Chapter 98 - Earth-Shatteringly Fateful Negotiations
Beneath the feet of the two combatants, the ground cracked, shattered, and crumbled. The mere force of their blows — a maddeningly fast exchange of punches, kicks, parries, and grapples — released enough physical force to reduce the scorched wasteland underneath Gohan and Cell to a crater large enough to house a small city within moments. Cell's face was contorted into a maddening grin. Gohan's into contempt. As Gohan dodged an incoming strike, he retaliated, his own blow being deftly avoided by the twisting of Cell's torso.
So crushing was their physical strength that even the blows Gohan and Cell avoided cracked the air like a whip, sonicbooms, explosions of force ripping through the sky. Gohan leapt over Cell, cutting across the air prior to rebounding, a single forward straight which Cell turned right into. The Bio-Android barely managed a parry, their colliding limbs creating an invisible eruption beneath them, chunks of stone dissolving from the sheer force. A second blow. A third. A fourth. Gohan repeatedly struck Cell's exoskeleton, not finding purchase and suddenly finding himself forced back by a kiai with hurricane force winds. Without a single second wasted, Saiyan-half and Bio-Android lunged violently towards each other, clashing briefly, splitting apart, and re-colliding, each trying to overcome the other in power, only to find themselves equal in strength and unable to own up to the task.
Their thinking following the same lines, Gohan and Cell coated their hands in brimming ki, two fists crushing together in a violent explosion of flames and sparks. Both combatants jumped out of the encircling blaze, barely scuffed, skidding along the crater to opposite edges. Cell rose to his feet first, clenching his dominant arm at his side, his free hand clenched like a demon's talons. A single thrust was all it took to elongate his arm like a snake. It gripped Gohan by the face, forcing him high into the sky and into the distance. Cell lifted off, his wings spread, pushing Gohan through the sky, before recoiling his arm back like a whip, loosing Gohan towards the Earth like an arrow.
Forcibly righting himself, Gohan took the second needing to orient his senses, realising that the locale had changed entirely. No longer were they in the charred remains of a cityscape. Instead, Gohan could hear the rushing of water, smell the scent of trees and hear birds taking flight. Cell had forced him entirely to the other side of the planet, and it seemed that a portion of Earth had escaped Cell's rain of hellfire. The Bio-Android noticed this too, scoffing slightly as he descended. He and Gohan were now floating over a sparkling, crystal-clear lake, the body of water being fed by a massive waterfall from up above.
Cell turned his attention to his enemy, briefly blocking out his distaste for the beauty he'd failed to destroy, simply by pure chance. "You can feel it, can't you Son Gohan?" Cell's smirk grew wider. "Around this planet, right now, your loved ones are fighting the creatures I've created. Will they make it back alive? Or will my puppets bring me their heads? Doesn't it thrill you? Excite you, even a little?" Cell's smile now showed perfectly white teeth, his pink eyes glinting. "Rather than help your family and your friends, you came to fight me first! You want this rematch as badly as I do, don't you? Fate itself has brought us together!"
It was true.
Gohan could feel it. An explosion of ki signatures at various points across the planet were igniting. Erasa. Trunks. Piccolo and Videl. Tenshinhan. Yamcha. The only ki he couldn't detect fighting was Goten, who he sensed somewhere else on Earth. Gohan grit his teeth. This was Cell's new game, wasn't it? To keep Gohan's mind occupied with thoughts of his friends and family, and while he was distracted, gain the upperhand in their battle. The Saiyan-half knew this and yet he couldn't stop dwelling on it.
He can't cost me the people I love again, Gohan thought, pulling his senses back and focusing solely on the enemy in front of him. "I'm different than I was during the Cell Games, Cell. You'll find I'm not going to make the same mistakes I did back then. Even if fate has brought us together...I'll shatter that all the same!"
"Indeed," replied Cell, no longer grinning. "Fate will no longer have a hand in our affairs, Son Gohan!"
Gohan and Cell descended next to the lake, their feet touching the forested ground. Neither had any intention of loosing a ki blast of sufficient strength yet. A grounded battle would suffice for the moment. It was Gohan who rocketed forward first, rending the ground beneath his feet into dust. His attack, at first seeming linear, threw Cell off balance momentarily when Gohan slipped from the fore to the rear, hurling his body forward in a powerful single punch, attacking Cell's flank. The Bio-Android reached out a pale hand, stopping the blow dead, nullifying the force with his own immense strength.
"That's the kind of reaction I want to see, Son Gohan!" snarled Cell, elated at Gohan's coming at him to kill. "Bring everything to bear against me so I can shatter your hopes and aspirations!"
Two sets of eyes locked with each other, one onyx, and one vivid pink. Gohan's ki flared, his alabaster aura springing to life. With that single moment of initiative, Gohan was able to push Cell backwards, forcing him to careen across the ground, carving a small trench across it. Gohan pursued, visible at first as a gust of wind more than any human figure, bringing the full weight of his strength down on Cell's flying form. The Bio-Android flipped onto his feet in time to respond to Gohan's movements. Each strike Gohan let fly, Cell parried; an incoming punch would be deflected by the flat of a pale hand, a returning swiping kick avoided barely by Gohan pulling his torso backwards, only to attempt to counter with a sweeping kick along the ground. Cell leapt over it, flipping through the air and landing backwards onto the ground, which cracked beneath him.
Cell crouched, leaning his torso right, extended his right arm forward, and raising his left to be level with his head. The Bio-Android sneered, the stance clearly a welcoming gesture for Gohan to keep up their dance.
Quick on his feet, Gohan blurred forward, meeting Cell within the blink of an eye. Cell struck within seconds, a bare palm slamming into Gohan's torso, forcing the air out of Gohan's stomach in a painful gasp. Fighting against the staggering feeling, Gohan found himself on the receiving end of a palm strike to the face, a straight kick in the stomach, and a powerful spinning kick to the chin. Cell concluded the assault with a powerful double palm blow, showing an increased level of skill and physical prowess compared to his decades-ago attempt battle with Gohan and his father.
Still reeling, Gohan thrust his arm forward in a right straight; Cell parried, using the flat of his arm to deflect the blow, pulling Gohan's offending arm forward before striking him with a bare palm blow, solidly connecting with the Saiyan-half's jaw. Cell's hand struck home in Gohan's stomach, his other hand releasing Gohan's arm in time to slip behind him and land a crushing elbow strike to the back. These blows were followed up by two powerful strikes to the torso, coupled with a finishing blow of a simple, solid punch. Gohan's body distended under the force, flying across the lake to the other side of the landmass.
His opponent wasted no time in pursuing, in time to witness Gohan crashing through several metres of forest, coming to rest only by forcing himself to drag along the emerald-hued ground, digging the soil for miles as he went. Straightening himself to full height, Gohan breathed in deeply, feeling the depths of his own ki...and his aura flared to life again. No longer simply white, it had the hallmarks of his normal aura, augmented and complimented highlights of yellow hue. Cell came to an abrupt stop, his rose-coloured eyes taking in Gohan's rising ki, and feeling the shift in the way it flowed.
"Oh?" The Bio-Android tilted his head curiously. "And here I expected you to resort to Super Saiyan. What's the matter, Gohan? I can feel it, you know — you haven't lost an ounce of your power."
"I won't need Super Saiyan for you," Gohan's voice, having recovered the air in his lungs, and his body brimming, vividly cloaked in power, rang stern and clear. He could feel it, the ki of the gods coursing through his body. It wasn't expressed as purely as Super Saiyan God, mixing the god ki in which his own regular ki, and thus it lacked the same power, but he couldn't afford to tax himself just yet. A Saiyan who had crossed over the threshold into godhood yet was not displaying the qualities. "You're no different either; just a monster, pure and simple."
"Who do you think you're kidding?" Cell spat, images of the past burning behind his eyes. A young warrior, clad in crackling, yellow ki, his hair more rigid and spiked than any Super Saiyan form Cell had seen prior to that point, and his power, absolutely overwhelming. Cell still remembered the sheer dispassionate expression on that young man's face as he was effortlessly picked apart. Toyed with. Played with by no more than a grade-schooler with all the power in the world. The impact of those blows still rang through when he slept. They filled his every waking moment in Hell; he could never forget being at another's mercy. "We're both monsters."
It was hardly the first time Cell had called him something akin to that. Gohan had never forgotten their battle, and remembered it quite vividly even now. The rush of power that had accompanied Super Saiyan 2 had awoken the purest instincts of the Saiyan from the deepest recesses of his mind. Everything he denied being — a furious, vicious warrior with a taste for combat and the desire to pick opponents apart — surged to the surface as his entire body flooded with that strength. Giving in to those emotions, he'd proceeded to pick Cell apart physically and emotionally, until it all culminated, Cell backed into a proverbial wall.
"Y-YOU ARE GONNA PAY! I'LL NEVER...NEVER LOSE...TO A THING LIKE YOU!"
Such a thing would have shaken Gohan had he been in his right mind, yet he'd paid it no heed. Shortly after that, Cell had been ready to blow himself up to bring Gohan to oblivion, and his father had to sacrifice himself make up for Gohan's mistakes. When the Earth had come under threat merely months later, and Gohan had to rely on the same power to pull out a win against the warrior Bōjakku, he could hardly say he'd been in a better state of mind. Bōjakku's power merely hadn't been worth consideration in comparison to his at the time. The Saiyan-half hoped he was a different person now than he was at those times. is mind was clearer than it had ever been. He could handle Cell now.
A flash of light followed, both Gohan and Cell discharging kikōha, one from their palm, the other, their fingertips. The blasts met in the middle, exploding and cracking the land, shaving off portions of landmass, which crumbled and slid away into the waiting waves. Even as the oceans swallowed their ring, Gohan and Cell were already moving. The aura-clad Saiyan and the Bio-Android had clashed, the dust from the explosion violently blowing away in every direction, elbows and knees crushing against each other. Pink eyes locked to onyx-hued ones, each boring into the other.
Cell's eyes suddenly widened, and it was only the subtle shift in his ki that tipped Gohan off; as the young man leaned backwards in a panic, thin razor-sharp kikoha's whizzed over him. Gohan, not one to waste momentum, brought the tip of his white boots to meet Cell's golden chin. The collision nearly dislocated his neck, but his own regeneration — far superior to Piccolo's, having been modified by Dr. Gero's supercomputer — kicked in the moment the pressure eased, restoring his neck to it's normal state. The Bio-Android brought his arm downward even as he was forced upwards; from his index and middle finger, an explosive line of ki rushed forth. Gohan barely managed to twist his body, spinning out of the way. The ki cut through another section of the landmass, continuing across the ocean and into the horizon. Gohan didn't need to look behind him to know — this was Freeza's technique, one capable of carving planets. The ocean itself had been split in two, leaving a deep, rushing waterfall on both sides.
"Freeza's Great Earth-Splitting Cutter is definitely pleasing to use. Even if I held back on that one, I suppose we should be grateful our little insignificant ball of dirt and water hasn't crumbled. Isn't that right, Son Gohan?"
"Tch...!" Gohan had no retort to this, or perhaps he didn't want to give Cell the satisfaction. The planet was something they had to think about every time they battled — Gohan because it was his world to protect, the planet where the family and friends he loved so dearly lived, and Cell because there would be no joy in a revenge that did not end with him killing Gohan personally — so he already knew that each and every one of their attacks were being angled carefully to avoid reshaping the landscape too much.
Gohan took to the sky, just as a blinding light filled Gohan's sight as Cell swept his arm horizontally through the air, releasing a volley of kikōha towards him. Bracing himself, Gohan swatted each and every blast away; some flew upwards, others downwards, and still others to the rear of him. Each and every deflection was punctuated by a vivid explosion, causing the ocean to burst into geysers of water. Through the chaos, Cell rushed Gohan, thrusting the latter with a right straight. Gohan swerved to the left, bringing a brilliantly glowing leg to meet Cell's jawline. Magnificently, Cell stood his ground, using the flat side of his arm to push Gohan's leg away , staggering the young man. Cell redoubled his efforts, an arm thrusting forward quick as lightning. An explosion resulted as Gohan caught the blow with his free hand, clenching his fist around the paler one to keep Cell from wrenching free. He placed his free palm behind the first, and widened the one gripping Cell's fist as ki began to pool between his digits.
Without even as single grunt of exertion, Gohan discharged a point blank kikōha towards Cell, igniting the sky with golden light. The following sphere that erupted seemingly swallowed them both, before being disrupted as quickly as it had formed, spreading ki out far into the horizon. When the light and smoke cleared, Gohan and Cell were floating mere feet apart, neither one significantly damaged. At the instant of the blast, Cell had released his own similar technique, cancelling out Gohan's without it being able to do proper damage to him.
A sickening smirk spread across Cell's pallid face, one Gohan knew all to well. Even without words, the intention was clear.
Is that everything?
The answer was a resounding no. Gohan burst forth, unleashing an attack so surprisingly telegraphed it caused Cell to balk, missing a step just long enough for Gohan's elbow to crash headlong into the Bio-Android's jaw. This too, was strategy, He spun in the air, bringing his heel into the side of Cell's head, slamming into the carapace; it was a testament to Dr. Gero's design that nothing cracked or gave way. Cell's rose-coloured eyes narrowed, pain racking through his body yet not enough to incapacitate him. The Bio-Android vanished from Gohan's sight, rematerialising behind him, screaming in fury. He swiped his arm over Gohan's head, the Saiyan-half ducking to avoid a blow clearly meant to decapitate him. The resulting force sent a wave of air across the ocean, pushing back the waters.
Gohan rose back quickly, striking against Cell in a furious uppercut. Cell leaned his insectoid body back, deftly avoiding a strike that was as vicious in retaliation as the very one Gohan had just avoided. He flung himself forward, leading with a thrust of the knee that Cell parried with both hands, disrupting Gohan's forward momentum enough to deflect the blow. Cell countered, his pale-white fist lodging itself firmly into Gohan's gut. Gohan's eyes rolled back, onyx-spheres giving way to white sclerae; even augmented by Whis' training, with his body having acclimated to possessing god ki, Cell was fighting evenly.
No, if Gohan was being honest, Cell might actually be sharper than he was. His blows were hitting harder. Yet Gohan wasn't going to relent. His fist stuck Cell in the golden chin, staggering him and allowing for Gohan to move over him slightly, striking him firmly in the back of the skull. With Cell on the backfoot, Gohan swiftly kicked Cell's legs, throwing his balance off entirely, before raising his bootheel into the Bio-Android's face in the same fluid motion. Cell was left splayed in the air, vulnerable for that single second, stunned from the speed and violence of the impact. Unrelenting, Gohan's right knee smashed against Cell's back, followed by his left knee bashing into the base of the Bio-Android's neck.
Cell roared in pain, literally spinning into action to counter Gohan's own assault; moving in an arc, he brought his leg downwards towards Gohan, the latter of whom countered it with the flat of his arm. His free leg brimmed with ki coating the whole foot, and Cell swiped a roundhouse kick towards Gohan. Gohan ducked beneath the ki-enhanced leg, expecting Cell to take a different method of attack...only to be thrown off guard when the same leg rebounded back. He barely managed to raise his defence, both arms bracing for the incoming lower limb. The momentum of the kick, deflected or otherwise, gave way for Cell to move in a spiral motion, swinging an arm that found itself met and countered, the crushing force of their parried blows reverberating across the world. Cell brought two white hands together, forcing Gohan to plummet quickly towards the island that had been their arena with a powerful sledgehammer blow.
Spiraling towards ground, Gohan emitted a kiai from his body to steady himself. His vision panned up in time to see light pooling around Cell, hovering high in the sky above him. Streams of light bled from between Cell's fingertips, bathing him in a jade-hued light. Despite Gohan's distance, he could hear the words from Cell's mouth, though muffled by space.
With little time to react, Gohan cupped his own hands at his sides, and he was bathed in a sapphire-hued light. The ki flowed from his palms; Gohan and Cell were differently coloured stars, two jewels floating at differently altitudes above the planet, fully capable of the world's destruction. At the same time, both combatants thrust their arms forward with a mighty bellow ("HA!"), both opponents unleashed a jade and sapphire-coloured masses of light, which would have threatened to consume the entirety of the planet had they not been focused on the single task of eradicating one man. The scope of each Super Kamehameha was massive; one misstep and the galaxy would go up in an explosion from just these techniques alone.
The two Super Kamehamehas collided with each other, crashing with surges and waves of energy as they expanded into a massive sphere, crackling with ki. Underneath the two combatants, the ocean, which had healed from Cell's attempt to slice the planet in half, churned violently. Whatever unseen natural forces kept the island held together was beginning to lose sway; cracks erupted in the land, dust billowing forth as rock crumbled and gave way. Animals, who had tried their best to remain out of sight, were now fleeing with nowhere to go.
Violent winds whipped around Gohan and Cell, each opponent fighting for dominance in this struggle of technique. Gohan grit his teeth, pouring ki into his own Super Kamehameha, gaining ground as he pushed Cell's jade-hued kikōha backwards. With a snarl, Cell reciprocated, a burst of ki strengthening his own Super Kamehameha. It fought back against Gohan's, the main flow of the sphere in the middle shifting in his favour as Gohan's own technique began to recede.
"Don't think you'll best me in the same situation again, Gohan!" growled Cell. The pulsating Kamehameha emanating from his palms enveloped Gohan's own technique and body. The Kamehameha, truly immense in its size, pierced the surface of the ocean, carrying Gohan deep beneath the waves.
The impact of Cell's Kamehameha hadn't managed to kill Gohan — the impact with the ocean, combined with Gohan's own manipulate of ki, had prevented the worst of it — yet the young man's wounded form plummeted ever deeper beneath the waves. It was a world all its own down here, separate from the goings on at the surface, if one was willing to believe it. Here, in the frigid emptiness, Gohan was entirely alone, with nothing but himself for comfort. As they both were, Cell was the stronger between the two of them. Gohan couldn't deny that any further.
"You're screwing everything up!"
This voice caused Gohan's ears to twitch. His body unmoving, eyes firmly shut and drifting further into the depth of unconsciousness, he heard it. Was this...himself? Understanding gave way to conceptualisation, and before him, within the dark waters, a manifestation of a demon flickered into form. It was a young man, clad in frayed purple ki, glowing a vivid, violent golden, with hair spiked and upright to match, leaving only a single fringe to frame his voice. His eyes were a cold, unfeeling emerald, and they stared with remarkable contempt at the man he'd become.
"What's making you so uncertain?!"
Uncertain? What do you mean...? I want Cell dead! Gone!
These thoughts were completely true, and the manifestation before him did nothing to shake them away. Gohan was filled with rage at the sight of Cell, a feeling that manifested well prior to their arrival on Earth.
"Then why fight as a mortal!? You're not the little child who got ahead of himself and let Dad die! You've become much more now!"
Dad...that's right...Cell is why Dad isn't here...why Mother spent so much time crying at night...a sensible man wouldn't be fighting so half-baked.
"Why are you holding back!?"
The manifestation seemed furious now, his younger voice reaching a fever pitch that Gohan hadn't heard come from himself in a very long time. The young man's face was no longer furious, no longer contemptuous. The only thing left in his eyes was pain. Pain, and a plea not to make the same mistake again. Those same words repeated over in his head, yet from a different person, more eloquent this time:
"It has me curious; why do you hold yourself back this way? To protect your family? To satisfy your own ego?
Or simply to oppose the notion that you may be weak?"
Was Gohan expected to suddenly enjoy fighting? Especially now, against someone like Cell, who had tried to destroy his planet and left a scar on his family for years? That was impossible, no matter who asked and how he tried to rationalise it. Half of Gohan was a Saiyan, and he knew there was a part, buried no matter how deeply, that felt some thrill from battle. Even if it was simply a sporting match, he couldn't deny that his blood didn't race, even faintly. But he wasn't his father. He wasn't Vegeta. And he couldn't be expected to be either one of them, even by his teacher.
"Then why do you fight!? You can't save anyone with a fist swung half-heartedly!"
Faces and voices flooded Gohan's mind and vision. The bright smile and shining eyes of his daughter. Pen...you have an entire future ahead of you that Papa has to protect, don't you? And here I am, failing. His mother, holding a baby he'd yet to even meet, still trying her best for their family. Goten, Trunks, Piccolo, Videl, Tenshinhan, Yamcha, Erasa's father, Marque, his grandfather, Gyūmaō, and his grandmother, Gine. All of these important family, friends, and people he had come to know, love, and had a burning desire to protect. But at the forefront of all of them, shone Erasa's face. His wife. Erasa. You're the entire reason I can come this far. You're why I'm still walking this path now. What would you tell me right now, if you were watching this? He grinned in spite of his aching body. That Pen wouldn't want to see me like this, would she? That your husband is better than this!
Glimmering gold gave way to darkness; the manifestation's power vanished, revealing nothing but a smiling, four-year old boy with a monkey tail and a Dragon Ball on his head, behind hoisted into the air by a man with spikey hair anyone would recognise, and trademark orange gi. Gohan opened his eyes, and the manifestation vanished entirely, leaving his world perfectly clear, and brimming, for the first time, with undeniable certainty. Gohan pulled himself back from the brink, ki flaring to life as the ocean raged around him. He could still sense Cell, the Bio-Android hadn't even bothered to leave the area.
Of course not. He was waiting.
Cell has descended towards what remained of the island — a surprising amount considering the damage they'd been doing — his yellow soles touching down on solid ground. He monitored the still ocean water beneath him with expectancy. He could sense Gohan's ki, even if it was fluctuating. The common sense thing to do now would be to simply fire a follow-up attack into the ocean and obliterate him, or perhaps destroy the planet now, with his prize firmly in his grasp. This was what Freeza, Piccolo, or Cold would do, certainly. But his Saiyan cells roared fiercer. Louder. They wanted the fight to continue. He hadn't proven himself over Gohan yet, and his revenge was far from complete.
So he waited. As he did, he felt ki signatures from coming towards him at differing speeds from various points around the planet. Boots and footwear of varying kind landed on the ground around Cell, faces white with shock, worked in fury, or just plain wary. Cell turned around to face the group, grinning broadly. "Ah, now these are some familiar faces!" His eyes swept over the group, lingering on Piccolo, Goten, Trunks, Tenshinhan, and Yamcha. "How time has passed since I've been gone! Tenshinhan...I see you're still kicking!" Cell greeted the man with a remarkable level of cordiality, considering their last proper meeting had nearly cost him a chance at completion. "Yamcha, I'm surprised you made it at all...though you almost look like a different man entirely."
"You're that confident then, Cell?" inquired Tenshinhan. "Speaking to us like old friends may be a mistake that costs you."
"Earth has made some big changes since Gohan wiped the floor with you," Yamcha replied, his aggressiveness overshadowing any hint of the martial arts master and instructor he now was. He was a wolf in the skin of a man, and his teeth were ready to sink into the opponent before them. "And Earthlings don't go down so easily anymore."
"So you say," replied Cell airily. "Though I did get some fairly...enthusiastic greetings earlier today. Ah, Trunks! I could have sworn I put a hole in you the last time we met. Must be those pesky Dragon Balls again."
Trunks blinked in confusion. "You've got me confused with someone else," he replied. "Though I know you well from the stories, Cell."
"I see. You're this timeline's Trunks. Far be it from me to pass up the chance to kill you a third time, boy, but it can wait. You'll have your turn. You, however," for the first time, Cell appeared genuinely confused, seeing Goten standing there. "You're not Gokū. Who are you?"
"I'm Son Goten," replied the youngest Saiyan-half, an edge to his voice. "I know about you too, Cell; my brother beat you all those years ago, didn't he?"
"Gohan's younger brother," Cell nodded. "That explains the resemblance. For a moment, I was very much hoping Gokū had come to watch his son die."
"As sadistic and cruel as ever," Piccolo butted in before Goten could rebut. "You'd think time spent in Hell would have humbled you a bit."
"Ah Piccolo," Cell sneered. "It is so nice to see my first playmate is here to see my second coming; unfortunately for you, this time, will be our last to spend together."
"Everyone, we're missing one key thing," Videl said. "Gohan isn't here. Where's Gohan?"
"He's fine," Erasa cut ahead of everyone. The shining blue eyes her daughter inherited from her bored into Cell's pink orbs. "We didn't come here to help my husband. There's no need for that, because I know he can take someone like you on when he fights at his strongest." A smile crept across her face, one born of certainty and absolute faith. "Or did you think you'd overcome him for even a moment? You were the creature that terrorised our planet way back when, weren't you? I expected better sense."
Cell inhaled sharply, irritation flickering in his eyes. "You two are the only ones I'm not familiar with, but from your words, I can assume you're mated with Gohan? Then that will make this victory even sweeter, knowing I will kill him while so many he has come to care about are here to witness it!" The irritation flashed into malicious pleasure, the Bio-Android almost beckoning them forth. "But I can easily change up the order of the executions, and slaughter each and every one of you before Gohan returns."
"You won't have to change your tidy scheduling," replied Erasa, her smile, tauntingly never leaving her face. "He's coming."
Her words seemingly gave life to an otherwise still sea, which began to bubble and froth, before exploding in a massive cloud of mist and seaspray. Gohan's figure, still gleaming white-gold, burst forth from the sea, dripping with water, singed by his struggle with Cell, yet no worse for wear. His eyes took in the sight of his friends, his family, all standing here for him, and he smiled broadly. Gohan inhaled deeply. Clearing his mind of Cell's presence, the aura that usually brimmed around the Saiyan pulled inward, it's shimmering white-yellow hues fading away into nothingness. An exhale followed, and Gohan's entire body relaxed. His muscles lost definition, his face softened, and his hair shifted from its usual onyx shade to a vivid crimson hue. Soft, flowing ki, like blue-white flames, mixed in with orange and gold as the familiar blazing aura of the Super Saiyan God swelled outward. Gohan opened his eyes, large and colourful rubies peering down out at Cell, who watched in a mixture of amazement and expectation.
"There it is!" Goten grinned, pumping his fist.
"The Super Saiyan God!" grinned Trunks. "Gohan's strongest Super Saiyan transformation!"
"I wish he'd started as a God from the get-go," Piccolo sounded exasperated. "He's picked up too many of Gokū's bad habits."
Erasa watched silently, the familiar sight of the Super Saiyan God reflected in her bright blue eyes. The form that her husband had first obtained against Beerus, brought to bear against an Android threat who seemed otherwise Gohan's equal in combat. This was going to be the God transformation's moment of truth. Smiling to herself, Erasa sent a silent cheer the way of Gohan. She didn't need to shout and bellow. Gohan already knew that she was there for him. All that remained was for him to carry it through.
Cell had been patient throughout this, watching, anticipating. He could feel it himself. The pressure emanating from Gohan in lieu of an ki signature itself, threatening to suffocate the world around him, yet never disturbing so much as the grounds he walked on. "I've been waiting for you to stop holding back, Gohan," Cell called upwards, adjusting himself into a combat stance for what he knew was the beginning of the next round. "This is the much vaunted Super Saiyan God strength that I've heard so much about it. She was right. It really is something else. Now let's see what your full power can do!"
Merry Christmas, everyone! Or, in lieu of that, Happy Holidays of some sort! I hope time has treated you all well! It's been about a month since my last update, which isn't necessarily bad, but I wanted to get this chapter out prior to Christmas. I think this is literally the first time in the history of the Erased Chronicles I have ever put out a chapter on Christmas Day, I usually use this day to rest. Regardless, here we are, the 98th chapter of my fanfic is here. We are rapidly approaching what is going to be an incredible milestone for my Erased Chronicles; it's 100th chapter. I didn't expect to make it this far, but we'll save the celebrations for when I get there. This has been a rollercoaster of a year, and not in a good way. With the massive pandemic, shitty governance, issues in my own personal life, and as of recently, working multiple 5 AM shifts that have fucked over my entire sleep schedule, it's been... a trip. But the show must go on, and Erased must always get another chapter. I won't make New Year's resolutions, and I cannot promise anything, but I desperately want to try and put out chapters a bit more regularly. We're very nearly done with the Bio-Android Resurgence arc, and I feel comfortable telling you all that we will have a min-arc in between to serve as a small break. I had to have my friend help me with some earlier battle chapters because it is very, very hard to write a DB fanfic with all of its fighting for nearly seven years (it will be next year) and not burn out on some level. So the mini-arc in between this will feature no battles of any kind, just as a chance for me to wind down and still put out content.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. The fight wasn't long, but it wasn't meant to be. This is set-up, and I wanted to get a few character conflicts established and out of the way before we moved on. I'm sorry if this wasn't the Christmas gift you all were expecting, but I promise you, with the ending I gave to this chapter, you all can expect a bigger chapter next time, and a much more mighty clash of powers. With that said and out of the way, I hope you all take care of yourselves. Stay safe, wear a mask, this pandemic is not a laughing matter and it has made for a very stressful year. I'll see you all in the next exciting chapter of the Erased Chronicles!