Oh My Goddess: Between Heaven and Earth
John O. Smith, (a.k.a Paladin)
(Author's note: It is well understood that the arc from where I work is still ongoing, and it indeed has ended in a cliffhanger. However, just know this is something that is interlaced with the actual arc, after the current battle, of which we know not yet the outcome. Yet, unless they plan to end the manga on this, (which I cannot foresee,) and decide either to separate Belldandy and Keiichi, or have them together forever, then however Hagal is finally defeated I will leave to the manga-ka of that work. If there is a sequel of my work, then it takes place after the whole arc is done, assuming that they are still together, and everything is as it should be. If not, it shall continue as an alternate universe. I am making every effort to stay with things properly, but understand there may be a few changes here and there so what I am doing could fit logically to things.)
From my very first encounter of this series, I was enraptured with the story and plot. I remember the first attempt at anime from this manga, which was a five part miniseries that stayed roughly with the main plot, and I was endeared to it from the start. I was also saddened to learn that that was all they had done with it at that time. I have no guess as to why. It makes me wonder if they must have thought they did not have a selling product. If that was the case, they should not have worried. Oh My Goddess has become an interesting phenomenon in this world of art and entertainment, in that, with movies and two separate television series, and a manga that is STILL being done 20 years after it came out, it has had longevity granted to only a few series in manga and anime. Moreover, it is even rarer to have a 20-year run and still going strong. Other series may have ended and still have a following to this day, keeping it in the limelight, but this one still has stories being written with no end in sight. This keeps it open for the kind of things that I am about to attempt here. I hope to honor such a great series. If anyone is familiar with my writing, then you know I usually interject an original character in my stories. Time has taught me how to keep such characters from dominating the cannon characters, and I will do so here despite where I plan to take the story. The reason why I do this, well, I don't know, possibly to interject a guide in the story to help me take it where it needs to go and feel more close to the work. Hey, new characters are introduced in these things in their cannons all the time, so my doing this should be nothing odd. Anyway, feedback is important to me, and if you like it, more shall come. If not, it goes away. Thus, I hope you like what I do, and with that, we shall now enter the world of Oh My Goddess, with a new character who will find that, in his life, he has always had his feet set between heaven and earth.
They stood in the heart of the Yogdrasil control center, staring at a holographic image of a teenage boy living in a seaport town on the east coast of the United States, going about his business, blissfully ignorant that a group of powerful beings was scrutinizing his every move and action. Both were female, and one stood in the shadows speaking while the other in her white uniform and long, white hair discussed the matter. "That is the one," said the obscured woman.
"I do say, milady," answered the other, a serious look on her face, "For a human, he is quite handsome and built…and very ordinary. I do not understand why the All-Father would even have an interest in him. He seems quite content."
"On the contrary," said the first, "His face does not reveal it, but he has seen more than his share of misfortune."
The second shook her head, saying, "If that is the case, how does he keep such a smile on his face?"
"There are several reasons for this," answered the first, "Every human has their own way of handling misfortune. For him, his mother has done all she could to teach him that they could always be worse than they are, and as such, he should always seek to help those less fortunate than he. Despite the troubles with self-esteem that he had as a child, he learned to overcome them, mainly when there were those that taught him that it is not that he thought himself inferior, but that he merely feared the great person that he was inside. Once he overcame that fear, not only was he an asset to all around, but many sought him for advice, for his wisdom is beyond his years. He has become a mighty warrior and great athlete."
"Yet, you say he has had misfortune."
"Indeed he has, for, he has never known his father, and he is an only child. His mother can barely keep enough food on the table, clothes on his back, and a roof over their heads. They have always had to change residence every couple of years or so due to the constant change of rent and fortune in paying it. Before he became as strong as he is, many had railed on him and teased him, and it scarred him some. However, despite all that, his mother has done all she could to allow him do pursue some of his loves, and he seems to find peace in that. He wants to become a psychiatrist, but there is not much his mother has been able to save for that, and he faces a life of mediocrity working at the shipbuilding plant within that town as many of his peers will do."
"Yet, that does not mean that he will not be happy, for even in that, he can find happiness."
"True, there is no sin in mediocrity if you can manage to leave something good of yourself behind from which others will gain. He could live his good life, help others, and wind up here with us in the end of it, for he has certainly shown he is worthy. However, he has still had much misfortune. Despite being the nice guy, there is the old saying of 'nice guys finish last'. In other words, his love life is nil, no one seeks him outside advice, and he is actually very lonely. Though he does not look like it, a strain of him says he could have so much more, though the desire does not stretch into greed. Yet, there is another reason for all of this that is well unseen. He has more of a connection to us than meets the eye. Lind, you are going to be a key to this."
She wheeled around and looked at her oddly, "I seriously don't understand what I can do. I am merely a Valkyrie, and that is not for what I was intended."
"Listen closely," came the answer, "And you shall learn why."
With that, the scene changed to an interesting encounter over 18 years previous.
As they watched, they saw the image of an incredibly beautiful woman who lived in that same town, and her encounter with a man who could only be described as the perfect image of a man a woman could have despite the eye patch. Lind looked in shock and said, "That isn't…"
"It is," interrupted the one in the shadows, "and I have always been aggravated by his wandering eye, though I can't say much for the encounters that I have had in time. In any case, as you know, when things like this happen, the result can be something magnificent if the right forces get to that one in time."
The lights were proverbially going on in Lind's mind as the word "avatar" came rolling off her tongue. She could not see it, but the other—Freya—smiled and said, "Many great heroes have come from our offspring with humans. As you also know, the Netherworld sees such as threats, and has done much to destroy them before they had a chance, which is another source for the misfortune that this one young man has faced. His fitness, caring and generous heart, and wisdom are all byproducts of you-know-who. He has been watching the young man, allowing for things, testing him to see if he was worthy, and he feels it is now time for him to get to know his father and 'other family' better. In essence, Lind, he is your brother!"
It was all now making sense to Lind, and she said, "Where do I come in?"
"Make a contract with him," answered Freya, "though it won't be in the normal fashion."
"How do you know he will wish correctly?"
"Like I said, this will not be normal. It will not be a wish, but an offer. When we get him to the right place, you, and a few others, will watch him, and then, if he is truly worthy, make the offer, and you are to train him."
"What about Brunhilde? Certainly, she would be more suited…"
"She has to mind the troops, and to where he is to go, well, you know who is there."
"You don't mean…"
"Yes, and considering that you have a rapport with them, they can aid you, and considering of whom I speak, I could think of no others better suited for the task!"
Lind smiled, beginning to warm to the idea, knowing that her duty as a goddess, first and foremost, was to bring happiness to those whose lives had been wrought unnecessarily with more misfortunes than for which anyone would care. She was a warrior, but this would be a nice change of pace.
Chapter 1: Necessity Is the Mother of Strange Bedfellows
"Japan?" said Ian, "Why would I go all the way to Japan?"
"Read it, honey," said Dorothy, his mother, "It's a free ride."
"Mom," he answered dryly, "This is a technical institute: what do they know about psych or philosophy?"
"Just read the letter," she insisted, "You'll see."
"Let's see…hmm. Dear Ian, Nekomi has always been looking to extend its advanced education program beyond its technical side, and has recently been granted liberty to expand its curriculum. The first one to be introduced is our psychology and philosophy departments, and we hope to expand on these as the years pass. We have reached all over the world to find the best people to be our first class in this area, and your grades and standing in your high school have given us inspiration to ask you to be amongst the first to be a part of our program. Because you shall be one of the pioneers in this class, you and your fellow students will be given a full four-year scholarship, which includes all your text. The only thing of which must tend to is your own dorm fees should you choose to live on campus, but there are plenty of opportunities for employment on campus to help take care of your expenses. We shall also tend to your travel needs and help to make you quite at home."
He looked up and said, "Mom, this is odd. I can't even speak Japanese, so, why would they do this?"
She smiled and held up a laptop that had some strange markings on it. It was certainly not the markings of any brand with which he was familiar, yet, he never saw a laptop that was better constructed. It even had a plasma screen on it, and accessories if he should be at a table and not want to use the built in keyboard, as well as the ability to plug into the wall if need be. His mother then said, "This was compliments of the school to help you on your way. It's in the letter."
Ian looked down at the letter and read, "The laptop is a gift from us to you in helping you start. If you have trouble with the language, it has programming on the level of the 'Oracle of Delphi' language program that will help you learn enough of the language to help you get by. Of course, that, with inundation, will aid you in gaining a proficiency in the language. Lectures will also be downloaded into the school's website, and that you can translate into whatever language you wish to help you with studies. Even if you care not to take advantage of this opportunity, we will allow you to keep this as a gift, and keep the offer open-ended should you care to change your mind. However, we do hope that you would take advantage of this offer. Should you care to, you can apply on-line, as the icons are already on the desktop screen for your ease of access. Further instructions shall follow about the start of class and schedules. Thank you for your time."
Ian looked at her and said, "This is real odd. Do colleges go this far?"
"Some do, especially if they are recruiting for a new program as this."
Ian still looked askance, and his mother said, "Baby, you know this may be the only way you can get out of this town. You are such a good kid, and you deserve far more than this. Do you really want to work at the shipyard? This may be your only chance."
What bugged him was how sudden this was, and in that, this was the first offer he had received from anyone. The worst part was that it seemed too good to be true. As he pondered, his mother said, "Look, I'm off to the coffee shop. When you are done thinking, why don't you join me and use the wi-fi there so we can check out the site. That way, you can know if it is legitimate."
He nodded as he pondered, and his mother kissed his forehead as she headed out, hoping he would take the offer, knowing that there was more to the offer than he knew.
She stepped out and descended the three flights of stairs from the apartment that sat on Front Street—the main drag in the city of Bath—once honored with an award as one of the great Main Streets in the United States. The sun was just setting on that July night, and it was just after their annual and famous Heritage Days during the Fourth of July, and things were settling down to a strong finish to the summer days that are so fleeting in the state of Maine. She emerged next to a shop that had once been a war games and role-playing games shop and a doctor's office prior to that, which sat next to a drug store that had been there for decades. She walked along the brick-laid sidewalks through the few people still wandering around in the setting sun as they rolled up the sidewalks early in the town. She soon came to the coffee shop that sat on the corner of Front and Center Streets that was the gathering place for the late teen and college age as well as coffee lovers in general, and stepped in to see her sitting on a couch in the corner near the coffee bar, sipping away at her beverage. The woman smiled to see Dorothy come in and approach her. Dorothy sat down, still looking a bit distraught at things. This woman—Lind—had approached her some months before out in the park at the waterfront, and considering from where she came, she was a little less than anxious to meet her. At that meeting, Dorothy snapped, "I can't believe after all these years he would have the gall to want to stick his head back into things!"
Lind looked at her oddly and said, "You DO know who 'he' is, right? I would not be so flippant…"
"I think I have every right!" Dorothy shot back, "He left me with a son and a poor situation in which to raise him! He had no father, no guide, and he has known nothing but struggle since he was born! Where was he when he needed a dad? Where was he when he needed guidance when he was getting bullied? I was so glad I was able to find that I had friends that could teach him Krav Maga and Systema free, or else he may never have been able to get along! Do you realize that he was always trying to help people as a little kid, and he got pushed around for it? I mean, you show anything that looks like weakness as a kid, and you are marked for life! Well, that was, at least, until he stomped those bullies for attacking a little girl when he was in the sixth grade. No one bugged him after that! I am just relieved he grew up as stable as he did, and fit as he did! Of course, I'm upset! He left me holding the bag!"
Lind sighed, knowing that the All-Father would let that go, considering, but then Lind said, "He did not do this to you without purpose, believe me. You must understand: that boy is as much family to me as you."
Dorothy cocked her head, not certain what that meant. However, being "family," as she claimed, this was a whale of a way to treat family. She then said, "Do you have any clue what kind of Hell my life has been as a single mother? Worse, do you know how hard it is for a boy with no dad, no father figure, and so on? I told you the problem, and he has worked hard to overcome it! If he really wanted to be a father, he should have been there for him, even if that meant concealing who he really was and from where he came. You tell me not to be flippant, and yet the supposed Almighty One could not even send him a birthday card?"
This was a common problem with all the women the All-Father had romanced, and this was always a hard sell. Yes, she did have every right to be upset. Lind finally said, "I am Lind—first class goddess, special duty, unlimited license. Your 'former lover' is also my father as well as his. In essence, he is my brother."
After a moment of tension, she then said, "That doesn't change what happened!"
Lind sighed and looked to the ground, now really understanding better just how hard a task this was going to be. She then said, "As I said before, nothing happens without a purpose, and do not think that he has been left completely alone. He has been watched for some time, because of power he possesses of which he has no clue."
Now Dorothy looked in both surprise and askance at that statement. Lind, seeing the confusion, said, "When things like this happen, the offspring has great potential to be a great hero and protector for many. He could become what is called an avatar. He is a demigod, in essence."
Now her eyes were wide, and rage was filling her. She then said, "Oh, and so all I am is an incubator, eh? He knocks me up without so much as a 'good-bye' to bring about some purpose, or even letting me in on things, and yet leave us to wallow in the mire. I don't care who you are or what you are. Stuff it up your nose and get lost!"
Dorothy turned and walked away. She knew this woman could cease her very existence if she wanted, and yet, somehow, she knew Lind would not dare! For Lind, however, the mission was not over. She would have to win over his mother somehow, and this may call for harsher means.
All that changed about a month prior. One day, while taking a walk through the neighborhoods on a summer night, he appeared. He stood there smiling with open arms, and she walked up and slapped him hard! Rage was not the word for it. She seethed through her teeth and said, "How…dare…you! You think that, now, because he has some use to you, you can just waltz back into my life and think you can have a part? Not on your life: leave me alone!"
She wheeled around on her heel, but before she could get far, he landed in front of her and said, "Dorothy, please, give me a chance…"
"I gave you a chance 18 years ago!" she thundered. Lights were now coming on in the houses and people were starting to stick their heads out of the doors, wondering what was going on. He then said, "We must talk, but not here."
In a flash, they were at Popham beach, standing on the sand, and she started to try to run. He had no choice and froze her in her tracks. "Dorothy," he said, "For the sake and sanity of your son, I the Almighty, beg of you, a mortal, that you listen to me."
Normally, such insolence by a human would have brought instant divine retribution, but because of how things had gone, he allowed grace and gave mercy, because she just did not understand. Still able to speak, she said, "What do you care about him? You haven't cared for 18 years. Why start now?"
Quietly, and with head down, he said, "Because I owe you far more than that."
She quieted and said, "Oh, you bet you do. How are you going to make up for 18 lost years?"
"First," he said, "Your son has to be made aware of his nature. Stop and think about it: have you ever wondered why he has such a great physique and physical fitness? Have you wondered why learning has become easier and easier for him, or why he seems to show wisdom beyond his years? Normally, things like this manifest themselves earlier, but I guess he is a late bloomer in supernatural regards. In any case, he is going to obtain some quite godlike abilities before long, and if he does not know why, he might go insane, or hurt someone unknowingly. It would cause chaos."
"Well," she said sarcastically, "That is something you should have thought about when you did what you did! If you knew that is what he would be, then why were you not with him?"
"I am the Almighty!" he said, surprised at this reaction, "Do you think I can just abandon everything? Have as much concern for everything else as well as you, and all must have my attention! There would come the day, but things have to happen in their right time! Now is the time! I cannot expect you to love me now, or even want me involved. Yet, I would ask that you, at least on this, trust me and hear me out."
She stared at him, and he released the hold on her, knowing she was now listening. He then said, "Usually, someone like him comes into the world to counteract some great evil, or at the least, maintain the balance whenever misfortune tries to upset peace and balance. This is why he is such a great physical specimen, but he could be so much more if he could tap into that power. This is not to say that making him this would be an instantaneous thing, in that, he had to prove himself worthy. After all he went through, and all you mentioned well that he had seen, you have to admit that he has come out the other end one great person. Indeed, I see him fit to step higher if he so chooses, and at the very least, he is an age where he is mature enough to handle the truth of his past and become close to that side of himself. I was not involved in your lives so that he could be forged correctly, and so he could prove himself worthy, which he has done. Sometimes, in order for the best to happen, it has to seem that I do not care, because that forces someone to look deep within themselves to find what it takes to overcome. However, when the time comes to reveal all, it will be in such a fashion where he can see the logic in all of it. I have sent Lind to help him get there if he so chooses. Believe me, after that, your son will have more involvement with his father than you could possibly imagine. It was needful for things to go like this, because you indeed have also proven yourself to be fit to be such a one's mother."
Now Dorothy did not know what to think. This did not change the fact that he had done what he did, and she was still somewhat angry at him, but she said, "What do you have in mind?"
"I have three of my daughters in a place far from old influences that can also help, and he would have a second chance at life. I will do all I can to make sure his transition is easy, and in time, I hope that he can find it in his heart to accept me into his heart. Even if you do not want to see me again, allow me this."
"After all this, I am still not sure if I trust you a whole lot, after how you treated us," she answered, "But, I will give you a chance: help him with what he is, and if you can show me that you can make things far better for him, I may forgive you. However, him liking you will be up to him. Do not expect him to accept you with open arms!"
"I would not," he answered, "I know that will have to be earned."
At this, he laid out the whole plan, and how it was that things were worked out that he could go to where there would be others of Lind's ilk to aid in the task. She was a bit surprised that it would be all the way in Japan, but he assured her much had been done in causing it to be that the institute there would expand beyond the technical aspects of things. He then said, "One of those who would help used to be a student with the goddess with whom he has a relationship, but now works at a successful motorcycle shop, and he seems happier this way. However, because he has a connection there, he can help him in, and then to meet the ones that can aid Lind in aiding him. I know this seems awkward, but because of the way things are, it has to be there."
Dorothy then said, "Then do this, because you have much to do to make this right!"
He nodded and took them back to her home, and told her that Lind would meet her later when Dorothy was ready.
A few days before, Lind met Dorothy in the same park and laid out the game plan. She then presented her with the things that her son would later read and see and she said, "Once you present this, let me know where to meet me now, and I will know when he has read it…I'll meet you there at that time."
Lind gave her a sympathetic look, and she said, "I know all this is hard, but please trust me…I only want to help."
Dorothy looked her in the eyes and a tear came down her cheek, saying, "I know you are only doing your job, so, getting mad at you will do no good. All I ask is that you take good care of him, and help him get that second chance."
Lind smiled and hugged her, saying, "This won't take away the past, but things can be better from this point on for both him and you."
Now it was that time, and Lind said, "What do you like? I'll get it for you."
She gave Lind her preference and she ordered it. When she came back with the order, she asked as she handed it to her and sat, "How did it go?"
"He was as skeptical about it as I thought he would be," she said, "You should know as well as I that he is very clever."
Lind smiled as Dorothy then added, "I think the way you had the laptop may have been overboard."
Lind raised her eyebrows and said with a bit of mock disappointment, "That's the best computer construction Heaven has to offer."
"That's what I thought," answered Dorothy, "Why did you do that?"
"Once he knows things, he can then connect to Yogdrasil and communicate with the other side of things."
"Once he knows things, how sure are you his brain won't turn to goo?"
Lind giggled at her candor, and said, "He'll be able to handle it."
Before long, he entered with the laptop, and he spotted his mother with the stranger. He went over and said, "Oh, hi…I don't believe we've met."
Lind stood with a gentle smile and shook his hand, saying, "My name is Lind, and I am here to help you get to Japan, and then get you settled in once you arrive…that is, if you care to take the offer."
Ian thought for a moment, and then he said, "Let's just look at the website."
He sat down and he was amazed at how quickly he connected. After he looked around a bit, (and then looked at some other sources to see if this was as he had seen, and once it checked out, he said, "Well, I guess it's all on the up-and-up. Well, it's a great chance, so, give me a few and I'll fill things in."
Lind grinned from ear to ear, knowing that the first hurdle was crossed, and she said, "Let me get you something while you work."
"Caramel Macchiato," he said, "Four shots."
"Whoa!" answered Lind, "You like it strong!"
"I love coffee," he said with a smile, and Lind went to get it, knowing that this may end up being a great task after all. It is not often you get the chance to train an avatar. She only hoped that she could get him hooked up with the Fates when he got there. Knowing Belldandy and his personality, she would absolutely embrace him, Urd may try to rape him, and Skuld would take him as a big brother. He would be in good hands.