A word inscribed in solid gold; inscribed on the silvery prow of the ship called Munin. A child grasps at the prow, hanging on as it looks out; clear lenses shielding its eyes from the sprays of black that surge from below. Silver hair, blackened with ink, falls from its brow to rest at its shoulders. Twin horns extend from its ears, like great funnels; elephantine trumpets that catch the wind’s whispers. It dances around with squelching noise echoing from its feet as it points at thing after thing, ever seeking the next whirlpool. The whorls are favoured, he wants to go see them. Those elusive whirls always trying to pull us towards them.
And make us theirs.
I look upon the babe and smile, the scent of the earth-born sea filtering through my teeth and filling my taste with a bitter tang. My lips snapped shut, leaving the smile, shutting out the scent. I walk up behind him as he dances around, always looking and looking; seeking our next trajectory. It is not yet tired, but I must now give it a rest and a bath. Yes, a sponge bath. We can’t let it leave its post on the prow, else we will be lost in our blindness no doubt. “VISION?” I call with a calming cry, just wanting to calm it and let him be dry. The child turns to me, without a smile, and wants to keep gazing and dancing “just for the next mile!” I shake my head no, for Munin’s sake no. “For how will we sail if you cannot see?”
I dab at its hair, I dab at its shoulders, all of its body must be cleaned. For a moment we’re blinded as I wipe down its goggles, then we’re deaf as I wash out its horns.
“Now go enjoy more”, I say like a bore. “There’s whirls around, I know you are bound to find them.” It just walks away, to gaze at the bay.
How many layers to a mind? How many to form a memory?
Lightning crackles below my feet; devoured ink burning in the furnace of remembrance. Scorching rays descend upon the city below, the ordered realm of memory. We toss and turn upon the waves, the outside realm defined by those within. Words and numbers are filed away: written from the ink of the realm, transformed by the mind, and now it is shown to me.
I sit at the head of the council; at the head of an elliptical table that rests above the factory below. The lightning crackles down from the black sky above, illuminating the figures around a collage of graphs and writing that all serves to communicate the outside reality. A horde stands around the table; the intellects. Not those who record the information, but those who can interpret. Each intellect has a thousand thousand composers, and all form the magnificence that I am.
On my right sits CAUTION, its body distended and splayed across its throne. A broken arm hovers, twisting as it points towards me. I simply look at the black eye that forms its face, unafraid of the scared sight. “We must not continue on this course of action.” it says, countless cords pulled on as it adjusts itself. For comfort perhaps? SELF-REFLECTION (or SR) whispers. It isn’t present at the table; merely another presence in my existence. It is the observer of the observer: the sight which watches sight. It’s hard to say whether I am SR, or yet another aspect. It would be difficult to prove, SR never showing much of itself to the others. It just whispered to me.
ACTION, the fiery figure that sits to my left, is currently yelling. “YOU REALLY THINK THAT THEY’RE GOING TO LEAVE US ALONE! WE GOTTA LEAVE BEFORE THEY ELIMINATE US AGAIN!” SR approves of ACTION, and so do I. Without ACTION’s random and perhaps insane mind, we wouldn’t be able to perform anything at all. Besides… it’s a beautiful light to have in this room, compared to CAUTION’s weighted restraint.
Languidly, he pulls himself into place, adjusting again to fix his eye not upon ACTION, but upon me. “You know how unlikely it is for them to end us. Isn’t it unbecoming of us to want to leave?”
“Hazuki is too great of a threat! She’d have us dismantled and destroyed in the blink of an eye!” “You give her too much credit. She’s not in the position to destroy us, nor does she possess the motivation to.”
ACTION growls, then waves a hand to summon the recordings. How Hazuki had dismissed us, how the Lieutenant hadn’t cared about our safety, nor possessed any desire to aid us. How she found us to be useless for her purposes, and how distasteful she found CAUTION’s actions. I would have smiled at my child: if i had thought that ACTION had some goal to discredit its opponent. However, such a goal was beyond its capacity, nor was it in its protocols. It was only I that saw the potential, SR confirming my thoughts.
“With that shown, it proves that we are not able to remain subordinate. We must continue onwards. Especially since Robert has modified us… actions like that will only lead to our decommission since we have proven that we won’t remain predictable for her.”
CAUTION grumbles, the point striking deep at him. He hasn’t managed to succeed much in his arguments. Perhaps that is harming his ability to function? But interfering with the arguments is not permitted. I will simply judge our action and watch us continue.
Seireitei is crumbling and the Gotei is a shell of its former self. Ravaged by the plague, the surviving Shinigami struggle to maintain the balance, but with so few of them left, the work is taxing and their fortress-city has fallen to neglect. Spread thin across all fronts, their diminished presence has been noted by friend and foe alike.
The Arrancar have rebuilt Las Noches and are rallying. The throne remains empty, but self-styled Espada have risen up from among them and are vying for control, each one endlessly testing the others’ weaknesses. Too evenly matched for any one of them to claim the crown, they bide their time, waiting for the opportune moment.
On Earth, all seems well—but there is a war being fought in the shadows as the mortals find themselves lacking the protection they once had and so sorely need. The Quincy, having realized the oppressive specter of the Shinigami is no more, are flourishing, and are fighting the Hollow-breeds with renewed vigor.