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This article, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is property of Northstar1022 and cannot be utilized without the creator's permission.

PLOTLINE: This story deviates from the main storyline immediately after the war against Sōsuke Aizen, creating a parallel timeline where the Thousand-Year Blood War does not take place. As such, there will be inconsistencies.

Something Wicked This Way Comes follows after the events of What Once Was - Part 2. The three shinigami came face to face with a new enemy, Ivan Frederixe, a mysterious man who's skills far outclassed Captain Gan Ojima, but with the appearance of Kenzō Takeshi and Shingo Miyamoto, was forced to make a retreat. And after a confrontation with a member of the new Espada, Riona Violeta, Captain Masahiro Matsunaga of the 6th Division collapsed after being poisoned by his attacker. Finally, a new enemy has surfaced: the mysterious Los Pecadores. What does this mean for Soul Society? Will the Gotei 13 be able to deal with the sudden emergence of new enemies, as well as the memories of old ones?

Part I: Wounded - Saved by Master Healer, Gennai Hiraga

Location: Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho (綜合救護詰所, the coordinated relief station), 4th Division Barracks

The door burst open, several medical staff members wheeling the silver haired captain, Masahiro Matsunaga, on a stretcher. After he collapse, several shinigami guards from Masahiro Manor rushed to his side and seeing him unconcious brought him immediately to the 4th Division barracks to seek medical aid. The nurses were able to stop the bleeding in his shoulder, but the captain was now running a high fever and began shivering, beads of sweat running down from his forehead. There was lots of shouting as they wheeled him down corridors. The ones in the front yelling at others to get out of the way as they rushed by.

After several turns, the staff had finally arrived to the room they were instructed to bring him. The doors immediately slid open. It was a large room, several tables along the walls, all containing assorted medical instruments, vials, herbs and potions of various colors. They stopped at the middle of the room. The staff spread out, gathering bandages and potions. One laid a cold wet rag on the captain's forehead. Another cut away the blood soaked bandage from his shoulder. Pulling it off revealed the wound had become severly infected, black veins tentacling out the rest of the area. The looks of growing concern showing on their faces.

Another door at the far side opened and a man stepped through, making a straight line to Captain Matsunaga. He wore a similar captain's haori, though his black shinigami clothese underneath had a high collar that covered half of his face. All you could see were his black sunglasses and short black hair. The purple wrapped handle of his sword poked out from under his haori. This man was 4th Division's captain, Gennai Hiraga. As he walked up a nurse walked with him.

"Captain Hiraga. Captain Matsunaga has been shot in the shoulder." She was clearly nervous in her voice. "There was a report of him fighting an unknown assailant and collapsed after their battle."

Gennai said nothing. He reached the table and examined the wound. He could see the infection spreading. He leaned closer. Without looking away he ordered a nurse to give him a pair of forceps. His voice was calm, almost robotic. He grasped the instrument in his gloved hand and immediately dove into the wound. Captain Matsunaga flinched from the sudden pressure and pain shooting through his body. Several nurses had to hold him down while his body jerked about. Gennai, himself, placed his other hand on the silver haired captain's chest, forcibly keeping him still. He twisted the forceps for a few seconds until he found what he was looking for. Slowly, he pulled out the metal fragment that was once a whole bullet and dropped it in a small metal pan. It clanged against the surface, blood slowly pooling from it.

He listed out a few potions and herbs and the staff quickly ran to the tables. They each grabbed an item from the list and brought it back to Captain Hiraga. He mixed several together in a bowl and poured it over the wound. It fizzed instantly, giving off a sizzling sound, causing Captain Matsunaga to jerk his body violently again. Gennai examined the wound again. The infection did not stop spreading, and the captain's breathing was becoming more and more shallow.

"This isn't working." Gennai said aloud, looking down at his fellow captain. He could see the color draining from Matsunaga's lips and his breathing slowing down to dangerous intervals. "Everyone, step out of the room." And without pause, the staff quickly headed for the door and out the room. Gennai gripped his sword and drew out the blade, a silver steel that seemed to glow from the overhead lights. He held it out straight, over Matsunaga's body.

The tip of the blade flickered and began to dissolve in to a fine blue mist until the entire blade had disappeared. The mist hung over Matsunaga's body like a cloud before slowly entering his mouth and wound. Gennai continued to stand there, his arm still gripping the handle of his sword. Matsunaga made one final gasp before his breathing stopped altogether. Gennai did not react. Instead he appeared calm and focused, completely still. The infection stopped spreading and paused briefly before seeming to retreat back towards the wound. A feint blue light peering out of the hole in his shoulder. Slowly the veins in Matsunaga's body began to glow in a similar blue light as signs of the infection almost entirely disappeared. Gennai remained focused, not reacting to what was happeneing in front of him. The wound was now beginning to seal itself, muscle and flesh closing together, blue light burning away the remaining scar. The light was now traveling through his neck, leaving a large cluster centered around his heart. The light grew brighter and brighter, reflecting off Gennai's glasses. The staff at the door began shielding their eyes with their hands. Until the light suddenly dispersed.

Without moving or even looking down at Matsunaga, Gennai said in a whisper, "Come back." And Matsunaga's eyes and mouth openend, gasping for air once more. A blinding blue light, seemingly coming from inside his body, engulfed him and the entire room, extending outward and down the hall, whooshing past the staff.

Seconds later, the light faded away. The staff whiped their eyes, giving them time to adjust. Gennai continued to stand there, looking down at his sword. The blade gleeming in the light, whole once more. He slowly sheathed the sword, now looking down at Matsunaga. All traces of the wound and infection gone, his breathing normal again.

Gennai placed the back of his hand on Matsunaga's forehead, feeling his temperature. "Captain Matsunaga will be fine. He will require rest now. Notify me once he has awaken." He said in his usual voice, placing his arm back to his side. The staff scurried in as Gennai stepped back to allow them room to move Captain Matsunaga. As they wheeled him out, they past 3 shinigami who had just arrived.

"Is that Captain Matsunaga?" Shingo said, his arm over Kenzō's shoulder. Shingo guessed that he had several broken ribs and required assistance in walking. Gan had bandaged himself from pieces of his own shirt, leaving him bare chested, as the trio walked down the corridor.

"Looks like it." Kenzō said as he watched them take Captain Matsunaga down another corridor. Once he was out of sight, Kenzō turned back towards Gennai. "Hey, doc." The captain was preparing to leave when he turned to see Kenzō holding on to Shingo and Captain Ojima bandaged with his arms folded across his chest. "Got time to patch us up?" Kenzō asked, appearing slightly tired.

Gennai just sighed and held out his arm, gesturing them to come in.

Part II: Rumors Spreading

Location: Sake Bar Hagi

Kiku slammed her shot glass on the table with a triumphant shout. She had just finished her ninth one and aside from her rosey cheeks and slightly slurred speech, she was surprisingly still standing. Something that amazed Eiji has he sat back on his chair with his arms folded across his chest, his sword propped up against the wooden table. Kiku wiped her bangs from her eyes as she let out a deep breath, smiling as she looked around her. They sat at one of the tables outside of the shop. The rain clouds has just finished retreating, letting the sun cast its warm rays over the land, the sky was an exceptionally vibrant blue.

"Finally, the sun's out again." Kiku said as she looked at the people walking by. She turned to face inside the Sake Bar Hagi and waved at waiter to come to her table.

Eiji merely rolled his eyes. "Haven't you had enough?" He asked, tilting his head slightly.

"Me? Not even close." She responded, shaking her head. The waiter had just arrived and Kiku was already asking for another round of shots, which the waiter acknowledged, bowed his head and walked quickly back inside.

"We really should be training." Eiji took a small sip of his drink.

"What's with you and training all the time?" Kiku sighed, placing an elbow on the table and cradling her head with her hand. "Where's the time for friends? The time for fun?"

Eiji closed his eyes, looking down when he spoke. "I have friends... and I have fun." The words seemed not entirely genuine.

Pfft. Kiku just waved her hand as she leaned back to allow the waiter to place the drinks on the table. She paused for a moment before taking the first shot, and then drank it. It burned the entire way down. She blew air out of her mouth in an attempt to cool her throat. Kiku traced the rim of the other shot with her finger, staring at it as if in deep thought.

Eiji noticed the silence and asked what was the matter. His voice seemed more comforting as he looked at Kiku.

She reached to scratch an imaginary itch on the back of her neck, as if buying time before talking. Finally, she spoke. "We don't hang out as much as we used to." Her eyes still kept staring at the cup as her finger swirled around it.

"That's not true. We spend plenty of time together." Eiji said as he leaned forward, speaking in a soft whisper.

"Yeah, training. That's pretty much all we do." Kiku shot back, slightly hostile. "Train, train, train." Eiji reached for his drink and she immediately placed her hand on his. Eiji took a short breath, his cheeks turning red slightly. Her skin was warm and soft against his hand. The hostility disappeared and was replaced by caring emotion and she looked into Eiji's eyes. "I mean we don't hang out as much as we used to." She said, sadness on her face.

Eiji and Kiku cared for each other deeply, not just as friends and comrades, but something more. They preferred to keep that part of their lives private. But with Eiji's recent schedule and new duties as the 8th Division's lieutenant, it was harder for them to spend time together outside of their training. Eiji let his thumb rest over her fingers and opened his mouth to say something, but he was interrupted by the sight of someone running towards them. She was a petite young girl with blonde hair tied into 2 braids. She wore traditional shinigami robes with a sash and emblem on her left arm. He pulled his hand away, causing Kiku to frown once more but realized that Eiji was staring at someone. She turned her head to see who it was. The young lieutenant was coming into focus. She was panting heavily as if she had been running for a while.

"Is that Satsuki?" Kiku asked.

Satsuki Yukino was the 10th Division lieutenant, under Captain Suzu Kakyoku, the youngest captain of the Gotei 13. Satsuki may not be the strongest lieutenant, but she certainly was the most cheerful. To see her frantically running towards Eiji and Kiku with a look of concern on her face, meant that something very bad has happened. She slid to a stop directly in front of their table, her braids swinging forward. She hunched forward panting heavily with her hands on her knees.

Eiji rose from his seat and walked over to Satsuki, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Everything alright, Satsuki?" He asked while leaning in.

"Eiji.... C-c-captain Matsunaga.... was attacked in Matsunaga Manor." She struggled to speak as she was still breathing heavy.

Eiji immediatly stood up straight, his eyes opening wide. Kiku shared the same expression. "What?!"

"Someone snuck into the manor and attacked the captain." She was starting to breath normal. "He was poisoned..." She rose up, though her height barely reached Eiji's chest. "Captain Hiraga saved him after he stopped breathing."

"No way!" Kiku gasped with her hand covering her mouth.

"Does anyone know who did it?" Eiji asked, gripping his sword's handle in the process.

"No. Word is that it was an Arrancar." Satsuki spoke with a trembling childlike voice. "Captain Fujibayashi was sent to investigate."

Eiji looked back towards Kiku. She knew what he was about to say. "I have to go." He said, guilty for having to leave Kiku but hoped that she would understand. She merely looked back at him and gestured with her head to go and looked away. He nodded to the two female shinigami before disappearing almost instantly with his Shunpo.

Kiku sighed once more. "Check please."

Part III: Scouting for Clues

Location: Matsunaga Manor - Farmlands where Captain Matsunaga and Riona Violeta fought.

After the incident, all the workers in that area were evacuated immediately. The rain was still falling in the area. It was a light rain, soothing, as it pitter-pattered on the roof of the barn and nearby trees. Several carts were left on the road with baskets of tools and half filled with rice. The barn door was wide open, rain coming through the hole in the roof, splinters of wood scattered throughout the floor.

A flash of lightning revealed a shadow cast from the door. Standing in the rain was a tall man in clothing typical of the Onmitsukidō, black ninja-like robes that covered everything from head to toe, hiding his entire face. Over that, he wore a white sleeveless haori with the 2nd Division's insignia on the back. Captain Fujibayashi walked slowly through the opening, letting the rain roll off his uniform as he turned his head to scan the room.

He walked slowly, taking in his surroundings, crouching once he was in the center of the barn. His hand hovered a few inches off the floor as he examined the footsteps. Captain Fujibayashi deciphered which steps were Captain Matsunaga's and which were the assailant's. Captain Matsunaga's were light and fluid while the other's was much more aggressive, though both seemed to be equal in terms of speed. He continued to follow the steps as they led upwards into the support beams, leaping to examine the various bullet holes and slash left by a double edged blade.

Captain Fujibayashi exited the barn through the hole and landed on the roof. There was several dozen members of the Onmitsukidō scattered around the barn and on the roof.

"Captain, what are your orders?" One member said, his head covered in a black mask except for his eyes.

Captain Fujibayashi continued to scan the rooftop briefly before looking off in to the distance where the edge of the forest was. He leaped forward, covering a huge distance in a single bound. The other members quickly jumped to follow their captain. They raced to keep up with the captain as he hopped through the clearing, like silent shadows, until finally reaching the edge of the woods. And without pause, they all leaped to the branches above, blending in to the darkness the trees created.

The captain could see traces of movement through an area up ahead. His tracking skills are second only to Captain Gan Ojima, Soul Society's best hunter. Identifying tracks had become quite easy for him. He examined broken branches, leaves rustled in a specific way, imprints on the floor and trees. He retraced each clue until there were none.

He stopped instantly, slightly perplexed and the other members stopped as well, perched high above him on their branches. He couldn't see any other signs of movement, but something inside him felt eerily familiar. His chest felt like a weight was on it and he could feel his lungs starting to burn. He raised his hand to cover his mouth and began to cough violently. One member dropped down to see if the captain was alright, but he merely raised his hand to order him to stop. The coughing slowly tapered off, but that feeling was still there. He knew what it meant: a Garganta. But to have opened one this far into Soul Society had never been done. Not with the increased defensive systems and security created after the last war.

Finally the captain spoke. His voice was hoarse and raspy, each word struggled to leave his mouth. "Back to Seireitei." And they all turned and disappeared into the distance, heading back to report their findings.

Part IV: Tensions Rise - Akihiko Tanaka faces a Deadly Duo

Later that night, after hearing about Captain Fujibayashi's investigation, 6th Division Lieutenant, Akihiko Tanaka, went on his own to investigate. He was fiercly loyal to his captain and was overcome with emotion when he discovered that he had been attacked. Against his better judgement, he went into the woods to search for clues. Now he found himself in a fight for survival.

There were two of them. They had come from the shadows and attacked Akihiko, catching him offguard. The first attack was an energy projectile that exploded directly next to him. The force of the blast knocked him into the air, his shinigami robes flapping in the wind as he willed himself to stop. One hand held the sheath of his sword as he looked down at the pillar of smoke floating up from the crater left. The trees nearby blown back in a circular clearing. His pale pink hair was disheveled, his pony tail barely held together by a thin white cord.

As he floated high above the wooded area, he scanned the area to try and find them again. "Dammit, where did they go?" Akihiko didn't get a good look at them. He could only see their silhouettes: one was slender, almost sickly thin looking, while the other was a much taller and bulkier figure, with cylindrical arms. Both had a distinct hole in the middle of their chests. Akihiko's attention was caught by the rustling of several tree tops, apparently moving away from him. Quickly, he drew his sword and took off, wind whipping past him as he left a thin trail a white dust behind him.

He drew closer and closer, following the twin attackers hidden under the canopy. Several tall stone pillars sprouted through clearings, causing Akihiko to weave through them. Without warning, thin white blasts of energy tore through the trees directly below him, sending leaves and branches into the air. The volley of projectiles flew up at him with incredible speed. Instinctively, Akihiko drew his weapon and batted the projectiles away, although the grouping was proving to be too much for him to defend in this manner alone. He disappeared and reappeared in between projectiles, as they raced past him.

Once the volley was over, Akihiko followed the attack back towards his point of origin. He was only several meters from the clearing before a roaring sound echoed in his ears. He looked towards his left just as a massive deep blue energy projectile blasted through another area, aimed directly at the lieutenant. The attack quickly collided with Akihiko, who had placed his sword directly in front him, with his other hand behind the blade, as he struggled to fight back.

The energy barely slowed as it collided against Akihiko, his sword sending sparks into the air as the blade scraped against the energy. It had pushed Akihiko into one of the stone pillars, which exploded upon contact in a large plume of smoke, sending him flipping through the air as stone debris rained down into the woods below. The top half of the pillar began to lean and fall to the ground, colliding with earth shaking force as a thick ring of dust was blown up into the air all around.

Akihiko managed to regain his form and held his sword in front of him. A feint red aura began to glow around him, "Turn the..." But before he could finish his sentence, the slender one delivered a quick and powerful knee to his back sent him colliding against another stone pillar, front first. The stone cracked around his body as he fell backwards and then the larger other appeared in front of him with one of his arms raised high above him. The punch sent Akihiko straight down like a missle. A loud boom followed by a ring of compressed air as he came crashing through the trees before hitting the floor.

There was a silence now as he laid there motionless for several seconds. His eyes flickered open, staring up at the broken branches caused by his fall, leaves gently floating down towards him. His body ached as he rolled to his side and propped himself up with his arms. One's too fast, the other is too strong. Akihiko thought as he lifted himself to his feet slowly, clutching his sword.

The two attackers stood still, high above Akihiko, floating in the night sky. They were toying with him, and he knew it. While one might have been a fair fight, both are proving too much for Akihiko to deal with. Their coordinated attacks were powerful and giving him little time to react.

"Now, now, shinigami. Is this the best you have to offer?" The slender one said with a snakelike voice as it hissed out of his mouth. His entire body seemed stretched, emphasizing his lean figure. He wore an open white jacket, exposing his slender pale skinned torso. His white pants were tucked into black boots where the tips curled up. The remnants of his release covered his shoulders in white armor with several protrusions, a helmet with large bulbous eyes and two antennas extending from the center, and his right arm extended further with a long scythe-like blade in place of the hand. It gleamed from the moonlight cast down on it.

The other, much larger brute stood there motionless next to him. His entire upper body was covered in a white bulky armor, with a large shell on his back. His forearms seemed like giant cannons with the armor around them. He also wore a helmet with a massive horn sticking out from the forehead. Only his mouth and chin were left uncovered. He, too, wore white pants but were loose over his black shoes. His overall appearance was that of a humanoid beetle and he just stared down at Akihiko while the other spoke.

"I thought a lieutenant of the Gotei 13 would give us a better fight." The thinner one said mockingly as he rose his blade up. His other hand slid across the metal surface, causing it glow brighter. He let out a maniacal laugh before swiping it in the air and sending another barrage of energy projectiles towards Akihiko. The lieutenant quickly flipped backwards, avoiding them as they sliced through the ground beneath him. He landed on one hand and continued to flip as they swept across the floor. There was a faint booming sound and the thin one appeared instantly behind him, grinning evily as he chuckled to himself. His blade flew through the air ready to cut Akihiko clean in half, but the lieutenant managed to flip over the attack entirely. Akihiko readied his weapon but before he could act, something massive had sent him through several trees. As he smashed through thick wooden trunks, he caught the sight of the larger one who had just struck him.

Akihiko spun his body to land on his feet, but still slid backwards from the force of the previous attack. He gripped his sword with both hands and launched himself toward the duo. He roared as he rocketed towards them, slipping in between the two. His first attack went to the thinner one as his sword struck against the scythe, a loud clanging sound followed with several sparks. Akihiko leaped into the air and twisted his body, bringing both his legs together, bent his knees and kicked outwards against one of the larger one's forearms, shoving the brute back.

Staggering the giant, Akihiko focused on the thin one, sending a flurry of strikes at him. The thin one blocked each strike, though he struggled to keep up with the lieutenant's newfound resolve. He shrieked as the lieutenant pressed on, forcing the thin one back. Suddenly, a large shadow cast over the two and Akihiko looked back to see the giant lurching forward to strike. His arm was massive, causing both Akihiko and the thin one to leap out of the way as the attack caused the ground to break apart, sending another large plume of dirt and dust into the air.

As the thin one flew into the air, he looked down, annoyed at the giant. "Dammit, Ballesteros! Watch where you're aiming!" His voice angry and high pitched. Akihiko took this opportunity to appear directly above the thin one, both hands bringing down his sword as he yelled. The thin one just barely managed to bring up his own blade to block the attack, but the force sent him flying backwards, crashing into the ground.

Akihiko held out his hand, generating a burst of yellow crackling energy. With it, he drew an inverted yellow triangle in front of him as he fell towards the thin attacker. Yellow energy crackled and then solidified into a beak on each corner of the triangle. "Bakudō # 30. Shitotsu Sansen (嘴突三閃, Beak-Piercing Triple Beam)" Akihiko yelled out, and the beaks fired towards the thin arrancar, striking him on each shoulder and one in his midsection, pinning him to the ground. "That takes care of you for the moment." Akihiko stated as he landed on the solidified energy and lept towards the giant one as it walked slowly towards them.

Ballesteros had blocked Akihiko's first strike with its armored forearm. It clanged as the vibrations traveled through the lieutenant's arms. Ballesteros rose his other arm and brought it down in attempt to squash Akihiko, who avoided the attack by placing his hand on the giant's arm and flipping over it. As his body floated there briefly, Akihiko straightened his arm, his palm open and pointing directly at Ballesteros's head. It watched Akihiko, though his massive body couldn't turn fast enough to keep up with the lieutenant. A small red orb began to form in Akihiko's palm, "Hadō #31. Shakkahō (赤火砲, Red Fire Cannon)" and the blast struck Ballesteros, exploding all around his face. It reared its head, roaring as it brought up its massive arms to clutch his face that was still smoking. Akihiko brought his feet together and landed gracefully like an expert gymnast.

The rumbling of spiritual pressure increasing caught Akihiko's attention as the thin one broke free of the kido spell, swearing angrily. Like a wild animal lashing out, he rose to his feet and instantly came upon the lieutenant who was once again in a defensive position. "YOU THINK YOU CAN BEAT US, SHINIGAMI?!" He roared as his blade swept through the air repeatedly. Akihiko defended as best as he could, though had to step backwards as the thin one pressed on. Their blades clanged against each other, sparks once again floating into the air like fireflies.

Akihiko stepped in, locking his sword against the thin one's blade, pinning it to the side. The thin one's eyes shot open, tugging to pull himself free but his vision suddenly flashed white, his ears ringing as he fell backward, stunned. Akihiko had delivered a quick but powerful elbow directly under its chin. Using this opportunity, Akihiko lept into the air, holding his sword directly in front of hiim. The faint red glow reappearing once more, his voice was calm as his eyes began to glow red, "Turn the tides... Shuhonryuu!" Pale red energy swirled around the blade like liquid. His spiritual pressure rose as he began twirling the spiraling energy. He clutched the center of the energy firmly, causing his weapon to stop spinning, its energy washing off to reveal its new form. It appeared like a double bladed, double headed voulge connected by a large ring surrounding the handle. Akihiko's own spiritual pressure dripped off him like water.

The large one was still rubbing his eyes when he called out for his partner, his voice seeming tired. "Inigo..." And he began to shuffle over towards the thin one.

"Stupid, freaking Shinigami." Inigo continued to swear as he rubbed his chin. He looked up at Akihiko, grinding his teeth. He once again placed his hand on his blade, that feint glow returning. "DIE ALREADY!" And he swiped his hand across the surface, thin trails of energy coming off his fingertips. He spun around, sweeping his blade in Akihiko's direction and launched another volley of projectiles.

Akihiko, his breathing slow and relaxed, placed Shuhonryuu in the path of the barrage and begun spinning it counterclockwise rapidly. The projectiles shattered like glass against his weapon, leaving the lieutenant unharmed. Inigo growled, his face flashing a sense of growing annoyance. Akihiko continued to spin Shuhonryuu, positioning it behind him now. With his other hand, he merely gestured Inigo and Ballesteros to come.

Inigo, in a fit rage, was the first to attack Akihiko. Using his Sonido, he boomed directly in front of the lieutenant, hacking away furiously against Shohunryuu. Akihiko continued to twirl his blade, deflecting each strike. Using this style, he was able to create a seemingly invisible shield. Inigo's frustration grew with each slash, his voice becoming more and more high-pitched as he screamed. "Ballesteros!" He yelled out, and Akihiko could see in the corner of his eye, the giant appearing beside him, his arms raised in the air.

Akihiko leaned back, holding Shuhonryuu over his head. Both fists crashed against Akihiko who managed to hold his ground. Inigo just grinned and brought his blade towards the lieutenant's midsection. Akihiko rose his leg, planting his foot against Inigo's forearm, effectively stopping the attack. Using all his strength, he kicked off and pushed his weapon up at the same time, knocking both Arrancar away. He then gripped his Zanpakutō with one hand and spun it around him in a wide circle, bending forward to switch hands behind his back.

Inigo hesitated, trying to avoid Shuhonryuu's constant spinning, while Ballesteros seemed to ignore it. The voulge slashed across his forearms, creating a metal on metal sound, but the armor was thick enough to protect him. Ballesteros stopped and stared at the lieutenant. He seemed to be confused, almost acting like a child who didn't understand the concept of being hurt. Instead, he brought both his forearms together, pointing them at the lieutenant. Energy began to form in his palms, a dark blue swirling mass growing wilder and more intense. The tip of the horn on his forehead began to spark, before one large arc struck the ball of energy and fired it towards Akihiko. The blast roared like thunder and Akihiko quickly used his Shunpo to instinctively dodge the attack.

Inigo, realizing he was in the path of the blast, shrieked and boomed out of the path. It flew past underneath him, the intense pressure, visibly shaking him as it struck against a massive stone pillar behind Inigo, instantly blowing a huge portion of its midsection. Swearing again, Inigo pointed at Ballesteros, scolding him, "You idiot! What did I say about your aim?!" But he quickly looked up to realized huge pieces of debris and the top section of the pillar were coming down over him. He quickly hacked and slashed away at the pieces, slicing whole blocks of stone in half.

Suddenly, Akihiko appeared behind one of the stones Inigo had just cut, surprising the Arrancar. He held Shuhonryuu with both hands at its center yelling, he brought down the bottom half of it and struck Inigo in the right collarbone. Dark red blood squirted out from the wound as Inigo shrieked again. Ballesteros was already preparing another blast, but Akihiko pulled his weapon out of Inigo, held it with one hand and threw it like a javelin. It raced across the sky and struck Ballesteros horn, severing it from his helmet. The electrical sparks struck the energy in his palms and detonated it. Ballesteros was engulfed in a dark blue fiery explosion as the force knocked back Akihiko. A large cloud of smoke and fire was all that could be seen, and past that, his Zanpakutō twirling in the air away from him.

Not wasting time, Akihiko took off after his weapon as Inigo, seemingly lifeless, was falling towards the trees below. The lieutenant had just reached the cloud of smoke resulting from Ballesteros blast backfiring. Suddenly, a large fist shot out from the smoke and hit Akihiko directly in the ribs. Blood spewed out from his mouth as he curled his body and was launched into the air. Ballesteros's armor had been mostly destroyed, but it uncovered his massive physique that still proved him to be a dangerous combatant. Luckily, Akihiko was thrown in the same direction as his Zanpakutō, and the speed he was traveling, was able to catch up it in no time. He gripped it tightly, his other hand holding his ribs as blood rolled down from the side of his mouth.

Before Akihiko could react, Ballesteros was already in front of him. The lieutenant was shocked by the Arrancar's speed. Ballesteros's armor had greatly restricted his movement and weighed him down. Without it, it seemed as though Ballesteros was just as fast as he was. The Arrancar unleashed a barrage of quick punches, wild and powerful. Ballesteros fighting style seemed purely instinctual, no refined skills, but dangerous nonetheless.

Akihiko used the flat end of Shuhonryuu to block most of the attacks while sidestepping to avoid the rest. Ignoring the internal injuries he had sustained, Akihiko decided to go on the offense, wanting to the end this fight as soon as possible. He decided it was time to unleash Shuhonryuu's power. There was a reason he was constantly spinning his weapon. By constantly spinning it counterclockwise, Shuhonryuu is accumalating energy and storing it within the blade. Energy can also be gathered when the blade is struck by an attack, such as when Akihiko was defending himself against Inigo. Once Akihiko was comfortable with the amount of energy stored, he would activate the second part of the ability.

Ballesteros expression matched his fighting style: wild. He lashed out the lieutenant. His eyes were narrow, showing off their hazel color. His teeth were clenched, grinding against one another as he grunted with each punch. Akihiko was allowing Ballesteros to get closer, closing the door of opportunity to dodge his next attack. That's it. Get closer. Akihiko thought to himself as the giant was almost on him. NOW. Akihiko thought to himself and immediately spun the blade clockwise. Pale red liquid energy began to swirl into being in the center of the handle. The light caused Ballesteros to temporarily pause and fixate on what was happening and before he could react, the ball of energy exploded into a swirling torrent of pale red energy, instantly engulfing him in the spiraling blast. Ballesteros howled as he tried to fight against it. His skin began to burn, his hand raised to shield his face. Akihiko screamed as the energy rushed out from his Zanpakutō. It was intense and violent, like a dam opening, slowly tearing Ballesteros apart until his entire being burned away, leaving nothing behind. The energy stopped pouring out and Akihiko hunched over, beginning to float down to the ground. Once there, he dropped to his knees, panting in exhaustion.

Off in the distance, rubble from the previously destroyed pillar began to shake. Several larger slabs began to lift up as if something was moving underneath it. As the rubble spread out, Inigo broke through. He, too, was panting heavily, a large of blood trailed from his mouth to his torse, the wound in his shoulder still spraying blood. His eyes were fixated on the lieutenant. They resembled the eyes of a madman, succumbed by rage. He rose his hand, one finger pointing at Akihiko. "You're history." Inigo said in a half tired voice, as green energy began to gather at his fingertip, the distinctive sound of a Cero charging.

Akihiko, unable to lift himself to his feet, merely twisted his body and threw Shuhonryuu like a boomerang. He fell forward from the throw, now laying on his stomach. It spin quickly towards Inigo, but the Arrancar was able to easily roll his shoulder back and avoid the attack, never breaking his charge. Shuhonryuu spun towards the sky and into the distance. Inigo merely continued charging his Cero, it growing with each passing second. The ends of Inigo's mouth twisted upward, turning into a sinister grin.

What Inigo hadn't realized, though, was that Shuhonryuu began to curve in the air, traveling in a wide circle behind him. It whizzed in the air as its course corrected itself and headed back towards Inigo, who was too focused on Akihiko to notice. And before the Arrancar was even aware, Shuhonryuu cleaved Inigo in two, the separate halves knocked into the distance as the Cero's energy dispersed harmlessly into the air. Akihiko let out a long sigh, his vision starting to fade into blackness before passing out, just as the sun broke free from the horizon.

<-- Previously in What Once Was - Part 2

Continued in Warnings On The Way -->

Trivia

  • The two Arrancar that Akihiko faced are Riona Violeta's Fraccion: Inigo Guillén and Ballesteros Tibor. Due to the limited amount of time that these characters were going to be in the story, I decided against creating individual pages. Instead, all important information will be included here.
  • Inigo Guillén (イニゴ ギルン, Inigo Girun) was the faster of the two, as well as the brains. His Resurrección was called Louva-Deus (Spanish for Praying Mantis) and he could launch a series of fast projectiles from his bladed right hand. He was a competent swordsman, by relied entirely on his speed to confuse his targets.
  • Ballesteros Tibor (バレステロス チボー, Baresuterosu Tibo) was the strongest of the two, though was very simple minded and quite slow with his armor on. He would look to Inigo for direction, as well as positioning as he tended to launch attacks regardless if his partner was in the way or not. His Resurrección was called Cornizuelo (Spanish for Rhino Beetle) and covered him in thick armor, greatly slowing him down but dramatically increasing his strength and attack power. He could generate large blasts by charging it in front of him and sending a spark from his horn to ignite it. Without the armor, he was much faster and an exceptional hand-to-hand fighter though the full extend of his powers was never shown.

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