Bah, humbug…

Hi everyone, first off my apologies that this is out much later than I wanted. I had intended for this chapter to be published Christmas Day. I was visiting my dad for winter break and long story short he got some new Internet provider that sucks… More on that in my blog.

I made it back home and then the year just got off to a terrible start. A lot of drama. I don't want to bore you guys with all that crap so suffice to say that I apologize that this didn't make it out on when I intended, but I hope you all still enjoy it. It's good and long and we have plenty of action and drama ahead!

Chapter 5: A Future With or Without You

A chime echoed throughout the factory below North City before the intercom system announced, "Attention all employees… This is Woodrow Durel…" There was a long pause before he continued, "Due to unforeseeable circumstances… the factory is closing for the day. Everyone is to leave the premises immediately. That is all."

The employees all looked from one to another in shock. With a hop to their step some immediately left their station to return home to spend the remainder of the day with their family. Some grumbled as they tossed their tools into their boxes wondering why they bothered coming in at all on Winter's Day. Others pondered the unusual happening and couldn't help but feel something ominous looming just over the horizon.

Icival stood atop a tall bell tower looking over the city. His eyes narrowed as he watched the people coming up from the factory, leaving early for the day. Behind him, a slight displacement of color in the air sifted into existence almost silently.

Without turning around Icivial crossed his arms, "So you survived."

"Sorry to keep you waiting," Gohan grinned as he stood straight and watched Icival carefully with a confident grin.

"Interesting," Icival thought to himself, "Exceptionally powerful warriors have all fallen taking light of our absolute zero technology, and yet such a short time later you are here and facing me again. Does a human child like yourself really have an affiliation with the Sovereign Guardianship?"

"Team Serius Prime," Gohan stated proudly.

Icival turned around and looked Gohan up and down, "No halo? Curiouser and curiouser… A living body should have had an even harder time surviving the freeze than a dead one."

"I'm special that way," Something odd was pinging in Gohan's senses by this point and he began to lower his stance.

"Well then, this should be somewhat entertaining!" Icival snapped his fingers as three figures flew past the roof from below with similar ice rays pointing at Gohan and firing instantly.

Shields of energy formed in Gohan's hands which he used to deflect the blasts, "That won't get me a second time!"

The three aliens landed on the roof and with Icival surrounded the boy. The new aliens were the same three Gohan had seen on the other side of the rift. They wore light blue armor that matched Icival's own color pallet. Laughter echoed as they leered at Gohan feeling they had him sufficiently outnumbered.

Gohan scratched his head as he looked from one alien to another, "No way… Piccolo was right, these guys always have funky gimmicks…" Gohan turned and pointed to the one behind him with smooth grey skin and long bright blue hair, "The… ummm… pretty one?"

"Why thank you young chap," the alien brushed his bangs from his face as Gohan shivered.

Quickly looking to his left Gohan saw a short orange alien with huge black insect kaleidoscope like eyes, "The weird one with the freaky powers?"

It perked up excitedly, "I shape shift into weapons and tentacles to pulverize people!"

"Great," Finally Gohan looked to his right at a behemoth alien with thick green fur and mammoth like tusks, "And you would be the big tough dumb one?"

The creature's eyes widened angrily and in a slow heavy voice said, "Hey! ...You take that ba…"

Gohan appeared in front of the giant alien, "No," he dropped to the ground quickly before pushing off with his hands and kicking the alien under the chin sending him flying high into the sky.

Recovering from the kick, the behemoth fighter opened his eyes in time for Gohan's fist to collide with his jaw. His two friends flew up quickly to his aid as Gohan clipped him behind the neck and he fell.

"Rado!" The little one yelled in shock.

"Don't let him catch you off guard Krypto!" The tall one tried to remain composed.

"Right Argo, I'm ready when you are!" The little one buzzed and a strange ripple passed through his body.

"Resonance time!" Argo commanded as Krypto's body contorted into a scythe which Argo wielded over his head.

"That's actually kind of cool," Gohan complimented as Argo took a swing close enough to cut a few strands of Gohan's hair. Carrying the swing through, Argo came at Gohan again only this time Krypto had taken the shape of a long sword.

The attacks continued, and with each swipe Krypto was a different weapon striking in a different manner.

Gohan dodged back again and grinned, "You guys aren't half bad, makes me wish I had my sword with me today."

A loud roar approached from behind as Rado burst through the clouds, his thick green fur waving as he held his hand forward and his massive claws extended in Gohan's direction.

"Those'll work!" Gohan slid out of the way of Rado's attack and took hold of the beast's leg. With enough force to nearly rip the leg from Rado's body, Gohan swung the behemoth around with the claw arm extended toward Argo and Krypto. Argo blocked the swing with Krypto's blade form but was obviously discouraged by the site of a small boy using his larger companion as a flailing weapon.

Argo began defending himself with Krypto as Gohan continued to slam Rado against them again and again. With every hit he was being pushed back and realization began to set in, "He's strong…"

Argo attempted to close the gap between them and strike at Gohan, but with Rado's claws extended and the sheer mass of his body in the way it was proving impossible. Every time Argo moved in to strike, Rado's screaming form was all he could hit; even with Krypto morphing into his most long-range forms.

"We've no choice, Krypto, maximum!" Argo held Krypto up his sword form and their ki's flared brightly as they began to merge their energy into a single attack. Krypto's sword form grew immensely in size, taking up a considerable portion of the sky and gave off a light that shown through the clouds, "Nothing can stand up to our SOUL CLEAVER!" Gohan stood his ground and watched as the attack came crashing down over him, never with the intention of striking him directly but to reach him through Rado instead.

"NOO! AHHHH!" Rado screamed as his body was disintegrated by the energy behind the attack. The sky exploded into blinding energy that shifted the clouds away from the epicenter of the strike.

After a moment the light faded and atmosphere began flooding back into the emptiness caused by the attack. Argo looked around for any signs of his opponent. There was nothing but the wafting sensation of air.

Krypto returned to his standard form and the two began to laugh, "See?! Even the Sovereign Guards are no match for us!"

An echoing voice boomed from all around them, "Why is it that bad guys never have a problem killing their own friends? I guess that's what makes you bad guys though huh?"

"Where is he?!" Krypto yelled.

"I don't know," Argo looked all around in an equal panic, "I can't sense him anywhere!"

Gohan's voice continued to echo, "This is your last chance to leave this realm. Go home…" Gohan's body regained visibility directly behind the two, "and live your lives in peace."

Argo turned around grabbing Krypto who immediately transformed into a great axe and swung at Gohan.

With his hand out, Gohan easily caught the hilt of Krypto's form before the blade was even close to him. Argo clenched his teeth, "Krypto, bind him now!"

The axe shape shifted again into a ball of cable like tentacles, which wrapped around Gohan's arm, moved behind his back and ensnared his other limbs before stretching Gohan out and holding him in a taut position.

Krypto's face formed over Gohan's shoulder, "Don't go thinking you're so great yet, we have plenty of other attacks that will destroy you all the same!"

Argo powered up and flew into Gohan with his fist leading the way and aimed directly for Gohan's face, "If you're so worried about Rado, then say hello to him in the next world!" The strike was heard for miles and caused the ground below to shake.

Both Argo and Krypto clenched their teeth and smirked knowing Argo had landed a direct hit at full power. Looking down at his hand, Argo finally noticed that Gohan was still staring at him around the fist in his cheek looking exceptionally uninterested.

"What… the…" Argo removed his hand and noticed he hadn't even left a mark on the boy. Panic began to spread as Argo realized he was up against far more than he bargained for.

A grin was all the warning the aliens received as a barrier of energy formed around them. Argo turned and attacked the strange prison out of reflex however his blows were deflected off its surface as if he were a weakling punching at a cement pillar.

Noticing his companion's failed attempts at breaking through the barrier, Krypto channeled his energy out through his tendrils to shock Gohan into submission, "Let us out now if you know what's good for you!" but even that seemed to have little effect.

A strange light was emitted from Gohan's body. Krypto hadn't even the chance to let go of Gohan as the spherical shield was filled with an amazing light and the sound of an immense explosion reverberated through the city far below. The sphere remained alit as a micro sun for a few seconds before immediately fading back into Gohan's body.

Gohan remained floating alone in the shield almost anticlimactically. He allowed the shield energy fade away and ashes blew off from within it. His gaze fell to Icival next who remained with a stoic expression though it was obviously he glaring daggers at him.

Bit thought he had heard some noise coming from the basement. He followed the sound downstairs and through the destroyed bookshelf door and found his father sitting in a Victorian chair; a music box set on the table beside him played a tune so very softly.

Knowing his son had just entered the room, Mister Durel stood, "Did I ever tell you you're a lot like her?"

"Not really…" Bit replied with his eyes downcast.

Mister Durel began to walk around the room, his finger slid across the rims of his wife's old books and possessions, "You have her hair… and eyes…" He picked up a photo of the three of them together looking happy and stared at it for a moment, "Not only that, but it's amazing how many other little personality quirks you two share. You have the same 'live free, do anything' attitude. You're both exceptionally stubborn when it comes to doing what I say."

Bit felt confused seeing this side of his father, "Dad, why are you…"

Cutting off his son was nothing new to him, but Woodrow put his hand up and gently shook his head, "I haven't been a good father to you Phillip. I don't think I ever was." The whole room shook slightly as a strange clash sound echoed through the air, "I always put my work and my career ahead of my family."

A few more strikes somewhere high above caused the room to shake again, "Is that…"

"Your friend is incredibly strong to have survived that freeze," more rumbles caused books and items to shift on their shelves, "And I really am thankful that he was there because if he wasn't then… I would have surely lost you… too…"

"Dad, why are you…?" Bit was sure he'd never seen his dad like this, at least not in many long years. It was enough to make him not worry about the vibrations coming through the ceiling for the moment.

Mister Durel put his hands on Bit's shoulders and looked into his son's face intently, "I… I'm… You know this is hard for someone like me to say… but… I'm so sorry… so, so sorry, for everything. I've only now realized that life has been hard on both of us… and it's my fault it's that way."

"…I don't understand," Bit was feeling emotional himself watching his father speak, though he wasn't sure why.

Woodrow shook his head, "And there's no reason you should, just…" the man shook his head to clear his thoughts, "I'm going to stop this for good, so don't worry. I want you to take Carol and try and find someplace safe. Stay away from the factory and hide. It will all be over soon."

Bit continued to stare with his mouth hanging open without moving or saying anything.

In his frustrated manner, Mister Durel pushed his son away, "I said get moving! Now!"

Bit slowly backed up and then ran from the room.

"Good boy…" Mister Durel turned and entered the factory.

Gohan braced himself as Icival hurdled toward him like a missile. Icival's smooth cranium impacted Gohan in the stomach and swept him along in the force for nearly a mile. Once Gohan pushed himself off the attack Icival continued throwing punches, hooking the small guardian from the left and right.

With a flip in the air, Icival's foot began to glow before he kicked Gohan squarely in the stomach and sent him flying off another mile, "What's this? You seem surprised to be up against someone so much stronger than his henchmen, I would have thought you would have saved more of your energy for the main EVENT!" Icival punctuated the last word by firing a huge energy beam, which caught Gohan before he recovered and swept him along the glowing trail.

The beam dissipated and Icival caught Gohan by the back of his collar, "How pathetic, this isn't even any fun!"

Gohan opened an eye and glared at Icival silently.

"Just a weak earth child after all!" Icival tossed Gohan and escalated his motion with a shockwave of his ki.

Gohan tumbled toward a mountain at speeds enough to make a cratering impact. With but a foot before contact, Gohan came to a sudden and immediate stop. He stood upright and stared plainly at Icival.

Icival halted his pursuit as well finding himself skeptical as to what was happening. Gohan made no gesture, spoke no words, yet he didn't appear to be terribly wounded or even winded yet for that matter, "What is this? Don't even think to try and capture me in one of your tricks, I can guarantee you my power will blow through whatever trap you have in store!"

Gohan touched down at the mountain peak, "No tricks," A long golden bolt of static streamed across the mountain's rocky surface, "I just needed a little more space to use more of my power." Immediately more sparks of energy began filling the mountain range.

Icival grit his teeth and looked around. He realized now that they were a good distance away from North City, "Sentimental dope, fine, spare the lives of low class fools, it won't sway the outcome of this fight! Your power still can't possibly compare to mine!"

"You have no idea…" Gohan's hair began to spike wildly as it blinked between black and gold, "what you've gotten yourself into…"

The world around Icival darkened for a moment and became deathly silent. In the next moment a golden light erupted from the mountain like a volcano. All other sound was overcome by a great shout and the rumble of the earth below.

Icival lowered his arms, which he had reflexively shielded his face with, "A transformation?!"

Gohan stood atop the peak still staring through Icival. Icival blinked and upon opening his eyes saw only Gohan's fist as it impacted his face. The ripple through the air cracked like thunder as Icival was thrown up into the sky by the force of the blow.

"AHHH!" Icival gripped his bleeding nose and winced as he regained control of his momentum. Gohan appeared in front of him again and in an angry rush Icival began throwing punches. His right fist, then left, then his left foot kicked out followed by another left punch. As an oncoming strike was millimeters from making contact, Gohan would effortlessly weave his body out of the way, leaving Icival shadow boxing with the air.

"I've got you on the run, you can't dodge forever!" Icival's tone of voice was somewhere between exasperation and madness.

Another right punch was thrown which Gohan caught in his own right hand with both his arms crossed in front of him. Icival looked down at his captured hand in time for Gohan to swing out the back of his left fist across his face. A tooth had to have flown out of his mouth as Icival was jerked back in the other direction and hurled at the mountainside. Unable to stop himself, Icival made a cratering impact.

Icival coughed out blood and another tooth as he pushed himself to his feet and wiped the dust from his face. A loud pop to the side indicated Gohan as near again, "Your power is draining, you can't keep fighting me like this."

"Cocky brat!" Icival blood spat again.

"If you give up now it's not too late, you can go before the Sovereign Kai and take a penance for your actions. There's no need to make this worse than it already is," Gohan offered.

"Penance?! You…" Icival stopped and began taking in deep breaths. He closed his eyes and calmed himself, "You're right, I suppose it isn't too late…" Gohan watched Icival intently as he appeared to power down.

Gohan scratched his head, it wasn't often someone actually gave up.

Fully collected, Icival floated toward Gohan with his hands behind his back, "As it isn't too late yet, you should probably hurry up and get to saving them."

Gohan's gaze hardened again, "What are you talking about?"

Icival grinned, "Do you know the difference between a good Sovereign Guard and a great one?"

Gohan grunted, "What are you getting on about…?"

"A great Sovereign Guard will do whatever is necessary to accomplish his mission, they're willing to make any sacrifice necessary," Icival floated to Gohan's side, "Now, do you know why you'll never be a great Sovereign Guard?"

No words came from Gohan's mouth as he tried to analyze what Icival was up to.

"It's because you'll always save them first," Icival tilted his head giving Gohan a clear view of North City as several explosions tore through the city streets.

Gohan's eyes widened in horror; he realized the explosion came from the factory that stretched under most of the city. He cursed under his breath, he had been ready to stop Icival from taking any physical action, but somehow Icival had activated a backup plan he must have placed long ago.

"Well?" Icival chuckled, "Get going then. Most humans don't take falling into a deep chasm too well."

Angered eyes turned away from the city and bored into Icival spirit. The boy spoke no words but Icival was obviously shaken by the gesture, "Well? What'll it be hero? Finish me, or save the poor town's folk?"

Gohan vanished from Icival's sight, "Thought so."

A popping sound ripped through the air as Gohan appeared over North City. The streets were torn open and buildings were starting to fall into the open factory pits. People were running and screaming, trying to get away from the collapsing structures. Gohan put two fingers to his head feeling out all the living energies around him and began rapidly teleporting to each one.

In less than a fraction of a second Gohan teleported to an individual, ghosted a touch over a shoulder or an arm, moved them instantly to a safe place, and then did the same for someone else. Far too quick for those he saved to even comprehend what was happening.

Keeping the momentum going, Gohan burst through the most stricken parts of town first and began working his way out, saving everyone caught in the path of destruction.

Icival walked through the observation hallways in the factory. Having been reinforced with stronger material they held through the explosions without a problem. He held a communicator to his ear, "The situation has become more complicated, I need it sent through immediately… Just charge it with energy from the dweller reserves and send it through… Good!" He put the communicator away and descended the stairs to the rift generator.

As he entered the rift flared open and he began making adjustments. The color of the vortex deepened and a large metallic crate came through.

"My apologies guardian… but with this you stand no chance against me," Icival laughed morbidly to himself.

"ICIVAL!" the alien was torn from his glee by the voice of an approaching old man.

The alien stood up straight and smiled as the man approached, "Ah, Mister Durel, it appears as though production in your factory is being delayed, this is most unfortunate."

Ignoring Icival's words, Mister Durel continued to approach the alien, "You need to tell me what you know about freezing weapons right now!"

Feigning innocence, Icival cocked his head to the side and asked, "Whatever might you be implying?"

"DON'T PLAY GAMES WITH ME!" Mister Durel shouted angrily, "I saw the boy who was hit by it… it looked…" Mister Durel had to stop for a moment to swallow down his emotions, "It left a mark. The exact mark that was on Radia's torso when she was found… So answer me Icival! Did you kill my wife?!"

The room was silent as the two occupants stared at each other almost emotionlessly for a long moment. Icival finally cracked a smile and chuckled, "I remember your wife now, it has been a few years, my apologies." The alien began pacing around Woodrow, "Do you want to know something about her? You see she never did approve of our business cooperation. She had a variety of reasons all written out on an assortment letters, which it seemed she intended to give to you eventually. Our endeavor had proven to be incredibly lucrative for the both of us, do you really think it would have been better if we allowed her to interfere?"

Mistural Durel turned several shades of red before lashing out at Icival with his fist, "YOU BASTARD!"

Icival didn't even try to dodge. Woodrow's fist hit with all of his force backing it, but it wasn't enough to cause any noticeable flinch in Icival at all.

"Really now?" Icival couldn't contain his laughter, "Do you really think that you're at all capable of harming me with your pathetic strength? Come now, who do you take me for?"

Woodrow remained with his fist pressed against the alien, "You're right I suppose… I may not be very strong…" Woodrow pulled his fist back revealing a device he left glued to Icival's torso, "but you have no idea how powerful I am!"

Slightly bewildered, Icival stared at the device, "And what is that supposed to be?"

"An electro magnet," Woodrow stated calmly while taking a step back.

With another smirk Icival added, "And what do you think a magnet could possibly do to me?"

"Probably nothing," Woodrow took another step back, "but you may be interested in the fact that the super conductor on your rift machine is about to overload."

Icival turned to the rift generator as it gave off a huge spark. Woodrow jumped out of the way as the energy within the conduit burst free and lashed out like a tesla coil, and was attracted to the magnet on Icival's chest. A deafening crack of thunder like an explosion rang out through the room as a flash of light indicated contact from the energy followed by a wave of it as the circuit completed.

The light faded and Mister Durel slowly regained his senses. His ears were ringing and there were spots in his eyes, but he looked in the direction Icival had been standing and saw a hole in the wall nearby with a glowing outline.

The older man pushed himself off the floor to a prone position on one knee. He watched the wall for a moment as the glowing edge cooled. A ceiling tile fell and clattered to the floor.

Woodrow closed his eyes and sighed in relief. The room was beginning to glow brighter as the rift generator was still functioning, and the vortex within it was beginning to spin violently. Woodrow finally climbed to his feet and took a step closer to it when a moan caused his gaze to snap back towards the wall.

From behind the hole, a hand grabbed onto the remaining wall and Icival pulled himself from the rubble. Most of Icival's clothes were terribly charred, and a large burn wound was plainly visible on his chest.

Icival looked to the rift as its energy began to expand beyond the ring, "You fool! Do you have any idea what you've done?!"

The air pressure in the room increased as the rift energy reached the ceiling and continued to build. The excess force caused cracks to spread in the ceiling as the energy pushed upon it.

"That hyper portal is completely unstable now thanks to you! At this rate it will continue to grow and probably swallow your entire planet," Icival looked down to the man and smirked, "Not that I care about that anymore."

Icival turned to the crate, which had come through the rift before the overload. He activated a device on the top of it and immediately the hunk of metal began to glow and then reshape. It formed a sleek metallic suit of armor which adjusted to Icival's size and sealed around him.

Icival's face was still exposed through the suit as he turned to Woodrow, "Mister Durel, I regret to inform you that our business relationship is officially… terminated."

Energy collected in Icival's outstretched hand. It was only for a moment, as Icival knew not much energy was needed for this. The gathering energy bathed the room in light brighter than that of the escaping rift.

Without any action to take, Woodrow put his head down and closed his eyes, "Radia…" he whispered to himself ready for what was to come next. As his vision was blinded once again he felt impact, but not how he expected.

A force hit Woodrow from behind as the blast was released from Icival's hand. Woodrow turned as he was falling and saw a small silhouetted form had pushed him out of the way and was now caught in the blast itself.

Woodrow's mouth hung open in shock as the beam carried the form away from him into the wall. The man hit the ground as the light faded and the charred body slumped against the wall. Unable to find words, Woodrow crawled toward the limp form and reached out a shaking hand.

Outside of the factory, Gohan set down the last of the citizens caught in the wreckage when his senses caused him to realize something was off. A look of shock crossed his face as he stood by the people he'd saved, unable to move.

Carol put a hand to her mouth as she fell to her knees at the entrance to the rift lab.

Mister Durel pulled the charred form against him, "PHILLIP!" He finally cried out, "Please Kami no… Not Bit… Please not Bit too!" The tears flowed freely from the man's eyes as he clutched his son's body tight.

All around Gohan people were asking questions, but he couldn't acknowledge that any of them even existed at that moment. The only sound echoing through his head was his own breathing and heartbeat.

A scream tore through the clearing as Gohan burst into the air. High above everyone Gohan's hair spiked wildly and changed from black to an outrageous platinum as a tail grew from his spine. His ki erupted and in such proximity to the city caused every piece of glass and pottery for miles around to shatter into dusty shards. Buildings precariously balanced on their damaged foundations collapsed completely. People near buildings ducked for cover as every window around blew out from their frames.

Blinded by tears Gohan dove into the ground and tunneled a direct path to the underground bunker as if the stone and concrete between he and his destination were mere particles of air.

Icival had his hand pointed toward Woodrow again when his suit's sensors detected something a nanosecond before the wall to his side collapsed and he was tackled by a wave of pure rage.

Gohan's dive tore into icival and dragged the armor-clad alien into the unstable rift. Icival felt himself tumbling for what seemed like forever before sliding to a rough halt.

The extra dimensional tyrant pushed himself to his feet and looked around. Gohan was standing in front of him but he could see nothing else; they were surrounded by bleak emptiness, "What have you done?! The rift was unstable, it could have sent us anywhere!"

"No," Gohan shook his head, "It brought us exactly where you deserve to be," Gohan grit his teeth as the shroud lifted revealing the energy like waves of all the parallel dimensions flowing through infinity.

"So, this is the void, fine," Icival dropped into a battle stance, "but I'm ready for you this time you puny guardian! This battle armor has more than tripled my power! I'll crush you, have at…"

Before he could finish talking, Gohan's fist had engraved itself into his shoulder pad, easily twisting through the foreign metal. Without relenting, Gohan struck again, each contact rang out like a bell against Icival's armor.

Icival held his hand out and fired a much larger beam than he had used before against Gohan, but the boy canceled it out effortlessly.

Gohan shook his head and gripped his fists tight, "This is something that hasn't happened in a while… I'm angry… really angry… I'm not sure what I'm going to do to you now."

A startled look crossed Icival's face as he took a step back, "You… you're not scaring me! I know your type, you'd never…" The flow of energy around them began to change colors. The form of the universes began to glow brighter as if to match Gohan's aura as it grew in power.

Power gathered in Gohan's hand, "For what you've done," not enough power to destroy Icival, just enough for him to feel it, "I'm going to take my time and enjoy this..."

The ceiling to the bunker finally collapsed from all the stresses taken on by recent events. Instead of falling, all of the pieces were pulled into the expanding rift. At the surface the ground over the factory tore open and a tower of energy erupted from within, bolts of static struck out at grounded objects as it formed a massive swirling vortex. Everything in the city was now being blown toward it like a black hole.

Woodrow Durel hadn't moved. He remained in the corner of the bunker silently holding his son in his arms. Carol tried to approach them while holding on to the wall for support against the blowing force of the vortex. Loose debris from the factory was blown in from behind her and hit the back of her knees causing her to fall and slide toward the rift.

A shrill scream finally pulled Mister Durel from his reverie as he noticed Carol only feet away from the threshold of the rift and being pulled closer. Acting quickly, Woodrow jumped for Carol's hand and grabbed onto it. He pulled her back to the side of the lab where there were still heavy objects to brace against.

"What's happening?" Carol cried.

"The rift is out of control, it's devouring the entire city," Mister Durel looked around the room, noticing the vortex had already swallowed its own control panel and was still growing. He racked his brain for ideas on what might stop it. Though the energy was growing well beyond the size of the original portal, the gate was still in tact and glowing brightly on the ground, "The ring, that's what holds the connection through the rift open!"

"What can we do?" Carol tried to yell over the sound the electricity and air.

A fire kit was still hanging on the wall. Woodrow broke it open and removed an axe, "Hold on tight over here, I have to fix this," he shouted as he began to crawl his way back to the ring.

Woodrow stood and attempted to secure his footing beside the ring. He could feel the force of the pull threatening to pluck him right from the ground and take him through the rift. He leaned back with the axe and began to swing. The clang as the axe struck the ring echoed through the room. There was no effect so Woodrow swung again, and again, "Crack damn you! CRACK!"

The axe head eventually shattered and was pulled into the vortex, but Woodrow continued to swing with all his might. The vortex had grown to the size of a skyscraper and the force was intensifying. Cars were pulled toward it and more buildings began collapsing from the pressure.

"I said… CRAAAACK!" Woodrow hit the ring with everything he had left and left an indentation in the metallic surface. Woodrow watched the dent disdainfully for a moment when the force of the rift caused the ring to bend and contort at the indentation and finally it formed a crack. The power of the vortex pulled the ring into itself. Immediately the color of the rift changed and the energy halted its spinning motion. The vortex energy collapsed and everything in mid pull began to settle back to the ground.

Woodrow dropped what was left of the axe and returned to Bit's side. Carol had her hand on Bit's shoulder. As Woodrow kneeled beside them, Carol wrapped her arms around the man for comfort and they both continued to cry.

Another deafening clang echoed across the void as Gohan struck Icival again. A piece of armor guarding Icival's face shattered from its position. Icival wiped the blood from his lip before he kicked off and lunged at Gohan again.

Icival's knee bounced off of Gohan's face without leaving a mark. After rolling off, Icival turned and launched a volley of punches and kicks, all of which hit, none of which did anything.

Gohan caught the last punch and clamped his fist onto the gauntlet hard enough to crush through the armor with his fingers as if it were an empty can. Icival screamed as his fingers were broken under the collapsing metal. Not letting go of the gauntlet, Gohan kicked Icival away, tearing the arm of the suit off as the alien was tossed aside.

The arm that was ripped free from the armor was mangled and limp at Icival's side. The tyrant fell to his knees and clutched his arm. Gohan appeared over the butcher, daring him to try something else.

Icival put his good arm up in the air, "Alright, I give up, we can stop now, take me to your kai person… thing… so I can get my penance."

Gohan bared his teeth, his fist still shook with anger and hatred ready to strike out against this beast, "Sad, but that's not an option for you anymore. This time it stops with me."

Icival glared at Gohan and lowered his hand before he started chuckling to himself, "Really? And what are you going to do? Are you actually going to kill me? Ha!"

"That would be far too kind for someone like you…" Gohan pointed a finger at the armor and blasted it away in several key spots.

Icival had braced for the attack but noticed he was only singed where the beams tore by him, "What did you…?" Checking his armor, Icival realized the circuitry for moving and communication was completely destroyed. He had no way to call for help, and no one to know where he was.

"If we're done… then I'm leaving…" Gohan turned and began walking away.

"What? You're just going to go?" Icival pulled the destroyed armor from his body, "What are you intending to have done about me?"

Gohan's eyes narrowed as he looked back over his shoulder, "Absolutely nothing, so good luck proving your own existence, even to yourself, without anything around to validate you. Maybe in a few thousand years, long after you've completely lost your mind, someone else will come by and kill you out of pity. Until then enjoy the cold and the dark and the silence.

The view of the lucid dimensions was already darkening as the shroud enveloped them. Even Gohan who stood only a few feet in front of him seemed to be fading out of existence, "Wait, you can't just leave me here!" Everything around became completely black, "No! Wait! Come back! PLEEEAAASE!" By the end of his screams Icival's own body was completely hidden from him by the darkness.

The town had been quiet. No more explosions, no more freakishly powerful gusts of wind, no more towering light. People were slowly making their way back into town, avoiding the open pits where the factory roof had collapsed.

No one spoke as they trekked through the snow, their city looked destroyed – few buildings were standing, rubble and debris littered the landscape, it appeared as though a great war had been fought in this normally quiet town.

Many people were gathering in the town square where the main entrance to the factory had been. The people close by were startled when the door to the factory opened and Mister Durel walked out.

Some people shied away from the man, others became angry assuming he must have had something to do with the destruction, everyone remained silent however as they noticed the limp form draped in the man's arms. Carol clung to the man's arm as he led them safely out into the clearing.

Those who recognized Bit covered their mouths or looked away as Mister Durel set the body down. Mister Durel kneeled beside his son, tears still staining his face. Carol kneeled beside him, equally distraught.

Woodrow actually hugged Carol, "I'm sorry… I was such a terrible person. I never wanted to give you and Phillip a chance…"

Carol remained silent, clutching Bit's hand.

"I'M SORRY!" Mister Durel screamed to the sky through his sobs. The anger in the crowd dwindled as they watched the grieving father try and cope. "I've spent years, so many years, being a terrible foolish old man." His body shook with emotion as he stroked Bit's face, "How did I not see the value in the family I had left?" He held Carol tighter, "And in the lives of everyone around me as well?"

The door to the factory opened again as the raven-haired boy approached the group. Woodrow's eyes widened as he recognized the boy kneeling beside them.

Gohan put down his backpack and smiled sadly before taking hold of Woodrow's and Carol's hands, "I have something for you." Reaching into his backpack, Gohan set all seven of the Dragon Balls on the ground beside Bit's body, "If you really believe, then sometimes Winter's Day miracles do happen."

Everyone was confused, but no one interrupted whatever the boy was doing. Once all seven balls were in a pattern together on the ground they began to give off a pulsating glow. The sky immediately darkened as clouds moved in from every direction. Everyone stared in curiosity now as Gohan held hands with Woodrow and Carol again, "You need to wish. Wish with all of your heart and don't be afraid of what happens next."

Woodrow held Gohan's hand tight. The boy had done impossible things so far, he found himself compelled to believe, "I wish… I wish I had my son back with me, please, I need to tell him how much I do love him."

With a tight grip on Gohan, Carol added, "Please, I wish for Bit to not be dead, but to be with me again."

The glowing from the balls flashed brilliantly as bolts of radical light struck from the sky. A deep roar and rumble echoed through the ruined city as energy shot up from the seven balls forming the shape of the dragon.

The people observing all stepped back in shock, but something kept their gaze affixed on what was happening. The boy said not to be afraid, and for some reason the people wanted to believe in that.

In a booming voice the dragon spoke, "You who have summoned me to this realm, so shall your wish be granted." The dragon's eyes gave off a deep red glow. The same red began to envelope Bit's body like fire as energy crossed from one plane of existence to another.

The transfer of energy reached a crescendo and then the light faded. The burns on Bit's body were healed; he looked like his old self. Everyone stared expectantly for a moment until his face twitched and slowly his eyes opened. The crowd erupted into cheers as Woodrow, Carol, and Gohan all hugged Bit tightly.

"My boy!" Woodrow cried in happiness and disbelief, "I love you son."

From the sky above the dragon stated, "Your wish has been granted, state your second wish."

Bit looked over and saw the balls Gohan had been collecting and a tail above them, which led up to the face of the enormous dragon. His eyes widened in amazement as he took in the sight.

Gohan turned to Bit and Carol. He closed his eyes and smiled to himself before telling them, "This is the Eternal Dragon Shenron, nearly any wish you could ask for can be granted just by asking him right now. He has the power to grant one more wish; so if you wanted, Carol, he could give you sight or just about anything else you could think of."

Refusing to let go of Bit's hand, Carol laughed, "That would be silly, I don't need sight. Not being able to see like you is part of me, but it isn't all that I am. I can see without seeing." Her other hand moved to Bit's face and felt his features, "I can see all that I need to, I can see that he cares like this, and also in the way he always comes to hear me sing."

Bit's eyes widened and he blushed a deep red, "You knew? How come you didn't say anything?"

Carol laughed knowing exactly how Bit was reacting to her words, "It's because I was singing for you."

Gohan grinned, "You guys are so awesome, but in that case… you have a big decision to make."

Finally looking up at the dragon, Carol began, "I know my wish. Eternal Dragon Shenron, I wish you to fill our town with joy this Winter's Day. Let there be warm homes filled with good food, loving family, festive lights, and blissful music."

"So it shall be done!" The dragon's entire body began to give off a golden radiance. The same glow came over the entire city. Buildings were lifted from their rubble, the parts of the city collapsed into the factory were raised back to their rightful place, items which had blown away were put back where they belonged, the tattered clothes people wore were mended and made new, even that which had been sooted and soiled for years was now clean, freshly prepared food appeared on every table, warming fires lit and smoke gently wafted from the chimneys, and finally strings of lights seemed to descend from the sky and wrapped every home and building.

"Your wishes have been granted, so I bid thee farewell!" The dragon faded from the sky as the dragon balls floated up toward the heavens. In a final burst of light and sound the balls dispersed across the planet once again, leaving in their wake a sparkling stardust like snow which floated through the air.

As everyone gazed around their beautiful town in awe as an orchestra began gently playing in the background. Carol smiled as she recognized the tune and sang with the music.

"Beautiful… amazingly beautiful…" Admiring the singing and still ecstatic from the little "miracle", Woodrow shouted to the group, "Please come join us for Winter's Day Dinner, everyone!"

A large group took Mister Durel up on his offer. The mansion was alit with laughter and commotion as people joined together at the banquet tables for dinner, something they all thought would never happen only the day prior.

Gohan watched from the window as Woodrow carved one of the turkeys and offered slices to everyone around. Bit saw Gohan from the corner of his eye and ran outside to his friend, "Hey, aren't you going to join us?"

A huge smile covered Gohan's face, "On a day like today, I think I should actually go home and have dinner with my family."

"Well…" Bit looked down quietly for a moment before he lunged forward and tackled Gohan in a hug, "Thank you so much Gohan!"

Gohan smiled but didn't move as his arms were pinned to his sides, "You don't have to thank me for anything."

"Yes I do!" Bit loosened up and tried to look Gohan in the eye, "This has been the most amazing day of my life. My dad is being awesome, Carol and I can be friends without worrying about anything anymore, and everything around us is better than it has been in years. And it's all thanks to you! I didn't think I could ever be this happy on Winter's Day… and… my mom's happy for us too!"

Gohan hugged him back, "I'm really happy for you, you have no idea! And you guys showed me a lot too. So I mean to say… what are friends for?"

Bit stifled some sniffs as he let go and took a step back, "In one day you've become like the best friend I've ever had, so you need to come back and play soon, ok?"

"Yeah!" Gohan grinned as he floated up into the air.

Bit returned to the doorway where Carol was standing and they both waved, "Good bye Gohan, Happy Winter's Day!"

"Happy Winter's Day!" Gohan shouted joyfully as he flew over the city.

End Chapter

That's the longest chapter I've written in a long while. I didn't want to break it up into multiple chapters because there was really no point in suspense to this. I mean was there ever any doubt that Gohan would defeat Icival? I hope it was all still exciting and fun to read through. I know it was exciting to write.

So there's still an epilogue left. We'll see you then!