'This is not the Valley of Screams.' was Byakuya's first thought as he took in his surroundings.
This did not match the description given during the Captains' meeting. There, the landscape was filled with mountains and jagged rocks and ghastly trees, all the color of chalk.
He looked around him and saw an endless, barren desert spread as far as the eye could see. Devoid of life. The light brown sand under his feet and the yellowish sky above supported his conclusion.
He spread out his senses in an attempt to location the others. Instead, he felt something else.
His sharp grey eyes narrowed. He could feel strong reiatsu headed toward him. A presence. Then, he felt another and another. The numbers grew to 10 then stopped.
He twisted around quickly and effortlessly. In the distance, he could see but vague outlines of hooded people, the fabric same color as the sand.
These were not shinigami from the Seireitei.
They, as a unit, moved toward him. Their movements were slow and methodical. Controlled. Every action was carefully planned, not a drop of energy wasted.
With 100 yards between them, the group stopped.
"Why are you here?" one asked cautiously.
Byakuya thought for a moment then replied, "I do not know. I, along with several others, entered this world. I appear to have been separated from them."
"Who are you?" asked the speaker.
"I am Byakuya Kuchiki, head of the Kuchiki Clan and Captain of Squad 6."
"You have invaded our land, Captain Shinigami. This offense we could not ignore."
"As I have stated earlier, I merely got separated from my companions."
"We must take you to our Clan Leader." The speaker said, ignoring Byakuya's words.
Buyakuya narrowed his eyes but said nothing. He contemplated his options and relented toward meeting the mysterious Clan Leader.
He moved forward, head held high and back straight. He was still a Kuchiki.
They walked only for a short period of time. The hooded figures stopped. Byakuya looked at them suspiciously and stopped along with them.
In a flash, faster then Byakuya could see, the entire group vanished. His eyes widened but he quickly hid it.
Once again he'd been left by himself. The barren desert devoid of life once again his companion.
"Who are you? Why are you here?" A feminine voice inquired out of no where.
Instinctively, he placed his hand on Senbonzakura's hilt. His knees bent and crouched low. His eyes darted back and forth searching for the speaker.
"I will not answer until you reveal yourself." he said, the threat clear in his voice.
Before his eyes, a woman appeared. It was like a veil had been removed itself from his eyes.
The woman was shorter then him by at least a foot. She had short white-blond hair that cut of at her shoulders. Green eyes filled with caution and determination. Jaw clenched and arms crossed.
She wore a light brown cloak similar to the others but different, more form fitting. While the clamps the others had were all closed, she only had the topmost shut tight, revealing the clothing she wore. Underneath was black clothing tight against her body, unlike the clothing of the Seireitei and more of the World of the Living. Poking out as the familiar hilt of a zanpakto
He stared and after deciding she wasn't a threat, he relaxed his stance.
"I have asked you a question, I expect an answer."
"I am Byakuya Kuchiki, head of the Kuchiki family and Captain of squad 6 of the 13 court guard squads."
"Those title are meaningless here. Answer the second question."
Byakuya's eyes narrowed but nevertheless complied. "I, along with several companions, entered this world into what was supposed to be the Valley of Screams."
Her eyes filled with understanding. "You are here for the Dark Ones."
She studied him. "Come," she said, "We have much to discuss."
She turned and Byakuya had no other choice but to follow.
Oh, the wonders this detour has done on his pride.
"I have answered your questions. I expect you to answer mine."
"Depends on the questions." At least she was honest.
"What is your name?"
"Oh. Oh! I'm sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Akira, leader of the Shadow Clan."
"Are you a threat to the Soul Society?"
She snorted. "Us? A threat to the Soul Society? You've got to be joking. Most of us have never even seen it."
"How is that possible?" Byakuya asked in disbelief. The idea of having no knowledge about the Soul Society seemed preposterous.
"Most of the Shadow Clan are second- and third- generation. They were born here, in the Precipice world. The only information we have on the Soul Society is passed down through stories the Exiled tell. As you might figure, their all quite bias towards you people but we, ones born here, did put out some of the basic facts. Even then, the most recent information we've come across was well over 200 years old, so its a bit outdated." she explained.
"The Exiled? Who are they?" Knowledge is power, so the more knowledge he gained, the better he would be able to fight them if the need arises.
"They are the ones that hadn't been born here. The ones that the Soul Society had exiled. Hence the name, Exiled. Their not really respected."
"Why aren't they?"
"Because, all they talk about is getting back the Soul Society. Frankly, it gets really annoying."
"Is that so…"
She stopped walking and turned around, looking him straight the eye.
"Yes, now. This is your stop." she said smiling.
"What?" Byakuya asked perplexed. He looked around and all he saw was the same barren desert he had been walking in ever since he had arrived in the place.
"Well, you want to save your sister, right?" She said as she raked her fingers downward, seemingly ripping the air behind her.
The scene in front of him angered him. Rukia fighting against one of the Dark Ones.
"You'd better go. Wouldn't want to see her get injured." she said quietly.
Byakuya glanced at her,clearly wanting to ask more questions but instead passed through the rip. "Bankai," he said, "Senbonzakura Kageyoshi." Then, he was gone.
Akira smiled and shook her head. She sat on the ground and stretched out her legs. She tilted her head.
"Kai. What do you want?" she asked.
Kai, the same man who first spoke to the squad 6 Captain, flashed to his leaders' side. "I want to know why you didn't give him your real name. And I ask that in the nicest and the most respectful way possible."
She scoffed. "Yea, whatever. Well, anyways, I didn't give him my real name because he is a stranger. You know the saying. 'Stranger Danger.'"
"Right. Maybe your just didn't want to tell him your real name. Buffy doesn't exactly scream respect, now does it."
"Shut it, Kai. You know I haven't gone by that name in years. " she growled.
"Ok ok." he said with a dismissive wave. "What about all your titles? You could've beaten his measly, pathetic list."
"Leader of the Shadow Clan, Uniter of the Lost ones, Queen of the Swords, Balance Keeper, Indestructible one, Protector of the People…" he said, counting each title with his fingers.
"One more word and I use those titles to beat your ass into the ground."
"You know you love me." He singsonged happily.
"Whatever." She sighed. She leaned back from her seated position, she stretched. "Kai, go back to the camp. Tell the others we're moving."
Kai smiled. "As you wish, your majesty." Then, he was gone.
Akira glared at his retreating figure.
Oh how she hated that particular title her fellow clan members bestowed on her with. Ever since she found herself in this desert, and found them, they insist on her leading the clan because of the amount of power she has.
Enough to protect every member.
Enough to disorientate a captain of the infamous Soul Society and lead him away from the clans' current location.
Oh, the responsibility one has leading over 500 clan members.
A/N: Might expand if demand in great enough. Reviews might sway the way.