World Championships Saga, Part 7: The Family that Trains Together

"Well, are you ready for this?"

"I should be, Gohan, thanks to your training." Videl's face and neck were tense. "I just don't feel... good about it." Gohan could hear the trepidation in her voice.

"What do you mean?"

"I don't think I can talk about it. There's too much on my mind, okay?"

The half-Saiyan nodded as if in understanding, but he hadn't the faintest idea.

The girl thought about her father, who had crafted his entire persona around a lie. Like all falsehoods, that poison had crept into every relationship that mattered to the World Champion. His sickness was the reason she felt so anxious, so tense about stepping into the ring with him. Or was it? Was she carrying a burden of her own creation?

"It's not your fault, Gohan. I'm the one who wanted to train with you — after he explicitly ordered me not to. You didn't even know." Her emotions were beginning to boil over.

"Woah, slow down, Videl. That's no way to talk about yourself; you didn't do anything wrong. When we first met you would've never shown this kind of self-doubt. What's really going on?"

The girl bit her lip in anguish. Yet another lie, and this one was her fault. If only she'd explained everything to him, told him the full truth from the start — about everything.

"I can't talk about this right now, Gohan. Everyone's waiting on me."

A confused and worried Gohan could only watch as his good friend — and perhaps more than that — walked away from him, up the steep climb towards her father. This was a side of Videl Satan he'd never seen before, and it was rocking her ki like a kayak in an ocean storm.

"You can do this, Videl," the half-Saiyan yelled, hoping to be supportive. Then, more softly just to himself, his voice trailed off. "Remember, I believe in you."

"Well what a treat we have for you all now!" the announcer boomed with excitement. "Starting off round two of the 25th World Championships, we have an absolutely incredible matchup! She's been in the spotlight almost her entire life, raised around martial arts and trained growing up by the world's strongest man — who happens to be her own father! We've all been expecting great things from her, and she's come a long way from that little girl that used to stand on the sideline and adorably copy her dad's poses. All that brings us to today, where she's stepping into the ring with the one and only Hercule Satan! Does she have what it takes? If anyone does, folks, why not her? So ladies and gentlemen, get on your feet and make some noise... You know who I'm talking about, daughter of our Champion, it's Videl!"

The chants of "Satan, Satan, Satan" hadn't hit home with her since she was a kid, but especially not today. In fact it would've been easier if she had literally any other family name. She still hadn't actually looked at her father, though he was surely observing her body language as she approached. Maybe he would keep their own personal drama out of it — he was always playing to the crowd, putting on that persona of a man with the perfect life. She acknowledged the crowd with a forced smile and wave, but the observant eye would've noticed her hesitation.

Her father spoke, more slowly than she expected. "So you won against Spopovich in round one. Personally, I've always been of the mindset that you should give your fans a good show. But if I didn't know any better, I would have said you weren't just dragging it out for the sake of the crowd. That fight should have been easy for you!"

The girl bit her lip, remembering her earlier fight. Spopovich was a monster. His endurance alone marked him as plainly superhuman, even if not for the fact that he had been able to fly and fire energy attacks. It had taken all her concentration not to reveal her training with Gohan then and there.

"I dunno, Dad, maybe he went through some crazy training since the last time you fought him."

Hercule boomed with laughter. "Or maybe you've just slacked off! Your training doesn't seem to be working out for you...maybe you should've done more of it with your old man! That numbskull should've been a pushover."

There it was. Did he really know what she had been up to? She was almost sure of it.

"Get real, Dad, it's been years since you let me train with you," she laughed back, raising her voice as if it was just playful banter. The announcer was eating up their exchange and relaying each comment to the eager crowd. "Besides, you were always holding back when you sparred against me. So I want us both to promise that we'll go all out... for real."

Videl throat almost dried up at the words. Was she ready to go all out? Would she even need to? Her power was a double edged sword.

"Are you sure that's what you really want, Videl?" The Champ ran a finger through his mustache. Outwardly, his confident demeanor and stage presence were like a heroic cape, yet his mind was perhaps as turbulent as Videl's.

'This is it,' he thought. 'If I don't prove to her that I'm the strongest she'll never respect me again. I'll lose her forever.'

'Okay, Videl, you can do this.' Her heart was pounding. 'If you can just beat him fair and square, maybe he'll see how much Gohan's training has meant to me.'

"Oh I'm positive, Dad."

"Alright then, Videl. No holding back, from either of us."

"Well, it looks like they're ready to get underway! Folks, I can only tremble with excitement as both fighters have just agreed to give it their very best — what a special moment. So without further ado, let the fight begin!"

Without a second's pause, Videl dashed forward, landing a blow to her dad's left shoulder that pushed his footing back. Her second and third hits were to his midsection and ribs and she quickly peppered in two kicks with her left leg for good measure. The second hit Hercule square in the jaw and he lost another step. The Champ quickly rebounded, grabbing his head with both hands and headbutting forwards.

The girl was pushed back a step, shouting yikes, but then did a somersault over the top of his head and continued her attack with a knee to the back, a right kick that spun into a left kick, and lastly a strong right elbow to his shoulder that sent the Champ crashing against the ring. The tiles shook and cracked at the impact, scattering a small cloud of dust. Hercule rolled to the side, out of the way, but Videl was expecting exactly that and caught him underneath with a kick that launched him fifteen feet into the air. She leapt upwards in pursuit but was caught in the face by a rebounding kick and knocked back down. Mr. Satan was even higher up now, and used his downward momentum to add force to the strong right he had readied.

But without the ability to fly, she knew the lack of mobility made the air by far the weaker position to hold. She spun sideways at the last second, avoiding the extremely telegraphed punch, before doing another dolphin kick flip, where she planted several fast kicks to her dad's head and upper body. Hercule winced with an audible and painful groan, before she stepped back and planted a more serious sweeping kick that launched her father halfway across the ring once again.

"Wow, what an aggressive lead-off from Videl! She definitely seems to have the champ on his toes right out of the gate!" said the announcer. "It's already plain that both of them seem several steps quicker than we've seen before."

Videl paused a moment, waiting on her father to collect himself from their first exchange. He hopped to his feet without difficulty, brushing off his clothes and popping his neck side to side.

The crowd cheered with amazement. "And our champ is back on his feet, Ladies and gentlemen. He looks fired up now!"

"Not bad, Videl, not bad at all," Mr. Satan said, this time actually taking a fighting stance. "I see you've made your own tweaks to my fundamental style... smart."

The teenager flicked her fingers out and back into a fist, bouncing on her knees. She was hoping he'd notice how she had perfectly customized the best of the Satan-style fist. Overall, it was a blend reflecting her various teachers but the foundation was always from her father.

"I'm impressed too, Dad, you're even faster than I remember." She grinned, for real this time. This was what she was hoping for in a match with her Father. Maybe they could reconnect over their shared love of fighting.

"Let's see what else you've learned," Hercule announced, leaping high above and doing a double roll midair.

He landed just behind Videl, spinning and catching her shoulder with a right backhand. She knew what was coming next, but couldn't ease her way out fast enough. The champ fired off a series of forward punches that struck her raised arms, pounding away at her guard. Then, with a huge drop of his jaw and extremely oval shaped growl, her Dad pulled both his fists back beside him and charged up his famous Dynamite Kick. Videl shifted her bodyweight upwards, successfully pushing off the first and second parts of the kick with both hands, but was left wide open in the air above.

"Rolling Hercule Punch!"

She'd been forced into a difficult position to defend by her dodge, the champ spinning towards her too fast to evade and landing a fully thrown right haymaker to the back of her head. Videl was launched across the ring, skidding and rolling onto her back.

She hopped up quickly, readying her guard as Hercule was in hot pursuit, but he feinted to the rear. Instead of attacking with his momentum, he slipped past her defenses and grabbed her wrists, sweeping her leg — he then peppered her from all sides with another set of punches. The melee finished with a knee to her nose and a double fist from above that slammed the back of her head against the ring.

"Darn. Why didn't she use a kaia to escape that?" Krillin wondered aloud, standing next to Gohan. The teenage half-Saiyan was silent for a moment.

"She hasn't used any of the moves or techniques she learned from me — in fact she's purposefully avoiding them. As much as I can tell, she isn't even bolstering her attacks and guard with ki either."

"But why not? ...hey Gohan, did you hear me?" he added, after another pause.

"Something she said to me earlier," he answered. "I never knew this, but apparently her dad forbid her to train with me. She mentioned it just before the fight, saying this was all her fault."

"Dang," Krillin said. "Talk about your family drama. I can only imagine what it's like having that showboat for a father — this is the same guy who stole all the credit for beating Cell right? And then he forbids his own daughter from being around you? Sounds to me like he's just desperately covering his own tracks."


"A guy like that will say or do anything to keep all his lies in place, Gohan. Which is why I think the perfect person to take him down a few pegs is Videl."

"But that's not what she wants. Sure she wants to win, but she's trying to find a way that won't humiliate her dad or expose her secret training."

"Yeah, yeah... this girlfriend of yours might be a little too good-natured," Krillin laughed. "Actually, I take that back... for someone like you she's perfect, hahaha. So, do you know what he has against you anyway?"

"Who, Mister Satan? Honestly, Krillin, I don't have a clue."

"Yeah, it's like I thought then. He's just deflecting, getting distance from you so he can keep all the credit for beating Cell."

Gohan sighed. "That's just sad."

"Wow, Dad, you got me good that time." Videl grunted, pushing herself off the tile and rubbing the back of her neck.

"You're old man still knows how to pack a punch."

"I know, but my guard was perfect, and I thought there was too much distance between us for you to manage a grab attack..."

"...You didn't think I'd be fast enough to react," Hercule finished her sentence with a chuckle. "You should know better than anyone else not to underestimate me."

Hercule had allowed her the chance to get back on her feet, and to the average onlooker it probably seemed like she needed it. But so far, while she was pushing her body close to its maximum, that was apart from any ki applications. With her knowledge and control of energy, she could easily multiply all aspects of her abilities several times over... but it wasn't time.

"I'll give you that one, Dad. You're a lot tougher than I was expecting."

"Hmph. Well, what are you going to do about it?"

Mr. Satan was contemplating his strategy. With his new powers came the realization of how exceedingly unextraordinary his fighting abilities had been before Babidi. All it had taken was a simple deal with the wizard, directing his anger towards the youthful Gohan, and he'd been gifted an incredible powerup and a plethora of abilities. The strength he had just tapped into might have only been a fraction of his new potential, but the fact remained that Videl was right. Using nothing but her own hard work, she had — without even realizing it — surpassed Mr. Satan at his peak. Apart from Babidi's influence, he might've been thrilled to tears for her in this moment, but as it stood he felt nothing but shame and frustration. And he hadn't come all this way, sacrificing his own mind to a wizard, not to teach her a lesson.

After a long pause, in which he did his best to suppress his shame at cheating to gain strength, he finally continued. "Surely you've got some tricks saved up, Videl."

Videl's heart pumped loudly in her ears again. He was right, she did have more... a lot more... but was she really ready to face the consequences of using that power? It was clear now she wasn't going to win this fight unless she did — in spite of her hopes to the contrary. But the implications... sure, she'd had other masters than Gohan... but that wouldn't matter in the end. Her new abilities would all be wrapped up in a package under his name and thrown back in her face. Her disobedience to an overreaching and controlling father would only earn her titles like 'rebel' or 'heathen'.

'What should I do, Gohan?' she wandered to herself, inwardly saying his name more out of habit than actually asking. 'If I don't use my powers now, what did I even train for? And if I do use them, will I lose Dad forever...?'

"Videl, you're the one that made me promise not to hold anything back. I thought that went for both of us." Hercule's words until now had been so normal on the surface — only the undertones hinted at his true darkness. Now his tone was chiding. "Go on, I know you snuck around all over the globe studying with different masters, don't tell me you didn't learn anything."

Her voice was suddenly brazen, emboldened. "Fine, okay. I realize you've held up your end of the deal." From here on, there was no turning back. "So it's only fair I show you everything I've learned... from ALL my teachers."

Her fear and hesitation were pushed far away by the sudden release of her spirit energy. As she opened up the channels of ki throughout her body, her clothes began to ripple in waves and her pigtails curled upwards as if gravity were reversed. It felt incredible, this was her first time really letting loose like this — for sure since she'd finished her preparations for the tournament. Without fully realizing it, Videl had levitated herself a few feet above the ring, her teeth tightly clinched as she at last reached her full power.

The announcer was stunned, but his mind was able to remember back to the old days of the tournament with excitement. He quickly relayed for everyone the reality that Videl was indeed flying, and that her power was now so strong she was visibly glowing, which turned the onlooker's confusion back into wild cheers.

Videl pulled her fists from her side up and crossed them in front of her, then extended them forwards into a fighting stance. Normally she might have tried to gauge her father's reaction to seeing her power, but she was well past that point now. This was who she was, and if it came down to a choice between her father and Gohan — well, she'd just made that choice.

"This is it, Dad, I'm about to win. I hope you're ready!"

Mr. Satan's frown came in spite of the fact that he'd already known about her training. Even without Babidi, he would've recognized the glow of her aura, the density of the air around her, and her levitation as dead giveaways of Gohan's training. It was a confirmation he hated to see, and yet by it he felt even more justified in what he was about to do. It was suddenly difficult to see the warrior before him as his daughter — rather than just another of the super-powered meddlers who had showed up to ruin him at the Perfect Tournament. He had to win this, to win his little girl back.

"I see, so this is how it is then," he frowned.

She didn't wait for him to acknowledge her or even ready his defenses. The girl threw both hands forward suddenly, launching a powerful kaia directly ahead. Its shockwave was visible through the air, flinging pebbles from the ring away and causing the front row of spectators to grasp desperately at the bleachers to not be blown away.

Hercule, to her absolute chagrin, stood effortlessly amidst the vortex. He'd merely concentrated his energy into a shield — the technique he'd inherited understanding of from Babidi's spell, but the execution came from his instincts as a martial artist. As it subsided the pair's eyes locked, and he saw exactly the shock he was hoping for in her face. Videl's expectations of a victory by ring-out had been suddenly dashed against the rocks. Now, with the jaw dropping reveal that he could use Ki, the young girl was ripe with uncertainty.

'It's time I prove myself to this disobedient child. By rebelling against my wishes she's only made things worse for herself. This time, the lesson will be clear — and I will go to any length necessary to get her away from that boy!'

There were no quips to deliver. He raised his left hand, palm out, and pointed it towards her, bracing with his right arm. This would be his first demonstration, not just to his rebellious child but to his fans and the entire world, of the new Hercule — confident once again that he was indeed the world's strongest man. Focusing his twisted majin energy, he fired a kaia of his own, this one even stronger than Videl's.

The teenager hurriedly braced, but not quite in time, her clothes and hair rippling in the wind. She tightened the muscles in her gut as she levitated, holding her position in spite of being caught off guard. Then the daughter's eyes shuddered as she turned them to the man she called Father, a subtle gulp visible in her throat. Who even was he? She'd seen her father's strength many times, and had heard him deny or even scoff at the Ki techniques she'd sought to learn — calling them fakes, tricks, light shows for the crowd. So how was this even possible? It wasn't — just as impossible as the malicious ki that she now sensed from him. And the smirk on his face was unlike any she'd seen from the man, more akin to an abusive scowl, a predator eyeing its prey.

"...Dad?" she shuddered, her gut confident there was something much deeper at play. "...What... did you do?"

Hercule's smile vanished under his thick mustache as he crossed his arms and levitated six feet into the air. Gasps and Oohs quickly turned to cheers and chants as the crowd got behind their champion, now demonstrating his own flight. "Soon, daughter, you will see that everything I've done, I did to protect my family... I did for your own good..."

Satan rocketed forwards, leagues faster than before, throwing a hard right kick that caught Videl's upper arm as she protected her head. The girl flipped backwards once, her lime greenish boots dancing in the sunlight, but she quickly righted herself and the two began exchanging a blindingly fast barrage of punches. While the spectators tried to decipher as much of the blur as they could, the Z fighters could clearly tell that Videl was at a disadvantage. Hercule's blows were landing twice as often, and his stamina seemed to be far more unwavering than her defenses.

Gohan's fists were trembling from his nerves. If only they'd had more time to train he could have for sure prepared her for this. And how exactly had Mr. Satan managed to get this strong? The chances of that were astronomical, yet the proof was 'in the pudding' as they say.

"From bumbling buffoon to this... He's not half bad." Krillin had to admit, Hercule wasn't even the same person he'd been at the Perfect Tournament. "His fighting style is still clunky, a lot of extra showy stuff that doesn't fit well with midair combat or quick exchanges. But, he's pressing his attacks towards the ring's edge, varying his techniques enough to avoid repetition... pfff, I can't believe I'm actually saying it."

"He'd have been a pretty fun opponent back at the twenty-third tournament," Yamcha laughed. "Wish I'd been paired with him instead of Kami in disguise... like that was fair."

"Plus, I don't know if we've seen the full extent of his power yet, Yamcha," added Krillin, ignoring the ex-bandit's plea for attention. "The question I have is, how did he improve so much on his own? Videl had Gohan as a teacher, who did Mister Satan have? Don't tell me he bumped into the old Crane Hermit out there somewhere."

"Surely not, totally different styles," Yamcha shook his head.

Gohan chimed in at the mention of himself. "Videl was a really quick study, she'd been practicing Ki control already, to the point that flying came naturally to her. At her age that type of growth is impressive but understandable. However, Mister Satan is nearing the end of his prime... there's almost no way he could've improved this much."

"Yeah it doesn't add up," the halfling Z fighter agreed. "Now that you mention it, doesn't his energy sort of remind you of that Spopovich guy Videl fought before?"

"It does..." Gohan nodded. "...And I don't think that's a good thing."

Vegeta, who had been listening in, walked up to them silently, his gloved hands crossed over his chest. "It adds up perfectly, if you've been paying attention, boy." He seemed far more grumpy than usual. "Your Namek friend certainly has been. So tell me, is your head good for anything other than science or can you not put the pieces together?"

Gohan's neck spun towards the Saiyan prince, remembering all the warnings about Babidi the Saiyan had given them. His eyes flashed down to the ground, then back up. "Wait, are you saying?"

Vegeta huffed. If only he knew why Babidi would bother manipulating someone like Hercule that might offer a clue as to his true goal. He did have a way with the humans, but why would that matter?

'Well, soon enough my armies will arrive, and then I can finally make my move.'

Videl took yet another high-speed headbutt to the skull, being knocked back and pummeled in midair, her midsection wide open to another attack. She'd never fought anyone who used their forehead for so many attacks before. Even though she could sense his movements, they were coming in so quickly that her reflexes weren't able to keep up. She managed a sidestep here or there, dodging and forcing her Dad to reposition, but knew her strategy was only stalling the inevitable.

Breathing heavily, she put her fists back up for another round. Mr. Satan stepped towards her with a kick at her shins, but she managed to hop to the left. He was ready for her this time, with an elbow to the face, a hard right punch, and a series of body blows that each took a serious toll on her quickly-depleting stamina. She'd hardly been on the attack at all, it was insane how aggressive Hercule's attack pattern had been. The Champ's body glowed purple with energy as he launched her away, back towards the opposing corner of the ring.

He chased after her from below, swooping in a downwards arc and back up with a rib-crushing upwards kick.

Videl's after-image fizzled out as the kick went straight through her, then disappeared. Hercule's eyes darted from side to side in surprise, before he was slammed on the forehead by a double fist from his daughter. His afro might have been a secret weapon to cushion against some blows, but not this. The wrestler crashed into the ring on his stomach, smashing up a chunk of tiles and earning Videl a round of cheers from the audience.

Huffing from exhaustion, Videl landed opposite him, wiping sweat from her forehead and using every precious second to strategize.

"Increeeedible!" came the announcer's voice. "Just when our hero seemed to have Videl against the ropes, she managed to maneuver away from his kick with what I believe was the after-image technique. That's a pretty advanced move, but then she's a pretty incredible fighter! And look at that, the champ is back on his feet again! Let's hear it for these two amazing combatants!"

Hercule stood with his back straight, walking towards her a few paces before wiping a small trickle of blood from his nose. "Well then, that must be one of the techniques you learned from Gohan."

Videl froze. He was actually bringing this up.

"Pretty tricky, of course by now you realize your little secret training jig is up. You're grounded... for a whole year."

"What? Daddy, that's not fair... and how do you even know I learned it from him?" her voice answered, shakily.

"You've spent every moment of this tournament by his side, Videl, do you really think I wouldn't notice? I don't care if he's your teacher or your boyfriend or your math tutor, if you ever speak to him again, I'll ground you for... for the rest of your life!"

"No! You can't do that, Daddy!"

"I can and I will, Videl. You're my daughter and I know what's best!"

The announcer hesitated a second, deciding that this seemed like a family matter and it would be best for him to save his more detailed descriptions for the actual fighting.

"This fight is over, honey. You aren't going to win and you know it. It's time for you to go home, and never talk to that awful boy again."

The promising young fighter was doing her best to fight back tears. "You don't understand, Daddy. Whatever you think about him is wrong, you just can't see it! He really cares about me, he believes in me, and not just as a fighter..."

"How could he care about you more than I do? I've provided nothing but the best for you, done all I could to teach you how to know right from wrong ever since you were just a tiny little thing." Hercule pointed aggressively towards the teenage Saiyan watching from the arena backstage. "HE has been nothing but a liar and a thorn in my side since the day we met. Blast, I should've never allowed your little phase as that Levi character in the first place. If you hadn't pretended to be a boy back then you never would've even met Gohan and everything would be back to the way it should be!"

Videl's eyes shot wide, her pupils shaking in embarrassment and shame. The audience might have been too far away to hear everything in that exchange but the other participants — namely Gohan — definitely weren't. So there it was, her dream-guy, her teacher, best friend and crush finally had heard of that most humiliating lie. Levi's fateful encounter that day with the pre-teen Gohan had transformed her entire life, proving to her that power existed in realms above what she ever thought possible. She'd been so inspired by him that from that moment forward all her efforts had been spent trying to learn about spirit energy, what he'd called Ki. Videl had owned the fact that she was a fanatic, she knew was obsessed with him and with the mysterious powers he used. But after so many years of searching she'd almost given up hope of ever meeting him again — and certainly never expected that object of her affection to walk into her classroom at school one day.

In what light did that revelation paint her actions since?

Her feelings for him, the real Gohan once she'd gotten to know him, had come as a complete and utter shock. Any youthful infatuation could easily exaggerate a crush into something unrealistic, build up impossible expectations — but somehow the boy she'd always admired had proven to be in every way kinder and stronger than she'd even dreamed. His purity of soul was like a healing light. And yet the very foundation of their relationship had been built on a lie! She had manipulated him into training her, into friendship with her, into liking her... perhaps not nefariously, but it didn't change the fact that she had never brought herself to be honest with him about it. How could she have risked messing up something so wonderful by hiding the truth? She couldn't stomach it, and with her own father delivering the revelation like a stab-wound, it felt like her world was ending.

"Now," Hercule said, seeing the shame and fear in her face as validation of his point. "As my daughter, I expect you forfeit the rest of this match and go straight home. My terms are clear, young lady, do you understand? You will cut off all communication with you-know-who for good, finish school virtually, and forget he ever existed!"

The girl was trying to process everything. But something snapped in her at the suggestion she should forfeit. No, she had to win, to prove to Gohan that she was worthy of his friendship — and that she was sorry, so sorry for not telling him the truth sooner. The truth! That's it, she thought.

"And what if I tell all these people the truth about you, Dad? What if everyone watching here and around the entire world, found out that Gohan really beat Cell, not you?!"

The announcer gulped, backing away slowly and keeping that little tidbit of information to himself. Hercule's intense stare could be felt, and the nameless sunglass-wearing voice of martial arts didn't dare interject himself between the two warriors.

"How dare you!? That's a lie and you know it, Videl!"

"Is it? And when I beat you, with him as my teacher — and Gohan is 100% my teacher — will that make me stronger than Cell or just stronger than my own pretender father? Huh?!"

He snapped as though he was possessed, like a rabid dog with only the carnal urge to dig his teeth into something and shred it. Hercule's mind lost all sense of clarity as his embarrassment turned to defensive rancorous instinct. As the remnants of the champion's formerly good heart were burned away, his power exploded. Jagged purple energy shot out around his body, flaming up around him and catching the attention of every Z fighter.

"It really does break my heart," he mumbled, gnawing each word slowly through his gritted teeth. "But if that's the way you want to play, SO BE IT!"

Videl couldn't wait or react, she'd learned that lesson already. Even if she had to burn through all her stamina, it was her only choice — attack now before he had the chance to hit her with that incredible power! Her training with Gohan had been so heavily focused on learning defense and control that she'd never gotten around to creating an ultimate move. Right now she desperately needed something to help her overcome the gap in strength. She'd have to improvise.

She kicked off the ground, flying up as high as she thought she could without being disqualified, several hundred feet into the air. The young fighter felt the heat of the sun on her neck and back as she kept her eyes focused downwards, the windy air in her face and fingers giving her the sensation of chilly and warm at the same time. Far below, almost nothing but an ant now, her scornful opponent was seemingly waiting on her. Good... that allowed her the high ground.

Videl flipped, nose-diving straight down. With her hands angled back, she fired small kaia waves, accelerating her speed beyond the pull of gravity and even her top flight velocity. Her hastening to such a pace represented a huge risk, any miscalculation or timing error potentially being fatal. She pulled back her right leg for what would be literally all of her remaining energy in one kick. Mr. Satan, still robed in sickening purple energy, suddenly leapt straight upwards to meet her, his left arm raised to block.

'No! He's too quick, it won't work!'

At the last instant, the girl shifted the Ki from her right foot into her left hand, pulling back her strongest punch — with all the force of a full-speed descent. The pair collided with a massive ear-shattering shockwave a few dozen feet in the air. Videl's punch had landed a direct hit in Hercule's cheek!

She gasped, relieved and hopeful. Then Mister Satan's eyes snapped open, his neck craning against the blow and actually pushing her fist back while it was still imprinted into his jawline. She felt a hand suddenly grab her by the back of the shirt and twist her body forwards over his shoulder. A painful kick suddenly split the square of her back and the ground seemed to fly up at her face. Videl's skull snapped backwards at the impact on the ring, her entire body now limp. The painful cuts, bruises, and scrapes that covered her arms and torso were screaming out, even her fingers begged her not to move them.

"Gotta... get... up..." her strained voice came, barely above a whisper. "...gotta... keep... fighting..."

"Stay. Down." Hercule's voice threatened from high above.

A flicker of Ki yet remained within the determined youth, one she refused to surrender. She spread it throughout her body like a single candle for warmth in winter, slowly but surely pushing her broken body up to her hands and knees. Could she keep fighting? No. She knew there was nothing left, and yet she once again defied her Father.

"Fine then!" came the voice from overhead, more angrily this time. "You brought this upon yourself!"

Hercule held his left arm up, a sphere of dark purple energy suddenly forming just over his palm. He concentrated it, the energy growing to triple the size of his afro. The corners of his mustache tightened with ferocity as he prepared to fling the blast down at his own daughter. She craned her neck up towards him, giving the World's great hero the pleasure of one final desperate look before he fired the finishing attack.

A massive blue thunderbolt suddenly boomed through the sky just beside Mr. Satan, accompanied by an intense golden light so powerful he had to turn away. Hercule's blast slipped from his hand, dissipating into the air that now trembled with the mighty Ki of a Super Saiyan 2. The sun itself seemed dim in comparison.

"Don't make another move!"

Videl's ears seemed to spark to life at the familiar tone. "...Go...han?"

"This fight is over. You won. Now step away from Videl."

Hercule's wrath had found the object of its origin. Gohan hovered at the edge of the ring, his own legendary wrath ignited in defense of the defenseless.

"Oh my, what incredible energy!" Babidi squealed with excitement. "Oh Buu is going to need every ounce of that delectable pure power!"

"It is truly something," the demon standing behind him added. "Those Saiyans really are the worst type of nuisance. Are you certain Dabura will be able to defeat a warrior of that caliber?"

Babidi seemed to think for a moment. "Reading power levels isn't really my specialty, but rest assured I will go to any means necessary to get that energy for Buu."

"As will I, master. A shame the girl didn't provide any more energy for him."

"Ah, not to worry, I hadn't counted on much from her. That she is defeated and Mister Satan will ensure that the tournament continues is all that matters. Speaking of, he really hates that Gohan kid, I'd better step in."

'Stand down, Mark!' Babidi's voice ordered from inside the wrestler's head. 'You've done well, my friend. The brat Gohan's time will come, I'll see to that I assure you. For now, you have a part to play, see to it that you do your job!'

Hercule's demeanor changed instantly. He descended to the ring below, where he turned towards the announcer with a sudden forced smile. "YEAAAAHHHHH" he raised two fingers in victory.

"Well I think I can forego the count at this point, everyone!" the announcer said. "It's clear to all of us Videl put up an amazing performance, but in the end it seems she still doesn't quite have what it takes to match our World Champion. Which means... we have a victor!"

The crowd had seemed to exhale simultaneously at the release in tension. Certainly they'd never seen their champ pushed so far before, and while some found this new side of him very impressive it was also a little frightening. They also didn't know what to make of the glowing gold figure who had nearly interrupted at the end, but Hercule was quick to refocus their attention away from him.

The announcer had made his way back into the ring, holding up the mic to Hercule. "Mister Satan, do you have anything you'd like to add about the fight?"

"Certainly!" he snatched it away. "I just wanna say, Videl put up a great fight — my toughest match ever! But let me tell you one thing... if you think that fight was good, you'd better stick around to see how this tournament is gonna end! YAAAHHHH!"

"Well, I think we were all extremely entertained by that last match," the announcer laughed, secretly glad it was over. He turned to get comments from Videl, but the girl was about to be loaded into a stretcher. The other combatant Gohan, who had nearly intervened, was knelt beside her and was trying to feed something to the Champ's daughter. The announcer again turned away, deciding to prioritize his own hide by staying as neutral as possible.

"Alright then, with match number one of the second round complete, let's hear it for our next two quarter finalists as they make their way to the ring — Krillin and Number 18!"

Thanks for reading our latest installment, I'm glad we were able to get another chapter out to you all in a reasonable amount of time. We have been really excited about writing this confrontation, and have been planting seeds and building to it for a very long time. So much thought went into the portrayal and mindset of Hercule, as well as Videl, as more important than the fight and outcome is the future of their relationship. I hope we conveyed the emotional weight of the moment, as certainly the dynamic between a dangerously overprotective parent and their child here is complicated and heavy. Can't wait to hear your thoughts about the chapter. It's worth mentioning, our goal isn't to make readers hate Hercule, even though our depiction of the character has earned and deserved far more ire than his canon self.

Remember to check out David on TikTok at justlydeserved and I have a Star Wars podcast called Two Sons of Tatooine. We also have a Facebook page where you can interact with us if you search Bringer of Death.

Q: I like that you don't shy away from descriptive elements, a lot of times writers tend not to delve much into describing the atmosphere or detail of the setting but I think this serves as an example that focus on detail does pay off.
That's something I really appreciate you saying. Some stories that go very fast and skip detail entirely can feel off, and likewise with too much detail dragging down the pacing. It's our goal to fit into the middle as much as we can.

Q: Question to ask, are you also known as 'coffee guy' on a fan dbm universe 16 comic? Given you were behind majcnvan (a god) that is recognised as partially tied to dbm (tvtropes) Left me to wonder if you were also behind a second deity design.
Nope, that's not me. I can look into it more though.

Q: I'm curious to see what sort of mysterious fighter is going to match Vegeta. He's large and Vegeta wouldn't refuse his challenge... personally, I'm betting on a resurrected Nappa. Beat a Saiyan with another Saiyan. I thought about Freeza for a second, but Freeza is anything but towering.
Oh you will find out very soon (as far as chapters go anyway, I think we're not far away from that reveal). It's a surprise though.

Q: How far can one extend their aura? A dozen feet? A hundred? Would someone within their aura be protected from injury?
Auras in DBZ are different sizes, usually just for Tori to show when one character is stronger like he did comparing kid Trunks and kid Goten. I don't know that we've seen someone be protected because they were inside someone else's aura though. We have seen the Saiyans particularly have massive auras when powering up, but usually not maintain them for long — they go back to normal after the powerup. That said, I'll just give you my best guess. Now note, we're not talking about a technique here like Cell's Perfect Barrier, this is just auras. I'd say within a dozen to fifty feet is about the biggest we've seen in DBZ, they might be able to go bigger but what's the purpose? Someone inside of that would probably be hurled away violently not protected.

Q: In your latest chapter, Piccolo said something interesting. "Because it doesn't use ki as its source, it must be rooted in something mystical." What does this mean? That there is a Ki Magic and mystical magic? How intertwined is Ki and Magic?
It means that magic like Piccolo's comes from Ki, and he has a natural ability with it that far surpasses most due to being a Namek. However, Supreme Kai's abilities aren't from Ki, at least some of them aren't. Likewise, Majcnavn "the dragonspawn" may have some abilities which aren't Ki-based and are a result of bloodline, a mystical connection to an object, or an entirely different source of magic.

Q: Do you think 3 to 4 chapters a year would be doable?
Sure hope so! We're starting off with chapters in back to back months so there's that.

Q: Based on how you deal with power levels and transformations, in canon both Goku and Vegeta mastered ssj2 by the start of the Buu saga but since Goku broke thru and achieved ssj3 both his prior levels had a "power raise", just as Gohan's ssj1 max power did in your story when he achieved ssj2. Given that, we know that the Majin boost Vegeta received from Babidi put him on equal ground to Goku's "augmented" ssj2, therefore effectively surpassing his prior ssj2 limits. Do you think, in theory, that that's enough of a "power release" to grant Vegeta an opening for ssj3, or is a burst of power not enough to unlock a new level?
A: ^^
Spoken by someone who has a good understanding of our thinking. The answer is yes, I think Majin Vegeta could've achieved SSj3, even though normally SSj3 is something that is only attainable in Otherworld or through fusion.

Q: How exactly did the "King" of the Demon Realm became such a, for the lack of a better word, 'traitor' to the gods is a story I'm interested in. Dabura in his role must be important enough to maintain the balance of the universe in some way, so I don't get how Shin allowed this to happen. Is there a second Demon King now that Dabura is a rebel? Super interested in the next chapter for Dabura's backstory.
Yeah we know that Supreme Kai fears him initially, and is amazed that Babidi could bring someone like that under his control. I think normally the Kais might leave the Demon Realm somewhat alone, but I wouldn't say Dabura was loyal to them. That said, this may have been developed more in other media forms recently since Z was released, so I may be wrong.

Q: Do you think after this, you can introduce Earth to not think energy is all a trick like the rest of the universe? They'll never be able to evolve like this.
So, with Hercule flying around and using Energy Blasts like he did this chapter, it seems like the people of Earth will eventually learn the truth about Energy. We'll see.