Ch.3 - An Unknown Beast, Piano-playing Anteaters, and Bloody Massacres
Night briskly settled in Wonderland. As it did, the once relatively quiet forest sprung to life with a rowdy chorus of chirping crickets and singing birds. A small, wooden cuckoo bird flew out of the sky and landed on a nearby tree branch. It preened its hard feathers, which were numerous shavings of wood, and puffed its body up in a showy display. "Kuk-kuuu-kuru-kuu-kuk-ooo!" it cried out. Its call was barely audible over the other sounds of the woods. Not one to be easily discouraged, the cuckoo took a deeper breath than it did before and let loose a very loud call, loud enough to be heard over everyone else and silent them in surprise.
Directly underneath the branch where the cuckoo sat, a giant anteater awoke from its nap. It grimaced in pain and quickly shielded its ears from the bird's intolerable noise."SHADDAP!" it called up to the wooden bird. "It's not spring yet, you imbecile!"
The anteater flicked its tongue in agitation. The cuckoo quickly hushed up upon hearing the anteater's yell. It sat still in silence for a few seconds. Then, it reached out of a hidden back pocket and pulled out a large book with a title reading "The Wonder of Wonderland's Seasons for the Misinformed" on the cover. The bird scrutinized over the text for a brief moment, occasionally scratching its chin and nodding its head as though digesting a bit of information from the book. When it had finished looking up whatever it was, the cuckoo returned the book to its back pocket. The anteater, having watched the cuckoo, only looked on in confusion and wondered what the wooden avian was up to. It shook its head and having lost interest, closed its eyes to try and get back to its nap. The anteater had only momentarily shut its eyes before a new, more annoying noise, was loudly bellowed out from the branch above.
"FIIIIIIIIIIGAROOOOOOOOOO! FIGARO FIGARO FIGAROOOOOOOO!"
A small murmur began to stir amongst the trees of the forest. Slowly, it began to grow louder, and what was one murmur soon turned into many.
"Hey! Be quiet!"
"Yeah! What he said!"
"I love the Barber of Seville!"
"There's a barber here?"
"I need my hair cut!"
"You don't have hair!"
The giant anteater looked on in utter amazement at how the crowd of different Wonderland birds were digressing more and more in their conversations and confusing the heck out of one another.
By now, the chatter of everyone once again overtook the cuckoo's out-of-tune singing. The cuckoo now had enough of being overshadowed and of having had his talents perpetually ignored. He quickly whipped out a bright white, poofy, powdered wig from his pocket. Brushing off some dust that had collected on it, he put the wig on his head and adjusted it so it would not appear crooked. "Mmmhmm," the cuckoo held up a mirror as he gazed adorningly at his reflection. Satisfied, he put the mirror away and hopped down to a branch not too far below. The cuckoo scurried over to a hole in the trunk of the tree, fumbled around inside for a bit, and then pulled out a large, black, grand piano. He took a seat on the piano's bench, cracked his knuckles (or feathers in this case), and began playing Mozart's Turkish March.
The sweet sound of the keys of the piano joined together in the air and struck all who heard in awe, robbing the listeners of their voices. Everyone turned to the direction of the music and became swept by its beauty. The anteater's tongue flickered as he continued to watch the wooden cuckoo play. He turned and peered around the tops of the trees, studying the reactions of the other listeners. He let loose a long sigh and closed his eyes. He then dug his long front claws into the bark of the tree the cuckoo was in and began the long journey up.
When the anteater finally reached the cuckoo bird's branch, the musical avian had finished playing his tune and had stood up. He gave a series of bows to a cheering crowd and a booming thunder of claps. The anteater carefully lumbered over to the piano and cleared its throat. The cuckoo stopped bowing and turned towards the opposite party. The anteater motioned with a quick nod towards the direction of the piano and awaited the bird's response. The cuckoo looked toward his grand instrument, and then gave an approving smile in reply to the anteater. The anteater smiled back (or at least, smiled the best an anteater could) and took a seat by the piano. It, too, cracked its knuckles. Raising its paws in the air, long claws dangling loosely, they struck the ivory white keys of the piano with sheer grace as the anteater begun to play Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 No. 4 in A-flat major. Once more, the sound of beautiful music filled the air and lifted the spirits of all who heard.
When the anteater finished playing, he humbly stood up and pushed in the piano bench. He turned to the cuckoo bird, whose jaw was wide open in amazement. Both grinned at one another in mutual respect.
No longer was there simply an audience amongst the trees. They were soon joined by an increasing number of spectators on the ground, drawn in by the magnificent playing of both animals. A wild hoot of cheer erupted from far and wide, whistles and clapping demanding an encore from both performers. The shouts of hurrahs soon turned into cries of shock and screams of fright as a jagged rock struck the cuckoo in the head, knocking it off balance, and a large chunk of wood flew from below and sent the anteater flying high into the air like a fire cracker.
"Stupid animals," Vegeta groaned as he tossed in his makeshift bed of dead fallen leaves. He rolled to the opposite side and attempted once again to fall back asleep. He had tried for a long while to fall asleep for most of the night. His prior meal before settling in bed - a mash of water from a nearby stream, some dried moss, burnt cat, and unevenly chopped, purple and green mushrooms (Kami knows whether they were poisonous or not; Vegeta's sheer hunger overcame his ability to make sound judgments) - had given Vegeta a terrible stomach ache. When he had finally managed to doze off, it was rudefully cut short by a loud noise of random applause. To say the saiyan prince was extremely pissed would be a severely gross understatement. There is probably not a single word in the English language that would accurately describe Vegeta's rage.
Distant cries of despair and distress filled Vegeta's ears, including one female cry of "Oh Winston! He was so young!". Vegeta grinded he teeth in agitation. He thought his act of chucking a few items scattered about the dirt and hitting the daylights out of some of the noisy animals had sent them a message to be quiet, but it appeared to not work. Being a saiyan, only one solution to silence the critters once and for all came to his simple mind. It wasn't going to be easy and it certainly wasn't going to be pretty in the least bit, but if it was what needed to be done to get some peace and quiet, then by Job, Vegeta was going to see to it that the dark deed was swiftly carried out.
The following morning, a large white tourist bus came upon the site where the cuckoo, the anteater, and others were the night before. The driver of the bus, a leopard gecko dressed in a navy uniform and wearing a matching fedora hat, slowly brought the large vehicle to a halt. He popped his small head out of the driver side window and blinked a few times. A few trees around the area were toppled over. Several others had numerous broken tree limbs but still stood.
This wasn't what shocked the gecko, though. It was the numerous dead bodies (some so mangled it was hard to identify what they were) and splatter of blood everywhere that made the reptile's stomach twist in a pretzel knot.
A small yellow canary sporting a green Hawaiian shirt hopped out of the bus and walked up to the driver, whose left eye was currently twitching involuntarily. "Hmm?" the little bird looked at the driver, followed his gaze, and took in the scene. He hopped over to what appeared to be a wooden bird that was cracked, splintered, and broken in pieces lying on the ground. "Hey hun!" the canary called back towards the bus, "Quick! Grab the cam! I want to get a shot of this!" Another small yellow canary hopped off the bus towards the first canary. She fiddled with her purse and pulled out an antique-looking camera. The male canary took the camera from his partner and began preparing to take a shot. "My," he awed at the carnage,"Wonderland's nature sure is interesting!"
Yes my friends, the natural beauty and life of Wonderland is indeed interesting and whimsical. However, please bear in mind that foreign invaders introduced into Wonderland's ecosystem can have damaging effects on the native species. Some of these effects can be, unfortunately, irreversible.
After the tragic massacre on innocent victims mentioned above, which included a number of innocent women and children, some being babies, the Preservation Society of Wonderland has decided to launch an indefinite ban on all saiyans. However, this act - and more like it - will not have taken place until a few years after the end of this tale. Basically, what this means is that Vegeta is still free to roam all of Wonderland. Because really... if he was banned from Wonderland right now, at this very moment, in this point of time, well... there wouldn't be much of a story to tell!
"Ugh, no sleep," Vegeta whined as he dragged his feet. His gait was unsteady and he had nearly fallen over a few times due to disorientation related to lack of sleep. "But that blood bath was refreshing, I must admit." He rubbed his eyes with his arm. Refreshing or not, he had obliterated his sleeping spot and was currently searching for a new one. So far, the potential spots he saw were full of sharp, thorny bushes or familiar looking three-leafed plants. At least Vegeta had some sense to avoid the latter. He learned a hard lesson after a run in with similar plants earlier.
The saiyan opened his mouth wide and let out a long yawn.
The night was over with and morning was already taking over. The sun was still hanging low over the horizon, but was gradually crawling up into the sky. Vegeta squinted his eyes while observing the morning sun. Did night really come to an end so soon? He couldn't help but wonder. Sure sure... he did brutally slay a large number of innocent animals which took an extra bit of extra time to do, but they had it coming! Sleep is still vitally important, just like fighting is to a saiyan (the latter being a wee bit more important, just so you know)! To take that away only meant death, an excruciatingly painful one!
(That's it,) Vegeta thought as he slumped over a nearby tree and leaned against its trunk. His eye lids began to droop half closed. (I don't care if it's a pit full of poison sumac or whatever that crap is called! I just need...some...sl-) Vegeta's thought cut off short as he fell face forward and plopped with a loud thud onto the ground. His mouth hung open as he loudly snored. A stream of saliva seeped out of the saiyan prince's mouth and started to pool together. Sleep forcefully took over Vegeta, who gladly welcomed it.
"Necklace? That new one you mentioned you bought from that marketplace?" Gohan chatted into his cell while pacing about in the grassland. He gazed up into the sky and watched a couple of small white clouds float by as he listened to the other party's response.
"Videl, relax. It'll look nice on you. I'm certain of it. No...I'm not just saying that. Huh? What do you mean?"
A distant chirp called out. Quickly coming in closer to Gohan's spot, a small, dark colored bird flew overhead and landed in a nearby nest. It held in its beak a large wiggling worm. A pair of small, fuzzy heads popped out of the nest and began crying loudly to be fed. Gohan walked closer to the nest and watched the small family.
"I always agree with you? Why do you say that?"
The larger bird, apparently one of the parents, lowered its beak that held the worm to its hungry, chirping brood. The chick siblings lept up from their spot and each clamped down on a section of the struggling worm. The parent bird promptly released the meal and a tug of war soon began between the chicks. Gohan peered into the branches of the tree the bird family was in and watched the unfolding scene. He couldn't help but smile, watching as the siblings were fighting with one another.
"Videl, just go ahead and wear the necklace. You didn't buy it to sit forever in a jewelry box, did you? If it's that big of a deal," Gohan turned around from the tree, ready to leave, "wear one of your old necklaces."
Suddenly, the person on the other end of Gohan's phone shrieked, her voice loudly erupting from the speakers and right into Gohan's ear. The young half-breed jumped back in surprise. His poor ear was ringing nonstop.
Once the voice was done with her ranting, a loud click echoed, ending the call. Gohan rubbed his affected ear tenderly, trying to ease the ache.
(What was that about? Girls...) Gohan thought. He shrugged off the thought. He didn't understand why Videl was fussing over something as mediocre as a necklace. After all, they had only planned to go on a stroll through a park near her place. Supposedly, Videl had heard some sort of event for couples was taking place there and she thought it'd be ideal for her and Gohan to attend. Besides, she told him, they haven't had time to enjoy one another's company for a good while due to some university entrance exams on both her and his part.
Anyhow, the plan for later that evening was for her to meet up at his folk's place, enjoy dinner together, and sleep the night over. Then the following day, both Gohan and she would proceed with their park trip.
At the moment however, Gohan still hadn't come across the main course of the night's meal.
"I don't think I'm going to find anything at this rate," Gohan sighed to himself. He then took off into the air to get a better view. "I'm pretty much getting to the point of taking the next moving creature I see!" He began to scan the entire area, slowly flying forward as he did so as to not miss anything. Gohan was so acute in his search that he failed to notice a large flock of birds coming from his left. Bigger and bigger the flock grew as they drew closer, their shapes becoming more distinct as the distance between them and Gohan decreased. They were geese...a very large flock as a matter of fact. Their raucous calls boomed all around, and it was anyone's guess why Gohan couldn't hear them. It was sadly at the last moment Gohan turned toward the birds' direction and realized they were heading right into him, but it was a moment too late as water fowl after water fowl slammed into the young half-breed saiyan.
Gohan yelped in surprise as bird after bird clumsily crashed into him. Both he and the birds which struck him clumsily bobbed in the air as each tried to regain their bearings. "Argh! Come on, you dumb birds! Move!" Gohan impatiently yelled out. He crossed his arms over his face and dashed off to the side and away from the flock. The birds continued to move forward, rather in a hurry. A few geese lagged behind. They called out distressingly and struggled fiercely to catch up to the group. Gohan let his arms down and watched confusingly as the geese continued to fly away. "What on earth was that all about?" he asked aloud. He brushed a few tattered brown feathers off of his head and clothes. The group of geese seemingly flew out of nowhere and crashed into him! As Gohan continued to watch the birds shrink away in the distance, he couldn't help but take notice how fast they were flying. Not only that, but their cries sounded more urgent. It was as though something had spooked them and they were trying hard to get as far away as possible. Strange though...he didn't feel any maleficent force anywhere within the vicinity. It was probably some large predator that had sets its eyes on the geese for its dinner and as a result, had the birds scrambling in flight. Certainly, it was nothing he couldn't handle in case the beast decided to grace him with its presence.
At that moment, it decided to make itself known to Gohan.
Gohan was blindingly caught off guard as a large shadow swooped over him, knocking him hard in the stomach. He had no time to react or even comprehend the situation as he was sent flying with blazing speed deep down into the earth, a huge crater forming from his impact. Numerous chunks of rock and debris shot up from the collision and created a hazy, dusty view all around. Gohan winced and coughed up bits of blood as his fighting senses finally kicked in. With haste, he shot out of the large crater back into the air. Right away, Gohan attempted to sense for a ki.
None could be felt.
(Where are you?) Gohan urgently thought. He tried to focus more, feeling for even the slightest wavering presence of power, but he couldn't feel anything. Panic rose in the pit of his being, but he dismissed it immediately. Was it...? No...it couldn't be a...an android? But if so, then how? Why? Gohan didn't have enough time to get his thoughts in order as once more, his attacker honed in on him-this time, from below. A long, tail-like appendage whipped back and suddenly lashed out, striking Gohan hard and sending him spiraling in an odd cartwheel high into the sky. Immediately, he thrusted his arms out to steady himself. "There!" Gohan roared as he formed a huge, light blue ball of ki in each hand. With his arms straight forward, he shot a tremendous energy blast off in his foe's assumed direction. Raven hair flickered colors momentarily and then bursted into a wild bright yellow the instant the energy beams shot from the half-saiyan's hands. At the same time, a wild golden aura danced furiously around Gohan, being slightly pushed back from the blast.
The raging energy beam sprang forth at incredible speed and chased after its target. Gohan caught site of a dark shape of the enemy for a split second, but not long enough to catch any fine details. The enemy made a rapid launch up higher in the air to dodge the attack, but it proved to be in vain. The moment the ki struck, a fireball-like eruption broke out in a black ball of cloud. A sharp and piercing hissing sound echoed from the explosion but became lost in the deafening, crackling noise of the blast.
Down below, strong gusts of wind emitted from the explosion swept the land, quickly knocking trees over like stacks of dominoes and sending them rolling along the ground like giant tufts of tumble weeds. The bird family Gohan had been gazing at priorly was suddenly swept up in the savage currents. Their nest, which had hours upon hours of work spent on it to finish, instantly crumbled apart like fine dust. All of the birds screeched out in sheer panic as they helplessly flapped their tiny wings, a fruitless attempt against the undominantable power of the winds. One of the tiny chicks cried out for help as it floundered helpless about. It tried steering itself with its fuzzy arms, but it lacked the adult feathers. Helplessly, it tumbled over and over before coming to a sudden rest in the nook of a rock that had gotten caught in a small pile of broken trees. The wind continued to blow. As it did, it pinned the tiny bird hard against the rock, rendering it unable to move. Fortunately, one of its parents caught side of its child in the predicament. Chirping frantically out to it as though to reassure the youngster, the adult attempted to guide itself over to the rock where the chick was pinned against. The adult was somewhat relieved its offspring was behind it rather than in front of it, for there would had been no way to fly against the wind to save it. The adult wiggled from the twigs it had gotten trapped in and broke free of its grasp, now using its full effort to guide itself to the crying chick. A rock flying out of nowhere almost knocked the adult bird off course but thankfully, the parent bird was able to dodge it in the nick of time. Finally reaching the rock where its chick was helplessly pressed against, the parent nudged its body over and shielded its child with both wings outstretched. The chick lovingly nuzzled its tiny head into its parent's soft feathery chest. Another strong wave of wind suddenly knocked the pair free from the stone nook and out into the open. The chick cried out once more, but its call died down as it felt its body nestled against its parent, who had taken it upon themselves to cradle its brood as the two flew uncontrollable about.
Gohan's eyes remained fixed on the dissipating black explosion cloud. He remained motionless save for movements of his chest moving with each breath. When the black cloud cleared up, no sight of any figure whatsoever was visible. Either it had been vaporized in the blast or had somehow dodged the attack, Gohan wasn't sure. He had remained keenly aware for any movements of evasion from the opposite party, but had not seen any. Still, he didn't let his guard down. He dashed over to the spot the blast had occurred and quickly scanned the area, both land and ground. No bits of clothing, singed hair, flesh...there was nothing indicating that an individual had been caught in his ki blast. It appeared as if Gohan was simply fighting with a ghost. But he had seen something, a faint shape! Not only that, he heard something, too! He was sure of it. It was an unearthly scream...definitely not human. He was sure his attack struck something. But where was the evidence of it? Was his mind playing tricks on him? No...he trusted his judgment to be sharp.
An unfamiliar voice urgently shouted in Gohan's head. Before he knew it, his body responded to the command without hesitation. Right above him, inches away, the sickening sound of jaws snapping shut rung in Gohan's ears. He looked up to the source of the noise to see a long, wide muzzle bare an unnerving showcase of pointed teeth. Upper lips curled back to reveal the teeth even more. "What the-?" Gohan mouthed. But before he could find the words to finish the end of his question, a clawed paw swiped him square in the chest, knocking the wind and sense out of him.
And all went blank for the young fighter.
To be continued!
Author's note: Don't worry about the birdies. They'll be okay! I'm actually going to have them make reappearance later on in the story. As for Gohan, well...I can't say entirely. The only thing I'll mention is he develops an odd fear of candy canes (or anything thing candy cane colored). Why you might ask? Oh, there's a reason why! I'm just not telling! Next chapter though will focus mainly on Veggie...or at least I hope to, seeing as my ideas for this story are ever shifting. I have the ending in mind but how to get there...that all depends on the scenes I come up with! I have a mountain of scene ideas in my head but they need to be stitched together coherently. Oh yeah, before I forget, I decided to drop the word "saiyajin" and go with the more familiar one, "saiyan". I think it'll be a lot better for the readers.
Anyway, next chapter will be longer, that's a promise