Disclaimer: I've been saying the same thing for the past two years and nine months, and as far as this story is concerned, this is the last time I'll say it again. This story is over and will never need to be disclaimed again. But let's do it one more time, for old time's sake. (grins) I don't own DBZ.
(Epilogue: Homeward Bound)
Bardock was gone. The realization struck Vegeta deeply, resonating somewhere inside him, like a hammer striking a bell. He felt like a bell, too, empty and hollow.
Bardock was gone.
How did he feel about that? The man hadn't even thought to say goodbye to him before making that wish. Not that he cared. Why should he care? Bardock was only a stupid, low level soldier who just happened to be a little bit stronger than him - but only because he was old and Vegeta was young. He obviously didn't care about his prince other than to try to convince Vegeta to go back to Vegeta-sei and become the king. That was all Bardock had ever wanted from him. Prince, king... that's all Vegeta would ever be to him. Which was just fine with him, because he didn't care. Right? Right.
But that didn't change the fact that Bardock was gone. Vegeta's mind couldn't seem to wrap itself around that one thought, and it continued to echo over and over again inside his head. Gone, gone, gone... Bardock was gone, and now it was time to go home.
Home... Vegeta frowned at the word. He hadn't really been home in a long time, not since he'd started working for Frieza. What would it be like to be confined to one planet after years of space travel? Would it be anything like the time he'd spent here on Earth? No, his mind told him. There would be no adventures on Vegeta-sei, no journeys across the planet in quest of magical dragonballs, no... friends... to travel with and talk to. Friends... what a strange concept. He'd never had friends before he'd been kidnapped by Bardock, Trunks, and Goten. Friendship implied a measure of equality, and Saiyan princes didn't have any equals. Probably the closest thing he'd ever had to a friend had been Nappa, and the older, bald-headed man had really only been a bodyguard, an underling, someone to share his victories and triumphs with, someone to complain to when things weren't going the way Vegeta wanted them, someone he could vent his anger on. He hadn't exactly been the brightest of the Royal guards, but he'd been solid and dependable. Nappa had always been there for as long as he could remember... until he died obeying the orders Vegeta had given him.
He missed Nappa.
Not feeling like dwelling on that thought, Vegeta hopped down off the broken wall, landing lightly on a bare patch of dirt outside the house. He doubted that either Bulma or Goku had even noticed him... which was just as well. He really didn't feel like talking to either of them right now. Especially Goku. No, what he wanted to do was get his mind off of what had just happened, ignore the fact that... that Bardock was gone. The best way to do that would be to find a task to focus on.
"Guess it's time to find those capsules Trunks kept the space ship in..."
"Where are they?! They have to be here somewhere!"
"Oh, calm down, Vegeta! It's not like they just up and walked away. Once we clean up this mess, I'm sure we'll find them."
"Um... Bulma? Vegeta?"
"Not now, Goku. We're a little busy."
"This is just a stupid plot to get us to help you clean, isn't it!"
"It is not!"
"You're the one who asked us to help you find the capsules! I would think you'd be a little more grateful!"
"Grateful for what?! You haven't done anything but tell us to pick up dirty laundry!"
"That's not true! I've been searching all the pockets in case Trunks left them there."
"And why would Trunks have left the capsules in Radditz's pockets?"
"Well, maybe he gave them to Radditz and Radditz left them in his pocket. Either way, we still need to search all the pockets, just in case."
"Ano... Bulma... about those pockets..."
"Goku, put that laundry on top of the bed, would you?"
"Thanks, Son-kun! Vegeta, do you think you could crawl under the bed and shove everything that's underneath out here so I can look through it?"
"Why don't you do it yourself?"
"Because you're smaller than me, and I'm a girl. I don't want to get dust bunnies in my hair!"
"What are 'dust bunnies'?"
"They're vicious little monsters that like to eat the fingers and toes of beautiful girls like me. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you?"
"I'll do it, Bulma."
"Oh, would you, Goku? You're the best! Unlike some people I know..."
"Hmph. Just because I can see right through you..."
"Here you go. That's all the stuff under Radditz's bed. But there's something I think you should-"
"EEEEWWWW!!! Radditz, you stupid pincushion, haven't you ever heard of putting your dirty underwear in the laundry hamper?!"
"...you do realize Radditz isn't here, don't you?"
"Of course I know that! It's a good thing, too, or, Saiyan or no Saiyan, I'd whack him so hard he wouldn't need to use the dragonballs to get to the future!"
"Bulma, about the future, I think Trunks-"
"Goku, do you need to go to the bathroom?"
"Huh? No. Why do you ask?"
"Well, the way you keep fidgeting..."
"Oh, no, that's just 'cause there's something I really need to-"
"If you need to go to the bathroom, Goku, just go. We don't need your help that badly."
"No, Bulma, that's not why I'm-"
"For Kami's sake, he's seven years old! He doesn't need you to tell him when to go to the bathroom!"
"I don't need to go to the bathroom! I'm just tryin' to say something!"
"Oh. Well, what is it?"
"When we were cleaning the house yesterday, I saw Trunks put some capsules in his pocket."
"Great! All we have to do is search Trunks's laundry, then!"
"Um... not exactly... y'see... he was wearing those pants when he went to the future with 'tousan..."
The world swirled in the aftermath of the wish as decades passed by in the blink of an eye. Then, suddenly, it stopped, and Bardock found himself looking around at the subtly changed world around them. The capsule house was gone, as was any trace that it had ever been there. Most of the trees that he could remember being in the immediate area were still there, but they had grown, and there were trees in places that there hadn't been any before. The underbrush appeared much as it had in the past, and yet it too had changed. So had the weather. Before the wish had been made, it had felt like early spring to Bardock, but now the sun beat down on his head and a warm breeze teased his hair. It's probably summer, then, his mind noted absently. And another stray thought, I wonder how hot it gets on this planet... The biggest change, though, was the empty spot where his son had been standing. Goku...
"What do we do now, Trunks?" The question came from his grandson, Goten, who resembled Goku so much that it hurt to look at him. Instead, Bardock turned to Trunks to see what his answer would be.
"I..." Trunks squirmed uncomfortably. The answer was obvious, really, but considering the consequences that would undoubtedly accompany it, it was no wonder the boy was hesitant to say it. Trunks looked up at Bardock, his blue eyes pleading with the older man to take this responsibility off his shoulders.
"Now we go home, Goten," he stated simply. Home... This world was not his home. His home didn't exist in this timeline, shattered into a thousand pieces by a blast of pure spite. There had been no time traveling Super Saiyan here to save his world and his people from destruction. Maybe someday in the future he would be able to call the Earth his "home", but not now. There was a saying, though he couldn't remember where he'd heard it, that "home is where the heart is". If that was the case, then his heart and his home lay in the past with a little boy that, in all likelihood, he would never see again.
Instead he would meet a grown man. A man who had never eaten slightly charred fish courtesy of his father's poor cooking skills, who'd learned how to fly from someone else, and who had never come to him in the night seeking comfort and reassurance. A man with no memory of him whatsoever.
With Trunks leading the way back to Capsule Corporation, the four Saiyans flew through the air at a steady pace, though none of them was particularly eager to get to their destination. As the first sight of windows glinting in the sunlight came into view - the first of what would be several cities they would pass over this day - a bitter smile made its way onto Bardock's face.
Despite Goku's revelation, the three kids had continued to search the house from top to bottom, hoping that maybe he'd been wrong. They'd searched everywhere the capsules could be and many places they couldn't be, but to no avail. It had taken them three days to go through every room in the house thoroughly, and in the end they had had no choice but to conclude that Goku was right. Trunks had accidentally taken to the future Vegeta's only means of space travel.
"I'm stuck here..." Vegeta sighed and pulled his knees up to his chest so he could rest his chin on them and stare blankly at the wall. Sitting next to him on the bed that had once belonged to Bardock was Goku, his legs dangling idly over the edge of the bed. Both boys had been sitting there in silence for several minutes, trying to digest this unexpected turn of events. Somewhere in another room the faint sound of Bulma's voice drifted to their ears as the blue haired girl tried to make arrangements for a rather hefty order of take-out. Of the three of them, Goku was the best cook... not that that was saying much. Bulma had quickly decided that it was in her - pardon, their - best interests to have someone else do the cooking. Today they were having Chinese.
"I'm sorry..." Goku mumbled, though in truth he was not. Oh, it wasn't that he took any delight in Vegeta's predicament, and he really did feel bad for him, but if there wasn't any way for Vegeta to go back home, then that meant that he wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. Goku didn't think he would have liked it very much if he had lost all of his new friends in a single day.
"If I had a scouter, I could use it to send a signal back to Vegeta-sei," the young prince continued dully. "But we couldn't find any of those, either. And according to that Bulma girl, none of the technology on this planet is advanced enough to reach that far. And space ships?" He gave a short, bitter laugh. "At the speed Earth space ships fly, I'd be an old man by the time I got back home!" He was exaggerating a little bit, but Goku didn't feel like calling him on it. The point was still the same.
In an effort to cheer his friend up, Goku scooted over to Vegeta's side and put a hand on his shoulder, just as he imagined his father would have done. "Bulma's really smart," he said positively. "If she starts working on it now, I bet she can find a way to get you home in no time. Besides, even if she can't, the dragonballs will be back in a year. We could always wish you back to your home." Of course, there was always the possibility that after living on Earth for a year, Vegeta wouldn't want to go home... not that Goku would mind...
"Yeah... I guess there's that..." the older boy sighed, looking only slightly mollified. "But that's still a year of being stuck here with nothing to do and nowhere to go..."
"Don't say that, Vegeta!" Goku cried, jumping to his feet. With a grin on his face, he started hopping up and down on the bed. "There's lots to do here on Earth! We can travel around the world and find strong people to fight and learn new techniques from, or hunt for pirate treasure, or just look at everything there is t'see! I'm sure there's lots of things on Earth you've never seen before. C'mon, Vegeta, it'll be like an adventure!"
Apparently he must have said something right, because as Vegeta looked up at his bouncing companion, the gloominess in his eyes seemed to dissipate a little. "An adventure?" he echoed, his voice an odd mixture of emotions that Goku couldn't begin to sort out even if he'd wanted to.
Goku stopped bouncing, though the grin never left his face. "Yeah! That's what I was doing before you an' tousan an' Goten an' Trunks an' Radditz showed up. Now that they're gone-" The grin flickered slightly, then returned in full force. "-I'm gonna go back to travelin' and training." Holding out his hand in Vegeta's direction, he smiled at the other boy hopefully. "Do you wanna come with me?"
Do you wanna come with me?
Vegeta? Do you wanna spar?
I bet you're really strong!
I want to fight the strongest fighters there are so I can become as strong as them!
Oniichan said I'm learning really fast! He says I need to work on my mouth blast, though. It keeps coming out of my nose.
If the Earth needs me to stay...
I'm gonna miss you...
Do you wanna come with me?
Vegeta hesitated, searching Goku's eyes for a moment, then slowly smiled and reached up to accept the offered hand. "Sure."
The more observant of you may have noted that Bardock's vision of the making of the wish and the way the scene actually played out, although very similar, were not identical. Careless mistake? Nope. I did it on purpose. A subtle way to point out something that I'm sure a lot of you are wondering: Were Bardock's two visions of the future the only possibilities? The mere fact that the final scene of the previous chapter deviated from his vision should tell you the answer to that question. Rarely in real life do people see all of the possibilities. Solutions to a problem that seem obvious to some are often lost in the heat of the moment, and people make mistakes when put under pressure. The future is far too unstable for even a seer such as Bardock to be able to predict accurately. Besides, Bardock's rather new to the whole seer business, so he doesn't know the limitations of his gift/curse yet.
So why didn't you let Bardock and/or Radditz stay in the past, or let Goku go to the future? For one thing, the whole purpose of this story was to get Bardock to the future, so obviously I'm not going to leave him in the past. Radditz was just an extra bonus, something that happened because, logically, by using the reasons I used to force Bardock into the future, Radditz, too, would be forced to go. Goku had to stay because, to be honest, I didn't want him in the next story. Too many Goku's spoil the soup (or, in their case, eat it all before anyone else gets some). Believe it or not, Goku's a difficult character to write (especially when you're writing him from his point of view), and two of him is more than I want to handle. And, as I explained in the previous chapter, he's needed in his timeline. I know that many of you were hoping for a "happily ever after", but that's another thing that doesn't always happen in real life. Real life is full of unfinished stories, unresolved relationships, unsaid goodbyes, unspoken feelings, and so many other regrettable things. Happy endings do happen, but not as often as we would like, and not always in the way we want them (see the above chapter). This story was not designed with a happy ending in mind. Fortunately for the readers, though, it at least had closure and resolution, two key elements needed for a feeling of satisfaction, though not necessarily happiness. I hope you all were satisfied with the way things worked out.
Why didn't you have the characters use the wish to wish away the microchips? Surely Goten and Trunks wouldn't be so selfish that they wouldn't be willing to stick around until one set of dragonballs or another was available again. ... Shut up, you. But seriously, people make mistakes when they have to decide things too quickly. Nobody thought about that possibility until it was too late (if they even thought of it at all). Hindsight is 20/20, and readers always see better than the characters do. And, no, I didn't just say this to fill plot holes. I really did consider this problem when I was writing those chapters, then decided to allow the characters to miss this possibility. It makes them more "human". I also have another reason for letting the characters miss this solution, but it has to do with the sequel, and I hesitate to say anything that might spoil the story. Not only that, but I might change my mind about it, so I don't want to be tied down by explaining it now.
Wasn't Goku planning on getting Vegeta wished to the future? Yes, he was... but that's another thing that slipped his mind in the rush of things. Besides, he thought that idea up when he thought he was going to go to the future, too. Maybe deep down in his heart, Goku deliberately forgot to mention this to his father or Vegeta because he didn't want to be the only one left behind. Even if this is the case, it probably wasn't a conscious decision. Goku just doesn't do things like that on purpose. And since Bardock didn't know about the plan in the first place, he couldn't very well add Vegeta to the wish - especially not after spending all that time convincing Vegeta to go back to Vegeta-sei and be king!
Did you forget that you can send the dragon back without having to use the wish right away? No. Goten and Trunks are the ones who forgot. They're only kids, after all. And nobody else even knew about that little detail. Besides, the way Shenlon was breathing down their necks, he certainly wasn't giving anyone the impression that they didn't have to make the wish now.
What about the people in the future? What have they been doing all this time? Why haven't they found some way to rescue Goten and Trunks? Um... hello? We're dealing with time travel, people. And not just any time travel, but time travel via a wish made with the dragonballs. The wish was granted in such a way that almost no time at all had passed since Trunks wished himself to the past in pursuit of Goten. The people in the future simply didn't have the time to find a way to rescue them before they came back. Besides, this wasn't their story. It wasn't even really Goten and Trunks's story. This was Bardock's story. Only the people and events that directly influenced him went into this fic, and once Goten and Trunks left, the people in the future didn't qualify anymore. They'll just have to wait until the next story.
What was the deal with the dual visions? As Bardock guessed, his ability to see the future of his timeline got screwed up when a second timeline got involved, a second timeline that, if he went to it, would then become his timeline. The gift/curse couldn't decipher which future was his future, so it showed him both. Also, as I explained earlier, the future is not set in stone. What Bardock sees is probably the most likely future, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. There is always more than one possibility.
Did Vegeta become a Super Saiyan? No. Did he come close? Yes. But he didn't actually make the transition, and neither he nor Bardock nor anyone else noticed his almost-transformation. In my mind, Vegeta isn't strong enough yet to handle the Super Saiyan transformation. And since I've taken great pains to avoid telling people strength in terms of numbers, none of you can argue otherwise. (grin)
So who's stronger, really? Bardock or Vegeta? At first, Bardock most definitely is, not only in terms of strength, but also training and experience. Towards the end of this story, Vegeta comes close to Bardock's strength, but he's still a little bit weaker, which is only natural, given the huge age gap between the two. I firmly refuse to believe that Vegeta was stronger at birth than every single Saiyan (except his father, of course) just because he's the son of the (at the time) strongest Saiyan and is descended from the Legendary Super Saiyan. Of course, during the one moment when he almost became a Super Saiyan, he was stronger than Bardock.
Did you just make Vegeta schizophrenic? No! ...although I have to admit, I did toy with the idea a little... just like I toyed with the idea of making Goku go permanently blind, but never actually did it. No, Vegeta's just a stressed little kid, and if you really want to pin a psychological term on him for what he's going through, it's most likely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nothing so serious as multiple personalities or paranoid delusions or whatever else you (or Bardock) thought I might have done to him. After all, the poor kid lost his father not all that long ago, and as rocky as the relationship between him and King Vegeta no doubt was, King Vegeta was still his father.
Wait, Vegeta's dad died? When was that? Reference to an episode of Dragonball Z that took place sometime in either the Namek Saga or the Frieza Saga. King Vegeta defied Frieza and was killed for his trouble. In the past timeline of this story, King Vegeta's death happened sometime before this story began. I never really mentioned the fact that King Vegeta died because, frankly, that was a can of worms I didn't want to open. So until close to the end of the fic, I only hinted that it had happened, hinted at the effects it was having on Vegeta, but never directly addressed the issue. Maybe someday I'll write a story about Vegeta's feelings on the matter... Maybe.
Speaking of sequels, are you ever going to write one about the past timeline with Goku, Vegeta, and Bulma? Probably not. However, if someone wants to play in my proverbial sandbox and write such a story themselves, feel free to ask me about it.
Will you write a romance about Bardock and Sereri? No promises. I had originally intended to, but have since realized that I wield romance like a donkey wields a paintbrush (create the obvious metaphors for yourself). I have also since discovered that it's not always wise to bring people back from the dead just because you can or want to. Death is not a boundary to be crossed lightly. Sometimes it's best to let dead characters rest in peace, despite the fact that no one in the DBZ universe seems to want to let anyone stay dead. With one "dead" character (Bardock) already "miraculously" being brought to the present timeline, adding Sereri to the mix would feel very trite. If I ever do bring Sereri into one of my stories, it will either be a story that takes place in the past before she died... or I will have a very, very good reason for bringing her back to life.
Why did you stop there?! I wanted to see everyone's reactions to Bardock and Radditz being alive!! That's what sequels are for. (grin) Seriously, though, that material doesn't fit in with the WFTP story. Wish For The Past is a story about the past. Things that take place in the present timeline have been reserved for the sequel. Good authors need to know how to keep stories separate, otherwise they become one big conglomeration that never ends.
EDIT: February 3, 2008
Where is Seer of Life? See author note at the bottom of the page.
More than two years and nine months after this story first began, it is now finished. But is this the end? No. This is only the beginning. I started this story with the sole intent of setting up for the next story (tentatively titled Seer of Life), the story I really wanted to write. So why didn't I start with that story instead of a prequel that took the better part of three years to write? I had my reasons.
For one thing, while this was not my first foray into the realms of fanfiction, it was my first DBZ fic, and it had been a long time since I'd written anything at all. I was admittedly very rusty, unfamiliar with the characters and universe, and I desperately needed practice before tacklingSeer of Life. Looking back at all the things I've written in Wish For The Past, I find myself cringing at all the glaring errors I made, inconsistencies in character, age, timeline, history, etc., the poor quality of a lot of the writing itself, and so forth. Though I've tried to avoid the worst of the clichés, I've still committed many things that I now find myself regretting. It makes me wonder just why in the world any of you stuck around this long and continued to read my story. In fact, it amazes me that anyone made it past the first chapter! You people must either be nuts, or a lot more forgiving than I deserve.
Another big reason behind writing Wish For The Past first is that I'm a really big fan of believable plot premises. I simply couldn't find a simple, logical way to bring Bardock to the future that didn't stink of deus ex machina. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it literally translates as "god from a machine", in reference to old plays where an actor playing a deity would be suspended in the air by means of ropes, pulleys, etc., i.e. a "machine". Nowadays, it is used to describe "any active agent who appears unexpectedly to solve an insoluble difficulty", as defined by the FFN web dictionary. This poor plot device gets so abused, especially in the form of wishes made with the dragonballs in the DBZ universe, because it's so stinkin' easy. I could have used the dragonballs to get Bardock "accidentally" wished to the future. I could have created a rip in the space-time continuum through means "mysterious and unexplainable" and let Bardock just happen to fall through before Frieza could kill him. I could have gotten a sorcerer to raise him from the dead (never mind how the sorcerer would know who Bardock was, or why on earth he'd want to bring a relatively weak Saiyan - compared to the modern warriors - back to life). There's literally thousands of ways I could have gotten the scenario I wanted, with Bardock alive in the present, post-Buu timeline, but they all shared the same problem of making me gag at the unreality of it all. To put it simply, it was all too convenient. (I know that other writers have employed some of the very methods I just described, and I'm not saying that their stories are cliché or badly written or have too much deus ex machina or whatever. It's just that those particular methods didn't feel right for my story or writing style.)
Unfortunately, I had no solution to the problem. What I wanted to happen just wouldn't happen in reality. So I settled for the next best thing: If I couldn't get Bardock to the future by realistic, non-deus ex machina means, I'd simply have to use one of the aforementioned plot devices, but bring him there in a roundabout fashion so that it didn't just scream "LAZY AUTHOR!!" to any and all who read it. After all, it's not the deus ex machina itself that's evil, it's the author's laziness and lack of planning behind it that makes people want to throw up. However, if you apply a little plot, a little thought, characterization, allowance for time to pass, trials and quests, and so forth, you take the easiness out of the "easy way out", and suddenly the deus ex machina becomes a lot more tolerable.
Thus, Wish For The Past was born. Instead of just wishing Bardock to the future, I tossed Goten into the past, with Trunks soon joining him. Trunks wasn't originally going to be in the story, he just kind of snuck in, but I'm glad that he did. He was a very useful character to have in the story, plus his presence made things a lot more interesting. Together, these two demi-Saiyans had to overcome all sorts of difficulties in their quest to get back to their own timeline. It wasn't even their intention to bring Bardock back with them! Not until the very end, anyway. So when the end finally came and Bardock landed himself in the future, what started out as a simple deus ex machina became a lot more believable. It also turned itself into a monster-sized story, which was not my intention at all.
My problem is that I'm a rather thorough writer. I don't like skipping scenes and events just because I don't want to write them. I hate cheating the reader out of scenes they want or deserve to see just for the sake of my laziness. I hate summarizing conversations by saying "He explained what just happened" unless I've already written those things for the reader to read. I dislike jumping ahead in time by quickly summarizing the past events, unless those events were boring and unnecessary to the plot. Nobody needs or wants to hear about the characters washing their laundry. Nobody wants to read five repeats of something because five characters asked the same question at separate times. Nobody cares to hear about the eight or so hours that pass during each and every night where nothing at all happens. You get the idea. In cases like these, I don't mind so much writing "...later that day..." and leaving the details to the readers' imagination. If I really don't want to write about something, I'll have a plot device come in and save me. Case in point: Bardock's confrontation with Vegeta prior to Pilaf kidnapping them. I'd gotten so sick of wallowing in that emotional morass, I was desperate to escape. So I had Pilaf use The Thing and nip that conversation in the bud. Of course, I paid for it later in the form of spending large sections of the last few chapters devoted to dealing with Bardock and Vegeta's relationship, but it got me out of the immediate problem. I still do a lot of these things from time to time, but not often enough to save a story like this from becoming a 200,000 word novel which I'm sure some of you thought would never end. I can only hope that I didn't bore anyone to death.
One of the biggest challenges in writing this story was the characters' ages. Specifically, I'm referring to Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, and Radditz. These four characters are younger in my story than in any episode of the anime they ever appeared in (not counting scenes where we see Goku as a baby), except for Vegeta. Yes, in one episode of DBZ there's a moment where we get to see Vegeta as a child, but it's too short to get a real feel for his character at that age. Writing characters so that their behavior matches their age, but still keeping them "in character" for their older versions, is very, very difficult. Bulma's eleven, too young to be really interested in boys (a big part of her older character) but just old enough to start looking. Eleven and twelve year old girls (at least the ones I know) seem more infatuated with the idea of dating boys than with the boys themselves. That's how I imagine Bulma's character to be. Radditz was a bit easier, since he wasn't around for very long in the anime. All we got to see of him was his "big bad evil Saiyan" side for the few hours he spent trying to convince Goku to join him, and we don't really know how much of that was a "tough guy" act and how much was the real Radditz. Portraying him as a somewhat rebellious teenager couldn't have been too far off the mark, and it certainly wasn't very hard to do. With Goku and Vegeta, however, I had a problem. Neither of these two characters is very prone to showing their "weaker" emotions, such as pain, grief, sorrow, etc. Simple fact of the matter is that Goku and Vegeta don't cry. You can count the times they've shed tears on one hand and still have fingers left over! However, I was writing them as young children, and children's emotions are much closer to the surface, less easily suppressed. It was very tricky at times balancing their "emotional age" with their "emotional character", one that sometimes left readers (and me) with the feeling that the characters were acting out of character. To a certain extent, this also applied to Bardock, but because of his circumstances, not his age. He's another "tough guy" Saiyan in the Bardock special, but when his whole world got turned upside down and he suddenly got himself landed with playing the role of "father" to a bunch of chibis, it stands to reason that his character would have to change, to adapt to the situation. On the one hand, it feels like I've drastically warped his character... but on the other hand, people do change. It would have been more out of character for him not to change. I have mixed feelings about how everyone turned out, but in the end I don't think I did too bad a job.
But now the story has ended. Which is good, because, as many of you have no doubt noticed, I've been running out of steam. When I first started writing this story, I easily belted out one-two chapters a day. Granted, the quality of those chapters was somewhat lacking, but the energy and motivation to write them was there in full force. Now the quality of the writing has increased dramatically (or so I like to think), but the price for this is that it takes me a lot longer to write. Not only that, I have since started going to college, and that takes up a lot of my time and energy these days. There have been months on end where I simply didn't have the will to type a single word, let alone a whole chapter. It didn't help when I stopped receiving cable TV and had no more access to DB/DBZ other than what episodes I had taped. (I didn't list GT in there because I have never had access to it. Not that I'm missing much, or so I'm told.) I need semi-constant exposure to a universe in order to keep my inspiration and interest in peak operation condition, and reading other people's fanfiction just isn't enough. Besides, all good things must eventually come to an end. Otherwise, they end up being dragged out too long, and it "(feels) all thin, sort of stretched... like butter scraped over too much bread," as Bilbo Baggins put it in The Fellowship of the Ring. The story gets tired, the author gets frustrated, and the readers get bored with it. It's happened to a lot of good book series I've read, where the author didn't know when to quit, and I didn't want that to happen to this story. I'm not certain if I succeeded or not.
Does this mean that I'm going to quit writing DBZ and, like so many other authors, move on to some other fandom? No. At least, not anytime soon. Only two other fandoms have ever drawn my interest enough that I'd be willing to write fanfiction for them, and one of them I refuse to write because it's English-based (as in, not American), and I'd drive myself nuts trying to force my very American writing style to conform to an English universe (which is actually rather ironic, since my first fanfictions were based on an English universe. Yet another reason why my first attempts at fanfiction stank.) The other fandom may very well get a few stories from me, but it's not enough to permanently draw me away from my DBZ fics.
No, what will really happen is that I will continue to be a frustratingly slow-to-update author. With Wish For The Past finished, I will not be charging straight on to write Seer of Life. I will probably take a break, then work on Wild Occurrences, Chibi Vegeta, and/or High School? But I'm an Alien!, not to mention Dark Future, the alternate ending for Wish For The Past. I'd like to cut down on the number of "in progress" stories I have before starting yet another story that I'd be obliged to update every once in a while.
Speaking of Dark Future, when I do write it, I will be posting it as its own story, as I don't know for certain whether I'll be able to maintain a PG13 rating for it. I fully expect it to be dark (obviously), bloody, and violent, though not sexually explicit, and depending on how I write it, it may very well earn an R. I certainly don't want younger readers who read Wish For The Past to be unwittingly exposed to R-rated material.
EDIT: February 3, 2008
In regards to Dark Future, see author note at the bottom of the page.
I would like to thank all of the people who read this story. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of you (neither FFN nor MMO make it easy to tell), and it humbles me that so many people from so many places around the world have willingly opened my story and subjected themselves to hours, days, and sometimes even weeks of reading the seventy chapters I wrote for this fic. In fact, several of you have said that you reread this story! As I said before, you guys must either be certifiably insane or you have the patience of saints, but either way you guys are great.
And then there are the readers who took the time to review. Some of you liked what you read and wrote me notes of praise, encouragement, and admiration. Some of you sent demands for more updates, more speed, more chapter length, more et cetera. Some of you hated me for clichés, out-of-character characters, poor writing, slow updates, deus ex machina, short chapters, my personal beliefs, the lack of romance, the way I poorly handled what little romance there was, and so much more, and you flamed me accordingly. Some of you wrote to me with suggestions for the story, constructive criticism, questions about things I'd written that confused you, or guesses as to what I had planned for the future. For all that (yes, all of it) I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. In addition to teaching me patience, I credit reader feedback with making me a better writer and story-teller, and I could not have gotten this far without all the input I received from you guys. Without the reviews you sent me, there is no doubt in my mind that this story would have either ended up in the desolate wasteland of forever-unfinished stories, or it would have ended early and would have had a really, really crappy ending. You guys are amazing. I hope you continue to do for others what you have done for me.
Last, but not least, I want to thank my friends, family, and beta readers. You helped me beat writer's block, supported me in times of depression, encouraged me during bouts of hatred for my own story, guided me in picking the best options for how to write this fic, helped me catch plot holes, spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, poor word choices, and so much more. It is because of you that this story is as good as it is. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It's been a lot of fun writing this fic, but I can't say I'm sorry to see it end. I've spent a lot of time on this story, so it's rather nice to see it finally reach completion. Besides, where one story stops, another begins, so this isn't really "the end". Likewise, this isn't really "goodbye", but more of a " 'til we meet again". In the mean time, feel free to check out my other stories! (Cue shameless plugs.)
In the universe of Wish For The Past:
Tails Times Two
A Father's Pride
High School? But I'm an Alien!
Goteneo and Truliet
Goku Jr.'s Headband
EDIT: February 3, 2008
Despite what I said in the latter half of this chapter, it is very unlikely that I will ever get around to writing Seer of Life or Dark Future. I had many good intentions regarding those stories, as well as to polish up this story and remove the (admittedly many) rough edges in the earlier chapters, but as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry."
Thanks again for reading.