A/N: You probably noticed the change in title and description. I wasn't particularly pleased with either and I felt the title, in particular, would work better to with the theme of the later Otherworld section of the story. The description change was due to the original being contradictory with having people enjoy peace with Goku dead. With that out of the way, feel free to comment or review whether it's positively or negatively or just a question.
Chapter 2: A Legend Outclassed
May 12th, Age 767, Amenbo Island
To any far away from the catastrophe unfolding on Amenbo Island, the quivering of the ground may appear as a precursor to a massive earthquake in the making. Possibly the worst in recent memory. To those unfortunate enough still be on the besieged island, the shaking is second to the dozens of shockwaves rippling through the air. Inadvertently smashing chunks of buildings and glass in their wake, raining both down on the fleeing populace.
The truth, for the handful aware of it, would be viewed as quite a bit stranger in the eyes of the ordinary humans. That the cause of all this isn't some natural disaster, but the aftermath of punches and kicks. Exchanged blows courtesy of two beings with the power to do far, far worse if they wanted to. One looking no different than any other young woman her age while the other is the prince of an almost extinct species.
Clad in a customized version of the Saiyan armor courtesy of Bulma and Capsule Corp and shining brightly with the power of the legendary Super Saiyan coursing through him, Vegeta battle Android 18 with a sense of excitement he hasn't felt in six months. Not since his opportunity to defeat Goku and reclaim his honor slipped through his fingers. Snatched away forever by an enemy not even greatest fighters can resist: a disease. Leaving him without purpose and bringing him back to the headquarters of Capsule Corp, giving him something of a home.
But now all of that feels like a distant memory from a lifetime ago.
After blocking the latest in a series of punches, Vegeta spins out of the way of her kick and retaliates a backhanded strike to the side of her face, sending her plummeting towards the ground. She recovers just ahead of smashing into the street and turns around to continue the battle only to find a massive, golden wave of ki coming at her.
Knowing she can't disperse wave of that size, she instead prepares to push it back when she notices something in the corner of her eye. A golden streak of energy darting around the incoming attack, a trail left behind from Vegeta's flaring aura. With one hand pointed at the incoming wave with the other aimed at Vegeta, she tries to gun down the Saiyan Prince to no avail.
Dispelling the ki blasts with quick karate chops, Vegeta smirks as he gets behind 18 and with all his mighty, propels himself forward while ramming his elbow into her back. At last, the wave he launched mere moments ago reaches the Android, hitting her face first, pushing her down while Vegeta pushes upward.
Not content to simply ram her through his blast, Vegeta decides to add a little twist to his plan and fires off a closer range energy wave nearly twice the power of his previous one. In a blinding ray of light, the Android and the blast attacking her from the front are completely engulfed with anything caught in its range wiped out of existence, leaving nothing but a massive cloud of smoke behind.
With a quick swipe of his hand, Vegeta creates a wind gust strong enough to disperse the smoke cloud and finds 18 hovering back up in the air, staring down at him with only minor burns on her body and clothing. Most would be shocked or at least somewhat worried about their blast not having much of an effect. Not Vegeta, however, as he has no desire to see this fight end so quickly or so easily.
"I see I'm not the only one enjoying myself," 18 comments on the smirk planted firmly on the Saiyan Princes face just as positions himself several yards opposite of her. "The data mentioned your fondness for combat."
"A trait shared by all true Saiyan warriors, even by fools like Kakarot."
She rubs her chin thoughtfully as she recounts the data stored inside her modified brain. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't that fool leave you in the dust until you turned into that monkey thing you aliens got?"
Her comment hits closer to home, closer than Vegeta would want to admit, either to himself or anyone else. Still, it's nowhere near enough to kill his enthusiasm. "Even a fool can get lucky, but it doesn't last. If it did, he wouldn't have died from some common Earthling cold."
"Was that before or after you beat him?" She smiles upon noticing Vegeta's fists tighten. "I know I'd be pretty mad if the guy who screwed with me died before I could get some payback."
Vegeta merely lets out a chuckle, no wanting to give her the satisfaction of seeing him riled up. "I'd choose my words more carefully if I were you, speaking to a superior warrior like that tends to end badly. Especially if you can't back it up."
"That's some good advice," She admits with the same mocking tone to her voice. "I'll be sure to keep it in mind when a superior fighter shows up."
"He's standing right in front of you," Vegeta's smirk turns into a full blown, confident smile. "He's just been holding back!"
His humming, golden aura explodes as the Prince of all Saiyan's unleashes a mighty roar with his increasing power. His entire body tenses up from it with his muscles bulging and veins popping out all over his body. The quivering of the ground from before is a minor tremble in comparison to the shaking caused by Vegeta's powering up.
Letting out a confident laugh as a vortex of wind spirals around him, Vegeta gives 18 one last warning. "Don't die too quickly, I'd hate to use my full strength for nothing."
"Of course," She bows without lowering her head to him, "Your majesty."
Blasting off towards the Android, Vegeta attempts a flying back kick only for 18 to casually tilt her head to the right, causing him to miss entirely. Quickly re-positioning himself, the Saiyan warrior fires a minor Big Bang Attack with his attack failing to connect again due to 18 vanishing out of sight. An instant later, Vegeta is sent flying back courtesy from a headbutt, leaving a bleeding smear over his right eye.
Before the growling Prince can even retaliate, a blindingly fast uppercut sends a horrid rush of pain coursing through his skull. The first of many injuries to come. A spinning roundhouse kick to his chest piece is the next, one powerful enough to leave a fist sized dent on it and knock the air from his lungs.
Tumbling onto the cracked skyscraper top, Vegeta narrowly avoids a stomp directed at his head and quickly leaps back into action as he cannot afford to stay down and leave himself vulnerable. He lashes out with a punch aimed at her face only for the Android to casually catch it midway. Applying only a minimal amount of effort on her part, she pushes the limb forward, forcing Vegeta to his knees or risk fighting with a broken arm.
"Let's see who did it better," Is all Android 18 tells the kneeling Prince before kicking him up into the air before unleashing a ki wave of her own roughly three stories in size at the Saiyan warrior. An instant later, she takes off into the air, darting past both her attack and the spinning Vegeta in mere seconds, reaching the Earth's stratosphere in speeds thought impossible but humanity or the Z-fighters.
Using the built up momentum to her advantage, 18 smirks upon speeding up even further downward and rams her shoulder right into the Princes back plate. Before he can even hear the cracking of his armor, Vegeta is assaulted by the scorching heat of 18s energy wave burning away at him from head to toe. The pain only grows worse as burns appear all over his body and clothing, burning away whole chunks of his jumpsuit and armor plate.
He receives a momentary respite once the blast gets cleaved in half though it soon becomes worse as 18 manages to shatter the sound barrier just as a figure grows closer and closer. The top of the skyscraper and instantly, Vegeta knows what's about to come and finds himself unable to do anything about it. The damage to his body, just from this handful of blows has left it in a sorry state.
All he can do is let out a quickly silenced yell of anger and terror before rammed through thirty stories of glass, concrete, and stainless steel.
Like the shell of an egg, a third of the island breaks from the impact of Vegeta hitting ground level. Massive cracks form all throughout, splitting streets and buildings alike, allowing the nearby roaring ocean to rush in-between, slowly sinking everything into its depths. Emerging from the sinking ruins of the skyscraper, Android 18 holds the nearly unconscious Vegeta by the hair, letting him almost dangle in the air before tossing him into a nearby wall.
As he lies there, half-dead and choking on the salt water eating away at his throat and nostrils, a feeling of frustration and restlessness eats away at him. Not the same one from the weeks following Kakarot's demise. No, this bears a frightening resemblance to the last moments of agony he spent against Freeza. Beaten, bloody and tired as if he aged 50 years. Once more, the power he thought would let him overcome any challenge turned out to be not enough.
He manages to push his back against the wall when something akin to a jolt of electricity hits him courtesy of his ki sense. He senses Piccolo's energy fizzle out and immediately, he knows the worst consequence of his death: the Dragon Balls are no more. Any hope of Piccolo perhaps being alive quickly dies with the arrival of Android 17.
"I see you're still having fun with this one." He casts a sideway glance at the scowling Vegeta. "Should've known you got the better deal with the rock, paper, scissors game."
"Piccolo wasn't all he was cracked up to be?" 17 shakes his head. "That's a shame. Maybe you can try your luck with the tri-clops. The old man's data says he's pretty strong, for a human anyway."
"And risk running into that clown thing? No thanks."
"It's either them or the shortie and the loser, take your pick."
Falling silent for a moment, 17 weighs the pros and cons of each group without a care in the world. "Eh, I'll take the tri-clops and clown instead. Hopefully, they didn't croak from that little welcoming blast."
With his mind made up, 17 departs back towards the city, allowing his sister to end her business with Vegeta. "So, you're still awake. I figured you'd play dead after hearing about the green man dying."
"I already told you..." Growls Vegeta as he slowly gets back up. "A true Saiyan warrior relishes battle, no matter what."
Clenching his fists, Vegeta fights through the pain and with a shout, reaches into the scant remains of his energy reserves for one, final transformation. "So what if the Namekian is dead? You think the Dragon Balls end will make me scared? Make me beg for my life? I already let my spirit get broken once!" His golden aura flares up with his temper, causing several pieces of debris to start floating all around him.
"AND I'LL DIE BEFORE IT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN!"
With no hope of victory and ready to die, Vegeta launches himself at the smirking Android, roaring like the finest of his ancestors did whenever they charged to every battle the outcome be damned. The matter of the Dragon Balls being rendered useless matters far less than he thought it would, admittedly. For if he's going to die permanently, he refuses to simply lie in the dirt, bleeding and broken. Not again, never again.
As he nears the one surely responsible for his demise, the world around him slows down as a single image pops up in his head. Whenever he thought of his death, he expected to see his glorious triumphant from his countless conquests across the cosmos. Or even the days on Planet Vegeta with his father and kin.
Instead, he sees a little baby boy, holding a ball and smiling right back at him.
4 Months Prior, West City
As per his usual routine ever since arriving on Earth, Vegeta stands in the red lit Gravity Chamber parked in the back yard of Capsule Corp headquarters. Clad in his standard Saiyan battle armor, he dodges the dozens of laser beams launched from the equally numerous attack drones with utter ease. A long time ago, such a gravity would've sent him falling to the ground and staying there, now he avoids them with his arms crossed and his eyes closed as light as a leaf, a sign of his mastery.
Once he took pride in this achievement, seeing it as another stepping stone to him reclaiming the mantle of strongest Saiyan. Now, it's just another in a long series of exercises he keeps putting himself through just to pass the seemingly endless hours of the Earth's day.
For a time, this strategy has worked. Keeping his mind off recent events and letting him vent off steam, but the law of diminishing returns applies to all things. Slowly but surely, the same thrill shrank with each passing day. Leaving him bored with the repetition though not quite enough for him to quit outright. Today, he feels more so than any other.
Today, his thoughts wander back to the day he witnessed the power of the Super Saiyan up close. The day Freeza and his hidden father, King Cold arrived to lay waste to the Earth. How everyone was certain their world was doomed, how Freeza's gargantuan flaming ball of ki loomed over them like an incoming meteorite and how, out of nowhere, Kakarot appeared to swat it away with complete ease.
Glowing with the legendary power, he did what Vegeta dreamed of many times during his years of service under Freeza: completely annihilate him. Though he apparently gave the tyrant plenty of opportunities to simply leave them alone, his advice went unheeded once again and Kakarot couldn't let it happen again. With the largest energy wave, Vegeta had ever seen, Kakarot vaporized Freeza and King Cold out of existence and ended the PTOs reign of terror across the cosmos.
The others were thrilled and amazed by this display, but not Vegeta. He merely stared on with envy as Kakarot once again left him in the dust. He accepted the low-class fighter as the one destined to destroy Freeza on Namek well enough. For he was dying and his power was clearly not good enough to do it, but Kakarot's was. So he asked, no, begged him to see things through to the end and though he took his time doing so, Kakarot avenged the Saiyan's of planet Vegeta.
The only problem with this: Vegeta was still alive. His impending demise forced him to dash away his pride in a last ditch effort to see Freeza destroyed. But now he was alive again, his pride still wounded despite the respect he found for Kakarot for achieving the legendary Super Saiyan state and defeating Freeza.
For two and a half years, Vegeta sought to rectify this mistake. To take his place as the true, strongest Saiyan of all and just as he thought he did it by attaining the legendary power as well. Kakarot was fading away. Now he's gone, beyond the ability of any Dragon Balls to restore him to life. Sent away to some place where he'll keep getting stronger and stronger for all eternity while Vegeta wastes away.
It isn't until he feels a faint sting to his forehead that Vegeta snaps out of his trance and finds himself standing in the middle of the chamber. Assaulted from all sides by the lasers yet their attacks do little to him. Looking down on the floor like a scolded child he lets out a tired sigh and with a few button presses shuts down the chamber. Too mentally drained and physically sickened by the tedium to force himself through it anymore.
The setting sun is the first thing to welcome him as he walks onto the grass of Capsule Corp headquarters. Not knowing anything better to do with himself, Vegeta simply walks back inside the headquarters, ignoring the greetings of the secretary entirely as he makes his way back to his own sleeping quarters.
As he passes through the somewhat claustrophobic corridors of the bubble shaped building, Vegeta passes by an open door and stops dead in his tracks when something of inhuman speed darts past his head. Instantly, his warrior instincts activate, letting him narrowly avoid the projectile and see its trajectory as if it were another one of these gravity chamber lasers.
The ball smashes against the walls of the corridor, leaving dents all over until Vegeta finally snatches it out of the air. The force behind the throw was so great, the ball even smokes as if burning for a moment until finally cooling off in his hand. Upon further inspection, Vegeta notices that the ball isn't a ball at all, but an orb like drone, one he hasn't seen thus far. Either an old obsolete model or one yet to be released he guesses.
That's when he hears a childlike giggle in the room next to him and looks inside to find the baby Trunks looking at him with an innocence only someone of his age could. At his feet, he finds a whole toolbox Vegeta instantly recognizes as Bulma's and wonders to himself how the boy even managed to get here, much less climb high enough to the table to knock it down.
"What are you-"
The boy sends another object his way, this time with even greater force and speed behind it though Vegeta is far more alert now and snatches the screwdriver just as it's about to cut his cheek. Noticing that the boys calling out for his ball back, Vegeta finds himself intrigued and tosses the ball with the same force as his son did.
As it did before, the drone smashes against the walls only to be stopped moments later by Trunks, not even a year old, leaping into the air and catching it before landing onto the ground as if he'd been practicing the maneuver when no one was looking. Then he slumps back onto the ground, a giggling baby just like any other.
For the first time in a while, Vegeta finds himself genuinely smiling at the display. "Hmm, not bad kid."
As if he perfectly understood him, Trunks' enthusiasm only grows, prompting him to prepare another toss at his father. Impressed by his display and with little else to do, Vegeta decides to play this little game and prepares himself for the incoming toss.