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The Royal Special Task Force, known commonly as the Royal Guard or Zero Division, is the most powerful militant force in all of Soul Society. An organization made up of former Captains of the Gotei 13 who were promoted to this level, the Royal Guard serve as the personal bodyguards of the Spirit King and the royal family. Only captains of the Gotei 13 know of their existence, though others have been known to discover them. As former elite captains of the Gotei 13, the members of the Royal Guard have considerable power and tactical knowledge. They are the highest class of Shinigami and only answer to the King: not even the Central 46 Chambers or the Grand Sovereign Council have authority over them. While the Royal Guard is a single force, it is made up from five smaller divisions, known as the Royal Ring of Five Guards.
Similar to the Gotei 13, the Royal Special Task Force has ranks. However, the ranks in the Royal Guard function differently than that of the Gotei 13. Unlike the twenty reserved ranks for officers, and the the existence of non-ranked Shinigami, the Royal Guard consists of five smaller divisions known as the Ring of Five, have only two separate leader-appointed ranks, and because all members of the Royal Guard were former captains, there are no major gaps in power between individuals.
The Supreme Commander (最高司令官, soudaishou; Supreme-Commander) is the head captain of the Royal Special task Force, and the true personal bodyguard of the Spirit King. The Supreme Commander also holds the position of being the head of the First Ring of the Ring of Five. The Supreme Commander is said to be the most powerful member of the Royal Guard, as well as being the wisest and most experienced.
A High Marshal (高統帥, kunshi gensui; High-Marshal) is the leader captain of one of the Rings of Five (excluding the special case of the Supreme Commander). Unlike in the Gotei 13, where captains are generally the most respected and powerful Shinigami, the position of High Marshal merely reflects one chosen for responsibility and experience in leadership. Also unlike in the Gotei 13, where captains are chosen though several means, the positions of a High Marshal are unquestioned and unchallenged. Chosen directly by the Supreme Commander, High Marshals and almost never removed or replaced.
A Captain (隊長, taichō; Captain) entirely make up the Royal Guard, including the High Marshals and the Supreme Commander. The title of captain exists in every one of the Ring of Five, and functions very differently than in the Gotei 13. The title of captain is simply an extension from their time in the Gotei 13. Because of this, there are no true superior ranks - in the sense of power - within the Royal Guard. The closest existence to division in power or ability are the classes of the Royal Ring of Five Guards, which seperate the captains by their ring. Captains are divided by "levels", which are according to their ring.
Royal Ring of Five Guards
|Ring||High Marshal||Former Marshal||Collective class||Synopsis|
|Ring of One||Supreme Commander Akihito Kagoshima||Shu Nephthys||1st Level Captain||The Ring of One is the closest division to the royal family, and acts as the royal family's direct bodyguards. The leader of the Ring of One, the Supreme Commander, acts as the Spirit King's personal bodyguard. The Ring of One consists of the Royal Guard's wisest, most experienced and most loyal captains. The Ring of One is also the only division of the Royal Guard that is merged with the Spirit King's advisory council. The members of the Ring of One have access to the innermost areas of the Spirit King's palace. Along with the Ring of Two, the Ring of One are the only captains actually allowed to see the Spirit King or the royal family.|
|Ring of Two||Masako Yamamoto||Sakura Hazumi||2nd Level Captain||The Ring of Two are the directly chosen successors to the members of the Ring of One. Chosen for their devotion, wisdom and potential, the Ring of Two serve the Spirit King under the direct guidance of the Ring of One. As such, the Ring of Two guard the royal family and the Spirit King from inside the palace. Unlike the Ring of One, the Ring of Two do not have immediate access to the personal chambers of the royal family and are not part of the Spirit King's advisory council.|
|Ring of Three||Takai Kibaki||Kimiko||3rd Level Captain||The Ring of Three are the third tier of security in the Royal Guard. Unlike the Ring of One and the Ring of Two, the Ring of Three have minimal access to the palace of the royal family. The Ring of Three primarily guard the outer and inner courtyards of the royal palace and must call to the Ring of Two to pass information to the Ring of One. The Ring of Three are virtually the same as the Ring of Two, save for the fact that they were not chosen to be successors to the Ring of One. Also unlike the Ring of One and the Ring of Two, the Ring of Three have never seen, and will never see, the Spirit King nor the royal family.|
|Ring of Four||Renge Yamato||Asaka Miyagi, Suzuka Shihōin||4th Level Captain||The Ring of Four are unique to the in that they share some of the responsibilities of the Ring of Three and the Ring of Five. Like the other Royal Ring of Five Guards, The Ring of Four are powerful, but less experienced or inadequate to higher position due to personal flaws, such as brashness or impulsiveness. Like the Ring of Three, the members of the Ring of Four are not authorized to enter the royal palace, to see the royal family, or to see the Spirit King.|
|Ring of Five||Ryan Getsueikirite||Enjiuu Kuchiki||5th Level Captain||The Ring of Five are the guards of the outermost areas of the Spirit King's palace. Unlike the other Royal Ring of Five Guards, the Ring of Five are not even authorized to enter the palace grounds. Instead, the Ring of Five patrol the palace grounds from the outside, and are generally seen as the sentinels and watchmen of the Royal Ring of Five Guards. In order to send their reports, the Ring of Five must pass information through the other Rings. Nearly all Shinigami captains began in the Ring of Five, and it is where newly appointed captains are often placed. After observing their qualities, captains will either stay in the Ring of Five, or be transferred to higher rings.|
The uniforms of the Royal Guard are both similar and different from those in the Gotei 13. Like in the Gotei 13, High Marshals and the Supreme Commander have distinguished uniforms. Like the lieutenants of the Gotei 13, the High Marshals have armbands with a crest-plate of the Royal Guard's insignia and their ring (the Ring of Three has three rings in their insignia, while the Ring of Five has five rings in their insignia). The Supreme Commander also has a silver tomoe medallion, which distinguishes him as the head of the Royal Guard.
The rings are also divided by color, albeit subtly. Like the captains of the Gotei 13, the captains have their haori from their time as a captain in the Seireitei. However, the edges of their haroi are lined with one of five different colors; Ring of Five is amethyst, Ring of Four is cerulean, Ring of Three is crimson, Ring of Two is viridian, and Ring of One is gold.
Traditionally, all members of the Royal Special Task Force were former captains of the Gotei 13. Kirio Hikifune, who was a former Captain of the Twelfth Division, and Takashi Ishigawa, who was a former Captain of the Tenth Division,were two such members. However, exceptions were known to have been made, such as the case of Kazuki Ashira, better known as Ashira the Deserter, and Naoki Kawaguchi, a medicinal prodigy. Kazuki's appointment was outside of the traditional cycle of only captains being recruited into the Royal Guard.
- ※ represents a current High Marshal
- ⁂ represents former members of the Royal Guard
Ring of One
Ring of Two
- Masako Yamamoto
- Kirio Hikifune
- Kazuki Ashira
- Sakura Hazumi ⁂
- Fukyuko Ichidou ⁂
- Takashi Ishigawa
- Naoki Kawaguchi
- Enjiuu Kuchiki
Ring of Three
Ring of Four
Ring of Five
- Ryan Getsueikirite ※
- Mujihi Akudama
- Alex Getsueikirite
- Mayura Getsueikirite
- Mokin Kurushimi
- Ra-neb ⁂
Main article: Kinenbuke The Royal Special Task Force has one other branch. This branch exists in the dimension of Hoka Seken. It's purpose is to be the King's elite guard over Hueco Mundo and Soul Society. Just as the Gotei 13 is the army for Soul Society, this group, called the Kinenbuke, are the King's direct army. All belong to the Ring of Five.
Behind the scenes
The Royal Special Task Force was originally intended to essentially be a second barebone Royal Guard article, but was expanded on before submission to be a open-edit article.