I walked towards the Eighth Division without concealing my presence.
Shunsui had been extraordinarily polite and welcoming to me last time despite the fact that I had basically infiltrated their military society and stolen from them. The least I could do was reciprocate that even in this kind of situation.
Besides, pretty much any idea of secrecy had gone way out the window already. Ichigo's Reiatsu was blazing without restraint and Yoruichi already said they could detect a disturbance by arriving at Soul Society by Dangai, so here we were.
I suppose it didn't matter as I was here to try and get his cooperation and this would probably endear him more to the 'cause' as it were.
I could vaguely feel his own Reiatsu probing mine without coming down hard like I knew he could do. More came off like a greeting and an acknowledgement to come in.
Ugh, this whole thing was annoying me.
With my lips thinning, I pushed open the barracks to the Eighth Division and found him sitting on the ground once more. He knew I was coming so it was clear he had prepared a little welcoming. And his Lieutenant was standing off to the side.
Shunsui cast me a small glance and didn't say anything as he threw his head back and downed a glass of Sake. Though his Lieutenant was glaring my way and I could guess the reason.
"Sorry for dropping in again like this." I felt I at the very minimum I owed him an apology. He nodded and I took a seat opposite of him.
"I didn't expect to see you again so soon….and I was hoping I wouldn't." He replied letting out a tired sigh. "The old man got mad at me last time even if I got out of trouble for the most part. A second time…I can't do it again."
I winced a little. "Yeah, I figured."
"You came to me anyways." He said as a matter of fact.
"I have….some manner of confidence that we can resolve this situation without fighting."
"I'm open to any alternative. However, if you can't convince me, I won't let you off like last time. Especially with what happened with Mayuri, I'll have to take you seriously from the start."
"Can you satisfy my curiosity first? How did that conversation go?"
He quirked a smile, barely holding back a laugh. "Which part? The Dragon or the Brick?" He asked.
I snickered a little under my breath. "I suppose both?"
"Well, everyone's scratching their heads about the supposed Dragon." He revealed with no small amount of interest himself, though he didn't outright ask me. "And Mayuri will never be able to live down the Brick."
"Good." I breathed out. "Did you know he exploded one of his subordinates to try and get me for whatever reason?"
He blinked, his expression shifting a few times. "I did not." He said rather darkly. "I'll be sure to tell the Old Man about that."
Well, it wasn't my place to interfere, and he seemed genuine in his own distaste for such action.
"I have a question of my own, if you don't mind."
"Shoot." I reached for my own cup of Sake he had already prepared.
"…..did you meet Captain Unohana?"
"I did, did she say anything about me?"
"If nothing else, I owe you a drink for that alone." He raised a cup up. "I don't think anyone else here has the courage to flirt with her."
"Really? What's so strange about it? She has a very beautiful smile, and I enjoyed the time we spent together talking about this and that." It's not like I did anything beyond that. I wouldn't take any large steps in that direction without consent from my other girls. Nor was I even sure I wanted to at the moment. The whole situation was…..turbulent.
We could very well end up enemies by the end of this little jaunt.
"Ara, you really…" He shook his head with a laugh. "You hear this, Nanano?"
His lieutenant pushed up her glasses with a slight twitch. "Yes, Captain."
"Do you think she'd want to see me again?" I asked.
He chuckled, sipping on his cup again. "Normally, I'd give you my support but considering the circumstances…"
"Speaking of." He set his cup down. "Should we cut to the chase?"
"I'm guessing my being here isn't going to go over well."
"One time, we could write it off and soothe over any bruised egos. A second time, especially so soon, people are going to be unhappy. I hope you have a good reason for being here. We were alerted that someone broke through the Dangai into Soul Society and we've been on alert since then, especially with what happened right around the same time. Ever since that weird feeling swept through Soul Society, everyone's felt like there was someone looking over their backs and it's made everyone rather tense."
Oh….I guess Izzy's anger was felt here by everyone without a doubt.
"I actually didn't intend to come back so soon." I scratched my head. "Funnily enough, I'm just a tag along this time."
"A tag along?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah…imagine my surprise when some kids get the idea into their heads to invade Soul Society to rescue a friend of theirs that was recently arrested."
"You're talking about the Kuchiki girl." He hummed, pouring more sake into his cup. "I heard the report that you were present when Captain Kuchiki and Captain Ichimaru both apprehended her. They mentioned the human that she gave her powers to, a young kid who went by the name of Kurosaki Ichigo."
"….yeah." I sighed. "That little joke came back to bite me in the ass."
"So you say that a group of humans came to rescue Kuchiki Rukia?" He summarized.
"That more or less is the gist of it."
He nodded in understanding. "Answer me something." He stroked his beard after setting his cup down. "Why haven't you simply gone to rescue her yourself? I think everyone underestimated you last time, but it's clear you're capable. Mayuri was one matter, but Captain Ichimaru was another. I wouldn't call Mayuri particularly strong among us Captains, but Captain Ichimaru is…..I would have to put my life on the line to beat him if it came down to it. And the report says that he was ready to release his Bankai. That isn't a feat many could claim, especially a Human."
"In all honesty I could confidently break her out and take her away. I wouldn't say it'd be particularly difficult either unless you have Captains guarding her nearly every minute of the day."
"That's a bold claim, but I believe you." He didn't look the slightest bit disturbed by my reply. "Continue."
"For all their good intentions, they're just a bunch of stupid kids. Their ring leader doesn't have any plan beyond beating up anyone who gets in his way."
Shinsui snorted with a little laugh. "Sounds like he'd make a good Shinigami."
"But realistically, what happens after? Assuming he grabs Rukia and they leg it out of here without any fuss. Would Soul Society leave them alone?"
"Not a chance." Shunsui shook his head. "It would become a matter of pride at that point."
"Right, that was my thought as well. Not to mention, what would Rukia even do afterwards? Soul Society is her home, where would she go? What would she do with her remaining existence?"
"And you have a solution I assume?" He asked, being very patient even though he was supposedly supposed to be arresting me at this moment.
"I do, but first let me ask you. What exact crime Is she guilty of? And does she have any kind of hearing or 'court' sentencing?"
"She was already sentenced to death by the Central 46." Shunsui revealed with a hint of distaste in his tone. "As for her crime, specifically, it's a punishable offense to transfer our powers to a Human."
"Suppose that there was a miscarriage of justice that happened in this situation. How difficult would it be to overturn that ruling?"
He raised an eyebrow and looked thoughtful. "Central 46 is known for being….inflexible. However, her being a Noble does have benefits in this situation."
"What if she didn't transfer her powers to a Human?" I offered.
"Semantics won't do much good here. This isn't like your human courts where you can get off on something small like that."
"Did the report say what Captain Ichimaru did to Ichigo?"
"I believe he said that he destroyed the source of Shinigami powers that the Kuchiki girl transferred to him before you arrived." And there was a flash of understanding as his eyes slit up. "So that begs the question, how is that young man here at the moment."
"He apparently awoke his own Shinigami powers." I revealed. "So that is to say, did Rukia really transfer her powers to a Human?"
"That….." He blinked and again looked rather thoughtful. "We might be able to work with that. I know that Ukitake would be ecstatic to know that he might be able to save one of his squad members."
Yoruichi said something about that, the captain of her squad.
"However, you're still overlooking one important detail."
"You all are here." He said simply, taking another drink.
"So even if Rukia is found innocent, they won't let everyone off. Is that what you're saying?"
He nodded again. "They'll want to save face."
"What are my options?"
"Well….." He put his cup down, scratching his cheek.
"What if I strike a deal with your boss?" I asked.
"My boss?" He blinked. "You wanna go talk to the Old Man?" He had a strange look on his face. "Ara, you really are a daring kid. You would walk up to the Old Man while being a wanted criminal and try to…..negotiate?"
"Would it work?" I asked again.
"…maybe." He didn't sound too sure. "If you told me you were going to talk to the Old Man, I could let you off though. He wouldn't get on my case if I sent you his way quietly. Well….he'd probably get a little mad, but I could talk my way out of it based on what we've said so far."
"I think I have a way to get everything settled neatly after the dust settles. Though, I'm hoping that your Boss is willing to even sit down and talk. He won't just call for my head the moment he sees me, will he?"
"You should be more worried about being burned to a crisp. But….The old man isn't as inflexible these days. At the very least he won't cut down someone who isn't looking for an immediate fight. He'll probably listen to what you have to say, but how receptive he is depends on his mood."
"I'm good at running away, so if things go sideways, I can always get out in a hurry." I slowly stood up from my spot. "Would it be bad if I asked you for directions again?" I'll go check up on everyone else then tell them what my current goal is before heading over there.
He let out a bark of laughter. "Sure, I'll tell you how to find the old man's office."
"Shatter – Kyōka Suigetsu."
I watch the man, spirit – Shinigami used his sword. Wilhelm had briefly described the whole thing to me, these Zanpakutō of theirs. It's strange, these Shinigami almost reminded me of lesser deities even if they possessed no Divinity. These swords of theirs were a little reminiscent of Authorities as well.
I felt something try to tickle my senses. Invisible tendrils shot out and tried to latch onto me. It was as if they were trying to obscure my entire perception of reality.
It didn't take much more than a thought to shunt off the attempt. Perhaps if it were another God, it would have been more difficult to disregard,, but too many things were stacked in my favor that I didn't have to treat it as a real threat. I had an advantage over Spiritual Beings due to my status as a Death Goddess. Not to mention I was technically standing upon my Domain, Japan itself.
I could admire how elegant it appeared. Frankly, If I was not a Goddess, I don't think I would have even noticed what was going on. This Shinigami was exceedingly strong if the power he was suppressing was anything to go by. For a 'mortal', that is. I believe they measured strength by the pool of Spiritual Power they contained, and his felt much higher than the spirit masquerading as a cat.
It's funny, he would have had a better shot if he'd gone the more forceful and brutish method. I can stop those types of little probes and touches easily, but if he just brought his strength to bear, I would have to put effort into defending myself. If he simply gathered all his power and released it in the most abrasive and direct way, it would do a significant amount of raw damage. And Gods aren't immune to that kind of thing, there have been Gods slain by mortals in the past by achieving monumental feats of direct power.
However, Wilhelm was correct, these Shinigami shouldn't be underestimated if this one was anything to go by. Even by the standards I am used to, he would be considered strong back home. But he's not quite at the level of a God.
Almost immediately, the spirit disguised as a cat changed her form back to what it should properly be. And I'm unsurprised that it turned out she was a beautiful woman. Should I be worried that Wilhelm was wooing this one as well?
I suppose that on a list of flaws, being a womanizer was rather low on the negative aspect.
Hmm, was I the only one not caught up in his ability? It's clear he had some sort of method to trick the senses and I could see everyone else staring at the spot he was standing in a moment prior as he moved to the side.
"I have some questions, and I feel you will not be cooperative. So, I will have to use a bit of force and incapacitate you."
He went to stab the woman at the front who was standing forward protectively, however, she jerked her body and dodged, throwing a haphazard fists at his general direction, blowing a hole through the nearby wall.
The Shinigami looked mildly surprised as he disappeared in a flash, reappearing a few feet away.
Once more, Wilhelm was correct.
Their speed was absolutely nothing to scoff at.
I had to somewhat focus to follow his movements. I watched them do a strange dance where it was clear that the woman didn't quite know where he was, but still was throwing out attacks that he had to move out of the way, even if they weren't all that decisive. Well, the Shinigami didn't look too concerned after the brief moment of surprise subsided, he seemed to be dodging easily.
"I see, I suppose I should not underestimate the instinct of the former Commander of the Onmitsukidō." The one named Aizen came to a stop.
"No, keep underestimating me, I'll eventually punch that stupid face of yours." The Cat held up her fist with a little grin.
The Shinigami tilted his head and looked our way. "I wonder if such honed instinct works if I target someone else?"
He moved completely around her and she didn't notice him much. There was a twitch here or there, but he appeared near us.
I believe he merely picked at random, as he appeared next to the child born from both Japan and Mexico.
It did not appear he intended to kill the child, but even so. Before he could lower the edge of his blade into him, I grabbed it.
"These children are under my protection." I told him, looking him right in the eyes.
His own widened in surprise as he struggled to pull his weapon free. "You –"
I did not wish to hear his words. I used my other hand, and slapped him with a gathering of shadows around me.
I watched his body got sent hurling through a wall or two before he disappeared from my sight.
"What the hell?!" The Cat looked at me in surprise as well. "You can see him!?"
"Yes?" I tilted my head.
"You escaped my Zanpakutō's power?" The one named Aizen pushed away the debris blocking the new exit he had made with his body, walking back over a little disheveled. "No….it never had an effect on you. I cannot sense any Reiatsu nor can I even perceive your existence beyond my physical senses…."
"Shit you weren't caught in it? Then we might have a chance." She landed next to me. "Can you call out his location when he moves?"
"Is he a danger?" I asked.
"That's an understatement. He's hiding behind a masquerade right now, but if he shows his real power…"
"Is that so?" My lips thinned as I glanced at the children who had taken up a defensive posture behind us. Even the brash child with orange hair was acting protective of the ones he brought into this situation. I didn't really know the situation, but Wilhelm asked me not to kill anyone. And if this Spirit decided to go all out, I would have to expend effort to subdue him, but there was the possibility he lashed out violently and involved the children.
Well, he did look like he wasn't going to play around anymore. Very well, I shall do what I promised Wilhelm.
"I see, you are certainly no human, you are no Hollow, and you are no Shinigami." The man looked at me with a strange glint in his eyes. "What are you?"
"Annoyed." I answered flippantly, raising my hand up and tensed as the light above disappeared, and a large hand instead blotted out the sky. My hand to be precise. It was enough to flatten the area around us for a good distance, and he appeared to look a little serious at my 'attack'.
He raised his hand up and that Spiritual Power of his gathered in a significant quantity. I believe he was about to cast one of those Spiritual spells that Wilhelm told me about.
Though, it didn't really matter.
Before he could even utter a word my large 'hand' in the air dissipated as if it was never there in the first place. Instead, his eyes shot downward where the shadows crept up and grabbed onto his legs. He realized the danger immediately and tried to swipe his sword through them, which…. did sever a few, but they descended upon him in droves, an uncountable number that soon enveloped him entirely within the blink of an eye.
"You can go away now." I swiped my hand downward before he had a chance to respond, and I dragged him into the space that existed underneath this place in the shadows.
That should take care of that for now. I think Wilhelm would be proud of me, I handled that without much collateral damage and without putting the children in harm's way. I'm sure he can escape that place eventually, and I can always retrieve him before we leave. Besides, I felt there were other people down there, so he should be fine. At the very least, he won't be a problem for a while.
Wilhelm had requested that I don't kill anyone if possible, so I believed this was a job well done.
"I gave him a time out; I believe we can proceed now." I figuratively wiped my hands clean of this mess. "Why are you looking at me like that?" I asked towards the Cat who had an indecipherable look on her face.
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