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"I will always be watching over you..."

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The War of Four: The Hunter and the Hunted is an article created by Achrones150. Use is allowed with the permission of the owner, with the exception of collaboration-created articles.

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The War of Four: The Hunter and the Hunted, Act I

The Sting Operation! Time lapse from the Apocalypse

"Nnnnngh...mmmm...wh-what?" Hyōryū moaned aloud as she wearily opened her eyes as light began flooding the room from the window across her bed. It had been nearly three weeks since the earth shattering and quite surprising moment that caused her body and mind to go into shock as the recorded "Plinian Eruption" shocked the spiritual and living worlds to its very core. Yūrei Okōku's war with the fanatical Red Sun Cult, the Ahijados, had all but a big sham to create the necessary blood needed for the Eruption that occured. However, as a chance of fate, one lone Lieutenant of the Soul Reapers gathered there had managed to dissuade the Hankami from their plans and officially gave them the chance to set things right. After the confirmed defeat of the accounted Hankami responsible for the Eruption, the world receded to its former state. But its scars were not forgotten upon the populace as a whole...

Regardless, Hyōryū had done the best of the V-14's femme half of the group in taking it in stride. After drinking herself to sleep for a week, she eventually adapted and had only lingering moments when she'd remember her body plastered to a organic nightmarish building that had been the result of the Eruption's temporary affects. Still, after it all went down, she and Anton had a serious victory "celebration" back at her apartment.

Speaking of which...Hyōryū looked around to spot her Russian nationality boyfriend, expecting him to be lying next to her under the covers or somewhere nearby.

He had disappeared from the bed.

But the sound of running water could be heard within her bathroom. Sometime or other, he had gotten out of bed in order to get himself prepared for the day. It was natural for him, being an early bird and always sleeping for the minimum limit, even after last night's activities. He just didn't know the meaning of the word "exhaustion".

"Antooooon!" Hyōryū moaned out to him, rolling off the bed with a thump, growling slightly before getting up and walking bare skinned, disregarding the fact her bed hair laid flowed with slight frizzed hairs here and there. Also the fact she was in the nude did not bother her in the least, as she-or rather they-have gotten accustomed to their fully exposed anatomies.

Opening the cracked door to the shower, she walked in with a frizzed blank look as she walked right into the shower, grabbing a hold of him with her arms from behind, a pouty look accompanied her face as she rested her cheek against his back, "You didn't bother to say good morning, meanie..."

"Oh, damn it, I knew she would do that."

Anton's eyes widened when he felt the woman suddenly take ahold on him, involuntarily leaning forward a little. However, his expression immediately turned to a frown and a slightly exasperated look. "I was going to do that when you woke up, you know..." He drawled, cocking a slight eyebrow. "...and when I got properly dressed." He rolled his eyes. "Don't act so melodramatic, it's so unlike you."

"Not...when I get woken up...in the morning," Hyōryū countered, groaning afterwards before leaning up and planting a kiss on the back of his neck, whispering to him, "you hurry up. I want to have some time with you before Shadō wakes up and decides to interrupt. Again!"

SLAP!

Hyōryū lightly slapped Anton's hind quarters as she left the shower, grabbing one of the towels hanging on the rack, wrapping her body over her shoulders so her own body wouldn't be too obscured. As she shasayed her hips and legs out of the room, she turned her head briefly, her wet locks waving almost majestically across the bright lit air, biting her lip as she winked at him before disappearing out of the bathroom to get dressed herself.

"Pffft...."

Anton shook his head sagely at her antics. It was always direct and blunt when it came to the likes of her. By now, he had gotten used to how she acted when it came to him and her. It was a good thing he was raised to be a light-hearted and easy-going man, otherwise he would've never coped with it. He also had to roll his eyes again at the mention of "spending some time with him". If he knew she was going to tell him that, why did he even bother to get in the shower?

But as he continued to focus on the shower, his ears picked up a light knocking from the door leading into the woman's room. Was that Shadō? Or had Angelika and Oliver come early?

A faint clicking sound could be heard even over the drops of water in Anton's shower, as Hyōryū, clad in only a t-shirt and shorts, with her hair laid over her shoulders faintly wet as she moved towards the knocking on the door, aiming it at the object of annoyance.

"Oliver, you even think of interrupting his shower, I'll shoot your balls off where you stand. Capiche?" Hyōryū said briskly and to the point as she defended her boyfriend like a panther her young. Surprising side of herself in her own mind that she had become incredibly more protective of those she cared about since...the Eruption. Now, with life being as brief as Hyōryū as ever seeing it, her ideas and instincts changed ever so slightly in her character. Her antics, however, have not, unforunately for the rest of V-14.

"Do you seriously think Oliver would bother to knock?"

Interestingly enough, it wasn't the American-accented blonde that spoke, but rather the lax, German accent that only belonged to Angelika. "As soon as you are dressed, meet us downstairs. We have some things to discuss." With that being said, footsteps could be heard going back downstairs, effectively ending any counter Hyōryū would've had to her.

"He has, believe it or not," Hyōryū unapologetically retracted her gun and "holstered" it onto a open part of her shorts, knocking on the door connecting the bathroom, "hurry up, lover boy! You heard the boss."

"Yes, dear..."

With that sarcastic statement, Anton pushed the door open and stepped out. He was clad in his own common attire; a blue T-shirt with brown pants and black tennishoes. He had his hands shoved within his pockets, his head tilted slightly to the side. "Did she say what she wanted?" He questioned, cocking a slight eyebrow and frowning.

Wrapping a arm around his waist, she playfully nuzzled his arm as she walked with him down the hall and the stairs, halfheartedly shrugging, "Don't know...she said we have stuff to talk about. I think it might have something to do with what happened several weeks ago. We all kinda...didn't really resolve to change anything after it was over, so maybe she's got a game plan."

"Right..."

Anton spoke nothing further of it, allowing himself to walk with Hyōryū with his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He was pretty sure Oliver was going to tease him for what had developed between him and the woman. But, at this particular moment in time, he could not bring himself to care. The blonde would just have to cope with whatever attitude he had towards it.

As for Angelika, though...

When they had reached the downstairs level, Anton could immediately see the cross-legged-sitting figure of Angelika in one of the chairs. Oliver was messing around with a PSP he had brought with him, eyes concentrated on whatever game he was playing.

Hyōryū spotted Oliver, briefly twitching at the sight of him before saying, "Playstations are shit," before turning her smirk towards Angelika, "what's up boss?"

"I know." Oliver grumbled, his teeth gritted slightly as he turned the PSP this way and that. "I asked for an XBox, but the sons of bitches gave me this instead and said I couldn't get a refund... or return it for that matter! The only thing that kept me from smashing their faces in was the fact that they gave me this better-than-average racing game."

Anton put his free hand into his pocket, looking with a slightly interested eye towards Oliver. "What's it called?"

"Need for Spe--"

That was when Oliver looked up to look at Anton - and stopped at the sight of him and Hyōryū holding each other. His look changed from concentrating to completely shocked, his mouth formed into a small "o" shape.

A slightly amused smile crossed Angelika's face as she held up a cup of tea. "Looks like you lose the bet, Holmes." She said, not hiding her smugness. "Blink a few times, pinch yourself, and make sure to leave the money at my desk in an hour."

"Wait a minute, you?!" Oliver's shock was becoming more and more apparent. He pointed a finger at Hyōryū and then at Anton, continuing to speak. "With Laz-E-Boy over here?! You've got to be kidding!!"

Hyōryū smirked, leaning more into Anton's shoulder with her face as she replied, "This lazy boy over here is more a man than you ever can or will be, Olly."

"What's all the commotion about?" Shadō Kariudo asked as his form appeared out of the shadows near Oliver, his hair already hung against his cloaked and armored form, as he crossed his arms over his large chest, his tall intimidating form radiated uncertainty and...lathargy.

By now, Oliver was used to him popping up out of nowhere as he did. However, he continued to direct his speech towards the two, albeit having to ignore Anton's amused smirk. "I was expecting something with Sadass, of all people!" He scowled, throwing himself back into his seat and lowering his PSP. "Damn it... there goes a good part of my paycheck."

"Ah! There you are, Shadō...." Angelika's own smile faded away as she looked at the dark man. "Something wrong?" She could easily sense the uncertainty he was emanating from his person.

"Its nothing to worry about," Shadō deflected with a soft smile on his pale features, "just...still trying to get my meditations and sleep since that day happened. I'm still adjusting to it, but I'm more interested on what you wanted to discuss with us?"

Hyōryū twitched, ignoring the compulsion to shoot Oliver's balls with the gun halfway tucked into her shorts, but realized she still was in a comfortable position with Anton. Instead, she directed her terse tone to Angelika, "So...what's this job you want us to do? I mean...that's why you didn't knock and barge into my house again, right?"

"There's no job today..." Angelika closed her visible eye and lifted her head to lie back on her own seat. "I simply wanted to address a few things. One of them would be an update concerning our ranks. After doing some calls, I've managed to find people interested in joining our little organization. In a few days, we'll be acquainted with them. I've already formed their own four-man team as tradition to the V-14's workings, and they're in progress of finding their own HQ to set up in."

She opened her eyes, passing a slight glare towards the ones she knew had a habit of causing trouble. "So, once we meet them, don't cause any unnecessary trouble. That means you too, Holmes and Fusoku."

"Yes, ma'am..." Oliver drawled sarcastically, rolling his eyes and returning his eyes to his PSP game.

"No promises, boss," Hyōryū said with a pouty expression, "if they deserve it, I will certainly kick their balls."

"A new team? You found members in just three weeks?" Shadō inquired with a raise of his brow, as if he knew something about Angelika's procuring of another team to expand V-14's roster.

"I have my resources." Angelika answered simply, taking a sip of her tea. "Now, for the second concern..." She paused for a moment, her eyebrows furrowing. "This has yet to be confirmed, but there seems to be increased activity within the Rukongai made by Soul Society. I can only assume the potential attraction was courtesy of what happened with our last contract prior to the Eruption. If anything, I'd be surprised that they would be so quick as to act."

"That Captain Takuji is sure a piss-ant," Hyōryū said nonchalantly, waving her free arm for emphasis, "we mess up one job of his in one day when he had all week to take them out. Should've had a better info network if all he needed was the details of the stupid craps that made a f***tastic gun!"

Shadō sweatdropped, "We've been over this and yet you're still mourning over a gun? What exactly would you shoot with something of that scale?"

"Anything!" She shouted with glee, causing him to drop his head with dread, "why do you ask?"

Oliver allowed a small sneer to cross his face. "The more I hear her talk, the more sorry I feel for you, Ruso. Enjoy being an indiscriminate target whenever it's that time of the month. Can't say you didn't earn it!" His grin grew even wider when Anton shot him a dirty look and a scowl.

"I've already notified our new team of this." Angelika continued on. "That way, we can all be on the alert and effectively notify each other whenever something new comes up. However, there's no need to be alarmed. We just maintain a low profile and stay sharp."

C-CLICK, WHIRRRRRR!

Hyōryū swiftly pulled her gun out of her pants, cocking back the safety to its lowest setting and aimed it at Oliver's hind quarters, the priming of the weapon powering up could be heard in the room, "Keep talking, bub, and you'll have to buy a vowel at the end of this piece, saavy?"

Shadō sighed, before asking Angelika, "Should we take on individual jobs until the 10th Division's troops clear out, or should we still continue buisness, but with less...explosions?"

The moment that Hyōryū whipped out her pistol, Oliver had done the same.

Now, both of their barrels were pointed at each other, with Oliver still sporting the haughty smirk. "You wanna know what they say for people who automatically pull out their pistols as a retort to an insult?" He drawled, raising his one free hand up in a gesture of peace. "It means that they're admitting defeat and have to resort to violence. But let's not get carried away here. After all, if those samurai shitheads happen to come by and one of us has a limb blown off courtesy of friendly fire... then there's a higher chance of all of us being screwed."

"Business is still necessary..." Angelika closed her eye again, taking another sip of tea. "But we'll take up less missions that involve destruction. Of course, we really didn't have to blow up that cannon in the first place, and that option would've stayed had it not been for the intervention of that Arrancar." She was purposely turning a blind eye towards the two who had guns pointed at one another. As far as she was concerned, it was just another day.

"I can say the same for people who don't know how to shut up," Hyōryū said before retracing her own weapon with a grim nod of understanding, "but yeah, I'll holster it. For now..."

"Its unfortunate that we didn't get him identified with who he was working for," Shadō stroked his chin, while propping his elbow up as he spoke aloud in thought, "I'm concerned...that he was not working for the Ahijados but was leaning towards their way in the war. Or if it wasn't really for the Ahijados, then who would he bring it to? This all could be a elaborate front for everyone to believe the cultists were making it for the Ahijados rather than fantatics being used by a benefactor. I should investigate into this..."

"Whatever you feel is necessary...." Angelika said calmly. "But considering he was interested in the weapon instead of us... I don't think it would be too important to delve on it."

"Hopefully, we won't have to deal with him again... at the very least, as an enemy." Anton piped in, scratching his nose with his free hand.

"I don't think I would want him as an ally," Shadō said with a slight shudder, as his eyes closed, "feeling that spirit energy I absorbed...it was filled with the most detached apathy and malice I ever felt from a spiritual being. We should keep on our toes when dealing with an Arrancar like that again, to have singlehandedly fought all of us...I'd hate to see him fully release his power like Kenja Kodai had."

Suddenly, interrupting their musings was the immediate ringtone of Angelika's phone. Enrico was read as the caller of the phone, oddly, considering buisness hadn't been so hot lately with the 10th Division cracking down on all sides of the Rukon Districts.

Coolly, Angelika pulled the phone from her coat pocket, flipped it on, and pressed the talk button, placing it to her ear. "Enrico? Let me guess. The 10th Division's being a bit harsh on you, as well?" She questioned immediately, getting right to the point of things.

"Angelika! Oh thank spirit king you picked up! You have to get out of there, right NOW! I don't know how, but I just got word of 10th Division troops setting up a perimeter around your safehouse right now, and they're not doing a regular sweep. They're ready to take you out cause they're packing heat as well as their shiny blades!"

Shadō suddenly looked a little alert as he just now began picking up the presences around them, sniffing the air for their "scent". "We've got trouble," Shadō said as he directed his gaze to all of the team members, as he grabbed his hat off the coat rack as well as melding into the shadows, readying his gear out of sight.

That was enough to render Angelika on the alert.

She quickly downed her cup of tea before setting it on the table, quickly setting up and speaking to Enrico in a business-like and sharp tone. "How many of them are there, exactly? Can you estimate?" She asked, her eyes narrowing as she walked over to one of the nearby cabinets. It wasn't surprising to know that 10th Division members would find them with the crackdown. However, it was surprising that they had done it so quickly. Surely, they wouldn't have simply located the right house on their own in so little time...

Did Yashin inform them somehow?

"I don't know, but from the sound of all the Hell Butterfly messages, I'd reckon nearly half of the 10th Division. But there's something off about the distances they keep spouting...," Enrico spoke over the comm, as he himself began examining the notes he deciphered from the communique from the 10th Division.

Hyōryū growled, suddenly realizing what was up and began hurrying back to her room, slamming the door as she began outfitting herself with all the necessary weaponry she could. She smiled almost predatorially at the thought of using that against the 10th Division....

"Oh, fuck..."

Oliver, prompted by Angelika's call, took to sneaking a look out the window... and was nearly floored by what he saw. His eyes widened, and he immediately took a step back from the venation blinds. He turned towards the group in entirety, complete shock and surprise on his face. "Their captain must've been on his fucking period or something. I'm seeing a whole damn battalion right outside!!" He exclaimed.

Anton immediately ran over to his side, placing his hand on the wall beside the window and closing his eyes. "What the hell did we do to piss them off to the extent that they'd have half their army centered at one location...?" He whispered audibly, confusion clear in his tone. "More importantly, wouldn't this be a waste of resources... just for the sake of five individuals?"

"It may be the threat we unintentionally caused when Anton-san used that technique to obliterate that neighbourhood and absorb the Kido they tried to ensare us with," Shadō said as he appeared from the shadows, fully equipped and his Zanpakuto visibly sheathed across his backside, hidden behind his bodily covering cloak.

"You'd think they'd forget about that once that f'ing Eruption plastered our bodies to our f'ing beds!" Hyōryū said as she walked out, carrying the case holding that weapon that left a psychological imprint on their minds whenever she used it, causing Shadō to sweatdrop at seeing it.

"Huh..."

Oliver frowned, tilting his head to the side and placing his hands into his pockets. "You know..." He muttered, lowering his head for a moment in thought. "Normally by now, they'd be yelling at us some big announcement that they have us surrounded and that we should surrender while we're still breathing." He raised his head once he finished his sentence, revealing a cocked eyebrow and a skeptical frown. "Wonder why they're not doing that?"

"So they're probably after me in particular..." Anton grumbled, letting out a heavy sigh and bumping his head lightly against the wall. "Chto za huy, I feel so wanted..."

"They're after all of us, Pinko!" Oliver said in annoyance, shifting his head to his partner in order to glare at him. "Don't try and flatter yourself here!"

"You got anything else for me, Enrico?" Angelika questioned, finally holding up what she was looking for. It was her HCA-50 pistol, kept safe and sound. "If you do, keep talking to me. I need to know everything possible."

"Waitaminute, señora," Enrico said as he heard some whispered chatters and suddenly the chatters almost all but stopped, as Enrico took a audible gulp, almost whispering, "Angelika...if you're going to leave...now's as good as time as any-"

"V-14!" A voice shouted, augmented by a Hell butterfly fluttering next to his head, his white Haori flowering over his overcoat with no arms sleeved in them. His arms crossed, his eyes narrowed and his mouth moved in a calm, yet threatening gesture, "we know you are in there! This is Captain Shindo Takuji of the 10th Division of the Gotei 13! Surrender yourselves peacefully, or we will come in with force. Resist, and we will kill you! You have 20 seconds to comply!"

The War Begins: The Line Between Good and Evil

Hyōryū's eyes widened with excitement, as she looked out the window Oliver was moments ago, and saw why the company of men were distanced so much. The Captain himself was standing out before the house, with Zanpakuto drawn, staring right at the house, "Oh shiiiit! The Captain himself is out there shouting at us to come with our hands up! Hehehe!" She rushed over like a girl on Christmas Morning, sliding to her knees as she began unbuckling the locks on her case before revealing a very large, artillery-grade Kido rifle with one name that earned its name from all foes and comrades alike. The Executor.

She unloaded it and began arming it with the essential attachments as well as the VERY large ammo magazine into it, causing Shadō to nervously raise a hand in protest.

"Please don't tell me you're going to shoot that thing, are you?" Shadō began to say, before earning a gleaming star-filled eye stare at him while priming the weapon, "you are aren't you?"

"Desyatʹ sekund do oruzhiya zagruntovatʹ," the weapon announced much to a girl squeal from Hyōryū, saying to Anton with a almost girly tone, "I translated my baby to speak Russian, that way, I can remember you every time I start and fire this loveable thing."

"For that particular weapon?" Anton turned his head to meet her eyes in surprise, before half-lidding them and putting on an amused, yet mirthful grin. "Dear, you flatter me far too much."

"EUGH, gag!" Oliver opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue in an expression of disgust and disdain, even as his hands reached and whipped out his trademark dual pistols from their holsters. "I thought love and romance was supposed to be kept out of warfare. Don't you know how fuckin' creepy that is? That's the first signs of a stalker, sister."

"We'll be taking the front door, Enrico..." Angelika said smoothly, already getting into position and taking cover behind the walls. "I'll call you back after we're done in the next several minutes." She raised her free hand in order to motion to the others. "We fire when he counts down to three. Make sure you're in your positions."

"Oruzhie Gruntovka," the Executor chimed in, causing Hyōryū to smile back gleefully, before playfully turning the priming weapon's barrel at Oliver, saying, "You obviously never been in bed with me to know a good piece when you see it." She began taking position at the end of the living room, activating her scope, "You obviously haven't seen Anton's sword either. This thing, isn't nearly as good as he his in bed."

Shadō groaned as he placed his hand over his face even as he stepped into the shadows, "Please...giving it a voice is going to make me want to run for cover even more..."

Tamenkyome! "Ten seconds, V-14!" Shindō spoke as his eyes flashed into its ocular Kidō state, allowing him to see the individual spiritual auras of each of the V-14 members. From what he sees, he already knew from intel. The one he saw activate that Kidō initiated that took apart an entire neighbourhood as well as a good portion of the plantlife there within the outskirts of the Northeastern Rukon District was the most bright one within his eyes. Another one that was "bright" in its own regards was the man holding the Zanpakuto and a menacing aura within himself. The other three were the respective members with respectable Spiritual auras of their own, but nothing to be concerned of.

However he delayed his count as he saw a resonance coming from what appeared to be a particular weapon being bore upon them. He could only wonder what scale of destruction it had, and began resuming count, "7 seconds!"

"Vybor tselevoyu dlya vypolneniya," the Executor spoke once more as she aimed her target, asking briefly to Angelika, "shoot to kill or to piss their pants? Or both?"

A smile came across Angelika's face, her eyes narrowing. "The Captain needs to know the consequences for crossing the V-14. Both will do." She spoke calmly, her tone expressing nothing more than tranquil malice. She shut the phone off, slipping it back into her coat pocket.

"Perfect," the tomboy weaponsmaster all but smiled as she took aim for the bulk of the force facing the house.

Shindō roared out again over his Hell butterfly augmented voice amplifier, "3 seconds!-"

KRACK-BOOM!

The safehouse on which they were in, crackled in air pressure from the sheer power behind the shot, only moving Hyōryū surprisingly as a orange bordered white center bolt flew from the end of the Executor, leaving out the hole of the worn, ramshackle excuse of a window towards its target, unintentionally taking the wall of the house with it.

As the bolt screamed with indescriable speed, Shindō's eyes could only widen as he saw a huge amount of condensed spiritual energy, ready to be released upon impact. Swiftly, he began to shout out, "Incoming!-"

BOOOOOOOOM!

As soon as the bolt hit squarely in front of a building the men were gathered in the alleys and in front of it, the concussive force was enough to shatter it to pieces, before a bright orange glow enveloped the whole area, roaring around as it exploded with enough force to take out half of the battalion that stood in front of them, horrifying Shindō as he saw his men die within a instant just yonder.

This...was the second time, Shindō gave pause as he examined the mushroom cloud in exhaust of the faded orange energy that left view of all those within bird's eye distance.

"Tselevaya vypolneny," the Executor announced, much to a hair windblown gleefully smiling Hyōryū, sighing in a sense somewhere close to ecstacy, "that was...awesome! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

That was when all Hell cut loose.

Anton vs Shindō: Vengeance Match

BANG! BANG BANG!

BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!

Angelika and Oliver opened fire immediately, shooting with terrifying accuracy and precision. Every shot connected with at least one part of their targets' bodies. As they fired, they moved outward into the street through the hole that Hyōryū made. They would probably be the only three who needed to utilize cover and not jump into the fray directly.

"You all just signed your death warrants!!!" Oliver jeered, as he continued to unleash suppressing fire on their position. "NO one crosses the V-14 and lives!!!"

"Damn right!!!" Anton gloated.

WOOSH!

While Angelika and Oliver were attacking from a distance, Anton used the moment in order to jump into the fray directly, his Kiriken swords summoned in each hand. Unlike them, he could handle himself in the middle of a warzone and could get up close and personal with his enemies. It was only natural for him to fight head-on while his comrades flanked his outside.

"Give them my love, baby!" Hyōryū said as she moved to the other side of the house, now aiming at the other frantic and confused half of the batallion of Soul Reapers, squeezing the grenade launcher attachment. With several squeezes, a rain of enflamed metalic shrapnel ripped apart the buildings while igniting them, as well as slaughtering a good portion of the troops there who didn't take proper action.

Shindō on the other hand began clenching his jaw, and balling his fists while clenching his sword handle. "You...dare...," his voice grew loud, as he unintentionally let his Hell butterfly in range of his voice, his eyes suddenly picked up the moving form of Anton, watching him land and begin personally attacking his men, "to kill...my men?!"

VRRRRRRRRCRRRRACK!

Shindō's body radiated with a blue, electric aura as wrath and fury broke the dirt earth and air, his sword became awakened without voice command, as a sheen veil of blue electricity coated it, "You've signed your death warrant, V-14!!!"

WOOSH, CRACK-CLANG!

Shindō then moved towards Anton first, already determining him as the first threat. His lightning coated sword clashed against his Kiriken blades crackling and blazing violently, his Tamenkyome eyes glared with killing intent as his spiritual pressure coated his body, "You're first...Anton Semenov!"

It was enough to send a chill down Anton's spine.

He wasn't afraid. But Shindō's rage and hatred seemed to wash over him like bad blood. A bead of sweat fell down his face, and his grin slowly grew at the other man's challenge. It wasn't out of anger, or insanity... but rather, it was simple anticipation. He knew he was going to be in for one hell of a fight, and that the Captain would hold nothing back. There was no reason to, after all. "Am I?" He shot back, fighting against his opponent's strength. "Then I'm going to enjoy every bit of this... not as much as I enjoy company with my girlfriend, mind you... but very close to it."

With that, he executed a swift parry and threw himself at Shindō, the blades swinging in a flurry of fast, fluid, and ferocious attacks. On top of that, he mixed in kicks along with his swings in order to keep the other man on his toes.

"Oh, great!!" Oliver snapped, pausing briefly and taking cover to reload behind a building. "Pinko's decided to take the Captain by himself. What a fuckin' show-off!!"

Shindō simply smiled back with predatorial enjoyment. His body matched Anton's move for move, his slightly shorter stature was given no sight of a disadvantage as twirled his lightning infused Zanpakuto to crackle and clash with that of Oliver's pair of Kido-summoned swords. He even switched hands to block and kick back at Oliver, flipping his cloaked form around without dropping his Haori, showing the depth of skill he retained.

As Shindō used Flash Step away, he reappeared behind Anton, stabbing into the ground, "I got you!" The sounds of thousands of birds chirping along with crackling volts of lightning suddenly ran along the ground before rising indefinitely high into the air, as several miniature pyres of electricity soared into the air while flowing across the air and taking out several walls of proximate buildings.

"Wanna bet?!"

In response, Anton briefly dispelled the Kiriken swords in order to boost himself several feet off the ground with a Flash Step. He turned his attention below him to see the arcs of electricity come his way, extending his hands out.

"Danku!"

The electricity streams hit and were halted by the Kidō shield that had been timely summoned by the Russian, keeping him safe from harm.

Shindō's eyes narrowed at the transparent, two story tall shield that repelled his lightning attacks with ease. As he pulled his Zanpakuto out of the blackened earth, he focused on the timing and what was left of the high level Kido barrier. He began twirling his Zanpakuto in front of him, letting it hover as he prepared his counterattack, asking aloud, "That is a Kido spell reserved for only the most elite and skilled Soul Reapers of the Gotei 13. For you to effortlessly cast it while retaining its full power, means you have skills within the arts of a Soul Reaper. Who trained you?!"

As he finished spinning his Zanpakuto, he held it inverted with the blade pointing down, uttering aloud, "Hado # 58, Tenran!" Discharging a widening tornado towards the fading transparent shield, before inhaling air before exhaling out, "Hado # 8, Shōbō Sasu!" Within moments, a giant tornado of flames discharged, causing a blazing inferno to crack through the fading shield and explode into the sky with a crack of the air pressure.

"Wouldn't you like to know..." Anton taunted, slapping his palms together and taking in a deep breath. His head tilted back, and his cheeks puffing up as the blazing inferno came closer and closer to him. It took only seconds for them to reach him. But at that moment...

"Nenshō!"

When he exhaled, he unleashed a massive wall of flames from his mouth and hit the opposing attack head on in order to blow it back. The point-blank intensity forced the focus of the struggle away from him and to the middle. During this, the heat from the flames singed the entire area, to the point where the V-14 members on the ground would feel it.

Angelika used this moment to whip out her phone again, quickly dialing up Enrico once she was sure the coast was clear. "I'm here again, Enrico. We just dealt with the major threat, and now one of my men's engaging the Captain directly. For the moment, our situation's stable."

Shindō's eyes narrowed as he heard the words and saw a impressive gust of flames towards his own pillar of fire. The waves of heat did nothing to perturb the ruthless young Captain, as he took time to pinpoint his target's spirit energy through the wafting inferno that blazed relentlessly in front and around them. With a sudden raise of his Zanpakuto, his Zanpakuto crackled before discharging a solid lightning that appeared as elongated sword. It would be mere instants when it would reach through the geyser of flames the two combatants created and would attempt to squewer him through his sternum and out his back.

"Rakurai Yari!" (落雷槍 Rakurai yari ; Lit Translation, "Lightning Spear.")

"Señora, I'm glad you managed to turn the tables on them! However, I did miscount...that was only a fourth of the 10th Division's goons. The rest of them are pulling back and regrouping...there's something fast heading your way, Angelika. Please be careful," Enrico implored.

SWISH, SWISH, SWISH!

A shadow on the battlefield began moving towards the gun toting V-14 members, heading primarily towards Angelika, avoiding almost all visible contact before appearing mere meters away from the Head of V-14. Her dark violet hair swirled around her majestically as she finally stopped before her, thrusting out two palm with connected wrists towards her midsection.

Even though Angelika would be able to be out of reach the air pressure from the power of the strike sent a punch of condensed air the size of a basketball towards Angelika. The result would cause some of the ground and landscape to crack, and would most undoubtedly hurtle the leader through the alleyway she currently resided.

"Forgive me, but you are a danger that must be purged," she said softly, standing upright with her black Shikhakusho fluttering around her shapely, accentuated body as her hair flowed like water within the air and around her face, her pale eyes penetrating towards the leader of the criminal organizations with near as much vigor and determination as her Captain, but with no bloodlust attached. But more of Honor and Duty that powered her resolve.

Oliver's eyes widened completely. "BOSS!! LOOK OUT--!!"

And she was quick to act.

BOOSH!

With an outstretch of her free hand, Angelika blocked off the pressurized air attack and prevented it from hitting her body. She had to dig in her feet, which slightly slid backwards. All-in-all, however, she had remained unscatched from the attack. She narrowed her lone eye, scowling at the sight of the pale-eyed woman. She pointed her HCA-Kidō pistol at the head of the woman, keeping a calm, but resentful tone in her voice as she spoke.

"Seems like the Captain's pet has decided she wants my head... I'll call back later."

With that, she switched off the phone and placed it back into her coat pocket, all the meanwhile keeping her narrowed eye glaring coldly at the woman. "Cute..." She said dryly. "The puppy thinks she can bite off more than her mouth lets her."

"Are all of you 10th Division shits this stupid?!" Oliver jeered, promptly pointing his own pistols at her. "Coming at all of us at once and think you can take us on?! You must have some sort of suicidal god complex, little girl."

"Woah!"

Immediately, Anton stopped the flow of flames and jerked to the side just in time to avoid the bolt of lightning headed his way. However, he didn't stop his movements there, falling down to earth in order to land on one of the buildings nearby.... the one that hadn't been destroyed in Hyōryū's earlier attack.

Shindō smirked, amused that Anton thought he could avoid the blade he created that easily. WIth a mere twitch his hand, he turned the elongated blade with a lightning speed, as he caught sight of him and swung the elongated blade towards him, cutting through the building that he landed on with ease as it bore to slice him into pieces.

"You're mistaken if numbers win battles," Sakura said as her pale eyes looked unphased by the show of weapons, "or if you're the only ones with shiny toys."

Bip-Bip-Bip, BLEEEEEEEEP!

Sakura managed to subtely toss a pair of bead sized spheres onto the ground, suddenly blinking red before discharging a array of blinding light into the air, making it night impossible for accurate fire. In that moment, Sakura bent down deftly into a crouch while reaching her hands up in the air to clap onto the weapon, sending a jolt of spirit energy enough to disarm the weapon. Following that, she clasped her hands together while uttering lowly, heading towards Oliver's direction within a few zig-zag motions, not even using Flash Step as she approached him, "Bakudo # 30, Shitotsu Sansen!"

BRAK-BRAK-BRAK!

Three yellow beaks of energy discharged towards the american nationality gunman, aiming to incapacitate him and jam him against a nearby landscape or rubble more aptly.

Oliver hadn't seen it.

Angelika had - and that allowed herself to react before he did.

FLASH!

She managed to shield her eyes just as Oliver let out a pained yell, his sight rendered useless by the flashing light. So when the three beaks of energy shot towards him.

WHAM!

He was slammed against the nearest building, helplessly bound to it courtesy of the energy beams. "Damn it...!!" He hissed, gritting his teeth and trying to physically force himself out of the trap, but to no avail. "It's always the stun and gun technique with these bastards!!"

It seemed that guns would not do... and this had been one of her favorites.

Disdainfully, Angelika tossed the useless weapon aside and turned to face the Lieutenant. She closed her lone eye, folding her arms across her chest. It certainly had been a while since she had fought, and she never actually intended to do so. But her strongest fighters were busy... at the very least, Anton was. What was Hyōryū and Shadō doing on their end, anyway?

On Anton's end, his eyes widened when he saw the elongated blade maintain its form. With a flip and a Flash Step, he managed to land himself back on the ground and avoid the blade once more, summoning his Kiriken blades back to his hands once more. This time, he threw himself at Shindō, using another Flash Step to quicken the distance and lessen the time his opponent had to react to the attack. "Tearing apart the very place you're hoping to protect, Captain?" He taunted. "I don't even know what to say..."

Hyōryū on the otherhand, had been running and gunning the remaining 10th Division officers trying to box them in, her large rifle cradled in her arms looked ridiculous for someone of her stature. A wide sadistic gleam endowed her face as she leaped from building corner to building corner, taking aim as a number of Soul Reapers took a few potshots before she aimed her miniature Kido rail gun, obliterating the foundation of building corners as she did so, "HAHAHAHAHA! That's it! Keep running! It makes the hunt all the more enjoyable!"

"You've done that yourself, Semenov!" Shindō spoke back quickly, shortening the blade back to its original size as he rounded his body to intercept his opponent's blades again, but not before uttering lowly, "those who live outside the law of the Soul Society are deemed the worst of criminals, who only think of their own selfish desires and care nothing for the damage done to those around them! Your powers belong to that of those who serve loyally to the Gotei 13, and I know you have Soul Reaper powers! Show me your powers," his blade suddenly crackled as electricity was absorbed from the very air and energy from the rubble before discharging in a vibrant blast of lightning, "if you want to live, traitor!!!"

Sakura unsheathed her Zanpakuto as she rushed towards Angelika, aiming to cut her quickly as she initiated her Flash Step, rapidly closing the distance within a second, whispering, "Your days of terrorism is over, Angelika Hartman!"

The blade connected.

SPLURCH!

However, it wouldn't be with the designated target.

With a swift, cold movement, Angelika reached out and caught the cutting edge of the blade. The force cut her hand, spilling blood out onto the blade. She, however, did not seem to care, keeping the amused smirk on her face. "Attacking an unarmed opponent with the intent on cutting them down? I just don't know what to say, puppy..." She mocked. "I always assumed the Soul Society was full of heroes... not cut-throats like you."

Then, she tightened her grip on her opponent's blade, pulled it aside, and threw a punch to the other woman's face.

"Grr...!!!"

Anton was forced back, the electricity pushing against him violently. However, he kept his swords in a defensive position to keep him from getting overwhelemed. With a burst of his spiritual energy, he forcefully dispelled the attack and readied his swords once more. "Don't go making empty threats, Captain, I think we're both above that..." He said bluntly, maintaining a level gaze. "And from the way you make it sound, you seem to believe that I was once a part of the Gotei 13 myself. Then again, I'm not surprised... the Soul Society of Japan was never new at living under rocks when the situation didn't call for it."

Sakura deftly grabbed Angelika's fist, springing a shocking bolt of spirit energy to disable the nerves within her arm, child's play to her before she wrenched her sword back into her grasp, "I'm not going to kill you, Angelika Hartman! If you died, then there would be no one we could set an example of for producing nothing but havoc and death. You," she brought her sword back to swing back at her chest, "are nothing but a lowly, dirt-rat of a cr-GAK!"

Sakura's sword was suddenly interrupted by a blade...coming right out of her shadow with a metalic clang before a hand reached out of the ground before swiftly to her throat, as the full intimidating form of Shadō himself, his eyes glaring hotly and his aura itself made him more like a demon than Shadō himself. He voiced a threat that confirmed the prior into Sakura's mind, "You dare challenge powers you cannot comprehend? You lowly Soul Reaper...you have no idea what you're getting into!" With a mighty throw, Shadō threw the Lieutenant into a wall of a building across the street, causing a large billow of smoke and rocks to uproar from the force he used to execute the maneuver.

"Forgive my tardiness, Herr Angelika," Shadō spoke regretfully, as he held his bloodied blade in his hand as he turned towards her momentarily, "the enemies seemed to be plotting something, so I...asked them what was going on."

Shindō growled, his body began to glow silver as his Spiritual Pressure crackled in the air once more, raising a open palm towards Anton, "Disappear and cease your insults, terrorist! Raikōhō!"

CRACK-BOOM!

As the yellow orb of energy gathered briefly before the Captain's palm, a crackle of electric energy blasted before encompassing the area Anton stood, before creating a thunderous blast of yellow energy, exploding and creating a large pillar of energy into the air, reducing the remaining structures around him into dust and rubble.

"I owe you greatly for your intervention, Herr Kariudo..."

Angelika exhaled a breath she didn't know she was holding, clutching her disabled arm that hung lifelessly at her side. But it wasn't out of fear of death - that boat had already sailed. "That woman's able to disable the movements of one's motor functions as well as technology through physical contact..." She reported. "That is, if you were planning to take her on... other than that... did they tell you anything? I couldn't get much from Enrico..."

"Hey, Shades!!" Oliver called out. "You mind getting me off of this wall while you explain?!"

"He said the 10th Division troops are pulling back...but something seems off," Shadō spoke as he raised his sword towards where Sakura was, "these men looked like they were serious about taking us down, but why did they bother taking the time to alert us? They had enough combined firepower to reduce our safehouse and then some without us being prepared to counterattack. So...the only question is," Shadō raised his blade above his head before slashing it to the side, "is who are they waiting for?"

Shadō looked over to Oliver after saying this to Angelika, before briefly using his Flash Step to reach him, sighing, "You know I'm not into this kind of kinky stuff, Oliver-san," before he grasped each of the beaks, draining the energy into himself before flexing it appreciatively, "thanks for the snack."

"Kiss my ass." Oliver grumbled, dropping onto his feet and massaging his wrists.

As he checked himself out, Angelika looked over in the direction that Shindō had thrown Sakura and subsequently followed up with the sword slash. "Considering the sudden appearance of the Inner Circle..." She said calmly, thinking of what had happened. "I'd say it would have something to do with the scum that they sent us a while back. How else would anyone have figured out where we were? I wouldn't put it past us that he managed to inform them somehow."

Through the blast that Shindō had unleashed, a mildly scathed Anton could be seen emerging from the ruins. He had utilized a defensive spell in order to keep himself from getting incinerated from the blast, moments before it could hit him. Even as he walked towards Shindō, he continued to prod at him. "It's been so many years, and yet you all live like you're still in the feudal era. You might as well be criminals like us, and the only difference is that your crimes hold dominance over all of us. You've done nasty deeds just like we have, and for what? For upholding your so-called justice? I don't think you have the right to be calling me out as a terrorist, Captain..."

Shindō gritted his teeth, feeling more and more pissed off as he heard this ridiculous rhetoric from this man who had Soul Reaper powers. He should've known he was from another spiritual society, but right now, he could care less which one he's from. He's here and part of a Seireitei top priority issue and he's here to stop him. Even if he has to destroy the entire District he evacuated only hours before this showdown.

"Your cheap talk is boring me, Anton," Shindō spoke with a growling as lightning began dancing from the air, his sword raised high as clouds began to form in the sky, "your taunts are finally paying off, you lowly scum. You pissed me off into going serious with you. If you ever, for a instant, think you're on the same level as me...you're dead wrong!!!"

CRACK BOOM, CRACK BOOM!

High in the sky, lightning began to thunder and crackle within the heavens above, as Shindō's power over the lightning within the atmosphere reached an all-time high, his red-black eyes stared menacingly at Anton, "Begone, menace!"

A sudden series of lightning bolts came down relentlessly, smashing into the ground with incredible force as well with instaneous speed as it struck over half a hundred attacks that aimed to pulverize him, "Sandā Gakudan!" (サンダー楽団 Sandaa gakudan ; Lit Translation, "Thunder Orchestra.")

That was when Anton's calm demeanor broke, raw shock crossing his face for the first time in the battle.

WOOSH!

Immediately, he kicked into a Flash Step, barely avoiding bolt after bolt as they crashed down behind him. Even as he was hovering off the area, he could feel the very earth shake under the power. As he avoided the bursts, sweat was dropping down his face at a vicious rate. "Damn it..." He thought to himself. "At this rate, I really am going to get killed!!" Truly, he was dealing with a frightening and formidable opponent if he could unleash such ferocious attacks from the sky. He didn't think he could counter-attack without being blocked off by the lightening.

And at this rate... everyone would get killed....

His mind drifted to Hyōryū, his teeth gritting slightly in frustration. She was a formidable fighter. But Shindō was in a league of his own. He could handle avoiding the attacks like this. But if she happened to get caught in the attack, she would certainly die! He couldn't bear to live with himself if that happened...

But that was the least of his worries.

As he allowed himself to drift into his thoughts, he had unconsciously slowed himself down for just a second.... a fatal second.

Time stopped.

He realized his mistake too late, pupils dilating as he heard what was to be the last lightning strike. All he could do was tilt his head up to see it coming towards him.

BOOM!

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

His blood-chilling, gut-wrenching scream could be heard when the lightning bolt hit him full-force.

Hyōryū suddenly heard and felt the series of thunder strikes above, forcing her to take cover in one of the half-ruined structures, looking at the epicenter of where a collosal battle was taking place. She suddenly realized with horror that the Captain was showing off his true power, controlling the lightning within the very atmosphere. All the previous attacks he had been dishing out were mere stalling tactics while his Spiritual Power reached into the heavens and began forming the thunderheads above. But her heart stopped when she head a familiar voice give a gut-wrenching scream in the air, and she actually saw the silhouette of the electrocuting her lover.

"ANTOOOOOOON!!!!" Hyōryū screamed out to him, running off into a dashing sprint, carrying the Executor while priming it for firing. She didn't care if it would kill her, she would blast that devil of a man to Hell if she had anything to say about it.

Shadō heard his partners' scream and had seen the following magnanomious display of power the Captain showed. His eyes narrowed and he smelled the air, gripping his Zanpakuto with trepidation, "Herr Angelika, I'm afraid I'll have to leave your side for the moment," his body began to meld with the shadows she created, continuing to say, "there's something coming that's evil and we must escape this annoyance before it reaches us."

A ready nod was Angelika's response. She watched as Shadō faded into the shadows, leaning against the leveled wall and cursing slightly under her breath. "Scheiss..." She hissed, clutching her disabled arm and sinking down to a sitting position. "This is going to take at least a few hours to recover from."

"What'd she do to you?" Oliver questioned, walking over to kneel down beside her.

"She disabled the nerves in my arm. She didn't damage them, but simply flipped them to an "off" mode. So my injuries are minimal at best..." Angelika explained coolly, closing her eye for a moment. "But, for Anton..."

Oliver turned his own head in order to look at the scene. However, even as he saw Anton being electrocuted and Hyōryū running out in order to stop the process, a smug grin crossed his face. "He may be a bastard..." He commented. "But he's a tough bastard. One measly lightning bolt's not going to stop him..."

"Tozanshō!"

On cue, Anton managed to summon the next Kidō spell after struggling through the agony of being electrocuted. Relief washed over him when the pyramid-shaped barrier was summoned around him, cutting off the current. The jolts that were still coursing through his body caused him to jerk erratically. But he managed to hold his ground, slamming his palms together and calling out the next words.

"Rikujōkōrō! Bankin!"

The next two spells were executed swiftly and without haste, as he sensed Hyōryū priming her weapon. They were meant to restrain him quickly so that his teammate could deliver the finishing blow. He would've gladly done so himself, but now that the woman had threw herself into the crossfire, he might as well give her the opportunity to.

Shindō's eyes widened as he heard and saw the spells being formulated and thrown hastily towards him. The 360 angle shots of six rods moved to slam into his body, giving way to be ensared by an even more powerful Kido. To use them all so flawlessly without incantation...Shindō either considered him a fool or a genius. For the moment, he considered him both.

His body shimmered at lightning speed, leaving his Haori behind to be ensared by the six golden rods, leaving it inert and useless against him. As the black wrapping with a several weights came towards him, his eyes narrowed, slicing upwards through the wrappings with his lightning coated blade, as a thunderous joining of both a lightning strike from the sky and from his sword broke the binds in two, turning the rest of it into ash. Shindō turned his wrathful gaze to aim his Zanpakuto at him, but a thunderous, close sound caused him to give pause and turn in alarm.

KRACK-BOOM!

A familiar, haunting yellow projectile shot from a gleaming Hyōryū as her body was rocked back from the force used to fire the weapon. It screamed in the air as it bore towards Shindō's form, aiming to wipe him off from the face of the Soul Society.

Shindō closed his eyes momentarily, knowing normal Kidō would not be enough to stop it, and he didn't have time to simple dodge it unscathed. With a silent breath, his eyes opened as his eyes swirled and changed in shape, his secondary Ocular Kidō's form came into form as a wrathful violet aura bathed his body as the bolt struck his area.

The following explosion was so close, it muted sound and blazed significantly upwards, decimating any form of structures nearby, knocking back Hyōryū from the distance she fired it, sending her sprawing head over heels before she smashed the butt of her rifle into the ground, using it as an anchor to steady herself over the blazing heat and wind caused by the shot. This made Hyōryū tense and grit her teeth as she tried to peer into the glowing fire that was made, as something violet was hidden behind it.

That's when the winds let up and Hyōryū fell on her midriff, her eyes wide open in shock and her body filled with dread at the feeling of the Spiritual Pressure coming from Shindō that seemed to warp the very air she breathed. "No way...just no...f'ing...way," Hyōryū said aloud in a hoarse, shaking voice as what was revealed behind the mushroom cloud was a skeletal avatar which permeated a violet energy that crackled and smoked the area around it. With only the torso and up visible, Shindō's black cloaked form flourished dramatically as his glowing black-red eyes shined maliciously at Hyōryū, as the skeletal Kidō construct clenched its fists as "skin" slowly began to work its way up its right hand and over its left, nearly half of the arm was gone and part of the "ribs" had been shattered by the attack, but Shindō himself looked unharmed relatively from the attack. The name of this this Kidō...is Bunkō-shin!

"So," Shindō spoke with a dark, hungry tone as he clenched his Zanpakuto, forming a violet glowing blade within the avatar's right hand, "you're the one who killed half of my men with a single shot, did you? I'm going to enjoy using this Kidō, considering its been awhile since the Pride of the Takuji Clan's power can truly destroy something worthy!"

"You didn't forget about me so easily, did you?"

With a Flash Step, Anton was in front of Hyōryū in a crouched position, breathing heavily as he spoke the words. "Our fight still isn't over, Captain..." He whispered, slowly raising himself up and clenching his fists. "You can bring out all the Kidō in the world... but I'll be damned if you decide to run from me now..." Despite the apprehension he was feeling as well, he continued to stand and glare down his opponent in complete defiance.

Hyōryū stared at the back of Anton, gulping down some air and trying to hold back tears, "A-Anton?"

Shindō stared dispassionately at Anton, almost as if he lost enthusiasm in fighting him, saying aloud, "You're barely able to stand, aren't you? Its to be expected...using all those Kido without incantations will take a toll on anyone who's less than masterful. That, and your already considerable wounds. Fighting you in this state would almost be pointless," he raised his katana slightly, the avatar raised its blade above his head, "but killing you will be most satisfying-"

BLINK

Shindō suddenly had his eyes open wide and suddenly began talking into his comm, "-What the hell did you just say?! You found him?!....Yes...yes I understand. I'll be there at once," within a release of his Zanpakuto, he turned around in the air, walking as he began to sheathe his weapon, the violet aura disappeared as well as the powerful Ocular Kido eyes, "I'll have the Punishment Force deal with you. It was a mistake sending in a military force against a band of powerful criminals. But mark my words, I will not be deterred the next time," Shindō looked back at Anton with a cool, unwavering gait, "and I will kill you."

WOOOSH!

And Shindō vanished, along with any remnant forces the 10th Division had within that area.

He left a silence behind him, aside from Anton's heavy breathing.

Inwardly, Anton knew that he would've been most likely done for, had the Captain continued with his attack. Sweat was falling down his face at a numerous, rapid rate. While one arm was folded across his chest, another clutched his upper face as his head hung down. He was surprised that he had not gone into a coma... that usually happened when he used too much big spells at one time.

As he struggled to regain his breath, Angelika and Oliver quickly approached them. Slowly, he turned towards them, letting out a yelp as he nearly fell over.

"Woah, there, pal, don't pass out on us yet!" Oliver warned him, already at his side. "Though, now you can probably be the first man ever to say "Hey! I got hit by a lightning bolt and lived to tell about it!" A cheeky grin crossed his face when the Russian scowled and opened his mouth as if to say something. But because of the weakness in his body, nothing would come out immediately.

And the effort ended up causing his body to revolt against him. He abruptly collapsed on his stomach, letting out a grunt as he hit the ground. "I...I knew I shouldn't have started pulling out the big spells early on..." He muttered, managing a weak grin. "Sorry, comrades... I was acting careless...."

Hyōryū growled at Oliver, but fell on her belly right across from Anton from all the adrenaline running out of her, flailing her arms around almost childishly as she said, "Hey! I did some work too! If it wasn't for those spells distracting him, I wouldn't have been able to take a shot without him dodging...not like it mattered! Since when do Captains have skeleton Kidos that repel that monstrous destruction my baby dished out?! Urgh!" She then stared into Anton's eyes, a small smile lit up her face as she looked at him with a knowing look, merely touching her forehead against his, whispering gently, "Thank you, Anton."

Looming Threat...Predator from the Void!

Oliver rolled his eyes, but said nothing more than that.

"You can have your touching reunion later. Right now, we need to get moving. I don't know about the status of the Lieutenant, and I'm for certain that Captain Takuji didn't say those words in an attempt to intimidate us." Angelika said bluntly, a cool gaze looking down on both of them as she held her arm. "Can you stand and move?"

Hyōryū grinned toothily, as she began pushing herselt to her hands and knees, before struggling slightly to stand on her feet while lifting Anton to his own with her as support, "I may be tired, but it'd take a hell alot more than stupid Soul Reaper goons to slow me down!"

"Angelika, its Shadō! CZKRKan yRKZ read CRZK?!" Came over the private communique within her ear piece, used only during joint military operations V-14 uses.

"At the worst possible moment..." Angelika grumbled, immediately reaching up with her good arm in order to click the earpiece microphone on. "Read you loud and clear, Shadō. What's your status?"

"CRSKZZZZ! I...CRZKZZZan into YasZRSKKKVT! I'm holding him BRZKZSJS...get everyone to the secondZRSS!! Its our only YARRRGHSZKLZZZ!!!" Within the distance, a loud explosion was heard, followed by a foreboding cold almost void sensation that crawled over everyone within the wind. It was not something you'd feel from an ordinary opponent or adversary. It was the feeling almost akin to that of a black hole...ready to swallow you whole, while not even touching the atmosphere its feeling was having an affect on everything within its slowly growing vincinity.

The feedback was loud enough so that everyone present could hear it. Oliver and Anton both cocked slight eyebrows, showing little emotion despite the obviously tense situation there partner was in. "Um..." The blonde stated flatly - the subtle way to ask what exactly was going on.

"The 10th Division isn't the only one who's aiming to clean house..." Angelika said darkly, clicking off her earpiece. "It seems that Yashin's decided to make our deaths a top priority, as well. Shadō ran into him, and now they're engaged in their own little scuffle."

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me!!" Oliver snapped, throwing his hands up in the air. "First Shindō, and now that demonic fuck?! What's with the sudden interest in us, all of a sudden?!"

"The Inner Circle as well as the Soul Society..." Anton muttered grimly, leaning against Hyōryū as she supported him. "Somehow, I know this is going to end in a bloody and messy fashion. All we can hope is not to get caught up in the canter, if we're not already..."

"Shit..." Oliver, gritting his teeth, whipped out his two pieces and held them in a holstered position at his sides. "I was in a real good mood 'till everyone decided they wanted to ride our dicks!! Where're we supposed to go from here, boss?! Sword punks, dogs, whatever, I'm cuttin' down anything that's getting in our way!!"

"Shit, I knew it was trouble getting involved with that demon possessing fucker!" Hyōryū said as she pulled out one of her Jackals, arming it to the lowest setting for maximum speed of attack.

Another series of explosions rocked the earth and ruined battlefield, as the battle Shadō and Yashin came closer to the others.

"We need to move to the second warehouse before we get caught in the middle of their fight." Angelika said briskly. "Come on!" With that, she held her arm again and led the way, with Oliver following close behind. Of course, they weren't as fast due to the fact that they had two exhausted foot mobiles with them as well as a disabled one, but they couldn't let it slow them down.

Hyōryū moved along with everyone as best as she could. Despite being tired from firing her Executor on foot for so long she, like Oliver, were the least injured of the group. While Angelika only had a disabled arm, the two parallel similar gun-fighters were probably the best line of defense against any threat Yashin throws at them...or any more oncoming threats to not expect.

"Dammit," Hyōryū growled, looking to Angelika with a knowing false hope, "can't we get the jeep? I mean...on foot we have less than a 50/50 chance of making it there without a fight..."

"At this point in time, it would simply waste more time..." Angelika said simply. "We'll just have to work with what we can..." Her tone was slightly resentful at her own words, but firm. She knew they didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

The explosions seem to be drawing closer, and less frequent, as if the fight was drawing to a close. Hyōryū clenched her jaw and her eyes shut, whispering to herself lowly, "Dammit...Shadō you better not die on me! Not by a longshot, I won't let you be Hankami chow even if I have to pull you back from the abyss!"

"He's a tough bastard, he'll make it!" Oliver re-assured, still keeping his eye trained on any potential hostiles. However, he was inwardly doubtful. None of them knew how tough Yashin was or what he was truly capable of. For all they knew, he probably had the power to wipe them out with a wave of his hand. That possibility made him all the more apprehensive, even as he kept a stable stance. If they fought him in their condition, they would certainly get killed.

He just had to hope.

"Hankami...?" Anton asked weakly, lowering his head as he tried to move as quickly as he could in order to keep himself from slowing Hyōryū down. "By the gods of the Red Sun, I hope that's just an assumption of what he is...because if it's not, then we might as well be dead already..."

"Shadō has never been...forthcoming about his dark side, even when he gave his introduction to us when he first joined up with V-14, remember? His...demonic nature has always unsettled me, but he's always been so polite and quiet," Hyōryū bowed her own head, gritting her teeth, "I never talked to him much, thinking he always needed time to meditate and keep to himself. But...what if he needed someone more by his side? Dammit!" Hyōryū hissed, now thin trickles of tears began falling down her cheeks as her eyes watered.

"Don't die on me, Shadō," she finally whispered out, before a deafening sound that knocked her onto her hindquarters, unintentionally taking Anton with her.

KABOOOM!

This explosion detonated right in front of the group, as a house's front foundations collapsed and a battle-worn, tattered figure emerged from the dust, holding his Zanpakuto's released form in one hand while heaving heavily, with blood running down his brow and his hat missing as sweat matted his forehead. Shadō was here, and he looked like he was losing.

"Forgive me...my comrades...I've stalled him the best I could...but in the end," he didn't take his eyes off the dust cloud as a dark blue haired man with dark clothing and a unmistakeable red eye emered from the dust cloud, his form taking a menacing aura, "he directed the battle purposely to your direction...!"

Of course, the explosion knocked more than just Hyōryū and Anton off-balance.

Oliver and Angelika immediately fell onto their backs, letting out respective grunts as the shockwave hit them. The German was quick to get up from the ground, her immobile arm doing little to hinder her movements. Oliver, however, opted to stay prostrate and instead lifted his two guns to point at the oncoming figure. Upon hearing those words, it was made very clear to them that their only exit was blocked off.

"Son of a bitch..." Oliver seethed. "Of all the worst times...!!"

"There's no prey here, Yashin..." Angelika said calmly, giving a dispassionate stare into the eyes of her newly found enemy. "Get out of here before you get lost." She seemed to be the only one maintaining a calm and serene attitude in the face of death, despite the situation that they were in.

"Presumptious as always, Angelika Hartman," Yashin spoke in a knowing way, that in any casual case, would almost be like he had known her at one point in time, but his red eye cast a hidden menace while bore a casual false smile, "but you're in no position to tell me what prey is mine or not. The fact that the 10th Division Captain hunted you down and fought you, shows you are more certainly prey, though of what kind are you? Well, apparently your the type that doesn't know when to accept generous offers...or when to stop being thorns in our proverbial sides," his tone took a almost droll tone, as if he had to educate the leader of V-14 why he was doing what he was doing.

Shadō gripped his long, claymore sized Zanpakuto with both hands, growling at him gutturally, "Stay away from them! This fight is between us! Keep them out of it!"

Hyōryū began drawing her Jackal, aiming it at Yashin but was uncertain if she should fire now or when he made a move. Forcing him to act could be the whole team's downfall, and all she could do is watch as her withdrawn comrade showed more compassion for the team now than he ever did before. She felt her stomach tear into knots seeing him like this...she didn't know what was wrong with her!

"A generous offer?" Angelika repeated. "You attempted to use us to clean up your mess. I do not take kindly to being used by anyone, even if it is from the likes of a high-ranked individual such as yourself. We are not the Inner Circle's nannies."

"You got that right..." Oliver growled, pulling himself up into a crouched position while still having his guns pointed towards his target. However, he was in the same boat as Hyōryū, not willing to risk completely provoking Yashin into attacking them. "Someone who can do a job themselves shouldn't have to come crawling to us for help, prissy boy!"

"Hyōryū..."

Anton was the only one who could see the turmoil and confliction appear on his carrier's face. Based from her reaction to Shadō, it was obviously because of him in some way. But what could he do?

Yashin gave way to a throaty chuckle, before he smiled with a hint of his pearly, disconcerting white teeth towards them while his eyes narrowed on them, "You wretched fools. You're the infamous criminal organization, V-14. Ruthless and merciless to a fault, you do dirty deeds as a way to pay rent. I find it odd that you would think I was using you to clean up a mess of mine when I simply gave you a task. Assassinate a high priority target causing havoc to me and then get paid. Its that simple," Yashin then turned to Shadō barely heeding his words before continuing, "but of course those who cling to human nature, no matter if its in life or death, always have to complicate things. For that reason, you must cease to exist."

Shadō growled, lunging at him swinging his blade at Yashin's neck, "Damn you, DEMON!"

"Interesting," Yashin spoke even as the blade moved, somehow missing him entirely as if Shadō was hitting something else entirely, "considering you made a deal with one, that you would judge me as one of their ilk."

Yashin's palm then clasped onto his chest, releasing a rune made of foreign energy before he stepped around him, snapping his fingers, "I'm done playing with you, Shadō Kariudo."

BZZZZZRRRRRRKKK!!!

"GRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Shadō began to feel his own insides rebel against him, his skin burning from what he felt was his own spirit energy overloading and boiling to the surface of his body...and electrocuting him. The scene became a blood red crimson pillar of lightning, with Shadō's erratic spasms forming within before he fell to the ground still, and the thunderous display of effortless power ceased.

Hyōryū then reacted, her eyes widened with a furious, vengeful gaze, "DAMN YOU!!!!!"

BRACK BRACK BRACK BRACK!!!

Hyōryū opened fire with a number of yellow bolts, making it supposedly difficult for her target to miss. She didn't care if she was playing into his hands. Having that...monster rip her partner apart flipped a switch she didn't know she had. She wanted pay back, and Yashin became the target between her crosshairs.

BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!!!

Oliver didn't hesitate to fire, as well, unleashing several of his own blue bolts at the target with the high accuracy he was known for. His teeth were gritted, and his eyes were narrowed into slits. Under normal conditions, the target surely would have been shredded completely by their combined efforts. However, Oliver knew that this was no normal circumstance. In front of them was someone who could kill with a natural and almost effortless flair.

But it didn't stop him from shooting.

Yashin's body seemed to be hit over and over, with satisfying dry cracking sounds before his body became blown to pieces after attempting to dodge the initial barrage. With a wet crunch on the ground, it seemed all was over, making Hyōryū visibly relax, before she heard a faint rasping cough from Shadō.

"Don't...trust...your senses...!"

Hyōryū's eyes widened as she felt a completely overwhelming sensation as what she saw wasn't there anymore. The shots that were spot on, perfectly targeted and in sync with her gun-toting partner. When did he...?!

"The moment I entered your realm of sensory," Yashin spoke lowly as he raised a hand towards their backsides as he was a safe distance away from any proximate attack, "is the moment I controlled your senses, like a artist controls a piece of art."

As energy began to darken and crackle within the palm of his hand, a soft clapping sound could be heard of sandles, as a violet haired Soul Reaper leaped high into the air. Her body flourished across her defined, lithe form as she retracted her right hand, blue energy fizzed and crackled as she aimed a right handed palm heel attack towards him, yelling out, "HAAA!"

SMASH!

Though Yashin deftly leaped out of the way, a large indentation was left into the ground where Sakura Keikai, Lieutenant of the 10th Division struck, as she raised her eyes towards him, settling into a fighting stance, "You're not taking their lives, foul creature!"

"Hooo? What have we here?" Yashin said with a amused smile, his cloak blew dramatically across his body as he eyed her up and down, "Lieutenant of the 10th Division...how interesting."

It was safe to say that nearly all heads turned to see the intervention of the first Lieutenant.

"All right, sword girl..." Oliver drawled, having one pistol pointed towards his previous target and the other pointed straight at Sakura's head. His scowl was now accompanied by a raised eyebrow, and he switched his gaze from Yashin to the Lieutenant in order to keep his eyes on both of them. "What the hell're you trying to play at here?"

Though Angelika remained silent, her lone eye widened in clear disbelief and surprise. It was shocking enough to see her alive after Shadō's earlier assault on her. But it was even more shocking to see her openly aiding the criminal organization she had been ordered to capture. Perhaps she was trying to do so on her own? Or was she somehow interested in their escape...?

"Nnngh...." Anton allowed himself to finally stand to his feet, not interested in being akin to a log in such a tense situation. He was surprised as well by the sudden appearance by the Lieutenant, but chose not to question it. If they had help, then they might as well accept it... even if it was from their enemy.

"My intention was never to kill you, V-14," Sakura spoke honestly, the area around her brows and eyes pulsated thickly with veins as she fed spiritual energy into her eyes in preparation for her technique, "I am going to bring you in, but if I let something so...evil destroy you, then you must be more important than my Captain originally believed. So," Sakura skidded back with both arms in a fighting stance, the appearance more that of a graceful art than that of a sheer physical combatant would be, "I will protect you!"

Yashin narrowed both of his eyes, his smile widened as he spoke again, "So...that's how it is. Well then," he raised a gloved hand, with a "come on" gesture to it, as he goaded her, "at least make my trip out here in person more enjoyable than taking down a few souls like these."

Hyōryū flipped over, not even bothering to raise her gun towards him again. With that weird...illusion trick he pulled on all of them, anything they could be seeing would be a total lie or a close resembled fabrication of what's really happening. It also could impede any action on their part, possibly conjuring a fake person to "save" them...Hyōryū began banging her head against the dirt road, her mind hurting from trying to figure it out.

This made Anton sweatdrop, looking down on her with a mixture of amusement and exasperation. "Um... please don't start losing your head now, Hyōryū. We still need you." It was true, considering that he had exhausted himself completely still and she and Oliver were the only ones that could fight properly.

Her statement made Angelika narrow her eyebrows, and her mind drifted into thought. It occurred to her that her perception might be warped, and Yashin could be simply playing with their senses. What she saw in front of her could easily be an apparition conjured up out of some sadistic pleasure of mind-screwing them. If that was the case, then there was virtually nowhere for them to run, unless they found someway to defeat him and his illusions.

A hand went to her eyepatch, her lone eye wavering for a moment as she touched it.

"I...I can't use that. Not with my colleagues in the area..."

Hyōryū smiled weakly at Anton, "Sorry...that mindf**er is getting to me without even trying...I'm sorry I'm no help right now..."

Sakura lunged forward, floating through the air like water as she swung her hands and arms like an extension of her will, with no malicious intent other than defeating him. Yashin began his duel with the young Lieutenant, starting by simply side-stepping and moving his head to and fro, avoiding the attacks with ease. Then, as the Lieutenant picked up speed, he began using his right hand to block her strikes, then as she moved faster, Yashin actually had to use both of them.

She disappeared within a flash, reappearing while throwing a kick coated in blue static energy, aiming to take him off at the head, for which he moved to the side to avoid. It appeared the two combatants so far didn't show tiring, and Yashin appeared to be enjoying himself, "So this is the Hakuda prodigy that's being polished by our dear Captain Takuji? Your ocular prowess is allowing you to see through illusions as well as give you a nigh panoramic view around your body for long distances allows you to fight at a unparalleled plane compared to most martial artists and physical fighters..."

"Don't talk like you know me," she spoke in a high-raised, yet stoic tone as she spun around and jabbed at high speeds, all of which were being easily stopped by Yashin, "because I don't know you!"

During this exchange, Angelika quickly moved over to Shadō, kneeling over his form. She reached out in order to check for a pulse. From the looks of things, he was clearly in bad condition. She only hoped that it wasn't too bad. She didn't think Anton had enough energy to heal him thanks to the fight with the Captain...

But fortunately for them, they weren't the only ones within the area.

A lone figure sat on the rubble, a folded umbrella on his shoulders. Crimson eyes stared down both the Lieutenant and the Dragon as they fought it out against one another, looking on with serenity and almost cold indifference. His spiritual pressure was hidden so that he wouldn't be detected by them. So if he wanted to, he could easily attack either one of them without having to worry about potential counter-attack.

He raised a finger to his ear-piece, clicking it on. "Sakamoto? I'm in position. Just give the word..."

Shadō was breathing, but he was unconscious, his eyes winced and grimaced as he felt pain while not even able to register it properly within his mind.

As Sakura gathered great chaotic energies around her hands, she then honed and purified it, yelling out as her Spiritual Pressure filled the air, "This finishes it," Sakura yelled out as she leaped towards Yashin's form, surging the two lion headed, electric spirit energies at him, "Tsuinshokku-Jū Ken!"

Yashin's red eye suddenly, subtly changed shape as the kanji symbol that originally read for "Human" switched to "Demon" within an instant. Holding out his hand, a black sphere formed within a moment before he applied it to the combined attacks of Tsuinshokku-Jū Ken, ultimately...backfiring them.

(Eng Lit Translation, "Reverse Singularity,")"Novis Singularitas," Yashin uttered in response to her own technique while it was absorbed and thrown back at her within a blink of an eye.

"AAAAAIEEEEEE!" She felt her whole body shocked from her own technique, something that shouldn't have been possible as she felt all forms of movement and spirit control lost as her body wracked within the many "volts" coursing through her form. Yashin didn't even bother finishing her as she fell limply to the ground, barely uttering a confused, "h-how...did you know about...my technique...?"

"Silly Soul Reaper," he chuckled as he glanced down at her, his red eye glowed maliciously while his smile taunted her, "I've already seen that technique...as well as your ocular Kido before."

"N-no...," she uttered before she couldn't speak anymore, letting her head fall onto the ground.

Yashin turned around, sniffing the air, oddly he arched a brow before his hand emanated a dark black-violet mist around his right hand, manifesting a black handled silver bladed trident. Letting it rest on the ground, he turned his gaze slightly upwards, not bothering to raise his head, which gaze a menacing diagonal look from his eyes to the onlooker, "I'd rather not have my entertainment be interrupted. Why don't you show yourself before I decide to drag you from there..."

And he did.

With quite a spectacular entrance.

Anton's eyes widened when he saw the figure suddenly appear behind Yashin, the umbrella raised over his head with one hand. There was no sound of the WOOSH that the Flash Step made. Yet he still managed to move with such terrifying speed. It was a remarkable feat, being able to disappear and re-appear so quickly without the use of a locomotive technique.

But that wasn't all.

When he swung the umbrella down to Yashin's head...

BOOSH!

The resulting collision caused a geyser of dirt to erupt violently around the two, a shockwave generated from that one blow. Anton, Oliver, and Angelika found themselves having to hold their ground against the pressure, for fear that they would have been knocked aside otherwise. The winds still continued to blow against them, and Oliver in particular had to shield his face with his arm in order to keep the air from blinding him.

"Jesus Christ, who is that?!" He shouted, taken completely aback by the new arrival.

Angelika, however, noticed and recognized him immediately, a small smile crossing her face. "So...I suppose that she sent help, after all..." She thought to herself, inwardly relieved by the sudden change of events.

"What the fuuuuuu-?!" Hyōryū exclaimed comically, flailing her arms before clinging to Anton for dear life, "who the hell is that?!?!?!"

Yashin was not a fool for goading a potential threat. After it had lunged, he merely tapped the pommel of his trident onto the ground, emanating a inverted triangle formation on the blade before wide-spreading it over his form with rapid speed, meeting the collision with incredible timing. Yashin inwardly was thankful for not taking him lightly, for any less might've actually broken through.

A smile graced his face with predatorial anticipation as his red eye gleamed menacingly at the oncomer, "Who are you, strong warrior?" The inverted, violet-lined triangle shield cracked against the umbrella, showing just how much pressure the warrior put into his attack.

"Interesting...if that's what he can do with just an umbrella...I wonder what he can do with a real weapon?" Yashin pondered with intrigue.

The crimson-eyed stranger met Yashin's gaze. There was no defiance, yet there was no submission seen within his stare. For a moment, he pitted his strength against the demon's own, his parasol fighting against the trident for dominance. Yet there was no expression on his face that conveyed that he was putting effort into it, despite the tension of his body.

There was only cold serenity.

He simply allowed him to say five words.

"Shinji Konno. A friend of your enemy, and one of many..."

VOOM!

The umbrella opened up briefly, and the air current generated was enough to blow Yashin back a considerable distance. The stranger, in turn, straightened up and closed it back before lowering it to his side. He kept his pose ready in a manner that showed that he was willing to continue battle. But from the way he stood, it was also clear that he was trying to force Yashin into a retreat.

"Tsk, tsk, rather touchy are we?" Yashin asked aloud, as the soles of his feet skid across the ground straight into the side of a building, cracking it due to the force. He walked forward as if he had merely been pushed by a breeze, contrary upon what everyone saw.

"Let's play, shall we?" He raised his trident towards him, a violet-black aura took upon the weapon, the Spiritual Pressure from his Gate of the Demon could be felt, shaking and quaking the earth around him, crackling energies as a smile danced on his nonchalant face, with the predatorial desire within his red-lettered eye while his blue one dialated.

Three arcane circles appeared on each edge of his trident, forming a upright triangle formation as he spoke rapidly, "Triplicem vis, Obscura tonitribus hastae!" (Eng Lit Translation, "Triple Force, Dark Thunder Spears.")

CRRRAAAACK-BOOOM!

As the arcane symbols spun and crackled violently, three violet-black lightning bolts threw themselves with immense force at Shinji, enough so if struck directly it would slice through him while pummeling him into the ground that would shake the ground and air around.

The crimson-eyed opponent reacted accordingly.

Once again, he opened up his umbrella and used it as a shield against the oncoming projectiles. With a violent clap of thunder, the lightning bolts struck the folds full-force. However, it did nothing to harm the young man behind the makeshift shield, and the umbrella only recieved minor scratches to it. Pulling the arm that held his weapon back, Shinji thrust it forward, but kept the umbrella open.

The result was another burst of wind. However, this blast was concentrated and unleashed like a pressurized torrent. Aside from potentially crushing Yashin's body if he didn't move, it would also destroy the entire lower level of the building behind him and force it to collapse.

Anton, now on the sidelines, could only watch with surprise. From the way the man fought, he was definitely no Shinigami. He sensed no energy from the umbrella, so it couldn't possibly be a Zanpakutō. However, he was showing himself capable of holding his own against Yashin when even Shadō had gotten beaten, even though it was just early on in the fight. It was so amazing. Just who was he?

Within the slow folds of time, Yashin's mind began to work and percieve all he knew about this newcomer. The way he used his umbrella was both an extension of his monstrous strength as well as his manipulation of the obvious element of wind. By opening the clasp of his umbrella he was able to both absorb the force and fury of Obscura tonitribus hastae, while also summoning a condensed or concentrated force of wind back at his targets. He didn't feel Spiritual Pressure from the umbrella, so it might be just a tool to manipulate elemental energy of sorts, so Yashin decided to play the guessing game as he used his wide array of knowledge on all things involving unique spiritual power.

Yashin smiled as he held out his left hand, whispering aloud, "Novis Singularitas," the violet cracking black orb of arcane power absorbed the entire pressurized gust of wind. Within a moment, Yashin opened his plam wider, turning the black orb into a violet sphere, releasing a micro burst of equal force towards at the bandaged man.

"Are you one of the few who follow the old arcane element magics, like the Shiba Clan?" Yashin probed with a curious tone, his smile retained its usual flair as he held his trident diagonally in front of his form, turning into a sideways stance as he grabbed the other end of trident, readying for a counterattack.

If he hadn't been addressed, Shinji would've attacked immediately.

Once again, Shinji opened up his umbrella and dug his feet in, pointing it at the blast. It slammed into his barrier, forcing him skidding back a few inches. However, it did not move him much from his spot, and it didn't shake the stubborn, stone-wall foundation he had built around himself. He lowered his umbrella, closing it again in order to look at Yashin.

"...I do hope you're joking." He said bluntly, his eyes narrowing. "Magic and tricks mean nothing to a soul of the Rukongai."

"And they certainly means nothing to the likes of the V-14..."

Another voice, familiar to only Angelika, cut through the brief silence that had ensued between the two.

To the side of Yashin, the feminine figure of a woman stepped into view, a spear in her hands. Though it seemed like she was nothing more than a Rukongai soul at first glance, the professional stance she was taking with the spear said otherwise. That, as well as her casual demeanor towards Yashin, made it all too clear that she was not what she seemed to be on the outside.

"But someone like you just wouldn't understand that..." She continued calmly, keeping the spear tip pointed at Yashin's direction. "Would you?"

Hyōryū's eyes were dialated as she watched the sheer...madness unfolding before her. This was the team Angelika talked about? They were...incredibly strong! The guy with the umbrella, Shinji Konno, was holding his own against Yashin, with just an umbrella!!! And the other woman...sounded like Angelika, but who was she?! Again, Hyōryū found herself banging her head against the ground, "I'm sorry, Anton! I don't think my mind can keep up with the craziness here!"

Above the confrontation, thunder crackled and rumbled above, a byproduct of Captain Takuji's earlier doing. The flashes of lightning illuminated and cast dangerous shadows upon the standing combatants, Yashin in particular cast a interested gaze back at the woman while turning to meet her halfway, keeping his posture perpindicular to either of their horizontal stances, so he could engage both of them at once if he had to.

"Souls of Rukonagi?" Yashin asked aloud, as if tasting the words for the first time in his expansive vocabulary. He stared her in the eyes, realizing veterancy and experience was with her, probably as long as Angelika Hartman. Then, he saw the familiarity, and began to chuckle, "I see. Won't tell me will you? I guess despite my knowledge of V-14, there are still some secrets to be ferreted out...like why Angelika Hartman's mentor has come to her aid and has formed another team of V-14. Truly remarkable. However,"

Yashin narrowed his crimson eye, glowing menacingly as his body became coated in a demonic feeling aura, shaking the air and space around him, warping emotions and sensations as he lifted his free hand towards her, "if you think you can crush a Dragon with mere words, you are blinded by your own mediocre power. Come then, Hartman's mentor, Shinji Konno. Your memories and strength will soon be forgotten...and become MINE!"

With a slamming motion of his trident's pommel, a snaking motion of black-violet hue flames flew towards the feet of both the spear armed woman and Shinji, simultaneously. (Eng Lit Translation, "Dark Dragon Crawl,") "Obscura Draco Reptant!" With a swift blink of an eye initiation, two violet edged black dragon heads formed, discharging insanely hot flames in their direction, aiming to incinerate them both with the explosive pyrotechnic force.

Anton raised his head up just as the dragon heads were unleashed upon their respective opponents, who readied themselves in unison. The heat from the flames caused him to sweat once again, and he had to shield his face in order to keep it from being singed. "You know what?! I think I can sympathize with you on this one..." He managed to speak to her over the roar of the flames. "All I hope is that they survive to give us a remedy to it!!"

Shinji, on his end, closed his umbrella, raised it over his head, and swung it in order to beat back the flames. The wind collided with the fire, averting it to scatter in nearly all directions, like a shotgun's pellets spreading out. Fortunately, the wounded V-14 members were kept safe from the fire as it spread outwards. The heat from the flames lit up the area and caused Shinji to sweat as much as Anton was, but other than that, he remained stable.

On the woman's end, she simply settled into a stance, the spear pointed directly into the flames. Then she allowed herself to speak.

"Tamashī no Sonshitsu..."

VOOSH!

From a visual distance, the flames seemed to consume her whole. However, in reality, they had been separated into two walls which soared past her. She shivered, feeling the heat singe her skin as well as the pink kimono she was wearing. But she kept a smile on her face, one that didn't hold any malice... but rather, it held confidence and faith in what she was doing.

This would be with a reason.

As the spear tip cut through the flames, Yashin would feel a searing pain tear through his entire body. No wound would appear on the outside. But on the inside, he would feel as though the very spear the woman held was tearing through his body as slowly and painfully as it was tearing through the fire.

"What is this...sensation?" Yashin twitched and clenched at his chest, feeling the pain cut into his nerves without any physical contact. He reached into the depths of his mind to analyze and answer the situation that just occured. He then smiled, snaking his tongue out and licked the edges of his mouth as he asked in a predatorially delighted tone, "what sword style did you just use, woman?"

He reached out with his trident towards her, while snapping a finger with his left, errecting a tall wall of transparent violet-black energy, named Obscura Vacansque Muro. (Eng Lit Translation, "Dark Void Wall.")

"I want to play with you now, swordwoman," he said as he stepped closer with one footstep after the other, as his aura came back with full pressure, his trident lit up with blazing black-violet energy as his crimson eye bore upon her, "I want you to do that delicious trick on me again. Show me your secrets!"

"My, my..." The woman's eyes squinted out of slight disbelief, her smile fading to a frown. "You just don't know when to quit, do you?" Nevertheless, she readied herself into a stable stance, her eyes narrowed in concentration. "If you wish, I shall cut you up into as many pieces as you like..."

She tightened her grip as the man came closer to her, her body filled with apprehension but her stance firm.

"I will not give myself... or my comrades... to the likes of you, demon!"

It seemed that for the time being, the heat was taken off of Shinji, and he didn't waste his time in order to utilize it to full effect. With another swing, he blew the flames from his path and calmly walked towards the wounded V-14 group, his crimson gaze locking on to all of them. As he approached, he clicked his personal earpiece again with his free hand while balancing the umbrella on his shoulder with the other. "Saruwatari, G-T-L has engaged the target and has cleared the pathway for you. I have at least two wounded, over."

"Roger wilco, good buddy!" A young, mirthful male voice spoke on the other end. "Rika and I'll be there as soon as we can, over!"

"Affirmative. Konno out."

With that, he clicked off the earpiece, and was now standing in the midst of the V-14 group. He was sure all of their eyes were on him now, but he kept his gaze locked onto Angelika. "It seems that you have earned yourself a great deal of trouble, my lady..." He commented, looking around to the others. "I suppose that the constant fighting you had to endure finally broke your defenses...."

"Tch!" Oliver scoffed, lifting himself up to his feet and dusting himself off. "For the rest of these guys, maybe. I'm still locked and loaded!"

"Idiot! I'm fully loaded and have the bigger guns, bastard!" Hyōryū growled, taking her bruised face off the ground and glared at Oliver.

"Demon? Such a generic, limited point of view could only label those they can't understand with horrifying command over the darkest of power," Yashin spoke with a humored, unimpressed tone as he walked towards her with not the bit least fear towards the masterful swordswoman, "that's what seperates you humans from true gods. Those who understand and don't. I have near total understanding of this world and the one prior to this one. You,"

He leaped forward with incredible speed, it was only a mere heartbeat before he appeared before her slashing a diagonal arc with his trident, sending a cutting stream of black-violet spiritual energy towards her, that would reduce the landscape for several dozen meters into a precise, incinerated cut, "will just be my foothold into claiming one more piece of understanding the universe, Dark Angel!"

"Yeah, well, you're also clinging to your boyfriend there." Oliver taunted, fixing a glare right back at Hyōryū. "Oh, and might I mention the fact that your mind is so full of fuck right now, as you've clearly been telling all of us for the last few minutes? You're better off just giving me that gun and letting me shoot it for a while!"

This immediately caused Shinji to turn his eyes away from them and back to Angelika, clearly not interested in such petty arguments. His eyes, however, caught the attention of something that remained out of place even in the war-torn setting - the prostrate form of Sakura. "A Lieutenant without her Captain...?" He muttered to himself, walking over to her and kneeling beside her. "10th Division... I suppose that she fulfilled her purpose if her Captain callously left her here in the hands of her enemies."

Slowly, he extended his arms out and scooped her up bridal style, walking towards Angelika once more. Once he stopped in front of her, he bent down to place her beside the form of Shadō. "V-14 knows no mortal enemies..." He spoke quietly, closing his eyes. "Shall I have her healed, as well?"

This got Angelika thinking about it, her eyes furrowed slightly. Despite the obvious disdain she had for Soul Society, it provided no excuse for her to break her rule of "no mortal enemies". And she had gone out of her way to protect them when they were in trouble... so in return, this could be sufficient payment until they crossed paths once again.

"If she is injured..." Angelika finally allowed herself to say. "Then have her healed. She can go back to the Seireitei where she belongs... if Shindō bothered to pay attention to her presence at all..."

On the woman's end, a slight gasp came from her when Yashin reappeared in front of her.

However, she was ready.

BING!

With a swing of the spear's staff, she connected with his blade. The energy unleashed by him rippled all around her, the winds blowing against her viciously. But she held her ground, keeping her weapon locked with his in a struggle. "You want to lecture me about power, my friend?" She spoke, frowning in slight disdain. "Then allow me to tell you this. Your power, no matter how much you attempt to exert it on me, will never have any effect. As far as I'm concerned, you are the one who doesn't understand!"

Then, she pushed even harder as the energy continued to flow violently from his sword. This time, Yashin would experience the sensation of his body slowly being crushed inward. The more the woman exerted her physical strength, the more horrendous the pain would be.

C-CLICK!

"Just think about touching him, and I'll shoot your balls off, saavy?" Hyōryū aimed her Jackal at Oliver's parts, her eyes narrowed and threatening, the thought of anyone handling the Executor other than her own two hands made her quite protective and enraged.

"So...I see you have either a blade that sends a invisible cutting force that directs it past the opponent's attack and into their very nerve receptors," Yashin spoke without pause, his blade keeping her back while his brows twitched and his lips quivered with a near to unknown thrilling sensation, "or your directing sheer empath energy into me that affects my nervous system through my spiritual energy itself. Either case being," he raised his left hand up, a arcane rune emerged from beneath her feet, "Obscura Vacansque Prisma!"

A pillar of dark spiritual energy discharged around her, solidifying within seconds as it hardened into a crystalline prism made of binding energy, threatening to immobilize her thoroughly.

"With this I can properly examine her body, energy and mind. All the secrets of this universe will be mine, after all. One more soul will help me reach that, as well as quell this annoyance, V-14!..."

"Oh..." Oliver grinned widely, even as she had her gun aimed towards his parts. "So now it's a him? Anton, I think she's cheatin' on you with her own guns!!" At that, he exploded into laughter, holding his gut and promptly falling over due to the heartiness of his chortles. This caused Anton to sweatdrop, shaking his head sagely.

"Only you would have a gun pointed towards your jewels and laugh like a lunatic, Holmes... only you..."

"He can solidify his energy?!"

The woman's eyes widened in surprise as the energy solidified around her, and she only had a moment to pull her spear away and thrust the tip into the ground before it enveloped her completely within its hold. Her expression was frozen, and so was the rest of her body. The binding spell had trapped her completely within its hold, and she was rendered completely vulnerable to him.

Or, so it seemed.

It would be the moment where the pain and agony would be at its limit.

A burning sensation would sweep through Yashin's body, and the very fabric of his being would feel like it would be torn apart. Through the frozen energy, the woman held a glare towards the man, narrowed eyes staring directly into his face. "You can make all the guesses you want... but it still doesn't mean that you're correct..." She said coolly. "You'll only destroy yourself trying..."

Hyōryū cocked her gun, not backing down even as he laughed, looking over to Anton with puppy eyes, "Can I kill his children? Its only fair considering he threatened to take our baby, and I don't want him touching him without my hands holding him. Can I please?"

Anton sighed heavily, shaking his head sagely once more and folding his arms across his chest. "No, you can't kill his children. They might take a turn away from their father and actually grow up to be productive members of society." He answered dryly. Thankfully, his voice was low enough not to be heard by the laughing Oliver.

Yashin eyes twitched and widened, as his left palm grasped his face, the prism shattered and dissipated into nothingness. At first, it sounded like Yashin was actually suffering, as long breathed grunts and hisses emanated his mouth. However, it turned to be all a facade as those hisses turned into a low throated filled chuckle, raising back up to his full height with his trident held aloft, no longer looking as if he'd attack immediately.

Yashin glowed all over a bright crimson, as his eye studied her ferviously before he closed his eyes chuckling to himself, "That ability...of yours is truly frightening. Turning any aggressive force of an enemy back onto them with a simple cut of your blade in the form a form of pain overload. You don't even need to be mobile in order to send that kind of attack at me. However," his body sent a wave of crimson smoke from his pores before his longcoat flourished with his tie and hair in a dramatic fashion, as stopped quivering and showed no more signs of being affected by the pain waves, "if I nullify all foreign matter within my body's senses, then no pain will touch me. You however," his eye switched from "Demon" to "Nightmare" the kanji numerical letter for One, appeared, as he whispered almost vehemently evil, "I can make your senses so distraught you will feel like you're in a universal nightmare for eternity within only a matter of seconds!"

Everything outside the woman's field of vision, taste, touch, smell, and hearing suddenly disappeared within a void, as Yashin's blazing red eye suddenly consumed the entire background of her senses. She would feel the most horrifying sensations wrack her body as her worst fears and failures would be dragged up, distorted, and twisted to make this psychological nightmare further break her. Its a technique that Yashin would turn the psyche of his opponent against him, much in the same manner of a body's immune system's white blood cells attacking the red blood cells, her own subconscious will begin destroying and eating away at her mind. Yashin called it, Visio Nocturna de Vacansque, the Nightmare of the Void.

"How does it feel knowing that everything you held secret being probed and twisted against you...Asuka Sakamato?" His voice rang within her nightmare realm, to her would feel like echoing within a few weeks while it only took a few second sfor him to say it.

Within the distance however, someone had managed to past through the barrier of Non-Sensory and began moving at a high speed. His armor clinked, his muscles pulsed, and his soles crackled at the movement he created to gain speed upon the battle within the Soul Society. Though his true purpose...was currently unknown, the sword sheathed to his backside showed he meant to fight. And fight he will...!

In the illusion that was created, the said Asuka had been hit full-force.

Her eyes dilated completely, and she found herself falling down on her knees. Sweat was falling down her face at a rapid rate, and she found her body shaking uncontrollably. She gritted her teeth and shut her eyes, tears flowing out of them involuntarily at the immense agony she was feeling. She gripped her spear tightly in her shaking hands, the illusion clearly having its effect on her. Her breaths became ragged, and she found it harder and harder to maintain her calm composure. She knew that if she had anything else in her arsenal, this certainly would've broken her.

But now, she had him.

Slowly, she stood up, her bangs overshadowing her eyes that continued to cry. Her arms slowly pulled the spear back behind her, both hands gripping the staff like a bat. Her heart was racing madly within her chest, and her nerves had been rattled to the point of her wondering whether or not she could actually follow through with the movement. He had literally invaded her with his powers... but that, as far as her sword style was concerned, put him at a fatal disadvantage. Maybe with this strike, she would allow him to understand her powers firsthand.

She took in a deep, shaky breath...

...and then she swung her spear.

WOOSH!

"If you're eager for knowledge... then I shall tell you. My sword style was specifically meant to combat opponents like you. Every time you use an offensive ability like you just did.... every time you release your energy in order to kill me... you exert your "influence" as well as a part of yourself on me. The more powerful your influence grows, the more vulnerable you allow yourself to become to my sword. My technique allows me to cut that part of you that you extend over me. That's what this ability is... and now that you've forcefully exerted yourself over my mind..."

Her eyes slowly opened up.

"I can kill you..."

SPLURCH!

This time, instead of just a sensation, a wound actually appeared on Yashin. A gash severed halfway through his waist, and could've easily cut him into two pieces.

"Gak-!" Yashin's mouth splurted blood from his throat, as a look of surprise took hold of facial features, sweating and twitching. Then, he laughed as if he had nothing holding him back, "thank you for that information. But there's one problem with your sword style against me..."

His form suddenly bled and exploded in front of her in a horrific manner, before swallowing her in a ocean of blood as his voice penetrated into her mind and soul, "This is your subconscious' actions, not mine. All I did was send some distortions within your mind through my influence to make your mind attack yourself. Making all forms of counterattack...irrelevent, when you're mind is tricking you one way to another."

Yashin watched humored from the side as he circled around the delusioned Asuka, seeing that for once the blade did not cut his body nor caused him pain. He dared not underestimate her, so he kept all outside foreign senses to a minimum while he observed her with fascination. "To think Angelika Hartman would have such a fierce, rare woman as a mentor. I'll enjoy swaying you to my rule when your mind has crushed your spirit and body entirely."

"!!!"

That almost caused Asuka's heart to stop beating.

It was confirmed now. She was effectively trapped into a corner, and now the tables had turned. If she knew that he would've unleashed such a tactical maneuver, then she would have finished the fight earlier. A weak smile crossed her face, even as she kept her form faced towards him. She would have to find another way to break the illusion placed on her mind before he could unleash his full power on her.

So far, she saw nothing but a monster. Her blows should've incapacitated him or even killed him already at that point. But somehow, he was still standing. This was certainly no normal opponent she had faced before. It was certainly a scary thought, being faced with an entity that didn't match up to your expectations or knowledge. Maybe he was right in what he had said earlier...

And on top of that, his eyes constantly on her form was somewhat unnerving. It was like a vulture circling her prey... a street rat circling a potential rape victim... and it was a perfect simile for the situation at hand.

"I take back what I said before about you..." She muttered hoarsely. "You're not a demon. You're a monster..."

Yashin chuckled as he raised his trident to tip her chin up towards him, despite her conscious mind having no ability to discern his current location or form, he enjoyed tormenting his prey in this manner. He rubbed a cold, black leather glover over her face as he whispered, "Monsters are merely spouted in fairy tales to conjur nightmares. I am a living nightmare, so monsters, are merely my foot steps echoing in your mind. Now then," he then raised his palm towards her head, a crimson crackle began to give light, "let's see how much you like your nerve endings exceeding their limits and paralyzing you, from the inside out."

Then, as the thunder crackled and boomed above in the sky, a figure leaped towards Yashin while dive bombing. A yellow thunderous wave of energy came down, collecting the lightning bolt that happen to cross paths with him as he roared aloud, slicing downwards where Yashin's form was, forming a pillar of thunderous yellow energy.

Yashin had barely moved out of the way, as his red eye changed subtly to the Gate of the "Human" as his body moved with incredible speed and agility out of the path of intimidating attack. As his red eye glowed menacingly towards his direction, a amused smile danced on his face as more thunder and lightning illuminated his body, casting menacing shadows.

"Kenja Kodai," he spoke with a delighted, low tone, waving his free hand with emphasis, "so nice for you to make an appearance."

Kenja's form was encased in crackling spiritual energy, his spiritual pressure rippled through the air as his face crossed between rage and bloodlust, the lightning cast equally fiercesome illuminations and shadows as his two eyes glowed yellow with a intimidating fashion, "Yashin!!!"

"Wow... so many people arriving on scene all for one measly group of mercenaries? I do believe you've hit some sort of record, boss lady."

Had the new voice not interrupted them, the V-14 members would've shown their full reaction towards the arrival of their old target.

Instead, all eyes shifted towards the form of the new figure and his companion, who was slinking behind the male as he walked. In contrast to that, the male had a mirthful smile on his face, his hands folded behind his back. He was approaching the scene as if there wasn't a raging fire all around them, as if he wasn't approaching a battlefield with the battle in progress. It was quite an amazing sight to see, considering the youthful appearance he had.

"And here comes the next contestants, ladies and gentlemen!" Oliver howled, mimicking a ring wrestling announcer who was...well... announcing the names and titles of the combatants involved. "In that corner, weighing in about a pathetic 90 pounds-- oh, fuck it!" He abruptly stopped himself, folding his arms across his chest and rolling his eyes. "Now, I'm not going to be surprised if everyone and their grandmother started coming to this very location..."

"Yusuke, I need you to heal these individuals." Shinji lifted a finger to point at the bodies of Shadō, Sakura, Anton, and even Angelika as he spoke. "Make sure they're stable and check for any possible anomalies within their systems."

"Yes, sir, ma'am, sir!" With a quick mock salute, Yusuke quickly kneeled over the forms of Shadō and Sakura with his palms raised over each of them. He closed his eyes, bowing his head and focusing his energy. His hands gave off a blue glow, which spread to their unconscious forms.

"Well..." Anton took in a heavy breath, dusting himself off. "We might as well get acquainted while the heat's off us for the time being." He turned towards Hyōryū, smiling a little while offering her his hand so that he could pull her up onto her feet. "Shall we?"

Hyōryū smiled, warily looking towards their ex-target and Yashin's direction before taking his hand, letting herself be pulled up and halfway into his embrace, "Yes...I'd like that," she said with a soft smile, something that was uncharacteristic of her, yet refreshing.

Yashin stood up, looking directly at Kenja before taking a look at new arrivals, "Problematic...drawing a crowd will only cause trouble. I don't know if I can keep this quiet any longer," he spoke nonchalantly, sighing in a resigned form before looking at the enraged Kenja, saying, "it would've been fun...to play with you again, seeing how much stronger you've become. But, I'm afraid we've run out of time."

Swish, swish, swish, swish, clap!

Yashin made several hand signs, having kept his trident in hand while doing so before slamming the pommel into the ground, as a blue tear of flames opened up and showed a rolling flaming pit below him. It was a portal of transportation, guided through Hell!

"Let's catch up some time, hmmm?" Yashin said before he fell threw the hole he created, not before Kenja roared out, lunging after him and slamming a pillar of yellow energy where he once stood.

"COME BACK, COWARD!!!" Kenja roared, out into the air, his sword held aloft as another striking thunderclap lit up the air before a sheet of rain began to pelt the ground, wettening and clicking upon Kenja's Fullbring and body, as well as the rest of the accounted for individuals.

Meet the team! Reunions and New Faces

"And finally he retreats..." Oliver muttered, allowing himself to stand up and dust himself off. He shut his eyes and raised his arm up instinctively when the rain fell upon him. The cold feeling sent a shiver down his spine, and he shook his head a little in order to get rid of the feeling. "Only took about a dozen reinforcements to make him do so!" A scowl crossed his face, and he walked just as Hyōryū and Anton were passing by him in order to approach the newcomers.

On Asuka's end, she had fallen to her knees, one of her hands clutching at her face. She was breathing hard, her body still shivering from the effects of the psychological torture he had inflicted on her. It was a wonder how she had come out with her rationality and sanity still intact... maybe if she were a lesser being, she would've been worse off... but, at the very last, Yashin had been driven off, even if it wasn't by her hand personally.

Now, she had to worry about recovering.

As she stayed to recompose herself, Shinji looked over at the approaching trio and calmly stepped out of the way to make room for them, so that they could see the sitting form of Angelika as well as the prostrate forms of Sakura and Shadō. The medic, in turn, looked up from his work in order to eye the two of them out of curiosity. It lasted only for a brief moment, however, before the cheery smile came back to his face again.

"Sorry it took so long to get here..." He said. "I hope it wasn't too bad for you all."

Angelika cleared her throat before speaking up. "This was certainly most unexpected..." She began, her voice firm. "I wasn't expecting you for a week or so. Why the early appearance?"

"We managed to sight out the destruction from our location..." Shinji explained. "Rika pinpointed it and deduced that it was where Beta Team's safehouse was at. All we had to do was ready ourselves and come here."

Hyōryū arched a brow and looked to Shinji, holding onto Anton's waist as she found him almost...intriguing. His appearance was even more standoffish than Shadō's, being bandaged and having a pair of red crimson eyes, while speaking in a matter-of-fact tone. She decided to play nice, as she waved over to Shinji, "I'm just glad you came when you did. You're a helluva fighter, Shinji with that umbrella! How did you get so strong? My name's Hyōryū Fūsoku, by the way...."

"Hyōryū Fusoku, hm?"

Shinji's eyes drifted towards her with an almost mechanical movement. "I was informed that Alpha and Beta Team were home to some of the most skilled gunmen in existence. Yet I see that you've somehow managed to bite off more than you could chew. Apparently, you're nothing more than a hyped-up disappointment."

C-CLICK, WHIRRRRRR!

"Don't make me use my baby on you just cause of an petty insult, Shinji!" Hyōryū glared darkly as she swung with ease the large Executor towards Shinji's chest, the cold metal rested against his chest as the rain pelted its metalic surface.

Had it been anyone else, Shinji would've flinched.

However, he didn't even bat an eyelash towards the gun that would've split him apart at point-blank range. Even as the cold metal graced his skin, he continued to stare into Hyōryū's eyes with a cold serenity. It was clear that the threat of death did not phase him any, if that was what his ally was trying to use on him. All of that could be conveyed within those next few seconds.

Until...

"Hey, hey, hey, wait a minute!" Anton immediately raised his free hand up in a signal to stop both of them, a sheepish smile crossing his face. "Let's not start pointing guns at each other right after we've dealt with such a tough enemy! I mean, these are the new guys, after all!"

"Quite..." Angelika spoke calmly. "Besides, there are obviously the unregistered elements to take care of." She nodded towards Sakura and Kenja in order to make that particular point clear.

"Tch!" Hyōryū hissed, raising the behemoth rifle away from Shinji to rest on her shoulder, squeezing Anton's waist semi-appreciatively, "it'd be a waste to shoot such a small target anyways..."

Kenja looked to Angelika, heaving his large sword onto his shoulder with a metalic clank as the rain pelted his face and armor. He walked over with a grim, neutral disposition on his face as he walked to the leader of Angelika. He simply said in a knowing tone, "You were hit hard...both by the Inner Circle and the Soul Society, huh, Angelika?"

A slow smile crossed Angelika's face, her lone eye drifting towards the man as he came closer. "I knew there was a benefit for sparing you..." She said coolly, turning away from him and keeping her eyes locked on the two bodies in front of her. "Though I can only assume your reason for coming wasn't pulling us out of harm's way..."

"Yeah, what exactly are you here for, Cleaver?" Oliver questioned, folding his arms across his chest and cocking an eyebrow. "Just suddenly decided that it was a good time to make a big and heroic entrance?"

Kenja arched her brow, retorting back, "I see you're still the sharp one of the bunch. Not like those bark with toothless mouths around you," Kenja sneered slightly at Oliver before continuing, "the Inner Circle has been making some interesting...movements within the past few days. I thought with E-Day affecting nearly every living thing in both planes of existence, the Inner Circle would give some pause. But," he turned to the wreckage around him, as well as gazing upon the two bodies in front of him that were being healed, "there are two major players that are taking major steps in acquiring their objectives and goals. Yashin being one of them and the other goes by the alias, the Mist Eye. Both, are what the Inner Circle call Dragons, the lieutenants of the Four Horsemen of which I have yet to identify personally."

"All right, that settles for these two..."

Yusuke stopped the flow of healing energy, moving over so that he was positioned on Angelika's injured side. "Next, your arm, boss lady..." He said, raising his hands out towards her and placing his palms on her. Once again, his hands began to glow with the light blue energy as he worked.

"So there is a worse person behind the mind of an already manipulative bastard..." Anton summarized, giving a heavy sigh and slapping a palm to his face. "Just super, just when we thought our day couldn't get any worse..."

"Add the fact that there are other people beside him who like to turn plots into a game of chess, and we've got the cherry on the very top this shit-sundae..." Oliver added with a calm, mild irritation, reaching out to scratch his nose. "Suddenly, I'm starting to hate this so-called Inner Circle even more than I thought I would..."

Angelika remained silent, her eyes closed and her head lowered slightly.

Hyōryū looked over at Angelika's arm that was being healed, saying in a bitter knowing tone, "That, and the Soul Society has had enough of our dealings to the point where they're condoning full-scale military operations within their own city. One more reason why I hate this f'ing place, damn them all..."

Kenja sheathed his sword with a fluid motion as the rain continued to pour down on them, he crossed his arms while looking around them, "I hate to make things turn sour, but when Yashin entered this area he put up a sensory shield that blanketed the 12th Division's information network as well as any other countermeasures they have up. It will be going down within a few minutes, and I'd hate to see you guys take on any more fights with how relentless the Gotei 13 are...I'll help you get to whatever HQ you have and share intel that I've gathered on the Inner Circle, for one condition."

Everything always had a condition to them.

"And that would be?" Angelika questioned, not bothering to look up as Yusuke continued to heal her arm. Her ear perked up when she heard Asuka slowly pick herself off of the ground and walk towards them, the pattern of her footsteps mildly unsteady.

"Food & Board, that's all I ask," Kenja asked with a blank look on his face, as the question came out more comical than expected.

Hyōryū mildly remembered that the place he was eating when they took the contract on his life. It was the equivalent of a soup kitchen, in one of the more dirt poor regions of Rukonagi. Then again, all sectors of Rukonagi was near to dead poor. It was only people like V-14 that thrived off the underworld and scum that collects within the misfortunate and broken.

The question was enough to make Anton and Oliver nearly face-fault on the ground.

"W-wait a minute!!" Oliver stammered, managing to recover quickly from nearly falling over in order to stare in disbelief and shock at the man. "With the records we've read about you and all the shit you've been doing, you should be getting paid big time by someone!! I mean..." He threw his hands up in the air. "You're going up against the Inner Circle, of all organizations, man!! You can't seriously be telling me that you're doing that much without getting paid at all!!"

Anton managed an amused smile. "Good deeds may go unpunished, but they can also go unrewarded, it seems..." He said lightly. "But I was under the assumption that his demand was going to be something a lot more taxing-- huh?" His weary expression gained a bit of surprise when he saw Yusuke re-appear beside him, flexing his gloved fingers.

"Oi, Boobies..." He drawled casually, his tone directed towards Hyōryū. "You mind dropping him so I can finish up my business here? You can have him back after I'm done."

"...please don't let go of me, Hyōryū. I beg of you..."

The demand made Angelika opened her lone eye to a half-lidded position, and she turned towards him with a quirk of her eyebrow. She thought about it for a moment more. Because of their wealthy status, the V-14 didn't really have a problem with housing multiple personnel within a home. Considering that they were going to a warehouse, it was a worry that she could throw to the back of her mind without hesitation.

"Well--"

"Of course!"

Angelika was promptly interrupted by Asuka as she finally made it to their location. One of the elder woman's arms wrapped around Kenja's neck and playfully pulled him closer to her. The woman herself had her eyes squinted shut and a cheery smile on her face. "Not one of us would deny someone who's gone out of their way to help us out. Illegal mercenaries we may be, but heartless monsters we are not."

Sakura's eyes opened faintly, the dampness and cold moist texture of her clothing, that hugged and revealed curves to her body that would be eye candy for anyone to look upon her ragged beaten appearance. She felt the affects of her Tsuinshokku-Jū Ken were lost and she had felt someone else's spirit energy faintly, residually within hers. She blinked and looked over at the one responsible, easily deducing which one was the medic. However...as a result, she also felt every muscle and tendon in her body creak and groan in resistance of movement. She hissed faintly as she tried to stand upright, barely managing to sit up before clenching onto her torso and arms, "Ooooohhhh..."

Hyōryū narrowed her eyes to a dangerous squint, as a target reticle formed in her mind over multiple locations on his form. She felt her trigger finger twitch at the name call, feeling the need to unload her Jackals on her newfound, irritating comrade. But, she held Anton close, saying a deadpan, "No. Thank. You. Saavy?"

Kenja twitched at being glomped so suddenly, his eyes briefly buggered out owlishly before locking onto the garishly colorful wearing woman who acted so playfully with him. Though, in that brief contact, something sparked across her clothed form and into his skin, causing him to shudder. With a slight knowing look, he cleared his throat as he tried to peel her arm off his shoulders, "Yes well...thank you...I guess...as for the reason I'm doing this," he bowed his head, a slight shadow cast over his eyes as he spoke darkly, with a slight mournful undertone within his speech, "its much more personal than actual profitable venture I'm doing this for."

Yusuke shrugged. "Okey dokey lokey, Boobies. Have it your way--"

However, his speech was interrupted and all eyes immediately turned towards Sakura as she woke up, with varying degrees of surprise and wariness evident. Angelika shifted her position so that she would be kneeling on one knee, her lone eye observing Sakura as she woke up.

"Did you have a good nap, little puppy...?" The woman said, not hiding the mockery within her calm and composed tone or the amusement she held towards the aches that the Lieutenant was feeling right now.

Sakura turned to see her benefactor's leader, briefly wincing and grimacing at her position. Then she slowly turned around and got onto her hands and knees, bowing her head before Angelika, "I humbly thank you for healing me and caring for me. If you'd allow me, I will return to my Captain and never speak of what has happened to him."

Hyōryū arched her brow at Sakura, ignoring the rude comment from the medic compatriot, leaning into Anton as she spoke, "Just like that? We forget the fact you and your Captain led a military raid on our safehouse just because you got your ass owned by a common enemy? I say we dump her ass at the 10th Division's barracks with a nasty note of how much we love 10th Division hospitality."

"No shit..." Oliver growled, quick-drawing a pistol up to point at the back of Sakura's head once again. "We let you go, and you're just going to chase us again in order to capture us. We kill you, and we'll have one less person off our backs. I think your odds are looking pretty shitty, don't you agree? You should've just went back with your Captain, sweet-heart." After the way she had immobilized him on the wall, he was more than ready to deliver swift retribution to her for it.

"Kenja was certainly an exception..." Anton said, a scowl coming to his face as he fixed a glare at Sakura as well. "But what's the point of letting an enemy free if she's just going to come back to bite us later on? We'd be better off killing you and be done with you. Your heroism, brave as it is, just doesn't have a place in the likes of those who strive to survi--"

WHAM!

Hhe was immediately interrupted by the sound of Angelika's hand delivering a swift karate chop to the back of Sakura's neck, knocking her unconscious. "You're right..." She said coolly, standing back up and dusting herself off. "Things won't change no matter what we do. We're still going to be hunted. So, at the very best, we should take advantage of a good situation while we still have it." She turned her attention to Shinji. "Shinji. Carry this girl. From this point forth, she's going to be our little prisoner..."

"Yes, ma'am." With a quick bow, Shinji quickly moved to pick up Sakura once again and slung her over his shoulders like a sack of flour.

Kenja looked slightly disinterested at the situation, caring less what would happen to a dog of the Seireitei's military, considering so many were at odds with him. But as he heard Angelika's word "prisoner" he gritted his teeth before taking a swift step forward and placed a vice grip on Shinji's shoulder, one of the few people present that could stop him physically.

"Angelika, I've decided to add another term for my stay at your little headquarters," he cocked his head to the side, giving her a impassive stoic stare at her, saying lowly, "make sure not to abuse her body and keep her fed within a acceptable parameter. That's all, I don't care what other restraints or state the prison you use."

Hyōryū growled, pointing a finger at him demandingly, "Oi, Bastard! Since when do you make demands to us-?!"

"Of course."

Though slightly disdainful, Angelika readily agreed and cut off Hyōryū before she could exclaim her defiance. As much as she resented the girl personally, it wasn't enough to consider outright torture. She would keep the woman restrained to the point of being unable to fight or escape, but other than that, she would bring no harm. After all, if she was to be returned in severely injured condition, it would enrage Takuji even further than he probably was. And it already was apparent that brute force would not be enough to stop him.

Shinji let out an annoyed growl, clearly not liking the fact that Kenja had been courageous enough to place his hands on him. With a rough tug, he pulled himself away from him and shifted the umbrella underneath one of his arms. In order to assure Kenja and Angelika, he scooped her up bridal style and nodded to all of them - a clear sign that he was ready.

"Oliver." Angelika ordered immediately, pointing over towards the blonde as he re-sheathed his gun. "You take care of Shadō."

"Mhm..." The blonde grunted, the annoyance fading away immediately as he moved towards the body in order to sling the unconscious man over his shoulders.

Kenja briefly glared at Shinji as he released his hand, flexing it as though he felt something else when he touched the shoulder and clothing of Shinji. He then nodded his head thankfully to Angelika before taking quick flat look at Hyōryū, causing her to grind her teeth.

"Anton," Hyōryū whispered as they began trotting to Team Gamma's headquarters, "after we get rested...do me a favor and actually kick someone's ass this time."

"...eeyup..." Anton grumbled, too annoyed to make much of a response back to her. He didn't like the fact that they would now have to spend his moments with someone he would personally see dead. But he would respect Angelika's decision of allowing her to live as a prisoner.

"To the newcomers..." Angelika spoke, hands in her pockets as she walked. "I do apologize for the rough start for your newfound career. But I hope you'll find that in time, things will grow to be better. Once we're at the warehouse, we can become fully acquainted with one another and settle in."

"I want a donut." Yusuke deadpanned.

"I second that! And some roast beef stew! And some ramen...ah heck, anything you have in the fridge I'll devour!" Kenja began comically drooling as his stomach began to growl above the pattering of the rain that soaked all those who were present. He laughed sheepishly, "Sorry...being a powerful Fullbringer means I have to keep in shape as well as eat a lot."

Hyōryū eyed him up and down, gulping slightly, "Just...how good in shape are you?"

"Huh?" Kenja cocked his head to the side with query.

"Nothing, forget it!" She began blushing hotly before letting her bangs cover her eyes as she kept walking with Anton, purposely dragging his worn form away from Kenja as far ahead as she could.

Unfortunately, her boyfriend saw the blush on her face.

And from that point on, he silently vowed to find the way to kill Kenja one-hundred different ways.

The War of Four: The Hunter and the Hunted, Act II

Getting Settled In

"My, my, Angel-chan... you've certainly gotten a bit softer over the years, haven't you? Had it been any other situation, I would've been right in saying you took no prisoners."

Asuka was sitting cross-legged in a soft seat, sipping a cup of warm, green tea as she spoke. She, as well as the majority of the V-14, had situated themselves in the main room of the warehouse sub-rooms. Despite its nature, Gamma Team seemed to have made a home out of it. Everything looked just like something from a natural home, with furniture, television, and even decoration wallpapers covering the entirety of the walls. Everyone could easily get situated.

Among the people missing were Oliver, Yusuke, Shinji, Shadō, Anton, and Sakura. The latter of the three had been absent for various and obvious reasons. Anton and Shadō would need their rest in the medical wing, while Sakura had to be checked to make sure that she was properly contained. She would not be kept in a prison, but she would be inhibited, and it took the medic-nin's skills to see to that much.

"...please don't call me that..." Angelika closed her eyes, one of them twitching out of annoyance at her master's nickname. She herself was sitting in a chair opposite from Asuka. "You may have mentored me, but it doesn't mean you're free to do as you please. You're still my subordinate, after all..."

"Oh! That's right, I apologize." Despite her tone and expression, it was clear that Asuka was anything but apologetic. "It's become a habit of mine, I forgot how sensitive you get when you're being called that in front of your workers..."

"My my, ladies," Kenja said with a low whistle as his loud footsteps, now absent of the usual clanking of his Fullbring form, as he was now garbed in a hooded full-body black cloak, with black gloves and boots to boot, his personalized belt the only thing he kept from his original appearance, "you sure know how to set-up shop. Its a shame that you lost your other one."

"I had nothing to do with the set-up of these quarters..." Angelika answered readily, closing her eyes and resting her elbows on the arms of her chair. Her hands were folded in front of her face. "All the credit goes to Gamma Team."

While they spoke, there was another figure who had remained silent the whole trip. She sat farthest away from the group in total, her hands folded in her lap and her hair hiding the right side of her face. Clearly, she was trying to avoid talking to anyone and simply hope that she wouldn't be noticed.

"I see," Kenja grinned, with apparent praise in his eyes as he spoke to Asuka, "I heard you're the mentor of V-14's illustrious leader. The fact you were able to goad Yashin to take you seriously is...considerable. Usually he either toys with people or ignores them, usually a bit of both. Glad I got there in time to make him think twice," he said with a thankful, yet grim tone, crossing his arms as he looked over to the corner. He vaguely noticed the girl that was trying to keep to herself and isolate her location from everybody.

"Who's the wall flower over there?" Kenja asked rather bluntly, but made so in a purely inquisitive manner showing that he meant no offense to the girl shying away from them.

"Oh, her?"

Asuka put on a slight smile when she saw the girl immediately turn away, a slight blush on her face. "Oh, you're referring to Rika-chan?" She asked, her smile growing wider when she looked at Kenja. "Do not try to mind it much. She's not very vocal when it comes to... well... being vocal. But it's not because of something bad. She's just shy."

Kenja put on a wide grin as he looked at Rika, seeing her blush just made her seem more adorable. He could see from her attire and the way she looked she has a very beautiful, if not stunning looks. The dress complimented her in every way, and her long violet hair...Kenja looked back to Asuka, asking in a hushed tone, "Is she single? Or does she go for humans?"

If anything, Asuka's smile turned a bit mischievous, and she couldn't help but giggle in amusement. "Yes. She is single, if you really want to know..." She whispered back. "Though... you look quite older than her, Kenja-san... I didn't know you were one that went for the young ones, dirty old man..." She followed up this teasing statement with a closing of one of her eyes.

"Hey now," Kenja raised hands almost defensively, "I'm not that old, y'know. And here I thought all you people are like incredible long-lived. Wouldn't that make her like, older than what she really is?" Kenja tried to reason it out, as if there was some loophole for anyone to go after someone young-looking.

"Oh, you don't have to be so defensive about it..." Asuka answered readily, chuckling. "I really don't mind. It's not like I'm an overprotective mother looking after her daughter. If you wish, you're free to do whatever as you like... of course, if you can get past her shyness."

"Hehe, that's the trick, now isn't it?" Kenja said, looking over at Rika before winking at her.

"But...," Kenja looked back to Asuke and Angelika respectively, taking a seat across from both of them, leaning a muscular black wrapped arm, "I did come here for a reason. I came here to talk about Yashin and the Inner Circle, seeing as despite your knowledge of them, they seem to know more about you than you realize."

"I figured as much..." Angelika muttered grimly, a disdainful scowl crossing over her face. "Names, background, history we've had and relations we have with other organizations. Thanks to that demonic pest, our bodies are exposed for the prodding and the dissecting. It's a sickening side effect of the popularity we've gained in the criminal syndicate..."

Kenja leaned back on his chair, thrumming his fingers along the table as he heard her out, "Yashin is one of the most devious, if not most intelligent of the Inner Circle. Although I've never met the organization's leaders, the Four Horsemen, thankfully, if they want something done right they usually go to Yashin. So far he's eluded the entire Soul Society's military and intelligence operations for centuries, and his existence from what I've been able to dig up goes even farther back," Kenja pulled out a number of file folders with dates and places marked. Most of them being in the World of the Living.

"He's been interested in gaining knowledge of the universe as a whole. His methods for extending his network of agents, assassins, and enforcers is disturbingly effective and his means of executing or using other criminal organizations as he sees fit. No doubt, he paid you a visit indirectly when he called on your audience. Its best to presume the worst. He knows nearly every part of your past, your weaknesses, your relationships...the more he interacts with you, the more he finds out about your very being. He's a dangerous, sickening bastard who corrupts all that he touches. If anyone within the Inner Circle represents evil, its that man."

"Yes, that much we already understand..." Angelika allowed her gaze to drift forth to him when she spoke. "I had been watching the fight between him and my master and I saw the effects of the technique she used. That should've been enough to drive him away... but instead, it seemed to spur him on. Pain meant nothing to him."

Asuka sighed heavily, frowning. "I'm sorry... that was possibly my fault. I had a chance to deliver real wounds instead of just stimulation before he could use his illusionary powers on me, but I guess I was holding back too much. Nevertheless, you're right, Kenja. An immensely powerful being with a refusal to die, an insatiable hunger for knowledge, and the ability to shroud one's mind with the wave of his hand. Sounds to me like he was spawned straight from the depths of Hell..."

"Um... if I could interject...?"

The quiet voice of Rika finally spoke up, surprising Asuka and gaining her attention immediately.

Hearing the melodious, if not subtle voice tickling his ears Kenja turned around with a smile, he waved his hand in emphasis to the shy girl, "By all means. Speak freely, Rika."

"Well... for Yashin..." Rika suddenly found her head tilted downwards while she looked at all of them. "Prior to the fight he had with Asuka-dono, he seemed to have held no knowledge of her. It was the same for Shinji. But as the fight with Asuka progressed, he seemed to act as if he knew everything about her, particularly when he had used his illusions on her. I could see it within the shift in his movements and actions..."

"Its how he extends his control over others," Kenja said with grimace, but still held a admiring spark in his eyes towards the girl, as he emphasized to Rika as well as the two feminine leaders of V-14, "I felt it at first when I first met him. Its like his own emotions and desires flow into your being, slowly drowning and drugging you to the point where all that matters is his ideals and his will. Its not even something he as to do on purpose...because by being near him, he also takes on your very essence, the thoughts within your mind and the feelings within your soul. He can even trace the scars of your psyche back to its origins without trying. Its not really mind reading...its more like he's reading the book of your life by just extending his power over you. There is only one sure fire way of rejecting his will and brainwashed garbage he throws at you..."

"Yes...?" Asuka pressured, furrowing her eyebrows. "If you're going to tell us, don't bother to pause!"

Kenja wiggled his brows at her, saying, "You're cute when you're angry, but to the point, that's the only way to keep his influence from corrupting you. Rage, near utter blind anger, it totally keeps people from being warped by his presence."

This was something that kicked all minds into gear.

It was something so simple that it was overlooked by the deeper and more complex thoughts. Just allow yourself to get furious and fight? It sounded so easy in concept. But who knew what Yashin was past the illusions? It was true that at least Asuka had seen a part of it... but that was just it - only a part. If they wanted to make sure that nothing would go wrong, they would have to try and gain knowledge about their opponent.

"Shinji would be a perfect candidate..." Asuka said coolly, raising the side of her bent index finger to the underside of her lips in a thoughtful gesture. "But of course, that would be only in the brawn department. Not only is he immensely powerful, but he's also extremely intelligent."

"He's not the only person capable of making a chess game out of a battle zone..." Angelika said coldly, closing her lone eye. "Destroying his world piece by piece will do as much as personally seeing to his demise. If your man is capable of doing his job, then I can focus on opening up the innards of the very organization he works for."

That made Asuka's eyes widen, and she looked to Angelika with clear surprise at the brutal way her student was speaking. On top of that, Rika had regressed back into herself, wincing a little when Angelika made her speech. But both of them remained silent.

"But that's just part of it," Kenja spoke out, after a thoughtful nod, "Despite my raw anger and prowess in combat, he's been keeping me running after him for years without any real success in actually cornering him. As you saw, he's a cautious creature, and he wouldn't be left open to defeat, let alone interrogation so easily. In fact, did you know what happens to the average Inner Circle agent when captured? They have miniature explosives within their dental cavities with enough power to detonate an entire room. The Inner Circle is paranoid about revealing evidence of their existence, and the higher up you get in the ranks, is no exception."

"There is no need to fear..." Asuka said lightly. "Interrogation isn't the only method we have in obtaining information from the depths of the Inner Circle. Technology, documents, anything that's buried six feet under... rest assured, the V-14 is not limited to combat roles alone. If capturing someone isn't an option, then there are always other ways."

Kenja flashed a grin at Asuka before winking at Rika, "Glad I've chosen such competant people to be allied with."

Beep, beep, bip, boo, beep bop!

A partciularly interesting ring tone broke the silence as Angelika's phone began ringing. The ringtone was labeled "Unknown caller".

"...I hate these calls..." Angelika grumbled, reaching into her coat pocket in order to pull it and open it up. She pressed the talk button and held it up to her ears. "Yes?"

"WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?!" Came a voice from the unsuspecting Angelika's phone reciever, as the feminine voice sounded exasperated and frustrated. If not a little worried...

The response was almost comical.

As soon as the woman's voice blew through Angelika's reciever, the German woman immediately pulled her head away from it in an almost-violent manner, her eyes shut and her teeth gritted slightly. Asuka couldn't help but laugh a little at her former student's reaction, as even she could hear the voice from where she was. Certainly, the woman had screamed loudly...

Only taking a second to recompose herself, Angelika brought the phone back to her ear. "Frau Komori, what have I told you about screaming into my receiver like a jackal?" She said firmly, a mild tone of annoyance in her voice. "I already lost an eye and I don't feel like losing my eardrums to friendly fire."

Kenja could only smirk in amusement, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched the exchange of mannerisms and antics, "I wish I had this much fun all the time...though I could do without the friendly fire."

"I have been walking for hours, HOURS, looking for your hideout cause your LAST one was blown apart. From the looks of it, it was done in by your own weapon fire. What did you keep in there, a cannon?!" After a few moments of silence, she quickly responded, "don't answer that! I need to know a place to regroup with you. Currently with the 10th Division's recent raid, we're not in the best position to set up shop."

"It's to the right of the old safehouse. It's half a mile, so I do hope you're walking there right now while you're talking to me." Angelika said calmly, closing her eye and leaning back in her chair.

"Where the Hell is that-...oh," there was a brief silence on the end, before she said in a deadpan voice comically, "I'm right in front of it." After she said that, there was a number of stifled laughters coming from someone next to her. There was a brief crashing sound, promptly with her smashing his face into the dirt ground before answering the phone again, "I'll be coming up. Komori out."

"I wish..." Angelika sniffed, promptly pressing the "End Call" button and slipping her phone back into her coat. She gave a heavy sigh, turning towards her companions in the room. "I'm terribly sorry that I didn't bother to tell you earlier. But there's another team that'll we'll be seeing. They were candidates for Gamma Team, but had to dissolve under circumstance."

"Wow, Nazi, why don't you just bring up a whole damn army next time?"

Oliver's voice finally came in, as his figure shuffled inside of the room. "Shades and Ruso're doin' fine..." He reported coolly, walking over and leaning against the wall with his back to it and his arms folded across his chest. "They're gonna need a moment to recover, but they'll be alive and kickin' before Boobzilla can say "Word to yo motha".

Silence. Varying expressions of amusement, confusion, and annoyance crossed the faces of the majority, but Oliver only allowed himself to shrug. "What? It was the first thing I could come up with..."

Kenja chuckled, crossing his arms over his shoulder, "I'm surprised Yashin didn't kill them outright. I think he was overconfident that he could kill you all incapacitated with one blow. Which reminds me," Kenja turned to Oliver, a knowing grimace crossed his face as he asked lowly, "how's the lieutenant girl doing?"

This caused Oliver to cock an eyebrow. "Why do you care?" He answered back, putting on a taunting smirk. "Gee, Cleaver, you seem to be interested an awful lot in her safety all of a sudden. This some sort of May-December romance type of deal?"

"Drop the act, Jesse," Kenja said unimpressed as he crossed his arms over his chest, swiveling his chair towards him, "I'd rather not be caught up with a bunch of rapists and murderers, considering that's how Captain Takuji will feel if she's below acceptable health parameters. That's all I'm saying..."

"Tch..." Rolling his eyes, Oliver gave an exasperated sigh and pushed himself off of the wall. "Yes, for your information, she's fine. Any damage done was the result of Yashin using her own ability against her. Thanks to the medic, however, that's all done and done with. We put the collar around her neck, and now she's all good to go--"

"Collar?" Asuka inquired, both of her eyebrows raised slightly.

"They're popular around Yūrei, used exclusively by the police force We just managed to nab a few of 'em for ourselves, just for situations like this..." An amused grin came across Oliver's face, his palms rubbing together. "She attempts to use any of her powers, and she receives a little shock. The voltage's power depends on how much power she attempts to use. She'll be fine... unless she attempts to whip out a big ability on us. Then, she'll be at least a little bit fried."

"Yeah well," Kenja deadpanned as he raised a hand in emphasis, "but didn't you just say to me earlier that she's a Hakuda practitioner? Doesn't it mean she can use only her body as a means of a weapon?"

"Who's body is a weapon?!" Rang out a provocative, yet distinctive voice as a red haired woman stalked herself into the room, led behind with her lieutenant and right hand man, who had a slight bruise on his face from earlier, "and that better not be a insult to me or my crew...is it?!"

"What the--!!"

Oliver's exclamation was interrupted by Angelika's voice. "Glad you and your friends could make it up here, Frau Komori." She greeted, putting on a small smile as she raised herself up. "Apologies for the miscommunications of our location... if I knew that we would be attacked by both the 10th Division as well as a Dragon from the Inner Circle, I would've never put you through the trouble."

"Always nice seeing a new friendly face around." Asuka added, her smile growing wide at the sight of them - particularly at the bruise mark one of them had on their face. However, she knew it to be rude to ask about what had happened, and she had a pretty good idea already in her head.

Traditionally, Oliver raised an eyebrow as he inspected the leader of the tribe. Long red hair, a tan complexion, and a stance that clearly said that she was the head-honcho of her little group. He also could guess what happened to the unfortunate victim with the punch mark. "Wow. Is female leadership so dominant in the V-14?" He thought to himself, eyes rolling upwarsd at his own thoughts.

Mōka smiled, almost intrigued at the idea of the criminal regime she joined already being hunted by such big players. She crossed her arms over her generously sized chest, cocking her head to the side, "Wow, Angie, you really scored high on the top of someone's shit lists, now didn't you? Pissing off both the law and the underworld's most enigamtic and elusive criminal organizations known? You must really wanna die young, don't you?" She asked, all in good natured humor, as she had met Angelika a decade back before most of the current craziness began.

Shito looked over at Asuka, briefly glaring at her before turning his gaze away in slight grimacing shame, "You must be the leader of the Beta Team I heard we were outed from," he then courteously bowed his head down to waist level before bringing himself back up, maintaining a serious disposition at the moment, "pleasure to meet you, I'm Shito, Intelligence specialist."

"It's the side effect of being a simple courier making her way through the universe..." The one-eyed woman surmised, sighing heavily as she promptly sat back down in her chair. "Hopefully, if everything works out right, we'll be back within the clearing before any of us knows it..."

"Yeah..." Oliver snorted, placing his hands into his pockets and tilting his head to the side. "And hopefully, I'll be able to put a bullet through that fucker's skull before it's over and done with."

"You don't have to be so strict, you know..." Asuka said lightly, trying to encourage Shito from his formal demeanor. "It's really no big deal! We're friends, aren't we?" She folded her hands within her lap, shifting one leg over the other.

Mōka chuckled, resting her hands on her hips while tossing her head side to side, her long red hair swaying almost majestically around her ams and shoulders, "Yeah, well when that happens, I guess V-14 will be on top and the Inner Circle will just be a cornerstone of our illustrious honest empire, won't it?"

"Oh! Of course, haha!" Shito said as he scratched the back of his neck, realizing that the atmosphere is a lot more casual than he realized, "I was thinking I had to make a good impression. Y'know, since its technically unofficial until Angelika-sama gives us the go ahead and designate us."

"Relax kid," Kenja said crossing his own legs over each other as he leaned back into his own chair, making Shito slightly wary of his presence, "pull up a chair and grab something from the fridge. I'm pretty sure we got some good stuff for you to wallow yourself in, right scarface?"

"Wh-Who are you?" Shito asked with a nervous sweatdrop as he never heard of this man's being involved with Beta or Angelika Hartman's squads, let alone he felt his energy as human and not a soul.

"Empire...?" Despite the naturally calm tone Angelika had, it sounded as if she wanted to choke on the word rather than actually say it. "Please... empires are nothing but micromanagement disasters waiting to happen. I've been running my business small, and I intend to keep it small." She emphasized this with her nose slightly in the air in a haughty, but humorous expression.

"I disagree with that..." Oliver thought, sneaking a look at Mōka and at what she was subconsciously showing off.

"This, " Asuka explained, motioning towards Kenja. "Is a groupie of ours. His name is Kenja, and he's a terrible fanboy. We keep telling him to go away, but he always comes back!"

"Oh you know me," Kenja teased back, wiggling his brows back at Asuka, "I can't keep my eyes off you lovely ladies, but I still have to fight off your men's competive natures, its still worth the prizes in the end."

"Poor poor, Angie," Mōka she emphasized with a wave of her hands as she walked around the table, her eyes closed as she spoke, "you need to think bigger! I mean...if you could have a number of teams like us coordinate with you, it would eliminate all the management issues you'd need and we could have nearly a dozen four-man cells spread throughout the Soul Society, maybe even further! Imagine it!-"

THWAK!

"-with enough intelligent leaders, we could literally run the largest, most effective criminal organization in the history of all Soul Societies!" Mōka elaborated, unintentionally backhanding Oliver's face, disrupting intended stares at her slender, sensual figure.

"Yo-You're," Shito gasped, a slight bead of sweat trailed down his brow across his right temple as he took into full account of the man before him, "Kenja Kodai, the most wanted man within the Underworld! You've preformed the most gruesome and effective covert strikes against Inner Circle operations than anyone's else has been able to live and tell about! You're head's one of the biggest bounties the Circle has ever put out on a single man in the past five decades!"

"Aaaand?" Kenja deadpanned, slightly disturbed he had such a infamous reputation already.

"C-C-Can," he reached inside his coat, in a almost threatening posture...before comically revealing a notepad with a pen, a wide gleaming face with close-knit eyes that expressed fanboy glee, "can I get your autograph?! I'm a big fan!"

"...well, I do believe I've found the fan boy of our little group..."

Asuka's smile was small, but clearly expressing amusement as she watched. She raised a hand to hide her mouth, though the corners could still be seen. In truth, she wasn't willing to make that much of an attempt to hide her being entertained. After all, it was a casual meeting, and it was natural that the mood would be light and cheery after what had happened.

Kenja twitched slightly, looking over at Asuka in a slightly distressed manner as the revelation of being one of the biggest targets of the spiritual underworld, and yet he had a big fan because of it.

"Ummm, sure, kid," Kenja said as he took the notebook and began writing out his name in the best handwriting he had. In fact, if none noticed, his handwriting was quite elegant and practiced, someone of high esteem and prestige like a doctor or a CEO would have attained this type of handwriting. As he finished out his signature with a few rapid presses and brushes of his pen, he gave it back to a gleefully smiling Shito, "there you go. Have a ball."

"This is awesome!" Shito looked like he would've died that second and been happy as he pressed the notebook to his chest, nearly floating off his feet with joy.

"OW!"

Oliver hissed, jerking away and grabbing his cheek with one hand. One of his eyes were twitching, and he found himself glaring into the back of the woman. In any under circumstance, he would've gladly dismissed it as an accident. But, of course, this was a woman that was talking about, and in the case of women and men being around one another, it was natural that deception and trickery came into play. He certainly wasn't going to fall for that!

"You know..." He stated with a twitching smile, effectively cutting off Angelika (and earning a slightly annoyed stare from her). "I've killed people for less, chickadee..."

"Oh?" Mōka looked over in a perfectly executed feign of ignorance, blinking slightly in mock confusion as she tapped her lips with her forefinger, asking, "did you say something, Ollie boy?"

That was enough for the blonde man to get right in her face, a vein popping in his cheek and a deadfish glare in his eyes to match his twitching smile. "Yeah, and I'm about to do something, too!" He threatened, balling one of his hands into fists. He was going to tear her a new asshole, that's what he was going to do! He was going to eat her, and then poop out her remains so that they fall into a volcano! He was going to--

"Ey, boss lady!"

Yusuke's head popped out of the corner of the doorway, his voice interrupting Oliver's threat and making him look away from Mōka in surprise. The young boy, however, continued to speak on as if he hadn't done anything. "I managed to hook the Lieutenant up with the collar and heal her wounds up. She's all good to go!"

"Excellent..." Angelika said dryly, pushing herself up from the chair again. "I'll be going to check up on her."

"You guys go on ahead," Mōka said with a humored smile, leaning back against the table nonchalantly while looking at her nails, "I'm guessing Ollie has something to do that involves my attention."

Kenja rose from his seat to go with Angelika, briefly clasping a hand on Oliver's shoulder, "Watch yourself, Jesse. From what I've seen so far, the female leaders are the ones with the bigger balls and bigger guns. Just warning ya," he then released him as he walked on, not paying a heed to what would happen behind him as he walked towards the medic, awaiting Angelika's arrival.

Shito stood more attentive at the new information as well as Oliver's anger-filled antics, placing the notebook back into his coat sleeves. Despite his knowing that his boss could handle himself, he'd hope to intercede before anything unnecessary happened.

"Oh, I'm gonna get more than your attention by the time I'm--"

Angelika was promptly beside Kenja as Oliver continued to threaten Mōka, making a silent motion for the medic to lead them. With that, the three promptly exited the room and began to walk down the hallway, towards the isolated medical room where Sakura would be held at.

"So, I am to assume that she's fully stable and healed?" Angelika stated. "Her powers restricted and she is isolated from the rest of my patients?" She wasn't going to take any chances if it meant giving her enemy a chance to hurt her healing allies.

"Mhm!" Yusuke nodded readily. "She won't be hurting a fly anytime soon. The only thing we really have to worry about is her attempting to fight us off with her hands. But since she's been reduced to the regular Soul with her collar, and considering that we've got a numerous advantage, I doubt she'll be doing anything with that anytime soon."

"With a superior like that Captain Takuji, I wouldn't be surprised if she had a few more tricks up her sleeves," Kenja surmised aloud, following the trio to the isolated hospital room with long, purposeful steps. Despite his feelings against the Gotei 13, he'd hate to see a defenseless woman, soul reaper or no, be harmed by her captors. Another reason why he'd rather see her with his own eyes in the event they are trying to decieve him.

It wasn't long before they finally reached the door. Whipping out a card, Angelika inserted into the slitted key slot before turning the handle and stepping inside.

The innards were nothing more than something typical of the standard hospital, with a white room, white bed, and hospital equipment. On the bed, of course, lay the Lieutenant's unconscious form. True to Yusuke's word, she did not seem to be harmed in anyway, other than the collar that could be seen around her neck.

Kenja nodded approvingly to Yusuke, approaching her bed cautiously splaying his hand across her bedding, a subtle static feeling emitted from his palm before he released it. He looked over to Angelika, beckoning her with a hand, saying, "I've seen this type of trauma before. Its a Hakuda employed technique in which the user "shuts off" the spiritron flow in one's limbs, effectively incapacitating it as well as the ability to sift spiritual energy through the body. It seems the effects are starting to wear off on her...probably because of her Clan's naturally immunity to the techniques they perfect."

However, Mōka made no notion in taking Oliver seriously as she reclined and stretched against the table her chair was leaning against, "So Ollie, what exactly is your weapon of choice? It doesn't seem you're fit enough to take on enemies with your bare fists with all the barking you're doing, so are you a hacker or a gunman?"

"...oh. You don't think I can take you with my bare hands?"

An amused grin cross Oliver's face, and he lifted his hands up in a shrug as he approached. "Well, let me tell you something, rookie. V-14 members have a versatile skillset. They're not limited to one thing at a time. There is no weapon "of choice". So I'd think a bit more before assuming that I'm not good with my hands."

WHUMPF!

Within an instant, his foot moved to kick the table that Mōka had been lying on into the air. Within seconds, he moved his leg in order to execute a frontal side kick in order to send that particular table flying into the wall.

Shito deftly vaulted over the knocked over table, skidding across the ground as he prepared to intervene. His eyes widened, however, to see his superior react in kind to Oliver's executed attack.

SNATCH, CLAMP!

"That's fine and dandy, Ollie boy," Mōka said with a smirk, with a underlying dark glare and tone, as her hand effectively swung around and grabbed shin, stopping his kick with a vice grip like none other, "but everyone relies on a personal favored speciality of theirs. Like a right hand is favored over another, everyone is better at something over another. You, however," Mōka glared with a violent sensation of bloodlust leaking out as she growled, "are barking up the wrong tree, Ollie."

With a sharp yanking motion, Mōka threw his leg towards his unbalanced side, intending on sending him sprawling across to his left, across the ground with graceful, effortless force.

"Good..."

Angelika leaned over, her lone eye peering at Sakura's form. With a reach of her hand, she tapped the girl's head a few times in a manner similar to knocking a door. "Now that she's fine, and will be fine, I think it's a good time to explain to her what's going on..." She stated coolly, retracting her hand. She only put enough force to poke the nerves and stir the patient from her unconscious state. After all, she wasn't in the mood to hear Kenja complain about poor treatment out of a few "love taps".

On Oliver's end, the bloodlust sent a chill down his spine, and his grin gew a bit wider as a result.

With a raise of his other leg, he managed to balance himself when Mōka executed that throw, his body spinning around in the air. In this manner, he managed to counter the force of the throw and lessen it, allowing him to land on his feet without going too far away from her. He straightened up, his head tilted to the side. "Am I?" He taunted. "I think I'll be the judge of that, sweet-heart."

Dilemmas and Hierarchy, POV's of the Criminal Minds

Sakura twitched slightly, scrunching her nose and eyes in a effort to awaken by the proddings. Her eyes slowly opened, her gray eyes widened with every blink as she realized where she was...and whom they were.

"EEP!" She felt startled and quickly hid her face within the blanket given to her, curling up into a fetal position. "Go away please...five more minutes..."

Kenja couldn't help but surpress a smirk at her waking antics, finding them somewhat cute if not childish. "I don't think she knows exactly what's going on, Angelika."

Mōka smiled widely, swiveling her chair towards Oliver as she crossed her arms over her chest, raising one leg sensually slow over the other as she regarded him with a cock of her own head, "I've heard of you, Ollie Homey, back when you were contracted on some notorious jobs in V-14. You were contracted to assault the Soul Society back then if I remember correctly, and your fancy footwork shows excellent reaction timing. A fully capable marksman has to have those kind've reflexes...you impress me," Mōka raised a hand to Shito's tense form, allowing him to relax, "but I wanted to be sure. I know you're pretty much a hothead, and at times when not on buisness, a loose canon. I wanted you to know what position you're in now that I'm running my own show. Saavy, Ollie boy?"

"The position I'm in?"

Oliver promptly raised his hands in a shrug once again. "I could care less of the position I'm in or who you think you are..." He answered readily, the smirk not leaving his face. "You may have your own team, but that really don't mean shit. Don't like it? Too bad, so sad." For emphasis, he bent his arm at a right angle with the back of his forearm facing Mōka, his other hand grabbing the muscle. This was the traditional sign for "F*** you" as well as the obvious sign of how much he thought of her.

Asuka sweat-dropped at the display. "Angel-chan sure picked her soldiers well, doesn't she...?"

And speaking of Angelika, she seemed to have hit a road block with the expectations she had of Sakura's reactions.

Hostility was an obvious one.

Fear was another.

But never before did she expect Sakura to look at her enemies and react with such naivety. It was almost enough to make her lose her calm facade, and she discreetly sweat-dropped as she watched the girl bury herself within the covers. Intimidation would be... far too awkward in this situation...

Luckily, Yusuke provided an equally unorthodox alternative.

Abruptly, he lunged forward, leapt onto an unoccupied part of the bed, reached out with his hands, and began... to tickle her. His fingers scrambled over her form as he attacked, his grin comically stern. "You get out of that bed right now, young lady!" He declared, trying his best to mimic a stern parent. "Or you're not gonna get any dinner!"

And there went the potential tension in the mood....

"Well, you sure know how to talk, Ollie boy," she chuckled, making it a point to sound as if what she heard was more cute than actually insulting, "but can you walk how you talk? All I'm seeing is a hot shot who's been in the game too long to know when someone is above his own league and when he doesn't have the balls to back up his talk."

"Mōka-san," Shito tried to intervene, with a few sweatdrops running down his scalp at the inevitable confronation that might make the earlier one seem like a workout.

Kenja raised a brow at Yusuke, almost non-believing that it'd work. Then, what he heard next disapproved of his earlier thoughts.

"Hehehehe, aaaahhhh, stop it! I'm getting up, I'm up! HAHAHA!" Sakura squealed with laughter as she rolled off the bed with a defined thunk. And a loud "owww" was heard from Sakura before she peeked out of the covers at all the V-14 members present and Kenja, her hair frilled slightly while still maintaining a silky constitution, her eyes were wide and pale as she blinked.

"So...you're still here...," she said almost dejectedly, as if she was trying a trick to make them disappear. She took off the blanket before wrapping it around her medical clothing, realizing her uniform wasn't present on her silky, lithe and bountifully endowed body. She sat up on her shins in typical noble fashion, her sheet wrapped around her gave a impression of nobility as well as someone who's used to sitting in such a position, "I guess I should thank you for treating my wounds...but I guess I should still regard you as enemies, as you seem to have no intention of releasing me."

"Same to you, Coffee..." Oliver promptly lowered his arms, folding them across his chest. "Kenja said I'd be seeing the bigger guns out of you, but all I hear is an empty chamber going "click, click, click". I thought I was barking up the wrong tree. Aren't you gonna show me who's boss around here? Isn't the leader supposed to be taking the initiative?" Her words were simply fueling him even more to continue to push for a skirmish. He liked being challenged, and he wouldn't pass this particular chance up...

"Enemies?"

Angelika's eye narrowed slightly, one corner of her lip curling upwards. "If we were enemies, Frau Keikai, then I would have never bothered to leave you alive." She said bluntly. "As much as I dislike the presence of a member of the Gotei 13, I see you as nothing more than an annoyance. The V-14 has no enemies, only opponents. Do well to remember that, and you just might learn something from us."

"I like this one, boss lady! Can we keep her?" Yusuke whined, sitting on the bed cross-legged with a comically pleading expression.

Once again, Angelika discreetly sweat-dropped.

Shito narrowed his eyes to a almost menacing, threatening glare, "I'd shut up right about now, Mr. Holmes. Do you realize what position you're putting yourself in by go-"

CRACK-CRACK-CRACK-CRACK...CRACK-CRACK-CRACK-CRACK

Shito's eyes widened with fear as he looked around, hearing the painfully audible cracks of Mōka's knuckles moving against the palms of her hands, as she stood up from the stool, "-goading her...?!"

"Do you want half of your bones broken, or a third? Cause I think if I broke all the bones in your body, Angie will be pissed at me," Mōka said with a gleeful, sadistic smile as she took slow measured walks towards Oliver, as her body radiated a thick bloodlust, making Shito shiver as she came towards their direction.

Sakura blinked at Angelika questionably, as if trying to understand what she meant, "Would you like me to be useful until you know what you want to do with me? I can cook, clean, provide assistance short of violent nature, considering I'm currently restrained," she reached up thoughtfully to her collar.

Kenja looked thoughtfully to Angelika before stroking his chin, not knowing what Angelika's real intentions with her, considering anything short of ransom would be probably a bad idea.

She turned her head to Yusuke, smiling brightly at him before saying in a sweet tone, "Thank you, for healing me back to full health."

In response, Yusuke squinted his eyes shut and gave a cheery smile of his own. "No problem!" He answered readily, the pouting faded away. "But, if anything, you should thank Boss Lady and Kenja, too. She's the one who suggested it, and Kenja sounded so concerned about you that he wanted to make sure you weren't being abused like the Inner Circle would do to their prisoners."

"...you seem quite complacent, despite it being clear that you're our prisoner for the time being..."

Angelika's voice expressed mild yet obvious suspicion as she eyed the other female. Kenja's statement hadn't helped relieve that. Such a calm composure, while possibly being that of simple resolution, could also be signs that she had already formulated a plan for escaping. She knew that a close watch was needed for such.

In spite of the killing intent making Oliver shiver, he grinned, flexing his fingers before tilting his head back to its normal position. "Break as many as you want, toots. I'll be sure to be a gentleman and return the favor..." He taunted, pushing aside Shito's threat towards him. The reason for the chill being sent down his spine was out of excitement more than anything else. He had succeeded in provoking her, and now she decided to show him who was really in charge. In turn, he would show her why he had been hand-picked to be in the prestiged group that was V-14.

Off to the side, Rika promptly covered her eyes in a scared, yet comical manner, letting out a quiet whimper as she did so.

Mōka stalked towards him before placing her arms across her chest, standing in a neutral casual demeanor, "I wanna see what you can do before I give it a go. C'mon Ollie! Let's see if you can get your balls out of your purse for this."

Sakura turned to Angelika, before turning to Kenja bowing her head saying, "Thank you for insisting on my well being, Kodai-sama."

"Ummm, your welcome?" Kenja scratched the back of his head, wondering why she insisted on being so formal to him, let alone anyone within a merciless, mercenary band.

Sakura then turned her gaze back as she resumed her seated position, "Hartman-san, if I begged you to release me, that would be doing all of us a disservice, and if I threaten you in the state I currently am, it would be idiotical and futile. If I comply to any burdens you wish me to serve you and provide some use to you short of interrogation, that would be doing a service to all of us. I may see you as less than enemies, but I still don't consider you my friends."

"Aww..." Yusuke promptly deflated a little, head hanging own and depression lines hanging over him. "Nuts..."

"Glad you see it our way, Herr Keikai." Angelika closed her eyes, her calm demeanor showing itself immediately. "Though... I am unsure of how long you will stay here..." She closed her eyes, walking a few steps away from the bed in thought. "You see, I had assumed that your Captain had managed to pull you out of the battle when he and his men did. He is fully aware of how dangerous we can be, and yet he carelessly left you, a wounded soldier, in the hands of the enemy. You may chalk it up to faith in your skills and the assurance that you would get out on your own, but even for a woman like me... that is somewhat cold-hearted."

"You do know..." Asuka still had her small, cheeky smile as she observed the two soon-to-be combatants. "This usually is the first signs of falling in love with one another, right? And considering how he was checking you out earlier... you're already seeming to be the perfect couple. I can't wait to see your kids!"

"My orders from my Captain are...confidential, if it means anything to you," Sakura closed her eyes, totally unmoved by what she said, before reopening them and locking her eyes with her, "my mission, truth be told, has nothing to do with V-14. The reason my Captain hasn't pursued me or had me return with him, was for that reason. You can believe me or not, but that is the truth."

Kenja rolled his neck, groaning slightly at this ordeal. He looked over at Angelika expectantly, waiting to see what the mercenary leader had to say or would decide based on Sakura's actions.

"Thanks, but I'm not into balls-less men," Mōka said with a smirk, before turning her hips back and forth, almost in a taunting sensual manner before the man across from her, "besides...I'm already taken."

Oliver scoffed. "Who would want to get it on with you?" He taunted, the knuckles of his fist pressed against the palm of his other hand in an idle fashion. "Some guy who likes to get stepped on and prefers his nuts crushed inward? I feel real sorry for 'im, if that's the case, and if not... I still feel sorry for 'im anyway."

Angelika thought about it for a moment. Her mind flashed back to the battle that the girl had with Yashin and her subsequent defeat. The Lieutenant probably knew that she was no match for him on her own, but still continued to attack nonetheles despite the fact that she would die. It was obvious that the Soul Society was not only targeting them, but the very innards of the Soul Society as well. She must've realized that Yashin was a higher-up in their ranks, and taking him down was essential to finding out more about them.

So in that train of thought, the V-14 and the Gotei 13 had the same goal.

An amused smile came across her lips, and a dark chuckle escaped her throat. "Is that so, dear...?" She turned around to face Sakura, walking towards her until she was back at her original spot on the bed. "Well, you should know that the word "confidential" only those that think they can keep a secret hidden forever. But it has no meaning to the ones capable of breaking through the barrier. I don't need obvious methods such as interrogation to weed information out of a target, and you'll find that out soon enough. So don't get too comfortable with my being unaware of your schemes for the time being."

Shito facepalmed, sighing heavily as he said, "He had to insult her..."

Mōka smirked as she simply counted off, "You really shouldn't have said that. Incoming in three, two, one..."

"Yo!"

BLAM!

A unseen fist covered in dark blue-violet-black energy slammed into Oliver's back with enough force to send him sprawling back across the hall into the room, an excess of the energy would wrap around Oliver's body as the force smashed into him The presence previously undetectd until now, before a wild-looking tattooed girl appeared with a wrathful aura of energy unlike any other, "watch your tone, punk-ass, or I'll do some real damage!"

"AH!!"

A short, cat-like yell came from Oliver's lips when the fist struck his back, and he found himself sprawled onto his stomach when he landed. "Nnngh..." He groaned, only managing to turn his head when the energy enveloped his body. "Ok... what the fuck and who the fuck are you?"

The wild-looking appearance of the new woman caused Rika to instantly shrink back a little and Asuka to cock an eyebrow, the smile fading away immediately.

Sakura narrowed her eyes at Angelika's amused grin before turning her face away, retaining her composed dignified appearance as she closed her eyes once more, "We will see. Only know for now, I don't consider you the danger that my Captain purposely and publically made you out to be. Its only by cooperation, that the real threat is rooted out and eliminated as soon as possible. Agreed?" She finished with a cocked brow and lone eye locking onto hers, letting her see her point of view as Angelika's endgame.

Karitori raised a glowing, pulsating hand towards him which in turn raised him upwards held captive by the ribbons of dark energy wrapped around his body in a electric-vice grip around his form, "I'm the bitch who's gonna tear your ass open for calling me a faggot douchebag!"

Mōka sighed, "She's," she emphasized wit ha wave of her hands, "my loving, sweet girlfriend and one of my teammates. Karitori, meet Ollie boy. Ollie boy," she smirked as she crossed her arms over her chest, "meet my wo-man."

Shito walked forward in front of Karitori as she held Oliver, saying, "Let him go, Karitori. Slowly, and nicely. We're all friends here, right?"

"T...this is--?!"

Despite the pain in Oliver's expression, his eyes widened in surprise. "Okay... maybe I'll take back what I said about you being a doormat..." He managed to get out, his breathing strained by the ropes around his body. "If you would be so kind enough to stop fucking choking me!!"

"Yes, dear, it would be bad if it got out that a V-14 member was killed for such a trivial reason..." Asuka added calmly, sipping the last of her tea before setting it down onto the table.

"Agreed..." Angelika answered smoothly. "I'm glad that you, at least, aren't completely swayed by the propaganda your Captain's polluting the Soul Society with." She allowed herself to turn away. "I'll be taking my leave now. Yusuke, make sure you keep a watch on her and make sure she doesn't nose into anything that isn't hers."

"Okey dokey lokey!" Yusuke chirped, giving a wave as his superior stepped away.

"Tch!" She released the vibrant, dark energies off of his body letting fall limp onto the floor as it dissipated into the air as light blue particles, "you're a sadass without your mouth and guns, Oliver."

Mōka walked over and wrapped her lithe, well defined arms around her shorter romantic companion before giving her a hug from the side, saying, "Thanks for dropping him. I was literally this close in punch a hole through him..."

"It would've been a waste of time, if you ask me," She said dismissively in a throaty tone before hugging back, releasing her once she calmed down, "and you must be Asuka. Heard a little about you, like how you and Angie are real badasses with swords. I'd like to see you guys in action sometime."

"Thank you," Shito said with a breathy sigh of relief, not really wanting to try and restrain his potentially uncontrollable teammate...try being the word anyways. He turned to Oliver, bending down on one knee while extending a hand to help him up, saying apologetically with a sweatdrop down his brow, "sorry about that. I tried to warn you to stop..."

However, there was really no need to.

Oliver promptly stood back up on his two feet, rubbing his hands together while taking in deep breaths. His eyes were narrowed and his teeth were gritted in a clearly angry scowl. The one thing he hated more than anything was an overly arrogant opponent. Both of the women had been bragging as if they had actually accomplished something. The accomplice had crept within the shadows and struck him when her partner was finished bragging. It wasn't the move of hardened criminals, but two cowardly snakes.

Now he had even more of a reason to lower what little respect he had of them.

"I think we know who's got the lower self-esteem, asshole..." He growled, passing a glare to Shinto.

"Oh, I'm pretty good with bladed weaponry, I admit..." Asuka said softly, passing a glance of sympathy to the angry Oliver. "But Angel-chan's not someone who can wield a sword. I've taught her the proper mentality for doing so, but that's about it."

Sakura smiled bowing her head to Angelika as a more cheerful tone came into her speech, "Take care!" She turned with a giddy smile and bright look in her eyes as she looked to Yusuke, "So, tell me a little about yourself...how did you learn the healing arts?..."

Kenja nodded with satisfaction, left the room ahead of Angelika asking, "Can you direct me to my temporary quarters? I'd like to know where they are so I don't get lost," he finished with a nervous sweatdrop expression on his face, a teasing undertone carried throughout his speech.

Karitori smirked, crossing her arms, "Figures. With the way she carries that golden-tinted gun of hers, I figured her to stay with long-ranged combat. Still...if you're half as good as Mo-chan says you are, then I won't be disappointed," she smiled with anticipating look, with a hint of a challenge in her eyes.

Mōka looked over at Oliver before winking at him, mouthing a "next time," at him before she began walking in a sensual, confident fashion past her two subordinates, "I'm going to crash and set up. Call me if anything pressing needs my attention will you?"

Shito sighed as he saw the obvious reaction Oliver had, before crossing his arms, looking at him before hatching an idea to appeal to him. After all, he felt bad his superior targeted him for her personal amusement, "If you want to relieve some steam, I got some good spill from Tendan if you want to associate. I've yet to meet any of you, and I think since you're one of the only real men on this station who doesn't want to crack my neck...so how about it?" He flashed a honest grin, hoping that he was truly not trying to get on this man's bad side.

Karitori chuckled before she walked the opposite way of her lover, passing by Oliver briefly, flashing a feral grin at him as she passed by, "I'll go scout out the perimeter. I'd like to make myself familiar with the place if you don't mind, boss?" She directed her words at Asuka without directly turning to her as she stalked down the opposite end of the corridor, her boots tapped against the floor methodically as she disappeared as soon as she came.

Oliver's teeth pressed together in his closed mouth when she flashed the grin at him, his blood boiling once more. The temptation to whip out his gun and shoot her in the back of the head seemed too strong for him to control, and one of his hands trembled briefly and slightly at the thought. However, he knew that shooting her right now would only suit to make him look bad, something done out of emotions. He knew better than that, despite his desire to spite both her and her lover.

Drawing in a breath, he looked over to Shito once more. Because Shito hadn't cursed him out for his anger-venting statement, he couldn't find himself to be too angry at the other man. It wouldn't kill him to acknowledge the Omega Team member... no matter how much of a doormat he seemed to be.

"Maybe some other time..." He muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking away. "For now, I've gotta see if my partners are wide and awake yet..."

"With the way you move ahead of me..." Angelika said bluntly, looking his way as she walked up to him. "You seem to act like know your way around yourself." She emphasized this with a deadpan look, unamused by the initiative he was trying to take.

"About me?"

Yusuke thought about it, disregarding the sudden mood change that Sakura had fallen into. He folded his arms across his chest, looking down with an expression that matched his intentions. "Well... to tell the truth, I was in the Gotei 13 and served as a Seated Officer for the 4th Division." He explained. "I got frustrated and left because no one seemed to pay attention to the Seated Officers. Everyone prefers the Lieutenant and the Captain. It's pretty much all they talked about, and it wasn't fun hearing the same thing over and over again...."

"Oh," Shito nodded, his voice had a tinge of disappointment before he asked in a query statement with a neutral dispositioned look, "may I accompany you to see them?"

Kenja raised his hands in defense, "Hey, don't blame me cause I feel the foundation's energy. I'm a Fullbringer, remember? Today's standards of fully trained Fullbringers can sense the distortions and energies within inanimate objects. Its how I found out I was being watched by you guys, because I made several rounds in a particular neighbourhood to get used to how it all felt. But...it doesn't change how despite that, I sometimes get lost and I forget where I was going," he admitted with a waterfall of tears, with lines of depression hanging over him.

"Oh?" Sakura blinked her eyes widely, acting in almost childlike innocence as she scooted closer to Yusuke, "you left because you felt unappreciated? I know the 4th Division has always had it hard with discriminations by other Divisions, but after the turn of the last century, most 4th Division members were known to be both capable combatants and quite skilled in medicine and healing Kido. Did Captain Ikidori not treat you well or something?"

Yusuke let out a sigh, his expression becoming slightly downtrodden. "Yeah... most, but not all. I couldn't adapt to the way the division was run after she stepped in, and as a result, I ended up falling behind. Everyone else adjusted easily to the new style, but I... I just wanted the old Captain back. I couldn't change with the times like they did..."

"...right..." After regarding him for a moment more, Angelika promptly stepped past him. "Just make sure to follow me and keep those urges of yours in check. I already have one moronic piece of muscle to deal with, and I don't need another." Her tone was not insulting, but still carried the casual demeanor she always used. Well, as casual as she could get, considering her business-like attitude towards things.

"Sure." Oliver answered, waving a hand behind him in order to emphasize as he continued to walk away. "Maybe getting a taste of Alpha Team will jar a few of those nerves of yours a little..."

Sakura smiled sweetly, placing a hand on Yusuke's and saying to him encouragingly, "I understand. You don't need to feel bad about it. If you never have left, I might have stayed badly wounded and maybe even paralyzed for weeks. I'm just sorry we never have met in better circumstances, that way we could've gotten to know each other better without suspicion getting in the way."

Kenja sweatdropped, saying a blank, "Yes maam," before walking in tune with her steps, thinking thoughtfully. Before long, he grinned cheekily, leaning forward to whisper, "I did get the drop on you though, and you had me outnumbered and outgunned. Not exactly one of your oustandingly brilliant career moments, huh Angelika?"

Shito smiled nervously as he followed in step with Oliver, scratching the back of his head, "I'm sure I won't mind. If what you've seen of my companions doesn't tell you anything, I'm used to a rough atmosphere...unfortunately..."

It seemed like talking to Shito actually did help calm Oliver down... at least for the moment. His body became more relaxed as he walked, and he was slowly returning to the casual demeanor he had walked in the room with in the first place. "Well, think of it this way..." He said, looking over his shoulder for a brief moment. "At least, the chances of you getting socked in the face are lesser than what you would've had with your group." He could safely say that, considering Shito seemed to be nothing like him or Hyōryū.

"Trust me..." Angelika said simply. "If not for the circumstances, you wouldn't be alive right now." She shifted her hands into her coat pockets, her eye drifting to the door that would lead to Kenja's quarters as it came closer and closer to her. "So I would think twice before attempting to brag about your survival."

"Well..."

Yusuke's voice was slightly hesitant at first, but became stronger as he spoke. He allowed his eyes to meet Sakura's. "I don't suspect you." He admitted. "I mean, you seem too nice and kind to be like Captain Takuji, who just posts stuff about us to an exaggerated level. You sound truthful about what you can be and simply silent on what you can't." He beamed. "You may not trust me, but I feel like I can trust you...."

Shito chuckled sheepishly, as he walked with Oliver in step, "Well, to tell you the truth I kinda earned that one for laughing at Komori-san. She has a terrible sense of direction, so I coudn't help but laugh when she was right in front of the head quarters, hahahaha-ooh ow!" He began laughing before he felt the pain leap back up on his jaw, rubbing it tenderly with a pouted expression.

Kenja sighed, raising his head back up while shifting his hands into his pockets of his black motif get-up, "Shoot me down off my horse, why don't you?" He looked towards the direction Angelika was, piecing together the destination was his room they were approaching. He hoped it wasn't too mundane, but he didn't want to be pampered either. He already had a little bit of both lives from both back home and here in Rukonagi....

Sakura's cheeks took on a rosy tint, as her smile brightened even moreso. "But Yusuke," Sakura said softly, leaning up and wrapping her arms around Yusuke's arms and back, whispering in his ears, "I trust you. You're the only one I trust, and I thank you for trusting me."

When Sakura's arms wrapped around him, Yusuke's eyes widened in surprise. He had never expected her to say that much. After all, he was under orders to watch her and make sure she didn't do anything that would compromise V-14. He had been telling the truth, but didn't expect her to return his trust. It was quite a comforting feeling, to have her embracing him physically and within her mind. It made his smile widen a bit more.

"You do?" He asked eagerly, lapsing into silence for a brief moment. "Well, if you really say so, then I guess it's okay..."

"It's what I do..."

With those slightly amused words, Angelika stopped at the doorway and pulled an about-face in order to face him. "This will be your room. Everything's already set up for you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of the males about it."

"That's not a bad thing." Oliver said bluntly, taking a few steps more before stopping at the door where the patients were residing. "Your laughter just tells your leader that she fucked up in some way. She may clock you, but in the end, you're always getting the last laugh. Try to keep that in mind, and maybe you can breathe a little bit easier..."

Then, he raised his leg up.

"WOO-TAAAH!"

BAM!

With a karate yell, he kicked in the doorway, the door slamming into the wall with a resounding BANG!

PHEEEEW, BANG!

Within the instant of the door striking the wall inside the room, a startled Hyōryu Fūsoku threw a wad of bandages towards Oliver's face, yelling out, "Hurt people are in here, dumbass!!!"

Shito sweatdropped after feeling his body jump inside out at seeing the manical display of blatant disruptive behavior, thinking inside, "These are....normal behaviors for Alpha Team?! They're crazy! Crazier than we are!"

Shadō was sitting in a upright position, with slight bandages wrapped around his chest, his long hair falling smoothly onto his shoulders and over his ears, a peaceful stoic expression donned on his face before the whole incident happened before his eyes. Yet, this time he wasn't surprised as he sighed, "Welcome, Oliver. We were wondering how long it would take for you to get here and visit us..."

Kenja smiled, letting himself into the room and noticed its spartan furnishings. A cabinet with a face mirror resting ontop of its counter faced the foot of his bed with a single sheet, resembling more of a cot with metal framing than anything. To the right of the bed was a closet, allowing enough storage for a number of necessary clothes and other additonal equipment Kenja would acquire. He turned around and sat on his bed, hopping up and down slightly on his bum, noting the creaking sound it made, but sat with a appeased, content look, "This will do fine. Thank you, Angelika."

Sakura released her hold on Yusuke, still smiling as she held onto his hands, whispering one more thing, "Just to seal the deal," with a wink she leaned up and placed a soft, brushing kiss onto his forehead before releasing her lips off his delecate skin, returning back to her seated position, saying with a bright, rosy smile, "now we're best friends, kay?"

This earned a mirthful chuckle from Yusuke. "Yeah... just try not to soften me up too much, I'm still a guy, after all..." He said, sticking out his tongue in a childish, humored manner. "The last thing I want is for Asuka to start teasing me about whether or not I'm gay."

WOOSH!

Promptly, Oliver dodged, a dead-fish look in his eyes as he idly picked his nose with his pinky finger. "I was just out meeting the new team and getting acquainted, and already I've found myself hating two of 'em..." He said dryly, walking into the room and allowing Shito to step through. He used his free hand to gesture towards them. "Shito, meet Hyōryu, a.k.a. Frat Boy Number 2, and Shadō, our resident emo."

Hyōryu growled, grasping Anton's hand again while kneeling next to his bed, trying to ignore him.

Shadō humored himself by retorting back to Oliver, raising a finger to point at him, "So, wouldn't that make you, the resident asshole, with a gun to compensate for a lack of man parts?"

Shito snickered at Shadō's comment when he came in and bowed his head to the three of them, "Hello there. I'm Shito, the resident cool headed comic relief of Omega Team. Pleasure to meet all of you. Well, I think its a pleasure meeting some of you anyways, hahaha-ow!" He touched his jaw again in reflex, remembering the pain of being punched not too long ago.

"Well, she'll have to deal with it then," Sakura stuck out her own tongue playfully back, before she giggled, "after all, I don't care what people think when I'm acting myself around my friends."

"If I needed a gun to compensate for the size of my dick, I would just carry around Hyōryu's all day." Oliver said bluntly, furrowing his eyebrows. Just how many times was the existence of his man-parts going to be questioned? The joke was getting quite old. At times like these, he wished that he had hooked up with a girl just so he could shut them up about it. "But you do happen to be right about the "asshole" part." He walked over beside Hyōryū, taking a seat and looking over at Anton's unconscious form. "How's Pinko--"

That was when Anton's eyes shot open.

"...I just had the wierdest dream about a white unicorn pony sniping people while yelling something about dispensers. Am I starting to lose it?"

"Yourself...?" Yusuke looked curiously at Sakura, thinking about her statement for a moment. So the noble and elegant attitude was nothing more than a front in order to appease or decieve people? "So you're not a noble with a stick shoved up her butt? That's good, I feared that actually might be you!"

Sakura's eyes blinked several times before she giggles, putting a hand over her mouth as if raising a fan over her face, "Oh no! My Clan may have high standards and importance withing the Soul Society, but its not a Noble Clan...not yet anyways," she smiled shyly, weaving her hands through her hair as she whispered, "did you know that my Captain's Clan, the Takuji Clan, wants me to have an arranged marriage?"

Hyōryū softly kissed Anton's hand, rubbing it with both of hers as she spoke softly, "No...it means you're on the road to recovery. Going insane is typical for those in V-14, right Oliver?" She smirked, winking at Oliver as if she was explaining his antics as insanity.

Shadō nodded to Shito, saying, "I'm glad that I got to meet the cool head of your team first. I'd almost assume you all had psychopaths with large guns, like some of my teammates," he brooded as he sideglanced at Oliver and Hyōryū.

Shito rubbed on his jaw while smiling, "I'm glad to know someone approves of me before making accusations. My team can be a little crazy, but they're good at what they do and they care for each other...when they're not fighting each other that is."

Oliver simply stuck out his tongue at Hyōryū in a slightly immature manner. "Don't talk to me as if you're any better." He retorted, looking after for a brief moment before turning his gaze back to Anton. "How you feelin', big guy? Any signs of mental retardation we have to worry about?"

"Other than the weird dream I had..." Anton rolled his eyes, slowly bringing himself up to a sitting position. His free hand clutched his head. "I feel like I have a mild hangover. Maybe that's what I can say when the reporters ask me what does it feel like to be struck by lightning..."

One of Yusuke's mouth corners curled downward. "Oh, right. Arranged marriage..." He said, slightly disdainful. He promptly threw himself back, his head falling on the pillow. His arms were folded across his chest, and one of his legs was shifted over the other. "All to keep clan business stable and strict as they can. How could I not have heard of it?" He cocked a slight eyebrow, his eyes drifting over towards her. "Who's the guy you're stuck with?"

Hyōryū laughed lightly, "That's certainly one way to put it after you been through such a shocking experience! Hahaha!"

Shito's eyes widened looking at Anton strangely, asking, "Hold on...you were struck my lightning. As in, a Zanpakuto powered lightning bolt...how did you survive that???"

"By being crazy, that's how," Shadō said with a bemused tone, shaking his head.

Sakura's eyes widened, her cheeks flushed and she looked down while hiding her face with her hands, "I-I don't know that...they never thought me priviledged enough to know which suitor I was going to be betrothed to. After all...there are many elites within the Takuji Clan, all of which would be fully capable for a arranged marriage. Though, its all up to the Head of the Takuji Clan to decide," she sighed heavily.

"So, in other words, they just pick two random people and attempt to put them together." Yusuke summarized, the frown prominent on his face. "That's just like putting dynamite and fire together and praying that an explosion doesn't happen!"

"...no." Oliver deadpanned, shooting Hyōryū an exasperated glare. "Never again." This caused Anton to snicker slightly, clearly getting a kick out of the blonde man's reaction to the pun.

Sakura shook her head, saying, "Its not like that. This is all more of a formality really, its to be expected if Clans are going to unite under a single banner. I don't if you'd understand what's it like to be a daughter within a Clan that has high expectations of you, and if you slip up once they look at you with shame," she hung her head, turning away from Yusuke, "I'm sorry...I shouldn't have brought that up."

Hyōryū stuck out her tongue at Oliver, "Such a spoilsport, no cake for you!"

"There's cake?" Shadō raised a brow in curiosity, before a knowing smirk came onto his tomboy partner's face before he glared back at her, "you always like about that, Hyōryū-san."

Shito laughed lightly, "Yes, well it seems that you're both recovering well. I hope we all work together soon. I'd just like to see what you're all capable of," he turned around and began to casually walk out of the hospital room, closing it softly behind him, not before waving his hand to Oliver, "remember, Oliver. Spill from Tendan, don't forget it!"

Oliver turned his head to look over his shoulder, raising one hand in order to give a wave back. "Yeah, yeah, don't sweat me about it. I won't!"

"Spill...?" Anton questioned, cocking an eyebrow at his blonde friend and earning his gaze back to him.

"Yeah, I donno what the fuck it is. But apparently, it gives me an excuse to beat the shit out of something and let out some steam those two bitches managed to put into me."

"See, that's the problem!"

Yusuke threw his hands up into the air to emphasize his exclamation. If there was any insult that had actually been in Sakura's statement, he hadn't noticed it. "Slip up once and "Bam!" Everything's over and done with! Someone shouldn't have to live under such a strict and demanding rule. It's stressful, demanding, and boooo~ring! It's much more fun to see you when you're not acting like a noble, if you ask me."

"I appreciate your words more than you know, Yusuke, but I wasn't given a choice," Sakura looked sadly, smiling at Yusuke as she spoke, "because becoming a Lieutenant of the 10th Division was even arranged as a way for me to gain close relations with the Takuji Clan, as a way for them to analyze me and pick the perfect suitor for me. I know it seems so dull, but it gives me a sense of purpose and acknowledgement. In a way, I'm given a important task only my family has sought to have me carry out. I'm proud of taking this burden, even if its troubling," a single tear traced down her cheek as she kept smiling, even while she sniffled, "because I love my Clan!"

Hyōryū smirked, teasingly poking Oliver's shoulder, "What's the matter, Oliver. Too many women for you to handle? And here I thought you're supposed to be the macho, tough guy of our team. Did they hurt your feelings or something, hehehe!"

That caused Oliver to turn away in a scoff. But he didn't reply.

"Well..."

Because of the tear, Yusuke's expression clearly told Sakura he wasn't that convinced. But his tone was reluctantly agreeing. "If you insist that this is the best route for you, then I won't go against you. Still..." He allowed himself to sit up, folding his arms across his chest. "I'm not too keen on the idea that they just put you up with someone else only because of your position as a Lieutenant. It's... just not right, you know?"

"It wasn't that...I could've chosen to deny that position. Any Lieutenant has reasonable free lease on who they want or don't want to have as their Captain, but I chose him because....well...that's kind of personal and has no real reason why they chose my being the successor of our Clan and the knot that will tie both of our Clans together," she looked up at Yusuke, cocking her head to the side as she crossed her own arms in a copy-cat manuever as she made a fake pout face, "I could say that about you being with V-14. You're way too nice and kind to be involved with such violent people. With the exception of Angelika and you, most of the others have a underlying calousness in taking people's lives in nothing short than making a living. You don't seem violent at all, so why do you work with them?"

"Ohhhh," Hyōryū grinned widely, elbowing Anton in amusement as she gafawed, causing him to wince a little. "the great amazing Oliver got his ass handed to the noob Team! How rich is that! Nyahahahahahahaha!"

"If you can really call getting blindsided that..." The sneer on Oliver's face expressed his opinion of it in full. "Punks really value their magic powers over everything else. One bitch tried to act like she was hot shit while all she was really doing was waiting for her partner to come pull her out. Real good way to say that she can't fight on her own. They're nothin' but a bunch of snakes in the grass."

Anton shrugged. "But was it really worth it to go messing with someone with potentially suped-up powers?" He asked lightly.

"Course it is!" Oliver was quick to round back on Anton. "What they just proved was that they're useless without their little superpowers. They just like to run their mouths and hear themselves speak. At least I got the guts and balls to back up my words. V-14 may not have enemies, but they're really fuckin' close to that line..."

"Why do I work with them..."

Yusuke closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "Well... I guess you could say it's because they don't care for who I am." He finally said, after a moment of silence. "I can act high and mighty, immature and childish, whatever. They accept me for who I am and what I do. While we do have our share of blood and violence, we're really a nice group once you get to know us. Sure, we have our ups and downs, but that's really just about it. It's actually pretty fun!"

Sakura smiled, nodding in understanding, "I'm glad they appreciate you, Yusuke. They need someone like you, who has a big heart and mind. Never lose that side of yourself, no matter what," she placed her hands on his chest, "because someone who cares for the wounded and the betrodden is a special gift no one can take from you. That's a part of who you are, and I'm glad you're free spirited. Sometimes that's what makes people such good healers is their release of passion and the ability to speak their mind. You should be really proud of yourself."

Hyōryū shrugged, "Maybe, but I wouldn't really call you yelling to the world how great you are and how bad they are really much of a blindside hit. I bet whoever knocked your nuts was just hearing you from the other side of the base and decided to kick your ass. I know I would, ha!"

Unknown to the rest of the group, a pair of bare feet began walking towards their direction. The peculiar thing was that the bare feet weren't actually touching the ground, but just inches above it. This man had happened to hear the interesting conversation that enlightened him to stop by for a visit. After all, being a new member of V-14 means getting to know new people right? And what better way then to visit the sole opposition of Alpha Team.

The gray haired man turned around to the busted door, his scythe sticking out behind him, causing the blade to scrape aloud in a almost quickening rate, as a feral smile but a hearty tone broke out as he reached a hand to smooth out his mane hair, "Hello there. I was hearing a lot of commotion and thought it was a party, so I decided to drop by. Unfortunately, there's no one playing any games at the moment so let's play a guessing game. Who's the big shot who thinks we're amateurs at combat, because I'm more than willing to humble myself before his prestige and title as the strongest of Alpha Team. Well?" Yajū raised his head to see which one of them would bark first, with Hyōryū glaring at him and Shadō simply blinking, taking in his rather tall stature and rippled muscles.

"Excuse me, princess, but I wasn't--"

Oliver's protest was immediately interrupted by the voice of the newcomer, and he casually spun his chair around in order to face him. One of his eyebrows were cocked, and he regarded the man with a casual interest. It was clear that maybe he had been overhearing the conversation (at least a little bit of it), or maybe one of his friends fed him the information. He could already smell the scents of a fight approaching.

So he did what he normally did - he barked first.

"That'd be me, sailor..." He said coolly, pushing up his chair and standing up. "Got a problem?"

Yusuke blinked when the girl put her hands on his chest. "Well, I get that, but..." His blinks became owlish. "You sure it's necessary to do that while you say it?"

"Oh quite the opposite really," Yajū smiled widely, picking up his large scythe and resting it on his shoulder, the edge of it barely missed the ceiling of the hospital room as he bared down on the man, "I just find that to be less of an insult and more of a challenge. You truly want to test the strength of an Omega, chump? If you do, then I'll prove it to you that at least I am more skilled than the likes of you, hot stuff!"

Hyōryū smoothly reached to her hip, unclipping the snap to her gun in the event that this guy cuts loose within the hospital room, standing near Anton and holding his hand tightly as her eyes narrowed dangerously. Even she knew when to shut up and not goad someone looking for a fight, but Oliver...she wasn't sure he could pass up the opportunity.

"Oh," Sakura blinked and suddenly looked at her hand, but did not remove it, looking up back at Yusuke while blinking confused, "does it bother you that I'm touching you?"

"Well...no, but..." Yusuke scratched the back of his head, looking from her hand to her face and continuously switching his gaze from one to the other. "The motion just seems out-of-place. I mean, wouldn't you be placing a hand to your own heart while saying that? Or at least give me a poke to mine or something? I mean..." He squinted his eyes, turning his head a little while still keeping his gaze on her. "I mean, if I did that to you, wouldn't it be at least a bit--"

That was when he stopped, a thoughtful look crossing his face.

Then, his bangs overshadowed his eyes, his eyes sparking comically through the shadow. He raised his hands up in a playful, yet threatening manner while giggling in a humorous, yet maniacal manner.

Anton, however, was observing the whole situation with a sweat-drop, as he knew what was going to happen. And sure enough, Hyōryū had guessed properly.

"Bring it, bitch..." Oliver's grin grew wider, and he tilted his neck to the side in order elicit an audible snap of the neck. "A perfect opportunity to send you crying back to your two whores."

A guttural chuckle broke from Yajū's throat, his grin spread to show his pearly white teeth and his eyes bared into Oliver's, "Exceeeellent," he then turned around to Anton, almost as if he had a whiff of knowledge to ask him correctly, "is there a place where we can hash this out, Mister Semenov?"

Hyōryū let a sigh of relief as she removed her hand away from the gun, realizing that he knew better than to start a fight within the nursing room. She became glad even some of the muscle hulks of Omega had common sense past their ego stricken selves.

Sakura cocked her head to the side, truly naively confused, "Be what? What would I be?"

"This."

With that, Yusuke promptly tackled the unsuspecting girl to the bed and proceeded to tickle her everywhere. In some cases, it would've been mild invasion of personal space. However, Yusuke didn't seem to care much about that as he assaulted her once more.

"...don't ask me." Anton deadpanned. "I just woke up here. I'm not gonna know the exact layout of this place. You'd be better off lookin' for yourself."

Yajū grinned, shrugging as he turned around and began walking out of the room, "Fine with me. I've scouted out most of this base already, I just thought to ask if you guys knew of a allowed area. I know just the place. C'mon, killer," he jeered Oliver on with a backwards glance as his right eye locked onto his face, "let's go have some fun, gehehehe!"

Hyōryū smiled, looking back at Anton in a almost thankful gesture to this newcomer. Inadvertently, he just came and got rid of a big pain in the ass for all three of them, and she would make sure to treat him to some sort of sake or liquor she had in her secret stash.

Shadō waved to Oliver as he would be leaving, "Good luck. Try not to hurt yourself too much."

Sakura couldn't contain herself as she let loose a series of giggles after squealing with laughter as she was assaulted by a series of tickles. She began to really like the playfullness in this boy, and he wasn't half bad looking in Sakura's mind. Which all the reason made her bolder as she tried to tickle him back with her own deft, skilled hands as she found the pressure points and ticklish spots on his own body, as she has spent many a time tickling her own sibblings before duty demanded her maturity. She couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed herself more thoroughly. She almost felt like she was home...

"Nooo~!!!"

Her experienced movements made him fall back immediately, any defense or attempt to fight back made useless. It was his turn to start laughing and squirming, her knowledge of the human anatomy making it impossible to run away. However, he still was having fun nonetheless. It was more enjoyable if everyone joined in, after all.

Sakura giggled in a childish tormentor voice, "Neverrrrrr~!" She continued to tickling him all over, intentionally hitting a few pleasure spots she knew of, mixing in the giggles with potentially good feeling massage spots, slowly but surely turning her barrage of tickling into a slow-descending expert massage, as she unintentionally admired his body to the extent of wanting to untie all the knots within his muscles and tendons.

Settling the score, Intimate ventures and bleeding rivalries

Oliver didn't hesitate to follow, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking out of the room with him.

Yajū began walking, using his inhuman senses to guide him like a compass, even though it looked so decieving as if he already knew where he wanted to go. His height, while rather being intimidating in of itself, his scythe's handle length is shown to be at least one and a half heads higher when held vertically, with the arced jagged blade being nearly as long as nearly a whole man's average height. His rippled muscles and various scars sported along his body showed that he had fought many battles, losing some while winning others, all told a tale of various conflicts he sought out or had encountered him. All in all, if Yajū lacked any actual power, his body told he had physical power at least to back it up.

As nearly five minutes of walking went by, the hostility and tension was so high that any sudden movement made by Yajū or the other man would almost trigger a instaneous sign of aggression and ignite a battle. However, Yajū made a immediate left, sending them down a dark corridor that led down stairs which slowly wound down almost like a castle's basement stairway. Once nearly fifty meters underground, Yajū entered a large expansive arena of sorts, with a dome like appearance. The entire area had sound-dampening plates on floors, walls, and even the ceiling, giving it a blue-tinted metalic appearance, built with high density to take outstanding punishment from any number of situations.

It was here, where Yajū stopped at the edge of the observer's deck, where the large ring-balcony was far above a 20 meter drop-off towards the metalic flooring below where he contenders would duke it out.

"Gota hand it to Beta to make a substantial headquarters. They practically built something for everyone, even for war-dogs like us," Yajū said in his continuous guttural tone, turning his back around to fully face Oliver, "so...how do you want to settle this like the men we are? A contest of endurance, fighting with our fists and flesh? Or, shall we compare skills and cut loose, with your choice of arsenal against mine? Shall we blind fold each other and see if we can fight without sight? C'mon, make your call, I'll be happy to oblige you with anything within reason, chump."

"Get rid of that scythe. We're fightin' barebones."

To emphasize, Oliver rolled up his sleeves and cracked the knuckles on each of his hands. His eyes were narrowed, and he had a toothy grin on his face as he stood where he was. "It's about time I saw someone allow themselves to fall back on the more primal skills of the trade." He sneered, cracking his neck once more for good measure.

Slowly, but surely, Yusuke's laughs fell silent, a surprised "ooo" coming from his lips when she switched methods. He found a smirk crawling onto his face, resisting the urge to chuckle. Somehow, he got the feeling that he had manipulated her into doing this. It was cute and funny at the same time. But, unlike anyone else, he could easily roll with the situation.

Immediately, he allowed himself to roll so that he was lying on his stomach in order to make it easier for her. "Maybe Boss Lady would decide that you'd be a pretty good massage therapist..." He said lightly and jokingly. "Ever think of that?"

Her childish hums declared no illicit intent in her kneadings and proddings, smoothly and effectively her hands across his body, admiring how silky he felt even through his clothes and his body possessed hardly any knots that she would have expected from other people she massaged. She giggled at the mention of being a massage therapist, purring as she said, "I might've thought about it. Would you want me to massage you muscle worn, battle weary mercenaries as a way of earning my keep?"

Yajū chuckled gutturally, slamming the pommel of his scythe into a vertical position that slightly ajarred the floor. The show of strength itself showed he had no intention of being afraid of a tomcat who knew some moves as he stood upright, not even bothering getting into a fighting stance of sorts. He raised both his hands in a "c'mon at me" stance, emphasizing on him striking first, "C'mon now, let's see if you got the balls the back up your game speech!"

"...sounding just like your leader all ready..."

With the annoyed statement, Oliver threw himself at his opponent with a fist cocked back and swung in a direct punch towards his face. It was a starting punch, nothing too flashy. After all, the first blow would actually mean something - an exploitation of defense and a glimpse of how the combatants fought. But he made sure to hold nothing back - it was pointless to, in his opinion.

A satisfied coo came from Yusuke's lips, and he relaxed under her hold. "Well, would you want to?" He questioned back. "I'm a positive recipient, but I'm not sure about the rough-rider people of V-14."

"What are you talking about...?" Yajū asked with an amused grin, his low grating tone becoming common with him even as Oliver rushed to throw a punch at him. As his punch moved to intercept his face, he had a crazy idea come into mind that he knew would shake his compatriot up good. Moving his head back like he was attempting to backpedal and dodge the punch, he reared his head before pointedly...headbutting into his fist with his forehead, using enough finesse to lighten the punch against his skin while using sheer force to butt away the fist, "the fact of the matter is...I'm only third strongest of Omega Team! My leader makes me look like a child when it comes to battle, and its something she showed me first hand, so don't get any ideas on judging people just because they might be bitchy or pushy, got that?!"

Sakura giggled, grating up and down his spine with her finger tips as she began to play her fingers delicately along his backside, "I dunno...I'm pretty sure they'd appreciate a good downtime massage to relieve some of the stress from their rigorous work. I'm pretty sure I can handle myself if they decide to try to get rough with me, hehe!"

"As I noticed..." Yusuke shivered slightly at her tough, but kept his small smile. "And speaking of other V-14 members... maybe you could get along with Rika, as well. She's actually the only V-14 member who doesn't fight at all. Asuka chose her for her intelligence and tact more than anything else. Other than me, she's probably the only one out of all of us who's mostly nice and not mean."

All Oliver had to do was switch fists.

When his first one was forced back...

...his other fist came forward.

A swift uppercut forced Yajū's head upwards, the force disorienting. Then, Oliver followed up with a heel kick to the diaphragm, booting him away with immense force. If it was one thing he learned, it was not to speak in the midst of combat. Everything could be said before our after. But pre-liner boasts would only finish the fight faster for the one not speaking. He would say what he had to after one or the other was beaten down.

But for now, it was all action.

Yajū admired Oliver's one-minded set for battle, not even phased at all by his jeering and the unorthodox use of his head against his fist. Yajū decided to return in kind as he moved his feet in kind, his large muscular body surprisingly graceful in movements as the fist moved upwards while grazing the skin with the intensity of the force used by Oliver. As the foot moved to kick his chest, he grappled it by putting it in front of the designated target, absorbing the force in the palm of his hand, allowing him to pivot his enemy as he saw fit.

"Heeraaaah!" With a yell, he rotated Oliver's body clockwise before preforming a spinning roundhouse kick to his back, intending on sending him over the edge of the railing and off the drop-off into the fighting pit below.

A grunt escaped the blonde man's lips when the kick connected, and he found himself falling off of the ring-balcony and into the 20-meter drop. The wind blew all around him as he descended, his eyes shut briefly out of instinct. It was rather useless to keep any sort of fighting stance prolonged while in the air, even if he was falling to the ground. He would just have to wait until he descended to the bottom.

He shifted his gaze to the shrinking ring-balcony, waiting for his opponent to come down to him.

Sakura smiled, switching to rotating her palms on his shoulder blades, sending soothing sensations down Yusuke's back as she answered him, "She sounds like we would get along nicely. How did she end up in V-14 if she's so quiet and withdrawn?"

Yajū didn't hesitate to follow his prey.

Yajū leapt onto the metal railing with both feet, crouching on it while peering down at Oliver's falling form, like a hawk peering at its target. Then, with a feral grin and a leap, a cackling Yajū sped down towards Oliver's descending body, his own vertically inclined as he caught up with Oliver within seconds. With a laugh, Yajū twisted himself in the air as he grew close to the ground and landed deftly on all fours onto the metalic dampening floorplates, only a mere few meters from Oliver's falling form.

"Sorry...did I hurt you, princess? Hahahaha!" Yajū jeered as he cracked his knuckles, before rushing towards him and swinging with fast, furious punches towards him, not leaving any moment to recover, regardless of his condition when he landed. The force would be recognizeable to that of someone who trains excessively with his body, the honed strikes leaving nothing to spare and would leave any normal soldier breathless from each impact.

As Oliver allowed himself to perform a flip and land on the ground, he found himself having to defend right away as Yajū rushed him. The assault was quick and feral, but clearly experienced. The blonde man found himself having to retreat for a moment as his opponent attacked with ferocity. However, he knew just what to do. Instead of outright blocking, he instead employed elbow blocking and parrying in order to use his momentum against him. All the meanwhile, he was unleashing his own swift punches towards the temporary open spots that he would leave open while he attacked. Truly, it was a game of hand-to-hand.

"Well...the truth is..." Yusuke shrugged lightly, careful not to disrupt her patterns. "I really am not sure, considering how shy she is. You'd have to ask her that yourself."

Yajū howled with feral laughter and joy as he felt the punches make contact as well as being delivered by his opponent. Despite Oliver's appearance, he was quick and swift in his actions, not waiting for any chances or just staring, but taking initiative. Truly, Yajū began reveling hand-to-hand combat once again as he felt himself spew blood and spit from his mouth, before he returned in earnest, side-stepping and throwing a few swift, incredibly powered kicks before vaulting over him and swung around to elbow thrust into his head or back. It seemed he changed tactics from plain brawling to swift dancing type of fighting style, matching Oliver's swift and precise art of combat with his own.

Sakura then rolled her hands down his back, kneading his waistline with smooth circles before humming in thought, "Well...I guess I should do that. If, you'd allow her to visit me, that is."

"Hm? Oh, right, I'm supposed to be watching over you. Sorry, I forgot that for a moment..."

Chuckling a little, Yusuke allowed himself to pull up, sliding off the bed and away from her fingers as he got off. "C'mon. By now, she probably went up to her own room in order to get away from all the noise." He said lightly, making his way around the bed. "I know just where that is..."

The punches were easily avoidable...

But the vault caught Oliver off-guard.

The bone of his elbow struck the back of his head, and his vision shook viciously upon contact. He instinctively staggered forward, but managed to twist around and regain himself quickly. A coy smirk of his own was made out of his lips, and he blinked a few times to make the mild disorientation stop. It made it all the more clear that he was enjoying this fight as much as his opponent was.

Yajū grinned as he rushed him once more, switching tactics again as he leaped forward to Oliver's left before propping his hands to twist him with incredible momentum, swinging his long legs out with precise kicks towards his sternum, chin, and shoulders. Adrenaline flowed through his body as the thrill of the fight bore into his mind and into his body. He became glad that despite the hot shot talk from Oliver was enjoying it too, instead of being a piss-ant, he was enjoying the fight. He became to start liking this man...

Sakura smiled sweetly, following him off the bed, walking calmly behind him with her hands held behind her. She became slightly excited to meet another sweet person in V-14. She thought at first all of them were just brutish, gruff, and loud mercenaries who had hardly any care of what their actions brought them or others. But now, seeing people like Yusuke and now this Rika being able to be themselves while having warmth within their hearts, gave her hope that these mercenaries weren't completely wrong. It made her wonder that up until now, that had V-14 actually done anything wrong to the Soul Society by preforming necessary evils to keep the Underworld from leaking into the light of day and reaping profits for their services. For now, all she could do was wonder.

It didn't take long for them to reach the room where Rika was.

Yusuke, naturally, was the first one to come to the door. He raised his fist, knocking on the door for a total of seven times. Then, he moved that hand behind his back and patiently waited. It only took several seconds for a quiet, hesitant voice to be heard from behind the door.

"Y-yusuke? Is that you?"

"Eeyup! Hope you don't mind me bringing company. And no, it's not any of the hot-heads."

After a short moment of silence, the door finally opened to reveal the girl's form. Instead of the dress she had been wearing moments before, she was now wearing a tank top with blue-jean shorts - an obviously more casual change from the getup she had previously. It showed off a rather slim and feminine figure; not an eye-full, but somewhat of an eye-grabber for other people to see. Her purple eyes looked over to her two occupants.

They widened, and she took a step back in alarm when she realized that their prisoner was standing in front of them. "Ah--!!"

"Hey, easy!" Yusuke quickly cut her off before she could panic. "She's actually real nice once you get to know her. If she was a meanie, I wouldn't have bothered to let her see you. I promise she won't bite..." A sweatdrop came down the back of his head. "...much."

Rika regarded Sakura for a few moments more, before finally relenting and allowing the two to step into her room. The hesitation she felt was still there, however mild it may have been.

Sakura smiled at the young girl, regarding her feminity and appearance. She was quite beautiful, even though she wasn't wearing anything outlandisly stylish her looks came through the undertone of her natural beauty. Sakura had a slight bit of awe for her to possess such rare elegance.

Sakura came in with Yusuke before turning to Rika, bowing her head respectfully and smiling, "Hello there, Rika. My name is Sakura. Its a pleasure to meet you."

As Rika gently pushed the door shut, she turned towards the one who addressed her. Her arms were folded behind her back, and locks of her hair fell to cover one side of her face. She regressed from alarm to shyness, trying to hide as best as she could while still in plain sight. "It's...very nice to meet you..." She mumbled.

"Hey, its okay," Sakura said, tentatively reaching out with her hands and rubbing in a soothing manner over the top of her head and shoulders, "you don't need to say anything if you don't want to. Take it at your own pace, I'm not here to pry after all."

Upon the initial touch, Rika instinctively flinched. Yusuke may have been adjusting to it, but to her, such contact was considered invasive of her personal space. She squirmed a little, turning away even more from Sakura. "W-well... all right..." She said softly, her voice a little louder than before. "But... could you please stop touching me? It's... kind of uncomfortable..."

"Oh!" Sakura said, retracting her hands carefully so as not to frighten the girl, while she bowed her head apologetically, "I didn't mean to offend or make you uncomfortable. Please forgive me!" She flailed her arms briefly in a comical manner while squinting her eyes in a semi-panicked mode.

The sudden move from heartwarming to startled also surprised Rika as well.

She jumped back a little, letting out a startled yelp at Sakura's antics. "Y-yes, I-I forgive you!!" She blurted out, unable to stop and process what she was actually speaking. It was the first thing that came out in order to make the other girl stop and calm down.

On the sidelines and sitting on her bed, Yusuke was grinning from ear to ear. "See? You both are getting along already!" He exclaimed.

Sakura suddenly reverted from her antics, blinking slightly before smiling at Yusuke and back to Rika, "I guess we are, hahaha! By the way," Sakura grinned playfully as she wiggled her fingers in front of herself, "if you ever need a pleasurable way to relax, I can always assist. Yusuke can vouch for me, that I'm a good massager."

A slow grin crossed Yusuke's face, and he nodded in approval as he worked out his shoulders a little. "Eeyup! I don't think I could feel my shoulders after you were done." He joked, looking over to Rika. "Maybe you could give her a try, Rika!" His grin grew even wider when he saw her blush even more, and she instinctively covered her face with her hands.

"Y-yusuke!!" She squeaked. "W-when you say it like that..!!"

Sakura cooed softly as she rubbed her hands together and maintained her distance, "I promise I'll be gentle, Rika...trust me, you'll love how you'll feel once I'm through with you."

Elsewhere...

Beep, bip, beep, bop, beep, bip, beep, bop!

A ringtone indicating another call by Enrico to Angelika rang in the air, disrupting whatever peace and quiet Angelika had in her vicinity.

And Angelika, polite and mild-mannered as she was, was never a happy camper when her peace was disrupted.

She let out an annoyed growl, reaching into her coat pocket in order to grab the cell phone. She would seriously have to find another ring-tone that was less annoying than her current one. At this point in time, a gun to the head of the ones that created this tone seemed more appealing to her than any other option.

"Heilige Scheiße..." She swore, flipping the phone open and pressing the talk button before placing it to her ear. "Yes, Enricho?"

"Angelika! Glad to hear that you are safe and sound!...Ah...," there was slight trepidation, as the long-standing partnership, despite it always being long-ranged, Enrico began to develop a sense of knowing tell-tale signs of Angelika's moods. This wasn't an exception, "did I interrupt something, señora?"

"No. I just hate my ring-tone." Angelika said bluntly. "I don't know why I haven't bothered to change the lousy thing. But I'm going to stop before I start ranting about such a trivial thing..." She shifted one leg over the other, her tone taking on a firm and business-like manner. "What do you have for me, Enricho?"

"Yes, yes I do. I have a particular client who needs your services...though its not directly involving your buisness within the Seireitei or Rukonagi however. Its in Tendan, as in the dark neighbour city-society to Yūrei Ōkouku. They need a particular rival of theirs dispatched, but its free to negotiation in how you do this. He's willing to meet up with you in a cantina in the Southwest Rukon District within two hours, señora," he said, having slight trepidation when speaking of the notorious dark society that is only a few kilometers away from Yūrei's borders.

Angelika nodded, closing her lone eye. "Did you get the names of the target and the informant that's going to meet up with me?" She questioned.

"His name is Rai Xanxus, a new hotshot with promise in moving to the top in Tendan as one of the most lucurative and successful buisnessmen as well as one of the most bold underworld investors. I didn't get the name of the target but I wouldn't be surprised if it was another corporation or its affiliations. Underworld gang wars and corporation takeovers are nearly one in the same in Tendan, so this guy is probably staking out to get a step up in the society and bolster his own corp," Enrico informed Angelika with assurance and confidence, briefly taking a smoke with every sentence here and there.

"Understood..." Angelika answered smoothly. "I'll have the team up and ready for travel. We'll be there within the half-hour."

"Thank you, Angelika. I'll let him know you'll be arriving to meet him at the designated meeting spot. Talk you later, señora," and with that Enrico cut his connection from the phone with a distinct "c-click".

"Who exactly will you be bringing along?" Asuka inquired, a hand placed to her mouth in thought as she watched Angelika click the phone shut and slide it back into her coat. "Considering that both the Inner Circle and Soul Society are hot on our heels, I don't think we'll be able to slip everyone through the radar."

"Since the majority of my troops are busy, I'll have to borrow one yours for this particular mission..." The German said coolly, folding her hands in her lap. "I'll need Rika. From what you've told me already, her intellect as well as her other skills will serve necessary in the event that we encounter unexpected resistance... whether it be something other than physical combat. But for direct resistance... I'll have to ask Frau Komori for her two particular teammates..."

Slowly, she stood up, straightening herself. "I'll go find her and tell her what's going on." She said, turning and walking away. "In the meantime, could you go and inform Rika?"

"Of course, Angel-chan." Asuka answered, a smile on her face as she allowed herself to stand up as well.

Speaking of Rika...

She currently was under the willing touches of Sakura's expertise within producing pleasure through her tactile movements. At first, it almost seemed impossible to get even within arm's reach without startling the poor girl, but now, Sakura had managed to sway her to at least give it a try. Currently, Sakura was leaning her hands into the girl's lithe shoulders, rubbing her thumbs methodically over her muscle as her fingers squeezed and relaxed her shoulders indefinitely. Humming a thoughtful tune, Sakura could only ask, "I see you're liking this, yes, Rika-chan?"

"Mmmm..."

The only response was a soft coo of agreement from Rika. She was laying on her stomach on her bed exactly as Yusuke had done, the side of her head resting on her arms. The blush was still on her face as Sakura worked her magic, and her heart was still beating in a quick manner. However, her body had fallen into complete submission, and she was clearly enjoying what she was recieving.

Yusuke was now sitting on the floor, playing with what apparently was a laptop. He glanced over, an amused smile on his face as he watched. "Wow..." He commented. "Keep it up, and I think you're gonna turn her into mush!"

"Hehe!~" Sakura giggled at the comment, as she spreaded her hands down her spine and kneaded opposite sides with the balls of her hands, lightly scratching with her fingers as she did so, "I'm glad she likes it. She's unbelievably tense. Probably from working so hard and not getting enough free time. Poor thing..."

That made Yusuke snicker a little. "Just like our little nerd..."

"S...stop talking... about me like I'm not here..." Rika whined. But her protesting tone was nullified due to the effectiveness of her worker, a shiver running down her spine at the touch. He might have been right about one thing though; if she kept it up, Rika feared she wouldn't ever been able to get up from the bed!

"Oh, my apologies, Rika-chan," Sakura said in a coy, innocent voice despite wearing a michivious grin as she winked to Yusuke as she employed another few strokes of her hands along her back alongside her waist and back up, "did you say something?"

"Mmmm..." Sakura's moves promptly shut the shy girl up, earning another light moan from her. It made her face redden a bit more, considering that the woman's hands were dangerously close to her posterior. If she had the strength to move, she would have immediately jolted away like a startled cat. But she knew she was helpless, even in the case that Sakura dared to go that far.

Then...

"If I didn't know any better..." Asuka's amused voice said. "It would seem as if you're doing something dirty to Rika-chan, darling."

"Oh!" Sakura looked up promptly to Asuka's direction, before putting on a nervous smile, knowing she was in a precarious position being out of her room, "umm...hello there. I don't believe we met...I'm Sakura. Nice to meet you," she did however did not stop massaging Rika, mostly because her hands now had a mind of their own.

Asuka allowed herself to take a look over the situation, remaining silent as she did so. On the floor, a grinning Yusuke was sitting in front of what was Rika's laptop. On the bed lay Rika, promptly getting a massage courtesy of the prisoner. She almost laughed. It seemed that Sakura was getting acquainted with everyone rather quickly. Rika, in particular, seemed to be enjoying her company the most.

"I'm Asuka." She introduced herself, giving a nod. "And, despite the help you've been giving already, I'm afraid I need to borrow Rika-chan for a while. She's been called to a mission."

That caused Rika's head to jolt up, despite her plushed face. She couldn't move, considering Sakura was sitting on her legs. However, it was a clear sign that she was ready to get up... if her "therapist" got the message.

"Oh! But of course," Sakura took the hint as she unstraddled herself from her occupant's legs, "is it dangerous? Will she be in any harm's way? Where is she going?" She rambled on in a very obvious worried tone, while she twiddled her hands around in a habitual show of nervousness in front of strangers.

As Rika slowly maneuvered herself off of the bed and into a standing position, she folded her arms behind her back, falling back into her shy and regressive state once more. The intoxicated blush had faded from her face, and she felt mildly relieved that she wasn't being touched anymore. Most of her, however, was disappointed for having been interrupted.

"I won't lie to you..." Asuka's voice and face took on a slightly serious expression. "It will be dangerous. But that's why Angel-chan's speaking to Mōka-san in order for backup. Rika will be in safe hands, Sakura-san."

Sakura smiled, sighing with some relief as she rested onto a Indian style seating, resting her hands on her lap, "Thank you. She's so sweet and nice, I'd hate to hear anything bad happens to her while she's away..."

"Don't worry..." Asuka gave a reassuring smile, happy that a supposed stranger had already fallen victim to Rika's warm-hearted nature. "She'll be back before both of you know it. Now..." She nodded her head to the side. "C'mon, Rika-chan. I'll tell you all about it on the way."

"Yes, ma'am..." Rika said softly, quickly following Asuka as she stepped out the door once again.

"Have fun, you two!" Yusuke supported, giving a wave of his hand.

"Goodbye!" She said as she waved back to the two before they disappeard. Within a few moments, she sighed, falling flat on her stomach on the bed, kicking restlessly, "will she really be okay, Yusuke?"

"Of course!"

Promptly, Yusuke shut the laptop and walked over to her, giving a small hop in order to plop himself on Sakura. Their bodies made a cross, with Yusuke's stomach laying on hers. He placed his hands on his chin, the elbows resting on his bed. "V-14 does really good when it comes to protecting its members. She's been in situations like this before, and she knows what to do." He assured her, a thoughtful expression on his face. "We don't have to worry."

Sakura giggled before a slight "oof" was made when Yusuke's limber form landed ontop of her belly as their bodies crossed on the bed. She leaned back on the pillows, flopping her arms back on either side, as a equally thoughtful expression crossed her own, before a soft smile crossed her face, "She'll be fine then, if any of V-14 is as half compassionate to each other as you are..."

Mission Debrief, Team Alpha-Beta-Omega!

Awaiting Rika and Asuka, two of Omega Team's finest flanked either side of Angelika. A slightly battered, but grinning Yajū as well as a pleasantly confident Shito, whom simply smiled and bowed to Rika and Asuka as they approached, "I see you've managed to get her without a fuss. Its a pleasure to meet you, I'm Shito."

Yajū looked at Rika briefly before turning his head back to Asuka, then at Angelika in query, "You sure this girl will be fine if we're caught in a crossfire situation? She seems kinda...fragile, if you know what I mean."

"I entrust her safety to the ones who will be going on this mission." Asuka said simply, giving a respectful bow. "She is intelligent enough to know what she has to do when she's caught in such situations. But I hope that you will bring her back intact. She is a valuable asset to my group, after all..."

Raising a hand to initiate a thumb's up to Asuka, Shito said with a bright confident smile and squinted eyes, "Don't worry, Asuka-sama. We will protect her as if she's our own!."

Yajū looked at Shito strangely, asking in a confused tone, "Since when do you we look after each other's asses? Isn't it you who's too caught up with your shtick that we have to save your sorry ass?"

"Ehehe...no I think you have me confused with someone else," Shito laughed sheepishly, waving it offhandedly as if it wasn't something to be concerned about.

"These will be the two that will be coming with me." Angelika explained, her hands in her coat pockets. "Although I tended to disagree considering the earlier scuffle her subordinate had with mine, he's sure that he's still prepared to go. I took his word for it."

"And Oliver...?" Asuka questioned, tilting her head to the side.

"He's pretty much in the same condition, but fine nonetheless. However, all I'll need is three. The rest can stay and make sure that the puppy doesn't escape."

Shito said reassuringly to Angelika, "I'm pretty sure it was just a little male bonding that Yajū likes to do with the new guys he meets, that's all."

"Tch, damn straight! That Oliver doesn't slack for being just renouned as a marksman," Yajū spat some blood to the side before grinning bestially, "one of the most fun bare knuckle fights I've had in awhile. Too bad his boss had to interrupt it...I'm pretty sure we were about to break something interesting, gehehe!"

Shito sighed, looking to Rika, and Yajū before looking to Angelika, "Will we be debriefed on the way? I'd like to know who exactly I'm employed with since this is my first mission outside of Mōka Komori's command."

"Of course..."

With that being said, Angelika gave a brief nod to her former mentor before walking off, motioning for her three team members to follow her. They would be walking in the direction of the garage. "We'll be on a mission to eliminate a target, a rival to a potential big underworld businessmen, from what I can tell. Our client is waiting for us at a cantina in the Southwestern Rukongai District for further information."

"Perhaps he's playing it safe," Shito surmised as he wrapped a hand around his chin thoughtfully, "the information he may possess could be sensitive and if this particular rival finds out he's hiring us to take him out, he may try to get to him first, or be more prepared than we can anticipate."

"Don't matter much if they're prepared or unprepared. We'll take them out one way or the other," Yajū said with a grin, making it sound like the job is already finished with in his mind.

"Herr Nakamura."

Rika's eyes abruptly snapped up from her nervous gaze and to attention - almost as if she was a soldier being called out by her leader... which wasn't too far from the truth, really.

"Asuka told me that you were skilled at negotiation as well as speaking other languages. If we happen to run into any communication blockades or misunderstandings, I trust that you'll take part in clearing anything up." The German woman said briskly, her tone slightly sharp. "I'm not interested in carrying around baggage." That made it perfectly clear already what Angelika thought of Rika, and she knew it. That made her flinch slightly, before her expression sunk into a downtrodden one.

"Y...yes, ma'am...."

"Hey now, Angelika-san," Shito held up a hand in a peaceful manner, smiling warmly as a sign of peacekeeping, "I think if Asuka-san thought she'd be a burden, she wouldn't let her tag along with us, right?"

"Little twerp better not get in my way," Yajū looked down with a glare, sligthly sneering at her, "I don't want to add her body to the count of actual enemies I need bloodying on my blade."

At this point, Rika was starting to regret the fact that she had been picked for this mission.

Though she was unsure what Angelika was truly thinking (considering her leader-like nature), she shrank back under the glare that Yajū was giving her. It was just another reason why she mostly stayed to herself. She was never accustomed being near any of the rougher V-14 members, and the man beside her just proved that particular point. At this point, she wished Yusuke could've came with her just to keep the harsh words away.

"I trust my master's judgement in her abilities..." Angelika said simply, not turning to look at Shito. "I am just letting her know what I expect of her, that is all."

Shito nodded expectantly, looking to Rika he gave a slight sigh. Reaching out with a hand, he stroked her head reassuringly even as they walked, saying encouragingly, "Don't worry about him, Rika-san. I'm sure you'll help us when it counts most."

Yajū just tsked, looking onward as he walked in stride on Angelika's side, his scythe lightly clicking on his back and occassionally tapping the ground as they moved to the garage.

Rika would've muttered out a meek "thank you" at best if not for the hand that had pressed itself against her forehead. She shut her eyes and flinched a little, clearly disliking the touch. But she couldn't bring herself to say anything towards him. Out of mission circumstances where she had to speak, she just couldn't bring herself to do so in this situation.

Thankfully, she didn't have to endure it long.

Angelika reached the doors of the garage, pushing them aside and stepping inside, the space just enough for the vehicle of choice to fit inside. However, it wasn't that of a motor vehicle... but rather, that of a Dragonbird which was currently asleep. "Because ground transportation is out of the question for obvious reasons, we'll be taking this creature instead..." Angelika explained, moving over towards its head and crouching beside it.

Shito's hand retracted immediately when he saw the formidably sized arian creature. His mouth gaped open and his eyes bulged out of his head as he comically pointed out, "Th-Th-That's a Dragonbird! How did you...where did you...get it from?!"

Yajū smiled saying aloud with a satisfied grin, approaching the creature with confidence and experience, "A noble beast. I hear these things can spray about as much firepower as a squad armed with the latest Kido gun tech. Too bad we're not heading into battle with this guy."

As Angelika tapped the creature's head a few times in order to make it stir, Rika allowed herself to blush. However, this time, she allowed a small smile to cross her face. "I... I had found it on a previous mission... it had broken its wing and had been left behind by its owners, so with some help from Shinji and Yusuke, I brought it here and managed to convince Asuka to let it stay..."

"So this is your pet?" Angelika questioned, showing a hint of actually being impressed.

Rika nodded silently.

"I see... for you to be able to tame such a beast and keep it as your own, you must have excellent skills with dangerous animals." An appreciative smile, although small, crossed the German's face. "Very well. Get on and I'll tell you the exact coordinates of where we need to go."

"Y-yes, ma'am...."

Shito's eyes followed Rika, a new sense of admiration dawned on him as he realized that not all skills required you to punch through walls or fight with a sword. She was truly impressive if she was able to tame a Dragonbird as her own, and to use its impressive aerodynamic skills to the use of her team. "Amazing," Shito said with a smile, heafting himself behind Rika with a agile jump, making sure to land not too roughly on the beast for fear of startling it, "to think these things could be domesticated outside of the Yūrei Police Force...it must take great patience and empathy to care for such a thing without angering or frightening it."

"Yeah yeah, enough of the poetry, Shito," Yajū said as he climbed onto the back of the avian creature, sitting at the farthest back as he could manage, "let's just get this guy moving so we can complete our mission."

When Angelika moved to sit in between the two males, Rika took in a deep breath before focusing on the bird. She started clicking her tongue in a rhythmic and unique pattern, the message brief but clear to the bird. It let out a light growl, spreading its wings out and flapping them in order to get off of the ground. As if on cue, the ceiling slid into the walls in order to reveal the sky.

WOOSH!

Within an instant, the bird was off, flying high into the sky and towards its destination with a considerable speed. The riders, however, could find it naturally easy to keep their positions on the bird even as it flew.

"Yeeeeeaaaaah!" Yajū let out a whooping holler without a care, his gray mane of hair flopped around his head as he let out his tongue in almost bestial enjoyment, "this is one of the few modes of transporation I really enjoy! Hahaha!"

"Whoa!" Shito gulped, admiring the steadiness involved with the avian creature's flight, and saw how quickly it could take off. Looking down at the ground, he saw the Soul Society far below them, almost like he was watching it from a geographical map, "this is fantastic! I've...never flown like this before!"

"So I assumed..." Angelika said, her lone eye gazing downward at the city below them. Although the wind rippled through her clothing and hair as much as the rest of them, she still maintained a near-stoic composure to it all. "Only Omega Team has access to this particular Dragonbird, so I wouldn't expect this to be common for you..."

"Omega Team has flown its fair share of beasts before," Yajū said with a smile, gutturally chuckling as he nodded towards Shito, "Shito's more of a ground dweller, afraid of heights and all without anyone he's confident in."

"Hey! That's not true," Shito said, looking back over his shoulder with a pouty scowl, "I never liked that...thing you suggest me riding and it bit me in the ass! Literally!"

"Yeah yeah, keep whining and you'll get drunk from your pitifullness," Yajū jeered, laughing back despite Shito's insistent scowl towards his gruff partner.

Infiltrate, Search and Destroy: Evil vs. Evil!

The cantina was a place of festivity.

The first thing that could be seen right off of the bat was the lighting, which gave the entire interior an orange color. It was set at the right hue and saturation as to not blind the eyes as well as provide a good visual attraction. There were plenty of people, the majority of them rough and harsh in appearance. They were talking, laughing, and even fighting occasionally with one another. Despite the cheery mood, Angelika had a slight scowl on her face as she looked around.

She didn't even want to know what was going on in the darker corners...

Yajū chuckled, stroking his chin with thought as he spoke fondly, "This place reminds me of the bars I used to hang around. Everyone clings to whatever semblence of lighting is to keep from being harassed or accused of hiding, while the others within the dark deal with..."legitimate" buisness and keep to themselves. With an extra pair of muscles here and there."

Shito's eyes immediately narrowed into near slits as he looked around, his body tensed and he immediately began sensing several above average spiritual pressures within the cantina itself, but somehow couldn't trace it as easily, "I think I feel them in here somewhere...Rai Xanxus at least, but he's got a couple of formidable muscles nearby him."

"Obviously, he was smart enough to have a few bodyguards with him..." Angelika muttered, shoving her hands in her pockets. "Lead the way to him. Frau Nakamura and I will handle the talking..."

She was a bit surprised when Rika quickly moved behind her, her hands grasping her shoulders. Glancing past her, she could see the girl was trying to make herself smaller in the face of so many people. Clearly, she did not like being around a social gathering such as this. Despite her intelligence, she didn't have much experience when it came to being around other people other than her teammates.

Shito lead the way, with Yajū covering their backs, as they skirted around the main lobby table and Shito used his senses alone to find their contact. While there were several drifting eyes from the entertainment, they quickly shut up when Yajū's imposing figure stepped in line with the others, and his menacing glare gave a perception of the intent to kill. Many of them went back to their drinks and conversations, leaving the V-14 band alone as they approached the darkest crevices of the cantina.

As they approached, dim lights from small lamps lit up the booths and tables that were being used here, with very few faces wanting to make eye contact with them, most of them either were more than they appeared or less than what they wanted to be. But beyond that, near the left corner of the cantina lied a brighter lamp with a bluish hue to it, contrary to the majority of the orange lighting near the majority of the cantina's customers and bar.

There a slightly illuminated figure reclined against a slightly faded, plush couch, wearing a suit jacket and hat, while vaguely displaying two shoulder holsters where obvious firearms would be in store. He was smoking a thick cigar, which displayed a visible hue of smoke around his area, ignored completely by the attentive and large guards he had.

Two of them easily matched Yajū's size, while the other, who appeared to be the spokesperson of the three guards was about Rika's height, while still maintaining a burly appearance and well armed visage. He held up a hand to them, his scarred eye hidden by an eyepatch twitched as his other eye looked at each of them with a critical gaze. He then spoke aloud, "You here to speak to boss Xanxus?"

Angelika gave a silent nod, the single gesture as well as the way she portrayed it enough to let them know who exactly who they were.

The guard nodded, looking to the two opposing men who went opposite directions, securing positions outside of the booth to ensure security is assured. The guard then skirted out of the way, leaning against the far end of the booth as he observed them approach.

Rai Xanxus seemed to also possess a pair of round-lensed, crimson dyed glasses, now reflecting the contrary blue color in a mesmerizing light. He took a long swig from his cigar before dousing it onto the ash tray in front of his table, reclining once more in order to vagule show his firearms while also relaxing in front of his new hired help. "So," he said with a youthful voice, surprising for someone who took in such debaucherous pleasures, "I'm glad you accepted my invitation. I'll be glad to inform you that the mission will pay you handsomely as well as ensure no backfire from any sort of trouble after this. I'm pretty certain you want to know who's invovled in my hit list that I want you to knock off, yes?" He finished with a show of white teeth, with an unnerving predatorial grin.

Peeking from behind Angelika, Rika allowed herself to take in everything she knew about the man. The predatorial grin, the calm and composed way he held himself in addressing them... it was all the markings of someone who clearly knew what he was doing. He didn't seem to give off the vibe of a coward in anyway, ruining any thought of being here just for self-preservation. If she took her guesses a step further, she could even assume that Rai thought nothing more of the target as a mere annoyance to him.... just as Yashin had thought the V-14 to be a mere annoyance. The presence of a firearm was enough to convey that he was capable of holding his own to some degree. He would certainly move up the ranks very quickly...

However, it was that very same composure that brought about the threat of deception.

She knew that this was where she came in. She would take in every word said, every action done, and all the details in order to keep her summary and theories as accurate as possible. It was the only way to ensure that this man wasn't leading them into a death-trap - something highly possible considering the circumstances. So, she moved from behind Angelika to stand by her, her eyebrows furrowed in a slightly stern stare at his direction in order to search out any lies. If he did lie, she would know.

"Obviously..." The German woman supplied coolly, her arms folded across her chest. "But more importantly, I would like to see the face of our target. Names are important, but not as important as the visual details."

The man smiled, pushing his glasses up as he leaned forward, offhandedly snapping his right hand's forefingers into a distinctive pitch. The man leaning next to the booth took a few steps before laying out a small disk-shaped projector, laying it down on the table before switching it on. A low hum was emitted before a blue holographic image came up, showing the target's name, weight, age, everything personal that wasn't unknown or classified. What stood out most, was the target's name...was Take Xanxus!

The German woman had to smirk a little as she looked at the display. So it wasn't just another business rivalry, but rather a family feud. The immediate assumption she had was that they were brothers, and considering the circumstances, it might've not been a far-off guess. "Interesting... any other things that we should know, particularly in how well he's protected?" She questioned.

"Very well protected," Rai said as he circled his right forefingers, continuing the display reel to show several different individuals tasked as SECURITY, "Shinshin Fūten is a legendary swordsmen bordering myth back at Tendan, as he had somehow had wandered into the city and had been hiring himself out as an assassin or mercenary. My father found him and found his talents...invaluable. Ever since then, Shinshin has been my father's head of security, right undherhand, as well as in charge of various other individuals who make up his...special task force known as, Dokueki." (どくえき dokuei ; Eng Lit Translation, "Venom.")

As he slid over several more slides with just a twirl of his hand, each of them bore no official mugshot but had various information listed on their skills and background, "Since they were never really part of my father's legitimate buisness, they were never really logged in officially into our records, so I can only give you what I know of them personally...unless you'd rather take the info with you for your own personal debriefing?"

Angelika lifted a hand to point a thumb to Rika, who was still giving that analyzing stare. "There is no need. I have one, if not two living recorders by my side. They can keep track better than any kind of notebook. So go on and speak of what you know."

Rai looked up at Rika while lowering his glasses a bit so his red irises caught sight of her stare. He narrowed his eyes slightly in acknowledgement that she was definitely special for her eyes seemed to be taking in every move, every twitch he created she read it all and catalouged it in her mind. He also took light of one of the silent men in the back, the one with the scars. His stare was also intent, while his arms were crossed and his voice silent, apparently a good tactician and cool head by Rai's standards.

"Alright then," he said as he shoved his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose, swirling his fingers again as he began naming off Dokueki's members.

"Dokueki should be your main concern, considering they are the strongest and the most dangerous of my father's arsenal. If Take ever had fangs that reached out from his head, that would be Dokueki.

The first member, is of course, Shinshin Fūten. His keen perception and intelligence is only a match for his combat aristry within swordsmanship, making him by far the deadliest of the group. Next is Shinshin's right hand man, Zaii Futō, the combat specialist. He's insanely strong within physical combat of all sorts, that includes marksmanship, hand-to-hand, and bladed weapons, one of which is practically longer than his whole body.

The next guy you should worry about is Sombra Vidente, also known as "the Void's Eyes" for his incredible perception and tactical skills, having been said to be almost as dangerous as Shinshin is able to nearly match him in swordsmanship and physical prowess just short of him, rumor even being he was originally the leader of Dokueki until something went south with a job and my father put someone else in charge.

The last of the group you should be careful is the zealous, former priest of the Tendan Monastary, Shōgō Kokubun Rankan. Before leaving for the urge to profit and learn all he could from the arts of destruction and binding from all around Tendan and beyond, making him a formidable spellcaster. He's probably the most unstable and unpredictable of the group, so be on your guard.

Other details being," he began scrolling down and then through several files, "is that my father is a very careful man. He initiates procedures to change codes and alarms in every room on the floor he's occupying, to keep from unknowns entering and leaving without his say-so. And when he does, he has tinted windows that refract light one-way while allowing him to see outside, making long-range assassinations nearly impossible, as well as the durable Kido barriers he has placed over his building from immediate kinetic strikes. His security team is well trained, and will respond to every threat, no matter how bizarre or extreme they appear, acting as one cohesive unit. They are decent in close quarters combat, armed with blunted weapons with shock-laced energy and have the latest black market Kido firearms at their disposal.

He also has quick transporation junctures within his building held at secret locations even I'm not aware of, allowing him to retreat to the safety room deep beneath the corporate building complex, to what he calls his safe haven, but it can easily be rigged for you to follow after him...not so easy to get back out, as the codes to leave through his private elevator are locked to his DNA encription, meaning you'd have to kill him or at least steal a portion of his body in order to get back out,"

Rai Xanxus snapped his fingers, causing the hologram to dissipate, and allowed his current short, burly subordinate retrieve it and stuff it back into his pockets. Splaying his arms back out as he reclined even more, he asked with a amused grin, "anything else you need, Herr Leader?"

Either he didn't think much of Germans, or he didn't think much of the V-14 leader, because the latter statement seemed more... mocking, than anything else. Both Angelika and Rika could pick this up right away, but showed no visible reaction to it.

"Only a location." Angelika said immediately, furrowing her eyebrows. "Unless, of course, the building he's in is a type of "all you have to do is look at it to tell you're at the right one" type of deal"..."

"Oh, that's right!" Rai Xanxus suddenly slapped a hand to his forehead, laughing before he laid a picture of the building the target was at before Angelika, "Tendan Dākusaido is filled with skyscrapers and monumentally sized buildings, most of them look nearly identical. This one, however, is completely sheen and clean looking, something you rarely see in a society like Tendan."

"Understood..." Angelika closed her eye and gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. "That will be all the information we'll need. After he is dealt with and if you wish for proof, I will be glad to have his head decapitated and brought directly to you. That way, you will be able to rest easier."

A sweat-drop came down Rika's face. "Since when did showing someone a decapitated head allow anyone to rest easier...?" She thought, hoping that it wouldn't have to come to that.

"I don't think that will be necessary," Rai Xanxus waved a hand dismissively at her and the group, smiling an almost knowing grin, "since V-14 has a infamous reputation of completing their contracts with excellent results, I don't think that its just myself that would need resting easier. My father's a relentless man, and he would take revenge upon you the moment you offer pity or grace. Just to let you know, my father...is actually more dangerous than all of Dokueki combined."

Shito's observant, analytical eyes widened at this revelation, whispering a, "What?!" to himself, while his taller, more feral companion just grinned with anticipation and excitement.

"We'll be the judge of that..."

With that being said, Angelika turned on her heel and walked away. "Come along, you three. We won't have far to go and long to take..." She said coolly, following this statement with a simple hand motion in order to emphasize. Rika, not too keen at keeping up her stern act for much longer, gave a brief bow to the man before turning around and following right after her leader.

"Oh, please say hello to dear old dad when you see him, won't you?! HAHAHAHA!" Rai asked in a knowing tone, before laughing in a vile, nigh victorious feeled laugh as it rang out within the darkness causing a few eyes to cast over before his spread out muscle made them think twice as the members of V-14 began to march out of the shadows and towards the exit of establishment.

"So what's your thoughts, Angelika-san?" Shito asked as they reached the exit, "direct combat could be very messy and could possibly allow the target to escape. Whereas it seems very precarious to sneak inside with all four of us included into the plan. Are we going to try to see if he moves outside his headquarters and take him out then, or try our luck with his headquarters?"

"Waiting for someone to come out of their hiding place when he's aware that people are out to take his life at any given moment would be like waiting for a rock to move on its own accord; pointless." Angelika stated bluntly. "He's going to stay where he knows he's safe, and that's the two places that Herr Xanxus supplied us with. In addition to that, there's only going to be one place he runs to first before he'll go anywhere else, and that's the safehouse located underneath. We're going to hit his HQ first - not only for him, but any potential information he could be hiding from his son as well as anyone else."

Yajū smiled widely, chuckling low in knowing as he cracked his knuckles in anticipation, "That'd be my cue. If I'm good at anything, its tantamountal destruction with precise accuracy worthy of a assassin and warrior of my caliber."

Shito had to smile slightly at knowing his friend's innate destructive prowess, before he looked over to Angelika as they exited the cantina, heading to their battle mount, "Should we call in more firepower? Its one thing to break into the building, but each of those subordinates of his will make it challenging for all of us to take on."

Angelika nodded. "Agreed. I'm not willing to risk getting outnumbered by opponents of high-level. The common security may be one thing, but the man's personal force is another."

"Wanna bring your sensei and that tough son-of-a-bitch, Oliver? Pretty sure we could use their skills to add to the plate," Yajū recommended immediately as they approached their resting avian transport, resting a hand over its mane-like feathers.

At the mention of Oliver, Angelika shook her head. "My team is too much of a security risk in order to perform missions outside of dealing with the Inner Circle." She stated firmly, frowning. "If I needed at least two more people, I would have to pick her as well as Yusuke. We might need him to heal more grievous injuries done to our fighters if anything goes too wrong..."

At the touch, the dragonbird perked its head up, turned its head to look over at Yajū, tilted its head to the side...

Nom.

...and promptly bit his arm. Not in the manner aiming to tear it off, but rather an annoying pinch (despite the beak being just as large as his arm was, if not larger).

Yajū growled at the bird, his eyes glaring at the bird's for making such a daring maneuver on him, his hand slowly snaking back to the scythe on his back, "Whatever you say boss...I now remember why I never rode shotgun with these critters. They're so full of themselves they'd bite and chomp at you if you get too close to it! Now let go, stupid!"

Shito sighed, holding his forehead as he shook it, "I don't think threatening it will cause it to want to release your arm, Yajū."

"If it doesn't I'll cut off its beak-!"

"-And get your arm possibly burnt to crisp or severed?" Shito asked interrupting his flow of thought, causing Yajū to retract his hand with an annoyed huff from his scythe, now tapping his feet on the ground.

"Girl," Yajū said, staring at her expectantly, "tell him to let go...please."

Needless to say, Rika had been giggling the whole time at Yajū's misfortune. However, she immediately stopped when the man fixed an expectant stare at her, a flush crossing her face. Immediately, she turned to the bird and let out a few clicks of the tongue. In response, the bird opened its mouth and turned away, acting like nothing happened.

Rika, despite herself, couldn't help but giggle a little again. "A...at least you can say that chicks dig you..." She joked, both of her hands covering her mouth in a vain attempt to hide her laughing smile.

Yajū growled out, before yelling at Rika solely, Shito himself couldn't help but snicker and laugh aloud as well, to the point of holding his chest, "That's not funny! Shut the hell up!"

"AHAHAHA, WHY?! So you can get back flirting with the chick you picked up-?!"

POW!

"That's why, bastard!" Yajū had effectively shut Shito up with a swift hammerhead strike to his head, causing him to fall to his knees and moan out in agony. Yajū didn't even bother giving Rika a glare or notice, as he reached to the rearmost portion of the bird and took his original seat, looking quite pissed and curt.

"Owwwww," Shito held his head, mildly glaring back at Yajū, "first Mōka-san...now you...this is getting old, ow ow ow!" He indicated as he held onto his head, mildly turning his head to Rika and winked at her before settling himself back to his original seated position on the bird, still having a hand clamped over his shaved head in emphasis of his pain.

Of course, Rika climbed onto the front seat, forcing her laughter back down as she focused on the bird. Angelika climbed up to her own seat, the only one not moved by Rika's joke... at least, not outwardly. Inwardly, she had gotten a kick out of it, Shito's addition to it, and the fact that the shy girl had gotten the nerve to crack it. Rika was proving her wrong little by little.

With a few more tongue clicks, the bird was flying off into the sky again.

"Should we bring additional equipment for the mission, Angelika-san?" Shito asked aloud, trying to forgoe the pain as well as the underlying fear of the heights the bird was taking them on, "like weapons or tools we might need when we encounter our targets?"

"Whatever's good for stealth will do." Angelika said specifically, her eye closed and her arms folded across her chest. "I won't specify what, considering we all operate by our own styles. On top of that, make sure you have something for backup in the case that we have to throw away our own cover - which will happen once and if we face the Dokueki members."

"If what that boy of Take's telling us is true, then fangs never stray too far from the maw of the predator," Yajū said as he looked down at the shrinked buildings as his gray mane hair and scarf fluttered in the wind, "we should be counting on the Dokueki waiting for an immediate attack. After all, if anyone actually DID succeed in breaking down the front door, they should welcome the guests barging in."

Shito nodded, cupping his chin as the pain dulled away from his skull, now more focused on the task to come, "Which means any of the guests visible enough will be targeted immediately. Sneaking past them will be difficult, considering a few of the members have keen intelligence and perception, so someone with the skills required in decieving them shoulder enter and proceed to allow a straight path to the main objective."

"That's only one option." Angelika said. "However, on the surface, fighting would most likely draw attention from outside sources - something I find hard to believe he would do just to get rid of intruders. There would be also the option of his Dokueki waiting within his safe haven instead in order to lessen chances of potential conflict attracting anyone else."

"Yeah," Yajū said, with a sudden grim tone as he looked back upwards, "we wouldn't want to attract him during our mission after all. That's just a one-sided battle in of itself."

Shito winced, reaching up and feeling his scars as if remembering a distant memory he wished long to be forgotten.

"Him?" Angelika quirked an eyebrow, tilting her head to the side at the subtle mention of what she could assume to be a stranger.

Yajū and Shito exchanged hesitant glances, both of them had serious, yet noncomital desire to share. They had a staredown that seemed to be eternal, though in reality was only thirty seconds. They decided without speaking there was only one way to solve this dilemma...

"Rock..."

"...Paper..."

"SCISSORS!"

With swift speech and outreaching hands, the two Omega men threw forward two hands, assuming a style fitting their prior descriptions, having still serious faces. Then, when they looked down at their hands, Shito sighed aloud while Yajū hooped and hollared in victory.

"Paper...again," Shito bowed his head with defeat, as Yajū proclaimed victory with his hands assuming scissors.

"Ahem!" After the scene of comical antics, Shito cleared his throat and turned his attention back to Angelika, crossing his arms over his chest as he began explaining with a question, "Tell me, Angelika-san. Have you ever wondered why city-societies of the present are so ahead in technology and philosophical views then the Soul Society of the Seireitei? Yūrei itself once held a colorful and grand civilization filled with old culture and proud heritage, a society of tradition. Can you give me your analysis how that changed?"

This did not suit well with Angelika. Obviously, neither of them wanted to say anything about him. But Shito was making it clear that he wanted to beat around the bush. That did not fit with the to-the-point businesswoman. It was one of her many pet peeves. But if she wanted answers, she would have to play his game for the time being.

She sighed heavily, closing her lone eye and furrowing her eyebrows. "The past is nothing of interest to me, someone who prefers to focus on the here and now." She said bluntly. "But if I had to give an answer, it would be a simple case of competition and domination. Society has had a history of warring and competing with one another, desiring to be at the top of the pyramid at any cost. Technological and mental advancements are merely a component of the result that such warring has made. Tradition has no place for those who focus primarily on surviving through to the very end of their lives..."

"Which is why he is a dying breed," Shito explained, realizing from the vague implications of her attitude and emotions underlying her tone that she didn't want a drawn out explanation, "his name is Ten Kenji, and he is believed to be the last and only one of his kind. He is what Tendan refers to as a Guardian. The Guardians basically acted as envoys for the departed souls of old and acted as the enforcers of justice and order, much like the Gotei 13, but instead were not tied directly as a form of government but more as a monastic group of individuals. They are incredibly powerful," Shito turning his face away from Angelika's gaze while showing off his fancy scar on his temple and cheek, "our Team found that out the hard way."

"...I see..."

Angelika opened her eye to study the scars for a moment before switching her gaze back to his. "Seems to me like they're nothing more than vigilante pests. It's fortunate that there is only one we might have to think about..." She said coolly.

"He's nearly on even grounds against multiple Captain-class opponents. Even I could sense his immense power, and if we continued to battle, well...we might've not been so lucky to meet you people," Yajū said grimly, almost disliking the idea of combating such a ferocious opponent again, which was strangely uncharacteristic of him.

"Its been ten years to the day, but we've gotten stronger since then, and we'll have you and Asuka-san there. I doubt he'll get a chance to know what hits him if he decides to interfere," Shito said with a confident grin and a thumbs up to Angelika.

"I hope so, Herr Shito..."

Angelika said nothing more afterwards, closing her lone eye once again. If worse came to worse, then she would have to allow herself to fight - and against an opponent that sounded so strong, drawing her sword would be necessary. It was something she personally dreaded of doing. Inwardly, she hoped that it would never come to that.

Hopefully, her former master could fill in that gap for her.

The War of Four: The Hunter and the Hunted, Act III

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: Duels of Fate!

It was only several minutes later that they found themselves at the building with their new occupants in tow.

Angelika's plan was simple. Once infiltration of the building was complete, they would make their way towards one of the nearest control rooms first. They would drop off Rika there once they made sure it was safe enough for her to be alone, progressing while Rika cleared any technological defenses that might be hindering their progress. They would make their way towards the target while sneaking past his elite guard and terminate him before they noticed anything was wrong.

The first part of the plan, however, involved something that probably all of them hated doing.

Ventilation climbing.

So here they were, crawling through the vents to a good drop-off spot. Angelika sported an irritated look on her face as she moved, followed closely by a fussy-faced Asuka. The rest were behind them. The weapons and tech they had on them made it a bit more agitating to crawl through.

Yajū growled, mumbling quietly as he knew this was the stealth part of their operation, "When you said ventilation shafts, I thought you meant very large vents not freaking small vents! I could barely wrap my scythe into something that would inhibit loud clanking sounds!"

"This...isn't the worst way to sneak in...we could be entering from the sewage...that always could be worse," Shito said as he deftly, almost too comfortably clammered forward being one of the few people ahead of the group, following out the readouts their tech allowed them to the center of control for most of the building.

"Thankfully, we didn't..." Asuka muttered, sweat-dropping. "I don't think I would've been able to take it, what with my kimono and all..." It was true; she was still wearing her usual kimono even with her equipment, looking a bit out of place.

"You have a big butt, Asuka-dono." Yusuke said innocently.

WHUMPF!

He promptly earned a kick in the face for that comment, covering his nose with one hand out of pain. "Ow...!!" He whined, though keeping his voice to a whisper. "What was that for?!"

"I consider that making fun of me." Asuka said, a comical vein popping in her face as she continued to crawl. "Men don't usually make comments like that unless they're being sarcastic about it."

Yajū peered past the two women near the rear, Angelika and Rika, to see what the fuss was about. He quietly snickered, thankfully out of ear shot of the angry woman, "From this angle, it sure does look big, gehehehe!"

Shito looked back and said as he shuffled deftly, without complaint, "We're only a couple of minutes away from the main control center. Rika, you should get up here with me real quick."

"Y-yes...!" Immediately, Rika allowed herself to shuffle up and move towards his level, ignoring the grunts and complaints from the others as she moved past them as best as she could.

"Isn't that a good thing?" Yusuke asked confusedly, still directing his conversation to his personal boss.

"No..." Asuka grumbled. "Women nowadays just focus on wanting and getting big things, whether it be on themselves or in their lovers. It's just nature's way of separating the modest from the depraved." She passed a slightly sympathetic look to her student. "I'd rather be like Angel-chan, with nothing much to stare at!"

"Don't you dare bring me into this." Angelika said dryly, her lone eye twitching subtly.

"I think women should be judged equally by their personalities and character, rather than by their physical makeup," Shito said nonchalantly, smiling at Rika as she approached before continuing, "though of course, I'm a minority compared to Asuka's well put example of the world we live in..."

Yajū suddenly looked at Angelika. Now the more he thought about it, with all her garments and gear on, as well as the way her hair was put back...

"Huh," Yajū said with a dawning realization, clambering behind her as he observed her from a few cocks of the head in different angles, "You actually look like a boy from behind..."

Another eye twitch.

However, before she could say anything of her own, Yusuke decided to intervene once again. "Hey, you're right!" He commented, tilting his own head to the side. "If I didn't know it was Boss Lady, I would've assumed that it was a guy!"

"You two are going to be turned into girls in the next few minutes if you don't shut up." Angelika said darkly, her smile now a twitching one and the thought of castrating them seeming more and more appealing by the second. Despite the dark threat, all Asuka did was giggle a little. However, Rika looked more than ready to shrink back to her original spot.

Yajū immediately stopped snickering and bowed his head, a cloud of dread floated over him at the thought of losing his masculinity. He often was threatened by Mōka about this, and she was one of the few she'd respect enough to shut up or stop what he's doing when she says so. Angelika...could be no different in his mind.

Shito turned a corner to the right, whispering the shrinking Rika, "Don't worry, Rika. Once we know that the control center is clear, we can leave you to your work and by your lonesome, just the way you like it."

"Th...thank you, Shito-san..." Rika said quietly, giving a weak smile back to him. It wasn't that she disliked their company, but she found it more comfortable and easier to work by herself in the events of such missions. So Shito's assurance was enough to relieve her, at least a little.

Shito scuffled a few more feet forward before he saw a few reflecting lights hitting the top of the vents, just a few meters away from the open ventilation space where the control center was supposed to be. He immediately grabbed Rika, holding her still, holding his other hand back to signal the team to stop.

And of course, they did.

Angelika was the first to crawl near them, stopping once she was close enough but not close to see through the open space completely. "How does it look?" She questioned, lifting a finger to silently motion Yajū to her side. In any case, she was going to rely on him in order to swiftly take out anyone within that vicinity.

Shito nodded to Angelika before pointing to the ceiling of ventilation shaft ahead of them. It had a faint discoloration, something that not everyone would pick up as dangerous or different. With a faint inhale, he breathed out what looked like colorless smoke, showing thin red lines and the sensory feeds leading straight into the vent near the control center.

Yajū hissed, seeing all the red lines, "They've purposely wired the vents above them to trigger an alarm while leaving the rest of the vents intact. Creating a false sense of security for intruders, I don't think anyone other than Shito would've picked up on it..."

"Just give me a second," Shito said, clapping his hands together, closing his eyes before spreading them towards the lines, producing a pair of blue-hue energy mirrors, slowly pressing them till the lines were reflected back onto their respective surfaces, "there...it should be clear for us to infiltrate."

"Make sure there aren't any pests walking around before you jump down." Angelika said in warning. "If there are, take them out quickly and quietly while you're moving."

"Trust me, Angelika-san," he then looked back at her, with a smile and a wink, "Infiltration, is my speciality." He then proceeded to shuffle towards the vent, his body not even denting the Kido glass he created as he made his way to the vent's entrance. He peered through the holes, seeing a few suit garbed men, all of them monitoring the security monitors and readings within the large 10 meter radius room.

"Here I go..."

Shito said to himself, taking in a deep inhale before reaching out to the metal grating, extending a number of nigh invisible wires, almost making the feat look like a form of telekinesis as the grating moved slightly then altogether it came loose before lowering to the ground slowly and soundlessly. With a relieved sigh, he then crawled down the grating, almost like a insect he scaled the vent and onto the ceiling, looking down at all the guards below.

As the first guard came by, he bent his torso forward and left his feet attached to the ceiling, quickly grabbing his neck and twisted with a vicious snap, breaking it easily. The remaining three were propped near the monitors behind him, all unaware of their comrade's demise.

As he dropped down soundlessly, he turned around and used Flash Step, appearing before their backsides and began attacking fiercely and near soundlessly. With a palm heel, he smashed through one of the guard's shoulder blades and sent enough directed concussive force to stop his heart, causing him to gurgle and fall forward towards the monitor with a ghastly look on his face. The second before he landed on the console, he stretched out with a swift knife hand strike and crushed the othermost right sided man's trachea, causing him to convulse as he began to die of aphyxiation. As the last, and centermost guard took notice, it was too late as a menacing hawk-eyed slit pair of eyes focused on him, slamming two hammerhead strikes with his fists hard enough to instanteously kill him, rupturing the tissue inside his brain.

He then looked up to the vent, awaiting the rest of V-14 to assemble into the control room, looking as calm and normal as if nothing had happened.

"Oooh...."

When he followed Angelika, Rika, and Asuka's route in order to drop into the control room, Yusuke allowed a satisfied grin as he looked at the dead bodies. "Nice ones, Shito-san..." He complimented, one arm folded across his chest and the hand of his other arm cupping his chin thoughtfully. "Can't say I haven't seen better, though..."

Rika hesitantly walked over to one of the control terminals and sat down, making herself comfortable. "Okay..." She whispered, her fingers immediately working at the controls. "Considering the origin of security, it'll take a while to override the system without anyone noticing. But it can be done. I can monitor your progress with the camera feed as you get to the main objective. Please proceed quickly, though, as the target may find out sooner than we expected."

Shito laughed nervously, as he scratched the back his neck while emphasizing with the other hand, "I would've made it a lot bloodier, but I didn't want to make Rika faint when she saw all the mess I made, hehe..."

Yajū grunted before he landed on his hands, and then forward flipped onto his feet, looking around the bodies, sniffling with disapproval, "Too clean...that's what I don't like about your kills sometime, Shito. Too f'ing clean!"

"It's fine..." Angelika said smoothly, stuffing her hands into her pockets. "This is a stealth mission for the time being, so keeping it to a minimal would be the better option." She looked over towards Rika as she continued working at the terminal. "How are we, Frau Nakamura?"

"Just a moment..."

With a beep, the camera monitor was active on the computer screen. "From what I can tell..." Rika said softly, switching from panel to panel. "There are light patrols up ahead, as well as an elevator that will take you straight to the top floor. The alarm system up there is very organized and will take some time to take down, though."

"In other words, let's try not to get there too fast." Asuka chuckled lightly.

Yajū smiled then, hefting the cloth of his scythe to reveal the twisted ebony handle, the demonic animal head on one side and the jagged curved scythe blade on the other, "Let me lead. I've been dying to bloody my weapon with some losers who get in our way!"

"We'll be right behind you." Angelika smiled a little, willing to allow him to take the lead. She was curious to how he would cope and what his abilities were, after all. "Just make sure not to have too much fun..."

"And make sure not to take 'em all yourself!" Yusuke added, popping his knuckles in each hand with a preparatory flair. "Even the medic needs a break from his job once in a while."

"I'll let the rats scurry past me," Yajū gafawed, guturally chuckling as he looked back at Yusuke as he marched out into the hallway, with the rest of the group in tow. His bare feet tapped quietly, surprisingly for his size, as he walked a steady pace towards the area that was mentioned, using his senses to lead him there where a map could not.

Shito looked at Yusuke with a raised brow as they walked on, "You have a form of combat to make up for being a medic?"

Yusuke blinked owlishly, quickly following Yajū and being followed by Angelika and Asuka. "Well, duh!" He said, as if it explained everything. "I wouldn't be much of a good medic if I couldn't defend myself if I was attacked!" He folded his arms, giving Shito a deadpan look. "Jeez, Shito-san, I thought you were the intelligent guy around here."

"No, no, that's not what I mean," Shito shook his head as he clenched his eyes closed, before waving a hand to him in emphasis, "you don't look exactly like you're holding any weapons of any sort, and your physical makeup doesn't really emphasize a strong physical combatant. What's your form of combat?"

Yajū sniffed the air, propping the scythe level on his shoulder as he approached a oncoming corner within the corridors of the regular, modernized building interior, "Company!" With a feral smile and a single foostep, he propelled himself through the air, leaving a slight gust of wind to blow back on the others in his wake, as he blipped from view and appeared on the otherside of the corner, startling the guards at once as he swung his scythe around and cleaved their torsos clean off the rest of their bodies, splattering a gallon of blood over the ceiling and walls before the body parts messily dropped onto the floor.

As more rounded down the hall, arming themselves with Kido guns as the V-14 would see, Yajū swung his scythe around in a chaotic dance, sending a ripple through the air and charged it with spirit energy, discharging nearly a dozen of transparent wind blades that moved in almost unreadable movements. They tried to fire at them, but the blades sliced through them with ease, causing minature ricochet explosions across the hall before they were sliced thoroughly into bloody pieces.

"There's only one patrol by the elevator," Yajū said to himself, sniffing and announcing as his scythe's edge dripped fresh of his kill's gore, "and they're heading this way. Perfect," with a predatorial grin, he leaned down towards the pool of blood and began sketching a series of shapes and patterns archaic, almost unrecognizeable to anyone. But then, it was all so clear...Kurai Geijutsu, the arts of Demons and their followers.

As the group of four pissed guards rounded the corner towards him, Yajū smiled, placing his palm onto to the demonic circle, he called out gutturally, "Sanguine Palange Parietis!" (Eng Lit Translation, "Blood Phalanx Wall.")

SH-SH-SH-SH-SH-SH-SH-SH-SH-SHINK!!!!

The blood suddenly it up with a dark red and black aura before rising up in a wave, that covered the whole hallway, causing the trained and hardened guards to actually halt in their tracks in terror that the blood of their own collegues...was taking shape! Then, with a sudden instanteous movement, the blood hardened in shape and jutted out with incredible cutting power and force, stabbing all four men repeatedly until they too became nothing but bloody chunks that melded into the blood. And within a few seconds, the wall of blood lost its codensation and it fell to the ground into a thick, syrup pool all across the floor, before hissing as it began to dissipate and dry up on the ground, wall, and ceiling it touched, blackening to crisp flakes.

Yajū turned to the others with a satisfied smile on his face, saying, "They're all dead now. We can take a stroll to the elevator now, if you wish, gehehehehehehe!"

Shito couldn't help but glare at the sight, hating the sight of such a grisly technique as he turned away, whispering aloud, "And you say I'm too clean...you're definitely too grotesque."

A dark smile crossed Angelika's face as she walked through the now-cleared hallway. "A pity. These troops were said to have been highly dangerous. Yet I saw nothing but cannon fodder..." She said in cold dismissal. "At any rate, I hope that the Dokueki aren't as much of a disappointment..."

Asuka whistled, following close behind her student and taking a good look around the hallway. "Nice work, Reijingu-san..." She commented, giving a satisfied smile. "You made short work of them and cleaned up after yourself. Quite the efficient technique you have!"

"You didn't leave me any..." Yusuke pouted comically, folding his arms across his chest as he walked behind them.

Yajū smiled approvingly at Angelika as she took her stride casually in her usual cool self, but that smile just made him feel all giddy to spill more blood for her sight. As he heard Asuka's comment, he flipped his scythe to show the blood in the air being absorbed into the metal and ember of the scythe itself, "You haven't even seen my scythe's awakening. Its...quite a show," he regarded Yusuke with a sarcastic whine of his own, "awwwww, I guess no rats made it past me. Maybe next time, boy," he turned around and hefted his weapon on his shoulder, walking across the ground with everyone proceeding to the elevator.

When they stepped close enough...

DING!

The elevator doors promptly opened up, allowing them to step through without pause. The sound was enough to send a chill down Asuka's spine as she stepped through, for she knew as well as the others that it indicated what they were about to face. However, she still kept that smile on her expression, even as she turned around to face the closing doors. If anything, the feeling was good to her, and the thought of being in danger made her fingers tremble a little.

"I never took you for a blood knight, Asuka-sensei..."

Her eyes widened in surprise at Angelika's voice, her gaze shifting to see her student giving her a cool, yet curious look. "Oh... you always pay attention to the smallest of details, Angel-chan..." She commented lightly, keeping the smile nonetheless. "I'm sorry... but we're about to face this man's elite force in the midst of the walking target boards. And... ooh!" She balled up her fists in front of her, letting out a small squeal of delight. "It's been such a long time since I've got to show off!"

"I hope you don't disappoint yourself..." Angelika said, turning her head back to face the elevator doors. "I'm tempted to just disregard the statements about them being powerful already. But of course..." She tilted her head back, letting out a heavy sigh and closing her eyes. "That would be tempting fate, wouldn't it?"

Asuka nodded, lowering her hands back to her sides and looking in approval. "Good to see that you still have your wits and understanding about you."

"I hope that by the end of the day, I'll keep that..."

With that statement, Angelika raised a finger up to her earpiece, clicking it on. "Frau Nakamura. What's the status on those alarms? Have they been disabled?" She questioned, her calm voice shifting into a slightly sharp and commanding tone as she switched topics.

"Still working on it..." Was the soft response. "I'm keeping a close eye on the top floor, and it doesn't seem like they're aware of our entry just yet. However, their security's too thick, even if I do manage to get through their alarms in time. You may have to switch to direct combat if things go south..."

"I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this," Shito spoke with hesitance as he looked around, "I almost get the feeling we forgot something...like subtle pieces of information was lost to the wind that we didn't grasp..."

Yajū chuckled, leaning against the wall of the elevator as it rose to its destination with swift speed and precision, "That means this mission won't be so boring like those meatbags earlier. I'm anxious to fight one of those guys anyways..."

"Clearly you have no idea what would happen with the Guardian catches win of a gang war inside a skyscraper," Shito deadpanned as he flatly stared at him, "what would happen if he decided that there was only scum fighting scum inside a skyscraper?"

"He'd," Yajū said with sudden rememberence of a time when that happened, dropping his head down a bit, "throw a giant fireball or lightning bolt at us and cause the infrastructure to collapse on itself..."

"Then let's hope we at least fight them underground," Shito said with a satisfied, yet anxious sigh, looking up at the flickering elevator numerical symbols as they rose higher and higher, "where its safe from him."

Angelika lowered her head, closing her eye and placing a hand on a part of the numbered lights as they continued to flicker. She placed her free hand to her hip, her body remaining relatively still. She too had the feeling that something was out of place, that despite all the information she obtained, there was still something missing. She could easily chalk it up to paranoia, but she knew that intuition like hers usually meant that something negative was going to happen.

She hoped she was wrong.

"Keep your senses on the alert. There's always the possibility that the Dokueki might simply be waiting for us underground instead of here." She instructed firmly. "Frau Nakamura, after you're done with the alarms, I want you to extract every piece of information you can out of this place. The corporation itself, the workers, its protection, everything. Strip this place down to the bare hindquarters. I want nothing remaining secret."

"Yes, ma'am..."

"Boy," Shito said with a blank look at Angelika, "for someone who looks like a boy, you sure are perverted."

Ding...Ding...DIIIIING!

As soon as the elevator went to the last three levels it slowed to a crawl, before stopping with a telltale ring throughout the elevator. As the doors began opening, a dozen armed guards with Kido rifles and pistols cocked their weapons at them, ready to take them down before they even stepped out.

"Take them down! No unauthorized entry from no due appointments at this time!" The leader said, firing off his first Kido bolt at Angelika first as the others returned in kind.

That little hint was all it took to know that something was up.

Her eyes narrowing, Angelika immediately pressed herself to the side when the bullets were unleashed on her position, quickly whipping out her HCA-50 Pistol. Within a moment's notice, she jerked back into the open, lined up her targets, and started pulling the trigger.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

The stopping power of the pistol was frightening. Not only did one bolt make a head explode upon contact, but it also tore through the heads and bodies of several more troops that were behind it. This made the number of troops thin out at a terrifyingly quick rate, bodies dropping to the ground with each and every shot fired.

Of course, she wasn't the only one to join in the fun.

Instantly, Asuka and Yusuke dove at them like hawks diving on their prey. Asuka's katana was unsheathed, the steel gleaming under the artificial light as well as her own resolve to kill. Her expression was concentrating, focusing completely on the battle at hand. Yusuke, on the other hand, had his eyes squinted shut and a toothy grin on his face... just as predatorial as Yajū's was.

The dance began.

Yusuke was up first, unleashing a flurry of kicks, punches, and acrobatic moves to engage the guards in hand-to-hand. Of course, he was met with some resistance against his movements, with some of the guards managing to fight him off. However, it was only for a short while that they could do so before his hand effectively sliced through their bodies. His hands were like blades, tearing through the enemy's flesh and ripping the soul from the body within an instant. There were screams and corpses left in his wake, a pool of blood staining the ground very quickly.

Asuka herself was letting the blade talking for her.

With each and every swing made, she was cutting them down with natural ease, her eyebrows furrowed and a concentrating frown still on her face as she moved in their mist. The steel blade was not the only tool she was using. While she was tearing through their cover with one hand, she had the scabbard in the other and was using it to block oncoming bullets and attacks. It proved to be an effective weapon for delivering concussive blows and leaving her targets vulnerable to a killing blow.

To them, killing such elite gunmen was nothing but child's play.

As more and more additional troops added to the dance the V-14 were stepping into, Yajū and Shito simply watched with enjoyment as the other V-14 squad took them out with prestige and enjoyment, and just watched comically satisfied.

"Y'know...watching how she fights," Shito pointed out to Angelika, seeing her take out multiple opponents at a time with extreme precise aim and power, "I think she really does look like a woman now that I think about it."

"True enough," Yajū agreed as he saw all of them fighting, "if I didn't know that boy was a girl, I'd think it was some sort've twisted dance recital, with the guards as stand-ins and props to their bloody samba."

"I think its more like Tango," Shito argued.

"Tango? Really?"

"Yeah, see how they cling to their bodies before swiftly shifting to different partners-"

"That's Square Dancing, you moron!"

"Ho-How would you know what square dancing is?!"

"Hey, just because I cut things up doesn't mean I don't know shit, kay?!"

"But...do you square dance?" Shito asked, and suddenly another comical staredown erupted, with faint sounds of battle being overheard from the three other combatants, as they both sweatdrop.

"Let's just forget about it," Shito turned his head with a muttering agreement.

"That's the point," Yajū said with a disdainful turn of his own head, looking to see that the rest of them were nearly done killing them all. And it only had been two minutes and some odd seconds..., "you done over there, girls?"

"Who're you callin' a girl?"

Yusuke was the first to jump away from the battle with a slightly indignant look, letting the girls finish up their work. His hands were completely stained with blood, and so were parts of his body. Yet, he was uninjured, even sporting a comical pout with his lips. "I may have long hair and look like some bishie from an anime, but I'm definitely no girl!" He complained.

And with that, the last one fell to the ground.

"Ah!"

Asuka had a cheery grin on her face as she sheathed her blade, placing the scabbard back within the sash on her waist. "That was quite refreshing..." She said lightly, clenching and unclenching a newly freed hand. "I thought I was going to be a bit rustier than that, but it seems like I haven't lost too much touch. This is going to work out nicely when we face down those elite baddies..."

"Whether or not the alarms are disabled, they know we're here..." Angelika stated, calmly exhausting her clip and reloading her gun before sheathing it back within her coat pocket. "We have to move quickly if we want to corner him. By now, he could be already making his way to his underground shelter."

"That's precisely the plan, miss," a voice penetrated the air as a man in what looked like a cross of regal combat garbs and monastic symbolism, came a man who hid his presence well, as well as any residual strength within him. He traversed over the blood and bodies casually, looking over at the scene with a serene, dispassionate gaze as he looked over at all of V-14, "you must be the mercenaries Rai-sama contracted to assassinate Xanxus-dono."

"And what's it to you, shithead?!" Yajū growled at him with a feral smile, clenching his scythe with anticipation and excitement.

"It seems battle would be inevitable as soon as you entered this floor, so I already set up a contingency plan in an event you, or moreover the intruders would penetrate our security," he snapped his fingers, and the room suddenly opened several different doors, each of them leading to another room within the vast floor of the penthouse within the skyscraper, "your objective lies behind one of these doors. There are four of them and each have a 25% chance of reaching Xanxus-dono. But one of you," he said while grasping the hilt of his elaborate Zanpakuto sheathed horizontally on his waistline, "will have to stay behind to deal with me. Simple, no?"

A lop-sided frown crossed Asuka's face. "Not very subtle about your plans, are you?" She commented, opening one of her eyes up in order to look at him. It was clear that the plan was for them to be separated. From the appearance of the man in front of them, it was highly possible that they could be facing their own individual opponents.

"Well, guys?"

Yusuke turned his head to his male friends, shrugging. "Five of us and only four doors. Personally, I wouldn't care either way..." He tilted his head. "But assuming our leaders automatically qualify to take up two doors already, which one of us is willing to stay behind and fight this guy?"

"I'll do it," Yajū sighed, walking forward, grating the metal of his scythe across the floor as he smiled with a hungry look in his eyes, "since you're bold enough to lure us into traps, I'm going to take the smart looking guy who stupidly decided to stand in our way!"

"If you all want to fight me at once, go ahead," the Dokueki member spoke aloud as he raised his left forearm up, showing the sign of his group, "you might need it considering I might be the strongest of the group...or you would conserve energy to fight your real opponents. It all depends really if you want to fight with honor, or with underhanded tactics, which I won't blame intruders for either way."

Yajū discharged a wave of wind from his left palm, sending enough concussive force to force the man back against his heels for a handful of meters, almost hitting the wall behind him as he unsheathed his sword with more caution, "What...was that?"

"Alright guys! Dibs on the guy with the girly dress! Whoever wants to join in, just follow me!" Yajū cackled out, rushing out and swinging his scythe with adept precision and skill, clashing with the metal of the Dokueki's own sword, forcing him on the defensive as he kept driving to attack him.

Shito clapped his hands, building up Spiritual Energy as he looked to Angelika, "Orders?"

It would be easy to jump and kill him with all of their numbers combined, if what he said was true. However, it would also end up wasting all of their energy just chasing down one man. To Angelika, that in itself would be pointless. The underhanded way would be the smart way, but it would also be incredibly wasteful. The only route they could take with lesser consequences would be following through and separating.

Not to mention, she had no idea what Yajū was truly capable of. But based from what she saw, she could easily say that there was more destructive techniques underneath his surface. A small smile crossed her face, and she gazed over towards the two fighters for a moment.

She raised a hand towards Shito - a clear signal to stop.

"Fight like a warrior, Yajū." She said coolly. "We'll be heading down these I trust you to kill him when we come back from our trip." She turned towards the rest of them, thrusting two fingers forth. "Let's move!"

"Whoo!" Yusuke cheered, not hesitating in picking a door at random and stopping at it. "Time to have some fun!" The possibility of fighting his own individual opponent excited him more than anything else. Hopefully, whoever it was would prove to be more of a challenge than these so-called "elite gunmen"...

"All of you, make sure not to die before we get to the boss." Asuka said, walking towards her own door and placing her hand on it. "Other than that, also make sure to have some fun."

Shito grimaced somewhat before shouting to Yajū, "Don't take too long, Yajū!" Before he used his senses and picked the leftmost one, disappearing within the blue-white lights behind it.

"Yes maam!" Yajū spoke aloud, as he twisted his sythe around as he began parrying the swordsman on even ground, a single scratch from the scythe revealed no blood at first before a single scratche emerged from his torso, "I'm going to kill me a Hollow! HAHAHAHA!"

"Before you die, I will grace you with my name," the Arrancar revealed as he backflipped and twirled his sword around, disappearing before reappearing behind Yajū attempting to catch him off guard with a slash of his Zanpakuto, "Sombra Vidente...is the last name you will hear-"

SNATCH-BLECH!

With a slight cut being seen from a hand that grasped the lowermost portion of the Arrancar's Zanpakuto, his eyes widened as Yajū pulled him forward and landed a kick to his chest, buffering it wind and catapulting him across the room, smashing into a wall with tremendous force as a gale of wind flew all around the room, "Yajū Reijingu, Omega Team, V-14. Those names will be the last you hear as you scream in this room," he held up his hand, the bleeding suddenly etched a simple series of archaic letters without even touching it, "Sanguine Tridentem!" (Eng Lit Translation, "Blood Trident.")

SHINK!

A sudden just of carbonized blood jutted out and attempted to kill Sombra outright. Until a number of Balas in the form of energized blades flew out towards him, clashing with the blood spear and intended to put Yajū down into the ground.

"Gacela Danza!" (Eng Lit Translation, "Gazelle Dance,")

Yajū moved with swift movements, appearing to and fro, before twirling his scythe in a rapid rotating display of agility and prowess, deflecting the condensed bullet-like projectiles, "You're good, Sombra hombre! But I can do this all day!"

"Quite," Sombra agreed as he pried himself from the wall, a trickle of blood tickled down his scalp as he renewed his stance, "just pray you don't make me regret cherishing life...I can't guaruntee I'll hold back then."

"Cherish life?! HAHAHA!" Yajū held up his scythe as it feasted on the pool of blood he left behind, the animal maw back of his weapon glowed slightly, "life is nothing but to be challenged and fought over! Life is for amusement and battle! Life is violence! So why not enjoy this fight with everything you have, hombre?!"

Sombre's eyes glowed as his body became encased with Spiritual Energy, shaking the ground and building within, failing to reach outside due to special properties within the construction, "Careful what you wish for, Yajū Reijingu."

"Bring it!" Yajū's own Spiritual Pressure began to shake and clash with his, "cause I got all day to swim in the oceans of blood I'll generate!"

Son of the Boss

To say that Asuka wasn't overwhelmed by the sight of she saw when she stepped through the door would be nothing but an outright lie.

Her eyes widened when she felt a light wind blowing against her body, as if she had simply stepped outside. Her sandal-covered feet brushed against grass, and she found herself moving that particular foot just to see if she wasn't hallucinating. As she looked all around her, she could see a garden with koi fish swimming in the small pond. Her ears kept twitching occasionally at a slight tapping sound that could be always heard in such environments.

She closed her eyes, placing a hand to her heart and looking on with astonishment. "To think that there would be something like this in the midst of criminals... is so breathtaking..." She remarked, her heart easing slightly. She turned her attention to the pond, walking over to it and bending her legs so that she would be in a near-sitting position, but her bottom would actually be inches from the ground. Her hands rested on her knees as she took in the sight of the koi fish swimming through the waters.

Eventually, though, she chose to sit down completely, resting one arm on her knee while the other had its hand planted on the ground in order to keep her propped up. The bent leg that wasn't propped up was positioned in a half-Indian style position. A smile came across her face, and she chuckled to herself. "I shouldn't really be choosing a time to relax like this... but, I guess I can use this time to think about how I'm going to approach Xanxus..."

However, she would soon find out she was not alone with the koi.

A silent figure who had been meditating within the open house opened his eyes as he felt a presence walk unsuspecting into this place he liked to call, "The Garden." Its peaceful scenery painted a beautiful deception behind the true pain and despair. The man's long black locks swayed as a breeze entered the area, beautifully manipulated within the area as grass was bent and the water stirred along with the few trees offering shade from the sunlight.

Within a sudden soundless movement, the samurai garbed, armed man, the one person who hadn't been debriefed on all of their appearances happened to be sitting in a passive style next to the pool of koi. He then spoke a stoic, knowing tone as he recognized the woman, "Comfortable, Sakamoto-dono?"

Her ears immediately perked up once again, the smile fading into a mouth curl of surprise. Her head jolted up with surprise, but she did not turn to look at him. Out of the V-14, only she would recognize the voice that came to her ears. For only a split second, her surprise had been shot into her expression. However, her eyes closed, and she smiled a little.

"Ah, how I still recognize that voice in particular..."

She turned her eyes towards him, her eyes casting over his form.

"It's been a while... hasn't it, my little Shin-chan?"

Shinshin looked emotionless at the name, simply exhaling a long held breath as the wind died down. His eyes cast back at hers a look of total disconnection, as if he didn't have any fondness of her or heartwarming kindness he once showed to her as a child.

"Don't talk to me as if I'm the boy you once knew," Shinshin said coldly he placed his hands inside the expansive sleeves of his kosode, his eyes narrowed at her in a disapproving manner, "its unbecoming of you, even if you were once my mentor and master."

Asuka took it all in with a pondering, slightly hurt at the response that he had given. She had at least hoped that he would acknowledge the peaceful moment that had existed between them for the moment. Yet, as she stared into his cold and callous eyes, she knew that wouldn't be possible. Already, she could take in that there probably wasn't going to be much good talk between them.

"Oh, you've grown cold as a fish..." She huffed, her lips contorting into a mild pout. "But, I suppose some people have their own ways to adapting to life as a gangster, I suppose. How is your new master treating you?"

"I have not forgotten your teachings, Sakamoto-dono. I've never strayed from the importance that discipline and freedom you've allowed me to have," he then unsleeved his hands, leaving them to hang by his sides as he looked at her with a cold, calculated look, "but...Xanxus-sama has taught me even more valuable traits and tools a true warrior and only a man could teach me."

As he put his hands on his katana, the one weapon only she would remember him fondly crafting before her, and calling it "an extension of his soul. He began drawing it out slowly and dramatically as he shuffled a slight meter away from her, pulling out his sword before her, holding it as a vertical dividing line between his face, "You must recognize me as an equal now, Sakamoto-dono, for I'm about to seize the mantle of master from you here and today. Prepare yourself!"

For a moment, she didn't move. A thick, tense silence resounded between the two, with the light wind providing a bit of a dramatic flair. She took in a deep breath, tilting her head back and looking at the sky for a moment. It was obvious that he was interested in nothing but the inevitable battle between them. She had tried to get him to open up his heart before then, but it was clear that was too much to ask for. However, at his words, her smile faded away little by little, and her eyes half-lidded.

"Equal?"

Her shoulders shook slightly as she started chuckling again. Anyone could say that it was a mirthful laugh, as if what she said was a joke. In fact, it might as well have been that, based from the relaxed and glib tone it took. But if one could peek beyond her surface, they would see that the context was much deeper than that. There was mirth... but it wasn't out of the happiness that one could easily associate with. It was the happiness that could only belong to that of a gangster to the core, a criminal who had long since abandoned the morality of society.

There was only one word to describe its mood.

Sinister.

Slowly, she allowed herself to stand up, turning her body around to face Shinshin. "Shin-chan..." She said calmly, one eye closed and one eye open as she smiled nonchalantly. She gripped the hilt of her sword with one hand while grasping the scabbard with the other, slowly drawing out her own katana. The metal made an eerie, ominous hiss as it scraped against the material of its sheath until it was finally drawn. She held it in the same manner that Shinshin held his own weapon, the flat side of the blade facing him.

"You have much to learn."

She twisted the blade in her hand so that the killing edge would face him, a menacing click of her sword resounding in the area.

"Pride in your abilities is to be expected and not entirely disapproving for someone of your skill and stature," Shinshin spoke back in a unrelenting gaze, lowering his blade so it tilted just below his waistline towards the ground, "but you're not the only one who can pick up tactics on your own and make them purely yours."

BLIP-WHIZ!

Within a instant, he disappeared like a wraith before the living, kicking up grass and air only by a slight margin. When his form reappeared behind her, he swung with deft grace and deadly beauty, as his sword reflexed incredible speed that would mirror her teachings while distorting and changing them with his newly acquired skills. Like a extra excess of cutting power generated by subtle vibrations within his sword provided by his spirit energy that was too dim to see to the naked eye. The edge of his katana aimed to cut through her torso in a rising diagonal strike, while also following up with a with a repeat in the inverted direction, allowing himself enough space to counter and react to any resistance met up by this worthy adversary.

It was enough to make Asuka's eyes widen again in apprehensive shock.

However, it did not mean that she wasn't ready.

Her body twisted around, her sword being thrust in a quick parry. Once their blades collided, hers was diverted upward. However, it managed to force his own steel away from her flesh, successfully sparing her a wound. As he came back with the second diagonal strike, she twisted her torso so that the back of her shoulder was facing him. Her hands bent her sword behind her back, intercepting the strike. As her own sword's flat side was pressed against her back, a chill went down her spine once again.

However, despite the calm and serene demeanor she had taken, her words stated otherwise.

"You do realize... this is just tearing me up inside, making me do this..." She said in a low tone, virtually unreadable at best.

"Pain is a burden that you gave me that I cast off a long time ago," Shinshin said back with equally serenity, with no guttural threats and verbal anger. Just plain factual truth. Shinshin has acknowledged the past between them severed his bond between his surrogate mother and mentor. He'd kill her to show her this fact.

Shinshin then made his next move, charging forward with soft taps of the soles of his sandals against the ground as his body hugged it low, bringing the sword down low with him as well, in order to counter any aggression she made otherwise. With a swift thrusting motion, he made sure to stab far enough in midstride to allow him to slash to her left, making sure in the position she was in made it equally difficult to counter, as his final move moved in a half circle arc downwards to cut at her thighs and lower legs with a final horizontal swing. All of it done with precise, graceful maneuvers worthy and praised for any swordsman. But for Shinshin...this was child's play to probe his master's edge, to see if she still had that power to rival his own as he is now.

Asuka acted accordingly.

She stepped to the side in order to dodge the first lunge strike. Then, with a spin of her body, she barely avoided the next strike as it clipped her kimono. Then, in the final strike, she boosted her legs and performed a hop, keeping her legs close to her body mid-jump. She held the sword over her head before swinging down, her cutting edge aimed for his shoulder. Because he was bent low to the ground, she was hoping to take advantage of his position and slice him from the shoulder down to the waistline. If that didn't work, she would fall with an upwards uppercut before leaping back once again.

Neither of these attacks would hold anything back.

Within the movement of his swing, Shinshin redirected the momentum of his blade to counter Asuka's downwards strike, parrying her with a metalic singing ring throughout the air. He then spun around on the balls of his feet, his hair being slightly cut as well as some of the cloth within his kosode from her strike, moving to her blindside before quickly swinging his sword around to slash her side as he rolled forward and out of the way, resuming a fighting stance on the other side, not even losing a breath from the conflict.

"You haven't lost your touch, Sakanodo-dono," he complimented softly, losing the coldness within his voice briefly but didn't show any happiness and warmth he exhibited since they last saw each other, "but it seems I can anticipate your moves as well as you can mine."

WOOSH!

Asuka managed to leap out of the way once again, skidding off to the side and readying herself into a stance once again. "I would expect as much..." She said softly, tilting her head to the side a little. "Just how much did you learn from your new master, I wonder?"

"A few things," he spoke simply, sliding his left foot forward while bringing his sword up with both hands with the blade tilted upwards and six inches horizontal to his cheek, "things that allowed me to untap the true depths of Tamashī no Sonshitsu that you couldn't even as a master of it, you did not understand it truly. While the basis is turning the aggression of your opponent into sensory attack while also allowing you to kill them with equal amount of force into a single stroke of your own sword, adapting their aggression into a blade alongside yours, that will reach them if they don't know its form..."

VrrrrrrrVOOOOOOOOM!~

He suddenly became enraptured within a thick veil of dark blue spiritual energy, causing his hair and cloak to billow dramatically as his eyes glowed with equal determination and resolve. The affect began rippling incredibly across the brightly lit sky and world they were in, suddenly darkening the skies as clouds gathered and the mood within the entire atmosphere bled of killing intent.

"This is my form of Tamashī no Sonshitsu," he said lowly through the air, his voice seemed to penetrate deep into her soul and emotional receptors, as if it was empathetically affecting her by vibrating through the air, "and this," he said with a single thrust forward, "is one of my forms of attack. Tamashī Katto!" (魂カット Tamashii katto, ; Eng Lit Translation, "Soul Cut.")

Hissss-CRAAAAAAAACK!

Within a mere second, a invisible rupturing of the air, causing a visible afterflash of a blue funnel, leaving behind a trace of death and shredded earth, grass, and even the air seemed to hiss in its aftermath. It reached out and tore the fabric of all spiritrons before it, hemmorhaging it, and causing it to seemingly rip itself apart upon contact with the fierce flow of nigh invisible energy. It flowed almost endlessly across the horizon as it cut up and destroyed everything within the 5 meter radius of his sword's thrust.

The sensation was rocking.

Her eyes dilated with complete shock when she felt the effects of his spiritual energy. She shuddered, the empath waves washing over her like bad water. The effects of the power surge caused her to sweat, beads of it showing on her face. She couldn't believe the amount of energy he was exerting, having risen considerably in her absence. She knew that playing it easy was going to get her nowhere but to an early grave.

So, she had to give it her all.

With a wide leap, she pushed herself out of the way of the attack, the winds generated blowing against her body with a ruthless force. "Such power...!" She thought to herself.

Within the moment of evasion, Shinshin leaped via Flash Step, reappearing with a blue hue wrapped around his sword as he swung in vicious high-sped arcs and thrusts, his speed having nearly doubled since earlier and the properties of his personal Tamashī no Sonshitsu style resided within the core of his attacks.

He turned raw aggression and emotion into raw cutting and killing power, something that had been queried to her at one point as his child-self, believing if pouring anger into combat would make you stronger. This was disbelieved as necessary for Tamashī no Sonshitsu to work, since it turned the aggression and attacks of an enemy against them, seeing no necessary reason for the use of such dark mannerism to fight in that way.

However, Shinshin was now achieving what was merely a innocent query during his early apprenticeship and childhood. He focused his anger, aggression, and will to kill into a raw potent form against his former mentor and surrogate mother, and will fight to the bitter end to achieve a mortal blow.

It was an attack that pushed his former master on the defensive immediately.

She found her body tensing and her sword swinging against his in a vicious dance for dominance. But with each and every blow, with each flip, jump, and spin back, she found herself losing ground against him more and more despite being able to hold her own against him. Even without the use of a Zanpakutō, she could practically feel the anger in each and every strike. Right now, he might as well have been screaming out for her blood.

"Incredible..." She thought to herself, unable to contain her shocked look as she continued to fight it out against him, even as she was pushed back more and more. "To think that someone was capable of turning their very anger into a weapon to use like this... at this rate, it's going to be even more troublesome to try and drag this ou--"

However, she felt her blood chill within her spine when her back hit a tree - and his sword was swinging down to her shoulder. There was nothing she could do...

SLICE!

The tip of his sword slashed her shoulder, and she shut one of her eyes as the blood sprayed from the wound. The power of the strike was enough to smash the ground and cause a dirt cloud to erupt, surrounding the two fighters. Asuka would find herself blown back, until she slammed into another tree, the force cracking the bark heavily. She slid to the ground, slumped in a sitting position with her head lowered and her sword held limply in her hand.

Shinshin's aura did not recede even as he landed a blow, not wanting to let his guard down or give up his position against such a incredible adversary. As the dust began to recede into a thin cloud, his aura began encircling all the debris around him in a small twister affect as his glowing dark blue form began walking towards her with a hidden menace as his empath energies twisted around the scenery. The fragile foilage began to wither and die in his wake as he walked with soft, deliberated steps towards her.

Once he was within 10 meters of her, he stopped and began to speak, "Tell me, Asuka," he said her name for the first time since his parting ways with her, the most painful memory for him of all, "why did you leave me behind? Why did you leave me...to fend for myself while you went and had such masterful tales woven in your mythological honor? Why did you leave me...your apprentice and ward, alone? Tell me," because of the raw emotional force within the air, he had no reason to raise his voice or change his tone as he asked her these things. His pain leeched into the atmosphere and the clouds began to start sprinkling rain before hailing a storm upon them in response to his despair and confusion. Without him shedding a single tear or cry a single word, this is what Tamashī no Sonshitsu allowed him to convey to others, both friend and foe alike. This, was as close as a emotional conversation he can project to others at this point, "I deserve to know, master."

"...do not speak to me."

In response, a voice as cold as Angelika's would have been rang out to him.

Slowly, Asuka allowed herself to stand up, her bangs overshadowing her eyes. She held her sword limply at her side. Though her hunched-over posture seemed like someone of a weakened, wounded, and scared woman afraid of dying, the tranquil fury within her tone was crystal clear. "I don't want to hear you try to acknowledge me now." She said, the frown clear on her face. "You really think you are ready to know? That you're ready to face my reasoning? No... as far as I'm concerned, you're nothing more than a brat who needs to learn his lesson."

That's when she raised her head up, the anger clear in her eyes.

"The only thing I think you deserve to know is the feel of my blade cutting out the innards of your throat."

With that being said, she gripped the hilt of her sword with both hands, readying herself once again. "Now come... and show me just how much that form of Tamashī no Sonshitsu can do."

"She can still move? Even after that last attack...?"

Shinshin's eyes widened slightly at seeing her resilience, being able to project such fury and contempt towards him. It wasn't hardly unexpected, he reasoned, on both accounts. He wanted to defeat her and humble her, hoping in this effect he would get something out of her rather than exchange pleasantries through feints and lies that could easily be brought to the surface to deflect honesty and reason. After all, they were both involved in a criminal world...

"Very well," Shinshin's eyes resumed its steely gaze back at her, the rain above in the sky began lighting up, thundering and crackling with renewed emotion as he readied himself with the same fury he had once before, "I will then sieze the truth from you, while succeeding you. Even if it means I must bleed you to the point of death and hold you there, I will claim my dominance!"

Shinshin then held the back of the blade around his left side, with the top of his left hand's fingertips resting on nearly the edge of his sword while he held his sword tightly with his right hand, bent knees and assumed form as his aura crackled the air once more, with even higher violence than before.

WOOOSH!

Shinshin's form disappeared with incredible silent speed, leaving an excess of water that once covered his form, leaving a mirage of his form that disappeared within a few seconds, enough to rattle his master's visual senses while blaring his emotions within the air to block out any other augmented abilities she might possess. But he did not appear right away in the sense she would expect. Not above, not side to side, and not in front of her.

"Tamashī no Sonshitsu, Form 2,"

As Shinshin appeared on the otherside of the tree she had crashed into, he slashed with blinding speed as his supercharged invisible force followed through, easily cracking and slashing through the foilage while causing a immense arc of blue distorted space that ripped everything to shreds in her general direction, even digging into the earth half a dozen meters while boiling and cracking the air itself. The initial frontal blow obliterated the tree with concussive force into thousands of splinters, revealing Shinshin's cool, stoic form with a venomous glow within his eyes,

"Tamashī Mikadzuki!" (魂三日月 Tamashii Mikadzuki ; Eng Lit Translation, "Soul Crescent Moon.")

Time itself seemed to stop in the wake of the following actions.

In that moment, Asuka did not allow herself to move from her spot, shifting to face him even as the blast raced towards her. She took one hand from the hilt, readying her sword hand with another foreboding click. She waited as death raced to consume her, staring it down with a narrowed, flashing eye. When it came close enough, she brought her blade up in a single and elegant motion.

The blade connected with the airspace... and cut it in two.

It was enough to cause devastation around her person as it split away from her, and anything unfortunate enough to be caught in the wake of the deflected attack was decimated. Truly, it was a powerful attack, and the fact that Asuka could do such with one hand showed her own mastery.

But she was not through.

With a coil of her legs, she threw herself at her student like a snake, her hands gripping the hilt of her sword. It only took milliseconds for her to close the gap, and when she did, she brought all of her momentum as well as her physical strength into one two-handed swing. The power would be enough to cut him completely into two pieces.

"With one hand...?!! Incredible!!!..."

Shinshin wasted no time in countering with a powerful swing of his own within the short amount of time it took for her to close the gap and swing her own blade. As his eyes met hers, he could feel the properties of Tamashī no Sonshitsu pour anger and wrath though his whole body, pulsating violently, but his face did not show a snarl or sneer. His eyes and body conveyed it all.

CLANG-RIIIIIPOWW!

As his blade clashed with hers, an incredible clash of forces that no Soul Reaper would think possible outside their kind, nor hollow. A battle of two master swordsmen, the initial force sent from Shinshin was wrapped around his blade and his blade alone, aiming to cut through his master's sword and across her body, ending the misery he felt for nearly a century she caused him, as the ferocity of the clashing forces were comparable to two colliding spiritual pressures and powers, as the waves of energy hurtled around caused lightning to crackle and winds to buckle. Even the rain itself was diverted between the two colliding swordsmen, aiming to beat one or the other.

It was a powerful movement, one that seemed like it would surely follow through with its intentions.

But Asuka thwarted any chance of that out of the window.

CLANG!

Her blade did not break when her opponent's clashed against it, providing an effective defense against the strike imposed on her. Her eyes were overshadowed as she pulled back and swung again, and again, and again in a series of swift, furious attacks. Against the power, she seemed to show no faltering, no retreating, and no fear. Her body seemed to move on its own as she attacked, every attack flowed into another with no sudden jarring or pulling out of her attacks. Even as the rain and lightning crashed down around her, all her mind was focused on was the battle she was waging against her former student...

...and her former son.

Shinshin could feel the ferocity within each attack, set in a series of motions that made him draw forth a series of his own high-powered strikes, causing him to be withdrawn into a standstill as their blades repeatedly clashed, scraped, and hummed within the air, sparks flied and rain drops whipped off of them as their series of motions caused their dampened bodies to expel any moisture they had on them.

"So this...is what she is like...being clearly serious...on destroying her enemy?"

As each clash against his mentor's incredible attacks, Shinshin, for the first time, began to lose control of his stoic feel, making his empathic energies crackle and practically ignite the area around his body as he finally twitched and then yelled out, "WHY?!"

SLASH-CRACK!

"DID YOU-!"

SLASH-CRACKLE!

"LEAVE ME-!"

SLASH-CRACK-HISS!

"-BEHIND?! ASUKA!!!!" Within the night uncountable swings they swung at each other, his last four gradually built up power, and his sword began to have much more dense, honed strength in them, as his anger powered his whole being, and his despair filled his sword. And within the last slash of his sword as he screamed out, the previously invisible force turned into a transparent extension of his blade as he swung towards her and her opposing blade in a upright diagonal stroke. The affect would be enough to send a pillar of dark blue warped air force thrown into the air, while destroying the earth and air around them for dozens of meters from his location, the cutting power so incredible it almost imitated the force of fire incinerating everything past the ashes.

Tamashī Kajin (魂火刃 Tamashii kajin ; Eng Lit Translation, "Soul Fire Blade.")

Time stopped once more, when Asuka's blade swung downward to counter his upright diagonal strike...

SLICE!

Splurch!

Here was where the difference between skill lay.

While Shinshin's form allowed him to channel his very emotions in order to increase his offensive power, Asuka could exploit the weakness given from what she had been taught of her own form. It required a constant, sizable output of spiritual energy from the user, as well as the ability to completely abandon the extremes of emotion. What Shinshin had allowed himself to do was ignore both conditions, resulting in not only unnecessary exhaustion of energy, but the exposure of his own "soul" to her blade. And she was not going to give him a chance to take it back.

Her sword cut through his shoulder like butter, the gash deepening all the way to the back. Her slash made a much larger response than the one that connected with hers, blood reaching the size of half of his body as it sprayed out onto the hard ground. Now it was her turn to look on with blank, seemingly unfeeling eyes as she delivered the hard-hitting blow to him. But inwardly, she hoped that one blow would make him fall and release his sword.

That would be the action that would allow her to speak once more.

Shinshin's eyes were wide open, the realization just added to the shock as he saw his own sword cut in two and his technique failed to cut her deeply. The loud splurch of blood exited a large gash on his chest caused him to grunt and gurgle, dropping his broken blade as he began to struggle to stand. As his left hand clenched the bleeding wound, he breathed as he took one step forward, then another, closing the gap of the two combatants as his mouth leaked with blood and his breathing came labored.

"A-Asuka...chan...I...," he began speaking, holding up his right hand up to her midriff...

...and thrusting a hidden sword within the surgical slit within his palm with a vicious release to pierce her body within only a second.

"...can never forgive you...for leaving me to die...!" He snarled out to his former master and parental guardian.

"NNF--!"

That was when Asuka's eyes dilated in shock, as she had not been expecting the sudden attack on her person.

The sword ripped through her gut, and blood spilled from her mouth as her stomach was ruptured. She hunched over slightly, finding her grip loosening on her own katana due to the sudden spike of pain that had shot through her body. She hung her head once again, her body freezing in place. For a moment, she didn't move from her position.

Then, with a slow but steady hand, she placed it on Shinshin's person.

"There's really no excuse I can give you, Shin-chan..." She spoke lowly, hiding her head to keep her expression from being seen. "I left you in an environment where you were on your own, where everyone was an enemy and there were little to no friends. I really wish I could've taken you with me and that you could've actually grown to be my son...but..."

She finally raised her head up.

Her eyes were squinted shut, and she was smiling. However, the tears that trickled down her eyes were clear. "What good is it, sticking with a person that would become nothing but street scum in the future...?" She asked him, her tone soft. But it conveyed the broken tone that she had been trying to suppress. "You didn't deserve me as a mother... someone who chooses to die in the gutters rather than live their life to the fullest. You would've simply rotted away, and your potential would've faded completely. Would you really have wanted that...?"

"S-Scum?!" He uttered out, some of his strength returned as he saw the face of his master...no, his mother smiling at him, regardless of his vengeful and unforgiving spirit he mustered out, "I-I...I thought the world of you! How could I think of you any less?!...And look...where I've ended...up. I work for a man with a corrupt sense of honor...and...pride. Despite finding a new master, the hole in my heart never went away. I would have gladly...cast my body in your defense to keep you from dying in the gutters or the earth," with a slow and steady hand of his own, he grasped her hand as he began to shed tears of his own, his voice becoming grief-stricken yet softer, "I love you...mother."

It was the words that drove Asuka into action.

She dropped her sword and threw her arms around him, pulling her in her embrace. Ignoring the fact that he still had his sword buried in her stomach, she pulled her into his embrace. She let out a slight hiss when she felt the cold metal rip deeper through, but as far as she was concerned, it was a minor convenience. The real pain she felt was from her own cold distance wiped out by the actions that had passed between them. Finally, he had allowed himself to refer to her as "Mother". That was what she really wanted to hear from him...

"I love you, too..."

She spoke in a whispering, hoarse tone, wrapping a hand at the back of his head. Her other arm was wrapped around his back. The tears continued to fall from her face. "And I'm so sorry it had to be like this... but now, it's too late. You can't save me, and I can't save you. But, at the very least, we're still alive, and we're still breathing. So, the only thing I can ask of you..."

She gripped him ever so tightly.

"...is to please... suffer with me, until we can find the peace we all are looking for..."

"Th-Thank you, mother," he said as he slowly withdrew the blade from her gut and back into his palm, hugging her tightly a his face burrowed into her shoulder, wincing and hissing from his deep gash being pressed against her form. Despite the rain pouring on them relentlessly, he had never felt warmer than he had the last century.

"I-I have a way...for us to be healed quickly," he whispered as he withdrew from her embrace slightly, reaching into his left hand's sleeve, withdrawing a pouch. He then motioned for her hand to open, tapping a single red pill capsule into her hand before doing once for himself, "scars will form...but this is a far more effective way to heal your wounds currently."

"Hm?"

Although protesting slightly at him pulling away from her, Asuka was quick to pull it back after he dropped the red pill in her hand. She eyed it for a few moments, using her newly freed hand to wipe the blood that spilled from her mouth. "And where did you happen to acquire this, I wonder...?" She questioned softly. A small smile crossed her face. "I told you about drug dealing with strangers, Shin-chan..." Nevertheless, she popped it into her mouth immediately.

"Drugs are truly a universal term, mother," he said in a off-standish tone, rolling his eyes slightly as he swallowed his pill, allowing it to travel to his gullet before it began working its magic. Within a matter of seconds, a revitalizing sensation traveled from their guts up to the wounds, rapidly closing the gashes and fixing the internal damage, with only mild discomfort as they sealed up within faint scars on the surface.

With a grunt, Shinshin began to stand up before releasing some tenseness around where the muscles contracted and spasmed, explaining, "They work like miracles the first time around...but if you use more than one in less than six hours, they lose effectiveness, and will gradually lose all form of healing ability to our bodies entirely," he then looked to her and found her own wounds healed just as well as his deep sword wound, "how do you feel?"

Asuka drifted a gaze to her stomach, pressing a hand to it. "Yeah... just like it never happened..." She commented, rubbing it a little in order to make sure. She could feel a slight bump that indicated a left-behind scar, but nothing big. She did the same for her shoulder area that had been slashed prior to it. "Other than feeling a bit winded, I'm good as new!"

She turned her attention to her sword, stooping down in order to pick it up. "But... there is something I would like to tell you... about your particular form, I mean." She added, as an afterthought. There was a slightly humored tone in her voice, as if what she was about to say was somewhat funny.

Shinshin frowned at her, cocking his head in query as he breathed through his nostrils in suspicion, "What is it?"

"Tamajutsu..." Asuka began, grasping the hilt of her sword and standing up. Her back was facing him as she spoke. "Was not something made for the offensive and power-backed attacks like you had executed. I'll admit... if you were facing a Shinigami, Arrancar, or otherwise, I believe you would've certainly managed to deliver much more damage. In fact, if you managed to overwhelm them in that particular moment, you could probably waste them without breaking a sweat. However..."

She looked over her shoulder, her eyes taking him in. "If you continued to do that... channeling your very anger and emotion into a form that was meant to disregard such emotions... it would be only natural for that form to start rejecting it. Not only were you exerting more energy than what was necessary, you also left your personal "soul" exposed and vulnerable to my blade. Even if you did manage to keep your sword intact as well as avoid that last strike of mine, your body would've eventually torn itself apart due to you forcing your body to do something it wasn't trained to."

"I already know that...mother," he said in reflex, looking away as he rolled up some of his sleeves, showing what appeared to be darker scars than what his pills could heal on his forearms, with only slight traces outlining them, "I've specially...prescriptioned these pills to heal myself during my rigorous bouts of training. My body has slowly becomed attuned to this form of Tamajutsu, as long as I didn't lose myself to the emotions I harnessed, I couldn't harm myself. But as you noticed, this battle was far more personal than I anticipated, thus my lost of will at the end..."

He bent down and examined the cleanly severed half of his sword, holding it reverently up as he recovered the lower half as well, "I guess my resolve wasn't as strong as I thought it was...if Kakushin could be broken so easily."

Asuka twirled her blade around, sheathing her sword within its scabbard. "So you've made your own path out of it. I have my doubts..." A slow smile came across her face, and she pulled her hand from the hilt to place on her hip. "But who am I to say anything? You've grown away from me, and you've obviously come this far. I feel there is nothing more to do than to trust your judgement."

"Of course," he said with a small smile, tearing off a piece of his sleeve before wrapping it around his broken sword together, placing it within his sash with a satisfied sigh, "I doubt I would have done any different, regardless if you raised me or not. The only difference is that the gap of time and the anger that would've been erased, nothing more and nothing less. All I know is that as a man, I will honor you for the time you took to care and teach me, mother," he bowed slightly before looking around at the room, noticing the slight blue outlines that stretched across the sky and horizon, "it seems he has been defeated."

Vroooooommmmmmm...

Suddenly, all forms of smell and sight changed to a dull plastic and metalic scent, as the whole scenery flickered out of proportion and left them in a slightly scarred metalic wall, plastic ceiling and floor, bare of any real furnishings and properties other than plastic tiles, designed to absorb impact and damage. However, the scars left by their Tamajutsu techniques had left severe gashes and dents throughout, showing the scarring throughout the room to be very much different yet harmed nonetheless.

"And here I thought he'd last longer...I wonder who fought him," he asked absentmindedly when he noticed several cards from all four corners of the room fell and began spontaneously combusting, defused of any more power within them, "its all the better. He was a menace after all, and that's saying something about the Dokueki."

"Hm?"

Folding her arms across her chest, Asuka raised a hand to place on her cheeks, a thoughtful expression on her face. That was a clear indicator that whoever it was had been responsible for the setting that had been around them. "It was all fake...? A shame. I thought Xanxus would've had a much better decor in such a building than this..."

"My associate responsible for the change in scenery has the ability to form pocket dimensions from what he calls Kido Rift Cards. Apparently he has limited control over time/space, and his abilities have always proven formidable. I wonder who defeated him though...its strange that he'd be down quickly," he shrugged after considering it, beginning to walk towards the far exit with calm measured steps, "I think its time we wait up on the other side for your companions and allies to cross over, don't you, mother?"

"What about you?"

The thoughtful look faded from Asuka's face, turning to clear concern as she looked at him. She was quick to follow him, though. "I mean..." She paused, trying to look for the right words to say. "Wouldn't this be considered betrayal to your master? If he finds out you did not kill the intruder, won't you have to worry about retaliation directed towards you?"

"He won't," he turns his head to her concerned gaze as he continued walking across the dull room, "I suggested that he leave the matter to me and head down into the bunker. He's probably conserving his energy, not wanting to waste a single ounce so he could crush any of your companions that are too worn down before truly engaging the rest of you. His pride has always been his shortcoming, despite how well earned he has made it out to be."

He placed his palm on the door outline as he finished speaking, causing it to rise and allow them to enter what looked like his office, appearing to have a straight outdoor view of all of Tendan with no shading tint to the naked eye, only with a slight series of lines outside that would activate the tinted shutters. The desk was made out of expensive materials, and many decorations behind glass casings showed works of art as well as infamous weapons through Tendan's history. Various doors from all sides were shown, and would be confirmed as the "security" rooms, allowing the man in charge ample time to escape through a closet door on the far left side of the room, which was securely fastened and sealed behind him.

She had to admit it.

It looked pretty damn cool.

For a moment, she faded out of her concern in order gaze in wonder at the room, but especially paid attention to the windows that gave a clear view of all of Tendan. The previous room must've been specifically designed for his comrade's abilities. "Wow...!" She said lightly. "I have to take back what I said. It's a shame that this'll most likely go to waste once this is over and done with..." She immediately fell into silence afterwards, continuing to study the room in wonder.

However, it wasn't long before she resumed her slightly weary look. "Shinshin..." She said to him, her tone slightly saddened. "Really..." She folded her hands in front of her. "Thank you for this. I...I'm really not sure how I can ever repay you for helping me this way..."

"Your welcome," he said in a soothing, calm voice that had much more assurance in his actions and speech than he did earlier. He turned to her with his usual stoic, cool gaze to her as he said, "while I could say that this is familial obligation that I am doing this out of the kindness of my heart, I'm moreover doing this because I want to. With this end, I wish to return to your side and spend the rest of my days keeping you safe as well as learning more from what I do not know."

Best served cold, Vengeance of the Outcast!

"Honey, I'm home."

That was the sound of Angelika's sarcastic voice as she walked through her own particular area, her hands in her coat pocket.

Her lone eye was sweeping through the area. Much to her surprise, she had found herself within the slums of the Rukongai District... or at least, what was supposed to look like it. She found herself walking through an empty street littered with papers and trash. The sky was a dark orange, clearly in the late afternoon stages. The smell of alcohol, although faint, seemed quite applicable to everywhere in the air. All of the buildings seemed dark and old, as if they hadn't been used in a long time. It was the place she considered to be her home, as well as the home of V-14.

However, she could tell already that it wasn't what it seemed to be - due to obvious reasons.

It was clear to her that an enemy had put this up for her, waiting for her arrival. But what other choice did she have, other than to move forward? She would have to wait and watch things as they fell into place for the time being.

A sudden echoing could be heard throughout the air. A faint outline of a figure walking through the shadows of the alleyway to Angelika's left, with measured, purposeful strides. As the figure drew near, a voice rang out in acknowledgement of Angelika's drab deadpan tone, with a cheery yet undertone of menacing rang out back.

"Yooooooo, toots! How's it been, Angel Cake?!" The voice nostalgically broke out from the eery silence that bordered the footsteps he took, as a military drab mercenary appearing man approached. His black shades had a menacing reflection from the orange light from the sky, and a wide smile that stretched ear to ear to show his white canine teeth, looking like a prowler approaching its prey. It was none other than Heigo Sureiyā!!!

Abruptly, Angelika's footsteps stopped, rendering her still.

She did not move at all, turned to an angle in which her expression wasn't visible to him. However, it was clear that she recognized the male voice. But despite the tone of his voice, all she did was tilt her head back a little. She remained silent for a moment, almost as if she hadn't heard the question.

However, she did.

"Heigo." She muttered smoothly, closing her eye. "Of all the street scum that I've had to face, it happened to be you..."

BRACK, WHIIIZ!

A fiery red bolt of energy flew past Angelika's in a warning manner, as it exploded into a slum building, igniting it in a fiery pyrotechnic explosion, throwing a wave of ash and dust. His body now bore a clear picture, as where his previously lost left arm was now bore a tunic covering over it, appearing as if he still has no limb within the trappings.

His extended right hand bore a modified heavy Kido handgun/rifle, a trail of smoke rose up from the barrel as if it was a cigar extended from his mouth.

"I wouldn't be speaking ill of me, if I were you, Angel Cake. After all, you're just as twisted as I am and the rest of those sons of bitches that work for you," he kept a careful aim onto her person now, apparently wanting to flap his jaws a while longer as he kept his voice bearing upon her, "and despite my flaws, I was the best you ever had...and you threw me away! HA! You're fucking stupid for casting me out! And now I'll cast you to the dirt before plugging you full of your own shitty medicine, you butch-fucking tramp!"

"Best, huh?"

The calm disbelief in her tone made it clear that Angelika was not moved by what could be described as a frightening display of power followed by the angry, vulgar words. She opened her eye, folding her arms across her chest and turning her body slightly to face Heigo. "Funny. I seem to be running very well without your presence, as long as I have been. I've been doing jobs and getting paid handsomely for it. As good as you are, the best would require me to rely on them completely. But in the case of you? Don't make me laugh..."

A small smile came across her face.

"Now, put that thing away and step aside. I'm here to see your boss, not pieces of trash like you."

"Are you fucking kidding me, Angel Cake?"

Crack, WOOOSH!

Within a instant, Heido managed to rear a foot INTO the earth with a single step before propelling himself at incredible uncanny speed which reached her distance within only a couple seconds, aiming his gun at her as he yelled out at her, "He's the least of your problems now, bitch!"

BRA-BRA-BRACK!

With a series of synchronized shots of his gun at near quarters, his close distance of merely five meters allowed him to shoot with greater accuracy and capable of hitting her, as well as his sidestep maneuvers to move towards to keep from being shot easily. In a sense, he moved completely different from his time back in V-14. As if he became a physical powerhouse mixed in with the deadly shot he has always been.

With a side-step of her own, Angelika pulled out of the way, her arms unfolding and one of her hands reaching into the innards of her coat. She whipped out her golden HCA-50 Pistol, pointing the barrel at Heigo and pulling the trigger.

BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM!

As she kept up suppressing fire, her legs carried her into a backward run until she was into the alleyway. Then, she fell into a full-out retreat, her legs pumping as she continued to run deeper into the alley "networks".

With a swift series of inhuman dashes, Heigo avoided all of the shots, smiling eagerly as he returned fire against his former superior.

As he saw her running to disappear within the alleyways, Heigo yelled out mockingly, "So much for calling me trash, you shithead! You can't even fight me on even terms anymore! I can tell you why..."

With a few dashes, he leaped up onto a building top and his eyes glowed behind the shades, locking onto her overshadowed figure, raising his gun towards her area before firing off a series of high powered shots, "...I'm better than you, bitch!"

BRACK-BRACK-BRACK....BA-BA-BOOM!

As soon as the fiery red projetiles reached their destinations, they exploded violently around the building walls ahead of her and behind her, causing a explosive blast of flames and debris around her.

Standing with complete confidence, his tunic and dog tags flourished and jingled as he leaped to and from from building tops, before landing a few meters away from the bathing flames, eager to see if she survived the attack.

And sure enough...

Angelika's silhouette could be seen walking out of the flames, her hands reloading a fresh clip into her pistol. Her lone eye stared at Heigo the whole time, the only thing that could be easily detailed in her shadowed form. "And yet I still see this as a waste of my time..." She said coolly, approaching with an unflinching gait. "You're not doing very well if you're trying to convince me otherwise, Herr Sureiya."

She swung her gun barrel towards his standing form once again, once again unleashing shot after shot at him. All the meanwhile, she still continued to walk in a natural, yet menacing manner.

"Figures,"

he sidestepped to the side, surprisingly retracting his weapon as he moved his best to keep from being shot by the superior marksman,

"guess I got no choice but whip my bad boy out!"

As one shot flew past his head, it briefly illuminated his blue, cybernetic eyes and lit up his smile in a menacing tone, "Protocol Orion...ACTIVATE!"

As his words suddenly speak, a sudden whirring then reverberating thrum of machinery and fine tuning flared a bright blue light underneath his left side's tunic. As the next few shots flew forward, instead of dodging them...he threw his left arm, a biomechanical limb that pulsated and thrumbed, sending a field of shocking spirit energy out, lapsing with the shots she sent before it absorbed into a brighter blue light and into the veins of his revealed appendage.

The tunic flew off and singed from the bright light show, Heigo began speaking lowly as a form of Spiritual Pressure seemed to radiate from the limb, menacing and almost akin to a living being, "Don't take me lightly, Angelika," he said in a serious tone, one of the few times he referred to her real name, showing he was completely serious, "cause if you do...I will kill you!"

With a sudden toss of his left arm towards her, a arc of searing energy discharged towards her, ripping through the remaining parts of the walls of the slum ruins he created, snuffing out the flames and cracking through the air, causing a miniature shockwave in the world they fought in.

"The arm I sliced off...!"

That was when Angelika's eye widened in shock, seeing the energy race towards her...

BOOM!

Within an instant, she leaped up in the air and just barely avoided getting hit, her feet landing on the side of the building. She quickly ran upwards, her lone eye drifting behind her. "Seems like he has a new and improved replacement arm..." She thought to herself, her eyebrows slanting inward. "This is turning bad already... I don't think even my HCA has the stopping power to tear through that kind of power!!"

Tossing his gun to his pulsating bio-arm, a series of small pulses surged into the weapon, causing it to glow as he took aim towards his former superior, his eyes already peeling layers of superstructure and honing in on her spirit energy. Something he always knew about her is that out of all of the former V-14 members, she had the most imposing underlyingly powerful of them all. This made it easy for him to track her subtle spirit energy, despite her best to contain it, his advanced ocular implants allowed him to track her with ease.

With a powered jump, he leaped up the building that he had to briefly scale before racing towards her from above, aiming his gun towards her, "Nothing to say, bitch?! Did you even stop and consider that I might've changed somehow?! Do you think that one of the most powerful group of enforcers would enlist me with only one arm and the tricks I had back then?! HAHAHAHA! FUCK YOU!"

BLAAAAM, BLAAAM, BLAAAM!

His augmented shots came within one meter thick pyres of energy that scorched through the building, bursting flames in multiple directions as they came within breathtakingly close quarters, as he continued his assault mercilessly as he laughed in the most sinister, murderous fashion.

In the ensuing blaze, all there was to be was chaos.

Angelika found herself being pushed on the defensive, barely avoiding the relentless onslaught. The fire licked at her clothing, irritating the skin of her face as well as the other parts of her skin that was outside her clothing. But she continued to push herself back, away from what would've been an incendiary death and out to clearer air. Small parts of her coat, however, had caught on fire due to the close proximity of the flames.

"Damn it... I can't allow myself to get close to him... and my gun is useless... if this keeps up...!"

With a wrenching sound, Heigo's form dropped to the floor that Angelika rose towards, his gun held in his right hand against as his pulsating bio-arm smashed into the floor before him...sending a blast of spirit energy that enveloped the walls and ceiling, ripping apart the majority of the roof with its sheer concussive force. He intended to drive her back the way she came and out the building, and if she evaded, she'd be in for a nice surprise of his own...

"Wait a minute...!"

She saw a potential opportunity for a potential counter-attack.

She immediately shifted direction from retreat to attack. She lunged forward, skirting across the floor even as the destruction commenced. Then, as the blast of energy came within millimeters of her person, her form had vanished. In the midst of the destruction caused, she re-appeared behind him with one leg raised high over her head. She was attempting to use the very chaos he ensued against him as a distraction, her kick carrying enough power to cave his skull in and finish the fight early.

Her eye narrowed into a concentrating slit, and she swung her leg down, the heel well on its way to connecting with its target.

SNATCH!

With a dropping motion of his gun, as if it was worthless to him now, Heigo raised his wrist up and blocked the full force of the kick with ease. A thick smile bore on his face as his hand turned around and grabbed her ankle, using all his strength to throw her against the smoldering surface that now made up the building, with enough strength to sending her across to the other side of the wrecking slum infrastructure's now flat surface of rubble and smoldering ashes.

"Ah~!"

She couldn't react in time.

She had to shut her eye as she was thrown away from him with immense force, sailing through the air with her coat and hair billowing violently. However, this was not something that she couldn't recover from. As she slowly began to descend, she performed a backflip. The bottom of her boots skidded against the ground due to the intense friction, and she had to dig her fingers in the earth in order to stop herself quickly. When she stopped, she found herself on one knee, both of her palms bleeding slightly due to the heat.

"So I suppose this runt managed to gain some new moves while he was away..."

She slowly stood up, closing her eye. "Well, well... it seems you have much more fight in you than I thought you did. The runt finally grew his teeth."

"Ahaha, HAHAHAHAHA!" Heigo laughed aloud as he began treading slowly and purposely towards her, his arm radiating tendrils of thick, raw spirit energy, occasionally lashing out and spiking the ground and air around him, "you're still acting all cool and professional, like you stand a rat ass's chance of beating me! I find it laughable that you'd keep up the smooth criminal look even in the face of certain demise! Well then," he raised his left arm up as he continued get closer, a orb of energy crackled within his bio-arm's fist, "I'll just beat that dispassionate expression off your damn tramp face!"

"I don't want to use it..."

Despite her cool demeanor, one of Angelika's hands were shaking slightly as it lay at her side. It wasn't out of the pain of her skin sliding across the ground, but rather a mild apprehension that had been present from the very beginning of the fight. "My body is begging me to unsheathe my sword..." She thought to herself. "But... I can't. I don't want to see that metal ever again... I refuse to see it... I just can't...!!"

When he advanced too close, she found herself taking a few steps back in an attempt to keep the distance between them.

"You're trembling, Angelika," he said lowly, tilting his head to the side as he asked, "is it because you finally see that you can't beat me alone? That I'm so fucking awesome that you have no choice but to consider your options? Well,"

CRAAACK-WHIZ!

"...you can forget about kissing my ass, cause I'm too excited into killing ya! HA!" With a violent twist of his left arm in a left hook towards her gut, the energy crackled incredibly, and his body moved on its own accord to deliver the blow, intending on sending enough electric-focused concussive force that her body would be turned inside out from the punch.

Had it not been for what he said, she could've been able to dodge the attack.

However, it was that very line that caused her to freeze in place.

Alone.

That realization hit her as hard as the punch that had been delivered to her.

Her pupils dilated, and she found herself spewing blood from her mouth as her very innards shook with pain and agony. The force of the attack winded her, and she once again found herself flying away. However, this time, she could not bring herself to recover, bouncing and skidding across the ground like a kicked ball. When she finally rolled onto her side, she clutched her stomach and began to moan in pain. Electric shocks were coursing through her very organs, her body jolting and shaking with each and every spark. Even for her, it was a horrendous experience.

"I am alone. My subordinates are fighting their own battles. I am unable to contact them. There is no one but me and my opponent, and I never realized it until now..."

Slowly, she rolled onto her front, her forehead against the ground and her arms still clutching her stomach. With shaky hands, she planted her palms on the ground and tried to push herself up.

"In all my years... I would've never expected this from the likes of myself. I relied so heavily on my comrades to keep me from drawing my sword... that I forgot what it was like to be alone. I've been spoiled far too much, and it's costing me dearly. How could I have not noticed it before...? With all of my experience behind me, how could I have not...?"

She could feel a sickening feeling in her stomach once more, as well as the iron-tasting liquid come up in her mouth. And before she knew it...

"GACK~!!!"

She emptied her stomach's contents on the ground... which was nothing but blood that had pooled up. It spread out, staining her hands as well as part of her jacket.

"Mhmhmhmahahahahahaha!" Heigo laughed in the most evil, satisfied fashion as he witnessed his power throw her body through the air like a ragdoll, and then spot her vomitting blood, "the power I have now rivals that of the death gods who sit on their self-imposed thrones! I have wiped out whole platoons of soldiers with a single stroke of this arm, and now, I get to destroy the one bitch I loathe the most! Angelika Hartman!"

With a slow, steady and confident pace, Heigo walked towards her. His smile bore a wide, power-hungry and obsessive tinge to it, his shades glowed behind the tinted lenses, showing his cybernetic eyes boring onto her with a vengeful spirit of their own. With a flex of his bio-arm, a blade discharged from a hidden compartment within the metalic avarice, revealing a energy induced blade. The hilt was a rectangular, plain design with gray coloration with black borders and the blade itself was a thin silver ornate blade, coiling with spirit energy that spurted and flailed violently around it.

"Its only fitting I kill you with a sword, Angel Cakes," he twirled the blade around with his bio arm, making it hum and cut scorching sporatic marks into the ground below, just a few inches out of reach of the blade's actualy physical form, "and I'll make sure to do it slowly...I'll sever each of your limbs...make you writhe and scream in agony just like you made me feel, and have felt for the past decades!"

He approached her form, only a couple of meters stood between his absolute vengeance and Angelika's demise. He could almost taste that bittersweet feeling of satisfaction that everything has come full circle. All he needed to do...was to cut her into pieces!

"You are not alone..."

Underneath her lowered head, Angelika's lone eye widened completely.

"No matter what happens, Angel-chan, you are never alone."

She recognized it as her master's voice. It was a set of words that she had said in the years before they separated for so long. It rang in her mind so clearly, and she was almost rendered immobile by it.

"Even if they're not right at your side, they're still fighting with you. They're still fighting for you. They believe in you as much as you'll allow yourself to believe in them. Keep that in mind, and that fear will prove to be pointless to have. Continue to live on for the sake of your comrades, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if it is in this underhell for a world, continue to live on and be strong until the end of your days...make it a promise, okay?"

In her darkened expression, she allowed a slow smile to come across her face.

Then, summoning the strength to push past her agony, she sprung herself into action. Her body threw itself at him, her hand finally grasping the hilt of her sword. However, she swung with the sheath still around the blade. The sheath would be intact, and cutting power wouldn't be applied. However, the strength used would certainly blow him back a considerable distance away from her person if it connected with him.

"The FUUUU-?!?!" Heigo's eyes widened suddenly as her energy sprung out of his expectations and her form moved with a graceful, almost uncanny revitalized speed. Even as he raised his spirit blade, the impact by the sheathe alone was actually able to send him back...heels grinding across the burnt rubble ground that was created by his earlier attacks, causing him to twitch angrily and with pause, "how are you able to stand?! Why are you still fighting?!"

A taunting smirk crossed Angelika's face, even as she used her free hand to wipe away the blood that had fell down her chin. "Wouldn't you like to know..."

With that being said, she gripped the front of her coat and took it off, revealing the blue gi underneath. Her coat blew away gently, heading into the alleyway. She, however, took no attention to it, keeping her focus completely onto her opponent as she readied herself. Her sword was lowered in one hand, still having the scabbard around the blade. That was how she usually fought against attacks; the drawing of her sword would mean that she would cut down her enemy with one precise iaido attack.

She would uphold her promise.

"If you really want to use a blade to kill me..." She said smoothly. "Then clash it against my own first. No more toys."

Heigo couldn't believe what he was hearing. He was wiping the floor with her, actually injuring her the point of her being prone on the ground, awaiting a killing stroke. Now...she seemed like a totally different person. This change also led to a rage that boiled within Heigo since the day he screwed up on the mission, almost costing all of their lives, leaving a cool cold gaze of Angelika's before she cut off his "lucky arm", and kicked him out of V-14.

"NGRRRAAAAAAH!" He leaped at her with a high powered thrust of his legs, raising his spirit energy coated sword as he fell upon her as he slashed down at her in a violent, virbant diagonal cutting motion, intending on cutting her in two searing halves.

His strike was aggressive, full of power, and fitting to his style.

But it simply didn't match up to the expertise of Angelika.

With a thrust of her body forward and a horizontal arc movement of her sheathed blade, she struck his sword wrist and effectively parried the blow, while also aiming to throw him off-balance. At the eve of the arc, she grasped the hilt of her Zanpakutō with her free hand and unsheathed it in a horizontal iaido swing for his chest. It was a use of their close proximity in order to maximize the chances of striking her opponent.

It was this masterful use of swordsmanship that became Heigo's undoing.

As the perfect swing of her sheathed sword struck his blade and sent his powerful slash beside her, crackling and blazing a large gout into the ashen, rubble filled earth below them, while sending his adept body into a chaotic tripping motion forwards. This act of clumsiness left him open to the counterattack, as his eyes open wide as the cold medal flicked as fast as she moved, slicing through his abdomen and past his guts to the otherside.

The reaction was inevitable.

SPLIT, SPLURCH!

"Grruk, GAK!~"

Despite all of his body's modifications, the blow dealt to his torso was enough to knock the fight out of him, causing him to drop to his hands and knees as he held onto his sopping wet, leaking chest while hurling blood from his insides, threatening to cause aphyxiation before his untimely death set into motion.

"H-How...how could you possibly summon the strength to stand?!" He whispered hoarsely, now setting into shock as his body became more violently self destructive due to the damage, and less rational minded. He now wanted answers...answers he wanted to hear before he couldn't grasp them anymore.

"The humanoid body is capable of enduring immense amounts of punishment..."

Angelika flung the blood off of her blade before sheathing it with a click of the lock. "But sometimes, even when at its peak, it can fall under the pressure..." She answered, keeping her gaze locked in his. "So, in those occasions, the psychological catalyst known as a "motivation" comes to the surface. With a resolved mind, the body can go on to surpass limits that would have never been possible otherwise. Mine was the acknowledgement of my comrades - something that you abandoned in exchange for pride and power. Even though we're both lowlifes, that is the trait that makes you worse than I could ever be."

Her eye squinted a little.

"I hope that answers your question, because I prefer to be silent while I'm watching you take your last miserable breaths..."

Heigo growled, despite coughing on mouthfuls of blood and water, a sure sign his time was coming, he managed to look over her with a vicious sideglance, as his shades had flipped off during the assault on his body, so his blue flickering eyes shot into her single eye, "This...isn't over...Angelika!"

Then...with a sudden pouring of vengeance he began to growl as he shakily stood himself first onto his hands and knees, then up to a kneeling posture. With a intentense, vengeful gaze Heigo spoke clearly one last time, "Protocol...Ragnorok, Activate!"

SLAM, CRACK!

With a vicious cracking punch of his left arm into the ground, his arm began to beep warnings, ticking off a synchronized beeping as it began to count down from its repeated blips. Slowly, but surely, his arm began to arm the self-destruct charge within his bio-mechanical limb, intending on taking his own fading life in exchange in extracting his revenge. A thick, blood coated smile emerged from the heaving, dying man's face, "You have officially ninety seconds to make yourself scarce, Angel Cakes...before you and this whole place blows to kingdom come! Nghmhanaagrk, ahahahaha!"

So much for watching him die.

A slight frown came across Angelika's face, and her eyebrows furrowed. But she simply walked past the dying man without so much as glancing in his direction. "Very well. Have fun exploding into a million pieces, and give Yashin my regards when he goes there himself..." She said calmly, folding her arms across her chest as she walked. All she had to do was take a few steps...

WOOSH!

...and she was gone, the sound of a Flash Step being heard.

"NO!" As he saw, let alone felt her leave, he slammed his fist again and again, bypassing the selfdestruct countdown sequence manually as he tried to destroy the whole world immediately, "I will claw my way out of hell, do you hear me, Angelika?! I will not rest until I see your head on a pike! YOU HEAR ME?! I WILL KILL YOU, YOU BI-"

BEEEEEP!

Within a instant, his arm created the most magnanomious white flash of light, before a spherical explosion ripped him to dust within an instant, exploding over the entiriety of the slum-dimension, before folding in on itself within a fabric of rainbow light, imploding on itself...and turning into a handful of Kido cards.

Heigo Sureiyā has fallen.

The Most Thrilling Challenge! A Mismatched battle?!

"Wow. I was actually expecting something a lot more boring than this, but... am I in the right place?"

Yusuke was the third one to be met with different surroundings, blinking in curiosity and surprise as he looked around. Instead of a simple room, he found himself on the outside walking across a sidewalk. To the side of him were parked cars, all of them looking new. It was a night-time setting in a massive city, with the street lights turned on and the traffic lights working like they usually would have. However, there was one major thing missing.

People.

The bright city was abandoned, and not a single soul could be sensed for miles. It was surprising, to say the least. But, at least he could say that there would be no one to see him like this. He would feel out of place, what with his clothing and all...

"Yo!"

A magnified voice came from above, coming from a tall billboard sign with the silhouette of a overshadowed man with a equally out of place attire. His gi bore a open appearance of his muscular torso wrapped in bandages along with his forearms as well, spikey hair adorned his scalp with a red band wrapped around his forehead. A semi-interested look came upon him, before he leaped down, a dramatic flair of his clothing came about before grasping onto the hilt of a large bandaged weapon. With a mighty swing...

WOOSH!

...he created a synchronized, perfectly timed buffer of wind to slow him down while sending a dramatic wind that cast papers and dust in his wake, landing with a thunderous crack as his feet bore into the asphalt street, indenting it towards its center.

As he raised his head back up, he studied the person in front of him, with a expectant face adorned on his visage...only to find him making a incredibly blank expression, with a dry tone, "Wh-What is this? Ummmm...who are you? Are...Are you for real?"

"Eh?"

That was when Yusuke realized he was talking to him.

He raised his hands in front of his face, looking at his palms and blinking owlishly. "Um...well... I seem real to me..." He commented, switching his gaze from the stranger to his hands and back again. "Am I real? Are you real? Now that you've asked that question, now I can't stop thinking about it..." He frowned, sitting down and pinching his arm. "...no, that only works for when I'm dreaming, and I'm not..."

Now he had completely derailed himself from the situation.

"No, that's not it," he sighed with a cloud hanging over his head figuratively, before he began looking up to the sky, propping his massive bandage covered sword onto his shoulder that seemed to span longer than he was tall, "Shōgō! Shōgō! Can you switch with me?! This is a mistake...I don't fight girls...are...are you even listening to me?! Shōgō!"

As no vocal response was heard, Zaii sighed before turning to the boy ignorant of his gender, began scratching the back of his neck saying, "Ummm...sorry for the misunderstanding but...can't you just play dead and let me go take a nap? I really don't wanna fight someone not worth my time, okay?"

A tick mark came on Yusuke's face.

"Oi!" He complained, folding his arms across his chest while sitting down. "Firstly, I'm a boy! Don't know why everyone keeps telling me otherwise or what they told you, but they're wrong! Secondly..." He shut his eyes. "How do you know I'm not worth your time? You haven't even done anything other than talk to me, and you're not even a very nice conversationalist!!"

"Oh," Zaii mildly blushed, revealing a sudden embarassment of his unknowing attraction to the boy's physical appearance, "my bad," he cleared his throat before reexamining the boy. After a few tosses of his neck, trying to gauge him from every corner, he then snapped his finger, having a gleam sparkle in his eyes, "are you a ninja-type? Cause if you are, then I'd understand the getup and why you don't have much muscle build at all...though it wouldn't explain your effeminent appearance, but like I said, ninjas do that. SO just say your a ninja, and I'll start with a warm-up. Go on. Say it!"

Another tick mark.

"Idiot!" Yusuke snapped. "If I was a ninja, I wouldn't be sitting out here in the open right now, not to mention you would be dead already! That's why they're called "ninja" and not foot soldiers! They kill without you realizing you're dead until it actually happens!"

"That," Zaii pointed at Yuzuke promptly, a comical pulsating vein protruded from his forehead as he countered verbally, "is a myth! No one can kill a man without realizing they're dead! When you're dead, you know you're dead! End of story!"

"Yeah, after the first thirty seconds! Beforehand, you'll just think you've suddenly fallen asleep and in a dream! You won't realize that a ninja actually killed you! That's how good ninjas are!!"

"Hey!" He jabbed a thumb to his provocatively well toned chest, emphasizing, "I fought f'ing ninjas, you punk! They aren't as clever and stealthy as they tell you in bedtime stories! They aren't even that fast!"

He then blinked widely, rearing his back up to his full height again, sighing, "Well, if I don't do something I'll get a earful from Shinshin...and later the boss will yell at me. Great," he sideglanced at Yusuke while his front faced him, "can you fight, skirts?"

Slowly, Yusuke allowed himself to stand up, the comically angry expression reverting back to his curious one. Once again, he blinked owlishly, almost as if the question hadn't registered to him. However, his answered spoke otherwise. "Well, of course I can. I would've never entered through your door if I couldn't hold my own. I would be with Rika-chan right about now."

"Well then," Zaii said as he rolled his neck around and twisted around, the sounds of knots being unwound and tendons snapping more comfortably in place, "I suggest we have a little workout. Its been awhile since I've actually enjoyed a fight...the name's Zaii Futō, by the way, skirts. Remember it,"

WOOSH!

"...before you die!" He finished as he swung his bandaged covered weapon at him with a impressive speed, sending out a buffer of wind within a second of its wake, so much so it buffered the cars parked alongside the streets and nearly sent them sprawling on their sides or on their hoods.

The owlish expression didn't fade away.

All Yusuke had to do was raise his hand.

FLASH!

With a flash of light that passed through the area in a milli-second, the wind was forcefully dispersed. However, as it faded, several nearby cars had miraculously acquired slash marks deep through their bodies. They fell apart into separate, numerous pieces, clouding the ground with light dust. "I'm not here to "warm-up". I've got a mean old geezer to kill, and I wanna do it before Boss Lady gets angry at me for being late."

Zaii's eyes were wide with expressive surprise, having seen through the flash of light only for an instant, seeing what looked like nearly dozens of cutting wires of energy, all of which cut through the vehicles like they were nothing. He examined his bandaged sword, noting that some of the wrappings were cut but did not unwravel it fully.

Still...Zaii felt a sense of apprehension as the boy did this without the faintest of expressions or change in attitude. It was as if he treated everything in a child's perspective. If he didn't look so effeminately adulturated, he would've confused him as a all-powerful child with no real adept reasoning behind his antics other than to destroy those in his way.

A smile crossed his face as he raised his large wrapped weapon easily with one hand, saying, "Let's try that again, shall we, skirts?"

With a slight crouch, Zaii sprung at the kid with surprising speed for his size, reaching his location within a second, rushing past him. His smile gleamed ferally as his wrapped weapon flew with his traverse, aiming to catch him in the midriff with incredible strength, and send him flying backwards. He moved with speed and well-thought timing, though he still held himself back to see if he could learn what other tricks the boy had in his sleeves...or skirt for that matter.

Yusuke's childish expression did not change, even as Zaii sprung behind him. However, he didn't allow himself to move from his current position. With a swift movement of his hand, he brought behind his back. The palm was out, the fingers were pointed upwards. The blade slammed into his hand, and he indeed found himself pushed back.

However, his feet dug into the concrete, his stance tensing quickly as he felt the pressure of the blade. The palm of his hand glowed an immense blue as it held his sword. His other hand balled into his fist, and his eyes narrowed slightly. He could sense that the man, despite the power, had been holding back. It was already an incredible blow... but it was only a fragment of his full strength.

"Looks like I'll have to rip your head off to make you understand!"

With that being said, he expelled the energy built into his palm in order to parry the blade and leave Zaii open for a brief moment. Within that moment, he twisted himself around and thrust a palm strike with his other hand towards Zaii's chest. He was channeling spiritual energy through his blow so that it would have the power to cave the chest cavity in with one strike.

PANG!

The sound of the energy had actually made contact with the blade behind the binding cloth, something that took incredible penetration power due to its Spirit energy sealing properties. This display of courage and clamness made Zaii smile with enjoyment as he continued to flow with his body's instincts. The boy vaguely reminded him of when he first fought Shinshin...the cool attitude, the nonchalant speech, and his expertise with combat exceeding his own. He knew he had decided to make the right call...in facing this boy.

As the boy's other hand moved towards his chest, Zaii moved with adept flexibility as he backpedaled enough to keep him out of immediate harm, grasping the boy's wrist, and then...slamming the shin of his left leg, intending on sending him sprawling away with held back strength, not wanting to immediately crush the boy's torso in with a single strike.

"I'll admit," Zaii said as he skirted back away from the boy, narrowing his eyes with anticipation, "I guess normal means aren't going to deter you, are they?"

"Ah!"

A yelp escaped Yusuke's lips as he was sent away, but managed to backflip and land safely on his feet. He settled into a stance, his open-palmed hands poised defensively. "Sticks and stones may break my bones... but words will never hurt me." He answered readily, putting on a small frown as he locked his gaze with Zaii's. "Especially not words that attempt to scare me into backing down!"

"Wouldn't have it any other way," he said with a eager grin, showing off his teeth as he held his sword at a horizontal view towards the boy. He grasped a loose piece of shredded cloth that was at the base of the weapon, pulling it fluidly...letting the cloth come off the gargantuan sword, revealing a arrow-head shaped blade, gleaming brightly for a instant off of the moonlight and neon bulbs that cast radiance all over the streets.

VRRRRRRRRRMMMMMMMM!!!

A sudden pulsation of Spiritual Pressure emanated from the blade, and in turn, radiated from Zaii's own body, causing a united front of violent spiritual pressure, shaking the air and ground, distorting everything visibly as if it was static. Bright blue energy bathed off of his body before forming a slight avatar of a shrouded demon that bore blazing blue eyes upon Yusuke.

"Now that the kiddy gloves are off,"

SWING, SSSSRRRRCHKING!

"...its time I got serious with you, and just hope you live long enough to make it worthwhile!" He gleamed with a glowing pair of eyes, smiling at the boy as his inadvertent slash behind himself caused the massive ten story superstructure to be sliced cleanly within a blinding light of movement, causing it to crumble down with tremendous force in on itself before sending a few parallel structures crashing as well, sending a wave of smoke and debris flying past him.

Zaii began starting a twirling motion with his right hand, should've been physically impossible for a incredibly large blade, before he stopped it and lanced forward with the blade towards him...causing it to extend indefinitely with incredible force, sending the same width and girth metal towards Yusuke with incredible speed, making it hard to dodge upon instinct.

Yusuke couldn't lie.

Seeing the man's strength as he tore through the building with ease made him shiver a little in anticipation, a smile coming across his face. He knew Angelika would only scold him for wasting time fighting someone who wasn't their main target. But if he didn't fight, it would only prove to be much more troublesome in the future. He would just have to enjoy himself for the time being.

WOOSH!

A jerk to the side allowed him to avoid the blade, the killing edge scratching his skin. Such a small wound did not phase him, as he threw himself at his opponent once more with his own grin on his face.

As the blade retracted within moments, Zaii grinned as he swung the blade around with a stunning grace. Using his innate monsterous strength, Zaii maneuvered the large cleaver around as if it was a mere katana, swinging to and fro at Yusuke's small, lithe form, each slash would home in on its target and aim to cut him to pieces. While the majority of his sword wouldn't hit Yusuke at first, using it with such incredible swordsmanship, Yusuke will eventually be marred with so many flesh wounds that he will slow down or evade too soon for his blade to reach its mark.

All the while, Zaii didn't laugh manically nor give off insults to his opponent. He just smiled, and continued to do so as he felt the exhilerating feeling of adrenaline and spiritual power rushing through his veins. While he explicitly held back a portion of his true strength and spiritual prowess that he showed off in the beginning, his aim was to match his opponent's speed, not crush him entirely. If he missed the boy once while expending a large portion of energy, he'd surely be left at a disadvantage, so at the moment he relied solely on physical prowess outweighing the other young man's.

Yusuke had to admit it.

Zaii was strong.

However, he could also tell that the man was still holding back his true strength, based from the way he moved as well the power he could sense with each and every strike. With quick, acrobatic, and evasive leaps of his own, he managed to avoid the attacks directed towards his person. Whatever strikes that he couldn't dodge were blocked with the same method he had used to block the initial strikes; the build-up of energy within the limb threatened to be cut off by the sword. However, he had also allowed himself to stop his advance, sticking only to defensive and evasive movements.

If he didn't want to be serious, then he would just have to find a way to force it out of him.

Zaii was glad he released his sword's bindings.

This boy moved like, for lack of better terms within his mind, a bonofide ninja. With each swing and lunge of his sword moving at incredible speeds in their own right, the boy could evade the majority of them, while using his technique what Zaii liked to call, the spirit fist. He knew he'd really have to release the sword's true powers if he wanted to actually land a blow against him.

After one last parry of spirit fist and blade, Zaii shimmered out of view, moving at a speed reminiscent of a Flash Step, appearing high above him as he readied his blade with a shadow cast over his face.

"Kaen Sakugen!!!" (火焔 削減 kaen sakugen ; Eng Lit Translation, "Blaze Cut,") He yelled over him, a stream of red energy enraptured his blade as he swung down towards Yusuke's general vicinity, swinging down with a single hand...

...sending a fissure of hot, torrentially cutting energy towards Yusuke, aiming to take down the entire street towards what looked like a crossroads within the metropolis, searing through the buildings for a good city block with ease, while burrowing a deep searing trench that spurted fire and sparks from the shockwave that was created. The power was unrivaled, and there was a good reason why Zaii was a myth within Tendan. His monstrous strength began to testify it, as well as his sword's capabilities.

He stared down, a red light reflected off of his eyes as he searched out for Yusuke's form, aiming to see him alive and waiting for a follow-up attack. Resting the hefty blade onto his shoulder, the shimmering moon gleamed off of him, making his visage glisten in a halo affect. A Angel of Death if anyone had seen his form at that moment and was alive to see his attack.

In the midst of the attack, Yusuke had acted with swift and appropriate action.

Crouching down, he slammed his hands into the earth. A swift, solid barrier made of spiritual energy surrounded him. From the appearance of it, it appeared as if it had been constructed from glass. When the energy attack collided with his defense, Yusuke gritted his teeth and had to flinch upon the initial impact. In the opening rifts that could be seen occasionally within the energy that billowed all around him, he could see the very road around him and his particular area consumed.

Truly, this was a strong foe.

But Yusuke did not plan on staying in one spot for long.

He leaped as soon as he had the chance to do so, bursting out of the destruction and performing an acrobatic front-flip as he ascended towards his foe. However, he stopped halfway, his hands' fingers positioned like claws. He swung them in a violent, aggressive motion - one that seemed to be pointless considering that he was no where near his target for close-range. However, Zaii would see those very same flashes that had cut through the cars head straight for him this time, the tendrils barely visible.

Zaii had to believe what he was seeing.

This boy was truly a considerable threat for him to survive the onslaught of Kaen Sakugen, even if he had used a form of Kido barriers to shield or toss away the incinerary cutting power.

But he had already expected him to survive, hence why he used it. As the boy flipped towards him, he began swinging his hands out in claw-like gestures. From mere photographic memory from the midst of earlier combat, he remembered exactly what happened...the cars that were turned into scrapped metal, and the cloth was cut seamlessly through to his blade.

"You're good kid," he spoke lowly as his body acted in accordance to his instincts, grasping the hilt of his sword with both hands, something that should be visually distinctive compared to his earlier fighting style of using only one hand, "but showing me a form of combat to me even once, spells your doom to use it again."

SWING, CRRRAAAACK-SLICE!

With a single focused vertical swing of his blade that was so fast the eye couldn't see. What followed the swing was intense friction that billowed the air, rupturing it to the point it billowed a fissure of flames. Mixed in with his vast Spiritual Power, the flames gave off a wide blue aura with a yellow hot center that repelled the nigh-transparent cutting ribbons before heading towards the boy with full intention of ripping him apart with its devestating cutting power.

"Ryōtetō kōhai.....Kyūta...,(両手刀後背, キュータ, Ryoutetou Kouhai, Kyuuta; Eng Lit Translation, "Two Hand Sword Style, Executor,")," he whispered in the wake of his sword form's technique, awaiting a reaction or counterattack from his foe as it barreled upon his form.

And of course, he was going to get one.

Yusuke's grin became open-mouthed as he swung his fingers out in front of him, moving them in a manner similar to how a puppetmaster would control his puppet. The wires, when they were repelled, were summoned back to his person. They manipulatived, forming the shape of a condensed and tightly knit web that acted as a massive shield in front of him.

BOOSH!

The energy collided with it, being halted in his tracks.

The loose ends of the web extended into multiple strikes that raced at their target. However, this time, they were moving in order to flank and surround his body before lunging in. This maneuver was made to make evasion against the wires much more difficult to handle.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Zaii spoke aloud in increduality as he saw the ribbons of energy manipulated around as if they were solid constructs attached to the boy's fingers. Seeing the demonstration of its earlier cutting power, Zaii realized that by condensing all of the spirit cutting power into a shield, it could easily stop the cutting power of Akire with ease, if utilized correctly.

As he saw the wires return back for another attack, Zaii began backpedaling, noticing that they began moving around his flanks and made it harder to dodge them. With a narrowing of his eyes, he grasped his sword and crouched within the air, not moving before the wires completely surrounded him...then counterattacked.

"HA! RH! AH! GRH! AH! TSK! RAAAAAAAH!" Zaii grunted out as he swung his massive blade in a series of arcs while standing still, creating a whirlwind of motion with his massive blade, and repelling all of the wires surrounding him with amazing speed and timing, before they were all deflected once more.

"I finally get it," Zaii said aloud as he narrowed his eyes at the boy in understanding, "you're manipulating countless spiritrons from your own Spiritual Power's energy, condense and bend them into finitely transparent blades. Doing this you can maneuver them with a almost unpredictable pattern and quickly withdraw them to form a highly dense spiritual energy barrier, trading the cutting power for a ultimate defense. Its quite a sadistic technique you have there, skirts...," he smiled with admission in recognition in his opponent's abilities, despite his first impression and effeminite appearance.

"D'OH!"

Immediately, Yusuke slumped down, promptly allowing himself to fall back to the ground and on his posterior. He sit down in an Indian-style, folding his arms across his chest and a childish pout on his face. "I didn't want to spoil it~!!" He whined. "Now you've gone and taken the fun out of it..."

"You don't reall sound like a vicious killer that Rai-sama would hire," Zaii said blankly at seeing the childish display of his youthful opponent, "look here, skirts. I'm not exactly apt in killing you considering you don't seemed entirely inclined on killing me. So, how about you either back off or make me an offer better than Xanxus is making. If you can't provide either one, then I guess we'll duke it out till one of us is bleeding all over town. What's it going to be?"

"Well..." Yusuke curiously looked back up at him, a pinky finger idly picking his nose. "I can try to, but I can't guarantee that Boss Lady'll like that I'm dealing with the enemy. What was the old geezer's offer to you?"

"The most thrilling battles imagined!" Zaii said with a fiery conviction, his body comically shrouded with flames of passion and battle lust as he fist pumped in the air. Then he sheepishly smiled flipped his lips, "and a decent pay cut, but that's about it..."

"Even if your opponents were the most feared enemy known in the underworld, you would want to fight them?" Inwardly, Yusuke was hoping that he could get as far as he wanted to before he offered his proposal to Zaii.

"Hell yeah!" Zaii said with a feral grin, his body filled with excitement of the thought of doing so, "saying a individual is not worth killing, is a disgrace to my inborn warrior blood. For battle is in my blood, and I've shed thousands of beings all of which were worthy equally within their own rights. I've proven myself time and again as the strongest warrior, and I've always came ontop," Zaii then looked upon Yusuke, swinging his sword around before stabbing it into the ground, causing the earth to split on either side, sending slabs of asphalt and concrete uprising with the force using, "can you promise me that I'd find such worthiness within the battles you face, skirts?"

"Eeyup!" Yusuke's squinted his eyes and smiled cheerily at the display of strength and power. "As a matter of fact, we're facing down two of the strongest organizations known to man! The Gotei 13, if not the 10th Division only, and the good ol' Inner Circle! Don't know much about the Soul Society, but even a Captain would have trouble dealing with the gunmen of the I.C., let alone one of the Dragons themselves. Not to mention, we usually get paid a lot of cash for completing our jobs successfully. Donno what Xanxus's been paying you, but a few missions with us'll make you filthy rich ten times over!"

Zaii's eyes open wide, the two organizations clicked into the back of his accute mind and recollection. After a long wide-eyed stare Zaii smiled widely, chuckling aloud before laughing in a almost manic way as he grabbed his face over his eyes he laughed so hard.

"Now I get it! It all makes sense! HAHAHAHAHAHA! You're the infamous V-14 that has been dealing with the Soul Society's Seireitei Gotei 13! Imagine the luck I've had to actually fight one of you lucky bastards," he then lowered his eyes back level to Yusuke's, "and you're telling me, of all the criminal organizations you've had to get into a tangle with, you actually got on the Inner Circle's bad side?! HAHAHAHAHA! Incredible! This is so f'ing awesome! Screw that bastard Xanxus, where do I sign up?!"

Unexpected Developments, The Most Dangerous Target Acquired!

"Well, details can only be worked out by the boss..." Yusuke commented, his grin fading into a more curious look again. "But you could probably come with us and ask her yourself. Just show me the exit to this place, and I'll get right to it."

"Right!" Zaii said with a snap of his fingers, lifting his sword up and hefting it onto his shoulder before turning around and shimmered for a distance. After stopping near the building construct that looked like the Empite State Building, the door in front of it was glowing slightly around the recesses than the other doors. He reached out for the handle and opened it, a bright light enveloped himself as well as Yusuke as he followed.

On the other side, they found they were not alone...

Shinshin was in the middle of a conversation as Zaii walked through with Yusuke in tow. At first, Zaii took a pause, blinking owlishly before pointing out to his leader, "So...you too?"

"Zaii," Shinshin said with a nod, saying in a not too surprised manner, "shouldn't be surprised that you decided to switch sides when you found a reasonable opponent."

"My, my..."

The voice of Asuka could also be heard, and her figure could be seen right beside him, her arms folded across her chest and her katana sheathed to her side. "Of all the outcomes, who would've thought this to be one of them? Looks like we didn't have to kill our opponents, after all!"

"Well," Zaii said with a eager grin, raising up a curled fist as he spoke, "when I heard that this here boss lady could give me as much battle as I want, the toughest ones in fact, and give me a filthy rich salary...whom am I to decline a generous offer like that?!-"

"Not everyone survived..."

A voice suddenly pierced the air, as another door opened revealing partially singed, shirtless Shito came in. With only a mild scalding and a few cuts, Shito didn't seem to be out of breath, as his defined muscular form coiled and flexed in front of everyone. What was different was that he held a deck of royal blue, golden iconic enamored cards in his left hand, "I killed their Kido expert...I think it dropped all the dimensions' properties that he had control over."

Of course, Asuka had the decency to blush slightly upon seeing the exposed muscular form, her fingers slapping themselves in front of her mouth. In order to keep her feelings from being revealed even more, she allowed herself to remain silent and hope that someone else would take up the conversation.

"The one known as "Heigo Sureiya" also did not survive."

A cool, yet feminine voice spoke up, and the figure of Angelika approached with her arms folded across her chest. A coldly serene expression, despite the blood running down a corner of her mouth, could be seen as she approached. It was also clear that her coat had been left behind. "Though, I wasn't expecting any of the enemy to have been spared. What exactly happened that made them turn to our cause?"

"Zaii-san decided to join up with us because I told him who we were fighting against!" Yusuke chirped. "He really liked the idea of taking on people such as the Inner Circle!"

"HELL YEAH!" Zaii smiled widely, putting up a peace sign that pointed straight up to the ceiling of the office, "fighting against the elusive, infamous criminal syndicate and the Captains of the Gotei 13...I'd be dead and stupid if I said no!"

Shito arched a brow at this, then realized with a silent dread he was just like everyone else in Omega Team. A battle hungry dog.

Shinshin looked over at Angelika briefly, before looking back to Asuka, and then back again, "So...you're my mother's other student I see. Its a pleasure to meet you, Angelika Hartman."

"...mother...?" Angelika couldn't help but quirk an eyebrow at the statement.

"I'll explain it all later..." Asuka said, lowering her hand from her mouth. "But, as of now, we'll have to focus on what we're doing. Where is Yajū?"

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!

Nearly all of the rooms that the team had traversed through suddenly exploded along with the safety glass to the outside building in a magnificent display of smoke, red & orange flames. Out from the startling devestation, Yajū emerged with only a handful of sword wounds enamoring his muscular tattooed torso and arms. He had a slight, carniverous smile on his face as he held his scythe over his shoulder, fresh with blood, "Hey boys and girls!~"

Shito sighed in relief, having barely raised his arms up in defense in case the enemy decided to launch an attack upon them. "Should've known you wouldn't lose now...nice work, Yajū."

"I take it that everyone is intact?" Angelika questioned, looking over her team with a bit of sternness. "Once we get to Xanxus, there won't be another chance to correct any mistakes that can be corrected here." After this, she switched her gaze from one person to another. In truth, she wasn't sure about the survivor's of Xanxus's defense. So she made sure to remain silent and let them speak up on it as an unspoken question.

"I'll give you my blades, Angelika-san," Shinshin said in a smooth, calm tone as he looked upon her with a cold confidence, "as long as you need them, I'll fight on your behalf."

"Heh!" Zaii said with a wide, battle-hungry grin as he adjusted his sword on his back, "just give me a target, and I'll anihilate it! Don't care if its my boss or not, as long as you keep your end of the bargain once this plays out, I'm your number one man!"

"Don't get full of yourself, samurai joe," Yajū sneered at him, standing up to him with his own weapon hefted on his own back, "cause I still don't like you, and I could give a shit about your skyscraper sized ego!"

"Maybe being on top is better than being on bottom, voodoo!" Zaii barked back with a anticipationary grin, his forehead sparked back to Yajū's with conflict, as they both glared heatedly at each other.

Shito sighs, his head hanging with a dark violet cloud of depression, "I really hope this guy doesn't join the Omega Team...I really do hope that..."

It made Angelika's eyes widen, as well as Asuka's.

To help them was one thing. But in this situation, fighting against their own boss was another. To hear Shinshin say that he would be willing to aid their enemy was a shocking thing, to say the least. Angelika, however, was aware of the simple fact that if they were so willing to betray their boss, then they were also capable of turning the tables on the V-14. The German woman didn't hesitate to bring this to the light.

"You're proposing to help us? For what reason?"

"Are you deaf?! I just told you," Zaii broke away from his intense glare with Yajū, hefting his sword to point at Angelika, more out of comical emphasis than threatening with the large weapon, "bring me the best damn battles possible and you have my sword, I could hardly care less if your pay is less or more than the old man's! Give me blood, and my appetite is sated, that is it!"

Shinshin looked at Angelika, not changing his composed stoic stare at her as he answered her in kind, "You are my student-sister, one who has both walked the path of student and apprentice to Sakamoto-dono as I have. Aiding you would by extension aid my mother, so that is all the...motivation that I require."

"Well, when you put it that way," Shito nodded his head in understanding, cupping his chin with his hand while curling the other hand around his chest and holding up his elbow, "we still kicked the majority of their asses in these battles. Even if they decide to aid Take at the last second, we still have a numerical if not power-field advantage over them."

"Very well... I'll trust that to not happen here..."

Taking a deep breath, Angelika unfolded her arms across her chest, turning her gaze to Shinshin. Then, she turned it towards Zaii. "I want you both to lead us to him, considering that you are more familiar with this building than we are."

"I'll lead the way," Shinshin said first, moving towards the entrance before Zaii could even utter a word.

"H-H-Hey hey hey!" Zaii called out after him, swinging his sword precariously in a wide arc that narrowly missed both people and inanimate objects, "I was going to show them! Shinshin! Shinshin! Stop ignoring me!"

Shito twitched slightly as he smiled a wry smile, "They're about as disorganized as a bunch of dogs...not saying much better for Omega, that's for sure..."

Shinshin moved towards the far door, before placing his hands on either side of the door itself...and pulled on the trimwork, revealing secret levels that opened the door itself, causing it to raise itself into a recess within the ceiling. Behind it was a large black disk shaped floor with a circlular padded white wall and ceiling.

"If everyone comes in after me, I'll explain how this works," Shinshin said as he walked into the room, unphased by the irregular ripples that formed when he walked onto the black, borderline-liquid floor towards the far side of the room.

The sight made Angelika's eyes furrow a little, and she tilted her head to the side as she watched him. The ripples that had formed when he had stepped onto the floor made it seem as if he was walking across water. If it were not for that, she would've compared the room to a solitary confinement in an asylum. That alone reminded her of the potential danger she was trying to avoid - a trap. But the majority of her team seemed to trust them, and Shito had presented an outcome to the situation in where betrayal was inevitable. Although it was a worry, it was minor at best.

As she walked in with her company in tow, she reached a hand up to her earpiece and clicked it. "Frau Nakamura?" She spoke into her microphone. "Xanxus's defense has been effectively dealt with, and we are approaching the target himself. Have you acquired the necessary information?"

"Yes, ma'am!" Was the quick response. "What should I do?"

"The defense within that area has been neutralized. Make your way to the extraction point and maintain a close eye from the air."

"Of course..."

As soon as everyone arrived inside, Shinshin walked to the center of the moderately sized dome-ceiling room, his feet rippled the surface as he began to speak, "This is a Time, Spacial transportation chamber. Through this, our team has been able to be deployed in any number of places within Tendan Daakusaido. However, with the right adjustments, this chamber can lead to a specially sealed complex within the underworkings of our corporation's superstructure. The only ones able to navigate to and fro without being trapped within Xanxus's "panic" room, if you will, is Take himself and Shougou, using his Kido Rift Cards..."

"I was figuring that's their alternative purpose," Shito muttered as he looked at the stack of blue, golden rimmed cards in his hand.

"Yeah yeah, we all know the gist of things now," Zaii said with a bored, blank face on, emphasizing his impatience with his free hand, "can we get going now?"

"Doesn't seem logical to place themselves in harm's way when they're the ones riding the boat with us," Yajuu spoke up, shrugging as he took a look to Asuka and Angelika, "and I don't think he's lying either..."

"Its your call, Angelika-sama," Shito said with a respectful nod to his superior's direction, "shall we take this ride to the endgame?"

"I came here for Xanxus's head." Angelika answered coolly, her face showing nothing but cold serenity. "I will not settle for anything less than that. We continue to march forward and bring an end to this man's legacy once and for all."

"Right behind ya, boss lady!" Yusuke added.

"We'll all lend our swords to end his life, if that's what it takes..." Asuka agreed.

Shinshin then closed his eyes, speaking cooly in acknowledgement, "Very well. I will begin now..."

Shinshin then splayed his legs into a stance while waving his hands in a slow, methodical manner akin to that of a maestro of a orchestra, chanting as he did so, "Within the center of the universe, there is no fear nor courage, only tranquility. The demon of the dark cloak of shadows hides behind the light, and the angel that shines produces that demon's shadow. I move my left hand,"

ZOOOM!

Within a measured graceful maneuver of his left hand, the room thrummed with energy, and a tendril began streaming out towards his left hand, keeping it still as he moved the other,

"...and I call upon the heavens to pierce oblivion. With my right hand..."

ZOOOM!

another thrumming, this time slightly louder as the room began pulsating with blue light and wrapped everything within it a very light, almost weightless spiritual pressure, making everyone's bodies, including Shinshin's nigh transparent,

"...I traverse the void in order to collapse the stars! Surpress, Silent, and Acknowledge my command as the wanderer of the heavens and oblivion!"

Then, with a dramatic thrusting of both hands together, he called out in proclamation as he slammed them into the black liquid floor, "Hakubo Hashi!" (薄暮橋 hakubo hashi ; Eng Lit Translation, "Twilight Bridge.")

THRUM! THRUM! THRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM-!

Within a series of magnanomious pulses, all of the people within felt a weightless rush, bordering euphoria and death, as their bodies decomposited into transparent bodies of spiritrons, each of them different colors depending on their individual spiritual pressures. As soon as the flash of light touched the black floor surface, the floor opened up into a rainbow vortex rushing all of the bodies into a vortex of lights, weightless oblivion...

...before they all reformed, within an instant, and landed onto a padded vast chamber, with all of them landing face first.

BONK!

"OW!"

Yusuke was the first one to jolt up from the violent and abrupt ending, clutching his face and yelping in somewhat exaggerated agony. "My face!" He yelled. "My nose! My eyes! My cheeks! My teeth! My forehead! My ears..."

His two female compatriots were in an equally comical position.

Angelika was lying on her stomach with an elbow propped on the ground, her cheek buried in her hand. Her other hand was tapping its fingers idly against the ground. Her expression conveyed clear annoyance. Asuka was laying on her back face down in a similar but less organized position, her own expression conveying clear surprise. None of them got the better stick out of the cup.

"OW, DAMMIT!" Yajū landed on his forearm and back, as he had instinctively whirled out with only a moment to react, then unceremoniously slapped onto his back, his scythe clattered on the ground in kind, "the hell is wrong with you people?! Can't you people land us on our feet-?!"

"What are you talking about, Yajū?" Shito asked, as Shito had surprisingly landed with ease on both hands, giving Yajū and the others a surprised owlish blink, "none of you could land on your hands?"

Shinshin had managed, mysteriously, on his feet while his partner had his head indented into the padding, comically standing errect and holding his blade to the side, "You've obviously have just learned that those who don't know how to flow their Spiritual Pressure within Hakubo Hashi, experience the ultimate humiliation."

"MPH, HRM PHEW!" Zaii muttered, waving his left hand and shook his swordhand in indignation at Shinshin's verbage.

"Its not my problem if you can't understand the procedure in harnessing your spiritual energy correctly," Shinshin said dismissively, not even sparing him a glance as he cupped his hands within his sleeves, folding his arms over each other.

Slowly, Asuka brought herself up to her feet and extended a hand for her former student. "Are you all right, Angel-chan?" She questioned, earning a slight glare from Angelika as she accepted the gesture and allowed herself to be pulled up.

"It's nothing that hurts me very much..." Angelika answered, turning around. "And besides... I've heard of much worse types of humiliation than simply falling onto your face. Now let's keep moving."

"That won't be necessary..."

A voice, both elderly and subtly powerful, spoke within the padded chamber, that took on more of a Dojo-like appearance, as there were walls made of paper and lanterns of feudal crafting, that gave the chamber light. On the far side, a elderly man matching the descriptions that were given to V-14 as none other than Take Xanxus sat in a indian style position, with a sword beside his left flank. His hawk eyed gaze and sharp brows pierced at all of them with a subtle wrath that burned into anyone's eyes gazing back.

"...because, as you can see, I don't need to skulk in the shadows like a common criminal."

Silence swept through the ranks, and even Yusuke had stopped his comical ranting.

The man radiated with an aura of power that could be felt throughout the entire room, and that wasn't just in his reiatsu. The confident way he sat, the hawk-eye glare he sent their way, and even his very presence was next to impossible not to be noticed. Slowly, Angelika and Asuka turned to face their new enemy with varying expressions of anticipation and apprehension. Neither of them spoke a word, and thus the silence only thickened.

Then, Asuka allowed herself to speak up.

"Ah. You must be the man we were looking for..." She spoke lightly, squinting her eyes shut and putting on a small smile. "Yusuke-kun, say hi to Grandpa Xanxus for us."

"Hi~!!!" Yusuke was quick to oblige, his hand flailing around like a dolphin fin as he waved it. "Hi, grandpa!"

"Your prodding doesn't impress me, woman," he said in a swift, aged grunt glaring at her in particular before his eyes reaced over to the now standing subordinates of his, "but your ability to negotiate...does."

"There was no need to negotiate with us to simply betray you like any half bit thug under your command would, Xanxus," Shinshin spoke with a piercing coolness, but had a slight bitter edge to it, as honest feelings about his mentor came to boil over, "because unlike the masses who you barter and swindle over to your side like the flies you have swarm over this society, we have our own goals that need to be fulfilled."

"I knew you'd eventually leave my side, Shinshin," Take said as he momentarily closed his eyes, almost as if reviewing the time he's had with him, "your need for a master was the equivalent of a child who needed a foster parent. And it seems you need to leave my side and strike out like a man. Such noble actions...are not honored by me for the likes of you, fool!"

"You sure talk big," Zaii now stood tall as he rested his large sword onto his shoulder, the length of it almost reached halfway up to the feudal dojo's ceiling, "for someone who's completely outnumbered."

"Zaii," Take then turned his attention back to his other subordinate, "have I not given you enough battles? Have I not rewarded you handsomely for your work? I'd thought of you like my favorite...simpleminded and not needing any complex reasoning to follow me other than wanton for destruction and the thrill of the hunt. So...why have you turned?"

"I'm going to kill the Head Captain of the Gotei 13, Furuidenshō Kakkotaru Shin'nen," he said with a wide-eyed smile and chuckle, earning most of the other V-14's members stares. Even Shinshin looked a little...unnerved as his eyes dialated with a borderline impressed if not completely offbalanced look, "and then, I will kill off the Four Horsemen of the Inner Circle. Being stuck here, in the dark side of heaven...there's no point in fighting if all I do is slay millions of ants! But...if I fight gods...REAL gods...then my ultimate challenge will be met!"

WOOSH, CRRRRRAAACK!

With a large swing of his sword, the entire infrastructure billowed and condensed as his Spiritual Pressure cracked and sizzled the surface around his feet, a blue aura encased over his body as he set his glowing orbs and his crackling cleaver towards his former master's position, "Killing you...will be the first step in becoming a god among men...Take Xanxus!"

Xanxus sat there, at first regarding him with a arched brow look, before simply staring at him, not in the least affected by his outburst of Spiritual Pressure and bloodlust. "You haven't changed...I should've known better than take in a dog who is never satisfied with his master's steak."

He then turned his gaze back to the collective of the V-14, looking moreover at Angelika, "Tell me. Exactly why is V-14 involving themselves in my son's affairs? How much is he paying you that'd you would risk your very lives for simply a suicidal errand?"

"Your son hired us to kill you." Angelika remarked, allowing a small smile to cross her face. She lowered her head, her bangs overshadowing her eyes. "We do this for a living, to pay our bills and to live as fruitfully as our lives allow it. Why would you be interested in our motives instead of that simple fact?"

"You may be powerful..." Asuka added calmly, folding her arms across her chest and raising one of her hands to touch her chin. "But we have killed enemies just as strong as you are. Each of us are more than capable of driving our swords through your heart."

"Hahahahahahaha!" Take allowed himself to laugh as he heard these words. Before he stopped his laughter, his eyes crossed into dagger-shaped slits as he smiled at them with a vengeance, "you certainly are capable if you're capable of defeating three of the Dokueki in open combat as well as sway the other two to your side. But what you're witnessing and sensing is just a fraction of my true power..."

He raised himself to a standing posture, grasping his sword as he did so, strapping it within his feudal sash before clicking part of the blade open as he retained a casual yet able posture, "...not like I'll need to use it against children such as yourselves."

"Orders?" Shito asked as he raised his hands up, bathing them in a thin blue light as he prepared to engage the enemy target.

"Screw orders! You heard the boss," Zaii said, as he crouched to the ground, on all three stance with his sword held behind his body, "we take this guy out. I don't think there needs to be much strategy in that, does it?"

Yajū smiled as he readied himself in a battle stance, "I'm with the skyscraper-for-a-sword! We all rush him at once, and we might end this now-"

"That would be unwise," Shinshin said with a knowing caution as he retained a neutral, yet equally alert stance of his own, "Xanxus is not a opponent you simply rush into battle against."

The V-14 knew this.

Each of them settled into their own defensive positions, each of them with varying degrees of anticipation and concentration on their faces. Yusuke had the squinted-eye smile as he settled into his barefisted stance, his fists closing in a threatening manner. Asuka carried a concentrative and near-neutral look as she slowly drew her sword, the blade gleaming even in the dark room. Angelika, however, narrowed her eyes and took the entire sword off of her waist, sheathe and all. None of them spoke, for words seemed to be far too unnecessary now.

At least, from the mouth.

"So," Take said after watching them all await conflict, "after blatantly invading my home, twisting my own men against me when you didn't want to kill them, you just stand there like a pack of dogs wanting to kill a monster. Well then," Xanxus suddenly closed his eyes as he settled into a aggressive stance, "then I suppose I should flex these old muscles a bit before I release my full power against you. Let's go, brats!"

WOOSH!

Take's movements looked like a whirlwind of movement, as he seemed to stand still at the very same time as he approached the group of mercenaries with a demon-like speed and meance. He unsheathed his sword in a fluid Iaido strike, unleashing a vicious burst of focused cutting spiritual power towards the group, a glaring emerald light bared upon them as he intended to strike them all in one blow.

CLASH-CRACK!

What Take's initial strike landed upon was a inverted pyramid of Kido, Tozanshō, as Shito placed it in front of himself rather than imprison any of his party. His eyes narrowed as he knew now was a time to fight rather than remain on the defensive

With a follow-up outstretching of his hands in either direction of the flanks of his Kido construct he chanted out, "Sokatsui!" The angles did nothing to deter the flaming energy, as they arced in conjunction to one another to curl towards its target.

Take huffed as he backpedaled away from the explosion that was created, slight smoke rolled off his untouched garbs, "You'll have to do better than that if you want to land a blow on me!"

"That's right!" Yajū said as he rushed above him, swinging his scythe in a rushing decisive arc towards him, intending on sending several arcs of wind-heightened swings of his blade. His smile gleamed with excitement and his blade moved with screaming intensity...

...only to be recoiled by the sheer ferocity of Take's counters, disruptiung the flow of wind altogether, causing Yajū to stare perplexed.

"The hell-?!"

"Don't let your guard down, boy!" Take spoke as he appeared behind him, his motion exceeded Yajū's reaction timing as he barely had time to whirl around as Take slashed across his side, sending a geyser of blood out of his torso as well as enough force to slam him into the ground below, "you're in no position to believe that any of you can even land a finger upon me!"

WOOSH!

In an instant, Angelika and Asuka had made their own moves.

Their bodies re-appeared right above him, descending with their respective swords raised high over their heads. Angelika's sword was still in its scabbard. But it would be enough to deliver serious concussive damage to her target in order to match Asuka's cutting power. They swung down on his head, aiming to split him into two pieces.

Meanwhile, Yusuke had also acted. Several of his wires had moved in a surrounding formation as Angelika and Asuka attacked in order to trap and neutralize him if he broke away from his two female compatriots. It was a skillful use of coordinated teamwork to take down their target.

CLANG-SNATCH!

Within the incredibly cohesive movement generated by the elite mercenaries, Take moved on his own accord. Take twirled his body around to face the two females, swinging his blade up to clash with effective countering strength while catching the sheathe with his bare hand, using enough physical strength to halt the concussive blow on his person. However, he couldn't totally avoid the strings as he noticed them wrapping around some of his limbs, but didn't look deterred as he noticed the point of origin of the strange bindings.

"You two are impressive to actually get the drop on me," Take said with a growl, gripping Angelika's sheathe as he then swung her with impressive strength towards Yusuke, intending on disrupting the flow without needlessly wasting energy, "but that's what I say to most of my opponents before they die!"

"Ngh~!"

Angelika let out a grunt as she was sent flying away, shutting her eye and gripping her hilt tightly. However, she managed to easily catch herself in mid-air, performing a backflip just before she reached Yusuke. The boy, in turn, slid low to the ground while keeping his focus on the wires. His boss sailed right past him without collision.

And once she did so, he pulled on the wires.

SKRRRRRRRRT!

As all the wires converged on his limbs, the sound was wrenching and almost unbearable to hear. It was as if the wires struck a force they actually had truble cutting into, almost metalic in nature. However, when the moment the wires began attempting to cut his limbs off, Take fixated a angry glare at Yusuke as he swung his sword around in a singular effective blow.

SN-AP-AP-AP-AP!

The wires became snapped off and undone within a single executed swing of Take's sword, and Take became free once more, but had decided to take out the unorthodox tactician.

WHIZ!

Within a blink of an eye, Take appeared before the blow as he swung his blade towards his chest, with a unforgiving malicious glare fixated upon his person...

CLANG!

Take's blade met a gargantuan cleaver, the force of it actually caused him to be rebuffed a foot before he steadied himself against Zaii's weapon.

"Nobody touches my team!" Zaii growled out, now standing defensively nearby Yusuke as he repelled the target away from him bodily. He was determined to show he had their back, even if he'd had to slice off his employer's head to prove it.

"You're allegiances change like a dog's appetite for scum! Don't even think that you're doing the right thing, because you'll always be scum!" Take released the tension from his blade and swung his sword in incredibly swift arcs, forcing Zaii to a standstill as he repeatedly swung his own sword at a incredibly fast pace that nearly blinded Yusuke in comparison to what he showed off before.

Yusuke immediately jumped away, his mouth forming into an "o" shape as he saw the two clash swords. He was clearly amazed by the display of strength displayed by both ally and enemy. "Oooh." He said lightly, raising his arms up in a light shrug. "Who would've thought?" Despite the intensity, he still exhibited a casual, child-like behavior to his person.

While the exchange continued, Asuka was quick to attack Take's back.

WOOSH!

She re-appeared behind him, unleashing a series of her own strikes toward his person. All of them were swift, precise, and lethal, and all of them flowed into one another without pause. Once again, she bore that look of intense concentration as she engaged, her sword flashing as it was swung again and again.

"Hell's Crescendo, Step one," Take announced lowly as he twirled around within the storm of blades both swordsmen, before initiating a blinding upraising arcs of cutting energy exuding from his sword towards the two of them with incredible power, "Lotus Petal Dance!"

"GRRR!" Zaii was forced back by the series of cutting strides that forced him across the room from its intensity, skidding across the padded floor with his bare feet.

"Ngh!"

Asuka wasn't exempt from it, either. The force sent her skidding away from her opponent, her sandals grinding into the ground. However, she managed to keep her balance, readying her sword once she had stopped. The level of swordsmanship was astounding indeed. To be able to hold off two sword fighters and even push them back was an impressive feat. It was certainly going to take a lot more than that if they wanted to kill him.

"Its impressive, to see such skill among those so young," Take spoke with a modest reverence within the combatants he was facing, as he held his sword aloft, scraping its edge against the padding as he walked towards Asuka, "but I so tire easily. I'm not as limber as I used to be, so I'd appreciate if we settled this quickly."

He then held his sword up to a vertical line to divide his face, uttering lowly, "Way of the Onmitsukidō,"

WHIZ!

"...Kikanho!" (亀鑑歩 Kikan ho ; Eng Lit Translation, "Mirror Step,") Within a instant, Take vibrated his body with spiritrons so intensely and frequently, he created a direct duplicate of himself that spoke aloud in diversion to her. While he appeared behind her as he swung down to take her head off...!

SNATCH!

"?!" Take's sword hand was stopped as a fair-skinned hand outstretched and grasped his, causing him to suddenly acknowledge who it was, "you..!-"

"Secret Sword Art," he spoke as he struck a palm out towards his back, a torrent of blue energy enraptured it as a sword sprang out within a burst of speed and spiritually enhanced cutting power, smashing into his back with incredible force, "Hasu Hana!" (花蓮 Hasu hana ; Eng Lit Translation, "Lotus Bloom.")

"NGGH!" Take was sent hurtling in the air, unintentionally smashing into Asuka as he did so. But he wasn't allowed to recover, as a number of golden rods suddenly discharged out towards from Shito's hands and then from all sides as they thrust into Take's body.

"Rikujōkōrō!" Shito shouted aloud, before saying, "now! Hit him with everything you got!" With a follow up hand gesture, he uttered aloud, "Hado #73," before splaying out his hands with wrists touching and plams outreached towards its target, "Sōren Sōkatsui!"

"Kurai Geijutsu," Yajū suddenly uttered as he had pried himself from the indented padding floor, a thick webbing of blood from his own body was now artistically embodied upon the area in front of him, "Blood God Sword!" He said as he discharged a large, condensed field of blood into a enormously sized blade rushing upon the incapacitated opponent.

He wasn't the only one...

"Kaen Sakugen!!!" Zaii called out as he lunged halfway, sending a torrential yet compact version of his incredibly powerful cutting energy towards him, the energy ribbon aiming to collide with him at the same time as the other attacks were to collide.

This is where Yusuke tried his hand again.

Smiling widely, the boy extended his hands and moved his fingers back and forth in choreographic motions. His wires moved, maneuvering his wires in order to entrap the target's body once more. Because he couldn't seem to cut straight through the body - and maybe that was potentially because of something metal underneath the clothing - he would have to focus on simply binding and trapping Take in a hold for their attacks. His female compatriots were helpless in this situation due to their abilities being based on close-range combat.

So at this moment, he was the only one to attack alongside the rest of them.

Take's eyes widened as he was further bound by the lines, making it nearly impossible for escape as one after another of the attacks made contact. The blazing Kido spell began scalding his face, causing him to hiss and be propelled across the vast feudal warehouse, then felt the wind leave him as the large blood-crafted blade hit him squarely on the chest, slamming him into the far side of the wall, before Kaen Sakugen and the Kido spell ignited in a fantastic explosion that shook the whole complex, sending a shockwave that momentarily moved the fighters opposite of the explosion.

Shito huffed and puffed, looking around at everyone to see if they were okay, "What's your status?"

"I'm hurt but not dead," Yajū spat a wad of spit mixed with foul iron taste as blood dripped from his torso as his free hand clung his wounds, "besides that, I've had worse."

"This is just a freakin workout for me," Zaii said in affirmation, lifting his large sword before resting it on his shoulder, "I can't really cut loose cause I might accidentally cause the roof to collapse on us though. Damn shame.."

"Are you alright?" Shinshin asked Asuka as he moved to see if Take had managed to harm her at all, tenderly rubbing her cheek with concern.

"I'm fine..."

Despite being thrown against the wall when Take slammed into her, Asuka had managed to pull herself into a sitting position. Her eyes widened a bit when Shinshin touched her cheek, but she allowed herself to relax. "My back is aching like crazy, but I'm still capable of standing..." She breathed, closing her eyes and steadying herself. "But I'll tell you, being hit with a human-sized body like that doesn't do good things for the body!"

Angelika kept a tense stance, her lone eye lowered onto the spot where Take had been enveloped by the attacked. "I'm uninjured..." She confirmed, raising her sheathed blade defensively just in case Take hadn't been subdued by the blast. Though, it was strongly tempting to say that he had been dismissed. The power of the attack certainly seemed enough to do the job!

"I must...commend you...children," Take's voice suddenly penetrated the air, as he raised himself up from the wall, as his face was scalded and a bloody gash ran down his forehead over his face, bleeding over him as he breathed out while snarling at them, "for pushing me...to the point of no return!"

With a flourish of motion, he tore off his tattered robes, revealing a matte black elaborately crafted armor that almsot gave the appearance of a second skin, wrapping around very defined muscles and tendons that he had been keeping shape for moments just like this. However, residing just on the side of his throat, pulsated a golden Stinger that was glowing red...in the appearance of what looked like a seal!

Upon releasing it, his Spiritual Pressure began cracking the air so intensely, the blood simmered and evaporated upon contact, his body rolled in a thick aura of yellow spirit flames, with his eyes glowing in a enraged resolved form as he clenched his sword in his hand to the point of shattering the hilt and blade itself.

"Wah~!!!"

Yusuke did not like the sudden blast of energy that had erupted from Take's body, and he was quick to emphasize it - involuntarily. The winds generated caused the poor boy to be blown back like a tumbleweed, and he rolled and bumped across the ground while letting out comical "Oomph"s and "Agh"s.

Angelika and Asuka, however, managed to keep their balance against the winds. Their bodies were tensed up, and they were both staring at Take with varying degrees of surprise. It wasn't a shock to them that Take was still alive... but to feel the sudden increase of power had hit their minds like a tone of bricks falling on their heads.

Now, the real fight was about to begin.

"That old bugger's still alive?!" Yajū yelled out in alarm, raising his scythe as he readied himself for another battle, with Shinshin standing in front of his mother protectively and Shito reaching for the Kido Rift Card deck on his waist band.

Only one person of the group managed to smile in its wake, and he began twirling his sword around in circles above him, emanating a violent quaking pressure of his own, his eyes glowed with murderous intent as he crossed the gap between the group, "You're going down old man! I'll hold nothing back...and I'll carve your head from your baggy, decrepit body!"

"Zaii!!!!" Take rushed at him, intending on using his bare hands that were encompassed by Spiritual Power and the metalic substance, intending on utilizing his bladed hands to cut him down where he stood.

"Get behind me!" Shito yelled out to the rest as he threw a few of the cards in opposite directions as Zaii charged at the enraged Xanxus, creating a warped, silver transparent barrier.

CLANG-RIIIIIING!

As Take's hand struck Zaii's behemoth sword, he had intended to follow up with a series of swift martial artistic swings of his hands. However, he found it impossible as his hand was behind pushed back by Zaii's sheer strength and Spiritual Power. Take's opened wide as the sword began increasing in power extranormally, almost as if being in contact with such high power...

"B-Bastard!" Take growled as he felt the soles of his feet slide against the padding, upheaving them dramatically as Zaii continued to push him backwards, "where...where did you get this power?!"

"My sword," Zaii explained as he smiled ferally, his own energies caused his hair flourished as one with his headband ribbon and gii, "gets stronger the more powerful the opponent gets, heightening my own strength and Spiritual Power in return! The problem is...its incredible hard to find people stronger than me!"

"You traitorous scum!" Take said with sudden realization, "you've been planning this all along, haven't you?!"

"And here you compared me to a dog," Zaii snarled at him with a vicious sneer as his blade began coating in crimson spiritual energy, preparing his attack, "insulting me like that...makes me really pissed!"

"Damn...YOU-!"

"KAEN,"

With a simultaneous return thrust of Take's own metalic palm towards Zaii's body, a thunderous and terrifying column of spiritual energy ripped towards Take, sending it far above and into the skyscraper complex above, with a incredibly explosive fissure that shattered the glass windows on all the floors and blew out the building with a incredible smoldering explosion, barely leaving the building standing above them,

"SAKUGEN!"

"GRRRAAAAAAAAAH!" Take's body was caught within the vicious power slash, ripping through his armor as if it was made of plaster before it burned and cut a thick decapitating gash diagonally across his torso, nearly killing him instantly within the wake of the attack.

"Danku!" Shito additionally layered the high level Bakudo over the transparent shield, as it reverberated and shook violently from the explosive powers rippling throughout, even causing Yajū to wince and twitch at the incredible power displayed.

Shinshin himself raised a hand to cover his eyes from the blinding light show, but made no effort to shield himself from not inevitable backlash towards the group.

As the dust cleared, Zaii was left standing, heaving from the powerful exertion he put against his opponent and former mentor, but far from looking beaten. He laughed as he looked at his sword, gripping it tightly with praise, "I did it! I can do this! HAHAHAHA!"

"D-Damn you!...Scum," Zaii's eyes opened wide as he saw Take's bleeding, near dead form was on his back, not even able to move because of the thick gash through his armor caused too much damage, "you...V-14...scum...I should've been able to kill you...why?!"

"Because your arrogance and your pride got the better of you, Take Xanxus," Shito spoke aloud as he brought down the barrier, approaching him along with the rest of the group, "if you had fought alongside your subordinates rather than have them face us alone, you might've been able to defeat us."

Yajū spat towards him, raising his scythe as he said, "I should've killed you instead of your own runt...but he fought and defeated you. Fair and square," he nodded with affirmation and recognition to Zaii before resting his scythe onto his shoulder, looking to Angelika and Asuka, "so...who gets to cut off the dying man's head off?"

"This... is not good..."

It was something that Angelika dreaded.

The explosive visual effects were not only hitting their enemy... but they were also hitting the building itself, despite the fact that they were in the safe room. Even now, she could practically hear the glass of the windows being shattered and the very foundation shuddering under the power. Rika's alarmed voice within their intercomms confirmed it.

"All of you! I'm seeing collateral damage being inflicted onto the building, but my sensors are picking you up underground! What's going on down there?!"

Angelika clicked her earpiece on, shoving down her apprehension. "We're just about to finish the target. It took a lot more work than expected, but it's going to be over in the next few moments." She started walking forward, grasping the sheathe covering her blade in one hand and slowly drawing it out - the gesture that she would be the one to do it. "Standby until I give the order to drop down for extraction."

"Affirmative... but I'll have to keep a close eye on the ground... I don't know if what you did drew any unwanted attention..."

"Y-You...grk, heheehehehe...do none...of your men...have the stomach...to kill a dying man?! KAFF, KAFF!" Take asked in incredulous indignation, despite his bleeding bodily self squirming in pain and life force being left from him.

"Maam," Shito said to Asuka as he held up the Kido Rift deck, "I can use these to get us out of here should the place start collapsing. Just say the word and we're out of here!"

"None of us here do not have the capability of killing you right now..."

Angelika coldly and swiftly dismissed his insult towards her subordinates as she approached him, looming over his fallen form and raising her blade up in the air. "It's just tradition that the head of the pack does the finishing touches. Don't you know anything about hungry wolves?"

Then, without any hesitation, she swung her sword down to his throat.

The metal cut cleanly through his neck, severing the head from the body and ending his spiritual life.

That was the cue for Asuka. She swung her hand out towards Shito in a gesturing motion with the urgent command, "You have the go-ahead. Get us out of here, and quickly!"

Shito nodded, throwing four cards to four corners of the group before clapping his hands together, "Let's go!" And within mere moments, the whole group was taken out, enveloped within a bright blue light and leaving the collapsing building behind, to crash into a blazing fireball of debris and superstructre.

Their mission, had been completed.

The War of Four: The Hunter and the Hunted, Act IV

Mission Completed, The Annual Invitation from the Shadows

SSSSSCRRRAAAACKLE!

Within a bright light that flourished within the training room, the deepest known recess of V-14's current base, all of the team members appeared standing in the exact same postures as they did before...minus the background scenery change, they all appeared as they were when they left. With the exception of bringing a severed head of Take's corpse with them.

"Wow," Shito blinked owlishly as he looked at his handiwork, "it worked!"

"W-Waitaminute!" Yajū looked at Shito with sudden indignation, raising a fist to him as he growled at him, "you're meaning to tell me, you didn't know this was gonna work?!"

"Well it did, now didn't it? So why are you so mad?!"

"I don't like it when someone f'ing plays pinball with my spiritrons, mister!"

"You sure don't mind using your own blood as a weapon, why whine about this?!"

"I did that by choice, not get yanked along on a cab ride with my body!"

As they comically continuted to argue, Zaii finished wrapping his sword with before tying it off around his back diagonally, making it more bearable to carry within smaller corridors and shorter ceilings. He blew out a slow whistle as he examined the training room, "This your base's basement? It sure looks nicer than the cheap constructs we created..."

"Something that can be done with hard work can be just as good as a carefully designed illusion..." Asuka said lightly, folding her arms behind her back in a gesture of idleness. "Even better, considering it's all genuine and real." She put on a smile, turning her gaze so that she could look at him. "I hope you'll find it much more comfortable to deal with..."

"Oh I will," Zaii said with a smile, pointing at her briefly before pretending to fire off a shot from his "finger gun", "you'll have to show me how things are done around here, Asuka-hime, cause I might get lost in your magnificent sword display you put on earlier."

Shinshin breathed in a puff of air before exhaling, looking around he saw there were stairs that lead up to the actual level of the complex, "We must be in a training room...I almost thought we were cut off from an actual construct, but this whole place is designed to seal off Spiritual Pressure to the upper levels and outside. Impressive."

Shito grumbled before walking away with a steaming cloud over his head, "I'm gonna take a shower...all this blood and stink is going to make me feel like a beast."

"You take that back! I don't smell like that stupid bird," Yajū accused defensively to Shito, following after him as they vaulted out deep recess they were in.

The suffix, as well as the statement itself was enough to make Asuka cover her mouth with her lips, the corners of it curling upwards in a small smile. "Oh, referring to me as hime already?" She teased. "That usually takes a lot longer..."

Of course, Rika was quick to shrink at Yajū's harsh words, lowering her head and avoiding looking into his eyes. A slight "Meep!" escaped her lips, almost too quiet for anyone to hear her. This didn't go by Yusuke, who was quick to shoot a glare towards Yajū.

"Hey, don't make fun of the bird! Who knows, it could've heard you!"

Yajū twitched as he halted in mid-stride, comically halting all movements and sounds at the thought of that. After all...it was a part of their transporation system now. Shito had to surpress snickering as Yajū turned around with the most forced smile he could muster as he waved to Rika and Yusuke, closing his eyes to slits as he said in a happy-go-lucky tone, "No no no! That bird is a mighty fine bird, yessir! I love that guy like my own brother! He's one handsome piece of poultry, isn't he?!" This earned a bunch of laughter from the younger V-14 members, though it was light on Rika's end.

Zaii slightly snickered at the comical display of antics before turning his head back to Asuka, chuckling as he emphasized with a wave of his hands, "Well, since most of the known world has moved on in fashion since, anyone wearing a Kimono has to be royalty right? So I guess being a hime is a suitable title for such a regal, beautiful woman such as yourself, don't you agree?"

"Oh, stop!" Asuka blushed a little at his words, her hand moving to her cheek. "You flatter me too much!"

BZZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ!

A vibration deep within the sash of Angelika's pocket came. One of the few things salvaged from forgoing her longcoat. Her cellular phone.

"Huh? Ah, I almost allowed myself to forget..."

Angelika slipped her hand into her pocket, pulling out the cellphone and pressing the talk button before raising it to her ears. "Yes?" She said coolly, raising her free hand to inspect her fingernails.

"Ah! Angelika! It sounds you are well," Enrico spoke with a jovious voice as ever, "how did you mission fair? Did you guys complete the contract?"

It was something that she always looked forward to hearing.

A small smile graced Angelika's face, and she slipped a hand in her pocket once she was done checking the nails. "The mission was successful, and the contract was carried out with excellent proficiency. We even showed our victim's head to the client in order for proof after I did the honors of cutting it off. As an added bonus, even though the building was destroyed, we managed to secure all data and information within Xanxus's archives and records. All in all, it went pretty well, despite difficulties."

"And this is why, señora, I am proud to be one of your most trusted contractors and contacts. Ahahahaha!" Enrico laughed joviously, carrying on for a good while before he stopped. With a sigh, he didn't hang up the phone, which was different than most conversations Enrico would have.

"Angelika," he spoke with a solemn tone before the sound of a piece of notepad paper was heard on the other line, as he lifted up a message that was given to him, "I also have a message to give to you. Its about the Meet. The Black Blood Sect' wants to reendevous at its usual spot and they want you to bring any two trusted advisors or lieutenants with you for it."

Black Blood Sect.

Those words were enough to make Angelika's perception of time stop dead in its tracks. Her eye widened, and for a brief moment, her words caught in her throat. She almost followed the same route as her own perception, focusing on nothing but the conversation that she was engaging in. Was it really that time of year again? She must have lost track...

"Oh, how the time flies..." She muttered dryly, the frown practically heard in her voice. "When's the time I'll have to be there?"

"One week, Señora. They're making sure all of the leaders of the respective..."legitimate" organizations will appear. And considering the location and secrecy of the choice location for the meet, they want to make sure everyone's prepared for the trip to and from there," Enrico said, idly tossing the paper back onto his desk, grabbing his cigar before lighting it and taking a long whiff, "can't believe how many of these meets you've been to. Which number does this make for you, Angelika?"

Angelika chuckled. "Too many for this mind to keep track of..." She answered smoothly, closing her eye for a moment. "Especially with what's been going on recently..."

"I hear you on that," he said with admission, puffing another whiff of his cigar before idly moving it in between his fingers, "wouldn't doubt the heat's been turning on for other areas as well. With the Inner Circle targeting you, I wouldn't doubt you're the only being hit. Hope you guys can...find a resolution to everyone's problems with them."

"What about you, my friend?" Angelika's smooth tone was slightly questioning, and she quirked an eyebrow out of instinct. "The Inner Circle as well as the Soul Society managed to find us and hunt us down. It makes me a bit nervous as to...well... how secure our connections really are."

"Don't worry about me, Señora. I may be getting old, but I'm no amateur. The lines I've been using since I got wind of the 10th Division escapade are all old and never used. I'm making sure I cover all my bases and use different trancievers every time I call," he reassured her after taking another whiff of his cigar, sighing as he leaned back on his wheel-chair, "but...I understand your concern. The fact they were able to find you this quickly...is a little unnerving. Didn't you say that the Inner Circle found you first before the Captain did?"

"Yes..." A scowl came across Angelika's face at the memory. "Our hunter came in as a supposed client and deliberately revealed that he knew a good deal, if not everything, about us. I'm suspecting that he was the one that had something to do with the Soul Society being able to track where we were."

"Oh diablos!" Enrico swore aloud with a sudden dawning horror, as his face paled unseen from Angelika, but it was clear from the tone in his voice, "Then...then that means the Inner Circle either has moles within the Gotei 13, or they have agents who are stationed as officers within their military branches!"

"Indeed..." Judging from her tone, this was something that Angelika had already guessed. "Simply shows that the Soul Society's security isn't as cracked up as it's supposed to be." Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Yusuke going ahead of the group and Rika following closely afterwards - presumably to resume watch on Sakura.

"What do you intend on doing, Angelika?" Enrico asked in a curious, concerned tone, twirling his cigar around his fingers as he looked up at the slow-moving ceiling fan within his office.

Angelika sighed heavily. "Sooner or later, with both the Gotei 13 and the Inner Circle hot on our heels, there will be nowhere left to run. The only thing left to do is to fight back... and that's what I plan on doing. Otherwise, Yashin will continue to think that he can push us around..."

"Well," Enrico said with a sigh, before resuming his jovious attitude, "if you ever need anything from me, Señora, never hesitate to call me, okay?!"

"I'll be sure to do that... take care, Enrico."

Next Chapter

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