3. Never Trust Strangers

"Where'd you think this Hueco Mundo could be, Grimm?" Erika asked, turning her head as if it could be just around the corner.

"I dunno, but it certainly ain't in this shithole. There's gotta be some special entrance or a portal…" Grimmjow blabbed a bit absent-mindedly. He was trying to picture what does the home of the Hollows look like. Something good for sure, he thought. Erika shivered.

"Hmm? What is it, Eri?" Grimmjow turned to her; she looked as if she was having a fever.

"I'm not so sure…Whether all this is a good idea…" she murmured under her breath. The ginger was having a headache, the worst one yet. She had a sinking feeling in her stomach.

"Eh? Come on, don't tell me that you've chickened out already!" Grimmjow scolded, making a small smile.

"No, never. It's just…I have a bad feeling" Erika replied. Her voice got weaker; the headache was throbbing her skull more and more.

"Is that the so-called 'woman's intuition'? To hell with that, save it for Hueco Mundo!" said Grimmjow carelessly, raising his chin. Erika didn't reply. She grasped her forehead, hoping that it'll get better soon. Something was troubling her indeed. Some strange, unusual energy. It's source was nearby, she could sense it, but she wasn't sure exactly where.

In the next second, she flinched.

"Grimm!"

"Huh?"

Erika pointed to their right, towards a near dead-ended street. From the shadows, a big, pitch black figure with a large white mask revealed itself. It was huge and walked on all four.

"So you noticed me, bravo!" the creature complimented with a wild grin. Its voice was terrifying and inhumane.

"What the fucking hell is that?!" Grimmjow exclaimed bluntly pointing his finger at the monster.

"Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?" it laughed in response. This angered the navy-haired man, and he wasn't hiding it at all.

"Well, I guess you're newbies, so I might as well introduce myself" the beast's tone was polite. Without a warning, it sprung back on its hind limbs and roared. Its roar was ear-trashing, and it made Erika's headache even worse. When the roar finally silenced, the black figure was on all fours again.

"I am a Hollow, Fishbone D is my name. And your souls look delicious, so I'll call you lunch!" the creature declared with sheer pleasure, licking its lips and coaxingly observing the duo.

Grimmjow's anger got replaced with surprise.

"Wait, what was that just now? You said you're a Hollow?" he questioned excited.

"Yes. I eat souls and pawn pathetic little spirits such as you two" said the Hollow joyfully. Erika and Grimmjow exchanged looks.

"Listen, we want to become Hollows too. Can you tell us how? Can you take us to Hueco Mundo?" Grimmjow couldn't fight his curiosity, so he kept asking questions, without being patient enough to wait for the answer.

The night-colored Hollow laughed. "You want to become Hollows? Now, I don't get to hear something like that every day," the Hollow cried out, "And what if I refused to tell you? And besides, don't you want to go to the precious Soul Society?"

The ginger let go off her head, and stared at her companion. He gave her a confident nod.

"Look," he turned back to the giant Hollow, "Fishbone or whatever…We've already had one of the Shinigamis tell us about that 'society', and he also mentioned Hollows and Hueco Mundo. We refused to go to that place because we'd rather spend our time gathering power and fighting, than sitting around and wasting time. We've made up our minds and vowed to become Vasto Lorde no matter what. We came this far and there's no turning back. So please, don't fuck around and help us!" Grimmjow's speech made the Hollow narrow his eyes. Erika's headache had vanished, and she had her glare fixated on the black stranger before them.

"My, my," the Hollow said somewhat absent-mindedly, "Been a bloody long time since I saw such a confident and battle-thirsty spirit. You surely have the guts for Hueco Mundo, kid. Dunno about your girl friend though…"

"Eri is brave too, don't get your ass worried for her" Grimmjow looked at Erika with a smile, and she made one in return. Fishbone D huffed.

"Psh, if you want to go to that damned desert that badly, it's fine by me. It's your life, screw it up how you think it's best" he said with obvious disapproval.

"Yeah yeah. Now shut your ass and lead us!" Grimmjow ordered, smoothly drawing his fingers through his hair. Erika gulped in expectation.

"Alright. One more thing: watch the language, kid. Nobody likes being sworn at, especially at Hueco Mundo, where you can easily piss off a tough guy and get your ass kicked or eaten. Just sayin' " murmured the Hollow in response. He turned around and retreated into the dead-ended street from which he came from, slightly adding "Follow me."

Grimmjow and Erika paced behind him, both ready for anything. Their journey for power was gonna be up pretty soon, and they were both very anxious to start.

The monster stopped.

"Right, I'll use the Garganta to open a passage to Hueco Mundo now. You can't come with me because you're both just simple spirits. I'll be back in a few with a couple of my friends, and we'll turn you into Hollows. Deal?" Fishbone spoke.

"Deal" Grimmjow nodded in agreement. In a second, a massive hole in the sky opened. Its inside was dark and blurry, filled with something that looked like dancing shadows. The Hollow jumped up and sprung right into the hole.

"Stay where you are, I'll be right back!" he shouted the second before the hole zipped up and disappeared, leaving a usual clear blue sky behind it.

The two friends were left by themselves yet again.

"This is it, Eri! Just a little longer, and we'll get a chance to kick some ass!" yelled Grimmjow encouragingly, and grinned. Erika tried her best to hide the fear that was eating her from the inside.

"That's great, Grimm" she responded. But the picture of the thing they just met remained alive in her mind; it was horrible and scary. And she wasn't sure whether they could trust it. She remembered how her mother told her to never trust or talk with strangers. The same headache from before had returned, along with the strange feeling in her abdomen.

But even if they wanted to, it was too late to do anything now. The hole in the sky, or rather, the Garganta, opened again, and it showed Fishbone D, accompanied by two other Hollows similar to himself. All three of them landed softly before the duo, cornering them.

"Ah, you're finally here! Come on, start already, make us powerful!" demanded Grimmjow. The Hollows exchanged glances; each of them grinned.

Suddenly, all three of the black beasts locked on Grimmjow. They menacingly stepped towards him, their noses aiming roughly at his chest, and their eyes illuminated by the mad craving to tear him apart. The navy-haired man watched them in surprise.

"What? What the hell are you...?" Fishbone cut into his unfinished question. "Did you really believe me when I said that I'd help you? You're so naïve, kid! Your soul is unique and unusually strong, and we mustn't let you go. By eating you, we will prosper, and eventually, evolve." Grimmjow bluntly stared at the night-colored trio, still not being able to cope with what was going on.

The chief Hollow seemed immensely entertained by this youngster's expression.

"There's no point in being powerful when you don't know how to use your brain. As I said when we met, kid," Fishbone lustily licked his lips, "You're not the sharpest knife in the drawer."

The Hollows were slowly diminishing the distance between them and Grimmjow and Erika; there was no place to hide or run. They were doomed for sure.

"Goodbye, kiddo"

"I won't let you!"

The ginger emerged in between the Hollows and her friend; she spread out her arms as wide as possible and shielded Grimmjow.

"Don't eat him! Take me instead!" she yelled, trying to sound serious, even though her voice was shaking and her lips were quivering. Fishbone laughed, and so did his companions.

"Your little soul is not as half as strong and delicious as his! You're not worth dealing with. Now move away and keep it down, and we might spare you" he said upon finishing his ugly screech of a laughter. Erika narrowed her dark green eyes, and gathering all the might she had left, she inferred "Only over my dead body."

"Tch, how annoying," said the Hollow to Fishbone's right. "Beat it, shorty!" he slammed the ginger on the cheek and she flew away, hitting the wall with her skull. Her forehead started bleeding and she coughed blood.

"Erika!" Grimmjow yelled with a somewhat frightened tone, and made a small step towards her, but the black menaces were so close now that they prevented him from moving any nearer.

Grimmjow faced the three Hollows by himself; the first to attack him was Fishbone. It was a direct fist punch, and Grimmjow easily dodged it, using the instinct his soul and spiritual energy gave him. He jumped into the air, over Fishbone's head, and kicked the Hollow on his left. The latter let out a loud scream of pain, and when Grimmjow dealt him another blow into the head, his mask had broken down and he had disappeared. Successfully dodging Fishbone's blunt kick again, he managed to assault the other Hollow, in the same way he did to the one beforehand. And then, their betrayer was left all alone.

Erika got up on her knees and watched the sight in awe.

"Just as I thought" D mumbled. He jumped up and a moment after, started landing with enormous speed, aiming to crush Grimmjow to death. But that wasn't happening with Grimmjow's speed and reflexes. The monster bumped right into the pavement underneath, and screamed in painful, mortal agony. The navy-haired man stepped on his chest; a gesture that indicated who's top dog. The moment he did, Fishbone started breathing heavily.

"Now, tell me how do I become a Hollow, or I'll cut off your fucking limbs and feed them to your corpse!" Grimmjow was highly furious. He hated that he had gotten betrayed and wanted to rip this black weirdo to shreds. Fishbone grinned.

"And what if I refuse again?" he inquired playfully. Grimmjow smirked; he stomped D's chest to which the Hollow reacted with coughing some blood.

"You have to destroy the Chain of Fate. Once you do, you'll lose your heart, and you'll be driven by hopeless longing to devour and eat other souls for the rest of eternity! That's what you want, right, kiddo?!" Fishbone yelled, spilling some more blood.

"Don't call me kiddo. I am Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, and I will rule Hueco Mundo and all the shit that lives there! Including asswipes like you!" the muscled man's sky-blue eyes shone. He moved his foot up to the Hollow's neck, attempting to break it and choke him. But D simply grinned.

"Curse you…May you have a tragic and pitiful life full of hardships, kiddo. I wish you that from the bottom of my heart." The Hollow snickered.

"But…I don't have a heart!" the beast pointed out. He opened his mouth wide and started shrieking hysterically. Grimmjow flinched. The Hollow's 'laugh' pierced his brain and made his senses useless. He was forced to release him and back away; in a second, the Hollow sprung up into the sky, and oddly, disappeared.

Erika ran straight to Grimmjow.

"Grimm, are you okay?!" she asked worriedly. Grimmjow sighed.

"That sick son of a bitch…" he mumbled annoyed, "But at least he told us how to become Hollows."

"Yes. Let's take a small rest, and then we'll destroy that…Chain" Erika glanced at her chest. The said Chain really was there. Hers had some signs of corrosion on it, while Grimmjow's was far more wrecked.