A/N: I've always found the Hollows fascinating, especially when the Menos were first introduced, and the giant purple eye behind Aizen when he left Soul Society very much spoke to my imagination.
As such, I was a little disappointed when the normal Hollows were demoted to cannon fodder, and even the Arrancar (as awesome as the Espada were) were still subordinate to Aizen. This story is basically my way of turning them into a force to be recognized again.
While I'm not one to list out warnings for every little thing that could happen over the course of a story, please be aware that this is rated M for good reason.
Disclaimer: Bleach and all related characters are copyrighted material and belong to Tite Kubo. I do own all OC's, as well as any new techniques and locations that appear over the course of the story.
Part 1: Darkening Skies
Chapter 1: Survival Instinct
He'd lost sight of the enemy.
A particularly flashy explosion - the result of two powerful Ceros colliding head-on - had forced Grimmjow to shield his eyes for just an instant. In that fraction of a second, his adversary had vanished, and left Grimmjow frantically whirling around, heart hammering away in his chest as every obstacle within viewing range became a potential hiding spot.
Grimmjow wasn't foolish enough to believe that the powerful Hollow he was fighting had fled the battlefield. The incredibly potent Reiatsu still pressing down on him told him that much at least. That being said, the air was so saturated with it that it was impossible to pinpoint its source, and standing out in the open with no idea of his enemy's whereabouts was akin to suicide, so Grimmjow decided that his first order of business should be to relocate his target.
To that end, Grimmjow leaped up into the air and continued to climb until he had put considerable distance between himself and the ground. Blood and sweat alike dripped down his chin as he scanned the terrain. From his current vantage point high above the white desert he could easily see miles into the distance. Even so, Grimmjow had no more luck seeking the bastard out from up here than he had on the ground.
It had already been over an hour since the fight had started. 'One-sided' would be one way to describe the flow of the battle. To say that he was getting curb-stomped would be more accurate. The Sexta Espada was bruised and battered all over, yet he hadn't even been able to put so much as a scratch on his adversary's pale white, bony armor, despite Grimmjow having been in his released form the whole time.
He was just starting to descend again when it happened. The familiar low humming that accompanied a Sonido was the only warning he received. There wasn't any time to dodge.
The blow that followed was powerful enough to knock him clean out of the sky and sent him helplessly crashing back down into the white sands of Hueco Mundo. Upon impact, several of his ribs cracked audibly, making Grimmjow snarl in pain. In spite of the physical agony, he managed to force himself back up into a sitting position, trying his hardest to get some air back into his lungs. Staying in control of your breathing was challenging enough when you were being crushed by such overwhelming Reiatsu. Having five broken ribs didn't exactly make it any easier.
A large, blurry figure came into view, looming over him from the edge of the crater created by Grimmjow's rough landing. Accompanied by a flash of light, a familiar weight manifested in Grimmjow's hand. Almost disbelievingly, he looked at the Zanpakuto he was now holding.
There couldn't have been a worse time for his Resurrección to give out on him. Without it, he was as good as dead.
Knowing Grimmjow was vulnerable, the Hollow jumped down into the pit and mercilessly stomped on his chest with a clawed foot. The pristine white sand was stained by splotches of red as Grimmjow violently spit up blood. Some of the ribs he'd broken earlier had pierced his lungs, helped along by his assailant's foot.
"Son of a...", Grimmjow breathlessly wheezed in between coughs as more blood began to trickle into his lungs. Out of the many painful experiences he'd accumulated over the years, the sensation of having his lungs slowly fill up with his own, warm blood was easily among the worst of them.
As he stared up into the blank, unfocused eyes of the monster before him, a strange, unfamiliar sensation came over him. He could hear his own heartbeat pounding in his ears, even as an unnatural cold spread throughout his body. His already shallow breathing became erratic. His hands began shaking so uncontrollably he involuntarily let go of Pantera. The knowledge that his very existence would be wiped away any second now permeated every cell in his body.
For the first time in his life, Grimmjow was absolutely terrified.
A healthy dose of fear was an integral part of any life-or-death battle. The way Grimmjow had always seen it, fear was simply what prevented you from doing stupid things that got you killed. Never before had it caused him to feel so utterly helpless, to even lose control over his own body like this. He took solace in the fact that he hadn't pissed himself yet.
Even when it had looked like he was about to be killed by Nnoitra, he hadn't felt the slightest hint of fear. Sure, he'd been humiliated: first being shown mercy by his enemy and then being toyed with by Nnoitra like that. He'd been furious when he saw how much pleasure the freak got out of being able to end his life while Grimmjow could do nothing to resist. Anger had soon made way for surprise when a certain Shinigami stood between him and Nnoitra to block the deadly blow.
But fear? No. He even remembered wishing Nnoitra would just hurry up and get it over with.
This time though, there was no one around to save him. But that wasn't what frightened him. Grimmjow was sure of it; what he was feeling right now, this emotion... the creature pinning him to the ground was causing it. Somehow, its Reiatsu was affecting him on a far deeper level than Grimmjow had thought possible.
Aside from the raw, undiluted power the Hollow was emitting, the uncontrolled fury and hatred mixed in with it were almost tangible. This monstrosity was out for blood, and lots of it. And since Grimmjow's body just so happened to be the nearest container of said liquid...
He was brought back to the situation at hand by a bright, violet light that told him he was about to have his head blown off by a Cero if he didn't do something fast. Managing to pull himself back together, he quickly charged a Bala in response and fired it a mere instant before his opponent was able to unleash their own attack. The blast wasn't meant for doing damage though.
Grimmjow might have been reckless, stubborn and overconfident in his own abilities, but even then he wasn't stupid enough to think he stood a chance against an opponent like this, let alone that he would be able to kill it in one hit.
The bullet of red energy hit the creature in the wrist, barely doing any damage due to the armor covering every square inch of its body, but his attack had achieved the desired result: the force behind the Bala had caused his attacker's hand to move about two inches to the left just before the Cero was released, making it narrowly miss the Espada's head.
The resulting explosion was something he had been prepared for, but the impact it had on his broken body still forced a scream out of him. Both he and his adversary were sent flying, and Grimmjow just couldn't help the smirk tugging at his lips when he heard its startled cry of surprise.
That smirk quickly disappeared when he once again made a rough landing. This time he fell on a large, relatively flat slab of rock, making him cry out as the broken ribs were pushed even further into his internal organs. He twisted his broken body so that he could lie on his side. It was a little easier to breathe now that he had put some distance between himself and the monster.
Through sheer force of will, Grimmjow got to his feet once again, shakily trying to stand up using his sword as leverage. It was a good thing he'd managed to grab it in time. He groaned loudly because of the pain and bit out another curse as his legs gave out from under him. Panicked, he took a quick look at what the other Hollow was doing, and was surprised to discover it had barely moved. In fact, it seemed to be completely ignoring him in favor of checking out its slightly singed wrist.
There was a small gap in its armor, now. With almost childlike curiosity, the creature observed the mild burn caused by Grimmjow's Bala, as if trying to figure out how it had gotten there. White liquid bubbled up from the wound, covered the burnt area, and receded just as quickly as it had come, leaving behind smooth, unblemished skin. The feeling of satisfaction that had welled up inside of Grimmjow when he had finally done some damage, no matter how little it may have been, quickly reverted to annoyance.
Now that it's wrist was back to normal, the creature turned its attention to Grimmjow once again, apparently just now remembering he was even still there.
Grimmjow cursed again. He'd let himself get distracted, wasting precious seconds. As the thing easily got back up and started marching toward him, Grimmjow once again felt fear pooling in the pit of his stomach. The image of an orange-haired young man clad in black involuntarily flashed before his mind's eye.
"You tell me first! How can you attack a guy that can't even move!?"
That sentence had been seared into his brain. Every single day since his defeat at the hands of that young Soul Reaper, he had replayed that moment over and over again in his head.
In that instant, he made his decision. He tore at the air before him and opened a Garganta, making his executioner stop its movements. It tilted its head, as if wondering what its blue-haired punching bag was up to now.
Grimmjow was too busy to see this new development, as he was desperately dragging his body toward the darkness in front of him. It wasn't until he was already halfway in that it realized what he was doing and roared angrily as it tried to catch up to him.
By then it was already too late. The Garganta closed just as the tips of Grimmjow's toes crossed the border between Hueco Mundo and nothingness, completely blocking out the heavy Spiritual pressure. At least now he didn't feel like the sky itself was weighing down on him anymore.
He sheathed Pantera and allowed himself a brief respite before willing his body to start moving again. He knew that he had mere minutes of consciousness left. If he didn't find help soon, he would either die from losing too much blood, or choke to death when his lungs eventually gave out.
Since neither of those options seemed very appealing to Grimmjow, he kept going, focusing on keeping the platform of Reishi underneath him solid. It was the only thing keeping him from falling into the abyss below, and simply maintaining it was a herculean task in his current condition. The battle had drained him of nearly all of his Reiryoku. Trying to use any more would probably kill him.
After a mere three meters, he collapsed again. He was never going to make it like this. With great effort, he pushed himself back up on his hands and knees just as he got an idea. Carefully, he attempted to make the thin board separating him from the bottomless, swirling black void move forward. To his delighted surprise, it actually worked. He allowed a weak smile to tug at his lips. He'd been due to have a good idea sooner or later.
As he slowly drifted through the unending blackness, he couldn't help but feel like such a coward as the events replayed within his mind.
He always acted though, thought he was better and stronger than everyone else, but when faced by someone... no, rather something so much more powerful than he was, he had turned tail and ran. He chuckled darkly at his current predicament. "Ulquiorra should see me now..." he muttered self-deprecatingly.
He was alone with his thoughts for a while, until he noticed the glowing board of Spirit Energy beneath him slowing down, and looked up to see a slightly familiar building come into view as the air split apart once again. The sign above the main entrance read 'Kurosaki clinic'.
Well, that was good. A clinic was definitely something he could use right about now.
He pulled himself forward into the cold night air, the tear in space sealing shut behind him. Finally, he allowed himself to succumb to his injuries and collapsed on the ground. His cheek pressed against the cold, hard material of the road, but he didn't even care. He'd made it.
He flared his Reiatsu using the last of his energy, hoping that the teen would come to investigate. Then, he just waited for something to happen, barely clinging to consciousness and completely incapable of moving.
Unfortunately, it appeared that Lady Luck wasn't on his side today. A big black SUV with headlights that almost mockingly glared at him was quickly coming closer. The man at the wheel couldn't see him of course, but he would probably notice when his car's tires crushed Grimmjow's skull.
Grimmjow laughed at the sheer patheticness of the situation, louder this time. If he'd known that this was how it would end, he'd have just let that bastard blow his head off. At least he would have been able to die with some dignity.
The laughing became louder. The strong, proud warrior; the Sexta Espada, Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, lying in the middle of the road waiting to be run over by a fucking car.
He closed his eyes, a self-mocking smile still on his lips as he waited for his life to end.
Only it didn't. Unexpectedly, he felt himself getting picked up by strong arms, followed by a rush of wind as he was pulled along into a Flash Step. Shocked, he opened his eyes and found someone with brown eyes and ludicrously bright orange hair looking back at him.
"What are you doing he- oh shit... what the hell happened to you?!" The young man asked, sounding panicked. Grimmjow just kept staring into those eyes that had always looked at him with such defiance. Right now, they were filled with concern, or maybe it was pity? He wasn't really sure anymore, nor did he care all that much at the moment.
"Kuro...sa-..." He finally let go of consciousness and fell into blissful unawareness. He heard the young Soul Reaper's voice calling out to him as he allowed his body to go limp. He had made the right choice.
He was safe now.
A/N: Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Any and all feedback is very much appreciated; don't hesitate to let me know if you discover any spelling errors or other mistakes, either.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to tell me in a Review or PM. I'll be more than happy to answer - just don't forget that I can't reply to anonymous Reviews.