THE ARRANCAR TEMPLATE
III. History» History: »» I Remember Not Being A Monster
Rodolfo was born under the name Rolf sometime before the 2000's. He doesn't remember very much of those times. He was born in America, somewhere that he remembers had winters cold enough to build snowforts, warm enough for summers playing in shorts and a t-shirt. He couldn't tell you the region in particular besides it.
When he was five, he started to see things. What he saw were various spirits. The dead. The shinigami. Others. He was finely aware of the dead and began to contact his parents to inform them of what he had witnessed. His parents, of course, were horrified to learn that their son had begun to notice these things that weren't there.
He was taken to a doctor at the age of six to be diagnosed. The doctor, who was as spiritually unaware as most humans, diagnosed him as having some kind of psychosis behavior. Perhaps even the dreaded schizophrenia of the time. That was the first night he could remember of his parents arguing about him.
As the years went on, his condition worsened as his early spiritual detection became more highly tuned. His father blamed his mother, and his mother blamed herself for this. She would later reveal to her child that she had always had herself some sixth sense, specifically that of one who could always tell when something was dangerous was about to happen, and then she would leave the area. Soon after, evidence of death would follow. Car accidents, sudden accidents, diseases. She never spoke of this to anyone, and now her son had developed something much worse than her strange coincidental twinges.
Even at his young age, Rolf understood and loved his mother for her kindness. Centuries later, when his parents were long dead, Rodolfo would look back on these times as peaceful despite the violence. He would always seek to be someone as kindhearted and understanding as his mother. He doesn't remember much of her to this day, and she has become an idealized role of how to treat the world around onesself.
Rolf heard arguments, even though his mother tried to keep them from him. Those were quiet, but happy times of his childhood. He spent his first decade under his mother's wing, and learning slowly how to keep his "hallucinations" intact. It still slipped through the cracks, and he was often bullied at school as the child that jumped and spoke to nothing.
Still, he paid them no heed. It was easy to do so. He had much better things to watch. »» I Remember Turning Cold
When he was 12, Rolf saw his first monster. Large, like a serpent, but with a bone-like mask and a hole in it. The creature's long tongue was flicking over his mother without her notice one day at the supermarket. Rolf forgot himself and began to shout at the monster, pulling his mother away. This caused a big scene, and although the monster was surprised enough not to attack, allowing Rolf to escape and save his mother, this was considered the last straw by his father.
Rolf was to go to the asylum. His mother tried to argue but there was only so much she could do to convince him in this time of america, where women needed to be at home and men needed to be the ruler of the household. Rolf would go to asylum and either be better or rot there. His family was luckily wealthy enough that money wasn't an issue. However, asylums of those days were quite poor even for the wealthy.
This place was not for children like him. He was often frightened there, trying to understand why he was being treated roughly even though he had done nothing wrong. Other patients were often angry or almost violent at him. Perhaps more frightening than that would be the patients who were sedated or lobotomized, with glassy stares that watched the world pass them by.
What's even worse, there were several demi-hollow in the asylum. This made him very concerned and he proceeded to argue and try and fight his doctors on it. While his treatment was supposedly deteriorating, he became the ire of several nursing staff at the facility. It was perhaps even worse that he was cognizant enough to be able to express his concerns about the demi-hollows he had seen. They were the first that he had witness and he, being a child ignorant of these creatures, terrified him to see these part monsters, part people.
This was unacceptable to the doctors and as he got older, he became more and more unruly as he realized that this treatment was unfair and that there was nothing wrong with him. His unruly behavior restricted visitor hours as a punishment, which only caused him to become more and more ornery at the medical staff at the facility.
At the age of 14, his parents consented to the doctor's suggestion to have him lobotomized to try and cure him of his illness. He was considered to be so serious a case, especially so young, that it was absolutely necessary for him to undergo the treatment. He wasn't informed of this, until he was being wheeled into the surgery room. At that point it was too light to fight or try to escape.
The surgery went wrong somewhere. He seemed to survive it, but the wound wouldn't close. And then it continued to refuse to close.The wound became red and infected. Although Rolf was now too lobotomized in order to respond, he understood something was dying in him.
The period of being lobotomized was quite interesting for Rolf. It is a memory that Rodolfo would think on often about what it means to have one's agency completely and utterly removed from a person. It also solidified his desire to never be considered a fool or otherwise mistreated ever again. He would watch other patients with the same glassy stare that he once received. His life had no real point or purpose anymore. He felt compliant, and without strong desire to resist anything done to him to try and treat his wounds.
The infection got in his blood. This spelled the end of his life. He began to spike a fever but his body had already lost the fight against the bacterial infection. None of the antibiotics or anything else the doctors did managed to cure him. His last moments were spent in delirium, listening to the roaring of demi-hollow over the muffled voices of people around him as the doctor spilled the bad news.
Within three days, he would be another demi-hollow of the facility.»» I Remember Hunger Beyond Imagination
Rodolfo, at first, had no memory of his human life. His first memory as a dead person was to watch his corpse, and of a strange chain attached to his body. Regardless, he felt a strong ferocity that he should stay here, and was able to resist at that point the attempts of shinigami to help him pass on.
He had died too violently and without quite enough closure that he refused to move into any sort of afterlife. He hid from any shinigami looking for him, and he found himself instead being chased by other hollow who found their latest, confused victim.
The hollow that got him was the very one he had tried to save his mother from. It wrapped its coils around his small body, crushing it and consuming his flesh along with the other hollow as he was dragged to hueco mundo.
As a hollow, his first movement was to head back to the earth to feed.
Back at the hospital, Rodolfo found plenty of people to tear our of their bodies and feast upon their souls. It was very easy to determine who wouldn't be missed. The tastiest ones, he found, were the ones who had already been plenty damaged by the drugs and the surgeries.
He spent several years here, until the asylum was shut down as the growing populace considered their existence unethical to the patients. As more and more patients moved to better hospitals with more adequate facilities, Rodolfo found himself growing more and more hungry.
This wouldn't do.
He traveled back to Hueco Mundo, seeking stronger prey.»» I Remember The Sands
The black and white deserts of the hollow world were quite different. Where in the asylum he was king, there was no such thing here. He ran into many hollow who were much stronger than him. It was a humbling moment. However, the ferocity in which he felt his hunger was so strong that he was capable of surprising and even overpowering several stronger hollow who thought he would be an easy meal.
With his starvation now to desperate levels, he had his first taste of hollow flesh. He found it far more satisfying than the human souls. He could feel the heady power and the taste of their blood. They were more substantial, although they didn't make him full. But they were better, much better, and Rodolfo decided he wouldn't go back anytime soon to the human world.
He began to attack other hollow, taking off chunks only when he could and running off with his mouthfuls. This was relatively easy at the time, for he was small and hard to notice. The hollow he were eating also weren't particularly powerful in the grand scheme of things. At the time, however, he found them delightful.
He learned to hide under rocks and what petrified trees were available. He ambushed those weaker than him and hid from those stronger. The more he consumed, the more he hungered, in an everlasting and almost distressing spiral into greediness and desire.
On the sands, he made a companion. Another lizard-like hollow like him, except without the wings he had. This hollow specialized in far-seeing abilities, able to predict the appearance of enemies by sensing their power from far away, and also aspects of them. They worked together very well, as he could run in with the knowledge that his injuries were dangerous to others, and she could direct him where to go for the most suitable prey.
The duo spent at least a decade like that. They snapped at each other often, as predatory animals do when put in teams to cooperate, and both respect each other's space. Despite being not inherently cooperative creatures, the two got along more or less fine in the fact that neither desired to really consume the other. At no point did either hollow try to attack the other one.
At some points they even were borderline affectionate, cleaning away bits of blood and gore from each other's masks and resting together after heavy meals.
Upon the sands whispered an organization by the name of Espada, the promise of new powers and a new kind of creature known as an arrancar. This was a heavy debate he had with his companion, especially so because she didn't particularly trust the idea of an arrancar. The shinigami have been their long-term enemies. Why would a hollow like them desire to have powers like a shinigami does?
His friend was very prideful in her identity as a hollow and refused to leave the sands of hueco mundo. On the other side, Rodolfo, who still mostly thought with his stomach, thought he would become stronger to get more food. His friend instead suggested that they move to the menos forest in order to gather more food in order to appease their appetites and also hide from this arrancar business.
Rodolfo agreed with this aspect, and began to move to the forest with his companion for more food.»» I Remember The Forest
In the menos forest, Rodolfo found a way to chew on other menos grande. He is capable of grabbing and nipping at the slow and beastly menos, gathering vast amounts of power this way. However, the forest exposed him to other, much more powerful hollows. His friend was able to determine the most unaware menos. Rodolfo made sure to always tear off enough so that they both had plenty to eat.
The two were quite the team. However, they both knew the time in which they would remain together seemed to be closing soon. His friend, he realized, wasn't growing in strength as quickly as him. She also realized this, and became more defensive of him as a result. They fought more. He worked harder to make her as strong as he was, unwilling to leave her behind.
At one point, she told him that she wasn't getting any stronger. He had known this possibly for months, but he refused to believe it. Rodolfo believed he could make her stronger, like him, and they would both continue working together to take on the whole of the menos forest as their territory. She pointed out they would both need to be vasto lorde better than any other in the forest, for the lorde were also attracted to the plentiful food.
He was confident that he could do it with her. But she merely refused. Instead, she proposed to him another way. Because she was reaching her limit as a gillian hollow, and he was on the cusp of becoming a menos grande, she should allow herself to be consumed by him and it would not only cause him to be a menos grande upon the next pile-up of feeding frenzied hollow, but also pave the way for him to become stronger than any other hollow in the menos.
Rodolfo hated the idea, but knew that she had a good point. He wasn't quite powerful enough to decide he had a solid shot at his own individuality as a menos grande. There was plenty of competition and while they were both gillians nearing the higher end of the food chain, themselves as separate hollow couldn't quite reach the strength needed.
But together, they could become something else. She added, as an afterthought, that they really could conquer the menos forest together then. Just as one person, instead of separate people. It drove him quite batty thinking that this is going to be done. The two fought over several weeks until he finally agreed.
She was delicious. She was absolutely delicious and Rodolfo hated himself, continues to hate himself to this day for enjoying her as much as he did. She made hardly a whimper as he ate her alive, leaving nothing but the mask behind. Even that crumpled to dust when there was no human face for it to cover.
The surge of power she gave him was like nothing he ever knew before. It was as if his power was doubled with her, and her closeness two him lended some of what she was towards him. He could begin to sense other hollow around him in such a way that he could determine the best plan of attack.
He could never quite understand why this happened with her and with no other hollow he had eaten. Perhaps it was because they had worked together for so long, and perhaps because they had shared so much. Food. Time. Philosophy. Personhood. They were already one before they were physically one.
His new senses drove him towards a pile of hollow in a feeding frenzy, and allowed him to analyze each one. Then, he leapt into the pile just as it began the transformation into a menos grande.
His period here as a menos grande were difficult to determine. He doesn't remember much. The other menos were only a little more mindless than he was at those times, struggling to retain his identity in a sea of other hollow struggling for the same thing. He remembered pasts that weren't his own, realized secrets that weren't his to keep, and nearly lost his sanity being stretched into so many different people at once. His spirit felt pregnant with them, and her understood now why the menos were so slow in their movement. He could barely lift his feet with the weight of all the creatures inside of him.
He won, but he won knowing intimately all the other identities he vanquished. This would be something that would haunt him forever, especially to know that it is in his very nature as a hollow to cannibalize his kin. It seemed to him then that his only purpose in the world is to snuff out other lives, subsume them into himself. He was a black hole for which all light was helpless drawn into and eliminated.
Rodolfo doesn't know how much time he spent as a menos grande. Perhaps it was a long time. The days blurred and it was very difficult for him to fight off all the other spirits within him.
It was a miracle that he came away unscathed as an adjucas. He remembers it like realizing something that was suddenly obvious as he fed on another menos's body. It was so easy without warning, that he could simply condense his form and melt away the fat that he didn't need from his body. Memories, personhoods, identities that weren't his could all be locked away somewhere deep inside of him.
As he concentrated on this locking away, it became easier and easier. The memories were increasingly easy to lock away as there became less and less of them to handle. Then, he remembers as clear as moonlight, looking up and realizing that the menos grande towered above him. Yet, even as they were so large to his personhood, they were insignificant to his strength. The distance in power was the distance of their height. He understood this innately, like a predator understands one's prey.
However, with this sudden clarity came other things. His mind was now polished crystal and he could see through his entire life and unlife. He could remember someone calling for Rolf to clean the dishes. Then, a house. The snow. He remembered his time at the asylum, and relived the trauma of it. And for the first time he could realize how much of a fool he was rendered in the last moment of his life.
From this, her understood regret to achieve the power he had now.
He couldn't think too hard on this now, for an adjucas hollow to lose his sense in the menos forest was dangerous. The vasto lorde lived here, and needed huge amounts of food, which the forest provided in spades. As an adjucas he would be especially tasty for the vasto lorde, and he couldn't risk it after going through so much just to end up on someone else's inner plate.
When he hid and had the opportunity to survey the forest without need of fighting off the other hollow within him, he noticed that the forest was much changed from the time he remembered it. There were more hollow, much more. He became an adjucas right during the time of the population boom of 2150-2200.
With more hollow meant more competition. There were other adjucas like him, as if all the powerful hollow in the area were converging to one area in a desperate attempt to gather enough food to fill their bodies.
The moment of clarity disappeared as he realized he still remained as hungry as ever before, perhaps even moreso. He began to leap into the fray, fighting strategically to ovetake adjucas more powerful than him. He used the powers leant from his hollow companion, and he used his own blood-borne capabilities. The flexibility allowed him to set up several traps with his rudimentary blood-manipulation abilities. Ones that immobilized adjucas fast as the wind. Ones that incapacitated many-limbed ones. So on and so forth. His keen eye and wit allowed him to survive during those difficult times.
He noticed he heard nothing of this Aizen fellow. Perhaps he had been locked away for too long. There was too much competition here. He couldn't remain much longer without risking being forced out himself. Something had to give.
During that time, he came upon his first vasto lorde. She was like a god among ants, gorging herself on even the most powerful adjucas. He found her stealing from one of his traps and found himself too utterly terrified to stop her. How could he ever have thought he could rival her in power?
Then she looked up, straight at him in his hiding place. Her gaze, one of absolute confidence in her own strength, observing him like a tasty morsel that is perhaps not even worth her effort to pursue, struck him like a knife to the heart. He realized then how weak he was compared to her power.
But he also understood he wanted to be like her. So he began to follow her back after she had stolen his kill, to wherever she lay between feedings. He began to bring food back to her resting place, over and over, with the same unmistakeable blood smears on still-alive, dying hollow to indicate his doing. This went on for several years, during which the the overpopulation became even more of a problem.
At one point, she encouraged him to come down. He shook his head, and she laughed and called him wise for his decision. She could see him even at his best hiding spots, and never quite pursued him despite how he was steadily growing stronger himself. She instead called out.
"Why don't you fetch some demons, or iramasha for me? Out there, in the human world. I'd ask for some shinigami, but they've stopped being exotic meat."
He realized he didn't understand what those species were, and spoke back using a voice harsh with unuse. "...I do not know them."
And so she taught him the world outside of hueco mundo, in exchange for food offerings. This was before the time of domes, and food was plentiful. He was just one of the many in the population explosion of demons and hollow on the Earth.
She taught him of the world before even he was born, when she was a menos grande. The quincies and their tender, delicious meat and the danger of erasure. Then, the loss of the quincy race and their comparative rareness in modern day. She explained to him
the arrancar, the demons, aizen and the espada. The demons, the iramasha. Everything.
However, much of this knowledge came out of Rodolfo's conscience. Every time he went to the Earth to hunt for suitable prey for his own gnawing hunger and also the vasto lorde he served, he found increasing levels of destruction. Cities were decimated by these horrible entities known as arrancar, killing everything without care for innocence or guilt. He didn't stop anyone. He simply wasn't strong enough. And this made him feel terrible.
He eventually began to discuss his morality with the vasto lorde, who couldn't quite agree. However, with a long discussion, she was at least capable of admitting that the lives of hollow revolved around this sort of terrible violence. To her, they were as normal as air. In fairness, this kind of senseless violence had become normalized to Rodolfo as well. But he knew that there was better. There must be something better than the constant need to feed and consume and grow.
This was how he lived for at least another decade. So long as he brought her more food than he was worth, she would talk to him from wherever he hid as she feasted on the bodies. Their conversations always had an air of tension. Her gaze never wavered from her hunger. Rodolfo felt worse and worse with every kill. The vasto lorde he had come to serve began to demand more and more specific things, which he carried out dutifully to the letter. This gave him a sense of fulfilment that he didn't have before, even if it was being used like this. It felt good to have some routine and organization in his life, he found. Rodolfo would crave this kind of structure in his life for as long as he lived. It was much better than getting up and hunting whenever he was hungry, and having nothing else to do.
Rodolfo never knew her name, but then again, neither did she ever ask for his. This was nothing different than the hollow she had met on the sands. A working relationship was a working relationship and, so long as she didn't eat him, he was pretty okay with their interactions. Besides, she often didn't mind that he also took a bite sometimes for his own power. She seemed more interested in maintaining the power she already had than to boost it.
He never bothered asking, simply because chances were that she would kill him for it. As far as he knew, he was the only one giving her food in this manner.
Eventually, the humans began to develop their own defenses. It was more and more dangerous as the humans developed their dome technology to keep away the hollow and demons. Even the demons wised up to the antics of other hungry hollow. Rodolfo began returning with failed hunts, each time worried for his life. In truth, he was rather grateful that the Earth populace had learned to defend themselves at last. The thought of watching another city be decimated by some strong demon, hollow, or arrancar made his innards twist- and not in ways his powers had done. Strangely enough, she never bothered to lash out at him. Perhaps he wasn't worth the meal, as he would probably fight back at least a little bit. Combat was energy, and she would rather conserve everything.
Once the domes were completely established, Rodolfo could no longer enter without risking his life in a very serious way. By the time he came back with the conclusion that indeed the vast majority of humans had all hidden in the domes, the vasto lorde he had served faithfully was exiting the forest, leaving to the sands. He asked here where she was going, for she rarely moved anywhere, much less moved out of the forest.
The woman told her that an arrancar newly named Ashlei Mischevang had taken on the role of Cero Espada and planned to completely remove all of Aizen's influence on the Espada organization. In other words, the Espada would be completely run by hollow and be organized for the hollow's best interests as a whole. She wanted to join them, wagering that her power level would be strong enough to receive a high rank.
At this point, Rodolfo's abilities from constant hunting for not one, but two hollow for so long had sharpened, and the constant need to gather more and more prey had given him a significant motivation towards successful hunts. In short, he had become much more powerful serving under her. He realized then that the way he had postured all this time hadn't wavered and so she had no real reason to believe that he was significantly more powerful than he was when they first met.
Perhaps he could join the arrancar himself and rival his mentor. However, the idea also made him feel significant revulsion. After all, he didn't want to hurt any more innocents, and he was skeptical that a new espada would change from the mindless violence of before. Still. It was becoming increasingly obvious to him that he should join an organization, if only for self protection, and also because he risked losing what little structure he currently had.
Even if he was at this point a very powerful adjucas, being alone again in this environment was never a good thing. She never offered him to follow, but he followed regardless.»» I Remember My Reflection
The long walk to the the home of the Espada gave Rodolfo and the vasto lorde much to talk about, and also gave Rodolfo ample time to observe her and him. Her power was waning- had been waning for quite some time now despite all of his attempts to feed her. In opposite, Rodolfo's power was increasing ever more. She was on the cusp of losing her position and becoming an adjucas like him again.
Clearly, she was not traveling out of some will or some sudden pride in her hollow-hood. This was a last ditch effort in order to consolidate her power before it bleeds from her entirely. Perhaps she had grown old and her time was coming. Perhaps she was becoming more and more unstable as she gained food, and now her food requirements were such that she could no longer maintain them by any means.
In other words, he might have a chance to fight her.
"You cannot go on for much longer," he observed.
She turned to him. "I can. With a bit of help."
She must've detected something was off. The next thing he knew, she was suddenly in front of him, as fast as the wind, as quiet as shadow. He ducked instinctively and felt her claws tear down his back, releasing his blood into the air and initiating the fight.
The battle was no more different than another fighting of the beasts on the sands of hueco mundo. It was brutal and bloody and messy, with no holds barred and no idea of honor. Their working relationship was torn asunder the moment her claw touched his back. His blood stabbed into her body, and her poisonous, venomous toxins ran through his veins.
This went on for hours, perhaps even days. Other hollow came to watch, drawn by the large clouds of sand kicked up by their intense fighting. If this continued for much longer, it is possible that the victor would be so weak that they wouldn't be able to fight off those that came to scavenge. Both knew this and yet, so caught in their own battle, neither was willing to back down.
This was a fight to the death, a sudden and violent end to the tense peace they had over the last few decades.
The vasto lorde's strength was finally waning. Her technique, release vast clouds of poison and hoping she could outlast her enemy, wasn't working for Rodolfo. His regeneration was much too fast, and she was taking on too much of her own toxin from the open wounds he inflicted onto her.
The poison clouds were at least strong enough to force the other hollow away. She finally collapsed, too sick from her own poisons that she would surely die. He approached her, and hungrily ripped off her arm for his own consumption, ignoring her screams of pain and pleads for mercy. His bestial instincts had overtaken him in the moment and he could not resist the opportunity for the meal after the fight had taken so much from his reserves.
The transformation into a vasto lorde made him more powerful than he ever could have imagined, himself. It was agony. His entire growth as a hollow had focused around pain and injury as his greatest weapon, and now his transformation as a vasto lorde only enhanced it.
When he came to, she was still alive, if only just. He fell to his knees at her dying body. "Why does it have to be this way?" he asked. "Why must we be so defined by brutality?"
She had no answer for him, except to reach his mask, dripping wet with his tears.
He saw her hand reach for his mask, and then he felt a terrible pain afterwards. The sound of a mask being torn from the body is something completely agonizing, like the snapping of wet wood, like the ripping of fabric. He had not even a moment to shout in pain, for his vocal cords and the rest of his body was transforming.
Somewhere in this initial shift, Rodolfo remembered a time where his first partner asked him why anyone would give up who they are to become a facsimile of the humanity they had thrown away. He had no answer then, but he had some answer now as he felt his power surge through him once more, condense.
The pain dulled down, and then disappeared altogether, like a siphon from his body. The agony condensed into a controllable, concentrated form. He was smaller. He had two arms and legs, and the weight of his mask slung over his chest, light and lifeless. He was healthy, and he was strong, and he had lost everything again.
He buried her, deep in the sands, where her body would be touched by no one. Then he turned to the Espada's army. »» I Remember My Crimes
Rodolfo joined the Espada's organization, purposefully keeping his powers as hidden as possible. His explanation to the organization was a mixture of truth and lies. His arrancar form was from a fight, yes, but he didn't say with who or why. He supposedly had lived alone in the menos forest and was forced out when the competition became too fierce.
He kept himself from their leadership ranks intentionally with his lies and with his hiding. Instead, he posited himself as useless for fighting and instead much better at diagnostics with blood. This put him in a prime position to sit and listen and absorb, but not quite in the throes of battle, and kept him from hurting anyone. It helped that this Ashlei focused exclusively on filling her leaders with people she knows and trusts implicitly. Perhaps it is the first time where being a stranger has helped him.
Of course, neither could he heal, either. His story never quite added up to the others, but at this point many such other hollow were seeing the protection of the Espada's rule. Without the plentiful foods, powerful hollow were cannibalizing their own en masse, and even the most powerful of beasts found themselves in danger of being ganged up upon or their bodies gnawed after sustaining heavy injuries fighting those of equal power. The chaos from lack of food had been raging for some time, and so it was easy for Rodolfo to slip between the cracks of attention.
Not that he didn't leave an impression on at least a few while he was there, but he made sure to keep to himself and avoid discussing to others much about himself. Instead, he helped with the creation of arrancar, determining the powers of new hollow coming in and writing reports on how they may be used, sorted, or otherwise ranked.
During this time, he kept his ears to the ground and his head as low as he can. He sought some kind of stability, something that helped him numb out what he came from and what he's seen in Hueco Mundo. Being able to judge other hollow and direct them appropriately according to the Espada's guidelines from down high.
He learned of many things more while hiding from himself and from the other arrancar around him. Techniques were being developed on slipping into the human domes. A new technology to help arrancar find their second release was being developed, slowly but surely. The best of the best were working on just the blueprints of the idea, as the decades rolled on. There was more progress on the side of invading the domes.
Eventually, he himself was tasked to test the preliminary checks. This was less because of his rank, and more because his mask could be stored, hidden, and his hollow was in an out-of-the-way place people wouldn't check. Without his mask, and with a full set of clothes, he looked essentially like a normal human.
Luckily, this mission should have no combat. He hadn't had to fight anyone since he was stationed here, and he would like to keep it that way. Some may joke he stagnated, but at this point he had no desire for power and was more than happy to stagnate. If he could reduce himself further he would do so.
The sunlight was beautiful on the day he arrived on earth. He passed the checks with ease. Although there were some questions as to his official documents, his charisma and just a little bit of pushiness allowed him through as easily as anyone else. He spent some time here before he traveled back to the night of Hueco Mundo.
He came across many peoples here, posing as a tourist. He found recruitment flyers for many organizations, and read them closely to give back intel. Human cybernetics were normal now. This was not the earth he knew, when he was young. The shock and surprise was nearly overwhelming to Rodolfo, and helped shake him from his depression. This was new, and this was unlike something he ever seen before.
Rodolfo felt an almost childlike wonder and curiosity at the glass buildings. He saw his own reflection, properly, for the first time, in the full color of sunlight. This would be what Rolf would have been, if he was allowed an adulthood. But Rolf was not allowed an adulthood, and Rodolfo had been denied his childhood. But perhaps there was another way.
The time away from the darkness and violence of Hueco Mundo had helped relieve his sorrow and his numb state. He realized then what he wanted to do, even if it meant leaving the organization that had given him some sense of stability, if not peace.
When he came back to Hueco Mundo, he submitted what intel he knew and then returned to his duties with stalwart refusal of any praise or promotions for a job well done. His flagrance all but guaranteed him stuck doing boring, meaningless work for the rest of his time here. There were plenty of other arrancar and hollow to take his place as the willing guinea pigs and invaders.
It was just as he wanted it to be. Now all he needed was information. »» I Remember Forgetting
It took him another hundred or so years of meaningless work for him to find the information he needed. Luckily, hollow were incredibly long lived creatures. Hardly anyone knew reading or writing, and when a hollow was consumed their memories were dissipated along with their identities. Word of mouth was the only way to record history, of what has happened in at least the relatively near past of a thousand or so years.
Who knows how much knowledge has been lost over the centuries? It is what has largely prevented the hollow from organizing for millennia. As soon as someone realizes how to be civilized, they are inevitably killed, and then their realization is lost for someone else to rediscover.
It was lucky then that he met a very old adjucas, one who came to join the Espada organization just as the news of the newly invented Deus Ex Engine. This adjucas desired the power of becoming an arrancar through the Engine, something that was believed to be much more powerful than a normal mask-removal. Rodolfo took a moment to ask if the adjucas remembered what the old Espada was like, under the now all-but-forgotten Aizen.
This adjucas told him, after some goading, that he was a witness to the old Espada, particularly a conflict between a kind-hearted Tres and a much crueler Quinto, back when he was just one of the small, pest-like gillian what so populated the sands. This Tres was eventually defeated and reverted to a child's form, who had forgotten everything.
Rodolfo wanted to know how this could occur, and the adjucas could tell him nothing of that manner, except to indicate that there was a terrible wound on the child and it was as if the significant pieces of who she was had been bled out or sealed away.
Within the coming weeks, Rodolfo sought the older hollow he knew that could knot something about it. Another, this one a menos grande, was a similar gnat. Except this one told him that they had heard the idea of bleeding out of one's spiritual energy, to the point of childlike uselessness, was a discussed theory in that specific incident.
At that point, he had heard that the invasion-technology was increasingly a success, and perhaps within a few decades their plan would be found out. In the meantime, the Espada were met with a demon named Mana, who offered a teamup. This was a great and momentous occasion for the organization, and Rodolfo understood more than anyone else that it was likely that this new, as-of-yet unnamed organization was going to hurt a lot of innocents.
Because of his realizing Shadow Fall was being made, and also because he now had theories on how to escape from his own despair at realizing what kind of creature he was and what organization he had helped (if only minutely), Rodolfo knew he had to leave. His conscience could no longer handle himself.
He made sure to slide away, with the hope that no one would notice he had gone missing. Back to the sands, and then back to the forest, reliving all of his life in hueco mundo since his initial arrival. He revisted the place where the vasto lorde he killed was buried. Spoke to nothing for a long, long while, just to get things out of his head.
Then he went to the forest, and found a secluded little cave, perhaps dug by another hollow however-many-centuries before. No such hollow lived there now. Rodolfo climbed in, curled up, and took his blade to his own head.»» And Then Everything Was Finally Okay
Rudi climbed out of that hole, a few days later, and saw Hueco Mundo for the first time. A wondrous land, filled with monsters right from storybooks, and bright moonlight, and white sand.
He had been sleeping for a while, but now he felt quite rested and excited to explore this fantasy-seeming world.