World 36: Bleach

I GIVE YOU EVERYTHING

Previously: War & Remembrance

Themesong: Zoot Suit Riot by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

Being myself again took… adjustment. Same for the others, to various extents, though Zane and I coped the best I think, thanks to Astral Layers (ironically enough). It wasn’t a sudden shock, it was like waking up from an extremely vivid dream, but with an adjustment period, two personas merging… though the older, wiser, and much more dominant personas absorbed the smaller single lifetime ones like a flavoring packet adds to a soup.

Victoria said “It feels like climbing out of a box you didn’t realize you were in.” which said it best. Ryoga said, “It feels like I spent 40 years eating cheese.” which said it… not best. Zane said “Wanna see something cool?” and transformed into a giant freaking 8 foot tall owl… then into a normal snowy owl and back and forth for several seconds… which started a whole round of transforming back and forth from barely anthropomorphic human-sized animals to normal animals and back again.

“Jinkies” said Velma.

“Bleach?” asked Joy. “As in the Chemical?”

I looked over to where she was, head tilted as she examined the Vending Machines of Destiny. “Yes and no. Bleach is about a redheaded Japanese boy named Strawberry who becomes a substitute Soul Reaper or Shinigami… think Samurai version of Grim Reaper… katanas instead of scythes, kimonos instead of hooded robes, that sort of thing.”

“So, hunting ghosts and demons, that kind of thing?”

“Heh… no. This world is beyond bad news. Soul Assassins called Quincies, Soul Eating Ghosts called Hollows, Soul Eating monsters called Bount, Giant Energy Beam blasting mega-ghosts called Minos Grandes or Gillians, much smaller and much more dangerous giga-ghosts called Adjuchas and Vasto Lordes that feed on the Minos like they were snacks, Renegade Shinigami Captains with powers that make normal Shinigami look like children armed with rubber swords, Insane Shinigami Captains who – in theory – are on the side of angels, mutant Adjuchas and Vasto Lords called Arrancar who have all the powers of Captain Level Shinigami as well as their giga-ghost powers…. And Fullbringers, mortals who bring out the innate powers of objects…. plus, if we’re unlucky, parasitic swords, non-parasitic sword spirits that think they should be in control, and… that most dreaded thing of all… filler episodes.”

“That’s a lot of terms… and enemies… but how are filler episodes dangerous?”

“Because they screw with the timeline. I don’t know if we’re jumping into the Manga or the TV series, I don’t know what the continuity is, and it is entirely possible we will find ourselves in the middle of a fight one moment and enjoying a whacky side story the next. I don’t know how to handle a setting that actively generates non-canon events within its own timeline.”

“Oh. So… is this setting as dangerous as it sounds?”

“No. It’s much, much more so. As in, if we fuck things up too much, the Quincy might end reality, or the Arrancars’ leader might find a way to make himself god. Shit, this is going to be really not a fun jump.”

Zane growled from the machine, “And there’s no import feature. A set of mysterious blueprints that look like they might teach you how to make Arrancars, Bounts, Quincies, and Shinigamis… but they don’t come right out and say it. That means just three people with native powers.”

“Huh. That sucks. But Ichigo… sorry, Strawberry… has powered norms fighting on his side… two of them… though not the most interesting of the norms, which is a shame.”

Yoiko laughed, “Let me guess… this most interesting of norms… she’s the energetic flatchested toyboy.”

“Mmmm… I wouldn’t call Tatsuki flatchested… she’s got breasts, just not anywhere in the huge range… Tite Kubo is clearly fond of big boobs, but the show has a very large variety, ranging from actually flatchested adults to huh… how does she walk upright?” I shrugged. “But yes, toyboy, trained in martial arts. Only mortal Japanese girl in the show who does fighting. Kubo might not be the biggest sexist, but he’s still a pretty massive sexist. Lots of Damseling, lots of guys stepping in to fight for their girl or just the girl.”

“For instance, the best fighter of the Shinigami? He’s the head of the squad that does most of the fighting… his second in command is a little girl who does almost none. Biggest traitor of the Shinigami? His second in command is the most emotionally vulnerable character in the series… and female. Of the 13 Court Guard Squads (the primary Shinigami military and the only real leadership we see) two of the original 13 Captains are female… the Spy Squad Captain… and the Healer Squad Captain… though she’s a reformed psychopath. Among the original Lieutenants, there are… ummm… 6… They include brainwashed emotional girl, crazy little non-fighter girl, a homunculus who is constantly being tortured and experimented on by her psychopathic Captain slash father, and the woman with the largest breasts in the series… whose Captain is a teenage boy.”

“But Kubo does call out sexism too. One of the Espada, the leaders of the Arrancar, is a base jackass and scumbag who took out another Espada because he didn’t like the fact that she was a woman. So blatant sexism is bad… but Kubo was raised in a very sexist society and was selling comics to teenage boys… so I guess it’s a good thing any of the females can fight at all. Rumiko Takahashi doesn’t always score great on the anti-sexism scale and she is female.”

Joy nodded, “You said ‘Original’… is this a GoT type setting?”

“Not to that extent, but there is a fair amount of turnover in the secondary cast… though none of the primary cast consisting of Ichigo (half-Shinigami, half-Quincy Fullbringing Visored), Rukia (Royal Shinigami by adoption), Renji (Shinigami), Chad/Sado (Superhuman), Orihime (Superhuman), and Uryu (Quincy)… have died. Additionally, a few of the Captains and Lieutenants also seem immune to authorial homicide, either through plot armor or just insane levels of badassery.”

Velma asked, “Is this a defeat means redemption setting?”

“No. Nor is it a defeat equals friendship one. This is a fairly structured kill or be kill setting, with the bad guys getting progressively more and more hellaciously overpowered with every passing season… though those Badass Captains never really seem to grow in power even as they are demonstrably more badass than before, even though the main cast does. Seriously, the main cast fight some of the badass Captains to a standstill early on, but even after multiple level ups, they’re still barely the BAC’s equals… if that. Apparently getting a BAC to go all-out takes actually motivating them and the first time they fought, said Captains just weren’t that motivated.”

“You say that as if it’s hard,” Ahab commented.

“Shinigami are, by human standards, extremely long lived if not functionally immortal. Several of the eldest are more than 2000 years old. They live for combat and are seldom challenged either internally or externally. Until the show starts.”

“Ah. Ennui?”

“Pretty much.”

“So, are we doing this?”

“I don’t know. I mean, clearly we are, there’s no “Skip this Jump” button, and the price for failure is the same as the price for wimping out, so Yes, we’re doing this. But I’m uncertain about bringing non-imported individuals into the setting. This isn’t a “The worst that can happen is death” type place. These people play for souls. Uriel, Kendra, both of you are technically dead in your home reality. A Soul Reaper might be able to send you along to the afterlife, and even though this takes place in the spirit realm, we’ve no idea where the actual afterlife is. Also I’m pretty sure anyone who lacks the ability to see Ghosts will be at a disadvantage… of course, Chad did okay using someone else’s eyes, but… I won’t tell anyone they have to stay behind, but this world will be dangerous.”

While the others began reviewing the episodes and manga scans from my archive, as well as the Book of Riddles which was a nice little cheat-guide, even if it didn’t cover everything… I went to the machine and began plotting.

Soul Reaper [100] (900/1000) was a given. Quincies were vulnerable to Yhwach, Fullbringers were nuts… though I could in theory steal the powers of all the other Fullbringers without a huge outlay of power… but Fullbringer power was fundamentally Hollow in nature… as was that of the Arrancar. Best steer clear… plus… I already had a Zanpakuto ready and waiting to be awoken. Also, going Soul Reaper guaranteed that my physical boosting gear would be applied to my spirit form and not a gigai… Probably. I wondered, idly, if Hollows and Heartless were at all similar. I could do with a keyblade right about now. Soul Reapers have the native ability to use our internal spiritual pressure to create “melee” weapons… I’d start at the rank and power of a 20th seat Court Guard Member… at least before everything else was applied. It also allowed me to start in the Soul Society instead of Hueco Mundo (Hell) or Karakura Town (fictional Japanese City).

There was a strange universal free perk called “Keikaku Dori” which I’m pretty sure is a reference to Death Note… but regardless, it is “the ability to make whatever I plan turn out as despair inducing as possible.”  Not sure why anyone would want that, except to be a dick, but I’d shove it back in the ability toolchest to be forgotten about. Maybe I could reverse engineer it.

I picked up “More Power” for [400] (500/1000) which, in theory, would double my spiritual power… and considered buying Spirit Power as well (which increased power regeneration rates)… but that was another 400 and I wasn’t thinking I needed both.

I also picked up “Soul Builder” for [200] (300/1000), which would allow me to build machines that would run on spiritual power and granted the basic skill of artificery (Creating Artifacts).

As a Soul Reaper, I could take any one basic Soul Reaper power for free.  There were some nice ones: Strength, Humano-form Sword, Flash Steps… but I already had strength, didn’t really want a human form sword, and could either already do flash-steps, or (if it was a different technique) learn it. Ichigo had. “Kido Trainee” it was “You have the innate talent to cast Soul Reaper spells (Kido & Hado). These can do anything from binding an opponent to generating blasts of blue fire from your hands.”

Then I saw all the Zanpakuto Abilities… and how much they cost… and froze.  I was going to need a bigger allowance…. A much bigger allowance. Unfortunately, the only way to get that looked to be making myself a Quincy Target… Which meant going up against Yhwach’s minions. But then again, I was going to be a Soul Reaper, and Yhwach is a dick… I don’t like dicks. The Wandenreich were powerful, no doubt about that… and Quincies were dangerous as fuck… no doubt about that either… but they could be beaten… and they were on the wrong side of history, the genocidal fuckwits. Taken them out was even more high priority than dueling Zaraki Kenpachi or Byakuya… the two biggest badass Captains on the block.

In fact, for all the suck of being a Quincy Target, I’d rather take that than the much less point intensive other drawbacks. Not only did none of them appeal to me (Not Lost, i.e. the Hibiki Curse, was the only other one I’d consider) but Hollow Target was a recipe for 10 years of constant battles and Soul Reaper Target would make the Gotei 13 Captains and their thousands of minions attack me… and was not worth anything like the amount of points it should have been.

At least with Quincy Target I had a small grace period (it said within 2 years).. But I could, theoretically, destroy them all. They weren’t a naturally occurring and endlessly respawning mob… and it was 1000 points. I’d probably regret this, but faint heart and all that.

Zanpakuto powers came in two tiers… Shikai (first release) tier and Bankai (final Release) tier. Shikai Empowerment [200] (1100/2000) would mean that when I released my limiters, my abilities (strength, speed, endurance, etc.) would be much stronger than before. It was essentially dumping energy into my physical/spirit body stats. Shikai Element Ice [300] (800/2000) would give me an Ice Elemental AoE covering 50 meters in all directions. That was huge… and bolstered by my already formidable control over hydro and thermodynamics… but I wasn’t finished yet. Shikai Dissolve [100] (700/2000) would allow Soul of Ice to dissolve into a cloud of monomolecular perfect giant (1-5cm across) snowflakes. And all that was just Shikai.

For my next trick, Bankai. Bankai Greater Dissolve [300] (400/2000) effectively doubles the Shikai’s Power. Bankai Range [200] (200/2000) effectively doubles the AoE, and Bankai Damage (200) (0/1000) makes everything hurt way more. If course, this was all predicated on the idea that I could hit Bankai. Nothing in this was a guarantee. I certainly hadn’t found my Semblance in RWBY and hadn’t had it in me to take the default condolence Semblance. Someday, hopefully, I’d find it.

I also got Hell Butterfly Eggs and Portal to the Spirit Realm for free. The first allowed me to direct spirits to the different spiritual realms, and keep them from getting lost. They also double as a way to send messages. I’ll get three eggs to start with and another egg is added to the stash every week. Dunno how long they live, hopefully more than a couple days. The second allowed me to use a summoning technique normally only available to high rank Soul Reapers, allowing me to create a portal that leads to the Soul Society or the Realm of the Living… but not Hueco Mundo. Alaso.

Joy took Soul Reaper as well, with the Zanpakuto and the spiritual power of a 20th seater and the Kido Training. “Magic… sounds like fun.” I had the sneaking suspicion she was planning on trying to become a Visored… which, to be honest, I was damned tempted to try myself. Not just for the power… but honestly… because I really wanted to get in touch with my inner rage. We needed to have words, she and I.

Ahab, on the other hand, went for Arrancar. It came with a nameless setting specific perk (Lower ranked hollows are almost bound to your will, and – as such – will follow your orders without question.) that might come in handy if Hollows and Heartless are, in fact as nearly identical as they look. (I suspect a Heartless lacks only the skull mask to be a hollow, since Heartless are made from still living mortals.) I wonder if that meant the Mask was contained within the Heartless’s counterpart Nobody. How Dream Eaters and Unversed fit in, I wasn’t sure…. But giant black spiritual monsters with holes in their chests… come on… totally the same thing, right? They were even powered by the same existential rage and ennui.

Also free was Cero (devastating energy beams fired traditionally from the mouth), Hierro (a toughening of skin and body so great it could withstand tank rounds without more than a scratch.), Resurreccion (a signature weapon with a linguistic scrambling & flesh necrotizing venom), and 300 CP for free. Huh. Interesting. Then he selected something I wasn’t previously aware he could do… He selected Childish… a drawback for 400. “It didn’t turn off… It’s a background specific drawback. It specifically targets me and no one else.” Well, the Faunus companions in RWBY had origin specific drawbacks…

With his 700… he bought the A-Mysterious Blueprints for 350… the Suppression Cloak (an article of clothing that completely or partially hides your spiritual pressure) for 50… and Regeneration (the ability to regenerate from wounds almost instantaneously.) for 300.

I looked up from reading over Ahab’s build to see Joy considering. Which is always scary. “What are you planning?”

“If I take the New Recruit Drawback, I get 500 CP, can ignore my Zanpakuto entirely for this trip… but my power level will go back up and I’ll get an unlocked Shikai after the jump.”

“Yeah?”

“Well with those points I could take the S-Mysterious prints… which should allow you to turn others into Shinigami.”

I nodded. “Are you certain?”

“We’ll need more allies, and better late than never.”

I had to agree…. But I had a better plan. “No… Don’t take that. Take the Quincy one.”

“What? Why?”

“Because they are the enemy. Information on the nature of what they can do is important. And I think I know how to get my hands on the S Blueprint in jump.”

So she took the Q-Mysterious Blueprint for 350, an Ejector for 50 more (a device that knocks a spirit out of a body. Instant Soul Eviction.). With her last 100 points, she bought Unconventional Weapon and gained… in theory… the ability to transform her Zanpakuto into flintlock soul pistols. Cool, piratey. I liked it. Were Western Soul Reapers Pirates?

I turned to the others and said, “Look… Like I said, I’m not your keeper or your overlord. I’d like to think of us as friends… though yes, ultimately I’m in charge. So I won’t order anyone to stay in the warehouse… within the limits. I don’t know if you’ll be able to exit into Karakura Town or not since I’m Shinigami, but we shall see. If you do go out, stay safe. Remember, this is a world as dangerous as Fairy Tail… without the lighthearted goofery. There are genuine superpowered demigods… and gods, for all intents and purposes. Yhwach is essentially Evil Japanese Christ… with all the insane powers that implies.”

I looked out at them and hoped that this wouldn’t be the last time we were all together. Sometimes knowledge can be a curse. I hit the drop button

Step one… Find Yhwach and his Hidden Empire… Resource… one Rolodex that lists all the ways to get in touch with and the home addresses of World Leaders… even if that world leader lives in a secret bunker hidden within the afterlife. Probably wouldn’t have worked if I wasn’t a Shinigami, but it had contact info for everyone who was anyone in the Soul Society… even Tier Harribel, the ruler of Los Noches… at least until Aizen showed up and turned her into an Arrancar… and then Yhwach showed up and turned her into a trophy. A woman leader dicked over by two men… maybe that was commentary… or maybe Kubo was an ass.

Step two… figure out how to actually get into the Hidden Empire… without tipping off the Wandenreich… of course, it was entirely possible that doing this would be what made Yhwach come after me… but the great thing about prophecy is they aren’t that specific… No matter what Yhwach thought his reasons were, he was going to come after me because I’d ticked a specific box. Had I not done so, he might or might not have come after me, because I would still have had a mad on for a genocidal, nihilistic, egomaniacal fucknugget like “A”… seriously, who makes that his nickname?

Getting into the Hidden Empire wasn’t going to be easy. They’d hidden inside the Soul Society for centuries without anyone catching on, despite, you know, there being Court Guard Squads and Intelligence Agencies designed to actively look for enemies… but then again, Shinigami are beyond smug, superior, and self satisfied. They’re a Japanese-style warrior cult with thousands of years of living memory, institutional memory, and the active knowledge that their job is not only vitally important, but that they serve an actual living god by doing it… and since they destroyed the Quincy (or so they thought) no one else could do it. That lead to incredible esprit de corps… and egotism to match.

But Step 2 meant gaining the freedom to act, and I couldn’t do that while saddled with a 20th seat… it was kinda an officer position… inasmuch as there are a couple hundred members of every squad (~3000/13 or about half of all academy graduates)… but the squads were arranged more on a dojo system than anything else. 20th seat is the lowest of the officers, but multiple people could fill the same seat (as long as it wasn’t seat 1 or 2… well… mostly just 1… but in the Gotei 13 skill mattered more than seniority.

To make matters slightly worse… I was in the squad of one of the three Traitor Captains, Squad 9, commanded by the blind Kaname Tosen. I could wait out my time and he’d eventually be replaced by Kensei Muguruma… one of the Visored… but that was a year or so down the line. What I needed was a promotion… and that meant proving myself. Unfortunately, the best squad to jump to in terms of asskicking would have been the combat squad, number 11… but I was most definitely a Kido user… as well as magics and powers the Soul Society had no names for.  

For once I wasn’t holding anything back… and the power level around me was frightening. Each Captain was probably a match for Raiden without going Bankai. And I had no way of knowing if I could face one of them… so I’d have to fight my way up. But like I said, Squad 11 was the combat squad… and you know the old saying… if you can’t join em… beat em.

But first a trip to the outskirts to hunt Hollows. I had to be sure I had the basics down first, right? And I had to get a feel for Hollows if I was going to turn myself into a Visored… If I was going to have to deal with the freaks around here, I’d need the power… like I said, I needed to have a face to face with my darker side. Sure… I could do that anyway… we were quite a collection inside our skull… but it wasn’t the same thing.

As I’d almost known it wouldn’t, Soul of Ice hadn’t imported as my Zanpakuto… which wasn’t a very hard fix. Soul of Ice imbibes that which makes it stronger… and placing a spiritual sword atop an artifactual one… the results were… horrifyingly painful I believe is the word. It was like having one’s arm disintegrated one molecule at a time, pulled apart and put back together again without ever losing sensation. But it had to be done. If I didn’t bind my soul to Soul of Ice, it almost certainly would have simply absorbed the first Zanpakuto I used it against. I’d done everything I could to make the two compatible… but a weapon import hadn’t been offered… so I had to do the fusion manually.

I still wasn’t at all certain that Soul of Ice wouldn’t just continue to drink up the reiatsu of nearly everything in the area… but for now Soul of Ice was transformed, becoming a blade of blue water glass, the purest densest form of ice, the kind of ice normally only formed under the pressure of 30,000 atmospheres. Its shape flowed as the blade remembered every form it had taken, then settled into that of something closer to a burmese dha than a katana… though with a thought it could become a katana… or a bastard sword… or a rapier… or a pulse rifle.

But now I had to Jinzen… to meditate upon the sword… that’s what they did in the show to speak to the spirit of their sword. Which was bullshit. I didn’t have to meditate crap to go into myself. I had real estate inside there… but that wasn’t a reason to be rude. Soul of Ice had served me long and hard, through thick and thin, and I’d just given it… for lack of a better word for it… a soul… part of my soul to be precise… plus a bit of Atura and Victoria too most likely.

I prepared a welcome inside the Palace of my mind and sent a message to Soul of Ice, inviting it to join me. I got no response. I sent another message to Soul of Ice, suggesting we should talk. No response. This wasn’t going well. I’d expected to have a fight against my inner demons… not against my own sword. I knew the damned thing’s name, I could Shikai… couldn’t I?

I stepped out of my mind and Shikai’d the shit out of the forest. Yup, Shikai.  I tried Bankai… nothing. Fuck. Well, I didn’t major in Energy Bending for Nothing. I opened my energy bending senses… and nearly blacked out from the sensory overload. Fuck… stupid… I was in the Soul Society… everything here was Spiritual Energy…. Wait… everything here was… I put the quest for Bankai on hold for a few minutes as I began to reshape a nearby tree, and some grass, and the rocks… crap… I could bend… everything here. This was… worrying… This was like the Spirit World of Avatar… without spirits everywhere. Just Soul Reapers, the righteous dead, and Hollows (and Quincies… fucking Spirit Cancer Psychos).  

But back to the issue at hand. I focused on my blade and… reached… into it… and pulled, gently, but firmly, the spirit within into my Mind Palace with me. Where I found myself with a sulking child.

“You’re a big meanie.” she said to me.

I blinked. “I am?”

“You keep making me drink all the nasty stuff. It tastes icky.”

I laughed. “Yes, well, it’s medicine to help you grow up big and strong. Is there anything you’d rather I gave you to drink? Tea?”

She made a face. “I like Orange Soda.”

I blinked again… “When have you ever had Orange Soda?”

“I haven’t… but you have and you never share!” She threw a shoe at me… impressive, since she wasn’t wearing any.

“Right… okay… fine. Let’s go to the mortal world and stab all the sodas in the shop… Fuck… I hope Karakura town has Orange Soda.” Turns out… Japan likes Fanta… how much you ask… there are 74 FUCKING FLAVORS OF FANTA SOLD IN JAPAN!… 74! I didn’t know there were 74 different flavors of anything! There was a shop in Karakura town… that sold nothing but Fanta! Fanta Orange! Fanta Honey Lemon! Fanta Club! Fanta Funmix! Fanta Strawberry (Heh… I left one for Ichigo in his school bag.)… Fanta Watermelon! Fanta Fantastic Five! Fanta Grape, Golden Grape, and Grapefruit! and Fanta Lychee! It was… beyond insane. I probably should have felt bad about haunting the shop… but I didn’t. We went from there to the Kit-Kat shop and I indulged my sword’s newly discovered sweet tooth. And from there we sample ALLLL the flavors of ice cream, sorbet, sorbeto, gelato, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and frozen custard we could find.

Afro-Guy (Karakura Town’s actual assigned Shinigami) asked me what I was doing and why I was in the real world without permission and why I was talking to my sword so I removed his memory of the event and went to see a movie. Much more sensible than fighting Soul of Ice… I outnumbered her, was older than her… kinda…, and ultimately had the power in the relationship and she knew it. But then… she was part of me. That’s what a Zanpakuto is, a blank soul which you shape into part of yourself.

What I wasn’t expecting was for the guy who made… aaaall the Zanpakuto… to show up just as we left the theatre and ask what the fuck I’d just done. I mean, seriously… I knew he’d said he could feel the location of every Zanpakuto… but this was… His name was Nimaiya, called the God of the Sword, and he’d invented the Zanpakuto and the process for making one. What Joy had wanted to take was essentially his primer on the process… this guy could do the real damned thing without any decoding. Of course, my first comment to him was “Wow… Nimaiya Oetsu…. you look good without a hole through your chest.” Great opening.

“You thought I was a hollow?” he asked, though it was clear he was also a bit confused as to how I knew who he was. Royal Guardsmen don’t normally mix with Court Guardsmen (despite the name).

“No… last time I saw you you were dead.”

He quirked one of his funky eyebrows at me. “When was this?”

“Little over 2 years in the future.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.”

“You could be lying.”

“I could. But I’m not. And you know it.”

“How odd. I do.”

“I have the power to speak the truth.”

“Huh. Well… that doesn’t answer the question.”

“No it doesn’t… but then again, you couldn’t understand what I’ve done. Let’s just say I took a little of what you made and… a lot of what I have built… and fused them together.”

“But it’s not…. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.”

“I know. Sorry about that. But I will tell you one thing. Find me again after the battle of Los Noches, once the holder of the crystal, he who is master of the Espada, and would be forger of the Key of Heaven in the False Town, once he has been placed in chains and sealed in a chair. Once that is done I’ll tell you everything I can. But for right now, you might want to get back to the Soul King’s Palace and try and come up with a way to turn Mortals into Shinigami without them dying… either before or after.”

“Oh? Dare I ask why?”

“Nope.”

See, I hadn’t planned on this. Really hadn’t. When I’d jumped into Psychonauts I’d had the choice to specialize in any one psychic discipline… and I’d thought in terms of Dune, my all time favorite book. Movie too, for that matter. And Twilight, a fun read, but not good by any stretch of the imagination… and I’d realized just how powerful an ability being a Precognitive Blindspot would be. And that’s why I’d picked the ability to shield myself from Precognition. And why, ultimately, I had no choice but to make myself an enemy of Yhwach… he’d have made me one anyway.

Three years from now, Yhwach, whose power “Almighty” (Hence the A) was the ability to see and manipulate the future, would declare five people “Special War Powers”, presumably based upon their potential to derail his plans. Ichigo and Kenpachi were the only two I knew for certain, though I’d read on a wiki that Aizen was one as well… which probably made Kisuke Urahara one and Ichibei Hyosube (Captain of the Royal Guard and one freaky ass monk) the last. The second he realized there was an actually unpredictable variable throwing things off, he’d focus on me as well. I could have gone into hiding and just… waited until things blew over, but that wasn’t likely to work if anything I did swung things far enough that Ichigo and company lost the war.

As far as my memory went, the series hadn’t ended when I’d left Origin Earth behind long long ago. The last chapter I’d read was something in the mid 650s and there would probably be at least 50 more chapters before the glacially paced arc ever ended (it had started at least 3 years previously). There was a stupid little story he related at one point about 60 chapters in that went something like “The sealed King of the Quincy regained his heart again after 900 years… regained his intellect after 90 more, and regained his power after 9 more… then regained the World after 9 days.” I knew that when he’d regained his intellect he’d been responsible for Ichigo and Uryu’s mothers’ deaths… and that was 6 years in the past. In under three years, the shit was very much going to hit the fan… But hopefully, I could get this taken care of before then.

But that brought me back to figuring out my Bankai… which even Soul of Ice was no help with, since she didn’t know anything about what her form might be… which meant we’d need to find out. And that meant battle… and battle meant Hollows… at least for now.

Fighting Hollows was fascinating, it really was. Each was a unique foe, each a new challenge, and I might have had the memories (mental and physical) of a Kido Adept and a Shinigami… but I needed to practice them… and to merge the Shinigami sword styles into the forms I’d spent thousands of years practicing. The skills one gained at insertion always had room to grow. Shinigami used four basic forms of combat; Zanjutsu (swordwork), Hakuda (hand-to-hand), Hoho (footwork, of which Shunpo… flashsteps… was the highest expression), and Kido (magic). I had the basics of Kido, another reality’s version of Hoho, and was almost certainly any Shinigami’s equal in swordwork and hand to hand… if only it had been entirely about skill… instead of a battle of spiritual power.

After confirming that, yes, I could kill a Hollow or 20, with my sword, I had to find out if I could do so without, with Kido and magic and martial arts and especially with Spirit Bending. As long as I carried water with me, I didn’t need a sword to perform the ritual to restore a Hollow into a soul and send it on its way. In that regard, they were much like the dark spirits of the world of Avatar. On the other hand, as Pokemon had taught me… fighting type moves weren’t too effective.  

Waiting for Rukia’s return from the mortal world, for Ichigo and company to invade, the Soul Society to save her… waiting to get the whole serious ball of wax rolling would have driven me insane if I hadn’t had so much to do. I’d read both Arrancar and Quincy blueprints cover to cover and begun plotting how I’d use them.

When the heroes finally came, it was a relief, allowing me to set aside makework (no matter how necessary) and do something. With everyone distracted, I ventured deep into the wilderness outside the walls of the Soul Society, out, out past the furthest districts of the slums, into the black as it were, leaving my weapons and armor safely tucked away in the warehouse. I found a distant valley, empty and still, and there I placed every ward and seal I could think of upon the landscape, to keep others and their prying eyes out and… more important… me in.

I pulled out the essence of Hollow I’d collected over the past couple months and drank the vile substance down, then dove deep into myself, feeling the darkness and pain and anguish rising up inside of me, all the emotions that made a Hollow a Hollow. The lust for power, the desire to survive against all foes, the need to be triumphant, everything that was purely animalistic and feral and vicious and mean… and I felt the change wash over me as she appeared.

She… was me. The old me, the me that had been there to whisper all those horrible things the voices inside your head whisper to you… you’re not good enough, you’re nothing, a quick flick of the knife…. Or if you kill them, no one will care. Or go on, laugh, laugh at the stuttering idiot… and there were more of them… She was legion. All the pain all my selves had ever gone through, the violence, the abuse, the fear, the terror, the violations both gross and fleeting. I looked at all of them, knowing I could wipe them from the face of the universe with a casual thought. I could scour away their venom as if I’d hit a delete key. But they were me, they were part of me… and they were the largest part of my motivation to do good, either because of all the bad I’d experienced or simply in defiance of their hateful mutterings.

If I’d been a native, there would have been a fight. There should have been a fight… it would have entertained the boss… and this was a Shonen Manga after all… but I wasn’t… and so I went to them, drawing each writhing nasty vicious thing into a tight embrace and a kiss of welcome and took them into myself, feeling their darkness coalesce with each, feeling my willpower fray a little more, my control tremble, my urge to lash out grow… but I maintained. I would not stop until I had claimed and reclaimed every part of me.

I had been a saint and a sinner, a murderess, a killer, an assassin, and a slayer of children and old men. I had slain tyrants and monsters, gods and demons, and simply way too damned many cyborgs, mutants, and robots… I was a work in progress… but I’d always believed enlightenment was attainable. Vajra or Bodhi, Evolutionary or otherwise, it was possible… Perhaps this was my first true step. With growing calm to match the growing tension, I embraced my faults down to the very last, welcoming them into myself and accepting that they existed. Pervert, Glutton, Prideful and Vain, Arrogant, Egotistical, Vindictive, and above all Judgmental. I accepted those things and many others, my anger, my Wrath, fading away as I stored its fuel away for later use.

I opened my eyes… looked around the valley… it was an empty bowl of dirt… everything within 500 meters was… gone. And days had passed… Almost two weeks in fact. I had missed the entire Ichigo Invasion… just as planned. Now I just had to wait through the Bount Arc and the Captain Amagi Arc (if they happened) before the Hueco Mundo Arc would begin. Now was as good a time as any to start dueling other Shinigami and testing myself. But first I had to hide my shiny new mask… It looked like the monkey king’s crown of control. I frowned at the bone white of it and tisked. “You can do better than that.” It shimmered and turned silvery-white, the color of fine white jade. I was now a Visored.

I could have attacked the members of 11th Squad one on one in ambushes, or tricked them into duels, but that wasn’t my style… at least not with “allies”. So I marched right into their compound, announced myself in a very loud voice, then challenged their 20th seats to a duel. To make the others mad, and to goad them into coming at me full force, I hit the first of the 20ths with Kido until he crumpled… then defeated the second without ever drawing my sword.

I got down to seat 8 before I hit someone who tried using Shunpo against me. I Ura Flashstepped behind him and Limited Broke him into a wall. He was fast… but I’d mastered Ura Flashsteps long ago and I could, at will shatter the sound barrier into fragments… when something says a mile a second, that’s 4 and a half times the speed of sound.

““Where is the Challenge?!” I demanded. “I thought you were Combat troops! Someone fight me!” It was ballsy as fuck, considering that could have drawn the attention of Kenpachi or even seat 3 Madarame or seat 5 Yumichika (the two members of the 11th who have actually mastered Bankai (the Lieutenant can’t, and Kenpachi doesn’t even have a Shikai as he’s never even spoken to his sword).

But it paid off with seat 7, who, after going into Shikai, actually managed to finally land a hit that caused me any pain at all. It was like getting a papercut across one’s cheek. I grinned. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” That fight lasted almost 30 seconds.

The first of three seat 6s was a brute with both speed and stamina. His footwork was impressive, as was his reiatsu… but his swordsmanship wasn’t. It was actually beginning to bother me just how poorly trained many of these Shinigami were. Far from being an elite army, the law of conservation of ninjutsu had hit hard, making the vast masses of them less impressive than the average stormtrooper. They might have been meant to be more than that, but thanks to the fiercely individualistic nature of their society and the focus on one on one battles of the storyline… as well as the glaring lack of anyone one for them to curbstomp and thus show their badassery to… they weren’t. They were essentially nameless drones there to be slaughtered just to give enemies bodies to stack. I put him down hard. And the two that followed. I still hadn’t needed to go into Shikai.

Standing with sword tip on the ground I looked at the gathered Squad 11, which now included both Peacock Head (Yumichika) and Baldy (Madarame). “This is pathetic. This is why you lost to a mortal with stolen powers, two freaks, and a Quincy! You’re nothing. I don’t know why I came here hoping for a real fight. Combat Squad? You wouldn’t know Combat if introduced itself formally. You’re thugs in robes. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

I looked out at the massed Shinigami. “I’m the 20th seat of my squad. I should have been stopped long before hitting single digits, let alone before breaking into your senior officers. You’d think a Squad that prides itself on being the best at Combat, eschewing Kido, would be better at this, but you’re not. And it’s holding you back! You’re obsessed with Combat and you stink at it. You’re like children who think “Ooo, Combat is cool!  I should do that!” but you’ve never bothered to actually learn what Combat really is!”

I pointed at their officers. “You’ve got Peacock Head, who’s so desperate to be cool that he lies about the name of his sword and hides the fact that he’s powerful enough to take out any lieutenant except for Squad 1’s. He’d probably master Bankai in a heartbeat if he’d actually talk to his sword instead of getting into sulking contests with what’s fundamentally part of himself. He could replace Tosen tomorrow if he wanted to, but no, “Combat is Cool. Kido is icky.”” I shifted to seat 4. “You’ve got a non-entity who only has his position because his betters are afraid of the number 4. You’re Shinigami… the Shi is in the name you idiots.”

I turned to Baldy. “You’re bald. Letting yourself get worked up about that is… ridiculous. You’re more childish than she is (indicating the lieutenant). And seriously… if any of you didn’t know this bald idiot could Bankai, you’re stupider than I thought. We’ve got 3 empty slots for Captains and this guy refuses to fill one of those posts because Paperwork is scary and he won’t get to fight as much. Like I said, you’re all idiots. Fighting isn’t a game. It’s not the cool thing. It should always have a purpose and that purpose is to either protect or to kill. That’s it.”

“Self Imposed limits are great ways to train. Letting monsters and traitors pound on you isn’t.” I looked at the lieutenant. “Child of Slaughter. Snack Thief. You I’d very much like to fight. But I don’t think you’d take the fight seriously, preferring to let Kenpachi do it for you. And Captain Zaraki… well, even I’m not insane enough to think I could beat him… but I’d very much like to try to last as long as I could. Yet it grows late. I think I’ll return tomorrow at dawn. Ikkaku, Yumichika, if you fight me, you’ll have fight me with your Bankai. I won’t accept anything less. Yachiru… if you fight me with all you’ve got… I have one hundred mortal chocolate bars for you. And tell your captain, if he’s ever interested in actually learning how to sword fight instead of just… hacking at things with a sword… I could use a student.”

I turned to leave. “Oh… and if any of you comes looking for me after I leave, wanting a little revenge or payback… I went easy on most of you.”

I did go back the next day. I had to. I’d given my word. It was like walking into a den of hungry jackals. I sighed, “Gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me,” I said to the senior officers, then turned to face the crowd. “If any of you… or all of you… feel hard done by what I said yesterday, please, feel free to attack me, all at once or one at a time. But know that, if you do, you’ll miss the entertainment.” Some 60 or so took me up on my offer. I signed my name in Kanji with their unconscious forms.

“Well, I’m warmed up. Who’s next?”

Question: Was I able to defeat Ikkaku or Yumichika? Answer: They’re highly powerful fighters… no I wasn’t. Not without using Shikai, which I wanted to save for something important, or Bankai, which I hadn’t mastered, or using other powers. Not without demonstrating advantages that would demonstrate just how little I was an actual Soul Reaper. I didn’t have the raw power and even with Ura Flashsteps I was having trouble keeping up with their footwork. I was supersonic… they were hypersonic. There’s a reason the Arrancar version is called “Sonido”. Still, I was beginning to see the nature of Shunpo and how to use it. But I hadn’t come to actually defeat them. I’d come to fight them.

I did kick 4th seat “Who Cares What My Name is”’s ass. After the sixth day of returning every day to fight either Baldy or Peacock head (day one prelims, day two Yumichika… good fight… day three 4th seat von no name… day four Ikkaku… day five Yumichika out of the hospital, forced him to use his fake Bankai on me, more fun… day six Blady again, still haven’t gotten him to Bankai, guy’s pretty decent at hand to hand so we did that instead of actual swordplay) I commented while tossing individually wrapped snack cakes at Yachiru to see how fast she could cut the wrappers off and eat the snacks without actually touching them with her fingers or letting them hit the floor, “It’s a long walk back to the Squad 9 Barracks.”

Ikkaku grunted, “You’re not a bad fighter, you could join our squad.”

Yumichika snapped, “She uses a Kido blade…”

“You don’t know that… She doesn’t even use Shikai.”

“Neither does Kenpachi.”

“He’s the Captain.”

“Boys. Please. Don’t beg. It’s entirely up to your Captain.”

A shadow loomed over me… a shadow with many pointed spikes sticking up from its head. “You think you’re good enough?”

“To qualify as a member of the “We Fight a lot but don’t know how to do it well squad?” Sure. There are probably some grandmas in the Ryukong that would pass muster. To fight you? Yeah, sure, why not. But you’ve got to promise not to go easy on me.”

It’s a good thing I heal fast. I got a lesson in having my ass handed to me by Kenpachi Zaraki. Once I’d proved that, yes, my blade could actually cut the Captain, even without revealing my Shikai, he stopped letting me hit him… and went on the offensive, forcing me to defend with every ounce of skill I had. Kenpachi was as far from being my equal in swordsmanship as I was from being his equal in raw spiritual power… and both of us were holding back.

“You’re not fighting with everything you’ve got!” he growled.

“Neither are you, Captain,” I responded.

“Yeah… but I’m trying not to die of boredom.”

“And I’m trying to be all mysterious and cool.”

He laughed. Then kicked me through a dozen walls. It was like… well, like being booted in the tits by an 8 foot tall psychopath with near infinite spiritual power. The walls barely hurt at all by comparison. I lay in the rubble and groaned.

“Fight over?” Yachiru asked, sounding a little disappointed. I summoned a Snickers Bar from my sleeve. “For today.”

“Today?”

“Just because you people are slackers doesn’t mean I’m going to go easy on the lower seats once you offer me the 4th seat.”

“Who said we’re offering you the 4th seat?”

“Well, Baldy would get mad having to go down to 4 and Featherface would get mad having to go up because he’s a looney who’s afraid of his friends hating him for something he can’t control. Wow, great shades of transgenderism.” I sat up, having regenerated from the beating, shocking them all with just how fast I was recovering. They hadn’t seen the hydrotap from the warehouse pumping superfluid saltwater for me to drain of its chill.

“You make me 4th seat and I’ll teach those morons in the double digits how to actually fight monsters. And in exchange, we’ll fight and I’ll teach you how to actually swing that stick in your hand like a sword.”

Kenpachi growled “I know how to-”

I arched an eyebrow, then flicked my sword from its scabbard so fast there was a sonic boom that knocked the Captain’s sword from his hand and flattened his hairspikes, ripping the bells from their tips. “You know how to fight.  But you rely entirely on power, not technique. I did that with technique… and a little bit of power… believe me when I say, there is almost certainly no one in the entire Soul Society who can match me in pure swordfighting technique.”

The big man got my point, I got a transfer, and that’s what I did until the start of the Hueco Mundo Arc, besides turning Uriel into an Arrancar, as he was technically dead… I’d always assumed he’d been saved by the Medbay… but becoming a Shinigami allowed me to see the truth… Uriel was very much dead, as in Sovngarde dead, a ghost that the medbay had given a body to match his genetic code, but the Warehouse was Uriel’s Sovngarde and the body he was using was a very adaptable gigai essentially. Turning him into an Arrancar was almost too easy.

By the time Aizen kidnapped Orihime, I’d gotten very good indeed at Kido, especially without the incantations (it wasn’t that much different from unvoiced spells at Hogwarts). I’d also gotten damned good at Shunpo, which was highly compatible with Ura Flashsteps, and I looked forward towards observing a full Arrancar using Sonido (Ahab was pretending to be a kid living with Joy, who was in the Kido Corps.) But that wasn’t the only change. Battling high energy opponents had taught me tricks with Reishi I’d never have imagined and that probably wouldn’t work anywhere else.

First, let’s clear up something… Reiatsu is Spirit Pressure, like atmospheric pressure except radiating out from powerful spiritual entities. Those entities possessed “Reiryoku” or Spirit Power… think chi but purely spiritual. Reishi was the building block of everything in the spiritual world. In direct contact with someone I could bend their Reiryoku, though it was easier to do to mortals than to Shinigami who were more aware of their spiritual nature. I could also, through energybending shape the Reishi around myself into a shield or armor or… well… anything else I could think of. If that Reishi was in the form of Water, Ice, Fire, or Lightning, my control quadrupled. Deflecting Reishi and Reiatsu attacks was getting easier and easier with every passing battle.

But I wasn’t spending all my time training just against the others of Squad 11. I’d made sure that everyone in the soul society knew of my boast to be the greatest living swordsman in the Soul Society, and that had, at first drawn the curious… and then the experts… and finally the masters. The rules were simple. No sword powers, no Kido, as pure an expression of swordsmanship and footwork as was possible. With each opponent I faced, I learned more and more of the tiny elements each had worked into their Hoho, and my own footwork improved more and more rapidly.

And I had potential students coming out the woodwork. Four hours a day I trained entire groups of Squad 11 members in group tactics, coordination, shield work (oh yes. I taught the Shinigami to use fucking shields… morons). They bitched, said I didn’t use one. I just glared at them and summoned another Psuedo-Hollow. I was drinking pure sugar syrup to keep up the strain of crafting so many of them, but there too I was getting better about making my creations more and more dangerous and intelligent. “When you have mastered fighting as a group, you can complain about my tactics.”

Of course, in the depths of the Night, I wasn’t just napping either. I had, after months of scouting… and finally just calling in Zane to get him to ask the Spirit of the Soul Society’s City where exactly the entrances to the Wandenreich’s secret lair might be found… finally managed to find my way into the hidden side of the Soul Society. Thankfully, the Hidden Empire was massive, and drastically under populated… then again, the inner area of the Soul Society was pretty underpopulated too, essentially consisting of huge swaths of labyrinth, massive villas, and pointlessly empty buildings.

And so it was, that when Ichigo and company headed off to Los Noches, I instead headed into the realm of the Wandenreich to… prune the branches. Yhwach had a power called “Auswahlen” that would allow him to transfer energy from impure or less important Quincies and give it to ones he felt were more deserving… or even himself. Thus, reducing his potential pool of energy would be useful… and if I could take out a Sternritter (his elite Guard) or one of his inner circle of guardsmen, his Schutzstaffel (seriously, could he be a bigger Nazi?) it would take a huge chunk out of his offensive force. Ultimately, my goal was to take out Lille Barro (aka X, the sniper who killed Zanpakuto guy) and Jugram Haschwalth (Yhwach’s second in command, and possessor of Yhwach’s power when big Y is napping.). Of course, to kill either of them, I’d have to strike absolutely on target without giving them a moment to respond… they were that powerful. Then again, that’s how I was planning on killing any of the Quincies in the first place.

By my calculations, Yhwach hadn’t reached the end of the 9th year yet. If he opened his eyes before that time, all his followers would, in theory, be stripped of their powers. The best way to defeat him then would be to do so before he could use his knowledge of the future… but when Yhwach slept, Jugram had his powers… and vice versa. Which was the only thing I had going for me, because Jugram’s normal powers… assuming I’d understood what I’d read… were to turn every misfortune against his attackers… and then return the damage they’d tried to do to him.

But that was for later. For now… I haunted Silbern, the ice-frosted citadel of the Wandenreich, murdering Quincies one by one and dissolving their bodies into nothing but dust. Coming for me… oh yes, the Leader of the Quincies would be coming for me… but the drawback hadn’t said anything about it being a fair fight or him having any special knowledge of me. For the time being, I waited to face the masters of the Wandenreich, doing my due diligence and reading the minds of all I passed, learning the natures and weaknesses of their gifts from their own thoughts… so very very few of them had any protection at all against mind readers.  

By the time I’d cut their numbers by 20, there was a general outcry. By the time it was 50, there was a total lockdown. I took another 10 just to prove I could and returned to the Soul Society after leaving a calling card… a Z slashed into a tapestry in the front hall.

Before the fall of Aizen, I returned twice more, each time destroying another handful of the Quincies. I’d have done more, but I had to help in the battle of Fake Karakura town… Orders were Orders. The day after Aizen was returned from Los Noches in chains, I was summoned to the Soul King’s Palace…. Or rather one of the five floating cities surrounding it. Nimaiya wanted to see me.

“Okay. Aizen’s been captured. No Oken made in Karakura town, fake or real. What’s going on?” he asked.

“Have you found a way to do as I asked?”

“Maybe. Not certain it will work. Needs damned powerful mortals.”

“I have faith in you.  And that’s why I’m going to tell you, and only you… and Ichibei who is over there in the corner hiding in his ink, erasing his own presence.” The massive shinto monk laughed as he emerged from his hiding place.

“You’re good, kid.”

“I’m better than that. And I’m an order of magnitude older than you are. But that’s neither here nor there, and I didn’t come to measure dicks. Ichibei, you’re out of my league… which is a problem… because the one who I’ve come to warn you about is out of yours as well.”

He sputtered, “Nonsense… I am the-”

“Yhwach is returning. And unless we find a way to stop him, he will kill the Soul King. He will kill the Soul King, bring about massive destruction on the Soul Society, slay you both… though Ichibei might survive being slain… hell, both of you might. I never saw confirmation of your death either Nimaiya.”

They glanced at each other, then back at me. “How do you know this?” the monk asked.

“I read it in a picture book… what the mortals call “Manga”.”

“How could a Manga tell the future?”

“Because to me this isn’t the future… this is the past. I come from a time when those things were already accomplished. Look… Yhwach’s power allows him to see everything that will happen… but not everything that has already happened… He can’t change the past. I can. I am an anomaly, and any day now he’s going to figure out that I’m a threat to him and send his minions after me. I have a plan to deal with it… but I need things in place before that happens.”

“Can you tell us how to find him?”

“I can. But if I do, there is a very real chance he’ll attack immediately. I need you to figure out a way to stop him, or at least slow him down.  But I will tell you this… When Ichigo Kurosaki returns to Los Noches… that will be the most likely time for the attack. It will be sudden, overwhelming, and extremely nasty… And Captain-Commander Genryusai will almost certainly be killed in the opening stages of the invasion.”

“You’ve gone from absolutes to qualified statements,” Nimaiya pointed out. “Why?”

“Because I’ve already changed enough variables that things may not go as I saw. I have… erased… nearly 75 of the Quincies of the Wandenreich. If all goes well, I will be able to kill two more, including the one who killed you, Nimaiya… but… and you must know this. If you kill one of the Quincies, it is possible for Yhwach to sacrifice a less important Quincy to restore a more important one to life…. More powerful than before. Also… if I can’t take out the one named Lille Barro… his bullets cannot be blocked and will hit even if you dodge them. Reflecting them back at him is the only way, and it will take a very powerful spirit mirror to do so.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. Yhwach can empower even what you erase, Ichibei. I saw you erase his voice, half his power, and erase his name and he still decapitated you. Now, Nimaiya… I have some friends I’d like you to meet.”

Sniper duels are a tradition as old as the sniper game. Two hunters stalk each other across a wilderness of covers and blinds and roosts, waiting for the other to make a mistake. I had no interest in having such a duel with Lille Barro… For one, he was bug-fuck insane. But I did have a plan.  

Jugram’s best friend as a child had been Bazz-B… stupid name, I know… and Bazz would try and kill Jugram once he realized how little Yhwach cared about his followers. Time to accelerate that battle a bit. I hunted down Bazz inside Silbern, and… with a flick of will… drew him inside the Theater of the Palace of my Mind.

“Hello Bazz.”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“I am… Yhwach’s enemy. My name is irrelevant.”

“Where are you?”

“I am in everything you see and everything you hear and touch.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“True. Regardless, Yhwach thinks you are nothing but expendable assets, tools to get him where he wants to be.”

“Lies! You lie!”

“Oh. I do. I lie all the time, in little ways and big ways and ways so enormous your tiny little mind can’t comprehend them. But I’m not lying about this.” I threw up images from the manga… but these images had been recreated out of my memories using the actual people in the actual places. These were pictures only in the purest sense of the term. They were the next best thing to real. “This will happen,” I said, showing him the moment where Yhwach would pull the life and power out of those Quincies he’d deemed worthless.

“How… he wouldn’t… you don’t know him,” the hotheaded Quincy said, sounding almost plaintive.

“I know you,” I replied, showing him the moments of his own past, drawn in equal parts from his own mind and from the pages of the comic. “Only Jugram has value to him. The rest of you are only of value until you aren’t. Loyalty, Honor… these mean nothing to the man who would be god.”

He trembled, finally falling to his knees. “What can I do?” he asked after an hour of motionless silence. I told him to bring Jugram to a place just inside the walls of the Soul Society at midnight, where he’d show him the person killing all their fellow Quincies… and then, together, we’d take him down, then move on Yhwach. “Why at night? He can see what will happen at night.”

“Yes, but he can’t turn our luck against us. There’s a small chance, but just because you can see everything, doesn’t mean you can stop it from happening.”

Bazz is, for a Quincy, well meaning… but he’s a moron of the first water. He showed, as I’d known he would, with Jugram in tow. Jugram had to know this was a trap. I was hoping he would. Which is why I was perched atop the highest point in the Soul Society and about to do something insane.

One of my creations, one who looked like me and had a similar soul signature entered the square, and promptly attacked. Bazz, seeing that as the signal, attacked Jugram from the other side. I closed down all my senses into the moment, the butt of Soul of Ice’s rifle form snug against my shoulder. I was not breathing, my heart was not beating. I was, all together, in that moment. And then I fired.

The bullet raced the speed of light towards Jugram’s head, crossing the intervening miles in hundred thousandths of a second. And yet he turned towards the shot, the shot that must have passed out of my unpredictability field and I saw him raise his hand to block the Reishi Bullet with the Cero field, a Quincy Bolt loosed from a bow never made by a child of the Father of All Quincies, that glowing pulsing, glaring ball of death. And then, with all his power and focus fronting on the bullet…  I plunged my sword into his back.

“Predict this, mother fucker. Ban… Kai.” and a billion monomolecular snowflakes exploded out of Yhwach’s other half’s form. The area froze solid in an instant, froze and quaked and shattered, just like Jugram. Just like the bullet of energy fired from Lille Barro’s rifle that was targeted right at my chest. I grinned “Just as planned.” and grunted as thing punched a hole the size of a baseball right through my chest. Fuck… that hurt.

In the moment or so I had before I blacked out, I summoned a doppleganger with an identical wound, set to die spectacularly, and shunted myself into my medbay. Having 80% of your heart, most of your solar plexus, and bits of your lungs and esophagus vaporized is not fun, even if you’re a spirit at the moment. Good thing I had two hearts.

Clutched in my hand, however, was the soul of Jugram Haschwalth, the letter B that formed his power, that had been inscribed upon his very essence by Yhwach himself. Quincies… gotta love em… reality is a playtoy. Well, let’s see you raise Jugram without a body or soul, mein Fuhrer,

The next 14 months were… dull. Very very dull. I spent them in the mortal realm, wearing a different body and just being a normal nobody. Couldn’t let Yhwach suspect his hitman had failed. So I waited, and waited, and waited. No practicing, no… nothing. Normal Joe Mortal (I was going male for this bit, just to be more confusing. It had been a while. My male human form was as big as Kenpachi… wow… hunky.)

But if I wasn’t practicing… my followers, my Maskadors were.  A little bit Quincy but without the link to El Psycho Supremo, a little bit Shinigami, and a little bit Hollow… and all eager to cause some mischief. RayRay’s Bankai was… well… if using Dragon Ascent made her Mega Rayquaza… this was Giga Rayquaza… on steroids… with a Cero Heilig Pfeil breathweapon. The Six-Armed Asura Metagross could fire six at once. Zane, for reasons surpassing understanding, had a Zanpakuto shaped like Squall Lionheart’s Gunblade… and yes, it too fired Quincy Arrows. Kendra’s Windbow could now mow people down with scythe-like windblades. It was… to be honest, terrifying to watch the dailies from Velma.

I’d paid in kind for Nimiya’s Guide to Shinigami Creation. I’d traded plans for defenses designed specifically to keep Quincies out of key places, chambers that were my best guess at how to make Dune-Type No-Rooms, rooms that defied precognition. They weren’t perfect, but they’d haze things up a bit. I also lent Nimiya my Aura Booster to study and try out. And just to be a sport about it, I cleaned up his mental landscape for him, sorted his emotional baggage, cleared the Psychic Cobwebs, the usual. I owed it to him.

Eventually the Invasion happened, as it always does, and Joy called me with the two word message “Go Time.” Ultimately I hadn’t changed much, over all. The invasion went off much as it had in the manga, but this time as a much less of a one-sided curbstomp. The Wandenreich took hellish losses just to delay the prepared and eager Shinigami. Allied losses were a third what they had been, and Yhwach was pressed more and more to accomplish his goal before interference stopped him.

But still, things played out in a similar fashion. Genryusai died. No great loss. Others died as well, which was sad, but it happens. And still I didn’t make my move. I waited, and waited, until Ichibei faced off against the man of the hour, waiting until the forgone (known by all involved) conclusion to their fight. And then I confronted Yhwach.

“You cannot stop me!” he shouted.

“You cannot know that,” I countered, centered and calm.

“This is Destiny! It has been foreseen!”

“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

“What?!”

“Exactly.”

“Get out of my way.”

“Or What?”

“I’ll swat you.”

“Heh. You and what army?”

“Once I know a power, I am immune to it.”

“I love that about you guys. Every fucking idiot in this world has to explain, in battle, how their power works. Seems to be a god damned law of reality. I dunno about you, but whatever my power was, I’d lie.”

“Lie?”

“Yeah. Lie. Like I did when I killed Jugram.”

“You lied?” He looked confused.

“Oh. Yes. Very much so.”

“How so?”

“I said Bankai.”

“So?”

“That wasn’t my Bankai. That was my Shikai. You’ve never seen my Bankai. No one ever has.”

“So what? You can’t beat me! I am Yhwach!”

“Yeah yeah yeah, you’re a pretty princess. Daddy was mean to you and didn’t give you enough presents and so you’re going to kill billions of people just so you can feel special. Fuck a duck, you need help.”

“Silence!  I will not be-”

“Oh yes you will be.”

“I shall destroy you! You have made a mistake facing me alone!”

“Alone? Who said I was alone?” I drew my sword. “Watch carefully. You’ve never seen anything like this before. Bankai… All of Me.”

And the world… exploded. This wasn’t an Ice Age. This wasn’t anything that nice. This was an Ice Epoch. Two hundred me’s, all throwing off Icy waves of power exploded onto the scene, each wielding a different Soul of Ice. This wasn’t just my true Bankai… this was my Semblance… and the true form of my limit break… all rolled into one. This was the nature of my soul… Winter, in all its facets, a storm of Ice and Snow and winds that made absolute zero seem like a summer’s day. This wasn’t just cold… wasn’t just Winter.. This was the Winter of the Soul. I could maintain it for 13 seconds.

It was long enough. Cast a big enough shadow and you can hide anything. Yhwach could see everything, every action… but he wasn’t god. He could not see inside people’s souls, could not know why they did what they did. But I could. I could be inside all those minds, planting suggestions, ideas, memories of conversations we’d had that had then been erased from history… except in memory. I could edit the timeline, jumbling things, making a mess of precognition.

In effect, I’d hacked Yhwach’s future out from under him. As the ice tightened around him, sealing him in crystal just like the Soul King, I whispered into his mind “And on the 7th day, She ate his eyes.” and the demonic cryogenic ice-fish I’d created to live and move within my eternal Ice, began gnawing at the Usurper’s eyes. They would never, ever, stop.

“You wanted to be god. Those who plot to overthrow god get frozen in ice and sealed in a pit.” I waved my hand and we were inside his Palace, before his throne. “I’ve moved Silbern. Ichibei has created a separate realm for you to rule. You should feel honored. We call it the Oubliette. There are no souls here, no reishi, and no power can enter without the key. There’s one copy.” I held it up. “It can’t be used from the inside… so once I leave, no one will ever enter it again. But, don’t worry, you have plenty of space here… after all, it’s bigger on the inside. We left you a window. Enjoy the view.” And I dropped the key in front of his icy prison and left him there, staring out of the Soul King’s left eye… forever.

As for what happened next? Filler Arcs. Lots and lots of Filler Arcs.

Next: World 37 – More of the Same

Resources: BuildDocument

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(note, this uses the older Bleach Document, not New Bleach or Bleach Reborn, neither of which were out at the time.)

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