Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Dominion ( Chapter 34 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]


Goku was thrown face first into the dirt, and he took in a deep, wheezing breath of air. He could breathe again. He cracked his eyes open to a darkened landscape bathed in silvery light; he was in a rocky, arid desert dotted with cliffs. Weakly, he rolled onto his back to look up at a starry sky. He continued to take great gasps of air, filling his oxygen starved lungs as his body recovered from near death.

"Recognize it, Kakarot?" Touketsu-Vegeta slowly walked up to stand beside him, arms crossed as he looked out at the nightscape. "This is the wasteland where we fought our first battle. Looks a bit different at night, doesn't it?" A smirk crept across his face, his tail lashing once behind him. "It also looks different with a full moon in the sky." Goku paled. He struggled to get up to no avail as the demon prince began circling him like a predator. "It was absent last we were here," he continued. "Now, a very wise man once told me that one can't move forward until he's put the past behind him. To best do that, the past must die. We're going to finish what we started, Kakarot, since you were too merciful to do it yourself."

Goku attempted to go Super, but it was in vain; he was far too weakened. Touketsu-Vegeta was now pacing back and forth in front of him, tapping one black claw to his lower lip in mock-thought. "Now let's see…where did we leave off before we were interrupted by your irritating friends? Ah yes." He stopped, backlit against the moonlight as he looked down at Goku. A wicked, fanged grin spread across his face. "I went Oozaru, and I was crushing the life out of you." Goku watched as the prince gave him his back to look up at the sky.

Goku finally began gathering his wits after his near asphyxiation. The senzu bean. Did he still have it? Hoping against hope that he hadn't lost it during their fight, Goku checked under the waistband of his gi where he had tucked the pouch.

Touketsu-Vegeta's crimson eyes meanwhile had locked onto the full moon above. He went into an almost trance-like state as his pupils were swallowed into the red of his irises. The blood pumped through this ears, and his breathing became labored as it deepened to a demonic pitch. He shut his eyes, and when he opened them again they were entirely red. He grit his teeth as his fangs lengthened. His body grew in size, his nose and mouth lengthening into a muzzle. The fur on his body spread and grew in length as his long, black hair extended down his back into a crest.

At last Goku's hand closed around a small leather pouch. Holy crap, there it is! His weakened body making his movements clumsy, he awkwardly wrenched the pouch out from under his gi. His heart sank a little when he saw that it appeared to have opened. Quickly, he poured the solitary contents out into the palm of his hand.

Nothing came out.

Oh shit, Goku thought bleakly. It had come open at some point during their vicious battle. The bean had been lost. The deep base of an ominous growl rumbled through the earth and into Goku's bones. Then, a terrifying howl ripped through the atmosphere. Goku snapped his head up to his rapidly growing foe.

Touketsu-Vegeta dropped to all fours. The creature's knuckles hit the desert ground with a land-quaking crash, the transformation into the Demon Oozaru complete. Its massive tail swung back and forth through the night sky as the gargantuan beast turned to look down at Goku. A deep, demonic chuckle emanated from its throat, the insidious laughter sounding incredibly wrong coming from the animal. With a growl the creature swung a massive forepaw down at Goku.

The Saiyan narrowly dodged the attack, waiting until the last second to make his move. The earth instantly collapsed into a broad crater under the force of the impact, sending a cloud of dust and debris into the air. The creature betrayed a grunt of annoyance, its long tail lashing through the air in frustration. Goku flew backwards to land on a plateau not far away. The creature inhaled, its lungs expanding as the markings between its ribs pulsed with purple energy. Its chest and throat glowed beneath its shaggy mane and a blast of dark power was unleashed from its mouth, completely disintegrating the outcropping of rock before swallowing it into oblivion. Goku quickly took cover behind another range of rocky cliffs, hoping that the beast hadn't seen. Quickly, he submerged his ki.

"OH, KAKAROT. YOU THINK I CAN'T SMELL YOU?" It chuckled in its demonic voice. "BUT THEN, YOU WERE NEVER THAT BRIGHT." It unleashed another blast of energy towards the rubble where Goku was before galloping towards him. Goku leapt up and levitated high above the beast.


Goku hit the creature just off center between its shoulder blades. It was driven back, its claws raking through the dirt, before it turned its attention. Without his Super Saiyan power, the attack appeared to have had little to no effect. It growled and retaliated by unleashing another blast from its mouth. Goku dodged, but the monster anticipated it. It swung its colossal tail in an arc, nailing Goku dead on with a bone cracking smack. Goku was sent hurtling back to the earth in front of the Demon Oozaru. He tumbled to the ground, continuing to skid forward on his face to carve a trench into the rocky terrain. Finally he came to a stop. Bruised and bloodied, Goku was drawing himself up on shaky arms when the expansive shadow of death fell over him. "I'LL JUST BREAK YOUR LEGS. THEN YOU CAN DIE ALONG WITH YOUR PLANET," a deep, rumbling voice growled.

Goku looked up over his shoulder through one squinted eye before rolling over to collapse on his back. The creature stared down at him, red eyes glowing in the darkness of its backlit form. Its muzzle crinkled into what could have been a smile. "I CERTAINLY DIDN'T NEED TO TAKE THIS FORM TO DEFEAT YOU, KAKAROT, BUT IT'S BEEN…THERAPEUTIC," the beast chuckled ominously as it raised its enormous forepaw.

Something sliced through the air. The animal flinched when a chain with a small, curved blade at the end harpooned into its raised paw. Another and another embedded themselves in quick succession, and the animal recoiled with a roar of pain when icy voltage traveled through the chains.

Goku's eyes widened in surprise. All around him, the weapons were flying out of the Oozaru's shadow, one after the other at now blinding speed to harpoon the beast. A moment later, all around him smokey forms ripped past in a continuous, relentless torrent towards the creature standing over him. The Demon Oozaru stumbled back, turning away in apparent panic as it was rapidly surrounded. Seemingly endless in number, the now massive army of Kagemazoku poured out through the beast's shadow. Still utterly spent, Goku could only watch helplessly as the shadowy spirits swarmed like flies around the creature that was Vegeta. They were ignoring Goku; as on Mount Eroso, they seemed to be focused on the task of reclaiming their steed.

It howled in pain as they harpooned it with their chained, icy weapons from all sides, punching through the creature's shaggy fur and piercing its thick flesh. Icy energy blazed through the chains and into the creature, shocking it while it stamped and fought futilely against the restraints. The beast's glowing red eyes widened in growing alarm as it lashed its tail and shook its shaggy head from side to side. Lest he get trampled to death, Goku rolled over and began crawling on his belly in an effort to get away from the panicking beast. His eyes then landed on something minuscule but familiar, glinting in the moonlight less than two yards away.

It was the senzu bean.

It had to have fallen out of its pouch only to get caught underneath the waistband of his ragged gi. It was finally knocked out when he was struck to the ground. Galvanized, Goku clambered up to it. He grabbed the life saving bean and urgently popped it into his mouth.

"NO!" the beast cried out in its deep, guttural voice before howling in rage. "DAAAMN YOOUU!" It chuffed and snorted as it strained and resisted but the numbers game was catching up; now in the thousands, the Kagemazoku were relentless in their attacks. The creature roared in fury as the one-winged shadow demons collectively retracted the chains attached to their arms, bringing the animal crashing to its belly. The other Kagemazoku reeled in the chains buried in its throat, and the beast's head was brought down as its chin crashed into the earth. It snarled and still resisted, trying in vain to wrench its head free of the restraints, but every movement elicited blast after blast of freezing fire through the numerous chains now anchored to its body, subduing its strength. The demons continued to pull, the restraints tightening like a snake's coils around a rat. At last, the Demon Oozaru was completely immobilized. It panted heavily, the air from its nose blasting through the dust. The beast watched as one more, terrible form emerged from its shadow in front of it. Fear flashed in its eyes.

"Ah, we have recovered our wayward pet," Zhernobog crooned. The winged demon's shadowy form stretched and lengthened as he reached up to lay a gentle hand on the massive beast's nose. The Demon Oozaru flinched and growled defensively. "It seems we did not have to intervene at all, now did we, Touketsu? We should have had more faith in you. Your indiscriminate destruction and rage gave us all the strength we needed to restore our army." The demon king smiled, and his tone became condescending. "So, you wished to nullify all of existence in our stead. At least, that is what you claimed to yourself. Look how easily you deviated from your convictions, all to pursue a petty squabble with your old rival. You indulged in it. You even chose to return to your true form to satisfy your vengeance. Do you understand now that the beast was always in your nature? I trust you have at last learned that an animal can never have dominion." Zhernobog dissolved into a shadow to creep up the creature's face even as it recoiled. He resumed his form off center on the top of the beast's neck just behind its head. Holding his right hand off to the side, Tosho took form.

The Demon Oozaru couldn't see what was happening, but it knew what was coming. Panic seized it, and it again strained uselessly against the chains that held it down. "NO! I WON'T SERVE YOU ANYMORE! I REFUSE!" it boomed, its deep, ragged voice betraying its growing desperation.

Zhernobog lay a loving hand into the Oozaru's wild mane. "Oh, but you already have, Touketsu," he affirmed affably to the struggling, panting beast. "You already have." Zhernobog plunged Tosho into the base of the creature's skull, cutting off the animal's protests as it shrieked in agony. Zhernobog pushed his will through the Demon Oozaru's mind, and its eyes began to glaze over. The creature was aware of little else but the will of its master being pumped into its brain, commanding it to submit. The Oozaru began to relax, its head dropping to the ground as it accepted the calling.

Gokus stood and whirled around. "Vegeta! NO!" It had taken precious seconds for the bean to fully work its magic, but Goku's strength was at last restored. His power soaring to new heights after fully recovering from near death, Goku ascended to Super Saiyan 3. Without another thought, he sped forward and lay into the vast army of Kagemazoku that formed a periphery around the Oozaru.

Zhernobog looked up. Goku. Half the Kagemazoku restraining the Demon Oozaru quickly retracted their weapons. Their strength increased after Touketsu-Vegeta's rampage, they retaliated against the interfering Super Saiyan. Protected by his powerful aura, Goku laid into them. He fired his powerful ki energy into the swarming mass of darkness around him, blasting the creatures away each time. Each time he did however the others quickly descended. They couldn't breach his powerful aura with their weapons, but Goku quickly realized that wasn't their aim: they were merely trying to slow him down.

Goku then noticed something else: they were not re-spawning. Had his power increased that much after his near death? Hopeful that Super Saiyan 3 could now be enough to defeat Zhernobog, he changed his strategy. Blasting through the storm of specters, he took to the air where the creatures couldn't reach him. Goku then set his sights on Zhernobog and began to charge a powerful Kamehameha. He had to maintain careful control of the blast and steer its trajectory so as not to hit Vegeta. If the blast didn't destroy Zhernobog, it would at least knock the demon king off as it did the first time and disrupt his mind control.

Zhernobog Daimao stood motionless astride the animal. Then, one by one, the remaining Kagemazoku restraining the now subdued beast retracted their weapons. They melted away into shadows and disappeared until only two soldiers remained, their weapons anchored into the Oozaru's hide on either side. Zhernobog's robes suddenly became voluminous, the billowing energy cascading down the sides of the great beast in a freezing dark vapor. As it splashed and rolled to the desert ground it raced outward in a circle, covering and transmuting the earth into black frost. The vast army of Kagemazoku melted into the expanding circle as it quickly reached the numerous surrounding cliff sides. Still charging his attack, Goku faltered; the darkness sped up the rocky outcroppings, instantly transforming the stone to glossy, obsidian ice. With an upward thrust of Zhernobog's hand, the transformed rock shattered. Again and again the pieces were quickly pulverized by the invisible forces, the roar of the destruction resounding through the night air. The sparkling pieces suspended in the air for only a second before speedily fuzing together.

Goku's eyes widened when he realized what was happening. KAMEHAMEHA! He hastily deployed the accrued energy. It never reached its target. In a fused wave, the icy particles raced upwards in an apex to form an impenetrable dome of warped, smokey ice around Zhernobog and the captured beast. Goku's blast hit the dome only to disperse around it in a wave of blue light before disappearing. Zhernobog had diverted the majority of his now immense power into fortifying the barrier.

"No!" Goku shot blast after blast, raining down a barrage of attacks as he tried desperately to breach the fortress. Goku couldn't break through, and with every second he lost, Vegeta was being lost as well. Urgently, he looked to the animal. The huge beast that was his rival was now in a nearly catatonic state, a ribbon of drool dripping from its great jaws. Oh no. He's slipping. "Vegeta, snap out of it! This isn't what you are! Don't let him take over! FIGHT HIM!" He screamed even as continued to rain down blast after blast upon the dome. Panting, he paused his desperate offensive. Vegeta was nearly gone.

"Oh no!" Goku growled in frustration. "Vegeta!-" In the next instant Goku put two and two together: it was the Oozaru form that was vulnerable to Zhernobog's influence. This was the exact state Vegeta was in when he and the Kagemazoku arrived in Satan City. Goku blinked and his head snapped up.

The moon.

Goku cupped his hand together and drew them to his side. "KAAA-MEEEEH-HAAAA-MEEEEH-HAAAAAA!"

The blast of energy rocketed towards the moon before making impact. A moment later the heavenly body exploded into pieces, its dust hurtling and scattering across space to be lost amongst the glittering blankets of stars.

Instantly, the Demon Oozaru began to rapidly shrink in size. Within moments, Touketsu-Vegeta was on his hands and knees, the chained weapons embedded between his ribs still held fast by the demons flanking him on either side. Breathing heavily, he opened his eyes. They had returned to their normal red, and his mind was beginning to return to him even as Tosho was still buried to the hilt at the base of his skull.

There was an angry growl behind him. The towering demon king roughly grasped him by the shoulder, yanking the dazed prince up to his feet. "You won't be straying from us again, my pet." The demon king's will crept through the blade, pushing its way back into the prince's mind.

Shaken out of his disorientation, Touketsu-Vegeta's eyes widened when he realized that Zhernobog was again attempting to regain control. With a desperate gasp he arched his back, reaching behind his head and grasping Tosho in an urgent effort to extract it. The Kagemazoku at his sides pulled the chains taut when he began to struggle before sending currents of icy voltage into him. He screamed in pain as he shuddered under the shocking cold, the terrible energy coursing through his veins and shackling his strength. He grit his teeth and persisted in vain to pull the sword from the base of his skull. Zhernobog tightened his clawed grip into the prince's shoulder, the skin blackening at the point of contact. Touketsu-Vegeta felt his will fast diminish as the demon king fed upon his strength while stoking his despair. He squeezed his eyes shut against the blinding pain, his brow furrowing as he cried out in anguish. When he cracked his eyes open, they were the blank red of the Oozaru once more.

The moon was gone, but it didn't matter now. Tosho was still lodged in his mind, and Zhernobog had reestablished the mental connection while the prince had been in the susceptible state of the Oozaru. No matter how tenuous it now was, the beast could be drawn back out. Touketsu-Vegeta felt himself losing the battle, slipping back into the mind of the unthinking animal. His demonic eyes dulled. His past had appeared to be his future. He realized right then that he had made it so. In his rage and despair he had accepted it as an immutable truth, and he had surrendered completely to it. He had ignored the voice of hope pleading to him. He had ignored…them. He saw them both now in his mind's eye, and his brow creased with grief. Damning, unforgiving regret filled his heart. He had a chance. He had multiple chances to alter his path. Every step he took he was given chance after chance after chance to change course and end this cycle. And every time he failed.

You. You were both my chance. My chance at a new life. I didn't see it for what it was. And now, I've lost it. I failed you. Touketsu-Vegeta felt his knees begin to buckle, and his eyes drifted closed. I failed myself. Zhernobog continued to pump the crippling despair into the prince's body while simultaneously feeding off of what little remained of his strength and will. The call of his master, worming its way through his brain, beckoned to him. He groaned in agony and the timbre of his voice deepened. Touketsu-Vegeta's grip on the sword began to loosen.

Goku caught his breath. It worked! His brow immediately knit together in concern. Zhernobog still had him - Vegeta couldn't overpower him and his soldiers. Goku flared his energy. "Get off of him!" he screamed, launching blast after blast at the forcefield. Finally, it began to crack. Now that Zhernobog was diverting his efforts into drawing the Oozaru back out, the shield was weakening.

Zhernobog's head snapped up to Goku, a sneer tugging at his lips. "Dispose of that pest," he growled. The two subordinates wrenched their spectral weapons from their captor's flesh, earning a cry of pain from the prince. They faced Goku, battle-ready. Zhernobog pulled the weakened prince up against him, the towering demon's drifting black robes practically swallowing him. "Stay with us, Touketsu," Zhernobog whispered. "There is nothing more for you here. Soon, after we have subjugated this world, we will be leaving." Zhernobog looked up to Goku and closed his eyes. The cracked dome suddenly thinned to the point that it appeared invisible.

With a roar and a final blast of energy, Goku shattered through the dome, its glittering pieces falling to the ground as he rocketed down towards them. Vegeta was being held in front of Zhernobog like a shield; Goku sets his sights on the soldier to the demon king's right. He threw out his arm and released an Angry Kamehameha at the specter. At that precise moment, the Kagemazoku at Zhernobog's left threw out its kusarigama.

The curved blade cut straight through Goku's Super Saiyan 3 aura and buried into his shoulder; Zhernobog had divided all his monstrous power amongst himself and just two soldiers. Goku cried out in pain when icy voltage raced into his spine a fraction of a second before his attack found its target. The first Kagmazoku exploded in the blast, its black blood spreading far and wide and spattering the earth in inky shadows. The other shadow soldier raced forward, dragging Goku backwards through the sky as he dropped down to Super Saiyan 1. The Kagemazoku yanked him out of the sky and flung him to the ground.

Goku hit the earth hard as the spray of dark matter littering the land reshaped into countless Kagemazoku. Goku scrambled up and wrenched the weapon from his shoulder as the other super soldier sped towards him. Goku managed to ascend to Super Saiyan 2 and leapt to the creature's left, blasting it with a Super Kamehameha. Like its brother it exploded in a far reaching burst of black matter. Gripping his oozing shoulder, Goku's power level dropped down to 1. He turned and urgently sped towards Vegeta and Zhernobog. If the Kagemazoku reclaimed Vegeta, they would continue their assault on the multiverse. But in that moment, Goku wasn't thinking of that at all. He wasn't going to leave Vegeta to this fate, his rival's actions be damned. He was going to bring him back; he'd made a promise to his friend.

A curved blade hooked into his ankle, and icy voltage raced up his leg and into his spine. Goku instantly lost his transformation and dropped to the ground, and the Kagemazoku descended upon him like a swarm of locusts. Half of the demons had taken on their spectral forms to enclose him in a barrier, whirling about Goku and trapping him within a sphere that looked like roiling, turgid waters. The suffocating entities siphoned the oxygen right out of the air, further depleting Goku's strength while the others dug their claws into him. Valiantly he fought them off as he continued to make his way towards Vegeta and Zhernobog. He blasted them away when he ascended to Super Saiyan again and again, only to immediately lose the transformation when their soul-deadening projectiles breached his aura. Every time he lost his transformation the demons closed in, digging their clawed gauntlets into him and impaling him with their ghostly swords. Still, Goku kept moving forward. Steadily pumping the life force of the universe in bursts throughout his body, the Super Saiyan flickered like a stubborn lantern flame in a hurricane.

Touketsu-Vegeta squinted through baleful red eyes, the will to live ebbing away. The Kagemazoku were whirling about in a tight sphere, their inky forms trying to snuff out a brilliant light. The sphere grew closer. Distantly, he heard a voice shouting from its center, but he could not understand it. He blinked, and his dull eyes widened marginally. The brilliant golden light steadily neared him, flickering behind the swarming forms of the shadow demons. For a moment the light broke through, reaching beyond the inky blackness swirling about it.

Goku was closing the distance. Straining to reach him as the demons tried pulling him back, Goku threw his right hand out towards Vegeta. Goku continued to channel his Super Saiyan energy in bursts, briefly blasting the soldiers off him and parting the darkness surrounding him each time he did. His outstretched hand was now a foot away from the prince.

"Vegeta! Take my energy!"

Touketsu-Vegeta's eyes sparked slightly in some recognition. Kakarot?

The glowing figure shouted. "You're the Saiyan Prince, you're stronger than this! You've never stopped fighting in your life, don't stop now! Take my energy! Please! FIGHT THEM OFF!"

Touketsu-Vegeta stared at the brilliant light almost in a trance. He blinked. In an instant he wasn't seeing Goku anymore; he saw Bulma and his eight year old son Trunks standing close together in the center of that brilliant light. His eyes widened.

He saw another chance.

He reached out and quickly grasped Goku's hand.

With a scream Goku dug down deep, exploding through his limitations and powering all the way to Super Saiyan 3. The shadow demons were instantly blasted away from him, their embedded weapons freed in the process. The demons that weren't neutralized on contact from the burst of energy flew back to circle around like sharks but kept their distance from the powerful aura. Zhernobog snarled, his typically stoic facade twisting into a rictus of grim determination.

Touketsu-Vegeta's skin began to darken and icy light strummed within. Pained red eyes locked on Goku's. Goku nodded. Touketsu-Vegeta's body plunged to black as his blue aura burst forth. His brow furrowed and he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper.


The power of Super Saiyan 3 flooded Touketsu-Vegeta's body. Goku hissed in agony and grit his teeth as he felt his strength now being drained by both the demon prince and the wounds inflicted by the Kagemazoku. The blackness began to spread up Goku's arm, crawling through his body and up to his jaw. His breath was leaving him, and he struggled to keep from passing out. Through it all, he continued to pump the energy through himself and to his rival. The energy raced through the markings on Touketsu-Vegeta's body.

The demon prince was ready for the influx of power this time, maintaining the dark transformation that would keep the incredible power from tearing him asunder. He continued to hold on, taking on far more energy than he had the first time he used the draining attack on his rival. The power pulsed and strobed throughout the markings until it became a continuous stream of blinding, uninterrupted light. The light suffused the stone in his chest. Grimacing in agony, he at last locked eyes with Goku and nodded.

They let go of each other's hands. Goku flared his Super Saiyan aura, blasting the converging demons away from him before taking to the safety of the skies. The darkness quickly receded from the resilient Saiyan's body when his upswept, golden hair fell, raven black once more. He was completely tapped out. Goku looked on grimly below. Vegeta was on his own.

One hand still clasped over the blade that held him imprisoned, Touketsu-Vegeta squeezed his eyes shut and focused his will. His skin continued to darken to a flat black as he balled up the enormous energy within. His markings radiated with brilliant yellow light, and a golden corona surrounded him as the stone in his chest burned like a sun. Releasing Tosho, Touketsu-Vegeta crossed his arms in front of him and focused on deploying the enormous attack that he had first used against the Kagemazoku. The golden aura began to spin and deform over the top of his body, tearing at Zhernobog and pulling in the Kagemazoku nearest to him. The demons shattered and tore within the cyclone of radiant energy, and the vast army of Kagemazoku around him widened their berth in an effort to avoid the same fate. The dark prince opened his eyes, that of the Oozaru but now a blazing gold.

"KURO-NO-BATSU!" He flung his arms outward with a scream of fury, and a massive wall of energy instantly exploded out in a spinning circle around him, brilliant gold fire with an epicenter of indigo flames. Like a birthing galaxy the spiraling attack developed twin arms of energy, rapidly whipping outward as it grew in circumference. His body still cast in darkness and the blazing light strobing throughout, Touketsu-Vegeta focused all his discipline in controlling the release of the power. It was so much more this time; if he released it all too quickly his body was still in danger of being destroyed. The innumerable Kagemazoku surrounding him were ripped asunder bit by bit, their now inky forms immolating completely as the blast continued to spiral outward. The darkness began to lift from Touketsu-Vegeta's form to gradually join the attack of brilliant energy fanning outward around him.

Through it all, Zhernobog Daimao held fast. Leaving his children to be decimated, he diverted all his energy into maintaining his form. "It won't be quite so simple this time, my pet." Zhernobog spoke calmly behind him. "Your strength has grown to incredible heights. Therefore, ours has as well."

Desperate fear gripped Touketsu-Vegeta. It wasn't enough. The powerful energy was nearly gone - he had to reclaim it. He crossed his arms over his face, and his body quickly darkened to a flat black once more. The widening, brilliant gold hurricane of whirling energy slowed. Then, it reversed its rotation as it began being pulled back towards the dense gravity of the prince's being. Faster and faster it spun as it closed in. The quickly contracting vortex encased the two demonic beings within a tight prison of brilliant, searing energy. The revolving wall of ki was pumped back into the prince while simultaneously being released, the crackling power snapping throughout his dark form and tearing at the crowned parasite behind him. The icy blades comprising Zhernobog's wings began to fracture and break apart. His smoky vestments tore and ripped as they were buffeted about in the searing maelstrom, snapping about behind Touketsu-Vegeta's back like the tattered, black wings of a fallen seraph. Still, like a leech, Zhernobog held fast.

Touketsu-Vegeta's eyes widened fearfully when he realized he was on the brink of losing. "No…no," he ground out feverishly through tightly clenched teeth. He again desperately reached up behind his head and grasped Tosho. His eyes squeezed shut against the pain, his brow furrowing in anguish. "Get out," he rasped, his voice cracking. His chest rose and fell with every desperate breath, and his gold, demonic eyes cracked open. Then, his brows drew down into a hard scowl, his lips peeling back into a fanged snarl. The blank gold of his eyes suddenly snapped back into irises rimmed in blazing ultraviolet, his pupils reappearing. "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"

He allowed the energy in. All of it. The brilliant power raging about the two demons was immediately sucked into the dark void of the prince's being. The powerful gold energy quickly began pulsing at blinding speed to suffuse his circulating blood. "You won't win," Touketsu-Vegeta growled. "I WON'T LET YOU!" He tightened his now burning grip on Tosho. Bit by bit he pulled, the radiant energy blazing from his hands dripping like molten metal and sending stress fractures throughout the blade. The light raced in a continuous stream throughout the markings on his body and face, looking like cracks in an onyx statue about to explode from within. Then the energy began to burn pure white, the stone in his chest blazing like a star about to go super-nova. Touketsu-Vegeta started to lose control. The gold fire leaping from between his fingers suddenly flared to engulf his hands, burning away the shadow. The protective darkness that cloaked his body continued to drift from him like smoke as the gold fire burned down his arms and torso, continuing on until his entire body blazed with blinding white light.

Zhernobog gripped Touketsu-Vegeta's shoulder tight. He dug his icy claws in further as he tried to force the darkness in, but it was no longer taking hold; the supernatural frostbite burned away from Touketsu-Vegeta's white-hot energy. Tiny particles of matter transformed into pure white energy began to drift off the prince's body like a field of stars as his body began to slowly disintegrate. Then, beneath his grip, Tosho began to shatter.

Zhernobog grit his teeth as he fought the losing battle, and a spinning, spherical aura of blistering white ki began to grow from the prince. Zhernobog's left hand burned away from Touketsu-Vegeta's shoulder, and Tosho continued to break apart as the cracks crawled up the demon king's right arm. An expression of acceptance slowly came over Zhernobog's features, and he looked to his servant with what could have been respect. He leaned forward to whisper in Touketsu-Vegeta's ear. "You have proven worthy of your family. We will wait for you, Prince Touketsu."

With a scream of fury, Touketsu-Vegeta managed to pull the blade out completely. The searing energy raced up the sword and Zhernobog's arm, shattering them to pieces. The demon king's dark form quickly joined Tosho's fate, the glittering particles of his remains spinning around the prince before melting into blobs of inky liquid. The black blood burned away in the refulgent energy, the shadowy vapor disappearing completely when a final blast of energy detonated at the brilliant center of the vortex. It exploded outward like a dying star, the power violently ripped itself from Touketsu-Vegeta's body. He staggered back a few steps as the whirling vortex of white fire traveled outward away from him, continuing for nearly 500 miles before at last burning itself out.

Still catching his breath, Goku dropped out of the sky. He landed heavily on his feet before falling to his knees and leaning forward. He was spent, but his body would recover. All was quiet, the faint starlight the only light that remained now. He looked up to see the pale form of Touketsu-Vegeta standing some distance away. Goku watched him warily for a moment.

His ghostly skin appearing almost blue in the darkness, the prince stood in a daze, panting and sheathed in sweat. The residual energy continued to pulse weakly through his markings and the stone, growing fainter and slower with every beat of his heart. Finally, the light died. The garnet markings and the stone that adorned his body darkened to near black, and he swayed on his feet. His red eyes rolled back, and he collapsed backwards onto the earth with a heavy thud.

"Vegeta!" Without another thought, Goku raced over to him. He collapsed on his knees at Touketsu-Vegeta's side as he searched for signs of life. He didn't appear to be breathing. Goku put two fingers to his neck but couldn't feel a pulse.

"Oh, no," he muttered. Goku put his hand over Touketsu-Vegeta's chest and pumped ki into his lifeless body in an effort to restart his heart, even now lending him energy when he barely had enough for himself. "Come on, Vegeta," he muttered. "I've never seen you give up. You didn't give up back there. Frieza destroyed your heart and still you kept going. You were unstoppable when we first fought. You're the most stubborn person I've ever met, and I've known Bulma for a long time, so that's saying something."

Touketsu-Vegeta remained unresponsive. Goku paused, and his face tightened. He regarded the Saiyan Prince, his lifeless body a twisted representation of all the ugliness inside of him. Goku's face cracked. He couldn't keep his promise to Bulma. Could the Dragon Balls bring a demon back to life? Did a demon even have life to begin with? Goku remembered how Vegeta's ki felt when he came back as this creature. It was so very far away…

Vegeta had come so close. After everything they had been through - Frieza, the Androids, Cell - somewhere along the way the prince had begun to allow something other than hatred in his heart. He began to allow Bulma in, his son in. He was becoming someone better. Someone noble at times, even…only to come to this. Somewhere along the way, Vegeta had forged a family that loved him. Now they had lost him to his own fears and his relentless pursuit for power. It was a pursuit that lead him straight to ruin. Goku grit his teeth angrily. The palm on Touketsu-Vegeta's chest curled into a trembling fist, and Goku brought it down hard in frustration. He dropped his head.

Goku swallowed heavily. "And you call me an idiot," he spoke quietly, his voice low. He looked up at Touketsu-Vegeta, his expression hard. "You're a cold-hearted, selfish bastard, Vegeta," he hissed angrily, his voice cracking. He leaned in. "And you're not getting out of this so easily. Now…Get. The hell. UUUUP!" Goku screamed as he sent a large pulse of energy through his fallen rival.

Touketsu-Vegeta's chest heaved as he took in a lungful of air, his eyes snapping open as he gasped. Goku's eyes brightened with overwhelming relief, and he put an arm under his shoulders as he helped him sit up. Too dazed to realize Goku was assisting him, he looked around fervently as he tried to catch his breath. What just happened?

"Hey, it's over. Just breathe," Goku coaxed. Touketsu-Vegeta finally registered Goku's presence. He looked up at him, surprised to see him there. He stared at Goku quizzically for a moment, his brows drawing together in confusion. Finally, he managed to slow his breathing down, and he found his voice.

"Why did you do that?" he asked in one exhausted breath. He shook his head slowly in disbelief. "Why the hell did you bring me back? After everything I did…everything I did to you. Your friends. Your family. Why?"

Goku shrugged a little. "It's who I am."

The prince could only stare up at him in disbelief. He could live a thousand different lifetimes and never figure the man out. "You're an idiot." Finally realizing Goku was supporting him, he braced a hand on the ground behind him and shoved Goku away. "Get off me, imbecile."

Goku withdrew his arm and straightened, one knee on the ground. "They're gone, Vegeta. You did it."

Touketsu-Vegeta just studied him wearily as the moments trickled by in silence. His eyes slid closed, his brow furrowing as he allowed himself to collapse back onto the ground. "Fool," he whispered tiredly. "They'll be back." He sighed as he opened his eyes to stare up at the sky, the moon's destroyed body drifting among the stars. "They will always come back."