Kazuya crumpled to his knees, clutching his face in agony. Pain was no stranger to him, having lost an arm before, but this torment surpassed all previous experiences, even exceeding his initial death. Despite his Pain Resistance skill, he felt like screaming ceaselessly, and in fact, he was screaming, oblivious to his own cries.
"Kazuya!" Harribel reached out to him, but her words vanished into the chaos surrounding him. "KAZUYA!"
His Reiatsu began to surge, trembling the very ground they stood upon. It dwarfed Mila Rose's Reiatsu, despite the fact she could rival a weak Vasto Lorde's Reiatsu in her base Arrancar form.
A wave of Reiatsu erupted like a deafening sonic boom, hurling everyone beyond his reach.
Harribel struggled to her feet, Kazuya now no more than a violet speck in the distance. His Reiatsu had propelled her that far. She raced back towards him, only to falter moments later, clutching her head. Kazuya's Reiatsu permeated the air, bearing down on her soul with suffocating pressure, causing her head to pound.
It was as if gravity itself had intensified in the area surrounding him. The Reiatsu was different from anything she had ever felt. It wasn't just powerful or massive. It felt alien. The thick and heavy energy felt like something other than Reiatsu. But Harribel knew it was Reiatsu belonging to Kazuya.
'Wait for me. I'll be there.'
Determined and unyielding, Harribel pressed onward, her eyes locked on Kazuya.
Mila Rose, gripping her broadsword tightly, followed Harribel's lead, with the others a mere step behind, united in their commitment to aid Kazuya as he had once helped Mila Rose with her Arrancar transformation.
However, their progress was short-lived, halted after a dozen steps. Kazuya's Reiatsu bore down on them like an oppressive weight, sapping their willpower to the point they felt terrified of taking another step in his direction.
Apacci let out a strangled cry, her legs trembling under the relentless pressure. "W-What the hell is this? This Reiatsu is too much."
"This Reiatsu is different from his." Mila Rose, faring better than Apacci and Sung-Sun, discerned the unique property of the Reiatsu. "It's... sinister and cold."
"We can't go further," Sung-Sun whispered calmly as she moved back. "Let's retreat for now."
Apacci gave her a death glare. "I'm not going anywhere. I'll help him."
Sung-Sun hissed. "Don't you fucking give me that look. I want to help Kazuya as much as you. What the fuck can we do?"
Apacci recoiled, terrorized by Sung-Sun's furious eyes. Never before had the snake lost her composure, but the sight of her friend writhing in agony pushed her to the edge. She felt utterly powerless.
Reluctantly heeding Sung-Sun's words, Apacci and Mila Rose withdrew and regrouped with Cirucci.
She looked terrified of his Reiatsu far more than the three. "It's stronger than Baraggan."
Baraggan, having dwelled in Hueco Mundo for an unknown length of time, had amassed Reiryoku through innumerable battles. He was considered the Hollow with the most potent Reiatsu in Hueco Mundo. Yet, Kazuya, the young Hollow, displayed a Reiatsu that eclipsed even Baraggan's. The difference was staggering.
Cirucci realized that Kazuya's dream of slaying Baraggan would become reality. "If he survives…"
"Argh!" Apacci screamed out in frustration and stomped the ground. "What the hell do we do? We can't leave him be."
"What can we do?" Cyan Sung-Sun murmured, despair in her voice. "We have to trust Harribel-sama..."
Harribel hadn't stopped for a second, even if her pace looked shaky. Sung-Sun put her trust in her leader to save the day.
Mila Rose flung her Zanpakutō aside and tugged at her hair in despair. Though her Reiatsu might have neared Harribel's in her Resurrección form, she couldn't harness it after exhausting her Reiryoku during training. Even if she could assume her Resurrección form, she wouldn't have advanced farther than Harribel.
"Dammit. It's my fucking fault."
"It's not the time to blame yourself." Apacci gritted her teeth audibly, her fiery gaze on the cocoon in the distance. "Sung-Sun, you said you were smart and efficient. Think about something. Cirucci, stop standing there."
"What do you want me to do?!"
Panic gripped all four of them, each expressing it in their own way. Three genuinely cared for Kazuya's well-being, while the former Espada simply wanted him alive to fulfill his promise of revenge against Baraggan.
"I am doing my best—wait, it ended."
Their attention snapped to Kazuya's cocoon, which began to fracture, his Reiatsu gradually receding. They sprinted towards him with every ounce of speed they could muster.
Harribel, with her superior Sonído, reached him first, catching him before he could tumble from the cocoon. As she knelt on the ground, she tenderly pressed a hand against his face, unfazed by the viscous fluid that coated him.
Feeling his breath and the steady beat of his heart, she drew him into her embrace. "You scared me... I thought you wouldn't survive."
Holding him like this, she realized the depth of her affection for him. If he had died, she would have been consumed by madness.
"You're my family…"
Unconscious, Kazuya was unable to hear her gentle murmurs. Perhaps it was for the best, as he would likely have responded with something offensive or teasing.
"Harribel-sama, is he alright?" Apacci's voice trembled with urgency as she inquired. "Is he...?"
"Safe," Harribel replied, her voice a low murmur, oozing with fatigue. The oppressive Reiatsu had almost knocked her out. "Just unconscious."
"Mila Rose was so energetic after her thing," Apacci mused. "This guy does everything like an anomaly he is."
"I also can't become a human, either," Mila Rose retorted, rolling her eyes. She knelt beside Harribel, poking his face with a curious finger. A viscous, milky substance stuck to her fingertip, and she hesitantly tasted it. Grimacing, she spat onto the ground, desperate to get rid of its weird flavor. "Yuck, it's so salty."
Apacci stared at Mila Rose. "Don't taste everything you see."
Sung-Sun exhaled a sigh of relief, studying the changes that had occurred in Kazuya's body. Harribel's protective embrace obscured the full extent of his transformation, but as if sensing Sung-Sun's gaze, she tenderly lowered him onto the ground, allowing them to observe everything.
A collective gasp echoed from three Adjuchas. Even Harribel's eyes widened in awe. The most striking transformation was Kazuya's face, no longer hidden behind a mask. Instead, two imposing horns curved at the sides of his head, remnants of his once fearsome Hollow Mask.
Mila Rose patted his face. "Why does he look so fucking powerful in this form?"
Apacci nodded at Mila Rose's words. "Following this pattern, I will have a horn on my forehead, which will help me with Cero."
She could predict the direction of her Arrancar form after witnessing two Arrancar transformations.
Sung-Sun flicked her tongue, imagining all the possibilities. "I will keep the earrings. I like them. Do any of you see Kazuya's Zanpakutō?"
Mila Rose's eyes darted around, only to land on something utterly unexpected. "No way!"
"That's…" Cirucci's jaw hung open. "Blast. It can't be his Zanpakutō."
The group received another shock. They were truly speechless this time around.
"Let's leave before Hollows get curious." Harribel lifted him in his arms, finding him far more hefty than his form implied. "Rose, take his… Zanpakutō."
Harribel hesitatingly addressed 'it' as his Zanpakutō.
Mila Rose lifted the round object in the air like a prized trophy. "I can't wait for him to wake up. Hahaha!"
She couldn't help but grin, envisioning the sweet taste of revenge for all the teasing she'd endured, her laughter ringing out once more.
Cirucci felt a tug at her lips. Mila Rose's energy was infectious. She stepped forward and placed a hand on Harribel's shoulder. "Harribel, you're not in the best shape. Um, let me carry him."
It was a rare moment for Cirucci to offer assistance on her initiative. After seeing the party work things out, she had to offer something.
Mila Rose pointed at herself with her thumb. "Yo, let me. I got stronger arms than this petite lady."
"Who are you calling petite?" Cirucci frowned, missing her whip more than ever. "Brute."
Mila Rose's brow twitched. "You want a fight?"
"Stop this meaningless fight right this instant." Sung-Sun hissed. "Harribel-sama, do you need help?"
Harribel held Kazuya closer instead of separating from him like a mother clinging to her son. "I can do it."
The colossal surge of Reiatsu ensnared the attention of nearby Hollows, regardless of their strength. They could feel the spiritual presence of a terrifying being, compelling them to stay far away.
On the outskirts of a village alive with the chatter, a centaur-like Hollow stood guard. Her head swiveled to the north, her grip on her lance involuntarily tightening. The ancient Reiatsu sent shivers cascading down her spine.
She couldn't fathom the fate that had befallen the Hollows in closer proximity to the source of this ominous power. Could they have died?
Her hazel eyes flickered, narrowing into a razor-sharp focus."I have to investigate."
Hollow's Evolution 'Arrancar (First Form)' achieved.
Kazuya's eyes flickered open to a System prompt announcing his recent achievement.
'I'm alive… barely.'
He couldn't fathom what might have happened if he hadn't acquired the Pain Resistance skill. He surely wouldn't have made it out alive.
Feeling the familiar cool embrace of skin beneath him, he instantly recognized he was lying on Harribel's thighs. Fatigue weighed heavily on every muscle in his body, yet he couldn't help but smile, knowing the ever-devoted Harribel remained by his side.
'This obsessed mommy.'
"You're awake," Harribel noted, sensing the fluctuations in his Reiatsu. "You gave us all a scare."
With considerable effort, he sat up, rubbing his head as the world swirled around him. His Reiryoku had barely recuperated while he lay unconscious. "I didn't think I'd survive either. That was... extraordinary."
"It's all in the past. You're an Arrancar now."
"I guess I am."
He summoned his status and observed his model.
'What the fuck?!'
His Arrancar form portrayed him without a mask, but with the same distinctive horns curving on either side of his head. The most significant change, however, was in his attire. He donned a white ensemble that revealed a symbol on his chest — a black outline resembling a phoenix. (Check paragraph comment)
The Hollow holes on his legs had vanished, replaced by metal shackles encircling his wrists and ankles, trailing a remnant of chain. He appeared like a runaway prisoner.
'I ran away from Gramps so it makes sense? Like hell it does!'
He tried taking off the shackles but they were stuck fast. He clicked his tongue. "Harribel, where is my Zanpakutō? I can't feel it."
"It's here~. Feast your eyes on the strongest Zanpakutō in existence!"
As if waiting for an opportunity, Mila Rose rushed into the cave and thrust a football-sized egg into his hands. The egg's shell bore a pale violet hue, its surface mimicking the texture of Sung-Sun's scales. More importantly, the egg continuously released a small amount of Reiatsu akin to his own.
Harribel placed a hand on his shoulder. "This magically appeared at the place of your transformation. We believe it's your Zanpakutō."
Kazuya watched, speechless.
'I… I laid an egg. What the hell is happening?'
He knocked on the egg. "Anyone there? Is this like the case with Starkk…?"
Coyote Starkk's Zanpakutō had taken the form of another Hollow, Lilynette. But a Zanpakutō in the shape of an egg — that was an entirely unprecedented phenomenon.
'I see a phoenix mark on my chest. Will the egg give birth to a new me?'
He shuddered at the thought of another him running around the world, causing as much chaos as him if not more.
'Nah, it can't be another human. It has to be a creature.'
The events unfolding were even more bizarre than the fact he reincarnated in the world of Bleach. There must be a reason behind the egg being his Zanpakutō, one that would surely be revealed when the egg cracks.