I do not own Aa! Megami-sama! This is a work of fan fiction.
This story is a sequel to The Fifth Kind of Love. To find it, click on my handle above (HuuskerDu). You can read this story as a standalone tale if you wish.
You will need to read The Fifth Kind of Love to learn the backstory of the momentous events that triggered Ragnarök, including the fate of Skuld's sisters and how the young goddess was adopted by a new and loving mother.
Chapter 1: The Reluctant Ruler of Heaven
Skuld threw down the Yggdrasil Mark II schematics in disgust. "No, no, no! This is not going to work! The capacitors will never support that much load!"
Ere and Ex then cautiously took several steps backward away from the planning table, and from her. They knew how dangerous the Leader of Heaven could be when she lost her temper.
She continued to rant, "And the power plant is wrong... it will never drive that much data traffic! This is hopeless, we are going have to all start over again... gah! I am so sick of this!" She then ripped up the blueprints and shouted several expletives at the ceiling.
"I quit!" She kicked the table. The two second class sysadmins dived for cover as the shrapnel from the exploded table embedded itself into the Adamite crystal walls of the planning room.
Skuld tended to lose her temper quite often these days. Even more so than usual. The sysadmins couldn't really blame her. Ragnarök had traumatized nearly every remaining living soul in Heaven*. And those who survived that awful event, the second class and third class goddesses, all had varying levels of survivors' guilt, PTSD, and many other psychological symptoms of surviving a holocaust. Skuld was no different.
Indeed, Skuld had gotten the worst of it, as bad as any survivor. For she had lost every person she loved: Belldandy, Urd, her mother, everyone that was important to her.
Except one. And he was only a mere mortal.
The two sysadmins poked their heads up from behind the desk. Then Ex said to Ere, "Sheesh, she's in a particularly foul mood today."
Ere replied, "Yeah, and that's really saying something. I mean, her usual self is bad enough."
Skuld spotted them, then stomped over and lorded over their cowering figures, "You two get your asses off the ground and clean this place up! We resume planning in 20 minutes! We are starting over with a new schematic!"
They saluted her, "Aye, aye, ma'am..."
Skuld stomped out.
Ex sighed, "Well, she has a right to be grumpy, I mean, considering what she went through." Ere nodded sympathetically.
Skuld walked alone to the rooftop of the temporary HQ building. She needed a few minutes alone to decompress. The HQ was actually an old supply depot that had somehow survived the war mostly intact. It had miraculously escaped being strafed, bombed, melted, frozen, electrocuted, disintegrated, dissolved, exploded, imploded, inverted, eviscerated, or detonated by the all-out demon attack during Ragnarök.
From the railing of the rooftop balcony, Skuld looked over her sovereign domain.
For Asgard was in utter ruin.
Desolation was everywhere. Some columns of smoke continued to float lazily into the sky even now, four months after the end of the battle.
It had all happened when Hild, the ruler of Niflheim, launched her most ambitious (and ultimately final) plan to overthrow Valhalla once and for all. Hild had deliberately kicked off Ragnarök, even though she knew that all first class goddesses and demons, including herself, would die in that holocaust.
Her plan was simple: She arranged for her own 'death' just prior to the event, then she hid her spirit inside the mind of her own daughter, Urd, the half-goddess half-demon who had the potential power of a first class goddess. Urd had previously refused to become a first class goddess, so she remained second class and thus would survive. And so Hild's plan was to ride out the storm of Ragnarök by hiding within Urd's mind, and then after the smoke had cleared, Hild!Urd would re-emerge, catapult back up to first class status (or higher), and then become the most powerful entity still alive. And so, after it was all over, and before anyone else could recover, Hild!Urd would quickly overthrow Heaven, and rule it from Hell.
For that was Hild's plan. But her plan was foiled by Belldandy, who sacrificed her own life to stop her. Then afterwards, even after her own death, Belldandy's spirit lived on long enough to end Hild's own spirit, once and for all. Urd had fought back as well, having bought enough time for Belldandy to formulate a plan to counter Hild's. And so, at the cost of the lives of both of Skuld's sisters, all of Heaven and the world were saved.
And so Belldandy became the hero of the age. Songs would be sung of her heroism and her selfless sacrifice to save Heaven and the world from the clutches of Hell. And Skuld was proud to be named as the sister of the great Belldandy, the most famous goddess in the history of Heaven.
But as history tends to do, the roles of others were overlooked. This included the critical role of Skuld's adopted mother, the combat Valkyrie, in the defeat of Hild and Urd's own sacrifice to buy time to make that defeat possible, both of which for some reason faded from the collective memory of history. Skuld herself would never forget, of course, for she would mourn for her loving adopted mother just as she did for her beloved older sisters. This was because Skuld had paid the highest price of any surviving goddess in this costly victory: the loss of her entire family.
After the battle Belldandy had comforted her grieving sister in a dream. She revealed she was still very much alive, all of them, and that they loved the immature goddess very much, and that they would all reunite with her one day. Belldandy consoled her sister and encouraged her to stay strong. She revealed to the young goddess her great future, that she would save all of Asgard and lead it to recovery. Skuld confessed during their teary reunion that she felt overwhelmed, that she couldn't do it, certainly not by herself. But Belldandy reassured her and told her she would, and that she would have help.
Skuld sighed. That task was immense.
The battle that precipitated it was dreadful. She could still see the radioactive glow from the former Yggdrasil complex on the far western horizon. The glow was so intense it could be seen in daylight. To the southwest, all of the great palace of Valhalla was turned to glass, or worse. And if it wasn't for Skuld's quick thinking during the height of the battle, when she remembered the collection of old weapons and artifacts on display at the Museum of Really Cool Stuff, located 10,000km east and 200km up from Valhalla, and the parked V'ger spacecraft on display there, all might have been lost. But Skuld was able to re-animate the dead god sufficiently to tele-operate the main functors and bring V'ger back to life one last time.
And ram it straight into the Great Maw of Hell. The Monster Wolf. Fenrir.
And the Great Maw got indigestion when it tried to eat the 100km long living space vessel that was also a god, and so Skuld was able to stop the fearsome monster, the strongest combatant on the side of Hell. And it fled the field of battle while howling in deep pain.
And then she went on the offensive: She was able to repair the eight superlaser generators that she had previously salvaged from the Death Star - a war trophy courtesy of her adoptive mother - and bury the devices in a large circle around the grounds and woods surrounding the Tariki Hongan temple. She then connected it to a unique power source and fired the Death Star's strongest weapon straight up through the open Japan Gate and into the very heart of Hell, and incinerate much of its center, in retribution for the carnage they dealt to her heavenly home.
Now, it was not due to those great heroic acts that earned Skuld the title of Acting Daitenkaicho of Asgard. Nor was it due to her famous engineering skills, which she used in good measure to salvage key components of critical systems, to prevent cascade failures and implosions that could have resulted in even further loss of life. Nor was it her foresight to quickly move the Deep Archives to a new hidden location when the attack was imminent, thus protecting and preserving the most important and ancient wisdom, artifacts, and stored knowledge of the gods and goddesses themselves, which had been slowly and painstakingly accumulated since the Elder Days, and so it was saved.
She was named the Acting Daitenkaicho simply due to her seniority. It was merely because she was the highest ranking second class goddess left alive.
For goddesses of the same class, the tie breaker for seniority is based on the goddess' current active role or duty function. Skuld, being a multi-tasker, was the new Air Marshal of the combat Valkyrie squad known as the Fighting Wings, having been field-promoted by acting Air Marshal Chrono after the latter was injured during the battle. Skuld also held the rank of System Administrator Second Class for the Yggdrasil supercomputer facility. And she had the rank of Goddess Ambassador Third Class, the minimum rank required to live on Earth.
And so, with those three combined ranks, she had the highest seniority of anyone left alive in Asgard. And thus Skuld became its leader, basically by default.
And she didn't like it one bit.
She gazed upon the ruin of Heaven. There was so much work to do. It seemed overwhelming.
As the wind blew across the rooftop, she ran her fingers through her long hair. Then, looking down at a puddle on the roof she saw her reflection in the water.
Well, it wasn't all bad then.
For in that shimmering mirror she saw her image, and her beauty was marvelous to behold: She was tall, graceful, and regal in her splendor, with her long raven hair blowing in the wind. She was the ideal vision of a true goddess.
Her only disappointment was that her grown-up bust size wasn't quite as developed as Urd's. Chrono had explained to Skuld that it was because she had a slender body type, which was more like Belldandy's than her more curvaceous half-sister Urd. She was lithe and very beautiful in her own way, and some even said she looked more beautiful than Urd had herself been, in a fashion. Chrono told her frankly that having an oversized bustline would not have looked attractive on her figure. Chrono was correct, of course, but Skuld still felt a little bit disappointed with her tape measurements.
Skuld remembered that the change in her body had started to happen almost immediately. She could feel her body growing one or two inches a day. Up and out. And so she quickly became a mature, tall, and beautiful vision of a goddess.
No, that wasn't so bad. After all, she was a grown-up now. And everyone treated her like one.
And that was also her biggest worry. In some ways she did not feel like she was an adult. To her it felt like she was pretending, play-acting the role. She was an adult on the outside, but not on the inside. Soon perhaps, but not quite yet. Oh, in some ways she was already quite grown up on the inside, for she had already seen things that no child should ever see: a holocaust of destruction, injury, weeping, pain, suffering, and death. She had seen far too much death, too much even if spread across the near immortal lifetime of a goddess. For the death toll of Ragnarök was appalling. And in dealing with loss and grief, she had already grown up far too fast.
No, her biggest concern was that she felt that she was not quite ready yet to assume her title: Acting Daitenkaicho. It was a political role, not one she would normally want for herself. In her heart she was a tinkerer, a warrior, a builder, a fighter, a creator of things, and a combat engineer, not a politician. She felt that she did not have the necessary real-world experience to know how to rule a kingdom.
She knew that she was not yet very good at the subtle art of using and applying power: How to placate rival factions, or how to calm disputes, or know when to show mercy, or know when to punish, or know when to fight, or know when to sue for peace. She felt that she simply did not have the experience for the role that was thrust upon her. In particular, she knew that her bad temper and impatience would be liabilities.
What she really wanted was someone she could trust implicitly to act as her consigliere and advisor. Someone who understood her. Someone who knew her strengths and her weaknesses. Someone who was very observant and a good listener. Someone who was not afraid to speak up and challenge her. Someone who could put up with her bad temper and not be cowed by it. Someone who was honest and forthright. Someone who would not lust after her due to her title or her power. Someone who had wide experience in dealing with a variety of first class goddesses and demons. Someone who she loved.
It had to be him. And Skuld needed him now more than ever.
She left the roof and went back inside.
"Ere, I am leaving Asgard for a short visit to Earth. I might be gone for a couple days. I'm putting you in charge of re-doing the schematics."
Ere bowed, but then said, "Ma'am, with respect, we really need you right now."
Ex piped up, "The rules say that the Daitenkaicho must never leave Heaven. You must stay here."
Skuld exploded at Ex, "For the last time I am only the *Acting* Daitenkaicho! Therefore the rules do not apply to me, see? Look, the Daitenkaicho must have a spouse, right? Am I married? Nope! That's in the rules too. Like I said, the rules don't apply to me because I'm just a temp! Sheesh, how many times do I have to explain it?"
"I'm outta here. I'll be back in a couple days I think. Carry on." Skuld grumbled and went back to the roof.
She made a quick stop at the Fighting Wings bivouac to check on the status of the remaining combat Valkyries. It was as good as could be expected, since only 5 of the original 80 had survived the war, not including herself. She told Chrono to continue her work on recruiting. But they both knew it would be a long time before the Fighting Wings were an effective force again. Sigh.
Then she flew up to the Gate.
"Keiichi," she thought to herself, "I need you so badly right now."
She knew that Keiichi was now living alone. However, what Skuld did not know yet was just how deep was the spiritual abyss that Keiichi Morisato had fallen into since the loss of Belldandy and of his wife, or what it would take to save him.
But soon she would.
* In this story, unless indicated otherwise, the term 'Heaven' refers to the realm of Asgard, which is assumed to be a real place located in the physical world. The film Thor (2011) makes the same assumption. Similarly, the term 'Hell' in this story colloquially refers to the physical realm of Niflheim.