Skuld frantically searched with her personal terminal trying to figure out what had happened. She knew Lambda had fired but, Belldandy did something to stop it; and she knew Ranma did something to neutralize the giant and the tree. She had a fix on Ranma right up until the blast wave washed over her. She knew her niece was still alive but she couldn't quite find her. Then it all started to collapse and Skuld panicked. Celistine's temporal knot had created had become a sinkhole in space-time. All of reality rushed to fill the void that was created. The effect began to pull all of reality into the void like like water down a drain. Calling up every bit of strength she could as both a Norn and a Goddess she created a barrier in time between the void and reality. She couldn't let this section of space time collapse if she wanted to have any hope of finding her family.
The Goddess of the Future slowly began to age as her essence was being drained into the void. She could feel all of reality slowly imploding upon her and her barrier. Dark and light matter had completely vacated the void and the immense pressure of the universe fell upon her shoulders.
Skuld grit her teeth as she pushed back. Her entire body trembled as she shouted, "I am Skuld, weaver of fate and this is not the future!"
As the young goddess bent reality her will she found she could not remove the oncoming explosion from Tokyo. As the energies grew and the pressure of the knot increased Skuld pushed back. She shoved the section of Tokyo out of space and time. Skuld's little bubble became a life boat for everything that would have been sucked into the hole in space-time.
Annan looked at the readouts as the system stabilized. The massive discharge of energy had blinded their control center for several hours following the battle. A young goddess had handed her the latest report she let Peorth and Lind look it over. "Alright, seems we're stable. Let's open up our connection to that sector."
Lind stared intently at the coordinates of the temple resolved. The bird's eye view went from a pixilated blue outline, to a sharp image of Belldandy's home. In the distance a tech reported, "Damage seems minimal if any at all. Ninety nine percent reporting condition green…"
Peorths eye's widened as she came across a few bits of stray data. Her finger tips danced across the translucent terminal display.
"Get me a fix on Belldandy now!" Peorth demanded before the tech could finish her report. The techs shuddered despite the promising report. In rapid fire Peorth belted out orders, "You and you, Urd and Skuld. You, find me Keiichi Morisato."
A chorus of acknowledgement followed as they shifted their efforts to a focused scan. Lind and Peorth held their breath as they waited for the techs to report. The voices slowly replied, "Negative on Belldandy; Negative on Urd; I've got a location on Skuld but I'm getting some weird errors; Yggdrasil has located Keiichi Morisato, sending you the live feed now."
Several gasps sounded through the command center and a few expletives joined the reflexive reactions.
Lind stormed out of the room her feet carrying her away from the command nexus as fast as they could. Behind her Peorth shouted, "Lind, no it isn't safe!"
The enraged Valkyrie ignored Peorth's shouts. She disappeared out of the command center before Annan could lock down the door.
"Go after her!" Annan ordered as she joined the others trying to stabilize the system. "I'll keep this end under control."
"But," Peorth was cut off before she could argue. "I need somebody with a level head down there."
Peorth gave a nod to The Morrigan and headed after Lind hoping catch up before she made her way to Midgard.
Annan turned to the display and ordered, "Show me Skuld. I want to resolve her errors first then we can work on Midgard."
The goddesses focused their efforts on identifying the errors surrounding Skuld and finding ways to fix them before they became too entrenched in the system.
Keiichi looked out at the desert expanse before him. His body ached from Celistine's abuse. Dark spots floated across his field of vision as he struggled to remain conscious after all that had happened. The landscape was like nothing he had ever seen in person before. Dry wind howled across the arid plains while the hot sun illuminated the dramatic reds, yellows and oranges of the soil. He looked around and saw Belldandy and Urd. In Urd's arms was Morgan. The faire queen cried out, "Master!"
All eyes turned to the shattered stone that was lying on the ground at Keiichi's feet. The white and blue figurine slowly crumbled to dust. The ancient prison slowly shifted in the blood red sands what little was left of Celistine coalesced into a ghostly form. "It's alright Morgan. I'm sorry I failed you."
Tears began to fall down the ancient fairy's face. She collapsed before the ghost her last chance at love was truly gone in her eyes. Celistine knelt before her, his ethereal hand caressed her cheek. "You'll find your love again. It will take a while but if anyone can do it you can."
Celistine stepped away from the distraught queen. He turned towards Belldandy and said, "I did it all for you. You do not deserve this suff…"
A vicious right cross caught the ghost on the jaw. "Don't you dare put this at my feet!" Belldandy scowled as she rebuked her mentor. "I am well aware of the suffering in this world and my role as a goddess to help ease that suffering! Even through the suffering they are trying to be better. You forget just how far we Vanir have come. Your punishment should never have been being forced to watch."
Urd eased in closer to Belldandy. "Sis, take a breath."
The goddess of the past could feel the power swirling around her sister. Belldandy was overflowing with the energies from the nexus Celistine had summoned. She could feel that power coursing through her being as well. The energy clung to her like a happy puppy eager to greet its master. Belldandy's limiters cracked and began to turn to dust as the energy started to take shape.
"No, his exile has only reaffirmed his false beliefs." Belldandy's spell wrapped around the defeated god. Her eyes glowed with power as she began to create his punishment.
Urd watched in silence as her sister passed judgment on her former mentor. She could feel the energies of the vortex being pulled off of her and shaped by her sister's intent. Urds eyes locked onto Morgan making sure she did not interfere. The fairy queen bowed her head in defeat. There was little she could do to stop them now.
Belldandy's spell slammed into Celistine's ghost. The translucent form began to shrink and compact. "Your punishment is to experience their lives first hand! You will live and die as a mortal until you understand just how important and how precious every second is."
His eyes widened in shock as he realized what his protégé was doing. He could feel his magic being bound and knew any hold he had on her soul had been washed away. Belldandy's two lives slowly integrated with Keiichi becoming the fulcrum she used to pry Celistine out of her heart. The rogue god's third eye slowly shut as the seals upon his face melted away until he was nothing more than a human soul.
"I cast you into the river of souls, may the next life you live be kinder than this one." In an instant Celistine was gone. His very essence was bound to a human soul until the conditions of Belldandy's punishment was met.
Urd let out a breath she did not know she was holding. For a moment she was sure that Belldandy would destroy Celistine for his assault upon Keiichi. Morgan fell to the ground weeping. The fairy queen trembled with every breath as her last hope was shredded.
"Urd, if you would." Belldandy turned to Keiichi and Morgan. "I think that there is enough sand and basalt to craft a mirror here."
The elder goddess ruffled Belldandy's hair and laughed. "And the ocean is wet."
She walked off a short distance and began to chant softly. Belldandy turned to Keiichi and flung herself at him. He barely held his ground as he caught her. He could hear her crying and saying something but only understood enough to gently stroke her hair and keep her calm.
After a few moments Belldandy composed herself. She leaned in and kissed Keiichi on the lips. "I love you. Keiichi Morisato, know that I am yours, always."
Morgan looked up at the pair as they kissed. A blinding light and deafening crack cut through the air. Urd grabbed Morgan by the wrist and fell in step beside Belldandy. "Let's get home I got a bad feeling about Skuld and Ranma." Morgan silently followed, unable to find any reason to resist.
Beside the dreaded judgment gate a crater twenty meters across and ten meters deep had become a shining silver mirror. The quartet vanished into the enormous portal leaving the ruined monument.
As the white light washed over Skuld she panicked. The entire sector was about to be rewritten and she had no idea how to stop it. Her mind raced through a thousand possibilities all of them seemingly as futile as trying to stop an avalanche with a garden hose. In a desperate move she threw herself at the gaping wound left in the wooden spire. Her hand sank into the damaged tree and she offered herself to the wounded construct. The dying tree suckled upon the offering. The chaotic fires and spontaneous creation slowly became a natural ordered system. Skuld slowly stabilized the outer regions of the disturbance.
She could feel her fingers within the tree growing stiff. However, the looming horizon slowly became the Tokyo skyline once more. Her very essence began to resonate with the future incarnation of Yggdrasil. Her eyes narrowed as she felt her energy begin to syphon off even faster.
"No!" She braced herself as her arms became one with the tree. She began to fight the protocols trying to sanitize the area. "I'm not letting you have them!"
Bright blue lines surrounded and isolated the damaged sector of the tree. By sheer force of will Skuld rebelled against the efforts of heaven to fix the sector.
In heaven warning lights flashed and error messages popped into existence surrounding the goddess and their terminals. The delicate strings the goddesses used to interact with Yggdrasil's song burst into flame. Asgard trembled as a single norn laid siege to the will of heaven.
Annan cried out, "Stop what you're doing!"
The staff had little choice to comply as entire terminals began to turn black or explode. "Everybody out!" Annan's hand slammed down onto an emergency alert button. "This is Supreme Valkyrie commander Annan, I am issuing a general evacuation order for Olympus Station. All personnel proceed to your Alpha level evacuation points."
"Mistress?" A younger god questioned his superior only to be thrust into a waiting portal. Annan desperately plucked at the strings of one of the few remaining terminals as she composed a message to Peorth and Lind. The rumbling became louder and more violent. An armored hand wrapped around Annan's waist as she plucked the final string to send her message. Annan and her rescuer stumbled out of a portal well away from Olympus. Annan turned towards the hand still clutching her waist. "Thor?"
An azure beam cut across the skies of Asgard the neon blue light dominated the sky and everything took on a dark blue tint as the remains of Lambda cut across the skies. "Was that?" Thor asked quietly.
"Somebody on Midgard decided to put a return to sender on that one." Annan said quietly as she watched the blue light fade. "I need to get a damage report and establish Kolkvangr as the primary control center."
"Sister, what is going on?" Thor followed the irate Valkyrie as she opened a portal to Kolkvangr.
"Celistine is on the loose and he just used Lambda against us." She went straight to the central terminal and began plucking its strings. Within moments the system sprung to life and the staff from Olympus Station began pouring into the citadel. Olympus station was the peace time control center for the heavenly races. Kolkvangr was its Spartan war time counterpart. The ancient fortress came to life as it assumed its role as Yggdrasil's central control center.
Thor asked in disbelief. "Why would he want to lobotomize Yggdrasil. Without Olympus the system goes into primary defensive protocols."
"I don't know. There is a lot we don't know right now and for all intents and purposes he just successfully isolated Asgard from the other nine realms." Annan slumped back in her chair as she looked up at Thor. "We're flying blind here."
Thor nodded his expression hardened. "I'll ready the Militia and…"
"No I don't need a class 1 playing messenger boy. I have plenty of errand girls and boys. I want you, Heimdall and Sif working on the Bifrost. Lambda is probably nothing but a pillar of molten slag right now but Laverna's damage to the bridge can be fixed. I want it repaired and operational." Thor nodded as she gave the order. "With lambda out of commission we'll need some defense as well. Get on of your friends unboxing the ageis if you have to but we're naked up here and you know it. Once you get the bridge operational start getting some of the heavier weapons out of the mothballs. We'll be skirting the edges of the treaty but I'd rather not be sitting up here with our pants down."
As Belldandy, Urd, Keiichi stepped out of a car's mirror several miles from the temple they could see the warring energies at the base of the third spire. Urd's eyes widened as space began to fold in upon its self.
"What's…" Before Keiichi could ask the question Urd tore off as if she was solid lightning. Even moving at the speed of light she was too slow.
Belldandy held her hand to her mouth as she watched the event horizon vanish leaving an empty void where the temple and a little over a four square kilometers around it once stood. The eerie nothingness was not a devastated land scape but the complete smooth sphere that defined Earth's radius.
The goddess gripped Keiichi's hand tightly. "That's the core frame of Midgard. It's very framework in reality laid bare."
Morgan gasped as she looked at the scene. The utter wrongness of the void hurt her eyes. She cried out and looked away. Keiichi's vision blurred as his mind tried to comprehend the distorted space in front of him. He tried to make out something, anything as his eyes squinted. Belldandy's hand squeezed his as the temple began to form in the distance. "Don't Keiichi, you must not impose your will on this space. If you do we will have no chance to restore it."
Morgan looked at the space and saw images of her lover dance in the shadows. Her hand reached out but Belldandy's voice stopped her. "Don't, if you create him from this he will only be a reflection of your desires."
Her knees gave out and she collapsed to the ground. Morgan turned her eyes away from the space. "Please, take me away from here. I cannot resist the temptation." Morgan begged as the ghostly form of Urien started to step out of nothingness.
Belldandy banished the shade back into the aether then guided Morgan and Keiichi into a mirrored window.
In the very center of the void Urd found Laverna. The shadowy goddess was chanting a spell. Plasma swirled around the goddess as she worked with the blank fabric of reality. The entire space bending easily to her will. Urd ground her teeth as she realized all she could do was watch. To interfere with whatever ritual Laverna was preforming in this space would certainly destroy them both along with everything that belonged in this space.
The goddess of the past glared at the chanting thief as she crafted her ritual. Urd paced back and forth. Her aura lashed out occasionally probing Laverna's defenses. It was all she could do to hold her temper in check. Before Urd could lose her temper however the ritual reached a crescendo and Laverna vanished. In the moments before the ritual ended Urd forced her senses open. She drew in everything about the scene that she could. Her sight opened and for a few seconds she took in all of reality. The goddess of the past absorbed those moments so she could know exactly what had happened and perhaps where Ranma and Laverna had gone.
Ranma Saotome awoke with a start the first thing he felt was his face slamming into the pavement. The pig-tailed martial artist let out a groan as consciousness was returned to him with all the love and joy of an angry tomboy. A plume of concrete dust shot up into the sky. Ranma groaned as he tried to recall the last few minutes and what exactly earned him a trip on Tomboy Air. He slowly pushed his hands underneath him but a deafening crack made him consider that getting up was a bad idea. Ranma had been to some of the worst hell holes during his training trip and knew the sound of a gunshot. He poked his head out of the crater and looked around before muttering to himself, "Alright still in Tokyo."
His eyes panned across the scene as two more gunshots rang out. A flash of blue light penetrated the debris. He watched as a girl charged forward. A blur of blue light slammed into a purple haired girl. The blue blade was parried away with the barrel of the rifle. The two combatants rolled apart. The sniper abandoned her broken rifle and a pair of gun shots sounded out as she tried to put some distance between her and the girl with the blade.
Ranma watched as the fight intensified. The fight quickly escalated as guns and blades clashed again and again. As he dusted himself off Ranma sat up. He watched intently analyzing the two girl's techniques. It was obvious that these two fought often and their styles were reflections of each other. The first girl favored light rapid hit and run tactics while the other focused on defense, power moves and mobility.
His observations went on a bit longer till he decided there was little he could learn from the two girls. While the two had a few interesting techniques he wondered if he could duplicate. Ranma's musings were cut short as the entire world trembled. A violent tremor shook the world and windows began to shatter. He watched as the entire complex around him started to fall. A blinding light filled the sky and a shockwave washed across the world.
"Morisato…" Ranma groaned as a hand shook him. "Morisato wake up."
Ranma let out a groan then rolled over in his bed. "Ya got the wrong guy go away."
"Damn it Ranma get up we got problems." The sleepy boy sat up in bed he opened his eyes and was rewarded with the oddest sense of double vision. He clutched his head and heaved slightly. "Get up."
Ranma sputtered as a wave of cold water hit him in the face. He inwardly groaned. "Just what I need a pair of tits to go with this headache." Ranma pulled the wet sheet off of his body. His hand brushed across his chest but curiously found he wasn't a girl. His senses quickly kicked into high gear as he realized something was wrong.
"Come on Ranma, this is important." Ranma turned to the voice and quickly realized it wasn't any of the usual annoyances in his life. Instead he saw the dragon prince Herb dressed in a school uniform of all things.
"You sure this is her Herb?" Another voice joined the conversation. Ranma looked to the girl and then around the room. He didn't recognize his surroundings. He looked at the school crest on Herb and the girl's uniform. It definitely wasn't one he recognized and the clothes were too nice for Furinkan.
"Herb?" Ranma questioned as he looked at him. "What the hell is going on? Where are we?"
"We thought you'd know. Giant trees, ax wielding giants, amnesiac goddesses ringing any Bells?" Herb asked expectantly and watched Ranma's face for a reaction.
A quizzical look crossed Ranma's face. He shook his head a few times. "What happened to the curses?"
"You took care of mine." Herb held up his hand and showed him the rune sigil Ranma etched into Herb's hand. "I don't know why you're a guy. Last time I saw you, you were very female and blond."
He rubbed his eyes a few times. "I dunno, last thing I remember… Blond?" Ranma shook his head he tried to remember something but all he had was the assumption that Akane sent him flying. "I don't know what I remember. Why are you in Japan again, what's with the tattoo."
"He doesn't remember anything." Masami flopped down on the bed beside Ranma's. "Well damn."
Herb let out a growl. Ranma pulled on his uniform as he discarded the wet clothes. "Well Morisato do you have any idea what's going on?"
Ranma gave Herb an exasperated look. "That's the second time you called me that. All I really remember is falling, the earthquake, some light and then you waking me up."
"What about me, Urd, Skuld, Keiichi, Belldandy?" Masami asked as she sat up on the bed. "They kind of adopted you?"
Ranma shook his head. "Sorry, you're not a fiancée are you?"
Masami laughed and happily replied, "No just your roommate and sort of indentured soul slave thingy…"
"Indentured soul slave thingy?" He asked curiously.
She smiled and shook her head. "My dad sold my soul to you to make it as if I never existed."
"Right…" Ranma looked at Herb then Masami. "I'm gonna head back to the dojo Akane's gonna be pissed. How long was I out anyway?"
Herb shook his head. "A day or so, but there's no dojo here Ranma. We're someplace else."
"Great more magical bullshit." Ranma shook his head as the door opened. "So what is it this time, magic girls, kajiu, aliens or maybe a full on sentai team?"
"Is it something among Vanir to occasionally lose their memory?" Masami asked Herb as it became apparent that Ranma had forgotten the most recent developments in his life.
Herb grimaced at the remark. "Normally they are paragons of virtue and knowledge at least that's what the myth's say."
The dragon prince shook his head and laughed. Masami joined in his laughter as she looked at Ranma. The two had dissolved into full blown belly laughter by the time Ranma had enough.
Ranma grew steadily more annoyed with the dragon prince and the girl. "Maybe you two should fill me in from the beginning. What in the world is a vanir?"
Herb took a long look at Ranma as he decided what to do. His fingers ran across the sigil etched into his arm several times. The dragon prince shifted genders several times as he considered just what to do. It was very clear that this was not Toshiko Morisato but Ranma Saotome. He wondered why the Vanir had been stripped of her divinity and why they had been sent to this place. He did not like the first conclusions he arrived at. His brow furrowed as Herb shifted to his female aspect and looked Ranma over. The dragon princess slowly began to tell the tale of Ranma's death and rebirth.