Otherworld Saga, Part 4: A Chorus of Incineration
Maraikoh bent backwards, his mouth wide as he howled in laughter. "You honestly think I'd be intimidated by a little wimp like you!? There's no way you can win this, especially not by trying to trick me into forfeiting."
Vegeta's expression dripped with apathy. "I was extending mercy, fool. Your loss, but don't say I didn't warn you." He dropped his hands to his sides, smoothly forming two small blue orbs of energy. "So be it."
Vegeta's first two attacks were easily dispatched by the Western Quadrant saurian. One was deflected into the grandstands, where it exploded harmlessly behind the ever-calm Grand Kai; the other blast Maraikoh swallowed whole. But the prince had expected no less; the balls of energy were only the tiniest fragments of his power. It didn't take him long to demonstrate just how outclassed the reptile was.
When Maraikoh charged, Vegeta dodged with practically no effort, then easily gripped him by both wrists and flipped him end-over-end out of the ring. Stunned by how easily this North Quadrant pansy had overpowered him, the reptile could barely dig his claws into the ring in time to prevent a ring-out.
He fared no better in his next physical onslaught. Vegeta made a mockery of the larger warrior, sidestepping kicks and punches easily while leaving his arms crossed on his chest. When the prince finally decided to block, it jarred every bone in the reptile's body...but not nearly as badly as when he received a single kick to the middle of his back, making his teeth rattle violently as he skidded across the tiled surface of the ring. When he got up, his whole body felt bruised.
'Damn it!' the fighter cursed inwardly. He prefered to overwhelm his opponents with brute force, but on special occasions he had been forced to rely on his other abilities. 'I'll have to use that technique! Yeah, he'll be toast in no time!'
The lizard lifted his right hand in front of his snout and took a deep, slow breath. Suddenly, golden flames erupted from his open jaws into his palm, forming into a white-hot sphere. Maraikoh pivoted and slammed his blazing fist into the center of the ring.
WHOOOSH! There was a blinding flash, and flames erupted from under the saurian's feet. A circle of fire spread out across the ring, engulfing it almost instantly.
"He's done it now!" exclaimed West Kai gleefully over the growing roar. "Maraikoh's Solar Hurricane is unstoppable!"
"Don't be so sure," retorted King Kai with a snort. "Vegeta could put that out with a mere sneeze if he wanted to."
Vegeta took to the air almost immediately, but not before the spreading flames reached his feet and singed the bottoms of his white boots. Below, the surface of the ring was a blaze, tongues of fire snaking up in tendrils from the center around Maraikoh.
"Hmm," the prince grunted, eyeing the ground. 'This could be promising.'
"Only I can put this fire out!" boasted the saurian loudly. "Now that the fire has caught, it'll keep growing hotter and hotter, feeding me its energy until I burn you to a crisp! Your time's limited now!"
Vegeta chuckled. 'On his own, this wimp was hardly worthy of losing to me. But with this fire feeding him, he might actually give me a good workout. A warm up, I suppose—it's certainly enough to heat things up.'
The flames at the edge of the ring thinned, and fire swirled around the reptilian warrior's frame. Suddenly, he opened his mouth and released a violent spray of fire into the air toward Vegeta. The flames beneath him quivered as their heat was channeled up into the blazing attack.
The fire streaked in a red-orange path fifty feet in the air, twice as wide as most energy beams. Vegeta's body was completely enveloped as if he'd just been turned to ash. The reptilian fighter grinned in satisfaction before being suddenly kneed in the center of his back, sending him tumbling through the flames before he regained his balance and they surged up beneath him again.
"Please tell me you weren't fooled by a mere afterimage," Vegeta said mockingly.
"Hah!" Maraikoh mocked, hiding his frustration. "You think you can stand the heat, eh? This right here is jacket weather to me; I'm even a bit chilly."
"That so?" Vegeta taunted, crossing his arms haughtily. "Right now, you don't look so hot."
"Yeah, but things are about to get much, much better. I think I might even be able to work on my tan." A sudden gleam showed in the West-Quadrant fighter's eye as his ki level began to skyrocket. He opened his jaws again and released another stream of flame, this time at almost point-blank range.
Vegeta rocketed away, leading the tendrils of fire in a curling, twisting path up and down through air above the ring. The trail kept burning, a deadly ribbon floating in midair. The prince's speed made it easy for him to evade the front of the attack, but it still took quite nearly fifteen seconds before the lizard's stores of heat were exhausted.
Goku gasped in giddy awe as he took in the vastness of the space room. Grand Kai's palace had been impressive enough, but seeing a simulation of outer space created solely for fighting in was a dream come true.
"Sure is," the Grand Kai grinned. "I've been redecoratin', made a few improvements. Place was nearly destroyed after the last tournament, thanks to Pik—"
"—It'll be a fine place to settle the score once and for all, don't you think, Kakarott?" interrupted a rough voice, though it detailed an obvious hint of enthusiasm.
"Definitely!" Goku replied, clenching his fists with excitement. "It's gonna be great!"
"How dare you interrupt the Grand Kai!?" the South Kai exclaimed, almost in a panic. However, it seemed the wording behind Vegeta's boasts had taken the attention away from the rudeness of his interruption.
"Pah!" East Kai laughed aloud in response, adjusting her large dark hat over her ears. "Did I hear your two little rookies correctly, North Kai? They actually think they'll even be considered for the tournament?! What a laugh!"
King Kai opened his mouth to reply, but found himself suddenly dripping with sweat as another person spoke.
"Silence, wench!" the gruff Super Saiyan Prince growled. "Unless you plan on stopping me yourself, you'd best not stand between me and a battle with Kakarott. I will not be denied my chance to defeat him once and for all."
King Kai panicked, his eyes opened so wide that the edges could nearly be seen around his sunglasses. Before the prince knew it, the blue deity was using both hands to desperately try and cover his mouth, all the while turning awkwardly to the others.
"Eh, sorry about that, East Kai. Please, don't mind him." As the prince, almost amused, reached to unhinge himself from King Kai's grasp, the Kai began elbowing him with all his might—mere flea bites to Vegeta, but enough to get the point across. "He has no IDEA what he's doing, threatening a Kai like that, and he promises to never do it again!"
"My, what nerve he has," East Kai's high voice complained, "You really ought to teach your whelps a bit of respect, North Kai."
"Right, of course," King Kai apologized profusely, nearly bowing his head in sheer embarrassment. "He's very sorry; right, Vegeta?"
Behind the Kai's hands, Vegeta rolled his eyes.
"Don't worry," Goku finally interrupted, doing his best to alleviate the thick tension within the room. "Vegeta and I are plenty strong for this tournament, I can assure you that."
"Hah!" the female deity laughed, turning her back in a huff. "Do as you wish then, King Kai… go ahead and nominate these weaklings. It seems they need a lesson in humility, and my fighters will be more than willing to oblige."
"Tch," Vegeta laughed aloud, finally having been released from King Kai's grasp. "I'll say this once: nothing in Heaven or Hell could prevent me from fighting Kakarott today; in the end, that's all that matters right now. As for your own pathetic weaklings, if I must humiliate them in order to achieve my goal, so be it. It makes no difference to me if I get a mere warm-up before my inevitable battle with Kakarott."
"Woah now," the Grand Kai finally intervened, speaking to Vegeta. "Chill out there. This is a tournament for righteous fighters only. Now Yemma told me the verdict is still out on you—it's quite unlike him to be so indecisive, but whatever. Either way, we can't have anyone making a scene and ruining all our fun. So I just need to know...are you gonna get along with everyone?" he chided.
"Oh, I think I'll get along with everyone fine," he smiled sinisterly. "Just fine."
"See, East Kai?" the white-bearded man said with a smile. "Everything's sweet, and now we're gonna have a tournament, baby. It's been far too boring around here lately; this is just what we needed to spice up the action."
The four Kais stepped forwards, the Grand Kai turning his back, arms crossed behind as he eyed the pretend cosmos. "We'll follow the usual setup, then. Each of you nominates 30 of your fighters in order of estimated strength. The top two of each quadrant will get a bye from the first round, like always, and we'll go from there. All the preliminary matches will pit different quadrants against each other."
"Right away," South Kai said, pushing his glasses up with a single finger. "I can't wait for my fighters to whoop up on North Kai's sorry excuse for warriors."
"Oh, we'll get right on that," the West Kai added ever so smugly.
"Yeah, I guess you'll try your best," King Kai replied confidently.
Grand Kai laughed aloud. "Haha, you four never cease to entertain me. Just to raise the stakes even more, I think I'll throw in a free exhibition match against the winner."
"But, master?" East Kai asked, surprised with the Kai's claim. "Is that wise?"
"Course it is," he laughed. "I gotta stay in shape myself, y'know. Plus I can't just sit back and watch these youngsters have all the fun."
"Awesome!" Goku said, catching Pikkon's eyes from behind. The tall, green fighter looked equally excited. Vegeta, on the other hand, could think of nothing but his rematch.
The early rounds had progressed quickly. Eager to see their strongest warriors make a bold showing in the finals, the four rival Kaios had judged their lineups with care. Each higher-ranked warrior won easily in his first round against the lower-ranked opponents from opposite quadrants, prompting a fast flurry of banter and good-natured jibes between the Kaios.
King Kai, having no illusions about the power of Goku and Vegeta, had given the two Saiyans the top seeds in his quadrant, meaning they each received a bye in the first round. By the time the second round started, Goku and Vegeta had already watched fifty-six matches and were itching for combat.
Goku had been courteous to each of his early opponents, doing his best to learn something from the fights. Of course, none of those matches had lasted very long even despite his best efforts to be accommodating.
Vegeta, on the other hand, was not quite so patient. Departing from his typical practice, he kept his taunting to a minimum and summarily defeated them within a second...usually by flinging them out of the ring using a simple kiai, never once moving a muscle. In one exception, though, he became so annoyed by the antics of a giant caterpillar warrior from South Quadrant that he simply reached out and caught one of the creature's wrists, then disintegrated him in a split second. It was the same technique he had used against Salza years before. Of course, this time it wasn't fatal; the warrior's immortal otherworld body regenerated out of the dust pile just a few minutes later. He swore he'd get revenge one day and shortly after entered a strange cocoon, one which supposedly required 1200 years to complete—Vegeta was altogether unamused by his antics.
After several days of matches, punctuated by meals which both Vegeta and Goku felt to be wholly insubstantial, only four warriors remained: Maraikoh and Pikkon from the Western Quadrant, and Goku and Vegeta from the Northern Quadrant. None of South Quadrant's warriors had made it into the top 16, and only two of the East Quadrant entrants had made it into the to 8.
Now, the Saiyan prince looked around him with a satisfied grin. A spiraling trail of fire traced his path through the air. The golden tendrils seemed almost alive, rolling and twisting upon themselves. Below, the flames from the blazing floor licked up toward him. It was going to become difficult to breathe before too long. Without pausing to think about it, he transformed smoothly into his Super Saiyan form, gathering the oxygen he would need to sustain himself indefinitely. Some in the audience gasped in awe at the transformation, but most were too distracted by the searing fire to notice.
"So, do you think your fragile race can handle flames like this? I doubt it, but let's put it to the test anyway!" roared the reptile, flicking his tail from side to side excitedly. He charged immediately, trailing the fire like a cloak to boost his speed, and began trying to knock Vegeta into the ribbons of flame.
Against a foe at the prince's level, though, his efforts were utterly futile. Vegeta simply sidestepped each attempted blow, finding the speed of the attacks barely comparable to Frieza's...but it was becoming more difficult bit by bit, as the creature's trail kept filling the air with more and more columns of fire. Maraikoh's burst of speed lasted for about half a minute before he had to drop lower, to where the flames from the blazing ring could renew his strength again. They were stronger and brighter now...apparently they really did burn hotter and hotter over time.
Dropping closer to the reptile's level despite the intense heat, Vegeta folded his arms. "You've had your fun. And I won't deny I wasn't at least a little impressed with your little display. But what if I told you I'm using less than five percent of my power? You should quit now, before something bad happens."
Tensing his body in anger, Maraikoh betrayed his disbelief with a self-assured grin. "You know nothing of the destructive power of fire! It shows no discrimination between weak and strong fighters, it merely consumes all!" He bent low, pulling more of the flames up around him. Then his snarl intensified to a roar as he opened his mouth once more, producing a column of fire nearly as wide as Vegeta was tall.
"And here we go again..."
The prince reached out with his mind, curious to know whether he could simply control and deflect the oncoming ki. To his surprise, he realized he could not. It didn't take him long to figure it out. Maraikoh seemed to be directing the flames with his ki, but they were coming from outside himself, like they were a living thing on their own. No wonder they couldn't be directly controlled.
Changing tactics, Vegeta flung up a stationary wall of ki in front of himself. The blazing column struck it and exploded, bouncing back toward the giant reptile—who merely seemed to absorb it back into himself.
Snarling again at the failure of his attack, Maraikoh vomited another column of flame, waving his reptilian neck from side to side like some kind of giant burning firehose. Vegeta threw up another wall of ki, then sped off between the ribbons of fire as the saurian followed him with the column of flame.
Now, Vegeta was actively carving his way through the fiery skyscape, pushing an invisible wall of ki in front of himself. The oxygen in the air was gone and he was sustaining himself completely from his reserves, yet the fire was still growing hotter and hotter. Tendrils of searing heat were whipping out toward the audience now, and below him the flames from the blazing ring were nearly a dozen meters high even at the edge. A terror of shadow and flame was awakening.
The audience all around had begun to back away from the arena from the heat, despite all being warriors. This was something they'd never seen before.
"You keep increasing your speed and ferocity," Vegeta said during a moment of pause, arms crossed. "You're also managing to control all this while fighting. As I said before, it would be quite a feat—against any other opponent, that is."
Out of breath, Maraikoh seemed to be anything but complemented by the Saiyan's words. "Just shut up! You're not going to win this, you stupid little man! I WON'T LET YOU WIN!" roared Maraikoh, his voice straining. "You're about to find out how I've walked on the surface of stars and survived!"
West Kai uncrossed his arms and turned to King Kai, his smugness suddenly gone. "Uh, North Kai, you might want to warn your little hotshot to call it quits. If Maraikoh does what I think he's about to, he's going to experience pain like nothing he's ever imagined! Heck—even we might be in danger!"
"Hah, all of us including you? Please..."
As West Kai began backing further away from the ring, he gulped. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
"Whatever," North Kai continued to laugh. "Besides, if you really think Vegeta would give up a fight just because I said so, you're out of your mind!"
The massive lizard roared again, his eyes shifting to an unstable golden red. Panting wildly, he drew in another deep breath, then spread his jaws wider than ever and sprayed out the largest blaze yet. He swung his head from side to side once again, launching flames in every direction.
Vegeta shielded himself with another wall of ki as he looked for a place safety, but he could tell something wasn't right. The ribbons of fire filling the stadium were beginning to move and shift, growing in intensity as the firestorm on the ground below raged hotter and hotter. The spaces between them were narrowing and new tendrils of fire seemed to be popping up everywhere, flaring out in long arcs toward the sides of the stadium.
Yet still the saurian kept releasing his infernal stream of flame, oblivious to the growing strength of the incinerating storm. It wasn't until the fire on the ring gave way completely and erupted outward, filling the entire stadium ground in an instant, that the warrior from the Western Quadrant realized what he'd done.
"What are you thinking, Maraikoh?!" shrieked West Kai as he leapt into the stands for safety. "It's too much, out of control; you've got to stop it!" He looked around to Pikkon, who seemed ready to snap into action at any moment.
"What's your fighter trying to do out there, West Kai?" the South Kai inquired, sweating profusely. "Is he planning to burn us all alive?"
"Just give him a second longer and he'll get it back under control," West Kai dismissively said.
"If he doesn't, he'll end up roasting all of us, not to mention laying waste to Grand Kai's newly renovated tournament stadium," the taller Kai replied. "We've got to disqualify him from the match before this whole place burns to a crisp."
Nearby, grinning from his large observation platform, the reflection of the massive flames showed in Grand Kai's sunglasses. "Aw, don't worry 'bout it, South Kai. For a fight like this, a little destruction is to be expected. Let 'em finish; this thing ain't out of hand yet."
West Kai nodded to Pikkon, as if signaling for him to back down for the moment—whatever containment the other West Quadrant fighter had been prepared to exert could wait a little longer.
Vegeta now floated at the edge of what had become a hurricane of fire. It seemed even more alive now. The field of flames below was sending new white-hot spirals skyward every few seconds, looking more and more like the surface of a sun. At the center, Maraikoh seemed to be in a trance, wreathed in a maelstrom of fire.
The saurian didn't move, but Vegeta heard something between a roar and a snarl. It wasn't coming from Maraikoh, but from the flames themselves; they quivered and shook as they licked higher and higher around the edges of the stadium floor. Though the West-Quadrant fighter's face was shrouded by the shimmering flames, Vegeta could see panic growing.
The prince shielded himself from the arcing flames with yet another wall of ki—it was second nature, really—but by redirecting the flames away, they unintentionally rebounded out toward the audience. Shouts and panicked screams could be heard from the bleachers as onlookers scurried away. Those that weren't quick enough to flee blasted their own ki attacks at the flame, barely managing to protect themselves. Maraikoh was descending into full panic mode, fighting to contain the deadly tendrils, but his grasp was rapidly evaporating. The blaze was in control now, and the reptile could do nothing to hold it back.
Floating at the edge of the ring, Pikkon's fingers curled up and down in anticipation. He, the Kais, and all the participants were plenty strong to protect themselves for the moment...but he felt more sure than ever that he would be the only one capable of stopping it in the end.
"What's happening?!" demanded South Kai. "How is he doing this? He's not this powerful."
"Maraikoh's race are symbiotes," growled Pikkon. "Each of their bodies contains the core of a living sun. When released, it gives them great power...but it can also consume them. A righteous warrior from his race is incredibly rare, and even Maraikoh can be a bit of a hothead at times. The living fire in him is completely released now; he has lost all control."
"What are we going to do?!" shrieked East Kai.
King Kai was sweating a bit now, but he put on a bold face. "Just wait. I'm sure Vegeta will think of something."
Pikkon grunted. "He'd better think fast."
Ignoring the surging flames now threatening the audience, as well as his own complete lack of control, Maraikoh looked back up at Vegeta. The fire was controlling him now; his eyes were ablaze with madness. "Now do you see what you've done? You've made me mad, so mad that not even my anger can control these flames!"
The prince chuckled to himself. "My father always said, 'when angry, count to three; when extremely angry, swear with all your fucking might'. I think you just haven't cursed enough yet, weakling."
"Uh oh," King Kai murmured, rubbing his forehead. "Vegeta's done it now."
Nearby, Goku, who'd maintained his smile throughout the fight, remained the sole person in the room with complete confidence in Vegeta. Seeing the prince fight was like watching an equal battle, someone that taught you something with each move, yet still made you itch to test yourself against them. He could already feel his heart racing with excitement for the upcoming battle. First, though, he'd have to get through Pikkon—no easy challenge.
Maraikoh's eyes were bloodshot and unfocused. His veins bulged as the fire flowing through them took full control. He looked like a completely different creature, some demon from the deepest pits of hell. "YOU..." he panted, spittle spraying from his jaws, "...WILL...SUFFER!"
A wave of flames surged over the walls where the audience was sitting, sending them scurrying up for safety. The tiles of the ring had long since been incinerated; the fiery hurricane now filled the entire center of the stadium. In the eye, Maraikoh hung suspended by fingers of plasma...the temperature there was easily half a million degrees. A new voice, deeper and crackling with energy, came through him. "I WIN! YOU...BURNNNNN!"
Vegeta closed his eyes, barely smiling. He could feel every degree of the heat, from the tips of his toes to the edge of his ears. His brow was covered in sweat, even as his pulsating ki shielded him from being melted into a ball of skin and flesh, and yet he felt almost peaceful.
The sensation triggered a memory. His thoughts trailed back to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, that endless cavern of deathly emptiness where he'd fought through his nightmares. The blasting, burning fire that had consumed him in that place was the mere outpouring the inward war he had been fighting—his emotions brought to life by the quirks of that room. He had stood, like Maraikoh, in a firestorm of his own making...yet he had maintained control. He had risen from the ashes stronger than ever. The reminder reignited that same fire inside him again.
"FOOL!" the Saiyan prince thundered, his Super Saiyan energy amplifying his voice above the roar of the flames. "You believe these flames are your ally? You think to make me burn? You think I am in danger from this firestorm? No. I am the danger! I am that oncoming storm!"
Flinging his hands to his sides as if charging a Final Flash, Vegeta expanded his protective wall of ki outward. He tapped into the power of his transformation to telekinetically bend it around the blaze, the invisible walls meeting on the opposite side and pushing the fire back from the base of the grandstands. While his tone was calm, his words could be heard, even above the roar of the flames.
"I AM THE INFERNO!"
The raging fire pushed back against the walls of its invisible cage, and Vegeta's muscles bulged. Holding back the firestorm with his arms alone took incredible strength. But now, completely shielded from the flames, he felt more alive than ever, screaming with the utter joy of battle.
The prince brought his hands together, his muscles rippling as he telekinetically collapsed the cage of solid ki around the blaze. The entire hurricane was forced to a tiny column around Mariakoh, the temperature and pressure skyrocketing beyond even that at the core of a star. With the light far too blinding for anyone to watch, the audience averted their eyes as a thunderclap shook the stadium. When they looked back, the Western Quadrant fighter was covered in soot, completely unconscious and lying in a crater in the corner of the grounds. The fire was gone.
"It's a ring-out and he's unconscious," the announcer said boldly into the mic. "You can't lose worse than that, folks. The winner, who advances to the finals, is Vegeta of the North Quadrant."
The audience unanimously rose to their feet to cheer on the prince, who dropped to the ground and walked casually from the ring without so much as a glance in their direction. West Kai and a few of his students quickly made their way over to help Maraikoh; the reptile had taken a beating, but he'd recover just fine. As West Kai returned to the stands, he saw North Kai floating above them with a massive grin.
"Too bad about Maraikoh," King Kai said boastfully. "I thought you said there was no way he could lose—in fact you thought we were all in danger. But I guess you can't be expected to comprehend the power of a Super Saiyan."
"Just shut your trap already!" the other yelled. "Maraikoh's only my number two fighter; Pikkon's still gonna beat both of your little runts."
"Eheh, well I guess we'll see about that," King Kai grinned, walking away. "But if he loses, remember our deal..."
West Kai grumbled under his breath.
Being tasked with repairing Snake Way had been bad enough, but he had even more riding on these last fights. He'd placed a wager with North Kai that the warriors from North Quadrant would fall before his own best fighters; if he lost, he'd have to build his greatest rival a special training ring. Though he still had faith in Pikkon's strength, these two Saiyans had begun to unnerve him. He was beginning to regret gambling so much on his fighters.
"Hey, good going, Vegeta," the other Saiyan said, passing him on the way into the ring. "It'll be me and you next, buddy. See you soon."
"Hmph," Vegeta chuckled. "See to it that you do. Meanwhile, I think I'll visit the buffet—I'm quite famished. Remember: whatever happens, you'd better not lose."
"No worries, Vegeta." As he spoke, he caught a glimpse of Pikkon from across the way. Was the quiet warrior curious about what he was saying. "Pikkon's tough, but the way I see it, it's just another chance for me to get stronger."
"Hah," the prince grunted as he continued down the stairs. "Right, right—you can get stronger with that Otherworld body of yours while I'm stuck at the same power level as when I died. It still won't be enough."
"We'll see, Vegeta," Goku said, maintaining eye contact with Pikkon the entire time.
"This will be the last match before the finals, folks," the mushroom-headed announcer explained. "So everyone give it up for Pikkon of the West Quadrant, and Goku from the North Quadrant!"
Strange-bodied aliens and familiar faces alike cheered loudly for the pair, raising their fists into the air in support of their favorite. This had been the most exciting event for many of them in thousands of years.
"Alright, then. With no further ado, I hereby declare this fight is ready to begin!" the announcer said, hopping out of the ring.
GONG, sounded the Grand Kai's symbol, and the match was live.
Goku smiled, crouching into his turtle stance. "Well, are you ready, Pikkon?"
"I've been looking forward to this, Goku," he said, his tone low and steady. "It's time I put you in your place." Instead of crouching into a defensive stance, he reached up to his head and removed his turban and shako. Also freeing himself of his belt, he dropped both to the floor with a mighty crash. "Since I've already seen your transformation, there's really no reason for us to toy around, is there?"
The Saiyan smiled, his excitement visible. "I suppose not. I do enjoy a good warm-up, but this works too—right to the best part."
"Pshaw." Pikkon's face sobered. "Here again, you speak as if you fight purely for enjoyment. Battle is a duty, Goku, not some game for your petty amusement. How do you expect to win if you don't fight seriously?"
Goku's smile broadened. "Oh, I'm serious all right." His fists tightened as his Super Saiyan transformation smoothly ignited, casting a golden aura all around him. Those in the audience who had noticed Vegeta's transformation began commenting on the similarities; the rest simply oohed and aahed. His voice slightly deepened by the more powerful form, Goku continued. "But I don't believe for a second that you don't enjoy fighting, just the same as me."
Pikkon cracked his neck from side to side before entering a crouch opposite his opponent. "You're wrong, Goku. My master has taught me something in these past centuries that I never appreciated when I was alive: discipline. My fighting is my duty, not a meaningless hobby. And that is why I will win."
"I guess we'll see, won't we?" the hero replied smugly.
The pair stared silently for a moment longer, each awaiting his foe's move. In the stands, everyone hung on the edge of their seats, the air pregnant with tension.
"Ready to watch your poster boy lose, North Kai?" his rival sneered. "Vegeta might have beaten Maraikoh, but there's no way Goku can beat my Pikkon."
"You'd better be ready to eat your words," King Kai replied, his confidence in Goku unwavering.
"Oh, give it a rest, would you?" South Kai snapped. "There's no way both fighters from the North Quadrant will make it to the finals. That Vegeta character making it at all was nothing but a fluke. Besides, Pikkon's a tried and true veteran. He won't lose to some guy fresh out of the living world."
THUUM! Their conversation was cut off violently as a pair of fists collided in the center of the ring, sending a shockwave through the stadium.
Goku followed their clash with a left hook, but his opponent vanished into thin air. The green fighter reappeared above and to the left a second later, drawing another punch from the Super Saiyan, but he dodged that as well. Pikkon then teleported all the way on the other side of the ring this time, crossing his arms in a sign of amusement—he seemed to be in complete control. Goku dashed across the arena towards him, readying a flurry of blows. At the last instant, Pikkon launched forward as well, the two meeting for the first powerful exchange of attacks.
The Saiyan hammered in front of him with his fists, aiming blows along Pikkon's chest, arms, and back, but the latter was quick enough to block each of them. When Goku flung his hands forward for an energy attack, his foe merely vanished again. The Saiyan pulled the blast up and over the grandstands for safety, then spun in search of his opponent. He located Pikkon hovering in the center of the ring, two energy balls charged and waiting. Without a word, the West Quadrant warrior launched them both, one looping high to cover the easy upward retreat.
"Man, he's good," the Saiyan said, trying to think quickly. The blasts were too powerful to risk detonating them near the audience, and he knew it would take a lot of effort to deflect them at all. Of course, he knew—or at least hoped—that Pikkon wouldn't let the audience become victims. Most opponents he had fought during his lifetime had shamelessly endangered bystanders in their quest for even the slightest advantage, but here he didn't have to worry about that.
Goku zig-zagged forward and upward, weaving through the two attacks with ultra-fast bursts of movement, bearing directly at Pikkon and hoping the latter would handle the safe negation of his energy blasts. As Goku's right punch came flying in, the green alien leaned backward to avoid it, spinning over in midair. Another miss followed from the earthling as his foe acrobatically pushed himself back into the air with his hands. Then, just as the Saiyan tried to continue his pursuit, Pikkon redirected the two energy balls around in a deep arc—aimed directly at Goku's blind spot from both sides.
"Who-hoah!" Goku yelped, narrowly jumping up and out of their path as the two balls criss-crossed harmlessly by. "Homing attacks," he guessed aloud, his eyes following both at once. Goku then burst upward rapidly, heading for one of the large planetary decorations above. The two homing attacks trailed closely behind.
"Hah! Is that the best you can come up with, Goku?" Pikkon chuckled tauntingly.
Goku flew towards the nearest purple-painted sphere and then vanished right at the last second, super-speeding out of harm's way, but the other fighter easily directed his two attacks around the object. Noticing their continued pursuit, Goku looped around a few of the planets, stalling while he tried to come up with a plan. Pikkon, however, allowed him no such opportunity.
"You're boring me, Goku," he announced from below, still standing in the ring. The West Quadrant fighter then raised a single hand and fired yet another yellow blast upwards, this one a powerful streaking beam.
"Another? He sure isn't making this easy," the Saiyan said, almost in complaint. He flared his Super Saiyan aura out around him, increasing his energy flow greatly, and prepared to defend. "I'm not gonna go down like this, that's for sure!" Then, as if running full speed through a maze, Goku began dashing from planet to planet, gaining distance from the blasts as they circled around the objects to keep from blowing up. When he reached the last of the painted bodies, however, the Z fighter flew straight into it, crushing the rock into hundreds of chunks with his leading fist. Goku immediately spun and released a kiai, hurling each of the stones towards Pikkon's three attacks. The two energy spheres detonated at first contact, quite a distance from their intended target, but the energy blast merely chewed up the debris and continued in its path towards Goku.
"Heh, just as I expected. Kamehameha!" the Saiyan said, flinging his hands forward with enough power to negate his attacker's beam. His blue ki blast and Pikkon's yellow combined for a powerful explosion that lit up the entire space room. It was almost enough time for Goku to sigh in relief.
The second Goku had dropped his hands to release the wave, he'd been kneed by Pikkon from behind. He was now tumbling forwards into the floating debris, and crashed through the very center of the nearest intact planetoid. On the other side, he was met once again by Pikkon. But the Super Saiyan sensed his attacker, and managed to right himself just before becoming victim to a free kick from the alien. Goku jerked to a spinning halt, leaning his head back and dodging Pikkon's attack by a hair's breadth. He then raised his knee to block the momentum of the kick that his foe had continued into. But his foe's assault continued relentlessly nonetheless. The earthling maintained the defensive as best he could, pressed back by Pikkon's ferocious attacks.
"Don't tell me..." Goku said through a clenched smile, blocking countless blows as fast as his Super Saiyan strength would allow, "...that you aren't enjoying this..." He swung a few attacks of his own, but each failed to meet their mark, "...at least a little..."
The green-skinned fighter bore no smile, and his aggressive and continuous flurry of blows showed no signs of ending. His speed was incredible, and for every blow that Goku managed to get in, Pikkon managed two. Though the Saiyan felt he still had an edge in raw power, damage was beginning to stack up.
"Come on, Pikkon," Goku continued, still trying to convince his foe of his point. "You're an incredible warrior; there's no way I'd believe you don't like to fight."
"I've told you before, Goku... I'm not like you."
The Saiyan smiled slyly as he flung his arms out, releasing an instantaneous explosion wave. It pushed the two apart, giving him the few feet of separation he needed.
"Then I suppose you won't enjoy this very much!"
The Saiyan lifted both hands in front of him, pushing energy into the palms of his hands. Pikkon's eyes narrowed as he raised his guard.
Instantly, a volley of blue energy blasts erupted toward his foe. The first few seemed to strike Pikkon directly, but the cloud of smoke from impact immediately covered his retreat. Goku kept up his flurry of powerful attacks with no regard for the devastation spreading across the planetoids as he followed his opponent's energy signal across the space room. But Pikkon's speed was incredible; each moment he gained a little more on the Earth-raised Saiyan, until he escaped Goku's line of vision altogether and masked his power level.
"What? No way!" The Saiyan's jaw dropped as his head spun, trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive West Quadrant warrior. He already knew Pikkon had an edge in speed, but he hadn't realized it was so significant. Plus, his opponent was proving to be an excellent strategist, making the greatest use of his advantages and working to negate Goku's. The Saiyan had been on the receiving end of most attacks so far. Clearly, centuries of Otherworld training had paid off; Goku couldn't help but feel excited about the prospect before him even as he tried fruitlessly to locate his opponent.
"Am I too quick for you, Goku?" The voice shot down from above him as Pikkon delivered a fully-extended right kick to the center of the Super Saiyan's back, smashing him down toward the ring like a meteor. His momentum too great to arrest, Goku barely had time to brace himself before cratering into the center of the ring.
The crowd oohed and ahhed as Pikkon descended gracefully, while those who were fans of Goku began to fear the match had been decided. King Kai, most of all, had begun to sweat nervously.
"You're no righteous fighter," the green-skinned alien lectured, arms crossed. Goku flipped over and pushed himself up, his muscles throbbing. He could only listen as Pikkon continued. "All you care about is enjoying yourself in fights, testing your limits. You've even admitted that you allow your enemies to reach full strength in order to test yourself. A true warrior of righteous intent would not be so selfish, Goku."
The Saiyan ached all over, stabs of pain shooting through his core as he climbed again to his feet. As exhausted as he felt, he was still full of resolve.
"You sure think you know a lot about me, Pikkon," he said, wincing as he tried to block out the agonizing pain in his abdomen. "But who I am and why I fight is a lot more complex than you're making it sound."
"Perhaps. Just because I fight for duty doesn't mean I can't enjoy it as well," Pikkon responded. "Tell me you aren't so simple-minded as that.
"Well yeah, sure." Goku allowed himself a laugh even though he cringed from the ache. "But you've gotta admit I had you pegged."
"Don't misunderstand," the alien replied with a grin. "I'm certainly not willing to make compromises on the battlefield, especially with enemies. But when fighting someone like yourself, I do suppose there is a certain excitement involved. In fact, I feel this battle coming to the climax right about now."
"Oh yeah, so you plan on trying to finish it?"
Pikkon shut his eyes with a final cocky smile. "Something like that..."
Goku cracked his knuckles in front of him, then stretched to one side to pop his back. He could feel his immortal Otherworld body just beginning to rejuvenate his muscles. "So you think you've seen enough...had your fill of fun? Too bad. I was just starting to enjoy myself."
"Hmph," grunted the alien, a hint of a smile on his face. He crouched down to the right and then moved to the left, rotating his torso. He bent low once more before finally extending his arms out on both sides.
"Thunder..." he said, crossing his arms out in front.
"Flash..." he continued, putting his fists together.
Goku stood poised to react, amazed by the concentration of ki he felt in Pikkon's aura.
"AAA-ttack!" A swirl of blue energy whirled around Pikkon, then shot out in a spiral from his fists. Bolts of electricity crackled all around him, and Goku felt a cage of ki lock onto his energy signature. Flames sparked to life just in front of the alien's fists and instantly filled the path, rushing toward him.
The Saiyan could do nothing at all. He tried to dodge, but the spiraling path moved with him, guiding the flames in an unblockable and undodgeable blaze. It slammed against his torso, legs, and arms, searing his skin and flinging him back to the edge of the ring, where he was barely able to hold on. The explosion blasted out into the grandstands, singeing the handful of spectators who hadn't moved back after the last fight.
"Oh no! Goku!" King Kai gasped, his forehead nervous with sweat.
"Not again," South Kai complained. "Come on, West Kai. You know you don't have to teach all your students those infernal fire techniques of yours."
"Ugh," West Kai grumbled, pinching out the flame from his single curly antennae. "I told him not to do that, him and Mariakoh both. 'Don't abuse the power of fire', I said. It's this new generation, I tell you, never showing the proper respect! They only care about big flashy explosions."
King Kai might have even agreed with him were he not so concerned about Goku.
"Yeah, well," the South Kai paused, "I guess you're right about that. These two guys are fighting at a level way above what I thought possible. How are we supposed to control guys like that?"
The Grand Kaio chuckled. "You don't." The other Kais spun towards him silently, having forgotten he was listening to their every conversation. "That's just their thing. It's guys like this that know how to make fighting really interesting—haven't ya'll listened to anything I've taught ya? When you have all the control..." he smirked from behind his sunglasses, "there's really no suspense."
Goku lay on his back near the edge of the ring, gasping for air. Pikkon's fire technique was devastatingly powerful...far more concentrated than what Vegeta had faced from Maraikoh, not to mention perfectly controlled. Inwardly, he was incredibly impressed with his foe's abilities and tactical skill, but the Saiyan still knew he had to beat him.
'Come on, Goku, there's no quitting now. I've got to find a way to win this...' He summoned every drop of resolve and pushed himself up onto one knee...only to look up and see another deadly Thunder Flash already in the works.
'Oh, come on!' complained Goku even as he raised his tired arms to block. Every bit of ki in his body was concentrated forward into his aura. This time when the fiery beam attack came, his guard managed to absorb most of it. Pikkon's attack exploded around him violently, edging him even closer to the edge of the ring—but he'd been protected from the lion's share. He panted as he waited for Pikkon's next move. Another attack like that, and he'd have to do something crazy to avoid being flung out of the already-shattered ring.
Suddenly his opponent lifted into the air, gaining a vantage point directly above him, then fired an energy beam down to finish him. Goku grinned. Apparently, Pikkon wasn't so intent on ending the fight after all. He gathered all his energy and dodged just as the attack struck the ring, vanishing from in front of Pikkon's eyes.
"HYAA!" Goku finally managed to land a direct hit, a surprise gut punch that doubled the alien over. The hero then peppered his foe with a few more quick jabs to the torso, but Pikkon's speed allowed him to even the odds after a few more moments. Goku tried to finish the barrage with a spinning kick to launch him away, but Pikkon side-stepped and returned with his own strikes.
Both warriors were panting now, exhaustion beginning to show in their faces, their brows drenched in sweat. The furious exchange of blows that followed was no longer a tactical dance of death...it was an all-out brawl, their skill and precision being the only thing to distinguish it from a street fight. Pikkon delivered rapid strikes that stung, but Goku had gotten into a rhythm and was throwing smooth, honed punches that packed tremendous force. Pikkon caught one of them in a grappling hold, but the Saiyan simply used the grip to pull himself forward and slam his forehead against his opponent's skull repeatedly. Shockwaves caused the grandstands to shudder...right now, it was anyone's guess who would win.
Goku's momentary advantage seemed to have given him a second wind, much of his energy having returned. He was pressing Pikkon back a bit at a time, but only by maxing out his speed and sacrificing a portion of the stopping power in his punches. Both panted with exhaustion as their fists met once more in the center, pushing the two a few meters apart for a brief interlude.
'He's far stronger than I expected...' Pikkon had to admit inwardly.
'One wrong move and he's got me...' the Saiyan thought, reminding himself of the direness of the situation. 'Somehow, I've got to catch him by surprise...'
Goku brought his hands to his side, still breathing heavily. A small blue orb of ki formed in the center of his palms as his quietly whispered "Ka—."
Without missing a beat, Pikkon prepared his defenses, wearing a slight grin.
The bright blue beam attack shot out of Goku's extended hands, but just before impact the green alien merely stretched out his left wrist and brushed it aside with one powerful sweep. As his signature move went crashing into the ceiling of the space room, the Z fighter found himself wide open to attack.
Pikkon's counter, a golden energy beam of his own, was upon him before the hero could react. Instinctively, he raised two fingers to his head and vanished with instant transmission, escaping at what was likely the last possible instant before he'd have been defeated. He immediately re-entered normal space behind Pikkon, the other fighter shocked and wide open to attack. Even as the alien released his beam attack and spun to defend, Goku had already fired an instant Kamehameha at the warrior from behind. This time his attack met its mark head on.
The blast detonated upon impact, a large explosion enshrouding Pikkon and taking a substantial portion of his energy. When the smoke cleared, though, the tall fighter from the West Quadrant was revealed to still be battle-worthy. His clothes were charred and ripped now, and his skin covered with bruises, yet he did not wear the look of a defeated warrior.
"That's some trick you've got there," he began, lowering his arms to his sides for a brief moment.
"Thanks," Goku said. "It's called Instant Transmission—comes in quite handy, if you play your cards right."
"I'm sure it does, although—once again I must express my disappointment in you, Goku. A shrewd warrior could have used a trump card such as that one to end this fight once and for all."
The Super Saiyan smiled. "Of course I could have. But I like fighting, remember? I won't end this fight until I've had a chance to fully test my strength against yours. And if you'll just open your eyes, you'll see that it's the same for you. Just a little more energy in that Thunder Flash would have knocked me out of the ring, but you chose to draw things out! Looks like you do enjoy fighting after all."
"Well, maybe." Pikkon allowed himself to smile. "I guess you're at least partly right...I have enjoyed this more than I wanted to admit. I've been waiting for a challenge like this to come around for a very long time."
Goku's grin stretched wider. "Well, I'm glad it was me. You know, I've had some pretty incredible battles, but this one ranks right up there with the best of them. You might be more ruthless with your enemies, and that's probably smart, but I'm glad you gave me a fair fight."
Pikkon's grin lessened as he lowered his brow. "Well, just don't tell anyone. And speaking of fair fights, I think it's finally time I end this one."
"I agree. Let's settle it, fair and square," Goku nodded, clenching his fists with excitement. "After all, I've can't keep Vegeta waiting too long."
Pikkon, in a sudden resurgence of speed, dashed at Goku. "Don't count on it. I think I'm going to enjoy fighting him even more than you!" he announced. The Saiyan immediately blocked, only to find himself defending against an afterimage. The real one was just above him, and, thanks to the deception, delivered an axe kick that sent Goku tumbling back into the tournament ring—or what was left of it.
The four Kais watched in suspense as the figure fell from below, until the Saiyan crashed in the center and made another large crater—he'd barely managed to keep himself in bounds. Pikkon landed immediately, greeted by an excited crowd. Goku being down on the ring seemed now a regular occurrence, though this time most were sure he wouldn't get back up.
"Looks like I win after all," Pikkon announced, watching as the Saiyan somehow made his way back to his feet again. The audience roared with applause, seeming to favor the underdog now, greatly respecting his perseverance. "And here's the grand finale."
From across the ring, Goku caught the slightest glance of Vegeta's face, completely ignoring Pikkon's words. The prince might have looked apathetic to some, or angry to others—others still might have suspected he was nervous. But to Goku, that one look conveyed so much meaning it was as if his heart had skipped a beat.
He hadn't thought about their previous battles in so long, but they suddenly came flooding back into his mind. Their first encounter on Earth had ended without a clear victor. Goku had seemed to have the upper hand until Vegeta had used his Great Ape transformation. Only with the help of Krillin and Gohan had the Z fighters finally stopped the angry prince.
"Thuuunndeeeer..." sounded Pikkon's booming voice.
Then, when they clashed again on Namek, Goku had first seen what a Super Saiyan was capable of. The Kaioken, multiplied even beyond whatever limitations existed, was simply inferior. Vegeta as a Super Saiyan had utterly overwhelmed him, even as the hero pushed his power level higher than Frieza himself. And yet, that battle had been one of the single most exciting moments of his life. Just recalling it brought a smile to his face.
Their rematch, the moment both Saiyans had eagerly anticipated for an entire year, had been delayed by Trunks' appearance. His warnings about the androids had demanded that their fight be postponed until Earth was once again safe. Little did they know they'd spend entire years training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber or fight opponents as powerful as Gero's androids. They'd pushed their Super Saiyan abilities farther than either had previously thought possible. Fighting enemies of unimaginable power only served to unify them towards a common goal. It even seemed, now, that the two Saiyans had developed a shared friendship—a brotherhood of mutual respect. Vegeta was no longer a merciless killer, holding ambitions to lord himself over the galaxy like some tyrant. In fact, he and he alone had saved the Earth from certain doom by sacrificing his own life. What the two of them shared, their innate love of fighting, their constant drive to better themselves, even their experiences together in death, meant so much more than this one fight with Pikkon—as enjoyable as that was. Somehow, someway, Goku knew he had to win. Vegeta was the one he wanted to fight.
The spinning, flaming blast seared through the air towards Goku, the red-orange fire filling his vision and threatening to engulf him for good.
"Oh no!" King Kai cried. "GOKU!"
"It's over now!" West Kai laughed loudly.
"Damn you, Kakarott!" Vegeta cursed.
"Aight, yeaah!" the Grand Kai grinned, leaning forward in his seat from the excitement.
Pikkon held the blazing column of fire steady as it raced toward the Saiyan, but he wasn't banking on it. He felt sure Goku would use Instant Transmission again, and he was poised to reverse the attack effortlessly. Few warriors would be intelligent or cunning enough to think of something so clever. No matter what Goku tried, he would be ready.
"Give up, Goku, you can't wi—!"
A shockwave shot out from Goku's corner of the ring. The blazing column of fire suddenly looked dim as a blinding column of light shot through the stadium. Pikkon's eyes widened in shock; the Grand Kai stood from his chair with a fierce grin. The other Kais merely gaped. The mighty Thunder Flash had parted like mere smoke, swallowed up by the brilliant aura of the gold-bathed figure walking through the flames toward Pikkon.
"Kakarott," Vegeta laughed aloud, a twinge of excitement crawling from his toes up to the tips of his hair. "You son of a bitch!"
"Whaa?" West Kai gasped. "How's he doing that!?"
Goku's aura utterly eclipsed the power of Pikkon's attack. Each step brought him closer to the source, until he finally reached out and grabbed both of the green alien's fists, snuffing the Thunder Flash like a candle. Pikkon was dumbfounded.
Goku stood taller, his hair standing sharper on top with only a single lock still falling down over his forehead. It's color was now a deeper gold and shimmered with energy; jagged arcs of blue electricity swirled around them both. His jaw was set, serious and sober.
"What...strength...is this?" Pikkon grunted as he tried to wrench his fists free from the Saiyan's grip. After a few moments, Goku released his hold and his opponent fell backward, wringing his hands in pain as he stared at the Ascended Saiyan before him. Goku stood motionless, his fists clenched at his sides.
Reacting quickly, Pikkon blasted skyward in a blinding flash, looking to put some distance between Goku and himself until he could figure out what to do next.
Goku's form, as if omnipresent, appeared directly in his path. Pikkon's jaw dropped, aghast at the Super Saiyan's new speed. He quickly took off in the opposite direction as fast as he could. Effortlessly, it seemed, Goku made another jump and intercepted him.
Flames erupted around Pikkon's body and he charged, smashing into Goku with a barrage of powerful kicks and punches. The audience could just hear a deep rumble; only Vegeta and Grand Kai could even make out the individual blows.
But to Goku, they were coming in slow motion. His hands whizzed and whirred through the air, effortlessly blocking each strike with crackles of electricity. After a few moments of this, he simply dropped his hands and let the blows make contact. Pikkon might as well have been a little girl smashing her fists against the side of a building.
WHAP. The Ascended Saiyan's hand flicked outward, catching Pikkon in his side. The impact flung him down in a perfectly straight line into the ground of the stadium, well outside the ring's boundaries. The whole stadium shook.
The announcer, along with everyone else, could hardly believe it. "Uh, folks, in a surprising turn of events, it seems Pikkon has landed out of bounds, which means Goku is the winner!"
King Kai leapt into the air, raising a fist as he cheered with the crowd. "Oh yeah! GOKUUUUU!" West Kai's look of disappointment was equally rewarding for the blue deity to see.
Goku landed just beside his fallen foe a second later, reaching a hand down to him.
"What...happened?" Pikkon asked, mouth agape as he was helped up. "I was certain I had you!"
Goku seemed to lift his hands, examining himself. "It looks like I'm as good as ever at picking up new techniques."
Pikkon's blank face inquired more. "What...do you mean?"
"I mean this form... Ascended Saiyan," Goku explained. His voice seemed almost rougher, harsher now, devoid of its characteristic easy-going tone. "It's the level beyond a normal Super Saiyan, but until just now I hadn't been able to do it. Transforming wasn't as tough as I expected; I just had to get into the right frame of mind. Luckily, I'd seen both my son and Vegeta do it a couple times now. It's always been easy for me to pick up on things after I've seen them demonstrated, like how I learned the Kamehameha."
"So you just now achieved a whole new level of power, right during the pinnacle of our fight? Hah...you really are something, Goku."
"You're a great fighter, too, Pikkon," Goku continued. "If you hadn't pushed me past my limits the way you did, I'd never have been able to transform in the first place."
"Mmm, so it's my own fault then," the alien smirked. "Well, don't count on any such luck next time. I plan to train hard and defeat you at the very next tournament."
Goku smiled, relaxing out of his new Super Saiyan form. He was clearly exhausted. "Sounds great. I'll train too," he said as Pikkon walked away. As his new power subsided, Goku was instantly aware of the painful bruises all over his body. From his ripped clothes to the remnant of the acrid fumes that clung to them, he was a pathetic sight. He looked across the way towards his next opponent, Vegeta…
...but instead of greeting him with his usual smirk, the Saiyan prince was busy dining on what appeared to be a prime aged ribeye steak. The sight of food alone added to Goku's exhaustion; he realized he was famished.
"Alright, folks!" the mushroom-headed announcer boomed. "Is everyone ready for the final match?!" Roars and cheers filled the stadium in response as thousands rose to their feet.
"What? Already?!" Goku gulped. "Come on, I just took the beating of my life...and besides, I'm starving! Can't we wait just a little while?"
"I refuse!" a voice cut in loudly. Goku recognized the gruff tones right away. "Kakarott is in no position to give me the battle I deserve, and I have no interest in claiming a victory in a situation where my opponent is unable to fight at the best of his abilities! Such an unbecoming win would be no triumph at all!"
King Kai, who'd already made that same assessment, sprung into action. "Ehem," he said, approaching the Grand Kai carefully, "master, I think what Vegeta's suggesting...would it be appropriate in this situation to allow both Goku and Vegeta some time to recuperate? After all, we want them at their best for the final match, don't we?"
"Hmm," the sunglasses-wearing ruler hummed in thought, rubbing his beard with two fingers. King Kai leaned in closer, anxiously awaiting a dignified and well-thought out response. "Well, I think we all deserve a dinner break, eh, North Kai?" he said, grinning. "Sure, why not. Let the boys rest for a couple hours; we'll call it a dinner intermission. Besides, I've been dying to get me some of that barbeque after seeing them' flames."
"Awesome!" Goku rejoiced, already dashing towards the smorgasbord Vegeta had laid out before him—he'd seemingly taken an entire section of the buffet table's offerings to his seat.
"Kakarott, don't you dare even think about it!" the glutton yelled, hastily beginning to scarf down a staggering amount of food so that Goku couldn't avail himself of it. "Ghoh ghet yhor hown, clhown!"
Greetings, everyone, and thanks for reading the latest chapter. This was a fun chapter to write, and full of action. To avoid a pointless curbstomp battle, I expounded more on Maraikoh's abilities than DBZ did. The previous rounds of the tournament, I imagine, even if this were an anime, would only be barely shown in a montage, so I felt no real need to detail them here. Sorry to any fans of Olibu. The BoD team examined the tournament bracket shown in DBZ and copied it exactly, even down to the seeding system. Basically, Vegeta took Goku's seed in the tournament and Goku took Olibu's. Obviously he was a cool filler character, but I didn't feel the story of BoD allowed space to do him justice.
Pikkon vs Goku was a fight we all probably loved from the Otherworld filler arc, and I hoped to retain that same greatness here. As far as differences in BoD, there weren't many. Goku and Pikkon's strengths were right at the same level as that fight. But as you're aware, Pikkon had several issues with how Goku's morality affects his fighting. Their argument became a centerpoint for the fight, though in the end both seemed to understand one another. The most obvious difference in BoD, though, was the presence of Vegeta. It's always been my assumption that it didn't take Goku very long at all after the Otherworld tournament to discover SSj2, so realistically there isn't much time difference here at all. Will it significantly change how strong he'll become in the future? Certainly not. Will it have a huge impact on the outcome of his upcoming fight with Vegeta? Absolutely. Next chapter, the epic and anticipated rematch between the two rivals, now both at the level of SSj2, will finally happen. It doesn't get much more exciting than that.
BoD Team: npberryhill (Author), Davidstarlingm (Former co-author/editor), Ryu no Ohi (Editor)
Special thanks to Super Vegetarott, a highly respected fellow writer, for helping make edits this chapter.
Vegeta (reanimated corpse, untrainable): 410 million
Maraikoh: 128 million
Goku: 365 million
Goku (FPSSj 750 million +365): 1.115 billion
Goku (SSj2 1.5 billion + 365): 1.865 billion
Pikkon (suppressed by weighted gear): 955 million
Pikkon (full power): 1.2 billion
Pikkon (Thunder Flash and Burning Shoot): 1.3 billion
Q: You referenced that Kid Buu was immediately incarnated due to the danger he posed. My question is, why wasn't reincarnation an option for your version of Cell while they had him contained? Was it just to touch on a topic canon DBZ didn't expand any on? Or would it have not worked at all?
A: When a person dies, his soul is sent straight to Yemma for judgment. Yemma decides whether the reanimated spirit will be sent to Hell, allowed into Heaven, or replaced with an immortal body so they can train (in the case of Goku's first death, Kami put in the "immortal body" request early, so Goku showed up with his body already intact). Finally, Yemma also has the option of reincarnating the deceased right away, but this is reserved only for extreme cases where there is an obvious threat to the safety and security of Otherworld (e.g. Kid Buu).
The ability to judge a soul only exists immediately after the person dies. Had Yemma known Cell would break out of Hell, he might have considered reincarnation, but he didn't. When Cell escaped, his soul had already been judged once and so Yemma could not reincarnate him.
Q: Shortly after Cell achieved his perfect form, he went into a star and caused it to explode. Did that start a chain of events for Bojack's escape? And how did the ancient Kais ensure the star wouldn't expire after reaching the end of it's cycle, thus releasing the sealed prisoner?
A: The star destroyed by Cell in "Destroyer of Worlds"—Omega Cassiopeiae—was a blue supergiant thousands of lightyears away from the Juno system. Bojack and his gang were actually sealed between the two binary stars in the Juno system. As is mentioned in "Of Mice and Men", one of the stars in the Juno system was tiny and blue; the other was massive and red. The tiny blue star is a neutron star, the core of an already-collapsed star. The red giant is a main-sequence star like our Sun nearing the end of its life; it, like our sun, will eventually collapse slowly into a white dwarf. Both a white dwarf and a neutron star are degenerate stars and will last to the end of the universe. Knowing this, the Kais would have deemed it safe to seal someone inside either of these, not expecting the stars to explode at some point in the distant future.
Q: I have a question: What about the Tuffles? What are their connections to the Saiyans and Humans?
A: Tsuffles, Saiyans, and Humans all have a common ancestor. Who that common ancestor was and where the populations diverged is a long, long story that we hope to tell someday.
Q: Which Namekians can heal? Can Piccolo III heal? And does healing restore all your energy or just repair damage to the body?
A: Healing is a learned skill like flight or energy attacks or telepathy. It is unknown whether this is a skill restricted to a particular class of Namekians or open to any Namekians. It is, however, very difficult to master; Dende's healing ability was probably either unlocked or enhanced by the Grand Elder. Piccolo III does not presently have healing, but it is something he might conceivably be able to learn. Healing both repairs damage and restores energy; the restoration of energy is magical and obviously does not drain the same amount of energy from the healer (for example, all the Saiyans have dramatically more energy than Dende, but he can still recharge them). However, there are limits: a Namekian can become too mentally or physically exhausted to continue healing, or an exceptional warrior can be too powerful for a single healer to fully restore all their energy, as we saw when Kibito Kai healed Gohan in canon.
Q: In regards to the universe being thrown off kilter due to imbalance since Cell's soul was destroyed: Wouldn't that set the universe right? Cell's soul is not native to that universe, and the evil created is not native to that universe.
A: Good question. Was the universe actually set up to accommodate time travel and diverging timelines? Well, probably not. However, the problem with destroying a soul is not so much an issue of balance (though that's certainly a consideration, particularly if it happens a lot) and more an issue of fracturing the structure of the universe itself. Once souls are created, they are connected to the universe in a very fundamental way and they must remain immortal in order for the universe to remain stable. Destroying Cell's soul didn't imbalance the universe so much as it fractured the local integrity of Otherworld.
Q: I wonder what the consequences of Cell's destruction will be. Maybe the imbalance in spiritual energy will lead to the creation of an original BoD villain?
A: Hmm...we can neither confirm nor deny this rumor. Which means: probably.
Q: In canon, Trunks and Goten could transform so easily because Goku and Vegeta had already mastered the transformation at their conception while Future Vegeta hadn't. If this is true and given the whole premise of your story, Future Trunks should have transformed at a much younger age.
A: Achieving SSj almost certainly made a difference, but there are also other major factors like the upbringing of the two boys. They were trained more regularly and were surrounded by examples of powerful warriors. Our Future Trunks didn't have the exact same challenges as the one in canon, but he did wrestle with some bigger challenges...like a sense of responsibility for Goku's death at his father's hands. He had to overcome that guilt in order to realize his transformation.
Q: I liked the way cell was finally stopped. I guess this means theres no chance of babidi using his magic to revive cell then?
A: In short...nope. Cell is far beyond the reach of Babidi. Or Bibidi. Or any other mortal.
Q: Necromancy being outlawed and effectively stamped out by the Kais is a pretty good explanation for why the dead typically aren't returned back to the Living World unless they are properly revived. Once again, Earth apparently didn't get the memo. We've got ghosts and Baba's Mummy and Vampire fighters running around, not to mention Chiaotzu who is presumably a Jiangshi.
A: Otherworld is great about creating policies, not so good at enforcing them. The Kaios tend to see time moving much more quickly than mortals; they miss a lot along the way.
Q: I was told your fan fic was based off the anime and not the manga, so hell filler is ok with me.
A: I originally watched the anime before ever reading the manga, so that's what I originally had in mind. Now, David (back when he was an editor) read the manga in-depth and reviewed everything for accuracy. So basically we have a tradition of sticking as close to the manga as possible, but adding in elements from the anime when the manga is incomplete or unclear.
Q: Liked a lot the part where Trunks talks with Bulma but I think that he should have waited to leave until Goku and Vegeta were revived, he has damned time machine, he can go back to his own time just five minutes after he left.
A: If Trunks returned to his own timeline just five minutes after he left, he would cross over Goku's travels because Goku has already gone to the future and returned. Bulma advised Trunks to make sure he put at least a little bit of time between each entry and exit point to avoid mixing up the timelines even worse. So he will need to pick a time at least several weeks or months after Goku's departure from Future Namek.
Q: What a great way to finish off Cell for good. Also, are you going to be having a chapter on Trunks' return to his time, or is this the last we'll see of Future Trunks?
A: This is definitely not the last we'll see of Future Trunks, that much is for certain!
Q: Do you think that the fundamental laws of physics as we know them apply to the DBZ universe? More specifically concerning light speed. Information can be sent far faster than light (as many characters could sense villains approaching the planet in FTL ships) and therefore, at least with my admittedly low understanding of relativistic physics, light speed isn't all that significant.
A: I'm sure David would have had a fantastic answer for this, haha. The explanation he's given before is basically that scouters and power-sensing and instant transmission and FTL travel all work through hyperspace, a fourth dimension that's much smaller and quicker to travel through than regular space.
Q: Is David Starlen going to be back to edit and help to make updates faster soon? How is he? Are you going to include Androids 13 14 and 15 in this awwwweeeeessssssoooooommmmmmeeeeeeee story?
A: Unfortunately, I don't think David will be coming back on as an editor/writer any time soon. But he is just fine—no illness or anything like that. I can tell you we don't have any plans for Androids 13-15 in Bringer of Death. That movie has a lot of plotholes...it's possible, however, that it occurred in the alternate canon timeline where 17 and 18 were shut down rather than defeated (the original "past" where the original Trunks who would later be killed by Imperfect Future Cell first visited).
Q: I didn't know what to think when Cell finally saw the truth. I doubt it was a true reformation. He would have still tried to become the epitome of perfection even if he was released after that moment he had the revelation right?
A: Absolutely. Even though he admitted his imperfection to himself, he was still evil and vengeful and would have continued to do everything he could to destroy all that is good. And he never would have admitted his imperfection to anyone else.
Q: The thing about Cell's reanimated corpse being rejected by the universe and being sent back doesn't make sense. In the Bojack Unbound movie Goku tells King Kai his son needs him then teleports off to the living realm. There he spends about 15 seconds from punching Bojack to holding Gohan and motivating him. Goku is then shown back next to King Kai on a rocky area in other world and not at King Yemma's. So wouldn't Cell have been teleported back to King Kai's since that's where he teleported from?
A: A moment like that in the films probably isn't something that can be accurately timed. Even so, I've rewatched that part, and Goku only spent a split second or so when he entered the living world. By the time we see Goku again, he would have had ample time to teleport back to where King Kai is. It might also have something to do with him having an Otherworld body. Since he's already received judgement, he is free to go where he wishes, unlike Cell when he escaped Hell. That might allow him to just be pulled back to his last location in Otherworld.
Q: If going Super Saiyan 2 broke the limit that was obstructing the Saiyans, could it also help raise the regular Super Saiyan power addition? From what I see, the power addition is 750 million, but wouldn't that number get rather insignificant if they reached the billions (in terms of base power)?
A: In David's model, normal Saiyan base power probably wouldn't ever reach into the billions—in fact, it might not pass the size of the 750 million FPSSj boost. Without him, calculating power levels going forward will be difficult. But one thing to keep in mind is that going from base to SSj1 will ALWAYS be a substantial increase in power.
Q: I did find it interesting how weak you made pikkon. In the show we saw goku couldn't beat him with his full strength as a super saiyan and was actually weaker than him, but not as strong as cell.
A: As I hope this chapter demonstrated, Pikkon is the same strength as always in BoD. In DBZ, he defeated a weakened Cell down in Hell, one which was not even powered up. Once Cell escaped Hell in BoD, he had access to his full Super Perfect strength, which is undeniably a whole tier above SSj. As Pikkon and SSj Goku fought almost evenly in the Otherworld Tournament, with Pikkon having the advantage in speed and Goku having the edge in raw strength, there is simply no way that Pikkon is an entire tier above Cell, who is an entire tier above Goku.
Q: Cell couldn't leave the land of the dead. Guess they are out of luck when it's Buu's time to shine.
A: Cell tried to do it on his own, rather than by the help of a necromancer or witch such as Baba.