Fan Fic: Hogyoku Ex Machina

In the final battle with Aizen a different choice is made, and now Ichigo and his greatest enemy have gone back to the beginning. His best friends are powerless, his allies don't know him, and everything he loves is in danger.

Hogyoku Ex Machina is a completed Bleach fanfiction by Mac Ceallach.

In the final battle, Ichigo and Aizen strike fatal blows against each other at the same time. The Hogyoku reacts by sending them both back three months to the point in time when Aizen first picked up the stone right after he betrayed Soul Society. On one hand, Ichigo has the chance to kill Aizen properly and undo damage and deaths caused the first time around. Unfortunately, the enemy, too, is well-aware of what has (and will) happen, as well as who they should attack if they want to hurt Ichigo in the worst way.

It's different from most other Peggy Sue stories in that both The Hero and the Big Bad get sent back in time, leaving both sides on a level playing field. Ichigo also wastes no time in explaining to everyone that time travel is going on, forgoing any masquerade or working behind the scenes.

Comes highly recommended on the Recommendation page.

The sequel, Further Machinations, came out on June 24, 2013, but the author has made no updates to it since the first chapter.

This fanfic provides examples of:

  • All Zanpakuto Want Ichigo: Ichigo succeeds in convincing Muramasa to stand down. He did not expect Muramasa to choose him as his next wielder.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Neither Zangetsu nor his Inner Hollow were ever separate spirits from Ichigo — they are ultimately a part of him, and only merged together with Ichigo is their master whole. This technicality means that Ichigo was still capable of taking on a Zanpakuto, which is why Muramasa was able to bond with him.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Ishida asks it when Ichigo tells him he is already planning to kill Aizen instead of letting the Shinigami fight the war
    ""Kurosaki. When did this become some kind of grudge match between you two?!"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Consorting with a declared threat to the peace! Offering to free a dangerous criminal! Releasing hundreds of Menos Grande into Soul Society! Merging with a second zanpakuto!"
  • Anti-Villain: Starrk, Lilynette, Nel.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The crystals that create holograms.
  • Badass in Distress: Ichigo ends up in this position, despite also being a God-Mode Sue.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Because Muramasa isn't a zanpakuto formed from Ichigo's soul, Aizen isn't able to drain him into the King's Key's creation right away. Thus, Ichigo is able to call upon Muramasa before Aizen can kill them both.
    • Also, Uryu, Isshin, Renji, Chad, Neliel and others arriving to save Ichigo from the hollowfied Tousen.
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    • When Hollow Ichigo invokes the You Need To Get Laid trope.
    • Toshiro's reaction to Ichigo's Knight Templar Big Brother attitude.
  • Blatant Lies: Zangetsu tells Renji that Ichigo is practicing how to split himself up to make training in other areas easier. This is a brazen lie, as they have entirely different reasons to do this and it will actually make the training harder. Ichigo is rather disturbed that his sword is a much better liar than he is.
  • Brick Joke: Zangetsu and the hollow frequently complain in one of the anime's omake that Ichigo's mindscape rains when he's depressed and that it has no animals, particularly purebreed dogs. The form the spirit of the Hogyoku takes after Ichigo removes it from its body? A Labrador puppy.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Due to events near the beginning of the fic, Orihime loses access to her Shun Shun Rikka abilities, and it's said that it will take at least several months before she returns to her full power. According to the author's notes, this was done partially to serve as a Drama-Preserving Handicap: "I wanted to take away Tite Kubo's little get-out-of-death-free card."
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Ichigo, his hollow and Yamamoto discuss whether or not it's possible to bind two zapakuto to a shinigami at once. All while Tensa Zangetsu and Muramasa try to kill each other about 20 feet away.
  • Celibate Hero/Chaste Hero/Clueless Chick Magnet: Ichigo as usual and lampshaded mercilessly. In fact, his obliviousness to when people are interested in him indirectly leads to Aizen's defeat.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Muramasa. Without him, Aizen's plans would have succeeded. You really don't expect a filler character to carry so much weight.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Ichigo as usual. While thankful for it, it irks Yamamoto and Soi Fon to no end.
  • Cock Fight: Hilarious, non-romantic example between Tensa Zangetsu and Muramasa.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: As usual, Mayuri and the hollow dish it out with aplomb.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Non-romantic example. When Muramasa decides that Ichigo should be his next wielder, Zangetsu does NOT take it well.
  • Cynical Mentor: Yamamoto acts as one to Ichigo by discussing battle strategies and forcing him to use his hollow abilities when he's been too frightened of them so far. He finds Ichigo far too idealistic, but as he put it, "In one thousand years, no shinigami has been born who was able to stand against the full force of my spiritual pressure." Guess who the exception was.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ichigo's hollow. See Does This Remind You of Anything? below.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Lampshaded when Ishida asks, "Kurosaki, is there anyone you've fought that you haven't become best friends with?"
  • Deus ex Machina: See the title.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Right after traveling back, Aizen switches appearances with Ichigo, leading everyone to attack the wrong person.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The hollow has fun with Muramasa's unwanted intrusion into Ichigo's soul.
    Hollow: You'd think Muramasa had raped your soul or something.
    Ichigo: What?
    Hollow: You didn't want it, did you?
    Ichigo: No, but- don't say it like that!
    Hollow: Ah. Sorry. Penetrated, then. Penetrated deeply. Without permission. Into virgin territory. There was thrusting involved. Am I doing any better now?
  • The Dreaded: The Running Gag with everyone being terrified of Unohana continues as even Ichigo's hollow self is frightened of her. There's even a fanart of it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Subverted. Aizen effortlessly slaughters several Shinigami when he and Ichigo return to the past, but they're all revealed to have just received a Tap on the Head from Ichigo once Aizen's illusion drops. The author even defies this trope in the following chapter's notes: "If I kill [Yoruichi], it'll be way more epic than that. She's awesome."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For Shakushi, the spirit of Kenpachi's zanpakuto. Kenpachi even promises to be a bit more responsible with him!
  • Enemy Mine: Yoruichi is surprised upon finding out that the Vizards fought alongside them against Aizen in the original timeline, since they have no reason to like them. Ishida suggests it was because of this trope.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Nearly everyone is sickened with the thought of another Tousen (enough to agree with the less-than-popular Gin), and nearly everyone was enraged by Kouga's mistreatment of Muramasa, whether they showed it or not.
  • Fantastic Racism: After learning that the Vizards that had been cast out a century ago were still alive and not crazy, the Gotei 13 members decide to actively avert this by asking if they want to come back with no strings attached, offering the two empty captain positions to them, and make plans to appoint a less racist Central 46 this time around.
  • Fantastic Romance: The hollow just can't get enough of Neliel.
  • Final Speech: Ultimately subverted since having the main character die in the third chapter would be a problem, but everyone gets the feeling that this is going on when Ichigo asks Chad to take care of his sisters and he has a hard time getting people to take him seriously about an actual threat and that he's not just becoming delusional. Ichigo references this trope at the time as well.
  • Foreshadowing: It's easy to miss, but an author's note helpfully points it out. While The Cavalry is fighting Aizen, Ichigo, gravely injured, sensibly stays out of the way. That sounds like him, doesn't it? It foreshadows that Aizen wasted no time in implementing his Disguised Hostage Gambit.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ichigo does not use the Final Getsuga Tensho release against Aizen in the Final Battle. Another example of this is that Senna from the first film never exists since Ichigo spends all his time in Soul Society and she is never created.
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe example when Ishida and Ichigo explain TB and antibiotics to Unohana. Unohana suddenly has Oh Crap! moment when she realises that if Ukitake had TB, she'd been unintentionally strengthening the disease.
  • Fridge Logic: "I guess antibiotics don't work on dead guys then."
  • Good News, Bad News:
    Ichigo: I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you got your powers back.
    *Ishida looks hopeful*
    Ichigo: The bad news is, you never told me how.
    *Ishida looks pissed*
  • Handsome Lech: Ichigo's hollow highly endorses ladies having physical relations with Ichigo.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Most of the Gotei 13 are thrown by how familiar the random human invader is with them.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Muramasa and because she was restored to her rank, Nel.
  • Hologram: Using specially formed crystals, Mayuri created a device that allows people to project memories of theirs as holograms. It's main purpose is to not have the audience sit through Ichigo constantly explaining the plot to everyone else.
  • I Have Your Family and Best Friend
  • I Like Those Odds: When Ichigo starts up a sparring session with Ikkaku, the latter is somewhat unwilling to fight since the former is wearing a blindfold as practice for fighting Aizen:
    Ikkaku: Hmmm… you got guts, Ichigo. Even if you're blind I'm not gonna go easy on you. You sure you want to do this?
    Ichigo: You don't think this is a good idea? (ponders) Yeah, you're right. This is really unequal.
    Ikkaku: (surprised) Huh?
    Ichigo: (smirking) Maybe if I tied one arm behind my back?
    Ikkaku: Oh, you're going down, punk!
  • In Love with Your Carnage: When everyone sees Ichigo's memories of Tatsuki, which are mostly of her fighting, Kenpachi is impressed and declares that she will be welcome in Squad 11 when she dies and becomes a Shinigami.
  • It Can Think: While it's touched on in canon, in Hogykou ex Machina, the Hogyoku has the mind of a domesticated animal. Its spirit is turned into a dog by the end of the story.
  • I Want My Jet Pack: Orihime excitedly asks if there are robots in the future. Since it's only been three months, no, there are no robots.
  • I Warned You: When Ishida's warns Mayuri (not very hard, mind you) that it wouldn't be a good idea to have Ichigo attempt to place his reiatsu into a rare and valuable crystal because he's clumsy, Mayuri blows him off. Then Ichigo (having a massive amount of reiatsu and no control over it, hence “clumsy”) makes the crystal explode.
    Ishida: I told you so.
  • Insistent Terminology: “It's Hitsugaya-taicho.”
  • Irony: When Ichigo hears that Hitsugaya hung out with his sister, he says, “He dies.” When it's pointed out that Hitsugaya probably didn't reciprocate any possible feelings of affection, he replies, “He'd fucking better not have! He's at least ten times her age!”
    Hitsugaya: He wants to kill me because I'm too old? (There was just something cosmically unfair about that.)
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Orihime points out that Ichigo's adventures would make a great manga. They could even have it printed in Shonen Jump.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Tensa Zangetsu thinks that Ichigo should keep his different selves separate so as to continue getting stronger despite having trouble controlling what he's got and already being able to cut down mountains. The hollow self claims that at some point trying to gain even more power just gets silly. Ichigo finds himself agreeing with the jerkass Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Karma Houdini: Gin. Justified by the fact that Ichigo simply wasn't around when he committed his worst crimes and couldn't mention them.
    • Though to be fair, Ichigo's intervention also prevents those crimes from ever happening.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Upon learning that Karin had a crush on Toshiro, Ichigo's first thought is to kill him. After Zangetsu talks him down from that, Ichigo asks him if he can at least maim him. When denied that, he reaffirms that he will kick his ass.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "We could serialize them, maybe! Shonen Jump would take the manga!"
  • Literal Split Personality: Of a sort when Ichigo figures out how to manifest Zangetsu and his hollow self in the real world. The latter and Zaraki end up getting along swimmingly.
  • Loophole Abuse: In this fanfic, ain't no rules say a kido-user can't serve in the Eleventh Division. Yumichika is surprised.
    • Muramasa claims this when he bonds with Ichigo as a zanpakuto. He and Tensa Zangetsu disagree but Muramasa simply refuses to go away.
  • Mama Bear: Neliel to Yuzu and Karin. Unfortunately, before she can act on it, she learns just how outclassed she is by Ulquiorra and thus has to stand down.
  • Mental Time Travel: Because of how the two of them gained their powers, Ichigo keeps all of his power-ups while Aizen ends up back at square one. This has advantages and disadvantages for both of them.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: The characters mistake Hollow Ichigo's attraction to Nel for this when they first see her in Ichigo's memories. They're very relieved when they learn about Nel's adult form.
  • Moment Killer: A tearful silence follows Ichigo's showing of Muramasa's life, ending with his Alas, Poor Villain death. Then Gin speaks up:
    Gin: Intrigue, action, and a tragic ending. I give it four sta—
    (Matsumoto kicks him in the shin)
  • Mr. Fanservice: The Shinigami Women's Association will NOT let Ichigo get a haircut for this reason, and they take great pains to keep it that way.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: When Ichigo discovers that Karin held an interest in Toshiro, he decides that he's going to kill Toshiro, as he's at least ten times her age. Toshiro, who along with the rest of the Gotei 13 is watching Ichigo via a surveillance device, is less than enthusiastic about the idea.
  • Noble Demon: See Spared by the Adaptation, though Ulquiorra is a big maybe. He decides to escort Neliel and the twins not just because he's curious how he died in the original timeline but also to keep Nnoitra from hassling any of them.
  • Oblivious to Love: And Admiration, Ichigo again. This is why Muramasa manages to blindside him.
  • Oh Crap!: When everyone is watching Ichigo talk Muramasa down from his ideas about his future rebellion, they figure he has a plan. When Ichigo gets stabbed by Muramasa, they realize that actually no, there isn't one.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Unohana calls Ichigo this after the first fight with Aizen.
  • Original Flavor: Pretty much everyone behaves the way one would expect.
  • Papa Wolf: Zangetsu is very protective of Ichigo and his position as Ichigo's zanpakuto.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Several characters watching parts of Ichigo's life via projections of his memories (which they had permission for) and with hidden security cameras (...which they did not). At one gathering, they comment on how entertaining his life is, some bring popcorn and Coke (Rukia told them it was a tradition), and everyone, even Ishida and Yamamoto, ends up treating it like a movie night.
  • Peggy Sue: In the final battle, Aizen and Ichigo kill each other simultaneously. The Hogyoku then makes them snap back to the point in time when Aizen first touched the Hogyoku three months ago. They both quickly take advantage of the new circumstances.
  • Physical God: The full implications of Ichigo's ascension after fusing with Zangetsu are explored. Bleeding out, half-dead, he cuts through Yamamoto's Bankai like so much tissue paper.
    • And you know how powerful soul reapers have a heavy spiritual pressure? Ichigo's is like the sky: It's there, it's beyond immense, but you can't actually feel it, just like Aizen described when he first saw this form. This actually works against Ichigo when he needs to be healed; since the healer can't sense his reiatsu, they can't do anything.
  • Poisonous Person: The author added this effect to Ichigo's Physical God form to give him a weakness; basically anyone who touches Ichigo's bare skin while he's in this form (even Yamamoto) gets severely burned, which makes sense given what we know about spiritual pressure if the individual in question were indescribably powerful.
  • Power Trio: Zangetsu is The Spock, Ichigo is The Kirk and the hollow and Tensa Zangetsu are The McCoy.
  • Precision F-Strike: After being told his plan will ultimately not work, Gin's eyes are wide open and he says, "Well....shit."
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Shakushi. Also a Scary Black Man, literally.
  • Ret Gone: Senna, to a greater extent than in her movie. Since Ichigo spent all of his time after Rukia's rescue in Soul Society, she never forms in the first place. He doesn't even remember her until the Applied Phlebotinum shows it.
  • Running Gag: The various shinigami and visored commenting on how weird it is that Ichigo knows the future.
    Renji:"… that's gonna be creepy for a while, isn't it?"
    • People wanting to stab Ichigo with something.
    "People keep stabbing me. It's not as easy to survive as I make it look."
  • Selective Obliviousness: One could make a case for Ichigo since his hollow, who's a part of him, never fails to point out his Chick Magnet status.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Several characters are saved from dying the second time around and most if not all of the conflicts outside of Aizen's rebellion are worked around with diplomacy or other similar planning.
  • Shout-Out: Ishida is able to rile off several treatments for tuberculosis because of an episode of House he saw.
  • Shown Their Work: In a way. The author planned on having Ishida and Ichigo explain what was going on with Ukitake's illness, but first asked her high school readers if they knew several random facts presented about tuberculosis (without running to Wikipedia) to be sure the characters would reasonably know.
  • Spanner in the Works: When Aizen decides to make the King's Key out of Ichigo instead of Karakura Town, he doesn't realize Ichigo now has another zanpakuto. Muramasa to the rescue!!
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Gin, Muramasa, Ulquiorra, Starrk, Lilynette.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Nnoitra gets annoyed by Aizen's complex plans and Evil Gloating and wishes he would just kill the good guys and get it over with.
    Nnoitra: "We should've just killed the human as soon as Aizen-sama knew he was alive. This setup is bullshit."
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Ichigo and his interactions with the hollow are HILARIOUS and must be read to be believed.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: The Captains use security cameras to keep an eye on Ichigo (and to keep updated with the plot). Unohana is particularly disturbed when she finds out Mayuri had them installed long before Ichigo even showed up.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When presented with the Applied Phlebotinum.
    Ishida: Would it modify Ichigo's memories in any way?
    Mayuri: It is perfectly safe! Only the first test subjects went insane!
    Ichigo: Um…
  • Tap on the Head: During the Disguised Hostage Gambit, most of The Cavalry gets knocked out before any damage is inflicted on themselves or the hostage. It failed to work on Kyoraku and was deemed as not even worth attempting on Yamamoto.
  • Taught by Television: See Shout-Out above.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble:
    Ichigo: Hinamori? They were pretty close, right?
    Matsumoto: Were?
    Ichigo: Are. Sorry. She got… will get better.
  • Too Dumb to Live/Asshole Victim: Oh, Yammy.
  • Troll: Since Ichigo's Hollow can't fight Ichigo anymore, this becomes his main form of entertainment.
  • Trust Password: Yamamoto gives Ichigo one of these for when Rukia will be Ret Gone d in the future (i.e. the third film). It also ends up being useful for identification against Aizen's illusions, though Ichigo almost gets killed then anyway since the password is a name and he has trouble remembering it.
    • Ichigo convinces Gin that he's from the future by explaining the true power of Gin's bankai, which Gin never revealed to anyone.
  • The Unreveal: When Shinji decides to finally use his Bankai, Aizen knocks him out cold before he can even say, "Bankai".
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Ukitake breaks it down.
    Ichigo's bankai was not the most powerful. It was not even the fastest. What it was, however, was the easiest to use. Ichigo had attained it and fought a captain with decades of experience an hour later, and had been able to do so because it needed no special abilities or skills beyond the fighting techniques he was already familiar with.... who was permanently in Shikai release, who compensated for the lack of decades of practice by using his Bankai as though it were his Shikai, who used his mask as though it were his Bankai, and who had still further means to increase his fighting ability.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Ichigo lampshades this by pointing out that Aizen has learned to use it to his advantage.
    "This isn't right. This is what he wants. Us distracted. Always reacting to what he does."
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Oddly for the genre, most of things that are set right are done by talking to people. Telling people that their rebellion will fail and/or offering an olive branch has surprisingly good results. Notably, this did not work on Tousen.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Subverted; Unohana thinks this is happening when Ichigo wakes up after a two day coma and, when asked about his previous fight, answers with "Aizen… turned into a butterfly." Zangetsu has to inform her that it actually happened.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: The power of Shakushi, Kenpachi's sword. The effect can be deactivated.
  • You Are Not Alone: In the end, the greatest difference between Aizen and Ichigo is that Ichigo chose not to be alone. That is what ultimately leads to Aizen's death.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Kenpachi laughs and says this when Ichigo's memory of Aizen turning into a butterfly is shown.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Ichigo gets told this word-for-word by his hollow self since he's severely weakening himself in order to not be a Poisonous Person (it came with his Physical God status) and he's a Chick Magnet anyway, so why waste it? Ichigo's so embarrassed and adverse to the idea that the hollow turns to Zangetsu and asks, "He's not gay, right? I'd know if he was gay."
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: Ichigo trains blindfolded, both to improve his ability to sense reiatsu and so he can fight Aizen without falling prey to his illusions.