With the return of the Captain's from the Fake Karakura Town, and the defeat of Aizen, his traitors and his Espada the war is over. Though it would no doubt be claimed as a 'victory' in the records of the Soul Society...when face to face with the destruction wrought upon the Rukongai, the high number of displaced innocent Souls and the number of Shinigami listed as KIA or MIA he finds it rather difficult to do so. Even three days after their return the number of MIA continues to rise as the Divisions pour over rosters.

The Captains that had returned had not been spared from the destruction, either. Sui-Feng had lost an arm in the battle with the Espada though with Unohana's expert treatment she'd managed to recover it. He'd not had need of visiting the Fourth but he'd heard that she was just as demanding as if she'd not been injured at all. Shunsui had suffered some serious wounds but after a day of treatment he'd been released back to the Eighth. However, Jushiro's condition was what most concerned him. He'd been admitted upon his return and has yet to be released and in spite of his daily inquires he'd not received word on his possible release.

Of those Captain's deployed to the Fake Karakura Town, however, Yamamoto's wounds had been the most severe. The Head Captain had lost an arm, and the circumstances surrounding it seemed to make it impossible for Unohana to restore it. Even so he'd returned to the First Division upon being released and it had been politely 'suggested' to him by Unohana herself to remain on light duty for some time. Thankfully of all the Captain's engaged in the war with Aizen there hadn't been any casualties. Tier's insight, information and analysis of each of the Espada's strength and weaknesses as well as her memory of Aizen's fortress had proved to be invaluable. At any rate, the real Karakura Town had been returned to the World of the Living, and the Divisions had begun the difficult and slow process of combing the Rukongai in search of any remaining Hollows or wounded Shinigami.

"This is the day's duty roster, Lieutenant," Kiyone says, holding a clipboard out in offer. Kenzo takes it and calmly scans the paper. The Seated Officers stand in silence as he flips through the pages on the clip board slowly. He'd ordered them gathered in the training hall as the break of dawn today, as he'd done the day before and the day before that. Although he'd gathered them all together that, of course, does not mean that all of them will be heading beyond the walls to the Rukongai. A proper work and rest cycle would be absolutely necessary if they're going to continue twenty-four-hour operations for the foreseeable future.

"We've been rotating the squads as ordered," Sentaro tells him. "One on and one off."

"Good," Kenzo mutters, pausing for a moment to tap a single fingertip against the paper. "However, I recognize several names. They were the same yesterday and the day before."

"They're eager to search for our missing, Lieutenant." He hands the roster back to Kiyone.

"Have they had any rest?"

"They've managed a few hours." Several long moments of silence pass before Kenzo finally nods in understanding. Truthfully, he'd very much prefer to be out combing the Rukongai as well but his duties as Lieutenant are doing a good job of holding him fast to the Thirteenth. Between paperwork and coordinating with the other Divisions he can't seem to steal more than an hour away from the desk anymore. His savior in this situation had come in the form of Tier who proved to be invaluable in allowing him to steal a bit of sleep by intercepting messengers bound for the office. Of course, this had borne the unintentional side-effect of displaying a closeness that was impossible not to notice.

"First and Third Squads, you've already received your briefing?" Those surrounding him nod and Kenzo clasps his hands behind his back. "Good. You have your patrol routes. Be thorough and be careful. No one goes anywhere alone. At least two people at all times." Receiving another round of nods he motions towards the door. "Let's get this done." With that the Seated Officers disperse, filtering out of the room to carry out their duties for the day until only he and one other are left standing in the hall.

"My assignment?" Tier questions.

"You don't have one, Tier-san. I cannot leave the Division and-"

"I am not allowed to either," finishes Tier. "So I have been told."

"So the Head Captain has ordered."

"We were separated on the battlefield."

"Yes. However, the nature of the battle did not permit you and I to continue fighting as a pair at the time." He slowly turns to face her and perhaps as a result of their numerous conversations he immediately detects the frustration hidden under her calm demeanor. Kenzo opens his mouth, intending to attempt to placate the Arrancar only to stop when the sound of footsteps reach their ears. Turning their attention to the entrance of the training hall both are quite surprised to find Jushiro standing there with a smile on his face. "Captain Ukitake, welcome back."

"Hahaha~, it's good to be back," Jushiro laughs, approaching the pair. "I wanted to return sooner but Captain Unohana assured me the Division was in good hands. She was...quite insistent that I take the time to rest."

"I...thank you, Captain. I've left copies of all the reports on your desk in a more condensed manner than they were received. I've also organized all communication marked for your eyes only, Captain."

"I'll start looking through them right away. In the mean time, I imagine the two of you have been going quite stir crazy cooped up in the Division." Tier and Kenzo briefly exchange glances before nodding firmly in agreement much to his amusement. "I thought as much. Well, the Fourth Division is requesting assistance at the North Gate. Lieutenant Kotetsu is in charge of coordinating the relief effort there."

"Understood. We'll head there immediately..."

To finally be out of the Division and heading for the Rukongai is very welcome change of pace for the pair. As much as they enjoy it, however, they find that they're not nearly as keen on the biting cold that has fallen across the Soul Society. Having secured a pair of thick and warm cloaks before their departure they make quick time to the North Gate. It is, as it had been during the war proper, a hive of activity at the gate and beyond. Numerous members of different Divisions wander through a sea of Shinigami some echoing barked commands or calling out names in a search for others. Through the crowds of people Kenzo manages to pick out Isane and weaves his way in her direction with Tier following on his heels.

"Lieutenant Kotetsu!" calls Kenzo over the voices, drawing her attention. The tall woman seems to breath something of a sigh of relief as the two stop in front of them something that Tier finds somewhat strange. It has been her experience that her presence seems to place most Shinigami on edge, doubly so ever since the war. While many in the Thirteenth seem to have gotten over their fear or mistrust of her since the battle of at the North Gate those from other Divisions, particularly those here, regard her with a mixture of fear and anger. "Captain Ukitake sent us to assist in the relief effort."

"You don't need to call me 'Lieutenant', Ishioka-san," Isane tells him. "But thank you. We're a bit short-handed at the moment so we need all the help we can get. We're planning to sweep out into the further districts today. A patrol should be departing in the next few minutes. It's being headed up by..." She scans the surface of the paperwork in her hands. "...Yasu from the Eleventh Division." Isane looks up at them with a smile and after a few moments realizes that perhaps just a name isn't enough for them to find the person in question. "S-Sorry. He's sort of tall with a scar over his right eye, and a shaved head. You can't miss him."

"Understood." Offering a bow, Kenzo turns and begins weave through the crowd once more with Tier at his side. As they move, Kenzo is acutely aware of the glares and mutters from several of those surrounding them, and his brow furrows almost imperceptibly. A feeling of irritation boarding on anger begins to claw at his insides. It's understandable that the war with Aizen's forces would foster further ill will against Hollows and Arrancar but to direct such things at those who had assisted in the defense of the Soul Society is inexcusable.

"I can sense your Reiatsu roiling," Tier tells him, glancing in his direction from the corner of her eye. "Let it be."

"They are directing their anger at the wrong person."

"That is their choice."

"Hmph." Scanning the crowd for this 'Yasu' the two eventually manage to pick the man out if for no other distinguishing feature than his shiny head. Approaching the group the man appears to be heading, all heads turn from Yasu to the two who come to a stop several feet behind him. Seeing this he glances over his shoulder quickly as he scans over Kenzo his eyes finding the Lieutenant's badge secured tightly to his bicep and finally landing on Tier. While his gaze was initially one of disinterest it shifts immediately to one of anger. "Yasu-san, we're here to offer assistance."

"No, thank you, Lieutenant," Yasu says through gritted teeth. "We've got all the help we need."

"Unfortunately, this isn't a request," Kenzo simply replies. Yasu's attention turns firmly to the young Shinigami who simply stands with hands clasped behind his back. Kenzo's brow furrows as he observes the anger burning in Yasu's eyes, and his jaw clenches as the man stares defiantly into his eyes. Perhaps it's still the lingering feelings of whisper directed at Tier or perhaps something else altogether but that single glance only serves to stoke the flames of Kenzo's own irritation. "Something on your mind? Please, speak freely."

"I ain't working with a Hollow...Lieutenant," spits Yasu.

"Your objections are duly noted. Anything else or anyone else?" Silence reigns over the group as Kenzo slowly scans the small group of Shinigami gathered before him before finally turning his attention back to Yasu. "We'll S.P in five minutes. Gather whatever else you need, Yasu-san."

"I told you, I ain't workin' with-"

"Once again," interrupts Kenzo firmly. "Your objections are duly noted. We'll walk point." After allotting them a few more minutes to gather whatever they need for the patrol they set off into the Rukongai, walking several meters ahead of the small squad that Kenzo has discovered is a hodge-podge of several Divisions.

"I remember," begins Tier, breaking the silence between them. "Someone saying they would endeavor to be friendlier."

"Failure is success in progress."

"So, you can fail."

"Hah. Of course. That said, depending on who you ask I can fail quite often or rarely at all." A soft chuckle escapes the Arrancar and Kenzo glances at her from the corner of his eye. "How cruel, Tier-san, taunting a man over his failures."

"Hardly. I often wonder if perhaps I'm not nicer than you deserve at times, Kenzo."

"No doubt." Perhaps it was by nothing more than happenstance, or some divine stroke of luck that in that moment Tier had decided to expand her Pesquisa. In that moment, her senses were set alight with the feeling innumerable Reiatsu, all distinctly Hollow. Casting her eyes skyward in the direction of the offenders her brow furrows as the numerous gaping black maws tear the air apart. Kenzo was next to notice, stopping in place as his hand grasps the tsuka of his Zanpakuto tightly. "Tier-san, are those-"

"Yes."

"Yasu! Take the patrol and return to the North Gate immediately!" Following the young Shinigami's line of sight skywards, Yasu's mouth briefly drops open as countless Hollows begin to tear and claw through the Garganta. "Send a message to the Divisions! The Seireitei is under attack once again!"

"You heard the Lieutenant!" barks Yasu. "Retreat to the North Gate immediately!" Listening to the departing footsteps, Tier and Kenzo slowly draw their Zanpakuto. It isn't until the sound of a third weapon leaving it's saya that the two pay any mind to a figure walking up between the two. "What are your orders, Lieutenant?"

"Hah. They were to retreat."

"No can do. Captain Zaraki would literally kill me if he heard I ran from a fight."

"I'll handle the left," Tier tells them.

"I'm on the right, then," Kenzo confirms.

"Then, I'll take the center...!"


"There's no end to them," complains Kenzo, cleaving a lunging Hollow in two. It's body surges past, crashing down to the stained earth as he raises the saya of his Zanpakuto. It crackles softly, taking on a decidedly blade like appearance as he cuts down a second. The splatter of it's black blood spatters his shihakusho only further adding to the mixture of his own sweat and the blood of numerous others. He must stink beyond all words, and even after hours of fighting their numbers show no signs of thinning. This must be the remains of Aizen's army, gathered together in a last-ditch effort to exact some measure of revenge against the Shinigami that had defeated their master. He'd lost sight of Tier and Yasu some time ago having been caught up in a scramble to confront the encroaching hoard.

More charge in, unfazed by the death of their 'comrades' and possessed only of a single-minded desire to devour his potent soul. A rush of wind assaults his ears as several dozen obsidian blades barrel past him, striking each Hollow in its mask. The crunch of the bone proceeds the squelch of flesh as blood spatters in all directions, and their bodies tumble end over end before coming to a stop. For her part, Hoshi Kyo all but hums in satisfaction as the howls of dying Hollows echo through the streets. Yet more come, baying and snarling for their pound of flesh in this war.

'Behind!' echos Hoshi Kyo, the urgency of the otherwise silent spirit urging him to action immediately. Like a flash through the Void he reappears several dozen meters away from his original position, confronting a smoldering crater where he'd once been. Since he'd first learned to hear Hoshi he could count on both hands the number of times she'd used their shared connection to directly intervene in anything happening around them. Every time it had been under circumstances that might have ended his life, and as he observes a slim Arrancar slowly exit the crater before him with halberd hefted on one shoulder, he could add one more to the tally.

"You dodged me, little Shinigami," comments the Arrancar. "How fortuitous for you!" In a blur of motion, Kenzo finds the Arrancar's Zanpakuto pointed at him. "Tell me, are you capable of Bankai? The last Shinigami I encountered couldn't manage it. It was no fun at all." His brow furrows almost imperceptibly at his words. Was it possible he'd not seen Yasu because he'd encountered this Arrancar? Pushing such thoughts from his head for the moment, Kenzo squares his shoulders.

"When the situation calls for it, Arrancar-san."

"Ahahaha~! Would you not agree that the situation calls for it, Shinigami? Come! Show me your Bankai! Let us enjoy ourselves!"

"Enjoy?" echos Kenzo.

"Yes! What else is there left to do but to enjoy ourselves?" The Arrancar whirls his Zanpakuto around in a smooth motion, grasping the polearm with both hands. "This place, this battle, it is all perfect! You will kill me, or I will kill you! Shinigami or Arrancar...let us find out which deserves to survive, shall we?" Watching Kenzo widen his stance slightly the Arrancar's muscles tense, and then he blinks when the young Shinigami seems to simply disappear. Expanding his Pesquisa rapidly he senses a Reiatsu behind and immediately turns. A shower of sparks accompanies the ringing of steel against steel, and as he begins his counterattack once more he disappears. Staggering forward from a harsh blow across the back, the Arrancar turns to swipe through the air at Kenzo. "Telepor-"

"Too late for that, now." Another blow, this time accompanied by a spray of blood from the shoulder as Hoshi finally seems to overcome the Arrancar's defenses. A brilliant red light begins to flicker in Kenzo's peripheral vision seconds before it grows in intensity and engulfs him completely. The Arrancar's Cero continues through several buildings, splintering wood and toppling obstacles until it finally dissipates to reveal a charred and bleeding Kenzo standing amid the ruins of some unfortunate dwelling. With no option to dodge he'd only barely managed to interpose Hoshi between himself and the Cero, blunting the attack for all intents and purposes. A burst of static sounds and Kenzo moves as well. Their figures blur, each attempting to overtake the other as the sound of steel rings out across the Rukongai as they rush skyward.

It's the Arrancar that breaks first in their dance, committing to a strike baited out of him by the young Shinigami. His figure disappears and the Arrancar's vision jerks left, a spray of blood accompanying a molar as Kenzo drives a heel into his jaw. Floundering to recover, he thrusts the pommel in Kenzo's direction only for him to bat it away with his saya and follow with a strike intending to cleave him in half. A spray of blood accompanies a slash from shoulder to hip only too shallow to truly end the Arrancar who lunges away. Grasping the weapon tightly, the Arrancar whirls it around lashing out at his neck. Perhaps it's his unfortunate wounding but it's too slow to reach it's intended target as Shunpo carries him safely away.

"Haha~. Hahahaha~! How utterly intoxicating! This rush! This tension!" The Arrancar scrubs a hand through his black hair, grinning madly at Kenzo. "It's been so long! More! Let us enjoy ourselves more, Shinigami!" Once more he points his Zanpakuto at Kenzo. "If you will not show me if your own accord, then I will simply have to force your hand! Forward! Caballeros...!"


Fighting her way through the Rukongai, Tier pushes ever onwards to the North Gate. For hours without end the Hollows had spewed forth from the Garganta, directed and controlled by Arrancar and even Adjuchas. Disposing of them had been childs-play yet even after uprooting those commanders she'd happened across the hoards had showed no signs of stopping. It was only after some time that they flow had slowed to little more than a trickle, and after slaying the Hollows by the dozen she'd realized that she'd not seen hide nor hair of Kenzo for quite some time. Concerned about the young Shinigami's whereabouts and sensing a rolling storm of several powerful Reiatsu at the North Gate she'd set her sights on it.

Surely, he'd have regrouped at the gate with the others. Her arrival is announced with a burst of static curtesy of Sonido, and numerous heads rapidly turn. Scanning the crowd, she picks out a pair of familiar faces clad in white haori, and calmly strides in their direction.

"Harribel-san," Jushiro calls, approaching to meet her halfway. "I'm glad to see you're unharmed."

"More than unharmed," adds Shunsui, taking note of her stained shihakuso. "Looks like she's taken down an army of them by herself, Jushiro. Hmm..." He slowly scans the crowd before finally turning his attention back to her. "...don't suppose you've seen Kenzo-kun, have you? I'm startin' to worry about the kiddo."

"No," Tier tells them. "I was hoping you could shed some light on his whereabouts."

"Well, that's not good. Don't tell me he's still-" The release of a powerful Reiatsu in the distance draws their attention. All three turn to observe a brilliant purple flash arching skyward, and moments later a second surge accompanied by dark crimson flash. Tier recognizes the second immediately- Kenzo. "Guess we have our answer. Phew~! Seems he's found himself a pretty powerful opponent." Several flashes arch through the sky and Tier recognizes them as being 'Cero' fired at an opponent they cannot see across the distance. The impact is not lost, however, as echoing booms fill the air.

"We need to go," Jushiro says, moving in the direction of their fight. "Shunsui, we need to assist-"

"They're coming to us," Tier says quickly, muscles tensing. Three figures scatter moments before an impact shakes the ground, a cloud of dust and debris flying skywards.

"Hahahaha~! This is more like it, Shinigami!" laughs a voice that grates on Tier's ears. Nose wrinkling in disgust she observes a massive Arrancar appearing as little more than a suit of armor stalks in the direction of the crater. "Come! Stop holding back! Release your Bankai! If you don't, I'll be forced to find...other entertainment!" A stiffled groan issues from the crater as a silhouette slowly rises.

"You talk too much," complains Kenzo, voice strained and gravelly. As the smoke clears a decidedly white-hot fury ignites in Tier's chest. The young Shinigami tightens a strap around the stump of his left arm, jerking it as tight as possible with his teeth before spitting it out. Blood streams from the left half of his face, welling past his tightly shut eyelid. Rising to his full height, he hefts his Zanpakuto and holds it out before him. "But since you're so interested, Arrancar-san...I'll show you." He presses the blade forward and several thin cracks spiral out from the air accompanied by the crinkling of what sounds as glass to the ears of those present. Hoshi Kyo seems to hum with delight in his hand as the cracks grow in size.

"Shatter. Zengen Seiko," commands Kenzo. The soft 'boom' of glass shattering fills the air as the world around them seems to fall in twisting shards of Reality pressed against the inky black Void. It's as though the world has been swept away by a black curtain dotted with an infinate number of flickering dots upon it. Beyond the young Shinigami an orange halo surrounds a space of twisting darkness so deep they feel as though it could swallow them at any moment. A harsh groan issues from the Arrancar, and he stumbles forward before catching himself, stripped of his Resurreccion.

"Wha...What in the hell is this?" questions the Arrancar, a mad grin splitting his face. "I cannot...gather my Reiatsu? Ahahaha~! How utterly-" The sound of his voice ceases, though his mouth continues to move and as confusion flickers across his face he raises a hand to his throat.

"Fufufu~. Hush now, little lamb," giggles an airy voice. The rich scent of tobacco surrounds all present moments before a second figure calmly steps out from behind Kenzo. A woman, dressed in an ornate inky black kimono and gently clutching a smoking pipe as she regards the Arrancar with tightly shut eyes. "Hmm~. How unsightly..." Raising the pipe to her lips, they watch as dozens upon dozens of obsidian blades gather behind the two. The Arrancar tenses only far too late to react to an attack even Tier had momentarily lost track of. A single blade pierces his chest, punching through in a spray of blood and viscera where his heart might have been...only to reseal as though the wound had never been there. Confusion, pain and true fear tint the silent Arrancar's face as he raises a hand to his chest, eyes bulging with emotions he cannot express.

"The wound was not fatal," Kenzo begins. "Because I changed the 'Rules', Arrancar-san. I 'Rule' everything within the Void." He hefts his Zanpakuto, the blade the same obsidian as those gathered in innumerable numbers at his back and surrounded by an orange glow. "Unfortunately..." He scans his surroundings, observing the frightened faces of those Shinigami trapped within the confines of his Bankai. Those who are weaker are far more susceptible to its effects, incapable of ever attempting to ignore the 'Rules' he places upon them. To have their 'Reality' stripped away from them would no doubt leave them with some lasting nightmares or perhaps worse if he were to continue. "...I haven't the time to play with you."

Once more finding it difficult to track his movements, Tier reacts only moments before the man's head is separated from his body with a spray of blood. Several obsidian blades move after, striking the head in air and reducing it to little more than a pulp before it's even struck the ground.

"And that, as they say, is that." With a glance over his shoulder Zengen raises her free hand, and with a single snap the shattering of glass fills the air. Tier hadn't even realized that the noise of the battlefield was absent until it's return, accompanied by the smell of blood and death. Kenzo staggers slightly, pitching forward towards the earth. A burst of static accompanies a sudden stop as she braces him, slowly lowering him to the earth as his Zanpakuto slips from his grip.

"That guy...was an eyesore, Tier-san," complains Kenzo, reaching up to grasp at the back of her shihakusho. "And this really hurts."

"Of course it does, you're missing an arm, idiot!" growls Tier, anger not subsided in the least.

"And an eye. Don't forget that."

"Don't be an ass."

"Aah...sorry." His grip tightens as he pulls himself a bit closer. "Say. Mind holding a bit tighter? It's...It's kinda cold out here..." His grip goes slack, and his knees buckle as his head slumps forward against her shoulder.

"Kenzo!"

"That...was mildly terrifying," Shunsui says, approaching the two. "You should- wow! That is a lot of blood, Kenzo-kun." Jushiro barges past him, helping Tier get the young Shinigami to his feet.

"We need to get him to Unohana as soon as possible," Jushiro tells her. "If we're lucky she should be able to restore his arm and his eye." Tier nods in understanding, easily hefting Kenzo in both arms as if he weighs nothing before she sets off in the direction of the Fourth Divison. Jushiro glances at the young Shinigami's Zanpakuto cautiously before bending to retrieve it. The tsukas wrap...was it always grey? Observing it carefully for several long moments he decides it's not important given the situation and follows after Tier quickly...