World Championships Saga, Part 9: The Wizard's Gambits
The announcer squinted and took off his sunglasses to clean the lenses, puzzled. The shorter and more angry of the competitors had simply vanished, and somehow he got the feeling it wasn't the super-speed dodging kind of vanish. For one, the missing fighter's opponent looked just as confused as he was, and for Goku that was really saying something. Several in the audience, likewise, began to participate in the hunt for Vegeta, many standing up and cupping their hands over their eyes to stare up into the sky. But Goku quickly realized all of the searching was in vain. The other Saiyan's ki signature was nowhere to be found, he wasn't simply suppressing it or hiding, he was gone with no trace left behind.
Something clicked within the mind of Goku suddenly, synapses firing once again from the stimuli, memories suppressed by magic a few moments ago being unclogged. Hadn't they agreed not to fight, before suddenly changing their minds? What could've possessed them?
Goku's face was as serious as ever. He quickly tried to take stock of Vegeta disappearing. Was this the signal for the wizard finally making some big move?
"Well, I suppose if your opponent doesn't show himself in the next 10 seconds, it's an automatic forfeit and our winner by default will be Goku," said the announcer, turning to the crowd. "I hate to see it end this way, that fight was really somethi—"
His words trailed off as something seemed to catch his eye yet again. The booming crowd all around them suddenly were hazy, as if he was seeing them through a mirage. He blinked once, then again, rubbing his eyes, before he was finally convinced this was no trick.
Likewise, many noticed the metaphorical curtain had been suddenly pulled back. Within the normal viewing audience, about every fourth spectator was revealed to be utterly inhumane — and downright insidious. With the veil lifted, aliens and monsters of various shapes and kinds had been strategically placed throughout the audience — each bore a marking shaped like the letter M on their forehead. They had already begun to turn threateningly to the unsuspecting public that had been sitting near them, many bearing teeth or beginning to laugh dangerously.
"What on Earth!?" the announcer gasped. "Uhmm... everyone please remain calm, I'm sure these uhm, creatures, mean us no harm..."
One of Babidi's servants answered immediately, impaling an elderly man sitting in front of him through the chest, then hoisting up the body for all to see.
Chaos waited a mere moment, just long enough for the first human to scream in terror, before it ensued in full. Within moments it had become an uproar of panic, the women and children trying to flee to the exits. But with a horrifying speed Babidi's forces blocked them off, chuckling as their trapped prey desperately sought an escape. The tournament was officially over.
But not all among the audience were so helpless. Veteran Muten Roshi as well as Goten and Trunks shared silent glances, ready to make a stand, the two women and the young Maron behind them. Roshi himself was shocked that he had not sensed these aliens prior to now, chalking that up to magic, but the instant the facade had lowered he didn't waste a second in springing to action. The power levels he felt from them varied widely from one to the next, but they were all dangerous, with plenty of strong fighters among them — for a martial artist of his advanced age this could be tricky. But with age came experience. Fortunately, Goku was also nearby.
"Goku! You have to do something," the announcer shouted, running up to him out of breath. "If there's anyone that can stop these monsters, it's you!"
The Earth-raised warrior had been processing in the ring, trying to rationalize this play by the wizard. Why had Vegeta been the only one teleported away? No sooner had the thought crossed his mind that Goku then realized... he hadn't been. His eldest son was also nowhere to be found. Two of his other allies arrived by his side, snapping him out of his thoughts, the announcer welcoming them in as additional protection.
"Yamcha, Piccolo," Goku said. "Looks like we've got trouble."
A sudden shriek from Chi-Chi alerted Goku to the bleachers. She was fine, her shock was rather due to seeing her youngest boy transform into a Super Saiyan — his hair lighting up in a golden blaze that caused Goku to raise his eyebrows in surprised pride. Goten had flung one of the alien attackers so hard that he had disappeared over the horizon.
"Goku," Yamcha began, "don't worry about these freaks. I'll handle 'em myself, with Roshi and your kid we should have no problem. You two need to figure out what's really going on."
"Okay, keep these people safe," Goku answered. With that, the scar-faced bandit unleashed a wolf fang fist on the nearest unsuspecting minion.
Piccolo zapped a set of aliens with his eye lasers before turning back to the Saiyan. "I can't sense Vegeta or Gohan. The wizard must have singled them out and decided to remove them from the equation. We could've really used their help."
"True, but..." Goku had been wondering why he hadn't also been teleported away. "Do you think this wizard knows about me? Even if he planned all of this, I bet he wasn't predicting I'd have a one day pass back from the dead, or else I'd be gone too."
Piccolo nodded in agreement, feeling slightly more hopeful.
"Still, I can't do us any good if we don't find this Babidi guy."
"I've been thinking about that, Goku, and I have an idea. While it's clear that this wizard can move others freely through teleportation spells, it's highly possible that he wouldn't want to be too far from the action. I'm betting he's somewhere nearby."
"Then why haven't we been able to sense him or his men? Come to think of it, I haven't been able to feel the energy of that Shin for a while now either."
Piccolo nodded, looking below them at the arena. "I have a theory I'd like to test, but it involves destroying the fighting platform."
The tournament announcer suddenly interjected at the mention. "—now hold on just a minute, you're not talking about blowing up the arena on purpose are you? That's crazy, you can't do that!"
"Look," Piccolo replied sternly. "If you haven't realized it yet by looking around, this tournament is over. Innocent spectators are under attack and running for their lives. If we're going to stop whoever is responsible, and it's possible that he's right underground, this arena needs to go."
"I...well, I see your point," the sunglass wearing man conceded. "But just how do you know blowing up the arena will help at all? For all you know they could be anywhere, up in the sky perhaps just invisible?"
"A hunch," the Namekian smiled, turning his hand, rotating it, and forming an energy sphere in his palm. He concentrated it in tightly compressed layers, so that it was capable of obliterating matter but wouldn't cut too deeply into the Earth's surface, even as he searched with extreme care for any signatures of life directly below them. "Besides, the air is too exposed, his ship could easily get hit by a stray energy blast. No, underground makes the most sense."
Goku grabbed the announcer and levitated him to a safe distance as Piccolo prepared to fire his blast. Right at that moment, some kind of hole opened up from the center of the ring and a swamp-green monster charged out at full speed. A hundred more alien soldiers followed his lead, pouring out of the opening.
"Piccolo, did you sense that?" Goku asked, raising his guard quickly.
"Yes I did," replied the Namek with a grin. For just an instant, when the hatch had opened, they had been able to feel the energy inside — and one such signature was just peculiar enough to presumably belong to a wizard.
Before they could continue, the green abomination rushed Piccolo with its spiked forearm raised, which the Namek ducked to avoid — but the creature somehow outsped him and landed a clean blow that hurled him through the air over the arena.
Goku vanished, retreating next to the Namekian. The arena was now crawling with hundreds of alien soldiers, most of them garbed in dark spandex with white chest plating and head armor. Some of them joined the forces already in the arena, replenishing their ranks, while others gathered to surround Goku and Piccolo. But they weren't the real concern. Following the army out, half a dozen more of the dark-green skinned monsters appeared from below. Each of the creatures were incredibly tall, twice Goku's height, possessed sharp teeth, and bore a resemblance to both an overgrown insect and a lizard, yet their energy level was nothing to scoff at. The beasts' deeply yellow eyes darted from side to side quickly, taking in their surroundings, the only question that remained was whether or not these beings were actually sentient.
"Hey, Piccolo, when it opened up that time, it felt like almost nobody was left inside. This might be the last line of defense. I say we deal with them as quickly as we can, get everyone to safety, and then go after Babidi."
"I'll follow your lead, Goku. Just make sure we keep an eye on Yamcha and the others, we don't want them or any spectators getting caught up in a blast wave."
"Ok then," Goku grinned, flashing into Super Saiyan. "Let's handle this quickly."
A few moments earlier...
Videl watched in shock as Gohan's body vanished like a ghost. Her arms suddenly went right through where he had just been, and from what she had seen with her own two eyes, Gohan looked like he had been taken against his will. In a panic, the girl ran to the arena entrance to try and get help from Gohan's father. But the bleachers themselves were inexplicably overrun with aliens and monsters. She looked left and right, seeing Goku and the announcer up in the ring looking as confused as she was. The audience was screaming in terror, trying to flee, some even leaping out of the bleachers and onto the grass around the arena to try and escape. One woman carrying her young child had just leapt the ten foot drop, the screaming toddler being carefully lowered down to her by a young man above. But the man was suddenly killed, decapitated by one of the alien monsters. The child fell but was thankfully caught by her mother, collapsing onto her back. Catching sight of the young woman and child, the Majin leapt down out of the stands onto the grass, charging straight at them.
Videl braced, firing up her energy to full power — surprisingly, after the strange bean Gohan had fed her, she felt much stronger than before. She intercepted the monster with an intervening kick to the side of its head. This creature was some kind of magically mutated beast, hideous white skin, with an elongated cranium and four arm-like claws — but it had taken the kick to the head fairly well and turned back to Videl for more. That's when she noticed the marking. An ominous letter M seemed to be tattooed on its forehead, the same as Spopovich, the same as... her father.
The monster roared and laughed, approaching her with a terrifying hunger. Videl merely cracked her knuckles.
"Okay, ugly, you picked the wrong girl to mess with," she warned, channeling her ki inside. For the first time... well ever... she was truly not holding back.
A second later, she had planted an elbow in the side of its face, a kick in its belly, another strike that broke the joint in the beasts' arm, and a final wrist strike to the back of its neck that knocked the creature out cold.
The girl stared in amazement at her half-gloved hand, hardly believing what she'd just done. "That was almost too easy," she said aloud, remembering the mother and daughter nearby.
Videl turned with a reassuring smile towards them, pointing inside where they could hide until it was safe, or find an emergency exit.
"But it did feel good," the champ's daughter huffed, turning towards the rest of the audience. She could see up in the bleachers that Gohan's little brother had joined the fight, as well as Trunks — lucky the little 'know it all' had brought his powered battle-armor along. Still, there were a lot of audience members still in serious danger. Lives were at stake, she had to join the fight.
"Videl!" a voice suddenly called out, stopping her in her tracks.
The girl turned with a renewed ferocity. Her father stood a few meters in front of her, staring her down with what she perceived as that same judgmental scorn as before. His eyes were still darkened underneath by some unnatural black eyeliner, his skin a paler gray than a human's ought to be.
"This is our last chance. Go home, wait for me there..." he said.
"Or what?..." she spat, raising her fists. "You're NOT my father, you haven't been for some time now. It all makes sense, your strange behavior, your weird powers, all your lies. Just how come you have the same marking on your forehead as all these aliens and monsters, Dad?"
Hercule didn't raise his guard, he merely reached up to his temples, pulling off a bandana to reveal the "M" that she'd mentioned.
"I deserve that, and I'm...sorry. Videl, you know I never wanted any of this to happen. I just wanted you to be safe, for things to go back to the way they were..."
"So you made a deal with the devil, huh? Is that it? Your soul in exchange for new powers, powers I had to learn through hard work and years of training?"
Mr. Satan ground his teeth together, his eyes glancing sideways and down. The girl couldn't tell if she was actually getting to him or if he was just becoming more angry.
"Just how did you learn to fly and use Ki after all, Dad? I thought you said all that stuff was a trick, a light show for gullible crowds?"
"It's all too real... I know that now," Hercule admitted, his tone non-argumentative. "And it's dangerous, I thought forbidding you to learn it was for your own good."
"You mean for your own good. This was never about me, it was about Gohan, it was about control. You didn't want me or anyone else learning the truth about who really defeated Cell!"
Hercule gulped audibly, averting his eyes again. "You might be right, I don't even think I would recognize the truth at this point if it was staring me in the face. But none of that matters anymore, Videl. I just want you to be safe."
His tone sounded like it could actually be genuine. Was he actually conceding the point? What was he trying to accomplish? Regardless, she doubted she could ever look at the man the same way again.
The champ looked around, as if checking to see if he was being watched. "You and I need to both get the heck out of here right now... before things get even worse!"
"Things are pretty ugly already! And these people need my help—"
"Honey, it's already too late for anyone who is still here. None of us can stop the evil that's about to be unleashed."
Hercule's ominous tone carried genuine fear. He was definitely still not himself, but he wasn't acting the same as before either. She didn't understand how and why he was suddenly so different all of a sudden.
"Evil? What evil?" she repeated.
"A...a terrifying creature, the kind Earth doesn't stand a chance against. Master Babidi is hurting these people in order to collect the energy they lose. With it, he'll resurrect the ultimate evil."
Videl didn't even know what to respond to first. "Your master?" the girl asked. "You mean you really did make a deal with the devil then!"
Mr. Satan leaned in closer, squinting his eyes as if he were trying to hold onto his focus.
"Babidi... this wizard... he started whispering things inside of my head. This was so long ago, Videl. He manipulated me into doing all the things I did to you... made it seem like the only way. He twisted everything, warped my fatherly desire to protect you... until it turned me into a controlling... maniac," he sighed. "Somehow, Babidi knew how to see into my head, he could see everything about me, the stuff deep down, y'know. He offered me a chance to put my fears to rest, to be free."
Mr. Satan raised his hand, covering it suddenly in white energy and holding it out to her. "The truth is, Videl, back against Cell I learned that all this stuff was actually real and...I got scared. I knew I could be exposed, defeated, humiliated in front of everyone. Babidi knew that... he assured me I would have real power and I'd never have to worry about losing again."
"Yeah, right... So all of a sudden you just decide to admit all of this, huh, Dad? Why now? I do NOT trust you, after all that you've said to me, how could I think this is anything but a trick?!"
Hercule's eyes actually began to water. "My head, it's clearer right now. He's usually watching over me, like a spotlight inside of my mind that never goes out. If I had even thought about this stuff before he would've known and somehow blocked out the good parts that help me make sense of things. But somehow, it's really dim right now. I'm not sure how long it'll last, but what matters is that we try to escape before things get worse."
"Hah. Maybe..." she intoned sarcastically. "Then what about Gohan? If you really mean what you're saying now, wouldn't that make him completely innocent in all of this?"
"There's no time for this, Videl, you're in danger. Everyone here is!"
"Oh there's time," she huffed, the girl even losing sight of everything going on. "You do know you have no hope of convincing me unless you come clean about absolutely everything!"
Hercule wiped his eyes. "Alright. This is all my fault anyway, he did nothing wrong... Gohan was just someone to blame. There were times I even believed the lie myself, and it was like Babidi knew that and made it into the only thing. I'm so sorry, Videl. I was wrong."
There it was, the admission she had longed for. Why now of all times? If only her Dad had said all this sooner, when they still had time, before so much hurt had been done to their relationship.
As his daughter continued to try and process it all, more screams from behind her broke out. Up above the arena, Goku and Mr. Piccolo had been surrounded by half a dozen altogether different-looking monsters — the energy of these creatures was terrifying. She turned back to Mr. Satan, still overwhelmed by everything. On the one hand, if her father had really been brainwashed this entire time, it would explain so much — and it meant that the real him was still in there somewhere, trying to break free. But it could just be another trick he was using to manipulate her emotions and crush her spirit. No, she prayed it was the former.
"As much as I hope you mean everything you're saying, I'm not leaving until everyone here is safe. Now, you can either help me or get out of my way." Videl turned back to the audience. "Which is it gonna be?"
The question rang in his head like an echo. If he were to turn against Babidi, there would be no mercy for him, no second chances. As a Majin, once the wizard's ultimate pet was released, he might be spared the fate of his planet... possibly even his daughter's life could be negotiated for, if he pleaded hard enough. But what kind of a life would that be? Watching his homeworld enslaved and conquered, the people who once praised him as their hero would curse his name as a coward and traitor. Videl would never forgive him, the people of Earth would never forgive him, he would never forgive himself. How could he let them all down like that, just out of self preservation? He couldn't, and he would no longer betray the faith they had placed in him! He had to fight back now, while his mind was briefly his own.
"Okay, Videl, I'm with you." The champ crouched into his fighting stance, raising his power into a white aura around him. "I know this doesn't make up for what I've done, but I won't stand by and let any more people get hurt!"
The girl turned back to the crowd, ready to fight, when she suddenly felt it too. Mr. Satan's energy, which had been so dark and foreboding during their fight earlier, was almost... uplifting now. She now felt that he was telling the truth — any darkness inside was completely lifted. Whether her mind had come to terms with that or not was another story, but she had sensed it. Videl suddenly turned back to Hercule and in a moment of release wrapped her arms around him.
"Dad... it really is you..." Her words turned to weeping as she held him. "I... I really really missed you. I can't believe it's... been so long."
Mr. Satan returned her hug with a strange relief, as the last remnants of Babidi's slavery melted away. The "M" on his forehead broke into a runny smear of black ink which he wiped off with his forearm. Tears in his own eyes, Hercule suddenly held his daughter much more tightly — for the first time in years, he felt like himself again. The World's Martial Arts Champion didn't hesitate now that he was free, he knew exactly what to do. With a sudden heroic firmness, Mister Satan stepped forwards out onto the arena lawn and made a booming proclamation.
"NOW LISTEN HERE! THE CHAMP IS BACK! ANYONE THAT DARES TO HURT THE PEOPLE OF EARTH WILL HAVE TO ANSWER TO ME! D'YOU HEAR THAT, BABIDI!?"
Curiously, the jagged white energy around him hadn't dissipated; the knowledge and experience of how to fight and fly with ki hadn't magically been plucked from his mind. He'd been fortunate, perhaps the wizard was too busy right now to undo his powerup, or more likely his meager level was merely beneath the effort it would require. Regardless, Mr. Satan was not concerned with whether or not he had retained any power, he was willing to fight no matter what.
A figure appeared on his left, backing him up — his daughter, ready for action. Suddenly, another person landed on his right — an intriguing old man in sunglasses. A fellow competitor, Yamcha, then landed beside the old man, followed by two youngsters he didn't recognize — though one had shiny golden hair.
They now garnered the full attention of almost every alien or monster that Babidi had unleashed, hundreds of warriors as strong as or much stronger than Hercule.
"We're with you, Dad," Videl said.
Mr. Satan nodded, grunting loudly before he dashed forwards in attack.
And with that, the great pretender took his first steps towards true greatness.
Earth, the Gizard Wasteland...
"Huh?" the youth wondered aloud. His eyes suddenly stung from the intense sunbeams. "How'd I get here?"
A sudden shadow cast itself between the sun and Gohan. The outline appeared human, but even as he raised his hand to block out the glare he still couldn't make out who it was. His senses kicked in quickly, though they too were puzzled at the energy.
"Who's there!?" he yelled.
With a chuckle, the figure responded curiously. "Hmph, it is I of course, the Lord of Light, prince of the powers of the air."
Gohan didn't have any idea what that could mean.
"Come, child, have you not been educated at all in the mythology of this world?" the voice demanded, chiding. "I have gone by many names over the millennia — Helios, Janus, Ra..." he smirked as he said a final name... "Apollo..."
The half-Saiyan could now make him out more clearly.
"They are all titles granted to me by the inhabitants of this world, and yet none of them were truly me."
"Is there a point to all this?" Gohan responded, lowering his eyebrows, before the pieces came together in his mind. "Oh, I see. So... we were right to be suspicious of you, you've been playing us this whole time."
Apollo laughed a bit too excitedly, landing in front of the warrior. "Allow me to unveil for you my true self, consider it a final indulgence before you meet your end."
Gohan huffed in defiance, but made no move. Shin and Kibito had tried to warn them, but for some reason they had been caught utterly unprepared to handle any questioning about themselves. That uncertainty had cast both the strangers in an untrustworthy light, enough that they weren't able to prevent whatever was about to happen.
Apollo raised his arms, before extending them outward in the release of a magical shroud. Beneath the beautiful exterior of the Lord of Light was unveiled a horned red-skinned demon. His blue and white outfit complimented his pigment, and while ornate they seemed well suited to combat.
"Oh it is good to once again appear as I truly am — for you stand before Dabura, King of the Demon Realm!"
"The what? Demon Realm?" Gohan repeated, having assumed him to be an alien of some kind.
"It is a world of utter and complete perfection, where joy and innocence go to die!" he laughed. "I long to return there soon, once my master no longer needs me."
Wisely, the youth remained silent, waiting to see what else Dabura would reveal about his nature or intentions.
"And to that end, you — Gohan the Super Saiyan — must be offered up on the altar of sacrifice. Prepare yourself for battle, for these are your final moments!"
"I see," the half-human said with a tone of aggression. "And why exactly do I need to be sacrificed?"
Dabura smirked but gave no answer, provoking no further questions from Gohan — though he did wonder if this master he had just referenced might be the wizard Vegeta had warned them about.
"Fine, it sounds like there's only one way to settle this."
Clenching his fists, Gohan began to call forth the power stored inside. Transforming into a Super Saiyan required a trigger, a state of mind, and to some degree a hardening of oneself. The air around him suddenly stilled, then was propelled back outwards. The ground trembled, rocks toppling over as any unsound structure in the vicinity began to collapse. There it was, the feeling he had memorized over the years, like a sensation in his very blood. Gohan tensed and focused on that ki, feeling his body awaken to a higher state of being. His now-golden hair stood straight and tall, and his aura rippled powerfully but purposefully around him.
"Let's not waste any time."
Dabura's sharp teeth shone as he grinned wide. "That kind of power won't be nearly enough, boy!"
He charged instantly, Gohan blocking with his forearm. The two bodies were both sturdy, neither knocked back from the impact. Dabura reached forwards with his left hand, grabbing Gohan's wrist and pushing it down and out of the way. With the opening he threw a right hook that the Saiyan only narrowly avoided by craning his neck. The devil then fired an reddish energy wave point blank that exploded on contact.
Gohan hurriedly guarded his vitals, but the explosion was powerful — and made a simple fact all too clear. This was the kind of opponent that even a Super Saiyan would struggle to defeat.
But Dabura was relentless, chasing him through the debris cloud with powerful and fast blows that Gohan struggled to handle. He quickly went from dodging to blocking, and then to merely defending his head and chest. When the demon finally kicked him into a large rocky hill it was almost a relief.
"Come now, Gohan," he laughed. "Master Babidi holds you in such high esteem. Surely you can do better."
The Saiyan emerged from a hole within the Earth, dusting himself off. "Master Babidi you say?" He let a grin show. "So, Vegeta was right about that guy!"
Dabura frowned, irritated at his lapse. "It will make no difference, child. You will be defeated here and now, that will be that."
Gohan's greenish eyes suddenly wore a new type of focus. In his mind, he began thinking through his next strategy. 'I haven't had to use level two in a long time. I think I remember how... let's just hope I've done enough over the years to still handle this guy,' he chuckled inwardly.
The half-Saiyan stretched his stance an extra foot, then bent slightly at the knees. "I wouldn't be so sure, Dabura. You're pretty tough, but you aren't prepared for my true strength."
The demon cackled inwardly. 'The reality is that I specifically prepared for just that, fool.'
Suddenly, the Earth was still and quiet. Gohan's eyes shut a moment while he tried to recall exactly how it felt. Already, the power was beginning to perforate the atmosphere. Overhead, what clouds were present had begun to disperse in fear, and yet...lightning — heat lightning, flashes of white-gold, began to crackle through the skies and around the warrior. His muscles expanded with new mass and his hair stood rigid and tall in sharp spikes. With a loud cry, Gohan fully embraced the transformation, shouting up at the sky. When the dust finally settled, he was a Super Saiyan 2, robed in blue streaks of electricity.
Dabura's eyes couldn't help but open wide, his forehead betraying him with a bead of sweat. His white cape rippled behind him in the wind, and he realized he had actually backpedaled a step. The demon grit his teeth in frustration. Now he knew why Babidi had felt it necessary to prepare a plan to handle this warrior. Fortunately, he had plenty of reserves he could use against this irritating child.
The Demon King threw his arms out from his sides, concentrating on bringing forth his own energy. With a shout, a green sphere of energy exploded outwards, followed by an intense powerup of his own. Gohan merely stood at the ready, unphased.
"Whenever you're ready, big guy," he said smugly.
Dabura vanished at hyper speed, trying to catch Gohan unprepared from the rear. He accelerated into an attack, but at the last second caught a flash of the Saiyan's eyes — being so easily detected threw his rhythm off and he decided to feint and try again from another angle. Dabura dashed off a few of the small rock pillars trying to throw off Gohan, before diving again into the fray, from above this time.
Gohan still made absolutely no movement whatsoever, his eyes alone moving like spotlights. When Dabura's blow came from above, Gohan dodged it so quickly that it appeared to the Demon as if he hadn't moved at all.
Babid's number-two henchmen gasped in shock, looking at his arm in disbelief. Angrily, he spun and flung his arm at the warrior's chest. This time, Gohan allowed the blow to strike him squarely. He didn't even budge from the impact. In fact, it appeared as if he hadn't even felt it.
Dabura's eyes went wide in disbelief, before he angrily tried a sucker punch to Gohan's gut. Before it could land, the ascended Super Saiyan planted a light jab to Dabura's right eye that knocked the devil dizzy. The demon roared from the pain, grabbing his eye and stumbling clumsily backwards. What was going on? How was a mere mortal, an Earthling of all creatures, able to both avoid him and do that kind of damage so easily?
With his left eye, he maintained focus on Gohan — this new transformation had changed the boy's entire demeanor. He was steadfast, unshakably confident, as well as efficient. With just the slightest blow Dabura felt like he had taken real damage. Whatever power boost he had obtained through Babidi was meager in comparison to the Super Saiyan's newest transformation. At this rate, not only would he lose the fight and be unable to stall Gohan, but he might do so without ever having provided Buu with any energy. Sure he had plenty of moves he could try, but the simple demonstration of the gap between them... it was enough to shake the confidence of even the King of Demons.
'Master Babidi!' Dabura reached into the back of his mind. 'Can you hear me, master?'
'Yes, Dabura, what is it?' came the reply, a hint of annoyance present.
'Master, I humbly request that our battle be moved to the Demon Realm immediately. This young boy Gohan possesses abilities that pose a challenge even for me.'
'Oh I see,' Babidi responded, as if considering the request. 'And just why would I grant AN IDIOTIC REQUEST LIKE THAT!? IF I SEND YOU TO THE DEMON REALM I WON'T BE ABLE TO COLLECT ANY OF HIS ENERGY FOR MAJIN BUU!'
Dabura winced, having already known this would be the case. 'That is true, master, an unfortunate but necessary sacrifice. However,' he gulped in audible shame, 'I see it as the best viable option. If we continue fighting here...'
'Yes yes, you don't have to spell it out, Dabura. In spite of all of my help, this teenage mortal is apparently still stronger than the King of the Demon Realm!' Babidi's shrill yelling inside of Dabura's mind was like headphones turned up way too loud in his ears. 'So, Majin Buu's not getting his energy no matter what. And if I want Gohan out of the way I'll have to let you fight him down there where you'll be at full power.'
'Well said, master,' the demon replied.
'You'd better not fail me! At least let me know once he's weakened from your battle. I'll teleport you back and we can take whatever energy remains at that point for Buu.'
'Understood, master Babidi. I await your spell.'
Gohan had been observing patiently, but while Dabura had kept his eyes trained on him he'd begun to realize something else was going on.
"Hey, I hope you aren't just trying to stall," Gohan yelled. "Cause if you are, I can end this right here and now. One punch is all I need."
When no reply was given, Gohan began to prepare to do just that — if he wasn't too late already. He'd certainly learned the dangers of inaction and giving an enemy too much time. Experience had been a harsh teacher.
But before he could attack and end the fight, he blinked again through a sudden darkness before his surroundings changed all around him! The rocky landscape had been replaced with something other-worldly. For a moment Gohan almost thought he was back on Planet Namek, but the sky here was a deep purple. Surrounding him he could also feel darkness, as if it had infected everything down to the grass and trees. What was this place?
"Welcome," Dabura cackled. "Welcome to MY home, child. This all around you is the Demon Realm, a plane of existence completely outside of your own. You'll soon realize any perceived advantage you might've held has been utterly forgotten." Dabura spoke slowly now, the ease of his speech belying little to none of his previous fear. And as comfortable as he now was, Gohan was just the opposite.
"This entire realm empowers me," the Demon continued, "it feeds me as it does all beings who embrace their true darker instincts. I can see inside of you, child. Your heart is disgustingly pure and innocent. Your mere presence here will cause a stir that could awaken all matters of curiosities," Dabura laughed, as if picturing his victory already. "Now prepare for whatever feeble attempt to defend your life you can make!"
Gohan was trying to both take in his surroundings and get not only his bearings but also an idea of which direction he might want to head if things took a turn. Unfortunately, he couldn't do either properly because Dabura looked poised to attack at any second and he had to stay on the defensive. But seeing Gohan's eyes hasten from side to side, the demon gave a moment's pause. Perhaps he too wanted to take in the sight.
"By all means," Dabura laughed calmly, relaxing his posture symbolically, "take in the wonder of my home. There is no more beautiful place to my eyes, though I'm sure a mortal of your station would have little appreciation for it."
"It's... not as jarring as you might think," Gohan commented, having read books that described such places in fiction. "I can even think of a few humans back home that would be fascinated with a place like this."
"Amusing," Dabura smirked. "If they did, they'd be no allies of yours."
No matter where Gohan shifted his eyes, the horizon looked equally terrifying. Dark clouds, ominous fog, forests that looked to be haunted or consumed by nightmares, distant outlines of castles with their jagged edges stabbing against the purple sky... there was indeed no hint of respite he could find.
"So then," Gohan asked finally, "why didn't we come here to begin with? Why bother with two different teleportations?"
"An unfortunate oversight," came the reply. "It will not change your fate."
Gohan's harshness as an ascended Super Saiyan had returned to him now, and though all around him was dark and eerie, the golden light of his aura was more illumination than this realm had probably ever seen. He focused and readied himself for anything.
"I see," the Saiyan nodded. Just as he was about to re-engage in battle, the thought had occurred to him that he had no idea how to return to Earth from this place. Even if he were to defeat Dabura, who would apparently be much stronger now, he would likely be stranded without so much as a lead on how to leave. But, that would have to wait. First things first.
"Let our battle resume, then," Dabura announced with a grin.
Space... Earth's outer atmosphere
An alien commander began frustratingly swiping at a tablet before transferring her screen to a bigger display and frantically zooming in and out. She quickly began running a trace program while also pulling up her backup logs and double checking what seemed to be a location icon on a map of the planet.
"What is it, Oniya?" Broly asked.
Her non-answer came as she turned to the android beside her. "C-47, can you confirm my scans of the planet are accurate? Lord Vegeta's signature, can you locate it?"
"Confirmation: The master was last detected somewhere just east of the Southern Continent, near Papaya Island. Approximately 319 seconds ago, it seems his energy signature vanished and has not yet reappeared."
"He's probably just rifting off in space somewhere," Broly laughed it off. "He does that."
"Addendum: Scans indicate the master was engaged in combat just prior to vanishing, though the numbers indicate he was fighting only in his normal state. I recorded no significant depletion to his energy before it suddenly vanished."
"We're too late then," Oniya said aloud, the bridge crew stopping in response to her anxious tone. "Our task may not be so simple. Since we are unable to report directly to Lord Vegeta, prioritize Mrs. Bulma and the master's son. Chief Enforcer Broly, they may already be in danger. Take your leave and see to the neutralization of any threat to them."
"I'll handle it from here. Droid, you're with me."
A small opening at the rear of the ship opened, the shields extending a small amount of atmosphere beyond the ship's emergency hatch. Broly and C-47 immediately exited, flying down towards the planet. Behind them, the full armada of Imperial ships awaited instruction from Commander Oniya.
"All ships form a defensive perimeter and engage planetary scans," she ordered over the comm. "I don't want anything going on down there we aren't aware of. Understood?"
Even as she spoke, there was a sudden chill in the air, a pause in the otherwise busied troops. Soldiers, technicians, crew, navigators, all the men around her had suddenly shut their eyes. All was suddenly silent until a voice began to telepathically connect to them. Oniya heard it too, as if it was speaking both to every Imperial soldier at once and yet, somehow, specifically to her. Her mind flashed with the darkest memories of her life, feelings she had repressed and fears she had long held at bay. The emotional upheaval hit her fiercely, drawing on the hatred she had held for Frieza, following that trail to the annihilation of most of her race — her anger leading to even darker emotions.
Oniya suddenly snapped her eyes open, gasping. She peered around the room, wiping sweat from her forehead as she realized she had collapsed onto her knees. More than half of the men around her were still entranced, with only one or two others managing to save it off as she had. Oniya was clever, it only took her a moment to assess the situation and begin plotting the best and worst case scenarios. As the remaining soldiers around her were suddenly blanketed in dark crackles of lightning, angry groans escaping their throats, Oniya acted on her only viable option. Motioning to the others that had resisted, she led them to the upper portion of the ship where there was a smaller secondary bridge. With a few keystrokes, she detached that portion of the ship from the hull and blasted off.
"Commander?" one of the techs finally dared ask.
"Mind control of some kind," she frantically replied, her fingers glancing across a viewscreen and swiping. Several images appeared of the lead ship's interior, only now the crew seemed to have all returned to normal. "It looks to be over. Notice anything different about the crew?"
"What's that marking on their foreheads? That wasn't there before," a different Imp observed.
Oniya reacted to the comment by hurriedly piloting the small craft out of visible range, hopefully the remaining bulk of force wouldn't notice them. Once she felt they were a safe distance, she returned to her viewscreen, zooming in and observing closely.
"Ensign," she replied. "Find me some kind of black ink and a writing utensil. If we're to make any attempt to regain control of this situation, we're going to need to duplicate that symbol on our own foreheads exactly. And one more thing..." she paused, gulping. "We need to attempt communication with Chief Enforcer Broly. I can only pray he hasn't been affected as well."
Somewhere in deep space, King Cold and Emperor Vegeta stared one another down...
With a loud scoff, Vegeta rolled his eyes and crossed his chest. "You're the bringer of my death, huh?" he repeated Cold's last taunt. "My my, how original. Don't tell me you've been practicing lines for all these years and that's the best you could come up with! Pah!"
King Cold smiled back, shutting his eyes smugly. "I thought it was rather poetic, didn't you? Well, I suppose such a parallel would be utterly wasted on your pitiful primate brain." Cold's dark lips twisted into a frown once more, then he spoke softly. "Although, you're no ordinary monkey are you? No, you're the sole member of your race to ever climb to the top of the barrel. One meager transformation and you suddenly think the Frieza Force is yours to command!?" He glared at the Saiyan then spoke slowly. "I will have it back."
"Seems I've been on someone's mind an awful lot... 'your grace'," Vegeta laughed again. "Can't say that I gave you a second thought after we defeated you on Earth," Vegeta continued with a chuckle. " Well, that's not entirely true. A small part of me did enjoy seeing your sons a few years back... still as bratty and spoiled as ever. I spent some time in the afterlife, briefly, you see. If I recall they were being treated as royalty of your elite status deserves — though surprisingly they didn't seem to be enjoying their eternal torment in Hell.."
"Why you impudent little —" Cold reached out to grab Vegeta by the neck but he side-stepped backwards just in time.
"Careful," the prince cackled. "Might want to keep that temper in check; and here you implied I was the one that was impulsive and unevolved."
"When the great Arcosian race first stepped into the universal spotlight, you and your entire race were nothing but furry little rodents!" Cold yelled in defiance. "I'd have thought even the Kaioshins would know better than to seed a planet with life forms as low as yours."
"And yet here I am. Ruling your former Empire," Vegeta replied with a sweet satisfaction.
"Not for much longer," Cold replied confidently, clenching his fingers into a fist and back out several times. "I will soon see both you and them bow to me once more."
"Oh, is that a fact? And what of the intrepid wizard holding your leash? You think he's just going to look the other way while you take off to rule part of the universe he intends to conquer? Not likely."
"Tch. You really think I would keep something like that from him? Master Babidi and I are in full agreement, and with me as his emissary I will once again return to my seat at the head of the Cold Force!"
"Ah, so you've already conceded my point," replied the prince with a grin. "King Cold, the great and terrible Arcosian, former ruler of the Empire and now... puppet for a pompous whiny wizard twat. I'm sure you would make a fantastic little plaything for him, but I think I — Lord Vegeta — will be holding onto the Empire myself."
"On the contrary," Cold answered coolly, letting a deep purple aura of energy swarm around him, "you won't be keeping anything, not even your head."
Vegeta felt out the energy signature, noting to himself that unlike the last time he'd faced Cold, the ki of his enemy felt controlled and perhaps even restrained. What had been his downfall before seemed to no longer be a weakness to exploit... No doubt Babidi had some part in that. His physical appearance was different also, more akin to that of Cooler's fifth form than anything else he had witnessed. And yet, he'd left the Frost Demons in his wake years and years ago. Their level of power, when he thought back to it now, seemed a meager trifle. Surely Babidi's magic alone wasn't enough to give King Cold strength to get the drop on a Super Saiyan 2. Perhaps the patriarch was an even more fierce warrior than his sons.
"Answer me this then," Vegeta said, his face still and focused. "What kind of father wouldn't give anything and everything for his son!?"
The Saiyan suddenly exploded forwards, managing to catch Cold slightly unprepared this time. Vegeta's right fist struck the Arcosian's jaw, knocking him back and providing the opening for the warrior to chain together several more melee attacks and force the demon to retreat.
"My son still needs me, and I will not rest until I get what I want from your turntail lying master!"
Cold snarled and retaliated, Vegeta blocking a strong punch with his wrists in front of his head. The demon's tail, however, met its mark. The prince's right shoulder was pulverized by the thick appendage sweeping from across his side.
"Your son means nothing! I will personally find and dismember any child of yours once I am finished with you!" the Frost Titan yelled.
Vegeta flew a few meters before righting himself, landing, and firing an energy beam from his right hand. Rather than block the yellow hued ki, King Cold used the armored spikes on his wrists to instead slice through it, where it dissipated on both sides of him.
"And how dare you presume yourself to be a more dedicated father than myself! I will have vengeance for the murder of my sons!"
"I thought you tried that years ago," Vegeta answered, cartwheeling over a boulder and firing several more identical energy balls as he circled his enemy at high speed.
Leaping into the air to get more mobility, King Cold then used both arms as well as his tail to deflect or prematurely detonate each of the incoming ki blasts. Smoke and dust had begun to gather around him, but he was unperturbed. Unlike his son Frieza, he had learned to easily sense the energy of the Saiyan as it darted around him.
"It took three whole Super Saiyans before just to contend with me, and even then you only barely managed to survive," the Frost Demon responded. "What ever will you do all by your lonesome?"
Vegeta circled the debris cloud, continuing to test Cold's endurance. Would the frost titan take any chip damage from the barrage, or was this merely an exercise in wasting his own stamina?
"Pah, as if I need Kakarott or my son here to defeat you!"
Beside the prince's shoulder, striking the energy blast above his hand and dissipating it, came a sudden purple death beam. Cold's aim and timing was startlingly good, and through the limited visibility too.
"Your son? You don't mean to say that sword wielding whelp all those years ago was your offspring? The boy who confronted me in space and lured me to the Earth to begin with..."
Vegeta smiled at the thought. What an insanely stupid decision by Future Trunks, all with the intent to postpone Kakarott's promised demise. But if he hadn't, events might've played out much less favorably for all of them.
"That's right," the Saiyan answered sarcastically. "I certainly hope he wasn't a nuisance to any of your plans!"
Cold ignored the provocation. "Splendid! Yet another thing to look forward to after I've crushed the life out of you. I do so enjoy reunions. Don't worry, I'll be sure to bring him what's left of you so he can pay his respects."
Vegeta fell back a step, concentrating energy in front of his right palm. His left arm braced against the wrist as he unleashed a huge golden ki beam straight ahead. "No need!"
King Cold darted forwards to meet it, blocking boldly with his armored wrists crossed outwardly. The blast was intensely powerful — the Super Saiyan was altogether different than he'd been years ago — but Cold held fast. His fifth form was well suited to protecting against energy attacks, this would be yet another chance to break Vegeta's spirits. Oh how he'd looked forward to this.
The prince grinned excitedly, seeing his opponent take the bait. He suddenly fired a swirl of energy at the end which acted as a sort of plug to tie off the end of the beam and keep its momentum shooting forwards. Then like a dagger, Vegeta dove headfirst into his own attack, swimming through his own golden energy and reabsorbing as much of it into his fist as he could. His head poked through first, right in front of the surprised Frost Demon — followed by a burning white-hot punch that shook the entire planet.
Cold's face mask shattered, the armored cheekbones utterly useless against the magnitude of Vegeta's might. The Ice Titan was gone instantly, launched like a rocket out of sight across the landscape. His body flailed helplessly, smashing through pillars of rock like paper, crashing and penetrating through hills and terrain until finally a mountain swallowed him up underground. A pool of magma, set free by the chaotic disruption, began to roll down into the hole Cold's body had traversed. And for a brief moment, the planet seemed to sigh in relief, hoping the battle had subsided.
Vegeta levitated just above where he'd last spotted his enemy, trying to keep a fix on his energy signature. Vegeta himself had been buried deep underground in battle before. It was dark and constricting from all the tons and tons of rock, limestone, and soil above you. There wasn't any air, it was hard to get your bearings, to even move. And yet it never seemed to be the final end, it usually just enraged a fighter... The anger was no doubt building in Cold now. Any second the titan would burst out of the ground, announcing his presence by shaking the entire continent as he smashed his way free. That's when Vegeta had to time his next strike.
Nearby, a geyser of lava shot up into the air beside Vegeta. The heat it gave off radiated on his face, causing his golden hued aura to appear as a bright orange momentarily. Another spurt of molten red shot up to his left, fifty feet into the air at least. This planet, whatever it was called, was definitely showing signs of wear.
Suddenly, from inside one of the cones of magma, King Cold shot out unexpectedly. His light purple body was now white-hot, steam rising from his flesh, rather than melt or burn him the lava seemed to have only sharped him like a blade. He speed blitzed the Saiyan, tackling Vegeta out of the air and to the ground below. The prince reacted by extending his protective aura as well as he could over his body, but the demon's searing hot fingers gripped onto him tightly — Vegeta could already feel the burns on his skin.
The pair rolled together, scrapping and pushing, one trying to wrestle free and the other trying to pin down. Vegeta was glad in moments like this that he wore gloves, which provided at least some insulation from the extreme heat — it was as if Cold's entire body was a hot iron, ready to imprint an insignia. The prince began grabbing at any of the horned spikes he could, using the leverage they garnered both to avoid being stabbed and to try and twist the giant titan off of him.
King Cold kept his focus on the Saiyan's head, his most vulnerable and unprotected area. Perhaps he could gouge out an eye. Vegeta suddenly found the leverage he was looking for, restraining one of Cold's giant arms behind the demon and managing to weasel outside of his grasp. Now free, the prince coughed and gasped, scrambling to his feet and trying to put some distance between them. But Cold pursued.
The Majin leapt at him again, while Vegeta barely evaded, still trying to catch his breath. After a second failed attempt, Cold then slashed into one of the nearby lava plumes with his tail — scattering a trail of liquid magma towards Vegeta. The distraction worked; while the Saiyan quickly blasted it with ki, King Cold was able to again close the distance and this time tackled Vegeta by his feet.
Blood. With a quick stab, the Frost Demon planted one of the spikes from his wrist into Vegeta's thigh. Rather than yelling from the pain or shock, Vegeta instead let it fuel his Saiyan wrath. With his free leg, the Saiyan then repeatedly kicked Cold's arm — until the wrist spike pinning him down actually snapped, breaking off and freeing his movement. He spun, kicking Cold in the face, and then reached down to his own thigh to remove the armored appendage. The damage wasn't too bad, but he could feel a significant loss of strength in that entire leg. Quickly, Vegeta used his ki to sear the wound shut and refocused on his enemy.
King Cold was grasping at his wrist, rubbing with his other arm — a brief respite for them both. Vegeta didn't know much about the biology of Frieza's family, but their transformations had demonstrated extreme physical versatility and adaptability. In fact, it was almost as if they grew armor plating biologically. Presenting new evidence to support this, the Arcosian then grabbed onto the wrist armor that had just broken and ripped it off his flesh as if he were discarding a glove or gauntlet. A gross viscous liquid from beneath the plating covered the wrist that had just been revealed. Cold wiped it clean and stretched it before returning his attention to Vegeta.
"You're quite scrappy for a Saiyan," he chuckled, hardening his gaze. "Certainly not making this easy for me. All the more entertaining when the prey thinks it has a chance..."
Vegeta stared silently, thinking. In terms of brute strength, Cold had seemed to have the edge on him this entire time. Now, he could add stamina to that equation as well, with the lessened viability of his left leg. He'd definitely gotten in some good blows, but at this rate he knew... he was going to lose.
How had Cold, even with Babidi's aid, managed to increase his power this much? Had he actually trained to achieve this strength? His fighting instincts certainly weren't that of someone whose last battle was a decade ago. Vegeta cursed inwardly. It didn't matter how Cold had gotten this strong, all that mattered was winning. Loathe as he was to admit it to himself, he'd hit a wall in his training, a ceiling to his Super Saiyan two power. Maybe there was a way to ascend further, but his efforts to do so had been an utter failure. Besides, this wasn't so out of hand yet that he had no options. So far, this entire fight had gone according to Cold's plan, probably something he and Babidi had scripted to the detail. It was time Vegeta changed the game.
The Saiyan reached down to his chest, grabbing his formerly blue undershirt, now charred black. He ripped the smoldering garment off, revealing burn marks all over his muscular upper body.
"Arcosian." His tone was threatening, voice unwavering. "I want you to know, you mean absolutely nothing to me. I don't care about you, your sons, your vendetta or whatever this is. I am a warrior, and the only thing you are right now," he paused briefly, "...is in my way."
King Cold's eyebrow twitched at the remark. Whatever his feelings on the statement, he was clearly not expecting it.
"Tell me where I can find your master. Where is Babidi?" he said slowly, giving off the impression that this fight really did mean nothing to him.
The Frost Demon waited a moment, if only to appear like he was considering the request. When the air was silent all around him, his deep voice came from twisted purple lips.
"I think not."
The Saiyan's eyes remained trained on his enemy, unflinching. "I was hoping you'd say that," came Vegeta's smug reply.
Without warning, the Saiyan opened his palms, revealing he had been charging a vast amount of energy. Cold hopped into a defensive position, firing up his aura. But Vegeta cupped his hands together and instead fired a concentrated ki beam straight downwards. His blast obliterated the surface, shooting downwards and straight through the planet's core!
Cold's eyes shot wide. "Fool, what are you doing!"
Vegeta merely continued the blast until it had pierced the entire diameter of the planet, from surface to surface. "Unlike your son, I actually know how and when to destroy a planet. I'm no expert, but I'd say around five seconds until it blows. Feel free to die or at least never show your face again, I have business to attend to back on Earth."
The warrior then tore open a spacial rift and vanished, leaving King Cold alone to suffer the planet's doom. As he left, he felt a particular satisfaction with his cunning, then focused on finding the highest energy signature on Earth. Surely Kakarott would know what's going on.
A brownish purple ball sat in front of Babidi, its outside covered in thick veins that protruded over the surface. Over the past few moments, strange sounds had begun to emerge from within the giant cocoon, like internal organs squishing together, expanding in and out. A small gage at its base had a needle indicating another surge of energy had just been collected.
Babidi stared in near disbelief. Even without any energy at all from Son Gohan, Buu's ball was only a fraction away from being completely full! His elation could hardly be contained, he was so very close to getting what he'd wished for all these years. King Cold would need to be rewarded for his extraordinary work against Vegeta!
Unexpectedly, a sudden kaia wave knocked the wizard off balance. What was going on? He spun to his crystal balls, seeing that — somehow, inexplicably — two of Earth's warriors had managed to defeat not only Yakkon, but all the remaining members of his species that had been with him. How was that possible? His research had indicated only Vegeta or Gohan would be capable of something like that!
"No no no!" he screamed, scurrying over near Buu's cocoon. "That means there's no one but Pui Pui as a last line of defense."
Quickly, the wizard switched to one of his backup contingencies. He would grab what he could and teleport away with Buu. Just a short bit of hiding and his ultimate warrior would emerge and put an end to all of this.
Suddenly, a distressed voice made contact with him telepathically, panting.
"Master, I have failed you..." King Cold apologized. "Vegeta has escaped me and is headed back to Earth. He destroyed the planet we were on and teleported away!"
Babidi swore, desperately trying to save his own skin, but he mumbled a quick phrase that apparated King Cold back in front of him. The Frost Demon looked terrible, like he'd indeed just taken a beating and then a planetary explosion to the face. Still, having Cold was better than nothing.
"Stall them if you can," Babidi said, touching Buu's ball and suddenly teleporting somewhere unknown with his prized cocoon. Cold was left alone, still trying to catch his breath, surrounded by Babidi's library of ancient texts and obscure collection of artifacts.
"Hey, you!" came the voice of Goku, the Saiyan rushing into the room, followed by Piccolo. Yakkon's carcass could be seen behind him, along with a few others like the dangerous reptilian light-eater. "Cold? Where's Babidi?"
Not more than a half-second later, another familiar face appeared from a rift beside Goku. The shirtless Saiyan prince stepped forth from a rift, crossing his arms over his bare chest.
"We just missed him," Vegeta growled, fixing his eyes on Cold — he could tell the frost demon's energy reserves had taken a plunge from planetary explosion. "And as for you, I thought I just told you to never show your face again. Too bad," Vegeta grinned, spreading his arms wide and forming two golden globes of energy. "This time I won't be leaving any chance you can come back."
Cold gulped audibly, backing against the wall, putting his hands in front of him as if to beckon for mercy.
Piccolo and Goku recognized the technique immediately, and it was the Namekian who had the sense about him to search the room for anything valuable before it was all completely obliterated. On the desk were two glass bottles, filled with dust, that drew his attention — he felt an odd energy coming off them. Piccolo grabbed both, along with a couple books and important looking scrolls, before retreating behind Vegeta and Goku.
Thanks for supporting Bringer of Death. A few author's notes here. I think it's important to mention that I did struggle with writing Hercule's part of this chapter. The plan has always been to have his arc lead him back to being on the side of good, but with the personal nature of many of his sins towards Videl this was a challenge. In many ways it reminds me of Endeavor from Boku no Hero, as he struggles to be forgiven by his family for the terrible things he did. Videl is an extremely forgiving person, and her kindness here might not be understandable or justified to everyone. But that's one of the great things about forgiveness, it isn't always deserved but we all at some point or another need it. Also, it's fair to say, Videl and Hercule still have things to work through in the future.
My notes on the Gohan fight are simple. His training is like memorizing a tough song on guitar. If you don't pick it up and play it once every couple of weeks, you'll forget it. But as long as you don't go too long without exercising that muscle memory you can still get it back. Gohan, over the 7 years since the Perfect Tournament, kept up his workouts just enough. As a result, he didn't lose his edge, and he also grew much more powerful due to having an adult body. Had this version of Gohan faced Dabura in DBZ, he would've annihilated him as easily as Vegeta or Goku.
Vegeta vs. Cold felt like no other fight I've written. Very physical, messy and scrappy, neither one of them holding back or messing around. I hope it didn't seem too short, but it wasn't the long format kind of fight. There was a ton of damage done to Vegeta, the Z fighters are just fortunate that no energy was lost by Gohan or Buu would already be on the loose.
A final note, our BoD Facebook page was recently taken down, for reasons unknown to me. I am appealing and trying to get it restored but have no idea if that will come back. In the meantime, we do have a discord server where it is much easier to contact me. The url for discord plus /vUWJNZM5JZ will give you an invite to our discord community. As always, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and feel free to ask questions if you leave a review!
Q: I noticed you had mentioned a Facebook Group and a Discord Server, however I was unable to find your group on Facebook, has it been deleted or restricted since this chapter was posted?
A: About 3 weeks ago, Facebook unposted our page saying we violated community standards. I highly doubt we did anything to that effect and am trying to protest. In the meantime, I'm looking for another place to post the link for our Discord server.
Q: So when do you expect bringer of death to speed up somewhat? Is something more happening or are you just still preparing to eventually pick up the pace.
A: This may not be what you want to hear but, I don't think it's a matter of when. I am committed to writing when I'm able, that's the most I can promise.
Q: When I first watched Dragon Ball Super Superhero (god that name) the literal first thing that I thought when I watched Orange Piccolo (god that name) for the first time was "Oh my god. A new Piccolo form that he obtains thanks to a power-up by a Dragon. Bringer of Death did it first!" It was amazing. What was your and/or David's reaction? After seeing this new form for Piccolo, do you plan on implementing it with Shin Piccolo? Also, what do you think about the whole "Upgrading Shenron in a way that even Kami didn't know, with some water, and then not specifying what you even upgraded in the first place"?
A: I definitely drew the same comparisons. The problem with implementing anything introduced in Super is that you invite all the logic used, or lack thereof, in that transformation or form. If there ends up being a similarity between orange piccolo and our form, that will be added in the future and is an adaptation of the new content and not our original plan. For upgrading Shenron, I think there's a lot Kami didn't know. That's not the issue, it's the lack of explanations that bother me.
Q: 5 days…after 5 days of reading I'm finally free. My eyes burn, but not out of pain, no they burn because of the magnificentness of this story…Yeah anyway this is a really good story, but I have been having issues finding other good dbz stories. Any recommendations?
A: Thanks for reading the whole story so far! Very glad you enjoyed it. I've not been able to re-read the story in years, or really any new fanfics for that matter, sorry.
Q: As Super Kaio-ken is now an established thing in canon, are there any plans of possibly using the transformation in the future of this story. And if this already has been answered in the story (as I am still only catching up on it) would you as a writer have included it in the story from the get-go?
A: Well, it's a part of Super yes, but a part of me still feels like there's a distinction between Z canon and Super canon. We do have a theory for why Blue and Kaioken work together, but SSj and Kaioken do not — to which this story still holds. Definitely wouldn't change anything we have done, though.
Q: I would like to say that your entire story is nothing short of excellent! Don't worry about the length of time between the updates. Life always hits us with these obstacles that we all have to go through, and there should be no need to suffer even more just to upload a chapter when you're not ready. Hope everything gets better from here on out! Take your time with your priorities first, and come back once you feel you're fully confident to do so again.
A: Very kind of you to say. We both still hope to be able to finish BoD one day.
Q: Being Slavic myself I find the Drakoshin tongue pretty amusing at times, specifically when Babidi uses it. In a few instances it sounds like he's just speaking in broken Seriban/Croatian. I don't mean any of this as a knock against the story of course, it makes me happy to see a language I'm familiar with being used for a magical, ancient language. A lot of the time, people just default to German or Latin or something.
A: Fascinating to hear from someone that recognized the Serbian roots to the Drakoshin language! We're thrilled that you were able to pick up on that!
Q: About the genki dama, it's a supposition I don't actually find on any actual fact, just memory of the show but... genki is an energy which is especially useful against evil, like kid buu, and this dragonspawn is just not really evil. So is that why it did not destroy him entirely?
A: That is correct. Genki is life energy, and the Spirit Bomb uses that ki in a way that is different from normal ki attacks. There are theories that it allowed Goku to defeat Buu and he wouldn't have died by an equivalent ki blast made of normal ki. I don't hold to that theory, but I do think it was super effective in canon against him. For the dragonspawn, whether or not he is evil is up to you to decide. I think you're onto something.
Q: Does Ki have healing properties? Goku did revive a bird by infusing it with some of his Ki in "Coolers Revenge".
A: Yes and no. Characters need ki to live and the bird was nearly dead, giving it some ki may have kickstarted it, so to speak. Also, this was SSj Ki. In the film it seems as if it's meant to imply Goku as a legendary hero that cares about even animals. So with that in mind, they probably took a little liberty. Giving ki to another living being would strengthen and restore them, but I think its healing effects would be limited.
Q: Are universes and timelines the same thing or different in Bringer of Death? In DB Multiverse, they are the same thing. But in manga and anime, they are separate, twelve universes in one timeline and two different timelines and whatnot!
A: Super sets up each Universe as completely different and unrelated to each other, existing simultaneously, independently of one another but connected. Obviously, branching time travel rules dictate something similar. So in BoD, it doesn't matter what we call them, the future timeline still exists alongside the main one. It would be interesting to explore though...
Q: Have you been keeping up with the manga releases for Super? Thoughts on Ultra Ego? Also, do you think you might end up going beyond the Buu Arc into Super?
A: Ultra Ego is pretty cool, glad they gave Vegeta something unique. It needs to be much better explained though, we don't know how he goes from more damage making him stronger to suddenly collapsing. What's the threshold where it's too much? Purely based off stamina?
Q: Piccolo's enhanced hearing. He could hear 18's flirty whispering with Krillin. Wouldn't it be safe to assume he also heard Goku and Vegeta's exchange, and their sudden shift in opinion after Babidi messed with their heads, since he only did so to the saiyans and Videl? I guess you could argue he wasn't paying attention, but I expected a line or two from Piccolo at least raising his brow wondering what the hell happened for such a sudden shift.
A: Piccolo had left to use his powers of observation to find Babidi, doing exactly as you suggest. I think he did indeed hear them and came as fast as he could.
Q: And Cold. Man, I didn't expect him to be one of Babidi's servants. Now, this isn't DBM Cold who has a much more competent soul using his body. And your story isn't ignoring Super elements like DBM is. However, you do integrate interesting elements from any Dragon Ball source that you can make good use of. In other words... just what is this version of Cold capable of? He seems to have dealt real damage to Vegeta, even if he was caught unprepared. You described a purple forearm with a single spike, and him being massive (which is a truth no matter what form he's in). Assuming Cold uses the same design here as his DBM version does (which is a fantastic design)... purple skin would mean he's using the same 5th form as Cooler, or the DBM original 6th form - as I refuse to believe he'd be at this level of power in any form below his 4th. However, even DBM's Ginyu using Cold's trained body was estimated to be around canon Perfect Cell's level of power, a Majin boost wouldn't put him on par with post-Perfect Tournament Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta... so I can only assume this massive difference in power comes from Babidi's artifact greatly enhancing his magic capabilities. But what I'm really wondering is... if you're taking elements from Super... could Cold, in theory, stack Golden form on top of whatever he's currently using?
A: Well, while Ginyu is a competent fighter who had done well in DBM, I think King Cold himself is not to be underestimated. It is implied in the chapter that he trained for years alongside Babidi, and he reaches a level of power here with just his 5th form that it took DBM Cold a 6th form to achieve. Now, admittedly, Babidi's powerup is also greater due to the Drakoshin artifact, but not so much as to close that gap.
But the point of Cold's return in this chapter was twofold. First, he represented the past and gave Vegeta a chance to reflect — and by the end of the fight, Vegeta has gone through the full spectrum of his arc and remembered who he is today. He might've acted very differently years ago. Second, Cold was Babidi's main instrument in acquiring energy for Buu.
Regarding Golden form, I think that was unique to Frieza, he sort of willed it to happen and become gold to spite the Saiyans. His father might be able to create something similar but he is about to die to a Final Flash, so we may never know.
Q: It seems Goku and Vegeta are just cursed to never have a proper fight, aren't they? The cornerstone of their rivalry is that the score will never be settled. Fate will always find a way to rob both of them.
A: Yes. It's the definitive never-ending rivalry. Neither will stop trying to outdo the other, unless we get unexpected character development at the end of the series.
Q: Do the Super Dragon Balls exist in Bringer of Death? Could the wishes granted by Super Shenron affect Majcnavn?
A: Tough question. If they do exist, that would have certain implications about Zalama the Super Dragon. I think it's possible, it doesn't break the lore that David and I wrote for the dragonballs that I know of. Once the story reaches a point where that lore is all out there, you can ask me again.
Q: Since Broly's been reintroduced to Dragon Ball with his new DBS counterpart, how would you have utilized that version of the character if you had written Bringer of Death ten years later? Would you have still used his DBZ version?
A: He wouldn't be able to be introduced as a character until literally the DBS era. I like that the newer version gets sanity and appreciation at the end, plus a potential girlfriend, but I still feel like he needs development. We don't exactly know what DBS Broly wants to do or is after long term. I would bet money they plan to continue with another Broly movie though.