KaraKura town outside Ichigo's house/clinic.
Chad and Uryu looked up at Ichigo's window. "His window's open." Chad said. Uryu pressed his lips together for a moment caught in indecision. The year had not been a happy one for any of them, unlike him there had been no way back for Ichigo. "Fine lets go in. Just lets not talk about the past or our abilities." They walked up the flight of stairs and got the shock of their lives as Ichigo was in soul reaper gear while a blonde haired kid was wearing Ichigo's running suit. Wolfing down Kon's oatmeal. "Ah....Hi?" Chad said announcing them as the door had been left open.The kid stopped pigging out and started to sneeze oatmeal all over Kon. "Oh lord I'm so sorry! Let me wash..." His voice took on a squeezed tone as his throat constricted. Ichigo swore. "He's allergic. Uryu go get the shot. Its in the downstairs fridge." Uryu rushed down stairs and up in time to see the boy being held still by Chad. Uryu quickly uncapped and plunged the medicine into into the kid's closest vain. The kid went limp.Ichigo quickly checked Abel's eyes, lungs and heart. Abel suddenly gasped awake. "What the hell was that for?" He grabbed the spot the needle had gone in. "You were having an allergic reaction to the oatmeal. You would have died without the shot." The kid shook his head. "Ow. That isn't supposed to happen. Oh boy I don't think I'm quite done with it." Abel went pale and started to sweat. Ichigo ran him to the bathroom and stayed with him. While Uryu and Chad stood in the living room. Coming out Ichigo sat Abel down on a chair.
"Thanks.I-we don't eat normally so I didn't know. Sorry." Abel said reddening. Ichigo ruffled his hair and smiled softly. "Just glad we could save your butt." Uryu coughed and brought the two's attention back to him and Chad. "You have some explaining to do. Just tell me you didn't do anything stupid again." Abel growled hoarsely. Ichigo put a steady hand on the boy's shoulder. "Easy, they have a right to ask." Chad looked around."Where's your body?" Ichigo walked to them. "I don't need a mod soul. I am what you see." Uryu paled. "You're not dead are you?" Ichigo snorted. "No. I'm not dead. Far from it. If you don't believe me, take and listen." He handed his friend a stethoscope. Uryu warmed it with his breath before applying it and paled more and more as he followed the beats to their origins. "Ichigo you have 3 hearts. That's not possible. The human body doesn't have enough room for 3...." He looked over at the recovering stranger.
"What have you done to my friend?" The boy raised his head and looked straight into Uyru eyes. The boy had eyes that were disturbingly more clear then the hint of blue they suggested.
" I did nothing to him. He is, always has been more then mortal. He is a soul smith. One of the very few left in all the realms that exist. All smith's have 3 hearts, one for each wing and one heart of hearts." Ichigo frowned. "Then why are they now just beating?" Abel sighed.
"You are mortal.Yes.Unless you are needed they tend to hide. Smith's are not always looked on with love and respect, it's more of a fear thing. Not that they shouldn't be, but it was never warranted.They never pressed their advantages."
"What kind of advantages?" Chad asked. Abel eyed him, his eyes seeing more then Chad was comfortable with. "At the height of their numbers and strength they could have taken over all but the Heaven Realm. Every zenpakuto is theirs to command if they deem it necessary. As the name implies the weapons are their creations. Even Zengetsu and Zenbon Zakura. Two of the most-were the most corrupt souls ever conquered, one most recently by you Ichigo." The 3 looked at each other. "Zakura is Byakuya Kuchiki's zenpakuto. Does he know?" Abel shrugged. "That was long ago. Zen bon Zakura was defeated when Mistress Gloryflower had aged 4 years. No small feat, I can assure you. He was the most corrupted soul ever to grace the Hall of the Unforgiven. He didn't have just one wall of failed smith heads but two, when she stole him and accepted his sins as her own. Somehow she found a way to break his soul's darkness. You know what that's like, you wore and defeated Zengetsu." Abel said turning to Ichigo. "That isn't possible. No child that young could take on what I did." Ichigo started to pale. "There were consequence of course. When the shell finally fell away leaving Zakura's ghost at her feet, the reaper had already taken the swing to decapitate her. Zakura pulled her down just in time and then nearly killed the reaper, who was her great uncle. Her touch alone saved the man. As for the reaper who holds the sword now....she gave the clan her sword as a promise of her protection. At least that's what the books say. As for the truth you would have to ask the Arch-Angel or the smith....but good luck on that one.....I'm hungry again. How does this work, so I don't get sick again?" Uryu came forward narrowing his eyes at the stranger. "Who the hell are you?" Abel stood up tall, strong and steady. Flapping out his temporary wings. "I am Abel. Soldier of the Arch-Angel Michael. Future slayer of Lucifer and Lord of Smiths. Besides God there is no one we or smith's kneel to." Abel went suddenly even more threatening. Solemnly he bowed deeply to Ichigo. "Ichigo I thank you for naming me." Then he was gone, not in a flurry of feathers or wind sweeps from his wings. He was just gone. "Abel?Damn it kid what are you thinking? You better come back alive."
Back in the neighboring town, in a small grocery store.
Yuzu entered the small grocery store as it was rumored to have some ingredients that very few if any store in Karakura town provided without a hefty price tag. She'd made it to the back of the store and seen not just the cook but their waitress. "Oh hi.You're....." Her words were cut off as the waitress turned to her, her face distorted and mouth filled with gore as the butcher's eyes looked out of the woman's mouth. Which she popped in a snap of her strong jaws. Her smile spread to her ears.
"Oh hello, yes I'm Vanity or Vain, but that won't matter in a few moments.Right Pride?" She finished and then paled, touching the sudden head sized hole that had appeared in her chest. Pride squawked loud and grabbed up Yuzu. "Damn it all to hell. I really wanted to take my time with you." Abel saw him run for the door with the girl in his arms and appeared in front and to the side so that his demon killer could do it's job. Pride felt his mid-section come loose as the blade bite into him. As he fell he bite down on Yuzu's arm, taking a chunk and swallowing.Tears falling. "Oh you would have been so good." Then he fell apart and evaporated. Abel caught Yuzu in his arms, blood and demon saliva assaulted his senses as he laid her down on the floor. "Shit!" Abel said as he quickly put his healing skills to work. His wings feathering out to help keep her soul connected to her body. Her eyes fluttered up seeing them. "Don't move...."She raised up her good arm and touched his appendages. Abel' s eyes widened in the sudden warmth that spread throughout his body. He shivered in the meaning. "I'll give my life for you." Abel compressed the whole of his life energy, his very being and poured it into his beloved's demon poisoned body. His blood boiled, skin began to tear itself open at the pores, even the wound became his.Nothing could be missed or else she would die in this life and the next. At every turn that said he needed to retreat he refused and advanced till she breathed free of the stench of the grievous sin of Pride. He looked up in time to see Yuzu's father and Karin enter before he lost his ability to keep up right. Karin and her father stood stock still and watched the ruined angel fall across Yuzu. "No! Please-please, don't die! Please!" Yuzu yelled as she held him while he breathed his last. His body became nothing but pin feathers that blew out the door. Leaving only 2 large feathers behind him as a memento. Her father quickly scooped her up. "Oh papa! He's gone!" He choked on his emotions as they headed out the door. "That was his job, baby. That's what he was here for. Lets get moving. Karin the Society needs to know of this, we may have not been the only ones targeted." Karin nodded. "Not until we are back home." He shook his head. "No now! This is too damn serious! Go! We'll be fine, I'll call Keisuke." She nodded and left as her mod soul activated.
Fort Brimstone: Sepulcher of the Victorious.
Abel's ruined covered body hung limp in Arch-Angel Michael's arms. Hisana followed behind him a respectful distance, he didn't want to have her see the boy so done in. The demon venom had kept going even after death. He deposited the boy on the alter, his name boldly displayed in gold lettering as was the soul smith's name and date of when he had been named. "It's not fair." Hisana said quietly to her husband. "That does not matter. He did good. We lose angel's in every battle.You don't argue then." Hisana swallowed her emotions. "You know why." Michael turned and seen the few tears that had slid past her strong front. He softly smiled. Yes he knew. Love. He had done it for the one that was meant for him. Only him. He sighed and his wings sagged in defeat. "Well he does need to lose that bet and he did leave her 3 feathers. Can't very well let him off that easily. Plus I do have to live an eternity with you and I'd rather you be happy then a harpy." Which he knew he would pay for later. He eased the cover from the child's face and kissed what remain of his forehead. The body healed immediately, nothing of the sin Pride remained. "Go with God my boy. With permanent wings this time. You've earned them." The body was gone in a blinding flare of light, leaving only the image of him on the covering. Hisana hugged him and sneaked a hand up to his feathers. "Not here! Really woman!" Hisana traced the outer edge of one. "Then we had best not stay here or we will have heaven to pay." Michael had never laughed much in his life after his brother's fall. But with Hisana.... he had never felt so much joy, that to deny his laughter would be close to a mortal sin.
Living Realm Karakura town-sunset end of Ichigo's first day as a Soul smith on his families deck.
Ichigo felt the electricity in the air as his first day of being a soul smith close. He felt .... not exactly different....just....possibly more whole. As if he'd just received a large piece of a puzzle that had up until now been withheld until he'd become worthy of having it bestowed on him. But all good things come to an end,his thoughts turned to Abel. Who'd jumped into whatever trouble without him....he had to be alive. He'd just been given a name, he had to make his mark before....he shook his head. Ichigo took a breath to calm himself. He was alive. Because Ichigo would accept nothing other then that answer. He felt his branded arm. Abel had said it would react with the darkness. Chad and Uryu had made him put away his soul smith uniform, which was identical to a soul reapers. "Better to be cautious. We don't need that creepy clown of a captain finding out your back on the front lines." He hadn't even taken the time to study his new zenpakuto. Ichigo eased it out of its sheath. Only to drop it onto the decking, as a woman dressed in flames erupted from the sword. She bowed to him in deep respect before meeting him eye to eye. "I am here my master. What is your bidding?" Ichigo's mouth hung open and then closed as he put 2 and 2 together. "I am not your master. We are a team....friends." The zenpakuto blinked and her face suddenly broke its stiffness. She hugged him tightly to her as she broke down in tears. "Finally my prayers have been answered. Yes, we are a team. We are more then friends...." Ichigo eased her off and shook his head. "Not more...." The zenpakuto started to laugh. "I don't see what's so funny, you just suggested....." She waved her hand. "No that's not what I meant. We....I have been handed down through the ages in the soul smith clan of Gloryflowers. I have always been viewed as a tool, but I have always wanted to be...." Ichigo finished for her. "A part of the family." What was it with these last 2 weeks? Dreams, pendants, flames, lightning,angel's in training, and a new set of responsibilities.
" I don't know any Gloryflowers." The statement caught the zenpakuto off guard. "What do you mean? You are a soul smith. YOU ARE A
GLORYFLOWER. How can you not know?" She looked deeply into his eyes and paled."You do not know. That is unforgivable." Ichigo felt his face redden. "Weather or not its forgivable I need to know." She nodded. "There are 2 ways that I can tell you. The one is in depth and much rest is required before, during and after the telling.As for the other....we do not have time for either. The town is under attack now. Do you know of soul reapers and how they are?" Ichigo nodded. "I was a substitute reaper." The zenpakuto's eyes widened at the information. "What is your name?" Ichigo asked. The woman stammered. " I am called Chameleon as my shape and powers change to what is needed to over come the obstacle. I can also strategize." She blushed suddenly saying. " Thank-you brother Ichigo Kurosaki-Gloryflower. May the flower flourish under your reign in the forges." Ichigo was about to ask her about her meaning when his senses came alive both in a bad and good way. "Yes trouble comes this way, we must go." Ichigo breathed in and felt where he needed to be and disappeared from his houses deck. 12 blocks away from Ichigo's house. Rukia and Renji stood as far as they dared from the energy devouring hollow. "How do we even make a dent in that thing if it eats away at our energy when we get 10 feet from it. Not even our zenpakuto's are immune to its effects." Renji growled out. Not for the first time wishing Ichigo was there. At least being only a substitute he may have been able to handle the damn thing....except that would put them always in need of him. As if they were a bunch of babies. He sneered at the thought. Turning to Rukia he saw the impossible. Ichigo disappearing down over the ledge Rukia must have fallen over. "No!" Renji slid down in the hopes of catching his crazy mortal best friend. Only to twist out of the way as a claw buzzed past his face to connect with the roof top.
Rukia had turned at a breeze of cinnamon and come face to face with Ichigo and had fallen backward rolling off the roof. Ichigo was immediately there to catch her while unleashing his zenpakuto that changed into a grappling hook that shot itself out and onto the roof. He held her tight and just looked at her.Then his mouth ruined the moment. "Long time no see. Miss me much?" The grappling hook started to retract before she could answer back. Ichigo smirked. "Wow I think I've made you speechless." Which made her hit him as she'd become accustom to. That made him laugh and make her cling to him as he rubbed his head. Before putting his arm back where it belonged. "Now that's the Rukia I know." As they reached the top Renji offered his hand to Rukia and then lost his own footing and went head first over. "Renji!" The grappling hook disappeared and caught both men on the back of a...griffin? Renji clung to the mane as he looked at Ichigo a now much more red haired Ichigo. Damn he looked a lot better in red then even he did. "What the hell are you doing here?" Renji ground out. Ichigo snorted. "I would have thought that was obvious. Saving your ass." Renji nearly tossed him off the animal. "I mean what the hell is going on? Tell me you didn't do anything stupid. " Ichigo had to take a deep breath to calm himself down. "It turns out I'm a soul smith." Renji blinked. He would have gone on to ask Ichigo if that little bastard had visited him too when the griffin suddenly swerved. "If I can get both of your attentions our problem is coming towards us. " Both of her riders swallowed hard. "What is that thing?" Renji said. Ichigo frowned at it. "Looks like someone's over grown gold fish." Renji would have hit him except their ride nodded. " It may have been once....but not any longer. I greive for the heart that is in it for it still beats. " Ichigo paled. He had been hearing a heart beat for the last 2 hours and had just accepted it as a side effect of having an extra 2 hearts. Renji blinked and paled. "Are you saying that thing that has been draining soul energy and electricity from the stations is alive...alive-alive." Ichigo said softly. "Then it hasn't been my extra 2 hearts that I've been hearing. Its been the fish heart." Chameleon nodded as they flew out further drawing it away from its main target. "Unfortunately, its not been your imagination. A smith can hear the heart beat of all creatures.They just have a problem with sensing pressures, if any." Renji snickered. "You got that right. " Chameleon snorted. "As if you are any better. You're just a little slower as your base is that of a soul reaper and not 1/2 human. But we are getting off track." The living hollow goldfish had begun to start drinking in energies again. Renji said sluggishly. "How do we deal with it?" Ichigo narrowed his eyes at the fish." Freeze it." Renji! eyed him. "Listen no living heart can withstand a hard freeze." Renji sighed. "That would be great, but our zenpakuto's are being effected as well. We can't get close enough." Chameleon ground her teeth in irritation. "If only we had a master smith they could untangle that mess." Renji pulled back the lion's head and nearly was unseated by Ichigo.:"Stop that you idiot!" He patted the mane. "Are you alright?" The lion nodded. "Where the hell are these masters then?" Renji shouted. "There is only one left alive. Only one and they are not yet able to use their powers." Ichigo frowned. Abel had said she wasn't awake yet, like him her powers were still dormant. "When will they be ready?" Chameleon shook her mane. "I don't know, but for you to have been activated, things must be getting pretty hairy. The Arch-Angel must be in need of the smiths." Renji tapped Ichigo on his shoulder. "Hate to cut in but that pet is getting too close again. So what do we do?" Chameleon thought for a moment. "We need an ice dragon." The 2 men looked at each other thinking the same thing." Captain Hitsugya." Renji then shook his head. "No we can't go that way. With our zenpakuto's as they are it would have to be a one strike wonder and we aren't going to be that lucky." Chameleon didn't answer for a moment. "I, Ichigo and this Captain Hitsugya's zenpakuto can do this." Renji shook his head. "The captain isn't just going to unleash his sword without him being here and if he sees Ichigo it will be reported. There must be another way. " Chameleon pouted.
"Is there no one else with an ice based zenpakuto?" Renji pressed his lips together.
"I don't want to use her." Ichigo said."I thought you were supposed to be able to change into what is needed." He added. Chameleon growled. "Can you fly?" Ichigo shook his head. "Not fly but I can leap. That's always been good enough. First though we have to let Renji off." Chameleon landed onto a farmer's hay barn. "We are really out of town here." Renji whistled. A flame girl snorted. "Did you really want us to have this out in the middle of town?If we fail then you can try something else. Ichigo are you ready?" She looked at him with a great deal of concern. "Do we have a choice?" She bent her head down.
"There is always a choice." Ichigo raised her head, to see tears. "You can't change the past. Its there to stay but it is the past. You can move on, you can do better, it may not be re-written but the sting of it can be lessened. Now if only I can follow my own advice." He finished quietly. Renji laid a hand on his shoulder. "Don't beat yourself up we've all missed you. I mean everyone. You are unfortunately the life of the party. So don't get yourself killed or Rukia will have my ass for letting you be that stupid." Ichigo smirked. "You better stand away, don't want you fainting." Renji snorted. "Yeah right." He moved to the end of the barn as Ichigo and the girl of flame turned into a sword of ice. "Whoa.Bet the two of you can't do that." Monkey smacked him on the back of the head. "He isn't out of the woods yet. She may not be enough." Ichigo leaped onto the creature. Its heart beat now pounding in his ears. He was so close.....he couldn't do it. He couldn't kill a living creature. "I can't do it. I can't take its life." He sheathed Chameleon and closed his eyes, Chameleon had said a master could untangle the fish from the monster. He closed his eyes and concentrated. The fish body engulfed him, pushed and pulled him to the heart of it.
"Do it! Do it now!" Chameleon yelled at his mind. "No! I can do this! And what do we have to lose? If I can't then I'll end it." He could feel Chameleon's anger. "Please let me try to save the life. It didn't deserve this." Chameleon sighed. He could feel her fear but also the hope that he could pull it off. "Be careful. It will be a strand that stands out, something out of place." Ichigo laughed. " Like Karin's hair when she's...." His laughter died. He'd have said when she's trying to impress Toshiro.Chameleon caught the memory and laughed. "Yes, in a way. When you have caught it release my ice and it should kill the strand at least that is the hope." Ichigo had a feeling this was a first for her as well, but the alternative was not one he wanted to entertain. Renji raced forward when he saw Ichigo being devoured by the fish's body. Not even by mouth that now oddly had become docile. He got too close and fainted. Luckily the farmer had left a hay wagon full of hay where he fell. His face soured as he smelled and felt something wet on his face.Opening his eyes they met the bulging ones of a gold fish now normal size in a ice fish bowel. "Holy shit!" Ichigo laughed. "Well that said it all." Chameleon looked up at the sky while the two children squawked like a couple of magpies. Yes it had worked. Yes everything went well, except that they'd been caught by Captain Hitsugya and his ice dragon as they had escaped in the form of the Gloryflower dragon. As for their excuse....it had been very lacking. Nearly unbelievable. Meaning they would have to be more down to earth on how they helped out. Otherwise there would be consequences that apparently weren't good right now. "All right you two, now we hoof it back to town." Ichigo blinked. "Here why don't you take it back for Rukia.
Chameleon and I can walk back to town." Renji frowned as he took the fish. "Can I stay?" Ichigo eyes widened slightly. "Really? Won't you get into trouble? Especially with Byakuya." Renji winced.
"He's not exactly in charge at the moment. Besides me, there's a whole list of us posted in the Soul Society papers. The whose available list. He's been up to his bankai in interviews for appropriate possible wives. While Rukia up until that soul surge was at a ladies finishing school to make her manners more upper class." Ichigo didn't know weather to laugh or cringe.He cringed but the smirk on Renji's face said they both thought the same thing. That poor teacher. "So can I?" Ichigo clapped him on the shoulder. "It's a long walk...." Renji leapt up and saluted. "I'll be back in an hour maybe 2 have to report and drop the fish off at the captains." Ichigo growled. "You lazy bastard! You just didn't want to walk it." Renji chuckled. " Why would I walk? I don't have to keep the low profile." Ichigo snarled up at him.His eyes going serpentine. Chameleon put a hand on his arm. "Easy, we don't need the attention. He may need more then just a few hours to get back. I'm sure I was seen by a few of the other reapers and with that mop of his be glad your not him. " Changing the subject she smiled and said.
" I said hoof it, not walk. Have you ever ridden bare back on a horse before?" Ichigo felt the long nose of a white mare nuzzle his head. "And my clothes?" Chameleon's voice was again in his head. "Just say.'Hair clothes.' Trust me." Ichigo felt kind of funny but said the words. His hair suddenly grew to cover him and when it drew back up he was wearing his track warm up suit. "Don't over use it you haven't been to the forge yet. But from time to time, you can use it for school." Ichigo grinned as he followed the directions on how to sit a horse. Rukia had followed Renji and Ichigo as much as she could. Until the hollow began to absorb too much of her energy. "Damn those two." She huffed and puffed as she came to sit down on a roof. Too exhausted to go on. "Are you alright Lt. Kuchiki?" Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya asked as he landed close to her. She blushed. "Sorry sir that over grown gold fish is really getting the better of me. I'm nearly completely drained." Toshiro nodded his agreement. "Yes even I am feeling its ill effects. Where's Lt. Abarri?" Rukia pointed farther a field. Toshiro shook his head. "He should know its not good strategy to leave your assigned partner behind." Toshiro's face burned as his own lt. landed near them. His eyes rolled as a slight stench wafted from her. "Go back and sleep it off Rongiku." Rongiku snorted and offered Rukia some of her saki. She hadn't been the same since losing Gin. "I think I'll go walk down memory lane and try to dry out. If that's alright with you captain?" He shook his head. "No, its not safe. Rukia can you take her back and sit with her till morning. Don't need to find her having drowned in her own puke when I get back." Rongiku made a face which was ignored by her captain. "Come on Rongiku. You can tell me all about what passes for fashion these days." Rongiku snorted. "I lost the taste for it when I lost Gin." Rukia paled.Was this how he felt after losing his powers? She shook her head. He couldn't possibly....but had he? Did he still? She held her head. "This is so maddening!" Rongiku nodded. "I couldn't agree more. Come on I'll buy." Rukia took the bottle and poured it over the roof's edge. "Oh why did you do that!" Rukia shook her head. "Gin wouldn't want you this way. It must have killed him to do what he did, but he did it for you. If he saw you now it would kill him all over again, but hurt him that much more." Rongiku slapped her face, Rukia slapped her back. Toshiro didn't know weather to step in or let them handle it. Rukia nodded at him to go and he left. He felt more then a little guilty but he had no idea of how to help his lt. after what had happened. Keeping her busy had been the only thing he had been able to do. Her going over board since the surge....he just didn't have enough experience in this situation. He would have gone and asked Isshin Kurosaki on the subject but they were out of town. He himself was supposed to go watch Karin play in the tournament tomorrow but this night was getting too long. At this rate he might sleep through the so called weekend. Thinking of Karin brought up images of her. Unwillingly but not unpleasantly. From her over serious way of handling her duties to that twinkle in her eyes that she got when she succeeded at her lessons. She'd make lt. in no time....his face flushed and his throat tightened as an image of their shared kisses popped into the picture. He'd said they meant nothing....but his heart bounced faster in his chest.....his zenpakuto's voice coughed slightly. "She is a very different soul reaper from her brother. More of a thinker then someone who just jumps into the fire. But we are closing in on....
it is shrinking." Toshiro blinked in time to see something shoot out from the shrinking fish body
...."Hold it right there!" The shooting streak paused. A dragon? It eyed them. "I was in the area and saw you in need of a hand." It said in a feminine voice. His zenpakuto stuck his nose close and was blasted with a short shot of fire that melted the tip of his zenpakuto's nose. "I do not take to having my space invaded by such a nose as yours lightly." Toshiro made a startling sound of a laugh. "What is your name?" The dragon didn't answer. Toshiro put himself on the defense. "I want him to apologize." The dragon pointed at his zenpakuto."You did invade her space.You got what you asked for. Apologize." The ice dragon snarled as he worked his nose back into shape."Allow me." The female dragon blew a deep bone chilling cold at the other dragon's face. Toshiro blinked. The female had spit fire and now blew cold? What kind of dragon did both? He looked at his zenpakuto and found the spirit enjoying the chill by purring in the female's direction. "Now please excuse me. I am needed elsewhere." She'd shot up and then became a shooting star zipping across the skies. "Enough, we've lost the fish.By now some cat has eaten it." Toshiro turned to go back the way they'd come and had to tighten his hold on his zenpakuto that was straining against him. "She is beautiful. Fire and ice.Let me go to find her lair. It must be close." Toshiro shook his head. "And you think I'm bad. Come on we have to report."
Renji dropped the gold fish into the koi pond in Rukia's own small garden before going to report in. Byakuya sat slightly edgy or at least as edgy as the captain ever got. "Here is my report, captain." Byakuya didn't even seem to acknowledge his presents. "Sir are you alright?" For the first time he saw the noble sweat without having to be in a fight. "Be glad you are not of nobility lt. It is not as grand as people believe." Renji sat down without being asked to. Byakuya raised an eye brow. "Take some time off. Go find an adventure without having to be not just a feared captain but a lord of the realm. Go as yourself." Byakuya shook his head. " Things have not settled down enough in the living realm to do so. If they could I would gladly hand you the reigns of acting captain for a few days rest." He sighed. " Were you successful?" Renji nodded. "In a way, we had some help. A dragon was following the fishes trail. It actually shrunk it down to its normal size....I got too close and rolled off of the barn I was on after I passed out." Byakuya eyed him thoughtfully. "And this dragon?"
"When I came to the dragon and the fish were gone." Byakuya frowned. "Where was Rukia?"
"Safe. I tried to make it follow me out of the city. At least I accomplished that much." He saw some of the stress ease slightly from the captains face.
Renji tried one last time. "You need to take some time to clear your head. You don't want to make decisions when your mind is so preoccupied." Byakuya snorted. "And where would I go?KaraKura?" Renji shrugged. "Well the town is big enough to hide in. Look at the visors they were there for years and we never knew.Plus if there's any trouble you would be close enough if we needed you." Byakuya closed his eyes to think. Renji was right he did need to clear his head. The society did own properties. For instance the Bout's headquarters had been rebuilt in case there were shortages in the societies coffers. It was out of the way yet close enough. He opened his eyes and gave one of his few and rare small smiles. "You will accompany me. If you have not made plans." Renji 's eyes widened, he hadn't really thought that the captain would actually go for it. "Nothing that couldn't be changed." Byakuya shook his head. "No keep them. I....." A hail butterfly landed on his desk.. " An important message from the high court. It has been discovered that the source of the destructive pressure was emitted from a soul smith. All captains and their Lt.'s. are to report to the head masters office to receive further instructions. That is all." Renji swore silently. Ichigo and him would be....they said only one smith "Sir what is a soul smith?" Knowing but playing dumb seemed the safest play. Byakuya bent his head and closed his eyes to concentrate on the wording, but opened them quickly as he saw a pair of ever changing irises and deep red hair. "Sir ?" Renji asked concerned. "It is nothing. I do not know. I am sure they will inform us on who they are as well as the threat they pose to us and the living realm."
Yumamoto re-read the scroll for the 16th time. Each time he read it, it made him feel more uneasy. The new high king had sent him orders to hand out to the others. Not just capture, nor just to hold and question. No the orders were to capture-torture and kill said target with extreme prejudice. With no explanation given. He walked the length of his contemplation room over again.
Becoming more disturbed by the minute by the orders. Even with the high king's own messenger about to arrive for the meeting to explain more in depth it just made him feel....distrustful.Soul Smith.The tittle implied power far out reaching their own. Not someone to make an enemy of without giving ample reasons.He looked out at his office through a special screen in the wall. It was already full of the said arrivals. He snorted at Captain Kuchiki. Little Byakuya and his little imaginary friend he didn't like to share with anyone.....He thought back through the years, the boy's birth had been a miracle in itself. 2 months early, many had thought it impossible for him to have survived and grown to such height and strength. Yet he had. Even his mother that had been poisoned by a rival noble family. Had lived in perfect health for six months before dying as she slept peacefully beneath the cherry tree that she had sat beneath and talked....talked to a little girl only she could see. Everyone had taken it for granted as a side effect from being poisoned. Even him.... He checked the time, it was beyond time for the messenger to have arrived.He walked out of his contemplative room."This morning I received word just as you had from the high king's court. With one exception I had orders attached to mine." Shunshi and Ukitake eyed each other with all seriousness."I take it they weren't to invite this new person to a party." Shunshi stated. Byakuya folded his arms with some disdain on his face for the captains lack of respect."No I am afraid not. Before I read them out to you, do any of you know what a soul smith even is?"Renji started to sweat, as for the brand on his forehead it started to not only itch but burn. Squad 4's captain eyed him with concern."Are you alright Lt. Abari?" Renji shook his head slightly. "Forgive me I thought I had recovered fully from the effect of getting too close to the fish. It appears I was wrong." Hitsugaya frowned. He had not seen Renji nor sensed him anywhere near him when he had confronted the female dragon."Tell us how you contrived to have the fish follow you out to the country?" Asked the head master. "Before I excuse you. " Renji reddened. "I borrowed a portable generator it was enough to attract the fishes attention until the batteries ran out.That was when the dragon caught up with us." The room went still." The dragon?" Ukitake quarried. Hitsugya nodded. "Yes improbable as it may seem we caught her coming out of the fish as it began to shrink. She spit fire and blew air so cold it could have frozen a lake over in minutes. I have never heard of such a dragon. If I had not seen it myself I would have doubted it from anyone else." Renji bowed respectively. Then head master nodded. "You are excused from attending the meeting lt. Abari. " Renji bowed as deeply as his stomach would allow him and eased to the door only feeling more ill as he approached it with every step. "I think perhaps I need more air. If you will allow me to escape out the window captains." The head master nodded and saw the boy gain color as he stepped away from the door. How strange. Renji bowed again when he had reached the window. "Please forgive my absence." With that he jumped out the window using his zenpakuto to soften his landing. As he had leapt the door had opened and the messenger was announced by his receptionist.
The 2 events did not go unnoticed by any of the captains. Some may have jumped with the lt. if they had had the chance."That was Lt. Abarri was it not? " The messenger said eyeing the escaping young man. "He wasn't quite recovered from the confrontation with the living hollow." Captain Mayori said with some envy. Before turning an interested eye on Toshiro. "If I'm not mistaken you too were in close contact....you said that the dragon was coming out of the fish....just how close were you to this new comer?" The messenger's eyes lit up with interest. "A dragon? I did not think they roamed so freely any more. Nor did I think they talked." Toshiro stiffened at the insult....his zenpakuto whispered in his mind. "He wishes to provoke you do not let him. Nor should you speak of the encounter to those you do not know or trust. He is both." Toshiro raised an eyebrow. "She most definitely did. Apparently even falling stars get curious once in awhile." The messenger studied the captain before letting it go."Whoa! There!" Renji yelled as Snake refused to relinquish his large form but instead moved ever faster first towards the gate and then out into the city. People moved out of the way seeing the Lt.'s swords spirit coming at them. Renji couldn't even get Snake to even ease up on his speed until they were out of the city. "Are you insane?" Renji yelled as he was dropped onto the ground as the zenpakuto became a boy, Monkey smacked the boy on the head. "You could have just explained it to him and then zipped out of there. We look very uncontrollable. If you would have explained it he could have at least looked like he was in control." Renji growled. "What the hell are the two of you talking about?" The two sighed. Monkey shook her head. "Fine. I guess I'll have to tell you. The reason why you got sick in there was because we smelled...." She looked uneasy and looked down at Snake. "Evil. That's what we smelled. It was bad. It was either get sick or we open the door and ripe off his head. Gutting him would have left too much of a mess and stench behind. Wonder how Rongiku's able to handle it?" Monkey rolled her eyes. "She's still 1/2 crocked idiot. She won't figure it out till 1/2 way through or after the meeting. By then she'll have wished she was still recovering from the hangover." Renji blinked. "What do you mean Rangiku? And what's this evil?" Snake eyed Monkey. "He won't know if we don't show him. At least not about the evil. As for Rangiku-you'll have to ask her about it. Later much later. Can we go home now? I'm getting hungry." Renji nodded and started walking. Monkey blinked. "We are going to have to skip that physical next week. There's no way they are going to miss those two extra heart beats. Guess that Chameleon was right.You are slightly behind everyone else-even Rangiku…..She'll get out of it by getting one of her hangovers. Lucky bitch. Want to get drunk? " Monkey patted him on the back. "No I don't. I've been drunk too often."
Byakuya came and knocked on his door after the meeting. Renji looked at the clock. Sweet mother it was 10 pm. He'd left around 2:30, 7 and a half hours? "We are leaving for the living realm in the morning." Renji blinked. "Are you just coming back from the meeting now?" Byakuya nodded. "That doesn't sound good. Some tea?"
He offered.Byakuya shook his head. "We are to search for this soul smith. As for what to do with them.... is still going on in the head master's
office." Renji blinked. "Still?" Byakuya nodded. "Do you think that they are right in ordering us to torture and murder someone we have never even been taught about?" Byakuya raised his eyes to Renji. Studying the younger man. " That is why we are going. If we do run into the said target we are to make reports on weather the high court is right or that the smith should be given a chance to live." Renji saw the stress of the decision weigh heavy on his captain's shoulders. His eyes went serpentine. The man's aura was that of an ill man in need of rest and therapy. "You are a good man captain. You will make the right decision." The statement made both men blink. "Thank-you, lt. I'll see you early in the morning." Then he left. Renji sighed. "He needs a woman. Even if it was only temporary it would be better then the empty shell of life he has." Monkey said watching the captain go from beside Renji. "And you would know this how? Since you've never had a boyfriend." Monkey snorted. "Why would I need one? I have the both of you to keep me on my damn toes. About swear me off of the opposite sex altogether. About not totally. There's still a couple of men who aren't the 2 of you. Now lets get some sleep. We're going to the living realm tomorrow and that means people, we are protecting will be in close contact with us. We don't need to have the boss know about him until we have to. Especially now that Toshiro's zenpakuto is fairly itching to snuggle up with Ichigo's. That would be very interesting to see. I mean once its discovered that she's his zenpakuto."
KaraKura Monday morning. Ichigo and his crew are on the way to school.
Abel landed once again naked on top of Ichigo. "Jesu..." Feathers suddenly invaded Ichigo's mouth. "Don't dis the big boss, he hears enough of it!" As Ichigo spit and sputtered out tufts of feathers Chad and Uryu were easing him up. Uryu quickly taking out the pressed extra quincy uniform he had with him. "Hurry get him behind this gate. Chad you can probably be a screen. Hurry up Ichigo before someone sees us." As they hurried Abel towards the gate Chad said. "Hey you look different. You o.k.?Scared the crap out of Ichigo. Especially after what Yuzu said happened....Yuzu said you died....but you don't have a scratch on you." Uryu rolled his eyes.
" We can ask him a million questions later. I'd rather not have someone report us to anyone." Abel stumbled,Chad held him up. "Thanks. Oh yes. Clothes." He snapped his fingers and the quincy uniform was instantly on him. He pressed his hands over the work with a kind of wonder. "You did this didn't you?It's wonderful. You should make them for all my brother's and sisters at the fort." Uryu reddened and pushed up his glasses. "Thank-you.It would be a pleasure, but from the description of the fight you had I'm afraid that we would need a much tougher material then is currently available." Abel stretched his wings and paused. His eyes popping. "These....these aren't fadders...temporary wings....I'm a real angel. I'm not in training any more....but I'd better put them away for now." The wings folded into his back and somehow didn't even leave so much as a crease in the uniform's back. "Whoa....now that's some trick." Chad said. Ichigo found himself happy and pissed off at the same time with Abel. "Explain yourself Abel." The boy blushed. " She's right. I died." That stunned the 3 young men till Chad said."How are you here?" Abel nodded. "After I gutted Pride. He got in a bite on her, my beloved to be...." Ichigo smacked Abel's face or rather he would have if the angel's wing hadn't materialized in front of it. (Bang-cursing) "Hey why did you do that? " Chad held off Ichigo with one hand. "If I'm thinking right of what that means you can just go back to being dead." Abel looked hurt and then straightened up. "I don't understand, but you are worried yes. I'm not so uncivilized that I'd take a bride who still has to realize her place as a mage. That and I've just received my real wings. I have a long way to go before I would feel worthy enough to offer her my love and protection. But your old enough to have cherubs of your own. Though your situation isn't one I'd envy. A reaper and a Smith...." Abel shivered. "You mean Rukia and Ichigo." Uryu said softly. Abel nodded while he sniffed the air. "Why does this town smell so weird? I know as if I'd know what weird is. " He smiled. Ichigo heaven help him he couldn't help return it. Abel nodded. "Found it.... Oh that's probably not good."