Nanao finds it an intriguing concept, one that she has considered time and time again.
Many of her fellows see it as something purely physical, a mass of muscle or the ability to swing a sword and cut a chasm in the ground. They see it as the power to smash through walls and shed blood without a second thought. They see it as the might to exact a coup against Soul Society, defeating others with only a blink.
However, Nanao is different. She sees strength as something else. Nanao sees it as being smarter than everyone else. And she knows that strength isn’t everything. That even in the end, intelligence will be what wins the war.
She doesn’t have the strength of her own captain, not the huge stores of reiatsu or even the ability to stop zanpakutou with just her fingers. Nanao is better at kidoh, at strategy. She knows that if it came down to it, she couldn’t win a fist fight.
That doesn’t bother her. Not when she knows that she will always be smarter.
She sits and thinks about it. She watches those who others consider strong. Her own captain, who will always be a lush and a drunk. Watches Ukitake-taichou, who is full of power but is weakened by his own sickness. And Yamamoto-soutaichou’s ability, which is so powerful it’s ridiculous. So immense that he has no choice but to always fight alone lest he destroy his own allies.
She considers Soifon-taichou who never smiles because she believes that if she continues to train, continues to make her division as strong as she can, then her dearest one will come back to her. Soifon is not strong, but she is fast. She is sneaky. She will do whatever it takes.
Nanao thinks of Zaraki because the eleventh division captain is undoubtedly powerful in his own way. His reiatsu is like a wild force, a burning blaze completely out of control. It is consuming and breathtaking. Yet, the man doesn’t even know his zanpakutou’s name. He does nothing with his power but fight and has no purpose but the desire to battle against those stronger than he. She considers it a waste.
She draws it all out, in charts and graphs, measures and considers. She rates their strengths, slowly discerning one by one who may or may not be stronger. It is part of her personality, part of her will, to analyze and consider. She knows all their weaknesses, how quickly they could be taken down in an instant, despite their physical power.
Her own captain is easily distracted. He would never harm a woman. And if anything were to ever happen to Ukitake-taichou in battle, he would find himself faltering if only for a second. It would be the perfect time for an enemy to strike. Nanao knows this.
Ukitake’s illness is not his only weakness. He is often too kind and too merciful. It would be simple for an enemy he has allowed to live to stab him in the back. His honor will kill him one day, and all the power in the world will not be able to save him.
The soutaichou’s weakness is his age. It slows him down, makes him more susceptible to speed. He can easily be taken out by a sneak attack. And for all his power, he is vulnerable. He is forced to always fight alone and wouldn’t trust an ally at his back even if he were able to have one.
For each of the captains, she has cataloged their abilities. For each of the lieutenants, for the third-seats, for the fourth-seats, even for some of the fifth-seats. She knows their zanpakutou, their releases. She knows what kidoh they use, what skills they prefer. Their battle style.
She knows their power, knows all their weaknesses. How easy it would be to defeat all of them. And that, Nanao thinks, is the greatest strength of all.