Alright, some typo correction from last chapter. Luppi=Decima, Iceringer=sexta.

Seeds of Rebellion (Devil Arrogance mix)

Ichigo glanced around the table, making no attempt to hide his unease or irritation at the arrival of the newcomers. Aside from himself, Neliel, Aaroniero, and Ulquiorra, all of the original espada were gone, demoted to privaron or declared to be numeros by Aizen.

"You mean this jerkoff's the primera?" Once more, an objection was voiced, though this insult came from the lanky espada with the spoon collar of a hood. He grinned toothily, enjoying the frustration etched into the face of the former primera. Ichigo snarled and reached for his blade.

"Yeah, and you're the fifth. You really wanna piss me off right now?"

Neliel gripped Ichigo's hand and somehow convinced her fellow espada to bite back an offensive comment. Ichigo muttered something and roughly shook her hand away, then stalked back toward his new customary place at Aizen's side, ignoring the glare this earned him from Ulquiorra.

"Now now Nnoitra." Aizen's reaitsu pierced the din of derisive chuckles and snorts, earning an abrupt silence as her featureless brown eyes locked on the quinto espada. "Kurosaki Ichigo has already demonstrated his strength in battle. I would...appreciate it if you did not insult him."

A few of the espada chuckled, the rest just smiled silently at Nnotira's embarassment.

Ichigo glanced at some of his new 'comrades'' in turn. Nnoitra, Grimmjow, Zommari, Szayel, Yammy. He found absolutely no reason to tolerate, or even consider accepting, let alone cooperating with these greenhorns, although he himself wasn't exactly their senior either, as Barragan was. Then again, Ichigo had next to zero respect for Barragan as well. He could barely tolerate Nel as it were, seeing as his position as the last original espada didn't grant him any favors.

"Now that everyone has had their tea, I would like to make an announcement. We have a new brother in arms." Drawn from his musings, Ichigo looked up, just as the sound of footfalls reached their ears, announcing that another arrancar had entered the room. He was a plain looking fellow, the only exceptional feature about him being the long ragged brown hair and the yellow sheathe and katana at his hip. His dull blue eyes surveyed the room once, followed by a yawn, immediately breaking the tension.

Aizen indicated the newcomer with a wave of her hand.

"This is Coyote Starrk. The newest member of the espada."

"Newest member?" Ichigo did not roll his eyes as before, instead they bored into this silent newcomer, who quietly returned the primera's smoldering stare. Everyone knew that the ranks were already filled, and the induction of another arrancar could only mean one thing. Someone was going to lose their rank, and the only way for an espada to lose his rank was through combat with another espada of equal power.

Meaning that someone, was about to die.

"And what might this 'newest member's' rank be?

Aizen took a slow sip of her tea, then deliberately turned toward Ichigo.

"Why, he is the new primera of course, Ichigo-kun."

A light wind suddenly cut into the windowless room blowing Stark's brown hair back and away from his face. A small smirk crossed his lips as he turned to look at the Shinigami who'd orchestrated this event. Ichigo snarled, baring pearly white teeth in outright disbelief.

"You...have got to be fuckin' kidding me."

"Is that so?" Stark asked lazily as he turned his head to inspect the smiling, ex-shinigami. "Sorry, Aizen, but I'm going to have to agree with the kid. I just woke up, and I'm really not up to that sort of thing-


The newcomer hadn't even taken his eyes off Ichigo for a second before the primera had attacked. Stark's head snapped back around to see the large cleaver slamming into the stone, a swathe of azure fire chasing the chasm forward. With a tired sigh, Stark released a cero from in front of his chest, the crimson blast shooting forward and causing Ichigo to abort his attack so that he could dodge. The cero demolished the west wall of the antechamber, the stone crumbling as Ichigo regained his footing and stepped forward to look at Stark once more.

The orange-haired Espada grinned, sent rocketing backwards and through the wall of the dark room, creating a large ray of artificial sunlight from the outside of the tower. Starrk buzzed out of sight once more, this time chasing his prey out through the open air of Las Noches' artificial desert.

The room was suddenly moving very quickly, each of the Espada that were sitting at the table now found themselves scrambling to exit the tower and reach the nearest balcony from which to watch the duel. Aizen appeared as though she was going to balk at this behavior, but they had obviously intended for this to be some sort of enjoyed spectacle; she couldn't exactly reprimand her Espada for wanting to witness the battle.

With nary a sound, she rose from her seat, unconcerned as a faint tremor shook the castle. When at last she had reached the balcony, the battle was already well under way, the two arrancar had apparently decided to forgo the formality of waiting for her and begin in earnest.

Ichigo, having already assumed his ressurrecion form, stood a few yards apart from Starrk, who, as of yet, hadn't bothered to release his zanpakutou. Neither combatant appeared to be willing to continue the fight, however, without allowing the other to make the next move, the next, fatal mistake. Such a stalemate was bound to last only so long as their patience, and it was apparent that neither possesed such a thing.

"And here I thought you had a little more poise than that," Stark scolded as he held his own katana up in a fighting stance. "Distracting me like that, then attacking when my back is turned? For shame, Kurosaki."

"Well, I'm so sorry to have upset you, espada." Ichigo said with an air of sarcasm that was as light as his grin. "But you see, I never really was a fan of long winded speeches."

"I see," Stark quipped before vanishing from sight, his body suddenly reappearing behind Ichigo's in a flash of white and black and silver, his katana slicing horizontally through the air. The primera ducked below the decapitating strike and spun with both arms outstretched, his massive tail spinning like a white whirlwind. Stark leapt backwards as the low-striking attack was executed, the black sash at his waist fluttering behind him just long enough to lose an inch off the tip.

The Espada quickly countered, leaping forward while slashing downwards with his yellow-handled sword. Ichigo dodged to the left and slashed inwards, his momentum carrying the deadly blade faster than Stark had anticipated. A small slice appeared along the side of the Primera's ribcage, the newly formed slit in his white jacket revealing a thin trickle of blood upon his skin. Stark looked down at it with indifference before turning his attention back to Ichigo. His fellow espada was grinning, apparently pleased by the injury he'd inflicted.

"Say, Starrk?" Ichigo replied, all playfulness now gone from his voice, replaced with his usual characteristic venom. "Any particular reason why you won't release your resurrección?"

Stark smirked darkly.

"There's a certain requirment."

"That's right."


Ichigo deftly rolled to the side, his blade filling Stark's peripheal vision. At the same time, his tail lashed out, curling around Starrk's katana and hurling it into the air an instant later

Stark blocked the strike with his right hand while simultaneously reaching up and catching his katana as it fell towards him. He brought his newly-armed left hand down immediately upon catching his zanpakuto, the Espada in front of him defenseless against the coming attack. Ichigo leapt back at the last second, the scimitar's edge slicing a thin cut into his chest, blood spilling out of it as he skidded back along his heel. He grimaced slightly as he opened his mouth to speak, but Stark beat him to it:


Ichigo didn't have time to react – the attack came from too short a distance. The red beam slammed against his chest and sent him spiraling backwards into the eastern wall of the piazza. His vision was dizzying slightly as he stopped moving and the heat of the cero dissipated from his body, but he was able to see the light blue sky above him as he struggled to get up. Stark was suddenly directly above him, his left arm outstretched and sword pointed directly at Ichigo's face, drawing blood as it pricked at the pale flesh of his throat.

"Game over, kid."

"Why haven't you released?" Ichigo questioned suddenly, the simplcity of his query causing Starrk to pause. What was this strange confidence that the boy exuded? Surely he didn't think that he still had a chance of winning? Was he truly that arrogant? Or perhaps, it was something else...

"You really should have...released." Ichigo drooped his head, as though he were sulking, but Starrk felt it, an almost imperceptible rise in the boy's reaitsu, a slow, but steady increase that worried him. "If you had released, then I'd feel a helluva lot better about using this in public."

Too late.

A hellish wave of reaitsu exploded from Ichigo's body, wrapping the arrancar in a bloody chrysalis of white and red from head to toe. Power began to materialize and envelop the Arrancar across from him, smothering his frustrated growl as his hair began to grow out into a long, ragged mane, his skin taking on a chalk white tone as the effects began to spread. A another wave of energy shot outwards at him, the dense blanket of reiatsu tore away, revealing a hellish and black demon.

"Good. I didn't get the chance to use this before, but now...

Starrk could only blink as he beheld the change. It, the creature, was barechested, but now his hollow hole could be seen, dead center in its chest as if his heatd had been blasted out his. He gave a small frown as he seemed to notice something was amiss here.

Kurosaki still had a mask, this one resembling more of a human skull, complete with a jaw joint and rounded forehead. From the back of the mask, four spike-shaped marks stretched, two of them stopping by the forehead, and the other two stretching past the eyes and teeth, going past his chin and joining with the marks on his chest. There were also small marks resembling a heart, the top and bottom open, extending from the inner corners of his eyes.

But the mask's most prominent features were two long forward-pointing horns with black strips extending from their center towards the tips. This new form, with that mask...He looked more like demon than any kind of hollow. Slowly, Ichigo rose to his feet, brandishing a thin black daito, in place of the massive cleaver he had wielded just moments ago. His burning golden gaze narrowed upon Starrk, then fell upon a smiling Aizen.

"Behold." Ichigo declared coldly. "Segunda Etapa!"

A/N: Why is Aizen smiling? Well, Aizen smiling...equals...BAD. As you'll find out in the next chapter.