Crying, Loud and incessant. At the time he wasn't even sure if he was actually hearing it or not. It seemed almost subliminal, interlaced with the psychedelic images of destruction that danced in front of his eyes- the death of his home planet, the future of his son, the fate of his enemy.
The sound of the crying grows louder. The wails of his infant son, nothing can stop them from reaching his ears. They become his entire existence, they overwhelm him, they possess him. They…
He jerked back to reality, in a vain attempt to escape the memories of his cursed past- the memories of his previous life. He found that they were beginning to resurface much more frequently these days, and, much to his surprise, they brought him nothing but shame.
Nonetheless, a crooked smirk cut across his scarred face. It never ceased to amuse him that a seasoned warrior such as himself could be so bothered by these dreams. No, not dreams, he corrected himself. They couldn't be dreams, since there was no need to sleep in the afterlife. More like…flashes, very similar to the ones he suffered in the final days of his life. The only difference being, when he was alive he caught glimpses of the future, whereas now these flashes seemed intent on making him relive his past. A sudden wave of anger surged through him, washing away any levity that he had previously felt.
"Damn that Kanassa-jin", he swore. "Not only did he curse me in life, but now he's found a way to reach me in death as well".
Even after he arrived in the afterlife, it had taken him a long time to overcome his bitterness at Tooro for imbuing him with his precognitive visions. Sometimes, he was almost thankful in a way, since the information that the visions provided him with enabled him to die a warrior's death, at peace with himself, but the fact that he would be endowed with the flashes for the rest of eternity had angered him beyond belief when the realisation had finally hit him. It was a strange gift, to be sure- both a blessing and a curse.
During the years following his death, he had found that the visions soon began to cease altogether. He could only assume that, since time did not exist in the afterlife, then there was no need for him to be able to view the future anymore. With the burden of prophecy gone, he began to devote himself wholeheartedly to his training and meditation. When time no longer becomes an issue, he realised, you need to take drastic measures to prevent yourself from going out of your mind.
In recent weeks, however, they had begun to resurface, usually during the intense bouts of meditation which he had made part of his mental and spiritual training. This particular vision was no different- far from being random; it chose to focus on one particular area- his son. "Why was that?", he pondered. "Are they trying to tell me something? Something about…Kakarotto?" He was given no more time to think, however, as a familiar greeting met his ears.
The voice echoed across the vast expanse of open ground which had become his training area of the last few days. This particular part of the afterlife was modelled after a planet called FX-50, the code name for Earth- a blue planet in the Northern Galaxy where Kakarotto had been dispatched to as a mere baby. It was a forested area known as Haltheon, with the field Bardock was currently occupying being the only flat ground around for hundreds, if not thousands of miles. He picked himself up out of his cross-legged position, brushed himself off, and turned to face the source of the greeting, which was flying towards him even as he did so.
A towering, muscular Kanassa-jin landed nearby, his arms folded. He gave Bardock the once-over…
"Hmmph, you look like shit, as always. What sadistic manoeuvres have you been putting yourself through in the name of training this time?"
Bardock grinned heartily. A typical greeting from Fionn: a warrior who had become his erstwhile training partner over the long years. Fionn was a Kanassa-jin, just like Tooro, but Bardock refused to let that colour his judgement of the man who had helped him out during his first few years in the afterlife. Bardock never ceased to be amazed at the character of this particular Kanass. The day before he died, Bardock had led a Saiya-jin hunting team which had completely destroyed the entire population of planet Kanassa, and basically obliterated most of the planet itself. For Bardock, it had just been another day at work, but for Fionn, it was everything, even if he had been long dead before it happened. His home, his race, his family. When they first met, Bardock could hardly bear to tell Fionn the truth, for fear that he would lose a staunch ally and friend, but when Fionn finally learned of Bardock's actions, all he said was, "What's done is done".
It was his motto, of sorts. Bardock treasured Fionn's friendship, and over the years the two had fought together against every conceivable form of enemy to be found in the afterlife. All part of their training.
"Nothing much", Bardock replied, "just some meditation. Relaxing stuff, really".
Fionn looked at him disbelievingly. He could see how laboured Bardock's breathing was, how ragged his breath, and how he was sweating profusely.
"Meditation. I see". A thought suddenly struck him, however, and he asked, more seriously this time, "The visions again?"
Bardock simply stared at the Kanass. "Y'know, one of these days you have got to tell me how you do that. How did you know?".
"Oh come on. You look like you've just gone head to head with a horde of Saibamen. If sitting on your ass tires you out that much, then there's something seriously wrong with you, my friend", Fionn replied with one of his usual light-hearted remarks.
"Heh, fair enough". Bardock sat down on a nearby rock; he felt like his legs were about to fail him. "Yeah, I got one of those damn flashes again. More vivid this time, and..". He paused to catch his breath, which still hadn't returned to normal. "..every time it happens, it takes more and more out of me".
"Hmmm", Fionn mumbled from a few metres away. "Believe me, I know what you mean. Those visions were given to you by a Kanassa-jin, right?"
Bardock nodded a response.
"Well, all Kanass, including myself, experience those visions at some point throughout our lives. It's because of the unique energy which surrounds our planet. It alters normal brain chemistry in some way".
"Yeah, I know. It was precisely because of that particular natural energy that Freezer sent us to…". Bardock paused once again. He didn't want to bring up the subject if it was a sensitive one, but Fionn beckoned him to continue. He did so. Cautiously.
"One of my colleagues told me that Freezer had wanted Kanassa-Sei for a long time, because it was rumoured that the planet produced a mysterious energy source which encouraged the growth of psychic power. Obviously, that bastard would have wanted such a power himself, so we were sent in to…take…the planet for him. After the battle was over, I was taken by surprise by a lone Kanassa-jin warrior, and he struck me here". Bardock patted the back of his neck. "Within hours I had experienced my first vision. It showed me the destruction of Vegita-Sei, and the future of my son".
"Your son? Which one?" Fionn enquired.
"My second. Kakarotto. He was only an infant at the time". Bardock lowered his head. "He had a pathetic powerlevel, so I basically ignored him. Then, when the visions occurred, they changed all that. They showed me just how powerful he would eventually become. I suppose I began to accept him after that, for the short time I had left anyway".
Fionn kept silent. He had a feeling that Bardock wasn't finished. He was right.
"He was my son, Fionn, and yet I only accepted him when I realised that he would eventually become a great warrior. That's not right, is it?"
Fionn took his time to reply.
"Well, I can't claim to know how you Saiya-jins think, but I do know that your people value strength above all else. It's how you define yourselves; it's your entire existence. It's been bred into you over countless generations, so it's not something you're going to be able to suppress anytime soon. I guess it's only natural for a Saiya-jin father to judge his son by his power".
"Maybe, but that still doesn't make me feel any better about how I treated him. Kakarotto was the last person I saw before I died, and I can safely say that I barely even knew him. My own son."
Silence ensued for quite a while afterwards, as both warriors were lost in their own thoughts. Suddenly, Fionn offered an opinion…
"Bardock, you said that these visions you've been having recently focused largely on Kakarotto, right?"
Bardock nodded. Fionn continued.
"Flashes tend to portray the events or people most important to the person who receives them. When you were alive, they showed the destruction of your home planet. Now, that was obviously the most important upcoming event in your life at that time, so that was what appeared in your visions. If your mind dwells on your son these days, it would certainly explain why the visions have returned, and why he features so prominently in them".
Bardock interrupted, "Your point being..?"
"I'm not finished yet. It could also mean that something of importance is going to happen to your son. Tell me something, how long do you reckon it's been since you died? I know it's nearly impossible to keep track of normal time in here, but how about a rough estimate?"
"A rough estimate?"
Bardock stopped and gave the matter some thought. He had never really paid it much heed before. "Uh, I dunno. I'd say at least 60 or 70 years, give or take a decade or two".
"Well, there you go", Fionn continued. "If your son is still alive, then it'll be his time soon enough. No offence Bardock, but Saiya-jins aren't exactly known for their long life spans. It's possible that these visions may be trying to tell you that your son is about to die, if he hasn't already".
Bardock jerked his head up. If Kakarotto was indeed dead, then that meant he could finally meet him. He could finally meet the son he had only known for a few days, the son who defeated the tyrant Freezer, the son he had rejected…
He had only known him as a screaming baby all those decades ago on Vegita-Sei, and now he would be able to see the fine warrior he had grown into. He could apologise…
Bardock leapt to his feet, his fatigue all but gone. Fionn had anticipated a response like this, just as he anticipated the next question that Bardock asked…
"How can we find out?"
"If your son is really dead or not? Well, that's easy enough, I suppose. If you return to the check-in station at the beginning of Snake Way, you could check with Enma Daiou. The only downside is…"
"What?", Bardock questioned.
Fionn raised his arm and pointed straight to his left.
"Snake Way is about 50,000 miles in that direction…"
Bardock stared quizzically him, "Are you sure? It didn't seem to take us that long to reach this place". He gestured to the forest all around him.
"We've been wandering out here for years, Bardock. We've probably covered a lot of ground and we never even noticed". Fionn twisted his head so that he was looking in the direction of Snake Way, "I'd say it'll take us around a month to get there if we move as fast as possible".
"You're coming too?"
"Hell yeah. What else am I gonna do out here? Achieve inner peace? Besides, I'd be bored without your riveting tales of life as a Saiya-jin mercenary to keep me entertained".
Bardock couldn't help but laugh. "So I'm stuck with you whether I like it or not, eh?"
"You know it", Fionn replied. "Now come on, are we gonna go, or just sit around trading insults for the rest of eternity? Let's get moving".
The two took to the air, and quickly powered forward, dramatically increasing their speed as they went. Bardock flew closer to Fionn so that he could be heard over the whine of the air rushing past their ears.
"One month, huh?. Are you sure it'll really take that long?"
"Almost certain", came the reply. "Also, if we see anyone on the way, it would be a good idea if we stopped and asked them about your son. A new Saiya-jin in the afterlife tends to attract a lot of attention".
Bardock nodded in agreement, then stared ahead in the direction of their destination. The vast terrain of the afterlife- an area unlimited in size and possibilities, lay ahead, and he knew, deep down in the far reaches of his soul, that somewhere out in that limitless expanse, Kakarotto was waiting for him.
"I swear I'll find you. Kakarotto. My son. I'm coming…"
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