[ Contents | XVIII. Venom | XIX. Serpent of Darkness | XX. Bad Moon Rising ]


By Dragoness Eclectic



Goku dashed frantically around the house, looking in jars and boxes--and driving Chi-chi nuts.

"Goku! Just tell me what you are looking for!" She picked up yet another bag he'd tossed down from the shelf.

"Senzu! There's got to be some around here; I know I had at least one left!" Goku's usually sunny face was clouded with worry.

"You mean the one that WAS in this box?" Chi-chi asked, holding out a small wooden puzzle box, open and empty. "I gave it to Gohan for the burns he got fighting that evil sorceror. You're just going to have to get more from Karin--or take Raditz to a hospital."

BANG! Gohan rushed in the front door, letting it fall shut behind him. "Dad, Piccolo said--"

"GOHAN!" Chi-chi put her hands on her hips, furious. "Is that how I brought you up? Is that how I taught you to enter the house?"

"I'm sorry, mom.. I didn't mean to let the door slam," Gohan said meekly. "Dad, it won't do any good to take Raditz to a hospital--they're all wrecked, and the ones that aren't, are full." Gohan said somberly.

"What?" Goku looked surprised. "What happened?"

"That earthquake.. you felt it, it was really, really bad in the city. That's why I was late getting home from school, mom--the bus was stranded, and I was taking the other kids home so their parents wouldn't worry about them."

"Oh, Gohan!" Chi-chi hugged her eldest son. "I'm proud of you!" Goku beamed, also pleased with his son.

"I'm going to Karin Tower. Take care of my brother, Chi-chi; I'll be back as soon as I can." Goku put two fingers to his forehead, concentrated for a second, and was gone in a flash.

Chi-chi stepped into the darkened bedroom where Raditz lay shivering. Goten crouched beside the bed, looking forlorn; he refused to leave his uncle's side, and Chi-chi hadn't the heart to drag him away. In her heart, she doubted that Raditz would live to the next sunrise--unless Goku returned very soon with senzu.

She and Goku had cleaned and bandaged the terrible gashes on Raditz's back and chest and taped up his broken ribs. Those were bad, but they weren't bad enough to kill Goku's long-haired brother. Raditz was dying of the demon's poison.

The long-haired Saiyan drifted in and out of agonized consciousness, alternately sweating and shivering. She didn't need to touch him to feel the heat from the fever ravaging him, nor did Chi-chi need a medical degree to know that his sudden and extreme sensitivity to light, and the red bruises appearing all over his body were bad signs.

"Hurry back, Goku," Chi-chi whispered.

*      *      *      *

Piccolo hovered above the damaged Capsule Corp compound. Where would Bulma and Trunks be staying in all this mess? He couldn't sense them anywhere-- which wasn't too surprising where Bulma was concerned, her ki was very weak, but he had expected to sense Trunks. Perhaps the boy had a very low ki when he was sleeping.

Over there.. Dr. and Mrs. Briefs house. He could sense their weak kis. A sense of forboding filled Piccolo--something was wrong. Finally he touched down in front of the small Capsule house that Bulma had shared with Vegeta. The green warrior touched the door; it slid open.

"What?" he muttered. "It shouldn't be unlocked!" Piccolo listened; nothing. He stepped inside.

It was dark; the Namek formed a small ki ball to light the way. Some of the disarray from the earthquake had been straightened up, things picked up and put away, but not all of it. Still no one in sight. Quickly, Piccolo checked the rest of the small house, feeling uncomfortably like an intruder in his rival's house.

No one here--but two beds were still warm. Someone had slept here; Piccolo plucked a long blue hair from a pillow. "They were here... No signs of a struggle." The light brightened at Piccolo's command; he finally saw the muddy footprints tracked across Bulma's otherwise pristine rugs.

He set his foot against one of the prints; the mystery footprint was larger. "Not Bulma or Trunks." The Namek's face was grim; he followed the trail back to Trunk's room. As he bent to study the prints, a small object under the bed caught his eye.

Piccollo reached out and picked it up. "Tranquilizer dart. They've been kidnapped by someone who knew not to let Trunks have a chance to fight back." His fist tightened, crushing the heavy dart. "I'm too late."

*      *      *      *

"What do you mean, Karin-sama, you don't have any senzu??" Goku danced from one foot to the other, panicking. "My brother will DIE if we can't heal him!"

"Now, now, Goku, calm down. I said I didn't have any ripe right NOW. There's a nice crop that's almost ripe; it just needs a few more hours of sunlight." The ancient enchanted white cat shuffled from one bush to the next, inspecting the beans. "You can have some tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow morning?? Oh, no!" Goku's eyes were huge. "I don't think Raditz will live that long!"

Karin shook his white-furred head. "I'm sorry, Goku, but you know that unripe beans are no good. I can't make the sun come up any faster."

Goku stared at Karin. "Make the sun come up faster?" he said, a strange look on his face. "No, you can't." Sudden determination gripped him. "But I can!" He clenched his fist, and started to concentrate, the veins on his temples standing out. Energy started to gather around his hand. "Close your eyes, Karin!"

Karin shield his eyes at Goku's warning--just in time. The ball of energy in Goku's hand blazed with a blinding light; then Goku threw it into the sky above, where it swelled and blazed down like the sun.

"Goku! You created a small sun! You're such a wild man, I never know what you're going to do next!" Karin grinned as much as a cat ever grins.

"When I fought Vegeta, back when he first came to Earth, he created a small moon so he could change into a giant ape," Goku mused. "I remembered how he did it, and just changed the light to be like sunlight, instead of moonlight."

Karin held out a forepaw. "Hmmm.. looks like sunlight, feels warm as sunlight--it might work. We'll know in an hour or two. Join me for tea, Goku, and we'll watch the beans ripen."

*      *      *      *

"It was wise of you to bring your concern to me, O King," Dende, Kami of Earth, said to King Vibishana. The Rakshasa King stood near the rail of Kami's Lookout, looking down with deepseeing sapphire eyes. Dende watched him.

"Am I wise? It was Prince Vegeta who was right, and I who was wrong about the demon. It is as he said--a threat to all that lives; destruction incarnate." Vibishana the Good Demon wrapped his red velvet cloak about himself, brooding.

"You are wise enough to admit your mistake, and seek advice," Dende answered, smiling. "I wish that all people had so much wisdom!" The young god turned somber again. "This monster has hidden itself from even my sight--without your help I would have known nothing of it until it rose in power. I will do what needs be done, but--" he sighed.

"--they will pay a heavy price--or so you fear," King Vibishana observed.

Dende nodded. "There are limits to my powers, and to what I may do-- and that must be so, or I would be a greater agent of destruction than even this monster of Chaos."

Ebon lips curved in a hard smile. "So, too, have I limits--but my limits are different from yours, O Indra-Dende, as are my powers." Demon King Vibishana bowed to Dende. "With your leave, I will return to my kingdom now, and prepare to fulfill a promise I made to a prince..."

"Do what you must, and do it well, O King."

"I shall indeed."

*      *      *      *

Far below, in ravaged Satan City, the daughter of the Rakshasa King looked out over the battered city. Sinhika turned her head to look at the man beside her.

"Sean, I don't think Pomona and Melc are going to show. They might have gotten caught in the quake, or gotten stuck or something."

Sean swiped his black hair back out of his eyes, and lit another cigarette. "Why don't you just say what you mean--they could have gotten killed dead, or maybe they're just lying somewhere bleeding to death!" He was tired, too tired to put any anger into his voice.

"Fine! I'll go look for them, and I'll see if I can find any groceries. You, stay put in case they--or anyone else--show up. It's YOUR apartment, not mine--I'd have a hard time explaining what I was doing rooting through your stuff if the cops or the militia show up."

"I'm too tired to argue any more. Look, just be careful, okay? Don't go and get mugged by looters or anything like that." Sean tried not to think about what a crazy thing Sinhika was doing, going out in the shattered city after dark, but he'd given up trying to argue her out of it. Arguing with her when her mind was made up had proved to be like arguing with a brick wall--he could yell, threaten, scream all evening, and at the end of it Sinhika still did exactly what she wanted to do. He sighed.

And don't ever mention to her the possibility that a woman might need to be protected by a man from whatever dangers lurked in the city--she'd gone ballistic at the merest hint of the idea! Sean took a long drag on his cigarette. He still couldn't figure out how suggesting that he might be better able to deal with hypothetical "bad guys" in the dark equated to 'being so afraid of an independent woman that he wanted to put her back in purdah and veil', but he wouldn't make that mistake again.

"I'll be fine, Sean," Sinhika answered through gritted teeth as she headed out the door.

"Yea, sure." He frowned as the door swung shut behind her, not noticing that Sinhika went upstairs, toward the roof, instead of downstairs to the street.

His nextdoor neighbor Caleb didn't notice that fine point of fact either; he merely noted that the girl had left--Sean would be all alone in the apartment. He smirked to himself. Time to let the boss know, Caleb thought as he punched a number into his cell phone.

*      *      *      *

For Prince Vegeta, sitting still and watching the river flow by was the hardest part, as always. He craved action--sudden violence, and the fury of battle--but now was not the time. Vengeance would be his, but only if Vegeta used all of his patience and cunning. His enemy had a weakness; Vegeta merely had to find it. The Saiyan prince remembered well Vibishana's thoughts on the matter, when in his pessimism Vegeta had pronounced the demon unkillable.

The Rakshasa King had looked at Prince Vegeta with deep-seeing sapphire eyes. "I reject the thing as impossible. Unslayable Ravana was careless, and slain in the end by a human--and it was Brahma himself who granted my brother invulnerability and power. What is this demon? Shall I deem its power greater than the Creator's and the Preserver's? I think not. There will be a weakness or a matter of carelessness, do not doubt that."

You were careless, demon. Or, rather, you will be careless! I think I understand what you did, and you were sloppy, Cacodemon! You made a mistake--and if you made one mistake, you will make a second mistake sooner or later--and I will have you!

Vegeta smiled coldly to himself--then grabbed the gunwale abruptly as the boat rocked under his feet. "What the--? Ferryman! I see no rapids--have you gotten careless at the oar?"

The dark Ferryman looked steadily over his shoulder at the huge wake trailing the ship, the wake of some huge submerged thing closing rapidly on the boat. "I warn---"

The deck heaved wildly as the small black ship was lifted high into the air on the back of a glistening, black, scaly back that arched suddenly out of the water. Vegeta was catapulted into the air in a high arc that would have dropped him into the seething river, had he not gained control and hovered high above the writhing coils of glistening darkness. He noted that somehow, Modgudh and Kadru managed to hang on to the bucking, dancing craft, and the Ferryman still gripped the steering oar, as unbothered by the wild dance as if his feet were glued to the deck.

The great coil rolled, and the boat slid off that monstrous back, to splash broadside into the water. Apep rose from the depths of the Stygian Nile, titanic jaws agape. Higher and higher he rose, until the great snake's dull black eyes looked down on Vegeta from a hundred yards above.

The Night Serpent's jaws gaped wide enough to swallow two of the Ferryman's boat; dull black cat-eyes stared down, always focussed on Prince Vegeta. Rows of backward-slanting teeth gleamed white in its jaws.

Suddenly, it struck! It plunged down like a runaway locomotive sheathed in coal-black glistening scales, irresistable and unstoppable.

A sudden burst of speed, and Prince Vegeta dodged the monster's gaping maw--it was slower than he. Barely slower; titanic jaws snapped shut mere feet from Vegeta's toes.

The Saiyan prince smirked, and plunged down, his crest of black hair nodding in the breeze of his own slipstream. Vegeta slammed into the broad top of the snake's head--and rebounded with a brief gasp of pain. That thing was tougher than rock or steel! It was more than just a large snake--Vegeta's blow would have crushed and pierced the skull of any defenseless mortal animal.

Apep turned his head to watch Vegeta again, and reared back, preparing to strike again. Great cat-pupils dilated, and contracted hastily as crackling golden energy surrounded Vegeta, and his hair turned to flaming gold once again.

The Night Serpent hissed in rage and hate, and struck again; again Vegeta dodged. Prince Vegeta looked down at the snake from just above its right eye, and held out his hand.

"Burning Attack!" A fiery fan of ki spread from Vegeta's hand to envelope the snake's face; just before it struck, Vegeta saw the snake's eye slam shut. The ki blast struck the glistening black scales, and sunk into them without a trace. The scales glistened a bit more brightly, and Apep opened his eye again.

"Kuso!" The dead prince snarled, and snapped off a tight blast at that immense eye staring him in the face. Caught by surprise, Apep did not close his eye in time.

The blast seared and burnt the supernal snake's eye; Apep's head snapped back and he bellowed in pain, writhing and thrashing the length of the Seventh Hour. Caught by the lashing tail, the black boat was hurled out of the water and beached high on the haunted shore; the mast snapped off and hull planks smashed in.

Maddened with the pain of his blinded eye, Apep snapped repeatedly at Vegeta, missing every time, but forcing the Saiyan prince to ever retreat, not attack.

"Enough of this!" Up and up he flew, the great dark serpent pursuing after. At last he turned; the veins stood out from his forehead, and the corona of energy around Vegeta's body crackled and sparked. He put out one hand toward the demonic snake, then braced the other, paralyzed hand against it.

"HAI-YAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Vegeta screamed as he sent a blazing white column of ki energy slamming down into the snake's gaping maw! Apep recoiled and plunged down, down into the river, smoke trailing from his half-closed jaws.

Prince Vegeta hovered just above the roiling water, watching for some sign of the Night Serpent. "You can't hide that easily!" he shouted, holding his arms out straight to either side, right palm out, left hand still limp. Below him, the water swirled and drained away, as if pressed down by a tremendous wind. Finally the water parted all the way to the river's muddy bed, full of dead bones, shattered armor and broken swords. The water retreated, an ever-widening encircling wall around Vegeta as his will beat upon it.

The water retreated--until stopped by an encircling wall of scaly darkness. Apep brooded in the bed of the river, and was not pleased. One eyesocket was empty, burnt white as ash, and flesh hung in burnt strips from the titanic snake's mouth. Black scales glowed with a faint light. The great head swung around, and hissed at Vegeta.

Even as the snake gathered itself to strike, the dead prince struck. With all his Super-Saiyan fury and strength, Vegeta darted down and smashed the monstrous snake at the base of its skull.

CRUNCH! The sheer force of the blow numbed Vegeta's arm to the shoulders; spray and mud were thrown up in a blinding sheet from one bank of the Stygian Nile to the other. The concussion of the blow rang from wall to wall of the Seventh Hour, cracking stone that had stood unmarred since before the Pyramids were raised.

"CHIKUSHO! What does it take to kill you?" Vegeta stared, appalled, as the spray settled. Apep reared back, burnt mouth agape; where Vegeta had struck, one scale of countless myriads was cracked across.

*      *      *      *


[ Contents | XVIII. Venom | XIX. Serpent of Darkness | XX. Bad Moon Rising ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic