Rumours of the events in Kusajishi have finally travelled to the Seirietei, and to the ears of Hitsugaya. Not only has someone amassed a sizeable army, but has now ordered the felling and clearing away of the surrounding forest, and Hitsugaya is beginning to suspect that all of this is the Bounts’ doing. But first, he intends to contact and recruit Renji Abarai, a person who has had considerable experience with the Bounts already.
Also keeping an eye on the situation is Ganju, who is being kept up to speed by the Daiji Hirasako, the so-called ‘Bull of Kusajishi’. As an additional favour, Ganju asks him to assemble some men of their own, which he is initially skeptical about.
After the sneak attack on the Seireitei, repairs are underway. Mayuri suspects that this attack was carried out simply as a diversion, which he explains to fellow Captains Shinsui and Ukitake. This leads him to have some sort of realisation, as his conversation trails off, and he and Nemu leave as suddenly as they arrived.
Ichigo, Ishida and Ririn are all having a meal with Rantao, who seems to have recovered after suddenly falling asleep from exhaustion earlier. Ishida finally has the chance to ask the question he has been itching to ask since he met her; why is she the splitting image of Yoshino, the Bount he had recently acquainted himself with? Rantao replies that Yoshino was probably an exact copy of her that was used in their experiments. Apparently this was a modus operandi for these experiments, seeing that there would be moral issues arising if they used human souls, so the Shinigami would create artificial copies of themselves with which to experiment (um, okay, but isn’t there also a moral issue here as well?)
This explains the Bounts’ exceptional strength, as well as their ability to summon entities, in this case substituting zanpakuto for dolls, and also explains the Mod Souls’ abilities to sense them, since they were later offshoots of the same technology.
Mayuri, after some investigation, has been able to identify Ichinose as the rogue Bount, who has been entering through the Senkaimon, while rendering himself invisible (apparently one of his abilities). However he has not been able to completely disguise his presence, which Mayuri manages to discern via security footage. Mayuri also realises that he was made a fool of, as he discovers Ichinose manipulated his data, so that his attention would be deliberately directed to the Quincy bracelet that he lent to Ishida. Needless to say, he is not amused in the least that he was being used…
Hitsugaya and Rangiku have managed to rendezvous with Renji in Kusajishi Forest, so that they can spy on the activities of Kariya and his army. Rangiku notices that his zanpakuto hasn’t recovered, probably since he used its special attacks while in the living world, and is concerned about this since a conflict is impending. Renji assures her not to worry, since he probably won’t be needing a zanpakuto to deal with some ordinary thugs. If any Bounts are encountered, though, Hitsugaya supposes that he can always report back to base as a messenger.
Ichigo and Ishida eventually set off to confront Kariya, leaving Yoshino behind, who says she has her own preparations to make. Before they leave, she warns Ishida for the final time about his extremely unpredictable bracelet, which, among other things, may suddenly cease to function, or may even explode without warning.
Meanwhile, Ichinose has detected the incoming shinigami and reports this to Kariya, who entrusts him to deal with them. Waiting patiently, he is eventually confronted by Hitsugaya, who is baffled as to why a shinigami would want to help the Bounts. Ichinose declares that he no longer considers himself a shinigami, but a comrade of Kariya, whom he believes is on the side of justice. But this misunderstanding can’t be resolved with mere words, and so the fight begins.
The battle hasn’t gone on for very long, when Ichigo and Ishida appear out of the woods. Renji and Rangiku then also arrive, followed by Chad and Orihime astride a boar. Orihime lets them know that Ganju is currently dealing with the thugs in the forest along with his comrade. But strangely, their numbers happen to be few, not at all consistent with the reports, something that Rangiku also noticed on her way through the forest. Ichinose informs them that, regretfully for them, the majority of the army are already on their way to the Seireitei…
Just as Ichinose has claimed, the Bounts have begun arriving at the Seireitei entrance, and Koga, Yoshi and Mabashi find themselves face to face with the giant guard Jidanbo. When Jidanbo refuses them entry, Koga summons Dalk to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, the other gates of the Seireitei are also under attack, one by Sawatari’s doll Baura, another by Kariya’s army carrying a giant makeshift battering ram they constructed from the felled forest trees. Kariya looks on in satisfaction as his plan comes to fruition… the Seireitei, and the Shinigami within, are now beset on all sides… the invasion has officially begun.