shikomizue: (pic#9306765)
all teeth, but not smiling ([personal profile] shikomizue) wrote in [personal profile] thenine 2016-12-06 06:54 am (UTC)

AU History:

Straw cracked under Shinsuke's feet as he weaved his way down a side-street. From sundown to sunrise, he'd wandered the town, lost in thought and watching the sky. A fall and a fight left him battered and bruised, a sorry sight among the glowing Leithan populace. His shirt hung off of his shoulder, torn and dirtied. His eyes felt as if they'd sunken deeper into his skull, and his eyelids ached to close.

As he slipped around throngs of people, he kept a wide breadth of the morning's market. It's din was loud, but the smell of fresh food was even more pervasive.

His stomach growled.

He'd missed the ample breakfast that would be strewn over his family's dining table. He'd missed the daily lessons in propriety and manners that would drone on and on as he ate. He'd missed having fingers clench his cheeks tightly, spit flying in his face along with the accusation that he'd rolled his eyes.

Hunger was a small price to pay.

His parents should have been grateful that he didn't go through the market. Coins clung with to his legs through his pockets - he had enough for some bread or dried meat. He could have sunken his teeth into a salty, tough meal while everyone watched the ragged kid with hushed whispers about his family's quality.

By the time Shinsuke reached the threshold of the Takasugi property, only to see his father waiting with crossed arms and a red face, he wished he'd taken that chewy bite.

Next time.

First born to a noble family on Leith, Takasugi had the potential for a life of luxury. But the comfortable seat of the upper class didn't suit him - he didn't want his life mapped out by someone else, and he didn't want to listen to men he couldn't respect. He got into fights, and his parents delivered swift and harsh punishment for his disgrace of the family's reputation.

He ran away from home with growing frequently, seeking out areas where he could sit and think, and welcoming any conflicts that came his way. In one such wandering, he met a boy and a man. The boy would become his best friend closest rival, and the man his beloved teacher.

Takasugi eventually left home for good, running away to meander through the J with his teacher and his companion. Eventually, they settled on the planet of Edo, where their teacher founded a school.

Shinsuke's brows knit together as he padded rice in between his palms. Sticky grains clung to his fingers, and he dropped the morsel with a frustrated huff. After plunging his hands into water with enough force to spill a small puddle around the bowl, he picked up his rice ball and went back to work.

Just when he'd perfected its shape, a loud, passionate, off-key song cut through the room. Cringing, Shinsuke pressed his hands together - the filling of the rice squished between his fingers. It was ruined.

"Oi! What the hell are you doing!?" His voice cracked as he shouted, anger reddening his cheeks.

The singing only got louder.

"You're terrible! Shut up!" As Shinsuke yelled his stomach growled, hunger compelling him to lick the mess of what was meant to be lunch from his hands. As he was cleaning one finger in his mouth, the singing stopped. The terrible voice's owner - a boy his age with messy white hair - entered the room wearing a dull look on his face. After one long look at Shinsuke, the boy took a handful of rice and sucked it off of his palm.

"Ew-!? What are you doing!" What do you mean he was just doing the same thing? That was only because you made him do it!

When their banter grew too loud and their tempers too hot, they'd both receive a blow to the head. Their mentor had arrived, delivering discipline with a smile that only grew. The impact had thrust both boys' faces into the rice in their hands. Takasugi yelled, and the other boy whined at the top of his lungs.

But the man's laughter was all he could hear.

They'd make lunch together next time.

After a few years, the Company developed an economic interest in Edo and came to broker an economic agreement with its government. Many of the citizens abhorred this change and rose up in rebellion. In the commotion, Takasugi's teacher was captured by the Company's forces. Unknown to Takasugi, their teacher had been a fugitive from the Company long before they'd met. Takasugi still doesn't know any details of this, and only has conjecture to go on to reach even such a vague conclusion.

The explosion was deafening. Takasugi's ears rang as he rolled onto his back, his hair smearing in dirt wet with blood as he tried to sit up. On his first attempt came a searing pain in his shoulder and he dropped back to the ground. His disorientation was only beginning to wane, but the strain told him he must have landed on it. On his second attempt he rose, his arm hanging, but his grip on his sword unfailing.

Takasugi's legs were weak - he hadn't eaten in three days. His stomach had long since stopped twisting, a hollow ache all that remained to remind him of his malnourishment. The last time he'd held food in his hand - a stale piece of bread - he'd given it to an ailing soldier.

With unsteady footing, he turned to survey what remained. Takasugi saw his men scattered, several of them taking their eyes off of their battles to turn to him for orders. More than one lost their lives for that uncertainty. Their commander had been blown to the ground, their ranks were split - but they were winning. A small group of men, laden with enemy supplies, made their retreat behind him. All they had to do was buy enough time for that escape, then fall back themselves. Takasugi raised his arm, bellowed a signal to retreat, and charged forward.

To those who had been with him long enough, the rush wouldn't be a strange sight. He covered the escapes of the wounded and slow, of the new men who knew fear better than they knew their own names. Next time, those men could be the ones doing the same for him.

Food, water, medicine - everything that kept men alive was scarce but for anger. With every death, the resolve of his men hardened. Every injury, every torched village, every captured enemy officer spitting in their faces gave his army more resolve than a pretty speech or uniforms ever could.

As Takasugi stepped over the corpses of three - two of his own and one of the enemy's - he added another to the pile with a swing of his sword that carried the weight of his body behind it. Dead enemy officers were equally invigorating.

Joining the rebellion in an attempt to reclaim his teacher, Takasugi spent several years at war. During this time he amassed a vitriolic following - called the 'Kiheitai' - of those who hated the Company, and when the war ended, he took a large portion of these like-minded rebels with him.

For Takasugi, the war concluded when his teacher was executed. He was witness to the public killing, and the failure shattered his hope for the future. At some point during the fighting, he lost his left eye, and he hasn't had it replaced. The injury serves as a reminder of everything he lost - both before and during the war.

The sound of sizzling food and bells ringing on the horizon was a familiar backdrop to lights that appeared dim in comparison with what was to come. A fireworks performance was scheduled to occur in just moments, and Takasugi had found the perfect spot.

People passed by, holding onto each other's sleeves to stay together as they rushed to a place where they could see the display in the sky. Takasugi stood still, looking up the path to a tent of reserved seats. Company shareholders sat and drank and erupted in laughter that was soon choked out by the crowd's final cheer before the show.

Then, silence. Takasugi exhaled, a small trail of smoke leaving his mouth as his chest tightened. A ravenous maw clenched its jaws around his rib cage, hungry for more. More bodies, more destruction, more death to feed its unending appetite.

An outburst of cries interrupted the drums that heralded the fireworks, and flame overtook the Company's tent. As men stumbled from its heat, bloodied by shrapnel or alight themselves, colors flashed brilliantly in the sky. Each flash of light illuminated the festival beautifully, not at all dulled by the glow of the flames beneath.

People passed by, holding on to each other's hands to stay together in the panicked crowd. Takasugi stood still, and felt the beast in his chest growling, chomping its fangs for another meal.

The fireworks would be beautiful next time too.

He never stopped fighting, contributing munitions and men to the rebellion at Sugar Point and any other like uprisings. Takasugi himself goes by the moniker 'Tani Umenosuke', to avoid the warrants that are surely out on his actual name. He's got all the forged paperwork he needs to keep this persona in the clear. 'Tani' is a poet, an esoteric figure who indulges in folk stories, base pleasures, and music more than he thinks about the world around him.

Smoke trailed from the slit between Takasugi's lips as he rested his hand idly on the handle of an ink brush. A parchment with two lines of verse sat at his feet, untouched for nearly an hour. Delicate, infrequent plucking of strings drifted into his quarters from the adjacent room - the music had halted his progress.

A bowl of rice and a plate of meat sat, uneaten, at his side. There was no time now to finish his work, nor to eat. In minutes he would need to rise and greet a guest. The ringleader of this particular circle of criminals was known to be an ugly and spiteful man - so diplomacy mandated that Takasugi meet him personally. Anything else would be an offence. Next time, he wouldn't bother to broker a deal with such an idiot.

Blackened fingertips pulled away from his paint brush, rubbing against one another before plucking the pipe from his mouth and setting it on the ashtray. As he stood, he felt his stomach protest in hunger. The sensation went ignored, along with his meal; Takasugi craved something else, and he'd devour whoever he needed to in order to taste it.

As for a source of income, Takasugi brokers deals and provides resources for several large illegal drug distributors. Currently, he is traveling between Leith and Westerly on a ship that functions as his 'home base'. He's looking for every opportunity to get involved, be it with rebellions, criminal organizations, politics, or the Company itself. He's out for revenge - not only on the Company, but on the 'rotten world' that allowed for the tragedies in his life. He's ready to burn everything to the ground, with no interest in rebuilding or improving anyone's lives.

Original History: don't you hear it too?


SIMPLE KATANA - modified with a special coating to withstand far greater impact than regular folded steel
KISERU - and a small satchel of flavored tobacco and sometimes an opiate the pipe's style is uncommon in the Quad, having originated on Edo

Samples: a forest fire about to flood over an empire

Miscellaneous Notes:

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