Rukia Kuchiki moves through the Wandenreich city while searching for any Shinigami Reiatsu. She notes that the only Shinigami she has been able to find is Lieutenant Isane Kotetsu before wondering if the Shinigami are really so inferior to the Sternritter. After noting she cannot sense any Quincy Reiatsu either, Rukia stops and wonders if she should wait for Lieutenant Renji Abarai and attack Silbern.
Rukia experienced the sensation of someone touching her arm and demands that whomever she felt reveal themselves. A figure appears behind her, stating how lonely it is and asking where its Senbonzakura is. Rukia identifies it as Äs Nödt, the one who stole Byakuya Kuchiki's Bankai. Stating he knows who Rukia is, Äs asks her where Byakuya is, but Rukia refuses to answer. When Äs wonders if Byakuya will come if he kills her, Rukia says he might.
Äs Nödt manifests his Reishi thorns and attacks Rukia. She evades the initial attack and, seeing something is spreading from where the thorns make contact, wonders if the substance coming from the thorns is the fear she has heard about. As one of the thorns rapidly approaches her, Rukia releases Sode no Shirayuki and forms an ice shield to block the attack, but the substance comes through and strikes her. Äs states fear cannot be stopped by ice and laughs menacingly before saying Rukia cannot move because she has been infected by fear. Unaffected by Äs's power, Rukia calmly asks him if this is fear and wonders what Äs fears before asking him if he is afraid of meeting someone whom his ability does not work on.
Äs says fear cannot be ineffective, prompting Rukia to state he should attack her again to see if this is correct. As Rukia holds out her sword and tells him to fear the true Sode no Shirayuki, Äs launches his thorns at Rukia again and mocks her about running away from them earlier. Rukia blocks the thorns, which are frozen by her very touch, and reveals she had to run away before so her body could adapt to her Shikai's true power. Äs claims freezing his weapon will not help because the fear enters through initial contact rather than wounds before claiming Rukia will always feel fear as long as she is alive.
Noting this is the very reason she is unaffected, Rukia reveals she is currently dead. When Äs wonders what she means, Rukia explains how the real power of Sode no Shirayuki is to bring her own body to temperatures below zero. Rukia moves forward and states that anything which she touches will freeze, with the blade of the sword merely increasing her range. Dismissing this as nonsense, Äs is further confused by Rukia's claim that she can momentarily kill her own body and remain alive by controlling her Reishi, thus making the substance unable to infect her body because its components are not moving.
Still unable to comprehend Rukia's power, Äs continues to claim that this is impossible. Rukia appears next to him and slices his shoulder with her body at a temperature of -18 degrees, freezing Äs's blood and stopping it from flowing out of the wound. Lowering her temperature to -50 degrees, Rukia causes a cryoseism due to the moisture in the ground being frozen. After Rukia lowers her temperature to -273.15 degrees, she notes that she can only move for four seconds at this temperature before attacking Äs. Completely frozen by the attack, Äs wonders if what he is experiencing is fear. 
As Rukia slowly raises her temperature so as to avoid any permanent damage, she notices a small wound on her thumb and wonders if she exceeded her four seconds. Meanwhile, Äs concludes that what he is feeling is not genuine fear because his only fear is feeling Yhwach's wrath and losing his body. He breaks free, losing his mask in the process to reveal a decaying mouth. Activating his Quincy: Vollständig, Tatarforas, Äs moves behind Rukia. She tries to strike him, but realizes she is paralyzed.
When an incredulous Rukia states the fear should not be affecting her, Äs reveals that the effect of his Quincy: Vollständig occurs through his opponent simply seeing him before surrounding Rukia with eyes so she cannot escape his gaze. Rukia tries to close her eyes, but finds that it amplifies the effect of The Fear. As Rukia starts to scream and give in to the fear, Äs proclaims her heart will now be burned to death by the fear she has avoided so far, but they are interrupted by the wall of eyes being breached by Byakuya.
The two combatants note Byakuya's arrival as he steps forward. Äs begins taunting him about the injuries he received in their previous fight, but Byakuya ignores his comments. Realizing Äs fought her only to get Byakuya to appear, Rukia warns Byakuya to avoid eye contact with him, but Äs proclaims it is too late as he surrounds Byakuya with eyes.
When Byakuya destroys the eyes with blade petals, Äs notes Byakuya must have used his Bankai to surround the area before expressing how much he would have liked to keep it. Telling Äs he should be aware that his Bankai uses the entire sword, Byakuya shows Äs he is holding the hilt and reveals he is using his Shikai, confusing Äs. Byakuya explains how he decided to gain a greater understanding of his Shikai after losing his Bankai and thanks Äs for giving him this opportunity. Infuriated, Äs rips his torso open and begins to transform, declaring he will not kill Byakuya but rather make him experience such terror and despair that he will wish he had died instead.
While Äs transforms, Byakuya turns to Rukia and reveals he felt her Reiatsu during his descent to Soul Society before saying she has become strong. Deeply touched by Byakuya's acknowledgement of her power, Rukia begins to cry. Noting fear does not simply come from nothing and any small thing can become a fear, Byakuya asking Rukia if she is still afraid, prompting Rukia to deny this.
Now in a monstrous form, Äs tells Byakuya the end has come. Confirming this, Byakuya reveals Rukia will be the one to bring that end, prompting Äs to ask him if he is joking. Byakuya tells Rukia to look closely at Äs and know that she will see Äs's fear if she herself has no fear. Rukia calmly releases her Bankai, Hakka no Togame, resulting in a column of white mist forming around the area.
Completely frozen and mortally wounded by the release of Rukia's Bankai, Äs remembers his past and expresses how scared he is of death and hell before apologizing to Yhwach as his body crumbles. Meanwhile, Rukia begins deactivating her Bankai. Telling Rukia to melt slowly to avoid being damaged, Byakuya comments on how splendid yet how dangerous a Bankai she has and tells her to use it carefully. When Byakuya turns away and says they will now go protect Soul Society, Rukia agrees.
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 566, pages 6-7
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 566, pages 8-12
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 566, pages 13-17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 567, pages 1-8
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 567, pages 8-13
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 567, pages 13-17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 568, pages 1-10
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 568, pages 10-16
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 569, pages 1-3
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 569, pages 4-9
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 569, pages 10-12
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 569, pages 13-16
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 570, pages 3-10