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Six Gun Quota: Second Reunion of the Kurosaki

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This article, Six Gun Quota: Second Reunion of the Kurosaki, is property of Achrones150.

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New Allies

Although everyone was awake, the base was quiet. Their number had dropped by two. One captured and killed, one killed in battle. Azami was still hanging around Taiki, more often now since Holgazan was dead.

"Tai, why haven't you had any missions for us?" She asked curiously.

It was at that time the white-haired male was lost in thought, sitting in a comfortable position in his favorite chair. His eyes had been closed, and it appeared as if he was simply asleep in the main room. However, in reality he was thinking long and hard about something, and that something happened to be his relatives.

Yet, his answer was totally different from such thoughts. "I'll answer that if you can answer me this, Azami - do you know just how exactly a Garganta works?"

"I'm a Shinigami, Tai." Azami replied. "How would I know?"

"Because..." Slowly, Taiki moved his head towards the girl, his eyes studying her intently. He held a neutral expression on his face, showing no annoyance, no cheerfulness. Whatever emotions he had at the moment were hidden. "You've hung around Holgazán for the longest out of all of the Jinchuu. You've picked up some understanding on how he himself uses the Garganta to move to and fro from this base."

"Well I may have learned something here and there." Azami said evasively. "Why?"

"Because...I have something to show you..."

It was seconds afterwards, that the sound of static flashed in their eardrums twice. On the opposite side of Azami, the seductive figure of Lujuria had appeared, hand on her hip, and a smile clear on her face. "Or, maybe I don't need to..." Taiki noted, turning his gaze towards her. "How is it?"

Lujuria nodded slightly. "The portal's almost ready. Care to follow me...?"

"With pleasure."

Without pausing to make sure her commander was behind her since she knew already, Lujuria turned and walked out of sight behind another doorway. After getting up, Taiki raised one hand in a "come on" gesture towards Azami before he turned around and followed.

Azami had a curious expression on her face as she got up and followed her leader. But her true feeling was apprehension. What did Taiki want to show her?

It wasn't a very long walk.

Within minutes, the Arrancar had led them to an open area which looked like the outside. What would've taken anyone by amazement was the fact that everything was a dusty orange - the ground, the sky, and even fragments of the clouds were bathed in the afternoon sun color. A constant wind was blowing, but not enough to hinder their motor movements.

However, there was one thing that was out of place - a massive swirling portal that was right in front of their eyes. The other side appeared to be another city-like civilization similar to the Soul Society, only it appeared to be more modern and mechanized.

"What's that place, Tai?" Midoriko asked, looking closely at the portal.

"For now, I'll only say that it's one that we will get new allies." Taiki explained, sliding his hands into his pockets and eyeing the civilization below them. "Ones that have much more effective fighting methods than the Shinigami and Arrancar here."

"Sounds interesting." Azami said with a smile. "But why'd you need to know about a Garganta?"

"Just wondering..."

"Alright." Azami said as she walked over to Taiki and put her arms around his neck again. "And why did I need to know about this place?"

A skeptical frown and the raise of an eyebrow was seen on Taiki's face as he felt the embrace of his subordinate. "Because they will be coming here pretty soon, after this visit." Discreetly, he nodded over to Lujuria again. "But first..."

Suddenly, he leaped!

Hundreds of feet into the air, he along with his companion were descending downwards towards the city without a care in the world. "We're going to be visiting!"

Azami's eyes widened. "What the hell???"


"Leader."

In the capital building of the mechanical city, a small conversation was taking place. At the very top of it was an office-like room, the size comparable to that of a mansion chamber. In it were several bodyguards, one of them having addressed the authorative standing dead-center between them... or rather, some sort of pillar that served as communication between the leader and his bodyguards.

"What is it? I am very busy right now!"

Undeterred, the bodyguard who spoke up continued his speech. "Around the city a fair distance away, we have been getting immediate disturbances in the atmosphere. Foreign spiritual energy is traveling through it at an alarming rate."

The leader's voice was silent for a moment, but only for a moment. "Again? That's the fourth time...." An aggravated sigh was heard in response. "Go have some of your men check it out, and be quick about it. I'm getting quite tired of these constant--"

At that moment, the doors to the room swung open, interrupting whatever conversation they were having at the moment. The leader guard's eyes widened, and he spun around to face the figures stepping through here.

"Wha--"

It was Taiki, Azami, and Lujuria, Taiki having a cheerful smile on his face.

Azami was still clutching onto Taiki like her life depended on it. She felt slightly sick. "Wh..where the hell are we?" She groaned.

As the guards readied their weapons out of alarm, the leader's voice spoke out of fury. "Who in the hell are you three?! Scum like you do not belong in my chambers!!"

As if they were no threat, Taiki stepped forward, though careful not to jog his passenger too much. Then, after gripping the hilt of his Zanpakuto and drawing it, he held it so that the blade was pointing horizontally for good viewing pleasure. "A mere man who wishes to ask something of you, oh great manager of this city." He replied coolly.

Azami was looking on with wide eyes. What was he planning to do exactly?

"And what makes you think I would give in to such demands?!" The voice demanded.

"Maybe if you saw what was outside of this society of yours, you'd see a much bigger expansion waiting within your reach." Taiki explained. "I can't help but wonder if you tire of having such a small and measly city to control, not enough power..." To Azami, he discreetly whispered, "For your safety, it is best to either take cover, or follow my lead. Either way, you'll have to get off of me."

"Awww..." Azami hopped off his back. "I'll stand next to Lujuria. I'll help you if you need it." She replied and walked off to stand next to the other woman.

"Insolent punk... how dare you barge in here and insult me and this civilization?! Guards, kill him! Slaughter all three!!--"

Before he could finish his sentence, Taiki had already made the first move. With his free hand, he had yanked out a small device and threw it onto the floor, even as some began to charge at all three. But once it hit the ground...

BANG!

Everything went dark for a second, but the only ones who could see were the three intruders. Taiki only whispered one thing:

"Smoke 'em."

SLASH! SLASH! SLASH!

When vision came once again, the majority of those guards were now lying in pieces on the floor. Both Taiki's and Lujuria's swords were now caked in blood, and yet neither of them had seemed to move at all from their positions. The leader himself was shocked, the rest of the guards too stunned to follow their comrades' lead.

"Wha....what?! How?!"

Azami was staring with wide-eyes. Tai and Lujuria were stronger than she had thought that was for sure. And she hadn't even done anything to help out Taiki. But then she didn't need too. He was doing just fine on his own.

"Just as I have the power to kill your elite guards...." Taiki said softly, swinging the blade to sling the blood off before sheathing it again. "I have the power to bring this entire station to its knees. Now... how about we work out a deal...?"


Half an hour later, those three were walking calmly out of the building and back towards the portal. Through some negotiation (and a little bit of threatening), Taiki had managed to pursuade "the Voice" as he preferred to put it in order for a "treaty" between the Jinchuu and the government. Now with the matter of official allies settled, he was now a step closer to achieving his true goal.

"I think that went pretty well..." He said in a mirthful manner, all three having stepped through the portal and back to their base. "Don't you think?"

Azami looked disappointed. "I didn't manage to help at all.." She muttered looking at the ground.

"That was our fault." Lujuria's hand pressed itself onto her head in an affectionate manner. "We didn't let you in on the idea, so you didn't know what to do. Sorry about that..." The Arrancar apologized, putting on a small smile to emphasize.

Azami smiled back. "I just wasn't paying close enough attention." She replied, brushing off Lujuria's self blame. "I just have to pay better attention next time."

"Glad to hear that..." Taiki added, putting on a small smile of his own. His feet, however, were directing him away from the two women and in an opposite direction. "I'll be away for a little while. Lujuria, could you watch Azami for me?"

"Certainly..."

"I'm not a child, Tai, I don't need to be watched." Azami replied huffily.

"Funny." Taiki teased. "'Cause you remind me of my daughters, the way you act." With that, he turned the corner and disappeared.

Azami sighed. "I'll get him for that.." She murmured.

Parting Has Never Been Such Sweet Sorrow

Midoriko was running through the forests of the Soul Society. She had nothing to do, so she decided she might as well go look for Lujuria. Maybe she could find her around here.

A fair distance away, Taiki had already positioned himself as usual on a sturdy tree branch, not too high above the ground, but still high enough for an over watch. In his arms, he was holding what looked like some sort of instrument... but what kind? It was about to be found out...

He sat himself down comfortably, leaned against the tree trunk, and put the instrument horizontally in front of him. One hand gripped one end, while an arm hung over the other.

Midoriko yawned as she ducked a branch. "Why does she make herself so hard to find?" She muttered, nearing the area where Taiki was and not even noticing.

He began to play.

It was soon known that the instrument he was playing was an acoustic guitar. It was as if he had become a fish into water - every note was played with accuracy and beauty to the ears, and his fingers moved so quickly. It was apparent that he had been practicing, at least out of his relatives' watchful eyes.

Midoriko's ears caught the music and she closed her eyes for a moment. It was indeed beautiful music, but she had never known anyone to play so she could not truly judge. Who was playing it?

Taiki's own voice began to sound along with the guitar playing, in perfect harmony.

"The light was leaving, in the west it was blue,

The children's laughter sang, and skipping just like the stones they threw,

"The voices echoed across the way..."

"It's getting late..."

Midoriko's eyes widened. She barely recognized the voice, but knew instantly who it was. Her brother was here. She saw the outline of a person and kep moving, his long white hair coming into view first.

"It was just another night, with the sun set and the..."

"...moon rise not so far behind, to give us just enough light..."

"To lay down underneath the stars, listen to Papa's translations..."

"Of the, stories across the sky, we drew our own constellations..."

With that, a small guitar solo played itself out, courtesy of Taiki's fret fingers.

"Well, my dear brother, I didn't know you could sing like that." Midoriko said from behind him.

He could feel her presence on the branch just behind his, separated by the thick tree trunk. He could probably guess what position she was in: leaning against the bark in a "cool kid" position, arms folded across her chest. He chuckled to himself - she always did try to play the tough girl...

"Constellations by artist Jack Johnson." He replied, smiling as he rested the guitar on his lap. "He's quite the acoustic player..."

Midoriko smiled, a genuine smile, which should have shocked Taiki. "I always thought only Mother and I could sing."

Taiki scoffed lightly. "You women aren't the only ones who can carry a tune." He said boastfully.

"Never pegged you for a singer." Midoriko replied mockingly. "So why aren't you with your posse?"

"My 'posse' is where they should be, no where else." The man stated cryptically, the smile fading, and his eyes half-lidding. "I came here for some peace and quiet... though, I suppose with you here now, that's not going to happen."

Midoriko put on an expression of mock hurt. "Not happy to see your little sister?" She asked.

"Well, I can't say it's a pleasant surprise." Slowly, Taiki lifted himself up to stand on the tree branch, leaning his hand against the tree bark. The neck of the guitar was held in his other hand. "Not much of a surprise, or truthfully very pleasant."

"Jerk." She muttered sitting cross legged. "I'll remember you weren't happy to see me come your birthday."

"Like my birthday matters now. I have things much more important to worry about."

"Like what?" She asked laughing. "Getting your name added as the new definition to "evil"?"

"Oh, how clever." The man said in a monotone and dry voice. His arms folded themselves across his chest. "Was that supposed to be sarcastic?"

"Smart of you to notice." She replied, smiling dryly

"....I know you didn't expect to find me." It was a hopeful change of subject, in order to get straight to the point. "Were you looking for my subordinate Lujuria?"

"What makes you ask?" Midoriko replied icily.

Now her tone was re-gaining the hostility he recognized from so long ago. A small smile of amusement came across Taiki's expression. "It was a question out of curiosity... but with that tone of yours, I can't help but wonder if you've actually taken a liking to her..."

Midoriko's face turned red and they clashed magnificently with her eyes, which repeated the same phenomenon. "It's none of your business."

"When my subordinates are involved..." His head looked over his shoulder, although he could only see part of her due to the bark blocking the way. His eyes were rather serene, and a neutral curve was made of his mouth. "I do believe it is of my business. You see, such a pathetic infatuation would not phase Lujuria any. She is the symbolization of Lust, made to tempt and decieve. What you're allowing yourself to be is a mere puppet along her finger."

Midoriko brushed this comment off, and her eyes glowed deep crimson. "Can you do your little sister a favor?" She asked in a voice as sweet as she could make it.

"Going to remain ignorant? I see now Echo was right..." Was the white-haired man's thought. He frowned deeply and closed his eyes, turning his head to face forward again. "If it's not too stupid, then I guess I can spare my time."

"I want to know why your doing what your doing?" Midoriko asked, her tone suddenly sharp and business like. "Why did you betray out family and sic a mind controlled Injiki on Dad. I want to know everything."

"Everything?"

The repeat of the emphasized word caused Taiki to chuckle to himself, though it could be heard by Midoriko. "I suppose I was influenced a bit by you, on that part..." He said softly.

"What makes you say that?" She asked, the crimson in her eyes darkening, so it looked like blood.

"Several years ago, you weren't the woman that you are now." Taiki explained, raising a hand up chest-level to emphasize. His fingers were curled up slightly. "You were cold-hearted, focused on nothing but the concept of gaining more power. Your goal was something that I began to share as well. But, of course..."

He sighed, almost regretfully. "You started to deter away from that. You began to focus more on your uncontrollable love for your sensei Kyashi-san, and when you killed her, I felt your regret. That was when I knew you were no longer the determined idol I looked up to... just a self-lying and confused little girl."

Midoriko hissed. The hiss was low and carried on even after her mouth stop moving. "Are you insulting me?"

"Just telling you like it is. Unlike you, who was so willing to stray away after simply killing the one you loved, I pushed forward." His eyes seemed to darken as he spoke. "I had to endure pains you wouldn't even begin to comprehend... I saw hell, my own body being twisted and turned like a wet rope, my mind being speared over and over again. I took it all for that one purpose."

"I must have been ill that day." Midoriko replied, sarcasm and contempt in her voice. "What hells have you endured?"

"Nothing I can say out loud, for it would soil this very land." Taiki said cryptically. "But, my point remains. The reason I have "betrayed" you all is because of that one thing - power. A power that will overturn the corrupt events of this afterlife and purge the evil from this land."

Midoriko sighed, her eyes losing their red coloring. This was a good sign. It seemed she had lost the desire to kill her brother. "...Not that is probably matters to you, but I guess I can't hate you. Power is what we Kurosaki's desire, so hating you would probably just make me a hypocrite. But what the hell are you planning?"

The white-haired male smiled in amusement. "I'm afraid that is for you to figure out... or better yet, witness in the near future."

"C'mon you can't share information with your sister?" She asked. "If I like how it sounds, I could help you ya know. The reason we all are pissed at you is because of what you did. Went with that jerk Jiriki and didn't even give us a reason why you left."

"You wouldn't have understood." Taiki said dismissively, with a wave of his hand. "Besides, if I told you all right away, there would be no point in having you figure it out on your own... that is, if you can get past your instinctual thinking that I am "evil"..."

Midoriko sighed. "Depending on what you tell me, I may decide here and know that you are not evil. Maybe your just a man with a purpose. How will I know if you never tell me?"

"Didn't I just tell you a minute ago what my reason was? Don't tell me you forgot so quickly..."

"I know what your reason is." Midoriko sighed. "I want to know your goal, plans whatever you want to call it." She waved a hand dismissively.

Taiki couldn't help but sigh out of annoyance as well. "If you didn't hear what I was saying, then it's not worth repeating." He stated.

"Fine then." She sighed, and her eyes flashed scarlet. "How about this? You fight me and if I win you tell me!"

"Even if you do win against me, I'm afraid I don't make deals with my enemy." Taiki said in smooth refusal. But his hand reached over and gripped the hilt of his own Zanpakuto in preparation. Slowly, he closed his eyes and allowed darkness to consume his vision. "Further more... if you insist on raising your sword to me..."

His hand reached over to the top of the hilt in a change of position to unlock the sword from scabbard with his thumb. "I'll kill you right here and now." He finished.

Midoriko looked at himm scowling. "I'm not your enemy, I'm family."

"That's a funny thing for you to say. We were family several years ago, and yet you had no problem fighting me with the intent to kill. Has that little chance of redemption vanished as well...?"

Midoriko sighed. "People change you know. And I want to know what you're planning and I will fight you to get the information I want!"

Taiki raised his free arm up in a shrug, a slight frown on his face once more. "Try as you might, but your reward will be your own death. Who knows?... maybe if you wait long enough, your beloved Kyashi will come to follow, and you can spend the rest of your lives together..." He mocked softly, the images of such actions already forming in his mind.

Midoriko laughed, a high cold laugh, similar to the one her aunt used when exhilarated in battle. "Taiki, you can't kill me. I've been training, and I've mastered my Bankai. You have no chance."

"Then stop talking and come on. After all, you're the challenger...."

Rivalry

"Such manners." She hissed and drew her sword. One instant she was there. The next she had vanished and reappeared in front on Taiki, swinging her blade down.

He flicked his thumb.

In that sudden movement of one finger, he had forced his sword to lurch out of its sheath. However, his goal was not to block the attack - but to delay it.

As Midoriko swung her sword down, the hilt of his sword slammed into the sinus area of her head to stun her with. Bending low, Taiki let go of his sword and delivered a left blow to the stomach, then a right uppercut to the chin to throw her out of harm's way.

Feeling pain in three different areas of her body, Midoriko was nearly stunned. She quickly snapped out of it though, knowing Taiki would not give her time to rest. She quickly shot a incantation-less Sokatsui spell at Taiki, hoping it would hit him head on.

His hand flying towards his sword once more, he lunged forward, sidestepping slightly to avoid the Sokatsui spell directed his way. The next move he was making was one of battōjutsu - the fact that his sword was still sheathed, along with his speed, made it much more difficult to perceive his next attack. As he came within sword's range once more, his blade made a hissing sound as it started to slide out of the scabbard...

Midoriko swing her blade directly down on the guard, applying her strength to keep Taiki from fully unsheathing it though this proved difficult and it required both her hands. She focused her last bit of concentration that was devoted to preventing the sword from being drawn, to kicking Taiki in the gut.

The moment her foot raised upwards, Taiki leaned back. The foot connected, but just out of reach of his lungs in order to protect precious air from being forced out. In that lean back, he spun around in a pivot, sword finally unsheathing itself to the world. As he came back around in his 360-degree spin, his sword was swung in a sportsmanlike backhand straight towards Midoriko's neck.

There was a flash of metal, and Taiki's blade was blocked by Midoriko's and she pushed back away from him. "Damn..." She thought. "He has..too much power. Has love really made me... weak?"

"You see it now, don't you?"

Even as he grabbed the blade with both of his hands, took a step foward, and swung as if his blade had rebounded off of a wall, he once again spoke to her. "You see, no matter how much you hated me before, in the end we both are alike." He said softly. "My methods may prove to be odd compared to yours, but it cannot be hidden that we both strive for the same thing. All this time, you've been hiding your true potential with obstacles such as your affections. I know you better than that, sister..."

Midoriko growled. "Shut up." She charged at him, blade raised, and swung it down ready to slice off his shoulder.

A tactical error.

In ignoring Taiki's counter-attack, she had allowed his blade to cut through the side of her neck and drive itself down through the upper chest. It wasn't clean either - due to Taiki's pulling of the blade back, a lot of blood was forced out onto the ground in all of its glory. Had he went any further with his range, she would've been cut in two pieces.

"You can't even predict my movements anymore, even when they're right in front of you..." He scolded in a lamenting tone. "Have your senses dulled that much since we were away? Have you truly become so weak...?"

Midoriko was bleeding profusely and she didn't seem to be able to halt it. "What..did you..call me??"

"I called you nothing but sister." Taiki replied, raising his blade to a defensive stance in one hand. "However, I asked you if you truly were weak or not. If you're strong, you should have no problem fighting me. If you are weak, you will fall prey to Zainin. I'll ask you again..."

He stared into her eyes solemnly. "Are you strong... or are you weak?"

The sclera of Midoriko's eyes began to darknen as her iris's turned Golden. She raised a hand to her face, donning her mask. "I'm stronger than you think!" She fired a cero at Taiki, the golden beam of death speeding towards him.

"You say so..."

His figure vanished out of the way, re-appearing back-to-back with Midoriko. His long white hair tickled the back of her neck due to their proximity. "...and yet, your heart is filled with doubt now. Are you lying to yourself once again?"

"Stop being annoying." Midoriko replied, moving away from him, and to her surprise, her wound seemed to be...knitting. It looked as if someone was there, sewing it back together.

Abruptly turning around, his sword reached out, intercepted her path before she could go further from his arms' reach. Grabbing the edge of her sword, he penned her in with himself and forced her closer. This time, his chest was pressed against her back, his sword blade acting as a blockade to keep her from getting out. "I'm speaking the truth! If you do not toss aside that petty thing that is your ruling emotions, then you will never defeat me!" He roared, voice backed up with seeming fury and venom. "If you keep acting like this, I will kill--!!"

To emphasize his last words, his forehead lunged and slammed into the back of her head in order to stun her.

"--you!!"

Then, letting go of his sword, his hands pulled back, clasped together, and swung themselves down onto the back of Midoriko's skull in a brutal hand-to-hand fashion. The blow had enough force behind it to knock her on her masked face. As if he had gone wild, Taiki continued to beat her down, his blows raining down on her body three times.

"Not even your precious teacher wants to look at you because of what you've become!!"

He reached down, grabbed a fistful of her hair, pulled her up, and delivered two blows directly to the throat. "Nothing but a shell of the darkness you once were!" He added, punching three subsequent blows to the stomach. With a final grunt, he threw her down roughly onto the ground again. "Go on... crawl back to the family that is so blinded by fighting and power. Crawl back to your shameful life. If you can't get past that... you have no business fighting me."

'"I don't...like...to be...touched.." She murmured as she got up and her fist collided right with his jaw, cracking a few of his teeth. She grabbed him by the neck and threw him into a tree. Her spiritual pressure rose, and began to take the form of a demon behind her.

The strength of the blow surprised him, and he felt the pain of the few teeth being damaged. As her hand came to grips around her neck, he immediately pressed both hands onto the wrist in order to keep her from strangling off his air. But he could do nothing as he was thrown, resulting in him plowing through the tree.

She kept moving, and despite the rage she was in, she appeared as if she was skating across the ground, which matched cold aura she was emitting. She raised her fist as she caught up to him and slammed it into his stomach.

Immediately, the ground below Taiki's body was pressured in, causing a small crater to form due to the strength of the blow. However, at the time it took to catch up to him, he managed to get one hand to the spot where his stomach was. A small orb of blue reiatsu had formed at the back of the hand, intercepting Midoriko's blow from possibly punching a hole through him.

With a firm but small thrust of his hand, he forced Midoriko off with just enough time to get back on his feet again.

It could have very well been winter. Midoriko's spiritual pressure was as cold as a snowstorm and her glare as hot as a furnace. "You really feel like fighting to the death?" She asked maliciously. "I'll be more than happy to oblige."

For the first time, a smile came across Taiki's face, even as he walked over past her. He leaned over to gently pick up his sword which had fallen to the ground, once again holding it defensively across his chest with one hand. "Yes... come at me with everything you've got. I won't even give you a chance to use Hineko."

"I won't give you a chance to stop me." She replied icily. She gripped her blade and as her spiritual pressure rose, the ground began to crack. "I take after Dad you know." She turned on the spot and vanished with a CRACK! reappearing at Taikis feet and she slashed her blade upward.

Quickly, Taiki pulled himself into a backflip, evading the attack with his own agility. When he landed on his feet, he raised his finger and fired a Sokatsui spell of his own at her form.

She caught the spell in her hand using sheer power, and slammed it into the ground, and threw her blade up into the air, firing a cero with her free hand.

Gripping his blade with two hands, Taiki prepared himself for the oncoming blast. However, he was in for a surprise - when it connected with his defenses, he was immediately pushed back, almost gliding on the ground with his feet.

Midoriko's eyes narrowed under her mask as her scowl became more pronounced, though invisible to Taiki. She increased the power of the Cero, her intentions were to disintegrate her brother.

This time, Taiki's eyes widened in shock.

But, in his position, he could do nothing as the Cero blast enveloped his figure, vanishing within an instant. The Cero finally exploded on contact, causing the bright light to envelop the area.

The End Of My Rope

Midoriko didn't move from her spot, but she did removed her mask. "Come out." She muttered as the black faded from her sclera. "I know you're not dead. Not from an attack like that."

There was silence on the other end. As the smoke began to clear, however, there was no sign of Taiki anywhere, his reiatsu gone from the immediate vicinity. All that remained was her own reiatsu both from the attack and her own body.

But Midoriko didn't move. "Come out." She spoke harshly.

SPLURCH!

Out of the blue, a lone black blade tore through Midoriko's back and out of her chest - right where her heart was. Behind her was his cool voice, and even colder breath. "Ato Teki Boueisen..." He whispered. "Behind Enemy Lines."

Midoriko's mask cracked as blood poured from her mouth. She fell down and hit the ground and blood seeped from the wound on her chest. Though she seemed dead, the cold aura she was giving off...had not faded..

Slowly, Taiki approached her, sword sealing its inner spirit's powers back into itself and reverting to the crook blade that it once was.

It was tactical thinking that once again came to his rescue - having been forced away from Midoriko by such a distance, he had been able to state his release command without the worry of her being alerted. It was all that was needed to use the said Ato Teki Boueisen - a technique which allowed him to hide under the shadow of an opponent's reiatsu... or in this case, an attack's reiatsu.

When his feet stopped, he was directly looming over her, a serene, but eerie look in his eyes. He could safely assume her Hollow was starting to come to the surface. In order to prevent a much harder battle, he would have to finish her off quickly. And since he had already cut through her heart...

He raised his blade over his head, in the style of an executioner. He poised it just so that it would be aimed at the neck when he swung it. Then, with the threat of decapitation at his side, he swung down, the very wind being cut in two by the power he brought.

A hand came up and caught the blade. The very air began to chill and it was a wonder the area wasn't freezing. "You didn't think you could off us that easily?" Midoriko said in a very audible whisper.

He had been too late.

Now the beast inside of her had awakened, there was nothing Taiki could do unless her sister pushed against the control of it. This theory, to him, sounded almost impossible - unless she wasn't the coward that their father was, she would simply stand by and let the Hollow do whatever sort of damage it wanted, and she didn't even have to lift a finger. More importantly, he would have to take into effect the berserker style the inner Hollows were known for, being unpredictable in its own nature.

He couldn't let anything be taken to chance now.

With a rough tug, he slid the blade out of Midoriko's hands and jumped backwards, skidding two feet away. He raised his swords in a defensive manner, teeth gritted, and expression contorted to one of concentration. "No." He said dryly in response to the Hollow's reply. "My family is known for their stubborn refusal to die, after all."

Midoriko turned around towards him and her face was partially covered in her mask. Her chest wound has also been sealed.. "It's over for you now, Kurosaki Taiki." She grinned, and was about to charge but before she could even move, her hand moved of it's own accord, gripping the half of the mask covering her face.

"Now now now, I'm not letting you interfere. This is between me and my dear brother."

"Damn!! Not again!!" Midoriko screamed. "Why must you always interfere???"

"...." If anything, Taiki's expression faded to that of a comical pointed one, having not expected the sudden interruption. "Guess I don't need to worry about that, after all." He thought.

Midoriko looked as if she had been thrust into a tank of acid as the mask was ripped off. "Shimata.." She muttered as she clutched her Zanpakuto for support. "Damn I hate that thing. Always popping up at the wrong intervals."

If he knew she would've gotten back up so easily, he would've used the Ouda Shoshite Tousou on her. It was a serious tactical error that if hadn't been made, would've ended the fight quickly. Now he would find another way to overwhelm her.

A bit of frustration came through his eyes. Oh, if those wounds hadn't healed up, he could've opened them up a bit more... that option was gone now as well. All he could do now was continue to fight and think along the way...

Midoriko shook her head as though trying to rid her hair of water. She clutched her blade. "Burn...Hitokage!" She said in a commanding voice and the blade warped into it's shikai form, sleek, black, shiny and ablaze.

Taiki merely stared on, a solemn look having gained in his expression. His own twin blades were gleaming under the dim light of the fire being given off by Midoriko's Shikai, waiting for their chance to be raised into battle once more. He didn't move just yet, his stance not faltering for an instant.

Then, without warning, he kicked into a Flash Step and re-appeared behind her, swinging one of his blades at her neck.

She blocked the strike quickly and jumped back, leaving a trail of fire in her wake. "Still to fast.."

He pursued her.

His feet moved forward, his wrists moving everywhere. His blades continued to flash in front of him as he attacked like a mongoose on a snake, swinging his blades in a continuous and changing pattern.

She continued to block and move back. She raised her blade and a flash of white light emerged from it, her intentions to blind Taiki.

"Damn it...!"

Too embersed in his attack to stop suddenly, his eyes were instantly greeted by the horrifyingly brilliant light, and he was forced to relent. One arm raised to his eyes in an attempt to shield himself from being blinded. But, affected or not, he was still unable to see the figure of Midoriko any longer.

Midoriko took advantage of this and charged at him, and pointed her blade at his gut, intending to spear him with it.

This time, it was Taiki's turn to be cut.

He could only afford to do a measly sidestep, but the blade ripped through the side of his abdomen, only barely missing the vital part. But pain rocketed through this body, and his ears could hear the sound of his innard flesh sizzling. His face contorted to one of agony, his eyes shutting, and his mouth letting out a loud groan of pain.

"No...!"

In an attempt to keep his vision from swimming, he staggered back in an effort to remove himself from the blade, one of his own blades swinging itself forward towards her.

It cut into her arm and she hissed as she drew back. If he had been able to see that would have been much worse.

Now having pulled himself off of the fiery brand, Taiki once again raised his swords up. However, the burning ache in his side made his balance go slightly astray. He was breathing deeply in an attempt to quell the pain, his chest heaving in and out.

Midoriko laughed and she brandished her blade. "Are you done Taiki?" She asked. "Or should I maybe cut off a few limbs?"

Taiki's eyes narrowed in a cold-hearted glare. As well as the pain, a bit of anger was beginning to flare up; to share a rivalry during their childhood had an affect on him. As much as he had talked down Midoriko, the fact that she was laughing at him only made him infuriated. He was tempted to attack blindly once again, but he held fast, for he knew his wound would only get in his way.

"You...bitch..." He managed to say.

Midoriko laughed again, more coldly. She raised her blade and launched a massive ball of fire at her brother.

Forcibly, he raised one of his blades to meet with the fireball, aiming the other one at his sister. His signature attack came into play; the fireball came through in its original form in one blade and fired out the other blade as a beam.

Midoriko dodged it as gracefully as she could. "Reflection.." She murmured. "I forgot."

"Midoriko."

Even though Taiki was still breathing heavily, he had managed to regain some breath to speak with. "You wanted to know... what my plans are in order to reach my goal now, didn't you?"

"Correct." She replied simply.

What a blunt child.

"The truth is, I can't really say." The man said, whatever hostility he had retained before seemingly vanished. "But, I can say one thing for sure... something that you will come to appreciate."

"Then tell me." Midoriko replied, her cold aura and manner not wavering for an instant.

"When they're done..." Despite his subsiding but still-there pain, Taiki balanced both blades over his shoulders. "Jinchuu will be no more."

Midoriko's expression was unreadable. "What do you mean, Jinchuu will be no more?"

"Exactly what I say." A scoff came from Taiki's lips. "Unless, of course, you're too stupid to figure out at least that..." He mocked.

"So you're using the Jinchuu for your own purposes?" She asked.

"I'd say so..."

With that single word, he hefted the blades off of his shoulders, glancing down at each one of them. "Jiriki's intentions were never completely clear, and now that he's gone, I'm free to do whatever I wish. Something that Arturo would've had if not for his death..." He mused.

Midoriko grinned. "Well it seems you have certainly....thought things through." She replied. "I'm thinking of just sitting back and watching your goals play out."

"You're thinking of it..." Taiki pressured. "But will you?"

She sighed. "Well. I'll convince Dad and the others not to keep looking for you." She replied. "Dad always gives me what I want anyway. And you're mom's favorite so she'd love en excuse to stop fighting you."

It was like a burden had been lifted off of his shoulders. For the first time ever, he allowed a genuine smile to across his face. "Thank you, Mido-chan." He said softly, squinting his eyes shut to add to his mirthful expression.

Midoriko smiled at her old nickname. "Just do one thing in return, Onii-san."

"Hm?"

"Visit Aoi and Kyuui." She replied. "They'd be happy to see you in a moment that didn't involve battle."

As long as they didn't attack him on sight, he would be proud.

His Shikai sealed itself once more, and he promptly sheathed the blade. His eyes had closed normally now, the smile still on his face. Now that his family was out of the way, there was still the matter of the Jinchuu. It would take some time, but it would not be impossible.

There was one thing he would regret, once he completed that phase.

Azami.

Epilogue

Two young children were walking, acompanied by a taller man and a taller woman. The white haired child reached for the hand of the brown haired child, where a diamond ring glittered.

Isshou blushed as he gripped Awai's hand.

Adolpho cleared his throat for a moment, and Esmeralda moved towards towards the two. "It seems there's been a change of plan." She spoke slowly and clearly.

"What do you mean?" Awai asked, his expression cold.

"We will not be attacking the Jinchuu after all." Esmeralda replied and in reply to their questioning looks, she said "They don't have much time left. The Jinchuu will soon be no more."

Adolpho opened a garganta and motioned to Esmeralda. "Good bye." She replied.

Awai didn't move for a moment, and Isshou was the first to speak. "What do we do now?"

"We keep tabs on Taiki anyway." Awai replied. "Just to be safe.."

The End

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