Otherworld Saga, Part 1: Into the Light
The evening air whipped cooly against Vegeta's face as he streaked skyward. He could hear Cell grunting furiously and straining against his restraints, but the creature's groans seemed muffled and far away. The sun was almost setting over the cratered battleground now, and more and more stars were becoming visible as the prince shot up through the upper layers of the atmosphere—on, bravely and boldly—to whatever mysteries waited on the other side.
There was a surreal note to it all, as if he were already dead. As if the deed had been done aeons ago, and he was only a spectator to the memory. As if this same drama had played out over and over a hundred million times on a hundred million worlds, and he and Cell were merely actors playing their assigned roles.
But a warmth still filled him, warmer and deeper than the hum of energy from the brat. Not even the merest whisper of a doubt had entered his mind; he knew for absolute certain that this was the decision he would make over and over again. He would change nothing. His confidence was complete, his pride vindicated like never before. A smile played on his face, one of relief and satisfaction...and faith.
Then the moment was passed and everything shifted back into focus. His duty was not complete; the explosion had not yet happened. His arms rippled with strength as they contracted more tightly around Cell, a satisfying crunch giving testimony to the way the bio-android's exoskeleton was slowly being crushed. He was in the here and now, awake and alive if only for a few more moments. It didn't matter what happened after, whether he would meet Kakarott after death. He would not let daydreams about the other side cloud his mind, not now when he had so little time left.
"You really think you'll destroy me, Vegeta!?"
Cell's features were now twisted beyond recognition, his throat and face bloated and his voice more monstrous and beastly than it had ever been. Blood poured out of the cracks in his exoskeleton, down over Vegeta's arms. Foam dripped from Cell's mouth and his eyes bulged. "You can't destroy me! I'll come back, just like I always have! You've failed again, stupid prince—I swear it! And when I return, I'll disembowel every person you ever cared about, starting with that blue-haired bitc—"
Vegeta's last word, whispered with a smile just softly enough to be heard, echoed through Cell's ears. Fear gripped the monster, and his face revealed an instant of panic which the prince found perfectly and completely satisfying. It lasted for a split second, and then overwhelming red-gold light engulfed and enveloped it and washed it away.
'It is finished,' Vegeta thought. The glorious roaring brilliance gave way to darkness, and the darkness accepted him as gently and calmly as if he were merely slipping into a long and peaceful slumber.
The intense golden light from Vegeta's final blast blanketed the entire landscape. To the Z Fighters, it was as if they had emerged suddenly from a dark room into a bright summer afternoon. They closed and covered their eyes, but it wasn't enough—the image had already been burned into their vision. After what seemed like forever, the deafening roar of thunder reached them and rushed out across the horizon with a rumble that went on and on in their ears even after it had subsided.
Gohan could feel his heart pounding in the left side of his chest, racing at such speeds that he could hardly block out its thumping. His ears were hot, his vision still blurry, but as he looked up into the canopy above he just glimpsed the last flicker of orange vanish. No one needed ask him, nor ask each other—they all began immediately to reach out with their senses. The boy emptied his mind and closed his eyes, extending his consciousness outward as he searched. From the smoke trails that loomed on the horizon to the smell of singed earth and sky, he felt it all. Diligently the boy searched, forced his mind to linger on every small detail—Cell would not escape him this time. When no disruption was felt, he and the other Z fighters turned their eyes skyward, to the silent sentinels above.
None of them wanted to speak first. An apprehension hung over the battlefield, the feeling that Cell would return the instant the silence was broken. His hatred and malice seemed so pervasive, and he had returned from the grave more times than any of them could count. His evil laughter still echoed in their minds—it wasn't difficult to imagine him revealing his newly regenerated body, this time stronger than ever. But with every passing instant, they dared new hope.
"I don't want to tempt fate, guys," Gohan finally ventured, his breathing still shallow, his words barely above a whisper. "But I...I think if Cell was still alive he'd be back by now."
Krillin gulped audibly, a large drop of sweat rolling down his forehead and between his eyes. He glanced down at 18—her every hope of survival, of a future, resting in the single hope that Cell was truly defeated. To the girl's left, all three of Tien's eyes remained shut as his broken body rested—Yamcha, in a similar condition, was merely a few feet further away. Silently, he prayed that this time was going to be different.
"There is no reason for him to stay away," said Piccolo Katanaji. "He has had ample time to regenerate; if he had, we would all be dead." His expression still hadn't changed. "None of us have the strength to stand in his way, and he knows it...I can't think of why he would wait."
Even so, the Namek was wary. He had been fooled too many times by the monster who carried his DNA. He called on every last strand of perceptive ability he had, even tapping into the lingering powers Kami had used as the guardian of Earth. He would not allow himself to be lulled into a false sense of security. "We all know how crafty Cell can be, concealing his energy, disguising himself, waiting until we let down our guard—we have to stay focused, kid."
The boy knew no reply was needed. He merely had to keep searching—how long, he didn't know...but he would be alert as long as it took.
'Hey, guys!' A cheerful, high-pitched voice burst into each of their thoughts, causing Gohan's eyes to widen. Trunks and Piccolo III both perked up as well. 'Well, you all might not believe it,' King Kai said, almost giddy, 'but guess who just showed up here in Otherworld?! And boy was he madder than an overworked ogre, heh!'
"Was it...Cell?" Krillin breathed aloud.
'Who else would it be, Krillin?' the blue-skinned deity snickered. 'I may have had my doubts like the rest of you, but it looks like Vegeta finished him off for good this time. Saying we're all relieved up here would be an understatement.'
"If that's not the biggest understatement I've heard in my life," Krillin grinned, collapsing backwards in relaxation. The rocky ground embraced his worn body, its crusty hardness providing, at the very least, a firm place to lie down.
Trunks felt his eyes beginning to water again—he quickly arrested his display of emotion before anyone could see. Still, the weight of the moment, both the finality and the significance, were overwhelming. 'You did it, father. You gave up everything, and in the end, it wasn't for nothing. And now... It's really...over.'
"So this time...he's really not coming back?" Gohan said hesitantly, his young mind almost untrusting of the good news. "Cell's...dead, you're sure of it?"
'About as sure as I can be, seeing as how I just peeped in on King Yemma forcing him down into Hell. It seems even in death that monster still refuses to clean up his act...though I guess his ego was just so big he never imagined he'd actually lose.'
"Not surprising," Piccolo added. "But are you sure Hell is strong enough to contain him?"
'Oh definitely,' the Kai chuckled. 'Hell was created by the ancient Kaioshins, fitted with magical barriers stronger than anything you could imagine. Though I expect he'll certainly try, Cell's not getting out of there, no matter what. But just in case, I'll have Goku ready to go down there and teach him a lesson.'
"My dad's with you up there? Is he doing ok?" Gohan asked.
'Oh, sure. I'm not positive where he is at the moment, since he assumes that his instant transmission gives him the right to just barge into whatever holy sections of Otherworld he pleases,' King Kai said with a little annoyance. 'I should maybe have a talk with him about all that...there are lots of ways he could get in trouble if he doesn't show the proper respect.'
"Oh, ok," the half-Saiyan muttered sadly.
'Don't worry, kid. I'm sure your dad means to check up on all of you soon, he's probably just off looking for something to eat.'
"Well, tell him we're gonna go to Namek as soon as we can and wish him and Vegeta both back with the Dragonballs!" Gohan said, sounding much more confident now.
'Oh, yes, I nearly forgot about that being a possibility. I'll pass that along to him—he'll be excited, I'm sure. Speaking of the Nameks, you all look like you could use some healing!'
"Right. We'll head to the Lookout and get fixed up right away. Thanks again, King Kai."
'You're welcome, kid. I'm just impressed your father could raise such a well-mannered boy,' the god of the North concluded with a snicker, his thoughts trailing off from all.
Suddenly, just as before, everything was peaceful once again. The sun had set completely now, only stars flickering boldly where the golden explosion had been only minutes earlier. The darkness brought a chill to the air, washing over them all. The feeling lingered just a few seconds longer...and then a yellow hovercraft appeared on its way toward the group of fighters, breaking the tranquility.
"Leave it to Bulma to show up with her copter and ruin a perfectly good moment of silence," Krillin commented, pushing himself back up. The movement was accompanied by a good bit of pain, but he didn't care. "Oh well—it'll make the trip to Dende's a little easier and everyone will be much more comfortable than if we had to carry them. Plus, I'm not sure if I have the strength to fly that far anyway."
"Yeah. I feel like I never want to move again," Trunks agreed, trying to hold his body in place so as to not mess with the alignment of anything. The dried blood crusted onto his skin almost felt soothing, like a sort of cast holding everything together—one false move and his body would surely crumble like an old tower.
Piccolo and his clone counterpart each reached down and helped a fighter onto their shoulders, while Krillin did his best to gently pick up 18.
"TRUNKS!" the distinct voice of Bulma Briefs rang out with a panicked vibration. Throwing open the cockpit door, the youth's mother came sprinting at him full speed.
"Wait, mother! Please," he begged, daring to hold his hands up and try to stop her from tackling him.
Her hug, while initially jarring and painful, actually managed to pop his back in several places—relieving some of the pain and allowing him the confidence to walk again.
"Trunks..." she sobbed into his torn armor, the black sleeves stained with dust, dirt, and blood. "You don't know how worried I was about you."
"It's alright, Mom. Everything's going to be fine now," he comforted with a smile. Her body, while warm and soft, was trembling nonetheless. Perhaps that lingering sensation of fear or a mother's adrenaline, raging to protect her child—whatever it was, Trunks knew it was now his sole duty to console her. "We're safe. The last of Doctor Gero's evil creations has finally been destroyed."
She raised her watery eyes up to meet his. "That's wonderful, Trunks."
"It's a miracle, mother. There's no other way I can think of putting it," he said. Somehow, though, whether in his tone or his demeanor, she could tell that there was something off about him. "But," he continued, "even miracles come at their price."
Sensing a sudden angst, Bulma quickly began looking around, taking a mental tally of who was or wasn't present. It hit her suddenly, the woman's face turning stone cold as she couldn't find the Saiyan.
"Goku..." she gulped, "where's...where's Goku, Trunks?"
'Shit!' the young man thought in surprise. 'She must have never known about the Father's return! Man, when she hears this, it's going to destroy her.'
"Listen, Mother, I have some news and it's not going to be easy to hear." Even as he began to speak, her tears returned as she grabbed two handfuls of his torn shirt. "During the battle against Cell, Goku was..." Trunks paused, thinking if there was any better way to put it. "He saved the entire planet, Mom..."
"You don't have to say it, son," she interrupted through her sobs. "I know better than anyone that Goku would pay any price to keep us safe. And in the end, I'm not surprised that he's the one who made that sacrifice."
Trunks didn't know quite what to say. "Well, Mom...see, that's the thing..." Looking around at the others as if to seek advice, the youth finally turned back to his mother. "There's no easy way for me to say this, Bulma," he said, his tone suddenly different. He never called her Bulma, ever. Even though she wasn't the mother who had raised him, he had always treated her as if she were. Trunks brought his hands up onto his mother's shoulders, holding her tightly. "Mother, Goku isn't the one who beat Cell—and it wasn't Gohan either."
"Then...it was you?" she said, her mind refusing to deduce what he was getting at, as if held back by denial. "Is that what you're saying, son? You beat Cell?"
"No, mother. The person who beat Cell...is someone who showed up right when all hope seemed lost. We were all down and out, every last one of us. Even Gohan was helpless."
So it was true. Deep down, she felt as if she had already known, as if the dreadful unavoidability of it all had been settled in her mind long before. But was it only a feeling? Everything was so unclear...as long as a sliver of hope remained, she wouldn't speak her fears. Giving voice to them would only make it all the more real.
"...so, who was it, Trunks? Is this person here now?" she finally asked, still hoping against hope.
"No, Mom. He isn't here now. The one who saved us all...he came out of nowhere. He had Cell cornered and outmatched, it was too good to be true—his timing, his overwhelming strength. He didn't make the mistakes the rest of us made, he wasn't fooled or tricked by Cell's sneakiness." Trunks paused, wishing somehow that he could just end the story there. Why, oh why, couldn't it have just ended there? "But...in the end, it still cost him everything in order to win."
Suddenly, she couldn't take it any longer. She knew, she knew, and it had to be out in the open. "Trunks, what happened? Tell me!" Her breath came heavier and tears were making their way down her cheeks. "Say it already, damn it!" She was shaking her son with both hands now, as if she could force the words out of him.
Trunks did his best to remain calm. "He gave me a message for you, Mom...before he died. The future you, actually, but...I think...it still applies. Given what he did—the way he sacrificed himself for us all—it's only right. I still can't believe he actually did it."
Damn it, he wasn't going to say it. Was he really going to force her to put it into words? "So...it was...your father, Trunks?" Her voice was the slightest of whispers.
"He saved us all, Mother," Trunks answered softly. "Father knew there was only one sure way to destroy Cell for good, and he'd have to be there personally to make sure he didn't pull any last minute tricks to escape."
"He grabbed hold of Cell and flew up into the atmosphere where the explosion wouldn't harm anyone else. That's the last time any of us saw him."
The last time….
"Look at me," the Saiyan had said. "You worry too much. This will probably turn out to be nothing, and I'll be back before Cell ever thinks of returning."
"Stay safe," she had said.
Bulma's face was frozen as her mind played her last moments with Vegeta over and over. Clearly, he had achieved his goal, returning triumphant only to sacrifice everything against Cell.
Her eyes were vacant, lost in recollection of that face, the face of her prince, the hard Saiyan warrior whom she'd learned to love. Already the angle of his jaw and the shape of his eyes grew harder to recall, as if a fog was shrouding his memory. The distance between them had been light years, he'd been off-planet for more than a week...it was almost as if he'd died the very moment his ship left the Earth. How and when had he returned anyway? It didn't matter—she couldn't think straight.
All that emotion suddenly rushed to her. It had been delayed briefly as she took it in, but now the full force of her loss brought her to her knees. She shut her eyes, burying her head in her son's side as she pleaded for it to not be true. Saying his name over and over didn't seem to help her feel better, it just seemed like the only thing to do.
"It's going to be all right, Mom," Trunks said gently. He placed his hand on her shoulder as comfortingly as he could. "He wanted to do this, nobody forced it on him. He did it for you, you know."
She paused a moment, staring blankly ahead. "The fact that...that man...could ever do something so noble...it's...incredible. I guess it's been such a growing process with him that I took all his change for granted. Bit by bit, he's turned into more than a good man—he's a good father, he's a true hero."
"He's all that and more, Mother. His last words to me, were to tell you how proud he is..." he paused, gulping to stifle a new wave of emotions, "...of me."
Bulma stood back to her feet, almost serene in contrast to her outburst of tears just moments before. She dried her tears with the back of her sleeve, determined not to shed another tear. There would be more time to grieve later, she knew. For now, they had friends who needed tending to, and she knew they were all waiting on her.
"That's just like your father, Trunks," she said, finding the will to smile wistfully. "I've known all along he had this potential, it just took everyone else a lot longer to see what I've always seen in him."
"And for him to realize it himself," Trunks added.
She allowed herself to laugh sadly. "That's the truth. Doesn't mean he will admit it the next time we talk, though. After we revive him with the dragon balls." Reminding herself of the dragon balls didn't immediately sate her grief, but the mere hope of his return was enough to motivate her to keep going.
"Right, Gohan already mentioned we should do that for both him and Goku. Trouble is, how are we going to get to Namek without Instant Transmission? I guess I could use my time machine if I had to, it would just drain the charge."
"Oh, is that all?" she asked. "You just leave that to me, son. We're not gonna be stuck without a way to get to Namek, like we were in your time. And hey, didn't Goku fix that little problem for you?" she smiled, reminding her son with pride. "By now I bet you'll return home to find all of your friends and family wished back safe and sound!"
"Maybe so," Trunks smiled.
"Either way, we've got to get you and everyone else patched up before you can go home," the blue-haired woman said. Clearly, her mood had shifted dramatically from moments before. It was as if her pride in Vegeta's final act almost made up for losing him, if only temporarily. "So, let's hurry up to the lookout, then."
After dropping off the others at the Lookout and Krillin getting a quick healing from Dende, it was clear to Bulma that both cyborgs needed immediate extensive repairs.
"Well then, let's get you and 18 back to the lab...I've got a few things I need to check on for your own systems, make sure they're okay. And then I can get to 18..." Bulma shuddered at the thought of that vile monster discharging the young woman in an undignified heap.
"Don't worry about me, Bulma. I feel fine now, thanks to Dende, but 18 doesn't look so good."
"Alright, if you insist."
"Yeah, I mean she's in critical condition, while I'm already in the clear."
"Actually, there could be a lot more wrong with your new systems than we realize at the moment, I just didn't want to worry you. But of course I'll work on 18 first."
"I can't thank you enough, Bulma..." Krillin said, his hand resting on 18's shoulder, as she lay still and unmoving, wrapped in a blanket. Touching her almost made him feel guilty, as if she wouldn't approve, but he assured himself he was only looking out for her as a friend. In his mind, he imagined her opening up her eyes, seeing him there, and smiling—but even that idle daydream caused him to feel more nervous.
"It's nothing, Krillin," Bulma said carelessly, interrupting his thoughts. "...Uh, not that it's not important," she quickly added, noting his reaction. "I may be the only one who can help her, because of Capsule Corp's tech and resources, but it's really no problem at all. Besides, from what I recall she had quite the change of heart before Cell swallowed her up."
"Yeah, she sure did," the bald monk laughed weakly, despite his ennervated state.
"She's one of the good guys now, and we look out for each other," Bulma added, reaching for a type of electrical scanner that looked important. "But look at you being all noble and insisting I work on her first. You sure are being a good friend, aren't you?" she joked, causing the bald monk to immediately blush.
"Right...noble," he stuttered. "Anyway, thanks again, Bulma. Right now, we both owe you everything. Of course, I'm only speaking for myself, but I'll bet that when 18 wakes up, she'll thank you too."
"I'm not in it for the thanks, but I bet she will too, especially after I fix that hole in her shoulder...poor girl," Bulma added. While Krillin's interest was plain to her, she could tell the short fighter was also beginning to feel a little uncomfortable discussing it. "So, I guess Piccolo and...that other new guy...they're staying at Kami's Lookout for a while, huh?" She couldn't quite refer to Piccolo III as a Namek—he barely resembled one—but calling him "Cell's evil clone-minion" seemed equally inappropriate. They'd really need to find a new name for him if he was going to stay around.
"Uh-huh," Krillin replied. "Don't know if I fully trust that little guy yet...but he did turn against Cell of his own accord, so we at least know he's got guts. Anyway, Piccolo said he wanted to discuss some things about him with Dende. I think he at least deserves a chance..."
"I'm sure the two of them will know what to do," Bulma agreed.
Dende had just sat back on his heels from healing Piccolo's injuries as the taller Namek knelt in front of him. Despite his injuries, the veteran warrior had stoically requested to be the last person to be treated. "There, that should about do it...how do you feel, Piccolo?"
"Fine. Thank you, Dende," he said, standing back to his feet. "Now that you all are conscious and healed, it's important we discuss our next move," he stated bluntly. Gohan, Trunks, Tien, and Yamcha looked up at him, their eyes still speaking of mental exhaustion, though their bodies were rejuvenated. Piccolo III kept his eyes on the ground, unsure of his surroundings and company.
"First of all," Piccolo started matter-of-factly, "we know that both Goku and Vegeta have already been revived once by Shenron. I'll be gathering the Earth's dragonballs anyway. We need to discuss the exact wishes we will be making, for when the time comes."
"So hey," Yamcha interrupted. "If we can't use the Earth's dragon balls to bring back Goku and Vegeta, why are you bothering to gather them in the first place? I mean, aren't they lost in space?"
"We will use the dragon balls to restore the lives of everyone else Cell killed, as well as repair the destruction to our planet and the solar system," Piccolo huffed, annoyed at being interrupted. "If you must know, I recently became aware of my own ability to travel for long periods of time in space, especially with an energy source like the sun so close by," he explained.
"Tch. Yet another Namekian advantage over the rest of us. I swear, aliens always seem to have it better than us," Yamcha complained, only half-joking. "Super Saiyan transformations, regeneration, magic, now holding your breath in space..." After an awkward silence in which Piccolo continued to gruffly stare at him, the Namek continued.
"Before we do anything else, it's our responsibility to undo all Cell's damage. Wish one should be to revive everyone killed by him and his underlings, children, or whatever you want to call them. We'll also want to figure out the wording so that any victims of the androids are included in that as well. Are we agreed?"
He noticed how his clone stiffened at his hasty descriptive, but this was no time to be sympathetic. After the humans, half-saiyans, and Dende nodded, he continued elucidating his plan.
"Good. Wish two is going to be used to repair all the damage, so hopefully that will include Mars as well as any other planets Cell has blown up. If, however, the dragon can't restore all that at once, we may have to re-think things or re-work the wish somehow."
"That won't be necessary," Dende said. "Shenron's power isn't limited by range, so long as it falls under the same qualification of the wish. I feel confident in our first two."
"Good," Piccolo replied. "Thanks for adjusting the dragonballs, by the way, that third wish is really going to come in handy. Now, any other questions?" the tall Namek asked.
Gohan frowned. "Uhm, maybe this is silly...but wouldn't it be a better idea to fix everything first?"
"Why?" asked Yamcha.
"Well," the boy continued, "there's a lot of stuff that's been destroyed or blown up. Just think about all the islands that Cell vaporized back when he was in his second form. If we revive people first, they'll reappear where they died. We don't want them to find themselves buried in rubble or floating in the ocean. If we repair everything first, they'll be safe."
"Good catch, kid. I didn't even think of that," admitted Piccolo gruffly, though a note of pride sounded in his voice. "We'll reverse the order of the first two wishes."
"I guess that's settled, then," said Trunks. "What about the third wish?"
"I think that one should be for you, Trunks." The Namek grinned. "Unless someone can think of something better, I plan to wish that Shenron would fix that sword of yours. It could be quite useful in the future against other evils, but not if it's shattered and useless. Sound good?"
Trunks smiled, his eyes lighting up with sudden gratitude. "Sounds great! Thank you, Piccolo! This means...more to me than you'll ever know..." he closed his eyes, recalling the memory of Tapion once more—of how he, himself, had first become a Super Saiyan thanks to the Konatsian's sacrifice. "It is a magic sword, one that could well exceed Shenron's power to restore, but..."
"I'm sure it'll be good as new, Trunks." Gohan assured him. "It's imbued with all of your hope, your hard work, and your perseverance, after all!" The two half-saiyans shared a determined smile.
"With or without the magic, it means a lot to me."
"Alright, King Yemma. Let's hear it," a gruff voice said. The words weren't spoken out of disrespect, but their tone made it obvious he saw all of this as a mere formality. Vegeta was every bit prepared to face the judgment he knew he deserved.
The bearded ogre left his eyes on the massive book in front of him, but made sure to acknowledge the prince with a grunt. As he paused for a few moments, seeming to look over his notes very carefully, Yemma let out a sigh and leaned back in his massive, throne-like chair.
"You no doubt think you've concluded my sentencing for you already," the red-skinned giant began, "but let me take a moment to explain to you the unique difficulty I've had in making this decision."
"Hmph." The Saiyan uncrossed his arms briefly, rubbing the back of his neck—a particular spot which was noticeably better. "If you must."
"Well," Yemma began, lifting his giant pen and scratching his head. "To be honest, I'm not sure I've had a case like yours ever before. I have here a list of every single person whose death you were personally responsible for, and I must say, this list puts even Cell's to shame."
The old Vegeta might have smirked at the reminder of his bloody past, possibly even taken pride in the carnage he had once been responsible for. But such things were meaningless to him now, as could be seen by his unchanging expression. Was it apathy, or resignation?
Yemma continued. "I do see some names on here who were pretty bad characters, such as Frieza and his brother. Just so you know, I'm not questioning your disposal of them—it's all the innocents I see on here that have me perplexed."
"Clearly, then, you're overcomplicating things," Vegeta replied, returning his hands over his chest. "I understand the evidence is weighed heavily against me. I'm not expecting any kind of special treatment, so just send me to Hell already."
"Wait just a minute, now," the ogre said, leaning forward and finally making eye contact with Vegeta. "I also have here a list of every life you've ever saved, and let me say...I've not seen a contradiction like this in all my time. Your final act, as you know, was a sacrifice that successfully destroyed the evil being known as Cell. The lives of everyone on planet Earth were spared thanks to you, but I also have to logically acknowledge the fact that Cell would not have stopped there. A creature as twisted as he would have easily conquered the rest of the North Quadrant, and before long the other three as well. I honestly doubt that there's anyone alive now who could have stopped him."
Vegeta remained silent, his own mind considering all of this. While it was his family he'd intended to save, as well as the Earth itself, there was no denying that he'd also in essence spared the entire universe from Cell's dominion.
"—Which puts me in a rather awkward position," Yemma concluded. "Now I try to be a fair judge, and I think something should be said for those who reform from their evil ways. But even with all of this, I'm afraid..." he paused, almost as if reconsidering. "I'm afraid I cannot allow you the ultimate privilege of a righteous warrior."
The prince raised his eyebrows, begging the question of what he meant exactly.
"My judgement is final, and here it is: Because of your noble sacrifice, I will allow you to enter the heavenly realm. Your spirit will be cleansed of evil and you'll be free to enter eternal bliss. However, you will not be granted the privilege of receiving an Otherworld body with which to train."
"What!?" the Saiyan gasped. "There's such a thing? But then, what's with this form I have right now?" he asked, looking down at his body, which by all his estimations seemed completely whole—without even his reconstructed vertebrae.
"Oh that?" Yemma replied with a chuckle. "What you currently possess is merely a duplicate copy of your corpse, reanimated by your spirit. It serves as the prison for any souls that are sent to Hell, allowing them to still experience everything they rightfully deserve. Plus, there are several restrictions we implement on these types of bodies. You'll find that any wounds or scars you might have had in life are gone, including any unnatural augmentations to your body. You are merely inhabiting this form as a spectre, and thus you'll find it impossible to train or grow stronger. Additionally, these reanimated corpses, as we call them, cannot move freely between the realms of Otherworld—our magical barriers prevent it. An Otherworld body, on the other hand, is able to both train and move through the different realms here. It is the highest honor we can bestow on a soul, such as what your friend Goku was given."
"Kakarott!?" Vegeta suddenly clenched his fists. "I'd nearly forgotten that clown was here too. Where is he, King Yemma? He and I have a score to settle!"
"Whoa, there. Slow down," the ogre said, leaning forward over his desk. "First off, I sent him on his way a while ago, so I don't know where he is. Second—"
WHIISHH, came the sudden sound of instant transmission. Just like that, the orange-clad Saiyan from Earth arrived with a smile.
"Hey! It IS you, Vegeta! I knew that was your energy the second I sensed it."
"Kakarott..." the prince said, allowing himself a slight grin.
"Goku!?" Yemma yelled, not appreciating the interruption. "Can't you see I'm in the middle of something here? I was just about to send Vegeta on his way. Well," he sighed, "I suppose it is good you're here after all. I'm afraid this is where you'll have to say your goodbyes."
"Goodbye?" Goku asked curiously. "Is he being brought back to life already?"
The ogre raised an eyebrow before responding. "No, I was actually about to clear him for heaven. Unfortunately, that means he'll have neither a reanimated corpse nor an Otherworld body, which is why you'd need to say farewell to one another."
"Say what!?" Vegeta interrupted, throwing his hands down at his sides. "I'd rather go to Hell than lose my body entirely! At least then I'd still be able to fight!"
"I'm afraid it doesn't work that way, Vegeta," King Yemma said, grabbing the stack of papers in front of him and lining up the corners. "There's nothing more I can do. You'll find heaven to be a peaceful and joyous place, I assure you."
"But, King Yemma," Goku whined, "Can't me and Vegeta have just one quick fight before that? I owe him a battle, it was a promise we made together long ago. Even if he can't stay and train, just one fight. Pleeeeaase?" he wheedled in a childish tone.
While the prince normally might have scoffed at Kakarott's begging, he wasn't about to refuse the help—particularly when it was exactly what he wanted. Almost in agreement, Vegeta crossed his arms and shot his eyes back up to Yemma expectantly.
"Goku, listen to me." the giant said gruffly. "It's out of the question; there are too many things that could go wrong. I'd like to help you out, I really would, but this I cannot allow."
"Aww, come on. We can even fight in Hell if you just let him keep his body a little longer. Surely we wouldn't cause too much trouble down there...or at least, we couldn't make the place look any worse."
Roaring, the massive ogre suddenly stood to his feet. "You will do no such thing, Goku! Hell is a place reserved for judgment, not for special privilege matches! Who knows what kind of damage a fight between you would cause!"
'Heh,' Vegeta chuckled inwardly. 'He's got that right.'
"But, King Yemmaaa!" Goku smiled innocently, arguing like a defiant child. Though now a grown man fully capable of mature behavior, he found the prospect of an exciting battle still brought out that same eager young boy in him. "If we can't fight down there, just let us fight somewhere in the higher realm like King Kai's place. Come on, this would mean a lot to me. What are you so worried about, anyway?"
"Ghh," the bearded giant grunted, his deep voice rumbling through the walls. Even so, he noticed a sly grin suddenly on Vegeta's face out of the corner of his eye. He wasn't sure, but it was as if the prince had begun to consider his own power in comparison to the ogre's—which had been Yemma's fear all along. Perhaps he was only being paranoid, as he'd just handled Cell, but this was different. Either way, were he a truly all-powerful judge, instead of a celestial bureaucrat of only moderate strength, he wouldn't ever have put up with this kind of puerile arguing.
"The point is, Vegeta does not meet the qualifications of a righteous fighter, blameless and pure of heart. Even with his recent change of character, I just cannot allow him to roam around Otherworld freely."
"Freely, hmm? Well, how about I take full responsibility for watching him, then? It's really no problem, I'll just go everywhere he goes," Goku said, trying to sound suddenly very responsible and mature. "It won't be for all that long anyway, since I'm sure our families on Earth intend to revive us soon with the dragon balls."
The Ogre King was growing tired of arguing, as the line of souls to be judged had grown by several hundred thousand while he'd been wasting time. Not only that, he certainly didn't want to risk the situation getting any more out of control. But this new piece of information, how short a time the pair would actually be dead, was something he hadn't considered. That certainly put a new spin on things, and allowed a certain leniency that wouldn't be permitted otherwise—maybe this didn't have to be his final final decision after all.
"Wait a moment, Goku," Yemma ventured, trying to recall what he'd learned of the dragon balls. "I thought both you and Vegeta had already been revived by Shenron. What makes you think you'll be able to be resurrected again?"
"It's simple, really," the Saiyan smiled. "As soon as they have a chance, our families will just travel to Namek and use their dragon balls to bring us back. They don't have any restrictions like the Earth's do. It might take a little while for them to make the trip, but I'm sure we'll be alive and out of your hair before you know it."
"I see," Yemma said, crossing his arms over his chest as he pondered. Likewise, Vegeta was also deep in thought. Surprisingly enough, revival hadn't crossed his mind once. Having been brought back unexpectedly once before, one might suspect that he'd at least have considered the possibility. But either from acceptance of his fate or mere distraction, the Saiyan prince found himself genuinely surprised about the possibility of returning.
"Do you realize what you're asking me, Goku?" the giant finally spoke. "You understand that if anything, anything at all, goes wrong, I'll have to place you personally responsible for it. You'd have to face judgment for negligence just as if you'd yourself committed the crimes."
"There's no need to be concerned, King Yemma," Vegeta finally spoke, a grin on his face. He wasn't about to ruin his one chance. "Our battle will take place somewhere secluded, and if you wish it, well chaperoned. I could care less who is or isn't there, all that matters is that I finally get to settle the score with Kakarott!"
King Yemma let out a long sigh, staring down at his desk almost in defeat. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but...very well. Vegeta, for the time being you will be permitted to retain your reanimated corpse and move throughout the Otherworld."
"All right!" Goku rejoiced, slapping Vegeta on the shoulder and drawing an annoyed stare from the other Saiyan.
"But be warned," the ogre continued. "If you fall out of line even the slightest bit, I will immediately revoke your privileges. Not only that, but you will also be forbidden to enter Heaven at that point as well."
"Fine by me," the prince said casually.
"And also remember, the body you have isn't like Goku's. While he can train and become stronger, you will find that your body is limited to only the power you already possess. Additionally, if you are to ever enter Hell, your form will not be immune to the magical binding spells the Kaioshins exacted on that place—many of which are designed to weaken the powers of evil beings. You will also not be able to leave that place without Goku's direct assistance—so don't come asking me for help if you get stuck."
"Don't worry about a thing," Goku said with a grin. "It's all gonna work out perfectly!"
"Just get out of here before I change my mind," Yemma grumbled, quickly taking another giant book out and marking some notes down. "The things I let that guy talk me into..."
Ignoring the giant's mumbling, Goku turned to his rival. "So, I think we should check in at King Kai's first. I was on my way there earlier, but then I sensed your energy here. Anyway, he'll probably know of a good place for us to fight."
"Alright!" Goku smiled. "Just touch my shoulder and I'll get us there with Instant Transmission, okay?"
"Pah!" the prince laughed. The temptation was so great, it took everything he had within him to resist. To reveal his Spatial Rifting technique now would be nothing but a prideful boast. But to save it for battle, to surprise Kakarott in the midst of the moment, now that would be truly satisfying.
Almost as if he were disgusted, Vegeta raised a single finger and with it barely touched the tip of Goku's shoulder. "Tch."
"Here we go, then!" Goku said. Just like that, the pair vanished into thin air, leaving a room of speechless Otherworld employees behind.
With the aid of the dragon radar, Piccolo was able to retrieve the dragon balls relatively quickly—it only took a few hours to search around the sun and fly back, and the journey was somewhat peaceful. Back at Capsule Corporation, Bulma continued working on Android 18, while Krillin met with the others in order to summon Shenron. The first two wishes, both to restore all the damage that he caused throughout the universe and to revive everyone killed by Cell, were completely successful. Not only was the planet Mars restored, but, unknown to them, another world also—Kubindi—which the bio-android had essentially destroyed by vaporising its blue supergiant.
"Hey, I feel a whole lot better all of a sudden," Krillin said aloud, feeling his mechanical leg with both hands.
"That's probably thanks to Shenron," Piccolo commented. "Your cyborg components were damaged by Cell, weren't they?"
"Oh hey, you're right!" the monk smiled for joy. "And that means 18's probably doing a whole lot better too! Awesome!"
"EHEM! WHAT IS YOUR THIRD AND FINAL WISH?" the deep rumblings of Shenron's voice echoed through the upper atmosphere surrounding the lookout.
Trunks stepped forward, holding the two halves of his shattered sword. "Can you...is it within your power, to please mend this sword...sir," he said, confident in his words but trying to show respect.
"THE OBJECT YOU ARE HOLDING WAS IMBUED BY AN EXTREMELY POWERFUL MAGIC. ITS PROPERTIES ARE BEYOND MY POWER TO MANIPULATE," Shenron explained. "HOWEVER, IT IS WELL WITHIN MY ABILITY TO REPAIR THE WEAPON ITSELF, IF YOU SO WISH."
Trunks paused a moment. He had been afraid of this happening, but in the end it made no difference. The sword meant just as much to him with or without its magic.
"Then that will be my wish," he said in confirmation.
"AS YOU HAVE WISHED, SO SHALL IT BE DONE."
Shenron's eyes glowed as red as flame once again as his magic instantly surged through the blade. Its jagged, broken edges glowed with saffron light that pulled the pieces together like magnets. Even metallic fragments tiny as dust specks shot up from the planet's surface far below, sliding into perfect alignment as the Brave Sword was reborn, all right before the time traveler's eyes. He held it up with pride, eyeing it' perfect reflective edge, cherishing the memory it held, all the reminders it carried about who he was.
"IT IS DONE, AS YOU WISHED. NOW, FAREWELL..."
"Thank you, Shenron," he said, unsure if the dragon had even heard him.
Otherworld, King Kai's planet...
"What's so special about this place?" Vegeta complained, noticing of the planet's ridiculously small size. Apart from a single tree and a small domed house, the entire world consisted of a front yard and a driveway.
"Huh? Special...well, it does have gravity ten times stronger than Earth. But it's not really special other than that. Except, it is the place I trained in order to fight you—the first time."
"Ehem," King Kai interrupted Goku with a look of disapproval. "It is special in more ways than you can imagine, Goku, but mainly because IT'S MY HOME. Here I have a perfect view of the entire North Quadrant, the entire realm I watch over." The deity's eyes shifted over to his other guest. "Ah, so you must be Vegeta." He made no move to extend his hand in greeting. "I must say...I'm quite surprised to see you here."
"Oh, about that," Goku moved to explain. "Sorry to bother you. Vegeta and I were hoping you knew of a place where we could fight. See, we never got to have the rematch I promised him while we were alive, so I explained it all to King Yemma and he let Vegeta keep his body until we did."
"Are you sure that's all he said, Goku?" King Kai said, leaning in almost as if he were about to give a lecture. He knew Goku had a habit of forgetting or leaving out important details.
"Oh, and uh, I'm supposed to keep an eye on Vegeta at all times, kind of like his babysitter."
"BABYSITTER!?" Vegeta roared, smacking Goku on the back of the head. "I don't know what the hell that is, but it sounds like an insult! If I must suffer through your presence for my entire stay in Otherworld, I will not allow such indignities to be spoken of the Saiyan prince!"
Laughing and rubbing his head, Goku turned and apologized. "Alright, alright. All I meant was, I have to keep an eye on you and make sure you stay out of trouble."
"Well," the other Saiyan said darkly, "I'm sure you'll try."
"Whatever," King Kai interrupted, walking casually between the two. "First and foremost, I must insist you do not fight on my planet. Goku, your strength has grown exponentially since the last time you trained here. As dense as my planet is, it would crack up within minutes!"
The deity snickered at his pun for a moment, but when neither Saiyan batted an eyelid, he shrugged and continued. "You'll need somewhere much more sturdy, something designed to hold up."
"Yeah, that sounds about right. Do you know of a place like that, King Kai?" Goku asked.
"Well, I do know of a place designed for heavy training. I'm just concerned Yemma might have acted without checking in with his superiors." The Kai turned to Vegeta with a scowl. "Quite frankly, I'm not entirely sure you'll be even permitted to enter this place. It's practically a holy training ground, something considered sacred by all of Otherworld."
"Aww, I'm sure it'll be just fine, King Kai," Goku smiled innocently. "Vegeta's not one of the bad guys anymore, you know that."
"Even so," King Kai said hesitantly, eyeing the prince a second longer. "I fear we could be in big trouble just by bringing him along." He paused a moment longer, pondering the possibilities. "But I suppose you're not going to take no for an answer. I'll have to just ask permission when we arrive."
"Who's this guy we have to ask, King Kai?"
"He is the greatest of the Kais, our leader. Along with myself, there are three other Kais who watch over and protect the lower realms—the East, South, and West quadrants of your galaxy. As you know, I am the North Kai. But our leader is greater than any of us, and the strongest as well; he oversees the entire galaxy at once. We will go to the Grand Kai's planet."
"This Grand Kai you speak of," Vegeta asked, suddenly interested. "He is the most powerful in all of Otherworld?"
"Indeed! His strength is legendary, so much so that not even I have ever seen the Grand Kai fight. But it is said that there are no words to describe the ferocity, the tenacity, and the ruthlessness with which the Grand Kai fights."
"Hah," Vegeta chuckled, drawing an immediate angry growl from King Kai.
"What was that!? Make any snickers like that, or if you even treat him with the slightest disrespect and he can completely revoke anything King Yemma has said. And don't you dare even think about trying to fight him!"
"But why not, King Kai?" Goku asked—he and Vegeta had been thinking the exact same thing.
"Because I said so, that's why! He's the Grand Kai, he doesn't just fight every soul who shows up to challenge him!"
"But I don't—"
"NO! No more questions, Goku!" the Kai shouted. "Now, before we go you must promise me you'll be on your best behavior."
Vegeta snickered again, amused at how foolish this supposed deity was acting.
"Both of you! Or we are not going!"
'To think I'm reduced to taking orders from this rotund talking blueberry!' Vegeta sneered. 'But what he doesn't know won't hurt him. I'll get my fight with this Grand Kai as soon as I'm through with Kakarott. Then we'll see if I can't get one of these Otherworld bodies.'
"I HEARD THAT!" King Kai yelled, angry spit flying out of his mouth. "I can read minds, don't you know!?"
This time even Vegeta suddenly froze, realizing his folly.
"You're lucky I'm such a nice guy, Vegeta. Otherwise I'd have ordered you down to Hell right away. I can do that too, by the way."
"Fine, then. I promise to treat this Grand Kai with respect," the prince grunted.
"You too, Goku," King Kai said, almost like a parent between two squabbling children.
"Oh, yeah. Same here."
"Right," the deity rolled his eyes behind his sunglasses. "Sure you will. Alright, then, we should be off. To get to the Grand Kai's planet we first have to take a plane from the Check-in Station."
"Oh, that's no problem, then!" Goku said with a smile, quickly touching both his master and Vegeta and employing his instant transmission once more.
An observer watching the Blue Planet from space would have seen light suddenly burst forth from its surface, as if a pure golden fire had ignited within it.
Swirls of sparkling energy filled the once-beautiful city of Gingertown, Shenron's magic knitting it back together piece by piece. A silent film played in reverse, fragments of stones lifted into the air and sailed back together; buildings rose majestically out of the rubble. Pooled water from shattered sewers flowed uphill and back into containment tanks while shards of broken glass folded up into crystal-clear windshields. The sparks of light surrounded everything.
On a familiar late night talk show stage, SWAT team members began to suddenly wake up, wide eyed at their surroundings. Their bodies were whole, even their uniforms spotless. Just off the coast, soldiers on board a newly-restored nuclear submarine also woke up.
In the West City suburbs, the twisted and warped metal of the stadium grandstands, which had been violently shredded to bits by Cell's ki, began unwinding itself and repositioning in its proper alignment. Tents and vendor stands, along with all their merchandise, seemed to reappear from ash. One by one, spotlights began to flicker on around the area, as if someone had flipped a switch and set everything in the world right.
All this was seen only from a distance. Emergency responders, attending to the crowd which had fled the tournament, were closest to the scene. But even those victims who had suffered from collateral damage, from Cell's reckless disregard for human life and safety, began to magically recover—to the amazement of the paramedics. None knew what or who or why...only that they had won. That universal human connection, the joy of survival, of triumph, the deep feeling that they knew somehow everything was going to be all right—it had finally freed the people of Earth from Cell's nightmare. And in their victory, the people began to applaud, to cheer. Ignorant of the sacrifice of the Saiyan prince to ensure their safety, of even Gohan and the other Z fighters' own efforts, Earth was nonetheless grateful to be alive.
Hercule's tired eyes opened lazily, the champ lying face-first on top of a boulder that had suddenly adjusted itself thanks to Shenron's magic. The ringing in his hears from all the explosions was still there, reminding him of all that had transpired. Then somehow it just vanished into the peaceful tranquility of what seemed an ordinary night, as did the stinging sensation all over his face from being pelted with small rocks.
"Okaaaay," he said aloud, to no one in particular. "There's some kind of funny business going on here."
Even as he stood to his feet, he could hardly recognize the place. It was not the desolate battleground he knew he should have awoken at. "Hmph," he grunted, realizing the grandstands had been restored. "That can't really be the—" he turned the corner, being the first one to take in the scene of the perfectly restored stadium. "This just doesn't make any sense!" he fumbled, jaw dropped. "Wh-where's Cell? Where are those really strong guys?"
As he made his way out into the center of the arena, his memory recalling every instant of the past few hours with clarity, the wrestling champion could only awe at the sight. "Okay, there's got to be a logical explanation for all of this," he said, rubbing his scruffy chin. "Cell's nowhere to be found, and everything has returned to normal," Hercule continued, repeating information in order to help along his thinking process. "That must mean..." he paused, daring to say the words. "...that Cell's somehow been defeated. Oh yeahhh! He's gotta be!"
It was the only possible conclusion. The Earth was still here, and in flawless shape—if Cell was still around, wouldn't the planet have been blown up by now?
"Wait, no," he suddenly stopped his celebration. "No, that can't be right. Stadiums and trees don't just put themselves back together, that's impossible." He gulped as fear gripped his mind. "That means...I must be...dead..." his words were said softly. "I've gone and done it now, gotten killed at the hands of Cell. I failed them, let them all die. Humanity, gone. Earth, blown to bits. All of it's my fault... This place must be nothing but my own imagination, like some kind of vision I'm having—probably to remind me how I was responsible for the death of everyone on the planet." *sniff*.
He pictured in his mind the face of his daughter, her tender smile, her wicked jabs, even all of his fans cheering for him—everything he had cherished in life. The things he'd miss most, the memories and all his regrets in life, all his failings, it all rushed back to him in a wave of emotion. "If only I could'a protected my sweet little girl," he said, his eyes almost watering. "Or at least if that boy could have..."
His thoughts suddenly turned darker. "Wait a second. I'm not the one who lost to Cell. It was that Gohan kid, the one I supported! How dare he let us all down like that, his master in particular!" Mr. Satan paused a moment, thinking. "Wait, now, I wasn't really his master was I? That's just a lie I was telling everyone, I remember now. Well, either way, I blame HIM! Dumb kid! If I ever find him, I'll get my revenge, I swear it!"
Suddenly, the recognizable sound of sirens and lights could be heard in the distance. They were approaching the stadium quickly, seemingly just as amazed as he had been. A familiar voice could even be heard speaking into a microphone. Maybe he wasn't dead after all. In that case...
"Ladies and gentlemen, we've only just arrived back at the Perfect Tournament arena, but as expected, it appears to have been completely restored like everything else!" Jimmy Firecracker, ever passionate in his reporting, said. He delivered each word with the compelling emotion one had come to expect from a professional of his level. "From our own cameras and filming equipment down to the bleachers and the tournament ring—which I watched get ripped to shreds myself—it seems that somehow all is now well with the world. Truly remarkable!"
A crowd seemed to be following the broadcaster, as well as several law officers who were trying to martial off the area for an investigation. It was certainly hectic, enough so that they didn't immediately notice the lone fighter standing in the center of the arena. Hercule, ever crafty, had already made up his mind.
"Wait just a second, ladies and gentlemen!" Firecracker gasped, pointing up into the dimly lit ring. "There's someone just up ahead, I'm not sure who, but it looks like..." Several of the officers suddenly shined their spotlights ahead, revealing Mr. Satan's confident form standing tall and grinning. Behind him was a one-person plane, fresh out of a capsule, which he was leaning on with one hand.
"Mr. Satan!" Jimmy yelled joyously. "Ladies and gentlemen, I can now happily report that Mr. Satan is alive and well. I'd also like to remind you that as of yet there is absolutely no sign of Cell. Let's just say, this reporter is remaining hopeful. Just a moment, and I'll try to get a word in from our Champion."
But Hercule had already boarded his plane, which was taking off too quickly for the newsman to possibly catch him in time. And yet, with a single smile, with the slight act of raising his hand in the victory symbol, Mr. Satan conveyed all that needed to be conveyed—captured perfectly on camera too.
"Oh, it seems we just missed him, folks! But did you see that look of pride, everyone!? I certainly did, and I think it's a look we're all quite familiar with! This is Jimmy Firecracker, boldly and proudly being the first one to report to you that Mr. Satan has at last defeated Cell!"
Grand Kai's Planet, Otherworld...
"Now remember what I told you about being on your best behavior," King Kai lectured for the tenth time. "Whenever we see the Grand Kai, you must show the utmost respect, understood?"
"Whatever it takes for me to get to the fighting," Goku replied, giving his former teacher at least a sliver of hope that the Saiyan would try to behave.
The trio had just arrived on the planet, much larger than King Kai's, and found themselves at an enormous white mansion. While it was impressive in both size and decor, off in the distance the familiar rumble of training could already be heard. Goku and Vegeta cared about nothing else.
"Hey, everyone!" the Kai yelled. Those who had been training suddenly looked up, pausing from their activities at the familiar voice.
"Ah, King Kai!" a tall and muscular one said with a smile. "How good to see you."
"It's nice to see you too, Olibu," the blue skinned deity smiled, resting his hands behind his back. It sure was nice to be shown some actual respect once in a while. "How has the training been?"
The blond-haired warrior, who towered at least two feet above Goku, smiled wide. "I'd say I feel more alive than ever, for a dead guy."
"Heh," the Kai smirked. "Well you certainly haven't lost your sense of humor. Trust me—that's a good thing. And the rest of these guys?"
Behind Olibu were several dozen other fighters, each distinctly marked by a golden halo, who were making still their way over. Once they had all pretty much gathered, every one standing respectfully silent in King Kai's presence, Olibu turned to speak for them. It was immediately evident he was considered a leader amongst the group.
"None of us here have earned the right to train with Grand Kai yet—after all, ten thousand years of training is a hefty order. A few of us are getting close, but I'm certain it'll be worth it just to better ourselves."
"Ten thousand years!?" Goku gasped, interrupting from behind King Kai. "You mean to tell me these guys have all been training themselves for that long? That's amazing! They must be incredibly strong!"
A few of the Otherworld fighters smirked, each one recalling their own reaction upon finding out how long the others had been training here. Universally, it seemed, there was a certain admiration to be given to anyone who'd been building up their strength that much time. Of course, that didn't always mean the one who had been there longest was the most powerful, and several of the newer arrivals had grown in their rank considerably within the first few hundred years or so. Within their own circle that was perfectly okay—as anyone who had proven themselves to that degree was most certainly well respected. But, perhaps even unintentionally by some, the Otherworld fighters had developed a tendency to look slightly down on those fresh from the living world, or at least treat them as rookies. How, after only dozens of years of training, could someone possibly compare to them—who boasted centuries, even millennia?
"You'll find that time quickly loses its meaning here, Goku," Olibu explained. "Three thousand years, four thousand years...by that time the improvements in your strength are so incremental, the refinements in your technique so subtle, that few can even tell the difference."
"Don't let it get you down, seeing how tough we are," a tall purple-skinned lizard remarked with a chuckle. Clearly, he was one of the tougher warriors around. "I'm sure you'll catch up to most of these other North Quadrant guys within the first thousand years. You just can't expect to be competitive right off the bat, even with their lot." His words were spoken with just the slightest demeaning undertone, but Goku didn't seem to catch it. In fact, he seemed enthralled with just the idea.
"To think how strong I'll be in a thousand years!" he said excitedly, his eyes nearly watering with anticipation. "I just can't wait to start training!"
"Pah!" Vegeta snarked in immediate annoyance. "It doesn't matter how many years they've trained themselves, there's no one here even in our league, Kakarott," the prince said, unamused. "The battle to determine the strongest warrior in Otherworld shall be between the two of us alone. None of these so-called 'heroes' are even worth my time."
King Kai rolled his eyes once more, cleverly concealed by his pair of dark shades. 'This is sure to end well,' he thought in a rare burst of sarcasm.
"BAHAHA!" Maraikoh, the reptilian fighter who had spoken against the North Quadrant before, laughed out loud. The remainder of the righteous fighters seemed momentarily taken aback by Vegeta's sudden outburst as well. Rather than be offended, however, they mostly just chuckled to themselves, recalling a time when their own egos would have boasted something similar. But they'd each found someone stronger to put them in their place, just as these two newcomers certainly would.
"I wouldn't be so quick to assume that if I were you,"Olibu replied tactfully, "especially when you know next to nothing about your would-be opponents." The herculean warrior wore himself in a way as if he, himself, had nothing to prove. "Also, I wouldn't want to you to get off on the wrong foot with everyone. I'm sure you're just eager for the opportunity to train with Grand Kai."
Vegeta grinned, almost wickedly, but was silent for a moment—eyeing up his competition, feeling out their measly power levels, watching as they tried to do the same to him. Meanwhile, Goku tried to explain his Saiyan brother's behavior.
"Eh, never mind him," he smiled, stepping forward towards the group. "My name's Goku, and this is Vegeta," he said, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. Then, in a quieter tone, but not so soft that the prince couldn't hear, he continued: "He's a little grumpy, but once you get to know him he's not so bad. He even saved the entire Earth recently."
The blond herculean warrior stood tall and smiled. "Planet Earth, you say? How about that..."
"Olibu is also from planet Earth, Goku," King Kai informed him. "Amazing, right? He's several thousand years older than you, of course, but he also happens to be responsible for saving the Earth numerous times. Pretty neat, right?"
"Sure is," Goku said, shaking Olibu's hand with a smile. "I'd love the chance to spar with a guy like you—another of the Earth's heroes, I mean. That is, after I get something to eat."
Just as the tall herculean fighter was about to reply, the prince of Saiyans interrupted. "Oh please, Kakarott. I could take on everyone here without breaking a sweat, including this 'hero of Earth'—and to be honest if you don't find us a place to fight I might soon have to."
Goku smiled awkwardly, turning back towards the prince—who he clearly wanted to keep in a good mood. "Uh, we've got plenty of time, though. What's the rush? Besides, I don't want to be rude."
"—well it's a little too late for that," the tall purple lizard from before interrupted. "Around here, we don't take challenges like that friend of yours just made lightly. And if you're gonna be here training with us, you two need to learn your place."
"Maraikoh, there's no need to be hasty," Olibu quickly replied, his tone still calm. "Surely you remember how you first were when you got here."
"Oh I remember, which is exactly why I need to show this new hot-shot just how outclassed he is here. I've earned the right to not have newbies talk down to me like that."
Wisely, King Kai backed away. He was more amused than anything else. 'Boys will be boys, I guess. Should have known better than to bring Vegeta here, but what's done is done."
"Go ahead, give me your best shot," Vegeta smiled, never even uncrossing his arms from over his chest. His nonchalant attitude, his stoic unmoving calmness, both seemed only to further frustrate the dragon-like giant.
"Heh," Maraikoh grunted, wearing an equally smug look. "Tough guy wants to play with the big guys, does he? You're a little short for that, don't you think, hehe." Raising his enormous right arm, the lizard gestured forward with a simple flick of his wrist. "Get him, boys. Teach tiny man over here that we're not fooled by his big talk."
Immediately, several other fighters from the West Quadrant sprung into action. Flipping over the crowd, the three completely surrounded Vegeta, taking what they deemed to be a perfect attack position. With no more than the slightest eye contact to signal one another, they proceeded in their attempt to teach the proud prince a lesson.
All three punches hit simultaneously, one to the back of his head and the other to both sides of his face. The shockwave rumbled backwards from their blows, rippling through both the grass and the long hair of fighters like Olibu. Maraikoh grinned slyly at the perfectly executed maneuver, but only for the shortest of instants.
"That," Vegeta's deep voice broke the silence, "was a big mistake."
Each of his attackers suddenly realized the complete futility of their efforts, before being violently eviscerated with a deadly explosion of Vegeta's ki, slicing their guts open and causing their entrails to escape onto Grand Kai's freshly mowed lawn. Coughing and wailing in pain, the three warriors could only gasp and clutch at their stomachs, clinching every muscle in their bodies as they waited out the pain. After a moment of what seemed like endless agony, however, it seemed as if the magic of Otherworld began to knit their flesh back together. The work was certainly slow in comparison to Cell's regeneration, Vegeta observed, but still quite an interesting turn of events to observe.
"Ah, I was wondering if it was possible to kill someone who was already dead. Seems I'll have to settle for merely pummeling you, Kakarott, since death is off the table now."
All in the group watching on were silent, eyeing the turn of events with great interest. In that brief instant they'd gotten a glimpse of Vegeta's power, and it was clear that several had suddenly gained a healthy fear of their newest guest—a fact the prince himself was quite pleased with. Vegeta just kept pushing his limits, mainly to see what King Kai would and wouldn't allow him to do. The prince had been careful to take in the facial expressions of the blue-skinned deity before taking action. But since the others had attacked first, he felt sure he was in the clear. For now, he was finding at least mild amusement in the small verbal challenge this dragon character presented him. How much more would it take to provoke them all into attacking him at once? Vegeta couldn't wait to find out.
"Eheh," Goku laughed awkwardly, scratching the back of his head. "Come on, Vegeta. You didn't have to go and do that to them."
"Tch. It's as I thought, Kakarott. Their bodies will be fine, you can't die a second time. Even you, with your blasted morals, can't deny there was no real harm in it," Vegeta quickly explained, hoping to avoid a boring lecture.
"I guess not, except for all the pain you caused them," the ever-good hearted Saiyan answered. "I don't know...I just don't have any fun doing things like that; it's not even fighting."
"You're certainly right about that, Kakarott. It's become perfectly that clear none of these insufferable miscreants have any real strength, just as I said. Now are you going to give me a real fight, or do I have to track down this Grand Kai myself for a good battle!?"
"Tch!" Maraikoh suddenly growled, stepping forward boldly. "You must think you're so tough, taking on three little cronies all by yourself. Well I got news for you, little man, half of the warriors here could have done that! Now are you ready to take on a real Otherworld fighter?"
"Oh please. If you see one, do send him my way," Vegeta replied, egging on the attack, his blood racing for yet another chance to humiliate a foolish unsuspecting opponent.
"THAT'S IT!" Maraikoh yelled, clenching his fists and disappearing into thin air. The large-bodied reptile was surprisingly agile, jumping from place to place like a bolt of lightning. Once confident he'd varied his pattern enough to make a surprise attack, the purple dragon bolted in for a strike. "NOW YOU'RE MINE!"
Only, Vegeta had actually been concentrating this time, so as not to be caught off guard by any kind of technique he'd never come across before. Thus, Maraikoh had absolutely no chance. His blurry form whizzed past Vegeta, striking only air—the prince chuckling. He could clearly recall a time back on Namek when Goku had made the Ginyu force look completely incompetent, appearing as if he were standing still during their attacks. He'd done the same thing just now to the poor Maraikoh, a fact he was certain Goku have noticed. It brought him oh so little joy, but still that small amount was worth it.
Vegeta smiled, making no comment as the giant reptile turned back towards him angrily. "WHY YOU!—"
"—Well, if it isn't North Kai," a uniquely annoying voice cried out from across the lawn, halting Maraikoh's attack instantly. The short figure who had spoken wore a blue monacle over his left eye and possessed a single curly antennae, rather than two like King Kai. "What are you doing here?"
The mutual dislike the two shared was instantly apparent, both in tone and in action.
"West Kai, you sneaky cheap lowlife," King Kai immediately charged over to the newcomer. "I was hoping I wouldn't have the displeasure of your presence on this little trip!"
"What did you SAY!?" the shorter of the two replied, leaning forward into North Kai's face.
"You heard me," he huffed, crossing his arms and turning to the side. "Now, if you don't mind, we were in the middle of something. One of my fighters was just about to decimate your precious Maraikoh. Now scram, beat it."
"Like I care!" West Kai pointed smugly in his rival's face, shooting a quick glance at his fighter, almost to apologize—Maraikoh seemed accustomed to this little feud, as he took no offense. "I was just on my way to take care of actually important business anyway—something I'm sure you have no idea about. Come on, Pikkon, let's go." From behind the light purple-skinned deity, a tall lengthy character with a dark green complexion nodded silently.
"Fine, off with you then!" King Kai laughed, thinking himself momentarily victorious in their little dispute. "I totally believe you have legitimate business and that you're not just afraid of getting embarrassed by your weak fighters, West Kai," he added with a casual grin.
"As it just so happens, I have my orders straight from the Grand Kai himself!" West Kai yelled in retribution. "He asked for me specifically."
"Oh did he!? And why would he ever trust you with anything remotely important, I wonder!?" King Kai replied once more, the argument between the two gods causing even Goku and Vegeta to look on in awkward amusement.
"Give it rest, North Kai," West Kai laughed, turning to walk away. "Grand Kai knows my Pikkon is the strongest fighter in Otherworld, that's why we're the ones being sent to take care of the little insurrection." Goku raised an eyebrow at the remark, noticing that this Pikkon seemed to carry himself like a much more capable fighter than some of the others here.
"What are you talking about? I don't believe you, I would have heard about it," North Kai complained.
"Maybe you would have if you were actually around, not off wasting time training your weaklings," West Kai laughed. "Fine, I'll tell you anyway. Apparently some guy named Cell has banded together with a few others down in Hell and they're causing problems." Both Vegeta and Goku's facial expressions instantly changed. "Pikkon and I are headed down there right now to set them all straight—and I won't be needing your assistance!"
'Well, well,' Vegeta thought silently. 'Looks like I may have some fun here yet.'
"Cell!?" Goku interrupted. "What's that fiend up to now!?"
"Did one of your whelp pupils just try to address me, North Kai?" the West deity sarcastically commented. "I'm sorry, I just have such a hard time understanding weaklings. Surely you heard him, but I guess some people just have a gift for dealing with talentless amateurs."
"Grrrr! You take that back!" King Kai yelled. "Goku is one of the most powerful fighters in all of Otherworld, and it so happens he knows a lot about the Cell guy you're about to go fight—blindly I might add! If you had any sense about you, you'd take both him and Vegeta along. I guarantee your big and mighty Pikkon won't be able to handle this guy himself."
"Keep dreaming, North Kai!" West Kai roared, clutching his gut to exaggerate his laughter. "Your two little posers would only get in the way of my Pikkon. Forget about it!" West Kai suddenly turned, as if to leave. But the two Kais, as well as the Otherworld fighters, were suddenly alone. Goku, Vegeta, and Pikkon were already long gone.
'Heh,' Vegeta chuckled with excitement as his body cut through the yellowy clouds and down into the lower realm. 'I told you I'd see you in Hell, Cell.'
Greetings all, and I thank you for reading and for waiting so long for this update. It took me about three and a half weeks to do this chapter by myself, so if you're wondering about the next update, I would guess somewhere in that time frame. I'll do my best to put in what time I can spare to this story, but I need not remind you there important things in life that must come first. Sadly, the days of regular updates are long gone.
You see, one main reason I wrote BoD before was in order to keep my friendship with David (who as you know was my best friend from college). Of course I love DBZ too, which is why I want to continue even without him. But foremost, I've always just used the opportunity to collaborate with him as a way of extending our friendship, in spite of us living ten hours apart now. I'm sure we'll all miss him, but no one more than me. He always had such excitement and high energy, you could tell in the way he talked about this story, in all his comments and feedback—he wanted it to be the very best. I think some people may have mistaken his enthusiasm as pride or him being stuck up, but he only ever meant it in the kindest of ways. You can't always tell that on the internet though.
Just to be clear: Bringer of Death is not an attempt to win some review contest. As much as I love hearing from so many of you after the hours I put into each chapter, I couldn't care less about the exact number of reviews we have. Please make sure each of you use reviews for the expressed purpose of discussing this story, as outlined in the FanFiction-dot-net rules and regulations section.
I'm sure one of you would have asked this in a review, so let me go ahead and address it here. In the BoD future timeline, we explained previously that Vegeta unlocked ASSj while in Hell and trained with Goku some as well (even reformed somewhat). Part of my explanation for this will be given next chapter when we discover more detail about the rules of Hell upon the reanimated corpse. As for his ASSj transformation, even a reanimated corpse is capable of achieving all its potential transformations. But the limitation remains that they cannot train their body to become stronger. That's all I can say for now.
Lastly, special thanks to Rocketto for all her help editing this chapter. If you're looking for another DBZ fanfiction to check out, why not give her story Savior of Demons a try?
Q: What was C47's appearance before he got his upgrades? As in chassis colour, design, etc.?
A: Look up images of HK47 from KoTOR. That's who he is based off of, and I always pictured him the same.
Q: I just wanted to know if it is possible for Trunks to shoot ki blasts from his brave sword by transferring his ki to it. I think it would be pretty cool if he could.
A: Possible, sure. Now that it's been repaired by Shenron without the magic, though, I'm not sure it would hold up.
Q: My only question about this last chapter is how is there a moon orbiting earth? Was it not blown up by piccolo when he was training gohan in this timeline? Or was it wished back or something?
A: It was restored when Dende became the new guardian of Earth. If you'll notice in DBZ movie 13, Wrath of the Dragon, the Moon is also back.
Q: Is Cell biologically immortal? Can Cell survive without water?
A: Truly immortal...I'd say nearly, but not quite. Even with all his abilities, I think time would eventually get the best of Cell. That said, before that time came (we're talking thousands of years at least) he might be able to figure out a way to overcome said limitation. He can also materialize water or whatever else if he needed it. Does he absolutely need to have it...I think that yes, eventually, because he is biological, he does still need some kind of sustenance.
Q: Also, I finally figured out the other reference to Bojack in the section where Vegeta and Broly are fighting; the star system where the battle takes place was known as the Juno System. Now, Bojack's species is known as the Hera-jins, or "the race of Hera". Hera is a goddess in Greek mythology, but when the Greek myths were converted into Roman mythology, Hera's name was changed to... wait for it... Juno. The star system is named after another name for the same deity that inspired the name of Bojack's race; this, combined with the facts that Bojack and his gang were imprisoned inside a star and that Broly destroyed one of the stars of the Juno System during the battle, makes the link obvious. Hopefully, Bojack won't emerge immediately, as Oniya, C47, and the rest of the survivors from Vegeta's fleet are still stuck out on Alpha Juno with only Broly to protect them...
A: SHHHH! You brilliant mind, you! Of course, we did leave enough hints to give it away. That was the point.
Q: I have gotten a little frustrated by how much you have glorified Vegeta in these recent chapters. I hope that there is a little more teamwork to defeat the villains in the Buu arc and beyond.
A: Teamwork is and always will be essential to DBZ. The last thing this or any other story needs is to have Superman come in and defeat every villain after everyone else fails. I really hope that's not how you see BoD though. Vegeta has shared in plenty of challenges along his path, although his victories have been more numerous than in canon as well. That said, what I've had planned for his character will balance out in the end. I have the benefit of knowing how events after the Cell saga transpire, and I assure you Vegeta will not be glorified in every fight as some savior. He's a dedicated fighter who is committed to a lifelong pursuit of becoming stronger, but he still has much to learn about what happiness is. I also will say, I don't think any of Vegeta's victories so far have been totally unfeasible.
Q: Was this your idea from the Beginning having Gohan assisting Vegeta in the end? I mean, from the proud prince's old point of view, getting help from another fighter was as much as bad, weak and only a worm's doing as helping another fighter.
A: I knew all along about Vegeta's weak spot which would give Cell the surprising upper hand, and I knew all along Vegeta would self-destruct, only this time he'd be successful. However, Gohan's help in the situation was not always in my mind, though I knew he would be important. Mainly, it was an attempt at fairness and giving Gohan a hand in beating Cell, plus not making Vegeta the sole hero.
Q: With Goku dead, and Guru also dead, can't goku go to him and get him to unlock the rest of his potential? or is that something only possible under the power of a elder supreme sort of individual?
A: I'm given the impression by the series that Guru's power unlock only works on a person once. I'm also led to believe based on canon that it isn't very significant or certainly isn't a true potential boost.
Q: The music mix is also bloody brilliant! Even after finishing the chapter, I've left it going on a loop in the background, because it is so awesome! I've always loved Falconer's music for the series, and your arrangement fits the chapter really well. I really appreciate the extra effort you went to here.
A: I'm very glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to work on and even more fun to listen to once I finished it. Recently, I've been working on an edit of Hans Zimmer's new Man of Steel soundtrack combined with John Williams old Superman soundtrack.
Q: Will Janemba be included in BoD?
A: Actually, I can't say the current plans include him. Nothing against the film, but he is a little overdone in fanfiction, and rarely done well. I also like to develop my villains a lot, and he's...lacking on the backstory.
Q: This is the work of true weavers of dreams. This dreams are true to the source, to human nature. This is a marvellous work of art.
A: I typically don't respond to praise, so as to not seem egotistic. But thank you.
Q: Did you get the idea for Vegeta's death by watching the TV show Heroes?
A: Actually, yes. David and I were both big fans of Heroes back in the day. We considered that scene when planning and took some inspiration from it.
Q: How many views do you get per chapter?
A: An average of about 4,000 views per chapter.
Q: Power levels please? How strong are canon perfect and super perfect cell?
A: I'll have to get back to you on that. Without David, I've got to get all that info organized and written down for comparison to canon.
Q: When is the original BoD villain going to appear?
A: Soon, but not immediately soon.
Q: This chapter made me hate cell even more. His annoying escaping or coming back is at times just total bullshit. I know drama is needed for a good story, but it was rather over used with cell.
A: As a villain, these are all his strengths. And I was playing to them, sure, but they are far from what you describe. Go read Honor Trip if you want to see Cell's abilities really shown in depth. Or, in this case, never read it because you'd hate it. Also, having him come back so many times helps reinforce just how big a deal it is to actually beat him for good—and why Vegeta had to grab him and not let go to make sure he couldn't escape.
Q: Oh man, what is Satan going to say this time? That he obliterated Cell with one of his tried and true patented dynamite kicks while no one was looking?
A: I don't think even he knows what he's going to say. With how much everyone saw, his lie will have to be well-constructed. Or perhaps with his reputation, the humans will fall in line without question. Who knows?
Q: What about the dragon balls? They're still orbiting the sun, right?
A: Piccolo flew into space and got them this chapter.
Q: Why would any of the Z-Fighters hide their powers? Specifically Gohan in high school?
A: Toriyama wanted to make the world more realistic suddenly, mostly in an attempt to appeal to the generation of viewers currently in high school. Additionally, it follows the superhero trend of having a secret identity...nothing new there.
Q: Couldn't Cell have just Instant Transmitted out of Vegeta's grasp? Or use his energy to push Vegeta away from him, with an explosive wave maybe?
A: Vegeta's hold on Cell meant that even if he could somehow instant transmit (which he couldn't) that Vegeta would have gone with him. Plus, Cell was in severe pain from the pressure lock the prince had him in. He wasn't going anywhere.
Q: How was Cell still stronger than 2 half-powered SSJ2's?
A: Well, neither were exactly at half strength. But strength isn't exactly linear when it comes to teaming up unless you're combining everything into a single beam attack. In the case of Cell, regeneration works in proportion to his body's normal healing, essentially speeding up his recovery. He was able to recover from his wounds, and get back some small bits of the power he'd lost while neither Gohan nor Vegeta were able to. Plus, he couldn't be beaten the normal way, otherwise they might have still been able to win.