(I would like to thank a good friend of mine, who will be referred to as The Smith, for his help in inspiring this work.)
The Scientific Approach, a Team Dragon Star oneshot brought to you by Individual Lies
Gohan set out at an early age to discover the secrets surrounding ki and how it allowed living beings to use abilities usually reserved for comic books. He wanted to know why it was possible for him and his dad and their friends to do the things they could do. Unlike the rest of the Z Fighters, Gohan had spent a considerable amount of time with his nose in a book, and based on what he had learned, their feats were scientifically impossible.
And yet he could fly and control ki as if it were second nature. Ki shouldn't even exist according to the laws of the universe; energy capable of being manipulated as if it were some magical ability was a preposterous postulation. How could it stand to reason that a mortal being could emit wavelengths of light that were capable of breaking down molecules? That was essentially what the Z Fighters were doing anytime they used their energy to vaporize something: they were breaking down molecules. But how?
The fact that ki also emits light was another thing that baffled young Gohan for most of his life. Light is electromagnetic radiation; that much Gohan knew. Using that basis, as a child he had to assume that ki was a form of light that was as of yet undiscovered by science. This excited him in his youth because he imagined that he could become a famous scientist like Dr. Briefs if he discovered a new form of light. It'd be a dream come true, whether it was his or his mother's.
Gohan didn't have much time in his younger years to test out the various theories he developed over the years, but once he graduated from high school and went to college, he took every opportunity he could to utilize the advanced laboratories to test out his ideas. In many instances it proved handy to have a friend that was stupidly rich, because sometimes the equipment proved ill-equipped for the tasks at hand. So Gohan inevitably had to reach out to Bulma to fund his research, though he kept quiet on the true nature of his experiments. Bulma, thankfully, never asked any questions. He simply wasn't ready to reveal his project.
Gohan stayed so busy that Videl and everyone else began to wonder how the young man found any time to maintain his immaculate grades. Though his time seemed over-occupied, Gohan generally had plenty of time during his experiments to stay caught up on his schooling. His schooling assisted his experiments, as he sometimes found answers to his questions hidden within the text of his books.
Initially, he imagined that his experiments wouldn't yield any answers, but he was proven wrong almost immediately. Every experiment he conducted produced applicable answers to the various questions he posed. The further he delved into his research the more he learned. Slowly he began to unravel the secrets behind "ki."
The very first thing he learned was that ki, as it was understood, did not actually exist. But if one applied the term "ki" to the manipulation of matter then it would prove to be an apt term. Gohan's first clue to the nature of ki was revealed when he was reminded while reading one night that the sun was a gigantic nuclear fusion reactor. Its own gravitational field squeezes its atoms together, through their electron fields, causing them to collide. These collisions generate the energy that fuels the sun's existence, as the atoms are in constant motion.
This knowledge revealed to Gohan what was occurring when he and other fighters powered up. He realized their auras were electro-magnetic fields generated by nuclear reactions that were taking place within their bodies. Though this seemed like a radical notion, it immediately made perfect sense to Gohan. Somehow the fighters had figured out a way to psychically manipulate matter-though it was a misconception on their part that they were generating a mystical energy-in such a way that they were able to create biological nuclear reactions. So their abilities were nuclear-powered; he could accept that.
But did it explain how even the human Z Fighters were able to amass great strength? It was true that humans reached their peak at much lower levels than Saiyans and Namekians. So how were fighters such as Krillin, Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu able to push so far beyond normal human limits?
It was impossible unless they were, in fact, utilizing psychic being able to manipulate matter psychically, the fighters were able to subconsciously condense and restructure the atomic makeup of their physical bodies, allowing their muscles and bones to take on the denser properties of steel or iron.
It perfectly explained how even a human like Krillin could get knocked into a building and not be splattered into human spaghetti sauce. His denser mass, subconsciously restructured over the years through training designed by homicidal maniacs, combined with momentum, allowed for him to punch through objects of mass denser than that of normal humans. The same applied to Saiyans and Namekians, but on a much grander scale obviously.
The key, Gohan realized, was to push the normal limitations of the body to a point where one's mind is forced to shed its normal understanding of the laws of the universe. Though not actually conscious of what is transpiring, a person becomes able to manipulate the matter in the universe through force of will. From the perspective of a non-cosmic entity, what is transpiring is the formulation of energy. Though technically true, the "ki" user is creating biological nuclear reactions within his/her molecular structure.
The more Gohan learned, the more his head hurt; but also the more fascinated he became. He learned that as he and his friends trained, their muscles went through hypertrophy, but to an extreme degree. The process was enhanced by their psychic ability to manipulate matter. It allowed them to condense the atoms of their muscles and bones, providing for stronger and denser muscles. Thus their base strength at rest was of course significantly greater than that other beings. When they fought or otherwise used their strength, they were capable of generating even greater strength thanks to the reactions that began to take place. The greater the reaction, the more obvious it becomes in the form of visible electromagnetic fields; otherwise known as auras.
These internal reactions resulted from the vibration and collision of the atoms in their chemical makeup. As the speed of the atoms increase,, the user becomes capable of enhanced become able to move at super speed or phase from one point in the universe to another in the blink of an eye, just as the denser properties of their muscles and bones allowed for them to perform amazing feats of strength and endurance. All of their abilities depended on being able to restructure and manipulate atoms in the universe.
Furthermore, Gohan was able to deduce that through these natural internal nuclear reactions, he and his friends were able to generate electromagnetic fields that played a major part in the makeup of ki blasts and waves. It took time and some serious researching for Gohan to realize that ki attacks largely consisted of plasma. He realized that to produce a ki attack, an electromagnetic field had to be created. In order to create one, a "ki" user has to once again manipulate the universe around him as necessary. Once a proper electromagnetic field is made, it then begins to ionize the gases in the surrounding atmosphere to create the needed plasma. To condense this plasma into an orb, a false gravitational field is then subconsciously formed and the greater the intensity of the field, the greater the intensity of the plasma particles. As they are forced to press into one another, the particles become excited and produce photons.
From this he learned that if the electromagnetic field was manipulated into a wave, such as the Kamehameha or a Gallick Gun, the plasma particles produced a low number of high-energy photons with great expanses of space between each one,, thus giving such attacks their trademark deep-shaded colors. He realized that the space between the particles allow for the high energy of the photons to aggravate and disturb electron fields, thus causing a weakening and disrupting of the atomic fields of other forms of matter—i.e. vaporization.
On a side note he also deduced that the actual color of an attack depended on the intensity of the electromagnetic field being generated. For instance, the electromagnetic field for a Kamehameha Wave was far more neutral than the one created in a Gallick Gun. As a result fewer photons are produced allowing for higher energy to be generated, thus the color produced tends to seem warmer. Bright blue versus deep purple. Equally deadly, but structured entirely differently.
In contrast to waves, the formation of orbs results in the plasma producing lower energy photons, which allows for a greater number of particles to be condensed into a tighter space-it could almost be compared to filling a balloon with water. As these particles condense, they become excited and vibrate against one another rapidly, making up for the lower energy of the produced photons. Since they are high in quantity and low in energy, the result is lighter shades of color. Condensing the particles produces the general red or gold coloring. Also because the particles in these plasma orbs are so condensed, any outside influence causes them to collide and explode with concussive force; like a miniature nuclear explosion.
Gohan's research persisted, with his excitement ever mounting. It began to change his entire outlook on the universe and how everything worked. One by one he began to break down the different attacks his friends utilized, revealing the secrets to how they worked the ways they did.
For example, he learned that Krillin's Destructo Disc was more than just a murderous disc of energy, but rather super-condensed plasma with low energy photons spread out in such a way that its concussive force disrupted and severed the connections between other particles. He also discovered that its design allowed it to do this to the makeup of even the densest of matter; there were no limits. It was designed to be virtually unstoppable.
Similarly Piccolo's Hell Zone Grenade was likewise made up of super-condensed plasma with low energy photons. It differed greatly, though in that rather than spread out, the plasma was condensed into multiple tiny orbs with the ability to detonate the potential energy they possessed upon contact with unyielding forms of dense matter. The result of this was a multitude of concussive explosions that was almost guaranteed to finish any opponent not utilizing force fields.
The Kamehameha Wave, on the other hand, was comprised of uncondensed plasma with high energy photons. The high energy photons were able to travel through other forms of matter, disrupting, dissipating, and otherwise repurposing the atoms—i.e vaporization. It eventually became impossible to ignore the science behind everything that was occurring.
Though he had never set out to do so, Gohan's biggest breakthrough came when he discovered the secret behind fusion. The most popular form of fusion, the Fusion Dance, was deceptively simple in its occurrence. He learned that the dance itself was nothing more than shamanism, but it was somehow designed to trigger a subconscious reaction in two separate individuals that caused their molecular structures to break down and reemerge as a single individual. The resulting atomic structure of this new warrior is such that he or she has twice the number of normal particles per atom.
Though this seems impossible, it is only possible through the apparent psychic manipulation of atoms. So long as the fused individual can maintain the forced melding of these particles, the fusion will hold. If the energy behind the melding is exhausted, then the fusion will break down and the individual splits into his or her original two halves. He later discovered that the energy utilized for this force-meld comes from the fusion reactions within the individual's muscles. As with any living organism, his or her reserves are finite but are relative to the individual's overall stamina. Thus if the individual generates more energy—transforms into SSJ3 like Gotenks—the energy required to maintain the force-meld increases, thereby decreasing the amount of time the particles can remain force-held together.
Finally the culmination of everything he learned excited Gohan to no end. Though he ached to share his discoveries with his dad and their friends, he knew they would understand little, if any, of his findings.
So once his research was more or less complete, he made a Great Saiyaman-style beeline to Capsule Corporation, eager to share his results with the one person he knew would understand and appreciate his work.
With an armload of notebooks and flying paper, Gohan burst through the doors of Bulma's lab to find her tinkering with whatever invention she was currently working on. Gohan's quick cursory glance revealed an object that looked eerily like a toaster oven, but he ignored it as he came to a skidding stop in front of the blue-haired woman,, his eyes dancing with glee.
"Guess what!" he said excitedly as gave him a startled glance.
Bulma straightened up and gave him a quick once-over as she pulled out a cigarette and lit it. She blew out a puff of smoke as she crossed her arms. She could tell it was all Gohan could do to contain his excitement.
She smiled kindly and glanced at his notebooks. "Are you finally going to tell me what I've been funding for the last couple of years?"
Gohan flashed a sheepish grin reminiscent of his father and set his notebooks on a nearby table. "Yeah, sorry if it got too expensive."
"Nah, not at all. Didn't even feel it in the budget, Kiddo." She reached out and flipped open the topmost notebook, skimming over the pages of equations and notations. She arched an eyebrow and glanced at Gohan. "What exactly is this?" she asked before taking a drag of her cigarette, blowing out smoke as she tapped the ashes into an oddly clean ashtray on the table.
Gohan's eyes lit up and he blurted excitedly, "I've discovered the secrets behind ki!"
Bulma blinked, her cigarette held to her mouth as she paused. The glowing cherry pulsed with each breath she took, plumes of smoke rising into the air above their heads. Her expression morphing into one of amusement, she removed her cigarette, blowing out a large puff of smoke as she said, "Is that all?"
Gohan's mouth fell open. "What do you mean, 'is that all?' I discovered how it's possible for Vegeta, Dad, me, and all the others to do the things that we can do!" He was stunned. He'd assumed that if anyone would appreciate the work, it'd be Bulma. He definitely didn't expect her to so casually dismiss it as if it were common knowledge already, especially after he spent most of his lifetime lamenting over the mysteries!
She laughed and snubbed out her cigarette. "Don't look so surprised, Gohan. I figured a lot of it out ages ago."
"What?! When?!" Gohan's knees grew weak and he grabbed a nearby chair to sink heavily into it, his eyes wide in disbelief.
Bulma knelt down and patted his knee sympathetically. "I know where you're coming from, Gohan. Like me, you have a scientific mind. So to you the things you're all capable of shouldn't even be possible. I had to find out how it all works after I watched your dad beat Piccolo before you were born. None of my theories were confirmed, though, until I got my hands on your Uncle Raditz's Scouter. While I was trying to repair it, I learned that it was designed to analyze density rather than actual energy. The higher concentration of matter in one spot, the higher the reading."
Gohan's shoulders slumped and he hung his head. "All my work…When I could've just asked you." He sighed, feeling suddenly defeated.
"Aw, don't fret Gohan." Bulma laughed, patting his knee again. "Tell me what you learned. I may have figured out that you guys are increasing your density, but I never quite figured out how you can generate waves."
Gohan immediately perked up and began tearing through his notebooks until he found the one with his notes on plasma and photons. He explained everything he'd discovered with a fervor usually reserved for religion, eventually dragging a chalkboard over and writing out his different equations.
Bulma listened intently, occasionally nodding or posing a question here or there, which Gohan answered with extreme precision. Everything she asked he had a plausible explanation for; from how different attacks worked, to how they got their color. When he'd finished his explanations, Bulma silently looked over his notations.
After a while she smiled and closed the notebook in her hands. "I gotta hand it you, Gohan. These theories are sound. They can easily be applied within the laws of science; all save for the psychic abilities part."
Gohan shrugged. "It's the only explanation, but it makes perfect sense: mind over matter."
Bulma just grinned. "So you're saying everyone can do this?"
He shook his head, "No, but everyone has the potential to do it. Look at Krillin and Yamcha, for instance. They may not be as strong as a Saiyan or a Namekian, but when compared to other humans they set the bar. The only way that it can be possible for them to do the things they do is through psychic manipulation. A human's limits peak much earlier than a Saiyan's or a Namekian's. The only possible way a human could break those limits is by doing so psychically, manipulating the atoms in the universe to suit their needs."
"And you're saying this is all subconscious?"
"Well, yeah that's my theory." He snatched up a notebook from the center of his stack and flipped it open. "As far as my dad and everyone else is concerned, it's just ki they're channeling from within their bodies. So while that is what they believe they are doing, they are really subconsciously altering the matter around them." He paused and glanced at her with a puzzled frown. "Does that not stand up…?"
Bulma grinned. "I'd say it does. Vegeta is always griping about how 'Kakarot' won't stay out of his mind. Everyone else has exhibited some form of psychic ability, as well, including you."
Gohan smiled with relief. "True." He closed the notebook and placed it on top of the stack.
Bulma eyed the stack curiously. "So what do you plan to do with your research?" She surreptitiously slipped out another cigarette, casually lighting it while Gohan's attention remained on the notebooks.
He appeared thoughtful for a moment, but shrugged after only a few seconds. "Dunno. Outside of martial arts, there's really no use for my research. Then again, I didn't give much thought to how to apply, or even where to apply, my theories." He appeared thoughtful again. "Hm…I wonder."
Bulma quietly watched him through a steady plume of smoke,, silently puffing on her cigarette.
"Hm. Nah." Gohan shook his head. "I can't see this research actually proving useful." He glanced at Bulma and blinked as he could've sworn she looked relieved. He shrugged, dismissing it as a trick of the light. "In any case, I'm glad I know the secrets at least." He laughed. "It used to give me such a headache when I was kid. Some nights I couldn't sleep because all I could think of was figuring this out."
Bulma tapped the ashes from her cigarette and smiled. "I'm glad you figured it out, Gohan. I'd really like to go over your notes in further detail very soon."
"Oh, I'll leave them with you if you want. I can get them anytime, after all." He laughed again, scratching the back of his neck.
She nodded, smiling again. "Absolutely."
Bulma watched as Gohan's shrinking form faded into the red and gold sunset, her arms folded against her stomach. Her forgotten half-smoked cigarette produced a steady stream of smoke, an intricate series of ever-changing and swirling patterns wafting all around her in the cool evening breeze.
She smirked as Gohan finally vanished, shaking her head slowly side to side in amusement. "Way to go, Kid. I should've known that if anyone else would figure this out, it'd definitely be you."
She tossed her cigarette away with a laugh and turned to return to her lab.
Walking through the door, she made her way immediately to the object that Gohan had mistaken for a toaster oven. She pressed a black button on the front of the device and the top split down the middle with a hiss. Two doors opened up and a rack of vials filled with a blue luminescent substance rose into view.
"Once I go public with this, Bulma Briefs' ultimate solution in anti-aging technology derived from my own research into the true nature of ki, I may just need a partner. I wonder how Gohan feels about cosmetics?"
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