The story is also on Fanfiction.net under the name "Vergeltung Lied", but I wish to post it here for those who do not frequent the site.
NOTE: My apologies for the single-spacing.
I will survey your futures from this point on, and choose the moment at which you feel the greatest happiness. That is the moment when I will take your lives. For the rest of your lives, whenever you feel happiness, you will remember my words. And each time you will tremble in fear of your promised death. Forever.
- Kaiser Gesang - Vergeltung Lied
I do not know why all this happened, Arisawa Tatsuki thought.
Arisawa Tatsuki, forty-two years old, ran through the ruins of a town ravaged by a battle. It was Karakura Town, her home. Two years ago, it was alive, peaceful, and happy. Now, it was ruins and rubble.
Everyone who once lived here had fled to elsewhere. Everyone else…She had to stop as the same pain washed over her.
Karin and Yuzu. Keigo and Mizuiro. Ishida and Kurosaki. Sado. Orihime and her son, Kazui…
Ichigo. All of them were now dead two years. Almost everyone she ever knew and cared about, slaughtered and washed away, as if they were grains of sand. It pained her to admit this to herself, as she did every time, but the only relief she could take was that Ikumi, her aunt on her mother’s side, and Kaoru had left Karakura Town and Japan for Canada.
She could not expect help from Ichigo’s Shinigami friends, the Gotei 13, either. All of them died within the same span of time, including Abarai Renji and Rukia, and their daughter, Ichika. Even the Shinigami with Hollow Masks, and the other Humans who had powers like Orihime and Sado, also died.
Nine days. Nine days was all it took for happiness to turn to despair. After that, everything had changed.
The world shook. Darkness poured from the Earth and Karakura Town was shattered. It was the Jureichi, the epicenter of it all. Once the darkness had dissipated and the world stopped shaking, that is when it began.
Everyone in the Human World began to see spirits. What was once something very few could do was now something done by all. It was only after all this that she had learned what happened from Urahara and Uryu, the only ones who survived the battle.
Yhwach had returned. He had remade the world into one without “fear of death”, making it into one where Life and Death were now one.
Making it into a world where the Quincy race was returning to the world.
Tatsuki gripped the hilt of the sword that was at her side, and looked down at her black Shihakusho. It was a world where, as far as Tatsuki knew, she and Urahara were now the last Shinigami.
When the world had changed, Urahara had told her, Keigo and Mizuiro that they had to ‘set things right’. He helped Tatsuki become a Shinigami – the only one out of the trio who had the potential. Uryu trained Keigo and Mizuiro in awakening their Quincy potential. The original plan was for them to bide their time, grow strong enough so that they might be able to kill Yhwach, and take revenge for the deaths of their loved ones.
Urahara never said anything about returning the world to what it once was.
But Yhwach was swift. How could one out-wit a man who could see all possible futures?
A new generation of Stern Ritter were sent after them. Tessai, Keigo and Mizuiro died fighting the Stern Ritter to give Tatsuki, Uryu and Urahara a chance to escape.
With just her and Uryu, there was no chance. Not with the way Yhwach was now.
But if Urahara actually succeeds in what he is planning now…
She started off on a run again, keeping her spiritual power suppressed and not daring to use Shunpo, lest someone sense her power. She heard one of the Stern Ritter she fought convey this to her, just before Tatsuki killed them.
“Now His Majesty knows that only he can kill you,” she had told Tatsuki. “He will come for you soon enough.”
That was only last month. The woman had been the leader of the Stern Ritter.
She ran to the ruins of the Karakura High School. Urahara had set up the path to his new base underneath the building after the one underneath his Shop was destroyed. Many memories came back to her from her High School years – the Hollow that attacked her; seeing Ichigo as a Shinigami for the first time; the Arrancar killing her karate team-mates; seeing Ichigo fight the Arrancar; confronting Ichigo over Inoue’s disappearance; Aizen chasing her and her friends – and Kanonji – through the streets of Karakura Town.
…Kyoraku giving them those Soul Tickets which they never needed to use.
Well, Tatsuki thought ruefully, now there is a use for them.
She pulled out the Soul Ticket from her Shihakusho. She did not know if it was some joke on Urahara’s part, but he had set up the Gateway to Soul Society where the Women’s Locker Room was.
Right, she thought absent-mindedly, I never got the chance to kill him for sticking Orihime in that shameful dress. She remembered how aghast she was when she saw Inoue come back to Karakura Town after the Quincy War in that mid-rift revealing, cleavage-revealing out-fit. She would have been centimetres away from kicking Urahara’s ass back to the Soul Society…
If she didn’t see the look on Ichigo’s face after he returned. It should not have surprised her; she realized now, that Ichigo had given up on his life as a Shinigami at that point.
She shook her head slowly. Reminiscing on that would not change anything. Only what she was doing now might, if only for her younger self, and not her present self. She pushed the Soul Ticket into the opening, and opened the Gateway, a barrier of light emitting from the Gate.
She stepped through.
She came out of the other end in an obscure, isolated part of the Soul Society. According to Urahara, this area of the Soul Society was beyond the borders of the Rukongai, and it was only within this realm outside the control of even the Gotei 13 that a certain clan of people could live in peace.
A bark caught her attention, as a brown furred wolf looked at her from the side of the Gate.
“…Hello, Komamura-San”, Tatsuki said sadly.
She had heard the sad story of Sajin Komamura from one of his brothers – his litter mate, as the brother called himself. He was once of the Captains of the Gotei 13, who had joined the Shinigami against the wishes of the Clan and their Elder. He, like the rest of his Clan, were Wolfmen – real werewolves – who had been cursed to the form of Humanoid wolves, to dwell in the Beast Realm. But their ancestors never accepted their fate, and returned to the Soul Society in their current guise.
Komamura, seeking revenge against the Vandenreich and Yhwach for the death of Yamamoto Genryuusai, confronted the Elder to learn the secret technique of the Clan: Humanization, to break the chains of their curse and return to the Clan’s original form with incredible power – Humans with the strength of the Wolf, and immortal, indestructible bodies.
When Tatsuki asked about that, she was given this answer by Urahara: just as Humans and Hollow were opposites of one another, so too are Animals and Humans opposite to one another. Humans are souls that evolved from Animals; Hollows are Human souls that revert to animalistic instinct.
The Komamura Clan was one of many around the world that, in a far different age, had unearthed the secret to mix the soul of an Animal with the soul of a Human, giving them incredible power, the traits of the Animal soul the clan mixed with, and immortal bodies that could only die of old age.
Urahara would not divulge who cursed the Clans to their current form.
But Humanification came at a price: you must give up your heart to break the chains of their sins and attain that power, but the consequence is that, once the power runs out, you lose your Human form and become a Beast forever. The Elder had once done this, and he tricked Sajin into doing it without telling him the price, for the sake of the “sins” within Komamura’s heart – the sin of wrath and desire for vengeance – would nourish his life.
If you have come back here from the Living World, Sajin spoke through his thoughts, then it means you heard from Urahara.
“Yes,” Tatsuki told him. “It seems he is now ready.”
Will you…Find a way to save my Clan, when you go back?
Tatsuki looked at Komamura sadly. “I hope so, Komamura.”
With Komamura accompanying her, Tatsuki walked over to the place where Urahara had set up his base.
When Tatsuki saw the man with black hair wearing his white Quincy uniform, even if it was only from the back, her heart felt a rare moment of happiness. “Uryu!”
Uryu turned around and gave her a sad smile, reaching out as the two old friends embraced one another. They were the only friends they each had left in the world, and they cherished every moment they were together.
“I’m glad that you were able to make it here safely,” Uryu told her, brushing a strand of hair out of Tatsuki’s eyes. “I was worried that you might have been found.”
“I’m not that easy to catch,” Tatsuki said, mildly irritated at Uryu’s worry, but thankful for it all the same. There was only one power in the world that they both knew could ever harm them. “Besides…He wasn’t there. I couldn’t sense him.”
“I know. I can’t sense him anywhere in the Soul Society, either,” Uryu spoke worriedly, as he adjusted his glasses. “I can only conclude he is back in the Wahrwelt.”
Tatsuki shivered. If Yhwach was in the Wahrwelt, the former Soul King Palace, then it could only be bad news.
“Ah, Arisawa!” A familiar voice spoke happily. “You’re finally here.”
Tatsuki and Uryu turned to look at Urahara, who had grown out a trimmed, yellow beard over the past two years. He still bore the scars from his fight with Askin Naak le Varr. He told Orihime that he didn’t want these scars healed; they were a remembrance of an opponent he respected.
“Now, we can finally get started.” Urahara beckoned them towards a Gate he had built, one with a complex series of Kido spells weaved into it unlike anything ever seen in the world until that point. Tatsuki touched the Gate’s pillar.
So this is the Choujikanmon, Tatsuki thought to herself. The Time-Transcending Gate.
“I have Tessai to thank for this Gate,” Urahara said sadly, remembering his oldest friend. “I would never have been able to make it if it weren’t for him showing me Jikanteishi and Kukanten’i – Kido that freeze time and teleport space from one area to another.”
“Those are Kido that were forbidden,” Tatsuki recapped, “because one of them could allow a person to penetrate the Soul King Palace without the King’s Key, yes?”
Urahara smiled wryly. “…Yes, Only for someone who has been there, knows how to use it, and can gauge the distance. I couldn’t do this in the past because, even after a century, I hadn’t perfected the spell or the calculations for it in this particular venture. Jikanteishi will be used to help you survive the process of time transference – freezing you temporally as the time-stream rushes over you. That one is illegal because, depending on how powerful you are, you could freeze someone in time for a thousand years – perhaps more – regardless of how strong the individual is or what is happening to them.”
Uryu grimaced. “Remind me again how this Gate will work?” Uryu remembered, but he just needed to be told again because of how unpleasant it sounded, and how wrong it could go if just one thing went awry.
“It is a one-way Gate into a section of the Dangai. There is no way in or out except through the way you came. All you have to do is wait for Koutotsu to show-up, and…” Urahara raised a hand towards Tatsuki, wanting her to finish for him for dramatic effect.
Komamura sniffed the air. He seemed to notice something amiss.
Tatsuki diverted her gaze from Urahara, only able to cringe at the thought of it. “Let Koutotsu blast us back out.” She muttered.
“Exactly!” Tatsuki imagined lottery jackpots playing out in Urahara’s head with that dramatic announcement. “And once Koutotsu blasts you back out, it should send you flying backwards in time about twenty-two years, and across space to the Wahrwelt – the night before the day Ichigo killed Yhwach the first time.”
Komamura’s eyes lit up in alarm once he realized what was amiss, and he ran off while Tatsuki and Uryu were talking with Urahara.
“And by ‘should’,” Uryu asked hesitantly, “there is a chance of something going wrong?”
“The last time I managed a trick like this, I sent you and Ichigo and company back in time only seven days.”
“SO YOU DID THAT INTENTIONALLY!?” Uryu yelled in a panic. “WAIT, HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?! SHOULDN’T THERE HAVE BEEN A TIME PARADOX OR SOMETHING?!”
“Like what we are about to cause now?” Urahara spoke softly. Tatsuki knew that tone. It was when Urahara was about to divulge something significant. “The tricky thing about time travel is this: Yes, I did cause a paradox back then.”
Tatsuki and Uryu’s eyes widened, in shock. Then how did no one notice…?
“Uryu, when you, Kurosaki-san and the others were sent back in time seven days after being chased by Koutotsu, that coincided with when Ichigo’s training originally ended in the Living World. In effect, you were in two places at once – one set of you in Soul Society, and the other set in the Living World. However, since both sets were in two separate worlds at the time, the paradox only played out in Soul Society, at least visibly.
“Yhwach describes “The Almighty” as seeing all the grains of sand of possible futures, and being able to “alter the future” by manipulating those possibilities,” Urahara continued. “When Uryu and his friends went back in time the first time, they leapt backwards in the grains of sand that had already taken place in Soul Society, and diverted things from there. But in that case, a different time-line wasn’t created; rather, a subtle pre-destination paradox played out.”
“…How do you know all this?” Tatsuki asked, not sure what to think of what Urahara was saying.
“Because when Ichigo’s Hollow first awakened in the Soul Society, I noticed that the thread I had originally tied between Isshin and the Hollow inside Ichigo had snapped. To be more specific, the day before I sent Ichigo to Soul Society, I noticed that the string binding Isshin’s soul to Ichigo’s Hollow had “snapped” on his end. My Gate and Koutotsu sent Ichigo back seven days, the time when Ichigo finished training; Isshin’s string snapped six days after I finished training Ichigo.
“In other words, the string on Ichigo’s end could be called a “temporal phantom” – while pre-destination caused it to snap already on Isshin’s end, time had not yet progressed for Ichigo to a point where it happened on his end yet. So even before I sent Ichigo to Soul Society, I knew that he had succeeded.”
“Oooookay,” Tatsuki muttered, not sure if all of that made sense.
“But what we are doing right now is far different – we are going to change the past completely, create a new timeline. Or, to use Yhwach’s terminology, leap backwards onto a specific grain of sand, and change the path the world takes on its grains of sand. Change the path to one where this world will not come about.”
“But if we do that,” Uryu interjected, “then we will never be able to come back to this time, will we?”
Urahara looked at Uryu ominously. “Yes. The path to this future will be closed forever, assuming you make the right decisions.”
A panicked barking caught their attention. They turned to see Sajin running as fast as his four legs could take him, fear and despair in his eyes.
The Elder is missing! He broadcasted his thoughts. The scent of Yhwach was in his cave!
Before Urahara, Uryu and Tatsuki could react, an explosion of darkness ripped through the area, uprooting stone and trees.
“The Elder…” Tatsuki gritted his teeth. “I knew that he hated the Shinigami, but this…!”
“We have no time to wonder why,” Uryu shouted back. “We have to go through the Gate now!”
“But Koutotsu is not there yet!” Tatsuki yelled back. “If we go in there now, we’ll be waiting at least a few days for it to come, and who knows what will happen within the next few minutes.”
Times runs two thousand times faster in the Dangai. When one says the Koutotsu sweeps through the Dangai every seven days, Koutotsu only sweep the Dangai every 38 years within the time frame of the Dangai itself.
However, Koutotsu will bypass this standard sweep and attack anything foreign not trapped within Koryu and without a Hell Butterfly, if the entity in question is in the Dangai for a certain amount of time. It is for this reason Isshin decided to take advantage of the Koutotsu’s absence when Aizen destroyed it – if he had tried to train Ichigo in the Dangai while Koutotsu was active, the Koutotsu would have come by within the span of seven days in the Dangai itself to kill them both, rather than its usual sweep of seven days in the Soul Society or Living World.
“Both of you go!” Urahara shouted, and he activated the Choujikanmon. “I’ll hold off Yhwach for as long as possible!”
Tatsuki and Uryu looked at Urahara in fear. Was he intending to lay down his life for them? He was not going to come with them. “But…Urahara!”
“Just go.” Urahara said, resigned to his fate. “I was bound to face my judgement for what I put Ichigo and Rukia through sooner or later…And what they will have to follow through with now.”
Tatsuki and Uryu looked at Urahara sadly. They knew what Urahara meant: Ichigo and Rukia, they were the key to it all. What couldn’t be done after Ichigo gave up on his life as a Shinigami, they had to ensure they would be able to do now.
“Bankai: Kannon Biraki Benihime Aratame”.
Years ago, a puppet woman in a revealing robe appeared behind Urahara whenever he used Bankai, and she was the one who was the conduit for Urahara’s Bankai ability.
Now, Urahara had evolved his Zanpakuto beyond the Bankai. Now, his blade was agglutinated to his arm, covered in the same porcelain ceramic that made up the woman.
“Tatsuki, let’s go!” Uryu went in first, with Tatsuki pausing for just a moment longer. In an instant, Urahara’s body seemed to come apart, only to stitch itself back together again flawlessly, augmented to its highest level of function, as a prelude for what was to come.
“…Good Bye, Urahara-san”. Tatsuki gave one last look to the man who had taught her to be a Shinigami in these past two years – took her beyond the limits of the normal Shinigami – and went through the Gate.
Urahara smiled to himself. “Now all I need to do is give them more time.”
“I have already seen what you intend to do.”
The voice came from in front of him, beyond a curtain of darkness. Urahara raised his blade in preparation as the figure walked through the darkness. “I will not stop them, but I will take advantage of your work myself.”
Wordlessly, Urahara raised his blade, and “became one” with his Zanpakuto, The man wreathed in darkness simply smiling at Urahara’s last attempt at defying him. Reiryoku billowed out from Urahara’s body as he became one with Benihime.
Urahara Kisuke’s hair turned red; his eyes scarlet, his upper body covered in a porcelain ceramic armor the color of blood, as his lower Shihakusho became died with blood.
It was to be a battle between one who had become one with their Zanpakuto, and one who bore mark of the true Quincy. The man did not try to break his Bankai.
Urahara knew he would die, but would fight regardless.
“Finally,” the figure drew a blade from its back as the darkness peeled away from his form. “I will kill you, and I will fulfill the Kaiser Gesang in the time it should have been fulfilled….
The man who emerged from the darkness physically looked virtually identical to the man who was his father. Orange-blond hair, albeit softer looking; tall and well-built. In his hand, a white blade with a white swastika guard, the same as his father’s Bankai.
But there is where the relation ended. The smile was vicious, as if anticipating the death it was going to inflict upon Urahara – a death, Urahara knew, he already saw. Urahara looked upon the man’s eyes. Four dark irises crowded the man’s eye, in a formation that Urahara recognized all too well from a long time ago – he saw them once when he saw the Soul King.
He looked at the man who had the body of Kazui Kurosaki.
But the soul of the man, the one who inhabited the body, the only one who had remained in the body, was Yhwach.