"Do you ever wonder what happened, Grimm?"
"No." The big man grunted as he labored beneath a rock. During his time in this shithole, he'd learned some very important facts about rocks. They only came in two sizes, too large to be carried comfortably and too small to be carried comfortably. Right now he was working on the too large. Ichigo had a basket of the too small, and he wasn't sure who was getting the better end of the deal. All he knew was that the entire package sucked.
"I wonder all the time. I almost remember their faces… their names… and then it all slips away from me." His orange haired buddy sounded so sad. Grimmjow desperately wanted to punch him in the face. Unfortunately, Mr. Rock had other plans. "Are they here too? Are they looking for me?"
"I don't give a shit. You need more rocks in your fucking basket if you can babble about lame ass shit." Grimmjow snarled as he finally got the rock into the pile. A bald guy looked it over before heaving it up and carrying it to the masons working on the wall. Ichigo dumped his basket in another pile. Grimmjow wasn't sure, but he thought those small rocks would be going towards mortar. That shit was for the masons, and right now he was wishing he was a fucking mason. It had to be easier than carrying the crap for them. "Give me that basket. You get a big one this time." Ichigo passed him over the basket.
"Don't complain to me when your hands start to bleed." He muttered, rubbing his hands against the fabric of his pants. Grimmjow just grunted. He didn't think that was going to happen. His skin was preternaturally hard, something his memory vaguely told him was 'hierro'.
His mind was full of vague memories and thoughts, but Grimmjow really didn't give a damn. As far as he was concerned, his life had begun two years ago. That was when something had happened. The bunny rabbit girl claimed that someone had tried to become Soul King – he had no idea what that was – and failed, but in failing had torn the three worlds apart. He'd asked her what in fuck the three worlds were, but she couldn't answer. She couldn't even remember her own name so who knew how reliable any of what she was spouting was?
Maybe it was true though. Maybe that's why no one could remember much beyond two years. Grimmjow knew he wasn't two years old, so sure as shit something had happened. All he had from before that were a few vague memories of his orange haired twit of a friend. They were so vague that he wasn't even sure the jackass had been a friend before, but it had just seemed to happen. Maybe it was because they were so glad to see anything familiar.
"Ichigo, Grimmjow!" Grimmjow looked up as bunny rabbit girl ran over. She was wearing a white and blue dress, her black hair slicked back and tied with ribbons. "I brought you lunch!" She had a plate of toasted grubs and early vegetables. That was the current crop and Grimmjow couldn't understand why some people were all squeamish about it. You ate what you could when you could, as far as he was concerned. And the farmers were picking the grubs off the real crops so why let the meat go to waste?
"It's that time already?" Ichigo glanced up at the sky and blinked. "I guess it is. Thanks Bunny." She smiled as she passed over the food. That was actually her name now, since all she really had was her love of bunny rabbits. Grimmjow couldn't even remember the last time he'd seen a real rabbit. They were like a myth or something.
Settling down in the shade, they ate and drank at a leisurely pace. The food didn't sit well if you bolted it, especially the frothy beer. It was some horrible concoction made out of fermented mushrooms and the only reason they drank it was the damn water was unsafe. Grimmjow shuddered to himself as he remembered what had happened to the last guy to try the water. Shitting yourself to death was a bad way to die.
"We need to get the wall up soon. Don't know how many nights like yesterday I can take." Ichigo said quietly and Grimmjow grunted. He'd actually had a ton of fun last night, but he had a taste for blood. And even for him, the carnage in the two houses that had gotten hit had been off putting.
The little town of Santa Maria was situated in a very good spot. It sat on the edge of a bay which fed into the ocean. The ocean was damned dangerous, teeming with freakish monsters that could and would bite a fishing boat in half. But the bay formed a natural protective barrier, since it went shallow just before dumping into the sea. Only fish, crustaceans and sea otters lived here. Even when the sea was being a bitch, the waves in the bay were limited. It was a fisherman's dream. Added to that was the oyster industry. At first, it had just been fishermen pillaging the wild oyster beds. But then someone had pointed out that the bay wasn't very large and unless they wanted to completely fuck it up, they had better portion out the bay bottom and start farming the damn things. That had gotten ugly for a while before Grimmjow, Ichigo and the rest of the armed forces had laid down the law and parcelled out the bottom.
The military ran Santa Maria. Not in everything, of course. There was a small court that handled all kinds of mundane shit. But when it came to the food supply and the shit that could kill them, the Division ran things. They called it the Eleventh, which made Grimmjow wonder what had happened to one through nine? No one knew. But the bald dude and the guy with the feathers had called it the Eleventh, and they'd been almost the first people here so the name had stuck.
Right now, absolutely everyone who could be spared was building a wall around the sea end of Santa Maria. Until recently, the sea had formed a barrier to any incursions. Unfortunately, the latest horrors to emerge from the forest could swim and they'd proved it by ripping two whole families to shreds before the Division could respond. Grimmjow watched as a cursing fisherman finally got his boat on rollers and with the help of a couple horses, began hauling the thing behind the burgeoning wall. Some of the fishermen were taking their chances on the beasts leaving the boats alone, but a lot of them weren't.
"I'm done. You ready?" He asked and Ichigo nodded. They left their plates sitting there – someone would clean them up – and went back to their labours. From the looks of it, the wall wouldn't be finished tonight. It was going to take days, which meant they would be pulling double duty patrolling the unfinished section at night. Just another fun day in the Eleventh.
"Grimmjow!" That was the feather dude. What was his name again? Yumichika, that was it. "Ichigo! You two need to go get some sleep."
"We've drawn second shift?" Grimmjow groaned at the thought. That was the worst. Yumichika nodded as Ichigo wiped a bit of sweat off his forehead. "Fuck. Fine. Where's Bunny?" She knew something called 'kido' and could put them both to sleep instantly. That was damned useful when things got all fucked up and insomnia was not an option.
"Over at the cantena, bringing out more food. The sleeping area is there too." He said and they both nodded. Yumichika took the basket from Grimmjow, muttering something about his nails. Grimmjow grinned. He'd never met a warrior as vain as Yumi before, but the bastard was a good fighter. He respected him for that.
It didn't take them long to get settled on the floor. Bunny bent over him, touching his forehead, and Grimmjow grunted as he felt the sleep steal over him. He hated this kind of sleep. It wasn't natural and his body knew it, trying to reject it. But it didn't work – it never worked – and he fell it like falling into a pit. It felt like no time passed before Bunny was over him again, breaking the spell.
"Ungh." He grunted as he pushed himself up, shaking off the lingering cobwebs as she went to work on Ichigo. The redhead groaned as he sat up, rubbing his head. Grimmjow offered him a hand and Ichigo took it, pulling himself to his feet.
For Grimmjow, the night was fun. For everyone else, it was a total nightmare. Several strong packs of the creatures swam through the waters of the bay, and the blue haired man fought them with a maniacal laugh. The monsters were covered in white bone and had golden eyes. They seemed vaguely familiar to him, but also not. There was something wrong about them. Shrugging it aside he decapitated one and glanced around for more opponents.
"Nice job Kurosaki." He congratulated his friend. Corpses were piled around him and Ichigo smiled at him as he eyed them consideringly. "I think I got one more than you, but I'm not sure." It was always a bit hard to tell. Ichigo's smile widened into a grin.
"So it's a competition? You're such a psycho." He said with a laugh and Grimmjow grinned before turning his attention back to the bay.
"You know it. But no time to flirt, there's more of them coming." Ichigo scowled then and looked back at the water. Sure enough, there was something bobbing in it and coming closer. Grimmjow's eyes widened as it slowly came out of the water, revealing its true shape. It was a bit hard to see in the dark but Grimmjow decided 'really big with tentacles on' was sufficient.
"Oh fuck." Reaching down to his belt he grabbed one of his grappling hooks. He'd found the contraption in the woods, abandoned and rusting, and had rehabilitated it and adopted it for his own. It was sort of a harness, with a metal thing that could shoot grappling hooks onto damn near anything. Along with his weak flying ability, he could pull off some amazing shit. Right now he used it to get onto the half-finished wall. He needed a better vantage point. There were screams and everyone with a distance weapon was lighting off. Yumichika was using his power, too, and dozens of beautiful blue vines tried to entrap the thing. It didn't work, not even remotely. The monster just roared and the vines exploded in sparks, overwhelmed by the force that had just been pushed through them.
"Lacerate!" Grimmjow snarled and clawed his hands into the air. Little darts of blue power shot from his fingertips, hitting the creature. It didn't even seem to notice. "Fuck you too dirtbag!" Using his grappling hooks and his flying to give him a little boost, Grimmjow flung himself into the air. He landed on the creature's back, trying to get a grip on the boney plates. They were slick with water so it was damned difficult.
It got worse as the creature realized he was there and completely freaked. Maybe it was just his weight or maybe it had a weak spot back there, he would never be sure. But it tilted alarmingly and Grimmjow's eyes went wide as he realized what it was about to do. He barely had time to scream before the monster flipped itself over, right back into the bay.
He went with it. The water closed over him and he just barely managed to avoid being crushed, but not being pinned. He struggled frantically, caught in some kind of hollow between the creature and the rocky bottom of the bay. Silt billowed into the air and the oyster frame crunched, sending bivalves to the murky depths where they would likely flourish.
I'm going to die here. Grimmjow's struggles intensified for a moment, but he didn't have much air. He'd wasted the one moment he could have got some on a scream. He used lacerate again and at this range the blue nails cut deep, but the thing didn't budge. His lungs screamed for air and Grimmjow couldn't stand it anymore. He had to breathe. He had to.
He couldn't. All that came was choking water, filling his stomach and giving him more misery as his lungs begged desperately for what they couldn't have. The pain gradually began to fade and his struggles eased as a strange lassitude came over him. Grimmjow knew he was going to die, he was well on his way, but he just couldn't care much anymore. Blue eyes blinked slowly and he suddenly registered the absence of pressure. Where had the monster gone? But his fading mind and body couldn't take advantage of the lack. He was floating away and he would never be back.
Feeling almost free, Grimmjow slipped away into darkness.