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Fanfic / Hogyoku ex Machina

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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.
— summary

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:

  • 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
    Ishida Uryu: Kurosaki. When did this become some kind of grudge match between you two?!
  • Anti-Villain: Starrk, Lilynette, Nel.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The crystals that project holograms of the user's memories.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: When Neliel, now an adult permanently due to Aizen, hears that Ichigo thought of her as one of his 'younger sisters' in the future, she's... somewhat irked. She very pointedly goes out of her way to remind him that she's definitely not his sister when they meet up.
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  • Badass in Distress: Ichigo ends up in this position, despite also being a transcendent being.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Muramasa saves Ichigo from Aizen's trap.
  • Big "WHAT?!":
  • 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. Meanwhile, 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 joining Ichigo becomes integral to the plot later on. Without his involvement, Aizen's plans would have succeeded.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Snarl: All anime content (filler episodes, arcs, and movies) that had been released up to Ichigo's final battle with Aizen are canon to this story, even the ones which are explicitly said to take place after Aizen's defeat. Additionally, there are occasionally moments where Ichigo shows knowledge of events he wasn't present for, nor would have had the opportunity to learn of secondhand.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Non-romantic example. When Muramasa decides that Ichigo should be his next wielder, Zangetsu doesn't 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 up to that point. He finds Ichigo far too idealistic, but is grooming Ichigo to eventually take over his position.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Ichigo's hollow. See Does This Remind You of Anything? below.
    • Ishida has a moment when Ichigo breaks the first projection crystal and Mayuri exclaims over Ichigo's lack of control despite Ishida's warning.
      Ishida Uryu: Sorry, did you think I was worried about him dropping it?
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Lampshaded when Ishida asks, "Kurosaki, is there anyone you've fought that you haven't become best friends with?"
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Just when the hero is about to defeat the villain, a magic rock saves the villain by sending both of them back in time, allowing the villain to get away and better prepare for next time.
  • 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.
    Kurosaki Ichigo: What?
    Hollow: You didn't want it, did you?
    Kurosaki 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: After untold years of agony, Shakushi, the spirit of Kenpachi's zanpakuto, finally comes to an understanding with Kenpachi. Kenpachi even promises to be more responsible about the matter going forward.
  • 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 is enraged to see Kouga's mistreatment of Muramasa, whether they express 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 empty captain positions to them, and making plans to appoint a less racist Central 46 this time around.
  • The Fettered: The reason Yamamoto obeys the Central 46, even when he personally has doubts, is precisely because he knows that he is powerful enough that no one could stop him if he were to disobey.
  • Fantastic Romance: Ichigo's inner hollow is fixated on Neliel, for some reason.
  • 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 against Aizen in the canon Final Battle, which leads to the Peggy Sue Diabolus ex Machina. From there, Ichigo gradually notices increasingly large changes as a result of him doing things differently the second time around.
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe example when Ishida and Ichigo explain tuberculosis and antibiotics to Unohana. Unohana suddenly has an Oh, Crap! moment when she realises that if Ukitake has TB, she's been unintentionally strengthening the disease with healing kido.
  • Good News, Bad News: Ichigo has good news for Ishida: he got his powers back in the future. However, he also has bad news: Ishida never told him how it happened, so he can't provide Ishida with the information now.
  • 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 former rank, Neliel.
  • Hologram: Using specially formed crystals, Mayuri created a device that allows people to project memories of theirs as holograms. Its main purpose is to not have the audience sit through Ichigo constantly explaining the plot to everyone else.
  • I Have Your Wife: Aizen manages to capture Ichigo's family and forces Ichigo to comply with his plan by holding them hostage.
  • 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:
    Madarame 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?
    Kurosaki Ichigo: You don't think this is a good idea? [ponders] Yeah, you're right. This is really unequal.
    Madarame Ikkaku: [surprised] Huh?
    Kurosaki Ichigo: [smirking] Maybe if I tied one arm behind my back?
    Madarame 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.
  • It's Personal: See Armour-Piercing Question. While explaing to Ishida why Aizen needs to be stopped, not once does Ichigo deny Ishida's claim, suggesting that Ichigo did eventually come to resent Aizen like his allies in the Gotei 13 and the Vizards already had.
  • 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 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.
    Kurotsuchi Mayuri: DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THAT COST?
    Ishida Uryu: I told you so.
  • Insistent Terminology: “It's Hitsugaya-taicho.”
  • 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 the first time around and can't testify to them, and Ichigo's intervention prevents those crimes from ever happening the second time around.
  • 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.
    • This is also how Ichigo manages to get the Gotei 13 to let Muramasa live. The letter of the ruling only calls for the nullification of Koga Kuchiki's zanpakutou. Since he's not Koga's zanpakutou anymore, technically the ruling has been carried out.
  • 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 whereas 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, Neliel.
  • 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 conspire and go to great lengths to prevent Ichigo from getting a haircut until they have enough pictures of his new look to fill their next calendar.
  • MST: While done rather creatively, a large portion of the story is effectively the cast from the Soul Society arc commentating on the events of the later arcs of Bleach.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: When Ichigo discovers that Karin held an interest in Toshiro, he decides that he's going to kill Toshiro, who's at least ten times Karin's 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.
  • Not So Stoic: Zangetsu has trouble suppressing laughter at some of the more ridiculous antics Ichigo gets up to. He's also furious when Muramasa decides to take Ichigo as his wielder.
  • Oblivious to Love: Ichigo. To the point where his hollow has to question whether or not he's gay. He's also oblivious to other forms of admiration. 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 snack on popcorn and soda while watching parts of Ichigo's life via projections of his memories (which they have his permission for) and with hidden security cameras (which they do 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 canon final battle, Aizen and Ichigo kill each other simultaneously. The Hogyoku then sends them back in time to the moment when Aizen first touched the Hogyoku three months before. 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. Also, 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 describes in canon when he first sees 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 go wide open and he says, "Well....shit."
    • When Zangetsu attempts to calm down Ichigo by mentioning that Toushirou probably didn't reciprocate or even notice Karin's affection, Ichigo exclaims that, "He'd better fucking not have!"
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Shakushi is a very dangerous character with glowing red eyes.
  • 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 reveals his subconscious memories of the events surrounding her.
  • Running Gag:
    • The various shinigami and Visored commenting on how weird it is that Ichigo knows the future.
      Abarai Renji: ...That's gonna be creepy for a while, isn't it?
    • People wanting to stab Ichigo with something.
      Kurosaki Ichigo: 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 seeing as 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.
  • Ship Tease: It's Ichigo. There's quite a bit. And he almost never notices any of it, as per canon.
    • Ichigo/Orihime is featured on her part, but it's portrayed as one sided.
    • Ichigo/Senna happens to get shipped a fair bit in-story after everyone sees his forgotten memories of her, though as a tragedy due to how it ended.
    • Ichigo/Neliel sneaks up early when The Hollow brings up her smothering Ichigo a few times. Then an adult-body-restored Neliel hears about Ichigo comparing her to one of his sister's and takes offense and decides to prove a point when they meet up. Ichigo's family invite her to visit in the future.
  • Shout-Out: Ishida is able to rattle 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. Although Ichigo needs to be alive for Aizen to make the King's Key from him.
    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 often run this way.
  • Stunned Silence: When Mayuri suggests making a duplicate of Rukia's brain to prevent most of the events of Bleach: Fade to Black, the room goes so quiet that they can literally hear a pin drop.
    Ishida, watching from the back of the room, experimentally pulled out one of his sewing pins and listened as it dropped to the floor.
  • 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 get knocked out before any damage is inflicted on them or the hostages. It fails to work on Kyoraku and is deemed not even worth attempting on Yamamoto.
  • Taught by Television: See Shout-Out above.
  • Terminator Twosome: The basic premise.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble:
    Ichigo: Hinamori? They were pretty close, right?
    Matsumoto: Were?
    Ichigo: Are. Sorry. She got... will get better.
  • 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 everyone's memories will be erased in the future (i.e., the events of the third film). It also ends up being useful for identification against Aizen's illusions.
    • 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.
    Kurosaki Ichigo: 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, largely averted: most of the 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 does 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." The hollow has to inform her that it actually happened.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: One side of 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 (which comes 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.