[ Contents | VIII. At the Spring | IX. Overconfidence? | X. The Opawang ]
"No! I am NOT going to have you and the kids scattered all over this damn valley again! Not with those elemental samurai bastards and who knows what else running around... It was a enough of a nightmare the first time!" Raditz was adamant; he stood with his arms crossed and glared down at Bulma.
Bulma wasn't having any of it. "Excuse me? We are not taking Goten or Trunks anywhere near a fight that has you and Gohan in it--NO WAY! I've nearly gotten killed just standing within a mile of fights like that--I will NOT take the kids into that kind of mess. I never saw you fight Goku, but when Gohan gets fired up, it's like being near a small nuclear war! Besides, you've already admitted that Trunks can fight, if necessary." She glared back, hands on her hips.
Raditz scowled. "He's pretty good--for his age." He paused, trying to find the words that wouldn't wound the boy's pride. "But he doesn't yet have the EXPERIENCE! For all his power, he would have died last night if I hadn't been there to take on the Ochimo--because he had no way of knowing how to fight the bastard!" Raditz nodded toward the looming castle. "What other surprises are up there? What else might come hunting you while we are up there fighting who knows what? If you come with Gohan and I, I know where you are, I know where 'they' are, and we can keep any unpleasant surprises away from you and the kids. What part of that don't you understand? You keep looking at me like you don't know the language I'm speaking."
Bulma looked like she was ready to scream. "Is being thick-headed and stubborn standard for all Saiyans? You, Vegeta,.. even Goku drives me crazy sometimes!"
Raditz started to retort, but Gohan interrupted him. "Bulma, you and the kids could wait for us in that sheltered spot below the walls--you'd be close enough that we could get to you if there was trouble, but the mountain wall should protect you from stray blasts and things like that."
Raditz frowned. "I don't like it--they'd be too far away to keep an eye on."
Bulma scowled. "I don't like it--we'd be too close to trouble."
Gohan shrugged. "Well, I tried."
Bulma looked at Raditz thoughtfully. "I suppose," she said, "it's what we'll do."
An ironic smirk. "Classic compromise--we both hate it. Yeah, that's what we'll do."
* * *
"This doesn't make sense, Goku." Piccolo and Goku hovered above the mountains. "No matter what we try, we can't reach these coordinates. It's like a chunk of the map has been removed from existance."
Goku closed his eyes, listening, sensing. Finally he opened them. "No. Something is blocking us; I can feel it. Feel for it, Piccolo."
Piccolo closed his eyes and cleared his mind. "I feel it now. Like a barrier to the spirit--a barrier that says 'Go away, there's nothing here, go around'--"
Goku looked uncharacteristically worried. "I can't get past it," he added, "No matter what I try."
* * *
Raditz soared above the wall, followed closely by Gohan. The big Saiyan pointed out the broken southeastern roof of the main keep. "In through there, all the way down, is his throne. Do you actually know what we're looking for? I didn't see anything that looked like--"
A great note pealed out, near deafening them; the whole mountain rang like a gong. The sky turned dark above the keep; black clouds whirled and rapidly spread out from there to cover the whole valley. The wind howled and lashed them, where it was stillness but moments before.
Raditz alighted atop the outer wall, Gohan beside him. "What the hell is happening? I don't like the look of this!"
Gohan scanned the sky worriedly. "This.. looks too much like a dragon summoning--but there's no dragon."
"So someone--namely, the Opawang--is summoning something else. I'm not waiting until he finishes the job!" Raditz snapped, and plunged back into the sky. He dodged as lightning cracked down from the black sky, and dove toward the hole in the roof--only to stop short. The hole was gone; the roof stood whole, as if it had never been damaged.
Raditz summoned energy, cupped it in his hand, and threw it. The entire roof exploded. A few flaming beams fell from the far side of the keep, but the rest of the roof was utterly gone--vaporized. Raditz looked down.
The Ochimo of Fire was waiting for him; not a spirit this time, but a living warrior hovering in mid-air, crackling with flame. He extended his hand and flung a bolt of fire at Raditz. Raditz blocked and deflected it, sending it splashing against the inner wall. He sneered.
"You losers just don't get it, do you? You're so outclassed it's pathetic! If I wasn't looking for something here, I could just vaporize this whole damn castle in one blast, and be done with the lot of you! Better run while you still can."
He glanced up at Gohan. "I'll amuse myself with this fool and whoever else joins in; you get down there and find the kami's soul-cage." Raditz dove into the Fire Ochimo, sliding past his blade and slamming his fist deep into the Ochimo's gut.
PAIN! The nimbus of fire around the Ochimo was no illusion, and no earthly fire. It seared Raditz as he struck, assaulting his defenses with the power of his own blow turned against him. Raditz's blow flung the Ochimo against the wall with shattering force; Raditz reeled in mid-air, holding his seared arm. The Ochimo dropped limply to the floor below; Gohan plummeted past, looking for the soul-cage. The ivory throne was empty. The room was not.
The Earth Ochimo's sword sliced through the air; Gohan dodged it easily, and struck back. He was rocked back by the force of his own blow; the Earth Ochimo was as hard and heavy as stone! Gohan set his teeth and summoned power; the whole room shook.
The Fire Ochimo stirred and ascended once again; he appeared unhurt, as if Raditz had never struck him. Beams of white-hot flame shot from his eyes. Raditz dodged, and flung energy back. The sphere of energy enveloped his enemy and detonated, blowing a large hole in the wall behind him. The Fire Ochimo's flame vanished, as if it had been blown out by a high wind. The elemental warrior appeared otherwise unhurt.
Gohan blasted his opponent; the Earth Ochimo tumbled before the column of white-hot energy like a leaf in a hurricane. He crashed all the way through the thick stone wall and disappeared with a loud splash. Gohan looked hurriedly around the room. It was circular and rimmed with statue-filled alcoves alternating with closed doors. The ivory throne sat on a low dias in the center of the room, facing an entrance hall to the east. He saw nothing that looked like it might be the soul-cage of the kami. Gohan calmed himself and concentrated, trying to sense what might be here.
Raditz hit the Fire Ochimo again, with less force--a blow he could stop with his own defenses, should it be somehow turned against him again. The Ochimo slammed into the wall again, and Raditz felt no pain. Without that nimbus of fire, the Ochimo was nearly defenseless! Raditz grinned evilly.
Gohan sensed Raditz and the rapidly fading power of the Fire Ochimo, the Earth Ochimo crawling out of the pool outside, another similar power somewhere below, dark, horrid spirits in the sky above, and something horribly powerful and evil to the northwest, beyond the pool--and it was AWARE of him!
"AAH!" Gohan gasped out. "Raditz, IT KNOWS WE'RE HERE! This is a trap!"
"What?" There was a small explosion of fire, and something limp and bloody tumbled to the floor. The Fire Ochimo was no more. "So what if it is? They have a few surprises, but not enough power! Where's that damn soul-cage?"
"You don't understand--I sensed its power! It's horrible--like Frieza or Cell all over again."
"Its power? Gohan, what are you talking about? Whose power?"
"MINE, young fools!"
He stood on air, hovering above them, garbed in the yellow silk robes of an emperor, wrapped in a leopardskin cape secured with a golden leopard's head clasp. Long black hair tied back in the fashion of a great noble, fine, proud features, dark unfathomable eyes, and twin translucent horns spiralling from his temples, glowing with their own light.
The Opawang looked down at the two Saiyans, and held out in one hand the limp body of Goten. Beside him hovered the other two Ochimo; one held Trunks, unconscious, and the other held Bulma, also unconscious.
The Opawang smiled.
* * *
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER X. THE OPAWANG
[ Contents | VIII. At the Spring | IX. Overconfidence? | X. The Opawang ]
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Copyright 2000 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 8, 2009