"And then, we-"
"Akiza, I think that's enough for right now. We don't overcome our new friend, do we?" the chemistry teacher appeared behind Akiza.
"Wait! I have questions!" Yuzu shouted as the two began to enter the basement.
"Just follow me. You'll find everything out in time. Speaking of, I wonder how the former Captain of Squad 9 is doing now that she has her powers back..."
Fenice held Ichigo up by his neck as she drew back her sword.
"You know, they really overestimated you. You were too easy." She went to finish him off with a single stab to the throat.
A slash sound followed soon after. The sword arm was on the ground beside Ichigo, as Fenice screamed in surprise, holding the stump. A woman in a Captain's haori stood about five feet away; that is, until she was suddenly in Fenice's face. She put her thumb and finger together, and flicked.
Fenice went flying.
"Who... Who are you?"
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU DUMBASS?! ARE YOU HOLDING BACK OR SOMETHING?! THIS ISN'T THE SAME SOUL REAPER I SEEN KICK THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF AIZEN OR HEARD ABOUT BEATING DOWN YWACH! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!"
"Wait a moment... CHIZURU, WHEN THE HELL DID YOU BECOME A SOUL REAPER, LET ALONE A CAPTAIN?!" Ichigo shouted in utter surprise as he observed the red-haired lesbian standing directly in front of him.
"I've been a Soul Reaper. For 200 years, almost. EXCEPT YOUR DUMB ASS JUST MADE ME BLOW MY COVER TO SAVE YOUR SCRAWNY LIFE!" Chizuru shouted back in a comically angry fashion. "YOU SHOULD'VE RELEASED YOUR BANKAI, EVEN IF WE DON'T KNOW WHAT ITS NEW FORM IS IN THE CANNON MANGA YET! Besides that, what would Orihime say if I got a scratch on my pretty face?"
"Hey." Fenice stood up, a slasher smile across her face. "If you two are done arguing, can I kill you now? Because you just pissed me off!"
The togabito kicked off the ground, rushing with her remaining arm toward the red-haired girl. Chizuru held up her sword, and slashed.
Fenice went down like a rock.
"Damn... who the hell are you?"
Chizuru answered. "Chizuru Honsho, former Captain of Squad 9 and proud lesbian! You know, you're kinda hot. Too bad I have to kill ya..."
Something picked Fenice up and launched into the air.
"Sorry about this. However, our lord has just sent us some new orders that we must attend to." Tempesta held a struggling and objecting Fenice in his left arm. "Both of you would be wise not to follow us."
A gate opened behind them. They stepped through it, and it closed. They were gone.
"Don't get up, Ichigo. Your injuries are too severe. I'll need to take you back to Karakuza's, so he can treat your injuries properly."
"Karakuza? Mr. Scissors and Cigs, the chemistry teacher? You mean..."
"Yes, Ichigo. He is a Soul Reaper."
"What the He- IS THERE ANYBODY ELSE THAT I SHOULD KNOW ABO- YAIK, OW, OH, AH!"
"See? Now with all that screaming, you've made your wounds bleed out more."
"SHUT U- AH, EH, AH, OH!"
"ITSYGO!" the arrancar girl jumped out from behind the nearby bush. "ITSYGO, ARE YOU OKAY ITSY- huh?" she glared at the red-haired soul reaper.
"Hmmm? Who is this?"
"This is Nel, Chizuru. She's an arrancar girl I met in Hueco Mundo." Ichigo patted Nel's head.
Chizuru raised an eyebrow. "Why is she glaring at me?"
Nel growled. "What's yer welationsip wif Itsygo?"
"Heh, popular with the ladies, are ya, Ichigo?"
"Don't worry, Lil' Miss Nel. He's not my type." Chizuru chuckled. "Ichigo, hold still. We need to go."
"Chizuru," Ichigo stopped Chizuru in her tracks. "Wait. Why didn't you reveal yourself before? When Aizen and Ywach were here?"
Chizuru looked down. "We wanted to. But we couldn't afford to reveal ourselves. If we revealed ourselves, our enemies would have come out far sooner. We risked the Soul Society being destroyed. We didn't want to feign fear and obliviousness. We wanted to help fight. But it wasn't something we could do yet."
"Then why now?"
"Because. Our enemies have returned."
A phone rang from nearby. Chizuru pulled her phone out of her pocket and answered it.
"Hello?" Chizuru answered. A buzz on the other side answered. "What? That's impossible! You can't be serious! Yes, I understand. I'll inform him on our way here." She hung up the phone.
"Ichigo. We need to go now. It's very important that we get to Karazuka's place - there is something you need to see there." Chizuru kneeled down and pulled out a bandage wad, and unrolled it, flinging it. It spiraled around the group, and everything went black in Ichigo's eyes.
"Well, now that that's over with, Yuzu," Ikumi turned to the girl, who stood frozen like a statue, marveling at the huge, desert-like area they called a basement. He pulled his pair of scissors from his pocket and pointed them at the girl. "Draw your sword."
"Uh... wait... Wha- YIKES!" she jumped back as the area under her feet exploded from the sheer impact of Ikumi's scissors. Her sword was in front of her... did she even pull it out?
"It's just like I thought."
"What?! ARE YOU CRAZY?! YOU COULDA KILLED ME!"
"That's kinda the point." Ikumi said, rubbing the back of his head. "Anyhow, you drew your sword the moment I came at you. You didn't even notice, did you? As I thought, basic sword skills and reflexes come to you as naturally as breathing. That being said, never be caught unprepared. Be ready at a moment's notice. The enemy will not hesitate to kill you. Whether you want to fight or not."
He came at her again. She blocked, attempting to parry the sword, only to jump back again as Ikumi countered easily.
"Hado Number 31. Shakkahō."
A red fireball came at her from Ikumi's direction. She jumped out of the way as it exploded under her.
"Here I come." A pair of scissors clashed with the Katana. "You can do better, come on!"
Ichigo looked into the area to see the two training, fully updated on the situation. He was objecting the entire way along.
"We have to stop them! He'll kill her!"
An arm came across his chest. "No, Ichigo, he won't. She'll survive. Have some confidence instead of insulting your sister's ability. She will survive because that will be her resolve. She doesn't want to get hit, so she will hit him. Do you understand?"
Ichigo looked into Chizuru's now serious eyes. "Yes, I do."
Suddenly, she received another call... this time, from Kisuke Urahara.
"Ikumi! Stop! The Soul Society is in trouble!"
"What?!" Ikumi bound Yuzu in a kido.
"It's them. They're attacking the Sereitei."
"I understand." Karazuka nodded. "Yuzu. Meditate with that sword."
"What?" the girl asked, confused.
"I can only teach you the stances. I cannot teach how to use your own blade. I have given you all criticism and teaching that I can. All we were doing, was sparring."
"How long has it been? I'm exhausted." Yuzu responded, with a heavy breath.
"A full week."
"Remember, meditate. I have to go. Akiza, Chizuru, let's go!"
"There are odd gates opening up all around the Sereitei! Sound the alarm immediately!" Akon ordered.
Another member of Squad 12 immediately jumped to a nearby intercom.
"Attention all personnel and members of the Gotei 13! There are gates opening across the Sereitei! Investigate and engage! This is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill!"
"What are these gates, Captain?" Momo asked worriedly.
"I don't know. They look almost like the gates to Hell itself... just be prepar-"
The sound came from the open gate, along with a column of what appeared to be ice and water. None of the other squad members were able to get out of the way, but Momo had saw it coming. She hoped the captain got out as well.
She looked to her side. Captain Shinji Hirako, shocked and still grasping his sword, Sakanade, fell onto his knees. His chest had been blown straight through - only an arm and about three inches of his torso remained. He fell to the ground, dead, without even the chance to look at his enemy.
"Captain!" Momo screamed, rushing to his side. It was too late; he was already dead before he had even hit the ground. She felt the tears dripping down her face as she looked toward the gate.
"Well, well. What do we have here? Upset, are we? Don't worry, you'll be joining him shortly."
A figure stepped out of the gate.
"But first, let me introduce myself. Legate 9I: The Ice, Takona Dinozza," the woman stepped out. Her hair was white, drooping down over her shoulders. Her eyes were an icy blue. Momo stood and withdrew her sword. "Oh? So you won't die peacefully then? What is your name, then, woman?!"
"Momo Hinamori, Lieutenant of Squad 5." Momo's eyes glistened with anger and rage. She was going to kill this woman if it was the last thing she did. "Snap, Tobiume."
Soi Fon looked at the man in front of her. He was wearing nothing but a purple kilt, and a scar adorned his chest. His eyes were black as night; his sword was in his hand. Everything but him and herself was drenched in black.
"Welcome to the Midnight Game. And who might our lucky contestant be?"
"Very well, then. Legate 14M: The Midnight-Man, Antony Octavose. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss..."
"Soi Fon, Captain of Squad 2."
Soi Fon withdrew her Zanpakuto, putting it to her side. "Sting all enemies to death, Suzemabachi."
"Do not be afraid. I'm here to cure you."
"I don't need cured of anything. Who are you?" Renji demanded. He held the already released Zabimaru in his hand, and was bleeding profusely.
"I am Legate 4D: The Doctor, Castigo Guardia." the man answered. He resembled a doctor from the days of the Black Plague. Right down to the mask on his face. "And I'm here to cure you."
"Will you stop saying that?!" Renji swung Zabimaru at the man like a whip. The man caught it easily with a single hand, shocking Renji.
"Please do not resist. I am here to cure you."
"You know, you're pretty ugly for a Captain. They should have picked someone far better looking." the strange woman said. "Legate 6F: The Fashionista! Ava Leon!"
"You talk too much." Kenpachi answered before his attack.
Kyoraku stood in front of the man who had caused this new trouble. This unexpected enemy, one from so long in the past. They were in mid-air, using pure Spiritual Pressure to hold themselves up.
"It's been a long time, Demone. Come for some kind of grudge or something?"
Demone answered. "Kyoraku, if I had a grudge against you killing me so long ago, I would've come back on my own to kill you, and then I would leave. No, I am actually here to thank you; had you not killed me, I would've remained nothing but a weak Hollow."
"Don't mention it." The Captain-Commander held his sarcastic smirk as he withdrew his sword. "Although it's a shame I'm going to have to do it again."
"You're a fool if you think you have that much power," the Togabito said calmly. "You haven't changed a bit. "Even in the most hopeless of situations, you refuse to give up. Look, your Captains and subordinates are dying all around you. There are only 2 of you left."
He looked down, shocked at the site around him. Shinji lay dead while Momo fought almost hopelessly against a woman with white hair; Soi Fon had fallen against a man in a kilt, almost decapitated. Kenpachi was dying on the ground in front of three others. Sajin Komamura's Bankai fell almost directly in front of them.
"You see, we did not come for a grudge. We are nothing more than a resistance. A resistance against Hell, the Soul Society, and even pure existence itself. You should give up, and die without a fight."
"I would, but, one has to consider: You just killed hundreds of my men, three captains included. If I didn't try to avenge them, who would?" he let his haori fly off. "Flower wind rage, and Flower God roar, Heavenly wind rage and Heavenly demon sneer: Katen Kyōkotsu!"
He melted into his own shadow, beginning the game. He appeared behind Demone, stabbing him through the chest.
"Certainly you aren't that much talk. You're familiar with this game, are you not? It's Kageoni, the Shadow Game. And you've lost."
"So you believe."
A sword cut across Kyoraku's back, cutting him in half from the waist down. He fell to the ground. Barely alive, he looked up to see Demone charging something from his finger.
"You underestimate me, Kyoraku. You should've used your Bankai, lest you would not be dead so quickly." He fired the blast, and everything went black.
"My lord." Mortale emerged behind Demone's back. "I apologize for interrupting your activity, but three Captain-class Soul Reapers just appeared from the Senkaimon."
"Let them discover their fellows. As for us, we must go."
"Leaving so soon?"
Demone looked over his shoulder. "You..."
Ikumi looked at him. Beside him stood Akiza and Chizuru. Demone turned around.
"I must apologize, Ikumi Karazuka. However, I don't have any time to deal with you. I am late for my afternoon tea." A gate raised behind him, and opened. He went through it as Ikumi flash stepped towards him.
"Wait! Come back here!" The gate slammed shut before Ikumi got to it.
"What are the casualties, Chizuru?"
The red-haired girl looked somber. "Out of the remaining Captains before Ywach's attacks, only one has been left alive. He was fortunate enough to dispatch four enemy soldiers before their retreat with only minor injury. I've stabilized the lieutenants of Squad 5 and 6; they're alive, but barely."
"Who the hell are you?" Ikumi turned around to see the silver-haired Captain of Squad 10.
"I'm just your average High-School Chemistry teacher, Captain."
"Don't play dumb with me. Who are you?"
Ikumi sighed. "Alright, I'm the former Captain of Squad 5, Ikumi Karazuka."
It had been almost a week. The lieutenants gathered in the first division, with Nanoe Ise, who handed in a resignation. Under normal circumstances, it would not be accepted, however, Toshiro put her on leave, with the intent of discharge. It was an understandable situation - the darkest times had come again. The Zanpakutos of the lost captains sat in a case. This was post-memorial; the other captains had been buried with honors.
Hitsugaya entered the first division barracks. Yachiru sat in a corner, crying silently. That little sociopath had lost Kenpachi, who was like a father to her. He believed that the other lieutenants felt the same way. He held a letter from the Central 46 in his hand.
"Before I begin, is there anyone else who wishes to resign from their positions?" The room was silent.
"Shiro," Momo's voice silently croaked. "What do we do?"
Toshiro looked down, silently. This wasn't the time to be angry over a nickname. "I don't know, Momo."
It seemed like forever that they sat in silence. Momo attempted to comfort Yachiru, who's sobs were the only sound in the room.
"I have already contacted several agents in the human world. They will be arriving shortly. All of you, return to your barracks'. Except for Renji and Rukia. Come with me."
They gathered to leave the room. He opened the letter again in silence.
As you are the only remaining captain, it has been deemed that the only option in the wake of the death of Shunsui Kyoraku is to ship your Captaincy to the first division, and give you the formal title of Captain Commander. When you receive this letter, please report to the Central 46 immediately.
Given this, please have viable candidates in mind for Captaincy positions. The Soul Society cannot function on a single captain alone."
This was it, then. He took a deep breath as he began the walk towards the Central 46.
"Toshiro Hitsugaya, I hope you have found viable candidates for Captaincy. You cannot be the only one." One of the voices echoed from the chamber.
"That, I have. And I have also taken the liberty of bringing them here, as well as issuing their uniforms."
"Captain, you realize that this is not your decision? The Central 46 is the one respo-"
"Oh, but I am afraid you are not, but I am. As Captain-Commander of the 13 Court Guard Squads as well as the only one of you who has been on the battlefield, I believe I am in much more of a position to determine viable candidates for Captaincy. It is either that, or you can take your chances protecting yourselves."
"Captain Hitsugaya, I object! The Central 46 is mean-"
"The Central 46 is for judiciary reasons, not military reasons. Had the formal title not been given to me, I would taken the title myself. Either way, these are the people who are going to be promoted to Captaincy, and that is my final decision."
"Fine then, Toshiro. Have it your own way. Just who are these people?"
The doors opened, as 12 people walked in. The Central 46 almost went up in flames.
"That's enough!" Toshiro shouted. "If you do not like it, you can protect yourselves. But these are the people who I have deemed viable for Captaincy: Captain of Squad 2, Yoruichi Shihoin. She will also be taking command of the stealth force."
Yoruichi stepped forward. Unlike her usual get-up of an orange shirt, it was replaced by a standard stealth force uniform, with the haori of Squad 2 draped over it.
"Captain of Squad 3, Akiza Terra."
Akiza stepped forward, her headphones still in her ears.
"Captain of Squad 4, Tessai Tsukibishi."
Tessai stepped forward, bowing.
"Captain of Squad 5. Ikumi Karazuka."
Ikumi stepped forward. It had been too long since he had worn this uniform.
"Captain of Squad 6. Ichigo Kurosaki."
Ichigo stepped forward, wondering why the hell he agreed to this.
"Captain of Squad 7. Love Aikawa."
Love stepped forward.
"Captain of Squad 8. Renji Abarai."
Renji stepped forward. He had on his goggles from the old days, the haori drooped lazily over his standard uniform.
"Captain of Squad 9. Chizuru Honsho."
Chizuru stepped forward. Her glasses glinted. This was no time to look for hotties among the females: She had to stay serious.
"Captain of Squad 10. Isshin Kurosaki."
Isshin stepped forward... and then attacked his son.
"SON WE GET TO BE CAPTAINS TOGETHER! I'M SO PROUD!"
"GET OFF OF ME!"
"WILL YOU TWO CUT IT OUT!" Hitsugaya shouted. "Now, Captain of Squad 11: Ikkaku Madarame. Or should I say: Ikkaku Kenpachi."
Ikkaku stepped forward, with his sword slung over his shoulder.
"Captain of Squad 12: Kisuke Urahara."
Kisuke stepped forward. "Good Evening everyone! Long time, no see!"
"And finally, Captain of Squad 13: Rukia Kuchiki."
Rukia stepped forward, bowing gracefully. "Thank you, for the honor, Captain Hitsugaya."
"Do not mention it."
"What is wrong with you Hitsugaya?! Are you a fool?! These are people who were thought lost or were exile-"
"And they were wrongly accused or intervened with by something they had no control over. Still, these are the most viable candidates, and they are the captains whether you want them or not."
"That is enough. Captain Hitsugaya, we will support their bids. Currently, we cannot afford to debate this subject. We will trust your judgment."
"But, Judge 1-"
"No buts, Sage 33. That is our final decision."
"That said, I shall be moving Rangiku Matsumoto and Momo Hinamori to Squad 1 to serve as my lieutenants. Ishhin and Ikumi have been instructed that they are free to select someone else."
"That is fine, Captain Hitsugaya. You are dismissed, attend to your duties."
Written by Senjumaru Shutara