Gohan had never liked the desert. The sands were always blisteringly hot and the nights were always uncompromisingly cold. The wind swept over the wasteland floor and carried away swathes of red sand, scattering them into the breeze and affording Gohan a semblance of comfort. Behind him, the Northern Wastelands unfurled and spread out for miles. Dusty pillars of red stone rose up like ancient towers all around him to form a series of complex looking plateaus. If he had to guess, no one else had visited the plateaus in over a hundred years.
A clear, blue sky hung over the plateaus and afforded him a wealth of vision, which was going to come in handy before long. His ship rested, idle, in a basin a few miles to the West. It would only take him a few minutes of travel time to reach it, once things got rolling. There wasn't much more time before an unstoppable series of events began to unfold.
He had not traveled through time to find himself denied at the last moment. He would warn his father about the heart virus and make sure that that his friends all survived the grim challenge that was bound to come for them. After all of that had been taken care of, he would return home, satisfied, to a world no longer ravaged by death and destruction.
A speck of black blinked into existence against the horizon, alerting Gohan to the arrival of Frieza's ship. Two massive ki signatures, etched into his memory, stood out as residents of the speck, which he knew to be a ship, and sent a rogue chill down the length of his spine. Despite the fact that he had grown so much stronger since he'd first encountered those two strengths, he still remembered the fear from his childhood. It would serve him well to conquer it.
A series of powers immediately flickered to life across all corners of the world as they sensed the disturbance. They would be arriving before long, determined to do their best to stop the force of undeterrable evil that had just materialized in the atmosphere.
Energy surged out from his every pore as he took off from the top of the plateau and blasted across the sky, his body wreathed in a shimmering blue flame.
Gohan arrived at the basin where his time machine idled in under a minute, having utilized the full extent of his speed in order to make sure he arrived before his friends did. Already, he could feel their power levels closing in; Vegeta led the way, followed closely by Tien and Chiaotzu. Krillin brought up the rear with a familiar youngster in tow. Piccolo, who had been training casually a few miles away, was the closest... but he wouldn't immediately engage anything.
They wouldn't be landing in the same place, anyway. Piccolo and the others were set to land atop a nearby outcrop. It would serve as their perch as they watched the struggle between Gohan and his soon-to-be opponents unfold. The halfling wondered, briefly, whether or not his memory of the encounter would change as it happened.
The flickering font of energy raging around him vanished with an immutable whisper as the speck in the sky slowly began to grow. Gohan's fists clenched at his sides while the borders of Frieza's ship hesitantly grew and deblurred, revealing a massive saucer that hung grim over the wastelands.
"Gohan, did you feel that?"
The sound of Krillin's voice nearly forced Gohan to stop - but he kept flying despite the unexpected interruption. They'd been flying in silence for the last few minutes, determined to get to the wasteland as quickly as possible in order to intercept Frieza.
"What? You mean Frieza?" he asked.
Krillin frowned and clenched his fists tighter. Maybe he was imagining things, but he was pretty sure that there'd been a third ki signature up ahead, one that was at least as strong as Goku had been on Namek... maybe a little stronger, actually. His brow furrowed for just a second while he wondered if, somehow, the energy that had surfaced in the plateau had been Goku. It would have made sense that he'd arrive in their darkest hour, but they would have felt him coming into the atmosphere, long before he crashed into some desert.
"It felt like there was something else there for a second. Didn't you feel it?"
Gohan took a long look at Krillin, diverting his gaze from the sky before them and considering the older man's words.
"No," he said.
Honestly, he hadn't felt anything. He wasn't as experienced as Krillin was at sensing energy, but he felt pretty sure that he'd have felt another signature cropping up. Krillin, though he seemed to be staring ahead, didn't let the thought go. The shimmering trail of bright light in his wake suddenly intensified as he sped up, determined to reach the outcrop before Frieza did. If his friend had made it back to Earth in one piece, he was going to be the first one to know.
Krillin, despite his increased speed, was still not the first one to arrive on the battlefield. Dressed in a pink shirt, a pair of loose fitting pants, and black shoes, the Prince of all Saiyans touched down against the sand and dispersed his aura. Piccolo arrived shortly after, followed by Tien and Chiaotzu, who touched down and immediately turned to look up at the sky. Frieza's ship was no longer just a speck on the horizon. In the time it'd taken them to arrive, the massive spacecraft had already started to set down. It hovered just above the clouds and spun in place, as if waiting for the Earth's strongest defenders to arrive.
"He's here already," Tien said, calmly.
"He feels strong, Tien," replied Chiaotzu, before turning his attention to the other warriors that stood atop the mesa. Gohan and Krillin could be felt closing in from the distance; they would be there soon. "Do you think we can beat him?"
Vegeta scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest.
Piccolo rolled his eyes.
"There's not going to be a we for much longer, pipsqueak. If that is Frieza aboard that ship, which it most certainly is, then he's going to kill us where we stand."
Gohan and Krillin touched down against the sand and came skittering to a halt just a few yards behind Vegeta, and quickly moved to survey the basin below, where the tyrant was most likely to land. It was the perfect landing site; clear and open, it would afford the demon a fair launching point for what was clearly going to be his greatest counter attack of all time. Earth's Heroes had stopped him on Namek, and now he would stop them on Earth.
Krillin was sure that, to Frieza, something like that would only seem fair.
"Piccolo, what're we working with here?" he said, trying to take command of the situation. "I feel two signatures on that ship. One of them feels like Frieza, but the other feels like it's in a whole new league."
"That's his father, you dolt!" Vegeta barked, before approaching the end of the plateau and staring down into the basin. Despite his opinion that they were all doomed, he was still morbidly curious as to what would happen once the two monsters touched down. Would they destroy them swiftly? Or would they take their time and play with their food?
"Two signatures, like you said. I felt something else earlier, but I couldn't be sure what it was. I thought for a second it might've been Goku," the Namekian began. "But we would have sensed him long before Frieza got here if he was waiting to save us. I think we're going to be on our own for this one. If we can find a way to hold out until Goku gets here, then we should be fine. He's beaten him once, he can beat him again."
Krillin nodded and tightened the sash around his waist. Piccolo, as if to stiffen their collective resolve, put a reassuring hand on Gohan's shoulder. He could feel the boy's fear; despite the fact that he was the son of the strongest warrior in the universe, he hadn't yet acquired the same stereotypical optimism that his father always seemed to carry around with him.
With that in mind, even he wasn't sure if he could believe his own words. The two strengths on Frieza's ship felt monstrous. Already, thin beads of sweat were beading their way down his brow. The sound of an engine tearing its way across the sky roused him from his thoughts and let Yamcha's relatively low-key arrival fly under his radar.
"Is that Bulma?" Gohan asked, caught completely by surprise.
It was unlikely that the ship floating up in the sky would notice the arrival of the small aircraft that was approaching low over the landscape, but that didn't stop the newly arrived Yamcha from expressing his displeasure.
"What is she, crazy? I told her not to come," he said, agitated.
Her ship, which looked like a cargo plane with the Capsule Corporation logo emblazoned on the side, touched down at the center of the mesa and blew away a tide of sand and dust. The second the hatch on the plane was unleashed, Yamcha was already waving his hands in the air.
"Hey! Cut the engine! We don't want anyone to know we're here!"
Puar popped out of the cockpit ahead of Bulma, who cut the engine on command and jumped out of her plane. Her thumb pressed down on a little capsule in her hand, and almost immediately, the plane dissipated into smoke and light, before filtering back into the device. Yamcha, who didn't seem particularly pleased by Puar's presence, let his flying cat come to a rest on his shoulder.
He exhaled through his nose as Bulma grinned.
He recognized that smile. Nothing good came of that smile.
"I didn't get the chance to see Frieza on Namek, and now you want me to miss him here too? Did you really think I was just going to stay home just because you asked me to?"
Vegeta practically cackled, clearly amused by his glorified landlord's defiance. He had expected her to do something like that. If he knew one thing about the blue-haired woman, it was that she was not someone who could be reasoned with.
"Shut up, pink-shirt!" Yamcha shouted, lamely, at Vegeta.
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood, scarface, otherwise I'd stuff it down your throat," he replied.
A wayward breeze once again swept over the rocky outcrops and brought a new wave of tension filled silence with it. Tien, uncharacteristically, was the first one to break it.
"We don't need to be arguing right now," he said, fists clenched. "I don't want to be picked up by some kind of listening device just because you two can't shelf your problems."
Vegeta turned away from the mesa's lip for the first time in order to appraise the three-eyed man that had just dared to challenge him. If they hadn't been suppressing their energy in order to maintain the element of surprise, he would have floored him right then and there. In fact, the idea didn't seem any less appealing with that in mind. If they were going to die anyway, he would appreciate the chance to enjoy himself.
"I'll give them a reason to pick you up, baldy," Vegeta growled. "Pick you up from the morgue, that is."
"Guys! Stop fighting! The ship's getting closer!"
The sound of Gohan's voice forced everyone to look up into the sky, where the ship that had been looming over them all was beginning to descend. It broke through the now cloudless sky and fell like a stone toward the mesa they were standing on. The saucer stopped in midair and leveled out to take an Eastward direction. With a burst of speed, it shot over a nearby ridge and came to a rest. Aboard the ship, a number of low power levels made themselves known, hidden before by the distance and the sheer, overwhelming strength of the two titans that had accompanied them.
"That's probably the crew," Krillin noted.
Vegeta, recovered from his moment of anger, stepped toward the edge of the plateau and turned his head to the others, who looked notably more nervous than before. Krillin's brow was furrowed in frustration, and the Namekian had begun to remove his weighted clothing. Gohan, who had looked anxious to begin with, was sweating profusely. The other two humans, Tien and Yamcha, didn't seem particularly to bothered. Despite their low power levels, it was obvious that the humans were the ones most used to harrowing situations.
Their chances of victory were still next to nonexistent, but with a little bit of strategy and quick thinking, they might be able to hold off long enough for Goku to arrive on the battlefield. His time in space couldn't last forever... but even if he didn't land that day, he would have to land eventually. There was no way that Frieza had come to Earth simply to blow the place up before the Super Saiyan arrived. No, he was too much of a sadist for that.
"Power levels suppressed. I don't want them picking us up just because you lot got sloppy," he grumbled, stepping off of the plateau and taking flight.
A/N: Hey there! I'm Shun Ren Dan and this is my first attempt at a long form fanfiction. I hope you enjoy following Future Gohan (later redubbed Shourai) as he attempts to save his friends in the past and liberate his own future. It will cover, canonically, the events of the "Trunks Saga" through the events of the Cell Games (or the equivalent time). There'll be a few key changes that you'll notice take place, some major, some minor.
Feel free to ask questions via review or private message. I don't bite and I'm eager to get this story under way. The first thing you'll notice is that I took some liberties with the arrival time of the Z-fighters, which, in the anime, differed pretty heavily from the way I portrayed it here. That's mostly just so I can write the characters in the way I visualize them. There is no special significance to the arrival order.
Q: How would Bulma complete her Time Machine three years ahead of time? That seems like a pretty large leap to me.
A: Keep reading!
Table of Contents:
Heavy is the Head:
- The World King's Fist
- The Regent
- To Reign
- Destroy All Tyrants!
- East District 439
- Hunting Grounds
- Coming Soon
Future Interlude Chapters:
To The Future, Wayward, ...