After several minutes terrorizing the workforce by meandering through the complex, she turned toward the office of a mid-level manager and strode through without breaking her stride as one of the two demons accompanying her stepped ahead to open the door. Inside, a small, pale-skinned, bat-winged, hairless male looked up from his computer terminal and Hild was impressed as his only reaction as he rose to his feet was a slight flinch.
“Mistress Hild, this is a surprise! What can I do for you?” he asked, then doubled over with a scream as Hild stepped up and planted a fist deep in his groin. She reached down and picked up the writhing demon by his throat and casually held him at arm’s length as she turned to look at her companion with the sword. “Trethgar, this will be your office until you get this mess is cleaned up. The usual rules for guilt and innocence apply, but be ... creative ... when it comes to the guilty. Enjoy yourself.”
Trethgar smiled broadly. “But of course, Mistress,” he replied, only to shrink when she frowned.
“Just don’t let your enthusiasm for your work lead you to draw it out, there will be other assignments waiting for you when this one is finished,” Hild warned, and he nodded hastily.
“Of course, Mistress!” he agreed, and Hild turned her attention back to demon now struggling in her grip and pounding ineffectually on her arm.
“As for you, Histval, did you really think your diversion of souls from their assigned destinations for your little group’s personal amusements wouldn’t be noticed? So, what will I do with you?” She stared into Histval’s eyes for several long minutes as he continued to struggle, then tightened her grip and twisted, and with a wet crack Histval’s neck snapped like a twig. Tossing the twitching body against a wall, Hild stepped back and crossed her arms across her chest and waited.
For several minutes nothing happened, then the translucent form of Histval’s soul slowly rose from his corpse, and the demon with the canister stepped forward, twisted open the top and pointed it at the figure. Histval’s form wavered like mist caught in a breeze and drifted toward the open canister, and he desperately tried to grab at the wall, the desk, the edge of the canister, but his hands simply passed through every surface and he was quickly sucked into the canister and out of sight. The demon holding the canister replaced the top and looked expectantly at his Mistress.
Hild stared thoughtfully into space for a long moment. “I think … we’ll start with some sensory deprivation, call it three months. Then … you’ve seen the report of what Histval’s little group did with their diverted souls?” The demon nodded, and Hild smiled. “Why don’t you get some friends together and show Histval what it’s like on the receiving end? Say, the same amount of time his victims suffered — consecutively.”
Now the demon’s nod turned eager. “Certainly, thank you, Mistress!” he gushed, and her smile turned into a laugh.
“Don’t thank me, you’ve earned it,” she said. “Now, back to headquarters.”
Hild’s secretary looked up with a smile as Hild strode into her office anteroom. “Welcome back, Mistress,” she said. “Did you enjoy your little excursion?”
“Of course, Angie,” Hild replied airily, smiling fondly as she walked toward the door to her inner sanctum, “no better way to end the day than seeing to it that someone gets what he so richly deserves. Anything come up while I was having my fun?”
“Actually, yes, one of the green-flagged files sent an alert.”
Hild’s fond smile vanished as her gaze snapped back to Angie. “Which file?” she asked.
“Ranma Saotome’s,” Angie replied, watching her mistress intently, and Hild carefully refused to flinch.
“I see,” she said thoughtfully. “So what happened to set off the flag?”
“He, or rather she, is dead — killed by two of her rivals. Rothgan’s already claimed her,” Angie informed her, and Hild nodded even as an Oh, shit! reverberated through the back of her mind.
“You’ve forwarded the updated file to my inbox?” At Angie’s nod Hild resumed striding toward her office. “Very well, I am not to be disturbed until further notice.”
Hild finished reading the updates to the file of one Xian Pu of the Joketsuzoku, keyed it for red-flagged status, then leaned back and for long minutes stared unseeing at the one-way window that looked out over her jagged and fiery domain. Finally, she rose to her feet and walked to the wall to the left of the window between two bookcases, traced a large oval with a fingernail, then stepped back and incanted lengthily in a language dead since before the world’s creation. For a long moment the air in her sanctum seemed to freeze, then the traced oval went midnight black and Hild stepped through it and vanished.
Kami-sama glanced up in mid-sentence as an alarm only he could notice sounded, then stood. Instantly the Valkyries nervously sitting beside him leaped to their feet, but he simply smiled beneficently and waved them toward the door that had appeared a few feet away, hanging in empty air. “I am afraid that something has come up,” he said. “Begin your assignments as discussed, and return tomorrow at this time.” The two nodded and knelt, then hurried to the door and were gone, the door soundlessly vanishing with them.
With their disappearance, the magnificent villa in whose courtyard they been sitting wavered and shrank to a simple cottage. Kami-sama shook his head ruefully, opened the front door, and stepped inside and walked to the drawing room to welcome his guest.
Hild looked up from filling a large tumbler from a bottle she’d just taken from the liquor cabinet, and Kami-sama gently shook his head as he walked over to her and took the bottle from her slightly shaking hand and finished pouring before filling a small glass for himself and returning the bottle to the cabinet. Turning to find Hild sitting on the couch and gulping her drink, he sighed and sat down next to her with an arm across her shoulders. “That bad?” he asked gently, and Hild shuddered.
“Ranma’s dead, and female,” she said curtly. “Xian Pu and Mu Tse got tired of waiting and decided to take matters into their own hands, and Ku Lon will undoubtedly ignore the implications in order to protect her heir. Rothgan will be enjoying his new prize right now, before hanging her up on his wall with the rest until the next time he gets the urge — which, knowing him, will be in a few hours.” Kami-sama winced and tightened his hug. “You hadn’t heard?” Hild asked, and he shook his head.
“No,” he said, “I’ve been discussing some Valkyrie observations of some outlying Islamist enclaves. I believe they have outlived their usefulness, and will make fine targets for your Furies.”
Hild nodded. “Good, more grist for my mill. I’ll enjoy seeing them show up, unlike —” She choked up, and Kami-sama took the mostly empty tumbler from her hand and set it on a side table, then pulled her onto his lap and into a close embrace as she broke down.
“I know,” he murmured. “But at least most of those that show up in your realm because of their parents’ bargains quickly figure out they really shouldn’t be there and move on.”
“But why do some of them have to be so stubborn about it?” she almost wailed, and he just shook his head.
“It’s that core of stubbornness that helps make them what they are,” he said, and Hild nodded jerkily against his shoulder.
“I know, and I suspect I’ll be getting a Fury out of it, once Ranma’s had some time to build up her hatred, but still …”
For a time they just sat, then finally Hild sat up with a sigh and got up from Kami-sama’s lap. “I’d better be getting back,” she said. “I’m supposed to be in my inner sanctum, and my secretary is getting suspicious — I’m going to have to put her back out in the field and get a new one fairly soon. But, can I come back tonight? Not for sex, not while Ranma’s … I’d just like to spend the night being held.”
“Of course, I shouldn’t have anything coming up that would interrupt us. And it will be good to have you back for a night, whatever the circumstances. I miss you, Frigg,” Kami-sama said with a gentle smile.
Hild smiled back at her husband. “And I you, Odin.” Then, her face losing all expression, she walked over to the nearest wall, called up the transportation circle, and was gone.
A/N: Yes, this one is going to be seriously Alternate Universe so far as Oh, My Goddess! is concerned, or possibly Secret History, with Kami-sama and Hild working together behind the scenes. And yes, there's a reason for that beyond just thinking it would be a cool idea. One thing I've noticed is especially common in fantasy and comic book universes is that their metaphysics is based on the Manichean heresy: that Light and Dark are at war with each other, with the outcome in doubt. Understandable, of course, it certainly ramps up the dramatic tension when the stakes are that high: I remember one scene in The Fionavar Tapestry, when King Arthur (yes,the King Arthur) asks if this is the last war, and the answer is, "It is if we lose." I'm sure any reader can name a handful of series with the same basis. But while I enjoy those stories, I find I don't care much for the underlying metaphysics. I much prefer one where the ultimate power is Good, and Evil is either an illusion or destined to fail — the dramatic tension doesn't come from the ultimate fate of the world, but rather the fate of the world here-and-now and of those individuals caught up in the struggle. So for this story, OMG! added to the mix but Hild and Kami-sama working in tandem behind the scenes, not even their closest subordinates being let in on the secret.