Shadowed Spirit

Author's Commentary: If only you could see the wonderful font I used for the title in my own personal edition of this—it looks rather cool (Matura MT Script Capitals if anyone cares). But first of all, a big hoorah! to my gal AVC who totally helped pull out ideas for this story. In turn, this piece is dedicated to her and I had her name my main character and give her a quick description. I own nothing in this story except for my writing style, etc. and only write such things for my own pleasure and for yours as well. Things will be twisted around compared to the actual events in the series, so please take note. And, of course, the best setting, as you will see, will be during "the wait" of the Cell Games—(yes, I understand that that's the most obvious place writers tend to lean towards)—just because it's the easiest and most 'perfect' point in the DBZ plot to get Cell all into a dither (I do like that word). I suppose at this point that I should mention I'm kind of a little rusty on my DragonBall Z knowledge, seeing that my huge obsession with it wore off several years ago and I made the choice to move on to other programs and movies. I have my brother to thank for getting me a DBZ game that hooked me enough that not only do I want to write this, but I refuse to be any other character in that game except Cell ;) One last thing—this story is being posted in different segments at different times, only because I want to get it out there. Normally I like to finish something before posting, but I want to see how much I can screw up the plot since I won't technically be able to go back ;) A test, if you will, to see how well I can formulate something after making previous decisions. How Cell-like. Now I'm done babbling….

Chapter 1: Selfish Pride

I will admit I'm not a brave girl, although I do tend to throw myself into things before letting my mind think it over and see what will actually happen to me; which, I suppose, could make me a brave person, if only I kept that boldness and even stupidity with me through the journey. I like to linger on with my words too; I think it gives me a sense that I might actually know what I'm doing when in reality people stand back and start whispering. It's always been that way. But I like to hear my own voice. I like to be right. I like to be on top.

High school annoyed me something awful. There were three-hundred kids in my class. I was ranked number 49. Yes, that is good, but it wasn't good enough because there were 48 people higher me. I probably could've been the top student, but at the time my mind was elsewhere—boyfriends, friends, hanging out at the mall, driving around town in the brand new car my parents bought for me. I had it good. I really did.

So where did it all go wrong?

Thinking back I remember going off to college and living the life every kid pretty much thinks of when they move away from home, although I might have had it a tad bit better. I didn't have to get a job to pay for it—my parents did that for me. I went to a good school, lived in a decent dorm with some pretty cool roommates, and I partied every weekend like it was spring break. Now I look back at that life and I don't quite understand what the point was. I guess I wanted to be that top kid like I always had before. I was usually always popular with people, even teachers and such, but it was never enough. Anyone that challenged that side of me usually got the cold shoulder and somehow, without me even really realizing, it was an endless battle to answer the questions first and present the best projects.

I guess you can call it selfishness. I call it being the second child who was always compared to the elder sibling; who was the daughter of a vice-president of a company and a mother who was practically as perfect as a house-wife-mother could get. I was the small one of the family, the one everyone only turned to when the news on others got old. I think that's why I strived to be the best. It has to be, right?

I ended up graduating with a 3.5 GPA, which is fair enough considering I slacked off quite a bit because as time went on during those college years I felt it more important to develop a social life than to intellectually challenge myself. My parents moved up north for an early retirement and my brother married, had a kid and moved away too. I could've gone with them, but I chose to stay here in Eastern City. I already knew the place and the place knew me. I was Layrial Adercon, and I was jumping into the world at a high speed knowing that I would succeed and live without worry! I will be the best! A perfectionist who will top all those other kids on the block and show them who's the strongest!

I was Layrial Adercon. That girl faded away, although yes, she still is here, but definitely not the same person. A few years down the road I slowly learned that life comes at you fast—sometimes a little too fast. I got a job as a reporter, but I learned that perhaps it was an attraction to my face more than my wit that got me that position. Yet I wasn't getting what I wanted, and like a spoiled little kid, I sulked and probably made others want to slap me across the city. Two years and I wasn't the top reporter…I was only third best. Marco Mendon was number one. Cerise Delnor was number two. Layrial Adercon was ranked further below them and was only used for the top stories when the other two were on a vacation in the Alps or Paris.

It really hurt—badly. My ego was bruised so much in one week I could've screamed loud enough to shatter the windows in every office on the floor of that building. "Marco's on a job in the United States—can you go see about…" "Cerise is getting married and is taking the month off—guess we'll have to throw you in."

It was jealousy. I know now that it was jealousy. I knew even then it was jealousy, but I didn't want to admit it and let myself starting thinking that I had in no way become what I had hoped for. It was that selfish side of me playing out—I didn't get what I wanted quickly enough. Two years was much too long.

So here I am, thinking back and realizing that I was better off at that point. Maybe. If it had stayed that way I would've remained that spoiled brat that cried herself to sleep when she didn't get what she wanted. I might've eventually worked my way up like every other human being did. Though in a way….I think I might've become a better person after things went down. Actually, I know I've become a better person. Fancy clothes, pretty jewelry and manicured nails mean nothing to me now. They're just material things that only made me feel like I was above everyone else. I wasn't. My pride got me into enough trouble that I have to say, was a pain in the ass to get out of. I learned—slowly—but I did learn.

I remember it as if just happened a few hours ago. I took a brief vacation, but before even returning home I had been sent to the south part of the country to cover some political crap I had no interest in. I'm not a fan of politics—at all. But it was my job and to get to where I wanted to be, I had to go down there and listen to endless speeches and reports, hear crowds cheering and booing, and see enough posters and banners plastered around the streets to make me wonder if people had anything better to do with their lives. I returned May 9th, after having spent my last two days in boring hotel room in a part of town that lost its electricity due to some freak tidal wave that took out the power plant. I was supposed to be there longer, but finally I just picked up and left. I had better things to do. If my manager didn't like it then that was too bad. I was at the point where if I got fired, it didn't matter—I'd find something better.

Well…returning home made my stomach do more flips than I thought possible. It was almost like a ghost town, with the exception of every highway that led out of town was jam packed with cars. Stores were empty and closed. Corporations were open, but no cars sat outside on the street except for a few workers. I had no idea what was going on—I figured an air raid or something.

I knew that the station wouldn't close down for anything—Sazuke was stubborn and he wanted to make sure his people were the ones who stayed to laugh in the face of danger. My assumptions were correct, too. I entered the lobby to discover that although several secretaries were missing, people were hustling around as if the world was about to end.

How was I supposed to know that it was true?

I went to the second floor where the main studio was located and found there were several arguments. I stood in front of the now-closed elevator door and watched the commotion. People were on the phone, running in and out of cubicles, and camera men were packing up for a road trip. I noticed Sazuke off to the side in front of his office, practically biting the head off of Cerise. I'll admit I was more than pleased to see this. I know the difference between an unhappy Sazuke and a pissed off Sazuke, neither of which I like to experience, mind you. And this time…the latter was definitely the form he took now. I headed up to get a better tune-in on what he was saying and why Cerise was yelling back at almost the same pitch. Marco seemed to be nowhere in sight, which was unusual—he liked to be the center of attention.

"I don't give a damn about your stress level!" Sazuke was practically yelling loud enough to make his voice threaten to give out. "I need you out there!"

"I'm NOT risking my life for your ass!" Cerise returned. "You want to put your people's lives in danger, then fine! But you're not doing it to me! I've got better things to do than find myself lying in pieces on the ground!"

At this point Sazuke had noticed me standing there and I eagerly stepped in for the only reason to make Cerise mad that I was taking away her opportunity to yell at our boss.

"Layrial, talk some sense into this woman," Sazuke said, his face so red that I thought he was about to burst. I could see a vein on the top of his half-bald head almost to the point it was throbbing.

"Dare I ask why?"

Cerise turned to me, her stealth blue eyes bearing down on me beneath jet-black hair. "He wants me to go out and interview this Cell character. I know when my life is at stake, and I'm not going."

"Who?" I asked stupidly.

"Cell!" Sazuke replied in near-outrage. "You know—the monster that terrorized Nikki Town a few days ago?"

I thought for a moment, and then nodded my head. "I heard something about it, but remember—I was busy doing that stupid political thing you sent me on. I barely had time to breath with all that stuff going on."

"That's not the point anymore," he told me, a tad bit calmer. "Cerise, you're the best report I've got and you might be able to charm him enough to get some answers."

"Forget it," she replied defiantly and crossed her arms over her chest.

I thought it over in my head for a moment and then it clicked—she was technically second best…what happened to Marco? I asked Sazuke that very question and he looked angry again.

"That idiot took off—just got up and walked out the moment he heard the broadcast from that monster." Sazuke turned his attention back to Cerise. "I'll give you a raise."

"What part of 'no' don't you understand?" she asked.

At that point I jumped in. This was my chance to shine, and a chance to embarrass Cerise in front of the boss just couldn't be passed up. "I'll go for you. I'm not afraid of that Cell character."

Both heads turned and stared at me with wide eyes—I'm not sure who was more surprised with my statement. But Cerise's look turned into an expression of pure despise and I could tell that she wished she had agreed before I opened my mouth…in ways, it might've been better if she had.

Sazuke, on the other hand, got over it and beamed proudly, standing up as straight as his short body would let him. "Excellent! I'll get a crew for you—be ready within an hour."

Why I agreed I have no idea. I didn't even bother to go home, which I knew was a mistake too. I had skipped breakfast that morning, and my stomach couldn't handle lunch, so I went hungry. I don't know how much time I spent getting ready for this to-be interview, but I know I was in the dressing room for a while. Being a top-paid reporter definitely had its advantages other than the paychecks. We're privileged to our own little common room completely with a comfy sofa, television, and mini-kitchen. Naturally we each have our own, very small, dressing room. And I love mine. It's decked out with all my favorite movie posters and a large picture of me with one of my favorite actors.

So naturally spending time in it doesn't bother me. I had dragged my suitcases up there and searched through them—I knew I had one outfit I hadn't worn during my time at the conferences. My hands shook with excitement as I put it on and checked myself in the large wall mirror; rayon black pants that had that "swishy" movement whenever I turned, a black silky tank top with lace bordering the top edge and a white blouse with little clear rhinestones placed in an intricate pattern on the sleeves and front now gave me that feeling that I looked damn good and no one could resist. That's my ego playing out, for you.

My hair wasn't too bad, but I fixed it up a little—when I usually go out on interviews I pull it back into a knot using a huge clip to keep it there. My hair's layered enough where not all of it can reach back that far, but I think it gives me a decent look. When the dark blue strands frame my face it gives color to my gray eyes, I guess—at least that's what my sister-in-law had once said. I don't like her much.

Silver jewelry, a bit of perfume and I was set. I took one final glance in the mirror and I was pleased at what I saw. At first I grabbed high-heals, but after I heard that our destination was the desert (of all places) I quickly changed them to semi-casual black boots. I didn't need to break my leg out there—been there, done that.

I met up with the camera crew outside. They were waiting for me by the big white van with the letters "WMTV" plastered on all sides. Sazuke stood out to see us leave and when I was buckled into the passenger seat, buckled up, my stomach flipping like an acrobat, I knew there was no turning back.