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

Chapter 8

by Karasu-Tenka 0 reviews

Tatsuki comes to terms with what has actually happened to her. Meanwhile, Shiro solidifies his Power-base.

Category: Bleach - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Characters: Arisawa Tasuki,Kurosaki Ichigo - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2017-11-11 - 5482 words

Tatsuki groaned as she felt her conscious mind begin to resurface. She expected to awake to agony, instead, she found her revival surprisingly pleasent. A few simple aches and pains, but otherwise, nothing major. Aside from the splitting headache... What the fuck hit me? A fucking jet liner?!

"Oh? Sleeping beauty awakens eh?" A familiar voice sounded to her right.

Shit. Just who I never wanted to wake up to... She groaned again, opening her eyes slightly in a frown. "What the fuck do you want now?"

Grimmjow grinned snidely back at her from where he was seated beside her massive bed. "Heh. No need to be like that kid." He chuckled, "I'm just making sure you aren't dead."

"Great. Well you can see that now. Mission accomplished. Now-"

"I also wanted to say..." He interrupted her, his voice sounding... unsure of itself. "...Good job." She blinked in surprise. "You're a hell of a fighter kid. If it hadn't been for the experience gap between us... It probably would have been me waking up with the raging headache." He sounded uncomfortable as he spoke, almost as if he wasn't sure exactly how to compliment someone. "So... good fight."

Tatsuki pushed herself up to a seated position, curling her arms around her knee. She smiled coyly, "Why Grimmjow... If I didn't know better, I'd think you just gave me a compliment. I think I may die of shock." She chuckled lightly.

"Yeah don't get used to it." He stood up, making his way towards the balcony out into the inner dome.

"Hey Grimmjow." She called after him, causing him to turn, a curious eyebrow raised, "Thanks."

He snorted a little laugh, then, grumbling something under his breath, he vanished out into the sands of the inner dome. Tatsuki sat back against the headboard of her bed, a small smile curled across her lips. As she sat there, a door opened to her right and Giri entered quietly.

"I am pleased to see you awake my lady." The maid-like Fraccion bowed as she approached the bed. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm alright Giri-san. If there's one thing I've always been able to do really well, it's bounce back from a beating." Tatsuki rolled onto her hands and knees and then flipped herself up and off of the bed, landing beside the other woman with a slight wobble in her knees. "Woah..." She stumbled slightly before recovering her balance. "Of course... I've never been hit that hard in my life. May need some water..."

Giri bowed slightly, vanishing away with a quick footed sonido. She reappeared a few moments later with a tall drinking glass, handing it to Tatsuki quietly.

Tatsuki blinked in surprise, taking the glass after a few moments and drinking deeply. Cool relief flooded her body as she drank, her headache lessened, and even her aches seemed to retreat. "Haah..." She let out a contented sigh, "Thank you Giri-san."

"It is my pleasure, Tatsuki-sama." Replied the Fraccion, reclaiming the glass. "I must admit though, I was... surprised... when I watched you battle with Grimmjow-sama."

"Oh?" Tatsuki raised an eyebrow.

"Yes." Giri nodded before continuing. "Grimmjow-sama is a seasoned veteran, who's victories and love of combat have been very well known in Hueco Mundo. For you to fight so equally against a foe like that... It is truly impressive my lady."

"Thanks. But I've had some practice." Tatsuki grinned, flexing her arm jokingly. "I studied martial arts almost my whole life back when I was human..." She paused, suddenly realizing what she had just said. "When I was human..." Her gaze fell, and she suddenly felt overwhelmed by memories that flooded through her, causing her to stumble backwards once again. Giri moved quickly, catching her mistress before she could fall or hurt herself. However Tatsuki barely noticed, "I was human..." She repeated quietly to herself. "I was human... How the hell did I become what I am?!"

She shook herself free from Giri's grasp, stumbling her way to the balcony. As she felt the light, artificial breeze on her skin, she calmed a little. For some reason, the sight of the inner dome desert helped to soothe her nerves a bit. But even that wasn't enough to completely eliminate her thoughts. Giri aproached her cautiously. "Tatsuki-sama...?"

"Where is Shiro-sama?" Tatsuki's voice was cold and angry when she finally spoke.

Giri's face went pale at the tone, "H-he... is probably in the throne room... if not there, then possibly the labs."

Tatsuki turned to face her fraccion, something dangerous had appeared in her eyes. "Take me to him, now."

Giri tried not to let her trembling show as she bowed. "Y-yes Tatsuki-sama. This way."


The room filled with a blinding flash of light as another Arrancar was created. Shiro observed the latest test with cold, dispationate eyes. "Hmm. Not quite strong enough to be an Espada. Unfortunate, but unavoidable." He turned to a pair of Arrancar attendants waiting just to the side, "Get him cleaned up and ready to fight."

As the attendants lead the other away, a massively heavy surge of reiatsu nearly flattened them. Shiro glanced up, a small frown flickering across his face. "Ichigo..." Tatsuki stood in the doorway at the top of a short flight of stairs, radiateing fury, "What the fuck did you do to me?!"

Shiro gestured to the other Arrancar within the room, many of whom were having difficulty standing under Tatsuki's anger fuled reiatsu. "Leave us." All of them scurried to obey, vanishing swiftly away from what they were certain was about to become a charnle house. Once they were gone, he turned his glare back to Tatsuki. "I guess you've already forgotten what I told you when you first arrived Tatsuki."

"Just answer me dammit!" She shouted, pushing through the sudden surge of fear with pure force of will. "What did you do to me on that riverbank?! How did I become this... this... monster that I am?"

Shiro blinked, surprised to see her still standing, nevermind shouting at him. He took a deep breath, lowering his own reiatsu output. "Calm down Tatsuki. I'll tell you." Her reiatsu lessened slightly, as she stepped into the room. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she let out a shocked gasp as his vice-like grip closed around her throat lifting her almost two feet off the ground. "If you ever try to threaten me like that again," He hissed up at her, "Tales and legends will be told of your pain. Do you understand me?"

Her eyes went wide as he slowly cut off her ability to breathe. Frantically she nodded as best she could, clawing at his fingers, trying to pry them off. He glared up at her for another couple seconds, before dropping her unceremoniously to crumple into a gasping, coughing heap on the floor.

"Now then." His voice brightened, taking on the tone of a cordial host. "You asked what it was I did to you yes?" He stepped over to a pedestal in the middle of the room. Pressing a small button, the pedestal opened to reveal a small glittering jewel. "I used this." He took the jewel and returned to where Tatsuki was struggling to push herself back to her feet. "This is the Hōgyoku, a fascinating device that helps manifest the wielder's desires into the world."

Tatsuki slowly climbed back to her feet, staring at the blue sphere as it glinted in the odd half light of the room. "H-how..." She coughed violently, still struggling to breathe slightly. "How did that turn me into... this?"

Shiro smiled, his eyes cold, "That day on the riverbank, when you asked what it was I wanted with you, do you remember what I said?" She shook her head slowly, all she could remember was the fear, overpowering and consuming everything. "I said that I 'wanted you to become my new weapon.'" He grinned cruelly, "That wasn't just for your ears however. That was my desire that I wished the Hōgyoku to make reality." He stroked a hand gently across her cheek, the action chilling her to the very soul. "It reacted to my will, I suspect, by taking a portion of my own reiatsu and infusing it into your soul. After that, your body became stronger, your powers began to develop and surface, and by the time you awakened in Soul Society, you had been reforged. Reborn as a mightily powerful Arrancar, the better to serve as my weapon."

She stepped back, away from him, "Then... I... I can't go back... can I?" She hugged herself slightly, thinking of all that had suddenly been taken from her. Her family, her friends, her very humanity... gone.

"No. Unless they possessed a particularly powerful soul, no one in the world of the living can see you anymore." He turned away, pocketing the Hōgyoku and walking around the room, "Besides, what did you truly have there? A family, yes. Friends? I have little doubt that you can make friends wherever you are Tatsuki. Your life there? What was it really? A high school education, and the annual first place martial arts champion's trophy for your age bracket." He stopped, looking back to her, an oddly warm smile on his face. "I have given you a virtually immortal body. Powers beyond the scope of human imagination. And a purpose, one that may indeed help to shape the fate of multiple worlds. Tatsuki... I chose you to become my instrument of death. Ulquiorra, Nelliel, Grimmjow, all of the other Espada, they were allies that I stole from a former enemy. But I chose to bring you into this life."

She lowered her gaze, unsure of what to say.

"You once asked Kurosaki Ichigo to 'let you in.'" Her gaze snapped up at that, it had been the last time she'd spoken to him before he became Shiro. "You asked him to tell you the truth. Perhaps if he had... if he had trusted you to believe him, and to be strong..." He looked down at his own hand, his gaze was almost melancholy. "Perhaps he may have survived..." He looked back to her, another smile curling onto his lips, "That's why I chose you, Tatsuki. Because you have the strength, and because Kurosaki Ichigo was a fool."

"Shiro..." She felt a sudden warmth rise in her chest. "You really think that I'm strong enough?" He nodded, still smiling. "Then I'll do everything I can to prove you right." She nodded, turning to leave, "Oh... And I promise not to tell anyone about your little display of emotion there," She grinned back at him, "I know you have a reputation to keep up." With that, she ran back up the stairs and vanished into the hallway.

Shiro watched her go, his smile slowly changing into a small smirk. "Putty in my hands..." He said after her reiatsu had disappeared into the depths of Las Noches once again. "Honestly... That poor girl really did think the absolute world of Kurosaki, it's sad really."

"And yet, your reasons for choosing her are indeed as you said, Shiro-sama." Ulquiorra stepped out from behind a bank of machinery. "You did choose her for her natural strength, and to spite the memory of the man you once were."

"How long were you hiding there, Ulquiorra?" Shiro didn't even bother to turn and face the Espada.

"Since just before Arisawa-san arrived. I sensed her reiatsu coming towards you, and desided it would be best to be ready in case she tried to attack."

"Hmph." He walked over to the pedestal, returning the Hōgyoku to it's resting place and sealing it away with a small burst of his own reiatsu. "You shouldn't have bothered. I was never in any danger from Tatsuki."

"Perhaps not." Ulquiorra nodded, "But why force you to waste your energy on a pointless battle when I would be more than enough?"

Shiro let out a small laugh, turning to leave the lab. Ulquiorra fell naturally into step behind him. "Ulquiorra, it's times like this that make me very happy I didn't kill you that day."

Ulquiorra bowed slightly, before turning down a different hallway. "Forgive me Shiro-sama, I have other duities to attend to." He vanished away with a sonido, leaving Shiro alone, laughing coldly.


Tatsuki breathed heavily, sweat falling from her face as she knelt atop one of the seemingly endless dunes of the inner dome. Grimmjow floated above her, his released form radiating deadly purpose as he waited for her to regain her footing. "Come on kid, you aren't seriously done yet are you?" He sneered down at her, preparing to lunge at her once more. It had been a week and a half since their first fight, and the two of them had battled almost daily since, Tatsuki quickly learning how to use her natural Arrancar abilities.

"Fuck no!" She snarled, vanishing into a quick series of sonidos, trying to throw the older Espada off by reappearing in dozens of places all around him. As she moved, she focused on spreading her pheromones all across the battleground.

Unfortunately, Grimmjow was faster. Undeterred by the phantom-like afterimages of his opponent, he swiftly vanished, reappearing outside of the forming pheromone cloud and firing off a brutally powerful cero.

Tatsuki threw herself to the side as the blast roared past her, retaliating with a cero of her own. This was met with a second cero from Grimmjow that rocked the entire desert with the resulting explosion. Shielding her eyes from the blowing sand and wind kicked up by the detonation, Tatsuki rolled instinctually to the side, smiling as she heard his clawed fingers whistle through the space where her chest had been. "Gottcha!" She grinned, releasing a sudden burst of pheromones meant to disorient her opponent.

"Shit!" Grimmjow coughed, his enhanced senses effected more potently by the scent based attack. His vision swam and his mind seemed to cloud over as he sweapt his claws back and forth, stumbling back trying to clear his thoughts. "Fucking cheap shot bullshit!"

As he swore, Tatsuki's pair of gauntlet-like Zanpakutō crushed in, one punching into his throat, while the second connected with his jaw. She pressed her advantage, keeping the pheromones up as heavily as she could while focusing the rest of her reiatsu into the deadly puncturing spikes on her gauntlet's knuckles.

Leaping backwards, Grimmjow shook his head violently, spitting out a mouthful of blood. "When the fuck did your reiatsu get so fucking huge kid?" He laughed. For Tatsuki to be able to hold her own against his release was unprecedented. Usually the spike in reiatsu and strength that it gave him was enough to end the fight in short order.

She laughed, lunging after him. "Blame Shiro-sama and his creepy wonder-jewel." She appeared just above him and drove her knee down into the back of his head, "He thinks that it used a bit of his reiatsu to jumpstart my powers."

As her strike connected, he rolled forward with it, lashing his legs up and around to kick brutally into her stomach. "Fuck. And you still haven't even used your release." They both came up, facing each other across a small distance, "You're a scary bitch, kid." He grinned, honestly surprised by how much he enjoyed fighting the young martial artist.

"You're one to talk, mister 'kill the girl in her sleep to train her.'" She replied, grinning back.

They both laughed before dropping back down to the sands, Grimmjow resealing his Zanpakutō as he went. As they landed, Hallibel appeared in the flicker of a sonido, "There you two are." She said, "If you are done beating each other to death, Shiro-sama has called an Espada meeting."

"Oh?" Grimmjow chuckled, "Is he finally going to give us something to do?"

The blonde Espada shrugged, turning to lead the way as they all vanished in a sonido towards the throne room. "I honestly don't know." She said as they reappeared at the entrance to the hall, "I think he's finally filled out the Espada ranks again. So perhaps he'll be announcing new rankings."

"It's taken way too damn long to find the last three." Grimmjow grumbled, "Especially since he had Nel and the kid over here practically ready made within a month."

"Hey, I have a name you know." Tatsuki punched his shoulder as they walked.

"Yeah, and until you actually beat me in a fight, I'll never use it."

By then, they had reached the throne room. Shiro was seated, a patient look on his face, and the figures of seven others quickly stood out as Tatsuki's vision adjusted. "Ah, Grimmjow, Tatsuki," Shiro grinned as he caught site of them, "Glad to see you could join us." He rose, gesturing for the other Espada to gather at the base of the stairs. "Now then, we finally have ten Espada once more. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your patience, and to redistribute rankings as is now appropriate."

Barragan snorted derisively as he looked at his peers, "I doubt that anything will really change."

"Who cares..." Stark yawned, "Let's just get this over with."

"Very well," Shiro walked down to join them, "I've taken my time in making these decisions. I have watched you all as you've trained and gone about your 'day to day', and I am confident that these choices will make sense to all of you eventually. The Cero Espada is from now on, Ulquiorra Cifer."

"WHAT?!" Barragan let out a roar of outrage. "How could the Cuarto suddenly warrant such a promotion?"

Shiro silenced the raging older man with a glare, "If you ever see him actually fight for real, you will learn that for yourself." He then turned to Ulquiorra, "You'll need to show them soon. Otherwise you'll never be able to hold your position for long." The new Cero Espada nodded passively. "Good. Now then, the Primera Espada remains Coyote Stark." Stark simply yawned again, nodding as he did. "The Segunda Espada will be Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck." Barragan gave the beautiful teal haired woman a mutinous glare, but said nothing. Nel bowed, a bright smile radiating from her features. "The Tres Espada is Barragan Ruizenbān." The old, one eyed Espada grumbled, clearly disappointed by the demotion. "The Cuarto Espada is Arisawa Tatsuki."

Both Grimmjow's and Hallibel's gazes snapped to the stunned girl as her rank was announced, they both radiated disbelief, but wisely said nothing as Shiro continued. "Tia Hallibel, you are the Quinto Espada. Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez remains the Sexta. The Septima Espada is Visal Mars."

This announcement was met by a triumphant laugh from a massively large man dressed in what looked like the garb of a Roman Gladiator, brandishing a short Gladius style Zanpakutō in salute to his king.

Shiro nodded to him before continuing, "The Octava is Raiche Luraunt." The new Octava was a slender man, dressed in a flamboyant long coat, the collar of his shirt poofed out in a small mass of frills, and a wide brimmed, feathered hat sat atop his head, a portion of which seemed to reach down, covering his left eye, Tatsuki realized that the hat itself seemed to be his mask fragment. A long, wickedly sharp rapier hung at his waist. Tatsuki couldn't help but think that he looked like the old depictions of French Musketeers, but decidedly more... extravagant. He bowed low at the placement. "And finally, the Noveno Espada is Sun Shira."

The final Espada was an odd sight. Tatsuki recognized his outfit as a variant of a Kung Fu uniform, and his Zanpakutō seemed to be a long staff, each of it's ends forming into a club-like head. He leaned against the staff hard enough that she was impressed it hadn't snapped under his weight, and every now and then, he would take a heavy swig from a large gord he carried. As Shiro introduced him, he raised the gord in toast and took another drink, almost falling over. Wow... I've never seen anyone that drunk before. She thought.

"I trust that nobody has any problems with these new rankings?" Shiro looked around, his gaze daring any of them to speak up. Barragan still seemed to be upset that Nel had somehow supplanted him, and Grimmjow still stared disbelievingly at Tatsuki, but no one seemed willing to actually challenge their King's decisions. "Good. Then come with me."

Tatsuki felt like she was in a daze as she walked, trailing slightly behind the rest of the other Espada. I'm the Cuarto...? How? There's no way that I'm stronger than Hallibel-san is there? Hallibel walked just ahead of her, head bowed in thought. Tatsuki hurried to catch up with her. "Hallibel-san, I-"

"I cannot say that I am entirely surprised by this." The newly christened Quinto interrupted, turning to look at her as they walked. "I've suspected that you were powerful since you first arrived, and my suspicions were confirmed during your first fight against Grimmjow."

"But... how could I possibly be stronger than you?" She asked, still in shocked disbelief at the whole scenario. "I can only barely hold my own against Grimmjow's released form... that doesn't exactly inspire the greatest confidence in my abilities as the Cuarto does it?"

Hallibel shook her head slightly, "I will trust that Shiro-sama knows what he's doing. And as for your abilities, I took a moment to watch your most recent duel with Grimmjow earlier. Your powers are still slightly unstable, in part I suspect, due to your lack of confidence. But more importantly, you fought him to a standstill in his released form. That sort of strength should not be underestimated."

"It's like you said earlier I guess..." Grimmjow suddenly appeared beside them, his expression slightly unreadable, "'Blame Shiro-sama and his creepy wonder-jewel.' If that thing turned his reiatsu into the base for your powers... the potential there is kinda scary."

Hallibel nodded in agreement. "I guess that explain's Nelliel-dono's rather unexpected rank as well. Although I find it slightly distasteful that you refer to the Hōgyoku as a 'creepy wonder-jewel'."

As the three of them spoke quietly, Shiro led the group down a set of hallways and into a meeting room with a long ovular table. "Have a seat all of you." The Espada seated themselves, with Shiro taking the head of the table. "Now then," he clapped, and a low ranking Arrancar attendant entered, moving to a small bank of machines and activating one. A projection screen in the middle of the table lit up, showing a bird's eye view of the Seireitei. "Who want's to kill some Shinigami?"

The Espada all blinked between themselves before looking back to their king, Visal Mars was the first to speak, "My lord, while I revel at the opportunity to clash with the Shinigami, may I ask what is it that compels you intend to attack them so boldly?"

Shiro grinned, as the image on the projector changed to an impressively well detailed map of the Shinigami's base of power. "While we have been gathering our power over the last month or so, I assure you that the Shinigami have as well. They are cautious of my strength I believe, which is why they haven't attacked us directly yet. But make no mistake, they will attack if we allow them to." He looked around the table, ensuring that he had their full attention. "So I say, why wait? I plan to cripple the Shinigami so that they cannot ever rise against us again. We are going to break their will to fight."

Mars and Sun Shira both cheered excitedly, Grimmjow's lips curled into a predatory smile, even Stark seemed to feel the excitement in the air. Shiro lifted a small book as he continued, "Aizen Sosuke left behind an impressively detailed set of notes and thoughts on the overall defenses of the Seireitei. And my memories from Kurosaki Ichigo also give me a rather effective advantage." He grinned, "Aizen rarely trusted you all with much in the way of insight into his plans, I intend to do better, so to do that, I need you all to pay close attention."

The next two hours went by in a blur of information as Shiro explained in terrifying detail everything Kurosaki Ichigo and Aizen Sosuke's notes had learned about the defenses of Soul Society. Finally, as he finished, he asked, "Are there any questions?" When no one spoke, he grinned. "Ecxellent. Now then we have one last item of business to attend to. Come with me." He once again led them out of the meeting hall and towards the labs. As they walked he spoke again, "Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, our new Octava Espada is a bit of a tinkerer and inventor." Raiche Luraunt smiled and inclined his head ever so slightly. "I created him weeks ago with the Hōgyoku in hopes that he'd be able to help me with one definitive problem that we will have in our battle against the Shinigami."

"Shall I explain, my lord?" Luraunt asked. At Shiro's nod, he continued, "The previous Espada were all bested in combat by the Captains of the Gotei 13. I hope that I am not overstepping my rank when I hypothesize that the outcome of the battle above Karakura town would have inevitably ended similarly, had Shiro-sama not intervened." Barragan snorted derisively, but said nothing. "And so, when he raised me up from a mere hollow to the rank of Arrancar, Shiro-sama tasked me with finding a solution. And now, I believe that I have."

By this point they had entered a room containing a large machine, comprised of ten pod like devices all placed around an eleventh in the middle. Luraunt gave a small flourish. "This device shall allow our master to bestow upon us each, a portion of his vast power." When the others blinked in confusion, Luraunt sighed. "The device will draw forth Shiro-sama's unfathomable reiatsu, divide portions of it off, fuse it with our own reiatsu and then return it to us." He explained, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. When still nobody reacted, he let out an exacerbated groan. "Ugh. It makes us stronger at the expense of some of Shiro-sama's power. This is why I cannot work with uneducated neanderthals such as this." He grumbled, stalking away to a console set into the machine.

"How much of your power will you be sacrificing, Shiro-sama?" Ulquiorra was the first to finally speak up. The others all slowly realized what they were being offered, their expressions growing surprised.

"Roughly half of my current reiatsu." Shiro stepped forward, no longer grinning. "I will not lie, this is a gamble on my part. I will weaken myself temporarily, so that you each may survive the coming battle. Once the process is done, it will take me another week to return to my full strength, and then we will commence the attack. And Barragan," The old man looked up at his name, "If you attempt to betray me while I am weakened, know that you had better have at least half the Espada behind you when you do. Because I will rip you apart otherwise."

The color in Barragan's face vanished and he shook his head almost desperately. "No, Shiro-sama, I'll not be attempting any coups. You've already proven your dominance, in the way of a true Hollow as well. Not with trickery and deception like that bastard Aizen. If I ever attempt to overthrow you, it will be on equal footing. As a true King would."

Grimmjow laughed, "Well, well. Look at you bein' all honorable Barragan. I'm surprised."

"Be silent whelp." Barragan's single eye turned to face the blue haired man, "Shiro-sama has proven his worth. You I will happily kill here and now."

The two glared each other down, before Nel pushed her way between them, "Yes, yes, that's all very nice. Boy's and their machismo posturing... Honestly... We have work to do, so knock it off, both of you." Barragan snorted in disgust, turning away, while Grimmjow simply sneered.

"If you barbarians are quite finished brandishing your clubs at each other." Luraunt's voice pulled their attention back to the machine just as the eleven pod doors swung silently open. "We are ready to begin."

They each took up position within a pod, Mars fidgeting uncomfortably as he was almost to big to fit. Shiro stood in the center pod as it closed shut and began to float silently upwards to the rest of the machine. Luraunt nodded to an attendant from his own pod. The weaker Arrancar pressed a button on the console before her, and the doors of the pods swung closed. Tatsuki could still hear Mars cursing as she lay back, waiting for the process to be over.

Shiro's pod reached a small indent in the machine's center and everything went brilliantly white. The machine itself began to emitt a high pitched whining noise as the light intensified, and then, Tatsuki's world ignited in pain. She let out a startled yell, hearing several of the others do so as well, as her reiatsu was forcibly drawn from her. The whining noise of the machine grew louder, and louder, before there was a final, blinding flash of light and pain, and Tatsuki's vision went black.


"Oye...Oye... Arisawa-dono, you alive?" Tatsuki groaned, her head throbbing in pain as she opened her eyes, finding Sun Shira blinking down at her. "Ah good." He grinned widely as he saw her eyes, taking a deep drink from his gord, "Wassh shtartin' to worry you'd gone 'nd died on ussh shomhow." He offered her a helping hand up.

"Ugh... my head feels like it's been hit by a truck..." She said, accepting the help up from where she'd slumped down in her pod. "What the hell happened?"

"The procedure was a complete success!" Luraunt grinned smugly, looking like he'd just won some kind of prize.

"The hell it was! How the hell is knocking our asses out a 'complete success'?" Grimmjow snarled, grabbing the foppish inventor by the frill of his shirt, "I ought to crush your fucking skull for that you little-"

"Grimmjow..." Shiro's voice rang out as he climbed unsteadily from his own pod. "That's enough... Luraunt is correct. I can sense the increase in your power..." He seemed to be having difficulty standing straight, he stumbled slightly before Nel appeared beside him catching him. "The process has... unfortunately left me drained... You all are dismissed for today. While I recover, you all are to train, get used to your new strength, and select any Fraccions you wish to take with you into battle. Once I'm back on my feet..." His smile, even in his weakened state, caused them all to shiver in fear. "We will remind Soul Society why they should fear us."


The Gotei 13's Bureau of Research and Development was abuzz with activity as usual, perhaps even more so since the appearance of the Arrancar calling himself Shiro. They monitored the World of the Living closely, watching for any hint of a hollow attack, however nothing had happened for almost two months. In fact there hadn't been a single recorded hollow emergence since Shrio had appeared.

It was enough to make Division Chief Akon a little nervous.

"Still nothing?" He asked, walking between various computer banks. "The Captain'll have our heads if we miss something."

"There's nothing sir." A shinigami spoke up from one of the terminals. "It's almost as if the hollows just stopped existing..."

"More likely, they are all in Hueco Mundo, gathered by the strength of the self proclaimed 'Hollow King'." The voice of Urahara Kisuke echoed from the door. "He's likely gathered them all in preparation for something."

"You mean he intends to attack the Seireitei?" Akon felt a shiver run down his spine.

"It's difficult to say." Kisuke frowned. "Shiro is... difficult to predict. He has unprecedented knowledge of the Seireitei, from his memories, and a decidedly... twisted personality. I honestly cannot say what he has planned... but I can guarantee that it won't be good for us."

As the words left his mouth, almost as if they were the trigger, alarms began flashing all across the room. Akon whirled around, rushing to the nearest computer, "What's happening?"

"We're detecting large numbers of hollows sir. They're appearing in the Rukon districts in unprecedented numbers! I'm also picking up the reiatsu signatures of dozens... no... possibly even a hundred Arrancars..." The Shinigami's face paled with fear, "Sir... w-we're under attack... on a scale that's never been seen before..."

Kisuke rushed from the room, his Zanpakutō already in his hands. The war had begun again.
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