Bleach Fan Fiction ❯ Masque( ing) the Pain(t) ( Chapter 39 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Tite Kubo owns Bleach. I just borrowed the characters. I do own Atonomatsuri (the bird) and Piecrust (the jerk).
 
 
Warning: Bad, laboured pun title.
 
Masque(ing) the Pain(t)
 
Zaraki expected to hear a protest from Kurotsuchi, a squealing complaint that outlined how he resented the suggestion. He fixed his eyes on the man, waiting for the denial, the argument, but instead he saw the man’s shoulder’s sag. The man had known about this? And, more surprising, had agreed? Why? It seemed so wrong.
 
“There has been some speculation in the Seireitei as to the reasons Captain Kurotsuchi wears makeup which covers his face. In the spirit of honesty and to remove some of those barriers I have sensed, the Captain has agreed to show his true face, but only to the highest ranked officers. Those who hold a position below assistant captain are requested to leave the hearing for a short time,” Captain Kuchiki said smoothly, ignoring the whispering that was continuing.
 
“Unfair,” mumbled Kiyone, dragging her feet and looking wistfully over her shoulder as she left the room. “Why can’t I stay?”
 
“I want to stay more than you,” Kotsubaki whined as he gazed back at their Captain. “I don’t like leaving our Captain alone. Someone should stay with him.”
 
Whirling around Kiyone grabbed him by the ear, having to reach up due to the disparity of their height. “Why should it be you? I am more devoted to our Captain.”
 
“I recognise our Captain’s needs better than you. You don’t fill his water cup often enough,” Kotsubaki proclaimed loudly.
 
“We all have to go, too,” Rukia reminded them firmly and taking her senior officer’s elbows in her hand, she steered them out of the room, to be followed by the other lower ranked Shinigami. None of them seemed pleased to be excluded from this `entertainment’.
 
Yachiru watched them go, a small crease in the middle of her forehead. “Why do they have to leave Ken-chan?”
 
Zaraki shook his head as he shrugged. “Don’t know. Don’t really care, but Ayasegawa looks like he’s not sure if he should be pleased or disappointed.”
 
His 5th seat was leaving with a mixture of speed and reluctance. He kept glancing between Nemu and her father but Nemu was leaning back in her chair, her eyes shut, either asleep or dozing, and Kurotsuchi was still facing the Captain-General. He whispered something to Madarame who raised his eyebrows in response and pulled him out of the room.
 
After the room had been cleared of all but the Captain and assistant captains, the 10th Division assistant captain handed some tissues and cream to the 12th Division captain. She was evidently trying to avoid any physical contact with the man and the look of distaste on her face as the man accepted the items from her was nearly comical. The face cream almost dropped as she let it go as soon as the Captain’s hand was close, but he managed to grasp it before it fell. She cast an unconscious apologetic glance at her captain and sat down turning her body away from Kurotsuchi, almost presenting her back to Yamamoto.
 
“You could have handed those over to him,” she hissed loudly at Abarai and earned a quick reprimand from her Captain.
 
“Matsumoto! You will remain silent until there is a need to speak,” Captain Hitsugaya told her barely raising his voice. She looked at him unhappily but did not reply and turned slightly forward.
 
“You agreed. At first you were supposed to remove the stuff for him, but you complained too much,” Abarai hissed back at her, obviously trying to keep his voice low. He received a cold look from his Captain and bit his lip as he glared at Ran.
 
In the meantime, with a great show of reluctance, which was obviously not feigned, Kurotsuchi began to apply the cream to his face. The black swirled into the white, making his face appear grey and old. More cream was applied and then slowly, it was wiped off. As dirty tissues were placed into a bin, parts of the face became visible. Kurotsuchi kept on his hat and ear pieces, but the skin and facial features began to slowly emerge.
 
Zaraki felt a flare of regret as more of the face was revealed. There were no major hidden scars, no twisted and contorted flesh, no craters from untreated acne, no peculiar colouring. It was simply, a face. As more of the makeup was removed and the chin was revealed there were some weird indentations showing from where he attached his false chin covering. Idly, Zaraki wondered what the purpose of it was. Was it a fake beard like the Egyptian pharaohs wore to show their sovereignty over the populace? And the things he wore over his ears? What was their purpose? Were they hearing devices or some peculiar type of decoration to hide a deformity?
 
With a final wipe the last of the makeup was removed to reveal: an ordinary man. From the side view he looked slightly like Aizen, but without his charisma. On a signal from Kuchiki, the Clown Captain stood and faced the people remaining in the room. His tightened lips betrayed his anger at having to subject himself to the eager gaze of people who had never beheld his true face, or who had once seen it and forgotten. The only remarkable thing was the glow of hatred within his eyes as he beheld the people staring at him with fixed intent.
 
And it wouldn’t be difficult to forget his face. It was unremarkable. With the absence of the black bisecting the white, his eyes seemed small and unremarkable, not the fiendish widely open pools of insanity he’d thought they were. The nose faded back into the shape of the face and was shown to be small and undefined. Not like the beakish protrusion Zaraki had always imagined it to be. He stopped the shudder before it began as he thought of beaks and his mind went on to briefly consider Atonomatsuri.
 
“He’s…, he’s sort of boring looking, isn’t he Ken-chan? Do you think that’s why he wears make-up? To hide how ordinary he is?” Yachiru’s mouth was close to Zaraki’s ear and her breath, scented by the lollies she’d been eating wafted past his face.
 
In response he nodded his head, very slightly. Without make-up and his shoulders bowed, the man lost the presence and confidence he normally exuded. It would be hard to believe that even the strange collection of weirdos in 12th Division would take orders from this pathetic example of a human being.
 
“He doesn’t seem much of a threat,” he answered, trying to keep his voice to a low rumble.
 
“Hold on Kenny. You’re not being objective here. Just because the man looks ordinary doesn’t mean he is. Your experience with that man should remind you of that. Looks can be deceiving. A pretty face can hide a deceitful heart,” Atonomatsuri chided him and he started slightly as he heard her voice in his mind. The irony of her final words almost made him smile.
 
“That’s not a pretty face,” he told her shortly amused at how her observation was so faulty.
 
“You know what I mean,” her tart voice didn’t hide her discomfort at the inappropriate use of the adage. “The man might look like Justin Timberlake, but he’s dangerous.”
 
Creasing his forehead, Zaraki shook his head. Who was that man she mentioned? His name sounded odd, not Japanese at all. There was no point of reference. “Who?”
 
“He’s a singer in the human world. Looks like a bank clerk or a computer programmer,” Atonomatsuri explained.
 
“What’s a bank? And a clerk? What’s it got to do with Kurotsuchi?” The more she explained things, the more confused Zaraki became. What did some human matter to him unless he could fight him? And a bank clerk sounded pretty boring, but it could be something exciting. Maybe bank clerks were talented fighters who had weapons the like of which he hadn’t encountered as yet. They commanded armies that punished the unworthy and made them bow their heads in penance for their crimes.
 
And computer programmers (whatever the hell those words meant) were a modern type of Samurai, noble and committed to a cause greater than defending their own honour. Bravely sacrificing their family life for a higher purpose that gave them immeasurable strength, dignity and respect. That’s what he hoped she meant. If so, he wanted to fight them all and learn their weaknesses. They had to be important, otherwise, why was Atonomatsuri mentioning them? But then, why did the bird ever mention anything?
 
A very deep sigh indicated that Atonomatsuri was going to make one of her unflattering observations again. “I’m merely trying to remind you that he might look unimpressive, but he can cause us serious trouble.”
 
“Justless Timb Loser? Oh, you mean Kurotsuchi. Then why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Maybe the bird’s brain had addled. He knew that old eggs went rotten; maybe decaying vulture’s minds had limited life spans because vultures came from eggs. He snarled at the bird, “Now you’ve got me thinking like you. Daft ideas.”
 
“As you can see,” Kuchiki said once Kurotsuchi’s face was completely exposed. “He is a man. There is nothing terrifying hidden under the paint and powder. In the interests of speed the Captain will now place a mask over his face until a suitable recess is called.” He nodded at the 1st Division assistant captain. “You may permit the others to return.”
 
The 12th Division Captain’s eyes were closed, his face set as he held out a hand imperiously.
 
As Abarai hastily handed a mask to the 12th Division Captain Zaraki heard an exclamation from Hitsugaya. Then a small snort of laughter erupted from Retsu. Looking at the man he noticed the mask was the red fanged mask of a demon. Zaraki let a laugh free as did a few other Captains. Hitsugaya’s lip curled slightly and he was sure he saw a smile flit across Nanao’s face before disappearing under the hand that hid her mouth. Kuchiki glared at his assistant captain, who was gazing with hope, trying to gauge the effect of his `joke’ on his Captain.
 
Kurotsuchi’s hand remained outstretched, awaiting the mask. His mouth began to open, but his eyes remained steadfastly closed, almost as if he was denying that others could see his face without its normal protective armour.
 
“The other mask, Abarai,” was the cold and speedy reply. “Quickly now. A hearing is not the time to play a prank. We will talk of this later.”
 
With bad grace Abarai handed the 12th Division Captain a blank mask that only had holes for the eyes, nostrils and mouth, taking back the other mask and placing it under the table. His face was set and the set of his shoulders indicated that he was disappointed that the joke amused others, but not his Captain.
 
The people who had left filed back in, each of them glancing at the Captain and each face seemed to assume identical looks of disappointment that a blank mask was all that was shown.
 
“What did he look like?” the eager question from Ayasegawa made Zaraki shrug with little interest.
 
“Nothing special,” he replied. “A man without makeup.”
 
Madarame made a face. “You could be a little more descriptive, Captain. We only get to see the makeup.”
 
Grasping at any similarity, Zaraki said quickly, “Like Abarai, but more boring. Aizen without glasses but more unnoticeable. Piecrust, maybe, if he wasn’t handsome. I don’t know.” It wasn’t accurate, but it might shut them up. Did they expect him to provide them with a feature by feature description accompanied by a fast line drawing?
 
“Piecrust, handsome?” huffed Ayasegawa. He quickly smoothed his hand over his hair and touched the feathers on his eye assuring himself that his appearance was unmarred.
 
“He said handsome, not pretty,” Yachiru pointed out as she grinned at the 5th seat. “You’re pretty. Would you prefer it if I called you Handsome Herbert?”
 
Shaking his head so hard that Zaraki almost thought he could hear the creak of the neck turning, Ayasegawa said, “No. I prefer Pretty Boy. The name Herbert is not pretty.” He then dropped his voice and mumbled, “I don’t believe I said that I wanted to be called Pretty Boy.”
 
“We have shown you the face of the man accused of these crimes and there is nothing frightening concealed behind the paint. He is simply a man who chooses to hide his features for his own reasons,” Kuchiki declared his steady gaze sweeping the audience.
 
“There’s nothing simple about that creature,” Atonomatsuri muttered in the back of Zaraki’s mind. “The truly wise are always simple — simple friendliness, simple decency, simple goodwill between man and man. It is the little mind that spins complications. His mind is little and he is complicated.” The scathing tone and the damning sentiments from the bird reminded Zaraki that the vulture had developed a particular hatred for the 12th Division Captain that now seemed to make his dislike almost friendly by comparison.
 
“In our places of residence, don’t we all keep items that might be considered dubious, if they were taken out of context? A pink kimono draped over a man’s chair with hairpins on the table. An album of candid photos of a previous commanding officer. A collection of sweet wrappers contained within a folder, clearly labelled with the dates they were consumed. Books from the human world containing questionable content about the functioning of the body. Strange magazines with odd drawings and even stranger words claiming to tell a story about two sisters fighting over a mythical box. Any of these viewed without the correct background could be considered bizarre and, in some cases, perhaps even threatening.”
 
Frowning, Zaraki tried to follow the logic. Yeah, sure, all of those things were weird until he connected the collection of sweet wrappers with Yachiru. He remembered she kept any unusual or pretty wrappers, especially those she had never seen before. There was nothing wrong with that. An album of photos of a previous commanding officer. Who could that be? That feeble female, the one who was in 4th Division after being stabbed by Aizen? Was that who he meant?
 
“I protest,” Soi Fon was on her feet, her jaw jutting out and her fists were balled into her waist. Zaraki could not recall seeing her lose her temper in this manner before. “My private quarters are meant to be private. Those photographs are just reminders of a friendship.”
 
A very small smile flitted across Captain Kuchiki’s face. “That is exactly what I am inferring, Commander,” he replied calmly. “You invaded Captain Kurotsuchi’s quarters when he had no reason to expect visitors. In the normal state of affairs, if you had been formally invited to visit, you would have beheld nothing untoward.”
 
Captain Ukitake cleared his throat gently before anyone could respond and placed a gentle hand on Soi Fon’s shoulder. She shrugged it off angrily, ready to respond with more heat but he shook his head gently. She hissed between her teeth but sat down, glaring defiantly at the tall noble.
 
“You have destroyed your defence against the second accusation in trying to guard against the first,” the 13th Division Captain said. “If you claim privacy as a reason that the treasonous objects should not be presented, then the invasion of privacy with the cameras and listening devices becomes more of a crime.”
 
“Not at all. There is no proof that the Captain arranged for those devices to be placed, or that he even knew of their existence. Aizen or one of the other traitors may have arranged for those to be placed so they could monitor the situation here after they left for the Hollow Sanctuary.” Folding his hands, Captain Kuchiki looked very composed and not in the least concerned.
 
“I recall that the Captain previously admitted that he had recordings and pictures of Captain Zaraki,” Captain Fon shot to her feet. “You can twist the words as much as you like, but there are facts and witnesses you cannot ignore.”
 
“He could have come by that information by other means. One of the members of 11th Division may have willingly provided that information to Captain Kurotsuchi when they discovered that Captain Zaraki was plotting against him.” The smooth words and the impact of their meaning stunned Zaraki.
 
“I’m not supposed to be on bloody trial here. What the hell is happening? Who would have betrayed me?” His thoughts made him feel warm and he found he was looking suspiciously at his previously trusted subordinates.
 
A small cough in the back of his mind drew his attention. “Think Kenny. Once you noticed the bugs and disabled them, the Clown suddenly had less information. How could you explain about the rhubarb and rotten fish heads if he wasn’t listening in? Is your memory really that short? When interest lags, memory lags too, or so Goethe said, but he obviously didn’t know you.”
 
The 13th Division Captain was standing, one hand resting gently on the table as he stared at Captain Kuchiki, a small smile of disbelief on his face. “And white is black and facts are to be ignored in the face of compelling fiction. You forget, or chose to overlook, that we have the transcripts and other evidence from the spying activities.”
 
A low murmur went through the room.
 
“We must not disregard that the Captain was privy to many of the conversations held between the traitors before they decided to put the Seireitei at risk. This information could have prevented the recent unfortunate events, but the 12th Division Captain chose to keep this from his superior officers. Here is the true evidence of treason.”
 
The words were spoken quietly, without inflexion. Gently rearranging his hair over his shoulders the 13th Division Captain sat down sedately. The silence in the room indicated that this news had shocked those who were present and that Captain Ukitake had carefully chosen his moment to disclose these facts.
 
“Hearing’s over Kenny. That’s it. Nothing more can be said. Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy,” Atonomatsuri claimed and Zaraki found he was nodding in agreement. There could be no argument strong enough to make anyone forget that.
 
After a hurried and heated consultation between the 10th and 6th Division captains and assistant captains, Hitsugaya rose to his feet and bowed deeply to the Captain-General. He kept his eyes firmly on the wall and a tinge of red shaded his cheekbones. Looing at his hands, Zaraki noted that they had formed into fists and the knuckles showed white.
 
It was easy to see that even these people, charged with the defence of the 12th Division Captain were shaken by the words. Abarai’s face was red and he was glaring at the masked man, Ran’s eyes were gazing into the middle distance and Kuchiki was staring at Rukia almost with affection.
 
The sound of the voice jarred on the tension of the room and the voice of the 10th Division Captain was cool to the point of being frigid as he finally began to speak. “Sir, would it be possible to try these two charges independently? As both charges are emotionally stimulating, there is a real fear that there may be a difficulty in looking at the facts clearly. Emotions may cloud judgment and any mention of the traitors is certain to affect all of us.”
 
As he sat down, his assistant captain tried to hug him, but he shrugged her away with a sharp word. He sat there with a fixed look on his face but his eyes flickered to the 12th Division Captain briefly and then tried to conceal the look of disgust the infused his face. It had obviously been hard for him to utter words of defence for a man he found to be less than worthy of his support.
 
There was silence. A protracted silence as the Captain-General sat, unmoving. His face was expressionless and he barely seemed aware of the close attention everyone was paying to him. Zaraki wondered if the guy had died he sat so still, but the faint movement of his moustache from his breath showed he was still alive.
 
“Does he often sleep during meetings?” Yachiru was kneeling beside Zaraki, her mouth directly at his ear. “I thought you were the one that slept through them.”
 
“I am not asleep, Assistant Captain Kusajishi. Captain Zaraki, please discipline your subordinate. She should know better than to interrupt when I am thinking.” The measured words along with the sharp look made Zaraki wonder if Yachiru had just made his situation worse.
 
“Uh, Yachiru. Be a good assistant captain and don’t say anything,” Zaraki said. What was he meant to do? Yell at her? If he did she would open her eyes wide before she began crying and then he’d feel bad and she’d manoeuvre him into buying her some treat or letting her do something he would normally forbid. “No more sweets for you,” he added wondering how he could enforce that command. He’d have to send someone to clear out her quarters and secret hiding places. More work that he felt disinclined to organise. She wasn’t a kid, well, not really.
 
Instead of crying, Yachiru bowed her head. “I’m sorry Captain-General Yamamoto,” her voice had the slightest hint of a sing song quality to it.
 
His lips compressed to a grim line that bisected his face, the old man nodded slightly. He continued to sit there and Zaraki stirred restively in his seat. How long was he going to think about it? It was a simple question, but would it mean prolonging the hearing?
 
“I believe Captain Hitsugaya has the right of it. A normal trial will be skewed by the emotional bias of the participants. There is only one fair method by which we can determine the guilt or innocence of the Captain of the 12th Division.”
 
At these words Zaraki felt the beginnings of a grin tug at the corners of his mouth. The man might be hinting at one thing, he’d best not get his hopes up. Even if the man proposed what he hoped, there was no guarantee he’d be involved. It was a pretty obscure piece of law and the only reason he knew about it was he’d been forced to read it one day. Maybe forced was the wrong word. He’d been bored and looking for something to do between naps. For some reason he’d woken up and couldn’t immediately fall asleep again. Yachiru had been at one of those Shinigami Women’s Association meetings and he had a distinct feeling it was the time Madarame and Ayasegawa had their short lived membership of the Shinigami Men’s Society, so none of them were available for conversation or diversion.
 
He’d looked for a fight and no one was around, or the cowards were all hiding. His mouth felt dry, and for once he’d felt a desire to drink water, not sake. Idly he’d picked up some dusty scroll and cast his eyes over it as he sipped from a cup of water. In spite of himself he’d been drawn into reading some law that he knew was too good to be true. No one would ever invoke it; it was too much of a challenge for anyone to uphold. He’d read it until he’d fallen asleep and then promptly forgotten about it. There was no reason for that memory to be retained, but perhaps because it had a particular interest to him, he could recall it now.
 
“What’s the man talking about, Kenny?” Atonomatsuri sounded very interested in what was taking place and he almost felt inclined to indulge her curiosity. Before he could speak Captain Ukitake was on his feet, standing in front of his commander, his hair swinging behind him, so rapid had his movement been.
 
“That is not a proof of anything and it’s medieval,” he protested. “It’s never been exercised and I do not believe that this is a time to trial it.”
 
“Does that man know all the laws?” Atonomatsuri wondered in the back of Zaraki’s mind. “I suppose being sick and confined to bed he had to do something, but memorising the rules seems more of a penance than a way to pass the time.”
 
Shrugging, Zaraki didn’t answer. How other people spent their time didn’t interest him. If someone was idiotic enough to read that sort of stuff, why should he care? Admitting he knew about it might cause the bird to mock him, and he didn’t want to hear her jibing in the back of his head for hours.
 
Kurotsuchi was now standing, looking around the room as if seeking guidance. Captain Kuchiki got up and pressed a hand on his shoulder, trying to encourage him to return to his seat, but the man angrily pushed the hand away from him. “I do not like to be touched,” he said in a low urgent fashion. “Do not touch me.” His voice rose as he screeched the words again. “Do not touch me. Your touch is repellent and the feel of your skin sickens me.”
 
“I do not wish to touch you, but I urge you to sit down. Captain Yamamoto will decide how this progresses,” the nobleman said. The edge to Kuchiki’s voice was not lost on Zaraki, nor the speed with which he removed his hand. The small movements he made did not disguise that he was wiping his palm of a clean piece of linen he had removed from his sleeve.
 
“Didn’t like touching the guy,” Zaraki reasoned and then remembered how Yumichika had done the same when he had been relieved of holding down the guy. He hadn’t thought about it at the time, or even noticed it specifically, but watching the 6th Division Captain use the similar movements with an almost identical expression of loathing brought the previous incident back clearly.
 
“I believe Captain Kuchiki is correct, Ukitake. I make the decisions here. Not you. Nor some jumped up former resident of the Maggots Nest. Nor an assistant captain who can’t stop stuffing food in his mouth. Nor a former captain who betrayed the whole of the Seireitei in his pursuit of a fable. I am the power,” Captain Yamamoto rose from his chair and stood tall and commanding.
 
“Have you noticed how much chest pounding goes on here? It makes it easy to believe that males are descended from gorillas,” Atonomatsuri seemed interested in following this further. “I know it’s a way of dominating others, but Shinigami seem to do it with words more often than physical activity, though I’m sure you’d do it if you were trying to impress some female, Kenny boy. Should I be watching you closely from now on?”
 
Did she always have to distract him when things were getting interesting? He gazed around the room, noticing that every eye was either fixed on the Captain-General or gazing speculatively at the people present he’d obliquely mentioned. Captain Fon had confiscated her subordinate’s food and from his shamed expression she’d was delivering a short rebuke that had the man’s cheeks flushing with embarrassment. With the mask in place it was not possible to read Kurotsuchi’s expression, but his eyes glittered with anger. Captain Ukitake kept his steady gaze on Captain Yamamoto, seemingly unconcerned by the reprimand, except he leant forward closer, his eyes more intent.
 
“I’m not going to slap my chest to impress you,” Zaraki replied. “I’d prefer to pummel your head and hear the brains rattle, or whatever you have pretending to be brains.”
 
“Kenny. Why do you insist on insulting me all the time?” Atonomatsuri sounded hurt.
 
He almost burst out laughing at the question but then stopped. He insulted the vulture because she insulted him. Did she expect him to compliment her in return for her harsh words and observations that were often too close to the truth? Thinking back, it seemed likely that she did have some strange beliefs. Once she had even mentioned that she considered her appearance to be attractive. Maybe she’d never looked in a mirror, or her eyes didn’t work properly. Who could tell? Did a spirit have a reflection as they were a reflection of the zanpaku-to, a creature that lived within an object? Yet he was a soul, something that had originally lived within another body. Sure, while he lived in Soul Society he had an image that would appear in a mirror, but if he was in the human world, without a gigai, he wouldn’t be able to see his features in a mirror. If Atonomatsuri was in another world, the one that was sequential to Soul Society, would she have independent form? All previous thinking indicated that Soul Society was the end; if you died there you would return to the spirit particles that held your form and become as nothing. That was what he’d been told when he’d asked.
 
There could be nothing after Soul Society. There were no ghosts, no portents like there were in the human world.
 
But how could you have a ghost of a ghost? If there was a further destination for souls that died in Soul Society, would there be another destination after that? Would there be an ultimate destination where no soul could die. That promise of eternal life?
 
What the hell was he thinking about? The advent of that damned bird was making him crazy, wondering about stupid ideas that had no relevance. Who gave a potential afterlife’s curse if there was something more? Living for the moment was the only importance and he wanted this hearing over and done with so he could go and sleep or do something equally unchallenging.
 
The throb in his head meant that the bird was awaiting an answer. He didn’t want to make excuses, or even reply to the question. “I’ll stop insulting you when you stop insulting me,” he grumbled, unwilling even to say that.
 
“Does that mean you volunteer, Captain Zaraki? I was going to ask for a Captain to undertake this, but you seem eager.”
 
Bewildered he looked around. The abstraction from the strange ideas and questions had made him speak aloud and he’d missed the discussion that had continued. “For what?”
 
He heard giggling from Yachiru and a few others. Grinding his teeth he decided all agreements were void. He’d damn well insult the vulture for this.
 
“It is appropriate,” Yamamoto said smoothly. “You are now appointed the champion of the Gotei 13, which is appropriate for the Kenpachi. Tomorrow you will meet the 12th Division Captain and undergo the formal challenge that will ascertain his guilt. This hearing is suspended. Captain Kurotsuchi is permitted to return to his Division to put his affairs in order, but under supervision and the understanding that he is strictly confined to the precincts of his division. Captain Zaraki, you retain the freedom of the Seireitei, with the exclusion of the 12th Division. As 1st Division has the largest stadium we will convene there tomorrow. I will send you both copies of the rules of combat. Make certain you study them carefully. You are all dismissed.”
 
Yamamoto rose and swiftly left the room. Instantly the hum of conversation became a deafening roar. Two guards took custody of Kurotsuchi and escorted him with no ceremony from the room, as if fearing for his safety.
 
“What the hell’s happened now?” Zaraki asked. Events were moving too swiftly. A moment’s inattention and now he only a growing suspicion of what was going on.
 
—————————————————————– ——————————————-
Author’s Note:
 
I dedicate this chapter to RK, a close friend, a mentor and really nice guy who died too soon.
 
Please review.
 
MS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Delta MkII
Improbable Facts