working on the murder scene and get some information about it. "Never mind...." She muttered, looking in the direction of the crowd. A bit of surprise overcame her as what looked like a large bird, a dove lookalike, flew down and dispersed the crowd with surprise. "Better hurry, before they clear it up...." Most of them knew what it was anyway - instead of helicopters and planes, animals were often used as transportation for people and equipment. Such was the thing that separated Yuurei from the World of the Living - at least, to an extent.

Rukia, easily closing the distance between her and the crowd with a Shunpo. Raising a hand at someone who was attempting to move the body, she placed a hand over it. A sudden chill passed through her as she did this, and she stood up. "Megami, Aoi. I believe my uneventful stay here is about to change."

"Oi, you. I thought I told the civilians to get off of the premises. That includes you, miss!"

The voice was that of the officer that she had waved off. The voice wasn't hostile, but rather calm and conversational. It was a young man, arms folded across his chest. His uniform was a purple, buttoned shirt with a scarf around his neck, and what appeared to be a shotgun holstered on his back. He also wore black pants and boots. The accent was somewhat Australian. He had short, brown hair, onyx eyes, and from what could be seen, he was most likely in his early thirties.

"Hm, of course." Rukia ushered Megami and Aoi away from him over by a building. "Alright, I've got good news, and I've got bad news. Which would you like first?"

"Bad news." Megami spoke immediately, her eyes shifting over towards Aoi. She frowned slightly - as soon as Rukia had approached them, the young girl had not spoken a word. Idly, she wondered why; it surely wasn't out of intimidation purposes. She would ask about it later on, but for now....

"Alright, but once you hear this, there's no need for the good news." Rukia sighed. "The person who was murdered...I felt the spiritual pressure that surrounded that body. It was the work of a Hollow."

"Hollow?" Aoi asked. "Are you sure? Can't it just be some Psychotic Visored?"

"No. Visored's have dual-type Spiritual Pressure. I didn't feel the energy of Shinigami anywhere in the energy's signature."

"So....?" So far, Megami wasn't surprised, raising her hands up in a shrug. "What's the problem? What kind of Hollow was it? Adjuchas? Menos?" It seemed like the only type of Hollow to commit such brutality was one without a mind.

"I'm not sure." Rukia replied, and she did looked puzzled. "It's quite possible this was a random attack. But no Hollow I've ever seen leaves marks like that. This was overkill."

Megami looked a bit solemn, folding her arms across her chest. "You would be surprised...." She commented softly, though not detailing it further. "Should we wait until the autopsy is performed? I'm sure police will know exactly what the damage was caused by."

"That does sound best." Rukia replied. "I never thought that when I got here, something would actually happen."

"Guess it's good that you were here, or I'd have just gone on assuming it was a serial killer." Aoi said, sounding more relieved that it wasn't.

"Well, this is a killer...." Megami countered. "But it's only something that has yet to develop into a string of murders. We have to be ready for when that happens...." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the same officer that had addressed Rukia before walk up to them and wave a little. She raised an eyebrow.

"Sorry to interrupt the little conversation, but...." He motioned a hand towards Rukia. "Your name is Kuchiki Rukia, correct?"

Rukia turned around. "Yes, why do you ask?"

"After you finish up your business up here...." The officer jerked a thumb behind him, indicating the lone bird that remained. "I'm to escort you to the King's palace. He's been expecting you."

A rather complaining look crossed Megami's face. "Already?" She asked, her solemn demeanor fading for a moment. It was only a short time since the three re-united, and already Rukia had to leave for something else? "Can't it wait just a little longer?" This made the officer grin a little, but he shook his head.

"Sorry, ma'am, it's gotta be ASAP."

"Alright." Rukia replied. "I'll get those reports when I can and give both of you the news." She told Megami and Aoi.

"Please do...." Megami nodded, smiling. "And, once again, good luck."

Rukia smiled in thanks. "Lead the way." She told the officer.

With a curt nod, the officer turned on his heel and walked away, knowing that Rukia would follow him. He hopped on the board, extending a hand to help her up. "Kenta Sonoda, leader of the Sector 3 Overwatch." He introduced himself. "Had I known I had been speaking with the representative of Yūrei, I would've shown better manners...."

Rukia chuckled. "I seem to get that a lot. It's fine, please. I'd prefer if you were informal."

"I'll try, but...." As he looked over his shoulder, he couldn't surpress a grin of amusement. "I can't guarantee I'll succeed." With that, he turned back towards the bird and shouted out a command. Instantly, the bird reacted, spreading its wings out and boosting itself off of the ground roughly. Within a matter of seconds, it had taken to the air, now flying over the entire sky. The sudden bust of wind in Kenta's face stunned him for a minute, but he held on. Once again, he turned towards Rukia.

"Hope you don't get air-sick quickly!!!"

As the bird flew off, Megami and Aoi could only look on from below.

"Damn she's lucky." Aoi muttered, watching Rukia take flight with the man.

Settled In[]

"Is this how it is all the time?" Rukia asked, looking down at the city as they flew overhead. "Wouldn't it be easier to get there with Shunpo?"

Kenta rolled his eyes. "We aren't all from the Seireitei like you, Kuchiki!" He answered back. Strangely, the city looked quite bright, its buildings' lights illuminating brightly even in the morning air. "All, if not most of the troops don't have access to techniques like that. We have to use other transportation methods in order to get from area to area. Besides...." On the word "besides", a coy grin crossed his face, and he looked over his shoulder once again. "Wouldn't you agree that this is a more enjoyable experience than Shunpo?"

She looked around at the city they were flying over. With the wind blowing around her, and the beautiful sight the city was, she had to agree. "I'll give you that one."

"I knew you'd come to! Hah!"

As they reached the mountain where the palace was, its features were recognized. The mountain itself towered right over the city, the palace hooked at the very top. To say the least, it was absolutely magnificent. The stone material itself seemed to glow amongst the city's masses, illuminating with a display of romantic power. If one looked closer, they could've seen activity; soldiers guarding the premises, heavily armed and dangerous. If there was any true work put into the city, every piece of it was put into this very structure.

"So this is the King's Castle?" Rukia asked. "It's a truly beautiful sight."

"It has to be, if it wants to be recognized." Kenta remarked, beginning to descend the bird down towards the very front of the castle. Not as roughly as it had taken off, it touched down and folded its wings, perking its head around. "So, welcome to the heart of Yuurei..." Jumping down, he offered a hand for her to take so that she could jump down as well. They were close enough to see two sentries guarding the front entrance, guns out but holstered. "I do hope the troop dig-ins aren't too imposing...."

She took his hand, getting down off the bird easily. One thing she couldn't understand is why nobility always wanted to be noticed. "What is it His Highness wants with me?"

"Just some acquaintance. The police don't receive direct orders...."

Kenta began to lead the woman towards the front door, and one of the sentries immediately quirked an eyebrow. Under his mask, he smirked. "Get the hell outta here, Kenta!" He said tauntingly, which made the officer scowl. "This is the real veteran's territory, not for gun-totin' posers like you!"

"Yeah, well this gun-totin' poser's gonna do more than that if you don't shut your mouth." He growled back, fixing a glare at him. However, he didn't flinch, and grew simply more amused. "Your Majesty has ordered me here, so out of my way, you dog!"

"And...." The soldier's gaze directed towards Rukia. "Who's the chick?"

"The representative of this city, so I'd advise you to hold your tongue!"

"Hmph...." Both soldiers moved out of the way, the speaker letting out nothing more than a grunt. "She don't look like much.... but whatever." With that, Kenta walked past them, not having to look to know Rukia was following behind.

"Ugh...." Kenta put a palm to his face in annoyance. "Cocky bastards, every single one of 'em...."

Rukia giggled. She found Kenta and the soildier's exchange rather amusing."I'm not paying them any mind, believe me. If you like, I could teach them a lesson for you?"

Kenta couldn't help but smirk at that. "You do that, you'd have to teach all 30,000 of 'em that same lesson. And even that, I doubt they'd learn. 'Sides, this little rivalry's something a rep shouldn't get involved in. I'm pretty much surprised we haven't gone into a second civil war yet." He continued to walk down the hallway, moving through document-covered walls and posters as he went along. He might as well make some conversation - after all, it would be a walk....

"Second Civil War?" Rukia asked. "I never knew this region had a first civil war."

"You haven't?" Kenta quirked an eyebrow. "I hardly see why not. It was a massive rebellion out of the spite and hatred that was being felt towards the previous King, which I may add was nothing but a tyrannical bastard...." He chuckled. "The war tore apart our city, but it was slowly re-built overtime. The tyrant was killed by His Majesty, and the existence of that corruptive government was over. I only regret not being the one to put the bullet through his brain."

"I see. It seems I've quite a lot to learn about this region then." Rukia looked thoughtful. To have had a civil war. Not something the Soul Society was very familiar with, at least not the Seireitei.

"And you'll have plenty of time to...." Kenta added. "Now that you're Yūrei's rep, you'll get to pick up on the news going on inside of the city. Don't be shy to ask around, either. The civilians aren't hesitant to give advice when needed." It was here that they stopped at the door in where the King was. Raising a hand, Kenta knocked on it swiftly and waited for a moment, folding his arms across his chest.

"Who's there?"

"Sonoda."

Immediately, the door opened, and there stood Chidori, a look of surprise on her face. "Ah! Of course, the representative! Come in, come in!" She stepped aside, allowing the two to enter the office--

--and see the King sitting there at a desk, hands folded and a rather polite look to his features. Immediately, Kenta bowed to him. "Your Majesty, I have brought the one from the Seireitei." He announced, keeping a dry and neutral tone to his voice. However, what he was recieving was a rather quizzical look by the man himself....

....just before he felt a rolled up paper being thrown at his head.

"OW!" Immediately, he raised up, grasping the spot where it had hit him. Now he saw the king's raised-eye stare meet his own dumbfounded one. "What was that fo--"

"How many times have I told you not to do that, you dolt?" The king remarked dryly. "I'm not your master, and you're not my apprentice. So enough with the bowing already...." For emphasis, he waved a dismissive hand. Embarrassed, Kenta looked away and kept his arms folded across his chest, his interest suddenly fixed to the wall.

Rukia looked very surprised at this. The King seemed rather...she couldn't find the right word at the moment, so she cleared her throat to greet the King. "Greetings your Highness. I'm Rukia Kuchiki, the new Gotei 13 Representative for the Yūrei Ōkoku." She refrained from bowing only to avoid getting git with the same rolled up paper Kenta had just been struck with.

Upon turning to the Kuchiki, a cheery smile came across his face. He raised a hand out, indicating the seats in front of him. "And as for you, feel free to have a seat! This will only take a little of your time. After that, my lead officer will escort you back to where you were without any issues." Briefly, Kenta nodded in her direction, hands folded behind his back. Chidori herself looked on silently, leaning against the wall with her arms folded across her chest.

Rukia sat down slowly, looking at the King. She didn't speak, waiting for him to talk instead.

"And, do try to relax...." The king added, looking over at her and folding his hands once again. "I understand our positions, but that doesn't mean you have to act like a statue while doing so."

"Of course." Rukia said apologetically. "I've never been before a King before, I'm uncertain how to act."

"Don't worry. My presence may seem overbearing to you right now, but it'll pass. Now, then...." Shifting his eyes towards the papers on his desk, he slid his hand under the desk and brought out a pen. "Now, then, I'll brief you: your duty as Yūrei's representative is to assist with any events that could pose a threat to the city. This will include undercover assignments with the police force, reports on suspicious events, and if necessary, the subduing of criminal targets. You will also act as a mediator between Yūrei and other societies, taking actions such as reviewing treaties, monitoring trade, and the like. It will require one of great tenacity, will, and mind. Can I entrust you on that, Kuchiki?"

"Yes sir." Rukia replied, though her head was slightly spinning from the amount of new tasks she was going to have to do. This must be what the Captains felt like when they were taking care of their own office work. And she hadn't even started yet.

"I will keep your word on that. Now, because of the circumstances, we'll get you settled in right away." A small grin decked the king's face, and he looked up for a moment. "Now, if you're not planning on sharing a home with anyone, we'll situate you in your own right away." He paused for a moment, taking the time to scribble on the paper while he waited for the answer.

"No, I don't have anywhere to live at the moment. I've been staying at one of Yūrei's suites."

"Well, then! We'll be sure to move you into something with bigger space." The king said immediately. "You won't have to pay for much in the account of your home, due to all the work you'll be doing, as well."

"That's good...I think." Rukia replied, unsure of exactly what to say.

Lifting the pen up from the sheet he was working on, the king promptly slid the paper over to her. "Here's a document with contact information on it. Any complaints and the like, those are the people you need to call on. Any questions?" Throughout the statements, he still kept a rather polite demeanor. It was surprising - one moment he was informal, and the next it seemed like he was prepared for business. Nothing less from the King, after all...

"Yes, though it's not related to this." Rukia looked up from the paper she had been handed. "Earlier, there was a "murder" committed out in the streets. I think it was the work of a Hollow, but I'm not entirely certain. I'd like to request the autopsy reports when it's finished."

"A murder....?"

A look of irritation crossed Juushin's face, and he slapped a palm to his face. "Oh, god, you'd think that someone'd get tired of killing around here!"

This was when Kenta decided to look up from his own spot, folding his arms across his chest. "The corpse was right in plain view, m'Lord. Had a pack right around 'er when the cleaners arrived to pick up the pieces."

"Right...." Was the dry reply. "Kuchiki, I'll make sure to send you those reports as soon as the autopsy's finished. It may take a while, but the wait time'll be short and within the day."

"Alright, thank you. Is there anything else you need to tell me?"

"Nothing I haven't went over.... aside from one thing...." His eyes squinted shut, and his mouth once again formed into a smile. "I hope you enjoy your stay." Turning his head, he nodded in Kenta's direction. "You're dismissed, both of you."

"C'mon, Kuchiki...." Kenta muttered, stepping through the door that Chidori had so graciously opened for them.

Rukia followed, bowing once to the King as she followed Kenta. "He wasn't as bad as I expected." Rukia whispered to Kenta. "I kind of expected someone more...stern, stuck up, something like that."

"Oh, no, not from Juushin, of all people...." Kenta answered smoothly. "After all, he was the commander of the rebel forces, motivated by nothing but the plea from the citizens. He's nothing of the sort, and he tries his best to be fair to everyone. Of course, he is capable of laying down the law when it is necessary...."

"I see. Makes for a fair ruler." Rukia commented. "Now, why exactly did he throw that rolled up paper at you? Because you bowed to him?"

Kenta looked a bit sheepish, turning his head away briefly to mask the slightly embarrassed scowl on his face. "He gets a bit annoyed whenever someone treats him too formally, and.... I have a habit at being formal to those of high social rank."

"I can relate to him on that." Rukia murmured. "So, where am I heading now?"

"Well, if you're not planning on going anywhere, then I'll just drop you off at your house, of course...."

"Alright, I'd like to see it."


Headline text[]

BOOM! A large explosion came from deep inside the Kurosaki House, shaking the building at it's foundation. Upon inspection, one would find Miharu inside the rather cavernous basement, wielding a gigantic sawed blade made of ice. It seemed to be attached to her arm by metal rings. The blade began to glow.

"Kesshō Kōsen!" She cried, swinging the blade in a wide arc, letting loose a flurry of ice crystals which tore straight through the wall.

The clearing of the throat could be heard from the bottom of the stairs.

It was her mother, her arms folded across her chest, and a frown that clearly expressed disapproval at her daughter's actions. Her eyes were narrowed slightly in a disciplinary manner. "What do you think you're doing, young lady?" She asked calmly, the scolding in her tone just lacing every word.

"Um...training?" Miharu answered nervously, the chilly feeling not coming from the Zanpakutō on her arm at all. "Tō-san said to train down here."

"Well, he must not know that it's causing the whole house to quake. Any more, and we might need a new place to live...." With that, Megami started to walk towards Miharu. "You could ask Ezra to use his yard. He's told me that was where you and he regularly spar at."

"Oh yeah. And I guess it would be more fun to have someone else to spar with than to take it out on the house." Miharu said, her sawed blade returning to it's normal state.

"Now, go on, shoo!" As Miharu did so, Megami was quick to get behind her and start pushing her up the steps, and insisting look on her face. "You've made a mess upstairs, and now I have to clean it all!"

"Sorry." Miharu called back as she left the basement and up out of the house. She took to the air, running across the sky, feeling the breeze in her hair. It wasn't long before she was able to scout out Ezra's home from the sky, and she landed neatly in his yard.

"You sure possess a lot of nerve just coming into someone else's lawn when you feel like it."

Of course, the voice of Ezra was the first to greet her. His figure was sitting on what appeared to be the patio steps, his arms folded across his chest, and his stone-faced gaze leveled at his friend. His Zanpakutō was resting on the sheath on his back, and overall, he appeared as if he was ready to fight at any time.

Miharu looked over at Ezra. "Mornin'." She said lightly, completely disregarding his remark. "How're ya?"

"Wondering why are you on my lawn..." Ezra wasn't one to be brushed off so easily, his tone not faltering.

"Well. I had nothing to do, so I came here to train." Miharu replied. "Kā-chan said I couldn't train in the basement."

"And, how exactly are you planning to "train"?" Ezra asked, switching his arm position so that he could fold his fingers a short distance across his face. His elbows rested on his knees.

"I'm not sure." Miharu replied, drawing her sword and once again turning it back into the sawed-ice blade. "I was polishing my moves, but maybe some sparring would be good."

A small smirk crawled up the red-haired boy's face. "You need more than simple sparring and "polishing your moves"." He stated. "You need to learn more about your abilities, as well as how to wield the weapon you're carrying. You may know it to some degree right now.... but it's nothing but a far cry compared to your limit." He was speaking from his own experience as one of Aether's soul reapers, knowing firsthand the difference between the masters and the experts.

"I think I know my Zanpakutō well enough Ezra." Miharu replied. "I don't think there's anymore I can learn from it."

"You seem to think a lot. Are you sure about it?"

"I'm sure if there was something else to learn, my Zanpakutō would have told me by now."

Ezra nodded slightly. "And you're sure that it's not simply telling you what it wants you to hear?"

"Why would my Zanpakutō do that?" Miharu asked, puzzled.

"Various reasons. Though they're a part of us, they also are capable of expressing individuality." Ezra's eyes drifted towards his own sword. "Some do it for their own personal amusement, while others do it as a sort of test in order to see how much steps its wielder can take by his or herself. In even other cases, they might resent their wielder and simply refuse to lend them full access to their power."

"I see." Miharu replied, thinking for a moment. "Wait,you don't think Kyūmu resents me, do you?"

"Like I said before, it could be any reason."

"I don't get it. So just working on moves won't do anything at all?" Miharu sounded disappointed. She had thought she was actually getting somewhere.

"It is not completely worthless...." Ezra said firmly. "But as you do, you have to learn and uncover more about your own powers if you want to excel to your limit. It is vital."

"Isn't the best way to learn about your own powers through testing them out?"

"You can't do that if you don't know what you're testing out."

"My powers are literally anything I want Ezra." Miharu said matter-of-factly. "I create what I'm testing out."

Ezra's smile would've grown wider, had it not been for the fact that he was keeping his emotions surpressed. He unfolded his hands and bent them in a shrugging manner. "And what you create.... still seems so limited." He countered, his tone dry yet taking on a conversational route. "A weapon.... an element.... your powers may be anything of your desire. But if you want to take down your enemy, you must be prepared to use methods that even you hadn't expected out of yourself."

"My Zanpakutō... is limited." Miharu admitted under her breath. "It can't seem to do anything that affects my body. Everything it does it limited to appearance and power. I'm pretty sure Bankai is a way around that, but I can't do Bankai yet."

"It's only as limited as your mind."

"No, I've tried. I can't enhance my senses, strength limbs or anything like that. It doesn't work."

"I stand by what I said."

Of course, he was thinking of much more versatile ways in order to utilize such power. She was simply proving that her creativity just wasn't expanded enough to match the much larger way of thinking just yet. He closed his eyes thoughtfully for a moment, folding his arms across his chest once more.

"Then what's your suggestion?"

"That's up to you to figure out...."

Miharu hissed for a moment. "Ezra, if that was meant to help, you were sorely mistaken."

Once again, Ezra raised his hands up in a shrugging manner. "That is how I was taught in Aether. Teachers don't give the answers to their students.... they simply help them find it themselves."

"Tō-san gives answers." Miharu muttered. "Talk is getting me nowhere Ezra. I'm more lost now than when I came here."

"Pity."

She growled, and there was a gust of wind as she turned her Zanpakutō into a giant feather. She hopped on it. "See ya later Ezra." She said, and the feather lifted off from the ground, allowing Miharu to fly off in her bad mood.

As the red-haired boy watched her go off, he shook his head sagely. It was such a shame... her father gave her the answers? That did no good at all, and would only hinder someone's learning process. If she had found her own path, maybe she would've had to endure less of the struggle of gaining such power. But, as such, it was not the case. Slowly standing up, he walked back into his house.

Oh, well. At least he got her outta the lawn.

As she soared through the sky, Miharu laid back on the feather. Damn that Ezra. He was no help at all. Now she had to figure out some different way to increase in power. Bankai training didn't sound like an option just yet. She sighed. Suddenly, she felt something pass her by. She sat up, looking around, but it was gone. "What was that?"' She thought as she landed right in front of her home. The feather returned to sword form and Miharu sheathed it, walking into her house.

Inside, if she traveled to the den of the house, Megami was lying on the couch, reading to herself while humming a tune. Her head was resting against the armrest, and her body was laid out straight, though it was obvious it was still relaxed. She didn't seem to yet notice Miharu's appearance.... either that, or she just preferred to keep her nose in the book she was reading.

Miharu yawned, announcing her presence in the room.

Briefly, Megami looked over her shoulder for a moment, gave her a brief smile, then turned back to her book.

"Kā-cha-" Before Miharu could finish her question however, the doorbell rang.

"Hm?"

Not wanting to bug Miharu with the request, Megami decided to answer it herself. Immediately, she got up to her feet, walking briskly towards the door. "Just hang on!" She said to both her daughter and the person at the door, hoping they would understand. Quickly, she grabbed the handle and twisted it open.

Rukia Kuchiki was standing there, a less than pleasant expression on her face. "May I come in?"

"Er...y-yes!"

Faltering under the look Rukia gave her, Megami immediately stepped aside for her to enter. It must've been something about the dead woman, if she looked that solemn.... it just couldn't be good.

Rukia walked in, taking in the house. It hadn't changed much. Perhaps a bit darker, though maybe the paint was just fading. She took a seat. "I'm afraid the news is bad." She said, and her expression clearly said "You probably won't want to hear this.".

However, Megami was simply attracted to the statement. Immediately, she took her own seat, eyes studying Rukia intently. "Go on. It's best if we heard sooner or later...." She insisted, folding her arms across her lap.

"From the autopsy reports, I was right. The assailant was a Hollow. But there was evidence that a sword had been used."

"So it was an Arrancar...." Megami guessed grimly, folding her arms across her chest and letting her eyes fall down to the ground. "Did you find out anything else?"

"Unfortunately." Rukia replied. "After checking the spiritual pressure the wound were giving off, I realized that I recognized it."

"And?"

"Tell me, have you ever heard of the Espada before?"

Espada.

The very word caused Megami's eyebrows to knit. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I have..." She admitted, fingers tapping against her own legs out of apprehension. They had been the primary enemies of the Soul Society in the past war, the White War to be exact. However, that certain faction had been exterminated by the Gotei 13. Why was the word coming up again now? It immediately said that there was an Espada involved in the murder, but... "Why?"

"The spiritual pressure I felt on those wounds was one of a particularly violent Espada. Though one I thought to be dead."

"I think we all thought the Espada to be dead, Kuchiki-san...."

"Have you heard of Grimmjow Jeadgerjaquez?" Rukia asked, her tone ominous.

"....no, no.... I...." This made Megami hesitate as she thought about it. Sure, she knew about the Espada, but not specifically. "I can't say I have."

"I see. Grimmjow Jeagerjaquez was the former Sexta Espada in Aizen's army." Rukia explained. "He nearly killed me more than once, so feeling his familiar, dark spiritual energy is not a pleasant feeling. Last I remember, Ichigo Kurosaki had fought him. I assumed him to be dead."

Megami closed her eyes for a moment. "Then I suppose his desire to live was stronger than the hand of death...." She remarked, a grim smile forming on her face. "Did you inform anyone else about this? The police?"

"They've been informed yes. I told the king as well, because I doubt there's much regular officers can do against an Arrancar like Grimmjow."

"Is there any possible leads we can track into finding this....Grimmjow?"

"None that I know of." Rukia replied. "I can't feel his Spiritual Pressure anyway. But I don't think he came here just to kill that person. He had a reason for coming, and I'm sure he'll be back."

"But why?" Megami's voice was sound a bit frustrated. She leaned in, leaning on her own arms. "Why leave a body like that for everyone to see? Intimidation? A warning? What is he trying to tell us?"

"If he was trying to tell us something, I'd bet money that he was saying "I'm here". Of course, that would border on intimidation." She said, thinking.

"Then he's just goading us...." The more she thought of it, the more she felt that there was more questions that needed to be answered. I'm here.... It just seemed like an obvious trap. He was taunting his enemies to come after him, to pursue him until they fell straight into his clutches. Were there others involved?

"Is your husband here by any chance?" Rukia asked. "It's best he know about this. Your son should know as well."

Son.

Mentally, Megami flinched at the memory of Taiki, but held it in and kept her smile up. "Well, my son's not here as of the moment, and my husband's out to work. I'm not sure when he'll be back...." How was she supposed to tell her that her son had went rogue against the family, and kidnapped her granddaughter! It just wasn't so simple as that, of course.

"Oh? When do they get back?"

"Hopefully soon, so we won't have to wait long...."

"By the way, what's the unfamiliar spiritual energy I feel?"

"Uh...huh?"

That immediately caught Megami off-guard. She blinked a few times, her eyes looking around the room as she did so. Nothing seemed out of place, out of tune.... everything seemed recognizable. "I'm afraid my senses must be getting rusty, Kuchiki-san." She admitted. "I don't sense anything out of place...."

"Well, it's here." Rukia replied. "Moving around the house. It feels a bit like both yours and your husbands, actually, but it's unique in it's own way. Did you have another child?"

"O-oh!" Seeming to brighten up immediately at that remark, Megami clapped her hands together, her expression showing eagerness at the mention of Miharu. "As a matter of fact, we did! You've never seen Mi-chan, have you?"

"No, I haven't. Can you call her down? I'd like to meet her."

"I sure can!"

Miharu immediately turned her head towards the direction of where the spiritual pressure was. "MIHARU! COULD YOU COME TO THE LIVING ROOM FOR A MOMENT?" She called out.

"Coming!" She called down, and her footsteps could be heard running down the stairs. She walked into the living room and saw Rukia. "Who's she?"

"A friend." Megami explained pleasantly, extending her hand out towards the Kuchiki. "Kuchiki Rukia, to be exact."

"Kuchiki Rukia?" Miharu murmured. "Alright, memorized. Nice to meet you Kuchiki-san."

"Nice to meet you too Miharu." Rukia turned to Megami. "She definitely is your daughter. She looks just like you."

This made Megami put a hand out to her mouth, suppressing the slightly embarrassed laugh. "Isn't she, though?" Her eyes drifted towards her daughter. "All right, sorry for bothering you, but she did ask nicely to see you...."

"It's OK." Miharu replied. "I wasn't doing anything anyway."

The door knob could he heard turning, and the door itself opened with a slight creek. It needed oiling or something. Ahatake and Adela both entered, talking to each other about something.

And they finally arrived! Now they could explain what had happened.

"Ahatake, Adela!" Megami called in from where she was sitting, easily sensing their spiritual pressures. "Good to know you're back! C'min here, we've got an old guest!"

Ahatake and Adela entered the room, and detached themselves from their conversation. Ahatake looked up, and was surprise. "Oh, Rukia! Good to see you again."

Rukia nodded. "It's good to see you too, Ahatake."

Adela simply nodded towards the Shinigami.

"Now...." Megami clapped her hands together. It was time to talk about the newfound problem they had just discovered! Her expression immediately turned serious. "Kuchiki-san, I think I'll leave it to you to explain. Sorry for needing you to tell the same story twice..."

"It's fine." Rukia assured her. She cleared her throat. "Ahatake, Adela. This morning, there was a murder. It was...well, be happy you didn't see it. I inspected the wounds, and found traces of Hollow spiritual pressure. The autopsy also confirmed sword wounds. After inspecting the spiritual pressure once again, I realized it was familiar to me. It was the spiritual pressure of a former Espada, Grimmjow Jeagerjaquez."

"An Espada? An Arrancar?" Ahatake asked.

"Yes. Exactly why he killed that person, I have yet to figure out."

"I see..." Ahatake murmured.

"The authorities are on the look out, too, from what Rukia told me." Megami added. "I was taking a look outside.... the police are more frequent on the streets now. They're awfully tense about this...."

Ahatake sighed. "Peace just doesn't seem to like us, does it? Whenever we think everything's done, something else just shows up."

At this, Megami had to chuckle a little. "Guess we were fated to deal with these kinds of problems, huh?"

"Yeah." Ahatake sighed. "Still, life wouldn't be fun if it was completely peaceful all the time. And this gets me away from work."

"So what are we going to do about this?" Adela asked.

"Rukia..."

For that statement, Megami immediately turned to another source. "We understand the problems.... but, truthfully, we're not really doing so good on our end as well. We've got our own problems...." She explained softly, a bit hesitant to start explaining what happened now. But she remained calm.

Rukia frowned. Of course. Just like any family, they were expected to have to problems. "Alright. I'll try to deal with this, along with the officers. But if it's too much, you can expect me back to ask for your aid."

Megami nodded her head in a half-nod, half bow. "Thank you, Kuchiki-san."

Rukia nodded. "I'll be taking my leave now. Despite today's events, it was nice to see you all again."

"Please do be careful, Kuchiki-san...."

The elder female Kurosaki pushed herself off the couch in order to stand up, walking towards Rukia. It took only a few steps for her to reach her, and when Megami did, she wrapped her arms around the shorter woman in a moderately tight hug. "And do your best. I do hope the authorities can take care of this before it gets out of hand."

"I just hope they don't get killed." Rukia replied, Megami back, before letting go. She opened the door, and took to the air, vanishing with a Shunpo. She started to run over the cities buildings, thinking to herself. "So, the Kurosaki family cannot help me this time." She frowned.

"This is going to be difficult."

The END'

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