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Diosa Arc: The Kurosakis Strike Back! 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: The Kurosakis Strike Back! is the property of Darkrai.
It may not be used by anyone but the author or the co-author's in question.

Battle Plan[]

Ahatake was groaning. Even though it had been two days since their last battle, he was still aching all over, though the minor cuts he had received had healed, the larger wounds merely disinfected and bandaged. Megami, Rukia, and the Major had gotten similar first-aid. He sighed. Today was the day they were going to plan their counterattack on the Arrancar.

The ones who were able to move quite easily were the ones speaking about it. Ginji was among them - he was a leader, after all.

"All right." He spoke calmly, his arms folded across his chest, and his gaze stern. "I want an overview of our enemies and their abilities so far, just to keep everyone's memory in check. If anything, we want every advantage possible in this."

"Alita practically told us her abilities." Daiyaku said, coughing for a moment. "Her abilities lie in the creation and manipulation of water and lightning. All attacks based on these elements are useless against her. Her Cero is also not something to be underestimated."

"And this blue-haired male Arrancar. What about him?"

"Completely brute force." Midoriko spoke up. "His Cero is powerful, and he uses darts, but has no special abilities aside from those."

"And then there's the white-haired woman....." Ginji finished, looking thoughtful for a moment. "Clearly, she's the leader in the way she carries herself. At the very least, she's some sort of commander for their forces. Whether or not there's another leader, we have yet to see....but has she revealed her abilities?"

"Aside from the fact that she could keep them both silent, no." Daiyaku replied sadly.

"All right, then. For Alita, it's all a matter of avoiding the use of attacks that have those elements with them. As for Grimmjow, it's all a matter of weakening all of that brute force he has. You all have your ways of utilizing those weaknesses, so it's best if we all fought in our element."

"You make it sound easy." Daiyaku replied. "Nearly my entire arsenal is lightning."

Ginji smiled wryly. "Then you won't be fighing Alita, eh?"

"Oh no I'm definitely fighting her." Daiyaku said quickly. "Lighting-based techniques aren't stopping me from doing that."

"This isn't a game here, boy." Ginji reprimanded. "In order for this attack to work, everything has to be at maximum efficiency. Therefore, you'll be needed where you'll be needed, and that's not where Alita is."

Daiyaku looked over at him. "I'm fighting who I choose Ginji. You're not going to stop me."

A small chuckle came from the door as Ahatake walked in. "He getting on your nerves as well?"

"Just starting to."

Ginji's lip curled slightly in annoyance, and he raised a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Fine. I see where I stand. What's the point of making a plan if you people aren't going to follow it?" He said irritably. "Let's hear your idea, shall we?" If Daiyaku wanted to divert away from his own strategy, then perhaps he already had his own.

"I have no idea." Daiyaku replied. "When I fought Alita, I realized she and I are about even, so long as I use the Ōnaminagare at the third level. I figure it'd be better to let me--"

"No idea." Ginji promptly interrupted him, fixing him with a glare. "And yet, you're wanting to go your own way. I think we all want this to go smoothly as possible, and that's not going to work if everyone does whatever they wish!"

"If I can't fight the opponent I want, my heart won't be in it." Daiyaku replied airily. "What if I happen to let my "designated" opponent get away? Wouldn't that mess things up even more than me doing what I want?"

This caused Ginji's lip to curl even more, head tilted to the side slightly. "Oh.... really?" He asked, what seemed like a smug tone in his voice. Slowly, he allowed himself to step towards the boy. "You know, I had that exact same feeling when I was a recruit. If I encountered a situation in which there was seemingly no solution, I wouldn't be able to find the spirit to find it. But overtime, I began to learn that maybe some things are just not what you want in life. Get over yourself, Itonami. If you can only bring yourself to fight one of your enemy, then you're just as pitiful as those Arrancar pawns."

Daiyaku hissed, but Ahatake put a hand on his shoulder. "For the moment, let's do as the Major suggests." He knew if these two argued, no one would win, and he wanted to get back on the front lines as quickly as possible. "Ginji, would you like me to tell you the powers of the enemy Rukia and I faced?"

Ginji refolded his arms across his chest, the smug look fading. "Information about every enemy is essential. Go ahead and enlighten us."

"Aaroniero Arruruerie was the former Novena Espada. Aside from standard Arrancar powers, he has the powers of a Shinigami. His Zanpakutō, Nejibana, uses powerful water-based abilities. His real Zanpakutō however, is Glotoneria, which allows him to devour beings and absorb their powers." However, it wasn't Ahatake who had gotten to say this. Rukia was standing in doorway, a grim look on her face. She had explained it all.

"A Number 9 cannibal." Ginji summarized, nodding his head. "Are there any conditions that he releases this real Zanpakutō under?"

"Only when he wants to destroy you completely. During our first encounter, he stated that he's absorbed an approximate number of 33,650 beings, mainly Hollows. It's been centuries since then, so his powers have most likely grown. When released, he can use every power he's ever absorbed."

"So we need a force to counter 33,650+ souls...." Ginji muttered, a little bit of irritability in his voice. "Terrific. Anyone happen to have that sort of power on their hands?"

"If it's not a problem with you Ginji, I'd like to team up with Rukia again and take on Aaroniero." Ahatake suggested lightly. "With his power, two is better than one. I have power enough to take him, and, on top of knowing what makes Aaroniero tick, Rukia's not too shabby."

This caused Ginji to look up at the sky for a moment, thinking about what he had just said. Daiyaku acted more like a reckless man who based his actions on desire and emotions. With him, there was little fore planning in his mind which was concerned with only the present and not the future. However, Rukia was a different story. She thought tactically in her battles and fought with skill, as well as a Lieutenant should. At least... a former Lieutenant. "All right. It's your call on that." He relented.

"Then I'll fight Alita."

The former male Lieutenant's voice spoke up, his figure appearing right beside Rukia. He leaned his arm against the doorway. "I think it'd be best for me to fight her alone. Chance is, we're going to need all the fighters we get against Diosa. If she's the leader, she's going to be exceptionally strong." He supplied, placing a hand onto his chest for emphasis. "Her spiritual energy was enough to cause some collateral damage, mental or otherwise. Since Ahatake's going to be busy with Aaroniero, I'm pretty much one of the two choices here."

Daiyaku sighed. "Then who am I being saddled with?"

"Diosa." Ginji answered.

"Fine. Then who are you taking on? We still have two more opponents."

"I won't be on the ground this time." The Major snapped out of his thoughtful look. "I'll be providing support from the air using one of the experiments the military's been conjuring up. Trying to adapt to modern technology similar to the Living Realm has been a climb upward, and that's evolving to the methods of transportation we're using."

"Scared to fight I see." Daiyaku muttered.

"Itonami. Stow it." Ginji growled. "Unlike you, a mercenary-like man who only fights for his own accord, I have my duties and responsibilities to take care of. There are forces higher than me that gave the order for my position, so I suggest you think before you speak!"

"Would anyone mind if I take on Grimmjow?" Midoriko asked. She had been there the whole time, with Kibō, but she hadn't said much of anything.

Kibou chose that moment in order to speak up, grinning widely. "Allow me to fight by your side again, Mido." He offered, leaning back on the couch he was sitting in. "I've got a bit of a score I'd like to settle with that blue-haired punk, too!"

"Of course Kibō." Midoriko replied cheerily. "Murdering him wouldn't feel right without you."

"I'll take whatever opponent is left." Miharu volunteered.

"Oh.... that's right." Ginji said, scowling a little. "Dordonii.... I completely forgot about him."

"I'll take 'im!" Kyashi immediately volunteered, raising her hand. "Might as well test out my solo skills, too. I've gotten a bit rusty over the years...." She gave an apologetic look to Ryuka, almost laughing when she saw the slightly shocked and hurt look on his face. "Sorry, honey. But sparring matches with you just doesn't cut it anymore." This earned a light chuckle from him, expressing no hard feelings.

"Not fair Kyashi-san! I just volunteered for that one!" Miharu said huffily.

Kyashi stuck out her tongue. "Too bad, my dearest pupil."

"How about we tag team him?" Miharu suggested. "A team battle would be fun, wouldn't it?"

The blonde tilted her head to the side to look over at the girl. "Well.... it'd feel nice to have a companion to watch my back...." She admitted. "All right. We'll take him together."

"Thanks!" Miharu said, grinning.

"And that leaves Diosa for myself and who?" Daiyaku spoke up. Unless they wanted him to take her on by himself, which he had no qualms against, he was expecting partners.


Apparently, no one had thought of that. Fortunately, one last voice spoke up. "I'll help you, Daiyaku-san." Megami said, giving off a mirthful smile. "Or did you forget about little old me already?"

Daiyaku looked over. "Oh, right Megami-san. It'll be a pleasure to battle with you."

"So, that's it for who's going to fight who!" Ginji summarized, giving a jerking nod. "Now, when we get there, we're going to have to decide on the method of infiltration. The last time we went into their base unprepared, we ended up falling right into a trap that nearly got us killed and successfully separated from one another. I don't think any of us want that happening again."

Daiyaku chuckled, but said nothing.

"Alright. Then why don't you lead this infiltration." Miharu suggested.

Ginji nodded. "As usual, I'll be providing support from the air, so I'll have a much broader view of what's up ahead." He agreed to the suggestion.

"Only question now is when do we leave." Midoriko asked. It was clear she was ready.

"Whenever everyone is completely sure they're one hundred percent."

"I'm ready." echoed in monotone around the room.

....oh, how ridiculous these Kurosaki were.

Why did he have to be assigned with such people? What possible use did the king see out of them? If anything, they only served as pure muscle power! It was just as if he was relying on the power of mercenaries in order to do a soldier's job! He closed and eyes and walked off, his arms folded across his chest. "Then you get the headstart until I can prepare myself and a squad to accompany you." He said with an air of finality, grabbing the knob and opening the door. "Good luck.... by god, you will need it."

Ahatake clicked his fingers, a garganta ripping open right in the living room. "Should I leave the Garganta for you and your troops after my family passes through into Hueco Mundo?" Ahatake asked Ginji.

"No need." The Major replied smoothly, stepping through the door. "We have our ways of entering Hueco Mundo. We wouldn't be very effective if we were stuck in one spot, now would we?" With that, he shut the door behind him, leaving the Kurosaki (and Injiki) family to their business.

"Well then." Ahatake cleared his throat. "Shall we pull out?"

".....uhm.... Ahatake..... why else do you think we all said "I'm ready"?" Ryūka asked skeptically, raising his eyebrow. Unless there was some other crisis they were concerned with, it was a ridiculous question to ask. There were no words needed to step through the portal and get on with the fight. Wasn't everyone prepared?

"Alright." Ahatake said, stepping into the Garganta and forming the now familiar ominous platform under him. He began to walk ahead, forming the road for the rest of them. He was soon follow by Megami, Miharu, and Daiyaku. Midoriko tagged along last, Kibō and his parents not far behind.

The Enemy of my Enemy[]

SNAP! Was the sound that could be heared echoing as a bone was snapped back into place. The blue-haired Arrancar's whose arm was being mended hissed. A bald Arrancar who was mending the arm seemed to enjoy the pain it was giving him.

"I should've known this would happen, whatnot with a hot-blooded brat like you." Shikaku murmured, eyes concentrated on the wound as he worked. "Maybe this was Kami's own way of delivering the punishment of disobeying our orders the first time." After the bone was set, he began to wrap bandages around it. It would have to be thickened to a point of where it would be set in a cast so that it would heal properly. He was tempted to just let it set incorrectly and disallow Grimmjow the use of his arm, but he knew that he would just be hindering Diosa's need for him.

Grimmjow snorted. "There's no such thing as Kami. Going senile, geezer?" He was itching to blast the man into Kingdom Come with a Cero, but Diosa was already in a bad mood over their recent failure, something which could be seen as attempted betrayal was not an option.

This time, Shikaku remained silent, having to bend the arm again in order to set it in the cast position. Grabbing more bandages, he fixed them in a sling to make Grimmjow's arm stay where it was: an effective cast. "I'm only thirty, you fool. Do not lump me in the same category as an elder just yet....or better yet, don't do so at all."

Diosa walked in, chuckling. "It's actually hard not to, considering how old you act." She had actually changed into a different outfit. While still maintaining an inverted Shinigami uniform, it was much less revealing, showing no cleavage whatsoever, and the only skin being shown aside from her neck and face was her hands and arms. "Shikaku, if you're close to done, I've something to tell you."

"Actually...." Shikaku said, releasing Grimmjow's arm and standing from his sitting position. "I'm already finished." His eyes couldn't help but look her over for a moment, particularly the newfound clothing that she was wearing. "And I am glad to see you've learned to retain your modesty!" He added, with a bit of mirth.

Diosa chuckled. "It's better than your nagging, is it not?" She motioned for him to follow her. "I have rather unfortunate news. This next strike on the Kurosaki's is going to have to succeed at all costs. He is rather displeased."

"I am not surprised." Shikaku answered, folding his hands behind his back. "These recent lapses in the team's assault missions are getting to be quite disappointing. In the worst case scenario, we may have to step in and quell their numbers."

"I can feel them coming here." Diosa murmured. "We're going to have to ambush them I'm sure, unless you have ideas. I'm open to any."

"I'm afraid this is where we have to resort to desperate measures." Shikaku admitted, closing his eyes. "My suggestion would be to use the temple around us as a barricade to finish them off easily. Certain parts of the structure has to be weakened, then set up so that they will collapse completely when an enemy is unfortunate to trap themselves in. Then, they'll be easy pickings. This will weaken them in the chance they get to their respective opponents, as they will be forced to expel energy in order to free themselves from the traps."

Diosa thought about it. "Alright. They're nearing us. May I leave you to it then? He needs me back up there it seems."

"For what?"

"I have no idea." Diosa replied, sighing. "It's just best to listen to him. I kind of enjoy living."

"Then let me say this here."

Abruptly, Shikaku turned on his heel, one of his hands reaching out and capturing the back of Diosa's head. He brought her face closer to his, making her look him in the eye. The gesture wasn't one of roughness, but the concern could be felt. "Please...." His voice was soft, and he spoke in the manner a father would to a daughter. "Be careful. Even I do not know where the full limitations of his mind lie. He is the type of man that can seem one way, to carry out our cause.... and the next moment, he can turn on you as naturally as a bird turns in flight. Do you understand me? Do not. trust. Takahashi."

Diosa breathed in slowly for a moment. THis sudden warning was giving her a chill. But she knew what he was getting at. "I know Shikaku." She said simply. "I know." And with that, she vanished with a Sonído, leaving the elder man to lay his "traps".

Shikaku's eyes stared at where she stood for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then, he sighed heavily, turning slowly around and beginning to walk away. It was time to prepare.

The Edge of Death[]

"We're getting real close!" Ahatake called out. The team had broken into a run, and were nearing the exit of the Garganta. He jumped bursting through the blackness, landing right into the palace, the others landing neatly or not so neatly beside him.

"Everyone alright?" Ahatake asked, not really paying attention.

"Fine as rain!" Megami confirmed, dusting herself off after she had landed on her own two feet.

"Fine so far...." muttered Ryuka.

"Yeah, we're doing great!" piped up Kyashi.


The muffled voice came from Kibō, who had been one of the unfortunate ones to land not so gracefully on the sands. He had fallen straight onto his face, which was now buried in the dunes.

Midoriko and Miharu laughed, the older Kurosaki sister pulling her fiancé out of the sand. "How ya feelin' Kibō-kun?"

"Somewhat humiliated....." The boy said in return, rubbing his face. "But otherwise, I'm fine."

Midoriko laughed again. "You'll be fine." She said, licking the last of the remaining sand off his face and helping him up.

"Wierd..." Ahatake murmured, disregarding what his daughter had done. "We seem to be in the exact same spot that we entered from the last time. He was right. They were standing in the exact "entrance" Rukia had created when they last infiltrated.


As soon as Midoriko's tongue came into contact with his face, Kibō immediately (but lightly) shoved her away. "C'mon, I know you love me, but now's not the time for that!" He protested, a bit wierded out by the girl's move. She could've just helped him dust the dirt off! What the hell was she thinking?!

Midoriko chuckled.

"Focus you two!" Ahatake snapped, not turning to pay attention to them. "This is not the part of the castle I was aiming for. I'm not sure how, but the Garganta's "course" was tampered with."

Kibō rolled his eyes, not fazed by the rather attitude-ish tone that Ahatake had given to them. "Well, tell your daughter to keep her tongue away from me next time, all right?" He fired back, his own voice showing that he truly wasn't paying attention to the situation at hand. Ryūka shook his head slowly in a manner of his disapproval before deciding to allow himself to speak up to Ahatake. The former Lieutenant folded his arms across his chest.

"Clearly, they're trying to lead us off. No one would be stupid enough to take us right to them, especially with an outside force helping us out."

"True." Ahatake agreed, taking a step into the palace. He looked around. He knew that if they proceeded ahead as they had before, they would most likely reach the same "chambers".

Rukia appeared next to Ahatake. "I know what you're thinking. It's best to head in a different direction than before."

"Yeah. I wouldn't fancy falling into the same trap as last time."

"I hate to tell you that they have more traps than just trap holes." Rukia said, sighing.


"Yes. Among them are spiked chasms, rolling boulders, and occasional "guards". However, those were only implemented when Aizen was in charge. It could be different now."

Kyashi raised an eyebrow. "Different? Who gives a crap?" She asked, throwing her hands up into the air. "The big and bad Aizen had to use primitive stuff in order to defend his palace? We can just plow through, and hopefully find some traces of where those three went!"

"Primitive traps are the most effective. You wouldn't normally expect them in a palace housing someone like Aizen with soldiers like the Arrancar. With Diosa at the head, you never know. We might need to expect Sekkiseki." Rukia said warningly. "But if you wish to plow through, feel free. We need to send someone in as "bait" anyway."

"Isn't that a bit harsh, Rukia...?" Megami asked quietly, her hand hovering slightly over her mouth. "Surely we don't need to resort to tactics such as using a human shield..."

Rukia sighed. "You're right. Sorry."

Ahatake chuckled. "So what do we do? Just run in and hope nothing happens?"

"Keep your eyes alert...." Ryūka's former soldier experience came into play as he spoke the words. "Keep your senses sharp. Be on the lookout for weak spots in the floor, cracks in the pillars, anything that could come into play as part of an ambush. Check everything before entering each room. You don't want to get careless."

"Alright makes sense." Ahatake nodded. "Anyone want to lead?"

Ryūka's lip curled, and he stared in a slightly incredulous manner at Ahatake. "Well, don't volunteer at once...." He murmured, but turned away from the man and walked briskly. He reached up with one hand, tapping the mechanical radio hooked around the ear. "This is Ryūka to Sparrowhawk, do you copy? Over."

"Loud and clear, Injiki." The Major's voice could be heard from the other end. Outside, the sounds of whirring blades could be heard. "I'm above the site of conflict and monitoring your progress. My sensors have detected another presence on the far east end of the temple, so keep on the look out."

"Is it a friend or foe?" By this time, Ryūka had reached the first door, bracing himself against it. Idly, he wondered why he had not detected the presence before the Major had reported it. Quite odd; his senses were quite sharp, and he was pretty sure the same went for the majority of the group.

"Unknown. The signature's just sitting in that spot, and I think it's been doing so ever since you've gotten here."

"Solid copy, Sparrowhawk. Out."

"Something wrong?" Rukia asked, looking over her back to face Ryūka.

"You're damn right something's wrong...." The male muttered, pressing his hand against the door. "This whole situation, as well as the people who caused it." Applying force, he slowly shoved it open and stepped inside, sword drawn and ready. "There's a single presence up ahead, but Ginji couldn't identify it as friendly or otherwise."

"Oh?" Miharu murmured. "Can't he tell if it's an Arrancar or something?"

"Doesn't matter what it is...." The Injiki answered, moving forth into the room and creeping inside. "Could be something entirely different for all we know. Now keep it tight, keep your eyes alert, and keep quiet." The final words in his tone was spoken in a low but stern tone, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. As he led, his direct family was in step behind him. Kibō was in the back, eyeing the surroundings around them. They were in a considerably wide hallway with the ceiling extremely high. Up ahead of them were several twists and turns, signifying a maze up ahead. The walls looked considerably rotten and worn-down, ready to collapse at any given moment. Some even looked like they should've collapsed already. If one looked closely, they would've seen some pillars nearly fall over, but then shift back into place. The Injiki didn't notice a thing, for the changes were far too small.

Ahatake looked around. "This place needs maintenance."

Rukia frowned, looking at the area. It was very run-down indeed. "I'm getting a chill from being here..."

The words made Ryūka scowl slightly, his eyes darting to the corner of his sockets. "I just said to--"

However, the whispering and harsh tone was immediately cut off when he saw a white, head-sized orb jut up from the ground in front of him.

Normally, he would've just stared at it in an odd manner and asked his comrades what it was. However, his spiritual senses picked up something within the glowing sphere. The energy was showing instability within itself, the innards pushing against the surface it was buried in. His heart sank with realization and apprehension, as he saw several more rise up from the ground and surround the entire group. His pupils shrank, and his teeth gritted in a feral snarl to express fear and shock. He dropped to the ground on his stomach, shouting out two words.



The bombs instantly exploded, and his world was surrounded in a vision of bright light. He felt his body being riddled with shocks of unknown origin, but little to no pain. He could only hope everyone had reacted in time...

Miharu was shocked at the sudden explosion, and she had not been able to get down. Luckily, Daiyaku pulled her down with him, and they, as well as the rest of the group only received the same minor effects that Ryūka had.

"D-don't tell me those were voice activated?" Miharu gasped.

"Who cares?!" Kibō snapped. "Let's get out of her before more of them blow the crap out of us!!" Immediately, he summoned his spiritual energy to him in order to perform a Shunpo...

...and was greeted by another tazer-like feeling across the body. "G...gaaaah!!!!" He screamed, nearly collapsing back onto the ground as he struggled to get up. "What the hell?! I can't use Flash Step!!!!" Possibly unknown to the rest of them, it was the same. The bombs had not been designed to simply disorient them, but rip away and limit their chances of escaping. That was something proving to be a lethal weakness. As the brown-haired boy looked around, he saw the entire area starting to collapse around them. ROcks and debris were falling around them, and fear was creeping into his heart.

"Forget it kid, we need to get out of here! MOVE!!!" Ryūka shouted, immediately pumping himself into a run. Kyashi (who too had been startled by the blast) immediately followed after him, her breaths gasping and showing the effects of the bombs.

Ahatake, while running, held up a hand at the falling rocks. It crackled red, but nothing happened.

"What the.." He hissed, quickly moving to dodge a particularly large rock. "I can't use my Cero!"

"That knocks that option out." Midoriko murmured to herself. She had just been thinking about Hollowfying.

"Injiki?! What's going on in there?!" The alarmed voice of the Major crackled to life in Ryūka's earpiece. "Your sector's collapsing completely to the ground!!"

"We fell into some kind of neutralizing trap!" The man shouted back, even as he ran through the maze of hallways. "It must've set off a chain reaction and disrupted the foundation of the building. We're trying to find the exit out of this place!!!" Before he said "Over", however, he did a double-take on Ginji's words. "And just what do you mean by our sector?!"

"I mean exactly that! The area you're in and approaching is the only thing that's falling apart! The rest of it's staying in place!"

"How the shit does that happen?!" Kibō exclaimed incredulously.

"Um...would my Zanpakutō be of any use here?" Miharu asked loudly to no one in particular. "It doesn't really have any limits, so maybe it could be of use?"

"Don't risk it! They knew we were coming, they probably know about--"


The ceiling in front of an exit they were reaching promptly collapsed, sealing it within dozens of rock and concrete. Immediately (and almost in a drunken manner), the Injiki family turned around and went back through another hallway. "Keep moving, GO, GO, GO!!!" Kyashi shouted urgently in order to keep the Kurosaki family up and moving.

They had no problem with this, following quickly. Even without Hōhō, the group was fast enough. The only problem was with the area caving in, they were beginning to run like rats in a maze.

"There has got to be something!" Miharu thought as she followed her family.

"Open door up ahead!!" Ryūka shouted. "Looks like it leads right into the throne room!!! Come on!!!"

As they ran the long and collapsing hallway, Ginji's voice once again came into play. "You're headed straight for that foreign signature!! Be advised that the rest of the building is starting to collapse behind you!! That's the only part remaining intact so far!!!"

Ahatake looked up. He was beginning to feel the spiritual energy Ryūka had mentioned just a few minutes earlier. And it definitely felt Hollow.

One foot in the door.

Another explosion was triggered, this time seemingly from out of thin air. The shockwave hit their backs, disrupting their thought process and flinging them into the room. Ryūka's world blacked out as he hit the ground, but his ears managed to catch the sounds of his comrades also hitting the floor beside him. Behind him, large rocks collapsed in front of the door, sealing them from exiting back out through it. He couldn't feel a thing, his entire body numbed for some reason. He was hearing nothing but complete silence, the crumbling of the facility having been shut out.

Slowly, his eyes re-opened and focused, his head slowly craning upwards.

Kyashi had been blown a few feet ahead of them, being the first to rise. However, even she was having difficulty keeping on her feet. Some unknown force, the same thing that seemed to be keeping everyone else pinned down, was dragging on her, making her hunched over as she staggered towards the rest of the group. "C'mon...!!" She managed to gasp weakly. "Get up! We have to keep mo--"

The next moment, his heart stopped completely.

He never saw the blade that was accelerating towards her back, nor did he hear the whirr of its steel cleaving through the air. However, he did see it punch through her chest, blood covering the body completely. He saw her pupils shrink out of shock, her mouth slightly agape, and her head lower to stare at the blade with dumbfounded eyes. He saw her fall to her knees, hands gripping the cutting edges of the sword in an attempt to grasp what had happened into her mind. He felt his heart seep with several emotions - horror, grief, and anger.

And he did hear a chilling voice.

"Is it that time again?"

The ones who had heard it before would recognize it. Shikaku.


Every head turned to see a balding man in his late thirties, walking up behind the blonde woman. Midoriko was quivering with rage. Kyashi's chest had just been pierced, Kyashi was on her knees bleeding. And this man was the cause of it.

Midoriko wasn't the only one.

Kibō, witnessing everything take place, was looking on with stricken eyes. His fingers tightened against the ground, and his body was screaming at him to move it and attack. But for some reason, he couldn't move! What in the hell was paralyzing him against the ground?! What was this guy doing to them?!

Shikaku now stood directly behind Kyashi, placing a hand on her shoulder and the other of the hilt of his thrown sword. "To have to deal with you brats again? I see no reason for Master to deem you such a threat to us if you fall for such traps over and over again...." He mused. "You should've did the smart thing and divert yourself away from the temple. But even former members of the Gotei 13 had to take such stupid measures.... you really are all children, aren't you?"

"Take your shit-covered hand off my wife...." Ryūka snarled, struggling vainly to push himself up. All the meanwhile, he was staring with venom at the Arrancar.

Midoriko had her hand on the hilt of her blade. The moment she could feel his guard letting down, she was going in.

Ahatake eyed the Arrancar warily. For them not to have sensed this man before Ryūka pointed it out. Just how strong was he?

Shikaku smiled wryly. "It's a shame it had to end like this. But, rest assured, I'll kill you all quickly. Even as we speak, this woman feels no pain because the life is slipping from her too fast. How would you prefer to die? Decapitation? A broken neck? Short and painless is the only options I go for. I don't prefer to see anyone suffer...." With one good tug, he yanked the blade out of Kyashi's chest. Her wavering eyes went blank, and she collapsed to the ground like a lifeless doll.

And Midoriko snapped. The sight of Kyashi falling repeated itself in her mind's eye. She drew her blade, and launched herself towards Shikaku. Her blade gleamed as she pointed it towards him, aiming to pierce his neck.

It was an attack in vain.

She collapsed from the effort, and Shikaku rolled his eyes. "It's useless to try to free yourself, girl. You're in my territory.... why do you think your leader friends can't get up from their positions?" With one hand, he grasped her neck and lifted her up in the air. "It was quite an effort holding this building up, tracking your progress, and manipulating the temple's destruction so that you could come straight to me.... but, I think it was worth it in the end. For you, I believe a broken neck is in order...." He placed both hands onto the designated area.

Midoriko couldn't move. She hissed. "B-bastard!"

"Onē-chan!" Miharu thought, trying to get up and over there.

"Dammit!" Ahatake hissed, his eyes Hollowfying as they always did when he was frustrated.

It was all so hopeless. "M....Midoriko....!!!" Kibō called out weakly, trying desperately to get up. No.... this couldn't happen! First his mother, and now his lover?! This couldn't happen!! He had to do something!! But the pressure was too much!! It was driving him insane, to feel so helpless!! He felt like breaking down right then and there, to cry his eyes out as if that would remedy a thing. Of course, it would not prevent their deaths. He closed his eyes, the liquid brimming...

Then the unthinkable happened.

The nearest wall exploded inward, and Shikaku abruptly re-coiled away from it, his hands releasing Midoriko in the process. A spotlight was shined onto the area, more particularly on the Arrancar. "Guns, guns, guns!!!" Ginji's voice called out. Within seconds, a horrifying, mechanical whirring sound could be heard. Not soon after that, bullets began unleashing themselves onto the man in a constant downpour. Losing his concentration on the room as well as the pressure exerted on them, Shikaku was forced to flee from his spot, running deeper into the temple under the gunfire.

Quickly!!!" The entire temple's collapsing, get out of there now!!!"

Ahatake and the others quickly got to their feet. Running over to his daughter, Ahatake helped her up before returning to his group.

As soon as he felt the pressure let up on him, Ryūka's legs immediately tore away from the group and ran towards Kyashi's body. All else had been lost from his mind - Shikaku, the group that was with him.... none of it mattered. He stopped as soon as he neared her, grasping her body and scooping her up in his arms. Then, he raced towards the exit, not needing to look back to know that everyone would be following close behind.

Everyone managed to escape out into the dunes of Hueco Mundo, and Midoriko was silent, looking at the body of Kyashi. She looked at Megami. "Keibo, you're good at healing, aren't you? Can't you heal Kyashi?"

Megami had remained silent throughout the situation, her past experiences as a Gotei 13 member having shut her emotions out. Now, however, she was staring at the body of Kyashi as Ryūka brought her within touching distance, his own eyes bleak and pleading. She simply grabbed one of the blonde's hands and held it to her cheek. "'s no good. I can't feel her pulse." She spoke sadly, her own eyes grieving. "She flatlined long ago when that man had pulled the sword from her body.I'm sorry.... but there's nothing I can do."

Midoriko collapsed flat on her behind, shocked. Kyashi, her mentor, was dead.

Miharu wasn't able to say much of anything at this point. She had never seen someone close to her or the family die. She didn't really know what to say.

Ahatake sighed. "Well...she can be brought back..." He said slowly. "But we'll have to wait until we finish here. Unless one of you wants to leave Hueco Mundo to go to the World of the Living and find my sister."

"She should've died long ago when Midoriko had killed her off so many years back...." Ryūka stated dully, looking down on his dead wife. "....and I should've died long ago by your hand. It has to be like this." He shut his eyes, unable to say anymore. If he did, he would've simply started showing tears. He had to be strong for them. He had to!

Kibō wasn't thinking along the same lines.

He too had sat down on the ground beside Midoriko, his head buried within his arms that were resting on his knees. It was the signature "depressed" position, the complete expression of the melancholy he felt at the moment. His mother had been killed in front of his very eyes, and had been unable to avenge her. Tears were flowing freely down his eyes, his mind unable to handle the tragedy. It was a good thing that no one could see them due to his bowed head. He didn't need people laughing at him for being a man and yet crying.

"This...this can't be happening..." Midoriko muttered. Her eyes were wide, and she looked rather insane. Feelings of mixed hatred and sadness were flowing through her right now. "When I find him... I'm going to rip him into pieces..."

Miharu backed away from her sister. She had never quite seen her like this before.

"Are we still going through with this Injiki?" Ahatake asked, blocking back memories of his and Ryūka's last battle that the former Lieutenant had conjured up.

"Definitely." Ryūka opened his eyes once more, allowing them to narrow darkly. "Once we bury Kyashi, we're going straight after them. They're all gonna die." He vowed, a mixture of venom and determination shining within his irises.

Ahatake grinned, his Hollowfied eyes widening slightly. "I'll be more than happy to help you tear up in there."

"Too right...." Ryūka said in return, knowing that Ahatake would be there to help him in his desire for vengeance. As he looked towards his own son, he slowly set Kyashi onto the sandy dunes and walked away from her. His footsteps were light, and his gait was slow as he approached Kibō. Then, when he was within reach of the boy, he did the unthinkable. His calm gait immediately shifted to a more aggressive one, and his hands viciously gripped his shoulders in order to snap him to attention. "Stop that crying RIGHT now, boy!!!" He snarled, not bothering to hide the anger anymore. "I didn't raise you to be a baby, did I?!"

"B-but Mom's--" Kibō began to say, but was abruptly cut off.

"She's dead, Kibou! She's DEAD!!!" Ryūka shouted, shaking him violently. "Your tears AREN'T going to change anything!!" Roughly, he released the boy (who was now staring at him with a scared expression) and fixed a rather intimidating glare. It showed vengeance, venom, and even cracks of grief. "You want to do something?! Quit blubbering like a fucking baby and help us kill these sons of bitches."

Midoriko hissed for a second, standing up. "Injiki does have a point." She said quietly. Sitting here and crying wasn't going to do anything. They needed action.

"So, what do we now?" Rukia asked. She had been quiet the whole time, but they had to get this started. The longer they waited, the more time the enemy had to either make a break for it or concoct a plan. They needed to strike while the iron was hot.

The Injiki didn't answer her question directly. Instead, he raised his hand up to his earpiece again. "Major." He spoke, his tone losing its anger. "I heard that one of your men had placed some sort of tracker on the female leader. Is it still active?"

"Yes..... surprisingly, it hasn't been discovered as of yet. I can bring up the coordinates on where she is if you desire to go after her."

Ryuka nodded. "Kibō, you're too much of a burden right now. I want you to go and bury your mother, say a few last words, then come back after us when you've re-composed yourself..." He ordered calmly, not bothering to look back at the boy. Shakily, Kibō nodded, allowing himself to stand up. "The rest of us.... we up for going after them and ending this once and for all?"

Midoriko nodded, her expression determined.

"Ryūseiga's growing impatient anyway." Ahatake said, looking at his sword.

"I'm ready whenever you are." Rukia replied.

"I've been ready since this morning." Daiyaku said, grinning.

Miharu nodded as silently as Midoriko, her blade clutched in her hand. It was showtime.

It was what he hoped to be their final run. Ryūka turned to look at his companions' determined looks. A pleased grin slowly crept on to his face. "Well, Major....? We're all ready and set down here. Lead us to our enemy, and we'll do the rest." He ordered.

"Roger that." After that statement, the vehicle that the Major had been piloting was now lowered and could fully be seen. It was a fighter-sized, hawk-like vehicle that was a cross between a jet and a helicoper. Protected rotors were on the sides, and mounted machine guns were in the front of the cockpit. After sighting them out for a few moments, the fighter turned around and made a beeline in a seemingly random direction. "Follow me!"

Unforseen Consequences[]

Diosa was silent. She was looking from a distance over the remains of the destroyed Palace. Such a pity. She didn't know that Shikaku's traps were going to take that much of toll. But then, the Palace had been around for a few centuries. It was old. But, that had forced even him to take refuge out of the Palace. Exactly where he went, Diosa didn't know. But she was certain of one thing. He wasn't too pleased. Diosa turned around.

"Shikaku's coming."

A static sound.

Shikaku re-appeared in front of her, clutching his side. The hand covering it was stained in red. His face was covered in sweat, and he was breathing heavily. "D...diosa...." He managed to gasp, shuffling towards her. The reason of his wounds was because of the very fire that Ginji had unleashed on him. Though in pain, his expression was regretful and shamed. "Forgive me.... I failed to eliminate them.... I failed to see everything beforehand.... I had them in my clutches, and yet they were saved by only a miracle.... damn those brats....!!!"

Diosa was surprised to see Shikaku in his current state, but she quickly composed herself. "I see. That explains the large group of energy I'm sensing. They're on their way here." She looked out over the sand dunes. "You tried, and they are weakened. I believe it is time to send in their opponents, do you not agree?"

Shikaku managed a nod. "Agreed. But be wary. They will not be the only ones participating in this fight. There is an aerial vehicle manned by one of the Yurei soldiers. He's the one that wounded me."

"Yes, that's true. But, if I know these people, and I do, they'll be wanting to keep their opponents to themselves. To them, their opponents are like prey. They won't approve of another predator taking their kill. It's how they, the Kurosaki's at least, work. I felt a spiritual pressure disappear sometime back. Am I to assume you killed one?"

"That's right...."

Diosa's normally blank expression turned into a smile. "Excellence. If this plays out right, the rage of losing one of their own will drive the one closest to them straight to me." Her smile widened. "And I'll be waiting to send them to into Hell." She snapped her fingers, and Dordoni, Alita, Grimmjow, and Aaroniero (wearing Kaien's face) appeared next to her. "You all already know what to do. You can feel their energy. GO!"

Silently, though one could hear Grimmjow grumbling, they took off, heading towards the rushing spiritual signals.

The Major was the first to pick them up, slowing his vehicle. "Get ready!" He called out to the team below. "I'm detecting four signatures heading your way! Looks like they've decided to pull out all the stops this time! Pick your opponent and go to town! I'll keeping monitoring the situations as it unfolds! Good luck!"

It was time for the fun to begin. The party split, each one heading towards their opponent. Miharu was on her own now that Kyashi was KIA. Dordoni headed towards her, dropping down with an axe kick, which she blocked by turning Kyumu into a shield.

Daiyaku figured Ryūka would be headed for a different opponent now and he took off towards Alita, who turned to see him coming. Covering himself in his lighting aura, Alita drew her blade, turning to face him. Blade and fist collided, causing an explosion.

Two opponent who were already thinking alike were Midoriko and Grimmjow. Each headed towards the other, their murderous intent could be felt.

"Yo Rukia." Ahatake called to her as they ran. "I'm changing plans, Can I leave Aaroniero to you? I'm going to fight with Ryūka. Pretty sure I know who he wants to kill."

Rukia smiled. "Go ahead. I can handle him." She turned to head towards Aaroniero.

"Excellent." Ahatake vanished with Sonído, appearing next to Injiki. "Yo."

Ryūka himself was heading past his allies and opponents, his gaze not turning towards Ahatake even as he ran. "Ahatake...." He murmured in acknowledgement. "I would've preferred this to be a fight on my own accord. I understand you want to help me, but this is something I have to do on my own."

"Don't forget, there are two opponents waiting there Ryūka." Ahatake replied. You can have the baldy if you want. But do you think you're gonna handle two opponents by yourself? I'm your friend, and I seem to recall promising you I'd help you tear up."

"Him?" Ryūka's lip curled in agitation. "I'm not after him. He may have killed my wife with his hands and no one else's. But as far as I'm concerned, he's nothing but a pawn, a puppet led on by the manipulation of a few strings by the leader. The puppetmaster.... that bitch Diosa..... she must die!" His voice was filled with venom, despite the calm and composed manner he was expressing.

Ahatake chuckled. "Alright. But my point still stands. There are two of them. I'm going in with you. I won't interfere with your fight with Diosa, but I am going in with you." His eyes were already Hollowfying in anicipation.

Ryūka's sword clicked, and he smiled dangerously. "Don't die on me. I still have yet to pay you back for killing me." He reminded in good nature.

Ahatake chuckled. "I look forward to it."

Diosa smiled as a gust of wind swept through Hueco Mundo. Her hair blew in her face and she brushed it away. "Feel that, Shikaku? There are two on their way. The murderous intent of one is obvious."

"My wound is going to be a hinderance...." Shikaku muttered disgustedly, still gripping his wounded side. "I'll destroy that child's toy plane the moment I lay eyes on it...." His eyes averted themselves towards the two presences as they approached. "I will be forced to use my Resurrecion at a time sooner than I would have liked...."

"I look forward to seeing that." Diosa said, keeping her eyes in front of her. "And. Here. They. Are."

Ahatake and Ryūka landed on the sand just a ways in front of the Arrancar pair. "Got here quicker than I thought." Ahatake said casually.

"Diosa, I swear to God you will die....." Ryūka said vehemently, leveling his blade to point the tip at the woman. His eyes were narrowed dangerously, and his hand gripped the sword in what seemed like a mixture of excitement and hatred. The murderous intent was clear.

"I didn't know Shinigmai had gods." Diosa replied, smiling. This was the one where the murderous intent was leaking from. "It will be interesting to see if it hears your wishes."

Ahatake looked over at Shikaku. So, he got the baldy with glasses. Should be fun.

"It seems that you haven't learned from your mistakes yet, boy...." Shikaku murmured, reaching into his sleeve. "This time, I'll be sure to kill you." Slowly, he drew out his sword, doing his best to ignore the pain within his wound. He had his own battle to worry about. Yet, he couldn't shake off the feeling that there was something amiss. It wasn't his wound, either.... what was it?

"Kill me?" Ahatake repeated, placing a hand over his face. "I'll beat you down before you get the chance!" Donning his Hollow Mask, he began to exude truly foul spiritual energy and vanished with a Sonído, appearing in front of Shikaku. He brought his fist forward to meet the Arrancar's face.

"If you want to kill me, then come." Diosa said, raising her scythe. "I'll show you the doorway into Hell."

Ryūka smiled wryly. "Looking forward to it, bitch. Give my regards to the devil if you get there first." With that, he kicked himself into a Shunpo, his spiritual motors taking him to the front of his opponent. With gritted teeth and a grunt, he executed his first move: a two-handed overhead strike. If Diosa chose to block, he would abruptly switch tactics to strike with one-handed, quick thrusts and swipes.

Shikaku brought his sword up to meet Ahatake's fist, his blade cutting through the hand with a wound dependant on the force that Ahatake used. He made the wound even deeper, swinging his sword to shove the man away before launching into a counter-attacking using his own barrage of sword strikes. Because of the little distance between them and the fact that he had chosen to attack an armed opponent barehanded, he doubted there would be little time for an effective counter-attack.

Ahatake, despite his wounded hand, was able to side-step each strike successfully, some of them barely missing him. As he moved, he focused a bit his attention to his wound, and it healed. Self-regeneration was an excellent Hollow power to have. He jumped into the air, and launched a powerful Cero from his hand.

Diosa jumped back, skidding along the ground to gain some distance from Ryūka. She raised her scythe, and it's curved blade straightened. Like Ahatake had to Shikaku, she fired a Cero, hers was white.

Both men reacted in their own way.

Shikaku raised his own hand to Ahatake, summoning the power of his own Cero. It wasn't unique, and therefore had the standard rose red of the common Hollow. But his own immense power would ensure an effective defense against the other Cero. He launched it, the projection colliding with his enemy's.

Ryūka smirked wryly. "Running away, you little whore?" He taunted, extending his own hand out. It was due to his own strength and durability that he was capable of pulling off such a feat. He stopped the Cero in its tracks with the bare skin of his palm, dispelling it by squeezing his fingers together.

Diosa vanished in a flash of white light. She appeared behind Ryūka, her scythe at his neck. "If you miss your dead comrade so much, I can help you join her." The blade pressed into his skin.

Ahatake growled as the two cero's collided. "Challenging me in a battle of Cero? To do something like that is to lose before you've even begun!" He poured additional power into his Cero, and the crimson blast grew in size and began to swallow up Shikaku's.

Meanwhile, the other fights between the Kurosaki family and their opponents were going on. Miharu was fighting hard against Dordoni, and seemed to be holding her own. She was currently wielding a heavy club, though she was swinging it with one hand. Dordoni dashed towards her, kicking out, only to have his blow blocked by the club Miharu was weilding. The force of his blow however, forced her back. She panted as she skidded along the ground.

"Arrancar. You were an Espada right?" Miharu asked, breathing slowly. "Why do you fight for Diosa? How does it benefit you at all?"

Dordoni looked at her curiously for a moment. Then he decided to answer. "You are right, niña. I was once an Espada in Aizen-dono's army. Then I was demoted to a Privaron Espada. However, those who have stood at the top, never forget the view. With your defeat, niña, I shall finally stand atop that pedestal again. And I will never step back down."

"He's fighting for power.." Miharu thought, holding up her weapon. It began to glow pink, and merge with her arm. Crackling noises could be heard and she was seen wielding a large claw. Swinging it, she let loose blasts of energy towards Dordoni in the shape of those claws. He kicked them down into the ground, leaving a large "crater" in the sand.


"She wasn't my comrade!"

With that statement, Ryūka used a free hand to grasp the handle of the scythe. Then, he shifted his weight forward, hoisting Diosa over his back. She was thrown to the ground in front of him on her back, leaving her temporarily vulnerable to his attack. Hand still gripping her weapon, the Injiki pointed his blade at her chest and thrust.

"I guess direct confrontation won't help this time...."

Shikaku changed tactics. He re-directed his energy flow, concentrating the unleashed energy into a smaller, yet more potent form. As a result, his blast went through Ahatake's and disrupted its natural flow. With no opposition left, it raced straight towards its target.

Ahatake dodged it, the blast flying right by him. He formed a large, red and black orb in his hand. "Esfera Cero." He called out the attacks name and threw it at Shikaku.

Only momentarily stunned, Diosa vanished with a flash of white light, just as the blade as made contact with her chest. She reappeared above Ryūka, and there was a mark on her chest showing that the blade would have pierced even her Hierro had she not moved.

"He's determined, I'll give him that. But this is a matter of life and death. If I don't dispose of this man, as well as the rest, he'll have my head." She burst down towards Ryūka with a Sonído, swinging her blade down in a manner similar to the appearance of "reaping".

Shikaku mirrored Ahatake, running off in order to avoid being disintegrated. However, he winced at the pain of his wounds. Slowly, it was healing due to the semi-enhanced regeneration of his own accord. But it needed some time! And he was limited on energy thanks to the other encounter.... he had to conserve power as much as possible.

Ryūka turned his head up to glare at the woman, twisting his body around to allow his sword to cross paths with her blade again. He had to grip the hilt with both hands in order to keep her from cutting through his defense. As they met face-to-face, his narrowed eyes and gritted teeth met her own. "Nothing's gonna stop me from avenging her, even if it costs me my own life!" He hissed.

"And it will." Diosa said confidently. She pushed him away. "But, if you're so intent on avenging this 'her', it would be an insult to hold back against you."

The ball Shikaku dodged hit the ground.

And exploded in a blinding red flash, annihilating much of the sandy ground it hit, but luckily, the explosion didn't reach them.

"What's wrong geezer?" Ahatake asked in a tone shocking similar to Grimmjow's. "Old age catching up to you?" This from the man who was nearing 217.

Shikaku smiled wryly. "Your friend was fortunate enough to injure me and keep me from using my full strength against you. You should be feeling quite lucky, boy.... at least for the moment." He retorted, raising himself in a defensive stance. His eyes were directed towards the airborne Ahatake, studying and observant. "But you'll learn your lesson soon yet. They always do...."

Ryūka skidded back, standing back up in a flash and readying himself. However, his head tilted to the side, his scowl becoming lop-sided. "You gonna show me your Resurrecion already?"

"You see, I have a schedule to keep and a boss who can get rather impatient." Diosa explained. "It's best to finish you now." She gripped her scythe.

"Let the blood wash away your sins, Nigromante!" Purple and black spiritual energy began to rise and envelop her, forming into a skull. An ominous feel could be felt from all over the area.

Rukia looked over in the direction of Diosa's spiritual signature. "She's releasing already?!" Suddenly, a blade came into contact with her skin, and the pain alerted her to the attack and allowed her to jump back, but not before the blade had pierced her slightly.

"What's wrong Rukia?" Aarroniero asked mockingly. "It's not like you to get so distracted."

"Aarroniero." Rukia held up her blade and began to make puncture holes in the ground. Raising her blade up, she took a stance.

"No this time." Aaroniero launched a Bala at Rukia, who was forced to dodge since her attack wouldn't have fired in time. Aarroniero was defintely stronger than the first time they had done battle. He had been stronger than her then, but now the gap was more apparent. Would she actually have to fight fully?

Diosa Ressurecion

Diosa's Ressurección

A black scythe cut through the skull, forcing the energy to crash down. Diosa emerged, her skin was pale, eyes golden, and her hair had become long and black, and held up in twin braids that merge at the back, forming a "hook". Her attire changed into a long, flowing black dress with black high heels. She was wearing long gloves with extended fingers, wand was gripping her new weapon, a solid black scythe with ridges resembling those of a bone, most notably the spinal column. She resembled a female Grim Repeaer, minus the hood.

"Cute...." Ryuka muttered, readying himself. However, he did take note of the increase in spiritual energy. But he sure wasn't going to allow himself to be fazed in front of what he considered to be his worst enemy yet. "But a new dress ain't going to save your life."

"And annoying little quips won't save yours." Diosa countered. She raised her hand, pointing a finger at Ryūka. She charged a small, black, transparent ball in front of her finger.

"Cero Espíritu." The ball expanded into a blast of dark, transparent energy that flew towards Ryūka, churning up sand as it flew.

Ahatake landed on the ground, looking at Shikaku. So he was wounded. Pity. Killing an opponent was injured prior to battle was no fun.


Immediately, Ryūka took to the air, barely managing to avoid being hit by the Cero as it swept forth underneath him. His upper lip curled, and he raised one hand to shield himself from the winds. So far, an enhanced Cero had been recognized as part of her abilities. But it was all too clear that this wasn't a power-type alone. He could feel the energy within....

Shikaku remained silent, watching for a moment as Ahatake landed on the ground. Then, he averted his eyes for a second to stare over at Diosa as she fought the former Lieutenant. Again, that feeling came up.... what was going on here?!

Diosa vanished, this time in a dark flash, and appeared behind Ryūka, firing another Cero, quicker this time with no charge, at the former Lieutenant.

Ahatake saw Shikaku avert his attention. "An opening." He launched a blast similar to a Bala - and with all the speed - at Shikaku.


Eyes widening in shock, Ryūka had no time to turn around in order to counter it. He was forced to evade yet again, this time using a Flash Step to carry his paralyzed body out of danger. The difficulty of evading her was increasing considerably. It appeared that he wouldn't be able to take his time and think slowly anymore. He had to act! As soon as he re-appeared, he twirled his body around and dived downward at Diosa, sword ready.

The elder man's reflexes were quick. With a side-step, he avoided being hit by the attack. "A Bala? Don't make me laugh." He taunted, burying his sword within the ground. "But I suppose I can return the favor...." The ground underneath Ahatake crumbled and erupted, giving birth to multiple Bala blasts of his own.

Diosa sidestep, the blade slicing into her as she dodged. Jumping back, she frowned. She had managed to avoid getting hit, but the man's strength was something to be able to cut even her Hierro. She frowned. She launched a small, enhanced green Bala at Ryūka.

Ahatake looked down at the ground, surprised to see the Bala that came shooting at him. They hit their mark, hammering him like mallets. One hit him straight in the face, damaging the right portion of his mask.


While he looked down at the Bala, Shikaku took that opportunity to fight close-quarters.

Using a Sonido to close the distance, the Arrancar appeared slightly above his opponent and descending. But it was only for a few seconds that he was in the air. He thrust his leg out, catching Ahatake in the face with his sandaled foot in order to maximize the damage made to both his face and mask. The force would be enough to send him a considerable distance away.

Keeping the pressure on her was necessary.

She was being forced into a retreat, courtesy of his relentless attacking. Ryūka kept his aggressive pace, charging in to stop her from firing her Cero. She seemed to be sticking to long-range combat often in order to keep him at bay. If he could just wear her down, he could easily finish her off without having to release. He gritted his teeth under his mouth, zipping at her while avoiding the single Bala shot his way.

Catching himself in midair, Ahatake quickly placed a hand over his face, regenerating his broken mask. He jumped back as Shikaku moved forward to allow him to draw his blade. The metal gleamed in the moonlight. Raising it, the blade caught fire. Ahatake grinned, swinging the blade. Flames shot from it, bending to Ahatake's will and taking the form of knives.

Diosa charged in towards him, raising her scythe. As she neared him, she swung, her eyes gleaming, the only part of her showing how much she wanted to kill him.

In dependence of the direction was swinging at, Ryūka switched his sword to the other hand. Using his newly freed hand, he caught the scythe once more before the blade could cut into his flesh. With his strength, he pulled her closer to him: a cruel pleasure, being close to a woman. But it was far from his mind now. He maneuvered himself behind her, grasping her midsection with both of her arms. In a move that would've seemed suicidal to anyone else, he dived down towards the ground like a hawk, her in his grip like a helpless mouse...


They plummeted into the ground below.

But, Ryūka knew what he was doing. He would be unharmed by this, but the opponent's head and upper body would be severely damaged. The sand would cushion the impact somewhat, but the overall shock would be just as effective.

Shikaku collided swords with Ahatake once more. However, he was now wary of the flames that would threaten to consume him if they made contact with his flesh. One solid cut would be needed to take him down... and he couldn't have that.

Out of nowhere, a body hit the sand, kicking up a cloud of it. It was Alita, who got up slowly. She had already entered her Ressureción, and was looking up at Daiyaku, who had activated the Ōnaminagre III just to battle her. He looked down at her as she got up.

"I could have sworn that knocked you out." He said, venom in his voice. The wind swept his long hair to the side as he descended to the ground. He took a stance.

"Don't get too cocky." Alita replied harshly. She swung her blade in a straight line, which caused a line to form in the arc her sword had been swung.

"Luz Fecha."

The line shattered, forming powerful and fast needles which shot at Daiyaku like missiles. He expanded the aura that was around him, using it as an electric shield. Vanishing, he appeared in front of her, punching her right in the face and causing her to fly forwards.

She caught herself, and jumped up. Floating above Daiyaku, she lifted her shield up.

"Cascada." From the shield poured a massived, crushing amount of water that fell down straight towards Daiyaku. If he got hit by this, he'd be crushed.

Diosa was still for a moment. No movement whatsoever. It seemed as if she was dead. However, she began to glow white and teleported once again, this time appearing quite a ways behind Ryūka. The durability of her skin was truly amazing. Blood was dripping down her forehead, and she looked dizzy, but she seemed unscathed otherwise.

"Alright." Diosa murmured. "I'm beginning to grow tired of this." Her blade began to glow a bright white. "I wasn't going to bother with this, but it seems I haven't a choice." She slashed her blade in the air, it was quiet for a moment. Then a gate began to rise up.


Immediately, Ryūka turned his gaze to the newly created gate. "What is this....?" He thought to himself, thinking back. It was similar to the summoning of Hell's Gate. But, surely Diosa didn't have the power to do that! He braced himself, settling into a defensive stance and waiting for the attack to finish.

"Welcome." She said dramatically. "To the gates of Hell!" The Gate had risen fully, and it towered over them all. Even Ahatake made the mistake of looking over.

"No way." He thought as the Gate rose up. "That can't be Hell!"

It was a mistake that Shikaku didn't allow himself to pass up.

He used a Sonido to bring himself directly to his opponent, his sword already thrust out. Like a snake, it struck, the blade ripping through the chest with its lunge. As quick as it thrust out, it was pulled back towards Shikaku. The attack was quick.... but the effects were damaging. It had hit the dead center, missing the heart. It was a deep wound.... but not a mortal one. However, the Arrancar was eager to change that. His blade rose again in a smooth motion, swinging down upon Ahatake's head.

Ryūka stared on at the gate in slight disbelief, sword lowered at his side. A chilling feeling swept across him - the closest thing that he would feel to fear. Slight beads of sweat were dropping down his face, yet he remained firm. "Isn't it a bit too early to be leaving for your doom just yet?" He taunted, his gaze switching to the woman.

The pain had signaled Ahatake to his opponent's attack. Despite his wound (he'd had much worse), he moved with great speed, moving to the side away from the blade, and then back towards Shikaku to slash him up with the flaming blade.

"My doom?" Diosa repeated. "You wish. My Zanpakutō's power is Nigromante, which allows me to travel to and from Hell, bringing back deceased souls as I wish. However, I can also cast people into the Gates of Hell. You will be the next "guest"."

Ryūka scowled, his teeth gritted. "Not before I take you with me!" He emphasized this with a downward chop of his sword, his body tensing once more.

Shikaku leaned back, barely missing being cut down by the other man's blade. "I think it's better for you to pay attention to me, boy!" He jeered. "Your friend will die soon, anyway!"

Ahatake appeared behind him with Sonído. "I'll make sure you're there first." He said ominously, swinging his flaming blade down.

Diosa tapped her scythe against the Gate, which began to creek open. It revealed a swirling mass of red, and laughter could be heard. "Take me with you?" She repeated again. "I've been there boy." The Gate swung open, and, as it was intended for offensive purposes, began to suck in everything in front of it like a large vacuum.

A sneer came across the Injiki's face, even as the winds began to pick up against him. "Then I'll be sure to make your next trip fitting of Hell's name." He vowed, stabbing his sword into the ground and crouching low. However, he soon found out that it was going to be much more difficult than simply rooting himself in the ground. The sand was difficult, as it was not hooked into anything itself. Therefore, he found it a struggle just to keep in one place.

Diosa simply aimed a Bala at his sword, aiming to destroy it.

It didn't happen.

However, the blade did get unearthed from his position, forcing it out of the dirt and making the Injiki fall onto his back. His eyes widened in shock as he attempted to fight for a hold, hands gripping futilely at the sands. "Shit!" He mentally cursed. This was getting bad....

"I suppose this would be my time to reveal my own power."

Immediately, Shikaku sidestepped the attack, using a Sonido to get away from the man. He re-appeared a few ways off, his sword leveled in a slightly downward, but horizontal position at his side. The tip was pointing away from him. "It's time I revealed myself, boy. This has gone on for far too long." With that, he pointed the tip at Ahatake. "Shine With The Blood of My Enemy!!! GARRA!!!" All of his energy burst forth from his body in the form of a massive tornado, seemingly enveloping every fighter within the premisis. Its power could be felt for miles, particularly within the other group.

"What the hell is this?" Ahatake thought as he was sucked into the tornado.

"Dammit! What does Shikaku think he's doing?!" Diosa hissed inside her head as she was also sucked in.

Rukia was panting, and bleeding. Aaroniero really was beginning to get the advantage. Then, she shuddered for a moment. What was this power she felt?

Aaroniero didn't let Rukia's second mistake go to waste. Swinging his blade, she shot a bullet of water that slammed right into her gut. She gasped for a moment, and was forced back, skidding along the sand. She got up, picking up her blade.

"Aaroniero, it appears I have friends that are in trouble. I'm going to end this. Now." Rukia said harshly, holding her blade towards the ground.

"How do you expect to manage that Rukia?" Aaroniero asked. "But, if you are in such a hurry to die, I'll help you along." He pulled his glove off of his hand, revealing a strange, tentacle like arm.

"Devour! Glotonería!" Aaroniero began to be surrounded by dark purple spiritual energy, and his lower body turned into a huge, yellow, blob-like mass resembling an incredibly bloated cartoon-style octopus, with dozens of stubby tentacles and mouth-like mask pieces.

Rukia sighed. "Your Ressureción? Not even that will make a difference this time."

"You're bluffing!" Aaroniero yelled out, his face taking on a maniacal expression.

"Then call my bluff." Rukia let her blade go, and it began to phase into the ground like a pool of water.

"Is this another dance? One I have no memory of?"

"Bankai." The sound of a bell began to ring out, and the ground began to freeze and snow began to fall. As the are began to grow frigid, a new blade began to form in Rukia's hand, which resembled her Shikai in most respects, though the tsuba was now spiked and the ribbon at the end had a purple crescent moon. Sparkling ice wings shaped like those of a butterfly formed on her back, and a large purple sash in the place of an obi formed on her waist.

"Bankai? That can't be. This body has no memory of that!"

Rukia began to float off the ground, rising ever higher as snow began to descend. She raised her hand, her eyes glowing bright white.

"Shinshoku no mai." She brought her hand down in one sharp, fluid motion. "Shiroittai." A large ice spike rose up from the ground, impaling Aaroniero from under him. He was bound to the ground now, bleeding, blood coughing up. She flew towards him, placing her blade on his chest.

"I see. No Hollow Hole." Rukia stabbed him in the should with her blade, and the tip shattered off as she removed her blade. She descended, looking up at Aaroniero.

"What did you do?" He spat, as nothing had happened.

"You'll see briefly." Rukia replied.

"Like I'll give you the chance!!!" He threw the trident down at Rukia, who dodged with a Shunpo.

"Hireki no mai. Maikaishiro."

Aaroniero stopped moving, his eyes wide. Suddenly, he let out a scream of pain as his chest burst open, blood and flesh splattering everywhere. As Rukia descended, she looked down on Aaroniero. "This time, when you arrive in Hell. Stay there."

There was good news and bad news for the Injiki.

The male Arrancar's release had disrupted Diosa's concentration, so he was free from the torturous pull of her portal.... for the moment.

The bad news? He was now stuck in a tornado.

His body flailed around wildly, and he lost his grip of his sword. The chilling power enveloped him, monstrous in density. Deep within the confines of the terrifying winds, he could hear the sound of a animalistic roar. It seemed to echo within his mind, even as it stopped after a while. Then, the winds suddenly stopped, and he found himself shouting as he was flung hard into the ground. The sand erupted into a geyser upon his collision, signaling a considerably hard collision.


Shikaku's true form. What dreaded powers does he possess now?!

The smoke cleared, and Shikaku's new form could be seen. He stood mightily, his clothing having been changed to black pants and a shirtless, muscular torso. On his head, a knight-like helmet could be seen shining in the moonlight. Between the bars, a set of blood-red eyes could be seen. On his hands, metallic, long, and sharpened claws gleamed with murderous intent, ready to kill everyone that dared to oppose him. On top of that radiated a dangerous power, an aura that created the illusion of gangrene crawling up flesh. He clanged his claws together in a display of ferocity before setting his sights on his opponent.

It was time to kill.

Nearing the end[]

"Graaaggh!" Miharu cried as one of Dordonii's cyclones tunneled it's way towards her, slamming into her and pushing her up up and away. She let loose a blast of spiritual energy that cut the cyclone in half, and she fled to the ground. She began to twirl Kyūmu. There had to be something she could do to beat this guy.

Dordoni began to form handsigns, and launched his all too familiar Cero. Miharu swung her blade to meet it, and cut it in half. This man was fond of using air. There had to be something she could do to put a stop to that. Wait. There was a way. She threw Kyūmu into the air, and clenched her fist. Suddenly, Kyūmu vanished,and it let out a spiraling blast of air that enveloped Dordoni. It began to spiral really fast, leaving Dordoni right in the center.

"W-What is this?" He thought to himself. "She dares to fight me with air?"

Miharu grinned. "You're going down Arrancar. I'm using the spiraling air I generated to create a vacuum for you, free of charge."

Dordoni suddenly realized he couldn't breathe. "This... cannot be... possible."

Ahatake collided with the sand hard, and got up, his mask cracked once again. He looked over to see Shikaku's new outfit.

"Man, you look like a serial killer."

"Well, that confirms that...."

Digging himself out of the sand, Ryūka was now lying on his back with his elbows propping him up. He looked over at the newfound form of Shikaku as it began to read across the dunes towards Ahatake with his weapons readied. "No wonder the guy's power was so damn ridiculous. He's a Vasto Lorde...." He though, smiling wearily. "Don't think I should be saying this, but I think I'm glad I'm not fighting him. Now, then...." Slowly, he stood up, eyes looking around. "Where the hell is my sword...?"

As Diosa fell, she performed a sort of "somersault", landfing neatly on the sand. What had Shikaku been thinking? She had been close to dragging the boy into the Gates. "Feh." She thought. "No use crying over lost gates." The problem was summoning that Gate again. It took time and energy. It seemed it was back to standard combat. She looked over at Ryuuka. He was fumbling around, apparently searching for something, his sword maybe? Raising her hand, she fired a bright white Cero in his deirection.

Ahatake looked down at his sword. It was pulsing. He sighed. His blade always was an impatient one. He stood up, and held his blade up.

"Feel your body’s muscles, and its roar, Feel your heart beat as you soar and dive, Feel the control to work the magic, Feel the emotion, love and anger, Ryūseiga!" His blade changed from it's katana into a jian, a Chinese straight sword. The blade takes on a black coloration, the handle turns red, and the guard resembles a Chinese Dragon more than before.


The Injiki wasn't going to get a chance to search.

Immediately, as soon as the Cero came within close proximity, he rolled across the ground, barely missing the attack. He was virtually defenseless without his sword. Unless Diosa came within close proximity of him, hand-to-hand was useless. He had to fight her off and locate his weapon simutaneously - what a pain in the ass. After finishing his roll, he started into a run, eyes darting around. It had to be somewhere!

She flung her hand in a wide arc, sending powerful Bala blasts after him. He was on the ropes now.

Ahatake gripped his blade and it crackled with electricity. "So old man, think you can handle me?"

The response was in the form of a vanishing act.

Shikaku's speed - obviously - had increased to a heightened level. What seemed to be fast speed was nothing compared to the rate at which he was moving. Now, it seemed as if it was teleporting. His figure re-appeared in front of his enemy, one of his claws raised to strike at the flesh. Without hesitation, without mercy - hell, seemingly without conscience - it began its attack, its blows backed by ferocious strength.

"Shit!" Ahatake thought. Even he hadn't been able to see the man coming, and speed was something he could brag about. Blood splattered, and his struggled for a moment, raising his blade, using it to parry the claws strikes. His new blade was durable enough, but could it take this?

As Shikaku continued a newfound assault on Ahatake, Ryūka was still having problems.


One of the Balas hit dangerously close, but the explosion sent him off of his feet and flying into the air once more. He tumbled viciously for several seconds before he came to a stop onto his back. He rolled over onto his stomach, coughing. "Damn it...! That release did more damage than I thought. I can't move as fast as I could...." He thought to himself in frustration, trying to stand up. He raised his head up in order to keep his enemy within his sight...


A few feet away, there was his sword. Now if he could get to it....!


Ahatake's wound that Shikaku delivered further gave Shikaku the advantage endurance-wise. With the sword blow dealt to the chest, the rate of stamina drain would increase. He continued his attack on Ahatake, slicing violently and relentlessly in an effort to break his enemy's defenses.

"I'll show you." Ahatake thought, and Ahatake's blade, still blocking strikes began to glow blue. The blade began to crackle with energy, and a blue glow spread throughout the area. Ahatake pushed away from the Arrancar, skidding backwards. A large electric dragon was spawned from the blade, rising into the sky.

"Take this! Shōryūha!" Ahatake swung the blade down, and the dragon let out a roar, descending upon the Arrancar.

Immediately, Ryūka took himself into a run once he was certain the fire had stopped. His feet pounded the ground, and it wasn't long before he managed to reach his designated weapon. Immediately, he bent over and snatched it up in one hand. It was time to fight again!

Shikaku took one look at the attack, took in a deep breath, and let out a loud scream.

The shockwaves collided with the dragon head-on in a brute display of force. Had it been a normal energy attack, it would probably have resulted in a stalemate. However, because the soundwaves extended in width as they traveled, they went past the dragon-shaped entity by passing it through the loop. The energy sent was forcefully disrupted, dispelling the dragon and continuing towards Ahatake.

"Oh shit!" Ahatake thought, vanishing as quickly as he could into the air. "Damn. He dispelled my Shōryūha like it was nothing... Just what the hell is he?"

"So he's picked up his blade?" Diosa thought to herself. "Useless." Extended her long, clawed hands, she launched a powerful Cero straight at Ryūka.

Without a second's worth of hesitation, Shikaku immediately crouched his legs and boosted himself off of the ground. The speed allowed him to shoot at his target like a homing missile. His claws flashed, raising up to meet his opponent head-on once more.

"I don't think so."

Ryūka once again smirked, gripping his sword with both hands. Stepping aside with only enough room to barely dodge, he swung his sword in the path of the oncoming blast. Steel once again carved itself through its foe's energy, but this time the Injiki's hands had to grip harder due to the increase of power.

Diosa's eyes widened and her expression changed slightly as she increased her Cero's power.

Ahatake raised his blade up to block the strikes, but the force pushed him back, into the sand. He hit the sand hard and forced himself up.

'"Dammit old man!" He hissed, nearly all of his face visible aside form a shattered mask fragment that covered his right eye. "You're getting on my nerves."

His response was Shikaku using his own body as a projectile to thrust into Ahatake, causing a newfound geyser of sand to pick up. It was clear that the Arrancar was not bothering with words anymore. Whether it was simply pure impatience at his enemy's will to survive or just the influence of his own power was unknown. Either way, Shikaku was only speaking with his weapons and weapons alone - something that Ahatake had yet to pick up.

"Come on! COME ON!" Ryūka shouted, pressing his sword even harder. With a final tug, he swung the sword in an arc, the steel blade finally dispelling the Cero that was attacking him.

Ahatake sighed. '"I really hate it when I have to bother with this. She always gives me a lecture." Ahatake raised his blade up.

"Bankai!" At the instant he spoke the words, a torrent of spiritual energy rose up into a pillar, serving as a decent shield to protect him from Shikaku's assault.

"With only your sword, you destroyed my Cero. I'm quite surprised." Diosa said, holding up her scythe. She vanished in black light, appearing behind Ryūka, swinging her blade at his midsection.

"Then there's just some things you'll never know about me." Ryūka answered smugly, twisting himself around. The blade barely caught him, causing a shallow cut within his side. However, he was undeterred by the strike on his person. As he came back around from his spin, he countered with a fluid and upward swing.

Immediately, Shikaku jumped off of his enemy and away from the spiritual energy's range, standing tensely and staring at the transformation taking place. Interrupting it was tempting, but he could probably guess that would simply be blown off. He instead readied himself into a defensive stance and waited.

The energy subsided and Ahatake was revealed, his mask having mended and power drastically increased. His blade remained a jian, but he was now wearing a long, scaled cloak, in addition to his outfit, and behind him was a behemoth of dragon, one that resembled a Chinese Dragon in most respects. It was giving off a foul energy, and towered over everyone in the area.

Diosa gasped as his blade cut into her skin. This man had pierced her Hierro. The pain signals forced her to jump back, but the damage was done. She was bleeding from the shoulder.

Ryūka smiled, satisfied that he had been able to land the blow onto his opponent. He flicked the blood off by twisting the katana around in his hands, holding himself and his weapon in a defensive stance. The blade was hung in a slant above his head, the tip pointing at Diosa and the cutting edge pointed upwards. "How does it feel?" He asked, a deep and intimidating tone coming into play. "To know that even in your Resurrecion, you can't best me? For the leader of this group of yours, you lack the power to match up to your position." He didn't look behind him to see Ahatake's transformation. The smile grew wider; they had this in the bag!

"How does it feel to know that your talking leaves you wide open?" Diosa asked menacingly from behind him. She has teleported in the blink of an eye. She swung her scythe up at him.

Ahatake didn't speak this time. Shikaku hadn't bothered to speak a word to him since his release, focusing solely on attack. Ahatake was now going to do the same.

"Go." The dragon let out a roar and tore straight towards Shikaku, kicking up sand as it flew. It opened it's mouth, letting loose a blast of flames towards Shikaku.

The Injiki spun, his leg lifting and thrusting itself behind him. When the scythe swung, it was immediately stopped by the pole via the kick. The force would cause the weapon to bounce off of him for a short distance. "I think not, lady...." He continued to taunt her, swinging his own blade in a horizontal arc. "Only a novice would allow themselves to get distracted by their own words."

Shikaku didn't scream this time. Instead, he plunged his claws into the dirt and swung upwards, unleashing a vertical blast. This was his own version of the Cero, one that acted like a rift instead of a beam. The solidified energy cut through the flames quite easily and to Ahatake.

The dragon however, tookt he hit, it's strong hide withstanding the the attack. Ahatake lept into the air, sending a massive Cero blast from his palm down upon Shikaku.

Diosa frowned. She hated to admit that the boy was getting the better of him. Something had to be done, right now, or-.

"My my my." A new voice, soft, yet clearly audible, rang throughout the desert of Hueco Mundo. "Didn't you tell me you were going to win this time around? What a mess you seem to have gotten yourself into."

"Dammit." Diosa started to look around for the source of the voice. "Not now!"

That made Shikaku stop. Immediately.

Instead of continuing the attack, he used a Sonido to pull himself out just in time to avoid the attack. Instantly, he teleported himself right beside Diosa, albeit he was a short distance away. Although he tried his best not to show it, fear was accelerating through his body. He gave a narrowed gaze towards Ahatake, slowly retracting from his released form. "I suppose this round has come to a close...." He remarked darkly, eyes searching around. When he spoke again, his voice was soft yet stern. "Calm yourself, Diosa. It would be foolish to panic in the face of our enemies."

"Huh....?" Immediately, Ryūka dropped his stance, cocking an eyebrow in an expression of confusion. "What the hell's going--"

"INJIKI!!!!" The alarmed scream of the Major shot through his ears, almost making him fall over. "I'm detecting A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT of spiritual energy coming from all directions!!! I can't tell where the source is from!!! Even from this distance, I think this machine is beginning to show some wear and tear!!!"

"Get it together, Major!" Ryūka scolded. "Do your best to stay in the air and keep monitoring the situation. Are your troops heading in this direction?"

"Negative.... I've stopped hearing their transmissions moments ago. They've gone dark!!!"

That only meant one thing.

Whoever this newcomer was had managed to slay the entire team the Major had summoned. What was going on here?

"What the hell?" Ahatake growled. He was picking up a large energy signal, and it was close. Not only that, Shikaku had just said their fight was done?

"What is this energy I'm sensing?" Rukia wonder, turning around to face the direction Ahatake and co were in. "This isn't good." She began to float, taking off quickly to get to Ahatake's area in time.

Alita was falling, blood spurting from her body in various places. What looked like a sword faded from Daiyaku's hand, and he looked down on her as she fell.

"B-bastard!" She hissed, falling into the sand with a thud.

"You're done Arrancar." Daiyaku raised his hand to deliver the final blow, but was stopped cold by the large amount of spiritual pressure that he could feel. "W-what the hell is this?" He thought, shuddering. He coated himself in his aura again, and took off, not looking back towards Alita. He had to see what this was.

Splurch! Midoriko and Grimmjow's blades pierced each others bodies at the same time. It was all a matter of who had struck deeper. Grimmjow suddenly spit out a large amount of blood, and Midoriko pulled out both blades with as much strength as she could. Raising her arm, she slammed her elblow into his neck, knocking him out of the air and out cold. She descended, landing neatly onto the ground.

"Bastard." Was all she had time to say before she sunk into a dead faint, her mask cracking away.


A man began to form out of nowhere right in the middle of the battlefield. He formed completely, and his appearance matched one that Ryūka had seen a few times before, though only from photos.


To say the least, Ryūka was speechless. Through photographs and information, he heard of a man that was strikingly similar in appearance to the this one. He had been known by the Gotei 13 as Aizen, one of the most notorious criminals out of Soul Society. He was an orchestrator of catastrophic events, the backbone behind the Winter War, and "wretched slime" as colleagues referred to him by. But that man had been locked up in prison for years now.... who could this one possibly be?

"Master!" Shikaku called out, turning to face the stranger completely. "With all due respect, this situation is under control. Please step back!"

"I beg to differ." Takahashi replied quietly. "I've been watching, and while you may have your situation under control, I regret to say that the rest of the group does not. Can you not feel it? Their energies are dropping left and right, and Diosa will have failed too."

"Takahashi-sama, stay out of this, please." Diosa said, unintentionally sharply.

"Oh?" Takahashi asked quietly.

"You sent us in to do this job, did you not?" Diosa continued. "That's what we are going to do. And when we finish here, we can even take on them for you. You can't possibly handle them by yours-" She never got to finish that sentence. One instant, she was standing there, talking, and the next, she had been slashed through the chest, blood spurting, and she was falling.

Takahashi was sheathing his blade. He had done it. Impossible! No one had seen him move from his spot, and no one had seen him return there.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." Takahashi murmured. "To think that I cannot handle my targets. You should have kept quiet."

"W-why?" Diosa gasped, hitting the ground.

Takahashi looked down at her coldly. "I planned all of this. I anticipated their reactions and the causalities involved. What I hadn't anticipated...was your utter failure."

It was true that Shikaku had not seen Takahashi make the strike.

However, he did see Diosa's blood spilled across the dunes.

He saw her body descending to the cold ground.

And he did know that he acted.


Like an alarmed father to an injured child, Shikaku used a Sonido to close up the distance between him and her. He reached out, catching her before the sands could. He slowly fell to his knees, gently turning her over so that her back was resting on his arm. Then, he forced himself into another Sonido, a good distance away from his master. His expression showed solemnity and grief, his half-lidded eyes blank. He couldn't even bring himself to speak calmly anymore. "Diosa, please.... you can get up from this, can't you? Your Hierro, your regeneration, this is nothing, right....?" He whispered pleadingly.

"S-sorry S-Shikaku. He struck my heart. I c-can't regenerate that." She said weakly. "It s-seems, it's o-over for me..." She smiled up at him. "It was good...having you around..."

"T....this was all my fault." His voice was cracking, but he refused to show any tears. Instead, he held her close, shifting his hand to grasp the back of her head. "I'm the one that told you not to trust him, I should've seen this coming...!!" He shut his eyes, shaking his head slowly as if to forcefully will himself that she wasn't really dying. This was Diosa, the one that had served to lead him, the one that had seen a use for him....

The one that he had come to love as the daughter he never had.

And now she was dying right before his very eyes, a failure in their leader's.

Diosa raised her hand up toward Shikaku's face, about to say something. But her hand dropped, and her head rolled over. She was dead.

Takahashi chuckled. "A scene like this. It's almost touching."

Ahatake looked on in a mixture of anger and confusion. He had never enjoyed seeing Hollows killed, unless he was the one giving the finishing blow. But that man. He hadn't seen him strike at all. And against his own subordinate no less!

"I'm sorry....."

Shikaku reached up to close her eyes. He gently set her onto the ground, kneeling beside her for one final time. "It was an honor.... to have lived by your side." He said, a tear falling down his cheek. He pressed his hand down onto her stomach, using his strength to force her corpse into the sands. It was the closest thing he could get to a funeral - after all, they still were in battle, and such a ceremony would be wasteful. "May you find peace, living without me." He kept his eyes closed, the tears flowing a bit more freely now.

The Injiki looked on silently at the display, his anger immediately dissipating. Inside, he was mentally furious at the fact that Takahashi had ripped away his chance for revenge - true revenge. However, even he possessed honor. He would not attack Shikaku while he said his last words to his comrade. He could wait it out until the man was ready to fight again. But, if Diosa had been deemed "worthless".... then what about Shikaku?

Takahashi looked over at all of them. "Injiki Ryūka. Ah yes, your wife was the one that fell earlier, was she not? I suppose you assumed that Shikaku, the one who killed her, was nothing more than a puppet of Diosa's. Am I right?"

"I remember your voice now...." Ryūka whispered scathingly, pointing an accusing finger at Takahashi. "They described it as the worst thing you could hear in your lifetime, something that was only made to instill fear and anger into other people. But you're not him... you're definitely not Sōsuke. Who in the hell are you?!"

"You're not the first to make that mistake. I am Takahashi Ishikawa, former Captain of Eighth Company." He said, smiling a mocking smile at Ryūka.

Ryūka's lip curled. "Well, that won't make me suck up to you and call you "sir" any time soon." He answered mockingly, turning his head to spit off to the side. "But this is a great time. You happened to take away my chance of avenging my wife... but now that I know you're the head honcho, there's still an opportunity." He leveled his sword at the man, readying himself. "I'm going to kill you and bury you right beside your puppets!!!!"

Splurch! In the same manner in which Diosa had been struck down, Ryūka would now also fall. No one ever saw Takahashi move. No on ever saw him return to his spot, But he was now shaking Ryūka's blood off his blade, and he sheathed it. Takahashi looked flashed another mocking smile at Ryūka.

"You're slow. Even to fall."

Ahatake was shocked and was motionless. Quick as a flash, Ryūka had been cut. And he was falling. Ryūka was bleeding, and falling.

One moment, he was fine.

The next, he was now on the verge of death.... and falling fast.

As Takahashi returned to his spot, pain shot through his body. He staggered forward a little, fighting a losing battle in order to keep himself standing. His body was shaking violently, his hand dropping his sword. Blood leaked from his mouth, and his newly free hand clutched the spot where Takashi had struck him. Right through the heart.... there was no question about it now. His death was assured. His head was lowered, as he was unable to hold it in order to stare at Takahashi in defiance. With his final ounce of strength, he tilted his head back, lurching forward and spitting a good deal of blood at his enemy's feet. It was his very own way of saying two words.

Fuck you.

Then, all life left him, and he collapsed onto his stomach. His blood pooled around him, and his shaking turned to deathly stillness.

Ahatake gripped his blade. "Ryūka's dead. Kyashi's dead. This can't possibly be happening." He could feel the anger welling up, but there was also the feelings of grief. His two friends. Killed in battle. Admittedly, that may have been the way they would have wanted to go, but neither of them had gone down fighting. They were killed effortlessly. Still. The man who had killed them was standing right in front of him. And it was time to make him pay.

"GRRAAAAAAAAAAAAGAGGGGHHHHHH!" Ahatake let out a huge battle cry, swinging his blade. The dragon felt it, and it turned to face Takahashi before charging at him. Takahashi looked over to see the creature Ahatake had set on him.

"Pointless." With a flick of his finger, Ryūka's blade was sent from where it was to flying straight through the dragon, cutting it in half effortlessly. The dragon fell in two pieces, and Ryūka's blade landed at Ahatake's feet.

"Kurosaki Ahatake." Takahashi spoke the man's name aloud. "Please, do not be so hasty to rush to your death. I have something special in mind for you and your family." He turned to look out onto the horizon. "I can feel the energy of your family and friends. They're being lured here by my own, and the steadily dropping spiritual energy here. They fear you'll be next."

Ahatake was speechless. His dragon, the creature with hide more durable than any Arrancar's hierro, had been cut in half effortlessly. As his Bankai began to fade, his mask cracked away. Rukia arrived not minutes after, and was shocked at the sight that greeted her. Dead bodies, a grieving Arrancar and... Her eyes widened.


"And it appears they've arrived." Takahashi smiled, before creating a Garganta. "And this is where I take my leave." He turned to Rukia. "Kuchiki Rukia. Your role in this will soon become apparent. I request that you stay alert." He stepped into the Garganta, and it closed.

"My role?" Rukia repeated. She turned to Ahatake. "Ahatake! What happened here?"

Ahatake didn't speak. He bent down to pick up Ryūka's blade, but before he could do anything else, he felt more spiritual power arriving. Focusing, he could pick each of them out. Megami, Daiyaku, and Miharu. Only Kibō and Midoriko were not among them. Kibō was probably still at his mother's grave. But where was Midoriko? That was something he figure out as soon as the rest arrived.

"Ahatake!" Megami was the first to rush towards him. She had suffered her own wounds, some shallow, some deep. But she still looked to be in good condition, able to run quickly without losing face due to the aches of her injuries. "What in the world happened here? There were drops in your energy signa-- oh, my god...." She immediately shut up, covering her mouth with a trembling hand at the sight of the dead Ryūka. "No...."

"Your eyes aren't deceiving you." Ahatake said weakly. "He's dead. But it wasn't those two" He pointed at the fallen Diosa and Shikaku. "who inflicted the finishing blow. I think we're going to have a problem on our hands."

"Finishing blow."

Shikaku's voice spoke to them. He stood up calmly, turning his head over his shoulder. "Is that not what you should give me?" He asked calmly, his voice devoid of emotion. "Are you going to let your enemy live?" Inwardly, he cursed himself for doing this. However, he had completely lost his motivation to keep living when Diosa was so cruelly slaughtered. He wanted to die, to lie alongside her in the animalistic dimension. He wanted for any one of them to plunge their swords into his heart and extinguish his flames of life. There was no reason that shouldn't happen - both of his masters had left him. What was the point of breathing without a purpose?

There was none.

"Yes." Ahatake replied simply. "You may be our enemy, but there's no point in cutting down a grieving foe. Besides, I can only assume you were acting on orders. There's no real reason to kill you. Takahashi is now our target."

Shikaku gritted his teeth, fury rising within him. "You naive brat, insulting me with that honorable tone!!!" He spat, storming towards the group. He didn't care that he was outnumbered and exhausted. He didn't care about the fact Megami tensed, hand reaching for her sheathed Zanpakutō at his approach. It would just lead him to his own death - something that would've provided relief for him. "What makes you think there is something preventing me from finishing this battle?! My master has spared my life, which means he still has use for me!! Letting me live would only serve to hinder you, surely you have to realize that!!!"

This man was beginning to get on Ahatake's nerves. He eyed his wife's blade, intending to stop her should she use it. "How do you know he spared you because he still has use for you?" Ahatake asked sharply. "Maybe he just didn't find you worth killing!"

That caused Shikaku's angered eyes to widen immediately.

The puppet of a puppet.

Immediately, the fire within his heart flickered away, and defeat flashed across his eyes for a moment, but he did his best to regain an angered outlook to him. "Shut up!!!" He snarled, grasping the hilt of his sheathed blade. "What would a child like you--"


The soft voice of Megami reached his ears, effectively interrupting him. "Your comrades are dead...." She spoke, her eyes wavering as she stared at the man. "We are all weary, and two of our friends have been slain by your master.... it's senseless for us to continue this battle. If you hate us so much.... we'll fight you whenever you want. Just.... this time, please just retreat."

Shikaku snorted, but the words had a clear effect on his mood. He turned away from them, thrusting out his hand and opening up a Garganta. "I'll be back, Kurosaki. My job was to kill you, and I will ensure that happens next time!!" He threatened, before leaping into the portal. He would be following straight after his master in order to continue. Takahashi had not killed him, therefore he had to still have some use, didn't he? He had to! Otherwise....

Ahatake sighed. "I'll be looking forward to that, geezer." Then he remembered. "Has anyone seen Midoriko?"


Megami's eyes widened in shock, and she jerked around. "That's right! Where is she?" She exclaimed. "We forgot about her! She had been battling Grimmjow, but...." She trailed off, unsure of what to say. "I assumed she had finished when we did...."

Ahatake began to worry, but he closed his eyes for a moment. He began to scan the area, gaining a mental image of every area where he could feel familiar spiritual energy. Passing over a massacre scene with many dead soldiers (Takahashi's work, no doubt), he saw Midoriko laying motionless next to a equally motionless Grimmjow. To his relief, he could still feel her spiritual energy.

"I see her." He said, opening his eyes. "She's alive, just knocked out. We should get her. And, take Ryūka's body with us. I'm going to hate having Kibō know about this." Ahatake walked over to Ryūka, hoisting his deceased comrade over his shoulders, placing Ryūka's blade back in it's sheath.

Up above them, even the Major had fallen silent. His face was buried in one hand in frustration and grief. A new enemy. Allies executed as quickly as the wind blew. Tragedy and a river of blood as the aftermath. It was his own luck that he - no, they had to run into such a situation. Hatred arose within him at the thought of Takahashi, and he gritted his teeth in a feral snarl. If he managed to get a pistol to that man's head, he would blow the bastard's brains out himself. But now wasn't the time....

He lowered his vehicle down so that the rest of them could see it. "This tragedy won't go unpunished." He spoke venemously. "The deaths of the Injiki won't be in vain. Whatever this man's truth is, it won't be brought to life. He and his pawn will never see his plan go into action. We will kill him."

It took the group all of fives minutes to reach Midoriko, who was slowly bleeding from the wound inflicted by Grimmjow. She was lucky actually. It had just missed her heart.

"Megami, can you heal her?" Ahatake asked.

"Of course...."

Immediately, Megami kneeled over the girl and pressed her hands onto the wound, healing energy coming from her palms. "This wound just missed the heart line. A millimeter closer, and she would've been a goner." She analyzed, eyes carrying a rather motherly tone as she worked.

Ahatake sighed. "Thank God she was as lucky as she was." He looked down at Midoriko, glad to see she'd make it. Now that she was O.K. all that remained was telling Kibō. Where was that boy? He began to search around in a similar manner to how he had found Midoriko. He could find Kibō.

"Ok, Houston, we have a problem."


"I can't find Kibō anywhere." Ahatake explained. "I'm looking where I can feel familiar energy, yet I can't see Kibō."

"He probably hasn't returned." Megami summarized, frowning for a moment. "Probably still torn up about Kyashi's death. I fear he might actually die if we tell him about Ryūka...."

Ahatake sighed. "I know, but what can we say? 'Kibō, your dad isn't here because he went into enemy territory to track the enemy and we didn't follow.' Not sure if that's an excuse we can give him."

Midoriko's eyes flickered open. "W-what..?" She murmured. "Where am I?"


Turning her attention back onto her patient, Megami gave a smile as she retracted her hands. "Welcome back to the land of the living, Mi-chan." She spoke softly, not raising herself up just yet. "Can you walk?"

"Keibo?" Midoriko said slowly. "Yeah, I'm good." She sat up slowly. "Thanks for healing me." She looked over at her father. "Tō-chan, why is Injiki slumped over your shoulder? He asleep?"

"No." Ahatake said quietly. "He's...dead."

"Dead?" Midoriko repeated. "As in crossing-the-River-Styx kind of dead?"

Ahatake nodded.

"Oh my...Kibō is not going to react well to this..."

"We have to go tell him...." Megami said, helplessness in her tone. "What else can we do? He has the right to know...." She allowed herself to stand back up and dust herself off. "After that.... what should we do?" It was clearly obvious that none of them had the strength to take Takahashi on at this point. The fact that he had executed two Captain-level opponents with as much ease as swatting a fly had proved that much.

"The only thing I can think of at this moment in training." Ahatake said, shrugging. "We don't have the power to take that Takahashi on, not in a fair fight anyway. Perhaps Kisuke would have some answers? He usually knows about things he shouldn't."

"I do hope you're right...."

Ahatake clicked his fingers and created a Garganta. "Let's get out of here." He figured that Ginji could hear what he was saying, since the wireless communications device was still on Ryūka.

The room was dim, and the only sound that could be heard from breathing and the dripping of water. Shadows were moving, but one was completely stationary, sitting upon an onyx throne. It was Takahashi. He was looking down on the man who had just returned.

"My Lord...."

Taking a few steps forward, the man fell down to a kneeling position, one fist onto the ground. His head was bowed, and his expression was hidden from Takahashi's view. Other than those words, he refused to speak anymore until Takahashi acknowledged him vocally. He attempted to block out Diosa from his mind for now in order to focus on his current ordeal.

"Shikaku." He said slowly. "I see you have returned. I am not surprised."

"If I wasn't here, alive and kneeling before you.... I would be back there, dead and lying in my own blood just like her...." The Arrancar answered, keeping his voice calm and controlled. "And I will continue to follow you for the rest of my days."

"I see. In that case, I gladly welcome you back." Takahashi said, a smile crossing his face.

"It is an honor..." Shikaku, although he did not raise his head up just yet, had an expression of surprise crossing his face at that moment. But he refused to show his shock through his voice. Instead, he remained where he was. "My sword is yours to command, and it is your decision what it will be used against."

"I have no task for you at this moment Shikaku." Takahashi told him. "There is a bedroom here you can claim for yourself. You'll have something to do very soon, so patience is what I ask of you now."

"Yes, sir."

With that, Shikaku slowly arose and turned away, his feet carrying him away from his leader and towards the direction of another hallway. However, he stopped at the doorway. "Takahashi-sama. All of my comrades have been slain, and I am the only one left of Diosa's team. Will there be any more that will assist in our cause?"

Takahashi looked over at him. "As a matter of fact, yes. Aside for yourself, we have my lieutenant, and a few...special reserves. I will show you those at a later date."

"Of course, sir."

With that, Shikaku left the premises and through the hallways of the newfound hideout. However, as he moved through where he was sure that he was out out his boss's sight, he walked like a grieved soldier. His arms hung at his sides, and his head was lowered. "He's taken everything from me." He muttered, a bitter tone surfacing. "My life.... my will. My daughter...." He felt a tear shed itself from his eye, and he leaned onto the wall for support. It was going to take a lot for him to recover from Diosa's death. He could still remember her placing her hand on his face, and her mouth opening to say something. What had she been trying to tell him?!

Damn Takahashi, for trapping him like this.

Damn himself, for not saving Diosa in time.

Miserably, he made his way to his bedroom. He would need a lot of rest.

Takahashi sat back motionless on his throne. "Nabiki, I know you're there. Eavesdropping were you?"

A young woman with long brown hair, dressed in a altered Shihakushō, walked out of the shadows. "My apologies Takahashi-taichō. It wasn't much to do, and when I felt the Arrancar's spiritual pressure arrive, I came to check it out, but you two were already talking."

"I see."

"Do you think you can trust him?" She asked curiously. "You did kill his comrade."

"I'm certain that is causing him pain to some degree." Takahashi said, looking up at the ceiling for a moment. "But I doubt he is foolish enough to attack me."

Nabiki nodded.

"By the way, have you been tending well to my special projects?" When he asked this, there was anticipation in his voice.

"Do not worry Takahashi-taichō. They are sealed underground, dormant, but fine."

"Excellent. And what about them?"

"Well, actually..." Nabiki sounded hesitant.

"What about us, Herr Ishikawa?"

Angelika Hartmann

The newcomer's appearance.

A feminine, German-accented voice spoke up between them in their Japanese language, effectively coming in between the conversation. It came from the entrance of the facility, but was getting louder as the figure that had spoken up to them got closer. She wore a black suit with a brown trench coat overshadowing it. She had short and brown hair, as well as blue eyes. On her back, there was what looked like an assault rifle strapped in a holster. She had her hands folded in her pockets, approaching the two casually with a glib look onto her face.

"Ah, It's nice to see you arrived here intact." Takahashi said, not getting up from his throne. "Angelika-san, is it not?"

"That would be me." Angelika gave an confirmatory nod, stopping a short distance away from them. She folded her arms across her chest, sparing a curious look over at Nabiki. "And, for the record, a mercenary has her ways of getting by the petty security of the world."

"Of course." Takahashi gave a small chuckled as Nabiki leapt up to stand at his side. "Now, Angelika-san, if you wouldn't mind, there's something I'd like you to do."


"I knew it."

That was the immediate response Kibō had when the news was spoken to him. He was sitting on the couch, arms resting on his knees, and his back hunched over. His head was hung, and a solemn expression came over his face. "As I was saying prayers to Mom.... I just felt his presence in my head flicker off. I always had this feeling that he would die in that fucking place...." He closed his eyes. "Now both of my parents are dead. I'm on my own now...."

His brooding was affecting Megami, too. She had a sad expression on her face as she stood by her husband, looking over the boy with sympathy.

Midoriko was sitting next to him, looking over to him. She was silent, for she didn't want to say anything just yet.

Ahatake still had Ryūka's body over his shoulder, for lack of anywhere to put it. "Kid." He said quietly. "You're not on your own. Your parents may be gone, but we're still around. You're not on your own just yet."

"Just yet...." Kibō answered slowly. "But one of these days, I will be." Slowly, he stood up. "Give me my dad. I'm going to bury him alongside Mom. It's what he would've wanted." He walked over towards the man and held his arms out, a slightly harsh look onto his face. Could he be blamed? Both of his beloved parents had gotten killed, and he was left with no direct family of his own. It was only natural that his mood was such.

Ahatake placed Ryūka in the boy's arms, and went to sit down in a chair. Midoriko got up to follow Kibō outside.

The walk was spent in a long silence. He did not bother to say anything to Midoriko just yet, instead making his way to the outside backyard. There was a fresh hole already dug beside the one where Kyashi resided in. Shutting his eyes, he slowly approached the grave, kneeling over and placing the body in when he got close. "He told me to man up and come back...." He muttered, shutting his eyes tightly and allowing some tears to escape. "I just couldn't do it.... and now here he is, cold and six feet under. I must be a really good son, huh....?" Chuckling bitterly, he grabbed the shovel laying a distance away and started shoveling the dirt back in to cover the body.

Midoriko walked over to him. "Kibō, it's not your fault this happened. You're only human." She sighed. She wasn't good at consoling people. Only natural. She was the child of Tereya and Ahatake. Can't say they ever taught her how to behave to someone who had just lost someone. "Even if you had been around, Injiki might still be like this. If you'd like... I can ease your pain. My Zanpakuō has that power."


It only took him (due to his strength) several seconds to bury the man completely. He dropped the shovel and turned her body towards her. "I don't want your Zanpakutō comforting me." He said softly, frowning slightly. "If you have to find some way to relieve me.... it has to be you." In order to emphasize, he moved closer to her, his body pressing against hers. He embraced her, arms wrapping around her mid-section. His forehead was touching hers, and he stared deep into her eyes. Slowly, he closed the distance between their faces, grasping her lips within his own.

The End