[Ranma/O!MG + sm + tm
Sailors Mars and Mercury ran into the clearing as their team mates stood staring off into the night sky. When they neared the small crater in the clearing, the Senshi of Fire slowed to a walk as her expression turned faintly nauseated.
Ami, noting her friend's distress, slowed with her. "Mars? Are you okay?"
"Yes. This must be where that negative chi was centered. I can still feel it, but I'll be okay."
A snort of laughter drew their attention to their friends. Venus, one gloved hand over her mouth, was failing to hold her laughter in as she pointed at Sailor Moon.
"What's so funny," Sailor Moon exclaimed as she peered into the night sky, "She got away."
Usagi blinked and turned to look at the other blonde senshi. "What?"
"Y-you have d-dummies written all ov-over you!" Venus managed to gasp through her laughter.
"Huh?" Moon glanced down at herself. Across her pretty uniform, in ugly, black brush-like strokes, the word 'dummies' showed multiple times. Tears sprang into her eyes as she gazed upon the unexpected alteration to her appearance. "But...but... I'm the Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. I'm no dummy."
"It's even on your face!" The Senshi of Love chortled.
"You haven't got anything to laugh at Venus." Sailor Jupiter spoke up, having remained silent up to this point. "After all, you and I got hit, too."
The sound of laughter was soon replaced by the twin wailing of the blonde defenders of Love and Justice marking an eerie cadence with the approaching sirens.
DISCLAIMER: I lay no claim to characters from Ranma 1/2, Tenchi, Sailor Moon, Ah! My Goddess! Or any other character of any other anime that may, inadvertently or not, be within this story. They are the property of their respective authors. Characters and situations from those series are used without their consent. This is a work of fanfiction for which I do not expect nor will accept compensation.
This fiction is based upon Ranma 1/2, with strong influence from Ah! My Goddess and lesser cameos from the Sailors and possibly Tenchi.
------ Wildfire Chapter 7 ------
Her latest opponent stood ready before her, silent and unmoving, taunting her with its very silence. She studied it intently, seeking any signs of weakness. There! A flaw she could exploit. With a single careful strike, her opponent will be taken out while its innocent hostage remains unharmed. She carefully marshalled her strength and moved into position. The arrogant fool ignored her approach. She would show him! She would... NO! She would do this properly. Calmly. With purpose. With precision. Her arm drew back as she drew her breath. Like a viper, her arm snapped toward her target.
Her concentration shattered and the familiar rage snapped its fetters within her. Instead of a carefully modulated blow, her fist smashed into the cinder blocks at full force, crushing all of them. Fragments of the cement blocks bounced off the walls of the dojo and scattered debris across the mats.
Akane growled in frustration and glared toward the intruder. "What do you want," she growled through clenched teeth.
"Dinner is almost ready, dear."
"Fine, just, go away!"
The woman at the door hesitated, then stepped into the dojo. "Is there something wrong," she asked.
Akane's glare did not diminish. "Yes, 'Auntie', there is."
Nodoka's eyes gleamed oddly as she stepped closer. "Would you like to talk about it?"
Akane turned away from the woman and stomped over to the cleaning supplies. Snatching up a broom, she began the task of sweeping the debris into a pile. Powerful strokes of the broom sent the pieces of cement clattering noisily across the floor, failing utterly in the intended task of collecting them into a neat pile.
"Akane, it isn't polite to ignore your betters."
The angry teen froze for an instant before whirling to face the mother of her ex-fiance. "What did you just say," she hissed. Her face flushed crimson with her poorly contained fury.
Nodoka met the angry gaze impassively. "Mind your tone, young lady," she said tartly. "I said it isn't polite to ignore your elders. It certainly isn't proper for you to take that tone with me."
The Tendo girl glared mutely at the elder woman. "I won't hit her," she thought repeatedly to herself, as a form of mantra, attempting to calm down.
The two stared at each other for several heartbeats before the older woman broke the silence. "Can you not even apologize," she asked.
"I'm sorry," Akane growled, her glare no less intense and her tone not sounding apologetic at all. Nodoka, however, nodded anyway, as if her words were all that mattered.
"Good. Now, clean up here and then wash up," the auburn haired woman instructed as she turned and headed for the exit. "Dinner will be served shortly."
The soft thump of the door sliding closed was echoed by a louder snap within the dojo. Pain pierced the fog of anger, and drew Akane's attention to her hands. White knuckled hands held the snapped and splintered remains of the stout wooden broom handle.
Nodoka moved down the walkway from the dojo to the house proper. After several steps she stopped and shuddered slightly as a scream of rage erupted behind her. "Delicious," she moaned as a steady stream of expletives erupted from the dojo. At the sound of several objects striking the walls of the dojo near the door, she resumed her walk into the Tendo home, smiling all the way.
Keiichi Morisato watched Belldandy as she hugged the cat. "She looks so happy," he thought. To see her joy made him happy, too.
"May," she said, "...may we keep him?" The middle Norn's face filled with innocent hope as she looked at her mortal boyfriend. He couldn't refuse her.
"Sure," he said, thinking that sometimes, one had to go with fate. "But, he will need a name."
Belldandy gazed into the cat's eyes. "I know. I'll call him..."
"After all," Keiichi thought, "weren't they twinned souls?"
Velspar had been willing to end existence to be with Belldandy, Keiichi recalled. As Belldandy's doublet twin, he was to have forgotten about her and proceeded with his duties. Instead, the young demon had frozen his personal time at the exact time of their pairing and then, recently, tried to do the same to the world.
It seems that even in his punishment, Velspar sought her out.
Skuld's voice called from inside the temple, breaking his train of thought.
"We're out here," Belldandy anwered.
"I found one!" Skuld chirped as she ran out onto the veranda. "I finally found one!"
"I would have got him, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids," the younger Norn said. "But, I showed them."
"Oh?" Belldandy glanced toward Keiichi then asked her sister to explain.
"It all started last week when I asked Urd to help me..."
Keiichi watched quietly, enjoying his time spent with Belldandy, even if he wasn't alone with her. She had more than enough love in her for everyone. How could he begrudge that?
In a corner of the quiet room, a spark of light appeared upon the darkened glass of the television screen. The spark quickly swelled to fill the picture area with a brilliant white glow. The light erupted outward, flooding the darkened room. Streamers of illumination wrapped and twisted around as a pair of shapely bronzed legs slid out of the screen. The legs were quickly followed by the voluptuous and scantily clad torso and silver haired head of the eldest Norn. Urd completed the transit through her medium and settled to the floor of her room. The bright light dimmed to the eerie foxfire afterglow of the cooling phosphors coating the front of the cathode ray tube.
With a brief effort of will, her immaculate goddess robes shifted about and settled into a more mundane, though no less revealing, ensemble of shorts and tank top. Having settled her appearance so as to avoid drawing unwanted attention from unexpected visitors, if there were any then the attention would be definitely be wanted, the Norn of the past stepped into the hall. Upon exiting her room, she heard her sister's voices coming from outside.
"..when I asked Urd to help me, but she didn't. So, I went to Jubaan on my own."
"I am sure that Urd had a reason for not assisting you with this, Skuld."
The elder Norn decided to listen in on their conversation and find out what they were saying about her.
"You did say that a she merged with a small self," Belldandy said. "She probably reminded herself of something important."
"But, big sister, these bugs are important, too. Who knows what trouble they have caused all this time. If she had helped me, then he wouldn't have gotten away again, I just know it!"
Urd, sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Skuld," she thought, "I really didn't have time to stick around and help out with a pair of little system bugs."
"He?" Belldandy asked. "You didn't attempt to debug someone else by mistake, did you?"
"Someone else?" Urd wondered. What exactly had her younger sister been up to?
"No!" Skuld exclaimed, her voice switching from morose to excited. "That is the problem. The bug, the Beta I've told you about, it was IN a young mortal. That has to be how it escaped detection for so long. Not only that, once I got close enough I could tell that he had more than one bug, too. He isn't just one big bug. His file is infested with a whole collection of them!"
The middle Norn asked the youngest to elaborate.
"Well, they were all acting weird. When I got to the park, there was one messing with this class five mortal's emotions while another class five stood nearby staring at her. I took care of that one easily enough. Then there were all these others running around in circles, like they were lost, or something."
Urd smirked as she heard that. "They couldn't be any more lost than that Ryoga boy," she thought.
"And there were more that were falling into this hole in the ground. I used Mister Bug Zapper on them," Skuld said as she continued her explanation. "And then, while Mister Bug Zapper was gathering up the loose bugs, I found him. There were some more of those class fives standing around, though, so I triangulated my readings, just to be sure."
"Really? Were they there to debug him, too?"
"I don't think so. The park was all torn up, so maybe they did try. But, they called me a kid and didn't know what a bug was. One even asked if I was collecting them for school. Eugh!"
"Why would anyone want to collect bugs?" Belldandy asked.
"I don't know. Ask Keiichi. He's a mortal. Anyhow, there was the boy, just laying there. So, I showed them what I meant. I saw that he had more than one. One seemed to be affecting his emotions, like that class five I mentioned earlier, and another was attacking his spacial perception. There were more buried in there, so, I loaded a broad spectrum program debugger."
"Oh, my. What happened next."
"Well, after I squashed the first bug," Skuld explained, "I got another look at the other bugs he is carrying. One really strong bug seemed to be part of some sort of soul bond. Another was some sort of mana feed tied to temperature and water. He woke up before I could do anything else, though."
"Oh dear," Belldandy exclaimed. "Soul bonds aren't to be taken lightly, Skuld."
"I know. I told him I was taking care of a problem, but he avoided me." Skuld paused for a moment. When she continued, her voice had taken on an angry tone. "And then those dummies interrupted."
"The mortals I told you about earlier, Belldandy. Those three girls? The class fives?"
"Oh, go on."
"They should have been helping me debug him, not distracting me by saying 'hunks are for hugging the moon' and stuff like that. I, er, told them that they were dummies, collected Mister Bug Zapper and tried to follow the boy so I could finish the debugging. I searched for hours but couldn't catch up to him. Every time I got close, he would disappear..."
"That definitely sounds like Bandanna Boy," Urd thought.
"Skuld." Belldandy's quiet voice interrupted the younger Norn and drew Urd's attention back to the room.
"What did you do to them?"
Urd wasn't able to hear her youngest sister's muttered response, but Belldandy's reaction was clear. "Oh, dear. Skuld, that wasn't very nice. You know that, don't you?"
"But, they let him get away!"
"Look at it from their point of view," Belldandy reasoned. "What would you do if some unknown person came up to you and Sentaro and hit him?"
"That's not fair! It isn't the same."
"Oh? How so?"
"Belldandy, I know you are trying to help me find my own way, like you did with Sentaro. But, I really need help this time. I tried asking Urd, but she was too busy with 'other things' to help."
"She has been filling in for Peorth," Belldandy reminded her younger sister.
"This was before all that suff with... well, I mean, before that. Anyway, it took all my effort just to locate this one. Then Urd and I had to go check on the system. Now that I am back, I can't find him or the Alpha. I can't go on like this. I need your help!"
Urd twitched slightly as Skuld's complaint triggered a memory. A memory of a time she didn't want to remember.
The two elder Norns watched their youngest sister make her way up the stairs to renew the accord and meet her doublet twin.
"Urd, I can't go on like this. Not anymore," Skuld said, pain and exhaustion clear in her voice. "I need your help."
Urd glanced at her elder sister. "My help? Whatever for?"
"Since the end of the Third Age, it was decided that we would have primary responsibility in watching over her spirit in order to give Sol a chance at the normal mortal life that she never had. Since my domain is the future, it was believed that I would be the best choice to undertake that task."
"I know that, ya old hag," Urd quipped, attempting to lighten her sister's mood.
"Okay, squirt," Skuld shot back. "Do you also 'know' that I am tired?"
Skuld turned to face her younger sister. Her eyes, normally full of life, were dull and flat on her finely lined face. "When I was the youngest norn, I was given the task to watch over Sol's spirit. In that time, I have watched you and Velthandi reincarnate, grow into your position and reincarnate again, twice. I have witnessed the end of one age and the utter destruction of another. And, I have watched as Sol has been reincarnated countless times, only to die before her time. This last time was the final blow. I cannot do it again."
"Last time? What do you mean," Urd asked, "Sol has been reborn again, right?"
"No. Not exactly."
"What do you mean, no. I remember that day you had to go to Midguard to watch over her birth. You didn't mention anything was wrong when you got back, then. Why now?"
"Urd, she died before she could be born."
"What! How did that happen?"
"There was an automobile accident, while they were trying to get to the hospital. There shouldn't have been one. There wasn't one in any of the futures I could see, Urd. She should not have perished. Her mother should not have perished. Her father should not have perished.
"Sol should have been reborn that day to live her life in peace. Instead, a speeding motorist apparently failed to notice the traffic signal. While I was looking for them at the hospital, where the system had indicated they would be, the emergency services were trying to determine where one vehicle ended and the other began. If not for some unexpected assistance, I fear her spirit would be lost to us for another few generations. Instead, Sol's spirit was saved, for now."
Urd stared at her sister with a confused expressions. "If she was saved, then why hasn't she been reborn?"
"The one who helped me has not helped me yet, and cannot until it is no longer my responsibility to watch over Sol. Until then, there is far too much chaos, and the probabilities are too varied to sort them out."
"Helped but hasn't helped yet?" Urd asked before comprehension set it. "Oh, I get it. Time is involved."
"Right. I haven't been able to relinquish my duties while you and Velthan... I mean, Belldandy were growing up again. After today, you two won't need me as you have up to now. After today, I should be free pass on the responsibility for Sol and start over. Besides, those new fangled gadgets and technical flimflammery that will be appearing on Midgard need a fresh perspective."
"Why didn't you say something before now?"
"I couldn't." Skuld said, and sighed as she turned back to watch Belldandy's ceremony. "Saying anything before now would have served no purpose and could, in fact, have led to even greater problems. I couldn't tell her before now. She wasn't ready."
Urd followed Skuld's gaze. Belldandy was skipping down the stairs with a brilliant smile on her face. The pact was once again renewed.
"I need you to watch over her, Urd."
The Norn of the past nodded her head. "Of course," she said. Of course she would look after her little sister, she thought.
"She will need guidance with her power and duties."
"You've been good instructor, sis. I believe I can handle her."
"I know you can. Remember, you cannot directly intervene without Father's permission."
Urd looked at her older sister, and met her gaze. "Intervene?"
"Only when she awakens, may you make yourself known to her."
Urd glanced back toward Belldandy, currently receiving a hug from Father, and then returned her gaze once more to Skuld. "But..."
"No! There can be no exceptions! Her seal, and the seal upon the others is linked. You cannot take any action that alters her life, for good or ill. To do so could release the others before she is ready to face them."
"Skuld, you are talking about Belldandy, right?"
"Of course not. Urd, I am asking you to take my place as Sol's guardian."
"WHAT?! But, but I..."
"You are soon to be the eldest Norn. Ultimately, Sol remains our responsibility. Belldandy is not old enough to bear this burden. You are."
"But, how can you be sure? How can you know that? I only just got off my suspention."
Skuld smiled and hint of warmth returned to her tired eyes. "I know, Urd. I know because I have taught you all that I can. I know because, arguments aside, we are sisters. And, I know, because it was you that helped me that day when I thought she was gone forever."
Urd stared at her elder sister, flabbergasted. "But. I mean. And then. Blast it all. Why are you doing this to me, ya old hag?"
"Urd, of all the gods or goddesses, you will be able to relate to her the most once she awakens."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I... I can't tell you. You can look it up once you have access to her file, though."
"What if I don't want to accept this? What if I refuse?"
"In that case, we have a hiccup in the timeline," Skuld answered softly, "with some potentially... unfortunate consequences for Midguard."
"So, I have no choice."
"Of course you have a choice, Urd. But please, let me rest. I know you have it in you to do this."
Silence fell between the two as Urd thought it through. From her memories, Skuld had always been the there to guide her as she grew and learned. The elder Norn was there when she and Mara had that fight, ending the friendship between the two half-sisters. She was there when Urd had finally achieved her first spell, unaided. Skuld was even there to comfort her when she met her... her angel for the first and only time. She couldn't, and wouldn't refuse to help now.
"Alright," Urd agreed, finally. "I'll do it."
The eldest Norn smiled warmly and enveloped her younger sibling in a tight hug. "Thanks, squirt."
"Stop calling me squirt, ya old hag!"
Shuld pushed her back to arms length and smiled at her. She could see a mischevious glint in her elder sister's eyes once again. "Okay," she said as she nodded. "But remember, what comes around, goes around, dear sister. Now, let's go congratulate Belldandy."
That day, as Urd remembered it, was a time of joy and sorrow for the Norns. Belldandy continued the pact between the divine and infernal, even though events of the last week had shown that Velspar violated the pact. Skuld handed down responsibility for Sol and reincarnated, becoming the youngest Norn for the first time since the end of the Third Age. And Urd discovered that, while the exchange of duties was underway, her new charge was very nearly killed, again, in the name of 'training.'
The discussion had, at some point during her fugue, turned away from Skuld's excursion into Tokyo and on to some cat that Belldandy was adopting. Something about that bothered Urd. She leaned against the wall just inside the door leading out to where her sisters were seated and thought about that feeling for a moment. "What," she wondered, "was it about that concept of a cat living here that bothers me?"
Seconds later, she was back in her room quickly laying out the patterns for a small gate spell. Although not required to get to her destination, the runes would help stabilize the portal, allowing it to remain open longer and thereby allowing her to the time to properly introduce herself to her charge.
"I forget all about her being there," she thought. "With Velspar's attacks on the system and all, it was probably for the best that she was out of the way, though. Still, there is no reason to leave her there alone."
In short order, she finished the focusing runes and stood at the focal point. A quick incantation followed, opening a blue portal across space and time to the demi-plane on which she had left her charge. Without further delay, Urd moved though the glowing portal and vanished from Midgard.
After what seemed to her to be an instant in time, Urd floated out of the portal terminus. "This can't be right," Urd muttered as she looked about herself with a confused expression on her face. The observatory looked nothing like it had when she dropped Sol's incarnation off a few weeks prior. Instead of a simple pavilion, reminiscent of recent Greek and Roman style, with fluted marble and crystal columns, a wood and paper structure, far larger than the expected pavilion, surrounded the portal focus.
She briefly wondered if she had somehow miscast the spell to open the portal, but a quick glance at the still open portal assuaged that concern. Although this structure resembled the temple she and her sisters currently lived in, the floor plan was more open in this one, and, at the same time, was smaller. The translucent gateway stone, the primary focus for any portal to or from this demi-plane, was centered in the room, flush with the wooden floor.
Her examination of the alterations were interrupted by a voice from behind.
"Hello, Urd. I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten about me."
She turned and found herself breast to face with the raven haired male form of her charge. "H-hey, kiddo," she said, attempting to cover her surprise as she quietly moved away from him. "I'm sorry you had to wait a couple of days. Things were unstable there for a bit, and I was needed in sys-ops to help keep it all online."
"A couple of days," the trainee god echoed in a tone devoid of emotion. "What d'ya mean, 'a couple of days,' Urd?"
"Look, I had to leave in a hurry. I know that I did not have the opportunity to explain how to access the system from here, but..."
"You left without even checking, Urd," he snapped, interrupting her.
"Checking? Without checking, what?"
"You dropped me off, in this little slice of paradise, and told me to learn about my past."
"And, then," he said, interrupting her again, "you leave without bothering to show me how to do that or even checking to see if it was the right time for me to be here."
"Right time?" Urd repeated as her expression hardened in response to the young man's accusing tone. "What, did you want me to leave you helpless in Ryoga's tender care?"
"Ryoga, even at his worst, wouldn't have hurt me," he countered.
"Look kiddo, if I hadn't pulled your cute butt away from him, he very well might have killed you!"
"And so, you 'rescue' me from Ryoga, show me the first time you messed with my life and then dumped me here."
"Well," Urd muttered, "I wouldn't say 'dumped.'"
"You knew that the Ultimate Force wouldn't let me leave."
"You don't know how to use your powers yet. Without some control, you could have caused considerable damage."
"I've had more than enough time to figure that part out, Urd."
"Oh, come on, Ranma. Are you back to that again? Like I said, it's been only a couple of days..."
"Try a couple of years," Ranma shot back firmly.
"... longer than I... what?"
"It has been over two YEARS, Urd," Ranma declared as the silver tressed goddess shook her head.
"That..." she said, "That's not possible."
"I've had to live thought it, all over again, Urd. This time, thought, I was stuck here, only able to watch as my life got sucked out of me every time I got hammered, punched, or otherwise attacked," he explained. "But, I figured out how it happened."
"So, why don't you explain what you think happened to me, then."
"Remember," Ranma said," back to when you 'rescued' me from Ryoga."
Urd nodded. "Haven't we already gone over that," she asked.
"Sure, but what did you do next?"
"I brought you here, so you would be safe and wouldn't disrupt Midgard until you learned control."
"Nope, not quite. I got to watch that a little while ago," he said with a strained smile, "perhaps a couple of days back. Did you forgot a little trip to show me how we first met."
Urd started to shake her head but stopped as she was reminded of that night's events. "Oh, right. I took you back... and... Oh, no!"
"Right. You took me back two years in time and made me watch as you talked to me on the cliff over Jusenkyou. Then, instead of coming back to the present, you opened another portal here, dropped me off, limited my powers and jumped back through the portal. Sound familiar?"
"But, that shouldn't matter."
"Stranding me here for two years shouldn't matter? SHOULDN'T MATTER? What is your problem, Urd. Of course it matters. I very nearly went insane!"
"It shouldn't matter because, after all, this plane exists outside of normal time and space. All you have to do is adjust the system settings from the access terminal, and you can adjust your time frame to match any time index you have access to."
"And, just when are you going to get around to showing me HOW to access the terminal, Urd?"
"That what I'm... here..." Urd's voice trailed off as realization set it. "Oh," she finished softly.
"Finally. Do you understand, now?"
The silver tressed goddess shook her head, "That wasn't supposed to have happened." She paused, then added, "it isn't enough, but I am truly sorry that it did."
Ranma met her gaze with his own cool blue eyes then sighed and turned away from her. "You're right, It isn't enough. I can't forgive ya. Not yet. You gotta earn my forgiveness. Urd."
"Earn it? How?"
"You brought me here in order to give me time to learn about Haisano and my past lives. I've only been able to view some of Haisano's past, once I figured out how to access the memories of the trees. As for my past as Ranma, I've lived it twice now, since my first trip to Jusenkyou, so I think I've had enough of that..."
"'Memories of the trees,'" she interrupted, "What are you talking about?"
Ranma turned back to face her, slashing a hand through the air in a chopping motion. "We're talking about you teaching me," he snapped hotly, "not me teaching you, Urd! After shoving this kami crap upon me and then abandoning me here, you owe me."
Urd's eyes narrowed and she frowned at him. "'Owe' you?" She echoed frostily as she met his glare with one of her own as lightning began dancing across her clenched fists. "Fine then, I think I DO have something to 'teach' you, after all."
------ end Wildfire Chapter 7 Draft------