Bleach: The Hollowing [OOC]
The walls around the Academy made a large perimeter. Fifty or so new students were jogging along its edge with the instructor leading the group. Pants and gasps filled the air and they had yet to finish a single lap. Akimoto would have chuckled to himself if he wasn’t so focused on keeping a steady breath and impacting his body minimally upon each step. It was a tightly-packed group at the start, but now it strung out quite a distance now. After another minute, some of the students resorted to a labored walk, unable to push their bodies further and endure a simple run.
He stopped at the main gate of the Academy. There was no redness in his face or a puffy chest. He looked back to see those that were directly behind him as the students which attended his Dojo before attending this Academy. They weren’t feeling a great level of fatigue either, and Akimoto nodded to them in silent appreciation of their fitness. It took almost twenty minutes for the remainder of the class to catch up so he could continue his “lesson,” which most would consider a boot camp. “But aren’t you here to combat Hollows? Hollows are strong. Many students die before graduating. Are you going to be strong enough to survive that long?” he’d ask them, usually rhetorically.
“Hakuda is about using one’s body as a weapon. But the sharpest blade is useless upon rusted iron. Once you can all run five laps around this Academy will I be able to move on. Get going,” he said, pointing his thumb behind him as an indication for them to start another lap. Many of the students groaned and limped off into a hopping wobble as if to fake running. Once the last student passed him, Captain Akimoto sprinted beside them, soon passing the front runner and not bothering to show the kind of unity he had before. Now it was a competition, as well as his personal exercise time.
It was true that he held this class three times a day, averaging fifteen laps around the enormous perimeter of the Academy. His more advanced classes included technical sparring and weight and resistance training, which he took liberties in teaching. With his time at the Academy and conducting the Dojo, his only “resting” day came every third day. He had to keep his physique up, though, or he’d compromise the safety of his students and the Shinigami not only within his Division but others as well, placing himself as their protector and role-model.
A Shinigami in standard dress approached the Captain who lifted a bar loaded with the most weight he could manage to put on it. Before reaching the Captain, the alarms sounded. “Captain, there has been Hollow sightings in the lowest districts of the Rukongai. I have to assume the alarms are in relation to this information.” The boy stood with his hands behind his back and his chest high. Akimoto continued to push up the unreasonable weight, his body dripping with sweat and veins red with blood and oxygen.
Soon after, a member of the Onmitsukido appeared on the other side of the bench. “Captain Akimoto, sir, there has been an outbreak of Hollows in the furthest ten districts of the Rukongai.”
“All of the Rukongai?” His question was asked with comfort.
“Yes, sir. Ca-“
“Yu-chan must really be concerned to send one of her best to contact me directly.”
“Yes, Captain.” The boy reiterated a bit more sternly. “Captain-Commander Kaito requests a meeting with all the Captains. Captain 12th has sent his Lieutenant and most of his troops to fight back what they can and Captain Kanade’s troops have been deployed to assess the situation. Captain Tatasuko has been ordered to survey the area and will attend the meeting via Hologram. Captain Fuanteina has even been requested for audience with the Captain-Commander,” the Onmitsukido boy continued, noting the Captain of the Fifth Division had yet to set the bar back on the rack. Perhaps he was concerned that it wouldn’t hold.
“Captain Akimoto, it sounds serious,” the Shinigami piped up, insisting he go attend his meeting.
“I suppose so,” he said after a short pause.
The matter concerned him greatly. Why would the Hollows infiltrate the Rukongai and how could they occupy ten whole districts in each region? There was much more going on and he knew more information would be gathered and reported when he reached the First Division Barracks. Keeping a grip on the bar, he sat up quickly and set it down on the concrete floor with impressive ease. The ground cracked and reset under its weight. “Thank you,” he said before bowing low to each of them. With his infamous Ken’in Ho, he leapt over the walls of the roofless gymnasium and headed straight for the Barracks of the First Division.
Regardless of the obviously impending danger placed upon the Seireitei, his mind was clear. He meditated while performing the Towing Steps he could. It soon turned into sprinting between jumping over walls and then onto rooftops. It was no surprise that he was one of the last Captains to arrive at the Barracks. The others waited in silence until everyone was in attendance. The Hell Butterflies next to Captain Kanade buzzed audibly as they relayed a profuse amount of information to her. Captain-Commander Kaito sat on her throne of sorts with her saggy eyes going over each of her children.
The Captains knelt upon thin cushions around a long table as they waited for the meeting to begin. Some didn’t understand the necessity for this meeting until they learned the Hollows infiltrated the lower levels around the entire Rukongai. It was clear they had not listened to the entire briefing or perhaps they arrived too early and weren’t provided enough information. Akimoto briefly glanced around the large chamber noting everyone was now in attendance.
At the opposite end of the table, closest to the head, was Yue. Most would deem her unworthy of such an audience as equals with the rest of them, but her dormant potential exceeded most others, at least in his opinion. Of course, Akimoto was largely biased toward the girl and only for personal matters. Captain Seicho was the only one to actually catch his eyes and give a sweet nod. They were almost like the mother and father of the Gotei with Captain-Commander Kuroda as the Grandmother. It mattered little what fictional familial roles they played during such a conflict. To put labels on their maternal and paternal natures respectively accomplished little.
“Come, Satsuki. Tell us what is happening.” The unusually strong voice of the Captain-Commander demanded information from the girl one again and she complied. “Zume, what have you observed?” The “minimal” information he’d managed to gather in such an immediate amount of time was always impressive. This particular information was particularly grave, however.
“These pests need to be exterminated! We can’t allow for them to penetrate further! Romiel, contact the Houses and prepare them for battle, we’re going to need all the man-power we can get. Jusuina, have your Lieutenant stand by for rescue; I want you on the field for emergency care. Taiki, you stay here and keep an eye on the interior. I don’t want them messing up my house. Satsuki, you stay here with me to give orders and relay information to the others. Zume, I want you manning the monitors and relay to us as much information as you can. Bring with you only the most skilled of your Divisions. I’m not letting these ghouls take any lives! Now, to the Rukongai!”
Her eyes didn’t once move from their dead stare into space but the Captains immediately vanished except the one she requested to remain with her. There was a strange sense of curiosity amongst the Captains. Neither urgency nor worry was at the forefront, but rather the idea that Hollows and Arrancars had decided to infiltrate the Rukongai and at the farthest distance from the Seireitei. There was definitely more going on and a possible infiltration was more than likely but right now the balance between pluses and Hollows was on the brink of complete collapse.
Even with the nine Captains they had at one point with the help of the Yukihiro House, the Shinigami were still overwhelmed. It was fascinating how sheer numbers could overwhelm the most powerful Shinigami among the Gotei. Their ability to gather and unify apparently every Hollow to exist and make them cooperate with apparently every Arrancar was unheard of and assumed impossible up until this point. Not only that, they were able to successfully infiltrate the Seireitei. It was immediately after this that the Captains were called back inside the walls.
After investigations of the incident, it was determined that it was only a single Arrancar with unimaginable speed. Throughout most of the Seireitei his image appeared, and even in questionable areas. Even with Zume’s knowledge on Sonido and the layout of the Seireitei, neither he nor Akimoto were able to pin him down. It was argued that Captain Kanade would have had a difficult time catching the creature, assuming she could follow him at all. And with the seemingly flawless execution of Sonido clones which amazingly acted independently, that would have been unlikely.
There were no traces of anything he might have left behind. It was ordered for Zume and Satsuki to perform a rigorous “scanning” of all of the Seireitei and they effectively found nothing to make note of. It seemed he didn’t even leave a scratch on a surface. Eventually it was left that he was to distract the “nucleus” while they planted something they call a Largetto all across the Rukongai. Captain Tatasuko has currently found a ninth Largetto and has found that they are incredibly dense and difficult, currently impossible, to destroy. In fact, he hasn’t found a way to effectively counter their energies, but he’s murmured something about “soon.” Another oddity is that they seem to be one-way as it has not been noted for a Hollow or Arrancar of any level to enter into one.
Captain Kanade has discovered Hollows not only feeding on the pluses, but also recruiting some of the stronger souls to demoralize any parties sent into their portion of the Rukongai. She’s also noted a lack of refugees coming from those districts. The upper districts have reported minimal levels of a population increase. Even with that “minimal increase,” the Central 46 determined it would be best to begin a compulsory enlistment into the Academy which has effectively turned into some kind of military base even more-so than the First Division Barracks.
The Captains have discarded all “minor reports,” including all those up to deaths and replacement, and focused on forming effective parties to infiltrate and gather what information they can while attempting to gain ground where they can. Currently they can’t keep more than twenty districts into the Rukongai without losing ground elsewhere.
The First and Tenth Captains have assumed the role of Generals while their Lieutenants and highest seated Officers as Second-in-Commands. They have been tasked with absorbing all information gained by the Seventh, Eighth, and Twelfth Divisions and understanding the flow of happenings in their own realm. They gain this information by various technologies not fully revealed by Captain Tatasuko but largely from the parties they send into the Rukongai. These parties are a combination of Shinigami from the Eleventh, Fifth, Fourth, and Thirteenth Divisions with some “spares” from other Divisions. Otherwise, the Fourth Division has been on round-the-clock duty with injuries and casualties. The Fifth Division remains around the Sekiseki wall to monitor its parameters. The Second Division is tasked with leading the patrol around the twentieth districts of the Rukongai with the Thirteenth Division attempting to erect barriers strong enough to form a second Seireitei wall. Even working with the Kido Corps hasn’t been enough to create one stable enough to extend around the entire Rukongai. Captain Romiel was commanded in gaining closer relations with the Noble Houses. It seems only the Yukihiro and Usagi Houses care to “play.” The Seicho have been determined “un-combative” enough to cease further pursuit, even when the daughter of the head is Captain of Division Four. The Sixth has been made to retain order within the walls of the Seireitei but also as a constant patrolling for the Arrancar from the initial “invasion.” Lastly, the Ninth Division has been keeping to body counts and proper burials and funerals for the fallen.
Captain-Commander called for another meeting with all the Captains. This would be the first one since the war actually started, as commands were relayed strictly by Hell Butterfly since first attack. It was clear this was not going to be the most uplifting of meetings. It also might have come as a surprise that she believed the Lieutenants capable of running things while the Captains met.
“Casualties have remained ‘stable.’ Around 1000 every month.” Her voice held a touch of venom, enough to get across that she believed this unacceptable in spite of the way she described the current situation. “Even with our increased efforts at the Dojo and the Academy, we can’t see to keep out head above this rate. According to Satsuki, the Hollows have suffered greater losses than we, but we are tasked for controlling these beasts, we should not be having this much trouble.” Her voice grew angry, or as angry as her elderly vocal chords would allow her. She cleared her throat as a physical effort to amend her tone and keep to the topic she wished to discuss with them.
“I want to use the relics of the Noble Houses,” she declared quite fervently. Her eyes shifted to the third position along the table. “I need you to get them to allow me to use them. We are not winning this war. Our resources diminish as does our time. I know you’ve been working with them for quite a while but even if they don’t care to personally join the war, their ancestors have an obligation to protect what they helped create.” She clearly wasn’t her “normal” self. She immediately grew direct and cold as she learned about the invasion. The others had only noted her possessive and jovial nature prior to these events. “If you can’t get permission, I need you to learn what you can about them. I’ll take those relics from them by force if I have to.” She knew she could not do this without the Central 46’s permissions, but by this time, they would probably allow this.
“I need to see the state of the World of the Living as well. Satsuki, I need you to investigate the Jurechi and report back what you can with no casualties. Take what you must but it will be a short trip. Don’t make me come to get you myself.” A glimmer of that grumpy humor? “Also, I would like to take this time to personally thank Taiki for his lending us his Dojo. I apologize that I must repurpose the building but you understand why it must be done.” Akimoto only nodded stiffly, affirming that he knew very well the need for his Dojo and his students. “Zume, I need more information from you. You’re not providing enough to me. What the hell are you doing in that lab? You’re going to need to make up for Satsuki’s absence,” she berated, rather unnecessarily. Perhaps a tangible poke to provide more from him instead of random messages would work better. “Yue, Red, I need to move to the twenty-second districts. This needs to be done by the end of the month. There are fields and factories in those districts that we need to get back up and functioning so we can continue fighting this war. If you two fail, we will lose this war.” Her eyes dug into both of them, perhaps more heavily into the girl’s. “Any and all concerns or complaints should be addressed now before I conclude this meeting.” This was unusually polite for the hag.
“I shall speak with my mother about the Relic,” a gentle voice sounded soon after. “No need for you to dirty your hands, Miss Kuroda, Captain Forveus, any further.” The title was humorous at best, but Jusuina most appreciated the Captain-Commander’s persistent youthful demeanor and noted the Captain-Commander’s enjoyment of the young lady’s title. “If my mother will not listen to reason, I will take it myself. I have the authority to do so, anyway.” Kuroda only huffed thankfully at the offer.
“I’d also like to take this time to request some assistance from the Kido Corps. I wish to request that they work to invent more Healing Kido techniques and teach them to my Officers. If I am to keep my Division effective and if we’re going to start to push, I’m going to need more capable Healers.” The Captain-Commander dipped her chin twice. “I expect Azami to work with you eagerly, Jusuina, dear.” It seemed like a smile was supposed to show on her face, but the extra skin on her cheeks hid that relatively effectively.
Hell Butterflies fluttered around the room. The walls beeped and chimed with make-shift monitors for viewing key locations within the Seireitei and into the Rukongai. Somehow, the persistent sound wasn’t enough to interrupt the meeting being held. A Butterfly made its way toward Yue. “Kouta will help you and Captain Seishou. I’m giving him the message now and he’s making preparations as we speak.”