Born Again, Dead Again, Born Again
From the veil came a terrible bellow that tore through the sky. The cloud dispersed immediately, fleeing for its very existence in the wake of the wretched howling. Standing opposite of The Speaker was a creature befitting the ugliness it radiated. A four-headed beast, unmistakably similar to a Tharran but mammoth in stature and much more humanoid. Each head, faceless, featureless, save for the almost innumerable set of razor sharp teeth shared between the quartet of them, all dripping with probably toxic saliva. It had six arms lined with obsidian-like spiky growths from its shoulder down to wrists. At end of each arm it sported a pair of humanoid hands resting opposite of each other in chiral fashion, all twelve of them bearing claws or raptor-like talons and rather threatening spikes at the centers of each of its palm. It’s legs were long, if not for the fact that it moved about on it’s many hands and knees, it would easily reach 200ft tall and possibly then some if it stood properly. Perhaps this grotesque being, this embodiment of body horror and physical suffering was the Zygantre for which the realm was named.
Whether it was or not, The Speaker did not know and did not care. Names didn’t matter, specifics didn’t matter. The end results were the only points of import, and for once an apparently worthy opponent had been made manifest. The Speaker looked up, countenance brimming with abundant glee and sopping wet with anticipation. The kind of fight that could only come from facing such a monster was threatening to send it into a state of pure euphoria and ecstasy.
In the end, the lesser demons of the world weren’t much of a match for the powers Emi still possessed. Powers which had now been amplified by the spiritual phenomenon presently occurring. But, this... thing was every bit of the potential disaster The Speaker wanted to be, at least aesthetically speaking. It was if the creature was the other half to the whole The Speaker felt it wasn’t able to be just yet. If only it had possessed this beast rather than Emi was a thought that surfaced more than once, but the speaker knew better. Even in her weakened state, the woman was a veritable treasure trove of god forsaken chaos just begging for the opportunity to see the black of night. Time would ease any qualms The Speaker still had with its current vessel, and time would see said vessel restored to its true strength. Though in spite of that truth, there were enough lingering reservations to prevent the speaker from outright killing the beast just in case. At the very least, The Speaker considered allowing it to be a pet before wiping it and everything else out of existence.
Eventual fates notwithstanding, there was still a potentially fierce battle on the horizon. It was in this moment that the many years of training an experience took over and allowed Emi to regain some semblance of control over herself. Her eyes darted back and forth between every significant feature, leaving her mind to take note of each of them as it did. All the while, The Speaker remained completely ignorant of what was happening. This part of Emi was so ingrained, so natural that the habit and the resulting understanding brought about by her studying of features were able to proceed completely undetected by The Speaker. As this occurred, it was apparent that there will still various bits and pieces of Emi hidden deep down inside somewhere. It was like pieces of a puzzle scattered around. It was possible that they could be gathered and pieced together in order to allow her to return to her rightful place. Emi still remained in the depths The Speaker sought to fill. Her habits breaching the surface were proof of that, but was that alone enough see her return eventually to the light?
With Emi’s body on autopilot and taking in in the creature, The Speaker was able to discern some of the creature’s capabilities at a glance. If it were like the Tharrans, the multiple heads, despite being blind were in possession of some sort of sensing apparatus that allowed it to perceive things without sight. This sensing ability, potentially being amplified fourfold likely meant that it lacked any form of blind spot, and thus trying to surprise or catch it off guard was nearly impossible. It’s multiple arms were all equipped to either tear down or break down any victims, it’s stance and the way each arm appeared to be double jointed meant there was essentially no place near its body beyond its reach. A safe approach would be difficult.
From the brief analysis it appeared not to have any apparent weaknesses. Typically such a massive creature would be crippled by attacking at the ankles or feet which would throw it off balance or limit its ability to move properly. However, the various hands and their apparent capacity to defend vital points and mitigate any damage done to them by their numbers alone proved to be honest obstacle. Of course, Emi could attack multiple targets simultaneously however. This one point could prove useful at dealing meaningful damage to the creature when the time came. Aside from that, the creature was clearly fast given its ability to show up from seemingly nowhere in practically no time at all. Taking the sum of its parts into account it was clear that thing was by and far an actual threat, or at least on paper it was. Whether the cumulative effect of its physiological possessions would amount to the same level of hazard in practice as it did in theory was yet to be seen. Despite this, The Speaker was excited to meet it all the same.
“Ah! A marvelous specimen you are. It’s a shame that you, much like everything else must cease to be.”
It was tough talk for a being that had yet to actually prove itself. While it was true that it possessed Emi’s body, and thus by extension was about as dangerous as she was, The Speaker was still very much a new and inexperienced driver. At the moment all it had were visions, memories of Emi’s countless battles that played like the kinds of videos you’d find floating around the Internet. One moment it was watching her facing down a small squad of Arrancar, the next it was watching her tossing back a few drinks, or showering, or filling out paperwork. For most part, a lot of it was a bunch of non-sequitur nonsense unfit and unsuitable to gleam much more than a base understanding of her and her workings. What knowledge it had of her zanpakutou was ripped from her during the various encounters with Reijin, including the latest. It was enough to get a working idea in a pinch, but it would do nothing for real practical application.
So there it was, talking the talk but its ability to walk the walk was debatable. The Speaker could make use of Emi’s abilities, but it couldn’t necessarily apply them tactically or strategically. It was all power with no real experience, and the beast was not about to sit and let The Speaker figure it all it. It would have to be a trial by fire. The answer to the question of whether sink or to swim had to be discovered both here and now.
The behemoth swung forward its middle left arm, plunging it deep into the earth where it lingered there momentarily. SNAP! The earth shattered like a twig beneath an elephants foot and trembled slightly as the massive beast followed through on its swing and forcibly sent a mass of earth rocketing towards The Speaker. It was like a sand storm met and later drunkenly copulated with several tornadoes and a hurricane to create this sloppy yet massively destructive orgy of sand, and stone, concrete, steel and rust. The attack was a sign that the creature saw The Speaker as mostly insignificant. It couldn’t be bothered to do much more than to literally throw dirt at it, knowing full well that even this would be more than enough to rid it if the supposed infestation. It was beyond disrespectful, even for a beast The Speaker could see and recognize the message being sent loud and clear. Of course there really wasn’t much The Speaker would be able to do about it in response, not now.
Disregarding the sentiment behind it, resulting attack was like a nuke being set off with how much earth was upturned by it. In all of a sudden even more of the already wasted wasteland would without warning be blown well past confines of reasoning into parts way beyond knowing. And on the other side of it stood The Speaker, who in a panic was forced to trigger an upheaval of earth of its own making in response. Emi’s tainted black blade glided through the air like a dancer on the stage. With it, a massive surge of raw strength ripped a massive slab from the earth and turned it upward. This chunk of rocky goodness was as thick as it was both hard and long, and managed to stand erect just in time to shield The Speaker from the peril that now surrounded it.
This slapped together barrier creating a water-shed effect amidst the tidal wave of dust was all The Speaker could do right now. It wouldn’t last though. The first storm was just a warning shot. The behemoth continued its onslaught, plunging a pair of hands one after another into the earth and kicking up a storm just as vast and as fierce as the last with each impact. The ferocity behind the barrage of storms was completely of the charts. It reaches such a height that The Speaker desperately presses up tightly against the stone slab for dear life in panicked attempt not get caught in the torrent. It was immediately apparent that getting caught in the storm would clearly sand anything caught in it clean out of existence. Worse, the stone slab was being eroded away at a pace tens of thousands of times faster than it would have under natural circumstances.
By now there were only seconds left until The Speaker was shredded into oblivion by trillions of less than pea-sized particles moving at speeds so absurd that math probably didn’t have logical a number for it. Of course, The Speaker didn’t particularly care too much about what happened to Emi the end. She was just a car that The Speaker stole and already had its joyride in. If it crashed, if it burned, or if it ended up stolen again, it didn’t matter. This lack of possession or even concern for Emi meant that all concepts of self-preservation simply didn’t exist. In fact, The Speaker’s apathy for Emi’s continued existence and wellbeing was so great that even her body’s instincts were ill-equipped to counteract the impending doom, despite having previously gained some level of autonomy in order to even preemptively assess the situation.
It was, by no necessary stretch of the imagination, that profound and absolutely unfathomable selfishness motivated The Speaker enough to even vaguely consider preventing the loss of its new vessel. It stood, finding courage in a place where fear and cowardice perhaps sought to seep in, moved back and away from the slab though not so too far as to be caught in the torrent and steeled itself.
At the heart of the storm, sands piled up at a frightening pace, threatening to bury The Speaker alive, somehow well before the dwindling stone was entirely erased. It clutched Reijin firmly in both hands. Then, through force of will, six spectral arms, each wielding a ghostly black Katana manifested from the roaring rapids of dust and sand. The Speaker, channeling no small degree of Emi’s power, let the blade fly forward. Unable to handle the chaos from both sides the slab was utterly obliterated. Yet, rather than allowing flood waters to pass through unabated, no harm came to the speaker. Instead, a massive and extremely fierce wind loaded with innumerable shimmering blades, flowed forth and collided with the mess the behemoth sent forth.
An explosion of clashing winds sent dust and debris hurtling towards the atmosphere. Then one right after the other, several more explosions followed in rapid succession as the phantom hands followed up to unleash micro-hurricanes of their own. Each new storm of The Speaker’s making was left free to clash and collide with the subsequent attacks the behemoth unleashed which only furthers the disarray.
The world really didn’t know discord until just now. Just the collisions of air were so violent, that the shockwaves would be like taking a barrage of punches to the face... from a train. The earth cracked behind each clash, dust was sent into the and created a cloud so dense that whole the world the district existed in was flooded by darkness. The rest was sent flying just about everywhere else in massive heaps large enough burry the entirety of small buildings in an instant.
By the time all was said and done, a small desert had been formed in place of the barren wasteland that previously replaced a section of ruined city. Finally that exhibition of madness was over, but the battle proper was just beginning. Long before the dust could fully settle, the monster was neck deep its next attack and The Speaker could feel the earth quivering beneath the monster’s incredible stride. This was the one, and only warning The Speaker had, because at this point now, it was fighting entirely blind.
A massive, lanky and almost skeletal arm and pair of hands materialized through shroud. It came with such speed and grace that the dense cloud parted just ever so slightly around it, leaving the displaced air to churn violently and create a vortex around the freshly emerged hand. Reacting to the sudden intrusion, the Phantom hands lurched forward in attempts to parry the behemoth hand, which then The Speaker followed up with an attack of its own in order to assist. Each attack was.m followed by the same bursts of wind as before, each carrying enough blades to shave a million, million faces and enough wind to allow astronauts a few precious breaths of air even in the vacuum of space for a few seconds. The blades and baleful winds both slammed into the beat’s massive paws, cutting away a sizable portion of flesh and slowing it in the process, but of course ultimately doing little in the way of actually thwarting the attack.
In fact, outside of dampening what would’ve likely been a killing blow otherwise, the beast didn’t seem bothered much by the response. The massive fist collided with Emi’s stolen body and sent it soaring backwards at a breakneck pace. As she went, the beast shook off its hand, as one would if wet or dirty, and then jumped skyward in pursuit of its quarry. Meanwhile, The Speaker frantically tried gasping for breath, having the wind knocked clear out of it in process. Worse, it could feel a number of small jabbing pains erupting suddenly into Emi’s right lung. Signs of several fractured ribs, with specks of dislodged bone being jammed into her lungs.
It wasn’t human, but The Speaker was experiencing and learning what fear was today. Emi’s body was afraid. Afraid of what just happened to it, and afraid of what would follow behind the lack of skill piloting it. It was afraid it would perish without being able to fully comprehend what was happening to it. That fear brought her back again, or at least lingering remnants of her.
Beautiful Broken | Beautiful Breaking | Beautiful Breaker
The Speaker faded from consciousness, after succumbing to the sensation of billions of tiny invisible hands, each coated in or made of molten steel dragged it down into what felt like scorching hot oil. The Speaker awoke to find itself bound to a rickety throne made of stone and steel, unable to speak, unable to move. It was covered from head to toe in those same burning hands, however now they were visible and glowing bright red. They were like a dense web of brilliantly lit spider’s silk threads, woven into thick and braided ropes of pure and impassioned light. At the upper ends, the ropes were frayed, revealing the billions of tiny hands these ropes consisted of. Like snakes they slithered up The Speaker’s neck and forced it to tilt its head back. There, it could see what looked like tv screens. There were thousands of them, tens of thousands of them, maybe more. It was hard to tell to tell in confusion of the moment.
The Speaker went into yet another panic. It wasn’t able to understand just what exactly was happening to it lo, and the inability to respond was beyond stressful. It was as if an even bigger, more threatening presences stripped it, the big bad, of all its will and authority in a situation it commands up until the beast appeared. It felt so weak right now as a result. Every shred of confidence and certainty The Speaker had before now were long dead and long gone. The paradigm shift was upsetting.
Moments later, ropes began to split off, letting more hands loose to slip further up The Speaker neck and eventually head. They continued on until they reached its eyes, after which they then maneuvered their little finger tips to grasp firm at the speakers eyelids. From there, the tiny hands forcibly pulled The Speaker’s eyelids further away from each other. The pain of it all was beyond excruciating.
Now that whatever had taken over The Speaker, has its absolute and total indentured attention, they began to run through the various memories of battle and distressing that Emi had. Each time a memory played, the screen it played on let loose a single drop of what felt like acid, mixed with lava, mixed with ice fell into The Speaker’s eyes. Each time it did, The Speaker howled in muted agony as the images from each memory were quite literally melted, burned, and frozen into its line of sight. As each memory played again and again, it became more and more permanently and painfully etched into The Speaker’s eyes.
Every single painful lesson leaned, every painful mistake made, every hard pill to swallow, every moment of discomfort and so much more were being just as painfully shared with The Speaker, and in the worst way possible. It felt every thing she felt in every last one of those moments. However, the method of delivery for each memory, in liquid form dropped directly on to The SpeakerMs eyes, made each and every last one of those pains burn tens of millions of times brighter than they did originally.
Each memory played out in real time for The Speaker, which meant its spent years upon years, upon years in this absurdity. Every split second was an agony both new and old, suffered in absolute silence and in absolute assent. There was no refuting, no protesting against what was, and what is. This was the pain it needed to know or else Emi would truly be lost forever. This was her soul’s last stand to see itself persist long enough for her find her way back, if somehow, someway she could even still manage that. Though for now, whether it could or not was less important to her lingering will. For now, ensuring that window of opportunity stayed open, giving Emi the chance to return if she did in fact remain was all that mattered.
The Speaker hit the ground, hard, which freed it from one peril and sent in to the arms of another. Scrambling to fully regain consciousness, The Speaker was able to pick out the beast’s frame from the sky. It was mostly silhouetted, but there were still enough fires burning throughout the parts of the area not landscaped into a desert, that it could see pats of it highlighted in the overwhelming darkness. “Run”, some unknowable and powerful force told The Speaker, and so run it did. It forced itself up off the ground, retrieved Reijin and then forced itself into a series of sloppy and panicked shunpo.
Moments later the behemoth crashed into the ground with such force that it buried itself knee deep into the earth. But by then, Emi’s body carried The Speaker far, far out of the range of the devastation, which was just as bad as the catastrophe that summoned The Speaker forward to begin with. This was getting out of hand.
On one side, a massive and immensely dangerous force seeking to kill The Speaker. On the the other, an unknowable and torturous force seeking to teach it something, which, The Speaker was struggling to take in.
Pat of the lesson’s inability to set in was in part due to the abrupt return to reality. The other part of was was that was just as disorienting as it was painful. Worse, the nature and suddenness of it all confused and somewhat frightened The Speaker. Even though having the memories literally burned into your focus was painfully effective and remembering the many individual moments, it wasn’t particularly helpful for allowing the victim to make meaningful sense of them all. At least, not on the fly. It should have been noted that there were not a whole lot of good a flood of memories that couldn’t be properly contextualized could do.
Looking past the bout with Emi’s memories, The Speaker’s focus fixated on another point of contention. It simply couldn’t comprehend its inability to fight this monster. The Speaker knew full well that with the kind of power Emi had, it could stand up to this beast with no issue. Then, if allowed to truly cut back, she’d be able to make short work of it if she tried and ultimately wouldn’t really need to. And yet, despite this reality, The Speaker was completely unable to muster that ability.
It felt small and inadequate. Only minutes ago, The Speaker was slaughtering beasts by the dozen, and reveling in how simple it was to see them perish. Ever time the blade moved, something on the other side of it died. It was a simple and straightforward process. But now the steps were obfuscated. It wasn’t as easy as swing and watch things die anymore. There was now a literally tower of terror standing off in the distance, fighting to break free of its prison and see to it with every last ounce of its soul that The Speaker died. The new sensations The Speaker was now suddenly being subjected to didn’t sit well with it. This could not continue.
As the beast sought to set itself free from its stony gaol, the sense of impending dread with the beast’s return to freedom spurred an awakening of sorts within The Speaker. Glimpses, of a life once thought to be lost came flooding back. This time, it was able to experience its own memories. They were hazy and hard to make out with any sort of clarity; however it was able remember a few things quite distinctly. First it remembered being surrounded with an overwhelming abundance of vibrance and life. Even more than the wealth of life that existed today. It was like a paradise, an vast and never ending utopia of purity and light. It was beautiful and bright. Moments later it could feel that life slipping away as if for the first time ever. It could feel an almost universal panic sweeping over everything. It was like a god asserting its dominion over absolute everything. It then could feel fear, contempt, loathing, confusion in an ever turbulent flow of emotions. All comforts and delights seemed like distant memories here in this time.
Then as the memories got deeper, it could feel what once used to be love. It was a deep and genuine love. The same kind of love that a parent would their child. It was warm, gentle, and proud. There was no other light in existence like it. It was bright, so, so bright but not blinding. But then it could feel that love being turned into contempt, then into hate, and then finally disgust, remorse, and ambivalence in that order. Then finally, the last thing it could remember was feeling big, all powerful, the same way that Emi felt or feels when she’s at her strongest. No, this was ever greater than that. The kind of big one would feel standing atop a mountain or when flying. But, soon that strength vanished, only to be replaced by what felt like true and eternal darkness. Nothingness. A nothingness so vast and so deep you could fall into it for a million eternities and never find the ability to fathom an end. It was frightening, it was cold, it was lonely.
What was it that happened? When? How? The Speaker could sense that the answer was both near and far alike. It had to know the truth. It needed to live in order to find those answers, and there was only one way that was going to happen. The Speaker exhaled, cleared its mind, and then drank deep of its new found resolve. In doing so, it returned to the memory room.
At first, it looked up, allowing the memory juice to fall and burn its eyes again. But before long, The Speaker grew impatient. It wanted more and wanted it faster that the screens were giving it. Picking up on this, the binding hands responded to the Speaker’s wishes and brought the screens down close enough that The Speaker could almost touch them. This quickly turned what was a few previous drips of the mysterious liquid every few seconds, into a proper downpour. Not only did it burn its eyes, it began to melt burn and freeze everything else now in the process as well.
The threads then loosened their grip around The Speaker’s head and neck, allowing it to move, view and soak in every last detail of Emi’s memories up close and nearly unimpeded. Yet even this was not enough. Before long, the impatience reached and apex, and The Speaker began bashing its head against the nearest screens. This carried on for days and it carded on with such force that its face became dented in from the impacts. Weeks eventually passed and The Speakers skull and become completely broken and disfigured by the brutality. All the while, The Speaker could feel it all exactly as it was, and without the ability to rest, heal, scream, and or die. All while also practically swimming in the heavy rain of memory juice. Countless gallons of which, seeped onto and into the infinite number of self-inflicted wounds. And of course all of the aforementioned wounds burned melted, and froze all the same. As to be expected, this without question amplified the agony a trillionfold in the process.
The Speaker suffered in silence with next no avail or solace for weeks. Its suffering would not go unrewarded indefinitely, however. Through all its efforts, The Speaker managed to crack, what could have just as easily been an indestructible object, on what basically amounted to a gamble. After having suffered many, many lifetimes and weeks on top of that, facing a torture so indescribably severe that even the most omniscient of deities would struggle to find the words to explain it. Things were finally coming to a head.
Another month of the head pounding later, and cracks turned to fissures. Soon fissures threatened to become chasms, and not long after, they did. By now, the screens were flooding this infinite space with liquid memory. Eventually then everything shattered moments later. One by one, the screens exploded, permitting an endless deluge of memories to flow forth freely. With it, entire aeons were compressed into the length of a single breath. Through compression of time, The Speaker lived and re-relived through every painful memory, again and again millions, billions, and trillions of times over in mere instants.
Before long every last one of Emi’s memories, good and bad belonged to The Speaker. Through immense and boundless force of will, The Speaker was able to break through the last vestiges of Emi’s lingering psyche. From there it found full clearance to slither its way into the bits of her that were previously sealed off to it. And after it all came tumbling down, there was absolutely nothing left of her remaining within to defend against The Speaker. Emi was now completely and unmistakable gone from this vessel. This was The Speaker’s body through and through, and now she was it’s true and rightful master. All of the Emi that was left existed only in memory.
She, The Speaker, awakened once again. However now there was an even deeper calmness and clarity to her than when she first awakened. Carefully she reached down, sliding her hands between her breasts to withdraw two vials of reddish liquid. One was the potion from the first round of this twisted event that Emi neglected to make use of in the desert. The second, was one slipped onto her person in the transition to this ruined realm. Now both were in The Speker’s possession.
The speaker removed the corks sealing both vials, and then one after another, guzzled then contents of both. Her body tingled, and then burned a little as the potions took effect and mended her wounds. Normally the potion wouldn’t have done much more than reverse some of the superficial injuries she had sustained, but it seemed the increased dosage managed to boost the regenerative properties the potion hand. It even was able to help dissolve the bone fragments lodged in her lungs. Now she could wage war properly, however there was still one thing missing.
“For a thing to name itself... is emblematic of the the highest power and authority. As I have now truly lived, and died, and have been born again thusly it is only proper.”
Her reiatsu flared wildly at first, and then tapered off to settle into a low smolder. Even while lacking control, The Speaker’s Reiatsu seemed to moved as if in complete subservience to her will. A side-effect of not just the new confidence, but also the completion of her transition and subsequent dominance of this new body of hers. Emi truly didn’t exist in this body anymore, and with each passing moment, the signs of this reality were becoming more and more evident. It was time to introduce the newcomer.
“As one that will ultimately introduce this world to a state of existential darkness, I declare myself Erga. Erga Omnia. For I will consume all there is. To reiterate, I consume therefore I am. Hostis humani generis.”
Her voice was still lost to the effects of Reijin’s newly manifested power. She mouthed the words all the same, and that alone seemed to give them power. Contrary to the last time however, the blade did not resonate to become her voice. Instead everything transpired in absolute muteness. In Erga’s mind, it was only fitting that the greatest statement be made in pure silence. Of course, the distant wails of a cthonian beast notwithstanding. Reminded of its presence, she turned to face it. This time able to finally see it with her own eyes.
In hindsight, much about it appeared to be or felt hyperbolic in nature. Nothing more than extravagant flourishes added in response to a naivety surrounding combat. Though this was more a conflation of poise and determination somewhat corrupting the reality of the creature in Erga’s mind. It still very much was the beast that through her off balance previously, if not even more so than she initially understood, but now it didn’t seem half as big nor half as threatening. Miraculous what a shift in perspective could accomplish.
Erga raised Reijin and steadied it in both hands. Her left foot then slid forward as she pulled the blade black towards her right shoulder and held it upright but slightly tilted back to assume the Harapekodatta Kouen stance. In doing so, she could feel the sword within her hand vibrating, resonating with her, becoming heavier and much more substantial. After taking Emi’s memories for her own, she understood the importance of the various stances. While it was also true that all of Reijin’s abilities not only became much stronger in the advent of the Ethereal Locus event, but also stance agnostic. The lack of constraints allowed for ease and flexibility far beyond what was possible otherwise, and yet a focused, disciplined blade was far deadlier than one that wasn’t. Erga knew it, she could feel it.
“Hissatsu Ken: Kouen Suimei,” she exhaled, and the hundreds of tiny blades normally expelled in a gust of wind coalesced instead along the edge of her blade. The shifted, danced, glided into place along the edge making it serrated rather than smooth. She then followed it up by uttering the words “Suimei Zangeki”, which caused the phantom hands, now manifesting behind her, to develop serrated edge blades of their own. She was ready, they were ready. With new found focus, Erga and her blades had become a small army of Bushi ready to fight a thousand, thousand battles.
Moments later, the behemoth lifted itself free and roared. The beast could sense that Erga was still out there both alive and well, and it was beyond dissatisfied with this reality. It planted all twelve of its hands onto the destroyed battlefield, pressing the palm spikes into it as means of increasing its leverage. It then lowered its whole body, and bent its legs and began consolidating its power both in them and its arms. Seconds later it sprang forward, causing the ground to explode behind it from the weight of its launch. In seconds the massive creature was upon her throwing a flurry of palm strikes and swipes.
Erga dashed between the strikes, using a combination of Shunpo and her own natural stride. The hands slammed into the ground all around her, impacting it like asteroids from the heavens that left craters behind in their wake. Between the attacks, Erga and her squad of phantom blades took turns swiping at the behemoth’s hands, severing scores of fingers in the process. The beast reeled back bleeding profusely, not in agony but in both surprise and disgust at what happened. The beast looked down at it hands, almost sad to see its fingers lost but then they grew back.
‘Was it hollow?’ Erga thought. The regenerative abilities the creature possessed were a bit of an unexpected turn, but upon closer examination of the beast it didn’t appear to be hollow. So then why was it able to heal like that? Erga didn’t linger in the thought, and instead saw if fit to press the offensive. She resettled into her Harapekko stance and uttered the words [shado=indigo]“Hissatsu Ken: Anbu Zangeki”.[/shadow] In doing so, the swords and the phantom hands had burned a way and were replaced by shuriken. A blink later, they began hurling the phantom stars at the behemoth, pelting it in an endless barrage.
Typically the barrage would’ve ended after a shot period but it seemed to drag on with no signs of stopping anytime soon. One consequence of the Ethereal Locus was the the sen normally eaten up as tribute for Reijin’s power was that sen effectively became limitless, allowing continuous use of certain powers. In this instance, Erga had formed her own firing squad, which the beast stood opposite of.
Bits of skin, hair, and the black growths that lined its arms were picked clean off the beast’s body and star after star collided with it.
Blood poured from the wounds in excess, and pooled along the sands to create a muddy mixture of dirt and pain. Worse, the beast seemed not to have much response for what transpired other than to sit there and just take it. In fact, it didn’t even seem to have the capacity to heal itself from the countless injuries it was now sustaining. Yet notably, its fingers appeared to go unharmed, despite taking just as many hits there as it did else where. She then realized it was only able to heal its hands, leaving anywhere else just as vulnerable. Or so she thought.
The beast roared, unleashing a wave of vocal devastation powerful enough to send Erga flying. She shifted mid-flight, doing her best to assume her Shinetsu Ryuuka stance, which caused the phantom hands to develop kusarigama. The hands wrapped the chains around Erga, catching her before she had the chance to hit the ground once again and gently lowered her down gently. The chains faded and she looked on to see the black growths the beast had were expanding to cover its entire body in a rather sturdy looking armor. Just what manner of beast was this?
There wasn’t much time to ponder or investigate, the beast was already jumping back into the fray. This time it stood upright and towered over all of creation. It paced forward quickly and confidently, closing the gap between itself and Erga instantly. It opened a new assault with a powerful stomp which Erga managed to evade, but still wound up partially caught in the aftermath. Bits of upturned stone, turned to practically infinite amount of bullets ripped through the air and through Erga’s flesh. The blood practically exploded from her body as a result, but she managed to spare herself the worst of it by deflecting some of the shrapnel with Reijin and the phantom blades. She wasn’t out of the worst of it yet.
The beast swung down at her with each of its arms in tandem, swatting at her as if she were a fly. Mustering up a sizable portion of her strength, she lowered her stance, shifting her center of gravity closer to the ground and planted herself in defiance of the new onslaught. The first struck she managed to parry but her stance and posture were broken immediately. She noted that the beast want all that much stronger than her physically, but at the same time the difference in size and weight factored in quite heavily. The advantage was far from hers in this situation. Despite being in the losing side of this already dire situation, she successfully managed herself from being impaled by the palm spikes, even if just barely, but at the same time it was immensely difficult to keep herself planted. Each swipe knocked her off her feet and sent flying back a short distance, with the beast closing the gap at attacking again as soon as she regained her footing.
As it was, finding a moment to take her stance and regain enough initiative to attack was quickly appearing to be impossible. For the moment she opted to forego the power of her stance, conceding to the circumstances and the necessity to ease some of the pressure the behemoth was putting on her. With the spikes and claws getting dangerously close to ending her once and for all, landing a fair number of strikes that she just barely managed to keep from ripping into her vitals, she launched her counter strike.
“Ryuuka Suimei,” she roared as one of the palm spikes clipped her shoulder and tore off a portion of her flesh! The hakaze flowed viciously from her blade and gathered just above the behemoth’s head. With the beast’s next attack coming for her with added tenacity in response to her latest injury, she had hoped the attack would would be successful in interrupting the beast. As intended, the gather blades fell from the sky in a dense and heavy rain and crashed into the armored beast, but alas it was wholly unphased. They simply lacked the force behind them to pierce the beasts armor.
The beat’s next attack landed a bit more squarely which she again managed to narrowly avoid, but it came at the cost of being hit a little harder and knocked back a bit further than before. It was clear now that there wasn’t much else Erga was going to be able to do to it at this point. She couldn’t find much oportunity to get any solid hits in on any vital points amidst the constant string of attack, and even with the enhanced cutting ability her blade had she doubted it was going to get through that armor. Even if she could’ve it was likely that causing any lasting damage would be as difficult to make a reality as getting through that armor was. Fighting it alone wasn’t easy, but being armor up added a whole new layer of challenge she and Reijin wouldn’t be able to deal with. Not in this form, it was clear it had evolved well beyond the capabilities of her Shika. It was time to push things to their final stage.
Erga hit the ground, and slid to a halt. She was bloody, sweating and panting like a hot dog in the summer with no shade. This thing was a lot harder to deal with than she imagined. As it was, her powers were just barely passing for a Captain’s with this beats total strength clearly stepping out just a head of that. It wasn’t a vast leap but that among the other circumstances stacking up against her made it hard to keep pace. She was beginning to understand the limits of her power more intimately. She conceded to this reality.
“So it would seem that the limitations of this body in this state are becoming clear to me. So be it then, Bankai.... Tenka Reijin!”
The low smolder Erga’s Reiatsu had become expanded into a full blown inferno. The full depth of Erga’s ocean of power was able to be me made fully manifested as her Bankai awakened, but the event was short lived. The power condensed and solidified around her, becoming a set of Emperor’s robes as the spirit of the founding emperor Jimmu possessed her. With the awakening of this new power, Erga had become the avatar for the Emperor’s night. She then burst forward, closing the gap between herself and the massive beast almost instantaneously. The speed at which she moved, was impressive still, despite being nowhere near the fullest extent of what she was truly capable of. Erga appeared in front of the the massive beast, manifesting with a swish at its eye level, only to be swatted away with ease.
She rocketed backward, tearing through the sky and a myriad of ruining buildings at a speed far greater than the one she approached the beast beast. By the time it was all said and done, she had crash landed into the ground over a mile away from the point of impact. Just like that, this beast had proven its transformation was more than showy change of aesthetics. Not only was it even more capable of following Erga’s speed, it was also able to respond to it at a pace that exceeded her ability to detect it beforehand. It really was remarkable, even despite gaining full control of Emi’s body, understanding the full breadth of her power and more, it still amounted to nothing. All that power she wielded only to be so easily dismissed. It was infuriating, insulting, intriguing. For as human as Erga wasn’t, it was hard not to be intoxicated by the wealth of human emotions presenting themselves to her. Perhaps it was what Emi would’ve felt in this situation, or maybe these were Erga’s own feelings developing and being able to reach the surface.
It was hard to tell exactly who felt what, and as time went on it would be even harder tell why this even mattered to begin with. Clearly, there were more pressing matters. The first of which was the fact that Erga’s body was now bloodied and bruised my the impact. The whole of her being was riddled with debris and shrapnel from the multiple buildings she was blasted through. Clearly for as bad as it looked however, there was enough of her body left to take a bit more abuse but nothing more. She was brushing up against the upper limits of her, well everything. Another pummeling like that and she wouldn’t just be knocked unconscious, she would skip to the front of the expiration like and face a thoroughly expedited death.
It wasn’t over yet though. Until the bitter end Erga would stand against this beast with everything she had. However, the massive beast now standing over a mile away from here would have it otherwise. In the distance the behemoth began twisting its torso, curling it’s arms around itself to what should’ve been an impossible degree. The sounds bones popping out of their socket, and the crunches of them and it’s blackened shell cracking and bending in ways that were never intended turned the skies into a war zone. Each crack, snap, and pop was like a cannon being blasted ten times over, and it happened with such force and recoil that bits of the ground were violently disturbed in the process. Like threads winding around spindle, the monster kept twisting, and twisting, and twisting until it turned itself into a grotesque pinwheel of body horror and savagery.
The behemoth bent down, pointing the tops of its four heads in the direction it sent Erga flying off in, and a white orb formed. In the distance, she shuddered in response. This small bead of light was absolutely terrifying. Barely charged at all and it had more power than three of her combined. Hijacked body or not, Erga had never felt anything near as potentially devastating as whatever the hell this was about to be. Even in reliving all of Emi’s worst nightmares and harshest training exercises, she never faced something anywhere near as frightening. Her body hated it, her soul hated it, the world hated it.
The already loose fabrics of reality that struggled to hold this world together became undone with increasing rapidity as the beast solidified more and more of its power. As the sphere grew in size, strength and power, less of it became formed of the beast’s own strength. Before long, as if willed by a some kind of deified marionette, the many bodies of the dead tharrans littering the district dissolved into dust, releasing what lingering energies they posses and freeing it to joint the calamitous chorus. The orb grew once more, doubling in size as it did.
The sky shattered like glass, creating a massive portal into a somehow more chaotic hellscape. The smoke, dust, fire, and even some of the ruins were absorbed into the broken sky, swallowed and never to be the seen again. It was the end of ends, a disaster boasting a finality so absolute that the universe wouldn’t dare to exist following it. Or so it seemed. Whatever the beast was doing, it was not just accelerating the collapse of this already ruined dimension, it was exaggerating it exponentially.
It was time to end the end, or so the beast thought. Slowly at first, it allowed its twisted body to unwind. It’s blacked hands hit the dirt blowing it away repeated, as hand after to hand collided. Like a circular saw into a fresh plank of wood, more and more of the earth was blown away by the colliding hands and the massive tornado the spinning generated. In mere seconds the beast had created a canyon so deep that only its bust remained visible. One entrenched, all six of its armored hands slammed into the edge of the cliff, anchoring the behemoth to the ground as it tilted its head towards Erga.
It was then that it all became clear to her. What she had been fighting wasn’t a beast, but rather the world itself. This entity was a manifestation of the realm in response to her presence. It knew full well that she wasn’t supposed to be allowed to exist. Her very presence was a crime against the universe, and her return to death was punishment. This monster was the warden of this demise, a guardian and will of perhaps the Souls King himself. At least that’s how it seemed to behave.
It was prepared to destroyed this realm so long as it meant Erga would die alongside it. That of course begged the question, what was Erga? What was so wrong with her that things had to go to these lengths just to see her destroyed? Something was very, very wrong with this whole situation and any form of answers were lost to the world. This esoteric horror of histories long dead would mean the death of this world and for reasons no one was simply allowed to know at this time. It was time.
All sense of stability in the world eroded completely, and the rate at which it did so was alarming. Storms of all shapes and sizes began forming on top of each other. Blizzards, tornados, hurricanes, thunderstorms, hailstorm, torrential rains, all occurring simultaneously. Winds blew both forward and backwards, lightning struck sideways. Rain and fell, only to be lifted from the ground, suspended in space and then allowed to fall back to the ground again. As this reality crumbled, less and less of it made sense.
Light became dark, and dark became time. Time allowed past, present and future to exist concurrently in some places as the massive anomaly of power radiating from the behemoth began bending reality beyond comprehension. It was becoming even clearer to Erga what was happening. Kurohitsugi at its pinnacle was able to bend time and space with the sheer enormity of its power, this, thing being many times more powerful was able to produce similar but overblown effects when paired with the weak stability of the realm.
The beast fired, setting loose a beam so massive it seemed as if mountains would be dwarfed by it. The realm surrounding the beam was erased from existence, leaving a white space riddled with black grid lines which gave the impression that the world surrounding them was merely an architect’s drawing made real. As the beam traveled on its path towards Erga, more and more of the realm dissolved. More of the sky cracked open, more of earth was swallowed by said sky, more storms formed and raged on, while more of the world was stricken from reality.
The bloodied Erga stood, with sword in hand ready to face the apparent oblivion that awaited her. Half a mile out and she could feel it’s heat burning her flesh and everything else away. Erga knew what would happen if that thing touched her, but she made no attempts to run. For as dangerous as that blast was, it was no match for the power she now wielded. For what she was now, Erga was not only the pinnacle of Shinigami, but also possessed of the absolute pinnacle of Zanpakutou.
After the beam reached quarter mile, Erga tightened her grip around the blade and readied herself for the conclusion to the madness. ‘Jinpou: Bankai. Jinpou: Shinuchi,’ she whispered, causing the blade to glow with a massive power. She then swung the blade straight downwards, putting the full strength into the blade to release an enormous shockwave of power that stretched out in the form of a blade 60 meters past where she stood. Before hitting the ground the wave froze in mid air and radiated with a sinister power. It was at this point now that no harm would come to her.
In this form, Erga was able to combine the various powers of her Bankai with ease. Powers that shot the essence of the Shinigami and Zanpakutou to their absolute peak. With it, she’d see the end of this and live to tell about it. The blast hit the shockwave Erga left suspended in space and it was sundered in two immediately. Both halves of the beam were pushed apart from each other by 100 meters. It was if the gods had stepped in to part the ocean, and spare Erga it’s wrath. Of course this also meant there were twice as many forces undoing the world as there were before, but to Erga it didn’t matter. She was safe in the end, or so it appeared.
Despite being able to split the beam, she was only successful in splitting the forefront of the blast, leaving the rest to still push its way towards her. In only a few short moments it was upon her. The entire world at this point had morphed into light. Above her, beside here, nothing but the behemoth’s power left in gross abundance. Yet, once it reached 20 meters distance from her it stopped getting closer. She was still blasted away by the beam, but despite this, it’s power wasn’t able to get any closer than the fixed 20 meters it remained at.
This was the ultimate power of the Zanpakutou. Through the power of her Bankai, Erga was able to create distance between things. First by severing the blast, she created distance between the blast and itself. Simultaneously, though the power of Shinuchi she created an insurmountable distance between the blast and herself, effectively forming a barrier so absolute that the blast wouldn’t be able to touch her for the duration of its effect. This was partly why Emi was such a threat, and now with a being like Erga to wield it, this power was a far greater hazard than it would have been otherwise.
Not long after the beam faded, with Erga being carried to its natural conclusion. The results were an incompressible mess of white space, and an even more devastated city that was ravaged in the backlash of the beam. In the distance, stood the beast, blasted back a frightening 50 meters back from the recoil of the massive blast, despite having been entrenched in an canyon and anchored to the ground. Yet even that was only partially indicative of the kind of devastation wrought upon the land. In the distance the storms were literally melting away the realm, while at the two ends of where the beam the realm sat in a state of complete disrepair. Just like the skies above, the space where the beams ended had been cracked wide open, revealing a portal into a turbulent nonsensical blackness.
This was what the world was reduced to. The same kind of mess you’d find in a room after a child’s temper tantrum, albeit on a supernatural scale. And for what? All because a Shinigami couldn’t keep her emotions in check. An entire world torn to shit because an emotional wreck of a Shinigami couldn’t control herself, and summoned into herself an incomprehensible entity so reviled that the world itself saw it fit to destroy her at risk of tearing itself down along with her.
Erga stood, having grown tired of it all. The pain, the suffering, the weight of human emotions, the fighting. She had only one purpose in life and this overdone spectacle had delayed her that destiny overlong. But from where she stood the beast was nowhere in sight. It fact it was hard to tell how much further back she had been sent back. From the looks of it, the devastation seems to carry on for miles. She could make the journey back, but she was becoming exhausted. While this Bankai wasn’t yet near the end of it’s lifespan, it had become heavy to her.
Emi had only ever used her Bankai twice before, and even then back when it was far weaker it was weighty. But now the power it gave off it was so dense, Erga’s inexperience with it was somewhat of a setback. Nevertheless she found the strength to hobble her way back to where it all started. Using a combination of slapped together Shunpo and wounded sprinting, the distance between shrunk.
There they stood. The kindred spirits, the twin beasts of separate apocalypses reunited at last. Under different circumstances, they may have been a joyous occasion, but by now Erga was just tired. The Zygantre rose its arms as if to lash out at her again, but by the time it did Erga already had the jump on it. She swung her blade forward, unleashing another shockwave however now it wasn’t nearly as big. At first, it would come off as a sign of her weakening in response to this long battle but the opposite held true. Rather than spreading out the power of the swing, she concentrated into almost a singularity. The beast’s upper right arm hit it, and thereafter evaporated.
Normally Erga’s power was too far spread to make any meaningful impact against the beast. But now, given her Bankai’s ability to concentrate that power into small spaces, the amplification of power was devastating. Following the evisceration of the first arm, four more followed it, as a phantom force repeated Erga’s attack with the same level of immense tenacity she exhibited a split second before. She thing shifted her stance, stepping into her next attack as the beast stumbled backwards. As she brought down her blade once more, another consolidated shockwave of mass destruction was let loose from her blade. It collided with the beast’s front facing head, turning it to dust almost immediately, where there the other three followed suit. The finally, the phantom force with its last swing tore open a hole in the behemoth’s chest and sent it falling to the ground devoid of all life.
Erga had earned her first kill. Exhausted from the endeavor she fell to her knees. This first true battle was far more than she bargained for, leaving her in the sorry state she was in now. But it was over. The one and only real obstacle standing between her and the death of everything else was dead and gone.
Among the Royal Guard exists a certain myth. One relating to the very nature of the universe for good and fit ill. It is a tale of the three and only mistakes the Soul King ever made. Of course, whether these myths are remnants of a truth long lost, stories told among colleagues to pass the time and ease the pains of boredom, or a foretelling of a dark end waiting in a far flung future was unknowable. What could be known were the bits and pieces of the truth scattered throughout time and history.
In the beginning, at a time before time existed the ocean. It was vast, turbulent, and untamed. In it, existed the Soul King. He was young, naive, alone. Discontent with the state of existence he stilled the waters. From the stillness came the land, and on the land life and vibrancy was born. What was left of the ocean became a wellspring, provided a wealth of sustenance and prosperity to the land.
On this land the people and beasts that roamed it were believed to be the old gods. Denizens of an era when the residents of the Seventh’s lost ruins were born. In this time, death, disease, suffering did not exist. Therein the first of the Soul King’s mistakes were made. You see, the universe favored balance. The ocean, despite its violence was representative of a perfectly balanced universe. It was the chaos, the vast and unrestrained fount of discord. Standing opposite was the Soul King, the small, the still, the order amidst the storm.
In stilling the waters discord ceased to be, or so it seemed. Instead that disharmony was simply moved elsewhere and allowed to propagate into Antithesis. This was the universe’s first response to the Soul King’s meddling. By introducing good into the world, and equal and opposite force needed to exist in order to mirror it otherwise balance would be lost. This simply had to be.
Time went on and the Soul Kong’s and his consequences lived unaware of the detriment their existence was to the universe. With each passing day, the wellspring added new life to the universe already teeming with nothing but. Before long, the fabrics of reality came undone. The universe could not sustain endless and unabated life. The weight of every should was too much for the world to bear, crumbling was the only option it had. Recognizing this reality, and not willing to see the universe succumb this fate, the Soul King made his second mistake and did so with heavy heart.
Life was beautiful. Every shape and form it took was a masterpiece of infinite beauty unblemished by anything. Unfortunately this could not remain untainted. Mustering yo his power once more, he created a force. This force would randomly, but inevitably strip life from everything that roam as the lands, thus death and mortality were introduced into the world. Despite its morbid role, the Soul King loved this force just the same as he did everything else.
Time passed and the universe was spared destruction. For the citizens of this once long lasting utopia, it was hard to take in. Confusion, fear, and all other manner of negative emotion were allowed to propagate. It was a rough transition to make, but things settled eventually. However this force the Soul King created, drank deep of the wellspring and gained a mind and understanding of its own. It gained life, where life previously didn’t exist. A paradox of a being, both living and dead. As time went it’s mind developed, and the understanding of its role matured.
The being rationalized that death was inevitable. Everything had to die at some point, and to delay that was illogical. It concluded, the right thing to do would be to accelerate its activities and remove everything from the world of the living. The being swept through the universe, killing everything it encountered indiscriminately and expeditiously. Innumerable souls were wiped from the face of the universe, and again the fibers of existence came undone. The universe, just as it could not sustain endless life, could also not sustain unabated death. It seemed as if the universe would soon face the existential darkness it was always fated to suffer from. But again, the universe was brought back from the brink.
The Soul King was both saddened and afraid of what his creation had become. He tried to reason with it, but soon found his own life being threatened by its presence. The being’s mind was unwavering. The ultimate death of all things was necessary, and there was no stopping it. The Soul King, clearly believed otherwise. Once again mustering up his power, the Soul King banished the intelligence from the being and sent it to lay dormant for all eternity in the deepest trenches of the universe. Separated from its mind, the force remained as shapeless entity. This allowed death to persist, but in its more controlled state in doing so.
However at the same time, the state of the universe was in far worse shape than it was in before. It all seemed beyond repair.
The Soul King found a compromise. Divide the universe into realms of life and death. In the realm of the living, the world would experience a physical death, after which their essence would be transferred to a world beyond where it would be allowed to remain in a less dense state while also retaining some semblance of their living self. When the weight of souls in the afterlife became too great, they would be returned to the world of the living. With this cycle, the Soul King sealed up the wellspring, preventing new life from being created. Instead, life would be recycled. All beings would die, live, die, and live again.
In need of assistance in maintaining this steady flow of life and death, balancers were appointed from among the souls residing within the realms of the dead. They would oversee and ensure that the cycle continued, without letting the weight of souls in one realm or the other grow too much, else the state of the universe would be at risk. Of course, this process would be tainted. Souls facing death would hold grudges and become corrupt, and then prey upon those that remained. Death once again ran unchecked with the birth of hollow. Of course, what followed from there is known.
So what of the Soul King’s last mistake? Creating life, and death were bad enough, was else was there? Only some know of what happened, but it was said that the Soul King had a son. This son grew to hate his father and eventually killed him. As to how the universe remains in tact following this is knowledge not so easily shared. Of course, that is if any of this were somehow true.