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New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

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New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Lanying Baozhai on Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:20 pm

Lanying Baozhai. Captain Commander of the Gotei Thirteen. She hasn't always had this position. There was a time, many centuries ago, when a highly racist and human-superior man held the position. However, during the Gotei Civil War, Lanying deposed him. To most of the Gotei, he was dead, or in hiding. However, the truth of the matter was much more...complicated.

The truth was that he had been the first inmate of the Great Central Underground Prison, or GCUP, a secret prison that was reserved for only high crimes of treason, crimes that broke the natural order of the universe, or other such crimes that made execution seem like a mercy, under Lanying's command. And every year, after the New Year, Lanying made it a purpose to go visit him. Whether it was out of spite, compassion, or just sheer boredom, Lanying had forgotten the reason, however she kept up the tradition, as it gave her an excuse to see the wrinkly old man.

Thus, that's exactly what she was in the process of doing. Riding the long elevator down from [REDACTED] to the final level of the GCUP, Tzoah Rotachat, which was generally reserved for the worst of the worst. The previous Captain Commander, who after their duel had been publicly stripped of his title as well as his Zanpakuto, was one such person who resided her.

Hearing a small ding, along with the elevator doors opening, Lanying stepped out of the elevator into the pitch blackness that consisted of this level of the GCUP. Being flanked by two faceless guards, Lanying proceeded forwards into the darkness, making sure to keep her reiatsu level low, as the darkness in this level would leech off of that reiatsu first chance it got.

"Oh Hitoshi? You still alive in here?" Lanying called out to the darkness. Isao Hitoshi. The previous Captain Commander. The man behind the First Quincy War, the Gotei Civil War, and dozens of other problems that Lanying had to pick up the pieces of after his...retirement. "Oh come on Isao, I know you're in there. You haven't kicked the bucket just yet, I'd have been told of that." She casually lifted up the small cloth-wrapped box she'd come down with. "I brought you some food, along with some sake."

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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Non-Player Character on Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:11 am

To individuals who measure lifespan in terms of millenia, Time as a concept has no meaning. An hour might as well have been a millisecond; a week a minute. There is no way to track the passage of time in these chambers, no construct timepiece that could ever survive the reishii hungry atmosphere of this particular location...and no convenient light source to read one even if there were.

Not that it mattered. He had long ceased to hold himself to the ludicrous notions of hours or minutes, even at the height of power and glory which was before. Hitoshi Isao would never have lowered himself to be governed by measurements so fleeting. No, it was by events with which he perceived Time both then and now. Events such as the Hollow Expedition. The Quincy Purge. And ultimately, the laughable farce that had resulted in his 'Fall'.

'Fall' --as if any of those upstart youngsters would ever stand a snowball's chance in Hueco Mundo otherwise. Fools. And this one, this particular upstart, the biggest fool of all. Like clockwork, here she would be every year as always. Just another way to perceive Times passage in this place. That was all her relevance in a nutshell. Not rival, not enemy, not ally. Just a timepiece and nothing more.

"Baozhai," remarked Hitoshi flatly without bothering to look in the direction of his visitors. Not merely out of disdain (though disdain was certainly a large part of it) but also pragmatism--he could NOT risk looking upon them directly...not yet. As was customary, the rare visitors who were permitted this far always wore the requisite coats that nullified some of the atmosphere for the wearer AND whose white material made them shine like a beacon from the perspective of prisoners denied any other source of light. Even at this distance, with head turned aside and taking care to look through the corner of an eye, the sudden whiteness was blinding...and yet a visual stimuli he would again miss when this interview concluded and brought with it a return to the darkness. The design was sweet in its simplicity: no despair, no prison would be complete without hope. The coats of the visitors embodied hope. They reminded a prisoner of things taken for granted on the surface such as colors and lights...things so easily taken away.

Hitoshi approved.

Three of them this time as always, but only one he recognized. The other two: one a tall gangly phantom of vaguely humanoid proportions, its partner a short indistinct form barely reaching the height of Baozhai's knee--were new. Likely the Captains of Two and Six respectively, for who else would have clearance to even be here? Ah yes...his eyes were adjusting enough to the light to make out the double horizontal strokes on the taller one's haori...and as for the shorter? Isao frowned despite himself in momentary confusion. No haori to speak of, and was that...a werewolf brat being led about by the supposed current Captain of 2nd on a leash and collar? Under the Baozhai usurper's all-inclusive new administration? My, things had changed.

"You know full well that sustenance is no longer a requirement now that l've lost my capacity for wielding reiatsu OR my zanpakuto. And you also know that the laws set in place under YOUR administration similarly prevent prisoners from receiving any items from outside, even if handed over by the 2nd Captain himself. Yet you do this every single time. Are all Giants this gormless, or am l supposed to interpret this as some kind of unimaginative mockery?"

Judging that enough time had elapsed for his eyes to adjust, Isao looked over to regard his visitors shrewedly. Kenpachi Baozhai still looked very much the same as he remembered her to be from the last visit, except...perhaps a little wearier maybe? Finally feeling all the burden of the position she yanked from him? Good. Served her right. As for the tall escort, he supposed this would be the replacement to that shiftless, chittering excuse of a Shapeshifter that had occupied that post last. Perhaps Baozhai was finally realizing what he'd known all his life: that non humans simply were not to be trusted in positions of power. Employing a monkey as corps commander...it still sounded like a setup to a comedy play.

Yet something seemed...off about the tall one though. There was an unnerving quality to how he had never spoken a word or made any movement during the entire interaction, merely standing a calculated distance away like a statue carved of marble. The size of the cloaked figure implied that s/he was human though, and that alone forgave a multitude of faults. It looked as though s/he understood the rightful place of nonhumans too, judging from their treatment of the other. Overall, a much more suitable candidate for captaincy than any frivolous chimpanzee would be.

"I see that Captains Pekku and...Kusanagi wasnt it? Are no longer with us? How disappointing, l was rather looking forward to a circus act with monkeys and blind men. How very very unfortunate as well, for a Commander to lose two captains in only a handful of centuries. But lm sure it in no way reflects poorly upon the current governance or its leaders ability to lead. Well, Baozhai? Are you going to introduce your new Heads of Staff, or would you rather leave us in the dark?"
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Lanying Baozhai on Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:33 am

Lanying smirked a little at the old man's choice of words. "Left in the dark? Why Isao, I never knew you to be such a jokester. Perhaps your time in here has done you some good, however small that good is. But no, as far as you will know, these two are just some of my guards."

She casually walked forward, sitting down onto her knees in front of Isao. "And it's true that you don't 'need' sustenance, but that doesn't mean you don't miss the taste." She casually opened up the cloth to reveal two small boxes, along with a bottle of sake along with two cups. She had learned to ignore his racism, however one thing did annoy her. "Oh, and by the way. You know I'm not a giant, not a full one anyways. I'm an Oni. Or has your time in here made you forget the difference? Tsk tsk tsk." She casually shook her head while lightly clicking her tongue.

"Now, enough of that. Let us eat and drink! This event only comes around once a year after all." Without even waiting for a response, she placed one of the boxes in front of the older man, opened the bottle of sake, and poured out a small amount into each cup before placing one in front of him and holding the other in front of her, holding it up slightly waiting for the man to give her a celebratory toasting.

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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Non-Player Character on Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:20 pm

"At least now l know you're just having me on, Baozhai. Or would it kill you to try green tea for once?"

Nonetheless he accepted the offering, albeit with one wary eye on what he already identified as the more dangerous of Lanying's two escorts. A definite aura of menace exuded from the (man? Woman?), one that appeared to spike as soon as fingers made contact with the porcelain. The escort made no visible movement and spoke no word, using this incidental release of reiatsu to communicate what words never could. All for Hitoshi's own benefit of course, whose years of experience in reading body language allowed easy interpretation of subtle cues. I have my eye on you --was what it was definitely saying. l wont dispute with my boss over this flagrant act of rule breaking, but if you even Think about trying anything funny...

And such unusual reiatsu it was too--something that manifestated not in the magnitude of its power, but curious enough in the...absence of it. If anything, almost like a living version of sekiseki stone that like these surroundings, drew upon and fed on the spiritual energy of things caught in its vicinity. "It looks like you've decided to set higher standards in your hiring process, at least," a grudging concession, one that he accompanied with an ironic salute with the porcelain vessel in his visitors' direction

"Normally, here is where l should say that l drink to your health. But it was never my habit to lie, and you wouldnt believe me if l did. So instead of that, here's to your post and appointment then! May it be both a long and ...interesting term of office: exactly the way it was for me."
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Shiroki on Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:38 pm

Trips to the GCUP were always fun, so this would be no exception. Dogs like going for walks. The more interesting a place, the better.

And there is no doubt of their current location being interesting. Unlike certain other colleagues, he spent his days off being acquainted with movies and graphic novels, which only led to a greater appreciation of this place in general. Seriously, the GCUP was giving off strong X men vibes. Whats not to love?

The old commander even looked a bit like Magneto, now that Shiro thinks of it. Not the Ian McKellan version of Magneto from the movies though, but more like the one in the comics: old but not yet feeble, like a scorpion thats lost much of its venom but remained more than able to kick your butt if you gave it so much as a chance.

In fact, despite Lanying looking nothing like Professor X the whole thing could almost have been copy pasted from one of those plastic prison scenes in the comics. All they were lacking right now was a chessboard. Sadly, the commander did not seem to be the chess playing type even if her predecessor was.

Theyd had a short discussion about their...retinue on the way down. Perhaps the leash was a bit much, but it always helped to err on the side of caution. As much of a bigot the shotaicho had proved himself to be in later years, the last thing he would bother wasting energy on acknowledging would be a nonhuman 'pet' belonging to a captain. That'd mean that Isao wouldnt be exchanging words with HIM, but more invested with using his special brand of psychological warfare on Lanying and Alfred instead...leaving at least ONE unaffected captain available to step in if things went south.

Credit where credits due, the interaction WAS interesting though. Even as a spectator.
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Lanying Baozhai on Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:13 pm

Lanying smiled briefly before drinking her sake. As much as Lany preferred the taste of rum, alcohol was alcohol. Pouring herself another cup, Lanying set the bottle of sake between the two of them, so that either party could pour into their own cup. "Well, openly lying never was your game. No, more like...manipulation of the truth." Lanying smiled a little as she set her cup down to open up the box of food she had in front of her.

"I remember during the war, when you tried to paint me as some war hungry monster. Now that, that was just...sad." A single tear escaped from Lanying's usually stoic face. "You know, the entire reason I took up arms against you was because of the First Quincy War, I'm sure you remember how disastrous that was. After all, under your command we lost three captains, including the Kenpachi at the time. It was the entire reason I become the interim Kenpachi." Lanying casually wiped the tear away and started gently poking at the food she'd brought down.

She first took the chopsticks to the pieces of chicken, fresh from the butchers and made specifically for this day. She quickly took a bite before resuming her story. "But, if it wasn't for the First Quincy War, the rest of the Gotei wouldn't have seen just how bad you'd become." Taking another bite of her food, Lanying waved her chopsticks around as if for emphasis. "They finally saw what the Great House Hitoshi had become. Racist warmongers who wanted the Shinigami to rule, rather than do our job and keep the balance."

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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Non-Player Character on Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:38 am

"It has come to this then. A child barely past her thousandth year thinks to lecture me on truth and balance. So too might ants seek to reason with the descending foot when it threatens their anthill. As they, you see but a part--a segment only, and cannot even begin to imagine what it is to perceive the Whole."

Isao turned an empty sake cup idly in one hand with a distracted air, like a person admiring the glazed decorations upon its surface. "You are but an individual, and yet you believe yourself capable of defining Balance? Would you, in your arrogance, attempt to depose and unseat the Soul Queen if ever you should learn that her purposes do not coincide with that of yours? Did it ever occur to your mind to cross blades with the Serpent, or match wits with the Librarian in a contest of Kido? To most shinigami, it does not. But yet nonetheless these ridiculous notions l listed can be compared to your war against Me."

"l say this not as a boast, but as plain fact. As Kenpachi, you were but the sword in my hand, Baozhai. No more. A sword does not question the will of its wielder. A sword does not oppose the arm holding it should it decide to swing. The burden of intrigue, and plot, and what ought be sacrificed for the sake of the many were not your concerns. They were mine. Had you and your agitators been wise enough to accept that, you would have seen that which you label as chaos come to end. The campaign on the Quincy was never intended as a war. War implies struggle. Equal opponents. No. Had there been no distractions, there would never have been a war. Merely a massacre,"

"For if you look to our history, it was never the Quincy's lot to be involved in the balance of souls. Their abilities are anethema to our own and go against the very tenets of our purpose. They do not purify hollows. They eliminate them. Left to their own devices, they would have undone all the work of shinigami in a few short millennia, dooming our worlds in the process. We have tried words. We have attempted discussion. The best we can hope for with these is an uneasy stalemate peace. It is not enough. Nothing less than genocide will serve, and as upsetting as it may seem to your morals, ultimately it ensures that there still will be a future,"

Hairline cracks began to appear across the porcelain surface. "In time you yet may see as l had seen, Baozhai. Assuming you last that long. You should have contented yourself with your lot and not troubled to think about concerns above your station. For you were always a good sword. But good swords are not always good leaders--"
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Shiroki on Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:56 am

As entertaining as it was to watch this mutual exchange of veiled hostilities between the two, the ensuing hilarity would not have been worth the immense trouble he would be in if that cup was allowed to break. Shards could be concealed. Used as a a tool or a weapon or even in suicide at some later date: all avenues that were not too outrageous to consider. Enough was enough.

He willed Alfred a step forward as a distraction, concentrating in the meanwhile

"Fetch, lnukaze,"

Luckily, he'd taken the precaution of exposing all likely objects--sake bottle and cups--to his shikai in advance, therefore could easily recall them in such an emergency.

There. Problem solved. Now if only he hadnt called attention to himself in the process... Up till now Isao had shown himself perfectly happy to overlook Shiroki's presence, preferring instead to focus on verbal sparring with his replacement. From the way the man was looking at him, that arrangement seemed likely to change. Crap.

"l'm s-sorry, ryoka-sama," he purposely put a stammer into his voice and avoided meeting Hitoshi's gaze. "B-but my C-captain s-says you've had enough. T-to drink, l mean,"

Surreptitiously, he made Alfred tilt its head meaningfully and rustle the folds of its sleeves in some mute semblance of communication. The convenient part with that was that it didnt have to be any actual sign language. So long as it gave the impression that he was translating any gesture would be good enough.

"Um, h-he also says to s-step backward from the entrance and k-keep your arms where we can see 'em. Uh, s-sir,"
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Lanying Baozhai on Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:20 am

Lanying listened the older man's words and got angrier and angrier. What did he know about balance? He'd only sought out war and destruction. Massacring the Quincy wouldn't have solved anything, only made things worse as it would have angered a God. She had just about had enough when, before she could strike, the young pup beside her spoke up and acted. This calmed Lanying just enough to where she didn't draw her blade and lop off Isao's head.

"My ideals are the ideals of the Baozhai. The ideals of the Baozhai are those of honor and integrity. You speak of good swords, yet you sent my husband out on a suicide mission. You sent him out to die. That was your first mistake all those years ago." She slowly stood up, attempting to use her imposing height and aura to inform Isao to back down. "Do you want to know the second? Letting me live."

She quickly turned on her heels and started walking back towards the elevator, knowing that Shiroki could easily clean up the boxes and the sake bottle. "And just so you know, in my tenure, we've mostly had peace. The Quincy tried to get revenge, yes, as they deserved. However, this time, I did what you couldn't." She turned her head, her crimson eyes reflecting the light of the elevator. "I gave them an honorable war, and they still lost." With that, Lanying stepped into the elevator and waited for her companions to join her.

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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Non-Player Character on Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:00 am

"And there's the Kenpachi l remember," he had no need to shout, complacent in the knowledge that the rejoinder could be easily heard in the quietness of the chamber. "I was wondering how long it'd take,"

"You are angry, Baozhai. But you are deluded if you think your anger directed at me. Anger is beget from fear. We fear something, and therefore we violently oppose it lest it destroy us. This is why the Quincy fight the Hollows. This is why we fight the Quincy. To which l must add--what then, do you fear? It cannot be me. I am an old man, powerless and captive. Certainly you do not fear me. Yet you rage...and do you even know why? Surely this is all past history. You could kill me at any time during these long centuries. No one knows l exist. No one would have stayed your hand. Yet you did not. And I know the reason why,"

Zealous eyes glared daggers into the woman's retreating back. "You did not kill me because you NEED me, Baozhai. You need a face for the monster, a scapegoat for the atrocity. And your anger is born of fear that deep down, in the deepest inner chamber of your heart, you suspect that I was right. That I have been right all along. After all, if l truly was the monster your faction claimed l was, would there have been those who joined my banner? Would there have been soldiers to fight in that 'Civil War' at all? I did not force them to join me. Yet there were those who did, who joined because they shared my convictions as well. Is that not the truth, Sakanade?"


Teeth bared in a rictus grin. "Did you think I would so easily forget one of my staunchest supporters? My faithful agent in the Academy who kept supply lines open and provided safe haven for my injured comrades? And I see you've done well for yourself after everything ended. Congratulations on your new appointment, Officer Sakanade. I wish you all the best and do hope your current masters are up to the challenge. I'd beware of this one, Baozhai. Turned his tail and ran like the coward he was once he saw which way the wind was blowing. Best take care he doesn't end up betraying you too,"

"But you WERE right about one thing though," Isao reoriented himself to stare idly at the nonexistent ceiling. "I DID make a mistake back then, sending Baozhai-san on that excursion. It was a calculated risk, one that l was sure he would overcome. I was wrong. His loss cost me dearly--" he turned in his best estimation of the direction where the elevator lay--the location of which now obscured by the returning dark. "Funny how things become so obvious the longer you dwell upon them, isn't it? I never should've trusted the mission to Baozhai at all, he was much too valuable an asset to lose--"

"I should; of course, have sent YOU."
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Re: New Year, Same Tradition [PRIVATE]

Post by Shiroki on Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:07 am

And to think people thought him paranoid.

All those years. All those centuries. And Isao Hitoshi still remembered his name. His name!

Something like that really made one wonder what other things the old prisoner knew but wasn't telling. And how much of it would be potentially damaging to a certain Captain of Squad Two.

If there was one thing Shiroki hated, it was loose ends. Something would have to be done, eventually. But not here. And not yet.

Another time.
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