The three-way fight is in full swing. Kariya, Byakuya and Ichigo are hurling their most powerful attacks at each other, Ichigo being the only one who thinks he has an ally in this fight, Byakuya having no regard for whether Ichigo is in the way or not. The awesome combination of all three simultaneous attacks causes a huge explosion, leaving a giant crater in the ground. Meanwhile, Ishida is nearing, and seeing the aftermath of all the ruckus from afar, proceeds in their direction.
Ichigo still has trouble keeping up with Kariya, which Kariya tells him has to do more with experience than actual speed, as he is able to anticipate his moves beforehand.
Maybe he speaks too soon, as he doesn’t notice he has a slight injury, but takes care of it immediately by healing himself with reishi. He declares himself immortal, which Byakuya takes issue with, and decides to test that debatable theory, sending waves of his Senbonzakura blades towards him. Kariya barely manages to escape unscathed.
The fight is stopped suddenly, when there is a sudden crash and explosion of unknown origin at their battleground. A female figure begins to emerge from the smoke and dust, and Ichigo is astonished as a look of recognition dawns across his face…
The woman before them is either Yoshino returned from the dead, or a doppelganger of some sort. Kariya, who is taken aback himself by her appearance, asks her to identify herself. She then announces herself as Rantao, the ‘evil researcher’ that was spoken of previously, and this elicits even more shock from Ichigo, and a look of hatred emanates from Kariya, as he realises the person before him is the one he blames for putting the Bounts in their current predicament.
Kariya looks like he is about to confront her, but Ichigo gets between them both, telling him that she should stay alive so that she can be interrogated for information. Kariya replies that he has no intention of killing her, as he wants her to stay alive to see the Bounts achieve their ultimate goal.
Byakuya, who is clearly impatient with all the standing and talking, interrupts by sending his attacks at Kariya, and the fighting resumes. This time Ichigo gets a hit in, injuring Kariya again, but then the battleground is swarmed by metallic balls, signifying the timely arrival of Koga and Dalk. Koga suggests to Kariya to use his disturbance as an opportunity to withdraw from the fight. Byakuya decides not to go after them, at least for now, and leaves without much fanfare. That leaves Ichigo alone with Rantao, giving him the opportunity to inquire as to her intentions. What was bound to happen does, as Ishida arrives on the scene, and is shocked to see Yoshino standing there, alive.
Rantao takes them to her strange, somewhat dilapidated house, where she tends to Ichigo’s wounds. She takes the opportunity to tell them about the sordid history of the Bounts, beginning with the experiment that created them.
The Soul Society, refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility for what they created, disallowed the Bounts from entering their domain, leaving the Bounts no option but to try to force their way in. It was then that the Quincies intervened, and the conflict began. The Soul Society took advantage of the situation, and decisively began their slaughter of the Bounts, the remnants of which now comprise Kariya’s small group of followers.
Ishida asks Rantao why it was she never intervened into the Bounts’ affairs, when she was the one responsible for creating them. To his and Ichigo’s surprise, Rantao partly disrobes, revealing the symbol on her back that seals away her shinigami powers, no doubt done by the shinigami after she was exiled. This also meant that she was not able to go to the World of the Living.
Much of Rantao’s differences with the Soul Society stemmed from the fact that she suggested that the Soul Society admit their mistake publicly and accept the Bounts, which of course never happened. She also anticipated the current situation, where the Bounts would inevitably try to return to the Soul Society.
On further conversation, Rantao finds out about the Bounts needing Ishida’s Quincy powers in order to get into the Soul Society, and is also skeptical about the bracelet he has on his arm, which she recognises as a dangerous artifact. Before she can finish, she begins to feel faint from weakness, to the concern of both Ishida and Ichigo. She states that her condition is due to the aftereffects of self-experimentation, and will need half a day to rest and recover, which does nothing to abate the others’ concern. She then promptly falls asleep. Ichigo and Ishida decide to stick around to ask her further questions when she awakes.
Elsewhere, Ganju has managed to successfully find the Bull of Kusajishi and his men, but more importantly, the ragtag army of men that Ichinose has attracted keeps growing, and they’ve congregated outside the place where Kariya, Koga and Ichinose are currently holed up, and they look ready to raise hell… looks like a full-on uprising has begun, courtesy of Kariya…