Aizen has won. Seireitai is occupied. The Resistance is weak. Winter is here.
There may not be a spring.
Nothing is sacred and no one is safe.
Winter War is a very dark Bleach AU fanfic co-authored by incandescens, liralen, and Sophia Prester. It diverges from canon during the Hueco Mundo and Fake Karakura Town arcs.Aizen won the war. The Gotei 13 has been decimated; most of the Captains and Lieutenants are dead. Ichigo and his friends never returned from Hueco Mundo, and no one knows what happened to them. Ichimaru Gin rules in Seireitei and controls a much reduced Gotei 13, but his shinigami are not doing the work of sending the souls of the dead to Soul Society, and as a result the balance of the worlds is failing. Captain Ukitake, his illness made worse by injuries sustained in the lost battle for Seireitei, leads a small but determined Resistance.This fic comes highly recommended.A Russian translation is in progress and can be found here.
Tropes in Winter War
Achilles' Heel: Turns out Yumichika's seemingly unbeatable shikai power does have a downside. In canon, he absorbs his oponent's reiatsu, weakening or killing them. However, in this fic if he tries it on someone who's too powerful- namely Harribel, a vasto lorde class arrancar- rather than killing her, he gets overwhelmed and ends up essentially Brainwashed and Crazy, unable to separate his own reiatsu and personality from hers.
A Good Way to Die: Zaraki, Yumichika and Ikkaku died exactly as they wanted to. Many other characters were not so lucky.
Lisa was convinced that whoever or whatever had designed Las Noches had picked up some pretty subtle ideas from Lovecraft. Subtle, because of the distinct lack of tentacles (except for that one Privaron she had the misfortune of meeting), and because things were only just slightly off true in a way that suggested it had all been done deliberately.
An Arm and a Leg: Kensei lost part of one leg during the Karakura Town battle, a result of the Visoreds' lost fight against Barragan. Later on, Isane loses most of an arm to the Barragan Fragment's corrosive blood.
Animal Motifs: Pagally's zanpakutou is Cernicalo, Spanish for "kestrel", and her resureccion gives her sharp-feathered wings. Also, Pantera compares people to animals in his conversations with Grimmjow- for example, referring to Ikkaku as a wounded dragon and Hanatarou as a mouse.
Anyone Can Die: And most of them have. But the survivors-as-of-the-beginning-of-the-fic are certainly still at risk...
Apocalypse How: Early on, Urahara warns that the lack of shinigami doing their actual job has resulted in the balance of souls in the worlds getting so skewed that the living world, Soul Society, and Hueco Mundo will all be destroyed if something doesn't change soon. This is part of why the characters give over all their resources to a very risky scheme based on information from someone that they can't be sure is even really on their side- they know that they're running out of time.
Mayuri's plans for one afternoon look like: 1) Commit a terrible atrocity. 2) Commit another terrible atrocity. 3) Have a nice cup of tea.
Artificial Limbs: Sort of. Kensei, who lost part of his leg in the battle, wears a gigai that doesn't share the injury. Also, Kuukaku uses her prosthetic arm from anime canon during battle. Soi Fong refuses either form of this trope, however.
Ascended Extra: Shirogane and Ogidou, from the canon omakes. Arguably, most of the cast is this- some of the main cast eventually comes into play, but this fic is almost entirely about the secondary characters.
Back from the Dead: Senbonzakura, who "dies" at Byakuya's orders and comes back to life when he apologizes. Zanpakutou spirits are complicated.
Badass Creed: As a former (as in, until death) US Navy SEAL, Takano brings out "Ready to lead. Ready to follow. Never quit." Hinamori wonders about it, but has never managed to ask for an explanation.
Bad Boss: ...Pretty much all the villains. Kurotsuchi Mayuri deserves special mention for his treatment of his own daughter and former lieutenant- but Grimmjow has no illusion about what's likely to happen to him if he's no longer useful to Aizen, and Gin isn't anyone you'd want to work for either. What are Les Collaborateursthinking?
Bearer of Bad News: When Ichigo's real personality is restored he has no memory of anything that happened since his Hollow took him over. He asks Ikkaku to tell him what happened.
Subverted when Yoruichi decides to tell Ryuuken that she doesn't know what happened to his son, who she knows is dead. He's already acting fairly unstable at that point, and she doesn't want to run the risk that knowing the truth would make him snap.
The Bechdel Test: Passes, starting from the very first chapter- the war is introduced through a conversation between Nanao and Soi Fong about the current state of the Resistance.
Becoming the Mask: After months in Hueco Mundo, Reverse Mole Hisagi.He takes things for granted that he would have been horrified before, and has been killing at Aizen's orders so long that it no longer even causes him much soul-searching. While he doesn't like Hueco Mundo or his supposed allies, his efforts to preserve his cover and keep himself alive are gradually turning him into what he's pretending to be. On a much lighter note, Kon- after posing as Ichigo for a similar amount of time- finds himself thinking of Karin and Yuzu as his little sisters.
Berserk Button: Ikkaku apparently really dislikes being called "taichou". His response the first time it came up, some time before the fic began, was memorable enough to prevent a reoccurance.
Big Brother Instinct: Inoue Sora, to Orihime. To the point that had La Résistance not included him on the Hueco Mundo mission, he would probably have tried to sneak in anyway to rescue his little sister. Subverted in that he is not able to do much more for her than offer emotional support- he's barely out of the Academy and by far the weakest member of the group. (They anticipated he would be more or less The Load, but brought him anyway because they needed someone who Orihime knew well enough to tell if she was on the edge of a Freak Out.) Orihime reciprocates. When Hollow Ichigo shows up and starts fighting the shinigami, she basically freezes. Then he tries to hurt her brother, and she responds by rejecting his Split Personality Takeover and restoring Ichigo to control of his body.
There's also Kensei to Mashiro, especially when it comes to her relationship with Kon. Kon himself also qualifies, looking out for Karin and Yuzu and in a recent chapter thinking of them as his little sisters.
Big Damn Heroes / The Cavalry: Soi Fong and Hachi arriving in the nick of time to help Ukitake and Isane fight the Barragan fragment.
Big Fancy House: The Western-style mansion that La Résistance use as their "base" when they fight Gin. Apparently, it was built by a noble family a while back who visited the living world and came back infatuated with European architecture. Kuukaku is only too happy to lace the thing with explosives; she, and most of the cast, think it's hideous. Sasakibe, on the other hand, rather likes it and thinks that it's a pity they have to sacrifice it.
Blindfolded Trip: How Grimmjow arrives at the Resistance's base. (They also take the precaution of evacuating everyone weaker than the lieutenants, just in case it's all a trap by Aizen.)
Blind Without 'Em: Recon squad member Shirogane Mihane is "not very good without" her glasses, according to Hinamori, and when she has to take them off to impersonate Rangiku, she seems rather disoriented.
Bloody Murder: The Barragan Fragment's blood also has the "age things to death" power. The characters find this out when Isane wounds it but gets blood splatter on her arm, forcing an amputation.
Book Ends: Chapter 45 begins and ends with the same description of Nanao's physical position as she enters Suzumushi's inner world to negotiate with it.
Brainwashed and Crazy: In two different varieties so far. Aizen is doing it to captured shinigami, and Yumichika effectively did it to himself.
Break the Cutie: Hanatarou has witnessed Rukia's hollowfication and death, Byakuya's apparent suicide, been enslaved in Hueco Mundo, his captain is MIA after escaping the lab, had several of his squad members killed in front of him, including Ogidou, who had just saved his life, and currently has a collar around his neck that could detonate at any moment. And with all that he still manages to be the Only Sane Man half of the time.
Breather Episode: Chapter 16, "Nanao: Looking For A Blonde", which consists of Nanao's notes from the meeting in which the higher-ups of La Résistance hammer out the details of the Rangiku impersonation scheme. Although it does advance the plot, relatively little happens, the tone is far less fraught than most of the story, and it has several rather funny moments.
Brought Down to Normal: Byakuya is unable to use his shikai when Senbonzakura is, as per his orders, "dead". If the zanpakutou spirit is dead, clearly none of its powers can be used. Lucky for him he found out about that before an enemy showed up...
Chain Pain: Kira's Resureccion includes bone chains growing from his back and spilling through the hems of his clothing. Like the rest of his body, the chains have the same Gravity Master power his zanpakutou used to have.
Chekhov's Gun: Rangiku’s necklace. An 'accident' which cost Hinamori half of her hair. Also, there’s an early conversation about zanpakuto spirits that has come back in a big way.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Going through Aizen's old office reveals that a lot more was done to the captives besides putting the Hogyoku to them. If one didn't know any better, his research notes could very well be describing lab rats. Even worse for the audience, this is found out after we have seen at least four of the "subjects" killed.
Combat Medic: Kaede seems to have had this role in the recon squad. Isane also moves into this trope as the story goes on.
Combat Pragmatist: Soi Fong prides herself on it. Shiba Kuukaku encourages it in her students. But all of the cast are either already Combat Pragmatists or are getting there. Even those who consider it Dirty Business, such as Ukitake and Ikkaku, are willing to do whatever they have to to survive and do whatever damage they can to Aizen's forces. A prime example is La Résistance’s plan to take Gin down, which is underhanded to the point of being cruel. The slide towards this trope by the members of La Résistance is justified by the fact that the “good guys” simply don’t have enough powerful fighters left to try to settle the war in one-on-one duels.
Darker and Edgier: When good guys don't just fight glorious one-on-one five-episodes-long battles for our entertainment, and bad guys don't just conveniently stand there and brag about their brilliant plans and general evilness until being properly defeated by good guys (again, for our entertainment), it becomes much harder to ignore that prolonged warfare is quite an ugly business. Not only war indeed is hell - it's a particularly unattractive and non-romantic hell. And right along with the loss of Plot Armor and the associated tropes, this story takes already disturbing parts of Bleach canon, puts a light and a magnifying glass to them, asks, “How could this be made worse?”- and does it. One example is the new form of hollowfication shown in the fic (or not-so-new - it looks and is implied to be the same as hollow!form of Tousen both in canon and in WW continuity. In canon, though, Tousen was the first and the last shinigami subjected to it, and in WW he has a BIG company). While the hollowfication shown in canon with the Vizards is nasty and scary, they're able to overcome it and remain themselves. The new form of hollowfication apparently can't be fought in that way (possibly because this time there is no Urahara around to help in the first place), and turns several canon characters into Tortured Monsters. At the same time, the villains lose whatever sympathetic traits they had in canon- Gin, for example, goes from merely having a sadistic streak to being pure evil (it is explained and justified in text, but we can safely assume his victims don't care much for the justification).
Aizen, on the other hand, didn't get much worse than his canon self (not that he needed to).
Deadly Doctor: Ogidou, a Fourth Division member who fights using healing kidou reversed to reopen old wounds. The other members of La Résistance are more than a little squicked out, to the point where Hinamori and Iba agree that they would not want him healing their wounds- but no one is trying to get him to stop.
Death by Disfigurement: Gin’s death is pretty brutal. First, he's horribly burned on the left side of his body, with bone showing through in some places, and one arm completely useless. Rather than trying to retreat at this point, when the injury has made one arm useless and generally slowed him down, he keeps on fighting until mortally wounded.
Death Seeker: Byakuya, after killing Hollow Rukia. Kyorakou eventually convinces him to stop trying to die by lying and telling him that his memory of killing Rukia is one of Aizen's illusions, and that she died under completely different circumstances.
Defiant to the End: A flashback reveals that Aikawa Love died this way when captured by Aizen's forces.
Demonic Possession: Suzumushi appears to want to do this to Nanao. (She's not a demon, but she is essentially a spirit trying to take over a person.)
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Takano was a Navy SEAL in life, and still isn't entirely used to women being in front line combat. Much as he knows that they're capable soldiers, he still feels like he ought to be protecting them. (Thankfully, Takano realizes this isn't a rational reaction under the circumstances-, and keeps it under control- it's only really apparent in his POV.)
Dirty Business: Many shinigami view their less-than-honorable moments in La Résistance as this. Ukitake in particular dislikes having to forsake the old code of combat, but keeps on because he feels that continuing to fight Aizen is more important than his personal honor, and because he feels that he owes it to the dead to keep fighting.
Disease Bleach: Hisagi's hair had begun to go gray under the stress of the last few months.
Downer Beginning: Ichigo and company never returned from Hueco Mundo, and the Gotei 13 lost the war with Aizen.
Dual Tonfas: Takano Dan's shikai transforms his zanpakutou into one tonfa, and his sheath into the other.
Due to the Dead: Nanao makes a point of bowing to the grave in Suzumushi's inner world. She can't be sure whose grave it is (and one of the possibilities is someone she has no reason to respect), but she does it because "the dead deserved their due honor"- and because of the likely reaction if she doesn't.
Driven to Suicide: Byakuya, after having killed a Hollowfied Rukia and being cut off from either rescue or retreat, decided to commit suicide rather than be captured. He failed, and was captured anyway... but at least hasn't yet been changed.
Empathic Weapon: The zanpaktous of the shinigami play a very large role in this fic.
Enemy Mine: While Suzumushi is willing to work with Nanao for a common goal, she still hates shinigami for the death of her first wielder. She wouldn't be working with one if she had any other choice, and she's probably not the most trustworthy ally even so.
Expendable Clone: The multiple Nemu. Subverted, in that one member of the heroes’ party is unable to fight and kill them so his zanpakuto takes over his body and fights for him.
Explosive Leash: All of the Fourth Division in Hueco Mundo get explosive collars around their necks after Unohana escapes the lab.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Somewhere before the start of the fic, Hinamori burnt off some of her hair in a kidou accident. This obscures her identity and also leads to her being mistaken for a boy at least once. Also, Kon has let his/Ichigo's hair grow out some, which makes him look a bit different than the original inhabitant of "his" body.
Face-Heel Turn: Early on, we're told that Kurotsuchi Mayuri and Hisagi Shuuhei have both defected to Aizen. The latter is actually a Reverse Mole.
Failure Knight: Isane after Unohana's surrender to prevent Seireitei from being destroyed. She's consumed by guilt, even though there was nothing she could have done to change what happened, and convinced that she's weak and useless as a fighter. Despite being one of the few surviving lieutenants, she acts exclusively as Ukitake's physician rather than taking part in the practical or strategy aspects of La Résistance. It's a turning point when she's willing to take iaido lessons from Shirogane, not just because she Takes A Level In Badass, but because she lets go of her guilt in order to be more effective. She's still motivated entirely by a desire to support and help Ukitake, because she couldn't do anything for Unohana.
Fake Defector: Hisagi. Too bad for him everyone who knew he hadn't defected for real is dead...
Fake Kill Scare: Ikkaku used it once - partly as a punishment, partly to beat some sense in Rikichi's overly-enthusiastic head.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: All over the place, but especially Gin’s death scene. In this case it’s made worse by the fact that the other side doesn’t have anyone strong enough to fight him one-on-one- so he’s slowly worn down by several weaker opponents, taking several of them with him.
"Not like working with Taichou, right?" —Ito, to Ikkaku
"Aizen may have turned us into monsters, but there's nothing he can do to take our honor from us. And nothing you can do." — Love, to Gin
"Just a few more things to take care of, and we're done here, Yamada-san." —Ogidou, before trying to kill Hisagi.
"You would have saved me. It is not your fault that I cannot be saved. I thank you. I thank you all. You are setting me free." —Nemu, to Hisagi (really Kazeshini).
"Heh. So I'm finally worth noticing, huh? Good to know." —Tatsuki
Field Promotion: Averted. Ukitake wanted to promote Ikkaku "at least" to a lieutenant, but Ikkaku refused. Strongly. So he's technically still a third seat... despite being the undisputed leader of a group that includes at least one lieutenant.
Gen Fic: While there is a bit of sex and romance in this fic, it's very much in the background- except for Gin's feelings for Rangiku, which are played as scary and creepy rather than romantic.
Give Me a Sword: Subverted. Kazeshini briefly thinks Orihime is trying to pull this, and angrily tells Hisagi not to hand him over (she can have Hanatarou’s if she wants one that badly). Turns out the sword she wants is Kyoka Suigetsu, so that she can reject its powers.
Gondor Calls for Aid: The Resistance lacks even a minimal amount of human resouses needed for retaking Seireitei, so they try their best to enlist everybody in their vicinity to help them. And everybody agrees.
Glomp: Lisa's way of greeting Nanao, who she hadn't seen for a hundred years.
Handicapped Badass: Soifon, Kuukaku, Iba... Ukitake also manages to fight Gin despite being nearly dead on his feet. However, all of them except Kuukaku have a lot of trouble from their injuries.
Happiness in Slavery: Unlike most of the Hollowfied shinigami, Kira stays relatively humanoid and retains a fraction of his intelligence. Mixed with amplified loyalties to Gin, he's reduced to a super-powered lap dog until his demise.
He Knows Too Much: Iemura figures out that Hisagi is a Fake Defector. Said person panics and kills him to prevent him from leaking the information- despite the fact that they're (technically) on the same side and the guy was offering to help him. However, the killer is massively screwed up because of this, fluctuating between desperately trying to justify his action and obsessing over it, to the point where he can hardly function. Finally Kazeshini has to take over his body to prevent him from being killed when he hesitates to fight the Nemu partly because of his guilt over Iemura's murder. The killer's allies ultimately do find out, and while they have decided to withhold any punishment for now, they are not okay with it.
Heroic BSOD: Hisagi, to the point where his zanpakutou has to take over his body for a while just to keep him alive.
Heroic Sacrifice: Takano Dan. He doesn't kill Ichimaru Gin, but he manages to injure him badly enough to give the rest of La Résistance a fighting chance in that battle.
Add Ikkaku and Yumichika to that list after they took out Yammy together.
Hidden Depths: Kazeshini, Hisagi's foul-mouthed Blood Knight of a zanpakutou, is also grimly determined to keep his wielder alive, despite the dangerous situation he's in and the near-breakdown he's going through. He's also surprisingly compassionate towards Nemu.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Barragan fragment is not immune to its own powers, which is the direct cause of its defeat.
Hope Spot: After killing several clone!Nemu, Grimmjow, Hanatarou, and Hisagi with Kazeshini piloting venture into Mayuri's labs. There they discover the original Kurotsuchi Nemu- who had been given up for dead in-story and out. She's in bad shape, but they hope Orihime can heal her. She explains otherwise: her zanpakutou has been severed and her soul is being drained into her clones... which would remain even if Orihime tried to reject the damage. She asks them to kill her. Reluctantly, Kazeshini agrees. The kicker? If he hadn't hesitated quite so long, Tatsuki would probably not have been killed.
“Lots and lots,” Orihime said. She kept on trying to add two and two together and getting the wrong answer. “But it’s very pretty,” she added, in case she’d hurt Ise’s feelings.
Hypocritical Humor: Nanao describes Aizen as "Something of a control obsessive. The sort of person who has to have everything exactly as planned, precisely as organized, every detail under there control..." And then wonders why Ayasegawa is staring at her.
Senbonzakura, observed by Kazeshini as he keeps trying and failing to kill himself.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters titles are of the format "[POV character]: [Title]", or "Ensemble: [Title]" for most of the chapters with multiple narrators. (Chapter 13 is "Karakura: Waiting" along the same principle.)
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Hisagi thinks that this is what Aizen intends with Pagally; it turns out that he is actually giving him a Fraccion. He was willing to go through with it - which shows just how messed up he was after a large amount of time undercover.
If We Get Through This: When she gets home, Lisa plans to wear her Hueco Mundo uniform boots to every club in Roppongi, then burn them and every other white article of clothing she owns.
Kaede, Hinamori, and Shirogane promise to get a proper revenge later for Iba and Rikichi's attempt to spy on their attempts to give Shirogane a convincing imitation of Rangiku's build. Shirogane then dies in battle against Gin.
Doubly subverted by Hinamori. Twice. She intends to try this on Kira and Hitsugaya. Both times she gives up almost immediately, because it doesn't (and couldn't) work... and THEN it works - in a way which leaves her desperately wishing it wouldn't (especially the second time).
In Medias Res: When the story begins, the Winter War is already long lost. Then we are told (along with present-time events), piece by piece, just how exactly it was lost. And then plot splits into four subplots, giving us a multidimensional timeline. And who knows what else authors have in store...
Irony: La Résistance are (among other things) rescuing Orihime and her rescue party, invading the Seireitei, and practicing Combat Pragmatism. Then there's the repeated role reversals...
It's Personal: The fight against the Barragan fragment contains both a subversion and an example. Soi Fong plays it straight against the remains of the enemy who cost her her arm and killed her lieutenant. Hachi subverts the trope, because he doesn't want to waste the special strategies he thought up for fighting Barragan- who killed two of his friends- on a mere "shade". And the fight against Szayel becomes personal for Ryuuken when Szayel reveals that he killed Ryuuken's son.
I Want Grandkids: Iba Tetsuzaemon's mother, Iba Chikane, really wants him to get married and have kids, if his imagined version of her in his "What Would X Do?" moment is anything to go by. He promises his mental version of her to "get married within the year, or the decade, or the century at the very most, assuming that he survived the next ten minutes".
I Will Find You: Several characters are motivated by a desire to find their captured/MIA friends, or at least find out what happened to them. This is why two of the top people in the resistance go to Hueco Mundo. Subverted, in that both of these two people know that their friends may be Brainwashed and Crazyor worse, and at least one of them goes in intending to kill said friend (who he knows by then is either Brainwashed and Crazy or an actual traitor).
Kicked Upstairs: Aizen got rid of traumatized and crazed (and thus uncontrollable) Gin... by giving him the whole Seireitei to play with.
Killed By The Adaptation: List in progress: Yamamoto, Oomaeda, Komamura, Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Kenpachi, Kiyone, Uryuu, Shinji, Hiyori, Rukia, Kira, Love, Ogidou and Shirogane (yeah they’re canon), Harribel, Nemu, Tatsuki, Ryuuken, Ikkaku and Yumichika, Aizen.
La Résistance: Led by Ukitake, the loyal remnants of the Gotei 13 have spent the last months fighting Ichimaru and his collaborators from hiding.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: A stealthy one. The chapters are usually marked with POV character- "Nanao: Winter", etc. With the exception of the second chapter occurring well before the first, they seem to be in more or less sequential order. A chapter is headed with Byakuya's name... several chapters after another POV character remembered witnessing his death. If you happen to read the chapter titles before the fic, you will probably assume that the character is alive, even though his survival is a big surprise in context.
Les Collaborateurs: Gotei-13 is following orders of 'Ichimaru-sotaichou' at the beginning of the fic. One can only wonder what those orders actually are, because we know for sure they don't involve anything of common shinigami duties. Large part of Seireitei nobility also qualifies.
Leeroy Jenkins: Grimmjow will abandon whatever he is supposed to be doing if he suspects there is a fight available elsewhere. Ikkaku and Yumichika are able to resist the urge, due to Character Development.
Let's Split Up, Gang: The Hueco Mundo party does this at one point, but they do it reasonably sensibly- no one goes off by themselves, each group has at least one powerful fighter, and all remain close enough to each other to hear the noise if there's a fight.
Later they do this again, leaving some weak and/or injured party members in a reasonably secure location. This is less foolish than it sounds- the secure location is Gin's observation room, so they will be able to tell if someone is coming towards them and they would never have survived another fight, so leaving them behind prevented them from developing into The Load. Also, they might be able to alert the main group if Aizen is nearby, since Sora has never seen his shikai and could not be fooled by his illusions.
Mental World: Suzumushi's (which may or may not have also been Tousen's) is a seriously weird-looking place.
The world was all black and white. There was a white moon in the black sky, and the grass was grey. Or possibly there was a black moon in the white sky, and the grass was a different shade of grey. Her vision slid between the two extremes from one moment to another, and she couldn’t be sure which one was dominant: they both seemed to exist simultaneously, in an optical illusion like those pictures that were both a young woman and a skull at the same time.
Mercy Kill: Kazeshini to Nemu, Byakuya to Rukia. Ikkaku to an unidentified victim of Aizen's experiments. Isshin to Tatsuki (sort of- she was already dead, and he performed konso to get her ghost away from the battle).
Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Ukitake. He has considered a Heroic Sacrifice twice- first against Gin and later against the Barragan fragment- the first time it wasn't necessary, and the second Isane talked him out of it.
Mission Control: An improvised one. When you're deep into enemy territory, it would be a crime not to use enemy equipment.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Little Pagally isn't exactly thrilled with 'Aizen-sama', Grimmjow doesn't give a damn about him; both betray him to side with first strangers which had been relatively nice to them. Of course, said strangers are their natural enemies, but at least they aren't going to use them as lab rats, sexual slaves or something else just as pleasant and healthy.
Morality Pet: Deconstructed. Yes, Gin loved Rangiku; no, that did not make him a good person. He alternates between an obsessive desire to find her and casual malice to everyone and everything in his vicinity. Caring for one person does not make him one whit less nasty to anyone else. He's also in the later stages of Villainous Breakdown, and the combination of short temper, meanness, and eroding sanity... it really isn't safe to be anywhere near the guy.
Motivational Lie: Yoruichi decides not to tell Ryuuken that she knows for sure his son is dead, judging that his mental state is too precarious for her to inform him during a lull in the battle against Mayuri and Szayel. Kyorakou tells Byakuya that his memory of killing Rukia is one of Aizen's illusions, so that he'll stop trying to get himself killed. In both cases, the person lied to is already very fragile mentally, and the liar is trying to keep them steady in a situation where if they aren't, they could easily get themselves and their allies killed.
My God, What Have I Done?: Subverted - several characters keep asking themselves, what else they are willing to do in next ten minutes in order to try and win an unwinnable fight. Usually they find the answer to this question. Or answer finds them.
Also played painfully straight by Hisagi and Isane.
Never Found the Body: Many characters, but most notably Captain Kyouraku. Only time will tell if they’re really dead. As of Chapter 43, Kyouraku seems to be alive. (Wow.)
Never Live It Down: Invoked. Momo worries that she'll never live down her behavior after Aizen's initial betrayal. While her fellow Resistance members trust her now, they originally weren't too sure about her- and a large part of the reason she's kept in Rukongai with Ukitake rather than being sent on the Seireitei mission is that a lot of people in Seireitei wouldn't trust her.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Aizen imprisoned Hachi in Seireitei, which allowed him to help fight the Barragan fragment. If it hadn't been for that, things might have gone much worse in that particular episode.
Non-Action Guy: Hanatarou and Kon remain this from canon. Another example is Sora- although he's said to be pretty good for a soon-to-graduate Academy student, this means very little in the situations he ends up in, and the other characters do their best to protect him when things get dangerous.
No One Gets Left Behind: Isane refuses to let Ukitake sacrifice himself in the hopes of controlling the Barragan Fragment.
Not in This for Your Revolution: Grimmjow. He doesn’t care about either side- he just wants to regain his strength after Orihime rejects his Hollow nature.
Not So Different: Even though Grimmjow joins up with La Résistance out of convenience (see above), he gets on with and is remarkably similar to the former Eleventh Division members.
Urahara fully realizes that he and Kurotsuchi Mayuri are Not So Different in their obsessive search for knowledge for its own sake- and concludes that the only thing holding him back from Mayuri's worse excesses is that he likes people and wants them to like him back.
Now You Tell Me: Urahara manages to tell his team that he took a few liberties with his part of operation plans just minutes before said liberties start to fall right on their heads (some of them literally). Cue reaction:
"You 'may possibly' have made a mistake? <...> There's no 'may possibly' about it, Kisuke!"
OC Stand In: Shirogane and Ogidou are canon characters, but appeared only in the omakes- and not many of those, either. The fic therefore makes up a lot about them- particularly Ogidou, who goes from a rather forgettable member of the Fourth Division to a scary Deadly Doctor who creeps out most of his allies.
Oh My Gods!: Hoshibana swears by the King of Heaven in a moment of great stress when he reports that Aizen is headed towards the main Hueco Mundo party with two Vasto Lordes.
Omnicidal Maniac: Aizen has set events in motion that will, if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of Soul Society, Hueco Mundo, and the living world. The protagonists don't know his motivation, but their speculations about the matter are in line with this trope.
Isshin: He’s actually so arrogant that he would just— No. Unless he’s gone completely insane, he’d have to realize what was happening. He’s smarter than that.
Ryuuken: Unless it’s on purpose. Perhaps he wants this. Wants to see it all fall apart.
Only a Flesh Wound: Averted early on, when Ito dies by bleeding out from a wound sustained a little earlier in the fight.
Only the Knowledgable May Pass: While meeting in an occupied Seireitei, Soi Fong and one of her Onmitsukidou use lines from a Tang Chinese poem as a password, switching off in the middle of lines and then skipping to the end. While someone sufficiently learned might know the poem, they probably wouldn't know when to switch off, or recognize what was going on based on the first phrase. (The authors provide a link to the whole thing, since Soi Fong and Kage only use the first two and last two lines: Facing Snow, by Du Fu.)
Kage: After battle...
Soi Fong: Many new ghosts cry. The solitary old man...
Kage: ...worries and grieves. (Pause) To many places, communication is lost. I sit straight at my desk but cannot read my books for grief.
Pet the Dog: Ikkaku and Grimmjow comforting Hanatarou (genuinely - and it did work).
Playing Possum: Iba does this during attack on the mansion to get close enough to the main body of Rudobon to kill it.
Playing with Syringes: Aizen, Mayuri, and Szayel are engaging in this, the latter two in direct competition with each other.
Poisoned Weapons: At Isane's suggestion, Ukitake and Soi Fong coat the tips of their zanpakutous with the Barragan fragment's blood, which has the effect of "decaying" its slow-things-down power and allows them to kill it. Unfortunately, in this case the "poison" is so corrosive that it also eats away at the zanpakutous while they're fighting.
Power Incontinence: Barragan's power can also "decay" the barrier between a Visored and their Inner Hollow. Mashiro has periods of normalcy, but she loses control of her transformation without warning despite having a Power Limiter. Rose is in even worse state, and is apparently stuck in the transformed/out of control state all the time.
Precision F-Strike: The polite and formal Hoshibana Akira (third seat of Sixth division since before Byakuya became captain), while defending his division-mate Rikichi's motives for a particularly foolish action:
Hoshibana: "The Eleventh Division may have its code of honor, but the Sixth has its own, and I would dare to say that while I have come to some understanding of yours over the past few months, my friend, I can safely say you know shit about ours."
There's also the very formal Sasakibe in Chapter 6, warning Grimmjow not to provoke Ikkaku:
Sasakibe: ""At your present strength, he could put your spine through your skull, Jaegerjaques. Stop fucking around."
Yoruichi gives a mental one after she realizes that Szayel- of whom she knows just enough to be sure that he's very bad news- is in Karakura.
Psychopathic Man Child / The Unfettered: All Hollowfied shinigami who had the dubious luck of surviving the process and not having been broken into mindless beasts by it are the mixture of this (with varying proportions). They are very simple-minded and often childish (just look at Kira's POV), perfectly obedient to orders of whatever master they have, regardless of how much of messy killing said orders involve; and, to add insult to injury, their personalities are reduced and condensed to whatever had been their greatest passion/desire in their previous lives (and, naturally, stripped of everything else). Not pretty.
Rasputinian Death: Gin. He survives Takano blowing up the library with him inside, a sword wound from Shirogane, and and clings to life after being hit by Hinamori's fireball reflected and magnified by Ukitake's shikai, just long enough to release the Barragan fragment on his enemies, killing himself in the process.
Rebel Leader: Ukitake, although he subverts most of the particulars, such as by being seriously injured, not yet- if ever- recovered, and consequently sidelined from most of the fighting. At one point, when setting up a first meeting with someone who doesn't know much about the Gotei 13's upper ranks, he has Sasakibe do the talking and listens from behind a screen (along with most of his lieutenants) because he knows he would give the wrong impression.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ikkaku (red) and Nanao (blue), the co-leaders of the Hueco Mundo mission.
Replacement Scrappy: In-story, Karin regards Kon as this, resenting him for taking Ichigo's place. Also, she's worried about Ichigo but because everyone else (as far as she knows) accepts Kon as Ichigo, she can't talk about it openly. Naturally, her resentment of that situation spills over to her reactions to Kon. It doesn't particularly help that Ichigo didn't tell her that he was going to go off and leave someone else to inhabit his body while he was gone. invoked
Re Power: Jirobou Ikkanzaka, Jidanbou’s little brother, who lost his powers to Ishida in canon voluntarily underwent hollowfication to gain new abilities. There's also Grimmjow, who loses his hollow powers when Orihime "purifies" him and gains shinigami ones instead.
Reverse Mole: Hisagi. He’s been there a while, and it’s worn on him to the extent where he can barely function. Eventually, his Empathic Weapon has to take over his body to keep him alive.
Sacrificial Lion / Too Cool to Live: Takano Dan, despite being an OC. He gets a lot of characterization- including two POV segments and a more detailed backstory than any of the other OCs- and his death is one of the first as the Rukongai fight starts.
He was vaguely aware of Peaches piping up cheerfully that he should wait for Rikichi and the two of them could catch up later. He could almost hear a little heart at the end of the sentence.
Then she did him proud by screeching at the others like the little harpy he knew she was, telling them to go go go you lazy maggots now now now!
Senseless Sacrifice: Subverted when Rikichi runs away to be caught by Gin's people and serve as 'unvoluntary' source of information about Rangiku 'being alive' - it might even have worked... but most likely it would've ended as a disaster for the whole Resistance instead (and fortunately he was stopped before he could do it anyway). Played straight (bordering on Stupid Sacrifice) with Suzuki, who, against direct orders from Shirogane, breaks the retreat and faces twenty or so Arrancars alone, just because she cannot leave Iba's 'dead body' to their mercy. She is almost instantly overwhelmed and killed. And Not Quite Dead Iba has to watch, unable to do anything to save her.
Sheathe Your Sword: When the Hueco Mundo group confronts a hollowfied Renji, some of them move to attack... until Byakuya realizes what's going on and orders them to stand down, and a fight is avoided.
On a much grimmer note, there's also this exchange, after Grimmjow, Kazeshini-controlling-Hisagi, and Hanatarou discover Nemu Prime:
Grimmjow: You’re in a mood to fight. Was she your woman, or something?
Hisaginote that is, Kazeshini: No. Not her. It’s just – some things are monstrous. Even by your standards, maybe.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Technically, no one: the war's not over yet, so the "veteran" part doesn't quite apply. The "shell-shocked" part does: Hisagi is probably the most extreme example, but he's not the only one. Assuming anyone survives at all, some of them will definitely be Shell-Shocked Veterans.
Spot of Tea: One of the few things Aizen and La Résistance can be said to share is a fondness for tea. Almost all moments of leisure, civility, or pre-mission planning include tea. Isane even brews one last pot before a battle starts.
Isane: There's always time for tea.
The Squad: The recon squad, led by Ikkaku, which has been carrying out missions and drawing fire away from the Resistance's actual bases ever since this war started. It's actually dissolved very early in the fic, and functions largely to (re)establish several characters, including OCs like Hoshibana and Takano, Ascended Extras like Ogidou, Shirogane, and Rikichi, and this fic's drastically changed versions of Hinamori and Ikkaku himself.
Stepford Smiler: Ogidou. Moved from Type B to the nice, clear Type C. And the attitude is exactly what gets him killed eventually.
Storming the Castle: Since Seireitei is occupied by Aizen's forces, retaking it is of course a goal of the resistance. Now accomplished by Soi Fong, Kuukaku, Sasakibe, Chad, the remaining Onmitsukidou and the gathered forces of the noble clans.
Stern Teacher: Kuukaku has this attitude towards the shinigami students at her base.
Switching P.O.V.: The third-person limited POV varies between 35 characters as of Chapter 43. (Granted, some narrators reappear much more frequently than others- Nanao and Ukitake particularly- and some only get sections in ensemble chapters.)
Symbiotic Possession: Kazeshini and Hisagi, eventually. It starts out with Kazeshini taking over Hisagi's body periodically to save both their lives, but without his knowledge or consent. After Hisagi finds out and they reach an accord of sorts, Hisagi lets Kazeshini possess him in battle because, unlike him, Kazeshini can tell where Kyouka Suigetsu is even when Aizen is using his powers.
Take That: Intended or not, chapter 31 features the following gem:
Take Up My Sword: Tousen literally took up his friend’s zanpakutou after her murder, using her powers to pursue her goals and avenge her death. After Tousen’s death (which she blames on Aizen's betrayal), Suzumushi actively tries to get Nanao to “take her up”... by attempting to possess her. She fails, and Nanao persuades Suzumushi to give her access to Tousen’s bankai for their one common goal: "justice" in the form of Aizen Sousuke's death.
Taking You with Me: Ukitake considers doing this to kill Gin, but as it turns out Gin unleashes a weapon of mass destruction based on Barragan’s Battle Aura when Ukitake and company have defeated him. It’s pretty clear that Gin was already dying- he was just too vindictive to leave it at that.
Talking Weapon: Kazeshini, who keeps up a running commentary/response to his wielder Hisagi's thoughts. All zanpakutoucan talk to their wielders, but most of the others in the fic are relatively quiet. Kazeshini is noted as having gotten much more talkative since Hisagi's move to Hueco Mundo, probably due to his mental state.
Pantera is becoming this as of the latest chapters. And now Suzumushi is talking to Nanao, who isn't even her wielder...
There Was a Door: Averted (mostly) by Harribel, who actually enters through the door to Hisagi's quarters, although the door does not survive the experience. Others in Hueco Mundo play this trope straight (and over the top), including Ichigo, who destroys a whole wall to get into the room the shinigami party is in.
This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: It is understood that Ikkaku will fight Yumichika alone, despite the fact that the fic usually avoids one-on-one duels. (By the time it actually happens, everyone else is busy fighting another opponent, so Ikkaku’s personal fight actually makes their lives easier by removing the second antagonist.)
Together in Death: Implied with Ikkaku and Yumichika, since they talk about fighting.
Took a Level in Badass: Hinamori. Mostly it’s an attitude change rather than an actual increase in power, though.
Torso with a View: Pagally and the hollowfied Kira and Rukia have their Hollow holes in their chests.
And now we have Renji, described as a hodge-podge creature seemingly composed of patchworks of fur, scales, and bare muscle, with a half-flesh/half-skull "face." Oh, and apparently his every movement makes it look like he's in pain. Byakuya only recognizes him because he already killed a Hollowfied Rukia.
Trademark Favorite Food: Gin's fondness for dried persimmons is so well known that Ikkaku is able to identify Gin's spyroom because he left a bowl of them there.
Tragic Keepsake: Rangiku's necklace for Momo, Yumichika's scarf for Ikkaku. At first. The necklace ends up being a key element in the Rangiku impersonation scheme... and as for the scarf, well, Yumichika's alive, so it's no longer tragic. For now, anyway.
Trust Password: After being imprisoned by Aizen for several months, Kyorakou refuses to believe that his rescuers are who they appear to be. They convince him by returning his zanpakutou, which Lisa had been carrying.
Villainous Breakdown: Gin is noticeably less stable than in the series proper, and he gets much, much worse when he realises that Rangiku really is dead and her apparent survival was a ruse by the resistance.
War Is Hell: This fic is not shy about the physical and mental costs of fighting a near-hopeless war. People die- not just in Heroic Sacrifices, but in foolish ones, or just because they're not good enough fighters for the situation they're in- or even just from sheer bad luck. Those captured by the enemy are tortured and experimented on with very few exceptions. And even the survivors- even the ones who are alive and still trying to fight- are worn down by everything that's happened. Ukitake, Iba, and Soi Fong may be Handicapped Badasses, but their injuries have a very real cost, in day to day life as well as in battle. And the psychological costs of the war are just as stark. Orihime, Ukitake,Reverse Mole Hisagi and many others who've lost friends or done things they're not proud of are soldiering on for now- but some of them have come perilously close to breaking, and even assuming a given person makes it through the war, that doesn't mean they'll be all right.
One example of how badly they react when their soldiers piss them off: Barragan ran a bit amuck in the Karakura battle, killing someone Aizen would have much preferred to capture. In Lisa's POV chapter, Gin offhandedly mentions that Aizen really wasn't happy about that. Next we hear of Barragan? He's been reduced to "a shade"- a fragment Gin releases, that blindly seeks to devour the strongest reiatsu signature it can find. It ultimately regains a humanoid form, but never acts with intelligence or personality.
You Shall Not Pass: Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Lisa separate from the rest of the group to take on Yammi and Ulquiorra while the rest of their group face Aizen. They're not sacrificing themselves to allow the others to escape, though- they're just keeping the enemy's reinforcements from arriving until the main battle is over. Winning their fight, or anyone's survival, is secondary.
Zero Approval Gambit: Hisagi sets one in motion by orders of his superiors, 'betraying' Soul Society to gain a potential chance to save it later (and a less-than-potential chance to be executed for war crimes anyway if that even succeeds).