Disclaimer, in case it wasn't obvious. I don't own Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, or really any other property. Thank you.
The Long Road
Chapter 79: Linger
You lost her? How do you mean you lost her?
The soft tone of brown liquid swirled in front of her while her eyes didn't break from it. Her tea was getting cold, but first thing every morning was always the hardest. This was the most difficult part of her life, followed by the moments before she went to sleep. The beginning of a new day. It was hard to push herself to continue her day. Just getting ready for the day ahead was worse than the day itself. It was the quiet moments that allowed her to reflect on everything. Once she got to her office job in Satan City later on in the day, she could leave everything behind. The bustling people, the traffic, and the office of people all moving around, as well as her assigned tasks in the marketing office, were enough to completely pull her out of anything that trapped her in the shackles of being in her own past with people she loathed, feared, or felt responsible for.
Almost a dozen minutes later, she brought the once steaming hot liquid to her lips, tasting the cooled tea on her lips and tongue. When it pulled away, the unsatisfying brew made her almost spit out the ruined liquid. It was her own fall, her own hesitation to start her day always lead to this. When she had time, she'd often try to make a new cup rather than just microwaving what she had, but unfortunately today she'd been left too far off base and had been losing track of time. Even with her own ability to travel at a speed most people couldn't grasp, well… It was going to be a close call getting to work on time today.
The spectre of a dead man was hovering over her shoulder at any moment. The alien scared her, and old wounds had barely been stitched together enough for her to not fall to the ground in fear, especially after all of her training amounted to nothing compared to what he was. Then there were the battles that Earth still hadn't recovered from. Winters were increasingly cold. Crops had come back as being lower than expected every year since the last two battles. Capsule Corporation had gotten contracts to try and engineer the environment back to what it was, but there were literal mountains of debris that had been thrown into the air. Still, apparently, they'd done a good enough job to prevent them all from freezing to death. But all the same, she was left with the unnerving fact that she'd literally spoken with a dead man. The vengeance she felt beyond the grave when he'd asked how she'd lost Pan made her feel sick inside. It wasn't that she'd just lost her daughter to another monster she could do nothing about. It was because she knew that it meant that the source of her nightmares would visit her again when he came back.
Because he was coming back, wasn't he? Even though he'd died protecting their daughter, that was just an obstacle to him. It was horrifying. Worse yet, there was nothing she could do to push him away. It was like being forced to relive her helplessness every time he was near. That was the worst part of all of it. That was the thing that horrified her the most. She was suffocated by him, and her life had no control as soon as he was even approximately close. Being some monster's pet project…
That word seemed so… harsh. She'd sensed his energy die when that thing he was fighting killed him, again. This was what made it even worse. She couldn't even fully discount him as some kind of unthinking horror. The thing that plagued her life was someone who'd saved everyone she loved, and her world, at least three times. Maybe even four. Worse, she'd seen him do it at his own expense at least twice. It hurt because even if she had the power to get her revenge on him… it'd be… it'd be selfish. Which made it all the worse.
She was forever in a prison for the rest of her life. The shackles that bound her were invisible, and would follow her indefinitely, wouldn't they? They would linger, and it would be left as un-healing wound, and drag her slowly back into the pit she'd been left in the night after she'd met Gohan. What a horrible fate.
While lost in her thoughts, she'd robotically gone through the motions of getting herself to work. Her body launched itself over city streets and bound over buildings without any effort. The only thing she did after work was train. The only thing she did on her days off, was train. It'd become her only refuge from the things that haunted her thinking moments and dreams. The worst ones were when her daughter, the one she'd neglected, reached out for her, her eyes pleading with her to save her.
And knowing she never could.
That was enough to stop her on the edge of a building, only two blocks away from her current occupation in the high-profile world of soulless accounts management for Orange-Star Bank. That'd been the latest job she'd managed to get, even though she had a feeling with every job she got, and then lost, they were all favours to her father. He never confirmed it to be the case, but he always somehow knew when she was let go, or knew when she got hired somewhere, or knew when she was taking new courses. It was something she lived with, even if it felt like it slipped some of the control from her life, again.
There was a pause this time before she bound past the building. Her energy senses were far from honed like she knew the Saiyan's were, but she could sense a disturbance around her. She braced herself, stopping in place as dangerous eyes looked around her. She felt ridiculous wearing her pant-suit and heels, staring around the top of a building as if she was going to be ambushed for a fight. It was strange, as soon as her senses actively started to look, then things became foggier, before the disturbance left.
There were other humans, she'd seen them, with these powers, developed in the same way as her own, and as her original teachers. Sometimes she had close calls with them, in the sense that they crossed paths, but it always unnerved her. Around any corner, it could have been that blue goblin who'd blinded her, or it could be one of the many other monsters that inhabited this world. How she wished she was still in ignorance of the things which transcended her so dramatically. What a wonderful world that would be.
She might get more than two hours of real sleep a night then. Maybe she could hope for three or four, given all the other troubles that plagued her as well. For a brief second she just closed her eyes tightly, wishing she'd never thought of it.
Get a grip Videl, you've got to get to work and put in your eight hours. If you show up as a wreck, again, you're going to look like a crazy person. Just keep it together.
"I couldn't help but notice, citizen, that you seem to be stranded on top of this building," a familiar, yet somehow distinct voice commented from behind her. "If you need help getting down, I would be more than happy to help."
Turning her heard, she was already groaning. Very rarely did someone come across her on her journey to work, but she usually could make enough excuses to get them to go about their daily lives. She thought whoever was speaking however, sounded like a complete donkey of a man. The tone and inflection of the voice was almost unbearable in how it oozed a kind of… boy-scout nature and…
He's wearing a bucket on his head.
Well, it was a gawdy helmet, with a visor on it. It was a green tunic over a black undersuit, and… and it had a cape, a red cape.
It was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever seen in her life, and she felt like she might have finally lost what was left of her mind. Was this the insomnia kicking in? Was this where it all went eventually? What in the hell did she do to deserve this? Silently, she reached over to her hand. Pinching herself, feeling the pain. Okay, she'd not fallen asleep on the way to work, at least she was pretty sure she hadn't. That meant she'd had a psychotic break? No, she was sure she wasn't.
"But someone who's crazy would think that they're not crazy," she remarked to herself, leaving a perplexed look on the man opposite to her, standing there with his fists resting on his hips.
"No, you're not crazy citizen! I am the Great Saiyanman! And I am here to help you!"
Right, she'd just stumbled across an idiot then. Thank the gods for that. She could resolve this quickly. The same way that she resolved most personal encounters of an uncomfortable nature with a strange.
Hovering in the air, she was hoping whoever this crazy person was, they'd get the hint pretty quickly… and…
He was hovering now too.
"Ah! I see you've mastered the art of fli-"
No chances were being taken, not today, not again.
Pointing her finger at him immediately, Videl attacked.
It was so strange to have literally hundreds of the same person living with you. Vegeta had discovered that over the last few weeks, just saying the name "Trunks" would yield him a small legion of the same people. Worse yet, they were slowly going out into the world around them. Some of them were causing more trouble than others, even if inadvertent. Especially the younger ones, as a whole. It was hard enough dealing with his teenage son, his own teenage son, to be more specific. Now there were juveniles running around again, and they were all scheming and causing trouble, as well as forming clichés. It was beyond frustrating to deal with.
The only saving grace behind all of this was the training had improved substantially. A few of his sons were on par with him, and two could beat him, and that was beyond fascinating, if frustrating. Challenges, new peaks to cross, becoming the best, and strongest he could be, that was the point of existence for a true Saiyan warrior. The fact that in a dozen worlds his son had come to rival, or surpass him, brought a smile to his lips. Even as he now sparred with several dozen of his children again. The weaker ones were in a far higher quantity, and needed get in-tune with their Saiyan origins, as far as Vegeta was concerned.
That foul word caught the edge of his mind as he sensed Junia's power near the edge of the training field he'd picked out over the ruins of what had been the mountain range that Taro had destroyed. There was something unnerving to Vegeta at the word itself, as if it held some kind of strange sway over what it was meant to embody. Creatures like Frieza, were evil in his eyes, but this thing she'd described was something else. It was an all-consuming mass, more than it was evil. The Trunks had faced off against it as well, and they were horrified by it. It was the kind of foe Vegeta craved, in his own way. Something beyond what anyone else could face. The fact that Kakarot's boy had been annihilated by it, given Vegeta had an idea of how powerful he had become, was remarkable to him.
That was the kind of power he craved for himself, still. To achieve a goal in the distance that seemed insurmountable, that was his destiny, to strive and obtain it and everything else. Only he wouldn't acquire it from stealing energy from losers in the afterlife. He would conquer his limits here, on this world, while he was alive. He'd conquer them once he figured out how to. The distraction of his thoughts earned him a stiff right punch, staggering him in the air before he swept around, throwing his ki through the air in a disruptive bubble, blasting his final sparring opponent back.
The time out sign came up a moment later from the others as they recovered, leaving Vegeta to scowl.
"Enemies like Frieza, Cell, and whatever other monsters you've faced, don't give Time-Outs," Vegeta spat.
"Uhm," one responded awkwardly after a few moments.
"What?" Vegeta almost spat, angry that they'd cut off their training session already.
"Cell gave time outs," Trunks commented.
The comment was enough to cause Vegeta to scowl with a fury down at the rest of them. Especially given how his fight with Cell had gone, as all their fight with Cell had gone. The complete destruction of the Android with their combined powers was something that didn't have any time outs. It was ridiculous.
"If you're Cell was that stupid, then it's obvious how he died, and is damning how you survived."
"He's not lying," Junia commented. "Almost every Cell I ever came across was arrogant enough to give people the chance to kill him. It's how he dies in almost every world."
Pitiful, that moron nearly killed us.
Turning his attention towards the other figure hanging in the air, he looked at the woman he'd had a life or death struggle with only months earlier. It was a strange thing to have pride in that. She'd come so close to killing him it made his victory all the better. Finding her burnt body at the end of the battle had been and odd sensation for him. The hatred she'd shown him, her want to kill him had been so intense, the only fire he knew that burned as brightly was his own desire to superseded Kakarot. Or what he had experienced, his obsession and hatred had relaxed with age, becoming just the desire to be the best, whether that be against Kakarot or anyone else. It wasn't an all-consuming hatred anymore, but a drive.
They'd not fought, or even trained, since he'd defeated her in their beam struggle. It was a strange off-standing distance they were kept from one another. Even if it went unspoken, Vegeta appreciated her final gesture before she'd died. It was strange that he'd not wanted to enact training with her anymore either. There was almost a haunting nature to her death in his mind. Even when he'd spoken with her after she'd revived, where they spoke of this Janemba thing, Vegeta felt himself wanting to remain distant, and the feeling was mutual. The quiet moments before one meets their fate are not easily forgotten.
Why did you spare me?
You made the right choice.
Once the timelines were sorted out, he'd not see this one again, but for now she was here.
"Are you done?" Vegeta asked her, staring over with his teal eyes before his arms crossed. "Hiding away from your well-earned afterlife, that is."
There was a brief pause before her own hair arched up, turning to gold, before her eyes shifted in colour as well. In truth, he quietly swore to himself at the transformation. It wasn't that he was expecting this to be a battle to the death, but it was something else. It was hardly that he didn't want to fight a woman, he'd fought and killed hundreds, and outright killed billions of them. It was the strange sensation that he felt like this things father. Ironically, even with his limited knowledge, he suspected that perhaps he'd been more a father to her in the few brief hours they really knew one another, than his shameful alternate self had been.
When she braced herself in the air, wearing one of Capsule Corp's training uniforms, Vegeta felt himself growl for a brief moment as the pair of them stared one another down. He wasn't sure if she stole the uniform, or Bulma was encouraging this. There was a strong suspicion that it was in fact, the latter.
"I understand that you were lucky, the last time we fought," she announced, her posture ready to strike. "I can see your reluctance already. Worried I'm going to win this time?"
Around them, there was a purple haired mob forming, all of them beginning to move away but keeping their eyes on them as Vegeta just gave a 'hmph' before turning his head and spitting as his only response, before adjusting his stance to meet hers.
The Great Saiyaman:
He'd not kept his ki up like this. Almost everyone couldn't really harm him, so exerting a gigantic effort was foolish. He'd not had a chance to really gauge how strong she was when he'd fought her while he was apart of Brass. That was an odd thought to have in and of itself, before he batted the Dodon Ray into the air. His hand felt numb from the effort. What he'd expected even less was for a kick to be behind the energy wave as Videl had already closed the distance, her foot striking out at him aggressively. The sweeping kick caught him in the side before she palm-struck him in the chest. Without his ki being raised, he felt the wind get knocked out of him before his body shot back, hitting the concrete wall behind him.
The finishing blow was coming next, he could tell that much as she made a dash towards him. Rolling up, he slipped past her as her body plunged into the side of the building. Raising his ki immediately, Gohan felt the white aura appear around him as she tore through the top of the office building golden energy glowing in each of her hands.
Appearing next to her, Gohan grabbed one of her wrists.
"I think that's enough citizen," he said, breathing in and out once to catch his breath. "Property damage is a crime,"
The distrust he saw in her eyes was immediate as she tore her hand away from him. They both knew he could have done a lot more damage with him displaying this much energy. The impressive part was, she had to be stronger than Nappa or Vegeta when they'd first come to Earth. It was hard to exactly gauge of course, but that was crazy for a human. Admittedly, that typically meant there was a lot of adversity in someone's life.
"Alright bucket-man," she started, clearly irritated. "What do you want? Is this a hostage taking? Or are you trying to kill me to send a message? What is it?"
Blinking several times, Gohan wasn't quite sure what to say to that. That was of course quite the conversation starter, but he doubted it came from a good place.
"Look, I'm not here to take a hostage, I just saw you running on top of a hard to access building," he said, raising his hands defensively. "I'm trying to help clean things up after the recent incidents that destroyed the mountains that used to be over there."
When he pointed to where Mount Pazou used to be, he turned his attention back to her, only to see her almost prepared to strike again.
She's really convinced I'm here to kill her? What the hell kind of world is this?
It was like dealing with a feral dog. This was not the Videl he knew, not at all. He could tell already this was a person who'd been damaged by life. What the Hell could have driven her to be like this? If made him just feel… sad… When he got home, if he could find his Videl, he was just going to give her a hug for having been through all this, and it wasn't even her.
"Look, I didn't realize you would be so upset, let me make it up to you," he urged. "I'll buy you lunch."
"I'm heading to work," she finally said, clearly not sure as to how to respond. "Look, just-"
"Alright, fair enough," Gohan said, raising his hands defensively. "I mean, I'm not trying to get in any fights with you citizen. I've gotten enough bruises and beatings already. My hand's still number from that shot you fired. Still, while I'm here, justice must be served!"
He made the announcement while pointing one finger in the air, attempting to look as authoritative and regal as he could. She gave him a look which he thought might be laced with a kind of sympathy, which he didn't fully understand. Most of the citizens had traditionally thought he looked really impressive, especially after he flew around or stopped criminals in their amoral activities.
"Maybe I owe you lunch," she responded, her tone not sounding particularly excited. "Look, I apologize for the issue-"
"What the Hell happened to the ceiling? Is that the sky?" a voice called out from the office building.
Turning his attention towards the building, The Great Saiyaman felt himself cringe for a moment.
"Right, I think-" turning his head back towards Videl, he found nothing floating where she'd been.
I've never been great at carpentry or replacing ceilings. So… I'm… I'm gonna go.
In a blur, his body vanished just as he saw a head popping out of the window looking around for more signs of damage.
Whatever happened to this world, it's definitely not like my own. Everything's gone so wrong here. I'm guessing there is no Pan here. Man, that's probably for the better, from what I've seen her parents would be totally incapable of caring for her. I'm going to keep around the city for a few more hours then head home.
It'd been days, maybe weeks, since the skies turned black. Piccolo was here and then not here a dozen times. The promise of her father returning to life seemed to be one of smoke and mirrors.
She wanted him to see how strong she'd become. She'd survived out here with the help of Piccolo and 17. She'd learned so much now, and could feel what Piccolo called the fighter's instinct. She could sense strikes as they came in towards her. She could plan her way around her enemy's attacks and defense. She was improving every day, and wouldn't just be someone other people could hurt anymore. But every day her father didn't come to find her felt like a rejection.
He was supposed to be out there, the Eternal Dragon had been summoned. She could feel people coming back to life, she could feel their powers return. A lot of them, at that even. The question was where her father was. Piccolo hadn't said where he was yet, he just said that no one knew. Well, here she was waiting.
Sitting on a 'comfortable' rock she'd come to favour in this part of the forest, she just looked out across the lakes and rivers that dotted the landscape. They were like islands in a sea of trees. The fresh air in her lungs was now the norm, the familiar. She almost couldn't remember what a city looked like, though maybe that was being hyperbolic on her part. It all seemed so distant all the same. Her life before coming here was a… a mixture of bad dreams she wanted to forget.
When Piccolo landed nearby, she turned to look at him immediately, hopping off her rock and walking towards him, a smile plastered on her face.
"Is he coming back?" she asked, hope rising as she spoke.
The silence she got told her the answer, and immediately felt herself deflating from the answer. Her eyes found the muddy forest floor before sighing. The open display of disappointment she hoped was somehow going to change the answer.
"It's time for training today," Piccolo said, not looking at her at first.
When he did turn his attention to face her, she could see a glimmer of sympathy in his eyes, and it made her angry. Not at Piccolo, but at the fact that her dad still wasn't back when he was supposed to be. The long, distant idea that maybe he would never come back started to rear in the back of her mind. A hand rested on her shoulder a moment later as she realized Piccolo had placed it there. Blinking in surprise, she stared back at him. Piccolo always supported her, but it was often silently. Since she'd come back with him from 17's, he'd been kinder than before. Still, she appreciated him being here for her.
Giving a small half smile, she prepared to say something back when she felt something.
Something big in the distance.
Her eyes flashed open at the familiarity of it. It was a power she knew she'd been near before. Her breathing hitched as she felt herself almost leap in the air before putting her hands to her mouth.
Is that him?!
The window outside her office was more than inviting to her when this time of the day hit. Only an hour more before she could head home. The streets below were lax with traffic, but rush hour was going to start, and soon. Not that traffic mattered to her personally, but everyone else in the office was going to start complaining about it, as if on queue. She could already hear them beginning to panic over trying to get home for any series of mundane tasks. To be honest, that was her fate after this. She'd missed laundry day yesterday, and that meant she needed to take care of that for the rest of the week. The rest of her train of thoughts were on the strange weirdo dressed in a bad super hero outfit. He did seem familiar, but it was just weird.
The fact she'd lost it and tried to take him out showed her just how paranoid she was that someone was going to come to finish her off. After the last few times she'd come across people who could fly, or demonstrate that kind of power, it was just the precursor to her life being destroyed, again. She could still remember being unable to do anything to stop any of these things from ruining her life.
Something felt off a second later though. Her power sensing abilities were far from spectacular, but she could feel the air change. It was closeby. She stopped looking at the screen at all as she tried to get a fix on where it was. It was an oddly familiar presence, and it was close. Staring out the window again, her eyes focused on a field of white energy forming in the middle of the street. It was growing brighter by the second as she felt the hairs on the back of her neck rising.
Why? Why me? Why do I need to be close to this thing as it manifests? What monster is it going to be this time?
The white light took on the form of a humanoid over several seconds as cars passed through it while honking. Suddenly, the light hardened as a car hit it while honking. The driver went straight through his windshield before flying thirty feet forward and slamming into another car. She gasped as it happened. The man lay on the ground injured and she immediately rose from her chair.
"What's going on outside!?" a voice called.
Before she could move another inch, the light disappeared and, in its place,, was a monster she was already too familiar with.
Standing perfectly still, though looking flustered and surprised…
Her blood turned to ice as she saw him looking around, before he stumbled away from the destroyed car, clearly disoriented.
So. Gohan is back everybody! And it's just as much of a car crash as it always is, lmao.
If there are some errors this chapter, it's because I'm super busy this weekend and won't be able to proof as much. I'm getting this out mid-day as I'm gonna be gone all day, then basically gone all week. So it's a bit more lax on the proofing. Sorry!
I'm definitely more inspired for the immediate future for The Catalyst, but TLR's got some scenes coming up that I've been waiting to write for five years. I'm intending to update monthly for TLR until April, where I hope to get it back in line to twice a month.
Also, I want to thank everyone who reads and reviews the story. Even while I've been gone for a couple months from work and life, I noticed that people read this thing tons when I got a chance to check my analytics. I wouldn't write it if you guys didn't enjoy it. And remember, if I ever intend to drop the story, I will create a summary for everything that's still in the pipe. :)
But don't worry, I'm not done walkin' The Long Road myself yet, it would seem. :)
Blades of Fury: Tons of Baddies! Baddies everywhere! I promise! Lol. However, Gaia's the next scheduled Saga. After that we've got… 1… 2… 3… maybe four Sagas, but definitely 3.
Anomymously96: Cooler is going to be harvesting the Tree of Might on an industrial level (spoilers) and training at the same time. He's gonna be fine, lmao.
GabrielGrayson812: Junia wouldn't tolerate Gohan's shit, lol. My other story is going to have more romance than this one XD
Sigmakleim: He be back :O
TheItchyCocoon: Zamasu is around, but he'll never be a big baddie in the story. In my headcannon he's the current Kai of his universe. :|
Absolute Fury: There are hundreds of thousands of words. No. lol
Luke: In his own head, Abaddon is a hero… lol
Thomas-The-TMC: Hence one reason why Abaddon doesn't want them on Earth, lol.
Lil Dynamic: I try my best. Each Saga has to have a real story behind it, real growth, real development for the characters. Without that, what's the point? Each villain too needs their own niche. :)
LordAries34: Uhm. Okay.
Super Mystic Gohan: Abaddon and Cooler have long arcs, but when they complete, I think people will be satisfied :)
Guest1: Aawesome review, thanks! I can't wait to get more into the "legion" side of things. Though I'm tempted to look for an artist to draw out the Legion main baddies, I'm just not sure how much money I'd want to sink into it, lol.
Narelclollie: No, thank you!
Guest2: Oh I agree with you for the CANON for the most part. But in the Long Road's little universe, it's different, and it'll be fully explained later on I promise :)
DBZFan the First: Updates will be monthly until April, where I'm hoping my vacation lets me churn out more content. For now, The Catalyst has hit a really important point, so more of my writing time is going to be in that direction.
Navarone2013: The whole story's planned that far ahead, my friend! And you even got some Pan and Videl this chapter :D
Onii-Chan: I'm so happy Gohan's back, lmao.
Deathadder: The Gods are fickle my friend. And Whis is far from blind, there is a reason Gohan got sent back beyond using Goku as an excuse. I'm only spoiling this because I don't want you to be so upset, lol.
Guest3: Thanks :D