All characters from Ranma 1/2 were created by Takahashi Rumiko, not me. Rights to such are owned by Takahashi-sama, Shounen Sunday Comics, Kitty Video, and (in North America) Viz.
Urd, Skuld and Verdandi are mythological. But the interpretations of them within this fanfic are the work Fujishima Kosuke, not me. Rights to such are owned by Kodansha, AIC, ADV Films and (in North America) AnimEigo and Dark Horse Comics.
Tail Kinker Presents
Chapter One of Six: Nabiki's Unlucky Day?
Nabiki was not happy.
Most of her underlings were scurrying about, trying to keep from attracting any wrathful attention. Sadoko had drawn the short straw, and was, rather unwillingly, trying to draw said attention.
Nabiki picked at her bento, then dropped it on the table. "Man, this sucks."
Nabiki's eyes slid over to Sadoko, then back down at the bento. "Look at this! This is supposed to be my lunch. What was Kasumi thinking, letting Akane make lunch?"
Sadoko shuddered; she was a year younger than the Boss, and two grades ago, had been partnered with Akane in Home Ec. "So why didn't you just refuse it?"
Nabiki rolled her eyes. "You think I want to get pasted? I smiled, said thank you, and then tried to sneak into the kitchen to replace it." She shuddered. "Kasumi gave me such trouble for that..."
"'Your sister worked very hard on that!' And other such lies. What could I do?"
"Then that bonehead Kuno manages to tick off Hinako-sensei. I managed to head her off before she drained him."
"I dunno." Nabiki shrugged. "Maybe because I felt sorry for the poor goon. Ever since his father was committed...Anyway, what do you have for me?" Nabiki grabbed the clipboard, and scanned it quickly. And groaned.
"I'm sorry, Boss, but I think we should have offered longer odds on Ranma. It might have scared some--"
"We could offer thousand to one odds on Ranma, and everyone would still bet on him." Nabiki considered. "Pay 'em."
"But we could--"
"No, we can't. You know what happens to a bookmaker who welches?" Nabiki scowled. "No-one ever bets with them again."
"We don't have enough in the treasury."
"We can make it up."
"Okay." Sadoko took the clipboard back. "I'll see what I can do to drum up sales of Ranma pics--"
"No, it was my call to set the odds this way." Nabiki heaved a sigh, and dropped a wad of yen on the table. "I was saving this for a rainy day, but it looks like that day is today."
"Don't tell anyone." Nabiki scowled at the yen. "I got a reputation to keep."
"Don't worry, I won't." Sadoko grinned. "Who'd believe it, anyway?"
- - - - -
Nabiki dropped a coin into the pay phone, and dialled her home number.
"Hey, Kasumi! Listen, I thought I'd remind you that I'm not going to be home for dinner tonight."
"Thank you, Nabiki. It was thoughtful of you to call."
"I just didn't want to see you waste effort on food I wasn't gonna eat."
"I'll save a little something, in case you're hungry after the concert."
"Thanks, Kasumi. You're the best."
"Thank you, little sister."
She hung up the pay phone, and walked – almost ran – down the street. It was her best of luck - and best of connections - that had secured this ticket. Regal was breaking up after this concert, and since they'd started in Nerima, they'd planned their final tour so that their last stop was right here, in their home town.
Not only that, but she'd saved back the three grand she'd need to buy the live concert album. She'd been planning to also buy a new jacket. The one she was wearing, though proof against the chill of the autumn evening, was starting to look a bit shabby.
"But hey. What can you do?"
She paused, just outside the auditorium, and turned.
The speaker was a younger girl, perhaps five or six years younger than Nabiki herself. Despite her youth, the girl was nearly as tall as Nabiki herself, though much skinnier. Her long black hair stretched down to her hips, and was caught up in a bow, and the outfit she was wearing was a bit outlandish.
The girl turned in anger, and Nabiki blinked. "Hey, you're not a kid, after all."
The anger changed to a smirk. "Nope. I'm definitely not a kid."
"Not quite a woman yet, either." Nabiki looked the girl up and down. Her hair had concealed - from the rear, anyway - the fact that she was a foreigner, but her Japanese was crisp and unaccented. "You from the base?"
The girl shook her head. "Nope."
Nabiki glanced up at the wall. "You were staring at that poster. You like Regal?"
The girl beamed, and nodded. "They're the best band I've heard since coming here!"
Nabiki grinned. "I kinda like them, too."
The girl opened her mouth to add to her enthusiasm, but was cut off by a sudden growl. She looked down, embarrassed.
Nabiki leaned in a bit. "You're starving, aren't you?"
"Yeah." The girl's expression turned cross again. "My sister brought me here, but then dumped me and went off to the bar. And I haven't had anything to eat since this morning."
Nabiki blinked. "Not much of a sister."
"Tell me," the girl growled.
Nabiki considered. She had that three thousand...but she wanted that CD. She looked again at the girl, and sighed.
"It looks to me like this isn't the first time you've gone hungry." She turned, and glanced down the street. "There's a place over there...why don't we go get something to eat?"
"But my sister said I..." The girl looked up at Nabiki. "She said that Tokyo's a dangerous place, and I shouldn't go off with people I don't know."
"And where is she now?" Nabiki was starting to get a little angry. "Off at some bar! She left you all alone, with nothing to eat, and no money. If my older sister were here, you'd already be fed, dressed in something warm, bathed, and tucked into the spare bedroom."
"You have an older sister like that too, eh?" The girl dimpled. "I'm the youngest of three."
"I'm stuck in the middle." Nabiki chuckled, her bad humour fading. "Let's go get something, shall we?" She let her voice become taunting. "They serve ice cream..."
The girl's eyes lit up.
- - - - -
"Man, can you put it away!"
The girl had made almost three liters of ice cream vanish already, and was working on another outlandish banana split. For her own part, Nabiki had purchased a tall parfait - the sort of thing Ranma liked, she mused. But she'd only put a dent in it, and the scrawny tornado in front of her was eating to beat even the whole Saotome clan.
The girl dropped her spoon into the banana split, and grinned. "Sorry. It's really good!"
"I know. My brother-in-law likes to come here."
"He brings his mom and my younger sister." Nabiki looked around. "He says he likes the way their eyes light up." She glanced back at the girl. "Much like yours."
"That's nice of you. And thank you for the treat."
"That's all right." Nabiki waved it off. "Kasumi's always telling me I should be nicer to people."
"You're not normally this nice?"
The waitress snickered. "Girl, I could tell you stories..."
Nabiki glared at her; she hung her head and moved off.
Nabiki glanced back at the girl. "You see?" She sighed. "Last month, I did something really nasty to my younger sister. She's only maybe a year or two older than you."
"What did you do?"
"She was going to marry her fiancée, and I invited people that I knew would break it up."
The girl considered this. "I think I know what you mean. You like your brother-in-law, don't you?"
"Not that way." Nabiki chuckled. "He's really good-looking, and he's a sweet guy, always trying to help people out. But he's a little too...unpolished...for my tastes."
"Yeah. My sister's boyfriend..." She looked down. "I never thought I'd call him that. But he is." She picked up the spoon again, and started pushing the ice cream around the plate. "I wasn't very nice to him, kept trying to come between him and my sister." She dropped the spoon again. "I shoulda known I was going to fail."
"Don't worry, kid. You'll grow to like him."
"I already do, kinda." She looked up, and grinned. "Don't call me kid."
"All right, all right!" Nabiki held up her hands in mock self-defense, then laughed. "When do you think your sister will be back?"
"Who knows? Probably not till last call."
Nabiki's hand was already in her pocket. She paused, and considered. "You know what? I already have all of Regal's CDs. Probably, they aren't gonna do anything I haven't heard before." She pulled out the ticket, slid it across the table. "No need for you to be bored before your sister gets back."
The girl looked down at the ticket, her eyes gleaming. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Knock yourself out."
"Oh, Nabiki, thank you!" The girl jumped around the table, and hugged Nabiki tightly. "This means a lot to me!"
"Sure. Just don't tell anyone." Nabiki sighed. "I got a reputation to keep."
"Okay." The girl grabbed the ticket, then squawked. "It starts in five minutes!"
"Get going, then."
The girl was gone in a flash, and Nabiki chuckled.
She had almost finished her parfait before she realized that she'd never given her name.
- - - - -
"What was I on?"
Nabiki shook her head, and stepped out of her outdoor shoes. "I'm back."
"Welcome home." Kasumi wandered out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. "Did you not go to the concert?"
"No. I gave the ticket away."
Nabiki waved it off. "Don't worry, it was for a good cause. I'll tell you the story tomorrow."
"All right." Kasumi gestured towards the kitchen. "I saved you some pork buns."
"Thanks, Kasumi. But I'm really tired. I'll have 'em for breakfast, all right?"
"All right. Oh." Kasumi raised a hand to her mouth. "I almost forgot! I moved the television from my room into yours, while I was rearranging furniture. It's still on your desk. Is that all right?"
"Sure. Mind if I use it?"
"No, go ahead."
- - - - -
Nabiki flipped on the television, then collapsed across the bed.
"I can't believe I gave away that ticket. And the money for the CD. And the money for the jacket." She paused. "Okay, the money for the jacket, I didn't really have a choice."
She sighed, and rolled over to face the television.
'And that wraps up weather. Now for the financial department. Sayoko?'
Nabiki sat up. "Financial? At nine?"
The woman on the screen was not the usual financial anchor, but a tall, bronzed woman with long, flowing white hair. She looked a bit familiar, though Nabiki couldn't remember ever seeing her before.
'Thank you, Ichigyo. A mild drop in gold futures today, though the fluctuation seems to originate in the rise in value of the yen against the American dollar. This despite the fact that some Japanese girls are being much more free with their money.'
'I mean, random acts of kindness like giving away concert tickets and buying little girls ice cream...'
Nabiki backed away from the television.
It didn't help.
The woman seemed to step through the screen, flowing out like a ghost, until she stepped lightly down on the floor of Nabiki's bedroom.
"I'm talking to you, Tendo Nabiki."
Nabiki wanted to scream. She wished she could remember how.
The woman stepped up closer to her. "My little sister was very happy with you, Nabiki. She also told me that you've got a major Karma imbalance." She smiled at the frozen teenager. "You've done some good, and you've done some bad...all of us have. But today, you've done so much more good than you ever have before..."
She stepped back, and crossed her arms. "This area has been getting--"
"Your sister?" Good, her voice had returned. "The little girl with the black hair?"
Nabiki scowled, and launched a right cross. It connected squarely with the woman's chin.
The woman yelped, and grabbed her chin with her hand. She turned back, and scowled down at Nabiki...then sighed.
"Okay, I guess from your point of view, I had this coming." She pushed at her jaw gingerly. "Come to think of it, my sisters wouldn't be very happy with me, either. So I'll let it slide." She grinned down at Nabiki. "The only chance you'll ever get to punch a Goddess."
"Yep." The woman fished down her top, and produced a card. "Urd. Goddess Second Class, Limited License. On special assignment from Yggdrasil, to find the source of the karmic imbalance in Nerima." She looked Nabiki up and down. "I'd say we've found a good portion of it."
"Yes, you." Urd smiled. "There are others, of course. Your sisters. That hunk that all three of you have lusted after. Even that spinny purple-haired bitch. But you've had the largest net adjustment of Karma in the last twenty-four hours. So we're giving it to you."
"Whatever you want, of course." Urd's smile widened, and she held up a finger. "One wish."
"Yep. Just one wish should push the karmic balance back to normal." Urd tried her best to look dignified. "We had to plan this carefully, you know."
"Yes. I left Skuld where I did, because it was the best place to do so. I triggered that witch of a schoolteacher's rage, to see who would act to protect her victim. And do you really think that that sweet boy who attacked Ranma would do so of his own volition?"
"But near a water fountain?"
Nabiki paused, and eyed the Goddess. "So you've been pulling strings all day."
Nabiki's eyes narrowed. "That takes considerable power. And you're just a second-rate Goddess?"
Urd frowned. "That's Second Class!"
"Oh, my apologies, great Urd." Nabiki's voice dripped sarcasm. "Second Class. Limited License. You can't handle a little wish-granting without your little sister tagging along. You can't even look after her while you're off partying! I wish I was her sister! I could show you how--"
Nabiki broke off in horror. "Did I just say..."
"Yes. I'm afraid you did." Urd's voice was sad.
"Oh, no! That's not my--"
Urd was glowing. Her hair was flowing outward, defying gravity, and a triangular tattoo glowed on her forehead.
Nabiki backed away, raising her hands. "Please, forgive me! I didn't mean to say--"
"Yes. You did." Through the glow, Urd's saddened face glistened with tears. "And I am very sorry you did, Tendo Nabiki."
There was a blast of searing white light.
- - - - -
Nabiki groaned, and sat up. She winced; the action caused her earrings to jingle loudly in her still-bruised ears.
Come to think of it, she'd never even had her ears pierced. She raised a hand, and was relieved to feel the clips.
She struggled to her feet, and turned towards the mirror...and gasped.
Her jeans and T-shirt were gone, replaced by long, brown flowing robes. Her hair was unchanged, but on her forehead was a tattoo, two half circles, one above the other. She rubbed at it, but it just felt like skin.
"No way." She stepped back from the mirror, and groaned. "What the heck have I done now?"
The mirror shimmered.
"Ack!" Nabiki stumbled backwards, tripping and falling on her backside, as a woman floated out of her mirror.
The newcomer - she looked a bit like Kasumi, if Kasumi had been born in Europe somewhere - was dressed in a manner similar to herself, though in blue and white. She floated an inch off the floor, and had a tattoo on her forehead, a slender oval.
"Don't tell me," Nabiki sighed. "Another Goddess."
"Yes." The woman floated a little closer, and held out her hand. "Goddess, First Class, Unlimited License. Velthandi."
Nabiki looked puzzled. "Berudandi?"
The woman smiled. "Yes, my Keiichi-sama says it the same way." She touched down, and took Nabiki's hand. "It may be easier for you to call me Belldandy. I'm very pleased to meet you."
"Likewise." She glanced around. "Hey, where's Urd?"
"When she realized what happened, she came back to our Temple to get me."
"Temple. Makes sense." Nabiki shrugged. "Look, I didn't really mean for this to--"
"Yes. You did."
"Sure I did. Wish myself a Goddess. Why not?" Nabiki sighed. "I'm sure you guys have rules or something."
"So didn't I just break a bunch of them?"
"That was as a mortal. Now, you're immortal."
Nabiki's eyes lit up. "So that's true, is it?"
"Yes," said Belldandy. "But this three-dimensional form you wear...It is not immortal. Eventually, you will shed it, to be born again."
"Not in the sense you mean, but yes." Belldandy turned, and pulled Nabiki gently towards the mirror. "It's time to go."
"I--but my sisters--"
Belldandy smiled sadly at her. "We are your sisters now." She turned back, and touched the mirror. It seemed to melt before her, creating a tunnel. "This is your path. It will take you home."
"But this is my home!"
Belldandy turned back to her. "If you stay here, all the chaos that you regret bringing on your family will be magnified a hundred-fold. For their good as well as yours, you must come."
Nabiki bowed her head. "I..."
"You must learn our ways. You must learn to control your powers, and to touch the hearts of others."
Nabiki sniffed. "I'm gonna miss them..."
"They will always be here." Belldandy placed her hand over Nabiki's heart. "And you will be able to come back. I promise."
"Okay." Nabiki heaved a sigh. "As long as they don't worry about me..."
"I'll have Urd come back and leave a note."
Nabiki laughed, then turned to the mirror. "Time to say goodbye to the old Nabiki."
"And hello," added Belldandy, "to the Goddess Fayu."