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This article, Defense of Horiwari Village, is property of Kenji-Taichō. Permission is required to alter its content.

A story that documents Averian's attack on Horiwari Village and the situation that Kenji Hiroshi and his allies must deal with during the battle. Set during the sixteen-year time skip between Part I and Part II; Kenji must deal with his own personal fear and the possibility that his presence won't change a thing from the future he just returned from two months previously. Old allies are parted with and new ones arise as Kenji continues his personal war.

Early-Hour Inspection Edit

Kenji awoke to a glowing sun shining through his skylight directly onto the bed he shared with Ino. She was still sleeping, so he got up quietly and dressed himself in his usual blue shinigami Shihakushō that bore the symbol of the Ying and Yang proudly on its back. With it, he donned a straw hat after the fashion that Shunsui Kyōraku preferred.

He slipped out of their home silently, deciding to make his rounds quickly before the day really began. At this early hour, only Yoshiro's defenders lined the streets and each bowed heads or saluted with fist to heart as he passed. He returned the greeting to each one he passed, which to say the least was often. The 5th Division of The Ryu Order, organized into the defense force of the entire village held close to 500 personnel; currently the largest and most fleshed out division with the exception of the 4th Divisions medical bay. In two months since his return, his old Patrol Team had grown into The Ryu Order, and now he was suddenly Head-Captain.

He performed his rounds in relative silent, stopping only a few times to converse quietly with guards he knew and others he did not. "Keep it up, folks." He said, passing by a group of three men and four women playing at a game of cards. "I never saw this hand, but keep up your rounds. Never know when a hollow could pop up." The seven faces regarded him with a thankful smile, and when they finished their current hand, went about their duties.

"Morale among the men is very high," A voice whispered to his right. Kenji couldn't help but grin and welcomed the man to his side. Naibu Shizuka, wearing his normal all-black Shihakushō with the emblem of a large bird spreading its wings on his right sleeve. "That's a good thing, right?" Kenji remarked with a look over his shoulder, crimson eyes shining in the shade of his straw hat. "No argument here," Came the reply in truthful tones. Naibu was calmness given form as far as Kenji was concerned. "How've things been near the docks?"

Naibu appeared serious, expression darkening and his eyes alighting with an amount of anger rarely seen in the man. His voice was steady though. Composed. Calm. Like the wind. "Its not the docks we've got to be worrying about, Kenji. Its the hollow amassing in Hueco Mundo." Kenji sighed and snapped his fingers; a hooded man appearing from the shadows. "Find either Yoshiro or Tyrell and tell 'em both to prepare for a possible attack." With the order given, Kenji returned his attention to Naibu and grinned. "The hollow have always been preparing for an attack, but what troubles me is that I can't predict and movement against us, because we weren't here in the alternate future I came back from."

Naibu understood though. He knew the full details regarding Kenji's travels and only nodded agreement. "Well," He began with a smile, "hows the kid? Sorry I wasn't there for the birth, but being in Hueco Mundo kind of took the decision away from me. "Kentaro..." Kenji thought, recalling the moment he became a father with such delight that the smile on his face split it in two. "The little guy's as healthy and strong as I am," He declared proudly, with passing defenders shaking their heads as though such outbursts were the norm, "but nowhere near as good-looking." He added, causing a young female defender to roll her eyes as she walked on.

"I don't think she liked that comment much," Naibu remarked. "But anyway, congratulations, Kenji. I bet Dastan was just as pleased as Sensei was." The two continued walking from their, discussing battle tactics regarding the Rukon District and how to foil Averian's attacks, with the occasional off-hand comment about their personal lives that brought laughter from nearby defenders. The one when Kenji sleep walked and smacked his head off the door frame earned more than a few laughs. Both friends continued like that until they reached the docks... where Kenji's eyes widened in surprise as a Garganta tore through the skyline...!

The Invasion Begins Edit

The Docks Under Siege Edit

Aoi Inazuma flashed into Kenji's hand, the Daishō pair a pair of deadly steel in his trained hands. Hollow poured through the blackness parting the sky, and roars accompanied them as they descended. The hollows existed in as many different variations and forms as the imagination could create with every one different and more, or less, bestial-shaped than the others.

Naibu simply spoke, invoking the power of Jōzai - his zanpakutō - simple words playing hollow against hollow. They turned on one-another, sinking canines designed for rending and tearing flesh into their allies. Blood flowed, though the confusion wrought gave Kenji every possible opening he could wish for. His Senka took him in a straight line through his foes, Aoi Inazuma's daishō flashing mechanically through the air.

It had took mere minutes for the defenders to appear, Kidō and zanpakutō flashing momentarily to dispel close and distant hollow. Bestial roars, deftly silenced, continued along the line. Falling back, Kenji added his own Kidō to the throng of his allies while Naibu directed the hollow into a grouped bunch with mere wordplay; never once doing more than simply speaking in a trance-inducing tone.

Tyrell Nishiki, hand-picked lieutenant of the 5th Division under Yoshiro appeared at the head of the Kidō firing column and calmly spoke orders. He'd been involved in the majority of the battles in the Rukon District and knew how to command well.

But the hollow came swift and sure with the opening of a second and third Garganta alongside the first. This time, Menos Grande poked their heads out and fired Cero's quickly stopped by Kenji's Danku spell created before them. "Tyrell! Set the defenses further back!" Naibu called, quickly turning one Menos on another before flashing forward to topple a second with a single powerful punch!

"Heh. Good to see the reiatsu you threw away done some good," Kenji remarked. "Strike, Aoi Inazuma!" The familiar form of two elegantly curved blades that crackled with sheer lightning energy. Lightning peeled from the blades edge with every swinging arc and flashing strike, clearing the way so the others could retreat safely and re-organize their defenses in light of the Menos Grande.

"I didn't throw it away, as you so plainly stated," Naibu replied, cutting aside an avian hollow with a strike of his zanpakutō. "I sacrificed it in order to gain increased physical power. Unlike your Aoi Inazuma that relies on the spiritual, my Jōzai requires only words, and thus the physical beckoned me."

"Uh huh." Kenji remarked with a comical expression. Static electricity passed between the two before they became serious once again. "I'll cover you," Kenji commented, directing a firm gaze over his shoulders. "I'll follow along in a minute." Naibu did as he was told and took several impressive leaps that took him beyond the docks and into the area called the Lower Heights. Home to the majority of the small businesses and merchants responsible for keeping the village supplied, Naibu was glad to see that Tyrell had used the time bought well. Kidō barriers, held in place by skilled practitioners protected the area in a large dome-like shield that left only a small opening for people to come and go. Landing lightly, lightning flashing from the docks, Naibu spoke a few orders and held his ground. He was of Master-Rank, giving him a level of authority below only the Captains of the order itself.

Digging in, Tyrell regarded each of his melee-fighters expectantly. "The hollow don't have an Adjuchas among them," Naibu's nod gave those present a level of relaxation, "meaning they've pushed in here without a strategy. They'll break on the Kidō barriers like water on rock. When they do, the shield will be opened here, here and here." pointing in three different directions - each flanking the enemy. The youngsters voice, to Naibu's surprise, was encouraging and strong; a tone that lent others courage and filled them with a desire to do the best they possibly could. "Yoshiro... you've found an interesting young Shinigami. To be able to lead, so effectively, and command such respect at his age, is truly remarkable." The peace of his inner thoughts, though, were interrupted as Kenji; a blood stain on his right shoulder and lower-right abdomen, spilled through a carefully opened and quickly closed section of the barrier. "They've got Adjuchas with 'em," and Naibu felt a chill run up his spine. Adjuchas meant a plan. And a plan meant trouble. "And that in itself is simply... well, troublesome." He thought, turning to rally his allies.

The Order Strikes Back Edit

Kusaka Kori, with his brother at his side overlooked the hollow falling on the dome-shaped Kidō barrier from his position in the sky. Things were beginning to look good, though. Order members broke free from the barrier from carefully opened holes in perfect positions for flanking strikes. "Too bad there too tightly packed," Sojiro commented. "If we rush now, we'll only be getting in the way." Sojiro was right, Kusaka found by observing things more closely. If he were to lead his own division - currently the smallest, but best trained - he'd only interfere in the plan. So he waited a little before making his move.

Finally, he decided and took a step forward. "Sojiro, lead half the men," His brothers eyes grew wide and worry creased his forehead, but Kusaka forestalled any attempt at reply with a raised hand. "Trust me, brother. Take half and lead them - carefully mind - to ram the hollow from behind. They'll be caught in a pincer, giving Kenji and Co. a chance they can't miss." He grasped his brothers arm tightly, face betraying his growing worry. "I've got a bad feeling about this invasion," He confided quietly, "so be careful and don't be a hero. Hero's tend to turn up dead. Get my drift, little brother?" Nodding, Sojiro flashed away, leaving Kusaka to sigh; his breathe misting in front of his eyes. "Okay folks," He basically intoned that, "move out and by the love of all thats holy, be quiet. Let's not alert every hollow in Horiwari to our presence, at least for now." They moved as one, a single flash step taking them from view...

The counter attack had begun and it was only a matter of time until the trap clamped down...

Objective Revealed Edit

This far from the battle, Ino allowed herself a level of laziness as she cradled her crying son in her arms. She whispered, making soothing sounds as bestial roars filled the village. Explosions and bangs. Clatter and clang. Some were recognizable for what they were; a hollow dying, its final cry reaching the heavens. A Shinigami's Kidō hitting home or that of a Vizards Cero. Everywhere the sound of battle echoed.

The small sense of urgency that Ino kept a hold of was the one thing that allowed her to anticipate the roof caving in above her and several humanoid hollow - obviously Arrancar or Vasto Lords - their spiritual signatures cloaked and well-hidden landing in the room with her. Kidō sprang up around her instinctively and her blade took the right-most figure in the gut before she leapt through the hole they had created.

She was alone, save for her son who cried in her right arm. "Tut...! At this rate..." She couldn't hold out against three foes she couldn't sense with a child in her arms, nor could she run for help for fear they'd take her unawares. Uncertainty wracked her mind, but the choice was made for her as two defenders - those of the Ryu Guard - landed before her, zanpakutō's flashing in their hands to shield her. "Taichō!" The male said, "We'll hold them off. Take young Kentaro to safety!" The clash of steel scrapping against steel filled the air and a flash step took her away from the scene, with the Yuengiri Academy looming large a small distance away. "The pupils!"

The only protection they'd have would be Maki Zhijun, who couldn't possibly protect them all. So she made a split-second decision that took her down towards the academy grounds and through the front doors previously locked. The bars slid into place as she entered, relieve washing over her as the stern figures of Maki Zhijun and Rikimaru Ichinose came into view. Maki was barking orders in his usual no-nonsense tone, while Rikimaru assisted those with injuries.

"Ino, your safe." Rikimaru said, rising. "A Garganta opened here, too." Blood, fresh on the walls, caught her eyes and she trembled visibly. "How many," She asked in a whisper. "We lost six in the initial skirmish and three more in the second. We made it through the third with none, thank goodness, but that was more Maki's doing than anything else. Three figures, no presence, slipped away. I'm sorry."

"Hold you head high, Rikimaru." She touched his arm gently and nodded, the elder man returning to the wounded as Ino approached the stern-faced Maki. "They came out of nowhere. It was all we could do to shut the main doors on such short notice," He turned, adopting a grandfatherly expression that took in the infant with relieved eyes. "You are safe? Both of you? Good." He sounded and looked pleased. "Here's the situation," And Ino only nodded as Maki retold what one of the Adjuchas had said: "We are come for the child, who bears the mark of our own." Ino was in no doubt who he meant; Kentaro. Her son was in possession of hollow powers without an actual Inner Hollow, and the revelation sent a very real chill down her spine. They were after her son.

Caught within Fears Embrace Edit

Naibu crossed swords with the leader of the hollow, using every ounce of his immense physical strength to turn aside the latter's sword and put distance between them with a kick. Kenji was down, sliced across the back as Averian revealed himself, and now lay unresponsive but alive, with his face flat on the floor. "Damn it." Naibu thought, utterly calm despite the situation. Averian was before him, face twisted in an evil snarl; eyes fixed on the Kenji's face-down form.

"I won't let you have him," Naibu stated, deflecting another series of strikes and single-handed blows. The Arrancar seemed to be surprised. "Let me have a guess at what your thinking," Naibu stated. "You can sense my spiritual energy; probably why you ambushed Kenji first, because I wouldn't be a threat, right? My spiritual energy is only at the level of a seated officer, and yet my physical strength surpasses your own right now, and it frightens you. I can see it written on your face as clear as the setting sun." Their zanpakutō's brushed again; with Naibu being sent backward this time instead.

"Don't presume to know my power," Averian replied, somewhat angrily. "I demonstrated how weak your precious Head-Captain is," he spat the title out, "and yet you flock to him, as though-" Lightning interrupted, with Kenji rising to stand again. "And you always talk to much, Arrancar. Naibu could sense it, though. Kenji was different. "How is that... possible? I mean, his aura's completely different!"

"So that's what you done," Kenji stated, ripping his hand across his face as if to summon his hollow mask. Only nothing formed. The wind howled in his ears. "You killed my Inner Hollow... didn't you?" Although surprised clearly, Kenji looked down at his zanpakutō - which strangely took the form of two cruelly shaped hook-swords designed for the sole reason of causing destruction. "But I guess I should thank you," Naibu's ally uttered. "Because that act seems to have altered my soul somewhat. Let the God's Run Free, Sanmiittai!" A burst of spiritual energy was released, washing over everything...!

Kenji's hook-swords were replaced with a hand-and-a-half-sword with plain black upper hilt wrapping with a silver bottom, and a very plain blade, with the word 'Adauchi cut into the hilt. "Now you disappear." The remainder of the battle went unseen, as Naibu directed his attention towards the rampaging hollow all around. But it didn't take long for the entire Order to know that Kenji had won, when a Garganta opened and Averian's power signature faded away like the last glimpse of the suns light before night fell...

Next Story > Newfound Rivalry: Kenji meets Rosuto

Author's Note Edit

  • This is the first of several stories that will fill in key points during the time-skip between Part I and Part II of my Bleach series. The stories will be posted as needed.

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