Piccolo screamed in pain. Gohan struggled against 18's grip, hoarsely yelling his name. The Namek was pinned against a crumbling concrete wall and too weak to free himself. Android 17 mercilessly tossed painful, very powerful ki balls at him, making him bleed and weaken.

"Leave him alone!" Gohan screamed. "Please, stop this!" The cross-shaped gash in his cheek bled heavily, and a small cut trickled blood into his eyes, making it hard for him to see. He twisted sharply, trying desperately to break 18's iron grip. But it was no use. She only laughed and tightened her hold painfully.

Suddenly, Piccolo's torture stopped. 18 gave Gohan a hard shove from behind, sending him sprawling face-first onto the ground. With one last powerful energy attack, the androids took to the air and were gone. He lay there for several moments, catching his breath and taking inventory of his injuries, making himself wait when everything in him screamed to help Piccolo.

"Piccolo," Gohan croaked. Ignoring his pain, he pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, then stopped and waited for the pain to fade so that he could catch his breath. He crawled forward, inching his way across the rain-slick, rubble strewn ground until he was by his mentor's side. Gently he nudged his shoulder.

"Gohan?" Piccolo whispered without opening his eyes. His face was bloody and swollen nearly beyond recognition.

"I'm here, Piccolo," came the choked reply. Gohan surveyed his friend's injuries. What he saw made tears rush down his cheeks and drop onto the Namek's burned green skin.

Piccolo was dying.

"You must promise me..." Piccolo coughed, and more blood tricked from the corner of his mouth. "That you will never-stop-fighting. Don't you ever give up-" He had to stop as painful, hacking coughs shook his beaten body.

"I promise, Piccolo. I will never give up. I will avenge you." Gohan swore. Piccolo raised a long fingered hand and touched the young Saiyan's cheek. Gohan clutched the hand to his face.

"You were my first friend," labored breathing interspersed his words. "You are... a good person."

With one last, shuddering breath, Piccolo faded from this world. Gohan, oblivious to the rain pouring down on him, curled up against his mentor's dead body and sobbed. Each pitiful sob wracked his small, muscle-bound body. His long hair was plastered to the ground and covered Piccolo's chest.

It was unfair. First his father, dead of a unexpected heart virus. Then Vegeta arrogantly got himself destroyed by the androids. Krillin went next, and Tien died trying valiantly to protect Chiaotzu. Yamcha died last, going down bravely as he protected Chi-Chi, Pu'ar, and Master Roshi. But this... His closest friend, the one who had taken his father's place and had trained him since he was small. He was gone. Piccolo would never return. The Namek that had been his comfort in the hard, unforgiving place that Earth had become was gone.

Gohan did not move for a long while. When Trunks found him, he ignored the boy. When Bulma tried to make him get up, he yelled at her to leave him be. It took several hours of coaxing to get his to give up the body, and accept that he could not bring Piccolo back. It was a final blow to a young man's heart. The Saiyan now stood alone, Trunks and Bulma watching worriedly from a distance. The strength of his emotions forced the transformation and he lifted his head to the skies as the power built, and they seemed to cry with him. The thunder was his screams, the rain his tears, and the lightning was his anger.

But like any storm, it eventually abated. The tears stopped, and the screams quieted. The golden glow faded, leaving behind blank eyes and heavy hair. But the anger remained. It would take a long time for the anger against the androids to leave. Not until they were gone. Not until he made them pay for what they had done.