Disclaimer: Bleach and all associated characters, settings, concepts, etc. within this story do not belong to me.
Summary: During the zanpakuto rebellion, some shinigami report seeing a strange lupine sword spirit amongst the rebels. At first, its appearance is dismissed as belonging to a lower ranked shinigami...until it accidentally knocks Kenpachi Zaraki through a wall and survives the backlash with no ill effects.
This wasn't exactly what Starrk expected when Muramasa showed up. The strange spirit's whispers about freedom and equality had put Starrk more in mind of peace talks and defensive rebellion; maybe running away for a few weeks to prove to the shinigami just how much they needed the services of their zanpakuto.
Not wanton destruction.
His mouth pulled down into a frown as two more renegade zanpakuto raced past him, hooting and hollering as they lashed out at the low-ranked shinigami running around in confusion and panic. One spirit was a black bull with red eyes, snorting fire from its nostrils and wielding a scimitar while the other was a blue scaled biped with snake-like features and a cat o' nine tails whip that was tipped with sharp hooks on the end of each tail.
Blood sprayed and voices screamed as the two creatures cackled maniacally and laid into the crowd.
Darkly, Starrk wondered if the spirits' shinigami were their targets.
That was something else that surprised him after manifesting; just how aggressive most of the zanpakuto were. Sure they were tired at being oppressed, but from what he'd gathered, the oppression was more from misunderstandings and accidental neglect, not deliberate maliciousness. The shinigami were still their other halves, and Starrk did not understand how they could even consider seriously harming or killing each other.
He would never hurt Lilynette, no matter what Muramasa said.
The destruction only lasted a moment, until the bull and snake became distracted and took off in the direction of Sogyoku Hill, most likely trying to get to their new leader. They left carnage in their wake. At least three of the shinigami were dead and four more were wounded. Two had run to get help (whether they would make it through the chaos or not was anyone's guess), leaving three to tend to the casualties. Now that they had stopped moving around, Starrk could see that none of their sword hilts matched the weapons their attackers had been wielding. He wasn't sure if that made it better or worse.
He kept his perch, watching the shinigami for almost ten minutes before one of them thought to look up.
The boy froze, eyes wide in fear at sight of the silent silhouette crouching on the roof of the building opposite them. Starrk could only imagine what the shinigami saw, but he didn't like causing such an expression on anyone's face. He frowned, and leaped down, landing lightly a few meters away from the small group.
They immediately drew their swords and stood to attention. Two of them jumped in front of their injured comrades, while the third moved to apprehend the newcomer.
Starrk shot him a supremely unimpressed look, flicking an ear in his direction.
"Do you really think you can take me?" He yawned. "You can't even use your swords."
For the first time, the shinigami seemed to notice his reiatsu signature.
"You…You're a zanpakuto!"
The wolf spirit shrugged casually.
Startled, Starrk finally directed his full attention to the boy. "Why what?"
"Why would you DO this? You're our swords! I thought…I mean…"
Starrk scowled. "You thought we were happy, being regarded as tools and objects?"
The three of them exchanged startled looks and, at the obvious confusion, Starrk lost whatever momentary aggression he'd managed to drum up. He sighed and scratched at his right ear with his claws. There wasn't anything these low-ranked shinigami could do about the situation, good or bad.
Before either of them could make another move, a new rash of explosions painted the sky red amongst the buildings under Sogyoku Hill. It seemed the captains' zanpakuto were acting out again.
Losing interest in the injured shinigami, Starrk jumped onto the nearest building in one easy leap, scaling roofs and walls until he was many streets away and had a better view of the situation.
While there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of zanpakuto spirits running loose due to Muramasa's actions, only those of the captains and lieutenants seemed to deserve personal attention. Unlike the zanpakuto of low ranked shinigami that were running amok in the outskirts in groups of one or two, the crowd of powerful spirits stayed mostly together. They were, Starrk reflected sourly, the captains club. None of them cared about their weaker low-ranked compatriots, despite what Muramasa said about equality. In fact, the spirit in question was standing on top of Sogyoku hill, arms spread wide as he laughed at the destruction being visited on Seireitei.
The wolf scowled and turned away. He might be strong enough to be a member of their little club, but he wasn't a high rank so he wouldn't be accepted. He wasn't any rank, since Lilynette was still in the academy. Not that he cared…
This whole situation was becoming fishier by the second. It might be better if he just returned to Lilynette and spent the next however long he was manifested in the gardens and parks outside of the academy. He doubted the lack of reprisal would last long (without a doubt, the shinigami would be hunting down zanapkuto spirits as soon as they managed to regroup) so he would savor the time he had.
With that in mind, he set off over the rooftops, making sure to avoid areas of violence and dissension on his way.
Author's Notes: This story has been in the works for a while. It was one of the top choices in my profile poll and received a pretty good reaction when I posted a preview in 'Howling at the Moon'. I decided to post a slightly modified version of that preview here because it's a better prediction of the story's overall tone then the actual first chapter. After this, the rest of the chapters will be sequential, starting at Starrk and Lilynette's 'death'.
I know this leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but that's part of its purpose. XD I promise everything will make sense, and fit into the zanpakuto arc storyline, later on.
I WILL clarify (because I've had multiple people ask, and it's not really a spoiler) that, at this point, Starrk has no idea Muramasa's ability includes a type of mind control, or that the captain and lieutenant class zanpakuto are together due to Muramasa's interference rather than choice.
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