The moon hung, full, in the dark skies above Soul Society and a gentle breeze wafted through the streets of the Seireitei.
Raian Getsueikirite stood, concealed partially by the shadows, beneath a large tree over looking the grounds of the Second Division's northern-most grounds. Behind him, Jiraiya crouched and kept his senses his spread out. The youthful Soul could tell that there were many Onmitsukidō guarding the grounds: hundreds, if not thousands. How they had managed to get this far without arousing attention he left up to his master's brilliance and his understanding of Soul Society. Raian, on the other hand, was an immovable pillar. He kept his Reiatsu suppressed, almost to the point of nonexistence. He knew the pitiful fools in the Second Division wouldn't be alerted until he was ready.
The master Shinigami had eyes for one thing only: the Nest of Maggots. Nestled in the trees and crawling with guards, the Nest represented the height of Soul Society ignorance. If a Soul or Shinigami ever showed too much promise—or perhaps were too outspoken—the Central 46 had them imprisoned here for life. Raian's eyes narrowed as he traced the cliff-side where the Nest resided. Slowly, he placed his calloused hands on the hilt of his Zanpakutō. The time had finally come.
"Do it," he hissed at his student.
With a brief nod, Jiraiya began to draw emblems along his arm with a black powder he retrieved from his pocket. Throwing his palms out in front of him, a light glowing rectangle appeared in front of him and what looked like glowing veins began to appear in the air to connect with the box. The slight change in Reiatsu had done what Raian had anticipated it would. His senses alert, he felt the Onmitsukidō guards begin to stir and move towards the disturbance. With a flick of his thumb, Raian clicked the blade of his weapon out of its sheathe only slightly.
The enemy was upon them with a speed befitting the Onmitsukidō. Raian felt the prick of a sword's edge on his jugular and, in his peripherals, he could see Jiraiya in a similar position. He suppressed his grin of pride when the teen didn't flinch nor even show indication he was in danger. Jiraiya trusted his master like a father, and Raian had practically raised him, so he felt completely at ease so long as Raian showed that he was in control.
The soldier didn't have time to finish his question. Raian's movement was so instantaneous that even Jiraiya—who had spent fourteen years training under him—did not see him move. Blood sprayed like a geyser as the offending solider dropped dead and Raian's blood-stained blade flashed crimson in the moonlight. The remaining soldiers all fell similarly and when he was done, Raian flicked his blade clean of the gore but did not return it to its sheathe. He glanced down at his student and gave the boy an encouraging nod. Jiraiya acted immediately.
"Black and white net. Twenty-two bridges, sixty-six crowns and belts. Footprints, distant thunder, sharp peak, engulfing land, hidden in the night, sea of clouds, blue line. Form a circle and fly though the heavens. Bakudō number seventy-seven… Tenteikūra!"
Raian felt a short mental snap and knew that he had been connected to every single mind in the Seireitei. No doubt, they had all felt the connection all start up as well. Raian's eyes narrowed and then, with a deep, resounding voice, he began:
"There was a time… A moment… When I was uncertain in regards to my destiny. That moment, at last, has passed. I have protected this place—Soul Society and the Real World—more times than I can count on my hands. I've fought, Arrancar, Quincies, and legions of Mod-Souls in this pursuit. To many of you in the Gotei 13, I am a stranger. An upstart that is a mere inconvenience to you. You will soon find that you power amounts to nothing against me. Earlier, an entire human city was wiped off the face of the Earth and Soul Society didn't even blink. While you 'soldiers' rest peacefully in your cots, the Human World has fallen into panic. As of this moment, that shall end."
A heavy wind picked up and the trees began to rustle as several beings of demonic visiage began to come forward. Again, Raian suppressed his grin. The yōkai clans had long been oppressed and rejected by the Shinigami. Sajin Komamura had been lucky to obtain his position back in the old days. Raian knew they would heed his call, and so they had.
"We stand as one, myself with the Hollows, Yōkai, fellow Shinigami, and—yes—even a few among the Quincy who have regained their senses. We are done with Yhwach's defilement of our worlds! His ilk, the remnants of the Wandenreich, are behind yet another affront to our worlds. If Soul Society will not do anything about it… then we will sweep Soul Society aside and do it ourselves." Raian raised his palm, focused Reiryoku into it, and then launched a condensed Reihikari at the Nest of Maggots, causing an explosion that blew the prison wide open. Then, with his own voice, he spoke: "Prisoners of the Nest of Maggots! Too long have you been held captive without trial, without thought, for the sake of the greedy old bags on the Central 46! No more! Join up with us! With me, you will receive training to harness the powers Soul Society finds so frightening and learn to take hold of your destiny!"
Once more, he resumed connection to the Tenteikūa:
"Captains of the Gotei 13, I speak now directly to you. If any among you have also seen the folly in Soul Society's ways, then you are kin among us! You may find us, briefly, in the human settlement of Rider City. For now, we will leave Soul Society in peace. But… but if any of you attempt to get in our way, consider yourselves among the body count! I assure you… you have never fought anyone like me!"
Finally at his limit, Jiraiya let go the Tenteikūra and silence overcame Soul Society.
"What now, sensei?" the exhausted teen panted.
"Now, we depart."
And it was so.
Shadows of the night have left the Fifth Division barracks dark and somber. Many of its officers had finished up their work hours ago and left the office earlier today.
The Division's captain was, however, still busy with his preparations for his trip. He was left all alone within the office and his own quarters, and perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him when he saw shadows roaming the empty halls of the Division. He was simply stressed. Of all these mess. Why the sudden trip to Hueco Mundo? He asked himself numerous times, and the question just popped up a second ago, for the twentieth time.
Then his senses tingled; he could feel that someone was outside his office. He stood calmly and waited for whomever it was to come into his office. He wouldn't expect the person to knock, but then again there may be not a single person outside; this may be yet another trick his stressed mind is playing on him. Surprisingly, there was a person: a young man with distinctively spiky blond hair barged in, suddenly breaking the silence.
"Oh, Ryūdō-kun," spoke the captain, before he shook around his head, regaining his faulty senses and rubbed his index finger against his his eyebrows. "You surprise me."
Still clad in his Shinigami attire, the man was positioned as the Division's Third Seat, Tyler Ryūdō. Kaisei was sure of the fact that Tyler left the office earlier, though he was also sure of the fact that Tyler is the type of person to work hard. Maybe he came back to do extra work.
"My apologies, Captain," said the officer, holding back his grin . "I was on my way to my quarters, then I noticed I had these documents in my clutches. Must've forgotten about them."
Kaisei raised his eyebrows; he also remembered of the fact that Tyler was the person with a bad memory. "Thanks, now I understand why some of the papers were missing earlier," said the captain before his hand reached out to take a slight glance upon the layers of papers.
Before he could finish looking at the papers entirely, Kaisei could feel some sort of a snap. A very disturbing one at that. With all his knowledge in Kidō, he knew that instant moment that it was Tenteikūra. He glanced over his subordinate, and it may seem that he too was connected to whomever using the spell. Silence abruptly spread throughout the room like it did before as the person spoke within the minds of both Kaisei and Tyler.
Kaisei groaned after a moment of silence. Just now he can sense the person's presence around the Second Division's barracks. Then he wondered what was wrong with his senses as of this evening. Standing up, he threw his random thoughts away before putting on his captain's white haori, his eyes stared blankly upon the door where Tyler barged through earlier.
"Captain? What are you doing?" Tyler asked, his heart began to beat rapidly. Upon hearing what the person just said, his hand instinctively reacted and approached the hilt of his Zanpakutō, his gaze set upon the actions of his captain.
The captain responded with a cold and deathly glance over his subordinate. "I suppose I am the one who should ask you that, Ryūdō-kun. Why? Are you suspicious of me?" His tone went slightly off, from the warm-hearted person Tyler knew, into the chaotic and twisted man he is. With that, he slowly walked out of the room before adding, "Obviously I'm heading towards the Second Division's barracks to see what's up."
"I don't think you're telling me everything, captain," Tyler retorted, his heart pounding rapidly as if it was about to burst, yet his eyes shot fiercely into the tall and menacing figure. Talking back to his captain was the worst thing that his instincts could have possibly done, and now he acted as if he was trying to oppose his own captain.
Kaisei walked out of his office before breathing in the air of the chaotic evening, acknowledging that his subordinate chose to oppose in what he began to believe in. He drew in his breath before exhaling deeply, before he noticed the number of presence surrounding the Second Division's barracks grew rapidly. It is true indeed that he wasn't telling Tyler everything, but he has his reasons. He wouldn't expect Tyler, or even Cynthia, to follow him wherever he sets his foot upon. Then again, he would be forced to fight against both of his most loved subordinates; obviously he wouldn't want that. His senses and instincts returned, he gave a thought to his actions. "Ryūdō-kun, follow me. We have something to discuss."
Within the barracks of the Eleventh Division, it's captain had been nearly ready to leave. No, wait. It was Kenpachi was always prepared to leave. In his deepest option, he could've left the instance they were assigned. He sat in his "office" like area, just waiting to leave.
The door to his personal room opened slightly, and there stood a silver-haired young boy. It was Zaraki's own lieutenant and right hand man: Shingi Kawahiru. The young boy took the striking appearance of his uncle nearly without a single flaw. "Captain Zaraki, are you prepared to depart yet?" He voice had the energy of seriousness. It was true that he was young, but he didn't act it. Instead he had the mind of a grown man.
"Why is it taking you so long, Shingi? We could've left yesterday if it wasn't for you." Zaraki growled, angered that he couldn't leave earlier. "Sometimes I'm glad I have you. But at times, you just hold me-" Zaraki was cut off from a tingling sensation. Next, there was a voice playing in the captain's head.
"Shingi, you heard that?" Zaraki asked, and his lieutenant nodded. "What will you do, captain?" Shingi questioned. Zaraki stood there for a little while, and a smirk emerged on his face. "I'm gonna go take that ass-hole down." Zaraki jumped from behind his desk, and proceeded to take off towards the door, but was stopped dead in his tracks. Zaraki sighed, "What now?"
The lieutenant's hand was stretched out across Zaraki's body. Zaraki towered the young boy, and a giant to a human. "As much as I know you like battle, I'm going to have to prevent you from going out right now. It would be a reckless act and as the man himself has stated, we've never fought someone like him. For now, we watch.." From Shingi's hand spread particles of reiatsu.
Kazuo Hanazawa was not impressed in the slightest. He wondered what idiocy drove men like Raian Getsueikirite, how different the world must appear for nobles, who never had to worry about where their next meal would come from, or worry about money. Now, he'd unleashed upon the Soul Society a legion of hardened criminals out of some ridiculous notion of justice, the Rukon districts would need protection, lest they end up like that human city - but a man like Raian, for all his love of humans, was now willfully endangering the lives of billions of innocent Pluses.
How very heroic, the former Captain had done his best to elevate hypocrisy to new heights alright. In Kazuo's mind, he'd just become a man beyond contempt. But he didn't have time to dwell on the matter, he'd need to be there to help as many pluses as possible, he didn't even want to think about what all those murderers, rapists and megalomaniacs he'd just let loose would do to the helpless inhabitants there.
Within five steps he'd exited the barracks of the Second Division and travelled close to where the Maggot's Nest once used to be, he made no effort to engage, only remaining in place, hand on his Zanpakuto, ready to prevent the unleashed criminals from entering the Rukongai.
The eminence of blades had been wrong, in the end he was just like any other opponent Soul Society had ever fought, obsessed with his vainglory and attempting to be something greater than he was. In this case a messiah for the poor and down trod murderers and psychopaths who had been put in the Nest for a reason. No, he was definitely not getting paid enough for this job.
Yuji Akui was showering his elder brother, Teruo, with a hail of lightning-fast punches during yet another intense training session. They were both young, determined and eager to prove themselves. In addition, in a period of relative peace there was little else they had to do.
Nevertheless, it seemed that period of peace was about to end...
"You're fierce... focussed...", commented the Captain of Third Division.
Dodge to the left. To the right. Crouch. Parry. Teruo was like smoke, meandering between the armour-clad fists of his younger sibling. He let Yuji release his Shikai so that the disparity in their power was slightly decreased. As such, the younger boy could practice offence whilst the older honed his skills in evasion.
"But you put little thought into your strikes", added Teruo after a short while.
Then, he simply stepped to the side. A simple, effortless motion. Enough to throw Yuji off balance as he reached too far in his attempt to hit the elder brother. He passed by Teruo who merely gazed upon him mid-transition. Yuji frowned and turned around rapidly, resuming his futile assault.
"Don't try to hit me", scolded him Teruo whilst casually deflecting his countless blows. "Just do it."
Yuji narrowed his eyes, angry. Easier said than done. He drew from the reservoir of his spiritual energy, concentrated as well as he could... and then his fist crashed into Teruo's left cheek, forcing his head backward with the impetus. Both brothers froze all of a sudden in awkward poses.
"Can you hear that, Yuji?", asked the older sibling soon afterward, paying no heed to the punch he had taken.
"Y-yes, brother", replied the younger one with hesitation.
A voice in their heads. Clear, booming. Speaking bold words. Obviously it must have been a display of Kidō usage, but the content of the message was far more intriguing than its medium.
"What was that?"
"I'm not sure, Yuji", mused Teruo as he was assuming a more relaxed stance. "I suppose something important is happening."
"What should we do?", asked the younger brother, scratching the back of his head with an armoured gauntlet.
His elder sibling-Captain turned around and walked toward a bench located near one of the walls of the training hall. He grabbed the sheath of his Zanpakutō and looked at Yuji.
"We're going to fullfil our duties", he replied eventually. "This training session is over. We're going to investigate."
"Cool!", exclaimed Yuji.
And with that, the two departed to find out more about the unexpected turn of events.
The Sōkyoku Hill slumbered in darkness like the rest of the Seireitei. It loomed over the surrounding city, enshrouded in the folds of its own shadow: a silent, towering monolith. The wind was gentle that night, especially considering the season, but still it was the last part of fall, and as such Hein had draped an extra yukata over his shoulders to counter the chill. He could sense, somehow instinctively, that the night was clear and bright, and yet it was an uneasy atmosphere, and he imagined that the color of the moonlight was tinged with a weak, sapless yellow. The fact that he had been unable to sleep had not surprised him, and he had resigned himself to the subtle, pining chords of his shamisen. He sat on the edge of the plateau, with his back to the wind, and infused his being into the song. He would pause every now and then to draw in the essence of tobacco from a slender, black kiseru, before resting it on the edge of a small ashtray, the thin tendril of smoke rising and disappearing into the sky. Although he appeared the very image of serenity, inwardly he was anything but calm. His thoughts turned over and over as he pondered deeply over certain facts that had been brought to his attention since the Captain’s Council a few days before. Apparently a city in the human world had been destroyed, which only confirmed his assertion that the Gotei 13’s efforts were largely incompetent. More importantly, he had heard rumors of discontent rippling throughout the Seireitei, and there were other things as well... Hein may have never been in the Onmitsukidō, but he had not blithely forgotten everything learned in the Takeha-kai. Rana, the medicine woman, was also a diviner and spy. It was only to be expected, after all, for a Captain to know certain things.
The notes from the shamisen came heavily and angrily, although the tune was meant to be a lullaby, and without warning his hand tightened on the wooden pick and plunged down abruptly, too deeply and too far. There was a jarring screech as all strings snapped, and he swore under his breath.
A foreign voice had entered his head, one completely disconnected from his own thoughts. He recognized the interruption as a form of Tenteikūra, and was about to dispel the kidō using Sekidō when he stopped to listen to what was actually being said.
“You will soon find that your power amounts to nothing against me.”
A challenge? He was suddenly interested. But when the man sardonically cast in the word “soldier,” Hein flew to his feet. The rest of what was said regarding Quincy and the Human World was lost to him. The man was clearly issuing an insult. Personally, Hein could care less what the stranger thought about the Gotei 13, as he shared no love himself for the organization. But he was in no way a mere foot soldier, a pawn, an errand boy. That was beneath him. And he could not simply let the offense lie. If the intruder was looking for a fight, then he would bring one to him.
He had enough sense to collect his pipe and stow it away safely as well as to sling the shamisen across his back before he left. Hein could follow the thread of energy within the tenteikūra and trace it back to the Maggot’s Nest, and once he had established the caster’s location he leaped from the edge of the cliff and into the night.
“Well then, exceptional bastard...” he muttered darkly. But even he himself did not know what he wanted from chasing after the challenger, only that he wanted a fight.
The office of the Captain of the Thirteenth Division was quiet and calm, rested in a soothing blend of darkness of shadow and the light cast from the moon's gentle gaze. It was a quaint little office. A Japanese-styled domicile nestled in the second story of the Thriteenth Division's barracks. It had an almost homely feel to it, as it had been decorated with all manner of things that helped generate the feeling that the small room was very "lived in". The common trappings of an office were there, a desk covered in scattered paperwork half finished or otherwise undone, a bookcase lined up against a wall and filled with books on many disparate subjects, taken from the other Captains no doubt knowing the owner of this particular locale. There was a clashing style to the place, its shell was that of Japanese architecture, but its interior decor was very much that of Spanish culture. There was a single window to the office, a single rectangular hole cut into the wall with a sliding panel to it. And that's where the Captain found herself.
Pop. Click. Pop. Click. Pop. Click. Went the lid of the bottle of sake that Seia absently toyed with while she rested in her precarious placement that was the window's edge. Passively she would raise the bottle to her lips and partake of its fluids before returning it to the rhythm she had established. The alcoholic drink left a burning sensation in her throat as it entered her system but not strong enough to garner much of a reaction from the woman. In fact it seemed to make her look saddened more than anything. Her eyes were focused on the sight of a disturbance in the distance. The Nest of Maggots had recently been blown open and though she couldn't see the building itself, nestled as it was within the part of the Seireitei that was home to the Second Division, she could make out the large billows of smoke that inevitably rose from the aftermath. A familiar voice had echoed its way through the entirety of the Gotei 13, and Seia quickly found herself thinking back to numerous events that would prove him right. Hollows, Quincy, Arrancar, Bounts, Togabito, even traitors. The Soul Society had been attacked again and again throughout the years. And one thing was true of most all of them, if they could not target the Soul Society directly; they would aim at the Human World instead.
She had seen it play out several times. And not a decade ago she was in the throes of trying to distance herself from it. But there it was again, Osaka was a bloody ruin that could be seen from the heavens. She breathed out a sigh, 'While you 'soldiers' rest peacefully in your cots, the Human World has fallen into panic. As of this moment, that shall end'. Those were the words that stuck in her mind, playing back over and over. With one last swig of the bottle, she slowly turned in to look at her office.
"Hey!", she called loudly to the immediate opening of the office's sliding door.
"Yes, Captain?", replied an officer of the Division that had been posted just outside the room.
"Find Glacies for me, would ya?", she asked before turning back to her previous view of the Seireitei cityscape.
"Right away, ma'am!", the Shinigami replied in earnest. He exited the room quickly, making sure to close the door behind him before rushing off to fulfill his task.
Seia listened to the pattering echo of his run until it died out in the distance before resting her chin on an open palm and casting her gaze to the moon in the cold night sky. "I wonder if he's got a lecture for this", she mused.
Following a momentary silence, a quiet breeze swept past the window, quietly echoing the words, “Have you called for me, Captain Honoria?” And in that instant, a delicate blizzard surround the entire premises under the influence of a powerful, yet incredibly volatile Reiatsu unusual even for Glacies; the cryptic message and subsequent breach of the Nest of Maggots had clearly rattled his sanity to an extent, for whatever reason. “Please join me on the rooftop, for we have much to discuss, as surely you are aware.”
Hah, I should'a figured that would happen, a small smirk planted itself on Seia's lips and she made the necessary preparations to meet her Lieutenant. A cautionary look out of the window, to the ground below, and then a glance back into the dark of her office. With that she made sure the sake was closed up and then lightly tossed it behind her. It managed to hit the desk at an angle where only a portion of its momentum was lost so that it continued to slide, coming to a halt perfectly upright atop the Captain's desk proper.
Then it was a simple matter of pushing herself out the window. She fell quickly and with a fluttering loudness, caused by her haori being pushed around by the air. From an outside perspective she appeared to stop merely an inch above the ground before her entire body seemingly evaporated into nothing. Though the truth was simply that she used Shunpo to carry herself a single step to reach the roof. There were a couple of unceremonious clacks as her boots met the slated panels of the barracks' topmost layer. Her presence further became clear by the light sparks of electrical energy that manifested at random, coursing across slates all over the rooftop. Her Reiatsu had flew outward, a natural response to the pressure of someone else, especially someone with as much power as Glacies.
"That poor kid is gonna be runnin' 'round everywhere for you, y'know", stated the Captain casually.
“And if that 'poor little kid' cannot locate me even within the boundaries of my Reiatsu, then perhaps that is one subordinate best forsaken indefinitely,” replied Glacies with a similar tone as he opened his eyes, now illuminated with his power, and stood up to face his Captain. “But more importantly, how are you doing, Captain Honoria?”
It was a highly unusual question for Glacies to ask even as he had become considerably more docile living alongside one of the few individuals he had grown fond of over the years, but getting to the point of such a sensitive issue, he thought, could wait for a little longer—it was important not to seem even more troubled by the turn of events than his Captain and maintain his usual stoic demeanor, although the sudden upheaval of his Reiatsu would likely betray him in that regard.
"Oh I'm doing go-", she'd started only to back over on her leg in a fit of lost balance which nearly sent her careening off the side of the roof, though she had managed to right herself with time enough to prevent such an embarrassing event from taking place. She looked back at Glacies then threw her hands up as if in surrender. "Okay, maybe I'm a little tipsy", she admitted lightly though her expression quickly became more serious.
"How 'bout you, pup?", she asked with an affectionate reference. Seia could still feel the tingle of spiritual energy present in the voice that had spoken out, giving away its identity as a Kidō spell, and the likelihood that Glacies, and probably the rest of the Seireitei, had heard it. She was ready to broach the subject, it was just a matter on deciding who had to be the bleeding heart first, herself or her Lieutenant. She hoped it'd be him.
“I am fine, if a bit cold. Is that not ironic for a being who commands the blizzards such as I?” While Glacies lightly spoke those words as though he were joking, he did indeed feel somewhat cold in a sense. Following an uncomforting silence, he let out a barely audible sigh. “Am I to assume, knowing that you have indeed heard what I have, that you are familiar with that imperious man who seeks our audience?”
It was a rhetorical question, for the most part—Glacies had long been intimately familiar with every generation of the Gotei 13, including the first. During his adamant pursuit for knowledge, the history of figures such as Raian Getsueikirite piqued his utmost interest; consequently, he strove to document their accomplishments as much as he possibly could in his otherworldly tome. Raian's defection did not particularly surprise him; in fact, he had always considered it somewhat of a possibility. And, having already encountered many beings in his past one would need to witness to believe in their existence, along with having once been among them, he did not find the possibility of having to oppose Raian particularly frightening, even if he could do little in such a situation with only a fraction of the power he once possessed. So why, he asked himself, had the message left him so tense?
There was a smile through the sigh that she let escape. "Yeah, that's Rue...", she twirled a finger in the air emphasizing her intent to go back on what she'd said. "Er, Raian, he's old guard, like me, think he got kicked upstairs at some point", she spoke with a degree of thoughtfulness, trying to recall hearsay and loosely remembered tidbits through the light haze of her recent alcoholic binge. "Bit bullheaded, if he wants somethin' he'll go grab it, case in point", she cast her arm in the direction of the billowing smoke still rising from the recent attack on the Nest of Hidden Maggots.
"Thing is, I've seen most if not all he's talking about, Soul Society has a lot of enemies, and every time, without fail, they go right for the Human World. Sometimes its a measure to provoke us, other times its them lashing out because they can't take us on home turf", Seia was a person built up on all of those conflicts, and it reflected now as she spoke back on them. She clearly had regrets, but she didn't speak in anger or disgust. The softness she took to the topic could almost be mistaken for reminiscence or neutrality, of course she met many of her greatest allies and friends in those same battles as well. It was a hard idea to place, equally felt in the complexity of her tone if not her manner. "There's always signs of what's comin', but we always play defense, Shingen, Aizen, Yhwach, I don't know if we could'a won if we attacked first, maybe it'd'a been worse, but when we don't try things like Osaka happen".
Glacies solemnly shut his eyes as he reflected on his past as a human, or what little he could piece together of it from what he had once been told by Eriphyla. “I detested you Shinigami and shared similar sentiments of Soul Society as a human long ago,” he quietly mused; his wording made it evident to himself that he still felt somewhat distant from his Shinigami allies. “It was my brother's belief that humans would best be responsible for their own protection, and it was from that belief that he bestowed the power he had been granted upon others so that their fates needn't be dictated by the acts of spiritual entities. I stood loyally by my brother's side, although I did not always approve of his actions; it was under my leadership that his followers found purpose and prosperity, and yet my brother was always lauded for my own accomplishments. For all the power he possessed, my brother was a stolid, callow leader with no—”
Glacies, opening his eyes, briefly paused to shake his head, having nearly forgotten the purpose of his own diatribe. “In a way, I was a ruler of a prospering society, and that ruler was sometimes forced to make decisions which some would find... dissonant; I do have many regrets from those days, indeed. I had sealed away those whom I simply believed would one day threaten humanity and sent many others to their deaths. And, as a consequence, I had made many discreet foes of my own, including the woman I once loved, all of whom I considered my allies. In the end, a mutiny spawning from my very own circle of followers decreed that I had proven myself to be a threat of my own sort, and acted according to my own cruel measures, throwing the camaraderie we all shared into chaos. Even so, it was only a while after rising from the dead that I began to respect the power of karma. Were they wrong for having killed me? Perhaps not, for if I had continued my jaded ways, perhaps we would have all come to resemble Soul Society one day, for better or worse.”
The blizzard wrought by Glacies' Reiatsu finally began to fade away, signaling an end to his worry—he finally knew which path he would take. "What I mean to say, Captain Honoria, is that whatever choice you have to make—whichever side you wish to take—consider the consequences with an open mind and do not focus on the present alone. Whatever happens, I will not leave your side, as that is a lesson I have yet to learn myself.”
Kiki Shiramaru was in deep meditation.
Too troubled by the imminent mission she was tasked with carrying out the next day, she forgone sleep in favor of a blissful trance. Her Reishi flowed through her veins like a gentle brook, caressing her skin from within, giving her a warm glow that anyone would see as a translucent aura. In her mind's eye she visualized herself performing the many duties within the Division she had been assigned to only days ago. She had already familiarized herself with those under her wing, making it clear who does what and what their strengths or weaknesses are. It was a good placement for her and one she knew she'll eventually get used to having.
But, within the recent events transpiring within the World of the Living and outside influences she was troubled by what ramifications it'd impact the Soul Society. There was an ominous feeling that the Gotei itself was undergoing a drastic transformation and soon. She didn't know who or what was going to implement it, but she soon got her answer in the form of a telepathic transmission; from none other than the prodigious Captain, Raian Getsueikirite.
He was asking those within the Gotei 13 to join him, gathering up forces to meet at a reendevous point and leave the Soul Society. His words had a compelling, charismatic feel to them as they reached out to her. She hadn't known the man by personal interaction but by legend and reputation. He was a visionary, a warrior of unprecedented skill and power but also someone who held a very rash personality. Despite the Gotei's change of leadership, she knew much of the world she was trained, tutored and brought up in had changed little in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps a radical transition was in need and Raian was the one to do it? No, if that was the case he wouldn't ask people to abandon their posts and rally under his banner.
This wasn't a disagreement or a call to arms as comrades. This was a cry of war.
Clenching her teeth, her calm brook became a raging river that overflowed the boundaries of tolerance. Her personal quarters creaked and groaned as a blistering wind howled from her body, the gentle glow turning into a bright cerulean shine that threatened to destroy the enclosure she called her office. The Reiatsu was thick enough that anyone with a high intuitive sense for power would feel her in the dead of night.
"Captain!" A voice suddenly called, sliding the door open just in time to be hit by the excess wave of contained Spiritual Pressure. Such force that he hadn't expected that he felt himself flung back onto his backside, gasping for breath. Was this what it was like to catch Shiramaru in a bad mood?
"3rd Seat," She greeted the man, immediately snuffing out her wrathful aura and replacing it with professionalism. Turning to look at him, her Haori flourished around in tune with her ponytail's whipping gesture, "I trust you're here for the same reason I was...venting."
"Y-Yessir," He shuffled to a bowing posture, choosing humility rather than forwardness in the face of his barely restrained superior.
"It seems that a Civil War is inevitable," She mused out loud, looking out at the moon twinkling through the skylight of her rattled quarters, "and here I thought I'd have a seamless transition into the Gotei. Oh how lofty a goal that seems now, seeing that it is out of reach..."
"Captain?" The officer looked up with a query in his eyes.
"I assume the Division is fully aware of this," Captain Shiramaru stated, turning her gaze once more to her faithful subordinate. Gesturing with a wave of her arm, "gather them all into the courtyard! We will await summons by the Captain Commander while keeping in account of our troop number. We will not pursue the dissenters and we will not rush to our fellow Divisions. We will remain calm and ready in the face of this atrocity. Do I make myself clear, 3rd Seat?"
"Yes, Captain Shiramaru!" The Shinigami said with a clap of his arm over his broad chest, his body quickly disappearing in a bout of Shunpo.
"A wind of change is upon us," Kiki whispered to herself, her eyes looking once more at the moon, watching a gout of clouds slowly covering it and descending the night into pitch blackness, "and I fear the worst for the world...and the Soul Society."
The line of energy he had been following from the Tenteikura snapped off suddenly, and Hein swore under his breath. Projecting his senses to the west he noted with no small amount of annoyance that the intruder’s powerful Reiatsu had disappeared. He had issued a challenge and then slunk off to the Human World, it seemed. Hein slammed his foot down in anger as he took another step of Shunpo, the force of it sent him far forwards, the wind whipping around his ears.
The dark forms of the forest came into hazy existence in his net of sensory information as he sculpted the trees out from the horizon. He noted the many figures moving about across the surface of the ground, and the high amount of ambient spiritual pressure served to color his mind’s eye. The released prisoners were engaging with Shinigami, mainly from the Second Division he assumed, and there were a few points of concentrated energy where he knew higher-ranked officers had joined the fray. Well then. As he descended from the sky, plummeting through lashing branches to land with a dull thud on the ground, he wondered briefly if any who had been in the Maggot’s Nest were among his former gang members. But thinking back quickly he could not recall any who had been arrested by the Soul Society. This meant he could fight without restraint, and he grinned as he crouched in the depths of the shadows, tightening the cloth wraps around his wrists with his teeth.
He was concentrating on picking out his first target, or victim depending on how much force he used, when he noticed a different Reiatsu pervade his senses. One that was familiar, and normally calming. But tonight it seemed agitated, smothered perhaps. A distinctive scent accompanied the spiritual energy, sweet and heavy, thick perfume that was layered on citrus sweat. He stood up and turned his head to the side.
“Terrible indecent hour to be wanderin’ ‘bout the woods, ain’t it obahan?” he addressed the stranger casually, although his tone was tense and venomous.
From behind the man, a beautiful maiden appeared from within the shadows, her blue eyes dazzling beneath the moonlight. Though he could not see it for himself, the woman bore an unpleasant expression across her face, and evident by the atrocious jiggle of her planetary breasts, she was not the slightest bit pleased to have run into him, of all people, especially considering the circumstances that now befell them. Even in as grueling of a situation as this, Hein seemed quite joyous; he greeted and referred to her as his grandmother, which had been meant to be disrespectful, without a doubt. The history between the two was a mystery, though the fact that their relationship was now beyond repair remained. Rikuri had several horrid ideas plaguing her mind. Running into Hein topped the list.
Her hand fell onto the hilt of her Zanpakutō almost immediately, where it rested as she spoke. "I could ask you the same thing," though it traveled through her lips, produced from the softest material known to all of mankind, her tone was fierce, as if it had never truly known life. "Rather suspicious of you to be headed off in that particular direction, given the circumstances, is it not?"
Hein did not reply at once, turning his head from side to side as if scanning the area for eavesdroppers. He could perceive her movements, down to the minute detail of her thumb pressing against the hilt of her sword, and knew with certainty that she would not simply let him slip away without an answer. What indecent shit is it now? He turned to face her and spat to the side.
“Seems something real rough’s been troublin’ ya,” he said with a wide grin, and he motioned to the side. “I’ll state my case and such-and-such, but let’s say we take this exceptional little meeting of ours elsewhere, don’t ya say?”
"Just what I was thinking," without moving her hand from her blade, Rikuri's being vanished into thin air, leaving behind a flash of the sorts. Following her lead, Hein too, disappeared, beginning a new, separate confrontation.
Red Dawn, Blue Flame
The gray of early dawn was just beginning to spread across the horizon. Like a thin blanket, it colored the warm orange of the sunrise and turned the sky into a murky crimson glow. The clouds were brown smudges, and a thick haze rested over Karakura Town. From its outskirts, hidden in the shadows of the north mountain's side, the castle waited, holding its breath in the dead silence, as black shapes loomed overhead.
Chittering, unearthly cries and the beating of leathery wings filled the air as hundreds of dark blots rushed above the roof, screaming as they searched for prey. It seemed as though hell itself had split open its jaws and vomited forth a storm of fiends, and there was now very little time to act before the bat-like creatures swooped down to carry off the first human meals of the day.
But the Shinigami residing in the castle had other matters to deal with.
From the shadows around the structure's strong stone base, twelve soft blue lights appeared. The wavering of flickering, flame-like Reiatsu contrasted with the surrounding red of the atmosphere, and they crept through the darkness until reaching their designated points around the base of the castle.
The Oni were clearly under the control of an external power. Their actions were deliberate and well-coordinated. As each being took its place, they added a point of a barrier that hedged the area. Each placed their hands together as if in prayer and began to murmur low chants, and as they hummed the Reishi surrounding them began to curl more tightly about the castle's foundation.
Without warning fire ignited around their bodies, enveloping them in an aura of blue flame. As their chants escalated and reached their climax, the visage of the fire spiked upwards and extended in a hot, concentrated stream towards the castle. They climbed elegantly into the air as they soared above the roof before arcing downwards and, like a concentrated attack of missiles, crashed into the roof-tiles and exploded. The blast completely enshrouded the roof in an inferno of blazing blue heat. And as the fire was fed by the Oni's own spells, it continued to rage strongly. It seemed the intention was to destroy the top story completely and flush out the enemy Shinigami, or perhaps simply to wreak utter mayhem on the castle's inhabitants. But that was only the first stage to their plan. For hovering around the castle, outside the range of the explosion, twelve other shapes loomed, and waited silently for their prey to emerge.
Gazing at the complete destructive force of his Oni comrades, Kurozume's face gave birth to a sinister smirk. As the blue Oni shot their flaming magic at the castle, the opposing wind pushed his tied up hair back in the reflective direction. The man gave off a slight chuckle. His laughter danced in harmony as the flames from the Oni latched onto the top of the castle, and quickly travelled along the building.
"We leave no survivors here, do you understand?! Anyone that attempts to make way by ground, I want the red Oni to rip them to pieces. They escape by air, Ao, your men are to snipe 'em down. They either return with us, or lay here dead, there is simply no other option!" Turning to Ao and Aka, Kurozume made sure his words were clear. His voice, thunderous to the eardrums of both the "master" Oni. For returning to Rosa without this achieved was not an option, and a different suggestion would prove tedious.
"Understood, master." Ao and Aka spoke in unison, their deep, gravelling voices a low growl. Each was towering in stature, their bare chests wide and chiseled. Ao's skin was a deep blue, his short beard sharp and straight, while Aka was only different in the color of his skin; the color of old blood. What set them apart from their subordinates was the elaborate strings of thick beads hung around their necks, and they carried their war clubs slung across their backs. Their eyes glittered hungrily at the thought of destroying their enemies, and they followed Kurozume's orders without question.
Some distance away, ash and smoke billowed from the corpse of the castle, now a smoldering prison to the Shinigami undoubtedly trapped inside.
Inside the Fire
The two lieutenants who had been standing on the balcony only moments before had watched with abject horror as the chiropteran creatures had filled the horizon.
"What the hell are those things?" Takashi asked. They are predators. Their intent to kill is filling the air. Kohaku noted grimly. But what were they here to kill? As the demons rushed over the castle without pause, dread sunk in the pit of his stomach. "They must be after the humans," he said, "We have to stop them immediately!"
But at that moment, as he turned to tell Naomi their plan of action, a stream of blue fire rushed past the balcony. Its radius was thick and its speed apparent from the sudden blast of wind that accompanied it. It whistled as it soared above them before turning in on itself and rushing back down towards them. Blue fire was reflected in their wide eyes. There was barely anytime to react.
As quickly as she could, Naomi threw her palms out to create an emerald Kido barrier to shield them both from the blast. However, the barrier was only able to partially form before the flames were upon them, their sheer force enough to send both her and Takashi flying back into the castle, and devastating the balcony.
Naomi hit her back against one of the pillars of the main hallway, before falling flat on her front side. As she struggled to pick herself up, more debris from the blast began to fall upon her location. The rafters were buckling under the heat of the explosion, and as they cracked the walls started to fold in on themselves. Dust and smoke choked the air, and it was nearly impossible to see anything amidst the belly of the blinding heat and light.
"T-Takashi...!" she yelled out between her coughs, managing to bring herself up to her knees to scan her environment. The heat was unbearable, and that combined with the suffocating smoke surrounding her made her not want to move from her spot, but she knew that staying where she was would only get her killed. As she struggled to bring herself to her feet, she noticed that her Spiritual senses were dampened, possibly by the impact of the blast or from the pillar she had crashed in to, making it harder for her to find Takashi's location.
She pulled her sword from it's sheathe, her grip weary, and she began to carefully tread through the parts of the hallway that weren't ablaze. "I can't sense anything; you'll have to yell for me, or something that can show me where you're at!" she yelled aloud, not considering that her voice could draw their attackers to their location. To her dismay, there was no answer, only the raging inferno that was closing in on her.
Her options were limited; she could either keep searching for Takashi and risk getting burned alive, or find a way to get herself out and leave him there to die. She immediately discarded the second option, but she was still hesitant to go any further. She realized that if she were to use a Kido spell to dampen the fires, it would only draw their attackers towards them, and she was in no condition to fight them off, especially considering how effective their initial attack was. "... fuck!" she cursed in a raspy voice under her breath, now having no idea how to proceed.
But then, just barely, she could hear a shrill, repetitive cry rising above the noise. It was a hawk's call, sharp and urgent. But the sound was faint, and just barely audible. It seemed it was coming from deeper within the burning building, hidden in dark smoke.
Naomi's attention snapped towards the direction of the squalls, a glimmer of hope appearing in her eyes. "Kohaku!" she said aloud as she made her way towards the hawk as quickly as she could, sliding above and under fallen rafters and carefully treading past the spurts of fire that dotted the path. The devastation here was much worse than the other parts of the building. It seemed the entire section had been obliterated. Thick chunks of rubble blocked her path, bricks and wood crossing the ground like a spider's web. She finally reached them. Kohaku was on the ground, scratching frantically at a pile of charred wood and stone. But there was no sign of Takashi.
Without a moment's notice, she began to frantically lift up the debris where Kohaku was scratching at, it's weight not being as big an issue as what she was afraid she would find under it. It wasn't likely that something like this could actually kill Takashi, but she knew that he could be seriously injured. Finally, she managed to lift most of the wood and stones out of the way to find Takashi, unconscious and trapped under a fairly large beam.
"Oh thank god..." she said briefly before she wrapped her arms around the beam and picked it up, throwing it to the side and then dragging Takashi out of his formerly covered hole. "This makes two, asshole." she grumbled as she picked him up and wrapped one of his arms over her shoulders, using her right hand to hold him up and her left wrapped around his waist to keep him up. "If you jump on me again like you did earlier after this, I'll slap the shit out of you!" she continued before she scanned her environment, trying to find a way out.
Takashi had stirred when she had moved him, and now he moaned softly. Blood was caked on one side of his head, although he now seemed at least partially aware of himself and his surroundings, although he made no other response. Kohaku had once again taken her place on his shoulder, and seemed to be silently urging for Naomi to proceed. It was all up to her now, and they were running out of time.