[1/13] Week 7 - An age old argument

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ZoneGhost

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Acadir Nimroren'a - Fables
Shiroi - Moots

WC: 7426


High noon. That point in the day where all life seems to have crawled to a grinding halt and lethargy sets in. Acadir hated it, there had always been a lull but it seemed to have translated into a simple, and pathetic, death. Time paused, waiting for the correct moment to rise up and begin again. How far the Gotei had fallen, those once honourable Guardian squads were now under the command of a liar and a cheat; a noble liar and cheat, but nevertheless a man who took credit for a discovery he stumbled upon.

Maybe that was the feeling that had set in, that feeling of despondency that had so long ago driven him from his role in the Guardian Squads. Yes, he remembered the day well, it was midwinter with only a slight snow flurry outside the headquarters of the First Division. The rebuilding of the actual site had finished some time back but the division itself had yet to recover from the treachery of Ari Muramatsu, or Zetetic the Vizard. Most were willing to accept the new line that the man had been a traitor and a Vizard infiltrator, they walked that path that led from total ignorance to blissful self-imposed blindness with nary a thought to the consequences it would bring upon the entire world. Acadir had never accepted that line, he had felt betrayed but also he had remained firm to what he had seen. He had been saved more than once by the intervention of Vizards, the ‘High Inquisitor’ and the contested Captain-Commander had both saved his life.

Morally Grey. That horrible area where part of your mind reviles the thoughts you have and another part accepts them as normal and good. Vizards, they were morally grey. Acadir had spent a long time in Hueco Mundo, he knew firsthand that there were powers there that he could not combat even at his level of strength; he knew that even the Captain-Commander, Gabriel Faust, or ‘Shiroi’ as he liked to be called, could not face some of the things that lay there. Deep. Hidden. Strong.

Snarling slightly he headed across the courtyard, behind him he had his Zanpakutou manifested, a show of power. It was arrogant but there were too many enemies, too many rivalries, he had to be clear that he was stronger than they. He walked in a straight line, his entire body held loosely as if suspended upon invisibly small wires, his blade swinging upon his hip, his violet eyes gazing imperiously upon others. He was marching to the door of the Captain-Commander, having been sure to make an appointment. Apparently the old man was more of a recluse these days; hiding from his demons no doubt.

Behind him, he knew, she was walking. His companion these past years. Only his wife provided him with the same unconditional support and love, only his child.

--

”You’ll burn at Sou Kyoko for this Faust!” The Keigun agent hissed across Shiroi’s desk. Shiroi for his part seemed particularly unconcerned as he knit his hands in front of his face and leaned forward. “And exactly what crimes have I committed?”

“You have frozen the assets of corporations with LaSalle backing without provocation or evidence! You’ve used the Gotei as your own personal vehicle to further the reckless ambitions of your family.” The commander leaned back, putting his gauntleted hand to his chin. “Now it’s interesting you’ve made the connection between those corporations and House LaSalle, because I have made no such accusations. Sources speaking on the condition of anonymity have caused me to use my resources investigating the claims. It is all standard procedure.”

“Furthermore,” it was the Commander’s turn to go on the offensive, “you are well aware of this. You’ve been sent here to secure the interests of the noble house pulling your strings. At least be honest with me.” The Keigun agent eyed Shiroi nastily but didn’t take the bait, “Who is your source! If it was that criminal you took in, then the Keigun demands-“

“A funny thing about sources that speak on the condition of anonymity; they tend to like to remain anonymous.” Shiroi interrupted shooting a glare directly back at the Keigun agent. “Of course we are aware that we will have to divulge the source eventually, we are not obligated to divulge it immediately nor are we obligated to divulge it to the Keigun considering this is an affair outside of Seireitei walls.” A bell rang on Shiroi’s desk and he pressed it, his calm expression turning into a small smile.

“Now if you will excuse me, I have a meeting with a representative from House Graves.” The Keigun courier sputtered, “House Graves? But after the Mask War they-“ Shiroi leaned back. He would fill in the blanks himself, and the LaSalles would believe that House Faust was forming some sort of gigantic alliance among the nobles. Their paranoia would cause them to act rashly. The beauty of the matter is that no such alliance was even necessary, or even wanted from the Commander’s point of view.

Acadir, even 500 years after the Mask War was still a pawn in a much larger game. “Now if you will excuse me, I am a busy man.” He shooed the Keigun agent out of his office and finally responded on his intercom. “Send Acadir in.”

--

The word came through, it was time to walk into the maw of the lion. Acadir paused slightly, adjusting his garb. It had changed a lot since he had last been a true agent of the silver towers of Seireitei, no longer did it conform to the standard norms of the shinigami; instead it conformed to his personal needs. The uniform black had been replaced by a myriad shades of dark grey, each one blending well with the next, his house and personal emblems displayed on either sleeve. The sigils were not obvious but anyone who should see them would.

As he slid open the door soundlessly, a thousand thoughts raced through his brain, jostling each other for prime position. The most important of those was how he would address the man in this office, whether he deserved to be called’ Captain-Commander‘, or whether ‘Captain’ would suffice. Whether he should be seen as a fellow noble, or whether he was a superior. Maybe Acadir just wasn’t sure what he was, going into this office, whether he was a rogue shinigami or whether he had simply up and given up on that task. He decided to go for the more neutral approach.

Approaching the desk he did not smile, nor did he let the manifestation that trailed him disappear. It was important, in situations such as this, to ensure that Faust knew exactly where you stood. Holding anything back was usually a major mistake. It was all so different, there was a different mood in the room, as though time had barely touched it. The air seemed heavier than it had outside, oppressive even.

“Captain Faust,” the neutral approach threw itself out of the window. “It has been far too long.” there was a slight pause as Acadir considered his words carefully before glancing out of the window. The sky was blue, as ever, how clichÁ©. “I have come for two reasons; first to ask for a position in the Guardian Squads and second to, perhaps, explain my absence.”

--

“Byakurai.” Shiroi’s finger pointed past Acadir’s ear and a bolt of lightning manifested from his finger scorching the wall behind. “No, you have come here to attempt to prove something and already failed. Congratulations.”

“If you expect to talk with me in a civil manner, then perhaps you should approach in a civil manner.” Shiroi’s eyes glanced disdainfully at the zanpakutou manifestation and he snorted. “If you wanted back in the 1st division, you have already managed to flunk the entrance exam.”

“But if you are intent on explaining yourself then by all means.” Shiroi leaned back in his chair a fake smile plastered on his face. “It has been 500 years since you’ve served after all. Why not tell me about all the illegal activities you’ve engaged in for the past few centuries and we’ll compare notes.” He interlaced his fingers, “Then perhaps you can discuss with me why you think I shouldn’t bother detaining you.”


--

“Prove something Shiroi?” Acadir restrained himself from snorting, there was no need to anger him overly. The man was still, and would probably always be, much stronger than he was. “You mistake me, she is merely here because she has stood by me no matter what. But since it apparently unnerves you..” he closed his eyes, and a small smile on her lips signalled that she had heard his mental comments. Waving sarcastically at the Captain she dissipated.

“Why would I want back in my old division anyway? There are thirteen divisions of which I have been an officer in two, there is plenty of time before I will feel the need to be back in the elite again.” he smiled and took a seat before his old captain, it seemed that the man was determined to make this a fight.

So be it.

“Anyway, onto business. It seems you think I’ve been a rogue for the past five centuries, perhaps you are right, perhaps you are wrong, us arguing over that definition would be pedantic, all I will say in my defence is that I have still been doing my duties, more so than most of the sycophantic officers you have gathered in the squads.” he paused to take a deep breath. “I had business to deal with in Hueco Mundo, business that was necessary. Your agents no doubt know of the Mercury Mirror?”


--

“Your service in the Gotei, if I even approve it, is based on our needs, not yours. You will do well to remember that.” Shiroi wove his hands together and took a look out the window for a moment.

“You left the Gotei. You had no duties. Yet you have operated on your own without authority from Seireitei. There is no debate and nothing to be pedantic about; you have worked outside the law. It is only through my mercy, and my unwillingness to bother crossing with House Graves that I have conveniently overlooked your indiscretions.” He turned back to Acadir. “And now you have come to me.”

“Yes, I know of the Mercury Mirror, and I am aware of the threat it presents to Seireitei. Let me say that again, since you seem not to understand the point. The threat it presents to Seireitei. That means it is my problem, Acadir; far more than it is yours.” He sighed in irritation.

“No doubt an item could allow an infiltrator to slip into our ranks seamlessly, but I’m more concerned about how it does what it does than what it does. If you catch my drift, I’m talking about its ability to alter spiritron composition. With Masaru dying to destroy the only method Hueco Mundo has to create Arrancar, we have enjoyed an era of peace. With an item like the Mirror, it is quite possible someone could attempt more ill-fated experiments at hybridization, something I will not stand for.?”

“So yes, I am well aware of your mission in regard to it and you have served Seireitei well. I was going to thank you until you wandered into my office like you did. I must say I’m impressed that you managed to shatter a good five centuries of good will in the course of thirty seconds. That may very well be a new record.” Shiroi’s voice was flat and tired.

“Get out of my office. You’ve already served your purpose today and it’s obvious you aren’t ready to return to a Gotei that demands personal responsibility. If you think of your former comrades as nothing but sycophants than I can’t see why you’d be so eager to join us again.”


--

“I have not finished Captain so I will not leave. Your knowledge of the Mercury Mirror is woefully small if you believe it was a personal errand. I was working as much for my house as for the rest of the world. It is a matter which threatened the life of my wife and my child, so I saw to it as best I could. It is true that the matter was your problem but I am certain that you would be almost happy of my relieving you of that particular errand. It was, how shall we say, boring?” Not strictly true, there had been an edge to the task, but the man in front of him need not know that simple fact. Let him cling to his delusions, they were all that kept him going.

“While it still represents a thorn in the side of the Gotei I can no longer be solely responsible for it which brings me to that more important reason of my visit. I will be candid, to do otherwise would be a mistake, I am here because I can no longer deal with the problem alone and am therefore returning it to you; something you seem to have expressed a wish for.” he sighed and lapsed into a brief silence.

“Furthermore, need I remind you that it is the duty of shinigami to maintain the balance between the worlds, to purify hollows as best they can, to protect the king. I have done my part, more so than most, to purify hollows and in doing so I have also done my part to secure the Crown. What would you have had me do? What would the Guardian squads have done if I had approached them with my problem, my house’s problem? I am now labelled a Vizard sympathiser because I recognise that they have a use, because I was there and watched the act play out. Yes Ari Muramatsu, your predecessor, was a Vizard, but he also saved my life multiple times, surely that is a reason to follow a man. None of us knew he was a Vizard before you blundered into revealing it, and yet those that followed the legal Soutaicho were later branded sympathisers. Me more than most because I dared to defend his actions. So I left the Gotei, this cesspit of hatred, and went out to pursue my duties alone.” he flexed his fingers slightly, letting them intertwine with the sable ribbon that flowed of the hilt of his blade, a sure sign of anxiety. “And now you say you will not have me back? Because I have the gall to speak out against you? Because I have done my duty in a fashion that does not suit you?”


--

”No, I refuse to have you back because you have not learned anything, which your continued speaking makes even more apparent.” The Commander’s voice sounded his age for once when he spoke again. Ancient arguments repeated over and over in secret chambers rang through his memory. How many times had he tried to justify himself? He had lost count.

“Why you continue to cling to the delusions that Zetetic, and yes that is his true name whether you want to acknowledge it or not, was a good leader continues to baffle me. Even if he wasn’t simply a Vizard plant in a bid to seize control of the Gotei, he was a weak and ineffectual leader doomed from the moment he took up the mantle of Soutaichou. The other captains of the rebellion, even when unaware of his status as a Vizard infiltrator still rebelled against him. The ones who stayed did so not out of any loyalty to Zetetic but rather to the Gotei itself or possibly some phantom memory of Masaru. The truth is, he was never anything but a failure and a pawn. If he was any sort of leader at all, he would have declined the promotion and refused to become a puppet of the Central 46. Most likely, the Vizards above him didn’t give him a choice in the matter.” Shiroi took a breath. It was going to be a long lecture.

“Every time he ‘saved your life’ was a farce to earn your loyalty. Every inspiring speech he may have told you was a calculated effort to make you turn against your shinigami allies. The Commander you defended was the mask. Zetetic is the reality. That is the underlying truth about the Vizards that you have failed to embrace. Perhaps it is because you weren’t the one that had to fight them.” The Captain-Commander let his left hand drift to his gauntleted right hand, and he began to unfasten its bindings.

“No I didn’t know that Zetetic was a Vizard when I joined the rebellion. I never claimed to personally, but I also never denied it as I would rather go along with the Central 46’s exaggeration if it gives me the chance to secure the stability of the Gotei 13. That is the path I have always taken, the one that ensures the future of the Gotei and of humanity. I have lost men and I have shed blood to do that, and you dare come in here and trivialize it?” Shiroi’s tone became deeper, louder and angrier with each passing word.

The plates of metal fell off of his right hand and to the ground. An acid burn ran up the length of his arm, made into a series of “X’s” by deep marks where Kuragari Seisatsu’s blades pierced him. The coloration was uneven, with blotches of grayish skin forming an almost snake-like patter brought about by multiple deep flesh wounds. His hand looked almost rotten as a patch of black seemed to move around his hand as if it were alive.

“When the rebellion began, I joined it to shepherd Seireitei through its time of troubles. I gave the rebellion legitimacy and staying power, but my presence among them came at the price of my input. By taking the reins of the rebellion, I was put in a position where I could minimize casualties. If that makes me a hypocrite, then I gladly accept that. For my part, I did my best to try and welcome the loyalists back into the fold, but I suspect their inability to do so stemmed from their alienation with Gotei politics rather than any accusations of Vizard sympathy. To feel that way is natural and I understand. To continue to support ‘Arihito’ in the face of his catastrophic incompetence not to mention the fact that he has been a traitor since Masaru made him his Vice-Captain is willfully and pathetically stupid.” He held his hand up in front of his face with his grey eyes peering angrily from between his mutilated fingers.

“Your service regarding the Mercury Mirror was appreciated, and now you will be replaced. That would have occurred regardless of whether you came into my office and told me or not. You are a member of House Graves, of the high nobility, and I recognize that, but as you obviously cannot respect or even understand me as a leader, why should burden my squads with a walking threat to chain of command like yourself?”

--

The arrogance of the captain before him was something else, it kindled within Acadir a white hot flame that did not want to die. The temerity of the man to assume that the slightly more junior officer before him knew nothing was quite astounding. Furthermore, it seemed that there would have to be a fight to get back into the Gotei. How pathetic.

“A walking threat to your command? Is that what I am now? You are truly misguided commander.” he spat the last word out as though it were a venom. “You don’t know why I fought for Zetetic as you would have us call him do you? You think I was simply following my captain? No, Shiroi, I fought for the law and nothing else. Regardless of why he was put in place or even the efficiency of his command it was not my, or your, place to question the orders of the Central 46. There was a question mark hovering over his appointment but until he proved his in competency on the field of battle neither you, nor I, could raise our voices in anything more than a strenuous protest.”

“If anything I am a pillar in your command, since I have always and will always espouse the law. I follow men not for strength or love but because their station is above mine in the law; that is why I followed him.” he paused to take a deep breath, his fists balling around the sable ribbon. “I have never said he was a good leader, only that I owed him my life, as I owe that to the ‘high inquisitor’ of the 46: Seisatsu. This fact would not stay my hand if I were ordered to kill him, but it does lead me to think about the consequences of Vizards and what they represent. We cannot undo the past, they are condemned to their existence, and yet rather than use them as a weapon shinigami hunt them and ostracize them. You know, as well as I, that there are things in the depths of Hueco Mundo that few people can face, and some that none can face, and yet you would not use the Vizards to deal with those threats.”

“But of course, we all understand what it means to be a Vizard, what it means to have a part of a hollow within you. Tcha. There is no point dealing with that, the hatreds are rooted too deep within us to undo them; how many would have the presence of mind to consider the possibilities that their very existence gives us?”

“So you will not return me into the Gotei because you are afraid of my undermining your command? You are afraid of having a capable man that does not fall under your full sway. I can fight as well or better than most in the squads and yet you would turn me away. That smacks of the accusations of incompetence you have levelled at your predecessor; you are putting fear of your position above your duties to the Gotei which include maintaining their strength. You are lumping me in the same boat as the troublemakers, you are branding me an incompetent who would undermine your command, and yet have never considered that perhaps if I have returned here it is because I would happily, no not happily but satisfactorily, command shinigami again. After all I am truly another one of those incompetent and unstable men that joined you in your little rebellion. Need I name their names? A certain vice-captain of the eleventh division springs to mind.”


--

”Are you listening to me? Are you listening to yourself?” Shiroi’s hands fell onto the desk loudly. “I said you were a walking threat to chain of command. Meaning, your constant suspicion regarding my orders and my motives as you have clearly demonstrated here will trickle down to the people under your command. You aren’t a threat to me. You are a threat to the people under you. Your hatred of me will get my men killed. I don’t care how well you can fight, if you can’t even do something as simple as take a command, then you can’t work in the Gotei 13.”

“Your unquestioning adherence to the letter of the law of the Central 46 makes you blind. You, being the only officer in the 1st during the Mask War were the best placed to find out about Zetetic’s treason had you kept your eyes open. Yet instead, you were filled with his lies and promises of glory. You were filled with the Central 46’s speeches about loyalty while even as you watched, they were disloyal to their own Gotei 13. You speak to me of adherence to the law, and I speak to you of adherence to principles. You cannot hide behind the law to wash the guilt away.”

“You accuse me of branding you a Vizard sympathizer, but I think you’ve done quite a good job of applying the label to yourself. The Vizards have always fed us the lie that we are weak. They came to us offering an alliance spouting the same nonsense. Tell me, if they are so strong, why have I spent the last 500 years hunting down members of the Army of Masks who have gone mad from the hollows within? Their era is over. Using them as an important tool to fight Hueco Mundo makes us rely on them. Relying on them gives them influence. Giving them influence fuels their greed. Their greed is what led to the Mask War. You being right next to Zetetic and Kuragari should know this better than anyone.”

“No, we will address the threat of Hueco Mundo in our own way. Our unity is our strength and that is the strength the Vizards attempted to take away from us. I fought the strongest of their number on the steps of the Central 46 and I can tell you first hand, their power is not enough to save or destroy the world. You are looking for an excuse, a way around being personally responsible for safeguarding the living. It is lazy and an insult to the 13 Protection squads.”

“You aren’t unstable like certain members of the rebellion; this is correct. But you are as painfully blind as they were. The similarities are there, whether you want to see them or not. Your inability to understand their reasons, even if you disagree with them, does you no credit, especially when you expect to lead men; many of whom may be former rebels themselves.”


--

Acadir stood up, not quickly but with a purpose, he leaned down on the desk, resting on his fists. When he spoke it was in a low, level, constrained and extremely soft tone of voice.

“Blind Shiroi?” the sound came out almost as a whisper. “You are right I was the only officer of the first division at the time. You may also be aware that Zetetic was hidden away for fear of his life. You tell me that I was best placed to see his treachery. How? He was in a bunker hidden away. You do not know what thoughts I have harboured in my mind, those doubts that crept up when I was the only officer available to fight against your ‘feint’ when your ‘allies’ attacked my division. You were not there Shiroi, you do not know what I believed at the time. That shameless act of cowardice would have been enough to remove him as Captain-Commander and had the outcome of the war not shown him to be a Vizard then I would most certainly have petitioned to have him removed. By force if necessary, but on the grounds of incompetence and cowardice.”

“I do not, and never have, espoused blind unswerving adherence but I do believe that armed rebellion was the wrong way to deal with the problem. You should have waited and been patient, you should have let him prove himself to be incompetent rather than do what he and the Vizards wanted. But no, in your wisdom you rebelled and created scars that have yet to heal. Only when you, I and all of us who lived through that civil war are dead will the scars of it heal. “

He paused, looking the other in the eyes, violet meeting grey in a defiant stare.

“And yes, we should use the Vizards. They have powers that we do not; and if all else fails then they will die in that hollow world and the problem will be solved. I do not suggest we rely upon them, only use them. Why would we rely on them? There is no sense. However, there is equally little sense in leaving such an asset unused. But perhaps you are right, perhaps you are to weak to manipulate them into what you wish. I will leave that matter for you to consider after all you are the commander. Lonely, I hear them call you, I can see why. They actually believe all your tough talk and are afraid to speak back to you because you are the great Hero of the civil war.”

Again he paused, but this time to draw a breath.

“I, however, am fully aware of what you are, who you are and what you have done. You are afraid I would corrupt or endanger the men under my command? Why is that? Again, you have given me no good reason for why I would do such a thing. I am not some lunatic hell bent upon destruction and moreover I am quite capable of keeping my own council. Who would listen to me anyway? I am just an old kook from an era beyond time.”


--

”Don’t give me excuses.” Shiroi said, curling his lip. “A leader is responsible for the things that happen under his command. You failed to find Zetetic out, so I had to.” Shiroi shook his head and leaned back.

“You still fail to realize that the rebellion would have occurred whether I had joined or not. My role in that movement was to moderate it, to change it from a bloody coup into a creature of ideals. Had I not done what I had done, many more would have died. Among them, would probably be you. I don’t expect to be treated like a hero for it. When I made the decision to do what I did, it was probably the hardest one of my career. I don’t ask you to agree with it, but I will not sit here in my own office and be condemned for it either.”

“I don’t ask that you sympathize but that you understand. Your stubborn refusal to do either is why you cannot lead. You will not be able to understand your subordinates, nor your enemies. Your morale will fall apart and your enemies will crush you. It doesn’t matter how strong you are in a duel, I’m asking you to lead the people entrusted to my care and bring them out alive. What you have vented at me today indicates that you cannot. You are no leader.”


--

“Quite Shiroi, you tell me to see what happens under my command. He was above me in station, I was still a young officer what right had I to question the actions of a veteran? You are right, the rebellion would have occurred without you, but without you it would have failed in it’s objectives. Do not state otherwise, you know it to be true. Diega was no tactical genius, she was a blunt object, easily defeated.”

He sighed and slumped back into his chair looking up at the ceiling. As he looked up a smile curled upon his lips, playing across his face like the reflection of the moon upon a starlit sea. All of a sudden he burst out laughing.

“You have grown as bitter as I have Shiroi, you truly are lonely. You say I am no leader? I have proved that I am in the past, and I remain so. Perhaps I am more tempered than I was in my youth, more flexible than hard.” he exhaled and looked back down at the man in front of him. “You will not return me to being a shinigami? How very like you. You claim that what I have said proves I am no leader? Perhaps. I see it more as a proof that I learned not to obey orders unquestioningly.”

“It is ironic is it not, that the fact that I am prepared to argue with you and pick at what you say is what will not allow me back into the squads. I am born to be a leader Shiroi, a few centuries alone in Hueco Mundo proved that point in vivid detail.” Mirth faded from his face as he brought it down to look at the man in front of him. “You will sit there on your high horse and try to taunt me for as long as you want, but I am above it. I faced my fears, my doubts, and confronted them myself. That is why I am back. When I left it was partly because I could no longer be a good leader to the men under my command, now I return because I can be.”


--

”I am quite possibly the Gotei’s top strategist. I am well aware the rebellion would have failed without my aid. It also would have been a bloody mess leaving us ripe for the picking by Hueco Mundo, or the SQN, or whoever else is poised to fill the gap. How long will you continue to miss the point?” Shiroi sighed in irritation his eyes rolled upward for a moment as if he was beseeching the heavens for patience.

“You are willing to argue with me here, but do your principles turn into action? You’ve now given me the rank excuse for why you didn’t speak against Zetetic. What excuse will you give me next? You want me to give you responsibility, yet refuse to acknowledge your own responsibility in what has happened in the past. Listen to yourself!”

“I’m sure being in Hueco Mundo alone gave you all sorts of leadership skills.” Shiroi spat sarcastically. “And my time breathing air has given me gills.”


--

“Modest, aren’t you. “ replied Acadir, with equal sarcasm.

“Yes, my principles do turn to action. What do you think my absence was, except a tacit acceptance that I could have done better in the past? You wish me to walk in here and tell you that I am at fault for not noticing he was a Vizard. I am not. I have excuses but ultimately yes, I was blind. And you, what was your excuse for not knowing? You knew him longer than I, you had more opportunity to find out. But you did not either so do not lay your charges at my door with such a self-righteous attitude.”

“As for my skills, they are inherent. I know how to lead. Being in Hueco Mundo allowed me to seek redemption for my failures by serving the shinigami without jeopardising them with a doubtful commander. Being in Hueco Mundo alone taught me to temper my anger. So yes, it did teach me to be a better leader.”

“What have you learned since I left? You have sat here alone, brooding like a dark knight. At least I took action to quell my insecurities, you have merely let them become a part of your. You acknowledge that you were as blind as I not to see the Vizards, and yet you will never admit that will you? How could the Noble Gabriel Faust ever admit he was at fault.?”


--

Shiroi snorted derisively, “Can you admit fault without first attacking me? Just because I’ve made mistakes, and I have, doesn’t nullify your own.”

“Zetetic, was not my Vice-Captain, nor was he my superior officer at any time during my tenure in the Gotei. However, as the Captain of the assassins of the Gotei, I was not without leads. However, to speak more in depth about that would compromise a promise I made long ago.” The link between Oniyuri and Yukiko Murray would further compromise Moira Murray’s position. She had already suffered enough.

“The testament to my leadership is that the Gotei has endured for 500 years after its most violent period in history and the death of its greatest leader followed by a civil war. As for you? You sat in a desert alone for a few centuries and expect a medal.”

“I’m sure you learned some things, like self-reliance or what have you, but this does not a leader make. You may have learned skills that could conceivably be applicable, but that is no proof. You want me to stake lives on your claims, but they are just that: claims. I see no evidence of change. You walked in here with something to prove, and you have. Unfortunately, you have proved that even five centuries may not be enough to change a man.”


--

Acadir sighed at the man, he had set his mind upon a course of action and did not want to budge. It was a bull-headedness that seemed to be etched upon his very soul. There was nothing to do but keep going, to keep arguing until he got what he wanted. Even if it took all day.

“If five centuries don’t change a man then all the better, I was a good leader then and no doubt remain one now. You weren’t there were you, when the First was attacked as one of your little diversions. It was I that led that defence, I was the only officer of any purpose or rank in the entire division. I held my men against that assault, one that was unprepared and caught us off guard.” he rolled his eyes. “Do not say that I should’ve been prepared, there was no reason to be. We were a side show, the Captain-Commander himself was away in a bunker somewhere, and there was nothing of value with us. But the matter stands, I held the line. If I have no changed this five centuries then I will have retained that.”

“As for my actions in the twilight land, you know little of them. My testament may not be the equal of yours, but then, I do not seek your position. I merely seek to be readmitted into the Gotei. I do not expect recognition, or even a reward for my services, they were freely rendered; I solely expect to return to my comrades and resume my duties as an official Shinigami. This, however, is too much to expect from a man who seems determined to make enemies at every turn.”

“Rumour is you are going mad, have been since the Civil War. I disagree, I think you are simply becoming more bitter, more eaten up by doubt and self-loathing. You are willing to let the Gotei lose warriors only to satisfy your own self-doubts. That is not how a commander should act and is a slur upon what honour we, as shinigami, have managed to cling to.”


--

Shiroi shot Acadir a cold look for a moment, and then a spasm seemed to flow through him. Finally, he could contain it no long and began to laugh. He put his hand to his forehead to cover his eyes. The laughter seemed to subside until he peeked through his hand and saw Acadir. Then it started all over again.

A few jabs here or there and the patent absurdity of people floated right to the surface. Finally, he regained his composure. “So you expect the quality of your work in ‘holding back’ the most incompetent captain I had under my command and his significant other who didn’t even want to fight, when they were under orders to attack with nonlethal force during a diversionary strike to somehow impress me?”

“And then,” Shiroi leaned in, his eyes gleaming, “this is my favorite part personally, you claim that spending five hundred years in Hueco Mundo, doing something I can’t verify, as you just said yourself, somehow has transformed you into a great leader. Well I’ll inform you that I have gone mad and I have spent three hundred years on Mars alone working on leadership skills, but since you can’t verify that, you’ll just have to take my word for it. By the way, during the time I was gone for those few centuries I decided you are an incursion upon the honor of House Graves, using what well-formed opinion making skills I miraculously obtained while being in an entirely different planet and out of touch with Soul Society. To top it off, I’ll do so without ever having met you personally.”

“You really are simply too much Acadir of House Graves. No wonder a Commander looking to cover his identity as an enemy plant promoted you. It’s too bad I’m not a Vizard. Get out.”


--

Acadir fell silent, lost in a moment of thought. He dissembled, blanking his face completely, letting the spark within his eyes falter for a second. As he did so he let his mind empty itself, let it drain of all emotion. He let the insults wash over him, he basked in them, he did not have the choice to be emotional. When he did speak it was coldly, his entire body still and calm, emanating a cold anger.

“You seem to enjoy insulting me, shiroi. You have dodged, jabbed, and squirmed; all of which should be beneath the Captain-Commander of the Gotei, and yet you have not given me a single valid reason for not accepting my re-admission into the Gotei.”

“It is correct that you know little, or nothing of me, but what do you know of those mewling babes that come out of the academy. You give them a station within this world, you give them a place to serve as they need, and yet when anyone half-way competent enters through your door you fail to grant them leave to enter the squads. You have hidden behind poor insults in a bid to refuse me entry into the Squads and yet you fail to notice what I have been saying all along; I will not leave until I am granted leave to serve once again as an official shinigami. I know that I am qualified to serve, even if it is under your esteemed command. I know what my worth is, you do not. You dismiss me out of hand, not because I would be a threat to your men, but because I am not prepared to bow my knee before you. You know that I am more than half-way competent, which is more than can be said than for the weaklings you have under your command; you know I can lead men and inspire them, but reject the proof; you know I can fight well, but do not wish to use me as a weapon.”

“How pathetic, Shiroi, for you to have fallen this far.”


--

”Is that the sort of speech you will use to inspire the legions you hope to command under my guidance? If so, then I certainly am inspired. Inspired to kick you out of my office.”

“You have claimed to be a leader and given me no proof. You have claimed to want to help the Gotei, yet insulted a good three quarters of them. You have come in here claiming you want to uphold the Gotei’s ideals, yet you fail to grasp even the basic concept of insubordination. You have tried to impress me with boasts of strength, and failed to realize I don’t care. I’ve given you plenty of reasons, you just won’t listen to them. Will you argue so hard on every order I give you I wonder?” Shiroi’s face wilted and he pressed a button on his intercom.

“Call me ‘mad’ but I’m not particularly eager to potentially sacrifice my soldier’s lives to find out. Send the next person in.” He took his finger off the control and put his elbows on the table.


--

Acadir watched impassively, he had long since realised that he would not get all that he wanted in this office, however, he would not be leaving the office without having gained at least some of what he intended to take away from the meeting. With a small smile he looked at the white-haired man before him.

“You are getting predictable Shiroi. Truth is that whilst I would have liked to be returned to the Gotei it was not fully anticipated. I rather hope that you reconsider your decision, although I doubt that you ever will. No matter, you know where to find me.” he turned and made his way towards the door.

“Oh,” he said, pausing, “I won’t be going back to the shadow lands for some time. If you have need of a strong fighter I suggest that you train one.”

With that he left, Divided Spirit, materialising herself. They had much to plan together.
 

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