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(Note: This is Chapter 13 of the Return From Exile story arc.)
Akashi stands before his brother holding his zanpakto in his hand…'
“Brother,” he said struggling to gain a breath, “Its time that I reveal to you my zanpakto’s final bankai stage. “Now I Call, Lay down the Winning Hand, Randamu Kado Jisatsu Kingu!”
There was a tremor of spiritual pressure released so intense that the weakened lungs of Renji and Uryu began to fail. “Guys, it’s going to be alright!” Ichigo called out, but before he could do anything Squad Four Captain Unohana and the manta ray-like shikai of her zanpakto.
“Quickly get them in here!” she urged. The beast opened its mouth, and they lifted both of the injured and placed them in the creature’s mouth. “I apologize that it has taken us so long,” she said as she climbed onto the shikai’s back “but until now there seemed to be too many large attacks. We were hoping this would resolve by now, but…” she looked toward the source of the reiatsu, “I’m afraid it hasn’t I must get these two to the hospital unit. Come along.”
“No,” Ichigo responded, “I have a lot of faith in Byakuya, but this other guy has incredible power. If I’m needed anywhere before this is over, its here.”
“I see,” she said as the creature began to rise, “I’ll inform the other captains of the situation as it stands.” With that she flew away.
Ichigo now had a moment to take in what was happening in the battle. The initial release of spiritual pressure seemed to have faded, but there was still a potent new power. As the smoke cleared the source was revealed.
Across from Byakuya stood Akashi his hair falling wildly around his head. Along his left arm was a black sleeve with a series of armor plates attached each of which was a dark crimson with gold along the edges and intricate black markings. At his shoulder was a larger piece of armor that covered part of the shoulder blade, and came over and forward to rest across the outside of his chest. A belt was connected there by a metal loop and the belt descended to his right hip where it connected with the rest of his clothing. On his right arm there was only a plated guard over his forearm and an armored glove covering the outside of his hand, each of which matched the plating on his left arm. On the upper part of his right outer chest was a dark red tattoo of a heart. He wore the black pants, the white socks, the sandals a shinigami, but with a thick golden rope as a belt, and. Along the outer thighs, and shins were plates like matching his arm guard, three from hip to knee and one on each shin. Cards move in random paths around his body.
“Could this really be his final bankai form?” Ichigo wondered, “He seems less protected than before.”
“Byakuya,” Akashi spoke, “let us go somewhere more appropriate to finish this fight. If one of us is to be executed by the other then let us go to a proper sight of execution, Sōkyoku Hill,”
“Fine. It will at least take us away from the innocents,” Byakuya said to himself.
“There are no innocents,” Akashi muttered as they flash-stepped away, “There are only those who have not yet been accused.” Ichigo quickly followed them, but kept his distance.
“Brother, this is a fitting site for the end of this battle don’t you think?” Akashi said as Byakuya’s Senkei blades encircled them once more. “You once saved me from this place, and it is the result of that action that has brought us back here. It would seem that all roads for our fate converge in this place.”
“Fate is an excuse to not take responsibility for one’s future,” Byakuya said boldly, “I don’t deny the unfortunate nature of what happened to you brother, but even if you had spent sometime in Hueco Mundo, if you can come here you can arrive anywhere else, yet you chose to come here, you chose to ignore your banishment and the laws of the Seireitei, and-”
“No!” Akashi called out, “The laws of the Seireitei ignored me!” Akashi flash-stepped and was standing before his brother, he swung his blade Byakuya countered; the force of the clash caused the ground beneath their feet to crack. Again they flashed away and again their blades met. “You feel it don’t you brother; you sense the difference in our power that I am holding back. Does it put fear in your heart brother?”
“Once again you overestimate yourself,” Byakuya said, “but more importantly you underestimate me!” Several blades suddenly rushed from their spots and shot toward Akashi, but the cards that had been orbiting him clustered together to block each one. “You can block five, but there are many more here than your cards can save you from.” More blades began to fly at him cards continued to block with less and less effectiveness.
Akashi leapt away from the blade lock with his brother, and released his blade as it became a cloud of cards to repel the swords, but as they continued to rain down on him he became increasingly angry. “Enough!” a wave a reiatsu released and the blades shattered into the small petals they were composed of. The petals floated poured into the zanpakto in Byakuya’s hand, which began to glow just slightly. The blade now reformed in Akashi’s hand, and he said, “You know that such a skill is worthless against me and yet you persist. Well then so will I.” Around Byakuya appeared a total of four copies, and one real Akashi. The copies were paired two in his first stage of bankai, two in the second and the fifth Akashi was appeared in his third bankai stage. “This is how my Two Pair technique manifests itself, you might say it’s the truest state of it two pairs and a fifth alone.”
The stage one Akashi copies ensnared Byakuya in their tentacle-like ribbons. Byakuya glowered at Akashi and blades began to fly once more, but the stage two copies transformed into a wall of cards surrounding the two of them while outside blades could be heard raining down around them. For a moment only the slight glow of Byakuya’s blade could be seen as it lay on the ground, but then the walls began to glow that dark red glow. “Is this how you plan to end it? Brother?” Before Akashi could respond the sound of blades crashing in ended and then suddenly the wall of cards collapsed in with a wave of black and yellow reiatsu.
“Wh-?” Akashi looked and saw two shinigami standing there. One was Ichigo Kurosaki, and the other was 10th squad Captain Kenpachi Zaraki,. “How dare you interfere a proper battle is meant to be one opponent against another.”
“And I count five on your side,” said Division 10 Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya. As he stepped in the stage two copies finished reforming behind Akashi.
“So we’ve arrived to make this a ‘proper battle,” said Squad Captain of the 7th division Sajin Komamura.
“Very, well then. I’m a good sport,” Akashi said, “but what say we make this a truly proper battle,” he smiled devilishly.
Previous Chapter: Bankai’s Second Stage His Unbreakable Skin.
Next Chapter: Another Deadly Technique: The Royal Flush!