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(Note: This is Chapter 1 of the Return From Exile story arc.)
High above Soul Society a garganta tears the sky open and a lone shinigami steps out from the darkness…
“Hmph…its good to be back,” a smile comes across his face. He wears a set of shabby and beaten shinigami’s robes with no designation of squad allegiance. He pushes the strands of long jet black hair from his face grabs his zanpakto at the hilt and says, “Let’s have some fun old friend.”
In the research department’s main headquarters sirens go off everywhere. 12th division captain, Mayuri Kurotsuchi, rushes into the surveillance room…
“Nemu! What the hell is going on?” he cried out to his lieutenant.
“A garganta has opened within the Seireitei!” Nemu told him.
“Impossible, we have multilayered security to prevent something like that,” he said quite irritated with a subordinate.
“I know sir,” she said apologetically, “but all the same a massive source of reiatsu has opened one within the barrier that surrounds the Soul Society.”
“Nothing has the reiatsu necessary to break through our new reinforced barri-” Kurotsuchi’s eyes fell on the read out panel, “Oh my God! These readings are off the charts! Send out a warning across the Seireitei!”
The peaceful silence is torn apart by the sudden eruption of sirens and a voice echoing, “Warning! Warning! An unknown force has broken into the Seireitei. Warning! Warning! Be on the look at for any and all suspicious characters! All Captains are to report to an emergency meeting!”
Head Captain Yamamoto Genryusai stands at the head of the Captains meeting…
“A garganta has been opened within Soul Society, and what’s worse within the barrier. Given the amount of reiatsu released at the sight, it is safe to assume that this is no mere anomaly correct?” he said looking towards Kurotsuchi.
“That is correct, sir,” said Kurotsuchi through his teeth, “We believe the source to be some kind of combatant. The reiatsu spike disappeared before we got a chance to identify its type. It may well be that it is a shinigami, an arrancar of some kind, or something new altogether.”
“Could an arrancar really generate that kind of power?” asked 2nd Division Captain, Soifon.
“It is conceivable that a Vasto Lorde level arrancar could have done this, but with no further data we can’t be sure, for all we know this was a shinigami” Mayuri responded.
“You really think that a shinigami could do this?” inquired Jushiro Ukitake, captain of Squad 13.
“It is not unimaginable for a shinigami to reach these levels, but it is surprising to think that we in Soul Society would be unaware of someone with such power.” he replied with some disdain.
“Let’s just hope he can put up a good fight,” grinned Division 11 Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, “or else he won’t be worth my time.”
“This is no time for your bloodlust, Kenpachi!” snapped Toshiro Hitsugaya, the young captain of Squad 10.
“This is no time for infighting either!” snapped Captain Yamamoto. “You all know your assignments. Let us just hope we find this intruder before someone less fortunate does.”
At that moment 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai happens upon a mysterious, and yet familiar figure…
Having heard the alarm Renji was running to his captain’s home to get his orders when suddenly he is blocked by a man with a beaten up set of shinigami robes, long black hair, a pale face and dark black eyes. “Stop right there!” Renji ordered him. “Are you the intruder?”
“Intruder?” the figure looked at him inquisitively. “What would make me an intruder and you not? We were the same clothes; we each have a blade at our sides; and each of us is quite familiar with this place. No I wouldn’t say that I am any more of an intruder than you are.”
“You know what I mean,” Renji growled at him, “are you the one that’s got the whole Seireitei in an uproar?”
“Let’s hope so,” the figure’s eyes lit up as he smiled, “that was the plan.”
“I am Renji Abari and as lieutenant of Squad 6-” he began.
“Lieutenant?” the man mumbled. “Oh how disappointing, I was hoping for a challenge.” he rested his hand on his scabbard.
“I’ll show you a challenge!” Renji yelled drawing his sword. “Howl, Zabimaru!” with that his zanpakto’s shikai was released and was sent flying whip-like through the air directly at his opponent.
“Foolish,” the figure said with a twinge of amusement. He drew his blade and knocked away the oncoming attack. “With no idea what abilities I have or even how much power or skill I may possess you saw fit to attack me? That is just unwise what would your captain say?”
“You shut up!” Renji yelled. “If you are truly a shinigami, then you might have some honor in you, state your name!”
“My name?” he paused. “My, my, that is an interesting request, I barely remember it. It has been so long since anyone has called me by it. As I remember, my name is Akashi.”
“Akashi?” Renji retracted his sword all the way back to its sword state. “and what is your squad and rank?”
“As far as I’m aware,” Akashi began his long, wild black hair blowing in the wind, “I have no rank nor do I have allegiance to a court guard squad. You see, Renji was it?” He paused a moment and looked Renji over. “Where are you from?”
“What? I’m from the Rukon District,” Renji said proudly, “what does that matter?”
“I guess it means nothing anymore,” Akashi mused, “Why, when I was here, granted that was many years ago, some rat from the Rukongai would never have made it to the rank of Lieutenant.”
“You shut up!” Renji sent another whip like attack at Akashi, but the attack was blocked and repelled.
“So quick to anger,” Akashi chuckled, “I remember my days like that. It is what led to my departure, but that’s all the time I have for you. Move out of the way, won‘t you?”
“What? No time?” Renji fumed, “Well you better find time, cuz there is no way I’m letting you by after what you just said about me!”
“Is that so?” Akashi laughed, “Very well, I guess now is as good a time as any to stretch my legs, so to speak. It has been a while since I dueled with a shinigami.”
“That’s right,” Renji grinned, “let’s do this!”
“Very well,” Akashi held his sword in his right hand raised it in front of himself and said, “Deal the Cards of Fate! Jisatsu Kingu!” The blade began to glow a deep red and then explodes sending pieces flying into the air.
Elsewhere Byakuya Kuchiki sits in his house eyes closed sipping tea.
Byakuya feels a familiar spiritual pressure rush over him.
“So,” he opens his eyes slowly, “you’ve finally come back.”
Captain Yamamoto along with Captain Kurotsuchi stands in the dimly lit research facility. The only light comes from the monitors.
“So Akashi,” Yamamoto said to himself, “you have returned.”
“Akashi?”Hitsugaya said confusedly. “Surely you don’t mean-”
“Yes, Captain Hitsugaya,” the Head Captain said, “That criminal we exiled has returned to the Seireitei, after all these years.”
“But why now?”Hitsugaya asks, “Why take the risk of being caught surely he knows that he would be detected.”
“I’m sure he does,” Yamamoto grunted, “I think he is counting on it.”
Next Chapter: The Battle Begins: Renji versus Akashi!