Otherworld Saga, Part 2: Storm the Gates of Hell
"It's a good thing you didn't rush off alone," Goku said, addressing Pikkon for the first time. The green-skinned warrior, who seemed to already know his way around Otherworld, flew just out in front of the two dead Saiyans. Though he found it unlikely he'd need any help handling the small uprising, he wasn't the type to get defensive over it. Rolling onto his back with his arms folded, he watched Goku as the Saiyan continued. "I'm sure you're a really tough guy, but I doubt you can handle someone like Cell—by yourself, that is." The pure-hearted Saiyan was trying his best not to sound insulting.
"Just stay out of my way." Vegeta accelerated and cut in, his tone leaving no room to doubt both his seriousness and his excitement. "That includes you, Kakarott. Neither of you would stand a chance against Cell anyway."
"Aw, but Vegeta, that's not fair! Cell killed me too, y'know—and with a cheap shot, no less. How about you let me have a go at him first? I mean, you got to beat him already, so it's only fair."
"Hmph," the dead prince scoffed. He knew his stubbornness was nothing more than a play to assert his dominance, to be the alpha of the pack and satisfy his pride—but Kakarott had asked politely... "Well, Kakarott, I suppose you've got a point. Although I'll no doubt have to step in to finish the job, I'll allow you to give it a try. He nearly killed you in the future as well, if I recall. I'd say your pride is definitely on the line."
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that." Being reminded of his first brush with Cell sobered Goku. "So...we have a deal, then?"
"I'll allow it, if only because it is your right as a Saiyan warrior to face him on your own. Besides, if you can't even defeat Cell, our own fight may be much less enjoyable than I had previously anticipated. Anyway, so long as we're calling dibs, Frieza is mine and mine alone."
"Of course," agreed Goku. The prospect of facing Cell might have been a treat under different circumstances, but the younger Saiyan reminded himself that this was much more serious. Gero's final android had proven to be a creature of total depravity, undeserving of mercy or pity. Cell had wrought chaos and destruction across two timelines in his life, and Hell had seemingly done nothing to temper his lust for death. Goku knew he would have to somehow find a way to end this once and for all.
Cell's yellow foot ground downwards, slowly crushing yet another poor ogre's skull into Hell's dry dirt. Surrounding the bio-android, a small band of villains crossed their arms smugly. Their new gang leader was an inspiration, proving to be quite gifted at unifying the various residents of the eternal prison. Although Frieza himself had tried several times to escape from Hell unsuccessfully, he and the others were sure things would be different this time around—Cell's power was in an entirely new league.
"Last chance to escape with your head intact!" the creature laughed, pressing downward even harder, the dirt beneath beginning to give way. "Tell me the way out of this place, now!"
Frieza allowed a slight chuckle, impressed with Cell's cruelty, if not so much by his undignified methods. At his own feet an ogre in similar shape dared not move with Frieza's tail coiled around his neck. The entire horizon surrounding them was nothing but dead, jagged formations protruding out of the ground ominously. The brown dirt beneath them was a lifeless void, barren and harsh. And in the center of all, a pond of blood, as deep and thick as their own guilt. But from the rolling clouds above them, three tiny figures suddenly descended into their cursed realm.
"I—I...don't know..." the bearded red ogre mumbled, fighting just to hold on through the pain. "I...swear...please, just let me go..."
Cell smiled, releasing the pressure from his foot for a moment. "Hmm. I do believe you. Sadly, though, I'm afraid that makes you..." he paused rearing his leg back, "EXPENDABLE!"
The creature was launched into the air at blinding speed, his fragile life about to be impaled on the one of the many spiked domes dotting Hell's landscape. Just before, however, Cell's eyes suddenly narrowed. In a particularly malicious act of cruelty, he suddenly clenched his fist, causing the ogre's body to detonate from within—a move which made Frieza's eyes light up with admiration. It was a technique he might have used himself.
"Not today, Goku," Cell laughed loudly, watching as the Saiyan of Earth arrived only an instant too late. "You think you can sneak up on me? Hah, don't make me laugh!"
The hero looked furious, seeing an innocent life taken just to spite him. "Rrrr, Cell! Enough is enough! Even in death you refuse to change your ways. Hell isn't enough of a punishment for the likes of you! Whatever it takes, I've had enough of your depravity, and I will stop you!"
"Spare me from your boring speeches, Goku, I've heard them all before. Besides, just what would you hope to do anyway?" the maniacal android laughed. "Killing me is out of the question; as you can see I'm already dead. Plus, I'm certain you don't stand a chance of beating me. Go ahead—power up as far as you want. You can't even comprehend the magnitude of my newfound strength; I'm vastly more powerful than when I killed you."
"—Hah! Are you, now?" Vegeta's body suddenly materialized beside the other Saiyan, a huge grin on his face. "And just how does that strength of yours stack up against mine, I wonder?!"
"Ve-geta!" Cell stammered, quickly composing himself. This changed everything. Defeating Goku was one thing, but him and Vegeta together...
"NO! IT CAN'T BE!" another of Hell's villains suddenly yelled.
Even now, Frieza's voice was distinct, unforgettable—the prince immediately recalled those chilling tones. This time, though, he felt not even the slightest shiver of fear. Though the memory of facing Frieza on Namek seemed to momentarily transport him through time, reminding him of a much more foolish and misguided version of himself, it also brought him a refreshing dose of pride in his vengeance.
But the Arcosian prince had come to terms with his defeat over the years, to an extent—not even he was beyond the vain dream that one day he might get his shot at revenge. Still, he'd sworn to himself that he'd never show fear like that again, not after his shameful display on Namek. Legend or not, he knew beyond a doubt that he was still far more worthy to rule than a filthy monkey.
"Don't lose your nerve, my friend," Cell said with affected calmness, attempting to appear at ease. "I'm the one who killed him, after all. Both of the so-called Super Saiyans shall soon be dealt with."
"Oh, is that the lie you're telling everyone now, Cell?" Vegeta interrupted. "I seem to recall I was the one to deal the finishing blow to you. My own life was a small price to pay for that victory. Still, I doubt you've earned the right to spin this into some kind of half-victory. You're here, while Kakarott and I will soon be wished back to life. If you call that a victory, you're welcome to it."
Cell face contorted. "I WILL find a way out of this insufferable prison, I promise you that!" he snarled. As the twisted gears of his mind turned, though, his confidence returned once more. "But I am glad to see you, Vegeta. The very fact that you're here only further proves to me this supernatural dungeon can be escaped."
"An excellent observation, my friend!" Frieza interrupted with a smirk. "I seem to recall your blood-stained hands reporting back to me faithfully, Vegeta—slaughtering each world I commanded of you. What an efficient exterminator you were. And now it seems you've found a way around the Otherworld system, hehe...where else would you have come to this hell from?"
"Well said, Frieza," Cell added. "So, are we going to bargain or must I pay you a beating before you show us the way out of here?"
"Enough talk," Pikkon said suddenly, his presence having gone largely unnoticed until now. Flashing his ki to life, the green-skinned fighter was suddenly enveloped in an extremely bright aura of fire. He spun in place, his white garments catching wind as they glowed. "This ends."
Quick to act, Goku put his hand up beside him. "No, Pikkon. There's more going on here than you understand." But even as he turned, he felt the aliens power level continued to rise, far exceeding his expectations. "Wait, Pikkon, it's not enough!" Goku yelled, even as the bright blur rushed past him.
"Hah. Fool." Cell grinned, summoning his own strength. The golden hued ki he'd inherited from his Super Saiyan dna shot out around him as he prepared to defend the attack. "You dare to challenge me at that level?" the bio-android laughed.
BLAM! Pikkon was stopped mid-swing.
"What did I tell you, green bean!?" Vegeta growled, his hand firmly gripped around Pikkon's wrist. Even his momentum had been completely negated, and from how Pikkon's eyes widened it was clear that he was quite shocked. "You stay out of this until I say! Understood!?" Vegeta had needed to momentarily use a good portion of his speed in order to catch Pikkon—and a fair amount of strength too—but was unwilling to let on to that fact. The green warrior was silent for a moment, as if trying to reconcile his options. He even considered attacking Vegeta as well as the others. Eventually, the prince took his silence as compliance and released his grip. He then turned to Cell with a grin.
"And as for you, I think we were all starting to get bored with your empty threats anyway. I say it's time to shut you up."
"Ah, more of your eloquent speeches...oh how I've missed them, Vegeta," he intoned with sarcasm. "Well...why don't we get down to it, then? I just can't wait to hear more of your witticisms," Cell laughed, preparing to power up to his maximum. He knew full well a fight with Vegeta would be no joking matter.
"By all means," Vegeta replied, resisting the urge to take Cell's bait. "You certainly need to be put in your place. Only, I'm afraid any hopes you have of beating me must die here and now."
"Yeah, I'll take it from here," the other Saiyan said, quickly zipping over to where they were standing.
"Assuming you actually can," Vegeta remarked, folding his arms at Kakarott's arrival. "We both know it'll be me who ends up finishing him off."
"Look at you, Vegeta, acting all tough," Goku said with a smile. Even now, the gradual reformations in his Saiyan comrade's character were evident. He was certainly controlling his temper better than ever before at least. "Don't forget, you just sacrificed yourself to save the entire planet... You're practically a hero now, you big softie."
"Don't make me puke, Kakarott!" the prince's quickly quipped, caught off guard. "Mention that again and I'll beat you into a pulp instead of these goons, understand?"
"Sure, whatever you say, buddy," Goku continued with a grin. "Just leave him to me this time."
"Hah! You honestly think you'll be a match for me?" Cell chuckled, hardly believing his stroke of luck. "Really, you must be losing it."
"Is that so?" Goku replied, his tone now serious. "I guess when you impale your enemies with surprise attacks it makes winning a lot easier. But I have a hunch things won't be so simple this time."
"Hmph. As if I couldn't have just as easily ended you in so-called 'fair combat'," the monster replied. "Still, I suppose it wasn't exactly the most satisfying conclusion for either of us."
"You might could say that," Goku said, his fingertips pulsing, itching for battle. This was a foe who, despite his sometimes pleasant demeanor, was as ruthless and wicked as any he'd ever faced. Cell had to be stopped once again, lest he find a way to cause even more misery through his existence. A flash in his eyes, a spark of heat through his ears, the sudden thick intensity of the air, and they were off.
"Now you'll pay, Cell!" the Super Saiyan yelled, his first attack brushing through empty air as Cell dashed into the sky. Wheeling in midair, the bio-android spun back towards his foe, accompanied by the all too familiar buzz of his wings against the air. His kick came in quickly, a half attempt to catch Goku unprepared. Naturally, the Saiyan avoided it, leaping backward. Cell then continued his assault by flowing into a progression of jabs and the occasional sweep kick. All the while, Goku vaulted away end over end, avoiding each one with precision. Seeing the acrobatic display, as well as the observable ease with which Goku maintained his expression, Cell finished his strikes off with a powerful one handed energy blast. The yellow-hued attack struck the ground of hell with ferocious intensity, detonating against it and spewing dust all through the air.
"Hmhm..." Cell said, waiting a moment for the air to clear. "Well, you're pretty spry for a dead man, Goku. That much I'll give you. But this is only a small taste of my power."
Standing back to back behind Cell, the Super Saiyan had easily avoided the blast radius of the attack. "Hmph," Goku smiled in return, crouching back into a fighting stance. "I see no point in playing around, since we already know the outcome of this fight. What do you say, Cell?"
Gero's creature shut his eyes smugly, lowering his chin. "I was hoping to have a bit of fun before we got down to it... But, if you insist..."
Frieza lost sight of Goku and Cell almost immediately. In fact, none of the souls in Hell could track the movements of the pair once they took off again. But the Arcosian had bigger things to worry about. Vegeta slowly descended in front of him, dissipating out of his Super Saiyan state even as he approached. The simple act of untransforming was almost an insult in and of itself.
"Well, Frieza, I never thought I'd see the day when you and I faced off once again. And yet, here we are... It must be destiny," he laughed.
"Hehehe," the tyrant chuckled. "So you say, Vegeta. If there's a single thought that has consumed my entire existence in this miserable realm, it's been my one desire to get my revenge upon you!"
"That so? Such a shame that I won't be able to oblige."
Despite the insanity of facing someone a dozen times stronger than oneself, Frieza refused to cower. Vegeta had always been a thorn in his side, but over time he'd come to see that, in a way, everything about the Saiyan was a byproduct of his own actions. The prince would have never achieved anything in his life without the Planet Trade empire—neither his growing level of strength from serving Frieza nor the Super Saiyan transformation itself. Yes, he could see the paper trail now. Hindsight had allowed him to think on what might have happened had he not destroyed the Saiyan homeworld. It had all been nothing but a miscalculation of risks. United, the Saiyan race may have posed a threat to his prior forms...but there was simply no way that one species, even at the pinnacle of its strength, could contest with the might of Frieza's full power. He'd unknowingly traded that slim chance of a combined assault for the wrath of a vengeful Super Saiyan—the single being in the known universe capable of challenging his might as undisputed emperor. Not only that, but he'd driven Vegeta, pushed him, given him the opportunities needed to increase his strength and hone his battle instincts. Nearly everything about the ruthless Saiyan was a byproduct of his time spent serving the master of the universe. Encased in the golden flame of his legendary power, Vegeta might appear to be invulnerable to some. But not to Frieza, who knew him so well—who'd helped shape and craft him into the person he was for so many years. Vegeta had many weaknesses...
"If you expect me to tremble before your might, Vegeta, you'll find no such satisfaction here. After all, what have I to fear from a monkey who accidentally learned how to set himself on fire? Hahaha. Perhaps I exaggerate," the frost demon said slyly. "Then again, when I discovered your pathetic race you were nothing but unevolved beasts, squabbling with each other and hurling your own feces as ammunition. Not too terribly much has changed, it would seem."
Vegeta was silent, but from his face alone Frieza surmised that he was beginning to have an effect on the warrior. He'd have his fun even if he knew he couldn't win.
"But really, bravo to you," Frieza continued. "For one of such humble beginnings, you really have risen to a high rank in the universe. From dirty monkey to golden ape, that's a big step." The Arcosian laughed again, turning his hands out at his sides smugly. "Well, perhaps I am being unfair, Vegeta. After all, you did outlast the rest of your miserable species. Though that may be due to my own mercy rather to your own skills of survival. From what I recall of Saiyans, you certainly don't rank among the brightest I've encountered."
If looks alone could kill, Frieza might have died a second time. Yet the prince still remained silent.
"Oh...what's the matter, poor Vegeta? You've always had a talent for repeating my own comebacks over the years, never with so much eloquence as in the original delivery, mind you, but I noticed the effort. What happened to all those one-liners, speeches about your pride and your warrior race? Really, and I had so looked forward to trading insults with you," Frieza laughed smugly, the purple keratin shields on his shoulders rising and falling with each chuckle. "Ah, but I forget... The memory span of an ape isn't nearly long enough for you to be able to recall those old tricks after so much time. Perhaps you should simply go back to being my servant in order to refresh your mind on how a true ruler conducts themselves?"
"That's quite enough, Frieza," Vegeta finally replied, his voice steady and unemotional. "You'll find playing off my propensity to snap at petty insults and affronts to my pride is considerably more difficult than before. I could care less about your attempts to illicit some kind of reaction from me, I simply was curious if after all this time you'd come to accept your inferiority. Instead I find you just as blind and delusional as ever. Here we were, finally meeting again after all this time, and you still know nothing about me. Predictable."
"Hahaha," Frieza laughed again, his voice trailing off naturally. "Well, well...perhaps you have matured a little after all. What a shame, since I always took so much enjoyment from seeing you tortured by my little insults. Really, Vegeta, you had learned to hold your tongue quite well in my presence. If not for the subtle twitches in your all-too-revealing face, sometimes barely able to contain your hatred for me, I might have given up on such childish tactics years ago. Then again, I think a part of you grew to crave and enjoy being put in your place, as if your very nature confirmed the truths I spoke, haha."
Frieza cracked open his eyes slowly, his face still smug, hands on his hips. How many times had he dreamed of this conversation, imagined his insults, planned out his demeanor? In the elation of the moment, following his mental script, he suddenly realized he'd failed to take into account the possibility that Vegeta would be unaffected. Never before had he stood by so carelessly idle when assaults were being made against his pride. What had changed so much about the Super Saiyan? Truly, he wasn't the same person as before. There were no signs of frustration in his face, no twitches of anger or even fluctuations in his energy. It made no sense.
"Frieza, would you like to know something about true Saiyan pride?" Vegeta asked calmly—almost too flatly, as if he were about to attack. Frieza subconsciously prepared his defenses in response, but made no move. "It's something you could never understand. You can no more attack my pride than you can claim the title 'strongest in the universe'."
"Hah! So this is the part where you boast that you've outgrown the fallacies of your race? You think I'd never understand... Me—a foremost member of the most evolved, highly intelligent, and powerful race in the universe. Seems perfectly sensible, Vegeta, I must be the idiot here," Frieza said sarcastically.
Vegeta allowed a slight chuckle, though with tones of amusement, not of threat. "Saiyan pride comes from being true to yourself, Frieza," he instructed. "When a warrior is tested, when his resolve and everything he believes is put to the chopping block, the only one who loses his pride is the one who compromises. I and I alone am responsible for upholding that pride, it's not something that you can just spit on with your words."
Frieza could only wait there, listening.
"I used to believe it was my duty to bear the weight of my entire race—their cares, their beliefs, even their due vengeance. I held the fiery will of an entire species within my heart, my burning burden to carry. For years I felt that I owed them the chance to begin anew, that in me could be preserved the wholeness of my race. I would pass it along to my children and they to theirs, until one day the Saiyan race could finally recover all that you stole from us." Vegeta paused briefly, looking square into Frieza's eyes. "But the Saiyan race of old is dead. Their ideology, along with all the fallacies you love reminding me of, are no more."
Frieza's eyes widened.
"Out of my lineage shall be born a new Saiyan race, more glorious and mighty than you could possibly imagine. History will record our strength as unchallenged down through the corridors of time itself." Vegeta grinned pridefully. "It has already begun."
"Tch! You're nothing but a dead man, and along with your Saiyan friend's death your entire race has finally been eradicated from the universe! I've already thanked my dear friend Cell for that," the Arcosian quickly said, trying to regain ground.
"You're wrong, Frieza," the prince's voice rose in volume, something akin to joy almost on his lips. "I have a son, strong of will and body, who has already risen to claim the power of a Super Saiyan. Even if I were to never return to the world of the living, he would pass on my legacy to future generations. Your race is extinct, Frieza...while mine—it's only just beginning!"
The indomitable tyrant's will wasn't something easily eroded, and yet Vegeta seemed to be doing just that—effortlessly, even. For a moment of silence, the warriors gathered around Frieza all awaited his reply. The Arcosian remained quiet, his face bunched into a snarl.
Those gathered around the two powerhouses began to mumble to themselves. "Why's he just standing there?" Burter whispered to his red-skinned pal.
"I dunno, mate. But I've never seen someone get to Lord Frieza like this before," Jeice replied. "Vegeta...who'd have thought he'd ever actually defeat the boss?"
"I know, right?" the speedster agreed, finding himself just as hesitant as the other members of the Ginyu force to engage in any combat with the Super Saiyan. "Never thought we'd be back against the ropes to him."
"Uh, you gonna be okay, boss?" Recoome finally asked, a little louder, scratching the top of his head with a gloved index finger all the while. When Frieza made no reply, he turned to his buddies. "Maybe we should help him out, guys? Y'know, hold Vegeta down or something."
Suddenly, however, bits of rock and and dirt began to rise in the air all around Frieza. His energy was swelling up tremendously. The Ginyu force stepped back hesitantly, bracing against the sudden wind.
The Arcosian's body tensed and tightened as he powered up to what Vegeta recalled as Frieza's 100% state. The transformation took far less time than he remembered, but all the same it was a bit surreal. Witnessing the power of the man he had feared for most of his life, which now seemed nothing but a mere trifle, gave him a strange sensation of confidence.
"I will defeat you, Vegeta, if it's the last thing I do," Frieza said, his voice deathly quiet, but unmistakably enraged to the point of near-blind fury.
"What's stopping you?"
Screaming, the Arcosian sprang forward to unleash his full fury upon the Saiyan
Pikkon had never felt so out of place before. These Saiyans were extremely rude and dismissive of him, which might have started to wear on a lesser man. Nevertheless, both Goku and Vegeta exceeded his expectations in terms of strength—not that he felt outmatched, but he saw that they needed no help. As he sat there, still and silent, watching the two battles taking place, he felt something the others had overlooked. Hell was vast, and not all of it was merely the dry, barren, wasteland they saw now. There seemed to be trouble all over, small clusters of evil energy signatures scattered across the land—and accompanying them, the kis of hell's diligent Ogre workers. Pikkon flew slowly, picking up the exact location of the nearest grouping.
"Woah there, green bloke, wait just a second!" Jeice chuckled, he and the other three Ginyus bolting into place blocking Pikkon's way. "We wouldn't want any of the bodgy fighters like yourself to go off and interfere with our plans elsewhere. It's a piece of piss, but orders are orders. So prepare to face the one and only Ginyu Force!"
"THAT'S RIGHT!" the Ginyu force echoed behind him, forming angular poses midair with their arms, legs, and heads.
"Fine," Pikkon muttered. "If you insist."
It was over before Burter could even brag about his speed. Pikkon spun and kicked the tall blue fighter in the side of the head, instantly knocking him out and also sending him colliding into Guldo, who was also instantly KO'd. The next second Recoome got a crippling elbow in his back, followed by Jeice getting punched directly in the nose. A feeling of deja vu swept over him even as his mind faded to black. Even before they'd fallen to the ground, Pikkon was gone.
Within a few seconds, he arrived at a similar scene to the one he'd just left. A tall demon, similar in stature to the one called Frieza, raised a wounded ogre into the air by his tail—the tight coils threatening to suffocate the bearded worker. Behind him were several other residents of the afterlife, faces Goku and Vegeta would have recognized instantly. Raditz Jr, Frieza Jr, Dr. Gero, Salza, Zarbon, Cui, and Dodoria all stood confidently behind Cooler himself as they attempted to retrieve information on escaping Hell.
Pikkon halted, hovering immediately above them for a moment as he examined the direness of the situation. This was exactly the kind of filth West Kai had instructed him to deal with and, unlike the two Saiyans, he had no interest in actually fighting the miscreants. They didn't even deserve a warning, they'd made their choice.
With a single zip he freed the ogres, setting them aside at a safe distance. He instantly turned to the others, his eyes sharp and his face silently deadly.
"Hey, just what do you think you're doi—"
Pikkon interrupted Cooler with a casual elbow to the base of his neck, causing him to tumble over limply, unconscious. As the others watched in horror, he continued without giving them any means of escape. Crossing his arms over his chest, the fighter from the west quadrant began to spin his body around rapidly—a vortex to prevent any of the others from fleeing.
Cui, Dodoria, Zarbon, Salza, and even Dr. Gero were swept off their feet, entangled in the whipping silver cyclone. Daggers of wind cut into their bodies as they crashed around, slamming repeatedly into one another. Within another second, Frieza Jr and Raditz Jr were lost as well.
"Who is this guy?!" Raditz Jr yelled over to Frieza Jr, furious that even he was helpless. Amidst the roar of wind, Gero's curses could be heard. Cui and Dodoria's panicked cries were equally pathetic. Zarbon, who'd transformed into his beast form, was still utterly helpless, as was Salza—both seemed just as worried about the condition of their silky hair as they were the rest of their bodies.
With a final push, Pikkon sent out a wave of energy into the tornado, launching each of the villains in opposite directions, sending them flying like torpedoes. Some were impaled on spikes, others were buried beneath the surface, and some were flung for miles in midair before crashing. None, however, could withstand the force of the attack. Pikkon made another quick scan of the area, being certain they were all dealt with, then took off to deal with the next-nearest group of powerful ki signatures.
Only once before, in their previous fight, had Frieza literally screamed out with his body, exerting every single tendon of muscle he had. His each and every swing contained all his will, his wrath, and his might. The veins swelling in his forehead, shoulders, and arms bulged in and out with each pump of his heart. It was everything he had, and more.
WHISH! The breeze of his backhand sweep nearly grazed the lobe of Vegeta's ear. He'd been so close that time. Crushing the ground beneath him, Frieza flipped himself over sideways, extending all his momentum into a quick strike of his tail.
VOOSH! The swipe was so carefully timed, so perfectly executed—yet it too had missed the Saiyan's body by what seemed mere millimeters. How? The difference between their respective powers could not be this great! Vegeta wasn't even fighting as a Super Saiyan.
But Frieza's determination, his supreme and unshakable will, refused to see defeat. He used his favorite flurry of strikes, a practiced series of sweeping kicks, short jabs, and opportune strikes with his tail—none met their mark. Boulders shattered into dust all around from his errant swings, the ground itself opening up in fissures across the land. He was determined though. This time he would not be disgraced, this time he would earn back all that had been stolen from him. He was no longer afraid.
'Fool,' Vegeta silently thought. 'He's fighting me with everything he has. Surely he realizes that his every attempt is futile, and yet...he's going all out. Hmph. It's almost admirable that he still has this kind of determination, reminds me somewhat of my own stubbornness...'
Even as the thoughts echoed in his mind, their significance began to build. It was, perhaps, one of those moments where Vegeta realized that he was turning a sort of corner. Almost in third person, it occurred to him that by feeling the slightest empathy towards Frieza he'd started down a strange and new path. The truest test of his character was before him—how would he treat his greatest enemy of all? But like any other deep revelation, it wouldn't come easily. Almost immediately, Vegeta's stomach turned and twisted at the thought of his empathy—he needed to end this pointless fight.
"This is goodbye, Frieza," he muttered, whipping behind the former emperor. Cupping his hands together, he laid a single strike into the Arcosian's skull, rendering him instantly unconscious. Briefly, he stared in silence at his fallen enemy, lying face first and limp before him in defeat. Everything about their encounter was different this time, so much had changed. Was he only now realizing just the full extent of it?
"What is going on!?" Cell grumbled aloud, the bruises across his shiny black chestplate growing more painful with each added strike Goku made. "I should be far more powerful than this! What kind of trick are you playing, Goku!?"
"Trick?" Goku paused, watching as the bio-android heaved each breath, sweat pouring down his face. "I, uh, thought we were still warming up..." he said innocently. He'd noticed a difference in the fight so far, but he honestly hadn't expected this to happen. Having seen both Gohan and Vegeta achieve Super Saiyan 2, he was sure this fight would be the catalyst he needed to do the same. Only...he was easily managing Cell as a normal Super Saiyan.
"You're lying, Goku. Don't you dare play me for a fool, I knew something was up from the second you wanted to fight me alone. You put some kind of curse on me, didn't you? That must be it, some weakening spell! Leave it to you, Goku, to rely on some kind of cheap trick in order to get your pathetic vengeance!" he yelled, furious.
"Really, Cell, I don't know what you're talking about. It doesn't make sense to me either, but if this is your max power then something is definitely wrong. But I promise I didn't do it."
"Hmph. Were it anyone but you, Goku, I'd be certain they were lying. But as much of an idiot as you are, you may actually be sincere in your ignorance. Either way, this is just not fair! I'm sure you want to fight me at my full strength, Goku—anything less would be unacceptable. Just wait, I'll find a way around this limitation... Let me at least figure this out."
"Suddenly you're all nice and fair, Cell? Is that how this works?" Goku replied quickly. "Need I remind you that fairness is only part of your agenda whenever it serves you?"
"Oh get over it, Goku. So what, I killed you with a cheap shot, big deal." Cell scoffed.
"That was my life, Cell! Even now, you still treat others as if we're nothing but worms compared to you!" Goku yelled. "In the past you've been given more than enough chances by fate, even to the point that you swore it was all part of some grand destiny of yours. At one point I recall you claiming to be a god. Look at you now, Cell...pathetic. You deserve far worse than this and you know it. As if King Yemma would just let you keep your full power after what you've done."
Cell's eyes narrowed in anger as he bit his tongue. "You worthless arrogant Saiyan! Do you honestly believe a place like this can contain me? I'm not some mere trifle, I am the perfect being—I survive and adapt to whatever difficulties I face until I find a way to overcome them! And you..." Cell's anger continued to rise, the monster burning with intensity, attempting to summon his full strength. "...You will not defeat me! You can't!"
"You're wrong, Cell."
Now fully aware of the difference between their respective strengths, Goku suddenly raised his power up near his max—off in another area of Hell, Pikkon's eyes widened as he sensed the incredible energy. He struck hard and quickly, pulverising his enemy's body with an unblockable barrage of blows. Cell could only cringe in pain as the Saiyan dented and destroyed his precious perfect body, one punch at a time. Not even with his prized regeneration could he keep up with the level of damage being rained down on his head.
"I'm done with you, Cell, this is it!" Goku finally said, pausing from his assault. "I never want to see your face again, do you understand?"
His throat gargling with blood, his face dented almost beyond recognition, Cell still found the hatred to murmur his enraged reply. "I...hate...you...and...kgghc...you...will...pay..."
"Suit yourself," the righteous Saiyan said, ready to end it. "I'm sick of this anyway."
In a flash, the normally kind-hearted Saiyan charged his hands with crackling blue energy, his Super Saiyan aura blazing hot as a star. Cell could not track his movements, much less move to defend himself, as Goku clasped his hands together and brought them down on Cell's already damaged head, sending a shockwave of furious energy pulsing through the bio-android's body.
Cell crashed into the surface of Hell, his skull smashing against the rough soil with the impact, forming a deep crater. He didn't even so much as twitch. Goku frowned down silently at the motionless body as he let go of the transformation. He could no longer feel Cell's weakened ki, and was certain that he'd managed to completely knock him out, at least for now. Sighing, Goku pushed off the dusty ground, moving to rejoin Vegeta.
"Well, you managed to pull it off after all, Kakarott—though clearly there were other factors at play."
"Honestly, Vegeta, it was pretty disappointing. I would have gladly faced him at full strength, I was even looking forward to it. But this, I mean...even now, I have my suspicions that he'll just recover and try again. It could be a never ending cycle with this guy."
"Cell does possess all the stubbornness of a Saiyan warrior, not to mention Frieza's arrogance. He'd never willingly resign himself to a fate like this, not until he finally breaks," Vegeta said, both of them seeming to stare at Cell's unmoving body, lying pitifully in the distance. "You might as well get used to it, Kakarott. But there are worse things than having to come down here and beat up on these worthless fools occasionally."
"Yeah, I just know I wouldn't get any enjoyment out of it. Speaking of which, this has made me look forward to our own fight even more. What's say we find our way out of here?"
Pikkon returned a moment later, landing in front of the pair. "All the threats here have been dealt with." Unknown to them, he'd even encountered a group of Saiyans, though none of them were mixed up with Cell or Frieza's escape plans.
"Good job, Pikkon," Goku said with a smile. "You know, I really underestimated what you're capable of—thanks for the help."
"And I underestimated you, Goku," the other smiled, having sensed much of the Saiyan's hidden strength earlier. "I look forward to showing you even more of my power. Perhaps a match between us sometime?"
"Absolutely, right after my fight with Vegeta. I kind of promised I'd fight him first."
The prince laughed, though not as mockingly as he usually did. "No, by all means, Kakarott, go on and fight him. You need every chance to increase your strength you can get. Otherwise, what hope have you of fending off the likes of me?"
"All right!" the friendly Saiyan shouted excitedly. "Now I can't wait to get back!" He quickly made physical contact with Pikkon and Vegeta then placed two fingers on his head. "And, we're off!"
Only, for the first time, nothing happened. Pikkon, who wasn't aware of the technique, brushed Goku's hand off his shoulder quickly—clearly uncomfortable.
"What's wrong, Kakarott? Why didn't the instant transmission work?" Vegeta grumbled, shooting his eyes off into the distance with frustration.
"I don't know. I've never had this happen before."
Using context clues, Pikkon was able to figure the situation out sooner than the others. "Only you and I are free to leave this realm, Goku. Given my understanding of Vegeta's temporary sentencing, the fact that he came down here now makes him a permanent resident of Hell."
"Oh, that must be it then," Goku said, lifting his eyes as he thought. "Now that I think about it, didn't King Yemma warn you not to come down here, Vegeta?"
Silently fuming, the Saiyan prince could only grunt in anger. He'd definitely acted without thinking, but the last thing he wanted was for Goku to rub it in his face.
"Yeah, I guess you should have left me and Pikkon to handle Cell and the others," Goku said, unintentionally rubbing salt in the wound. "Oh well, I suppose it's too late now."
"Of course it's too damn late, Kakarott! Now I'm stuck down here until I'm revived, you idiot!"
"I suppose your battle must take place down here, then," Pikkon said in conclusion. "Unfortunate."
"Maybe..." Goku looked puzzled, as if trying to recall something he couldn't quite remember. Scratching his head, it finally came to him. "Oh hey, there may actually be a way out, Vegeta. I nearly forgot, but during my first trip to Otherworld I fell off of Snake Way and got stuck here myself. But there's actually a secret way out, the same path that King Yemma takes when he comes down here—it leads straight back to his office."
Dropping his frown, Vegeta spun. "Ah! That must be what Cell and the others were trying to find. Perfect, you actually proved helpful for once, Kakarott! Take me to this secret passage immediately!"
"I'm familiar with that route, Goku," Pikkon interrupted. "I'm afraid your friend probably won't be able to get out that way either."
"Why the hell not?" Vegeta snapped.
"Woah, Vegeta, just relax. He said 'probably', so there's still a chance." Goku turned to back to Pikkon, silently awaiting an explanation. The lengthy green fighter shut his eyes, almost in annoyance, but after a second he began his story.
"Long ago, when this realm was created, certain measures were taken to ensure that evil souls had no possible escape from Hell. Likewise, methods were devised in order to allow good souls, mainly employees such as the ogres, to come and go as they please. My master, West Kai, explained all this to me once."
"Sure, that makes sense. Hell's no good if the bad guys can get out," Goku repeated.
"That's correct. But if you and I could become permanently stuck by coming down here to put down riots and such, it would also be quite inefficient as well. As you've already observed, there are many powerful magicks binding this place, and one of those is the one preventing your friend from leaving. Only those with an Otherworld body granted by King Yemma are allowed to leave this place with transportation techniques."
"Yeah, so that's why Instant Transmission failed."
"I assume you mean whatever technique you attempted to leave with," Pikkon said with a nod. "The answer is yes. The secret entrance has similar protective magicks, since any resident of Hell who found it could simply climb the stairs up. I'm not sure what exactly the spell is, but there is one clue. Carved into the bottom of the staircase are the words: 'The chains which bind the doors of hell are closed within thy soul.'
"Oh, so it's...what exactly?" Goku fumbled.
"Clearly, Kakarott, it's referring to the binding magick. It's connected to the evil within one's heart so only innocent fools like yourself may pass."
"Your interpretation is likely correct," Pikkon continued. "I've traveled that way more than once and have never encountered any difficulties, though, so I have no knowledge of its nature. Regardless, just as the magick of this realm has weakened you and these other villains, it's doubtful you'll be immune."
"Wait, what do you mean weakened me—there's even more to this damn curse? I know I haven't felt any different since arriving, how can you be sure?"
"The ones we fought before were unaware of it also, that is, until they attempted to reach their full strength. Some failed to realize it even then. No matter how great the power of someone, without an Otherworld body they can't escape the ancient magicks from reducing their abilities. It's yet another preventative measure that keeps extraordinarily powerful foes from being too much to handle. At least that's my understanding. You are free to try, of course."
"You'd better believe I'm going to try," Vegeta announced angrily.
"But, Vegeta, everything Pikkon is saying makes sense—why Cell was so much weaker, why even Frieza's max power was so much lower than before. What if you can't leave?"
"There's only one sure fire way to test it out, Kakarott, so let's get it over with. Just know that if I am stuck and I find out I'm being weakened by this place, our rematch will be postponed until I find a solution!"
"Of course, Vegeta. I want to fight you at your best, and in a much nicer place than this. But it'll all work out eventually, I'm sure."
Pikkon led the way to Yemma's secret passageway. Just as Goku remembered, it was hidden in a narrow crevice cut into what seemed like the side of a mountain...but as they walked through, the entire mountain melted away and they saw a glittering staircase stretching beyond & up. The silvery stairs seemed to glow, it was a wonder something so elegant could be considered a secret. Just as Pikkon had said, the words The chains which bind the doors of hell are closed within thy soul were carved into the very base of the passage. However it worked, whether it was some sort of mental trial, a magical scanner for the soul, or a simple spell that read the ki signature of the person, Vegeta knew this wouldn't be easy.
Goku casually started up the stairs as if it was no big deal, followed by Pikkon. "Seems fine to me, Vegeta."
The prince, almost like testing the temperature of pool water with his toes, stretched out and gingerly set his foot down. He'd half expected an electric shock to come coursing up through his body, but he felt nothing at all. More confidently, he stepped fully onto the first step, then up onto the second and third.
"Well?" Goku asked.
"Damn it, Kakarott, I'm trying to concentrate here! Would you just shut up!"
"Hey, watch it now, Vegeta. You don't want to go using language like that," the other Saiyan said slyly, almost as if he were enjoying himself far too much. "You might fail the test unless you think only really nice thoughts—like sushi and ramen..." Goku's thoughts immediately trailed off as his mind lost the will to do anything but eat.
"Don't you think I know that, Kakarott! And really, is food all you can think about? You're dead, you don't even need to eat anymore!" Vegeta took a few more steps carefully, still not feeling anything. Nevertheless, he continued mumbling to himself. "...like I need to listen to an idiot like you tell me how to—"
He paused, a slight tingle in his foot, as if gravity were just a fraction greater. A few more steps and he was certain of it. The gravity seemed to be increasing with each step up he took, and though he could handle forces thousands of times stronger than Earth's, this new effect was quickly wearing on him. Step by step, his own body weight seemed to increase...or was it something pulling at him, like a chain tied around his feet? Pikkon and Goku, now three fourths of the way up, seemed unphased.
"Hey, what's the matter, Vegeta?" Goku said, noticing the beads of sweat on the other Saiyan's forehead. "Is something happening?"
Vegeta almost lashed out angrily, but felt a surge of increased weight just before he did. Catching himself, he shut his eyes and forced himself to remain calm. To his surprise, the weight decreased ever so slightly. He shut his eyes, focusing on ignoring his instincts.
"Whatever magic there is here, I'm definitely feeling its effects. Each step I take seems more difficult than the last, as if I'm being pulled back down."
"Well, I guess it could be the millions of people you've killed trying to drag you back to hell," Goku said jokingly. The words, however, were not taken as such.
"You are NOT helping, Kakarott!" Vegeta yelled, powering up into his Super Saiyan form. But the miniscule surge of anger accompanying his transformation was immediately felt; the weight instantly pulled him to his knees. It was as if he wasn't a Super Saiyan at all...this clearly wasn't a test of physical strength.
'Okay,' Vegeta thought, shutting his eyes carefully. 'I can overcome this, I just need to find my focus. Bulma, Trunks...my family...'
Right away he felt lighter, freer, though still not unshackled. Could it be that they weren't enough? At the very least they would allow him to keep pushing forward, so long as he maintained his focus on his loved ones.
'I'm nearly there, just a bit further,' he thought, straining to keep his anger in check. He'd just passed the level of the clouds, but now saw there was still quite a ways to go up to the top.
"He's not going to make it, Goku," Pikkon said, hesitating and turning his eyes down below. "You can't deny the small remaining darkness within his Ki."
"Just give him a little more time, he's almost there. One thing I know about Vegeta, he never gives up on anything."
Vegeta fell forward onto the stairs, catching himself on hands and knees. Drops of sweat fell from his brow onto the steps below him, trickling toward the bottom in a slow trail. He felt exasperated, his breathing heavy and shallow—and yet, nothing about this added up. The inner tests seemed to be manifested in a physical way, yet also on a plane separate from his actual strength. Might alone couldn't help him, but neither could some purely emotional state. Something deeper was required, more than just love for his family. But what? How could he prove himself, how could he overcome ancient spells he knew nothing about? He was almost surprised that the fact he wanted to prove himself at all wasn't enough—it was certainly a big step for him.
Was there still anger, bitterness, darkness binding his heart? He was Vegeta, Emperor of the Planet Trade Organization after all—even if it had begun to diminish over time, he was certain some still remained. This hardly felt like the time for inner reflection, though. He had to try harder, to push more, to…
In a flash, an image rose unbidden to his mind from only minutes earlier: Frieza's face, contorted with strain as he powered up to his maximum. The Arcosian prince had stubbornly exerted his every effort, bravely and boldly facing an adversary he knew he couldn't defeat. In that moment, Vegeta remembered feeling a twinge of something akin to admiration...not just derision and scorn for a weaker creature, but actual empathy. It had stung too, nearly causing the Saiyan to gag at the mere thought. And yet, in that moment, he had truly felt some connection, some similarity to his former lord.
'Frieza...I hated you for so long. You represented everything I loathed, everything that ever held me back. You robbed me of my crown and destroyed my entire race. For decades, I lived on my hatred for you. It was all that sustained me, all that kept me alive, all that kept me fighting.'
The thoughts were flowing more clearly now, and his feet felt lighter.
'But now, seeing you do your worst against me—not driven by your hatred, but out of determination and refusal to surrender...I can't find it in myself to hate you any longer. You may never see it, Frieza, but we might not be so different.' The painful admission, which Vegeta expected to sting like fire, was a surprising relief to admit. He suddenly knew he needed to continue down this train of thought, that there was something freeing about such a revelation—despite all his revulsion about such things. 'Your hatred isn't all that drove you to fight with me today. There was perhaps something more noble behind it, a commitment to fight like a true warrior. The main difference between us now, it seems, isn't a measure of pride or honor...it's the simple truth that over time I've learned to fight for something beside myself. I realize it doesn't atone for all that I've done in my past, but even if it changes nothing I will defend my family—and if I must, the other weaklings on my planet...'
The prince began climbing each step again. It was still maddeningly difficult...but his legs were no longer growing heavier and heavier with each step. If he could only keep on going, keep up the pace until he reached the top…
"Hey, Vegeta! Don't look now, but you're almost to the end!" Goku cheered.
Goku and Pikkon both stood on the final step, an open doorway standing in empty space. Looking back, Vegeta saw the staircase stretching out behind him. The bottom was too far away to make out. He'd covered a lot more distance than he'd realized while reflecting. The climb had been torturously difficult, but it hadn't felt that long. His progress gave him courage, and he took the last few steps more quickly.
But just as he reached the end, he prince felt a crushing weight grip him...it happened so quickly that it yanked him to his hands and knees. As he stared at the silver steps, his head barely inches above them, something strange started to happen. Faintly, an inscription began to appear, either written or carved into the stairs themselves.
ONE MORE THING YOU LACK. THE WAY OUT IS IN; THE WAY UP IS DOWN.
'One more thing...' Was it addressed to him? He blinked, but the words remained. What could it mean? Were the magical stairs telling him to give up—testing his resolve perhaps? It couldn't be, not when he had come this far. He'd made it all the way to the end! After all the breakthroughs he'd had, there was no way he'd let it end like this.
"Come on, Vegeta, just one more step. Here," Goku said with a smile.
Vegeta looked higher. Goku had one hand outstretched, offering to pull him up. But pride rose, dark and heavy, filling him with unbidden anger. He could do this on his own, he needed no one's help, least of all Kakarott's! In his prime he'd never have even considered such unbecoming and idiotic behavior...
...but as the thoughts rose, he felt the weight increase exponentially. He was losing it, regressing back to his old ways, to his former self. Wasn't he supposed to do this on his own, though—a test of his own character? Surely it was a trick to get him to admit weakness, to take the easy way out instead of enduring the struggle himself.
But deep down he already knew the truth—it was in the back of his mind, only he had ignored it. Accepting help from Kakarott was the only way, there could be no other possible interpretation. But the act, and especially the symbolic humility behind it, was not so easy.
As if in answer, the inscription stared back at him. The way up is down.Should he accept Goku's help? Could he accept Goku's help? Was it worth it to lay down his pride, even for an instant?
"Give me that, Kakarott," he finally said, reaching out and catching the other Saiyan's hand.
He felt instant release as the shackles on his body fell away—he wasn't even tired; it had all seemingly been in his mind. He found himself standing with Pikkon and Goku on the final step.
"Nice, Vegeta," Goku said genuinely, making sure not to hold the prince's hand too long. "You really are one of the good guys now."
Vegeta shut his eyes before punching Kakarott in the shoulder. "Shut up," he smiled.
"If your skill in battle is as great as your mental resolve," said the green alien, "I will look forward to challenging you."
Vegeta wiped away the sweat from his forehead, a hint of a smile played at the corner of his mouth. "If you're lucky, you'll see all that and much more." He turned to Goku and gave a curt nod. It wasn't open thanks, but it communicated far more than words would have.
The trio stepped through the doorway and immediately found themselves standing in Yemma's office, his massive chair directly in front of them. Startled, the giant ogre stood up and turned around. "Vegeta!? You made it out! Hah, I'd have never believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes…"
"You warned me not to go down there fully expecting I'd be unable to escape, didn't you?" Vegeta grunted. "Well, I guess even a demigod like you can be wrong sometimes." He felt like getting angry, but Yemma's uncomfortableness was amusing to watch.
Goku grinned broadly. "See, what did I tell you? Vegeta's all right."
Yemma grunted. "Hmm, well I must say, that does seem to be the case. But don't expect me to grant you full access and an Otherworld body just because you managed to climb my staircase. That old thing has a mind of its own, always has..."
"Tch, don't bother with it," the prince chuckled as they walked toward the exit of Yemma's office. "I'm doing just fine with this body, thanks."
Goku interrupted. "Now that we're out of hell, Instant Transmission should work just fine. Shall we head back to Grand Kai's planet?"
"Fine by me," answered Vegeta.
"Great! I just can't wait to fight with some of the guys up here—that is, after I get a big meal—"
Suddenly, Goku felt a shudder run through his body. His own ki was there in the room with them, somehow detached from himself. How...what…? He and Vegeta realized what was happening in the same moment, spinning around behind them in shock.
"CELL!?" roared Yemma, whipping around. Before he could say another word, an invisible force flung his massive body across the room, slamming him into the wall with a deep rumble. Cell's form rose up behind the mahogany desk, his super perfect aura crackling with lightning.
"You fools!" shouted the android, his eyes wild with crazed excitement. "I overheard your entire plan! After all we've been through together, you still haven't learned that when I say I'm going to do something, it's as good as done! I told you I'd be free of that pit...but still, you fail to comprehend the depth of my cunning!"
Goku burst immediately into his Super Saiyan form, but his eyes were wide in utter amazement. Cell's power was immense, far beyond his own. "But...how did you...how could you make it up the staircase? There's just...no way you could have achieved the inner peace Vegeta did!"
Beside him, Vegeta also exploded into his Super Saiyan state. "Answer him, Cell! How the hell did you get here?"
TAC. Cell landed on the desk with his arms folded across his chest. "Nice choice of words, Vegeta," the bio android chuckled. "Don't forget, Goku: I have your cells. Climbing the staircase is a matter of nothing more than clearing your ki signature of evil, and your ki signature gave me all the purity of heart I could ever need. Even in my imperfect form, my control over ki was enough to fool all of your friends into thinking I was you. In this form, tricking the staircase into accepting your ki again just after you had passed over it was child's play!"
"That...demon!" grunted Goku, furious. "He just keeps coming back, again and again... How much longer are we gonna let this go on?"
"Best of all," continued Cell, his voice rising to a shout, "I'm now completely free of whatever curse was draining my power before, just as I predicted!" He turned towards Yemma with a smile, the giant staring wide eyed at the monster before him. "You have no power here, great 'King'. My full strength is now at my disposal. You will all fall like chaff before me! I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be a god forever!"
"You know we won't let that happen, Cell," retorted Goku. His mind was racing. They couldn't just send Cell back to Hell...even if he used Instant Transmission to take him there, the creature would only escape again.
"And just how do you in your feeble imagination design to stop me?" the creature roared, his energy causing the very walls of the room to crack. "Haven't we been down this road before, Goku? You'll have to destroy me completely, or have you forgotten, haha? Even if you somehow had the power, you certainly don't have the guts!"
Goku and Vegeta stole a glance at one another, fire in their eyes...
Greetings, everyone! I appreciate all the patience you showed in waiting for this chapter. I sincerely hope the next update will not take near as long. Special recognition to Ryu no Ohi for assisting me this chapter with edits and partnering me in discussions of Otherworld physics. Now, regarding this chapter: as you all noticed, me and my collaborators tried very hard to fill in several of the plot inconsistencies about the DBZ anime. It made no sense that Pikkon could defeat Super Perfect Cell and also lose against Goku—one of my goals was to explain that. I don't take anime filler as undisputed truth, as you guys know, but I prefer to incorporate a system in which those events can exist without being a contradiction. Any slight changes you might observe were done purposefully and for the sake of making a coherent Otherworld nerfing system. If you're looking for answers about who created the original system, it was likely the Kaioshins of the past, which were far more powerful and involved than Supreme Kai of DBZ.
Speaking of the system, I'm sure you're wondering exactly how it works. It is based upon the principle of how much evil is in someone's heart, and unlike the stairway it has nothing to do with Ki. This system searches deep inside of a person like a virus which seeks out evil. When it finds a wicked heart it latches on and begins to leech off its power immediately. It has been known to drain over half of a fighters energy before, though its effects have also been known to change due to someone becoming less evil. One such example is our very own future timeline Vegeta. It was explained before that he discovered the Ascended form whilst in Hell training. How is this possible? How could he get stronger, and also didn't we state there are no changes of form in Hell? The answer is that Vegeta became a little less evil gradually over time, gaining more and more access to his power. He was still limited in comparison to Goku, and was well aware of it, but he nonetheless continued improving however he could. Regarding the change in form, the Super Saiyan transformations seem to be an exception. However, since one cannot truly get any stronger with a reanimated corpse body, Vegeta wouldn't have been able to increase his power enough to learn SSj2, for example.
Does that also mean that this chapter Vegeta was somewhat nerfed by Hell's system? We didn't exactly clarify in chapter did we. Well, the truth is that he was, if only ever so slightly. While Cell was suppressed down to half of his strength, Vegeta only lost a very small percentage. However, theoretically, it would have been enough for Goku to surpass him in their normal SSj states (excluding SSj2, obviously).
I'm sure some of you will be groaning about the return of Cell in this chapter. It's not that we like bringing him back again and again for cliffhangers...but I do enjoy cliffhangers, and this way we also get to deal with the situation of what if someone escaped from hell. Whether you love seeing Cell come back or you never want to see him again, though, we're sure this next chapter will be all you could ever want.
Here are the list of power levels for this chapter (The percentage is the level of power available to that fighter):
Super Perfect Cell (Hell Suppressed, 50%): 895 million
Frieza (Hell Suppressed, 60%): 72 million
Goku: 365 million
Goku (FPSSj): 1.115 billion
Vegeta: 410 million
Vegeta (FPSSj): 1.16 billion
Vegeta (Hell Suppressed, 95%): 1.102 billion
Super Perfect Cell (Escaped from Hell): 1.79 billion
Now for some good old Q and A. For next time, props to anybody who knows where I borrowed the title for this chapter from.
Q: Will Goten appear in the story? And could Cell have possibly kicked off part of his leg to regenerate from after the explosion?
A: The younger son of Goku will be dealt with sometime soon, whenever we get there. I'm not sure if Cell would be able to do that, it seems more like a Buu level feat. Cell is purely biological and he'd have to forcibly remove his leg or a part of himself, he couldn't just let it kind of 'blob' off like Buu would. So I think the answer is no. And although Cell has certainly escaped from Hell one last time, he absolutely DID NOT survive in ANY form in the living world.
Q: Is Vegeta going to participate in the other world tournament?
A: That is something that you will find out within the next chapter most likely.
Q: Gonna do Kuriza?
A: No plans for him right now.
Q: Back on Namek everyone ON Namek was revived, which would mean the Ginyu Force, Zarbon, Dodoria and Frieza's goons would have been revived, wouldn't it?
A: No, they specifically said everyone except Frieza's minions.
Q: What takes you so long to write each chapter?
A: Well, I'm a grown man with a full time teaching job and lots of responsibilities. BoD is fun, but I am not going to sacrifice my relationships with friends or family or shirk my other duties just to get a chapter published sooner. Sometimes I do wish I could do this full time, but I also love my job too. I consider myself fortunate to be able to have the time I do devote to this, even if it is less than before. Lastly, there is also such a thing as Skyrim, which may or may not consume some of my writing time.
Q: I won't be able to do a simple Review, due to today finding out that your friend and co-author, David, has passed away.
A: He's not dead, I promise you. I told him of your review and he was touched someone cared though.
Q: There are so many other options to get there other than waiting for Bulma to build a ship it just seems strange they weren't addressed.
A: The plot wants this to happen, man! You gotta trust me, haha. No, I admit that if they wanted to go to Namek right away they could have wished to do so. But they didn't "need" to wish to get there since they had a normal way of travel.
Q: What percentage of power did Cell have left when he was at his lowest in the fight against SS2 Vegeta? When was Cell at his lowest? Was it after he regenerated from his failed self-detonation?
A: We tried to make the final showdown between Cell and Vegeta more about techniques and endurance than power levels alone, so we really didn't bother to nail down exact power levels. But Cell was clearly at his lowest power level immediately after blowing his body to pieces in his failed self-detonation; in that state, he would have had difficulty defending himself against even some of the weaker Z Fighters. After regenerating, he would have been strong enough to beat Krillin or C47, but not strong enough to beat FPSSj Goku.
Q: Vegeta's continued ruthlessness is probably proving Yemma right in not giving him the same privileges he gave Goku. While it's undeniable that he had a change of heart, ripping through his opponents like that when all he had regarding Otherworld bodies was a mere suspicion is kind of... well, at minimum, quite the asshole move.
A: You're right, and I wrote Vegeta that way on purpose. He had just done pretty much the most noble thing he'd ever done and it was almost like it didn't sit right with him, being a full-on good guy all of a sudden. He needed time to think through it and to really figure out what he wanted, he needed to choose to be a good guy, not to just be one because it was the only way to save everyone. I made sure there was no permanent damage done to the Otherworld fighters, something Vegeta suspected as well. I also wanted to showcase the difference between Vegeta and Goku; both have been treated as inferior by Otherworld fighters, but they clearly react in different ways. Anyway, you're right: it was an asshole move...however, we may see less of those from now on (though not in any way diminishing his depth as a character I hope).
Q: If I remember correctly, Bojack and his crew was released when Broly destroyed the Juno System's star. Is there a reason why the lower Kais imprisoned them in this specific star instead of inside King Kai's planet, like in Movie 9: Bojack Unbound?
A: We'll deal with that when the time arrives, but there's absolutely a reason.
Q: Are you going to bring in Battle of Gods at one point?
A: I finally watched it just recently. It has a few new interesting things that it might add to the story, but overall seems to present a huge new change in power levels that isn't explained well at all. I'll be thinking on which parts make sense to incorporate into BoD, if any.