Early in the morning, the day after the Tsutsuji festival, Captains Yagami and Touka along with Lieutenants Tanfon, Ranfon, Mizuki, Omaha, Itami, and Kurai Yousei were summoned to the office of the Commander-General.

Looking upon her subordinates, Amatarou bore a grim expression, vastly different than what had been there just a day earlier. “Last night around midnight, the head of the Itami family, Kakutasu Itami, was abducted. Risu flinched. “One of the shinigami posted at the monitoring stations noticed an odd spiritual reading and sent out a patrol unit to investigate. As it has recently been made mandatory to allow for future analysis, the unit was equipped with audio recording devices. Although it’s not the greatest of quality, I’m going to play the recoding for you to hear in order to get a better idea of what the situation is for yourselves.” Amatarou reached for a remote that lay on her desk and pressing a button began the recording:

… tracking unknown spiritual pressure … they’re heading for the exterior wall right by sector 9… but there’s no way they could break thorough to the Seireitei wall … don’t be so sure. It’s not like it hasn’t been pierced before and even if they can’t, this someone, or something, wouldn’t be going there without some sort of plan! But more importantly if this ryoka thinks that they can get best the wall then they must be extremely skilled. We mustn’t let our guard down! I’m also calling for backup … Units 2 and 3 stand ready at the outside of the wall incase we can’t stop them. The rest of you converge on sector 9. Use whatever force is necessary to restrain the ryoka but if that can’t be done don’t hesitate to take the bastard down! … Yes Sir! … … … Impossible … Unit 6 & 8 down! … No way! … He’s just to fas… Units 2 and 3 prepare for confrontation! … I think he just flew right past us sir! … After him men! … Where’s he headed now? … I have no idea … wait, he might … he might be heading for the Kiketsu Gate … what, you can’t be serious … well if that is the case we just won’t let them, right? … Right! … Attention units 2 & 3 the ryoka has reached the gate and is attempting to open it. He also seems to be carrying something, or someone … how can this be! He’s opening the gate! He’s …

The recording faded into a sea of static. “That’s where it ends. The alternate reishi emitted through the gate interfered with the devices,” explained Amatarou. “First of all, are you all aware of what the Kiketsu Gate is?” Most of the shinigami nodded but Mizuki looked away slightly embarrassed. Mikasi noticed this and spoke up, “Commander, I do not know.” She nodded and gave a small smile, understanding what her grandson was doing. “Well,” she began taking on a more thoughtful demeanor in anticipation of the ancient tale, “Kiketsu Gate put simply is a gate to hell but specifically it leads to a world called Noire Terre where corrupt souls are sent. Despite modern human conventions, ‘Hell’ is not a separate land within the Earth but is in fact a separate different universe comprised of twelve planets or ‘hells’ inhabited by beings known as demons … in our time when we as soul reapers come across deceased souls that are too corrupt to enter the soul society we send them through the hell gate but this didn’t uses to be the case. Originally all souls, good or evil, were allowed to pass on to the soul society but this caused turmoil within the Rukongai … Many eons ago the soul society and the armies of hell were entrenched in a massive war. This war lasted centuries and yet neither side was able to make any lasting progress. Eventually both sides agreed to a truce. But of course the truce was conditional with one of the conditions being to designate a neutral zone between demons and soul reapers located within hell, the moon Noire Terre, and that all corrupt souls be sent to spend the rest of their existence there.” As she finished her story she looked around her office gazing at the intent faces of her subordinates. She continued, “There is no other way of leaving Noire Terre except through our Kiketsu Gate and the demon’s  Gate and as our gate has remained shut and we have received word that theirs has also not been opened since we can assume that Kakutasu and the ryoka are still there. Now the fact that they have entered Noire Terre is both a blessing and a curse in that an attack or infiltration are unnecessary but the situation is a diplomatic nightmare. We were unable to take immediate action, as we have to have permission from both sides to enter. And additional trouble arises from whom was kidnapped. Kakutasu Itami is not just the head of the Itami family but is also one of the, if not the, most influential people within the entire soul society being the central figure of the noble houses, despite not being one of the four noble ones, and being adored by most of the Rukongai populace. It’s completely understandable that the elders of the Itami family are putting immense pressure on us to rescue him which beings me specifically to why I have summoned you all here. Your mission is to enter Noire Terre and retrieve Kakutasu Itami as quickly and delicately as possible. Normally we would not be sending quite so many high ranking offices for such a simple mission but due to the circumstances we need to ensure the perception that we are doing everything possible to rescue him. Well that’s the situation and there are your orders. I trust you all will pay the utmost care during this time.”

“Commander,” interjected Kurai, “You said that we got word that the other gate hadn’t been opened but we have no way of confirming that for our selves. Isn’t it possible that the demons are lying and in fact they have already left Noire Terre.” Amatarou grew very solemn, “That is also a possibility which may in fact be an even greater reason for so many of you to be sent for if we do not find any trace of Kakutasu or the ryoka that is what we will have to assume which would most likely result in all out war with the demons and a this point with so many recent attacks on the soul society we would most likely lose.” A moment of grave silence arose from the ominous thought. “Dismissed,” called the Commander.

As the officers we filing out of the roome Amatarou beckoned Amaririsu to stay. “Lieutenant Itami are you aware that your being assigned to this mission was at the specific request of the Itami family.”

In a demure manor she responded, “Although I assumed as much, I am not in close contact with the family at this time and was not directly informed.”

“Your presence on this mission is not only important to your family but as well to the Seireitei. You’re a intermediate between the two of us and if this mission should fail you shall be our best chance at salvaging the fundamental ties that have existed for ages between the Seireitei and the noble families. I am sure that you are well aware that if this situation does arise you would be in a position to become the new family head. I know that up until now you have avoided the issue and I have no authority to tell you what to do in terms of your personal affairs but I would hope that you would put aside your own feeling and do what’s best for not only the Itami family but the entire soul society.”

Risu paused but then replied quietly, “I understand.”

“Commander,” Amaririsu said as she bowed and then left the office

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