Otherworld Saga, Part 5: A Battle for Pride

TOC. A pair of white boots landed on the ring.

CLAK. Opposite them, two blue boots touched down in the corner across.

Two Saiyans, quite possibly the two strongest mortals in the universe, stood face to face unblinkingly. Silence hung in the air, an unspoken weight felt by everyone. Competitors and spectators alike seemed to be trying to contain their nerves.

"This is it..." King Kai gulped, being himself one of many. "One for the record books, you can count on it."

The Kais had been able to use some of their magic to restore the arena to a presentable state—basic essentials like a level surface and even boundaries. However disheveled it still appeared, though, it in no way diminished the anticipation of either the crowd or the combatants. This was the finals, the match everyone had been waiting for.

The shorter Saiyan wore a tight blue gi, a white chestplate with a left shoulder-guard, and a half-ripped red cape. Vegeta kept his arms crossed over his armor, a slight frown on his face as he stared across. Goku, his opponent, was clad in his favorite and most comfortable orange and blue gi, emblazoned with the kanji of King Kai. He wore a friendly but battle-toughened face. For a moment, neither spoke as they took in the moment.

"So...here we are," a deep, slightly annoyed-sounding voice said.

"Yeah...looks like this is it." The other man's voice was even and cheerful, but had an underlying air of anticipation and excitement.

"I wonder...do you have any idea how long I've been looking forward to this?" The prince tilted his head to one side, cracking his neck in anticipation.

Goku's serious expression turned upwards into a half smirk. "Well, actually...I might," he chuckled. "You know you're not the only one who's wanted a rematch, Vegeta. I guess I've never been one to take losing a fight easily—especially when I know I could've won." Maintaining eye contact with his foe, he slowly twisted his torso from side to side, causing his spine to pop several times.

"Reeeally?" Vegeta replied, elongating his vowels. "You think you could've won, huh!? I seem to recall whipping you quite thoroughly the last time we fought. Then again, I wouldn't rely on your memory to paint any kind of accurate picture. After all, how often does the "great hero" Kakarott lose a battle?"

"Eh, more than you'd think," Goku replied, adding in a humble yet playful laugh. "Maybe it would've been impossible for me to win, but I like to think there's always something else I could've done."

"If you're referring to the way you seemed to be holding your own against a Super Saiyan," Vegeta began, "recall that your display was only barely enough to intrigue my curiosity. Hell, if I hadn't been in such a good mood from killing Frieza even that might not have been enough."

"Yeah, well, whatever your reason, it has been a little longer than the one year I promised you, hasn't it?" he said, keeping his voice steady. "Too bad, I would've liked to knock you down a few pegs a lot sooner."

"Hah!" the prince laughed aloud. "It took every ounce of willpower I had to refrain from permanently putting an end to that insufferable clownish grin of yours," Vegeta observed wryly. "Each day I saw you was like a slap in the face, reminding me that I had willingly agreed to postpone our battle."

"That bad, huh? Well, I guess there's no time like the present," Goku added.

Vegeta paused a moment, lowering his hands to his sides and seeming to calm down slightly. "Indeed, even if we're a couple of corpses. I'd say this proves once and for all that some feuds have the power to transcend even death."

Goku's smile briefly widened, cracking his knuckles. "Well, only because I vouched for you at Yemma's..."

The prince's grin suddenly hardened, once again being reminded of why Kakarott annoyed him so much—and also of why he was such a worthy adversary.

"It occurs to me, Kakarott, that it's more than a little regretful the ultimate outcome of our battle can't be more...final," the prince continued. It went without saying now that neither Saiyan wished the other to be erased from existence entirely, as Cell had been. Their fight would no doubt be spectacular, but death or complete obliteration was no longer an option. "Although, I still have my doubts as to whether or not you'd have the stomach to finish it anyway—if we were to have fought back on Earth, that is."

"Heh," Goku chuckled. "You talk as big a game as ever, Vegeta...I just wonder what Bulma would've done if you'd actually tried to follow through. Cell could be a pretty terrifying guy, but when our wives get angry, it's like they're in a league of their own."

Vegeta's grin betrayed him a second as he recalled his many arguments with the Earth woman. She was quite formidable, a fact he actually enjoyed. But he would not be distracted, not here, not now.

"Oh, I'm sure they'd get over it once I wished you back with the Dragon Balls," Vegeta replied smugly. His grin widened suddenly. "Until I killed you again, that is."

"Ah, I see," the other Saiyan said playfully. "So, you do still think you have what it takes, huh?"

"Have you ever doubted my resolve, Kakarott? I'll do what I must, that's one thing that will never change." The Prince was drawing things out, choosing his words carefully, enjoying each and every second of their banter.

"Well, we wouldn't want that, would we," Goku answered with another grin, reveling in their banter just as much as his rival was. "I mean, what if someone attacked the Earth and I wasn't around to save it?" he joked further.

"Who knows?" Vegeta shrugged, playing along. "I suppose there's always Gohan."

Goku clenched his fists, feeling the extra blood pumping through them as his intensity focused. "Yeah," he replied, eyes still locked with his rival. It wasn't what had been said, it was what was unsaid, all that was implied. The two Saiyans had a kinship now, a warrior's bond much more important than any old vendetta—not that they didn't still have a score to settle.

"I'm going to enjoy beating you this time, Vegeta," Goku said excitedly.

"Hn. Yes, I guess we'll finally see if you've got it in you," the royal prince answered.

The announcer, picking up on the end of their conversation, suddenly raised his voice into the microphone. "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND ALL VARIOUS SPECIES...THE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!" Everyone cheered with all their might, though the fighters within the ring gave no acknowledgement of the applause. "For the first time in Otherworld Tournament history, both our contenders are rookies here, they're practically fresh dead! What's more, each one's from the North Quadrant—looks like they grow em' tough up in North Kai's territory!"

Below, the blue-skinned deity grinned proudly, being sure to appreciate the obvious frustration on West Kai's face. South and East Kai had changed their demeanor towards him, however. Their envy was revealed in gaping stares and jealous trembling. "Do your best, boys!" King Kai yelled, cupping his hands. Vegeta was by no means his student, but he had no problem being associated with him—so long as the prince behaved.

"In the first corner, we have Prince Vegeta, the fifth of his name, and Emperor of the Planet Trade Organization. He earned a probationary pass into Otherworld by sacrificing himself to destroy a villain named Cell, and now he's made it all the way to the finals! Let's hear it for Vegeta!"

The crowd went wild, many of them having felt an instant respect for the prince since his first match. He had a commanding presence, an authoritative figure, and sensing out his Ki felt like walking into the throne-room of a King.

"And in the other corner, we have Son Goku, the second of his name, also known as Kakarott, son of Bardock. He's from the planet Earth, which he saved on numerous occasions, and his heroism in battle has earned him a permanent place in Otherworld. Let's hear it for Goku!"

"Are ya'll ready!?" The announcer shouted, turning to the Grand Kai, who nodded from behind his shades. With a slight flick, he then rang the gong. "THEN LET THE FINAL MATCH BEGIN!"

Suddenly, again, it was silent in the massive stadium—everyone knew this was going to be spectacular from the get go. They didn't want to miss a bit of it. The two Saiyans closed their eyes, took a deep breath in unison, and relaxed.

Seconds passed; not a sound was heard from one side of the grandstands to the other. Then, the slightest whisper of a breeze began to blow, too tenuous for the audience to even be sure where it was coming from. The warriors in the ring were still motionless.

The wind grew in strength; it was now clearly emanating from around the ring itself. Though neither of the warriors had so much as twitched, the grass in the middle of the stadium that surrounded the ring was starting to sway back and forth.

White waves of energy began flowing out around the feet of both fighters, spreading and building. The wind was now whipping through the stadium. The two circles of energy grew and filled the entire ring, flowing into each other at the very center.

Both Goku and Vegeta were now surrounded by wisps of pure white ki that curved out in tendrils before melting in the rush of wind. The wind, for its part, had reached a roar. The pair was still motionless.

"What are they doing, just standing there?!" demanded South Kai.

King Kai snorted. "These Saiyans always want to show off, it's like they're on some TV show! I swear, they spend as much time as they can powering up." The North deity was as witty as ever, coming up with puns on the spot whenever the opportunity arose. "Maybe they're just trying to get more royalties from all the commercial breaks. Royalty, hah! Saiyans! Bahaha! I crack myself up."

The wind was high enough now that the planetoids floating above the stadium began to move in large, creeping orbits. East Kai swallowed. "I can see why these two made it to the end! Their ki is so strong it's like it has a mind of its own."

"You haven't seen the half of it!" boasted King Kai. "When those two go Super Saiyan, then things will really start getting crazy..."

The white energy surrounding the two Saiyans was now streaming out in perfectly straight lines, nearly hiding them from view. West Kai tried to say something disparaging, but his voice was snatched away in the roar of the wind.

Vegeta's eyes flashed to green just an instant before Goku's did the same. The surging waves of white energy around their feet started to melt into gold. The sparkling energy rose around their bodies as if it was filling them from bottom to top. An instant before it consumed their auras entirely, their hair blazed into golden glory and a pair of shockwaves rocketed out across the stadium.

"Woah!" the announcer shouted. "Once again, our two finalists have transformed into shiny golden warriors. And if past experience is any indicator, it looks like things are about to heat up, bigtime!"

"That's it, Goku..." Pikkon mused, speaking only to himself. "Don't you dare lose."

Goku clenched his fists and widened his stance; Vegeta gave him a curt nod and did the same. The blazes around the two Super Saiyans erupted higher, filling the stadium with golden light as they continued to power up.

The ring began to vibrate, almost humming with the weight of Super Saiyan energy, as thin rays of brilliant light streamed out from the pair. The planetoids above them had been totally blown away; the roaring wind from the ring had pinned the first few audience rows to their seats.

Within moments, both reached the pinnacle of full-power Super Saiyan strength and all was calm. The power-up was complete; waves of golden energy were now gently rushing out from underneath their feet and their bodies were glowing with pulsing light. The two stared across at one another as equals, their power bursting out around them into a familiar jagged yellow. Its hum, the fluctuating vibrations and pulsations that enveloped them, were the only sounds within the arena. Their ki begged for the unleashing, for the end of the waiting, yet the silence continued.

"How are they just standing there with all that power like it's nothing?" one of the North Quadrant fighters, Olibu, whispered in awe.

"They're completely at ease, and just look at their form," another, a fox-like fighter, observed. "To be standing up there and possess that much energy, yet still have that kind of control...I daresay I'd never imagined such a thing possible."

Pikkon chuckled to himself. "All of that powering up, and they aren't even using their real strength yet...Tch...what arrogance." He, along with many of the others, still had yet to grasp just how thoroughly Saiyans enjoyed fighting—how drawing out every detail of it was practically an artform to them.

The green flame within their eyes could barely be contained. Goku felt out every inch of his foe's energy, sensing and analyzing, while Vegeta did the same. It took every bit of restraint they had to not charge one another at that instant, yet they both held back. The audience was beginning to stir, almost in a grumble.

"Come...on," King Kai gulped nervously, his forehead drenched in sweat. "The suspense is killing me!"

"Somebody, just make a move already," West Kai complained. "Pikkon would've never have let a championship match be so incredibly dull!"

"Oh, hush already, West Kai," Grand Kai chuckled from behind—his smile, something he just couldn't seem to contain, was wide with excitement. "This thing's just gettin' good!"

Goku finally opened his mouth to speak, hesitating a moment before the words came out. "Well, Vegeta, what do you say we kick it up all the way?"

As if he was thinking the same thing, the corner of the prince's mouth suddenly smirked.

"I really see no reason for a warmup..." Goku continued.

"This entire tournament has been a warmup, Kakarott. So by all means...be my guest."

"Alright then," Goku said, crouching low. He curled in his fists, bending at the knees and digging in deep. "I will!"

The power he'd possessed for barely two hours didn't respond immediately. Goku could feel it residing deep within him, but couldn't quite grasp hold of it yet—it was as if he were fishing for a single fish in the entire ocean. Though his eyes remained wide open, his gaze was lost and blank. "Yaaaaaaaahhhhh—" he began to yell, his voice echoing lowly with a baritone timbre. His inward focus tightened as he tried to find that same trigger within him as before. Though he could recall his earlier emotions, his mental state and his single-mindedness, his unfamiliarity with both the power and the transformation itself worked against him. The quickness of his earlier instinctive transformation might have been due to the need of the moment, but controlling it and calling it out willingly was proving just as difficult as controlling the original Super Saiyan form. Fortunately, Vegeta was content to be patient.

"Huuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaa—" his cry crescendoed as a mighty gulf of wind suddenly shot out from his body. The clothing of bystanders whipped violently, lashing against their skin, some of it even ripping off and flying away. Many aliens themselves were suddenly snatched into the air and thrown against the upper bleachers behind. The display of power from the two warrior's power-up moments ago seemed like a light breeze in comparison. Thick, dark, energy began to hover in the false sky above the ring, a black canopy that rumbled with thunderous shakes every few seconds. Lightning, pure white, struck the tournament ring all around Goku's feet. Bolt after bolt continued dancing across the tiles, zapping it in a circular swarm all around the hero. A few stray strikes snaked in the direction of the prince, but rebounded from his form as if he were protected by an invisible wall.

"Ruuuuuaaaaaaaaaa—" the hero was close. Every cell in his body had been united, concentrating as one to search out the power of an Ascended Saiyan, hidden deep within. It seemed like it was just in his peripheral vision now, his fingers unknowingly beginning to crackle with tiny sparks of blue lightning. Goku's mighty roar grew higher and higher, rising in intensity and pitch until a normal man's voice would've cracked. Suddenly he had to breathe, filling his lungs with a deep intake of oxygen, his diaphragm extending fully as he prepared for a final push.

"GGYYYAAAAAAAA!" Goku's piercing shout caused several to cover their ears from its decibel. With that yell his muscles suddenly tightened with a stretching sound, tensing as his body adjusted to the new rush of strength once again. Then exploding outwards, his golden aura suddenly doubled in size, standing nearly three times his height and alive with jagged blades of electricity. His cry continued on, now secondary behind the pulsating vibrant hum of his aura, until finally the hero's tones waned into nothing. As the Saiyan raised his eyes back to Vegeta, now once again fully ascended to the level of Super Saiyan 2, he neither felt nor showed exhaustion. His breath was even and calm, heartbeat steady and confident; he felt even stronger than he'd been a few hours ago!

Goku's cleaner, more rigid look gave him the appearance of being a much more serious warrior now. As his golden-hued energy descended back to a normal height above his head, he turned his attention forwards to the prince.

All four Kais seemed to drop their jaws in unison. Perhaps Goku's earlier transformation had been too brief or maybe he had simply kept the lion's share of his power hidden. Either way, now that he had the entire glory of his full strength on display, the mere feeling of it was enough to overwhelm the senses. Of all the hundreds of thousands of Ki signatures within the tournament stadium, it suddenly felt as if they'd all been stomped out. He was no longer merely a supergiant of power surrounded by tiny moons, it was as if he were an entire galaxy and they were all mustard seeds.

"He's...a monster..." South Kai stuttered, jaw still wide open. "Why, never in all my years have I felt anything so...powerful!"

King Kai's voice shook as well, sweat on his forehead as he sensed out his student's new strength. "Just relax," he finally said, talking to himself more than anyone else. "There's a good chance we haven't seen anything yet."

"Ghhrrrrr," West Kai growled under his breath. Even he couldn't deny how powerful the Saiyan was.

Audience members, most of them now terrified, had begun to slowly make their way back to their seats—more cautiously than ever this time. They could all feel Goku's strength, though, and while it felt immeasurable, it was also good and pure. Something about it drew them in, made them eager to see more of it. It was only when the other Saiyan finally moved again that they froze in their tracks once more.

Vegeta closed his eyes and bowed his head, the tiniest hint of a smile on his face. Then, it vanished into a serious frown. Kakarott's transformation had seemed so sloppy, so unrefined and wasteful—then again, his own had been the same way at first. Nevertheless, he was determined to demonstrate to everyone in attendance the proper way to ascend.

"My turn."

The prince's head snapped back and his eyes opened, their jade fire brightly burning. He crossed his arms, then flung them wide and lifted into the air.

"YAAAAAAHHHH!"

Instantly his hair spiked out more rigidly and darkened in hue, the change also accompanied by the immediate expansion of his muscle mass and the addition of blue lightning to his aura. Many frightened audience members, who'd braced out of fear, slowly lowered their guards and reluctantly peeked out with relief. The two fighters standing before them, now somewhat calm, looked and felt nearly identical, one clad in orange and the other in blue and white.

"They're...exactly the same!" gasped East Kai.

Overhearing, Vegeta smirked. "Well, haha, I think it's finally time we found out."

On the opposite corner of the ring, Goku crouched into his oldest and most familiar Turtle fighting stance. "I'm not going to hold back, Vegeta."

"Neither will I."

The prince stood in place for one more long, silent moment. Then he struck.

Whipping one arm around, his body only a blur the audience could barely catch sight of, Vegeta launched a powerful kiai across the ring, invisible except for the arcs of lightning that trailed behind it. To the few in the audience quick enough to follow, it was immediately obvious that this simple kiai contained more than enough force to instantly crush any one of the competitors Vegeta had formerly faced in the tournament.

Goku threw one fist out, blocking with his own kiai of equal strength, then launched himself off the ring with enough intensity to leave behind a crater in the tiles. His aura left a sparkling arc through the air, leading straight into Vegeta.

THU'UM!

Even the fastest eyes in the audience missed the kick that catapulted Vegeta all the way across the tournament stadium in less than a split second. Vegeta twirled in midair just in time, hovering mere meters above the top row of bleachers, and narrowly blocked the punch Goku had waiting for him. The force of the exchange send those just below their feet flying, as well as shooting cracks through the back of the arena wall. After the quick guard, Vegeta immediately countered with his own punch, but the younger Saiyan managed to block it in turn and, angling himself carefully behind his foe, land another blindingly fast kick.

The force from this one was even greater, rocketing the prince across the stadium at speeds well beyond supersonic. However, as if he had all the time in the world, Vegeta rolled over in mid-flight and let loose a rapid-fire stream of energy blasts as he arced up into the false skyline. Chasing after, Goku wove between. A golden trail of energy flowed out behind him as the Saiyan expertly circled and spun through and around the barrage. The Earthling's smile never faltered for a second until he finally caught up to his opponent and slammed into Vegeta at full force with the center of his forehead.

Vegeta's crossed arms absorbed the impact, but Goku's momentum carried the pair through three of the planetoids in a trail of shattered rock before slowing. The prince released an asymmetric gust of ki that pushed Goku back to a safe distance as he came to a halt.

"Heh," he chuckled, his breathing still steady and relaxed.

Goku smiled, keeping his guard at the ready. He too, appeared completely at ease.

The two Saiyans floated in midair a hundred feet above Grand Kai's stadium box, in a brief full second of silence. FLAM! This time Vegeta made the first move, his staccato punches flying faster than anything Goku had ever seen. Bracing, the other Saiyan traded blows with him at lightning speed; it sounded like the rumbling of constant thunder.

With each punch, the other fighter gave the perfect counter time and time again—as if this were a dance the two had choreographed and practiced each day for hours on end. With each change of pace, the other Saiyan would adapt perfectly. When Goku shifted onto offense, his rival perfectly transitioned into defensive counters and blocks. When Vegeta changed tactics, mixing up the speed and strength of his blows, altering the timing in his rhythm, Goku made it seem as if the prince were changing nothing at all. There were no stray attacks, no missed swings that sent damaging ki shockwaves through the heavens. Rather, with each powerful blow, an equal and opposite force was placed in perfect synchronous rhythm.

"I...don't believe what I'm seeing," Pikkon said silently—one of the few people capable of even comprehending the fight taking place above him.

"Hmmm," King Kai reflected. "Have you ever seen such passion before?" he asked the other Kais rhetorically. "It's these Saiyans, they're really something else."

After nearly five straight minutes of the most perfectly-matched, perfectly smooth combat anyone in the audience had ever seen, Vegeta broke rhythm and spun around behind Goku. The other Saiyan flipped himself upside down and the two locked their fists together, seemingly dead even in strength. The prince rotated until they were facing each other again, their grip twisted, and they hung motionless yet again.

Vegeta raised one knee to break the lock just as Goku did the same. Each shifted weight, twisting and adjusting, looking for the slightest advantage in leverage, but they remained perfectly balanced. It was as if each were reading the other's mind—not through any mental technique, but through the perfect assessment of the other's strengths and weaknesses.

Goku began raising his strength, his golden aura flaring out behind him. Vegeta matched the increase with a freshly-unleashed wave of his own, each pushing at the other. Intertwined fingers burned with heat and electricity. Unsatisfied with the intensity, the older Saiyan clenched his teeth together and snapped his head forward into Goku's, only to be met by an equally-violent rejoinder. The shockwaves from their foreheads, a familiar sound to any fighter, echoed through the stadium.

Both Saiyans maintained their grip on the other, pulling each other in as their foreheads banged again and again in succession. It seemed like they could go on for hours without feeling the slightest pain. Then, just when the audience couldn't stand it anymore, a small spray of blood finally leaked from both warrior's heads in unison. The red trail slowly crawled down Goku's right eyebrow, collecting there before it dripped down lower onto his chin. Vegeta's curled down in a trail between his eyes and crept near the corner of his mouth. Grinning, he stuck his tongue out and licked the small sliver of red.

"Eww, that's gross, Vegeta!" the other Saiyan immediately commented. Instantly, it seemed, the mood was broken. Both finally released their grip on the other, the prince lowering his hands and Goku wiping the crimson stain off his forehead.

"What? You don't like the taste of battle, Kakarott? Afraid of getting your hands DIRTY!?" his voice crescendoed as he flung his right arm out with a point blank ki blast. But somehow, Goku was prepared, already leaning to his right in a dodge. In his own right hand was a small attack of his own which he threw in quick reply.

Vegeta smiled at the maneuver, accelerating straight up so it passed beneath him. A moment later, the two blasts crashed into the domed ceiling many meters on either side of them, each detonating with a larger explosion than even Pikkon's Thunder Flash. The entire space room shook violently as bits of the ceiling began to crumble and fall below. But before the dust could even settle, the two were back at it again.

Goku threw both hands forward, firing another mid-sized, golden energy sphere that rocketed at his foe. Vegeta backhanded the attack straight back at him an instant later, but Goku returned the volley with his right hand and with his left fired a second spread of energy blasts. Unphased, Vegeta lit his ki brightly around him and charged through both attacks like a freight train—the balls deflected away from his aura like nothing. But the other Saiyan met his charge with a sweeping upward kick aimed at his belly.

Vegeta barely managed to dodge the blow, appearing immediately behind Goku with an elbow to the back. But the hero of Earth dodged as well, vanishing with a ZIP and rematerializing behind Vegeta. Just as he swung his own counter, a strong left fist, the prince disappeared again. Goku spun, expecting another attack from behind, only this time it came from below. Vegeta was charging him like a rocket leaving orbit, two fists extended up. Thinking quickly, though, the Z fighter raised two fingers to his head for instant transmission.

TZZCH!

He avoided the attack by the narrowest of margins, retaliating with a one-handed energy blast thrown at Vegeta from his blind spot to the back left. This time, the prince was finally caught unprepared as the attack exploded against his armor and sent him flying across the space room. To slow himself, the prince threw his hands forward and launched a kiai at the wall, but Goku was upon him once again, relentlessly pursuing with instant transmission once again. The righteous fighter's kick struck Vegeta full in the jaw, which Goku quickly followed up with a knee from behind. Now, having his momentum negated, Goku took advantage of Vegeta's fully exposed torso, laying down dozens and dozens of powerful punches while he had the opening.

"RAAAAHH!" Vegeta roared, sending his ki out in a spiral wave—the resulting momentum causing Goku's last punch to ricochet off to the side. Fueled now by rage, the prince leapt forwards with his right foot, pounding his rival in the chest with three successive kicks followed by a powerful left that spun him around backwards.

"Hah!" Vegeta laughed.

Before Goku had any chance of reacting, the other Saiyan had raised his right hand directly to the small of his back.

"Galick Impact!" he yelled, firing a blue sphere at point blank range.

The attack launched Goku across the entire length of the space room in seconds, causing him to slam violently through planet after planet, crushing them to bits along the way. Just when he felt he might have the leverage to escape from its path, though, Vegeta detonated the blast, causing an enormous spherical explosion wave. Light blue waves shot down towards the trembling arena, almost as if a star had just exploded. The grandstands shook once again, audience members instinctively throwing their arms up to cover their eyes from the light.

"Uh, folks..." the announcer fumbled, trying to think of any commentary he could add. Since most of them couldn't see the fight or what was going on, all he really comment on was whether or not they were all in danger. "...please stay within your designated seating areas. I'm sure our two contestants will remember we're down here eventually. Until then, all we can do is imagine all the crazy fighting that's going on up there."

'Come on, Goku, my boy!' King Kai thought to himself, his fists tight with tension as he waited. 'You're doing fine, just keep this up...'

"Hey, who's winning?" "What's going on up there?" several of the Northern Quadrant's fighters gathered around him had begun to ask. He, along with the other Kais had been watching the fight with their antennae—though watching was enough to make them dizzy.

"That's a good question indeed," said the East Kai, taking off her sunglasses to wipe them with a cleaning cloth. She simply had to get her bearings before watching any more of that insanity above. "It seems to me that this Vegeta character, rude as he is, may have a slight edge at the moment."

"For the time being," South Kai confirmed as he crossed his arms over his chest. "But I'll be the first to admit a fight like this is really out of my league to critique. What do you think, master?" he asked, turning up towards the Grand Kai.

"Hmmmh," the Lord of Otherworld grunted through a smile. "These boys', hah," he chuckled, uncrossing his legs as if in excitement—clearly, he too, could see the entire fight. "Well, I'll give em' credit for one thing, they sure do know to string you guys along. I ain't never seen ya'll so tense." The great kai howled with a spurt of laughter before finally settling back down.

"So," South Kai continued, finding himself suddenly curious, "does that mean you're impressed with them, Grand Kai?"

"Well, uh..." their master suddenly fumbled. "I guess so, sure. I mean, yeah, they're certainly powerful. Why do you ask?"

"Bah!" West Kai interrupted with a snarky laugh, pointing an accusing finger at South Kai. "Surely you weren't insinuating that those two hot-shots might actually be in the same league as the Grand Kai himself! Don't be ridiculous, really, you're acting just as foolishly as North Kai."

King Kai had raised an eyebrow throughout the conversation and had previously chosen not to butt in. But having the prime opportunity presented, he finally spoke up.

"That is a pretty pathetic attempt at humor, West Kai," North Kai said flatly. "You should probably leave all the joking to the King of Comedy." He quickly turned to his master, the bearded kai above still blushing somewhat from embarrassment. King Kai didn't have to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking. "Grand Kai could stomp out those two in half a second if he wanted to," the blue deity from the North said with a smirk. "Isn't that right, master?"

"What's that North Kai?" the old man said rather quickly, his behaviour still strangely nervous. "Oh, take out those two, right, right." What parts of his face remained visible, those not covered by white hair or shades, were indeed quite red. "Sure, ya'll gotta be joking, right? As if two mere mortals could withstand the art of Grand Kai, haha...I'd have em' wide eyed and mystified with just my aura alone. Yeah, yeah, those two, good as they are, would probably need at least a couple millennia of training before they could even hang in the ring with me for a minute..."

As the leader's awkward speech finally paused, leaving all in the group below somewhat confused and skeptical, a thunderous boom from above stole away the moment.

Though the spectators had temporarily ceased paying attention to the battle due to the sheer lumosity the two combatants were producing, that didn't mean the two Saiyan warriors were about to halt their conflict any time soon. Fists were being thrown in flurries; kicks were chained together with devastating impact. It was hard to imagine how the pair's stamina could endure so long...but neither showed any signs of slowing.

Their sheer willpower and resolution prevented them from letting up, even for a second. Each one of them, for their respective reasonings, had something to prove. For the elder of the two, it was to truly settle the score between himself and the anomalous low-class. For the low-class in question, it was nothing a good fight with the most powerful warrior he knew—one he could call both an ally and a rival.

And with nothing short of determination and raw power, the two streaks of light collided once more in a spectacular blaze of an amber hue, exchanging a rapid flurry of fists and feet in an attempt to overpower the other. Both growled ferally as their auras, jagged with electrical sparks of raw energy, expanded to compass them in a shimmering golden flame of power.

'Vegeta...' Goku pondered inwardly, feeling the prince gaining a sudden edge in power. He sped backwards for some distance—It was clear Vegeta's prior experience with Super Saiyan 2 wasn't for nothing. 'I've never gotten the chance to fight you on truly even terms like this. Something's always gotten in the way… even in our first battle, back in those mountains, we never had the chance to settle things one-on-one. Then it was Frieza… then the Androids. Cell came not too long after that. Then there was that issue you had to deal with in space while Gohan, Trunks, and I were left to defend Earth against Cell. And during all of those five years, I never had the chance to truly fight you.'

Goku began throwing energy blasts wildly, each one chasing his opponent across the starscape as he dodged. Vegeta was as nimble as ever, vanishing and reappearing before a single one could make contact. The Earth-raised Saiyan was beginning to realize that he couldn't risk physical encounters with the prince anymore—he'd have to keep his distance if he wanted to outlast his foe.

'But all that's behind us now, Vegeta. We're going to determine the better of us right here and now. One of us, in some shape or form, will be declared the winner. And when this one's over, win or lose, I can honestly say I'll already be excited for our next fight.'

Vegeta was getting closer, making his way through the energy barrage bit by bit, and soon he'd be able to break through. Worse, the righteous fighter's entire line of vision was now clouded with the clouds of grey dust, the sole remnant from his flurry of blasts. Goku hovered, knees slightly bent, arms cocked, eyes alert, as he tried to concentrate.

"Behind you, clown!"

The prince's sudden insult was accompanied by the single hardest knee to the gut the good-hearted Saiyan had ever received, no question about it. Goku's pupils went white for half a second as saliva flew from his gaping mouth. He screamed in sudden shock, but his voice was choked off when Vegeta's thick arms suddenly took hold around his neck. From behind him, the prince suddenly looped backwards until the two were in a golden streaking dive towards the ring below. Just before impact, the prince let go, graciously letting his rival take the full force of the impact.

His orange shirt now completely ripped off, Goku quickly stumbled to his feet, arms hanging limply.

"You're mine, Kakarott!"

Before the hero of Earth had even gotten his bearings, the Saiyan prince, wreathed in blue lightning, had flown into his chest at full force. Goku took all the momentum he could within his body, minimizing his launch distance—he was still flung backwards, and skidded to the edge of the ring, but barely stayed in bounds. Only, his escape attempt was far from over.

"Stay down, fool!"

A thin golden energy blast was already chasing after him. Leaping to his feet in a surprising acrobatic display, though, Goku managed to bound sideways just out of the explosion. But before he'd even taken a breath, Vegeta had fired another, even stronger golden energy beam. This time, he had no other option but to use Instant Transmission to get away.

Vegeta rushed at the corner of the ring, dashing in and halting in stunning fashion, poised for a perfect strike, only to find the empty air left behind. There, arms crossed, on the other side of the arena, stood a seemingly smug Kakarott. The prince's eyes widened in surprise as the dust cleared. He'd almost gotten carried away in the pure enjoyment of the fight, but this was yet another reminder of how Kakarott wasn't easy to get the best of.

"Again with your miracle escapes, Kakarott," Vegeta said, pausing to catch his breath. "My patience for that damn technique of yours is growing slimmer by the second."

Goku turned his head to the side, spitting out a wad of blood, then smiled again. "What, that? I'll admit I'm starting to overuse it, but I'd have thought by now you would have a way to counter it." The Earth-raised Saiyan's carefree grin accompanying his words were too much. "Since you feel so strongly about it, I guess I could refrain from using it during our fight—I guess that's fair."

The prince's face seemed to scrunch up like a sour fruit. "You'd DARE to insult me by holding back!? FOOL! INGRATE! Idiot clown of a warrior!" Without missing a beat, Vegeta concentrated his aura and ripped a jagged rift in space just in front of him. He opened the other side just behind Kakarott...for once, he was demonstrating a prized technique not to win, but to make a point. He waited until Goku had fully sensed his presence, the other Saiyan's eyes widening in surprise.

"And you think I couldn't counter your little trick," he whispered into Goku's ear. He grinned briefly before rifting once more back in front of his rival and resuming his battle stance. "Relying on techniques like your little instant transmission mainly as defense, running away and dodging at the last second, is ignoring every hint of battle instinct you have! I've been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to counter your precious little magic trick this entire fight, but so far all you've done is mock me. You cannot know how single-mindedly I devoted myself to figuring out a means to replicate your teleporting ability—and now you rob me the satisfaction of surprising you with it in battle. Pathetic."

Goku held his face still, refraining from giving any kind of reaction. Finally, he let go a bit of a sigh followed by a smile of relief. "You know, Vegeta, now that you mention it, I guess a subconscious part of me didn't think using Instant Transmission was all that fair against you—I wanted our battle to be completely even, because I knew how badly you wanted it to be. I honestly didn't even realize I was holding back. But you're right, it's a technique that has many more uses than just avoiding attacks..."

Vegeta's smile returned as Goku bent his knees once again into a fighting stance. "And now that we both know how, things can really get interesting."

"Are you finally ready to come at me with everything, then?" Vegeta chuckled.

"Hmm," his rival grunted in reply. "I think we might be able to arrange that, if you're feeling up to it?"

"Oh, by all means, Kakarott. Show me the great terror of your true strength," the prince smirked.

The two glared at one another silently, their golden auras pulsating around them, filled with electricity. Vegeta was the first to make a move, aggressively lunging forth to punch at Goku's head. Before the strike could connect, Goku smirked and vanished with a soft whoosh of displaced air. Mirroring his rival's facial expression, Vegeta readied his own technique, ripping through the space between where he floated and where he vaguely sensed Kakarott.

'That clown thinks he can keep dancing around like I can't touch him,' Vegeta thought just as he sped through the dimensional tear, 'Time to set him straight!' He emerged, readying an elbow strike, just as Kakarott blurred into view looking slightly startled.

"Gaah—!" Goku yelped as Vegeta came barrelling at him with the force of a super-powered freight train, grinning with satisfaction at catching him off guard. Thinking quickly, the spiky-haired Saiyan ducked under the incoming elbow strike, and attempted to sweep Vegeta's leading leg. The older Saiyan darted backward before he could touch him, and blitzed through another Rift. "Incredible, he's just as fast as I am!" Goku said, in a mix of amazement and respect. Behind him, Vegeta appeared again, slamming an axe kick down onto his shoulder. "Hrrgh..! You're not holding back anything, huh, Vegeta?" The Prince wordlessly smiled, eyes flickering with the green flame of their shared transformation, before disappearing through another nexus. "All right, if that's the way you want it..." Goku concentrated, gathering energy in his palms. He shut his eyes, feeling for the tell-tale flicker of Vegeta's emerging ki signature. 'There you are!' he thought, snapping his eyes open.

Vegeta burst through the rift, only to come face-to-face with a ball of electric-blue ki. Realizing his mistake, he retreated through the same rift just as Kakarott released it, changing his destination to a point on the other side of the whole stadium. 'You've got a lot to learn, Kakarott,' he thought, 'I've been doing this a whole lot longer than you have!' Picking up speed, he ripped through just behind Goku and immediately readied his own small ki blast, silently cursing the fact that his technique wouldn't allow him to carry a charged attack like Goku's did.

The sound of buzzing energy, or perhaps his mere presence, was enough to alert his opponent, who phased out of existence. "Damn!" Vegeta cursed, waiting for his prey to reappear. Right on cue, Kakarott showed up...with his back to Vegeta. "Hey clown!" the Prince called, "Did you get turned around, or what? I'm over he—"

In the next instant, an enormous blast hit him squarely in the back, just as he perceived Kakarot vanishing again. Coughing in the residual smoke, he whirled around to see the younger Saiyan gleefully snickering.

"You fell for it! Man, I can't believe that worked!" Goku laughed.

"A...a decoy?!" Vegeta couldn't believe Kakarot had that kind of strategic sense in him. "You used yourself as bait, diverting my attention so I'd drop my guard to taunt you, and then you blindsided me." He chuckled. "Not bad, Kakarott. But it won't happen again."

"Yeah well, maybe you shouldn't waste your energy calling me a clown?" Goku teased, as Vegeta's face twisted into an angered expression.

"I will call you whatever epithet you're deserving of," Vegeta said almost calmly, stepping to the side and through another Rift.

'Oh boy, now he's mad,' Goku thought. 'But hey, maybe I can win if he lets his anger cloud his judgement.' Truth be told, he'd known all along that Vegeta had the advantage in strength, speed, and with his Rifting, evasion. About the only thing Goku had on his side was his reach, but Vegeta was solidly built, and too stubborn to back down after a few good hits.

The golden Prince rifted around the arena, flashing into sight only briefly as he kicked off of the planetoids above and the ring below, building speed. So far, Kakarott had failed to notice, or didn't realize what he was doing. 'Good,' Vegeta thought. 'He's not the only one who has some tricks up his sleeve.'

Hopefully, he'd managed to effectively fool the notoriously perceptive Saiyan with his little show just now—far from actually being incensed, it was an act, to make it appear as though he'd fallen to the low-class' taunts. Coming out of the Rift, a ball of ki zoomed past his nose, barely missing him. 'Looks like he's on the offensive again, finally.' He sped up, careful to vault over the pot-shots Kakarott was hurling at him without losing too much momentum. In between, he fired a few small blasts of his own to nullify some of the ones heading for him.

Switching the direction of his Rifting, he miscalculated his timing, holding a ball of ki in his hand and failing to release it as he entered the next Rift. 'Damnit, clumsy oaf!' he roared at himself, coming back through, his hand empty, though still poised to cradle the ki ball. Growling in minor frustration, he reset his pace, continuing to simultaneously speed through Rifts and defend.

'Huh?' Goku thought. 'He was using his own ki to deflect my attacks, but then, when he should've fired one, it looked like he lost it.' Seeing the older Saiyan exit the rift empty handed, when he knew he'd had a blast going in, was something of a relief. After all, Vegeta made mistakes just like any other fighter.

'Wait a minute...that's it!' he thought triumphantly, having deciphered one of the Rifting technique's limitations. 'He can't charge attacks and take them through like I can. Score one for Instant Transmission!'

Goku maintained his flurry of low-level energy blasts, aimed directly at his nimbly-dodging opponent, but his right hand was steadily charging a one-handed Kamehameha. Though he couldn't build up quite as much energy as in the two-handed variety, it was still a substantial charge.

As Vegeta continued to alternately dodge and deflect Goku's cloud of golden blasts, the younger Saiyan concentrated his fire right out in front of the other's path and then transmitted only a few feet further out. As the prince emerged from the cloud, his aura blazing brightly, Goku launched the one-handed Kamehameha at full force.

The hero of Earth had expected the prince to either dodge or rift out of the way, and he had a planned response for either. Instead, Vegeta did both: flinging his body horizontally and then disappearing. Goku barely had time to sense Vegeta's energy and spin around before he saw his own attack emerging from the rift next to the prince.

PHOOM!

Having never before felt the impact of one of his own Kamehamehas at point-blank range, Goku was momentarily stunned. The force bowled him head over heels, causing his ears to ring and his whole body to tremble from shock. The blast engulfed several of the few remaining planetoids at once, casting starlike shine across the space room.

Goku released a minor explosion wave around himself, clearing the air, only to see a rift open up right in front of him before Vegeta's elbow smashed into his chest with devastating force. Goku gasped, trying to catch his breath, but Vegeta rifted once more to instantly change direction and smash into him again, not an ounce of momentum wasted. The younger Saiyan could do almost nothing to shield himself as Vegeta's melee attacks pummeled him from every side thanks to the continual rifting.

Beginning to grow desperate and aching from the onslaught, Goku started to Instant Transmit out of danger, but paused. Vegeta had decried his use of IT as a defensive measure; surely the older Saiyan would simply press his advantage and follow up using the rifting ability. Instead, Goku went on the offensive.

"SUPER SOLAR STORM!"

At the level of Ascended Saiyan, the solar flare was much more than just a flash of bright light. Goku had instinctively focused and aligned his aura so that the wave of light shot out directly at Vegeta like a laser. The prince closed his eyes, but it made no difference; the photons passed straight through his body and seared every nerve at once like a bolt of lightning. Suddenly incapacitated, Vegeta lost control of his rifting chain and tumbled straight into a double fist from his opponent.

The pair of Saiyans dropped back to the surface of the ring, both panting heavily. Half of Goku's chest was now fully exposed as his ripped blue undershirt revealed it heaving up and down. Vegeta's armor was scorched all over, but still intact as the prince took in gulps of air at a time. Both could see the exhaustion in the other's eyes, both realizing that the fight would soon be drawing to a conclusion. Yet the rush, the excitement of fighting one another, seemed enough to sustain them indefinitely.

'Come on, Kakarott,' Vegeta thought, 'let's finally settle this.'

Goku's breathing finally began to slow, the burning pain filling his muscles and the aching from every bruise beginning to lessen slightly. He inwardly thanked his Saiyan anatomy as a cool breeze from the stadium whipped lightly across his face. Never before had he felt such elation from a fight. Just as the Earth-raised Saiyan was about to resume his attacks, he paused, noting that Vegeta's heavy breathing hadn't quite subsided.

'Huh,' he thought, hesitating and using the extra second to recuperate even further. 'Vegeta must be even more tired than I am.' A moment later, though, the prince charged him once again, leaving Goku to assume it was nothing.

Goku reached up just in time to catch his rival's punch, his palm stinging upon impact. The prince quickly tried to sweep his footing, but the hero hopped just above the kick, jabbing Vegeta in the right shoulder and following it with a knee to the jaw. Pushing his foe backwards, Goku began pressing his advantage even further, landing blow after blow to Vegeta's torso—until the prince was forced to retreat upwards into the air for respite.

'The hell is going on!?' Vegeta grumbled inwardly, clenching his right fist tightly in anger. 'I'm...my strength...no! It can't wane, not here, not now!'

In full denial, Vegeta charged once again, gritting his teeth in anger. So long as he focused on Kakarott's loathsome face, he could always find the drive to push on. His first strike struck Goku square in the cheek, but somehow his next fell to empty air—as did each blow after. As the insufferable Kakarott dodged from side to side, watching his punches fly vainly past him, Vegeta could only press the attack with every ounce of willpower he had. It was his full strength, the same speed he'd used to dominate his opponent throughout this entire fight. And yet, suddenly, it wasn't enough. In fact, it seemed to be dropping lower by the second, as if there were a gulf between the two fighters that had appeared out of nowhere.

"No!" he screamed, panting heavily as Goku hopped freely away from his last punch. "GAAHH! What's wrong with my body!?" He didn't understand, it didn't make sense! "I'm certain I had more power than you, Kakarott! Throughout this entire fight, I've held the advantage, and I know you've taken more damage than me!"

Looking across from him, unsure quite how to react, Goku could only ponder the facts. While normally such an outburst would be nothing more than Vegeta's pride talking, this time it was true. Vegeta had maintained an advantage in strength and damage throughout the fight; his greater time and experience with the second level of Super Saiyan made that inevitable. It made no sense that his endurance would falter now, just as things were drawing to a close. Goku knew that if it were a matter of pushing himself, nobody was second to Vegeta's grit and determination. 'So why is he falling behind now?' he wondered.

Vegeta charged him again, his eyes now set with desperation—his pride on the line. Goku flared out his golden aura and stopped the attack with two swift blocks before pushing his rival back with a kiai from his left hand. This was going nowhere fast.

"Damn it!" Vegeta yelled, looking at his own hands. He dared not blame Kakarott for this, not this time. Goku's strength seemed to be hovering right around the level it should've be at, it was his own that had plummeted for no apparent reason. But it was suddenly as if the Saiyan prince couldn't even focus on the fight at hand. Perhaps in his mind, his own victory had been a foregone conclusion from the start, but now that he was at a disadvantage in power, his brain began to race through memory after memory in a panic.

"No! Not again!" he yelled aloud, shutting his eyes—trying to block out the vision of Kakarott's Kaioken x4 Kamehameha overcoming his Galick Gun back on Earth. Like some kind of film, the memories continued, from Goku instructing Krillin to spare his life right onto the events of Namek. His Super Galick Flash was bearing down on Frieza, the tyrant screaming with all his might as he tried to stop it, but in vain. Then, just before it would've consumed the Frost Demon, Goku reached out a hand and caused it to prematurely detonate. The prince's perfect victory of vengeance had been stolen away, and the surviving Frieza would soon impale him with a sneak attack. The memories continued piling up, all his history with the low-class Saiyan, banging inside of his skull like a drum.

"Vegeta, are you alright?" Goku asked, unsure of what, if anything, he could do. "Listen to me, you need to snap out of it."

The other Saiyan slowly opened his eyes, regaining his focus and control of his emotions. He knew he wasn't the same person as he'd been all those years. It wasn't vengeance against Kakarott that he sought now—in fact, most of the other Saiyan's previous offenses seemed like nothing to him, once again in his right mind. The way Kakarott had surpassed him in power back on Earth and again on Namek, while certainly humiliating, was also what drove him to become stronger. Being shown mercy on Earth, being saved from the Ginyu Force by Goku, receiving help in the final battle against Frieza, those were the things that used to completely dominate his mind. His absolute hatred for Kakarott had been so deeply rooted in those same things, he had been consumed by the desire to rip the other Saiyan to shreds. Worst of all, it had always seemed like Goku didn't realize the insult in any of his actions. He was merely behaving as any good friend would, and expected Vegeta to see it as a kindness.

'But, I've let go of all of that!' Vegeta inwardly yelled. 'I've moved on, I don't care anymore!' he repeated, reassuring himself. 'So then why, when I need it most, has my own strength abandoned me!?'

'Ehem,' a voice in his head interrupted. 'Excuse the interruption, Vegeta, but I think I might have the answer to that.'

The Saiyan's eyes immediately turned down onto the lawn surrounding the ring, to King Kai. Arms behind his back, wearing a somber look, the blue-skinned god of the North opened his mouth to speak for all to hear.

"It seems you've finally discovered the limitations of your body," he began. "I should've suspected this."

"What? What are talking about, what limitations?" Vegeta grumbled. Meanwhile, Goku had begun to fit the pieces together.

"I'm talking about that flimsy reanimated corpse of yours, my boy," the Kai answered. "It's just not built for fighting the way an Otherworld body like Goku's is."

"Ah—! Of course!" Vegeta's eyes shot wide as he stared down at his hands and fingers. His blame now had an outlet, and it made perfect sense.

"Yeah, even during your fight, Goku's body began to heal itself, regaining his energy bit by bit, rejuvenating and becoming stronger. Yours, on the other hand, can't even properly recuperate—you're playing by a whole different set of rules than he is."

"Hmm," Goku grunted, signaling he'd deduced as much. "Sorry, Vegeta. I honestly didn't know, and I certainly didn't think it would play this much of a factor in our fight. If I had, I—"

"—Forget it, Kakarott, it's not your fault. You're not the one who spent half his life doing the bidding of Frieza, wiping out entire civilizations, and enjoying it to boot." Vegeta sighed.

"Yeah, well, that's not you anymore," Goku offered weakly, as if that would soften the blow.

"Not that it matters," Vegeta scoffed. "Seems I'm bound to this form no matter how much good I try to do." He lowered his eyes to the ground, dropping his hands and turning his head away from Goku. Like a sad flame flickering away into nothing, the golden aura of his Super Saiyan power died away. "Fine then, Kakarott, finish this fight so we can be done with it."

The tournament stadium was silent, all eyes turned to Goku in suspense. Was he going to claim his victory, or after fighting so hard to win would he choose a different path? For the Earth-raised Saiyan, there wasn't even a question. As he stared at the hardened Saiyan warrior in front of him, someone he was glad to now call a friend, he saw more than just a rival. He saw a leader, someone whom he could respect and trust. If ever he'd seen someone reform, truly change inside and out, this was it.

A sudden smile crossed his face. "There's no way I'd be satisfied with a victory now and you know it. In fact, when our roles were reversed, you yourself gave me the same answer back on Namek."

Vegeta turned his eyes sharply back up at Goku.

"Once we're back on Earth, alive and well, we'll just have to have round 2—or whatever round it would be, I'm not really sure. Until then, I'm just going to have to forfeit."

Somehow, this seemed the one solution everyone in the audience had all been thinking together at once. Upon hearing Goku's selfless decision, the crowds rose unanimously to their feet in mighty applause.

"Well don't act all surprised, Vegeta," Goku said with a smirk. "I don't believe for a second that you weren't expecting it."

"Hah," the prince finally smiled again, crossing his arms over his chest to indicate all was again well. "Of course it's no surprise. If there's one thing I can count on, it's that you'll always be a slave to your better nature."

"Yeah, well I don't see you complaining there, champion," his rival replied smugly.

"Tch!" he grunted, pausing a second before he could get the words out. "No, I'm no champion. I forfeit as well, Kakarott. If I'd truly wanted to defeat you, I should've knocked you out of the ring when I had the chance—in the end, my own enjoyment of our fight was my demise."

"That so?" Goku chuckled. "Noted. Next time I'll be sure to fight dirty then."

"What other way is there?" the other Saiyan laughed.

As he took center stage a final time, the mushroom-headed announcer wore a confused but energetic smile. "Well then, everyone, since our top two competitors have forfeited, I guess that means we don't have a champion. Sorry about that, folks. Anyway, though—"

"Wait wait wait," West Kai interrupted from below, complaining. "Excuse me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't this turn of events make Pikkon the champion?"

"Nah, West Kai," the Grand Kai replied cooly. Over in the corner, Pikkon could be seen trying to cover his face in embarrassment. "And to be honest, ole Westy, you might need to lay off the whole Pikkon business. People might start to think something weird."

The fight formally concluded, Goku and Vegeta stepped out of the ring. Vegeta spared a backwards glance at the destroyed, cracked ring of stone and tile, normally a symbol of his victory...but for now, it merely held the promise of an even greater fight. 'Next time, Kakarott,' the proud prince thought. 'Our fight won't simply be a big buildup, no. Next time there will be no excuses, no interruptions. And when that day comes, you'd better be ready—I plan to discover the upper limits of true Saiyan power,' he smirked both inwardly and outwardly, 'and exceed them.'

The day's match was still replaying in his mind, but he already knew so many things he had to work on. Whatever edge he had at the moment, he certainly wouldn't keep it if he didn't devote himself entirely to training and bettering his technique.

"I hope you'll be ready, Kakarott," he said out loud, voicing his thoughts. "Because when we're both on even ground, I plan to show you my true power, none of this reanimated, restricted-by-death bullshit. That remains my one condition..."

Goku laughed, flashing the shorter Saiyan a competitive smirk. "You bet! Name the time and place, I'll be there."

"See to it that you are, and that we're both alive," Vegeta sarcastically quipped.


Hello and greetings to you all! Thanks so much for reading the latest chapter, as always your support is very much appreciated. Today marks an extremely significant day for Bringer of Death. It's the story's two year anniversary! Hard to believe it's been a whole two years since I first published chapter one, and I'm so glad I've been able to continue telling this great story. This chapter was incredibly fun to imagine. Goku vs Vegeta has always felt like the true essence of DBZ, and it's the type of ongoing struggle that never truly ends. It's something we all kind of wish we had, that friend to always push us, who appreciates what we do like no one else. Of course, writing a Goku vs Vegeta fight is something I took incredibly seriously. A fight of that much importance needed to be grand in every regard, and I truly hope that this chapter met your expectation.

Regarding Vegeta's Otherworld body, I'm sure several questions remain. Not sure how clear I can be on all of them, but ask away and I'll do my best.

I also couldn't have gotten this chapter done without the help of Ryu no Ohi, who deserves much thanks for her editing and additions. Super Vegetarott also pitched in for a few places, which I must acknowledge and thank him for. Also, if you have a specific question that you'd like to discuss, you can frequent the dbmfanchat on chatango. I'm on there occasionally, and will be glad to give what answers I can.

Q: I can't wait for that original BoD villain to appear. Will he be appearing soon, or is that still pretty far away?
A: Not far away, no. I can't reveal too much, though, or I'd spoil some of the fun.

Q: Do you pull your end of chapter questions from the reviews themselves I'm assuming? And also do you still read reviews/questions from past chapters?
A:
I read all the reviews, yes. Usually, questions from the new chapter are taken directly from reviews I got about the previous chapters. Occasionally I'll answer a review from a previous chapter, but this is less common

Q: IIRC correctly though wasn't Maraikoh a fighter for the bigger Kai and not West Kai?
A:
No, he's another confirmed fighter from the West Quadrant. You can look it up if you like.

Q: When super Buu had the fat Buu taken out of him, and reverted back to kid Buu, the fat Buu still had Grand Supreme Kai and Southern Supreme Kai in him right? So, if you took them out of fat Buu, would there be another kid buu?
A:
This has been explained in several different ways; I'll list a few of them. Dragonball Multiverse deals with this by saying that eventually Buu's system completely absorbs someone, making the transfer of power permanent. The pods also disappear, as does any trace of their body inside. They can, however, still be sensed as a part of Buu. This is why the Di-Kaioh and South Kaioshin would technically be a part of Good Buu forever now. So that's one theory, one possibility that I consider viable. Another is that the form Super Buu reverted through, Buff Buu, on his way to becoming Kid Buu, indicates that South Kaioshin's essence was retained, at least in part, by Super Buu as well. If that's the case, then perhaps there was some kind of instinct-reflex within him that caused a sort of reset, which is why he went back to being Kid Buu.

Q: So who is the strongest of the Super Saiyan 2s (Goku, Vegeta, or Gohan) based on power level? Also, what is Grand Kai's power level?
A: Currently, Gohan is the strongest, followed by Vegeta and then Goku. Grand Kai's power level has always been a bit of a mystery, but the fact he was made nervous by a mere SSj Goku and Pikkon implies that he's certainly not too far above them, even at his max or when he was in his prime.

Q: Did you say in a review that there's probably going to be a villain created from the destruction of Cell's soul? Would this be Jenemba or an entirely new BOD exclusive villain that fills a role similar to Jenemba?
A:
We will introduce a new villain, but how and when they'll appear can't be revealed yet. Cell's soul won't be a key ingredient in any deus ex machina.

Q: This is a random question but from other anime's/fictional stories who are some characters at the top of your head that are equal in power to Raditz?
A: That's an intriguing question, one I'm sure some people could debate without end. First you'd have to list Raditz' feats to know what he's capable of. He thumped a bullet with enough force to knock over a farming truck. His speed easily breaks the sound barrier through flight, he's durable enough to tank most normal damage (including Piccolo's Masenko), and while he's probably not a planet buster he's most definitely a city/mountain buster, if not a continent buster. That alone puts him in a tier above most other anime characters. Barring special instant death spells that he'd have no control over, that would make him pretty tough. Now, I can think of plenty of attacks and techniques that would stall him, mental powers and the such, but I won't list them all as they still couldn't finish the job. As far as anime other than DBZ for comparison, I'm most familiar with the Naruto universe. The Mangekyo Sharingan might hold Raditz off for a while if he could be caught by it, but how long could he be contained? As Raditz survived a Masenko, I imagine he could easily tank any variant of the Rasengan. The Rasenshuriken might or might not do anything, depending on how it can disrupt his ki, but my guess is that Naruto wouldn't be able to even hit him with it unless Raditz were caught in a full nelson. Raditz is accustomed to wiping out all life on planets, and it's reasonable to assume he's gone up against foes near or equal him in strength. In conclusion, there's not many foes outside DBZ that would be in his level that I can really think of. If you're thinking that sword wielding characters might have a chance against him, even if they have a magic or enhanced blade, he's just way too fast to be struck. Even Kid Goku had an axe shattered against his head too, so they might be ineffective. This is not even mentioning what he'd do under a full moon. I think even Raditz would stomp in most anime worlds.

Q: In chapter 81, you said some saiyans were reincarnated. What do you mean by that?
A:
Souls sent to hell are usually given a period of punishment, but aren't stuck there eternally. Eventually, once serving their years, they are reincarnated into the living world by Yemma. Some of the Saiyans had less than twenty or so years in Hell before they were reincarnated, which is why they weren't there.

Q: If a villain was immortal, wouldn't it be impossible for them to enter otherworld? Or is the soul only bound to it's person? Like, if Frieza became immortal, and Vegeta tried to completely destroy him with a Galick Gun, would his soul stay around until his body reanimated, or would it be stuck in the living world?
A:
This is what happened to Garlic Jr. He couldn't die, but neither could his body reform after being completely vanquished. It's not that a living soul can't enter Otherworld via teleportation, though, it just has to do with their soul being blocked from dying.

Q: Are you watching Attack on Titan on Toonami? It comes on a 11:30 EST.
A: Yep! So far, it's pretty great.

Q: Do you plan on seeing either Amazing Spider Man 2 or Godzilla? What are your thoughts on either movie?
A:
Saw both. Loved ASM2 so much! Incredible soundtrack, great script, great acting, great story. Godzilla was, well, a guy film. It took too long for them to get to the fighting for my taste, but it was still awesome to see the big guy fight.

Q: When the aliens were talking (Thurg and Lug I think) they said Zarbon had been calling someone named Chuck. Is that a teamfourstar reference?
A:
Indeed it was.

Q: Why do you not use the Super Saiyan multipliers that were defined by Akira Toriyama?
A:
Essentially, because they never gave a satisfactory and consistent explanation. Fan theories like ours may not always line up with what the daizenshuu says, but that itself was NOT written by Toriyama. In fact, to be honest, even if he did come out with any kind of official statement for them it would still not fix the problems that a multiplier model has. Our model attempts to have a consistent explanation that works in every fight example we have in DBZ, one that we can use as a basis for our story. By telling our story and showing how the power level of a Saiyan changes and grows, we can give a much more thorough demonstration of our system than simply listing random numbers. Also, we avoid so many of the problems that massive multiplication has, something I'm really grateful for. If there's anything about our model you don't understand, make sure you look back through the explanations given in previous chapters—we've accounted for everything except SSj3 and above so far.