Author's note: I do not own DBZ. If I did, you would be flipping through this tome in a bookstore, rather than browsing through it on your computer. Alas, DBZ, and all associated names and concepts are copyright TOEI Animation. This is a non-profit piece of fanfiction, and is not meant to infringe on any of claims of ownership. This document is rated PG-13 for violence, language, innuendo, and, well look, it's DBZ. As a matter of format, scene changes should be obvious, emphasized words are in italics, and words in bold are used to denote ki attacks.
Artist's note: I'm a bit of a sketcher, and I just couldn't resist illustrating a few key scenes in my story. Those illustrations, 11 in all, are posted on my account over at Side7. The pictures in question have a filename of 'DWT-__', (the first one is titled 'Poster') and appear in chronological order. I should warn, they do contain spoilers. (So if you choose not to look at them now, I'll remind you at the end of the story.)
*sigh* I would give you a direct link to my gallery, but ff.net isn't letting me post the actual address. To get there, go to side7.com, (don't ask me why I can post that but not a whole address) then click 'search' on the top toolbar, and search for 'Crash' in the 'alias' box.
Composure's note: If you take a look at my stories, you'll notice most of them are slight variations to song titles. It's 'cause songs help set the mood when I write. With that in mind, not only is this whole story named after a song (by Disturbed, of course) but so are all chapter titles. So for an enhanced experience, log onto Napster 2.0 and turn up the speakers! Chapter titles refer to song by, in order, Dio, Queensryche, Powerman 5000, Evanescense, Electrasy, Hoobastank, 12 Stones, Dope, Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, Ramstien, Stabbing Westward, Motorhead, Reveille, and Bon Jovi.
Rainbow in the Dark
"Sir, we're in visual range."
Sitting at his post in the command chair, Captain Shiva stared intently at his console. "Patch it through to my station," he ordered. Abruptly, a picture of a derelict ship in a star field appeared on his screen. Whatever the ship had once been, it didn't look like much now.
The derelict had been spotted some days before by long range scanners on Telemekus. But due to the high levels of electromagnetic interference in the area, accurate readings could not be made. Soon after, a small team of scouts had been sent to board the vessel and to determine what it was, and why it was there. Captain Shiva had been dispatched to retrieve the scouts, and to deal with the ship, in whatever manner was deemed necessary.
"You were right, Captain," said the officer at the helm. "Our scout team has confirmed that the ship was once a Thrax-jin freighter. The Typhonis, if that means anything."
"Unfortunately," muttered Shiva, "it does. The Typhonis was reported missing over 143 cycles ago. It was rumored to have left the Lydia Station carrying some exotic cargo. It never reached its destination. No one ever found out for sure why..."
"A hundred forty cycles," mused the officer. "Isn't that right about the time the wars with Frieza reached this sector? I'll bet the Typhonis was a victim of one of those early raids…"
"I don't think so…" Shiva looked sharply up at a petty officer who was gazing at another display of the ship. The orderly noticed she had attracted the Captain's attention, and immediately shut her mouth.
"Really," the Captain prompted. "Why?" The orderly, who's name Shiva never bothered to learn, looked back at him apprehensibly. "If you have something to say... Say it!"
"Well," the orderly began, nearly stuttering. "If I can speak freely… Those breaches," the orderly pointed to several gaping holes in the ship's hull, "don't look like they were caused by energy blasts. Those dispersion patterns are definitely consistent with those caused by physical impact."
The orderly was cut off by the helm officer. "Frieza could survive hard vacuum. And he was also strong enough to punch a hole through any hull in the quadrant. Especially one of something as light as a freighter."
"But why would Frieza himself bother with a measly freighter anyway?" Asked yet another bridge officer. "Wouldn't he have had more important things to deal with?"
"That's beside the point. Those holes weren't created from the outside!" The orderly froze, as all eyes were suddenly on her. After a moment, she continued in a far meeker voice. "Look at the spread patterns of the wreckage. Those patterns couldn't have been created by an outside attack. They came from the inside... Something onboard the Typhonis punched through that hull…"
A hush fell over the bridge. Captain Shiva closed his eyes in registration. The orderly's deductions only lent credibility to the scenario he feared most.
Once again, the Captain's musings were interrupted by the helm officer. "Sir, we're now close enough to the ship that the EM interference and time lag are minimal. Communications are as good as they're going to get. The scout team is waiting with their report."
Shiva exhaled loudly, dreading what the report might contain. Reluctantly, he raised his head. "Good. Put them on them on the main screen." The helm officer complied, and the front of the bridge lit up with the image of the scout leader. "Well, Lieutenant, what happened there?"
The Lieutenant stared back at the Captain with a shaken look in his eyes. "We found the cause of this wreck, all right. We're in the cargo hold and, well… See for yourself…" The Lieutenant stepped to the side of the image, and the entire bridge gasped in astonishment.
It was a giant ape. Nearly two hundred feet tall, floating horizontally in the center of the bay, and completely encased in ice. The beast had black fur, a whitish vest covering its upper back and torso, and a black mane stretching down its neck and back. Another member of the scouting party was floating near the head of the beast, taking readings. Had the creature been awake, it could have swallowed the scout without even trying.
"My God," uttered the helm officer. "What is that thing?"
"An Oozaru," answered the Captain, in voice too quiet to be heard.
At that point, the Lieutenant stepped back into view. "We've checked the ship's logs. Apparently, somewhere near Lydia, the captain of the Typhonis came across a Black Brand Saiyan locked in stasis. He figured that it would be worth a lot of money to certain collectors. The logs didn't say exactly how, but the captain recorded that he 'secured' the specimen. We're guessing there was a confrontation involved, and that the Saiyan's stasis unit was somehow damaged during the fight. But that's just speculation. All we know for certain is that roughly eight days after the Typhonis left Lydia, the stasis unit failed. The Saiyan got loose, and immediately turned into this." Once again, the Lieutenant gestured to the beast behind him. "You can guess the rest. The creature went berserk, and started destroying the ship from the inside out. All hands were lost."
Shiva glanced at the orderly, but she was too stunned to be proud of her earlier deduction. Turning his attention back to the screen, Shiva addressed the scout. "If the crew died, how did the beast end up like it is now? Don't tell me it did that to itself..."
The Lieutenant shook his head. "No. One of the Typhonis' primary cargos was liquid nitrogen. Vats of it. As best we can figure, while the beast was trashing other parts of the ship, a level headed crew member lucky enough to make his way to a pressure suit in time managed to jury rig the entire cargo hold into one giant stasis unit. The beast eventually wandered back here, and set off the trap. The stasis unit worked, but crewman responsible for it had to have died of exposure soon after."
Shiva was silent for a moment. "You're sure it was a Black Brand Saiyan?"
The Lieutenant nodded. "Positive. We've even found remnants of the original stasis unit it came in."
The Captain remained silent for another moment, inwardly cursing at the situation.
"Sir, it gets worse." Shiva raised his eyes, meeting the Lieutenant's stern gaze. "This hold is only a makeshift stasis unit. Built on the fly as the ship was being torn apart. It wasn't designed to last." The Lieutenant paused, acknowledging the look of horror on the Captain's face. "The cargo hold isn't pressurized. The Nitrogen ice is evaporating into space. The vacuum is sucking it away, molecule by molecule."
"How long?" Demanded Shiva. "How long till it fails?"
"It's already starting to fail. We've been detecting low level brainwaves and life signs ever since we boarded the ship. Within the next cycle, the beast will wake up."
Shiva shook his head in despair.
Obviously nervous, the helm officer spoke up. "But we can fix it, right? Pump more nitrogen in there and refreeze the thing. Then we can patch the hull and entomb the whole ship! Then it'll be safe again."
"No," contradicted the petty officer. "We don't have enough nitrogen on board to make a difference on something that size. Not even if we emptied our engine coolants and used those…"
"Even if we could do that, it wouldn't be safe," the Lieutenant informed them. "We've checked out this entire ship. The hull has been ruptured. Fatally. The ship is falling apart as it is. Anything we do would only increase the risk of shattering what's left of it. In unprotected vacuum, all the nitrogen ice in the world won't keep this beast asleep."
Another silence came over the bridge. This one was broken by the communications offer. A very young officer with almost no practical experience in spacing. "So what if it does wake up? Out here, it's in hard vacuum. No Saiyan can survive without air. Not even that thing."
"It survived vacuum the first time it tore that ship up," interrupted the orderly. "What's to keep it from surviving again?"
The communications officer had a ready response. "There was air around it the first time it woke up. If Saiyans really are as powerful as the legends say, and assuming that thing is a Saiyan power-up, then its ki aura should have held enough air around it to keep it alive. But since there's no air around it now, there's no way for it to survive." The officer paused. "I say we let it wake up, and we let it die!"
Without making eye contact with any of his crew, Shiva spoke. "You seem to know a fair bit about Saiyans, officer. Have you ever heard of a Black Brand Saiyan?"
The communications officer shifted uncomfortably. "Um… No, sir, I can't say I have."
Shiva nodded. "I suspected not. It's a term not much used since the fall of Vegeta-sei. It refers to a Saiyan exposed to Auto Mutation Syndrome."
"Oh my God…" The officer had certainly heard of that.
Scowling, Shiva stood up and faced the rookie officer. "Yes. Auto. Mutation. Syndrome. 'Suicide Syndrome.' The 'Hammer of the Gods….'"
"...Strife's Legacy," solemnly added the helm officer.
Shiva looked sternly at the communications officer. "Do you really want to let that thing die? Do really want to let this sector turn into another Badlands?"
Not meeting the Captain's eyes, the officer shook his head. "No, sir…"
"Good." Shiva looked around to the rest of the crew. "We know what will happen if the Black Brand is let out of stasis. There is no question about that. Without air, it will die, and so will everyone else around. And we'd be the first ones to go. The stasis unit holding the beast must be maintained. The only question we have," Shiva glanced at each of the bridge officers in turn. "Is how to do it?"
Again, silence fell over the bridge.
"Captain, we can't keep it in stasis."
Slowly, Shiva turned to face the scout on the view screen. "Unacceptable, Lieutenant."
"Sir, when I say we can't do it, I mean we can't do it!" Shiva was taken aback by the vehemence of the Lieutenant's reply. "My people have been going over this every second of the three days we've been on this ship! With the resources available on your ship, there just isn't any way to keep the beast safe. Not considering the integrity of the hull, and the electromagnetic emissions in this part of space. And there's no way another ship can get here in time with the supplies we would need. We've checked, double checked, and triple checked these figures. It's just not possible…"
Shiva sighed, and tried to stifle the emotions welling up inside him. "Then what would you suggest we do, Lieutenant?"
Grimly, the Lieutenant replied. "We'll have to ditch it. Send the Saiyan to an unoccupied sector, and let it die there."
Several bridge officer gasped. Shiva let his eyes drop. "Where?"
"The Typhonis's engines are Vector Drives," continued the Lieutenant. "Which means they can only travel along gravity wells. The gravity well that it's been drifting in will eventually take it one jump away from Telemekus. Obviously, that's not an option. There are three branches off that gravity well, all of which lead to other occupied systems."
"Lieutenant…" Shiva growled impatiently.
"One of the branches is Algernon's Run. It leads to colonized worlds, but it passes through an uninhabited sector. If we refit the Typhonis's maneuvering thrusters, and set them for a time delayed maximum burn, they'll take her off Algernon's Run and into the dead sector."
Shiva looked up. "Can we actually do that?"
"I wouldn't suggest it if we couldn't," responded the Lieutenant. "I'll need help from your crew to reset the engines, but it can be done. And the Typhonis will hold together for that trip. It's the only way, Captain."
"Algernon's Run?" Asked the helm officer. "King Cold disappeared along there. With his resurrected son, supposedly. The Disturbance happened there, too…"
"Like I said," repeated the Lieutenant, "It's uninhabited."
"No it isn't!" The helm officer insisted. "King Cold wouldn't have disappeared into nothing. And there had to be something there to create the disturbance. Or someone! "
The Lieutenant's face darkened. "It may have been inhabited, but it's not anymore. Not after that."
"Captain!" Pleaded the helm officer.
"Even if there are still sentients there," argued the Lieutenant, "The sector isn't populous, and the people aren't space-bound. The sector is completely irrelevant to the galactic community! We don't have any other options, Captain."
"Sir," the helm officer grimly began, "we have no proof that area is uninhabited. We could be killing any number of people by sending the creature there."
Shiva sat in his command chair, with his head resting in his hands. "That's right. We have no idea who the Black Brand will kill in that sector. But we know exactly who it will kill if we send it anyplace else! We don't have a choice…"
Grimly, Shiva focused his attention on the main screen. "You have your orders, Lieutenant. Refit the engines, and plot a course through Algernon's Run." Closing his eyes, Shiva got up and began walking off the bridge. "Do whatever it takes…"