Pandora's Box: Chapter 8
aka Paying Homage to the Lifeless
"Recognition, Restoration, Reparation/
Recognition, Restoration, Reparation/
Watch them all fall down/"
-System of a Down "P.L.U.C.K"
Goku sat at the edge of a river bank, his legs dangling in the water, quietly swishing back and forth in boredom. The dull roar of the nearby waterfall calmed his nerves slightly. He shifted his position a bit before leaning back and looking up at the sky. The soft grass felt pleasant against his naked form, and absent-mindedly he ran his hands through the blades.
"I think you're misinterpreting the situation," a deep, slightly husky voice stated.
Goku's eyes shifted towards the levitating Namek, a small sigh escaping him, "What's there to misinterpret? Vegeta hates me.."
Piccolo grit his teeth lightly to relieve some frustration, "The fact is that if Vegeta really did hate you he wouldn't have done so many things with you. He wouldn't of gone to see an opera with you."
Goku frowned a bit, interlacing his fingers and putting his hands behind his head, "I guess so..but he didn't know what an opera was."
Piccolo sighed silently to himself before he gave up and floated down towards the Saijin. He sat down "Indian" style next to the shorter man, "Listen, Goku...Vegeta is in a very decisive point in his life. He is..breaking under pressure that has built up for years. He is a trained warrior, though you and I both know he is, or was, a murderer. Since he was a child he has served under Frieza - this much I do know - the extent of the tasks he had to perform under that tyrant are unknown to me, though I do know he has been killing practically his whole life.
"Bad habits die hard, and old wounds rarely heal. I believe Vegeta is dealing with you the only way he knows how. Don't blame him, Goku; I know this isn't what he wants. If he really did want to kill you, he would've gone after you long ago and kept at it until he got what he desired. The only reason I think he's doing so now is because he's so confused he doesn't know what he wants."
Goku looked into Piccolo's eyes, the Namek offering a sympathetic expression. "Look, didn't you tell me earlier that Vegeta had said to you that he was finally acting himself the night of your birthday?" Piccolo asked gruffly, a bit upset that Goku was feeling down.
The shorter man gave a small nod, one eyebrow warily raising. "Maybe he was in a way," Piccolo suggested, "Because he was finally doing what he wanted to do and he forgot about everyone else. He also said he was sick of being who he was, yes? That just proves he wants a different lifestyle. He had been trying to gain acceptance, but failed to the point where he decided to revert back to his old ways. It's the only way he knows how to act, Goku. If the others opened up to him, then Vegeta might calm down a bit. He'd most likely be skeptical at first, but after time he'd learn that you don't have to hide from everyone. Vegeta doesn't want to be who he is, but it's the only way he knows how to be."
Goku sighed and rolled onto his side, looking down at the ground, "I understand. I just can't help thinking..."
Piccolo made a slight growling noise, "Maybe you should stop thinking that way. I know you, Goku, and I haven't seen you think so negatively before. Has that ever won a battle?"
Goku opened his mouth to say something, paused, and finally admitted, "No..but this isn't a battle."
Piccolo huffed and folded his arms, "Could've fooled me. He attacked you twice."
Goku flipped all the way onto his stomach, facing down, away from Piccolo, "That's different.."
Piccolo replied, "Oh yeah? How?"
The full-blooded Saijin fumbled for a response, "Uh...because..Vegeta wasn't...um...."
Piccolo sighed, again appearing sympathetic, "Look, Goku. The fact of the matter is you can't fix all of these problems by yourself. If you want Vegeta to be happy you're going to have to make a huge attempt to show him how you feel."
Goku blushed a bit, looking up briefly before hiding his face again, "You say it like I have a crush on him or something."
Piccolo noticed the color that came to Goku's face, "Well, for one who's denying attraction I find it interesting how one will blush at the notion, yet not at the fact of being naked in front of others."
Goku's blush deepened at the truthfulness, "Piccolo, I....Are you teasing me?"
Piccolo chuckled lowly, a small mischievous smirk on his face, "Maybe, but that's not really the point, is it? Goku, you have to understand that friends to Vegeta are rare and greatly needed. When I feel the time is right, I too will approach him and ask to be his friend."
Goku's head instantly turned towards the green-skinned man, "Are you serious??"
Piccolo gave a nod, his expression solemn, though relaxed, "I have pondered this dilemma for many nights now. Ever since the androids first arrived, in fact. To be honest, I began to believe I was a bit cowardice to wait so long, but now I see it's for the better. As Trunks has realized, I too know that you're the only one who is able to get through to Vegeta. It's a great deal of pressure to put upon you, but it is the truth. I also know you well enough to not give up; that is why I have faith in you."
Goku pushed himself up into a sitting position, still looking at the ground, "Thanks, Piccolo, I'm not sure what to say.."
Piccolo stood, his smirk returning, "How does 'I'm going to put some clothes on now' sound?"
Goku burst out laughing, grabbing his attire nearby, "I'm going to put some clothes on now!" Piccolo turned away to give him some privacy, floating up to his normal meditation level. Goku slipped on his boxer shorts and quickly pulled on his pants. After tying the belt around his waist, both Goku and Piccolo's heads shot up. "That ki.." Goku trailed off in surprise.
Piccolo snarled at the bad vibes of the situation, "It feels like yours, Goku."
The Saijin hastily finished dressing, his composure becoming completely serious, "Let's go check it out!"
Vegeta was livid. He was far beyond upset, beyond angry. This was full-fledged rage that made adrenaline pump and blood flow. It caused his destructive powers to emerge ready and willing. How much humiliation would he have to endure? How many times would he put himself into this predicament?
Every time he thought he had the upper edge, he suddenly lost. Every time he started to win, he was struck down. Why?
Why did it have to be this way? Why couldn't he just get a grip on his life? He couldn't. He hadn't been able to. Not since his first defeat. Not since Kakkarot. He gave in, let go, just drifted away when Frieza took his life. He became what he had feared to become: worthless. There was no point to his existence.
He wasn't strong enough to rule, or strong enough to prevent others from ruling. He had no family, no friends, no home. He had nothing. There was no point in his living or his death. He had nothing to look forward to. Nothing save revenge.
No, not even revenge, really. It was anger that was the pathway.
Anger opened the door and became the conduit for his pain. His pain made him angry, which completed the circuit.
When he was angry, it brought out something in him. It wasn't the Saijin - the "animal" - in him; it wasn't the purger he'd been raised to be; it was simply a force on its own. It was who Vegeta tried so hard to resist being. It wanted to claim the lives of others. It wanted power. It wanted control. It wanted its pride back.
Each death was a sacrifice to himself, in hope that he could actually live.
How many had paid the price? Hundreds, thousands, millions of people were slaughtered, butchered, murdered by him.
Yet, none had perished since his pride was destroyed. He had taken no toll since his resurrection. He had not taken any "homage". Why not now, just when he needed it most?
The answer was simple: he had kept it at bay. At first, he was distracted by his sudden redemption to Earth. However, when the novelty wore off, he felt the gnawing of a bitter depression.
He had failed miserably. If he had killed Frieza, would it of changed anything? No. His home would be destroyed , his family dead, and himself still in shambles. He would've felt better though. It would have given him hope.
He'd always spent his time redirecting his sadness. He'd push it through the pathway and transcend it to anger. The anger he could outlet. He could manage the anger easily. There was always more than enough carnage to dish out. Depression had never been an issue.
Coming back to Earth, he felt wasted, drained, exhausted. He trained sporadically. At times, he would become motivated to catch up to Goku. He trained endlessly at those times, straining his body and his mind. In the end, it always came back to the same thing: he wasn't good enough. The Prince of Saijins was weaker than a third class nobody. The Prince of Saijins who had no Saijins to rule. The Prince of Saijins who stood against the universe, alone. So instead, he elected to never train seriously.
There was too much free time on his hands. Too many opportunities to let that certain, specific anger come out. He had needed a distraction - something to make him forget what a worthless sack of shit he was. Alcohol was the medium. The booze washed away the pain, so in turn it prevented the anger from arising. Being sober made him think about his aimless, pointless existence; so he tried not being in that state of mind as often as possible.
And then came Kakkarot. His life was a beautiful mess before Kakkarot spawned into it. It only furthered complications. He had tried not to deeply question the black-haired man's reasoning. Perhaps, deep down, he had wished that it wasn't fake kindness.
He couldn't comprehend the other Saijin, and he never really thought of it, but maybe Kakkarot didn't understand him either. Since he couldn't quite read him, he tried to believe that Kakkarot did not have ill intentions. He tried, with much difficulty, to kid himself into believing that the younger man was honest. After all, who would seriously want to befriend their sworn enemy?
Then, time passed. Months went by, and Kakkarot became an...ally. He would never dare call anyone his friend. He simply could not fathom how people, so blindingly, put trust into one another; but he was getting an idea. Kakkarot may have been his enemy, but he did save his life.
Yet, Freiza would have acted the same.
Yet, Freiza and Kakkarot were two completely different people. They were nothing alike.
It always came back to Kakkarot.
He had put his trust into the man. He had forfeited safety in exchange for..happiness. If he could call it that, he wasn't quite sure. Relief and satisfaction he knew, but happiness - true happiness - he wasn't exactly sure what that was anymore.
Now that he thought of it, the angrier he became. It wasn't simply the fact that Goku asked Zarbon - of all people - it was that it was a very personal subject. That type of subject could relate to information that could hurt him, and he did not want it shared. This put him in a position where he'd willing put his trust into someone who could easily hurt him.
Vegeta was furious at himself.
The prince sat, seething. He stared at his clenched fists. They shook as the knuckles turned white and his joints began to ache.
Kakkarot, Kakkarot, Kakkarot.
His gaze suddenly turned towards the horizon.
Kakkarot, what have you got yourself into?
Eighteen slammed against the nearby wall, which cracked under the force. She fell to the ground panting, trying to catch the breath that was knocked out of her. Another form was suddenly next to her, and she looked up to find Sixteen. He knelt and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, lifting her up, "Eighteen, what is going on?"
The blond winced as she moved, keeping one of her eyes closed, "I don't know exactly. Seventeen and I were just taking a walk through the garden, when out of nowhere this..thing attacked us!"
Sixteen nodded, walking them over to a nearby bench, "Stay here, I'm going to go after Seventeen." She nodded, still gasping for air as the taller android left her to go scout out her brother. Sixteen ran off into the direction he sensed his friend, who was about a half of a mile away from where he was. He arrived to see Seventeen on his hands and knees, breathing hard. The attacker was about to make his next move, so Sixteen leapt into the air, slamming himself down onto the back of whoever this person was. The assailant fell to the ground in shock, looking over their shoulder at the android.
"Another one? Who are you?" the person asked in a raspy voice.
Sixteen leapt back to give them room, "I am Android Sixteen. Who are you?"
The person - or thing with humanoid characteristics - gave an overly friendly smile, "You don't know?"
The red-head looked over the person before him, noting the two toned green skin with dark spots, and the interesting shape of the head and tail. It looked like a cross between an insect and a human - something Sixteen was positive he hadn't seen before, "No."
The creature grinned, amusement in its eyes, "My name is Cell, and I too, am an android."
Seventeen finally regained his composure, "Careful Sixteen! He's more powerful than he looks!" Sixteen took a fighting pose, giving a nod in his friend's direction.
"Oh, are you going to fight me?" Cell asked with a chuckle, "Very well then, let's get it on."
Sixteen leapt forward, intending to punch Cell's face, but the monster blocked the attack with his forearm. Another fist followed the first swing's lead, but Cell copied his motions as well, successfully stopping the attack. Cell's arms twisted around, grabbing Sixteen's forearms and pulling them together swiftly, knocking their heads. Slightly dazed, Sixteen stumbled back, shaking his head to clear it. He tried to kick with his right foot, but Cell grabbed it. He started to twist so Sixteen turned his body as well to avoid pain. He was upside down on his hands when he finally lifted his leg and kicked Cell in the gut. Surprised, Cell let go of Sixteen's foot, taking a step back to massage his injury. With a glare, Cell blurred in front of Sixteen, punching him hard in the jaw. The android was knocked back a couple of feet, groaning at the ache in his face.
Cell turned his attention back to Seventeen, "We will finish this. I have waited too long to toy around."
Seventeen put himself into a defensive stance, "I'll never give up without a fight!"
Cell licked his lips in anticipation, "That's good. A little fun and a taste of perfection all in one." He crouched low, ready to lunge, when Sixteen's arms wrapped around him, squeezing him tight.
"Leave Seventeen alone!" Sixteen demanded. The other android would have none of it, flipping them both over so that Sixteen slammed into the ground, Cell on top of him. Cell's tail helped him push away from Sixteen as his true intent was still waiting an attack.
Cell leapt forward, aiming to punch Seventeen's face, though the android was able to dodge. He spun around, trying to kick Cell in the face, though he too missed his opponent. Cell did a punch and kick combo, successfully landing a hit on the black-haired man. Stumbling to the side, Seventeen threw a ki ball at the other android, causing Cell to grunt in pain. Seventeen launched into the air, dealing out a series of ki blasts toward his enemy, which left Cell's overall damage amount at a minimal despite how hard Seventeen tried.
Suddenly, Cell was gone from his vision and Seventeen was knocked to the ground. Stumbling to catch his balance, he was unable to see anything but the ground and his feet. He heard Cell curse as another ki blast hit him, this time coming from Sixteen. Cell launched one back at the red-head who barely rolled out of the way in time. Seventeen, finally regaining his strength, stood and turned around to see Cell with his tail pointed at him.
"Seventeen!" Sixteen shouted, launching off the ground to knock Cell away, but the android flexed his ki, blowing him several meters into the distance. Seventeen gathered his ki and let a large ball loose on Cell, shocked to find that it barely scratched the android. Stepping backwards, he tried a kick, but Cell didn't even flinch.
"What in the!?" Seventeen gasped, scared and baffled all at once. The tail's tip opened wide and Seventeen didn't know exactly what to think except that it seemed rather gross.
"No! Seventeen!" Sixteen screamed, pushing himself up off of the ground. The black-haired man attempted to stop Cell, but all of his attacks were useless. Sixteen got up, feeling slightly dizzy as he supposed he hit his head a bit too hard, "Seventeen, run!" The android turned, trying to get away, but Cell's tail lunged and grabbed him like a snake after a rat. Sixteen tackled Cell as hard as he could, but he only ended up hurting himself. The android forced Seventeen up his tail while he threw Sixteen as hard as he could, watching with a smile as the android became a speck in the sky. He shivered in delight, feeling perfection coming closer.
Sixteen crashed into the patio furniture, luckily hurting the furniture more than hurting himself. Eighteen rushed to his side, worry and panic in her features, "Where's Seventeen!?"
Sixteen let his eyes focus, "I'm sorry, Eighteen."
The blond curled her hands into fists, "No! Don't give me that! Where is Seventeen!?"
Sixteen rubbed his temple slightly as his vision blurred again, "I think I have a concussion.."
Eighteen slapped him hard across the face, "Damnit, Sixteen! Where is Seventeen!?"
An odd voice answered her, "Don't worry, you'll soon be joining him soon."
The blond spun around to see what looked similar to her previous attacker, "What! Who are you and what have you done to Seventeen!?"
The new and improved Cell grinned wickedly at her, "I'm Cell, we've fought briefly before. As for your brother, he is now part of me. As you shall soon be."
Eighteen's eyes widened in terror, "No!"
Cell chuckled, his tail moving upward, "Oh yes. You see, Androids Seventeen and Eighteen were meant to be absorbed by me, to give me perfection. I was programmed to do this."
Eighteen quickly rubbed her sleeve against her face to remove any tears that had escaped, "You can expand beyond your programming like we have!"
Cell's grin didn't leave his face, "Perhaps. But I do not wish to." Eighteen ground her teeth together, taking a defensive stance.
"No, Eighteen, run!" Sixteen demanded, standing up and pushing her.
Cell growled at him, "You're a bit persistent aren't you? Well, you're also a bit annoying. Let's see how you'll handle this!" Cell turned his body at an angle, moving his hands back, "Ka...me...ha...me...haaa!!" Sixteen put his arms up to block the blast, though it was too much for him to take, much less deflect. The blast ripped through him, tearing him into two jagged pieces. Groaning, Sixteen complained about being made too humanoid as he fell to the ground with a distinct clatter of metallic parts. Though he wouldn't die unless his head was destroyed, the pain he felt almost made him wish he was dead.
Cell turned to capture the other android only to find her as a speck in the sky. "She'll never get away from me in time," Cell muttered with a shake of his head, "Pathetic how they try." Cell promptly flew off into the distance. A few moments later, two figures appeared.
"G-Goku," Sixteen stuttered, trying to crane his head for a better view.
Goku gasped as he saw the condition the android was in, "Oh my god! Sixteen!"
The red-head attempted to chuckle and only ended up coughing instead, "Don't worry, I can be repaired. You must go find Eighteen, she is in danger."
Goku's eyebrows furrowed, "What?"
Sixteen coughed again, "Cell..he's attacking her. He's going to absorb her."
"Cell!? But we destroyed him when he was still incubating in the lab! I saw it with my own eyes!" Goku protested, unable to believe his ears.
"I do not understand it myself, Goku, but it is true," Sixteen said, groaning quietly and wincing.
With a fierce nod, Goku stood up and turned to Piccolo, "I want you to take Sixteen inside to Bulma and then gather everyone up! Go get some senzu beans as well, and please talk to Kami! He might know more about this than us." Piccolo nodded, picking up the two halves of the android as Goku blasted into the air. The Saijin felt a faint ki signature towards the north, deciding it was best to follow that.
Piccolo carefully rushed through the hallways before he finally gave up and called out, "BULMA! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!"
The blue-haired lady's voice came from the distance, "Well! What kind of greeting is that!? Totally uncalled for and-" She froze when Piccolo came into view. She rushed to his side, "Oh my god! What happened!?"
Piccolo set Sixteen down as gently as he could, "A fight. Fix him up, I've got to go. If you see Trunks, or Zarbon, tell them to go to Kami's lookout."
Bulma hefted up Sixteen with difficulty, "Okay.."
Piccolo rushed out the door and blasted off into the skies at top speed, and within a matter of minutes, he landed in front of Master Roshi's house. He threw open the door and shouted inside, "Everyone! Go to Kami's NOW!" He didn't wait for a reply, merely taking off again. His next stop would be the most difficult, but he had already formulated a plan in his mind on how to handle it. Landing next to Goku's house, he crept around to Gohan's window, carefully pulling it open. "Hey kid," Piccolo greeted the demi-Saijin who was studying, "You got some spare time? We have to save the world."
Gohan leapt up, retrieving a box that was under his bed. "It's begun already? How bad is it?" Gohan asked as he quickly changed into the battle gear he had acquired on Namek.
"I'm not sure. Android Sixteen is badly injured," Piccolo informed, still leaning half way into the room.
Gohan nodded and leapt into the outside world, "Let's go." They both made their way into the sky, stopping briefly to pick up some senzu beans. In a matter of minutes, the entire group of the Z warriors were gathered.
"Hey Kami! Tell us what's up!" Piccolo demanded, setting his feet onto the stone floor.
The older Namek seemed grave, "It's worse than I feared."
Piccolo growled a bit, baring his teeth as he spoke, "I know - it's Cell! Now tell us something we don't know!"
Kami seemed a bit irritated by Piccolo's impatience, "Cell has the ability to absorb living creatures. Though he has already done so, what I failed to see is that Cell can absorb other androids as well."
Piccolo grit his teeth, knowing they had little time to act, "Get on with it!"
Kami sighed harshly, "Cell has already absorbed Android Seventeen. He is after Android Eighteen at this very moment. I'm afraid even in this form he is more powerful than all of us."
There was a brief period of silence.
"So what do we do?" Krillin asked quietly.
"Yeah, exactly," Yamcha added, "If he's more powerful than us, what can we do?"
Kami bowed his head for a moment before he looked up at Piccolo, "I believe that if we fuse we will have a chance at winning this."
Piccolo took a step back in surprise before he folded his arms, "No way, old man. I won't do it."
Kami took a few steps forward until he was in front of Piccolo, he then placed his hand on his shoulder, "Piccolo, please don't put personal feelings in between us and victory. I have thought a great deal about this. If you and I fuse you will not only be stronger, but smarter."
Piccolo huffed, looking elsewhere for a moment, "I don't know about this."
Kami tilted his head so he looked into Piccolo's eyes, "Please, Piccolo. Think about this as well: if you die in this battle then the dragonballs will disappear."
The younger Namek shook his head, "If I become stronger and still die, then the dragonballs will still disappear."
Kami smirked a bit, "Not necessarily. You see, I've already thought about this." Kami shifted his position, removing his hand from Piccolo's shoulder, "I had Mr. Popo retrieve all seven dragonballs. My plan is to summon the dragon and have someone wished to be taken to the new Namek. From there they can find a new guardian and bring them home."
Piccolo thought the plan over in his head, "I think it's half-baked, but I guess it's our only option. So who's up to going to Namek?"
Yamcha raised his hand in the air, "I would. I was dead last time so I wasn't able to see it. Besides, I wouldn't do much in this fight."
Kami nodded, turning to him, "Than you may go. This is a solo mission. Now we just need to make the wish." The elder Namek went inside for a moment before returning with Mr. Popo and the seven dragonballs, which were carried by the servant's magic carpet. The ornate rug lowered to the ground and the process of summoning the dragon began.
Goku finally caught sight of two figures, triple-checking to make sure he had his ki masked. It was Eighteen alright, and Goku assumed the strange creature that was chasing after her was Cell. 'Dr. Gero sure didn't do good in the looks department,' Goku thought to himself as he made sure to keep himself hidden from sight. Cell reminded him of a cross between a frog, an insect of some sort, and a human. His eyes noticed Cell's tail and he paled slightly as the tip reminded him of a needle. Shuddering, he crept closer and closer, impressed that Eighteen was holding her own.
"Give it up!" Cell roared with delight, "You will become a part of me eventually!"
Eighteen leapt back, barely able to escape as Cell lunged for her again, "Yeah, well, Seventeen would never give up!"
Cell paused and landed, putting his hands on his hips, "Is that what you're worried about? I can let you talk to him." Eighteen blinked, unsure of the entire situation. There was a pause before Cell opened his mouth again, his voice sounding just like Seventeen's, "Hey, Eighteen. It's really me, Seventeen. I want to tell you not to be afraid like I was. Being absorbed isn't a bad thing, Eighteen, really. I thought it'd be bad too, but it isn't. It feels awesome to be this strong, Eighteen. Please..join me..."
Goku could sense the trickery a mile away - which was rather accurate considering his distance from the pair - and he cursed mentally. 'Don't do it, Eighteen,' Goku attempted to tell her telepathically, though he knew it would probably have no effect at all, 'He's lying, Eighteen! Don't believe him!'
The blond seemed to think about it for a moment before she took up a fighting stance, "You're lying! Seventeen would've never given up his freedom, even if it was for more power! Idiot! Why do you think he killed Dr. Gero!?"
Cell frowned, grinding his heel into the dirt, "Fine. I see we'll have to do this the hard way." They stared at each other for a moment before he began to circle. Nervous, Eighteen made sure to keep her distance from him, and especially his tail, which had tried to grab her on more than one occasion. The green android finally made his move, leaping at her with a howl. She ducked and dropped onto her hand for balance, swinging her leg around and tripping him. Continuing her motion, she let herself spin around as she got to her feet, backing away from Cell again.
She prayed for a distraction, so that she could flee and hide. She wondered momentarily how Cell had found them at Capsule Corp anyway. He slowly got to his feet, keeping a keen eye on his prey. He leapt again, attempting to grab her though she leapt to her side, rolled, and got to her feet again. It seemed that even though Cell was stronger now, he wasn't faster than Eighteen. Growling, the larger android made another lunge, which turned out to be a failure.
"Damn you!" he cursed, sending a ki blast at her. She gasped and put her arms up to block it, though she fell back a few feet. Cell charged, his tail lifting high. Her eyes wide with shock, she barely rolled out of the way in time as the tail smashed into the ground where she used to be. Goku kept crawling a bit closer and closer, being extremely cautious. The blond let out a blast at Cell's head which he simply batted away. Surprised, Eighteen scrambled backwards, somehow managing to get to her feet. She let out another blast which, again, was swatted away like it was nothing. Desperately, she tried over and over, but she didn't even scratch the other android. Finally, panting, she gave up, merely stepping back and away from Cell. His tail moved into position, ready to make the final move.
"NO!" she screamed racing towards him in a last ditch effort. Her fists flew at him faster than before, but she was only lucky enough to land a few punches before Cell grabbed her arms to hold her still. Giving a yelp, she struggled to get free, "Let me go!" Goku stood up, ready to make his move when suddenly the sky turned completely black.
'What!?' Goku thought, looking up as erratic lighting crossed the sky, 'Someone's calling the dragon??'
Cell looked around, wondering what was going on as well. The only person who didn't get distracted seemed to be Eighteen who slipped free from Cell's grasp and began to run. Cell made a lunge for her, but dirt was kicked up into his eyes by a ki blast that disturbed the ground. Cussing, Cell rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision. Eighteen fled into a nearby forest, running as fast as she could. In a matter of seconds, the sky cleared, and Cell could also see again. He shouted in frustration, "Damnit! Which way did she go!?" Taking to the skies, he guessed a direction and blasted off.
Yamcha appeared on a strange planet with a green sky. He didn't have time to truly look around as he had appeared in the middle of a village. A crowd instantly gathered, one Namek stepping forward, "Are you friend or foe?"
Yamcha rubbed the back of his head, nervous, "A friend, you guys. A friend of Goku's in fact."
The Nameks instantly brightened. "You know Goku?" one asked excitedly.
Yamcha nodded, a warm smile on his face, "Knew him since he was a kid. I came here over serious matters, however." His expression dropped a bit, "You see, some android named Cell is attacking the Earth. Kami and Piccolo are going to fuse so we need a new Guardian of Earth. Would anyone like to volunteer?"
A young boy's voice called from the back, "I would!" The crowd parted, making way for the boy.
"My name is Dende and I'd love to help out your people like you have mine!" the small Namek announced, running up to Yamcha.
"That's great, kid! You think you can make a set of dragonballs though?" the desert bandit said teasingly.
The Elder Namek spoke up, "Though Dende is young, he blessed with the special gift of healing people, and keeping a cool head. He will make a fine guardian."
Yamcha cheered as it seemed luck was smiling upon him, "Alright then, we have to go!" Yamcha reached into his pocket and removed the dragon radar. Clicking it on, he gave directions to each dragon ball, hoping for a hasty leave.
Meanwhile, on Earth, another was about to depart. "Goodbye Mr. Popo," Kami said with a small, reassuring smile, "You're been a good friend all these years, but this is something that I must do."
The black man had tears running down his cheeks; he gave a nod, "I understand, Kami. I'll miss you so very, very much."
The old Namek gave a nod, "Do not worry, there will be a new guardian to look after soon enough."
Kami composed himself and turned towards Piccolo, "Are you ready?"
The younger man nodded, "Yeah, I'm not to sure what to do though."
Kami closed his eyes briefly, preparing himself, "Open your hand and place it on my chest."
Piccolo hesitantly reached forward, his palm pressing against Kami's chest, "Now what...?"
The older Namek smiled warmly, "I shall do the rest." Piccolo jolted slightly as it felt like electricity was running through him. Not a painful amount, but enough to make him jump. Both of their bodies began to glow white. Piccolo's eyes shut tightly as the surge intensified, coursing through every vein inside his body. The glow grew brighter, radiating with intensity. It seemed overwhelming and consuming, and Piccolo ground his teeth together at the incredibly odd sensation that surged through him. There was a rather small flash, and then, the light was gone, along with Kami. The late guardian's staff fell onto the stone floor with a clunk. Piccolo collapsed onto one knee, panting slightly.
"Piccolo, are you ok?" Gohan asked quietly, looking terribly worried at the condition his mentor was in.
"Yes," Piccolo replied after a moment, "I think I finally am." Mr. Popo picked up Kami's staff, holding back tears as his long time friend was now gone.
"Let's hope Yamcha gets back soon," Krillin pointed out, unsure of what to make of the newly transformed Piccolo.
"We're going to have to act first," Piccolo stated, gaining everyone's full attention, "Goku is out there by himself chasing after Cell, you all better catch up. I'll be fine here, I'll clue Yamcha in when he gets here." The Z warriors turned to leave when Zarbon and Trunks landed.
"Hey, what's going on?" Trunks asked, looking around in confusion, "I just stepped in and Bulma said to come here. I ran into Zarbon on the way so I brought him along."
Piccolo was as brief as possible, "Kami and I fused. Yamcha went to the new Namek to get a new guardian. Cell absorbed Android Seventeen. Goku has gone after Cell alone. Cell is after Eighteen. Any questions?" Trunks blinked slowly to clear his head..he would have never dreamed that he'd end up trying to save the androids' lives!
With a defeated sigh, Trunks gave a nod, "Right. We better go help Goku as everything seems under control here."
Goku debated for a moment whether he should follow after Eighteen, or Cell. 'I'd be no good to Eighteen and I could even expose her with my ki,' Goku thought for a moment, 'I should go after Cell and distract him if he gets too close to her.' Over viewing his plans again, he leapt into the air, going after Cell. The first few minutes were what would be considered normal for the situation. Cell looked back and forth while cursing to himself, and Goku carefully followed behind. However, Cell abruptly stopped in mid-air.
'Oh shit,' Goku stopped as well, 'He knows he's being followed.' Putting two fingers to his forehead he disappeared exactly when Cell spun around. The large green android surveyed the surrounding area to make sure he was alone when he spotted some company nearby. His lips upturned into a vicious smirk as he dove down faster than most of the Z fighters would've been able to see.
'Oh shit! No!' Goku swore to himself again, watching from the distance in mute terror as Cell dove down. Even if he used his instant transmission, it'd be too late. Eighteen heard a slight buzzing and turned to find the source when a shadow overcast her. The last image she saw before she was enveloped in darkness was that of Cell's evil grin. Goku cursed for a few seconds, blaming himself completely for not taking action sooner, 'Damnit! I'm sorry, Kami! Please forgive me, everyone!'
He watched as Cell's body began its metamorphosis, energy dancing around him like lightning, a glow encasing him and growing brighter by the second. 'He's so strong!' Goku gaped as wild winds tousled his hair, 'My god....he's so strong!' Cell's maniacal laughter was sent through the landscape nearby, the hills echoing the strange half-transformed voice, adding to the eeriness it already possessed. Goku watched, his mind desperately trying to decide on what to do. He was about to make the leap into Super Saijin mode when he faintly heard someone call his name. Spinning around he saw his fellow fighters approaching. "Stay back!" he warned, flying towards them, "Don't let him see you yet!"
The group drew back towards the ground, keeping a wary eye on the newest android. "Goku, what are we going to do??" Krillin asked, his voice hiding his panic. He, as well as the other warriors, could sense how powerful Cell was, and it was more intense than all of them combined.
"He's not expecting us to all attack at once," Goku threw out, running a nervous hand through his hair, "So we'll split up and charge him."
Trunks looked at the ground for a moment, then over at Cell, "Do you think that's wise? Goku, I don't think that even both of us would be able to kill him.." The full-blooded Saijin tugged at his ebony locks in frustration, "I can't think of a better plan to do! It's now or never, guys!"
The storm vanished as quickly as it came, and the group peered over at the newly transformed creature. 'He looks so human now,' Goku thought to himself, being captured by the hard, red eyes.
Zarbon finally spoke up, "I'll go in first, Goku. I'll give you the best distraction that I can."
The Saijin tensed briefly at the sound of the alien's deep voice, "Alright then. Zarbon, attack him head on from the north. Tien and Trunks, I want you coming it at angles towards Cell's sides, head in a southern direction. Krillin and Gohan, I want you to keep your distance and attack with your ki from angles facing north. I'll come in directly behind him. Got it?" The group nodded in agreement. "Then go, Zarbon!" Goku gestured for him to leave, the alien blasting off. "Let's move guys!" Goku said before leaping into take position towards the south.
Cell flexed his new body, looking at it in admiration, 'I feel as light as a feather!' He did a few experimental punches and kicks, chuckling with elation at the ease of his actions. A movement caught his eye and he looked up in time to see a fist flying at him. He leaned back and grabbed the arm that swung past him, pulling the attacker closer as his other hand flew into their gut. Zarbon grunted in pain, refusing to give up so easily; he hooked his leg around Cell's and attempted to pull the android down. Cell grabbed his other arm and twisted him around, causing Zarbon to fall to the earth. He was about to make some taunting remark when a ki blast hit him, causing little to no damage. Glaring, he turned to see a short, bald human with his palms outstretched towards him.
"How pathetic, Krillin!" Cell called out, charging up a ki blast of his own. A moment later a body slammed into him from his left side and a ki blast grazed his head. Stumbling, he was able to catch himself to find that Tien was the one who was latching onto him. He growled lowly, about to swat the three-eyed man away when someone else elbowed his back. A swift kick was made to the back of his knee, causing him to falter, and then, an astounding kick sent him flying forward.
Shaking his head, Cell realized he needed to be more accustomed to his new transformation, 'So they want to play with fire, huh? Don't they know that when you play with fire you always get burned?' Flexing his ki, he blew the weakest of the Z fighters out of the immediate area. Goku, Trunks, and Zarbon were those that remained.
Goku spun around towards the teen, "Trunks, now is not the time to keep secrets, you understand!?" The demi-Saijin gave a quick nod before he closed his eyes, gathering his ki. With a small explosion of energy, Trunks let his hair flair to life with flowing gold; an aura radiated around his body. Visions of the evil androids in his time flooded Trunks' mind as he charged towards Cell, overwhelmed by the abrupt emotions. The android looked at the teen with a unimpressed expression, spinning around at the last second and kicking Trunks' side, sending him sprawling into the dirt.
"You aren't even powerful enough to keep me entertained," Cell said in disgust, marching over and placing his foot on Trunks' head, "Ah, Trunks, so good to see you again, by the way."
Trunks wished to rub the dirt out of eyes, and he growled in between his coughing, "I don't know you, you bastard."
Cell leaned, shifting his weight onto his foot, causing the purple-haired man to cry out in pain, "Yes, I'd assume so since I killed you where I come from. I guess meddling with the time stream has caused this to happen. I'll give your mother your regards, Trunks. Her name was Bulma, wasn't it? Such a weak woman... Hmm...And now that your father is alive, I'll be sure to send your dying words to Vegeta as well."
Zarbon's eyes widened in confusion, 'What is that freak of nature talking about??'
Goku's voice rang out with anger, "That's enough, Cell! Leave Trunks alone!" Cell looked at the other Super Saijin, a smirk upon his face.
He ground his foot against Trunks just a bit to anger Goku even more, "Ah...Goku. The hero who saves the day. I hate to break it to you, my friend, but you are no match for me."
The Saijin took up a battle stance, "We'll see. Now leave him alone!"
Cell tsked, waving a finger as he ground his foot against Trunks' face, "You're in no position to make demands, Goku. You know as well as I do that I'm stronger. That's why you had everyone attack at once, isn't it?"
Goku grit his teeth in frustration, "Fight me and you'll see."
The android sighed, a grin spreading across his lips, "I suppose I shall." He lifted his foot to kick Trunks into a nearby tree. The teen clutched his head in one hand and his stomach in the other, wishing for the pounding to stop. It felt like that kick alone snapped a few ribs, and his head wasn't in any better condition.
Swiftly, Cell launched himself at Goku, his fist slamming into the young Saijin's jaw with a sickening crack. Feeling thick, warm blood enter his mouth, Goku stumbled back to find Cell launching another attack. He attempted to block with his left arm, but when Cell's punch connected with the flesh, Goku yelped as he felt the bone shatter. Dear gods! Cell was so powerful he would tear him apart like tissue paper!
Taking a few steps back to regain his composure, Goku spit out a mouthful of blood. His eyes hardened and he glared up at the android, thinking, 'I'm not going to let you do this, Cell. I'm not going to let you hurt everyone I care about. I have lived in this nightmare my whole life, and I'm not going to let you take this all away when I've worked so hard for it!' With a roar, Goku's aura burst into life, his body phasing out only to appear in front of Cell's, his fist connecting with the android's nose.
Stunned, Cell placed a hand over the throbbing appendage. Making the mistake of blinking, Goku gained quite a few hits on his chest and stomach. A roundhouse kick was served in retaliation, but Cell moved up to block it. After doing so, he dropped down to the ground and kicked up with his feet, hitting Goku square in the chin. Another rush of blood filled the Saijin's mouth, and he stumbled, falling flat on his back, his head slamming into a rock. Vision blurred for a moment as his eyes began to throb dully with pain, the back of his head voicing its complaint as well. Fumbling around, not truly aware of what was going on, Goku somehow found his way onto his feet.
He blinked to clear away the fogginess and found a large ki ball in front of Cell's hand, aimed directly towards him. His mouth opened to say something though there was nothing to say. God...this was it? It was all over already...?
A voice shouted over the ache of his body and the heat of the battle, "Kakkarot, you idiot!" Goku blinked, completely convinced the voice was a figment of his own imagination. He saw Cell release the ki blast, and he was prepared for impact when his body was suddenly pushed roughly out of the way. He fell onto his side and looked up in time to see the blast smash into someone he didn't expect to see there. There was Vegeta. Vegeta. Vegeta was taking the blast that was intended for him. Oh god..Vegeta...!
The prince could not even scream at the pain it was that powerful. For the briefest second he wondered why he had done this, but it was lost amongst the flood of agony that overcame his body. The blast tore at him, shredded him, like a vicious, angry monster, using its claws to tear him apart, and open, layer by layer. Then, the energy stopped its assault, and gasping, Vegeta fell to the ground.
Goku could only stare for a moment, his breath ragged as he looked over the battered man. His midsection was torn clean open, blood splattered across his clothes, the smell of burnt flesh thick in the air. "V-Vegeta!!" Goku screamed in terror, crawling over to the smaller man, "Vegeta! Why!?" The prince choked on a response, finding difficulty in breathing. A burn came to Goku's eyes, "Damnit, you ---!! Just hold on!!" With newfound power, the Super Saijin immediately launched an attack on the android, his thoughts swirling out of control, 'I'll kill you for hurting him!!'
Cell hissed as he felt a bone in his face crack under Goku's assaulting fist. Rearing back, he aimed a kick towards the hero which Goku narrowly missed. "Makankosappo!" a gruff voice shouted, a large beam blasting Cell down into the earth. Goku paused momentarily to see who it was that had joined him.
Seeing Piccolo, he yelled out orders, "Go help the injured!" Cell snarled as he leapt to his feet, throwing a ki blast towards the Namek while doing so. Piccolo was able to avoid it and he moved his way down towards the nearest person, which was Vegeta. Goku landed another punch, satisfied when a spray of blood began to stream from Cell's nose. Suddenly, Goku found himself tumbling across the ground, his ribs crying out with each roll. Growling, the android blasted Piccolo away from Vegeta, the ki forcing its way through the Namek's body, leaving a half-dollar sized hole in his chest. He noticed the approaching kis of the others, and prepared to get rid of them all.
Krillin leapt forward to be knocked back a moment later with a broken arm included. Tien found himself in a similar situation, as his one leg no longer had use. Zarbon was next with various injuries severe enough to incapacitate him. Gohan seemed to be the only one strong enough to get past the creature's defenses as he grabbed Cell's tail and slammed him into the ground. Goku leapt into the air as Gohan let out a flurry of ki blasts at the android, before he too, was swatted away.
The young full-blooded Saijin came down with astounding speed, expecting to thrust his elbow into Cell's gut when all he found was dirt. Spinning around, it was already too late as a fist knocked his head to the side, making the world spin out of control. "I guess I will toy with you a bit longer," Cell murmured, kicking Goku repeatedly in the side, earning a painful cry each time he did so.
Krillin pulled himself up, wheezing a bit, "Guys...we have to....do something....otherwise...Goku..."
Tien moaned, clutching his broken limb, "What can we do...Krillin? I hurt so much...I can barely move..."
Krillin looked over at Trunks, "Hey...Trunks......Trunks!....Trunks?" Blinking, the human realized that the teenager was unconscious. He fixed his gaze onto Zarbon to see that the alien was in just as bad condition as the rest of them. It seemed like this was it.
Vegeta rasped for air, wondering why he just didn't give up and let death take him. It would definitely be better than what he was feeling right now, that was for certain. 'Too bad,' he thought, a smirk tugging on his rapidly cooling lips, 'I wanted to be modern art when I died.'
Goku's cries rang out louder as the android continued to beat and torture him for personal amusement. Vegeta strained to see what was going on, only to find that no one was helping the Saijin. 'If I just sit here..he'll die..' the prince thought, his expression blanking out, becoming void of emotion. He had a choice now: do something or die as a pathetic loser.
Clenching his teeth, the older Saijin held his breath as he forced his legs to bend, 'Ah..so...the blast didn't ruin my spinal cord.' Shaking, the prince pulled himself up, using sheer will power, 'I can't let that idiot die because of some stupid suped-up tin can.' His arms pushed himself up into a sitting position, his legs shifted with his feet on the ground, and whining, he began to force himself up. He knew he wouldn't survive this, but perhaps he could atone. His body was damaged beyond repair. He felt cold, but knew he was sweating. The pain became numb, and the lack of feeling somehow hurt.
Krillin saw a figure rise up in the distance, 'Vegeta...? Good lord, there's hope!'
The prince stood and stumbled, gasping in mixture pain and shock. His hands caught some of his entrails as they spilled out of him, dangling over the ground. Blood flowed up his throat and out his mouth, thick, warm, and metallic. He lifted it back inside, and kept one hand over his wound, securely holding in his organs. Crimson seemed to be the only color in sight. 'Stupid body..' he berated, his breaths irregular, yet oddly silent. His feet slid one in front of the other in an odd limp. He heard Cell's laugh, cold and maniacal like his own had once been. When he had laughed. He never truly laughed. Goku was curled up in a bruised and bloody mess, somehow still retaining his Super Saijin form.
A memory of the younger Saijin slipping on ice and falling on his ass came to the brunette. He did laugh.
Vegeta drew forth from the endless well of anger he possessed, his one hand clenching his intestines unknowingly, while the other curved in a slightly different form. He could only smell, taste, and feel his own blood as a maelstrom of rage filled him, consuming the empty spaces within him for the briefest of moments. The glow of energy extended from Vegeta's one hand as he dragged himself closer and closer to his target. The laughs Cell gave, and the painful moans Goku replied with, caused the prince to have tunnel vision. There was nothing left but the burning hatred he held onto, this burning that was tearing him apart. His hand lunged forward and Cell stopped his assault on the younger Saijin. Abruptly, everything became quiet.
Vegeta withdrew his sword, watching as the android bled blood, though it was purple. It was a disappointment. Slowly, the creature turned around, his eyes wide with surprise, "Vegeta...?" The prince strived to intake air, his black eyes boring into Cell's and telling him things that the android thought no one would dare speak to him. The eyes contained more burning desire to kill than Cell himself could ever produce, and surprised, he found he could not move. He could hear Vegeta's voice, albeit the Saijin did not speak: 'You do not touch Kakkarot without my permission. Your crimes are punishable by death.'
Vegeta inhaled deeply, releasing his battle roar. The sound was purely animalistic: deep, guttural, yet somehow beautiful in its own way. It would also be the last thing the android would ever hear, as Vegeta swung his arm sideways with unparalleled speed. There was a moment's pause before Cell's head slid and rolled away from his tumbling body. Cringing, and with eyes half-lidded, Vegeta gathered the last of his energy dutifully. He growled at his body's protests, but was able to release the ki onto his enemy, eliminating every last cell. Immediately, the brunette collapsed, his sword fading out of existence.
Goku forced his eyes open and begged for his ears to stop ringing. It felt like every part of him was on fire, and burning him from the inside out. His eyes caught a figure near him. A figure? Who was it...? A smaller figure than himself, with dark brown vertical spikes.. Vegeta! Vegeta was here! He felt himself inwardly smile as his body wouldn't allow for it to physically happen at the moment. 'Wait,' he thought to himself, as his memory began to return.
His voice was hoarse and scratchy as he shouted out, "Vegeta!?" Pulling himself towards the older man he felt panic seep into him, "Vegeta!?" There was no response. Grabbing the prince and pulling him into an embrace, he nearly collapsed from exhaustion, "Hold on, Vegeta! It's going to be okay, I promise!" He looked around in desperation.
"Don't you fucking die on me!" Kakkarot demanded of his prince.
A/N: Goku fell temporarily unconscious during the time when Cell stopped beating him due to Vegeta's attack. Much thanks to Chibi Vegeta. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.
Part Nine |