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Old 05-10-2009, 02:51 AM
DarkToaster DarkToaster is offline
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Default [1st] Week 82: The Burden of Power

”And the hollows were babbling code?” Number 40 asked the hapless shinigami, who nodded nervously as he stood in the middle of the courts of the Central 46.

Issei Kikuchi, known as Number 46 in the chambers of the ruling body of Soul Society, put his hand to his chin behind his screen. “And it was you who decoded it first, correct?”

“Yes…” the shinigami said, “it was directed to the Central 46, so by protocol, I had to bring it to you before I told my superiors.” He was already regretting following protocol. “We get a lot of fake messages that we filter out, of course, but this one seemed genuine and big enough to take straight to you. Without our Captain, we usually send this stuff to Captain Faust.”

“Tell us,” Number 7 said, “what did the message say.”

The shinigami frowned, “Well, to sum it up, it was a diplomatic overture from someone in Hueco Mundo.”

At that, the room filled with mumblings and whisperings. Issei leaned closer to his screen, “Let’s not hear the summation. Tell us what it said.”

The shinigami pulled a paper out of his pocket and opened it, “It says: ‘I am Orcus. I am the strongest of the remaining true hollows. The half-masks have ruled this realm of Hueco Mundo long enough and I wish to crush them, but I do not have the strength to do so alone.”

“I should add here,” the shinigami said tentatively, “that we picked up similar readings from the attack on Taipei. We believe it to originate from the same hollow responsible for that disaster.”

“The butcher of Taipei wishes for an alliance?” Septimus LaSalle’s laughter echoed through the room. “Absurd!”

“There’s more,” the shinigami said softly, “he says that as a token of his goodwill, he will tell us that it is Esqueleto who is leading the Arrancar and that he will give us two weeks to decide our stance before he comes to negotiate a treaty personally. That is all it says.”

“Petycon’s right hand,” Lord Kikuchi whispered to himself, “that will be all from our guest. We have things to discuss that are not for your ears.”

The shinigami bowed and left the room.

“He’s lying,” Septimus said when the shinigami of the 2nd left the room, “Esqueleto is dead.”

“Do you think so?” Number 17 said skeptically, “We know that several of the Arrancar have returned from the intelligence obtained from the vizards-“

“-the unreliable intelligence,” Septimus added bitterly, “obtained from unreliable sources.”

“And our own readings,” 17 added.

“This is most likely a trap to lure the Gotei 13 into Hueco Mundo. We know these hollows are powerful on a scale similar to the Arrancar reported by the vizards, if we even believe those reports,” Septimus sneered, “so it’s just as likely that this ‘Orcus’ is the one running things in Hueco Mundo rather than some long-dead high Arrancar. We knew some of the lower Espada escaped and continue to exist, thanks to the incompetence of Commander Faust.”

“Yes, it certainly is a shame that the Commander had his attention occupied with certain other parties rather than finishing exterminating the SQN,” Issei lashed out sarcastically, putting Septimus into a sullen silence, “but what if this message is genuine? What then?”

“Faust is no Masaru,” Number 30 said, “he was only a vice-captain during the Battle of Hueco Mundo. It has been 500 years but this is still beyond him. Esqueleto fought and killed one of the legendary Captains and lived. ”

“Can we be so sure,” Issei sounded hesitant, “having Masaru’s son in our vanguard? He has made it to the final round of the tournament, after all. His star is rising.”

“Note the word ‘rising,’” Septimus lashed out, “all you former shinigami should know the difference between him and Masaru. If you want to dismiss my skepticism as embracing a convenient conclusion, then I warn you all not to embrace the convenient conclusion that our Gotei is prepared to handle a reborn Hueco Mundo led by what we can easily assume is the strongest creature in existence.”

“Let’s get to the point,” Number 30 said sternly, “if this message is genuine, should we accept it?”

“If Esqueleto is as strong as they say,” Number 17 said softly, “then a hollow civil war may be the only chance of stopping him. While I would love to hope for the best and say our forces might win out, we have to prepare for the likely fact that we are not ready to face Hueco Mundo alone. Even Masaru was not ready for that.”

“These are hollows we are dealing with, and they will turn on us in the end,” Septimus LaSalle said condescendingly, “even negotiating with them makes us dirty by association. Even if this ‘Orcus’ is being forthright, I still would vote against any sort of alliance.”

“Even if this is a ruse, the potential for insight into Hueco Mundo is tempting. Perhaps Faust is no Masaru, but he is Faust and he has demonstrated a degree of competency with strategy and deception even if he isn’t quite as sharp with a blade. Should we not give him the opportunity to subvert the enemies we send him and his men after every day?” Issei’s voice grew stronger as he spoke.

“The hollows’ nature is deception,” Septimus jeered.

“I will speak with the Commander personally,” Lord Kikuchi said abruptly, “let us adjourn to think on this turn of events. Dismissed.”

As the men and women of the Central 46 filed out, the head of House Kikuchi stayed in his chair, his eyes vacantly staring at his screen. He barely registered the effeminate frame of Septimus LaSalle settling into the chair next to him.

“It is safe to say that I am not the most…morally upright of people in this assembly,” Septimus said staring at Lord Kikuchi’s screen as well. “But as someone who has had to do many unsavory things to cling to his power, I know a snake when I see one. This Orcus is a snake, and we should have nothing to do with him. Do the right thing,” he stood and patted the elderly man on the shoulder, “Because my brother, lunatic though he may be, would have.”

Septimus Lasalle’s laughter echoed through the halls as he left.


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