Ichigo didn't manage to get very far from the cabin before realizing that Izuku and Shoto were both hot on her heels. The two of them were using their quirks to amplify how fast they moved. So keeping up with her at her present speed was fairly easy for the two.
"You two need to go back to the cabin!" She called out, hoping that they would listen to her advice. But the two were stubborn and instead of heading back, managed to pull up abreast of her. One boy on either side.
"No way!" Shoto said loudly.
"We can't leave you alone!" Izuku reaffirmed, his body sparking with green colored lightening.
They were both set on staying as close to her as humanly possible. And that was a bad move on their part since she likely wasn't going to be walking away from the Espada totally unscathed. But if they wanted to risk their life and limb and not listen to her while they had the chance- all she could do was let them tag along.
Besides, she couldn't afford to waste her time yacking at them right now.
The Espada was drawing even closer and had already locked onto her location. He was moving fast too. His attention diverted from the cabin and the rest of the people within it for the time being.
"Fine. But if I tell you two to run- then you do it. Understand."
It wasn't a question. She fully expected them to listen to her or else once she was done with the Espada, she'd kick their little asses from one side of the mountain to the other. And then once she was done with that, she'd brain her guardian again for letting them run off in the first damned place.
The two nodded their heads soberly, but even she knew that they weren't likely to listen if she did tell them to run. She wasn't niave enough to totally underestimate a couple of kids that were likely in the stupid Hero course at the school. And that meant that they were foolishly heroic little idiots.
But hopefully they were trained up enough that they could at least defend themselves enough to not die on her right away. She was pretty sure that her guardian and the others would hate her if they did.
Awesome. She thought darkly when she felt the Espada decide to launch an energy attack in an effort to catch her unawares.
The blast came out of the dark woods ahead of them and she barely had enough time to knock both boys to the ground with a shoulder check, and then finally throw herself out of the way. Before bits and pieces of burning trees, dirt, and rocks were raining down on them following an alarmingly loud Boom.
The two boys lay on the ground trying to get their bearings as what had just happened slowly hit them. Their expressions were matching. One part what-the-fuck, grimly determined and of course- fear.
It was natural for them to be afraid even if they were being trained to be heroes. They were kids. It was understandable that they would be afraid in the face of possible death. And while she wasn't entirely sure about what sort of combat situations they may have faced. She could only hope that they would work with her instead of freeze up and work against her.
She had to remind herself that they had every right to be afraid here.
This wasn't what they were used to. There was no teacher on stand-by to stop the fight and save them if things got out of hand. No doctors or nurses in the immediate vicinity to treat their injuries and keep them alive.
There was just her. The enemy, and them.
She could already feel the crushing pressure of the Espeda's presence closing in on them and had to tune out the two boys who were temporarily frozen in place and asking each other in hushed tones,
"D-Did you see what just happened?"
"No. Did you?"
"No. It was some sort of type of attack."
"We'll need to be careful then. Being unable to see something coming at us will be difficult to get around."
She felt the insane need to roll her eyes. What was it with boys and being stupid enough to challenge even the unknown? Was it a genetic thing? A retard thing? She really didn't get it.
All she knew was that the two boys were definitely idiots. After all, what sane person would stay after something like that and not run away screaming for help?
The Espada came tearing out of the darkened tree line a good fifty or so feet away from them with a loud roar as he charged straight for her. He moved so fast that she barely had any time to see which Espada he was, much less any number ranking him before he had her in his grasp.
His thick arms wrapped around her torso like bands of steel as he popped her feet up off of the ground, and kept going, while she let out a string of oath's so foul that it was a wonder that neither of them were struck down by lightening for offending the ears of god himself.
However despite being in his grasp- she didn't panic at all since she wanted him to get away from the boys. So she acted as if she were struggling. And then once he had carried her far enough away from the two kids so that they wouldn't get caught in the crossfire- somehow miraculously managing to do so without killing either of them when he ran into trees and such- she struck.
Raising a hand in the air, she quickly called on Zangetsu's final form. Wanting the scythe more than the sword at the moment. And the second that it appeared, brought it down between his his shoulders.
He howled and threw her right into the trunk of a tree. Where she hit it with a sickening snap that only came from bones breaking before she fell to the ground in a daze trying to catch her breath so that she could get back up and do it again.
The first things that she really noticed once she caught her breath was the fact that he was struggling to get her scythe out of his back, while slamming himself into various things in an effort to dislodge it from the muscle. Which was probably why she was still alive at the moment.
The second thing that she noticed, was that she couldn't feel her legs. They weren't numb or anything. She just...couldn't feel them. However she could still move them. It just took her a second or so longer than she wanted. Still it was something.
So either there had been some sort of damage to her spine when she'd hit the tree. Or something was going on with her head. Maybe her nerves?
Either way she didn't have time to dwell on it and self diagnose herself. She had something to take care of.
Gritting her teeth so hard that she actually hear something break and could taste the coppery flavor of pennies filling her mouth, she pushed herself up. And with the help of the tree that she'd been thrown into, even managed to get up again. About damned time too since it looked like her new friend- and she used the term loosely here. Very, very loosely- had finally managed to get her scythe out of his back and looked like he had blood in his eye.
"Fuck me." She muttered as the Espada turned his crimson eyes on her and then let out another loud roar. This one filled with even more murderous rage than the last one as he charged her again.
She had the thought at the last moment before his fist connected with her face to try using a Cero blast to get rid of him. But without knowing his ranking as an Espada she worried that it would do nothing to faze him.
Toshinori had heard the explosion a good distance away and felt the ground tremble from the force of it. Feeling the chilling feeling of lead settle in his stomach, he turned towards the sound and ran as fast as he could shouting.
He didn't know exactly how far away from the cabin he was at the moment. All he knew was that he was currently somewhere between the top of the mountain and the middle. Which was good, he supposed. Because it meant that Naomasa and Gran Torino and the boys were still safe.
Still, he couldn't help but be incredibly worried about what that explosion had been caused by.
Finally he seemed to reach the area where the explosion had occurred and skidded to a stop when he saw Izuku and Shoto about to run off and shouted. "Midoriya! Todoroki! What the hell are the two of you doing here?"
It wasn't often that he cursed. Really it wasn't. He tended not to curse often because of who he was and how it made people look at him when he'd still been All Might. So the fact that he had resorted to it now was telling as to his current frame of mind.
The two teens looked at him and then started talking at once. But the basic gist of things was that they had been with Ichigo. Something or someone had attacked them- that's what had caused the explosion. And whoever or whatever had grabbed her right in front of them and then run off in the direction that Izuku was pointing.
As pissed as he was, he couldn't really bring himself to be terribly upset at the moment. Certainly not enough to scream at them for being so foolish when they had simply been trying to help.
Still, having some confirmation on what Ichigo had likely sensed was nice. Sort of. Finding out that his girl had actually picked up on someone who actually had attacked not just her but his two students was more than a little bit irking to him.
Really it was.
And if he'd been in possession of his whole quirk, he would have gladly torn whoever-the-fuck the guy/thing was to pieces with his bare hands.
He was about to tell the boys to go back to the cabin when they all heard an ungodly, animalistic howl of pain and rage that chilled the very blood in their veins. Realizing that Ichigo was likely fighting whatever had made the sound- Toshinori had to make a choice. Stand there and argue with two stubborn boys or go and help his ward to the best of his ability.
He knew that the kids were trained pretty well. But the enemy was unknown to him. Which meant that he didn't know any of it's strengths or weaknesses. And he was uncertain if Ichigo had any formal combat training outside of the martial arts.
Making a tsking sound, he took off running again. This time with Izuku and Shoto were hot on his heels.
Trading blows with the Espada brought back memories for her.
Memories of Orihime's obduction because of Aizen. The restless and frustrating span of months that she and the others spent searching for her. And the several more months after that that they spent wandering around Hueco Mundo because none of them knew what the hell they were doing.
But even more than that- was the fights that had taken place there.
After finally retrieving Orihime and reaching the homestretch, her heart had been torn out by one of the last Espada's still standing. She barely recalled what she felt when it happened aside from the initial shock of looking down to find a huge gaping hole in her chest.
Feeling the Espada land a solid hit on her again, made her growl in annoyance while she chided herself about having her mind on the situation instead of in the past.
Knocking his hand away before the next blow could land, she spun into his personal space and slammed her elbow into his nose with a satisfying crack that sent him staggering back with another inhuman howl before he went on the attack again.
The blows had been coming faster and faster ever since he'd removed her scythe from his back. And he'd been dancing in and out of his reach as much as she could just to land blows on him without him getting his hands on her again. Her legs were still shaky from when she'd been thrown into the tree. And to be perfectly honest she wasn't sure if she was going to be walking away from this one.
The Espada's fists felt a lot like Chad's did whenever he'd hit her that time his mind had been tampered with. It fucking hurt. And she wasn't entirely sure how much more she'd be able to take before her strength finally gave out completely.
She was still mulling over the whole 'Cero blast' idea when all of a sudden a blur came barreling out of nowhere and caught her around the waist. She barely had time to register anything but the blood running down her face and various bruises and broken bones screaming in agony.
But the whole grabbing her thing seemed to be a running trend now- friends. Foes. Tom, Dick, and Harry and each one of their fucking cousins; it didn't matter. Everyone just seemed to grab her like this now.
If not for the fact that she recognized the person that the hands belonged too she might have shouted at the Espada for bringing backup like a little wussy. After all, what self respecting egomaniac Espada brought back up to a fight?
Cowards and weaklings, that's who.
"I am here." She heard her guardian say gently as he shifted his hold on her so that she was settled in his arms looking up at him. His blue eyes had that stormy look to them again as he looked her over. Taking note of the various bruises and every other part of her that was bleeding.
She knew for a fact that her face was a mess of discolored skin, swelling and red.
Even so, she still managed to rasp out in a rough tone. "It's not as bad as it looks." Which was true. Her current injuries were nothing but superficial compared to some of the others that she'd suffered off and on over the years.
At least she still had her life.
She felt her guardian use a hand to gently cup one of her cheeks and use his thumb to wipe away some of the blood in her eye as he said softly, "I know, little one."
And then he carefully handed her off to Izuku who was standing just a bit behind him, glaring angrily at the person who had hurt her so badly.
Once Izuku had her, he took a moment to look her over too while Shoto peered at her from over his shoulder and blanched upon seeing her face. "Good grief he really did a number on you, didn't he."
"I've had worse." She rasped out as she attempted to smile, but only wound up groaning and telling the boys not to make her smile. Smiling hurt her face dammit! She was so busy trying to focus on something other than the pain of her injuries that she nearly missed her Guardian stepping forward.
Away from them. And closer to the Espada and certain death.
It took her a moment, but she did eventually catch onto what he was doing and upon realizing what he intended, she flung herself from Izuku's arms and hit the ground running. Somehow managing to put on a inhuman burst of speed so that she could get around him and push him back.
Her hulking blond guardian looked startled so find himself being physically pushed back by her and tried to explain. He needed to make the one who had laid their hands on her pay. "Ichigo, little one, I need-"
"No! You don't!" She shouted at him.
Her throat was raw from having the Espada try to strangle her a little while ago, and her vocal chords frigging burned like like were on fire. So her shout didn't come out as loudly as it was intended. And was quickly followed by a horrible coughing fit that ended with her spitting up blood.
"You need to leave," Her guardian said gently, somehow managing to keep one eye on her and the other on the Espada at the same time. "I can't fight if I'm worried about you. Izuku and Shoto will take you back to the cabin and Gran Torino and Naomasa will call for help."
He tried to nudge her aside so that he could go...do something stupid. Like try to avenge her. But dammit she was a persistent child and refused to budge. If not for her injuries, and the fact that she likely had internal bleeding somewhere, he would have used a little bit of force to move her.
But for the moment simply he couldn't risk it.
It was while he was distracted that the guy that had beaten the holy hell out of her decided to attack them. Toshnori barely had enough time to try and shove her aside before a fist was flying towards the back of her head.
Ichigo must have been able to sense it despite being distracted, because she caught the massive hand and used it to keep her balance so that she could deliver a spinning kick to the guy's chest. Sending him flying back a good distance away where he hit the ground hard enough to skid and kick up dirt.
He seemed dazed. Meaning that this would be the most opportune time to strike. However before he could so much as move a muscle, he heard Ichigo say. "You know what? Fuck this." And then she pointed at the guy.
The tip of her index finger was glowing.
Which was startling to him. Because he didn't know what was going on or what was going to even happen, he totally forgot to move. So when a small blue orb the size of a marble appeared at the tip of her finger- he couldn't look away. Something about it looked...ominous to him.
Of course the second that he heard her utter "Cero." as the little blue orb shot forward and the entire mountain shook as if it were trembling in fear as it made contact with the guy and the sky lit up with white hot fire.