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Chapter Seventeen: The War Council of Clans:
A barrage of talk and shouted emanated from the room as the doors were pushed open by Yamamoto, revealing a round room with several platforms littered with seats filled by demons of every breed. The old man entered the room, followed by Byakuya; Renji; Yoruichi; Urahara; Stark and finally, Ichigo.
Byakuya and Renji ascended the section of platforms which housed the majority of the Incubus Clan while Yoruichi and Urahara joined their fellow Neko demons; Yamamoto lead Stark and Ichigo to the segment which seated their fellow Werewolves.
A sudden silence fell across the entire room as they sensed the mixed energy growing inside of the strawberry haired male who sat beside Stark and Yamamoto.
Ichigo kept his head down, not wanting to face the large number of demons that had undoubtedly already sensed the energies of the cubs he was carrying - both Stark and Aizen were powerful and as such, their heirs were powerful too, so powerful that already it had begun to show along with the slight bump he had concealed beneath his clothes.
He felt Stark's hand over his and looked at his brown haired lover, offering a small; shy smile to him before slowly lifting his head and looking at the congress of demons. He gulped.
Yamamoto stood up and addressed the assembly, "Aizen Sousuke is a known traitor, and he has betrayed his Clan and all of us. Furthermore he had dragged into this, an innocent young man from the Human World, who now carries his child." He began, gesturing to Ichigo, "The time has come where we must find a course of action, the Werewolf Clan has opted for all out war against him, and we have the backing of temporary Clan Leader Kuchiki Byakuya, and Clan Leader Shihouen Yoruichi on this matter. You have three choices: join us and end his evil before it swallows our world, remain neutral and refuse to get involved, or join him and fight against your own kin. This choice must be made, and it must be made soon. For that reason we are gathered here, to decide and take a relevant course of action."
Ichigo was overwhelmed by the boldness of the man's words; he was clearly a man of authority and a man who knew how best to handle a situation; he couldn't imagine for a moment another who could take his place. He cast a furtive glance at the many faces of the demons in the room, seeing many of them contorted with anger and many with confusion as they looked back at him; Stark squeezed his hand comfortingly and smiled at him, giving him strength.
"Although Aizen-san has been cast out as a rumoured 'traitor' what proof have we for any ill deeds he has committed?" a woman with a long length of braided black hair asked as she stood up, she had a kind face but her eyed were aged and wise; the braid in her hair was looped around the front of her body opposed to behind her head.
"Eye-witness testimonies, unexplained deaths, demons who have gone MIA, the Incubus cub growing inside of this young man, the attempted murder of Urahara Kisuke... Without a doubt Aizen is a terrible fiend who must be ended, we are as yet unsure what he plans to do however we can be certain that it will mean destruction for all of us. Unless we act now."
"And what of Aizen? Are we to kill him? Are we to be as ruthless as cruel as he has supposedly been?" the same woman asked.
"Unohana-san, what would you have us do? What response can there be to a man who brutally casts aside anyone who doesn't matter to him in the 'big picture'?"
The woman seemed to falter for a moment before she spoke again, "I do not believe that we can solve anything by becoming as barbaric as him." She said simply, "We should think of a diplomatic means of overcoming this."
Ichigo sighed inwardly before his eyes flicked to the right as Byakuya stood up, "Unohana-san," the raven haired demon began coolly, "Do you desire to parley with a man who has no remorse, no pity and no mercy? He would strike you down as soon as look at you. He has no desire to talk; he desires war; death; destruction... He desires to remake the world in his own image and destroy everything which does not conform."
"Nevertheless, we cannot progress without first offering the hand of friendship to him-"
"You wanna defend a man who murders innocent demons?!" Renji exclaimed and stood up, "He is a murderer! He is a mindless barbarian with desires on our home and our people! Rather than thinking of preserving HIM you should be thinking of protecting your CLAN!"
"I will not be addressed by the likes of you in such a manner Abarai. Sit down." The woman said icily.
"And you will not address my mate in such a manner," Byakuya rebuked, "Since I have taken the place as the Clan Leader and Renji as my Second in Command, he is in a position of power to discuss this matter, so you will offer him some respect."
Ichigo smirked slightly as Byakuya defended his lover and linked his fingers with Stark's.
Unohana visibly stiffened slightly and looked back at Yamamoto, "I have made my views and the views of my Clan clear, lest someone can convince us otherwise, we will not wage war on Aizen Sousuke."
Yamamoto nodded once, "Be seated." He rumbled before looking around the room, "And what of the rest of you? Do you agree that Aizen should be offered friendship?"
A buxom woman with long spice coloured hair stood up, a pink scarf wrapped around her shoulders as she flicked her hair over her shoulders, "Although the Succubus Clan was originally distraught at the loss of the Incubus Leader, we have listened to the facts, Aizen has committed a grave crime against us all... We will stand with you on this matter."
"Are you certain, Matsumoto?" the older man asked.
"We have no doubts in the matter, save for one."
Ichigo stiffened slightly and glanced at Stark, swallowing slightly as he looked back at the room.
"What of him?"
"Is he capable of bearing the heir of such a man?" the woman asked, concern in her tone.
Yamamoto nodded once, "He carries two cubs, one is Aizen's and the other's is Coyote Stark's; and Ichigo himself is no normal boy," he paused, "He is Isshin's son."
A rumble of talk erupted over the room in waves; a man with a length of white hair stood up slowly, "It seems to me that the person who Aizen has affected the most is Ichigo-san himself," his words causing silence to fall suddenly, "So why should he sit silently? Let us hear what he has to say, if he is willing?"
The young man in question faltered suddenly and he felt Stark tense beside him; casting a glance at his mate before he slowly got to his feet Ichigo swallowed back his anxiety.
He froze up for a moment as it appeared that every eye in the room turned on him and he almost sat back down. He shook the feeling off and hesitantly released Stark's hand and walked forwards as he inspected the many faces he could see; descending from the platforms as he stepped onto the flat ground in the middle of the room, where everyone and anyone could see him.
So many people...
"My name is Kurosaki Ichigo." He said, clearing his throat self-consciously as he looked around, taking a few moments to gather his courage, "And if you want to blame someone for what is happening around you now... Then you all need to take a long hard look in the mirror."
"What did you just say?!"
His words stirred the demons and sent them into an uproar, but he refused to back down now he had begun, "I said... You are the only ones to blame for what is happening!" his coffee brown eyes narrowed slightly, "You all saw what Aizen was doing! You all saw what he was becoming! And did any of you do anything to stop him?! NO!"
Silence fell suddenly.
"You sat back! You sat back and you let it continue without consideration for what it would mean! And now you sit there and you say you are going to stay neutral?! I mean... Who the fuck are you?!" he turned to the woman with the braid running down her chest, "You have the cheek to say Aizen should be given a chance? He had a chance! He had a chance to stop himself every single time he did something bad but he didn't! He carried on and he did those things!"
"I don't think it is your place to question such things child, you are more human than you are demon." The woman replied, her voice surprisingly calm.
He snorted, "Yeah... I'm half human, but I still find myself carrying these cubs... I still find myself stood in a war council... I still find myself in the centre of a political scandal that should have been stopped years ago!" he met her gaze with one of his own, "You do what you want, but when everyone else goes to war against him and you are left here wondering why he's killed your Clan you can blame yourself. Because it is all good for you to sit in here, with all your power and your confidence, but you don't know shit about what's going on right under your nose. Aizen is killing people! Aizen is destroying lives and if you let him... You are no better than he is."
He looked around at them, "I am... I am human; my mother was a simply human woman, my dad... I thought he was normal, a bit whacky but normal. Turns out he's a werewolf and I'm half demon; suddenly I'm pregnant and one of the cubs belongs to a nefarious traitor who has a major God complex." He paused and gritted his teeth, "And I want him brought to justice for it, I don't want him to get away with what he has been doing. And even if you won't help... I am going to make sure it happens. One-way-or-another." He growled, "Help me. Or abandon me. The choice is yours. But either way... I won't let these cubs come into a world tainted by him and his evil macerations. It's time to chose. Are you going to let one man dictate your futures with brutality and barbarianism or are you going to stand on your own two feet and take responsibility?"
Ichigo forced himself to fall silent and glared meaningfully around the room, he watched Stark move down to join him and relaxed as his mate's arm slipped around his shoulders comfortingly. He looked up at his brunet lover and smiled very weakly before looking back around at the room which had once again descended into talk.
Byakuya got to his feet, "Our minds have not changed, we are with you, and we will do our best to right the wrongs our former Leader wrought."
Yoruichi stood up as well, "Aizen's a bastard and he tried to kill Kisuke, I am ripping him a new one for that. We're with you."
"Sousuke-san has shown his true colours..." the white haired man who had requested Ichigo to speak stood up slowly, hunching slightly as he coughed into his hand, "For all it is worth, we vampires will assist you all we can."
"We're with you!" the buxom cinnamon haired woman called out, winking suggestively at Ichigo as she did so.
Ichigo's gaze slowly moved to the dark haired woman who's hair was braided and he shrugged off Stark's arm, walking forwards slowly as she called him over. He came to a stop in front of her seat and looked at her.
"What can you do against his 'tide of evil' young man?" she asked softly, too quietly for anyone else to hear.
He looked up at her and considered it for a moment, "Something. Nothing. Anything." He replied, "I don't know what powers I have, as a half demon, as the direct descendant of the Werewolves' Founder... But I know that I will do whatever it takes to make sure my cubs are safe from him and what he is capable of doing. Even if it kills me, I'll see them safe from half."
She seemed to observe him for a long moment before she took a breath, "Then... I will assist you. But only you, I will not answer to your Clan, Kurosaki Ichigo."
He smiled, "Understood, ma'am."