Chapter 28: Celation
Author:Rocket (a.k.a. Roketto/RyunoOhi); Continuity Wizard: Saucemonkey; Editors: devilman337, Elbadj
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The strobe light snapped on.
Tenshinhan squinted and tried to turn his head away, but found that his body was not responding. He was lying on something cool and hard, but he couldn't move his body. He couldn't feel any restraints holding him but for some reason his body wasn't obeying his commands. Though he flicked his eyes he couldn't move them far enough to see anything except for the blindingly sterile white of the room.
"I imagine you're wondering why you can't move right now?" a voice said, "You're not, of course, wondering where you are because you already know the answer to that."
Ten licked his lips. "I presume I'm speaking to Dr. Gero?" he said.
"You are indeed." The doctor's craggy face moved into Ten's field of vision. He stared down at him, as though he were a particularly curious insect. "I must say, I'm intrigued to see how this experiment goes. I've constructed androids from scratch and I have built them out of ordinary, weak humans, but I've never had a specimen such as yourself to work on before."
A cold lump formed in Tenshinhan's chest, but he forced it down with a defiant smirk. "You're going to turn me into an android?" he laughed, "That seems like a bad move. Your last attempt at that wasn't wholly successful in maintaining obedience was it?"
"True," Gero nodded, "But I'm a scientist, I'm constantly improving my formulas." He tapped the side of his head and smiled. "Always working away. That's what's made me who I am."
"A psychopath?" Ten jibed.
"If you refer to the technical definition of 'one devoid of empathy' then yes, but I don't see that as a deficit." Gero shrugged, turning away from the martial artist. He began to rattle around, continuing conversationally, "I have merely ascended to seeing humans for what they are: lumps of meat and bone designed to perpetuate survival, no greater or more worthy of life than any other organism. You know what they say about survival, don't you? The strong survive by eating the weak. Well, at least, that is the brutish, biological way of things. However... I was once weak. But my mind was stronger than any other man, and with it, I created a body to match. Humans grow sick, grow old, die, no matter if they're weak or strong. I despise death, but I see it as a problem to be solved, you see. Of course, in the world I hope to create, not all will be worthy of eternal, autonomous life."
Tenshinhan narrowed his eyes. "All things deserve to live."
Gero sighed. "Well, serves me right for trying to argue sense with a wishy-washy martial artist. Least of all one corrupted by Goku." He seemed to seethe at the very use of the name. Dr. Gero stepped back into view. "Now, to answer your unasked question, the reason you can't move is I have injected you with a paralysis agent that is preventing your nervous system from your neck down from receiving signals properly, so you can't communicate with your muscles and move them — don't worry, it shouldn't affect your heart and lungs, so you won't die. This is an unfortunate necessity, and would be even if you were a willing part of what I'm doing." The doctor hefted up his hands. In them was a large circular bone saw. Tenshinhan's eyes widened. "In answer to the question that you should have been thinking, but weren't, why are you still awake? The reason is that brain surgery is a delicate matter and requires me to be able to communicate with you," Gero smiled, "I am a scientist and constantly improving my work, but I'm afraid I can't promise that my anesthetic has gotten rid of your ability to sense pain. Do let me know if it hasn't, won't you?" The saw buzzed to life and the whirring blade dipped down towards Tenshinhan.
"We should have tracked him down and killed him long ago!" Piccolo hissed, digging his nails into his crossed arms, "Out of sight, out of mind just doesn't work with someone so hellbent on revenge."
Chiaotzu bowed his head, a deep frown on his pale, drawn features. "...It's because he was trying to protect me. That's why...that's why Ten is..."
"None of that," Frieza snapped, "We're lucky that you didn't get taken as well, and Tenshinhan knew that was the alternative. He did the wise thing, and so did you by immediately sounding the alarm and going to find Piccolo." He sat back and massaged his brow, angry at the dull throbbing there that had so dulled his senses the night before. "I should have been more alert..." he murmured to himself, balling his mechanical fist in his lap.
"You should take your own advice, brother," Kooler whispered, gently coiling his tail around Frieza, "It isn't your fault either. We were caught off guard, and now that we know who our enemy is, we will act to eliminate them. Business as usual," he claimed, cracking a smile. Still, his smile dropped when he saw the clear agitation in Frieza's tensed jaw, his twitching tail. 'He's certainly quite bothered by this human's kidnapping. I guess that even he has gotten more attached than he'd like to admit.'
"It should have been easy to track Tenshinhan by his ki, but by the time Chiaotzu contacted me psychically, it was gone. Just gone!" Piccolo seethed, throwing his hands up in the air in an uncharacteristic show of anger. "It makes no sense that Gero would kill him, but that's the only thing that explains why I couldn't sense him."
"Well...what if he were knocked out?" Bulma asked, "Could that have made his ki hard to feel?"
Piccolo growled, and shook his head. "Hard, maybe, but not impossible, especially not for someone as strong as Tenshinhan. There wasn't a trace."
"Hmm... Well, even if he's dead, I'll bet Shenron can help us," Bulma declared, "After all, we haven't used the Dragonballs in a while for anything."
"Hold on," Piccolo cautioned, "We have no idea what Gero's intentions are. This could be a trap to force our hand. Maybe he wants us to summon the Dragon."
"If that's the case," Goku said quietly from his perch on the side of Bulma's couch, "then we'll just have to make it quick, and fight him off if he shows up. I don't see any other options, Piccolo."
"Grr...right then, if you insist, then we should at least do it from the safety of the Lookout," Piccolo acquiesced.
"I am inclined to agree," Frieza said, "There's no telling what Dr. Gero has in store for Tenshinhan, alive or dead. We need to get him back as soon as possible." As he said this, he met Chiaotzu's eyes with a fierce gaze, all too telling in its intent: he would not lose another person important to him. The short psychic nodded back resolutely. The two of them rose, following Piccolo out of Capsule Corporation.
Kooler hung back, processing these events. 'Well, I was planning to leave Frieza be, but from the look of things, perhaps that would be unwise at the moment,' he thought, 'I hope Sauza is not too disappointed by a delay in our departure...' With a swish of his tail, he too rose, following the others outside.
Goku dropped the last of the Dragonballs on the tiles, and they clattered softly together. The assembled group stared down at them as Dende made his way forward. Chiaotzu wrung his hands together, nervous, whilst Frieza kept his arms crossed and attempted to project an outward sense of calm. His tail, however, betrayed his anxiety with it being held stiff to his body, unmoving save for the occasional agitated twitch.
"Shenron, come forth!" Dende cried; the Dragonballs illuminated and then shot a beam of light up into the darkening sky that eventually resolved itself into the enormous twisting body of Shenron.
The dragon peered down at them. "YOU HAVE SUMMONED THE ETERNAL DRAGON," he boomed, "SPEAK YOUR WISH, I WILL GRANT ANY TWO THAT YOU ASK.
"Shenron," Dende began, "A friend of ours has gone missing. Can you locate Tenshinhan?"
Shenron's eyes glowed red. "I CANNOT FIND HIM," he announced after a moment, "THE ONE KNOWN AS TENSHINHAN IS NOT IN THE LIVING REALM."
"Then bring him back to life!" Chiaotzu shouted, then caught himself.
Shenron turned his gaze towards him. "THIS I CANNOT GRANT. TENSHINHAN'S SOUL IS NOT IN OTHERWORLD."
The group shared a look of confusion. "If he's not in the living world and he's not in the Otherworld then where the hell is he?" Frieza muttered.
"Perhaps Dr. Gero has done something to him?" Bulma wondered aloud, "Maybe he's affected his soul in some way that means Shenron can't find him?"
Chiaotzu's hands tightened in fear and concern. 'Ten...' he thought with a renewed stab of guilt, 'where are you right now? Why can't we reach you? Why can't I feel your presence? This is all my fault!'
"Shenron," Bulma addressed the dragon, "Can you tell us the location of Dr. Gero's laboratory?"
"NO," Shenron replied, "THAT WISH HAS BEEN BLOCKED BY THE WILL OF SOMEONE MORE POWERFUL THAN MY CREATOR. CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS BEYOND MY POWER TO DO SO."
"What wish can you grant then?!" Chiaotzu shouted, "What's the use of you if you keep saying no?!"
Shenron's eyes narrowed at him. "YOUR CONCERNS ARE OF NO MATTER TO ME. YOU CAN EITHER ASK SOMETHING THAT I CAN GRANT OR LET ME RETURN TO MY SLEEP."
Dende raised his hand placatingly, placing it on Chiaotzu's trembling shoulder. "There's no point having Shenron hang around. If we need him again we'll summon him again."
"THEN FAREWELL," Shenron replied. He disappeared back into the Dragonballs, which then shot into the air and broke off across the sky. The darkness lifted.
"So that's it, then..?" Chiaotzu muttered, shrugging off Dende's hand and floating pensively to the edge of the Lookout. He let out a frustrated sigh. "Now what?" He heard Goku's steps behind him.
"Hey, relax," Goku reassured, "We'll find him, I promise. In fact, if Shenron can't tell us where Tenshinhan is, I might know someone else who can."
The small human turned around, facing his friend with a look of desperate hope that needed no words to convey.
Goku smiled and said, "I'll go ask Lord Enma. Yeah! If Ten's dead, at least he can tell me if he's seen 'im, an' then we can go from there." He put two fingers to his forehead. "Be right back!"
"You really think...he might be dead?" Yamcha said, trepidation heavy in his voice.
"Doubtful," Piccolo growled, "This wasn't about taking revenge by picking off Goku's allies. This was a staged ambush, and I think we all know what's likely to happen to anyone Gero kidnaps."
Chiaotzu flinched at the harsh words, but bit his lip and said nothing. 'Ten would never...could never become a mindless android enslaved by Dr. Gero...could he?' Before he could follow that disturbing thought's path, a bright orange gi phased back into existence before him.
Goku's face was dour and apologetic. Chiaotzu's face fell at the sight. "Well? Did he see his soul pass through?" Piccolo called, unable to see Goku's expression.
"No, he hasn't seen him," Goku said quietly. He shrugged. "Well," he tried to force a smile, "at least he isn't dead, so there's a chance we can still find him, right? We can—" Goku stopped, halted abruptly by the sound of sniffling.
Tears ran down Chiaotzu's face as he sank to the white tile floor. "H-he's gone! Shenron can't find him, what makes you think we can now?! This is...this is all my fault...i-if I hadn't been there, he could've escaped..!" He covered his face with his hands, rubbing stubbornly at his eyes to try to stem the flow. Bulma and Yamcha silently sat down beside him, putting comforting arms around him as he wept. Goku looked down, gritting his teeth.
Frieza's face was a blank mask. Kooler took note of this as soon as Goku had returned, with a look on his face that spelled failure to find the human. 'He's taking this harder than I expected,' Kooler thought, glancing sideways at his brother's stiff posture and distant eyes. The older Arcosian frowned slightly. 'Another close friend of his might be gone forever, and he's reacting by not reacting, by shutting down. That's always how he has coped with loss, by pretending to feel nothing, even if his emotions are raging beneath the surface,' he thought. Somehow, that worried him. 'I need him to be emotionally stable and present if I'm to train him to access his Fifth Form...if this sets him back, it could be a long time before he's anywhere near capable of resisting the bloodlust of that form.'
After his sobs tapered off into silence, punctuated by the occasional sniff, Chiaotzu stood, pushing away from Bulma and Yamcha. "I... I don't want to go back to our home in the mountains," he stated, "If Gero ambushed us on our way home, he probably knows where it is." The white-skinned human looked down, a mix of grief and embarrassment clouding his childlike features. "I...don't want to be a liability to anyone else, but—"
"Nonsense," Frieza snapped, a little too harshly, "Until I find — and eviscerate — Dr. Gero, you're staying with me. I'd like to see him try to ambush me, the coward," he growled, smacking his tail aggressively into the ground.
"For once, I'm agreeing with Frieza," Piccolo chimed in, "In fact, it might be more prudent for all three of you to stay on the Lookout, especially if you two plan to continue training," he added, looking pointedly at the Arcosian brothers.
"Although I hate to impose, the Namek has a good point," Kooler responded, "My men should be arriving on this planet soon though, so I hope you can accommodate a few more guests."
"We'll see," Piccolo said noncommittally.
"Alright, that means you'll be safe up here," Goku said, nodding at Piccolo, "I think the best thing we can all do right now is train. When Gero shows up again, we'll be ready," he promised Chiaotzu. Turning to Frieza and Kooler, he said, "Hey, why don't you ask Dende if you can train in the magic rooms on the Lookout? I used a few of 'em when I was a kid, but I think perhaps you can benefit from some of the tougher ones, right Piccolo?"
Piccolo gave Goku a sidelong scowl. "I wasn't planning on revealing the rooms' existence to them, but since you've obviously jumped the gun, I suppose I have no choice," he growled.
"Heh, sorry Piccolo," Goku grinned, "Guess right now I'm more worried about Gero than Frieza an' Kooler."
Frieza rolled his eyes. "Honestly, at this point, if I wanted to I could probably kill you, but at this juncture I'm more interested in this Gero character, so for now my vendetta is on hold."
Everyone present at the Lookout shared a glance, then burst out laughing.
"Oh man, you had us going there for a second!" Yamcha guffawed.
"Yeah, you're not a scary bad guy any more," Bulma teased, "You're one of us, and you want Tenshinhan back just as bad as we all do, so quit posturing!"
Frieza crossed his arms, his tail twitching in irritation and embarrassment. "Damn sentimental humans..." he hissed.
"They've got your number, little brother," Kooler ribbed him sarcastically, "Honestly if I didn't witness it, I'd never believe it myse— Oof!" He doubled over from the sudden punch to his gut. "Touchy, touchy," he half-laughed, half-coughed, as the others joined in chuckling at the humorous display.
Sauza leaned back in the pilot's chair, its long-suffering creak from that motion echoing his sigh. "Won't be too long now," he murmured to himself, "Lord Kooler said he wished to meet our new crewmates in person...I daresay he'll be surprised at how capable they are...as well as how strong we have gotten in his absence...". He sat up and curled his white-gloved hand into a fist, feeling the pulse of his ki just beneath the surface. 'Never again,' he thought, 'I will never be too weak to defend my lord in his time of need and vulnerability.'
"Hey Sauza, you're lookin' grim," Doore said as he strolled up behind him, "Thought you were overjoyed to see Lord Kooler again."
"I am," Sauza replied with a forced smirk, unclenching his hand and running it through his platinum hair, "Just on edge, you know. This little planet seems to be a nexus for dangerous enemies to appear, if what Lakasei and the others say holds true. I guess when you put the galaxy's most powerful Arcosians and the last Saiyans on a planet together, they do tend to get some attention."
"So...you think there might be hostiles down there?" the green brute asked, scratching the side of his face.
"I haven't detected anything with the ship's scouters, but we already know that Earthlings can hide their ki, so..." The blue-skinned alien shrugged.
"Great. I hate going in blind..." Doore grunted.
They located a level plateau to set the ship down on, away from any scouter readings of populated zones — all the better to avoid skittish humans. "Come on then, men," Sauza called over his shoulder as he pressed the button to open the ventral hatch, "Lord Kooler awaits, and we are already behind schedule picking up you lot."
"Are we going to Capsule Corporation first?" Mirtiro asked, shaking his head, his feathers puffing up.
"That's the plan," Sauza smirked, "It tends to be the epicenter of activity concerning us, and I already contacted Bulma in orbit, so she has fair warning of our arrival."
"Wait...isn't that where that other Saiyan, Vegeta, is living on this planet?" Lakasei said. His brother, and the other remnants of Turles' group, flinched in unison.
"...Yeah, it is, but we should be okay," Neizu reassured them with a laugh, "From what I hear, all these Earthlings have him under control, if you can believe that."
"Yeah well, you didn't see him execute your leader right in front of you..." Daizu muttered, crossing his arms.
"No, Frieza did that," Sauza quipped in a sour tone, "And despite that, we still return to his company as well, because our master is currently alive, and from the sound of it, doesn't harbor any ill will." He fixed the newest members of his crew with a hard stare. "I don't want any trouble, from any of you. Forget your vendettas with these people, and you might actually learn something." He smiled a bit more graciously, holding up a finger. "Thing is, Doore, Neizu, and I would've been gunning for revenge like you if Son Goku and his lot hadn't set us straight. Now, we are much stronger, because of some handy tips and knowledge we gained on this planet. Do you catch my drift?"
The newcomers nodded, and with that, the ragtag contingency of aliens took off in formation, heading south towards the metropolis of North City.
"Hm? Hey, do you feel that? It's a bunch of strong energies heading right towards us!" Krillin said, standing up in mild alarm.
"Oh, that must be Sauza and his crew," Bulma waved off his concern, "He called me about an hour ago and said they were coming here to rendezvous with Kooler, so I contacted Dende at the Lookout and told him to come over. They've been training for the last half hour here while they wait."
"Oh...okay, that makes sense," the former monk sighed, sitting back down, "Say, do you really think he's actually gonna leave? I had the impression he wants to stick close to Frieza to train."
"I dunno," Bulma shrugged, "With everything that's happened recently, I think everyone's plans are up in the air." The baby monitor at her hip crackled, then Trunks began crying on the other end. "Argh, and I just put him down, too..! He's just like his father; loves the sound of his own voice..." She turned to Krillin. "When they get here bring them out back to the gravity chamber — I think Kooler is still training there with Frieza. Okay?" Without waiting for his confirmation, she turned to hurry upstairs, fussing into the baby monitor.
"Uh, sure, I guess..." Krillin muttered after her. He sighed loudly, feeling the energies approaching the front doors. As they slid open, he looked at the expanded crew of aliens. Sauza, Doore, and Neizu headed up the pack, followed by Mirtiro, Baderma, and Balkin. The two short purple aliens and the one called Daizu warily brought up the rear. 'Those three look cagey. Guess I would be too, considering we just killed their leader not too long ago.' He cleared his throat, bring their attention to him. "Bulma just stepped out, but she said Frieza and Kooler are training in the gravity chamber," he said, pointing back towards the other end of the complex as he rode from the couch, "Come on, you can wait for them outside the chamber — they've been at it for a while, so they've gotta be running out of steam soon."
"Excellent; take us there," Sauza nodded, the others falling into step behind him.
"You're slowing down!" Kooler hissed, slapping Frieza's sluggish punch away, "You really need to work on your stamina, you know that?"
Frieza growled in response, releasing a salvo of energy blasts to gain distance. "Yeah?" he panted, "Well in that case, while we're pointing out flaws, you need to hit harder!" He punctuated that with a punch. Kooler dodged, and Frieza's fist impacted the metal wall, sending a jolt up his arm as the composite structure resounded unpleasantly. "Rrgh..." He shook and flexed his hand, trying to dissipate the pain. "When I actually hit you, you'll wish you hadn't talked so tough."
"If you can hit me," Kooler goaded, "We've barely been training an hour and you're completely exhausted. I'd say it's time to quit while you're still able to stand." With difficulty, he made his way to the control panel and turned the gravity down in increments, feeling the oppressive weight leave his bones. He turned at the sound of a thump, to see the pale Arcosian slouching to the floor, breathing heavily. "See? I told you. You were only still standing because you're so damn stubborn."
"Hmph. You're only still standing because I never struck you with full force," Frieza gasped.
Kooler smiled, and shook his head. 'He puts on a tough facade, and he'd train until he dropped if I wasn't here to rein him in,' he thought. "Well, it's just as well we're through — I believe I have visitors." He nodded at the door, straightening his back and feeling the pleasant crack of his vertebrae shifting back into a normal configuration. "Whenever you pick yourself up off the floor, you ought to say hello." He pushed the button to open the capsule-shaped building's hatch, and sauntered out into the brightness.
"Tch..." Frieza struggled to his feet, swinging his tail out for balance as his legs screamed in protest. After a few moments to catch his breath, he too exited the red-hued chamber.
"Ah, back on your feet already, brother?" Kooler needled, "Maybe you should sit down instead."
"Do not belittle me in front of your minions, Kooler," Frieza hissed, "Unless you'd like me to necessitate your replacement of them." Baderma flinched, and Balkin quickly stepped behind his comrades with an undignified squeak. Frieza's lips curled up in a smile at the sight of the cowering soldiers, his red eyes going from one face to the other, stopping on Daizu and the two Beenz. "Hm. Seems you've amassed a decent number of ragtag fighters, Kooler. Very ambitious of you — even in death, you ceaselessly toil to show me up."
"That was all Sauza's doing, I understand," Kooler chuckled.
With the attention now on him, the blue-skinned captain cleared his throat, gesturing to the new recruits. "Lord Frieza, we have arrived to receive further orders regarding Lord Kooler's plans, and to that end, I took the liberty of adding suitable fighters to our ranks. You have already met these three—" he pointed at Haabu's three survivors "—and these three I believe you are acquainted with as well," he gestured to Turles' remnants.
"Mm, yes, I seem to recall that you were with that rogue Saiyan," Frieza murmured, relishing in how Rasin and Lakasei shrunk away from his gaze. He turned and glared at the Pukinpa warrior. "And you..." he said in a harsher tone, "You're the fool who attempted to tempt me with one of those rotten fruits in a bid to gain my favor and save your own skin." A patronizing smile spread across his face as haughtiness entered his voice. "Still a snivelling rat, pledging loyalty to whoever appears to be the biggest fish in the pond. I'd watch out for this one, brother — he has a track record of betrayal."
Daizu's face reddened with anger, then turned ashen in the next instant as Kooler fixed hm with a questioning glare. "D-don't slander me like that!" he growled, "Turles was a petty pirate, and a Saiyan besides. I wasn't lying when I told you that my loyalty's always been to the PTO and its leaders!"
"Well, that's a problem," Kooler said calmly, "As of now, there are no PTO leaders left. Frieza has denounced his claim to all territories, and I...well, according to the law, my authority was dissolved by default when I died. So," he stepped closer to the man, whose face was dotted with sweat, "Can you be loyal to me, and not the organization I once represented?" He watched Daizu's face, as tense seconds passed.
The Pukinpa swallowed, his brows drawing down. Then, he nodded. "Yes. I may not have met you before this day, but I know of you from your crew, and if what they say is true, you're a far more honorable master than any I have served. I would have neither desire nor need to desert or double-cross you, Lord Kooler. On my honor." He placed his fist over his heart and knelt, head bowed.
The taller Arcosian made a slight sound of amusement. "Fine, I accept your pledge," Kooler said, "I trust my captain's judgement, and at any rate, if you should defect from my service, it will be a small matter to track you down and execute you." He met eyes with the others. "That goes for all of you, too. I may have a reputation for being more permissible than my younger brother, but one thing I have never tolerated is insubordination or disloyalty. As long as none of you entertain any wild ideas of overthrowing me or interfering with my plans, you're welcome in my Armored Squadron."
Neizu balked, "B-but my lord! Sauza, Doore, and I are your Armored Squadron!"
Kooler turned to the outburst, cocking a bony brow. "Oh, so you are. I suppose with more than a skeleton crew, we shall have to devise different designations for the others. Since you brought it up, that will be your responsibility, Neizu."
The sienna-skinned alien grinned. "Yes sir! Proud to serve you, and...I'm...glad you're back, Lord Kooler."
Frieza snickered at the positively sappy look the three original crewmates gave — which, despite his stony face, Kooler genuinely seemed to revel in, if his curled-up tail was any indication. "What loyal fools you have," he deadpanned, "If they weren't so weak, it would almost be impressive."
"No disrespect meant, but we've been training," Doore grinned, "By the way, when would you like to depart, Lord Kooler? I imagine you're tired of this little backwater planet, right?"
Kooler hesitated, looking from his men to his brother. 'Before recent events, I would have left immediately. But now, with Frieza's friend kidnapped, I worry that it could put him into an uncontrollable state, especially if he were to access the Fifth Form too quickly in burst of rage, as he did before. Hmph. I suppose the prudent decision is obvious...' He sighed. "I appreciate you coming this quickly to rendezvous with me, but I'm afraid some things have transpired that make it difficult for me to leave at this time. There's an enemy on this planet that we cannot sense, and that alone makes him far more dangerous than I'd like. I cannot leave this planet in good conscience until he is confirmed dead. You understand, Sauza," he addressed his captain.
"Of course, sir," the Brench nodded, "Then, we will stay and provide support to you when you confront him. In the meantime, what are your immediate orders?"
Kooler hummed in thought, before a chipper voice broke his concentration. "Oh! Hi Sauza! I didn't know you guys had already made it here, that was fast!" Bulma smiled warmly at Mirtiro, who fluffed up his face at the gesture. "Did I hear that you guys are staying here to help beat Dr. Gero?"
Kooler furrowed his brows. "Yes, and I was debating whether to have them standby in orbit on the ship, or—"
"Nonsense, we've got plenty of room here, and space for all of you to train besides," Bulma said, waving him off, "Besides, while you're deciding what your next move is, you may as well hang out. I've been wanting to catch up with Neizu and Sauza with some questions about scouter technology anyway."
"Yeah, sure, that sounds perfect," the blond alien laughed, "Though I hope you don't plan on picking our brains the whole time. We've got to train to keep ahead of these new recruits!"
Daizu gave him a cocky smirk. "Keep ahead? We couldn't really spar at full power on the ship; what makes you think I'm any weaker than you?"
Sauza shrugged lazily. "Oh, nothing. Just that I was never an underling of a monkey, at any point in my long career." Frieza hid a laugh behind his metal hand as Daizu's face practically turned maroon with indignance.
"Well, if you really wanna duke it out, the Gravity Chamber's open," Bulma thumbed over at the large capsule.
"No it isn't," a gruff voice rang out behind her. "I've been waiting over an hour, and I'm not relinquishing my training slot to a gaggle of weaklings." Vegeta glowered at the newcomers.
"Oh, hi Vegeta," Bulma said, unphased, "I forgot you'd been moping around the house while Frieza and Kooler trained. I'm sure these guys have had a long trip, so they'll be happy to let you beat yourself senseless for a bit while they relax. You guys can train later, I promise," she said to the aliens, " Just be sure to engage the auto-clean feature and get all the blood out of the Gravity Chamber. Vegeta's always rough on himself in there."
"Will do," Sauza replied, "Although, I wouldn't mind testing to see how strong I've gotten, compared to you, Vegeta," the Brench said, flashing a genuine smile at the Saiyan. "After that skirmish out in space, seeing your power, I've been pushing myself. Care to see how I measure up?"
"No," Vegeta snorted bluntly, "That was a one-time deal, and I don't give a damn about how strong you are now. Any training with you would be meaningless to me." With that, he stomped up the gangplank to the Gravity Chamber and slammed the heavy door shut.
"Wow, rude," Bulma said, glaring a hole in the chamber's door. "Sorry guys, he's just like that. If you want a training partner though, maybe Master Roshi and Krillin can finally get off of their lazy bums and do something for once. I'm sure they'll oblige you!"
"Thank you, Bulma," Sauza said graciously, "Well, I suppose that settles it. We train here, with the humans."
"Yeah, but don't we have to hold back, so we don't cream 'em?" Lakasei piped up sarcastically.
"You idiot, that Krillin guy is the one who defeated Amond!" Rasin elbowed him with a hiss.
"Oh, right..." Lakasei muttered, crossing his arms over his sore ribs, "Fine, fine..."
"Now that that's settled, I vote that we get some Earth food," Doore suggested, "It's, uh, wise to preserve our rations on the ship, after all." The others fixed him with a pointed look of disbelief, before Sauza let out a mirthful laugh.
"Splendid idea, Doore, though I somehow doubt your only motive is to preserve our rations," he jibed, "Indeed, as I recall the food on this planet is quite excellent, from what we've heard." He turned to Kooler, smiling. "Will you join us, my lord? Catching up on our reports in your absence is much less tedious over a meal, no?"
The dark-skinned Arcosian gave a thin smile in reply. "I believe you should ask Bulma, not me, but if she agrees to feed you, I won't turn down the hospitality." He flicked his tail up, looking sideways at the human.
"Well, with Saiyans going in and out of this place constantly, one thing we do have is a reliable supply of food for guests," the blue-haired human shrugged gamely, "Come on boys — kitchen's this way."
"So those guys are part of Kooler's crew now, huh?" Yamcha said, observing each new alien around the lunch table, "Some of them are a lot stronger than I remember." He shrugged and cracked open another can of Hetap, leaning back in his chair. "At least they're nice to Bulma, and not trying to murder or intimidate us at every turn," he muttered, taking a long swig and sighing. "Man, I just don't get it. She's rich, attractive, and smart, and yet she jumped on Vegeta of all people...I just don't understand the appeal..!" He shook his head vigorously, growling. "He doesn't even try to disguise his hatred for all of us, and she...she... Argh... I just can't wrap my head around it!" Another swig of beer. "And you just know, for all the posturing Vegeta does, about being a prince, and an elite, and whatever the hell else, he's just trash. Dishonorable, worthless, trash! Tell me, how can a guy like him even have a chance with Bulma? He's just using her, and he's waiting for an opportunity to kill Goku, and it's so messed up... I know I'm not the only one who feels like this either; Krillin's had it out for him as long as I have, and he even died trying to save his worthless a** when the androids beat him all to s—-t. He's hurt every one of us, personally, and that's what burns me up so much, you know? He's a murderous thug, and he doesn't deserve to— Ghhk!" He dropped the almost-empty can and beat at the tail wrapped around his throat.
Frieza glared at his struggling impassively. "You wretched little humans are possessed of tongues that lead you into trouble, blind fools like yourself especially," he hissed, his tail tightening, its snared prey's scrabbling resistance pitifully impotent, "I've listened to your inanities for long enough. Now, for your own good, listen closely now." Frieza wrenched Yamcha out of his chair, forcing him to his knees, allowing eye contact. "I despise that upstart monkey more than anyone, but I also respect him in equal measure; his intelligence, his wit, his tactical brilliance, his skill, and yes, even his foolish Saiyan pride, for all the grief it gains him, still has its admirable points." The human's face was taking on a blue tinge, but Frieza didn't relent, he just leaned in closer and snarled, "What's more, I practically raised him into the man he is today, which you might say is the reason why I will not tolerate vermin like you passing judgment on a superior being and warrior who is, to be frank, so much more than you could ever hope to be. So curb your petty indictments in the future— you haven't earned the right to cast them, and never will. Now get out of my sight!" A flick of the tail sent the gasping, insolent human sailing away and Frieza stalked off, deeply angry at himself for accidentally defending Vegeta's honor. 'Tch...chastising that stupid human was a necessary evil, but regardless of my pride, he has no right to speak ill of Vegeta,' he reasoned, still fuming in the wake of the outburst. Why the bitter human deigned to whine about Vegeta to him, of all people, Frieza couldn't fathom. 'Perhaps he thought me sympathetic, or thanks to Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu, more amenable to listening to him ramble. Regardless, I had to set him straight.'
Unbeknownst to Frieza, Vegeta stood just behind the threshold, and heard every word of this exchange. He had half-planned to wait and jump in when the human had finished his slandering, and break a few choice bones in the weaker man's face. However, it seemed Frieza had beat him to the punch. 'So, Frieza allows me some grudging respect after all,' he thought, 'Damn him.' In a twisted, self-loathing sort of way, he was perversely glad that his former mentor didn't totally dismiss him the way he so very convincingly pretended to...but on the other hand, the very thought of doing anything that tyrant considered laudable made him seethe. 'Just another sign that I need to change and adapt,' he told himself, 'If for no other reason, than to get out from under Frieza's shadow of influence!' He growled under his breath, determined to keep up his continued insinuation into Kakarot's circle of friends. 'That too,' he reminded himself, 'is an area where I must compete with him, and he has had a head start on worming his way in...curses, I'm a warrior, I'm not meant to sneak and skulk around pretending to be their ally!' He was interrupted when Bulma started through the doorway, caught sight of him, and involuntarily jumped.
The genius' eyes went wide, as she clapped a hand to her heart. "Oh! Vegeta, you scared me! What are you doing, lurking in the doorway? I swear, you're gonna give me a heart attack someday doing that," she chided, "I was just coming to get you out of that gravity chamber anyway though — it's time for lunch, so come over and sit down with the rest of us. Be sociable, or at least try, if you're capable." She flashed him that infuriating smile of challenge, before going back to the table. She sat down, and patted the empty chair beside her in mock invitation. "Hey Vegeta, come join us!" she called, loud enough for everyone to take notice.
'Woman, you have no idea how sociable I can be, if pressed,' Vegeta thought, stifling his urge to power up and destroy something. This was a challenge he intended to meet, and ultimately conquer. It was just for appearances, anyway. He stiffly stalked over to the table, and took a seat.
Frieza sat with his eyes shut. His legs were crossed over and his tail was wrapped around his body, the tip resting lightly in front of his feet. His arms were crossed. There was a slight twitch to his eyes as he concentrated.
"Relax yourself," Kooler said. He stood in front of Frieza, observing his brother closely, his tail swinging behind him.
Frieza took a deep breath through his nose and let it out slowly through slightly parted lips. His posture untensed and his eyelids relaxed.
"Good, good. Now maintain that feeling." Kooler lashed out with his tail and slapped Frieza's cheek. The pale Arcosian's face screwed up in anger as he instantly growled, body readying to retaliate. "No!" Kooler shouted, "You need to remain relaxed. Calm!"
"I can't do that if you're hitting me!" Frieza protested, opening his eyes and glaring at his brother.
"That's the whole point of this training; it's to maintain the calm even if there are distractions." Kooler hunched down wearily, his tail beginning to twist with annoyance. "I'm trying to teach you to use your Fifth Form. To maintain control of it requires more than just being able to punch harder or move faster. It requires a control over your mind. Or else you'll lose yourself in the rage and the madness that it brings. Like I did."
"But I have enough trouble relaxing and letting go as it is!" Frieza burst, standing up with his arms stiffly at his side, fists clenched, tail lashing.
Kooler sighed and sat down in front of Frieza, motioning for him to do the same. "Is your mind still on Tenshinhan?" he asked after a moment, when Frieza resumed his meditative posture.
Frieza hesitated. His eyes narrowed, and his jaw twitched with a telltale clenching of the muscles.
'Old habits die hard...' Kooler thought as he sighed, rolling his eyes. "Brother, it's just me. We've discussed this; you don't need to keep up the 'cold, distant, monster' routine with me anymore."
Frieza sighed and turned his head away, avoiding eye contact. "I am...worried. Not to have heard anything. And none of the others know what to do either, not even Goku. I don't like just having to sit around doing nothing, but that's all that we can do and it frustrates me." He paused. "This Dr. Gero...I don't know much about him, but he sounds bad. Like Ratsura bad. You remember him I presume?"
Kooler swallowed as the image of a glinting, pale eye and the echo of that high, haughty laugh passed through his mind. "I have no wish to..." He turned his head. "But I see what you're getting at. This place...it's hard to avoid those memories here. Perhaps if there was somewhere else we could go to train...somewhere with less distractions?" Kooler pondered a moment and then gave his brother a side-eye. "As I have no knowledge of this place, I'm really waiting for you to jump in with a suggestion here."
Frieza huffed and got to his feet. "I'm as much a stranger here as you, brother. For some reason the Namek and some of the others were not very keen on my visiting this place. Anyway, someone around here is bound to know of a good place we could go," Frieza said, "We'll go ask one of them."
"I believe the short bald person was working with Sauza today, he might be worth asking," Kooler suggested helpfully, grunting as he too got to his feet.
The swirling disc of energy leapt forward and slashed neatly through the stone, like a sharp knife through salmon. The cut was fine and so perfect that the top of the stone rested on top of the bottom, with only a thin, dark line indicating that it had been cut at all. Krillin dissipated the Kienzan and turned to Sauza, who was looking on, impressed.
"I see," the Brench said, "Your control of the energy is...perfect. It's much more refined than other versions of the technique that I've seen. If thrown from behind, the enemy would never know it was coming."
"Yeah, it's an angle I've really perfected," Krillin replied, a little embarrassed at the praise, "Previously it used to make a buzzing noise, but now the control over the energy I've got it keeps it nearly silent. If I could just reduce the charge time on it, I'd be able to combine it with another technique of mine and make an ultimate killing combo."
"Certainly." Sauza looked down at his hand. "I wouldn't like to test my blade against yours. I'm not sure I'd come out of that one well. With that technique you could potentially be the most deadly of all your allies, non? You could kill them with this."
Krillin laughed. "Nah, they'd be able to sense it coming and dodge. Though I could probably get Frieza with it — I nearly did before, back on Namek."
"You're joking?" Sauza's eyes widened in astonishment. He crossed his arms and smirked, deadpanning, "You almost killed Frieza. You're truly serious about this."
"Yeah," Krillin chuckled self-consciously, "It's a long story, but the short version is that he thought I was dead so I managed to get in a sneak attack position. He only heard it coming at the last minute and just managed to get out of the way. But I got a sizable chunk of his tail."
Sauza roared with laughter. "Ah! That's great! I would have killed to have seen his face at that moment!"
"Well I couldn't do that, but I could give you a dramatic recreation of what Krillin looked like when I got my hands on him..."
Sauza froze in horror and slowly turned his head to find an annoyed Frieza and an amused Kooler standing behind him. "L-Lord Frieza, I..." Sauza stuttered, "I meant n-no…" He looked to Kooler for support, but the older Arcosian merely shook his head softly whilst trying to hold back his laughter.
Frieza gave a dark laugh and stepped forward, patting Sauza on the shoulder. "Ah, if you could see your face Sauza, it brings back such sweet memories. But worry not, I'm not concerned with blowing up minions for disrespect anymore." He gave his shoulder a quick, but painful squeeze as he glared at Krillin. "Mostly anyway. But if I were you two, I wouldn't push it."
Sauza stepped back, rubbing his shoulder uncomfortably and breathing a shaky sigh of relief. 'Mon dieu, I need to learn that energy sensing trick, if only to help keep myself alive,' he thought, his heart still pounding.
"You're actually the one I want to talk to," Frieza said, addressing Krillin.
Krillin crossed his arms and tilted his head. He'd grown more comfortable in Frieza's presence, and while he still felt nervous when the Arcosian was around, he no longer felt the same rush of anxiety and burgeoning panic that he did in the past. "Sure, is there something I can help you with?"
Frieza blinked, slightly annoyed that his intimidation had failed on the human. "I am...looking for a place to train. Somewhere without so many distractions."
"Hmm..." Krillin touched his finger to his chin. "Can you be a bit more specific? Like, what kind of training do you need?"
"Mental mostly," Kooler chipped in.
Krillin nodded. "Then I know just the place!"
Piccolo crossed his arms. "Do you mind if I ask whose idea this was?"
"The bald one, uh, Krillin, I think," Kooler replied, trying to curry favor with the stern green man glowering at him. "He said that this would be the perfect place for training the mind. That you have...special facilities of some sort here."
"Oh yes, we do..." Piccolo replied cryptically.
"So? Can we make use of them or not?" Frieza asked a little impatiently, not liking the Namekian's tone.
"I couldn't say. I'm not in charge here...you'll have to ask Dende," Piccolo said, jerking his thumb at the child Namek who had also come out into the hallway to meet them. He privately took pleasure in the sour look that crossed Frieza's face.
Dende glanced up at Piccolo, catching the slight smile on his face. "Um, well, I don't have any objections that I can think of," he replied neutrally, "I mean, them getting stronger isn't any trouble to us is it? What do you think?"
"These were two of the most feared galactic tyrants and monsters that have ever existed. Personally, putting them through these rooms sounds like it'll be the most fun I've had in years," Piccolo said with a hint of biting mirth. As he said this he glanced at the two brothers and something like the old Demon King's smile crossed his face.
Kooler and Frieza shared a worried look.
"In that case I guess the Lookout is yours to use," Dende said with a much-too-cheery smile.
"Thank you," Kooler said, inclining his head, "We promise not to be too much trouble to you."
Frieza humphed and crossed his arms. "Don't genuflect too much brother— though you may have never personally benefitted, you are a prince of Arcos."
"Noted, but my attitude afforded me many more connections through mutual respect than yours cultivated through fear and spite," Kooler countered swiftly.
Frieza was about to retort when Piccolo raised his hand to get their attention, adopting a more serious disposition. "Before you rush into training, there's a couple of rules. Chiefly and most importantly, you must listen to what I tell you. While you're here you can think of me as your master. Now, I won't be training you, but what Mr. Popo and I tell you will be important. The rooms here...they can be strange. They can be dangerous. And they can break you as much as they can make you. So be careful, pay attention, and, above all, don't take anything lightly."
"Hmph, I think we can handle whatever a few Namekian magic rooms can throw at us," Frieza remarked.
Piccolo shook his head. "You're physically strong, yes. But mentally? That's a different matter. The Lookout is ancient, and whatever its origins, it predates the tenure of all the previous Guardians, including Kami and Dende. Whatever magic it uses, if that is what it is, it isn't Namekian, so if you run into trouble, we may not be able to help you. I doubt all the metaphorical demons have been exorcised from both of you. And the ones that remain... Well, we'll see." Piccolo spun on his heel, his cape swirling behind him. "Now come on, you might be here some time so I'll show you to where you'll be staying."
The two Arcosians followed him. As they walked, Frieza felt some apprehension begin to trickle down his spine. 'I wonder...just what have I gotten myself into here?' He glanced at Kooler, keeping pace with him. 'Whatever the danger, I should at least be able to rely on Kooler's strength and abilities, on top of my own,' he resolved.
Over the succeeding two months Kooler and Frieza subjected themselves to the rooms within the Lookout. In them they faced different challenges. There were rooms which featured extreme temperature changes, where their ki control was the only thing that kept them from freezing or boiling in the mercurial air. Next there were rooms which provided windows and gateways into strange dimensions, twisted, confusing, labyrinthine in their complexity. Although Frieza never made the leap to ki-sensing, Kooler's abilities were significantly heightened, allowing them to at least stay together and find the exit. All of the rooms provided both physical and mental challenges. After each one they emerged stronger and with a greater clarity of mind. Piccolo offered guidance and even grudging encouragement, but, though they passed each room, each test, something still seemed to lurk within them, and all three of them sensed it. Something that neither Arcosian seemed to want to acknowledge or confront…
They sat down to eat. For Frieza and Kooler this was a selection of fine meats, fruits, and even wine, whilst Piccolo and Dende drank only water. Mr. Popo contented himself with a bowl of plain rice, observing the others with the quiet focus of an ascetic monk.
"I am, I confess, curious," Kooler said after a moment, "Why are you all so keen to help us? Do you not worry about creating potentially stronger enemies out of us?"
"I don't know about keen..." Piccolo replied. He swirled his water around before drinking it. "But I think we're past the point where I would consider you two to be enemies. Frieza has helped out several times. And, though he may stubbornly resist it, I know that he has some attachment to us. Perhaps not to me, but definitely to Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu."
Frieza's tail tapped irritably, but he nodded his head. "There would seem to be little point in denying it, but you are correct that they're the only ones I have any affinity for," he added defensively.
"I take it Tenshinhan's disappearance still occupies your thoughts?" Dende asked, "Goku and the others don't know what's happened to him?"
"Yes," Frieza said in a hollow tone, "to have not heard anything at all, and with all of you apparently unable to find him...that is what worries me."
"This Dr. Gero resembles someone," Kooler added, "Someone we both have rather bad memories of and would prefer not to reflect on. If that resemblance is more than passing then...I imagine Frieza has legitimate grounds for that worry."
Piccolo leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. The image of Android 18 came unbidden to his head; what she'd said, the suffering he'd felt from her. "I worry too," he said after a moment, "And I'm angry that I can't do anything about this. But getting into a rage won't do any good." He met the eyes of Kooler and Frieza. "But, it may make things difficult for you. Tomorrow I'm going to take you to the final room. I think you're ready for it."
"The final room?" Kooler turned his head.
"Yes. It's not the last room of the Lookout, but it's the last one that you'll be visiting," Piccolo stated.
"And what does this one do?" Frieza asked.
"There's nothing we can say for now," Dende interrupted gently, "Telling you in advance...might alter what happens."
"Just rest well," Mr. Popo put in, speaking for the first time, "That will be all the preparation that you will need."
Dende, Piccolo, and Mr. Popo led the way through the Lookout, with Kooler and Frieza following behind. They were silent and the atmosphere was somber, with a hint of anxiety coming from the two Arcosian brothers. Finally, after several minutes of walking, they arrived at a door. Nondescript, a single door, set into the wall. Mr. Popo walked up to it and pulled it open. It slid open silent, without even so much as a creak. Beyond was darkness, a deep, drawing darkness that seemed almost to loom and make a noise. Mr. Popo beckoned Frieza and Kooler forward. "Whoever enters this room," Mr. Popo said after a moment, "will have to fight their own inner demons, manifest."
"Inner demons?" Frieza asked.
"Manifest?" Kooler intoned.
"Yes," the genie nodded sagely, "Although, it doesn't always happen. Son Goku once entered here as part of his training. However, nothing showed up."
Piccolo snorted. "Of course..."
"Are you ready?" Mr. Popo asked.
They exchanged a look. Then Frieza took a decisive step forward and crossed the threshold. Kooler moved to follow but paused before crossing over. "This room..." he asked, "Is there a way out?"
"Yes," Piccolo said, "But only one way."
"Hmm...Interesting…" Kooler let a small smile cross his lips, before he too disappeared over the threshold into darkness.
Mr. Popo shut the door.
Darkness. Deep, unfathomable, ubiquitous in its absoluteness. A sensation akin to falling, the lurching in the stomach, though their feet stayed rooted to the solid floor beneath them. "Where should we go?" Kooler asked.
"Forwards, of course," Frieza replied. He took an uncertain step forward, but the floor remained beneath him. "Whichever way is forwards. Undoubtedly this room will make itself appear to us sooner or later."
They walked. They walked perhaps for hours, perhaps for miles, perhaps for no time or distance at all. And then...it all changed. Gradually the floor they walked on took shape. The world around them stretched, becoming elegant spired buildings rising high. The floor became a street, stretching forward and leading to a magnificent white building that stood grand, with banners trailing down from it. "The Council chambers..." Kooler breathed.
"Why here?" Frieza said. He looked around, gazing at the streets that he only vaguely remembered. The whole place was empty, quiet. Not another living thing seemed to be present.
"Perhaps we'll have to face the council members in some sort of trial?" Kooler wondered, "It would seem to be the logical outcome of appearing here."
As they spoke they carried on walking, getting closer and closer to the Council entrance. Then, when they were a few meters away from the steps leading up to the front entrance, the great doors of Council opened. King Kold emerged. He wore his battle armor, his cape spreading out around his body. His arms were crossed and he had the focused, hard look that they had come to know so well. The sight of their father's familiar Second Form made both brothers pause as a dark feeling of anxiety gripped them both. "Well, I guess that this makes more sense than the council..." Kooler muttered.
A small smile crossed Frieza's lips and his eyes narrowed in hatred. "This, it seems, is our true enemy..." As if on cue, Kold suddenly charged forward, closing the gap between them in seconds, and let swing with a heavy punch. Frieza caught the blow and the shock wave roared out, cutting the street apart and smashing the buildings around them. With barely a pause Frieza swung his body and his tail slammed into Kold's side, shattering the armor and sending their father hurtling through a building.
Kooler leapt after him and fired an energy blast at Kold as he struggled to rise. The energy blast detonated and took out close to the whole area, sending ash, rubble, and fire swirling into the air. Frieza landed beside Kooler and they surveyed the area around them. "Did you get him?" Frieza asked.
"Yes," Kooler replied, still looking around, "But that blast shouldn't have been strong enough to vaporize him."
"Where the hell has he gone then?" Frieza snapped.
"I don't know. Be on the lookout, he's no match for us like this but we don't want to give him an opportunity to transform," Kooler said, curling his fists unconsciously. There was no reply. "Frieza?" Kooler looked over his shoulder and found himself facing a wall. The wall was enormous, stretching to the horizon and up to the sky...and beyond. 'There's no end to it! It covers everything!' Kooler realized in horror. "Frieza!"
"I'm here!" Frieza shouted from the other side of the wall, "What just happened?"
"I don't...hang on!" Kooler fired a blast at the wall. The blast erupted, but when the smoke cleared the wall still stood, without so much as a scratch on it. Kooler grimaced. "It looks like we won't be breaking through this wall...The room must want us separated."
"Kh! You're just not trying hard enough!" Frieza threw a punch at the wall. His fist collided with it, but the wall did not budge, nor did Frieza feel any pain or reaction in his hand. He stepped back and examined his fist. 'What is that wall? It's like it's not physical, it's just..there...but what..?' He scrutinized the wall, with the sudden sense of deja vu. 'I'm on...an old carrier ship?'
The sound was soft, but as soon as he heard it Frieza tensed. His eyes went wide and his tail stiffened. That sound...it was a sound he knew. A sound he knew deep in his body. Sweat poured down him as he slowly turned around, his eyes bulging, his breath coming in short rapid bursts—
The Saiyans. The Saiyans. They moved down the corridor of the ship, crushing the eggs in their incubators as they went. The refugee Arcosians sobbed and wailed, and were punched and shoved up against the walls of the ship when they clung desperately to the round bundles in their arms. One who tried to resist was killed, his head taken off with one clean sweep of a bladed hand. Spinning on the axis of one horn, the decapitated head tumbled to Frieza's feet, the eyes and mouth open in a pitiable plea: "Why did you not save your people?" it seemed to say, jaw numbly mouthing the unspoken accusation.
Frieza jumped away from the disembodied head, and collapsed onto the floor, hyperventilating and quaking. His tail curled around him and he raised his hands to his head, covering himself, shielding his eyes. 'If I...If I can't see them...Maybe— maybe they can't... They can't see me...'
"Frieza!" Kooler banged on the wall, "What's going on? Can you hear me?!" There was no response. Kooler cursed and swung around. His eyes widened. Before him stood his father, in his Third Form now, the cranium stretching back, hunched over slightly, with spikes protruding from his body. They were in an arena-like space, one that Kooler vaguely recognized. 'I see now...this is where my humiliation first began...' he thought as he finally recognized the place where Frieza had been proclaimed heir. The eldest prince growled, his anger stirring. "Picking us off one by one huh?" Kooler spat, "Well too bad for you you came after the strongest brother. I'll tear you to shreds!" With a roar Kooler launched himself forward and struck at Kold.
The massive Arcosian blocked the blow and then followed up with a kick, striking Kooler in the stomach. The breath rushed out of him as Kooler crashed into the far wall and bounced back to the floor. Kooler leapt to his feet and launched a furious attack at Kold, striking, kicking, lashing out with his tail. All of his attacks were either expertly dodged or blocked, with a few counterattacks sneaking past Kooler's guard and smacking him on the body and in the head. Eventually Kooler was forced back, his offense turned into a desperate defense, before a strong swipe of Kold's tail sent him crashing into the wall again, in an echo of that disastrous day.
Kooler collapsed to his knees and pulled his body up, fighting with every scrap of spite to stay conscious. His eyes widened as Kold stood in front of him and then grabbed him by the throat, hauling him up. Kooler stared directly into his father's cold, maddened eyes.
"Such a disappointment..." Kold hissed. "Though I never expected much from you."
"Disappointment?" Kooler sneered, "Well, why should I want to impress a monster like you?!" Kooler roared, and the burst of energy knocked Kold back, releasing his grip on Kooler. The dark-skinned Arcosian's roar continued, growing in power, as his body bulked up and keratin emerged over his chest and shoulders, his cranium stretching and expanding into points, before a mask slid over his mouth. Kooler, in his Fifth Form, dropped to the ground. He paused for a moment, regarding his father, then he shot forward. Kold raised a desperate arm and was just able to block Kooler's punch, but the force of it sent him skidding back and left him open for the follow-up kick that took him in the side.
With a scream of anger Kold fought back and the two exchanged a succession of blows. But for each one that Kold landed, Kooler landed three. For each one he blocked, Kooler blocked four. The tide of the battle began to turn, and Kooler landed a stunning blow to Kold's chest that sent him stumbling back, before he followed it up with a beam of energy that ripped through his father's shoulder. Kold collapsed to the ground, blood pumping from his wound, and Kooler leapt up into the air and arced downwards, preparing to deliver the finishing blow—
His fist swung through empty space. Kooler whirled, staring around him, trying to see where his father had gone. But the place was now dark. Only the impassive wall remained. "Damn this place..." he snarled.
'If I can't see them, they can't see me, if I can't see them, they can't see me, if I can't see them, they—'
"What do we have here?"
A huge hand grabbed him by the throat, raised him up, and slammed him against the wall. Frieza's hands scrambled at the arm but he couldn't get any purchase on it — it was as though he couldn't get his fingers around the wrist at his throat. The grip was too strong, and no amount of wriggling or struggling was able to shift him. He looked down, his mouth pulling back into a grimace of terror, his eyes bulging as King Vegeta glared up at him.
"Just a boy," the King sneered. "A powerless, helpless, crying boy."
"N-no, I-I'm not— I didn't—"
"Powerless..." King Vegeta leaned in closer, "And that's all you'll ever be against those like me," he whispered.
Frieza tried to draw himself back. His hands dropped, going limp. He could feel his resistance fading, feel the power fading out from him. 'What use is there? I can't do anything. I don't have any power...' Deeper and deeper he seemed to sink, down into a darkness—
The voice cut through him. It was faint, but it was one that he recognized. 'Kooler! He's still here. Wait... Of course he is...' Frieza looked down at King Vegeta. His hand suddenly snapped up and grabbed the king's wrist. Vegeta looked surprised and strained, but Frieza exerted more power and began to pull his hand off. "Kooler saved me last time," he said, his voice growing strong and angry. "He came in a fighter plane and saved my life, and then he came to find me. But this time... This time I don't need him to save me." Frieza threw King Vegeta back against the wall. He rose up in the air and looked down at the Saiyans that surrounded him, as they looked up at him in astonishment. "I am more than powerful enough to take care of all of you! You don't scare me!" He laughed and stretched out his fingers and a series of Death Beams fired out from the tips, striking the Saiyans around him. Some were caught in the heart and died immediately, others were caught in limbs and sides and fell howling with pain to the floor. Frieza rose higher and higher, his grin growing broader and broader as the ship blew apart around him and Saiyan blood bubbled and ran through the corridors of the ship. "You don't scare me anymore!" he shouted, "And you have no hold over me anymore!"
Frieza's head snapped to the side, and he saw Kooler running towards him. He looked back and saw that the ship was gone. All that was left was darkness. His feet were on solid ground. "Kooler..?" Frieza clutched at his head, feeling disoriented. "What... What happened? Where did..?"
"I don't know. That wall came between us and then I was fighting Father in his Third Form." Kooler cursed and looked away, and Frieza noticed that he was in his Fifth Form. "I was just about to kill the bastard when he suddenly disappeared. Then I heard you calling out to me, or so I thought, and I tried to find you, and then the wall just suddenly disappeared." Kooler looked down at his younger brother. "What happened with you?"
"I... It was the ship and I…" He took in a deep breath. "It was the Saiyans. During the war." His face contorted into a snarl and his fists shook. His tail struck the indistinct ground, producing a harsh echo. "Those ones that tormented me. But I killed them! I killed all of them! They weren't going to hurt me, not this time! Not this time!" His teeth chattered as he sucked in short, gasping breaths, his whole body trembling with rage and adrenaline.
"Frieza! Calm down!" Kooler placed his hand on his brother's shoulder and squeezed gently, drawing him back to reality. "You're okay. I'm here. Nothing is going to get you. The Saiyans are gone."
Frieza shut his eyes and shook his head, shudders subsiding until he leaned limply against Kooler's shoulder for support. "Yes... Yes they're gone, they were... They were never..." Suddenly, there was a blast of warmth, carried on a gust of wind. He opened his eyes and found himself looking on a wasteland. It was arid, with wind whipping around them and stone walls rising in a maze of canyons on all sides. His ship, the ship he taken to Earth, stood before them. "No!" Frieza shouted, "No, I've had enough!" He turned his head up to the sky. "I've had enough of this stupid room! Let us out!"
"There's no point Frieza," Kooler said, quietly but forcefully, "Shouting won't get us out of here. There's only one way to get out of here and that's to continue on with whatever we have to do to 'exorcise our demons,' or whatever the Namek said." Frieza's body shook, and Kooler grabbed his shoulder, spun him around, and slapped him across the cheek. "We're together now," he ground out forcefully, "Now get it together, and let's face this last part together."
Frieza made a low growling noise, but then swallowed and nodded his head, rubbing his stinging cheek sullenly. There was a soft whine issuing from the ship and the door opened and descended to the ground, creating a gangway.
Kooler tensed. "I've got a good idea of what's coming next..."
They heard footsteps, approaching from the inside of the ship. Heavy footsteps. Both brothers readied themselves...and then their eyes widened. The figure that emerged was their father, as they had suspected. But their father was as neither of them had ever seen him before. He was in his Fourth Form, and he resembled Frieza...at least at first glance. He was taller, wider, more powerful. His eyes locked onto them and glared smoldering holes in their souls, excavating their deepest insecurities. A great pressure wave swept over the wasteland and imposed on Kooler and Frieza, practically choking them.
"That's...Father..." Frieza gasped, taking a step back.
"That must be his Fourth Form," Kooler said. He grinned and raised his fist. "Interesting...I did always want to test myself against him at his full power, now that I've mastered my Fifth Form. I wonder how accurate this Room is—"
Kold suddenly let out a roar, and an enormous explosion of energy rocked the area. The ship exploded and a huge cloud of dust ripped up and blasted out like a pyroclastic flow, slamming into Frieza and Kooler. They raised their arms and grimaced, shielding their eyes against the rock and sand. The dense cloud passed away. Frieza lowered his arms and he let out a gasp, his eyes widening. Kold hovered over an enormous crater. His body had bulked up considerably, but was still lean. A small aura of power rippled and sparkled around his outline, like the haze of a deadly mirage.
"Good, good," Kooler smirked, settling himself into his combat stance. "I'm glad we can skip the obligatory warming u—" His body shook. Kold was just past him, his fist planted in his chest and Kooler's arms and legs spread forward as the force of the punch lifted him off his feet. He seemed to hang in the air for a long moment, and then Kold's fist drove through and Kooler shot backwards like a rocket, slamming into a large rock, spinning through another one before skipping off the ground and finally crashing into a canyon wall.
"Kooler, are you a—" Frieza's cry was cut off as Kold's tail slammed into his side, sending him plowing along the ground. 'The force from the strike..! I can't—!' With a grimace, Frieza dug his hands into the ground and arrested his slide. He hauled himself to his feet and let loose with a series of Death Beams. His father shot forward, dodging around each of the beams with ease. Frieza swore and threw up his arms defensively, readying himself to block—
Kooler swooped in and slammed his knee into Kold's head, knocking him to the ground. He raised both hands over his head and charged an enormous ball of energy. "Move, Frieza!" he shouted and swung his hands down. Frieza shot backwards just as the ball struck Kold and detonated, an enormous mushroom cloud blazing up into the sky.
Frieza landed some distance away and a moment later Kooler landed beside him. "Is he—" Frieza began.
"Not in the slightest," Kooler cut in immediately, "But it should keep him down for a moment and give us time to—"
Suddenly, feeling some intense pressure, they simultaneously whipped their heads around to find their father towering over them and glaring down at them, his body bruised in places but otherwise unharmed. "How is that..?!" Kooler breathed before yelling and flinging his hands up to block an attack from Kold. The towering tyrant launched into a furious series of strikes, punching and kicking, his hands and legs a blur of white lines that Kooler desperately blocked and batted aside, without being able to throw a single counterattack.
Frieza roared and his body bulked up as he powered up to one hundred percent of his power. He shot forward and threw a punch at Kold's head, catching him on the cheek. Kold rolled with the punch and flicked his tail up, Frieza only just managing to get his arms up to block in time. The force of the blow set him off balance, though Kooler used the opportunity to land a strong punch to Kold's chest. The Arcosian King fell back slightly, but then grinned and caught Kooler's follow-up strike, throwing him to the ground.
"E...nough...of...this..!" Frieza flicked out his sword from his metal arm and rocketed forward, slashing diagonally at Kold's shoulder. Kold twisted his body out of the way, but Frieza's follow-up punch caught him on the chin, knocking him off balance slightly. Frieza launched into a flurry of attacks but none of them landed, either being dodged or blocked or turned aside. Kold suddenly twisted out of range of the strikes and landed a kick to Frieza's side. The pale Arcosian let out a yell of pain and clutched at his ribs, his faishin clattering to the ground. Kooler fired an energy blast that caught Kold in the back, stunning him temporarily. Seizing the moment, Frieza quickly raised his hand and trapped Kold with his Imprisonment Ball, the energy seeping out around Kold and holding him in place. "Die!" Frieza screamed, smacking the ball with his tail and sending it hurtling towards the horizon. The ball detonated in an enormous explosion, the whole wasteland shaking with the force of it. Kold, bruised and bloodied, shot out of the explosion and slammed a fist into Frieza's stomach. Frieza gasped, spitting blood, and Kold's follow-up kick caught him in the back,sending him smashing into the ground. Suddenly, a ball of ki screamed into the side of the tyrant's head, knocking him head over tail in the sky away from Frieza.
"Leave him alone, your fight is with me!" Kooler roared, his aura raging around him as he shot upwards to clash with Kold as he recovered, "Stop ignoring me! Damn you, look at me!"
Frieza heaved himself up from the crater and collapsed onto his back. He panted and tried to focus on the battle above, watching Kooler and Kold clash, break apart, strike one another again, the shockwaves rolling out from their blows and cracking the rocks and earth. 'He's much stronger than I could have imagined...' Frieza thought, 'Much stronger.' He glanced down at himself, at his bruised body. He shut his eyes and slowly brought his breathing under control. 'It seems like there was only ever going to be one way...'
His breathing slowed, becoming relaxed. He focused, drawing away from the sounds of battle and the shockwaves that broke the stones beside him. He felt it slipping away, just his breath left. His mind wandered, searched...and it found the power. 'Now I need it...And I will control it...' His eyes snapped open and he let out a roar. His aura burst around his body and he began to change. Spikes protruded, his body bulked up, and a mask snapped over his mouth. He opened his eyes and looked up...and he could see. He could see the difference between Kold and Kooler. It was hazy and blurred red with thrumming rage, and it took a lot to keep his focus, but he could just barely separate out the two. He smiled behind the bony mask. 'Now, father, it's time to finish this.' Frieza rocketed off the ground and slammed into Kold before the Arcosian King could react. The force of Frieza's hit took him up into the sky, and Frieza immediately launched into a furious series of punches and kicks, most of which went through Kold's defenses and battered his body. Kold struck back, but Frieza caught his sloppy, hasty strike and delivered a fearsome straight punch to his cheek.
Kold spun around and fired off an energy blast that smashed into Frieza, knocking him back. Kold shot forward, but Kooler kicked him in the back, knocking him off balance. Frieza attacked again, and he and Kooler flowed together, moving and striking in sync, giving Kold no opportunity to respond or counterattack, wearing him down. His blocks became slower, his movements more tired, and more and more hits began to pass through his defenses. Kooler struck Kold in the stomach with his tail and their father hunched over, wincing and growling at the pain. "How's it feel?" Kooler hissed, "How does it feel to be humiliated by a stronger opponent?" Kold turned, seemingly to run away. Kooler snarled, "No! You're not leaving here!" as he gripped Kold's body psychically. His psychokinesis was never on Frieza's level, but in his quiet, restrained anger, it was like an iron vice on the huge Arcosian's body. "Frieza, finish him. Now."
Frieza nodded resolutely and whipped his hand back, summoning the fallen faishin behind him to his hand. "This is over!" he screamed, and plunged the blade through Kold's heart. Kold's eyes widened in surprise. Blood dribbled out of his mouth. Then, he slowly slid off the blade, the hook ripping wetly through his flesh as he toppled back down to the earth. Exhausted, Frieza and Kooler dropped back down and stared at their father's unmoving, crumpled body. "Is it over?" Frieza asked.
"He hasn't disappeared, this time," Kooler replied, "so I think it's permanent."
"Good riddance..." Frieza sighed. The two brothers collapsed onto the ground. They were both sweating profusely, struggling to catch their breath as they slumped together in the desert dust.
"You did well, little brother," Kooler said after a moment, "I watched you. You've managed to control your Fifth Form well, and channel its power only towards your enemy. Seems like this training really has paid off."
Frieza humphed through his bone mask. "It wasn't perfect. There was still a bit of fog. But, I felt like I could direct it better. And now, when there's no target, nothing to direct my anger against, I feel...comfortable."
"Well look at you, talking in full sentences instead of roaring like a raging demon," Kooler said facetiously. Before Frieza could snipe back at him, he added, "It's always like that. It takes time. But with a bit more training you could—" Kooler paused. He looked up at the sky, which seemed to have changed, some sudden crackles of lightning flashing across it. He heaved himself up and looked around. "...Wait. I thought we beat him. Where are we now?"
Frieza groaned and pushed himself off of the ground. He glanced around him. The place had changed. The grass was blue and there was water everywhere. Some tornadoes whirled in the distance and lightning flickered across the sky, thunder rumbling after it. Frieza's eyes widened and his teeth clenched in tired anger. He knew where this was. "I am done with this!" Frieza shouted. He stood up and raised his hand over his head, a small black ball crackling with red energy appearing at the end of his outstretched index finger. "No more games, no more of this damnable room!"
"Frieza, stop!" Kooler shouted, leaping up and holding out his hand, "Don't do that!"
"Why the hell not?!" Frieza snapped, red eyes glowing intently.
Kooler gestured around at the environment the room had morphed into. "Because the best that is going to happen is it will do nothing. The worst that could happen is that we end up trapped in this dimension for all eternity! I don't want that, I suspect you don't either. Remember what Piccolo said: these rooms are magic and they're not to be trifled with. Got it?"
Frieza ground his teeth, letting out a growl of rage. Slowly his face and body relaxed, and he cancelled the energy ball and let his hand drop to his side.
"Good, that's good brother. Now we just need to find out what's waiting for us here..." Kooler trailed off.
"I already know what's waiting for me here," Frieza replied, quiet.
"Huh?" Kooler cocked his head.
Frieza gestured at their surroundings. "This is Namek. Namek just before it was about to blow up. Which means that there can only be one person that I'm confronting here." Frieza sighed, turned his head, and found who he expected to see. "This room is admirably sadistic, I'll give it that."
Son Goku stood behind him, the golden aura of the Super Saiyan transformation rippling around his body like fire. Anger and resentment built up in the small Arcosian's body, as he began to shake, small sparks of aura flashing around him. "Is this the task? To defeat Son Goku? That's something I will gladly do!" Frieza yelled bitterly, "I welcome the excuse to let him feel my rage!" The mask snapped over his mouth and he charged forward, pulling back his arm to strike—
He passed right through Goku and crashed to the ground on the other side. He leapt back up and looked back in confusion. "What... What the?!" He snarled and shot forward again and punched, but the punch just passed through Goku's head. Goku glared at him with righteous indignation, that expression that Frieza knew so well from their battle. He leapt around to the other side but Goku followed him, maintaining the same look. "S-stop looking at me like that!" Frieza screamed, and began striking at Goku, punching, kicking, firing energy beams. Everything just passed through him like he was a ghost.
"Frieza! Stop!" Kooler yelled. "It's obvious you can't hit him, so there must be something else that you have to do other than fight!"
"What else is there to do?!" Frieza exclaimed in frustration, "This is what's haunted me since I came to Earth, this defeat, this humiliation, that patronizing look on that damned monkey's face!"
"It's some kind of test," Kooler said, "There must be something that you have to admit, to yourself maybe, before the room will let us pass. Now think! What involves you and Goku?"
"The only thing I want is to beat him to a bloody pulp! If...if I c-can't, then I—" Frieza let out a strangled cry as he leapt back, and then fired an enormous energy blast at Goku. The blast detonated, rocking the entire field. But when the smoke cleared Goku stood just the same as he did before, with the same expression as before.
Frieza collapsed onto his knees. He bent over and dug his fingers into the sides of his head under the bony crown, his glowing eyes bulging. "Why? Why? Why? WHY?!" He slammed his fist into the ground again and again and again, the rock cracking and collapsing more and more with each strike. He screamed and then pounded his head into the ground repeatedly. "Just leave me alone! Either let me hit you or tell me what you want, or just leave me alone damnit!"
"Frieza! Calm down!" Kooler ran over to him and put his hand on his back. With difficulty, he grabbed Frieza's backswept horns and wrenched them back, preventing him from slamming his face into the ground. "Drop out of your Fifth Form. It's too much for you right now. Maybe that will help you gather your senses."
Sobbing quietly, Frieza held his head in in his hands. Nevertheless, he slowly dropped out of his Fifth Form, body relaxing as he shrunk back to his normal size. After a moment he raised himself back up and sat back on his haunches, staring at Goku blankly. Goku stared back at him and they silently gazed at one another, the lightning flashing around them. Perhaps it was forever. Perhaps it was for only a few seconds. But after some time Frieza's lips twitched. They twitched and began to curl upwards. Then he began to laugh. Softly at first but it grew in strength until he was laughing fully, wholeheartedly, and happily. "I'm sorry," he said, wiping at the tears in his eyes, and on his face. "I just... I just remembered that time we got drunk together. I told you that story, trying to be clever and metaphorical. And you just...completely missed the point..." He settled down and smiled to himself. "Well, maybe you didn't. Destinies aren't set in stone, right?" He looked up at Goku with a relaxed and genuine smile that touched his eyes. Goku stared at him for a moment. Then he smiled back. The Super Saiyan aura disappeared and he ceased to be the almighty figure of legend. He nodded at Frieza, and then turned and walked away. As he walked the room slowly darkened and darkened until Goku disappeared and the darkness was all that was left.
"Frieza..?" Kooler began, "What was..?"
"It doesn't matter," Frieza replied, "Not anymore. I've faced my demons." He got to his feet and crossed his arms. "Hmm...I guess if the farmer is foolish enough, it's hard not to be infected by that reckless optimism."
Kooler blinked several times, cocking his head to the side, his tail in a questioning posture. "Frieza...what on Arcos are you—?"
"Never mind, never mind," Frieza waved his hand, "Let's go Kooler, it seems like the Room is done with us." He pointed forward and Kooler saw that the plain door they'd entered through had appeared. Together they walked towards it.
The door slid open and the two Arcosians stepped out. The light made them squint for a moment but their pupils soon adjusted. Piccolo was alone, sitting on the floor in front of them in a meditative position. As Frieza stepped out of the doorway, he glanced down and noticed his body. He was untouched: not a trace of the fights inside was on him.
Piccolo raised his head and stood up. "To look at you both," he said, "I'd say you managed to do whatever had to be done."
The two brothers exchanged a look and then nodded. "Yes," Kooler said, "I daresay we did. Strange place in there. You weren't exaggerating about not underestimating it."
"It went quicker than I thought," Piccolo said, "You've only been in there for a few minutes."
Frieza frowned. "A few minutes? It felt much longer than that..."
Piccolo smirked. "Time can move very strangely in these rooms. Best not to think about it too hard." He paused a moment. "I presume you faced Kold in there?" Frieza and Kooler both nodded. "Son Goku as well?" Frieza's eyes widened. He opened his mouth but Piccolo raised his hand. "No, you don't have to tell me what happened," Piccolo said, "What occurred was for the two of you. That's the purpose of that room. I don't need to know if you don't want to tell me. Nor does anyone else."
Frieza studied him a moment and then nodded. "At least you have more discretion and respect for privacy than Son Goku," he half-joked, trying to dissipate the awkward feeling he had.
"Always. Now, I imagine you're hungry?" Piccolo asked, turning away to lead them back.
"Yes, now that you mention it," Kooler said, with a wince as the emptiness of his stomach struck him, "Food sounds good."
"And a proper drink," Frieza put in.
Piccolo laughed. "Well, I believe Mr. Popo keeps some very vintage wines in one of the cellars somewhere. I'm sure he'd be happy to open one for you." They followed Piccolo through the twisting corridors until they emerged onto the Lookout, back under the clear blue sky.
"Gohan!" Chi-chi's voice, in a strange tone that suggested joy and amusement, pricked Gohan's ears and he drew his head out of the book he was studying.
"Yeah?" he called back.
"Phone for you."
Gohan furrowed his brows. Who would be calling him? The only immediate option that sprung to mind was Krillin, but he wasn't sure why he would be. He placed a bookmark on the page and closed the book, leaving his room and heading down the stairs.
Chi-chi stood in the living room, holding the phone out to him. She had a somewhat secretive smile on her face.
"Who is it?" Gohan asked, reaching out for the phone.
"It's a girl," his mother said, handing him the phone and then ducking out of view.
Gohan's stomach somehow managed to flutter and sink at the same time. 'This can only be one person…' He put the phone to his ear. "Hello Videl," he said.
[[Hey!]] the girl's cheery voice called. [[How did you know it was me?]]
"It's a girl calling me, it couldn't be anyone else."
[[Wow. You have no social life, you know that?]]
"I'm becoming aware of it," Gohan said, with a small laugh.
[[Well it's a good thing for you that I'm in your life now. Anyway, I was wondering if I'd be able to come over to your place today?]]
"Huh? Why?" Gohan asked, brows furrowing.
[[To watch movies together, what do you think? You have a promise to keep, you remember?]]
"Promise?" Gohan scratched his head and then it hit him. "Oh... You mean flying?"
[[Exactly!]] Videl said with satisfaction, [[Boy, for a smart kid you sure can be dense sometimes...or are you avoiding me?]]
"No! I mean, uh, no, it's not like that, I really am just forgetful..." Gohan trailed off awkwardly. "Uh, well, yeah, I guess I can do..."
[[Great, I'll be there in five minutes,]] Videl said, sounding like she was juggling her phone with some other task.
"Huh?!" Gohan's eyes widened. "Wha—but—! Videl! I have to ask my parents if they can—" She hung up. Gohan stared at the phone, rooted to the spot.
Chi-chi sidled back into view. "So," she said, startling him, "who was that?"
"Uh...oh, it was a friend, she's uh...wanting to come around because I kinda promised her I'd teach her to fl—"
"Great!" Chi-chi clapped her hands, "It'll be nice for you to have someone your own age to hang out with. Keep my bright, polite boy away from some of the...less savory characters..." She raised a pointed eye towards the upstairs.
Gohan let out a helpless laugh. 'If only she knew...' he thought, his temple moist with nervous sweat. "Uh, she said she'd be here in about five minutes if that's okay?"
"Oh, fine, fine! You just enjoy yourself." Chi-chi smiled and kissed his head, before heading back up the stairs.
Gohan replaced the phone. "Weird...Mom sure is being accommodating, I figured she'd freak out at having an uninvited guest. Right...now all I need to do is work out how to teach flying to somebody else..."
Videl and Gohan sat cross-legged in the forest nearby the house.
"So, how does this work?" Videl asked.
"Well, it's... Umm..." Gohan paused and touched his finger to his chin, trying to think of a way of explaining things. "Do you know what energy is?"
"Do you mean like electricity?" Videl replied.
"Sort of...no...well, kind of. It's like, the ki within your body. The energy in your body. You know when you fire energy blasts?"
"You mean like what you and your dad were doing on that planet?" Videl said, tilting her head.
"Yeah like that," Gohan nodded with a smile.
"Well I have a rough idea from that but, no, I don't know what it is — my dad always said those were pyrotechnic tricks," Videl said, with a slight roll of her blue eyes.
"Well, now you know that isn't the case. Okay, so flying is a result of using that ki. So, I guess, first we'll have to get you to learn how to feel your energy and bring it out." Gohan crossed his arms and thought. "I guess meditating might be the best way to to do it..?"
"You guess?" Videl scratched her nose, "How did you learn about energy?"
Gohan chuckled. "My mentor chucked me at a plateau." Videl's eyes bugged. "He was hoping that the stress and fear would enable me to tap into it naturally and it turned out he was right." A grin crossed Gohan's face. "I could always try that with you if you'd like."
Videl waved her palms vigorously. "Nope! No! I'm good! I can handle meditating!"
Gohan laughed. "Okay, if you'll get yourself set then..."
Over the next few hours they practiced. Videl would sit and meditate, attempting to concentrate and bring out her energy, while Gohan would help, by feeling for her ki signature and trying to guide her to find it herself. Every so often they would break and talk, mostly about techniques, martial arts, or ways that Videl could better concentrate and draw out her energy. Then, as the sun just began to dip down in the sky, it clicked.
"Is that..?" Videl asked, more to herself than Gohan, as she felt a tingling running across her whole body, as though an electric field had just wrapped itself around her and was humming around the outline of her form.
"Yes!" Gohan shouted, delighted, "You've got it!"
Videl laughed and jumped up, raising her hands up into the air and spinning around. She was beyond excited at the feeling, at the aliveness that seemed to be in her whole body. She looked up at the sky, at the clouds scudding by, and grinned. 'Won't be long now until I'm up there!' she thought.
"Okay what's next?!" she said, whirling to Gohan.
"Next?" Gohan laughed, "I think we need a little break first before starting with the flying. It can be quite tiring to begin with." Gohan looked up. "It is getting to be a little late as well. What time are you expected back?"
Videl crossed her arms. "I'm not a child. I don't have a curfew or a bedtime." She glanced up and paused. "Although Dad probably would start to worry if I got back too late after dark..."
"Why don't you stay for dinner and then I can take you back after? It'd be quicker," Gohan suggested.
"How would you take me back? Do you have a flier?" Videl scoffed.
Gohan grinned. "Sort of." He turned and cupped his hands to his lips. "Kintou'un!"
Videl furrowed her brows. Then she looked up and gasped as a yellow cloud shot down from the sky and stopped just in front of Gohan. She stared at it as Gohan glanced back at her. "This is Kintou'un," Gohan said, "He's...er, it's a flying cloud. My Dad got him a long time ago," Gohan hopped onto the cloud, and it supported his weight.
"Is it...safe?" Videl asked, stepping closer, studying the swirly whorls gently undulating under Gohan.
"Sure. Provided your pure of heart, otherwise you just fall through." Gohan leaned in towards Videl and waggled his fingers in front of her face. "Are you pure? I'm not so suuuurrreee..."
"Knock it off!" Videl snapped and slapped his hands away. She immediately leapt forward and landed on Kintou'un...and didn't fall through. Videl, uncertain and surprised, fell a little and grabbed onto Gohan's gi.
He smiled at her. "You looked surprised," he commented.
"Shut up!" Videl retorted, "Keep this up and you'll be falling through." Gohan laughed as she pouted at him. Videl glanced over the side of Kintou'un. "So what are we doing now?"
"Well, there's a bit of time before dinner." He gave her a roguish smile. "Want to try flying?"
"Huh?" she blinked.
"You haven't done it before, so it might be nice to get a little experience of flying outside a ship," Gohan patted Kintou'un affectionately.
"Sold. Do it," Videl grinned.
Gohan sat down and Videl sat behind him. Tentatively she put her hands around Gohan's waist. Gohan glanced down and flushed a little. He cleared his throat. "Okay, let's go!" Kintou'un reared itself back and then shot up into the air and through the clouds. Videl gasped and let out a shriek, caught off guard by the suddenness and the speed. Kintou'un burst up into the sky looped around, the wind buffeting them.
"This is...this is...amazing!" Videl shouted. She laughed and whooped and let the feeling rush over her.
"It is, isn't it?" Gohan glanced behind him and then forward. "Feels even better when you fly on your own. More tiring though. You'll be able to do that soon." He smiled to himself and sat down a little. "It's funny, doing this all the time, I don't think I've ever quite appreciated how special it is. Seeing the way you're responding to it though...it makes me think..."
"You're not going to start singing are you?" Videl teased.
"Huh?" Gohan looked over at her, bemused.
"You've never seen Aladdin?" Videl asked.
"No. What's that?"
"Oh, never mind." She smiled and leaned back, grinning up at the darkening sky and the waking stars.
The computer lights blipped and whirred, and Dr. Gero moved in front of them, tapping at the keyboards. As he did so a set of pods opened up, releasing three figures who stepped out into the center of the room. Tao Pai Pai stood next to a table, his arms folded and a smirk on his face.
"You all know your mission," Gero said, turning to face the androids. "You are to go to the residence of Son Goku and kill him. His family as well if they are there. Be quick, though; I have no interest in you getting into a prolonged battle with his friends. Such could be dangerous, and we are taking no risks."
"Why aren't you sending out all of them?" Android 21 asked. She stood to one side, bending over a capsule that lay on the floor, with an air of curiosity in her ice-blue eyes, framed by studious glasses. "If you were to send out this one as well, the chance of success would be much higher."
"No!" Gero shouted, instinctively reaching a hand out towards the capsule. 21, surprised, took a step back.
Tao twitched his head. 'Why has the old man gotten so riled up over that?'
"I apologize," Gero said, relaxing a little and walking over to the capsule. Android 21 moved out of his way quickly, and he put his hand on the pod. "This one is not ready yet. He's potentially dangerous." He stared at the pod for a moment and then turned away. The front of the capsule was stenciled with the number 16.
"Now, go, do what you were made to do," Gero commanded, walking back towards the computer.
Tao Pai Pai turned his head to a dark corner of the room. "Ready to get your revenge?" he asked casually.
In response a set of eyes flickered open. Three eyes.
"This is really good!" Videl enthused, putting another dumpling in her mouth, "Much better than our cook!"
"Thank you!" Chi-chi replied, smiling at the girl, "It's nice of you to say. And it's so nice to have someone who actually takes their time and appreciates the food I make." As she said this she turned a pointed look to Goku and Gohan, who were scarfing down everything in seconds. They both paused under the glare, swallowed, and started eating more slowly. Videl giggled.
"So, Videl, how is your Dad doing?" Goku asked, "Would he be up for a sparring match sometime? I'd like to get to know him better, seeing as how he's a Tenkaichi Budokai champ too."
Videl let out a wry laugh. "Ah, yeah, he's doing pretty well but I think he's a long way off from being ready for a sparring match of any kind."
"Well if he wants any help with training or anything I'm always happy to help," Goku mumbled through a mouthful of rice.
"Goku, dear, I think you've got enough training partners and sparring partners for now," Chi-chi put in.
"Aw come on, Chi-chi. I can always learn new things from others!" the man grinned, reaching across the table for another platter of food.
As Chi-chi playfully told Goku off, Videl leaned over to Gohan. "Hey, Gohan, is it normal to have this kind of heightened sense of other people?" she said, "I mean, I really feel like I can feel your parents and you."
"Sure, that's kind of normal," Gohan replied, "Now that you can sense your own energy it's not surprising that you're starting to get a sense of other people's energy. Later, I can teach you how to properly direct it."
"Really?!" Videl exclaimed.
"So Gohan, what were you and Videl up to this afternoon?" Chi-chi asked, casually, while spooning baby food into Goten's mouth.
"Huh?! Oh, we were, we were just, well, playing," Gohan blustered, feeling both panic and embarrassment. He glanced across at Videl for support and his face fell at the sight of her butter-wouldn't-melt-malevolent smile.
She opened her mouth—
Goku suddenly put his chopsticks down and flicked his head towards the door, his eyes focused. Immediately alert, Gohan turned his attention to him. "What is it Dad?" he asked.
Goku held up his hand for quiet.
Goten gurgled and Chi-chi put her hands protectively over him. Videl looked around, confused, but with her heart thumping as anxiety seeped in. Gohan focused like his father was doing, listening intently. He couldn't hear anything. There wasn't a single sound coming from outside. "I don't hear anything," he whispered.
"That's just it," Goku said, "Where did the noise of the animals go?"
Gohan's eyes widened. Goku motioned for him to stay seated and he crept towards the door, one arm up defensively. He stopped in front of the door and listened. There was something...yes. It was faint but there were the sound of footsteps heading up the path. The steps stopped. Silence resumed for a long moment...Then—
"Son Goku!" Tenshinhan shouted, "Come out here!"
Goku relaxed and the tension evaporated from the room. He threw open the door. "Tenshinhan!" Goku said, "Man you had me worried! I'm so glad you're okay!" Tenshinhan stood in front of Goku on the path, the light from the door cast on his figure, stretching his shadow behind him. Goku was glad to see him looking well, though his expression was harsh and glaring. Goku smiled at him and put his hands on his hips. "I'm really glad to see that you're fine," he said, smiling, "But where have you been for so long? We tried looking for you everywhere, even summoned the dragon, but we couldn't get a read on you at all."
Tenshinhan snarled. "Trying to show sympathy are you? Well it won't work. You can't trick me, not anymore."
Goku frowned. "Trick you? I'm not trying to trick you with anything..." Slowly Goku moved his hands down from his hips and let them drop to his side, fingers loose and ready. "Where have you been Ten?"
Videl leaned over to Gohan. "Who is that?" she asked.
"It's Tenshinhan," Gohan replied with an uneasy smile. "He's a friend of ours. We were really worried about him; he got attacked and disappeared. It's a real relief that he's back, but...my dad is acting really weird."
"Gohan...I... I can't sense any energy from him. Is that normal?" Videl said, squinting in concentration.
"Huh? Oh, well, you're just learning. It takes a while to always be able to pick up on ki signatures," Gohan said quickly, trying to reassure her.
"No, I mean, I can feel your father fine, but I can't feel anything at all from the person he's talking to," Videl whispered.
"Yeah, but like I said..." Gohan paused. He frowned. 'Hang on...I can't sense anything from Ten either... That's weird, even if he was suppressing his energy at this distance I would feel something. The only time this ever happened before was...' Suddenly his eyes snapped wide in realization.
Gohan leapt up from the table and ran to the door. "Dad!" he shouted, and Goku whipped his head around. "There's something weird— Tenshinhan, he's—!" Gohan caught some movement, out of the corner of his eye. He looked up.
Above them were four figures, hanging in the sky. The one furthest to the right raised his hand, and a yellow ball of energy illuminated in his palm, the glimmering light revealing the grinning face of Tao Pai Pai. Gohan swore and dived back into the house. "Everyone! Get down!" he screamed, leaping at the group and pushing them to the floor under the table.
The energy blast streaked from Tao's hand and exploded against the roof of the house, igniting the place and sending it crashing to the ground. "No!" Goku yelled and started towards the house, but another blast crashed in front of him, cutting him off. He turned around, an ugly snarl creeping over his face. The figures dropped down beside Tenshinhan, the flickering flames of the house illuminating them.
On the left stood a giant figure, with grey skin and dark hair pulled into a ponytail. Next to him was a small figure, with purple skin, wearing a garish suit and a hat. On the other side of Tenshinhan a bulky man in green trousers, an open shirt and a baseball cap, with long silver hair smirked at Goku. Next to him was Tao Pai Pai. Goku blinked and then narrowed his eyes as he recognised the mercenary. He clenched his fists and his hands shook.
"Hello Son Goku," Tao said, "It's been a long, long time. And now, finally, my revenge is at hand."
Videl coughed and groaned. She was lying on her back and her spine hurt from something digging into it. The air was hot and smoky, and it was difficult to breathe. She opened her eyes. Across from her was Chi-chi, an ugly gash across her forehead. She was wincing and had her arms held up protectively around Goten, who was bawling, but otherwise seemed unhurt. It was difficult to breathe. Videl could hear the crackling of flames, but could see no fire, only smoke that stung her eyes and ash that drifted down around them. She heard a groan and looked up. She gasped.
Gohan was over them, on all fours. His clothes were badly burnt away and blood was seeping out around him, dripping from a multitude of small cuts and larger gashes. His teeth were clenched and tears stung the corners of his eyes. A mass of rubble weighed on his back, pressing him towards the ground, but though his hands and legs and body shook he kept himself up, stopping the weight from falling onto Videl, Chi-chi, and Goten.
"Gohan!" Videl shouted. She tried to sit up, but pain seared through her body. She hissed and had to fall back, tears creeping from her eyes. "Gohan! Are you okay?! What ha—"
Gohan suddenly lurched downwards, and there was a terrible groan from house as it fell forward. He snapped his hand to the ground and managed to stop his fall, but the stress and strain hit him hard and he let out a cry of pain. Videl stared at him, eyes wide and frozen by the sight.
"Videl...I can't... Get Mom...Goten..." he wheezed.
"Gohan, I can't move... My back...I..." Videl sobbed, feeling helpless, unable to do anything.
"It's okay... I'll think of something... I'll get us out of here...all of us... Don't worry..." He gave her a small attempt at a reassuring smile. Then Son Gohan lurched forward again with a pained groan.
Hello my loyal SoD readers! Big shoutout to Chaosconetic & Temnascentric for a few choice scenes in this chapter & in the next one — it took me a while to incorporate your suggestions, but I believe the relationship between Frieza & Vegeta has progressed to the point where mutual respect is finally plausible, & Vegeta himself is fighting with sarcasm instead of his fists more often. I also want to wish a happy one-day-belated birthday to my number one Continuity Wizard, the irreplaceable Saucemonkey! On to the Q&A!
Q: Happy 4th anniversary, and 1000th Review :D
A: Heck YES, four years & still going strong despite setbacks! So many reviews!
Q: Arion and Lomac? Somehow those names sound familiar... Hmm, SoD version of Slug reminds me of General Zod from Man of Steel. An ambitious man who attempted a coup de tat against what he viewed as a weak government only to be stopped by an unlikely hero and promptly banished from his home planet. He seeks revenge, but is set by despair and guilt when he sees the destruction of his homeworld, lamenting that he could've saved it had he not been stopped though he finds out that the legacy of his mortal enemy remains and will seek to obtain his vengeance by any means necessary.
A: Saucemonkey created those names as puns on extinct marine mollusks' scientific names! We always try to be creative in the naming department. From what I know of Superman lore, Slug's a pretty good match for Zod's DBZ counterpart, yes.
Q: Well, with only a bit over 19 thousand words, you managed to make Slug far more interesting than the entirety of the Slug movie, his appearances in Xenoverse 2 and his appearance pretty much anywhere else since you did one thing I can't recall anyone else ever having done, you gave him a backstory and explained how he got vanished, how he got his scar, his relationship with Guru, or, Sachati as he knew him, so in this universe Guru's a title not a name, credit for originality where it's due. Also, potentially Majin Slug, hm, well, he's certainly got enough evil in him to give him a nice boost, though I don't think it'll be enough to match up to Frieza if he actually tries somewhat considering how utterly massive the gap in strength is between the two. Then again, I've been proven wrong before, so only time will tell, I suppose.
A: Backstories are my thing. Technically, Guru as we know the term actually IS a title, typically followed by a person's name. However, it's a facet of the English dub only, & they used it somewhat incorrectly. If you directly translate 最長老 (Saichourou), it just means "Great Elder." The nuance is well-intended, of course, unlike some of the other dub flubs, so I'm okay with using it. Slug was indeed a Majin when he besieged Earth, & your guess is correct - Frieza would stomp him with little effort, which is why he & the other strong non-humans had to be off-planet for Slug's plan to work.
Q: "Oh you'll get back to your homeworld to destroy your enemies... eventually." And that dear children is how the devil steals souls. Eventually can cover a -really- long time.
A: Indeed, the devil is in the details, & the more vague a contract is, the more binding you can make it, if you hold all the cards...
Q: Interesting indeed. Very neat to see examples of magic, for sure, and I was reeling at the idea that Slug is a Majin... in fact, I went back to see if there was any mention of it before. I found exactly one, in chapter 26- where Piccolo mentioned a mark on his head. He even said that it had to be dark magic! I can't believe I didn't make the connection. Well played.
A: Yep! Slug is, in fact, a Majin. I only hinted at it very subtly, so I'm glad you're impressed with my writing technique - I didn't want to make it super-obvious.
Q: Wow. A backstory for Lord Slug? Holy s*** was it amazing! Can't wait to see what you'll do with the likes of Bojack, Hirudegarn, and especially Janemba!
A: I do love me some movie characters, heh. Not sure how many I can fit into SoD canonically, but if I do, you can bet I'll expand on them in a way their movies did not.
Q: Wow, this was awesome. Some really interesting insights into Namek and it's people's culture as well as Slug's character. As for the exile, can't say I'm a fan of that kind of punishment though, it seems to practically beg for something like this to happen. That's how many billion people that died thanks to letting Slug drift through space? Oh, and Babidi! I'll be honest, I really like seeing him work like this. Using all the pieces he can get, while slowly getting closer to his goal. Centuries worth of plotting! Makes him feel a lot more like a threat than he felt like in canon.
A: I'm a sucker for backstories & worldbuilding, what can I say? As for Slug's exile, it was meant to be an overly-cruel punishment, but Sachati wasn't betting that Slug would or could do anything to return to Namek with his memories blocked. I always thought that what I've portrayed Babidi doing was exactly what he'd be up to pre-DBZ canon - it's just that it was never shown. He thinks himself a Chessmaster, & he has patience in spades, but once victory is close at hand, he starts making rash decisions in his haste.
Q: Awesome chapter as always Roketto. Slug has made a deal with the devil, even though he himself is The Devil. Also I am looking forward to seeing you work with the Gods because I know that you will do a great job with them. Keep up the great work.
A: Thank you. Hey, even among villains, some are more evil than others, & some are stronger than others. It was Slug's bad luck to attract the attention of a much bigger, more evil fish in the galactic pond.
Q: I am going to combine my reviews for chapter 30 and 31, so please bear with me. As for my thoughts on the first one… I have to say that I was extremely shocked when General Tao attacked Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu; even more so when he manage to kidnap Ten. (In retrospect, I should have expected something like this, given that I recognized him earlier. Guess that credit has to be given for Tao Pai Pai acting so quickly.) I really hope that Ten will be alright. If Doctor Gero wants anything to do with him, I bet he wants to try turning into a Cyborg… Why do my favorite characters always end up on the chopping block? (T-T) On a lighter note, I noticed a lot of parallels to the earlier chapters. Looks like Frieza's excuse for not shaking hands really was true. Then again, these are the same two Arcosians who think it's socially acceptable to joke about someone walking on your grave. I will admit that it was rather humorous to see Bulma's reaction though, and Kooler's when she mentioned charging rent. (XD) Actually, it seems that Frieza and his brother are a lot more similar than they'll admit. I do find their differences far more intriguing. Kooler is putting in a genuine effort to be a tolerable guest, paranoid as he is, and is even deciding to put aside his grudge against Goku. Obviously, he isn't going to forgive the Saiyan anytime soon for murdering him. (No, I don't believe that Frieza's "Mercy Kill" counts.) At least now Kooler is trying to make amends with his brother after all this time. He even attended a the party with him.. (I see what Vegeta did there, saving the Briefs. He's starting to care, isn't he?) As for the newest special, I am shocked at how Slug's origin turned out to be. I really felt sorry for him, crazy as that sounds.. While he WAS cruel and a bit of a control freak, he did have a sense of devotion to his kind and planet (though I doubt he'd ever admit it). Obviously not to Namekians like Sachati of course.. Or should I say, Grand Elder Guru? I think I see what happened while Slug was gone. Sachati decided to wipe out his race and start anew, either in fear that his motives would be revealed or that more Super Namekians would be born. I wouldn't be surprised if it were the latter though, it seems that it's always the fools with good intentions that are the most dangerous. Either way, somehow this feels worse than anything Ratsura has done (as of yet). Then again, committing mass genocide for "the greater good" is extremely hard to top. Though, now I'm more than a little suspicious of Moori, What is he hiding (intentionally or not), that he would pretty much condemn a hero like Piccolo as a disaster waiting to happen? Katas had proven himself in defending Namek, so why wouldn't his son be given a chance? Did Sachati simply brush over this fact and gave Moori false information? Speaking of Super Namekians.. Perhaps it had been lucky that Katas heard Slug's accusations, and caught wind of Sachati's plans early enough to save his son. Or, maybe the son of Katas was purposely spared? Honestly, I have to agree with Slug that Super Namekians were greatly wronged. I don't think that they are inherently evil. Maybe they were just a bit more aggressive. I think the bad few were the ones who started the paranoia… But that's another matter entirely. I am highly impressed with your and your team's efforts. I hope to read more soon. Good luck with everything!
A: Tao is a professional assassin, so of course he works fast. Being an Android, he's super-humanly rapid at taking jobs & fulfilling requests. I like Ten too, so, uh, I guess I have a problem with torturing my favorite characters? ᴗᶸ Handshakes aren't even a thing in all human cultures, so of course Arcosians would meet the gesture with a blank stare. Kooler has a particularly morbid sense of humor; not all Arcosians talk about walking on graves in such a joking manner. Vegeta doesn't so much care for the Briefs as he cares about advancing his "good guy" routine in an effort to fake his way to Goku levels of acceptance. Even he understands that killing your meal ticket's parents does not make a good impression. Don't feel too bad for Slug - if he'd gotten into power, he'd be a dictator, full stop. However, showing the antagonists' perspectives is a useful lesson in the grayness of morality, & how everyone sees themselves as the hero of their own story. Sachati did not commit genocide, at least not directly...but he did take advantage of a natural planet-wide catastrophe to reseed Namek with his faithful scions. Immoral as it may have been to not tell them their history in full, he's nowhere near Ratsura levels of crimes against humanity yet. If anything, Moori is ignorant of all this - keep in mind, he & all the current Namekians are Guru's children. All he knows is what Guru told him: Super Nameks were dangerous, & potentially disastrous in large numbers.
Reviews for previous chapters:
Reviews for the Slug Special, Part I:
Q: I'm not gonna lie, I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get the next installment to the actual story. But nevertheless, it was an excellent chapter. When I read it the style seemed a bit off at first but then I scrolled back up and realized that it was actually Saucemonkey who wrote it. I'm not familiar with their writing style or works but it's intrigued me and I might check out some of his (her?) works. Until now, I've only ever acknowledged him as the editor of SoD. I want to start reviewing as my actual account once I get my hands on a computer and not this s*** iPad I have to comment with. I've always intended to review as, well, not a guest but I've always either gotten too lazy or was stressing out over school (I wish I possessed Gohan's intelligence cri). Make no mistake though, I am head over heels in bloody love with this story. It's definitely up there on my favorites list alongside other great fics (I'm assuming you've read SwanofWar's A Good Man?) and I can't wait to see more of it. Also, I was only able to figure out Baby's possible involvement in future chapters by reading the reviews you answered. I'm trying very hard to not crawl in a hole and die. If I did I wouldn't be able to finish this story, which would be a massive shame as I have been following this for a while now (I got here from one of Mr Arkham's Freeza fanfics. It's the one with the most reviews if you put Freeza into the character filters). Keep doing your thing! Looking forward to whatever this story has in stores for us next as always!
A: Yeah, Saucemonkey is an accomplished writer & the author of Piccolo's Choice, so I encourage you to give him some consideration. Other than myself, he's the main idea man of SoD, & I wouldn't have made it this far without his invaluable help. SwanofWar's story is amazing, & one of the few I regularly sit & write comprehensive reviews for. I really like her world-building & unique O.C.s. Baby's emergence is meant to be very subtle, so don't worry about not catching it the first time around! I put a lot of hidden stuff in my chapters, things that seem like throwaways until much, much later. Ah, Mr. Arkham had some good fics, & I think I did a lot of respectful reviewing on his projects, too. Who knows, maybe someday SoD will surpass his work n terms of review count. Only you can make that happen!
Q: A student of mine forwarded the link to this fanfiction story to me some time ago and I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now. He also included some pertinent article links with it from the wiki and said that something called TFS was a good place to get a rudimentary, if parodical, education on Dragon Ball Z. After reading the pertinent links on the wiki, I proceeded to read this story. I am a professor at a university in Pasadena, Texas, and I must say in all my years I have rarely come across anything as well written as this, though I must state that you nearly lost me at the M rated chapter. Quite an impressive piece of work, and, as I am a sociology professor, I just may use your story as the subject of a class project in future classes, or, if not that, then at least an extra credit literature analysis paper, with your permission, of course. Very well done. I must find that student and thank him. He did remark that he once tried to work with you as something called a beta reader, but it didn't pan out because he didn't read it thoroughly enough or something. I suppose his username was that one at the bottom of chapter 16: Ignominy.
A: What a coincidence! I'm actually in the midst of writing a graduate-level thesis on fanfiction myself, so getting an academic's attention is quite interesting. I'd be happy to give you permission to use Savior of Demons in your class - if it's not too much trouble, I'd love to see some student submissions for the literature analysis bit! I appreciate your impartial feedback on my story as a whole, M-rated chapter aside. In the context of the story itself, that was the hardest scene for me to write, but it was necessary to move the plot forward & affect character development. I've had a handful of beta readers since I started this undertaking, but I cannot confirm if Temnascentric is your student - when you find him again, ask him to drop me a line so I can credit him with introducing us! Thank you very much for taking the time to review.
Reviews for Previous Chapters:
Q: Chapter 1: Revenants: And just when I thought I would be giving up on reading random fanfictions except for the ones that quite a few of my friends, over this site, are in the process of drafting (which are good, nonetheless) this particular fic dropped like a blessing from heaven ... honestly, I was at the point of giving up reading altogether, if not for that Ascending ( one of my friend's handiwork ) ... and even more surprisingly, I've heard good about this fic from that very same author, and how they idolize their fav 'Arcosian Megalomaniac', as they like to put it :P So, I had to give this a shot ... and boyyyy! Was I in for a surprise? If this fic is trying to seep into being one of my all time best reads over this site, then I can close my eyes and vouch for on it's behalf just by reading through it's first chapter alone... I've distinctively been rated as a slow reader/writer ... but despite that, I can safely assume that this story has such a captivating content and in the rightest proportions that every reader has to obsessively go through all the details ... Skimming, does not even apply to this fanfiction. That's a blasphemy! If anyone does that at least for this fic then ... sorry to say this, but they might not find them at the same page/sync with the quality of this writing. Quality and Quantity: This fic's a perfect manifestation of both. *Bows Down* to your command over the English language. And even more so, how you reflected them succinctly in your fic rather than keeping them locked at the chambers of your gray-cells. Ah ... Fight Scenes ... this one's a different ballgame altogether. For the past couple of months I've been droning as to how I needed an ideal fic that help me incorporate well-to-decent fighting scenes for my own fics. Needless to say, this story meet the caveats. With that being said I'm moving forward to the oncoming chapters, ~GoHaNViDeLSoN (My next review can possibly be one either towards the end, or somewhere intermediate, if something is brought to my attention that catches me completely off-guard ... which, though, I secretly anticipate for :P)
A: Like a blessing from heaven, huh? Hah, you haven't gotten far enough to be emotionally gutted, I take it. You'll be cursing my name soon enough, & learn why I'm called the Evil Writer Lady by some. ÒᴗÓ~ You are correct that only skimming SoD will make you miss lots of important details, so I'm glad you're devouring it so thoroughly! I tribute my ability to write well in English & write fight scenes with my own personal experience as a teacher, student, & martial artist, & you know what they say - write what you know. Looking forward to your next review!
Q: Chapter 1: Revenants: ... what the fk oh my god Bulma! When she started flirting with Frieza I actually cracked up so hard. I thought it was going to be some failed attempt but nope! She went all the way. Creepy but somehow hilarious with just a little bit of awkwardness.
A: Haha, it seems everyone has this reaction. xD
Q: Chapter 1: Revenants: I have to say, Savior of Demons is my favorite fanfic! I have been reading since the beginning. keep up the good work!
A: Well thank you! ^‿
Q: Chapter 26: Jagannath: "Cool, a Broly fight! I'm guessing Frieza's going to use his fifth form again, it was unstoppable last time." Broly proceeds to body Frieza's Fifth Form. "Huh, okay, Frieza's out of the picture. I'm guessing it's going to be some sort of power share like before-" Broly snaps Gohan's neck. 0.0 Okay, to be honest, this took several turns I did not expect it to take. For starters, the tattoo mentioned on Slug's forehead. I'm guessing Majin. It does account for why Kami-fused Piccolo wasn't able to really beat him. You also handled the sub-fights quite well, using great choreographing to make the victories believable. Also, I did not expect Gohan to get killed, especially in such a gruesome way. I assume from what Vegeta said near the end, coupled with the fact that Gohan seemed to be glowing with power before the unfortunate end, Gohan's a Super Saiyan now. I also guess this chapter answers my last question on how/if Gohan would ascend. And, while we're on Gohan, I'd just like to thank you for working the Gohan and Videl interactions in. I just love the two of them. You also seem to be handling Hercule's character very well, which is also great. Too many stories just have him as the pompous windbag who gets scared around powers without portraying him properly. As for the aftermath, really great scene. I legit felt the emotion and almost cried when Gohan got revived (boy, I probably shouldn't be staying up past midnight to read this, heh heh). Also, stop, record scratch, Cooler's back?! Didn't see that one in a million years, tbh, and I was doubly shocked when Frieza wished him back so suddenly. I did enjoy the interactions between the two in this chapter though, and I suppose all I have to wonder now is if Cooler's going to stay in the same situation Frieza has chosen to remain in and stay on Earth or travel back out into the galaxy. Great work, and now I'm sad I only have two chapters to go until the next update. At least I know to have high hopes, and I can't wait to see what's up next. But for now, time to sleep! Good job!
A: I absolutely love your reaction, lol. No, Frieza's berserk Fifth Form isn't an unstoppable juggernaut, & sometimes, The Power of Friendship isn't enough to win the fight. You're right to guess that Slug is a Majin, hence why he's stronger than in canon. I enjoy not only writing fight scenes & their choreography, but I also like character interactions. Mr. Satan is a pompous windbag, but that's mostly his stage persona. Deep down he's just a very stubborn human who loves his kid. That kind of stubbornness makes him incredibly resilient. You almost cried at the revivals? My job is done here!