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Chapter 3: The Path not Taken

Kami looked into Piccolo Jr.'s mind while the boy was unconscious. He witnessed the events that had led to this sudden turn in his personality development. Kami took in a deep breath and sighed, humans were very unpredictable. They meant well for the most part, and the mob mentality was always so powerful to them. But they had dealt damage to Piccolo that would be hard to undo. Especially focusing his rage on Goku, that would be the hardest to remedy. Yet Kami knew it had to be remedied, because Goku showed an unusual talent for turning former enemies into allies, friends even.

Kami rubbed his temples as he tried to figure out what he could possibly do. He was almost tempted to collect the Dragon Balls and erase all of Piccolo Jr.'s memories, even the ones from Daimao, but he had a feeling that wouldn't work. It either wouldn't be in the Dragon's power, or Daimao would find a way to reassert his memories. He even debated just killing him now while he was weaker and manageable. That would end all the trouble, except the Earth would be without a Guardian. He had every intention train Goku as his replacement, but he wasn't entirely sure Goku'd be willing to do it.

Frustrated, Kami returned his attention to the Earth below, although the back of his mind was still devoted to Piccolo.

The humans he was watching actually gave him the inspiration he needed. They were con artists, weaving their victim in an elaborate hoax to steal all of that person's money. Kami gently nudged a detective in the criminal's directions, and then returned his mind to the Palace. He had a deep connection with Piccolo, each could potential see into the other's head. However, they trained themselves to avoid the intrusion, but Piccolo was still too young to do this effectively.

Kami entered the boy's mind, happy to find little defenses to stop him. He then began a scenario to play out while Piccolo was unconscious. He would imagine that he'd escape from the Lookout, to a place where Kami could not find him, and he would train there until the next Budokai. There, he would fight until finally he went up against Goku. He would struggle with Goku in a vicious battle, until Kami would allow Piccolo to kill Goku. It would be tricky, Kami would have to constantly change things in order to react and cope with Piccolo's decisions. If Piccolo felt he was just along for a ride, some strange dream, it wouldn't have any effect. No, Piccolo had to believe that it was all real, at least until Kami could evaluate the boy's reaction to Goku's death. He had a feeling the boy wouldn't be satisfied, but he had to make sure before he even attempted to introduce Piccolo to Goku in real life.

Kami warned Mr. Popo that he would be unresponsive for at least a couple of days, maybe longer, but he could not be disturbed and he would not be harmed. He gave Goku a difficult training mission that would take him at least a week to complete, and then he embarked on his endeavor.

/~**~\

Kami had no idea how much time had passed in the real world, but within the two minds, three years had passed. All was going well, there had been some rough spots, but nothing so dire as to tip Piccolo off to what was really going on. The Tournament was proving the most difficult. It was hard to decide who to have Piccolo fight prior to Goku, it was even harder to choose who his fake Goku would fight. He knew he had to do it though, in order to allow Piccolo a chance to evaluate Goku and believe everything was true. The actual battle between Goku and Piccolo was even more difficult. Kami couldn't allow Piccolo to win too easily, but at the same time, he couldn't overwhelm Piccolo into believing that Goku would win. Kami was relieved when he finally saw the opportunity to allow Piccolo to kill Goku, he even made Goku attempt a hasty counter that injured Piccolo, but didn't stop him.

When Piccolo confirmed that Goku was dead, he was confident, and put on a show that he had thoroughly enjoyed killing the orange clad warrior, but Kami could feel what Piccolo really felt. And Piccolo felt nothing, no satisfaction whatsoever. He was still just as conflicted, just as angry, and just as hateful as he had been before. Kami worried for a second, until something else developed. The hate for Goku disappeared, and instead, the hate fell onto Daimao, and even Piccolo Jr. himself, for wasting his life on something that wouldn't give it meaning, for wasting his life on something he always knew wouldn't give it meaning.

That was when Kami dropped the deception. Everything melted away and he allowed himself appear. Piccolo Jr. was again a boy. He looked around, confused, and then he locked eyes on Kami and spat, "So you're behind this eh old man? What's wrong? You couldn't stand me defeating your precious little protégé?"

Kami shook his head, "It was all in our minds Piccolo, I wanted to show you where your path of vengeance would lead you."

"Pah, bull shit. We both know you can't see the future. So if none of that was real, then you didn't prove anything. It was all a fabrication, false events, false emotions, designed to make me recant my decision to follow my father's footsteps in my own way."

Kami shook his head, "I never manipulated your emotions, we both know that is beyond my power. And I made sure that any change I made did not push you in any direction you didn't want to go. You know that emptiness of Goku's death was as real as if it had happened."

Kami felt a little bit of hatred directed towards Kami, but the need for vengeance that burned him before wasn't there. This was an improvement, but hardly the end goal. Piccolo Jr. was still dangerous and hostile towards the human race. He needed a friend now, much like the woman had been for him. That was something Kami couldn't do, not with all the animosity between them, but at least he had opened the door for Goku.

"When you wake up you'll be in a room in my palace. It is a special room, in that whoever occupies it may not leave without my express permission. If you try, magic will make it quite impossible for you to pass through the door. You can try to get passed anyways but it would be a waste of effort."

"So I'm your prisoner eh old man?"

"I do not take prisoners brat," Kami paused to reel in his momentary anger, "it is for your own good."

"Whatever, just get the hell out of my head," Piccolo Jr. snarled.

Kami wanted to stay, but the boy's mental defenses decided to grow, and Kami had spent so much energy creating the false scenario, he could not stop himself from being ousted back into his old mind. Kami panted hard from the exertion. He looked at the calendar Mr. Popo kept near his throne. An entire week had passed. He wanted nothing more to rest, but he knew he had left the Earth unchecked for too long. He spent a day righting the planet below as much as possible and then slipped into deep meditations.

I hope this chapter wasn't too boring. Next chapter I'll introduce Goku into the fray. Can Piccolo really drop his vengeance with Goku? And can Goku contain his anger for Piccolo in order to help him out?

Elieare