(Note: This is Chapter 6 of the Return From Exile story arc.)
As the dust cleared, both warriors could be seen still standing the barrier between them.
“Damn,” Uryu gritted his teeth, his robes singed and torn, his body weak and bruised from the force of the explosion, he fell to his knees.
“Cut,” the cards flew to the hilt that Akashi had picked up. “Don’t tell me that was all of your energy in that one attack?” He looked over. “I guess you’ve proven that I can’t risk you staying around. I’ll have to end this now, Straight Flush”, his cold voice hung in the air. “This is my zanpakto’s final Shikai technique, actually its a combination of my Straight and Flush skills except that when combined the power of each slash goes up by ten times.” He frowned. “I’m disappointed that it has come to this; I was saving this technique for someone else.” He pointed the blade at Uryu’s right arm and flicked it barely cutting into his skin, the afterimages followed.
“ugh,” Uryu panted as he felt five incredibly sharp cuts pass through his arm. Akashi raised the blade again, this time to his left and flicked it at his bicep. “Agh,” Uryu groaned these five cuts were significantly increased in strength.
“Lets hurry this up shall we?” Akashi gave a swing at each leg.
“Gyah!” Uryu cried out in agony, as he looked to the sky. He could feel the muscles of each leg being damage by two swings; the latter significantly stronger than the former. He collapsed onto his back unable to focus on any thing but the pain.
“Good bye, Quincy,” He raised his glowing blade to the sky, but as he swung at Uryu’s neck the blade stopped, or rather was stopped. A dark figure appeared crouched over Uryu, a blade had met with Akashi’s and took the force of the attack. “You’ve finally arrived” a glint crossed in Akashi’s eyes, “Byakuya.”
In Captain Yamamoto’s office he stands where he was when he last spoke to Captain Kuchiki…
“Now,” he grunted to himself, “this feud will finally be ended.”
'Byakuya has appeared in front of Akashi just in time to save Uryu from certain death…
Byakuya pushed Akashi away, flash-stepping Uryu’s body over near Renji’s fallen form. He quickly arrived back in front of Akashi.
“So Byakuya,” Akashi said, “you seem to have grown soft since the time that I was your lieutenant. Running around saving Quincy, a rat from the Rukongai as your Lieutenant, what has happened to the Noble Kuchiki clan’s leader in my absence?”
“Akashi,” Byakuya said coldly, “Why have you returned here? We have not pursued you in your exile but your return means you will be sentenced to death here!” He said with a hint of concern in his voice. “Do you not remember that it was I that convinced the council that you should be exiled rather than killed?”
“You will find out in due time what has spurred my arrival,” Akashi said to him. “I see your appearance hasn’t changed much, you still wear the kenseikan in your hair, as if people need reminding that you are the head of the Kuchiki Clan. We can discuss all of that later, first I want to see how much you have improved in battle since I was sent away.” With that Akashi and Byakuya began a series of flash steps blades clashing all over the ruined courtyard.
Each finally planted his feet, several feet away from the other. “Impressive Akashi, I guess you’ve been working on your speed just for this encounter?”
“During my exile, I had to develop my speed to survive,” Akashi said sternly. “Of course, I’ve grown in my skills as well. I hope you have to. Shuffle.”
As the cards came toward him Byakuya spoke calmly, “Scatter, Senbonzakura.” A cloud of petal like blades went out to meet the wave of cards each scattering the other.
“Ah there’s a sight for sore eyes, Byakuya,” Akashi said a slight happiness in his voice.
Some distance away Ichigo Kurosaki stood looking on as the fight continued. “Byakuya…and this guy…they seem to know each other very well. Each seemed able to predict the other’s movements. But… who is he?”
“Senbonzakura, has become more accurate, and more numerous” Akashi complemented.
“Its been many years since you last saw it,” Byakuya added, “I’m certain there are many nuances that even I didn’t realize were possible at the time, such as the ability to hide the blades from sight.”
“Hm?” but all to soon he realized what Byakuya had meant, as a wave of previously unseen blades came hurtling toward him, a few managed to cut him across the cheek before his zanpakto could form its barrier. “That is quite the clever trick, but now that blood has been drawn,” he said wiping a drop from his cheek, “all bets are off. I’ve held back for these weaker opponents, but you shall have no such luck. Cut.” The cards reassembled the blade. “When I left I was unable to use Jisatsu Kingu’s full abilities, but believe me after what I’ve been through, I know him as if he and I were one. Now,” he held out his blade in front of himself with both hands on the hilt, “Ban-” Ichigo’s eyes widened. “-kai!”
The spiritual pressure that was released caused Senbonzakua’s petals to be blown away, and Byakuya recalled his blade to its sealed state. Some of the inner walls of the courtyard to collapse, and Ichigo was barely able to move Uryu and Renji before the wall nearest them gave way."I guess its lucky I was here for training? Though I can't say the same for you Uryu, I'm sorry I was late."
Ichigo looked up to see a very different Akashi. He now wore royal shinigami-like robes a dark crimson coat with gold along the shoulders and sleeves and white down the edges, and black pants with gold along the seams and cuffs. Not only was he dressed differently, but now long ribbons of cards wound their way down his arms and legs. Ichigo stood looking in awe at the incredible new Bankai. Byakuya stood there stoically looking at his opponent as if nothing had changed.
“I suppose you are not impressed by my power?” Akashi said with a new confidence in his voice, “I didn’t expect that you would be, since you have seen this Bankai before, remember? It was when I left Soul Society.”
“Stop saying that,” Byakuya said sharply. “You didn’t ‘leave’ Soul Society; you were exiled. Cast out from the Seireitei for committing high crimes against the living world, and it was only my argument in your defense that stayed the council’s hand from putting you to death by the sōkyoku.”
“I would prefer it if you would stop acting as if you spared me Byakuya,” Akashi snapped, with a harsh tone in his voice. “It was you, my captain, who gave the orders that lead to the council considering execution in the first place, but you wouldn’t say that you were complicit in what I did to save us and complete the mission now would you? You were too concerned with saving yourself…Brother!”
“Brother?” Ichigo repeated as if he had never heard that word before in his life.
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