Smoke obscured the air, swirling and dancing in tune to the flow of storm-like spiritual energy potent enough to disrupt the order of the world. Light gleamed in the haze, a brilliant azure pushing through all adversity and diming all in its vicinity.

The winds raged, the smoke swirling in tandem, taking shape into a feral wolf, boring down on those before it. Eyes of apathy. Teeth like swords.

A long howl echoed before the image of the wolf condensed inward and funneled into a swirling pillar focused on the origin.

'Rip and tear.'

The air shuddered; the clouds to part, the white sand to disperse into tiny motes amidst the clanging of chains, followed into silence.

The smoke cleared; the obscurity revealed under the chill of fierce wind.

Coyote's hair had grown long, flowing behind her well past her knees. The last remnants of her Hollow Bone fragments had disappeared, leaving behind a coldly apathetic and unblemished face. Blue fang-shaped facial marks streaked from the side of her eyes like tears representing the despair of solitude. On her person, long flowing tufts of fur lined the outline of a gray vest wrapped snug over her long coat, the tails flickering in the breeze.

Black thigh-length rider boots adorned her legs, reaching up to a denim coloured skirt, riveted with bone fragments on the ends. Star-shaped spurs jutted out from the back of each of her heels, and at the center of her chest across the vest she wore, the insignia of a wolf's maw was etched in crimson red. On her back, a wolf's tail swished behind her, a similar pair of wolf ears folded up in an almost subdued manner atop her head.

Coyote remained in a crouch, one leg tucked beneath her while the other had its knee up to support one of her arms. Held in each hand were two distinct firearms. In her left was a modified Remington 870 model, lacquered in wood grain color, and streaked with the flame-like pattern of Lilynette's helmet piece. In her right, a long barreled sniper rifle sleek in design and without any additions aside from the overall shape resembling a poised talon.

On the handle of each firearm, long broken chains dangle freely.

Coyote let out a breath, standing onto her feet all at once and losing any notion of Starrk's laid back attitude. Her eyes locked onto Lille who didn't bother striking her throughout the entire transformation.

Was it arrogance? Pride? Honor? Or perhaps none of those at all?

"Am I supposed to be impressed?" Lille scoffed from afar, a derisive air in his demeanor and speech. "An envoy of God need not lower himself to look upon those beneath it as equal."

It was blatant disregard.

Wordlessly, Coyote glanced up, her long hair lifting high. She'd said it before, but Lille talked too much. Raising her left arm up, she aimed without fanfare.

"Do you never learn?" Lille hardly reacted if at all, choosing to aim his wings forward and charge his own attack. "The power bestowed upon me by-"

Lille abruptly frowned, cutting himself off. Although he was prideful, he was no fool. As the Captain of the Upper Echelon, he possessed both frightening battle instinct and awareness.

The chains adorned on Coyote's left gun clinked and clacked, the motion seemingly mundane, but Lille felt it.

This was different.

Something had fundamentally changed in the method of attack.

This was when Lille realized it, the difference.

Before, when Coyote aimed and fired her guns, there would be an effect on the area around her, but this time, there was absolutely nothing. No indication of the level of the attack's output, nor the type of projectile attack it would be. Fast, slow, moderate? There was no tell. Only the assurity in Coyote's eyes spoke of her confidence.

Those eyes…

For a second, it reminded Lille of the indifference found within the gaze of his own lord.

He shook his head, and gritted his teeth. The power of the X-Axis was with him. Through it, he could pierce through anything he could see and perceive, making him invisible in battle. No. No.

No one was his better. No one was his match. He was-

"Howl."

Coyote whispered mutedly, the shotgun pointed forward with a single arm rapidly heating into a verdant green over the muzzle. The trigger pulled.

Click.

"Left Fang: Lilynette."

There was no sound, no explosion. The space itself that Lille's body was occupying just vanished, and parts of Lille's body along with it as he barely registered the instinct to move.

"That's not-"

Coyote fired again, the range of space eaten disappearing in a wide scatter shot pattern. This was the nature of how Coyote figured she'd be able to wound her enemy by not striking Lille himself, but the space he occupied.

The principle of this attack was that you couldnt phase through what wasn't there. By blasting through space itself, an area akin to the nether reaches of the Dangai which no one could exist within was created, tearing anything apart into their base forms and snuffing out even that.

Blood spurted out of Lille's mouth, parts of his exposed wings clipped and featherless from a further barrage of unseen bullets and shrapnel.

It was the first injury Coyote had landed in the entire bout, but she didn't take heart. Coyote narrowed her eyes. Like she'd thought, it wasn't enough.

Lille possessed the same sort of regenerative capability as Pernida. The parts trapped in eaten space could be utterly destroyed, but it didn't mean that everything was destroyed. The hole in space was only created for the fraction of a second Coyote's fang pierced through.

Bits and pieces of white flesh that composed Lille's body lingered in the empty space, and from there, they rapidly healed to reveal Lille panting for breath.

"Y-You hit me?" His voice was baffled, unwilling to concede the result of the attack. And immediately countering with his own. Several beams of light criss-crossed and intersected towards a motionless Coyote.

One pierced her shoulder, the other her stomach, and the one aimed towards her head was dodged by a subtle tilt. Blood trickled down the side of her lips from internal injury, but she hadn't moved for a reason.

A tradeoff.

"See! A mistake. A mistake was all that was. I wasn't ready. I wasn't prepa-"

"Pierce."

Coyote shifted guns, swinging her left arm back and shifting her right arm forward in its place. The bolt action rifle leveled its form forward, its sleek barrel quickly heating up into a fiery blue.

"Right Fang: Starrk."

Fast. No. It was instant.

Lille's head splattered into pieces, the air and fragments left behind in the empty space vacuumed into a .905 caliber bullet hole fracturing reality and leading into a black void. Not only did the empty space not disappear, but it funneled everything around it into it like a black hole.

Unlike the last time, Lille's parts wouldn't be coming back.

Both of them staggered at the mutual exchange, Coyote not letting out a single grunt or groan. A small hole had pierced through her shoulder and a wide area of her stomach. Blood dripped ceasely over the wounds, seeping into her clothing and drying into uggly scabs. Yet, this mattered little to her.

Coyote inwardly grimaced, trying to move her left arm and noting its lack of mobility. As for her stomach injury, she focused and coated it in a thin layer of spiritual energy to stem the bleeding.

In comparison, Lille had veins popping over his body, a new head sprouting from what was left of his now noticeably smaller figure.

Was the exchange worth it?

Well, from a logical perspective, and Coyote's own sense of battle awareness, no. No it was not. She'd lost part of her mobility, and used a considerable amount of spiritual energy to fire both Lilynette and Starrk consecutively. Then, she was purposely injured in order to land her own blows. Her usefulness in the coming battle would be hindered unless she could get that human healer to look over her. As for asking the Shinigami? She'd rather go to hell.

Regardless, the result of the exchange was as intended.

Lille was seething, spiritual energy rapidly gathering around him in bulk and reaching terrifying levels. The wounds on his person, and even the missing parts sucked away were being recreated right before Coyote's eyes, her lip twitching.

'It really wasn't worth it,' she inwardly grimaced, but chanced a glance at the inconspicuous form of the Spirit that had offered to lend its aid. 'This better work.'

"I am the final Quincy upon whom His Majesty bestowed his power!" Lille growled, parts of his body convulsing as it morphed and changed. "I am his ultimate creation. Closer to God than any other man- For one such as myself to be forced into this form for a mere Hollow is tantamount to heresy!"

Lille's body contracted and drastically reduced in size. His features changed in accordance. His complexion had grown fair, slicked-back hair sprouting atop his head. His eyes, nose, and mouth now resembled that of an owl, a long beak over his face. The Heiligenschein atop his head (The Halo) shrunk in size and gained pointed spikes. Lille's neck is elongated, resembling the body of a snake with white fur on its back. His wings morphed into that of bat's instead of an angel's, tapering to points and losing their feathery shapes. In addition, his shoes expanded dramatically in horizontal length, giving him the appearance of a centaur while his eyelids now opened and closed horizontally instead of vertically.

Around Lille, the wind began to pick up into a terrible storm.

Raising her good arm over her face, Coyote squinted through the gales, not a tinge of emotion bleeding into her features, ikring Lille all the while. Could she not feel this power? This strength that none but the King could match?

Those eyes, were they not making a mockery of him?

Lille's demeanor deteriorated as he sneered.

Look and behold!

It is he who is uninjured, he who is unblemished, he who is whole whereas Coyote had blood splattered all over her! This was the gap! The disparity between a greater being and an ant!

Lille raised a finger up on a scrawny white arm, light gathering into several bands that formed the shape of a striated concave bowl at his finger tip.

"Hear the Trumpet of God!" Lille declared and channeled his energy. Already he'd wasted too much time on this battle. That woman, that traitor of a Quincy, had to be dealt with first beyond all others.

Cold unfeeling eyes continued to stare down at Lille. It was that stare, that disregard that irked him more than he could truly describe. It was like standing in the presence of the God of your faith, and conducting acts of sacrilege.

'Light generation' he inwardly intoned, a large ball of light adding to his gathered strike.

"No mortal can withstand the fury of a God's Envoy!" Lille's other arm came up now, and synchronized his amassed attack with that of the first. He would end it now in this single strike! This single instance! "You will perish in this light's holy radiance!"

Subtly, Coyote tugged on an object she'd been keeping concealed within her inner coat.

Imperiously, Lille pointed his fingers down from up high, calling the name of this miracle's creation and mouthpiece.

"Trompete!"

An enormous blast barreled out into existence, capable of erasing all in its path.

Victory was assured. No, it was a certainty…and yet Lille suddenly felt a chill inexplicably travel down his back.

Coyote tossed out a spherical weapon that transformed into the figure of a red-haired woman in front of her.

The woman looked harmless, but more than that, she felt harmless.

Lille couldn't pick up any kind of spiritual energy within her strong enough to rival his own, let alone allow her to bypass the power of the 'X-Axis.'

A sneer formed over his face.

A bluff. That's all this was. Fanfare and needless drama. Did they really think he'd stop his attack just because some new variable appeared?

No matter. He was fully confident in his Lord's bestowed gift. This aspect could be inferred by anyone who could see his expression, and this went doubly for the woman who dared confront his strongest strike.

A sense of calm chased away his uneasiness, but the tentative peace grew disturbed.

"You think you're invincible?" The woman asked.

The question did not dain a response. Lille was unmoved, but raised a brow in contempt. .

"-Think again."

Lille's senses prickled, his eyes glancing to the edge of his periphery where someone he'd rather not be near him abruptly appeared.

No. That traitor- why was she here?!

Right before Lille's gaze, Silent appeared piggybacked by Ichigo who's speed far outpaced the rest.

Lille's features hardened, recalling what would happen to him with Silent just being near his proximity. No matter what, he couldn't let himself die here. If he died here, then he could picture his end being no different from that of Pernida's.

Hmph, he sneered, forcibly calming his nerves. That was if he was butchered into pieces, and no matter how he thought of it, that outcome was unlikely.

"You think you're invisible?"

Lille's features gradually twisted. It was that ingratiating voice again!

The confidence, the surety of it; it was practically an attack on his person.

Lille didn't hesitate to increase the output of his strike in order to both swallow that woman whole, and simultaneously deal with Coyote.

It was a mistake.

The red haired woman's visage hardened, magic energy swelling around her that worked on a different principle than that of spiritual energy.

"O gouging Sword of the War God."

It was a power that effectively annulled the aspects of law and time by nullifying it and focusing on the aspect of severing 'fate.' A concept impossible to perceive let alone interpret by bending cause and effect.

"That which comes later will cut first."

The chill Lille had been feeling abruptly turned into a shudder, his senses flaring at him.

From the sphere floating over the red-haired spirit's right fist, a blade emerged, shining in divine luster thrust forward.

Written in legend, it was a sword that placed the wind in the user's command, and could penetrate through any shield or wall to inflict piercing wounds from which none could recover.

Once the opponent's attack was launched, there was no escape.

It was aptly named for its purpose.

"Fragarach!"

The Retaliator.

The spirit spoke three words before walking off in the deafening silence.

"You're already dead."

A sun erupted in the form of a blinding light that left nothing behind except traces of spirit particles that once more funneled into Silent.

/-/

Down below, spiritual winds buffeted the area, the ground beneath their feet trembling with each clash and reverberating echo of steel. The chain bindings holding the Spirit King's podium aloft creaked and groaned as the entire structure showed signs of collapsing.

Kisuke and the other Shinigami still spectating the battles from the podium wore increasingly stiffening expressions. Some were looking down on their feet, others with bloodshot eyes, and then there was Gin smiling all the while despite Rangiku fretting over him for not bothering to rest from his injuries (Or maybe he was smiling because of Rangiku. No one would ever know what's going on behind that smile).

In any case, Gin's reaction was the odd one out. Everyone else was restless for a simple reason that either irked their pride, sense of worth, or world views.

-They were being sidelined; this much was blatantly obvious.

Many didn't know how to feel about it, and many more felt unresigned.

Kisuke dipped the rim of his hat over his face, and hummed while assessing the situation around him, and then turning back to observe the status of his compatriots. Many were still injured from the aftermath of the Quincy's invasion of the Seireitei, and then further weakened to augment training in the Dangai. What was worse, was that Kisuke's efforts to facilitate a means to mount a counter attack had backfired in that he should have used the Dangai slots for others instead. He had been a tad too optimistic in the Zero Squad's capabilities and neglected the fact that sometimes power means nothing to wit.

The results of this were shown in a scene few seemed willing to intervene in.

To Shunsui, it might as well have been karma, for others indecision.

The sound of a blade being drawn echoed to the rhythmic march of heavy footsteps.

"The mighty have fallen." Tosen's words were dull, but carried the will of firm resolution. "The weight of your achievement can never condon the weight of sins left buried. Where is justice if the people who guard and make the laws side with those who commit murder?"

Ichibei and the rest of the Royal Guard who'd been drained of their power by Aizen grimaced while drawing their swords. No matter what, their bodies were still imbued with the flesh and blood of the Soul King. If anything, they still had the strength of their physical bodies. It wasn't much, and everyone knew it. Tosen would slaughter them, but the man was dragging it out through his own agenda, no- vindication.

"The governing body of the Seireitei has nothing to do with the guards of the Royal Palace," Ichibei lost his smile. He'd lost it since the moment Aizen had intervened and ruined what could have been the only chance to turn things around. "You speak of justice, but act in betrayal. You talk of sin, but do not see your own! In the end, what you seek is not justice, but an outlet for revenge!"

"...And what if it is?" Tosen paused only a few meters away from the Zero Guard. He was fully within his striking range. "Do not imply that you are not involved. The Zero Squad has long been created to safeguard the original arrangement of the Soul Society's Noble Families. If anything, it's your influence that condones the continuation of sheltering those unfit for their lofty titles. This world is twisted! This world established upon your so-called 'balance' is wrong! My friend- the woman who only ever preached of peace-!"

Tosen snapped, his drawn blade flashing and tearing through the feeble defense before him like paper. Blood began to flow, a horizontal cut cleaving through the proud flower insignia of the Zero Squad.

Ichibei's countenance fell, a grunt escaping his lips while Senjumaru and the others tried to encircle Tosen but were batted aside by a blast of spiritual energy as if they were never there.

"She did nothing wrong! She looked not upon a blind child as a liability, but as a friend! She wasn't killed by a Hollow in pursuit of her dream like she'd imagined, but killed in your system! Her killer, unpunished and left free!"

"It is the duty of a Shinigami to give their life for peace," Ichibei reasoned evenly. He'd seen it, understood the happenings of the past, and the necessity of the present balance. "The sanctity and harmony of the Noble Clans must remain even at the cost of the tragic few. Their sacrifice for the world allows for a few concessions. To live in a world without order, without structure, and regulation would revert all to the dark ages!"

"Your order! Your structure! Your regulation! Not ours!" Tosen spat back in scorn, each word followed by the clang of steel. Sparks grated from a blade's edge, and the spiritual steel of Ichibei's brush slowly lost ground to Tosen's sword. "Today, I deliver due course!"

Spittle flew mixed with flecks of blood, as Ichibei was forced back again and again. For a moment, bewilderment entered Ichibei's eyes when he glanced at this fellow Shinigami doing nothing.

By right, Kaname Tosen was an enemy of the Soul Society in principle for his betrayal to the Court Guard Squads. As such, it was evident whom the Shinigami should side with, and yet many only watched, unsettled at the level of animosity Tosen was displaying. More than anything, it was the alarming implication that Tosen had insinuated that grounded their feet. They too had friends and family. To imagine one of them dying unjustly and the culprit left free from the law was nauseating. Then again, it didn't mean that no one acted.

Another slash, and Ichibei's grip on his writing brush was wrenched free, the weapon clattering into a roll on the floor. Ichibei's countenance immediately fell.

"Know of a poor man's justice." Tosen swung vertical.

Clang!

Two swords shook as they warred with each other for dominance, Tosen's teeth gritted in frustration. "Kaname," he ground out toward the figure he'd called friend before him.

"Komamura." Saijin sighed, shoulders slumping as he braced his sword with both forearms to defend against Tousen's overarching swing.

The two stared at each other in silence, before Tosen began to apply more and more weight into his sword. "Get out of my way. Old friend. You know of my goal. The one thing worth more to me than anything else."

Saijin shook his head, behind him Ichibei began to catch his breath, irking Tosen off to no end.

"You'd defend him and his compatriots!" Tosen practically roared, his tone guttural.

The goal was in sight, well…within reach, and that's what mattered.

"No. I would defend my friend from making a mistake!" Saijin put more strength into his arms and redirected Tosen's blade to the ground. "Killing them does nothing!"

"It means everything!" Tosen snarled, teeth gnashing together. "If you still treat me as a friend, then step aside!"

"I cannot." Saijin remained firm. "This isn't you. This isn't the man who spoke of peace and of carrying on the will of his friend."

Veins popped over Tosen's skin, anger and frustration mixing with melancholy and weariness. "You stubborn bastard," he muttered, but there was no turning back.

A third sword stabbed forward faster than most could perceive and ended Tosen and Saijin's sword clash.

Clap!

"Now now, no need to fight." Gin clapped a few times to get attention, and when he did, he smiled from ear to ear. "Ah Kaname, good to see you. Just listen for a moment will you, or do you think that you can take on dogface while I take stabs at ya from the back? I may be injured, but you should know the speed of my blade."

Saijin's lips twitched, the tension practically vanishing.

Tosen ground his teeth. "Ichimaru…"

In a way, it was ironic that the only other one to come and deescalate the situation wasn't a member of the Seiretei, but another traitor.

"Ooh, a blind man's glare." Gin waved his hands up in feigned fright, chuckling. "I'm terrified- ouchie."

Thwap!

"Giku-chan, whyyyy?"

"Shut up!" Rangiku smacked Gin over the back of the head again, revealing that Gin didn't have the strength to resist let alone attack as his body all but crumpled at the blow. Flustered, and cheeks flaring from Gin's antics in public, Rangiku huffed before dragging Gin away by the scruff of his shihakusho. "The hell do you think you're getting involved with in your state?!"

"Ran-chan-"

"Don't Ran-chan me!"

"Giku-"

"I won't hear it, you idiot!"

Gin's head slumped, feet dragging on the floor while trying to placate his childhood friend.

Understanding that Gin wouldn't be getting in the way, light flickered across Tosen's features. However, Gin's intervention was more than enough to rouse the others out of their daze. Differences in opinion aside, they were short handed as it was. Then again, no one could put it past Gin to have expected this result before acting. In some ways, he was just as terrifying as Aizen.

Suddenly, Tosen found himself heavily outnumbered as the Shinigami rallied behind Kisuke who stepped forward. .

"Sorry, but even as weak as they are now, the Royal Guard may have their uses to turn the situation around," Kisuke intervened while cutting a distinct line between Tosen and everyone else. "Their powers may have been drained, but their bodies remain as containers that could assimilate the energy pilfered from the Soul King by Aizen and Yhwach. It's what Ichibei and the others were planning to do before Aizen intervened. Isn't that right, Ichibei?"

"...You are correct. Better the power in our hands than a megalomaniac," Ichibei conceded. He got up from the ground, and brushed the dirt off of his clothing with the dignity of his stature.

Tosen was far from impressed, but derisive instead."Better the power in the hands of the righteous than the hypocritical!" He sneered.

Kisuke disagreed. "Aizen is far from righteous let alone free from hypocrisy."

"I wasn't talking about Aizen," Tosen shook his head and withdrew his sword, knowing that he would have to wait for another opportunity. He glared at them all. "This isn't over," he mumbled before vanishing in a flash step.

Kisuke blinked at Tosen's answer, but frowned and chose not to dwell over it. What mattered now was what to do from here. The basic idea that was directly accessible to him was to regain the Soul King's lost power by using the Royal Guard as spare vessels. Then again, Masaki seemed to be doing a fine job of that from what he'd been able to infer when Masaki had been called over by the Hollows. In the end, Kisuke deduced that he and Aizen had reached similar conclusions to Masaki's current state, making it no wonder why Masaki was taken away.

Of course, one specifically was not taking this development well and was already beyond the point of agitation. Kisuke shut his eyes, and gradually opened them to the sight before him.

As expected.

But Kisuke had to at least try.

"Isshin-"

"I'm not leaving my wife and son on their own," Isshin gruffly cut Kisuke off, adjusting his Haori before deciding better and taking it off entirely. He wasn't going to fight as a Captain or Shinigami, but as a husband and father.

The Haori rustled as Isshin discarded it and whatever value it held or symbolized before putting a foot into the air and vanishing in a flash step like Tosen. He didn't even bother to wait for Kisuke or anyone else to try and convince him to rethink his actions.

A nostalgic grunt resounded.

"That's the uncle I know," Kukaku snorted. However, her hands were balled so tightly into fists that her palms were bleeding from her nails digging through her skin. Her attention and anxiety wasn't on Isshin, but on 'Kaien' who was unresponsively limp while slung over Mila-Rose's shoulder.

"W-What did those bastards do to him?" Kukaku's lips wobbled, causing her to stammer as she muttered out.

Neither Kukaku, Kisuke, or the others had been able to notice the brief exchange between 'Kaien' and Pernida in wake of the explosion that blew Pernida into pieces. Therefore, when Kaien had abruptly collapsed screaming, Kukuka was only held back when Ganju tackled her to the ground. The two of them were too weak to get involved, and were obviously bitter about it to the point of frustration, but at least their worries were somewhat abated when 'Kaien' was taken into one of the Hollow's hands. However, only abated.

"Bitch is carrying him like some sort of ragdoll!" Kukaku gnashed her teeth while Ganju was no better.

Kisuke chuckled. The way he saw it, it was good if Kaien was alive. A little rough treatment didn't matter. What did matter were other things such as…those in over their heads.

If the father's gone, then no doubt-

"That's my family…I'd help them even if they're Hollows," Karin hopped into the air, and vanished, likely in the same direction as Isshin towards where Ichigo and Masaki were.

Again, as expected. Kisuke sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Kisuke's Bankai that enabled his injured allies to fight was already consuming enough on him, and now he had to devise another means to reverse the situation for the better. He had no choice but to stay put and think to minimize consumption of his reserves while maximizing his time to ponder, leaving the rest to their own thoughts.

The platform rocked and shook, the chains holding it aloft groaning from continued spiritual flares born from the clashing of powers.

"Well, Old man," Shunsui whistled, a hand scratching the ruffle of his goatee. "I never thought we'd see the day we'd be letting Hollows fight on our behalf."

"..." Neither did Yamamoto. Worse, all he could do in his current state was watch.

Around him, tongues of soft flames sputtered into gentle embers despite Yamamoto not summoning his sword. Subtly, Yamamoto, let out a long breath. Somewhere in this world of swords and steel, Ryujin Jakka was calling out to him in reflection. He couldn't help but recall his past encounters, and about how Ryujin Jakka had always tried to pursue him. Perhaps there had truly been a reason. Ryujin Jakka would never guess wrong.

Perhaps, he really had been too stubborn, or perhaps he was just too old and grounded in tradition?

Regardless, the days of the past were now gone, and his strength was a far cry from the man he used to be. Glancing in the direction where Coyote and Lille had been fighting, Yamamoto felt now more than ever, the weakness of age. Yhwach's words to him in the Soul Society hadn't been wrong.

Yamamoto Shigekuni Genryūsai had grown weak. No, if anything, he'd changed.

Whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, it was difficult to say, but simpler to observe.

Oh the irony of the past. Once, it was the Hollows and Quincy at the mercy of the Shinigami, and now it was the Shinigami at the mercy of both.

Yamamoto grunted, the sting of his injuries shooting prickling pain across his entire body. Nonetheless, he didn't let out a single word, not towards himself, nor towards Shunsui's rather blunt words. Instead, his wisened eyes grew weary, his flowing white beard losing its luster in resignation.

The cycle had gone round.

"Pft. Our behalf?" Soi-Fon spat and grimaced as she registered what Shunsui had just said. The man hadn't exactly been very subtle about it, and what was worse, was the lack of urgency in the undertone.

Soi-Fon felt knots form in her stomach, twisting and churning in reflection of her growing discomfort and indignance.

"Can't you all see?" She stressed, hissing. "We're just in the second course. What do you think will happen should either the Hollows or Quincy win? We all go on our merry ways and pretend we have no differences between us- or would you not cull a problem by the roots?!"

Indeed. It stood to reason that Soi-Fon's words were the most logical. Many Shinigami including Shunsui himself acknowledged the point with a curt nod, and as opinion began to sway, one voice interjected.

"It would not come to that." Motes of light danced through the air like fireflies, the Zanpakuto Spirit presently healing Juushiro shaking her head. "Instead, it's more likely that we can all go on our 'merry ways,' as you said," she assured.

Soi-Fon grimaced, pursing her lips in doubt. "And we should trust that conclusion on your words alone, Spirit?"

The spirit of the Sheath nodded as if it was due course. It stood to reason that the man the spirit of the sheath knew wasn't one to follow the logic of others to begin with, but how could anyone presently take her words at face value beyond Shunsui?

"Sadly, noble spirit, we can't risk our lives and the lives of others on assumption," Unohana shook her head, her braided hair coming undone as resolution bled into her eyes.

Soi-Fon agreed and nodded at this. She frowned, tapping a foot over the ground as she pondered aloud. "We either need to conserve our energy if we wish to be able to do anything, or we do something now."

After Soi-Fon finished speaking, she inevitably crossed her arms, huffed, and grudgingly looked towards Kisuke hoping he had some sort of plan. She may not like the man on a personal level, but she did acknowledge his wit and intellect. Everyone did. Surely, he'd already come up with something even now?

He did. Or at least Kisuke used to.

Initially, Kisuke would have wanted to secure the Soul King's safety and proceed from there, but with Aizen's intervention and the rapid escalation of hostilities and events, he'd been left honestly floundering. However, he was still a genius. Someone who could adjust to the situation and try to plan from there.

Kisuke's lips thinned, a hand placing itself over his scraggly beard, his thumb resting beneath his chin. Yoruichi wordlessly walked up to his side and placed a hand over his shoulder. Whether or not he could come up with anything, no one could blame him. Yoruichi would be the first to protest otherwise.

Eventually, Kisuke began to gradually formulate a plan of action, his head perking up.

In his analysis regarding the energy readings of the Vasto of White, and his own observations of the former Hueco Mundo, certain principles had come to light. Then there was his data concerning Aizen, and the latest theories regarding Yhwach.

Everything from here was dependent on who would come out on top during this conflict...or who he wanted to come out on top.

As it stood right now, it was probably best to allow the Hollows to eliminate the members of Yhwach's Upper Echelon before moving in on the big players. Till then…

Kisuke rummaged through something he'd been keeping in a bag on his person, before pulling out a few items and distributing them to those around him.

"Here's what we do."

On the side, the Zanpakuto Spirit of the Sheath knit her brows and sighed.

Whether someone or a group's actions were right or wrong, in the end it was a matter of perspective. This, she could grudgingly concede, but it didn't change the feeling of disappointment.

In time, they will see, surely.


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