[ Contents | IX. Overconfidence? | X. The Opawang | XI. Desperation ]
Bulma yawned and awoke. Her head ached abominably; she groaned and started to open her eyes.
"Mom?" Trunk's voice sounded anxious. He sat beside her, looking worried. Bulma blinked, and looked around. They were in a strange room, furnished in antique oriental splendor: silk wall hangings, fine Persian rug, black-lacquered, brass-trimmed furniture, ornate brass--or was it gold?--lamps..
"Where are we?" she asked. She sat up, and groaned again as her head spun. Trunks looked a bit under the weather as well.
"I think we're prisoners in the castle." He nodded discretely, indicating the guard at the other end of the room. Bulma recognized the muscular woman in blue-lacquered armor; she'd appeared at their camp...
Bulma remembered now. She, Trunks and Goten had been waiting the outcome of Gohan and Raditz's raid when the woman in blue samurai armour appeared out of nowhere.
She simply said, "The Opawang desires your presence," and breathed out a strange mist that swiftly enveloped them. Bulma couldn't remember anything after that.
Bulma looked around. "Trunks, where's Goten?" She couldn't keep the fear out of her voice.
Trunks looked at the floor. "I don't know. He wasn't here when I woke up."
Bulma struggled to her feet and confronted the blue samurai woman. "What did you creeps do with Goten? Where's the baby?"
The woman looked at her impassively. "He is the Opawang's hostage, as are you, that the others with you might learn good manners and obedience."
Bulma thought briefly of Gohan--good kid, but tendency to berserk-- and Raditz-- pure Saiyan ferocity and temper. "Raditz, learn manners? We're dead. We're all dead." A look of cold determination settled across her face.
In one sudden move, she slapped the samurai woman across the face, as hard as she could, and screamed. "TRUNKS, HELP ME KILL THIS BITCH!"
Trunks leaped across the room and smashed into the armored woman's right knee, toppling her to the floor. Bulma kicked her in the face, which didn't appear to damage her anymore than her slap had.
"Don't let her breathe that mist! That's what put us to sleep before!" Bulma kicked her again in the mouth; the samurai woman rolled and crouched on one knee. She inhaled--
Trunks hit her hard in the solar plexis, slamming her into the silk wall hangings and the stone wall behind them. She gagged and choked. Trunks seized energy and hurled it, pinning the blue-armored woman to the wall in a blast of ki. The back-blast filled most of the room.
* * *
Raditz settled beside Gohan, still watching the Opawang. "When this is all over," he muttered to Gohan, "I am going to take great pleasure in telling that fool woman 'I told you so'."
The Opawang's voice rang out. "You still don't know what you are dealing with, my pretty innocents. You, the tall one," he pointed one long lacquered nail at Raditz, "do you really think you are any more dangerous as a mortal than you were as a ghost? Pathetic, deluded fool! You have some power, as does this child, but it matters not. You could have all the power in the world, it would not suffice."
"If you're such a bad boy," Raditz challenged, "why do you need a baby to shield yourself?"
"Raditz!" Gohan whispered. "Something's wrong! Can you sense ki?"
"I don't know, I've never tried--not in this world. If it's like sensing spirits in the otherworld--perhaps. I'll try it sometime." Raditz whispered back.
Gohan continued quickly. "I can't sense anybody up there besides the Opawang and Goten--but I can sense Bulma and Trunks off to the northwest--not here!"
The Opawang answered. "I would let you test your strength against me, that you might know the futility of it and despair, but you are indiscriminately destructive--and I find rebuilding my residence an annoying waste of power and time. I curb your destructiveness with the knowledge that you might destroy those you protect."
He continued, "Count yourself blessed, for rare indeed is it that I make the same offer twice! But your woman has set me free and restored my servants and my stronghold to power; let it not be said that the Opawang is ungrateful! Serve me, you, the child and the others, and you will reap rewards beyond your comprehension!"
Raditz whispered back to Gohan, "So the two Ochimo with Bulma and Trunks are just holograms of some kind? Yeah, then all we have to do is get Goten away from Hornhead there." He smirked, and continued, "The bastards have surprise defenses and odd powers, but once you get past those, they're weak--and their attacks are pathetic. We've got speed on them, too. I'll hit Hornhead, you grab Goten. Any surprises, I'll try to deal with them, your number one goal is to rescue the kid. Do what you have to, don't get diverted, and I can be a lot freer in dealing with surprises if I don't have to worry about Goten. Got it?"
Gohan nodded abruptly. "Yes!"
"Well?" called the Opawang. "It isn't that difficult a decision--" He broke off, looking northwest. "By the Dark Serpent! How can a mere child--"
Raditz slammed into the Opawang--and nearly broke his shoulder. A stone wall would have been softer. Gohan grabbed for Goten, only to see Goten and the Opawang disappear out from under his grasp.
The Opawang reappeared about fifty feet above them. "You want the child? Take him!" He hurled Goten down with tremendous force; Gohan swerved to catch him. "MIT-TEN EM TEKAU PEST!" He hurled a sphere of white power from his hand; it branched into nine seething balls of energy hurtling towards the three saiyajin.
Gohan snatched Goten in midair and hurled himself sideways. "Raditz, LOOK OUT!" He sheltered his kid brother with his body as he blew through the side of the keep and out of the path of the spheres.
Warned by Gohan's shout, Raditz threw his hands up in a full ki-block; the spheres slammed into it and slammed him into the floor. The floor broke beneath him as he held onto the block with all his will; he fell further into a subterranean chamber and smashed into the ground. The titanic forces he fought to hold off crushed him into the earth; no further retreat possible. His block broke, and the spheres exploded.
WHOOOOM-WHOOOM-WHOOOM-WH-WH-WHOOOM-WHOOOM-WH-WHOOOM! Nine tremendous detonations almost at once deafened Gohan. A great cloud of smoke and ash billowed up, hiding the former keep.
Gohan looked around, senses aware. The Opawang had vanished--ah, there! To the northwest, near Bulma and Trunks. Not good. What about Raditz? Had he survived? Gohan couldn't sense him at first. Finally, he sensed Raditz, far below, and very weak. Still alive!
Goten wriggled. "Hey! Don' like noise. Head hurt!" he whined.
Gohan sighed with relief. His little brother was okay. "Hold still, silly! I don't want to drop you! I don't like the noise either."
The smoke cloud finally cleared to reveal a gaping crater where the keep used to be. The pool was gone, too, vaporized by the heat of the blasts. At the very bottom of the crater, Raditz sprawled unmoving.
* * *
Trunks was standing, fists clenched, over the smoking body of the samurai woman when the Opawang appeared. Bulma sat on the floor, looking dazed and a bit singed around the edges. The Opawang backhanded Trunks with one long-nailed hand, sending him flying across the room. Trunks snapped an arm out, caught the wall, and rebounded, landing lightly on his feet facing the Opawang. Blood ran down his cheek from four parallel cuts.
"What manner of creature are you, that a mere boy can kill one of my Ochimo?" The Opawang marvelled.
Bulma glanced at the blue-armored body on the floor. "She was--the Blue Ochimo? The Ochimo of Air? And I actually slapped her?? Oh boy." She turned white, and then red with anger. "That bitch tried to kill me last night!"
Trunks glared at the Opawang, his face set, an angry light in his eyes. Something about his stance reminded Bulma of his father... and then he spoke.
"I am Trunks Vegeta Briefs, royal son of Prince Vegeta of Vegetasai, first and only son of King Vegeta of Vegetasai, ruler of the greatest race of warriors the universe has ever known. Who are you, dog?"
The Opawang regarded him silently for long moments. "Boast not overmuch of your lineage, princeling. Born I was a prince of the royal house of ancient Khem, raised up an Adept of Thoth--but by mine own eye and heart and hand I have surpassed my fathers and their father's fathers. I alone dared read the Three Sacred Books of Thoth, and master the secrets of immortality; I alone delved into secrets of elder Stygia and sought out the Iron-bound Book of Skelos, lost in this distant land, that made me master of demons and spirits; I alone summoned the Child of Chaos from the Time Before Time and pacted with it for the secrets of power without limit. What matters your warrior race? Time will make them dust, whilst I--Ah! I see in your mind--thy noble race is extinct already, destroyed in a world's cataclysm, and your royal father is dead as well. Only the tall one I slew outside, the youth, the babe and another--Kakarott? Goku?--still survive." The Opawang laughed, cruel and mocking.
"So it goes with all my enemies who have ever been or ever will be--even if I slay them not myself, still Time will bring them to the grave, whilst I remain, immortal and invulnerable." He glanced at Bulma, who was holding Trunks tightly and fearfully. "Do you pretty innocents finally understand? I cannot be harmed, and I will not die, there is no limit to my power, and you cannot escape me even in death. Thy souls are mine for the taking."
Then the wall shattered.
* * *
"Nunk Rats? Nunk Rats hurt? NUNK RATS, WAKE UP! PLEASE!"
Raditz groaned and forced his eyes open. He blinked, trying to focus on whatever was blocking his view of the sky. Everything hurt. He was still alive.
After a few minutes, Raditz finally managed to bring things into focus. He was lying flat on his back at the bottom of a deep crater, and Goten was leaning over him, looking scared and worried.
"Nunk Rats?" Goten asked hopefully. His eyes were red and suspiciously wet.
"Yeah, kid, I'm still here." Remind me not to die in front of the kid. With his ability to see spirits--particularly mine--it would confuse the hell out of him.
Raditz carefully hauled himself to a sitting position, and spat out a mouthful of blood. He looked himself over.
No broken bones, lots of minor cuts, major bruises, a bloody nose, and I feel like an ezwal has been using me for a trampoline--and my armor looks like it, too--but other than that, I'm in pretty good shape for someone who should be dead. I must have come back to life a lot stronger than I was before--the Opawang's attack was easily twice as powerful as that blast of Piccolo's that killed me--maybe more. Heh. Maybe eight years in Hell was good for something besides moral re-calibration.
Now, what's Goten doing here? And where's everyone else? Well, I said I'd try it...
Raditz pulled Goten onto his lap, and held him while he calmed himself and the child. Clearing his mind, listening but not with his ears, looking but not with his eyes, aware...
There! Two great powers, one bright, one dark as a demon's heart--this is like sensing spirits, it's the same thing!--one lesser but strong and bright--Trunks?--another lesser, dark, fairly distant, another close by, moving closer--!
Raditz snapped his head around. The Earth Ochimo was sliding down the crater wall towards them, blade in hand! Raditz swept Goten up to his shoulder and lept to his feet in one motion. "Hang on tight, kid. It's about to get wild!"
Goten grabbed tight hold of his uncle's hair; Raditz started to power up. The Ochimo of Earth hesitated as the ground began to shake, and dust and small stones rose into the air. Energy crackled around Raditz and Goten; the veins stood out on his forehead. Suddenly the chaos stopped as Raditz pulled in the gathered power.
The Ochimo mistook the sudden calm for weakness, and attacked with a mighty kiai-shout! The blade hissed through the air, but Raditz was not there. From behind, he cracked his fist into the Ochimo's lower back--a back as hard and strong as stone, but Raditz's blow would have shattered granite. It shattered the Ochimo's spine--and then, as if time had rolled backwards, Raditz felt the Ochimo's back unshatter itself underneath his hand, and then the Ochimo was flung forward by the force of his blow.
"What the HELL?" Raditz stared at his staggered opponent; the Earth Ochimo had been thrown to his knees and was rising to his feet. "I know I hit you and HURT you, I felt it! But the damage I did undid itself like it never was--how?"
"Foolish mortal! We are part of our master, he is part of us. To harm us is to harm our master, and he cannot be harmed!" The Earth Ochimo's voice was deep, like ancient rocks groaning.
"You're not as tough as you'd like me to think," Raditz snarled. "I've already killed one of you." Something clicked in his mind. His first few attacks on the Fire Ochimo had done no damage--and Gohan's attack on the Earth Ochimo hadn't done much more than toss him off the battlefield. Yet, he had killed the Fire Ochimo later.. Raditz smiled evilly.
* * *
Bulma gasped as Gohan drifted deliberately through the gaping hole in the wall. White-hot energies crackled and seethed around him. He settled to the floor beside Trunks.
"Trunks, get your mother out of here!" He turned to face the Opawang. "You can leave, now." His voice was deceptively quiet; to Bulma, it seemed like Goku himself stood there.
"Leave? Bold youth, why should I wish to leave when you have brought such a fine feast to my table? What a pretty innocent you are!" The Opawang smiled--and suddenly shuddered, as if in pain. He snarled. "MIT-ET EM SES HAUT!" he flung out his hand, and a ball of tangled, jagged black, white and red lightnings formed and roiled through the air towards Gohan.
Trunks tackled his mother and threw her flat as Gohan threw up a hand to deflect it. Almost too late, he realized that the thing was not a ki-construct, and dodged out of its path. It swung wide, and swerved to follow him, gouging a deep grove in the stone wall as it brushed against it.
Gohan retreated out the hole in the wall, to the open air; the black and red ball of destruction followed. He cupped power in his hand, and flung it at the destroying thing.
KAK-BLAAM! With an ugly cracking sound, the thing exploded. Gohan threw himself back into the room; the Opawang looked slightly disappointed. Gohan grabbed Trunks and Bulma, and flew back out of the room; where to now? He looked down as light flared below him, and a power died; as the dust cleared, he saw Raditz rising toward him, Goten clinging to his neck. Far below, smoking bits of samurai armor lay scattered about a secondary crater.
The Opawang stepped through the hole in the wall and hovered. "I do not permit you to leave!" He raised his hand, and pointed at Gohan. "MIT--"
"Raditz, catch!" Gohan dropped Bulma and Trunks and raised his own hands. "KA-"
"Eeeeeeee!" Bulma screamed as she fell.
"-ET--" the sorceror shouted.
"ME--" The wave began to build...
"EM--" the horns on the Opawang's head glowed.
"HA--" The wave was building...
"BES--" Fire began to glow at the horned sorceror's fingertips. Raditz caught Bulma and Trunks. Bulma looked very surprised.
"ME-HA!" The universe turned white and black as the actinic white power blazed from Gohan's hands. The blast enveloped the sorceror--
something black billowed around him--
--and the universe returned to normal as Gohan's Ka-meha-meha wave vanished, blinking out as if at the flip of a light switch.
The Opawang laughed, mocking; twin crystal horns glowed bright as stars.
* * *
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER XI. DESPERATION
[ Contents | IX. Overconfidence? | X. The Opawang | XI. Desperation ]
Disclaimer: See Credits.
Copyright 2000 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 8, 2009