By Son Rhandi
Chapter The Last
For some reason, everything just seemed better.
The red velvet cake was sweeter and moister than he remembered. The tea was more fragrant than he recalled. Even the silverware seemed more highly polished since the last time he spied it.
Ginyu could hear the raucous laughter of his men, parked in the shade of a large tree nearby as they told hilarious anecdotes, no doubt, but he wasn't really listening to their words. No, he was very content to sit at the large table—now entirely clear of the spread Mrs. Briefs had so graciously provided—and calmly sip his tea. It wasn't a flavor he'd ever encountered before today. 'Jasmine,' she called it. It had a subtle sweetness that was a nice break from the sugary pastries he'd spent the afternoon savoring.
He had to laugh at himself, just a little. Before all this began, Ginyu would never have entertained the idea of living a peaceful, uneventful existence. Of course, he had never had the time to just stop and look around to see the glory in simply being, or the desire, for that matter... Being dead had given him a new appreciation for life. Men live, beasts live, trees live, but their time is always finite, and barring game-breaking means like the dragonballs, death was everlasting. The captain rested his head on his hand as he listened to the gentle rustling of leaves, enjoying the little breeze what caused it. He wondered how the Ginyu Frogs were doing and thought about paying them a visit, then caught himself and enjoyed a hearty laugh. Oh, what a life he had lived! But it had beenhis life, and he had probably seen more in his years as a man and beast than most people ever would. All in all, despite his personal failings, Ginyu had no regrets. After all, it was only through performing misdeeds that he was able to meet and form a bond with his men. He just accepted that he had to take the bad with the good and could move forward from there. They could all move forward now.
Of course, figuring out what 'moving forward' actually constituted for them, that was the hard part. For reasons beyond him, they were all alive. Ginyu breathed a quiet sigh. He hadn't known a life outside of waiting for orders to conquer one civilization or the next. Should he try to make a life for them all on Earth? Could they really be happy in such a place? So many unknowns... He rubbed his temples, feeling a bit frustrated. With a snort and a little "Harrumph," Ginyu decided to push those thoughts aside and just enjoy the momentary pleasure of a nice day outdoors and his new favorite, jasmine tea. He lifted the tea to his lips, but was disappointed to find he had already drunk it down to the last drop.
As if sensing a disturbance in the Force, Mrs. Briefs reappeared, sterling silver teapot in hand. "My goodness! You boys certainly made short work of the shortcakes!" She giggled at her little joke. "I thought I'd check to see if there was anything else I could get you all, but it looks like everyone is ready to just enjoy the nice weather."
"Actually, I seem to be out of tea. Would you be so kind, Missus?"
"Oh, certainly, dear!" She poured the aromatic brew without missing a beat.
"Th-Thank you..." He turned his attention to his cup, hoping she wouldn't notice his faint blush. He wasn't used to dealing with lady types at all. Breathing in the tea's floral scent, Ginyu immediately began to relax. "...Mrs. Briefs?"
"Hmm? What is it, sweetie?"
"I... That is, Mr. Funny Frog... Y'oughta know that he's ok where he is. He's doing just fine. I'm sure if he could, he'd thank you and Mr. Mustache for taking care of him. Actually, he wouldn't be able to thank you enough."
She drew a coy hand up to her chest. "Oh, Ginyu, you're sweeter than a pie made of cakes," she gave him a warm smile. "But who is this Mr. Mustache?" The blonde took her moment. "...Oh! You must mean my husband, Dr. Briefs," she giggled, as she was wont to do, but then, drew a hand to her cheek. "But... I never mentioned my husband having a mustache. Why would you know something like that?"
"Er, ah... I..." Ginyu took his own moment, quickly raising his cup to his lips. "Ah!" Unexpectedly, the teacup slipped out of his grasp, spilling his beloved jasmine tea all over the table.
"Oh, dear! I should have warned you that the tea was hot. I'm so sorry, Ginyu. Here, let me clean that up."
"No, really. It's my fault. I-" As he reached for the cup, he saw a sight that sunk his heart.
His hands had begun to fade once again. Ginyu swiftly ducked his hands under the table, a motion that did not go unnoticed by his gracious hostess. "Oh, no, did it burn you?"
"No, please. I'm fine, really."
"Let me see." She reached for his arm.
"Mrs. Briefs, please..."
"I'll put some aloe on it." She pulled at his left arm, and he did not resist. "Now if you'll just-"
With all the rarity of a blue moon, Mrs. Briefs' eyes opened wide, the striking color of lapis lazuli. By this time, Ginyu's hand had nearly faded to nothing. She looked to him, rightfully confused. "Ginyu?"
He could only look back at her with sad eyes and a sadder smile. "Men," he called to them. "It's time to go. Come and say goodbye to Mrs. Briefs."
His command was met with grumbles. "Aww, can't we stay a bit longer, Cap'n Ginyu?" Jeice whined.
"I'm afraid it's not up to me!" He waved his free arm at them, now missing a hand with his arm on its way out. Alarmed, the others looked to their own bodies to discover that they, too, had begun to fade. They were having so much fun, they didn't even notice. Hurriedly, they trotted over to Ginyu. With one last sigh, their leader gently tugged away from Mrs. Briefs' grip, moving to join his men. "Are... Are you all ghosts?"
Ghosts? Well, that was as good an explanation as any, he supposed. "Yeah, I guess you could say that." He smiled. "Now come on, guys. We don't have a lot of time, so show the Missus some manners."
"Thank you for your hospitality, ma'am. It was a pleasure." Burter gave a curt little nod of his head and a genuine smile.
"And not just any old pleasure! The best pleasure ever! Real swell of you to oblige us, ma'am. Thank you!" Guldo delivered a more enthusiastic take.
"Too right! Why, a man could die with no regrets gettin' just a nibble o' that spread! Thanks a bundle!" Jeice upped the enthusiasm ante.
"Oh, man, Mrs. Briefs, you make the best parfaits in the galaxy! No, in the universe! And I oughta know!" The behemoth puffed out his chest. "Heck, thanks for bein' awesome, Missus." And Recoome won the hand.
"And like I said, I can't thank you enough for all that you've done." The comment would be lost on her, but it didn't matter.
"Whoop! There I go!" They turned to find Guldo as just barely a head. "Well, see you guys when I do! Goodbye, Mrs. Briefs!" And there he went. True, they had gone through this already, but couldn't he be just a little less chipper about it?
"My turn, I guess..." Jeice was markedly less thrilled about having to go through another disappearing act. "Thanks again, Missus! Think well on us, when you will!" The Red Magma faded away to join his green teammate.
Burter laughed aloud, a sound almost as rare as the sight of Mrs. Briefs' blue eyes. "It really was a nice spread. Even if it was just for today, I'm glad I could meet you. Goodbye, Mrs. Briefs." The Blue Hurricane followed, not one to leave his partner alone.
"Man, what the heck? That was my line!" Recoome just settled for a wave and disappeared in a huff.
Ginyu laughed despite himself. Even as he faded away, even as Mrs. Briefs' brow scrunched in sadness, all he could do was laugh. "Take care of yourself, and give my regards to your husband! Ribbit, ribbit!"
And in what may have been a personal record for her, she immediately understood. Ignoring the tears prickling at the corners of her eyes, Mrs. Briefs waved to Ginyu with abandon as he faded from her sight.
When Ginyu came to, he could tell immediately that he was back in Otherworld. When he pawed the air above his head, the halo that reclaimed its home confirmed it. He was understandably disappointed.
"Hey, guys. Cap's here now."
The others looked up at Recoome's words and greeted him wordlessly. Like himself, his subordinates were also in low spirits. The taste of the good dish called life stuck to their palettes like a fudge-coated biscuit. He looked around. This time, they hadn't been dumped in some portion of Hell. Actually, they seemed to be in some kind of waiting room. A large viewing screen was at the far end of the room, though it didn't seem to be turned on at the moment. Sitting against the adjacent walls were two large red couches that faced each other, where his men had taken up residence. Turning around he saw directly behind him was an unmanned receptionist's desk with a little bell perched atop. A sign hung on the front of the desk in that same language he didn't understand. He assumed it said something to the effect of 'ring bell for service', and shrugging, went to test his theory. It rang out a pleasant little ding!, and sure enough, a familiar ogre appeared.
"Glasses! Didn't expect to see you here."
"Oh! The beefy fellow with the special clothing request!" Glasses pushed his own further up the bridge of his nose. "I'm sorry I wasn't out to meet you. We only just got the check-in station back to normal, and due to a rather large mishap, we're being stretched thin at the moment."
Mishap? Perhaps whatever this 'mishap' was had something to do with them and Frieza and the rest suddenly coming back to life. "Well, since you were summoned here, I suppose that means North and South Kai will be meeting with you shortly."
"Hmm? We were summoned?"
"Of course. This room is for special appointments only. Souls are only permitted here if they've been specifically requested by the executive staff." He pushed up his glasses once again. "Well, all that aside, I'll have to ask that you return the Life Pen and map of Hell that were lent to you."
"Yeah, sure thing." He produced both items from under his breastplate. "Though you oughta know this map you gave me is woefully outdated."
"Oh?" Glasses opened the map, and sure enough, the Monster Plateau was uncharted. "Goodness, my apologies. But it seems you were resourceful enough to navigate your way through without issue," he smiled politely. The ogre could see that four others were sitting further back. "Oh, and are those your men that you were searching for?"
"Yup! Found 'em all!" Ginyu puffed out his chest.
"Well, congratulations, then." He smiled politely once again. "I'll have to put these away a moment. If you'll excuse me..." The ogre gave a curt little bow and disappeared behind the courtesy counter. Ginyu, meanwhile, occupied a nice little spot against the wall by Recoome and Guldo's couch, crossing his arms and leaning back. "I guess the moment of truth is soon to arrive..." He muttered to himself.
"Hm? Moment of truth, Captain?" Recoome looked at him quizzically.
Ginyu shrugged. "You'll find out soon enough."
'Soon enough' became 'that very moment' as the aforementioned Kais came strolling in, Goku trailing behind them. "Well, well! Long time no see!" King Kai raised his hand in greeting.
The captain turned to face the cricket kings. "Well, hey there, King Kai, South Kai, Goku. What's the good word?"
"You tell me! Things have been a mess here like you wouldn't believe!" The blue cricket produced a handkerchief from nowhere and dabbed at his brow.
"Oh, I'd believe it. I'd believe it in a second..." Ginyu shook his head. "But seein' as things are back to normal now..." He flicked his halo. "Mind lettin' us know why we were summoned?"
"Of course!" King Kai waggled a pudgy finger. "With my incredible powers of foresight, I thought we might have a bit of a shakeup while we presided over the bet, so I took some precautions."
King Kai nodded. Proceeding to the counter, the small god quickly realized that he couldn't actually see over the top. "Ahem... Ding!"
Glasses came trotting back, quick as lightning. "Oh, my! Greetings, North Kai!"
"Hello, my good man! Could you please retrieve the recording I requested?"
"Why certainly!" Glasses disappeared beneath the counter, quickly producing a jewel case with a shiny disc of some sort. The case itself was labeled 'North/South Kai bet – Ginyu Force'. "Would you like to view it now?"
King Kai nodded affirmatively. Glasses stepped from behind the counter and made his way to the viewing screen, which had a slit just long and wide enough to receive the disk, and slipped it in without a hitch. The screen powered up immediately.
Ginyu rubbed the back of his head. "King Kai, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little confused. What are we watching?"
"Why, your exploits, of course!" The cricket king placed his arms behind his back. "Because of some disruptive happenings, I'm afraid we weren't able to preside over the bet properly past a certain point, but thanks to the marvels of DVR, we can go back and review the footage!"
"Deceased Villain Recording," Glasses chimed in, handling a remote control like a pro.
South Kai just snorted. "What my diminutive little companion isn't telling you is that we were scheduled to attend the Otherworld Tournament and didn't have time to watch your events unfold, and just decided to record it for later."
"...So my live broadcast was downgraded to a direct-to-video release?" Suddenly his spirits were even lower than before.
"Well, shoot! Even we have things to do, you know!" King Kai dabbed at his brow again.
"Hey, don't sweat it, Ginyu," Goku chimed in, his tone of typical Goku cheer. "I'll bet you guys had all sorts of adventures since the last time I visited. And just think; now everyone will be able to see your coolest scenes whenever they want, as many times as they want!"
Ginyu stroked his chin. He hadn't thought of it that way. "Well, in that case, fire it on up, Glasses!"
The blue ogre chuckled. "The Otherworld Interdimensional Video Services are the best in existence. As long the target exists, our interdimensional cameras can follow him anywhere, and with some nice cinematography if you purchase the premium service." That Glasses sure knew how to sell it. He really was the sort that was happily married to his job. "Here you are, North Kai, sir." Glasses passed the remote to him, the screen displaying the main menu.
"Ooh, it's even split up into chapters!" King Kai thumbed through the scenes. "Ah, this looks to be about where we left off..." He selected the scene in question, spying Goku and Ginyu together in the Gripless on the thumbnail image.
"Ok, so help me out here," Burter piped up, thoroughly confused. "Aside from the fact that being filmed without our knowledge or consent is downright creepy, why are we going through and watching what we've already done?"
"Shh! All will be revealed after we review the footage," the blue Kai shushed him. It was viewed mostly in fast forward mode—understandably, this was weeks' worth of film they had to review—but with Kai eyes, even with the recording sped up, none of their exploits would escape their sights. Several minutes of scanning passed without anything in particular raising a flag. Through the Gripless and into the Monster Plateau, nothing seemed remotely suspect.
"Ah, I guess that would be about the time that mishap took place," King Kai muttered, noting the Ginyus suddenly disappearing from the Plateau. South Kai just gave a little grunt in acknowledgment. "Oh, wow, you all actually ended up on Earth a while. This should be interesting..." The blue Kai smirked.
"Oh yeah, speaking of..." Ginyu turned to Goku. "I saw your son while we were on Earth, Goku. He's really shot up somethin' fierce since our little soirée on Namek." He ended on a chuckle.
"You did? Awesome!" Of all things, he didn't expect to hear about his eldest son from Ginyu of all people. "Is he doing well?"
"Oh, you bet. He's defending cities and winning the hearts of young damsels and everything!"
The Saiyan felt a pang of fatherly pride in his heart. He was glad to know that Gohan was doing well despite his absence.
"Ah-ha! There we go."
Everyone turned their attention to the screen. King Kai placed the video back on normal speed, where they could see the exchange between Ginyu and Frieza, and soon the other Ginyus. He turned up the volume, interested in every word they had to say. They watched as the swarm of revived fighters advanced upon them, watched as Gohan put Frieza to end, watched as Ginyu and Gohan shared their own words, and then...
"There it is." King Kai paused the scene. All five of them, gold auras ablaze, frozen on the screen, auras free of the purple taint so common of those with evil in their hearts. "Well, I think we've seen what we needed to see. Wouldn't you agree, South Kai?"
"Hmph. Don't pat yourself on the back too hard..." He grumbled.
"Aww, don't be sore, South Kai. I know it's hard losing your classic convertible, but I just can't help driving the point home!" King Kai guffawed and giggle-snorted, breathing a sigh when he could snort no further. "Well, I suppose it's time I let the rest of your men on our little secret." He did nothing to suppress his huge grin. "You see, South Kai here and I invited Ginyu to participate in a little bet of ours, namely, to see if an evil soul could change, given the chance. If he succeeded, he would be rewarded with reincarnation. If he failed, he would be wiped from existence. Your captain took it a step further and negotiated for reincarnation for all of you as well, if he won the bet. But if he or any of you slipped back into doing evil deeds, he could kiss his existence goodbye, no questions asked. Well, I'm here to tell you..." He turned his back and held a dramatic pause, then spun back around. "You all totally killed it! Congratulations, boys!"
"Y... Y'mean... We get to live again?" Jeice asked, trying to wrap his head around the concept.
The smaller Kai nodded. "That's right. You'll be starting over as new people with new lives."
"But... if we're reincarnated, that means we won't be us anymore..!" Guldo shrank a bit, a feat in itself.
"True, you won't have your same bodies and you won't have memories of your past lives," King Kai began. "But your soul is your soul and nothing can change that. No matter what the outsides look like, you are you."
"Hm. Actually, I wouldn't mind something in a smaller model." Burter began. "I can't imagine I'll have an easy time shopping for clothes being this big," he chuckled.
"Hey, now that you mention it, I would mind adding a few inches of height and dropping this spare tire, myself..." Guldo lifted his gut to illustrate his point. "I guess if I think of it like that, reincarnation doesn't sound like a bad deal at all! Hey, Jeice! How's that body type working out for you?"
"Pretty well! As far as my new body goes, as long as I can still have killer good looks, I'll be satisfied." He slicked back his downy hair.
"...Captain Ginyu, you risked your very existence for us?" Recoome looked to his leader with wide eyes. "I don't care what kinda person I end up as. Just knowing I'll get to live again because you cared enough to include us is enough for me. You're a real swell guy, Cap." The behemoth grinned ear to ear.
"Yeah, that's our Cap'n for ya, always lookin' out!" Jeice gave Ginyu a playful slap on the back.
A faint blush crept across Ginyu's face. "...As if I could abandon you meatheads!" He laughed a hearty laugh. "Well, King Kai, what happens now?"
"Ah, if I may?" Glasses cleared his throat. "If you'll just allow me a moment to prepare a vehicle, we'll head out to the reincarnation center. That will be the last leg of your journey before you all start your new lives. Congratulations to you all." He gave them a smile far more genuine than the retail courtesy one he usually wore. "Oh, have you given any thought to where you all would like to live?"
Ginyu cocked his head. "Y'mean, we can choose?"
"Each planet has its own portal in its own section of the facility, so it will save a bit of driving if I can plan a route around your intended planets of stay."
"Well, I'd be happy settling on Planet Earth, I think. It's pretty comfortable and I'd like to actually experience it as a man, for a change." Ginyu ended on a smirk.
"Yeah, it really was a pretty planet. Hm… Much as I love ol' Brench, I think I'll see what Earth has t' offer!" Jeice nodded his head, decided.
Burter just shrugged. "Why not? I'll come, too. Maybe we'll get to meet Mrs. Briefs again someday."
When her name was mentioned, the remaining two signed on for Earth as well. They were surprisingly easy to sway when sweet treats and sweeter ladies were at stake. "Well, I think we've made our decision, Glasses. We'll all be living our new lives on Planet Earth."
The bespectacled ogre nodded. "I hear it really is a very lovely place. I wish you five all the success in the world. Now, if you'll just give me a moment to fill out the proper paperwork and grab the key, we can be on our way shortly."
The Ginyu Force bid their farewells to the Kais and Goku while Glasses busied himself with the procedures that came with his job. As promised, he was back before they knew it, and on the road in a comfortable van, on their way to their new lives.
"Rise and shine, gentlemen! We've arrived!"
Ginyu's eyes opened out of sync. He licked the inside of his mouth, feeling as it did when one goes to bed without first brushing their teeth. The captain unfastened his seatbelt and opened the passenger's side door, stepping out with a stretch and a yawn and a scratch of his belly. The drive itself was a little on the long side. Ginyu had dozed off at some point, along with the rest of his men. He had taken the front seat at Glasses' suggestion, probably foreseeing his nap and wanting to avoid an accidental goring of the others. As much as he loved the way his horns looked, it would be nice not having to always sleep with tennis balls on the ends of them, assuming he didn't end up with an even more cumbersome pair, of course…
The sounds of sliding doors opening on either side filled his ears. The other Ginyus clambered out of the vehicle, each stretching their limbs or yawning or rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. Spying the area, the setup was almost like an outdoor warehouse, but instead of being filled with crates and boxes and palettes, there were just multicolored bins arranged in a very orderly manner, stretching as far as the eye could see. Actually, it was very closely modeled to a modern recycling center.
Each bin was brightly colored with masterful renderings of different planets on the fronts of each, with captions in that strange language underneath. They must have read the names of each planet they represented.
"It's not very glamorous, I'm afraid, but this is the reincarnation center. Here, you'll find the portal you'll be entering to begin your new start on Earth," Glasses explained, gesturing to the large blue receptacle to his side.
"Yeah, no kiddin'…" Ginyu crossed his arms. "I'd have thought a place called the 'reincarnation center' would have been a bit fancier than this."
"Well, this place is modeled to be efficient, not aesthetically pleasing." He pushed up his glasses. "Not everyone is bad enough to be sent to Hell, but not everyone is good enough to make it to Heaven, either. And believe me, there are a lot of those types. For those cases, we have the reincarnation center. Everyone will eventually do well enough or poorly enough to make it to their final destination. It's just a matter of when."
"I see… This is really it, isn't it?" Ginyu breathed a heavy sigh. "Well, gents, this is our very last mission. It has been an honor to lead you, and I hope to have the pleasure of knowing you all again in our new lives on Earth. Remember, we aren't saying goodbye to us, just our old lives. I hope you'll be able to complete this final mission with no regrets. Let's go ahead and say our farewells, and we'll meet again under a clear, blue sky." He smiled warmly.
"Let's do just that. Recoome..." Burter addressed him, holding out a large paw. "It was fine working with you, and I'm sorry for everything."
"Sheesh, haven't you heard? I already forgave you." Recoome met him with his own large paw, giving him a firm handshake. "Let's meet again someday on Earth, and let's do it with no regrets, like Cap said. All right?"
"Absolutely all right." He gave the behemoth a confident grin.
"Hey! You two mammoths wanna kneel down a sec? I've got some farewellin' to do!"
Of course, they obliged their toady companion. Guldo shook hands with Recoome first. The two had always had a certain chemistry. Maybe not as strong as the one between Jeice and Burter, but it was there, all the same. "You know, I've always said this, but it bears repeating: You're all right, Recoome." He extended his pudgy little hand.
"Hey, right back at ya, bud. You make a good life for yourself on Earth, and I'll catch up with you later." The behemoth's meaty paw swallowed it right up, shaking gently, else he'd probably break his hand clean off.
"Ha, ha! You bet!" Wiggling out of Recoome's grip, Guldo traded the behemoth's paw for the saurian's even larger one.
"Hey, Burt. It was pretty neat partnerin' up with you when we fought the Skivbaku."
"Likewise. I wouldn't have thought it before, but you're a tough little fellow, aren't you?"
The esper tsked. "Better watch those 'little remarks. I may just end up taller than you!" Blue and green shared a laugh.
Meanwhile, Jeice's face was practically melting. The Red Magma had erupted in tears and was so long in the face that he was
far past the point of being pitiable and around the corner to downright comical. "Burter..." He sniffled.
"Oh, my god..."
Jeice flung himself at the Blue Hurricane. "I'm gonna miss ya, mate!" He sobbed, dripping hot magma tears (Burter hoped that's all they were) on his partner's bare skin. "And you, too, Recoome!" He looked to the behemoth, somehow crying even more intensely than before. "And even you, Guldo!" He sniffled, then resumed bawling like an infant.
Burter couldn't even bring himself to feel annoyed. "Uh... There, there..." He gave Jeice's back a half-hearted pat. Recoome just laughed and ruffled the red Brenchian's hair, while Guldo grumbled, but gave in to the humor of the situation and had a laugh of his own.
Captain Ginyu shook his head. He was really going to miss his chowderheads as they were, but in his heart, he truly wished they could meet again in the next life. "Ok, guys. Bring it in. I've got one last thing to take care of."
The Ginyus lined up before him, Jeice taking care to fix his face as best he could. "Recoome, step forward, please."
"Huh?" The behemoth spared a glance to his teammates before stepping before Ginyu. "Recoome, you've really carried the team through this entire ordeal. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I'd probably be dead twice over if not for your unconventional thinking. You kept a cool head and assessed different situations as they came, and really went above and beyond your duty as a member of the Ginyu Force. Therefore, it is my great honor to bestow you the title of second-in-command."
The behemoth's heart fluttered. "R… Really?"
"Really really! Any objections?" Ginyu called to the others.
"Ha, ha! No way! You've earned it, big guy!" Jeice gave his teammate a double thumbs-up, his mood turning a complete 180.
"Definitely. No objections here." Burter nodded, wearing a proud smile.
"Heck yeah! I'm behind the decision 9,001 percent!" Guldo clapped.
"Then, kneel down, Recoome, and I'll make it official."
Recoome sat on his knees and placed his hands on his thighs. Ginyu stood straight as a pillar and thumped a fist twice over his heart, then thumped the same fist twice over Recoome's. Then, cupping his hands behind the behemoth's head, Ginyu brought their foreheads to touch, then gave him a gentle headbutt. Not enough to cause pain, but just enough to be more than a tap. "Ya done good, big guy!"
Ginyu stepped away and squared his hands on his hips, giving the behemoth the biggest smile he had to offer. The other Ginyus applauded their comrade's well-deserved promotion, genuinely happy for him. But after the applause died down, Ginyu's smile faded to a look of confusion. The behemoth still remained knelt there, unmoving.
"What's wrong?" The captain asked. "Aren't you happy?"
Recoome looked to him with puppy dog eyes, his bottom lip quivering.
Aw,jeez… Sighing, Ginyu held out his arms as wide as they would allow. "Come on."
Recoome hugged him tight, tighter than he had ever hugged anyone. "Gonna miss you, Cap…" A little tear rolled down his cheek.
"…Yeah. Gonna miss you, too," Ginyu breathed quietly, patting his back.
The behemoth broke the embrace. "I'm sorry." He sniffled a bit, wiping his nose on his glove. "I'll do my best to fulfill my role as second-in-command, Captain." He gave his superior a sharp salute.
"Captain Ginyu... I hope you don't mind if I just settle for a handshake?" Burter extended a big, blue paw to his leader, smiling.
"Of course not," Ginyu replied, wearing a smile all his own and chuckling as his hand became lost in that of the Blue Hurricane's.
"It's been a real pleasure, Cap." Guldo held his arm out, and Ginyu met him in kind, giving the esper a firm handshake.
"Ha, good having you aboard, Guldo."
"Cap'n Ginyu..." Jeice uttered, making no effort to cover up his tear-streaked face. He extended his right hand to Ginyu, his palm turned upward.
"Jeice..." Ginyu extended his own, coming down on Jeice's hand with a gentle grip. Then, with their left hands, they patted the other's right shoulder exactly twice. Farewells between tribesmen were never said with words. They only spoke with their hands and with their eyes. As ruby red eyes bore into hunter green ones, the gravity of the situation fully hit Ginyu.
This was the last chapter in their lives as they were. There would be no more adventures, no more battles, no jokes, no snacks, no glory, no poses, no nothing...
But as King Kai said, no matter the appearance, they would always be them. Ginyu held the words in his heart as he turned to Glasses. "Well, I guess we'll be going now."
With a curt little nod, Glasses shuffled in his breast pocket and produced a keycard, which he swiped through the card reader mounted on the front of the bin. A hydraulic hiss emerged, and the entire front panel lifted like a garage door to reveal a dark entrance. Then, he moved around to the right side of the receptacle and lifted a small panel—not unlike the sort to house circuit breakers—and pressed a candy red button. The receptacle began to hum, as if warming up, and then, in a literal flash, the once dark entrance burst with a spiraling light.
"This is it," said Glasses. "Once you step through this portal, you'll pass the Event Horizon. Once you cross that threshold, there's no going back. Are you ready for the journey ahead?"
Ginyu breathed deeply, trying to quell his nerves. "I think we're as ready as we'll ever be." The others nodded slowly in agreement.
"Well, then, I hope you'll enjoy your new lives. Take care of yourselves."
"Don't forget, men. Our names may changes, our faces may changes, but we will always, always be us, no matter what! Don't you dare forget it!" He gave an aggressive little grin. "Let me hear it nice and loud! Who are we?"
True to form, they pumped their fists high in the air and shouted in unison: "We are the Ginyu Force!"
"All right!" Ginyu spun on his heels, facing the spiraling portal. "Glasses, keep up the good work! See ya next time we die!"
With that, he charged in unafraid, his men following suit. The five were swallowed by the hot, white light, never to know this world again, at least, not in their current lives.
The light was so intense, Ginyu found himself immediately blinded. He felt himself enter what he thought was a freefall, but as he traveled, it felt more as though he was being pulled. It became stronger, to the point where his body began to feel stretched. Ginyu was in no pain of any sort, though.
And then, he felt a sensation not unlike splashing into a body of water. Whatever he was in wasn't water at all. It was thicker, more dense, as though he were floating in a sea of syrup. It was a place full of warmth, the warmth of so many minds and souls and emotions... Ginyu could not see, and he could not hear, but he could feel in his mind and in his heart each and every presence there. For an instant, he felt one with them, and yet could preserve his own sense of self. It was a very strange state to be in. His powerful body, the one he was so familiar with, began to revert back into the cloud-like puff of a soul it had once been. Gone were his hands and feet, his muscular frame and chiseled features. Only his presence remained, distilled down to his very essence.
Suddenly, he was moving again. Something told him that this was it, the last spurt toward his new life on Earth! With a realization that manifested itself as a sudden warmth, he knew there were others travelling with him. Though he could not find the words, and even if he could, he had no mouth with which to speak them, he knew each presence well, though he did not know what to call them. While his words had left him, his numbers had not. He could feel four very distinct presences: One was fiery and passionate; another, by contrast, was quiet and reserved; the next was steadfast and true; and the last, bigger than his body, so to speak.
With this, the soul who knew not what to call even himself at this point knew that everything would be all right. Wherever his life lead and whatever he ended up as, he knew he wouldn't be alone. Locked away deep in their souls, the memories of rainbow-colored comrades would exist, carried with them into their new beginning.