Seireitei, expansive as ever, stretched out below the open office of Captain Kōgetsu, glowing a bright white under the midday sun. The office was long, with polished, wooden boards the stretched from one end—with a full desk and a wooden chair to match—to the other. The entire length of it, on one side, looked out over the city, with little but a thin railing to interrupt the view. Kōgetsu stood in the shade as he stared at the city.

The door at the other side of his office slid open and the quiet voice of another man beckoned someone else within.

He turned his head and saw the young woman—nearly still an infant—of golden hair. He smiled, as he knew what it must have been like to be summoned by someone like him. Despite how long ago it was, he was once that young man, once in the presence of someone far higher up in the Soul Society than he. Not even time dimmed that memory.

His attention fell away entirely from the Seireitei as he turned and walked up to her. His smile grew as he approached, warm and calm, nothing like the excitement or the rush of energy a younger man might have brought.

“Thank you, Kawasaki, for making the time,” he shared his gratitude with her, even if he suspected she would not believe it.

He took note of the Zanpakutō on her hip and the white uniform with red accents she still wore. His eyes lingered on those, near the ends of her sleeves, and he shook his head.

“Captain Fujiwara and Lieutenant Kikuchi would have been wise to do away with those,” he commented off-handedly.

“I suppose they can be forgiven, for the circumstances.”

Finally, he looked down at Hildr properly.

“I cannot say how much it overjoyed me, to learn of your survival, young Kawasaki,” he told her, his voice ringing with sincerity. “Your escape, as well as Tsukimiya’s and Tachibana’s, were scant relief among a sea of heartbreak.”

His smile faltered, but only for a moment before it returned.

“Of course: I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve brought you here, and do not wish to dwell,” he spoke for her, or so tried.

“I’ve heard tell that you have rescinded your intended Division and have not declared a new preference,” he asked of her.

“Is that still the case?”
Shin'o Academy
Following the destruction of the Academy and effectively all of those within, Hildr had met just as much praise as she had scrutiny. For just as many who had praised her for her bravery, there were those who frowned upon her inability to protect the other students. Granted, the frustration was born from a deeper hatred from the circumstances, but the words had stung nonetheless.

Despite the negative side-eyeing she did receive, Hildr had been summoned by the Captain of the Tenth not but a few days later. Through a brief conversation, he announced that, from that moment on, she was considered a graduate. There were the platitudes about being able to survive the situation, and even some praise on his part, yet it was hard to be excited. It was a given that this would happen -- how could she possibly attend an Academy that didn't exist.

Besides, she was set to graduate soon anyway. This was just a formality so the Captain and his Officers didn't need to worry about some helpless girl with no direction.

At the time, Captain Fujiwara had asked her if she still intended to join the Eleventh and had even begun writing a formal letter to the Captain. But she didn't answer him. In fact, she was silent for so long that he eventually sighed, gave her a half smile, and then sent her on her way.

She wasn't sure if he was just frustrated at her incompetence, or was sympathic. Regardless, the matter of where she was going was undecided.

Instead, she continued helping the Tenth. Mundane tasks, such as cleaning rubble, identifying bodies, and recovering any useful literature filled her days. Tasks just engaging enough that she didn't have much time to think about what came next.

Until she had been summoned to the Thirteenth.

In a hurry, she washed off the grime and debris from her hair, tidied her uniform, and then hurried over to the grounds of the Thirteenth. Unfamiliar territory that had her momentarily lost and wandering its halls until a man took pity on her. He guided her through the halls to the Captain's quarters, and she parted ways with a polite bow and a few words of thanks.

As she stepped inside, she smoothed down the front of her clothes just before Captain Kōgetsu turned to face her.

He was a decently tall man with a long mane of white hair that blended perfectly into his equally impressive beard. Beneath his robes of white was a wide frame and muscles one would never expect from someone as old as him. Even the wrinkles on his face were relatively minor, and his eyes twinkled with youthful enthusiasm.

Seeing him in person made it hard to believe that he was rumored to be the most powerful man in all of the Seireitei.

While he spoke, Hildr was silent and stiff. She managed a smile here and there -- though it grew openly strained when he mentioned the Academy -- but otherwise found herself uncertain of how to act.

There was a slight pause after he asked his question. Hildr just stared, her breath momentarily caught in her chest, before she blinked, tensed, and then found her tongue.

"Yes, Captain Kōgetsu," she answered. Her words were smooth and calm, even if everything else about her was not. "Originally, I had intended to join the Eleventh due to my skill with Zanjutsu, but..."

But... That thought had never been finished. It always stopped there, leaving her hanging in an abyss of uncertainty and doubt. A weak shrug followed her silence, her teal eyes turning to the side for a moment of consideration.

"What happened at the Academy has made me question if that's the best use of my talents."

The words came without any real thoughts. Blurted from a stream of consciousness that hadn't been fully realized. Yet, what was done was done, and though there was another second of hesitation, she continued.

"And, well, if I may speak plainly," she continued, her eyes flicking back to the Captain finally. "The Eleventh isn't going to help me uncover the truth behind what truly happened on that day."
“Oh, what truly happened at the Academy? You do not believe it was an invasion of Hollows, a matter of pure coincidence?” He asked of her with an amused lift to his tone.

Of course she didn’t. Everyone knew it was not, though none could reliably claim to know what it was. Katsuhiro nodded, shallowly, and then gestured Hildr to follow. He turned and made his way to the long balcony. There, he stepped out from under the overhang of his office and into the day’s sun that spilled down onto the Seireitei and made his white beard all that brighter.

“I admire the Eleventh, you see,” he explained to Hildr as his eyes lazily traced along the horizon of the Seireitei, its buildings glowing in the light, enough to leave a man snowblind if he stared too long. “An impressive fighting force, them and their Kenpachi. Second only to the Thirteenth in their service within the World of the Living.

“But I’ve no doubt their interest in the events at the Academy extends not beyond their sympathies and desire to have fought those towering Gillian themselves.”

His face hardened.

“Thin sympathies, as they are.”

With those words, that warmer countenance returned. His attention fell onto Hildr properly once more.

“I wish to believe I have considerable experience with the Hollow, young Kawasaki,” he explained to her. “And it is no surprise that I have not seen Hollows behave in such a way. Coordination is not just a weakness—it is foreign to them.”

Yet, Katsuhiro saw the same reports, in part informed by Hildr herself, of the way Hollows of countless varieties paid little mind to each other and instead worked as a unit.

“I cannot undo what has befallen your fellow students or the intrepid few who taught them,” he told her, next. “No more than I can summon those Hollows back to this world and be their end myself.

“I can only help you prevent the same fate from darkening the lives of others.”

Again, his eyes fell onto the red along Hildr’s large, otherwise white sleeves.

“Do you wish to rescue souls and slay Hollows, young Kawasaki?” He asked her.

"Perhaps, too, uncover what what cruel happenstance of fate saw such monsters fight side-by-side."