4th rotation, 3rd Interval, 2nd Period of Cycle 17 Year 2,800,000,000
The next in line to testify was Skuld. She was clearly very nervous as she had never seen the Almighty in person. The little goddess' stomach was doing backflips. And she still hadn't completely recovered from the incredible amount of ice cream she devoured.
Kami-sama called her forward.
“Goddess Second Class Skuld, please step forward.”
She almost jumped out of her skin at the sound of Kami-sama's voice. She slowly made her way to the witness box, and looked around at the vast sea of goddesses as well as the eighteen councilors and the Almighty who would decide her big sister's fate.
Kami-sama's voice changed from the omnipotent voice of power that befitted the role of the Almighty to a quieter, comforting fatherly one. “Skuld, I sense that you are afraid of what's going on. You think that we're here to hurt your big sister, We are not. We're here to discuss what happened down on Earth and whether or not your sister should be held accountable for what she did. It may sound unpleasant, but it must be done. We will listen to every word of everyone's testimony and weigh them carefully before coming to a decision. You have nothing to be afraid of. Just say what you have to say. Everything will be all right.”
Kami-sama's words did little to quell Skuld's fears, but she pressed on.
“Well, Belldandy is simply the greatest goddess of them all. She's so kind and caring. She's helped me a lot since my powers started to work. She always gets me ice cream and appreciates my inventions. No one else on Earth appreciates my genius, but Belldandy does. But then she had to go down and live with that Keiichi.” She stared at Keiichi with unbridled loathing. “Keiichi took my big sister away from me and now she'll lose her license because of him!!!” She pointed at Keiichi as she said her last sentence.
“Why do you think that Keiichi is at fault for what was clearly an act of Belldandy's choosing, Skuld?” Kami-sama asked.
“Because she had to go and fall in love with him! Goddesses don't fall in love with humans. It's not right. He's so nice to her and he's always doing things to make her happy and I just hate him!!! I wish he'd just go away and leave us goddesses alone!” Skuld ranted, her voice and actions becoming more animated. She clearly forgot that it was the goddesses that entered and disrupted Keiichi's life and not the other way round.
“No offense Keiichi.” Skuld continued, softening her tone. “You're not completely useless. You don't complain too much when I borrow your stuff for my inventions. And you tolerate it when me and Urd are fighting over the television. By the way, thanks for giving me my own TV, but you gotta know that me and Urd just like to argue. And you do understand my love of creation, although you can't come close to my brilliance.
“You're not a bad guy, Keiichi, but I just wish you hadn't summoned Belldandy, and I wish you two hadn't fallen in love. She really does love you, you know. She's crazy about you. Although I don't know why. Am I done?”
Kami-sama said “If that is all you have to say then you are done. Please step down.”
Skuld stepped down from the witness box and walked back to the line, satisfied with her performance.
Keiichi nudged at Peorth, and said “Isn't it odd that the testimony so far is more focused on me than on Belldandy's conduct? I don't understand this. There's clearly an ulterior motive here.”
Peorth answered “Yes it is a little strange. Then again, it's pretty much an open and shut case. Belldandy clearly admitted to us that she defied the order. Urd corroborated the accusation. Why else do we have to go through all of this. The Almighty should have just passed sentence and been done with it. Let's just let it play out and see what happens. By the way, do you really think I'm as sexy as Urd?? I'm way hotter than her. Too bad you won't let me prove it! I'm up next, wish me luck.” Peorth looked hungrily at Keiichi and turned away.
“Goddess First Class Peorth, please step forward.” Kami-sama intoned. Peorth strode to the witness box brimming with confidence. Keiichi had to admit, she was a looker. He hoped that Belldandy didn't hear that.
“Peorth, how would you describe your relationship with Belldandy?” Kami-sama asked.
“Well, I would say that it's a bit complicated.” Peorth responded. “I don't hate her, but there are definitely some things about her that I don't like. We get along well. I've spent a lot of time with her and her sisters on the surface world. And I've had quite a good time in her presence, but I would say that we are, shall I say, friendly rivals. We work for competing agencies. We have different clienteles. And she's much too goody-goody for my tastes. But as a goddess, she's the best at what she does. I'll give her that. And she definitely has Keiichi wrapped around her little finger. I honestly don't know what's so great about him. Like Urd said, he's a bit plain and boring, and despite my best efforts, he wouldn't give into his desires when he summoned me. But he's a nice guy and they do fit together very well.”
“Does your opinion of Belldandy stem back to the “grudge” you harbored against her?”
“I wish you hadn't brought that up. Kami-sama. I still catch a lot of heat from the Earth Assistance Agency about that. I mistakenly thought that she was going to take credit for that debugging. But I found out from her that the bugs had found their way inside me and she was willing to mark it as a team effort between her and myself. And after checking the debug logs, I found she was telling the truth. But we're all good with that now. That is one thing about Belldandy that I did appreciate. She could have taken credit for that job, but didn't. She is truthful to a fault.”
Kami-sama asked “Is there anything else that you'd like to say at this time?”
“Only that I ask the council to take it easy on Belldandy. She is not the type to go off half-cocked about things. She clearly had her reasons for what she did. With any other human, she'd have come back to Heaven in a minute. But there's something about Keiichi that when he's in trouble, she'd go to the ends of the earth to find him.” She'll protect him at the expense of her own life. It's not the most goddess-like behavior, but then again, Belldandy is not your usual goddess.”
“Thank you Peorth. Please step down.”
She stepped back to her place in line, and gave another wink to Keiichi.
Keiichi was still pondering the direction the hearing was taking. “Well, so far everyone has given Belldandy a glowing testimony. I'm not sure if it's enough to get her off clean, but it looks like she should just get her license suspended for a while. At least she'd still be able to live with me. I just wish I knew why it seems like she's not the main focus of this hearing. I seem to be on trial more than she is. Well, nothing I can do for now.”
Kami-sama called the last of the goddesses to the witness box. “Goddess First Class Lind, please step forward.”
Lind proceeded to the box, and her face was totally unreadable. She betrayed no emotion or intent. No matter how hard Keiichi tried to read her thoughts or her visage, he got nothing. “That must be part of the Valkyrie training she goes through.” he figured. “Demons can't get the jump on her tactically if she doesn't give them anything to work with. She's a pretty serious goddess. I'm glad she's on Belldandy's side. She'd be a nightmare as an enemy.”
Kami-sama opened the questioning of Lind “Lind, what experience do you have with the goddess Belldandy?”
Lind, still showing no emotion, replied. “I don't have a lot of experience with Belldandy except for the Angel Eater attacks. I was with her when her angel, Holy Bell was taken from her. It was only after that attack, that I realized that somehow, I had carried the Angel Eater with me down to Earth. That was a lack of vigilance on my part for which I am still haunted to this day. I pride myself on my combat readiness. But it failed me that night.
“ Belldandy is a truly powerful and incorruptible goddess. She sees the beauty in all things, and she knows how to provide encouragement to those who get down on them selves. I should know. She didn't lose confidence in me when the transition spell broke. She knew that my magic was not strong enough to ensure success, but she still had faith when others doubted.” Lind turned to look at Urd and Peorth as she said her last sentence.
“She was able to convert the familiar implanted into her by Hild, into an angel, albeit one of demonic origin. Even under demonic influence, Belldandy never lost sight of the light. Through the love that she had for Keiichi, he was able to support one of my angels long enough to head off the Angel Eater and Skuld's Noble Scarlet was able to eventually rescue those who were captured. It was a total team effort and a total team victory. And it could not have happened without Keiichi and Belldandy. Both of them are formidable allies for Heaven. And I feel that the council should think twice before revoking Belldandy's license. She possesses remarkable courage and great power for a Non-Valkyrie. She would be a credit to the Combat Section, if she were inclined to join us. That is all.”
Kami-sama excused her from further testimony. Lind stepped away from the witness box and returned to the group.
Keiichi knew that his turn was coming up. His mind raced as to what he was going to say. All he could do was just testify to what Belldandy had done for him over the years. But, he wondered whether it would be enough to save her license. He didn't want to be one that swayed the councilors vote to suspension or worse, revocation. Like he told Belldandy, standing up for one's convictions was never easy. But if he truly loved his goddess, and wanted her to live with him forever, now was the time to act.
Kami-sama announced, “Our final witness, Keiichi Morisato.” Keiichi's legs felt like jelly as he strode to the witness box. He could feel the eye of every goddess on him. He even heard a few stray comments hoping he'd fail to convince the Council. But those comments only seemed to ignite his competitive nature. Keiichi lived for competition. He had an innate desire to win. Belldandy fed that desire. They were both intense and single minded when opposed in a race, and together they were a team that was damn near impossible to beat. Both of them had won more than a few awards for the Motor Club in competition, but this time the stakes were infinitely higher. He didn't know if he convince the council, but he remembered the words that Belldandy spoke to Lind to spark her confidence. 'It's better to try and fail, than not to try at all'
Kami-sama spoke to Keiichi in an encouraging tone. “Keiichi Morisato, I know that this is something that you're not totally prepared for. You have been through a lot the past few days, and I would understand if you'd prefer to withdraw from testifying, but any light you can cast on the matter would be appreciated.”
Keiichi gathered up his courage and put it before him. “Kami-sama, no disrespect intended, but can you please just call me Keiichi? I've never been comfortable being referred to by both first and last names.” Kami-sama, a note of surprise in his voice, said “Keiichi it is, please continue.”