This article, The Dancing of Petals and Cards, the Battle of the Brothers Ends, is property of Suicuideking.

(Note: This is Chapter 18 of the Return From Exile story arc.)

As the battles progressed, Akashi-K and Byakuya attack each other within the wall of swords…

Their blades continue to clash over and over. Suddenly each stops several yards apart from each other. “Akashi,” Byakuya said sternly, “do you understand the consequences of your return, don’t you know what will happen to you? You will be put to death!”

“And who will carry out that task brother?” Akashi-K asked, “Will you do it? Will you kill me…in defense of the Seireitei’s laws?”

“Akashi,” Byakuya began, “you are my brother, but what you have done now has gone far beyond what you were accused of so many years ago, and if I must destroy you in order to end this madness, so be it.” He lowered his head, and held out his blade releasing his grasp the blade returned to its state as several lotus blades. “I was hoping it would not come to this, I used this technique against the substitute once but it has become more powerful since. Now… Shukei Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.” Holding his hand out all of the blades surrounding them became petals once more. The petals poured into the palm of his hand turning the glow of energy in his hand from pink to white. As this process completed he grasped the sword that had formed there

A look of fear came into Akashi-K’s eyes as he looked upon his brother, and enormous white wings of energy came from his back and a halo formed behind him. Each of the other Akashi’s was disturbed from their own battles when they sensed this power. “This technique.” Akashi mumbled.

“…is the full compression of my Senbonzakura Kageyoshi’s powers into a single blade. It is the Final form of my Bankai and is its truest state. Brother if you believe you can defeat me as you are, then you are as much a fool now as you were before you left!”

Akashi-K snapped from his entranced state. “It seems that it is time to end this then, eh brother? Fine High Card Randamu Kado Jisatsu Kingu!” The other versions of Akashi immediately appeared along side him injuries and all, from left to right they stood there, A, 10, K, Q, J each placed an arm on another and they all began to glow a deep red, the forms then melded together, and as they reformed on Akashi remained the red heart tattoo still on his right shoulder running counterclockwise from the top were the letters K, Q, J, 10, A written in black. The red aura surrounding his body formed two wings of a devilish shape, and a crown appeared floating between them. “Now it will end brother!”

The two charged one another and as their blades clashed an explosion of energy enveloped them.

Meanwhile Captain Yamamoto stands in his office…

“Well done Byakuya,” He said, “You have taken responsibility for your actions,”

At that moment Captain Unohana entered the room. “Sir you asked for me?”

“Yes Captain I need you to come with me to Sokyoku Hill there are many injured who will need your assistance.”

“Yes sir” she bowed politely.

Back at the scene of the battle the energy has dissipated and the smoke has begun to clear…

They stand on opposite sides of one another, their blades at their sides, and their aura’s now gone their zanpakto each in its sealed state.

“You could have killed me,” growled Byakuya, “but you didn’t…why?”

“Because…” Akashi panted in an unmistakably lighter voice, “we are brothers, and that bond cannot be broken.” Byakuya began to fall Akashi flash-stepped and caught him. “I’m sorry for deceiving you brother, but I needed to know that you could find the resolve within yourself to kill even your own brother.”

“Decieved?” Byakuya said confused, “You mean that…all of this…was-”

“A test,” completed Captain Yamamoto, “Yes captain that is correct. From the moment Akashi arrived he has been acting to test you and many of the other Soul Reapers.”

At that moment the large shikai of Captain Unohana landed nearby, “I have gathered the others shall I take him too?”

“Yes take him to be healed with the rest of those injured in today’s events,” the large tongue of the zanpakto took Byakuya and placed him within the creature then promptly flew off with the captain toward the Squad 4 barracks.

“So you knew the whole time, sir?” Akashi asked.

“I suspected that your arrival was more than any simple act of terrorism, and the fact that you never actually killed an opponent didn’t seem logical for someone out for vengeance. When you were fighting the five soul reapers at once you seemed to be timing your faked attempts to kill them with your need for the final step. That of course I realized after you had done it. You were always a clever boy Akashi if not a bit too dramatic for my taste. So what is it you have come to prepare them for, the arrancar?”

“Yes,” Akashi said, “I was captured by Aizen and for a time he trusted me as a traitor to the Seireitei, and during that time he revealed much of his designs for the future of the Arrancar to me. Sir he is seeking out Hollows of incredible strength, at first it was just the Menos, but now he is pursuing The Vasto Lorde. If nothing is done soon he will have some incredible power, believe me what they have seen so far is nothing by comparison.”

“I see,” the Head Captain thought over this for a moment. “do you know anything else?”

“Not much more of any use sir,” Akashi’s head slumped, “I wanted you to know those facts and that Aizen has already raised a huge army of hollows, that are loyal to him. You don’t have much time. That being said, I guess you will be taking me to the repentance cell then?”

“No, Akashi,” Yamamoto said gruffly, “What you have told me is of a great help in understanding what we will be up against in the coming winter, though I alone cannot pardon you I will speak with the Central 46 on your behalf, and perhaps in time you will be forgiven for your transgressions as a result of your assistance.”

“Sir, thank you,” Akashi said, “I should leave now then but please tell Byakuya that I’m alright, I know he is a strong leader now, but also…let him know I do not blame him for my exile.”

“Of course,” the head captain grunted.

A Garganta opened behind Akashi, and he turned and walked into it as it closed behind him.

“Now that I know they will be ready to face Aizen, I can take begin to take care of them…” In the distance rose the same great fortress Akashi had seen when he entered Hueco Mundo, A massive castle, spires shooting up all around. Levels rose up hundreds of stories in the center to a jagged point. “Maybe someday we will meet again brother.”

Previous Chapter: Ichigo Parries: the Unblockable Blade Repelled!

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