The earth groaned as its body was torn open.
Trunks grabbed onto the closest thing to him to keep his balance. It was hard but malleable, and he looked over to find himself clutching the arm of his best friend, Goten.
Goten shot him a tooth-filled grin that quickly turned into a grimace as another shudder shook the tortured Chik-yuu and Trunks' fingers uncontrollably clenched around Goten’s bicep.
The sky had been dark for so long that Trunks had trouble remembering exactly what the stars looked like. He had been sixteen when they had first come, undetectable to their senses, skulking in and out of their dreams. The skies had begun to darken almost instantly, but no one had noticed - no one except Gohan, that was. And he had been permanently silenced not soon after trying to contact the group of warriors to warn them. Gokou had found his powerless body in his room, no sign of disturbance, and no sign of a struggle, just Gohan. Gokou had almost lost it at that point, Trunks remembered. The screaming had been terrible. He had burst into Super Saiya-jin four, intending to go out and mutilate someone - it had taken all of them to subdue him. Videl and Chi Chi had taken it even harder. At least Gokou had let it out; Videl just chose to ignore it, pretending that nothing had happened. But Chi Chi, she shut herself off from the world entirely. There was nothing Gokou or Goten could do to pull her out of it. They had lost more than just a son and brother that day.
Then the bastards finally showed themselves and the fight began. There weren’t many of them, only three in fact. But they were so unbelievably strong. They just seemed to absorb everything they threw at them, making themselves stronger at every one of their strikes. They were indestructible.
Or so they thought.
It was his father that had figured it out. He noticed a pattern to their attacks, something no one would have picked out if Tien hadn’t used Taiyoken against the largest of them in an attempt to wrench Goten free from it’s unyielding grip. The pattern was long and rotating, but once recognized was simple to follow.
The largest of them usually attacked first. He was roughly the size of Piccolo, earth-bound and hard as rock, and almost untouchable. He headed the pattern, performing the heavy, ground-shattering moves that made it impossible to fight on their feet. Then the other two followed with their own attacks, usually starting with water-based techniques followed quickly by air. One of them had a technique that convulsed the air around them, making fighting in the air impossible as well. Their terrain kept changing, putting them at distinct disadvantages. The key to the pattern, Vegeta noted, was that they were all elemental, and the weakness was that there was no fire. Tien’s Taiyoken, with it’s blinding flash of white-hot light, supplied the necessary energy to permanently crack the earth giant. With the leader crumbled, the other two aliens were easily defeated, using attacks that consisted of mainly heat.
The battle was won, Chik-yuu was saved, and the heroes once again returned to their relatively non-productive lives.
And it would’ve been okay if they hadn’t come back.
But they had.
Twenty years later the sky had begun to darken. At first it had appeared as if it was a very large storm. It moved slowly, gathering strength gradually, quietly creeping up on them until it was too late. By the time they had realized what had happened, the thick cloud had already encompassed the whole of the planet.
The earth shuddered again violently, and Trunks and Goten were thrown to their knees. They had been performing these routine scouting missions for over a month now, trying desperately to remain undetected, and still no clue to a weakness had been forthcoming. These new elementals were not like the others. Chik-yuu’s inhabitants were pretty much stuffed.
Most of Chik-yuu’s remaining population had begun to flee underground, seeking safety within their planet’s twisting bowels, but with the storm beginning to slowly tear their world apart, it was not all that much safer than above ground.
They couldn’t flee the planet; all ships were destroyed before they could even reach the lower layer of clouds. It was only a miracle that enabled the Saiya-jin I to breach their thick covering, a very costly miracle, and even now they couldn’t be sure that they had made it through to the outer atmosphere, let alone into space where they could successfully go back in time and fetch the one thing that they needed so desperately.
Three of them had died protecting the ship, their minds utterly destroyed by the pressure from the attacking elementals they had to withstand to keep the shield erected around the craft for the few seconds it was airborne for. The Emperor Chao-tzu had held on the longest, tears staining his cheeks as he strained to keep those within the ship protected. The Saiya-jin I had just disappeared into the clouds when his mind had popped and he had fallen to the ground, joining Bra and her husband Kiterran in their brave and heroic deaths. Dende was the only one of the shielders to survive, though the price he paid was high. Afterwards he was a shuddering wreck, unable to speak, unable to even recognize anyone after he had regained consciousness - he was bordering on being a vegetable. He was slowly recovering, but he would be scarred for life, and would never be able to reach the same level of mental power again.
As he and Goten crouched low to the ground to escape the raging wind and stinging rain, Trunks wished fervently that Piccolo, Krillin and Peignoir had made it. They had just finished burying the bodies, not that they were likely to stay that way for very long with all of Chik-yuu’s violent heaving working against them, and he and Goten had remained behind to scout the area just in case anything happened. Nothing ever did, but still...
“Damn this!” swore Goten suddenly.
Trunks looked over at his best friend, noticing abruptly the worry lines etched into his still youthful appearing face. /Shouldn’t be surprised./ He told himself. /We’re getting old./ He forced a smile and rested a hand on Goten’s shoulder. “It’ll all work out, don’t you worry.” He told him, and then abruptly ducked lower behind a rock as something flew just overhead and crashed a little way behind them.
Goten knew he was just saying that, but he said nothing about it.
“Let’s go home.” He said instead.
Trunks just nodded. Home was the best place to be right now.
If ‘home’ was what you could call it.
There was no way to tell the difference between being asleep and being awake. In this dark and empty place where the senses didn’t work, nothing was certain. He drifted in and out of memories and dreams, and something told him that that someone else was still beside him, drifting through dreams and memories alongside. He finally summoned up enough will power to call out.
The sound was unlike anything he’d ever heard.
It was full, stereophonic, bouncing around in the vast emptiness like a demented rubber ball - a blazon proclamation like an omnipotent voice shouting down from the heavens, booming solidly in his unused ears. He almost flinched. The sound his question created not only pulsed within the air; if that was air that he was breathing - if he was breathing at all. It also created ripples in the infinite depths of the darkness that he floated within, like a skipping stone skimming the surface of the fathomless ocean. He bobbed gently in the echoing blackness, awaiting an answer.
Finally, a tentative voice called out.
“Is - is that you, Gohan?”
He expelled a heavy breath - he still had qualms about that air.
“Chao-tzu?” He asked, reaching out with his hand into the murky depths.
“Yeah.” He laughed.
Gohan’s hand brushed against something soft and warm, and he felt his hand grabbed in response. He pulled the owner in towards him, the substance (He refused to call it air) around him warm from his radiating body heat. They clasped onto each other, pressing their bodies close, needing reassurance that they were no longer alone.
“Where are we?” Chao-tzu asked, ripples whispering against Gohan’s cheek.
“I don’t know.” Replied Gohan. “Are - are we dead?”
Chao-tzu laughed. “No. You’d know if you were dead. First, you’d meet this huge hairy deity called King Yamah - He’s the Enmadaiou-samma - and he’d check his book and then tell you where you’d have to go judging on what you’ve done with your life. He just sent me, Tien, Yamcha and Piccolo on to Kaiou-samma’s planet, so I never got to know where I’d go.”
Chao-tzu heard Gohan giggle and the ripples spread out again, rocking them on its dark ocean. “You’d have gone to Heaven.” He said positively.
Gohan heard Chao-tzu hesitate. “I don’t know, Gohan. Both Tien and me were trained to be assassins. We had to kill people.” He sighed. “Even if we tried for the rest of our lives to eradicate that little section of our past, I don’t know if it would ever be enough.”
Gohan felt like crying at the sound of hopelessness in his older friend’s voice. He started to say something, but was cut short by the swimming ripples.
“Though,” continued Chao-tzu. “As long as Tien and I are together, I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
Gohan remained silent. He began to feel himself drifting off again, falling deeper and deeper into his dreams, or was it reality? He couldn’t tell, and he was not really sure if he even cared anymore. He vaguely felt Chao-tzu clutch at his shoulders and heard him call his name. But it faded quickly and he was swallowed whole, leaving Chao-tzu alone in the abysmal dark.
“Gohan?” he asked quietly.
There was no response.
This was strange.
He didn’t remember this happening. Odd. So far, everything he had experienced while he was floating in whatever-it-was, was from his memory. Images, thoughts, feelings, all of them were things that he had experienced before.
But this was new, this was different. He had never seen any of this before. It was white and shockingly bright, figures loomed at the edge of his vision, hauntingly familiar and yet total strangers. He still felt as though he was floating, but now it was overlain with the feeling of confinement, of being encased within something. He felt trapped.
Someone started speaking to him. A woman. Her voice was soft and sweet and Gohan felt himself being drawn into its warm and comforting tones. But underlying that storybook voice were the drifts of sadness and loss. Gohan felt an overwhelming urge to reach out with his hand and touch her, but he refrained from doing so, besides, at this point he doubted if he could even lift his arm. Right now he couldn’t even feel it. What luck. He breathed in, but what filled his lungs was not air. Warm liquid gushed down his throat, filling his nose and lungs and he crashed down into the body fully just as it began to spasm agonizingly. He coughed and retched, but the seizures just increased in violence. His vision had cleared as soon as his diaphragm had started contracting, and through pain-reddened eyes he saw the young, dark-haired woman start up suddenly and stare at him while a high-pitched beeping sounded insanely in his ears. The woman who looked remarkably like his mother stared at him in shock, and he took one more look at her before the pain overcame him and he was pulled violently out of the body and yanked into the agonizing silence and frightening darkness.
High above Snake Way, suspended in an orbit of no movement around the realms of Heaven and Hell (Called the Home For Infinite Losers by it’s inhabitants) loomed the incredibly small planet of the Northern World King, Kaiou-samma. It’s three inhabitants; one, Bubbles, a monkey with large pointed ears who’s insane happiness could become quite annoying, two; Gregory, a funny-looking cricket-man (So labeled by an even more insanely-happy Gokou) who’s ego had no equal, and the great King Kai himself. Though, today, King Kai wasn’t feeling all that ‘great’. In fact, he was seriously depressed.
Bubbles, in his often unwelcome cheerful gestures, had uprooted all of King Kai’s bluebells and freesia’s (Not that he minded about the freesia’s - just the mention of their names sent him into paroxysms of terror, even though that problem had already been dealt with. Twice. But still, it was the fact that Bubbles mutilated his garden that bothered him.) And then Kaiou-shin, the God of all the World Kings, had sent him a telepathic phone-call giving him the horrible news, and now he had a disturbing suspicion that on the other side of Snake Way somebody was staring at him.
No, King Kai was not only seriously depressed, he was so depressed that if he were actually allowed to kill himself, he would have done so a thousand years ago. Flinging his antennae forward he felt for New Namek. Locating the planet almost identical to the original, he checked it for any signs of disturbance.
“Nope.” He said to no one in particular. “Well, at least that’s one less thing to worry about.” Usually this would be the time that he’d recall to mind that rather happy little time when Piccolo had chased the monkey, but right now King Kai was not in the mood for jokes.
He sighed. He knew he should never have gotten personally involved in the Earthlings lives, but it was like a soap-opera - once you were hooked, that’s’ it! - You were hooked, and you’d be watching the damned thing until your skin sagged, your legs refused to work and you looked like nothing so much as a bloated toad with grey whiskers.
He sighed again. Every time something unexpected happened, or something expected for that matter, he had done everything in his power he could do to help. But not this time. No, the great Dai Kaiou-shin had forbidden him to do anything.
What a load of-
“Kai!!” The Big God of all the World Kings roared.
Kaiou-samma flinched. Not even his thoughts belonged to himself anymore. The other World Kings were watching him very closely; they weren’t going to give him any chance to intervene in the current going’s-on on Chik-yuu.
/Going’s-on!/ He scoffed. So that’s what they called them. A fat lot they knew!
Bubbles ran past screaming, a bunch of decapitated daisies clasped in one paw. King Kai shot one last look in the direction of where Snake Way started, sending a mental yell to whoever was watching him, then manifested a particularly nasty-looking hammer and hit the amazed dancing monkey over the head with it.
King Kai laughed shortly, then turned and headed for his house. He better start preparing for visitors ‘cause if things were going to stay on the same course they were headed now, he was going to be hosting a rather large reunion.
“Let’s just hope King Yamah knows where to send them.” He said to himself, then disappeared inside.
He arose to the sound of Chao-tzu calling his name.
“Gohan?” The small mime asked, relieved to once again feel Gohan stirring beside him.
“Yeah?” He asked groggily. His body still hurt, even though in this place he knew he didn’t really have one, and he felt even weaker than he had before.
“What happened?” Chao-tzu asked him.
Gohan shook his head, not that Chao-tzu could see it anyway. “I - I don’t know, exactly.” He replied. “I - I went somewhere and I saw things, but none of it makes sense.”
He felt Chao-tzu let go of one of his shoulders and clasp his hand. “I’m scared to be alone in this place.” He said, ripples of darkness swaying them both.
“Me too.” Replied Gohan, closing his fingers around Chao-tzu’s smaller ones. “What’s it like being psychically connected to Tien?” he asked suddenly.
Chao-tzu paused for a moment before answering. “It’s like always having a best friend who sees you for what you truly are, and not just some illusion conjured up by their imagination,” he said. “You know the truth, because you can’t speak otherwise - the mind knows what is right. I know who my friends are, and they know who I am, so I can never be painted as anything else.”
Gohan nodded. He knew what he was saying.
“But-” The Emperor mime choked. “But I can’t feel him now. And I feel all alone. Tien has been with me for as long as I can remember, and I feel as though I’m only half without him. My mind is missing his.”
Gohan knew exactly what he was talking about. When Piccolo had died he’d felt the exact same way. There had been that part of him that was missing - that soft brush of tenderness across his mind when he was scared or alone that let him know Piccolo was there. Nothing had stopped him from bringing him back from the afterlife.
“Hey,” He asked Chao-tzu suddenly. “If we’re not dead, then where are we?”
“Purgatory?” Chao-tzu replied uncertainly. “Limbo?”
Gohan shrugged, sending them bobbing again on the dark ocean.
If it were possible, maybe it would have gotten darker.
Red lights pulsed violently from within the ship as all the white interior lighting flickered on during the emergency procedure.
Piccolo and Krillin stood well away from the control panel where an extremely agitated Peignoir was punching buttons in rapid succession.
“Damn!” She swore. “The computer’s not responding to my commands.”
Krillin blinked, not sure he understood. “What?” He asked.
Peignoir slammed a hand down on the consul. “I said the damn thing’s busted!” She ran a hand through her hair. “That impact just as we cleared the storm must’ve fried the circuits.”
Krillin stepped back. “Then how are we going to land?” He asked, hopelessness haunting his words.
“I don’t know.” Replied Peignoir, collapsing against the consul in sudden exhaustion. “If only Grandmother were here.” She moaned wistfully.
Krillin silently agreed. Bulma would know what to do. She had a knack for turning the impossible into the probable. Peignoir had it too, but Bulma had built the ship in a hurry and Peignoir knew next to nothing about it’s jumbled, mutilated and now slagged circuitry. They knew when they left home that it was going to be hard, but this was just ridiculous. So much for a there-and-back mission. Looked like they were going to be ‘there’ for longer than anticipated. Much longer. Krillin sighed. /This just sucks./ He saw Piccolo out the corner of his eyes, leaning against the wall with his stubborn frown once again stamped upon his lips. Krillin knew who he was thinking about. /Damn this./
“This bites!” He said out loud and kicked the base of the consul with one weighted boot.
Suddenly the lights stopped flashing and the sirens broke off mid-wail.
“What the...?” He started, but was cut short as the screen activated and landing codes flashed across in green writing.
“Huh?” Peignoir asked. “Krillin, what did you do?” She demanded
“I-” He started, “Uh, kicked it.” he finished meekly.
Peignoir frowned, then broke into a bright smile. “Krillin! You’re a genius!” She shouted, picking him up - one hundred pounds burly flesh, weighted clothes and all - and dancing him around the room.
Then abruptly, they felt the main engines beneath their feet engage, and they were suddenly thrown to the floor as the ship rocketed towards the storm-wracked Chik-yuu. Krillin grit his teeth, sitting on the shuddering floor, and grasped the base of one of the chairs. Peignoir clung to his legs, sliding across the floor as the Saiya-jin I changed direction again and again. She felt like screaming, but her throat had dried and closed up and her mouth refused to work. Piccolo was barely managing to stand. His legs were spaced far apart holding him steady as much as was possible, while his white, claw-like nails dug deeply into the upholstery of the head rest on the chair he was using to maintain his balance.
The ship shuddered violently, barely holding itself together as it screamed through the outer atmosphere and descended into the turbulent nebulosity that was smothering the planet. The white lights flickered then went out completely, plunging the time-ship into darkness punctuated by sharp stabs of lightening that disappeared as quickly as they had come. The ship rocked, accelerating and decelerating in rapid surges. Krillin’s grip on the chairs base broke it and he, Peignoir and the freed chair went flying through the air. Peignoir smashed into Piccolo’s seat, quickly buckling herself in and succeeding in giving herself whip-lash; Krillin careening into Piccolo himself and having to grab hold around the Namek’s neck to keep from becoming air borne again as the chair darted past to crash into the wall behind them.
“Phew!” Groaned Krillin, then began to yell as the ships propulsion received a massive boost and they thundered through the clouds, careening straight down towards the ground, gravity pulling them down faster and faster. Krillin thought he was just about to die when the propulsion engines reversed and the landing engines ignited, jerking the ship violently upward as it’s decent was slowed abruptly.
The Saiya-jin I touched down gently on a storm-wracked plain, the suspension relaxing with a great sigh as hissing drops of rain patted against the hot shell of the ship and were instantaneously evaporated. It was minutes before those inside could even move.
Krillin slowly unhooked his arms from around Piccolo’s neck and dropped down to the floor as the giant Namek attempted to untangle his fingers from out the foam and material of the headrest. Peignoir slowly unclasped the belts strapping her to the chair and gingerly pushed herself up off the seat and onto her feet. Piccolo, growing frustrated with being gentle, yanked his hands free of the headrest and looked around at the interior of the ship.
Cracks ran the length of the walls and the chair he had just mutilated was the only one still bolted to the floor. One part of the consul was smashed, a chair buried half in and half out of it, and there was no doubt in his mind that the other rooms would look just as bad.
“Will we be able to take off again?” He asked Peignoir, who was surveying the mess with a look of despair.
“I don’t know.” She replied, her voice low. “I don’t think so. Not without help, anyway.”
Krillin fumed. “This is just great!” He turned to Piccolo. “Remind me to stop volunteering for these missions!”
Piccolo sighed. “Well, there is very little we can do about it right now, anyway. Right now we’ve got bigger problems to solve. Then we can worry about getting home.”
Krillin nodded. “Right!” He replied, his voice darkening with determination. “Let’s get ready.”
The room was silent.
She could no longer hear the buzzing of the artificial lights overhead, and all sounds outside of the room in the corridor beyond were forgotten as she stood in stunned silence. The only sound she could hear was the frantic beating of her heart, thumping in her chest like a demented drum gone wrong. She was afraid to breathe; afraid to blink, afraid to move a fraction of an inch in case she convinced herself that what had just happened really hadn’t happened at all.
She stared into the large tank in front of her, through the pink-tinted liquid that held the body of her father in suspended animation, and at the face of the man she had never gotten to know. It was a calm, peaceful face, and amazingly handsome. His features were smoothed into those of a relaxed, sleeping man, eyes closed and lips pressed into a small frown. But she swore he wasn’t like that a minute ago. No. A minute ago his eyes had been open.
She expelled a heavy breath and it bounced around the room like the thunder that was raging outside. She often came to this room after training. It relaxed her and gave her time to think. Bra used to laugh at her about that, but she didn’t care, not anymore. She had been doing the usual thing, meditating for a while like Piccolo-san had taught her, and then spending a moment to tell her father how her day had been, much as she had done since she was a child and allowed into this room, when the machine that monitored the temperature and consistency of the liquid inside the tank went haywire and started beeping furiously. She had almost fallen off of her chair in fright when the machine that had been silent for years started to scream. She had looked up and had literally leapt three feet into the air when she saw his eyes were open. He had just stared at her, and all she could do was stare back. Then he had gone into seizures and the machine had gone off the deep end, beeping dementedly. Then it was over as quickly as it had started; the spasms had abated, his eyes had closed, and the machine went quiet.
Pan inhaled. That had never happened before. Ever. In all the years that her father had been in suspended animation, nothing even coming close to that had happened. You don’t just wake up after years of being clinically dead. Oh, sure, his body had been alive at the point when they had put him in the tank, just as it would be when they took him out, but his mind had gone. His body had been left without a soul, and you just don’t wake up if you haven’t anything to wake yourself up with. It couldn’t have happened. It mustn’t have happened. But she knew that as sure as her blood was red, it had. Her frantic thoughts were interrupted by a group of rushing people that suddenly burst in through the door.
Pan almost jumped a mile high.
The door slammed against the wall with the extreme force that was used to open it, as a tall middle-aged man with shoulder-length pale lavender hair skidded up to her.
“What happened?” He asked breathlessly. His hair and clothes were soaking wet and caked with mud.
Pan could barely make her voice work. “It... Ah, he... it - oh, Kami!”
Trunks waited expectantly, his arms crossed and his blue eyes inquisitive. “What?”
She ran a hand through her short, glossy black hair, brown eyes wide. “He - he... he woke up.” The words were thick and she had to force them out of her throat.
Suddenly, Trunks was pushed aside as a flush-faced Goten careened up to her. “What?!” He almost screamed. His dark eyes were wide, features almost exactly like his fathers’, hair decidedly so now that he’d chosen to let it grow, his face carrying that same goofy look despite the intelligence that lay just below the surface. He was also wet and caked with mud, dripping brown water onto the white tile floor. “What did you say?!” He grabbed his niece by the shoulders and shook her violently.
Pan; upset and confused and not to mention angry at being pushed around, slapped her uncles hands away and stared up furiously into his face. “He woke up!” She yelled, her voice almost cracking. “I don’t know how it happened, but he woke up!”
Goten took a startled step back and shot a disbelieving look at the S.A tank. “How?”
Pan ran her fingers through her hair again and turned to face the tank. “I don’t know.” she said quietly.
“You’re sure?” Asked Trunks, his pale blue eyes concerned. “You didn’t just imagine it?”
Pan sighed. “Maybe.” She replied. “I don’t know - I don’t think so.”
Trunks took a good look at Pan for the first time in ages. She was no longer the little girl he always thought she was. Her eyes that had once been a pale blue like his own but had over the course of her childhood clouded and melted into the chocolate brown that carried with them that wisdom beyond their years that was so familiar in her fathers’, bore beneath them large, dark circles, that no doubt he was carrying beneath his own. Her face was pale, strained, and looking older than her twenty-five years should allow. Then he sighed. They were all older than they should be; they were all empty and worn before their time.
“When did this happen?” Someone demanded from behind him. Then a distinguished-looking woman with pale green hair pushed past him to stand arrogantly before the small group, her hands on her hips and a small green, white-bellied cat hovering just above her shoulder.
“Okassan,” Started Trunks.
Bulma held up her hand, preventing him from saying anything further. She moved past her silenced son and his best friend and halted before Pan. “When did this happen?” She asked again, quieter this time.
“A few minutes ago.” replied Pan.
Bulma walked over to the monitor, Puar at her shoulder, and looked intently at the readouts on the machines screen. She shot a direct look into Pan’s eyes. “Tell me what happened.”
Pan described it as best she could, with no elaboration and in as much detail as she could recall. As she was talking she grew aware of others joining those that were already in the room. Trunks’ wife Jade - a kung-foo maniac that he’d met at one of the Budokai’s, Goten’s girlfriend Pei-ju, who had almost finished the third trimester of her pregnancy and was on full-term’s doorstep, and Oolong. Everybody save the unconscious Dende who were living in the underground levels of Capsule Corporation. Home.
As she finished talking, she became more aware of the silence that filled the room. She could tell that they wanted to believe her; there was a wishful hoping in all the eyes of those who had known her father, but even she admitted that if she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes she’d have a very hard time believing it.
Bulma spoke first. “Then he woke up.” she said. She walked over to the S.A tank, looking through the pink liquid into the face of the man the tank contained. She gently ran her fingertips over the Perspex of the window before turning back to look at what remained of Chik-yuu’s greatest warriors. “We’re taking shifts.” She stated. “This room is not to be unoccupied for one minute.”
“But Bulma,” Started Jade, her husky voice unnaturally loud in the quiet room. “There are not enough of us to carry out a unit like that and keep up our scouting missions.”
“The robot’s will take the shifts in-between.” She replied. “So you can still continue your scouts and keep and eye on Gohan without getting too worn out. Besides,” she added, casting a sidelong glance at a short pig wearing a white singlet and a pair of brown shorts. “Oolong has nothing better to do than clean and annoy me - so he can take any of your shifts if you’re too tired.”
The others all murmured their agreements apart from Oolong, who began to protest but was abruptly silenced by a quick foot in the mouth cheerfully offered by the bright yellow-haired woman at Goten’s side.
“Thanks, Pei-ju.” Said Bulma.
“You’re welcome.” She replied smugly.
Bulma smiled generously at her before turning away and heading out of the room. “First shift starts now.” She called quietly over her shoulder to them. “Same pattern as the scouting with gaps in between each for the robots. We have work to do.” And with that she left.
“I hope Peignoir gets back soon.” Trunks murmured.
Jade heard and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, resting her head upon his chest. “Me too.” She answered quietly. Trunks hugged her in turn, his cheek resting on top of her dark green hair. He sighed. At least the future was starting to look a little brighter.
It was past midnight when Casalin went in to check on the Son’s.
The room was filled with gentle snoring, soft whispers of breath that accompany the state of sleep. But something was wrong. Casalin heard more snores than just the two that should be in there.
Looking around, she noticed the people that she’d somehow managed to kick out three hours earlier, stationed around the room, sleeping peacefully. Son Gokou’s wife was still sitting on the chair at her son’s side, though now her head was bent onto the mattress as she slept with one of his small hands clasped in hers. Kuririn, the smallest of them all save the son, was curled up at the bottom of Son Gohan’s bed - there being enough room as Gohan barely took up even half the length of the standard hospital cot. The tall, green Demon King floated in the corner, his eyes closed. It looked as if he was sleeping, but Casalin had the idea that he was really just deep in a state of meditation. On the small couch pushed against the wall, the strange man with the sticking-up hair that defied gravity was asleep sitting up, his arms crossed and a gentler frown on his lips than the one he wore when he was awake. On his lap rested the sleeping head of a stunning woman with pale aquamarine hair that spilled over his knees like languid water.
In the darkness someone mumbled, and she looked up over her shoulder to see the scarred-faced Yamcha sleeping on top of the single double-doored cupboard against one wall. The sight was so unexpected that she started badly, taking a surprised step back, her tail flicking out agitatedly from beneath her full skirt in an uncontrollable spasm that sent it slamming into Son Gokou’s bed-post with a loud ‘thunk’.
Abruptly, the man on the couch jerked awake.
Casalin turned to him in horror as he opened his eyes slowly and fixed them steadily upon her. She stood there, her pale rose-colored eyes wide as her lips parted in shock and fear.
The mans dark eyes searched her face for a moment, then dropped lower to her waist where she was grasping the brown fuzzy tail and unconsciously rubbing it where it had connected with Son Gokou’s bed. They lingered there a moment, then flicked over to the huge dent in the metal of the bed-post where her tail had impacted, before once again returning their obsidian gaze to her face.
With cold purpose, he stood, ignoring the woman as her head flopped down onto the couch, and moved with silent, stalking steps towards her.
Casalin suddenly had an impulsive urge to run, to escape, to cross the eight meters to the window and leap out into the cold night air.
But she didn’t.
Her legs seemed to be frozen to the floor.
She stood there, immobile, her breathing rapidly accelerating as the small man came menacingly towards her, his movements as lithe as a hunting cat’s. Suddenly, he lunged forward, quicker than she had anticipated, quicker than she even thought possible, and snatched her tail out of her hands. Pain shot through her, slicing up from her tail through her spine to shatter in her skull. And instinctively, without thinking, she backhanded him across the cheek.
His head snapped around with the force of the blow, his eyes widening in surprise as he reflexively let her tail go. He turned to stare at her, his face mirroring the confusion plastered on her own features, as he raised a gloved fist to the side of his face. As he drew it back, a small spot of blood glowed on the white material of the glove. The man looked disbelievingly at it, then shot her another unreadable glare.
Casalin swallowed. Power was almost radiating from this man, and even if hitting him was the wrong thing to do - which it obviously was - there was no way she could take it back now. /Baka! If only I hadn’t been so easily startled!/ She exclaimed to herself. /If only I’d gotten the damn thing removed when I could!/ Her tail flicked agitatedly behind her, swishing the material of her nurses uniform.
The man suddenly lunged forward again, but instead of grabbing her tail, he thrust his hand up under her chin, curling his fingers around her throat and forcing her up against the wall, her shoulders slamming painfully back.
She grasped at the hand at her throat, trying to pry the fingers away, but his grip was stronger than she expected.
“Who are you?” The man demanded, his rough voice loud in the sleeping room.
Casalin choked, her throat refusing to work with the pressure pushing against it. She kicked out viciously with one of her legs, catching the man right below the knee.
The man roared and threw her to the floor. Sitting atop her, he encircled her neck with both of his hands and pressed down harder.
“Who are you?” He repeated. “Why do you have a tail?” His fingers loosened their grip a little, allowing her to reply.
“A - a tail?” She croaked, confused, his vice-like fingers still making it difficult to form words. “Why do you care if I have a tail?”
“Answer me!” He roared, his fingers tightening.
Casalin had had enough. A scream of outrage and humiliation building in her blocked throat, she let go of the mans wrists and shoved her hands against his stomach, a bolt of ki shooting from her palms.
The man went flying back across the room, slamming into the cupboard doors, making them collapse inwards, their hinges broken, as he immediately dropped to the floor in a crouch. The front of his shirt was blown away, but the olive skin beneath was unmarred.
Casalin frowned, picking herself up off the floor. A small blast like that would have badly hurt a normal person. /But then again,/ She amended to herself. /He’s not exactly a ‘normal’ person./ But still, it had been at extremely close range. Hell, any closer and she’d have been inside of him. Staring across the room at the crouching man she assumed a defensive position. There was no way that she was going to let this man push her into a vulnerable position again. Absolutely no way.
Then suddenly, the room came to life.
Yamcha, awoken by the shuddering of the cupboard beneath him and the screaming that had accompanied it, rolled off of the top in his sleepy stupor, and fell, yelling, onto the floor in a graceless lump. The women, in turn, awoken by Yamcha’s yell, started up from their sleep - Son Gokou’s wife reacting so violently that she flew up off of the chair and landed on her husband in the bed behind her, waking him up with a snort. The beautiful woman with aquamarine hair rushed up off of the small couch and ran over to the light switch on the opposite wall, flicking it on, and finally awakening Kuririn.
The room suddenly stilled.
Eyes of various shades and colours widened in either shock, confusion or awe as they fixed themselves first upon the somewhat ruffled Vegeta, and then upon the crouching nurse, who’s dress was jerking wildly behind her as the tip of a brown fuzzy tail flicked out from beneath the hem.
Casalin stared back, her mind running over her options, which were low in number and few to her liking. She could run, but that would solve nothing and that man would more than likely catch her. She could fight, but there were more of them and they all had far more experience than she. Or, she could surrender and wait to see what would happen. But surrender was paramount to the death of a warrior, her father had told her, and was something one never did. Ever.
Her indecision was interrupted by a startled cry.
“A tail!” Yelled Son Gokou, his wife on his lap. “She has a tail!”
“What?” Yelled back a very displeased Yamcha, picking himself up off the floor.
“But...” Started the aquamarine-haired woman.
The room burst into song.
“It’s impossible!” Stated Yamcha.
“Another?” Asked Kuririn.
“Gokou?” Inquired his wife, concerned.
“Could she be a Saiya-jin?” Asked the Demon King aloud.
“I don’t know...” Replied Yamcha, unsure.
“Her hair’s the wrong colour.” Observed Kuririn.
“So what has that got to do with anything?” Demanded the aquamarine-haired woman.
“What do you mean?” Asked Gokou’s wife.
“A Saiya-jin.” Echoed Gokou.
“But I thought...” Trailed off Yamcha.
“We were the last.” Gokou finished.
“What the hell’s going on?!” Screamed the aquamarine-haired woman.
“WILL YOU ALL JUST SHUT UP!” Yelled the short man with the sticking-up hair.
The room was abruptly quieted.
Casalin was in shock. The Demon King didn’t say what she just thought he did, did he? He had, surely he had, and Son Gokou had backed him up. They had said it twice, she was sure that they had said it. Her ears had never failed her before. A Saiya-jin. A Saiya-jin. How did they know?
The short man was moving towards her again, less threatening now, but still intimidating. She held her ground.
“Who are you?” He asked again, his voice cold, demanding, and even though he had halted his advance a meter away she felt as though he were right in her face.
“You - you already know my name.” She replied, ice-rose eyes wide.
“Say it!” The man demanded.
“Vegeta.” The woman with the aquamarine hair warned. The man ignored her.
“Casalin.” She replied, wondering what this was leading to.
The man named Vegeta stared at her with an unreadable expression, one eyebrow cocked. “Last name?” He asked. He didn’t understand what was with these last names, but he figured that with all these Human’s around it was a pretty simple method of keeping tabs on who was whose brat.
Casalin creased her eyebrows. /What is with this?/ She asked herself. “I don’t have one.” She replied. “Doe is the closest I’m going to get.”
Vegeta managed to look mildly surprised at this statement.
“Who were your parents?” He asked.
“Vegeta - is this really necessary?” Asked the aquamarine-haired woman.
Casalin looked at all the faces around the room. “Why is this at all necessary?”
Vegeta took a menacing step forwards. “Who were your parents?” He demanded.
Casalin’s face creased in fury. “They’re none of your business!” She yelled into his face, her eyes dancing like orchid flames.
Vegeta’s face hardened, becoming stony and as solid as granite. “If you’re what I think you are then you’re damned well my business!” He yelled.
“Oh,” She replied smartly. “And just what do you think I am?”
His glare darkened. “You tell me.” he growled.
“Why should I?” She asked. “I don’t see why it’s necessary.”
Vegeta’s scowl deepened. “You’ll tell me or I’ll-”
“Or you’ll what?” Casalin interrupted calmly. “Kill me? Then you’ll never find out what you want to know.”
Gokou, from the hospital bed, looked from one tense angry face to the other, then, pushing his wife off of his lap and hopping gingerly out of the bed, made his way staggeringly over to them. He laid a light hand on Casalin’s shoulder and smiled at her.
“Please?” He asked. “Won’t you tell us what we need to know?”
Casalin frowned up at him, and then cast a glance over at the still-fuming Vegeta. “What I don’t understand is why you need to know. But if you just ask me, instead of trying to beat it out of me, I might answer any questions you have.”
Vegeta’s scowl deepened even more, while Gokou’s smile broadened.
“First of all,” He said. “We’d like to know where you got your tail from.”
“I was born with it.” Numerous glances were shared about the room and Casalin grew more uncomfortable. Why were they so interested in her past? Why did they want to know about her tail? Her last name? Her Parents?
“Then,” Spoke up the Demon King, now standing before her. “We’d like to know how you did that.” He said, indicating the front of Vegeta’s shirt.
“Oh,” Casalin smiled maliciously. “Like this.” And as quick as lightning her arms shot forward and two bolts of ki shot from out her palms and struck Vegeta solidly in the chest. He fell back into Yamcha, who helped him up before being shoved back into the wall himself for his troubles.
“Gee, that’s gratitude for ya.” He mumbled to himself.
The Demon King smirked as the ruffled Vegeta tore off what was left of his shirt indignantly and muttered something illegible under his breath.
“Here’s another one.” Spoke up Kuririn from the end of Son Gohan’s bed. “When the Moon was full, did you ever look at it?”
Casalin gasped, her eyes widening as she took a startled step back. They knew about that? But, how? How did they know? “I don’t think I should answer that one.” She said shakily.
“Answer it, woman!” Ordered Vegeta from beside her.
“N-no.” She said breathlessly, her heart thumping loudly in her chest. “I was never allowed outside after dark on those nights where the Moon was full.”
“Why not?” Asked Yamcha from behind Vegeta.
Casalin shot him a frightened look before turning her eyes back to Son Gokou.
“Because if I did something unwanted would happen.”
“What? What would happen?” He prodded.
She looked at them, her eyes like rose-tinted glass, their depths searching the faces before her for any sign of their intentions. “You know,” She said to them slowly, “That I would turn Oozaru.”
Several breaths were expelled sharply as every person in the room suddenly seemed to relax. Vegeta moved out from beyond her peripheral vision to stand before her. His eyes met hers expressionlessly, and she almost took a startled step back when she felt his fingers under her chin, but they were gentle this time, not strangulating her, and she held her place as he tilted her face up slightly to meet his narrowed gaze. “Where are your parents?” He asked.
Casalin looked at him and shook her head imperceptibly against his fingers. “My parents are dead.” She replied quietly. “They were murdered.”
“By who?” Vegeta demanded, releasing her chin and stepping back away from her. “Who was strong enough to destroy two Naichi-jin?”
Casalin’s head flew up and she fixed the dark-haired man with a disbelieving stare. “How did you-?”
Vegeta smirked. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice? Just how many Saiya-jin’s with pink hair are there?”
One corner of Casalin’s lips twitched, but her eyes remained sorrowful. “Far too little.” She murmured. Then a question began to burn within her. “How do you know so much about Saiya-jin’s?” She asked them.
There was a rustle among them, and then Son Gokou spoke. “Because some of us are Saiya-jin’s.”
Casalin spun around to face him. “Impossible!” She cried, her whole body shouting out with her disbelief. “Frieza killed us all!”
“Well, he missed a few.” Replied Gokou.
Casalin blinked and brushed a strand of her hair off of her face. “How many?” she asked on an expelled breath.
“Well,” Replied Gokou, once again sitting down on his bed. “Originally, we thought there was four. Me, my brother Radditz, Nappa, and Vegeta over there.” He inclined his head towards the stoic figure, which scowled at him. “But you’ve given us another name to add to that list.”
Casalin frowned. “You? Then your son must be - “
“Half-Saiya-jin.” He finished. “Yes.” He looked over his shoulder at the boy smothered by wires and blankets. “In some ways he’s stronger than any of us will ever be, but in others...” He cut off and looked away, and his wife wrapped her arms around him.
“At least you remember him now.” She murmured in his ear.
“Nani?” He replied, confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Never mind.” She smiled.
Casalin turned to Vegeta. “You?” She asked.
Vegeta snorted. “Kakarotto’s pronunciation of the Saiya-jin language is somewhat lacking.” He commented. “My name, beyond the baka’s illegible comprehension of it, is Bejita.”
Casalin’s eyes immediately widened. Her lips trembled. “Bejita no Kokuoo?” She asked, her breath coming on a startled gasp.
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed and he shook his head. “My father is dead.”
Casalin’s face drained of all colour. “B-Bejita no Ouji?”
At this Vegeta nodded. “Hai.”
There was a moment of silence between the two, and Kuririn took this opportunity to ask his question.
“Uh,” He spoke up hesitantly. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what, exactly, are the Naichi-jin?”
Casalin looked at Vegeta and motioned for him to speak. Vegeta cocked an eyebrow at her, but then shrugged.
“A Naichi-jin,” He started, turning to face Kuririn. “Is a branch-off from the Saiya-jin race. A sort of...” Vegeta paused, trying to come up with a suitable description. “Mutant.”
Casalin’s brows had furrowed and she was about to protest when Vegeta held up a hand for silence. All within the room were attentive and listening.
“They are like your albino’s.” Continued Vegeta. “Only a Saiya-jin equivalent. Usually Saiya-jin’s have either dark brown, deep red, or black hair. These defects have bright iridescent colours, their eyes usually matching the colour of their hair. They are abnormally stronger than the average Saiya-jin baby at birth. The equivalent of Nappa, only not as stupid.”
There were a number of startled gasps around the room as those who had seen the full brunt of Nappa’s powers tried to comprehend the enormity of it all. A baby, a newborn, with the same level of power as Nappa? Yamcha shuddered. /I’d hate to be that kids baby-sitter./ He thought to himself. Even though Nappa was long gone - destroyed by a somewhat changed Vegeta - he’d been stronger than what they’d been at the time. Of course, he wouldn’t stand a chance now, but still - what power for a baby to have! He got a headache just thinking about it.
“Unfortunately,” Carried on Vegeta. “Their bodies are unusually weak, and in battles if it comes to hand-to-hand contact very few of them survive. They either die from sustained injuries that would normally leave a full-blooded Saiya-jin with a pale bruise,” Vegeta paused. “Or from self-implosion. Sometimes the power is too much for them.”
Everyone was silent as waves of pity washed over them all. Such incredible strengths, and yet such horrible weaknesses. Vegeta saw the looks on their faces and was suddenly infused with anger.
“Do not pity them!” He near-shouted. “They are greater warriors than you will ever be, and deserve your respect - not some weaklings pity!”
Krillin shuddered. He knew why Vegeta was angry, and he knew what it was like to implode, too. About twenty times worse than explosion. Irritated, he rubbed at a pain in the back of his head.
“So what you’re saying,” Said the Demon King from across the room. “Is that the Naichi-jin are a separate race of Saiya-jin’s?”
“So why’da they have a different name?” Asked Yamcha. “It sounds almost racist.”
Vegeta scowled at him. “Why do you have different names for fish?” He demanded.
Yamcha opened his mouth to retort, and then quickly shut it when he realized he had nothing to answer with. He hit himself with an open palm on the back of his head and swore. “Damn pain!” He said. “Piss off!” The small, throbbing pain at the back of his skull had suddenly gotten worse.
“You too?” Kuririn asked, likewise rubbing his head.
“Yeah.” Yamcha replied, flinching as it went up a notch.
“I wonder what’s causing it.”
A sudden flash of lightning burst outside the window followed by a huge blaze of blue fire. The lights in the room exploded in a shower of broken glass.
“What in the name of Kami was that?” Shouted Kuririn in the sudden darkness.
“Oh, no. Not more glass.” Yamcha muttered, brushing at the floor with the toe of his sneaker. “At least this time I’m wearing shoes.” He pushed at the glass littering the floor some more. He hissed suddenly and grabbed at his head as sharp pains stabbed through the back of his skull.
Kuririn echoed his cry. “Damn, that hurt!” He almost shouted.
Casalin rushed over to the monitors by Son Gohan’s bed, afraid that the power surge had knocked them out. But no, they were still working, monitoring the slow, steady heartbeat and low body functions. But the drip needed changing. “I’m going to get some more saline and another unit of blood.” She told them, heading in the direction of what she hoped was the door.
“To your left.” Said Vegeta.
Wordlessly, she followed his advice and quickly found the door. Pulling it open, she thanked him over her shoulder.
Vegeta just grunted.
She returned a moment later with a torch lamp and new saline and blood units. Half closing the door behind her, she turned on the torch and the room was immediately lit with a bright yellow-white light. “The emergency breakers will start up soon.” she said, placing the units on the small table beside Son Gohan’s bed. “Now let’s clean up all this glass.” She moved over to the now collapsed cupboard and pulled from out the wreckage a small brush and shovel. She handed it to Yamcha. “Here.” She said, smiling at him. “Make yourself useful.”
Yamcha looked down at the cleaning utensils in his hands, then at Casalin who still had a smile playing around the corners of her lips. Shrugging, he smiled back; a sucker for a pretty face, and bent down to sweep up the glass shards. The pain in the back of his head seemed to be ebbing now, and wasn’t causing him anything extremely painful save a slight discomfort.
“How’d you do that?” Asked the aquamarine-haired woman as Casalin moved over to Son Gohan’s bed, turned off and disconnected the I.V tube from the current saline pack then clipped it into the full one. Hooking it back up on the hanger suspended above and to the side of the machine that monitored the pressure of the liquid, she clicked the machine back on to resume dripping the saline solution in measured amounts into the tube, then turned and smiled at the woman. “Do what?” She asked.
The woman motioned towards the cleaning Yamcha. “Get him to work. I’ve been trying for years.”
Casalin smiled and shrugged. “Ever tried asking him?”
The woman frowned and contemplated, then, her blue eyes wide, she looked over to where Yamcha was sweeping the shards into a pile. “Well no. I always ordered him to do it ‘cause he never did. I guess I just never bothered to ask him.”
Casalin inclined her head. “You learn new things every day.” She said. Then, abruptly, she held out her hand. “You already know this,” She said. “But my name’s Casalin.”
The woman smiled, and took Casalin’s hand in her own. “I’m Bulma.”
Casalin returned the smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Bulma.” She then looked around the room. “Other than the exception of Mrs. Son, I know who the rest of you are.”
Casalin turned to face Gokou’s bed. “Excuse me?” She asked.
“Chi Chi.” The woman repeated. “My name is Chi Chi.”
Casalin snapped her fingers. “That’s right!” She cried delightedly. “You’re Gyuu-Maou’s daughter, aren’t you?”
Chi Chi blinked, then smiled. “Why, yes.” Then her slender, dark brows creased in confusion. “But how did you know?”
Casalin grinned at Chi Chi, who had once again snuggled into Gokou’s lap. “I’m a Budokai fan.” She replied, shrugging. “I remember all of you.” She looked back over her shoulder at Gohan’s bed. “I remember Kuririn and how he came third in I think it was the twenty-first tournament.” She looked at the fairly surprised fighter. “Am I right?” She asked.
Kuririn swallowed, then nodded. “Yep.” He replied. “Only it’s Krillin. Kuririn was what the Oorin temple monks called me. Personally, I think Krillin sounds better.”
“Hey!” Called Yamcha from the floor. “You never told me that.”
“Well, you never asked.” replied Krillin.
“And,” Continued Casalin. “I remember Yamcha from the Budokai’s and the West Kong Taitans.”
Yamcha smiled up at her. “League fan, huh?” He asked.
“Not really,” She replied, smiling sheepishly. “Just one of the many Yamcha fans. Do you know just how many web-sites you’ve got out there?”
Yamcha blushed while Krillin laughed at him.
The Demon King and Vegeta snorted through their noses.
Gokou had fallen asleep.
“I remember Ma Junior over there,” She motioned towards the frowning Devil. “Mostly because he was the cutest-looking green-guy I’d ever seen. Of course,” She added, ignoring Krillin’s hysterical laughter that threatened to send him tumbling off the bed. “I was only nine at the time.”
The Demon King snorted again.
Yamcha, chuckling away to himself about Piccolo being labeled as ‘cute’, and at the usage of his old name, had just finished sweeping up all the shards of broken light-bulb that he could find when the pain in the back of his head, quiet until now, thundered through his skull. He immediately fell back onto his rear on the floor and clutched at his head, his sight exploding with red lights. He gasped, then let out a howl of pain.
“Fuck!” He screamed.
Casalin turned just in time to see Krillin fall off of Gohan’s bed and onto the cold linoleum floor, clutching at his head and grimacing in pain. Taking a moment to analyse the scene, she quickly called for Chi Chi.
The young woman came up beside her.
“What are we going to do?” She asked
Casalin pulled Chi Chi down beside Yamcha and placed the woman’s right hand on his forehead. “Just keep your hand there.” She told her. Then she quickly moved over to where Krillin was writhing on the floor and dragged him over to Yamcha and Chi Chi. Once there, she sat on the smaller mans chest and placed her left hand on his forehead.
“Now listen carefully,” She told Chi Chi. “You know how your mind is clear that small moment before you gather your energy for an attack?”
Chi Chi nodded.
“Well, try to do that. Try and keep your mind clear and your energies dormant. What I’m going to try to do is take away their pain, and hopefully,” She added quietly. “I wont hurt you in the process.” She looked over at Chi Chi who stared at her, afraid. “I want you to close your eyes. When I grab your hand you’re going to feel a gentle pull. It will get stronger, but it shouldn’t hurt.”
Chi Chi nodded and exhaled slowly. She closed her eyes.
/All right./ Casalin thought to herself. /Here it goes./ As she reached out and grasped Chi Chi’s hand she caught the dark obsidian glance of her Prince, silent communication passing between them before she too closed her eyes. Instantly, she felt a tug, and then her mind was flooded with white-hot pain. Bearing it with searing agony, she searched through the pain to its source, and quickly shut it off. But something went wrong, and her pain didn’t cease with the other two’s. She stiffened, and abruptly let go of Chi Chi’s hand.
To Piccolo, Vegeta and Bulma the sight looked strange indeed. One moment it was Krillin and Yamcha who were shuddering in agony, and the next it was Casalin who was trembling with it, and the two warriors were silent. Abruptly, Casalin let go of Chi Chi’s hand and stood, eyes wide and body stiff, and faced the window that over-looked West Kong. “Someone’s coming.” She said quietly, then she threw back her head, screamed, and a white-hot flash of energy burst momentarily around her, only to vanish as quickly as it had come.
Confused, and still feeling the after-effects of that incredible pain, Krillin and Yamcha picked themselves up off the floor.
“What just happened?” Yamcha asked, shaking his head.
Casalin smiled sympathetically. “You were picking up strange frequency ki signals that are approaching.” She said calmly to them. “Don’t worry, I changed your reception signal slightly so it wont hurt as much.”
Krillin and Yamcha shared a perplexed glance, then looked over at Vegeta.
He smirked at them. “Naichi-jin also have very strong mental stability. What she means is that she altered your pathetic perceptions enough so that you can still detect the ki, only with less pain.”
“Oh.” Replied Yamcha and Krillin in unison.
“Your senses are strange.” She told them, her voice puzzled. “They’re not as finely tuned as ours,” She said, referring to her and Vegeta. “But they have a more extensive range. Very peculiar.”
Yamcha shrugged, but sure enough, when he felt out with his mind for the strange ki signatures, he could detect them with only a slight twinge of something remotely like pain.
“Do you feel that?” Asked Krillin from beside him.
“Mmhm.” He replied, facing the window, his eyes fixed unseeingly out into the darkness beyond. “It’s kinda strange, but then very familiar.”
“Yeah,” Agreed Krillin. “One of them sorta feels like Piccolo, only - I dunno - different.” He paused. “Suppose it could be another Namek?”
“Uh-uh.” Replied Yamcha, dark eyes searching the darkness for any sign of the ki bearers. “No Namek’s power level is that high. And if it was a Namek, wouldn’t Piccolo be able to feel it?”
“I can’t detect anything.” Confirmed Piccolo, joining them at the window.
Vegeta crossed his arms and moved to stand beside Yamcha and Krillin. “Where are the signals going?” He asked.
“Well,” Yamcha replied. “As far as I can tell, they’re heading this way.”
Vegeta sighed through his nose. “You’re sure?” He growled.
Casalin looked over her shoulder at the four men lined up before the window, observing the out-of-season storm. She shook her head slightly, and then bent to tuck in the sleeping Gokou. Whatever the nurse had given him was working like a charm. He was sleeping like a baby.
She leapt as the torch beside her exploded and the room was flooded with darkness once more.
The sky screamed as the wind howled and buffeted them, making it difficult to fly. The rain was like ice, stabbing them through the sodden layers of their clothes, freezing their blood and stiffening their muscles. But there was little they could do about it.
They shot through the churning sky like silver bullets, the light from the storms raging around them, the thunder causing the air to ripple which continuously pushed them off course.
“Where are they?” Screamed Krillin over the howling of the wind. He spat out a mouthful of the water that filled his mouth as soon as he opened it to speak. “Can you see them?”
“No!” Gurgled back Peignoir, who flew alongside of him, her long braid thrusting out from the back of her head like a sword - the water had frozen between the strands, making it stiff. “Do you?”
Krillin almost laughed, but if he held his mouth open for too long he would probably drown. “If I knew-” spit. “I wouldn’t-” spit. “Be asking you-” spit. “Now would I?” He spat again.
/But I can definitely feel something./
Then abruptly something struck him from behind and he careened off course. He barely had time to straighten himself before he crashed face-first into a mountain. Narrowly missing the peak, he shot up higher into the sky and looked frantically about for his attacker. Then, through the dark locks that formed frozen cell-like bars over his eyes, he noticed something flying towards him. With no hesitation, by now knowing that it was a deadly fault, he shot his hands forward and blasted it. Not waiting to see whether the ki blast hit the creature or not, he turned and shot away. Energy flashed around him, melting the icicles in his hair and instantly drying his clothes as he rocketed towards the others - who had halted in mid-air and were waiting for him - like an undead Majin Buu was hot on his trail.
Piccolo, watching Krillin race towards them, picked up on the something that was wrong, and shot off ahead, yelling behind to Peignoir.
Peignoir, taking barely a moment to realize what was happening, shot off after Piccolo barely a moment behind, Krillin jetting alongside her hips.
“Can you feel that?” Roared Piccolo back to them. “They’re right in front of us!”
“Yeah?” Yelled Krillin up to him. “Well, there’s someone else right behind!”
“I know!” Came back Piccolo’s voice. “But I was referring to Gokou and the others!”
“Oh!” Shouted back Krillin. “I think we should step on it ‘cause this guy’s getting closer!”
He chanced a look back and saw that, indeed, the monster was a lot closer than he had thought, and that if he dropped back a meter he’d be right on top of the guy.
“Arrrggghhhhhh!” Krillin screamed and shot up beside Piccolo with a sudden unexpected burst of ki. “Where are they? Where are they?” He asked rapidly as they shot towards a city that glowed like a flood light in the dark.
Piccolo pointed with one white-clawed finger at a tall, thick building, grey through the rain. “The hospital. The third window on the right.”
“The right?” Repeated Krillin. “Your right or my right?”
“Just the right!” Piccolo screamed. “Now hurry!” He hoped that window was the right one. It felt about right.
“Which floor?” Krillin demanded.
“Fourth.” Replied Piccolo, now certain of their location.
A sudden scream from behind him caused them to turn back.
Peignoir’s boot was caught in the grip of a pale-faced, white-haired elemental with silver eyes that flashed and reflected the streaks of lightning tearing the clouds around them. He was grinning maliciously at her, his right arm drawn back and fingers clawed. Peignoirs face darkened with fury and she moved her hands up above her head, then brought them down directly into the elementals face, pale blue ki shooting out from her palms and surrounding his head.
Abruptly, the hand let her go and she shot away out of his reach.
The smoke was quickly yanked away by the savage wind, exposing the elementals carbon-dusted face that emitted such unbelievable waves of anger and hatred that even Piccolo trembled uncontrollably.
“That wasn’t wise.” He murmured, his voice deep and chillingly cold. He raised a pale fist to his lips and wiped away a smear of pale blue blood. Then he grinned. “Allow me to show you the correct way.” Then, through the violent screaming of the raging wind and freezing torrents of icy rain, the air began to thrum.
“Oh, no!” Cried Krillin. “He’s powering up!”
“Damn this!” Swore Piccolo, realizing that if they were ever going to attack this alien, now would be the right time. “Ready?” He asked Krillin and Peignoir. Before they even nodded he had drawn in the necessary amount of energy needed for his attack, and was on the verge of releasing it when he felt powers being condensed on both his sides as Krillin on his right and Peignoir on his left gathered their energies. Suddenly, the ki lashing within him like an uncontrollable demented whip, it broke free and burst forward as the air around him thrummed with his bellowing yell of; “Makankosappo!”
“Ki-en-zan!” Krillin cried, a flat yellow disk of burning ki hot on the energy wave of Piccolo’s two-ki attack, as Peignoir, on the other side of the giant Namek, unleashed her cry.
“Renzoku!” She screamed as ki bolts of uncountable numbers shot in rapid succession from her palms.
The three totally separate attacks travelled as one across the small distance to strike the surprised and unprepared elemental who was suddenly engulfed in blue, yellow, white and purple-hued explosions.
Piccolo, not wasting any time, grasped Krillin and Peignoir around their wrists and turned, racing towards the hospital. A few seconds later he threw them ahead of him and turned around, flying backwards, to blast the turbulent explosion behind him. There was no way, in this time or any other, that he was going to let any pale-faced, wind-loving asshole harm anyone he knew or cared about. Not again. He screamed as he soared backwards, bright yellow ki blasting from his hands, murderous rage intensifying within him until it felt as though he had a storm of his own in equal magnitude to the one around him, raging in his soul. He’d be damned if they’d do it again. Damned to Hell if he wasn’t already.
“They’re coming.” Murmured Yamcha in the sudden darkness.
The door to the room abruptly banged open as Tienshinhan and an old man rushed into the private ward, light from the torch-lit corridor beyond flaring within the room momentarily before the door closed behind them. Tien’s face, in that instant of light, was pale and drawn, his eyes dull and red-rimmed.
Piccolo turned from the window. “How is he?” He asked, Yamcha, Krillin and Vegeta still staring out the window, inattentive, silently observing the tempestuous night.
Tien swallowed, opened his mouth to reply, choked, then fell silent.
Piccolo said nothing. He understood, even if the only person he had ever felt that way about was lying, dead in a manner of speaking, in the bed beside him. The wires running to and through him the only things keeping the boy alive. He felt so helpless. Then suddenly, his contemplation was broken by a small shout beside him.
“There!” Cried Bulma. “Did you see that?” She was pointing out the window to where a flash of lightning had been a moment before.
“What?” Asked Master Roshi, moving in behind them.
“It looked like a blast of ki.” Vegeta observed.
“It was.” Replied Yamcha, his eyes never leaving the window.
There was another flash of pale blue lightening.
“There!” Yelled Krillin, his arm shooting out to point. “There they are!”
Everybody leaned closer, eyes delving deep into the inky cloud and sparking sky.
“I thought I could feel something.” Murmured Tien.
Casalin stood beside Chi Chi, staring out the window. She could feel it too, now. Ever since she had briefly touched upon Yamcha and Krillin’s minds, she had been able to detect it. She concentrated harder. If she didn’t move her eyes, kept them unfocused, unblinking, she could faintly detect movement. Then, suddenly, the sky erupted in a blaze of rupturing colours.
Chi Chi gasped. “I - I felt that!” She breathed. “That was - huge.”
Vegeta stepped back from the window.
“Kuso!” He cried. “What the hell is that?”
Krillin and Yamcha started moving back. “I suggest,” Started Krillin, eyes never leaving the bursting colours exploding in the sky. “That we all move away from the window.”
The others had just started taking their advice when another blast of ki lit up the sky and the hospital room with bright yellow light.
“What the -” Started Piccolo.
“The - the window!” Screamed Krillin as the force of Piccolo’s throw sent him and Peignoir careening uncontrollably towards the hospital window.
Suddenly, ki blasting from his hands, propelling him backwards faster than he could fly, Piccolo shot past them, his face creased and illuminated with fury.
“The window!” Repeated Krillin.
He raised his hands to shield his face.
“What the -?”
He couldn’t finish. Before he could get the last word from out between his lips, three figures bore down from out of the storm-tossed sky and careened towards them.
A blur of white glowing with bright yellow energies dominated the view out of the window before crashing through the glass pane, flying through the room and smashing into the mutilated cupboard. Getting suddenly up, the green and white giant figure skidded through the glass littering the centre of the room to reach out and grasp two other figures that came flying unexpectedly through what was left of the window, screaming their heads off. The figure dumped them unceremoniously onto the floor, then proceeded to blast bright burning bolts of ki out into the storm. The other two almost instantaneously leapt to their feet, joining the other, taller figure in blasting the unseen assailant.
Suddenly, they stopped. The tallest of them lowered his hands in relief, sighing. Then he growled.
The room was silent as it’s surprised occupants looked from figure to figure, face-to-face, green-skinned Namek to green-skinned Namek.
“What the hell?” Demanded Vegeta.
“Is - is that Piccolo?” Squeaked Bulma, sticking her head out from behind the Saiya-jin Prince.
The room was suddenly illuminated by a ball of white light that danced just above Yamcha’s head.
Krillin swallowed, then stared. “And I suppose you’re me?” He yelled at the short man with dark hair.
“It is Piccolo!” Squealed Bulma, scuttling away from the three figures in the centre of the room.
Piccolo growled. “I take it you’re not from Trunks’ future?” He asked.
The other Piccolo shook his head.
“Who’s future are you from, then?” Demanded Kamesennin.
“Yours.” Replied the woman with long green hair.
There was more silence.
“I think you better sit down.” Said the future Piccolo.
The wind whipped his white hair savagely.
Silver eyes surveyed the hospital from a distance as pale hands the colour of cream wiped dark soot smudges from his features. The rain intensified in violence, but the elemental scarcely felt it. To him it was barely noticeable, a minor pleasantry. Warm and inviting against his skin. His eyes narrowed beneath frosty-white brows.
Those aliens, those Humans, were creatures to worry about. They knew things, knew how to hide their powers completely from them. The Humans. They were the dangerous ones. Those Saiya-jin were less of a problem. Although they could lower their powers - they could not disguise them completely. They had so far only had one problem with a Saiya-jin, and that one had been dealt with pretty easily. But then it was revealed that the Humans planned to go back in time to unleash that ones dormant power when he was a child and it was still possible to do so. They planned to absorb it into that ball and take it back to infuse in one of their other half-breeds, the time in the past selected critically due to the fact that it would take the child merely a few days to recover what power he’d had stolen from him.
Their plan had been in dangerous certainty of succeeding.
And it was only due to the agent within the underground of Capsule Corporation, and the timely ‘leak’ of information, that they were prepared for the launching of the time ship. If they had known sooner, they’d have been able to sabotage the ship, and then they wouldn’t have had to follow them back to this time. But they had done something better. Instead of tampering with the ship, they had altered the purpose of the ball that they had so carefully constructed. Instead of it absorbing the power of the boy, it would infuse one of them into him, forcing his mind out of his body, and then leave it himself so that the body was mindless, therefore powerless, and then the boy could join his future self in his sad and pointless death.
The elemental laughed. Sad indeed! Sad that it was so simple a thing to do. But damn those Humans! And the half-breeds were even worse! They were too strong for him together in a group like that. It would be foolish for him to press his attack prematurely. He must wait just a little longer. Time was no problem, but the recovery of that brat was.
The air suddenly became heavier as great chunks of hail crashed down from the sky above him as he felt another being slide up to him.
“Squall.” The elemental greeted emotionlessly, not looking at the visitor. His silver eyes were still fixed stonily upon the building that he could feel the Human’s cowering within.
“Blizzard.” Squall replied.
Blizzard’s eyes now turned away from the building and hovered over the other elemental.
His deep blue hair was being whipped savagely by the winds, but like Blizzard, Squall did not care. His skin was not much darker than Blizzards, a pale tan, and he was only a little shorter than the white-haired elemental.
Blizzard scowled at him as their eyes met, and an immediate battle of the stares ensued. Squall was the first to look away.
“What have you to report?” Blizzard demanded, a cruel and satisfied smirk twisting his lips. Squall returned the glare for a moment before letting his eyes drop to the tip of the white-haired elementals nose. “We have located Capsule Corp.” He replied, his voice warm and soft despite his element and his well-clipped words. “Now all we have to do is wait.”
Blizzard nodded. “You have done well, warrior.” He said coolly.
Squall lifted his stare back to the elementals ice silver eyes.
“Now I want you to search out the Kami of this place.” He continued.
Squalls eyes widened slightly.
“And I want you to destroy him.” Blizzards voice ended dispassionately.
Squall bowed quickly, his hair falling forward to obscure his face. When he straightened his features were once again calm, composed, and cold. “As you wish, General.” He replied, turning away.
Blizzard watched the younger elemental leave, disappearing into the storm in a blaze of hail. He frowned. There was something wrong with that warrior... something strange, but Blizzard just couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He’d been acting a little differently for a while now, and even though he was one of Blizzard’s most trusted soldiers, something about him was beginning to make him lose that trust. He’d need watching, though. Very close watching.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted as two more elementals flew up to him. “Report.” He demanded without looking at them.
“General.” Replied the green-haired male, saluting and attempting a small mid-air bow.
“Well, what is it, Captain?” He asked, becoming annoyed.
The green-haired Captain cleared his throat and moved slightly forward. “Satan City has been deprived of power.”
Blizzard nodded. “Well done, Hurricane.” He congratulated coldly, icy wind frosting out from between his lips. “And you, Tempest? What have you to report?”
Her voice whispered and roared like the sea when she replied. “The Zenith High Empath has been exterminated.”
At this Blizzard turned to face them. “Are you sure?” He asked slowly, silver eyes boring coldly into her own dark green.
Tempest nodded, her pale lavender hair swirling about her face in billowing purple waves. “His soul will not be rejoining his body.”
Blizzard flew forwards. “Has his body been destroyed?” He demanded.
Tempest looked away, out into the distance, before returning them back to Blizzards lips. “I cannot be certain.” She replied.
“Well, find out!” Blizzard roared, his face bellowing his displeasure, icicles suddenly bursting into existence around him. “The Emperor can not be allowed to live!”
Tempest bowed, hiding her shamed and guilty expression behind the waves of her hair. “Immediately, sir.” She replied, her voice cold and watery. She turned and disappeared into the darkness of the storm.
“Do you wish me to follow her?” Asked Hurricane.
“No.” Replied Blizzard, shaking his head. “She is loyal.” He stared out into the storm where she had disappeared moments before. “It is Squall I want you to watch.”
Hurricane nodded. “As you wish.” He replied, and he too disappeared into the storm.
Blizzard once again turned his cold, pale eyes to the building that contained his cowering enemies. Then, for no reason, he laughed, loudly, maliciously and insanely into the wind.
The laugh continued on for long minutes, even after the elemental had disappeared, like the others, into the murky dark.