*Content sigh* Ahhh. Spring time in Ginger Town. There's no time like the present time to be alive, and no better place on Earth to be alive than here. With the cherry blossoms in their fullest bloom, it was like a cloud had descended to the ground, dusting the Earth in a layer of pink snow. But, unlike the snow of the winter season, one did not have to suffer the bitter frost, nor the sluggish sun slipping away at five in the afternoon. No, it was like having all the aesthetics of Christmas with all the warmth of a cool summer day.

While the city herself was coursing with the hurried pulse of people, the blanket of nature surrounding knew exactly what pace to walk at - - Slow.

Unlike the evolved monkeys known as humans, the creatures of the forest knew exactly how to settle down in their dens and take advantage of nature's grace and beauty. After all, how often does Earth (especially Earth of THIS dimension) get to have such a perfect and peaceful day? How often does the sun perch itself high on its throne, gesturing the clouds aside so as to whisper to the people below warm words of encouragement and love? How often does the wind opt for a leisurely pace, settling on a temperament that is a perfect mix of warm and cool? Face it, how often does it ever get this quiet?

**THIS IS GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM !!!

YOU'VE REALLY MADE THE GRADE...!**

(Not often enough, it would seem.)

Deeper within the forest's friendly hold, in a field surrounded by what ONCE was peaceful cherry blossoms and grass, were gathered a curious and colorful assortment of people. It was hard to count their numbers, but there looked to be a little over a dozen of various shapes, sizes, and ages.

They were set up for an afternoon picnic, though the small stage, personal generator and karaoke machine indicated that there was some considerable planning put into this picnic.

On the grass the people were dropping their sandwiches and clasping their hands over their ears in agony (save for one spiky-haired man in an orange gi; he seemed to be enjoying himself). On the stage an older man, bald save for his gray goatee and wearing sunglasses, butchered David Bowie's song "Space Oddity".

"THIS IS MAJOR TOM TO GROUND CONTROL!

I'M STEPPING THROUGH THE DOOR!

AND I'M FLOATING IN A MOST PECULIAR WA-AAAY!

AND THE STARS LOOK VERY DIFFERENT TODAA-AAAAAY!"

"Will someone SHUT HIM UP?" Vegeta growled, doing everything in his power NOT to obliterate the old master.

"Oh c'mon Vegeta," Goku said, clapping along to Roshi's rendition. "It's not THAT bad."

"FOR HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE AM I SITTING IN A TIN CAN!

FAAAAAAAAAAAAAR ABOVE THE WORLD!"

"Compared to WHAT?"

It had been a tradition ever since Vegeta became one of the good guys. (Or was it when Goku came back to life after Buu? She could never remember.) The group would gather during the blossoming of the cherry blossoms for what Bulma liked to call a "company picnic". (Didn't matter that no one else from Capsule Corp was invited. It sounded good, and looked even better on tax return forms.) And, aside from the "Brolly Incident", it'd been a pretty successful ritual. Everyone seemed to have fun, including Vegeta (though he'd never admit it). Bulma always made sure to bring PLENTY of food capsules (she was feeding two extra Saiya-jin children this time around, after all). Sure Piccolo never bothered to show up (though you never heard anyone but Gohan complain), and Yajirobe couldn't even be CHASED away ("Next year I'm charging him per plate," Bulma told herself). But it was fun nonetheless.

Against better judgement and the BEGGING her husband did every year, however, Bulma kept bringing the karaoke machine.

Which would probably explain why she never drank except at these get- togethers. ^_^

"Thank you!" Roshi bowed to the non-existent ovation of the crowd (Goku's cheers and whistles not counting, of course). "Now, for my NEXT number..."

"Get down, ya old lech!" Krillin ordered, trying to force his old master down. "It's MY turn, remember!"

"Fat chance! I already picked two more songs!" Roshi kept Krillin at bay, propping his foot against the midget's bald skull (he shaved his hair off again, favoring the bald look during the spring time). Despite his size, the small fighter was actually quite strong, and it was taking the old Turtle Hermit quite a bit to keep him away from his microphone.

"No way!" Krillin grunted. "I was going to sing!"

*KA-BOOM!*

A golden ball of chi sailed down from above, smashing through the karaoke monitor. Glass and wires spewed everywhere as the mechanical affront to style erupted into flames. Both Krillin and Roshi were sent flying off the edge of the stage and into the cake.

"MY MACHINE!" Bulma screamed.

"THE CAKE!" Goku echoed.

The group gazed upwards, to where the bolt of energy arrived from. A dark silhouette, shrouded by the blazing gaze of the sun, descended to the stage below.

Emerald skin, white cape and matching turban, black gi, brown moccasins, permanent scowl and generally antisocial disposition. Yep, it could be only one person.

"Piccolo!"

Gohan seemed to be the only one pleased to see the Namek-demon, and, despite his age, couldn't resist rushing to his former-sensei and giving him a hug.

"Aw, why'd you go and do that Piccolo?" Goku moped.

"Are you KIDDING?" the Namek fumed, massaging his ears. "I could hear you from the plateaus. And between YOUR eating like an elephant and Roshi's crooning, it was all I could do not to go insane."

"Too late for that," Chi Chi whispered, arms folded in scorn.

Now, Vegeta is no fool. To have survived this long, and against this many powerful fighters, is clear indication of his mental skill and tactical prowess. But one thing he LOVES, his one CONSTANT Achilles Heel (aside from his pride), is instigating. He LOVES to push people's buttons. ESPECIALLY when he knows that he can get away with it. (He's like a spoiled brat that way.)

And with Piccolo being an open target, and with this many people around (and with Kakarot there to keep him from getting his gonads ripped off), he'd be a FOOL not to push some buttons.

"Aw, the singing too much for the Namek's sensitive ears?" Vegeta mocked, moving from his spot against the tree and advancing to a much closer vantage-point (irritation is proportional to the proximity one has to the irritant, after all).

"No," Piccolo started, "Not yet. But the possibility that you might have been next was."

Point to Piccolo.

Vegeta scoffed. No WAY was he going to let the Namek get the last word in. "Hn. Those ears of yours help enhance your hearing. Too bad they can't compensate for lack of talent."

Point to Vegeta.

"Just because you can JUDGE talent doesn't mean you HAVE any, Vegeta."

Two points Piccolo.

"Uh...guys?" Gohan tried to interject. "Aren't you being a little silly?"

"SHUT UP!" The pair spat back.

"Ooo. My dad just told your brother what for." Chibi Trunks and Chibi Goten watched on from the base of the stage, munching popcorn and REALLY itching for a fight to break out.

"So what?" Goten responded. "Gohan could beat your dad any day. And quit stealing my popcorn!"

"And you do?" Vegeta scoffed.

"Compared to you? Yes," was Piccolo's response. "Then again, GOKU has more talent than YOU do." He jutted a green finger over at Goku, who managed to pull himself out from the cake to see who was talking about him.

"Moo? Bfee?" Goku inquired, gullet full of cake and face covered in frosting.

(Ladies and gentlemen, this contest has just went into SUDDEN DEATH!)

"THAT second-rate peon?!?" Vegeta fumed, his rage boiling over to near-critical levels. (Apparently his loss to Goku is still a sensitive subject.) "ABSURD!!!"

"You're right," Piccolo smirked (the set-up WAAAAAY too good to pass up). "I'd say you two are equally bad. It's YAJIROBE you need to worry about."

And, if you listened carefully, you could hear the sound of Vegeta's ego scraping against the blackboard of his skull. If looks could kill, there wouldn't be enough of Piccolo to identify as a body. If it weren't for the fact that Piccolo would snap him like a number-2 pencil, he'd blast him back to Snake Way.

"FINE!" Vegeta spewed forth, his words that of fire and rage. "If you think you're so hot, then bring it! You, me, Kakarot, the brats...we're having a contest to see just who can sing the best!"

Nearly a dozen-and-a-half heads perked up.

"Oh, there is NO WAY you are getting me involved in this!" Yajirobe protested in the distance.

"I will PROVE, once and for all, that I, VEGETA, PRINCE of ALL Saiya- jins, am the greatest in the Universe. Both as a warrior AND as a performer."

Piccolo let his hands relax at his sides. "Shame I destroyed the karaoke machine, or I'd take you up on your offer."

"Aaaaaactually," came Bulma from behind them, "the karaoke player is fine. It's just the monitor you destroyed. So, technically, we can still have it."

Gohan came up beside her. "But if the monitor is destroyed, then how will we know what songs we're singing? Or, for that matter, how will we know WHAT to sing?"

Bulma's eyes lit up, her super-genius mind clocking in at 100 giga- hertz a second (note to non-geeks: That's like strapping a jet engine to the Roadrunner; RIDICULOUS fast!!!).

"I've got it!" She proclaimed. "We'll have Jam Session."

"Huh?" Came the response from the group.

"Basically," she explained, "the computer will pick the songs at random, and we have to make up the lyrics as we go."

"OH!" Future Trunks perked up. "Kinda like ad-libbing!"

"EXACTLY! And, at the end, H.E.R.B.I.E. here," she motioned to the tennis ball-sized robot hovering behind her," will judge each contestant by pitch, style, harmony, and originality."

"Cool!" Yamucha squealed with delight (causing everyone to question his claims of heterosexuality).

"So what does the winner get?" Tien inquired, vaguely intrigued by all this.

"THAT will be decided by the winner at the end," Vegeta interrupted. The Saiya-jin prince then turned to face Piccolo. With a smirk on his face that just BEGGED to be smacked off, he marched up to the Namek-demon hybrid. He thrust his arm outward, shoving the microphone into Piccolo's chest.

"And YOU get to go first."

To be continued....