Ice littered the ground around a large vacuum-like machine. In front of the main nozzle were two statuettes, both former terrors of the universe but now nothing more than glorified ice sculptures. Periodically the ice would shake as either of the two occupants tried to free themselves from their prison. Up above them on a small outlook a lone watcher stood on guard against both the two below him and any escape attempts from the other denizens of Hell. Several hundred years ago a large breakout had occurred in this exact spot and because of that previous breach that area of Hell was vulnerable to a similar event happening. A namekian hovered on the outlook, silently meditating and keeping a steady lock on the ki signature of his old pupil. Piccolo wanted nothing more than to go out and see Gohan again but he didn't dare leave his post for if he did others were sure to come and try and escape, and if not escape then to free the two beings frozen below. Piccolo could feel them lurking at the edge of his senses, intangible spirits so long deceased that their bodies had faded away leaving only malice and hate behind. These were the beings that cultures throughout the universe referred to as ghosts or such other supernatural phenomena and Piccolo had seen what happened when one of these spirits inhabited a lesser being.
One of Yemma's ogres had been down here right after Goku had left so long ago, cleaning up the dishes left by the ever hungry saiyan. Piccolo had just finished beating down one of Babidi's minions when the shade had struck. With a scream and a puff of purple smoke the ogre had been transformed into a small obese childlike demon. The real danger wasn't its power level but in its ability to control the reality around it to a certain extent. Thankfully its range had only been a couple of meters but it was still enough to alarm Piccolo and cause him to take swift action against the creature, it had taken only one strike to finish it off. Unfortunately though Piccolo hadn't won as he had thought and the creature deformed in on itself creating a stronger more fighting efficient form. Gone was the small pudgy creature with holes running down its torso, its small horns and tail had grown in size and looked fully formed. The holes in its chest had completely disappeared and its happy disposition was gone, replaced by a muscular sadistic demon. However strength was relative, Piccolo estimated its strength was only around what he himself had peaked at when training for Vegeta and Nappa's arrival. An almost tenfold increase from what the ogre's original power had been. The creature's talent for breaking its own body apart had irritated Piccolo at first until he'd finally gotten fed up with it and vaporized it instantly. Thankfully the ogre had been left unharmed and only the shade had been destroyed, but it was a warning to Piccolo to not let any of the shades through. He shuddered to think of what might happen if multiple shades ended up inhabiting the same body. The effects of its reality manipulation alone could spell disaster for both the living and the dead, let alone the power it would wield.
And so Piccolo stayed by the weakened dimensional wall, standing guard until the end of time with nothing but his thoughts and fusees to keep him company.
Shifting rock and the sound of displaced air were the only physical indication of company but Piccolo already knew who had arrived before the noise had even reached his sensitive ears. The vast warm ocean of ki he sensed could only belong to one person. Straightening his feet out to touch the ground Piccolo stood to his full height and turned around, what he saw made him smile.
"Hey kid. It's nice to see you again," Piccolo said, "you look good."
Gohan laughed, "I thought you'd say that considering it's almost exactly the same as what you wear. Its been too long Piccolo."
"It sure has. So Vegeta got captured and you're going to go and free him huh? At least you have a plan, from what I've sensed these saiyans are no pushovers." Piccolo said, smiling as he took in his pupil's attire. The only thing that was different than his own was the strange pole strapped on his back and the lack of a turban. Piccolo didn't recall ever seeing it himself but memories from both Kami and his father came forth, informing him of the pole known only as the 'Power Pole.'
One of Gohan's eyebrows rose; it always amazed Piccolo that he could do that, all he could ever do was raise both of his own hairless brows. "How did you know that Piccolo?" Gohan asked.
Piccolo gestured to his ears, "These are for more than decoration Gohan, I can hear almost anything in the universe if I concentrate hard enough. One of the perks of being a Super Namek from what Nail's memories tell me."
Gohan laughed again, "Oh yeah I remember, you used to hate it whenever I whistled. But yeah from what Kodai told me these guys sound tough. I'm in no hurry to fight one of them, but I'll admit I'm interested to see just how strong they are."
Frowning Piccolo said, "Gohan don't let your father's influence cloud your judgement, Goku was a fighting genius but his love of battle put him in a couple of sticky situations. Remember that." Gohan opened his mouth but Piccolo cut him off. "And before you ask I think I can remember what your ki signature feels like. It's a combination of yours and Goku's, yours is dominant but I can feel whispers of his ki intertwined with yours."
"Oh, I didn't think it was that obvious."
"Only to those who look Gohan, I can read you like a book, always have been." Piccolo said, "So you've been training, have you reached the fourth level yet?"
Gohan shook his head, "No I haven't. Majuub isn't strong enough to stop me if I rage out of control and I don't want to accidentally destroy a planet. So, going to outer space is out of the question. But I'm plenty strong without it. I could take out most of the dragons single handedly. Only Omega Shenron would be stronger than me." Gohan said before smirking, "And you? Have you gotten stronger Piccolo?"
Piccolo returned Gohan's smirk with one of his own. Reaching up to his head he removed the heavy turban, his antenna springing up with the action, and then shrugged out of the mantle before dropping the two items.
"Why don't you tell me." Springing forward, Piccolo shot twin beams of ki out from his eyes. Powering up immediately after, Piccolo watched in what seemed to be slow motion as a surprised Gohan dodged the low powered attack. Glad to see that his student's reflexes were much sharper than they used to be, Piccolo brought his right fist back and drove it into Gohan's stomach. He felt resistance only for a moment before the momentum transferred and Gohan was sent flying backwards, spittle flying from his mouth. Gohan crashed into one of the nearby needle spires and brought it down crashing on top of him. Piccolo stood waiting, senses on the alert for the slightest shift in the air or Gohan's ki.
Piccolo didn't have to wait for long, a sharp increase and an intense flash of golden light was the signal that the fight was heating up. Gohan's ki dipped up and down and Piccolo could hear Gohan's ragged breaths and his heart beating faster and faster. A deep rumbling permeated the air at a frequency much lower than any human could hear and it took Piccolo a moment to realize that Gohan was growling. Either Gohan had changed in the many years he had been dead or Gohan was feeling Hell's effect. Another flash of gold broke Piccolo out of his musings and launched Gohan towards the namekian.
Seeing the wild look in Gohan's face as he neared confirmed the second option and Piccolo shook his head, with Gohan's anger issues this could definitely prove to be a problem later. The instant before Gohan reached his location Piccolo gathered his ki into his legs and with a mighty jump launched himself upwards into the sky, collecting ki into his throat the entire time. Gohan quickly adjusted and followed his master up into the sky, snarling all the while. Piccolo soon reached the apex of his jump and flipped forward, narrowly avoiding being speared by Gohan's outstretched arms. Now directly below Gohan, Piccolo opened his mouth and unleashed all the ki that he had collected. The energy came bursting out of his mouth in a single bullet the size of a large cannon ball, but packing infinitely more energy and speed. It struck Gohan and carried him up higher into the air towards the top of the cavern.
"This ends now!" Gohan yelled out and burst into the next level of Super Saiyan. His strength now surpassing Piccolo's, Gohan was easily able to stop his upward momentum and grabbed the ki ball straining against his stomach. Bringing his arm back Gohan threw it back down towards Piccolo who merely watched as his attack came speeding down at him. Straightening his left arm straight up, Piccolo merely waited for his attack to reach him. On contact with the dead namekian's skin, the ki was reabsorbed into Piccolo's body.
'Kami, Hell is messing with his mind much more than I thought. You were right that it wouldn't be wise to try and spar with him. Any ideas on how to end this before it gets even further out of hand?' Piccolo thought inwardly. Thankfully the mind of the old namekian was active today and he quickly received a response.
'Two of my dragonballs are embedded in his chest and synchronized with his soul. If you get close enough and touch them I can paralyze his ki using the dragonballs as a bridge. You need full contact with both for it to work though.' The old wizened voice of Kami replied.
"Oh I can get you close old man, just do your part." Piccolo said out loud as his ears picked up the deep rumbling from Gohan once more. The situation was spiralling out of control quickly and Piccolo might not get another chance to fix Gohan. And that chance was coming quickly as Gohan rapidly accelerated down to Piccolo, his mouth open in an O shape. If Piccolo had given any thought to Gohan's expression it definitely became known as an extremely high pitched noise filled the air. Gohan was doing something he had never done in Piccolo's presence since the evil namekian Slug had come to Earth, he was whistling.
'You abandoned me Piccolo. You had the chance to come with us when the Earth blew up but you turned it down. I have never forgiven you for that, and now you will pay with your afterlife.' Gohan said telepathically, still whistling. Piccolo's energy was dropping fast, the pain was too much for him to keep a steady grip on his power. Piccolo more felt than saw Gohan's landing in front of him, his vision a swarm of black dots that threatened to transcend into unconsciousness.
"You've forgotten something Gohan," Piccolo groaned out.
'And what would that be Piccolo?' Gohan mentally asked.
With a mixture smirk and snarl, Piccolo reached up to his head and ripped his ears off. Silencing his own scream of pain, he took some pleasure in the look of shock on Gohan's face before lunging forward and placing his hands on Gohan's chest, right where the dragonballs were located.
"I do what needs to be done!" he shouted. Faster than anyone could react, Piccolo felt a strange wave of energy flowing through his arms and into the dragonballs, and through them, Gohan's soul. The effect was instantaneous, Gohan's aura disappeared and his gold hair turned back to black. Gohan's attitude also changed as with a start he immediately backed away from Piccolo and started shaking all over. Kami's influence had severed the link to his ki temporarily and purified him simultaneously of Hell's damning effects. With the threat to his ears gone now, Piccolo quickly regenerated his ears just in time to hear Gohan's apology.
"I... I wanted to kill you Piccolo. I'm so sorry it just came over me." Gohan took a deep breath trying to steady himself but the minute he looked at Piccolo again he lost his composure and shook.
"It isn't your fault Gohan, Hell has that effect on people. It gets inside their heads and brings out the worst in them. It invents reasons for doing things, the Black Water Mist is a concentrated form of this effect. And we both remember what happened when Garlic unleashed that on the Earth," said Piccolo. "The key is to not let it control you."
"So how do I keep it under control then, everyone I've met seems to be fine, even you and you're not even supposed to be here!" Gohan asked, terrified of losing control again.
Piccolo walked over and placed a green hand on Gohan's shoulder, "Kid, I meditate everyday for hours. I've lived with my father's influence for years and resisted it. You are stronger than this, just don't fight or get angry. It makes it easier for it to seep in."
Gohan looked up at the taller namekian and nodded, "Thanks Piccolo, I'm sorry for what almost happened."
Piccolo gave his shoulder a squeeze, "It's fine kid. Nice to see you finally using that head of yours by the way. Against any other Namekian that would've worked."
"I'm not proud of that move Piccolo. I did it to get an easy kill." said Gohan.
"Even if you hadn't done that I wouldn't have lasted much longer against you. I've gotten stronger but not strong enough."
"Well I'm just amazed that you got as strong as you did Piccolo! You're strong enough to have given Majin Buu a run for his money."
"And you would have destroyed him with ease, don't try and coddle me with reassuring words. I know my limits and I'm proud of my strength. I can take care of most of the cretins down here."
"And do I qualify as a cretin, slug?" A voice rang out laced with scorn. Only Gohan jumped, with his connection to his ki severed all of his reflexes were dulled. And in Hell without protection that was as good as signing a death sentence.
"Hello again Raditz, are you back to try and fight me again?" Piccolo asked the hovering saiyan while crossing his arms, having sensed the man's approach he was not in the least surprised to see him.
"Not today green bean. I'm here for my nephew, but don't worry, your time will come. And when it does I will grind your skull underneath my boot and crush it like the insect you are." Raditz's tail lashed out behind him. Not many people could look the person who killed them in the face and not do something about it. Raditz had shown up here many times in an attempt to defeat Piccolo and prove that he was the stronger, so far it was all for naught.
Gohan looked up at his uncle and frowned, just when he thought of his uncle as something other than a complete monster he went around and did something like this.
"What do you want with me Raditz?" Gohan asked abruptly.
"Some of us want to say goodbye before you go off to rescue our beloved prince, so Nappa and I decided to throw a party in your honor. Green bean you're not invited, you get to stay here guarding your little hole and think like you always do."
Piccolo shifted his gaze over to Gohan but said nothing. Without access to his ki Gohan would be in trouble no matter where he went and Piccolo wasn't sure if he could trust Gohan's family to keep him safe. But then Gohan's ki flared into existence and was slowly but steadily climbing. It was small and Piccolo wasn't even sure that Gohan had noticed its return, but his body did. Piccolo could hear the muscles in Gohan's arms tightening and expanding, the rush of returning ki infusing each and every fiber. Gohan's heart pumped more energetically in response and so Gohan's skin darkened slightly as the blood flowed through his skin.
"What kind of party?" Gohan asked. In all the time he had known Vegeta the man had never been good at parties or any type of social gathering. If this was his chance of learning more about saiyan parties and thus saiyan culture he would take it. And considering how long it would take for him to die if he ever did, now was the perfect chance to satisfy his curiosity.
"One with plenty of fighting and good cheer! For what other kind of party is there in Hell?" Raditz exclaimed with a loud laugh.
"What do you think Picco- what the hell!" Gohan jerked back as one of the shades flitting around on the outskirts came soaring in directly towards him. The spirit had obviously chosen him as a suitable host and decided to try and bumrush Gohan while they were talking. Piccolo and Raditz lunged forward in an attempt to intercept it but it passed Raditz before he could reach it and flowed over Piccolo's chop like water. Piccolo's blood chilled and he screamed as he saw the shade get past Gohan's backhand and fly directly into his mouth.
"No Gohan!" Piccolo cried out as Gohan's body started to convulse as the shade and Gohan's conscious mind fought for dominance. Gohan's skin would bubble and inflate before returning back to normal as the spirit permeated Gohan's flesh, the skin steaming from the constant metamorphosing. It was inevitable that it would reach the dragonballs, and when it did it was spectacular. Gold radiant light surged out into the surrounding landscape from Gohan's chest and a loud wail issued from Gohan's mouth. The scream rose higher and higher in pitch until finally it was too high for even Piccolo's sensitive ears to hear. His mouth open wide, Gohan clutched at his head as his aura picked up in a massive flare up. White smoke came pouring out of Gohan's mouth in the same shape and consistency of the former shade and flew off. Piccolo watched the spirit carefully and was amazed when it passed through the cloud barrier and up into Heaven. His immense struggle over, Gohan pitched over and fell into the sweet soothing embrace of sleep.
"Okay that's it, I'm taking the boy and we are going to the party before any more of those... things show up." Raditz stuttered out. He wasn't stupid and he wasn't a coward; he knew why Piccolo stood guard here, but he had always doubted the validity of Piccolo's experience with the shades. After all when a tall green man tells you about possessive ghosts while he is grinding his foot into your back you don't believe them. Until now that is, with there no longer being any doubt he made a mental note to remember to tell his father about this. Hopefully his father would listen and several saiyans would be sent to help Piccolo in his vigil.
"Amazing." Was all Piccolo had to say, for an instant he was fearing for Gohan's very life, but then the impossible had happened. With a direct conduit to Gohan's soul the shade had tried to infiltrate it, but instead of it corrupting Gohan the reverse had happened. Having never before encountered a purely good spirit before it had been absolutely overwhelmed by Gohan's very being. Scrubbed cleaner than any of the essence cleaners that Yemma had in his employ the shade had gone from the purest evil to the purest good instantly, and with that change came access to heaven.
Seeing that Gohan was now incapable of flying Raditz walked over and gently hoisted his nephew up. Ignoring Piccolo, Raditz took to the skies to bring the guest of honor to his party.
"Ugh, that was a cheap shot," Nappa groaned after taking a moment to catch his breath. Raditz's punch caught him off-guard, and he was paying for it. Raditz had knocked the wind from his lungs, and it took Nappa a moment to breathe before he could begin complaining.
Gohan watched the scene unfold with a sense of discomfort and unease. It turned out that a saiyan party involved mostly fighting and drinking, and without access to any alcohol that left only the fighting. Thus a tournament was held, one that neither Gohan nor Kodai could participate in, and the fights had progressively gotten longer and more spectacular as the weaker fighters lost. To add to Gohan's discomfort was all the cheering saiyans. When saiyans fight or get excited it turns out they end up releasing massive amounts of pheromones, the more fighting there is, the more pheromones. The smell was getting to Gohan and his blood was pumping, try as he might he couldn't fight the urge to want to fight. Piccolo's warning soon was forgotten as he focused on the fight, breathing in deeply as he did.
Raditz almost sighed as his face scrunched up and he turned away from Gohan with a face that read 'give me a moment.' As soon as he squared up to Nappa, he immediately kicked his old friend in the face, and Nappa fell backward onto his back. "It wasn't a cheap shot," Raditz began as he walked over to Nappa's side while the bald man held his face now instead of his gut, "you just weren't paying attention." Raditz then stomped on Nappa's chest, leaving his foot on his comrade's abdomen. "You're pathetic."
Gohan already felt apprehensive around Raditz and Nappa, and with Raditz's display of cruelty something in him snapped. He suddenly felt small, like he was a child again, crying out for his father after Raditz had forcibly separated them. His fists clenched and Gohan heard what sounded like crashing waves in his ears. Piccolo's warning vanished, the crowd of saiyans vanished, all he could hear was the sound of his father crying out in pain.
"Nephew?" Raditz said with a curious look as he turned his gaze to Gohan. Pieces of rock floated up into the air around him as his energy began to spike and flicker wildly. Raditz had learned to sense ki since taking up residence in Hell, so he didn't need a scouter to know that his nephew was having a meltdown. He stepped away from Nappa and slowly took three steps toward Gohan. "Gohan—" Raditz began but was cut off.
Gohan said nothing as he planted his fist into Raditz's gut. The air rushed from his uncle's lungs, and Raditz could only stare at Gohan in shock. Gohan stared at his uncle with wild eyes before unleashing a barrage of punches. Raditz, still dazed from what was happening, took a few dozen hits to the body and face before he could blink. Realizing from both Gohan's dull gaze and his wildly erratic ki that reasoning with his nephew would be useless, Raditz decided to fight back. He dodged a left handed punch from Gohan and flew backward away from him. He had time to train over the last two centuries in Hell, and he'd made significant progress in his abilities. Raditz smirked to himself; this would certainly be interesting.
Before Raditz had a chance to launch a counterattack, Nappa collided with Gohan, his head slamming into Gohan's head. Gohan reeled and appeared disoriented for a moment, but he quickly recovered and went after Nappa. Gohan began with a hard knee to Nappa's gut, hitting him in the same spot that Raditz had just punched him in only moments earlier. The demi-saiyan followed up by grabbing the sides of Nappa's head in his hands, then slamming it down into his right knee. Even Raditz cringed watching that hit. Nappa's nose immediately started to bleed and his eyes watered in reaction to the broken nose he now owned.
Gohan quickly charged a ki blast in his right hand and fired on Nappa. Luckily for the dead saiyan warrior, Gohan hardly put anything into his attack. Nappa was hit but not dead; smoke rose from burns to his forearms and chest as he fell away and skidded across the broken rocky terrain. Raditz took the opportunity to step in again when Nappa was knocked away. He rushed at Gohan, throwing a flurry of punches, only for Gohan to block them all. Despite his clearly altered state of mind, he was still in control of a large enough portion of his power to put Raditz to shame.
Raditz stopped his attack and pushed away from Gohan. He quickly charged a ki blast in both hands and fired at his nephew, who promptly disappeared. With a moment to breathe, Raditz summoned up his power to push things to another level. He smirked to himself before he let out a scream, and with it a golden aura enveloped him. His eyes faded to a teal color as his hair shined that same gold as the ki that swirled around him. He'd become the legendary Super Saiyan while in Hell. He knew that his brother and nephew were masters of this form and others beyond it, but his chest still swelled with pride at his own accomplishment.
Gohan seemed just as dazed as ever when he appeared before Raditz and slammed his left palm up into his uncle's chin. Gohan then proceeded to throw punches at Raditz, aiming for whatever he could reach. Raditz took most of the hits, but was able to dodge several and block a few others. It definitely confirmed that Gohan wasn't in his right mind, because his moves were sloppy and he stuttered to an unknown staccato beat. His nephew's movement reminded Raditz of a serving bot who was malfunctioning, although the serving bot wouldn't be able to kick his ass. Lost in his thoughts Raditz didn't move fast enough to dodge Gohan's next strike, a fierce axe kick. The foot slammed down on top of Raditz's head and the maned saiyan saw stars. Sloppy yes, but also powerful.
Blinking away the tears Raditz allowed gravity to drag him down closer to the howling crowd. Out of all the assembled saiyans only Bardock thought anything was wrong, but it wasn't his fight so he watched and waited. The rest of the spectators cheered, more than happy to see a good, bloody fight. Raditz looked up at Gohan to see that his nephew floated in the air momentarily, as if he were thinking about something. Gohan's head fell back slightly, his mouth slightly agape as his dazed eyes gazed up. There was nothing to see there, but even from this distance Raditz could tell Gohan wasn't quite home at the moment. He knew his nephew was far more powerful than he was, but damnit the kid started it and he wasn't about to quit on a fight. Especially with the roar of his fellow Saiyans on his ears, egging him on. No, Raditz had far too much pride and bloodlust to give up now.
Gohan thought he heard words in the back of his head. Words that sounded familiar and comforting, but when he tried to focus on them, the more muddled they became. He wasn't sure what he was doing, or what was going on, until he felt a weird twinge in his chest. It started near his heart and shot through his limbs. It was like an electric shock that knocked the fog out of his head. Without thinking, he raised his right hand and caught something in it. When he focused his eyes on what was in front of him, he found that he had caught his uncle Raditz's left fist. He suddenly remembered that he was fighting his uncle, lost in some kind of terrible cloudy rage. Piccolo's words came back to him about the effects of Hell, and Gohan knew he needed to end this now. He couldn't keep fighting and risk losing himself again.
Gohan pulled his uncle toward him and shoved his knee as hard as he could in his current state into Raditz's chest. The older saiyan convulsed like his body was lit with electricity. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and the golden aura faded from his black hair. Gohan let his uncle's body fall to the ground since they weren't too high above it at this point. Some of the onlookers cheered while others booed; the crowd was glad to see a good fight but disappointed it was over, especially so quickly. Gohan let out a heavy breath; he needed to get out of Hell, and soon. Otherwise he'd end up spending eternity beating these other Saiyans senseless.