Note: Here we go again! Roughly four months after I'd posted the Epilogue to AND THE GREATEST OF THESE, I have finally gotten started on the sequel! Once again, I am taking advantage of one of those convenient 'gloss-overs' in the show where years pass with no indication of what's gone on in the meantime. This book (and yes, this will be another full-length book) takes place roughly two years after the ending of AND THE GREATEST OF THESE.

Unlike AND THE GREATEST OF THESE, however, I do not have the majority of this book already written. This one will be written in segments much the way that my Samurai 7 novel THE SWORD OF THE SOUL (also available here on was written.


The Twilight of All Time

Prologue

"Sometimes, your life is the only thing you have left to give for what's right in this world..."

Staring at Cell, with enough energy swelling through his body to obliterate the entire planet, Son Goku was strangely calm.

All he'd have to do... was die.

And take Cell with him.

Goku turned back to look at his friends, all of whom were standing there praying for a miracle that would never come.

Yamcha and Tien, racking their brains for a plan on how to get themselves and the Earth out of the mess it was in...

Piccolo, frustrated at not being able to stop Cell, and half out of his mind with worry about Gohan...

Krillin, trying desperately to be brave, especially now that he'd learned Android 18 was still alive...

Trunks, the boy from the future, a future that would never happen if Cell blew up the Earth...

"What is it, Goku? Do you have a plan or something?" Krillin was watching Goku with hope in his eyes. Goku could always be counted on when it came to doing something during a crisis... maybe not always the right thing, but at least it was something.

The Saiyan smiled, but it was not his usual cheerful, goofy grin. It was a sad smile, but filled with peace and certainty.

"What?" Krillin asked, puzzled. "What do you want us to do?"

Goku stood up straight and tall, calm in the knowledge of what had to be done. "Listen, there's not much time left, and I can think of only one way to stop Cell now."

"What are you talking about?" Piccolo growled, not liking the look on Goku's face at all.

Trunks was faster to figure it out, however. "No, wait, I think I know what you have planned, Goku! You don't have to do this!"

But it was too late. Goku was already lifting his fingers to his forehead to channel his energy into the Instant Transmission technique... the only thing that could teleport Cell away from the Earth before he could destroy it.

"Goodbye, friends..." he murmured, lifting his other hand in a wave.

Vegeta turned in horror, unable to believe what he was hearing. Kakarot, giving up? Sacrificing himself? Damn him, he couldn't die!

Krillin was almost in tears at the thought of losing his best friend yet again. "Goku, wait! Don't leave us!"

But it was too late. Goku vanished.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Krillin's anguished shout was louder than the rumbling of the earth and Cell's maniacal laughter.

An instant later, Goku was standing between Cell and Gohan, one hand resting on Cell's bloated bulk, the other still poised to his forehead, prepared to Instant Transmission away again in a single thought. But he refused to leave without saying goodbye. He glanced back at Gohan, and for a moment, his serious demeanor lifted, and he grinned at his son.

"Hey, you put up a good fight, Gohan. I'm proud of you."

"What? Daddy?" Gohan was kneeling on the ground, battered and bruised after his fight with Cell, still full of desperate spunk, but unable to act without risking triggering Cell's self-destruct. For a moment, he had the same hope in his eyes that Krillin had had, and it hurt Goku terribly when he thought about leaving behind the brightest spark in his whole life.

But for that spark to exist, Cell had to die... and there was only one way to guarantee that without risking the Earth.

"Take care of your mother for me. She needs you. Tell her that I had to do this, Gohan..."

Gohan recoiled in horror, but he knew that look, knew that calm acceptance of death ever since he had seen it on Piccolo's face when he'd been little more than a toddler.

For a long moment, Goku stared at the boy that he loved more than anything else in the world... the son he had raised to be the hope of the future, as he had himself once been. He could see so much of himself there, as well as ChiChi, and maybe even a little of Piccolo in that resolute set of his jaw and the strength in his body.

No... he couldn't have regrets, not when he had done everything he could to raise his son right. And he knew that in the end, Gohan would understand. "Goodbye, my son." He winked at him, then he turned his attention away from the Earth... and toward the only place that he could travel where Cell would never be able to harm the Earth.

Goku and Cell disappeared in a blur of lines, leaving Gohan behind on his hands and knees, screaming for his father.

"NO! COME BACK!"


King Kai let out a shriek. "Goku, what have you done? Are you out of your mind?"

"Sorry, guys, this was the only place I could think to bring him," Goku said apologetically, even as Cell stared around him in disbelief. This wasn't Earth! He was going to self-destruct and he wouldn't even be able to fulfill Dr. Gero's programming to destroy the Earth.

"Well, you could have called first," King Kai said in resignation, making jokes even to the last.

But then Cell's self-destruct command reached zero, and with a deafening bellow, energy blazed around the biomechanical horror until he was consumed in a raging explosion.

As was Goku, King Kai, Gregory, Bubbles, and the rest of the small planet at the edge of Snake Way.

The sheer magnitude of the blast sent ripples all throughout the Other World, causing the demons in Hell to look up in confusion, and making the souls traipsing along into King Yemma's palace pause, startled. Behind his huge desk, King Yemma hesitated, then turned and looked over his shoulder out toward the long expanse of Snake Way, and shuddered.

But Goku's last living thought before his body was torn apart in the explosion was that death wouldn't be so bad. His son would survive, as would his wife, his friends, his home. Then there'd be peace...

... and maybe, he would finally see her again.

To be continued...