Bazz B, Liltotto, Äs Nödt, and Uryu began to leave the room before they heard Giselle speak up.
“Hhheeeyyyyy what about me? What should I do?” She said.
“Giselle, I need you to stay here while were gone, make sure the Soul Reapers don’t back out on us.” Uryu said in a calm but serious tone.
“You got it!” Giselle said cheerfully.
“Good. Alright you guys, on me.” Uryu said, signaling the other Sternritter to follow him.
“Yes Your Majesty.” Äs Nödt replies.
Together they walk outside of the Silbern and head to the same portal that Äs, Bazz B, Liltotto, and the others used to get into the Soul Palace. They walk through the portal and enter the Seireitei. From there they begin to make their way to where Bazz B and the others fought the Soul Reapers earlier.
“Where could she be? I think we should split up, we’ll have better luck.” Bazz B says.
“I agree. Everyone! Split up!” Uryu commands.
“You don’t think she got captured by some of the other Soul Reapers do you?” Äs Nödt asks.
“No, even in the condition she’s in, she could still take care of a few lower class Soul Reapers, the stronger seated officers are at the Soul Palace. She wouldn’t let herself be captured.”
“Hey you guys didn’t forget Meninas is still alive did you? She should be around here somewhere too.” Liltotto said.
“You wait to tell us this now? You can be such a ditz sometimes Liltotto.” Bazz B says shaking his head.
“It isn’t my fault! PePe launched a damn heart at us; then Meninas attacked me! I had to do something to stop her!” Liltotto shouts.
“Quiet! That doesn’t matter! Just keep an eye out for them.” Uryu says.
The Sternritter split up in different directions, they decided to meet back up in a few hours, were the Sternritter battled the Soul Reapers.
“Alright where would I be if I was Candice or Meninas?” Äs Nödt said to himself. “Well, I guess I’d go somewhere where I wouldn’t get my hair messed up… and a place to take care of my wounds. Now where would that be? Someplace dry and that has medicine. Wait who wounded her? Was it one of the Kuchiki’s? If it was, then which one? Byakuya? I was still dead though so I could be wrong.”
Äs Nödt began to walk towards a building he thought Candice might use.
“Candice! Candice! Are you in here?” Äs called out.
‘Well I should move on to the next building.’ Just as he had begun to head to the doorway of another building he heard a woman. When he turned around he saw a tall young woman with long green hair. She was well endowed and had large green eyes with thunderbolt shaped eyebrows. Her Sternritter uniform was heavily modified, a revealing variation of the typical double-breasted jacket, which she keeps tied up to reveal her midriff, yet it remains unbuttoned. Her shorts are held up by a black belt with love hearts attached to the side. She also wears a white cap which features a black peak and the Wandenreich insignia emblazoned on its front, and a pair of ankle height shoes.
“Äs Nödt? Äs Nödt! You’re dead! How ar…” Äs cut her off.
“Glad to see you too Catnipp, I see you’ve survived the war. Good job.”
“How are you alive? You were defeated by that short Soul Reaper!”
“I’ll tell you the story on the way, come on lets go.”
The two Sternritter begin making their way toward the rally point they agreed upon earlier.
“So Äs…how are you alive? You were killed in battle.” Candice asked, impatient for him to begin his tale.
“When Yhwach used Auswählen, to revive his Guard, it somehow revived me with it. But it wasn’t intentional, that much I know for sure. I’m thankful it happened though. I’d much rather be alive than dead.” Äs replied.
“Oh. But… doesn’t that mean you’re also stronger than before?”
“Yes, I am.” Äs replied without hesitation. “Much stronger. But a lot has changed. I’ll ‘update’ you on the situation.” Äs continued.
“Yeah, you mentioned the war was over, how’d it end?” Candice asked. “In case you didn’t know, I was kind of taking a ‘nap’ for the last 24 hours.”
“Yhwach was defeated. Liltotto, Bazz B, Giselle and I helped the Soul Reapers defeat him… for betraying us. Now we agreed to work together to get the Silbern back to the Shadow Realm. After that…well we’re going to form a treaty.” Äs Nödt told her.
“So what? Now we’re all friends!? Do you remember what they’ve done to us!? To You!! Or did you…” Äs Nödt cut her off.
“We’re not friends Candice, but we are trying to get along until a treaty can be formed between us. Until that can be done, we have to stick together. Most Quincy’s are dead or gone. There’s only seven of us left.” Äs Nödt said as he kept walking.
“Oh…Well then who’s the Emperor if Yhwach is dead? Who was next in…hey wait, is that Uryu kid dead too? I mean he was with Yhwach and Haschwalth.” Candice said.
“No he didn’t die, and yes, he is the new Emperor. We voted on it. We had to. It is important that we see if he can do this. He was next in line, and we need to keep order right now. If he can do this then he will remain Emperor. If he screws it up… well let’s just say we’ll put him out of power and decide on someone else.” Äs told her, leaving no room for argument.
“Ohhhh…that’s good.” Candice says, and Äs is relieved that she isn’t combative about it. With Candice you can never be sure.
There was a period of silence between the Sternritter as they walked back to the agreed upon meeting point. When they arrived they noticed that the others had not.
“Where’s everyone else?” Candice asked.
“We agreed to meet back here in a few hours.” Äs replied. “They still have plenty of time.”
“Seriously? This is going to take forever.” Candice said with a sigh. “I’ve already missed too much.”
“They’ll be here, just give them some time.” Äs said.
“If you say so.” Candice replied, and he could help but think how tired she looked.
They both moved to sit down on the rubble. Äs Nödt’s mind began to drift, away from the situation at hand. He thought about the Soul Reaper he had befriended, Rukia Kuchiki. Thoughts of her confused him, he didn’t know how to feel about her. Every time he talked to her he felt something he had never felt before. ‘What is this warm feeling I feel when I’m around her...What is it? She makes me want to …smile...something I have almost forgotten how to do. She looks at me…really looks at me and she is not afraid of what she sees! I can see her blush when she thinks I’m not looking and it gives me a strange feeling in my chest. What is this new feeling? ….Love? No I can’t have such feelings! That is for weak minded people…not me…is it? Am I just denying the truth? How does she feel about me? Does she have the same feelings I do? From the looks she flashes my way I have to think she…’ A voice suddenly cut off Äs Nödt’s train of thought.
“Äs! You found Candice! Nice job!” Candice jumps to her feet at the sound. “ Hey how have you been Catnipp?” Bazz B shouted as he arrived to the meeting point.
“Huh? Oh thanks Bazz B.” Äs said; part of his mind still lingered on Rukia.
“What’s the matter Äs Nödt? You seem like you were in deep thought. If you were anyone else I would have almost thought I scared the shit out of you!” Bazz B says with a grin as he approached Äs.
“That’s because I was Bazz B.” Äs replied, his voice stressing his boredom.
“Oh yeah? About what?” Bazz B asked.
“Nothing that concerns you.” Äs continued. “Did you find Meninas?”
“No, I couldn’t find her.” Bazz said shaking his head.
Another voice spoke up “I found her.”
Everyone turned to see who spoke, and recognized it as Liltotto.
“Well now that’s both our ladies found. How have you been Meninas?” Bazz B said as he crossed his arms.
“I’ve been better.” Meninas said, but another voice interrupted before she could say anymore.
“Ahh, it looks like we have everyone now. Meninas, Candice, I take it you’ve both been informed of the situation? “Uryu said as he approached his Sternritter.
“Yeah, Äs Nödt gave me a rundown of what’s going on.” Candice replied.
“Yes, Liltotto told me what’s happened.” Meninas said.
“Alright good, we have to head back to the Silbern and see how Giselle has held up.” Uryu said as he signaled the Sternritter to follow him.
They soon made their way to the portal and made quick work of returning through it. When they emerged, they were in a completely different environment. It was no longer the Quincy city, it more resembled the ruined city of one of the Royal Guards, though they were unsure which of the guard’s it was. A voice broke the confused silence.
“Hey guys! We did it! We returned the Silbern and brought back… well…what’s left of…the Soul Palace!” A happy Ichigo shouted to the Sternritter.
“Ichigo, well, you’re the last person I thought would come to tell us this” Äs Nödt remarked.
“Well, Rukia seems to trust you, so I will to.” Ichigo said plainly.
“I see, you’re friends with her if I recall?” Äs Nödt says.
“Yeah, I am.” Ichigo replies, thinking of all the times they’ve spent together.
Äs Nödt noticed the look on Ichigo’s face, and realized that he was in deep thought. ‘What are you thinking about kid?’ He says to himself. ‘Wait. Does he… Like her? The same way I think I do? No. He doesn’t… does he?’ A voice interrupted Äs Nödt’s own thoughts.
“The Sternritter are back from their game of hide-and-seek! I take it you’ve noticed the difference in scenery?” Shunsui said as he approached with the other captains and lieutenants. All had stern looks on their face, some more than others.
“Head Captain Kyōraku, I thought you would have waited for our help. We would have been more than happy to assist you.” Uryu remarks.
“I know, I know. But I figured this would be a nice surprise. A show of good faith.” Shunsui says with a grin.
“Well…It’s certainly…a surprise. I see you brought the other captains and lieutenants. I take it they helped you out with returning the Silbern?” Uryu ask. ‘Why are they here? Some of them look like they would rather kill us then help us. What are they about? Are they going to fight us? In this condition we don’t stand much of a chance, not against all these Soul Reapers and so few of us.’ Uryu thought to himself as he looked around and saw the same worried expression on all the other Sternritter except Bazz B and Äs Nödt, who appeared to be ready for just that.
“Your Majesty.” Äs Nödt said as he approached the Quincy Emperor. He made sure only Uryu could hear him, as he didn’t want to let the Soul Reapers know what he was saying. “This may not be the friendly gesture they would have us believe.”
“Äs may be right; we could have a problem here.” Bazz B said as he approached Uryu from the opposite side, ready to fire a Burner Finger 1 if the need arose.
“You guys look like you getting ready for a battle, I promise you, we’re not here to fight you. We were just heading back to the Seireitei through the portal you just used.” Shunsui assures them, but his words do not bring any comfort.
“Of course.” Uryu says as he inclines his head. “We will head back to the Shadow Realm. When you alert the Central 46 of our plan for a treaty, let me know. Depending on how they take it, we’ll go from there.” Uryu says as he and the other Sternritter step aside, letting the Soul Reapers head to the portal.
“Of Course. We’ll do that. ” Shunsui says as he passes Uryu and pats him on the shoulder in a friendly manner.
You could have heard a pin drop as they watched the Soul Reapers disappear into the portal.
“That was odd.” Uryu said in a matter-of-fact tone that belied his fears. “We should get back to the Silbern. We have some things we need to discuss… amongst ourselves. Äs Nödt if you will.” Uryu said, signaling Äs Nödt to open a Schatten (Shadow).
“Of course.” Äs replies.
Äs Nödt does the required technique by placing his hand on the ground and generating a Shadow; he then swiftly swings his arm outward and drops the shadow to the ground. A large six pointed Quincy cross appears right above him. The Sternritter enter the black portal, and emerge in a place they are very familiar with. Never had they felt so happy to return to such a familiar place, a place they had seen practically every day. The new Emperor had his first taste of victory, bringing the last of the Sternritter home to enjoy the new peace. But he had an inkling that there was still a war to win… and fighting to be done.