Rukia's Execution is an event taking place during the Ryoka Invasion, consisting of Rukia Kuchiki facing execution with the Sōkyoku for the crime of transferring her Shinigami powers to Ichigo Kurosaki.
On the morning of August 6th, Rukia Kuchiki and the rest of the Gotei 13 are told that the date of her execution has been changed for a final time from August 15th to August 7th, 29 hours from now. Following this, in the Shishinrō within Senzaikyū, Rukia lies on the floor and stares at the ceiling as she decides to ask the Gotei 13 to return Ichigo Kurosaki and the others safely to the Human World before she is executed tomorrow since her being part of the Kuchiki Clan means they might honor her request. Recalling how she was shocked to learn of the changed date earlier, Rukia mentally notes that she was not sad and attributes this to the dream she had last night about the night she would never forget as she begins recalling the night of Kaien Shiba's tragic death. In another part of the Seireitei, as he runs up to 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki on a walkway, 13th Division Captain Jūshirō Ukitake claims that they have a problem and attempts to inform him of the change in Rukia's execution date, only for Byakuya to reveal that he was informed of this by a Jigokuchō a short while ago.
Though Ukitake is initially relieved by this, he is stunned when Byakuya questions why this matters and asserts that he accepts the decision to change the execution to tomorrow. With Byakuya instructing Ukitake to not bother him with such petty matters and attempting to walk away, Ukitake grabs him by the shoulder and angrily calls him heartless while demanding to know if his sister being executed tomorrow means anything to him, causing him to break into a coughing fit out of exertion. Telling Ukitake to calm down because he will shorten his lifespan, Byakuya asserts that two or three more of his subordinates dying should not make a difference after he let one of them die already and walks off while warning Ukitake to not do anything foolish because Rukia living or dying should not be his concern due to her being part of Byakuya's family.
While watching Byakuya depart, Ukitake wonders what Kaien would have done in this situation and questions if the latter would have kicked Byakuya a few times or tried to save Rukia even though the dissent of a single captain would not sway the Central 46. However, Ukitake concludes that Kaien would not have done either of these things since he always chose the path of greatest peril. On the morning of Rukia's execution, 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya and 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru move out alongside their respective lieutenants, Rangiku Matsumoto and Izuru Kira, while four members of the Kidō Corps prepare to transport Rukia as she emerges from her cell.
In the Sixth Division barracks five hours prior to Rukia's scheduled execution, Byakuya stands before a shrine to Hisana Kuchiki, and upon being informed that it is time for him to travel to Sōkyoku Hill, Byakuya acknowledges this and closes the shrine while telling Hisana that he is departing. Meanwhile, at the Seventh Division barracks, Lieutenant Tetsuzaemon Iba runs across the plaza, leaps into the air, tucks his knees underneath him, and holds his fists out as he lands on the deck and slides to a halt in front of his captain, Sajin Komamura, whom he apologizes to for delaying their departure by falling asleep on the toilet before promising to cut open his own stomach in order to atone for this.
However, Komamura assures Iba that this is unnecessary because he is ready, which Iba nervously acknowledges, and tells Iba that he did not need to concern himself. When Iba claims to not know what he is referring to, Komamura instructs him to not lie and details how Iba tried to delay their departure so Komamura could have time to think due to believing the latter had doubts about the execution. With Iba admitting that this is true, Komamura asserts that he has no such doubts and declares that his only motivation is his debt of gratitude to Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto before elaborating that Yamamoto taking him in when he was shunned by all due to his appearance means that the least he can do is devote himself to repaying Yamamoto's kindness.
After concluding that he has no doubts and that he is ready to give his life should Yamamoto require it, Komamura asks 9th Division Captain Kaname Tōsen how he feels about this as the latter stands behind Iba with his lieutenant, Shūhei Hisagi. Tōsen states that he is doing fine and reminds Komamura that the only thing reflected in his blind eyes is the path of least bloodshed, which means that the path he travels is the same as Komamura's. At the Second Division barracks, Lieutenant Marechiyo Ōmaeda walks behind his captain, Suì-Fēng, past several intimidated Shinigami and eats out of a bag of rice crackers as he complains about those arguing over whether the execution is right or wrong on top of the trouble stemming from the Ryoka and the murder of 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen. With Marechiyo describing those who are complaining as idiots, Suì-Fēng asserts that right or wrong does not concern her and that all she cares about are her duties and honor.
Concluding that anyone interfering with this is her enemy and she will simply kill all enemies, which Marechiyo acknowledges, Suì-Fēng reminds him that this applies to him as well and warns him that he will become her enemy should he forget his place and get in her way, leaving him to promise to remember this in irritation as she walks away. Elsewhere, 8th Division Captain Shunsui Kyōraku hums to himself as he lies on top of a roof with a blade of grass in his mouth. When his lieutenant, Nanao Ise, climbs up and demands to know what he is doing here because he needs to get ready, Shunsui inquires if he can tell her about a small problem he has, which Nanao asks him about.
Shunsui explains that he put the blade of grass in his mouth due to thinking it would make him look cool but thinks it might be poisonous since the inside of his mouth is numb, prompting Nanao to angrily yank it out of his mouth while berating him for not doing this sooner. Upon being asked by Shunsui what he should do, Nanao questions why he is coming to her about this and points out how he will do what he wants regardless of what she says, but assures him that she will stay a few steps behind Shunsui regardless of what he does so she does not get caught up in the mess, leading Shunsui to note that he will be the only one getting scolded by Yamamoto once more, which Nanao smiles at while Yamamoto and his lieutenant, Chōjirō Sasakibe, move out.
Later, on the bridge leading to Sōkyoku Hill with four members of the Kidō Corps restraining and escorting her, Rukia is stunned upon sensing 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai's Reiatsu disappear after his battle against Byakuya concludes, mentally admitting that she could not tell the Reiatsu was his prior to this because it was so powerful, and begins demanding to know why Renji ended up in this situation, prompting the members of the Kidō Corps to hold her back with their hands. Suddenly, Rukia sees Gin approaching her on the bridge as the latter greets her. When Rukia addresses him informally in response, Gin scolds her for not addressing formally.
When Gin promises that Byakuya will scold her if she keeps this up, an unnerved Rukia apologizes, but Gin chuckles and reveals that he was not being serious, nor would he tell Byakuya, because they are friends. Upon being asked by Rukia what he is doing here, Gin claims that he just decided to take a walk and tease Rukia a bit. Rukia mentally asserts that she has always hated Gin and recalls how Gin would come over to talk to Byakuya after they became captains of their respective divisions while Byakuya was walking with her, and though a casual observer would not have seen anything special in their meaningless conversations, she broke into a cold sweat the first time she saw Gin because every aspect of his body language felt like that of a hungry snake, to the point where it felt like his hands were around her throat and leaving her unable to blink even while he talked to Byakuya.
As she remembers how Gin's venom seeped into the small cracks of everyday life and left her feeling intense fear around him, Rukia ruminates that something deep inside her was repulsed by everything about him, a feeling which never went away no matter how many times she talked to him and persists even now. When Gin asks her what is wrong and observes that she seems distracted, a sweating Rukia apologizes. Suddenly, Gin notes that Renji is still alive, and when she looks in Renji's direction, a shocked Rukia realizes that she can sense Renji's Reiryoku if she focuses hard enough, but begins to note that he will die if he is left like that, only for Gin to finish her train of thought aloud.
With Rukia glaring at him, Gin expresses sympathy for Renji due to him ending up in this situation because he was trying to save her, and when Rukia angrily accuses him of lying, Gin inquires if she is afraid. As Rukia questions what he means, Gin points out how she does not want Renji and the others to die before observing that the thought of death becomes much more terrifying when one fears for the lives of those they care about. Stunned by this, Rukia is astonished alongside the members of the Kidō Corps when Gin offers to help her. Gin elaborates that he could free Rukia right now and help her friends if he chose to do so, leading Rukia to wonder if he has gone mad and what he would gain by helping Ichigo and Renji. However, just as Rukia begins to believe that he may be sincere, Gin reveals that he was just kidding.
Rukia is left speechless as Gin walks away while bidding her farewell and promising to see Rukia at the Sōkyoku. Internally, Rukia notes that she thought she had given up hope and lost all reason to live, with no regrets and no fear of death, but was shaken by having something like hope dangled in front of her, which made her want to live and made her resolve crumble, as she falls to her knees and screams in despair with Gin smiling behind her. Afterward, on Sōkyoku Hill, Rukia is led to the execution platform and closes her eyes as Yamamoto stands with Chōjirō and declares that the execution shall begin.
Countdown to the End
In front of the execution platform, Suì-Fēng stands with Marechiyo and observes that the turnout is pretty measly, with only her, Marechiyo, 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana, Lieutenant Isane Kotetsu, Shunsui, and Nanao attending. As she admits that the Fifth Division, Eleventh Division, and Twelfth Division not being present makes sense, but wonders what the head Shinigami of the other divisions are thinking, Suì-Fēng is surprised when Byakuya arrives, and when a stunned Rukia addresses him, Byakuya looks away and walks over to the rest of the captains, leaving Rukia to stand in silence before being asked by Yamamoto if she has any last words. Looking down, Rukia confirms that she has only one thing to say. Shortly afterward, an immense amount of Reiatsu begins emanating from Sōkyoku Hill as a ring of Kidō fire is formed around the Sōkyoku. Around the Seireitei, 13th Division 3rd Seat Sentarō Kotsubaki, Orihime Inoue, Uryū Ishida, Rangiku, and a wounded 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame look in shock at the execution commencement.
After noting that it has begun, Hitsugaya orders Rangiku to come with him, and the two of them depart for the Central 46 Compound while 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori lurks behind a nearby doorway. Meanwhile, as he watches from a window, Sentarō frantically asks his fellow 3rd Seat, Kiyone Kotetsu, where Ukitake has gone, prompting an irritated Kiyone to berate him for being so loud before screaming out for Ukitake, leaving Sentarō unimpressed. Hurrying toward the doors that Ukitake entered, Kiyone asks him if he is ready because Rukia's execution has begun, only to be left speechless when the doors open and Ukitake emerges. After apologizing for keeping them waiting and explaining that he had trouble removing the seal, Ukitake declares that he is ready now and observes that this is the only method they have left with the Central 46 not listening to them before concluding that they are going to destroy the Sōkyoku as he carries the Shihōin Shield, prompting Sentarō and Kiyone to affirm this. Near Sōkyoku Hill, 11th Division Lieutenant Yachiru Kusajishi runs with Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado, Uryū, Ganju Shiba, and Makizō Aramaki, where Orihime wonders what the surge of energy is.
When Yachiru notes that the execution may have begun, a startled Uryū asserts that they have to hurry. Yachiru decides to go on ahead, and when Orihime questions this, Yachiru admits that she does not care about the execution, but wants to help Ichigo if he is there. Though Orihime thanks her for this, Yachiru merely laughs at her thanks and points out that she has no reason to not help Ichigo because the latter is Kenpachi's friend, stunning Orihime, Uryū, and Sado, before requesting that they take care of the weaker enemies so she can deal with the stronger ones as she rushes ahead in a burst of speed that destroys the portion of the ground which she was standing on, leaving Uryū and Ganju astonished by her speed while Orihime thanks Yachiru again.
Meanwhile, on the bridge where he was defeated, Renji regains consciousness to find he is being healed by 4th Division 7th Seat Hanatarō Yamada, who timidly greets him. Standing nearby, Rikichi Yuki reveals that he brought Hanatarō here after finding an opportunity to break the latter out of his cell because he figured Hanatarō would be willing to help someone with the same goal as him. After explaining how he wants Renji to fight for what he believes in despite what he has done over the past few days, Rikichi gives Renji new clothing and Hanatarō requests that he save Rukia in Hanatarō's stead, which a revitalized Renji agrees to do.
On Sōkyoku Hill, Yamamoto promises Rukia that they will allow the Ryoka to leave unharmed after the execution, which Rukia thanks him for. Though Isane considers this cruel because Yamamoto has no intention of letting the Ryoka live, Unohana clarifies that Yamamoto was being compassionate since this will allow Rukia to die with some peace of mind and without worrying. With several members of the Kidō Corps assembled around the Sōkyoku, Yamamoto orders the commencement of the execution. Near Sōkyoku Hill, several Shinigami observe the Sōkyoku being released as the large ropes entwining it are unbound and left to fall off the cliff, where they crash into the ground below with heavy thuds, leaving the Sōkyoku bare. As she stands on the execution stand before it, Rukia observes that her heart is at peace even after Gin's words shook her, and though she initially assumes this is due to Yamamoto's promise to spare the lives of the Ryoka, Rukia comes to believe that it is actually the result of Byakuya turning his back on her.
With Byakuya continuing to look away as he stands with the other captains and lieutenants, Rukia thanks him. Suddenly, the restraints binding Rukia's arms behind her back dissipate as three medium-size cubes rise from the platform in front of Rukia, splaying her arms outward on either side and locking her legs together by hovering in front of them before ascending toward the top of the execution scaffold with her frozen in place. Seeing Nanao watching this nervously, Shunsui asks her to not look so sad because she is making him feel bad, prompting Nanao to clarify that it is not sadness she is feeling while Rukia is suspended before the top of the execution scaffold.
Suddenly, flames flare out from the base of the Sōkyoku and wreathe themselves around the massive halberd, shocking Marechiyo. While watching the Sōkyoku ascend into the air from its hole in the ground, Suì-Fēng and Isane realize that it is changing shape, to Shunsui's surprise, and the Sōkyoku transforms into Kikōō, a massive phoenix composed entirely of flame. Yamamoto explains that Kikōō is the true form of the Sōkyoku and will end the execution by impaling Rukia, who mentally states that she is not afraid because she has had a good life. After reviewing how Renji befriended her, Byakuya took her in, and Kaien guided her, Rukia recalls how Ichigo tried to save her and concludes that she has no pain, sorrow, or regrets, to the point that her heart will leave nothing behind. With Renji, Ukitake, Sentarō, Kiyone, Orihime, Sado, and Uryū rushing toward Sōkyoku Hill, Rukia thanks them all and sheds a single tear before bidding Ichigo goodbye as she closes her eyes upon seeing Kikōō charging at her.
However, as the burst of flame from the resulting collision clears, Rukia realizes that she is not dead and opens her eyes in astonishment to find a Tentōken-clad Ichigo standing before her in midair while holding back Kikōō with his Shikai, Zangetsu, and casually greeting her. Rukia demands to know why he is here, and with Ichigo taken aback by her reaction, Rukia asserts that Ichigo should know he cannot beat Byakuya, who will certainly kill him now. While Rukia claims to have made peace with her death and tells Ichigo to go away, Suì-Fēng is left incredulous by Ichigo stopping the destructive power of one million Zanpakutō with a single Zanpakutō and wonders who he is.
Unohana, Isane, and Chōjirō stare in shock as Shunsui asks Nanao if Ichigo is the one whom Sado was talking about. When Nanao confirms that he matches the description in the reports they have received, Shunsui notes that the Ryoka is the one saving the day while Byakuya glares at Ichigo. Suddenly, Kikōō screeches and rears back, startling Ichigo, who realizes that Kikōō is backing up for a second strike and encourages him to bring it on despite Rukia frantically warning Ichigo that he will not be able to stop Kikōō a second time. However, before Ichigo and Kikōō can clash once more, a large cable attached to a metal rod wraps itself around the neck of Kikōō, to Ichigo and Rukia's shock, as Ukitake, having activated the Shihōin Shield, arrives alongside Sentarō and Kiyone.
With Shunsui driving the rod into the ground and inquiring what took Ukitake so long, Isane is aghast at him joining this as well. While Yamamoto stares in shock, Ukitake apologizes and notes that he had trouble releasing the seal while slamming the remainder of the Shihōin Shield into the ground, where Suì-Fēng sees the Shihōin Clan crest on the side and deduces that Ukitake and Shunsui are going to destroy the Sōkyoku, prompting her to order a stunned Marechiyo to stop them. Despite this, Shunsui and Ukitake draw their Zanpakutō and slice them down the length of the Shihōin Shield on opposite sides, sending a surge of Reiryoku up through both sides of the cable to Kikōō, who bursts apart in a shower of flames as the Sōkyoku within is split in two. While those on the ground shield themselves from the falling embers, Ichigo moves to the top of the execution scaffold behind Rukia, who questions what he is doing.
Ichigo begins spinning Zangetsu around while proclaiming that he is going to wreck the scaffold. Though Rukia attempts to inform him that the scaffold is designed to withstand the destructive power of a million Zanpakutō, Ichigo simply tells her to shut up and watch before driving Zangetsu into the scaffold and channeling his Reiryoku into it, resulting in the central portion of the scaffold being destroyed and the platform at the bottom being split in a massive explosion of force that rips through the underside of the cliff that they are positioned on as well.
As the dust clears, Ichigo reminds Rukia that he is rejecting her protests and declares that he really is going to save Rukia this time on his second try while standing on the right side of the scaffold and carrying Rukia under his left arm. With Rukia tearfully claiming that she will not thank him for doing so, Ichigo acknowledges this while Byakuya stares at them from below. Yamamoto, Suì-Fēng, Marechiyo, Unohana, Isane, Shunsui, Ukitake, Sentarō, and Kiyone stare in shock at Ichigo's destruction of the execution scaffold. While Byakuya glares at Ichigo, Rukia asks him what he plans to do now because he is too hopelessly outnumbered to simply disappear, and when Ichigo responds that he will run away, a startled Rukia points out how there are captains down there, prompting an annoyed Ichigo to claim that he will beat them up and then run away. Reminding Rukia that she is not the only one whom he has to save, Ichigo details how he has to save Orihime, Uryū, Sado, Ganju, and Hanatarō as well so he can save everyone who helped him.
As she looks at Ichigo's confident face, Rukia realizes that his strength is flowing into her and notes that Ichigo has become strong. Suddenly, Ichigo and Rukia are alerted to a commotion on the ground, where they look to see Renji incapacitating the members of the Kidō Corps present as he arrives. With Rukia expressing relief at Renji being alive as he sees her, Ichigo lifts Rukia above his head, and as Renji realizes what he is about to do, Ichigo tells Renji to catch and hurls a screaming Rukia at him, leaving a flabbergasted Renji to berate him before being sent flying back upon catching Rukia in his arms. However, when Rukia and Renji begin admonishing him for doing this, Ichigo orders Renji to stop standing around and get Rukia out of here while protecting her with his life, which Renji complies with.
As he watches Renji run off with Rukia in astonishment, Marechiyo is ordered by Suì-Fēng to pursue Renji, and with similar commands from their captains, Chōjirō and Isane join Marechiyo in running after Renji. Upon seeing this, Ichigo appears in front of the three lieutenants with Shunpo, shocking them, and embeds Zangetsu into the ground. In response, Isane releases her Shikai, Itegumo, granting her sword two additional blades at 45-degree angles, while Chōjirō transforms his Zanpakutō into a rapier by releasing his Shikai, Gonryōmaru, and Marechiyo releases his Shikai, Gegetsuburi, transforming his Zanpakutō into a large spiked ball on a chain, only for Ichigo to shatter it with a single punch to Marechiyo's gut that knocks him out, astonishing Isane and Chōjirō.
After grabbing Chōjirō's sword arm by the wrist to restrain him, Ichigo knocks him out with a blow to the head from his other hand, and with Isane stunned that he is not even using his Zanpakutō, Ichigo knocks her out with a single blow as well before pulling Zangetsu out of the ground to block a slash from Byakuya, whom he greets audaciously.
Byakuya inquires why Ichigo insists on trying to save Rukia, prompting Ichigo to demand to know why Byakuya does not save Rukia despite being her brother in return. Pausing for a moment, Byakuya asserts that this is a foolish question and that Ichigo would not understand his reasoning even if he did answer before concluding that there is nothing to discuss. After asking Ichigo if he is ready, Byakuya begins exerting his Reiatsu while pushing down on Zangetsu with his Zanpakutō, resulting in Ichigo breaking the sword lock by leaping several meters back. Byakuya states that only one path is open for him to take and promises that both Ichigo and Rukia will die by his hand, and after Ichigo removes the Tentōken, he and Byakuya rush toward each other.
Nearby, Kiyone attempts to run to an unconscious Isane out of concern, and while Sentarō warns her that she will get killed if she gets too close to Byakuya's fight, Suì-Fēng sends him flying with a single blow and confronts Kiyone, who looks back in shock. With Ukitake attempting to get Suì-Fēng to stop, he and Shunsui find themselves confronted by Yamamoto, who orders them to stop and dismisses Renji as being easily expendable and replaceable for taking Rukia. However, after noting that they will pursue Renji later because of this, Yamamoto asserts that Shunsui and Ukitake are a more serious matter due to having dishonored their rank of captain, which they should know the fatal consequences of. Hearing this, Shunsui claims that they have no choice but to run and leaps off Sōkyoku Hill while pulling Ukitake along with him and being followed by Nanao, leaving Yamamoto to glare down at him.
Though Ukitake points out that his subordinates are still up there as they fall, Shunsui reminds him that Sentarō and Kiyone would try to help them and thus get themselves killed if they fought Yamamoto on Sōkyoku Hill before revealing that they will be fine because he sensed an ally approaching. Back on Sōkyoku Hill, Kiyone is pinned under Suì-Fēng's foot and struggles to breathe as Suì-Fēng admonishes her for disgracing the Gotei 13 with her contemptible actions and promises to put Kiyone out of her misery before she can disgrace herself any further. However, before Suì-Fēng can do anything, a masked Yoruichi Shihōin grabs and tackles her off the side of Sōkyoku Hill, and as they fall to the ground below, Suì-Fēng demands that Yoruichi let go of her. With Suì-Fēng questioning who she is, Yoruichi observes that her temperament has not improved and removes the fabric covering her face, causing Suì-Fēng to recognize her, before attacking Suì-Fēng with a Kidō spell as they crash into the forest below.
Shortly afterward, Isane regains consciousness, and when Unohana asks her if she is awake, a startled Isane begins to bolt up and apologize, only for Unohana to instruct her to take it easy despite not being hit as hard as Marechiyo and Chōjirō were before instructing her Shikai, Minazuki, to descend, prompting the large, one-eyed, manta ray-like creature they are riding on to land in one of the streets of the Seireitei. Upon being approached by members of her division, who ask her and Isane if they are alright, Isane confirms this and has Minazuki spit out the individuals it was healing with its stomach acid, among them Marechiyo, Chōjirō, and Kiyone.
While Minazuki proceeds to return to its sealed state in Unohana's sheath by melting down to fit, Unohana notes that they should have recovered somewhat in the stomach of Minazuki and instructs her subordinates to have them rest at the sixteenth relief station until they wake up, which is complied with. When Isane senses the Reiatsu emanating from the distant Sōkyoku Hill and realizes that someone is still up there, Unohana reveals that Ichigo is fighting Byakuya, and after observing that they are not strong enough to stop the other captains who left to fight, Unohana requests that Isane come with her because there is somewhere she wants to go.