This oneshot is brought to you by Lord of the Saiyans
A streak of colour spun through the ruins of a long-empty city. A flash of high-impact, well, impact. The crash of shattering buildings. The crumbling of rubble. Slowly, the half-Saiyan known as Gohan picked himself up. He was a bloody mess; his side had been shredded by that last attack and he knew he was lucky still to be alive.
His weakened aura flickered back into life at his command. He frowned at the flash of pain that the motion caused him. Not good, I don't have the power to last much longer.
His golden hair slowly began to fade back to its original colour. He let it fade; aware of the need to conserve his power now. He wasn't like his father or his brother. He knew when to let himself appear weak. A certain Namek had taught him long ago that it was better to appear weak and then win than to appear strong but still lose.
Besides, if they thought he was weaker than he was he might have an advantage; he was going to need every single one of those that he could get.
Despite all of this, Gohan knew that he would probably die here. It was not an unfamiliar feeling for the young man. He had felt it for the first time many years ago when he had met Raditz. He'd felt it later too, against Frieza and even Cell before rage had blotted it from his mind. But never had he felt it like this. It was like being slowly submerged under an ocean of inevitability. That no matter what he did or what he tried, he would still die. Was this how Dad had felt? He wondered briefly. Goku had certainly had his share of hopeless fights, but in all of that time Gohan had never known him to give up. Goku had faced down Frieza even when it was clear that the tyrant's power eclipsed his own. Gohan remembered that time vividly, or rather, he remembered one part of it in particular. A scene which would always be burned into his mind as the first time that he had ever truly realized what kind of man his father was.
Namek was being destroyed; the sky dark and swollen like a bruise and red magma pouring from the earth like blood. Goku had stood cloaked in golden light like an ancient myth come to life He had demanded that Gohan flee. To save his life and the lives of others. In that moment, he had not been Goku or daddy or father. He had been something else. Something old and new and oh so powerful. In that single instant Gohan had understood - though just what he did understand he had to figure out later.
Super Saiyan didn't change you. It didn't make you a monster if you weren't one before. All it did was loosen inhibitions, make your true self come to the surface. That was why from that day forth, Goku had always been that man. The man cloaked in the golden light of a newborn star. The man standing between Gohan and a monster called Frieza. The man fighting to avenge his fallen friends and to make sure that they were revived. That was who Goku was to his son and who he always would be.
Son Goku. The Last Saiyan.
The memory burned into his mind now. He felt his waning courage start to rise again. How could he ever have thought of giving up? How could he ever surrender? He was the son of Goku! And even if it meant that he had to die here, he wouldn't give an inch! A small smirk formed on his face as he remembered. Ironic really. Gohan looked more Saiyan now than he ever had in his life before. Beaten and bloodied, but not bowed.
Vegeta would have been impressed.
After all, how could he ever call himself Goku's son if he simply lay down to die when the going got rough? Gohan was no stranger to last-ditch battles; he'd fought in a fair few of them while he was still alive. However, therein lay the crux of his problem. He had never expected to have to such a battle after he had already died. He'd never thought it would come to this even when
Otherworld was laid siege to by some strange power. When Goku and Vegeta went out to fight he had thought that would be the end of it.
But then, he'd also thought that whoever was doing the attacking was someone that he didn't know. How wrong he had been.
The haze of smoke and debris began to clear. Gohan fell into a ready stance as the fog parted to reveal the brazenly cocky features of his attacker. His raven hair no longer cut as short as it had once been. His eyes fixed on Gohan with all the intent of a starving hawk. Not a scratch on him. Not a bruise or a cut marred his features. His grin was as self-confident as ever.
"Is that it?" Android Seventeen spoke in a mocking voice. " Is that really all you've got? Gohan, I'm disappointed."
Gohan lashed out with a fierce kick to the head, but the android simply dodged back and caught his leg before he could recover. Gohan cursed and tried to twist free, but Seventeen's grasp was, well, like a machine and would not be lost so easily. Before the younger Saiyan could work himself free, he was flung with mechanical force.
The half-Saiyan managed to catch himself in mid-air and turned with a roar and a spray of Ki. The orbs angled towards the Android, who danced between them without seeming even to break a sweat. Before Gohan could fling himself back, a counter-blast lanced into his gut and he lost his flight. He landed with a thud and a cry of pain, but before he could recover Seventeen was on him with a dozen blasts of Ki. Gohan managed to twist between them, launching himself into the air in time to evade the attack. Seventeen turned and phased. Gohan just had time to leap away before the android appeared where he had stood. Reflexes numbed by shock and pain, Gohan was unable to dodge as Seventeen landed a blow to his chest, and then with an overarching kick sent him smashing down to the ruined city below.
Gohan landed with a crash and a cloud of expanding debris. His impact sent cracks spidering through the cement that coated the ground. Somehow, he was still awake and able to force his protesting body into cover before the smoke had faded.
At the cost of sounding obvious, this wasn't working. He needed to come up with another plan.
Gohan forced himself to take a deep breath to still his hammering heart. The advantage so far went to Seventeen that much was obvious. Gohan needed to turn this around, but how? Seventeen was so much stronger now than he had been before. Even Dad and Vegeta had been...
No! He couldn't think of that now! Focus, he told himself, focus. Find his weakness and exploit it.
His mind whirred into action. This was where he was at his best. Even his father, Goku, had fought out of instinct more than skill. Goku was the kind of fighter to trust to his luck and his skill to carry him through. But Gohan was different; perhaps it was because of his mother who had constantly told him to learn and to think and to analyse. Maybe it was because of his teacher who had shown him that nine times out of ten, brain would triumph over brawn, but whatever the reason he had learned to utilise his mind in these battles just as much as his body. Everyone had a weakness. Every being in this universe, living or dead had some form of Achilles Heel that could be found and used to bring them down. All he had to do was to find and exploit it before Seventeen managed to kill him the old-fashioned way. Or was that re-kill him? Whatever, that didn't matter now.
Focus. He repeated to himself, making it an odd mantra. Focus, focus, what were Seventeen's weaknesses? What had caused him to go rogue in the first place? Maybe if he knew that, he'd be in a better position.
"Are you hiding, Gohan?" Seventeen. He hovered in the air above the city. His eyes swept from ruined towers to crumbling homes. Sweeping, searching. "I didn't figure you for a coward."
Don't listen to him. Gohan thought to himself. He can't sense energy, he is trying to make me give up my position. So long as I don't do that, I have a chance. But if I do give in and rush him...
Images of Vegeta's death returned unbidden to his mind. The Saiyan Prince had tried to rush him only for Seventeen to effortlessly break his defences and snap his neck before he even knew he was losing. Just like in every battle that the monster had fought in. No matter the foe, it was always over in seconds once the distance had been closed. And given how easily Seventeen was throwing him around too, Gohan had no reason to expect that it would be different for him.
His mind flashed to every fight that he had seen the Android participate in. In every one, he'd finished it as soon as he could. In every single one of them, it had been over in minutes at best.
Why? Seventeen was the type to play around with his helpless foes. So why wouldn't he enjoy their pain? Unless... That was it! In every battle Seventeen had relied on his speed and power. But never his defences. Could that mean that he had received no significant improvement in that area? Even when he fought Goku, Seventeen hadn't let a single blow strike him. He'd used his speed and power to keep the Saiyan on the defensive.
That could be it. Seventeen's weakness. If Gohan used his full power, he could still win! But - and his heart fell as he realized this - he still would have to either get a clear shot or somehow trick Seventeen into taking multiple lesser attacks. Goku, Vegeta, no one else had even realized this weakness. Could he really manage to beat this guy when even his father had failed?
He had to try.
Right, what else did he know? Seventeen was the same android that he had seen many years earlier and whom Cell had absorbed on his way to a perfect form. That meant he might have the same weakness. Arrogance, pride... convinced of his own superiority. Could he use that?
"Don't you want to avenge your friends, Gohan?"
Ignore him! THINK!
Seventeen had come from seemingly nowhere, but his power was greater than anything Gohan could have expected. What could be causing that? As an android, he couldn't simply train to be stronger. Maybe he had met his creator or some other scientist. How hard was it to come up with the parts for an upgrade?
"I didn't think you were such a coward, Gohan. Even your dad was tougher than this. But then again, I suppose your own way is better. After all, I'd already killed him by this point in our fight."
Anger. Images of Goku after his fight with Seventeen flashed through his head. Before he even knew it Gohan had let loose a howl of anger and with his earlier reluctance forgotten, erupted his cover with a blast of Super Saiyan power. Seventeen snarled as he spun to intercept but even he was too slow and all it got the android was an elbow to the face. Seventeen cried out, but Gohan was on a roll now. Rage lent power and speed to his attacks as he hammered Seventeen again and again. The android could only try to take each hit, their speed and power too much to attempt a counter.
He was doing it! The small, rational part of his brain thought. Most of him was drowned out in the rage, but that tiny part of hom which remained cool despite the red-hot anger noted how Seventeen's guard seemed to be crumbling. He was fragile despite his power. Just like Gohan had thought.
Distracted by pain. Seventeen didn't notice for several seconds that Gohan had begun to charge power. His eyes widened when he did realize, but by then it was too late. Gohan had already cupped his hands.
"Take this! Masenko HA!"
A beam of light lanced from his hands and howled towards the winded android. Seventeen tried to dodge but he was far too slow. The energy wave enveloped him in golden light.
The explosion rocked the city and Gohan danced back a step or two, waiting for the counter. He wasn't fool enough to think it was that simple. If Dad couldn't do it, then Gohan had no chance with a single brute force attack like that. The smoke was thick around the point of his attack, and he cursed the fact that as an android, Seventeen was immune to his ability to sense energy. He knew he shouldn't have lost his temper like that, but even after so many years his father was still a sore spot for the young Saiyan. Goku had been like a hero to him. Seeing him brought low like that...
It had been the worst moment of his existence.
He clenched his fists. Seventeen still had not emerged. Despite his determination to remain cynical, he could not help but wonder. Had he actually done it? His own raw power had always been the greater when it was released in a rage. Had he managed to overpower the android himself? Seventeen was fragile after all. Had he been destroyed by one, mighty, attack?
The smoke was blown aside as a stream of blue energy cut into the ground where Gohan had been standing. He'd managed to phase away at the last second, leaping to the right and rolling just as the ground exploded. He came to his feet just in time to block a fist with his forearm; the pain numbed him enough that he was too slow to stop the next strike to his gut.
Pain! The edges of his vision began to turn red and fray and he doubled over. Blood was trickling down the sides of his mouth and his other wounds had been torn open anew.
Seventeen stood before him, cocky as ever. His clothes have been scoffed up and he looked bruised. But he had taken no major damage despite Gohan's rage.
"The old Super Saiyan berserk thing? How could you think I'd have fallen for that, kid? Vegeta tried the same thing. Before I killed him too, of course."
"Shut up..." Gohan snarled, trying to twist away from Seventeen. The android's hand shot out and grabbed his wounded arm. He hissed in pain, but refused to scream. The resolution was soon broken along with the arm. Seventeen twisted with a fiendish smile and Gohan could not help but cry out.
"That's one arm broken. I think I'm going to toy with you; I'll break every bone in your body one by one. Its the least I can do."
Seventeen released him and Gohan leapt back into the sky, summoning a series of blasts and directing them at his foe. With a snort Seventeen blocked them all only to see that Gohan had used the chance to seek cover again.
From behind a ruined wall, Gohan could only bite his tongue to stop the cries of pain. His arm
had been shattered by Seventeen's attack, no doubt.
He needed time to think. Time to figure out what to do. His last plan had failed, but that was because of his temper. His conclusions were still valid. They had to be because he had no other way of winning and if all this was for nothing...
No, he wouldn't think like that. He still had some tricks up his sleeve. In fact, he had one last gambit in mind. If it worked, it might win him the battle. But if it failed, he was going to pay for it was his life.
No choice. He thought to himself. I'll have to try it. I hope this works...
"What happened to you, Seventeen?" He called out, using the shattered landscape to bounce his voice. "You didn't use to be a bad guy! After Cell, you visited us sometimes, remember? So why did you turn into such a monster when you died?"
"Why indeed," Seventeen said. "Maybe I realized that there really isn't much point to living a worthwhile life. After all, no matter what it's all the same."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, look at it this way. What happened when one is good in life and dies? They go to Otherworld. But Otherworld isn't that different from the living one. There are people; so many people and so many stupid, petty debates and arguments. Do you know how many people have ever lived? Every single one of them is waiting for you in Otherworld with their own petty little problems and complaints. Every. Single. One. Maybe I just got tired of it and decided to do a little exterminating."
"That doesn't make sense; even if you were tired of all that, no one was making you listen to it! Otherworld is a big place, you don't need to stay with all the other people! Something else happened to you..."
"Oh, you figured that out, did you? No one else did. Congratulations, you saw through my excuse." He grinned like a demon. "The truth is that I am not Seventeen at all. At least, not the original."
"What are you talking about?" Gohan snarled, though it was starting to make a worrying amount of sense.
"Isn't it obvious? My creator, Dr Gero memorized the designs for all his creations. When he was sent here, he started to develop a new, superior model. It took him many years of work; it was hard to get the right parts but when he succeeded, oh, did he succeed. You're looking at the new and improved Android Seventeen. The first of a new breed."
"And what happened to the old Seventeen? You destroyed him too?"
"In a manner of speaking. But that's not your concern, Gohan. I am afraid you forgot one crucial fact. I'm a machine. I don't fall for tricks like this so easily!"
He phased towards the spot where Gohan's voice had been. Layers of sensors filtering out the echoes that would have confused a biological being. His arm shot out like a razor-bladed knife and impaled the wall that hid his prey!
He met only air on the other side. His cocky grin of satisfaction faltered and gave way to a look of confusion.
"My sensors failed?"
"Looking for someone?"
Seventeen jerked and tried to turn, but his arm had been locked by some construct of energy. He spat and pulled with all his power, breaking free with a crash.
Immediately, a charge of Ki was sent burning through his arm. He snarled in pain as it raged through his metal body. He didn't know what had happened or what was going on. The Ki had thrown his system totally out of balance.
"What's the matter, Seventeen?" Gohan asked. " Did you fall for my trap? It was a pretty simple one, anyone who could sense energy would notice it at once. Lucky for me, you can't."
Seventeen struggled to regain his balance, half of his internals were out of sync and the other half seemed to be trying to reset themselves.
"What happened?" He asked. His vision blurring. " The wall! The wall conducted your trap directly into my arm."
"And through that, to your internals." Gohan nodded. "It took nearly all my power to set up. I wasn't sure that it would even work."
"You..." Seventeen growled. " It doesn't matter! In only a few seconds, I'll be back to my full power! You can't destroy me in that time."
"Really?" Gohan's hair had once more turned golden. "We'll see."
Saying nothing else, he launched into his attack. The last of his Ki burned across his hands now; if this failed he was done for! This was his last chance and he would not be found wanting!
"This one is for Vegeta!" His left hook caught Seventeen a blow to the face. The android smashed into another wall. Gohan phased to his side as he tried to rise.
"For Piccolo!" His left foot swept out and brought Seventeen crashing to the ground again. A savage kick to the gut and Seventeen was sunken into the earth with a crash.
"RAAAARGHHH!" Seventeen unleashed a torrent of blue energy and Gohan was forced to phase away lest he be hit. The android used the time to pull himself free and leap into the air, but a dozen blasts screamed towards him from the distance.
"That won't work!" Seventeen snarled, launching a beam of his own which consumed the attacks.
"What about this?" Gohan's voice from behind him.
He spun, his eyes wide.
"I set timed blasts." Gohan smirked. "And you fell for it." Seventeen reached up for Gohan's good hand, but it was too late. It had already begun to spark with power and light.
"And this one is for father. Masenko!"
The attack was point blank, full power and no holds barred. This close there was no dodging or blocking. Even Gohan found himself hissing in agony as the blowback started to nip at his wounds. But Seventeen was by far the worse. The android screamed as his form began to blur, the golden blast of power eating into him slowly. Gohan had been right. For all his newfound power and speed, Seventeen was still only made of metal and could not hold against the unleashed power of a Saiyan.
The android gave off one last cry of pain and rage before he was consumed by the attack. Only then did Gohan allow the beam to fade. His whole body felt like it had been set on fire. His broken arm pulsed sickeningly. He gasped for breath. He should have felt good. He should have been happy.
Dad, Vegeta, Piccolo. So many had died to this monster before he had been able to stop it. And what of what Seventeen had said? That he was only the first? That somewhere in Otherworld some mad man was making more like him?
"Y-you beat me." A voice said. "Even Goku and Vegeta couldn't do that..."
Gohan looked down in surprise. Seventeen's head had been blown clear by the explosion, but still seemed to be functioning. Gohan was reminded of the far more welcome sight of Android Sixteen and not for the first time, wished that he was here.
"You're still alive," Gohan said. " Though you don't sound too well."
It was true. Seventeen's voice was becoming more and more like static. Random and jumbled. Every second, becoming more machine and less man. He would spit and hiss and loop; repeating whole words as he spoke.
"Doesn't matter," Seventeen spat. "I'm done-done-done. You managed to beat me."
"It's over," Gohan said simply. "Your terror ends here."
"Over? N-no Gohan. Th-th-has just begun." His voice was beginning to stutter now, power fading faster. "Others will-il come. You will still di-di-di-die."
"Let them come." Gohan said simply. "I'm not going to let anyone else die."
He crushed Seventeen's head with a foot before turning and looking over the wreckage.
"I won't let anyone else die." He repeated to himself.