AN: A while back, I had a challenge to write a Piccolo story with a twist ending. Well, after wracking my brain for quite some time in search of an idea, I finally did it. I really hope this makes sense when you read it. It's kind of weird, but you'll never guess the ending. Unless you're psychic or cheat and read ahead or something. Enjoy my twisted little tale. I don't own DBZ.

Incident in the Desert

The battle was being waged in the middle of the desert, and one being stood alone at the moment against something that had appeared out of nowhere. The problem was, that someone was losing.

Piccolo stared into the blinding light of the ki blast that was hurtling towards him at an almost unfathomable speed. Could he possibly get out of the way in time?

Yes, he could!

He dove to the side, making a rather ungraceful landing that left him sprawled in the dust and sand that was the floor of the desert. Had he more time, he might have gloated a bit, but there just wasn't time for that kind of thing right then! That thing was still there, and still attacking him with a vengeance. It was too powerful. He had to get away!

And get away he did. He took to the air and shot across the sky, speeding away from danger and almost certain death. He knew he was running away, a cowardly thing to do, but for some reason it really didn't bother him then. At that moment, it didn't matter. Piccolo was free. He was free!

The scenery passed by beneath him, and he was surprised to realize that he was actually looking at it. Since he'd gotten out of range of his attacker, he'd slowed down, and could make out everything quite clearly. Flowers, trees, rivers, mountains…he was actually noticing these things, instead of doing what he normally did and not paying any attention to the natural beauty of the world around him.

Up ahead was a familiar sight. Something he did recognize—Mount Paoz. That was where the Son family had made their home. Soon he would be able to see their house.

Yes! There it was! And there they were! Gohan was running around outside with Goten and Trunks, playing some sort of game—the kind of thing that humans did to keep themselves amused and occupied. The sound of laughter drifted up to his sensitive ears. It was a wonderful sound—laughter. By the cozy little house, Son Goku was sitting with his wife, Vegeta, and Bulma; they seemed to be engaged in a lively conversation (except for Vegeta, who was doing his best to remain as antisocial as possible) as they watched their sons run around the yard. They all paused in their conversing long enough to wave up at him, except for Vegeta, of course, who pretended not to acknowledge his presence.

In spite of himself, Piccolo realized that he was waving back. Then he was far past the house, and the Son family and their guests disappeared, buried behind a thick curtain of trees.

The forest gave way to the ocean, a wide, seemingly endless expanse of blue. In the sunlight, it almost looked like someone had sprinkled millions of tiny diamonds all over the surface of the water, where they sparkled happily, winking up at Piccolo.

After a short time, the little island came into view. Piccolo could see the odd-looking pink house with the word "Kame" stamped proudly across it. And his sharp Namekian eyes could make out several people outside the house, hanging out on the beach.

Master Roshi, of course…Krillen…Yamcha…the animals…even the android, Number Eighteen and her daughter, Marron. Everyone was there. More laughter and talking from the group below made its way to his superb Namekian hearing.

Then the island and the people on it were gone, replaced by more ocean. But not for long. Soon, another island came into view, a familiar little place. He recognized it immediately. That was the place where he'd first dumped Gohan for training after Radditz had made that grand appearance. That had been long, long ago, far back, when Gohan was still a frightened, whining child. It was so long ago.

Piccolo landed in the middle of the desert and looked around. This place was so much like the place he'd just run away from, with the exception of one major difference. There, he had been an intruder, struggling for his very life. Here, he was completely at home. Comfortable, and familiar. He was free here.

The sound of laughter suddenly manifested itself to his ears, and it both startled and confused him. Why was he hearing that sound, laughter, out here in the middle of nowhere? It made no sense.

He followed the noise towards a small cluster of trees standing nearby. He pushed through the miniature forest, ducking under random branches. The sound was getting louder…he pushed one more branch away…it had to be right there…

Pain. Pain seized him, weaving itself through his entire being. Pain, embracing him, clutching at him, holding him fast in a terrible grasp. It was far worse than anything he'd ever experienced in his life. Even more terrible than when he had been hit by that blast Nappa had thrown at Gohan. That had been an absolute picnic compared to this!

For some reason, he could sense the others coming, but he seemed to know that it didn't matter. Why was he thinking like that? What was happening?

He heard a strange sound then, and suddenly realized that it was his own voice. He was screaming…screaming in pain…

The ki blast tore through him, tearing him apart, incinerating him. And what had once been the great Piccolo, King of the Demons, was reduced to dust. Dust that was carried on the wind over the shifting desert sand where the battle had been waged.

And into oblivion.

AN: Did that make sense? Everything that happened in the story was actually in Piccolo's head in the instant before he died. Clear now? I know that was weird. But I promised a twist ending, and I hope I delivered. Thanks for reading!