Categories > Anime/Manga > Bleach > The Rise of the Hollow King

Chapter 7

by Karasu-Tenka 0 reviews

Tatsuki arrives in Hueco Mundo

Category: Bleach - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Characters: Arisawa Tasuki,Kurosaki Ichigo - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2017-11-11 - 6248 words

Tatsuki stared dumbfounded up at the enormous structure that rose out of the desert sands. "This is..."

"Las Noches." Ulquiorra said, beginning to make his way towards the palace. "Our home, and the seat of Shiro-sama's power." He considered her reaction to the building for a moment. "Come." He said, "Shiro-sama awaits us."

With that, he vanished away in a puff of sand using sonido. Tatsuki blinked in surprise, dimly recalling using the ability in Soul Society. Trying to recall how she had moved so fast, she began to feel the reishi particles in the air around her. Gathering them beneath her feet, she let out a surprised yelp as she flashed forward with a sonido of her own.

Ulquiorra waited for her at the top of the next sand dune, watching her slightly clumsy movements. "You seem to know nothing of reishi manipulation... or your own abilities." He observed, his tone neutral.

She came to a stumbling stop beside him, straining to not drop Orihime's sleeping body as she did. "Yeah well... that's not exactly something they teach you in high school." She closed her eyes, allowing her senses to flare to life once more, feeling the air around her and the sand beneath her feet in a way that she had never thought possible until that moment.

Ulquiorra watched her for a few moments, an odd expression on his normally neurtral face. "Tell me..." He said, curiosity in his tone, "What is it like to see the world as you now do for the first time? I can no longer remember a time when reishi and reiatsu were unknown to me."

She slowly opened her eyes once again, "It's... incredible... It feels like the whole world is alive and buzzing with energy. It's like... a tiny charge of static across my skin. I feel so alive!" She shivered at the sensation, her every sense tingling with the feeling of connection.

Ulquiorra nodded once again, apperantly satisfied with the answer. Looking up to the pale glowing moon, "Savor that feeling. For eternity stretches before you now. And the time may come, that you will long for something new once more." Tatsuki blinked at him, confused by the statement, but she nodded quietly just the same. "Try to keep up this time." He leaped away once more, moving towards Las Noches.

What a wierd guy... Tatsuki thought, gathering the reishi beneath her and blinking forward once again.


Shiro sat on his throne, smiling slightly as she entered the throne room. Even prepared as she was, having been told by Ulquiorra, and having remembered bits and pieces of their meeting by the riverbank as she had traveled across the desert of Hueco Mundo, Tatsuki still felt her breath catch in her throat when she saw Ichigo's face. Ulquiorra stopped at the base of the stairs leading to the throne and bowed slightly. "I've returned Shiro-sama, with the one you requested."

"Thank you for retrieving her, Ulquiorra." Shiro's deep voice rumbled across the massive throne room, "It would have been troublesome if she'd gotten lost in that tunnel system." His smile widened slightly, "Tatsuki. Welcome to Las Noches."

Tatsuki felt her grip on Orihime tighten protectively. "Ichigo..." She said quietly.

"Eh?" A voice rang out to Tatsuki's left, "You seriously had Ulquiorra go pick out a new pet for you Shiro-sama?" She turned to see a tall man with short spiky blue hair leering at her, "You mean Hallibel's girls and that bitch Nel aren't enough for you?"

Tatsuki felt her cheeks flush in anger. "What did you just call me, you pig?"

"Grimmjow... must you antagonize everyone you meet?" A blonde woman leaned against a pillar to Grimmjow's right, she wore a pair of baggy hakama and a tight fitting coat that stopped just below the middle of her breasts, and rose up to cover the lower half of her face.
"It's clear that this one is the result of the experiment you recommended." She turned to consider Tatsuki for a moment, "And besides... I think she may be stronger than you as well."

"Eh?!" Grimmjow's eyes snapped back and forth between the blonde and Tatsuki, "No way this bitch is stronger than me."

Tatsuki felt her hatred of the man grow stronger by the second. "Enough." Shiro's voice cut through her, snapping her attention back around to him. "Grimmjow... Hallibel's right. You really do seem to have a problem with just about every new Arrancar I make." He looked back to Tatsuki, "You'll need to forgive Grimmjow." He said with a small smirk, "He's a superlative fighter, but somewhat lacking in the realm of manners. Especially when it comes to women."

Tatsuki snorted derisively. "He'd just better watch his mouth from now on." She said, her tone dangerous enough to cause Hallibel to blink in surprise. "You seem a little different from the last time we met 'Shiro'. You're being a bit more polite."

Shiro chuckled, before closing the distance between them in the time it took Tatsuki's heart to beat. He towered over her, all mirth and kindness gone from his expression. Tatsuki felt her heart stop, paralyzing terror flooding through her as he glared down at her. "Out of defference to the memories of Kurosaki Ichigo which I possess, I thought it better to be polite now that you are an Arrancar and actually worthy of my time." His voice was low and murderous, "But do not mistake that as leave to become overly familiar. I am the king." He leaned closer, until their eyes were only inches apart, "And you are in my world."

Tatsuki felt her knees give out, she fell to the floor, unable to look away from those terrifying black-yellow eyes. She managed to nod once in understanding, barely able to breathe. Shiro's eyes continued to bore into her, seeming to lay her very soul bare before him. Finally, the fear began to lessen and he turned away from her, returning to his throne with another impossibly fast sonido.

"See that you remember that." He said, sitting back down.

Slowly, Tatsuki rose again to her feet, beads of sweat running down her neck, and her legs shaking. "Wh-what can I do for you then... Shiro-sama...?"

He leaned back in his seat, resting his chin on a fist, "You can get yourself acquainted with Las Noches, learn everything you can about the palace. Hallibel will show you to your personal quarters. There's a spare chamber connected to them where you can place Inoue Orihime. I'll assign a few lower tier Arrancar to help take care of her."

Hallibel nodded, gesturing for Tatsuki to follow her. As the two left, Grimmjow snorted, "You really know how to pick'em, Shiro-sama."

"Get used to the idea of having her around Grimmjow." Shiro's smile turned unusually cruel. "Because once she's situated, you are going to be training her."

Grimmjow stared dumbstruck up at the throne. "That's not even remotely funny." He said after a few minutes, his expression mutanous.

"That's good, because I wasn't joking." Shiro rose, walking down the steps towards the blue haired Espada. "I know Tatsuki, if her preferences for combat as an Arrancar are even remotely similar to what they were when she was human, you will be the best choice to train her how to use her new abilities. And besides, she's strong, think of how much stronger training with her will make you." He paused, patting Grimmjow on the shoulder, "I'm counting on you for this Grimmjow. I have high hopes for Tatsuki, so I need her fully ready to fight for me as soon as possible. Whip her into shape for me."


Hallibel led Tatsuki through the halls of the palace silently, only sparing even a glance back at the younger woman every few minutes to make sure she was still there. They walked for what felt like an eternity, through countless winding corridors and up several flights of stairs. The scale of the place left Tatsuki stunned, every hallway, every corridor was massive, the smallest that they walked through being easily a hundred feet high at the ceiling.

Then they entered the sunlight. If Tatsuki had been expecting anything to be inside Las Noches, it wasn't the enormous open desert that she suddenly found herself looking out over. Above her, blue sky spread as far as she could see. All across her vision, blocky towers rose up from the desert sands, Some were comparatively short and squat, while others reached high into the sky.

Hallibel noted Tatsuki's amazed expression. "We are currently under the dome." She said with a small chuckle, "The sunlight is completely artificial. Come this way." She flashed away with a sonido, heading out into the desert.

Tatsuki readjusted her grip on Orihime, and followed her. They stopped in front of one of the medium sized towers. "This tower is yours." Hallibel stated simply. "The entire structure, there are bedchambers, studies, and training halls throughout it, and enough room to house any Fraccion you eventually claim as your own. Shiro-sama seems to think you have what it takes to be an Espada, and I personally hope that he's right."

It took Tatsuki a few seconds to realize what the blonde haired woman had said, after that, she stood gaping at the tower for another few minutes. Even though it was shorter than many of the other towers within the dome, it still loomed over her, easily the size of a small skyscraper. "What... what do you mean 'mine'?" She asked dumbly, unable to even comprehend having something so huge as her home. "You could fit half of Karakura in this thing..."

"Something you need to understand," Hallibel said, "Shiro-sama does not suffer fools, nor has he patience for those who disrespect him. But he is generous to those who serve him faithfully." Then she nodded, "Now if you will excuse me. I need to go ensure that my Fraccion haven't murdered each other." There was an almost maternal smile in her tone as she vanished away with a sonido.

Tatsuki stared up at the massive tower for another few minutes, still unable to believe that the entire thing was hers. Finally, she looked down to the sleeping form of Orihime in her arms, "Well... I guess we hit the big time now, haven't we Orihime?" She then leaped upwards powerfully, landing on a massive balcony near the top of the tower.

The balcony led into a large, extremely luxuriously furnished chamber, dominated by a massve bed set against the far wall. There was already someone waiting there for her as she landed. She was a skinny looking woman, just slightly taller than Tatsuki, with a broken hollow mask in the form of a simple white hairband across the top of her light chestnut brown hair. She was dressed in a white kimono and stood quietly just inside the chamber. As Tatsuki landed on balcony, she bowed.

"Greetings Tatsuki-sama, I am Giri. Shiro-sama has instructed that I assist you in any way you deem fit." She gestured to a door that lead out of the room, "If it pleases you, I have prepared a bed chamber in the next room for your guest."

Tatsuki blinked in surprise, not used to being treated so formally. "Er... ok. Good... thank you." Giri led the way through the door. The room that she had prepared was only slightly smaller than the main room next door, and could easilly have fit Tatsuki's old home in Karakura town inside it twice over.

Giri helped her set Orihime down on the enormous bed, ensuring that the human girl would be comfortable, even if she didn't know it. She then led Tatsuki through the tower, showing her key rooms of interest. Finally, an hour later, the two found themselves back in the main room, Tatsuki looking out over the desert, and Giri standing respectfully a few paces away.

"Will you be needing anything else today Tatsuki-sama?" The Arrancar asked.

"Just one thing." Tatsuki turned, looking the other woman up and down with a curious gaze. "What exactly is your role here? Are you my maid or something?"

Giri bowed her head just enough to lower her gaze away from Tatsuki, "Shiro-sama assigned me to fulfill any role you require of me. All Espada have at least one Fraccion, an... underling, you can call them. I am yours. Or at least your first Fraccion. I suspect that as you grow more used to life within Las Noches, you will claim more, in order to fill roles more... efficiently."

Tatsuki considered the woman, "So you're my 'underling' then?"

"That is correct Tatsuki-sama."

This is just getting ridiculous... first a skyscraper mansion, now a freaking servant. She forced her face to stay as neutral as possible. "That's all I think I'll need for today Giri-san." The Fraccion bowed again and vanished away with a sonido, leaving Tatsuki truly alone for the first time since she had awakened in Seireitei. She sighed, suddenly realizing how incredibly exhausted she felt.

Wandering over to the massive bed, she fell forward, asleep before she even hit the covers.


"This is unacceptable!" Commander Yamamoto's voice rang out across the emergency captain's meeting. "Not only did we allow an Arrancar into the Seireitei unnoticed, but we allowed her to escape with Inoue Orihime!" The captains all stood, silent as their commander berated them. "How could no one have noticed that Arisawa Tatsuki had been hollowfied? Her condition was checked every hour!"

Kurotsuchi Mayuri stepped forward at that, "I believe that I know." Taking the commander's pointed silence as permission to continue he went on, "I examined the room in which the girl slept, as well as the bodies of her victims, and I discovered something very interesting. Trace amounts of extremely potent Pheromones." When the others blinked in confusion, Mayuri sighed, "Pheromones are released from a body naturally as a form of non-verbal communication," He explained, "They can send very subtle, or very strong messages. From arousal to fear. I suspect that this Arisawa girl is somehow able to produce and release a variety of pheromones which have a somewhat more... potent effect on her surroundings. There were concentrated levels of them in the room where she was sleeping, unsurprisingly, that transmitted a signal to the brain that 'everything was ok'. While on two of her victims, there were a variety of them, one that lowered inhibitions, one that generated arousal in the subject, and one that induced an almost post-hypnotic trance." He glanced around the room, watching as they began to process his words. "What this means, is that this Arisawa girl, is quite possibly, with some training, one of the most dangerous assassins and close range fighters that Shiro possesses."

Kyouraku spoke up then, a slightly confused look on his face, "Wait... I get how she can be used as an assassin. But what about these pheromone things makes her so dangerous in a close quarters fight?"

"Think about Leiutenent Abarai's report of his confrontation with her." Said Unohana, "He claimed that when she directed her attention at him, his vision grew blurry and it became difficult for him to stand. Now imagine if they were in the middle of a heated battle and that happened."

Kyouraku's face blanched as his imagination completed the grisly scene that could have unfolded. "Oh." Was all he could bring himself to say.

"And to make matters worse, she managed to escape with Inoue Orihime, who's power holds an incredible strategic value." Komamura said, his expression dark. "How could we have let this happen?"

Urahara Kisuke stepped forward, his gaze lowered, "I take full responsibility for this disaster..." He said, his voice seemed weak, as though he could only just remember how to speak. "It's my fault. I should have realized that Shiro had used the Hōgyoku on her, but I allowed him to goad me instead. I should have checked her before bringing her here like a fool."

"Now, now. No more of that Kisuke-san." Kyouraku said with a small smile, "Shiro played you. He played us all. That girl got inspected by half of Squad Four, Unohana-san included, and no one noticed the hollowfication."

"While that is certainly true." Mayuri spoke up again, sneering at Kisuke, "You are entirely correct when you say that you allowed this to happen by letting him provoke you so easily." He let out a small mocking laugh. "The creature is barely sixteen years of age. And yet you allowed it to manipulate and maneuver you like you were the child."

"Enough Kruotsuchi." Soi Fong seemed surprised by her defense of the man she had spent a hundred years hating, but she jumped to his aid anyways. "Urahara has already beaten himself up about this incident enough as it is. We don't need you making it worse."

"Hmph." Mayuri stepped back, apparently satisfied by the pained look in Kisuke's eyes, "Very well."

"Enough of this," Yamamoto said, tapping the butt of his staff on the floor loudly. "All of you, return to your duties and await further instructions. Urahara Kisuke, stay here."

The captains filed out one at a time. Unexpectedly, as she passed him, Kisuke felt Soi Fong place an encouraging hand on his arm. He smiled lightly at the action before turning to face the Commander.

"This blunder is unlike you Urahara." Yamamoto said bluntly. "What happened?"

"I underestimated Shiro's depravity." Kisuke replied, thinking back to the confrotation on the riverbank. "He uses the memories of Kurosaki Ichigo as a weapon, aiming for weak points that he knows a person has. Either physically, or in my case, mentally."

"Oh?" Yamamoto considered the man for a time, "And what manner of mental weakness might you bear?"

"It's not important Yamamoto-dono." Kisuke hardened his gaze, feeling his hatred for Shiro return once again. "He won't be able to use it against me again."

"See that he doesn't. Make no mistake, we have fallen behind with this loss. We cannot afford to allow Shiro any more advantages."


Kurosaki Karin woke slowly. Sitting up, she looked around the still unfamiliar room she and her sister shared in the Shiba mansion. It was odd sleeping in a traditional Japanese home, like waking up in some old Samurai movie. That's doubly true now... She thought with an odd smile, Since everyone around here seems to actually be samurai.

She got up quietly, carful not to disturb Yuzu, and got dressed, grumbling a little at the kimonos which had become their primary clothing in the past few weeks. Then she silently slid open the door, and stepped out onto the wooden walkway.

For as odd, and out of place she felt in the mansion, she found that the large garden that sat in the middle of the structure, ringed by the walkway was her favorite place. It was peaceful, and oddly enough, reminded her of Ichigo. She walked through the garden to her favorite spot, a beautiful clearing under a sakura tree. The tree was just starting to come into bloom this week, and she lay down under it, feeling as though the last few weeks just hadn't happened.

As she lay there beneath the sakura tree, she heard footsteps approaching. Frowning, she sighed, "Up a little early aren't you dad?"

Isshin stopped on the path, smiling affectionately, "I wanted the chance to spend some time with my family before work."

"Hmph... I'm still mad at you for lying about all this for my whole life." She opened her eyes, fixing her father with a withering glare, "And I will never forgive you for not helping Ichi-nii." Her voice was low, but it cut across the garden like a blade, causing Isshin to flinch. "If you're so damned powerful, why the hell did Ichi-nii never have you there? You should have helped him when he needed you, instead of cowering at home."

"Then what?" Isshin's pained expression broke as he gazed back at her, "What would I have done if something had happened to you and Yuzu?" Karin paused, "I know that I should have told Ichigo about my powers... I should have trained him... prepared him... But I couldn't just leave you and your sister. I made my choice, Karin. And that's something that will haunt me until the day I die." He sighed heavily, sitting down on the grass across from her. "Could I have kept Ichigo alive if I had gone with him? Maybe... but I couldn't risk you two as well. I chose to trust that Ichigo was ready for what he was getting into, I chose to believe that Kisuke and Yoruichi had trained him enough to survive... And in choosing that, I chose to accept whatever came from it. And that choice has broken my heart almost every morning since."

"Dammit! Just let me hate you!" Karin screamed, jumping to her feet, tears in her eyes. "At least then I'll have a face to hate instead of some damned story!" She turned and ran down the path, towards the main house.

"She's still angry at you huh?" Isshin turned, seeing Yuzu standing on the path, her own expression sad.

"Yeah..." He sighed, standing up and walking over to her. "She's upset, and she blames me for Ichigo's death. I can't say that she's entirely wrong either..."

"No." Yuzu tried to smile, hugging him tightly. "The only one to blame is the monster that killed him. No one else."

Isshin smiled softly down at her. "I wish I had your ability to see the world so clearly Yuzu..." Finally pulling away from her, he patted her gently on the head, "I have to go now... The Old Man want's me to kick the punks of squad Nine back into shape."

Yuzu grinned up at her father brightly, "Do your best then."

"Mmhm. Try to help out your sister. She won't talk to me, but she still loves you more than life." With that, he smiled again and vinished away with a shunpo.

Yuzu sighed after she was sure he was gone, feeling her tears start to gather again. "Dammit..." She choked, "Putting on a strong front is harder than I thought..." She rubbed her eyes dry, and walked towards the main house calling out to her sister as she went. "Karin... where'd you go?"

She found Karin in a room that had been turned into a dojo during the reconstruction of the house. The dark haired girl was kicking a sandbag as hard as she could. Lines still streaked her face from her already dried tears.

"Here to ask me to play nice with him?" She asked, showing no other sign acknowledging her sister's presence. She drove a kick into the bag hard enough to rock it's stand as she spoke.

"These fights of yours are tearing us apart Karin. We need to be a family again..."

"Well maybe that bastard should have thought about that before he sent Ichi-nii off to die!" Karin kicked even harder, nearly knocking the bag from it's holder.

Yuzu flinched, "Please Karin... can't you at least try?"

Karin stopped kicking, breathing heavily from the exercise. "Can't you see Yuzu?" She turned to face her sister, her expression hard. "He lied to us. Our whole lives, he lied to us about everything, and smiled that stupid grin of his the whole time. I can't trust him anymore... What if he's still lying about something?"

Yuzu blinked in shock, "Like what?"

Karin paused, lowering her gaze, "Like how Ichi-nii really died."

Yuzu couldn't believe what her sister was saying. "You can't possibly be serious... You've seen how he's been taking Ichi-nii's death. It's torn him apart! He tries to put on a strong face for us... he tries to pretend that he's ok... but I've seen him when he thinks he's alone..."

"So have I." Karin said, turning back to her sister. "I've seen him at night, after you're asleep, and he thinks he's the only one still up. But I also saw Urahara-san's expression." Yuzu blinked in confusion. "The day dad brought us here, the day he... told us about Ichi-nii... I saw Urahara-san's expression when dad told us how he died." Her expression grew darker, "Dad lied. Or at least he didn't tell us everything... And until he comes clean about that... I can't trust him ever again."


"So, what do you think, Ulquiorra? Nelliel?" Shiro sat in his personal chambers, the two Espada with him. They were seated around a small table, cups of tea in front of them, as the endless night of Hueco Mundo glittered outside, visible from the massive balcony that reached from the tower.

"Hmph." Nel huffed, before drinking, "I guess she's not as useless as she was before. But I still don't see what's so special about her."

Ulquiorra said nothing for a time, gathering his thoughts, his large green eyes almost seeming to glow in the pale moonlight. "I believe that it is still too early to tell." He finally said at length. "She seems to be confident in herself, but she is unaware of even her most basic abilities beyond an instinctual level. Also... she appears to naturally shroud her reiatsu somehow, which makes it difficult to sense her true strength."

"Hmm... She reminds me of Kurosaki Ichigo. Back when he first gained his powers." Shiro said, a small grin on his face. "I have a feeling she'll make for a very dangerous ally."

Ulquiorra nodded, but Nel simply crossed her arms, clearly unimpressed. "I doubt she'll even survive the first few minutes of training with Grimmjow. He'll tear her to pieces, especially after how they were introduced."

As she spoke, a surge of heavy reiatsu erupted from below them. "Speak of the devil... Looks like Grimmjow decided not to wait." Shiro rose, finishing off his tea in a single gulp. "Shall we go watch?"

Ulquiorra and Nel both nodded, standing as well and following Shiro down the stairs to an elevator-like contraption, which let them out in the throne room. From there, they traveled to the inner dome via sonido, and took up positions atop one of the towers. A few moments later, they were joined by Hallibel, her three Fraccion in tow.

"Shiro-sama! Ready to watch your new girl get the shit kicked out of her?" Asked Emirū Apacchi, her black shoulder-length hair blowing with a small breeze that fluttered past.

"Watch you're tongue, you stupid bitch! That's Shiro-sama you're talking to!" The amazonian Franceska Mila Rose snapped at her fellow Fraccion, "We owe him our damn lives! Have a little respect."

"You both make far too much noise." Sneered Cyan Sung-Sun, holding her long sleeve covered hand up to cover her mouth. "You're embarrassing Hallibel-sama."

"Fuck off Sung-Sun!" The other two snapped in unison.

Shiro felt his patience start to wear thin, but managed to maintain an air of calm. "We'll see how well she does, Apacchi." He said, causing the three bickering Fraccion to quiet instantly. "And while I'm glad to see you three have made such a... speedy recovery from the injuries you sustained in the battle against Soul Society, I would appreciate it tremendously if you would argue somewhere else."

He could instantly the fearful sweat that formed on all three of them as they quickly caught the hint. Bowing, and tripping over themselves in apology, they quickly flickered away to another tower a few hundred yards away. Even with the distance, he could still arguing over who's fault it was that he'd grown angry with them.

"My appologies for their behavior, Shiro-sama." Hallibel bowed lightly, "They've always been like this, and it seems that not even almost dying can cure them of their animosity towards each other."

"They're just lucky the boss seems to be in a good mood today." The voice of Coyote Stark appeared behind them as he arrived with Lilinette. "Still, I'm curious to see if this new girl can deliver on Shiro-sama's expectations."

As he spoke, a tower off in the distance seemed to shatter as something hit it with terrible velocity. Shiro smiled a humorless smile, "I guess it's time to find out."


A surge of bloodlust woke Tatsuki, her instincts kicking in an instant before the blade stabbed down towards her heart. Throwing herself to the side, she came up in a crouch, facing her attacker.

"Oh? So you actually managed to dodge that eh?" Grimmjow gave her a lecherous sneer as he rested his Zanpakutō against his shoulder. "Maybe you're actually worth a shit after all."

"What the hell are you doing here you bastard?" Tatsuki snarled, her hatred for the blue haired man rolling off her in waves.

"Shiro-sama ordered me to kick your worthless ass into shape. Teach you how to use your abilities. And there's no better way to learn than a trial by fire." He suddenly lunged forward, sweeping his Zanpakutō around in a brutal cleaving strike.

His speed caught her off guard, catching her in the side and hurling her out across the balcony and over empty space. He blinked in mild surprise as she fell out of his view. She has a pretty tough Hierro... He thought, looking at the clean blade of his Zanpakutō, Not even a scratch eh... this may actually be more fun than I expected.

He walked casually out to the edge of the balcony, his blade once again resting on his shoulder. As he looked over the edge to see where his foe had landed, his eyes widened in shock. He managed to throw himself backwards as Tatsuki lunged past him, her powerful leap carrying her up and over to land behind him as he rolled to a kneeling stop.

"You asked for it you son of a bitch!" She punched down at his head. His eyes widened again when he realised that she wasn't punching bear-handed. She wore what looked like a pair of blackened gauntlets. They covered the backs of her hands, and reached a few inches up past her wrists, they also seemed to have a small armored plate covering the palm of the hand, but left her fingers mostly uncovered, only reaching to the middle joint of each digit. A wicked looking spike protruded from each knuckle on both gauntlets, and a handful of them were currently aimed right for his eyes.

Grimmjow hauled his Zanpakutō up, barely managing to get it between his face and the oncoming fist in time, blocking with the flat of the blade. What the fuck?! He suddenly found himself thrown out over the edge of the balcony, the unexpected force of the blow taking him completely by surprise. He crashed into a tower almost a hundred yards later, coughing as he shook his head. Was that bitch Hallibel right? Can she really be that strong?

His thoughts were interupted as Tatsuki reappeared before him, a wordless howl of rage on her lips and her right leg already scything around in a brutal roundhouse kick aimed for his head. Snarling in fury, he leaped up the tower, dodging the kick and skidding to a halt several yards away before lunging blade first at the young woman.

The two clashed in midair in a burst of reiatsu. Grimmjow's greater weight bore down on Tatsuki, pushing her towards the sands below. Grimmjow meanwhile blinked in surprise, noticing that she had managed to catch the point of his blade in her armored hands. As the two fell, Tatsuki grabbed the back of his blade and pulled him forward, driving a knee heavily into his nose when he got close enough. As his vision exploded in pain from the blow, he hauled himself around, driving his foot into her exposed stomach and kicking her into the wall of the tower beside them. The kick gave Grimmjow enough momentum to throw himself back out into open air, coming to rest several yards above the sand.

His victory was short lived however as Tatsuki shot from the wall like a bullet, closing the distance between them in a matter of brief seconds. However this time, Grimmjow was ready for her. Slicing up just before her punch reached him, he knocked her fist aside, breaking her momentum and leaving her open. Spinning around, he delivered another brutal kick to her stomach, knocking the wind from her and hurling her back into, and this time through the tower behind her.

As he watched the tower shatter beneath her impact, he breathed heavily. Shit... this chick can fucking fight! He thought, grinning despite himself. It's almost like fighting him again. He blinked in shock as he realized that he had just compared this girl to Kurosaki Ichigo. Now I see why Shiro-sama wanted her...

The dust from the clloapsing tower was beginning to clear. Grimmjow saw his opponent standing on the air just beyond the wreckage, breathing hard as she recovered from the blow he had dealt her, and also seeming surprised that she was standing on empty air. "What's the matter?" He called out, "You aren't giving up yet are you? This is just starting to get fun!" He lunged forward once again, bringing his blade up into a vicious slash towards her chest.

Just before his strike was about to connect, he saw her lips curl into a grin. Then she rolled to the side, the blade a hair's breath above her as she planted her palm on the air and brought her feet up to lash at his face in a flurry of kicks. The blade of his Zanpakutō continued it's now useless arc as he felt his nose flatten under the force of the first blow, he managed to turn his face to the side as the second one came in, and by the time the third kick connected with the back of his head, he had managed to regain momentum and brought his Zanpakutō around in a glittering cleave to her side.

Again, her Hierro saved her from what would otherwise have been a killing blow. Tatsuki felt the air rush from her lungs under the force of Grimmjow's strike, falling away from him and trying to regain her footing on the reishi particles around her. Shit... She thought, watching Grimmjow lunge towards her again, I need to break his momentum again. Something within her seemed to sense her need, and she felt a sudden burst of reiatsu surge forth from her own chest. What the...?

Grimmjow was just about to strike once again, when her reiatsu burst outwards. "Fuck!" He swore throwing himself backwards, and coming up to stare in shock at the woman he'd been fighting. What the hell is with this reiatsu? He thought, She wasn't putting out nearly this level of power just a second ago... Is this her real strength? As he thought about what to do next, his head suddenly began to throb in pain and his vision started to blur. What?!

He didn't get another chance to think as Tatsuki vanished, reappearing behind him and punching brutally into the middle of his back, before spinning up and around and kicking down hard into the crown of his skull. The Sexta Espada hurtled to the ground, the sand exploding away from his point of impact in a massive cloud.

Tatsuki examined her hands as her momentum died down, leaving her standing in the air alone. Is this... my power? All around her, she could see faint traces of her own reiatsu drifting lazily through the air. I see... This is how I got those shinigami to do what I wanted... She thought with a small chuckle as understanding began to come to her. Now I just need to learn how to actually use this power properly.

"We aren't done yet..." Tatsuki's eyes widened in surprise as she heard Grimmjow below her. She tried to find him through the cloud, but the sand obscured her vision too much. "Now I'll show you what real power is. GRIND! PANTERA!"

The sand exploded outwards as an enormous spike of reiatsu burst up from just below her. She saw him standing there, his usual outfit replaced by what looked like a suit of form-fitted body armor, his hair now reaching down to below his knees, and his hands ending in wickedly sharp looking claws. He glared up at her, his fang-like teeth showing in a silent snarl.

"It's over." He said simply, before vanishing faster than Tatsuki could follow and kicking heavily into her stomach. She coughed painfully as his strike connected, but before the force of the blow could knock her away, he grabbed her by the hair, hauled her around and threw her violently at another tower, launching himself after her as she went. As she smashed into the tower, feeling it crack under the force, she saw him streak in like a meteor, and stab his clawed fingers towards her in what would be a decisive killing blow.

His strike stopped a hair's breath from her chest. She lifted her gaze, blurred from the pain, seeing him staring down at her, a contemplative look on his face. He sealed his release once again, the armor and claws vanishing as his Zanpakutō reformed in his hand and his hair shortened. "Not bad kid." He then said with a smile, and her vision blacked out as her conciousness faded.
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