A/N: I am rather new to DBZ, and have only seen it to the end of the Freeza saga. Forgive me if anybody is OOC…I'm trying to portray them as close as possible to the way I've seen them act on the show. I've also never written before….at least nothing that I've written has been put up. Please review so I know whether I "stink" or "shine" as my parents say. ^_^ I suppose you could call this fic alternate universe. Well anyway, here we go!

Silent One
Chapter 1

The air was alive with electricity. Lightning flashed overhead, as if some massive beast were ripping the sky open with its claws. Thunder roared across the valley and echoed off the mountains like the voice God Himself. The trees all bowed down to the whims of the wind as rain beat everything into submission.

A lone figure staggered through the valley, the wind blowing the rain into his face and onto his body. Lightning flashed to illuminate a hint of dark purple, a hint of navy blue, a lot of green, almost as much white and bits of pink and red. Another flash illuminated a pair of dark onyx eyes. Cloth fabric whipped in the wind as a tall shadow fell over a rock.

In the midst of the storm, Piccolo fell against the rain-battered rock, clutching his chest in pain. His cape fell around him in folds, almost giving him the appearance of a wounded dove with broken wings. The rain was running down his face like tears, giving his green skin a sparkling sheen, and the thunder drowned out his hollers and curses of pain.

Water. He needed to find the waterfall. Dragging his eyes open again, Piccolo slowly rose and staggered like a blind man towards the waterfall, reaching it after what seemed like miles. He collapsed next to the water and plunged his hand into it's cool depths, ignoring the lightning flashing above him and the rain that relentlessly pelted him as he took a long drink. Almost as soon as he swallowed the last drop, Piccolo felt his innards contract and started to vomit until he had regurgitated everything right back up again. He lied there, panting for a few moments as a few false-alarm dry heaves cruised up his gullet, then stood up and looked up towards the sky.

"What is happening to me!?" He cried out to the storm, getting no reply and not expecting one. The words left his mouth in a hoarse cry, and it took the last of his strength. As soon as Piccolo spoke the words, lightning struck a tree near him and sparks flew. He collapsed into unconsciousness from the pain, the thud of his body hitting the ground dulled by a loud thunderclap as smoldering debris rained down around him and the flames of the stricken tree illuminated his rain-soaked features.

Gohan awoke early, having slept through the storm because of his training. He used to be scared to death of thunderstorms, but not anymore. After all, Piccolo had made himself something more worthy of being afraid of then a stupid noise from the sky anyway.

For a moment as he lied there in bed, Gohan thought of his "second father", and how he'd changed his whole way of living. Sure, Piccolo was tough, cold and mean at times. But he could also be a really nice guy when he wanted to be. Piccolo let him stay up as late as he wanted. He never made him study, except for spars, but at least spars were fun to Gohan now. Books got boring after awhile, but Piccolo always had something new and interesting to try out.

"I'll go see him!" Gohan said aloud with a smile, jumping out of bed and climbing into his gi, which looked like a miniature version of the one Piccolo wore. "Wait…I can't just go running out. Mom would notice. Looks like I'll have to sneak out. Sorry mom…" He cast a sorrowful glance to his bedroom door before climbing out the window and breaking into a run towards the valley.

Piccolo was still lying where he passed out the night before when Gohan entered the valley. In fact, Gohan was going and looking in every place he thought Piccolo would be. The river was the last place he looked, and the second Gohan saw his teacher down, he ran to his side. The Namekian man was just lying there on his stomach, his turban having come halfway off when he hit the ground and allowing one of his slender green antennae to poke out from underneath. One of his arms was submerged up to the elbow in the stream, the skin on his fingertips having become wrinkled from being underwater for so long. His cape was lying in wrinkled folds over his muscular body with soot from the burning tree covering it. It made him look almost fragile, the way he seemed so vulnerable.

Gohan grabbed one of Piccolo's shoulderpads, pulled with all his might and managed to roll him onto his back. "Mr. Piccolo! Are you OK? Mr. Piccolo!" His voice rose higher in pitch with each sentence as he shook his sensai.

Piccolo didn't move, even when Gohan risked pinching his nostrils(a trick he only got to try once and got quite beaten for later!). When that didn't work, Gohan put his hands on Piccolo's chest to shake him harder, and just as quickly snatched his hands away when he felt something. He blinked and lifted the bit of white fabric that covered Piccolo's chest to look at what he had felt a moment ago. What he saw caused him to grimace and look away momentarily.

There was a huge lump in Piccolo's chest. It was stretching his sternum way out of proportion, and Gohan could literally see the bone and veins through the skin because of the bulge, which moved slightly with his heartbeat. Reaching down, the young boy pressed down on the lump to see if it would move. It did, but barely, and it was rock hard. The pressure also roused Piccolo slightly, and he gave a faint groan of pain as he groggily slapped Gohan's hand away. He was unconscious again before his hand even impacted the boy's.

"Mr. Piccolo?!" Gohan shook him when he saw him move. He got no other response, so he knew he had no choice.

Struggling with all his might, Gohan hefted Piccolo over his shoulder and held onto him with both arms as he returned home. The weight slowed and tired him a lot, but he kept going anyway. Man! I wish dad was here. He's a lot stronger and faster then I am.

Chichi was very upset, and the broken dishes on the kitchen floor were proof enough. She was pacing back and forth over the broken glass when she finally spotted Gohan landing outside. When she saw that he had Piccolo, fear was added to her angry emotions as she charged outside like a ruptured duck.

"Where have you been!? What is going on here!? Why is Piccolo here!?"

"Mom! Please! He's sick and I don't know where else to take him!" Gohan panted, exhausted from carrying Piccolo so far.

Chichi sighed and put her hands on her hips, "Oh, all this insanity is going to give me wrinkles! I'll let you take him inside, but if there's any sign that he's going to do something rude or cruel, he is out! Do you understand me?" Her voice rose in pitch with each word until it became an almost unbearable screech.

"Yes, mom." Gohan said tiredly as he hefted Piccolo over his shoulder, half-carrying, half-dragging him to the large couch and until he could set him down on the soft cushions. Then he sat down and panted, exhausted.

Piccolo was starting to come around again, making himself known by moving a little and groaning. "Ungh…" He grimaced and grabbed the lump on his chest hard, feeling as if someone were pounding a railroad spike into his sternum. Every movement was incredibly painful, but Piccolo managed to wriggle out of his cape and turban, tossing them on the floor and letting a sigh of half relief and half pain.

"Mr. Piccolo? What's wrong with you?" Gohan asked meekly, standing at the foot of the couch.

"I…" Piccolo's face contorted in pain for a moment, "…don't know." His hand clutched at the swollen lump under his sternum as if it were going to explode. Of course, there was no way of knowing whether or not it would. "It's been there for weeks." He doubled over, sitting up and leaning far over the edge of the couch as another nasty wave of dry heaves overcame him.

Gohan rushed to Piccolo's side and grabbed his shoulders to keep him from falling face first onto the floor. He waited for the retching to pass before asking, "Would water help?"

The Namekian shook his head, his slender antennae swinging listlessly from his forehead like dead plant stems. "I just puke it back up."

"Gohan!" Chichi snapped from the doorway, waving a wooden spoon around like a weapon. "Get to your room and study! Right now!" She looked at Piccolo, "And you! No getting up and walking around, you understand?"

Gohan cringed, "Yes, mother." He looked at Piccolo, "I'll be back later."

Piccolo pretended not to hear Chichi and managed a half-smirk for Gohan. "See ya kid." He waited until Gohan was gone before allowing the pain to contort his face again.

He really is sick…Chichi thought to herself as she watched the panting, sweaty Namek try to relax on her couch again. The lump in his chest seemed pretty nasty looking too, and she couldn't help but move closer to inspect it. The instant she reached down to touch it, however, Piccolo's hand snapped out and grabbed her wrist.

"Don't." Was all he said, and Chichi backed off with a small gulp.

All this worrying is going to give me wrinkles! She thought as she winced and returned to the kitchen to finish cooking and clean up the shattered dishes.

Day turned to night, and Piccolo didn't improve at all. In fact, he had gotten worse, and was retching almost constantly. Chichi had left a large bowl next to the couch so that he wouldn't have to force himself into the bathroom, but Piccolo hadn't needed it.

A blast of pain woke the Namekian from a sound sleep, and he jerked into a sitting position just in time to start into an even stronger fit of dry heaving. Piccolo fell back onto the couch again, too exhausted to sit up and the pain only worsened. Sweat dripped down the side of his face, his body started to shake and he couldn't stop gasping for air.

Kami Almighty! If I'm gonna die then just let me die already! He thought as he tried to stand up. His knees wobbled, then gave way, and he fell onto his hands and knees. Tears ran out of his eyes from the pain as it started to come in waves. It was like something inside was swelling or rupturing. The dull, but agonizing pain was starting in the area where the lump was and radiating up to his jaw. Every heartbeat brought more pain, more retching and more silent tears.

The beads of sweat on Piccolo's forehead glistened as he slowly crawled towards the bowl, making every effort not to let the pain cause him to sob. He dug his nails into the floorboards, no longer caring what sort of damage he did to the house as another powerful wave of retching came over him. Only this time, near the very last heave, Piccolo felt something very sour and slippery run out of his mouth. Looking into the bowl, he could see a slimy yellow liquid settling into the bottom. The next wave came over him, causing another blast of pain as blood joined the slimy yellow fluid.

"What now?" Piccolo asked himself hoarsely through the sour taste of the ooze and his own blood, small dribbles running down his pointed chin.

His answer came in a wave of pain so powerful that he cried out involuntarily. The cry was quickly cut off, changing to a gurgle and then silence as something started to swell in his throat.

Gohan, with his wild hair totally disheveled, jerked awake when he heard Piccolo's muffled cry and threw aside his bedsheets. Momentarily amazed that the noise didn't wake his mother, he ran out into the living room to find Piccolo lying on the floor, curled into a ball. The Namekian was clutching his throat with one hand and his chest with the other, his body seeming to twitch like a dying insect. A yellowish fluid mixed with blood was oozing from his mouth, forming a puddle on the floor around his head as he pressed his sweaty cheek against the cold wooden panels and squeezed his eyes shut. His breathing was extremely labored, almost non-existent as his muscular chest and back heaved.

"M-Mr. Piccolo?" Gohan whispered, drawing in a quick breath and moving to Piccolo's side. He watched Piccolo's glazed, bloodshot eyes open to look at him.

Piccolo opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out when he moved his mouth. The only word that ever escaped his throat was Gohan's name. Then the waves of retching became more intense. He felt Gohan scoot closer, but he put his hand up to tell him to stay back, not knowing what he might do while in this state. Piccolo felt his body involuntarily jerk in a deep breath, and then his airway seemed to be pinched off. Another powerful, prolonged wave of painful retching followed, and he could feel everything in his body squeezing and pushing against a singular point. The slimy, blood-tinged yellow ooze was flowing freely from his mouth, just as easily as water is poured from a pitcher into a glass.

Gohan's eyes widened and he scooted back, whimpering as he saw Piccolo's eyes seem to bulge out of his head from pain and possibly even fear. Loud, gurgling gag-like noises filled the silence as Piccolo managed to sit on his knees, still doubled over until his forehead touched the floor, his mouth falling open. Something had caused his neck to swell, and for a second it reminded Gohan of the way a snake looks right after it eats.

Piccolo screamed a silent scream as the prolonged wave of retching had forced his throat shut. The lack of oxygen was starting to make him a little woozy, and the world suddenly seemed unreal. He rocked drunkenly as the strongest wave of retching he would ever feel in his life overcame him.

Scared out of his mind, Gohan watched Piccolo suddenly crane his neck, his entire body seeming to grow stiff. A strange convulsion seemed to ripple up the Namekian's muscular green body, and the lump in his throat doubled in size almost instantly. Another convulsion rippled up his body, and the swelling moved forward, up behind his jaw. Gohan just stared with an open mouth. What's happening to him!?

"I'm gonna get my mom." Gohan started to get up, then felt Piccolo grab his arm. He took that as a no, so he squatted on the floor again next to his sick friend and wiped the tears out of his eyes. Then he heard a strange creaking sound and looked down at Piccolo again. Gohan just watched, about to scream, as the swelling that was in Piccolo's neck started to move forward. He looked away and covered his mouth, this time because his stomach was turning over. Remembering what he'd been told during the first fight with the Saiyans, the young boy gathered his courage and turned his eyes back to Piccolo.

Piccolo strained, clutching the swelling in his throat with one hand as it seemed to start to roll forward. More pain was added to what he was already in as the lump forced his jawbone out of its hinges. The lump hit his gag reflex, intensifying the retching even more. Sweat broke out all over his body as the final spasm forced whatever was in his throat into his mouth. Something slimy, smooth and shiny slid from Piccolo's gaping jaws and landed in his arms, followed by a gush of more slimy, blood-tinged yellow fluid. He didn't even see what it was, because all he could think to do was breathe as he forced his jaw back into normal position. Then his vision went dark as a brief unconsciousness claimed him. He slumped forward, the beads of sweat on his face and neck glistening in the faint light like thousands of sequins.

Realizing whatever was happening was over, Gohan warily moved to Piccolo's side. "Mr. Piccolo?" He asked quietly. There was no reply, except for exhausted breathing.

Gohan's voice seemed to rouse Piccolo, and he dragged his eyes open to look up at the boy. Never in his life had he ever felt so exhausted. He breathed for a moment, then managed to find his voice. "Gohan…"

"Are you OK? What happened to you? Something came out of your mouth, but I couldn't see what it was."

Piccolo's slender antennae gradually took on their usual half-erect position as he slowly dragged his upper body into an upright position and looked down, sweat dripping down his face. Gohan came closer too, and a look of shock came to his face. Piccolo had the same look of shock on his face when he realized what he was looking at.

Lying in the Namekian man's lap was an oval-shaped, shiny white egg.

And it already had cracks in it.

To be continued…