A young Soul Reaper, Leto Darnell, begins his training at the soul reaper academy only to find he has a vastly different future ahead of him.
* As a note, any time there is a reference to the 'present' it refers to the training time in between the Arrancar and Hueco Mundo arcs.
Bleach: A Side Story
Leto began to circle the arrancar, the solid feel of his sword brought a wicked smile to his face. He could feel his sword pulsing, yearning to be released. It was evening but there was a cool breeze that forced Leto's cloak to dance in the air. A full moon was out, an ominous setting though Leto. He had been ordered by the Soul Society to investigate a series of mysterious occurrences. It was quick that he remembered the spirit force of the figure standing in front of him, the former hollow Abaddon. Staring his opponent in the eye, Leto reflected on the being that changed his life, his very existence and purpose. The remnants of the arrancar's hollow mask were evident over its left eye. Leto could feel the evil sizing him up, urging to consume him. The two figures met glares, and it was Leto who was first to speak. "So Abaddon you've been revived, I'm flattered you would go to such lengths simply to allow me to defeat you again."
The arrancar simply smiled, his sinister aura permeating the air. "Leto you are marvelous, I sense you have become so much more powerful sense we last met, simply wonderful. You turned out exactly as I had planned."
The comment through Leto off balance, but scoffed at the arrancar "You've sure got an imagination Abaddon, I seem to remember killing you."
The arrancar threw his hands up in a shrug, "Poor little Leto, I don't think you've appreciated the length to which I have gone to ensure that this day happened exactly as it did. Your transformation, the killing of your comrades, even your exile from soul society all happened according to my whim. The very reason you wear that clock to cover your face, all happened because I deemed it to transpire"
Leto's eyes narrowed in on the arrancar, blue sparks of spirit energy beginning to flicker from his sword, its energy barely contained. "Even if what you say is true, then you have made a grave mistake in choosing me as your puppet. I will make you regret ever coming into existence."
The arrancar smiled its wicked smile, laughing, he called out to Leto "Yes, wonderful! Keep that energy coming, for when I devour your power's I shall become the strong enough to become an Espada. Now come, Leto, come at me with all you have, I have waited long for this day and I shall enjoy every moment of it!"
20 years earlier- Soul Society
"Leto Darnell, you are up next" Called the instructor. With an eager hop Leto entered onto the practice floor. As a student at the Soul Reaper academy Leto was exceptionally undistinguished. He was simply an average student, excelling in no particular area but failing none either. This was his chance today, a chance to show greatness. Today was sword practice, and Leto had trained hard. His opponent was the best in class Domni Akhn, a hot head from one of the noble families, whose arrogance could unfortunately be backed up with some skill.
With a roll of his eyes Domni looked at Leto as they both entered the practice floor. "You know, Leto, if you squeeze that wooden sword any harder you might give yourself some splinters." With a sigh and a shrug Domni looked back at their instructor, "Geez, teach. Can't you put me up against a worthwhile opponent? I hate fighting such trash."
Leto's eyes burned with fire at the comments, but were quickly focused as they instructor told the two fighters to take their positions. As Leto walked over to his corner, he called out to his opponent, "Today Domni, I promise I will bring you to your knees. And when I look down at you, and I will smile."
Domni's face convulsed at the comment. "Know your place boy, I am of noble blood, I will never be brought to my knees by trash like you." With that Domni spit on the ground and took his place in his corner.
Leto relaxed himself and raised his wooden sword into position over his head. Eyes focused only on Domni. Then Leto heard the instructors command to "fight" and pounced into action. Domni rushed headlong into Leto as he had expected. As Leto parried Domni's powerful downward blow, Leto was pushed back down onto the floor. Not wasting the opportunity to end the battle, Domni threw all his strength into hitting the downed Leto. However, summoning all his force made Domni slow in hitting Leto as the downed student rolled away, and the blow hit harmlessly on the ground. Not wasting the opportunity. Leto hoped up from the floor and swung in a wicked arc towards Domni. Domni was barley able to parry the attack in time. With Domni stunned at the sudden reversal, Leto launched himself into a downward attack that was easily parried. However, this was exactly as Leto wanted. With Domni's focused on the sword, Leto dropped himself low and kicked Domni's ankles causing him to lose balance. Off balance, Domni feel to his knees while trying to parry a new downward thrust by Leto. There, on his knees, his sword parrying Leto's, Domni looked up to see his opponent smiling. With a burst of anger Domni pushed Leto's sword off of him and regained his stance. Full of rage, Domni charged forward at Leto. Swinging from the right, Leto barley parried in time and tried to counter attack, but Domni was faster and managed to catch Leto off guard. With one fluid motion Domni's full force collided into Leto's head. Thrown clear off the practice area, Leto fought to remain conscious, feeling as if the whole universe had shook. When he landed he found blood streaming over his eyes and Domni standing over him. For a moment the two simply stared at each other, and with a sigh Domni turned around. Before walking away he called out to Leto.
"For calling you trash earlier, I apologize." And with that Domni walked off.
Leto starred up at the practice room's ceiling as the instructor had come over with medical attention. All soul reapers were spirits after all, so Leto wasn't particularly concerned with his injuries, although it didn't make them any less painful he mused to himself. But a great sense of pride filled Leto; he knew that his time as a soul reaper would be eventful
With an unearthly howl the arrancar threw himself at Leto. Leto easily dodged the attack and quickly countered with a slash of his sword which was blocked by the arrancar's arm, which showed little injury. Sliding back from the attack, Leto was amazed at how powerful the arrancar had become.
The arrancar was laughing, "You truly are amazing Leto, You haven't even released your sword yet and you still have enough spirit pressure to inflict a cut upon me." Abaddon shifted his head and stared directly at Leto. "However, I must know how truly powerful you've become, release your sword now!"
Before Leto could comprehend, the Arrancar was behind Leto and with a great force smacked Leto clear across the ground. Before Leto had even come to a halt the Arrancar appeared in front of him and with a swift kick blasted Leto into the air. Leto landed hard on the ground. He heard the mocking voice calling out to him.
"Release your Zanpaktou Leto, release it, I won't have my victory over you done with you at anything but your full power!"
Stumbling to his feet, Leto cracked his neck and stared right at the arrancar. Bursts of spirit energy began to glow in a blue hue around Leto as he pointed his sword at his opponent. With a loud roar, and a hint of a smile, Leto called out, "DEVOUR AMON!"
15 Years ago- Earth
Leto search the ground around him looking for any signs of spirit energy. He had been given a particularly dangerous assignment to support fellow soul reapers, including his former classmate Domni Akhn, in killing a hollow that had been terrorizing a city. The previous soul reapers sent to dispose the hollow had gone missing in the search for the creature, a fact that unnerved Leto. Since the missing soul reapers were all from the 8th squad, Leto had been nominated to be part of a group to search for them. This time, however, a mix of soul reapers from different squads were being sent, under the command of Domni who had risen to 8th seat in the 11th protection squad. Leto had been inducted to the 8th protection squad a few years earlier, and had quickly risen to 12th seat in the squad. It was an accident, Leto recalled, he had given into a drinking contest offered by, at the time, an unknown man in a brightly colored cloak.
He wasn't part of any squad at the time but had just completed his training at the academy and went out to celebrate with several classmates. Even the Soul Society had a healthy amount of places where one could celebrate with alcohol. One of his friends suggested an establishment that had a particularly attractive waitress; Dolores was her name he recalled. After his classmates had left, Leto still remained sipping on some sake when a stranger came up and asked to join him for a round. Wearing an unusual straw hat and flower covered garb, Leto was suspicious of the stranger but was too intrigued to reject. Over many rounds the two got into a deep conversation over why someone should fight. Leto argued that one should fight to protect that which mattered to them, the stranger questioned the need to fight at all, suggesting that everything in life could be solved with sake. With a swift hand slamming into the table the stranger smiled and told Leto that if he could be bested in a drinking contest he would secede to Leto's point of view. Already very inebriated Leto accepted the man's challenge, but found he was no match, passing out soon after.
The next day at the graduation ceremonies, while standing at attention for final inspection it was announced that 8th squad Captain Kyouraku Shunsui would look over the graduating students. It was much to Leto's shock and horror when the man that began to walk towards him was wearing the same hat and flower covered cloak from the night before. Leto thought that his short time as a soul reaper was over, embarrassing himself in front of someone as powerful as a Captain of the 13 protection squads surely would be the end for him. Standing in the front row, Leto had nowhere to hide himself as the captain approached. Even while avoiding trying to avoid the man's gaze, Captain Kyouraku stopped in front of Leto first. With a hearty smile on his face, the Captain called out to Leto asking since he lost the contest if he would accept his view of fighting. Now meeting the man's eyes, Leto declared that he would always fight to protect what he valued, but he reluctantly added that sake sure was an easy way to defeat him; perhaps it could work on other opponents. Captain Kyouraku paused a moment than laughed and bellowed that Leto should be assigned to his squad stating that he needed people that appreciated the power of sake. After that Leto was immediately transferred to the 8th squad where he quickly adjusted himself.
Leto, even without knowing his zanpaktou's name, had grown into a powerful fighter, and was honored that he would be assigned to such an important mission. However he was filled with grave unease as the soul reapers who were sent out before him were considerably more powerful and had not returned. Leto reminded himself that his primary mission was to rendezvous with his fellow soul reapers and gather intelligence as to the fate of his fellow Soul Reapers. His former classmate, and now team leader, Domni Akhn had gone ahead in searching the last place the hollow was spotted at to which Leto soon followed. It was a warm night Leto observed; he had managed to come to a forest where he began to feel the faint presence of spirit energy. As Leto walked through the forest he came to a clearing, and was becoming aware that he was being watched. Drawing his katana, Leto called out to the darkness "I know you're there, show yourself!"
Leto's beckon was heard and the air around him was filled with a sinister aura, it was so intense it almost brought Leto to his knees. Jumping down into the clearing a huge hollow slammed into the ground. With gigantic arms and a barrel chest, there was something distinctively ape like in the creature. "Ah Leto, so good of you to come, I was beginning to get a little hungry after all."
Leto felt a terrible sense of dread come over him as he gazed at the hollow. Shocked at the comment Leto called out to the beast, "How could you possibly know who I am!?"
The hollow glared at Leto with a vicious smile, "Why your compatriot Domni told me. He's even screaming at me now deep within the recesses of my being. Oh how rude of me. I am called Abaddon, and today I shall be consume you"
Leto stared at the beast, its posture projecting its ravenous nature as if it was consuming him even as the creature sized him up. Shock and horror evident on Leto's face he cried out "What did you do to the other soul reapers!?"
Licking its lips the hollow laughingly replied "I devoured them of course. Oh, I'm not like my brethren who simply consume soul for the energy, I do it as I gain the powers of those souls I eat; which are why I particularly love eating soul reapers. Their thoughts and memories are just a delightful aftertaste that helps me hunt down my next victim. Unfortunately, I'd hoped they would have sent a more powerful soul reaper after the amount I've killed, oh well, I'll consume you even if you are trash."
The insult stung Leto, his voice reminiscent of Domni's. "You bastard Abaddon, I shall slay you here and now for the soul reapers you've kill." With a fresh surge of anger Leto leapt at the hollow. Bringing his sword to bear, Leto slashed widely at the beast.
Despite his huge form, Abaddon was deceptively fast, and quickly dodged each of Leto's attacks. "Come on boy; is this all the strength you have?" With a sweep of its huge arm the hollow smacked Leto hard into a nearby tree. "Your comrades were much more fulfilling. At this rate you aren't even worth consuming." The hollow then charged the stunned soul reaper.
Barley keeping conscious from the impact, Leto realized he had but a moment to react. He summoned his strength and leapt up from the ground into the air above the hollow. Raising his sword high, Leto tried to come down on the hollow in a vicious swing. Before Leto could make his attack though, he heard the words "Destructive art #4: White lightning!" Feeling the pain instantly, a lance of energy shot through Leto's shoulder. Crashing into the ground, Leto found himself looking up in disbelief at the hollow. His voice stumbling from the pain, Leto cried out, "Impossible!? That is a soul reaper attack!"
Abaddon let out a sinister laugh, "You fool have you listened to nothing I have said? I absorb and am able to use the powers of those I consume."
Now bleeding profusely from the wound, Leto gathered what strength he could and rose to his feet. "You'll find I'm full of surprises" Leto spat defiantly at Abaddon. Knowing he would not last much longer, Leto surmised that an energy blast of his own at range could help defeat the need to get in close to the beast. Quickly darting off, Leto used all the speed he could muster. With its inhuman strength and speed the hollow jumped in front of Leto forcing him back.
"Oh I'm not letting you get into position to kill me from a distance boy; you'll have to do it with your very hands." Abaddon licked his lips "Yet, I feel that you are too weak to do so though, perhaps I shall give you a small advantage. Come Leto, come at me and I shall slow my reaction. Feel like you accomplished something before you die; it will make consuming you so much more delicious."
Damn, Leto thought, he's too fast to get off a Kido incantation, guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way. Using all his training Leto lunged at the hollow in its moment of arrogance. With one fluid motion Leto used his sword to dismember the hollows left arm. Abaddon cried out in pain and a glimmer of hope sprung to his mind, I can win Leto thought, I can defeat this creature. Leto didn't have time to enjoy his success though as a terrible light began emanating from the hollow. A cero blast Leto realized in horror! Unable to dodge in time Leto's whole being was consumed by the wretched light. Feeling his every neuron in pain, time seemed to stand still in that one agonizing moment. Even as the light consumed him, he could here the mocking laughter of Abaddon saying "Hmm, it seems you really are trash!" Leto felt utterly helpless.
So this is how I'm going to die, Leto thought to himself as he drifted into his subconscious. Something deep within him began to stir; a rebellious feeling began to overtake him, an undeniable will to live. Still unable to move Leto searched his soul for the strength to live. I WANT TO LIVE, Leto cried to himself, I WANT TO WIN! "What do you have to offer?" a voice called out to him. Leto was taken to place that was strange and yet familiar. It was a dark place whose only objects were an endless series of glowing eyes that stared out from the blackness. "What do you offer?" called the voice again. Leto looked to the multitude of eyes in the blackness and with a firm resolve yelled out "I offer my soul! I offer my soul so that I may continue to protect!" With a dark laughter the eyes all became one and a form began to appear. It was a large humanoid figure with dark tattoos along it its body. Large blackened wings came out of its back and a dark grin gave the being a wholly demonic appearance. Extending a hand towards Leto, the being gave a bow, "You may call me Amon, I am your Zanpachtou, I am now your soul and I will lend to you my strength. Now come, I have much to show you." Leto walked with the creature for what felt like an eternity until the dark place became a place of light. Amon turned to Leto. "I will share my strength with you as long as you share your spirit power with me, I am fueled by spirit energy and the more I get, the stronger I become." The being chuckled to itself, "Or should I now say that WE become stronger." Leto began to glare at Amon, "you sound more like a parasite to me." Showing a wicked smile Amon replied "just know that I absorb spirit energy from everything I touch, as long as there is spirit energy, we can fight. Remember this well Leto, we are now symbiotes and our fates are tied together. As you are now expending twice the amount of spirit energy to keep us sustained, you cannot go on indefinitely without consuming more energy from another source." Leto met eyes with Amon's, "So what happens if I run out of spirit energy?" Amon smiled a deep tooth filled smile, "The same things that happens to all symbiotes when one fails, they both die. Now call me out Leto, unleash my power, search you heart for the word that commands me." And with that the world of light faded and Leto was returned to the forest.
As the light of the cero blast faded, Leto stood tall. Abaddon cried out in shock, "Impossible!" A blue glow of spirit energy permeated the air around him. Leto felt invigorated, a voice began to whisper in his head as his sword began to pulse. Release me Leto, call me out and bring victory! Abaddon, clearly confused at the transpired events, let out a dark bellow and charged towards Leto. Feeling his Zanpachtou in his hand, Leto could feel the energy pulsing, just waiting to be used. Within the depths of his soul he sensed the command that would unleash his sword, and called out "DEVOUR AMON." Leto's katana had transformed itself into a long broadsword with two barbs on the end, its silver finish shimmering in the night. The released energy pushed the attacking hollow back. "This is my Zanpakhtou's true form," Leto called out to the hollow, "and today it shall be I who consumes you!" In defiance, Abaddon responded to Leto by bracing itself as it unleashed another cero blast. The bright light consumed Leto's figure as he remained standing with his sword braced for impact. The light enveloped Leto, but this time there was no pain, he merely felt himself getting stronger. Letting out a laugh, Leto pointed his sword at the armless hollow, "Fool, you've only made me stronger, energy attacks only fuel me now!" Moving at a speed Leto himself thought impossible, invigorated from the absorbed energy, Leto charged the hollow. Trying to counter, the hollow swung its huge remaining arm at Leto, but the Soul Reaper was faster. Using Amon's length in a long sweeping arc, Leto cut across Abbdon's mask slicing it in two. With a surge of released power the hollow exploded, much of its energy being absorbed by Amon. As the creature died Leto swore he could hear its sinister laughter. As Amon absorbed the last of the released energy, Leto quickly began to feel something stir deep inside him.
Within moments Leto fell to ground in pain. Amon reverted to its katana form as Leto dropped it. Holding his head as he lay on the ground felt an immeasurable amount of pain. It felt like he was dying again, trapped in Abaddon's cero blast. As he lay on the ground, he heard a mocking laughter. In the area around him he could still feel Abaddon's presence. Leto tried to gain his bearing, but he felt only pain. Struggling to gain sense of what was going he cried out in pain in a blood curdling scream. A voice called back, it was Abaddon's. "Little Leto I have a gift for you before I go, something for you to remember me by." And with that voice trailed away in laughter and suddenly a pain many times worse cascaded over him. All the dark energy in the area came flooding into Leto's body. In one moment the dark energy of Abaddon merged and fused with Leto's energy. A feeling of burning and pain wouldn't subside as the hollow essence coalesced with his soul reaper energy. The two forces, even in pure energy, seemed to conflict crashing and neutralizing one another as each tried to gain dominance. Just as the pain felt as if it would kill him, Leto felt his face convulsing and changing. Within moments, the pain suddenly stopped, the terrible energies stopped churning inside him. As Leto laid on the ground, he felt that his spiritual pressure had increased dramatically. He also noticed that the wound in his shoulder had healed, but also something was terribly foreign on his face. With a breath that seemed to chill the air, he touched his face to find a hard substance covering him. From the top of what had been his lips around his cheeks to his chin, was a mask; a hollow mask. He could feel the top of his mask had jagged edges, as if it had been violently pulled apart. Leto's reaction was instant as he tried to rip the mask off. Grasping at his face he could find nothing to grab onto and with a terrible epiphany realized that the mask had become permanently fused to him
Before Leto could fully comprehend what had happened he heard voices, familiar voices. "He's over there!" Leto heard them call out. Looking to see who was coming Leto recognized them immediately, soul reapers from the 8th squad. However something was different, they were approaching with swords drawn, forcibly directing them towards Leto as he still lied on the ground. 6 soul reapers quickly emerged from the darkness to surround Leto, he could hear their voices chattering "Look he's actually donned a hollow mask!" "So it's true, he is working with hollow!?" "How could a soul reaper betray soul society?" "Let's just kill him!" A man approached, clearly the leader of the group, over to Leto.
"12th seat Leto Darnell of the 8th Gotei protection squad, you are under arrest for the collaboration with hollows, treason, and most heinous of all the murder of fellow soul reaper Domni Akhn." The man paused and with a hearty smile glared down at Leto. "However, I think it will look much better on me if I kill you trying to 'escape.' Yes that would do nicely. Besides I'd only be taking you back to be killed for your crimes, might as well get the glory myself." Lifting his sword up high, the soul reaper spat on Leto, "Die traitor!"
With his bare hand Leto stopped the oncoming sword. Picking up Amon from the ground, Leto wrestled himself up, still incredibly weak from his transformation. Leto mused to himself that he was already thinking of himself as transformed. As he came to full height Leto ignored the cries of shock around him. Still trying to make sense of the situation Leto needed to get away. Throwing the leader and his sword to the ground, Leto began to stumble off. The men around him quickly reacted and threw their full strength into attacking Leto. Not wishing to harm them but needing a way out, Leto unleashed a torrent of spirit pressure bringing the soul reapers to their knees. With a quick flash step, Leto was away deep into the forest.
As energy swirled around Leto with the release of his sword, the arrancar looked on with its wicked smile. "Ah Amon, the most powerful vampiric zanpakhtou, an elegant weapon, of course it's made you my target and put my plan into motion. An ironic blessing and curse" Abaddon took delight in seeing Leto grasp his sword even tighter. "Once I killed that fool, Domni Akhn, I learned of you from him. I sensed Amon and its power inside you from your fight with him. It was then that I realized your potential, your ability to absorb the spirit energy of anything you zanpachtou touches. I knew then I could turn you into a true synthesis of hollow and soul reaper." Abaddon could tell Leto was intrigued to hear the circumstances of his fall and enjoyed every moment of the regaling of his masterful plot to its unsuspecting victim. Like a spider toying with an insect caught in its web, the arrancar continued on. "You must understand Leto that we arrancar are hollows who've pulled their masks off and gained soul reaper powers. I've even heard there are soul reapers, however disdainful, who've donned masks to gain hollow powers. But in both cases there is a conflict between the soul reaper and hollow energies necessitating a continual battle to maintain dominance, diverting spirit energy. However even with my power to gain the abilities of those souls I consume, I still would never be able to become what you are. But by using Amon to infect your very soul directly with my pure hollow energy, I was able to create a true hybrid able to make use of the full powers of both with no loss of energy to maintain dominance. This is the reason your mask is a permanent part of you, as it is a reflection of your divided soul. And you are simply marvelous. Now when I consume you, I will have your transformed state and will become strong enough to become one of Aizen's espada..." Before the arrancar could finish his sentence Abaddon heard Leto scream out "CHIKE!" With that a massive wave of spirit energy was hurled to Abaddon. Bah, he thought, so Leto's learned how to release his absorbed energy in a focused blast, this will only help his end. Barley escaping in time, Abaddon darted away just as Leto flash stepped in front of him, sword pointed at his throat.
"You arrogant bastard, you drone on as if you have victory in your grasp but you cannot comprehend my resolve! I told you that you would regret using me as your puppet and I promise to make you pay for what you have done. You may have turned me into a monster, but I shall show you what happens when you underestimate those you manipulate!" With a quick thrust Leto lashed at Abaddon. Dodging, the arrancar barley escaped as he began to launch an attack of his own. From behind his back, Abaddon pulled out a sword, a zanpachtou of his own. Swinging in an upward arc it was Leto's turn to barley dodge. Using his sword to block the attack, Leto found himself pushed back. He was quick to realize something strange; Leto absorbed no energy from parrying Abaddon's sword! The arrancar began to laugh insidiously.
Abaddon laughed wickedly at Leto's reaction, "You fool, did you honestly think I would not prepare for your powers? Amon may absorb the spirit energy of anything it touches, but it's only effective as long the thing you're striking exudes some sort of spirit pressure. I have learned to control my spirit energy to the point where I cannot exude any" Smiling, Abaddon presented his sword proudly, "You are on a ticking clock Leto, a clock till you are too weak to fight back!" Charging towards Leto, Abaddon continued his wicked laugh. "So fight Leto, fight as hard as you can for the more you struggle, the more spirit energy you burn that cannot be gained back!" Although Leto managed to dash away in time, Abaddon's sword cut Leto close to the neck, severing his cape. Falling to the ground Leto's true form was shown, his bone colored hollow mask stood out against his soul reaper clothing.
Leto actually managed a smile as he tightened his grip on Amon as he was pushed back by the arrancar's attack, "I guess I'll just have to kill you quickly than. This mask may be a curse, but it amplifies my power exponentially. Plus it gave me some interesting powers," bracing himself, Leto extended his hand and called out "Cero blast!" The dark light enveloped Abaddon as the arrancar was not able to dodge in time. As the light subsided Abaddon remained, but was considerably damaged. Not waiting for his opponent to respond Leto flashed stepped to Abaddon swinging his sword at the beast. Abaddon managed to block in time but Leto was pumping more and more spirit energy into Amon in an attempt to finish off his opponent. Through a series of quick thrusts and parries Leto managed to put Abaddon on the defensive. Although he was skilled with his sword, the sheer amount of spirit energy being absorbed by Amon made Leto inconceivably fast and strong. Knowing his time was quickly running out as Leto used up his spirit energy, he made one strong slash towards Abaddon. In one motion, Leto severed the arrancar's left arm. Abaddon cried out a terrible howl. Leto smiled as he called out to the injured being "That the second arm I've taken, I'm starting to get a nice collection from you. But now is the time to end this. Die Abaddon!" Putting all of his remaining spirit energy into his attack, Leto lunged himself at the arrancar. With Amon pulsing in his hand, he narrowed in on Abaddon's head, in one swipe Leto put everything he had left into a killing blow. In that moment time froze, he recalled his captain's words from years past; his captain had stated that there were two kinds of attacks. Ones that exhaust the user, and ones that can push past a beings limit at the expense of their life force. Putting all the he had in this one attack, Leto realized his move was most certainly the latter.
10 Years Ago- Earth
Leto sat on the top of a skyscraper. He didn't even know what city he was in, he moved so frequently he lost track of his locations. He had donned a high collared cape to help hide his mask. Leto was still ashamed of what he had become. Although Leto kept his hair short, only his eyes were truly visible as Leto watched the world go by below him. Running for so long, Leto reflected, was so draining. He kept his spirit energy up by feeding on the energies of the hollows he defeated in the locations he traveled too. Although he fulfilled soul reaper's duties, he sure didn't feel like one. After the incident in the woods orders to hunt and kill Leto were passed down immediately. Constantly having to avoid search teams from the 2nd squad as well as overly ambitious soul reapers seeking some glory for killing him was exhausting. Leto never once drew his sword against another soul reaper yet his name had become synonymous with infamy and betrayal. After five years on the run Leto had time to sort out what had happened that night in the woods. While "questioning" a few soul reapers who were chasing him, Leto learned that Soul Society had received a message from Domni Akhn claiming that he had become in league with a hollow. It became obvious what had happened as the message was supposedly sent just before Abaddon had fought with Leto, but after Domni was killed. Using Domni's spirit phone, Abaddon had probably sent the message to frame him. Leto reached up and touched his face; after that, the mask and the report were all the evidence Soul Society needed to condemn him to death as a traitor. It was clear that Abaddon wanted Leto to have no support from Soul Society, but why? Leto surmised it simply was the spite of a vengeful spirit; after all in Soul Society there was enough free floating spirit energy to sustain him with no need to absorb anything else. What better curse could there be for a being to lose its purpose and sustainability. With a heavy sigh Leto called out to the darkness. "You can come out, I know your there." A woman in soul reaper robes stepped out of the darkness towards Leto. "8th division Vice Captain: Ise Nanao, I'm impressed you found me." Still not turned around, Leto continued to view the street below.
"You're a hard man to find Leto. From what we at Soul Society hear you continue to elude our search squads without ever drawing your sword." Ise paused, "To be honest we aren't sure what to make of you. We know you are destroying hollows but you wear a hollows mask." With a sigh Ise walked over the ledge and sat with Leto. "What happened to you Leto? Are you really the murder everyone says you are?"
Leto looked over at the soul reaper, "What do you think Ise?" He looked away again "I am a monster, at least that's what that hollow turned me into. My innocence does not matter though, even if I convince you, my name will forever be synonymous with evil. No I did not commit the heinous acts I'm accused of, but my fate has been determined. I fear I will never be able to return to Soul Society." Leto managed a gruff chuckle, "I know this to be true as I can tell you were sent to kill me."
Ise looked away, "Yes its true, Captain Kyouraku was finally forced by the higher ups to deal with the matter initiated by his own squad member once and for all." Smiling now Ise continued, "of course you know the captain, he claimed he was too tired for such an exerting job and sent me." Ise's smile quickly turned into a frown, "Leto I can sense you have become powerful, you even have a captain level spiritual presence. I doubt that even I could defeat you now. However, I don't sense a sinister aura about you, even though it has a distinctively hollow feel. What do you plan on doing with that power?"
Leto stood up, his cape continued to blow in the wind. "I will do what I've always done, I will protect the souls of this world from that which tries to consume him."
Ise stood up as well, staring Leto directly in the eye, "In that case I have an offer directly from General Yamamoto. If you keep protecting the souls of this world the Soul Society will call off your search. In exchange you must accept your permanent exile, and be willing to take specific orders from Soul Society. Know now so there aren't any illusions before you make a decision, you will be used to eliminate threats the Soul Society deems too dangerous to send a normal soul reaper. You will be thrown against threats so vice captains and captains won't have to." Ise eyes narrowed on Leto, "every mission should be prepared with the probability of death. You will, for all intents and purposes, be a disposable asset."
Although Ise couldn't see Leto smile under his cloak, he actually managed a laugh. "And how are you able to make such an offer? Even if this deal is truly secret the general can't really trust someone with my reputation."
Ise looked away, "You have Captain Kyouraku to thank. He poured over the supposed message from Domni Akhn and managed to figure out it was a fake. Although you have been cleared of being a traitor, you still have gained hollow powers, a grave crime, even if it was not your fault. Not to mention that you are an enemy of Domni's family who continue to want their honor satisfied. Ultimately your return would be too much trouble for the Soul Society. However, you have become so powerful that we would still like to count you as an ally" Ise paused, "So Leto, do you accept the general's offer?" Leto paused for a moment then nodded in acceptance. Ise pulled out a small icon from her robes, "Here is a communication beacon, you will be signaled when you are needed." She Paused, "While you are on earth you might want to find someone named Kisuke Urahara in a place called Karakura Town, he might be able to help you with that mask."
Leto took and quickly pocketed the Icon. "Thank you Ise, and make sure to thank Captain Kyouraku when you return. Tell him that I think I finally understand what it means to fight. Guess I owe him some sake." Feeling relived for the first time in years Leto leapt from the building than disappeared into the night.
Leto watched in horror as he looked at the Arrancar. His sword had hit its mark, but instead of severing Abaddon's head from his shoulders, his attack was blocked by the arrancar's sword, shattering it in two. Abaddon wasted not a moment to burst into sinister laughter, "That was it? That was your attempt to kill me? I'm insulted Leto, I had more faith in you than that; how pathetic." With his remaining arm he lifted his broken zanpachtou into the sky and in a terrible howl cried out, "Dolores! Spread your sorrow." In moments Abaddon began bursting into a being double his size. His previously severed arm gradually began to reform itself. Large spikes began appearing from all along his body with two long blade like thorns protruding from his fore arms. The remnants of Abaddon's hollow mask began to reappear around his left eye until it had covered his face from the nose to his scalp, the bottom half of his mask was noticeably missing. Looming over the soul reaper, he called out "Gaze upon me and despair for I am power you cannot comprehend!" With his huge arm blades, Abaddon pierced Leto straight through the center of his body. Even above the pain Leto could hear the arrancar continuing to laugh, "I will now consume you Leto, I was beginning to feel naked without the bottom half of my mask. When I devour your power, I will become strong enough to become an espada, and be close enough to kill Aizen!"
80 Years ago
Ever since his sister, Dolores, died Abaddon could feel and see his deceased sibling around him. He and his older sister were orphaned young and they had to grow up homeless on the streets together. His sister had grown ill with a rare strain of influenza, and the brother and sister could not afford any proper care. When Abaddon's sister eventually died, he wished for one thing, for his sister to always be with him. For almost 10 years, Dolores stayed with Abaddon and watched over him. One day though, a hollow came and devoured Dolores, turning her into a hollow herself. Her soul warped, Dolores killed all those who came in contact with Abaddon in a sick parody of protection until she finally even turned on her little brother in a rage. After devouring so many souls, the hollow Dolores attracted the attention of the soul reapers. One came just as Dolores had turned on Abbadon. He later learned he was a powerful soul reaper named Sosuke Aizen. With a single blow Aizen destroyed Dolores. The feeling of rage in Abbadon was instant; he felt nothing but anger towards the soul reaper who destroyed his sister's spirit. He felt nothing but despair at the thought of life without Dolores's spirit watching over him. Abbadon himself died as a result of his poverty and grief soon afterwards, his heart and soul consumed with hatred of soul reapers turned him into a hollow. As a hollow, Abaddon devoted himself to killing soul reapers, hoping that the one who killed his sister would eventually appear. It was only on a trip to the living world that Abaddon managed to devour several soul reapers, including one that had the knowledge of a comrade, a comrade that could make his dream of vengeance become a reality. His vengeance would require power though, and Abaddon set his devious plan in motion. After letting himself be killed, Abaddon's desire for revenge was so powerful that he was reincarnated in Hueco Mundo, the hollow realm. It was there he naturally managed to pull off his own mask to become an arrancar. Over time, Abaddon sent hollow after hollow at Leto, the embodiment of his future, his path to power, in order to strengthen the soul reapers spirit energy which would eventually be devoured by him. Abaddon needed this power if he was to pursue the soul reaper named Aizen, even if it lead him to invade the Soul Society. Alas, many years later, in a strange turn of events, it was Aizen who took control over Hueco Mundo. However, as a natural arrancar, Abaddon did not have anywhere near the amount of power necessary to challenge the new overlord of his realm and avenge his sister. It was then, Abaddon decided, that the time to consume Leto's power and exact his revenge had come. Doing so would give him more than enough power to become an espada, the group of Aizen's closest minions. Minions close enough to destroy their leader.
10 Years ago
With a quick flick of his wrist, Leto swung Amon in a slicing arc, disintegrating the hollow in front of him. He basked in the power his sword absorbed from the dying hollow. After so long Leto had finally made his way to Kakura town, to find the man named Kisuke Urahara. Throughout his journey he received many calls from the Soul Society to dispatch dangerous hollows. It was a grim life, Leto thought, an ironic fate for one who guides the souls of the dead. His most recent assignment involved destroying a hollow that seemed to have the ability to reform its body as long as it still maintained some spirit energy. Leto's powers made him ideal for dispatching the entity. After walking for a while, Leto came to a small store front with a sign saying Urahara Shop. As he walked towards the entrance he heard a voice behind him.
"Hey mister you sure have an ugly face, not even that cloak covers up how ugly you are." Someone called out. Leto quickly turned around to see a red haired kid holding a broom staring at him. Shock was evident on Leto's face as the souls of the living should not be able to see him. Before he could respond a strange looking man wearing a green stripped bucket hat and a fan in his hand came out of the store and called out to him.
"Hiya Leto, don't mind my employees, they still need to learn some manners." The man walked over and bowed, "I am Kisuke Urahara, I've been expecting you."
Leto's eyes narrowed on the man, "How could you have known I was coming?"
Kisuke looked hurt, "Why wouldn't I know the famous exile from Soul Society that has been slaying hollows!?" The man paused, "Plus Ise told me u'd eventually be coming."
Leto frowned at the comment in disappointment. Can this person really be the man to help me, Leto thought to himself?
Kisuke unfolded his fan, "Now let's get a look at that mask thing you've got on."
The red haired boy scoffed. "No please, he's ugly enough with his cape on." Leto glared at the boy but unhooked his cape letting it fall to the ground. The boy made a visible face of displeasure at the sight of Leto's face.
"Ah I see" Kisuke responded darkly. "So this is what they call an Ushabti, a permanent fusion of hollow and soul reaper. Could Aizen have... well at any rate I thought such a union was impossible; very interesting." The man used his fan to cover his face allowing only his eyes to show. "However, I can see you aren't exactly using its power to the fullest. Perhaps if you can let me analyze you for a while we can unlock your true potential."
The red haired boy stamped his foot into the ground, "No! We can't let the ugly man stay here!"
Leto ignored the boys comment and glared at Kisuke, "Unlock my potential!? Is there no way to get rid of this curse?"
Kisuke closed his fan hard, "In short, no. However it was that you came to be the way you are, the process probably cannot be reversed." The man then smiled, "But as I said before, you are tapping into a fraction of your power. I can show you the path to master your, oh how'd you put it, 'curse.'"
Leto paused for a moment, "How could you possibly help me?"
Kisuke covered his face with his fan again, "Let's just say I'm an exile too."
Abaddon was enjoying every moment of his defeat of Leto. Impaled upon his spiked forearm, the soul reaper barley struggled as the life ran out of him. "And now Leto, any last words before I consume your soul?"
Coughing up large amounts of blood Leto responded, a smile just barley visible on his face, "Just one Abaddon, BAN-KAI!" The night sky was lit up by Leto's energy. In a massive wave of spirit pressure even the giant form of the arrancar was thrown back leaving Leto hovering in mid air, only his silhouette visible through the light. Leto was taken back in his mind to his training with Kisuke, "Now that you have discovered your bankai Leto," Kiskue warned him, "be weary of using it at all costs. For all its strength it can consume your very soul if you lose control of it. Only as an absolute last resort should you dare to unleash Amon's true form." As the light began to dissipate Leto's new form became clear. Over Leto's soul reaper clothing had appeared a silver cuirasses on his chest complimented by long spiked gauntlets that reached up from his hands to his shoulders. Most noticeable of all though were two swords that hovered like satellites around him, each identical looking to Amon save one was black and one was white, complimented the original that was still held proudly in Leto's hand. Calling out, "Behold Amon-Ra, the hidden one, and the bringer of doom," Leto began to absorb the energy of all that was around him from the ground, to the trees, to the air itself; all the matter that surrounded him began to break down into energy as Leto absorbed it. The energy revitalized Leto; the hole in his chest where he had been pierced was slowly healing itself as more and more energy was absorbed. I didn't want to have to do this, Leto thought to himself, while these two swords amplify my ability to absorb spirit energy to the extent I can draw it from the very area I occupy, they hunger for energy just as much as Amon, if not more, meaning that if I cannot provide it to them, they will start devouring my very life force. Again Leto recalled Kisuke's words, "finding and regenerating spirit force is an easy matter, but it's near impossible to recover you life force as it's the energy that keeps your very soul bound to you. If you lose too much of it your soul will detach itself from your being and be lost forever."
Abbadon's shock was apparent, "But how!? You were on the brink of death; you expended all your energy in that final attack, how could you actually be gaining in power?"
Leto's eyes narrowed, "I told you not to underestimate my resolve. This mask, this curse you have put on me, allows me to tap into my hollow side, giving me rapid regeneration. So sorry Abbadon, I hate to disappoint you as your new form is impressive but I will still slay you."
Abbadon snarled, "Don't be getting too cocky boy you haven't even seen the extent of my true form!" With that Abbadon launched himself into an attack. His massive size did not seem to hinder his movement one bit as he reached Leto almost instantly swinging his thorn arms wildly. Laughing in a sick and twisted manner the arrancar called out to Leto, "Feel the wrath of my thorn harvester attack!" Even as Leto blocked and dodged, Abbadon's arms suddenly became full of sharp spikes which launched themselves at the soul reaper. While in flight the multitude of spiked objects split themselves up into more spiked projectiles showering the whole area in needled destruction. As the dust of the attack cleared Leto's form was blocked by his black and white swords which were covered in the spiky protrusions. Lifting themselves from their defensive stance back to hovering around Leto, he called out to Abbadon.
"That was close; those things actually had enough power to embed themselves in my zapachtous, sure hope that's not the best you have to offer though." With a quick flash step Leto was on the offensive. This time though he was fighting with the three swords all attacking the arrancar. Like a dance, Leto thrusted and parried Abbadon's attacks while his hovering swords tried to find weak points in the beast's defense. Within moments the onslaught of attacks got the better of the arrancar allowing Leto to make a wicked wound across Abbadon's chest. Howling in pain the arrancar jumped back. "Even if you have manipulated me; even if it was you who made me what I am, I have grown far beyond the point of control." As the two beings just starred at each other, plotting their next move, Leto again began to absorb the energy around him, creating a powerful shell of spirit energy with a blue hue that lit up the night. Abbadon too began to power himself up as a red aura began to permeate around him. So powerful was the spirit energies being released that rocks and lose object began to float upwards as physics were thrown asunder. It was the arrancar who broke the silence as the two beings energy began to reach critical.
"Although it may be the consummate form, the Ushabti has one glaring weakness, the time it takes to master it completely. As it is a true fusion you have command of both arrays of soul reaper and hollow energies. Although you don't have to fight to maintain dominance as both sides are an equal part of you, they react to the amount of energy you control and summon forth. Your mask, the reflection of your mixed soul, acts as an amplifier of your powers. However, it also amplifies the lack of mastery you have over any part of you resulting in a negative power increase. It is clear that you have managed to reconcile you soul reaper abilities with some hollow powers, and I commend you for reaching bankai, but you use almost none of your hollow energy making you weak. I'm sure you've realized it by now; even in bankai your mask doesn't amplify your powers enough to fully match my spirit energy. Indeed, without complete mastery of your hollow energy, you can never beat me!" The arrancar broke into an insidious laugh. "I can tell you've shunned your hollow energies, buried them deep within you. Your pride as a soul reaper would demand nothing less. However it is that same pride that will be your undoing today as your shame has ultimately left you gimped in this fight. Even if you did decide to accept your hollow energy it would take hundreds of years for you to fully unlock your potential. When I consume you however, I am held to no such bonds. I already have mastery of my hollow energy and am a good way to mastering soul reapers. Yes, this day has gone exactly as I have foreseen." As the two beings powered up something happened. Leto's spirit energy sky rocketed shaking the very ground on which the two beings stood on.
Not meeting Abbadon in the eye Leto spoke softly, "It is true I have shunned my hollow energies. How could I not? It was a hollow that cursed me, I slay hollows, as a soul reaper I am the antithesis of everything hollows like you are. But in the time since you have made me into what I am I have taken control over my powers. I willfully chose to suppress my hollow energy, as I hate its very feel, its essence and aura. But I realize today what better use could there be than to use that same energy to slay a hollow." Leto's rapidly expanding blue aura began to turn purple as the reddish energy of his hollow powers joined with his blue soul reaper energy. "You say this has gone exactly as you have foreseen, well I assure you that this is not how you thought it will end." Leto let himself mentally call out to Amon. Feed on this spirit energy; take it all, I give it as fair sacrifice. His three swords hungrily obliged devouring his spirit energy all the way down to his very essence. Sparks of purple energy crackled off each of the swords as they connected with the air around them, if I fail, Leto thought to himself, my swords will consume my very soul. "Let us end this now Abaddon. I'm putting all I have into this last attack. Prepare for the end."
Abaddon was simply stunned, how could this be possible!? On his own Leto could never have gained so much control of his hollow energy, his whole plan had been to make him focus on developing his soul reaper side resulting in a power decrease as he neglected his hollow powers. So why was he able to control it as if it was nothing? Abbadon had worked for far too long, sacrificed too much to let his plan for vengeance be ruined. No, he would win; he was willing to give everything too. With that he pushed all his remaining spirit energy into his two arms as innumerable spiky protrusions appeared. "Prepare to die Leto; grand thorn harvester attack!" In a fury of projectiles, Abbadon threw himself at Leto with all the power the arrancar could muster. Just his attack was about to reach Leto, a blinding light illuminated the sky.
"MAGNA CHIKE!" All three of Leto's swords fired off blast of energy in unison creating a detonation so giant that it looked as if a star had exploded on the very earth. All of Leto's spirit energy was released in one massive blast evaporating the incoming projectiles and Abaddon as well.
As the energy blast consumed Abaddon, there was nothing but shock in the arrancar's mind. But how!? I had planned for so long, sacrificed everything, why was a being of my own creation able to beat me? Forgive me Dolores; I will not be able to avenge you. As the blast subsided, Abaddon's mangled torso lay at the bottom of a huge crater left by Leto's attack. As if the earth was trying to heal its wound the sky began to rain. A clearly fatigued Leto, his sword having reverted back to its original katana form, stumbled down to the body of his adversary.
As he looked down at Abaddon, Leto realized that there was still some life left in the arrancar. As he gazed upon his enemy he felt only pity as the near lifeless body still tried lash out at Leto. "So filled with rage and hatred, what a miserable being you really are."
Barley able to speak, Abaddon spoke with a gruff harshness, "I...I must absorb-b your power. ..Must kill-l Aizen." Even as Abaddon spoke, Leto let out a sigh and with a quick flick of his wrist stabbed the arrancar through its broken mask, purifying the entity. As the being evaporated in front of him, Leto felt a sense of calm. May you finally find peace you tortured soul, he thought to himself. After using up all his spirit energy, he fell to the ground. Being out of energy, darkness overtook him as Leto faded into unconsciousness as the soul reaper approached death. With one final thought Leto managed a smile as he grimaced how much he was going to miss a good cup of sake.
As Leto drifted off into death, a man's sandals splashed the slowly accumulating water around the dying man. With his straw umbrella and green stripped bucket hat, he looked down at Leto with a smile.
Lying on the floor unconscious, Leto was surrounded by two men. One had a familiar spirit presence, one did not. Kisuke Urhara stood out as he would in any situation, but the other figure seemed to blend in to the low lit room. His light brown skin and partial black soul reaper clothing made his features almost invisible. The man's robe had been cut into a long sleeve vest, his muscular physique showing through. The mysterious figure spoke first, "Will he survive?"
Kisuke shrugged, "I don't know Ethan, that's all up to him and how strong his will to live is. I've managed to give him enough spirit energy to sustain him but his zanpachtou managed to start absorbing his life force so his fate is unknown. Hell, he may even stay in a coma forever for all I know."
The dark figure remained silent for a moment and began to walk away. As he left the room he paused, "If he ever does wake up contact me immediately, I have great need of him." The man continued to walk away and almost in passing said, "Keep him safe Urahara, Aizen's agents will come for him soon." Unsheathing his zanpachtou he stabbed the air in a downward fashion literally ripping reality creating a dark portal through which the man stepped, disappearing into nothingness.
Meanwhile in Hueco Mundo
Ulquiorra Schiffer walked up to the throne upon which lord Aizen sat. "What do you have to report Ulquiorra? Did Abaddon manage to absorb Leto's powers?"
Bowing his head Ulquiorra replied, "No lord Aizen, Abaddon was slain. Leto however has entered a coma."
Making no facial response initially, Aizen merely smiled, "No matter, the plan remains the same. I'll need you to bring him to me immediately."
Ulquiorra bowed again, "As you wish lord Aizen."
To Be Continued...