But that emptiness in the throne of heaven will be filled. From this day forth... I will be the one to stand in the heavens.
Aizen's kindness would seem too good to be true if not for how genuine the man is: there is never anything forced about him, never anything crude or artificial. Instead he offers help and does everything he can for people with such obvious pleasure one would feel that it was he who was being granted the favor instead of it being the other way around. His friendliness is unlike the sociability of many, who are all about establishing too many social connections without investing any real effort into strengthening bonds or making the relationships truly grow. Neither are his pleasant, ready smiles imbued with the false cheer of people who are happy only because the wind is blowing in their favor. No: there is nothing shallow about him, nothing unstable -- when he reaches out his hand to establish a friendship one can be sure that the connection will grow strong and true, and his smiles are rooted in the quiet strength of those who have weathered much suffering.
His mannerisms and speech adapt themselves to the needs of the situation with adroit ease, switching seamlessly from the layered intricacies of formal speech to the straightforward good humor of everyday conversation. More than anything, he gives the impression of being a soft-spoken scholar, true to his ideals to the last. No matter the time or place, he treats everyone, from lowly cabin boy to admiral of the fleet, with respect. His eyes are keen to see value in others and slow to find fault, though if he feels that the circumstance merits it he will be more than willing to offer a word of advice or guidance to the erring crewmate or stranger in need of counsel.
Although clearly an intelligent man -- one cannot think otherwise upon meeting that sober gaze -- he is exceedingly modest; his serious nature keeps him grounded and very much down-to-earth. Overall he is an ideal friend, counselor, or companion. Dependable, trustworthy, wise.
Of course, that is what he would like you to think.
Aizen is a consummate actor. There is nary a break in the facade of benevolence he presents the world. He does not really think of himself as an actor, though: the character of the mild-mannered, dreamy scholar he assumes is simply a means to an end, and -- as with all the other components of his plans -- one he executes as efficiently as possible. If befriending a needy child or comforting a weeping girl will place him closer to his goal, he will coax and wheedle and wipe away tears to the best of his considerable abilities. He is nothing if not a pragmatist.
The traits that characterize Aizen are two-fold: ambition and power. It is his ambition that has honed everything he is -- his intelligence and insight, his thoroughness, his gift for knowing exactly what is needed and calibrating all his responses to perfectly fit that need -- to a razor-sharp edge. The resolve that drives him is absolute: he will do everything that needs to be done to further his goals. He is not so much cruel as he is ruthless. There is nothing he will not sacrifice.
His power is what draws other people to him. There is mastery in everything Aizen does, a confident strength that others, similarly focused on power, find very seductive. Whatever field of knowledge or special skill is required in the furtherance of his goals, he will make sure to learn -- and not simply learn, but master, pushing himself to the very limits of what is currently known. A perfectionist of the highest order, he will not stop until he is satisfied, and he is satisfied by nothing less than the very best.
But despite all of these advantages, he will not act in haste: he will wait and watch for the perfect opportunity. He will lay his plans and traps and painstakingly piece together the tiniest bits of information to form a coherent whole. He will continue gathering allies and tools to him, slowly, subtly, surely. He can be patient.
Because unlike others who are satisfied with a modicum of power or an illusion of wealth, Aizen has a far, far grander vision. One that will remake the world.
Query the average person about Sousuke Aizen, and the most one can expect is a blank look. Even those who know him will have little of interest to say: he had a normal childhood in a normal family, the only child of a normal, if rather scholarly, couple. He studied in a military academy in his hometown of Melior, where he consistently achieved honors in scientific subjects but was otherwise an ordinary student. Upon graduation he enlisted in the military, rising through the ranks at a pace that was neither fast nor slow -- just average -- and enduring the deaths of his parents (they died within a year of each other, one of a heart attack and the other in an accidental fall) with stoic resignation. A superior, noticing his talent with technology and correctly surmising that such a quiet, mild-mannered young man could keep a secret, chose to assign him to an underground magitech research lab somewhere on the outskirts of Berum. A new project, very hush-hush. The military needed someone it could trust, someone untainted by the politics and double-dealing so rampant in the upper ranks, to keep an eye on the scientists and mages there.
Here is where the tale grows tangled.
The average person will still know nothing. Indeed, even many officers and personnel in the military will only be able to cite what is there on record. But perhaps there are some in the military and government, shadowy figures who believe in the creation of human weapons, the establishment of Ivona's military superiority at the cost of all ethics or safety, who will know more.
They might know, for instance, that as soon as Sousuke Aizen was assigned to the project, he threw himself not only into administering it, but also into the actual research, with such fervor and dedication that he rapidly ascended to the position of director of laboratory research and overall project head. This would have been noteworthy if not for the near-total secrecy that surrounded the project due to the sensitive nature of the work involved: it entailed magitech-driven experimentation on live human subjects. Questionable ethics and motivations notwithstanding, the project appeared to be doing quite well; progress advanced well ahead of schedule.
It should be noted that during this time Sousuke Aizen did not disappear from the military, as it was deemed by the originators of the project that removing him from his visible position as a capable, if low-ranking officer, would compromise the security of the project. Nothing significant happened during the course of Aizen's duties as an officer, in any case; he did, of course, meet a certain young man named Gin Ichimaru, and that certain young man did experience a meteoric rise through the rank, but no one thought anything of such unrelated events, particularly considering that Aizen and Ichimaru's connection was nothing more than the passing acquaintanceship, one rather mediocre officer (he was capable, truly, but he lacked ambition) to a rather gifted one. When the gifted officer retired from service the mediocre officer was among those who penned him the customary farewell -- and, later, the usual note of condolence -- but there was nothing else.
Certainly nothing to indicate the true depth of their relationship. In Gin, Aizen had discovered the first of his instruments, and a swift, sharp, and cunning blade at that. He saw in the young man's cruelty a capacity for greater things, a thirst for destruction that needed only to be harnessed. Gin's departure and the tragic death of his benefactor were both engineered by Aizen, subtle movements meant to place Gin in a position to allow Aizen to make full use of his talents. Few knew that it was Aizen who found Gin after that "magical accident" that destroyed sixteen men in a sudden unleashing of raw power. With the death of the officers involved in covering up that incident -- all carefully staggered over several years, of course, and all heroic deaths in the line of duty -- that number dwindled to two.
Research continued. There were a few disappointments, to be sure, and the usual setbacks -- such as the entire first phase of subjects somehow managing to escape, an occurrence the project head laughed off as a lamentable, but not irreparable, accident; they will die from lack of the proper chemicals within a week -- but overall research was proceeding at a very satisfactory pace. Aizen composed reports, conducted studies, developed and refined prototypes. Then one day a fire broke out in the facility's main power source and quickly spread to the built-in security systems, a blaze triggered by -- of all things -- the accidental discharge of a fuel catalyst into a chamber full of highly reactive gas. The laboratory director had been called to a meeting at Bellcius a mere two days before, but he hurried back to the laboratory as soon as he heard the news. It was all his staff could do to restrain him from running into the building and attempting to pry open the security-sealed doors. Such dedication. Then again, a man like Aizen, whose life was his research, could not be blamed for loving that laboratory above all else. When the fire was finally brought under control nothing but rubble remained of the facility; of the people and experimental setups, there were only ashes. Of the project head, only a broken man.
His military superiors were at a loss regarding what to do with him. They could not keep him in active service for fear of his becoming a liability to his unit, but at the same time wanted to hold on to the valuable asset that was his mind. Aizen was shuttled back and forth from administrative building to government institution until, growing increasingly desperate, the military invented an undercover mission for him, a job so insignificant as to almost resemble a demotion, fabricated a reason for him to ostensibly retire from service (it was easy, the man was a nervous wreck and he was all too eager to agree with their suggestion that he spend the rest of his life aboard airships, exploring the world and feeding them information about the airships' passengers) then shipped him off with an honorable discharge. It seemed like the perfect solution. Even though he had retired to pursue a life of scholarly leisure as a matter of public record, they still had their claws in Aizen if ever they needed him, and at the same time he was conveniently out of their way. The men behind the project spent some time thoroughly erasing all traces of the project's existence -- and then they started dying. Within one and a half years of the fire that never was, all the military and government officials who had even known about the project were dead or well on their way to it. (A majority of them were wiped out in that failed assassination attempt that was targeted at key members of Parliament but took out several vehicles in a military parade instead.)
A pity that all who could have spoken of Aizen's achievements -- the real successes, the triumphs that never made it to any sort of official record -- all cannot speak of them. If the project originators could have read Aizen's notes -- which, like everything connected to the project, ended up as a pile of black, smoking ashes -- they would have found out that the project had just achieved a breakthrough in the synthesis of human body with elemental id, knitting together spirit and flesh and imbuing certain individuals with powers and abilities beyond anything anyone had ever seen. The magic that governed such fusions and transformations was wild, raw, unpredictable; the first phase, whose subjects had escaped, yielded unstable results, difficult to harness or control. Aizen had found a way to stabilize the magic with technology, anchoring the magic's structure to the human form by means of very specialized implants and surgery. He had obtained successful results with several subjects; he called them the Arrancar, and when he deemed their number was complete -- well, there was no need for the facility anymore, was there? The whereabouts of most of the escaped Arrancar are unknown, though it is expected that Aizen will eventually call them all to him when he is ready to act.
As mentioned previously, if you ask a person on the street about Sousuke Aizen, you will get nothing but stupefied confusion an overwhelming majority of the time. Ask the right person -- or the wrong one -- about him, though, and you just might get something more: a slight widening of the eyes, a flash of pure, undiluted terror distorting otherwise ordinary features before the person with whom you are speaking twists violently away and flees as fast as his feet can take him.
Or you could end up as a mangled corpse in a gutter somewhere. There is always that.
Wouldn't you like to know?
Mindrape + Potential Interruptions : Ever the dutiful boatswain, Aizen drops by the hangar to renew an old connection and establish new ones.
BFL: The Second Coming : More harmless little interactions with the crew of the Silvana.
Amid strangers, heartened by light : A friendly chat between the Granter of Wishes and a self-styled destroyer of hope.
Time to Celebrate! : An Amicus celebration becomes a stepping stone to other things.
Exploring! : A little friendly chit-chat between Gin's fellow radio operator and Gin's... well.
Alternate Methods : A boatswain and a quartermaster at odds over repairs to the Silvana's deck.
Clouds, up on a hill : An assassin, a chessmaster, and a test of planes.
In the forests of the night : When one wields a well-made blade, its edge must always be kept sharp.
For questions, suggestions, or criticism, please feel free to contact the mun.
Some related fiction may be found at the mun's fic journal, under a community-only filter.
PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE: Very little. Was somehow involved in the military. No extant family members.
♠ Ivonian military Mediocre record; early retirement.
♠ High-level Ivonian military Early retirement caused by what was apparently an emotional/mental breakdown following the failure of a mission.
♠ High-level Ivonian military, after some leet hacking The mission involved a research project in the general vicinity of Berum.
♠ Underground crime Sousuke Aizen is treated with respect and given a wide berth by the powers that be. Attempting to dig up more information about him is highly discouraged.
♠ Mid-level underground crime If he contacts you, get whatever job it is done as soon as possible and get the hell out.
♠ High-level underground crime (e.g. crime lords and intelligence specialists) The man is a veritable font of information and seems to have contacts everywhere, but he is also dangerous. Though he rarely comes into contact with people directly it is certain that he is not to be crossed lightly. People who attempt to get in the way of his convoluted plots have a habit of dying -- usually by suicide or the most innocuous accidents imaginable. His goals and motives are unknown.
♠ Detectives and the like You will know what your contacts decide to tell you. Getting them to speak might be a problem, however.
POP CULTURE PHENOMENON?: No.