Meeting the Old Edit
For five years now the castle had been floating above Kaven Base, without doing much. In those five years the plane had also lived through a relative peaceful time, without much of anything happening to disturb the lives of its inhabitants. However this was soon to change, an primordial evil was about to return, one with the power to vanquish the entire planar system. To stop this an old group of guardians arrived on Earth plane to stop this from occurring.
It was a rather normal day on Kaven Base. Everyone was going about their lives. Keryn was still trying to improve her own capabilities, however was met with little success. The Hybrids, who now had been utterly recognised as productive and useful members of the society, where free to live their lives without being exposed to racism where ever they went. All in all it was one of the few times in history, that Earth Plane was free of any conflict, it was as if the entire Plane was holding its breath, waiting for the next great catastrophe to happen, and soon it would be obliged.
It was the central plaza of Kaven Base, where it happened. It was a beautiful winter evening. It had snowed nearly the entire day, and so the whole base was covered in snow and by nightfall there were only a few snow flakes drifting around the air. Then it was as if time froze, the snow flakes stopped mid air, the wind with it and for an instant, there was no movement. Then space itself ruptured and split apart as a strange, traditionally Japanese looking gate appeared and a beam of light fell through it.
Within seconds of the gate appearing, Keryn was on the scene. The Urea-Katana on her back and ready to summon her soul-blade at any time. She eyed the strange gate with interest and apprehension. When a portal opened, and Morrigan, Axel and Mason popped out of a portal Morri had created.
"The others?" asked Keryn, referencing the other Hybrids.
"Getting ready, just in case." responded Mason, not taking his eyes of the gate.
"Good. Be ready on those portals, Morri." ordered Keryn.
Morrigan nodded, signifying her readiness and then the group waited, in silence. When suddenly two shapes could be seen approaching them through the light. Once the pair had stepped out of the light, they revealed themselves to be two women, one blonde the other brunette. At that Keryn tilted her head slightly to the side, which caused the rest of her group to look at her, puzzled.
"Is something wrong?" asked the blonde.
"I know you. You were there when we killed Erelim." responded Keryn, her head still tilted.
"That is true." responded the brunette, the wind finally starting to move again, and snow flakes brushing against her hair.
"So what do you need?" asked Keryn, while it sounded agitated and bit aggressive, her body language wasn't tensed up, however it did show readiness to engage in combat.
"We told you the last time we met." answered the blonde, raising an eyebrow.
"For the sake of those who weren't there, refresh my memory." requested Keryn.
"Maybe...somewhere, where we are not to suffer the environment?" asked the brunette, as the wind and snowing had intensified, drastically. Making standing around a rather unpleasant experience.
"We could use the Hybrid bar Viv has been running. She won't mind. Much." said Axel to Keryn.
At that the Erachi nodded and Axel and Morrigan lead the way towards the bar. The two strangers following them, with Mason and Keryn bringing up the rear. As the snow storm started to intensify even more.
The moment they entered the bar, they could smell the typical smell one would associate with such a place. Alcohol, grease foods, smoke. It all was there, perfectly ordinary. Where it not for the strange goth sitting alone at the bar, with the Ayoril Emperor's blade on a stand. The blade caught the eye of the two foreigners, but only for a moment.
"Yes this is much better than to suffer the elements outside." sighed the blonde relieved, she really didn't like snow storms all that much. Vivian, without knowledge what was going on simply gave the whole procession a WTF look. Before anything could happened, Keryn seized the word to quickly explain the situation to the bewildered looking Hybrid.
"People who claim to be my predecessors, extraplanar."
"Greeaat." responded Viv, with everyone present knowing she didn't mean that. However she was quickly pulled aside by Morrigan who asked her, why she wasn't with Katalena.
"Oh yes, we haven introduce ourselves. Please forgive us for that. My name is Paige Prentiss, Captain of Court Guard Squad One." explained the brunette.
"And I am Rachel Seaver, Captain of Court Guard Squad Two." added the blonde.
After they had introduced themselves, Axel quickly glared at Mason to stop him from using any of his usual quips.
"Keryn Renner. Erachi. This is Axel and Morrigan Gustafsson, as well as Mason Young and Viv McIntyre, some of the leaders of a species known as Skulblakan-Human Hybrids." said Keryn introducing herself and her group.
"Oh we do know who you are." answered Paige.
"None of us know what you mean when you talk about being captains, by the way." said Axel, voicing what the others were thinking.
"We are Harton-Erachi. Created long, long ago by the Lord Emperor of Gallifrey, and the Lord Regent of the Mirror Plane. Our duty is to protect the Silent Lord, the ruler of the entire planar system. Each of us captains a squad of other Harton-Erachi, usually numbering between two hundred and four hundred members." explained Rachel.
"There are more of you?" asked Mason, turning to look questioningly at Keryn.
"No. They are quite different from what I am, Mason." shot Keryn back.
"That is true. However, we were the first attempt of creating something, like you." answered Paige.
"So why are you here?" asked Morrigan, leading the conversation to where it was actually supposed to go.
"To warn you and help you defend your plane." answered Rachel as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
"Not again..." moaned or sighed the Hybrids in unison.
"From what, precisely?" sighed Keryn, sounding exasperated and rolling her eyes.
"From the greatest danger that exists for all planes out there." answered Paige matter-of-factually.
"Who will you need?" asked Keryn with a hearty sigh.
"Whomever is ready to fight and lay down their lives for this plane." retorted Rachel.
"That would be everyone on this base. The problem lies in the fact that not everyone will be...useful, per se." remarked Keryn, looking in the general direction of the floating castle.
"Is something wrong?" asked Paige.
"Something I can sense that you cannot is the Soul Force of an individual. It would take far too long to explain what it is, but there is a being within that fortress that has abnormally high levels of it. It just occurred to me that you have very similar levels to him." said Keryn.
At this both Captains turned towards the fortress as well, a slight look of unease on their faces.
"Could it be..." whispered Paige, more to herself than to any of the others. When suddenly a pale blue energy beam sliced through the wall coming directly for Viv. She was sent flying across the room, once the smoke cleared, Vivien could be seen engulfed in some advanced form metal and moaned as she started to get up. The others all activated their various powers and Keryn drew her blade.
"Stay back." ordered Paige as she drew her own blade, whilst Keryn's eyes began to glow white.
"Morri, portal!" ordered Keryn as all besides her and Mason went through it.
"Do you think, you can escape me?" laughed the blue-haired man, a sick and dangerous laugh.
"Who the hell is this?" asked Keryn Paige and Rachel, looking at the man. Before either could answer, a mighty kick sent Keryn into the ground.
"Shouldn't you be asking ME that? I'm the Sexta Espada, Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez!" laughed the man.
Keryn, jumped back up and started to laugh, earning her strange looks from the two captains and a glare from Grimmjow.
"Oh you want more? You little ant." growled the Espada.
Before anything else could happen, a black-clad man appeared and pinned Keryn to the wall.
"Let them handle this." he said in a soft voice, while easily pinning a struggling a Keryn to the wall with ease.
"Please rid us of this fool, Paige, Rachel." he commented again not turning around.
"Usually people greet each other after not seeing each other for a long time." snapped Paige at the man, while Rachel deflected another attack from Grimmjow.
"Formalities have no place on the field of battle, you know I believe that." snapped the mysterious man back, before turning to Grimmjow. "You have no place here."
"You are just a relic of the past, like the other two. You all will die!" shouted Grimmjow, as an orb of energy form in his hand again, radiating with intense power.
"I'll take care of this...you two seem to have to clear something." commented Rachel, as she followed Grimmjow through the hole he had created and into the sky.
"I suppose we do." said the mysterious man, as he and Paige vanished.
"Show us what you've got, now's a good a time as any." said Keryn jumping up to Rachel and Grimmjow.
"Make sure, all people leave this base and the surrounding area immediately." ordered Rachel as she pointed her blade at Grimmjow, who was still charging his attack.
"Mason!" called Keryn, the Hybrid nodded and warped reality, he and all the inhabitants of Kaven Base vanished. Leaving only Keryn, Rachel and Grimmjow to carry out their fight. "You stay out of this. You might not have realised it yet, but this guy is at least at the moment, out of your league." said the Captain. However before the Erachi could answer Grimmjow interrupted them.
"Gran Ray Cero!" he called out and the blue orb form into a cascading energy wave, at this moment Keryn realised what the other woman had meant. This blast was enough to eradicate anyone directly hit by it. Which meant, at that thought Keryn turned to look at Rachel to see her bear a concentrated smile, raise her blade and called.
"All Waves, Rise now and Become my Shield, Lightning, Strike now and Become my Blade. Sōgyo no Kotowari!" and her blade glowed intensely for a moment before forming two different swords of strange appearance. She then stung forward with one of the blades, right into the heart of the energy wave. Keryn could help, but to wonder if that woman was either incredibly brave or stupid or a mix of the two. This however changed, when she saw that the blade was absorbing the energy, then the little metal charms on the court that connected the two blades began to glow in a bright light and then the other blade sent the energy wave back to where it had originated, at Grimmjow. Keryn reentered her Erachi state as the heat from the energy beam was simply to high and would have boiled her skin otherwise, her cloths however were not so lucky and soon scorch marks emerged on them. She wondered how Rachel could handle the heat as easily as she apparently did. The deflected attack however missed its target as Grimmjow was no longer where he had been before and so the energy wave annihilated Kaven Base, however luckily enough Mason had managed to save all living things, so no one was hurt. Yet the blast continued on and dug nearly into the planets core. Grimmjow came charging at them again, this time his blade drawn and smashed it down on Rachel's extended blades. While the captain was a gifted swordswoman, and had a very high physical strength, even she shuddered under the impact, however was not too stunned to not fight back.
What erupted was an incredibly tense fight, which Keryn could only follow because she was in her Erachi state, but also realised that interfering wasn't to her or to Rachel's advantage. The fight continued on, each time the swords collided shock waves were sent in all directions and Keryn had to steady herself in midair, not something easy to do. Multiple times she thought, either opponent had the opportunity to land a decisive blow, yet the other parried it at the last moment, as if they had known where the other would strike. Keryn made a mental note to inquire about this later, however for the moment continued to watch. When all of a sudden Grimmjow jumped back.
A strange black line had appeared behind him, and from that black line, others stretched out and for a moment it looked like a mouth about to vomit, then it smoothed over and reality was ripped apart. Another white clad, man stood there in the opening, his skin pale and grey, his eyes a deadly green.
"Grimmjow...Lord Aizen wants you to return...now." ordered the new comer, his voice calm and emotionless.
"Gah...just when I was about to have some real fun." spat Grimmjow, however he jumped up to his apparent ally, and also stepped into the black void.
"Guess, I'll see you the next time. Do try to get a bit stronger, ey." laughed Grimmjow as the portal closed behind him and the other strange man.
After the other two had vanished Keryn flew towards Rachel.
"Who were they, why are they attacking us, and how do I help stop them?" she asked, completely foregoing asking whether the captain was alright.
"They were a powerful group of people called the Espada, they are attacking you because Aizen wants it...and how you and the others can help, you'll learn in the next few days." sighed Rachel exhausted and resealed her blade, before running her sleeve over her forehead to remove the sweat.
"I've a feeling you have a lot of explaining to do. We should find the others, I know where they went." said Keryn.
"Lead the way." panted Rachel, as she followed the Erachi.
It had been two days since the attack on Kaven Base. In the mean time, emergency quarters had been set up for all the people who had lived at the base. It was night once more and again snow was falling, when a young woman was rushing through the various pre-fabricated buildings in search of the right one. Finally Keryn found the structure labelled gym. She entered it in search of one of the captains who had arrived the other day.
She found Rachel running through various swordplay routines, and watched her for a moment taking in the unknown style of fighting. Then however she tore her gaze away and spoke up.
"May I speak to you, privately?" asked the Erachi.
"Sure, what's on your mind?" asked Rachel, removing her training top and tossing it aside, revealing her fit frame, only covered by a sports bra. The two were alone anyway, so that did not matter. What Keryn noticed besides the beauty of the other woman, was the strange scent she bore. Even though sweat was running down along her body, the Erachi could help but feel that Rachel still smelled incredibly attractive.
"I...wanted to apologize, for being so harsh and cold when you arrived and when you fought whatever that guy was." said Keryn after collecting herself for a moment.
"It is fine. Not like we behaved overly friendly as well." answered Rachel grabbing a towel to wipe away the sweat on her face.
"Still. You jumped right in to defend my home, which is not yours, at that. I was just...distracted, trying to calculate everything." responded Keryn sounding apologetic.
"We are supposed to guard every plane. I'm more sorry about the fact, I destroyed your home in the process." said the Harton-Erachi, slinging the towel around her neck, and replacing her blade at her hip.
"Have Mason and Kata work their magic and it'll be fixed pretty easily." smiled Keryn at her.
"Well that is at least a bit of good news. But be careful...the crater is crawling with Amber residue...I'm not sure if your bodies can handle that, or if you grow sick because of this. So please be careful, okay?" sighed Rachel, tying her hair behind her head into a pony tail.
"Don't worry, people will keep clear of that for certain. I do have a question. Why did you come to us? What about this plane made us special enough to come personally?" asked Keryn coming down to business.
"Hmm...perhaps it is best to tell you right now, huh. We have come here to stop Aizen from creating, something called the Oken. With that, he would have the ability to penetrate into the palace of the Silent Lord and perhaps even kill him. It is of the utmost importance that we stop that from happening." explained Rachel, placing the towel on a rack close by.
"That's on this plane?" inquired Keryn, surprised.
"No, but he plans on sacrificing this plane, due to the high concentration of your Erachi energy here, and the souls of all the other inhabitants. This creates the Oken." explained the Captain, turning back to face the Erachi.
"Somehow that does not surprise me." sighed Keryn, crossing her arms behind her head.
"True, your plane always seems to be caught in the middle of conflicts. At least it has a great protector." this time around it was Rachel's turn to smile at the other woman.
"To be fair, that kick I got hit with hurt." smiled Keryn back.
"If it hadn't...I'd be more suprised. He might be a loud mouth, and ill tempered. But he is one of Aizen's top fighters...and while it troubles me to say that. He was holding back." said Rachel reluctantly.
"Good thing I still have two levels to attain." responded Keryn, her smile broadening.
"Then let us hope, you attain them soon." smiled Rachel back, grabbing a bottle of water and started to drink from it.
"Bit of a catch. I'll have to fight one of them to really get it." explained Keryn.
"Then I am not sure you should. This could go very badly, and we're not about to sacrifice someone like you." sighed Rachel replacing the bottle of water on the table.
"Oh, I doubt there would be any sacrifice involved." said the Erachi pride swinging in her voice.
"Don't be too overconfident. Such an attitude has cost thousands of planes." answered the Captain, her voice changing to sound almost patronising.
"You needn't worry, I'm smarter than I look." grinned Keryn at that.
"You look plenty smart to me. I just know you haven't faced something like this, and it already pains me have to draw you into a conflict we ourselves should be able to handle." shrugged Rachel.
"Nobody can handle everything alone." responded Keryn compassionately.
"That is true. Maybe a lesson, you yourself, had to learn?" asked Rachel, turning back to face the other woman.
"Yes. Yes, I have proven to be a somewhat slow learner at times." answered Keryn, her shoulders dropping slightly.
"You are still young. You should have all the time to learn, to fall in love and lead somewhat a normal life. Not face permanent conflict and suffering. You'll only end up like we did." said the Captain, sadness entering her voice.
"I think I resigned myself to that fate the day we first met." sighed Keryn in response.
"Then change it. Fate isn't set in stone, choose your own path, not the one people expect of you, not the one you think you should take, but the one you know to be the true one." responded the Harton-Erachi.
"Somehow I feel I haven't got the luxury of choice, given the current circumstance." came the Erachi's answer.
"Maybe once this is over. Just promise me, whatever happens, you won't end up like me." said Rachel.
"And what did you end up like?" asked Keryn, truly intrigued.
"Consumed by a feeling of duty, no family ties left and no one in my life I love. Just because I thought, duty and honour could fulfill my life. However all it did was bring me to this point, to a war we may just as well lose." sighed Rachel.
"And you couldn't have simply left that life behind? You're clearly powerful enough to handle yourself on your own, pretend to be someone else. I've pondered doing that many times, myself." suggested Keryn.
"I swore an oath. I can't turn my back on the Court Guard Squads now. While it might be too late for me to turn back, you can still do that. After this is over, you should. Don't let anyone dictate to you what your life should be like." answered Rachel.
"What do you know about me, as Erachi and as a person?" asked Keryn.
"I know your life story. The choices you made. Everything." explained Rachel, while putting on a new top and sitting down opposite her.
"Most people buy me dinner first. Anyway, what about the Erachi spirit itself do you understand?" chuckled Keryn.
"I'm not most people. About her? Too little to tell you the truth. The book about her is missing." sighed Rachel.
"Not her, specifically. What we are." specified Keryn.
"To be perfectly honest? No, some say Aizen took that knowledge with him, when he defected. But what ever the truth...I do not know much about this. Sorry if you hoped for another answer, maybe find out more about yourself. But I cannot help you there." said Rachel, sounding apologetic.
"I wasn't looking for an answer. My...problem lies in the fact that I possess in the caverns of my soul the memories of every other Erachi. I've lived what you've told me to a million times over already." answered Keryn.
"Maybe that is the reason you cannot cherish that." proposed Rachel.
"You're right." sighed Keryn, tiredly.
"Something bothering you? You might not know me overly well, but you can talk to me." offered Rachel.
"I'd just like less shit to happen around here. Its starting to get annoying." complained Keryn.
"I think there will only be two more great tests awaiting you in the foreseeable future. Shame really, I might not be around to see you master them." tried Rachel to help Keryn.
"Only two. Hurrah." said Keryn sarcastically.
"It could always be worse." answered Rachel.
"Yeah, could be three." chuckled Keryn.
"My thinking exactly." laughed Rachel too.
"I suppose I've taken enough of your time. I'll let you go." sighed Keryn rising again.
"It was my pleasure. Come by and talk to me whenever you feel like it. Just don't say anything to Oberyn, he'll get the wrong ideas...again." sighed Rachel.
"Who?" asked Keryn bewildered.
"You'll know whom I mean once you meet him. He and the others will arrive in the next few days." explained Rachel.
"He already sounds like someone I'd get along with." smiled Keryn.
"Oh, one usually gets along with him quite well. That doesn't stop him, from having pubescent ideas, when two girls are alone in a room together." sighed Rachel.
"Let him." laughed Keryn.
"If I hadn't let him. Do you think I could have survived the trillions of years of service with him?" laughed Rachel as well.
"And to be fair, what you describe as 'pubescent' is not uncommon for...well...anyone not named Llehctim around here." explained Keryn.
"Yourself included?" chuckled Rachel.
"Perhaps." said Keryn, totally innocent.
"Should I be worried if you come to visit me then? That you might want more than just to talk?" asked Rachel.
"Depends entirely on my alcohol consumption for that day or how depressed I am." admitted Keryn.
"To be honest. I am not entirely sure if I should be reassured or distraught by that." grinned Rachel.
"Probably both." laughed Keryn.
"Sounds like you aren't entirely sure, yourself." answered Rachel.
"We'll see." shrugged Keryn.
"Well, don't let me keep you, I'm sure you have more important things to do than to play a game of wits with me." said Rachel.
"We'll talk later, see you." said Keryn as they parted ways.
Rule of MightEdit
Aizen entered a large room, with a massive, black table situated in the middle and the sides lines with beautiful panorama windows through which sunlight flooded into the room. Around the table the ten Espada and the ten Sternenritter sat, all looking at the now open door through which Sōsuke Aizen, Gin Ichimaru and Tyrion Forel entered.
"Good morning, my dear Sternenritter and Espada." greated Aizen his force commanders as he entered the room.
"It is time to execute the final step of our plan. But let us have some tea first." This remark earned him a few looks from his highest ranking officers, howevere none dared objecting.
While Aizen, Gin and Tyrion sat down at the head of the table, servants rushed back and forth to bring cups and fill them with tea, before disappearing again, leaving the room.
"Everyone has some now, yes?" asked Aizen looking down the table at his most trusted servants, who stayed silent with each of them having a tea cup in front of them.
"Now listen carefully while you have a drink. Tyrion activate the projector." ordered Aizen and Tyrion obliged his master.
"This is the target, Earth Plane. We will vanquish it and create the Oken. Among the defenders are, the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, the two Erachi and a few mock-Arrancars." continued Sōsuke as the projection changed to show all those listed. Following this he paused for a moment to drink some of his tea.
"Those are our enemies?" asked one of the Espada, hidden in shadows.
"They're a bunch of whipper-snappers. Not very exciting at all." grinned Flora as she looked the list up and down. The other Sternenritter and Espada gave only grunts of agreement.
"You are not allowed to underestimate them." said Aizen as he put his cup down again.
With a grunt, Grimmjow rose and walked towards the door, where he was stopped by Tyrion.
"Where are you going Grimmjow?" asked the former Captain.
"I'm going to kill them all." came his answer as a snare.
"Lord Aizen has not given such an order yet. Return to your seat." answered the Harton-Erachi.
" I'm going to crush them for your precious Lord Aizen!" snarled Grimmjow again. This was followed by an eerie moment of silence, before Aizen spoke.
"Grimmjow." his voice was still soft and calm but the change was obvious in his Amber presence.
"Yes." answered Grimmjow, calmer though he did not return to his seat.
"I appreciate your intentions, but I'm not finished speaking yet. Could you return to your seat, please." continued Aizen.
Again there was a moment of silence and no one did anything, nothing moved none of the people present except for Gin even dared breath. They all knew how powerful Aizen was and what disobedience could mean.
"Well?" asked the seated regent. When still there was no answer, Aizen spoke up again. "I didn't hear your answer, Grimmjow Jeagerjagues." At that he released a tiny amount of his Amber pressure, but it was more than enough to force Grimmjow to his knees.
"Good. I see you understand." said Sōsuke standing up before addressing the others again.
"Members of the Espada and Sternenritter, these are your enemies. It is unwise to understimate them, but there's no need to make a commotion, either. Now return to your palaces and wait for the orders to attack. Don't be insolent or impatient and do not be afraid. Regardless of the situation, so long as you stay with me, we are invincible."
Back on Earth plane Paige, Rachel and Camus were waiting in the middle of the crater Grimmjow's Gran Ray Cero had caused. A door similar to the one the two Captains had used to appear on that plane began to materialise. However it was massive in scope and design, easily stretching kilometers in height and width. Slowly the doors slit open and there was a blinding flash of light and the crater was gone. Replaced by a huge city, all buildings looking as if they belonged feudal Japan.
Then eight smaller gates appeared in front of the other Captains, the doors slit open and immediately an aura of authority, anciently and power washed out onto the entire planet and over the entire plane. It was the first time since the beginning of the Oken War, that all ten remaining Captains were gathered in one place at one time, that wasn't Harton. The Captains all embraced each other for a brief moment. Before the new arrivals were brought up to speed on what had happened.
In the meanwhile the roughly 500,000 squad members had begun to prepare the various training grounds and facilities. The medical wings prepared the procedures for the upgrades to Earth Planes defenders, who'd be arriving shortly.
While the other Captains talked about strategy and how the war was going in general, Oberyn pulled Camus to the side. "Listen I've got something very, very, very important to ask you." said the Squad Seven Captain.
"Ask it then." responded Camus raising an eyebrow.
"Is the rumour true you popped Paige and because of that she isn't interested in men at the moment? Because I've been busting my ass for the last few million years trying to get in those pants and have been rejected every time." asked Oberyn nonchalantly.
Camus was actually too stunned to respond and as such could only blink at the other man.
"Well? Answer me." demanded Oberyn.
"There's a fabulously substance known as Marijuana on this plane. It seems you found some." Camus deadpanned.
"It is the rumour that has been going around ever since you left." insisted the Squad Seven Captain.
"If I did, it has been wiped from all forms of memory. Now, surely there are more important things to discuss?" answered Camus, consistently stony faced.
"True. So how hot is this Erachi I heard about? obliged Oberyn, Camus's unspoken request, however the new topic wasn't much better than the previous.
"She spends most of her time in the training area. Go find out for yourself." brushed Camus Oberyn off and waved with his hand in the general direction.
"Oh come on, you could at least show me a picture..." sighed Oberyn and went to find his new interest.
Still shaking his head Camus walked over to Paige and Emily who were in the middle of a discussion and interrupted them with "I'm sorry."
"About?" asked Paige slightly irritated Camus interrupted them.
"That you had to deal with him all this time. Apologies, Emily." sighed Camus.
"Oh well, he has cooled off a bit in the last few million years." shrugged Paige, as Emily simply stood there watching them.
"Also, may I ask who started these rumors I have been made aware of? Once this is over they may need to die." said Camus, as though he were discussing the weather.
"What rumours?" asked Paige confused.
"Ones Oberyn would be interested in about us." replied Camus not wanting to spell it out.
"Oh...well no clue. No one besides Oberyn listens to the gossip around the Squads." shrugged Paige again.
"Thank the maker. I'll return to my contingency plans and let the Erachi deal with him." sighed Camus relieved.
"Didn't you warn us about her carrying his child?" said Paige with a smug grin.
"In retrospect, should that happen we may be down a captain." admitted Camus.
"What makes you say that?" asked Paige now confused.
"She is adamantly against the creation of new life within her." explained Camus.
Foregoing to ask how exactly he knew her thoughts on procreation Paige said, "She'd make a fine mother though."
"Is that wistfulness I hear?" asked Camus, now it was his turn to smile smugly.
"No...but it might stop Oberyn from running after everything female he comes across." said Paige shaking her head.
"No it wouldn't." said Camus matter-of-factly.
"You think she'd allow him to?" asked Paige bewildered.
"I think she'd join him." answered Camus honestly.
"Better keep Rachel out of their reach then." half-joked Paige, fully knowing that Oberyn wanted to sleep with Rachel as well, and also suspicious that Keryn might be interested in more than friendship with the blonde.
Camus probably thinking the same walked off back to his post, smirking.
Morri and Aednat slipped up to the barracks where the tenth Court Guard Squad was staying. They, as well as Katalena and Quinn, were going around trying to meet the foreign leaders in order to learn more about them. Aednat talked their way inside and they knocked on the captain's door. "Enter." His voice said, and they entered the room where the Captain known as Toshiro was working.
"Afternoon." Morri said politely.
"What can I do for you?" He asked, looking up at them from his paperwork.
"Well, we're hoping to meet the commanders of those we're marching into battle with. Since we're sort of the commanders of the Hybrid ranks, we figured it would be a good idea." Morri replied.
"I see. Not a bad idea. What do you want to know?" He asked.
"We're more than a little out of the loop as to who you are." Morri started as Aednat seemed to scan the room. "So, we're thinking you tell us about you, we tell you about us."
"Hmm...very well. I am Captain Hitsugaya, commanding officer of Court Guard Squad 10 and a member of the Harton-Erachi species."
"Morrigan Gustafsson and Aednat Callaghan. We have no real rank, and we are part human, part Skulblakan." Morri said as Aednat remained silent.
"So, you are the cross-breeds." He said, causing Aednat to grimace.
"We...aren't fond of that terminology." Morri said.
"My apologies. So you are...hybrids."
"Yes. Humans who developed Skulblakan Powers as a result of the Planar Merging." Morri confirmed as Aednat started to examine things on the walls.
"Rare, but not unheard of."
"So there are more like us out there?" Aednat said, turning to him for the first time.
"Not many anymore." He replied. Aednat nodded then glanced at his paperwork.
"You should word that differently." She said.
"You can read Harton?" He asked, surprised.
"I watched some of your squad members do it." Aednat replied.
"That's her ability." Morri chimed in.
"I see. Useful, I take it." Toshiro said.
"Indeed. You should see my-nevermind." Aednat cut herself off.
"You know yours?" Morri asked, genuinely confused.
"Mind sharing?" Toshiro asked.
"...All hybrids have something within them known as a Vakning. A Vakning is our second level of power. None of us know what our Vakning can do until we release it, save Aednat, it would seem." Morri explained.
"So, it is similar to our Bankai?"
"Similar, yes. Though far less dependent on worldly objects." Aednat said. Morri looked up at Aednat, confused. "I may have met the captain known as Oberyn on the way in." Aednat said, unabashed.
"He talked to you about Bankai?" Toshiro asked.
"With enough alcohol and a tight dress I seem able to get a lot of information out of people that I never asked for." Aednat shrugged. He shook his head.
"Seems he explained it wrong, then." He sighed.
"I dunno, a sword seems pretty worldly." Aednat quipped as Morri rose.
"Well, we have a lot of meetings to attend and," She glanced at Aednat, clearly less than amused. "conversations to have, so we'll not take anymore of your time."
"Our blades are a part of us, you couldn't just lose it and replace it with another. But I bid you farewell." He said.
"Thank you for meeting with us." Morri said as they made their way to the door.
Katalena approached the barracks of Court Guard Squad Six and found her way through to look for the Captain of the squad, slipping about, not wanting to knock on any doors. To her surprise, the entire place was empty, so she simply had to stroll through the barracks to the captain's quarters. The door was open and she walked in. It was also empty. "Well that's mildly disappointing." She muttered to herself.
"If you're trying to sneak in...be stealthy." A woman's voice said as the red-haired captain of the squad materialized from a shadow.
"I wasn't trying to sneak." Kata smiled. "I wanted to see how stealthy you are, since I heard what your talents are."
"So you were breaking in?"
"The door was open. Besides, no ill intent." Kata replied with a shrug.
"So you came here to see me?"
"Indeed I did." Kata said.
"What can I do for you?" Amy said.
"I was actually hoping to learn more about your society and your enemies, considering I'll be fighting the latter soon." Kata explained.
"Then ask away."
"My first question is in regards to the being that attacked my home. He was not of any one plane, but a mix of two. Am I wrong?" Kata asked.
"He was formerly of one." Amy said.
"Aizen elevated him and others to a new form."
"is it known how?" Kata asked.
"Not really, no."
"I wonder if he merged planes..." Kata mused.
"No, that would be below him." Amy replied. Kata made her own right hand glow with her red chaos powers.
"It worked rather well, though." She pointed out.
"He has created an army by breaking down the barriers between planes." Amy said.
"I figured. We're pretty used to crap like that happening lately." Kata sighed.
"By this point, who isn't?" Amy shrugged.
"Next question. Forgive me if this is intrusive, but may I ask just how we're to be modified to stand a chance in this?" Kata asked.
"Squad 12 is responsible for that." Amy replied. In response, Kata whistled a strange, high pitched note that pierced the air in the surrounding area. "Hmmm?"
"Just sending someone else to inquire." Kata said nonchalantly.
"By whistling?" In response, Kata repeated the note and, as though out of nowhere, Quinn appeared at her side.
"He's slow." Amy said.
"Most people get to know me before they drop something that harsh, ma'am." Quinn said.
"I am brutally honest, other captains sugarcoat." Amy replied.
"I like her." Quinn said and disappeared.
"My lieutenant, so to speak." Kata said.
"He seems to be alright." Amy admitted.
"The two of us have a rough history, though our entire species does, really." Kata said.
"So I've heard, poor little things you." Amy said. Kata wasn't sure if there was sarcasm in her voice, so she elected to move on.
"A shame we only get to reveal our party trick now. It would have been glorious to release it against the humans when they wanted us dead." Kata sighed.
"Oh I don't know. Killing them all might have shed a bad light on you." Amy replied.
"I wouldn't have needed to kill them. Especially not with what one of us is capable of." Kata said.
"But you'd have liked to, no?" Amy said.
"Perhaps, in my younger years." Kata admitted.
"We all had that wild, genocidal phase in our youths." Amy agreed.
"Some may argue we still have that rage."
"You are still young." Amy said.
"I mean Aizen more than anything." Kata replied.
"I doubt Aizen is acting out of rage."
"I'll know for sure whenever I meet him."
"Truth be told, you should hope you never meet him." Amy said.
"I don't hope to, but if I should, it will be very easy to tell what his motivations are."
"You truly believe that?"
"That is one of my abilities. I can sense the chaos within you to understand you completely."
"His Amber blocks that."
"I suppose that would be a hampering." Kata said and sighed as she stood up. "There is someone you should meet, by the way. Someone who has a crazy amount of inner chaos regarding you and..." She cut herself off.
"You'll realize when she walks in the door." Kata said as the door knocked.
"Busy." Amy said.
"You spoke to me, why not her?"
"You are still here, no? It'd be rude to send you away."
"You should be warned then, she will likely persist after you." Kata advised the Captain.
"She can talk to me, once I am not busy, speaking to you."
"I'll head out then. Thank you for seeing me." Kata said.
"Bye." Amy replied as Kata swept from the room. It took less that a minute for Clara Renner to enter the room after Kata left. "Yes?" Amy asked.
"So you're her." Clara said.
"You're the one who was there when we defeated Erelim."
"Yes, I witnessed that."
"You're also the one I had many visions of during my own Erachi evolution. You had a husband in them. Someone I knew. When I last asked you all I received was an all-in-due-time. Does that still stand?" Clara asked.
"Hmm...more or less yes."
"More or less?" Clara persisted.
"It is still very much standing." Amy replied.
"...Alright." Clara said, curiously accepting.
"Anything else you need?" Amy asked.
"I suppose nothing you can really answer." Clara said.
"...My interpretation of some of my visions means that of the Harton-Erachi you are likely to be one of the ones I like as a person. As in, if peacetime happened, I would have you over for dinner, if that makes sense. And, to be perfectly honest, I really don't know how to actually interact with you. I've spent so much time in an inner circle that I'm unsure of how to expand it. God almighty I'm more awkward than Keryn around boys when she was fourteen..." Clara rambled.
"It is okay. We tend to have such an effect on people." Amy said.
"I'll try this again. Hi, I'm Clara."
"Hello, Clara. I'm Amy."
"What do you do?" Clara asked.
"Besides being a Captain? Not much." Amy answered.
"What does a Captain do?"
"Really depends on a lot of different things."
"Sounds a lot like what I used to do."
"Wander the plane, do different things, protect people, you know. Then I gave up my powers to save my daughter." Clara explained.
"Do you do anything off-duty?"
"Not much, nearly no time off of duty." Amy said.
"Do you have no second in command?"
"Would they be incompetent filling in if you needed to focus on something else?" Clara asked.
"No, but there is a lot to do."
"Keryn made the mistake of trying to be a hundred percent business oriented with no focus on herself. There's only one reason she survived that war, she would go months at a time with no sleep or food, or even interacting with others. Doesn't matter who you are, it always seems to apply to everyone." Clara told the Captain.
"We aren't alone though. She was."
"Still, it will apply in time." Clara's eyes closed and she pinched the bridge of her nose. "Katalena, you didn't need to tell me that..."
"It has been a few million years. I think we'll manage till Aizen is defeated." Amy said, seemingly not noticing Clara's discomfort.
"May I ask you something?" Clara asked, sounding annoyed, but not with Amy.
"Tell me about the Captain known as Oberyn."
"Why are you interested in him?" Amy asked.
"Because he just entered a training area my daughter is working out in. And my daughter is going through a...promiscuous streak." Clara sighed.
"He is in a permanent promiscuous streak."
"You see why I want to know about him?"
"Well...he is friendly." Amy said, slightly uncertain of how to proceed.
"Great..." Clara sighed. "Do you have consumable substances so I don't have to think about what Keryn is likely to do next?"
"I'm on duty."
"You'd be surprised how many substances you find in our commanders' desks..." Clara said.
"Not around here, though."
"Shame. I'll need to steal from my son."
"Got nothing at home?"
"My home may or may not be located near an amber radioactive crater." Clara pointed out.
"Nothing in the replacement home?"
"Guess you could always take some of Oberyn's private reserve." Amy suggested.
"Will I need gloves going in there?"
"No. He's also got a pretty lieutenant if you are interested."
"I'm also married." Clara said.
"I'm just saying I'd have to coax him." Clara chuckled.
"Her. Oberyn's lieutenant is a female." Amy said. "And she takes after her Captain."
"Him being my husband."
"I've not been bored yet." Clara shrugged.
"Well, I still have to talk to one of the other captains, but it was good to finally meet you, Amy." Clara said.
"I'd say the same. Have fun."
"I feel like I will with meeting this one." Clara said and bowed before she turned to leave.
Vanquish the Weak Edit
It had been nearly three months since Grimmjow's attack and in that time most people had grown somewhat accustomed to the massive city that had replaced Kaven Base. Most of the time the chosen defenders of Earth Plane were currently training incredibly hard to upgrade their physique in order to survive the upgrading process, which had been described to them as the probably most painful experience they would ever have. During this time the captains too were training to regain a fair amount of their lost stamina, as the continuous warfare had depleted even their impressive reserves.
However completely unnoticed by the group back on Earth, there was a very forceful fight going on. Konstantin who had once more returned to Earth Plane to aid in the defence against Aizen was intercepted by an old enemy of his, someone whom he had not faced in a very long time.
"Been a long time since we last met, Kony boy." called out a voice from behind him.
"What do you want, Anthony? I thought you had renounced Aizen." asked Konstantin, turning to look at the former Segunda Espada.
"Oh I did, however I cannot allow you to simply go on and help the others as of yet." answered the other man.
"You think you can stop me?" asked Konstantin, drawing Zangetsu.
"No...I think I can kill you." laughed Anthony getting up and pulling his staff from his back, twirling it around, before striking out and smashing Konstantin against a rocky wall.
Freeing himself from the wall, Konstantin fired a Gestuga Tensho at Anthony who simply swung his staff against it shattering the energy attack. Smirking Anthony then twirled his staff around again and performed a stabbing motions, which Konstantin dodged, however the mountain behind him was not so lucky, and shattered into a million pieces. Having used the time to cover the distance between them, the Gallifreyian struck upwards with his massive blade, however was blocked by his opponent. Spinning around Konstantin threw a kick at Anthony's face, who blocked it with the back of his hand. Striking out with his other hand to punch Konstantin in the face, who evaded and rammed the hilt of his blade up into Anthony's stomach, sending him staggering back.
"You are still too...hasty" chuckled the Arrancar straightening up and sent another shockwave from his staff at Konstantin, who blocked it with a Getsuga Tensho and then sent another two at his opponent, who jumped into the air to avoid them. Having predicted this, Konstantin appeared above him and smashed his enormous blade down onto Anthony's staff again, who grunted in pain for a moment before crashing into the ground, ripping it open and scarring the planet for ever.
"What was that about killing me?" chuckled Konstantin, raising his blade again to finish his opponent.
However he was interrupted when a massive orange beam of energy spat up and pierced his stomach, where it hardend and formed a massive blade. Which was the swung around and sent Konstantin back smashing into the ground.
"Seems you forgot about my Susanoo. A wonderful part of my Tensei's power. Now then...if I may just kill you."
It had been almost seven months since the first attack on Kaven Base, by now the first few people had received the required upgrades with interesting results. Though they were only visible after all of them had recovered for a whole month, given the pain of the upgrades. The ones who had already been upgraded were: Clara, Katalena, Kira, Korra and Keryn. The most apparent changes had happened to the Sigurdson and the Chaos Witch, for some reason, both had turned blonde, which had caused quite the amusement all around, as at first no one wanted to tell them, why they were laughing. However it had also had a different impact, Kira now had emotionally and behaviorally turned back to her teenage years, will Kata had become incredibly emotionally susceptible, meaning as soon as she saw someone being happy, she couldn't stop bouncing up and down with joy, however when she saw someone sad, she could have been more miserable. While the two were assured this was only a temporary thing, it did not help the current predicament.
Keryn on the other hand, seemed like Korra, almost as if nothing had changed, except both appeared to be utterly restless. It was no longer possible for them to sit still, they had to train, run, eat just do something, and at best something that was taxing and causing them to sweat.
Clara was the last one and with the most major change. As had been predict by the Captain of Squad 12, Clara regained her previous Erachi powers through the upgrade. But was warned to overuse them, as these were actually Meta-Erachi powers, a trick, an illusion. She might have regained her powers, but she still wasn't an Erachi like Keryn, and overusing those powers would eventually injure and kill her. Also her personality reverted back to the way it had been before she became the Erachi, more open and less driven.
This was the group, that Toshiro would take to a distant planet on which they had located a rather powerful Amber presence and wanted to check out if it was one of Aizen's henchmen. To make sure they could take down whoever appeared Camus and Alaric joined Freak Team , a name Mason had thought up.
One the day they group was supposed to leave, Toshiro was waiting for them to arrive in the central square of Harton, from where he would unlock the portal so they could instantly arrive on the planet. The first to arrive was Alaric, quickly followed by Camus.
"Salutations, oh captain, my captain." greated Alaric the 10th Squad's Captain, who raised an eyebrow at that.
Seeing that he continued, "Well, you've not changed a bit."
Before Toshiro could answer, Camus intervened. "Easy, you two."
"You two are on time, as usual." remarked the Captain, dryly.
"Had to drag him along. He was busy trying to figure out those upgrades. We could have major use of those, save the...side effects." remarked Al, nodding at his former Captain.
"They were designed, about eight months ago. Given the fact we are at war, I am glad, no one will suffer permanent damage." shrugged Tosh in response.
Before their conversation could go on, Kira, Korra and Katalena arrived, Korra immediately jumping on the last sentence the Captain had said.
"I sure hope not...the giggling is killing me."
"Hmm...we should make sure, you..." at that point Toshiro looked at Kata... "Never get in Oberyn's proximity. While I have been assured that these...side effects are temporary, Squad 12 didn't define what they meant by that."
"I just want the blonde hair to go away..." complained Kira fondling with her hair.
"Oh I don't know...I think you are quite pretty as a blonde." said Clara Coleman, as she appeared next to them.
"You are on this mission too?" asked Toshiro
"Yeah, I want to see just how good my work turns out to be." yawned Clara, as she stretched and display her well formed body in the glistening morning sun, getting an eye-ball role from her fellow Captain.
Afterwards Clara Renner and Keryn arrived, the latter constantly playing with her Urean Katana, obviously impatient and wanting to move out already. "I just want to test it out already!" exclaimed Keryn, swining her blade in an arc above her head.
Toshiro leaned towards the female captain and whispered, "I think your handy-work needs improving." At which she shrugged and giggle slightly. "Well then we all ready to move out, now that all of us are here?"
"Guess so." mumbled the now again Erachi-Clara as Keryn was jumping around, throwing kicks at the air, or punching it, obviously hyper-active.
Toshiro looked over his group again, then ran his hand over his face, sighing. What had he got himself into, agreeing to lead this group. He grabbed his blade from his hip, unsheathed it and impaled the air, his blade vanishing as he did it. "Unlock", murmered Toshiro, and a bright white light appeared. While he expected everyone to walk towards and through it, he found himself the other looking at it and doing nothing, expect for Camus who smirked. Have they never seen a bright light before?! Thought Toshiro to himself. Before speaking up.
"You are more or less expected to walk into the portal, it doesn't come towards you." sighed the man, he knew this would be a long day.
"How low tech. Most portals here expand. Get with the times, big guy." complained Kira, still fiddling with her hair.
"Just walk into it..." sighed Toshiro, as the other Captain behind him was rolling on the floor, laughing silently.
"Alaric, take point." ordered Camus, and his former third seat did what he was told and entered the portal first, Camus right behind him. He was followed by the Earthplane Clara and Kira and Korra, the former still looking upset at her hair colour. Toshiro was about to follow him when Keryn stopped him.
"I'm sorry, sir."
"Why are you sorry?" asked Tosh, bewildered.
"That you're the one stuck dealing with us." explained Keryn, looking down.
"It is fine. I agreed to it, not like we drew straws or something." Said Toshiro, trying to ease her mind.
"No, we played rock, paper, scissors!" exclaimed the Squad 12 Captain.
"Well, I'm glad we got stuck with you, then. Oberyn would have been torture." sighed Keryn, now playing with her hair.
"I'm sad to say...he isn't the worst you could have ended up with." Said the Squad 10 Captain, shaking his head.
"Still, after my last...interaction with him...it wouldn't have been fun." Explained the Erachi, stressing the word interaction.
"We all heard of that. Now get going, you seemed all trigger-happy a moment ago." Answered Tosh, wanting to change the subject quickly.
"You too, I expect you to be coming in behind me." responded Keryn, now all gun-ho again and jumped through.
"Did you have to tell them about the way we decided...?" sighed Toshiro at Clara.
"Oh I found it so amusing. Now I almost wish I had cheated against Oberyn so he'd be here instead of you." laughed Clara.
"You wanted him to impregnate one of the Hybrids?" asked Toshiro, astonished.
"Oh they'd make such a cute couple!" exclaimed Clara.
"You say that about Oberyn and every woman he meets outside the squads." responded the other Captain.
"Only because it is true!"
At that Toshiro wanted to smack the back of their head, their agreed upon signal that she was being stupid, but she evaded by quickly by performing a handstand, so he instead smacked her rear.
"Oh you are so naught, Captain Hitsugaya. I didn't know you had such a dark, lustful side to you." giggled Clara, looking at him from below. At this he blushed, grabbed her by the leg, and flung her through the portal, before shaking his head, and jumping through it as well.
The sight that greeted them, was disastrous. It looked as though reality itself had tried to devour itself and then choking on the fabric of time and space, regurgitated and then spread the result out on this planet of sorts. It looked incredibly strange, it was night, noon, morning, dusk and afternoon all the same time. It was incredibly hot, and freezing cold as well, but the worst bit was the sky. No matter where you looked, it couldn't decide on a colour, it was actually eye-watering to even try looking at them. The stars too, they were in constant flux, no constellation staying the same.
"We have a huge problem." said Clara, as she came flying through and salting onto her feet.
Toshiro who came in after her, looked around before saying. "This isn't a problem it is a catastrophe. I can sense at least, thirty-nine other planes interjected and intersecting with this one. Creating a massive instability."
Katalena stood perfectly still, however something was definitely off, a small smile at first, burst into a leering masquerade of insanity. Clara looked around, tilted her head before speaking. "Well...I could fix it, but it would kill me."
"And I don't even know how to use that technique, yet." piped up Keryn.
"I'm just here to punch things, this is beyond me." replied Kira, who for unknown reasons started to braid Korra's hair, who was obviously annoyed by that.
The two former officers of the Court Guard Squads, immediately fell into their well trained behavioral patterns, scanning the area for hostiles, when a voice rang out behind them. No one knew the speaker though Kira felt that horrible tingly feeling in her spine she had felt last, centuries ago, but that couldn't be.
"Now this is rather, totally, utterly and completely...expected." spoke up Anthony.
"Wow...never expected to run into you again." was all Kira managed to say, after whipping around in shock and astonishment.
"I could say the same. Then again, you Sigurdsons don't stay dead. But one thing does interest me, how long was Mark dead, before you jumped on that? asked the masked fellow before pointing at Korra.
"Nigh on twenty years." responded Kira, slowly her eyes narrowing. The four Harton-Erachi had already moved their hands to their blade hilts, the Erachis following suit, as Kata, now a slightly calmer look on her face turned around as well.
"Ah, that is good, good to know." chuckled the Arrancar, looking at the group, when Keryn spoke up.
"And who are you?" asked the Erachi, suspicious, something was definitely off here.
"I? I carried multiple names, but in the end, I am no body." answered Anthony.
"Why are you here? asked Camus suspicious his grip still tight on this blade.
"Just admiring my handy-work after disposing of one of your own." explained the former Segunda Espada as though he was talking about the weather.
At this Katalena laughed quietly taking in the scenery around her. No one else said anything. Until Toshiro spoke up. "Listen, no matter your power, you are facing four Captain-level opponents, two Erachi, an extremely powerful Hybrid and two of the greatest warriors Earth Plane has to offer. You sure our chances are so bad?"
"No...your chances are far worse." replied the Arrancar.
"Toshiro, do no underestimate this one. This is not going to go well for anyone here." mumbled Camus to his former Lieutenant, who nodded in agreement.
"If it is going well for anyone, then for our masked friend over there. We cannot leave. The planar shattering is making it impossible" commented Clara, stepping up to her fellow Captains.
"Damn." cursed Camus, as he and Alaric drew their blades simultaneously, while the Erachi summoned their Soul Swords and Katalena continued to laugh, loudly now.
"Oh, petty little creatures, you understand so little. With what might you have, you think you can crush me? Kira, you should know how that ended for your little band of heroes, last time around." sneered Anthony at them, making no move what so ever to draw his weapon. However Kira merely locked her gaze with his, remaining silent.
"Oh come on, nothing? Is it that shocking to you a reveal, that I still do whatever I want? Or do you want to keep your troops morale high? laughed Anthony.
"No, it really isn't. However disappointing it may be." answered Kira, coldly, clutching her hands into fists.
"Well, then. Who of you would like to die first? If we set the order now, it saves time later on, and look. Didn't I create a dreamy scenery for you to die in?" asked Anthony, popping his neck joints, in an incredibly loud manner. There was silence for a moment, before an utterly maniacal and cruel laughter ripped through the air, as Katalena looked at Anthony again.
"Toshiro, to me. Clar, to Alaric, now." ordered Camus and the other officers jumped into action, while Keryn and Clara were both stretching, looking annoyed at Anthony.
"Oh well...guess all of you at once then." remarked the masked man, as he reached for his own weapon. At that, Kata's laughed stopped and a far more eerie silence followed, then the air around the group suddenly exploded and everyone could feel Katalena's powers hugely amplified.
While the dust settled, Keryn launched forward intent on striking the first blow, however her blade simply passed right through her opponent, who then tightly gripped her wrist, making it impossible for her to shake free.
"Now, now. Who taught you how to conduct battle? You charged right in without any plan of attack." said Anthony has he reached for his staff again. Keryn smiled at this, raised her hand and fired a beam of Erachi-energy from her hand intent of taking her opponents head off. However that beam too simply passed, through and the next thing Keryn felt was a lightning fast knee-strike to her side, as Anthony twisted her wrist around, breaking it as if it was no matter at all, then sending her back with a kick. However before he could race after her, Katalena launched her offensive, angry red beams of energy struck him. Or at least at first, then simply passed through him.
"I see...you got a few upgrades, however that is a far cry from what will be needed to defeat me." said Anthony, now drawing his staff and rushing towards the opposing group. When a trio of voice rang out:
"Reign over the Frosted Heavens, Hyōrinmaru!"
As the three Captains released their Shikai. At the same time, the back of Clara's uniform ripped open, as she activated her Shunkō, the impressive energy surrounding her body. The Harton's launched the next offensive, with Clara and Alaric being the first to strike. He collected the light on the tip of his blade and fired a sickle of energy at Anthony, who easily jumped above it in midair, only to be caught by Clara, who focused her Shunkō onto her right arm, as she struck down on him. However Anthony's ocular powers allowed him to foresee that move, yet the speed and ferocity of the attack made it impossible to become intangible again in time, so he reluctantly used his staff to take the brunt of the attack. This however did not stop him from being flung back towards the ground where Toshiro was waiting and fired a massive ice dragon from his blade, intent on freezing Anthony, who used his powers again, to collapse the space around the attack, and redirect it towards Clara, who fired a beam of energy at it to melt, it, however was ultimately forced to cut it apart with her Stage Three blade.
Content with the situation for now, Anthony raised his staff to attack when a voice behind him interrupted him.
"Guess who didn't pay attention to his shadow." said Camus, raising Chiya, to cut their opponent down. At first Anthony was confused, how could a shadow for in the middle of the air, then he saw how. Alaric had used his abilities, to create Anthony's shadow on a fragment of the ice dragon, which Captain Clara, had quickly kicked into the correct position, so Camus could appear right behind him and strike a terrible blow. The former Segunda Espada broad his staff up, to block but the force behind the strike was greater than he had anticipated, as Clara had given her fellow Harton, a speed boast at the last moment, this caused Anthony to lose his grip in midair, and be sent crashing into the ground. Dust rising up, as Kata swooped down towards the cloud, and fired hundreds of her hexes into the area in which she felt Anthony's chaos reside, she was aided in this by Kira, Korra and Keryn, who sent beams of various energies at their fallen opponent. They stopped after five minutes, as nothing moved and Kata couldn't sense the chaos anymore, albeit that might have been due to the scrambling effect of the various planes interjecting there.
"Do not let your guards down. This isn't over yet." ordered Camus, trying to discern any movement in the dust cloud below. There was nothing, when all of a sudden Korra screamed out in agony. Anthony had appeared behind her, and rammed his staff through her chest, the group whipped around in shock. As he tossed the lifeless body towards Kira, he moved again, his next targeting being Kata. He had realised one thing, that woman was dangerous, extremely powerful but had exactly one weak point, close up and personal fighting. While she was capable of defending herself quite well, a master of hand-to-hand combat like Anthony, easily over powered her. The Arrancar grabbed her by the back of the neck and forced her to look into the holes in his mask, where eyes could be seen.
"Tsukuyomi!" he whispered, and Kata opened her mouth slightly as though she wanted to say something, then her eyes rolled back and only their withes could be seen. She fell from the sky and would have surely broken multiple bones had Clar not caught her in time. While the group was taken a back they were far from defeated, Clara along with her daughter and Kira charged at Anthony, from three directions, he simply remained still, and waited for the two seconds it would take for them to reach him. Toshiro who realised what was going on, yelled for them to stop, but it was too late. At the last moment, Anthony made himself intangible, and Clara and Keryn impaled each other on their soul blades. Before Anthony's arms became tangible again, and he smacked both of them with his staff, with enough force to even cause them to let go of their blades, which vanished. Then he spun around again, grabbed Kira by the throat, raised his other arm, and sharp tree branches grew out of his skin, impaling Kira's, Keryn's and Clara's extremities, rendering them immobile. Now Clar, who had just finished the emergency treatment of Kata raced upwards again to catch their newest casualties, as Anthony turned to the remaining three captain.
"I didn't know there were people who could have such a multitude of abilities. Tell me, your blade, it is a constant release type, no?" asked Toshiro narrowing his eyes, as he looked at his opponents staff.
Anthony tilted his head and chuckled. "Some one is observant, yes. Many of my abilities come from my blade, Tensai. But I also have my own base abilities, just like the Art of Living Creation, I just demonstrated."
This was followed by silence, while Clara rejoined her fellow Captains. As they devised a new stratagem to take down their opponent. However he gave them no time to implement it, the former Segunda Espada had grown tired of this little game, and moved to finish it quickly. He raced forward attempting to strike Camus with his staff, however found himself forced to break of the attack and instead pare a double attack of ice and light from Alaric and Toshiro, both stepping in to protect their former Captain. Now locked into place, Clara collected her energy along her arm again, spinning it while she charged. During this Camus jumped over his two former subordinates and lashed down with a massive shadow blade.
Anthony wanted to simply become intangible again, but had to realise that his right arm and leg were frozen in place by Toshiro. There was no way to free himself and become intangible in time, so instead he took another option. His right eye locked onto Camus, and a second later he murmured.
With this black unextinguishable flames burst into life, right on the center of Camus' chest. The veteran Captain grunted in pain but continued his attack. Together with Clara. Sighing Anthony closed his eyes for a moment, to be forced to use this technique again. Then he opened them again, as a massive ribcage formed around his body, blocking his opponents attacks with ease. The ribcage then expanded and formed a massive, three kilometer tall, samurai warrior. Who now towered over the assembled group.
"They say, this Susanoo is death incarnate, no one who has set their eyes upon it, has lived to tell the tale." called out Anthony from somewhere within, the super-massive collection of Amber Energy. The entire group looked at the thing before them and knew they were in trouble. However their attention was drawn to Camus as he let go of his blade, the great sword, falling down and impaling the Earth, the black flames were still gnawing at his flesh, having burned an incredible amount already. However now Anthony released the technique, it cost a lot of energy and he wanted to preserve some of it.
The flames gone, Camus fell from the sky, and was caught by Clar, who put him down on the ground next to his blade, his breathes were shallow, but he was alive. He simply had not anticipated fighting such an incredibly powerful opponent here, foremost someone who was no longer aligned with Aizen. His eyes moved back to his former subordinates, those two needed to be careful. Both had been hailed as geniuses just like him in the past, they were incredibly powerful as well, but cocky, arrogant to a certain degree in regards to their power. He hoped Clara could keep them in check, because beating this guy would be difficult.
"Guess, they have no choice but to use Bankai..." wheezed Camus, when suddenly another voice rang out.
"Getsuga Tensho!" and a huge red-black sickle of energy slammed into the hulking samurai apparition. Following this a strange young man appeared, dressed completely in black, a slim black katana in both hands and a horrific Hollow Mask on his face.
"Sorry I'm late, I had to break out of the dimension he had sealed me in." said Konstantin, his voice contorted due to the Hollow Mask.
"Oh well, I thought I could greet you with more than one corpse. Seems I am getting old." sighed Anthony suspened in the massive collection of amber, that towered over the others. A mere thought sufficed and the massive warrior, moved a hand down towards the blade at its hip and in a motion far to quick to be actually possible drew the blade. The ensuing shockwave, ruptured the weakned planar bounderies even more, resulting in multiple parts of the planet to be simple ripped apart and vanished forever.
Seeing that, Konstantin channeled his tremendous amber pressure into his blade, resulting in black amber energy with red-rims flickering around the blade. Realising he otherwise would lack the strength he allowed his right hand, which was holding the blade to hollowfy as well, amplyfing his amber energy by an impressive amount. Now channeling everything he had into one final strike, Konstantin fired a Getsuga Tensho at full strength.
The ultra-dense sickle of power slammed into enormous samurai, cutting deeply into the aparition, causing it to stagger back. However he had failed to actually wound Anthony or to desolve the Susanoo. Now robbed off most of his energy, Konstantin's Hollowfication disappeared, and with them, he too began to become more and more transparent until he vanished completely.
"Well, well. I occupied you long enough. Things are moving along quite well now." said Anthony as he released his Susanoo and looked down at his assembled opposition.He slowly levitated down towards them, patting the dust of his cloak, before replacing his staff on his back.
"If I were you. I would leave this place soon. It will soon be gobbled up by the Sea of Darkness. I thank you for the dance, even if it was barely enjoyable." laughed the Arrancar as space around him swirlled and sucked himself in, causing him to vanish. Realising that they could leave the planet again, Clara activated the portal, and the entire group vanished, mere seconds before the planet and the interjecting planes, were devoured by the Sea of Darkness.
Point of No ReturnEdit
Keryn stepped out of the medical center and stretched. It had been a week since the battle with Anthony, and she'd only woken up four hours ago. After going through six or seven checks to make sure she was actually alive and sane, she walked out, needing to be moving again. She'd been shaken up by the battle with Anthony, how easily they'd all been defeated. It scared her more than anything had in the past. She walked for a while, rather aimlessly, not sure who she was trying to find. Her distracted march led her to round a corner and bump into the captain Amy. "Sorry." She said quietly and went to move on.
"You're not going to hit on me?" Amy asked, sounding surprised.
"Not in the mood." Keryn grumbled.
"Wow, something is definitely wrong then." The captain replied. Keryn stopped yeah.
"Yeah. There is. What, nine of us went out there and got stomped. Not just my people, some of yours as well." Keryn said. "What hope do we have if that is what we're facing?"
"He was...curiously powerful." Amy said slowly. "I rather doubt that the rest of Aizen's army will possess such power."
"I hope not." Keryn said. "If so, we're doomed."
"Whatever happened to that proud, boisterous girl I met a few weeks back?" Amy asked.
"She grew up real fast." Keryn snapped, and was surprised to see Amy reach out and grip her shoulder.
"Listen, you're new to this. Everyone went through this shock when they first joined this war. You're scared and stressed, so come on, let's go find something to relieve that stress of yours."
"Is that seriously your answer here?" Keryn asked. "Is getting me laid seriously the solution?"
"I come from what you may call a hedonistic society. That's the only solution." Amy said.
"Are you offering?" Keryn asked, only half joking.
"No. Sorry, kid, I like my partners waaaayyy more experienced than you." Amy said. "You could try Oberyn or his lieutenant again."
"No." Keryn said. "Both didn't do it for me."
"Why not Rachel?" Amy asked, and Keryn was quiet. "She not suited to your tastes?"
"No, she is, I just...don't want her to be casual." Keryn said quietly.
"If you wanted you could probably have a relationship there, too."
"You...you think so?" Keryn asked.
"Sure, go for it. She lives two blocks thataway." Amy said, pointing.
"Do you have liquid courage?" Keryn asked.
"Is that some kind of invention native to this plane?" Amy asked, cocking her head to the side.
"Oh. Well, you caught me when I'm not technically on duty, so yeah." Amy said and handed her a small flask. Keryn downed it and started walking away. Keryn found her way to Amy's barracks and just walked in, completely undeterred by curious glances from other people working there. She found Rachel's quarters and went in and crashed down in a chair.
"You ok?" Rachel's voice said. Keryn looked over and saw Rachel approaching from her desk, a look of concern on her face.
"No. We got our shit kicked in. A relative died out there." Keryn said, and a look of understanding came over Rachel's face as she knelt down next to Keryn.
"I'm sorry." The captain said quietly.
"I...I was scared. For the first time ever, I was scared when facing an opponent." Keryn said. "I've never felt that before. I didn't know what to do with it."
"I...I was scared as well." Rachel said.
"Of what?" Keryn asked gently. Rachel didn't answer. Keryn sighed. "Now, I just want to go back out there and keep fighting again."
"You can't." Rachel said.
"Why not?" Keryn asked.
"All the possible missions are underway. Yours was just one of a few." Rachel said. "Also, look at you. You're still a mess."
"I can still fight." Keryn said stubbornly.
"No, you can't." Rachel said. "You need to recover, it's bad enough you're going out there at all, let alone going in the condition you're in."
"What do you mean?" Keryn asked. "Bad enough that I'm going out there?"
"I...I didn't want you going out to fight." Rachel said. "I wanted you to stay behind."
"Because I was scared of you not coming back." Rachel said, and Keryn was quiet for a long moment.
"Do you know what I was afraid of out there?" Keryn asked.
"Not of dying. I was scared of what I was about to leave behind." Keryn said and leaned forward, gently grabbing Rachel's hand. "The two people that went through my head were my brother and you."
"So, you're saying..."
"I'm saying that if we're as doomed as I think we are I want to be doomed with someone I care about." Keryn said.
"You're...lacking in confidence, but...I agree." Rachel said, squeezing her hand.
"Ok then." Keryn said, letting out a nervous laugh. "Uh, I've, er, never had a committed one of these before...how do I do it?" She asked, causing Rachel to laugh out loud.
"Well, for now, let's just be glad we're both alive so far, ok?"
"Sounds perfect." Keryn said, pulling Rachel closer into an embrace.
"Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow." Kata muttered with each step she took. Despite the healing processes, her right leg was still as sore as it got. She was walking to a balcony that patients who weren't totally cleared to leave the medical center. She made her way out onto the balcony and sat down. She looked up at the night sky and pondered the battle she had just survived. The door opened behind her and Captain Toshiro sat down next to her. "Evening." She said.
"Evening." He replied. "Are you recovering well?"
"Not terribly. Yourself?" She asked.
"Almost fully." he said. "How are you holding together?"
"Strangely well. Just wanting to know when we're allowed visitors."
"Well, most people you know are either unconscious or away on assignment." the captain said. She pressed two fingers to the side of her head and scanned the base.
"Jace is gone, Morri is gone, Axel is gone, Aednat is gone, Viv is gone, Mason is gone...good lord where did everyone go?" She asked.
"Various missions. I was unconscious when they left." He said with a small shrug.
"Now I just ponder when we're allowed back into battle."
"Why so eager?" He asked.
"Because now I know their measure." She said calmly. "I know what to be prepared for. And I know how difficult it will be to get inside their heads. That knowledge will be my upper hand."
"You're remarkably calm." He pointed out. She stopped and pondered his observation. Oh lord.
"How...why...my inner chaos is gone." She said, eyes widening.
"The medics said there was chance that may happen as a result of your battle with Anthony." Toshiro said.
"Well this is a problem." She said.
"What do you mean?"
"That was the source of my power. I can still harness chaos from the upgrades you people gave me, but when this is over I'll be next to useless."
"I rather doubt that." Toshiro said. "I think your power has always been your ability to control and focus chaos, rather than become it."
"I'll believe that when I see it." She muttered.
"One day you will." He assured her.
"May I...may I practice entering the mind of someone of your power?" She asked.
"I need to experience it at that difficulty, with my usual power gone, I need practice." She said and walked over to stand in front of him.
"Would your boyfriend approve?" He asked.
"I do this to everyone, he's used to it." She said and started going to work on his mind. She saw dozens of memories and images within seconds of effort, taking care to not ravage his mind. She saw his fears, his hopes, his goals, his...affections for her. She stopped and pulled back. "I'm sorry." She said eventually.
"No need to be. What is, is. You have your boyfriend, I have my mission."
"So clinical." She said sadly. "That'll catch up to you one day, Toshiro. I should go...I'm sorry, again." She said and walked back through the door.
Kira sat in her house, staring out the window. It was a few hours after her wife Korra's funeral. She'd rejected all visitors, not interested in them after she'd chosen to give the eulogy herself. Most of those she knew were away on deployment. She stared out the window, numb to everything around, until she heard a slight creak in the floor and turned. Anthony, the one who had killed Korra, stood before her. In her youth, she'd have fought him then and there. But now, she had no more fight in her. "What the hell are you doing here" She asked.
"You gave an interesting speech." Anthony said simply, with no hint of his usual mockery.
"What do you care?"
"Believe it or not, I am not overtly fond of killing." Anthony said. "But I fear I had little choice."
"Little choice, fuck you." She said and looked back out the window.
"If you remember, your people attacked me, I was merely defending myself." Anthony said.
"You had the power to outclass us. It stands to reason that means you could safely fight us all without killing and incapacitate each of us without causing death." Kira said.
"Maybe I do. Maybe I do not. That isn't why I'm here. Back on the planet you said you were disappointed. Now I wonder why. Centuries ago you saw me do this same stuff. You know I didn't regret them back then." Anthony said.
"I'd hoped you learned." She sighed.
"From what? Unlike you I had nothing to go back to, save going back to my old self." He said.
"Does it matter anymore?" She said shortly.
"The first time I hear you ask that. Has time taken its toll? Has your resolve begun to waver?" He asked.
"You killed it." She shot back.
"So after all these years I succeeded. How boring. I'd rather hoped you would keep the fight in you." He said. "Though, I must ask you...why didn't you tell anyone about the true end of the Mirror War?"
"I should have, in retrospect." She said, through gritted teeth.
"Because you actually believed in me. How disgusting." He said. "Tell me, if I'd allow it...would you kill me now?"
"If you allowed it, no." She said, with no hesitation.
"No. I want to forcibly take life from you. I don't want it handed to me, I want to rip it from you and I want the last thing you see as you fall from this world to be my face." She said.
"Happened. A long time ago. Do not worry, it was you who did it. Just in...another life." Anthony said.
"Good. That means I can do it again." Kira snarled.
"You do not understand. Life can only be taken once." He said, and she remembered dying, herself, from four arrows to the chest.
"Guess that means I can't die." She said, and Anthony noticed the air in the room grow colder.
"I'd check the front door before I tested that." Anthony said and vanished into thin air. Kira immediately summoned a fist of stone around her right hand and walked to the front door. Just inside it stood Korra.
"How the hell?" Kira asked.
"He never killed me. Remember, you said yourself, his powers make you see things that aren't there." Korra said and Kira took a few tentative steps forward, not trusting life enough to immediately believe what she saw was real. "He made it so none of you could see or hear me. I was never impaled, just knocked aside."
"I...can't believe I fell for that." Kira said, tentatively moving forward still, before hugging her wife tightly.
"I can't believe that speech. Honey, you left out why I'm as awesome as I am." Korra joked, returning the embrace. "Seriously, though, why didn't he taunt you as much as I thought he would?" In response, Kira started gripping and poking at various parts of Korra's body. "Hey, stop it, I'm real." Korra said.
"I don't know." Kira said, burying her head in Korra's shoulder, satisfied Korra was indeed real.
"Least we got each other back." Korra said, squeezing her. "But, I don't think we should worry about him. I don't think he's interested in killing us. He didn't seem as bad as you had described."
"I don't trust him." Kira said, and Korra saw that fire and intensity return to Kira's eyes.
"You shouldn't, but I don't think we have to worry about him wanting us dead." Korra said.
"Speaking of which, I guess I should go dig you up." Kira joked.
"Oh no, you're gonna stay here with me a little longer." Korra replied, kissing her on the forehead.
Konstantin was panting as he stabbed his blade into the last Arrancar on the planet. He looked around one last time before undoing his Hollowfication. Following this he collapsed against a broken pillar and replaced his blade on his hip.
"You've done a great job of distancing yourself from me..." rang out a voice behind him.
He closed his eyes and sighed before answering. "You are making it sound like I ran away from you."
"Well you did you?" asked the other speaker stepping out of the shadow, revealing her red hair.
"We both know I did not. I never would run away from you." replied Konstantin opening his eyes looking at her.
"Charging from battle field to battle field in the last centuries certainly creates that idea." shrugged Amy as she sat down next to her husband.
"I tried to keep them off of this plane, guess I failed in that too." sighed Konstantin in response.
Amy did not answer instead she put her head on his shoulder and surveyed the devastated planet. Smoked filled the air and made it hard to breath. The ground was sown with Arrancar corpses, all displaying their typical white uniforms.
"At least you managed to slow them down." said Amy finally.
"It doesn't matter much. Aizen will keep creating more Arrancars, killing a few thousand won't make a difference to him." retorted Anthony.
"You know...you could have taken it as a compliment and enjoy a little bit of time alone with me. Because once we are back on base an old acquaintance of you, will probably take up a lot if not all your time." quipped Amy as she jabbed him in the shoulder.
"You mean Clara Renner?"
"Should I be worried about her? You know, I am not sharing." asked Amy only half joking and glaring at Konstantin, who almost jumped to his feet.
"No, don't worry. She is a friend nothing more."
"I hope so...for her sake."
Axel was coughing up blood as his opponents foot came down on his chest.
"You are so weak I can't even be bothered to kill you." remarked Madara as he stepped over the wounded man.
"That took longer than it should have." remarked Anthony who looked over from his position sitting atop of Syrio's lifeless body, his staff firmly jammed into the Captain's chest.
"There is no beauty in simple killings my friend." scolded Madara the former Espada.
"There is no beauty in any death. It is simple, uncomplicated. There is no difficult or simple kill. All of them are the same." shot Anthony back wrenching his weapon free and cleaning it on Syrio's robes.
"If you think so. You could at least pretend to enjoy fighting someone of that caliber. I mean he is hailed as one of the greatest sword masters who ever lived. Don't tell me you didn't feel anything during your dance. I am sure it must have been exciting." grinned Madara liking his lips at the thought.
Anthony didn't bother to answer instead he placed his weapon on his back and got up. He moved to close Syrio's eyes which were staring up into the burning sky. The last emotion, surprise and shock edged into them for ever. However only millimetres away he withdrew his hand again, as he saw Madara watching him.
"Feeling compassion for him?" mocked the Decima Espada.
"No. That would be like admitting I am wrong to do what I do. However it is a costume of the Harton-Erachi to close the eyes of their dead. Leave a body like this is desecrating. I do not especially care for that, but I do not wish to be insulted as a person who forgoes the rights of other people." answered Anthony direly, as he walked away before disappearing.
Madara simply huffed, kicked Alex one last time, then disappeared as well, wondering how the last fight on the planet was going. It amused him that two sisters were fighting against each other. He almost was inclined to watch it.
Morrigan stood there transfixed at what she saw. Something was wrong, her opponent could be whom she saw. That person was considered long dead. Opposite of her stood her own half sister, Claudia Sigurdson.
Morrigan tilted her head slightly to the side before speaking up.
"Looks like I won't have to hunt for you." came Claudia's dry response.
"Why would you want to?" asked Morri confused.
"Because that is what happens to traitors." spat the redhead.
"What the hell did I do?" exclaimed Morrigan as she tried to think about anything she might have done to earn such a treatment.
"You threw away your family. You betrayed all Sigurdsons who came before you. I will make that right." growled Claudia.
"When? When did I do that?" asked the brunette eyeing her opponent suspiciously.
"Don't you dare play innocent with me." hissed the Sigurdson in return.
"No seriously. I was born. That was it." explained Morri as if she was talking to a five year old.
"Fine. As you do not want to admit. I will skip that part and go right to your punishment." growled Claudia.
"No please, I am interested." said Morrigan not even sarcastically.
"I think I know perfectly well whom to summon for you." smiled Claudia as she clasped her hands together. Morrigan realising talking would get her nowhere sighed as three caskets appeared before her half-sister, and the three people who once had meant the world to her stood there. Zev, Lel and her own mother.
"Hey guys." said Morrigan the resolution in her voice was absolute. She had buried those three, Claudia was simply playing on her fears, she would not let her get anywhere with such a cheap trick.
"Kill her." was all Claudia said and the corpses assumed the appearance they had had during their lives and struck forward attacking Morrigan. She reacted quickly and used her portals to appear behind her opponents, then used a portal to send Zev away into a far away ocean. However he simply reappeared above her and took her into a choke hold.
"Don't think you can get rid of them so easily. I can summon the dead back at any time." jeered Claudia. As Morrigan elbowed Zev hard into the ribs before throwing him off of her and sending him crashing into Leliana. Before using a portal to skip the distance between herself and Leandra and close lining her.
"I had expected pettiness, but this is just immature Claudia." sighed Morrigan looking her sister in the eyes.
"It is better this way. You should die for your treason, and then ones to execute you should be the people whom you failed." responded Claudia shaking her head as if to clear it.
"Mom did say you were the dramatic one." said Morri rolling her eyes.
"Do not mention that slut to me." growled Claudia now anger filling her voice again. This time she herself entered the fray and attacked Morrigan, however the two matched each other at every turn, neither managed to land more than one blow on the other before breaking off. Now it was the undead's turn again as they struck at Morrigan from multiple angles. However her skills far outmatched those of her opponents so she had the time to throw another taunt at Claudia.
"It seems your dad didn't teach you any hand-to-hand skills." It was a simple taunt, Morrigan didn't believe her opponent would fall for it, but the more emotional Claudia got, the easier it would be to beat her.
"He did, I just don't want your filthy blood on my hands." hissed the redhead, though clearly more angry now.
"That or you are just afraid of losing." taunted Morrigan again as she set Leliana to the ground with a wheel kick to her jaw.
"Keep telling yourself that." smirked Claudia as Morrigan winced. A kick from Zev had caught her in the left side, definitely hurting her left kidney. However she would return, the favour, as she grabbed his leg, snapped it, turned around and stomped hard on his throat, crushing it.
"Come on, Claudia. Short of being born, how did I offend you?" panted Morrigan exasperated.
"You know full well." answered Claudia through gritted teeth as Morrigan was attacked by Leandra and Leliana at the same time.
"No, I fucking don't." shouted Morrigan as she threw Leandra off of her, and smashed her knee into Leliana's face.
"Then you are just stupid and blind!" exclaimed Claudia as she threw a kick into Morrigans jaw sending her staggering back.
"I feel like..." at that she rubbed her jaw..."That you're just taking out on me what you couldn't on others."
"Don't talk as if you knew me. You threw your family aside. Became a kin slayer. Betrayed the Sigurdson name. It is you. It is you that I hate more than anything else."
"And what did you do? You ran. You fled. You left. You were the one thing no other Sigurdson was, and that is a coward."
"Shut up!" screamed Claudia before covering the distance between herself and Morrigan in an instant. She swiped her opponents legs away from underneath her, kneed her hard in the face and then tossed her to the side. "You were right. I don't need them. I will do this personally." growled Claudia as she sent the dead back to the land of the dead.
"Good one." replied Morrigan as she jumped back on her feet grinning at Claudia.
"You will regret this more than anything you ever did before." growled the Sternenritter, as she tossed her jacket away, revealing her formfitting combat gear.
"I'll keep mine on, thanks." laughed Morrigan but only briefly. Claudia had grabbed her by the hair, and slammed her knee up into her spine, before spinning around and guillotine kicking her stomach. Definitely causing internal damage. The kick was powerful enough to cause Morrigan to collapse into the mud beneath their feet gasping for air for a few seconds.
Yet before Claudia could continue her onslaught, Morrigan rolled to her feet and gracefully evaded Claudia's strike. Now on the offensive, she delivered to quick knees into Claudia's side, an elbow to her neck, followed by a quick throw. Or that was the plan, during the attempt to throw, Claudia managed to grab on and instead of her, Morrigan slammed into the mud again, with Claudia sitting on her stomach now repeatedly bashing her fists against her opponents face. Blood was soon starting to colour the mud in a dirty red.
However Morrigan was a Sigurdson, she did not give up easily, she bucked her hips and rolled to the side escaping Claudia, before mounting another attack herself attempt to gain control of the fight, yet the moment she touched Claudia, her opponent simply disappeared as if she had been illusion, only to reappear a second later standing above Morrigan's head and began her assault anew.
"Don't be so surprised. One of your own kind has this ability too. It is called Illusion is Might." chuckled Claudia, her own knuckles bloodied too.
"Sound familiar." grunted Morrigan as she used her portals to cause Claudia to hit herself on the back of the head. Before stomping hard on her left knee. Claudia winced at that, but only for an instant equally used to pain as Morrigan was and brought up her right knee into Morrigan's crotch, before attempting to crush her throat with a jab. The brunette ignored the fiery pain near her genitals for the moment, dropped away underneath the jab, and slammed her elbow as hard as she could into Claudia's groin, feeling herself hit the clitoris. Sending a way of pain through her opponent like she hadn't felt before, staggering and falling back, Claudia was at the disadvantage now. Morrigan realising this jumped to get a knee bar in, yet Claudia whose eyes had watered from the pain, reacted quickly enough, and the brunette jumped with her groin directly on her sisters outstretched leg, feeling the very same pain she had caused a second early. As she fell Claudia rolled beneath her, slung her arm around her neck, one around one of Morrigan's free arms, and used her legs to restrain Morrigan's. Then began to choke her in ernest. The Hybrid struggled against this, but her opponents clutch was like iron, she didn't move one bit. As her vision began to blur, she summoned her last reserved and opened a portal beneath them, dropping them back down from high altitude.
They smashed back into the ground. It hurt. It hurt like nothing had hurt before, thought Morrigan and then imagined how much more painful it must have been for Claudia. It was enough for her to let go off her throat, but she still found the strength to ram her fist into the side of Morrigan's head, hard enough to cause both of them to roll away from each other. Neither was a pretty side anymore, bloodied, covered in mud, broken bones, bruises everywhere, but both were still standing not even close to giving up.
"I'll ask you again..." at that Morrigan tossed off her jacket... "What are you really trying to get at me for?"
You threw so readily away what I could only enjoy for a very short time. The Sigurdsons...a proud family, a kind family. You threw that name away as if it meant nothing. Just like Kira. Both of you. I hate you so much for that." cried out Claudia, as she tackled Morrigan back into the mud, and again punched her in the face, but at lot less powerful than before. Her tears were mixing with her own blood, and the mud covering her face as she again and again, punched her sister. The mix of blood, mud and tears were dropping down onto Morrigan's own face.
Easily taking her sisters back, Morrigan took Claudia into a control submission, she didn't want to hurt her own sister any further. "Claudia...things happened unlike anything else that caused us to want to move on. Isn't that just what you did? You tried to move on?" asked Morrigan soothingly.
"No! You forgot about them! Abandoned them! Abandoned me! You did not cherish the family you had." cried Claudia, struggling against Morrigan's grip, but only slightly, other than that she was simply shaking from crying so much. For centuries she had carried those thoughts within her, no one to talk to, no one to understand.
"I never met you. Kira was dead. After she came back and the war began, we just wanted to stay alive. We thought you had abandoned us. I watched as mom was murdered in front of me. Our sister succumbed to Skulblakan Sickness. And you never even gave a hint of existing. You're the one who ran away." explained Morrigan slightly relaxing her hold on Claudia.
"There was nothing left for me when I ran. You weren't born, Kira was dead. Riley was dead, dad was dead and mum just left me. I was all alone...no one was left who cared about me...about our family. Then I see you and Kira and you so readily throw away the last chance I had to come back to my family...I was so angry...I was so hurt." cried Claudia loudly. Now completely losing all body tension and sobbing in Morrigan's arms. As if instinctual Morrigans hand went upwards and began to stroke Claudia's mud covered, formerly red hair.
"You could have come back. We would have welcomed you back." continued Morrigan softly, she was no longer angry, she felt sad for her sister who had suffered so much. The hold now resembled more an embrace than anything else. As if a lost child had returned home.
"No. You had moved on. You made it clear you wanted those parts of your lives to be dealt with and done for ever."
"I wanted to move on from the death. So did she. You don't really move on from family, Claudia." said Morrigan softly, her voice calming Claudia's heavy sobs. "Do you want to come back?" offered Morrigan embracing her sister truly now. Claudia simply nodded not being able to speak just yet.
"Then wait here, okay?" asked Morrigan pulling back and locking eyes with her sister, whose face was almost clear of the mud, due to her crying so much. She could see the damage she had down, countless fractures and bruises spread over her face. It pained her to have done that to her own sister, but knew it had been necessary and the right thing to do.
"Do you know what was happening to Jace and Axel?" asked Morrigan carefully. Claudia nodded, hesitantly between sniffles.
"What was it?" pressured Morrigan a little.
Claudia, swallowed and averted her eyes before answering. "They...they...were fighting people no one can beat."
"Do you know anything else?"
"The Captain you came her with...he is dead." whispered Claudia her voice hoarse from crying.
"Fuck. Ok." sighed Morrigan as she opened a portal to Kira's house. "Wait there. If she's there, explain everything. If she goes for the sisterly punch in the face, it'll be a right hook that's easy to duck. If she isn't, wait for me."
She hadn't finished speaking when all of a sudden the portal fluctuated and then vanished. Morri looked surprised until a voice rang out. "I am afraid I cannot allow that"
"Aw, shit, who is this guy?"
"I am the Decima Espada, Aaroniero. And I killed this guy. Now I will kill you and then this bitch for betraying us." laughed the Espada as he tossed Morrigan Axel's head, which bore multiple wounds, making it obvious Aaroniero had taken his time killing him. Morrigan stared at the head of her husband and was silent for an eerily long moment.
"Any last words?" mocked Aaroniero.
"Vakning." said Morrigan and a massive pillar of violet energy soared into the sky. Claudia looked at it for a moment, the power was breath taking it felt as though Morrigan had enough strength to incinerate the very cosmos. There wasn't any heat to the blast, though she knew that anything caught in the pillar's path would likely be less than dust. Then, a massive shockwave of power left Morrigan, one that would surely have been felt miles away, and she didn't think anything else after that, as she was blown away and flung against a tree, losing consciousness.
"Is this supposed to impress me?" laughed Aaroniero as the pillar began to dissipate.
Morri locked her now purple glowing eyes on the Espada, they were filled to the brim with contempt and hate of an unimaginable scale.
"Great you made a flashy entrance for contact lenses. I am not impressed." jeered the Arrancar.
Morrigan simply raised her hand to the sky and super-massive portal appeared, sucking in everything. Still not realising the danger he was in, he continued to joke.
"Oh! You found your place. Good thing that you know a woman should always vacuum if she isn't cooking or pleasing men."
Having heard enough, Morrigan dropped the portal on them both and they disappeared, after their sights had gone dark.
Once his sight had returned, Aaroniero found himself in a desolate desert. No sun could be seen on the bleakly white sky. Struggling to this feet the Espada noticed that the gravity had been increased by the factor one thousand.
"Nice party trick you got there, missy. Let me show you mine, and trust me, it will be the last thing you will ever see." laughed the Arrancar before drawing his black katana in a single swing. "Decay, Shibotsu!"
The next sequence of events was to quick for Morrigan to follow. She felt the kick to her stomach first, then she wasn't sure which part of her body her opponent had cut open first, she only felt the sharp sensation of her blood leaving her body. She looked up again in time to see him slamming the hilt down on her head, sending her crashing from the sky into the sand below. After getting up again, Morrigan popped her shoulder pack into place and looked up at her opponent. In her Vakning state, as with all Hybrids, the cuts he had inflicted very trivial at best, while sufficing to kill her multiple times in her pre-release state, now it was nothing. The cuts closed in on themselves and the fine, white scares formed on her body.
"That's it?" was all she asked. She had expected so much more. While she assumed the upgrades to her body probably aided her, she knew that if this was it her Vakning alone could have handled her opponent easily. Something was wrong here though, another such being had managed to overpower two Erachi and multiple Harton-Erachi, as well as two of the best fighters she knew. This was strange. But as she focused back on her opponent, just in time to increase the gravity around him by another thousand times, causing him to miss her by centimetres, another thought occurred to her could it simply be, she was facing the dumbest member of Aizen's army? After all she had heard about Amber...he had not even attempted to use it to block her control of this world. All he did was swing around his sword at her. While he scored a hit here and there, it was nothing. Her mind was still filled with rage, sadness and the last remaining bit that tried to make sense of the fight she was having, there was no room for the pain.
At Aaroniero's next strike, she ducked beneath it, and then her leg shot up, her strength amplified first to match his, then exceeded it, and sent him flying back into the sky. Where she then appeared again to smack him back down, hearing something crack beneath her fists and a rush of joy flooded her troubled mind, as the other being no doubt suffered an immense wave of pain. Looking down with contempt at her opponent, she waited for him to move.
"Guess, I'll end you quickly then, huh." growled Aaroniero and used his Amber for the first time, to achieve the super-speed the Arrancar's possessed, the Sonído. Morrigan could clearly feel it, in exactly that moment he completely disappeared from her control of this parallel world. It was interesting her opponent had no clue how to use his own powers, while Morrigan had grown immediately accustomed to hers. It was so amusing she wanted to laugh out loudly, she had figured out his abilities and how to counter them in not even five minutes and he didn't understand anything, even though he should have far more fighting experience than her. However her confidence was shattered a second later, when she felt something cold wrench inside her stomach. She looked down to see a semitransparent claw inside her stomach. Then she looked back up to see, Aaroniero in front of her, the claw extending from his stomach. But what truly got to her was the horrific creature behind him. While she did not believe in such things, the being looked just like a god of death, but such things couldn't exist, now could they?
"Guess, you can see it now. My Reaper, and just like he devoured your beloved husband's soul, he will devour yours, bitch." laughed Aaroniero at her surprised look. "The moment his soul was devoured I gained all of his memories and what little remained of his physical health, now you too shall meet that fate." geared the Arrancar and Morrigan felt a horrible sensation, as her soul was wrenched from her body.
No! This can't be how this ends. I am not getting beaten by some lousy idiot who has no clue how to conduct battle. I am not going to die. I have a sister now. I have to help her. I have to avenge Axel...there is no other way, I am not going to die!
These were the thoughts that crossed Morrigan Gustafsson's mind, as her soul was ripped from her body. It was the most horrible feeling she ever had experienced and never would experience something equally horrible again. But her will prevailed. Her own hand reached forward, grabbed on and pulled the part of her soul that had been ripped out already back, or tried to, now it was stuck in a limbo between the two.
"No...you will die!" panted Morrigan, the tug-of-war between them, was incredibly taxing both mentally and physically and she noted her reserves depleting rapidly. Think! There must a way out of this! You always found one before. This is no different, keep calm!
Love, there is a way. It is obvious, keep calm and analyse the situation!
Axel? But how...
You too are now linked to the Reaper. I am the last fragment remaining to be devoured. But I am glad, I could see you one last time. So I could at least tell you, that you are the greatest person that has ever existed. You are more powerful than anyone else, more resourceful more courageous. It was the greatest privilege that I could call myself your husband, that I could love you and that you loved me back. Do not weep for me, for my life was fulfilled by being with you.
Having said those last words, the last fragment of Axel's existence was devoured and destroyed for ever. But the short exchange had given her, her resolve back. So there was a way to beat him but how. She had already tried to manipulate that claw, but to no avail. Both the fact it was from Amber blocked her and that it was something so far out of the planar system that she couldn't even quite comprehend it. But something was still odd, she could freely manipulate Aaroniero and the space around him before he had said something to his blade. Meaning her Vakning in combination with the Upgrades had allowed her to surpass his Amber block.
That was it! That was how she could beat him! Her reserves dwindling low she reached out with her senses again and found nothing at first, then there was it. Weak but yes, she could feel his extremities and immediately turned his blood inside into corrosive acid. A shriek of pain was all the Arrancar could produce and immediately shifted parts of his amber around to protect his torso and head, now the acid that flowed towards the main part of his body was turned back into his blood, however his limbs literally fell off, acid raining down onto the sand as they did.
Morrigan smiled it had had the effect she had wished for. The suddens shift had caused her claw to no longer be utterly enwrapped by Amber. While she still couldn't manipulate it as anything else in this world, she was no longer transfixed in the middle of the air, but instead pulled along the claw and poured her last energy into her right fist, manipulating the world again, it became the surface of the sun, and she slammed it into Aaroniero's face. He tried to get his Hierro up in time, the ultimate Arrrancar defence that stood almost anything, but he had never been good at manipulate Amber, as he had shown in this fight. All he managed to do, was stop the raging Hybrid for a single second, before the fist burned through his face and exited out of his skull. Immediately the Reaper disappeared and Morrigan threw the smoking corpse off of her hand, and allowed herself to land softly on the cold desert sand.
"That, was for Axel..." coughed Morrigan. While using her Vaking hadn't really been straining as she had manipulated the world around them a lot, it had taken an effort to break through her opponents Amber defences and he had managed to drain her of a lot of her mental and physical strength. This resulted in Morrigan, after winning the first decisive victory of the war, to fall unconscious and returning back to the planet, she had been on before, a sad smile on her face.
Claudia regained her senses, and walked back to where her sister had been fighting the Espada. Only seconds later Morrigan's injured body returned to Earth-Plane. Claudia kneeled down next to her and brushed her hair aside. She even used her Amber powers to begin heal the damaged she had caused, when a voice interrupted her.
"Step away from her."
She whirled around to see the masked face of Anthony looking down at her.
"I do not wish to kill a comrade. Aaroniero might have been a fool, but I can not condone that he was killed. I can forgive your treason, if you step away from her. One way or another there will be a corpse."
His voice was soft as always and it sounded empty, devoid of emotion. But Claudia, as the only person besides Kira, was able to sense more behind the act he put up. Straightening her cloths, she stood up and blocked his way.
"If you want a corpse, take mine. Tell them I killed Aaroniero, everyone knows we hated each other." said Claudia defiant. Fully knowing whom she was opposing by this.
"You would die for her? Just like that. She is only your half-sister after all."
"Why do you care? Besides, she is so much more. She is the one person of all whom I bet ever since I ran away who has offered me an actual future. A family. A home. And she reminded me what the true mark of the Sigurdsons is. Not the name. Names mean little. The true mark of the Sigurdsons is to have the guts to never give up."
"I see..." said Anthony slowly. "While I know this will pain Kira more than I have her already, I will grant your request. Please do deliver your last words onto them, I will make sure, she remembers." sighed Anthony pointing with his staff at Morrigan.
"Thanks." said Claudia and bowed, before turning around to address Morrigan a last time.
"Hey Morri. I know that this isn't the correct way to part. But I wanted to tell you thank you! For believing in me, for trusting me and for reminding me of whom I truly am. Besides all I said, you are the one true Sigurdson left in existence. Kira might not like it, but you inherited all the positives things our family is known for. Tenacity, loyalty, strength of character, wit, courage and so much more. I wanted to say I am sorry for being the worst sister in planar history, that I wasn't there when you needed me, that I tormented you when we met. And please tell Kira too, I am so sorry for leaving her alone as well and that I never was the sister she had hoped for."
While Claudia had been somewhat collected at the beginning the last few words were covered in sobs again, and a single tear splashed onto Morrigan's face. Anthony had been silent this whole time. And watched her back, waiting for her to finish.
"Thanks again." sniffled Claudia at Anthony before continuing, "I am ready now."
The former Segunda Espada, nodded and took a step forward. "Do not worry. It will not hurt."
Anthony lay down Claudia's corpse next to her sister. A single punctuation wound in her chest, beneath her folded arms, her eyes closed. From a distance she might have appeared to be asleep. It was starting to rain, and with no one around to watch, he took off his mask and for the first time in a long, long time he felt rain touch his skin and was reminded of the war he had waged on this plane centuries ago.
"I am sorry Kira. I never meant to cause you all this harm, but it is as if you attract it. If at all possible I would have hoped you could settle down, but it seems that will not be the case. Now I have robbed you off your long lost sister again, and my comrade robbed you off your other sister. Once this is all over...I will ask you for forgiveness. Not expecting to receive such absolution, but it is the only course of action left...for both of us."
A few minutes after he left, Morri's eyes opened and she shot up to her feet, looking around in a panic for a few brief seconds. "I killed him." She said, staring straight ahead of her. "I killed him, Axel. I got him." She closed her eyes and looked around. She froze when she saw who was lying next to her. For a long moment, she stared and Claudia's body, then, the memory kicked in. Claudia's final words to her played through her mind, and tears started to flow openly from Morri's eyes. After several moments, she knelt down and began to cradle her. "You were one of us at the end, sister." She whispered, once her voice returned to her.
"Morri!" A voice said from behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw Jace running over, limping, his armor splattered with blood. "We're all that's left, we have to get out of here."
"Ok." Morri said, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "I'm taking her home." She said and picked up Claudia. She couldn't see Jace's face behind his visor, but his silence told her that he understood. Morri blinked and opened a portal back to Earth, and the walked through, leaving behind the carnage that had been the first true conflict of the war. Morri stopped walking and sank to her knees, still cradling Claudia. She couldn't keep moving. She just couldn't find the reserves within to keep pressing on. She felt Jace's hand on her shoulder, but she ignored him completely.
A group of people could be seen emerging from nearby buildings and they began to walk towards her. She heard a voice and soon someone was locked in a tight embrace with Jace. She figured it was Kata. People asked questions, but none of their voices reached her ears. It was like she was deaf to everything in the world. Then, something pierced the veil that had blocked her hearing. It was a wordless, guttural, agonized scream. Morri looked over and saw Kira had fallen to her knees two feet to her left. Kira put her forehead on Claudia's lap and silence reigned. Morri carefully let Kira cradle her sister, and all she could do was watch as Kira held her and sobbed.
"Kira..." Morri whispered. "She wanted you to know something." Kira looked at Morri and blinked the tears away. "She said...she was sorry for leaving you alone, and sorry for not being the sister you had hoped for." Kira was silent for a long moment, staring up into Morri's eyes. She realized at the same time Morri had, that Claudia had likely given her life for Morri. Then she put her forehead on the top of Claudia's head and began mouthing something. She repeated the same phrase over and over again.
You were. I forgive you. You were.
Morri slowly rose to her feet and noticed that Camus and the Captain known as Emily were approaching, flanked by Korra and a few dozen of the court guard squads' soldiers. "Captain Syrio Renti is dead." She said. "As is everyone who went, short of myself and Jace." She said, her voice steely and monotonous. She heard Kata let out a small noise of shock, likely at the news of Axel's death.
"A being known as the Decima Espada, Aaroniero, was there. He killed my husband, Axel, so I unleashed my Vakning and killed him. The next time I fight, it will be without reserve." She said and glanced at Kata, who was staring at her with shining eyes. "We will kill them all."
"Who is that?" A voice from the crowd of squad members said. Morri knew instinctively that they were speaking of Claudia. "Her name was Claudia Sigurdson."
"A servant of Aizen!" Someone said. Morri seemed to lose all control of her body at that moment. It was like she was watching herself move as she lunged for the one who said it and elbowed them across the face, opening a large cut on their nose. She struck him again and tossed him to the ground.
"She was our sister." Morri snarled, pointing at Kira, who hadn't moved nor noticed what had just happened. She noticed the one she had struck reach for his sword, but, too fast for the eye to see, Camus was next to him, hand on his own blade.
"Enough." Camus said to the squad member, who yelped and jumped away. Camus turned to look at Morri and Kira. "I will arrange for a burial, you have my deepest condolences." he said, bowing to Morri and Kira. Morri nodded, and she knelt down next to Kira. She slowly convinced Kira to let Claudia be taken for a casket, and when Kira finally relinquished hold on her sister, Korra was at her side and holding her in a tight embrace. The crowd slowly dispersed, until only Camus and Emily remained in the small clearing.
"We will need someone to take command of Syrio's squad." Emily said. "Due to a lack of likely candidates, it is quite likely you will be asked."
"Tell them I accept, if they decide I should." Camus said. She nodded and left, leaving the soon to be Captain to ponder what was to come.
Kira stood in her house, staring out the window, leaning on the sill. She hadn't said a word since they'd taken Claudia's body away to be prepared for her burial. She felt someone appear in the air behind her, and knew who it was immediately. "Hello again." She said, her voice sounding more raspy than usual due to her sobs and screams.
"Again, you aren't going to call anyone?" Anthony said. "I am your enemy, after all."
"I think that if you were here to kill me, you would have done so." She said.
"Such a gloomy outlook."
"Am I wrong?"
"No, actually." He replied. "You are not."
"Then why are you here?"
"Would you believe me if I said I was sorry for your loss?"
"I few days ago, I would have said no." She said. "Now, I'm not sure."
"She was also my loss."
"Oh, and what was she to you?"
"I don't think that makes me feel any better."
"Never said it would." he said.
"Forgive me, but I rather doubt you're here to just offer your condolences."
"What other reason would I have?" Anthony asked.
"Who knows, with you?" She asked, walking across the room to a chair and sitting down.
"Maybe I know more about your family than you do." He said.
"Tell me, then." She said, looking up at him.
"It would be too early, and would do your sister an injustice."
"What injustice would it be to tell her family?" Kira asked.
"You will understand in time."
"A lack of overall information and communication has done my family enough harm, Anthony." She sighed.
"No, that was me." he said, more quietly than normal.
"Excuse me?" She snapped.
"I killed your sister. I killed Claudia." he said. "Or rather, she gave her life so Morrigan could live on." Kira was silent. "But you knew that, didn't you?"
"That...that sounds like her." She said, her voice trembling.
"It was an honorable and merciful death." He said.
"That is no comfort." She snapped.
"It is the only comfort death can offer."
"Death has no meaning, usually. Honorable sacrifice is the exception that rule."
"No, why did you do it?" She said.
"There was no other choice."
"There is always a choice." She snarled.
"No, not here." He sighed.
"What was the reason for your lack of a choice then?" She said, anger starting to consume her voice.
"We are all just pawns of a larger game." He said, she she shook her head.
"I can see this is going to go nowhere." She said, getting up and walking to the other side of the room. "I cannot kill you on my own, so I will not even attempt it. Instead, I will ask you one question. Has my family not sacrificed and suffered enough?"
"That is not for me to judge." He replied.
"You truly want to hurt me, don't you?" She asked, running her hands over her face.
"Contrary to what you may see, I do not."
"I don't believe you. I think you've actually transcended trying to hurt me and want to hurt Morri as well." Kira said.
"I do not wish to cause harm. But at times there is no other way."
"Why did you come here then?" She asked, her voice rising in volume. "All this has done is hurt me. And when you leave and go back out there you'll keep hurting everyone I care about."
"Call it easing my conscience." Anthony said.
"I'm going to battle soon." She said, turning away and fitting a pair of combat gloves on. "If you've anything more to say, the say it. I have to go out and make sure my family doesn't suffer any more."
"You may die out there. Would that not mean suffering for them as well?"
"I have to try. Morri is staying here, and I will not let Korra go out there alone. Unless Claudia started her own family, they are all I have left and I will fight to defend them."
"But your death would just pain them more."
"I guess I just have to not die."
"You sister said the same before she went out to battle."
"You mean before you killed her?" Kira snapped, the air around Anthony turning severely cold.
"No, before she fought your sister."
"She wouldn't have died if you had not been there." Kira said.
"In that case, Morrigan would have been killed."
"No, if you had not intervened they both would have come home."
"You think I was alone?" Anthony asked.
"Oh? And who else do I need to kill before this war is over?"
"You are as able to kill him as you are able to kill me." Anthony said.
"The name." She snapped.
"Madara." Anthony said, and Kira raised one hand. A pebble floated across the room, and it began to scratch the name into one of the walls. "That is pointless."
"What do you care?" She said. "Your name is on the floor in the basement."
"I do not wish for him to harm you." Anthony said.
"Saving me for yourself, then?"
"I do not wish to kill you, either."
"Kill me? I didn't think you did. Torture me? You have been for years."
"Never have I done so on purpose."
"You can't have thought what you did would not hurt me."
"Never were my actions my choices." He sighed.
"Enough of your excuses." She said, walking up to him and getting his face. "If you truly don't want to hurt me, then you'll stop coming into my house."
"That is your right." He said, nodding. "I am simply a humble guest. There is someone I need to visit, anyway." And with that, he disappeared. Kira kept her composure for a few moments, then she sank to the floor, overwhelmed.
Camus sat in the Captain's Quarters previously occupied by Syrio Renti. After the death of his old master, it had only taken until the end of the day for Camus to be appointed his temporary replacement. The new captain stared into the fireplace, contemplating the situation and thinking of possibly strategies should he be faced with one of the more powerful members of Aizen's army. He felt something stir in the shadows of the room, and knew immediately who had come to visit him. "Fascinating."
"Such high praise." Anthony said. Camus rose from his chair and faced the former Espada. While any of the others who had faced Anthony would have felt fear and terror staring down the man, Camus only saw a person, a person he could kill.
"And to what do I owe the surprise of your visit?"
"Believe it or not, I am here to talk to you."
"Please, have a seat then." Camus said and returned to his armchair.
"Thank you." Anthony said and sat down, cross-legged on the floor. "I am here to warn you."
"There is another chair, you know." Camus said. "And what of?"
"I prefer this way. Your opponents will make their move soon. This time you will have casualties. You need more allies."
"Which opponents do you speak of? I have many of a variety of natures." Camus said.
"All and none."
"I am limited in what I can divulge."
"And why did you come to me with this information?"
"You mistake me for an enemy."
"Are you not?" Camus asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I am no ally of Aizen's nor am I of you." Anthony said.
"An interesting view, considering you have killed my ally's family." Camus said, and Anthony realized that, somehow, in the ten seconds it had taken him to approach Camus, the captain had learned of his conversation with Kira in complete detail.
"There are things on the move, Camus Mharen, that you are too blind to see. Bigger concerns. I only fulfilled my duty."
"I see more than you may consider possible, Anthony Richter." Camus replied, and then, a strange feeling swept over the room. It was alien, even to Anthony. It was something completely unknown, save that it came from Camus.
"You do not see what moves in the shadows. What has manipulated you, your order...what even the Silent King has been fooled by."
"You forget, I am the shadows."
"That makes it all the more ironic."
"This still raises the question, why did you come to me, specifically?"
"It is easiest passing this message to you. I have no personal relation to you."
"And you do the other captains? Fascinating." Camus said.
"Then may I tell you the message, so we may part ways again?"
"Search the roots, reclaim what the shadows took. Find the one you lost, the one whom you have long forgotten." Anthony said. "Pass this message to Katalena Akulov."
"I will. Please expect her to tell everyone she knows."
"I care not." Anthony said.
"If I may be permitted a query, why her?"
"She will understand when she finds what she has been sent to seek." Anthony replied.
"Will I be seeing you upon the field of battle anytime soon?" Camus asked, as though he was asking about the weather.
"Perhaps." Anthony said.
"Perhaps indeed." Camus replied. "It would be a shame if I needed to kill you."
"Barring you could."
"Oh, I could. I have seen and faced and killed far worse than you or anything within Aizen's army. The others may fear you, but I know better." Camus said.
"The others fear me?" Anthony asked, sounding surprised.
"Does this surprise you?"
"It puzzles me."
"If something as rudimentary as that is perplexing to you than you are less dangerous than I previously thought." Camus said.
"No, it is simply something puzzling that someone as puny as myself can cause fear."
"They will learn." Camus said. "The smallest of things can cast the largest of shadows."
"Indeed." Anthony said. There was a knock on the door of the Captain's Quarters.
"It would appear our time together has ended." Camus said, standing.
"Very good." Anthony said and vanished. Camus hid the alien feeling he had been projecting and went to answer the door. It was his lieutenant, Alaric.
"Was something wrong?" Alaric asked. "I could sense...you were letting it slip."
"The enemy will make the next move, my friend." Camus said. "Have everyone put on notice. And...fetch me Katalena Akulov." Alaric nodded and left. It wasn't long before the Hybrid entered his quarters, looking impatient. "I apologize, for having to call you during such a trying hour." Camus said, rising from his armchair.
"It's war." Katalena replied. "We'll mourn when we've torn apart all of those responsible."
"It is on that topic that I wish to converse with you." Camus said. "Would you like a seat?"
"No, I prefer to stand."
"Very well." Camus said. "Do you remember the one who we did battle with?"
"How could I forget?"
"Well, believe it or not, he appeared in this room to talk to me." Camus said. Katalena raised her eyebrows. "He did not have any ill intent, strangely, and rather left a message that I am to pass on to you."
"Alright then." Katalena said, crossing her arms.
"Search the roots, reclaim what the shadows took. Find the one you lost, the one whom you have long forgotten." Camus said.
"Am I supposed to understand that?" Katalena asked.
"I doubt it. I know I did not." Camus replied.
"Also, have your people on their guard." Camus said. "The enemy will make the first move this time, and it will be in greater strength and numbers."
"That I understand. You need not worry, the next time they attack us, the full power of the Hybrid race will be unleashed upon them." Katalena said and swept from the room.
It was evening. Those who were not still reeling from Morri's return and the related news were trying to either prepare themselves or to keep calm and avoid panicking. Among the latter group were Keryn and Rachel, who were out having dinner in one of the eating areas of Rachel's barracks. Rachel had ordered a meal for them that was native to Harton, and Keryn quickly realized that her new partner was a vegetarian. "You know, I think you're the first vegetarian I've met."
"Really? That's strange."
"Yeah. On Kaven we've all got to eat a certain amount of everything." Keryn said.
"You people are interesting." Rachel chuckled as Keryn poked a green vegetable she could not identify to save her life.
"You know, I don't think this even grows here." Keryn said.
"Nope. It only grows on Harton. Thought I'd treat you to something tonight." Rachel said. At that, Keryn promptly ate it. She tilted her head to the side, as though she were contemplating it.
"Well, it's ten times better than anything we got here." She said.
"I'm glad you're enjoying it." Rachel said, looking relieved. Keryn smiled, but couldn't help but come across as slightly distracted. "You alright?" Rachel asked.
"You know about what happened today?" Keryn asked.
"Yes. It's been a sad day for us all." Rachel said, somber.
"I just can't shake the feeling that the enemy is gonna follow up on that real soon. With bigger numbers and more powerful people." Keryn said.
"I promise, I won't let anything happen to you." Rachel said.
"I know you won't." Keryn said, smiling. "And I refuse to let anything come close to you. I'm just worried about the non-us folk."
"You are the most caring person I know, Keryn." Rachel said, taking her hand. "But they'll be fine. We'll be ready for them, and we'll win."
"Still getting used to feeling scared." Keryn said, squeezing her hand. "It's a new thing for me."
"It's a good thing. It'll keep you alive."
"Good, cause now I have a good reason to stay that way." Keryn said.
"I love you too." Rachel grinned. Keryn's smile widened and she quickly blinked away some tears of happiness that were getting in her way.
"Ok." Keryn said, shaking her head slightly. Her head felt lighter since she'd gotten her hair cut. She'd actually had Aednat Callaghan do it with a combat knife. "Let's finish eating, because I have a different course coming." Keryn said, scarfing what was left of her meal down. "Or, I will, anyway."
"Oh?" Rachel asked, smirking. "I think I'll enjoy this evening even more than I'd thought."
"Is there anyone around?" Keryn asked once she'd finished eating.
"Not really, no."
"Good thing this table has one of those super long tablecloths." Keryn quipped.
"What are you planning?" Rachel asked, to which all she received was a devilish smirk as Keryn began to finish off a wine glass. Rachel matched her drinking and waited. Keryn looked around one final time before vanishing under the table. "Okay, what are you doing?"
"Main course." Keryn's muffled voice said.
"What does that-oh!" Rachel exclaimed.
"You wanted to see me?" Alaric said, entering Camus' chambers. The captain was looking out a window and looking over all of the barracks.
"Yes. We should discuss our plans if the worst should happen?"
"If I die and leave you all alone?" Alaric quipped.
"If you die and I have to lead?"
"No, you know what I speak of."
"Yes, I do." Alaric sighed. "If one of us should use it."
"Yes." Camus sighed. "I fear that possibility may well arise. It is not something I wish to happen, but it may. If I should use it and you should not, then you should take command and deny all knowledge, saying I forbade you to even question my abilities."
"And if I should use it, make it look good when you try to kill me." Alaric said. "I know. But what if we both use it?"
"Then we are most likely doomed either way, and it would not matter." Camus said. "I do not know if our battles shall be the ones to happen next, but be prepared if they are. Use your powers only as much as you need to, our secrecy remains of the highest importance."
"I know. You tell me very often." Alaric reminded him.
"Go sleep. And if your fight should happen before we speak again, then I wish you luck."
"I don't need luck. I have this." Alaric said and patted the pommel of Kusari. "She's a clever girl, she'll help me out."
"I know. Accept the sentiment, at least."
"Thank you. And to you as well." Alaric said.
"Well, I do have him." Camus said and ran a hand along the hilt of Chiya.
"Stop stealing jokes, Cap." Alaric said, sighing. Camus shrugged.
"Thank you anyway. Now get some rest, I believe it will be a long day tomorrow."
"The longest." Alaric agreed and left.
"Hey, how is she?" Jace asked as Kata returned to their room. She rubbed her eyes and sat down on the foot of their bed.
"Not good." She said after a moment. "It's...it's a mix of blood rage and depression. If I'm right...as long as she has someone to fight against, she'll be alright. When this dies down, we're gonna need to take care of her."
"And we will. We all will." Jace said, moving over to her and wrapping an arm around her. "We're gonna get through this, we're gonna make sure that we all come home again."
"We'll kill them all." Kata said, quite serenely, as she put her head on his shoulder. "Full power if we have to."
"I think we'll have to."
"Good. They deserve to get hit by it."
"Yes, yes they do." Jace agreed, stroking her hair. She'd recently used her powers to forcibly turn the blonde hair back to dark. "Just come back, ok?"
"I will." Kata said, looking up at him. "I'm not done in this life yet. The realm of existence still needs me."
"Now you're getting cryptic on me."
"I don't even understand it, myself." Kata said.
"Why do you think he left a message for you?"
"Probably because all of these people seem to have a thing for me." Kata grumbled. Jace chuckled. "I'm gonna meditate for a few, get some sleep, love." She said, leaned up, kissed him once and moved over to the floor to sit cross-legged. Within thirty seconds, she was floating a meter in the air, looking as calm as could be.
Meanwhile, in the graveyard that had been established just on the outskirts of their base, Kira was kneeling before a grave. It was raining, but she didn't really care. She stared at the name on it. Claudia Sigurdson. It had been decades since she had seen her sister, and when they had last seen one another, Claudia had all but disowned her. But still, even then, whenever Kira thought of Claudia, she always had known that she would have taken Claudia back in a heartbeat. She would have done exactly as Morri had. Tears would have come to her eyes were it not for the fact that all the tears she had to give were gone already.
The rain stopped. No, it froze around her, suspended in midair. She looked up and saw the raindrops were floating away, creating a sphere of air around her. "You didn't need to come looking for me." Kira said.
"Yeah, I did." Korra replied and crouched down next to her. "Love, if we're fighting soon, we need to go rest. I know, believe me, I know, but..."
"Ok." Kira said, nodding. "I just...needed to be here for a few."
"Yeah. I know." Korra said. She leaned over and put something at the base of the grave. When she moved back, it was a small plant. Not quite a flower, but it was a plant. At first, Kira was surprised to see that it wasn't even potted, but then, as Korra stepped back, she knew why Korra had removed the pot entirely.
"I'll be home in a few." Kira said. "Thank you." Korra nodded and left. Kira put a hand over the plant and let her powers over the earth and the ground work. In two minutes, a small tree had grown. She stopped when it was as tall as Claudia had been, only slightly shorter than her. "I'll come back and I'll take care of this for you." She said. "Goodbye, Claud." And with that, she turned and started walking home.
Viv and Mason started walking. They'd been sent on a scouting mission to see if they could build a small base to attempt to outmaneuver Aizen's army. They walked in silence, guessing that if one of the enemy were to appear, they would find out. They rounded a tree and froze. Twenty feet in front of them was a young woman, sitting cross-legged on the ground, playing with something out of sight. "So this is definitely gonna end terribly for us both, right?" Mason asked.
"Probably." Aednat replied, and the woman ignored them. "So, who are you?" She asked as they slowly made their way closer to her.
"Go away." the woman replied. "You are boring."
"And I thought this guy was immature." Aednat muttered. The woman continued to ignore her and played around with her toys again.
"I sense voodoo." Mason grumbled.
"I said go away." The woman said. Aednat sarcastically took one step backward, and the woman resumed her play. Mason peered over her shoulder and looked down. The two dolls resembled, quite terrifyingly, Ileana and Rhett. The woman looked up at him. "You are stupid."
"Oh that's disturbing." Mason muttered.
"I don't like you. Die." The woman said and touched his pants, causing him to explode. To her annoyance, Mason reformed ten feet away.
"Rude." Mason said.
"Excuse me, where did you get those?" Aednat asked.
"They were running around earlier."
"And what did you do to them?"
"Nothing. Now go away, I want to play." The woman said.
"Well, could you tell us what happened to those the toys look like, so we can find them and leave?" Aednat asked.
"No, I don't know. Now go away or I will blow you up for real." The woman said, sounding angry.
"No, you won't." Aednat said. The woman threw the Rhett doll at her and it exploded a foot before her face. Aednat remained unfazed as Mason brought a shield up to protect them both. "Told you." The sand below Aednat's feet began to explode beneath her. Aednat remained completely unmoved as Mason's shield became a bubble around them both, and the explosions did nothing to either of them. Mason quickly realized that the interior of the bubble was beginning to explode inwards, and he turned a hand over, flipping the bubble inside-out and causing it to explode outwardly. "Whatever did we do to you?" Aednat asked.
"You didn't leave, and you made me break one of my toys!" The woman exclaimed. Suddenly, Mason's head exploded, followed by the sand once again. Even without Mason's help, Aednat remained unharmed.
"He'll reform in a few minutes." Aednat said. "And we told you we'd go if you told us about those."
"And I don't know!" The woman shouted, tearing the arms off the Ileana doll and throwing them at her. Aednat flicked a wrist, and the woman realized she was using the same power that Mason had been. The exploding arms flew harmlessly away from Aednat.
"Then how'd you get them?"
"Well, they look like some of my allies, so I have difficulty believing that."
"I don't know. I don't care." In response, Aednat simply sat down behind the woman.
"Unless you could tell me who would know, then I can't do that."
"Anyone but me." She replied.
"You're the only one here." Aednat shot back.
"Fine, I can take you to someone who knows." The woman said. "Give me your hand." Aednat did nothing. "I need to draw you a map."
"Why do I feel like this is going to end very badly for me?"
"It won't. I'm nice." The woman said.
"You threw explosives at my head." Aednat pointed out.
"You didn't go away."
Aednat stood up and whistled, Mason appeared. "You been listening?" He nodded. "You do it, I can fight better if it goes downhill." Mason nodded and sat down in front of the woman and held out his hand. Aednat ran a hand over her temple, and red tendrils, the same as what happened when Kata modified a person's mind, entered her head. The woman drew an incredibly detailed map of the world in a single second.
"Now, the pretty girl has to carry me, or I won't show you." The woman said. Aednat held a hand out and she began to float. "I said carry, not float." Aednat sighed and sent some of the red tendrils into Mason's head. Aednat cursed and let the woman climb onto her back.
"Now, we have to go four hundred and sixty-nine meters to the north of here." The woman said, and they began walking, Mason taking up the rear. "Not pretty one, you are falling behind."
"Trust me, I know." Mason said.
"Has he always been so mean to girls?" The woman whispered to Aednat.
"No." Aednat sighed.
"You really are pretty." The woman cooed and stroked Aednat's face. Aednat was transformed into a toy and the woman began walking. Mason was oblivious, it was as though Aednat had never existed. In fact, all memory of her in his mind had vanished completely. "Be quiet and still." She whispered to the toy.
"Keep moving please." Mason said.
"But I want to play with my toy!" The woman objected.
"You can do that later." Mason sighed.
"Ok, carry me." the woman commanded. Mason groaned and did so, but the woman couldn't help noticing there was some kind of barrier in between her and his body, even as he lifted her up. It was a strange red energy that he seemed to be completely ignorant of.
"Want to hold my toy?" She asked.
"No thank you." He said, glancing at it. "It looks familiar, though."
"I like to play with toys." She said and licked it once. "They are much funnier than people."
"Good to know."
"Why are you so mean?" She asked, and he was silent. She put the doll away. "Say, mister. Why am I not allowed to touch you? Do you think girls are yucky?"
"I'm touching you now." Mason said.
"But you have a barrier between us."
"What barrier?" He asked, sounding confused.
"I can't touch you because there is a barrier on your skin." She said. "I thought I was pretty, but if you react like that..." She said and began to cry.
"I really don't know what you're on about." Mason said.
"Have you no heart?" She asked, putting a hand on the barrier on his chest and forcing it to explode harmlessly, ridding herself of it.
"There's a woman crying in your arms and you say nothing?" The woman said.
"Sorry, I'm just confused by the lack of having any idea as to what in the blue monkey fuck you're on about." Mason said.
"Oh, you are an idiot." She said and stroked his neck. "Be rigid and do my will." She added, turning him into one of her dolls. "Oh how boring. That was no fun." She said.
"Battle never is, Jana." A voice said. She looked over and saw Anthony.
"What do you want?" She asked.
"Nothing. I was looking to see if Katalena Akulov had heeded my words." He said and disappeared.
Kata and Jace sat on a bench just outside of the base, where they stared at the sunset. "This one's a bit more intense than the last few." Kata said. She was the master of understatement, but Jace nodded. "Considering all that has happened...you know we could well be dead tomorrow, right?"
"We'll make it." Jace said, looking down at her. "Those of us that are left, we'll make it through this."
"I'm just scared for Morri." Kata said. "She's gone into the hole really, really far. Only thing keeping her on her feet is the idea of being able to murder the enemy. We make it through this we'll need to take good care of her."
"She can stay with us if she needs to." Jace said. "I've a feeling she won't want to stay in her house."
"I wouldn't, if it had been you." Kata said, resting her head on his shoulder. "We're gonna make it. You're right."
"Of course I am." Jace said. "There's only five of us left, we'll take care of each other."
"Five?" Kata asked, sitting up, a surprised look on her face.
"Yeah, you me, Viv, Quinn, and Morri."
"What about Rhett, Aednat, Mason, and Ileana?" Kata asked. Jace looked confused.
"Who?" He asked. Kata tilted her head to the side, and was about to respond, when she looked past Jace's shoulder and froze. She gestured with her head, her eyes flashing red. Jace looked over and rose to his feet. While he had never faced him, he knew for a fact that this was the Anthony that had nearly robbed Kata of her life, and he was standing before them, staff in hand.
"And why are you here?" Kata asked, standing. She flicked a wrist behind her back, and a tiny red tendril of power entered Jace's back.
"I should ask you the same."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Kata snapped.
"Has the captain not relayed my message?" Anthony asked.
"Doesn't mean I understood it." Kata said.
"Then I will show you." Anthony sighed and waved his staff. The reality around Kata began to swirl until she was no longer there. "Now to dispatch you..." He added to Jace. The Hybrid soared into the sky, firing a dozen exploding crystals down at Anthony. "Is that it?" Anthony asked, becoming intangible so the crystals passed harmlessly through him.
"What did you do to her?" Jace snarled.
"I sent her away."
"You need not know, for I will be ending your life now." Anthony said.
"No you won't." Jace said. Then, suddenly, the torso of his armor was engulfed in a black fire.
"It saddens me to take yet another life." Anthony said as Jace ejected the torso from him completely.
"Then let me kill you, end your suffering." Jace said as he rained more Crystals at Anthony.
"You have no hope of killing me, cross-breed." Anthony said. Then, to the surprise of both, Jace was surrounded by a strange energy field that matched the color of Kata's powers. "Someone has a hidden trick up your sleeve."
"Guess so." Jace said and opened fire. It wasn't long before Anthony appeared behind him and knocked him from the sky. Jace landed and fired again. Anthony raised a hand and set Jace's torso and limbs ablaze. The energy field removed all the armor that was on fire, as well as, to Anthony's surprise, removing the flaming skin of Jace and replacing it at the same time, leaving Jace perfectly healed.
"Now this won't do." Anthony said. He vanished and reappeared behind jace, his staff ripping the field off of Jace. "Never show your hand if the enemy has not shown their own." Then, the red field began to infect Anthony's staff. It seemed for a moment like it was going to explode.
"Get. Away. From. Him." Kata's voice said. Jace quickly realized what had happened. She had embedded a source of power within him, effectively creating a clone of her consciousness to defend him. She may not know what was happening, but she had afforded him protection. Anthony struggled with the staff for a moment, but then the glow began to dim and Kata's voice vanished.
"Like I said, be careful when opposing me." Anthony said and fired a burst of red energy from his staff towards Jace. Jace rolled to the side, avoiding it, and straight into a second burst. Anthony's hand, in an instant, was at his throat. "How does it feel to be hit by the power of your own love?" Anthony asked. Jace pressed his palm to Anthony's temple and fired a crystal, which passed through harmlessly. "You foolish, crude creature. Will you ever learn this is futile?" Anthony looked down at the burned and bleeding wound in Jaces stomach from the burst of chaos magic. "I hate to let beings suffer, so I will put you down now." And Anthony raised his staff and began to swing down.
The staff connected, but not with Jace. It landed on a sword that had appeared out of nowhere. A black clad warrior had appeared, saving Jace. "You will not take another life." The man said. Anthony dropped Jace, who began to roll away.
"A rare sight, to see someone of the Royal Guard, Lord Captain Byakuya." Anthony said.
"Step away, Hybrid. You should not be a part of this." The one known was Byakuya said. Jace met his eyes for a moment and knew that this man was on his side. Jace nodded and began to half-stumble, half run away. As he ran, he heard the warrior say two words. "Scatter, Senbonzakura."
Anthony became intangible and avoided the attack, firing his Amaterasu at Byakuya. "Such meek attacks will not harm me." Byakuya said, calling the thousands of tiny blades before him, batting the flames away. The pink swirl around the Lord Captain resembled a swirl of cherry blossoms.
"You underestimate me. I was just gauging your reaction time." Anthony said and thrust his staff forward, shooting an invisible pillar of force at his opponent. Byakuya appeared behind him and slashed at him again, the swirl of pink blades surrounding Anthony. "Seems you haven't let up, Lord Captain." Anthony said and vanished for a moment, reappearing thirty feet away.
"You will fall today. It has been too long." Byakuya said.
"If you could kill me you'd have done so millennia ago when we last clashed." Anthony shot back. They two returned to the ground and squared off. "I believe we may as well get serious now, Lord Captain."
"You arrogance blinds you, Anthony." Byakuya huffed. Anthony said nothing in response, and simply closed his eyes. Then, a ribcage began to form around him, forming a shield of sorts. Byakuya raised the hilt of his blade and sent his swarm of swords upon Anthony. The ribcage blocked them all, and Anthony opened his eyes. Two arms appeared along with the ribcage, and they swatted aside the Lord Captain's Senbonzakura like it was nothing. Then, one of the arms slammed down and punched towards Byakuya.
Impact, but not the sort Anthony had been expecting. Byakuya had simply raised a hand and blocked it, holding the fist of his enemy three feet from him. Anthony reared back. "I may not be able to hit you like this, Anthony, but make no mistake, your Susanoo has no hope of saving you this day." Byakuya said. He held out his hilt and his blade reformed into a Katana. He reversed his grip so the blade was facing straight down. He dropped it, and the blade vanished into the ground, which began to ripple with energy, as though it were made of water.
"Bankai." Byakuya said. "Senbonzakura Kageyoshi." Two rows of massive katana blades rose from the ground and flanked Byakuya. "Scatter." He said, and all of the blades exploded into a pink wind, hundreds of millions of small blades appearing. Byakuya stood there, and the blades swarmed upon Anthony. The Susanoo offered no protection, and the blades slammed into it and throug it, engulfing Anthony. Anthony knew that if her were to survive the attack, he would have to release the Susanoo. He did so, returning to his smaller form, and he began to dart around with blinding speed, avoiding the swarm of blades Byakuya rained upon him.
It was not long before the blades had Anthony surrounded. Anthony sighed and looked at Byakuya, his eyes taking a new form. Suddenly, it seemed as though a hundred of Anthony were descending upon Byakuya. Byakuya raised a hand, and the swarm of blades cut through the illusions, moving twice as fast as before, but more and more illusions of Anthony appeared, and it became impossible to tell where he was. "Very well." Byakuya said. "Senkei, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi."
The swarm of swords began to form a column of circular, glowing pink blades around the two, and all of the false Anthony vanished. "In this state, my blades will always find their target, so no illusion can harm me." Byakuya said. One of the blades was summoned to his hand, and he jumped at Anthony, slashing with blinding speed. Anthony blocked with his staff, but the Lord Captain's attack was unrelenting. Soon, Anthony felt the blade stab through his shoulder. He swung with his staff, but Byakuya was already gone. Byakuya struck again, this time leaving a bloody gash across Anthony's back, and then he impaled him through the side, before vanishing from sight again.
He reappeared in front of Anthony and attacked. Anthony raised his staff and blocked. Their weapons clashed, and Byakuya struck upwards on teh staff, knocking at aside, and slashed once more. Anthony's right arm soared into the sky, leaving a bloody trail behind it. "Seems...like you've improved." Anthony said. Byakuya was silent. "Very well, you'll get to see my full Susanoo.' Anthony said. Within seconds, a three kilometer tall samurai of energy had surrounded Anthony.
"Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, Shukei Hakuteiken." Byakuya said. The column of blades vanished, and were replaced by white wings behind Byakuya, as well as a white halo above his head, all made of pure amber energy. Byakuya flew up towards the Samurai, who swung his massive sword at the Lord Captain.
Jace felt the shockwave as he ran from the scene of the battle, and was launched off his feet. He looked back and saw a massive cloud of smoke where the battle had been taking place. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see the Captain Camus standing over him. "Come with me." Camus said and the two vanished.
When the cloud cleared, Anthony stood across from Byakuya, a massive slash across his chest. Byakuya, likewise, had a massive bloodied wound in the center of his stomach. Suddenly, Anthony's amber pressure shifted dramatically, and six black orbs appeared around him. One of them entered his body, and Anthony's wounds began to heal. Byakuya's eyes widened in disbelief. "You...possess it?"
"Yes. I didn't think I would need to use it, but your Senbonzakura is devious." Anthony said as his arm grew back. "Usually I would simply use the Art of Living Creation, but your blade destroys the amber centers in the body...making it all but impossible to heal yourself with it. A single one of your blades does that, and I was struck by no fewer than a thousand." Anthony said as his wounds fully healed. "But now, Byakuya, Lord Captain of the Royal Guard, Squad Zero, let me end you." Anthony said. One of the black spheres sprang forward and struck Byakuya in the chest. He soared backwards and struck a pillar in the center of the Harton-Kaven base, where he was embedded in a crater, blood pouring from all his wounds.
"I did not think I would have to fight someone so strong as you, Lord Captain." Anthony said. "But this is over, I did not come here to battle you, I came here to do what is needed to be done." And he vanished.
At the pillar Byakuya was embedded in, his eyes fluttered open for the briefest of moments, and he saw, to his shock, a lone man standing before him. It's one of them. Byakuya thought as he drifted into unconsciousness.
Two days had passed since Lord Captain Byakuya had been found by Alaric. He was being treated for his numerous wounds. The base was on red alert, and everyone was on standby to fight at any given time. At that particular moment, Clara was sitting cross-legged on a tree-stump, meditating. She had never been particularly good at it, so she was easily distracted. She heard footsteps nearby and her eyes opened. She saw, to her surprise, Amy and Konstantin walking together. "You guys make a good couple." She said.
"Thanks, I try." Amy said, to which Konstantin rolled his eyes.
"When'd you get here, Kon?" Clara asked.
"Today." He replied.
"It's a little late," Clara said, rising. "but thank you for saving us from Anthony, the first time we saw him."
"Someone had to keep Aizen's army at bay." Konstantin said. "You people seemed content to stay and relax here."
"Some of us were actually kept from leaving."
"I was joking." Konstantin said. Clara promptly looked at Amy, raising her eyebrows.
"Don't look at me."
"Well, sweetie, we may need to get you some practice and telling jokes." Clara said.
"What was that?" Amy asked, raising her own eyebrow. Konstantin gulped.
"If you think that's flirting you're more territorial than my son." Clara deadpanned.
"Don't upset her..." Konstantin said to Clara, and she could have sworn there was a hint of pleading in his voice.
"So what's the news of the day?" Clara said with a shrug.
"Not overly much. Impending doom, we're all going to die, the usual." Konstantin said.
"How's that pillar guy doing?" Clara asked.
"Byakuya. He is recuperating." Konstantin said.
"Has he woken up yet?"
"Has he said anything?" Clara asked.
"Not really. Not the most talkative of guys." Konstantin said.
"So, will you be running away again?" Clara said.
"I do not run." Konstantin said.
"I meant leaving us." Clara sighed.
"Wasn't my choice back then. Bit hard to transcend planes if your opponent has messed them up beforehand."
"Reminds me, you at all familiar with a blue haired guy working for Aizen?" Clara asked.
"Yeah, him. My daughter has a Vendetta for him now, and I think he feels the same way." Clara sighed.
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
"Indeed." Clara nodded. "So...how does this exclusive for you but not for her thing work?" Clara asked.
"Quite well." Konstantin replied.
"Perfectly." Amy said. Clara could only tilt her head to the side in bewilderment.
"Something the matter?" Konstantin asked.
"I just don't understand you people." Clara said. "And I raised Keryn."
"What does one have to do with the other?" Amy asked, confused.
"Oh, she's a strange one with relationships." Clara replied.
"Oh, we know." Amy said.
"Though to be fair I think this is the first real one she's been in." Clara said.
"Don't you mean with?" Konstantin joked, earning another look from Clara.
"We'll have to take you to a comedy show some time, honey." Clara sighed.
"Call him honey one more time..." Amy grumbled.
"There there." Clara said, patting her on the head. Konstantin tried to warn her, but Amy grabbed her hand and threw Clara up into the sky.
"No touching my hair." Amy grumbled as Clara floated back down, completely unharmed.
"She's a feisty one, I see."
"She is." Amy said.
"What would you do if I told you I wanted to talk to him alone for a moment?" Clara asked.
"Yeah, not happening." Amy said.
"Relax, I won't try to sleep with him. I respect you too much and he's not tall enough."
"Always the jab at my self esteem." Konstantin muttered.
"The moment you even touch him, I will know, and it will end with far worse than you being thrown into the sky." Amy said. Clara, in a sarcastic response, sat on her hands. Amy left.
"So what's up?"
"So where have you been?" Clara asked.
"Fighting Aizen's army."
"For years on end? I haven't seen you since our date on Erachus." Clara joked.
"Don't say that too loud. But yes, since then." Konstantin replied.
"Wow. And what do you have to say on our odds of winning?" Clara asked.
"We have to win." Konstantin said simply.
"Eh, fuck it." Clara grinned. "Never tell me the odds."
"What language. You changed." Konstantin said.
"It's been a...tumultuous time for me." Clara said. "The last several years have not been very good."
"Oh, I know. I watched." Konstantin said.
"Then you know why Amy has nothing to worry about leaving you alone with me." Clara sighed.
"Like she cares." Konstantin said. "The moment you touch me she'd probably just rape you for good measure."
"I'm almost tempted to poke you just to see." Clara said.
"Please don't. The last one is still learning to walk again."
"Who was that?"
"A now former captain."
"Lovely." Clara said and rose to her feet. "Promise to not beat up any of my family this time?"
"Did I ever?"
"Yes. Many times." Clara said.
"Doesn't count." Konstantin grumbled. At that moment, Keryn appeared out of thin air. "So this is your daughter."
"Voice of the gods, jesus." Keryn said.
"Yes, this is Keryn." Clara sighed.
"Just wanted to let you know I'm headed off base for a few hours." Keryn said to her mother.
"Without your better half?" Konstantin asked.
"Classified." Keryn replied simply.
"So you didn't tell her."
"Or it really is just classified." Keryn said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Well, be careful, if you're going out alone." Clara warned.
"Nah, you slipped out alone when she was sleeping. She told you to not go looking for a fight, but you couldn't sit still." Konstantin said. Keryn promptly grabbed his other shoulder and shook him slightly.
"No, seriously, she knows where I'm going and what I'm doing and why. You don't get to." Keryn said.
"Bakudo 9, Horin." Konstantin said, using a magic spell to bind Keryn in place. "You do not get to shake me."
"Yeah, not me, a certain red-haired captain." Konstantin replied. Keryn looked around for a moment.
"Oi, Al!" She shouted. The voice of Alaric Rhazien could be heard in the distance, and Keryn was freed. "Well, I gotta get going. Be sure to tell your wife to remove that stick she has lodged so firmly in her klunge."
"No...she'd pull it out and beat you to death with it." Konstantin said. "Also, Clara your foul mouth seems to have rubbed off on her."
"I'm so proud of her." Clara said.
"Love you too, mom." Keryn said and vanished.
"Your family is weird." Konstantin told her. Clara simply shrugged.
"I remember a different you. Might have made a better mother."
"That me made for a horrible one." Clara said.
"I meant the you I met years ago. The naive young jedi who was desperate for love."
"She died." Clara sighed.
"So it would seem."
"You don't need to remind me I turned to shit, you know." Clara said sadly.
"It is what I do. Though do not worry, that role will be passed to someone else soon." Konstantin said.
"Oh really?" Clara asked, and he noticed she was now wrapping her right hand.
"I wish I could tell you more. But I promised not to...and why are you fiddling with your hand?" He asked. She finished and revealed the wrapping had made a makeshift glove.
"What is the glove for?"
"In case you run your mouth again." Clara said. "Then I wouldn't be touching you."
"You think you could stop me from saying the truth?"
"No, but I'd feel better about it." Clara said.
"You are married. Punch him. You'd both enjoy it." He said. Clara sighed and sat down on the stump again, staring into the distance. "Did that hurt?" Konstantin said and noticed a cluster of shadows coiling next to him. "Captain Camus, been some time." On cue, Camus appeared.
"Come with me." he said.
"Guess something important is happening, for you to come see me." Konstantin said. "See you later, Erachi."
"No, nothing important, I just think it's safer for everyone if you are away from her." Camus replied.
"You think I meant a single word of what I said?" Konstantin said."
"Doesn't matter." Camus replied. "Besides, I've questions as is."
"When she goes against Aizen and loses her cool she will die. You know how he plays with mind games. I'm surprised you have not tried to provoke them."
"Have a little faith, Sicarius." Camus replied.
"Faith? Such a concept has no place in war, we both know that."
"Then you do not know these people as well as some may claim." Camus said, and a single tendril of shadow stroked Konstantin's robe. Then, the tendril pulled Konstantin into a shadow portal. "One day he will understand, Erachi. One day." Camus said and followed Konstantin.
Keryn was flying alone. She had just wanted to get away, she hadn't been sent on a mission or anything like that. She just needed to be alone. She came to a stop at the crater where the old base had been. She saw, to her amazement, the same, blue haired man, Grimmjow, sitting at the base of the crater. "Still here?" She called.
"No fun in hunting little runts."
"Welcome to the big leagues." Keryn shot back, landing behind him.
"You're nowhere near that."
"I dunno, that one kick you landed was pretty pathetic."
"It is hard to not squish ants when stepping on them." Grimmjow said. In response, Keryn simply went and sat down five feet to his left. He raised his left arm and pointed at her. "Be gone. Cero." He said and fired a beam of red light at her. The instant before impact, she vanished and reappeared to his right. Predicting this, he appeared to her right and kicked her away. She landed on her feet and grinned.
"Still didn't hurt."
"I wasn't trying." Grimmjow said and drew his sword.
"Now we're talking." Keryn said and called her soul blade to her. They lunged at one another and their blades clashed. Keryn felt his surprise that she was able to keep up with him and match his strength. She even guessed that she may have had a slight speed advantage. Their blades clashed a hundred times in seconds, neither really gaining any ground. A grin crossed Keryn's face. It had been far too long since someone had equaled her.
Grimmjow raised a hand and she saw him charge another Cero beam. She raised her own hand to fire her own beam in response, but at the last second, he switched the beam to a different hand and blasted her in the side. She went flying and landed at the bottom of the crater. "I'm impressed, you're more powerful than I thought." Grimmjow said. "I guess you really are worth crushing."
"Shame you won't, because I'm the one walking away from this alive, not you." Keryn shot back, her grin widening. Grimmjow responded by shooting another Cero at her, which Keryn countered with a beam of her own power, completely negating the Cero beam. Grimmjow teleported behind her and slashed down at her, which she caught on her sword and another furious exchange began. Grimmjow slipped a cut past her guard and caught her in the shoulder.
He appeared on the ground below and stabbed his sword into the ground. "That's a nice murderous look in your eyes, girl." He said. He cut his won finger on the blade and raised a hand towards her. "But that's not good enough, I know you can do better. This is the ultimate cero attack, one only an Espada can use." Grimmjow's hand began to glow blue as an orb of blue energy formed in his palm, and he fired it at her.
In the moment before the attack struck her, Keryn felt her power began to grow exponentially. It was as if she had matured into something a hundred times more powerful than her old self, and that everything around her was nothing more than an ant. The attack Grimmjow had sent her way suddenly meant nothing. Keryn closed her eyes, and when they opened, they were glowing white. The ultimate cero vanished into nothingness, and she was unharmed. Her sword had vanished.
"That all you got?" She asked, grinning. She held a hand out, and a thin blade made of pure energy was called to her hand. "You've helped me achieve my third state. Thanks, Espada." Grimmjow grinned widely, and a laugh of his own escaped his mouth.
"Sounds good to me." He said. "Now I can go all out as well." He put his fingers on his blade and ran them up the flat edge. "Now grind, Pantera!" He roared, releasing the power his blade. An explosion of energy escaped him and completely ran over Keryn, who had no reaction. He had white armor, his blue hair was a meter long, and his hands and feet were clawed, like a cat's.
"Good." Keryn said and lunged down at him. They clashed again, Grimmjow using his hands and feet as weapons. Keryn found that a lot of the attacks, when she blocked them, didn't really have much of an effect. She felt like she was becoming the god so many people thought she was. She waited for an opening and stabbed forward, slashing Grimmjow across the face. His right cheek began gushing blood, and she kicked him in the chest, sending him flying no fewer than a kilometer. She soared after him, but wound up eating a kick of Grimmjow's to the ribs. She was sent flying to a mountain and formed a crater when she landed. The espada pounced on her and began raining punches and kicks down at a speed that was blinding to even her. No less than forty passed her guard and connected with her.
He grabbed her and threw her. She landed with a crash back in the original crater. It was only then that her wounds seemed to be noticeable. Damn. That actually kinda hurts. She thought. Kinda funny.
"You're gonna die, Erachi!" Grimmjow said and soared down, throwing a punch. She looked up, reached out with one hand, and effortlessly caught the attack.
"No, I'm not." She said and slashed him once across the chest. He backed away, and he kept the attack up. "You look angry." She said as she effortlessly blocked an attack and kicked him in the leg. "What is it, Espada? You upset that a lowly Erachi is winning?" Grimmjow blocked an attack and soared into the air.
"It doesn't matter that you're Erachi, you could be Harton, Erachi, Hybrid, or even one of us!" He roared. "If you look down on me, you will die!" He soared even higher into the sky, and slashed down with his clawed hand. Five, giant claw like rays of blue power soared down towards Keryn. Even with her new power, her eyes widened. She caught them on her blade and was sent flying back down to Earth. "And I'm gonna crush you and all of your people! Your mother, your brother, that new bitch of yours, they will all die!"
Hearing this, Keryn swung her sword and the claws seemed to shatter. "This has been fun, Grimmjow." She snarled. He swung his hand again and the claws of power appeared. "But you will not...ever, threaten my family." She screamed and caught one of them with her sword. She began to fly through it, her blade cutting his power in half down the middle. "For that, I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna kill that Ulquiorra who was your boss, I'm gonna kill Aizen, I'm gonna kill those traitors captains that stand with him!" She roared, soaring up towards the shocked Grimmjow.
"I'm gonna kill everyone would dare threaten my family!" Keryn said, and her voice was so powerful, she could have sworn those at the Harton base would have heard her. A white light surrounded her, and she soared up and spun, causing the claws of amber energy to vanish. She stabbed forward, and just before her blade made contact, she saw a look of resignation in Grimmjow's eyes. Then her blade pierced his stomach. She wrenched the blade out and watched him fall to the earth below, where he landed in the crater he had originally been responsible for.
And Keryn stood in the air above him, victorious, wounded, and now more powerful than she had ever thought possible. She looked up and closed her eyes, letting the Erachi state leave her. When she opened them, her eyes widened as she saw a giant, axe-like scythe coming for her. She swore and raised her blade, only barely getting it up in time. She was sent flying and when she landed in the middle of a forest, she realized there was a massive cut from his left shoulder to her breast bone. "God, dammit." She said and rose to her feet, holding her blade up.
Her attacker was a tall, black haired, one eyed man, clad similarly to Grimmjow. A white eye patch covered where one of his eyes should have been. "You want some too, eh?" Before she could attack, the man her mother had been talking to appeared.
"You have fought well." He said, and there was no hint of mockery in his voice. "Your mother would be proud."
"I can take him." Keryn said.
"You probably could, at full strength." Konstantin said. "But please, allow me." Konstantin raised his own blade, but before he or the one-eyed one could attack, their reality faded around them and it felt as though they were being sent away.
Kata's eyes opened and she was standing in complete darkness. She tried to create a light with her powers, but found they would not answer her. She looked around. She could see nothing. It was cold, and icy cold that caused her to begin to shiver. She could not feel the ground beneath her, and she could hear nothing. She shouted for someone, there was no reply. A fear began to crawl into her mind. It was terrifying, something she had never experienced before. Never in her life had she felt more afraid, and she didn't even know what was causing it.
"It has been a long time, Katalena Akulov." A voice said.
"Who are you?" She called.
"Don't you remember? It has been a long time, I suppose."
"Clearly not." Kata said. Slowly, a golden light appeared and began to reach towards her. It was warm, and the cold of the darkness began to vanish. She reached out with one hand for it. "Yes, come towards me." the voice said. Kata began to slowly walk in the light's direction. When she was in range, she grabbed it. The light dissipated and was replaced by, to her shock, Shisui Hollow, clad in golden armor.
"It has been too long." He said. Kata's eyes widened and jaw fell open. "I would have hoped for a happier response."
"I...I thought you were dead."
"Oh I was. Or I am. No one told you where you are, did they?"
"No, everyone has been extremely cryptic as of late." Kata said.
"This is the sea of darkness. Any who die are sent here. This is generated by a pool of all negativity. Even the Scourge dare not enter it. As anyone who does is usually devoured upon arrival, and made part of the sea."
"Then explain you and me."
"You are chaos, I am order. We embody two sides of the sea of darkness. The reason I am alive is because I became that little thing in the back of your mind that was always bothering you. Your conscience. Thought it took you to be terrified beyond measure for me to manifest."
"So how do I get out?" Kata asked.
"Not easily. You must overcome fear itself. You must do things that you hate. Rely on someone else and listen to you conscience. Me." Shisui said.
"You must walk through this and face your greatest fears. If you are able to do so without hate or aggression, you may leave." Shisui said.
"Ok then. Lovely." Kata muttered.
"I can only speak with you here. I cannot use my powers to aid you, nor can you use yours."
"Very well." Kata sighed. "Which way do I walk?"
"Anywhere you wish."
"Wonderful." She said and started walking. He levitated next to her as she walked. The first thing she saw was a complete civil war between Hybrids. Indiscriminate murder, death, destruction, and insanity all around. The hybrids were killing one another with no thoughts given to it.
"How saddening." Shisui said.
"I know." Kata nodded and kept walking.
"How do you feel?"
"Sad." She replied.
"Do not. This was not your doing. Not your fault. They are their own people, with their own choices."
"I am aware." she said, and the vision began to fade. "I've faced this future before."
"That is quite impressive."
"Thanks." She replied. The vision changed, and they saw her, sitting alone, surrounded by the bodies of everyone she had ever known. They knew instinctively that in this vision, she had been powerless to stop what had happened to them. The vision of Kata began rocking back and forth, sobbing.
"You have seen this, as well?"
"I see this every night when I go to sleep." she replied.
"I know. But how do you feel now that you may actually soon be powerless?"
"Hopeless. Scared." She said.
"You have done your part. Let them fight for themselves, make their own way through the battle that is life." Shisui said.
"I know...you're right." Kata said, and tears began to run down her face. "It hurts, but I know you're right." The illusions vanished.
"You have done very well. You may leave at any point now." Shisui said.
"Where's the exit?" She asked wiping her eyes.
"You know it. You knew it when you arrived here." He said. A look of realization dawned on her face.
"Ah." she said, and she remembered where it had been. "I suppose I won't see you again." She said.
"Oh but you will. I am a part of you now. When you need me, you can bring me back." He said, and he too began to fade away.
"I'll tell everyone you said hi." Kata said quickly. He smiled, and vanished from sight completely. She turned away, and floated up and out of the Sea of Darkness. When she made it out, it felt like she was being teleported someplace else. She landed on what appeared to be a tropical beach, with the ocean in low tide and breeze moving through the air. She looked around, and realized there was no way that she was on Earth Plane. "Where the hell is this?" Kata asked.
"Somewhere you cannot pronounce." A voice said. Kata turned and saw a woman, slightly older than her, and attired rather strangely.
"And who are you?"
"I'm Magenta, and you are?"
"Katalena Akulov." Kata said.
"That is a pretty name." Magenta said.
"Thanks. Where am I in relation to Earth Plane?" Kata asked.
"Very far away."
"Dandy. How do I get back?"
"You can't." Magenta said.
"Why not?" Kata said, rolling her eyes.
"Because you cannot leave."
"You must work for Aizen, talking that cryptically." Kata sighed.
"I do, and well, it is a physical fact you cannot leave." Magenta said.
"I'm telling the truth."
"Why can't I leave?" Kata asked.
"Because your powers won't let you. Only mine will." Magenta said.
"And what do I have to do to get you to let me out?" Kata asked.
"Oh, tiny baby, let me love you." Magenta said. Kata could only blink in response. "You heard me."
"What?" Kata said after a moment.
"I think you know what I meant." Magenta said.
"I am confuse."
"Don't be." Magenta said, walking over and stroking Kata's face. "I can teach you." Kata quickly grabbed the other woman's wrist.
"Don't touch me." Kata snarled.
"So dominant, I like it." Magenta said, shaking free.
"What the hell kind of Aizen-ling are you?" Kata asked.
"A pretty one."
"Right. Well, I'm gonna go find someone, anyone else." Kata said and started walking away.
"Shame. We're alone here, you know."
"Don't care!" Kata replied and kept walking.
"I'll wait for you to come back!" Magenta called.
"I won't, but feel free to visit." Kata said, waving behind her without looking back. Kata found a secluded spot amid the trees and made herself a fire. Night soon fell, and Kata sat down next to her fire, sustaining herself off the bits of chaos energy all around her. It didn't take long for Magenta to appear.
"Think about my offer?"
"Nope." Kata said.
"So you're fine being stuck here? You should know it's going to drop to minus twenty degrees celsius soon." Magenta said.
"You're not exactly dressed for the weather in that dress." Magenta said. In response, Kata formed an orb of power in her hand, and Magenta could feel the warmth from where she was standing. "You are so boring. You need to work that stick out of you."
"I prefer to sticks to whatever you have to offer." Kata replied.
"Oh honey, one night with me and you'd never go back." Magenta said.
"I'm fine where I am." Kata sighed. "If you're gonna be here you may as well sit down." Kata said. Magenta promptly lay down and plopped her head on Kata's lap.
"I like the view."
"Hands to yourself." Kata warned.
"I don't need to use my hands to work the magic." Magenta winked. "Admit it, you're tempted, aren't you? Why else did I feel your pulse just quicken?"
"Probably because a person I am not in a relationship with put their head on my thighs." Kata said.
"Because you like it, otherwise you would have stopped me." Magenta said.
"Actually plenty of my friends have done this, you're not special."
"You're just being mean now." Magenta said.
"If you insist on staying, you should tell me more about yourself." Kata sighed, trying to steer the conversation in any other direction.
"Not much to say. I like pretty girls. I like being alone with them. I like talking to them. I like talking them into being with me. I also like beaches, stars, and a warm fire to sit by." Magenta said.
"Tell me your fears." Kata said.
"Don't have any."
"I don't believe you."
"Cuttlefish." Magenta said.
"Shame, they're delicious."
"So are pretty girls." Magenta said, running a hand across Kata's stomach.
"I wouldn't know and don't plan to." Kata said.
"Oh come on. Statistically everyone is bisexual to a certain degree." Magenta said, continuing to pet Kata's abdomen.
"Doesn't have anything to do with it." Kata said, becoming annoyed.
"Oh. Well, I still like you. Nothing you say will make me stop."
"Well I'm content to stay here for all eternity rather than betray the one I love." Kata replied.
"This isn't betraying! It would be betraying if you had feelings for me! This is purely physical." Magenta said.
"We're monogamous." Kata said simply.
"You people are silly. The mental and physical are entirely different entities. Besides, monogamy isn't even biologically favorable."
"I truly do not care."
"Oh but why?"
"Because to have physical desires I like to have the emotional desires as well." Kata sighed.
"Well, spend an eternity here, that gives me plenty of time." Magenta said. Kata said nothing. "I know you're not thrilled, I don't like waiting, either." Kata started rubbing her eyes. "Oh, are you crying my baby?" Magenta asked.
"Don't cry, it breaks my heart seeing you sad." Magenta said.
"Then you know how you're making me feel." Kata whispered.
"I do not." Magenta said, and Kata stood up and walked to the other side of the fire. She sat down, leaned against a tree, and put her head on her knees. Magenta sat down in front of her. Kata said nothing, instead she began to rock back and forth. "There there, it'll be ok." Magenta said, reaching out and patting her on the arm. Kata immediately swatted her hand way.
"Don't fucking touch me." She snapped. Instead, Magenta hugged her.
"It will." She said, but Kata just walked to a different tree and sat down again. Magenta went and sat down in front of her. "That's your solution?"
"What solution?" Kata shot back. "Either betray and hurt the one I love or never see him or anyone else I care about again."
"Offer me a compromise." Magenta said, and Kata looked over at her.
"What would you accept?"
"Kiss me like you would him." Magenta said. "Like you mean it."
"One question." Kata said. "Why?"
"You are pretty. I like pretty girls."
"There's more to it."
"I like you."
"You are pretty." Magenta said.
"So shallow..." Kata said, shaking her head. "I want something else in return. Tell me how you are, how you really are, how you are when you're alone."
"Sad. Lonely." Magenta said after a moment.
You said it yourself, I'm not like the other servants of Aizen. I'm no killer. I prefer to sleep with people. I don't like taking lives."
"Then why fight for him?"
"Survival." Magenta said.
"So you're like us."
"Similar." Magenta agreed. Kata stared at Magenta, and saw a completely different person than the one she had met on the beach. "So, you want to get home?"
"One more question." Kata said as Magenta began playing with her own hair. "Why not fight against him?"
"No reason not to. Better odds." She said.
"So why not fight him for the same reason?"
"Better odds." She repeated.
"If odds were everything I'd be fighting for him." Kata pointed out.
"No better reason, really."
"To be with people more like you?" Kata suggested. "Maybe have friends? Plenty of willing pretty girls?" Kata said, sending Magenta a mental image of Keryn.
"And die with them."
"I'd prefer to die with those I cared for than live with those I hated." Kata said.
"Maybe you're right." Magenta said. "But do you really want me to come with you?"
"Five minutes ago, I would have said no." Kata said slowly. "But now I get you. I know you now."
"I'd have no place to stay."
"Crash in my basement."
"You'd want that?" Magenta asked.
"As long as you didn't try to eat me in my sleep." Kata said.
"I'll risk it." Kata said.
"Alright then. Kiss me so we can go home." Magenta said. Kata rose to her feet and lifted Magenta up to her's. She slowly pushed Magenta against the tree and wrapped her hand in Magenta's hair. Kata tugged gently, then slightly harder, causing Magenta to wince.
"Sorry." Kata said, and leaned in and pecked her once on the mouth. "Better?"
"A bit." Magenta said. Kata responded by leaning in and giving her a kiss she would have normally saved for Jace. Immediately, she felt Magenta relax. After a long moment, she pulled back.
"There you go." Kata said, releasing her.
"Uhm. Yeah, that was wow." Magenta said.
"Can we go home now?"
"Sure." Magenta said and teleported them to Earth Plane, just outside Harton base. Kata turned her invisible and slipped her into the base and into her and Jace's house. She led her down to the basement.
"Make yourself at home." Kata said, turning off the invisibility. "Don't break anything."
"There's no bed." Magenta said, and Kata snapped her fingers and one appeared. "Or wardrobe."
"Steal some of my spare clothes." Kata said. "Just don't wreck them."
"I'd never dare."
"Good. Ok, I need to shower and then find Jace." Kata said.
"Can I join you?"
"You may not." Kata said.
"Why not? Loads of girls do that."
"There's one down that hall if you want."
"I"m scared to be alone." Magenta said. Kata sighed.
"Uhhhh, alright then."
"Yay! Can I wash your hair?" Magenta asked.
"Sure. Just give me a few minutes and I'll be right down." Kata said.
"Yay!" Magenta repeated as Kata slipped upstairs. She found Morri, who had been staying with them, on the couch.
"So why'd you bring her back?" Morri asked.
"I thought of Claudia. She reminded me of her. Lost without a home or family." Kata said. "And I thought that not all of who we're facing is just a killing machine out for our blood."
"Alright." Morri said, hefting a bottle of something that looked suspiciously like tequila. "I'll spare her." She said, walking off to the spare where she'd been sleeping.
That night, after Kata and Jace had reunited and had gone to bed, Morr slipped into the basement. She found Magenta sleeping on the bed Kata had gotten for her, cuddling a rather large teddy bear. Morri sat down on the bed, and got no reaction, so she grabbed Magenta's shoulder. Magenta's eyes slowly fluttered open. "Wha?" She asked, drowsily.
"Hey." Morri said.
"Who are you?" Magenta asked, rubbing her eyes.
"You are Claud's sister."
"Yeah." Morri said. Magenta hugged her, still clutching the bear.
"I am so, so sorry."
"I'm sorry I woke you, but please, can you tell me about her?" Morri asked.
"Sure. She was my only friend, after all." Magenta said. "She was always so strong, so free spirited. I admired her so much. But she was always so sad. She always said that her family had been taken from her and that she was all alone now. I would tell she was wrong, that she had me, and she'd smile that warm, comforting smile of her's, and she would say that I was right. And now she's gone. She's gone, and I miss her."
"Thank you, Magenta." Morri said quietly.
"You know, she always said differently, but she always loved you. I could see it in her eyes."
"We met a total of once..." Morri said.
"She always watched you from the moment you were born." Magenta said. "She could hardly bear to see all the suffering you had to endure."
"Why didn't she come meet me sooner?" Morri asked.
"She couldn't. It isn't as easy as you may think to leave in Aizen's presence."
"Did she ever do anything in regards to Kira?" Morri asked.
"You should have seen how happy she was when she found out Kira was alive. She couldn't stop smiling for days."
"Did she...have any other family?" Morri asked.
"I don't know. She never talked about it." Magenta said.
"Ok." Morri said, wiping her eyes.
"You're crying? But why?"
"Kata's right. You do remind me of her." Morri said.
"That is one of the greatest compliments anyone has ever told me." Magenta said.
"Thanks, Mags." Morri said, patting Magenta on the leg.
"Will you stay here with me? The basement is dark and I'm afraid alone." Magenta said. "There's room in the bed."
"Sure." Morri said after a moment.
"Thank you." Magenta said, pulling the blanket back, letting Morri climb in. "Hug me?" Magenta asked, putting her head on Morri's chest. Morri wrapped an arm around her. "This is just how Claud told me, we'd be fine. That everything would be alright." She said, snuggling in.
"I'm glad Kata brought you here and we met this way." Morri said.
"I am too. I love her after all." Magenta said and drifted off to sleep.
"Not what I meant." Morri whispered. "If we met on the field I wouldn't have spared you."
Clara caught Byakuya's blade on her own and pranced away. "There is not need to back away. I can reach you anywhere." Byakuya said, and he appeared next to her in the blink of an eye. She blocked his strike in time and swung out with the pommel of her sword, aiming for his chin. He reappeared in front of her and swung down at her with his weapon. She batted the blade away and kicked the Lord Captain in the thigh at the same time. He vanished again and reappeared to her left, swinging at her sword hand. She spun in place so it passed harmlessly beside her and she slashed out for his ribs.
Yet again Byakuya disappeared and reappeared to her right, swinging at her side. She saw her opportunity and grabbed it, vanishing as well, and reappearing two inches in front of him, blade pressed to his throat. "My lord." She said. She blinked, and saw his weapon a millimeter from her eye.
"You are slow." Byakuya said. Clara, not moving her head, glanced down with her eye. He followed her gaze and saw she had her lightsaber, deactivated, pressed into his groin. Clara noticed a thin barrier between the hilt and Byakuya. "Your movements are easy to decipher."
"Always something with you people." Clara said. Byakuya took his weapon away from her head and backed away. He turned and began to leave. Clara raised her sword in front of her face in a Makashi salute as he did so.
"Take your stance." Byakuya ordered, and Clara let one foot fall behind her as she took her weapon with both hands and raised it above her head. "Hado Number Four, Byakurai." Byakuya said. A bolt of pale blue lightning shot at her from his finger. Clara took two steps to her left and let it pass her. He fired it once more, and in response, she fired a thin beam of Erachi-Energy, the first time she had done so in years, right at his attack. "Hado Number Thirty-Three, Sokatsui." Byakuya said. Pale blue flames erupted from his palm towards her. She turned her hand over and turned her energy into a wall in front of her, blocking the fire. Byakuya stood there and waited. Clara waited as well.
"Bakudo Thirty-Nine." Byakuya said. "Enkosen." A disc of his power formed in front of him as a shield.
"A shield to a shield, huh?" Clara said, forming her energy wall into an orb around her.
"Bakudo seventy-nine, Kuyo Shibari." The Lord Captain said in response, and eight, purple rimmed black holes surrounded her. In the instant before the ninth formed in front of her, she blinked, and the air around her transported to around Byakuya, placing the black holes around him, and the ninth formed on his chest instead. Byakuya vanished and reappeared behind her. "Hado number thirty two, Okasen." Byakuya said, and a flash of yellow power exploded outward towards her. She shifted existence again and caused the beam to stop moving towards her, but instead to strike at Byakuya from either side. He slashed his blade to either side, batting the attack away.
He fired Byakurai at her once more, and again she matched it with a beam of her own. She watched as he got towards her and slashed towards her chest. She saw the attack coming a mile away, but allowed the slash to go across her chest, only because it gave her time to cut him across the stomach. To her astonishment, nothing happened, and she realized she had struck a single, petal like blade. "Scatter, Senbonzakura." Byakuya said. Clara let out a long sigh. The petal blades swarmed at her, but she simply formed another white orb around her, this one a hundred times stronger than the previous. She couldn't help but allow a look of annoyance to cross her face.
She shook her head as the petals struck her shield again and again. "Every time one of your flowers strike my shield its power grows tenfold." Clara said.
"Does not matter."
"So you're content to let me sit here unharmed?" Eventually the shield was overwhelmed and a crack formed, allowing the petals in. Clara swung a hand through the air, turning her shield into an army of white petal blades of her own. The white cloud began to fend off Byakuya's blade. "Why do you insist on this, Byakuya?" She sighed.
"Preparation only works if those involved survive it." Clara said and started to walk away, her white petals fending off his as she left. Byakuya simply collected his weapon, reforming it into it's katana form, and huffed. She dispersed her petals and kept walking, waving over her shoulder with one hand.
Komstantin's blade slammed upwards against the Espada's scyth like weapon, blocking it away from his chest.
"All defensive and not offense? You bore me!" clamored Nnoitora as he struck yet another blow against his opponent.
"Pah, as if I was fighting to entertain you!" answered the Gallifreyian as he took a step back and then fired a Getsuga Tenshō at close range. For a moment they both were obstructed by a cloud of smoke, before Konstatine was sent flying out of it, crashing into a tree.
"I told you, my skin is the hardest of all the Espada's! Your measly attacks won't even scratch it!" laughed the Espada, as he twirled his blades around calmly walking towards his prey.
"Then let's see how you deal with this! Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu!" Retorted Konstantin, raising his now small, jet-black blade and pointing it at Nnoitora, before vanishing in a flash and appearing behind his enemy slicing upwards with his sword, ripping through the clothes his target wore.
Grunting in pain, the fifth Espada, jumped away looking at the back of his shoulder, where he had actually been cut open. Thick, dark blood oozed out of the wound for a few seconds, before it sealed itself.
"Guess, I underestimated the sharpness of your blade. But this still isn't enough to beat me!" Bellowed Nnoitora and rushed forward, attempting to slice Konstantine into a thousand tiny bits.
Yet again Konstantin's Bankai's speed allowed him to perceive his opponent's moves before he made them, and counter just at the right moments, slashing deep into Aizen's servant.
"I suppose you are not totally useless...but you will still lose." Panted Nnoitora as he straightend up again. Running his sleeve over his profoundly bleeding cheek, where the wound slowly closed.
"Oh? And why would that be?" Mocked Konstantin, with a smile, swinging his blade to his sids, getting the blood off, which caused it to splatter onto the grass, dotting it red.
"This." said Nnoitora simply as he held out his weapon before him.
"Pray! Santa Therisa!"
A cloud of dust enveloped the Arrancar, as the release of his power vaporised the ground around them. As the cloud cleared, he stood there, with two additional arms, each wielding a scythe like weapon.
"Now then...let's have some fun!" roared the creature as he soared forward colliding with Konstantin's blade, but even the incredibly sharp blade of Tensa Zangetsu, was unable to penetrate the skin of his foe, who simply laughed and slashed downwards with his arms, attempting to sever Konstantin's own appendages. Who only managed to evade this by using the increased speed his blade gave him, but still was cut squarely across the chest.
The Gallifreyian's blood splattered all over the ground, as he clutched the gaping wound, using his Amber powers to stem the bleeding a little. But that cost him time, valuable time he didn't have, as Nnoitora appeared again above him, howling in joy, as he twirled his strange weapons around, becoming nothing but a whirlwind of blades, impossible for anyone to parry over any prolonged period of time. As such Konstantin didn't even try, instead he attempted a counter-offensive, he slashed upwards with his blade and fired his trademark black Getsuga Tensho, which slowed the whirlwind only for a fraction of a second, as he dissipated it and then he was all over Konstantin.
Even a master of the blade like he was, could not happen to block all the slashes that rained down on him, even as he backed away he was cut at from all sides, blood was running down his arms, legs and stomach. There truly was no escape from the myriad of strikes. Until Nnoitora let up on his own accord, as he stuck out his tongue and fired a Gran Ray Cero at point blank range into Konstantin, who held up his blade, for all the good it did him. Such a powerful form of condensed Dark Amber, could not simply be blocked by a Bankai, not even one as strong as his. He held his stance however for the few moments it lasted until he was blasted away up into the sky, where the Espada was already awaiting him. All four of his blades came down hard, and perforated Konstantin's chest, and stomach, before a spine-shattering kick sent the Katana wielder back into the ground, which shuck and burst under the force of the impact, creating a crater in which the proud warrior lay.
"Guess you won't supply me with the fun I'd hoped you would."
Giggled Nnoitora as he turned away from his defeated enemy. Only to find himself confronted by the injured and exhausted Keryn, who brought her blade down on his neck, only to find it simply gliding off, without so much as scratching the surface.
"Oh, is it the little sluts turn now? Should have guessed that fucking every single person you meet would only be detrimental to your fighting skills!"
Laughed the Espada, as he brought his blades down on Keryn again and again, while the comment had angered her greatly, she wasn't going to give into her rage, which would have without a doubt unbalanced her. However, even without that, her defenses soon faltered under the relentless barrage of her enemy, she felt the cold steel of his blade touch her warm and silky flesh, as it cut through the skin and into the muscles beneath it, creating a huge gash running from her collar bone down to her hip, though this had left Nnoitora quite open as well, and Keryn stabbed forward, her Soul Blade, puncturing his eye patch, and exiting the back of his head. Every normal enemy should have been dead, but the Arrancar simply grabbed her Soul Blade, and held it tight, making sure Keryn was forced to stay exactly where she was.
"Guess I should have told you about this..."
Sneered Aizen's soldier, as with one of his hands, he lifted the eye patch to reveal, there was nothing beneath it, but a hole that ran all the way to the back of his head, the hole that all Arrancar had somewhere on their bodies. But most didn't use it in such a cunning and deceitful way. Now it was Nnoitora's turn to raise his arms, and the blades came down, to scythe the Erachi into three distinct pieces.
Or at least that had been Nnoitora's idea, when all of a sudden a dark energy wave, raced forward and cut through his arms that held Keryn in her place. This was quickly followed by a black blade appearing next to the Arrancar, and sliding upward parts the creatures chest, as black blood sprayed out of it, coating the ground as well as the Erachi, who turned to identify her saviour. While she had known from the style of the attack and the thin black blade, she didn't quite believe it. Konstantin stood there, with his back to her, where she could see his spine, regenerating itself, his black coat still drenched in his own blood and there was something strange about the way he held his body, at lot more blood thirsty than usual.
"Let's end this, Nnoitora!"
Bellowed Konstantin, his voiced warped by his Hollow Mask, as he soared towards his enemy, who had used the few seconds to regenerate his arms, and used his four blades to block Konstantin's first strike. While he had always been incredibly fast with his Bankai, this new state allowed him to reach such velocities than Keryn actually lost track of him from time to time, impossible to discern where he'd strike next. Suddenly there were more an more gashed all across Nnoitora's body, thick black blood continued to rain and soak the ground, as the Espada continued to try and block, but was growing only more desperate and angry at his constant failures. Then it all stopped, to Keryn it looked like the time had frozen for an instant, Konstantin had appeared above the Arrancar, his blade held high with both hands, black energy with red rims, swirled around his blade, then shot upwards into the sky, as Konstantin fired the most massive Getsuga Tensho he had ever created, the massive sickle of raw energy came down on Nnoitora and cut him, the ground, the planet, the star system, the very plane they had been battling on in half.
The few precious seconds that remained until the Sea of Darkness would devour the plane, Konstantin used to reappear next to Keryn, and grabbing her hand they both teleported back to Earth Plane, to report their victory over not only one, but two Espada, which would without a doubt, put a grave dent in Aizen's future plans of conquest.