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vanagandr

Ah! The lost contract

139 posts in this topic

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

In a manner of speaking, she will (for various reasons). Although, she won't be the only party who's interested at what takes place in the temple ;)

Also, the chapter is on FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/4/Ah-The-lost-contract

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Here's the draft for chapter 5:

As morning finally arrived, the sound of an alarm clock brought the college student back from his peaceful sleep and straight into what was going to be his new daily routine. The exhausted young man had stayed up late due to yesterday’s party and to top it off, he spent an extra hour or so to unpack most of his stuff and make himself comfortable in his new room. Unsurprisingly, this made it rather difficult for him to get up and prepare the bonfire in order to warm up the bathtub’s water, since this traditional house required such an inconvenient and downright obsolete method, unlike modern buildings that used far more convenient methods of heating water. This simply meant that he had to get up even earlier than was used to, something that was certainly a downside compared to his life in the dorm.



Of course there were some benefits, too, as the remote location of the temple ensured some peace and quiet which allowed him to sleep without any interruptions and the air up in the mountain side felt fresh and considerably cleaner compared to downtown Nekomi. Plus, he had this magnificent view of the nearby forest, compared to several concrete buildings that surrounded the old dorm. Most of all, though, he was rather surprised by all this silence in the house which was the complete opposite of what he was used to, especially without his sempai who had everyone on a morning training regiment to keep them fit whether they liked it or not.

Getting inside, Keiichi realized that he wasn’t the only one who was up, despite the fact that the others had no particular reason to wake up this early. Urd was half walking, half hovering in the hall in an attempt to get to the kitchen, even though she hadn’t bothered to get properly dressed yet. With a simple shirt that acted as her clothes, the half demoness stopped as she noticed Keiichi and nodded.

“Hey… What’s up?”

“Good morning, Urd. I was preparing the bath, since I have to go to NIT for my morning classes,” said Keiichi, trying to keep his eyes focused on her face and ignore the disheveled shirt she was wearing, which exposed a bit more skin that he was expecting to see.

“Oh? The bath? Why didn’t you ask me to help you? I can use a spell to warm up the water for you, so, there’s no need to go through that trouble every morning,” said Urd, trying to stifle a yawn. “Also, if I happen to be asleep, you can always ask Belldandy, as she’s a bit of an early bird.”

“She is? I haven’t seen her, though,” said Keiichi, wondering if he’s somehow missed seeing her, since he woke up.

“Hm... I think she’s in the nearby woods for a morning visit to the trees. She loves singing for them whenever she can and given that we’re on vacations, I bet she’s out there,” said Urd with a smile, noticing the confused look on the mortal’s face.

“Uh… She sings for the... trees?” asked Keiichi with a raised eyebrow. “What for?”

“They’re living beings, you know. And you’ll be surprised if I told you how many spirits live in them, or even inside things that you’d otherwise call inanimate. Just because you humans pay no attention to them, it doesn’t mean that they’re unimportant,” explained Urd, before she turned around. “But, that’s enough for today’s lesson. I guess you need to get ready, instead of wasting your time here, right?”

“Yes! I nearly forgot about that for a moment!” said Keiichi, rushing towards the bath.

Chuckling, the half demoness shook her head, feeling that the boy was either too sleepy to think straight right now, or he simply needed more time to get used to his new routine. It wasn’t unusual for people to feel a bit off whenever something major suddenly changed in their everyday lives and at the moment, Urd was almost certain that this was the case with him, too. Of course, it was also a great opportunity to make something out of it, providing that he probably needed to eat breakfast and Belldandy loved to cook. Combining those two facts she could make them come closer in a way, although at the moment, she didn’t want to rush anything. ‘Actually, I’m the one who needs to make breakfast...’

Getting inside the kitchen, Urd was having some second thoughts about the whole matter, feeling that she barely knew what she was doing. Helping her sister, yesterday had proven to be very beneficial for her, but… there was a difference between being an assistant and the cook herself. Although, it was far too late to take it back, especially if she pretended that she forgot about the whole thing, which would’ve been too cruel for Mara. After all, the blonde wasn’t expecting a gourmet breakfast from her or anything along those lines. Instead, a simple one was probably enough as long as she made it herself and for that reason, Urd decided to get busy.

Being unfamiliar with what was a Japanese style breakfast, the half demoness opted for bacon and eggs, that was easy enough for her to prepare with a minimal chance for messing anything up. And with a cup of tea to compliment that, the Norn of the past was fairly certain that it could pass as a somewhat decent attempt and probably enough to satisfy her companion for now at least. ‘Let’s not get too crazy and see what she says about this one, first. Who knows?... If I learn a few more things from Bell, I can try them out and perhaps even make something for Skuld, too. I bet she’s gonna get really shocked if I ever make breakfast for her. Hm… Why not? It’s probably worth the try, although… first things first.’

Setting the food plate on a tray, she then placed the steaming hot tea next to it and taking a moment to calm her nerves, she decided that she had wasted enough time already and had to move before Mara woke up and left the bed. After all, Urd hoped that bringing the food to her would’ve somehow compensated for her lack of cooking skills, although she did take a small sample first to make sure that it didn’t taste awful. ‘I’m not Bell, but, I can give that to her and not worry that she’s gonna consider it a prank. So… let’s go…’

Sliding the door of their room, Urd spotted the sleeping demoness who was totally unaware that she was left alone in the futon for a while. Chuckling at her silly grin, the Norn of the past felt tempted to take a photo of Mara while she was hugging the covers, thinking that it was her. Still, it wasn’t the time for such a thing and instead, she carefully shook her shoulder. “Wake up sleepy head! It’s time for breakfast!”

“Just a bit more…” mumbled the demoness, turning around in her futon.

“No. It’s gonna get cold and besides, we’ve got things to do later,” insisted Urd as she hovered to the other side of the bed, prodding the blonde until she was finally awake.

“Okay… okay… no need to do that you know,” said Mara as she started to get up, noticing the food tray that her companion was carrying. “Wait… That’s for me?”

“Of course! I’ve told you that I was going to make you breakfast, didn’t I? Now enjoy, although, it’s nothing really fancy to be honest.” Placing the tray on the blonde’s lap, Urd waited for a reaction and by the looks of it, she was rather impressed.

“Wow! It actually seems normal!” said Mara, realizing that she should’ve probably worded that a bit differently.

“Oh, really? And why’s that?” asked Urd, despite having a very good idea about the reasons.

Taking a big bite, Mara did her best to look innocent, hoping that the half demoness wouldn’t insist and demand further explanations. “You’ve mentioned that we had other things to do later…”

“Don’t try to change the topic Ma-chan, but, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you. We’re going to pay Keiichi a visit and see what his sempai are up to. If you remember from yesterday, those two were planning something and it’s a nice opportunity to go and take a look for ourselves,” said Urd, before she stopped noticing the blonde’s disgusted look. “Want me to bring you some water? antidote tablets? Painkillers?”

“It’s not the food… That’s actually tasty to be honest,” said Mara, shaking her head. “I just hoped we could do something other than hang around those guys. Actually, the more time I spend around them, the less intelligent I feel.”

“Yes, but, you’ll have to admit that they’re kind of funny, though. Besides, we don’t have anything better to do today, so, we might as well take Bell and Skuld with us and see if anything entertaining happens,” explained Urd. “If that party was any indication, then I’ve got high expectations from them.”

“I doubt it, but… It’s probably the best excuse to spy on him while he’s at the campus,” said Mara, finishing her breakfast. “Oh, and… thank you Urd. I really enjoyed that.”

“You’re welcome, Ma-chan,” said Urd as she gave the blonde a hug. “I knew that you’d like it, since it was made with l-o-v-e.”

“Ugh… You just had to say that, didn’t you? Now, I might actually need those antidote tablets...” said Mara with a disgusted look, despite the fact that she eagerly returned the hug.

“Aw… You’re so cute when you get shy,” purred Urd, setting the try aside and then pounced at the unsuspecting demoness who found herself laying back on the futon.

“Hey! What’s gotten into you? Not that I object, but… Isn’t it a bit early for that?” asked Mara, as her face turned slightly red by the physical contact.

“Who said that? We still have some time, as it’s gonna take at least two hours before Keiichi’s classes are over. So, why not using that opportunity to have some fun?” asked Urd with a smirk.

“I kind of like how you think,” said Mara with a smile, as she hugged the half demoness.

“I know…”

XXX

Niflheim, Daimakaicho’s office

Atop the tallest of the skyscrapers of the demonic capital was the location of their leader’s workspace, a lavishly decorated and comfortable environment which was specifically designed to meet Hild’s high standards. While there was a throne room for the Daimakaicho, that was primarily reserved for official meetings and ceremonial purposes, not as a working environment. After all, it was mainly designed to impress and instill fear to whoever walked in, but, it left much to be desired if it was used for the everyday needs of the Daimakaicho.

The vast room was decorated with several precious artifacts, luxurious leather couches and crystal tables, as well as various exotic plants that were placed near the side of the office that opened up to a spacious veranda. As a matter of fact, the entire facade that led to that part of the office was covered with windows, giving a perfect view of the artificial grass of the garden that was otherwise enclosed behind an outer layer of much thicker and blast resistant glass. With trees, flowers and even a pond, it was the best place for Hild to relax whenever she felt the need to take a break from her paperwork.

Additionally, she had other means of amusement in the form a fully equipped private bar with all the necessary ingredients to prepare a great variety of beverages, alcoholic or not, and two large computer monitors that doubled as TVs and even a multifunctional entertainment center. And to add more to the room’s relaxing atmosphere, one of the walls opposite of the veranda was covered by a huge aquarium with all kinds of exotic marine life.

With so many options, the office was designed to be the ideal work environment for Hild, even though she preferred to return back to her mansion as soon as she was finished with her work. In the past, that was mostly for the sake of spending more time with her daughters who were more than happy to listen to her stories and learn a spell or two. But, as the girls grew up, she still tried to get out of her office as a way to prevent from turning into a workaholic. While she took her duties seriously, she also knew that spending way too much time behind a desk could cause her to slowly lose sight of the real world outside of the office’s walls.

Still, she did enjoy her breaks and as such, she was currently sitting on her comfy sofa watching a TV show while eating some of her favorite snacks. So, when she heard the knock on the door, Hild quickly checked the video feed from the hall, to determine whether she had to get back to her desk or not. After all, it would had been inappropriate for the Daimakaicho to let her loyal subjects to get the wrong impression and start spreading rumors that she was some sort of a slob.

Seeing her younger daughter was always a nice surprise, tough, especially whenever she was there for personal reasons, instead of work related ones. As such, Hild simply used her powers to open the double doors, and happily waived at the younger demoness. “Hagall-chan! How nice to remember your poor, lonely mom!”

“Uh… It’s only been a day, mother. I just had dinner with you yesterday and… Why are you looking me like that?” asked the nervous blonde as she got a rather chilling stare from Hild. Of course, that was by far not the scariest one she could manage and it gave Hagall some consolation that she hadn’t probably offended her mother, although, she had to be careful from now on.

“Once you grow up, you all act like that… Even Urd-chan no longer calls me every day, especially now that she’s on vacations,” sulked Hild, taking her frustrations on a hapless potato chip, as she crunched it rather loudly.

“Huh? You knew about that? I just heard about it, yesterday and wanted to find out a bit more before I reported that to you,” said Hagall, waiting for her mother’s reaction.

“Of course. After all, I keep an eye on my daughters, just to make sure that they’re doing fine. You may consider me to be too overprotective, but, you have to remember that you’re related to the Daimakaicho and as such, a big target for all kinds of reasons,” explained Hild, before she continued after eating another chip. “Especially Urd with her idea to get her sister involved with a mortal of all things…”

“I was uncertain of her motives and that’s why I haven’t said anything before. I tried to learn a few more things today and so far, it seems that she’s indeed trying to make Belldandy fall in love with that boy. Which makes no sense to me,” said Hagall with a puzzled expression. “I understand that he’s supposed to be a nice guy and all that, but, I fail to see why it’s necessary.”

“If I were to make a guess, Urd-chan loathes the Judgement Gate as much if not more than I do. It was the primary reason why her family was torn apart and she’d love to see it beaten at least once, and Bell-chan might be the best candidate for that reason,” explained Hild. “Which is why I’ve got my own objections. Normally, I’d be more than happy to help her, but… in this case, I’m uncertain if that’s for the best. Urd is playing with fire and worse, she happened to involve her sister into this. No matter how benign her intentions may be, if this backfires and Belldandy is separated from that mortal, it could cause some serious damage to the girls’ relationship.”

“Then why is she doing it? Something that risky requires a good reason and currently I fail to see any. I just won’t accept that, Urd is simply so impulsive to go for it without realizing the dangers. After all, she always lectured me to be careful and avoid any particularly bad deals that had lasting consequences,” said Hagall, before she retrieved the letter she got from her sister and handed it to her mother.

Reading it carefully, Hild folded it for future reference and remained silent for a couple of seconds, lost in her thoughts. “It’s not quite like her to write something so casual, especially when it comes to letters. She may be a skilled liar, but, it’s way too early to deceive me. I can easily tell that she’s trying to avoid our involvement, although, that’s not up to her to decide.”

“What are we supposed to do, mother?” asked Hagall, hoping that this wouldn’t ruin her relationship with her step-sister.

“That… is a bit of a tricky situation. Obviously, letting her go with her plan could prove to be disastrous for her later on. However, stopping her would also benefit those gods and that accursed system of theirs. Clearly this won’t be easy to decide at the moment and I’d like to keep an eye on them and collect all the information necessary to avoid any huge mistakes,” explained Hild. “Worse, I don’t want to make Urd-chan feel I’m antagonizing her and neither should you, Hagall-chan. If it really comes down to that, I’d like to let someone else handle it and keep our hands clean for the most part, as detestable as it sounds.”

“You… don’t mean like… getting rid of the boy?” asked Hagall with some hesitation. Human life wasn’t nearly as precious to demons as it was to celestials, but, unnecessary killing was something that was generally considered as undesirable, since it caused a lot of tension between the two factions, and in this case, even family members.

“That’s going to be a last resort option, and one that I’d rather not have to take,” said Hild, with a frown. “Of course, sometimes hard decisions had to be made and the higher you’re in the chain of command, the worse it becomes. For now, I’d like you to keep an eye on your sister and make sure that you’ll report any development to me. Who knows? Perhaps, we can turn this whole situation to our advantage after all.”

“As you wish, mother,” said Hagall with a bow, turning to leave as she felt that she’s been dismissed.

“Oh, by the way…” said Hild, before the blonde managed to get to the door.

“Yes?”

“I’m really proud that you’ve looked out for your elder sister, you know. Not many in your position would dare to withhold information from the Daimakaicho just to make sure that their adopted sibling wouldn’t needlessly find herself into trouble,” said Hild with a warm smile.

“T-Thank you,” was the simple reply as the younger demoness tried to hide her blush.

“Actually… That should’ve been my line, Hagall-chan,” said Hild. “Now, go. I bet you’ve got a lot of things to take care of.”

“Of course! I’ll see you later, mother.” And with that, as the blonde demoness closed the door behind her, the Daimakaicho was left alone with her thoughts.

‘Hm… I wonder what he’s thinking about this? After all, it’s one of his daughters that’s gotten dragged into this whole mess.’

XXX

Asgard

At the outskirts of the celestial capital were the plains of Ithavoll, the ancient grounds where the gods held their meetings several millennia ago and today, the very location of a large complex that housed the necessary facilities and office space for the High Council of the Gods, a governing body that consisted of twelve members who acted as the representatives of all gods. According to tradition, goddesses also had their own council which was located in Vingolf and had the same number of members which served a very similar function. It was rather strange why the celestial chain of command was structured in such a manner, with some supporting that it was introduced as a means to achieve gender neutrality, although, others disagreed pointing out that it was doing the exact opposite.

Despite the fact that there were two Councils, they were both under the direct control of the Daitenkaicho, who acted as the ultimate authority for all celestials. Depending on their gender, the leader of Heavens was in charge of one of the Councils, however, in an effort to reduce their leader’s workload, the remaining council was placed under the control of another individual which had the position of the Representative Director and acted as the second in command for Asgard. Because of the way that this whole system was set up, the two highest ranking officials of Heavens were often a married couple, as it boosted the level of trust between them and minimized the chances where one of them would try to undermine the other’s authority.

Another interesting peculiarity was the fact that both Councils were located in different areas, with the gods using the complex at Ithavoll, while the goddesses had their own at Vingolf. And to further complicate matters, since the Daitenkaicho could be of either gender, there were two identical offices available for the celestial leader. One was assigned to the person who actually held the title and the other to their second in command, so that it wouldn’t go wasted.

Unfortunately, with everyone having such high expectations, the office was more than just the work environment for the Daitenkaicho, but, their house, too. Since it was less time consuming to return back to their actual homes, most simply decided to take residence in their large office that had all the necessary facilities to ensure their comfort. Of course, that did little to compensate for the loneliness that they felt as the rest of their family had to stay elsewhere due to security protocols prohibiting others from staying with them for prolonged periods of time.

That was exactly the case for Tyr, son of Odin who also happened to be the previous Daitenkaicho and the god that managed to hold that position for much longer than anyone else in celestial history, at least until he went missing during a mission. The position wasn’t hereditary of course, but Tyr still got it, given that both Councils considered that he was the most capable to continue his father’s work, something that he secretly doubted. He mostly suspected that there other reasons behind that decision, since Odin, the former Daitenkaicho was far harsher whenever he dealt with them, unlike himself.

Feeling an inexplicable need to sneeze all of a sudden, Tyr, had to pause for a moment, before he continued reading the bizarre report that had arrived from the Goddess Relief Office, involving the status of one of their potential clients who apparently lost his chance for a wish and now, the sysops over at the Yggdrasil mainframe were monitoring the matter. The circumstances behind that incident were rather strange, and the fact that all his daughters were also involved made it very suspicious. Especially the eldest one, who was a demoness and tried her best to avoid him like the plague, something that the god wasn’t happy about, but, had no idea what to do about it either.

The essential problem was that, Urd probably blamed him for failing the Judgement Test, even after her mother tried to explain some things for her. In a way, the half demoness was just as stubborn as her grandfather, who refused to listen to anyone if his mind was set on a certain matter. Tyr could’ve sworn that she inherited so many personality traits from his father that it almost seemed as if he helped raising her, even though that was clearly impossible ever since he went missing. Still, he was grateful that she had enthusiastically accepted her half sisters, which had him worried for a while when Belldandy was born. Additionally, she also seemed to be in good terms with his current wife, Ansuz who visited Niflheim on several occasions in order for the Norns to spend some time together.

Because of that, Tyr wondered if this whole fiasco was mainly for the sake of managing to keep her sisters in Midgard for a while, as the god couldn’t really see why it was so important for Urd to prevent that mortal from getting a wish. By all means, the boy appeared to be just like everyone else and it made no sense for any demoness to get into the trouble, without even knowing what he was going to ask for. But, with all of them on ‘vacations’ in the same location, everything was far too convenient and that troubled him more than anything else.

As the Daitenkaicho it was his duty to further investigate this matter until he got to the bottom if it. However, as a father, he wanted to give his daughters the chance to have have some fun together and those two conflicting priorities had him wonder what to do. After all, if he simply ordered Belldandy and Skuld to return back to Asgard, Urd wasn’t going to take it very well and this time he would’ve given her an actual reason to resent him. On the other hand, he was certain that this unusual situation would’ve attracted some attention from other celestials and that could potentially lead to a lot of headache if they tried to exploit this for their own profit, claiming that Asgard’s administration let a couple of demonesses do whatever they wanted on the mortal realm.

The deciding factor was the person who actually allowed those two goddesses to get there in the first place; Frigg. His stepmother was a gentle soul in general, but, she could be fearsome when crossed, being the former second in command for as long as her husband, Odin was the Daitenkaicho and as a result, she rarely took no for an answer. Besides, there was absolutely no reason to upset her by separating her granddaughters and risk the consequences of dealing with her wrath, given how overprotective she was of her family.

‘This is a lot trickier than I originally thought… I can technically ignore it for a while, but, I can’t just the whole situation unattended. Who knows what’s gonna happen… Still, I don’t want to go there by myself… it could backfire if Urd starts to antagonize me again. Maybe I could sent someone else, but who?’

Any of his half brothers could do, even his adopted one, Loki. Although, he’d rather avoid sending that trickster alone without anyone to keep an eye on him just to make sure that he won’t get any funny ideas. As a matter of fact, his wife would’ve been ideal, but, he was unsure if Ansuz could afford to go to the mortal realm at the moment, given that she was just as busy as he was.

Deciding that he nothing to lose, he picked the phone’s headset and pressed the speed dial waiting for his wife to answer the call.

“Yes?”

“It is I,” said Tyr out of habit and almost regretting it, visualizing the goddess rolling her eyes on the other end of the line.

“I know, dear… I can see your caller id perfectly on my screen,” replied Ansuz, trying to suppress a sigh. “Is everything alright?”

“Well… That’s a bit hard to answer with a single word. Have you read the latest report about our daughters?” asked the Daitenkaicho.

“Uh… One moment…” said Ansuz as she searched through the paper stack in front of her. “Oh! You mean the one that concerns their vacation? Yes, I did. And before you say it, I know that Urd-chan and Mara are also there.”

“That’s what I’m worried about. I mean… I don’t want to ruin this opportunity to spend some time together, however, I’d prefer if someone took a closer look at the situation and make sure that there’s nothing wrong about it,” said Tyr.

“Okay, I can see your point, dear. I’m a bit busy at the moment, but, I’m sure that I can manage to drop by for a visit in a while,” said Ansuz, checking her schedule. “Of course, if you cover me, then I can be there even sooner…”

“That’s not a problem. I can certainly do some of your work if that helps you. Plus, take your time and stay with the girls for a while. There’s no need to hurry up and get back too soon,” said the celestial leader.

“Excellent! I’ll make the necessary preparations!” said the excited Ansuz. “We’ll talk later.”

“Later,” added Tyr, as he ended the call. He did spent some minutes wondering whether getting his wife there was a wise decision. After all, whenever she appeared somewhere, Hild often ended up showing up and this could potentially end up causing a lot of immortals to show up, further complicating things.

‘On the other hand, Hild could appear without warning at any point of time, so, maybe I’m just overthinking about this. At any rate, lets hope that it won’t make matters worse and the girls will enjoy their stay.’

XXX

Nekomi, Japan

“Do you have any mechanical problems? Is your scooter acting up? The experienced and skilled members of the Motor Club are here to fix your problem!”

Driving the Mazda T2000 slowly through the campus, Keiichi had a rather tired expression, as he saw the other students running away from them, instead of the desired effect. “Uh… sempai, I don’t think that this is actually working.”

“Keep driving!” bellowed Tamiya as he gave the younger man a glare. “If this fails, we’ll never find the money to start our new project!”

Taking a look at the rear mirror, Keiichi could see the rest of the Motor Club’s members at the back, holding the advertising banners with even less enthusiasm than him, except for Otaki who was still trying to deny the fact that their campaign was a bust. The dark haired student tried to suppress a groan, knowing all too well that his sempai would keep them here until afternoon before they called it quits.

“My… What a pleasant surprise! It’s always nice to see that you’re as enthusiastic as always.”

Turning to the side, Keiichi saw the rather smug and annoying head of the Four Wheels Club, Toshiyuki Aoshima. Of course, the bespectacled playboy was trying to show off his wealth as always, driving his shiny red Ferrari in the campus, despite the fact that it was totally pointless to bring a sports car in such a place. Still, that sarcastic smile on his face was more than enough to get under Keiichi’s skin, who had zero respect for people who opened up a club for the sole purpose of displaying their social status.

“What do you want, Aoshima?” asked the dark haired student, bringing the three wheeler to a stop. “We’re kind of busy, as you can tell.”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that. I couldn’t tell that you were preoccupied with something, given the fact that you were just driving around the campus,” said the rich man trying to hold back some of his sarcasm, as he parked his car next to them. “I merely wondered if you’d like to a little help with your fundraising effort.”

You want to give us money?” asked Keiichi with a raised eyebrow. “That’s hard to believe.”

“Actually, it’s not hard at all, merely the way the world works. There’s nothing wrong with me sponsoring whatever project you’ve got in mind. After all, a bunch of hardcore motorheads like yourselves should be fully aware that this is exactly how professionals keep their teams funded,” said Aoshima with a smirk. “So, how about we try this, instead of wasting your time here? I don’t think that your advertising campaign is really working, anyway.”

What? Get sponsored by you?” shouted Tamiya over Keiichi’s shoulder, glaring at the playboy. “That’s out of question! Won’t happen!

“Yeah! You just want to get credit for our new project and present it as a collaborative effort!” added Otaki, joining in the conversation. “Only, you won’t do anything beyond throwing in some money and leave all the hard work to us, since none of your club’s members have any real mechanical skills.”

“Okay, have it your way... I was merely trying to offer you some assistance, but, I overestimated your intelligence by the looks of it. Oh well, your loss…” said the rich man as he started up his car’s engine. “As much as you want to live in your idealistic world, you absolutely need the cash to get the proper parts. Unless, you plan to use whatever you can find in a junkyard; again.”

Watching him drive away from them, the members of the Motor Club couldn’t help but glare at the wannabe playboy and all his faked politeness. It had always been like that whenever they had the misfortune to cross paths with him and while he seemed to be respectful to them, he would throw in several jabs and sarcastic comments about them and their machines.

“The nerve of that guy! Just because he’s got money, he thinks he can turn us to his errant boys,” bellowed Tamiya, gritting his teeth together. “Unforgivable!”

“We need to show him the true skills of the Motor Club!” added Otaki, nodding in agreement.

“Still, as much as I hate to admit it, he’s right about one thing,” said Keiichi with a sigh. “We desperately need money.”

“Keiichi-san!”

Blinking, the young student was momentarily confused, trying to understand why anyone would be calling for him. That’s when he realized that it was Belldandy’s voice and soon enough, he spotted the goddess along her two sisters and Mara, as they headed towards the parked trike.

“Hello, guys!” said Urd, waiving at the Motor Club’s members. “What’s up? Got the cash you needed for that project of yours?”

“Nope, we’ve got nothing,” was Keiichi’s short, but brutally honest answer.

“That’s terrible!” said Belldandy with a frown. “We decided to come and check how you were all doing, but, I was expecting something a bit better than that.”

“No kidding! The main reason why we found you so easily were all the students that were running away from you,” chuckled Mara, earning a light jab from Urd.

“So, what’s the actual problem?” asked the half demoness, before her blonde companion’s comment got too much attention from her middle sister.

“I think that, Mara already pointed it out, to be honest. We’re not attracting any customers and as a result, we’ve made no money,” answered Keiichi. “The only guy who was interested to fund us was that sleazy Aoshima…”

Looking at each other, the immortals became a bit interested as to why the otherwise kind student was apparently so unhappy with someone that he hadn’t even mentioned before.

“Who?” asked Skuld, as her curiosity got the better of her.

“Oh, he’s a rich guy who founded the Four Wheels Club. In reality, the whole thing is just for show, its only purpose to give him an excuse to put some of his father’s expensive cars for display and try to impress the others with his money. Especially the ladies, who flock to him because of all this self advertisement, with that so called club being nothing more than bait. None of his members are real car enthusiasts, and even the guys that join are mostly there hoping that one of his fangirls will happen to notice them,” explained Keiichi with a shake of his head. “The real problem is that in theory, his club and ours are about vehicles and the university isn’t too happy about it, considering it as a case of redundancy.”

“Why? That doesn’t sound too nice of them,” said Belldandy with a puzzled look.

“Budget really. Each one of the official clubs gets a certain amount of money on a monthly basis in order to perform its various activities. So, they don’t like when there are several similar ones around, and in most cases they either had to merge them or shut one down. Technically speaking, when it comes down to competitive events, we’re the ones who actually manage to pull it off and win a few of them for NIT. However with his connections, Aoshima keeps his club open and despite our hard work the university’s officials always target us, citing our bad reputation as the reason to consider closing us down,” said Keiichi. “And now, he wanted to fund us for the sake of getting something done, since his club members aren’t really capable to do anything similar. When it comes to that, he always hires some external assistants, who in reality are professional mechanics.”

“Hey, isn’t that cheating?” asked Skuld.

“Yes, but he still manages to do it,” answered the dark haired student. “The only reason why we’re still around is that we’re the only club that brings some trophies for NIT. However, if we fail to do that we might not have much of a future and with the current lack of funds, we seem like a bunch of loafers who sit around doing nothing.”

“We can help!”

Everyone, including the rather tired members of the Motor Club, turned to the goddess of the present. It wasn’t just the fact that she volunteered to involve herself into something that wasn’t probably her business, but, the sheer determination behind her words that captured their attention.

“Help? How?” asked the puzzled Keiichi, who knew that the goddesses had no money to spare, at least according to the short explanation Urd gave him. Of course, the demonesses were an exception to that rule, although he doubted that they’d provide them some assistance for free and in all honesty, Keiichi had no desire to involve them into this and potentially complicate matters even more.

“It’s obvious that you need a proper advertising campaign, and we can do that for you. Spreading some leaflets around the campus can attract a lot more attention, since they’re not familiar with us and it seems a lot less intimidating this way,” replied Belldandy with a stern look on her face.

“That’s an excellent idea!” said the excited Otaki, as he jumped off the trike, with Tamiya following suit, stopping only for brief moment. “Yes! We’re gonna get those leaflets printed as soon as possible! Meet us back at the clubroom and we’ll get this started!”

“Wait! Sempai!...” it was far too late to stop them, though, as they both run in the distance leaving Keiichi to wonder if that was going to work at all. After all, those advertisements were going to cost some extra money, and for the love of his life, he had no idea how they were going to pay for them. ‘Most likely, it’s going to come out of our own pocket...’
Meanwhile. Belldandy was giving her big sister an apologetic look, trying to explain her sudden decision. “I’m really sorry, neesan. I know that I should’ve asked you before I spoke up. If it’s a hassle, then please don’t bother and let me handle this on my own.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Bell. I think it’s going to be rather interesting to see what happens next,” said Urd, glancing over at Mara who wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the whole idea. “It’s a lot better than just walking around aimlessly. Right?”

“Yeah…” was the blonde’s only comment, getting the hint.

“So, where’s your clubhouse?” asked Skuld, now that she was certain that the demonesses of their group would actually tag along.

“Oh! This way! It’s not really that far from here!”

XXX

Standing before the small, prefabricated structure, the majority of the immortals present were not particularly impressed with what would’ve otherwise described as a metallic shack. Only Belldandy was apparently pleased by the overwhelming amount of positive energy that emanated from the Motor Club’s humble headquarters, a clear sign that its members truly cared about it.

‘What a piece of junk...’ thought Mara, rolling her eyes at the rather pathetic sight. “You guys weren’t joking when you said that you were totally broke.”

“Now… now… Let’s not judge a book by its cover,” said Belldandy pointedly, as she walked inside the building to take a better look. “It’s fully equipped and practical, which serves its purpose quite nicely, right, Keiichi-san?”

“For the most part, it does,” said the young mortal with a shrug. “It’s not as good as some other clubhouses, but what can we do? That’s a lot better than having to borrow a room from the university, since we get an actual working environment for our projects without others messing around with them. It wasn’t built with luxury in mind, though.”

At that moment, Tamiya and Otaki arrived with a big grin on their faces, carrying a pack of leaflets on each hand. Setting the bundles on the clubhouse’s workbench, they decided to announce the great news to the rest of the members and even their four visitors.

“It’s a great opportunity, everyone! After some negotiations with the video club, as well as the cosplay club, we’re now officially organizing the first Queen of NIT event!” said Tamiya with his characteristic gusto, while Otaki smiled proudly next to him.

The first what?” asked Keiichi, voicing pretty much everyone’s thoughts. “We were supposed to have simple fix day event, not… Whatever that other thing is…”

Taking one of the leaflets, Otaki handed it down to the puzzled dark haired student. “Here, that should explain everything.”

‘Do you have what it takes to become NIT’s indisputable queen?

A thrilling triple challenge awaits for you in order to gain the bragging rights for that prestigious title!
First, a swimsuit contest! Then a cosplay one, and for the grand finale… The Motor Club’s special circuit!

This magnificent event is co-organized by the Video Club, the Cosplay Club and the Motor Club.

Only 1500 Yen a ticket! Don’t miss your chance to get one for yourself! It’s the year’s biggest event!’


Feeling a wave of dread, Keiichi read the leaflet a few more times, but there was no way that he misunderstood what was going on here. What started out as a normal fundraising effort, now turned into some hair brained scheme that his senpai had probably came up without thinking too much about it. “What in the world is this?! That’s not what we had in mind!”

“Don’t be so negative, Morisato. We’ve asked the other clubs to give us a hand in this and in the end we decided to organize this together, splitting the profits evenly. For every ticket we’re going to make a 500 Yen profit, and let’s not forget the betting polls,” said Tamiya with a toothy grin. “It’s going to bring us a lot more cash than our previous plan!”

Shaking his head, Keiichi had a very bad feeling about this. It reminded him some of the other crazy ideas those two often came up and if nothing else, they typically ended up losing money instead of making any profits. And the worst was that after every one of those incidents, the Motor Club’s reputation would take yet another a hit, making it even more difficult to recruit new members.

“Can I ask one thing? Is it for students only, or anyone can participate?”

Surprising everyone, Urd’s question was something that neither Tamiya nor Otaki had predicted. As a result, the both stared at each other, scratching their heads while trying to come up with any convincing answer despite the obvious fact that there were absolutely no mention about the requirements for taking part in the contest.

“Well…” started Tamiya, looking at the advertisement again with narrowed eyes. “I knew we forgot something. We have to add that to the leaflet and…”

“Hold on a moment, Den-chan! That’s going to require us to reprint everything!” objected Otaki. “That was costly to begin with and the others won’t agree to pay again, too. Besides, if they’ve got a problem with it, then they should’ve said something as well.”

‘In other words, they’re all idiots. What else is new?’ thought Mara with a chuckle, giving Urd a wink. “That means that we can participate, right? Since there’s no restriction set, anyone can apply for the title.”

“You want to take part in this?” asked the baffled Keiichi, staring at the two demonesses. “Why?”

“For fun, what else? After all, you need some pretty girls to attract a big audience and make a lot of money from the tickets. Otherwise, it’s just a pointless event,” said Urd with a shrug, before she turned to Belldandy who remained rather quiet during this whole exchange. “What about you, Bell? I bet you’ll draw a whole audience just by yourself.”

Blushing the middle of the Norns tried to find a way out of this, although, she remembered her initial offer to help the Motor Club and in this case, it was apparently beneficial if she joined her sister and Mara. Of course, it wasn’t her preferable method of doing it, but, as a first class goddess she didn’t want to back away and let others do all the hard work for her. “I’ll give it a try, neesan. It could be… fun.”

Oneesama?!” asked the shocked Skuld, who wasn’t happy about this unexpected turn of events. Giving Keiichi and Urd a dirty look, she was already plotting ways to make them pay for dragging her sister in this dirty contest. ‘Swimsuit contest? Cosplay? Yeah, right… Pervs.’

“It’s alright, Skuld. After all, it’s a nice opportunity to do something together with our sister. If you were a bit older then I’d certainly wanted you to do the same. However, since that’s not the case, will you at least come to support us?” asked Belldandy with a disarming smile that immediately dissipated her younger sibling’s ire.

“Of course I will!”

XXX

Letting out a bored sigh, the campus’ most popular and affluent woman headed towards her parked Mercedes after a long class. For the heiress of the Mishima group it was just another day at NIT, which typically started by walking past the large number of fans who waited for her in hopes that their gifts would manage to attract her attention. Of course, she never accepted or even needed any of those presents, knowing that the primary reason behind them was her vast fortune and not her personality, but, it still gave her a small ego boost and verified her social status.

However, after a year this had already became a routine for her and it no longer provided her as much satisfaction as it used to when she first came here. Considering a visit to the local mall as a way to entertain herself with a little bit of shopping therapy, the rich woman almost missed the bespectacled man who was waiting for her.

“Sayoko, what a coincidence! I was just about to head home, too.”

Stifling a groan, the brunette was far from happy to deal with her annoying cousin. It was pretty obvious that he was lying, but, knowing him it was certain that he wouldn’t go away unless she listened to whatever he had to say. “If that’s indeed the case then let’s not waste too much time, Toshiyuki. What seems to trouble you?”

“Oh, I never said that I had any problems. I merely saw this advertisement and I was wondering what you’d think about it,” said Aoshima as he handed her one of the Motor Club’s leaflets.

“Again with them, Toshiyuki? I don’t see what’s so problematic about this, to be honest with you. A lot of clubs organize events to attract members and get funds, so what’s so different about that?” asked Sayoko, even though she knew that the true issue was the rivalry between those two clubs. Although, she had to admit that in all seriousness her cousin’s pet project was bound to end up as a failure either way. No matter how much she wanted to gain attention, the brunette knew that opening a club that would act as bait wasn’t the smartest of ideas.

“But, organizing something that resembles a beauty contest isn’t exactly something that I would had expected from a group that considers themselves as motor enthusiasts,” replied Aoshima. “After calling the Four Wheels Club a fraud on multiple occasions, I find it rather hypocritical of them to pull such a move. That’s why I wondered if you’d support me and take the matter to the university’s officials and close them down for good.”

“Like I said, it’s not something extremely unusual and as long as they don’t do anything particularly provoking, nobody’s going to complain,” said Sayoko, before she added in a more caustic tone as she got tired of listening about his so called problems. “Or… should I remind you that you keep bringing attractive models in revealing outfits to help with your club’s events. Last time they were dressed in sexy bunny outfits, which was a bit of an overkill if you ask me. You know what? I think I’ll go and check it out tomorrow, since I need a good laugh.”

Looking at his cousin’s departing form, Aoshima frowned a bit, but couldn’t really do much about it. She was technically right and if his influence wasn’t enough, taking the matter to the officials could backfire on him and end up ridiculing himself.

‘Perhaps she’s got a point… Why do I even bother, anyway? After all, they need some really attractive women to make it a success and none of those three clubs that organize this event have any significant number of female members. And without any real prize, nobody will bother to participate. Oh well...’

Tossing the leaflet into a nearby garbage bin, Aoshima decided that he had already wasted too much of his precious time with those fools and headed for his own car. Perhaps after they lost even more money because of this, they wouldn’t have any other option but to accept his offer or simply fall into obscurity as they won’t have the funds to keep competing with him. Either way, in his mind the Motor Club was no longer a problem.

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Here's the draft for chapter 6:

Even under normal conditions, NIT’s campus was always a busy place, with numerous students attending their classes, their club activities or simply hanging around with their friends for a nice chat. Today however, the news about the beauty contest that was scheduled for noon had already spread like wildfire. Initially, nobody expected much from it, given that the notorious Motor Club was involved and thanks to their reputation there was a lot of skepticism about the whole deal.



None of the organizing clubs had plenty of female members to begin with and as a result, several students suspected it was just an easy way of making money with this so called ‘Queen of the Campus’ contest. Worse, there were already plenty of instances where Tamiya and Otaki had attempted to make some quick cash out of an event and then deliver a sub par show, which normally ended with an angry mob running after them demanding a refund.

However, this time there was one notable difference that caught most student’s attention. Outside the area where the event would take place, there was a big poster with some information about the contest and a list of the contestants, with their photos right next to their names. Amongst them, there were three rather exotic looking foreigners that no one had seen before in the campus and yet, they were apparently participating. Of course, some felt that it was way too suspicious and those photos were actually taken from some modeling agency to act as bait.

Still, there were other rumors that those mysterious women were walking together with one of the Motor Club’s members, and as crazy as that sounded it was enough to make everyone willing to risk some of their allowance to find out if all that was true. After all, 1500 Yen wasn’t exactly an astronomic amount of money and if turned out to be the real deal, then it could become the year’s biggest event.

“They’re total babes, I’m telling you! It’s worth to go and check them out!”

Listening to the passing students’ conversation was starting to get to Sayoko’s nerves. Everyone had suddenly gotten crazy about this so called contest and for the love of her life, the rich woman had no idea how those dorks had managed to convince a couple of gorgeous women to participate. At first, she was as skeptical as anyone else, but, after her curiosity got the better of her, Sayoko went to check the contestants’ details on that billboard and was surprised to find three foreigners at the top of the list.

‘How did they manage to do it? I doubt that they have the money to hire a single model, let alone three of them. Hm… maybe they promised to pay them after the event and attempt to scam them? Although... even a bunch of idiots would realize that they’ll get sued if that’s the case. There are laws about such things, unless those girls were so naive and haven’t signed a contract. Come to think of it, they’re not from these parts and maybe that’s why they decided to hire them, hoping that they’ll just go back to their country and get away with it.’

In Sayoko’s mind that was the most likely explanation for this paradoxical situation and as much as she initially didn’t really care about it, this contest was starting to get to her nerves. It’s been the only topic of discussion and clearly stealing her spotlight, since nobody showed up to greet her today; something that rarely happened. Everywhere the same three names popped up and the various students argued who was the hottest of them, each explaining the reasons behind their own choice.

‘Belldandy, Urd and Mara… That’s all those numbskulls keep chanting all day long. It’s almost as if there’s nothing else to to talk about, but which one of them is the sexiest. Disgusting little worms the lot of them… Besides, who cares about a bunch of women that won’t show up ever again? Why would they, after all? It’s fairly certain that they’ve been tricked into this whole fiasco.’

Sayoko’s thoughts were interrupted when she noticed Morisato Keiichi, a member of the Motor Club walk along those women and for everyone who were familiar with him, that was as bizarre as it could get. He was known for his rather bad luck with girls and she even had a chance to get a personal experience after a rather dreadful attempt to ask her out. The Mishima heiress had no idea what possessed him to think that a date at the local museum was actually acceptable not only for someone like her, but, for any woman at all. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for this strange request she would’ve never even remembered his name at all.

However, that belonged to the past and without delay, she got up from the bench and tried to catch up to them. From this distance, it was fairly obvious that those were indeed the three girls from the photos, along with a much younger one who obviously wasn’t participating.

“Excuse me.”

Stopping to see who wanted to talk to them, Keiichi was rather surprised to find that it was Mishima Sayoko, the woman he tried to ask for a date last year after some of his fellow students dared him to do it. “Hello, Mishima-san. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Oh please, there’s no need to be that formal, Morisato. After all, we’re on the same year and we attend classes together,” said the brunette with a fairly polite and cheerful expression. It was mostly an act, although, it could easily convince nearly everyone given her well honed skills in the art of diplomacy that was essential in the corporate world. “I couldn’t help but notice the lovely ladies that are here for the contest and I wondered if I could have a few words with them.”

Without missing a beat, Urd stepped in with a smile that would’ve made Belldandy proud. Unlike her sister, the half demoness wasn’t particularly happy to talk to this mortal, since she could read her true emotions which were a mix of envy and annoyance. “Of course we’d love to talk to you, Mishima-san. Is there something in particular that you wanted to tell us?”

The brunette was slightly taken aback by the dark skinned woman’s mastery of Japanese which was rather rare among foreigners. “Actually I wanted to provide you with a proper welcome to Nekomi, and invite you all for a cup of tea in a local cafe. The event will take place in a couple of hours and since I’ve just finished my morning class, I wondered if you’d be interested.”

“We’re sorry, Mishima-san. We’d love to, but, we have to help with the preparations for the competition,” replied Belldandy, who unlike her sister wasn’t suspecting the other woman. Of course, the first class goddess was fully aware of the deceit behind the mortal’s words, but wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and not jump into hasty conclusions.

“Help? Wait a moment… Aren’t you hired models?” asked the baffled Sayoko.

“No, we’re not. The only reason why we decided to do that was to give Keiichi a hand with the whole event,” explained Urd, trying to get the woman’s attention. “After all, there’s nothing wrong to help our roommate.”

Sayoko could hardly believe her ears, since Morisato was often teased about his lack of success with women, the mere idea that he suddenly started to not talk, but, live with several of them was way too strange for her to accept. Of course, if there was money involved she would’ve understood their motive. After all, that was the only reason her otherwise annoying cousin was so successful with his dates; they merely cared for his wallet, even if his personality was too unlikable. “Oh… In that case, I’ll have to wish you all good luck. I’ll come and check the contest later.”

“That would be fantastic, Mishima-san,” said Belldandy with a genuine smile. “We’ll be glad to see you at the event!”

“The pleasure will be mine.” Walking away from the group, Sayoko was deeply troubled by the entire exchange. Nothing really made any sense to her and the more she thought about it, the less she believed that dark skinned woman’s explanation. There was something amiss and the Mishima heiress felt that she wanted to find out. ‘What do they even see to that guy? He’s just an average person no matter how you look at him. There’s clearly no reason for them to help him, let alone share the same roof with him. This is getting rather interesting...’

“Hey, Keiichi, who was that broad?” asked Mara with a bored expression. “She sure didn’t seem too friendly to me, despite all that sweet talk.”

“Yeah, she almost appeared that she disliked us for some reason,” added Skuld, looking at the young student.

“That was Mishima Sayoko, daughter of the CEO of one of Japan’s biggest corporations. To simply put it, she’s got more money than she knows what to do with them, and that makes her the most sought after woman of the whole campus. She’s got an army of admirers who only want to get some of her money if they manage to become her boyfriend,” answered Keiichi with an indifferent shrug.

“Interesting… However, that doesn’t explain how she knew you, and I doubt that it’s only thanks to being fellow students. I feel that there’s a story behind it,” said Urd, smirking at the uncomfortable mortal who desperately wanted to change the subject.

“Look, when I was just a freshman, a few students dared me to try and ask her out for a date. It went really badly, since she pretty much laughed at me and I was everyone’s joke for a while. I know that my attempt was far from ideal, but, those guys found it even more hilarious and spread the word around,” said Keiichi bitterly, as he recalled those events. “Needless to say, I’m a lot more careful with what kind of people I hang around and while eccentric, the guys from the Motor Club would’ve never done that. Sure, they’ve got their faults, but, nobody’s perfect I guess.”

“That must’ve been awful, Keiichi-san. But don’t let past experiences bog you down,” said Belldandy with a frown.

“I know. Besides, it was a stupid dare, not something too important. The only thing that annoyed me was how those guys acted, but, even then there are worse things that can happen to someone.” Shaking his head, Keiichi smiled a bit to reassure the brunette goddess. “That’s all ancient history by now. Why don’t we go and make the necessary preparations? I want to make sure that my sempai won’t try anything funny.”

“Yes, Keiichi-san!”

XXX

Niflheim, the Daimakaicho’s mansion

The designated residence of the demon leader was something that would’ve impressed even the most demanding of individuals. A vast complex of several interconnected buildings all built with a specific function in mind, and no expenses were spared when it came down to the interior decoration. The garden alone had the size of an entire park and there were even labyrinths made from bushes that led to small alcoves located at their center.

In order to maintain such a place, Hild had an army of maids to handle that monumental task. What most demons didn’t know was that those weren’t simple servants, but, highly trained warriors, hand picked by Hild herself for the sake of acting as security officers. With such a large area to cover, the Daimakaicho felt it was essential to have as many guards as possible.

However, to provide herself some privacy, an entire section was cut off from the rest of the complex and access was highly restricted. Those were Hild’s inner chambers that were nearly as extensive as a normal residence would’ve normally been and included her sleeping quarters, as well as every other comfort one would expect from a house.

Heading towards one of the guest rooms, Hild wondered if it was actually a smart idea to seek that god’s counsel. He had been really helpful in the past when Urd was still little and needed someone to teach her a few things about her divine heritage and not just how to cast mere spells. What the young hybrid required was a role model to give her an idea of what to expect from celestials in general and her own grandfather was the best candidate.

“It’s open.” The sudden booming voice from the other side of the door made the Daimakaicho blink, before she rolled her eyes and stepped inside the room.

“Don’t you think that it was a bit over dramatic?” asked Hild, observing the silver haired god who was still sitting on his chair, while reading a book.

“I’m sorry, my daughter. It’s just that I don’t get that many guests anymore,” replied Odin, placing a bookmark as he set his novel aside. “With Urd no longer here, I can’t help but feel a little lonely.”

“Tell me about it, old man. I’m missing her terribly and I’d love to see her again,” said Hild with a sigh.

“I may risk to upset you, but, let’s not forget that it was your decision to send her to Muspelheim in the first place,” pointed Odin out, observing his former daughter-in-law behind the visor that obscured his right eye.

“I had no other option. I didn’t want her to go through all the pressure from being my daughter. Everyone expected her to get a prominent position in our society and that would’ve caused her way too much stress, and let’s not mention all those who would flock to her wanting to use her status for their own profit. Muspelheim is a bit different in that regard thankfully. They revere power and Urd-chan has plenty, so, everyone treats her for who she truly is, not as my child.” Letting a sigh, Hild stared at the floor for a moment, before she continued. “Of course, I want to see her again, although, I respect her desire to stay in my homeland. I guess that she’s afraid to return, wanting to do nothing with Niflheim’s politics.”

“Then why don’t you go and visit her instead?” asked the elder god. “I wish I could do the same, but, my status as MIA is preventing me from showing up in plain view; especially in Midgard.”

“Aha! So, you do know about her being on vacations!” said Hild with a grin. “I could’ve sworn I spotted those ravens of yours snooping around.”

“What’s so impressive about that? It’s not a secret that I want to make sure my granddaughters are doing fine,” said Odin with a shrug. “Besides, you’re not one to talk either. I do remember you taking photos and videos of everything Urd did while she was a child. And you’re still spying on her even now.”

“But she was so adorable!” squealed Hild, only to clear her throat a moment later, getting serious once again. “Never mind that. I want to know what’s your opinion about this… situation.”

“Let me see, you’re worried about the fallout in case Belldandy and that boy fails that accursed test. Understandable, although you’re forgetting one big detail; this primarily concerns that mortal and Belldandy. If she decides to undertake the test, then it’s going to be her will, not Urd’s and whatever the outcome might be she won’t blame her sister for that,” said Odin. “That’s what I would’ve done and I doubt that any granddaughter of mine would blame others for her own mistakes.”

“Urd still blames her father for the outcome of our test, and you still blame your own son for the very same thing,” shot the Daimakaicho back at him.

“It was Tyr’s responsibility as the Daitenkaicho to maintain the ideals that my kind once believed in. I gave a bloody fight to bring my realms out of a pointless civil war! Do you think that happened by offering smiles and being such a great guy? I killed others of my own kind and that included the moron who started that whole mess; my own father!” shouted Odin, clinging the side of his head, as he felt his eye behind the visor flare, causing him a lot of pain. “Your husband didn’t have the guts to go and tell those slimy bastards to take that Test proposal and shove it! I don’t care what their pathetic excuse was, but, it’s the first time in celestial history that such a blatantly misanthropic, racist, and downright hypocritical law was implemented. And you wanted me to be okay with it?”

Blinking, Hild took a step closer to her former father-in-law, as he got up from his chair and wobbled a bit towards the nearby drawer. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’ll be fine.” Taking a small bottle with pills, the elder god swallowed one of them, before he put them back. “The painkiller is already working.”

“Those only fight the symptoms, not the actual problem,” insisted Hild.

“It’s way too late to do anything about that, but, thank you for your concern,” said Odin as he plopped down on his chair. “At any rate, my opinion will remain unchanged. I think it’s going to be for the best if you sided with your daughter, instead of doing a favor to those who separated you from Tyr.”

“I had a feeling that you’d say that…” said the demoness with a sigh. “I’m not entirely convinced that it’s going to be for Urd’s best interest, though. I need a bit more than that before I make any final decisions.”

“In that case, let them spend some time together and drop by for a visit. Not only you’ll get to spend some time with Urd, but, you’ll get the opportunity to observe everyone by yourself.” Pausing for a moment, the elder god started to relax as the pain had finally subsided. “As you obviously know there’s nothing better than that, since second handed information is never that accurate.”

“You know, that’s not a bad idea at all…” Smiling a bit at the prospect of meeting her daughter again, especially in an informal setting, Hild couldn’t wait for the best opportunity to do that. Of course, rushing it could be a bad idea and only intimidate the mortal, who was still nervous around the two demonesses who lived with him. So, patience was a vital element in this whole situation and she could just leave Hagall to keep an eye on them until she decided that it was the right moment to drop by. “In the meanwhile, would you like some tea?”

“Huh? That would be nice indeed,” said Odin with a hint of surprise.

“Okay, wait here and I’ll make some for you,” said Hild with a wink, before she headed towards the kitchen area of her inner chambers.

“It’s not like I’m going anywhere,” said Odin, before he was left alone. ‘Hm… What’s gotten into her, I wonder? Then again, she always brightens up whenever we talk about Urd. Softie…’

‘With all due respect, master, but the kettle called the pot black,’ came a voice from within the god’s mind.

‘Oh, give me a break, Gungnir! I’m nowhere as bad as she is, and we’re talking about a demoness to begin with!’ shot back Odin at his angel.

‘If my memory serves me right, you always got all those adorable plushies for Urd when she was a child,’ replied the mirthful angel.

‘It was my role as her grandfather to… Hey! Stop laughing!... I mean it! Are you even listening?’ sent the irate god over the mental link with his symbiont. ‘Gungnir!’

XXX

“Thanks for coming everyone!” shouted Tamiya over the mike, with Otaki standing next to him, waiting for his friend to finish with the intro.

The crowd that inundated the contest area was far bigger than most would’ve initially expected and that made the heads of the Motor Club extremely happy, as they already wondered just how much cash they’ve made from the tickets alone.

Behind them in the makeshift stage where a small group of women dressed in bikinis, since that happened to be the first part of the contest. Despite the fact that a lot more students had decided to participate than initially expected, it was the three immortals who managed to captivate the audience’s attention. Urd, Mara and a somewhat reluctant Belldandy were at the center of the group, scanning the crowd for Keiichi and Skuld while Tamiya and Otaki were still going on about the details of the contest.

“Over there!” said Belldandy as she spotted her sister and their mortal friend and waived at them.

“Nice, they’re not that far from the stage, so, they should get a great view,” added Urd, offering them a wink.

“Yeah… Keiichi’s a bit of a shorty after all,” added Mara, earning a scowl from Belldandy. However, neither of them had the chance to say anything more, as Otaki announced the first contestant.

“Number one is miss Urd! Height, 170 cm. Her crucial stats: 90-60-91 cm.”

Stepping forward, the half goddess proudly presented herself in her golden bikini, the same one she had worn during Keiichi’s welcoming party. However, this time the bottom part of her swimwear was visible, and given that it was a rather daring thong the crowd roared with applause, especially when she turned around to let that fact known. And for a good extra measure, she had also shrunk the top a bit more than normal to make the fit even tighter, in order to give the impression that her chest was about to burst free from its confinement.

“That’s the best rack I’ve ever seen!”

That spontaneous comment from one of the various cheering students was enough to cause Skuld to glare at his general direction and reach for her blouse where she retrieved a long green aluminum cylinder. “I’ll show you… perv.”

Noticing the young goddess shifting next to him, Keiichi stared at the item she had summoned and the more he looked at it, the more he got worried. “Uh… What’s that?”

“A LAW, why?” asked the Norn of the future, pausing for a moment.

“A what?”

“L-A-W. Abbreviation for light anti-tank weapon, and to be more specific, this is a variant of the M72 LAW, I’ve seen in a book yesterday,” said Skuld with a proud smile. “I was bored and decided to make something really quickly, since there wasn’t anything great in the TV.”

“You can’t use that here!” said the horrified student, fearing a massacre if she wasn’t joking about this. And if she already so angry right now, he didn’t even want to find out how she was going to react when it was Belldandy’s turn.

“Oh, okay… Actually, this isn’t a fully powered one, but… I guess you’re right,” started Skuld as she put the weapon back into her blouse. It was then that she sudden sound of thunder that made everyone look skywards, only to find that there was no sign of any clouds anywhere in the horizon.

“Strange...” wondered Keiichi, extending his palm in search for any falling droplets of rain only to find none. “What was that?”

“Divine punishment,” muttered Skuld, trying to hide her gleaming eyes, when she spotted the owner of that rude comment, now covered in soot and taking a short nap for his trouble.

“Huh?”

xxx

Glaring at her husband who was trying to look away from the display in front of them, Ansuz shook her head at him. “For goodness sake, that was totally uncalled for… And I wondered where Skuld got her aggressive tendencies…”

xxx

“Next contestant! The lovely miss Belldandy! Height, 165 cm. Crucial stats: 83-57-84 cm.”

Stepping forward, Belldandy gave the crowd a friendly waive, while not particularly concerned about the fact that she was wearing a rather conservative one piece swimsuit with a diamond cut at her navel. Despite her less aggressive introduction, the goddess had received a warm welcome judging from the loud round of applause she got. Although, it proved to be a bit too warm as she turned around to return to her previous spot.

“Nice booty!”

For the second time in less that a few minutes, lightning sent yet another student to the land of dreams, making everyone rather self conscious and even scared at voicing their opinions from now on.

“Okay, now it’s getting downright weird…” said Keiichi, who was still trying to spot where those electrical discharges were coming from.

Skuld on the other hand wasn’t worried about the bizarre weather phenomena and had other things in her mind. ‘YES!’

xxx

Bowing her head in shame, Ansuz raised her hand to stop the inevitable comment that she knew was coming. “Not. A. Word… And stop smirking like that, Tyr! I mean it!”

xxx

“Next contestant! Miss Mara! Height 167 cm. Uh… we tried to get her crucial stats, but… she wouldn’t tell. Sorry everyone…”

Offering Otaki a sideways glance as she walked forward, Mara attempted to suppress an evil smirk when she noticed his scared expression. They had indeed tried to make her reveal her measurements and while she had no problems to take part in this for fun, she wasn’t going to play their game. In reality it didn’t matter whether they won or not, the actual point was to generate enough money for Keiichi’s club to fund whatever silly project they had in mind and by doing so, earn his trust. After all, that would allow them to manipulate the boy more easily, since he wasn’t going to be that cautious around them once he started to consider them as friends.

Despite that, Mara was as proud as any other demoness and losing to a bunch of college girls wasn’t an option for her, so, she did put a decent effort and wore one of her better swimsuits. And while her red two piece bikini was more conservative than Urd’s, it wasn’t really by that much and the cheers she got from the crowd were enough to prove that she was on the right track. ‘Heh… It’s like stealing candy from a baby. I didn’t even need to use the one Urd got me last year for my birthday.’

Watching from a certain distance, Sayoko was rather impressed with the whole event. Unlike her initial expectations, a lot more girls had ended up signing for it and the gathered crowd was also much bigger as a direct result. Still, she was certain that the primary reason were those three mysterious foreigners who literally came out of nowhere and suddenly became extremely popular by the looks of it. Not that she felt threatened in any way, given that everyone was most likely going to forget about them in a day or two and things would go back to normal with her being the undisputed star of the campus.

‘After all, they’re not even students to begin with. So, there’s no reason for the to show up here, unless... they’ll keep hanging around Morisato.’ It really mystified her why those girls wanted to be close to him and for the most part it wasn’t even her business. As far as she was concerned he could socialize with anyone he wanted, although, if those three kept showing up too often then they could eventually become the most popular women around.

‘His looks are average, he’s got no social status, no fame and above all, no money. This makes no sense to me and what’s up with the crazy weather? I swear that I’ve heard thunder twice and yet there’s not a single cloud in sight anywhere. Something's wrong here and I’ve got a feeling that it’s not going to be that simple to figure it out. Hm… perhaps I should investigate a bit into those three and see what I can come up with.’

A couple of minutes later, once all the contestants were properly introduced, a few members from the three co-organizing clubs who acted as the event’s judges, were voting for the winner of the first round. So, after a short intermission where the audience had to suffer a round of karaoke songs by none other than Tamiya and Otaki, the results for the first round were finally revealed. Cleaning his throat after his singing session, Otaki held the paper close to his sunglasses and took a look before he announced the rankings.

“Okay! Round one is over and the judges have made their minds after the lovely ladies’ presentation. So!... The first place for the bikini contest goes to miss Urd! Next comes miss Mara and third is miss Belldandy! Now, the fourth position goes to…”

“What a bunch of pervs… They just voted based on how much skin they showed!” grumbled Skuld, trying to hide her otherwise obvious annoyance. Her beloved sister had fallen third after two rather brazen contestants who had resorted to cheating in order to get ahead of her. Of course, one of them was Urd, and that was probably the sole reason the young goddess hadn’t completely lost her temper due to this terrible injustice.

“D-Don’t worry, Skuld… I’m sure that the other rounds won’t be the same,” offered Keiichi, in an effort to appease the little deity. “How about we get a soda or an ice cream while we wait for the next part to start?”

“Ice cream for me!” said the excited Norn of the future, making Keiichi smile at her otherwise childish behavior.

“Let’s go then!”

XXX

“Alright everyone! The next phase of the contest is about to start! That’s right! The cosplay challenge! In this unique challenge we’ll not only judge the contestant’s stage presence, but, the quality of their costumes as well!”

Shaking her head as she finished her soft served ice cream, Skuld let out a sigh. “In other words, they’ve got to wear clothing that’s both expensive and naughty. Poor oneesama… having to put up with such a bunch of perverts.”

“It’s not like that…” tried Keiichi, only to stop as he noticed the look on the little goddess’ face. In an effort to find a distraction, the college student pointed at the stage. “Look, it’s Urd’s turn!”

Stepping from behind the divider that kept the contestants concealed while they put their costumes on, Urd balanced the enormous battleaxe she was carrying over her shoulder. The front of her tutu-like dress was straining to keep itself from tearing apart, as the three spots where the fabric connected were stretched close to their breaking point, given her chest size. Still, she walked with grace on her high heels, and proudly displayed the four fake winglets she had added on the sides of her head, before posing with her axe in hand.

“Oh wow! That must be from an anime or something,” commented Keiichi, missing the stunned and utterly silent Skuld who was trying to convince herself that she wasn’t hallucinating and that was indeed her eldest sister.

xxx

The lord of the gods was also having a hard time to justify his daughter’s stunt, his only consolation being that she might’ve not known that he and his wife had decided to watch this event. Taking a long sip from his herbal tea to calm his nerves, Tyr dared to glance over to the other side of the couch where the shell shocked goddess was watching the surreal sight in front of her in disbelief.

“Am I seeing things or Urd-chan dressed exactly like me?”

In a moment of poor judgment, the chief god decided to correct her; a fact that he deeply regretted moments later, when it was too late. “I don’t think that she looks exactly like you, Ansuz… There are some clear differences as far as I can tell.”

“Oh? Care to elaborate a bit more?” asked the goddess in a tone that could easily scare the bravest of demons. “That statement of yours sounded way too vague to me.”

Realizing his blunder, Tyr attempted to salvage the situation, before his wife really got angry with him. “Well, the winglets are fake and so is the axe she’s carrying. It’s not the Judgement Gate’s compact form after all, right?”

It was a rhetorical question of course, one that the god expected no response and thankfully got none. Especially when that might’ve invoked some of her wife’s past tendencies from the time she used to be a Valkyrie in her youth.

xxx

“Next, miss Belldandy!”

Right on cue the brunette stepped on the stage, wearing something that was reminiscent of her elder sister’s demonic attire, although far more elaborate and decorated. The pink and black dress was probably one of the most daring things that she had ever worn, with a neckline that reached all the way to her navel. And with all the bracelets, rings and even the ornamental headgear she wore, Belldandy got everyone’s attention, although for the immortal observers this was probably the most unlikely sight in the world.

‘You’ve got to be kidding me!... I may have done the same, but… Belldandy?!’ Staring at her smiling sibling, Urd was now convinced that this spectacle was a direct result of the goddess’ competitive streak. While gentle, Belldandy was very serious when it came to challenges and perhaps the fact that she came third in the previous one, pushed her into trying something that she would’ve otherwise never done on her own.

“Huh… That kind of looks like Urd’s outfit,” commented Keiichi as he scratched his head, remembering an instance where the half demoness changed into a similar attire. Of course, he had to look away from Skuld, worrying that the blush on his face would’ve triggered a rather nasty response from her. Worse, the little goddess would inevitably classify him as a pervert, despite the fact that he wasn’t leering her sister like some of the other students who only cared about her looks and not her personality. Still, he had no idea what had gotten to the otherwise reserved goddess and he started to wonder just how complex she truly was, with what he had already witnesses so far being only part of her real self.

Sayoko was also rather stunned at the display, since she hadn’t expected the brunette to be this aggressive, based on their previous encounter. In her mind this Belldandy character wasn’t that much of a threat, at least not on the same level as Urd or Mara who were far more willing to attract everyone’s attention. That’s what she’d thought initially, but, with this evidence it was fairly certain that the brunette foreigner wasn’t nearly as passive, making her a potentially dangerous individual. ‘She’s got both the charisma and the will to compete… And not to mention a body that can attract more than a few looks... Maybe I need to pay more attention to her than the others.’

On the other hand, poor Skuld had a lot of trouble to come into terms with the fact that her otherwise perfect oneesama had decided to wear the Daimakaicho’s trademark dress. The real problem wasn’t that she did something similar to what Urd had done moments ago, but, the idea of her middle sister displaying this amount of skin was almost uncharacteristic for anyone who knew her, even though other goddesses had little reservations to show more. This situation left the Norn of the future in a state of denial, trying to convince herself that she wasn’t having a bad dream. ‘I mustn’t run away… I mustn’t run away...’

xxx

Tyr was trying to recover from his coughing fit after he accidentally choked on his tea, given this rather… unique sight that he had just witnessed. It was natural to expect it from Urd, but, in a strange coincidence, both sisters had the exact same idea which he would’ve otherwise found to be amusing if it wasn’t for the rattling noise that came from his side. Glancing towards the goddess at the other end of the couch, he had to admit that her serene expression was probably misleading given her shaking hands that caused her tea cup to wobble on its saucer, as she attempted to place it to the table next to her. And with her winglets twitching slightly, the god decided that it would’ve been for the best to remain quiet and hope that she recovers from her state of shock without any drama.

The sound of his communicator was a welcome change to the uncomfortable silence that had filled the room, although, after at a glance at the caller ID, Tyr almost cursed his luck. It was the last person or rather… demoness he wanted to talk to at a moment like this. Still, ignoring her would’ve most likely prompted her to call directly to his wife and that wasn’t a risk he was currently willing to take.

“It is I.”

“...”

“Yes, we’re watching the event right now.”

“...”

“I’m not that much of an imbecile to tell that to her, Hild, and I’d greatly appreciate if you don’t either.”

“...”

“No, I’m not curious to find out. After all, there are things that are so obvious that…”

“...”

“I’m glad that you checked, then. Could you please keep this a… Hild? Hello?”

As his wife’s communicator went off, Tyr buried his face in his palm, fearing that his former wife had actually decided to go along and rub some more salt to the wound. ‘Sometimes she’s really impossible...’

“What do you mean she’s copied ever your britches?! You call that… that… shameless piece of fabric, underwear?!” shouted Ansuz at her communicator, barely capable of containing her annoyance. “No! I don’t care if they look great on her!”

Ending the call in a rather abrupt manner, the fuming goddess tried to refill her cup of tea, only to find it really difficult to complete this simple task.

“Tyr…”

“Yes, dear?” asked the Daitenkaicho, avoiding to meet her gaze and focusing in the screen in front of him.

“I’ve decided to go down there a bit sooner than I was originally planning. Someone needs to keep an eye to those girls,” spat Ansuz. “I never thought that, Belldandy of all goddesses would suddenly start behaving in such a manner.”

“They all go through that rebellious phase at one point or another. She’s gonna calm down, I’m sure of it,” offered the Daitenkaicho at his irate wife. “And speaking of that, why don’t you try to do that as well? You’re just overreacting a bit, and I believe that once you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s not really as bad as you think it is.”

“I’ll try. No promises, though.”

xxx

“Next, miss Mara!”

Walking to the middle of the stage, the blonde was dressed in what was actually her demonic attire, consisting of a minimalistic vest, a cape and a split skirt that did little to hide her underwear. With an additional pair of thigh high stocking to complete her look, Mara smiled as she heard the audience’s applause, especially after she spent zero effort to pull this off. ‘Heh… Simple minded fools. All I had to do was to put my regular clothes on and they drool like dogs at a barbecue contest.’

“Well… That’s normal at least,” said Skuld with a sigh of relief. “Right, Keiichi?”

“I-It’s really nice,” said the nervous college student, trying to avoid any comments on how such attires weren’t really common on Earth; at least not without being charged for indecent exposure.

“Hm… Why are you getting so red all of sudden?” asked the confused goddess, unaware of the problem. “Are you having a… fever? Is that what they call it?”

“Um… no, but, it’s a bit warm here,” tried Keiichi, fanning himself for an extra measure. “How about we go and get some refreshments?”

“Oh, okay. I don’t have a problem with that,” replied Skuld with a smile. “It’s going to take a while for the last part to start, after all.”

Leading her to the closest vending machine, Keiichi noticed Sayoko in the distance, observing the contest with a somewhat troubled expression. ‘So, she decided to show up after all. I wonder what she’s up to… I don’t buy that she’s here for supporting anyone or even out of mere curiosity. Well… let’s wait and see.’

xxx

“Mother, here’s your iced tea.”

Placing the glass on the table in front of Hild’s recliner, Hagall watched as the Daimakaicho tried hard to stop laughing. Moments ago, she called her former husband and then his wife, resulting in a dialogue that the blonde had no idea what to think of. In her eyes, her adopted mother was the very definition of competence and professionalism when it came to official matters. However, there were moments like these when Hagall had no idea what to make of her antics that were way too childish and unpredictable.

“Thanks Hagall-chan, I needed that. It’s been a while since I had such a good laugh. Poor Ansuz… maybe I’ll have to buy her a present to cheer her up,” said Hild as she enjoyed some of the offered tea.

“Please not this again… Last time was more than enough, given the nature of the gift,” said Hagall. “It took her a few weeks to get back into a more cooperative mood.”

“Oh please! That goddess needs to relax a bit and I thought that I had the perfect idea,” said Hild with a smirk.

“Getting her an… ironing board isn’t what I’d like to consider as the most subtle of presents. If nothing else, it could’ve been taken as an insult or at the very least a prank,” insisted Hagall.

“Details… details… There’s nothing wrong with teasing each other a bit from time to time. After all, I had to retaliate after she sent me a bra made out of two full sized tents. I’m not small by any means, but, that’s plainly ridiculous. Besides, I don’t normally wear bras to begin with.” Huffing in annoyance, Hild summoned a holographic screen depicting the series of photos of Belldandy’s costume. “Pretty nice if I have to say so for myself. It’s always interesting to see that she’s not actually as shy as she seems to be.”

“So?”

“That could be useful information for later, once we’ll get the opportunity to get a closer look at the situation,” replied Hild. “Besides, she apparently got our mortal’s attention for sure. Her typically friendly but distant personality discouraged most of her wannabe suitors who assumed that they’d never become anything more than her friends.”

“Uh… I was under the impression that you haven’t made any decisions about whether to help Urd in her little mission or not. What changed that?” asked the blonde demoness with a raised eyebrow.

“I just… gave it some more thought. After all, we’ve got less to lose than win if they succeed and pass that accursed Gate,” spat Hild, as her expression darkened considerably.

Taking a sip from her own tea, Hagall wondered if it was a wise idea to press the matter any further, but after reminding herself that she was talking to her mother, she decided to press on. “There’s an if involved here. We’ve got no guarantees that they’ll succeed, so what happens in that case?”

“We might have to use the last resort option, of course,” said Hild with a gleam in her eyes. “Get rid of that blasted thing once and for all.”

“But... That’s dangerous! The celestials won’t allow it to happen!” protested Hagall, knowing that even if they brought that subsystem down, the gods would simply repair it.

“Don’t worry Hagall-chan, I’m not so daft to try and do something so obvious. The point is to make that thing so uncomfortable for them that they’ll have no other option but to get rid of it by themselves,” explained Hild. “I’ve avoided to do that, hoping that a better solution would’ve been available, especially since it’s going to require that guy’s involvement.”

“You wouldn’t mean… Loki?” asked Hagall. “He’s not that bad, actually. The notes he gave to Urd became one of the best selling manuals in the fine art of deception and we even started to use it as teaching material for young demons.”

“Yes, but… he’s far too unpredictable and I’d like to avoid including him in any of my plans,” replied Hild, pausing for a moment. “You know… when was the last time you went on vacations with your sister?”

Taken aback at the sudden question, Hagall had a rather bad feeling about this. “I… think it was shortly prior her reassignment to Muspelheim. Why?”

“Knowing her, Ansuz will most certainly try to get there as soon as possible, in an attempt to help them. However, since that’s most likely going to reveal too much to that boy, she might scare him from courting Bell-chan, and whether that’s by accident or not, I don’t care. On the other hand, I think it’s a bit early for me to show up there, which is why I want to send someone else to keep an eye on the situation, and you’re the best candidate. Cheer up, you’re going to have a lot of fun, I’m sure of it!” offered the Daimakaicho with a wide smile. “After all, you’ve seen how things are down there. I bet you’re going to enjoy it!”

‘It’s because I saw that makes me worried...’

xxx

As the contest was about to enter its third and final phase, the audience was trying to maintain their enthusiasm, since the really interesting part was already over. This was supposed to be a racing challenge that the guys from the Motor Club had decided that was a fitting end for this event, despite the fact that few others shared that sentiment.

For the vast majority of the assorted students, it was all about pretty girls in skimpy outfits, not noisy, second handed scooters the heads of the Motor Club had borrowed from a junkyard. Still, most were curious enough to see the outcome of the contest and decided to endure what was likely going to be the most boring event of the day; at least from their perspective.

Not everyone shared this sentiment, though, and one of them was Keiichi who was rather intrigued to find out what his immortal housemates knew about racing. While they had to borrow some cheap scooters that had clearly seen better days, his club worked hard to bring them back to life for this special race. Ideally they’d rather use something a bit faster, but, considering that the majority of the contestants had no racing experience, this was the safest bet. Plus, the owner of the yard let them use the bikes for free, if they promised that they’d return them back and in working order, figuring that he’d make a lot more money if the sold them afterwards instead of scrapping them for metal.

“Heh… That’s going to be fun. This time they’re gonna eat oneesama’s dust!” gloated Skuld with a grin, as she watched the contestants adjust their racing suits and helmets.

“You really sound confident that, Belldandy is going to win this,” said Keiichi, feeling a bit curious about the little goddess’ confidence.

“Of course she is! After all, oneesama is the Asgard’s broom racing champion with six consecutive wins!” replied Skuld. “There’s no way she’s going to lose this!”

“That’s awesome! I didn’t know that!” Looking at the brunette, Keiichi noticed that she did seem confident enough while she was checking her pink racing suit and the red helmet that, as she was about to get on her scooter. ‘Although… Broom racing? What’s that even supposed to mean?’

Next to her was Urd in a purple racing suite and Mara in a similar but red one. Turning to her blonde companion, the half demoness gave her a wink. “Okay, Ma-chan, let’s not overdo it.”

“You’re not suggesting to simply let her win on purpose, do you?” asked Mara in a hushed tone, trying to avoid being heard by the goddess of the present.

“No! If she finds out that we held back, she’s going to get upset!” said Urd back at her fellow demoness. “And who knows what’s gonna happen then. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t use magic and push her to do the same. With so many mortals around us, it’s likely that someone’s going to figure out that something strange is going on.”

“Oh… Okay, that makes sense…” said Mara with a nod, as she put her helmet on.

“Alright! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! The final part of the competition is about to take place. The racing track is a course around the campus, starting from this spot, then moving around the building of the Engineering department, to the central fountain and finally the road that’s next to the baseball field which leads back to this very spot!” shouted Tamiya over the mike. “Contestants! Start your engines! Ready?... GO!”

For Belldandy, the bike’s acceleration was a far cry from what she’s been used to during her practice runs with her broom, Stringfellow, who also happened to be the fastest one in Asgard. Despite that, some of the techniques she was familiar with remained the same and the goddess quickly managed to gain an advantage over the rest of the contestants.

The only ones who weren’t so easy to leave behind were her sister and Mara, who leaned in the corners just like she did, despite the fact that their refurbished scooters didn’t seem like they were reliable enough for this kind of driving.

“Wow! They actually know how to race,” breathed Keiichi as he watched them take the lead and separate from the rest of the group that could barely keep up with them.

“Which part of what I’ve said, you didn’t get?” muttered Skuld, giving the college student a sideways glance. When she turned her attention back to the race, she noticed that Belldandy’s scooter was getting slower and the two demonesses had effectively reached her. “Oh no! Her bike’s not working properly! If she loses, it’s all going to be your fault, Keiichi!”

“Hey! I didn’t repair all of them!” said the dark haired student in his defense.

Seeing her sister’s bike slow down, Urd wasted no time and soon she was right next to her. “Say, Bell… Why don’t you fix your scooter? It’s not your fault those guys messes up with the repairs.”

“That’s okay, neesan. I’m not planning to use magic just to win,” replied the Norn of the present, as they made yet another right turn, heading towards the fountain. At this point, she was already behind Urd, but, managed to stay very close to her, so much that their tires were almost inches apart.

‘Huh… What is she up to?’ wondered Urd as she saw her sister’s reflection on her rear mirror. Apparently the Norn of the present had managed to keep up with her, despite the engine problems she was experiencing. “And why do I have a feeling that she eased up the throttle? It’s not struggling as hard as it was moments ago...’

Heading towards the final straight, Urd looked over her shoulder to find that, Belldandy was still able to follow her and she had even effectively blocked Mara from overtaking her. Revving up her scooter, the half demoness tried to put some more distance between herself and her pursuer, but, for some reason the bike refused to go much faster. ‘I should’ve known that this was a piece of junk as well… No wonder we’re doing a single lap; those things had seen much better days. And to imagine that their owner wanted to sell them after the contest. What a joke…’

The sound of the goddess’ scooter accelerating startled Urd who could barely believe that it suddenly managed to recover a bit and was now about to overtake her. This time however, it was her turn to find out that her bike was nearly falling apart and refused to go any faster. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’

“They’re getting close to the finish line!” said Keiichi watching the race with excitement as the two siblings were now next to each other and speeding towards the checkerboard flag.

“Come on, oneesama! You can do it!” shouted Skuld, causing a few of the nearby bystanders to cover their ringing ears; Keiichi included.

Managing to get a tiny advantage over Urd, Belldandy reached the line a fraction of a second before the half demoness did, with Mara right after them and the rest a few seconds behind.

As the crowd cheered, Urd’s curiosity got the better of her and approached her sister, who was already trying to balance herself as Skuld nearly tackled her. “Okay… Fess up. How did you do it?”

“It was all thanks to you, neesan!” replied Belldandy with a smile. “By slipstreaming behind your bike, I had a lot less drag and as such I cut the throttle a bit to prevent my bike from overheating.”

“Wait? Overheating? But… those are air cooled scooters. They should’ve been fine,” replied Keiichi.

“I’m not certain about that, Keiichi-san. The cylinder spirits complained that there was not enough oil. Or rather… it wasn’t doing its job properly.” Tilting her head a bit, Belldandy tried to recall what she knew about human made vehicles. “That would be to lubricate the engine, right?”

“Yes, but… I thought that my sempai had changed the…” started the college student, only to stop as he realized who he was talking about. “I should’ve done that by myself… Either they forgot or…”

“Nonsense!” barked Tamiya, as he and Otaki joined the rest of them. “We’re not stupid enough to forget such an important detail.”

“Yeah. We were just broke and decided to go for it, given that it was only for a single race,” explained Otaki.

“If you were that desperate then why didn’t you took the existing oil out and filter it?” asked Skuld. “While far from ideal, a simple paper filter for coffee maker with some extra cotton could possibly clean it enough for the needs of a single race.”

Sharing an empty look the two buffs were apparently about to cry, despite their tough looks.

“Den-chan… a kid outsmarted us…”

“How shameful, Dai-chan!...”

“Who’s a kid?” barked Skuld at the overreacting duo, grinding her teeth in a manner that made her eldest sister proud. “Hey! I’m talking to you, big babies!”

Wrapping an arm around Belldandy, Urd leaned closer to her sister. “Well, I guess you won this, right Bell-chan? After all, you got the first place twice in a row and that should be more than enough to get the title. Congratulations, Queen of NIT!”

“Thank you, sister. Although… I did copy your idea at the cosplay part,” said Belldandy with a sheepish look. “I kind of feel bad about it…”

“Oh, come on, Bell! I found it to be hilarious!” said Urd with a chuckle. “Come to think of it… I never thought you had it you. How about I show you some nice outfits, tomorrow?”

“I’d… rather you won’t,” breather the Norn of the present, as she became rather pale just from thinking about it.

“Don’t be such a prude! You haven’t even seen them!” pleaded Urd. “Come on! It’s going to be fun!”

“I’ll… Okay, neesan. But, just one,” replied Belldandy, as they walked towards the stage where Tamiya and Otaki had now prepared to announce the winner.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We present you the first Queen of the Campus; miss Belldandy!”

While the crowd cheered, Sayoko watched the last part event with a scowl.

‘Belldandy… It’s interesting how she managed to beat even Urd, given that woman’s physique. She’s probably a more serious opponent that I would’ve ever expected. Oh well… as long as she never comes back, it’s not a problem for me...’

XXX

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Time to give my thoughts.

I liked it.

I kinda expect Urd and Belldandy to give Tyr and Ansuz an earful after they've talked with Keiichi and learned about what happened while they were onstage. True, they don't like getting catcalled, but they're also the type to want to punish people themselves.

Another part that caught my eye was when Tyr said, "“And speaking of that, why don’t you try to do that as well? You’re just overreacting a bit, and I believe that once you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s not really as bad as you think it is.”"

If Ansuz was more like Skuld in your fic, then Ansuz's reaction would be getting more angry and asking, "Are you asking me to start dressing up like HILD?!"

Then we all would read Tyr's way of trying to placiate an angry Ansuz.

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Nice, I like that idea and here's a modified part with it:

“Do that as well?” Narrowing her eyes at her husband, Ansuz was clearly not happy with one potential interpretation of his words. “Are you asking me to start dressing like Hild?”



“What? No! I meant to try and relax! I never implied that you have to do that!” answered the startled god. ‘And even if I did, Hild would’ve never let her live it down.’

Letting a sigh, the teal haired goddess started to calm down a bit, not willing to continue a rather immature argument any more. “I’ll try. No promises, though.”

Ansuz is indeed a bit more like Skuld than Belldandy and I think that's also evident from the manga. She does have more self control than her daughter and most of the time she avoids to act in a rather immature manner.

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Nice. I like how Tyr seemed a bit Keiichi-ish there. Now I got a mental image of Hild figuring that Ansuz and Tyr had such a conversation because Hild had been watching the competition, she knew that the gods would be watching as well, and knew the gods' personalities very well. So the next time Ansuz and Hild meet, Hild decides to be a troll and says right outta the blue, "Oh, he did imply such a thing, Ansuz. Valkyries should trust their first instinct more often."

All just to have Tyr sleep on the couch for a few days. Hild's not as lonely as in the manga, after all. So she might not be as sweet towards Tyr.

Or Hild just felt like being a troll.

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In a way, I think that Tyr as well as Ansuz were acting a bit immature, although, I believe that it's not such a big problem as long as they're not acting like that all the time. After all, everyone deserves a break from their everyday jobs and relax a bit. Also, Hild and Ansuz will certainly meet later on and this won't be the only reason to tease each other.

It's a good thing that he sleeps in his office, or he would've indeed ended on the couch. Of course, his wife wouldn't be too pleasant for a while and Hild... she may not be that lonely, but, I don't think that she's go and try to give him any serious trouble. That being said, the definition of 'serious trouble' is very subjective and for her, a seemingly harmless prank can be something very different from another person's perspective.

Edit: The latest chapter is on FF:https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/6/Ah-The-lost-contract

Edited by vanagandr
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Here's the draft for chapter 7:

Niflheim, Hild’s private chambers

‘Let’s see… I need to add another droplet of ginseng extract and then a pinch of brown sugar.’

Letting her notebook down on the table, Hild carefully inspected the vials and glass tubes in front of her, as she carried on with her alchemical project. The bubbling liquid began to change color, turning from dark red to a much lighter pinkish tone. Opening the valve that was on top of the round-bottom flask that led to a condenser, the demoness decided that she could take a short break while the distilled potion collected on the beaker, one droplet at a time.

‘This should make it a bit stronger from the previous version. Still, I wonder if it’s good enough...’

For a moment, she remembered the alchemical lessons she gave her daughters while they were younger. While inadvisable to teach them that particular craft during a period of their lives where their curiosity often became a problem, Hild was confident that they possessed enough common sense to know how to keep themselves out of harm’s way and only to test their potions on others, before they were sure that they were working properly.

And while Hagall was doing a decent job at creating various formulas, it was Urd who really got into alchemy. At first, Hild thought that her daughter was merely trying to find a way to relate to her, just like many other kids wanted to emulate their parents. However, as time went by, it became rather apparent that this wasn’t the case, since the half demoness started practicing even when her mother wasn’t around and began collecting resources to create a lab for herself.

As a matter of fact the potion, Hild was trying to improve at the moment was one of Urd’s painkillers that she made a long time ago when she noticed that her grandfather suffered from sudden episodes due to his infection from that… incident back when he and his team tried to infiltrate the subterranean caverns below the capital city.

Stretching for several miles, a vast network of ancient tunnels were one of the few areas in the demonic realms that was totally outside of their control. Instead, it was the domain of the dreaded Nidhogg, the Infernal Dragon of Niflheim who was trapped inside the network’s largest chamber by the roots of the World Tree that transcended space and even time, spreading on various different worlds.

It was a place like that, which gave the demons the opportunity to gain access to Yggdrasil’s root system and by extension, the tree itself, allowing themselves to build their own system that could interface with the World Tree.

This was one of the first tasks of Ymir, the first Daimakaicho once he established control on the surface of the once frozen Niflheim, since the legions of dragons created by Nidhogg during an era long forgotten were guarding the entrance of the Pit; the only vertical tunnel that led to the subterranean caverns. After that long and bloody campaign, that opening was sealed and under the control of the demons, who went and started making a series of vertical shafts until they reached the roots of Yggdrasil.

Since all that infrastructure was well guarded and buried under several layers of blast resistant, reinforced walls, at some point Odin came with the plan to infiltrate the caverns as a way of gaining access to those communication relays in hopes to permanently disable them and render the Nidhogg mainframe useless. With that simple mission, he hoped to put an end to the millennia old conflict between the two species, by ensuring a de facto victory for the gods once their opponents were deprived of their own system and eventually see no other way but to surrender.

Smiling bitterly, Hild remembered that there was nothing simple about his attempt and like any other celestial, he had grossly underestimated the dangers that lurked in the dark, musky caverns of the dreaded Infernal Dragon; its very domain where the myriads of its reptilian servants were still guarding it while their master slept under the roots of its nemesis.

XXX

Niflheim, the bottom of the Pit, several millennia ago

Gathered at the cavern right below the vertical tunnel that led all the way up to the Daimakaicho’s throne room, some of the demons’ best trained warriors were waiting for Ratatoskr’s quick response team to join them before they headed deeper into the labyrinth of the subterranean passageways and towards the source of the disruption that triggered their security system minutes ago.

In charge of the company was the ruler of Muspelheim, Hild who had gathered her troops as soon as possible in order to respond in the fastest manner possible. Not that the Daimakaicho would offer her any compliments, given Fafnir’s big ego, but rather insecure personality, which made him paranoid of everyone who could be a threat to him; especially one as powerful as her.

“Status report, lieutenant!”

Turning to his superior, Surt gave her a shrug that was probably a bit unprofessional, although it wasn’t that unexpected from the dark haired demon to do. “No changes so far. Those celestials are still deep into Nidhogg's territory and…”

The sudden sound of what would’ve been a sonic boom interrupted the Eldjotunn, and made the rest of the soldiers to assume a defensive stance, getting ready to fend off an incoming attack.

“Scratch that. Seems like they got their host’s attention,” groaned Surt. While the Infernal Dragon was indeed incapable of moving, it could still create small versions of itself and even though they were typically a trillionth of its true self, they were nearly impervious to anything they could throw at them. As a matter of fact, the only recommended strategy was to put it into sleep with a powerful spell and then evacuate the area, hoping that the dragon’s avatar would lose interest and leave.

“This is really bad… If we wait any more, we won’t manage to capture any of them. Where’s that Ratatoskr unit?” asked Hild, starting to lose her patience.

“They’re about to enter the throne room,” answered one of her sergeants, as she checked her tactical communicator. “They’ll be here in a few minutes at most.”

“That’s a few minutes they don’t have… I refuse to return empty handed,” said Hild with a snarl, getting her armored combat uniform ready. Unlike most other missions, this time they had to deploy wearing a much heavier version of the grey and black battle fatigues that were typically used by Muspelheim’s troops, given the extremely hazardous environment they were about to enter. “Surt! We’re moving on!”

“Got it! First squad with me, second and third follow the commander! Fourth, cover our flank!” barked the dark haired demon, as he got the rest of the Eldjotnar moving.

Horrible, guttural sounds reverberated in the twisting corridors, a clear sign of Nidhogg’s rage which was more than enough to make even the bravest souls falter and think twice before they stepped closer to its den. This was one of the reasons why they had to come all the way from Muspelheim, since the so called elite guard of Niflheim was busy trying to find a good enough hiding place and play dead until the crisis was dealt with. After all, it was possible for the avatar of the Infernal Dragon to escape and came up to the surface of the demonic capital, causing unimaginable chaos and destruction on its wake.

Reaching the end of the tunnel, Surt ordered the troops to stand by and take cover at each side of the chamber’s entrance, while they spied inside to get an idea of what they were up against. It was a scene out of a nightmare and while the Eldjotunn had little sympathy for the celestial intruders, he was fully aware that the dragon was indiscriminate as to what its victims were. If they made the slightest mistake, their fates were going to be very similar to those of the dying war gods that laid scattered on the floor like discarded toys. Not far from them, the lurching form of the dragon seemed to be interested at something at the other end of the vast chamber and went after its target.

“There’s still some survivors!” reported one of the Eldjotnar from his position behind one of the nearby rocks. “Two gods! They seem to try to get Nidhogg’s attention, sir!”

“Poor sods... they’re done for. That’s far from the overhanging roots of Yggdrasil. There’s nowhere to hide and avoid its attacks,” said Surt, before he turned to Hild who joined them a moment ago.

“Well?” asked the ruler of Muspelheim, taking a look at the chaos in front of her.

The sudden explosion that followed the ear shattering explosion that shook the whole cavern, caused everyone to get ready to retreat, although, given the direction it came from, it was safe to assume that it wasn’t meant for them. “It must finished its job. They’re all dead.”

“No! Sir! Look over there!” said one of his sergeants, pointing towards a series of dark spikes that were stuck to the ground. “There are two bodies that haven’t disintegrated yet! They must be alive!”

Narrowing his eyes, Surt did confirm that his subordinate’s observation was indeed correct and yet, he was not happy at all, knowing all too well what was Hild was going to say in a situation like this.

“Good job, Naudiz,” said the ruler of Muspelheim, smiling at the red haired demoness. “Okay, go and get them, while we deal with it. Surt! Distract it while I prepare the sleeping spell.”

As Naudiz and her troops hurried towards the injured celestials, Surt stared back at his commander. “Distract it?! How?!”

“Go pull its tail or something!” barked the irate demoness, not wanting to hear his complaints at a moment like this. “Just keep it away from me until I’ve got the spell ready! And don’t you dare got yourself killed!”

“Yeah… yeah… Heard you,” replied Surt with a groan, heading towards the menacing form of Nidhogg. ‘Sure, what could possibly go wrong with that?’

Approaching the five meter tall avatar of the Infernal Dragon, Surt was rather intrigued why it hadn’t reacted to his presence. While the Eldjotunn wasn’t particularly willing to share the same fate with most celestials who died in this room, there was something profoundly wrong with the dragon who acted as if it didn’t even cared about him. As a matter of fact, this was far more intimidating that a violent reaction, since it was unexpected and the dark haired demon wasn’t sure how to proceed. ‘Now what? Should I agitate it? But… If it’s not active, then why not leave it alo-...’

Surt’s train of thought was interrupted when the dragon turned around, its glowing crimson eyes staring at him, while its gaping maw opened even wider. Behind a row of elongated, sharp teeth was the secondary face of the creature. Totally featureless and black, with another set of glowing eyes, it was a sight out of a nightmare, especially given its lipless mouth that was curved into a permanent grin, showing two extra rows of teeth.

“Oh hell…” Taking a few steps back, the demon tried to take a glance behind him, wanting to see how far he was from the overhanging Yggdrasil roots. However, the creature was apparently following him, its wings lowered and the four arms in a relaxed stance. Even stranger, it had its head in an angle, as if it was intrigued or curious about his visitor. ‘Why isn’t it attacking me? In the past it killed both celestials and demons indiscriminately without any care. Or did the death of those gods sate its need for destruction for the time being?’

Hild was also mystified about the rather surreal sight of the dragon being… happy to have company and she flinched when it turned to her, realizing that it was fully aware of her presence and possibly her attempt to complete the spell. Worse, it started to head towards her position, even though it was apparently walking in a seemingly casual manner, with Surt trying to keep up with it.

“Uh… Hello?” Craning her neck up, Hild blinked a few times, as the creature came to a stop next to her, its gaze still fixed on her. “I-I’m Hild…”

“What are you doing?! Get out of there!” said Surt, trying to get her attention. “There’s no point introducing yourself to Nidhogg!”

“Do you have any better ideas?” shot the ruler of Muspelheim back at her subordinate.

“Yes! Grab those gods and get the hell out of here, before it decides that we’re no longer interesting and attacks us!” Looking carefully at the dragon who passively stared back at him.

“Go get them then!” said Hild, trying to stay as still as possible, while the rest of the troops did the same, worrying that any sudden movement would trigger a violent reaction.

As a matter of fact, Ratatoskr’s operatives had already arrived moments ago and given the situation, they held their ground and waited the rest of the demonic forces to slowly withdraw. Their leader watched the whole spectacle with great concern and reached the side of her heavily reinforced Hazmat armor to contact Hild.

“This isn’t the best moment to have a chat, you know,” said the ruler of Muspelheim to her communicator, looking over her shoulder to the demoness who led the Ratatoskr agents.

“Believe me, I know that. Just stay still and get those gods out of there.” Pausing for a moment to observe the otherwise docile dragon, the demoness went on. “Don’t be fooled by it. This sort of thing happens from time to time, but, it only lasts for so long. Nobody understands why it does it, however, there are no guarantees as for how long it’s going to last.”

“I know that!” replied Hild, before she checked at the center of the room, where Naudiz and her troops were.

“What’s the status?” asked Surt, as soon as he got closer to the red haired sergeant, trying to hide his surprise to find that one of the two remaining gods was Odin himself.

“The Daitenkaicho is unconscious, but in a stable condition. The other one is…” started Naudiz with a frown. “He’s infected pretty badly and desperately needs medical attention, before he dies from energy overdose.”

“I can see that…” said Surt, looking at the spike that was stuck on the god’s shoulder. “Try to move him as carefully as possible, but, get him out of here. The rest of you, get the other one and go.”

“Yes sir!”

Walking slowly towards the cavern’s entrance, the demons watched carefully for any reaction from the dragon who was more than happy to stare back at them and yet remained inactive.

“Okay, it’s clear! Let’s blow this joint!” shouted Surt, motioning the demonic forces to fall back, before he turned to Hild. “Stop looking at that dumb thing and move it!”

“You don’t have to tell me twice!” replied Hild, taking several steps back and then simply turned around and started to fly away from Nidhogg’s territory and towards safe ground.

Left alone, the dragon’s avatar let out a low chuckle, almost as if it was amused by its visitors.

“Hild… Battle… Future mother of the past… Wings of Dark and Light… Is that what interests you, Terror Tree?... Why you faltered?... Appeased?... Intrigued?... That future… I too… Want to see…”

XXX

Niflheim, Hild’s private chambers, present day

‘It was a miracle how he managed to contain the infection inside his right eye where the spike had initially hit him. Most of the others died, including his two brothers, Vili and Ve. Only Hrym was able to survive and even then, he barely made it, the infection turning him halfway into a demon without any way to reverse the process.’

Of course, treating the wounded god took several months until he was relatively stable and then much to his horror he was told that returning back to his home was practically impossible. With his configuration changed to that of a demon, even if he was only halfway converted, it was very problematic to release him, knowing that he would have no place in Asgard. As a result, Hild took him back to her realm and offered the reluctant half demon a place to stay, providing that he would work for her, just like any other of her loyal subjects.

And unlike the official report that listed Hrym as the only survivor, the former Daitenkaicho simply vanished into obscurity. Since he was in a much better state, Hild took him immediately off Ratatoskr’s hands, fearing that the Daimakaicho would’ve loved to either seal or kill him, and then take credit for that monumental accomplishment. After all, Odin was one of the most famous celestial leaders, as well as the one with the longest term in the office and as a result, whoever took him down was going to be celebrated as a hero amongst her people.

Hild herself momentarily toyed with the idea of sealing him, in hopes of gaining enough support for the coup she had been preparing for a while, but, her personal life got in the way. Putting her lover’s father inside a prison’s containment cell was certainly going to ruin her chances to go any further with her relationship and for the sake of avoiding that, she respected Odin’s wish to remain hidden. It was uncertain whether he felt responsible for his brothers’ deaths, along with the rest of the war gods that accompanied them, or the leftover demonic energy that transformed his right eye to a dark, ghastly one, a permanent reminder of his failure. Either way, Hild never really tried to force an answer out of the elder god, even after her relationship with his son came to an end due to the verdict of the Judgement Gate.

Tapping her fingers on the table’s surface, she waited for the distillation of the potion to finish. The whole trip on the memory lane was a rather unpleasant experience for her, given that she was inevitably reminded about that accursed test and its aftermath.

‘Well… at least some things had gone right, especially the coup. Wish Surt hadn’t gone and massacred Fafnir’s entire guard, but, on the other hand… nobody really opposed us after that incident. And I really wanted to eventually reunite Odin with… him, only to end up in a very different situation. Now even I can’t meet him, let alone allow Tyr to see his supposedly deceased father. At the very least, Odin got to watch Urd grow up and that goofball really enjoyed being around her grandfather when she was a child.’

Turning the fire off, she retrieved the beaker that now contained the concentrated concoction that formed the basis for the enhanced painkiller she was preparing. With most of the work already done, the Daimakaicho decided to focus on the next matter that required her immediate attention; making the necessary arrangements for Hagall’s vacation. It wasn’t technically a problem to allow her to stay for a while in Midgard, however positioning her in the same vicinity of two other demonesses required some extra paperwork before the celestials started to complain about hidden agendas and quiet deployment of demonic forces in the mortal realm.

‘Okay, it’s almost done. Once I drop these enhanced pills to Odin, I can go and deal with that little issue and even help Hagall-chan with her preparations.’

XXX

Nekomi, Japan

“MO-RI-SA-TO!”

Interrupting what had previously been a tranquil morning at the Tariki Hongan temple, Tamiya Toraichi along with his best friend, Otaki Hikozaemon had arrived to deliver their executive orders as the directors of the Motor Club; along with a couple of cardboard boxes.

“We know you’re inside, so, no hiding!” added Otaki, only to realize that both their attempts to summon him had yielded absolutely no results. “Uh… are you sure he’s home Den-chan? We should’ve called before we got here.”

“Are you crazy? He would’ve run away if we did, using one excuse or another,” replied Tamiya, who was scratching his unshaven chin while thinking what to do. “Hm… Come to think of it, where are the girls that live with him?”

“Maybe they went shopping and took him to carry the stuff back?” suggested Otaki with a shrug. “After all, he’s the only one who’s got a driver’s license, since the others are foreigners.”

“Yeah, and he has a bike with a sidecar, too. This is a problem though… It’s going to be a pain to take all that stuff back with us,” said Tamiya, taking a look at the stack of boxes behind them that contained the various parts for their new dragster bike that they wanted to build.

“I know… Besides, we don’t want to break anything. Those sharp turns along the mountain road aren’t ideal for something that’s disassembled. Perhaps we could get them inside and leave a note?” said Otaki.

“Hey, that’s not a bad idea... Let me see if it’s locked or not,” said Tamiya as he reached for the front door and almost immediately a clicking sound was heard, making him pause for a moment. “Huh, did you hear that? Strange, I could’ve sworn that… Hey, it’s open!”

“Hear what?” asked Otaki with a confused expression. “Never mind that, Den-chan, let’s carry everything inside and leave as soon as possible. We still have to go and buy those lucky cat figurines we saw yesterday.”

“Oh! I almost forgot about that! And they’re on sale, too!” said Tamiya, rushing to the pile of boxes. “Come on, Dai-chan!”

“I’ve got it, Den-chan!”

Carrying all the parts in a hurry and probably without the necessary care, the two motorheads grinned at each other knowing that their job was almost done. Grabbing a piece of paper from the notepad next to the phone, Otaki wrote a message for Keiichi and left it on top of one of the boxes, before he and Tamiya left, closing the door behind them.

Not a minute after they were gone, one of the cardboard boxes on top of the stack started to visibly shake, almost as if a vicious demon struggled to free from its bounds. Moments later, the duct tape that kept the top of the box closed was ripped open and a dizzy, but otherwise unharmed black cat poked his head out of its temporary prison.

“Bloody fools!... I knew I should’ve found another way to infiltrate this place.”

Shaking his head, the feline cautiously peered around to make sure that the residence was truly empty. The whole reason he had infiltrated in such a manner was to avoid being detected by the immortals that lived here; especially the two demonesses.

‘If Urd or Mara found me, then I might end becoming a cat for real… However, this curse is really neat, nobody will notice me as long as they don’t get too close or scan me directly.’

Jumping to the wooden floor, the intruder paused for a moment to groom himself, only to realize that he was probably acting a bit too much like an actual cat.

‘What the Hell am I doing? Hm… Probably the curse was a bit more powerful than I was anticipating. Oh well, it’s not a huge problem right now. First things first, I need to… Huh? What was that?’

His acute sense of hearing suddenly alerted him that there was another entity inside the house, despite his earlier assumption. Approaching the far end of the main hall as stealthily as possible, the crouched cat peered over the corner only to come face to face with a puppy. Blinking for a moment, he could’ve sworn that the tiny canine was actually grinning as he wagged his tail. Worse, this wasn’t an ordinary mutt by the looks of it, since no earthly creatures reeked like their celestial counterparts that inhabited Asgard.

“Found you... feline infidel!” Grinning like the antagonist from a slasher horror film, the pup’s eyes light up with a blue light. “You thought you’d get away, didn’t you? Well… I hope you’ve really got nine lives, cause I’m gonna have too much fun ripping you to shreds!”

“Get lost, you stupid mutt! You think that you can pick a fight with a first class demon?” laughed the cat, as the white four pointed star on his forehead started to shine. “Eat this, sucker!”

An ear shattering explosion shook the entire house as a beam hit the canine and disintegrated most of the hallway, until it exited the building where its path of destruction continued to the nearby forest. Scratching his whiskers, the amused feline was certain that this must’ve gotten his adversary and was about to leave, now that he had used his powers.

‘That damned moron caused me to use my magic. Now I need to get out of here, before they come to check what happened. So much for the reconnaissance mission and all that trouble to… Huh? What the?...’

A pair of blue orbs could be seen through the thick smoke that started to clear, revealing an absolutely unharmed and rather happy pup. “That tickled! Do it again! I need a good laugh, mister first class demon…

“You’ve got to be kidding me! In that case, I’ll…” However, before he could finish his sentence, the puppy increased in size a couple of times. Standing taller than a truck, the now far more ferocious looking wolf was staring down his opponent with a grin that exposed his vicious teeth.

“In that case you’ll do what? Come on, little demon! Show me what you’re made of!” barked the canine in a voice that was so deep that sent shiver down the cat’s spine. “Or are you too afraid to face me in combat?”

“Uh… Before we do that, can you tell me your name?” asked the nervous feline, trying to take a few steps away from the looming creature.

“I’m the one called Fenrisulfr. Or Fenrir for short,” said the wolf with a proud smile. “I’d love to give you one of my business cards, but, I forgot them back at home. Hey! Where do you think you’re going, you stinking fur ball?”

“I just remembered something important!” Running away as fast as his feet could carry him, the transformed demon was desperately trying to put some distance between himself and one of Asgard’s superweapons created by one of their most infamous gods; Loki. And like his master, there was no telling what that crazy wolf would’ve done to him if he managed to catch him. ‘Of all things, why it had to be Fenrir? And I can’t even use my full powers while I’m stuck in this form. I must ditch him somewhere and break the curse or I’m a goner!’

“Come back! I’ll wrap you in bacon and have you for lunch!” roared the wolf as he destroyed most of the house in an effort to follow the fleeing cat.

“Bad idea! I’m not tasty!” Realizing that he’s never manage to outrun the behemoth chasing him, the panicked demon decided to call for his most trusted partner. “Gluhendes Herz!”

Materializing out of a portal that opened in the middle of the temple grounds, the fastest broom in Niflheim was ready to take its master out of there, just as they’ve planned if he was in desperate need for extraction.

Jumping on the sentient flying machine, the cat held for dear life as the two engines of Gluhendes Herz came online, accelerating both away from the jaws of the ferocious wolf. “Go! To the city! We need some cover until I break the curse!”

“Got it, Welsper! Hold on tight!”

Coming to a screeching stop, Fenrir snarled, knowing that chasing them would’ve problematic. Changing back to his former size, the now tiny wolf pup noticed the various pieces of the devastated house float towards the place where the residence once stood and slowly connect to each other. “Is that you, boss?”

Walking out of the shadows near the bell tower, a god with short dark hair and vibrant purple eyes smirked at the scene in front of him. “Well, who did you expect? Tyr? As if that would happen… Aside from throwing a thunder at unsuspecting mortals that make impolite remarks about his daughters, all he’d probably do is to possess someone.”

“Dunno, that’s exactly what you did to get those mortals shout those comments,” said the wolf while scratching his neck with his hind leg. “It’s like the kettle calling the pot black… Or it’s just something that runs in the family?”

“Oh please! I take offense at that! I’m far better than a total amateur like Tyr and Anzus, thank you very much!” objected the trickster god. “Besides, I needed to help my nieces make a good impression during that silly event. Or rather, especially because that was a contest, letting others think that they were super popular, their victory was assured. After all, it worked in the end, right?”

“It would’ve worked even if you hadn’t done anything,” countered the wolf.

“I know, but, where’s the fun in that?” asked the troublemaker. “Having both Tyr and Ansuz overreact was the event’s finest moment in my opinion. Well, aside from the girls’ choice of outfits during the cosplay part. They made me so proud!”

“You’re the only one of the gods who’d ever say something like that…” Shaking his head, the canine stared towards the city below. “Never mind that. What about our stalker boy? I still want to give him a piece of my mind, or teeth…you know… whatever comes first. It’s not like I’m too picky when it comes to such matters.”

“Unfortunately that’s inadvisable. I don’t want to risk getting us involved into something that might be used against us if any mortal happens to get in the way and breaks a nail or anything,” chuckling a bit at his own joke that left his creation rather unimpressed, Loki pulled his communicator and started typing something. “Not to mention that he’s not the ones I waited for… We need to bide our time until the really problematic ones decide to show up to crash the party. I don’t have time for small fries to the likes of that guy.”

“Then who are you texting to?” asked the confused Fenrir, tilting his head.

“Papa wolf, also known as Surt,” laughed Loki. “For someone who acts as if Urd is the most annoying brat in the whole world, he sure gets pissed whenever someone actually tries to mess around with her. And given that she’ll definitely get involved in anything that concerns Belldandy, it’s only a matter of time for the ruler of Muspelheim to get here along with his legions.”

“But… that’s going to possibly cause unimaginable damage,” gasped the wolf, his eyes widening. “Boss, you’re really… the greatest! I would’ve never thought of that!”

“Heh, I know, right? If this was a show, then I’d probably have my own theme song or something equally cheesy,” said the trickster with a wide grin, before he inspected the house behind them once again to make sure that everything was back the way it used to. “Okay, it’s time for us disappear before they figure out what happened here and send the Valkyries after us.”

“Sure thing, boss,” replied Fenrir, following Loki as the god opened a portal for them. “You know, it would’ve better if those goddesses didn’t chase you around every time they saw you. The pains of being popular with the ladies, I guess?”

“Not bad Fenrir, not bad at all. Seems like you’re learning after all.”

XXX

“I want one! They’re so cute!”

Letting out a sight, Keiichi glanced over at the young goddess who had her face plastered on the window of a pet shop, staring at the puppies that were wagging their tails at her. ‘I never thought that she had it in her...’

“Oneesama, can I have one?” asked the Norn of the future with an expression that was very similar to the one the little canines had as they desperately tried to get their attention. “Please!...

“Uh… Skuld, we can’t have a pet,” said Belldandy, frowning as she tried to avoid her younger sister’s pleading eyes. “It’s not certain how long we’re going to stay here and we can’t take a local life form with us back at Asgard. Therefore, it wouldn’t had been right to abandon the poor thing after we depart.”

“Aw… But…” Turning to the college student, the little goddess suddenly came up with plan B, since plan A was a big failure. “I know! Keiichi can take of it! That way we won’t have to worry about…”

“No way! I don’t want a dog,” said the dark haired mortal, feeling a bit bad as all the eyes of the group fell on him; especially Skuld’s.

“Why not, mister?” Narrowing her eyes at him made even her sisters to blink as they felt her flaring temper. “How can you be so cruel to some poor puppies? All they need is a home!”

“But I don’t have one! You need to remember that I’m technically Urd’s guest. It’s not my house, so, I’m not the one to decide whether or not we can have a dog,” said Keiichi, raising his hands in front of him to stop the little goddess from getting even angrier. “And having a pet can be a problem if I were to live somewhere else. A lot of landlords don’t permit tenants to have animals living with them as they’re a common cause of property damage and also cause a lot of noise in several cases.”

Expecting to be the next on the list, Mara simply shrugged at the goddess of the future. “Hey, we can get a hellhound if you want. They can be cute while young and they make fearsome guards when they get older…”

“You’re all stupid!” Huffing in annoyance, Skuld decided that enough was enough and needed to blow off some steam. Running away from the group, she headed towards the abandoned arcade she and her sister had first visited when they arrived on Earth, hoping that the peace and quiet would help her to calm down. ‘I don’t believe it! Even oneesama didn’t support me! I… all I wanted was a pet. Is it really too much to ask? And what’s with that Keiichi? Urd takes him in, and yet he refuses to adopt a poor puppy! Talk about an ungrateful guy!’

“Wait, Skuld!...” Watching her little sister run away from them, Belldandy was unsure what to do. She feared that in a situation like this, attempting to convince her would only make matters worse, but, leaving her on her own wasn’t really an option either. Looking around to make sure that no one was watching her, she formed a smaller version on her palm and then flung her towards the sky.

“Huh? What was that?” asked the startled Keiichi, witnessing something like that for the first time.

“A fraction of my body, actually. It’s something that we can do, Keiichi-san,” said Belldandy who was still upset about her sister’s outburst. “This allows us to be in multiple locations at the same time, and in this case, I wanted to send someone to look after her.”

“You’re worried too much. She got pissed, but, no one stays angry forever,” said Mara with a dismissive waive of her hand. “Give her some time and she’s going to be fine.”

“That’s what I want to believe. Still, I didn’t want to upset her like that… She just wanted to help one of those poor creatures and I…” started the Norn of the present, before she was interrupted by the blonde demoness.

“Stop right there! If you keep up with that kind of logic, she’s going to become a spoiled brat who always gets what she wants, not what she needs. I guess that’s what you goddesses think is the right thing to do, but, that doesn’t mean that it’s actually true.” Folding her arms in front of her, Mara stared at the startled goddess who most certainly wasn’t expecting such an answer from her. “Stop looking at me like that... If she ends up becoming a brat, it’s going to get on my nerves.”

Smiling a bit, Belldandy offered her sister’s companion a small bow. “Thank you for being so fond of my little sister.”

“Cut that out, I just hate brats…” grumbled the blonde demoness, not wanting to get into that sort of conversations.

Meanwhile, Keiichi had been rather quiet, since he wasn’t terribly proud of himself. He knew that he hadn’t handled the whole situation like he should’ve and as a result Skuld got upset. After all, she wasn’t that unreasonable, since he wanted a pet as a child; a wish that was granted by his parents who got him a dog that quickly became one of his fondest friends. ‘It sounds a bit hypocritical now that I think of it. Still, I paid the price of becoming too attached with Nihonmaru before he passed away. I know that it’s how life work and all that, but, it really didn’t help me back then and I doubt that it’s going to do anything for Skuld who… Wait a moment… Just how long do they actually live? With Belldandy and Skuld being goddesses, does that mean that that they’re immortals?’

That caused Keiichi to pause for a moment, considering the whole situation and realizing that not only the two celestials, but Urd and Mara were most likely ageless and that made him feel even worse. After all, his owns reasoning sounded even more hypocritical, since he was saved from being thrown on the streets by beings that would most certainly outlive him. Sure, the college student doubted that he’d have to spend the rest of his life with them, but, on the other hand he wondered how they dealt with the fact that they left those they met behind. And while it was possible that such a thing wasn’t much of a problem for the demonesses, for goddesses such Belldandy, it must’ve been tough. ‘Perhaps I should’ve thought more about it, before I opened my big mouth… I sounded like a total ignorant in front of them, and I bet that, Urd will certainly not let me live it down any time soon… Although... ’

Looking around them, the college student realized that they were one person short, excluding Skuld for obvious reasons. “Uh… What happened to Urd? She was with us a moment ago.”

“Oh, she forgot some potion brewing and went back to make sure that the house wasn’t on fire,” said Mara without any concern in her voice.

“But! That can set the forest in fire!” objected Belldandy. “We better... “

Interrupting her with a chuckle, the blonde demoness pointed towards the direction of the closest convenient store. “Please!... Urd can take care of such a simple task all by herself… And with your counterpart keeping an eye on the kid, we can just buy the things we originally came here for.”

“Right… Let’s go Keiichi-san,” said Belldandy, hoping that the situation with her sister would’ve been solved by the time they were done shopping.

XXX

‘Hm… They’re gone by the look of it.’

Stepping out of the shadows of the nearby trees, the half demoness carefully approached the house, dressed in her black and grey combat uniform of the Eldjotnar. Despite the modifications to the top of her fatigues that presented an impressive neckline, Urd was armed like any other warrior of the fiery realm; a battleaxe and a pair of combat knives that were strapped on her thighs for easy access. Holding the weapon in a defensive position, she was fairly confident that it hadn’t been her idea after all, this pace was heavily saturated by magic.

‘It’s rapidly decaying, but, something took place here. And we’ve got both demonic and celestial energies… Interesting, very interesting...’

Standing before the front porch of the temple residence, the half demoness bent down placing a gloved hand on the wooden surface. However, her effort to read the temporary memory of the structure was a failure when she realized that someone had encoded the information in hopes to conceal what took place here. ‘Not bad… It would’ve stumped most demons or gods, but… not me.’

Grinning, Urd changed the incantation from the generic one to something that would’ve worked only for her. “I am Urd, the Norn of the past and keeper of the Archives. Reveal to me what the mists of time had obscured, the secrets long forgotten, and the tales that were never written.”

Runes around her palm started to spread through the wooden planks, bathing the surrounding area in a golden light. Bypassing the normal programming API of both Asgard and Niflheim’s supercomputers, Urd gained access to the raw, unprocessed data that still existed in the area’s short term memory.

‘Welsper? What’s that little creep up to this time? After the last incident, I thought he finally gave up trying to woo Bell with his stupid attempts. I knew I should’ve never been so nice to him by resorting to empty threats. Perhaps I need to go and rough him a bit and see if that coward has the nerve to show his mug around us again.’

Chuckling at the idea of smashing his head through a wall, the half demoness was certain that it wouldn’t be serious enough to attract any unwanted attention to her. After all, he had no business to be in her territory, especially by infiltrating in such a manner; something that could be easily perceived as proof of hostile intentions and just enough to justify a violent response. ‘It’s been a while since my blades cut anything other than the flesh of Muspelheim’s wildlife.’

Her bloodthirsty glee was short lived, however, as the next part of the recording revealed the reason behind most of the leftover celestial energy. ‘Fenrir? Aw… Uncle Loki always tries to get all the glory for himself… And what was he thinking by using the dread wolf? That’s not a laughing matter even for him. Ugh!... I really don’t get him at times and… Wait a… The comments during the contest was his job?! I thought the humans were really smitten by… Okay, now he’s done it!’

Standing up, the half demoness turned towards the direction of Nekomi, considering her options. Her uncle wasn’t a priority, although it was slightly disconcerting how eager he was to resort to extreme measures, something that was slightly uncharacteristic for him. Sure, he was a well known troublemaker in Asgard, but, one of the reasons he got away with his actions most of the time was that he rarely did anything more than mere pranks. And while those haven’t helped him to gain any friends, they weren’t serious enough to call for some punishment.

This time however, the deployment of Fenrir in his battle form no less, was something very different and the half demoness wondered how long it would take her father to ask for some explanations. Worse, the advent of another demon could incite the celestials to send someone to check on them and that could mess up with her plans. The whole premise was to let Belldandy and Keiichi know each other and the last thing she needed was a bunch of gods or goddesses to poke their noses in their lives, trying to ‘help’ the ‘poor’ mortal.

‘Yeah… Help him, just like every other human who got close to a goddess; threaten to separate them with that stupid test, and magically neuter them for an extra measure. That simply won’t do… I need to get that idiot out of here before he becomes a problem… I really don’t want to do it… but there’s no other way.’

Summoning her combat communicator, Urd called the only ones who could find that demon for her; the Infernal Intelligence Sector, the agency tasked with monitoring all realms for any activity that interests her species. Of course, accessing them was a much harder task for any demon, although, she wasn’t just an average demoness. As the daughter of the Daimakaicho, Urd enjoyed some privileges and one of them was that she personally knew the leader of Jotunheim who also happened to be in charge of the Intelligence Sector, as well as the commander of the Jotnar, the demonic fighting divisions of the frozen realm.

“Hello? Yes, it’s me… I know that I’m supposed to be on vacations… I’m not a workaholic!... Look, I really need a big favor…”

XXX

“Ow!... That stupid mutt!...”

Trying to maintain his balance, Welsper remembered why he hated that particular curse; the dizziness it caused was nearly unbearable. Stumbling a bit, he nearly tripped over a power cable that were lying on the floor of the abandoned arcade he decided to use as a temporary hideout while hiding from the dread wolf.

“What a messed up place! It’s like a bomb went off inside or something…” Letting a sigh, the blonde demon rubbed his temples, trying to think his next move. Everything went wrong in more way than he could’ve possibly expect and he wondered if remaining in the mortal realm was even advisable at this point. He worried that once Urd learned that he decided to show up, she might try to realize her previous threat of… depriving him of his family jewels, to put it in a less crude way.

“What have I ever done to her?” Unaware that he had been talking aloud all for the last couple of minutes, Welsper was startled when his broom decided to answer to his question.

“Stalking one of sisters maybe?” suggested Gluhendes Herz. “You know… that lovely brunette you’ve been trying to ask out for… how long it’s been? Decades? Centuries? I may admire your determination, but, at this point most would’ve given up. For their own good, too.”

“I’m not a stalker! Belldandy never said that she doesn’t want to go out with me. Most of the time, she simply avoids the whole topic or pretends that she heard nothing!” insisted the blonde demon. “She never even acknowledged my attempts to impress her. Come on, after all this time I deserve a clear answer! What’s up with those reactions? I know that she’s not that naive!”

“I suppose you really don’t know how to take a hint then…” said the sarcastic broom. “Let me explain the situation in a nutshell. She doesn’t like you, her elder sister who also happens to be an Eldjotunn wants to castrate you if you get anywhere near her, the younger sister has similar goals but different methods, and don’t let me start with her mother… Missed anything? Oh, right! Her father sent Asgard’s One Winged Angel after us, one of her uncles wants to smite us with Mjolnir, and another just tried to feed you to the dreaded wolf.”

“You’ve just made my day.” Letting a tired sigh, Welsper plopped down to a chair and as much as he wanted to avoid it, he had to admit that his racing companion was absolutely right. Perhaps the lovely goddess had never taken him seriously or she didn’t wish to upset him by offering a blunt answer and he failed to take the hint, as his broom had aptly pointed out. Then his obstinacy made everything worse by attracting a lot of attention from her relatives who simply saw him as an opportunist who wanted to go to bed with one of the most popular goddesses of her generation.

“It’s better than making someone else’s day when they get their hands on you… or teeth.” Blunt as he was, the enchanted broom saw no reason to hold back anymore. It was exactly because he tried that approach in the past, that his friend kept trying again and again with one catastrophic result succeeding the other. It was merely a matter of time until the demon’s luck would ran out and he’d get into some serious trouble. “Just give up and move on with your life. Trust me on that, Welsper. It’s not worth fighting a losing battle, especially one you had no chance of winning in the first place.”

“That’s so unlike you, Gluhendes Herz. I thought that you were a lot more optimistic than this,” said the demon as he shot his friend an annoyed look. “We won races even when the odds were against us.”

“I won’t dispute that, since it’s an actual fact. However, races and relationships are clearly two very different things and just because you’re good at one of them doesn’t mean anything as far as the other is concerned,” said the enchanted broom. “Oh, and I’ll have to remind you that you’ve actually lost the race against her. One that you might have won if you hadn’t paid so much attention to her shapely posterior instead of the track...”

“Not you too! I did no such thing!” objected the embarrassed blonde, his cheeks flaring as he flailed his arms around. “That’s just a bunch of garbage the others used against me because I lost. And since most wanted to see that special event as a ‘gods versus demons’ contest instead of a challenge between two racers, they were really upset and started accusing me of such things. But, you of all people should’ve known better!”

“Indeed. Although, I had caught you checking on her… assets…” said the broom in a somewhat teasing manner, much to the blonde’s chagrin.

“Give me a break! It was for what?...a split second?... How did that even account into anything?” asked Welsper, still trying to deny those petty accusations.

“Hm… I don’t know… Maybe that tree branch you got on face had something to do with it?” countered the sarcastic broom. “We had lost a precious two seconds because of it, something that would’ve never happened if you paid more attention on your surroundings.”

Before the demon had the chance to offer a much more caustic reply to such an unfair criticism, the sound of footsteps could be heard, causing him and his racing companion to take cover behind one of the arcade booths that were lying around the dilapidated room.

Fearing the worst, they tried to remain as quiet as possible, given that it might’d been Fenrir still searching for him. Daring to take a peek around his hiding place, Welsper came face to face with quite possibly the last person he expected to find in a situation like this; Skuld.

“Oh... Uh… Hello there...”

“Welsper?! What are you doing here?!”

XXX

Asgard

Away from most of the celestial city’s busiest areas was a small, two storey shop. While immortals avoided to use any form of currency, that hadn’t prevented them to open businesses that relied on a much more direct form of compensation which typically included the exchange of finished goods with raw resources; and not necessarily the exact same ones used in the creation of said products. In several ways, it was a less convenient model and yet a much better one compared to the abstracted and highly volatile one that most mortal societies employed.

Given its inherent instability, both gods and demons avoided to use something that would become an obsession for most of their members, as well as another unpredictable parameter in the power struggle between their species. As such, money wasn’t an actual issue in the world of the immortals, although, business continued even without it.

Because of that, it was really strange for anyone to open a shop in the outskirts of the celestial capital, instead of the more central districts that attracted a lot more attention. However, for Loki none of that really mattered, since this was merely a pet project of his. The Head Technician of the Yggdrasil supercomputer had already a prestigious enough position and the shop was just a way to allow himself to make all sorts of artifacts; including several living ones as well.

Given his rather notorious reputation of being a trickster and annoying personality, one might’d expected that nobody would set foot in his business. Yet, no matter how much some of his fellow celestials wanted to boycott his products, it was hard to deny that he was really good at whatever he created which included Sleipnir, the eight legged horse he created for his adopted father, Stringfellow, the fastest broom in Asgard, and perhaps the most famous of them all; Fenrir, the dread wolf.

“Complains, more complains and guess what… a hateful letter.” Hitting the ‘delete’ button on his communicator, Loki had no intention to humor some of his stupid subordinates who hoped to get his position as soon as he made one critical error. Regin in particular who was the most likely successor thanks to his good relations with certain members of the Councils, although, that support wasn’t due to his skills, but, as a means to have someone willing to act as their puppet.

For Loki, if there was something that infuriated him above anything else, it was those boot lickers who sacrificed their dignity for the sake of getting a nice position. Of course, it went without saying that he had no intention to do them a favor and simply let them get what they wanted, at least not without putting up a fight.

“Hey boss…”

“How many times have I told you to call me father? Or Loki-sama?” asked the troublemaker god with an annoyed huff, only to watch the canine scratch his head with his right hind leg in defiance. “Fine… see if I care. Although… now that I think of it, you’ve been doing this a bit too frequently lately.”

Stopping as soon as he heard that last sentence, the wolf’s eyes widened, especially when he saw his creator open that infernal cabinet that contained the only thing in existence that made the mighty celestial super weapon tremble. “I don’t have fleas! I’m just messing around with you! It’s sarcasm, I tell you!”

“Now... now, Fenrir. Don’t try to lie to your poor father, you know that I’m worried about your wellbeing,” said Loki with a smile so wide that offered the wolf little comfort, especially as he watched his creator approach him while holding a small bag with the flea killing powder. “Just stand still for a moment.”

“Stay back!” barked the agitated canine. “I’ll bite you!”

Before the situation deteriorated any further, the chime of the front door announced the arrival of a potential client and in no time, Loki had smoothly transitioned from his mischievous persona to his businesslike one; at least until he noticed who his visitor was.

“Welcome to my humble shop! How may I… Uh…” Pausing in mid sentence, the troublemaker felt slightly concerned as he stared at the blue haired Valkyrie that stood in front of him. “Captain Lind! What a surprise!”

“Is it really? I thought that you should’ve seen that coming,” replied the warrior, crossing her arms in annoyance. “Especially after that stunt you pulled in Midgard.”

Raising an eyebrow, Loki tilted his head in confusion. “Which one? I sometimes lose track of them...”

“Playing coy will get you nowhere,” replied the white clad goddess, without any hint of emotion in her voice. It hadn’t been the first time she dealt with this problematic deity and if there was one thing, Lind learned about Loki, it was that amusing him was always a bad idea. “Now, you’ve been summoned by the Daitenkaicho and I’ve been instructed to bring you before him. Don’t make this any harder for you than it currently is.”

“Tell my brother that I don’t need any escort, I can get there on my own,” said Loki. “This rather obvious attempt to intimidate me is absolutely unnecessary. After all, I.. Hey! Let go of me!”

Holding the god by the back of his robes, Lind had decided that enough was enough and simply dragged him along, unwilling to hear to his excuses anymore. “I will. Once we’re in front of Tyr-sama’s office.”

Narrowing his eyes, the god of mischief knew that, Lind was a mighty adversary, one that he had to avoid agitating and yet, it was against his philosophy to simply comply to others’ commands. It just contradicted everything he stood for and inadvisable or not, Loki opened the bag that he still held on his hands. “Captain Lind... I emphatically suggest you unhand me and allow me to walk there on my own.”

“That’s not going to happen. I have no time for games,” said the stoic Valkyrie without pausing a second, continuing her march towards Ithavoll.

“Too bad, because I have both the time and the will to play some games…” chuckling a bit, the god reached and grabbed the back of the Valkyrie’s combat uniform, right on the spot where the diamond shaped cut was located and without any warning, he dropped the now open bag down her lower back.

The shocked warrior came to stop, trying to convince herself that this actually happened for real, considering that she would’ve never expected the troublemaker to have the nerve to pull such a silly prank and yet, he just did. Worse, whatever that stuff inside her uniform was, it burned her with an intensity of a raging inferno, and having no other option, Lind was forced to release him.

“OW! What in Asgard’s name did you put in my uniform?!”

The god was no longer there, though. In the split second that she let go of him, the surprisingly nimble troublemaker was already running away from her at an alarmingly fast rate. Trying to go after him proved to be an agonizing ordeal too, as it only took her three steps to cause the contents of the bad to spread inside her uniform, causing the Valkyrie to nearly jump from the burning sensation that had now spread throughout most of her lower back, as well as her legs like wildfire.

“LOKI! I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS! YOU HEAR ME?”

XXX

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I liked the connection between Hild and Urd. It's something I always thought they had.

Edit : Here's a slight gag for a later story arc. It was something I thought of while browsing Darwin Awards.

Feeling a bit annoyed that both Urd and Belldandy were seemingly succeeding at getting more deals with Keiichi, she decides to help out Keiichi as he's working on his beemer. But when she gets there, he's gone for the moment. So she decides to still help. However, she's too lazy to learn what the proper stuff to to to fix a beemer, so she enchant some duct tape.

But things backfire and Keiichi comes across a duct tape-bound Mara, struggling on the floor. The Beemer is untouched. Urd wanders in, sees Mara with Keiichi standing over her, and can't resist making a comment.

It's your call if Mara's hair was taped by the duct tape. I'd imagine she'd be in a really rotten mood if any part of her hair was touched by the tape.

EDIT 2 : Are the mini-ninjas going be be created earlier as a security measure?"

Edited by HotelKatz
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Thanks, Katz.

It's canon that, Urd admired her mother when she was younger, but, she kept trying to keep a distance from her. Since she never left her in this story, you're going to see a lot more similarities between them and unlike her canon counterpart, demon Urd has little reservations to hide that fact.

The idea also sounds really nice and I'll certainly use it at some point in the future.

Now, as a security measure I think that we might see a certain robot showing up sometime soon. After all, Banpei was originally created as a means to stop Mara and in this case, Welsper. The ninjas will however show up later, although not necessarily to guard the temple (they will work for Mara, though).

Also, the latest chapter is on FF: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11068984/7/Ah-The-lost-contract

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I've heard Tom and Jerry are kinda popular in Japan in a few places. That, Mara getting a teeny bit jealous of Skuld having a sidekick of sorts, and probably a few Ninja girl based anime that Mara might be watching could be responsible for the Mini-Ninjas' existence in your fic, instead of them being another scheme.

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