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(Note: This is Chapter 17 of the Return From Exile story arc.)
Ichigo is recovering from Akashi-Q’s first attack. “What was that? His blade…it passed right through mine,” he wondered out loud.
“My technique creates a blade that can pass throw solid matter,” he smiled. “Now feel it as its powers grow!” He leapt toward Ichigo, slashed through Zangetsu delivering an even stronger attack to Ichigo’s body.
“Gyah,” Ichigo groaned in pain. “ugh I can’t block his attack. Maybe this will work, Getsuga Tensho!” A wave of energy flew from his blade toward Akashi-Q. He held out his blade and stabbed into the middle of the technique it split and dissipated.
“That was an interesting attack but you should realize that every time my blade comes in contact with your spirit energy my next attack will become stronger!” he cut through Ichigo again.
“Aaagh!” he cried out.
“What a pathetic excuse for a shinigami.” Akashi-Q said, “I can’t believe how weak you are even as a substitute I was hoping you would give me a better fight than this.”
“You bastard,” Ichigo groaned, “You think this is my limit? I’ll show you. Bankai!” instantly there was a powerful release of energy. As Ichigo reappeared he was dressed in a black trench coat, with a much thinner blade in his hand.
“Bankai?” he questioned aloud, “from a substitute? Impressive. Though too bad I can’t expect more than I encountered from that lieutenant or the quincy that you saved.”
“So…you attacked my friends,” Ichigo began “and you think that you get away without anyone attacking you? Well you’re wrong!” he leapt at Akashi-Q, who lifted his blade preparing for another attack. As Akashi-Q attempted to slide his blade through Ichigo’s he felt the blades clash.
“What’s this?” their blades were pressed into one another, and even with the force his blade released Ichigo’s attack was holding strong. Akashi-Q pushed away. “How can your blade hold against my Straight Flush? It can pass through any solid object, its particles are vibrating at such a high frequency that they should be able to pass through the particles of your blade!”
Ichigo said smirking slightly, “Well then I guess you don’t understand the nature of my Bankai. It compresses my power into a smaller denser blade.”
“Compresses?” he said, “I see, most shinigami, when they release their Bankai have their power expanded by and their energy increases immensely. While you do have the increase in power, instead of expanding your power has compressed. That blade of yours has become too dense for my zanpakto to pass through it. Interesting.” The glow left his blade “I guess its pointless for me to use such a technique if it is ineffective. Lets end this shall we?”
“Sounds great,” Ichigo gripped the hilt of his blade tightly in both hands, “Now Getsuga Tensho!” a dark wave of energy flew toward him. Ichigo held up his hand as the cards that had delicately circled him during this time met to form a barrier just big enough to stop the attack.
“I see,” Akashi-Q mused, “its very interesting. I haven’t sensed it until now.”
“Haven’t sensed what?” Ichigo wondered.
“Your inner hollow,” Akashi-Q answered, “until now any power coming from it was minimal, but now that you have compressed your power it has become clear that deep within you resides a hollow spirit. Could you be…a vizard?”
“How could you know that I am a vizard or even what that is?” Ichigo asked him.
“I spent much time in Hueco Mundo and I know all to well what a hollow’s presence feels like. As for what I know about vizards. During my time in Hueco Mundo strange hollows began to appear, they appeared human like, and they were much stronger than any hollow I’d fought up to that point. I began to seek out their source. What I found was a soul reaper one I knew from my time in Soul Society. It was former captain Aizen.”
“You’ve seen Aizen?” Ichigo asked in shock.
“Well sort of, you see I was captured by some of these enhanced Hollows and he studied me. He said that he had a device that he was going to test on me, he called it the Hogyoku. I tried to resist but he used it all the same. As far as Aizen could tell it hadn’t worked, he muttered something about the device needed more time to mature, and had his hollows toss me into the Menos Forest, leaving me there to die.”
“So Urahara, was right to think that those arrancar that attacked us were imperfect, and not the real thing, that means we have time,”
“Never mind about any of that substitute. What you should realize is that eventually you will have to use your full power to defeat me, why don’t I show you! Waterfall!” His blade extended outward splitting into several ribbons wrapping themselves along Ichigo’s arms and legs. Another ribbon came flying out and pierced through Ichigo’s chest. Then the ribbons retracted into the original blade. “You won’t be able to defeat me as you are, and you know that. So what will you do substitute?”
“Grr,” Ichigo groaned. “My vizard power will only last a few seconds, but maybe it will be enough!” Ichigo made a scratching motion in front of his face, and a mask appeared over it. “Gyahh!” cried Ichigo in his hollow voice as he charged Akashi-Q, Slashing powerfully at him, Ichigo was using his full power. Akashi-Q was barely able to repel the attacks. Ichigo flash-stepped all around finally he managed to land an attack deep into Akashi-Q’s shoulder, cutting through the heart shaped tattoo. “Gotcha,” he said proudly as he pressed harder into Akashi-Q with his blade. “Now-“ suddenly a crack ran across his mask and it shattered. Suddenly Ichigo found himself standing there his blade returned to its shikai, still sitting in the cut in Akashi-Q’s shoulder.
“Times up,” Akashi-Q smiled, “I figured that you would run out of strength in that stage quickly, since your hollow power leaks into your normal attacks, you must still be new to trying to wield your powers. You haven’t mastered them, and as a result you’ve worn yourself out. Though admittedly you did manage to strike me but now its time for you to die!” He pushed Ichigo’s blade away from the cut with one finger, then he knocked back Ichigo, and appeared behind him with his own zanpakto at Ichigo’s neck.
And at that moment, Akashi-Q looked in the direction of Akashi-K… something was happening…
Previous Chapter: The Blade of a Demon against the Untouchable Blade.