Second Class Soul

Chapter 2

Disclaimer: Don't own barely anything but the clothes on my back and the computer I'm working on. Okay, it's not quite that bad, but I definitely don't own Ranma or OMG.

In the depths of Niflheim, Hild's day could not have been any more dull. Leaning back in her executive chair, facing her computer terminal to the side of the ornate obsidian desk, she continued to watch as the information ran through Nidhogg, wondering if anyone would notice if she disappeared for a few hours. Even the addition of a few new "high class" members couldn't pick up her mood. Marller noticed but continued her report, not wanting to draw either the ire or innate mischievousness of her boss.

"Osama-chan is warming up the newly installed Lambchop room, er," Marller hesitated, noticing the tick of one angled eyebrow the Daimakaicho moved, "Hild-sama, how long did you wish to leave him there?" An elegant neck tilted her head to the side minutely, considering the notion for only a moment.

"How about until the song actually ends?" Hild asked lightly. Marller's only response was a weak chuckle. Leave him there one hundred earth years. I'd like to study the effect of this "Song that Doesn't End" played continuously with no sleep or respite," Hild nodded slowly, missing the shiver that went through Marller. That would truly be a hell, she thought, and then grinned widely.

"Absolutely, Hild-sama. We were also thinking of building a Michael Jackson room with the same idea in mind, but—" Whatever issue Marller and her fellow Demons had with the MJ room never came up as a piece of parchment popped into being right on top of Hild's desk. Small white feathers seemed to emanate from the note before slowly disappearing.

Turning away from her computer she picked up the parchment, and flicking off the holy seal with one ruby red fingernail, began to read. Marller watched in concern, hoping that this wasn't the beginning of something big. Only Kami-sama himself had the ability to drop parchment right onto the Daimakaicho's desk. Yet even while Marller watched her boss she saw a small smile creep onto her face. It wasn't the regular "I'm-the-Queen-of-Hell-and-you're-my-prey" smile, or even her mischievous "I-know-something-you-don't-and-you're-about-to-regret-that" smile. It was simply a smile that read "Oh my," and Marller wasn't sure what to make of it. With a flash of motion, Hild rolled up said parchment and raised it aloft in her hand.

"Marller, cancel any appointments and get to work on Stalin-chan, I've business to attend to. Urd's got herself in a pinch!" Despite the fact she was stating her child was in trouble, the Daimakaicho sounded simply jubilant about the fact. Marller blinked twice, then nodded.

"It will be as you say, Hild-sama." Really, what choice do I have?
"Excellent! Ta-ta for now," Hild replied, and in a deeper voice that commanded untold power, she spoke in a deeper voice, "Term's accepted." With a flash of fire and a little cloud of smoke, Hild vanished.

Ranma had experienced many a thing in his time living in Nerima. Age changing mushrooms, shampoo that can affect memory gain/loss, not to mention the many and varied Jusenkyo curses that exist in the world. Still, traveling to… to Heaven? via mirror would rank very high on the boy's (currently girl's) weirdness scale. Top five, easy.

Once the rushing color, sound, and sensations stopped, Ranma blinked as he looked around. After all, one doesn't normally get to visit Heaven before you pass on.

"Welcome to Asgard, Ranma," Belldandy's quiet voice intoned with a somewhat musical lilt. Ranma-chan took it in, but his eyes were still taking in everything. He appeared to be in the middle of a meadow right out of Alice in Wonderland. Purple grass blew in a breeze that he couldn't feel, orange and teal tree's swaying with it, and to complete it a brilliant blue sky above with a soft golden sun radiating a welcome warmth across her skin. Yet something felt…off. If she concentrated on one spot long enough, it became fuzzy and she could almost see another image on the other side. A tall sky scraper perhaps? Certainly was an odd shape.

"You aren't the first mortal to come here without finishing your life first," she softly intoned, stepping up next to him. She gestured with one hand and they began walking forward as she explained. "A mortal cannot handle the brilliance of Asgard, so a program feeds a pleasing mental image to match your expectations." Ranma turned to look at her, and found she was smiling softly at him, still radiating peace. It's like if Kasumi ascended or something, Ranma-chan quipped inside her mind.

"And I take it Asgard is what ya call Heaven?" She asked just to make sure she was correct. Belldandy's smile widened a bit, and nodded.

"To a point. You're merely in the administrative side of it now, where us Goddess' work." And she was right, Ranma-chan noticed. At some point without realizing it they'd left the weird meadow behind and now were in a set of long hallways with many, many doors. Yet even now she could see a huge ornate door at the end of the hallway, and Ranma-chan made a guess that this was their final destination. She tried to extend her ki senses, but it was utterly useless. Whatever they used here it wasn't ki, and certainly wasn't registering in her scan.

They continued to walk in mostly companionable silence, occasionally speaking of one thing or another, but Ranma could feel her nerves building the closer they got to that door. Her senses were screaming at her that she was surrounded by indomitable power and that she was walking toward the largest source of all. It's like willingly walking toward the sun, just replacing the heat with power.

Finally, they reached the end of the hall which opened up into some kind of large reception area. Several beings were moving about in a sedate pace, mostly gorgeous women Ranma-chan realized. She was starting to get odd looks, with her damaged Chinese silks and started to feel somewhat self-conscious, something Ranma was most certainly not used to feeling.

"Bell-chan! I thought that was you!" An exuberant voice called from behind them. Belldandy who's been walking next to Ranma winced, and it didn't go unnoticed that her smile suddenly became much more strained. The pair turned around, and Ranma saw the most tanned skin on a still dressed woman he'd ever seen before in his life.

"Hild-san, what brings you to Asgard?" Ranma could tell something was up with this individual, as Belldandy sounded a lot less friendly than she had been previously, almost disapproving while still managing a sweet tone. Almost sounds like Kasumi when she's frustrated, or on her cycle.

"Now now Bell-chan, I have to be here to see my daughter after all. I hear she's in quite the pickle!" Smiling sweetly, Hild's eyes roved over from Belldandy to Ranma and suddenly he knew where he'd seen that colored skin and hair before.

"No way you're Urd's mother, her older sister maybe…" Ranma-chan frowned with some awe, looking the woman over as if trying to make heads or tails of her. Hild's eyes lit up for some reason that Ranma missed, and she seemed to only get more enthused.

"Who's your little friend, Bell? Aren't you going to introduce us?" Hild intoned with the same excited voice from earlier, her amethyst eyes sparkling with something Ranma couldn't make out.

"Ranma Saotome, this is Hild, Daimakaicho of Niflheim, Hild, Ranma Saotome," Belldandy said respectfully, though what seemed to be the bare minimum of decorum. Both were surprised by the lack of shock that emanated on Ranma's face however.

"Daimakaicho huh, wow. So you're like the, the president of hell then, or somethin'?" Ranma asked, head tilting to the side a bit in curiosity. Belldandy and Hild looked at each other for a moment before Hild looked back and smiled.

"That's right dearie. Going on… oh wait, you weren't trying to get a lady to tell her age were you?," Hild responded with a coy lilt, batting her eyes with her head tilted in question.

Now Ranma had grown up on the road, and so many of the commonplace niceties in social situations were all but a mystery to him. Still, here at this moment looking into Hild's amethyst eyes she knew the correct answer.

"Nuh uh, not at all. Was just thinkin' it sounded very important ya know," Ranma-chan stated, making warding gestures. A smug grin answered from Hild.

"Very smart girl. Keep your head like that and you'll do just fine." She turned to look at Belldandy, who still had a small frown on her face. "I can't believe my little Urdie is in trouble for fighting a mortal; what are they teaching you goddesses these days?" Belldandy narrowed her eyes a bit and opened to speak, but Ranma-chan decided now was as good a time as any.

"Look, Hild-sa, er, sama, I'd like to apologize for getting' Urd into trouble. I didn't know fightin' with her would cause all this. I was just lookin' for a good spar. If possible I could say somethin' to someone?" Ranma said with a polite bow. Regaining her posture, Belldandy almost looked sucker-punched. Maybe not many people apologized to the Ruler of Hell?

"You? And you're not dead? How surprising; I saw the Lightning Class she used on you." Hild turned and again weighed Ranma-chan with her deep purple eyes, one elegant eyebrow raised.

"Eh, it wasn't that bad. Had to cycle my ki a bit to erase some effects but I coulda took a few more of those," Ranma waved the comment away, though looked back when she felt more than saw the disbelieving look Hild was sending her way. "Ok, maybe not that many more…" She mumbled, looking away again. Hild broke out in a ringing laugh.

"Oh, you are amusing child. Tell me, have you fought a goddess before? To be honest you don't seem all that surprised about all this," Hild's eyes were now shining with curiosity.

"Well I wouldn't call it much of a fight, to be honest. More like the beginning of a good spar ya know? She wasn't really out to kill me and I wasn't really pushin' it either, though she was tough, no question about that," Ranma-chan answered seriously, eyeing Hild's expression as she spoke. "She's not really got any style to speak of but she's damn powerful. More so than Saffron I'd say. Herb too."

Both women raised their eyebrows at this. It was Belldandy who spoke this time, howerver.

"Ranma-chan, I'm curious. You mentioned the races of the Phoenix and the Musk before we left. Do you personally know their leaders?" Both women were expecting some sort of answer. Maybe a frown, or a denial, or even a nod if it were true. What they weren't expecting was for Ranma to burst out laughing, holding her stomach with both hands to steady herself.

"Hahaha, ya, sorry about that. Ya, you could say I know Herb and Saffron, if by knowing you mean having kicked their asses," Ranma-chan continued to chuckle weakly, wiping a tear from her eye.

"Oh? You beat the Dragon Prince of the Musk and the demigod Saffron, King of Phoenixes?" Hild inquired, her eyes now wide to match her smile. Belldandy simply stared wide-eyed, apparently believing the statement.

"Well, sorta. I beat Herb because of his use of the Chuisuton on me, and as for Saffron… let's just say I wish I only had to beat him—he didn't walk away from that fight," Ranma-chan said quietly, closing her eyes to escape the vision of the Hiryu Hyo Toppa piercing the Phoenix King's last attack.

"Oh my word, Ranma-chan… " Belldandy exclaimed with a hand covering her mouth from the shock. Hild merely turned to her side and brought up a transparent computer keyboard out of nowhere and began to type. An uncomfortable silence descended on the group still waiting for admittance to Kami-sama's abode, though to be honest Ranma was wondering if he wasn't watching this little conversation play out. Finally, Hild stopped typing, and began to read. Seemingly no longer affected by the woman, Belldandy read over her shoulder at whatever was on screen.

"I see, then he will not be reborn. That is good," Hild said, nodding with a serious countenance Ranma had yet to see on her until now.

"Wait, reborn?" Ranma-chan asked, confused. "I thought I killed him, that ice attack… ," started Ranma, but Hild cut him off.

"Yes, Ranma-chan, Saffron was, after all, a phoenix," Hild explained, her tone returning to slightly amused. "Phoenixes are typically known for rising from the ashes, but not Saffron under these conditions, thankfully."

Suddenly, Ranma realized how quiet it had gotten. Looking around the brightly colored wood hall, she noticed how everyone had stopped what they were doing to look at the three of them conversing. She supposed a mortal, a goddess and the Queen of the Damned all conversing together would be an interesting sight. Still, it seemed she was wrong.

"Don't worry about them, they're simply amazed a mortal actually removed Saffron from power. You must have caught him during a rebirth cycle. Despite your prowess, you simply wouldn't have been able to remove his regeneration ability had he been any stronger," Hild intoned with a small smile though her words were deadly serious.

"I dunno, that Hiryu Hyo Toppa was pretty impressive but you won't hear me argue. I know I was lucky to make it out of there with my life," Ranma shuddered, trying to keep her mind off the ever increasing memories.

" Your life and more, Ranma-chan," Hild smiled deviously, her eyes now sparkling with untold information. In that very moment Ranma realized that Nabiki had absolutely nothing on the woman in front of her now. "Though I shant say anymore, I imagine that's one of the reasons He wants to talk with you," trailing off, Hild started tapping her finger to her lips thinking aloud, "though does that mean Urd was fighting with a mortal or… " Shaking her head, she smiled down at Ranma-chan. "Either way, it does not matter. For the destruction of the being known as Saffron, King of Phoenixes, and playing with my dear Urd it seems I owe you a boon! I could explain the whole contract mess in the area but suffice to say you have rid me of a great annoyance. I shall grant you one wish, no strings attached."

The entire hall gasped in shock, and it amused Ranma to see Belldandy among those who could not hold their breath. It seems the President of Fire and Brimstone ain't normally in the business of giving out free wishes. Still, since the Wishing Sword and everything that's gone on I don't really trust magic. I mean, I could just wish for my curse to be cured, but somehow it feels like cheating. I didn't take down Saffron to get some kinda reward other than to save Akane and the challenge he presented. Ah, I know! A smile burst onto Ranma's face for the joke he was about to play on everyone.

"Thanks a lot Hild-sama, I really do appreciate it. I'm just not one for wishes though, I like to earn what little I get, ya know? Instead, I wish for you to get what you truly want most." Ranma-chan said smiling and nodded, a job well done.

Everyone's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates at the turned around wish, yet no ones' opened wider than Hild's. Still, a contract was signed, sealed, and delievered—just by the spoken word. Her head rolled back and the red star on her forehead glowed until a light beamed straight down… down to wherever hell was, Ranma supposed.

"Contract…accepted?" Hild said, sounding absolutely confused. Everyone in the hall nervously eyed everyone else, wondering if something was going to happen, Ranma supposed. Something did.

A bright blue light appeared in front of Ranma-chan, something that sort of looked like a bright beam weapon, except instead of destruction came… "Urd?"

Landing on her butt, she grunted in pain, wincing even as she attempted to regain her footing.

"What happened, where… huh? Bell? Red? Mother? What the—" Though it would have been ironic for her to finish that sentence in present company, Hild seemingly recovered from her shock then, narrowing her eyes a little, only to then smile widely at Ranma-chan.

"Hmmm, yes I'm definitely going to have to do something extra nice for you, aren't I? Not my usual job description but, every now and again I suppose it's not so bad."

"Hild-san, if you could please tell us what happened? Why is my sister here? What was your wish?" Belldandy moved forward, seemingly trying to get some sort of hold on the reins in the chaos that naturally follows Ranma like a lost puppy.

"Ah ah ah, Bell dear, that would be telling. I'll leave it to these two to figure it out," she said, waving a finger annoyingly, seemingly very happy and amused at the proceedings. "Besides, I'm sure He will be a total spoilsport and tell you both what's going on anyway." She rolled her eyes, while stepping forward toward Urd and Ranma. Urd backed away slightly, but it seemed Hild wasn't aiming for her anyway.

Like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming train, Hild approached Ranma-chan until she was upon her, and pulled Ranma-chan into a big hug… her face planted right between the massive mountains that Hild called her bust.

"Thank you very much Ranma-chan. I have to say you are now on my Christmas card list." Ranma-chan probably would have wondered about the Ruler of Hell having a Christmas card list with everyone else in the hall if she hadn't been currently supplanted between her impressive breasts, finding it quite difficult to breathe. Breaking the hug, the Daimakaicho patted Ranma on the head and waved.

"I really must be going now, I think I've done all I can for now. Urd, dear, please behave, really now. Or don't, and come join me! Either way child, have yourself some fun, you look like you need to let loose," she sauntered to the center of the hall, only to turn once more. "Oh, and Ranma-chan?"

"Er, yes?" Ranma squeaked out, hating the sound of her voice immediately.

"I'll be sure to visit sometime." And with a wink, Hild disappeared in a gout of flame, leaving nothing but smoke behind before that too vanished.

"Um… " A hesitant voice spoke behind them, causing all three of them to turn. A rather petite goddess sat on a sturdy but seemingly comfortable chair behind them, her fingers hovering over another one of those transparent keyboards and looked at the trio with no small amount of trepidation.

"Kami-sama will see you now."

Author's note: I apologize about the long absence in writing. To be honest, when one's life turns upside down it can be hard to find the purchase to push yourself through another chapter. Sometimes it's easier to consume material than to produce it, and I'm afraid with my family's medical problems I let that subsume my desire to write these last few months. I am making an effort to crawl out of that pit and back into the creative limelight. To be honest, I'm not sure when the next chapter of this will come but I can guarantee the next chapter of Much Ado About Kasumi will be next. It was about half complete before I fell by the wayside. And that's my update for now.

Reviews and criticism always appreciated.