[BSD-Plot] The Seireitei Communication




In Memoriam
“Remembering those who were lost”
Article by Otsukai Mayakasu

Three hundred years ago tragedy struck the Seireitei, in what has become known as the Shattered Dimensions Event. For three centuries now, we have experienced nothing but peace, not a single conflict has befallen the Seireitei, and the influx of souls into Soul Society has never been more balanced. In all this time, new souls have been born, and younger Shinigami have been brought up into the Gotei Thirteen without any recollection or knowledge of the event that still haunts many of us today. On this day, the anniversary of the deaths of so many brave Shinigami, the Seireitei Communication would like to honor those who were lost, and hopes to remind those that have forgotten of what transpired so long ago.
It started with a crack. A fissure in the atmosphere over the Fourth Division barracks. No seals or barriers had been passed through, and no alerts had gone out. Perhaps this is what sealed the fate of its first victim, Fourth Division Captain Camilla Kuchiki. Who was conducting another of her routine medical tests when the fissure shattered open completely and pulled the Captain inside. Her Lieutenant, Hikoto Shihoin, attempted to pursue her but the fissure closed, seemingly repairing itself, before it disappeared completely.
What had started as a bad omen had turned into a full fledged crisis. Captain Commander Kashuke declared a state of emergency and appointed the Twelfth Division Captain Shousan Oramano in charge of locating Captain Kuchiki. With their attention now on these fissures the Twelfth Division come up with some interesting information. It wasn’t simply the Seireitei that had experienced a shattered abduction. Hollows, Humans, and Quincy were all disappearing at an alarming rate from their own respective dimensions. Further, there were strange readings of an influx of traffic through the Dangai, with a Kōtotsu even appearing in the human world! Hollows, Humans, Quincy, and even Shinigami were reported to suddenly appear within the Rukongai district, seemingly displaced from their respective dimensions, and even from time itself.
It was clear that the fissures within Soul Society were not an isolated incident, but an existence wide event. Still, rescuing Captain Kuchiki remained top priority. In doing so perhaps we shinigami hoped to obtain some knowledge on what was occurring. Perhaps we thought Captain Kuchiki could give an account of what happened, and provide any sort of insight. We certainly could not have anticipated what would happen.
Through a new device developed by Captain Oramano, the 12th division was able to triangulate when and where the fissure had taken Captain Kuchiki. I wasn’t even a seated member yet when all this occurred, but I remember the look on my Captains face when the result came in. Captain Kuchiki had been sent to Hell.
There was no time to waste. The atmosphere of Hell is toxic, even powerful Captain-class Shinigami will eventually fall subject to it, and develop binding hell-chains of their own. Once the Chains of Hell have been placed upon a Shinigami, they can never be broken, and the Shinigami’s soul will remain bound there for eternity. This was an emergency that needed to be acted upon quickly.
Captain Commander Kashuke gathered the Captains of the Gotei Thirteen, along with some specially selected Shinigami. Their mission was to break into hell through one of the Hell Gates, and retrieve Captain Kuchiki at all costs. This in itself proved a difficult task, requiring the combined force of all the captains to shatter the chains of the gate, allowing them to enter. Once the final Captain set foot through the gate, it suddenly repaired itself, sealing behind them, and trapping them in hell for eternity.
We don’t know what happened after the Captains entered Hell, other than after three days, the fissures stopped, and the dimensions seemed to stabilize. Was the entire event a trap? We may never know. What we do know is the only Captain to remain behind fled immediately after the others were sealed away. Captain Shousan Oramano. Who remains missing to this day.
The Seireitei changed after that. Seeking to fill the void of power that came with losing not only our Captains, but the Captain Commander as well, the Central Forty Six took drastic measures. They freed the first prisoner to ever be sealed within the Central Underground Prison, and the very reason the Muken was created, Shobatsu Murasaki. After the combined forces of the Seiretti couldn’t budge him from the Head Captain’s seat, he declared himself Captain Commander, and has remained in the position ever since.
Commander Shobatsu inherited quite the mess. Seireitei’s lack of power had thrown the balance of souls into turmoil. Noticing this, Commander Shobatsu’s first act as Head Captain was to single-handedly halve the population of Hueco Mundo. Now, for the past three hundred years, all races have been regaining their strength, the Quincy still from their Thousand Year Blood War, the Hollows from the Shinigami Genocide, and us, the Shinigami, from the Shattered Dimensions Event.
Still, despite our tragic and bloody past, we seem to have returned to an era of peace. New shinigami have risen to the challenge, with powerful members of the Gotei Thirteen coming out of the woodwork and becoming Captains. Those raised in this era of peace would be hard pressed to remember a time without it. Let us hope that these spring-time shinigami never forget the sacrifice that has brought us here. Let us all remember those who were lost.
Asura, of the Fifth Division.
Dai Orasuke, of the Thirteenth Division
Lieutenant Hikoto Shihoin, of the Fourth Division
Captain Hikifune, of the Sixth Division
Captain Jury, of the Third Division
Captain Commander Kashuke Shunkan, of the First Division
Captain Nanami Masahiro, of the Thirteenth Division
Lieutenant Noumi, of the Twelfth Division
Shikei Tesak, of the Third Division
Yugen Kagami, of the Eleventh Division


Interviews with the Gotei 13!

Recently I got to sit down, and in one case, stand, with some of the Division Heads of the Gotei Thirteen, including Captain Higen Kagayaki, Captain Kyomu Mukuro, and Head Lieutenant Honoka Oki! In this memorial Issue, we discuss the pressures of being a Captain in the aftermath of the Shattered Dimensions, what it was like to live through that tragic time, what hopes there are for the future of the Seireitei, and what messages should be shared with interested Shinigami!
My first interview is with Captain Higen Kagayaki. A robust man, I immediately get a sense of the power radiating off him as I enter the room. He sits casually, not a concern in the world on his mind. As I take a seat, I can feel his glance size me up, and can tell he doesn’t think much of me.
"Thank you for having me Captain Higen."
No, that’s not quite right, rather, I can tell that I don’t bear any significance to him. I’m surprised he even accepted to meet with me.
"Lieutenant Kasumi insisted, so direct your thanks to her." He responds rather adamantly.
I fumble awkwardly to get out my pen and paper. Something about the Captain’s presence makes me want to retreat into myself. I know he could crush me with a glance. Nervous, I look to meet his stare, only to find him waiting patiently for my response. I chuckle to try and relieve the tension, as I take out my camera.
"I will, thank you.”

Q: “Captain Higen, you were around during the Shattered Dimensions Event, is that true?"
The small bit of lightheartedness in the Captain, if there were any really to begin with, immediately fades. A disgruntled and focused look grows upon his face.
A: "Unfortunately so."
Q: "What was it like, living through such a tragedy, and being around to see the aftermath?"
His orbs of sapphire dart towards the ceiling, clearly trying to conjure up memories buried beneath fields of clutter.
A: "It was.. odd. No one knows what it's like- Well, no one who wasn't there to experience it, that is. They don't know what it's like to have a world of stability.. to have a routine, and to have it quite literally shattered into pieces. I had no personal relationships with any of the Captains at the time, only respect. I was just recently appointed the Fifth Seat of Division One at the time. Sou-Taichou Shunkan was like a ghost, and I had only received this promotion through recommendation from some of my other superiors. Watching all the Captains meet their end wasn't difficult for me personally, as horrible as that may sound. It was the aftermath.. yeah. The chaos.. the rioting, the lack of order. I see those fires, still. When Sou-Taichou Shobatsu was initially released Ninety percent of us were against it. I challenged him- no, we all challenged him. It was a mistake. He has power beyond comprehension. It goes unchecked, it goes unchallenged, as it should remain. We owe him for the order that was returned to us, despite the sacrifices made to bring it about."
Q:“You served as Lieutenant to Commander Shobatsu, is that correct?”
A:"I did, for over a century. A cumbersome job. Wait, will he read this? You can take that last part out."
Q: "Did you have any reservations, given the Commander's history? Where you present when he passed judgement onto Hueco Mundo?"
A:"It's interesting that you bring that up. That very moment.. when that judgement was passed. That was when whatever reservations I had went away. If you'd seen what I saw, yours would have to. His history wasn't the source of those reservations though. I have a thick enough past to know not to judge someone by theirs. It was the manner in which things came about. It felt like a hostile takeover, initially. In many ways, a lot of people still see it as such, however no one would dare speak on it. The old man admires power. Not power as in, power that needs to always to be used or taken advantage of, but power as in literal strength. This military requires this strength, and he knew that. He saw that strength in me, that's how I got the job.. it's also how I got my current one. I knew it best to not read into it more than that."
Q:"That's right. You were promoted to Captain of the Tenth Division rather unexpectedly. Is it true you were hesitant to accept the title?"
A:"I never wanted to be a Captain. Wasn't in the plans. I liked serving the old man, as difficult as it may have been. I thought I found my niche; he clearly felt otherwise. I'm not even sure I'd call myself a good Captain, you'd have to ask the unfortunate souls walking around here. Being a Captain is boring.. A hundred and Fifty years ago I was a man of excitement.. of Vigor! Now look at me. I sit in this very chair probably more than you lay in your bed."
Q:"Ah. What hopes do you have for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message for those Shinigami looking to join tenth division?"
A:"Hopes.. I hope everything stays exactly the way it is for at least a little more. I've been sitting on my ass so long, and although I complain about that.. I know I'm gonna wish for a back when everything goes to shit again.. It's only a matter of time. If anyone wants to join the Tenth Division out there. Be prepared to consistently feel inferior every time I walk by! You have no choice! If you're not a hard worker turn the other cheek. Only the strong are allowed here."
With our interview at its end, I pack up my equipment. Making sure to look the Captain Higen in the eyes as I thank him for his time.
Unblinking, he responds "If you find a way to give it back, let me know." he pauses for a moment, as if awaiting a laugh from me, and immediately clears his throat upon not receiving one "Ahem. Anytime."
He stands up, and shakes my hand. I of course reciprocate the gesture, and feel the Captain slip me a piece of paper. As he leaves the room, I unfold it, only to see large hand written letters reading “Print Me”. I flip it over and give the thing a read, cursing the conversation I’m going to have to have with my editor.
I was able to catch Captain Kyomu Mukuro in passing. Well, I wouldn’t say catch is the right word, more so, the Captain let himself be revealed to me. I quickly asked for an interview before the wisp of a man disappeared once more into the wind. His response? “Ask your questions, and be done with it.”
We step inside the adjacent building, I’m not sure if it belongs to the Second Division, or the Captain’s noble family. I’m not sure it belongs to the Captain at all, but the confidence with which he enters puts my mind at ease. I look around for a chair, or anything, to offer the Captain, but there are none. He looks at me, unblinking, as my head darts around the room. I guess we’re meant to stand.
"Thank you for having me, Captain Kyomu."
I realize my mistake right away, as the usually expressionless Captain closes his eyes and crosses his arms at my thanks.
“Tch, it’s Captain Mukuro to you. Don't call me by my name so lightly."
I try and keep as calm a demeanor as I can, careful to pull out my pen and paper with the least noise possible and the utmost precision. He notices my camera, but doesn’t say anything. The fact he’s still holding his position tells me something. I’m a journalist after all, even with the Captain of the 2nd division, I can still read between the lines.
"Of course Sir, my apologies.”
As I’m quick to apologize, I also snap a photo for the magazine. Holding my breath, I await the Captain’s response. It seems I read right, since as soon as I put the camera away he breaks his pose.

Q: “Captain Mukuro, you are one of the youngest Shinigami to rise to Captainhood following the Shattered Dimensions event. What was it like becoming a Captain during such a time?"
A: "It was a mess. I'm not sure what my predecessor had been doing, but the Stealth Squad was a total mess. It really was a pain, whipping them into shape. It was like teaching someone to walk, who was convinced they've been running..while really doing nothing but crawling along the ground all this time."
Q: "Did you experience any pressure, having to fill the shoes of the previous Captain?"
A: "Pressure? Only someone lacking ability would be daunted by such a thing.”
Q: "Then how would you say your Division has changed since the Shattered Dimensions event and your achieving Captaincy? How would you say Seireitei has changed?"
A:"My Squad has obviously become the best Division within the Seireitei, of that there can be no doubt. As for the Seireitei, I suppose those who are playing dress up will learn what it truly means to be a Shinigami when this ephemeral peace comes to its end."
Q:"You're saying you don't believe this peace will last?"
Captain Mukuro sighs, reclining into his seat, eyes closed for but several moments. Then, his eyes opened halfway to peer towards me, incredulity reflected within his gaze.
A: "Peace is never eternal. So long as Hollows exist, so long as they feast upon Humans..so long as Quincy destroy them and harbor a grudge towards us, and so long as opinions differ, peace will never last. It has always been a temporary reprieve, it has always been the enemy of memory..."
His eyes close once more as he shrugs.
"Anyone counting or hoping for it to last, is but a fool hoping for the impossible."
Q: "I see. What are your hopes for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message to those Shinigami seeking to join Second division?"
A:"I hope...at the very least, those bearing the title Captain will prepare their respective squads for what's to come. For those seeking to join Second Division, be prepared to work hard, train hard and cast aside those shackles called morality and honor. You will have no need for them here."
There is a silence between us. Suddenly the emptiness of the room has a weight, and it feels as though it’s closing in on me. The Captain stares at me, like a viper waiting for its prey to make its next move. No more questions come to mind.
"Thank you for your time, Captain Mukuro."
"Hnn" The Captain responds, well not so much responding to me as much as dismissing me. He turns, only to fade from the room altogether, a wisp in the wind, leaving me alone with myself, alone with my thoughts.
Even before it starts, my next interview has me more nervous than either of the others. I submitted a request to interview Captain Commander Shobatsu Murasaki to the First Division. Of course I knew the request would be intercepted, and would never garner the Commander’s attention. Still, after a series of bureaucratic back and forth, I was slowly able to work my way up the ladder, and land an interview with Lieutenant Honoka Oki herself!
When I arrived at the First Division barracks, Lieutenant Honoka had already prepared tea in her private office. The First Division Barracks are so large, their expansive buildings always seem so vacant, leaving you isolated with your self-doubt. Not the Lieutenant's office. Its welcoming atmosphere fits her own welcoming expression.
"You're a hard person to reach, Lieutenant Honoka. Thank you for seeing me."
I expect a serious answer, the First Division always seem so serious from the outside. Instead, she chuckles as she pours two cups of tea.
"I can only imagine! Thank you for considering me for your interview. Let's get started then?"
She hands me one, and I’m taken aback by the feeling of unfiltered kindness that washes over me. It’s almost too much, I could get lost in her company, but I know that closed lipped smile only hides fangs. This is a woman whose power is said to rival that of a Captain after all.
"Yes of course.”
I try not to stutter as I speak, reaching for my camera. I find myself staring for a little too long before I finally snap out of her gaze and take a photo.

Q: “We were unable to reach Commander Shobatsu for an interview. Why do you believe that is?"
Her friendly demeanor doesn’t change, or evaporate. It pauses. Her expression freezes, her smile more ominous than before. For a moment I think time has stopped, but the trail of steam coming from our cups tells me otherwise.
"...Lieutenant Honoka?"
A: "Right, forgive my absentmindedness. I'm sure you can relate, with a million things to do."
She lets out another chuckle, a genuine laugh that makes me feel like I’m floating. Before taking a long sip of her tea.
"I wish I knew, really. He seldom takes time out of his day for anything fun. I hope to change that!"
Q: "I see, thank you. Lieutenant, you were alive during the Shattered Dimensions Event, is that correct? What was it like living through such a time?
A: "It was truly unsettling, to be frank. In all my years, I hadn't come across such a situation where so many seats went missing. The entire chain of command was a complete mess."
She sighs, setting down her cup. She stares at the tea leaves bobbing in the amber liquid, and never picks it up again.
"But now that Captain Commander took the reigns, we've come back stronger."
Q: "You have been Head Lieutenant for over a century . What are some of the pressures of running the First Division? Do you ever have any reservations serving the Commander, given his history?"
A: "Wow, time flies, doesn't it? All jobs come with their pressures, it's no different than running any other division. Not at all; everyone has a smudge of their own."
Q: "How would you say your division has changed since the Shattered Dimensions event, and your being promoted to Lieutenant? How would you say the Seireitei has changed?"
A: "I can't say for sure, this is all I've known since I was transferred to First Division. As for the Seireitei, I'm sure you don't need me to reiterate all we've shown. Everyone works together now, it's a true breath of fresh air."
Q: "Thank you. Ma'am, before we go, what hopes do you have for the future of the Soul Society? Do you have a message for any hopeful Shinigami looking to join the First Division?"
A: "I certainly hope our peaceful times don't end, and should something threaten it, then I hope I'm right in thinking we're strong enough to stop it! Don't waver and surpass your limits! Hard work and dedication truly make a difference! Even if you don't see the change immediately, you're stronger than when you started your journey, so continue forward. Captain Commander and I will be waiting to see your strength besides ours!"
There's a smile on my face and I don’t remember when it got there. After just one conversation with the Lieutenant, I feel like we have been life long friends. I can see myself following her into battle, and am glad the Lieutenants of the Gotei Thirteen get to have her in charge.
"Inspiring words. It's been a pleasure ma'am, thank you again for your time."
As though on que, the door to her office slams open, and four Shinigami of the First Division rush in. The say no words, but their message is clear. Time to go. Lieutenant Honoka’s expression never changes, her alluring smile as welcoming and wholesome as ever. She doesn't move when she dismisses me, giving some final words.
"'Thank you, it was quite fun."
I find myself unable to look away from her while I’m escorted out of the building.


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Kōtotsu Attacks!
“An unstoppable force stopped!”
Article by Otsukai Mayakasu

It has been three months since that fateful day when destruction knocked on the Seireitei’s door. Most of us remember exactly where we were when it happened, and yet, conflicting accounts and overall chaos has left most of us with one burning question: What exactly happened? Through hundreds of first hand accounts, eye witness reports, and written testimonials, the Seireitei Communication Column has dedicated this issue towards painting an image of the day. A day we all wish we could but never will soon forget.
It starts with a wave of the Commander’s Sword (See “A Seireitei Divided” Pg. 4). A piercing purple pressure whose very presence penetrated through the heart of the Seireitei, destroying the upper third of the great walls which protect us, and soaring ceaselessly into the skies of the Rukongai. It is unknown if this strike caused what would happen next, and certainly the Ninth Division does not wish to point fingers at the Captain Commander, but two facts remain. First, the Commander’s strike struck the skies of the Seiretei. Second, destruction reigned down from those very same skies.
An explosion erupted above the Rukongai. The first sign of the devastation that was to come. We would soon learn that this explosion had come from none other than the Precipice World, the Dangai, the Parsing World that lost and desperate souls can use to travel between the dimensions at great risk. Curious as to what kind of soul could cause an explosion strong enough to rupture the boundaries of the Dangai walls, the SCC sought out some answers. After investigating, we located a family of Rukongai souls turned refugees when the initial blast destroyed their home. This family had witnessed something at that moment most had forgotten. The first thing to fall from the Dangai following the explosion were the corpses of ten human souls and one Shinigami. Further digging allowed me to uncover the mission report, and Zanpakuto ability, of one Kiniro Yorugao from Eighth Division.
Scans from the Twelfth Division only confirm that this Kiniro had used his explosive Zanpakuto to return to Soul Society in a haste after being chased by a Kōtotsu. However, reports from the Fifth Division state that the Kōtotsu were all re-routed during Kiniro’s Mission, and shouldn’t have come into contact with his party, so where did it come from?
While we may never know that answer, we certainly know where the creature was going. Falling from the sky, the Kōtotsu tore its way through the Rukongai, its path taking it directly towards the Seireitei itself. Luckily for every soul that calls itself a Shinigami, Captain Maho Kojima of our very own Ninth Division was there to protect us. Answering the Kōtotsu’s challenge, Captain Kojima called his fellow comrades to come and cleanse the Rukongai of this threat, issuing the following message:​
Quote:"My fellow Shinigami. A big ass Kokotsu dun' just crashed our little party here in the Rukongai District. Now if you want to leave the Dead Captain and no-brow to their make-out session that would be nice...I could use the help.."
Help they did. The Shinigami arrived it drones to assist Captain Kojima. Lieutenant Nibui Ueki, along with Jinnosuke Ueku of the Eleventh Division helped to drive the Kōtotsu beneath ground. However, this solution proved to only further the problem. As the Kōtotsu’s time-altering and Reishi-absorbing properties allowed it to carve through the soil of the Soul Society unhindered. The ground, for hundreds of feet above the creature, caved in, causing massive tremors throughout the Seventeenth through Twenty Third Districts. No structure was left standing from the massive quakes, leaving the poor citizens of the Rukongai nowhere to hide from the chaos. If it weren't for the heroic actions of Shinigami such as Lieutenant Yasu Yugure of Second, Rin Takenashi of Eleventh, Arashi Suta and Katsuo Oda of Thirteenth, and Shirogane Kuchiki of Sixth, who knows how many hundreds more of civilians would have lost their lives.
Realizing his mistake, Captain Kojima atoned for his error by sacrificing his body. Activating his own Flaming Flash War Cry, or Shunko, the Captain was able to get ahead of the ever growing threat, and launch the best from hundreds of feet below ground, to hundreds of miles into the air. With his burning will finally snuffed out, the duty of Protecting the Seireitei fell onto the shoulders of Fifth Division's own Tenzen Oda. Using a powerful wind Kido, Oda was able to suspend the Beast in the air long enough for Lieutenant Ueki to barrage it with the power of his Bankai while Twelth Division’s Yamato Jikizu attempted to poison it. Ultimately, these attacks fell victim to the Kōtotsu’s space and time altering properties. The result of the assault only managed to leave the Kōtotsu encased in stone, just as Oda’s Kido further propelled it into the sky, safely out of reach.
The Shinigami who acted quickly to save as many souls as possible, had gambled with their haste, and now everyone’s lives were at stake. At first, the day seemed to be saved, all the chaos had died down, the hectic events had seemed to settle, stability was ensured by those who had been working the perimeter, the Kōtotsu had been launched out of sight, and out of mind. Out of the minds of all but two it would seem. In comes Captain Mukuro of Second Division, fresh from his altercation with the Captain Commander. Wasting no time for politics or saving face, he decides to instead save lives, starting with his own Lieutenant. Corroborated across the board by witnesses interviewed after the event, Captain Mukuro appeared before each and every soul present that day, and issued them a warning to flee. Why? Because the Kōtotsu, encased in stone, so high into our skies, had begun its decent. The actions taken to stop the Kōtotsu threat, had inadvertently turned it into an apocalyptic meteor, a literal extinction event.​
Quote:“Everyone! Get as far away from here as possible, not a single soul needs to be here or you all will die! You WILL die! Allow me to receive this burden.. allow me to show the same knowledge of sacrifice as you have all shown me! Leave, Now!”
A final warning to some, a rallying cry to others, Captain Kagayaki’s words echoed beyond the Seireitei’s Southern Wall, across the battlefield, drowning out even the roar of the encroaching meteor. There are those who report that Captain Kagayaki had been present for the entire event, that he had arrived at the scene and choked, while others report that the Captain was buying his time, assessing the threat, waiting until there was no other choice. What isn’t disputed, however, is that Captain Higen Kagyaki, the Shining Knight, saved the day.
The power of his Shikai, resulted in a massive Crystal Castle, a Tower of Triumphant over fear. Most of us remember this sight, the horrifying image of the meteor dwarfed for a moment by the hopeful gleam of the crystalline structure, an optimistic light that shone on us all. For a moment, we were saved, as the tower, and its hundreds of crystal constructs, smashed against the Meteors surface, and seemed to slow it down. We were saved, but only for a moment. Even the great power of the Captain’s Shikai wasn’t enough, as the massive attack was fractured into fragments, a shimmering snow that spread throughout Soul Society. However, the Captain seemed to know his Shikai wasn’t going to cut it. We assume he only wished to put distance enough between us, and his Bankai.
Activating his Bankai, which the Tenth Division has referred to as World Breaker on his behalf, Higen’s Zanpakuto did just that, it broke the very world. Shattering our realities, Kagayaki’s Bankai combined with the Kōtotsu, to spread and shatter not just our world, but space and time. His assault created windows into other worlds, other timelines, glimpses of things that have yet to happen. Worst of it, is that these images appeared to glimpse back at us.

The picture above was taken from my own Zanpakuto, rushing to my Captain’s call, I was unfortunately only able to make it to the southern wall just as the others were issued to retreat. However, in that moment, I was able to capture just one instance of the event. After weeks of filtering and adjusting to get past the blinding light of Captain Kagayaki’s Reiatsu, the result was this terrifying image.
Whatever was on the other side of those portals, reached out to attempt and make contact with Captain Kagayaki. However this was cut short, as the Kōtotsu, in Meteor form, finally crossed the thresholds of the Captain’s Bankai. With the most Immediate threat removed from seeming existence. The Captain deactivated his dimension-shattering power, and fell unconscious from the sky. Only to be saved by yet another heroic act from Captain Kojima, before both were rushed to the Fourth Division by Lieutenant Kazumi and Jinnosuke, respectively.
Much time has gone by since then, and Captain Kagayaki remains in a comatose state, with no signs of waking. Statements from the Fourth Division’s Captain Nakamoto share that while Higen’s body has been mended to the best of their ability, his soul itself has been fractured by his Bankai. A wound to the soul cannot be healed by any other than the Shining Knight himself, and so, while we reflect on the fate he saved all of us from, let us wish captain Higen Kagayaki a speedy recovery. He can rest easy, knowing that the entire of Soul Society, in its infinince, holds him in their eternal gratitude.


Seireitei Divided
“The mysterious coup of Second Division”
Article by Otsukai Mayakasu


”The Dark Flame of justice roars.
This reveals the Phantom Blade, immersed in shadow.
Judgment is cast
And the society of soul...is severed”

_________________________-Maho Kojima

It is easy to forget, in the wake of such mass destruction, those events which occurred before the Kōtotsu’s arrival. Eclipsed by the averted disaster is a treasonous story of mystery and intrigue which we still have no real answers for: the mysterious coup of the Second Division. In this issue of the Seireitei Communication, we delve into the facts of the event. Using numerous resources to dive deep into the investigation, we seek to bring the truth to light. However, once exposed, it is up to our readers to judge and form their own opinions. Not everything is as it seems, and with Shinigami picking sides, civil unrest has led to civil war, leaving us with a Seireitei Divided.
By all accounts, it started with a cup of tea. Two Lieutenants sit in the Lieutenants Hall of the First Division barracks to have lunch. Head Lieutenant Honoka Oki, and Second Division Lieutenant Yasu Yugure. What they discussed over tea is uncertain, perhaps even unimportant. However, interviews with Oki’s personal assistants reveal that the Head Lieutenant had caught a series of moles planted within the ranks of her Division. It can only be assumed that these were planted by the Second Division, if not Yugure herself. Lieutenant Oki apparently executed these spies right in front of Yugure. Before this matter could be settled however chaos broke out.
At this time, Captain Mukuro began his march on the First Division. Reports from the Fifth Division's Kido Corps’ barrier analysis, along with surveillance from the Twelfth Division’s scanners, show that Captain Mukuro had left the Seireitei for a period of time, unregistered. Some civilians within the Rukongai claim to have witnessed him heading in the direction of the Mukuro Clan Compound. His clan, for those too innocent to be familiar, is a clan of assassins for hire, taking any job, and killing anyone, for profit and prestige. It is no coincidence, then, that this is where he would visit before committing himself to treason.
Returning to the Seireitei, Captain Mukuro wasted no time marching on the First Division. His Onmitsukidō established parameters around every Division’s Barrack’s throughout the entirety of the Seireitei. It is clear that this was meant to stop anyone from exiting or entering their Divisions. What isn’t clear however, is if this was to prevent them from coming to the Commander’s aid, or to keep them protected from the ensuing battle. It would make little difference however, on account of the power of Honoka Oki.
Surrounding the First Division, Honoka’s servants report witnessing the Head Lieutenant take out a series of would be assassins, before encasing Lieutenant Yugure within a cocoon of her own making. What happened next, we all witnessed. Activating her Shikai, Lieutenant Oki used the power of her zanpakuto to trap every member of the Onmitsukidō within vines of her own making. In a single swoop, she eliminated the blockades, and allowed the Seireitei’s life blood to flow again, as the other Divisions rushed to the scene.
At this point, Lieutenant Oki attempted to confront Captain Mukuro. There is no way of knowing what ultimately occurred between the two, however it is claimed by Lieutenant Yugure herself, that Honoka allowed Kyomu to pass. An odd choice, to let an assassin march forward to kill the Commander. Especially coming from the Head Lieutenant of all people. Perhaps she was too preoccupied with the barrier that now imprisoned the entire First Division barracks.
A barrier, erected by Kyomu through unknown means. Analysis from the Fifth Division indicates that the barrier was nigh indestructible, capable of reforming, healing, and adapting to any threat. They speculate that the barrier itself was a living soul, somehow connected to the Captain, and theorize that the only way for someone of Captain Mukuro’s skill to erect something so powerful, would be through a living sacrifice. Would Captain Mukuro truly sacrifice his own subordinates to gain even the slightest edge against the Commander? The judgment call is up to the readers to make, but it isn't hard to picture, considering the man’s status as the head of an organization of assassins, as well as Lord of a clan of assassins, trained to kill, and raised in death, does the cost of a soul weigh on him at all?
With the Onmitsukidō now indisposed with Oki’s vines, Captain Kagayaki as able to organize and deploy an impromptu militia. He sent out powerful and quick-acting Shinigami to secure the other barracks. Two such Shinigami, Lieutenant Nibui Ueki and Jinnosuke Uekū of Eleventh Division, were able to arrive on scene, and assist Lieutenant Oki and her hostage, Lieutenant Yugure in escaping the confines of the barrier. Leaving the Captain and Commander to themselves.

No one knows what happened next. However, there is no denying that a battle ensued between Captain Mukuro and Commander Murasaki. Everyone in the Seireitei that day could feel the activatiation of the Commander’s Reiatsu. A crushing pulse of force spread forth from the Central District, clutching all of our hearts in fear. To most of us, that brief glimpse of the Commander’s power, though frightening, was a relief. It meant that he had gotten involved, that surely this conflict would be over soon. However those experienced Shinigami who were alive when the Commander was an enemy of the Gotei Thirteen only felt fear. Any activation of the Commander’s power within the walls of the Seireitei is dangerous, they would claim. Something soon proven true.
Just as the Seiretei was recovering from the initial impact, not even a second later, the skies would turn purple. Commander Murasaki had made his move. A flash of reiatsu, arced as though from a cut of a sword, erupted from the Captain’s Hall. A single flashing light, a single sword stroke, had cut through the hall, through the barrier, and through the outer wall of the Southern District. Like a Phoenix, the purple flame of the Commander’s Reiatsu soared above the Soul Society, cutting through mountain tops, until it disappeared, a small speck in the sky.
The exchange was over. The Coup was ended, but the Gotei Thirteen were not to rest easy as moments later disaster struck, in the form of an explosion from the sky, followed by the Kōtotsu. Yet, the Second Division was seen assisting during the Kōtotsu’s rampage. With Captain Mukuro himself entering the fray to issue a warning in an attempt to save the lives of those present. The Commander had not killed the Captain, as was assumed.
So what did happen? Had the Commander completely spared Captain Mukuro of any punishment? The sun would freeze over before something like that happened. Yet, Captain Mukuro still lives, his rank has not been revoked, his status seemingly unaffected. However, there are rumors, mostly hearsay, but from reliable sources. Some say the Captain is slower. Not just physically, but in all aspects. Taking twice as long to achieve tasks he’d previously had no struggle with. Some say their swordsmanship against him has improved nearly twice as much. Others say he leaves twice as early to arrive at a destination. What could all this mean? Well, the Seireitei Communication has a theory. We believe the Commander used the power of his Zanpakuto, Shihōken, to completely halve all of Captain Mukuro’s skill and ability. If this theory is true, is this enough of a punishment, for the lives lost? That is for the readers to decide. Is there more to the story? Almost certainly.
What prompted the Captain to act? Some theorize it was pressure from his clan, others claim he was motivated by pride and ego, many think he simply coveted the rank of Commander, while some even place blame on the Central Forty Six, rather than Kyomu himself. In writing this article, we attempted to get Mukuro’s own insight, offering him a platform to directly address the entire Soul Society. To our absolute shock, he actually responded. We received an official statement from the Captain, which reads:​
Quote: “To those who would sit and judge me...know I have a greater responsibility than any of you could possibly begin to fathom. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, or seeing the things I’ve seen. My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about amongst yourselves in the comforts of your barracks, you need me to do the things I do. You use words like honor, code, loyalty. I use these words as the backbone of a life spent upholding my duty. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to you ignorant souls who rise and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I help to provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it.”
A powerful statement, the Captain seemingly feels justified in his actions. Perhaps that is how he survived the Commander’s flames. Still, with so many questions yet to be answered, we reached out to the First Division for some guidance, and, hopefully, a statement of their own from the Commander. While we did not receive direct word from Commander Murasaki, we were instead gifted with a lovely bouquet from the Head Lieutenant with her own letter of apology regarding the First Division’s confidentiality regarding Captain Mukuro’s punishment. It seems the Commander is as tight lipped as ever.
However, pursuing all avenues, following every lead. We decided to put the conspiracy theory to the test, and approached the Central Forty Six directly for answers. They responded in a press release with an officially designated and yet anonymous spokesperson reading the following.​
Quote:“Captain Mukuro acted alone in his actions. Corrupted by the outside influence of the Mukuro Clan, which he heads, the Captain was pressured to take action against Captain Commander Murasaki’s life. The Central Forty Six in no way condones these actions, and have left the task of reprimandation to Commander Murasaki. In terms of punishment, the Central Forty Six, as always, supports the Captain Commander’s decision. That will be all.”
So, what is the truth? It seems there are questions that may never be answered regarding this event. While many still hold the Second Division in contempt for the actions of their Captain, there seems to be no official action or opinion regarding the event. To the higher ups of the Seireitei, it's as though it never happened. Looking to the Southern Wall, now in its final days of reconstruction, you’ll be hard pressed to find the scars of the Commander’s cut. Should there be a public outcry, or has the Second Division been forgiven? They were there after all, overcoming adversity to assist the innocent, giving their all to help any way they could against the Kōtotsu. Perhaps it isn’t on the Seireitei to decide whether or not to trust the Second Division. Perhaps it is on the Second Division to prove themselves worthy of our trust. With Captain Kagayaki in his current state, now more than ever, we need to overcome our differences, overlook past actions, and through forgiveness, create a Seireitei United.


Interviews with the Gotei 13!

With so much confusion happening in the Soul Society lately, I was sent out to find the Gotei Thirteen’s best and brightest, and bring back some answers about what happened on that fateful day. With Captain Kagayaki in his current condition, and Captain Mukuro staying cautiously out of the public eye, I had to get creative in who I sought out. In this issue, I sit down with Captain Maho Kojima, Captain Yū Nakamoto, and Lieutenant Yasu Yugure, to recount their experiences during the Kōtotsu Attack and Second Division’s Coup, discuss the aftermath of those events, and share their hopes for Seireitei’s future!
I have the privilege of interviewing my own Captain first. Captain Maho Kojima of the Ninth Division. It’s not often I get to sit down with the Captain one on one, generally our interactions are confined towards the editor notes in the margins of my articles. However, the second I enter the room, I immediately know why they call him The Dragon. It’s not just the burning embers of his half smoked cigar which turns his breath to smoke. It’s the way I feel looking at him sitting there in his chair. I feel like I’m looking at a beast in slumber, a dragon atop his wealth of treasure, just waiting for something to come along and get scorched. His cool demeanor is finely tempered to hide the raging flame of his soul.
"How are you doing today Captain Kojima?"
The Captain’s never been one for formalities, I know if I’m to make a good first impression, I’ve got to come at him casual.
"Today? Eh. I'm Still here...That's somethin i guess."
He slouches a bit in his seat in an attempt to find some level of comfort. His body covered in tightly wrapped bandages.
"Your injuries are doing better?"
"Gettin' there. Apparently I over did it more than I thought.”
I cant help but remember the flames that caused it, those who witnessed Maho’s sacrifice saw a hero. I only saw my Captain in pain. Though he’s not the type of guy to ever admit it, I know he’s hurting. Still, I’m happy to hear him say he’s doing better.
"I'm glad to hear that. Are you alright if we go ahead and get started?"
"Whenever you ready guy."
He reaches down and grabs a small black case from his pocket. For now, he keeps it neatly in place on his lap. No mystery there, the only thing I’m wondering is how long we get into the interview before he opens it up. Recognizing this as his signal to get on with it, I take the picture then watch as he casually tosses the half smoked cigar into the trash.

Q: "Captain Kojima you sustained your current injuries when you faced off against the Kōtotsu, is that correct?"
A: "That is correct."
Q: "Can you describe your experience on that day?"
A: "Hm..."
He pauses for a long time. His hair obscures his eyes as he lowers his head. The case in his lap is popped open and a new, larger, cigar is placed on his lips. I admit that was longer than I gave him credit for.
"Well. All I can really say is that I wasn't thinking. Or over thinking. It's my job to defend the Soul Society. So my body acted. Did what it felt it was supposed to do..."
He lifts his left hand up and heats the tip of the cigar, taking a drag. The same technique which caused those horrible burns on his body, used now without a second thought. Then he exhales releasing a cloud of smoke. Like I said, the Captain is a casual kind of guy.
"I just wanted to save as many as I could."
Q: "Ultimately you would save at least one life. Captain Kagayaki's. Do you feel that the actions you took are somewhat responsible for the Captain's current state? Is there anything you wish to say to him now?"
A:"Maybe...Thats one way to spin a narrative. I did what I could against a threat none of us are designed to handle alone. It just so happens that it took my fellow Captain to seal the deal. There are meant to be thirteen Captains for a reason. We did the impossible with just two."
Q: "You did. Do you feel that Captain Kagayaki and yourself are prepared to handle another threat of this caliber should you face one in the future?"
A:"Well. Put it this way. If somethin' popped up right now. We'd...at the very least...die trying."
What follows is another long draw of smoke. He sits up, adjusting himself then leans back in his chair. His arms crossed over one another allowing him to take the cigar from his mouth with his index and middle fingers. The sweet aroma of burning herbs fills the room in a thick haze the longer we talk. I’m used to it by now, the printing floor has always smelled like smoke, coffee, and fresh paper. It’s the smell of home.
Q: "It is your duty after all to protect the Seireitei from invading threats. However Captain, can you explain why you didn't act against the Second Division's coup?"
His brow raises. I immediately know that I messed up, but sometimes hard questions need hard answers.
A:"Oh. I acted. However, the power of the Head Captain and his Lieutenant goes without saying. In a single swoop old lady Honoka took care of all but one of their forces. Kyomu, for all his accolades never stood a chance. That boy was a fool for even trying. Sure, I'll follow his orders as a Captain, but power like that should rub anybody the wrong way. Its like... why even bother? Ya know? Helping him woulda been like dropping a pitcher of water in the ocean."
He blows another plume, this time in my direction. I take the hint, Captain Kojima has been doing this for how many years now? He knows a charged question when he hears one. Though he wouldn't allow it to fully rub him the wrong way.
"Lemmi ask. If you was in my shoes, what would you have done?”
I waste no time. It comes with the profession, having your questions directed back at you. Still, I know to drop this line of questioning. There’s no sense in losing my job.
"I wouldn't know Sir, I'm not a Captain. I'm only offering a chance to address those out there with the same concerns, I didn't mean to offend."
"Naaah, don't just assume that I'm offended. It also apart of my job to make sure those with concerns see the world from where we stand. On the front lines. There ain't always a right or wrong answer. Especially when issues arise amongst our own. The Soul Society has been grossly understaffed since the Shattered Dimensions event all those centuries ago. Bet we find our next Captain among the many we live and die to protect.
Caught up as I am with the past, I never gave thought to who our next Captain would be, or to the Seireitei’s future in general. It figures that someone tasked with the responsibility of defending the Seireitei would keep his eyes focused on its future.
Q: "How do you feel the Soul Society should prepare to better defend itself going forward?"
By now the Captain has taken the cigar from his lips into his fingertips several times. This time, he steadies it with his teeth, and leans his head back to face the sealing. For thirty seconds he sits there, in thought, smoke trailing upward.
A:"You know...that’s a good question. Its like...you build a wall. Someone will find a way under or over it. You build a moat, they find a way to swim through it. Eventually, something always finds its way in. I can only think of one thing. Build our strength. We all gunna' need to work harder. Surpass our limits and our fears. This isn't just on us current Shinigami, but even those of you who are not. If you feel you have it, If you are brave enough, strong enough, wise enough. Even if you are inspired by the actions of myself or Captain Kagayaki. Apply to the Academy. We could use you. Its gon' take all of us moving forward."
Q: "An answer I think we can all agree with. Finally Captain, what hopes do you have for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message for those Shinigami seeking to join Ninth Division?"
He lowers his head and looks me in the eyes. His hair parts just enough to see the simple jade hues, peeking from behind the darkness. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the Captain’s eyes in person.
A:"For the future huh? Well, not just for my division, but for the Gotei Thirteen as a whole. Know that today is forged from yesterday’s successes and its failures. Tomorrow is forged from what you improve upon today. One cannot put their best foot forward, unless they improve upon what was their best yesterday. One who betters themselves will inspire those around them to do the same."
He puts out his cigar deliberately this time, rather than toss it away. I take the hint, he’s a busy man, despite how he portrays himself. I start packing up my equipment.
"I appreciate you sharing your time Captain. I think that will do.”
I look again at the Captain’s wounds. Something about this interview with him helped me realize, it isn’t the physical pain that’s wounding him. It’s the guilt.
“I want to say before I go, on behalf of everyone that was there that day...thank you.”
"Sure no problem. Glad to offer some truth for the people. Now if you will excuse me. I've got an appointment with a cute nurse coming up. These wounds won't treat themselves."
I’m looking forward to this next one. Recent events, along with Captain Kagayaki’s condition, have left a permanent storm cloud above the hearts and minds of the Seireitei. I’m sure we can all use a little optimism. There’s no one better for that than my next interview, Captain Yū Nakamoto, of Fourth Division.
I’m escorted through the hospital, and despite the warm greetings and friendly smiles from the nurses, one dark fact hangs over the whole encounter. The place is at max capacity, maybe beyond that. Even after all this time, when most of us have focused on moving forward, the Fourth Division continues to deal with the ramifications of the past. How many of these people, despite all their care, will die? How many have already? While we rest, these Shinigami continue to battle for their lives.
Then I’m brought into the room where Captain Nakamato patiently is awaiting me. Upon seeing the Captain, I am immediately filled with a sense of ease, my mind able to relax and focus on the interview ahead. Every Captain I have interviewed, hell, every Shinigami, has given off a sense of grave danger, buried beneath the surface. Not Captain Nakamato. I can tell he is genuine, a truly kind hearted individual. His only desire is to help others, his only fear that he should fail them. I can see right away that this man represents all that is good in the Soul Society.
"Thank you for having me Captain Nakamoto."
He wordlessly nods in response, and rather quickly. For a second I think he’s holding his breath, that he might explode. I can tell that he isn’t trying to be rude, but that despite his stature, his rank, his power, he’s nervous. Nervous of...me?
Gently, without raising anything but my arms, I bring up my camera. I can see the Captain make a very stern and focused face. Though I can't tell if its an attempt to muster up courage, or if his thoughts have shifted from the interview and onto some important case nagging him. Either way, it’s a good shot. I’ll make sure to send him a print of it, maybe it’ll put him at ease for next time.

Q: "Captain, you weren't present for either the Kōtotsu's attack or the Second Division’s Coup, on account of having to stay at your post. However, you did treat the wounded. What can you tell us about the aftermath of that day?"
A:"Oh... well, as you can imagine it was a little hectic and that's putting it lightly.”
He sighs for a moment and tilts his head upward to the ceiling, clearly struggling to have to recall the moments of that day. After a few seconds he looks back down, facing me once more.
"We lost a lot of our fellow Shinigami that day due to the Second Division's actions... not to influence anyone else's own opinion, but I can tell you first-hand whoever was responsible for that act, definitely did more harm than good, especially considering what followed. However, I believe thanks to the bravery and selflessness shown by Captain Kagayaki, we avoided the worst possible outcome by far. Please keep him in your thoughts everyone, and wish him a fast recovery!"
He cheers as he clasps his hands together. His energy is contagious, but I keep my professional tone, least I steer the interview in the wrong direction.
Q: "That's right, you took both Captain Kojima and Captain Kagayaki into your care after the event. What can you tell us about their injuries at the time?"
A: "I'm not sure just how much I can reveal, due to patient confidentiality..."
He answers, as he shuffles in his seat a bit, contemplating to himself. After a moment, he continues anyway.
"But in Captain Kojima's case, it was clear he had suffered an innumerable amount of burns externally, but upon more observations, he had endured burns internally as well. We were well-prepared to treat him, but due to him refusing certain, effective forms of medical care Captain Kojima had proven to be quite... difficult to work with."
The young Captain rolls his eyes, as he remembers Kojima's outburst when he first arrived in the relief station.
"Anyway as you all know, he is made a rapid recovery and our weekly checkups with him have been going well. However in regards to Captain Kagayaki..."
He pauses, bringing his hand to his chin as he sits in thought.
"We had never seen something like it before. His body... his very essence was so broken and fragmented, none of us knew if there was even something left to treat. I had never felt so scared for anyone in my life... the unimaginable pain he must've went through..."
The Captain reflects. He snaps back into reality, seemingly realizing his words might strike fear or worry for Captain Kagayaki.
"But, he's recovering at an impressive rate as well! I won't disclose the methods we used to treat him, but... our Shining Captain is doing much better now,"
A nervous chuckle escapes him, and something nags at me. I decide to cease the opportunity.
Q: "That's fantastic to hear, Captain Kagayaki is in all of our thoughts. Captain, earlier you said you feel 'whoever is responsible' for the Second Division's actions did more harm than good. Are you saying that you don't believe Captain Mukuro acted alone?"
A: "Of course not, there were Omnitsukido blocking off each entryway to our division, they even blocked off the relief station. That could've been a serious hazard if we had to evacuate and sure, Captain Mukuro may have given the order, but each and every man who followed contributed to that risk and I think they should have been held equally as responsible."
He nods his head in approval after speaking and crosses his arms. A defense against my line of questioning. Like with Captain Kojima, I know now is the time to drop it.
Q: "I see. How do you feel about the Seireitei's response to both crises? In what ways do you think it could improve going forward?"
A: "As a whole I feel everyone did the best they could do, especially considering the large scale of each event alone... and it happening on the same day! Not the most ideal stroke of luck but I think we're all grateful everything has worked out the way it has. And how do I think we can improve going forward? Aha..."
He laughs nervously to himself as he scratches his head.
"When you come up with a solution, I'd be happy to know."
A playful response to be sure. It seems that’s a question that we’d all like someone else to answer.
Q: "Thank you Captain. Just a couple questions left. What are your hopes for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have a message for those Shinigami seeking to join Fourth Division?"
A: "All I can hope for is a reunited Seireitei moving forward. I think that would be in everyone's best interest..."
A silence fills the air, the Captain stares at me blankly. Then he realizes he forgot to answer the second question.
"Oh! And for those wishing to join the Fourth Division, don't be shy to ask an existing member for more information-- we don't bite! Anyone with the will to learn and help others is welcome. And for those still in the academy dreaming of being in the Fourth Division someday, make sure to study hard! We'll be waiting for you and cheering you on!"
He smiles at me now, proud to have come up with such enthusiastic words of encouragement. Outside our door, I finally notice that a series of nurses have lined up, patiently waiting for our interview to end so that they can present Captain Nakamoto with some pressing information. I feel honored that the Captain decided I am more worthy of his time, and a little guilty. I can tell he’s got some weighing concerns, his presence was so calming that I had totally forgotten the state of this place. A hospital at max capacity, I’m sure the Captain’s a busy man.
"Well I think that does it this time around. I'll let you get back to your duties Captain, thank you again for your time."
"Yeah, no, yeah... uh... no problem, thank you!”
He stutters in response, before scurrying out of the room.
My final appointment is with Second Division’s own Lieutenant Yasu Yugure. After everything that has happened, I thought it was imperative to sit down and hear Second Division’s side of things. Following the release of Captain Mukuro’s statement, I sent a series of applications to once again interview the mysterious man. After weeks of no response, I figured I was being ghosted by the Seireitei’s Phantom. Then, to my delight, a lavender-scented envelope found its way under my pillow one night.
The letter within stated that I was permitted to interview Lieutenant Yugure, but for a grave price. I’ll admit I lost a lot of sleep that night worrying about what cost that might be. That is, until the next morning when I awoke to find that my refrigerator had been completely emptied. A small price to pay, ultimately.
We meet in a secondary location. A small storage shed within the boundaries of the Second Division. It was all detailed in the letter, where and when, coordinates, time, and...a passcode of sorts. Arriving at the small building, I gingerly knock on wood, following the pattern that was outlined to me. The door opens on its own, and cautiously, I step inside.
Within, there is only a single candle in the corner of the room. It lights the Lieutenant from the back, turning her body into a silhouette. I had assumed this place to be a sort of hideaway, an official meeting place of the Onmitsukidō. However, now the light shines off the walls, revealing that every wall within is absolutely covered in crayon drawings. The floor is almost impossible to traverse, with the amount of discarded food wrappers that have been littered about. This isn’t a hideout, it’s a clubhouse.
I take a seat in the empty chair in front of Lieutenant Yugure. She smiles at me, brushing the crumbs off her lap. There’s something about her that reminds me of Head Lieutenant Oki. Where with Oki there was an overt friendliness, with Yugure there’s a type of helplessness. A deliberate, near predatory, facade, meant to lower your guard around her. I can immediately sense an intense malice and killing intent behind her sparkling eyes and warm smile. There’s more to her than meets the eye, certainly. After all, she is the second in command of the Onmitsukidō, and a master assassin.
"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Lieutenant Yugure."
I take out my camera as she lowers her hood, fluffs her hair, and strikes a pose.
"Yosha. I needed a reason to escape training today with Taichou, so it's my pleasure."

Q: "Lieutenant, you were at the forefront of both the Coup against Commander Murasaki, and the Kōtotsu attack, is that correct?"
A: "I don't know about it being a coup, but more or less. As for the Kokotsu, I was more of a relief after Maho-Taichou and Eleventh's big booboo."
I know I’ve come at her with a loaded question, as does she, but this is the first, and likely only time, that there has been a public interaction with the Second Division, and a lot of people have a lot of questions they need answered.
Q: "What can you tell us about the motivations of the Second Division at this time? What of the motivations of your Captain?"
She pauses, I can’t tell if it is to formulate the correct lie, or to decide if she should be genuine. When it comes to the Onmitsukidō, these two are often the same.
A: "We're healing. We do our jobs, and go home. We're doing our best, and so is Taichou. After that whole fiasco it's been hard, y'know. After everything that happened, our normal procedures are hindered in some way, and that means that I have to work harder."
Q: "Do you feel that tensions between the Second Division and the rest of the Gotei Thirteen have increased or decreased as a result of the Kōtotsu attack?"
A: "Everyone's been on edge since then, but that's their problem if they can't trust us. No one says it, but I see it all in their faces when they encounter me. I'm sure it's increasing as we speak, but that's alright."
I don’t sense any dishonesty in her words. Though I like to think my years of experience in this job have developed a sort of knack for picking up on lies, I know I’m grossly outclassed by the Lieutenant’s ability to tell them. Still, despite everything, I find myself sympathizing with her. I believe everything she’s saying.
Q: "I see. How do you wish for the Second Division to be perceived going forward?"
A: "Of course I want the best for my Division, but I can't control other's point of view on us. Hate us if you will, we do what we're supposed to do. Besides, if anyone's got a problem with us, they can come directly to me 'bout it. I've been itchin' to cause some trouble."
Q: "Naturally you stand with your Division against adversity, but do you feel Captain Mukuro's actions against the Commander were justified?"
A: "He's on another level when it comes to secrecy. Even if I do stick to him like glue, I probably wouldn't fully understand anything. He's a stickler for the rules. I don't know what happened, so whatever he did must have been for a reason. Even Lieutenant Oki didn't stop him when he came."
The Lieutenant's done a great job of walking the line. Revealing nothing but her own perception, her own beliefs, while giving out no tangible information. She is a master of discretion. Or maybe, she really is just as much in the dark as the rest of us. Such intense secrecy, I realize that the cogs at play are bigger than what I can uncover in a single interview. In an attempt to avoid conspiracy, and prevent myself from getting in over my head, I decide to cut it short.
Q:"Thank you for your patience Lieutenant, just a couple of things before I go. Can you tell me your hopes for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message to those Shinigami seeking to join Second division?"
A: "Ah, the future? Well, for starters, I hope we get stronger. There are things out there, and something tells me we'll need to be ready for anything that comes our way. I'm confident that we'll get better in our days to come. Maybe one day you'll see me donned in a haori, haha! As for those wanting to join Second, bring snacks and a backbone. We'll get along much easier that way!"
The malice I felt is completely vanished. A childlike happiness and energy radiates from her now as she speaks. I can’t help but find myself elated right along with her. There’s a sort of inspiring nature to her that I hadn’t noticed before. I make the decision then and there that whatever the cause of their actions, I would rather have the Second Division as an ally than an enemy.
"Thank you again.”
Having packed up my gear, I give her a small bow, and turn to leave. Before I can walk out the door however, I catch myself.
“...and Lieutenant, for what it's worth. I trust you."
I don’t know why I say it. Maybe because her division has spent so long living under everyone's scrutiny, being perceived as the villains to a story they’re just as clueless towards as anyone else. Maybe I feel that she needs to be reminded that she has a friend, being so caught up in a world of deceit and distrust. Either way, it’s impossible for me to tell how my words reach her.
"Do you?.. Well, uhm, you're welcome, and thanks for putting your trust in me. I've gotta run now, it's time for a little trouble. Catch me on Soultube at Yakkaimono! This next video's gonna be hilarious."


“CH. 0: Storm”
Story by Maho Kojima

A lone black SUV cruises through dingy dirt roads. Above was an overcast sky, devoid of any color. The tires of this black vehicle hobble across the fractured road as the reflection of shabby metal shacks flickers by. Every now and again, dingy faces drenched in dirt and shadow pass along with them. Within, the dim light of the world outside did little to illuminate the SUV’s innards. The only significant light source coming from the vehicle's dashboard, where an electronic screen projected a holographic display. A female news anchor in an odd jumpsuit of sorts stood before a large weather map her fingers hovering over what appeared to be a large storm. The ticker at the bottom read, “Storm Level: Devil” followed by instructions to “Evacuate indoors for the foreseeable weeks” in bold letters. "Ugh, another one?" asked the driver. The car followed the same road until it took a sharp left into an old ally. Driving along, it continued toward the back until it came upon a dusty and abandoned factory. After a minute or so, a single man stepped out into the cramped alley. His six-foot frame extended itself out of the large truck doors. First, a pair of long legs, which sported characteristically clean leather dress shoes with a distinct shine, then his arms and head. He donned a lengthy beige trench coat, and a fedora on his head. Between his lips was a large cigar that cooked sluggishly. He tilted his head backward and let out a loud sigh; his face having been obscured by a dull absence of light. What followed was a large plume of gray smoke. “Forty-One huh? Heh, never thought I’d see it...”
He swung around and slammed the door shut, walking up to the rickety iron steps. Each step composed a creak. As he entered the large doors to the factory, his hand shuffled along in his coat pocket, pulling out a small badge. He held it up to a camera on the wall, which was succeeded by a single tone. Soon after he stepped into a large open and empty room. Within were a few deserted conveyor belts and desks littered with old trash and abandoned items. In the back of the room, a freight elevator. The murkiness of this room draped over him as his legs drug along. He pressed a large red button and the fright doors opened.
Stepping inside, he scanned the badge once more. A voice called out to greet him in a monotonous tone. “Hello, Detective Carlos. Welcome back.” The elevator rasps and grumbles in a series of distinctive bellows, before dropping into the depths of the earth. The ever-passing lights illuminated bits and pieces of Detective Carlos, most notably his eyes. They were wide yet focused and glimmered a bright brown hue. A number of deep lines ran along his face. He had the look of a tired man. The large freight doors revealed a brightly lit room filled with technology. There was a single rectangular table in the center of the room. A column of server boxes sat on the left-hand corner like a stack of dominos, on the right were two pods of sorts and, at the helm, a large screen, encompassing several smaller individual windows. Another man sat in front of it all, typing away aimlessly. The sound of smooth jazz music played out over the speaker beside him, just low enough not to drown out the sound of his chewing gum. Carlos stepped toward him, removing his fedora to reveal a head of short but curly hair. His skin just a few shades from pale and his face had a distinctive stubble.
“Look like we gonna’ be here for a while Professor. The storm hitting any minute.”
“Yes I’ve been following the reports. Damned things make it impossible to leave.”
“Eh...if ya think about it, it works out. We’re close by since he’s going under.”
“Well that is a valid point. We’ve got plenty of food and supplies that should last. Inadvertently, it’s not like we have families anyway.”
“Yeesh, rub it in why don’t ya? Whatever. Might actually be able to do our jobs.”

He hobbled over and took a seat in one of the large white cushioned chairs resting beside the pod. The cigar lifted to his lips, burned down a bit and separated again, tendrils of smoke dancing about the air then dissipating. “Well, It’s not so bad. Draft day is fun to watch. And we’re backers this year.” He removed his trench coat and tossed it on the floor beside him. Most of the walls were barren of any personality, besides an assortment of cables and lines that ran along the perimeters. A few posters promoting an assortment of alcohol brands accompanied one large one with the phrase “New Soul” in bold customized letters.
The Professor spun around and got up from his chair. He was a rather short man. Maybe five foot, seven on a good day. He had a thin face, and narrow eyes and his skin was several shades darker than Carlos’. His face was devoid of any facial hair, let alone blemish. On his head was a low-cut fade far too crisp for the science type. He was dressed rather comfortably in a purple turtleneck and some sweatpants. “Do try not to clutter the space, will you? I just told you we don’t have families. I am not your father, nor your mother ‘detective’.” He waltzed over and picked up Carlos’ jacket, placing it on the rack across the room, where his own lab coat hung. There was a door to its left, most likely where the bathroom was.
“Besides, you’re an elder now. You can pick up ya’ own shit” He had broken his formal dialect for only a moment.
“Stooop it, don’t do that” Carlos said raising his tone just a bit. He would point the cigar in his direction.
“Well it's true. You in a league of your own old man. A relic of the old world.”
“Look ‘Professor’’ You not too far off from being an “elder” Aite? Don’t let that lack of facial hair fool you.” He took another puff of smoke and fired it in his direction.
“That stubble aint too much to be proud of ‘detective’. Hmph…Anyway. Who is this kid?”

Carlos learned back in the chair and watched the ceiling for a few seconds. His arms spilled over the sides dragging lightly across the floor. “He’s the little brother of an old friend. Died in the Blaze bout’ six years ago. Hadn’t seen him much since that night until about three years ago when he came to me in cuffs. The boy got caught stealing some old tech from the warehouses south of town. It just so happened I had a way for him to work down his sentence. I repay an old debt; he helps me a little investigation I’ve been cooking up.”
“And that ‘investigation’ is what lead you to me right?”
“Bingo Senor. Bingo! We have a winner.”
“But what could a detective and a thief need with a Neuro-Engineer? And for ‘New Soul no less? Wait, don’t tell me."
Whoever it is you’re looking for must-have snuck off into the world.
"Right again…”
“And this ‘kid’ is how you're gonna' find him?”
“Look at the good doctor figuring it all out for himself.”
His voice was thick with condescendence. Though he meant nothing by it.
“That’s certainly an interesting...plan. What’s his name?”
He sat up and looked to his side, eyeing the foggy glass of the pod. Silence was all that could be heard from within. Carlos let out a small sigh followed by another pull of the cigar.
”His name…is…”

Honoka’s Helpline!
"Hello Honoka, can you help me with my plants?" - N.U.
Hello N.U. Your question is a little too broad, since there's so many things that could affect a plant's livelihood, from the type of soil it's planted in, to not having enough room for its roots to grow, or even the amount of light it receives. And like people, plants have their own unique requirements to thrive. Have you tried talking to it? I find that a some conversation really uplifts their mood, and they become even more fragrant and vibrant when they're given attention.
"I fear I dislike others. Not so much hate them as I can not be around them without my nervousness overwhelming me. This has been a hindrance to my work for some time... please help." - Nervous Messenger
Oh dear, I can see this weighs heavily on you, Nervous Messenger. Have you asked yourself why you become so nervous when in this type of situation? What exactly about interacting with other makes you nervous? Take the bull by the horns, if they don't like you for you, kill them.
“What can I put in his snacks for him to halfway die.” - Gaki
Greetings Gaki... I thought about this carefully and my recommendation would be to take a refined form of the Atropa Belladona, an extract from the berries specifically; they're sweet, and would be easily masked if injected into a candy. Please keep in mind this is a very deadly poison, so administer it scarcely.
“Not a specified question for anyone... in mind.. Can you get your own captain arrested for having an herb farm in your room in the Nin— I mean... certain barracks?” - Unlucky-Or-Something
Well, Unlucky-Or-Something, sadly, growing a plant of any kind isn't illegal, so no. But do you have a problem with the captain or the plants? My solution would be to burn 'em.
"If you've saved many people from the disaster, but you still feel like you could have saved more, how do you cope with the fact you feel like you've lost men, even though others are calling it a win?" - Fox Knight
A very deep question, Fox Knight. Certainly the type to leave you restless at night. It's the reality of our line of work. In every battle, there are casualties, we have to accept that we fight to save as many as we can, but we simply cannot save everybody. It becomes easier to move forward when you think about the lives you saved and how they'll continue living. They will be grateful to you their entire lives, because thanks to you, they are able to return to their loved ones. As for those unfortunate to fall in battle, well, death is inevitable. As much as some try to avoid it, everyone will have a turn to dance with death. Might as well enjoy your last dance.

High-intensity workouts
Break out of your fitness rut and sculpt a lean, toned, ripped physique with this high-intensity program. Approved by the Shinigami Council on Exercise, questionably safe, effective, interval-training system delivers amazing results for every body.
“R.I.P.P.E.D.” stands for resistance, intervals, power, plyometrics, endurance, and diet and nutrition. Together, they make for a calorie-scorching, fat-torching program that never lets you plateau. In just five workout segments, plus a warm-up and cooldown, you’ll burn more than 7000 calories in under an hour!
Each segment focuses on one of the R.I.P.P.E.D. principles and features modifications and a tutorial demonstrating proper form and technique. You’ll get your heart pumping; target your upper body; strengthen your core, back, legs, and glutes; improve your agility, coordination, and speed; and build up your endurance with martial-arts-inspired moves. Driven by an original music score from the 9th Division, this is a complete toning, strengthening, and cardiovascular workout for the whole body. Whether you’re a giant among men like me or a total beginner, you can achieve lasting results with R.I.P.P.E.D.: Total Body Challenge.

R.I.P.P.E.D. Jinnosuke Ueku has over 500 years of combined fitness experience and is certified by the Shinigami Council on Exercise (SCE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of Seireitei (AFAS).


Eleventh Division Lieutenant, Nibui Ueki here.
I don’t have much to say but I need someone to teach me about plants and gardening in general. All my plants keep dying, please help.
Thank you.


Captain Kojima’s Poem of the Month!
Time is a prison, to which all things remain
until one realizes they are above it.
Only then will fate align itself
to which
is desired.
You have more than you think
So take your time
and enjoy

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Kuchiki Killer!
“Villain versus Vizards?!”
Article by Jiroshizō Raikyū
Edited by Otsukai Mayakasu

Has our era of peace turned to an era of misfortune? The Onmitsukidō, long thought to be the secret protectors and watchful eyes of the Seireitei, instead hold its true defenders hostage. The Kōtotsu, the ancient caretakers of the Dangai, escape from their world to wreak havoc upon ours. Now it is the Kuchiki Clan that betrays our trust. The proud noble family whose wealth, power, and influence flows like life-blood through the Seireitei. Or at least, it once did. Now, only three things remain of the Kuchiki clan, a prisoner of the Central Forty Six, an unclaimed Inheritance, and a barren grass field where their proud manor once stood. Perhaps then, it would be more accurate to say that the only thing left of the Kuchiki are memories. Their proud flame snuffed out in the treacherous machinations of the The Kuchiki Killer.

I have spent the last two months investigating deeper into the incident many of us witnessed. That fateful evening when the Commander confronted that trio of Hollows. Some of us have never felt fear on that level, and none of us are likely to forget it anytime soon. I was on the case before the events even unfolded, and my Captain was given charge of the situation after it ended. Together, we made one solemn vow: to get to the truth behind what happened. I thought I was lucky enough to have a first hand account, little did I know just how close we all came to a true disaster.
It all starts with Shirogane Kuchiki, the Pride of the Kuchiki, former heir to the family fortune. Specifically, it starts with his test for Captaincy. After Shirogane helped to solve a murder case with the assistance of Second Division, he was approved to test for Captain of Sixth Division. There he fought, and was defeated by our very own Captain Kojima. This test resulted in his first great failure, and may have been the catalyst for Kuchiki's descent into madness. Upon returning to the seireitei, records indicate that Shirogane was stripped from his title of heir by the Kuchiki Council on account of his failure. At this same time, he learned of the death of his son, Yosuke Kuchiki.

Yosuke died after sustaining injuries training with now Lieutenant of 11th Division, Jinnosuke Ueki, known as Devil Jin. His injuries would have been treatable, if the Fourth Division wasn’t being locked down by Second Division usurpers at the time. Shirogane not only failed his test, and lost his status, on the same day, but also lost his son. Still, he remained a Shinigmai, and Third Seat of Sixth Division, continuing to perform his duties. During the Coup Shirogane attempted to arrest Lieutenant Yasu Yugure only to face defeat at her hands, according to former Lieutenant Nibui Ueki. Even after this, he still rushed forth to assist in the defense against the Kōtotsu but his interference spawned ridicule from the Second Division Captain, Kyomu Mukuro. In a single day, the proud Kuchiki faced humiliation after humiliation, until finally he snapped.
At this point, the facts become a little bit stifled, as no official records remain. All the information gathered comes from word of mouth, whispers and rumors from those minor Kuchiki subjected to Shirogane's terror. It seems, following the Kototsu event, Shirogane was once again called before the Kuchiki Council. Allegedly, rather than face further humiliation, Shirogane killed the elder Kuchiki in cold blood, declaring himself the new Clan Lord. He took advantage of some unsaid pact between the Kuchiki and Commander Shobatsu, wherein the Commander agreed not to monitor anything happening within the Royal Family's domain. The Kuchiki Killer then locked down the Manor, confining all of his clan to their quarters for over two months. The Gotei Thirteen and Central Forty Six remained ignorant of this transfer of power, allowing Shirogane to scheme unhindered.
Using the authority granted to me by Captain Kojima, and by extension Commander Murasaki, I was granted access to the archives Shirogane used as Clan Lord. Following his trail of study, I came across the same information which I am sure inspired his wicked plan. Information on that mysterious object we all saw the Commander carry into battle. What we didn’t realize at the time, was that this artifact was far more dangerous than the Hollowfied Shinigami Commander Murasaki faced down. Going through the Kuchiki library, Shirogane uncovered a classified piece of history: information on the Aku Hachi Hakkō.

Turns out, this thing is a well kept secret. Well here at the Ninth Division, we don’t believe in secrets, we believe in scoops. My requests to interview the Kido Corps have been denied until Captain Oda recovers, and the First Division has remained as tight lipped as ever. However, the Kuchiki records provided me with all the information I need. This Evil Fermentation Pot, was created by the Kido Corps after the Shattered Dimensions event. Originally it held the ability to amplify a Shinigami’s power, however after a Hollow was sealed into it, the artifact became corrupted. Now, it continuously amplifies Hollowified Reishi. It holds the power of an infinite amount of Hollows, absorbing any reishi and Hollowifiying it, before multiplying its power. This seemingly harmless pot can both absorb and release this energy, something not previously disclosed.
Upon coming across this information, Shirogane set about his treacherous plan. Using the influence of the Kuchiki Clan, he pressured the Central Forty Six into delivering the pot right to his doorstep, under the guise that the Kuchiki Elder’s wished to dispose of their private supply of training Hollows. Now this is where things get interesting. Following the paper trail, it seems Central Forty Six ordered the Commander to deliver the artifact directly, with the oversight of the Kido Corps. Instead, the Commander sent an envoy of his own personal messengers.

It's unclear why the Commander did not go himself, as there was no official statement or response from the First Division. The only message to go out from First Division that day was delivered to Captain Kagayaki, who had just woken up from his Bankai-induced coma. Captain Kagayaki was sent to test Tenzen Oda for captaincy right away, much to the chagrin of his caretaker Captain Nakamoto. Upon the completion of his test, Tenzen returned to Fourth Division, only to be confronted by the High Priestesses of the Kido Corps. According to eyewitness testimonies, the Kido Corps had received word that Tenzen passed before any of the Captains, and was promoted to Captain on the spot. Peculiar, don’t you think dear reader?
Fresh from his battle with Captain Kagayaki, Captain Oda arrived just in time for the artifact to be delivered to Shirogane. To both Shirogane and Captain Oda’s surprise, they were met with the most unlucky guest, Arashi Suta, who just happened to drop by and got swept up in the whole mess, according to Sixth Division Third Seat Shusuke Kiyoshi. It was at this time, that my own journalistic approach proved fruitful. As I discovered that Lieutenant Yasu Yugure of the Second Division somehow caught wind of Shirogane's machinations. Acting on her duty as head of the Patrol Corps, she moved to end Shirogane’s uprising prematurely. However, it appeared that Shirogane, as the Clan Lord of the Kuchiki, outranked Yugure. After all, the delivery of the artifact was a Clan matter, not a Shinigami one. Using this leverage, Shirogane had the Lieutenant arrested, and escorted his new guests deep into the Kuchiki manor.
Here is where things become cloudy. As Captain Oda erected a barrier around the Kuchiki Manor, making any developments difficult to observe. Thanks to the cooperation of Second Division Shinigami, I was able to get some detail about the story within the barrier, but not enough. It seems that Lieutenant Yugure escaped her confinement, and was able to apprehend and extract Shirogane’s mother, the Matriarch of the Kuchiki clan, before the barrier went up. While the Kuchiki Lady was sent to the Second Division for holding, Yasu stayed behind to confront Shirogane.
It is fortunate then that, in this high tension political battle between Captains, Clan Lords, and Lieutenants, the common man had his champion in the form of bystander Arashi Suta. Waiting until he recovered, I was able to corroborate this story with Arashi’s first hand account. Now a Lieutenant under Captain Oda, Arashi was more than happy to share the exploits of his new found Captain. This, combined with the information gleaned from Second, may paint a full picture of what happened that evening.
Within the safety of his Manor, the Kuchiki Killer led his guests down to the training room where his clan kept their Hollows. There, he allowed Captain Oda to begin the unsealing of the Aku Hachi Hakkō. At that moment, Lieutenant Yugure arrived to stop the Captain, but it was too late. Shirogane played his hand. He revealed that the Shirogane that had accompanied them was but a clone brought on by his deceitful Shikai. The True Shirogane had been lying in wait until the seals were broken, before unleashing the pot himself.

Opening the Evil Fermentation Pot released a pillar of Hollowfied Reiatsu directly onto Shirogane. This reiatsu fumigated the entire Kuchiki Compound, killing off the Kido Corps Shinigami and the Commander’s Messengers, as well as absorbing all the Hollows released by Shirogane prior. The end result, transformed the Kuchiki Killer from man, to monster, his outer appearance now reflecting his inner villainy. The disgraced Pride of the Kuchiki had transformed into the first Vizard the Seireitei has seen in over Three Hundred Years!
Wielding a power not possessed since the likes of former Captain Shousan, the traitorous Shirogane turned on his guests. Captain Oda prioritized sealing the artifact, while Lieutenant Yugure confronted Shirogane. Ultimately, Shirogane’s clone fled with the Artifact, to where however, still remains a mystery to this day. Following this, Shirogane assaulted Captain Oda, attempting to crush the Captain’s skull. However, being the Chief of the Kido Corps, Captain Oda is not one to mess with. Using some unseen spell, the Captain was able to seal away Shirogane with a single action! Just as Lieutenant Yugure activated her Bankai.
From outside the barrier, I, and a few other confused and desperate observers, could witness Yugure’s Bankai filling the Barrier with tar and flowers, preventing anyone from seeing in. I was left to my imagination, scouring the scene for any detail. Little did I imagine what true horrors were happening within. As at this point, having defeated Shirogane, the three standing Shinigami discovered that the Kuchiki Killer was not alone in his Hollowfication. Each one of them, too, had been infected by the Artifact’s Miasma. Their souls becoming Hollowified, masks manifested across their face. They had each become Vizards.
Soon, their bodies transformed into abominations, losing control of their minds and actions, they became savages, aggressive, they became...well, Hollows.

I was there on that day, standing outside the barrier, confused, concerned. With the barrier obscured by Yasu’s Bankai, we could not see the monstrous forms of the Shinigami within. No one seemed to have answers, no one seemed to have real control over the situation. That is, until Captain Commander Shobatsu Murasaki arrived, carrying the pot no less! No one seems to know where he was, and there appears to be no record or eye witness account of what he did. However, the fact he held the artifact in his arm, meant he must have dealt with Shirogane’s clone and apprehended the artifact himself.
After briefly giving orders to those Captains that flocked to the scene, the Commander entered the Barrier himself. Clearing away Yasu’s Bankai, and destroying the Kuchiki manor, he literally leveled the playing field, and revealed to the entire Seireitei the fate of the Hollowfied Shinigami. The vizards, unable to control their actions, attacked the Commander, who appeared to use the Aku Hachi Hakkō to re-absorb the Hollowfied air and purify the inner contents of the barrier. Their attacks were quickly dealt with, and the Commander used the subjugating force of his Spiritual pressure to subdue them. This shattered the barrier, exposing us bystanders to the terror of our Commander’s power for but a moment. Only two were able to resist falling to the floor, the Shining Knight Captain Higen Kagayaki, and our very own Dragon of Kojima, Captain Kojima.
It was these two that the Commander addressed. Tossing the Evil Fermentation Pot to Captain Kagyaki, he instructed the Captain to meet Head Lieutenant Oki at the First Division Barracks. Afterwards, Commander Murasaki placed our Captain Kojima in charge of the scene. The Commander’s final words were as follows​
Quote:“The Rest of you, go home.”
Then just like that, he disappeared, carrying the broken bodies of the three new Vizards to the Twelth Division for treatment. No one knows what happened to them there. Hidden away deep within the confines of the Shinigami Research and Development Institute, they remained isolated from the outside world for two months. Now, the Vizards have been released, seemingly without stigma or punishment from the First Division.
Could the reports be true, that these Vizards are not villains, but victims, who sacrificed not only their bodies, but their very souls, to save the Seireitei? If it weren't for them perhaps the Kuchiki Killer would have released the Aku Hachi Hakkō upon us all, turning every soul into a vicious Hollow. Remember that next time you may think to judge them as monsters. Instead, be thankful to them for saving you from the same fate. After all, if we’ve learned anything this past half year, it’s that you never know what misfortune fate has in store.

Interviews with the Gotei 13!

The Seireitei is abuzz with rumors and gossip about what they witnessed at the Kuchiki Manor two months ago. Rampant speculation surrounds the Seireitei about the Shinigami turned Hollows who faced down the Commander on that fateful day. Concern and questions only grow as to the fates of Captain Oda, and Lieutenants Arashi Suta and Yasu Yugure. To some aspiring journalists this type of word of mouth hearsay is a perfect vein for mining out some gossip column or crackpot conspiracy theory. However, here at the Ninth Division we report only on the truth, only on the facts. With their release from Twelfth Division’s care, I set out to interview each of the Shinigami survivors, in order to find out exactly what happened.
My first interview is the big fish himself, Captain Oda. Reports show that Tenzen Oda fought in a test against the freshly revived Captain Kagayaki, was promoted to Captain of Fifth Division and Chief of the Kido Corps, turned into a Vizard, and defeated by Captain Commander Murasaki all on the same day. Anyone that can live through all that and still survive to tell the tale, is someone I absolutely must meet. Sitting before me, I’m hard pressed to find any indication on the Captain’s face of the hardship he faced. This is half due to the kind and peaceful expression he constantly seems to carry, and half due to the intense aura of nervousness that permeates through him. I watch as he rapidly runs his fingers across his prayer-beads, whether in meditation or anxious fidgeting I cannot tell. I figure it’s likely both, and decide to break the ice.
"Thank you for having me today, Captain."
"Uhh... Yeah, no problem.."
For a moment I recall the reports of his fight with the Commander. his broken body being carried away. Now, in front of me, he sits perfectly straight in his chair, proudly wearing both his Whit Captain’s Haori and the Blue Haori of the Kido Corps Chief. As I take his picture I can’t help but note the majestic stature these layers give the man. He looks as though he should be sitting upon a thrown, not upon some wooden chair.
"How are you feeling?"
"Decent I su-suppose. You? Wait, am I supposed to ask that?"
As humble and kind as ever, he looks around nervously for someone to answer his question, despite myself being the only other person in the room. I chuckle for a moment at the man’s timid nature, it’s a relief to see that his power and position have not gotten to his person.
"That's good to hear, and I'm doing just great, Captain. Are you ready to begin?"
"Yeah, ready when you are."
He slides his prayer beads into the sleeve of his white haori, a polite gesture, giving me his full attention. In response, I take out my notebook, and give him mine.

Q: "Captain Oda, can you tell us about what happened?"
I cut straight to the point, and immediately regret it. Captain Oda’s bashful behavior stops as soon as my question does. He sits in silence for a moment, contemplating, with a deadly serious expression on his face.
A: "Not sure how much I'm allowed to tell you. What do you know so far? I'll tell you what I can based on that."
His warm atmosphere turns cold, hardening himself, his defenses go on high alert, and rightfully so.
"Just share what you're comfortable with Sir."
Again, he remains silent. I can tell that he is mentally strategizing how to handle this interview. As his brow furrows, I get the sense that he’s weighing every possible outcome, every consequence, of every answer he might give. Finally, he reaches his carefully thought plan of attack, his eyes opening as his lips part.
"There was a traitor, I dealt with him. That's all."
Q: "Ah, Shirogane Kuchiki correct? Word is that he butchered his clan, and is the one responsible for your condition. You're the one that took him down? How?"
A shocked expression comes across his face. Maintaining an air of professionalism, I stand my ground, and stare at him expectantly.
A: "Ah, you know more than I thought. Yes, it was Shirogane, I didn't know he butchered his clan and yes he is the cause of my condition. I did strike the killing blow against him as for how, that is my secret."
I can tell this is going to be an uphill battle, the Captain, responsible for the Fifth Division, the Kido Corps, and perhaps this entire event, does not wish to say something that might impede his authority. Or, perhaps he is simply scared of the judgment of the First Division, fearful that his words will somehow reach the Commander.
Q: “Rumor has it that Shirogane achieved some unknown power before he died, what did he do to you and the others in that barrier?"
A: "Hmm, I wouldn't call it a power more like poison is what he achieved. That same poison afflicted me and the others that were inside the barrier."
Q: "You're talking about Hollowfication. What is it like to be Hollowified?"
I drop the bomb, the big secret that the Captain has been dancing around. His eyes narrow, studying me, analyzing my intentions. I’ve been an investigative journalist too long to not know when someone’s weighing whether or not I should be trusted. I’m no Shirogane however, and the Captain chooses to proceed, much to my relief.
A: "You know quite a bit."
He sighs before continuing, looking off to his left while rubbing the back of his head.
"What is it like... Imagine all your inner demons fusing into one, everything you work hard to keep control over merging into this inverted version of yourself. Then trying fighting it off so that it wont take control of your body and go on a rampage. It is a poison that highlights your negative traits and amplifies them."
Q: "If even you struggled to maintain control, I couldn't imagine how difficult it must be. Do you remember anything that happened outside of your inner world? Your fight with the Commander for example?"
A: "So you know everything... I don't remember anything, when I regained control of my body I was in the process of being crushed by the Commander's Reiatsu. I also doubt that you could call any hostile aggression against the Commander a fight."
I let out a laugh, the Captain’s humor is a welcome olive branch between this figurative game of cat and mouse we’re playing. One I accept happily, choosing to change the subject to less prying matters.
Q: "Fair enough. Well let's take it back a little bit. You were recently promoted to Captain of the Fifth Division, and by extension the Kido Corps. Congratulations by the way. How does it feel to take on this responsibility?"
His expression relaxes now that the topic has changed, the tension in the room dissipates. The Captain’s nerves immediately catch up to him now that official business isn’t so pressing. I find myself being put at ease, there’s something about this side of the man that is just, well, calming.
A: ”Th.. Thank you and it uh... It's hard to explain. It's like a heavy responsibility and burden, but, a welcoming one. I Uh.. Umm carry both with pride I suppose."
Q: "You were promoted just moments before everything went down. I figure that means you haven't had much time to settle in. So then, do you have any plans for Fifth Division and the Corps?"
An awkward chuckle escapes him.
A: "Heh, Yeah that was a hectic day. I do have plans for them and umm, I'll try to be b-brief with them. I guess... uhh, expect both 5th and Kido Corps to become more m... mili... militarized... 5th wil focus on battle readiness and artillery wh..while Kido Corps will b-be focused on artifact re-recovery."
Q: "Ah, a new direction then. That's very interesting. Well Captain, I don't want to take up too much of your time, so one last thing before we go. After your experience, what hopes do you have for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message for those Shinigami seeking to join Fifth Division?"
That serious expression returns to his face, and I know he means business.
A: "I have hopes for a unified Seireitei so that this infighting can come to an end. The Gotei 13 is at its absolute strongest when we stand as one. For those seeking to join Fifth Division... For those who are ready and willing to respond to any threat at a moments notice, to those who want to rain down destructive fury against the enemies of Soul Society, and for those seeking a true everlasting peace for Soul Society, come to the Fifth Division..."
Captain Oda lowers his head, shadows casting over his face. I’m taken aback by the solemn intensity of this pose, before I realize it is not a gesture of utmost seriousness, but of shame.
"Th...That was corny... I... I'm done talking for the day...."
The Captain rises from his chair, awkwardly shuffling towards the door. I pack up my notebook and camera in a flash and rise to my feet to catch him before he leaves.
"Thank you again Captain. I'm glad you're ok. The Seireitei owes you a debt."
I shout the last half, already halfway through the door, as Captain Oda shuffle-runs down the street, mumbling back before he disappears.
"N..no problem, it's what I'm supposed to do.."
I don’t have to look far for my next interview. Staying right at the Fifth Division barracks, I met Arashi Suta. He appears to have been promoted to Lieutenant of Fifth Division, by Captain Oda’s request, according to the wooden plaque proudly fastened to his arm. It seems a fitting choice, given what they’ve now been through together, as well as the fact that Arashi's general demeanor seems to match the peaceful presence of his Captain. He comes in a little late to our meeting, holding in his hand a cup of steaming hot tea, and looking through the steam at me with a closed eyed and devilish grin.
"Hello there Lieutenant Suta, thanks for meeting me."
He continues to look at me with his usual expression. Unchanging, his smile seemingly existing forever. Without hesitation, he finds his seat. In his hands sits his cup of tea. Though the surface may be hot, noticeably so by the amount of steam emitting from the liquid within, he holds it with both hands, bare in contact. There is no irritation or sense of pain upon his face. None at all.
"Thank you, glad to be here."
Removing my camera, Lieutenant Suta sets down his cup just long enough to strike a pose for me. His face doesn’t change, I get the impression his expression never does. Luckily, he’s already smiling. I think about how hard it must be to smile, after such traumatic events, but it's the will of a strong Shinigami to push on, I suppose.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better now, I believe. Some struggles here and there, but overall fine."
He answers as he takes a sip of his tea, short and sweet. It is then that a visible shift in his posture, but not his expression, reveals to me that he’s just remembering something. Ashamedly, he speaks on.
"How rude of me, I should have brought you a cup, but I did not want to be late."
I let out a chuckle, though I appreciate his hospitality, I'm here for another kind of tea, the spilt kind.
"That's alright, thank you. Shall we begin?"
With a nod, he responds physically.
"Yes, let's do it."

Q: "Let's start with, what exactly happened?"
A: "Hmm."
I watch him deliberate, as he processes his thoughts, clearly he isn't sure where to start…
"Where exactly do you want me to begin?"
Q: "What lead you to the Sixth Division Barracks that day?"
A: "At first, a training partner. Along with that, to check on a comrade. Both me and Shirogane being Third seats of our squads. No Captain, we had to run the ship. To keep our squads from toppling and losing face. Such a responsibility is pressuring."
He takes another sip from his cup…
Q: “So, you had no idea what was about to happen. Out of everyone involved, you are the only one that can be considered a bystander. Could you share with us what you saw after the barrier went up?"
A: "I..."
A noticeable pause, as he once again ponders his thoughts, lowering his drink to his lap at this point. Trying to recall, I watch as his brain gets to work in recovering these memories. I prepare for another tight lipped interview, if this man takes after his Captain in any sense, then this is going to be another uphill battle to pry out what bits of info the Lieutenant's willing to share.
Eventually, to my utter surprise, he does.
"No, absolutely not, I was just as clueless as the next person, but I knew that the situation was dire and so sensitive that the feeling became palpable. Once the barrier went up, our weapons were confiscated. Lieutenant Yugure had been arrested, well before we arrived. She had been taken somewhere within the Compound. The Pot had been put into place. It was only me, Captain Oda and Shirogane, along with the kido corps that traveled with us. I remember a question, Shirogane asked us about our views on the Seireitei, how we felt, something along those lines... It was odd... Me and Captain Oda gave no response to it. We were ready to begin the ritual."
Hardly tight lipped at all, the Lieutenant gives much more than I had hoped to receive. Frantically, I start jotting down note after note, trying to keep up with the Lieutenants tell all.
Q: "Ritual? Can you elaborate on that? You mentioned something about a Pot, could that be the artifact the Kido Corps was supposed to deliver? The one the Commander carried when he arrived?"
A: "Maybe ritual isn't the right term, rather, the unsealing. The pot is the artifact that the Kido Corps delivered. The same artifact that the Commander carried. Captain Oda, had the task of unsealing the pot, releasing its contents."
He takes another sip of his tea, before lowering the cup again.
Q: "What were its contents?"
Before he can answer, he hesitates. I notice his eyes moving behind his closed eyelids, as though every image of the event flashes before his eyes. One by one... every second, minute, like a movie, like a dream, but far from one. It is his reality now. Nothing but the past, but it is still and always will be a memory that feels as though it happened yesterday. This is the pain I see in the Lieutenant before me, as he leans forward, deadly serious.
A: "Do you know what terror feels like? What that pot contained is explainable... It is power, both vile and extremely dangerous. I can't even comprehend what I felt that day, let alone give you a honest answer."
Q: "This power, it's rumored Shirogane harnessed it for himself, is this true?”
A: "Yes, he gained something akin to the power of a Hollow. It amplified him, so much so that it even toppled the likes of Captain Oda, myself and even Lieutenant Yugure who had somehow escaped her confinement..."
Another pause, followed by another sip. However, this time his eyes open, though only slightly. Enough to where his midnight blue gaze is visible to me from where I sit, I feel paralyzed, as though caught in the hypnotizing gaze of a cobra.
"Shirogane had single-handedly betrayed our trust and the Seireitei. Simply enough, he used us, well, mostly Captain Oda to gain this power."
Q: "So, that's how you three underwent Hollowification. What is it like to be Hollowified?"
A: "Unfortunately, yes. Forever changed, we are, or at least there is no way to reverse it yet... But, it does feel good... The Hollowfication gives us power. It is definitely an edge over our enemies, I can say that much. Then again, it does come with cons. It’s not a power everyone should have or look forward to achieving. No, it is dark and unforgiving."
Q: "I see, so you embrace this power? Aren't you worried that you will be perceived as a monster?"
A: "Embracing, I wouldn't say that. I tolerate it. I will not let it control my actions nor my way of life. As far as being worried? No, we are all monsters in our own story and in somebody else's story. The term does not faze me or influence me to become such."
Q: "Well, at least one person agrees with you. I hear Captain Oda recently promoted you to Lieutenant of Fifth Division?”
His smile broadens just a bit. At this moment, his eyes close almost entirely, seemingly unable to see my person sitting in front of him.
A: "Yes, I am grateful to Captain Oda. I also understand his reasoning behind it. Its probably good that we both train together, along with Lieutenant Yugure to further understand this, Hollowfication."
He takes another sip.
Q: "Some might say then that Fifth Division has become a Division for Hollows. This doesn't bother you?"
A: "Everyone has their feelings and opinions. It is not something I can control or tamper with. We will continue to operate all the same... We wear masks, not our division. The core values of Squad Five remain the same."
Q: "Of course. You and Captain Oda seem like a good pair, your level headedness is a comfort. Do you have any plans for your Division, as their new Lieutenant?
A: "To gain their trust. I am still a new face among them. As you said, they might see me as a monster and even though it does not bother me, we can not function as a unit if they are always afraid of me or despise what I have become. It's easier for Captain Oda, being the head of the Squad. Hopefully, they will come around."
Q: "Hopefully so. Finally, what hopes do you have for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message for those Shinigami seeking to join Fifth Division?"
A: "I hope that no matter our trials and tribulations, our strength will remain. Our unity will grow. That our enemies will think twice before they choose to assert themselves upon us. May our blades remain sharp and our minds sharper. As for our coming members, bring more than just your knowledge of kido. The universe does not revolve around just that."
Lieutenant Suta stands now, impatient like his Captain to leave. I worry I’ve upset him with my line of questioning, but it needed to be addressed. Still, I’m grateful to the Lieutenant for all he shared, and hope to express that to him.
"Thank you again, Lieutenant."
With a nod, he steps out...
My final interview is a familiar face. Lieutenant Yasu Yugure. I’ll admit, when I heard the Second division was caught up in all of this, my first thoughts went to the wellbeing of Lieutenant Yugure. Having interviewed her only last issue, I looked forward to hearing what new perspective she might bring to this edition. We meet in her usual clubhouse, a snack-smeared wrapper-worn hideout where we can talk freely without any eavesdropping spies. Or at least, where we can pretend to. When I enter, I’m greeted with a wide smile, and though her hair seems to have gotten longer since last time, she’s the same old Yasu.
"It's good to see you again, Lieutenant."
"Haihai. I hope you've been well since our last meeting."
"I have, thank you. How are you feeling?"
I filter through my gear bag, pulling out my camera and fidgeting with some lenses, while the Lieutenant happily munches away on her snack of presumably stolen chips.
"Things could be better, but I'm still goin' y'know? So that's good."
She discards the empty bag onto the floor, nonchalantly wiping her face. She then strikes a pose in front of the camera, as I take the photo.
"I'm sorry to hear that. it seems you've recovered well at least. Shall we begin?"
"Of course, ready when you are."

Q: "So, can you tell us what happened?"
A: "Ah... Where do I start? Sometimes I just think I was at the right place at the wrong time. I got some stuff from my squad about money laundering between the Kuchiki and other shinigami and it turned into something a lot worse. Y'know how proud the Kuchiki are-- well, were. That Shirogane guy just got involved in something that he couldn't handle, and it ended up with plenty of injuries and plenty of casualties. I thought I could fix it, but you can see how that went."
I watch as she removes a secret bar of chocolate from her sleeve, unwrapping it as she speaks.
Q: "Ah, so that's how you got involved. I hear you were arrested?"
A: "Pfft. I just made them think that. You know what they say: keep your friends close, but enemies closer.”
She tosses the wrapper over her shoulder.
“Got inside with a breeze, yeah."
Q: "What did you see inside? The Fifth Division apparently delivered some kind of powerful artifact, but only Captain Oda made it out."
Her attention shifts away from the bar of chocolate, as she crosses her hands in her lap now, looking downward as though shielding herself from the memories of the event.
A: "...It... looked like just a normal barrel, but the feeling that came with it was suffocating. And when it opened... Sorry, uh, can we go to the next question?"
Knowing when to call it quits, I decide not to push the Lieutenant too far. She may seem cutesy and childish on the outside, but if she decides I'm an enemy, they’d never find my body.
Q: "Sure, of course. I understand this might be a hard topic for you to discuss. Well, whatever happened, you were Hollowfied, correct? Could you tell us what that's like?"
A: "I don't encourage it. It's disheartening; it makes you think a lot about yourself, and your flaws. You're stuck fighting for control with this other you that just seems so much better in every way. Coming out of it, it's just accepting that your weaknesses can become strengths too."
Q: "So, you're saying that becoming a Vizard has made you feel stronger?"
A: "It's made me understand myself a little more, so in a way, yes."
Q: "Are you worried that you will be perceived as a monster, especially after your public confrontation with Commander Murasaki?"
A: "Commander Murasaki gave me the chance to live again, so moping about what others think is just troublesome. Even if I am a monster, what will anyone else do about it other than talk?"
Q: "People certainly are talking, and not just about you. Are you aware that Captain Mukuro arrived with half of the Onmitsukidō in a show of force, demanding entry into the barrier from the Kido Corps?"
She spits the half-eaten bar of chocolate out with such force that it flies into the wall behind me. Wiping her mouth again, she smears chocolate on her sleeve as her jaw drops and eyes go comically wide.
Straightening myself out, I remove some of my notes, making sure to recall events as accurately as possible for her.
"He snapped at Captain Kojima, telling him to quote 'Shut the Hell up' after being questioned. If the Commander hadn't arrived, violence would've likely broken out. You know nothing about this?"
A: "I, uh, no. Th-this is all news to me. I didn't bother asking about it since I wanted to get past everything and move on. Out of sight, out of mind. It was enough for me that he came to pick me up from 12th once I woke up. I'm sure he was busy up until then."
Reaching this conclusion, she sits back in her chair, boredly looking around the room, as though prying for some left over snackage to scavenge amongst the heaps of wrappers.
I try to regain her attention with a cutting question.
Q: "Within only a couple hours of you and your Captain's return to the Seireitei, Your Captain arrived to threaten another Division with an army of Onmitsukidō, and you became involved in a plot where you transformed into a Hollow and attacked the Commander. Tell me, genuinely, how can anyone trust the Second Division?"
A: "...The Commander trusts us; if he didn't, we'd have been eradicated since the Kokotsu incident. Isn't that enough for them?"
I’m successful, and wish I wasn’t. The Lieutenant doesn’t move, but her eyes slowly shift over to me, as though she could see the blood pumping through my veins, every artery to strike. I need to cut this one short, before I am.
Q: "Commander Murasaki has spared you and your Captain twice now, perhaps to the blindly trusting, that is enough. So tell me, going forward, do you have any plans for the Second Division?"
A: "Plenty, but that's a secret for me to know, and for the readers to never find out!"
She lets out a maniacal laugh, almost too intense, it drags on for a bit longer than is comfortable. I let out a nervous laugh in response.
Q: "A bold choice of words. Lieutenant, after your experience, what hopes do you have for the future of the Seireitei? Do you have any message for those Shinigami seeking to join Second Division?"
A: "For the Seireitei to stand strong, always. As for those looking forward to the Second Division, be prepared, have heart, and bring snacks!"
She returns to her usual bubbly self, watching me with sparkling eyes as I pack up my gear.
"Thank you for seeing me, Lieutenant. I'm happy to see you're still yourself."
"Not a problem, Mister. It's time for another promo, by the way! Look forward to another video from your favorite Yakkaimono. Next week, I'll have special guests on the show. And please continue to support the SWA ladies and gentlemen. Yasu out!”


“Chapter 1: Tutorial”
Story by Maho Kojima

Darkness. The human psyche had an odd relationship with the dark. Most came to fear it. A metaphor, a representation of the unknown. They always told us that darkness had always been. It expanded into infinite depths, creeping into the expanse. Eyes closed or opened it remained. One could not guess how long this darkness festered. It allowed for nothing but stillness and rest. The stiffness that came with an idle existence crept around the corners in the dark. There were no true sensations other than that of loneliness and the heaviness of sleep. This was fear. Primordial and true. Man’s first instinct, or so many had come to believe. When humans sought shelter from darkness, they scrambled to the light.
Like a candle, a single ember awakens. Even the dimmest of lights severed and separated the dark. Flame represented safety. Warmth was its most welcoming characteristic. Heat was energy itself. One feels that same fire when they hug a loved one. When they go for a run. The human spirit itself flickered and wavered just like a candle’s ember in a storm. But what made fire dangerous, was its unpredictability. At any given moment, a wilting flame could become a forest of flames. Only an ounce of flame could bring forth great destruction. This dichotomy between security and destruction was balance itself. And for a time, this single, unremarkable ball of fire remained. Idle, trapped, strangled in the dark.
Then without warning, A flash discharged through the densest mass of shadow. It was blinding at first, illuminating the void as swirls of blue configured itself, surging electrically, These beams of light form into a singular square panel. There on its surface text appeared. The words seemed to resonate within the mind.
“Would you like to begin the tutorial?”
The mere thought of acceptance was all that was required. The panel, in response, reconfigured itself. The two-dimensional square would gain a third dimension stretching out and gaining depth, becoming a cube. It was relatively small, swaying left and right as if it had a life of its own. It floated freely, soaring through the darkness as if leading the way, leaving behind it a luminescent trail of light. After a short distance, the cube stops. An invasive burst of elegance pulsates from it. From its geometric frame, a series of straight lines fan out, laying themselves about from that single focal point. These lines overlapped, forming a series of wide squares, giving definition to the surroundings like a coordinate X/Y grid. As these dimensions are laid forth, at the location where it had all began, a single faceless being is formed. It resembled an old wire marionette. Piece by piece its limbs took a finite though definite form, first arms and legs, followed by its feet and torso. With a grand flash, it all rounded off at its head. There were not many details to define this being. No true facial structure. No eyes or mouth. though it's definitions clearly resembled that of a male, one could not say for sure. Its face lowered, adjacent to its own hands. Unbeknownst to itself, the words “New Player” sat just atop its head in large bold letters.
The overlapping lines had become more defined, slowing their expansion as they reached their peak distance. There were four walls in total, a ceiling and a floor. A light blue glow emanated from these barriers and within thirty seconds, a one hundred and forty-meter wide “space” had formed in full. The cube idled before seeping into the floor. This process seemed to drag on for minutes, as light rippled 'within' the barriers from the point of immersion. For a time, there was an uncomfortable stillness. The “New Player” simply observed, in what could only be described as non-vocal confusion. From the same location, a similar hand, un-detailed and puppet-like, slowly stretched from the floor. It too was composed of overlapping lines, though its movements were enigmatic. One arm after the other it breached the flooring and pulled its body up. Awkward twitches gave way to dangling arms. Then its head cocked to the side. It moved, then stiffened, much like an old clock hand. Opposed to the first blue figure, this new one was a deep shade of red.
Above the red Marionette's head, read “???”. This organism stood deathly still for about six or so seconds. It swayed left and right akin to a mechanically. The Red figure took a sharp step forward. A red pulse of light rippled across the floor and throughout the walls in response to its foot connecting with the floor. Its hand opened up; its arm cocks then flies forward. It was clear that these movements were unskilled and basic, yet there was ‘something’ dangerous about them. Everything within screamed to the new Player to move, so in response they weaved backward just out of range. The red figure continued forward, firing another series of ungraceful swings. In response, The Player repeats its previous movements and slips smoothly out harm's way. These movements, while much more deliberate, showed some inkling of experience. It was evident, as its without thinking, his left arm rounds like a bullet, snug in its chamber. Then fires off. With a ‘crack’ the red puppet takes a blow to the head. There is a loud “thwap” like the snapping of a whip which sends it skidding backward along the floor's surface. Its red body then stiffens on its feet, becoming still as if to register what had occurred. Calculating the data, this machine stands up straight, its computations now complete, its body realigned and configured.
Observing each twitch, The Players arms straightened, tightening around its head and torso. Right-hand hovering a short distance behind the left, his legs maintained a solid distance apart. This stance was instinctual. With each passing moment, the knowledge of brawling returned. Memories began to bubble from the depths of his nervous system. The Player remembered distinctly that fighting is and was, seldom enjoyable. Its only saving grace is the reality, that any challenge was worth confronting head-on. That it was less about the act and more about overcoming something. This familiarity was presumed to be comforting despite the uneasiness of the situation. It is then that the red man was upon him once again, those lanky arms out-stretch rigidly to their limits as the Red puppet rushed forward, this time tightening its open hands into a fist, mimicking what had just been done to it. It had adapted, immediately refining its movements, making it much swifter than before. It threw not just one jab, but several in combination. Prompting The player to weave and slip at a much more rigorous pace.
The two seemingly in sync, began to move and flow with each other’s movements. The longer they went, the more they began to mirror one another. A strike here, a dodge there. Their movements became more and more advanced and intricate as time went on. More and more superhuman. The room was an influx of red and green shades of light that bounced around inside the walls. As these blows were exchanged, more and more memories resurfaced in the player. He recalls the world he is from and that where he is from, fighting is a necessity. It is a force that can only be delayed but never truly avoided. He remembered those dingy streets and the pain that permeated when one’s head bounced against the pavement. Those unnecessary aches. The bruises, and scars. The shattered teeth. The blood. Oh, the blood. It always terrified him in his youth. His ability to avoid this pain increased as his realizations cemented. Hit without being hit. Each and every one of the red figures' movements had begun to pick up in intensity and he, coming more into himself, needed that much more effort to keep up.
His arms began to tremble as fear settled throughout his freshly formed body. That familiar ache and pain nestled into his being. As the battle raged a thick heaviness settled within them. This 'thing' was strong, plain and simple. In his frustration, his body whipped around, cleaving his leg through open air. He had missed, or more accurately, the Red figure had learned to dodge. In an act of imitation, it repeated the same, whipping its own body around and extending its leg, its heel piercing his side. The impact behind such a blow sent him rocketing toward the left wall with a thrash, ripples of blue exploding around the wall behind him.
His body slumped to the floor. He began to feel an enormous emptiness in his chest. There was sharp strain in his back, one that was unrelenting. He had no way to express his pain, other than to lay dormant on the floor, unable to move. He no longer wanted to be here. He still did not know where ‘here’ was. The puppet turned its head to him, limp along the floor. It crept a step or two in his direction, observing his motionlessness. The burning sensation in his arms and legs smothered his senses. He continued to tremble, unsure if it was due to fear or fatigue. He struggled to keep the red monster in view. His vision had become blurry. All he wanted to do was return to his slumber. It would have been easy to give in. To fall back asleep. To drift in the warmth of the infinite darkness. That was until an old memory flooded his mind. Loud and clear, the most familiar and recognizable voice rings within his mind.



Honoka's Helpline!
"How would I go about re-connecting with my child?" - S.K.
Nothing brings people together like a little death. What I mean by that is: Go on a mission together. Being in danger together will strengthen that bond, more than words ever could!
"How does one prevent their... Darker side from taking over?" -O.H.
It all depends on what brings you peace. It's all about balance. Everyone copes differently, if you have to snuff a few lights to keep your sanity, well.. who's to stop you. Just remember be meticulous, or they'll find the skeletons in your closet!
"Though protocol is understandable, I believe too much of it could cause trouble.... so why can't the Soul Society change? The living world grows and evolves every day, yet we've remained the same for centuries. Why do we lie to the souls that arrive to the Soul Society and tell them they are going to a better place when really.. they aren't? - Fox Knight
Another tough question from Fox Knight. Soul Society is changing, everything changes. The change might not be outright obvious, as some goals may take lifetimes to achieve through the arduous work of everyone that pitches in. If you don't see the change you want happening, then you have to be that change! For the second part of your question, I'm afraid this is all a matter of perspective. Some people have truly pitiful lives, in which they could only find solace through death, resulting in a slightly better life for them here in Soul Society.
"How does one stay in control?" -F.H.
Depends on the situation. Blackmail is usually a really good method. Opens up a lot of doors with the right leverage. Although fear or outright violence tend to work just as good. You can always try different methods and see which one works best for you. Determine what it is you want to remain control of, and see which option is going to be the one that works for you!
"When will you be returning to your duties?" - Captain Commander Shobatsu Murasaki
A great question, from a reader that refused anonymity... Haha. Since I can't give you any related advice, here's something that's sure to come in handy one day! “If you stare at something you dropped on the ground, eventually someone will pick it up for you.”

Thank you, monthly subscriber!

The Shinigami Women’s Association is thankful for your donations and continuous support of the women in this line of work, as we protect and serve our home. A special edition calendar is in the making with all of your favorites and more. For further inquiries of the future calendar, all-girl's retreat to the World of the Living, and our holiday collection, find Lieutenant Yūgure or Head Lieutenant Oki and bring all the snacks you can carry. We hope to continue providing quality content and performances well done. We'll see you in the next edition of the SCC!



Walking the Empty Path.
By Tenzen Oda

The teachings I have implemented in my life over the centuries took time, diligence, and focus. What I learned could not be taught in one sitting or read from a single scripture, however, there are pieces of it that can be easily digested and passed along for those seeking to unclutter their mind and bring about a new level of focus. For this article, I shall present three pieces of advice that are easy to understand and can slowly be implemented into your life. Let's begin with the first:
1. “Peace and harmony come from within. Do not seek it without.”
This was something I personally put a lot of focus into and to this day I continue to put it towards the forefront of the mind. It simply means to find peace and harmony within your own mind and soul, NOT through external devices. Attempting to find peace and harmony through external, or in this sensitive material, means is pointless it gives you a brief joy and satisfaction that is finite. It is fine to enjoy such things but does not use them as your only viable source for peace, joy or harmony as they are merely a distraction as these three things exist within. I personally cannot tell anyone what brings them peace or joy that is an answer you must find for yourself and that is the very reason this piece of advice exists. Once you have found that answer then you will have followed through on this advice I have given.
2. “As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss out on your life.”
Have you ever traveled to the other side of the Seireitei or anywhere in the Rukongai so lost in a daze and your own thoughts that you suddenly arrive at your destination with no clear memory of the trip? It is something happens in our daily lives and relates to more than just traveling, sitting down to eat a meal and it is gone before you know it forgetting to savor its taste. Placing yourself in a sort of mindlessness state or autopilot will do this to you. In order to correct this one must practice mindfulness, "It's not about the destination but the journey" is what this advice boils down to. Live your life like it truly matters, take a moment to smell the air, take in the scenery on your travels, take a moment to enjoy the meal or drink you are having, be where you are at that moment. Such mindfulness can even be correlated to our daily duties as Shinigami as well. Do this and you find a sense of enjoyment you never knew you could feel, this is but a part of the key to discovering your own inner peace, harmony, and joy that was mentioned before.
3. “Don’t blindly believe what is said. Don’t believe in a thing because others convince you of its words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances. Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion. Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real.”
This last piece of advice may sound confusing but in truth, it can be summed up quite simply: What I am teaching is not a matter of faith or authority. It is not something to just believe or disbelieve but rather is something to be tried, tested and discovered directly for each person. The way I discovered my peace may not be the way you discover yours, how you discover it is a process that you must try and test for yourself as it should be with all things in life. Take a sort of radical responsibility for yourselves and for your lives. Mindfulness is either known directly or not at all. It’s something each of us must experience first hand in order to know it. We in the Gotei 13 are soldiers, we are given orders, are expected to execute them without fail and this piece of advice can be taken the wrong way regarding that matter. This does not relate to our duties in any way but instead relates to ourselves as individuals who can be influenced by rumors and false information. This piece of advice can be controversial and confusing as I myself still struggle to follow through with all of it. However, I decided to present it as a way to open up a discussion among peers or perhaps open up a discussion with yourself as peace and harmony come from within it can be found through proper mindfulness so long as you forego blind believability, following, and deception. Through your own authority alone shall you find the answers you truly seek.
As complex as the three pieces of advice may seem at first careful studying can open up the simplicity that lies within them a simplicity that you must find for yourself. As stated before use this as a way to discuss with others or yourself and you may find the answers you seek sitting right in front of you all along. These are but building blocks for those seeking to clear up the haze or fog that blocks their path to peace and/or harmony use them however you wish.
P.S. Please do not send me letters or stop me in person to speak about this, you will be ignored.

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For I have come up with a new concoction that will not only ensure a full head of healthy hair, but those strong and glossy follicles can be weaponized as well! Think of the endless possibilities, hair that will maintain optimal perfection and sheen with an added bonus of striking at whatever you apes deem a nuisance! Don't waste anymore of your invaluable time, come now!
Minor Disclaimer:
I take no responsibility for whatever form you may unfortunately take upon utilizing my product, however I hold all rights to study and experiment your transformed body.

Occult Cat
by the most secretive reporter in the entire soul society.

Alright! What's gooooood. This is yo boy, Unlucky Cat! You might have several questions about this particular column. Well. As you may or may not know—I am big into the occult, horoscope and all, and absolutely excited to research more into the occults and share what I found. With enough comments that I should start a column in the SCC and I have a jo—er. Anyway. I figured I should since I enjoy sharing things about that particular topic! I am happy to hear that some of you had expressed similar interests in the occults and who wouldn't? After all, we are the proof that Supernatural exists!
Chapter OneHow do I start?
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Captain Kojima’s Poem of the Month!
Thunderous drums
Ring from the distance
The mirror is shattered
reveling thine inner self
though conquered in defeat
all are sent home
to face within
before you face Them





End of an Era
“Commander turned Inmate”
Article by Otsukai Mayakasu

What a year this has been, not just for us privileged enough to serve here in the Seireitei, but for those struggling to survive out in the Rukongai. In such tragedy, we must not let our walls divide us, but instead remember that we are one Soul Society. From the smallest child, to the strongest Captain, we each have our part to play, and though our roles may be different, our goal remains the same: to protect the balance of souls. This is something that our previously inscrutable Captain Commander seems to have forgotten, and in his actions, he has forsaken the rest of us.
Merely four days ago, the Former Prisoner of the Muken, and now Former Captain Commander, Shobatsu Murasaki, called a Captain’s meeting. The subject of the meeting remains a mystery to all but the Captains, especially to our journalists here in the Ninth Division, who have been left destitute of any information. However, the timing of the meeting itself seems to have deliberately handicapped the Gotei Thirteen. Despite Former Commander Murasaki’s apparent Omnipotence, the meeting was called with what we speculate to be deliberate ignorance. The World of the Living was under attack at both of its Important Spiritual Grounds, by a threat that has not been seen for over 1500 years, the Togabito. While the Rukongai District 77, known colloquially as the “Wound” District, was subjected to a massive explosion allegedly caused by a Garganta!
Yet, under attack, no, invasion, by such foreign threats, former Commander Murasaki robbed the Soul Society of its Captains, depriving these poor jurisdictions of their most powerful assets. Why summon all of the Captains to hold a meeting, which hasn’t been done for years, at such crucial times? Especially given the Blind Murasaki’s speculated ability to predict the future? There is no doubt that this action was meant to distract the military might of the Gotei Thirteen, so that the Former Commander could enact his plans following the meeting.

What accrued within the great Captain’s Hall continues to elude our investigators. However, reports indicate that every Captain that left the hall, did so grievously injured. Some form of combat certainly took place, and though it is not confirmed, we at Ninth have our theories. We believe that the Captains loyal to the Soul Society rebelled against those loyal to Shobatsu Murasaki. The Criminal Commander was the first to flee the scene, likely relying on his loyal Captains to cover his tracks. The next to exit the hall was the benevolent fairy, Captain Nakamoto. A pacifist, the Captain likely sought to avoid violence, and was gravely injured along the way. No doubt seeking to aid Captain Nakamoto, was our very own Captain Kojima. However, in his attempt to assist Nakamoto, Captain Kojima was ambushed by Murasaki’s assassin, Akarui Gekko, who used dishonorable tactics to deceive our trusting Captain, and struck him down! After the death of Kojima, the only other Captain brave enough to stand up against the Tyrant, the leader of the coup against Murasaki, Kyomu Mukuro, exited, equally wounded. Following him, were the most loyal Captains, the beastial buddha, Tenzen Oda, and the Seireitei’s Shining Knight, Higen Kagayaki. Neither of which appeared to have confronted Akarui, or tried to avenge the unjust death of our Captain.
How could the First Division relly on such trickery and betrayal? How could they turn on the very souls they are meant to protect! Captain Kojima was an honorable man, more deserving of his title than the Criminal Murasaki! Yet the Muken Inmate would not even face Kojima himself. For all of his supposed power, the Former Commander was too afraid to face our Captain, and had to rely on the dishonorable skills of an assassin! We here at Ninth are glad to see the Tyrant get what he deserves, and we only wish Murasakis sentence was shorter. Rather than locking him in the Muken for eternity, he should be given a swift execution! After all, he bestowed such a thing on the Dragon of Kojima, does the paragon of Justice not deserve such a “just” fate?
Following the assassination of our Captain, Ninth Division’s upper seated officers, Kyuuzu Kojima, and Jirōshizō Raikyū, attempted to flee from First Division and escape to the World of the Living. However, the brave Kyuuzu sacrificed himself to ensure Jirōshizō’s escape, and was struck down by more of Shobatsu’s assassins, the trained killers of the Onmitsukidō. With our remaining Lieutenant, Shinobu Abe, hospitalized for an incurable ailment, Ninth Division was left leaderless. One key investigator, Jatiri Yabuki, bravely confronted the First Division in pursuit of answers. However, the treacherous First refused our investigator entry, and turned him away at the gate, answerless and alone. So tell us Soul Society, who do you follow, what do you believe in? Because it seems those loyal to Shobatsu Murasaki follow no law, and do not believe in justice.
It is no surprise then the Former Commander Murasaki was called to trial before the Central Forty Six. Escorted by Sixth Division’s diligent Shusuke Kiyoshi, the Commander left his Zanpakuto behind, and attended his trial. However, shortly after the trial began, Murasaki’s stolen Zanpakuto: Shihōken, was seen flying from the Captain’s Hall. Its destination: none other than the Central Forty Six compound. What happened inside, following this, remains under investigation, however the evidence points to only one thing: that the murderous Murasaki had reverted to his old ways, and slew the entirety of the Soul Society's governing body!
Higen Kagayaki was first on the scene, followed by Head Lieutenant Honoka Oki. The two testified to witnessing an injured Shobatsu Murasaki, surrounded by forty seven corpses. Every single member of the Central Forty Six had been violently killed, as well as the last survivor of the Kuchiki Incident, Clan Lady Misaki Kuchiki. As if their treasonous murder was not enough, their corpses were apparently descrated by Murasaki’s kido. Ask yourself, reader, what does this picture paint for you? Why would the Commander, who for over three centuries never received a scratch, suddenly be so injured? It is obvious that the murderous Murasaki was attempting to cover his tracks, and injured himself to appear the victim.

Luckily, such deception was below our beloved duo, Lieutenant Oki and Captain Kagayaki. Though the two were notoriously the most loyal to Former Commander Murasaki, their loyalty to Soul Society has been proven to be above their loyalty to the Warlord. Honoka Oki, since the public release of the central forty Six’s records, has been proven to be a deep agent planted by our former government, in order to keep an eye on the treacherous criminal Commander. While Higen Kagayaki’s track record speaks for itself, saving the Soul Society time and again.With these facts in mind, the following scenario becomes clear. Honoka Oki acted on the Central Forty Six’s contingency plan, assembling the fragments of the Muken Key, and imprisoning the Commander there for the rest of eternity.
With the released criminal finally returned to the Muken, to serve his infernal sentence, the Soul Society was left now without a Central Forty Six, and without a Captain Commander. The task of restructuring our Gotei Thirteen, and rebalancing the flow of souls, fell upon none other than Higen Kagayaki. He of course is the most obvious choice for Commander, as the Shining Knight. Though he was loyal to Murasaki, he cannot be faulted, as this was simply a product of being loyal to the Gotei Thirteen. He has saved the Soul Society, the World of the Living, and the Balance of Souls countless times now, and has proven himself the strongest amongst the Captains. His first order proves his benevolence, and shows that he is exactly the change we need, the opposite of a Tyrant. Captain Commander Kagayaki’s first action was to restore the Central Forty Six by democratically electing representatives from the Rukongai.
Here we are now, four days after the Murasaki Massacre. The Tyrant has been removed from his throne, and returned to the darkness where he belongs. While the Soul Society’s Hero now wields the title of Commander. With this change in leadership, we hope the hardship of this past year is now behind us, and look forward to centuries of piece and prosperity under the new reigns. Today, the newly elected Central Forty Six is set to arrive, and fill a hall that was never meant to be empty. We hope that the rest of the Seireitei will join the Ninth Division in welcoming both the new Commander and the new Central Forty Six. We encourage you to look forward to the future, as there is no reason to mourn the tragic end of an era.In Memoriam
Genkoku Tsunayashiro
Misaki Kuchiki
Ogawa Toshio
Mizouchi Shihōin
Toshiei Fēng
Wakamatsu Kaneshige
Takeya Omaeda
Kitomaru Tsuneo
Toshiko Kira
Nankanashi Yusuke
Yoshikawa Ise
Yumi Tsunayashiro
Mayama Kasumiōji
Yuichi Shiba
Tanabu Masayo
Makiyama Hiroe
Furukawa Toshiharu
Kaneko Genjiro
Nakagawa Masaharu
Kawada Ryuhei
Matsumari Kyōraku
Yoshifumi Fēng
Muroi Shihōin
Kunihiko Sugi
Hisatake Shihōin
Suzuki Muneo
Yamatani Eriko
Marukawa Ukitake
Tamayo Kira
Yamamato Shihōin
Junzo Tsunayashiro
Sato Shihōin
Nobuaki Ōmaeda
Aoki Ai
Tsuruho Tsunayashiro
Yosuke Ukitake
Haku Shinkun
Miazawa Kiyoshi
Yoichi Shunkan
Hayashi Yoshimasa
Nakasone Hirofumi
Arimura Haruko
Okamura Kiyoshi
Takashi Shihōin
Ikkamaru Fēng
Eisaku Aikawa

Rest in Power Captain Kojima.


Hell on Earth
“A world drowned in Blood”
Article by Otsukai Mayakasu


For the first time in over three hundred years the World of the Living was invaded by an opposing force, or “OP’s” as the Tenth Division has designated them. The aftermath of this attack has left District 3600, otherwise known as Karakura Town, the former home of the Bleached Hero: Ichigo Kurosaki, in desolation. District 3700, or Naruki City, was equally as rampaged, however the intervention of Captain Kagyaki ensured that the Opposition’s plan was not successful. This attack, it would seem, was organized with coordinated assaults on multiple fronts. While the Human World appears to have been the front line, reports indicate that simultaneous events occurred in both the Rukongai, and even the dreaded home of Hollow’s: Hueco Mundo. You may be wondering what force would wage war on the entirety of the Soul King’s trifecta of Human, Shinigami, and Hollows. Well, we here at the SCC regret to inform you that our enemy is Hell itself.
That’s right Seireitei, Hell has shown its hand once more. The dimension of sinners, which removes evil souls from the cycle of reincarnation, has appeared again for the first time since the Shattered Dimensions event. Let us not forget that it was Hell’s appearance, and subsequent abduction of Captain Camilla Kuchiki, that started off that horrible event. Could the appearance of two Hell Gates in the World of the Living, and another in Hueco Mundo, as well as a Garganta in the Rukongai, signify that we are facing yet another Shattered Dimensions event? I certainly hope not. However, the evidence is surmounting. Look at all of the turmoil that we have faced in this past year, experiencing more tragedy, death, and destruction than we have since Shobatsu Murasaki stole the title of Commander. Despite the tyrannical rule of the Blind Dictator, none could argue that the Former Commander was our greatest defense against such an anomaly. Could it be that his return to the Muken was also planned, that he saw these events coming and wished to pass responsibility onto Commander Kagayaki? Or perhaps it was Commander Kagayaki’s usage of Bankai against the Kōtotsu that triggered this invasion. After all, witnesses did claim to see a shattering of the sky, with visions of alternate dimensions and future timelines. However, speculation will do us no good. What the Soul Society needs right now are the facts. So let’s start at the beginning.
Events started innocently enough, with an unseated Shinigami slaying a Hollow. As is the case with sinful souls, the purification of the Hollow spawned a Hell Gate. However, after this soul was taken in by the Kushanāda, something peculiar happened. Just as the gates were meant to close, a new soul stepped out, a Shinigami soul. Reports from the First Division indicated that their Fourth Seat, Yami Mochizuki, had been dispatched on a Mission to Hell. His task, to monitor Hell’s activities and search for the missing Captains. It would seem something was important enough for Mochizuki to abandon this mission, as he escaped Hell to do so. Following his return to the World of the Living, Mochizuki sought out Tenth Division’s Seventh Seat, Kuro Yakimono, and gained access to a Senkaimon. From there, Mochizuki entered Soul Society, and reported to Former Commander Murasaki. Though the details of the report remain classified, we at Ninth Speculate that it was Yami Mochizuki’s arrival that prompted Hell to invade, in hopes of retrieving the escaped soul.
What followed was a routine mission from the Thirteenth Division, escorting Fourth Division’s Lieutenant Hageshi to the World of the Living. Though it is unprecedented for the Fourth Division to journey beyond their barracks, Lieutenant Hageshi has a reputation of going to the front line. Perhaps this is why Fourth Division’s jurisdiction has expanded, as they now provide medical assistance during battle in an official capacity. Hageshi’s goal was to procure a Hollow, so that she could heal the injuries of Eleventh Division’s Lieutenant Uekū. Though Hageshi was unsuccessful in procuring her Hollow, the Thirteenth Division was able to secure one of their own, and escort it back to Soul Society. However, while Hageshi and her escort, Oyama Hoshi, remained in Karakura Town, events suddenly changed with the appearance of a Hell Gate.

Scans from the Twelfth Division indicate that two Hell Gates opened simultaneously in Karakura and Naruki, respectively. From these gates stepped forth two Togabito, a species of sinners that are eternally condemned to the punishments of Hell. The Karakura Togabito would be identified as a former Hollow, known as Sword Eater. This hollow was an anomaly when it first entered the World of the Living, and was confronted by then Third Seat Arashi Suta, before being executed by Tenth Division’s Lieutenant Kasumi. This Hollow turned Togabito was recorded as seeking out Arashi Suta by name. The other Togabito remains unidentified, but is referred to as the Naruki Togabito. It is speculated that this Togabito was seeking out Yami Mochizuki.
The Karatoga, as it has been nicknamed, was first confronted by Lieutenant Omoni Hageshi, Oyama Hoshi, and Shinjitsu Kyo. Omoni was able to rescue Oyama from the Togabito’s clutches, holding back the Togabito’s advance. However she herself was held back by the interference of Quincy arriving on the scene, as well as the reported brashness of Thirteenth Division’s Fifth Seat Kyo. During this encounter, the Shinigami and Quincy were forced to retreat, while Omoni struggled to keep the creature at bay. It was soon discovered that Sword Eater’s ability was true to its namesake, as it was able to copy the abilities of anything it ate. Further, the creature seemed to obtain the memories of whatever it ate, recalling Lieutenant Hageshi’s name after eating her Zanpakuto. Throughout this initial battle, Sword Eater was able to obtain each of the Quincy’s powers, as well as Omoni and Shinjitsu’s Shikai abilities. Despite this however, Lieutenant Hageshi was able to protect the lives of her Shinigami, and hold out until the arrival of Fourth Division’s Captain Nakamoto, and Eleventh Division’s Fourth Seat, Shoumetsu Takahiro.
Meanwhile, the Naruki Togabito, or Narutoga for short, was initially confronted by a series of Fullbringers. These were quickly defeated, with one being critically injured, while the other two fled. However, the Human’s struggle provided enough time for Kuro Yakimono, and his superior, Tenth Divison’s Third Seat Shizuka Hyouzoku, to arrive on scene. The duo battled the Togabito, and discovered that its abilities relied on an unknown number of invisible hands. These hands, according to Shizuka’s report, had the ability to sap strength from whatever they touched. Yet, Tenth Division’s combined strength was not enough to defeat the Togabito, even with the unexpected arrival of yet another Fullbringer, poor Kuro Yakimono’s life was unfortunately taken from him.
Here in the Soul Society, the Fifth Division reports that they dispatched now Lieutenant Arashi Suta to destroy an object of great power. It would seem that Rukongai District 77, or “Wound”, was withholding an aspect of the Soul King. Likely the source of the District’s colloquial name, the Soul King’s Blood ran beneath District 77 as a literal river. However, when Lieutenant Suta, accompanied by the Kido Corps, attempted to destroy the river, an unnatural phenomenon occurred. Above the district, a Garganta opened. Only, no hollow came out. Instead, reports from the Fifth, Seventh, and Second Division, all corroborate that the Blood apparently activated, and was absorbed into the Garganta. The result was a cataclysmic explosion, which was felt all the way here in the Seireitei. It is at this point, dear readers, that you may recall receiving Lieutenant Yugure's Tenteikūra message regarding this incident.​
Quote: “All available Shinigami, heed this call. A Garganta has appeared in the 77th District of the Eastern Rukongai! Calling all available assets to respond. A Garganta has--”
Returning to Karakura Town, Lieutenant Hageshi, protected by her Captain, was able to escape along with the rest of the Thirteenth Division, spare Shinjitsu Kyo who refused to follow orders. Captain Nakamoto, and his Eleventh escort, Shoumetsu, were now on the scene. They had arrived at Karakura to cover for Omoni, so that she could fulfill her mission and return to Seireitei to heal Jinnosuke. Here reports become conflicted, as Shoumetsu’s report indicates that Captain Nakamoto willingly allowed Sword Eater to consume his shikai, granting the Togabito near-immortal levels of healing, and rendering his own Shikai useless against this. However, Captain Nakamoto’s report is cited as saying that his attempts to protect Shinjitsu Kyo prevented him from focusing fully on the fight. Regardless, the Togabito was able to both obtain Captain Nakamoto’s abilities, and kill the stubborn Shinjitsu, along with the remaining Quincy on the scene. What followed was an intense battle, with Captain Nakomoto’s Kido and Shoumetsu’s Zanjutsu ultimately pinning the Togabito in a Bakudo.
Back in Naruki, with the death of Kuro, Shizuka’s fate was looking bleak. However, just as the Togabito was to secure victory and end Shizuka’s life, a shining light, or rather, a Shining Knight, appeared. The Hero of the Soul Society, Captain Commander Higen Kagayaki, had arrived fresh from the scene of Murasaki’s crime. He did not allow the horror of what he saw, nor the weight of his new responsibility, to burden him, but succeeded in trapping the Togabito within an unknown Bakudo spell.
Both Togabito were now successfully trapped. Which proved to be of great importance, as in Karakura it allowed Lieutenant Hageshi to arrive, accompanied by the newly healed Lieutenant Uekū. These two took over from there, while Captain Nakamoto and Shoumetsu traveled to the other destination, to assist those who were injured in Naruki. They arrived in time to witness Commander Kagayaki defeat the Togabito, executing it swiftly with his masterful Hakuda. Fearing further interference from Hell, Captain Nakamoto sealed the Hell Gate shut. While back in Karakura, Omoni and Jinnosuke were able to deliver the final blow, and execute Sword Eater. Yet, just as victory seemed assured in both fronts, disaster struck once again.
Above, a Garganta appeared in the skies of both Karakura Town and Naruki City. This black void was not unlike the one that had visited Rukongai District 77. Where that Garganta had sealed away the blood and destroyed the district, these would release the blood, and destroy the Human World. A tidal wave of the Soul King’s Life Essence struck both cities, causing an unparalleled amount of destruction, and killing an untold amount of souls. In Karakura, where the Hell Gate remained open, the Soul King’s Blood was able to drain into that damned dimension. However, in Naruki, where Captain Nakamoto had sealed the Gate, the blood had nowhere to go, and the entire city became drowned in two hundred feet of crimson. We are fortunate that Lieutenants Hageshi and Uekū, Shoumetsu, Captain Nakamoto, and Commander Kagayaki were able to make it out alive. Further, despite the tragedy, Nakamoto’s actions allowed the Fifth Division to later successfully procure the stagnant blood, keeping it out of the enemy’s hands.
This disaster never relents, as even during the writing of this article, reports are coming in of a coordinated Arrancar assault. Another Oppositional Force is invading the Human World in an attempt to procure the remnants of the Soul King’s Blood. Even now, explosions shake the very walls of the Seireitei, originating somewhere out there in the Rukongai. However, this Reporter believes that through the hardships we’ve faced, our Soul Society has become stronger. Though the events of this attack from Hell has triggered an even longer series of tragedies, I have no doubt that our Shinigami, our Captains, and our new Commander, will see us through it all. We must all follow Commander Kagayaki’s example, and allow the Shining Knight to lead us back into the light.In Memoriam
Kagewaki Hōmuru of the Second Division
Xiaolin of the Second Division
Kuro Yakimono of the Tenth Division
Shinjitsu Kyoof the Thirteenth Division

Interviews with the Gotei 13!

With all that has happened recently I certainly had my plate full in terms of potential interviews. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down one on one with those who were on the forefront of the action, Shizuka Hyouzoku, Lieutenant Omoni Hageshi, and Captain Itsuki Asakura. With the events of just four days ago still fresh in their minds, I ask the questions that are on all of ours. From the Togabito in the Human World, to the Rukongai explosion that rocked the Soul Society, we get an in depth look at exactly what it's like to be on the front lines, and explore what futures await us here in the Gotei Thirteen.
With Higen Kagayaki recently promoted to Captain Commander, the Soul Society’s Shining Knight was not available for an interview. However, even though I wasn’t able to get an account from the man who ended it, I was able to sit down with one Shinigami who was there from the start: Shizuka Hyouzoku, the Third Seat of Tenth Division. Don’t let his reputation for laziness fool you, Shizuka is the Head of Human Operations within his division, which means he is the one who oversees every excursion into the World of the Living. It is thanks to this young man that there was even a Naruki City left for Commander Kagayaki to save. Which is exactly the thought racing through my mind as I meet the Green-Haired Shinigami or the first time.
"Thanks for coming, Shizuka."
"No problem. Glad to be here."
To my surprise, he closes his eyes, and almost appears to doze off in his chair. Still exhausted from the tragic events he faced just four days ago. However, when I thank him he responds without hesitation, used to holding conversations in this state. To some this behavior might seem disrespectful, but not to me. To me it seems admirable, the fact that he took on so much and yet still chooses to sit here with me. I take his picture for the article, and move on.
"I'm glad to see you're doing well. Shall we start?"
"Yeah... Let’s go"

Q: "Third Seat Hyozoku you were present in the World of the Living during the Togabito attack, is this true?"
A: "Yes sir. I had a squadron deployed for another threat in the area, when.... Kuro-san relayed to me about the threat of the Togabito. I went out immediately with no hesitation."
At the mention of his fallen comrade, Shizuka hesitates, it’s obvious to me that he has internalized the guilt for Kuro’s death. How couldn’t he? It is the fate of any Shinigami in a position of authority to feel responsible for those below them. This is a bad start for the interview, I decide to console him and hope to reset the tone.
Q: "My condolences for the loss of your comrade. Tell us, what was it like to face this threat?"
A: "........ "
A long pause is not a good sign. It becomes clear that he hasn't confronted Kuro’s death, and I conclude that he’d rather just ignore it. I get ready to ask another question, to take us in a different direction, yet just as I go to speak, I’m met with a response.
"It was kind of frightening to be honest. I’ve faced many menacing threats, but nothing on his level. It was almost like we were at his will and there was nothing we could do about it. If it weren’t for multiple interventions, I don’t think I’d be here right now."
Q: "Multiple interventions? Such as Captain Hi-"
I catch myself, unaccustomed to the Knight’s new title.
"Captain Commander Kagayaki?"
A: "Oh jeez... I forgot he is Captain Commander now. Another one gone huh?"
It seems I’m not alone. The entire Soul Society has been uprooted, of course no one is accustomed to these changes, least of all those within Tenth. Still, his question concerns me. Was he equating Kagyaki’s promotion to the death of his comrade?
Q: "Another what?"
A: "Nothing.... I’m just babbling, but yes the Captain Commander did have to come in and intervene. I was not there for the ending but, I’m pretty sure it was spectacular as always. Just like the Kōtotsu."
There’s a sense of sarcasm in his voice, perhaps covering his feelings of guilt. Was he ashamed that his Captain had to save him, that his own power wasn’t enough? The tired facade from earlier gives way to a much deeper exhaustion, and I begin to see how the Third Seat is hurting.
Q: "In the end, the World of the Living was flooded. To what extent was the collateral damage?"
A: "It was huge, its gonna take years for the living world to get back to its previous state, but this is what we’re here for"
Q: "Very true. Do you have faith in Lieutenant Fuyuko to do the job? What is it like in Tenth Division now that your Captain has moved on?"
A: "Fuyuko has always been 10th Division’s emotional leader. She’ll be just fine. I’ve just been discharged from 4th Division for minor wounds so I haven’t been back at the division yet. Can’t answer that."
Q: "Ah, my apologies. What are your own thoughts then? Do you believe Kagayaki has what it takes to fill his mentors shoes? Especially in these trying times?"
A: "Well if I know anything about Higen-sama, I would say right now he’s dreading this role and doesn’t have the faith or confidence in his own ability to fill in for the previous Captain Commander’s shoes. He constantly told stories to me and Fuyuko about his journeys as a Lieutenant under Shobatsu. He was the only man who he truly revered, someone he felt he could never surpass in his wildest dreams. Something like this was probably the last thing he expected in his tenure as 10th Division."
Another long pause. Shizuka’s eyes close, and though he isn’t asleep, his mind has drifted off. Commander Kagayaki wasn’t the only one from Tenth to be caught off guard. When Shizuka’s eyes open again, the sadness in them has disappeared, replaced now with a burning resolve. His voice raises too, a far cry from the mumblings of before, his speech impassioned.
"What I would say is..... what my Captain could never understand was the presence he had amongst the souls within the Soul Society. In my opinion he is beyond capable of being Captain Commander and filling his mentors shoes. Nothing is out of his reach. His feats speak for themselves. Even through this adversity, when has he ever not prevailed?"
I myself am moved by the Third Seat’s faith in our new Commander. Though the events that have led to it are tragic, Kagayaki’s promotion comes with a unanimous approval. Someone would have to be a fool to feel that the Hero of Soul Society was undeserving of the role.
Q: "Well put, Commander Kagayaki has earned the respect and gratitude of the Soul Society countless times, though it is unfortunate that his rise to power must be through such unprecedented means. How do you feel about the deaths of the Central Forty Six, allegedly at the hands of Commander Murasaki?"
A: "I mean it’s sickening to hear, but I’m keeping my full judgement reserved, there is always two sides to the story"
Q: "A fair way of viewing it. Having fought the Togabito and served under our new Commander, do you believe the Seireitei is prepared to face more of these threats?"
A: "I can’t speak for everyone else in the Seireitei, I know for myself personally.... I am inadequate."
The sadness from before creeps out again, only this time Shizuka is quicker to catch it. The determination he displayed for Commander Kagayaki seizes him again, his words are serious, and his tone is inspired.
"Then again, the fact that two Captains were deployed for a threat means that our ranks are slowly getting weaker and weaker. Everyone needs to get stronger by any means necessary"
With our time nearing its end, I decide to capitalize on Shizuka’s aspirational message, and begin drawing our meeting to its close.
Q: "What advice do you have for those who may have to be put in your position? Those may have to face a threat such as the Togabito, and might feel equally as inadequate?"
A: "Dig deep, never give up, and trust in your Zanpakuto…"
He places his hand on the back of his head, as though embarrassed.
"Even i’m still getting the hang of that last part."
Q: "Sound advice, thank you. What hopes do you have for the future of the Soul Society?"
A: "I think with all of the travesty that has gone by, I think we need a few years to rebuild and reevaluate ourselves. We’ve been so busy fighting ourselves, it’s time for peace. Sadly peace does not come unless we band together and stop our threats."
Q: "Coming together, a very moving notion. That brings us to our final question. Do you have anything to say to those hopeful Shinigami looking to join Tenth Division?"
A: "Show up."
The deadly intent of his words sends a chill down my spine. Before I can thank him again for the interview Shizuka rises from his chair, and walks away.
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about my next interview. The reputation of the Fourth Division’s Lieutenant, Omoni Hageshi, is one of spontaneous violence. However, this destructive inclination is what saved the lives of several Shinigami four days ago, as Omoni was allegedly the only soul who could hold down the fort at Karakura Town. She was one of the first Shinigami to Combat the Togabito, and the only Shinigami aside from Commander Kagayaki to kill one.
When I arrive to the Fourth Division barracks, I’m surprised by the stark contrast of Omoni’s office compared to the rest of the Hospital. We find ourselves in a large space, covered with wood floors and littered with training equipment. The office seems more like a training facility than a medical one, much more at home in the Eleventh Division than here. When I enter, Omoni is savagely pummeling a weighted sandbag, not noticing me at first. When she does register my arrival, it seems she takes it as a que to have a break. Removing a large cigar from her sleeve and lighting it with a surge of her Reiatsu, Omoni tends to her herbal remedy as I greet her. More fixated on her cigar, she has yet to make eye contact with me until the moment I take her picture.
"Thank you for seeing me, Lieutenant"
"Yea, yea...How long's this gonna take?
"Not long, thank you for your time. Shall we begin?"
"Have at it."

Q: "Lieutenant Hageshi, you were present in the World of the Living during the Togabito attack, is this true?"
A: "Uh huh, Wasn't 'sposed to be though."
Q: "Can you tell us what brought you there?"
A: "Had to grab a Hollow an' bring it back here so I could fix Ueku."
Q: "You had to bring a Hollow into the Seireitei? You're referring to Lieutenant Ueku of Eleventh Division?"
A: "Yea. Dumbass pulverized his own bones! Had to get the Hollow for its bones to replace 'em...but the damn thing killed itself before I could."
She exhales a deep sigh, letting forth a large gust of smoke that fills the room. Watching this, she stares intently ahead, as though reviewing the battle in her mind. I know that she is looking through me, rather than at. However, I still find myself holding my breath in fear that she’d direct her attention to me. Regardless, the interview must go on, and I swallow my fears.
Q: "I see, you’re referring to the healing capabilities of your Shikai. So that was when the Togabito arrived?"
A: "That thing popped up outta no where from some giant creepy lookin' gates."
Still distant, still reliving the battle, I can’t help but wonder what she is seeing.
Q: "What was it like?"
A: "Heh. Exciting. S'been forever since I got to tangle with somethin' like that."
buzz buzz buzz
The ringing of her denreishinki nearly causes me to jump out of my skin. However, I keep my composure, and press on. Though I’m glad Omoni hasn’t given me her full focus, I still need to keep her present.
Q: "I'm sure, I don't believe Shinigami have fought any Togabito since the time of Captain Rukia Kuchiki. Though I meant, can you describe the Togabito to us?"
A: "That bastard? Thing was skinny. It wore a dark robe and a freaky two toned mask. Brown hair...oh and it had these black chains on it's wrists."
buzz buzz buzz
Again her denreishinki goes off, only this time I’m prepared for it. The first time might have been poor coincidence, but having her ignore it a second time concerns me. What if it is another alert? What if at this very moment there was another event like the Togabito? If the Lieutenant is needed elsewhere, having her continue the interview could be costing Shinigami lives.
"Do you need to answer that?"
I ask, a little more pressing than I meant to be. Omoni takes her phone out and flips it open to glance at the screen. Once more I’m fixated on the Lieutenant, too nervous to breath. Her lip twitches and to my uttermost surprise, she chucks the phone out the window.
Q: "So what happened?"
"The phone or the Togabito?"
My attempt to get the interview back on trick only leads to more confusion. Without the denreishinki there would be no more distractions. I need to reset, and get a hold of my nerves.
"The Togabito Ma'am."
A: "It showed up and started raining hell down on us. Hard to remember everything but I know Thirteenth showed up after the Quincy did. Or was it before...?"
Q: "The Quincy were there? Do you believe they were in league with the Togabito?"
A: "Doubt it. They tried to help, but they ended up losin' a man. The Togabito went by sword eater n' when it ate Zanpakutos and Reishi then it could use their abilities. Used one of those to destroy that Quincy guy."
Q: "Did it obtain your abilities?"
A: "Yea. When I tried to save that Shin kid after he tried to charge in it took a big bite out of Namakizu. I didn't know then but that really made her mad. Plus that guy...I think he died anyway."
The casual nature of her comment exposes just how battle hardened Omoni is. She had been Lieutenant for decades now, centuries even if you count her tenure a sLieutenant of Eleventh. This was a Shinigami who saw the deaths of countless allies. Perhaps this is why she made the surprising decision to opt out of Captaincy, and instead join the Fourth Division.
Q: "I'm sorry to hear that. In the end though you were able to defeat it no? Could you tell us how?"
A: "I got real lucky when Hoshi thought to tell that Oda boy to deliver a Hollow he'd already captured. After that, the kid got there n' I had to get the rest of Thirteenth back n' then I had to go heal Jinnosuke so he could go with me to Karakura. After that...it's kinda all a big blur. I think I used Bankai n' that's never happened before."
Another startling revelation. Despite several requests from the Captains and First Division for Lieutenant Hageshi to don the Haori, she was notoriously devoid of a Bankai. The fact that she was pushed to such a limit that she was forced to unlock this newfound ability, was in itself a testament to how powerful her foe really was.
Q: "You unlocked Bankai? That's amazing! Do you think you'll go for Captaincy now? I hear you defeated the Togabito with Lieutenant Ueku, does that mean you're going for Captain of Eleventh?"
A: "Nah, I never wanted to be a Captain. Seems real stressful n' I hate stress. Plus there's all that paperwork. If I had to pick though, I was Eleventh's Lieutenant for a while under my Captain who disappeared a long time ago. I'd either go for that or Fourth if the kid died. Ha! But that's never gonna happen so long as I'm around!"
The "Kid" she is referring to is none other than Captain Nakamoto himself, Omoni’s direct superior. However, the Captain wouldn’t dare correct his Lieutenant, in fact there is likely no soul that would go unpunished by her for doing so, now that Murasaki is once more imprisoned.
Q: "Thank the Soul King you both survived then. Speaking of, the reports say that the World of the Living was flooded with some sort of blood-like substance appearing from a Garganta. Do you believe that this is linked to the Garganta we saw appear above the Rukongai?"
A: "There was a Garganta above the Rukongai?"
Though I’m meant to bring news to the Seireitei, it is always a regrettable thing when my interviews provide new information to their subjects. I’m meant to be impartial after all, and report on them to the Seireitei, not on the Seireitei to them. Generally I’d feel bad for such a slip of the tongue, but this Lieutenant is famously thick-headed.
Q: "Ah....yes, I thought you would have heard about it by now. Though I suppose the news might have been dwarfed by what happened with Commander Murasaki. What are your thoughts on the deaths of the Central Forty Six?"
A: "I didn't know much about 'em to tell ya' the truth. I wasn't around a lot but Commander Murasaki's always been a guy I respect. I doubt it's as simple as everyone's sayin' it is. We get new ones now though, right?"
Q: "That's true, any day now the newly elected representatives will arrive. Some hope they will bring an end to the turmoil we seem to have gone through this year. What hopes do you have for the future of the Soul Society?"
A: "I want peace n' quiet. It's too hard to fish with all this buzz makin' the water ripple. Whatever happens, I'm gonna do whatever it takes to protect the Seireitei."
There’s no sense of exaggeration, or even determination, in her voice. She says it so casually, as if its a matter of fact, as though she’s saying the sky is blue and water is wet. The casualness of the comment makes me believe her even more.
Q: "I know I feel safer. There are many here who owe their lives to you, whether on the field, or at the hospital in your barracks. Do you have anything you wish to say, for any hopeful Shinigami looking to join Fourth Division?"
A: "Be your best for the person you're takin' care of. Oh, and try not to let anyone die but don't beat yourself up if you do."
At this point, Omoni has finished her cigar, and gone back to brutalizing her sandbag without another glance to me. I take this as my que to leave.
"Very practical. Thanks again for the interview... "
Yet just as I reach the door, I find myself hesitating, this woman has done so much for us, and unlike Commander Kagayaki, she has managed to avoid the spotlight. I feel it is my job to give her the credit she deserves.
"... and on behalf of those you've saved, thank you Lieutenant Hageshi."
My final interview is a unique opportunity. It is not every day that someone can get an exclusive with the elusive Bloodhound: Captain Itsuki Asakura of the Seventh Division. For just over a year now, Captain Asakura has been labeled missing in action, with the majority of Soul Society assuming he was dead. The Captain had even ignored former Commander Murasaki’s summons, which meant he was either an outlaw, or deep undercover. The mystery surrounding the Captain only deepened with his rediscovery, as reports indicate he was already on scene in District 77 when the Garganta arrived. What he was doing there, where he has been, why he has returned, and his standing in the Soul Society are all questions on the front of my mind.
When I arrived at the Seventh Division, it was a somber sight. Abandoned for the better part of a year while Asakura’s “Dogs of the Rukongai” ran about on patrol, the only real action the Barracks has seen lately, was the sudden and unexpected murders of some of its lower seats, by academy instructor Enso Aikawa. However, upon my entrance Captain Asakura is already there, whistling to himself without a care. I attempt to greet the man, but he is startled, as though I had leapt from the bushes to ambush him with an interview. Had he forgotten our appointment? After all, every subject must first agree to be interviewed before I’m sent to see them. Once given some reassurance however, the Captain laughs it off, and I take my picture.
"Hello Captain, thank you for having me."
"O' course, o' course. Kakakakakaka."
"I’m sure it must be nice to be back home."
"I'll tell ya h'what I ain't never not at home. Dis 'ere Soul Society, from Seireitei to 'da Rukongai is my home. Kaaaa~"
Now it is my turn to be startled, as the Captain’s shikai takes flight, its red length of rope extending, forming a tent around us, and two stools beneath us.
"Aha, a very good way to look at it sir. Shall we begin?"
"Darn tootin', fire any which way you done do want to, bucko."

Q: "Captain Asakura, where have you been for the past year?"
A: "Straight shooter, I's likes 'dat. Unfortunately, dis old dog wasn't up too nothin' too exciting. I's had been on vacation in da country side, left 'errythang in 'da righteous hands of m'beloved late Lieutenant, Reio bless 'er soul."
Not much is known about Lieutenant Reio, other than that she was the one left in charge following Captain Asakura’s departure, and that she didn’t live long after. With the Captain’s impulsive mannerisms, its hard to tell just how much faith he had in his former Lieutenant, or if her promotion was as much of a whim as her Captain is whimsical.
Q: "That's a long time to spend in the Rukongai. Does this vacation have anything to do with the rumors of insurgencies forming in the outer districts?"
A: "Kakakaka, oh boy. I reckon them be 'da rumors of some bored lil songbirds. Ain't nothing like that happenin' way out 'der."
A curious statement, as it conflicted with some reports from the Second Division. However, there is no greater authority on the happenings of the Rukongai than the man before me, and so I pay it no mind.
Q: "I see. But something did happen four days ago. Is it true that you were in District Seventy Seven when the Garganta appeared?"
A: "KAKAKAKAKAKA. Now are we talkin' 'bout insurgencies or do you want to chat about that there pretty lil black hole that blemished my sweet home?"
I’ve been doing this long enough to know when someone is avoiding the question. After all, reports say that the Garganta opened above an insurgent camp, and confirm that the Captain was in fact there. My question was simply a preliminary one, before diving into the real subject matter, but the way that he avoids confirming even his presence on the scene is cause for concern.
"Some say both, sir."
"And some say neither, choose a lane, and we can cruise on down that there road together. I ain't opposed to talkin' 'bout both, but let's not take dinner and dessert on the same plate, ye?"
He is quick with his response this time, turning the situation around on me so that my questions appear random and unconnected. He doesn’t want me to draw the line between the two, and in doing so, confirms exactly what he is attempting to avoid. This line of questioning now takes on a far more serious tone than my last two interviews, as what I thought was going to be a simple feature seemingly turns into a conspiracy.
Q: "If there is nothing like an insurgency happening in the outer districts, then what do you have left to talk about on that matter? Why question if the Garganta was a discussion of an insurgency then? Are you confirming that the Garganta and the rumors of insurgents are related?"
A: "Are ya putting words into my mouth? Kakakaka."
The laughing is not as whimsical as before, but now takes on a much more threatening tone. I know that if I push the point too far, I’ll likely never be found again, buried somewhere deep in the furthest districts of the Rukongai. Though my journalistic nature wants me to pry deeper, I decide to steer us back on track. The best course to ensure there is no incident, is simply to be honest.
Q: "No Captain, but the people have a lot of questions. With respect sir, you say that you aren't opposed to talking, but you haven't given me a straight answer yet. Are you truly unable to confirm that you were present during the Garganta's appearance, as reported from various members of Fifth and Second Division, as well as their respective Lieutenants and Captains?"
A: "Kaaa, yer quite da little Picasso wit'dem words. Ask lil ole me if I was there, ask me about an insurgency rumor, or Hell ask me 'bout that Garganta."
He pauses for a moment before smiling, wider than before; his doggish teeth flashing an almost Chesire-esque grin as he continues.
"But ask one question at a time."
I’ve shown my hand by revealing that the Ninth Division has already read the Lieutenant’s reports, and that I have caught the Captain red handed in his deception. However, that smile makes me shrink in my seat, and it is at this point that I remember what exactly it is that I’m sitting on.
Q: "Very well. What can you tell us about that day?"
A: "Kakakakaka, now we're gettin' somewhere!"
He leans forward, a visible excitement aflutter in his big blue eyes. The way I’ve worded this question finally appears to please his sensibilities, as he is now prompted to tell me only what he wants to.
"I had been 'round yonder outskirts samplin' different berries as I do when one o' my lil puppies barked out for their dear ole Captain. 'Pparently they were havin' issues with some recently rumbling and tumblings from natural disasters and needed 'da Fifth Division to assist in the clean up so I called 'em over. That Garganta? Think o' it as a big ole vacuum. Dat frantic message? Someone apparently didn't tell no one we was doin' some landscapin' so 'da Second came just ta' make sure everything was alright. O' course as ye know we got some... wild cards mixed in our ranks right now so they got a lil riled up but they is and everything else is... Under control. "
A long winded answer, the most I’ve heard Captain Asakura speak. He thickens his accent, and talks with a casually dismissive attitude, an attempt to confuse the narrative while clearly fabricating a story. The Captain has been gone a long while from the Seireitei, no doubt living out there in the most rugged environments, but did he really think that people would be so easily fooled? Still, the emphasis of his last two words makes it clear that I’m towing the line. The Captain has made his case, the people are free to interpret it, and the facts remain. It is time for a subject change.
Q: "Speaking of issues within your Division, let me offer my condolences. Do you have anything you wish to say, in regards to the controversy surrounding Enso Aikawa?"
A: "Kaaaa..."
He pauses for a moment; his wide grin seemingly washing away like face paint leaving only a vacant, almost chillingly apathetic, expression of disassociation as he begins to speak.
"I'll tell ya h'what, Justice is... swift. Kakakakaka."
A true enough statement, as I’d later discover that Captain Asakura had, just prior to my interview with him, interrogated Enso Aikawa. After bringing forth a confession, he witnessed Enso’s execution at the hands of Captain Mukuro. With that hindsight, his giddy mood and whistling suddenly made sense.
Q: "Very well put. Unfortunately, the investigation surrounding your division was not the only mystery facing the Soul Society as of late. How do you feel about the death of your fellow Captain, Maho Kojima?"
A: "It ain't easy wearin' da weight of dis 'ere Haori."
The Captain appears to remain in a dissociative state, his answer nearly mumbled, I begin to wonder why he agreed to the interview, if he is so set on giving me nothing to work with.
"Can you elaborate sir?"
"Kaaa. Its just somethin' yer gonna have to understand for yerself when you scale these mountains and get a load of dis view."
I begin to wonder if Captain Asakura realizes he is being interviewed. Maybe he is under the impression that he is talking to just me. Maybe he really is crazy.
Q: "Thank you Captain, but I have no intention of donning the haori, though I'm sure some of our readers out there have such an aspiration. Speaking of Captaincy, what are your thoughts on the recent actions committed by, and imprisonment of, former Captain Commander Murasaki?"
A: "My thoughts? I'd say this is an investigation outside my jurisdiction & I'll wait until 'da Sixth resolve every sweet lil detail."
I’m relieved to hear that we’re back on track, with the Captain finally coming out of his dissociative state.
Q: "That is all we can do really. How do you feel then about Higen Kagayaki's rise to Captain Commander? You served under him previously, in Tenth Division, Correct?"
A: "Correct, and I ain't think there is a better man 'round that can fill the void left by Murasaki-san."
A straight answer, though a safe one. While everyone agrees that Commander Kagyaki is suited for the role, the answer isn’t so easily dismissed, as Captain Asakura once had the privilege of serving Commander Kagayaki directly. Currently, he is the only Captain to have had such an experience, making the changes in leadership more welcoming to him than most.
Q: "I'm sure the rest of Soul Society would agree with you on that one. Of course, the role of Captain Commander must still respect the judgement of the Central Forty Six. An agreement our previous Commander violated. As Captain of the Seventh Division, you precede over the entire Rukongai, how do you feel then about the reformed Central Forty Six, whose members were newly elected by Rukongai Citizens?"
A: "They ain't above the law, all I'm gonna say on that"
It certainly is an interesting shift in dichotomy, where Captain Asakura is tasked with preceding over the residents of the Rukongai, those very same residents have now been elected to preside over the Gotei Thirteen, and by extension, Itsuki himself. Given the sporadic behavior of this Captain, it’s just as likely that the Bloodhound would repeat Murasaki’s mistake, rather than learn from it.
Q: "Some hope they will bring an end to the turmoil we seem to have gone through this year. What hopes do you have for the future of the Soul Society?"
A: "Peace."
The most succinct answer yet, and I must admit I’m surprised to hear it. Despite my current unease, I can’t deny that there is a calming sensation around the Captain, a sort of addictive atmosphere that draws you into him. However, you don’t have to look too close to see that the man is raving mad, making his allure feel more like that of a Predator dangling bait in front of his prey, rather than anything comforting. I thought that of anyone, he would thrive the most in the turmoil of this chaotic shift in power.
Q: "Don't we all. Well Captain, before we go, do you have anything you wish to say, for any hopeful Shinigami looking to join the Seventh Division?"
A: "We are the dogs of the Rukongai. We will hunt down injustice without discrimination. Evildoers beware, the Bloodhound is recruiting pups to hunt you down. Are you ready to rise to this challenge? Find your local Seventh Division Recruiter today!"
The Captain completely drops his accent, revealing what I had come to suspect, that he is a man of deception and impulse, very unhinged, and very dangerous. Though I can feel myself being drawn towards him, a sort of euphoric sensation filling my body, there is a much deeper sensation, screaming from the back of my mind:Fear. I waste no time in packing up my equipment, and with a final bow, I pull myself from the Mad Captain, and resolve to never step foot in these barracks again.
"Thanks again for your time, Captain Asakura."







Walking the Empty Path Part II
By: Tenzen Oda






Fox Knight's Motivation Examination!





The Battle Scar Bazaar


Coming soon: A collaboration with Head Lieutenant Oki’s Prosthetic Limb Service, although she doesn’t know it yet.
Shoumetsu’s Battle Scar Bazaar is not responsible for any wound infections after departure, excessive bleeding, additional scars not ordered, and any causes of death that may occur.
Complaints of service or food can lead to death. So just don’t.

Enjoy your stay at the Battle Scar Bazaar!








Jatiri Yabuki’s Poem of the Month!
driven back, unbent
not a soul fled when on edge
stood and fought to live
a labored breath in then out
no honor, glory just fists

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Secrets of the Century
“What Time Reveals”
Article by Genmaru Rei

Time seems to fly when the peace of the present overshadows the horrors of the past. We have all lived under the mighty hand of Commander Kagayaki for the past century, working to rebuild what has been broken. Operations in the Soul Society have continued, every shinigami moving like a perfectly fitted cog in a well-oiled machine to keep the balance of souls. We Shinigami have experienced a century of progression, where we have seen the rise and fall of our brothers and sisters, whose sacrifices towards peace we remain eternally grateful for. Yet, why, when this peace is disturbed, when the consequences of our actions manifest, do we look for someone else to blame? To become a Shinigami is to devote your entire being to the Gotei Thirteen to uphold the balance. Unfortunately, however, some would cast aside their role as a spiritual protector, and disrupt this order for their gain.

Two weeks ago, the former Head Lieutenant, Honoka Oki, respected by her peers and revered by all who looked up to her, resurfaced from the Rukongai in chains to have her fate judged by the Commander. Over one hundred years, Honoka Oki has hidden away in the safety of her own Clan’s compound, to protect a devastating secret, one which threatens the safety and security of the Soul Society itself. Anyone that has lived under the era of Shobatsu Murasaki knows of his most treacherous act regarding the massacre of our former Central 46. Yet even while imprisoned, the former Commander’s will seems to have infected his closest subordinate, enough to cause her to break into the Muken for reasons unknown. The heroine who was applauded for her devotion to the Soul Society, in her delusions of fantasy and pleasure, has betrayed her duties to sire a child with the Warlord.
Honoka Oki was overdue to answer for her crimes, and Kyomu Mukuro was there to bring her to justice. The Phantom, known for his earlier assassination attempt against Shobatsu Murasaki, has made up for his transgressions by bringing in the convicted Honoka Oki as well as alleged conspirators, Lieutenant Katsuo Toshiyuki and Saiko Junsui of Thirteenth Division. At the site of this arrest, Akarui Gekko was also placed within the Oki Compound for unknown reasons, however, the wife of the Captain-Commander, and Third Seat of First Division, was likely acting for the good of the Gotei Thirteen. Unfortunately, Honoka would not go peacefully, and because of her resistance, Captain Mukuro was given no other choice but to force her submission. Acting to subdue the criminal, Captain Mukuro exterminated the entirety of the Oki Clan, save for the former Matriarch. While this action may be interpreted as an outlandish massacre, the souls slain did harbor a shinigami fugitive and her child for over a century. The now-former Oki Clan had followed in the footsteps of Central Forty-Six corruption and used their prestige as a way to hide from the law.

It is in the Captain’s Hall that Honoka’s judgment took place, surrounded by former peers and subordinates. The result of her treachery stood before them, a child, one not much older than the Commander’s own. Perhaps this is why Commander Kagayaki chose to show the Murasaki child mercy, taking the boy under his wing. As for the child’s traitorous mother, death would be too easy an escape. Allowing no pleasantries, the Commander instead cast the order for the Oki offender to serve the rest of her life as an academy instructor, all the while forbidding any form of contact with her son. Further, due to being found on the scene secretly interacting with the Oki Mother, Katsuo Toshiyuki, formerly Oda, has been stripped of his name by Clan Lord and Fifth Division Captain Tenzen Oda. Though it is unknown how long the Thirteenth Division’s Lieutenant had been involved in the situation, the Commander seems to believe that Katsuo losing his clan prestige is punishment enough. With the Oki Traitor restationed, the Murasaki child was taken in, and Oda Lieutenant ostracized, it seems that the secrecy of the Oki Clan has come to an end. Let this be a lesson then, to those of us who believe that time serves to wash away secrecy. Under the rule of the Shining Commander, all secrets will come to light.

A Commander’s Decree
“Let the Games Begin”
Article by Yasu Yūgure


Events never seem to cease in the Gotei Thirteen. Among the fiasco caused by Honoka Oki’s arrest and the discovery of her child with Shobatsu Murasaki, the Captains have all been assembled. All spare one that is, as Lieutenant Atsuko Ise of the Seventh Division brings forth the startling news of her Captain's death. While Captain Asakura’s body has been examined by the Fourth Division, the evidence from the autopsy is inconclusive. What information has been disclosed to the public suggests that the Mad Dog Captain was killed by an ambush. However, out of respect for a fallen soldier, friend, and comrade, the information accessible to the public is highly limited. Yet another captain has fallen, but let me reassure you, the remaining captains of the Gotei Thirteen are not ones to falter. Death is always at our doors, but we will fight until our last breath for the good of the balance.
To prove the might that each of the Gotei’s respective Captains possesses, Commander Kagayaki has issued a decree. To both boost morale and bolster our forces, he has ordered all Captains to prepare for a grand tournament, hosted by me and my division, and open to every Soul within Soul Society, known only as the Kenpachi Games. The title of Kenpachi is said to be held only by the strongest Shinigami. Primarily possessed by the Captain of the Eleventh Division, the title can only be gained by killing the previous Kenpachi in direct combat. However, since the Shattered Dimensions event, Soul Society has been without an individual bearing the title of Kenpachi for just over four centuries.
The Kenpachi Games will allow for the current Captains to show exactly why they bear the emblazoned haori, those that have been imprisoned from the Maggot’s Nest will get a chance at redemption, while denizens of the Rukongai from all walks of life can bring what they have to the table. Each path taken will intersect at the games, where the weak will be separated from the strong, and the last man standing will claim the title of Kenpachi above all others, and wield the power and prestige that comes with such a claim.
Since the Captains of the Gotei Thirteen must participate, the Phantom of the Seireitei, Kyomu Mukuro, known for his assassination skills and ghostly lack of presence will be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. In turn, the Seireitei’s Angel, Yu Nakamoto, is renowned for his kaido mastery and his kind and gentle nature, yet even quiet souls possess a monster inside of them. While the Mad Buddhist and Kido-Chief, Tenzen Oda, is known for being an abomination to what a Shinigami represents, and his mastery in spell-casting is yet another tall wall to face. The newest addition to the ranks is that woman, Omoni Hageshi, a beast that barrels down everything to achieve her victory. As for yours truly, the Seireitei’s infamous brat, Yasu Yūgure, I’m an unpredictable wildcard with tricks up my sleeve, an entity to observe closely if you can. No doubt, with a roster like this, the Kenpachi Games will go down in the books as one of the most important events in Soul Society’s history. To all participants, the Ninth Division wishes you the best of luck!
Let the games begin.
Rest in Peace Captain Asakaura.

Interviews with the Gotei 13!

For one hundred years, we’ve experienced peace under Commander Kagayaki’s rule. However, just as winter blossoms into spring, so too must summer wilt into fall. Are we now seeing signs of the changing season? The Oki Clan, a staple of Rukongai botany and medicine, was wiped out in an instance by the Killer Captain Mukuro. A dead Captain, Itsuki Asakura, was found murdered in the outer Rukongai. Now Rukongai souls are being called to action, to challenge the direct might of the Gotei Thirteen Captains and claim the title of Kenpachi all in the name of some games. Indeed, changes are stirring in the outer recesses of our great Soul Society. The ripples of falling leaves are felt even here in the Seireitei, or perhaps we are the very cause. With so many questions surrounding the Rukongai, we here at Ninth Decided to get directly involved with those who can provide answers. In this issue, we discuss the Oki Massacre, The Kenpachi Games, and the Death of a Captain, with some of the Gotei Thirteen’s most prominent souls.
My first subject is a familiar face, and yet unrecognizable through the passage of time. I first had the privilege of interviewing Honoka Oki over three centuries ago, during the three-hundredth anniversary of the Shattered Dimensions Event. Back then she was Head Lieutenant and radiated with all the power and grace of a woman afforded her position. Now though her beauty and elegance remain, there is a deep sadness when I see her face. A sense of defeat permeates her person, and yet her smile shines at me just as warm as all those centuries ago.
“I'm glad you could make it today Madam Oki.”
I say as I pull out her chair. Something about her just radiates royalty, and I feel inclined to perform for her all the etiquette she might otherwise be accustomed to.
“Thank you for having me, it's good to see you again after all this time.”
Smiling at me, she takes her seat. There’s a part of me that’s thrilled the prestigious Oki woman remembers me, but I must remind myself that I am looking not at a noblewoman, but a condemned criminal.
“Thank you, it's good to see you again as well Ma'am. A lot has changed since we both have spoken.”
I remove my camera from my bag, nervous that she may have misconstrued my comment to be about her appearance. Instead of taking offense, however, she covers her mouth with her fan and lets out a polite laugh.
“It really has, Mayakasu-san. My life took some very unexpected turns. I hope life has been fair to you since we last spoke.”
Fidgeting with my camera, I respond to her courtesy distractedly. Of all the people I have interviewed, Madam Oki always feels the most intimate, as though we were casual friends at tea, rather than journalist and criminal.
“As far as it can be, our new Captain Yugure's doing a great job.”
She doesn’t even need to adjust as I take the photo, her beauty is natural and effortless.

Q: “Tell me a little about these unexpected turns? Last we talked you were the Head Lieutenant, second only to Murasaki himself. Now rumors abound about your return to the Gotei Thirteen. We here at Ninth want to set the record straight.”
A: “Ah! Yes, Yasu-ch-- Captain Yugure's promotion was a pleasant surprise! I'm very proud of her, she's come a long way. Oh... Yes. “
She falls silent for a moment, hesitating briefly on how to continue. It’s clear the true changes, the true events that I am referring to are too tender to delve into right away. For a moment I worry that she will cancel our interview, until…she sighs softly.
“Truth be told, I never expected to become a mother, especially not at my age, much less to impact my life so drastically. It's true what they say, motherhood changes you…”
Recalling now my mention of her return, she perks up with a hint of excitement in her tone.
“Yes! I'll be a provisionary instructor at Shino Academy and I'm very excited to teach our future warriors.”
Q: “I'm sure the future is safe in your hands. Speaking of future warriors, could you tell us more about your son?”
I hate to cut straight into such a sensitive subject, but with so many questions left to cover, I know I can’t let Honoka dance around the subject for long.
A: “Masahiro he... he's a kindhearted soul. Deep down, I know he is. I-I know my actions have gravely affected him, but I hope that despite the adversity and the difficult future he has ahead of him, he will grow to be a strong man. A man the Soul Society can one day come to rely on.”
A Mother’s pride in her Son is surely a comforting thing to see, however, it feels to me that Honoka is still trying to avoid telling me something. Confirming the rumors that she did have a child out in the Rukongai was a scoop in itself, but she is surely hiding something much bigger.
Q: “Masahiro is the boy's name? Could I ask for you to answer the question on everybody's mind, and provide us with his last name?”
A: “Yes, spelled with the characters for ‘Justice’ and ‘Prospers’. Haha, perhaps it's a bit anticlimactic, but his surname is the same as mine, Oki.”
She is quick to answer this question, almost too quick. Justice Prospers? It is a name as much as it is a message, a rallying cry even. Yet, that last name, Oki. Carefully selected to conceal the boy’s heritage, but I know for a fact that the Oki is, or rather, was a matrilineal clan.
Q: “Oki? Perhaps I should rephrase the question. Forgive me for prying Ma'am, but the people need answers. Can you confirm to us who the father is?”
Shamelessly, I lose my journalistic tact and ask her my question with a bluntness that she doesn’t deserve. However, the people do.
After a moment’s hesitation, she flings open her fan and lightly begins to breeze herself.
A: “Ara, ara. I suppose I can't keep it under wraps forever, can I? I'm sure the rumor's already spread like wildfire... about the boy's father being Murasaki-san. It's true…”
I nearly jump from my chair! A million questions swarm my mind and I can barely contain myself. I know I essentially backed her into a proverbial corner, but to confirm the rumors so concretely was utterly unexpected from this usually coy woman.
Q: “The rumors are true then?! How could this be? Muraski was imprisoned in the Muken over one hundred years ago!”
A: “Haha.. Right, right. Well, Masahiro's roughly a hundred years old himself, now that I think about it. Time does blur when you live a peaceful life.”
Her polite nervousness snaps me out of my shocked state. I feel like quite the fool, lurched over my chair as I am, standing exasperated in the middle of this empty room. I quickly compose myself, before resuming.
Q: “In regards to this peaceful life, does the boy's father then explain why you hid from the Gotei Thirteen for a century?”
A: “Yes, becoming pregnant does affect one's physical abilities, I was no longer just watching out for myself. I did what I could to keep him as safe for as long as I could.”
A curious choice of words.
Q: “Safe from what? Captain Mukuro?”
A: “Hm... I think everyone knows if Captain Mukuro wanted us dead, we'd be dead. With Murasaki-san being.. himself, well, Masahiro's mere existence is deemed a threat. While I trust my mother's vision in Central 46, not everyone feels the same towards myself or my son. It's those I don't know that I don't trust.”
An interesting point to make, and equally as odd, given that her entire clan had just been slaughtered by the very man she’s defending.
Q: “That's very forgiving of you Ma'am. It is true however that Captain Mukuro attempted to take Murasaki's life, and is notoriously resentful of the former Commander. Now it would seem your fears have manifested with the Mukuro's arrival. Please, if you're able, tell us what happened at the Oki compound that day.”
A: “I like to think that grievances between them are just that.. grievances between them. Masahiro has done nothing to warrant hostility, nor is he at fault for the mistakes of his parents. Those are our burdens to bear. The Oki compound... please... don't make me relieve that so soon…”
It’s clear I crossed a line. To my surprise surrounding these events, I forget just how fresh they are in Honoka’s heart. For the second time today, I’ve embarrassed myself with my insensitivity.
Q: “I'm sorry Madam Oki, I'm sure the loss of your clan weighs heavily on you still. I apologize. It is true however that Captain Mukuro was the one responsible for your arrest, regardless of his...methods?”
A: “Thank you, I accept your apology, I know you meant no harm. It's still just very difficult to think about. As for my arrest, yes, Captain Mukuro was the one to apprehend me and bring me before the Captain Commander. I... do not... resent? Is that the right word? Well, I do not resent his methods. I've had time to reflect and have come to the conclusion that my own stubbornness and selfishness forced his hand.”
Q: “I'm glad you don't bear any hostility to the Gotei Thirteen. What of the Commander? Is it true that he has chosen to take Masahiro in as his own? Does that mean you aren't allowed to see him?”
A: “The Gotei 13 is very powerful, in itself, it is not responsible. It is the people within who have agendas. As for Commander Kagayaki, yes, Masahiro now resides with the Commander. If you ask me, there is no safer place for my son to be. It gives me a modicum of peace to know he's under Kagayaki-san's protection.”
With that, the boy’s fate is placed in the Commander’s hands. It’s good to know that the spawn of Murasaki will be kept close to the Gotei Thirteen, rather than be permitted to grow wild out in the Rukongai. The boy’s fate was not the only one connected to the Commander, however.
Q: “Speaking of protection, there are some who say that your assignment to the Third Division is too light of a punishment. While many still view you fondly from your tenure as Head Lieutenant, others call you a traitor and believe you should be sentenced to the Nest of Maggots, if not worse. What do you say to those who are critical of the Commander's decision to reinstate you within the Gotei Thirteen?”
A: “Perhaps in my youth, I would have agreed with them, but what use would I be to the Soul Society as a prisoner or dead? When you're in a position of power, you must consider any and all assets. The Gotei 13 is still standing strong despite my time away. I could have fled to the world of the living, instead, I sought refuge in my own home, in the Rukongai. If they believe the Commander's decision to be foolish, then they are only seeing a small fraction of the picture. We don't yet know the full scope of powers of our enemies, because of this I also believe we must prepare for the worst.”
Correcting my posture, I swallow my nerves as I begin to ask the hard question.
Q: “While that's true Ma'am there are some who say that you are the enemy. How can we know that you won't release Shobatsu, or otherwise betray the Gotei Thirteen again?”
Though I can barely stand to look her in the eye, Honoka meets my gaze with a softness that puts me at ease. Despite it all, her presence is a comfort.
A: “If I was the enemy, I would have already been executed, don't you think? I suppose there isn't a surefire way to know such things, and I doubt my word means anything to most people nowadays. It will be a long journey to regain everyone's trust I've lost. I have faith such a time will come.”
Q:” I'm sure you'll get a chance to prove it in your time as an instructor at Shino Academy. Before we go, is there anything you wish to say to those out there in the Rukongai who are considering applying to be a Shinigami?”
The tension in the room immediately dissipates, replaced now instead with palpable excitement.
A: “Yes, I'm looking forward to my tenure at the academy! Ah, yes, please, don't hesitate to apply. There is a place for you in the Gotei 13. If you love helping people, we can help you grow to be the best version of you to help and support your comrades in your division or other divisions. Don't let any insecurities hinder you from becoming the best version of you you can be! I'll be looking forward to sharing my wisdom with every one of you. I'll be waiting!”
Her positivity infiltrates my every defense, and I can’t help but smile at her.
“Thanks for your time today Ma'am, for what it's worth, I'm glad you're back.”
I bow to her as I pack up my equipment, and to my surprise, she bows in return.
“Thank you as well. I look forward to reading your article.”
My next interview is with another SCC alumni. The former Fourth Division Lieutenant now turned Captain of Eleventh Division, Captain Omoni Hageshi. Notorious Togabito slayer, Omoni has been sought after as a Captain for centuries, even being encouraged to do so once by Shobatsu Murasaki himself. With everything going on in the Rukongai and even the World of the Living, as well as with the Kenpachi games on the horizon, what better opinion to get than that of the Eleventh Captain herself?
“Thanks for having me Captain Hageshi.”
The Captain offers me little more than a familiar grumble. When we had last met, she’d been in the same position then that she found herself now, albeit in dirtier and bloodier attire. In the past one hundred years, there hadn’t been much of an alteration to her appearance besides looking a bit older and now. Well, that and wearing the sacred garment that she had publicly sworn she would never acquire of her own volition, the Captain’s Haori. Despite it all, the stern glare of her cerulean orbs remains the same as ever and locks onto me as though she were a Predator rather than a guest.
“You again, huh? Alright…let’s get this over with.”
What a cold contrast to my previous interviewee. I know better than to waste any more of this woman’s time than I absolutely need to.
"Will do. Congratulations on your promotion to Captaincy by the way."
I say as I take out my camera, hoping the praise of her newfound position will distract her from whatever reaction she might otherwise have to get her picture taken.
“Thanks. S’kinda wild ‘cause it sorta just happened after I had that fight with the snake. Once it was over they handed me the coat n’ told me I was captain of the eleventh. Bet the kid’s pissed, we ain’t been able ta’ talk much since.”

Q: You're saying Captain Nakamoto does not support your promotion?
A: “ Uh. I dunno’. I mean…”
The monster pauses for a moment and her naturally intense facial expressions soften into something that indicates she is deep in thought. Ordinarily, Hageshi was not one to pay mind to things she deemed needless or inconsequential which could be just about anything when it came to her. In this case, it would seem the act of revealing exactly what she thinks and precisely how she feels is what causes her to hesitate.
As if a crack had opened in her armor, I’m afforded a tiny glimpse into the heart of the beast. I can tell by her change in disposition that something about the relationship between her and Captain Nakamoto causes her to drop her guard.
“Like I said, we ain’t been able ta’ say much ta’ each other, stuff happened so fast n’ we never really got ta’ talk a lot even when I wasn’t a capt’n. We were always missin’ one another n’ leavin’ when one of us returned n’ returnin’ when one a’ us left. Hell, I hope he’s proud a’ me. I think he’s proud a’ me but it feels cold cause I ain’t been able ta’ explain it all ta’ him yet.”
It’s strange to see such a tough character now act so sensitive. I can’t help but console her.
Q: "I'm sure he is proud of you, Captain Nakamoto seems like a forgiving guy. Tell me then, if not your Captain, what pushed you to test for Captaincy? Why now?"
A: “I got a note tellin’ me to be at the valley a’ screams to fight some big shot. Then I went toe ta’ toe with the snake n then I was a captain. Just like that. Not like I meant it ta’ happen! Good thing I did though, looks like they needed me ta’ fix up the place.”
Although the test had been official in all considerable capacities, Omoni Hageshi would seem to forever believe her ascension to have been an accident. Based on her reputation of stubbornness, I doubt there's a soul that exists who could change her mind.
Q: “A Captain of the Eleventh Division has been long overdue, and I'm sure we're all feeling a little stronger knowing it's you. Tell us, what do you see for the future of Eleventh?”
A: “What else?! I’m gonna make sure these sacks a’ crap shape up n’ snap ta’ attention! I’m gonna build the biggest n’ baddest army the Soul Society’s ever SEEN! I’m gonna carve order into the foundation of my division n’ mold us inta’ the BACKBONE a’ the Seireitei! We ain’t mindless brutes lookin for our next fight’n fix no more. We got purpose now n’ we’re gonna be an unstoppable force!”
The more that the Captain speaks about her ideals the higher the rate of her reiatsu’s inadvertent exertion rises. This results in the earth at our feet beginning to separate and even rise slightly into the air, void of the pull of gravity. After having been interviewed before, Omoni is well aware that what she said just now would be published and read by nearly every being in the Soul Society, and this seems to be a message that she wants us all to get.
Q: "That's reassuring to hear! The people need a sign of strength, especially after the death of a Captain. How do you feel about what happened to Captain Asakura?"
A: “Never met the guy, sad day for those who did I ‘spose. Truth is, we all die one day though. Now the one who killed ‘im, that’s someone I wanna fight. Must be pretty strong ta’ bring down a Captain.”
Q: "You're not concerned that there's a threat out there capable of killing a Captain?"
A: “I ain’t scared a’ nothin’ like that.”
Of course not. I feel foolish for even asking such an obvious question, but in this line of work, sometimes the obvious questions provide the most interesting answers.
Q: "It seems you're not the only one that welcomes a challenge. How do you feel about the Commander's decision to call for these so-called Kenpachi Games?"
A: “It’s gonna be a blast! All a’ us captains crossin’blades n’ clashin’ fists! S’ everythin’ I coulda’ wanted n’ more but…I think it’s also the old man’s way a’ gauging how powerful we really are so he knows where we stand when all those storms come. There’s always storms.”
Even the otherwise ignorant Omoni can feel the threat brewing in the wind. It seems all of Soul Society is bracing for some unseen impact. Still, Omoni’s battle sense is uncanny, it’s likely that as Captain of Eleventh she knows something we don’t.
Q: "What sort of storm do you feel is coming?"
A: “A big one. Worse than the worst natural disaster ya’ could think of. Ain’t nothin we can’t handle though. That storm’s gonna wish it never showed up.”
Q: “Are you confident in Eleventh's ability to handle this 'Big Storm'?”
A:“ No doubts here. By the time I’m through with ‘em, ain’t no one they won’t be able ta’ handle.”
Q: "Are you also as confident that the title of Kenpachi will fall upon your shoulders, or at least return to the roster of Eleventh Division?"
A: “ It’s gonna go where it belongs. I ain’t doin’ this for the title but I ‘spose if I end up with it that’d be okay. There’s gonna be lots a’ strong players n’ some a’ us are prolly gonna die n’ I get a real thrill not knowin’ what’s gonna happen ta’ me.”
How confident, the woman’s unwavering bravado seems contagious, as I feel roused to action, confident in her ability to achieve anything she desires.
Q: "Well, I'm excited to watch you out there. One last question Captain, is there anything you'd like to tell those souls that aspire to join Eleventh Division?"
A: “Yea. Listen up! I’m lookin for the most dangerous a’ you out there! If yer’ lookin’ for a new lease on life it’s here in the eleventh division! The soul society needs ya so get yer’ asses in gear n’ join up! We’ll turn ya’ into a fightin’ machine n’ together we’ll make our enemies rue the day they were born!”
Striking a pose, the Amazonian Captain stares down some unknown assailant. She hardly notices as I pack up my gear.
“Congratulations again Captain. I know I'm probably supposed to route for my own Captain Yugure, but between you and I, I'm betting on you.”
I stop in the doorway, turning to face her with my last words. It isn’t until now that she drops her inspirational pose, replacing her bravado with a boisterous laugh.
“Hahahahaha! Y’know what, You’re alright reporter guy!”
With the celebration of one captain, comes the mourning of another. Captain Asakura, known as the Mad Dog of the Rukongai, was found dead out in the further reaches of his jurisdiction. The one to find his body, discarded like his namesake, was Itsuki’s very own Lieutenant, Atsuko Ise. Now responsible for the unfortunate burden of leading the Seventh Division, Lieutenant Ise was kind enough to accept our interview, and sign some light on the unnerving mystery surrounding the death of a Captain.
“Thank you for joining me today, Lieutenant Ise.”
Adjusting her glasses, the Lieutenant’s composure is faultless as she takes a seat.
“Of course, it's my pleasure.”
Before I get out my equipment, I give the woman a polite bow. Learning from my interview with Honoka, I choose the sensitive route and place comfort over professionalism.
“Let me start by saying that I'm sorry for your loss.”
The Lieutenant does not falter, likely having had to respond to this very same sentiment countless times by now.
A: “Thank you. It was certainly unexpected and sad, but our Division must continue to move forward for the sake of the Rukongai.”
She speaks with an apathetic tone, whatever emotion she had surrounding the event long since drained from her. Unflinching, she removes her glasses to clean them as I take her picture.

Q: “How is Seventh Division holding up after the loss of Captain Asakura?”
A: “Our Division was certainly shocked with the news and even in a state of dismay the day that we found the Captain. However, Seventh is now just as strong as they were before, if not stronger. The loss of Captain Asakura did not shatter us, instead, it made us unite to an even higher level than before.”
Q: “I'm sure the Soul Society is glad to hear that. The strength of the Seventh Division affects us all, from the Gotei Thirteen to all the souls out in the Rukongai. Could you tell us, what is the state of the Rukongai following the Captain's Death? Has violence risen before these Kenpachi Games? Especially in the outer districts?”
A: “We intend to carry out our duties to ensure that the Gotei Thirteen and Rukongai stand strong. Right now... The Rukongai is in a peculiar state. It's not total anarchy, but it's no utopia, either. Many have taken note of the fact that a Captain died and that his assailant likely came from the Rukongai. In a twisted way, this gives inspiration to the more violent residents. Unfortunately, the Kenpachi games have amplified this, but these instances of violence are an isolated matter—and they have mostly occurred in the outer districts, too.”
It's a strange sensation to hear so much about the Rukongai. My last interview with Captain Asakura, unfortunately, did nothing to paint a picture of life outside the Seireitei’s walls.
Q: “It's good to hear an honest report on the state of our Rukongai, your former Captain was never quite so forthcoming when it came to answering questions. The outer districts have always been a violent place, their distance from the Seireitei makes them hard to regulate, as you well know. Is it true that the Captain's body was found within one of these outer districts?”
A: “I figure that it's important to be honest. Nothing good comes from deception or sugar-coating things. Captain Asakura and I had similarities, yes, but we're different people. The outer districts have always been violent, this is true, but under the rule of Captain Asakura, this violence only became worse and oftentimes more secretive in nature. I can and will certainly divulge the fact that the Captain's body was found in an outer district, however, I will not say which one.”
There’s that Seventh Division secrecy. Though this time, it’s clearly for the protection of the Rukongai citizens, rather than the obscuring of the truth.
Q: “It's understandable that you wouldn't be able to tell us. I'm sure there are many out there that seek to avoid this district, and perhaps others too that would celebrate it. What can you tell us about Captain Asakura's death?”
A: “I appreciate you not pressing the matter, as it can only lead to more danger. Captain Asakura was found in a state unbecoming of a Captain. His body was in tatters, blood coated his skin, and mud had been smeared all over his body—which sullied his haori, too. Based on the injuries he received, this was not a surprise attack that ended him in one move. It's more likely that the attack itself was sprung on the Captain without a moment's notice, but the evident signs of a struggle on his corpse suggest that he put up a fight, yet the enemy was too much for even him to handle.”
Once again I am nearly taken from my seat in shock. This time, however, I handle myself with composure, not seeking to startle the Lieutenant or otherwise cause her to hesitate in divulging her thoughts.
Q: “You're saying that it was not an ambush as the autopsy report suggests, but rather a fight?”
A: “I certainly believe so. This is not to say that the Fourth Division hasn't done their job right, however. My analytical skills have led me to the answer I just gave. Keep in mind that Captain Asakura himself was a renowned inquisitor, and he embedded the skills he employed within me. A single attack simply couldn't have left the Captain's body in such a state. There are too many questions that have yet to be answered to firmly say that Captain Asakura was put down by an ambush as opposed to dying in a fight.”
Q: “So there is a force out there in the Rukongai that is capable of killing a Captain in direct combat? How does Seventh Division intent to handle this threat?”
A: “I will not lie, yes, this force is lurking within the Rukongai. There is a high probability that it will not strike again for some time, though. This in and of itself is worrisome. Rest assured, however, that the Seventh Division will stop this threat. And as to how we will deal with it falls directly on me. Before this threat can reemerge, I plan to become the Captain of Seventh Division so that I can confront it head-on and eradicate it.”
It would seem the implications of the information the Lieutenant divulged were beyond Atsuko’s scope of reasoning. If there’s something out there that even the Seventh's Captain couldn’t handle, how could that Captain’s division eradicate it on their own? Still, at least Lieutenant Ise has the confidence to try.
Q: “Well, I'm rooting for you, Lieutenant. However, isn't a power like this exactly what the Commander wishes to bring to light with the Kenpachi Games?”
A: “Thank you, your words are kind. Yes, I am certain that the Commander intends to bring this power to light with the establishment of the Kenpachi Games. This was not a random move on the Commander's part, either. Every decision he makes is one that I respect and do not disobey. Whoever takes on the mantle of Kenpachi will prove to be one of the greatest—if not the greatest asset to the Soul Society in terms of power. Despite this, however, I have no intentions of making use of such a power when confronted with the force that ended Captain Asakura's life. Seventh Division owes the handling of this threat not only to Captain Asakura but to the Soul Society as a whole. If we cannot take care of it ourselves, then our Division's name will forever be tarnished.”
The true reason for Atsuko’s optimism is now laid bare. The Lieutenant believes that Seventh can handle this threat because they must handle it. Curious though that she would refuse help from the would-be Kenpachi. It could be that her pride has caused her to refuse any outside help on the matter.
Q: “What is your opinion of the Games then? You claim you wish to be a Captain and fight the very threat that killed your Captain. All the Captains and most likely the Rukongai's strongest will both be found there. Do you intend on participating?”
A: “The games hold merit, this much I agree on. However, this does not apply to me specifically. To clarify, I mean that the games will undoubtedly determine who the strongest people are within the Seireitei. I, however, do not need to participate in a game to reaffirm how strong I am. If I participated, it would not be done for the right reasons, which also makes it pointless for me to enter them. On top of this, I cannot participate while this threat looms in the distance. If I did so, it would be a disservice to the people of the entirety of the Soul Society.”
It’s a curious answer, as the Lieutenant seems to be focused more so on her perception of herself rather than the Soul Society’s perception of Seventh as a whole. Surely entering the games would confirm her ability to handle this threat to all who watched. What’s more, the likelihood of a Captain-Killing-Class of fighter showing up in the games was incredibly high, the confrontation Atsuko seeks may be within the very event she wishes to avoid. Still, if such thoughts are distractions to her, then she should have a clear head.
Q: “I suppose you should focus on keeping the Soul Society safe, especially since the Seventh Division has been tasked with running security for the games. With the event being held so far out in the Rukongai, and with everyone's attention on the games, do you fear an attack on the Seireitei, or perhaps the Games themselves?”
A: “That's a great question, truly. While I do not expect an attack to befall the Seireitei nor the Games, this is only temporary. At some point, the Seireitei will undergo an attack, we can infer this solely based off of Captain Asakura's death. As for the Games specifically, I doubt that a foe would be foolish and arrogant enough to make themselves known. They are waiting for a prime opportunity to strike, and despite the Games potentially being one, they are simply a double-edged sword. With many healers—especially Captain Nakamoto—believing that they can strike when we have wounded fighters would lead them to death. Nothing more than a scratch when Captain Nakamoto handles it. Despite my inferences, I will not rule out the possibility of an attack during the games, though. Know that we will all be ready at a moment's notice.”
Q: “Thank you, Lieutenant. Before we go, is there anything you want to say to those hopeful of joining the Seventh Division?”
A: “Yes, there is. If you wish to join the Seventh Division, understand that sacrifice will be necessary. Death is inevitable, but even so, we must continue to move forward for the sake of the Soul Society. Should you be willing to put your life on the line for the sake of everyone, then come and join us. If you decide to join, then dedicate your heart.”
With that, she turns from her seat and heads towards the door to leave. As I pack up my equipment I look up to her silhouette in the doorframe and call out.
“Thank you again, Lieutenant Ise, and good luck.”

Thank you, monthly subscriber!


Once again, the Shinigami
Women's Association
has been able to do the things we've planned because of your continuous support throughout these trying times. This particular edition of the SCC will include five free months from its release date that follow the rest of the calendar year. Although the theme is summer, perhaps even these pictures will remind you of sunny days even during winter! Features from Captain Yūgure, Head Lieutenant Kasumi, Third Division's Oki, Captain Hageshi, and Seventh Division's Hoshi are included in this month's special edition, picture credits to Lieutenant Ise. As always, the Shinigami Women's association will always be thankful for your contributions and do our best to keep our patrons ready for the next issue. While providing entertainment and enjoyment, please be mindful that our services to the Gotei Thirteen will come first. If you have any suggestions or inquiries, please come to the Publishing Building located in the Northeast Seireitei in the Ninth Division so that Captain Yūgure can review it and take it into consideration. We'll see you in the next edition of the Seireitei Communication Column!

Walking the Empty Path
By Tenzen Oda


There are many sutras that I recite depending on the occasion, however, the one most important to me is the one I recite before the battle. The Heart Sutra, is very near and dear to me as it speaks about the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of existence: form, feeling, volitions, perceptions, and consciousness. It is this same emptiness that is personified through my Zanpakuto, my mind, my heart, and my soul. With this emptiness, I can perceive the world around me with clarity. With such clarity I can rely on the perfection of wisdom, the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment, thereby achieving nirvana. It is such a train of thought that allowed me to reach my enlightened state. Below I will write down the Heart Sutra, in its entirety, perhaps some of you will find a place in your lives for this Sutra as I did.
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, while dwelling in the deep Perfection of Wisdom, sees clearly that the five skandhas are all empty and is thus freed from all suffering. Oh, Shariputra. Form is not different from emptiness; emptiness is not different from form. Form is indeed emptiness; emptiness is indeed form. Feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness are also like this.
Oh Shariputra, all dharmas have the nature of emptiness. They neither arise nor perish; they are neither impure nor pure; they neither increase nor decrease. Thus in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no mental formations, no consciousness. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no objects of mind. No sensory realms or mind-consciousness realm.
There is no ignorance, and no end to ignorance. There is no old age and death, and no end to old age and death. There is no suffering, no arising, no cessation, and no path. There is no wisdom and no attainment. As there is nothing to be attained, the Bodhisattva abides in the Perfection of Wisdom, and has a mind free of hindrances. Because the mind is free of hindrances, it is fearless. Having transcended all illusions, the Bodhisattva finally transcends... Nirvana.
All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future follow the Perfection of Wisdom and thus realize unexcelled perfect Enlightenment. Thus know that the Perfection of Wisdom is the great holy mantra. It is the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the incomparable mantra that removes all suffering. It is true, not illusory. Therefore, say the mantra of the Perfection of wisdom.
Thus, recite the mantra.
gate gate paragate (gone, gone, gone beyond,) parasamgate bodhi svaha." (gone totally beyond, Enlightenment, hail)

This Sutra is always recited in my mind or out loud before any battle I partake in, however, it is not something tethered to battle alone. It can be said as a morning ritual, before going to sleep, a way to help meditation, or as a tool to help practice mindfulness. If you would like me to speak on more Sutra’s feel free to contact me about the subject and I shall include it in my next article.
Kido Spell of the Month: Hadō #63. Raikōhō (雷吼炮, Thunder Roar Sear; Viz "Fiery Lightning Howl")
Incantation: Sprinkled on the bones of the beast. Sharp tower, red crystal, steel ring. Move and become the wind, stop and become the calm. The sound of warring spears fills the empty castle.


Fox Knight's Motivation Examination!
It's that time once again and this time one of our readers came in with a doozy reason for why they do what they do, none other than Lieutenant Kyoshi has provided the topic today and The Topic of the examination today; Law. Why is law such an inspiration to some, including him? Well… some seek to keep our laws the same, others to change them… Law can inspire people in a multitude of ways, depending on the person, their past and how they dealt with it, and sometimes even family and honor can influence how people feel about Laws. Here is how the Interview with the Law-inspired 9th Division Lieutenant went!
Q: "So, Lieutenant Kyoshi, what exactly is it about the Law that inspires you to continue with your duties?"
A: "My family was killed by a group of bandits that I still seek to hunt. For the past hundreds of years I've been haunted by their late memory...I act as an Adjudicator to be a balancer for all. An equalizer so that no man woman or child should come to feel my pain."
Q: "I see! Is there anything you'd like to say to those who feel the opposite? Anything to inspire them to feel the same way as you?"
A: "I can't encourage people to take heed to the law as I have. But what I can tell them, a life lead honorably is a life led responsibly. Honor does come in various forms, it's just up to us to decide which side of it we stand on."
Q: "Interesting Lieutenant. Not naming names, but some people have a hard time with separating Morals and Duty. Do you have any words for those struggling with such a thing?"
A: "I see....well. it's quite alright to have morals. They help cement the foundation of who we are and who were are to become. While it can be difficult to separate the love for duty and the sanctity of your own personal beliefs. You must always remember that you are an agent of your duties, and your own morals and biases may impede you on performing in a just way. If you still find yourself caught in a rock and a sharp place, maybe it would be best to find new duties all together."
"Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, and a hard part of your past. It is never easy sharing something traumatic like that for anyone."
Shuskue then says to me:
"Thanks for having me! And I wish you well in your own endeavors."
Before the interview, This Knight has learned how Law can be destructive, and how it can be beneficial. Why don't we look at the causes of both?
So you're ever the faithful soldier; good. You Obey your Laws to the tee and see no problem with doing so. They are set in place to protect you and others, and keep you in line, because hey, even in the human world, nobody wants Two Hots and a Cot. That's slang for two free hot meals and a free jail cell with room and board. Man, them human prisoners get treated pretty well don't they? I guess so. Hah, anyway.
Freedom is… honestly Freedom doesn't come free, it comes with concerns and consequences that could affect the things and people around you, too much freedom can be a bad thing… given our recent events. For those who do see it, Laws are put in motion to keep us safe or to keep soldiers in line for battle. If one soldier turns tail and runs, others might follow their example, and Chaos will ensue, not to mention you have lost the battle…
Yes indeed, Laws are important, perhaps just as important as the topic of our previous and first issue, Individuality. While we are here, let's discuss the difference between Moral and Law. A Moral is a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. A Law is a Law, and should be obeyed… no matter what… but a person's Morals and beliefs can weigh heavily upon that factor… for instance, our Honorable head captain himself spared the lives of several, including children because he refused to kill children… but our Laws state that all rogue shinigami are traitors, and must be killed… including potential future Shinigami that may become proud brave warriors of our… long dated society.
Which begs the question of if we should let our Laws decide the fates of those so young and full of spirit… After all… setting an example for the youth of our future should be put into better perspective, should it not? Without them, who's to say we'll continue to have such strength? Morals, or beliefs; These things can make or break a person struggling with seeing Law and Order as a good thing…. But it also depends on the Laws too, and how they are carried out.
No matter what one's perspective on Law and Order is, one who works to carry out those orders and consider them their job, should not be labeled a bad person for simply doing their job… after all, they are people with feelings too. You never know what they may be going through, unless you see our world in their shoes. Emotions on the job can be harder to control for others, especially those who've been through a wild roller coaster of them. Oh, sorry. A roller coaster is a festival ride that slides on a track and you put your hands in the air to make it go!
I, For one, am proud and Happy with our new Head Captain; I can see him giving many of us inspiration to continue to fight the good fight. This is Fox Knight, and the Motivation Examination… remember, do your best to Obey the Laws set out by our Seireitei, no matter how hard it can be sometimes… but also remember to stay true to who you are as a person, and don't try to ever be somebody you are not…


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