It was very dark in this particular mountain region tonight, and equally silent. Only the sound of a redundant stream rang throughout the plateau...As it seemed. A mysterious spiritual figure and his subordinates darted through the forestation around, taking places to hide, with the master well out of reach. One of the warriors managed to trip clumsily, falling behind. As he lifted himself he felt a presence behind him, turning to see a pair of satanic eyes glare at him coldly, giving the mis-fortunate man the opportunity to scream at the top of his lungs before being ripped open from chin to feet with a single swift stroke of the shadow's weapon.
The master heard the scream, shaking his head and fleeing as he knew the skirmish was lost. This was confirmed as the scream count rose, and the man knew his adversary purposely let him scream to fill his own head with fear and terror. He leaped onto a large boulder in the middle of a waterfall's vertical incline, waiting. He peered deep into the forest, seeing an eerie glow that approached slowly. Upon noticing a black overcoat and equally dark hair he attempted a laugh that instead indicated his uncertainty. "Welcome Echo-san, excellent to see you made it."
In a rarity those that knew him, Echo's expression was a sinister grin that let the man know how much he himself was going to suffer.
"I will not back down Echo-san, your antics do not affect me." lied the being.
Echo vanished with a step and reappeared on the stone. "Good." he noted with delicate care to increase the intimidation of his bloodthirsty tone.
With sweaty palms the master drew and gripped his zanpakuto, slicing cautiously yet powerfully at Echo in careful sequence. Echo merely leaned and ducked effortlessly to avoid the onslaught, catching the master's respiratory lapse and using the opportunity to weave quickly towards the older man to elbow him in the throat with devastating force, pinning him by his neck to the waterfall to be flooded over by the torrent. Echo then drove his fingertips into several of the man's pressure points, letting his muffled wails be silenced by uncontrollable drowning. when the man started to go limp Echo finally lifted him with his grip and slammed his head int othe rock enbankment, bashing it to pieces and tossing it into the stream to dye it crimson.
Echo knew other remnants of this gang were watching, so he was sure to take his time in shaming their leader. He trudged off into the direction of the Kurosaki manor to visit his kinky other half and her annoying family.
At the said Kurosaki manor, things were a little less bloody, and a little more quiet.
Having been left behind after his family had gone out on a walk, a bored white-haired boy decided it would be best to practice an activity he never tried before: calligraphy. Using information he knew about the Seireitei and deducing it, he could figure out their writing style and practice their use of them. After finally finding some paint, a brush, and several pieces of paper, he was able to commense said writing.
Now, he sat cross-legged in the main room, humming to himself while fluidly drawing the necessary characters. For him, it was an uneventful time of the day, having no sister to bug at least for the moment.
Echo finally entered the doors of the large residence, the noise from the creaky hinges echoing throughout the building.
It was then that Taiki's hand stopped moving, next to the last character. His ears twitched once at the creaking noise that had reached his eardrums. Normally, he would've dismissed it as the wind blowing it open again. But the spiritual signature that had hit his senses convinced him that it definitely wasn't the case. He turned his head towards the direction of the noise for a moment, before turning his head back. He emitted a slight stream of his own reiatsu in order to mark his location, so that whoever had came in could easily find him.
After all, the presence was positively familiar.
Echo entered the main room, walking over to Taiki and eyeing his writings. "Hello, is Akiko around? I left fairly early this morning."
Turning his head, Taiki squinted his eyes shut, putting on a closed-mouth smile. "Sorry, uncle. But I haven't seen auntie around at all. If I did, she'd be talking a walk somewhere with the rest of my family." He explained.
Echo sighed. "Well if the latter is true then I'm not too interested in searching at the moment."
"That's too bad... I would've gladly come along with you just to see you verbally dominate my sis' again." Taiki chuckled, remembering the Holloween party they had.
"That's not as difficult as it seems..." Echo trailed off as he mocked his marrital relative.
Catching the tone in his uncle's voice, Taiki raised a slight eyebrow. "I know. 'tis just more better when you do it."
"If she heeded my advice, she would be indeed formidable. But there's no point in training a warrior who already thinks they're at the pinnacle, for greatness is for those who aren't afraid to start with nothing or lose everything. Maybe you won't be quite as foolish." said Echo, pacing with boredom over to a bookshelf, eyeing through it's contents.
"Hmmm...." Immediately, Taiki's head looked up again, as if he had just remembered something. "Of course....you can't be at the pinnacle, after all." He said, as if he was speaking in a normal conversation. "There were many people who thought that they were at the top of the world, yet as history passed, there was always someone who proved to override that power. For something to rise, there has to be a fall. Even for the unworldly gods of this world and the Soul Society alike, there will always be something stronger."
"Quite." muttered Echo, trailing off in his thoughts. "Just as the universe, the limits of our beings are under constant expanse, the key is to blend in the with its flow, not resist it as your sister does."
"Blend in, hm?" Seemingly amused at the man's thoughtful expression, Taiki allowed himself to stand up and dust himself off. "Well... if anything, how exactly did you adapt, uncle?"
"We each have our roles, large or small. Once you realize yours things become a lot easier...so to speak. I've made some very important decisions concerning the omniverse thus far, and will continue to make such. My role seems to be taking the embassy of light in the darkness. I am the voice of reason in an ocean of screams, where others of my intention cannot bear to dwell. I suppose one day your realization will dawn on you, large or small." said Echo, sighing a bit and leaning against a wall. "Let's hope it's for the better of the world."
"Would it be OK if we found that out?"
Taiki allowed himself to step forward, eyes meeting the ones of the older man. He slid his hands into his pockets. "You did mention something before about training me..." He stated, the small smile never leaving his face. His eyes, however, betrayed nothing. "I was thinking for me, and possibly for you, it would be a good learning experience, don't you think?"
"Hmph." was the sound that Echo responded with. "I'm not sure, I'd hate to overdo it and anger your parents...thus angering my wife...thus ruining my weekend affairs." he pondered outloud. "And of course you could always die, and I'm not sure a corrupted ressurected form of you would suffice."
"You're talking to someone their father personally let go into Hueco Mundo, a practical monster breed... and you're concerned about my parents' anger over me being killed?" Taiki couldn't help but add a bit of humor into this statement. "One is always ready to face such consequences in order to strive for a high goal, even if the consequence changes the person forever."
"Indeed...But this particular journey will strip you of your remaining naivety, your innocence, and your way of life as you know it." Echo stood straight up, walking over to Taiki. "Perhaps death would indeed do one of such discovery a deed."
"That's fine." Taiki's voice was unwavering, even at Echo's statement. "Naivety and innocence are two things that promote ignorance... a despicable trait that I don't intend to live with forever."
Echo nodded once. "Alright I suppose, but I have a feeling this is a decision that will change the course of many lives." said the man, more interested than caring.
"Let's hope it's for the better of the world, then." Taiki suggested, knowingly using the very same words that his uncle had used.
"Pack whatever you deem necessary for survival then." muttered Echo as he put his hands in his overcoat pockets and walked out the front door.
"Pack whatever for survival..."
He would only need his sword and himself. If he was placed in some sort of environment where he would have to fend for himself, his own strength would be enough to take down quarry. If he didn't have his sword, he could simply use his bare hands. As for other neccessities...
Maybe he did need a bottle of cold water...
It wasn't long before the white-haired boy came out to meet Echo once more, dressed in his usual daily attire of an all-black outfit. "All set on this end."
Echo didn't speak this time, just gave notion with a nod and began walking through the woodland, headed towards a cave near the manor.
It was so ironic. Despite having such a civilized mansion, they were so close to wildlife. That fact once again came up in Taiki's head as he followed his uncle steadily, footsteps quiet on the grass and dirt grounds.
Even at its entrance the cave fostered an eeirie presence, a presence that grew as they trekked onward. Finally reaching the end of it, Echo walked towards a small shrine with a circular inscription at its center. "Step within the shrine's boundaries." he commanded Taiki, motioning at the pillars that outlined its boundaries.
Not one to question methods, Taiki nodded in acknowledgement. With deliberate and steady speed, he stepped stood between those pillars, turning his gaze to Echo once more.
Echo outstretched arm, placing his hand on the central pillar's surface. Suddenly the entire shrine lit up a bright green, each pillar glowing with inscriptions. Echo closed his eyes, breathing deeply. Immediately after opening them, the two were in the middle of a town square in the spiriutal world. The surrounding people casually carried on with their day, oblivious.
"Follow." stated Echo rhetorically, walking through an alleyway and approaching a monk-like figure standing near a random wall, a pure white archway staining its surface. The figure nodded, waiting for a command. "Sector E-12."
Suddenly the archway sent a tremor-like pulse along the wall, appearing as if it were liquid. The white archway now became a picturesque image of a city extremely similar to Venice, Italy. Yet this seemed to be a single Estate, consisting of several large French-themed architectures, outlined with beautiful glass surfaces and each path outlined by clear blue waters, uniting the beautiful residence with a large fountain.
Echo glanced over his shoulder at Taiki, not surprised at his reaction. He stepped out of the way. "You first."
Taiki's eyes fell upon the city, the buildings, the structure style, and even the paths. Needless to say, the beauty of the city astonished him, and words had no reason to explain it. Luckily, he was not so surprised that he did not hear his uncle. Without hesitation, he allowed himself to step forth into it.
Echo followed, tipping his head to the monk before doing so.
They both appeared on a large pillar on what previously seemed like a large fountain, but turned out to be a monumental one. It was as least fifty feet in the air, and the formely small looking paths were enormous. Echo dropped down from the pillar, lazily gesturing towards the largest building of all that lied ahead on a small island. Shortly after the command, a stone path surfaced, nearly a football field in length. Echo trekked towards the gargantuan castle-like estate, stopping at the gate.
"You shall be the first to see behind these walls, everything in this dimension is at my command, as synthesized by mydimensional creationist allies, one of which you saw earlier. Not even Akiko has been here, though I almost brought her on our honeymoon...We didn't make it to the portal...Eh ,that's a different story. Needless to say, the contents of this residence contains information beyond comprehension, some of which will be held to secrecy. As said before, everything here is in my control, even the inscription of memories into your brain. Though I trust you, I will not hesitate to wipe your mind of everything you see here if you use what you learn for reasons that contradict my teachings."
A new thought came into Taiki's mind: There would have to be assured mutual understanding between teacher and student. In order for such, he would have to prepare his actions and words properly in order to assure that trust. Right now, he was under another's sphere of influence, one that had the power to crush him into the dust if he was not careful.
If what his uncle said was true, then his very life was resting in the palm of another's hands.
He didn't mind; he wouldn't be stupid enough to destroy his window of opportunity.
"Is that a yes?" said Echo sternly, noticeably sweating as his body started to flicker, already forceably integrating the energies of Nothingness into his soul that he acquired from a dying Dahie Sauvagess.
"It's a yes, sir." Taiki agreed, his posture straightening a bit under the authority of his uncle's voice.
"Good." muttered Echo, the spasms slightly calming down, though they were still ever-present in the arm he used to gesture at the gate. Slowly the massive iron arch shifted, parting to show the front door.
Entering the massive main court Echo went straight ahead, entering a gargantuan central chamber with countless hallways and doors on its perimeters. Walking towards one in particular, he motioned Taiki to follow.
"This chamber contains all of the information I have gathered over these few years...well most of it, certain crimes are mine alone to know at the moment. The contents of this chamber describe and chronicle the worst and most despicable events ever committed, all by high ranking officials in the Soul Society, Earth, and the far corners of the omniverse. Each pedestal contains a memory that I have preserved from one of these men or women that I have claimed as my victims. Upon approaching them each memory will replay in cinematic form for you to witness, so that you realize that absolutely no rank, position, or man is free from sin. After witnessing this, you'll discover why I trust none."
Taiki did just that. His feet carried him after Echo silently, moving like a wandering ghost. His eyes drank it all in, making sure not to forget any details. It would be a preparation for what was to come to him ahead. But a slight curiosity welled up within his mind as he listened to the words inside of his ears.
Even the Seireitei had its corruption? He never knew that...
"If you've seen enough, follow suit." mumbled Echo, placing his hands in his pockets and turning around as the skin around his eyes began to bulge with veins.
It appeared to be painful, those veins popping out of his eyes. Taiki began to mentally curse himself for his curiousity trait, as it was starting to wonder about that, too. He couldn't help but slightly roll his eyes; if he was less intelligent, he would've walked straight up and asked his uncle, "Why in the world do you give the appearance of someone on crack?"
Thank God he wasn't stupid.
Instead, he turned his attention towards one of the pedestals in front of him, the nearest one. Of course, he wasn't completely near it, since the cutscene-like images did not yet appear to him. But he knew that once he approached, it would trigger the said cinematics, and he could see an example of the corruption hidden in these empty chambers.
He didn't waste time, and stepped forward to meet it.
Immediately he saw through an unknown set of eyes a beautiful woman's face, covered in tears and crimson in agony. From this anonymous pair of eyes he realized that they belonged to a man, who was indeed doing very inappropriate things to this poor woman. As rough as he was being with her, beating her relentlessly as he pleased himself, she didn't think twice about not fighting back. Finally standing Taiki saw the man he shadowed fixating his robes, huffing and sneering at the woman. "Get up."
"J-Just...don't forget what you promised Captain." she shivered, stumbling onto her feet and following him down a long hallway.
"Enough is enough, we do not have time to deal with each and every case of this plague, and that is final." clearly through a set of eyes Taiki could picture the Soul Society's highest chamber, filled with council members and a lone woman standing. She was crying in despair, clinging onto to her young son who's mouth was covered in its own blood.
"Please!" she egged. "I cannot stand to see my son die in my arms, please help him!" she wailed in desperate misery.
"In a time of such peril, you waste our time with your pity stories. We must work to save the many, not the few."
Turning pleadfully towards Taiki's host, the rapist Captain, she begged with her eyes.
Without a drop of sympathy the Captain narrowed his eyes. "I completely agree, we cannot waste our time catering to the commoners."
"As we have said, Captain. Then it is written, if you do not wish to have your son die in your arms, he will die elsewhere. Captain, dispose of this infant, we cannot allow this epidemic to spread further."
"No!!!" the woman screamed, wrenching against her binds helplessly and biting her tongue in desperation, flooding her mouth in crimson without care. "I beg of you!" she yelled, sinking into whimpers as the Captain ripped the child from her by its hair and stalked off.
As Taiki's host left with the child, he could faintly hear what the Captain could. "As for you, we cannot trust your chances of acquiring the illness either, you will be transported immediately to the containment camp." The Captain's thoughts told Taiki that this camp was a mere facade that was used to disguise the genocide of those thought to have the disease.
Taiki's last vantage of the image was the Captain skinning the child alive, burning its remains far from the Seireitei to prevent the illness from spreading, yet it seemed that an illness of heart had already surpassed that of any actual disease...
Promptly, after his vision flashed a vicious white, Taiki abruptly lurched backwards as if having been knocked back from the pedestal by an invisible force.
He looked much worse in appearance. His eyes were shadowed over, hiding any emotion that would've surfaced at the moment. Sweat was beading down his face in rivers, as if he had just stepped out of the sun's terrible rays. He was breathing hard, his short, white hair slightly matted.
He couldn't be blamed; what he had just witnessed was what he had never expected to see. He had expected such actions to be brought down by a mere commoner, someone of thug and criminal status. Yet, it had been shown in plain view that the one that had sentenced the innocent to hell was none other than a supposed protector of the Soul Society. Now he knew - no one was safe from temptation.
Without word, and without looking at the other pedestals, he turned and walked off in the same direction that Echo himself had come, a stoic expression on his face. Those images would now be a constant reminder of what corruption would be for the rest of his life.
As Taiki entered the central chamber once more, he noticed several strands of Echo's jet black hair were now white, and his body was somehow gaining transparency. "You must forgive the circumstances, you see I am undergoing an extremely painful transformation into a very powerul being. With every ounce of energy I use it speeds up, and sustaining this realm's wonder requires an enormous amount."
After mustering up those words he noticed the despair reflecting in Taiki's eyes. "Your parents have obviously kept you in naivity for whatever causes."
"I never expected such brutal images to be produced by a supposed protector of the afterlife." Taiki said lowly, a slight frown on his face. His tone was dry and firm. "What violence Kaa-san and Tou-san had shown me could never compare to what I saw."
"It is better to see such now in safety than later in time of distress." Echo breathed deeply, speaking in almost two voices momentarily as a side-effect. "Which of my archives did you review? Captain Suichi's deception?" he inquired.
"If that was his name, then yes."