Koutarou considered Li's passionate discourse. He couldn't deny the elder's logic, nor could he deny its implications. He very much agreed with Li's assessment, dire as the consequences were.

"Commander, I believe I've said it before, and I will say it again. I do not hate Hollows. I hate to see people getting hurt. For that reason, and that reason alone, I stand up to fight. I would not have become a Shinigami otherwise - it is this very instinct and belief that led me to discover my spiritual power. Standing up for those too weak to defend themselves, even when I wasn't strong enough."

Koutarou's mind flashes briefly back to the instant when he rose up to defend that old man. He was hurt himself, but he couldn't stop. When the old man lost consciousness, his grief and powerlessness triggered the release of his latent talent.

"I fight Hollows because they hurt people. I have found one or two who begged me to end their lives, such as it was, yes - I never took any joy in it, for those were the saddest existences I could fathom. It was still my duty, however.

If there was a way for me to restore their consciousness without having to use a blade, I would be more than happy to do so.

In war, people get hurt and die. Each time I fought, I've always done so trying to minimize damage to my subordinates - admittedly, by putting myself at greater risk. Each time, however, I was confident that I would survive. Other people draw their strength from their loved ones; I draw mine from my beliefs and conviction. What you are saying now, to be honest, does shake that conviction a touch. Not enough to weaken it, but to get me wondering.

But I digress."


Koutarou held out the drawing and pondered aloud.

"Even if we do not hate Hollows, the opposite is not necessarily true. Controlled by instinct as they are, they still possess enough sentience to resent being hunted. I would truly relish the opportunity to take Arrancar as our allies in this duty to save Hollows from their existence.

Realistically, however, the truth is that since they have arisen from Hollows, they may not be so quick to forgive. And the Shinigami that have fought Hollows for centuries - lost family and friends on the line of duty - are just as unlikely to embrace us.

I don't have an answer, and I know it pains you to be in the position you are, Commander. But I need to ask.

How do you propose we support these fledgling Hollow-Shinigami? How do we make peace and ammends with them?"