Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ The Return ( Chapter 11 )
The 25th World Martial Arts Tournament was still nearly 6 months away, but the Z Fighters had long been training in preparation for the competition. While Krillin was busy being a father to his now 3 year old girl Marron, he nonetheless set aside the time to brush up on his skills. His wife 18 had no such pressing need to train; with a limitless power source and a cybernetic mind, she had the capability of assessing and exploiting an opponent's weaknesses on the spot. When Gohan wasn't playing vigilante as Saiyaman, he was training his girlfriend Videl to use her ki and hone her skills as a fighter. Bulma had registered her now eight year old son in the upcoming tournament in advance. She at first hesitated when Trunks enthusiastically asked for her permission to participate. Knowing that his friend Goten and his older brother Gohan were competing, how could he not? But when Bulma saw that familiar look of determination and enthusiasm for battle, she conceded.
It had been nearly a year since Vegeta had disappeared. As soon as the Dragon Balls recharged, Bulma had set about the task of gathering them. All that time she had still entertained hope that Vegeta would return, if not for her, then at least for their son. Trunks struggled with his father's absence terribly. Months after Vegeta's disappearance, Trunks had begun to believe that his father simply decided to leave and not come back. One night, in a fit of anguish, he ascended to Super Saiyan. Since then, the boy's aptitude and interest in pushing his physical boundaries, training with Gohan, and sparring with his best friend Goten had only grown. The regular spars with his best friend seemed to be helping him cope, but it pained Bulma. She had noticed the subtle change in her son's personality, and she was fully aware of the motivation behind the physical activity; it was exactly how Vegeta had dealt with his own issues.
Over the course of the next two weeks Bulma had been gathering the Dragon Balls. It was a slower endeavor than it had been in the past. Rather than making a single, long excursion she instead opted to gather them intermittently before touching base back home. She no longer had the luxury of extended get-aways, not when she needed to be present physically and emotionally for her son. She supposed it would have been faster if she had asked her friends for help, but she felt they had helped enough when they aided in her search for her husband. She had briefly deliberated in divulging her plans to Trunks and bringing him along, but opted not to; she didn't want to get his hopes up. What if Vegeta were to simply leave again if wished back? It was just as much likely that he had chosen to leave them; in all likelihood he would be incensed if she wished him back home. But, she was going to try. At the very least she and Trunks may be able to gain some closure.
Bulma was returning to Capsule Corp from her most recent excursion, the three star Dragon Ball in her possession. There was only one left to go. As Bulma's jet touched down on the landing pad, her thoughts swung back to the conversation she had with Yamcha nearly a year ago.
Bulma was sitting at the small dining table in the kitchen, Yamcha leaning up against the counter adjacent to her. They were each nursing a bottle of beer. Trunks had long since gone to bed.
Yamcha studied his ex for a few moments. He hated seeing her like this. She was a tough woman but she was understandably distraught, and he didn't blame her. Years ago, he wouldn't have put it past Vegeta to walk out on them. While the Saiyan's reaction to Future Trunks's death changed his perspective a bit on the alien, Yamcha was still honestly surprised that the prince decided to stick around after Cell's defeat. He even went so far as to marry Bulma. Yamcha remembered being absolutely floored when he received THAT news.
He had accepted their relationship by that time and had since moved on himself. So, it came as something of a shock when Vegeta had suddenly disappeared after living at Capsule Corp for the past six years. Yamcha didn't believe for a second that anything had happened to him; there was no way anything on Earth could have gotten the drop on the powerful prince. The only logical explanation was that for some reason, after all this time, he reverted back to his loner lifestyle and decided to leave. Apparently there had been more trouble in their marriage than Bulma had ever let on.
"It's his loss, Bulma," he finally told her quietly.
Bulma sighed. "Yamcha…"
"Bulma, you're my friend. I'll never stop caring about you, and whatever it is you want to do, I support you. I just…well using the Dragon Balls to wish him back home is only going to piss him off."
Bulma shook her head and spoke almost to herself. "Something happened Yamcha." She looked back at her ex-boyfriend. "Gohan told me how his energy felt, that he was distressed-"
"Yeah but you two did have a fight." Bulma said nothing to that, turning her head away and taking a swig of her beer. "I have no doubt about what Gohan said. But Vegeta's reaction doesn't necessarily mean he was in danger or anything. None of us picked up on any other power levels, and I can't see anything on this planet bringing him down."
"You say that but what about the Androids, and Cell?" she asked as she looked back at him.
"They didn't kill him, Bulma." Bulma was quiet for a moment, her eyes lowering. She looked away and began absent-mindedly peeling at the label on her beer bottle as Yamcha continued. "You're tough as hell, Bulma…stubborn too," he said affectionately. Bulma betrayed a mirthless snort at this. "But there's some things you just can't force. From the beginning you wanted to help the guy out, but a drowning man can pull his rescuer down to drown with him. You can't afford to do that to yourself - or Trunks."
"I have to try, Yamcha," she replied quietly. "Yeah, he's been gone longer than a year before, but that was when he and everyone else was training for the Androids. If something happened to him then I'll have to summon Shenron before the year is out. If it turns out he's been fine the whole time and just decided to skip out, then I accept that. However pissed he'll be with me for forcing him back here I'll deal with that too. I have a few words for him of my own." There was silence for a moment, and she took another swig of her beer. "After that he can do whatever the hell he wants." She looked back up at her ex. "But I'll be alright Yamcha, ok?"
"Ok, Bulma," he replied softly. "Just know I'll always be here for you."
Bulma gave him a small smile of gratitude. "Thanks, Yamcha."
She got out of her hover jet as she slung the knapsack of encapsulated provisions and weapons over her shoulder. After a moment she rummaged around in the pack, her hand bumping against the recovered Three Star Dragon Ball before it closed around the Dragon Radar. She lifted it out and activated it, frowning thoughtfully. The last Dragon Ball resided where it had been since she activated the device at the onset of her expedition: Mount Eroso, in the Imoy Mountains. It was the very place where Vegeta was last known to have been. She had purposely put off retrieving that particular orb up until the very last. It wasn't a place she was eager to revisit. Her eyes becoming distant. Once she had the last Dragon Ball, she hoped to bring Vegeta back. If nothing else then just for closure. The thought of the confrontation filled her with apprehension, as did the foray for the final Dragon Ball.
"Well, I can at least get the ball rolling…so to speak," she muttered to herself. Bulma knew full well her tendency to procrastinate on tasks that she was reluctant to do. In her experience, she found it helped to take some baby-steps and get things moving. She walked into the hangar that held several newly designed hoverjets, specialized for specific environments. The area she would next be headed was cold and mountainous, so she went straight to the recently completed CC-Z-15; it was an aircraft specifically designed to withstand high altitudes, low temperatures, and turbulence. Additionally, its landing gear was comprised of a set of self-adjusting, quadrupedal legs that could enable the jet to safely touch down on the most uneven terrain. Perfect for where she'd be headed. She entered the jet and sat down in the pilot's seat before activating the aircraft's internal GPS. Pulling the radar out of the knapsack, she activated it and began punching in the coordinates.
She sighed. "There. First step towards the final move." She nodded to herself. Tomorrow. She would get it tomorrow - more than enough time before the year was out. With a deep, cleansing breath, she stuffed the radar back into the knapsack, shut everything off, and headed towards the house. Trunks was off on a class field trip, and Goten would be arriving late afternoon for a sleepover. She figured she'd better start lining up a pizza order; knowing their appetites, they'd need to allow enough time for the large order to be finished. She pulled the Dragon Ball out as she entered the house and rather carelessly deposited the knapsack on the kitchen counter. She went off to add the Dragon Ball to its companions, safely protected in a high security safe down in her lab.
While Bulma had been preoccupied with gathering the Dragon Balls, the Z Senshi were preparing to compete in the upcoming Tournament. On the day of the Martial Arts Tournament they would reunite once again, and an old friend from another dimension would be paying them a visit.
Back in Otherworld, Goku looked forward to the Martial Arts Tournament with great anticipation. Per his request, Goku had been granted 24 hours to visit Earth and participate in the event. As much as he looked forward to putting his newly cultivated abilities to the test, he couldn't wait to see his family and friends again. How would Gohan look? Did he keep up with his training? He sure looked forward to Chi-Chi's cooking again - she'd probably have a big spread prepared after the tournament. He'd be sure to get his fill before he had to head back to Otherworld. As he practiced on King Kai's small, restored planet, Goku's thoughts drifted to another. Doubtless, Vegeta would have kept up with his own training. Just what new heights had he reached? Goku very much hoped to go head to head with the Saiyan Prince once more.
Down below, King Kai was busy waxing his red convertible. He was nearly finished buffing it to a shine when his back went rigid as he was assaulted with a psychic onslaught. His antennae twitched and his mouth became a rigid, hard line. Something was occurring on Earth - it was a ripple that he had experienced before. At the time, he had thought nothing of it - background noise before a planet's civilization was wiped out. In the life of a kai, the births and deaths of planets were par for the course, as was the rise and fall of civilizations. It wasn't unheard of for highly advanced races to reach the height of their evolution only to destroy themselves along with the planet that hosted them. It looked like Earth was once again in danger of annihilation, apparently through its inhabitants' own folly. In retrospect he figured it was inevitable; just a short while ago the planet faced destruction due to the machinations of one deranged, vengeful scientist. If it weren't for Goku's intervention, Dr. Gero would have succeeded. He looked over his shoulder at the figure suspended in the sky practicing his new kata.
King Kai was as aware as the next god that he was not supposed to meddle in the affairs of mortals. However it was a little late for that, if the halo that hung over his head was any indication. King Kai sighed, deliberating for a moment. How in all of Creation did he get so entangled with Goku and his beloved planet? He couldn't deny that even though his pupil drove him crazy (and inadvertently destroyed his planet seven years ago and took his life in the process), he had grown to care deeply for the Saiyan. He had strength, heart, and a will that couldn't be matched by anything he had ever encountered in his existence. That certainly counted for something. At the very least, he deserved a chance to intervene. He was planning on visiting Earth anyway. He shouted at the figure in the sky. "Goku! Come down here right now."
Goku stay suspended in the air regarding King Kai with bewilderment before descending down to the ground. "What is it? What's up, King Kai?" he asked.
King Kai looked up, his flashing sunglasses effectively hiding the serious look in his eyes. "You may want to leave for Earth sooner than you planned."
It was a nearly cloudless, late afternoon over Satan City. People bustled about, crossing the streets and driving their hovercars. Trunks boarded his school bus for the ride home from his class field trip. The buses rolled out one by one as they made their way through the streets, heading towards the freeway that would take them back to West City. Trunks was sitting by the window, watching the sights roll by. It was Friday, and he was looking forward to his friend Goten coming over for their sleepover. Just then his cell phone began to buzz in his pocket. He reached in and looked at the caller ID before unlocking his phone.
"Hi Mom, what's going on?"
"Hi honey. I just wanted to let you know that Goten is already here. He got done with his studies early so Chi-Chi let him fly over."
"Man he's so lucky to be homeschooled. Why can't I do that, Mom?"
"Because I think you'd drive your poor mother crazy if you were home all the time."
"Tch. Whatever, Mom. Well I'll see you guys in a little….bit." Trunks's voice trailed off as he caught sight of an almost imperceptible shimmer of circular movement off to his right. It was weird; it looked as though the atmosphere itself was rippling.
"Trunks? Hey is everything ok?"
The spinning increased before a small, circular tear of blackness appeared in the atmosphere amidst the city's buildings. Trunks's eyes were locked on the strange phenomenon. "Yeah, I…" he answered distractedly. "There's something really weird going on, Mom."
The vortex quickly began to yawn open, growing to an alarming size before the atmosphere itself seemed to rip open to another world. The children on the bus began to scream and point. The students on the opposite side of the bus crossed over to press their faces against the window, ignoring the bus driver's commands to sit back down. Bulma could here the cacophony on the other end, and she was suddenly gripped with fear. "Trunks? Trunks! What's happening?"
Beyond the towering buildings of Satan City, An absolutely enormous, shockingly white beast crowned with a mane of shaggy black hair lumbered out from the spinning vortex. Within seconds the whole of the streets had erupted in pure panic. Several cars swerved off the streets, some to avoid the stampeding pedestrian, and collided into one another. At that point the school buses, including the one Trunks was on, rear ended the now grid-locked cars in front of them. Trunks dropped his cell phone and it slid to the front of the bus. Panicked motorists abandoned their vehicles and took to the streets as the massive beast heedlessly crushed anything in its path.
The temperature in the air suddenly plummeted, and a half a second later countless shadowy wisps spread out from the periphery of the portal, flanking the four-legged kaiju's feet. They continued to spread out through the opening, their very presence slowly painting the world in shadows and dark ice. Like a spreading frost, the shadows imprisoned and transmuted every surface they passed over within a veneer of blackened, cracked ice: streets, buildings, vehicles. Even the minute particles of moisture in the air and the smog of the city itself was touched with the icy poison, the blackness spidering out and upwards into the air like ink in water. The atmosphere darkened to form oppressive black clouds in the sky, plunging the city below into darkness.
Within moments of their arrival the black, smoky forms - thousands of Kagemazoku - descended upon the fleeing throng of humanity. They pursued their quarry across the streets, down into the subways, into the buildings, all the while transmuting every surface they touched. The specters took form, slashing and impaling the frightened people with aphotic blades of ice, freezing them in their tracks before the demons themselves passed right through their immobilized victims. The moment they did, their quarry became blackened corpses, their clothing aging and tattering in an instant as though the bodies had been slowly decaying for centuries. A half a second later and the bodies turned to shadow before disappearing completely; the Kagemazoku were feeding off of them.
The panic among the surviving spectators increased tenfold as they fled in terror, trampling each other in a desperate bid to escape. Their shrieks rivaled the intermittent, deafening howl of the plodding kaiju as the Kagemazoku proceeded to almost lazily attack the terrified people. Other Kagemazoku collapsed into the streets into pools of shadow before streaming through the ground like a slow moving poison through the bloodstream. Masses of shadow creeped out beyond the city limits, spidering streams of ink moving inexorably towards neighboring cities and towns and throughout the countryside.
In the wastelands, deep in a subterranean lair, a mysterious cocoon pulsing with powerful negative energy wasn't even safe.
"Trunks! Answer me!" Bulma yelled into the phone. She was standing in the living room, her parents and Goten distracted from their television program as they watched her panic unfold.
Dr. Briefs stood from the couch. "Bulma, honey, what is it?" he asked, urgency lacing the usually laid-back scientist's voice.
Bulma lowered the cell phone from her ear as she turned to address her father. Just then the tv program was interrupted by a breaking emergency report. From the video captured by the numerous drones that routinely patrolled the sky over Satan City, a tsunami of shadows could be seen cascading and flooding the streets, seemingly transforming the city itself into a darkened corpse. At the center of it all was a bizarre, ghost-white quadrupedal creature absolutely terrifying in size. Bulma could only stare at the horrifying sight on the tv, and she nearly dropped her phone.
"This just in, Satan City is under attack. Repeat: Satan City is under attack. Mandatory evacuation is in effect. Anyone entering Satan City is advised to turn back. Repeat: Mandatory evacuation is in effect. Anyone entering Satan City is advised to turn back."
"Oh my god, Trunks." Bulma whimpered. She looked to her parents. "Dad, Mom. Stay with Goten. I'm going after Trunks."
"Aunt Bulma, what's happening? Is my brother ok?" Seeing the breaking news bulletin and the adults' reactions worried the 7 year old. His big brother Gohan went to Orange Star High in Satan City. Goten had been training in his telepathy and ki sensing, but he was still a novice. At the moment, he couldn't reach his brother.
Bulma gave him a smile of reassurance that she wasn't truly feeling. "Gohan will be alright, Goten, I know it. He's the toughest guy on the planet. He can fly faster than any of my hover jets; I'm sure he's already out of the city. We'll all regroup and figure out what's going on. Just sit tight ok, sweetie?"
"Ok, Aunt Bulma," Goten nodded, though he was still a little worried. But Bulma was right; his big brother was the toughest guy on the whole planet, and he'd be ok. Bulma gave him a parting hug of reassurance and jogged out of the room. She went through the kitchen on the way to the door, grabbing the knapsack off the counter. She may need to use the encapsulated weapons inside. Quickly boarding her hoverjet, she flew straight to Satan City.