[ Contents | XXXII. Convergence Point | XXXIII. Counterchaos | XXXIV. Hearts Entwined ]
"Silly woman--I told you I'd be back!"
Bulma stared, open-mouthed with astonishment, trembling with joy. Vegeta--her Vegeta!--was here, right in front of her! He looked.. good; very, very good. He smirked in his usual way, looking at Bulma, but there was something different in his eyes as his glance jumped from Bulma to Trunks and back to Bulma again. His dark eyes glittered in anticipation, and his compact, muscular body radiated a poise, a confidence that Bulma had not seen in him since before the fight with Cell. Seeing him like this, she suddenly realized how much spirit he'd lost when Goku died... a light in him had been dimmed, nearly put out; now it was rekindled, more brilliant than ever.
He still wore the Saiyan-style armor Bulma had made for him back then, the armor he'd thrown on as he hastened to rescue them from Cacodemon's first attack--and it still showed evidence of the terrible end of that battle: a fist-sized hole punched through it, front and back. But covering that, something new--a splendid cloak of shimmering white fur, so brilliant white it dazzled Bulma as the morning sun glittered off of it. Bulma's gaze darted to another new thing--the furry white tail wrapped around Vegeta's waist.
"Vegeta! You-- your-- your tail!" Bulma stammered, unable to say anything coherent in the rush of emotions sweeping her. She felt light-headed, as if she might jump a mile into the air and start flying at any moment.
Trunks just stared at his father, silent and wide-eyed. "Papa?"
Bulma started at that; Trunks had always been so formal whenever he talked about his father in the last few months. A smile crept across Vegeta's face for a brief moment that hung in the air...
And vanished in a scowl. "Stupid woman, what were you thinking to come up here with my son? Always rushing into things without thinking; you did not need to be here! It certainly does not matter to me--I have more important things to worry about!" A light breeze blew over the shattered mountain, ruffling Vegeta's crest of upswept black hair as he folded his arms, still scowling.
Bulma smiled knowingly; she understood Vegeta-ese better than anyone--although sometimes she suspected that Goku understood the prickly prince just as well as she did. The familiar abrasiveness steadied her, helped her pull coherence out of the maelstrom of emotion.
"Of course not! What are these important things you have to worry about, my prince?" she asked mockingly. "And what are you doing with a tail?"
Trunks, looking on, blushed and smiled, hiding his smile beneath his hand. He understood Vegeta-ese fairly well, too--though the subtler points escaped him.
Vegeta looked off into the distance, in the direction Raditz had flown, and then back at Bulma. "I have a demon to kill, since Kakarott botched the job, like he botched killing Frieza." He uncurled his white furry tail, revealing the black tip, switched it from side to side, and curled it around his waist again. He smirked. "So I kept this, too. Interesting."
"Too?" Bulma asked with a tilt of her eyebrows.
As if in answer, Vegeta lifted the exquisite white fur from his shoulders and wrapped it around Bulma, then picked her up. He reached for Trunks, to carry him, but Trunks shook his head and rose into the air beside his father.
"I can fly now, Papa! Goku-san and Raditz-san taught me how!" Trunks stated proudly.
Vegeta stared at his son in surprise; at Goku's name, Bulma felt his muscles quiver slightly, then relax. "Raditz, too? Not only is he alive, he's been doing something useful!" Vegeta laughed.
"He saved my life, Vegeta! Several times." Bulma snapped, not amused with Vegeta's contempt toward the long-haired Saiyajin. "And Trunks, too."
"Did he?" Vegeta was suddenly thoughtful. "I chose better than I knew." They were high in the air now, and Vegeta suddenly stooped on the Son house, far below.
"You will wait here," he said as they dropped lightly onto the lawn. Vegeta glanced at his son. "You can fly; can you fight?"
"Yes, papa. Goku-san and Raditz-san--"
"--taught you how. Yes, I know!" Vegeta snapped, brows lowering.
Trunks glared back at his father. "Goku-san and Raditz-san kept up my training; you taught me first." The inaudible "So there!" was plain in his eyes.
Vegeta smirked. "Good. Protect your mother until I get back." With that, he surged into the air, rocketing toward the cesspit presence of Cacodemon, hair flashing golden as he flew.
"Hey! Wait! You can't just--" Bulma protested--but he was already gone.
* * * *
Gohan's entire body was on fire with pain; it felt like his skin had been burned off and every bone broken and the broken ends twisted and pulled. He retreated back into unconsciousness.
Someone shook him awake, stirring all the broken things. Gohan would have screamed, but he was too weak. Someone's finger was in his mouth, pushing something between his teeth.
"Come on, Gohan, just bite down! It's a senzu bean," said Goku from far away. But Dad is dead--Cell killed him! Am I dying? No, wait-- Dad is back, because--
Gohan bit down on the senzu bean as memories of the last few months suddenly returned. He finally remembered the fight with Cacodemon, and the blast of white fire--and nothing more. Gohan opened his eyes; Dad was holding him, looking worried--worry that changed into a smile as Gohan sat up.
"That's better. You had me worried; Cacodemon hit you very hard." Goku didn't look very good himself; his shirt had been burned away, and the rest of his gi was torn and tattered; dried blood ran down his face and across his chest. For all that, turquoise eyes and golden hair still burned with the fury of battle.
Gohan looked down at himself; his Piccolo-style tunic was almost as tattered as his father's gi, and the white cape had been burned completely away. He flexed his hands and looked up at his father; his own hair flashed golden.
"What do we do now?" What could they do, against that monster?
"We go back and keep fighting him," Goku said grimly. "He's still trying to find your little brother and Bulma and Trunks."
"Dad.. What happened to Raditz? Is he.. Did Cacodemon..?"
Goku frowned. "I don't know. His power dropped so low I could barely sense it.." Goku started, and looked north from the mountaintop they were resting on. His jaw dropped. "Vegeta!"
"What??" Gohan jumped up and looked north--nothing.
Goku frowned and shook his head. "I thought I felt Vegeta for just a moment--but he's not there. Just wishful thinking, I guess, or..."
"Or what, Dad?"
"Or we better slow that demon down--someone's about to get hurt!"
* * * *
Raditz also woke to pain, the pain of seared flesh and cracked ribs. The pain comforted him; it meant he was still alive. But where was he? From the feel of things, he was back to his normal form, no longer ouzaru. What had happened?
He opened his eyes a crack. The green-needled branches of pine trees waved over his head in the early morning light. Up on a mountain, then; he could feel the rocks under his back. The big warrior carefully turned his head--and groaned, as the slight movement tormented a broken collarbone and cracked vertebrae.
Not such a good idea. Don't move that arm. What else was broken? With the one good arm, he reached over and checked what he could reach for injury, then uncurled his tail and used it.
Tears of pain were leaking from his eyes by the time he was done. Multiple cracked and bruised ribs, broken collarbone, injured neck, concussion, possible cracked hip, wrenched knee, broken tibia, possible cracked femur, unknown internal injuries, bruised tail... In short, he was out of the fight.
Raditz was alone, but someone had left him here--placed something padded under his head, and laid a red velvet cloak over his injured body...
He listened and sensed; he was alone, but he could feel another familiar ki some distance away--his brother still lived! Thus comforted, Raditz let himself sink back into unconsciousness.
* * * *
Mogris's arms burned with weariness as she lifted her shield yet again. Better than what they'd be burning with if she didn't keep parrying Cacodemon, she thought grimly. I can't keep this up forever, and the bastard managed to disarm me. Time to think of something new.
Cacodemon evidently agreed; the great demon stopped to stare at the infuriating woman. His great tail switched from one side to the other, in time with the pulsing gem on his forehead. Mogris looked back at the Chaos demon--and was caught.
The great crimson eyes caught and ensnared her; it was hopeless. She could not win; her weapon, the priceless Lightning Spear was gone, devoured by Chaos. Even the mightiest warriors of this world had fallen before Cacodemon; what could one lone unarmed Orlanthi hope to accomplish? She could only hope for a quick death before the demon's power.. better that than to survive his victory.
Cacodemon grinned. "DIE, BITCH OF ORLANTH!" Crimson eye beams slashed down--
Only to be deflected yet again by the Shield of Arran. Her arms felt like lead, and Mogris's heart was a hollow shell, but fifteen hundred years of experience drove her reflexes--beaten down by despair, weakened, exhausted, she was still a Hero of Orlanth--and the fifteen-hundred-year-old warrior guardian of the Gioll Bridge. A snarl of defiance crossed her face.
"Foul slime, curse of existance, begone!" began the ancient challenge of Orlanth.
Cacodemon howled; he hated the old Storm gods more than anything else in the Time Before! He spat white fire at her once again; again the titanic blast was parried, and a remote island exploded with cataclysmic violence.
"Turn your back and Flee from Me,"
Cacodemon leaped forward and snapped at her, gnashing his teeth; she dodged him, flitting aside and up with ease. The Shield flipped up to parry his tail stinger, and tilted forward to deflect the barrage of eyebeams.
"I will kill you, you are evil,"
The great Chaos demon squinted up at her as she rose above him. "BLOCK THIS, THEN--AND LET EARTH BE DESTROYED TO SHIELD YOU!" Cacodemon spat an immense gout of white fire--a blast of power as great as the one he'd vomited at Gohan, a column of starkly incomprehensible power that would shatter the planet it touched.
It seethed upward toward Mogris, a power that would consume her like a dead leaf in a volcano's heart; if she blocked it with the Shield of Arran, the Earth would take the blow--and be destroyed. She dodged; it arched over to follow her. Mogris flew up with all her speed; the beam followed, gaining rapidly. She looked down, grimly calculating; just as the beam reached her, she vanished.
"TO HELL WITH YOU, WINDWHORE!" Cacodemon laughed triumphantly as his titanic beam plunged deep into space and exploded. He spread his wings and flew rapidly toward the river valley where the Son house nestled.
Then Goku appeared and punched Cacodemon in the nose.
* * * *
Mogris looked down at the unconscious figure of Raditz. "Still breathing, I see--as am I. Next time, Mogris, don't cut it quite so close!" She admonished herself. "The damn demon's reflexes are faster than mine--next time, he might hit me before I teleport away!"
She knelt beside the wounded Saiyajin and gently examined his wounds. "Vegeta said you were one of his people; he wanted you alive. Huh. I never would have guessed a guy like you to be a moon-cursed giant were-ape!" She gently prodded the broken collarbone; Raditz groaned but did not regain consciousness.
"White Lady, grant me your power to heal!" So saying, Mogris laid her right hand lightly on Raditz's chest; a white glow spread from her hand to envelope Raditz's body, and then slowly faded, sinking into Raditz's body. Raditz's breathing immediately changed, becoming less pained; his eyelids flickered-- and Mogris disappeared.
Raditz opened his eyes; was there someone there? He looked around, cautiously, remembering his injuries--no one. He was alone. Then he realized that he felt no pain, save for the rough stones digging into the backs of his thighs. He cautiously reached over and checked himself, poking and prodding more vigorously as nothing hurt.
"What the hell?? I've been.. healed somehow." Raditz sat up, and looked himself over. Under the red cloak, he was wearing his white body armor--and nothing else. The dark bodysuit had not survived his transformation. "I guess Bulma still needs to work on that version of the material," he muttered to himself. "Damn, this is going to chafe."
The impromptu pillow under his head turned out to be someone's padded red velvet vest; Raditz took his armor off and put the vest on. He picked up the red velvet cloak and admired it briefly before tearing it in half and setting to work.
There. Raditz pulled the white armor shell back on. At least I won't violate Bulma's "public decency laws"--and it won't chafe, either. He tossed the shortened red cloak over his shoulder. I must look like something out of one of Gohan's history books, he thought as he looked down at the impromptu red velvet kilt and padded vest covered by the white armor.
"Now what?" he asked as the sky lit up like fire, and the earth shook under not-so-distant explosions.
* * * *
Cacodemon bellowed angrily and spat another tremendous beam of power, this time at Goku. Let the Saiyajin block it if he could; if not, the planet would be destroyed. Cacodemon liked the possibilities in this trick--and Goku had given him so much energy to play with.
The great crimson eyes widened as Goku responded with his own beam, the Kamehameha wave, balancing and blocking the terrible blast. The two beams splashed off of each other until Cacodemon, greedy for power, let his own beam collapse and Goku's Kamehameha slam down upon him--only to have it vanish as Goku turned it aside and sent the energy off into space.
Goku smirked at the great Chaos demon. "I told you you can't beat me that easily."
"Lie and whimper before me!" Mogris's voice answered from behind the Chaos demon. Orlanth's challenge had been made.
Cacodemon screamed with rage. An Orlanthi--of course she could teleport! Cursed Motion Rune.. "FOOLISH CREATURE! NOW I MUST END YOUR DELUSION OF YOUR DEAD GOD AND YOUR EXISTANCE!"
"You're a damned Chaos GOD, Cacodemon--and you haven't managed to kill one lone warrior woman YET!" Mogris taunted. "Crap, I've been kicked around by BROO who fought better than YOU!"
Cacodemon grinned, and half-spread his wings. "WHEN I CAME FORWARD IN TIME, I BROUGHT WITH ME THE POWERS OF THED, GODDESS OF THE BROO AS WELL AS MY OWN! DOOMCRACK!"
Something invisible lashed out and smashed into the Shield of Arran; Mogris tried to parry it--and realized too late that the attack was directed at the shield, not herself. With a horrid KRACK!, the Shield of Arran split in two pieces, and fell from her arm; the former guardian of the Gioll Bridge stood defenseless.
"Oh, crap." She vanished; the deadly eyebeams ripped through the air she'd occupied an instant before.
Cacodemon spun around, looking for her; he knew the Orlanthi could only teleport to a place she could see. His great head turned this way and that; where was she? Did she know Invisibility? It was too bright for the Sandals of Darkness to hide her..
Something slashed at the corded tendons of his neck, and Goku punched him in the nose again. No matter; his bruised nose healed in seconds, and whatever was attacking his neck was not strong enough to cut through his hide faster than it healed.
The great demon coughed a fireball at Goku, and swung his head rapidly from one side to the other, trying to see whatever was hacking at his neck. Whatever it was, it was clinging to the back of his head; he couldn't reach it!
Goku skidded to a halt two miles away; he finally managed to deflect Cacodemon's fireball into the air where it exploded. He stared at the trench his heels and the fireball had dug through meadow and woods for those two miles, panting with exertion.
About that time, Cacodemon flung himself on his back; if he couldn't reach the insect on his neck, he'd crush it to a pulp! The Chaos demon arched his back and slammed his head into the mountain, shaking the earth for miles around. He rose, shaking his huge dog-like head, snarling.
"Dad, what is he doing?" Gohan asked as Cacodemon finished rolling around on the rocks like a giant dog.
"Trying to knock loose a pest," Goku said. "That strange woman who challenged him was on his back." He squinted, looking high above. "I don't see her, but she got away--I think she can teleport. I wonder where she learned that technique?"
Goku's eyes suddenly widened; he looked north abruptly. "It is Vegeta!"
Gohan jumped up and looked north. "Huh? I still can't feel him!" Almost as he said the words, he could see the golden blaze of another Super-Saiyajin's aura. It was Vegeta.
Vegeta swerved from his course toward them, alighting in front of them, a look of barely-contained fury on his face. "KAKAROTT! How did that monster get so powerful??"
"Vegeta!" Goku stared at the short, powerful figure of the Saiyan prince. A fierce grin crossed his face. "Welcome back! Hey, you've got your tail!" Vegeta frowned, and curled his tail up tighter.
The grin disappeared as Goku looked slightly sheepish. "I'm sorry, it's my fault he's so powerful. He absorbs power used against him, and he managed to steal almost all my power and a lot of Gohan's." Goku's face brightened. "But you've come back--that means you know how to kill him, right?"
Vegeta's lips turned up in a cruel smirk. "So the great Kakarott has been waiting for me to rescue him?" The smirk turned into an evil grin; Vegeta's eyes danced with barely suppressed laughter. "You screwed up, Kakarott, and you need me to save the day!"
Goku blinked, then grinned. "Yep."
Vegeta threw back his head and laughed, loud and long before answering Goku's question. "It won't be that easy, Kakarott. He's too powerful." The words fell like a death-knell on Gohan's ears--but then Vegeta smirked. "You'll just have to get him to expend all that energy he stole, first. That should be easy for you, Kakarott--just let him beat on you and don't fire back!" Vegeta laughed wickedly.
"The stupid demon has no concept of saving his power! That might change when he weakens, but until then, just keep him busy--and don't let him destroy the planet!" Vegeta rose into the air, ki gathering in one hand.
"Vegeta!" The Saiyan prince looked down at Goku's abrupt call. Goku held out two senzu beans; Vegeta swooped down to take them. "Gohan has one left, and I have two more--that's it. Oh, and watch out for Piccolo--he's.. changed."
Vegeta tucked them into the wolf-fur pouch at his waist. "Watch carefully, Kakarott! I'm about to show you something you can never do!" He hurled the ball of ki high into the sky, where it exploded into familiar glowing ball of lunar light--and Vegeta transformed.
The damaged armor he had worn in the Cell Games finally shattered; unlike his original Saiyan armor, or Raditz's new armor, Bulma's first attempt at re-creating Saiyan armor could not expand the several-hundredfold times necessary for an ouzaru. Soon a great Saiyan ape with an upswept crest crouched on the mountain and roared its challenge to the great Chaos demon--a challenge that was taken up and echoed by another great ape that rose from the nearby mountains, a maned ouzaru wearing white armor.
Cacodemon's crimson eyes narrowed; what was this? The weaker, maned ouzaru was one of the cursed Saiyajin--Raditz--he could feel the pathetically weak Saiyajin's life force; but who was the other, monstrously strong ape? He could not sense its life force! Not one of the cursed, or he would know it. The other cursed Saiyajin, the boy was.. there! Near him, the hero Son Goku. Somewhere over these mountains he would find the rest of the cursed, the weaklings that he would delight in obliterating once these heroes were dead.
Destroy the weak. Cacodemon turned his head towards the nearest ouzaru--the much weaker, maned one, and spat white fire.
The great maned ape dodged the deadly blast with surprising speed--but not the crimson eye beams that darted after. The maned ape roared with fury as the beams lashed and stung it, and leaped high into the air, plunging toward the huge Chaos demon.
The demon grinned, and spat another blast of white fire at the hurtling ape--it would not dodge so well in mid-air.
Something darted between the blast and the ouzaru, something that caught the blast and turned it aside to explode harmlessly in deep space.
"Not so fast, demon!" snarled a tall dark figure, breathing heavily. Antlers sprouted from its head, dark, leather skin covered it from head to foot, and sharp bony spurs protruded from its major joints.
"Piccolo? PICCOLO!" Gohan shouted as he hurtled into the fray. "You're yourself again!"
"Not quite, but I can tell my friends from my enemies again--and ugly down there isn't one of my friends!" Chaos-Piccolo smirked. "I am not fond of Raditz, but the enemy of my enemy.."
"DIEEE!" The great Chaos demon roared, and spat balls of seething flame high into the sky, dozens upon dozens of them, until the sky was full of them. Piccolo rocketed into the sky with all his speed, gaining the very edge of space; and two ouzaru slammed into Cacodemon.
BOOM! BO-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOOM! All of them exploded at once, filling the sky with a sea of white fire; the concussion flattened trees for miles around, and burned the tops of the mountains bare.
"YEARRGGHHHH!" Caught in the vast area blast, King Vibishana burned. The once-invisible chariot and the demon tigers disintegrated, carbonized and blown away by the blast front. Immortal Vibishana fell burning from the sky.
* * * *
The ground exploded under Cacodemon's feet, and the great demon fell into a newly blasted pit; the powerful crested ouzaru grabbed the deadly tail stinger and ripped it out. The other, thoroughly enraged maned ouzaru rained massive blows down on the great demon's head and jaws--but somehow avoided the vampiric gem.
Cacodemon's head snapped to one side with the same incredible speed that had fooled Piccolo--and bit down on the maned ape's hand. The great ape bellowed in rage and pain as the Chaos demon shook his head from side to side like a huge dog. Torn flesh and cracked bone finally yielded and the maned ape howled as he staggered back, clutching his severed right wrist. Red blood gushed out, washing away the demon's vile spit. The maned ape finally spat fire at his severed wrist, burning away the chaotic slime and cauterizing the ragged wound.
As he did so, the crested giant ape bit and tore at the demon's wings, ripping them out of the monster's back in a fountain of black blood--only to watch the flesh boil, twist and reshape itself into a new set of wings. With a snarl of rage, the crested ouzaru flung himself to one side as the newly regenerated stinger stabbed towards his back.
Another blast from above collapsed the ground under Cacodemon again; Gohan grinned fiercely, his hands still extended as he hovered high above. "Come on, you big ugly monster! I'm the one you want!"
Cacodemon snapped his newly healed wings together and leaped into the air--only to whip his head around and spit a cataclysmic blast of white fire at the wounded, maned ouzaru. The great ape's crimson eyes widened; another world-destroying blast--too powerful to survive, too destructive to dodge and let hit the Earth. Ouzaru Raditz made his decision, and braced himself to catch and deflect the blast--if he could survive so long.
A streak of golden fire darted between the maned ape and the deadly blast--caught it, and flung it high into the atmosphere where it exploded with cataclysmic violence--the entire world turned white for long moments.
The shock wave caught Gohan and Piccolo and flung them to the ground; only the two ouzaru were strong enough to stand. Only the two ouzaru--and Goku. Goku stood between Cacodemon and the maned ouzaru, panting heavily, hands still extended from catching the blast. He smirked again.
The white-tailed, crested ouzaru snarled a long, drawn-out growling snarl, like an angry tiger; his eyes changed from glowing crimson to dull black. Blackness stained his right hand; he leaped high, grabbing the great demon by one leg and pulling him down with his immense weight. The lethal tail stinger came darting down--only to be grabbed by the black hand and torn away, again. Blackness entered the wound, and the great ape laughted triumphantly as his black eyes turned crimson once again, and his hand faded back to brown. "SEALED!" the crested ape thundered, and Cacodemon howled as he looked at his maimed tail--for it did not heal.
* * * *
"What the--??" wondered Piccolo as he picked himself up. "How did he stop the demon from regenerating?"
"Prince Vegeta used the power of the Death rune.. a dangerous thing for the living to wield, if they be not sworn initiates of Death, nor owners of the Death rune," came the voice of Mogris from behind.
Piccolo whirled; the auburn-haired woman regarded him suspiciously, an ornately engraved sword in one hand. "Who are you?"
"I am Mogris, Hero of Orlanth, and chanced to travel with Prince Vegeta from the Underworld, for his enemy is my enemy. Who are you? You stink of Chaos, yet the sun-haired youth calls you friend, and Cacodemon enemy--how can this be??"
"If by Chaos you mean this cursed transformation, it is nothing natural to me, but a curse from that demon!" Piccolo growled; already his head was throbbing as insane desires to kill and destroy for the fun of it fought his iron control. "It would be better for you leave this place!"
Her eyes narrowed. "Ah! He has afflicted you with the 'gifts' of Chaos. Would ye be free of them?" Mogris came to a decision, and raised her arms to the sky. "Scarf of Mist, hide us from our enemy!"
A fog sprang up and blanketed the seared meadow where Piccolo had come to rest. The chaos-twisted Namek nodded. "Make it soon, if you can."
"Aye. I can do this but once, so hold still and do not move!" Mogris sang in a long-forgotten language, and a blue light filled her hands. Piccolo shivered as she laid those hands on his chest and head; the insane thoughts and desires thrashing around in his head abruptly stopped, and something like fear replaced them. Then the blue light flared, and a cool flood of power poured through Piccolo, washing through him and over him like a torrent of water, cleansing the foulness that stained his body and mind.
* * * *
Cacodemon lashed out with acid-slimed claws, raking and slashing the great crested ouzaru again and again. Though its blood ran in rivers down its furred sides, the great ape only laughed mockingly at the Chaos demon--and struck back, sending the demon sprawling. Ravening with fury, the great demon rose and spat white fire at the crested ouzaru--who casually batted the terrible beam out of his way.
The Chaos demon's eyes narrowed to slits; his enemies were falling into a pattern. The demon grinned, started to take a step forward--and jumped back as Gohan blasted away the ground where he'd been about to step. Then Cacodemon breathed his own blast out, catching the surprised youth square on. Gohan barely had time to raise his arms in a block before the great beam struck and exploded.
"GOHAN!" Goku yelled as Gohan's power vanished momentarily in the tremendous wash of power as the world turned white again. The fireball burned away a small patch of fog, revealing Piccolo and the Orlanthi warrior maid Mogris--far too close for safety.
Cacodemon slewed his head up and around, crimson eyebeams lancing out to skewer and destroy the pulsing orb of lunar light. The great demon grinned as the two ouzaru howled with rage, and collapsed--reverting to their former shapes. Now he would finally destroy that cursed Saiyajin Raditz!
Before they even finished transforming back, Goku smashed into Cacodemon's legs, toppling the great demon again. "NO! I won't let you kill my friends!"
Cacodemon's tail lashed out, catching Goku hard in the ribs, sending the mighty Saiyajin flying. Goku quickly righted himself, only to see Cacodemon's jaws gaping wide.
"YIIII!" He dodged the tremendous blast just in time.
* * * *
Vegeta was the first to stand, still trembling from the exhausting transformation. Raditz knelt nearby, holding his maimed arm and groaning. His eyes opened wide as he looked at Vegeta.
"You've acquired a few new scars since I last saw you in the flesh," Raditz said sardonically, both eyebrows raised.
Vegeta glanced at himself, and smiled wryly. None of his armor or clothing had survived the ouzaru transformation, except for the wolfskin belt and pouch. He looked back at Raditz, whose white armor and little else had survived transformation. "It's a good thing your hair is so long, Raditz."
"What? Oh crud, not again!" Raditz looked down at himself. "And I'm the one who insisted on the armor shell going high enough in the back to clear my tail, too!"
Another brilliant flash and concussion shook the nearby mountains; Goku and Gohan still fought Cacodemon. Vegeta pulled a senzu bean from the fur pouch and ate it, sighing as the strength flooded back into him. He flexed his hands--then ki flashed white around him, and Prince Vegeta was clothed again. Blood red armor over black bodysuit, red gloves and boots, and a blood red cape hung down from his shoulders.
Raditz's jaw dropped. "How did you do that?"
"Manifesting simple objects?" Vegeta sniffed. "The Namek can do it. Did you think he could do something the Prince of the Saiyajin could not?"
"Well, I can't do it!"
"Why not? You've seen it done." Vegeta extracted the second senzu and studied it.
"When did I-- oh, yeah. I remember now--in the desert with Gohan. My prince, I was dead at the time! I wasn't exactly there to study new techniques!" ..I was condemned to experience the pain I'd caused Gohan.
"That's no excuse!" Vegeta said haughtily. "Kakarott would have picked it up in a instant; you were oblivious as usual." He rolled the senzu bean between his fingers, still considering something.
"My prince.. I'm not Kakarott."
"No, you're not. You're pitifully weak, compared to your brother--why you bothered to join this fight, when you couldn't possibly survive or win, is beyond my understanding. What kind of fool throws himself in the way of certain death for the sake of weaklings who are only good for a few moments sport in the killing?" Vegeta tossed the bean into the air and caught it.
Raditz stared blankly at Vegeta for a moment, then the gears of his mind finally engaged. "I don't know, since such a fool would hardly be able to give an intelligent opinion of himself." He smirked. "You tell me."
Vegeta's ki flared, and Raditz suddenly found himself fully clothed, black bodysuit under the white armor. "A loyal fool, who serves his prince well." Vegeta flipped the bean to Raditz, who nimbly caught it and ate it.
Prince Vegeta looked at his former companion of the long bitter years under Frieza. "Do not transform again, and do not engage the monster directly. Do as seems right otherwise."
Raditz gasped as his maimed arm healed, his hand rebuilding itself. "You mean I'm still too weak for this, damn it!" Bitterness shaded his voice.
"You are too valuable to waste," Vegeta replied, adjusting his gloves. "But weak enough that I can spare you from the main attack to deal with those matters neither I nor Kakarott nor the brat can be spared to do."
Raditz regarded Vegeta speculatively. "My prince.. you know a way to kill that thing, don't you?"
Vegeta smirked wickedly and did not answer at first.
"You do know something!" Raditz accused as he recognized that smile.
"And you are as oblivious as ever!" Vegeta looked up at the deadly dance between Cacodemon and Goku.
Raditz looked sharply at Vegeta. "My prince.. Why is the demon ignoring us?"
"Because I want him to--and King Vibishana still lives." Vegeta smirked again, and flipped his cape back. "It is time."
* * * *
Gohan shook, his breath coming in harsh gasps that pained his bruised ribs. Three times he'd blocked the demon's titanic beams, three times that he'd thought his desperate block would break, and that he'd be consumed by the tidal wave of power. Each time, he'd reached deeper into the Super-Saiyan, and still found no bottom. How much could he take? All of it? Was there an upper limit to his power?
The boy scowled fiercely; that was nonsense! Anyway, Cacodemon had no more power than what he'd stolen from Dad and himself--and Gohan had fought Dad many times in practice. He could stand up to Dad's power.
Cacodemon's tail switched from side to side as he stared at Goku, the blazing gem on his forehead pulsing in time with it. Goku did not seem to be affected--he dodged and blocked yet again as Cacodemon spat a cloud of small fireballs at him, followed up with a barrage of eyebeams--
--Suddenly the great demon swerved abruptly in mid-fight, and hurtled toward the ground. What was it? There were two people over there, one down on the ground--
"NOOO!" Gohan shouted--one of the demon's targets was Piccolo! With a sudden burst of speed, he put himself in front of the demon just as the demon vomited white fire. Nearly in the demon jaws he blocked, fending the deadly beam away--only to be flung backwards, slammed deep into the nearest mountain by the tremendous power of the beam.
He's weakening, Gohan thought woozily. Last time he hit me this hard, he knocked me out! Now I'm just embedded in a mountain...
"GOHAN!" Goku darted in and slammed his fist into the great demon's nose, again--only to be intercepted by a concentrated barrage of the crimson eye beams. All Goku could do was block the storm of needle beams that lashed him-- and miss the great clawed hand that smashed him into the ground. Cacodemon spat fire into the hole Goku's body smashed into the earth.
"DIE, WHORE OF ORLANTH!" The great Chaos demon turned his head and spat fire at Piccolo and Mogris.
"No--the spell isn't complete," Mogris protested. "So close--SHIELD!" She invoked her last defensive spell, knowing it would not be enough--but it might hold just long enough for her to complete Piccolo's healing.
White fire struck and clawed at the translucent barrier surrounding Mogris--a barrier that began to deform, bending inward under the furious attack. At first, it collapsed slowly, but then the fall accelerated...
"DONE!" Mogris cried, scrambling to her feet--and her shield collapsed. She stood, silhouetted in the white fury for an instant--then she, too, crumbled and vanished like a leaf in a blast furnace. Earth and sky turned white in the explosion.
"CACODEMON!" Suddenly, Vegeta was there, looking down at the monstrous Chaos demon, cold hate in his turquoise eyes, hair blazing golden.
The great demon looked up, crimson eyes narrowing as he recognized the suddenly unveiled ki of the small figure in black and red. "VEGETA! COME TO DIE AGAIN? THIS TIME YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED; I WILL FEAST ON YOU AND ALL WHO OPPOSE ME!"
The Saiyan prince's eyes flicked to one side as he noted Goku and Gohan recovering from their latest setbacks--even Piccolo was joining them. Good.
"I have a riddle for you, Cacodemon!" Vegeta grinned evilly. "Why do vampires have no god??"
"WHAT??" The great demon bellowed. "VIVAMORT WAS SLAIN IN THE GOD-TIME!" Cacodemon's bat-ears laid back flat against his dog-like head, and the demon wrinkled its nose. "WHAT HAVE DEAD GODS TO DO WITH DEAD SAIYAJIN?"
"I SLEW VIVAMORT, YOU FOOL, CACODEMON SPAWN OF WAKBOTH THE DEVIL!!" Vegeta howled as he cupped his hands together, and a cool green light began to flicker between them. "I destroyed him with the Death rune I stole from Zorak Zoran, the same power that robbed you of your tail, damned Child of DEAD Wakboth!"
Cacodemon's malevolent crimson orbs opened wide. "YOU WERE THE CRESTED APE!" The great demon fell back a step. "YOU CANNOT SLAY ME WITH THE DEATH RUNE--I HOLD IT, TOO, AND CANNOT BE SLAIN BY IT. DEATH HAS NO POWER TO HOLD ME, FOOL!" Cacodemon snarled, ears still flat back; he backed up another step as the power in Vegeta's hands grew.
Every vein on Vegeta's face stood out; the corded muscles in his neck stood forth as hard and sharp as steel cables. Sweat poured down his face, and he screamed as the power built to a seething crescendo.
"Enjoy the gift of Boztakang Chaosfighter, monster! COUNTERCHAOS!!"
A brilliant beam of spiral green energy shot out from between Vegeta's cupped hands to strike Cacodemon in the face, square on the blazing gem.
KR-KA-BOOOOOMM!! The gem exploded--and the universe turned white for a long moment. When the fireball faded, Goku, Gohan, Raditz and Piccolo gasped in shock. Cacodemon had changed.
The great demon was sprawled headlong, scrabbling weakly to rise. Black blood ran down his face from the gaping wound where the great gem had been. His eyes were dull red, no longer the blazing crimson orbs they had been. The Chaos demon's skin sloughed off in great ragged strips of fur and blubber as he staggered to his feet; the long slimy claws faded, cracked and fell away.
"Kakarott! Don't stand there like an idiot, kill that thing! It won't stay weakened forever!" Vegeta was breathing hard; most of his power had gone into the Counterchaos.
"Allow me, since I seem to have missed most of the party," said Kulilin's familiar voice. "KI-ENZAN!"
The raging disk of energy slashed down--and across the huge Chaos demon's neck, neatly parting head and body in a spray of black blood. The great body shuddered and collapsed, thrashing spasmodically.
"Hey, Kulilin!" Goku waved at his old friend.
"Kakarott! I'm out of senzu, give me one quick!" Vegeta snapped as he watched the thrashing carcass intently.
"Sure, but what's the hurry? Kulilin just killed it, and you took away its power of regeneration, right?" Goku asked as he reached from a senzu bean.
"You heard the damned thing--it was telling the truth. As long as it holds the Death rune, its spirit will keep re-gathering power and coming back! Now give me that damn bean!" Vegeta nimbly caught the magic bean and ate it. "Better. Now to finish this."
Vegeta's eyes turned dull black, a stain that crept into his hair, turning it from golden to glossy, glowing black as he plummeted down to the twitching carcass of Cacodemon. A corona of black fire sheathed his right hand, and he plunged it into the monstrous demon's skull, into its foul brain.
Vegeta screamed; the severed head of Cacodemon opened its jaws and howled with him, a terrible cacophony that nearly deafened Goku and Gohan--and did deafen Piccolo. Raditz put his hands over his ears, wincing.
Finally Vegeta wrenched his hand free, and staggered to his feet, the unnatural blackness fading from his eyes and hair. "It.. is finished. Destroy it." His hair faded from gold to its normal black, his eyes rolled back in his head, and Vegeta collapsed to lay as still as the dead monster beside him.
* * * *
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER XXXIV. HEARTS ENTWINED
[ Contents | XXXII. Convergence Point | XXXIII. Counterchaos | XXXIV. Hearts Entwined ]
Disclaimer: See Credits.
Copyright 2000 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 8, 2009