In the Cat’s Ear Ch4 Ficbit – Arrancar

“I’m going to guess that makes you two Contractors. What’s that?”

“Very, very nasty,” Mao said cheerfully. “I’m not sure what caused it. I’m not sure any Contractor ever is. Although we do all seem to have some kind of massive trauma hit us weeks, even months before it happened. Mostly violent trauma, but not always; I researched one Russian Contractor whose trigger seemed to be the accidental death of her child.” A furred shrug. “One day – night, whenever – there’s just a shock. And part of you, the part that cared and laughed and hated people and wanted to be with them forever… it’s gone.” Fur trembled. “And in its place there’s a star in the sky, a power that wants to be used, and a price you have to pay for it. The Contract, and the Remuneration.”

“Empathic amputation.” Ichigo swallowed hard. “It sounds almost like….”

“A soul becoming a Hollow?” Ishida finished. “As far as I can tell, it is. There’s severe damage to the plate connecting the soul chain; the metaphysical heart of every emotional tie we have to other human beings. Yet they still have physical bodies. I believe that allows them to maintain rational thought, where a Hollow would be raw spiritual hunger. Dolls and Contractors are the closest beings I’ve seen to living Arrancar.”

Hei tensed. Ishida had used that word before, but he’d been too focused on Yin and Ichigo’s background-of-holes father to ask. What?

Mao slid a glance his way, then stalked closer to the doctor. “You told us what Hollows are; spirits who by obsession or attack lost their hearts, and now try to eat anyone they can get their claws on. But what are Arrancar?”

“Majorly strong Hollows – Adjuchas-level or more – who rip their masks off and get more powerful,” Ichigo rattled off, quick as Hei could run down caliber differences. “They look a lot more human, and they are damn dangerous. Aren’t many of ‘em. Thankfully. About a dozen of them just about took Karakura apart, even with everybody fighting them.” He stared at all of them. “You guys aren’t anything like Arrancar, though… well, maybe like Nel. Kind of.”

“Nel?” Ishida beat them all to the question. “Who was Nel?”

“Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck,” Ichigo shrugged. “She didn’t want to fight anymore. She was strong enough she could just hang out in Hueco Mundo and live on the reishi in the air. She didn’t need to hunt humans. So she just didn’t. All she wanted was to live with her Fracciones, have fun playing tag, stay away from shinigami. Then Aizen had to screw with everybody.” He waved a hand; what can you do about homicidal idiots. “She saved our lives a couple times. She was… nice. Dangerous as heck, she was an Espada, but if Aizen had just left her alone she would have kept her Fracciones safe and stayed out of it. He didn’t, we needed help, she helped us.”

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33 thoughts on “In the Cat’s Ear Ch4 Ficbit – Arrancar

  1. What happened to Nell later on, in this story?

    Also, weaker hollows might break of their masks to become arrancar, too, its just that the result is not as good, efficient or empowering as what Aizen did. And that ichigo didn’t meet any…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure about Aizen’s arrancar being stronger. After all, Ulquiorra (no.4), Barragan (no.2) and even Starrk (no.1) weren’t made arrancar by Aizen. They were all natural like Nel.
      Or did you mean that Aizen could take weaker hollows and make them into arrancar more powerful then they would be if they followed normal process?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I thought it was a plot point that Aizen had been continuously improving the Arrancars?

        Nel had a higher number, but it didn’t matter since the others had been improved since then.

        Basically, her power as the previous number 3 Espada wasn’t enough to beat the current number 5. Who she used to be able to beat easily.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. That was a plot point… but it was a questionable one. The previous Espada got replaced by “more powerful” ones, but a key point of most of the ones that were actually explained was either “the replacement had some specific counter to my abilities”, “the replacement used trickery to get the upper hand”, or even literal “the replacement backstabbed me when I wasn’t expecting it”.

        My own interpretation from what we’re actually shown is that Aizen was able to give them some choice in their growth, on a kinda point-buy system (instead of the normal “somewhat luck of the draw” growth). They aren’t “stronger” overall, they just have narrower and more tightly defined focus, allowing them to beat otherwise stronger enemies and appear to be strong themselves, while leaving them weaker in whatever areas they choose to use as their “dump stats”.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Personally, I think they got stronger.

        During the flashback in the indefinite past, Nnoitra was Espada #8 and Nel was Espada #3, at that time Nnoitra could not beat Nel with his power and had to use an artifact created by the creepy science Espada to catch her off-guard.

        But during the Arrancar arc, Nnoitra was still only Espada #5, but Nel was no longer strong enough as the old Espada #3 to overpower him anymore.

        And considering Aizen was trying to break through the setting’s power-cap, finding ways to level up his Arrancars would probably be part of that.

        The guy with a second, thought impossible, powerup transformation could be just one result of trying to level up Arrancars.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It was explicitly noted that Nel lost a lot of her power as a result of the damage to her Mask (how this works with “the mask is torn off, and you get a powerup” isn’t cleared up). It’s also explicitly noted that so long as they feed, Arrancar (like all Hollows, except those who fail to make the final step to Vasto Lorde fast enough and get stuck) continue to gain power slowly over time depending on how much they eat. And Nel was explicitly noted to have basically starved for a while, and otherwise only eaten the bare minimum she could get away with once she did start recovering (so as to avoid drawing attention to her continued survival). So Nel and Nnoitra having their second fight isn’t a good counter to the theory. (the theory may still be wrong, but that particular set of circumstances is almost literally tailored to not be a valid counter)

        Also, look at many of the other things Aizen was experimenting with. He was perfectly willing to accept “this thing has a glaring and obvious flaw, but just happens to trump this one particular other thing I want dealt with, which makes this a Glorious (and expendable) Success!” In fact, he seemed to prefer bargains like that (for his minions to use, at least) apparently at least in part to handicap them so they were more dependent on him and his organization, instead of being able to set out on their own. So even the “it makes more sense to make stuff well-rounded” argument is in trouble, because that seemed to be something Aizen actively chose against when he thought he could get away with it.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Oh, that make sense.

        I guess, Part of me thinks since Nnoitra’s weapon had changed to look even stupider then in the flashback it must be part of a powerup.

        That’s sort of how things work in Bleach.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Most likely Nnoitra did power up, somewhat, but that was just normal “powering up over time of being a successful Hollow and eating other Hollows for more power”. It was at least implied to have been a significant amount of time between when things happened (if not the full hundred-ish years since the experiments that created the Vizard), so there was plenty of time for him to grow in strength apart from any “powerup” given by Aizen. But with him having nothing to hold back normal growth, while Nel was both drastically weakened from her initial state and going on a starvation diet to keep from being noticed, she was significantly weaker than during the first fight and didn’t have a chance to grow. Thus, it’s not just a case of “beat a superior foe with trickery, then gained powerup to be stronger than the old foe”, it’s instead “beat a superior foe with trickery, crippled that foe, and then on the rematch that foe is still crippled and much weaker than before, so even without growing stronger in absolute terms you’re still stronger in relative terms.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant that Aizen using the hogyoko made the power increase of going from hollow to arrancar and breaking mask bigger then it was the other way,-making it give more boost.

    the numbers 14 were Vesto Lorde even before breaking masks, so of course it still makes Adjuchas arrancar weaker, even if the improved method is used.

    I also want to point out that all the Espada, until Grimmjaw, were quite powerful compared to other adjuchas, from what we glimpsed, even before becoming arrancar.

    (the weaker ones wee all trick based).

    Did ichigo explain whats Adjuchas is-how groups of hollows can form into a single ‘super hollow.’ a creature that is the amalgamation of thousands of souls…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Argh. Terrible pun bunny. The Vizard of Oz.

        Which is sadly plausible as part of the backstory of Hei’s School Days. The Wizard could have been a Shinigami who left before Kisuke became a Captain. Such a Shinigami could have ended up in Oz in a power suppressing Gigai, even turned into a Vizard. (Super Robot Wars rules style many worlds. All sorts of properties can show up that will not have any plot importance, or even any presence in the story. I’ve been pretty sure I’d be using the fairyland of Oz as soon as I found out about a city named Esmeraldas.)

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    1. Er, no. An Arrancar, as far as I understand it, is a Hollow that somehow developed a zanpakuto/Shinigami powers. A Vizored is a Shinigami that has gained an inner Hollow/Hollow powers. Same powers mixing, different starting points and different focus for the individual. Like mixing dogs and wolves. Or lions and tigers.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. “I’m going to guess that makes you two Contractors.

    Mao is.

    Hei is . . . complicated. The spirit that possessed him for five years definetly was a Contractor. And he THOUGHT he was a Contractor.

    Like I said, complicated.

    Dolls and Contractors are the closest beings I’ve seen to living Arrancar.”

    Through thankfully not as powerful.

    Contractors can do quite enough damage with their current level of power, thank you very much.

    Hei . . .to ask. What?

    Not the only time that “What?” is going to come up.

    Because there are way more terms.

    And eventually, probably soon, you are going to what to know HOW Ichigo knows all of this.

    Ichigo rattled off, quick as Hei could run down caliber differences.

    Because much of the spirit world is just as familiar to him as those caliber differences are to Hei.

    “Nel?” Ishida beat them all to the question. “Who was Nel?”

    Shows that Ishida also hasn’t gotten the full and complete story.

    All she wanted was to live with her Fracciones, have fun playing tag, stay away from shinigami.

    Nel might not have been the only one since several of the Arrancar, including couple of Espada, seemed less than enthusastic. (Not in the apathetic way, in the I-would-really-like-not-be-here-doing-this way).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. First thing is, Hollow and Arrancar society is a little bit too anarchic to have the mores and customs that make raising a volunteer military possible. Coercion is pretty much your option for making much use of them as soldiers. Espada number six wouldn’t have shown up for that last fight against the Quincy King, except that he was weird, and that Ichigo reached his heart in best magical girl style. Personal warrior ties of loyalty, not a soldier’s sense of duty. (OOC, he was probably also too popular to leave out.)

      Second thing is, Aizen was no longer concealing the fact that he was a really shitty leader. That meant he couldn’t sell them on, this is something we have to do, and I’ll try to make sure we all come back. He obviously had no loyalty to his nominal subordinates, and we would not expect them to show him any real loyalty. If they were sane.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thankfully Ichigo already knows complicated. So he will groan, but not boggle so much.

      Heh. Yes. More powerful Contractors would be very scary.

      >Because much of the spirit world is just as familiar to him as those caliber differences are to Hei.

      Exactly! And Hei notices that. 🙂

      No, Ishida hasn’t heard it all. And gee, Ichigo really needs to talk to someone….

      (Isshin, you so deserve this.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ryuuken will have three reactions to getting more of the story:

        (1) The urge to bang his head against something. Yes, it will hurt at first but it will feel so good after he stops . . .

        (2) The urge to throttle and/or shot Isshin, more so than usual. Urge is increased every time Isshin makes a remark about him not knowing his spirit stuff just because he isn’t a darned Shinigami.

        (3) To do something paternal in Uryuu’s direction, knowing that his efforts will more than likely annoy the living heck out of said offspring.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. *Snrks at 3*

        And yes. When Ryuuken gets an idea of the long list of purely spiritual trauma Ichigo’s been through, not to mention combat trauma… alive, shinigami, barely alive, shinigami again, Hollow that sometimes took over, and then the whole soul-burning mess?

        Yeah. “Isshin, you fool, how could you even think your son was fine?”

        (Plus now he knows Uryuu was on hand for all of said trauma, meaning his son needs more care, too. Augh. Feelings. Ryuuken is bad at them. And going to try anyway, because damned if he’ll let the shinigami kill his son by proxy.)

        Liked by 2 people

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