Chapter Thirty: Interrogation
Lars sat quietly in the interrogation room of the small safe house Heaven had prepared for individuals like him, the ones who they really wanted to talk to but didn't trust to actually bring beyond the Gates of Heaven. It was the sort of thing usually used for potential demonic informants and the like, but Lars was most definitely the most unusual guest they had ever featured within their halls.
For one, they had never met someone who could be so polite and yet so utter unhelpful. Repeatedly he had given them the basic facts that he knew, but he had also repeatedly stated that he had absolutely no intention of getting involved in their politics and he would only help them in a way that would help him get home presuming he did not lead them back to his home.
The most frustrating bit though was that all of their psychic probes revealed him to be honest in his statements and completely terrifying to get too close to mentally. They could hear the other minds subsumed within him if they tried to get anything more than surface scans, something that frightened them all to their core for such a thing should be impossible, and yet here he was.
Many advocated killing him outright as a threat to Creation. Only the fact that he held so many souls within him and they had no idea how to get them out safely prevented them from taking action.
Finally, after several days, Lars said, "Look… its not that I can't see where you are all coming from, but I think we can all agree that as much as I scare you, you all scare me. I can feel it in all of you, the surging power to rewrite reality if you want, and as much as that scares me, if I lead you back to my home, the damage that could result scares me more."
It was an enlightening moment for some of those looking on. He was an Outsider, something that did not belong, something anathema to the order they had crafted, to the structure of the universe they knew so well. He had acknowledged the fact that he required the consumption of mortal souls to perpetuate his own existence and had volunteered to have this nature hoisted upon him. And yet despite the feeling of unease they felt around him, he was behaving just like a man trying to protect his family.
Which was why on the fifth day, a very confused Keiichi Morisato found himself in the little white interrogation room across from Lars.
"Well this is interesting," Lars commented.
"I uh… I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do here," Keiichi said.
Grinning, Lars said, "You're here to talk to me Keiichi-san. It's not a bad tactic really, if a bit sloppy. See, in this session I'm probably going to learn more from you than you or your friends will learn from me, but since you're an amateur and a mortal, I won't be able to get much of substance out of you. The point though is that over several sessions they hope that you will develop a rapport with me and thus I will be freer with my words."
Keiichi blinked and looked at the two way mirror helplessly.
"Oh relax man, to a certain degree I'm going to let it work, partly because I wouldn't mind hearing a good story or two, partly because I know from working with you that you're a good man," Lars replied.
"I wouldn't say that…" Keiichi began before being cut off.
"No. Shut up now. You are a good man, emphasis on both parts. I've met a lot of people in my life, and I know the difference between good and evil, even if where I come from the distinctions are significantly more muddled than here. You are kind and patient and you somehow have the heart of a goddess. A freaking goddess. And not the kind like I have with the thrones of skulls, but an actual glowing with holy light goddess. Unless the basic standards of manhood around here involving eating armed thermonuclear warheads and farting kittens while banging a harem of supermodels, I'm fairly certain you qualify as having balls of solid titanium in the manliness department," Lars told Keiichi with more passion than the young man was used to seeing.
By the time Lars had finished ranting Keiichi's face was bright red as he knew that Belldandy was watching through the glass to make sure nothing happened to him. He really hoped Urd wasn't watching as she would definitely bring that up later.
"It's nothing really, I…" Keiichi began again.
"Live with a goddess. Listen, I know it might be different here, but where I come from that's a huge freaking deal. Do you know how much power she carries around with her? Well, I'm a psychic, and it's like looking at the sun. And she freaking loves you, with every inch of her being. If you got a girl who loved you that much and she was mortal, I would punch you out of principle for being such a magnificent bastard. But no, you had to go one higher and get the girl with not just a beautiful body and soul, but administrative access over the universe. The fact that you're not strutting about like a peacock about the fact that you have the love of Belldandy-sama actually makes me angry, because you're just that good. Gah!" Lars ranted. He then put his head in his hand in irritation and said, "Sorry… sorry. I got carried away. I'm not really angry at you."
Keiichi looked at the mirror and asked, "Did one of you threaten Lars-san psychically?"
Shaking his hand, Lars said, "No, but thank you for your concern. My wife was just telling me to shut up because I was scaring the boy. Sorry. I was really angrier with myself than anything."
"What's… what's wrong Lars-san?" Keiichi asked.
Frowning a bit, Lars slumped down into his chair and looked to be choosing his words carefully for a moment before he said, "I look at you and I remember how angry I was with myself after my wife died. I was out fishing when a massive explosion flash melted Antarctica. The tidal waves and rapidly rising water levels devastated coastal cities across the planet, including where we lived. I was more or less safe on my boat while she drowned. Afterwards, all I could think about was how little time I had with her, how little of our lives we had lived together. Then I see you, and how low your confidence is, and you should be living your life to the fullest. You should have the confidence to go up to the Pope and tweak his nose, not because you know you'll be bailed out, but because you should be just that full of life. How did you even get the attention of someone like Belldandy-sama?"
Keiichi rubbed the back of his neck in nervousness before he began. He told about how he had met Belldandy, and then it got going from there. For hours he just talked while Lars listened raptly, and every time someone tried to cut the conversation short Lars just held up a hand and said, "I'll talk more after this, please, let him continue."
Finally, after ending with the confrontation with Celestine a month or so back, Lars got up out of his chair, walked over to Keiichi, placed his hands on his shoulders, looked him in the eye and said, "Balls. Of. Neutronium. Kid, I don't know what you have in your head that is getting in your way, but seriously, marry her. Marry her, and make sweet, sweet love until the Grim Reaper himself taps you on the shoulder to let you know that you should take a break before overdoing it."
"But…" Keiichi began, embarrassed.
Shaking his head, Lars replied, "I don't want to hear any bullshit excuses. You could nut Kensuke Aida, one of two superhuman military commanders from my world, and he would just be like 'Damn, that's Keiichi Morisato; I don't want to mess with him!' because you are simply that bad ass. I know you don't think it, but you've stood up to gods and demons and told them to back off, and they have. You have nothing to be scared of. You love Belldandy and she loves you, stop messing around and just say it!"
"I…" Keiichi began again before Lars held up a hand and then walked back down to take a seat.
"Alright, you've talked my ear off, now its time for me to return the favour, and satisfy the interests of our hosts. Let me put it this way: where I come from, strength in all of its forms is extremely valued. We have a highly Darwinian society at times, and combat is common amongst individuals. Young boys in their early teens will often compete in gladiatorial death matches for the right to be chosen to be turned into genetically modified super soldiers. One group is a bunch of fanatics obsessed with bloodshed and taking the skulls of their enemies to appease their goddess. They're about two and a half to three metres tall, wear power armour adorned with kill trophies, and wield chainsaw axes, to list the obvious ways in which they are dangerous. However, if you told them your story, they would bow to you in awe and respect. There's another group of these soldiers whose idea of worshipping their goddess is to play host to just about every disease imagined and then simply deal with the pain to the point where stopping them involves incinerating the body. They would saint you for your ability to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. Our head deity would probably try to adopt you into the family for simply being as awesome as you are. Pretty much the only guys who wouldn't grovel in amazement to you are the worshippers of our passion goddess who would be using very vulgar language to try and convince you to have large amounts of kinky sex with Belldandy-sama as often as possible. Of course, once you actually score with her, then they would be throwing the flowers at your feet. To put it simply, my culture is violent, crass, over-sexed, scheming, and some might say evil and you would be a celebrity there and you wouldn't have to change a thing about yourself, you are just that incredible. The words do not exist to express how much I am amazed by your compassion, tenacity, patience, humility, and capacity for love. Should I return home, my report will be, 'I have met the greatest man in the multiverse and his name is Keiichi Morisato, and we should be humbled to know his name.' That is all that needs to be said," Lars said with as much emphasis and sincerity he could muster.
Keiichi tried to stop the speech, tried to stop Lars' praise, but he felt transfixed by him. As much as he wanted to deny all the things said, Keiichi knew that Lars would be deeply disappointed in him if he tried to sell himself short again. Of all the people Keiichi had met, no one had ever heaped such praise on him, and as much as it felt undeserved, he could feel that Lars felt it was the truth.
"Kid, live your life," Lars said.
The next day, a very angry looking child deity kicked in the door to the interrogation room while brandishing her mallet and roared out, "WHAT DID YOU DO?"
She was then tackled from behind by the flustered members of the security detail, who dragged the young goddess to the ground in a pile of flailing limbs with much screaming.
Lars blinked twice before he replied, "Well this is a new tactic."
As the security gods hauled the young goddess to her feet, she spat out again, "What did you do to my big sister?" before the guards started to carry her out.
Making the connection to the stories Keiichi had said the previous day, Lars shouted out, "Wait! You're Skuld-sama, right?"
The guards paused and looked at one another for a moment, trying to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, Skuld said, "Yes."
"If it's alright with you two, I'd like to talk to her," Lars said.
One of the guards said, "We'll talk to our superiors," before closing the door.
A few minutes later Skuld returned to the room, although this time disarmed and having a large degree of sulk mixed in with her righteous fury. One of the guards just glared at her before shutting the door.
"So I take it this has something to do with Keiichi-sama and Belldandy-sama's relationship and some of the, shall we say 'words' I used with him yesterday?" Lars asked.
"I knew you did this. For years now he's been trying to take my big sister away, and then I find out today that he and sister have been… making out," Skuld said in an absolutely aghast voice.
Lars' reaction was definitely not what she had expected, for Lars immediately launched out of his chair, punching the sky while shouting, "YES!" He then proceeded to begin dancing while chanting, "Go Keiichi! Go Keiichi!"
"It's not funny!" Skuld cried out, and Lars suddenly noticed that she was on the verge of tears.
Stopping his dance, Lars said, "Look… I've heard stories from Keiichi-sama about how you don't exactly approve of his relationship with your sister…"
"Oh yeah, take his side," Skuld pouted.
"…and while I'm normally something of a coward terrified of death, Keiichi-sama has inspired me to say this. You're a bitch. In fact, you're an absolutely selfish cunt," Lars finished.
Skuld's mouth was hanging open in utter shock at being called that.
Turning to the two way mirror, Lars added on as an aside, "Also, if your sister Urd is listening in, while your heart is definitely in the right place, you're a bitch too- although from descriptions you might take that as a compliment."
Turning back to the still stunned Skuld, Lars looked at her and said, "Belldandy loves Keiichi. Keiichi loves Belldandy. They wantto be together. When you stand between them, it hurts both of them. I know my guards probably roll their eyes every time I get all effusive and hyperbolic of my praise of him, but the guy has earned the right to be happy with your sister. Leave. Them. Alone!"
Skuld did burst into tears now.
Lars winced and he said to no one in particular, "Okay! Okay! I'll apologize to the girl! But you know I've always been a bitter, blunt old sailor and my ascension to Chaos hasn't helped."
This caused Skuld to pause in her tears and look up. She asked, "Wait… did you just say 'chaos'?"
Lars pinched the brow of his nose and muttered, "Oh great Lars, you managed to go six whole days without mentioning the word 'Chaos' and now you blow it."
Rising from her seat, Skuld pointed an accusing finger at him and said, "We've had a huge number of bugs in Yggdrasil since you arrived, so many that I've been away almost non-stop debugging. Not only did you fill their minds with icky thoughts, but you made sure they would be unsupervised!"
Lars opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it, and then held up his hand in a stalling action.
Skuld looked at him funny before she asked, "What wicked plan do you have now?"
"I'm waiting for the situation to inevitably get worse. At this point something will come along placing me in some form of existence threatening peril and I will be forced to rise to the occasion or die whimpering," Lars explained.
"Are you insane?" Skuld asked.
"Yes, but it gives excellent insight into the workings of the universe. Wait for it… wait for it…"
The building was rocked by an explosion and someone cried out, "We're under attack!"
Lars wore a smug yet defeated look and said, "Told you so."