Rising to the Challenge – The Legacy of Son Gohan
Chapter 16 – Revelations
"Gohan… can you beat him?" Videl asked softly, the concern in her tone almost tangible.
The Son boy exhaled deeply. "As I am now… if I go all out… then yes, I can beat him."
Videl smiled. "Good."
The next thing Gohan knew, the raven-haired crime fighter was pressing her lips against his in a chaste kiss. It only lasted for a couple of seconds, but it enough to set his cheeks ablaze and make his heart race. When she pulled back, he noticed her face was equally as flushed.
"Just something for good luck," she mumbled nervously. "And if you win, there'll be a lot more where that came from… if you want it, that is."
Gohan didn't know if it was because of the adrenaline coursing through his veins, but Videl's kiss triggered something within him, and in the heat of the moment he mashed his lips against hers. Their kiss was longer this time, and far more passionate. What felt like an eternity of repressed emotions that once weighed him down evaporated in an instant, leaving in their place a bubbling warmth that swelled inside him.
When the pair's lips separated, their eyes met, and no further words needed to be said. Videl took off towards the construction site, while Gohan faced the direction that Cooler was approaching from.
Within moments, the alien tyrant sped into view and barrelled towards Gohan, a grotesque purple aura shrouding his lean form while his red eyes glowered dangerously at the demi-Saiyan. Matching the glare behind his helmet, Gohan brought out all the power he could muster in his base form, cloaking himself in an armour of white flames and making a massive crater in the ground. Then, with the force of a sonic boom, he launched himself at Cooler with his fist pulled back.
Gohan and Cooler's right fists collided with the sound of a thunderclap, and the ground beneath them shook. Gritting in exertion, the two fighters pushed against one another evenly for a few seconds, until Gohan broke the deadlock and blew his opponent's fist back. He followed that up by dashing forward, slipping past a retaliatory left jab, and ramming a ruthless right hook into the alien's ribs.
Cooler gasped in pain as spittle flew from his mouth, and Gohan took advantage of this loss in focus to plant his palms on the ground and launch the tyrant into the air with a reverse mule kick. Not giving him even a moment to gather his bearings, the demi-Saiyan rocketed upwards with a burst of speed and unleashed several punches at Cooler's midsection, each blow sending the alien higher into the sky.
Once Gohan deemed them to be at a reasonable height, he halted his onslaught and gripped Cooler hard by the tail, then began spinning him around with such intensity that it appeared as if a tornado had formed. After that, he flung the shell-shocked alien towards the south.
Before Cooler could even think to respond, Gohan rushed forward and latched his arms around the purple-skinned being in a bone-crushing bearhug, while using the momentum of his charge to propel his opponent towards where the casino resort was being built.
With his arms pinned tightly against his sides, Cooler could do nothing but twitch futilely against the helmeted superhero's overwhelming strength. However, he was by no means helpless, and Gohan quickly found that out when two debilitatingly precise beams of purple ki flew from the alien's eyes and struck him in the base of the spine.
The demi-Saiyan cried out in pain and loosened his grip ever so slightly, but that was enough for Cooler to flare his ki and break out of Gohan's hold. Momentarily stunned by the shockwave, the Son boy could do nothing as a sharp elbow struck him in the back and shot him towards the ground like a comet. Gohan's body slammed into the road below and broke through the hard concrete with a deafening crash, leaving a crater in its wake.
Coughing from the dust and dirt he'd accidentally inhaled, the caped warrior attempted to rise to his feet, but a sudden Death Beam to the back made him gasp and halted his ascent. This was immediately followed by yet another Death Beam, and then a third and fourth. The next thing Gohan knew, Cooler was firing a brutal, chain gun-like barrage of Death Beams into his grounded form, pushing him deeper into the bedrock.
Gohan grit his teeth as he felt the dangerous beams of ki riddle his cape full of holes and set his back ablaze. Anger built within him at the thought of how he'd been caught off guard by his adversary, and with a vicious roar punctuating a sudden surge of ki, the demi-Saiyan pushed through the pain and rose to his feet, ignoring the ongoing bombardment with sheer willpower. Once he was standing up straight, he crossed his arms over his chest and flung them outwards with a spirited shout, the resulting explosive wave blowing away all the smoke and dust clouding his figure.
Briefly free from Cooler's assault, Gohan lifted his hands above his head and thrust them towards the airborne alien. "Masenko!" he cried, letting loose a flamelike beam of yellow energy that surged towards his target.
The tyrant's eyes widened and he attempted to move out of the way of the onrushing attack, but wasn't quick enough to stop a sizeable portion of sizzling hot ki grazing his left side. He shrieked in agony as the Masenko charred his purple skin, and then hunched over in anguish as Gohan materialised before him in a burst of speed and buried a fist in his abdomen.
The demi-Saiyan didn't relent in his counterattack, digging his fingers into Cooler's temples and ramming his helmeted forehead against the alien's blue crest a total of three times. Then, without letting go, he swung Cooler's head directly into the path of his rising knee, taking note of the familiar sensation of cartilage breaking.
With Cooler substantially dazed, Gohan shifted to a one-handed grip on the alien's head, crushing the purple face against his palm, and flung him at the ground without letting go. Upon crashing, this enhanced momentum led to another sizable crater being formed in the road.
After the initial collision, Gohan slammed the back of the tyrant's cranium into the bedrock a few times, then charged a deadly ball of ki within his occupied hand. The attack quickly engulfed the evil being's head and erupted in a contained explosion.
When the small blast subsided, Gohan hurled the wounded Cooler harshly down the road and watched him skip along the concrete like a pebble across water, smashing into abandoned cars as though he were a white and purple battering ram. He eventually came to a stop a fair way away from Gohan and collapsed on the ground, motionless.
That brought the demi-Saiyan no small amount of satisfaction; being able to take down this new threat with minimal civilian casualties and property destruction would make the victory all the sweeter.
People slowly started poking their heads out of windows and stepping onto the street, rejoicing when they saw the battered form of Cooler. Cheers sounded throughout the civilian crowd, and within seconds there was a jubilant chant going, "Saiyaman! Saiyaman! Saiyaman!"
Before Gohan could respond, he saw Cooler's body twitch, and a putrid ki flooded his senses. His eyes widened. "Everyone! Get back inside! He's not out of it yet!"
Quickly flaring his ki, the startled superhero sped towards the alien, who was rapidly rising to his feet. Once he had stood up, two balls of ki formed in his purple hands, but before he could do anything with them, Gohan speared him with devastating force.
The pair of fighters engaged in a vicious exchange of close quarter punches as they spiralled through the city streets in a blur of speed, completely untraceable to the untrained eye. Gohan hammered Cooler in the gut with an array of violent hooks, while the tyrannical alien returned fire with concentrated punches aimed at the body's weak points.
The exchange ended abruptly when Cooler wrapped his long tail around Gohan's legs, tightened his grip, and tossed him at the ground. The moment the demi-Saiyan collided with the hard concrete below, his purple adversary slammed into his chest with a savage stomp, a clawed foot raking across his flesh and tearing away his green tunic.
Gohan cried out, then gasped as the momentum of the attack sent plummeting through the ground, and landing in a long, dark corridor illuminated by faint lights. The moment he felt wooden planks and metal rails dig into his back, his eyes bulged, and a sense of panic welled up inside him. 'The subway!'
Cooler proceeded to follow through on his initial stomp with another one, but Gohan reacted fast enough to roll out of the way, kip up back to his feet, and land a side thrust kick into the alien's hip.
Unfortunately for the demi-Saiyan, this did little to hurt the tyrant, and simply sent him skidding away a few metres. He recovered quickly, and within seconds, the two combatants were back to brawling with one another. After an even exchange, they ended up locking hands across the railroad, pushing against each other in a test of strength.
"How are you still standing?" Gohan ground out.
Cooler chuckled darkly amid tired pants. "You're dealing with a power far beyond your comprehension, boy!" he shot back.
Gohan scowled and tightened his grip on his opponent's hands, trying to crush the two appendages into paste. However, before he could make any progress, a blaring horn rang in his ear and a bright light washed over the two grappling warriors. 'Crap!'
Seeing as he had to act immediately, Gohan disengaged from the test of strength and landed a quick snap kick on Cooler's shin, making the alien yelp. He then placed his open palms in front of his face, facing inwards. "Taiyo-ken!"
A white light far brighter than that of the train's headlights illuminated the subway tunnel, and Cooler could do nothing but scream as it burnt his retinas. Temporarily blinded, the purple-skinned being was completely unaware of Gohan clenching his right fist, swinging it up from a low angle, and landing a three-quarter uppercut directly on the underside of his chin.
Shards of broken teeth erupted from Cooler's mouth as he was launched upwards and out of the large hole Gohan's body had formed in the road. The demi-Saiyan immediately followed suit, narrowly avoiding the onrushing train and saving many lives from a lethal collision.
Now back in the sky, Gohan dashed at the confused alien, who was still rubbing the sight back into his eyes, and began laying into him with numerous hard punches and kicks to the torso, each blow prompting a gasp from the tyrant. After this had gone on for a few seconds, Gohan switched up his approach and started slapping the evil being silly.
Cooler's head swung from side to side under the brutal barrage, the sickening sound of palm smacking against skin reverberating through the area as the Son boy took out his frustration on his opponent's rapidly reddening cheeks.
However, before Gohan could deal any serious damage, he felt one arm get caught mid-swing, and then the other. Shocked, he saw Cooler slowly open his blood red eyes, a pained grimace on his features. Not given even a moment to respond, the caped superhero was launched backwards when his alien adversary pulled his hands forward and planted a deadly dropkick into his chest.
Immediately noticing that he was about to crash into a tall office building, Gohan grit his teeth and flung his hands backwards, expelling a small kiai that slowed his speed and allowed him to skid to a mid-air stop just before impact.
Gohan was then forced to react instantly as Cooler barrelled towards him with his right fist pulled back. Seeing as he had no other option, the demi-Saiyan held out his palms and cleanly caught the alien's fist, saving himself from harm. Unfortunately, he was unable to stop the wind generated from the clash of hands, which blew out the back of him and shattered the windows of the building he'd been trying to stop from falling. It was a better outcome, but still far from ideal.
The alarmed screams of innocent office workers assaulted Gohan's ears, causing rage to well up inside him. He tightened his grip on Cooler's fist as the alien tried to break free of the hold, but to no avail. "Who ar-are you?" the purple being stammered. "This planet-"
"Why. Won't. You. Stay. Down!?" Gohan screamed, ignoring the question and cutting Cooler off mid-sentence. Enraged, and seeing an opportunity to capitalise on his advantageous position, the costumed warrior swung his left arm to the side and rammed his forearm into the underside of the tyrant's elbow.
Cooler screeched in pure agony as his arm snapped at the joint and hung loosely at his side. This was followed up by a fierce front kick which struck his abdomen and propelled him backwards. Before he could collide with anything inanimate, Gohan zipped behind him with a burst of speed and buried his knee in the alien's ribs, eliciting another anguished cry and altering his trajectory through the air.
What followed was a downright devastating beating from the demi-Saiyan, who repeated this process several times to send his injured adversary zigzagging past buildings, until the construction site of the casino resort came into view.
The location was a large and mostly bare plot of land in the middle of the middle of the city, which was why Gohan wanted to bring the fight there. A few bulldozers, cement mixers and cranes were scattered around the sandy ground, showing that construction had only recently begun, but other than that there was nothing of note.
Quickly shifting his body so that Cooler was positioned between him and his intended destination, Gohan fired a piercing punch into the alien's sternum. Then, without removing his hand, he opened his palm and launched a simple energy beam that propelled the tyrant towards the middle of the construction site.
Not wanting to relent in his assault, Gohan flared his ki and dashed towards Cooler's helpless form. When his target came into range, the superhero rotated his body for extra momentum and drilled a debilitating elbow into the alien's throat, subsequently sending him shooting into the ground and causing a minor earthquake upon colliding with the hard dirt.
Gohan panted lightly as he observed the thick dust cloud below, desperately hoping that the fight was over. Cooler wasn't overly strong, all things considered, but his durability was unnaturally high, and as such his propensity to shrug off near-fatal attacks could not be underestimated.
"Gohan, that was incredible!"
Said Son boy was taken by surprise when Videl flew at him out of nowhere and wrapped her arms around his muscular midsection. He was so focused on searching for Cooler's ki signature that he'd completely missed the raven-haired girl. Despite everything, he allowed a small quirk of his lips and returned the hug, relishing the feel of Videl in his arms. Being in her presence always improved his mood.
"I've never seen anyone move so fast before! And that power… man, that was crazy!" she continued excitedly.
Before Gohan could reply, a whirring sound in the distance grabbed his attention. Startled, he glanced towards the source, and grimaced when he saw a helicopter approaching the construction site. To further compound his annoyance, the spinning of rotors was heard once again, only this time from the opposite side.
"Crap, it's the media," Videl cursed under her breath. "Of course they'd be here. When it comes to big news, those morons have no sense of self-preservation."
Gohan removed himself from Videl's embrace and frowned worriedly at the dust cloud that had risen below. There hadn't been any sign of Cooler for a while now, and the demi-Saiyan had dealt what would ordinarily be a fatal blow… but something still didn't sit right with him. "I have a bad feeling about this," he remarked concernedly.
Gohan's suspicions were quickly proven right when he felt Cooler's sickly ki spike without warning. The next thing he knew, a Death Beam came whizzing at Videl's head. With only a millisecond to respond, the helmeted superhero moved on instinct and stuck his left hand in the path of the onrushing attack, only to cry out in agony when the searing hot energy burned a hole through his gloved palm, but thankfully didn't penetrate further.
Not even a moment later, two larger waves of purple ki shot out from the dust cloud and sped towards the incoming news helicopters. Resisting the urge to wince because of his aching hand, a panicking Gohan cupped his hands above his head. "Masenko!"
As the yellow ki blast rocketed towards one of Cooler's ki blasts to deflect it, Gohan used the momentum that came with launching it to give himself a small speed boost, and accelerated towards the alien's second attack with urgency, a white aura blazing around his fast-moving figure. He managed to reach the helicopter just before it got hit, and had enough composure to backhand Cooler's ki beam into the sky, where it sailed harmlessly into space.
Furious, Gohan turned around and glared at the occupants of the helicopter. "You need to leave this place now!" he growled uncharacteristically. "It's too dangerous for you to stay here!"
"Are you kidding? This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get first-hand footage of an alien invasion! We'd be nuts to miss it!" a bespectacled man with a microphone retorted. "Besides, it looks like you have everything under control, Mr Saiyaman!"
Next to him, a man with a backwards cap was pointing a giant video camera at the superhero and flashing him a thumbs-up. The third occupant of the helicopter – the pilot – grinned in his direction.
Gohan grit his teeth and would've tugged at his hair in frustration if it wasn't being covered by his helmet. Seeing as trying to reason with them would be futile, as well as a luxury he didn't have time for, the demi-Saiyan spared one last glance and the media team and was about to rush at Cooler, only to be stopped in his tracks by a sickening sight that made his heart stop.
A pillar of purple energy waves rose from the dust cloud and rained down upon the area, incinerating whatever they touched and bathing the ground in a sea of smoke and fire.
"NOOOO!" Gohan screamed, panic overtaking him. His eyes immediately shifted towards Videl, who he was shocked to see darting between the destructive ki attacks, holding two men by the arms while another clung to her back. Upon noticing the burning helicopter plummeting to the ground, and the large camera being carried by one of the men, the demi-Saiyan instantly put the pieces together and felt a weight lift off his shoulders. 'Thank Kami!'
However, he wasn't given any time to dwell on this thought, as an array of ki blasts flew towards him and the remaining helicopter. With his body shaking in rage, Gohan spread his arms and erected an energy shield in front of him. Multiple beams of ki then pelted against the superhero's barrier, but it stood strong under the onslaught.
This brief lull in the fighting gave Gohan the opportunity to survey his surroundings. While he, Videl and the two news crews were safe, the buildings surrounding the construction site were set ablaze. With sorrow welling up within him, he could only hope that the innocent people residing in those buildings had noticed the chaos taking place and got away before this latest act of aggression.
Cooler's ki barrage wavered momentarily, and Gohan saw this as this as the perfect time to strike back. His energy shield shattered, and a flaming aura of white sprang to life around him, disintegrating the remaining ki waves. His eyes narrowed ominously at where he knew the evil tyrant stood. "You ruthless, heartless bastard!"
With a booming roar, Gohan dashed towards Cooler, his billowing aura blowing away the dust cloud that masked his alien adversary. Upon reaching striking range, the infuriated demi-Saiyan lashed out with a right-handed punch that the tyrant caught in his hands with noticeable effort, his previously unusable left arm now once again fully functional.
"Surprised to see me?" the purple-skinned being asked with a sickening smirk, the force of the blow having made him skid along the ground.
Gohan said nothing and wrenched his arm free in a show of strength, then followed that up by grabbing Cooler's wrist with the same hand and pulling the alien in for a left-handed palm strike to the underside of the chin, rattling his brain in the process. The Son boy's hand stung from the impact, but he ignored it, knowing better than to draw attention to it in a fight.
His next move was to grip Cooler by the cranium with his injured hand, and dig his fingers into the alien's temples. He then pulled down and smashed three savage uppercuts into the tyrant's face, knocking him onto his back and making him spit out a glob of blood.
In what made for a truly nauseating image, Cooler's face was now coated in the thick red liquid, mostly from his own injuries, but also from Gohan's hurt hand smearing its own blood across him.
Panting lightly, Gohan stalked menacingly towards his downed adversary, but in another astounding display of durability, Cooler swung his tail and grabbed the demi-Saiyan's injured hand. Before the superhero could wring it free, the alien drilled the tip of his tail into the open wound, widening it as though he was digging a hole in a sandpit.
This time, Gohan couldn't hide his discomfort, and was forced to let out an agonised yell as his hand erupted in pain. This rendered him powerless to respond to Cooler's slimy tail wrapping itself around his neck and flinging him to the ground.
From there, the alien dropped to the dirt and planted his knees in Gohan's biceps, preventing the boy from moving his arms. He then proceeded to unload an unrelenting barrage of punches at the downed warrior, all the while tightening the chokehold his tail had on the demi-Saiyan's neck.
Gohan could only sputter helplessly as Cooler's knuckles rained down on his head. His helmet protected him to a degree, but he could feel it cracking from the force of the alien's repeated blows, and if the prolonged assault continued for much longer, it would break entirely. That would've been disastrous.
The punches didn't hurt Gohan too much – it was the tail crushing his windpipe that was doing most of the damage – but he knew he couldn't keep this up forever. Thankfully, he had a plan.
"Just die already!" Cooler roared through bloodied and broken teeth. Blood from his cut-up mouth splattered all over Gohan's visor as he shouted, but the Son boy paid it no heed. His focus was solely on charging up as much ki as he could in his throat – a task made exceedingly more difficult due to the pressure being applied by the alien's tail.
Eventually, Cooler grew tired of his current assault and stopped punching. His red orbs glowed a dark purple, signifying his intent to blow Gohan's head off with an eye beam. Unfortunately for him, this gave the demi-Saiyan the perfect opportunity to retaliate, and he did just that by opening his mouth and launching from within it a blue energy blast that exploded against Cooler's face.
'Thank you, Piccolo,' Gohan remarked mentally. The mouth blast he'd just fired wasn't particularly strong, but it was potent enough to momentarily stun the evil alien and force him to loosen his tail.
Taking advantage of that, Gohan slipped his pinned arms free and grabbed Cooler's tail. He then brought the purple appendage to his mouth and unflinchingly bit into it as hard as he could.
Cooler screeched like a hurt hyena and instantly unwrapped his tail from Gohan's neck so that he could leap backwards to safety. However, the demi-Saiyan wasn't prepared to let his adversary off the hook, and latched on to the tail before it was retracted fully. With his strength now fully returned, he was quick enough to hop to his feet and stomp on the long appendage.
This time, Cooler let out a startled yelp as he tried to yank his tail free from under Gohan's boot, but it was a futile endeavour. The evil tyrant was then rendered completely helpless as his costumed opponent unloaded a multitude of ferocious hooks and crosses upon his head, ricocheting it from side to side like a large pinball.
Gohan felt the flesh on his adversary's face tear under the prolonged battering as blood coated his white gloves, but he ignored both it and the searing pain in his left hand. He could sense that the end to their fight was drawing near… all he needed was one decisive finishing blow.
With that in mind, Gohan stopped his vicious onslaught, and saw that Cooler's face was bruised to the point that it was barely recognisable. His nose was crooked, his cheeks had swelled dramatically, and his cold red eyes – which were fluttering open and closed as he drifted towards unconsciousness – were almost completely hidden under the swelling on his brow.
It was a pitiful sight, and Gohan knew it was time to put Cooler out of his misery. He landed a quick side thrust kick with his right leg to the alien's left shin, snapping it and making him topple forward. Before he could collapse completely, the demi-Saiyan retracted his foot, and with immense flexibility and perfect form, crouched low and buried another thrust kick into his opponent's gut, launching the purple being into the air.
Gohan stared at the ascending figure and cupped his uninjured right hand at his waist. "Kaaa meee haaa meee HAAA!" An enormous ball of dazzling blue ki formed in front of his palm, and was hurled mercilessly at Cooler's brutalised figure.
The Son boy let out a relieved sigh as he watched the cylindrical beam of energy wash over his defeated foe. His brows then furrowed. Something was wrong… very, very wrong. Cooler's energy wasn't going down. Instead, it had skyrocketed to new heights, making Gohan's eyes widen in shock. 'No, no, no, no, no! You've got to be kidding me!' he screamed mentally. 'What the hell is it with this damned family!?'
Another one-handed Kamehameha was hastily formed and fired at the ki signature, but it exploded harmlessly upon colliding with an invisible barrier.
Gohan grit his teeth and glared dejectedly at where he felt Cooler's ki. When the smoke from his failed Kamehameha cleared, he was treated to the sight of a drastically different-looking alien.
Cooler's transformation had given him a noticeable size increase, as he was now both taller and significantly bulkier. The carapace on his shoulders had morphed into a hooplike shape, while the carapaces on his wrists and shins had gained dark blue crests in the same mould as the one on his head. His forearms also sported two deadly bladelike protrusions that looked like they could gut a man with a single slash.
However, the most severe change was that the carapace on Cooler's cranium now completely encased his head, and had four large spikes extending from it. A visor-like component of the same material covered the alien's mouth, while the curved 'M' adorning the crest on his forehead still stood out prominently.
Perhaps most worryingly, all the prior damage Cooler had sustained appeared to have healed, causing Gohan to curse under his breath.
"You seem surprised at my appearance," the evil tyrant observed, his voice calm and collected, but no less threatening. "I can't fault you for that. After all, this is a form I have worked tirelessly to attain, and one that neither my father nor dimwit brother knew anything about." He clenched and unclenched his purple fist. "Truthfully, I had planned to use it to kill Freeza myself, but someone already beat me to it… and I can't help but want to know who I have to thank for that."
His red eyes then narrowed at the demi-Saiyan and gleamed ominously. "I must commend you on pushing me this far, but I'm afraid our little confrontation will end here. First, I'll kill the people you care about, and then I'll beat the information out of you."
Gohan's breath hitched in his throat, and it took him a fraction of a second to process what he'd heard before he found himself speeding towards Videl as Cooler fired a simple ki blast in her direction.
The Son boy reached the girl with nary a moment to spare and planted himself in front of her protectively, crossing his arms over his chest as the beam struck him. He screamed as the skin on his arms burned from the heat, but he refused to budge. "V-V-Videl…. Ge-get out of h-here!" he ground out through gritted teeth.
Said raven-haired girl could do nothing but stare in horror as the boy she'd come to care so deeply for literally put himself in the line of fire for her. Despite his body acting as a barrier, she could still feel the surface of her skin start to boil, and couldn't imagine what kind of pain he was going through. "Gohan… I can't just leave y-"
"Do as I say!" the superhero shouted, interrupting the crime fighter and startling her with his volume. "Pl-please t-trust me… I got this," he pleaded, his voice laced with exertion.
Videl wiped her eyes and nodded resolutely. She had trusted Gohan thus far, and she would continue to trust him, as he hadn't given her a reason not to. It hurt her deeply to leave him to suffer like this, but she knew she'd only be a hindrance if she stayed.
With that thought in mind, and a heavy heart weighing her down, Videl flew away as fast as she could until she reached the edge of the construction site. She then turned back towards the action, and was elated to see Gohan overcome the ki blast he was struggling against and fling it into space. The sleeves of his costume were burnt off, exposing chiselled arms that were red and raw, and the front of his spandex outfit was torn and frayed, but he was still standing.
However, the joy Videl was feeling quickly turned to despair, as Cooler vanished from view and reappeared before Gohan, a fist buried in the boy's chest. The superhero spat out blood and hunched over his opponent's fist, to which the evil alien responded by lifting his other arm and ramming an elbow into the caped teenager's back.
Gohan plummeted to the ground with a thunderous tremor, and was given no time to even attempt to get back on his feet, as Cooler grabbed a hold of his leg with his tail, and started slamming the boy harshly into the rough dirt. The ground shook with each collision, and Videl felt tears well up. 'Come on, Gohan! Get up and fight! You said you would win!'
From her position, she could see Gohan flail around in his opponent's grip, which was a somewhat promising sign as it meant he wasn't down for the count yet. Unfortunately, she knew all too well that spirit alone could only get you so far. Her heart clenched, and she cursed her inability to do anything to help.
Eventually, Cooler grew tired of slamming Gohan into the ground, and unwrapped his tail from around the boy's leg, only to coil it around his neck instead. Choking his young opponent with the long appendage, the evil alien brought Gohan close to his face, and headbutted him several times. He then pulled back his leg and booted the teenager in the chest, sending him careening through the air and setting him on a collision course with a burning building.
Videl's hands flew to her mouth, but before disaster could strike, she saw Gohan fling his arms to the side and right himself in the air. Cooler was having none of it though, and in an act that dashed whatever hint of hope she was feeling, disappeared with a sonic boom and materialised behind Gohan. The evil alien then clasped his meaty hand around the superhero's cape, and swung him like a wrecking ball against the side of the building, smashing several windows in the process.
The next few seconds happened in a blur for Videl, as she was unable to track the two fighters' movements. Tangible shockwaves appeared in the air, rapidly rising until they were high above the tall building. Then, a deafening boom was heard, and the next thing she knew, something went crashing through the top of the building with tremendous force. With the tall structure already in awful shape, this was the final trigger needed to make it collapse inwards, burying the poor soul beneath it in a pile of flaming rubble.
The ground rumbled and a large dust cloud blanketed the surface of the street.
A tattered red cape sailed lifelessly through the air.
A ball-like black and orange object spun through the sky before embedding itself into the rough dirt of the construction site.
As though in a trance, Videl hovered robotically towards the object and picked it up with trembling hands. It was Gohan's Saiyaman helmet, battered and dented with the top having caved in on itself – a far cry from the once bright and colourful symbol of Satan City's protector. In addition to that, the left side of the visor was gone, having been pierced by something thick and sharp enough to leave a large hole in the back of the helmet.
Videl held the helmet with both hands and rested it against her forehead. Memories of all the happy times she'd experienced with Gohan flashed through her head, ending with when she finally plucked up the courage to kiss him. It was by no means something she'd planned in advance, but the sheer confidence, courage and selflessness the Son boy exuded while defending the city, as well as the commanding presence his aura projected, was exhilarating to be around. That, combined with the stakes at hand, lit a fire inside the girl and prompted her to act – to let him know how she truly felt.
And now… he was gone. With that realisation Videl's heart shattered, and tears flowed from her eyes like a waterfall. The helmet slipped from her hands and his fists clenched hard enough to draw blood, unwelcome sobs racking her body. She screamed to the heavens at the top of her lungs, uncaring who heard her, and raw, unfiltered rage seeped from her pores.
She then rose to her feet and glared at Cooler through narrowed, tear-ridden eyes. The evil alien was hovering calmly above the destroyed building, observing the wreckage below. His unabashed nonchalance over the act of cruelty he'd just committed was the final straw for Videl.
With another scream, the crime fighter brought out all the ki she had remaining, cloaking her body in a thin white aura, and charged at Cooler with all the malice she could muster, common sense be damned. She didn't get very far, though, as a sudden pulse in the air made her come to a screeching halt.
Videl froze, and a chill ran down her spine as the temperature seemed to drop. Her heart skipped a beat, and then the world started to shake. Bits of rubble floated precariously above the ground, and the dust around the toppled building swirled as though drawn towards a tornado. There was another pulse in the air, followed by a flash of gold, and then everything went white.
Videl yelled out as a sudden surge of overwhelming ki flooded her senses like a tidal wave. Her previous attempts learning how to sense ki had proved mostly fruitless, and the best she could do was sense the presence of people close by. But now… it felt as though she had dived into a bottomless well of ki against her will and become submerged within it. It made her nauseous, and her head felt like splitting, but after a few seconds the pain disappeared, and was replaced by a comforting warmth that seemed to blanket her very soul.
Her vision cleared, and her eyes and mouth widened at what she saw. 'Well… shit.'
Standing in the rubble of the ruined building, wreathed in an aura of golden flames, was a tall shirtless figure. His muscular torso glistened with sweat, and small cuts peppered his otherwise flawless body. Angry teal orbs glared coldly at an awestruck Cooler above, a sizable gash above his left eye making blood drip down his face, and giving him an even more fearsome visage. Familiar but oh-so different locks of spiky golden hair jutted from his head, and a lone bang hung over his forehead.
A wave of emotions hit Videl like a truck, and her heart pounded as she tried to make sense of them.
First was shock – absolute shock at having finally found the answer she'd sought after for so long. Then came dejection, as it made too much sense, and was something that should've been obvious had she just trusted her instincts. What followed was a tinge of betrayal at having been lied to – again – but it was quickly shot down by a newfound acceptance. There was still a good deal of anger and frustration there, but she knew why he did it, and would wait to hear his side of the story. Then there was elation – pure, innocent elation at the revelation that her first crush, and the hero who ultimately saved the world from Cell, was the boy she was currently in love with.
A shaky smile spread across Videl's lips. 'Gohan, you big, stupid goof. Go and kick his ass already.'
Gohan cursed under his breath as he scowled in Cooler's direction. Everything had gone downhill since the evil alien had transformed, forcing the Son boy to turn Super Saiyan. On top of that, the city had sustained even more damage. Granted, it was nothing the Dragon Balls couldn't fix, but it stung him all the same. He was supposed to be this city's protector, and he had let its people down.
Seeing as now was not the time to deal with them, Gohan cast those distressing thoughts aside. Then, with an untraceable speed to those around him, he dashed in front of Cooler and drove his fist into the tyrant's stomach, making him keel over breathlessly as the wind was knocked out of him, and puke out a wad of blood that splattered onto the street below.
"You wanted to know who I was, didn't you?" Gohan whispered into Cooler's ear, twisting his ki-imbued fist and drawing a gasp of pain from the alien. "I am Son Gohan, a Super Saiyan." A rising elbow then shattered the tyrant's jaw, making him gurgle helplessly. "It's quite fitting, isn't it? After all, your father and brother also met their end at the hands of a Super Saiyan."
Cooler's red eyes bulged at the information, but before he could respond, a savage spinning heel kick struck him in the temple and sent him hurtling towards the construction site. Gohan immediately gave chase and darted behind the alien, his blazing aura leaving a golden trail in the sky. Once he was in range, he jammed his knee into the base of Cooler's spine, propelling the tyrant high into the air.
With yet another indiscernible burst of speed, he rocketed after Cooler and launched him towards the ground with a violent double hammerfist strike to the cranium. As the evil being went plummeting face-first towards the earth, Gohan followed suit, and drilled his foot into the back of the alien's head, hastening his descent and hurting him even more.
The wounded Cooler – with Gohan standing on his back as though he were a surfboard – crashed upon the hard dirt of the already-devastated construction site like a meteorite, splitting the ground and generating an earthquake that shook Satan City. He spat out more blood and tried to crawl away from his overwhelmingly powerful opponent, but a hard grip on his tail made that plan of action impossible.
In an act of payback for his earlier treatment at Cooler's hands, Gohan swung the tyrant by the tail and slammed him into the ground several times, each collision eliciting a pained grunt from the alien and sending a tremor through the area. Once he felt his adversary was sufficiently injured, the demi-Saiyan swung him around like a lasso and flung him high into the air.
Cooler was eventually able to right himself and gather his bearings, but the damage done to him was severe. One of the spikes atop his head had snapped off, while the visor covering his mouth had large cracks running through it. His purple face was littered with various lacerations and bruises, and there were several notable indentations across his torso. On top of all that, he was wheezing audibly and looked to be struggling to breathe.
Gohan's facial expression betrayed nothing as he gazed up at his suffering foe. He simply held his right hand out to the side and formed a swirling ball of blue ki within it. However, before he could hurl the sparkling orb of energy at the alien and eliminate him for good, a fit of bizarre behaviour made him pause.
Cooler had clutched his forehead with both hands and was shaking furiously while screaming something unintelligible. A sickly purple aura formed around his burly figure and he shakily lifted his right arm into the air, panting with exertion. Veins bulged around his blood red eyes, and the curved 'M' on his forehead seemed to glow unnaturally. A marble-sized sphere of orange came to life at the tip of his extended finger.
"I will not be anyone's slave any longer!" he suddenly roared as the tiny ball of energy he was forming ballooned to a tremendous size. It was now reminiscent of a miniature sun: giant, bulbous and a yellowish-orange in cover, with the surface bubbling and boiling. Rays of searing heat shone from the pulsating energy, making the air shimmer. "You and your ilk have disgraced my family for the last time! Now perish with the rest of this accursed planet!"
Gohan stared impassively as the gargantuan ball of ki sailed towards him. Even when it got close enough to make him sweat, he remained unflinching. He had seen an attack of this magnitude before, and as he was now, stopping it was child's play.
The demi-Saiyan casually reached out with his right hand and planted his palm against the energy sphere. Then, with a gentle push, he reversed the momentum of the attack and returned it to its sender.
Cooler's eyes bulged dramatically as the radiant ki ball floated unsteadily towards him. "What!? Impossible! My Supernova… how!?" With an anguished cry, he thrust both hands against the sphere and tried to push it back towards his adversary.
Gohan saw Cooler struggling, and decided it was time to end him once and for all. With his still outstretched hand pointing towards the tyrannical alien, he fired a large beam of energy that smashed into the Supernova, then engulfed it completely.
The pressure of trying to hold out against both his own technique and Gohan's subsequent ki blast was too much for Cooler to handle, and with one final, tormented shriek of horror, the last living member of a genocidal family of intergalactic despots was pushed into the very space he once sought to conquer. His body was slowly torn apart by the searing hot ki of two enormous energy beams until it struck the surface of the sun and was promptly atomised.
When he sensed Cooler's ki fade completely, Gohan let out a sigh of relief and scanned his surroundings. The whirring of helicopter rotors alerted him to the fact that much of his confrontation with the alien was caught on camera – a fact that made him wince inwardly. His onyx orbs then met familiar cerulean ones, and his heart clenched. Videl had seen him transform. She was now fully aware that he'd blatantly lied to her about being the Golden Warrior.
The demi-Saiyan sighed. It was finally time to face the music. With a burst of speed, he appeared before the raven-haired girl, who was staring at him with an awestruck expression. He held his good hand out to her, and she took it, much to his surprise. Then, leaving behind an afterimage, the two teenagers vanished.
Moments later, Gohan and Videl reappeared in an alleyway behind a secluded building several blocks away. The girl staggered slightly, caught off guard by the Super Saiyan's insane speed, but she recovered quickly, and fixed Gohan with a curious look.
The Son boy stood up straight and his expression remained neutral, although inwardly he was extremely concerned. He didn't have a clue what to say in this situation, so he was content to let Videl speak first. He exhaled deeply, bracing himself for an impending explosion.
To his utter befuddlement, Videl's response was to sigh and run her hand through his golden locks, her petite fingers making his skin tingle. "You're a real dumbass, you know that?" she remarked quietly.
Gohan's jaw dropped. "Wh-what? Why?"
"For not transforming earlier," she replied simply, getting closer to the boy and making him take a step back. "It would've made the fight a lot easier."
He balked at that answer, and his mind went into overdrive. "Did you… know?"
Videl shrugged nonchalantly. "I had a hunch you were involved somehow. I wasn't certain you were Goldilocks himself though." Her eyes narrowed ominously, and Gohan couldn't help but gulp. "You have a lot of explaining to do, mister. But it can wait."
Before Gohan could finish his sentence, he felt Videl's soft lips press against his own. His eyes bulged in shock, and a part of him wanted to break away, but he was quickly overcome by a wondrous feeling of contentment that he couldn't even begin to describe. With his instincts driving his actions, he kissed the girl back with equal intensity.
After a few seconds, the rational part of his brain won out, and with astounding difficulty, Gohan pulled his lips free, making Videl pout adorably. The look she gave made a certain part of his anatomy rise to attention, and it took all his willpower to not dive back in for another kiss… but meditating with Piccolo had done wonders for his mental fortitude. "A-are sure we should be doing this right now?" he ground out.
Videl sighed and traced a dainty digit across his bare pecs, eliciting a groan from the boy and making his cheeks burn. "Just… let me enjoy this for a little while. We can face the world's bullshit later."
"I never took you as the procrastinating type," Gohan said with a nervous chuckle as he scratched the back of his head, his heart racing.
Videl gave him a mock glare and pushed him roughly against a brick wall. "Shut up. You have no idea how long I've been wanting to do this."
The Son boy gulped, but gave a shaky smile as his last vestige of rationality faded. "Maybe not… but I think I can definitely relate."
The pair's lips crashed against one another as they engaged in a mildly heated make out session, months of repressed emotions coming to the forefront. They started off slow and jittery, but the longer the kiss went on, the more comfortable they became, and the more they were willing to experiment.
Videl was running her hands up and down Gohan's muscular back, her palms heating up whatever they touched. Meanwhile, he had let his instincts guide him, and was cupping her cheek with his right hand while his thumb gently brushed her delicate skin, eliciting a faint moan from the girl. He paused momentarily when he felt her hand slowly dip dangerously low, but was far too lost in bliss to care.
"Hey Gohan, we just wanted to let you know that the city's sa- WHOA! Holy crap!"
The two teenagers' eyes snapped open at the sudden interruption, and their heads slowly craned to the side, where they saw three stunned figures gaping in their direction.
Tenshinhan stood ramrod straight, his three eyes bulging in what would've made for a comedic sight had it not been for the gravity of the situation at hand. Yamcha's eyes were darting nervously from Gohan to Videl, and in a startlingly rare occurrence, the former desert bandit was rendered completely speechless. Krillin, who had initially spoken up, was now staring at the pair with his mouth flopping like a fish. His cheeks had reddened to the shade of a cherry, and he had a slight look of guilt in his eyes.
Gohan sighed and ran a hand through his golden hair as he stepped away from a blushing Videl. 'Kami… why have you forsaken me?'
Several blocks away from this most unwelcome confrontation, a green frog dotted with black spots was scurrying through the streets as though someone had lit a fire under its posterior. Tears of sorrow and terror streamed down its slimy face as it sped towards the city limits, wanting to get as far away from the area as possible. 'Stupid Saiyan! Damn you and your impeccable style! Because of you, I'm going to be trapped on this mudball forever!'
AN: Well, that happened. Cooler, as awesome as he is (in my opinion) is still a small fry compared to the Saiyans at this point. Even in the first Cooler movie, that version of Goku toyed with him in his base form, and only had to get serious when Cooler transformed. This time, Gohan's biggest challenge was keeping collateral damage and civilian casualties to a minimum, as well as having to overcome Cooler's insane durability because of the Majin power-up. I could've gone the Dragon Ball Multiverse route and given Cooler an over-the-top new transformation to put him closer to Gohan's level, but his purpose in the story wasn't to be a proper test for Gohan. Instead, his arrival and subsequent attack on Satan City will have several ramifications that will be explored over the next few chapters. If you'd like to make any guesses as to what, I'm really curious to hear them.
Videl also found out about Gohan being the Golden Warrior, which has been a long time coming. I know a few people weren't satisfied with me making Gohan continue keeping it a secret all the way back in chapter 5, so I figured this would be a good time to try and justify my decision.
I wanted Videl to take the initiative and find the answer out for herself instead of just having Gohan tell her. I wanted her to slowly put the pieces together over the course of their training together, the hunt for the Dragon Balls, the fight against Kage, the meeting with Roshi, and everything in between. By going through all that, I wanted her view of the world as she knew it to shift; I wanted her to come to terms with the revelation that her father was a liar, as well as the possibility that the man she was searching for was Gohan all along – all on her own terms.
I saw an opportunity for Videl's character to grow and develop in a way that wouldn't have happened if Gohan had just casually admitted the truth, so I took it. In the end, I'm happy with this decision, as I believe it gave a lot more weight to the narrative than the alternative. If you still disagree with my reasoning, then that's perfectly fine. I know I can't please everyone. I just hope you still like this fic enough to keep reading.
On a related note, Gohan also had his own reasons for keeping the whole thing a secret, which will be explored next chapter. Was he wrong in doing so? Perhaps, but he's not an infallible character. He may be a superpowered half-alien teenager and one of the strongest people in the universe, but he still makes mistakes like everyone else, and his sheltered upbringing means he isn't the most adept at handling himself in social situations either. He even messed up to a degree in this chapter, and there will be repercussions because of it. Even though things may have seemed rosy and peachy towards the end, believe me, they're not.
Sorry for the really long author's note, but I had a lot to say, and I didn't know how else to express it. As always, thank you to everyone who's favourited and followed this fic. As for those of you who took to time to leave reviews, you guys have my utmost gratitude. I feel like I've become a better writer over the course of this fic, but I'm always looking to improve, so any further feedback would be much appreciated.
Until next time!