"Onii-san!!" Akiko whined. 'Why are you dragging me out here? I wanna be with Echo!"
"She sure complains alot huh?" Ahatake asked Shunsatsu who as at his left.
The dark haired man scratched the back of his head, unsure of how to answer. The only thing he could seem to muster however, was a sheepish smile. "Heh..."
"Echo can get along fine without you Akiko." Ahatake sighed. "Besides isn't Lilith around?"
"Oh yea." Akiko mused. "So that explains why blood was pouring from all my faucets this morning."
Immediately, Shunsatsu stopped in his tracks, his expression nothing short of shocked. The smile now seemed frozen, his mouth twitching a bit. "Y....you're joking....r-right?" He asked nervously, his eyes slowly looking over to the girl's retreating back.
"No." Akiko replied.
"You know." Ahatake muttered. "I usually get some sign when she's in town. Dog's forming into packs, blood weeping down the walls."
"You're....talking about it like it's....normal...." Shunsatsu's hands shook a bit, but he attempted to walk forward again, trying to ignore the jelly-like feeling in his legs.
"It is." Akiko replied cheerfully. "You get used to it after awhile." She smiled as they heard distant barking.
"See, I told you." Ahatake said laughing.
"...." A now-unnerved boy simply put his hands in his pockets, remaining silent. For the moment, he had been muted by their non-chalant behavior towards this... supernaturally horrifying events. Acting like it was normal was far from his mind.
Akiko Pointed her finger at Shunsatsu. "Hado 1, Sho!" She cried and it pushed him effectively snapping him out of his trance.
Suddenly they heard a whisper. "Scatter, Senbonzakura." Immediately thousands of pink petals came hurtling at them.
"What in the..."
At first, Shunsatsu was skeptical, his eyes lazy as they looked in the direction of the voice.
Then, he saw the petals, and he immediately understood. "Captain Kuchiki?!" He thought, eyes widening in horror. "LOOK OUT!"
Ahatake sent a massive cero at the petals stopping them in their tracks. "Come out!"
A man appeared holding a hilt with no blade. But this was not Byakuya Kuchiki. The long hair and face was similar but his eyes were an icy gray. He was dressed in a Shinigami's uniform with a white sash over it. He clapped his hands. "Very good Xiāochú."
"Wrong, Shunsatsu...." The black-haired boy thought, eyes furrowing. "Kuchiki would not attack one of his own." "Who are you?" He asked calmly, not reaching for his sword.... yet.
"I am Mozou." He replied slowly. "I am here to battle each of you." He moved the blade less hilt to move the petals even faster at the trio.
"Hm!" That's when Shunsatsu's reflexes kicked in. Gripping the hilt of his blade, he unsheathed it, the thin jagged edge cutting through air and colliding with the cherry blossom-like blades. He slashed continuously three times, trying to distance himself between them and his own flesh.
Ahatake sent a small cero at them, but it was different from other cero's. It was a small ball and exploded on contact, scattering the petals around.
Akiko meanwhile has gone with a direct approach and fired a "Shot of Red Fire" at Mozou, whose used the Petals as a shield.
Taking the advantage of the focused shield, Shunsatsu quickly rushed towards it, thrusting his legs upwards to backflip over Mozou's head. Turning around reflexively, he twirled his sword, moving the tip as to stab the sharp edge into the exposed back. A beat of sweat dripped down his face, but his movements were unhesitant.
But Mozou dodged with Flash Step.
"He's fast!" Ahatake thought sending another cero at Mozou, who dodged again.
"Release your Zanpakuto." He muttered to them.
"See?!?" Ahatake hisses. "This is what happens when Lilith comes to town. Evil follows!"
Shunsatsu's colored eyes looked over towards the other black-haired male. "Do you even know where this 'Lilith' is?" He asked, scowling slightly.
"Not sure where, but she's somewhere in Karakura." Ahatake replied dodging the ever so annoying pink petals.
Raising the jagged edge of his blade, along with fancy footwork, Shunsatsu weaved and slashed through the mist of sakura blossoms, smacking the minature blades away as if he were swatting flies. However, his journey was not completely harmless. A few managed to catch him on the way as he tried to rush Mozou, making him stagger a bit as they sliced his body.
Suddenly all the blades returned into sword form, and Mozou now uttered something different. "Sit Upon the Frozen Heavens, Hyōrinmaru!" His blade became lengthened, and the guard changed into a four-pointed bronze colored star, and he gained a crescent shaped blade attached to the hilt by a chain.
It was time to switch tactics.
Shunsatsu immediately stopped in his tracks, raising one free hand and pointing two fingers towards the shifting Mozou, eyes narrowing even more. "Hadō 88. Hiryugekizokushintenraiho!"
He was only a few feet away from Mozou when the gigantic blast of electricity erupted from his fingers. It was too fast to dodge, enveloping the opponent in a wave of blue death and explosion. It didn't stop, though, roaring through to burn a path through the forest, annihilating and turning any trees that stood in its way to nothing but ash.
But there was a blue flash from where Mozou was standing and he was revealed alive.
Ahatake and Akiko were open-mouthed in shock, Akiko more so than Ahatake, as she understood that spell's power.
"Splitting Void..." Shunsatsu murmured under his breath. "So, he's a Kidō expert as well...this is going to be a hassle..." Part of his confidence sank a bit under that knowledge, but he held himself firm.
Mozou raised a hand to his head and swiped it down, donning a Hollow Mask. "Release your Zanpakuto child."
"Do you think I'm stupid?" Shunsatsu retorted in a challenging voice. "I've figured out what you're trying to do, and it isn't going to work!"
Mozou's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
Shunsatsu pointed at Mozou with his free hand. "Those Zanpakuto abilities you're wielding right now are the ones of two captains of the Zero Division. At some point, you've had to face them down in order to know of them. Somehow, you've learned how to copy them into your own Zanpakuto as well."
His eyes drifted towards the sword. "And now, you're trying to push us into releasing our Zanpakuto, so that you can copy that as well and use it against us. Isn't that right?"
"A Magician never reveals his tricks." Mozou replied, swinging his blade and sending a roaring Ice Dragon at Shunsatsu. "You'll have to release your Zanpakuto sometime. If you die, so does your Zanpakuto. Do you wanna have that on your conscience in the next life?"
"I don't need to release my Zanpakuto in order to be a match for you!" Shunsatsu retorted, raising his palm out towards the dragon of the blue crystals. "Hadō 81. Danku!"
In response, the same shield that defended Mozou from his own assault now raised up to shield Shunsatsu himself.
Suddenly Ahatake's fist came out of nowhere, smacking right into Mozou's jaw. This caught him off, guard but only for a moment.
"I was wondering when you'd step in to defend your friend, Ahatake Kurosaki." Mozou mumbled getting up.
"No kidding." His opponent added, a bit peeved. "Enjoying the show too much?"
Ahatake donned his hollow mask. "I hate being on the sidelines." And he turned to Shunsatsu. "And you're a coward." He hissed through his mask.
Immediately, Shunsatsu's eyes widened, and a scowl fixed his face once again. "Coward?!" He repeated indignantly. "Well, sorry for taking my opponent seriously, thank you very much!"
"You're afraid to face your own power." Ahatake replied.
Mozou meanwhile was letting them have this little talk. Generally he was a calm, patient man, so he could stand here for a year before growing impatient.
"It would be a lot more annoying if he used our own abilities against us." Shunsatsu insisted. "Although, mine would be less potent than your own..."
"Actually it would be FUN!" Ahatake replied, drawing his Zanpakuto.
"Besides, didn't Kisuke warn us about this? You're just doing what he wants." Shunsatsu pressured. In either case, he placed two fingers on the side of his blade, careful not to cut himself.
"Kisuke never took my attitude into account." Ahatake replied. "And any way didn't he mention another young girl? I don't see anyone besides, Akiko."
"Yes, he did. Why do you ask?"
Ahatake moved his mask away from his face. "Maybe Kisuke was wrong. Or maybe this is the wrong person."
Shunsatsu's eyes fell into a state of thoughtfulness. Of course, there had been always that chance that he wasn't the one hunting for them. It could mean that this man was simply another wanderer of the Soul Society, much like Ryoka.
"That could be true..." He muttered.
"So Kisuke is aware of my targets?" Mozou asked.
The blue-clad boy smirked. "You bet he is." He replied confidently.
"Then I'll beat you three into submission and find that girl." He muttered. "BAN...KAI!!!!!!!" He grew giant wings of ice, his sword ad right arm was covered in ice, and so were his feet. He also grew a tail. "Daiguren Hyōrinmaru".
The words that he was awaiting so reached his ears.
There was a hissing sound, and a second later, the jagged-edge blade the blue-clad Shinigami wielded was now the elegant and cleaver sword that was his Shikai. Gripping the hilt in both hands, he steadied himself once more.
"Force my hand at Hell's beckon and Hollowfy me to crush my enemy, Kuǎnwánguó!" Ahatake cried and his Hollow mask shifted slightly, and his sword turned black.
Mozou's Zanpakuto made a note of these release and their commands. "Very interesting."
They would now have to be prepared to defend themselves against their own powers. Hopefully, Mozou's skills didn't match up to theirs when it came to utilizing their Zanpakuto, which could give them an edge... hopefully. "It's over, Mozou. We're coming for you!" He said.
"Or rather, I for you." Mozou muttered from behind the two. He made a stabbing movement. "Ryūsenka..."
"Oh no!" Ahatake muttered, but suddenly ropes were around the two and they were being pulled quickly away from the icy blade.
"You're welcome!" Akiko said, grinning, and holding a glowing Kido rope in her hand.
"...Well, it's about time you stepped in..." Shunsatsu muttered, his eyes now focused on her. "What in the world were you doing back there?"
"I thought you could take care of yourselves." She replied icily, spitting up something white. "You are boys are you not?"
Shunsatsu put on a face of fake realization the moment she had said that, eyes widened and mouth agape for emphasis. "Oh! So while you were doing all the work, you were back at the kitchen making sandwiches! How kind of you, Akiko-san."
"Shunsatsu shut up now!" Ahatake ordered, as Akiko vomited up more white goop. "Do NOT agrivate her."
"All right, all right...but could she let us go now?"
The ropes slid off as Akiko fell down. "Onii-san what's happening?"
Ahatake figure the truth would be better. "You're becoming a Hollow." He muttered.
"Huh?!" Shunsatsu immediately turned around completely, his gaze now off of Mozou again. "You can't be serious!" His voice was a bit nervous, as he looked down on her. She didn't look too good, as if she had gotten a very bad stomach flu. "How can she be turning into--"
Ahatake removed his mask. Mozou hadn't moved. Once again. very patient man. "Continued exposure to my reaitsu." He replied. "Kisuke can stabalize it, I know he can. Luckily her transformation is slow. We might be able to fend him off, flee, take her to Kisuke and have Tessai freeze her with Kido, and then have Kisuke stabalize it."
"How long does she have?"
"I'd say an hour. You know I'd beter get Tessai now."
"Don't take too long, I don't wanna have to ruin your fun before you come back..." Shunsatsu reminded, putting on a small smile and nodding his head over towards Mozou.
"She's more important than a battle." Ahatake reminded him. Besides Echo wold kill me if she became a Hollow. He thinks hollow's are trash." And then Ahatake took of, vanishing with a static sound.
"So where did he go?" Mozou asked.
"Oh, he's just off to run some errands." Shunsatsu replied, balancing the Shikai blade on his shoulder. "Don't worry, he'll be back quicker than you think." His voice had now regained that distinct politeness of his, now that the situation had calmed down a bit.
"And what's wrong with her?" Mozou asked.
He thought it over for a minute. "Oh, she just caught some sort of illness, I suppose." He replied honestly, shrugging his shoulders.
"Fine then I'm taking her off my list for the moment." He replied. "I don't attack ailing opponents. Now answer me this? Do you have a Bankai?"
His zanpakut returned to normal and his mask vanished. "Then I have no more use for you. We can continue this fight but I have no more use for you. The girl I seek. I shall find her...and kill her."
Shunsatsu bit his lip. "Who is this girl you speak of?" He asked patiently, placing one hand on his hip.
"Do you know her name?"
Shunsatsu nodded in understanding. "I see..." Then, he lifted the blade from his shoulders and pointed it at Mozou, eyes narrowing. "Whatever the case, none of us will stand by and watch while you absorb other people's powers. We will stop you."
"I see. Do you intend to fight me?"
"I see." The Vizard replied, and didn't even bother to pull on his mask. "Scatter Senbonzakura." His blade split into thousands of pink petals that he sent straight at his opponent. "I'll crush you, but I will let you live."
Shunsatsu's free hand pointed towards Mozou, dark electricity crackling in his fingertips. "Hado 90. Dark Coffin!" As soon as he said it, a black, box-like object immediately surrounded itself around Mozou, spikes forming at the corners.
But suddenly the box exploded and Mozou's hands were glowing red. "You don't have the power to use such a spell." He muttered sending the petals after him yet again.
"Heh...I just used it....guess it wasn't stable enough, though..." Shunsatsu leaped sideways, narrowly avoiding the cherry petals of death once more.
But they kept coming, faster this time.
It was absolutely ridiculous. Shunsatsu swung the cleaver blade in several directions, trying to keep them all at bay. But, it was no use, as they continued to slice at his skin, cutting deeper into already inflicted wounds. He shut one eye, pain flowing through his body. "Shit..."
The petals just kept cutting.
He tried to stand, but the sharp edge were acting like butter knives on his flesh. He let out a yell of pain, as he fell onto his back, his sword clattering away a few steps from his hands.
"Do you give up?" Mozou asked.
Gritting his teeth, Shunsatsu tried once again to stand. Blood spilled out of the wounds on his body like bad water, but he was stubborn, kneeling and using his blade to balance himself. "Can't do that..." He replied softly and whisperingly.
"I don't want to kill you, Shunsatsu."
"Whether you want to kill m-me... or not.... doesn't matter..." He slowly pulled himself up on his feet, body twinging in protest. "Y...you're just going to have to make sure I don't get up....otherwise.... I'll just keep standing in your way."
He once again pulled the large cleaver blade up into a defensive position.
"Then you leave me no choice." He held the sword in the air and let it drop. "Bankai."
The sword phased into the ground as though it were a pool of water, and ripples expanded, and two rows of giant blades rose from the ground.
"Scatter." The sword's burst into thousands of tiny petals all of them racing towards Shunsatsu.
He braced himself, preparing for another attempt to doge. Beads of sweat went down his forehead, mixing in with the crimson wounds that stained and stung his person. His hands gripped the hilt even tighter.
Suddenly flapping was heard as a hollow with a mask and dragon like horns emerged with Tessai on his back.
"Sorry I'm late Shunsatsu." The Hollow spoke
Shunsatsu, in return, sighed. "Thank God..." He muttered, lunging fiercely out of the way before the blossoms could swarm him completely.
But, as he landed back on his feet, he fell onto his knees again, the pain sending a temporary shock throughout his body. He could barely keep hold of his sword, while the other hand was on the ground, creating a crouching balance. "Nnn..."
Ahatake's Hollow form cracked and crumbled revealing him in his normal bankai state complete with mask.
The petals that were all around them suddenly swarmed back to Mozou in the form of a sword. He turned. "I'm done here. I got what I wanted. I;m have someone to find." And he vanished but his voice echoed, "Do not forget my name...."
Shunsatsu could only glance a second, before he fell back onto his stomach, sword returning to its normal state. He was breathing hard, as his vision began to get hazy, struggling not to turn to black just yet.
Ahatake rushed over to his friend and gave him one of teh special beans Kisuke made. "Eat, it will heal you."
Shunsatsu managed to turn himself over with strain, slowly reaching to take the bean from Ahatake's hands. After putting it into his mouth and eating it, he slowly felt the wounds inflicted on him began to seal, blood flow restoring, and any scars that were left behind disappearing.
He was amazed to say the least, as he looked at his hands, checking for any extra injuries. "I....I had no idea!" He exclaimed, pulling himself back up to his feet.
"You're welcome." Ahatake looked over his shoulder and saw green light, showing that Tessai was performing his Kido.
Shunsatsu's expression immediately turned into one of concern, as he looked over at Ahatake, a frown on his face. "How is she?" He asked, folding his arms across his chest.
"She'll be fine." Ahatake replied. "He's using Jikanteishi to halt time around her, then he's gonna use Kūkanten'i to transport her, and us to Kisuke's shop, where he will stabilize her transformation."
A deep breath was taken in, and let out as a heavy sigh. "I see..."
"Unfortunately, we'll have to deal with her hollow frequently taking over her body." Ahatake said grimly. "It'll be like having a pregnant wife around...only worse. Poor Echo."
"...." Shunsatsu didn't reply, his head turned back off towards the side where Mozou had disappeared. It seemed as if he had been a bit resentful, clearly of something. However, his eyes held a train of thought in them as well. What had happened?
But he didn't time to ponder this as suddenly they found themselves in teh basement of Kisuke's shop.
Once again, he was snapped back to the harsh reminder of reality. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily, putting his hands above his head. The next words out of his mouth would be quiet, but loud enough for them to hear:
"What?" Ahatake turned.
"You mean his next target?" Kisuke asked, walking in.
"He told me himself." The blue-clad man continued. "He said that he planned to kill her...."
"I see." Kisuke mused. "We'll continue this discussion later, I have to attend to Akiko." And he pulled out some glowing green orb.
Shunsatsu sighed roughly. "Well, since you don't need anymore help, I might as well be leaving, then. I've stayed out longer than I should have."
"Stay." Tessai commanded, as Kisuke began to place the orb over Akiko.
That brought a huff from Shunsatsu, as he lowered his arms back to a folding position on his chest. "Why? My unit's going to get pretty ticked if I stay out later than normal..." He murmured.
"Your assistance is needed more here than there." Tessai replied, and Shunsatsu didn't argue.
Ahatake waited nervously but it seemed to be taking awhile. Finally he fell asleep and when he awoke it was dawn.
"W..what'd I miss?" He asked groggily, and he looked around and saw Akiko sitting on the floor her eyes closed, with a menacing skull mask on her face, decorated with pink stripes. "So it worked?"
"Indeed." Kisuke replied. "I believe Shunsatsu has awoken as well."
As if on cue, Shunsatsu walked around the corner, rubbing the corners of his eyes in order to get the sleep out of them.
"G'morning." Ahatake yawned to him.
"Same to you..." Was the sleepy response back. "What'd I miss?"
"Nothing much." Ahatake replied sleepily. "Akiko came through." He pointed at his masked sister.
The boy's sleepy eyes drifted towards said sibling. Indeed, she had looked better than her previous state, breathing normal, and the traces of vomit were gone from her mouth. Though the mask covered her expression now, a sense of peace imminated from her person.
"I see..." His voice didn't sound too enthusiastic, however, as he simply stuffed his hands into his pockets.
"Now I can teach her to use cero and stuff." Ahatake's eyes glazed over then he looked terrified. "This is gonna be hell..." He muttered.
"Well, then..." Shunsatsu put a smile on his face. "I guess we'll be each having our own obstacles to tackle. Once I'm outta here, I'm off to base to learn Bankai."
"Alright." Ahatake replied. "We'll look for this Tereya person."
"Only problem is..." Shunsatsu sighed heavily, his eyes looking downwards in exasperation. "Where do we start looking...."
"We track down Mozou." Akiko replied and everyone turned.
"So you're awake..."
Shunsatsu simply watched in faint interest, as Akiko rose from her laying position. Strangely, with the mask, she looked a lot more like Ahatake, only... shorter. "Do you have any ideas on how to do that?" He pressed questioningly, cocking an eyebrow.
Akiko lifted her hand as she removed her mask, and they saw glittering rope. "Already done." She grinned.
"....What is she up to?" Shunsatsu thought in curiousity, putting his hands on the back of his head.
"Is your Hollow doing this, Akiko?" Ahatake asked.
"Partially." She replied. "We've agreed to be Symbiotic. What do you think I've been doing for the past hour? I've been talking to her. Her and Hitokage anyway...."
Shunsatsu rolled his eyes. "A Shinigami? Being symbiotic with a Hollow? That's new..."
"...yes you can..." Akiko muttered, and her fist connected with Shunsatsu's face.
Half of the pink and white mask had formed over her face for only an instant and then broke.
"That wasn't me." Akiko said laughing. "That was her."
"OW!" The Shinigami yelled, falling to the floor and clutching his face in pain. "GOD DAMN IT...."
Ahatake laughed as he helped his sister up. "Well shouldn't we get started on the tasks at hand?"
"I think you should." Kisuke replied.
"Just tell her to keep that Hollow of hers away from me..." Shunsatsu muttered, eyeing Akiko with a newfound respect. "I wanna keep my head on my shoulders."
Ahatake laughed but only for a moment but then both he and his sister swept their hands across their faces forming their masks.
"Let's go..." Ahatake muttered and tehy dashed off leaving Shunsatsu looking confused.