Day of the Execution! Frantic Scrabble to the End!
Cordy and Izuru flash-stepped over the tiled rooftops of Soul Society as they followed their Captain’s spiritual pressure, the night waning as morning approached. Eventually they found themselves outside of the halls of Central 46, the highest body of authority in all Soul Society. A non-descript circular structure surrounded by water with only one long, wooden bridge to the entrance. They crossed the bridge towards the half-open stone doors, growing ever more wary at the lack of guards.
“Okay this is weird as hell. Why is nobody here?” exclaimed Cordelia.
“It is odd,” agreed Kira.
“Understatement of the year much! It’s like Fort Knox with the front open and vault unlocked!” she replied. “I’ve seen fashion stores in LA with more security. Who are very quick to jump to conclusions when the tags are left on by accident, I might add.”
“Fort what?” asked Izuru with a look of confusion.
“It’s like, well, oh what is the point?” she asked more to herself than him. “It’s big and secure, exactly the total opposite of this place.”
“Err, okay,” he said. “I really don’t understand you at times.”
“Well it’s not my fault your geography is horrible. Want me to keep silent? Well tough mister. If I‘d kept quiet and towed the line you’d still be banged up like a shoplifter. Like I’d imagine a shoplifter would be anyway,” she quickly amended.
“I never said I wanted you stop talking. I quite like listening to you Cordy,” he said with a rare smile on his usually gloomy features.
“Well….good,” was all she could muster. Am I blushing? I think I am, she thought.
“Right, well, lets go into the normally forbidden area with the strangely unlocked door that looks like a trap,” she said, trying to change the subject. “Captain Fox-face better be in here or this is gonna be totally awkward.”
They passed the main door and followed the walkway to the top of a large staircase that opened onto what looked like an oversized judicial chamber below. The stench hit them immediately and it was one Cordelia was all too familiar with. The stench of death. The room was full of bodies lying over their desks and on the floor, strewn in a manner that looked like they never even knew what hit them. The blood has long since dried and the smell of decomposition suggested they’d been dead for at least a few days. This was all that remained of the Central 46.
Izuru had turned pale while Cordy’s face had hardened. Something had gone horridly wrong for this to happen. They had to tell the Head Captain at once.
“H...h...how could this have happened?” stammered Kira. “This is…..this is….”
“Terrible, ain’t it?”
They both spun round and saw Ichimaru stood there, grinning as ever. They hadn’t even heard him approach.
“Captain!” cried Izuru, the 3rd Division Vice-Captain in total shock. “What’s happened here? Why did you come here?”
“Yeah,” said Cordy, eyes narrowing with sudden suspicion. “Why have you come here exactly, sir?”
Gin seemed totally oblivious to her tone and turned to Kira.
“Ain’t it obvious, Izuru? Can’t ya see what’s ‘appened here? He’s setting his plan in motion, has been for a while by the looks of things.”
“Who has? What plan?” Kira replied frantically.
“That 10th Squad Captain, of course,” answered Ichimaru.
“But…surely Captain Hitsugaya wouldn’t…”
“Wouldn’t he?” said Gin with a touch of malice. “Last I checked, he tried to blame ya and get ya out of the way, and then he battered that poor 5th Division Vice-Captain senseless when she produced evidence against him. And finally Captain Aizen’s letter, that alone is worthy of an investigation in itself. No, I reckon we’ve underestimated him for too long. That’s why I came ‘ere, to confirm my suspicions. My guess is he’s figure that out by now and is on his way too. That’s why I need you, Izuru. I need you to head out and draw him and Rangiku away. I need to get to Hinamori and get hold of her letter before Hitsugaya destroys it. Then we have a case against him. But I need you to buy me some time, just distract them long enough for me to be ready. Can ya do that, Izuru?”
“Yes Captain,” replied Kira with new resolve. “How long do you need?”
“Not long, we’re coming to the end now. Just distract him as long as you can. Split them up, if you can. Just separate Rangiku from him, its better I deal with a Captain, don’t ya reckon?”
“Okay!” cried Izuru, shooting off back towards the outside.
Suddenly Cordy felt very alone, almost trepid. Something about this whole thing was highly wrong. Ichimaru should be at least a little surprised by the dead administrators but he didn’t seem even remotely bothered. And the blood had hardened into a black shell; they’d been dead for some time. Yet Toshiro pulled this all off on his own with anyone noticing?
“So you and me together again, eh?” said her silver-haired Captain, breaking her from her thoughts.
“Yeah, great,” she answered, deadpan.
The early morning mist cleared and the sun burned brightly above Soul Society as the execution of Rukia Kuchiki began on Sokyoku Hill. Far below in the streets Toshiro Hitsugaya and Rangiku Matsumoto sprinted towards the Central 46 domain. Earlier, after sealing Momo in his quarters, Hitsugaya had resolved to go directly to Central 46 about his theory behind Ichimaru’s actions and that he may have been involved in Aizen’s death Rangiku had agreed to go but was much more reluctant to blame Gin for anything besides what had happened earlier in the night. But a Vice-Captain must stick with their Captains, after all.
They’d only made it halfway when something hit them both like a knife. An explosion of spirit pressure high above in the distance. On Sokyoku Hill Zangetsu smashed against Senbonzakura as Ichigo Kurosaki battled Byakuya Kuchiki. Toshiro and Rangiku looked at each and increased their pace.
Once they reached the quarters, it was unsurprising they had the exact same thoughts as Cordy and Izuru before them. Where was the security?
“This is all wrong,” murmured Rangiku.
Hitsugaya gave his silent agreement and then requested entrance to the chamber. The doors immediately activated the emergency lock and iron bars slammed across them.
“Guess we’re not welcome, Captain” said Matsumoto, her voice neutral.
“We haven’t a choice Matsumoto,” the white-haired young Captain replied. “They have to hear us out!”
And with that he sliced the doors in two with one swing of his blade.
It didn’t take them long to find the dead bodies, much to their shock. Nothing had changed; the blood remained as did the stench.
“So this was your plan Ichimaru,” muttered Toshiro in anger.
A footstep on the wooded steps above caused them to turn. Above them stood Izuru Kira, his face expressionless and eyes cold.
“Kira! What is this?” cried Hitsugaya.
In an instant, Izuru turned and ran towards the exit, feet heavy on the boarding beneath him.
“Stop, Kira! Matsumoto, after him!” screamed Toshiro and they both shot off in pursuit, oblivious to the figure emerging from the shadows as they ran past.
Little ‘Shiro, Izuru, oh what is going on, wondered Momo Hinamori with concern. She’d followed the two 10th Division members when they left, keeping at a distance and hiding her spiritual pressure. She hid in the back once they entered the main hall and surveyed the scene before her with equal shock. Did Kira do this? Surely not. Lost in her thoughts she stumbled backwards and bumped into something solid and warm. A quick spin on her heels and she very nearly jumped out of her skin.
“Cap-Captain Ichimaru!” she exclaimed, realising she’d stepped right into him. “What are you doing here? And who are you?” she directed at Cordelia standing worriedly behind him.
“No time to worry ‘bout that,” said Gin with something like excitement. “I’m so glad you made it here, Hinamori. There’s someone I want ya to meet. Both of ya, in fact. Let’s go, Cordy.”
As they headed further into the Central 46 chambers, Cordy couldn’t help but notice that, for a Vice-Captain, Momo seemed rather innocent, almost naïve. Nah, I’m probably just jaded, she thought.
“Ya know where we are girls?” asked Gin, although it wasn’t really a question. “Central 46’s living quarters. Pretty crap, huh?”
They looked about them at the sparse area of pillars touching the ceiling, each of which had a door in them to a small room. So it was a surprise to suddenly hear a new voice. One much gentler than Gin’s and far more sincere.
“I’m glad you made it here, both of you. One of you I knew I could trust and the other I've wanted to meet for sometime.”
Cordelia was in shock, her eyes wide. It’s him. It’s actually him. But he’s dead, isn’t he?
Gin just smiled.
Momo broke the silence with an almost hysterical cry as she stumbled forward as if in a trance.