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vanagandr

Ah! The lost contract

139 posts in this topic

As if I wasn't already busy writing one story, I've decided to start another :roflmao: Technically speaking, this was on my head for a while and given how long it's going to take to finish my other story, I felt tempted to work on them in parallel. Of course, I'm fully aware of the risks when one starts too many projects and then becomes overwhelmed with the sheer amount of effort that they require. So, i won't start anything else as long as I'm busy with the two of my stories.

Unlike my other work, this will be a complete reboot of the AMG series, starting from the very beginning and moving from that point on. This will allow me to introduce most of the characters in a bit of a different manner and avoid some of the abrupt personality changes we've seen in the early manga. Still, I will maintain some of the original spirit of AMG manga and as such, Keiichi will be a bit closer to his earlier self, instead of his later depictions.

The biggest change, however, will be the contract between Keiichi and Belldandy, which simply won't happen. I've read the series several times and that contract had always seemed a bit forced at the beginning. Obviously, it was originally meant as a plot device for him and Belldandy to stay together, but... if Peorth and the other goddesses could stay on the mortal realm for a while, then why not Belldandy? In a way, I'd rather have them develop a relationship in a more natural manner, instead of a contract of any kind.

Another significant difference between this and the canon series is that Urd had never left her mother, Hild. While she and her two half sisters had stayed in contact over the years, she's actually a demoness (she's still a half goddess, though; it's just her demonic nature that's dominant) and that will have its impact on the story as well.

Additionally, the rating is set for Mature, in order to let me explore some possibilities and themes without worrying too much about it. However, I won't go too far and there won't be any explicit content or anything that could be described as absolutely inappropriate. So, if you're looking for any lemon chapters, you'll be disappointed.

Finally, the world this story is set on is the same as the one in my other story, and this means that a lot of familiar faces will show up, although a lot sooner than they had there. Still, it won't be necessary to have any prior knowledge of them, as I'll reintroduce both the characters and the rest of the back-story.

So, here's the first chapter:

Night had already arrived for Nekomi, and the local residents, including the numerous students of this college city as they prepared for dinner after a long, busy day. For most of them, it was a long awaited moment when they could forget about their daily problems and try to relax a bit.



That wasn't the case for one dark haired young man, who desperately tried to figure out a solution for his own hardships. Reaching for his jacket's inner pocket he retrieved the last cigarette he had, before throwing the now empty packet into a nearby trash bin. His recent search for an affordable place to stay had proven utterly unfruitful and the frustrated youth wouldn’t help but curse his rotten luck under his breath.

Only a couple of days ago everything was going just fine for him, until his dorm received a notification about a planned renovation, which naturally meant that all the students who lived there had two weeks to vacate the place.

The vast majority of the students living in that all-male dorm were attending the Engineering department of NIT and just like himself they weren't the most affluent of the lot. This probably explained why they'd decided to stay there in the first place, instead of opting for a small apartment where they could've gotten some more personal space for themselves.

It wasn't a bad place by any means, of course. The only problem was the fact that the two senior students in charge of the dorm were a bit... eccentric to say the least, causing enough trouble to the young man with their harebrained plots and stunts. Aside from attending the same department, most of the dorm residents were also members of the NIT's Motor Club, famous for its member's crazy antics.

The dark haired student couldn't deny that he had a great time being part of that club, despite its undeniably bad reputation, since he was really passionate about everything that had to do with bikes and other vehicles in general. As a matter of fact, he was the proud owner of a modified BMW RS with a sidecar, a gift he received from his father when he became of age. That particular bike was by far his most prized possession and something that he loved to spend most of his free time on tweaking and maintaining it.

Taking a few last drags from his cigarette, he decided that he wouldn't solve anything by walking around aimlessly in one of Nekomi's several parks. Heading towards his bike that was parked on a nearby street, the young man had to wonder if he really would finally get a break from all the insanity that was happening lately.

His club had once again achieved a Pyrrhic victory, winning a race and its prize money, only to realize that they've wasted more in the process of doing so. And as always, his wallet had to suffer for the greater cause, something that was apparently common practice by now. While his sempais were good people, they were notoriously bad at keeping the club funded and in the end, he had to bail them out of their predicament.

This naturally left him with very little cash, and the recent news for the dorm's renovation were absolutely disastrous. Having to move out of there meant that he probably had to pay more money for the rent; something that he simply couldn't afford. He searched through a lot of real estate businesses to get an affordable place based on his allowance, but without any luck. Most of the apartments that he found were too far away from NIT and the added cost of the gas would've made it impossible for him to stay within budget.

Because of that, he had managed to get a temporary part time job at a local sushi restaurant as a delivery boy. Far from the highest paying of jobs, but, beggars couldn't be choosers. Checking his watch, he turned the key on his bike and headed towards his new workplace. Night shifts were the only thing that a college student could ever afford and even then, having to work on weekends was a major pain, as it denied him any time for relaxation.

Still, even with all that effort, his monthly income had only increased by a tiny amount, making his life very hard. He had initially expected that this job would've allowed him to afford a new place to live, but as the days went by, the grim reality settled in; it just wasn't enough. And trying to find another one on top of that was impossible, given that the day had only twenty four hours.

'Speaking of time... Everyone should've been home by now.. So, what's with this freaking traffic?' wondered the young student, as he navigated his way though the long lines of stopped vehicles. Reaching a crossroad, he finally saw the problem, two trucks had apparently collided with each other. Nothing too major thankfully, as both drivers seemed to be fine and currently engaged in a heated argument over whose fault it was.

'Great... Now Mr. Yamada will kill me for being late... Just me and my damn luck...'

XXX

Outside of the mortal realm and part of the nine worlds that made the majority of the known existence was Asgard, the primary home-world of the celestials, a group of ten dimensional beings who were in charge of maintaining one of the two biggest supercomputers that were ever created, the other belonging to their primary competitors and rivals; the demons.

Both groups were an essential part of how the universe worked, although the source of that influence came from an entity that was so old nobody knew much about it. Even more, it possessed a virtually infinite amount of power and could literally alter reality as it pleased, resulting both gods and demons to desperately try to tap to its abilities. The World Tree, or Yggdrasil as it identified itself, was sleeping in the middle of Asgard's vast plains and yet its roots transcended both time and space, reaching all of the other eight realms allowing it to not only influence them, but give the demons a means to contact with it from their own realms.

However, the tree's roots played a far more important reason, as it they kept Nidhogg imprisoned. Trapped in a subterranean cavern in the demons' primary home world, Niflheim, the colossal infernal dragon had no other option but spend its time gnawing the roots whenever it wasn't asleep. And with Yggdrasil regenerating the damage on a constant basis, it kept nemesis away from the rest of the world.

The effort was too much for the World Tree and for that purpose, it let the two groups of immortals to oversee the daily needs of all the worlds that were affected by it. For that very reason, they had constructed supercomputers who managed to communicate with the tree, using its root system as a way to access it and run a variety of programs that were enabling them to borrow some of its reality altering abilities. Their influence was extremely important for the lower, three dimensional world of Midgard, home of all mortal species and for their own efforts, Yggdrasil rewarded each group with some of its energy, based on how hard they seemed to work.

This ancient agreement created a situation where they had to monitor Midgard and make sure that life continued to exist in one way or another. Over time, gods had started to use that influence to spread happiness among mortals, while demons resorted to cause misfortune. Eventually they both came up with the concept of forming contracts and granting wishes as a means to obtain greater profits. But, with the number of viable clients being limited, this created a vicious competition that often escalated to long and bitter wars.

Thankfully for the current day immortals, the violent past seemed like a bad memory. After the establishment of the Doublet system which bound two random individuals from either species together, killing one would've resulted in the death of the other. And without knowing who was paired and with whom, lethal violence was strictly prohibiting. Anything else was still allowed, though, making everyone aware of the dangers from an encounter with their rivals and enemies.

Central in the wish granting effort were the agencies that belonged to each side, with numerous immortals reviewing the profiles of the mortal candidates that were automatically collected by both of the supercomputers. Celestials had the Yggdrasil mainframe, which was actually named after the World Tree itself, in the same manner that its demonic counterpart was named after Nidhogg, the infernal dragon. This collection of several thousands of profiles needed a verification from an immortal who worked for one the above agencies and made sure that there were no errors in the process. Once an individual was certified as worthy of a wish, one of the various wish granters was tasked to come into contact with the mortal and offer them the opportunity of receiving a singular wish.

There were actually two such agencies that employed goddesses, the Goddess Relief Office and the Earth Help Center, as Asgard's administration believed that the healthy competition between them would eventually give them an edge over their demonic counterparts.

Many considered it to be an easy job that required little skill and even less effort. But, the truth was actually very different, as it often put the wish granters in situations where their decisions could've meant the world for the reviewed candidate, potentially depriving the mortals from a life changing wish. Money, fame, a successful career, and ultimately the mortal's happiness all depended on a few keystrokes.

For the most renown wish granter of the Goddess Relief Office, it was merely another day like any other, except for the fact that she had just returned from the worst client that she had in decades. Sometimes the audacity of the mortals baffled the brunette goddess to the point where she wondered if granting them wishes was really doing them any good. Sure, it made them happier, but whether or not it made them a better person was a question that she had no simple answer for.

Lately mortals were getting increasingly hard to work with, as their advances in technology had given them the delusion that they knew everything. Which often made them refuse to believe whatever was outside of that limited perception, and that included goddesses that came out of a mirror. Despite of her preferred choice of a traveling medium, the mere existence of a being like her was a very hard thing for most to accept, and as such, she had to try her best to provide them with the necessary explanations every single time. Typically it took an hour or so to convince them that she was real and not some sort of mirage or worse, a vengeful spirit.

However, that wasn't something that she considered to be a problem, as she enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them even for a such short period of time. However, It was when some humans became too comfortable with her, that she had to reminded them that she wasn't just a goddess, but a person as well, with all the social implications of that fact. As such, it was simply unacceptable for a mortal to place his hand on her posterior without her explicit consent, although, she had regretted the way she reacted.

Summoning lightning from the sky and striking him down might've sounded a bit too much, despite the man's insolence. She hadn't harmed him, of course, just gave him enough of a jolt to make him reconsider his ways. In the end, it was another wish for becoming a celebrity, even if she briefly toyed with the idea of rejecting him as a potential client due to his misconduct.

Despite all the meticulous background check on their past, humans were as unpredictable at times as any other species, making even the most reserved of them to act in a very different manner if they suddenly believed that they could do whatever they pleased. Still, a part of her believed that Asgard had secretly lowered the standards of the potential clients, allowing some disagreeable individuals to get a wish, just for the sake of staying competitive with Niflheim.

But it weren't only the bad ones who saddened her, It was how most of the wishes were getting a lot more selfish as time went by. While they didn't grant things on a global scale, fearing the repercussions of a runaway contract no matter how benign it sounded, there was enough room for their clients to help others with the chance that was given to them. And yet, most preferred to ask for things that improved their lives and nobody else's. In a way she didn't want to blame them, as a goddess' way of thinking and theirs was very different, just as much as their perspectives. Humans only had a few decades of life and in that short period of time they had to try and realize their dreams.

Summoning her favorite tea set, the brunette goddess decided that a nice hot cup of tea would've been the best option to calm herself down and dispel those thoughts. After all, it wasn't like herself to worry over such things for too long. 'Perhaps reviewing some more profiles will hemp me forget this whole matter, and who knows?... Maybe I’ll get the chance to visit a much better person, later.'

“Oneesama!”

Blinking as she took a sip from her flavored tea, she spotted her younger sister running towards her station with an excited look on her face, while holding a letter on her hand. The dark haired goddess was already working as a debugger for the celestial mainframe and while that was located relatively close to her agency, they hadn't gotten enough time to talk during their breaks. Despite the young age of her sister, she was really dedicated to her task and due to that, often busy working on one project or another in hopes of increasing her bug catching efficiency. Even at home she preferred to spend her free time creating various inventions that served all sorts of purposes.

“Look what I've got! She sent us a letter!” beamed the young goddess as she bounced up and down, before she climbed on her sister's lap.

“Now now... Be careful not to spill my tea, okay?” She didn't need to ask about the sender's identity, knowing very well that only one person would've written them a letter; their half sister.

While the three of them had the same father, their eldest sibling was from a different mother. That never really mattered to either of them, except for the fact that their father's ex was a demoness, meaning that their elder sibling was an extremely rare hybrid. Thankfully their mothers were on friendly terms and that allowed them to spend time with her while they were younger, taking several trips to Niflheim where she lived.

As fun as their childhood had been, their current positions consumed most of their time making it very hard to find opportunities to do things together. Not that this was much different for everyone else, since she rarely had the time to interact with her other relatives, too. As carefree as the lives of immortals were, that didn't meant that they had all day for themselves.

However, she could spare a couple of minutes for herself and her sister. Opening the old fashioned envelope, she unfolded the embossed stationery and held it in front of her younger sibling for both of them to read.

“So, let's see how she's doing.”

XXX

'That's it, I'm dead...' Parking his trusty BMW outside of the restaurant, he knew that we was already hopelessly late, no thanks to that accident.

“MORISATO!”

Wincing at the sound of the owner's angry voice, the dark haired student rushed inside, hoping that he wasn't going to be fired for someone else's fault. That was the last thing he needed right now, as his financial situation wasn't the greatest at the moment. While the extra money he made here wasn't really that much, without that extra help he'd be probably in a far worse state.

“I'm sorry, Yamada-san! There was...” he started, before the angry cook interrupted him.

“You're forty whole minutes late! And you know all to well that it's dinner time! We've got hungry customers waiting, so, less talk and more work, boy!” said the aging owner of the restaurant, handing him a package and the address he was supposed to deliver it. “Now go!”

Not wanting to further agitate his boss, he was about to grab one of the restaurant's scooters, before he stared at the note that was given ho him. 'Hold on... That's not right...'

“Yamada-san! There has to be a mistake on the address. Are you sure that this isn't some sort of prank?” asked the nervous student, looking at the older man.

“Hm... Now that you mention it... It's really odd. I really hope that this isn't one of your fellow students' silly jokes. As much as they bring me a decent income, they sure can be quite annoying at times.” The restaurant's owner scratched his chin for a while, considering his options. Going to such a distant part of Nekomi would've kept his employee busy for so long that it wasn't really worth the trouble. Still, his work ethic prevented him from telling his employee to forget about it either; providing that this was a legitimate customer, of course. “Okay... I guess it's my fault for not telling them that it was too far. So, let's give it a try and wish it wasn't a prank call.”

“Sure thing, Yamada-san! I'll try to return as soon as possible.” Placing the package in the scooter's trunk, he started the engine and headed for the longest trip he had ever since he started working here. After all, most of the customers weren't living in the middle of nowhere, up in the hills that surrounded the city.

'Man... I really hope that it's not some wise guy wanting to send me on a fool's errant...' Despite that, he felt less annoyed than he would've originally expected. It was a rare opportunity to go and get some fresh air on the Nekomi Ridge circuit, as the mountain road was better known among his fellow bike enthusiasts. He preferred driving there on his BMW, instead of one of the restaurant's scooters, but, he wasn't going there just for his own entertainment; he had also a job to do.

There were a couple of houses near the edge of the city, very close to that area he was supposed to go, however, his destination wasn't exactly a house. Instead, it was a temple, one that he vaguely remembered from one of his previous excursions. The funny thing was that if his memory served him right, the place seemed abandoned when he decided to go and check it on one occasion.

'Besides... Why would anyone order sushi in such a place? Maybe they have guests?' wondered the dark haired student, as he drove his way to his destination. 'Come to think about it... How likely is it that someone reopened that temple? It was only a couple of months since I've stopped there to take a break and enjoy the view. Hm... Oh well, I guess I'll find out in a bit, since I'm almost there.'

XXX

Five minutes later, he was climbing the stairs that led to the Tariki Hongan temple, at least according to the old sign that had nearly fallen apart. It was just like the last time he saw this place, and by the looks of it the temple grounds weren't in a much better state than the sign.

The perimeter walls had cracks on several spots, the stone paths covered in leaves and dirt and wild grass covered most of the yard. Those were clear signs of abandonment, and he was about to turn around and leave when he noticed something very strange that just got into his peripheral vision. A light was coming from the residence that was at the left of the main temple, a house that was obviously meant for the priests that were supposed to take care of the place.

Given that it was a traditional Japanese building, just like the main temple it was very easy to notice the light coming through the rice-paper wooden panels that made up the majority of the walls, unlike the other western style buildings that were extremely popular these days. That fact was both reassuring and baffling at the same time, as it probably meant that he hadn't driven all the way to this remote area for nothing. Still, he didn't know why this place was in such poor state if it was inhabited.

Approaching the house, a terrible thought formed in his mind; they could be criminals hiding from the law. After all, nobody would've ever searched for them here, although, it was unlikely for any fugitive to carelessly order for food like that. Plus, if the place was really abandoned it shouldn't had any electric power and apparently that wasn't the case. Hoping that he was indeed right, he took a breath to calm himself and stood before the entrance, wondering if the doorbell even worked.

Much to his surprise it was functional and after a few seconds of waiting, footsteps could be heard from the other side of the door. Expecting some old priest to answer, he was utterly shocked when he finally caught sight of the mysterious customer. A foreign looking woman with bronze colored skin, platinum blonde hair and proportions that would've made even the most famous of models to turn green from jealousy. Completing her exotic looks were a couple of red facial markings, two triangles under her purple eyes and an upright five pointed star on her forehead.

And if that wasn't enough of a spectacle for him to stare at, the fact that she was wearing a rather skimpy nightie made him wonder if he was hallucinating. There was no way that such things happened in real life, even if some of his coworkers were trying to trick him into thinking that they had scantily clad women answer the door on several occasions. It was just a lie to make this type of work a bit more exciting for him, but... either this was an exception or he had finally snapped from all the stress of the last couple of days.

“Yahoo!... Anyone's home?” Waiving her hand in front of the mesmerized man, the woman tried to get his attention, but to no avail. She was speaking fluent Japanese, too, something rarely seen among foreigners. Following his glazed eyes she smirked as she confirmed that her ample bosom was the center of his attention at the moment. “They're real, you know.”

“Eh?...” Blinking hard to snap out of his stupor, the dark haired student forced his eyes to meet hers. He had expected her to get angry at his indiscretion, demanding an apology, but... there she stood with a strangely content smile that reminded him of a feline that stared down a mouse. And for the briefest of moments he could've sworn that her irises turned cat-like, too, a physical impossibility for any human being.

“I... You...Order...” Stopping his senseless stream of words, he mentally kicked himself for making a fool of himself in front of this beauty. It had always been like this when it came to women, his few attempts to court with a few of them ending in rather poor results.

“Oh? So, you can talk after all...” said the bronze skinned woman, reaching forward to take the bag from his shaking hands. As this simple action made her to bend slightly, it caused her nightie to reveal a bit more skin than before, a detail that hadn't gone unnoticed by the young man who was desperately trying to maintain his composure. “Well... I must admit that I wasn't really expecting anyone to drive all the way up here just for this; and so fast, too. Now, that's what I'd call good service.”

“I-I... T-Thank you, miss.” Stammering a little, he finally managed to form a coherent phrase while he waited for her to pay him. The compliment had taken him slightly off guard, since he never really got any of those, and especially from women. Still, a tiny voice in his mind screamed that it might've been a trap and the next thing she's ask him is to 'buy' her the dinner, meaning that he'd have to pay it from his own pocket.

Thankfully, she turned around and once she set the bag on a nearby table, she grabbed a tiny purse that was also conveniently placed there. However, her hand apparently slipped dropping it on the wooden floor and without much of a delay, she bent down to retrieve it. “Oops... Silly me...”

“Oh, that's okay, miss... I don't mind waiting for...” He suddenly stopped in mid sentence when he saw her nightie lift upwards exposing her lacy panties, which didn't seem to cover that much by the looks of it. And while he thought that warning her was the right thing to do, he had no idea how exactly to say it. Also, he knew that the honorable thing in such situations was to avert his eyes, but, he had failed to do that, as well.

Facing him once again, she handed him nearly twice the amount of money that she actually had to pay. That made him wonder if she was actually a generous person and he was going to get a decent tip for coming all the way to this place, or she was just unfamiliar with Japanese currency. After all, that wasn't something unlikely to expect from a foreigner, although her almost perfect accent didn't seem to match with that general stereotype.

Even worse, without any confirmation from her, he wasn't supposed to assume that she intended for him to keep the change. Searching through his own pockets, he needed to find his wallet, but the elusive item was nowhere to be seen. “Uh... One moment, please.”

Sweat started to form on his forehead, as he was absolutely certain that he hadn't forgotten it back in the dorm, leaving him with a very alarming possibility; that he had actually lost it, and along with it the rest of this month's budget. Not that it had been a really impressive amount of money, but without that, he wouldn't be even capable of affording his own meals, let alone cover the expenses of moving to a new apartment.

Waiting patiently for him, the bronze skinned woman seemed rather amused by his panicked expression as he searched for the elusive item. After a couple of seconds, she decided that she'd spare him of the trouble and pointed behind him. “If you're looking for your wallet, then it's over there.”

“Huh?” Tuning around, the young man was greatly relieved that was spared of such cruel fate. Retrieving it, he quickly opened it and for a moment he happened to notice a bizarre looking black card that seemed almost out of place. He had several business cards that mostly belonged to bike and hardware shops where he got the parts and tools he needed to maintain his beloved BMW. Still, he couldn't remember having that black one before, and as much as he'd love to check it, this wasn't the best moment for it. Instead, he immediately calculated how much money he needed to give her and extended his arm, waiting for her to accept the change.

However, she simply shook her head, offering him a tiny smile. “You may keep that, as you've gone into all that trouble of coming here and in such a timely manner, too. So, let's call it a tip for your dedication.”

“Really? I... Thank you miss!” he said, finally relieved that there was at least one good thing that happened today. This hadn't been the first time that he'd gotten a tip, but, it was certainly the biggest one yet.

“Oh, it's not that much actually... Although, you may call me Urd if you want. All this 'miss' stuff is getting pretty old.” Watching him reluctantly put the money back, she quickly glanced upwards, before she returned her attention back at him. Content that he didn't seem aware of her momentarily distraction, she went on a bit. “So? What's your name?”

“Me? I'm Morisato Keiichi. Uh... Pleased to meet you, I suppose.” Offering her a hand, he wondered if that was a bit too much for such an occasion. She was most likely trying to be polite, not attempting to make a friend or something like that. Thankfully for him, she shook his hand and spared the dark haired man from an embarrassing and rather awkward moment.

“Actually, the pleasure is all mine... Keiichi. You know... I was wondering if you'd like to come inside for a moment and let me treat you something for your trouble.” She had such a pleasant and inviting tone on her voice, that for a moment he nearly said yes, as it seemed the proper thing to do when someone wanted to reward another.

That's when it occurred to him that she was technically halfway undressed and following her inside like that could've been rather inappropriate. Unless... that wasn't just an oversight on her part, but, her actual intentions when she first made the suggestion. The only reason why he hadn't thought that from the very beginning was his own appearance. Keiichi wasn't actually an ugly guy, just average by all means, making him a rather forgettable individual who never got enough attention by the others. With a rather short stature, thick eyebrows and a very casual and unimpressive choice of clothes, he never attracted a girl's attention; at least not for anything related to dating.

So, in his mind she must've meant something else and besides... he had already wasted a decent amount of time here and had to leave soon, before Mr Yamada got angry with him; again. “I'd be happy to take your offer, but, I can't do that. My boss will be furious if was too late, unless you can just offer this treat here, so, I can be on my way as soon as possible.”

Urd tried no to laugh at how naive he appeared to be. She had fully expected him to catch the hidden meaning behind her words like most others in his place would. Still, if it had been a genuine case of a guy who didn't got tempted that easily, then her decision to use him for her plans had been a correct one indeed. And while she could've just let him go like that, another part of her wanted to make sure that she hadn't reached the wrong conclusion. “I'm a fairly open minded person when it comes to such matters, Keiichi. However, I'm also pretty sure that the front door of a house isn't the best place to do... that. So, let's go inside and use a more proper room for such an activity. And it doesn't have to take too long either, if you're that worried about your boss. Give me a few minutes and I'll make sure that we're both going to be very satisfied once we're done.”

Staring at her in shock, Keiichi tried to reply a couple of times, but utterly failed to. He had absolutely no idea what was going on here, since he hardly considered what she was proposing as a simple treat, especially for something as insignificant as delivering food. And he also doubted that she'd been so impressed by his looks that simply couldn't resist him. Maybe he should've been less pessimistic, but, it appeared too good to be true and honestly wondered if this was some sort of a prank where she'd laugh at him if he said yes.

Not getting a reply from him, Urd wondered if he hadn't taken her seriously and to convince him otherwise, she began to tug her nightie's straps making the undergarment to slowly slide lower. It didn't take too long for him to notice the action and just before he got any real view of herself, he suddenly turned around and bolted.

“I need to go back to work!” shouted the deeply embarrassed Keiichi over his shoulder, as he run down the dusty path and towards the weathered staircase that led to the road in front of the temple, leaving the bronze skinned beauty alone; but not for much. Readjusting her skimpy nightwear, she turned towards a surprisingly tiny figure who descended from the roof. “So, Mara... I trust that you did it?”

“Of course! You think I'm a novice or something? Once he touches that trapped card, his fate is sealed by the curse!” In a puff of purple smoke, the miniature individual turned to her full size, standing next to her companion. While she had a fair complexity and blonde hair, this woman had a similarly colored set of markings on her face; two triangles on each of her cheeks and two elongated ones on her forehead. And with red eyes, pointed fangs and a rather exotic looking black outfit, she hardly appeared any more human than Urd.

Nodding contently, the bronze skinned woman raised a hand skywards causing her attire to glow brightly as it began to dematerialize. Soon it was replaced by a long purple dress with a neckline that reached as low as her navel and a cape that was split into two. “Are you absolutely certain that the curse won't actually harm him? I need to tag him, not send the boy to an early grave... And stop staring me with such hungry eyes, Ma-chan. We had more than enough... fun, yesterday. Today we've got work to do.”

“Actually, I was wondering about the food, Urd.” Pointing at the plastic bag that was still on the table next to the entrance, the blonde hoped that her excuse would've been accepted. As her companion retrieved it and motioned for her to follow her, Mara breathed a sigh of relief. Urd was playful and fun most of the time, but she could be downright terrifying when agitated and right now both of them were playing a rather dangerous game that could easily get them into serious trouble.

Taking a seat in front of a low table in the living room, Urd placed the food in two plates that she had to summon, since pretty much everything else in the house was in a terrible condition after several years abandonment. Most of the place was almost left in ruins and if they had to use it as their temporary base of operations in Midgard they needed to make some much needed repairs. In its current state the house was rather unsuitable for two first class demonesses such as themselves. “You still haven't actually answered my original question. Is that method really safe? I've got no wish to get the celestial's attention for such a reason...”

Watching as Urd got a bottle of sake for them, Mara took a bite from her share of the sushi, while she waited to get her glass of booze. “Don't worry, he should be perfectly fine, even with the little joke that I've added there to rattle him a bit. At most he'll be slightly saturated with demonic energy, just a tiny amount to get him rejected by the automated routines of the Yggdrasil mainframe. He's gonna be out of their client list the very moment he touches the card; that much I'm sure of it. Still, I don't see the point of all this, to be honest with you.”

“Good. We're supposed to be here on vacations, and the last thing I need are the Fighting Wings, because we accidentally killed a mortal. As for the point of this... You'll have to wait and see,” said Urd with a smirk, taking a sip from her drink. Pouring some for her companion, the half demoness wondered how she'd eventually explain the situation to a particular goddess who also happened to be her half sister. While she technically had two of them, it was the older one that would've affected mostly by her schemes or rather... her uncle's, since he was the one who came up with the idea in the first place. Which wasn't something unusual for Loki, given his love for pulling stunts like these.

Urd had actually four uncles, although one of them was supposed to be a secret due to certain... circumstances, leaving three of them officially listed as her relatives and sons of the former Daitenkaicho, Odin. Thor, the god of thunder and eldest of the brothers, Loki, the god of mischief and the only one who wasn't related by blood as he was adopted into the family, and finally, Baldr, the god of light and mentor of her half sisters. Of course, there was also her own father to be added into that list, Tyr, the current Daitenkaicho. Still, she hardly interacted with him and even then it was mostly reserved for formal business that involved their respective realms.

Ironic as it sounded, she was a lot more familiar with her father's second wife and mother of her half sisters, Ansuz. She often brought them to Niflheim when they were younger in order to play with her and on certain occasions that task was reserved for Baldr. As time went by, she also became familiar with Loki, the black sheep of her family and Asgard's resident troublemaker who became her unofficial mentor, teaching her a lot of necessary skills at creating chaos and confusion. And that knowledge had served her well, given the attention she was getting from everyone around her due to the fact that she was the was the daughter of Hild, the current Daimakaicho.

The position wasn't hereditary, and as such it wasn't certain that she'd eventually succeed her mother at any point. However, given her relationship with the ruler of all demonkind, many were eager to discredit her accomplishments as a case of favoritism and special treatment, which irked her to no end. Even worse, they were always keeping an eye for any possible mishaps of hers to use it against her, whenever such information was most useful. Such were the ruthless ways of the demonic society and nothing could be really done about it except for surviving and defending her status.

“Whatever... can we fix this dump, at the very least? The roof is leaking and the bed is terrible...” said Mara, as she drank from her glass of sake. She knew that complaining to Urd was a risky proposition, but, she really wished that the half demoness would've picked a better place for them. And the fact that it was actually a temple was just adding more to her list of problems about this place, unless her companion wanted to make it seem a bit ironic that two demonesses had taken residence there.

“I'll have to agree about that damn roof. But, there's nothing wrong with the bed... I thought that a double futon would've been a great choice if we were to temporarily live here.” Crossing her arms, she had every intention to hold her ground against Mara's criticism. It wasn't the first time that she got comments about her choice of beds, despite her best efforts to pick something that was generally considered as comfortable. “It's not my fault that your want to sleep in a bloody coffin! So, give me a break!”

“Okay... okay! It just felt as if we're sleeping on the floor, that's all! No need to get angry about it!” Waiving her hands in front of her dismissively, the blonde demoness tried to come up with something that would make her forget about that particular topic. And in order to avoid making it too obvious, she chose the mortal that they were currently messing around with. “Hey... I wondered what would've happened if that guy accepted your offer. I know that you intended that as a test, but... What if he failed it?”

As a matter of fact, that was actually a good question and left Urd stumped for a moment, wondering how she would've reacted in that situation. While she did tempt the boy with promises of carnal pleasures, it was merely a way of verifying her evaluation of his personality based on the mortal's profile she retrieved from the Nidhogg mainframe. While accurate on most occasions, those files were based on constantly changing information that was collected in real time for as long as the mortals were alive. So, there were a couple of occasions where one could've been fooled by reading outdated records and an old fashioned test was a better method. “Hm... In that case, I would've to erase his memory and try find another candidate. I need someone who thinks with his head, not his crotch, and jumps at every opportunity to get some.”

“Then it's a good think that he passed, I guess. Having to locate another one in such a short period of time would've been a real pain... Still... he seems a bit dorky if you ask me,” said Mara as she thought about the boy. She may had kept a low profile on top of the roof, but, she did manage to get a perfect view of the whole incident. Besides, it was thanks to her skills that she caused his wallet to fall on the path, giving her the opportunity to slip that crucial card into it.

“He'll have to do. We can spend all eternity if we're too darn picky. And I don't think that your opinions of him are really that important, since he's not intended for you, to begin with.” Pouring another glass of sake, Urd laughed at her companion's disgusted expression as she mentioned that last part.

“I don't date happy-go-lucky idiots... thank you very much! Not my style and never will be. Meh!...” It took her a couple of seconds to notice the leer she was getting from the bronze skinned half goddess. Normally, most would've been nervous to meet her gaze, but, the blonde knew that this particular look was associated with her libido and for a moment she felt rather excited. “Uh... you want to go to bed?”

“Sure, why not? After all, I've got a feeling that we're going to have visitors soon enough, so, we'd better use our time in a better manner.” Getting a vigorous nod as a reply, she smirked as the blonde's gaze shifted to her ample bust, missing entirely the small piece of paper that she summoned in her right hand. Setting it on the table, she then slid it towards Mara who shook her head in an effort to snap out of her stupor.

“Huh? What's that?” Unfolding the note, the blonde demoness gave it a quick glance, before she realized much to her horror that it was actually a list of all the things that needed to be fixed in the temple, inducing the stuff that was actually outside of the residence. “Uh... Urd?...”

“Oh, that? I think that once everything's in place, I can finally call this place a viable base, instead of a dump... After all, you wanted this place fixed right? So, do me a favor and get them all fixed by tomorrow, will you? I'll give you a nice reward if you do...” Offering her a wink, Urd didn't wait for the actual reply and headed for the room that they currently used in order to get her beauty sleep, leaving the partially excited but mostly horrified blonde behind.

'Damn it! I hadn't meant to do it on my own! Ugh... She got me for good... And what's with that list?... What the bloody Asgard we need a stove for? Neither of us cooks...'

XXX

'Stupid!... Stupid!... Stupid!...'

Repeating the mantra over and over as he drove back at Yamada's restaurant, Keiichi couldn't believe how he let that opportunity go wasted just like that. It was certainly a bit too sudden and he hardly knew her, but... given his abysmal luck with women, that might had been the break he needed and in the end, he totally blew it.

In fact, he was fairly certain most of his fellow students would've gladly taken the offer, instead of running away as if their lives depended on it. Sure, it skipped a lot of important things that Keiichi considered as crucial for dating, although, she wasn't exactly asking him to become her boyfriend. At the very least, he would've gotten a nice experience and something to brag about whenever others made fun of his ineptitude with women.

Of course, there was no way to reverse time and make a different decision and going back there would've been too embarrassing. This was a one in a million chance and trying to get lucky again was extremely unlikely to work either. The best that he could do at the moment was to focus on getting the necessary budget he needed to move out of the dorm.

With the deadline approaching, he only had about four days to find a place to stay and with the number of real estate agencies he hadn't checked diminishing, his initial optimism started to disappear. The last resort option was to call home and beg for more money, just barely enough to live in one of the cheapest apartments that he's already found. However, this was far from an ideal solution and Keiichi wanted to to avoid it as much as possible, which meant that he'd probably spend his next day searching; again.

Pulling a hard left to get into the alley behind the restaurant that they used as a makeshift parking lot for the scooters, he dismounted the bike and before he got back inside for the next order, he remembered the weird card that he had noticed before. Back then at the temple, he didn't had the time to give it a proper look and being curious, he opened his wallet and searched through the various business cards he had.

'Here it is. Strange... Where did it come from? And what a sinister looking font... I can hardly even read it...'

Squinting his eyes to figure what the horribly written kanji meant, he couldn't avoid but realize that the red characters almost had the same hue as blood, which made it even more creepy, especially when he managed to read the actual message on it.

'A horrible fate awaits the fool who bears this curse...'

Without any warning, as soon as he finished reading it the card suddenly caught fire, making him toss it away with a started cry. And before his very eyes it simply vanished without leaving ashes or any other trace behind.

“W-What the hell?!”

Taking a few steps away from the spot it disappeared, Keiichi wondered what had just happened. It seemed almost as one of those horror movies, where someone gets cursed and then dies in a horrible manner. Like having a creepy ghost after them or even a sudden zombie apocalypse out of nowhere.

Keiichi was so caught up in his ill thoughts, that he didn't notice the owner of the restaurant approaching him, using the kitchen's back door that led to the alley. Mr Yamada wondered why he was staring at the ground for no reason and placed a hand on his shoulder, only to get a bloodcurdling scream from him.

“Ah! Don't eat me!”

“What in the world are you yammering about, Morisato?” asked the elderly cook, raising a graying eyebrow at him. “Watching too much TV, again? Well... Snap out of it and get some work done, boy! You had enough of a break with that long trip.”

“Yes, Yamada-san...” Taking the next set of packages and the corresponding addresses, he really hoped that all this weirdness was probably just his tired mind playing tricks on him.

'I mean... A curse?... It must've been a mistake... There's got to be a scientific explanation, right? Like... Like... Spontaneous combustion... Yeah, that's it!'

XXX

Asgard, Goddess Relief Office

Sitting on her chair, the head of one of Asgard's wish granting agencies looked up from the report she was currently reviewing when a warning appeared in front of her terminal, demanding her attention. The brunette goddess skimmed through the message and she wasn't happy with what she saw at all. Apparently a young man that was on their evaluation queue got rejected, but, that by itself wasn't the problem as it happened all the time. Since the algorithms processed their profiles on multiple passes with increased restrictions on each iteration, most of the possible clients were proven to be unsuitable and only the best ones were sent to their wish granters for a personalized review, in order to eliminate the chance that an error or some external interference messed with the whole process.

This wasn't the case, though, as the reason was a very different and alarming one; presence of demonic traces on the boy. Technically that would've meant that he crossed paths with their enemies, but, Frigg was a seasoned goddess with a lot more experience than most of her subordinates, despite her youthful appearance which was the norm amongst the immortals. So, instead of simply assuming that he had fallen in the hands of the demons, she wanted to get to the bottom of this.

Access to information wasn't a problem for Asgard's former Representative Director of the Goddess Council during Odin's administration, who also happened to be her husband. While she stepped down from that position when he was declared missing in action during an operation that took place millennia ago, she still had a lot of connections and that allowed her to access information that most others couldn't. Sending a request through Valhalla's Intelligence Bureau would've taken days for the average goddess, but not for her.

Before she made any decisions about the mortal, she needed a very crucial bit of information, the identity of the one who pulled that stunt. And her nagging feeling was confirmed when the profiles of two demonesses came to her screen, the only ones who were currently located on Nekomi; her very own granddaughter, Urd and her companion, Mara. That demanded a very different approach, as sending the Valkyries after her stepson's eldest child wasn't something that she wanted to do at any point.

Instead of that, she hoped that her other two granddaughters could've proven to be invaluable at a situation like this, since the three sisters were going along very well. At the very least, they could get an explanation from Urd and perhaps reach a peaceful solution to this problem, instead of stating a big fight and turn Nekomi into a barren wasteland as a result.

Pressing a couple of keys on her console, she messaged the middle of the sisters to come to her office at once, and for a couple of minutes she went through the profile of the mortal man who got into the middle of this fiasco; Morisato Keiichi.

After knocking twice, a brunette goddess entered the office, her blue eyes cast downwards and fixed on the floor. “You asked for me, Frigg-sama?”

“My my... there's no need to be so formal, Belldandy,” said the elder goddess as she approached her somewhat similarly looking relative, even though they shared no blood. Both of them were dressed in blue and white gowns, had almost the same hair color and spoke in a soft, polite manner.

Despite that, there were some noticeable differences as well, like the fact that Frigg had green eyes, and most importantly, she possessed a series of ornate looking jewelry that adorned her form, including one that held her elaborate braid together. Those weren't simple vanity items, though, but limiters that every celestial and even demon used in order to make sure that they kept their powers under control. And judging by their number, Frigg wasn't one to be crossed.

“Forgive me, grandmother. I just felt that this was an official meeting and...” trailed the younger goddess, before she was was interrupted by her relative.

“Don't worry, Belldandy. We're on our own here and I needed to talk to you about something that happened very recently.” Going back to her desk to retrieve a datapad with Keiichi's profile in order to explain the situation better, she missed her granddaughter bowing down in apology.

“I'm really sorry! I didn't want to do it, but... I felt that it was necessary!” Belldandy's words greatly confused Frigg, who suddenly felt lost, not following what was going on here.

“Huh? What are you talking about?” asked the baffled goddess, blinking a few times in confusion. Belldandy was a very well mannered girl, so, it was extremely rare to see her do that. Unlike her younger sister, who constantly improved the destructive power of her explosives and resulted into a lot of those apologetic moments for more than obvious reasons.

“My last client. He was a bit disrespectful and... I... well... zapped him,” admitted Belldandy, lowering her gaze in the process. “Isn't that the reason I'm here?”

“No, not really. You have every right to remind others that they should watch their manners around you, and the same goes for all your colleagues as well.” Pausing, Frigg wondered what could've happened to prompt her granddaughter to actually attack a client, although, she wasn't a child anymore and trying to act protectively wouldn't help her at all. After all, she claimed to had dealt with the issue and for the moment that should be sufficient. “The reason I've called you here was a very different one. A mortal called Morisato Keiichi was removed from the system's client queue under... suspicious circumstances that require some investigation. More specifically, he got contaminated with residual demonic energy, and that was the primary reason for being rejected.”

Taking the datapad with the mortal's profile from Frigg, she quickly read as much as she could, before she turned back to her grandmother. “That's strange. He doesn't seem to be the kind of person that would've attracted the demons' attention, although, I haven't thoroughly checked his entire profile. Still... Why would they do this? He wasn't fully approved for a wish yet, so, why did they get into all that trouble this early on?”

“I have no idea, Belldandy. However, the trickiest part is that the only demonesses stationed on Nekomi are two that you're very familiar with; Urd and Mara. That's the main reason I called you, instead of anyone else,” explained Frigg, noticing her granddaughter flinch a bit as soon as she heard the news. “Do not worry, dear. I'm not asking you to get into a fight with her over this boy. As a matter of fact, I want to keep this entire matter off the record and as a simple request of mine. If push comes to shove, just leave and I'll send someone else to deal with it instead. For that reason, you'll be there on vacation, not on a mission. Understood?”

“Yes. Although... It would be strange for me to go on vacations alone all of a sudden. Most of the time, I try to take Skuld with me and Urd's fully aware of this.” Belldandy waited as Frigg scratched her chin for a moment and then went back to her console, typing for a while.

“All settled! I've managed to arrange for her to get a vacation as well, so you can both go to Midgard and take a look on the matter. After all, I think that this will actually be a much better option as you work really nice together. Plus, it's been a while since all the three managed to have time for yourselves; assuming that this won't go wrong, that is,” said Frigg with a smile, handing Belldandy her vacation papers. “Skuld's will have to wait for a while to get signed. But, once she gets them, it's fine for you to go to the mortal realm.”

Nodding, the younger goddess started for the door, before her grandmother called for her. “Oh... and Belldandy...”

“Yes?”

“Please tell Urd that I said hi,” added the elder goddess with a warm smile.

“Yes!”

Also, I've got the first chapter on FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/1/Ah-The-lost-contract

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I got to read what you put up last night. Very good start but there was something that you did I would like to point out. There was a lot of information that you gave about your universe up front, either in the Author's notes or in the first half of the chapter, that really could have waited to be discovered later on in the chapter or story. Do we really need to know about Loki, Thor, and Baldr now? Why not let us find out about the changes to the contract as we read, instead of throwing it out in your Author note? Personally, knowing that there was such a major difference up front took some of the fun out of reading the chapter. I think just telling us that its a reboot would be enough.

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Truth to be told, i wanted to avoid some of that information, as well. And they will be introduced properly later on, too. The only reason I mentioned them earlier, was to establish that Urd wasn't entirely cut from her divine family (originally I wanted to mention about this being Loki's idea and nothing more), although, now that I think of it, that could've been done in other ways, as well. Still, I think that I didn't just want to call it a reboot, because there are several AU stories and I've felt that I had to note some of the main differences between this and the manga. Aside from that, I won't really rush and introduce too much information from there on (it can be distracting and I agree that kind of takes some of the fun from the story), just what needs to be said at every chapter.

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Here's the draft for chapter 2:

“I'm really sorry, but we don't have anything that fits your requirements at the moment. Perhaps, you could give us your number and we could contact you in a couple of days if...”



Keiichi simply shook his head and turned away from the real estate agent, knowing all too well that this was just a polite way of telling him to get lost and not bother them if he was simply broke. “No, thank you, I'll have to look elsewhere.”

Walking outside the office and into the busy streets of Nekomi, he lowered his head in defeat. Pulling a list from his jacket, he realized that this was the last one for today and crushing the paper into a tiny ball, he tossed it into the nearest bin with more force that was actually necessary. To say that he was frustrated would've been an understatement, as the whole day so far was one disaster after the other.

Thanks to his late shift at Yamada's restaurant, Keiichi woke up late, only to discover that his bike wouldn't start up and there was no time for a quick check. Which naturally meant that not only he'd have to take a bus to NIT, but also during his whole search for an apartment. And with five more agencies not providing him with something remotely within his price range, Keiichi began to wonder if he was actually asking for the impossible and just postponing the inevitable; call home and ask for help.

With only two days left until he had to move out, the pressure was starting to get to him. Most of his dorm mates had already packed their things, and some were already in their new places, leaving him the last person who hadn't even started. Then again, it might've been his fault to begin with, since everyone else had to settle with having a roommate or two, except for Keiichi who stubbornly tried to find a place he could afford all by himself. He wasn't by any means an antisocial person who couldn't tolerate others. It was just that he finally wanted to have some personal space and more importantly time, especially if he wanted to graduate any time soon.

As entertaining as the antics of the Motor Club's members were, he felt that he was spending a disproportionally large part of his day fooling around, instead of working on his assignments or even going for a nice excursion on his BMW. Actually, the fact that his bike was broken at the moment was most likely due to poor maintenance, as he prioritized his part time job on top of the Club's latest project. For all he knew, it could've been something as simple as a bad spark plug, still, he had to rush and get to NIT before he missed another one of prof. Kakuta's classes.

Reaching for a smoke, he remembered that he was totally out and decided to head to the nearest convenience store to get a few packs. 'Hm... maybe I can grab some cups of instant noodles while there, as well...'

That's when a strange sight caught his attention, a foreign looking blonde woman crossed the street and went into the store moments before him. Keiichi was fairly certain that he hadn't met her and yet there was that unshakable feeling of familiarity that he couldn't quite explain, but neither dismiss as nothing at all. 'Hold on a second... She had a couple of red markings on her face... Just like that dark skinned woman on that temple had... Urd...'

Intrigued, the college student went after her, maintaining enough distance to avoid being detected. After all, he had no intention to get into trouble for acting like a stalker or any other kind of creep. Approaching her carefully using the store's shelves as cover, Keiichi spotted her check through some bottles of sake.

Unaware of having someone spying on her, Mara frowned as she tried to decide which one was the best choice, knowing very little about mortal brands of liquor. 'That Urd... She drinks all the booze and then I've got to go and buy more... How's that even fair? Oh, wait... we're demonesses, so... Hm?'

Looking over her shoulder, she would've sworn that she heard a weird noise coming from behind that shelf, but, she dismissed it as nothing really important. Shrugging, she put several of them in her shopping basket and took the list Urd had given her earlier in the morning. 'Let's see... Got the sake, so, next is... rice crackers, taiyaki, several types of tea, a dozen packages of different flavors of ice-cream, and the latest TV Afternoon magazine?... What does she think I am? A pack mule?'

Meanwhile, Keiichi placed the cans he accidentally dropped on his foot back on the shelf. Cursing his clumsiness, the college student hoped that nobody noticed him try to peep through the gap between the food racks, and think that he was a weirdo. Content that no one paid any attention to him, Keiichi decided that he pushed his luck too far and it was about time to get some distance between himself and the mysterious blonde, before she spotted him. However, he missed a single can that remained on the floor and without looking he stepped on it, sending him on what would've been a certain face-plant on the floor.

Before he became acquainted with one of sir Isaac's famous laws, the blonde he was previously observing walked into view, trying to find the next item in her list and unwillingly saved him from a painful collision with the hard floor. Instead, his face slammed hard against the demoness' bust in a rather comical, but terribly embarrassing moment. It was something almost out of a manga, although he doubted that it would end up into something nice for him, like it usually happened in fiction.

Indeed, after a painfully long moment that he needed to regain his composure, Keiichi looked upwards from his current position, and straight into the red eyes of the demoness who was staring him back. Even worse, she had a cruel smirk on her face exposing some of the sharpest canines he had seen on a real person.

“Enjoying yourself, boy?”

Chocking hard, he dislodged himself from her and quickly bowed in apology. However, without taking a step back, he only found himself back to the same spot he was moments ago, leaving both of them at a loss of words.

“Hey... You're not doing this on purpose, are you?...” muttered the blonde in a deadpan voice, furrowing her brows as she kept staring at him.

“No! I swear I'm not!” objected Keiichi, pulling away from her as fast as he possibly could. And before she could reply, he turned and bolted, hoping that she wouldn't chase him for being a pervert. “I'm sorry!”

'What a dork.... What was he doing here, anyway?' wondered Mara, scratching her chin. It was entirely possible that this was a mere coincidence, but, if that wasn't the case then it could easily become a problem. 'Hm... come to think of it, he does know that we're staying in that temple. Well, at least as far as Urd is concerned, since he never saw me yesterday. I guess I'll have to warn her, just in case.'

XXX

Far from Nekomi's downtown was an area that had seen much better days, with half of the buildings in the entire block uninhabited and in disrepair. It was one of the oldest parts of the city and with the gradual expansion towards NIT, as well as the harbor, most businesses had followed along. As such, the arcade that used to be a gathering spot of Nekomi's youth was abandoned, when its previous owners moved to a much better location. And with video games always evolving, they never felt it was actually worth the trouble to take the old ones along, given that they would've been replaced with newer ones anyway.

In one of the walls of such a place was an old pinball machine, its sides lined with reflective chrome panels designed to grab the customer's attention with their shiny mirror-like finish. Much of that luster was lost over the years it's been forgotten there, but, for a moment its entire surface suddenly light up in a heavenly glow that illuminated the entire room.

Even more, two forms started to emerge and stepped into the arcade, observing their surroundings as the portal behind them closed. Belldandy immediately picked the feeling of loneliness that emanated from the machines that were left there covered in a thick layer of dust, forgotten by the same people who once flocked around them.

“Wow... this place is totally ruined,” said Skuld, as she stepped away from her sister who had graciously invited her on this trip to Midgard. While officially declared as a vacation, the younger goddess had no delusion that it was merely an excuse and her sister never denied that fact, as she explained the real reason behind their presence here.

“Don't be so harsh, Skuld. You of all goddesses should know that it's a shame that those lovely machines were left here in such a manner,” said Belldandy in a firm, but gentle manner.

“Well... That doesn't change the fact that it looks as if a bomb went off in this place,” said Skuld with a shrug. “Anyway... Why are we here exactly? I thought that we had to help some guy who got cursed or something.”

“I believe that it might be possible that a curse was used to contaminate him with demonic energy, but, I'll have to take a closer look to determine that. However, I feel that going straight to him could be a dangerous move, especially knowing that Urd-neesan and Mara are located here in this city,” explained Belldandy. “We first determine what she's doing here, and then figure out what we're going to do about Morisato-san.”

“Oh, don't worry about that, oneesama!” beamed Skuld, pulling a pistol-like device from her blouse where the young goddess kept an impressive amount of tools, as well as an entire arsenal of explosives. “Tada! This is Mr. Curse Remover Mk. IV! It's only going to take a single pull of trigger and he's going to be back into normal! No curses, demonic energy or any other malicious program will remain in his body once the multipurpose security routine will cleanse all traces of it!.”

Belldandy eyed her sister's contraption with some doubt, worrying that she was probably trying too hard to impress her once again. And while Skuld was a surprisingly good at creating all sorts of machines, she tended to get overenthusiastic at times, leading her to bite more than she could chew, with potentially disastrous results. “We'll... have to see about that, Skuld. In the meanwhile, why don't you wait here until I check on Neesan?”

“Eh?...” The younger goddess visibly deflated, as not only her Mr. Curse Remover Mk. IV was more or less rejected, but, she wasn't going to see Urd. Skuld was actually looking forward to meet with her eldest sister, despite the fact that she idolized Belldandy. After all, she only got a handful of opportunities these days to interact with her troublesome sibling and this would've been a nice excuse to do so. “But!... oneesama...”

“Don't look at me like that, Skuld,” said Belldandy with a frown, placing her hands on her younger sister's shoulders. “I need to make sure that she's in a good mood, before I let you get there. I don't want to start anything, given how you tend to antagonize each other when you decide to... play. Besides... I kind of want to avoid having this lovely city to turn into a gigantic crater. Although... Now that I think of it, due to its proximity to the ocean, it's more likely to turn into a bay? Or a lagoon? Hm...”

Chuckling nervously, Skuld tried to look innocent avoiding to comment at her sister's jab. It was indeed true that occasionally Urd pushed the youngster to the point where explosives went flying in all directions. Still, for a first class demoness and a powerful one at that, Urd was utterly incapable of landing a direct hit at her. Which was mostly a deliberate act, since she could've easily gotten her if she was actually serious. As a matter of fact, Skuld had witnessed Urd's wrath once, when a foolish god tried to challenge the half demoness, and she simple swatted him like an insect. That was totally different from their 'fights' whenever they got into an argument. “Okay! Is it going to be fine, though? You'll be on your own, while there are two of them...”

“Please do not worry about me. At no point, Urd had ever attempted to use a real attack spell on me, or worse, a sealing one. For a member of the Eldjotnar, the fierce warriors of Muspelheim, that's something almost unheard of. So, I'm fairly confident that I can manage on my own,” explained Belldandy in an effort to calm her sister down.

“Then why can't I come as well?” asked the confused goddess. “If she's not serious with you either, then...”

“Let's say that after the last time we got into a fight, I don't want to have any company in the event we repeat the same incident,” said Belldandy with some concern in her voice.

“Wait! What did she do?” asked the alarmed goddess. “If she did something bad, the I'll...”

“There's no need to get too worked up about that. It was more a prank than anything malicious,” said Belldandy as a hint of red appeared on her cheeks. “She merely dematerialized my combat uniform.”

“Oh, I see. That's nothing too...” started Skuld before she suddenly paused, processing that last part. “She did what?! Grr!... When I get my hands on her!...”

“No! You'll stay here and wait for me! I'll return as soon as possible and if you've good, I'll get you some ice-cream,” said Belldandy. “Then we can solve the whole matter with Morisato-san and once that's out of the way, I'll take you to see Urd. Technically speaking, we're still on vacations, so, there's no need to return back to Asgard right away.”

Nodding vigorously, Skuld wholeheartedly approved her sister's plan. Especially the ice-cream part, one of her favorite delicacies and also her alternative power source, whenever the primary one was inaccessible. While immortals were fully autonomous in their own realms, Midgard was an exception, since it was technically a three dimensional world, instead of a ten dimensional one. Due to that difference they couldn't use their native powers directly, as such a thing would've caused extensive damage to the land of the mortals. So, they all relied on their mainframes to do the conversion exchanging their natural energies to something that was locally available. In the rare event where they were cut off, they could use alternative methods for replenishing their strength, and for Skuld that was by eating ice-cream, while Belldandy did the same by sleeping.

Seeing the delighted look on her sister's face, the wish granter smiled and headed towards the pinball machine, in order to teleport to the demonesses' lair.

'Here goes nothing.'

XXX

“Urd! I'm back!”

Getting no reply, Mara set the shopping bags on the floor, dismissing her shoes before she stepped inside the home, an incomprehensible human custom in these parts of Midgard. It wasn't unusual for the half demoness to forget herself whenever she worked on her alchemical projects and that left her to deal with the menial task of putting the purchased goods in their rightful place.

Thankfully, the house was in a much better state than yesterday, as the blonde worked hard to restore everything back to their original state. And for all her trouble, Urd hadn't even offered her the promised reward, as she was already fast asleep by the time Mara was done. Even then, the demoness had secretly hoped that at the very least, she earned a morning kiss, only to get a shopping list instead.

'She's so evil... And she's only a half demoness... I don't even want to imagine how she would've been if she was pure blood,' thought the blonde with a shiver, as she envisioned Urd wearing her mother's clothes and laughing haughtily. 'Brr... Scary... Go away terror... Go... Huh?'

Hearing a conversation coming from the nearby living room, she headed there to check what was going on, only to find the half demoness floating leisurely in front of a small red TV that wasn't there the previous day. “Hey! Where did that come from? I don't remember summoning it yesterday...”

“Oh! Ma-chan! You're back!” beamed the bronze skinned demoness.

“Don't give me that, Urd! I thought that you insisted to acquire all that stuff in the normal manner, instead of using our powers,” said Mara, stomping her foot in annoyance. “And then you went along and conjured a TV!”

“Actually, I got it from a second-handed shop downtown,” explained Urd. “There was no magic involved.”

“Oh! You should've told me that in the first place,” offered the demoness in an apologetic tone, before she went and retrieved the magazine that her companion had requested. However, she felt that there was something off with Urd's explanation, and the more she thought about, the more she became convinced that this was the case. “Here. That's the one you wanted, right?”

“Yes! Thanks, Ma-chan! Now I can check the schedule for any shows that I might like!” said Urd, as she quickly flipped through the pages.

“Have fun... I don't really like those soap operas. Too mushy for my tastes, and they take forever to go anywhere with their so called plot.” Shrugging, the blonde went back to the kitchen, paying no attention to her companion who was marking several shows that she felt she needed to check.

Getting the shopping bags in the kitchen, she began to put everything in the right place, before realization hit her. The primary reason why she'd gone shopping was that, Urd was supposedly planning to work on some potion. However, moments ago she admitted that she's been to Nekomi, leaving the blonde with the nagging feeling that she's been tricked; once again.

“Urd!” Running back to the living room, Mara pointed an accusatory finger at the startled half demoness. “You just fooled me again, didn't you?”

Letting the magazine down on the low table, Urd reached towards the kitchen's direction causing a package of rice crackers to fly to her, narrowly missing the blonde's head. Opening the plastic bag, she took one of the crunchy snacks and then extended her arm, offering some to the irked demoness. “Have some, they're really good...”

“Don't mind if I do,” said the blonde with a look that would've otherwise been described as goofy, taking a couple of them and spending a few moments chewing along with Urd, who was already halfway through the package. “Hey... Slow down, you glutton. At this rate there won't be any left for me to... Wait a moment!... That's not why I was here!...”

“Hm?” Taking another bite, Urd titled her head in confusion. “What was it then?”

“You totally went to Nekomi! I thought that you wanted to work on your potions or something. Wasn't that the reason why I had to go there alone in the first place?” asked Mara, narrowing her eyes at the half demoness.

“That's exactly what I did, to be honest with you. I simply needed sugar for my project and quickly went to grab some,” explained Urd. “That's when I saw the TV and I thought that I wanted one, as well.”

Scratching her head, the blonde demoness had finally calmed down completely, taking some rice crackers, before they were all decimated by Urd. “Okay... that makes sense. So... what's the new project all about?”

“Nothing too major, really... I mixed something to earn us some quick revenue from spreading a little bit of misery. And while painful, it's mostly harmless.” Summoning a glass jar filled with small pills that somehow resembled walnuts, she presented them to Mara who seemed intrigued. “This is my brand new alchemical product; the Nutcracker.”

“Huh? How is breaking nuts any useful for us?” asked the blonde, feeling a bit lost.

“No silly, not that kind of nuts... Look... Whoever takes a single one of those puppies, will get a nasty surprise whenever they make any naughty thoughts. More specifically, they'll receive the exact same sensation as a nice, hard kick on their groin,” explained Urd with a wink. “And given that we're in a college city, the number of potential victims can be rather impressive. So, if we ever need to make some quick and dirty income from spreading misery, that's our ticket.”

“I like it! It's so evil!...” Grinning from ear to ear, Mara pondered on the possible application of such a tool. “Does it have any other side effects?”

“Nope. Nothing physically harmful anyway. It just gives them something to remember for a long while,” said Urd playfully tossing the jar up and down.

“Cool! Can I have one of them?” asked the blonde demoness with a grin.

Raising an eyebrow, Urd wasn't entirely certain what her companion would've done with it at this point. They've barely gotten here and there were more important things to do than pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Unless of course, she was planning to use it on someone else, which was a possibility that the half demoness had already predicted. “It's designed to work on mortals only. Just in case, you got any funny ideas, Mara.”

“Oh, come on! I've turned you into a redhead once and you keep bringing it up...” complained the blonde, frowning at her companion. “Besides, why would I ever pull that on you? I mean, I may be evil, but I'm not dumb!”

“Aw... you do care!” said Urd with a surprisingly sweet tone that made her companion turn slightly blue. Mara had always been somewhat allergic to sappy comments and romantic setups, which was a general demonic trait, although, the exact effect of it greatly varied between individuals. Some, like her were actually reacting in a noticeable manner, while others could ignore it completely, to the point where they could be described as immune. Still, she knew that as funny as it seemed, pushing the blonde's buttons beyond a certain point would make it seem less of a joke and more like abuse. “But seriously... What would you do with it?”

“Well... I ran into that Morisato guy, or rather... he ran into me; literally,” said Mara with a disgusted expression. “I was just minding my business, getting everything you had in the list, and he just shows up and slams his stupid face right into my bust. And for a good measure, he did it again while he supposedly apologized... I mean... seriously?...The nerve of that guy!”

Urd actually tried her best to contain her mirth, but it proved to be an impossible task. The mere thought of that shy and reserved boy face-planting not once, but twice into Mara's cleavage was far too hilarious and she burst into laughter, much to the other demoness' chagrin. “So, that's why you want one? Sorry, but I think that we'll have to keep away from him for a while. Messing too much with him and we're going to attract some unnecessary attention.”

“Fine! Have it your way, then!” snorted Mara. “I'll go and have a nice bath. All the contact with that perv makes me feel itchy.”

“Sure thing, Ma-chan! I've used the bath already, so, feel free to take your time!” Watching the blonde leave the living room, Urd's expression slightly darkened. It was fairly obvious that, Keiichi knew where she lived, but, she doubted that he'd try to visit her again anytime soon. And his encounter with Mara was most likely an accident, even if her companion refused to admit it. She was certain that the blonde was primarily angry of being part of something that seemed out of a comedy, instead of having him collide with her. After all, if he was really a pervert, he would've accepted her offer yesterday and Mara was well aware of that, too. Still, if he kept running into them by accident there was the dangerous possibility to become interested in one of them, especially her. Without knowing that she was merely testing him, Keiichi could've gotten the wrong idea, an outcome that greatly endangered her plans.

It was when a startled shriek that came from the bath that made Urd breath a sigh of relief. She was finally here and hopefully things would progress in the desirable manner from this point on. 'But, first things first! I have to go and greet Bell-chan!'

Floating into the corridor, she found her sister hurrying out of the bath, slamming the door behind her, as she tried to recover from what seemed to be a rather embarrassing moment.

“I'm terribly sorry, Mara! I didn't meant to walk on you like that!” apologized the brunette goddess, hoping that her bad timing wasn't going to undermine her efforts here by enraging them.

“You better be! You're a goddess for hell's sake! Use the freaking door for once, will you?” shouted the blonde demoness from the other side of the door.

“I...”

“Bell-chan!” Without any delays, Urd tackled her younger sibling, getting her arms tightly around her. “It's been such a long time!”

“Neesan?” Trying to maintain her balance, the brunette goddess looked at her sister's smiling face. There was absolutely nothing out of place that would've indicated any malicious intent, and for a moment, Belldandy chided herself for thinking about that. Instead, she returned the gesture, as it had been quite some a while since the last time they've met in person.

“Don't just stand there! Come this way! I've got a few things for you to try!” Pulling her along, it almost seemed like a scene from the past, when Urd used to do the exact same thing, trying to show her little sisters the various interesting things they could find in her mother's vast mansion.

“Please calm down a bit!... I...” started the goddess, as she tried to keep up with her enthusiastic sibling.

Coming to an abrupt stop in the kitchen, Urd presented a small stack of paper boxes that contained a great variety of tea types and flavors. “Which one you like the most? Don't be shy, we've got several of them! And there are plenty of snacks, as well.”

Knowing from experience that arguing with her would've been utterly futile, Belldandy checked the various types of tea, before she pointed at a particular one. “Hm... This seems rather lovely. Although, I...”

“So... What brings you here, Bell? Finished with a wish and stopped to say hello?” As a matter of fact, Urd had a very good idea of what was going on, but decided that acting innocent was the preferred course of action in a situation like this. Any direct confrontation at such an early stage would've only ruined everything.

“I'm here on vacations,” started the brunette goddess, feeling very uncomfortable that she had to use her official excuse, instead of the actual purpose of her presence in the mortal realm. After all, lying was forbidden for a first class goddess such as herself, and although it was technically the truth, Belldandy couldn't help but wonder if acting in such an evasive manner was something appropriate.

“What a coincidence! Me and Ma-chan are here on vacations, too! It's been a while we had some time for ourselves, you know. All that work in Muspelheim is killing me, especially since my latest promotion to the rank of Lieutenant first class. Those damn sand dragons... always out for a snack and we've got to keep them under control. What a pain... And don't let me start on...” Urd simply went on, talking for the whole couple of minutes it took the tea to be ready. In fact talking had been one of her weaknesses, as she often started and then forgot stop. Especially whenever she tried to to catch up with her sisters, no mater how insignificant those details of her daily life were.

Looking up from her steaming tea, Belldandy tried to absorb all that torrent of information. “So... being promoted to your rank allows you to have access to a personal bath?”

“No. We've got baths in our homes, alright. It's just that they're those horrid sonic showers that pretty much everyone has to use. Water is rationed in Muspelheim, since the place is totally dry with very few oases being the only locally available source of it. While we don't need to drink it, it's still useful on everyday life and to reduce our dependence on it, we don't carelessly waste it. Sure, we recycle as much as we can, but, a real jacuzzi is only a dream until you get past a certain rank in the military,” explained Urd with glee. “Now I can finally take a real bath. Did you know that some visiting demons often mistake sonic showers for torturing devices? That happens for a good reason...”

Giggling, the brunette goddess took a sip from her tea, before she set the cup on the low table in front of her. “That's nice to hear, neesan. Are you going to stay here for a while?”

“Yes, we are! As a matter of fact why don't you bring Skuld with you? I bet that she's probably bored to tears waiting in some dark corner, until you determined if I'm in a good mood. Come on, don't give me that look, I know you better than you might think,” said Urd with a smirk. “Although, you seem to not know me at all. When was the last time, I was so pissed that I lost my temper?”

“Um... Back when Skuld accidentally broke a vial of your potions, I believe,” said Belldandy with a frown. “You ate the ice cream that your mother had given her as a treat...”

“Oh, come on, Belldandy! She should've kept away from those racks, like a good goddess. Who knows what would've happened if she got splashed with something particularly nasty... There were some serious stuff there, and it could've turned really ugly. Besides, mom gave her another ice-cream, while she thought I wasn't looking,” objected Urd. “Not to mention that I've sent her a box of explosive charges as an apology for making her cry.”

“You sent her what?!” asked the shocked goddess. “H-How did that even pass through the security checks?!”

“It's really easy, actually. I only included the basic materials and detailed instructions on how to make the explosives. That way, the package won't be confiscated by Asgard's security,” explained Urd with a wink.

“But... that's dangerous! She could've gotten herself hurt!” objected Belldandy.

“Maybe. Although, she had already been trying to make her own version of bombs and that was even more dangerous. At least, the ones I gave her were more stable and safe to handle,” said Urd. “Of course, she's using a modified variety nowadays that's way more powerful than the original batches, but, she's a lot more experienced now. Not to mention all the other things that she came up on her own.”

Nodding slowly, the brunette goddess had to agree with her sister. Skuld had made tremendous progress as far as her inventions were concerned. Which had turned to be both a blessing and a curse, as it hindered her efforts to use magic in the same manner like everyone else did. “I cannot disagree with your points, although, I wish that she would've spent some more time to learn how to use magic. She's old enough to have an angel and yet she never even tried to get an egg for herself.”

Urd took a sip from her tea, thinking about her youngest sister's situation. “I wouldn't be so sure about it, Bell-chan. After all, she does infuses her inventions with her powers, despite the fact that she's oblivious about it. In the end she's most likely going to be a lot more powerful compared to most people's expectations. And if she were to know about her uniqueness, she could become really a pain to deal with. Not having an angel right now isn't as much of a problem, compared to the long term benefits she's going to have once she realizes how to use her abilities in the most efficient manner. Direct magic manipulation on such a level is a fairly rare and extremely valuable skill.”

“I think that, as well. Allowing her to become conceited is by far the worst outcome for Skuld. Still, I don't believe that leaving her on her own will yield any desirable results. As it is, she has little confidence in her magical powers and this clearly affects her social interactions with other celestials who are around her age. While an overinflated ego is a problem, going for the complete opposite is not much better either,” said Belldandy.

“Then why don't you use your time here in a more constructive manner? Vacation or not, it's a perfect opportunity to spend some time together and teach her a thing or two,” suggested Urd. “I can help as well, if you want. I may be a demoness, but, I'm a goddess as well. So, I can show her a few spells she might like.”

Belldandy's face light up as she heard her sister's offer. It would've been very beneficial for Skuld to interact with both of them, and not only for the sake of learning about magic. “That would be great, neesan! I'll definitely bring her here whenever I can, and I believe that she's going to like that, too!”

“It's a deal, then!” said Urd with a grin, before she paused. “Come to think of it... Have you found a place to stay? Me and Ma-chan got this temple that seemed abandoned, and we had to restore it back to its original state.”

Before the goddess had a chance to reply, the living room's door opened revealing the residence's second demoness. “We? What's all that 'we' stuff? I did all the hard work!”

“Oh! There you are, Ma-chan!” beamed Urd. “You sure took your sweet time...”

“Hey... give me a break. I had a busy day, so, I used the opportunity to relax a bit,” said Mara as she took a seat next to them. “After running to that boy and then having a goddess walk in me while I was about to enter the bathtub... I think that I deserved a nice, long soak in the tub.”

Offering the newcomer a cup of tea, Belldandy finally saw the opportunity to inquire about the aforementioned boy. “I'm terribly sorry for what happened earlier... Although, what do you mean about running into someone?”

“Oh! It was the guy that came here yesterday,” started the blonde, before she actually realized who exactly she was talking to. “Uh... I mean...”

Pinching the bridge of her nose in annoyance, Urd was now facing the very topic that she had desperately tried to avoid. While she had no delusions that Keiichi's removal from the wish queue was the primary reason behind her sisters' presence in Midgard, she felt that Belldandy would've been reluctant to ask her directly. At least, not before she knew more about the whole situation. Letting out a sigh, Urd decided to minimize the damage as much as it was feasible at this point. “She means the delivery boy who brought us our dinner. I've felt that since we got here, we should at the very least sample some of the local cuisine, so, I've ordered some sushi.”

“And the person who brought it here happened to be someone by the name Morisato Keiichi?” asked Belldandy.

“Yes! That's what he was called!” said Urd in faked surprise. “How do you know?”

“He was apparently in our potential customer list and was eventually rejected due to traces of demonic energy that were detected into his body,” explained the brunette goddess, hoping to get a reaction from one of them.

“Ma-chan put a cursed card in his wallet as a prank. Nothing that actually harmed him, just a little joke to scare him a bit. That must've contaminated him,” said Urd carefully altering some of the truth to avoid telling her sister a straight lie. While it was perfectly fine for first class demonesses to deceive others, her relationship with the celestial side of her family could be actually endangered if she actively attempted to fool them. As such, Urd had always been careful and only twisted the truth when it came to her sisters, just enough to deny any accusations of lying.

Trying to redeem herself for her blunder, Mara decided to also add something that would've cemented their alibi. “Besides, how we were supposed to know that he was one of your potential client list? It's common knowledge that hacking into your system is strictly prohibited, just like you're not supposed to attempt the same with ours. Why would we ever jeopardize our careers and face severe punishment for the sake of a single mortal's wish? I mean... that's beyond stupid.”

Urd had to give her companion some credit for that. After all, the Doublet System was only the spearhead of the peace effort, and there were other laws to prevent an escalation of hostilities. And since both mainframes were central for their everyday operations, it was agreed than none should be allowed to attempt and mess with their competitor's system. And that was exactly the case with them as well, as it would've been extremely foolish to risk getting stuck as a low level life form, just for something so insignificant.

Of course, what neither of them mentioned was that there weren't any problems if a celestial gave them the list. As long as they hadn't hacked into the Yggdrasil mainframe, no rules were broken. Still, without that small but far from insignificant detail, it would've been unlikely for Belldandy to keep suspecting them. After all, they were both notorious for pulling all kinds of crazy pranks whenever they felt like having some fun, especially now that they were on vacations.

“I see... I suppose that it must've been a coincidence, then. If I remember correctly from his profile, Morisato-san is a truly unfortunate soul, so, maybe it was his bad luck that caused all this misunderstanding...” Drinking the rest of her tea in silence, Belldandy felt that there was still something more to this, however, without any evidence or even the slightest of indications she would've never pressed on. “I thank you for your time, neesan. I've had a lot of fun here, but, I need to go back to Skuld before she begins to worry.”

“Aw... You're leaving already?” said Urd with a frown. “Although, keeping the kiddo waiting isn't a good option. She kind of gets all sorts of crazy ideas whenever she gets too much free time on her hands.”

Giggling, the brunette goddess got up and started to head towards the door. “That she does!”

“Do me a favor and bring her along next time, okay? Tell her I've got ice-cream waiting in the freezer for her.” Following her younger sibling to the residence's front door, Urd waived at her, as she politely reminded her companion to do the same, even if took a pinch in her hindquarters before she got the message.

“Yeah! Come again!... or something...” added Mara, as she covertly rubbed the pain away.

“I will! Oh, I nearly forgot!” said Belldandy, stopping as she was about to leave. “Grandmother wanted to tell toy that she says hello!”

Urd's expression actually softened when she heard that, and smiled back at her sister. “Tell her I'm doing fine, okay? I'll send her a letter when I've got some time.”

“No worries, neesan. I'll do that!” Walking down the stone path that led to the temple's entrance, the brunette goddess missed the triumphant look that the two demonesses shared for a moment, bumping their fists together.

“Not only we haven't gotten into a fight, but, next time she's bringing Skuld with her, too,” said Urd with a content smile. “Now, that's what I'd call a success!”

“That all nice and everything...” started the blonde demoness. “Although... Shouldn't we stop them? She's not gonna have any problems to remove the curse, you know.”

“Don' worry, Ma-chan....” Grinning the half demoness' eyes briefly turned bright red, before she turned around and headed back to the living room. “We're not alone in this.”

XXX

Meanwhile, in a far corner of Nekomi, Skuld was bored out of her mind. It's already been more than half an hour and there were still no news from her oneesama. Normally she would've been worried, but, knowing that she was with Urd, the younger goddess imagined that they were merely catching up; while she was stuck in this dilapidated arcade.

'This sucks! Why do I always have to stay behind?'

Pacing around the room, she had absolutely nothing to do other than wait. Still, she really wished that there was something that she could've done to prove that she wasn't a child anymore. As kind and gentle her oneesama was, Skuld had no delusions that she treated her like a helpless kid who couldn't hold her ground in a fight. Of course, she hadn't wished for something bad to go between her sisters so that she got the chance to prove her wrong.

'Hey... I still have Mr. Curse Remover Mk. IV! Oneesama didn't seem too excited about using it, but... if I were to solve all this mess, then she's probably gonna be impressed by my machine! I'm such a genius!'

Reaching for her blouse, she recovered a tiny palmtop computer, and began her search for their primary goal; Morisato Keiichi. Seconds later, she managed to spot him several city blocks away from her, and while not exactly close, it wasn't that far either. She could definitely manage to drop by his location, zap him and then return back, before Belldandy did.

'Okay! I can do this, so... Hm... Where was it?' Searching though her storage stash that was somehow integrated to her clothes, the young goddess' eyes lit up as she found what seemed to be a small metallic cube.

And without wasting any more time, she ran outside of the abandoned building where she pressed the single button that was located on that tiny item in her hands. Setting it on the ground, it began to unfold and form what appeared to be a scooter, despite the fact that its original size was several times smaller than its transformed one.

Jumping on the seat, she secured her palmtop computer on the handlebar where she could easily see the path she had to take to reach her target. Satisfied that everything was fine, Skuld started the scooter's electric engine and quietly headed towards her destination.

XXX

Having no other plans for the day, Keiichi decided to return back to the dorm earlier. After all, he still had to check his BMW and see what was wrong with it. 'At the very least, that way I can say that this wasn't a totally unproductive day.'

He still had no solution for his housing situation, but, without a decent means of transportation, Keiichi doubted that he could come up with something soon. Going from one real estate to another took a lot more time if he had to rely on buses; time that he just didn't have anymore.

'If I won't find anything tomorrow, then I'll have to call home and see if they're gonna help me. Providing that I'll convince them to increase my allowance, I'll have one final day to pick the first house I'll be able to afford, before I'll be forced to take my stuff from the dorm. Man... That's rough. And if they disagree... Then I'm royally screwed... No doubt about it.'

Entering the dorm, Keiichi was greeted with an uncharacteristic silence, although, several of the tenants were already in their new apartments, or at the very least they've moved most of their stuff and only hang around for old times' sake. In a way it was a bit sad that he had to leave this place. Sure, it had been always a bit too noisy here and the rooms were a bit cramped, but, in a way he'd miss this dorm.

“Yo, Morisato!”

Looking behind him, before he got the chance to get into his room, Keiichi spotted the two resident troublemakers of this place. His sempais and heads of NIT's Motor Club, Toraichi Tamiya and Hikozaemon Otaki. “What's up? Did you guys just got back?”

“Nah... We were in the back, fixing your ride,” said Tamiya, giving him a thumbs up.

“Yeah, dude. We've noticed that you had some problems with it earlier in the morning and decided to do something about it,” added Otaki. “And it was just a bad spark plug, so, no worries. Fixed it in a second.”

“I totally knew it!” said Keiichi, breathing a sigh of relief. After all, the last thing he needed right now was some costly repair for his BMW. “Wish I had the time to check it out myself, but... You know how, Kakuta feels about deadlines... And those who happen to be late...”

“You didn't have to remind me!” said Otaki with a chuckle. Leaning closer, he quickly checked at Tamiya's direction, to make sure that he wasn't paying attention to them. “Hey... Morisato? Found any apartment, yet? We need to leave in two days, you know.”

“Nope, nothing at all... I need to keep looking,” said Keiichi, as his shoulders slumped. “But, thanks for the help with the bike. That will make things a bit easier.”

“Don't mention it, dude!” said Otaki dismissively. “Den-chan was getting worried, so, I thought I should ask...”

Who's getting worried?” yelled an embarrassed Tamiya, grabbing Otaki in a headlock. “Why you, blabbermouth!... If you've got time to spread such nonsense, then help me pack my things!”

Laughing despite his situation, Otaki waived at Keiichi. “See ya later, Morisato!”

“Later, guys.” Keiichi couldn't help but smile at those two. Despite their intimidating looks and hare brained schemes, they were actually good people. A bit eccentric and utterly incapable of keeping the Motor Club properly funded, but... nobody was perfect, after all.

Considering that he had nothing better to do for the remainder of his day, he felt that going out for a ride on his BMW was a much better option, now that is was working. Besides, he needed to make sure that there wasn't anything else wrong with it and the best way to do that was by testing it. 'Plus, I've got to buy some cigarettes. I haven't gotten any after that... incident.'

Walking towards his parked bike, the college student had no idea how he managed to involve himself in something that looked like a scene from a comedy show. 'Oh well... I can't do anything now. Although... what's up with running into women with strange tattoos on their face? Is it a new thing these days?'

Starting his bike and heading for another convenient store, he narrowly missed the scooter that stopped in front of the old dorm, moments after he was gone.

'Huh? He's moving a lot faster all of a sudden.' Checking her palmtop once again, she was certain that he must've just left. 'Great... Now I've got to chase him all over this city! Well... Bring it on, buddy!'

Fifteen minutes later, Keiichi was walking out of the closest convenience store, and thankfully nothing particularly embarrassing took place this time around. In fact, for the first time in the last couple of days he felt relaxed. As a matter of fact, he always got into a better mood whenever he rode a motorcycle and for a moment he thought that he should go and try the Nekomi circuit once again. Tomorrow was a long day, too, and he felt that a small race would've given him the extra energy he needed.

“Are you Morisato Keiichi?”

The sudden question startled the student, who turned behind him, only to find a young looking girl who seemed to be eleven or twelve years old at most. However, the most peculiar thing was that she appeared to be a foreigner, dressed in a red and pink outfit, but more importantly, she also had some strange markings on her face. Unlike the other ones he had seen, hers were blue and shaped like the outlines of water droplets. 'Okay... This is getting really weird...'

“That's me,” said Keiichi after a few seconds of awkward silence. “Who are you, though?”

“I'm goddess second class, first category, limited license, Skuld,” said the dark haired girl, pointing a finger at him. “And I'm here to relieve you of your curse.”

“Huh?” For a moment, Keiichi was almost certain that she was either pulling a prank on him or... she was just crazy. Still, the memory of that eerie card made him pause and consider the extremely unlikely possibility that she was for real. Of course, believing that this kid was a goddess seemed to be too much for him and he remained rather skeptical. “A curse?”

“Yes. According to the Yggdrasil mainframe, you're under some curse that contaminated your body with demonic energy. So, I need to perform a cleanup routine in order...” started Skuld, only to realize that the mortal had already turned around and began to leave. “Hey! Where are you going?”

“I've got better things to do,” said Keiichi, fully expecting that this was some zany plot from a money grabbing group who scammed people for money. 'Cleaning routine... Yeah, right... I bet she's gonna charge me an arm and a leg... Nope... Don't need that.'

On the other hand, Skuld couldn't believe the nerve of that guy. She came all the way from Asgard to help him, and he acted like an indifferent and ungrateful brat. Still, as a goddess she had a duty to perform and no matter how difficult he was, she was going to purify him whether he wanted or not. Pulling Mr. Curse Remover Mk. IV from her blouse, she aimed the pistol-like gadget at him. “Hold it! You're not going anywhere before I'm done with you!”

“Now, look... I...” started Keiichi, before he turned and noticed the weird looking device this so called goddess had pointed at him. Even if he hadn't seen anything like that before, judging by its general shape he doubted that it meant anything good for him. Apparently this young lady had just turned a gun at him and Keiichi feared that his time on this cruel world was a bout to come to an abrupt end. “W-Wait a-a s-second! D-Don't do anything too h-hasty!”

“That's my line, buster! Just hold still for a second, so I can shoot you with... Hey!... Hold still, I said!” Once more, the dark haired boy turned away from her, but this time, he was running for dear life and despite his scrawny looks he proved to be rather fast. “I haven't purified you, yet!”

Thanks, but I want to live an impure life!” screamed the panicked student, hurrying to his trusty bike that was parked on a nearby street. Jumping on the seat, he desperately tried to start the engine as fast as he could and accelerated away from the crazy girl. Glad that he was finally safe, he managed to retrieve his helmet from the sidecar and put it on, wondering what he had done to deserve such a fate. 'What happened back there? I've had all sorts of crazy things in my life, but... A gun? Man, that's rough!... Huh?'

Looking at the rear mirror, he immediately saw that girl riding a scooter after him, and despite its small frame, it was actually catching up to him. Without thinking, he revved the engine of his BMW going above the speed limit, although, it was something he had to do in order to save his life. Even more, for the very first time he didn't stop as he approached a red traffic light, startling a young woman who was trying to cross the road. “I'm really sorry! It's an emergency!”

'Was that, Morisato-san?' Belldandy took a few steps back, watching the fast moving bike and its surprisingly familiar driver head towards the city's edge, the same direction she came from. While she had actually flown all the way here, the goddess decided to walk the rest of the way to the abandoned arcade. Belldandy even made a stop to buy some ice-cream from her sister and hoped that this treat would've been sufficient to appease Skuld, considering that she was left all alone for quite a while. Or... that's what she wanted to think, as the young goddess suddenly came into view, chasing after the college student on her scooter. 'Wait!... Skuld?! What in Asgard's name is she doing?'

Unfortunately, Keiichi's pursuer was too focused on her task and failed to notice her sister. Instead she accelerated as much as her machine could handle, but, it just wasn't enough. This particular scooter was never meant for races and as such, it was getting hard to keep up with the fleeing college student. 'Why you... I'm getting in all this trouble to help you and you're acting like this? If you want a fight, then I'll give you one! Scramjet attachment, activate!'

Ports on either side of the scooter's sides opened, letting two support beams expand as the new modules began to unfold in the same manner that the rest of the vehicle did minutes ago. Once fully deployed, a pair of miniature jet engines started to rev up coming into live with a mighty, ear shattering roar. Especially when the afterburners kicked in, further increasing the tiny vehicle's speed

In fact, they were so loud that even Keiichi could hear them, despite the fact that he was way ahead of the little goddess. 'Huh? What's that sound?...'

Checking at the rear mirror, the college student was gobsmacked when he saw the rapidly approaching jet-powered scooter. This whole mess was starting to become downright surreal, almost like a scene from a movie, and for a moment he actually pinched himself to make sure that he wasn't having a bad dream. At any rate, that girl was hot on his tracks, but, he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. 'She's way too fast... So, if I take a sharp turn, she's gonna have a hard time to catch up. Not with those tiny wheels, anyway...'

Indeed, Skuld had a very difficult time steering her jet-powered scooter and was forced to slow down on every corner. This quickly put her in a situation where she couldn't actually catch up to him, as he managed to slowly increase his distance from her, every time he took a turn. However, it was nearly impossible to completely shake her off his tail, since she regained much of her lost ground whenever they were on a straight. As the impromptu race went on, the college student realized that the best way to lose her was the mountain road. With so many twisting turns, it was going to be the best place for him to maximize his advantage and hopefully get rid of the gun slinging girl.

Realizing his strategy, Skuld was growing increasingly frustrated as the two of them raced through the swirling Nekomi Circuit. Every attempt to go faster had the opposite effect as she struggled to stay on the road, and the strain on her scooter was getting to the point where she stared to worry that it might actually break once its frame reached the limits of its structural strength. She even thought of using a bomb to force him to slow down, but, offensive measures could prove to be extremely dangerous with mortals being very fragile. Her mission was to help him, not kill him and without much in terms of magic, she couldn't really heal him if anything went horribly wrong. 'Wait a moment... Why am I even chasing him on this? I've got something much better!'

Grinning, the young goddess pressed the folding button and in a moment the scooter stopped and reverted back into a cube. Retrieving the object, Skuld changed into a skintight pink and white combat uniform and stashed her contraption, while retrieving another one; her personal, dual scramjet-powered flier. Strapping it securely on her back, the goddess wasn't in any particular hurry to go after her mortal target, and thought that it would've been funny to give him a short moment of victory before she proved him wrong.

'You had your chance. Now, It's my turn to show you what I can do.' Hovering above ground, she slowly started to move forward, before the two engines kicked in, sending her flying at a dazzling speed. Following the mountain's contour, Skuld immediately spotted Keiichi and without having to use her hands for steering anymore, she trained her Mr. Curse Remover Mk. IV at the unsuspected college student.

Meanwhile, Keiichi was finally feeling a lot safer, once he could no longer see the crazy girl behind him. Letting a sigh of relief, he turned his attention back on the road ahead of him and continued to speed through the path, just in case she was still after him. 'This is ridiculous!... I mean... come on! The last few days were crazy, but... this is on totally different level!'

Once he calmed down a bit, another disturbing thought popped up. Unlike Urd or that other blonde woman, she knew him. Even worse, that girl had managed to find him and perhaps his victory was all in vain, as she could be just waiting for him outside of the dorm. And the worst part was that with all that crazy stuff that happened in the last couple of minutes, asking for help was going to be impossible. Nobody would buy such a story, leaving him totally defenseless against someone who wanted o shoot him. 'Seriously... What have I done to deserve this? I never angered anyone. Well... not to the point where they'd hire a someone to kill me. And what's up with a young girl using a gun in the first place. I swear... kids these days... Huh? What's that sound?'

Checking the rear mirror, he couldn't see her following him, yet despite that, the loud roar of jet engines was getting closer and closer to him. Looking up, he saw Skuld flying just above him, her gun pointing downwards. “What?!”

“You seriously thought you'd get away from me? Well, guess what! You never got a chance in the first place!” gloated the little goddess, pulling the trigger before he could even scream. In a split second, a bright beam of light shot from her contraption and engulfed the terrified student, who obviously thought that this was the end of him.

Instead of swift death, his whole body was glowing, leaving him in a shocked, but also, relieved state. “H-Huh? I'm... alive?”

“Of course you're alive, dummy! This is a curse removal program, not a weapon!” said Skuld. “I told you that I wanted to purify you, didn't I?”

“I thought you wanted to shoot me! Well... you kind of did, but... How was I supposed to know that it wasn't going to be dangerous?” asked the baffled Keiichi, as the glow started to disappear. “Uh... it is harmless, right?”

“Hey! You're implying that my machine isn't working properly or anything?” shot Skuld back, narrowing her eyes at the skeptical student. “You'll be just fine! The routine should've already removed all presence of demonic energy in you and... Whoa! Look out!”

Following her gaze ahead of them, Keiichi realized that there was a good reason why all drivers should never leave sight of the road, no matter what happened. His momentary distraction had proven to be enough for him to forget that he was still speeding on a path full of tight turns; and right now he was on a collision course with a road barrier. Worse, the sharp cliff side left him no doubt that this was going to be a fatal accident, and no matter how hard he tried to stop his BMW, it was too late.

Breaking the barrier, the bike along with its rider went over the edge and for a moment, Skuld began to panic. This wasn't going to end well for him, and she went after him to grab him before he hit the ground. That's when she noticed the light coming from the sidecar's mirror. 'Wait!... that's!...'

And while Skuld began to smile, Keiichi closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable. Unless that so called goddess saved him, or a miracle happened, he was done for. He had walked out of a few crashes before, but, this one wasn't going to be the same.


'This is it, huh?... I never thought that it would end like...' His thoughts were interrupted by an unfamiliar and melodic voice, coming from his bike's sidecar.

“Holy Bell!”

Opening his eyes, his vision was filled with white feathers and then all of a sudden, he began to rapidly decelerate, along with his BMW. It might had been forceful enough that he nearly hit his head on the handlebar, but at the same time, it was nowhere as bad s the crash he expected. Even more, he was still moving, although at a much lower speed and slowly coming to a gentle stop. Before he could breathe a sigh of relief, all the adrenaline from the past couple of minutes, coupled with his near death experience had finally taken a toll on the student and the world around him went dark as he lost consciousness.

XXX

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I like it. I look forward to more.

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Cool. You've got style in writing.

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Thanks everyone! :) I wanted this to take a different direction as far as how things happened in the first chapters (compared to the manga) and I wasn't sure how other would take it. I'm glad that you liked the chapter.

Also, I've got it in FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/2/Ah-The-lost-contract

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Here's the draft for chapter 3:

“I'm so sorry!”



Hearing her sister's sincere apology would've normally persuaded the otherwise kind goddess to put an end to this unusual, yet harsh punishment. It wasn't something that, Belldandy truly enjoyed doing, however, it had been the first time Skuld's antics nearly got a mortal killed. Of course in her defense, the young goddess had only the best of intentions, even if the outcome was nearly fatal.

“I've heard that, Skuld. However, you must understand that you can't just do things like that and expect that there won't be any consequences.” Taking another scoop from the ice-cream, Belldandy felt rather guilty as her sister's lower lip quivered, but, sometimes hard lessons were necessary and right now she was the only one who could make sure that her overzealous sibling wouldn't repeat her stunt.

“I get it! Can I have some, at least?” asked the crestfallen goddess, as she watched yet another spoonful of her precious delicacy being devoured, and not by her. “Pretty please?”

“Oh, all... I mean... No!” Stopping herself from caving in under Skuld's pitiful expression that reminded her of a hurt puppy, Belldandy tried to remind herself of the original goal; to deter her sister from making such thoughtless decisions. After all, this punishment was nothing compared to the potential license suspension she would've earned if she had actually killed Morisato-san. “Now, would you please tell me what in Asgard's name possessed you to go all out on a defenseless human?”

“But, oneesama!... I haven't gone all out!” protested the younger goddess. “If that was the case, I would've certainly used a heat-seeking surface to surface missile to take his bike out. Or, at the very least, a rocket propelled grenade, and now that I think of it, smoke grenades could do the trick, although I prefer fragmentation ones. Or even...”

'I... must find her some other hobbies...' thought the wide-eyed goddess, while her sister continued her list of potential methods of disabling a vehicle, including a few that weren't known to humans' military forces. 'Paper origami? Flower arrangement? Knitting? Hm... I don't think that she's gonna like them too much... I'll have to look for something while we're here.'

Meanwhile, another individual was also filled with questions, although in his case, they were mostly due to disorientation. Lying on a makeshift cot, Keiichi slowly began to regain consciousness and wondered what on Earth was going on. 'What a crazy dream... A kid with a jetpack, who was shooting beams of light. Oh boy, I'm so tired, that I’m having... Uh... Wait a second... I'm not in the dorm...'

Noticing the mortal moving on the bed they had set up for him, Belldandy thought it was about time to put an end to her sister's punishment and instead focus on their guest. “Skuld, I think that should be enough for now.”

“Yes, oneesama,” said the young goddess, giving the now empty cup of ice-cream a longing glance, as her sister put it aside.

“Oh, and Skuld...” said Belldandy with a smile.

“Yes?”

“I think that you've learned your lesson for now,” said the older goddess, before she pointed in the direction of the bags she brought with her while on her way from Urd's place. “There's a lot more ice-cream there, actually. So, have as much as you want!”

“Really? Thank you!” said the excited goddess, almost tripping as she rushed to get her favorite delicacy, making Belldandy giggle.

At that point, Keiichi had fully woken up and much to his dismay, one of the voices he heard was eerily familiar. Almost afraid, he turned to find the same girl who was chasing him all over the Nekomi Circuit, along with another young woman. And while there was something calm and reassuring about this one, Keiichi was also weary about the fact that she, too, had markings on her face. An elongated diamond on her forehead and an upside down triangle on each of her cheeks. And just like the other girl, hers were also blue, although he had no idea whether that was a good sign or not.

Approaching him slowly, to avoid distressing him any further, Belldandy offered the student a smile. “You must be Morisato-san if I'm not mistaken. How are you feeling?”

“Huh? I mean, Yes, that's me, alright,” said Keiichi, unsure how to respond in a situation like this. After all, it wasn't every day he woke in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers, who apparently knew him. “But... Where am I? And come to think of it... How did I got here? I remember... Wait! What happened to my bike? I fell off a cliff and...”

Holding up a hand, the brunette goddess tried to stop him before he panicked, as his memories slowly came back to him. “Please, take a deep breath and try to remain calm. You're absolutely fine and your bike is actually parked right outside this building, and before you ask, it's in perfect condition, too.”

Keiichi tried to do as he was instructed and for a moment, he attempted to recall the details of that incident, especially towards the end. That's when he realized that he had actually heard her voice moments before he blacked out. “You were there... How?”

“That’s absolutely correct. However, I'm afraid it might be all too confusing for you, so, I’ll try to explain it in the simplest manner I can. Like my sister over there,” said Belldandy pointing at the younger girl who was happily consuming her ice-cream, “I am a goddess, and the one who actually saved you was my angel, Holy Bell.”

“Goddess?... Angel?... What?...” asked the confused college student. He had pretty much dismissed Skuld's claim of divinity as some sort of a childish joke, but this woman didn't seem to be the kind who would pull a prank on him.

“Oh, I'm sorry. I went ahead and didn't even introduce myself properly. I'm goddess first class, second category, unlimited license, Belldandy.” Reaching for her blouse, the brunette produced an almost transparent business card, offering it to Keiichi, who was mystified by its material.

Unlike his original expectations, it wasn't some sort of fancy plastic, and no matter how much he tried, it was impossible to figure out what it was made from. Thinking that this could wait for later, he focused on the card's inscription, instead. Written in a beautiful characters was the same exact same title that this woman had used to describe herself, along with her name. “So... You're Belldandy?”

“Yes. I'm pleased to meet you Morisato-san,” said the goddess, as she offered him a polite bow. “I really wished that it would've been under better conditions, but...”

“Yeah... me too. About the conditions, I mean. Still, your sister had mentioned something about a curse... although, I haven't understood everything she told me,” said Keiichi in an effort to hopefully get some answers that made sense to him.

“That was quite correct. You see, Asgard... or rather, Heavens as you call it here, offers those who are worthy a chance to change their lives with a single wish. For that reason we monitor the lives of mortals through our supercomputer and pick the ones who meet certain criteria. One of those souls was you, Morisato-san,” explained Belldandy. “At least until something happened and you were forcefully removed from our lists. That’s why I came here with my sister in order to take a look into your situation, although... Skuld had gotten a bit overzealous and wanted to solve the problem all by herself. I'm terribly sorry about her actions, by the way. She meant well, but, it quickly got out of hand and became a life threatening situation for you.”

Keiichi nodded slowly, absorbing all that information and for the most part he understood what she said, although, accepting it was going to be a totally different matter. “Let’s see if I got it straight... You're a goddess like her, and I was supposed to get a wish, but now, I'm not? So, she chased me around for that reason, causing a nearly fatal accident and the only reason I'm alive was... an angel?”

“Yes, that's what happened for the most part. I'm fully aware that it's all very confusing for you at the moment, but, please try not to dismiss everything as a joke,” said Belldandy, fully aware that this wasn't going to be easy for him. Unlike her sister, she had much greater experience with mortals and she had no delusions that he would take her words for granted right away.

“Look... I don't want to sound rude or anything, but... all that sounds a bit too crazy if you ask me. I mean... goddesses, wishes and angels are a bit too much for me to accept just like that,” said the college student. “And please call me, Keiichi. Morisato-san is far too formal in my opinion.”

“I'm not surprised at all that you can't believe everything I've said... Keiichi-san. Mortals are always skeptical whenever they make contact with a celestial and it usually takes some effort to persuade them that we’re not just attempting to fool them,” explained the brunette goddess. “Still, proof of my nature requires some display that you're not likely to be familiar with, and in certain situations it can cause you some unneeded distress. So, if it's okay with you, would you like a small demonstration?”

In all honesty the dark haired student was expecting something a bit more evasive. He was nearly convinced that there was no way that her story would've been real, even though she appeared to be an honest person. Curious as to whether she could prove her astonishing claims, Keiichi nodded, in hopes that this was finally going to eliminate his doubts. “I... would like to see something that proves your nature.”

The very moment the mortal finished his sentence, Belldandy's earthly outfit began to glow and started to change before his very eyes. Instead of her golden sundress with the white blouse on top of it, she now had what appeared to be a blue and white gown with numerous pieces of jewelry that completed her look. Some of them were previously present, but, most were added when she switched from her casual clothes to her official goddess attire.

“That's...” Keiichi blinked in amazement, as he had finally seen something that completely defied his logic. While Skuld's jetpack was also impressive, the college student could've explained it as some sort of super advanced technology. This, on the other hand, was another matter.

However, before he could go any further with his observations, a pair of white wings appeared from the goddess' back, as another entity began to emerge in the form of what most would describe as a female looking angel. One with blonde hair and blue eyes, as well as an ethereal glow that illuminated her body which was barely covered by a few strategically placed pieces of seemingly weightless fabric.

Smiling, Belldandy presented the newcomer to the astonished college student. “This is Holy Bell, my angel and the one who saved your life several minutes ago.”

“Pleased to meet you,” offered Keiichi, trying to hide his nervousness. It all happened too fast for him, meeting not one, but two goddesses, and now even an angel.

“She's happy that you're doing fine, Keiichi-san. While she can understand you, I'm afraid that as a mortal you won't be able hear her voice, so, I'll have to act as an intermediary in order to talk to her,” explained Belldandy as she took a glance at Holy Bell's direction, before she turned back to him.

“Oh, I see... In that case, I'm really grateful for saving my life back then,” said the dark haired student with a small bow. “Without you, it's certain that I wouldn't be here, right now.”

Shaking her head, she offered him a warm smile and turned to her mistress, almost as if she wanted to say something. In her place, Belldandy decided to translate for her. “She says that you shouldn't worry about that, it's her duty to support me whenever I need her assistance and saving your life was something that made her very happy.”

“Still, I'm really grateful for that,” said Keiichi, before his curiosity got the better of him. “Say... Why does a goddess needs an angel?”

“That's a bit hard to explain, but for the most part, angels act as a support for their hosts. They can allow us to use our powers in a more efficient manner and even more, some spells are much easier to cast when they do put half of the required effort. They're also the mirror of our souls, reflecting the deeper parts of our personalities,” said the brunette goddess, trying to avoid confusing him even further. “You could say that they're the closest individuals to us.”

“In other words, they're like a valuable partner...” said Keiichi. “Then why hadn't Skuld used hers when she was chasing me?”

“Because I don't have one; yet!” Eating the last bits of her ice-cream, the young goddess avoided to meet his eyes, as she scowled. “Only fully fledged celestials have them and I'm still not mature enough to support one.”

Realizing that touched a potentially dangerous subject, Keiichi desperately tried to find another topic and before long, he had something that greatly interested him. “So... What happens now? Is my curse really gone? And what about the wish?”

For a moment, Belldandy seemed to be very thoughtful, almost as if she had trouble to answer. “I'm fairly certain that the curse is totally gone by now. While you were unconscious, I've taken the liberty to run a test in order to determine whether or not there was any residual demonic magic in your body and I'm happy to say that there are no traces left. However, this is a rather unusual situation, one that I've never encountered before. I assume that since you're now cleansed, the Yggdrasil mainframe will eventually pick you up once more as a wish candidate. Still, I'm not certain how long that's going to take before that happens.”

Keiichi let out a sigh, knowing that his bad luck might had something to do with it, but in the end, there was nothing that could be really done about it. “Hm... Come to think of it, Skuld mentioned that I got cursed thanks to a card... Although, I don't remember picking that particular one up at any point of time. What happens if it reappears?”

“Don't worry about that, Keiichi-san. Urd and Mara won't try to pull any more pranks like that one to you. At least, I hope so,” said Belldandy with some hesitation. “Also, me and Skuld won't return back to Asgard right away, which will ensure that you won't be targeted again while we're here.”

The dark haired mortal nodded, feeling much better that he was going to have someone to look over him, but then, something clicked in his mind. “Wait! You said Urd? I've met a person with that name yesterday and... she even had some markings on her face, although they were red. And I've also run into another woman with similar colored ones too!”

“That's a sign of a demoness, and the second person you've mentioned was most likely Mara. Both she and Urd are here on Nekomi on vacations and according to them, they pulled a prank on you with that card. I've actually talked to them and I hope that they won't interfere with you anymore,” said Belldandy in an effort to make him feel better.

“Are you certain? What if they lied?” asked Keiichi, who couldn't believe that the woman who flirted with him wasn't even a human to begin with. 'I should've known that there was something else going on there...'

“I believe so. Urd happens to be our sister and I trust her, even if she can technically lie,” said Belldandy, startling him with the admission that she was related to her.

“What? You sister? She didn't even look like you,” said Keiichi, before he wondered if he was too nosy and asking things that weren't his business.

“We're half sisters,” suddenly said Skuld, approaching the mortal and Belldandy. “We all share the same father, but, she's from a different mother. And before you ask, that one happens to be a demoness, making Urd a hybrid; one of the very few known in existence. Still... that doesn't change the fact that she's our sister.”

Smiling with pride, Belldandy felt very happy that her younger sibling didn't shun Urd due to her heritage. “Indeed. We're all on good terms with each other and I can trust her enough to think that she won't do something malicious to you, Keiichi-san.”

“I'm sorry I doubted you. I didn't mean to offend anyone,” said Keiichi while nervously scratching his head. “I guess having bad luck makes you a bit of a pessimist at times, always thinking that something gonna happen to you. Although... It's rather surprising that two goddesses have a demoness for a sister.”

“Technically speaking she's a half goddess, too. Not to mention that the three of us are the Norns of fate, the goddesses who supervise time itself. Urd's domain is the past, mine is the present and Skuld oversees the future,” said Belldandy, only to have her sister interrupt her.

“They're just titles, though. Time existed before we came to be and we only have limited access to Yggdrasil's temporal subsystems,” explained the young goddess.

“That still sounds pretty impressive if you ask me. I mean, I'm just a college student, and soon enough a homeless person if my luck doesn't improve anytime soon,” countered Keiichi, as he shrugged.

Despite the fact that their job was mostly done, Belldandy couldn't turn a blind eye to a person who needed assistance and the mortal's words made her worry. “Do you have problems, Keiichi-san?”

Taking a deep breath, the college student was about to deny it, as he felt that he should overcome his hardships by himself. Still, it was going to be nice to have someone to talk to, especially after the last couple of days. “Yes... I was living in an all men dorm, but, we got a notification about some extensive renovation and that basically means that I need to find another place to live. Which... sounds a lot easier than done, given that I've got two days left and I still haven't really found anything I can afford.”

“It must be awful to have to go through all that, Keiichi-san. I'm not certain if you'll manage to get back into the list in such a short period of time, but... as a goddess I can't turn a blind eye to your situation, either.” Thinking for a while, the Norn of the present tried to recall the fairly complicated rules and regulations of Asgard and there was nothing totally against of providing some help to a person who mostly needed it. “I cannot grant you a wish, as it's forbidden to do such a thing without permission. However, I believe that there's no problem if I provide you some assistance in your effort to find a new home.”

“You will?” Keiichi felt really surprised that someone who hardly knew him was willing to help him in his hour of need.

“There's no need to sound so amazed. Oneesama is one of the best goddesses in her agency. It's just natural that she couldn't ignore your plea,” said Skuld with a lot of pride while she spoke about her sister.

“Now now... Please don't bore Keiichi-san with all that. He's got more important things in mind than my reputation in Asgard,” said Belldandy who didn't wanting to get praised like that. “After all, we also need to find a place for the two of us to stay, Skuld. But first... I want you to have an opportunity to spend some time with Urd.”

“I can take you there!” said Keiichi, drawing both goddesses' attention to him. “I mean... I know where it is and I wish to repay you for your kindness.”

“What are you talking about? It was my fault you got into trouble to begin with,” said the Norn of the future with a frown.

“True. But you also removed my curse and it wasn't totally your fault that I freaked out and didn't want to believe you. And Belldandy's angel saved my life, so, driving you there is the least I can do,” offered Keiichi with a happy grin, trying to sound all cool for once. “Although... I hope you don't mind my bike. I guess goddesses don't need to use something like that, right?”

“No, it's going to be absolutely fine. Even though we can get there much faster, I think that, Keiichi-san's method will really allow us to enjoy the trip there.” Smiling, Belldandy gave him a nod as Holy Bell waived at him and returned back into her host after witnessing the previous exchange in silence. “And since we're going to stay here for a while, it's going to be a nice opportunity to see more of this wonderful city.”

“It's a deal then!” said Keiichi, heading for the stairs. “I'll go and prepare my BMW, so, feel free to join me when you want to go.”

Watching him rush to the parked bike, Belldandy couldn't help but smile. It was nice to see a mortal who managed to handle everything he's been through and still maintain such a positive attitude. The vast majority of them would've been in shock after hearing about her nature, let alone the fact that two demonesses had cursed them. And yet, he was looking forward to go back there without hesitation. “I can see why he got into the list in the first place.”

“What do you mean, oneesama?” asked the younger goddess. “He looks pretty average to me.”

“I wouldn't be so sure about that, Skuld. He forgave you so easily, while most would've certainly a lot more trouble to do that, if they were in his position.” Placing a hand on her sister's shoulder, the Norn of the present wanted to make sure that her words wouldn't be taken in the wrong way. She merely intended to point her that fact, not condemn her sibling's actions once again.

“I know... Maybe I'm just used to have people angry at me for messing around with them and I don't know how to handle someone who's not like that...” admitted Skuld, looking at the dusty floor.

“In that case, you need to offer them a genuine smile and thank them for their heart's kindness,” said Belldandy, hoping that her troublesome sibling would eventually act in a more reserved manner. “But, let's forget about all that for now. I've already punished you for your actions and there's no need to keep worrying about it. Instead, how about we go and spend some time with Urd?”

Skuld's face light up with joy, as this was one of the things that she really looked forward to. “Yes, oneesama!”

“Then let's not have Keiichi-san wait for us any longer.”

XXX

As the BMW cruised through the mountain pass, the trio remained mostly quiet, only exchanging some words from time to time whenever they passed something that the college student felt that he needed to point out, not unlike a tour guide. After all, they had to go though most of Nekomi, and there were a couple of interesting buildings Keiichi thought they might’ve been interested in, especially if they intended to stay here on vacations.

“And that’s a nice cafe shop if you happen to be on your way to the temple. A bit out of the way, but, it’s fairly popular with bikers as it provides an excellent view of the city below,” said Keiichi giving a brief glance at Belldandy who was in the sidecar. It was something that Skuld had insisted, not wanting her oneesama to sit that close to the college student. And to make sure that it wasn’t going to happen under any circumstances, she opted to be the one who took that seat.

‘Sorry Keiichi, but you won’t have Belldandy oneesama to snuggle against your back...’ It wasn’t that she held a grudge against him because he hadn’t originally believed her when she attempted to help him. If nothing else, he should’ve been the one to be angry at her, and the fact that he easily forgave her spoke volumes about his character. Still, as young as she was, Skuld wasn’t completely ignorant to way that the world worked. Relationships between different species were closely monitored and if Belldandy happened to like him, then she faced the possibility of becoming heartbroken when they’d fail the Test. After all, nobody had actually managed to pass it so far, making the youngest of the Norns rather pessimistic about the whole concept.

Unaware of her sister’s intentions, the goddess of the present was greatly enjoying her impromptu tour of the city and its surrounding areas. She could’ve used the Yggdrasil mainframe for any information if she had any questions or needed directions, but, that was far too impersonal compared to this. Keiichi had proven to be a most gracious guide, even if he wasn’t the most talkative person in the world. However, she was almost certain that it was due to his shyness and not resentment for her sister’s actions. While it was every goddess’ duty to make others happy, there were circumstances when something went wrong and more than often, humans weren’t happy with the results at all, blaming them for their newfound problems even if they only wanted to help in the first place.

Realizing that she had been quiet the whole time, Belldandy shook her head and turned to the college student, before he got the impression that she was ignoring him.”It’s such a lovely place! The view from up here is comparable to the one we get when flying, yet even a mortal can enjoy this wonderful vista. I can now understand why you like driving here on this mountain road.”

“Huh? How did you know that?” asked Keiichi. “I never said anything like that, before.”

“It’s rather simple, really. You tried to shake my sister off in such a place. This typically means that you’re fairly familiar with this path, as most drivers would’ve been nervous to enter such tight turns at high speed. Or, am I mistaken?” noted Belldandy.

“You’re correct. I’ve raced through this road on several occasions, so, I thought that it was the right place to lose a pursuer who couldn’t steer easily,” said Keiichi with a smile, before he felt Skuld’s arms squeeze his midsection with a bit more strength that he felt it was necessary.

“In the end that proved to be utterly pointless and you almost had an accident,” said the young goddess, trying to avoid mentioning her own involvement in all that. “You’re very lucky that, oneesama was able to save you in the nick of time.”

“Well… I won’t argue with that. It seems that I was lucky in my own misfortune,” said Keiichi with a chuckle, making Belldandy and even Skuld smile a bit. “Maybe it’s because that you’re goddesses, but, it’s the first time in several days that I’ve got something good to happen for a change. And who knows? Maybe once I’m back into that list, then my life can change for the better!”

“Yes, I also believe that’s the case, Keiichi-san. However, I must admit that you’ve got a very positive outlook despite your experiences,” said the Norn of the present, as she noticed the temple in the distance.

“That’s a lot different from what I normally get,” admitted Keiichi with a slight blush. “In most cases, people just think I’m living in my own happy, little dreamland, cut off from the rest of world. Delusional is probably the best word to describe it.”

“I sincerely disagree with that. A person without dreams can only exist, but not truly live their life to the fullest,” said Belldandy with a shake of her head. “You shouldn’t allow others to crush your hopes for the future, because reality happens to be hard. Even if you have one chance in a thousand to realize your desires, it will become zero if you simply give up, thinking that it’s impossible. At the very least, you must give it a try.”

Bringing the bike to a stop in front of the temple, Keiichi seemed to be in deep thought. It was the first time anyone had attempted to encourage him in such a manner, and while his sempais had occasionally done the same, their crazy antics gave him little confidence in their advice. “Um… Thank you very much for the kind words. To be honest, I’ve never heard something like that in the past.”

“Don’t think too much about it, Keiichi-san. I’m fully aware that people start to lose their confidence when they run into a lot of misfortune. It doesn’t really matter how unimportant those mishaps might seem at first, but, as long as you constantly run into hurdles your resolve will eventually waver.” getting out from the sidecar, Belldandy headed for the base of the stairs, stopping for a moment in order for Skuld to catch up to her. However, even after the younger goddess joined her, the Norn of the present looked at Keiichi with curiosity. “Aren’t you coming?”

“Me?” wondered the surprised college student. “I’m not sure if that’s advisable. I mean… what if something happens again?”

“Don’t worry, dummy!” said the goddess of the future, with a chuckle. “Me and oneesama are going to be there, too. So, why don’t you come with us? I’d love to see Urd’s face when she sees you again!”

“Now now… try to be polite, Skuld. You know that our big sister won’t act in any negative way to Keiichi-san’s presence,” chided Belldandy. “However, since he’s not that familiar with her, he might worry about it.”

“Yes, oneesama…” said the little Norn, before Keiichi stepped in.

“It’s okay! I wasn’t afraid or something like that… I only wondered if it was a good idea to tag along. I don’t want to turn your family visit into a dispute over my curse,” explained the collage student.

“No, I don’t think that we’re going to talk about your situation at the moment. I want to keep this a strictly personal matter and leave work related concerns out of it,” explained Belldandy. “I simply didn’t want to send you back after you’ve gotten into the trouble to bring us here, so, feel free to join us.”

“If you insist, then I will.” Taking a deep breath, the college student made sure that his BMW was properly parked in front of the temple and then he went after them, as they climbed the stairs. In reality, one of the primary reasons why he was nervous was Urd’s flirty attitude towards him, although he realized that it must’ve all been an act, given everything else he heard about that curse. ‘I should’ve known that she was looking for something different… A beautiful woman suddenly going heads over heels for me?... Yeah… right!...’

The sound of the doorbell brought Keiichi out of his thoughts, as Belldandy tried to avoid the same mistake she had done last time by teleporting straight into her sister’s current residence. Moments later, the door opened revealing a bored Mara who wasn’t too surprised to see Urd’s younger siblings.

“Well… that was a bit sooner that I’ve anticipated. I guess that…” started the blonde demoness, only to abruptly stop when she noticed that those two weren’t the only guests. Instead, there was another one, and she wasn’t too happy to see him, especially not after their little encounter. “You! What the Hell are you doing with them?”

Seeing the young mortal flinch, Belldandy decided to step in and prevent her for scaring the poor boy even further. “Please, don’t mind him. Keiichi-san wanted to bring us here and I thought it was fitting to invite him for a cup of tea. Am I asking for too much?”

“Hm… I don’t think so,” said Mara with a grunt. She certainly wasn’t sure that the doofus wouldn’t prove to be a problem, but, antagonizing Urd’s sister wasn’t something that she wanted either.

“Thank you, Mara. I really appreciate that,” offered the goddess of the present, before her younger sibling interrupted her.

“Hey, blondie! You know where Urd is?” asked Skuld with a grin, despite the demoness’ startled expression.

Blondie? Why you!... I’m a first class demoness! A second stringer like you shouldn’t…” started Mara, only to realize that taking the little imp’s bait wasn’t going to be a smart move on her part. “She’s in the living room, watching some trash shows…”

“Thanks!”

As Skuld rushed inside, not even asking where the living room was, Mara simply shrugged and turned to the other goddess and her human friend. “Okay... I suppose you can come in, as well. I’ve got better things to do than sitting here all day long.”

“Excuse us for the intrusion, then.” Using the traditional Japanese phrase when a visitor enters someone’s home, the goddess and the college student removed their shoes and headed inside, while the demoness rolled her eyes as she closed the door behind them.

“Urd! What’s up?” The excited voice of the youngest of the Norns made Belldandy smile, especially when she saw them together like that. Skuld was already trying to grab some of her sister’s crackers, as the latter was hovering in front of the TV, watching a soap opera.

“That was really fast, Bell-chan,” noted the half demoness, turning towards her, while she made an attempt to save some crackers for herself, before they were all gone.

“I’m sorry about that, neesan. I didn’t want to make her wait for too long, so I’ve returned sooner that I had originally anticipated,” said Belldandy.

“Oh, I’m not talking about you and Skuld… I’ve meant your friend over there,” said Urd with a wink, pointing at the dark haired mortal who was standing next to the goddess. “You sure work as fast as ever. Weren’t you supposed to be on vacations? Take a chill pill kid and enjoy them. He wasn’t going to die or something like that.”

“Actually… it was Skuld the one who did all the work,” said Belldandy with a sheepish smile. “I only… assisted her towards the end.”

Turning to her youngest sister, Urd grinned a bit. “Really? You’ve done it all by yourself?”

“Yeah! My machine was capable of removing that silly curse of yours. Even if… it took me a while to catch up to him…” admitted the Norn of the future, leaving some of the more problematic parts out. “I couldn’t use any aggressive measures, so, I had to chase him all the way to the mountain road that leads to this temple.”

“Is that so? If stopping him was a problem, then why haven’t you used caltrops?” asked the half goddess, clearly enjoying the surprise in her little sister’s face.

How didn’t I think that?” said the shocked Skuld. “I’m gonna make the meanest caltrops you’ve ever seen! Keiichi! Next time you won’t be so lucky!”

“Please don’t try something like that on my poor bike… Spare tires are really expensive, you know!” objected the college student, even if he knew that she wasn’t really serious about doing that to his BMW. ‘At least… I hope she won’t.’

“Neesan! please don’t encourage her more… aggressive tendencies,” said Belldandy with a worried frown. “I know that you’re currently working for Muspelheim’s military, but… There’s no need to share your experiences with her.”

“Oh, come on! That’s simply common knowledge, not something that we demons actually use in real operations. We haven’t gotten our reputation by trying to be nice to our targets,” said Urd, shrugging as she took a bite from one of her rice crackers. “Last time I had to stop a human made vehicle by relying on mortal weaponry, I used a .50 cal round through the engine block.”

“And yet you kept shooting that poor bastard’s car until he was nearly crying…” said Mara with a chuckle.

“Hey! I’m generous when it comes to tips,” countered Urd with a grin. “I just had some extra lead and didn’t want to look too stingy.”

Feeling a bit nervous, Keiichi wasn’t suddenly very sure if he wanted to be here, given that those demonesses were most certainly not reluctant to rough someone if they wanted. Still, Belldandy’s reassuring words from before were the only thing that kept him from leaving, although, his discomfort was easily detected by Urd.

“So… Keiichi… I’ve taken the liberty to check your files and I’ve discovered that you’re in a rather difficult situation,” said Urd, without clarifying when exactly she had done that; before or after they’ve first met. “Something about your… dorm?”

“Huh? Oh… yeah, that’s right,” answered the surprised college student, wondering just how much those individuals knew about him.

“That probably sucks… Sorry about adding the curse on top of it. It wasn’t supposed to be something harmful, but… You know…” Smiling in a friendly manner, the half demoness tried her best to look as innocent as possible, before she thought it was the best chance to present her offer. “In that case, how about you stay here for a while? This is a relatively spacious house, at least by local standards… Not very close to your college, but, it should be totally free. I bet you won’t find anything better than that!”

“Eh?”

The surprised looks around the living room made Urd smirk a bit, since not even Mara was anticipating that suggestion. It was wayr too generous for a demoness to help someone without expecting a compensation for her trouble, and the Norn of the past hadn’t even asked for a rent. Not that mortal currency was useful for immortals, but, for Keiichi it could’ve been a difficult enough thing to provide. “Well? What do you say?”

“Hold on a darn minute, Urd!” said Mara, before the college boy had the opportunity to reply. “Why should we keep him around? He’s just gonna be a nuisance!”

“While I don’t agree with her reasoning, I too wonder why you’ve made such an offer, neesan,” added Belldandy with a concerned look. “I hadn’t meant to bring such topics while we were here, however... “

“Calm down, both of you for a moment. The answer is fairly simple actually… I know that Bell and Skuld-chan’s vacation is mostly an excuse, while the main reason for their presence here is to make sure that we won’t harm him. With that in mind, I bet that even after the curse was removed they’d probably keep an eye on him for the sake of doing their job. Now, on the other hand, I’d like to use this opportunity to spend some more time with them, and that could be hindered while they have to monitor him,” explained Urd. “In a way, I thought that this was the best compromise for everyone, since we’re all gonna be living in the same house.”

“That makes sense, right oneesama?” asked an excited Skuld. In all seriousness, she was mostly looking forward to live with her eldest sibling than worrying about their unofficial mission, not that she would’ve ever admitted that to anyone.

“It could be certainly convenient, however, it’s also up to Keiichi-san to accept that offer,” said Belldandy while she turned to the stunned mortal.

For his part, the college student was having a hard time to make any decisions at all. He had a single day to find a house and from past experiences, he was rather doubtful that he’d get lucky tomorrow. Not to mention the astonishing fact that he wasn’t going to pay any rent here, something that could significantly improve his daily life, as he wouldn't have to work all day long to keep up with his living expenses.

Of course, that also meant that he was going to live with not one, but four immortals. Even the youngest of them was dangerous enough, while the other two were demonesses perfectly capable and possibly willing to harm him, if they ever found any reason to do that. Only Belldandy made him feel somewhat safe while he was around her, although, if he wanted to be totally honest with himself, Skuld hadn’t actually tried to hurt him willingly; their past incident being mostly a misunderstanding. “A-Alright… I think I can stay here, but, I’ll have to pay half the bills at the very least. I don’t want to seem like a freeloader.”

“Hey...he called you girls, freeloaders,” said Mara with a smirk, as she stared at the two goddesses.

“No! Uh… They’re… um… family... right, Urd-san?” asked the college student, putting his hands in front of him.

“Indeed they are,” laughed the half goddess. “However, I’ll have none of that ‘Urd-san’ nonsense. You can either call me by name only, or neesan… whatever makes you happier.”

“No problem, Urd,” said Keiichi, extending a hand in a friendly gesture. “I’m really grateful for having me here.”

Shaking his hand, the half demoness offered him a toothy grin. “Well… If you don’t mind the occasional moan during the night, then I bet you’re gonna have some great time here. I’d like to do something about that, but… I’m afraid I’m rather loud.”

As the poor mortal’s face turned red from the mental image of the implied late night activities, Belldandy wasn’t happy at all with her sister’s idea of a joke. “Neesan! Skuld’s here, for goodness sake! So, please refrain from bringing up such crass topics!”

“Huh? Why?” asked the little goddess. “It’s not like that I don’t know that those two are doing naughty stuff…”

“Skuld?!”

Placing a hand on her middle sister’s shoulder, Urd tried to snap her out of her embarrassed stupor. “It’s okay, Bell… She’s old enough to know about a few things, but, I guess you’re right. Sorry for making that joke, it’s not like I can’t cast a soundproofing spell. And that goes for you as well, Keiichi. Unless… you were looking forward for that.”

“No, I didn’t! Honestly!” objected the college student.

Letting a long sigh to calm herself down, Belldandy tried to focus into something a bit more constructive. “Is there enough space for us here, though? I don’t want to make things more difficult for you.”

“No worries, we’ve got more than enough room for all of us.. Me and Mara only use a single room and there are three left for the rest of you,” said Urd with a grin. “Plus, we’ve got a dedicated bath with a lovely tub, the living room we’re currently in, and even a kitchen. I hope you can make us some of your meals, right, Bell-chan?”

Smiling at that last bit, the goddess had finally relaxed completely and was in fact looking forward to stay in this place. After all, while they’ve spent time together before, this was the first time they were going to live under the same roof. “Yes, neesan!”

“Uh, in that case, I’ll have to return back to the dorm a bit sooner,” said Keiichi, drawing their attention to him. “I need to pack all my stuff in order to bring them here.”

“We can help you, Keiichi-san!” offered Belldandy. “Our magic can make everything much easier for you and we can also teleport everything here without much of a hassle.”

“Thank you for the offer, Belldandy, but… I think it’s gonna be a bad idea to do that in the dorm. The building isn’t totally vacated yet, so, there’s a good chance my sempai and the others to witness that and… it’s gonna complicate things.” Shaking his head, Keiichi was fairly certain that letting the others know about the nature of his new housemates was going to be very problematic indeed. “I’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully I’ll manage to bring everything in a reasonable amount of time.”

“In that case, I can make a nice lunch for you to celebrate your move here!” said Belldandy with a smile. “And of course, the same goes for the rest, as well.”

“Yay, party!” shouted Urd, with a smirk. “And I’ve got some booze, too!”

“In the meanwhile, I need to find a room for myself,” said Skuld, while she started for the door. “I’ll have to set up my makeshift work area while I’m on the mortal realm…”

“That’s an excellent idea,” said Belldandy, as she followed her. “Let me give you a hand.”

And with Keiichi also departing, only Urd and Mara were left in the living room, something that gave the blonde demoness the opportunity to express her thoughts about the whole situation. “Could you please tell me what possessed you to invite him? I was expecting that you’d offer a place for your sisters to stay, and it’s not like I’ve got a problem with that, but… why the mortal? He’s only going to get in our way.”

“Because, it’s not like we were going to leave him alone and sooner or later, they’d realize that. This way, it’s gonna be much harder to figure things out, since we’ll all be sharing the same roof,” explained Urd.

“Oh… I see… That wasn’t a bad idea then,” said Mara with an evil smirk. “It’s like killing two birds with one stone and… Hey… Why are you looking me like that?”

“Well… I’m glad you don’t really mind my sisters,” admitted the half demoness, as her expression softened. “Most others wouldn’t be thrilled that I’m related to goddesses.”

“Who cares? It’s not like they’re gonna attack me or something…” said Mara hastily, fearing the potential of having a mushy conversation with her companion. “So, as long they’re not messing around with me, I’ll be just fine.”

Urd was certain that the blonde had gotten what she actually meant, and decided to drop the subject for the time being. “You know… Since we’re having a party tomorrow, let’s go and buy some more stuff. I sure feel that a few more bottles of booze are necessary for a proper celebration.”

“Shopping? Not again…” grumbled the blonde, fully expecting yet another list of things to buy; alone.

“Don’t give me that look, Ma-chan! I’m coming with you this time,” said Urd with a wink. “Oh… and… I’ve got something for you tonight, and I bet you’re gonna enjoy it very much.”

“Yes!” said Mara in triumph, before she tried to act all indifferent. “I mean… That’s nice and all…”

Laughing, Urd enjoyed how much her companion tried to avoid admitting anything that could be embarrassing for her. “Yeah... yeah... Now, let’s go!”

Unknown to any of the immortals and even the human visitor, and soon to become resident of this house, a pair of ravens were observing the whole scene from atop the bell tower that was located in the temple grounds. Nodding to each other, the two birds decided that they had seen enough for now and departed as quietly as they’ve gotten there in the first place.

XXX

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Hello there!

So Urd finally managed to get them all together in the house. Now we can start getting somewhere :)

There's only one thing i'm not liking that much. I loved your idea of having Urd being a demoness since the beginning, but her "relantionship" with Mara seems to be too superficial ,in the lack of a better word.

She sounds like a dominatrix saying "do this or you won't get lucky tonight, bitch!" Even thou they're both demons, i would say they would be able to have a deeper connection. Something that was not only of a sexual nature...

Edited by Urd
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Hello there!

So Urd finally managed to get them all together in the house. Now we can start getting somewhere :)

There's only one thing i'm not liking that much. I loved your idea of having Urd being a demoness since the beginning, but her "relantionship" with Mara seems to be too superficial ,in the lack of a better word.

She sounds like a dominatrix saying "do this or you won't get lucky tonight, bitch!" Even thou they're both demons, i would say they would be able to have a deeper connection. Something that was not only of a sexual nature...

Indeed, this is the point where things will really start, as the main characters will all be in the same place. For Urd and Mara, I do plan to have a lot more than the current level of their relationship. With the introduction of the main cast and the housing issues solved, I will include a lot more details of their relationship. As it is, there's not much beyond the physical aspect, but, I've felt that it was a bit soon to pay too much attention to them while Bell and Keiichi haven't even met. Now that's out of the way, I can establish a "daily: routine for the Morisato residence :biggrin2:

Edit: The chapter is now on FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/3/Ah-The-lost-contract

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Here's the draft for chapter 4:

Niflheim, the primary word of the demons and by far the most important and densely populated of the five realms they possessed. At the very heart of it stood a grand city filled with skyscrapers and other impressive structures built as a testament of its inhabitants’ prosperity and might.



However, such wasn’t always the case, especially if the ancient history books were taken into account. It was originally a frigid world stuck in a perpetual ice age and the polar opposite of Muspelheim, the fiery realm. And since this was the very place where Nidhogg, the Infernal Dragon was kept imprisoned under one of the various root systems of Yggdrasil, it was considered as the ideal location where they could tap into the World Tree and use its powers from afar. According to tales that went back to an era long forgotten, Ymir, the first one to ever hold the title of the Daimakaicho was behind the transformation of the landscape, using their newly constructed supercomputer which was aptly named after the Infernal Dragon, in an effort to turn this frozen environment into something far more suitable for their needs.

Of course, it wasn’t possible to perform such an operation without any drawbacks and for the sake of thawing Niflheim, another realm had to take its place as a frozen word in what turned out to be a case of equivalent exchange on a cosmic level. That sacrificed realm was Jotunheim, a formerly temperate word with lush valleys and majestic mountains all which are now covered under a thick blanket of snow and ice.

Despite some objections at that point of time, it was determined that since the whole operation would merely swap the environments of two realms, Jotunheim was much better candidate for the needs of the demons’ home world which had to be Niflheim due to the location of their mainframe.

As such, the current version of the demonic capital was dramatically different from its ancient counterpart, something most of its contemporary residents paid little attention to. Natural history lessons were a small priority for most demons who primarily focused in the eternal struggle to improve their social status and gain a more prominent position in the hierarchy they’ve established over the millennia.

While that was mainly accomplished through the formation of contracts with mortals these days, not everyone was a wish granter. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of available positions and opportunities for a career in the capital city, which included the hundreds of workers who maintained the Nidhogg mainframe, the security forces and the rest of the supporting personnel, as well as the administrative staff that maintained a sense of order throughout the various demonic realms. After all, Niflheim wasn’t the only inhabited world, with three others being the home for a great number of demons.

The first of them was Jotunheim, which due to its relative proximity to the celestial realms was considered their main line of defense and housed more than half of their military forces in an attempt to deter any hostile takeover that could allow the gods to use it as a staging ground for a large scale invasion.

The second was Muspelheim, home of the bronze skinned warriors of the demons, as well as the place where the current Daimakaicho originated from. Covered by vast deserts, lava spewing volcanoes, ash valleys and some of the most powerful creatures known in existence, it was no wonder why the vast majority of the population was part of the military. However, the fiery realm had a much smaller population in general and as a result their troops were a mere fraction of what the other realms had, especially compared to Jotunheim and Niflheim. Despite that, they were considered to be among the best trained warriors, given the constant level of threat they were exposed to on a daily basis and as such, they acted as the demons’ special forces.

Finally, there was Svartalfheim, the dark, creepy and downright bizarre world with one of the most unusual ecosystem known. A place where the fauna and flora had switched roles resulting into something downright nightmarish. Just gazing at the forests of the fleshy trees and their hairy canopies was enough to persuade even the bravest of souls that they’d better find another place to go for a picnic, especially while the supposed vegetation tended to stare back at their visitors. Even in a frightening word like this, the demons had managed to establish a foothold and thrive.

Each one of the realms were allowed a certain level of independence and had their own ruler who ensured their prosperity and oversaw the day to day activities that took place there. Of course, all those regional commanders were under the direct control of the Daimakaicho, the indisputable ruler of all demons. Still, with Niflheim being the capital world, the status of its commander was somewhat elevated and often considered as the second in command after their ultimate leader.

And for the first time in history, that important position was given to a relatively young and inexperienced demoness who was previously one of the top administrators of the Nidhogg mainframe. This simple fact drew a lot of attention from the Daimakaicho’s criticizers who accused her of favoritism since she pretty much picked one of her daughters for that role. While Urd was Hild’s only child, the ruler of demonkind had also another one who was adopted into the family after she saved her from getting trampled by some of Niflheim’s wildlife when she was little.

That demoness’ name was Hagall and for the most part she was an unwanted child due to her inability to utilize her powers in the same manner as most others. This difficulty discouraged most families from taking her in, since the majority of the demons wanted strong children with a lot of potential, not weaklings who couldn’t even use the simplest of spells. Of course, Hagall wasn’t technically a powerless individual and most of her difficulties were something that she could possibly overcome with proper guidance, however, few had the patience to invest enough time and effort to help her reach her full potential.

Hild wasn’t such a shortsighted individual and when she saw the blonde demoness’ ability to hypnotize her opponents, she became intrigued and decided to add her into a special team she was assembling for the sake of becoming her right hand and carry out all sorts of tasks for her. The primary difference with Hagall was that the Daimakaicho had also considered the option of adding her into her family as a way for Urd to have someone to play with and keep her company.

While the half demoness was able to contact Belldandy, the only sibling she had at the time, it was obvious that this wasn’t enough to compensate for the fact that they were living in two different realms. Even the occasional visits weren’t an adequate solution to this problem and after some thought, Hild introduced the young demoness to her daughter as an adopted sibling.

Despite Hagall’s fear of being rejected by the much more powerful half demoness and blood relative of her new mother, she was warmly welcomed even if she often ended up as the victim of Urd’s harmless pranks. Still, the Norn of the past had actually spent a lot of time teaching the younger child most of what she actually knew and by the time they hit puberty, Hagall was actually capable to use most spells without worrying whether they’d blow up in her face or not.

Ironically, even though they were demonesses, they still ended up in different realms when Urd was reassigned to Muspelheim for the sake of getting some extra combat training. Hagall knew that it had been an excuse their mother came up with to keep her firstborn away from the prying eyes of the capital’s high ranking elite who were fully aware of the hybrid’s power and future potential. And whether they planned to befriend or antagonize her, Hild wanted her daughter to have a more carefree life, instead of getting into demonic politics from a young age. So, as soon as she became a teenager, Urd was sent to the fiery realm and under the direct supervision of its ruler, Surt, who also happened to be one of Hild’s former students and her right hand while she was the ruler of Muspelheim; at least until she became the Daimakaicho and moved to Niflheim.

In all seriousness, Hagall wasn’t certain what her sister thought about that reassignment, as most in her position would’ve been furious that they were forced to live into one of the most dangerous realms they had under their control. And as they both grew up, she managed to get one promotion after the other, unlike her stronger sibling who was climbing Muspelheim’s chain of command at a significantly slower pace. This often made the blonde a bit nervous, especially after she became the Daimakaicho’s direct subordinate, a position that she had always expected that, Urd was best suited for. It wasn’t unusual for demonesses to prioritize social status over family bonds, and with herself being adopted to begin with, Hagall worried that the half demoness wouldn’t hesitate to start up a fight with her in order to take her office and in the process damage whatever bonds they had as it usually happened in situations like this.

Sitting in her comfortable chair, the blonde went through the daily reports of the various branches of Niflheim, before she forwarded them to Hild. It was her job to see that the Daimakaicho wouldn’t be bothered with insignificant matters that some moron thought they deserved their ruler’s attention. ‘A dispute over mother’s statue in that new park she opened?... Let’s see… Her chest seems to be slightly larger and they accuse the sculptor for attempted flattery in order to get more commissions from her? Don’t those idiots have anything better to do with their time?’

Pressing the delete button, she went through the list of complaints and reports that waited for her interview and the more she stared at them, the more she wanted to take a break. All this needless bickering and over the top drama for every insignificant matter they could find was more than enough to give her a headache. However, before she went to make a cup of tea for herself, a particular message caught her attention and more specifically its sender; Urd. ‘Strange… she mostly prefers to call us, not write letters. I thought she did that for her half sisters, but, whatever. Let’s hope she didn’t manage to anger Surt yet again.

‘Hi there, Hagall-chan :)

I’m going on vacations with Ma-chan and we just picked the best location for that! It’s a small city in Midgard and we’ve even got a place for free, can you imagine that? Not that it’s an issue, but hey! A demoness must always make the best out of any situation, right? So, I’ll be there for a while and if mom asks, I’m doing just fine.

PS. I’ll buy you a present at some point, and it won’t be another bow, that much I promise.’


Going through the letter once again, Hagall had the gnawing feeling that her elder sister was up to something. Normally she was a lot more formal when she wrote such messages to those who were technically her superiors and even more, she never used smileys. It was fairly obvious to the blonde that something was going on here and a quick search on her terminal revealed that the two first class demonesses were located in a place called Nekomi, a college city. That was by far not what she would’ve called a likely destination for such a vacation, unless they were out seeking for easy dates among the numerous students that attended the local university, which she doubted due to the fact that those two were a couple.

However, before she spent any more time wondering about it, a significant hint was provided to her when their mainframe located two goddesses in that area, and more specifically, Urd’s half sisters. ‘Now it starts making more sense. So, she wanted to meet them? But… why go around the subject like that? It’s not like our mother had ever attempted to keep her from seeing them; far from it. There’s got to be something else I’m missing here...’

No matter how personal the matter might had been, it was still enough to draw some unwanted attention to her, if Urd planned anything funny which could be later used against her by some competitor. Worse, the celestials were often even worse, as they often got rather paranoid whenever a demoness approached a goddess and despite her unique origins, the Norn of the past was no exception. There had been those who were distraught that their Belldandy-sama, an example of one of Asgard’s finest was willingly spending time with a crass demoness. All that obsession those moronic celestials had with their precious perfection and those who were the living examples of it obviously ignored the simple fact that their so called idols were also people who had their own lives and in this case, family relationships that they were none of their business.

‘This could become something bothersome, so, I’d better inform mother and see what she thinks about it. Maybe, we’ll have to keep an eye on them just in case.’

XXX

Nekomi, Japan

“Uh… are you sure it’s a good idea Den-chan?”

Glancing at his friend in the passenger seat of the Motor Club’s Mazda T2000 three wheeler, Tamiya offered a grunt as he kept driving towards the mountain temple. “Dunno. That’s the address from his note, right, Dai-chan?”

Checking the tiny piece of paper Keiichi had left behind before he left to attend one of his morning classes, Otaki was certain that this was indeed the right place. “It seems like that. Although, I’m not talking about that, Den-chan. Shouldn’t we had asked him before we decided to move his stuff on our own?”

“What for? It’s not like he could’ve done this on his own anyway. His bike can’t carry all those boxes and waiting for another hour until he returns back to the dorm is simply a big waste of time,” answered Tamiya. “Besides, we left him a note, too. So, he won’t freak out thinking that someone threw his stuff out or something.”

“Well, that’s true. Still… a temple? What had he gotten into this time?” wondered Otaki, scratching his head.

“Dunno… Maybe a priest took pity of him and allowed him to stay?” said Tamiya with a shrug. “Either way, we’re gonna find out soon, since we’re almost there.”

Bringing the trike to a stop in front of the temple’s entrance, the duo headed for the stairs in order to make sure that this was actually the right place, before they started to unload any of the boxes.

“Hey, that must be the priest’s house,” said Otaki, pointing at the smaller building next to the actual temple. “Let’s go and ask what they know anything about Morisato.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” said Tamiya with a nod.

Pausing for a moment once they’ve reached the front door, they rang the bell hoping that they wouldn’t be mistaken for thugs due to their rough looks. No matter how much they’ve tried to avoid it, people were often intimidated by their imposing height, buffed muscles and choice of clothing which gave them the impression of street thugs. As a matter of fact, that was one of the main problems whenever they attempted to recruit new members for the Motor Club, only to chase them around as they fled, thinking that they were about to get mugged.

“Hold on a minute!” The undeniably feminine voice startled the two men who were fully expecting an old priest to answer. However, their surprise turned into shock when the door opened revealing Urd who was wearing a strapless mini dress that tightly hugged her curvaceous form, even though it was actually one of her more tame articles of clothing. “What do you want, guys?”

Staring at her in silence for a few seconds, they both wondered what exactly was going on here. Not only a hot woman was staying in a temple of all places, but, this was supposed to be the address Keiichi gave them. The young man had absolutely no luck with girls and the prospect of suddenly living under the same roof with someone like her sounded so farfetched, that they quickly tried to offer an apology.

“Excuse us, miss,” said Tamiya. “We must’ve gotten the wrong address.”

“Yeah, we’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience,” added Otaki. “Our friend told us that he was going to be staying in this place, and…”

Smirking, the half demoness realized that those dudes were probably here because of Keiichi, but at the same time, she couldn’t stop herself from having some fun with them. “Oh?... That’s the poorest pick up line I’ve ever heard and trust me, I’ve got tons of them…”

Panicking, they both shook their hands in front of them, as they took a step back from her.

“Y-You’ve gotten the wrong idea,” said Tamiya. “We honestly didn’t knew that you were living here!”

“That’s right! Our dorm mate said that he was going to live in this place and we thought we could give him a hand by bringing his stuff here,” explained Otaki in an effort to clear this misunderstanding.

“Really?” Tilting her head slightly the Norn of the past was still playing coy, enjoying the panicked and embarrassed looks on their faces. Still, going too far at this point would only make them run away which would’ve been utterly unproductive, especially if their claims were indeed true. “Say… Is that friend of yours someone called Morisato Keiichi?”

“Huh? That’s right…” said Tamiya with a blink, glancing over to an equally confused Otaki. “You know him?”

“Of course, I do! He was here the other night!” said Urd with a wink. She got no reply, though, as the towering giants simply sat there unresponsive, before they suddenly bolted towards the nearby bell tower that stood in front of the residence ‘Have I gone too far?’

“What’s going on, Den-chan? Morisato not only knows her, but, he was here the other night?” asked Otaki.

Looking over his shoulder for a moment, Tamiya turned his attention back at his friend. “That little scam artist! We worried that he was gonna end up homeless and in the meanwhile he was wooing pretty girls! The nerve of that guy!”

“That shameful act calls for punishment!” agreed Otaki with a nod. “Maybe we should go back at the dorm and let him carry all his stuff on his own. That should teach him to lie to his sempai!”

“You got that right, Dai-chan!”

“We should go prepare, Den-chan!”

“What the hell are you guys talking about?” Showing up right behind them without making a sound, Urd caused them to jump from the surprise, as they turned to face her. “Aren’t we misunderstanding something here? He simply delivered the food I’ve ordered and after I learned about his situation, I thought I could rent him a room.”

“Oh!”

Shaking her head at their silly expressions, the half demoness made a mental note to avoid teasing those two in the future. While funny, they were a bit over the top with their reactions and could easily become more of a pain than entertainment. “Now, if I remember correctly you’ve mentioned something about his stuff.”

“That’s right!” said Tamiya as he snapped out of it. “We’ll get to it right away!”

With Otaki running after him, the two motorheads hurried to the parked Mazda in order to start unloading Keiichi’s boxes. Meanwhile, as they carried on with their task, Belldandy walked outside to find out what the commotion was all about. While the brunette goddess had also heard the doorbell, she was busy in the kitchen and waited until the food was done before she went to take a look. “Neesan, do we have visitors?”

“Sort of. Keiichi’s sempai decided to bring his stuff over and they’re currently… Oh, there they are!” Pointing at the two guys at the temple’s entrance, she couldn’t help but smile at her sister’s delighted expression.

“It’s so nice that, Keiichi-san has such great friends!”

As they approached the house, Tamiya and Otaki paused for a moment, focusing on the unfamiliar brunette who was standing next to the one who originally answered the door. Blinking, they were about to introduce themselves to her, too, only to be interrupted by yet another woman; one with long blonde hair this time.

“Hey! What’s up with all that noise all of a sudden?” asked Mara from the doorway, before she noticed the dumbfounded dudes who stared back at her. “You want something?”

“D-Den-chan…” stammered Otaki. “Am I seeing things or this place is full of women?”

Attractive women,” corrected Tamiya, without realizing that they were within earshot. “How on Earth did Morisato managed to persuade them to live here? That lucky bastard!...”

“Hey!”

“I know, right? Not one but three?” added the astonished Otaki. “It’s almost as if he suddenly became a protagonist of one of those harem manga!”

“Did you hear me?”

“Grr… That selfish little puppy! We’re gonna make him fess up what his secret really is!” said Tamiya, totally ignoring the irate blonde who was now walking towards them.

I’ve asked you a freaking question!” shouted Mara when she got right in front of the two towering dudes, who suddenly felt the need to back off a bit. “Now, are you gonna give me an answer or you’ll just keep staring at our boobs?”

“Give them a break, Ma-chan. They’re Keiichi’s friends and they knew nothing about us being here,” said Urd in an effort to save them from a potentially embarrassing situation, one that could’ve made her sister upset. It wasn’t unlike Mara to mock anyone who implied that they were too easy, especially due to their choice of clothing. Just because they happened to expose a bit more skin than the average woman, it automatically gave several guys the idea that they were desperately looking for a date, and while funny at certain times, she found it to be rather annoying and offensive.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” spat Mara as she crossed her arms. “If those boxes are his stuff, then take them to the empty room in the back. It’s the only one that doesn’t have a label on the door, so, you can’t miss it.”

Watching them go, Urd pulled Mara slightly to the side, in order to have a few words with her. “Hey, try to be slightly nicer when we’re around Bell-chan and Keiichi’s friends. I know that it’s our job to make them unhappy, but, if this keeps happening we might end up driving them away and that would be really counterproductive.”

Letting out a sigh, the blonde glanced over at the frowning goddess for a moment, before she turned back at her companion. “Sorry about that, Urd. It’s just that I hate all those stupid comments. Harem? Give me a freaking break! They don’t even know us and automatically assume that we’re heads over heels over that scrawny kid. Yeah, right…”

“So, what? At some point there were humans thinking that the Moon was a big piece of cheese,” said the half demoness with a chuckle. “Just because someone says something that doesn’t necessary mean anything. Plus, they’re both rather silly to begin with, no need to get angry with their antics. Or… are you getting jealous about the possibility of me falling for a guy?”

“Really? You could’ve gotten anyone you wanted back in Niflheim and even Muspelheim’s demons like you quite a bit, no matter how strict you are with them while on duty. What’s so different about this situation, anyway?” asked the blonde.

“Most of Niflheim’s demons want my social status and power. My troops on the other hand… they do respect me and it’s not like I’m just a jerk for absolutely no reason. I simply want to keep them out of trouble, that’s all,” said Urd with a proud smile. “Still, I wouldn’t blame them if they fancy me. That uniform sure looks sexy on me!”

“Only because you made some modifications, like tightening it a bit more in certain areas and adding that outrageously low cut neckline.” Rolling her eyes, Mara winced at the memory of the incident when the regional commander of Muspelheim got sight of his student’s customized battle uniform. “Surt-sama chewed you so badly for breaking protocol. I’ve never seen you so miserable like you were back then.”

“He reassigned me as a cook for a whole damn week! I hate that domestic stuff! We don’t even need to eat for survival, it’s just a useless habit for recreational purposes and as an excuse to socialize while sharing meals,” said Urd with a huff. “I was forced to wear a bloody apron for seven whole days!”

“Didn’t you just admit that there is a purpose for that?” countered Mara with a grin. “And let’s not even start with that apron debacle. What the hell possessed you to wear only that single article of clothing while working in the kitchen?”

“Aw, you were jealous!” squealed the amused half goddess. “How cute, Ma-chan!”

“Don’t give me that! I and everyone else in the matter had to tolerate some half burned, partially deformed and hard as rock waffles for breakfast because someone wanted to walk around like that, distracting the rest of the staff,” said Mara, despite the fact that her cheeks were currently matching the color of her markings.

“Sorry about that, Ma-chan. As with any other battle, some sacrifices were necessary. In the end, Surt allowed me to keep my modified uniform if I swore that I wouldn’t set a foot in the barrack’s kitchen ever again,” said the half demoness with a grin. “Interestingly, I seemed to have also started a new fashion for several married demonesses…”

“That you did…” said Mara with a nervous laugh.

Looking at her companion, the Norn of the past suddenly got an interesting idea. “Hey! I know that it’s been ages since that incident, but, how about I make you some breakfast tomorrow?”

“Really?” asked the incredulous demoness. “You’re willingly gonna cook?! Did you try one of your potions or what?”

“Oh come on, I don’t hate it that much! Well… maybe, but, as with every rule there are some exceptions,” said Urd, before her smiling expression vanished, as she narrowed her eyes. “Although, what was that last bit about my potions? You wouldn’t happen to imply that they’re weird or anything, would you?”

“Me? Never!” said the blonde, with the most innocent expression her face could possible assume.

“Good! Then look forward for my lovely breakfast tomorrow!” said Urd, with a big but slightly forced smile. In reality all alchemists had to go through cooking lessons as it was the simplest way of learning how to process ingredients following a certain procedure. Unfortunately, with Urd being the Daimakaicho’s daughter she was able to skip a few of those ridiculously boring lessons and jump straight at the more interesting stuff. It was a decision she eventually came to regret, especially due to the fact that she had to bribe her adopted sibling to cook in her place, so that their mother wouldn’t find out about her misconduct. ‘Poor Hagall… Although, she did enjoy making meals for mom. I really wish I could do that right now. Wait a second! I’ve got Belldandy to help me this time! And it’s not like it’s cheating or anything, I just need some tips here and there...’

Meanwhile, the brunette goddess tried to keep some distance from her sister and Mara for the sake of giving them some privacy, since the last thing she needed was to give them the impression that she was a nosy individual who didn’t respect their personal space. After all, it was something essential if they wanted to live under the same roof, although Belldandy was slightly worried about the differences between her and Mara’s attitude towards certain topics, just like Keiichi’s friends. It was painfully obvious that the blonde demoness wasn’t thrilled with them and while she understood part of her reasoning, she doubted that those men meant to insult them by making some offensive comment. Perhaps they were a bit eccentric and their mannerisms were somewhat funny, however, she still insisted that her initial impression of them wasn’t a misguided one. Worse, with her sister’s double nature it could become a potential problem, as she might find herself in the middle of several arguments unable to pick a side.

“Bell-chan?”

Snapping out of her thoughts that were getting increasingly depressing the more she pondered about their whole situation, the Norn of the present turned to her elder sibling. “Yes, neesan?”

“I was wondering if you were interested to… well… let me help you in the kitchen a bit. It could be a good opportunity to do something together, right?” said Urd after some effort, reminding herself that unlike demons, it was unlikely for her sister to become suspicious of her intentions after that rather uncharacteristic request. ‘And I could also gain some knowledge of how to cook a few things, too.’

“Really? I’m so glad that you want to help me the party’s preparations, neesan!” said the excited goddess, totally unaware of the two muscular mortals who happened to walk right next to them after they’ve finished moving Keiichi’s things.

“There’s a party?” asked Otaki, before he realized what it was probably about. “Oh right! It’s for welcoming your new housemate!”

“Alright! We’re joining in, too!” bellowed Tamiya, grinning from ear to ear. “I’ll get the whole Motor Club here in no time!”

It took all the half demoness’ willpower to avoid groaning at the terrible news. While Urd loved parties, she hated to host them, since most of the time it meant that her precious supply of booze was likely going to take one for the team and become sacrificed for the greater good. “That’s…”

“That’s an excellent idea!” said Belldandy before her sister had the chance to finish her sentence. “I’m certain that Keiichi-san will be excited to have his friends for the event!”

“Great! We’ll get prepared!” said Tamiya, before he and Otaki ran towards their parked trike.

‘Hm… Perhaps I’ll have to start cooking a bit earlier, since we’re gonna have some extra company,’ thought Belldandy, as she turned to her sister. “Neesan, please join me whenever you want!”

“No worries Bell-chan, I’ll be there in a minute!” said the goddess of the past with a forced smile, which turned into a scowl as soon as the brunette was out of sight. “What a mess…”

Approaching her with a big grin on her face, Mara pat her companion on the shoulder. “Hey, chill out Urd! We’re gonna have some fun!”

“I thought that you hated those guys…” commented the half demoness, raising an eyebrow. “What changed your mind?”

“Hate them? Nah… they’re just idiots. No need to waste my energy with them…” said the blonde with a dismissive waive of her hand. “The important thing is that we’re having a party! it’s been forever since we organized one!”

“That’s because a certain someone accidentally wired the dj’s console with the early warning system instead of the hangar’s loudspeakers,” said Urd with a snicker. “Everyone in Muspelheim heard us, including Surt.”

“Hey! I just screwed up once and you keep bringing it up!” protested Mara. “And I didn’t need to be reminded of that one, either… It’s a wonder how we weren’t demoted after that fiasco.”

“Surt might be a loudmouth with a short fuse, but, he’s not a total jackass. At least not unless we mess up big time and so something that’s truly uncalled for,” said Urd with a shrug. “I’ve met far worse demons who act all nice and pleasant in front of you, while they wait for the first opportunity to stab you in the back.”

“Tell me about it,” grumbled Mara, before she turned towards the road’s direction as she heard a bike approaching the temple. “Looks like that guy is finally here.”

“Good! It was about time he showed up,” said Urd with a wink, while she waited for the college student to get his BMW into the small shed behind the house.

Approaching the two demonesses, Keiichi tried to keep his cool, reminding himself that everything was going to be fine and they wouldn’t turn him into a frog or something like that. After all, if he was going to stay here he should try and get over his concerns about their nature, especially given the fact that he was the guest here. “Hello there!”

“Oh, hi Keiichi! You just missed your sempai delivering your stuff here,” said Urd with a smile. “That was really convenient, considering that they must’ve saved you a lot of trouble getting everything moved on your own.”

“Yeah… I’ve read their note about that. I just hope that they haven’t caused any commotion, though. They mean well, but, their antics often get on other people’s nerves at times,” said Keiichi with a chuckle. As a matter of fact, he was slightly afraid what could possibly happen if Tamiya and Otaki managed to anger the two demonesses. “Say… they didn’t do anything strange, right?”

“Not really,” said Mara with a shrug. “Although, they’ve mentioned that they’re gonna bring the Motor Club here for the party when they overheard us talking about it.”

The college student tried hard to avoid palming himself in frustration. He hoped that his welcoming party would’ve gone smoothly to prevent any problems, but, the Motor Club was far too unpredictable and totally unaware that there were four immortals in the house and from two opposing factions on top of that. “Oh no! I’ll have to talk to them before…”

“Relax, Keiichi,” said Urd with a wink. “It’s not that we don’t like parties or something of that effect. Actually, this is probably the only thing that’s gonna spice things up a bit. Otherwise, it would’ve been a rather boring event with only the five of us here.”

“If you say so. In that case, I’ll go and get some drinks and snacks for us, since those guys will certainly raid everything they can get their hands on,” said the dark haired student, hurrying back to his bike.

“Well, that solves one problem. It looks like they won’t decimate your booze supplies after all,” said Mara. “The only thing that’s left is to help your sister with her preparations.”

“Right… I’ll have to do that.” Despite the fact that it was her idea to begin with, Urd wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the prospect of being stuck in a kitchen. Still, she needed to learn a few things before she tried her luck on making breakfast for the blonde tomorrow. “Say… How about a kiss for good luck?”

“Huh? You’re going to a kitchen, not to the battlefield, but then again, I don’t have any problems with that,” said Mara, as she leaned closer to the half demoness until their lips came into contact. Feeling a pair hands wrapping around her her back, the blonde slightly smiled as they started to move lower before they suddenly came to a stop. Opening her eyes, Mara gave her companion a puzzled look, only to see her staring at a very embarrassed Keiichi who had apparently returned back, instead of heading to Nekomi.

“Uh… I-I… I’m sorry! I wanted to ask if you wanted anything…” stammered the college student, as he tried to avert his gaze from the sight of those two who were still latched to each other.

“No worries, Keiichi-kun… seen anything you like?” asked the Norn of the past in a sultry voice, trying to hold her laughter back, when the poor guy bolted towards his bike. “He’s a rather entertaining one.”

“Maybe... He sort of ruined the mood, though,” said Mara with a frown. One of the biggest problems with having their new housemates was the lack of personal space, which normally didn’t mean much for demonesses, but, considering that two of them were Urd’s sisters, it was going to be a problem in situations like this. And with the mortal overreacting instead of getting a hint and simply leave them alone, it was going to be a pain to do that outside their room. “He sure looks so innocent, but, he’s a peeping tom, I tell you…”

“Nah… He doesn’t have what it takes to be one, you’re just upset that he caught us,” said Urd, before she gave her a peck and headed to the kitchen. “It’s a party so, we’ll have several opportunities later. In the meanwhile, I need to go and help Belldandy, before she finishes all the preparations by herself.”

“Sure, have fun,” said Mara with a grin, knowing how much the half goddess disliked cooking.

“Yeah... Yeah…”

XXX

A few hours later, everything seemed to be in place, for the most part at least. It wasn’t like they could do a much in such a limited amount of space, since they only intended to use the living room and none of the other rooms.

“You know, maybe we should turn it into an outdoor event,” suggested Keiichi, while he and Mara put the finishing touches by placing some beer cans on the low table that was in the middle of the living room, along with some plastic cups, soda bottles and several types of snacks.

“Then why didn’t you say so from the beginning?” shot the demoness back at him, unhappy at the prospect of possibly having to ‘be useful’ once again in such a short period of time.

“Well… It’s not like we’ve got enough tables to set everything outside, so we can leave this room as it is and maybe have it as some sort of buffet, while most of the party will take place outside. There’s a door that leads straight to the front patio and we can set up the music there. After all, Skuld hasn’t finished setting the sound system up yet.”

“That, could work… Plus, we won’t be one on top of the other, since this place isn’t that big,” admitted Mara. “Okay! I’ll go tell Skuld about it. You take a few things outside and leave the rest here.”

“There’s no need for that,” said the Norn of the future as she approached them, followed by something that resembled a hi-fi with four legs attached to it. “Tada! it’s Walkguy Mk. I. With its unique design, I can have him placed wherever you want in mere seconds and he even comes with an extra long power cable for maximum range.”

“Say… You didn’t have a Walkman in mind, when you named this device?” asked Keiichi, trying to suppress a chuckle.

“Are you calling me unoriginal or even… a copycat?” countered the little goddess, narrowing her eyes at the mortal, who suddenly tried to hide behind Mara.

“No! It’s a perfect choice! I truly like it a lot!”

“Thank you!” replied Skuld with an evil grin, leading her contraption outside while Keiichi peeked over the demoness’ shoulder.

“You know… right now, you’re the textbook definition of uncool. I mean, she’s a kid for crying out loud!” said Mara, looking at the mortal behind her.

“She’s still a goddess, though,” insisted Keiichi, taking a few steps away from the blonde.

It was that moment when a booming voice announced the arrival of the special guests, the members of the Motor Club.

“YO, MO-RI-SA-TO!”

“They sure know how to make a lot of noise,” said Keiichi with a sigh. “We’re here! You don’t have to ring the bell!”

Looking over at the front porch, the heads of the Club headed signaled the others to follow them. All in all, this was far from the crowd Mara had initially expected. She and Urd had been to parties a lot of times and this was quite possibly the first time she’d seen such an… underwhelming number of guests. Besides, most of them looked like dorks instead of tough bikers like those two noisy buffs. Even the single girl in the group was a mousy little brunette who Mara could’ve easily mistaken for a Junior High student. “Hey… That’s the members of the Motor Club?...”

“Yes. Why?” asked Keiichi, only to be interrupted by a loud roar that came from the loudspeakers of Skuld’s contraption.

“LET’S PARTY!” Holding the microphone on one hand a big bottle of sake in the other, Tamiya urged the rest of them to gather around the sound system that Otaki was currently attaching their karaoke machine.

“Jumping straight in, without even bothering to introduce everyone…” Shaking his head, Keiichi approached Skuld while Belldandy and Urd also got out of the house to see what was going on.

“That’s kind of normal, sempai,” said the only female member of the Club, Hasegawa Sora, as she readjusted her glasses. She was mostly interested to the various foreigners that were around Keiichi, something a bit uncharacteristic for everyone who knew him and his luck with women.

“I know, Sora… It’s just that this isn’t one of those parties organized by students. And even then, we’re pretty much blacklisted in most of them, thanks to those guys,” said Keiichi pointing at the two motorheads with his thumb. “Oh, by the way… This is Belldandy, Urd, Skuld and Mara.”

“Pleased to meet you,” said Hasegawa as she offered them a bow, a gesture only the Norn of the present returned in the same manner.

“The pleasure is all ours, Hasegawa-san,” replied Belldandy with a warm smile. “Would you like some tea? I’ve got enough for all of us, unless you prefer something that’s based on alcohol.”

“No, tea would be nice.” Following the brunette goddess to the living room, Sora winced as Tamiya started to sing the Club’s anthem.

“What a lively bunch…” said Urd with a chuckle, noticing the painful expression on Keiichi’s face. “Hey, he’s off key, but… come on! I think it’s rather hilarious.”

“I would’ve preferred if the volume was a bit lower, though!” shouted Keiichi over the music.

“Oh, I can do that,” said Skuld, pulling a remote from her blouse and turning a knob down a bit, just enough to make it a bit more bearable for most of them. “There!”

“You really have an answer to everything,” said Urd rubbing her sister’s hair, much to the little goddess’ delight. “Not bad for a kid…”

Frowning at the last bit, Skuld was certain that her elder sibling only wanted to play and decided to avoid blasting her backside all the way to the mountain top. “Whatever… I’ll go have some tea.”

“Hey, Urd, let’s grab something to drink, before it’s all gone,” said Mara, pointing at the constantly declining number of beer cans on the table.

Thankfully, for everyone involved the two eccentric sempai of the Motor Club had managed to avoid causing trouble and simply sang some karaoke, until they were finally tired enough to pass the mike to the others. Unfortunately, now that they had the chance to get some alcohol in their system they approached and grabbed Keiichi, dragging him to the side.

“Wha-?...”

“MO-RI-SA-TO!” Leaning closer to the much shorter man, Tamiya narrowed his eyes at him, while Otaki’s sunglasses almost appeared as if they were reflecting a lot more light than usual.

“What’s wrong sempai?” asked the college student in an effort to find out what those two were up to this time. He had absolutely no idea what they were upset about, given that there was still enough booze and they’ve already sand to their heart’s content. By all means, that should’ve been sufficient to keep them happy and yet, they glared at him as if he was guilty of some heinous crime.

“Come on, fess up already,” said Tamiya, before Otaki tried to clarify what exactly they wanted to know.

“Yeah, what’s up with all those pretty girls living here?” asked the blonde biker. “Or rather… How in the world had you managed to convince them to let you into their house?”

“Uh…” In all honesty, Keiichi knew that it was only a matter of time before those questions popped up; especially from those who knew him. After all, the whole setup was somewhat suspicious, given how fast everything happened and more importantly, the outcome. Living with several beautiful women was the fantasy of most college boys and Keiichi wasn’t an exception to that rule, although, there were several problems in this case, like the fact that none of them was a human to begin with. The whole situation with his wish and the curse was complicated enough as it was and worse, he couldn’t really tell anyone about it. Not only they’d think that he was crazy, but, the attention could possibly interrupt his new housemates’ vacations, ruining the sisters’ chance to spend some time together.

“Don’t try to avoid it! Just what did you do and got this lucky?” insisted Tamiya, before Otaki took over. “Be a pal and tell us the secret… We won’t tell anyone about it and besides, we’re friends, right?”

“Look, guys… I’m as surprised as you are as to why they let me to stay here. And you might’ve gotten the wrong impression, too. The place belongs to Urd and Mara, who in reality are a couple, while Belldandy and Skuld are here on vacations,” said Keiichi, trying to avoid any detail that would’ve revealed their nature. “It was Urd who suggested that I stay here and as I’ve already mentioned, she’s not available and her two sisters are here for her. It’s not like that they’re my girlfriends, well… excluding Skuld for obvious reasons, but… you know… What you were probably thinking.”

“Hey, we wanted to make sure that you upheld the morals of the Motor Club,” said Tamiya, as Otaki nodded, crossing his arms. It only took them a moment until they realized that, Urd was about to start her song and rushed to get a front row seat for her performance.

‘What morals are those guys talking about? Especially while running to get a better view of her… Sheesh!...’ Keiichi shook his head, as the half demoness’ hot pants and the tight sleeveless t-shirt left little to the imagination, much to the delight of most of the guys present. Of course, trying to stop her would’ve easily made him the most unpopular person in the party and given that, Mara was also among the audience and cheered for her, it was probably for the best to stay out of this.

Interestingly, Skuld was also sitting on the edge of the porch and watched at her sister’s performance instead of spending more time with Belldandy. “Is everything okay? Did Hasegawa bother you or something?”

“No, I just wanted to hear Urd sing. I mostly listen to oneesama’s songs, but, it’s extremely rare that my eldest sister even does that in front of others,” said the little goddess with a hint of a smile. “Sadly, it’s not one of the harmonic arias I like, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

“I see…” said Keiichi, taking a seat next to her. Despite her cheerful tone, there was some loneliness in her voice and the college student decided to keep her company, as she was the youngest person in the whole party and the one nobody really paid much attention to. Talking with Belldandy could wait in a situation like this.

“Keiichi-san…” Almost as if the brunette goddess had read his thought, she approached him with a worried expression on her face, pointing back at the living room. “I just gave Hasegawa-san a beer and she started acting a bit strange.”

Groaning, the dark haired college student pinched the bridge of his nose, as he saw the obviously drunk girl that wobbled towards them. “I should’ve warned you that she was a lightweight...”

Taking another look at the mousy girl, Belldandy blinked in confusion. “What does her mass have to do with this?”

“No, I meant that she can’t handle alcohol very well and it’s easy for her to get drunk,” explained Keiichi remembering that she was probably unfamiliar with some human expressions.

“Oh, I’m afraid I’ve discovered that…” started the goddess of the present, before the bespectacled girl interrupted her.

“It’s not fair! Everyone pays so much attention to her because of her big boobs!” Staring at Urd who was currently on her second song, Hasegawa turned to Keiichi. “On the other hand, they all call me a high-schooler because mine are not that large… I do have them, though!”

“Get a hold of yourself, Sora! That’s not something you’re supposed to say in front of others!” protested Keiichi, trying to stop the mousy girl from embarrassing herself in front of Belldandy and Skuld.

Narrowing her eyes, Hasegawa was not happy to be dismissed that easily and decided to press on. “I see… You don’t believe me. In that case, I’ll have to show you!”

“No! That’s not necessary!” said Keiichi, as she reached to lift her blouse. Thankfully, Belldandy stepped in and placed her hands on her shoulders to calm her down.

“Please relax, Hasegawa-san. I believe that you’re not giving yourself enough credit and forget your other good qualities.” The soothing tone of the goddess’ voice was more than enough to make the drunk girl pause, although, she also appeared to get very drowsy all of a sudden and before long, she fell asleep in Belldandy’s arms. “Don’t worry, Keiichi-san, that was my doing. Once she wakes up, she’s going to feel much better.”

“That’s a relief,” said the college student with a sigh. “Good thinking, Belldandy!”

Watching her sister smile back at the mortal, while she carefully placed the drunk girl on the porch next to them, Urd was happy to see that those two interacted quite nicely. And the best part was that, Skuld didn’t object to that, at least not as much as the half demoness had initially feared. Perhaps trying to be nice to the little goddess was the smartest ideas Keiichi had, even though he wasn’t doing it on purpose as an attempt to buy her trust. Instead, this was simply how the college student was and one of the qualities Urd hoped that, Belldandy would notice.

Aside from becoming an unexpected but welcome opportunity for some interaction between those two, the little incident with the mousy girl had given her an idea for fun. After all, this was supposed to be a party and as such, getting entertained was part of whole deal. Smirking the Norn of the past gave her audience a big smile before she decided to go along with her plan.

“Okay, everyone! I’m done with the song, but!... How about a little bonus for being so supportive? So… Who wants to see me take my t-shirt off?”

The question made the members of the Motor Club go completely silent, as it was so unexpected that no one knew how to respond at first. Even Belldandy gawked at her elder sibling, while Keiichi and Skuld choked on the tea she had offered them a moment ago. This awkwardness was brought to an end when one after the other, the guys present let out a deafening roar for her to go on and take her top off.

“I greatly approve that!” shouted Tamiya.

“Best party ever!” added Otaki, over the rest of the applause she got from the others.

Smirking, the bronze skinned goddess turned around briefly and began to slowly lift her yellow top and then tossed it over her shoulder to the cheering audience. Only Keiichi was too stunned to say anything and Skuld covered her eyes, although, she was actually peeking through the gap between her fingers. Meanwhile, Belldandy did her best to remain calm, and not throw a typhoon at her misbehaving sibling who was currently attempting to turn this joyous event into something absolutely disagreeable. She was a bit late, though, as Urd turned around to reveal her golden bikini top that earned a few whistles from the audience.

“Thanks everyone! You’re great, too!” Smiling at them for a while, Urd started to head towards the porch where her sisters were, offering a wink at Mara who returned the gesture, trying to contain her mirth. That sentiment wasn’t shared by the members of the Motor Club as they slowly began to realize that the whole show was already over.

“Uh… That was all?” asked Tamiya, while Otaki and the rest blinked in confusion.

“Yeah. I did take my t-shirt off, didn’t I?” said Urd with a shrug, fully aware that they were probably waiting for much more. The half demoness could feel their disappointment, but acted as if everything was fine and continued to walk towards her sisters.

Once she was no longer close to them, the two buffs shared a pained look as they lowered their heads in disappointment.

“Dai-chan… Our hopes and dreams…” started Tamiya.

“Were scattered in the wind like ashes…” finished Otaki, while Mara tried her best not to laugh at their over dramatic man-tears.

Meanwhile, Belldandy had other ideas as she confronted her misbehaving sister once she got close to them. “Neesan! Why did you lead them astray like that?”

“It’s a party, Bell! As the ones hosting it, we need to put some effort to make everyone entertained!” tried Urd, despite the fact that she had done the exact opposite for most of them. It wasn’t something too malicious by any means, just a simple prank like the ones she preferred to pull whenever she felt the need to have some fun.

“I don’t see them to be very happy about it, though,” insisted the brunette goddess, her lips turning into a thin line as she stared at her fellow Norn. “Don’t tell me you wanted to make some quick profit from the situation…”

“Please, I’m not that cheap or desperate to pull something like that. I wanted to have fun, and maybe give those guys a lesson for having such dirty minds,” said Urd with a smirk. “But enough of that! Why don’t you go there and continue what I was doing? I’m sure that everyone’s going to enjoy your performance!”

Turning deep red from head to toes, Belldandy wrapped her arms around herself in embarrassment. “Absolutely not! I-I don’t do things like that!”

Blinking for a moment, Urd tried to figure what her problem was, until she realized that her sister had probably misunderstood what she told her and burst into laughter. “You actually thought I wanted you to do that? I meant to try your luck with the karaoke machine. Not that I have any doubts about your skills, as you’ve got a beautiful voice.”

Trying to avoid any comments about her misinterpretation of her sister’s words, Belldandy nodded and nervously smiled at her. “Thank you. Although, I like your songs, too, and so does Skuld.”

“Yeah, yeah… Just go,” said Urd as she sat right next to the little goddess and motioned at her middle sister to head to the makeshift stage, which in reality was just a large mat placed on the ground in front of the house. Looking at her walking up to the karaoke machine, the Norn of the past turned to Skuld. “Say, don’t you want to try, too?”

Startled at the suggestion, the celestial youth stared at her eldest sister with an empty expression. It was the first time anyone asked her to do something like that, and singing in front of others was a bit too much for her at the moment. “Not interested…”

“Don’t be like that, squirt! After all, you wanted to be like Belldandy, right? You shouldn’t let your shyness to deny you the opportunity to show off your skills,” said Urd as she poured some of Belldandy’s tea into a cup.

Show off? Like you did a while ago?” said Skuld as she grinned at her elder sister. “It’s easy for you to say such things when you have no shame…”

“What can I say, I’m too perfect for my own good. And you’re just trying to change the topic, Skuld. I want you to be a bit more serious with your singing and try to use that important skill in front of others. Even I had trouble to do that at first, despite the fact that I’m apparently shameless by the looks of it.” Taking a sip from the warm tea, the half goddess paused to listen to Belldandy’s soothing song. Even the previously brooding members of the Motor Club were back in high spirits, although not due to a hormonal overload. “See? That’s what I’m talking out. She wouldn’t had been able to do that if she worried too much about it.”

“Hm… Maybe some other time...” As much as she hated to admit it, her eldest sister was right and maybe she should try to practice with Belldandy while she was here. After all, it was a great opportunity to learn from her while they had all the time in the world now that they were on vacations.

Content that she had gotten the message across, Urd tried to lighten up the mood by teasing the little goddess a bit. “That’s the spirit! And once you get older, I can teach you how to be less shy, too!”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass…” said Skuld as she rolled her eyes. “Besides, what are you supposed to teach me anyway?”

“How about… using a pole?” suggested Urd with a wide grin, especially since Keiichi was hitting his chest to spit out the tea that went down the wrong pipe.

“Huh? Why do I need to be older to learn how to hold a stick? What? Why are you laughing? Urd!” said the goddess of the future, narrowing her eyes at the amused half demoness.

After the fourth song, Belldandy decided that no matter how much she enjoyed this, it wasn’t fair for the rest of them if she monopolized the karaoke machine, and offered the mesmerized audience a small bow. “Thank you everyone! I’m glad you enjoyed listening to me!”

Walking towards the spot where her sisters and Keiichi were sitting, she noticed the blonde demoness taking the mike. “Oh, are you going to sing, too, Mara?”

“Yeah, why not? It’s a party after all,” answered Mara, before she turned towards Urd and asked her to turn the volume up a bit.

The half demoness looked at the remote that was still left next to her sister, and without thinking she grabbed it, trying to figure which one of all the knobs and buttons was for that purpose. Unfortunately, Skuld had the bad habit of not placing proper labels on her contraptions’ controls, making it very hard to operate them at times.

“Huh? When did you?...” As the Norn of the future became aware that her eldest sibling was fiddling around with her remote, she tried to get it back before she actually broke it. “Hey! Stop messing around with it and let me… No! Not that!

“Why?” Pressing one of the buttons, Urd couldn’t understand what was so wrong with that particular one, given that it looked no different than the rest. Her answer came from the sound system itself as an automated message started right after the sound of a klaxon.

‘Attention! The system will enter its final mode in thirty seconds. All bystanders are advised to keep a minimum distance of ten meters from the device. Thank you for pressing the self destruct button.’

“Look what you did!” shouted Skuld, grabbing the remote back from Urd’s hands, only to come to a horrific realization. “I forgot the cancel button…”

“You shouldn’t had installed that other one in the first place!” shot the half demoness at her. “Why the hell you need a self destruct mechanism on that thing?!”

“It’s a habit! And you shouldn’t press things you’re not sure what they’re for!” countered the little goddess, before their middle sister interrupted them.

“Please this isn’t the time to do that! We have to stop it before anyone gets hurt!” Magic was the obvious answer to this problem, but using a spell in front of several unsuspected mortals wasn’t the best of ideas, and as such she hoped that, Skuld had a better idea.

With time running out and seeing that none of them stopped it, Mara decided to take matters in her own hands, before she ended up covered in soot. ‘I hate that gag anyway… What am I, a cartoon character?’

Giving Walkguy Mk. I a kick that would’ve made every football player hide in shame, she launched the device and once it cleared the perimeter wall it exploded in a majestic display of smoke and shrapnel right in front the gobsmacked members of the Motor Club, as well as the three Norns who blinked at this unexpected development.

“D-Den-chan… D-Did you see that?” asked the stunned Otaki.

“Yeah… We’re total amateurs compared to her…” replied Tamiya, flexing his muscles a bit, as Mara gave the two buffs a big toothy grin before she headed towards the three sisters. “But! We can’t lose like this, Dai-chan!”

“Sure thing, Den-chan! We need to work out more to keep up!” said Otaki, as he and Tamiya bumped their fists together. “It’s decided! We’re starting a bike customization marathon to get back into shape!”

“That was totally unnecessary,” said Urd as Mara sat next to her. “You could’ve just diffused it with a spell while they weren’t watching.”

“Hey! I thought it was a cool party trick!” objected the blonde, accepting the beer can that the half goddess offered her. “Besides, spells could’ve been risky if they saw us. I’ve got no desire to go and wipe their memories… It’s such a pain.”

“At any rate, it’s nice that nobody was hurt,” offered Belldandy with a smile. “Although, I’d like you to try and moderate your use of explosive devices in your future works, Skuld.”

“Yes, oneesama…” said the young goddess with a sigh, lowering her head.

Meanwhile, after a short discussion with his friend, Tamiya turned to the other members of the Motor Club in order to announce their decision. “Everyone! We’ve starting a new project tomorrow!”

That got the other member’s attention, given that something like that required one thing that they were severely lacking; money. It didn't take long before Keiichi decided to remind them of that simple and yet important fact. “Sempai! We need cash to start anything like that. And this month’s budget is sort of… well… gone. Unless we can do something with 500 yen.”

“Hm… That simply won’t do…” grumbled Tamiya, scratching his chin in thought. “Okay! I’ve decided! We’re organizing a brand new service to fund the project! It’s a Motor Club special fix day!”

“That’s right!” said Otaki with a grin. “Look forward to that!”

‘Not that again...’ thought Keiichi trying to suppress a groan. It’s not like they haven’t tried to do that in the past, but, finding people that needed some help with machines was kind of hard due to the way his sempai acted. Especially when they tried to customize bikes without their owners’ permission and then chasing them around to pay for all the stuff they’ve added.

However, neither of them were concerned with that detail and they decided to go along with yet another one of their hare-brained plots. “It’s official! Let’s celebrate for the new project!”

“Yeah! This calls for some… oh…” said Otaki, as he realized that the karaoke machine while intact had no sound system connected to it, since the blonde had basically kicked it out of there.

“No worries! We can sing without the music!” bellowed Tamiya, raising a half empty sake bottle high. “To the new project!”

Rubbing his temples, Keiichi already felt the approaching headache, but, having no other option at the moment, he decided to worry about it tomorrow. “Belldandy, can I have more tea? I’ve got a feeling that this is gonna be a long night…”

“Yes, Keiichi-san!”

XXX

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I like it, though I suspect Hagal might become more antagonistic towards Belldandy as time passes.

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