Title: Out Into The Storm
Author's Notes: This is my first ever fanfic. It's... old, and I had to dig it out from some forgotten box in a barely accessible cupboard that I'd stuffed it away in some time ago while I was moving. I read through it, and despite my spelling (Which is always bad) and some little bits and pieces where I must've been high on something or extremely tired when I wrote them, the fic is actually passable. So, I decided to type it out and slap it up so at least the fanfic section wont look so empty. ((Thanks to Hellie for typing out the first chapter and part of the second. Many thanks for your time, gurl! And for your patience in deciphering what I was trying to say.)) ((And also many thanks to Brys for the mega-holy super-duper double-whammy blessed transparent floppy disk that saved those little secret sentences that never made their way onto paper for me. I love that disk. *Sighs happily*)) so read it, judge it, but don't complain. I just wanted you to see what my first looked like.
Dedication: This fic goes out to all them fans who weren't too scared to just one day sit down and start writing. Don't give it up! You have magic at your fingertips and it's you who can control where it goes and what it creates. Stories are windows to other worlds, and when those windows are shut our habitat seems a much darker and dreary place. So don't give up, and just let the words flow from your fingers and capture us all.
And wont you godamned people out there just write something!!!!
:: Stares at Vegeta :: Okay, down pet. They'll write better if you stop threatening them.
Disclaimer: I don't own Dragonball/Z/GT, sadly enough. But writing fanfiction is the best way to make them temporarily mine. (Don't worry. They revert back to the way they were before when I'm finished with them.) I don't make any profit from my works, they are just here for public entertainment, not to be sold. (Goh - Hellcat's Disclaimers are always better than mine!) So please, don't sue me. I'm not even a poor university student. I'm a full-time bum with no money whassoever to mah name, so suing me would be pointless anyhow.
The day was bright and clear. From the deepening of the sky overhead to the lightening pale blue at the horizon. The birds sang, the creatures frolicked and played, the people laughed and did what ever they usually did on days like this, and it seemed as if all was peaceful.
And it was.
Every living thing, in its haste to forget the evil, had eradicated all memory of the threats that had once brought their existence into question not all that long ago. They wanted to forget that it had ever happened. There was, however, a select few that would never completely erase the days of fighting and death from their minds, no matter how hard they tried. Every second, minute and hour was etched clearly and deeply into their memories, and ever they strived to keep such things from happening again. And so they constantly endeavoured to better themselves, to improve their capabilities, and for some, to protect those in need.
Deep within a cave high up in mountains surrounded on all sides by dense forests, a lone warrior meditated. He was considered young for his race, the equivalent of an adolescent, but in some ways he was older than most others of his kind could ever comprehend. He sat in the lotus position, cross-legged, his arms folded across his chest, hovering in mid-air. A quiet, soft humming filled the cave, though the warrior made no verbal sound, and strange phosphorus lights of many hues swum in and out of existence around him, casting eerie shadows on the cave walls. His green-skinned face was free of the perspiration that would have dotted it performing this task a few years ago, his powers and his intricate managing of them had improved much since then. And they would be greatly needed in the year to come, for they would soon be facing the strongest foe yet. He sat relaxed, wearing only his blue training Gi, his fighting clothes. His weighted cloak and turban that he wore while training rested neatly upon a flat-topped stone in one corner of the cave. The humming grew louder so that it seemed the whole mountain was thrumming with it, and the strange lights began to flicker insanely as they coalesced together to form an image. The warrior, named 'another world' in his language, noticed the shifting of lights through his closed eye-lids, and opened them, focusing upon the image that was beginning to form.
Within the lights a young boy appeared. He looked about eight or nine years old, his dark hair a mess of spikes that shot out in all directions from his head, arrogantly defying gravity. His eyebrows were creased and his dark eyes narrowed as he scowled through the image at the warrior.
"What the...?" He started, unfolding his arms and moving a little closer to the image. "This image is of the future - so he canít see me." He pondered this, but was cut short of an answer when a bright light flashed behind the boy and a dark shadow loomed in his place, faceless and nameless. Then abruptly, the image faded, and the cave was once again left inhabited by only the warrior.
Piccolo scowled and unfolded his legs, placing them one at a time upon the stone floor. He walked out to the front of the cave, squinting as the light from the mid-morning sun blinded him. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath of fresh air and searched with his mind for the boy within the vision.
"Gohan." he whispered into the wind.
"Gohan!" A woman called out from within the dome that made up the kitchen part of the small house nestled at the base of Mt. Paozu.
"Come inside and have some breakfast!"
Forests surrounded the medium-sized home on all sides and it was amongst these timeless trees that the eight year old Gohan, son of Gokou, who was in turn the son of Bardock, played. At his motherís voice, Gohan stopped what he was doing and stood. "Alright!" he shouted back. Quickly, he bent down and picked up what he had found just moments before his mother called out to him.
It was a small orb - slightly bigger than a baseball and it glowed from within with a soft blue light. Strange symbols glowed a darker blue from deeper within the ball, but Gohan couldnít tell what they meant. Grasping the strange ball in his hand, he ran out from the trees, across the yard, and through the door into the kitchen where he sat down at the table and deposited his little treasure in front of his father who sat across from him.
Son Gokou paused with his food halfway to his mouth, which was no mean feat for the full-blooded Saiya-jin with an appetite as large as his excitement for fighting. "Whatís this?" He asked, putting down his food and picking up the blue ball.
"I donít know,Ē replied Gohan through a mouthful of his food (Having a father like Gokou does rub-off.) "It looks like a dragonball, except itís the wrong colour and there are no stars inside."
"Hmm, strange." commented Gokou, resuming eating after placing the ball back down in front of him. "Itís got a high concentration of energy." he said between mouthfuls.
"I know." answered Gohan. "I noticed it this morning when I got up. I knew it wasnít a person Ďcause it didnít feel right. But it makes me wonder why I havenít felt it before now."
"Yeah." agreed his dad. "I think Bulma needs to tale a look at this - maybe she can tell us what it is."
"Mmhm." Gohan agreed, nodding his head. "Right!" He watched merrily as his dad stuffed the rest of his breakfast into his mouth and then burped loudly.
"Oh! Excuse me!" he said politely. Then he turned his attention to his son. "Itís a day off from training today, Gohan. What do you want to do?"
His son shrugged. "Donít know." he answered.
"Youíll be studying, of course." cut in Chi Chi, his mother, who was sitting next to Gokou at the table. Imperiously, she stood, gathered up the dishes, and carried them over to the sink.
Gokou looked at his son, shrugged, and smiled lop-sided.
Gohan was about to say it didnít really matter when a voice intruded upon his thoughts.
/Gohan/ it said.
Gohan, instantly recognizing the voice, smiled. "Yes, Mr. Piccolo, sir?" he asked.
Gokou looked at his son strangely. "Are you all right, son?" he queried.
/Are you all right?/ Piccolo asked.
"Just fine." Gohan replied happily. "Are you okay?"
/Never been better./ Came the reply.
Gokou shrugged. "Well, yes. I guess Iím okay." he replied, confused.
"Not you, dad." Gohan said to him. "Mr. Piccolo."
"Oh!" Son Gokou said, suddenly understanding.
/Say ďhiĒ to your dad for me, kid./ Piccolo said.
"Piccolo says 'Hi!', dad." Gohan relayed.
/Gohan./ Piccoloís voice became more serious. /We have a problem./
"Well, what is it, Mr. Piccolo?" he asked, his dark eyebrows creased.
/I donít know yet, Gohan. But I know that it has something to do with you./
"Me?" he asked.
/Thatís right, kid./ Came Piccoloís thoughts. /I donít know what it is, yet, but I know that itís gonna take a lot to beat it./
"Oh, another problem! Thatís just great!" he said sarcastically, banging his small fist on the table.
Gokou and Chi Chi swapped worried glances.
/Gohan,/ Piccoloís voice chided gently. /Be careful. Keep your eyes open. And tell me if anything starts to happen, okay?/
Gohan nodded. "I will." Then he felt the gentle touch of Piccoloís mind withdraw from his own, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
"What was that about?" His father asked curiously.
Gohan shrugged. "Nothing much, dad." he said off-handily, not wishing to upset his mum by telling his father what Piccolo had said within her hearing. "Piccolo was just warning me to stay out of trouble. He feels that something bad might happen soon."
"Hope not." Mumbled Son Gokou.
"Well, if it does," cut in Chi Chi sharply. "You two are not getting involved. Youíve both scared so many years of life out of me - itís a wonder Iím not grey yet!"
Gohan laughed. "Youíve got a long way to go before that happens, mum."
"Well, thatís very nice, Gohan, but you know how I feel." She said to them, her back to the table. "No more running off to save one world or another, and I mean it! Itís too dangerous - you could both get hurt. Again." She shot a filthy, disapproving look at her husband, who in turn looked down at his empty bowl. She then whirled around to face Gohan. "Promise me you wonít rush off again!" She implored.
Gohan cowed his head. He heard his father protest.
"Címon Chi Chi!" Gokou pleaded.
"Promise me NOW!" demanded his wife.
"I promise." Said Gohan quietly.
Gokou stopped his pleading and looked astounded at his son. "Gohan?" he asked.
"Come on, dad." he said, looking up at him. "If it was mum going off to beat-up the bad guys and us staying here at home, how would we feel?"
Gokou blinked, then looked down at his feet. "Youíre right." he said. Then he smiled brightly. "Weíll just bring you with us!" he shouted merrily to his wife.
Gohan rested his head in his hands. Sometimes his dad could just be so dumb.
Flooding the Rubicon
The universe. Unaccountable numbers of stars upon stars, galaxies upon galaxies, nebulae upon nebulae. Spanning unfathomable distances, ever expanding, ever turning, ever growing. Life, Death, Rebirth, - here is where it all begins and ends. Where everything is decided, and where everything eventually ends up. Spinning along its fore-ordained course, reaching out its heavenly arms to encompass all within reach, and even things beyond, the stars appear like shattered glass, scattered through the heavens, glittering like firelight. It is dark. It is cold. And it is silent.
But not empty.
High above the green, blue and white planet, lurking in the darkness behind Chik-yuu where its one sunís light could not reach, a perfect sphere - like those that can only be created in Zero gravity - floated, stationary in its suspense. The ship itself was dark, barely visible, its occupants doing their best to conceal the ship and themselves from any eyes that happened to turn skyward throughout the lazy night hours.
Inside the largest of the ships four rooms, the three occupants also waited in darkness, the lights from the stars in the window the only suggestion that there was more than just darkness out in the cold expanse of space.
"Is this really necessary?" One of them asked again in a thick, nasal voice.
A disembodied sigh echoed around in the dark confines of the ship. "You already know the purpose of this mission, and the importance that we succeed."
"Listen." Growled the second voice. "If we donít do this, the kids not gonna transform, and everything we know of, including ourselves, will die. Got that?" The anger and impatience in the voice was barely concealed.
"Oh, man!" whinged the first voice. A moment passed, then another sigh echoed around the dark room. "I guess youíre right."
"You know he is." Cut in another, this one female. "This is very important, and we canít mess it up."
There was the sound of someone being strangled, then a spluttering. "Donít look at me like that!"
"Like what?" asked the female innocently.
The first male barked an arrogant laugh. "I might not be able to see you, but donít think I donít know what youíre doing!"
Someone mumbled something low in their throat.
"Hey!" exclaimed the first male. "What did you say?!"
"Nothing." growled the second shortly.
"You canít call me that anymore! In case you havenít been noticing, for the past, well, lotís of years Iíve HAD hair! Though I canít say the same for you."
"Now listen to me you -"
"Hey!" cried the woman. "Can you two cut it out. We have more important things to worry about than hair, okay?"
"Sheís one to talk." Mumbled the first guy. The other chuckled low in his throat.
"Ssshhhhh!" complained the woman, concentrating. A few seconds of silence passed and then a small LED began to flash on the device attached to her wrist. "Heís found it."
The second male growled a sigh. "Now letís hope I can help him through this. It rests just as much on my shoulders as it does his." There was no mistaking the seriousness in his voice.
"Do you think heís ready?" asked the first male.
The second sighed again. "Letís hope so." he said solemnly.
/Letís hope so./
"What?" Gohan asked, startled. "What was that?"
He looked around the space of his room, cluttered with study books and basically nothing else. It was quiet and empty. He concentrated. He could hear his mum and dad out in the kitchen, talking quietly. Gohan caught a snippet of their conversation, then, blushing slightly, quickly listened elsewhere. The birds were singing outside the window, the trees leaves were rustling slightly. Everything was normal.
But he couldíve sworn he heard something.
He concentrated harder, sensing further away from him.
/Ah, yes! Yamcha, Bulma and Vegeta are over there in Central West City, and I can feel Krillin east at Master Roshiís./
He could sense Piccolo down south somewhere, moving towards the west, and he could feel Tienshinhan and Chao-tzu a little to the north. Kami was...doing something strange at the top of Karinís tower to the east, and, somehow, Gohan could still feel that there was something different. Something out-of-place. Something that heíd missed, something.... Turning his attention back to the three high powers at Capsule Corp, he began searching for the problem. Something was definitely wrong, he could feel it, but he just couldnít put his finger on what it was. Then it occurred to him. Three? Three powers? But Bulma didnít.... but she did! He concentrated harder. Energy burst out around him as he inadvertently powered-up, melting the pen in his fingers and singeing the edges of the study books that were stacked around him. Images began to appear in his mind along with a clearer reading of the power levels.
There - that was Vegeta, the huge figure glowing with a phosphorus golden light, he was much bigger in ki form than in body, and Gohan marvelled at the size of him. /Almost as big as dad./ He thought to himself. Gohan could see shining figures walking throughout Capsule Corp. The walls of the Corporation building were insubstantial, the powers and the people visible through them. Vegeta was doing what seemed to be push-ups in an orb-shaped room. The air within the chamber was red and swum as if water. "That must be the gravity machine." he said to himself.
Ignoring Vegeta, he concentrated on the next figure. This one glowed a bright blue, and Gohan instantly recognized it as Yamcha. He also recognized the attack technique Yamcha was training with. Interested, Gohan watched as Yamcha split himself into three and proceeded to attack himself. Chuckling at how funny the thirty-one year olds ki form looked when blurred into three separate Yamchaísí, he turned away and focused all his attention on Bulma. She, too, was glowing, but not from all over like Vegeta and Yamcha. No, hers was radiating from out of her stomach in gentle pink waves.
Gohan creased his eyebrows and tilted his head to the side. /From her stomach?/
Then it suddenly dawned.
"Oh" he said, understanding. "Oh!" he repeated louder, his eyes widening. Then his face creased into a little evil grin and he began to chuckle, then laugh, then suddenly he burst out in a loud guffaw that sent him tumbling backwards over his chair and crashing into the floor.
At the sound of the crash, Gokou and Chi Chi rushed into the room.
"Gohan, are you alright, sweetie?" His mother asked, concern etched upon her face. She stopped as soon as she saw Gohan lying on the floor, engulfed in fits of laughter.
"Gohan?" asked a worried Gokou. He crouched down and put a hand on his sonís shoulder. Suddenly, images began to flash into his mind, and he saw what Gohan had seen. Standing up straight, he stared out into nothingness while an expression mirroring that of a freshly landed fish smoothed itself over his features. "Huh?" he asked dumbly. Then he made a sound as if he was choking, followed quickly by a gasp. And then he proceeded to laugh so loud and so hysterically that he sounded like someone with laryngitis falling off a cliff.
"Gokou?" Chi Chi asked, backing away from her husband and son.
Gokou just joined Gohan on the floor, legs splayed apart and laughing into his cupped hands. He made a farting sound with his lips and flapped his hand in the direction of where his wife was standing, confusion evident upon her face. Sniggering, he gasped and took a long, deep breath, then sighed merrily, a huge grin pasted on his face. He looked over at Gohan, who sent him a goofy smile, and started laughing again.
"Vegeta?" asked Gohan.
Gokou nodded. "Who else?"
Gohan was just about to open his mouth when his father clamped a hand over it, pulled his son in close, and gave him a noogie. "Donít answer that." he laughed. Gohan giggled and grabbed onto his fathers arm, struggling playfully. Suddenly he stopped wriggling and looked up into his fathers face, smiling, his dark eyes large. "Iím glad youíre home, dad." he said.
Gokou smiled down at his son. "Iím glad to be home too, son."
Gohan frowned slightly, quickly glancing over at the orb on his study desk, before he once again looked up at his father. "Dad?" he asked.
"Yes, son?" he queried, perplexed by Gohanís sudden seriousness.
"Can I, uh..." he broke off, looking towards Chi Chi. "talk to you about something?"
Gokou blinked. "Ah, sure, Gohan." He let go off his son and sat back. "What is it?"
Gohan shot another look towards his mother. "Itís, ah..." he cleared his throat. "About girls." He said meekly.
Gokou looked quickly at his wife, who finally got the message.
"Oh!" she said a little too loudly. "Iíve still got some laundry to do!" and she turned and rapidly left.
"Oh, okay." replied Gokou, a little uncomfortable. "What do you want to know?"
Gohan didnít reply. After a few seconds, he got up from his position on the floor and rushed to the door. He peered down the hall, and when satisfied that Chi Chi wasnít going to be returning anytime soon, crossed the room to stand before his father.
"What is it, Gohan?" Gokou asked after a few moments of silence.
The eight year old sat down. "Do you remember when Piccolo contacted me the other day and told me that something bad might happen soon?" Gokou nodded. "Well, he seems to think that itís going to happen to me."
Gokou sat quietly, digesting the information. "Does he know what?" he asked after a moment.
His son shook his head. "Nope. But he warned me to be careful, and that warrants our attention."
Gokou closed his eyes and focused his ki. Reaching out with his mind he searched the planet and the outer reaches of its gravity pull for any unusual powers. At one point he thought he picked up a twinge, but it was only for a moment and it was quickly gone. Gokou slowly pulled back into himself. "Well, I havenít been able to pick up anything." he told his worried son. "But thatís not saying much." He sighed. "The only thing we can really do is be alert and wait."
Gohan sighed and nodded.
"You were right not to say anything in front of your mother." Gokou told him, a hand on his sonís shoulder. "She would have gone loco."
Gohan laughed. "Yeah. The girl-thing was the only thing that I could think of that would get her to go away. Either that or burping contests!"
Gokou chuckled deep in his throat. "You wouldíve lost." he said confidently.
His son smiled, lifting one corner of his mouth in a Vegeta-like smirk. "Are you sure?" he asked cheekily.
Gokou grabbed him around the waist and turned him upside-down. "You wanna try me, squirt?" he enticed playfully. Gohan grabbed his father behind his knees and, using his dadís firm grip on his waist, pulled quickly upwards, dragging his body up and taking his dadís legs with him. He pushed himself up into a sitting position on his dad and grinned. "Howís that?" he asked.
Gokou lay spread-eagled on the floor, Gohan sitting triumphantly on his chest. "Gotcha!" his son chortled. Gokou stared up at him, still trying to figure out what had just happened. Then he laughed. "So you did." he conceded.
Then it happened.
A sudden prick of pain shot through his mind followed quickly by a sound of rushing wind that was barely audible. Abruptly alert, the quick pain all but forgotten, Gokou swiftly sat up, knocking Gohan onto the floor.
"Whatís up, dad?" he asked, bewildered. "What do you sense?"
Another shock of electricity, a small, quickly forgotten jab of pain, and then Gohan could detect it too. "What is it?" he asked, looking around his room as if trying to locate the direction of the source.
"I - I donít know." replied Gokou, the sound of the rushing wind becoming louder. Suddenly, he snapped his head around to stare out the window above Gohanís desk. He could feel it, but it was difficult to track. It was as if the ki was muffled, almost impossible to locate. /Ahhh, where is it?/ The wind was building, almost howling, and Gokou could feel the ki pulsing with increasing power.
"It - itís getting closer!" cried Gohan.
"No." Gokou corrected, his voice threaded with fear. "Itís getting stronger."
"Wha....?!" Gohan suddenly let out a terrifying cry and scrambled back across the floor, retreating from the window until his backward spider-crawl was halted by the impact with the bedroom wall.
"Gohan!" Gokou cried, reaching out to his terrified son who was pressed up against the wall looking for the entire world like Frieza had returned from Hell determined to extract revenge.
"Dad!" Gohan moaned, turning his stricken face towards his father. "It hurts! Oh, it HUUURTS!!" he screamed. He gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut. Gokou crawled rapidly to his sonís side. The sound of wind increased, it was now screaming, high, long, and deafening loud. Gokou held on to his sonís shoulders and could feel the rough tremors racking his small body.
"Gohan! GOHAN!" he shouted. "Look at me, son! LOOK AT ME!" He grabbed his sonís head in his hands and turned it towards him. Gokou heard a harsh sob beneath the screaming of the wind that had suddenly substantiated within the room, and Gohanís eyes snapped open. He was sweating heavily, large beads glistening on his forehead and temples. His eyes were large, the pupils dilated and he was panting, taking in quick, shallow lungfulls of air in rapid succession. "Where does it hurt, Gohan? Gohan! Tell daddy where it hurts!"
"Evíry - evírywhere." he stuttered, throwing his head back and groaning.
"Gohan!" Gokou called again, but his son didnít answer. Confused and frantic to stop his sonís pain, Gokou stood up and crouched protectively over his only child. "What do you want?!" he demanded, screaming into the wind. Papers and things were flying around the room, picked up by the hurricane winds that spun them maniacally in a maelstrom of childrenís belongings. A flying weighted training boot flew past, barely missing Gokouís head, and had he not crouched low over Gohanís pain-wracked body, he would have been impaled through the skull by his sonís sword.
The wind howled and screamed but did not answer.
"Tell me!" he screamed. About to loose his temper, he began to power up. One thousand. Five thousand. Ten thousand. Eighteen thousand. Thirty thousand. Forty thousand. Then abruptly, the howling stopped.
Gokou stood in front of his son, bafflement plain upon his honest face as the papers, clothes, toys, books, swords and what-ever else was flying dementedly about the room, dropped to the floor in a multitude of thumps.
There was, however, one thing that stayed aloft.
The blue orb with the strange symbols deep inside, hovered a meter above Gohanís desk, pulsating brightly with violet light. The ki emanating from the sphere was almost enough to bring Gokou disbelievingly to his knees.
Then their minds exploded.
Pain shot through his brain, white hot and red, and he screamed in pain. His eyes rolled back in his head as he collapsed to the floor beside his son.
Gohan, pain still wracking his body, shuddered once, and then sunk into the darkness, murmuring one word before lapsing into unconsciousness.
A breeze carried it away.
Chi Chi hummed happily to herself as she pegged another pair of white boxer shorts with pale blue hemming to the line out the back of the Sonís family home. She brushed back a strand of her glossy ebony hair that had come free of the clasp holding it back off of her face, and had fallen into her eyes, breathing a sigh of contentment. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the skies were clear and blue /And free from that annoying dragon of Gohanís./ Chi Chi thought, picking up the three-quarter filled washing basket to move it further down the line. A gentle wind began to blow, rustling the leaves of the trees in the forest around her, and carrying with it a soft, whispering murmur.
"Okassan...." It moaned into her ear.
Chi Chi screamed. The basket fell to the ground, the clothes spilling onto the grass to lie forgotten as Chi Chiís mind all but fled from her body.
To the east of the Sonís home, halfway across a particularly large ocean, and slap-bang in the middle of nowhere, was the Turtle House. Inhabited the Turtle Master Kamesennin Mutenroushi himself, (a.k.a - Master Roshi, or, That Dirty Old Bastard.), Kamesenninís turtle (Yes, the one with the power level of 0.001), the pig Oolong (Who turns up whether they want him there or not.), and quite often Krillin (If he has no better place to go).
The sun was just setting, the fiery red orb merely inches above the horizon. The clear sky glowed a multitude of colours, from violet in the east to burnished gold in the west. The ocean swum as if laced with scarlet rose petals, and the salty sea air slowly cooled in preparation for the quiet, warm summer night.
Suddenly, the oceanic silence was broken by the echoing blast of a bolt of ki that shot directly into the sky, turned around 180 degrees almost two hundred meters above the Kame House, and shot down towards the small island at unbelievable speeds.
"Haaaaa!" someone cried just as the bolt struck home and the island was engulfed in a giant flash of light. As the sand cleared and the ocean stopped churning, a lone figure was seen to be standing in the dead zone, knee deep in sand and coated with the golden stuff.
"Phew!" he sighed, adrenaline still coursing through his veins.
Suddenly, the door to the pink Kame House flew open and an old, bald, white-bearded, knobbly-kneed, and very red-faced man stormed out, dark sunglasses reflecting the light from the setting sun and a walking stick thrust high up in the air. The old guy was waving it frantically above his hairless head.
"Krillin!" the old man screamed. "What do you think you are doing, boy? That was too damned close - you nearly scared the pants off of Oolong!"
Krillin smiled sheepishly, shrugged, then lifted an arm and brushed the sand off of his head, exposing light golden hairless skin, marred only by six dice-style spots on his forehead. "Sorry, Master Roshi." he said apologetically. "I guess I...underestimated myself." He put his hand behind his head and shrugged again.
"Damn right you did!" Kamesennin swore, scratching his head while looking at the scorched pink building. "Itís gonna need a paint job."
Suddenly, they were struck by an abrupt sense of foreboding.
"G - Gokou?" Krillin asked, eyes wide and unstaring. "Gokouís power just went out! I - I canít feel him anymore! What happened?!" Krillin was almost frantic, reaching out with his ki, trying to find the energy signature that he somehow knew he wouldnít be able to find.
"Oh, no." murmured Kamesennin. "Gokouís isnít the only power thatís faded! Gohanís is gone as well!"
"Gohanís?" Krillin repeated, his mind ticking over what they and Bulma had shared on planet Namek. During their time there he grew quite fond of the little power pack. His blind innocence combined with his sweet and gentle nature portrayed him, in Krillinís mind, to be a boy with no evil within him, a child who followed his heart, and someone who made any cause worth fighting for. It just couldnít be. Not Gokou, not Gohan. He just didnít believe it.
"Iíve got to go." he said plainly, numbly.
Kamesennin nodded, understanding. "Oolong and I will follow in one of Bulmaís air cars."
Krillin bowed then braced himself. Gathering his ki, he channelled the energy through his legs and out his feet. The resulting outburst of energy thrust him up off the sand and high into the air, where he made a straight beeline for the Sonís house, dreading what awaited him there.
The world was falling down around her, she could feel it spinning. Her head felt heavy, her legs like lead, and her heart was threatening to jump right out of her chest. /Gokou? Gohan?/ Her skin tingled, alive to every sensation. She couldnít find them, where were they? She stumbled and fell, then got up and struggled on. She felt as if she were drowning, suffocating. The prospect of her life, alone, swallowing her whole.
She screamed again.
The sun had set almost half an hour ago in the Western Capital. It had started to rain just as it dipped below the horizon, and now the sky was alive and dancing with jagged streaks of lightening and ominous booms of thunder.
Yamcha was taking a shower in the dark. He preferred the light from the summer storms to the bright, aching artificial lighting in almost every home. He was just washing the last of the conditioner out of his hair, wishing he hadnít cut it, and humming the tune of a famous symphony, when the lights in the bathroom flickered on, then exploded in a shower of glass and sparks. "What the...?" he started, pushing open the steam clouded screen door and thrusting his wet head out. A sudden boom of thunder exploded overhead, rocking Capsule Corporation and Yamcha lost his balance on the slick base of the shower and fell out onto the floor. He quickly scrambled up, then howled as he cut his foot on a shard of broken glass. Hopping madly about, one arm clutching his foot and the other reaching outwards to steady himself against something, he eventually located the rim of the bathtub and sat down, his injured foot resting on the opposite knee, breathing a sigh of relief. Gathering a small amount of his ki, he created a tiny ball of bright blue light that gave off enough illumination to allow Yamcha to examine the wound, and remove the piece of splintered glass that had lodged behind the skin. Wrapping a fluffy white towel around his waist, he carefully manoeuvred around the broken glass to the bathroom door, reached for the handle, and turned it to find that he was unable to open the door. His body was frozen, attentive. He felt that something was missing, and the feeling was so strong as to feel that it was missing from himself. He concentrated. It was... Gokou!!? Yamcha groaned. It was Gokou. He leaned against the wall. He was missing. Gone where? He couldnít feel him any more. Him or...... his son?! Not Gohan, too! Breaking free of his disbelief, he yanked open the door, sped down the corridor, and slammed into Vegeta who was just leaving the gravity training chamber.
"Get out of my way." The Saiya-jin Prince growled.
Yamcha had no time for this. "You get out of mine." He said recklessly, his fear making him brave. His eyes were hard and narrowed. "My friends are in trouble, and I have no time to listen to your arrogant cockiness, Your Highness." He pushed Vegeta in the chest. "Now move out of my way." And he brushed past the astonished Saiya-jin Prince, breaking into a frantic run.
Vegeta looked after him, surprise plain upon his pointed face, then his dark eyebrows creased, meeting just above the bridge of his nose. He contemplated. /Could that strange feeling I received so strongly a few moments ago have affected Yamcha too?/ he asked himself mentally. He could still feel it too, something was definitely wrong. As the emergency lighting in the Corporation building kicked in, the Saiya-jin Prince decided that it would be wise to follow the human to wherever he was going in such a hurry. The emergency generators humming, Vegeta trailed after the frightened Yamcha.
It hurt, oh Kami it hurt. It was so much like a physical pain that she felt like vomiting. She was bleeding inside, she was sure of it. She had felt them ripped from her, and there was no mistaking that feeling, she had given birth to one of them, after all. The aching feeling grew more painful as she stumbled into the house. Almost flying through the kitchen, her foot caught on something and she crashed to the floor. /A chair, maybe./ she thought disconnectedly, picking herself up. She started forward again, then paused. /What was it again? Oh, yes. Gokou and Gohan./. Then it crashed down upon her all over again, and she continued to scream until she collapsed to the floor in a dead faint.
Bulma was just getting herself another mug of hot, steaming coffee when a wet and equally steaming Yamcha practically flew into the room, skidded on a patch of wet tile, and slid past her, knocking the cup out of her hands and sending it flying into a wall more than eight meters away, where it shattered splattering dark brown coffee over a three meter2 patch of white wall.
Yamcha ďWhoaaĒ-ed then grabbed onto the table with one hand to stop his uncontrollable slide, the other grasping the towel closed at his waist.
Bulma stared at the deeply tanned, wet, hairless chest, then up at Yamchaís dripping, worried face. "Yamcha, whatís wrong?" she asked.
Yamcha just looked at her and shook his head. Running a hand through his short, wet, dark hair he looked frantically around the room until he spied the phone on the wall that was marred by the dark stain of coffee. Running over to it, he lifted the receiver and put it to his ear, punching a multitude of numbers before stopping to impatiently wait.
It was then that Bulma noticed the blood on the floor. "Yamcha, youíre bleeding." She said.
"Itís not a big problem." he said quietly over his shoulder to her.
Who ever he was waiting for to pick up the phone obviously did not answer because a few seconds later he slammed the receiver down, swearing. Then a moment later he picked it up again, dialling in a whole new set of numbers. "Come on!" he moaned impatiently. "Krillin, pick up!" He was just about to slam the receiver down again when the ringing tone was interrupted by the click signalling that a connection had been established.
Bulma heard only one side of the conversation.
"Master Roshi?" asked Yamcha. "Is Krillin there?"
It seemed to Bulma that it took the Turtle Hermit a hell of a long time to explain where, exactly, the bald priest was.
The silence was suddenly broken by Yamchaís pained question, frightfully loud in the quiet kitchen. "Youíre sure?" he asked, his voice thick with emotion, his tone disbelieving.
The answer was apparently positive.
"Damn!" he swore, collapsing against the wall, the knuckles on the hand clutching the phone were bloodless, the bone showing through the skin. "N - no, you go ahead. Iíll be right there..." He said the last slowly, quietly.
Bulma had heard that tone before, and the numbness of shock that ran through it. Something was seriously wrong. Could something have happened to Krillin? The thought of what that something could be almost tore her heart. She moved forwards, resting her hand on Yamchaís naked shoulder.
He was slumped against the wall, his forehead turned towards its cold surface, but at her gentle touch he jerked upright.
She quickly removed her hand and took a startled step back. "What is it?" she asked. "Whatís wrong?"
He turned around slowly. "Gokou and Gohan." he said quietly, then laughed shortly in his throat. "Their ki signatures are missing, they were cut abruptly a few minutes ago." He stared past her at the wall.
Bulma raised a slender hand to her lips. "No." she whispered.
Yamcha laid a hand on her shoulder. "We donít know for sure. They could just be trying out new techniques that lower your power level." He said, attempting to reassure, but knowing full well that it was a feeble attempt and that no attack, however well developed or manipulated, could ever erase your ki signature completely. Unless you were...dead. Yamcha didnít want to think about that. His hand dropped to his side. "Iíve got to get to Gokouís. Krillin and Master Roshi are already on their way."
Bulma nodded. "Iíll be along soon." she told him.
Yamcha closed his eyes and nodded, then rushed off to get changed out of his loosely tied towel and into some jeans and a T-shirt.
Bulma collapsed in a chair at the table, allowing her head to fall forward onto its cold, hard surface.
"What is it?" growled a familiar voice.
Bulma looked up at the Saiya-jin Prince standing imperiously in the doorway, still managing to look intimidating despite his small stature, then put her head back down in her hands. /He wouldnít care. Gokouís his enemy. Heís the only reason heís still here./
"Well?" he prodded, stepping into the room.
Her head still in her hands; "Somethingís happened to Gokou and Gohan." she told him lamely, her voice muffled. She lifted her head to watch him.
"And?" he asked.
"And we donít know." Bulma shrugged. Then she groaned. "This is too hard." she mumbled, hiding her face in her hands. Then, suddenly, she was in his arms. She didnít know how it had happened. Maybe she went to him, or he to her, or they to each other. She didnít care. His embrace was warm and strong, and she snuggled into his neck, inhaling the scent of his skin, her hands grasping his shoulders as he breathed warm air onto the top of her head. His arms encircled her back and he pressed her against his chest, the sound of his pulse at the nape of his neck thrumming softly in her ear.
"Are they dead?" he asked.
Bulma drew back and looked up into his emotionless features. She saw a flicker of something in his eyes. He hid what he was feeling extremely well, but Bulma was beginning to figure him out. Bit by bit he was beginning to trust.
"No." she replied. "I mean - oh! I donít know! I donít even pretend to know!"
Yamcha chose this moment to enter the room. He had changed into a pair of shredded and faded blue jeans and a floppy Capsule Corporation T-shirt, which there were no shortages of. His hair was still wet and there were trails of water droplets snaking their way down his skin. He paused a moment to survey the room, then rushed past to the door that lead out into the foyer, yanking it open and letting in a sudden blast of hot, humid and electrically charged air. Lightening flashed and a few moments later was followed by a boom of thunder. Yamcha was about to step out into the storm when he was halted by a hand on his shoulder. He looked back to see Vegeta standing behind him.
"Iíll come with you." the Saiya-jin stated.
Yamcha nodded. Heíd sort this strange phenomenon out later, when things didnít seem to be collapsing around him.
Another flash of lightening and a louder boom of thunder resounded, and the two warriors suddenly became aware of another figure before them, framed by the doorway and silhouetted by the lightening raging behind him. The figure stepped into the light spilling from the doorway.
Yamcha stared, "Tien?"
The three-eyed Cyclops looked half-dead. Vegeta moved back a little to allow the soaking wet and distraught fighter room to enter the kitchen area of Bulmaís living quarters.
"You felt it too?" Yamcha asked.
Tien nodded, wiping streams of water off of his face. "Right before Chao-tzu disappeared."
Yamcha frowned. "What do you mean 'disappeared'?"
Tien shrugged, his face revealing his hopelessness. "One minute he was there, flying beside me, and the next he was gone."
Vegeta folded his arms, and Yamcha could tell that the short-tempered Saiya-jin was beginning to become impatient.
"Weíre on our way to Gokouís place." he told Tien.
Tien snapped his head up to look at Yamcha, his expression-filled eyes mirroring the shock he felt inside. "I -I thought it was Gokou, but I hoped it wasnít. It was Gohan too, wasnít it?" he asked.
Yamcha hung his head and nodded. "Yeah." he said lamely. "But we wont know for sure until we get there."
"Right!" Tien agreed, nodding.
Bulma watched with despair as three men she had come to care about, two old friends and one lover, left, slamming the door behind them, braving the storm to discover the darkness that had befallen their comrades, and their friends. She sighed, then stood. She needed to change out of her nightclothes quickly, and get to Chi Chiís. At a time like this sheíll be needing someone, and the least she could do was be there for her. She left the room, switching off the light instinctively as she closed the door behind her.
Outside, the storm raged.
She swam into consciousness slowly, as if waking from a very long, and very deep sleep. The first thing she became aware of were sounds. She heard someone calling her name from far away. The voice sounded familiar to her, she knew she had heard it before, but she couldnít be sure where. Then she remembered. /Oh yes, Gokouís friend. Krillin./ Then anger flared through her. What was Krillin doing there? She had told him not to come over anymore. He was a bad influence on Gohan. /And what is with him coming over unannounced, anyway?/ He said her name again, louder this time. /Enough, already./ she thought to herself. /Iím right over here, idiot./ Deciding that enough was enough and that it was high time that the runt priest shut-up, Chi Chi opened her eyes.
At first, everything was blurry, her vision entirely composed of light and dark splotches. Then gradually everything became clearer. She was on her back in the kitchen, apparently. The ceiling looked as if it needed a good clean and a thick coat of fresh white paint. Or maybe lemon. Sheíll have to get Gokou onto that, give him something other than training to do. Then as more things came into focus, she noticed Krillin leaning over her, and the concern on his features made her worry. /How did I get here? Wasnít I just doing the laundry?/ she asked herself, suddenly confused. /I was. And then...then...then what?/. She creased her eyebrows. She couldnít remember. She pushed herself up into a sitting position. Krillin, helping her keep her balance, assisted her in struggling to her feet. She swayed a little, but after a few moments could see clearly and the ringing in her ears had stopped.
"What happened, Krillin?" she asked.
"I was hoping youíd tell me, Chi Chi." he replied, walking beside her into the living room.
"Well," she started, thinking carefully. "I was hanging out the washing." Then she stopped. "And thatís about it." She concentrated harder. There was something missing - something she had forgotten. What was it?
Then she remembered.
"Oh, Kami." she breathed, her dark eyes wide.
Krillin moved in closer, hoping ferverently that she wouldnít faint again.
"I - I heard Gohan call to me. He sounded faint, as if he were - " she choked. "As if he were - Oh no!" she groaned. "Something happened! I know it!" Then she was off at a run, leaving Krillin standing indecisive for a moment before he jumped into action and raced after her.
"Chi Chi, wait!" he called to her, but she ignored him. Turning into an open door, he had to break suddenly so as not to slam into a frigid Chi Chi who had frozen in the doorway.
"Kami!" she breathed, her eyes brimming with tears, fingers pressed to her lips. "No!" she screamed. "Nooo!". Then she fell into the room.
Krillin came up behind, watching helplessly as the distraught woman collapsed to her knees beside the prone figure of her husband, and gathered her limp son onto her lap, clasping his head to her chest. She looked back over her shoulder at Krillin, her eyes pained and pale tears glistening on her cheeks. "Call the hospital, Krillin." she told him quietly.
He moved further into the room. "Are they...?" He couldnít finish.
"Alive." she replied. "Now call the hospital and let them know weíre coming. We have no time to wait for an ambulance."
Krillin nodded. Then rushed off.
Chi Chi felt numb. Her skin tingled, her limbs felt heavy, her ears blocked. And the tears wouldnít stop coming. She had to be strong for them, she had to remain in control, but it was so hard when she felt as though they had been torn from her soul. She felt empty, and alone. Gokou stirred on the floor and moaned, but Gohan remained heavy and limp in her arms.
The silence was thick. Chi Chi could hear the gentle murmuring of Krillin on the phone downstairs, so empty was the air. Glancing about the room, she suddenly noticed what a total mess it was, as if a hurricane had appeared inside, wreaked havoc, then disappeared. Then she picked up on another voice, three actually, talking to Krillin, then three pairs of thundering footsteps up the stairs and down the hall, and then suddenly Yamcha, Tien, and surprisingly Vegeta, burst into the room. Chi Chi looked despairingly up at them, not bothering to wipe the tears from her eyes, and Vegeta silently wished that he had someone to cry for him.
"Help." she said quietly, plaintively. "We have to get them to the hospital."
Vegeta grunted, then reached down and gently lifted Gohan from Chi Chiís arms. Chi Chi was about to snatch him back when she noticed how carefully the Saiya-jin was holding the child, and how he balanced her unconscious son just right so that his lolling head was resting on Vegetaís shoulder. He looked around at the other warriors, as if daring them to comment. When nothing was forth coming, he gestured towards Gokou, and Tien and Yamcha leapt into action; Yamcha helping Tien lift the huge, unconscious fighter into the triclopsí arms.
Krillin appeared in the doorway. "The hospitals been notified." he said. "Now letís get out of here."
Tien followed the shaven-haired priest, bearing his hefty burden with ease and gentleness while Yamcha trailed a step behind, comforting Chi Chi who was awash with a new flood of burning, silent tears, allowing her to lean on him. Vegeta brought up the rear, Gohan cradled in his arms, and was almost through the door when he thought he sensed something. Turning around to face the inside of the room, he scanned it and its contents. What he'd felt had been extremely weak, more of an echo of a ki signature than one itself. His eyebrows furrowed and the perpetual frown upon his lips, he glanced over the ran-sacked room once more before turning around once again and following the others out of the house.
They carefully loaded father and son into the Son family's air car, Krillin taking the drivers seat as Chi Chi was too distraught to drive safely, Yamcha remaining at her side, not willing to allow her to descend into despair, and with a flick of Krillin's wrist the jets started with a small explosion and the air car lifted off the ground. Vegeta and Tien flew alongside the vehicle as there was no room inside with Gokou and Gohan's bodies lain out along the back seats. Krillin drove quickly, silently, an unspoken urgency being transmitted through the air within the air car and without, where Tienshinhan was struggling to find the mind of his closest friend, and Vegeta was wracking his for answers to a flood of questions that posed a great deal of problems. Why? How? And most importantly, who? Who could possibly have been strong enough to defeat the strongest of them all, and his half-breed of a son who could possibly be even stronger, without marring them with even a scratch?
The contemplation of this unnerved him, and he concentrated on flying.
"What the hell just happened?" The woman demanded, turning away from the Earth-filled window to confront the two startled, and very confused men who stood behind her.
"Well... it worked." growled the tallest of them when he managed to find his voice. His face was cast in shadows, the stars providing the scarce light by which to see, but it was clear even when buried in darkness, that he was huge. Extremely tall, broad shouldered and long-legged, he was muscle-bound and well defined with a narrow waist and long, well muscled legs. He was a giant compared to the others in the room.
"Yeah," replied the woman sarcastically. "But you weren't meant to comatose them!"
The tall man growled. "That... wasn't supposed to happen." he grumbled. "Something went wrong."
"Damn right it did!" the woman yelled, her hands on her hips. The light from the stars outside the window behind her accentuated her slim waist and rounded hips.
"Screaming will not help." Spoke up the other man, this one half the size of the first. Though short, he was also well muscled with a slim waist, narrow hips and long legs.
The woman sent him a despairing look that was all but lost in the darkness of the ship. "No - it wont." she bit back. "But it sure as hell beats doing nothing!" Her voice rose characteristically higher until it was almost a screech.
The smaller man blanched and covered his ears with his hands. Shuddering, he hid behind the taller man who had also flinched at the painful rise in pitch of the young womanís voice.
"Peignoir." The large man warned.
The young woman sighed then turned back to the window. "So what are we going to do? If we go down we'll more than likely alter the time-line worse than what father did. But if we don't..."
The big man folded his arms and sighed. "We wait." he said quietly. "If things get too bad we'll have to go down, messed up time-line or not. There's no way I'm going to let the kid or Gokou die and risk the total destruction that would surely face our time-line."
"One question, though, guys." Said the shorter man. "What, exactly, went wrong?"
"Pen?" asked the taller one.
"I'll see what I can do." She replied. "But I don't know if it'll be much. I'll really need to see the ball to know for sure..."
"Just try." he told her, staring out into the porthole filled with the view of a darkened Earth. "The rest is up to the kid. Here's hoping he's up to it."