Second Class Soul
By Valk the Talk
Disclaimer: I still don't own anything of Ranma 1/2, and Ah! My Goddess is a big fat zilch also. Oh wells.
Deep inside the Yggdrasil Computing Branch there is a special office called the Special Cases Division, in which only most extreme and odd selections of humanity reside. The job here is as complex as it is simple: keep an eye on these extraordinary mortals and make sure that their lives don't ruin the rest of Creation. Basically it's a high profile watch list. Occasionally, as Demon's have the same people on their list, it's to make sure if one is affected that the balance stays fair. Each individual has their own separate terminal, and a Goddess stationed there to monitor the conditions of these mortals. It is not a rewarding job, which is why while important it's an assignment on a rotation, making sure no one stays down here for too long.
There's also the problem that time flows differently in Asgard than it does in on Midgard, the mortal plane. A year or three might be two hours, a week, several months; it happens to be relative depending on the status of the temporal conditions at the time. Which is exactly why operators have to keep an eye on the terminals and make sure nothing goes awry.
Skuld was not having a good time. It was her turn in the rotation, and it just had to be right after Urd pulled another one over on her.
Banpei is not meant to wear a dress and serve tea! You just wait, I'll see how you like having all your alcohol thrown out! Though that wasn't the only reason she disliked her current placement. Though it would probably only equate to a few days of her being gone, those were days Keiichi might try to coerce Belldandy! You better stay away from my sister, or I swear—I swear I'll…! The computer beeped several times in front of her, distracting her from her tirade on how she'd hurt Keiichi for even thinking of touching Belldandy.
"Shut up!" She hit the ok button several times until the warnings went away. Someone walking by looked over and laughed at her. Unhappy, she looked over at the passerby. "What's so funny?" Her frown only amused the passerby all the more.
"That's the Saotome terminal. That thing is always beeping, you better get used to it." She was a very tanned goddess, almost as tanned as Urd, with a bright smile and a bright blonde hair that slipped down to her waist. "I'm Kata, you're new here?"
"Ya, this is my first time. I'm Skuld," Skuld blushed a little, admitting anything less than proficient expertise was not her favorite thing to do, and was especially hard to admit she was new at something.
"Ah, that'd explain it. And they stick you with this one? Man, what did you do, Skuld?" Her smile never slipped, if anything it got brighter.
"Uh, nothing I don't think?" Skuld was slightly confused now; it seemed she had been stuck with a rather complex case, and her first time at bat. No sooner had the thought occurred to her the terminal beeped three more times. She turned and started to read the warnings this time when Kata laughed again.
"There's no point reading those, they're just stating that something happened in his file that is considered strange for mortals and should be investigated." Skuld's eyes contracted a bit, something not sounding right.
"But…isn't this whole room dedicated for that very purpose?" Skuld asked, now fully confused at the situation. Just what was this office all about?
"Yup! Everyone in here gets an extraordinary amount of those warnings, which is why we put them here. Drives standard operators crazy when they're trying to keep an eye out for strange things happening among the normal populace. Like those over there?" She pointed to the section farther down where a clump of terminals were close together. "That's the Sailor Senshi section. Anyone affiliated with those girls gets plenty of Investigate and Reports, or IR's as we call 'em. And over there," she pointed to the one only a few away but behind Skuld, "that belongs to Urashima, poor guy." She shook her head for emphasis, but never lost that smile, which Skuld wasn't sure where the enjoyment was in "poor Urashima's" suffering.
"But you," she emphasized with a grin and a pointed finger at Skuld, "won the contest. Saotome's a regular chaos magnet. All of the computers here beep more than normal, but his takes the cake. You just wait, you'll be clicking through OK's like I go through coffee. And I love coffee—it's my secondary energy source on Midgard," she further explained with a shrug. Skuld's terminal beeped again with now four more messages. She groaned.
"Like I said, best get used to it. After a certain period of time you'll need to comb through the file and see if there's anything that needs actual work done about it or if it's just another strange day in Nerima." Kata sipped her cup, which Skulk now noticed in her other hand.
"How often do we check the file?" Skuld asked as finally a few other computers beeped at the same time, noting it came from something labeled the "Ayasaki Hayate" section. Finally, not mine for once.
"About as often as it comes time for you to pass off duty to the next on the rotation. If there's anything truly worrying it'll let you know it. Anyway, back to the grind, see ya!" Kata left with a wave, her smile never dropping.
She was weird, Skuld mused, turning back to face the terminal and sighed. Which brought up three more alerts. She sighed again.
"Belldandy!" Skuld cried as she answered the phone at her desk. She hadn't heard from her sister in days, and was excited to hear her voice again.
"How is everything going Skuld-chan?" Her sister intoned sweetly on the other end.
"Oh nee-san, it's so annoying! All I do is click through alerts all day, and I swear I got the worst one in the office! It does nothing but beep all the time! I even got bored enough to check through his file a bit at the recent activity and it's crazy things like magic age-changing mushrooms and some weird mirror!" Skuld whined, relieved that she could finally complain to her elder sister, whom she missed terribly.
"I know, but it's not this person's fault, Skuld. If anything it's good to keep an eye on them for potential wishes; it does sound like this person's having a hard life." That's my nee-san, Skuld though, smiling as she basked in her company, always so caring about everyone, even some random weirdo she'd never met.
"I know nee-san, I know. I'm doing my job properly." She wanted to roll her eyes at that thought, as there was very little to do here, but Skuld kept on staring at that terminal. She'd started making bets on how many times it'd beep an hour. "So how is everything down there? Are you alright? How long has it been?" Temporal mechanics could be a right pain in the—
Suddenly a siren went off, and it sounded like it was coming from her terminal. Looking over she saw several huge boxes that were filled with writing, but the siren was absolutely piercing and she couldn't hear her sister! Hitting ok several times, the siren silenced, and everything returned to normal. Several operators looked at her, but when they saw what terminal she was at, shook their heads and turned back to work.
"What was that Skuld? Is everything alright?" Belldandy asked, concern emanating over the phone.
"It's fine, nee-san, just another warning. I'll check it later. Just talk to me, I feel like it's been so long!" The conversation from there took on the aspect of Belldandy running down her normal day with Keiichi, making Skuld only more angry as time progressed as her sister spoke at length about some convoluted plan Urd had concocted about trying to get them to visit a special hotel.
"Well Skuld I have to go now, it's time to make dinner. Keep up the hard work, and we'll see you home soon, alright?" Belldandy intoned, her calm affecting Skuld even over the Goddess lines.
"Ok nee-san, see you soon. Be careful! I miss you!" It took another several minutes before Skuld could bear to hang up with her sister, and that's all the time it took for her to forget about the siren from earlier.
On Midgard, Ranma Saotome held Akane in his arms as he helped restore her to life with the special Jusendo water, and Saffron had been reduced to an egg once more. This time however, the egg would remain shut as another boom sounded, though this one sounded like the pounding of a gavel some ways off in the distance.
Dripping slightly, Ranma walked down the thoroughfare with a fatalistic smile on her face. She wanted to sigh, but knew it would be ultimately pointless. The universe will just find something else for me to sigh about, so I might as well just get used to it. Remembering back to his last talk with Kasumi; that seemed to be her best advice.
"Accept it and move on, Ranma-kun. You're never going to live a simple life. Extraordinary people live extraordinary lives, with all that entails. Once you decided to be the best, you accepted the responsibilities that went with it. One day the scale will even out, trust me." A gentle smile was her absolute assurance in what she'd said, and moved on to sweep the front step.
The talks with Kasumi had helped since he'd returned from Jusendo Valley. She had been very concerned with the well-being of her sister's and Akane especially. Even still, she tried to help Ranma out making sense of his life as well, something that Ranma deeply and utterly appreciated.
Suddenly, she heard the takoyaki vendor shouting something about the last batch of the day going free. Oh I'm there. I don't even have to play cutesie!
Ranma ran up with inhuman speed, knowing that it was an easy victory—no one could top Ranma Saotome's speed when she was determined… and especially in girl form. Except someone arrived at the same moment in the same spot Ranma was attempting to occupy, out of nowhere it seemed.
Now, it's a universal law that one object cannot reside in the same space as other while on the same plane of existence. So this law was put to effect when Ranma crashed into the person in question at high speed, knocking herself back and the woman several feet in the opposite direction.
Oh yes, Ranma had ran over some poor woman. Kami, I hope I didn't hurt her too bad! Ranma felt terrible, groaning while she managed to stand up and making several dark remarks about suddenly appearing people despite being concerned about the downed woman who looked like a tanned Swedish supermodel… who was standing up irritably like nothing happened.
"Huh…," Ranma intoned, tilting her head some as the leggy tanned woman stood up grumbling. She shook her hair out several times, and Ranma watched as it fluttered in the breeze, her long tresses resembling moonlight, the silvery platinum look with flecks of black causing a slight flush on her cheeks. I've never seen hair like that before, Ranma said to herself as the woman turned around, severely annoyed. She wore a strange revealing dress that cut down the middle in a V, covering the essentials but revealing much more than Ranma knew women to normally do.
"Hey, what's the big idea trying to tackle me, huh?" She strode up to Ranma and set her hands on her hips, obviously no worse for wear.
"Sorry, I was running over here and you got in my way," Ranma figured she should apologize, but the fact wasif she hadn't been there she wouldn't have been hit. Beat that logic!
"I got in your way, huh? And why were you running at me slightly under the speed of sound again? I have to admit, I don't swing that way, girly." Ranma's eye twitched. Girly?
"Ya, you did get in my way. I was gonna have this free takoyaki here when you just appeared outta nowhere. Ain't my fault. And I have to admit, once your hair's gone gray you're a little out of my age range, lady." Ranma smirked as the woman's left eye twitched.
"Well, it's not my fault you were too slow. And I'm sorry; I think my hearing must be going. You weren't attempting to infer anything about me being old were you?" The woman managed to say all that with such a sweet smile, it was scary how her teeth remained clenched the whole while. Ranma's eyes widened a bit as a visible aura began to show, like a yellow glow radiating from her tanned skin. People knew what this meant, and everyone on the street bolted for safety.
"Nah, no inferring from me," Ranma remarked, sporting his most annoying smirk possible, "I was simply stating it outright. I mean damn, how old do you have to be to have gray hair that long?"
The woman simply glared, power radiating from her like a faucet on full force. After a moment she bared her teeth, tensed like she was going to jump Ranma, then closed her eyes and began to count.
Now, Ranma wasn't stupid. She could feel the power dripping of this person. Whoever she was, she was either as powerful or possibly more so than Herb… hell maybe even Saffron. It had been so long since she'd had a good brawl, however. Stepping back, Ranma's smirk widened a little as she prepared.
"What are you doing, trying to count how many decades you've been around? You can borrow my hands when you run out of room on yours, ya know." And here it comes.
The woman's eyes snapped open, a fearsome growl was let loose and she dived at Ranma, a fist raised. Damn, she was fast! But…
Ranma whirled around the punch and quickly forced it to the side, allowing the woman's force to flow right by herself, into the wall of the building the takoyaki cart had been stationed by, resulting in a wonderfully large spider-web crack in the concrete. But I'm faster, Ranma grinned. She backed up, knowing this was far from over. The woman wasn't as skilled as Ranma (at least that's the initial read she got) but the power was through the roof.
Separating herself slowly from the wall, she turned to look at Ranma venomously. Other than maybe some redness, her perfect skin was still intact, despite the sizable damage to the solid concrete wall. Ranma blinked at this, but smiled. This is going to be a great work out!
"Sorry, was I supposed to let you hit me?" Ranma sounded in her most innocent voice possible. The woman simply shrieked in response and extended her hand. There was no warning or time to react. A bolt of what appeared to be lightning shot across and hit Ranma square in the chest, knocking her into the clothing store across the way, through the wall.
Several seconds passed as Ranma blinked, laying in the rubble crashing through the wall created, and occasionally twitching as the electricity worked its way through her nervous system. Focusing her chi, Ranma was able to cleanse her pathways quicker than what was normally humanly possible.
Regaining her feat with only a few trembles and general unsteadiness, Ranma again smirked, as the woman who'd previously been cycling through grinning and worry suddenly gaped.
"Oh, so we're using special attacks now? Fair enough." Ranma's body began glowing blue as she focused her confidence. Smirking at the woman's google-eyed look, she struck.
"Moko Takabisha!" The bright blue ball of confidence soared toward her target and the woman only regained her composure at the last moment, diving with a distinct lack of grace out of the way just in time. Growling, the woman returned fire with her bolts of lightning, and the battle began in full force.
There weren't very many physical attacks that Ranma was able to land, maybe a trip here and there or a longer side kick, but the woman was fast and mainly a ranged technique user, though to be honest whatever she was using to fuel those lightning attacks, it wasn't chi. Ranma found herself intrigued despite the seriousness of the battle. Finally, a lull seemed to find its way into the fight, and both participants relaxed a little, eyeing each other with mutual respect, though on the woman's part it was only matched by her ire toward Ranma.
"So, give up yet?" Ranma said as evenly as she could, resisting the urge to pant. Her chi levels were getting dangerously low from throwing around so many ranged attacks. To be honest, it annoyed her no small amount that while she was quite winded, the woman only seemed to be breathing hard due to constant exertion. The fact of the matter was Ranma could tell no difference in her aura. In other words, if she was weakening like Ranma was, Ranma couldn't tell. It wasn't a good sign.
"Not on your life," despite her scowl, a faint grin was present on the woman's face. Ranma wondered if she was having as much fun, granted she seemed in the better position for the moment. And then that moment passed.
"Nee-san! What's going on here?" A new girl was coming now, this one looked younger. Brunette, hair just as long but pony-tailed, and the same aura of supreme power the other woman possessed but more refined, almost relaxing in its depth.
"Oh shit," the woman uttered, losing all her fight at once. Ranma knew it was over, and relaxed herself—slightly. It never hurt to be careful, after all.
"Urd! Have you been fighting? With a mort—nice young woman?" The woman gaped, looking over at Ranma, who grinned at her. So her name was Urd, huh? Knew she was a weird one.
"Belldandy… she started it!" Urd pointed, somewhat feebly. The younger woman continued to frown, and in moments the one called Urd visibly wilted, looking utterly cowed.
"Ya know, she's kinda right. I did run into her," Ranma said, deciding since she'd had her fun she should do what she could, "and I guess I coulda minded my tongue better." She laced her fingers and held her arms behind her head in a relaxed position, popping several joints in a pleasant sensation. "That was a great spar, thanks. I needed that."
Both women gaped at her with some incredulity, and Ranma simply blinked back at them.
What, exactly, was never answered. Another bolt of lightning arched its way across the sky, though this time it struck the dirt between them with a blast of charged air. Ranma stood stock still amazed at what had just happened. This wasn't a chi technique, or whatever Urd had been doing, this came from straight up to hit the ground. In its wake, the strike left the women even more stunned than before, and also if Ranma was reading the situation right, a little frightened. Urd gulped loud enough Ranma could hear it from where she was several feet away.
"Well, guess we'd best be on our way. I'll take your friend, nee-san. Why don't you go ahead?" Urd nodded slowly, and turned down the street, finally heading into an electronics shop. Belldandy approached Ranma, and while she was used to battles, Ranma couldn't help relaxing around her. Every single fiber of her screamed non-combatant, Ranma simply couldn't keep it together. Arriving in front of Ranma, she bowed deeply.
"Hello, my name is Belldandy. I'm very sorry about my sister, Urd. She can be very hot-headed at times," Belldandy intoned seriously, but with a pleasant aura. Ranma sighed, starting to feel bad.
"Ranma Saotome. Look, that may be true but like I said I baited her into it, don't hold it against her too much." Belldandy smiled a sad little smile, one that Ranma took as to say You don't understand.
"That may be so, but regardless my sister is a powerful… being, who should under no circumstances fight with someone like you." As Belldandy explained, she became more nervous with each word. Ranma had caught the magic word though, and latched onto it.
"Powerful… being? What are you guys? Can't be Dragon clan… Phoenix? You don't look very birdlike… " Ranma had his hand on his jaw, suddenly studying Belldandy for physical characteristics that denoted her people. Yet, other than the strange facial tattoo's, she seemed utterly normal.
Belldandy, however, seemed caught off guard to Ranma by this seemingly innocent-looking girl knowing of very powerful magical races, and was left speechless as Ranma began her guessing. Shaking her head slightly, Belldandy answered.
"No Ranma-chan, we are Goddesses. I am Belldandy, First class, Unlimited, Goddess of the Present. My sister Urd is Second class, unlimited, Goddess of the Past," Belldandy explained slowly, obviously not wanting to shock. Ranma simply smiled and shrugged her shoulders as Belldandy gaped.
"Guess that makes sense. Having fought several demons I've wondered if there was something on the other side of the coin." A beat passed between them, and Ranma felt like something was obviously coming, since this Belldandy lady was explaining some things that were probably best kept secret. "So… I take it I wasn't supposed to fight a Goddess?"
"No, it's against our rules to fight against mortals, no matter how powerful. The strange thing is that Kami has requested to meet with you. I'm supposed to take you up to Asgard for a meeting." This time it was Ranma's turn to gape, as Belldandy smiled softly, nodding to Ranma's unspoken comment that she ended up speaking anyway.
"Kami? As in the Kami?" Belldandy simply nodded.
"And we mustn't keep Father waiting. Come with me, I'll transport you there. Normal humans can't transport to Asgard without help. Grasping Ranma's hand in her soft palm, Belldandy simply began walking toward an antique store. Ranma gulped.
Skuld had been playing the Asgard version of Solitaire when another siren went off from her station, while several warnings in red popped up vibrating very angrily. Groaning, she went to click the OK button to cease the siren when a word caught her eye in the text. Well, a name really.
"Urd fought this mortal? Used class V Lightning? And the mortal's still alive… and coming here? Oh crap, I gotta prepare my report!" She said quickly, scampering around when she finally killed the siren. It wouldn't be the first time Skuld cursed that day.
AN: Hey everyone, this was a little idea I thought I'd get down now. I'll tell you, I don't know how often I'll be updating on this one. I certainly plan to continue it, but probably won't be until after I finish Much Ado About Kasumi. I really just wanted to get this down, and see if there was any interest. Also, I might as well throw out there that Ozzallos' Hell is a Martial Artist is where I got the idea of a fight between Urd/Ranma, though I toned down the antagonism and obviously didn't reach near the level of awesome that was captured there. If you ever want to read an amazing Hild, I'd suggest checking that story out. I hope it gets finished one day. Was a fascinating way to hold to Ranma canon but show Hild's influence at the same time. Anyway, will continue this later, I promise! Reviews are always appreciated.