This article, Tale of Survival: Joint Resolve, is the final chapter of the Meian's Legacy mini-arc, which is part of Bleach: Cataclysm. It follows Kentaro Hiroshi and Naoko Izuru as the POV characters, with Shūhei Hisagi, Yori Hisagi, Akiye, Garian Shinjo and Kenji Hiroshi as support.
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Kentaro exclaimed. “That's the best news we've heard all day.”
As he finished addressing the speaker, who was a massively tall man with silver-hair and a wrinkled face and powerful muscles at odds with his advanced age, Kentaro turned to look at his friend. The difference was centuries. Whilst Garian was aged and withered Hisagi was youthful and fit. The relief that settled across Hisagi's scarred and tattooed face was unmistakable and when Kentaro clapped him on the shoulder in a congratulatory manner he saw tears in his friends' eyes.
“I thought he was dead.” Hisagi whispered. “Garian mentioned the possibility of Naoko having survived as well. He said Yori claimed Meian was the one who saved them. If that's true I need to find her too. I promised Kira that I would look out for her.”
Mention of Kira Izuru brought a look of sadness to Hisagi's face as he recalled his long-dead friend.
At the same time Kentaro's happiness died a little at the mention of his uncle. Meian had been weakened considerably following the sealing of Hakyoku and confined to his bed for rest and recovery, but his recovery had only begun when the Collapse tore the worlds apart. If he really had saved Yori and Naoko then it was as good as confirmed, for to work Kido of that level in his state...
Meian Shiba was dead and already the world felt that little less bright.
“... I'm sorry about Meian.” Hisagi said, noticing Kentaro as he cleared the tears from his eyes. He gripped his friends shoulder. “He was a good man.”
“He was.” Kentaro admitted. “But he wasn't a man who sat on his hands and he wouldn't want me to be either. So let's go!” As Hisagi turned to leave Kentaro, in a whisper, said; “I can't let his death be in vain.”
Naoko felt blood trickle down her side but even so she never slowed her step. As the day progressed she told herself that Yori couldn't have been transported that far away from where she had come through, and it was very much that belief that kept her moving. The pain in her side was incredible; walking was difficult because of it, even breathing was hard.
It was just her luck that she had encountered a Hollow or three on her journey. Despite her wounded state she had defeated them all using her Zanpakuto but the effort left her that much more drained.
“Why is it always me who finds the annoying things?” She asked aloud, complaining.
Her memories first drifted to the first real missions she had ever undertaken for the Gotei 13. She'd found her share of annoying Hollow then too. But what really took the biscuit was when she and Yori, who where nothing but children at the time, had encountered Oda's Battle Dolls. They where the first to do so, she added as an afterthought. Her spirits lifted a little at that even if finding them had nearly killed them. Secondly her memories drifted to Heisekai and her adventures there. She recalled how Ryan Kuchiki insinuated that Itazura was using them because they where an unknown factor, which had annoyed her. But it worked out in the end.
The pain in her side became too much and she stumbled forward.
“You shouldn't have left May's house.”
The man who spoke this stopped her short of falling. Something in the voice was familiar; Naoko was certain she had heard it before, though she couldn't place it. But pain had left her vision cloudy. She wasn't sure who the man was even though he was standing right in front of her. All she could determine was long black hair that obscured his features and his height, which was about six-foot or so. Again... she just wasn't sure.
“Stay still; this won't take long.” He assured.
She felt a warm energy caress her wounded side and, in but a few heartbeats, the pain and discomfort was gone. Her vision cleared too and then she finally recognized her saviour as he assumed his full height and the hair parted to reveal a youthful face and ancient, but kind, light green eyes. Her mouth almost struck the floor!
“Yeah, it's me.” The voice said, pressing a finger to her lips. “You had May scared. She didn't think you'd recover on your own so she sent for me, asking for my help. But I promised I was going to stand aside in the future and not get myself involved anymore.”
“... Why then?” She asked. “Why did you save me?”
The smile he returned made her feel at ease completely.
“Standing aside is all well and good in theory.” The man said. “But then I was never any good with theory. Say hello to Kentaro for me.”
With that he turned on his heel and walked away.
“Oh! Before I forget: Yori's safe. Kusaka saw to that. He'll be in the Reikai by now with his old man. If you wait here for roughly thirty minutes someone – probably Hisagi – will be along to collect you.”
Naoko, waving, could say only one thing in reply, and that was: “Thank you... Kenji.”
“... So... it was my father?” Kentaro said, grinning.
“It's so like him.” Akiye admitted with a chuckle. “But still. It's good to know some of the old Kenji survives.”
“What do you mean?” Naoko asked, confused. “Did something happen to Kenji?”
It fell to Kentaro to bring her and Yori – who almost fell head-over-heels rushing to Naoko upon seeing her again – up to speed regarding the Collapse. He explained that the “storm” that tore through Horiwari was repeated throughout the realms; only Kohai Tochi, which had been protected through means unknown to him, had escaped unharmed. The list of deceased struck both speechless and left Kentaro himself fighting back the tears. His own wounds where still raw even if he had come to own his decisions that day.
“That's the situation I'm afraid.” Kentaro said at last. “The Reikai is at war though no one seems to want to admit it. The Gotei Remnant isn't doing anything to fix the Spirit Cycle of Souls and the Imawashi are killing anyone who try to restore order, which is what we are trying to accomplish.”
“... I want to help.” Naoko declared.
“Me too!” Yori said right after. “I'll do anything! Kurokawa has to pay!”
“... You're more than welcome.” Akiye admitted. “We need all the help we can get.”
“But before you do anything I want you both to get settled. Hisagi will see to it.”
At this mention Hisagi leaned off the far wall and approached his son, placing his hand upon his shoulder. He then reached out his other hand to grip Naoko's shoulder.
As they where lead away Kentaro looked to the heavens. “They made it Meian. They made it.”