Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 22

I screeched to a halt and jumped off my bike. Hurrying to the edge of the port I stared in disbelief at the scene in front of me.

Smoke was pouring endlessly out of the gigantic ship in the sea in front of us. I searched the water but it was empty.

Countless members of Kings came up behind me.

"Get me a boat," I clicked my tongue.

Ten minutes later, we slowly made our way toward the giant, burning ship that towered above us.

Ignoring Urahara's warnings, I quickly climbed up the short ladder set against the side of the ship as soon as he anchored our boat. "If I see anyone of you try to board this ship, I'll kick you overboard straightaway," I looked at the people on the boat. Ten unhappy faces looked back but no one dared argue with me.

Squinting, I could just make out my surroundings through the thick, black smoke. There were tables and chairs everywhere on the deck. A small stage was situated at the centre.

Using my collar to cover my mouth and nose, I climbed off the ladder and slowly tread across the deck.

I strained my ears but heard no voices or footsteps. Instead, only muffled sounds of distant explosions reached my ears.

I frowned. Why wasn't anyone outside? When a fire happened people should've been directed outside by crew members but…

I kept walking while fighting back the urge to cough. I was quickly regretting boarding this ship without a mask but there wasn't enough time to find one. After walking around the deck I finally found a door leading to the cabin.

I flung it open only to see more black smoke rush toward me. Ignoring everything I've ever learnt about staying safe during fires, I crouched low and entered the room while reaching for my gun.

Empty.

I clicked my tongue and continued down the corridor, staying low to avoid breathing in the smoke. Finding a door to my left, I opened the door but was disappointed to find it empty as well.

Really, where was everyone? Or did we board the wrong ship?

Shaking aside my doubts I kept walking.

Stepping into a large room that seemed to have been the ballroom I immediately regretted my actions.

Red.

Everywhere.

I took a step back only to stumble against something. Looking down, I saw a pistol. Following the arm that held the pistol, I met eyes with a corpse who stared back at me with their face twisted in agony. I jumped back in alarm.

Straightening, I surveyed my surroundings. The only weapon that could've done this much damage was probably a machine gun. But why would anyone do that?

I felt an icy gaze from behind and swivelled around, gun pointed ready to fire but found no one.

F*ck, I clicked my tongue. I was going to go crazy if I don't get out of this place.

Glancing around the room one last time, I headed for the exit just as a hand landed heavily on my shoulder.

"Kya-!" My scream was cut off when another hand covered my mouth.

"Your defence has gone rusty."

I let out a slow breath to calm my nerves when I heard my brother's voice. His hands slipped away from my mouth and I turned to face him.

His hair had escaped its usual ponytail but other than that, I couldn't find a single crease on his simple, black suit.

"What happened here?"

"Let's get out of here first. There are still some people alive," he ignored my question and hurried out of the room.

I looked at the ballroom in a new light. So those people were working for the Silver Snake? And my brother went up against him all by himself?

"…Who's this?" I asked my brother. He glanced behind me and then at the small kid running beside us.

"Someone on our side," he explained simply.

"Oh," I looked at the kid. Since when was brother recruiting such young people? "What's your name, little boy?"

"I'm not a little boy," he replied in a surprisingly gruff voice. He glared at me with his turquoise eyes. I pushed back the urge to hit him. Disrespectful kids these days, really!

"Well, what's your name?"

"Hitsugaya Toushirou."

"You can call me Kime," I told him in a somewhat friendly voice.

"Not interested."

Why you… I clenched my fist and shook it at him but he pretended not to see.

The kid and I were suddenly pushed around a corner. A gun appeared in my brother's hand and he shot into the corridor we had been in before. Hearing an agonised shout, I quickly took out my own gun and fired at the oncoming wave of people.

Shoot now, ask later. That was the major rule I learnt when I was in Kings.

After firing a few more rounds, I felt a tap on my shoulder and the three of us hurried away.

Once we reached outside, I eagerly breathed in a lungful of fresh air. My brother slammed the door shut and rested a chair against it.

"Kime-sama! K!" Renji's fire-red hair and Ichigo's orange hair stood out immediately in the smoke. We headed over to the ladder. We heard a chorus of cheers when the Kings members in the boat saw us.

"You go first," my brother nudged the rude kid and he climbed onto the ladder.

I held onto the railing as an explosion from deep inside the ship made the ship rock dangerously in the water. I stared nervously at the cabin as I imagined giant fireballs like the ones I always see in movies head our way.

"K," I tugged my brother's sleeve nervously. "The door is open."

"Get onto the ladder, Rukia."

"Rukia," someone hidden in the dark smoke said.

I froze.

A strong wind blew around us and momentarily dispersed the smoke around us.

"Ukitake…sensei?" I asked.

He had his trademark gentle smile on his face but I could see he was in pain. His arms wrapped around his midriff and his suit was dyed red with blood. "I knew I should've turned down that invitation…"

I hurried over to help him only to have my brother yank me back. I was shoved against the railing just as the sound of a gun being fired rang out.

"K!" Blood drained from my face when my brother took the bullet for me.

"Rukia…" I watched his lips move but my mind blocked out his words.

Not possible…

Silver… Snake…

My brother winced as my principal continued to fire until he ran out of bullets.

"It was nice seeing you again, Rukia-san," Ukitake said in a cheerful voice as he threw his empty gun aside, walked away and disappeared into the smoke.

Snapping out of my stupor, I raised my own gun and fired at his general direction.

I heard a cry of pain and a blunt thump as my principal – no – the Silver Snake fell to the ground.

"K," I called desperately and I shook his shoulder. He didn't move. "Wake up, K!"

"K! Don't sleep!" Forget about manners, I downright screamed into his ear but he still refused to open his eyes. Having heard the commotion, Renji and Ichigo climbed onto the ship but froze when they saw my brother.

"Nii-sama, wake up, please!" F*ck, I repeated and tears sprang to my eyes. "Ichigo, help me get Nii-sama back onto the boat! Nii-sama…"

Don't leave me, too…!
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