The vast emptiness of Space would be disconcerting to some. It was a place where each asteroid was millions of miles apart and even the closest looking star could take several lifetimes to reach. For some, it was majestic, representing the infinite grandeur, an ever expanding existence. For others it was a living embodiment of solitude and immeasurable isolation, spanning millions of miles and billions of years in every direction. But everyone had a home in space, whether it is a small asteroid floating in the gravitational pull of a moon or a planet rich with life. For Son Goku, it was the latter.
His home was Earth. It was not a large planet, not compared to many he had been to in his lifetime. But it was still home and it held a beauty that made other, larger worlds pale in comparison. It was an amalgam of colors, green and blue and yellow; the hues of the trees, the rivers and the sun reflecting off the surface of its many immense oceans and seas.
Son Goku took in the sight of his home, the place where all of his most important and fondest memories were made. The world he had died to defend, come back to life to protect and died again to preserve. He had departed almost a century ago, on the back of the mighty dragon, Shenron. Now, he had come again to see it.
Black eyes scanned the landscape, so unchanged despite his many years of absence. It was a testament to his insignificance, at how unimportant he was in the reality of things. But this didn't bother him. Instead, it filled Goku with vigor and contentment because despite how everything else could shake and crumble around him, Earth was still the same, wished back with Dragon Balls or not. He flew down towards that bright green grass, feeling the wind blow through the openings of the blue and yellow gi he had never changed. Even the air felt different, lighter and good. With a soft thump, he landed and let himself bask in the sun's rays. It had been too long and though he had trained and trained in so many different worlds, the need to see his home tugged at his soul until it was no longer bearable.
Nearly all his friends were dead, for he no longer felt their Ki. Before, even far away on different planets, he would feel their energy like warm blankets but now he felt their absence.
Even Chichi…my sons… He thought and a sliver of sadness crossed his eyes. Part of them wished he had grown old with them, but he knew that wasn't what life had in store for him. It would be a waste to feel sad when he and his family had experienced an amazing life of adventure and thrills. But Chichi…he wished he had told her he had loved her. It wasn't enough, he knew, but it was the only way he knew how.
But there was a Ki he was familiar with. An image of a young girl with shoulder length black hair and an orange bandana flashed through his mind and his lips curled in a smile. Locking in on the signature, Goku placed two fingers on his forehead and in a flash he was gone.
His feet hit the ground, no longer covered in acres of green grass. Now it was the familiar feel of hard stone and Goku peered over the building he had appeared on. It was a building he was familiar with and the looming statue of his likeness told him that the building was familiar with him too! The old Martial Arts Tournament grounds hadn't changed. He stifled a laugh and jumped down, landing amidst several shocked passersby. He took a few moments to look over the entrance. The doors were new and so where the walls and floor. He grinned sheepishly, scratching his head as he fondly remembered the tournaments he had fought in and how often they had demolished the poor surroundings.
There was a tug on his pants and he looked down to see a young child, a girl, looking up at him like he was the sun. He crouched down, meeting her green eyes with his black ones and smiled widely,"Hi! What can I do for you?"
The girl blushed and looked down, "Um…can, can you sign this?" She produced a small notebook with a pink cat on the front as well as a small pen, perfect for her small hand.
"Um…what?" Goku was confused, staring at the offered pen and paper. Nonetheless, he took them but hesitated to write anything.
"Oh I'm sorry sir, she's not bothering you is she?" A voice came from behind him and he turned to see a young woman and a man, probably her husband, standing beside her with a balloon. "I have to admit, your likeness is quite good. No wonder Stephanie wants an autograph!" The man laughed, patting Stephanie's brown hair.
Ehh? Goku let out a small wavering chuckle, still completely baffled, "Likeness? To whom?"
The parents looked confused for a moment, and the woman shot a glance at the statue, pointing a finely manicured finger at the stone, "Aren't you dressed as him right now? They've hired others before, but none of them looked so much like him. One could almost say you are him!"
The man laughed, "Nonsense Angelica, Son Goku has been gone for a century. To be honest, the story around him is so mythical it's almost uncertain if he ever even existed!"
There was a small whimper beside Goku and he looked at Stephanie, whose eyes were starting to tear up as she looked pleadingly at her father.
"Um-not to say he isn't real! But, more that…uh, his story is so magical it's hard to believe!" The man amended, holding up his hands in a gesture of panic, shooting a pleading look towards his wife, then to Goku.
Goku let out a small laugh, so that's what this was all about! He looked at the girl again, and signed his name on the paper, writing "To Stephanie, from Son Goku," and handing it to her.
She grabbed the notebook and pen, holding it tightly to her breast. "Thank you Mr. Goku!" She smiled brightly at him, wrapping her small arms around his chest and squeezing. A few moments later she let go, grinning and practically bouncing to her parents who took her hand and waved a grateful goodbye at him.
He waved back, almost giggling at the idea that people would be hired to dress as him and parade around, giving autographs. Part of him hoped not many people would recognize him but a glance down at his clothing told him that he was practically screaming who he was. Oh well, he would deal with that as it came. Planning ahead was never his strong suit anyways. Bulma had been around for that particular job, or Vegeta. The names brought a pang of nostalgia and Goku stood there for a moment, going over their faces as he remembered them.
Vegeta's fierce eyes and widow's peak and Bulma's bright, teal hair flitted through his mind and he sighed, looking towards the sky. But even though they were no longer there, their warmth from his memories still shrouded him in the comfortable feeling of contentment.
Suddenly, Pan's Ki fluctuated and Goku remembered why he was here. He followed that Ki signature right through the front wooden doors and past the administration desk. No one stopped him though he was thrown a curious glance or two but they didn't last. They probably assumed he was the newest hire for autographs and that thought made him giggle again. The ring (or square) was almost exactly as he remembered it, all white squares and golden haired announcer screaming frantically into the microphone. But…there was something off about it, though he couldn't say why really. Then suddenly it clicked into place, I've never been part of the audience before! That brought a short burst of laughter from him as he realized that he was seeing the arena from a wholly new perspective. Soon though, his attention was directed onto the scene before him.
There were two young boys on the stage and Goku felt his breath lodge in his throat. If he weren't so sure of his existence right now, he would have doubted that what he was seeing was really true. The two boys were the exact image of him and Vegeta.
The small Vegeta was an almost perfect copy, from the widow's peak down to his posture. The attitude and demeanor were there too as he spouted insults and jibes at his opponent, who in turn looked and acted almost exactly like Goku. He was even wearing the clothing he left Pan, almost 100 years ago before he left. They exchanged heated punches and kicks, much like their great-grandfathers had done years ago.
I wonder if they know that Vegeta and I had done that exact same thing for most of our lives, Goku mused idly. He was completely unsurprised when suddenly in a flash of light, their hair turned golden and their furious fight resumed.
Wow I wonder if Vegeta ever saw his, what is it…his grandson or his great-grandson? I bet he would have been proud, I sure am! They're already Super Saiyans at this age! That's amazing. He smiled widely at them, though he knew they couldn't see him.
"Go Goku Jr! Beat him, yeah!" A familiar voice came amidst the cheers of the onlookers. His superior hearing could pinpoint the source almost instantly and he finally saw her. Pan was still the same Pan, if only aged. She had the same black hair and her Ki fluttered in the air, changing and warping the same way it did when she was a young child. She no longer wore that orange bandanna and instead, she had a yellow hat that complimented her purple glasses. Her fist was in the air as she cheered Goku Jr. on, the baggy lavender jacket that covered her form swaying with her movements. She was still as energetic as ever, age not wilting her in the slightest.
He was glad. It wasn't only the Earth that hadn't changed. Some things always stayed the same. But he couldn't stay. Even though it had been over ninety years, he knew Pan would see him and he couldn't have that. Earth was theirs now. Not his, and so he turned away, burning the image of her smiling face into his memory and walked out the same way he came in. In the distance he heard his name being called but he didn't turn, wanting only a memory of himself to remain with them.
Once he passed the gates, he took one last look at the grounds. He let the smell of the new plastered walls and the polished oak waft over his body, filling it with that sense of familiarity only battle brought him on distant worlds. He took to the air, his muscular body just as home in the air as on the earth. He left before Pan could catch up, a burst of energy carrying him towards the old training grounds.
By the time Pan made her way towards the entrance, he was nothing by a whisper on the wind.
Goku hovered over his old training grounds, slightly unsure of whether he remembered the spot correctly.
I don't remember so many old buildings…or all that technology. On closer inspection, he saw the words: Capsule Corporation engraved onto the largest one there. Ah! Capsule Corp! But they seem to be out of date and I don't feel any energy. No one is here. The architecture was in a horrible state of disrepair, many of them covered in greenery and moss that must have taken years to grow. Old machinery lay by the sides, parts scavenged or totally missing.
He flew down through the windows, surveying the damage. It had been a long time since anyone had been here. Probably thirty or forty years by his estimation.
Oh wow! That looks just like the pod that took me to Namek! He flew closer to the circular pod and it was as he thought. It was an almost exact replica of the pod that he had taken to Namek. It even had the black strip running across the main body with the Capsule Corporation logo. It was also in a sorry state but as Goku brushed a hand across the door, he realized that there was more dust, debris and moss than actual damage. It was funny how even so far ahead in time; some of the technology was not that strange.
He dusted off the spot where the entrance controls should be and he wasn't disappointed. Even the buttons were a similar color to the ones he remembered. Then this one should be…Yes! Open sesame! Awesome.
A soft wooshing sound came and steam poured from the gaps as the door slowly descended, stuttering in places where moss wouldn't let it open. Goku brushed it away, pulling away twining vines and shrubbery and finally the entrance was unblocked. He entered, pursing his lips at the sight. The inside, though cleaner, was still overrun by lichen and various kinds of plants. There was even a bright colored mushroom sitting right atop one of the control panels and despite the growling in his stomach, even he knew not to eat that.
"That reminds me," He mused, tilting his head back, "I haven't eaten in ages! If I remember correctly, there was a muffin button here somewhere. Maybe it still works!" With that thought in mind, he searched the interior, brushing away bits and pieces of metal, pulling out fungus and mushrooms that were in the way.
There! He thought, spotting the familiar panel below the screen. "Muffin here I come!" He wiggled his fingers, a wide smile lighting up his face and a familiar gleam sparking in his eyes. If any of his friends were here they would be laughing at his appetite.
Times a-wasting! He thought and without further ado pressed the button, watching as the room suddenly lit up. Huh? That wasn't supposed to happen and now that he thought of it, "Where is the gap for the muffin?"
Crap, crap, crap! There were loud beeps coming from all the control panels and the screen lit up, bathing the room in a blue glow. There was a sound behind him and Goku turned to see the entrance closing.
"Oh no!" He cried out, rushing towards it but not getting there in time. His hands came up against metal and the small specks of light from the sides faded, sealing him in.
A robotic voice sounded behind him, "Activating Time Warp, 5, 4, 3, 2…1! Time-Warp Initiated, Planet Vegeta."
"Wait what?" He cried out, rushing to the control panel, "No, no, and no! No time warping, stop!" He slammed his fists into the buttons, somehow trying to will it to stop but it was too late. The faint energy of humans all around him was vanishing and an unknown force sent his body slamming his body into the metal floor. Everything around him vibrated and things clattered to the floor.
The sound of beeping intensified until it was as if the sound were coming from inside his head. The force was incredible, keeping Goku pinned the floor. His limbs felt like the heavy weights he used to wear when training with King Kai. It was increasing too, so fast that Goku thought he would fuse with the floor. "Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh!" He closed his eyes, grit his teeth against the pain and tensed his muscles, trying to resist the powerful force.
But then just as it began, it was suddenly gone. Everything was calm again. Cautiously Goku sat up. The incessant beeping had stopped and all was quiet save the flickering on the screen. Rubbing his head, Goku stood up shakily and limped to the control panel.
"Geez, and there's no muffin either." He pouted, patting his clothing down. He turned his attention to the screen and felt his jaw drop at the glowing words: "Planet Vegeta, Age 737."
This was not good. This was not good at all.