[ Contents | XXX. Reunion | XXXI. Cacodemon Rising | XXXII. Convergence Point ]


By Dragoness Eclectic



"DAD!" Gohan flung himself at his father. "I thought you were dead, or trapped, or something! The whole thing blew up!"

"WHOA! Careful, son, you almost knocked me and your brother out of the sky!" Goku steadied himself and Goten. He looked quickly around; Piccolo was holding Nezumi, who regarded Raditz with obvious relief, Sinhika was hovering by herself and glaring at a newcomer who looked much like her save that he was male and had ordinary dark hair. The newcomer was glaring back with equal ferocity.

"MY APARTMENT!" Sean gaped at the empty crater where the building had been.

"Um, let's go somewhere we can get something to eat and catch up," Goku suggested.

"Capsule Corp!" Sinhika, Nezumi and Bulma chorused almost simultaneously.

"Great!" Goku darted off toward the one brightly-lit section of the city.

A few minutes later, Bulma stumbled through the front door of her house, followed by everyone else, except Piccolo, who stayed outside as usual. Any other time, they would have met in the old suite in the Capsule Corp HQ building, but that was just a pile of rubble now. Was it really only yesterday that the earthquake struck?

At least Dad has gotten power turned on, Bulma thought. "Anyone want some hot cocoa? I think I've got some in the kitchen."

Raditz's head jerked up. "Is that like food?" His stomach growled.

Goku looked over at him. "Hey, that's right, you ran out without eating dinner! Have you had anything to eat at all?"

"One senzu bean."

Across the room, Khara apologized somewhat ashamedly to his sister. "..Father actually approves of what you are doing, dear sister, and was quite put out that I.. interfered."

Goten and Trunks flopped down on the couch with the intention of waiting for hot cocoa and listening to the grownups--and promptly fell asleep.

"So what happened, Dad? Did you fight the demon? What happened to that Saiyan ghost, Kale? How did Mr. Sean survive? Did you meet any of our old enemies? Where did you find Goten and Trunks? Was it very bad?" Gohan was bursting with questions.

"Well, Gohan, I--" Goku froze, eyes slowly widening in shock. "It's back!"

"What?" Gohan's head snapped up, his eyes also widening. "What is that? It's.. horrible!"

"Ashubhaam..." Sinhika muttered, her pretty Indian face turning pale. Prince Khara simply looked worried.

"Oh, crud." Raditz's eyes widened. "It's not possible!"

Nezumi looked at him, concerned. "Raditz?"

"Huh?" Sean looked confused, and then shivered involuntarily, feeling suddenly cold and empty in the brightly lit, crowded room. He groped in his pockets for a cigarette.

"Guys, what is it? Why is everyone looking so scared all of a sudden?" Bulma looked scared herself.

Goten and Trunks snapped awake simultaneously. "Daddy? Nunk Rats??" Goten jumped off the couch and ran over to his uncle, grabbing his leg tightly. Trunks ran over to his mother and hugged her around the waist, as if afraid she would disappear.

"SON GOKU! GOHAN! GET OUT HERE, IT'S COMING FAST!" Piccolo shouted from outside.

*      *      *      *

In the forgotten hells of myth, another Saiyajin watched another horror rise out of the darkness...

Prince Vegeta arced high above the river, studying the Night Serpent. Apep's head swayed this way and that as the gigantic snake tried to watch Vegeta with his one good eye. Mogris flew up after Vegeta, a swirling wind blowing in her wake.

"What are you doing here, woman? This is my fight--as if you could fight, anyway!"

"I can fight, Wolfslayer! I admit that this monster is beyond my power to slay--perhaps I might provide some useful distraction." Mogris hefted her spear confidently.

Vegeta opened his mouth to rebuke the pushy, low-class woman--and thought better of it as a plan for dealing with Apep came to mind. His eyes narrowed as he calculated.. Yes, that just might work. He smirked.

"Yes, you can provide some useful distraction--if you've the wit to pay attention and do it right the first time!" Vegeta snapped haughtily. "Its scales absorb energy attacks; there are only a few vulnerable points." Vegeta indicated a target. "Think you can hit it?" he sneered.

"No, Vegeta--I've always been doubtful about my ability to hit the broad side of a barn at two fathoms range," Mogris replied, dry as ever. "Get out of my way, Vivamort's Bane, and let me show you how Lightning Spear is meant to be used!"

Mogris flew up and over, circling the dread serpent's head. Its gaze flicked between her and Vegeta, but then Vegeta flamed golden--and all of Apep's attention was on the Super-Saiyajin. Mogris grinned to herself, and dove, arm drawn back to throw the spear, sparks crawling over its sharp-edged head, shield in front to protect her.

"LIGHTNING SPEAR!" A thunderbolt flashed from her hand and blasted Apep's glinting black eye. Lightning ricocheted back and forth between her hand and the target until Apep convulsed, his head snapping back as the blinded serpent hissed with rage and pain. Mogris flew up and back, the Lightning Spear once again a spear in her hand.

"APEP--TURN AND FACE THE PRINCE OF ALL SAIYAJIN!" Vegeta roared as the blind serpent snapped randomly at the air. The gigantic snake heard, and turned toward the sound of hated sun spirit. Blinded, the serpent could not see Vegeta rush to meet him, diving headlong into Apep's gaping maw--nor could he see the small disk of energy spinning at Vegeta's fingertips. Down Vegeta plunged into the jaws of the serpent, blazing down its very throat.


Apep's neck exploded as a flat disk of energy flashed outward, decapitating the dread serpent from within. The jaws crashed shut as the great head fell away, Vegeta exploding out of the gaping wound in a golden fury. The headless body convulsed madly, spasming to and fro, churning the river into foam, red foam as blood poured from the severed neck.

At last the great body fell quiet, a last few spasmodic twitches still shaking scales loose--then stillness. Apep, Serpent of Darkness, was dead.

Soon the sun-path would be open.

*      *      *      *

Goku and Gohan rushed outside and darted into the air, joining Piccolo. It came from the west, a baleful red star shining in the night; its malefic power hammered their finely tuned senses like some mad discordant music amplified to an impossible volume.

Golden fire lit the night, and the earth trembled; all around the city, men and women shivered in their beds, terror making them children again as nightmare flew above, and the earth shook below. Goku and Gohan hovered shoulder to shoulder, blazing with golden Super-Saiyan power; Piccolo hovered just above, facing the unseen horror.

As it hurtled ever nearer, the red star became a trinary constellation, three red bale-stars clustered together. In the dark night without morning, nothing more could be seen...

The triple bale-star suddenly vanished, and there was a flap of monstrous wings as something huge and tailed flashed upward at the edge of the golden light. Gohan strained to watch it as it mounted high into the night.

"What is it?? Can you see it, Dad?"

"No, but I can feel it," Goku said calmly. "That is enough."

Piccolo looked upward, but remained silent. His far-seeing eyes revealed more truth than he cared to report.

A hideous scream rang out--the very earth cringed away from it.

"DIEEEEE, GOHAN! DIE, SON OF GOKU!" The monster stooped upon them, diving out of the black sky.

It was huge, half the size of an ouzaru; great black wings clung close to its back, folded to speed its dive. The rest of it.. tail and dog-like head, long claws and powerful legs--it was almost a larger version of Deputy. Almost.

Between and above the two crimson eyes blazed a great red gem, the third star of the demon's constellation. Tendrils writhed about the hideous jaws, extending from the thing's black lips. A stinger tipped the long supple tail, and Goku remembered how lethal that weapon had been once before. The arms were thicker and more powerful than Deputy's, hands tipped with the same venom-slimed claws. Finally, they could all sense this thing's terrible power; it stood forth unconcealed and horribly foul.

Gohan's eyes widened as the horror fell on him; he dodged aside as the great claws flashed by--only to swerve abruptly, as the tail stinger narrowly missed his face. The demon was fast!


Gohan winced; the Chaos god was very loud. "First you have to fulfill the bargain you made with the Opawang, don't you? And WE WON'T LET YOU!" Gohan screamed, his hands filling with energy. "MAA-SEN-KO!"

A beam of yellow-white energy flashed down from Gohan to the monstrous demon--

A blinding, coruscating sheet of red lightning wreathed the demon's head as Gohan's beam struck and became entangled in the lightnings. It fed the lightnings, made them whiter and more furious as they writhed across Cacodemon's bestial face. For long seconds the raging electrical storm played about the demon's head, finally, slowly dying out as each bolt grounded itself in the great ruby set in Cacodemon's forehead. At last there was silence, silence in which the great gem pulsed and glowed.

Cacodemon laughed, a harsh clanging sound like steel beams crashing together. The demon snapped his wings together, surging into the air. Crimson eyes locked onto Gohan, and hideous lips seemed to grin. "NOW YOU DIE!"

The building-sized monster rose slowly into the sky; Gohan's lips turned up in a hard smile. The monster's tail might be fast, but the monster itself moved slowly!

A streak of blazing gold zipped around and behind the monster; Gohan dove and struck, smashing into Cacodemon's neck with a flying kick--sinking into thick curled hair that cushioned the blow, hitting bottom in thick, rubbery hide--rebounding! He dove back, raining blows that would shatter buildings on the back of the demon-god's skull. Every blow was muted, cushioned and thrown back.

"AIYYYYEE!" yelped Gohan in surprise. "DAD! PICCOLO! Watch out! It's like he's made of rubber cushions--everything just bounces off!"

Cacodemon laughed again. "FOOLS! THIS FORM WAS MADE TO DEFEAT YOU!" The huge torso twisted, and Gohan dodged--but not quite far enough as one wing snapped back with blinding speed and slapped Gohan into the ground.

As Gohan started to climb out of the crater he'd made in one of the Capsule Corp warehouses, Cacodemon dropped, huge taloned feet slashing down. Gohan dodged one, two, and with a sudden spurt of speed, got out from under the demon before it crushed him--only to be greeted by the tail. The stinger missed, but the side of the tail slapped him and flung him headlong to plow a forty yard ditch in the tarmac. The demon's tail was very fast!

Size, thought Gohan dazedly. It's his size; everything's so big on him that I'm not dodging a blow, I'm dodging a wall--a wall almost as fast as me!

The tail curled back for another strike--

"KA-ME-HA-MEHA!!" Goku's attack flashed down to engulf the demon--

"HAAAAAAHH!" Piccolo's beam slashed down--

Both attacks changed, becoming brilliant crimson lightning engulfing the demon, lightning that raged and cracked until, one by one, each stroke was absorbed into the great red gem on Cacodemon's forehead. The gem blazed like a star, too bright to look at directly.

The Chaos demon.. grinned. It opened its jaws wide, and spewed a blast of white energy down--straight at Gohan!

The fearful energies struck--and detonated! The blast bulged up and swelled out, a great yellow-white fireball that engulfed the entire south end of the compound. A huge cloud of ash and dust rose into the air. The demon's eye-gem pulsed less brightly; it was bearable to see, now.

"GOHAN!" A single exclamation escaped Goku's lips; a father's involuntary worry, though he knew Gohan to be stronger than that.

Cacodemon's head snapped abruptly to the left; his dog-face twisted into a snarl. "FOOLS! THE WEAKLINGS CANNOT ESCAPE ME!" The demon's crimson eyes blazed brightly, and twin eye beams slashed into Bulma's house, piercing and detonating.

"NO!" Goku's eyes went wide with horror as he saw the explosion engulf the house--and felt his younger son's and his brother's ki wink out. "NOOOOO!"

Golden fire engulfed Goku; his hair spiked higher and muscles twisted and grew. "GOTENNNNNN!" Power gathered in his cupped hands.

"Hold, Son Goku!" Piccolo spoke sharply. "Do not feed him more power! Things are not what they seem; that blast could not have killed Raditz! Watch the demon!"

Cacodemon swung his huge dog-like head from side to side, as if searching for something. His eyes narrowed to slits of crimson fury, lips curling back and nostrils flaring in a frustrated snarl. Taloned fingers hooked and straightened convulsively.

Finally it came to a decision, even as Gohan rose from the settling dust cloud behind it. Crimson eye-beams lashed out, searching and destroying every building, every pile of rubble that might hide its prey.

*      *      *      *

Lina, Acting Chief of Security for Capsule Corp, looked out the window of the Security Building as she yelled into her walkie-talkie, "..get everyone out, NOW! There's a Gojira-class monster in the compound, he's not friendly, DON'T ARGUE, JUST MOVE!! Find out who's where LATER, or we'll find ourselves all together in hell!"

Lina glanced up again just to see the great demon glare balefully in her direction. "Oh, crud, he's--"

She didn't even feel the crimson eye-laser that incinerated her, much less see the building explode around her crumbling ashes. But the warning had been given.. just in time. Others would survive.

*      *      *      *

Raditz gritted his teeth as he blocked two more stray eye-beams. He'd already had to drop Trunks, letting the boy carry Goten and fly himself; Bulma was enough of a burden, hampering him from moving freely and fighting.

"Why the hell is he still attacking us?" the big Saiyajin yelled at the two Rakshasas. "Didn't your illusions work?"

"Of course they did!" snapped Sinhika, orange hair blowing back in the wind. "He's still searching for us; he doesn't know exactly where we are."

"Great way to search," Sean said sarcastically. "Annihilate everything in sight, and sooner or later you'll hit something important--like us."

"I felt what you two did," Raditz snarled back at Sinhika. "It felt like all our powers disappeared at once. That thing should think we're dead! Why doesn't it?"

Prince Khara joined in. "We did hide our.. 'ki' as you call it, or the monster would not now be searching for us; instead, it would be unleashing its full power upon us." The prince's stern face regarded Raditz disapprovingly; he did not welcome criticism of his sister. "Something else draws that abomination to us."

"If you can't figure out what and stop it in the next five seconds, we have to find a faster way out of here! It's already suspicious; I think it saw those blocked beams. I cannot hold off an attack like it just tossed at Gohan!" Raditz snarled, fear for his charges feeding his anger... They'd escaped destruction by a heartbeat, but now the demon was hunting them.

*      *      *      *

"HAAAA!" Goku slammed sideways into the demon's ankle, catching it mid-stride. Though the great ankle was bare of the thick, curly, cushioning hair, its rubbery hide still flung Goku back--but it did nothing for the demon's balance. Caught off-balance, one foot knocked out from under it, the monster staggered, flailed and went down. The impact of its fall cracked the ground in all directions.

Cacodemon thrashed as he scrabbled to regain his feet; Piccolo dove down, striking for the unprotected eyes.

The great demon's head snapped to one side so fast only Goku could see the move, and the jaws clashed shut--on Piccolo. Piccolo screamed harshly as Cacodemon shook his head and flung Piccolo's body away--minus his left arm and shoulder. The Namek fall heavily to the ground, blood oozing from the gaping wound; the left half of his chest had been bitten away. The demon swallowed, and licked his tendriled lips.

"PICCOLO!" Gohan shouted, enraged; his hair stood on end as his aura crackled with its own lightning. Cacodemon's eyes widened as the boy's power skyrocketed.


"GOHAN! NO!" shouted Goku, but Gohan was too enraged to listen.


Piccolo groaned, shuddering as his body began to convulse in the throes of regeneration.


"GOHAN! LISTEN TO ME! YOU CAN'T STOP HIM THAT WAY!" Goku pleaded, coming between Gohan and the demon.

Gohan's eyes were blank with rage; he did not hear.

"-MEHA!" Goku darted back out of the way as Gohan's huge ki ball flashed downward, right into the great Chaos demon's mocking eyes.

It detonated right on the blazing red ruby embedded in the demon's skull-- detonated into a seething ball of red lightning swirling over the demon's face. Stray lightning strokes lashed out, walking across the ground and splitting the sky. One stray bolt touched down not far beyond Bulma's destroyed house.

Like flipping a switch back on, Raditz and Goten and the others returned to Goku's awareness. What had happened? He looked over to where they must be--yes, there they were, flying quickly away. But if he could sense them.. so could the demon. Goku put two fingers to his forehead, concentrating on Raditz's ki. He disappeared.

The lightning storm folded in on itself and vanished into the sun-bright gem. Cacodemon laughed that clanging-steel laugh. "WHAT HELPFUL FOOLS YOU ARE!" Then his head snapped around in the other direction and his eyes narrowed. "DIE, RADITZ, DIE WITH YOUR SAIYAN WHELPS!"

Cacodemon spat white fire at the small group--a great column of the starkly incredible energies an enraged Gohan had just given him. For a short moment, a sun touched down on the eastern edge of Satan City; the white blast lit the night, bringing false dawn to half the world. Rock cracked, melted and vaporized; a vast fireball spread and spread, engulfing half the earthquake-battered city. There were no survivors.

The great demon watched the billowing mushroom cloud with satisfaction; he could no longer sense his prey--their lives had vanished from his ken in the instant of his attack. Only one important life remained...

Cacodemon turned his great head, watching the boy who hovered above him, eyes wide with stark horror. The demon laughed again. "TIME FOR YOU TO DIE AND FULFILL THE CURSE!"

*      *      *      *

Chi-chi yawned and glanced at her clock--and opened her eyes fully. It was seven o'clock! It couldn't be morning already--could it? She had barely slept a wink in the nearly empty house, worrying herself sick about Gohan and Goten and Goku. But.. if it was morning already, why was it so dark?

Chi-chi tossed a robe on and stepped outside; it was utterly dark. Neither stars nor moon shone in the sky, and there was no hint of coming dawn; not a single light shined from neighboring houses.

She ran back inside, checking all the clocks in the house. Every one of them agreed; it was after seven A.M, long past sunrise. Chi-chi threw herself on her bed, hugging her pillow. Alone, the entire world in darkness--it was a nightmare; it had to be!

That was how Goku found her, when he materialized a few feet away--with Raditz, Bulma, Trunks, Goten, Sinhika, Sean, Khara, and Nezumi in tow.

"EEEEEEEEEEEE!!! GOKU, I'M IN MY NIGHTGOWN!" Chi-chi peeled herself off the upper back wall of the bedroom and dropped nimbly to the floor. "WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE DOING HERE?" She put her hands on her hips and glared death at Goku.

"Oh, good. This isn't Lord Enma's," commented Raditz, surprised.

Chi-chi's glare switched to Raditz; the look on her face suggested that she would happily send him there immediately if not sooner.

"Ah, calm down, Chi-chi!" Goku raised his hands in a concilliatory gesture. "It was an emergency, and you were the first person I could think of to jump to! If I hadn't, they all would have been killed!"


Prince Khara reddened. "She is quite correct; this is most improper." He, Sinhika and Sean retreated quickly from the room.

Bulma looked at Raditz and the kids. "Guys--out! You too, Goku. I'll explain things to Chi-chi." Raditz nodded, swept up Trunks and steered Nezumi out of the room along with him.

Goten looked up at his enraged mother. "Mommy? Please don't be mad at them; they rescued me from the Bad Place. I didn't mean to be naughty, but the bad dinosaur fooled me, he sounded just like Daddy!"

"Oh, Goten!" Chi-chi's anger vanished in an eyeblink; she knelt down and hugged her son. "It's all right, I know it wasn't your fault!" She looked up at her husband. "You found him! I knew you would." Chi-chi smiled.

Goku smiled back, relieved. "Bulma and Trunks, too. Everyone's okay, but..." He put two fingers to his forehead. "Gohan needs my help."

"GOKU! DON'T YOU DA--" Chi-chi broke off as Goku vanished. She turned to Bulma. "What on earth is going on?"

Bulma looked sheepish. "It's a long story.. but not as long as the other one. As soon as you've changed, I guess I can introduce you to everyone. You see, there's this huge demon who's trying to kill us, and.."

*      *      *      *


Perhaps it was a singularly inappropriate curse for a damned soul seeking escape from Hell, but Vegeta had no interest in the "appropriateness" of his exclamations. He was simply furious.

On the edge of Dawn, where the Stygian Nile left the Twelve Hours of Night and the Solar Barge sailed into the sky, his path was barred. Again.

No monster blocked him; no god forbade him to pass. He simply could not fly. Where the Solar Barge flew, Vegeta could not. The rules had changed again, and there was nothing to break and no one to kill to make the rules change back. The dead could not follow the Sun into the realm of the living, and the damned could not follow Ra into the heavens.

Mogris looked at the raging Saiyan prince, and smiled a small, queer smile. Vegeta noticed.

"WHAT ARE YOU SO AMUSED BY, WOMAN?" He turned on her, power seething with his rage.

"If I tell you, you'd probably kill me," she noted dryly. "But, I do know how to pass this barrier."

"WHAT?? If you don't tell me, I will kill you!" Vegeta blustered.

"Then I definitely wouldn't tell you." Mogris tossed her red hair back. "Your word, Prince Vegeta; I require your word that you will neither attack me nor abandon me--for I, too, must face Cacodemon." No dry sarcasm tainted her voice; all was serious.

"What?? You have nothing to do with my battle!" What is it with these women? Every single one I've met in the Hells wants to come with me!

"I have much to do with the Chaos demon, Vegeta! When I became Mogris, I exchanged one geas for another. Modgudh's geas to guard the Gioll Bridge was broken with the Gioll Bridge, and annulled forever when she became a living, breathing woman again--but Griselda's geas to fight Chaos wherever it may be found is my geas, now. I know of Cacodemon's rampage through the Nine Worlds; I am bound to fight him."

Vegeta folded his arms and frowned at her. "Oh, very well. You have my word as Prince of the Saiyajin. NOW TELL ME HOW TO GET OUT OF HERE!"

Mogris nodded, that queer smile on her face again. "Simple enough; I can still fly here. I'll carry you." A fresh breeze suddenly stirred Vegeta's wolf-fur cloak, and Mogris drifted into the air.

Vegeta glared at her coldly. "Someone.. is going to die... Soon." Vegeta reached up and grabbed the warrior-woman's arm.

Behind the Mountain called Bakhau, where the Sun ascends from the Underworld into the dawn sky, the change began. Vegeta felt himself become lighter, less real--and Mogris became like gossamer in his grip, something untouchable. He could no longer hold her, nor could she grasp him, for Mogris was living flesh and Vegeta was a dead soul, here on the sharp edge of life.

"No!" The Saiyan Prince knelt on the jagged mountaintop, bracing himself with his clenched fists. "It cannot end here!"

"We could go back the way you came, find a ship to take us across the sea to Niffleheim..." Mogris trailed off at the look on Vegeta's face.

"NO! That would be too late!" Some instinct told Vegeta that he could not turn back or turn aside, or all would be lost. So close.. beyond the Dawn lay life, and Bulma and Trunks and Kakarott... His soul called out to her, Bulma, the blue-haired goddess of his hidden heart.

I.. must.. go.. to.. her.

*      *      *      *

Bulma started; she'd been daydreaming, right in the middle of the crowded living room. Well, at least everyone had been introduced, sort of, and the kids were finally in bed, again--that was the first thing she and Chi-chi did. Now what?

Sean had found a few clean sheets of paper somewhere and was busily sketching. His black hair hung over his face as he worked intently on his drawing.

Bulma grew curious; was he recording something from their recent adventures? What was so urgent that he had to start right now, barely ten minutes after they'd arrived? She padded quietly over and looked past his shoulder--and gasped. It was another picture of Vegeta!

Sean looked up at the sharp intake of breath. At the sight of Bulma, he blushed, and quickly tried to cover up the picture. "Uh--"

"No, wait. I want to see..."

Reluctantly, Sean pulled his hands back. It was still a rough pencil sketch, but very distinct for all that. Vegeta lay as she had last seen him, eyes closed and his face peaceful in death. His hands were clasped over his breast, hiding the dreadful wound inflicted by the demon, and branches of cherry blossoms were nestled all around his body. Tears filled Bulma's eyes; this was a picture of his burial; there, at the top of the picture were the boulders that marked his grave. All around the edges of the picture were strange glyphs, writing from some alien language unknown.

The tears ran freely down Bulma's face. "How did you-- Why did you draw this?"

Sean looked troubled. "I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt you. This picture came to me--it's been haunting my thoughts ever since I finished the other painting. I started working on it before.. things went to hell, but the first draft got lost with my apartment."

"You have another painting to do?" Sinhika came over from her conversation with Khara, one eyebrow raised. Then her gaze fell on the sketch.

"Achintya! Aadhyaatmikuum Kshatriyaa!" Sinhika snatched the drawing from Sean's hands, staring at the writing around the edges, her lips mouthing words no one could follow.

"What does that mean?" Bulma asked.

Sinhika handed the drawing back to a startled Sean. "Hold that where I can see it!" She turned toward her brother "Khara! Look at this!" Sinhika pointed at the writing on Sean's sketch.

Prince Khara walked over with short, quick steps. "Ah!" he exclaimed, and pulled a ivory tube from inside his embroidered jacket. He opened it, and delicately withdrew an ancient scroll, which he unrolled and held out for Sinhika.

"Huh?" said Sean, embarassed to be suddenly getting so much attention. He looked up at the scroll Sinhika was now displaying. "They're the same!" he exclaimed. "What is this?"

"Yes, it is so. See, along each edge, framing the picture.. the first four verses of the Mantras of Compassion." He looked at his sister. "Father said you would know who must say them, and for whom. This is a sign--it is time for them to be invoked." The unspoken question hung in the air between them.

Sinhika looked intently at Bulma. "Forgive me; I did not tell you the whole truth before. Aadhyaatmikuum Kshatriyaa means 'Ghost Prince'; it is the title we gave Vegeta when he came to Lankha weeks ago seeking our father, who is Vibishana the Good Demon, King of the Rakshasas."

Sinhika gingerly handed the ancient parchment to Bulma. "The Mantras of Compassion are prayers of healing.. and resurrection. My father once taught them to Hanuman, to restore Rama's army that was slain fighting against Ravanna to rescue Sita; now I must teach it to you."

Bulma's eyes widened, and the blue-haired woman sat down quickly as her legs suddenly turned to jelly. "But how can I...?"

"They must be recited over the slain, by one who is compassionate--one who loves them. You are the one who weeps for the Prince; no other can call on the gods to do this."

Bulma looked out the window at the night, up at the mountain behind Goku's house. She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I will do it."

*      *      *      *

"YIIII!" Gohan narrowly dodged Cacodemon's breath-blast. The titanic blast streaked past him to annihilate the hill behind him, sending a cloud of dust and ash high into the air.

After his own disasterous attack on the Chaos demon, Gohan learned not to throw ki blasts at the monster. "First the Ochimo ghosts, then the Opawang, and now him! Isn't there anything I can fight anymore?? I can't even hit him with my hands, I just bounce off!"

It followed him; after all the screaming about a curse, it hadn't been hard for Gohan to figure out that the demon was after him, personally. Fortunately, that meant the demon would follow him out of the city, away from the innocent people who lived there. Unfortunately, that meant the demon would follow him and keep trying to kill him, while Gohan could do nothing but keep ducking and dodging.

"I hope Dad gets back soon. Maybe he'll know how to stop this thing." Gohan tried to reassure himself as he dodged a slashing claw and deflected another eye-beam attack.

Something green whipped between Cacodemon's dinosaurian legs; the demon bellowed and fell, toppled again. Piccolo darted out from under the falling demon.

"All power and speed, but no training. Even a first year student wouldn't let himself be tripped like that." Piccolo commented as he joined Gohan--then Goku flickered into existance beside them.

"Hi, guys! I see you got him out of town; good thing. Too many people were getting hurt." Goku smiled at Gohan, relieved to see his son unhurt.

"Dad, how do we stop him? You do have a plan, right?" Gohan looked worried.

"Um, I'm working on one." Goku tried to sound confident, but Gohan saw through his apparent confidence.

"You don't know how to stop him!" Gohan worried as Cacodemon regained his feet.

"We've got to buy time, Gohan--it fell apart last time, it might do it this time if we push it hard enough. He's actually weaker than Perfect Cell was--most of his power was stolen from us. He's just hard to hurt--but we'll figure out a way to stop him. Besides, he's lost his follower demons; that weakened him even more," Goku said reassuringly--but he was wrong, terribly wrong. Cacodemon had been weakened--months before, when he first separated Deputy from himself. Since then, he'd picked and chosen the gifts of Chaos, making himself infinitely stronger.

"DIE, FOOLS!" Cacodemon leaped into the air and breathed white fire at Gohan and Goku--Gohan dodged reflexively. Unexpectedly, the chaos demon's head twitched to one side and twin eye beams lashed out, narrowly missing Gohan on the other side--again, Gohan dodged. Another head twitch, and Gohan dodged away from the attack, back in the other direction. Barrage after barrage followed, in rapid succession, driving Gohan lower and further back along the same line.

Piccolo was the first to see what was happening. "GOHAN! NO--HE'S GOT YOU IN A PATTERN! GET OUT OF HIS REACH, NOW!" He hurtled toward Gohan, ready for action.

Goku acted more directly, diving for the monster's vulnerable-looking wings.

Three things happened at once--Cacodemon vomited a column of white fury at Gohan, who dodged--directly into the path of Cacodemon's deadly tail stinger. Piccolo knocked Gohan aside as the spear-sized stinger sought the young man's body; Cacodemon snapped his wings back and together, hard, catching Goku between them.

"AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!" Piccolo gave a great cry as the stinger plunged into his abdomen and out his back, impaling him.

"PICCOLO--AAAAAAHHHHHH!!" Gohan's cry of dismay turned into a scream of pain as Cacodemon's eye beams sought and found him, burning his shirt away and blasting him from the sky.

Goku didn't cry out as wingbones harder than steel I-beams crushed him between them; the massive blow knocked the breath out of him--all he could do was gasp once before the wings flicked open and flung him across the night-dark sky.

Cacodemon brought his tail tip up to eye level and regarded the impaled, writhing Namek with disdain for a few moments. "NOT SAIYAJIN." A flick of his tail, and Piccolo smashed into the earth, digging a deep Piccolo-sized crater.

The demonic Chaos god located the crater containing Gohan, who was just staggering to his feet, and spat white fire once again, a great blast of Gohan's own captured energy. Once again, the very rocks cracked and vaporized as a huge fireball swelled out and retreated, leaving behind a mushrooming cloud of dust and ash.

Cacodemon grinned. The curse was fulfilled... No, it was not. The brat still lived! Cacodemon howled his rage at the night-dark sky and flapped his wings, coursing toward his prey.

Battered, burnt, dazed, Gohan staggered to his feet in the midst of a vast, deep crater. Cacodemon was coming straight for him, and the young Saiyajin had barely enough strength to stand. He looked up into mocking crimson eyes, and saw doom.

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[ Contents | XXX. Reunion | XXXI. Cacodemon Rising | XXXII. Convergence Point ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic