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This article, Key To The Endless Sky, is property of Kenji-Taichō. Permission is required to alter its content.

This article, Key To The Endless Sky, is property of Rozeluxe.

The wind was blowing through the trees, lifting small specs of dust from the ground that blew quickly past the ankles of the two friends training under the light of the moon. Kitsui Sanretsu and Sairento Mukui danced their individual styles, footfalls light on the grass beneath their feet and the wind calm on their faces. Sword met spear once, then twice and finally a third time before they parted and circled one another again.

They done this quite regular, as both enjoyed the company of the other and the strength they each possessed. For Kitsui, the Masukage flowing as he stepped was the closest thing to a brother he had ever had and they shared a respectful look and head nod before their weapons clashed again, raining sparks on the ground around them, swiftly carried off by the wind. "I knew this would be fun," Sairento grinned. "You've improved, haven't you?" He asked as they once again parted.

Two figures appear from the shadows as a cloaked female figure jumps down from a tall tree and begins to speak to two others. "Are they the targets?"

The green haired shadow starts to smirk as it turns toward the female figure "Of course. We don't just follow anyone around now. Then again, its some awful good luck that we found them together"

"They looked to be quite skilled, neither one of you should let down your guard or you could be in for some trouble. I wonder why Shori-dono wants us to face these two in actual combat. Maybe its more training from his perspective, but as far as I'm concerned I see this as nothing more than a large waste of all of our time." The red haired shadow spoke as he brandished his sword.

Kitsui, aware of the new arrivals because of the increased perception severing ones emotions granted, skidded to a halt and made a casual flick of his wrist that served to alert Sairento to the danger as well. Aside from that singular motion, no other indication that they knew was given, with the two black-haired youths returning to their training; Shagetsu striking Helix Dagger in glancing motions that barely caused sparks to fly.

"Not careful enough," Sairento stated calmly, his quick evasion and following movement taking him to Kitsui's exposed left flank, the tip of his lance shining in the moons glow, where he proceeded to strike with a powerful piercing motion! Sparks did fly then, as his lance made contact with a glowing beam-like sword of reishi that formed in Kitsui's left hand, the impact causing the freshly cut grass to shower around them.

Surpise and admiration covered the young Shinigami's face, followed by a nod; though all turned to anger when he still felt the presence of those nearby. "I've been watched enough in my lifetime," Kitsui breathed, tone dangerously close to anger. Averian had saw to that, and right now, he had the Arrancar's image engraved in his mind, to such degrees that he thought it was he who was watching him. Repelling Sairento with a twist of his wrist and the Masukage's own knowledge of his friends style and probable next move, Kitsui turned towards the area the new arrivals stood. His face was a mask of concentration edged with danger, Sairento pointed out mentally. "I've got your back, Kitsui." And Kitsui knew it to be true.

Drawing his arm back, eyes reflecting the moons light, Kitsui finally followed through with a piercing motion from his left arm; the reishi blade extending at tremendous speeds, the air around it whistling as though it, too, were being cut aside, threatening to pierce those in its path!

Running from beside the two others, a sword formed in the female figure's hand as she cut through the blade of light causing it to separate around the group. "-sigh- That took a lot more out of me than I expected. I think I can see why we were need for these two."

Forming a pillar of fire around his arm, the red haired figure launched the torrent of flames toward Kitsui as he began forming another and launching it towar Sairento as well. "Hm, it looks as though we will have to test these two and see what they are truly capable of. Seiza! Luka! I will not tolerate failure agianst people such as this. Let us show them the might we possess. A white haired shinigami killed Atarashi, and Shori gave us information and we found this guy. It can't be coincidence that this happened." Turning to Luka, the red haired figure nodded. "Go Luka. show that spear weilder that you mean business."

"On it Akira!" Luka dashed foward toward the flaming torrent riding on the flames to increase his speed before jumping into the air with hi blade drawn coming down upon Sairento with a ferocious strike. "Let's make this M-A-G-I-C-A-L."

Sairento's body flowed through the motions without him really being aware of it. Kitsui's voice had sounded, telling him to move, and within secnds he was doing just that. The blade that was coming towards him from the unknown man shoutinh something about magic was stopped dead in it's tracks with a solid blade made by Kitsui.

As he twisted through the air, his vision fell on the torrent of flame cascading towards Kitsui. "My turn to watch his back," The young Masukage thought as he moved into position. Calling Domaine Spiriteaux, three rings formed around the flames and drained them of the spiritual energy that filled them, causing them to loose a great deal of their intensity. With that done, Kitsui stabbed his zanpakutō into the ground and extended the same reishi blade through the back of his outfit, expanding the size through more energy so it parted the flames safely to either side of himself and Sairento.

"Keep your guard up," Sairento warned. "We have no idea what these guys are capable of."

Luka smirked as he jumped back a few feet. "Ah. These guys have more skill than anticipated huh Akira?" Not awaiting an answer, Luka charged foward toward Sairento with his nodachi outstretched in front of him, using his speed to maneuver his body in to a spinning motion, Luka turned himself into a humanoid drill. "Tiger drill!"

"Hmph." Firing several fireballs toward Kitsui and Sairento, Akira marched foward. "I see there is a Masukage here. I wonder if he is a part of Inai's group. Why is he here though?" Stoping his barrage of fire, Akira created several large pillar of flames around Kitsui as he charged toward Sairento, jumping up above him and creating a wall of flames behind him in order to cut off his escape routes and pin him down.

Now standing side-by-side, Sairento and Kitsui met the others eye momentarily, understanding passing between them as though the two shared some telepathic link. With one foe twisting and the other forming flames anew, Kitsui spread his arms wide, a wall of blades surrounding him and Sairento in a make-shift shield which provided Sairento the time he needed. The black-haired Masukage made a slashing motion with his lance, that singular motion signaling the opening of the Shiru technique Nul, which opened a dimensional gateway that absorbed the flames summoned before closing just as quickly as it first appeared.

Capitalizing, Kitsui removed his zanpakutō from the ground in front and launched a massive energy attack into the heavens, before muttering almost silently "Amearare". That caused the energy to diverge and split, raining shafts of sharpened spear-like projectiles beyond counting down around the area, Kitsui and Sairento protected only through the use of the weapons Kitsui summoned previously. "At this rate," Kitsui began. "We'll be too tired to fight back," Sairento finished. They're only chance was to make themselves an opening!

Parting to opposite sides, Luka and Akira made way for Seiza who charged in, jumping over the two combatants. A demonic grin on the girl's face reflected in the moonlight as her sword shimmered. Seemingly suspending herself in the air, she called out as she directe her blade toward the ground beneath Kitsui and Sairento. "Andoromeda!" Chains, sprung up from the ground, landing in the form of a spider's web around their feet. Landing behind them, Seiza stuck her blade near one of the ends of her chains, "At your will, Akira."

Noding to recognize her, Akira turned to Kitsui and Sairento. "Young Shinigami, and Masukage. Please surrender and come quietly. If you do, you will be spared from further harm. If you insist on fighting then this web will have to be used upon you." Directing his attention toward Sairento, Akira raised an eyebrow. "You there, who do you work for? I do not recognize you."

Kitsui occupied his time trying to consider a way out of their current predicament. "It was only a matter of time until the third revealed herself," He thought calmly. But then a thought came to mind, one that brought a smile to his young face. "He just called me a Shinigami, didn't he? He didn't feel my Hollow side...!" The clouds overhead passed, revealing the moons glow which fell upon Kitsui's skin with a soft glow. That one act brought a smile to Sairento's face, as Kitsui's abilities would now be stronger. "Sorry, but I'm not going anywhere. Least of all with any of you." Kitsui replied.

To give his friend the opening he would need, as the young black-haired Kitsui entered his Mūnshedo form, the only indication such a change had occurred being the blue waves that now surrounded his body. "I work for no one," Sairento retorted, somewhat fiercely. "There are no leaders among Team Sanretsu!" He struck the floor and brought up a dust cloud that lasted only a small amount of time, but when it did finally disappear, Kitsui stood with a Hollow mask covering his face, his spiritual energy exuding an even blend of Shinigami and Hollowfied reiatsu!

It was then that the net covering their feet was destroyed, as Kitsui released a bodily Rei Furashuu, with Sairento cutting himself free by once again utilizing the Shiru ability Domaine Spiriteaux to absorb the spiritual energy within the net immediately around his feet, allowing him to cut himself free without much trouble. "Who do you-"

Sairento's words were cut off by falling feathers, colored black, as a young man with large black wings spread wide regarded those below with a goofy grin and crossed arms that made him appear somewhat serious, in spite of his grin. "Kitsui. Sairento." He greeted in a friendly manner. "It's good to see you two again. My mission hunting that turtle hollow came off without a hitch, you'll be happy to know. Now," He addressed the other three accompanying his allies, coming to the immediate conclusion that they were not friendly. "These happen to be my 'little brothers' if you will, so its a pretty big problem for me to see you causing them problems. Yoshiaki would have my head if something happened to 'em."

Turning to look at the man, Luka smirked. "And you are? If you are someone associated with them, then I'm afraid your luck has run out." Brandishing his sword, Luka jumped up toward the new arrival and spun himself into the form of a drill.

Paying no heed to the feathered man, Akira looked at Kitsui with his glowing eye, meeting the hollowfied eyes of Kitsui. "I thought as much. It looks as though all of this is going as planned. Hmph. I suppose since it has come to this, you won't be hearing us out. Not a problem then. We will just burn you into the ground where you stand!" Releasing his reiatsu, Akira let loose a wide wave of flames. As the flames covered the area, Akira began to develop a flaming helmet on his head.

"Looks like master has started. I cannot fall behind." Seiza jumped up onto a rock as she began removing her cloak allowing the energy from the stars to flow into her. Slowly, she began turning her blade in a counter-clockwise fashion causing the molecules around her to slow in motion creating a cold aura around her blade, directing the below 0 temperature wind at her opponent's, Seiza chanted "Shiratoriza!" Causing the part of the wind to solidify and change into sharp spikes.

Saikō initially smirked at the green-haired mans words, obviously not taking him seriously at all. "Long story short, I'm their friend and your enemy. That's all I really need to tell a corpse, wouldn't you agree?" Saikō then vanished, literally. The only indication of his movement were the feathers which fell from his large, black-colored wings. When he was next seen, he was standing behind Luka with a black blade in his hand. "Damn your slow," Was all he said as he sped off towards the still moving Luka.

"Hearing you out?" Kitsui asked, somewhat annoyed. "You were watching us, something I never much liked, and then you say you wish to talk!? You can talk for eternity in the afterlife!" A wraith-like entity, colored white, appeared behind Kitsui, glowing intensely in the moons glow. His Mūnshedo form empowered his physical abilities, and with all that physical augmentation behind him, Kitsui hurled his zanpakutō straight towards his foe, seemingly leaving himself defenseless.

Meanwhile, Sairento clutched his Helix Dagger and overflowed the weapon with his spiritual energy, causing him to emerge in his released state. The young Masukage gained crystal-like armor extending from his pre-existing suit of armor which bore many sharp points and a bright blue coloration. "I take it you've seen something similar to this?" Sairento asked of Seiza, as crystal formed, preventing the spikes from reaching his body. "I'd like to think I'm not as hot-headed as my allies, so I'll ask one more time. Who are you people, and why were you watching us?"

Stopping by digging his blade into the ground, Luka turned and pulled his blade out slinging a large cloud of dirt and debris into the eyes of his charging opponent. "Haha. A corpse you say? Its funny you mention that, after the death off Atarashi, I'm afraid you just said the key to your demise." Luka started to glow in a demonic aura as his canine began to grow.

"Please just surrender. Your moves are already embedded into my mind." Akira's eyes shone with a brilliant golden light as he constructed several walls of flames in order to slow Kitsui's blade. "Allow me to burn. You will quickly meet your demise as I will continue to grow in strength in conjunction to the strength of the surrounding flames. And if you aren't careful..." Akira began to speak as he watched behind Kitsui with a look of boredom upon his face.

"..You may get buried alive." Seiza finished his sentence as she caused the frigid spikes to shatter creating a near arctic temperature around the two opponents. "As for your questions, I have seen this style of ability in the hands of my sister sword's master. Your skill is far too inept to compete with his, the one bit of knowledge I will share with you is that if you wish to truly grow stronger, train with that man, though I will not tell you his name." Seiza retorted before positioning herself for another technique, seemingly ignoring the rest of Sairento's questions.

Kitsui surveyed their situation carefully, trying to discern the next best course of action for him and his allies. "These three are clearly stronger than the average lieutenant-class I've fought before." Standing straight, his forehead covered with sweat from the flames, Kitsui took a deep breathe. "... Tell me one thing, and I might surrender. Who sent you? The three of us are bounty hunters, but I'm guessing you three aren't members of a rival agency. No, your too professional. Too strong as well."

Sairento knew well what Kitsui was planning. "He's buying time so that Yoshiaki can make it. His reiatsu's hidden because of the cloak he wears, so all we have to do is wait." Watching his friend and following his example, Sairento feigned surrender under the terms Kitsui had set. "That woman must think she's pretty well informed. I've had enough dealings with the Ryū Order and their leader to know who Van Satonaka is."

On the other side, Saikō was momentarily blinded by the debris hurled into his eyes; but no matter how blinded he was, his wings wouldn't stop working. As his wings abruptly took him into the air and away from his opponent, Saikō used his skills in sensing reiatsu to locate his opponent, where he proceeded to launch five energy rings shaped like halos towards Luka. "Oh? Getting angry are we? Whoever this Atarashi person is, I'm afraid I don't really care if he's sleeping with the worms, or not. It doesn't effect me, either way." Saikō's eyes narrowed though. "I don't like taunting the guy, but with his strength, I need him angry. He might just slip up then and give me an opening to exploit."

"Who sent us? None of your business. If you just lower your wepons then this will all be over quikly. You provoked us into the fight. But if you refuse to do so..." Akira stopped as he heard the mentioning of Atarashi. Turning to Luka's location, Akira launched a series of fireballs toward the winged man before releasing a large surge of spiritual energy through the area setting the surrounding environment ablaze. Turning back to Kitsui, Akira's eyes narrowed "Looks like your friend their decided this for me, I'll just bring you in dead" Allowing his cloak to flow from his body, Akira charged in as the surrounding flames clung to his body creating a near full suit of armor, only exposing his left arm.

Entering his demon form, Luka caused the ground below him to quake. As he released more energy, the ground began to crumble and turn to dust around him. "One too far you smug freak. I'm gonna paint the horizon in your blood." Creating a large plasma tree, Luka protected himself from the incoming rings before directing the tree to grow toward the man in the sky. "I'm gonna clip your wings and take my time torturing you."

Now on his knees as though it signaled his surrender, Kitsui's eyes soon told a very different tale. With his hand placed on the ground, he concentrated his spiritual energy into the energy sword he had used previously. The weapon twisted and turned in the earth before finally bursting from the ground and into the heavens, effectively forcing Luka back from Saikō. "Your clear!"

Sairento moved to engage Akira, but it quickly became clear he wouldn't last long. The flame wrought man in front of him was simply to strong, both physically and spiritually for that, so instead he relied on teamwork with Kitsui once again to save himself some trouble. Kicking Shagetsu's blade towards Akira, Kitsui soon teleported himself right beside his opponents exposed flank using his zanpakutō's special ability. "I don't care how much flame you summon. Not even Averian fully withstood this attack! Sairento, back up. NOW!"

Using the Masukage variant of Garganta for a quick escape, Sairento appeared at Saikō's back and dragged the Fullbringer into the Dangai before closing the gateway completely. With his friends out of the way of potential harm, Kitsui took a deep breathe before leaping away from the flames of Akira. Once a safe enough distance away, and so he could catch Luka in the attack also, Kitsui whispered "Shinai Settotsuki". A massive explosion occurred within the vicinity of Kitsui's person, spreading outward at an alarming rate; its targets Akira, Luka and Seiza!

"Osu Hitsujiza" Seiza stood in front of her partners seemingly unharmed from the massive attack before falling to the ground and revealing a massive glass wall shattering in front of her. "Go for it Master Akira."

Removing his shattered flame armor, Akira leaned down to help Seiza. "Understood, you did well." Handing her a small pill or reiatsu, Akira turned his attention back toward Kitsui. "Was that your big gamble, you should have waited to see what we were fully capable of. Now you will feel the full brunt of our abilities." Igniting the surrounding area ablaze, Akira's eyes narrowed as he began charging toward Kitsui creating two large claws of flames.

Since he had only used it once, Kitsui's spiritual power hardly fell any as a result; though another would drain him considerably. Knowing his friends were safe and ready to pounce from the Dangai at any time, Kitsui raised his zanpakutō and took a deep breathe, the smoke from the flames causing him to cough somewhat. "Everything I do has a plan in mind," Kitsui said with a face almost devoid of emotion. Suddenly though, life roared to life like a flame in his eyes as his spiritual energy began to climb in strength; a white wraith-like entity appearing close to his back.

"Rei Furashuu!" Pure black energy formed along the length of Shagetsu, which soon spread to his body as he sustained the energy for a time, which effectively prevented Akira from coming too close. Forming a suit of protective skin over his body, Kitsui finally made a circle above his head and released the energy outward in a ring shape of energy, aimed directly for all his opponents! But the attack was nowhere near finished. Two gateways opened wide, and from them burst both Sairento and Saikō; riding the Rei Furashuu energy much like a wave as they prepared their own attacks.

"Pause Rapide!" Sairento called, firing off one of the Masukage's Shiru spells while Saikō formed a wave of pure energy which mixed with Kitsui's Rei Furashuu, drastically augmenting its strength.

Akira raised a large wall of fire in an attempt to divert the two attacks but proved to no avail as he was pushed back into a slide along the ground. Standing back up with a smirk, Akira revealed once the smoke cleared that he has released his weapon and now had a massive claw on his right arm. Bleeding from the head, Akira moved his hand away from himself toward Seiza pushing her away from the battlefield. "Its time I handled this on my own."

"On your own?" Saikō asked, smirking. "Not a good idea." Sairento followed. "Nothing can defeat the power of trusted allies." Kitsui finished, the three members of Team Sanretsu looking at one another with a grin. They stood beside one another now, each intent to look out for the other, though it was clear Saikō took a greater care over the others. "Just try it." He warned, baring his teeth in a snarl.

"Hmph. It would be unwise to underestimate me as I am now."Akira placed his hand behind him before rocketing foward coming face to face with Sairento. "I will deal with you first as you remind me of a man I truly despise." Tapping on the ground, Akira created an explosion of the earth around him in order to separate him and Sairento from the others.

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