Chapter 102 - My~World~
"He's going to destroy the planet!" Goten's eyes widened in horror. "Cell, how cheap are you?!"
"Bastard...he realised be couldn't win...but it isn't about winning for him," Tenshinhan was disgusted, yet his former time as a student of an assassin made it easier for him understand Cell's logic. "As long as he kills Gohan, he doesn't care if he dies."
"He won't die," replied Piccolo. "Freeza survived even the explosion of Namek; he has Cold's cells as well as Freeza's. Besides, with the tweaks that Dr. Gero did to my cells...he'll hold back just enough to regenerate from his core. We've fumbled! We're completely beaten!"
"Was he banking on this?" Trunks asked, sweat beading down his neck.
"I'd be very surprised if he wasn't," said Yamcha. The man sounded tired. Who could blame him? It wasn't often one's literal past came back to kill them all and was about to succeed.
"He's weaker than Gohan, though," Videl interjected. "What good is blowing up going to do if he can't touch him anyway."
"Self-destruction works differently," Tenshin explained. "It takes all the ki you have, and magnifies it. There's a reason blowing yourself up is a last resort, but a viable last resort. It always has a chance to kill."
"Gohan! Why are you just standing there?!" Bulma shouted angrily. Cell's ki build-up, while none of them could sense its, was creating an intense pressure and whipping winds. "He's going to destroy every—!"
Erasa held a hand up in front of the rejuvenated woman. Bulma felt irritation creep further up her spine. "Erasa, you can't just—!"
"Watch my husband work," Erasa replied. Of everyone present, Erasa was the only one not teetering on the verge of panic. "Everyone's lives are in his hands right now."
Cell's ki was ever-rising, a violent, flashing aura surrounding him now. It was different than his ability to explode in his Second Form - Cell's complete form lacked the ability to explode in that manner. Why should it have it, after all? He was supposed to be a complete being - the perfect fighter. That was behind him now. With all of his ki built up, he'd release it and wipe the multiple galaxies off the map.
Gohan, to his credit, had remained remarkably calm. His sapphire-hued aura burned vividly, the dark blue locks of his beyond God Super Saiyan form whipping in the wind. Self-destruction, Gohan mused, feeling Cell's ki rise dangerously. History had a dangerous way of running circles around the man; the Trunks of the future had explained to him how he'd died in the original timeline. Having lost an arm, he'd been cornered and killed by the cyborgs of that timeline. Trunk' history nearly repeated itself during his original fight with Cell. Now here, he found himself once again facing a Cell who was about to explode, much like when he fought Cell so many years ago.
If there is a god of time, they have a very sick sense of humour, Gohan thought. This time, however, he was no longer a child. Gokū wasn't here to save him, but Gohan wasn't the young boy who needed it anymore. The familiar incantation associated with Muten Rōshi signature technique began to escape his lips.
Gohan's aura flared, and he lifted off from the ground, moving in a direct line towards Cell. The Bio-Android's was thunderstruck; had Gohan no fear at all? His shock was nothing compared to that of those on the ground.
"Gohan, what if he detonates early?!" cried Yamcha.
"Forget that, what if Gohan gets caught in a point blank blast?!" shouted Videl.
Gohan ignored all of them, colliding with Cell as if this was simple wrestling. He did not explode, proving Gohan's hunch correct; this was an ordinary explosion, nothing intrinsic to Cell's design.
He continued speaking the words, gripping Cell's shoulders and rushing him high into Earth's upper atmosphere. Cell fought against his iron grip, struggling to concentrate and reach the necessary build up before he could explode. It would all be for nothing is the bomb went off to early.
The curvature of the planet came into view; the splendid beauty of a world that fell to Gohan to protect. His father's world. His friends' world.
"D-Damn it!" Cell's voice faltered, aghast that he was being overcome. "Let go of me! I won't lose to you again, Son Gohan!" His aura began to pulsate still father, desperately - and recklessly- increasing the build-up of ki.
Gohan violently spun on the spot, so high above the Earth that he and Cell were very clearly in the stratosphere. He released his grip on the Bio-Android only when he had angled him higher above the Earth. Cell spiraled away from Gohan, somersaulting against his will out of Earth's atmosphere. For a regular enemy, this would have been the end.
"Blessed be Gero's foresight, boy!" howled Cell, feeling neither discomfort nor Death in the vacuum of space. He spread both his arms wide, halting himself. His aura sparked violently. "NOW GO TO HELL!" Cell went off like a bomb; a violent flash of purple exploded from him in all directions, spreading outward - including down towards Earth, threatening to swallow it up.
Steadying himself at the farthest reaches of the stratosphere, where his Saiyan biology and godly body melded to perfection, Gohan finally thrust his hands towards Heaven itself.
Now it was Gohan whose form detonated. A burst of cyan expanded from the man until he was immersed in a sphere of brilliance, which shot upwards towards the descending explosion. Gohan's Kamehameha - beyond any Super Kamehameha ever cast on Earth before - crashed into Cell's barrier-like eruption. The two techniques fought against each other, one the symbol of annihilation, the other, a symbol of protection. To Earth's inhabitants, even those who couldn't manipulate ki at all, the full scope of the battle was coming into proper focus. The sun was completely obscured; in its place, a blue sphere manifested, shining brightly and trembling violently against a similarly sized purple orb. Gale-force winds swept the globe over, churning waters, uprooting trees, crumbling mountains well before their time. The planet was threatening to give way under pressure from gods doing thousands of miles above it.
"I've gone through literal Hell to kill you, Gohan," Cell practically snarled, gnashing his teeth as he expanded his sphere outwards ever farther. "I'll come back from this as well! I will reign victorious!"
Cell didn't know what Gohan had gone through either; unlike the Bio-Android, however, Gohan felt no need to make these same bold proclamations. It was his experiences that moulded him to this point, after all: the loss of his father, finding love through Erasa, and slowly, but steadily, realising what to truly means to protect something. Gokū often claimed Earth as his planet. Both in a protective sense, as well as distancing himself from the violent origins of the Saiyans.
It's my world too, thought Gohan fiercely. Erasa...Pen...Mother...Goten...everyone... Faces flooded his mind's eye. His grandparents, his friends, regular Earthlings he's associated with only through business. Gohan could almost feel as if they were giving him energy for some incredible Genki Dama.
"I never wanted to see you again, Cell," Gohan said, very slowly and quietly. If Cell could hear him, he didn't know. He didn't care either. These words were for himself. "I bungled everything as a boy...and let you get away with far too much. Now's the time to fix that!" He felt as if he was that same child of nine, fending off Cell with only a single arm. This time, it wasn't his father here to encourage him. Gohan would be there for himself.
"NOW!" Gohan shouted, practically to the Gohan of the past. His ki swelled to a crescendo, enveloping Cell's overgrowing wave of ki as a predator swallows prey. Cell's explosion was snuffed out easily, Gohan feeling his Kamehameha colliding with him.
Cell's face worked in a rage, practically in fury. "DAMN Y—!" His howl of anger was cut short, his silhouette fading into nothingness as the Kamehameha shot upwards into the universe and out if the Milky Way - whether Gohan struck a neighboring Galaxy would be an issue for its inhabitants and astronomers. It gradually dissipated, reducing from a gargantuan size to a thin line, before disappearing.
No trace of Cell remained.
Gohan felt drained, yet he forced himself to remain floating for another solid minute. When the young man was certain that Cell had truly gone, his blue hair relaxed its rigidity, shifting to its onyx hue. He released his own ki's hold on him, and allowed Earth's gravity to pull him back home.
Silence on Earth.
The calamity in that skies that made the planet threaten to reduce to ash had subsided. The apocalyptic display of lights in the sky was gone, leaving only clear blue - no clouds had survived Gohan and Cell's existence.
Everything was finally still.
"Who...who won?" Trunks asked, blankly. He couldn't sense any ki one way or the other, but this was not an indicator anymore. "Gohan.. or Cell?"
"I don't like not knowing," Goten said. He worried for Gohan.
Silence followed these statements. Then, a burst of flames lit the sky. Was it a shooting star? That wasn't the case, however, it was streaking towards Earth, burning gold and leaving a trail behind it. Instinctually, Erasa lifted off, rushing towards the streak of light, arms outstretched—
—and her husband collided with her, sending her spiraling downwards. The woman steadied herself, keeping a firm grip on Gohan as she did so. The man she held in her arms wore singed gi, his ebony tresses frayed. At first, his lack of response worried her, until she felt him breathing.
Erasa smiled. "Well done, Gohan," she whispered before turning towards her friends and family and shouting down to them all.
"It's Gohan! He won!"
The uproar was tumultuous. Goten and Trunks crowed Erasa's last two words, while Videl and Yamcha sighed in relief. Piccolo could only grin, and Bulma let out a sigh which made it feel like years worth of tension left her all at once. Dende was speechless. But everyone's differing reactions aside, one thing was assured.
Gohan had saved them all again.
The raucous cheering of the entire Dragon Team below caused Gohan to stir. Weakly, his eyelids opened, and the man winced at the light. Looking upward, he saw the tender smile of his wife.
"Good morning," she said cheekily. "How is my Golden Warrior?"
Gohan chuckled in spite of the pain. "Exhausted," came the simple reply. "It's over."
Erasa placed her forehead to his, and the two sat in silence for a moment. "Come on," she said, not letting go of him. "You just relax. We'll get you to Dende and have him work his magic." The couple descended, with Erasa beckoning Dende over as well as she could with two full arms. She refused to simply lay her husband on the scarred ground, and thus Dende healed him as she kept a firm hold on Gohan.
"You've outdone yourself," came an airy voice. Gohan, who had been rising to his feet after Erasa finally released him, saw Whis and Beerus standing amongst them. Neither had teleported in with any visible sign, leaving Gohan continually amazed at the abilities of the gods. "Lord Beerus could hardly stomach his meal watching your battle."
Beerus' ears twitched in annoyance, but to the others' surprise, he held his tongue in regards to this remark. "So then, Saiyan...something seems different about you. Have you given thought to Whis' words earlier?"
Gohan had to think; he was still mentally exhausted, and the battle with Cell had forced all else from his mind. Whis' words, however, seem to the forefront of his mind; Gohan nodded. "Honestly...its too soon to have entirely processed it. But yeah...I think I've discovered my reason for fighting."
Beerus smirked, but asked no more questions. Whis merely smiled. There was something to be said for the joy a teacher felt in watching their students grow.
It was after Gohan's was healed that matters of importance came. Cell had entirely wrecked the planet, and they had suffered losses. Bulma, efficient as ever and with the energy of her renewed youth, set about collecting the Dragon Balls. Gohan offered to aid her, but Bulma shot him down firmly.
And thus Gohan found himself at home, resting in spite of Dende's powers having recuperated him fully. Bulma promised that she would contact everyone once she'd gathered the Dragon Balls. The entire debacle with Cell felt as it had lasted three years, the he knew that was just the mental exhaustion speaking.
Thus, Gohan relaxed at home with his family, playing a particularly fast clapping game with his daughter, who was eager to see her father home, when Bulma bought everyone to the East Mountain District 439, carrying a set of crimson orbs. Everyone gathered around - Pen, amazed at the sight of seven perfectly round spheres hued the same as a setting sun - as Bulma spread her arms wide and summoned Shénlóng. The entire forest exploded in light, the serpentine body of Earth's Dragon God erupting high into the sky. The crimson dragon leered down at every individual present, its sapphire eyes glinting.
"YOU WHO HAVE COLLECTED THE SEVEN DRAGON BALLS. SPEAK. I WILL GRANT YOUR THREE WISHES!"
And so the damage to Earth began to repair itself. Bulma outlined their requests to Shénlóng, whose eyes emitted a brilliant blue hue with every wish.
Restore the damage done to Earth by Cell. Bring back to life those whom Cell had killed, or whose deaths were a byproduct of the Bio-Android's assault. These wishes began to heal the wounded planet and repair damaged souls. The group was initially at a loss for what to do about the third wish, until—
"Shénlóng," said Gohan slowly, stepping forward. "You know many things, don't you? Cell, the creature that attacked our planet and caused so much damage, had a benefactor. We need to know who she is."
"THAT I CANNOT SAY," replied Shénlóng. "THE HAND OF GOD HOVERS OVER YOU, SON GOHAN. IT IS BEYOND MY ABILITY TO DIVULGE THAT WHICH IS PREFERRED TO BE KEPT SECRET BY HIGHER GODS."
"What?" Gohan blinked, surprised.
"MY POWER, EVEN AFTER BEING REPAIRED AND BOLSTERED BY MERGING WITH A SECOND SET OF DRAGON BALLS, IS NOT LIMITLESS," Shénlóng carried on.
"You knew about the Super Saiyan God," interrupted Goten.
"THAT IS BECAUSE THE KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR DEITY WAS KEPT WITHINNTHE SCOPE OF NAMECCIAN HISTORY AS WELL," Shénlóng stated irritably. "IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A THIRD WISH, I WILL TAKE MY LEAVE—"
"Are there Dragon Balls that can?"
The inquiry came from Piccolo this time, not Gohan or the others. "I was originally from the Dragon Clan. The ability to make Dragon Balls is instinctual to those members of my people, but when I first made you, it was clear the Dragon Balls weren't coming from me - I was a conduit."
"IS THAT YOUR FINAL WISH?"
"YOU ARE ASTUTE. AS THE FORMER GOD, AND MY ORIGINATOR, YOU RECALL THE FEELING OF CREATING DRAGON BALLS," Shénlóng's eyes began to glow, and he projected an image of a Dragon Ball - massive in size, it hovered over the entire forest. "WE DRAGONS HAVE OUR GOD. NAMECCIANS CREATE DRAGON BALLS BY POOLING PORTIONS OF THE DRAGON BALLS THIS DEITY - ZALAMA - CREATED. IF YOU WISH A QUESTION ANSWERED BY THE DRAGON BALLS, THEN YOU WOULD SEEK OUT THE SUPER DRAGON BALLS. SEVEN ORBS, SPLIT BETWEEN THIS UNIVERSE AND ITS TWIN. THE SHÉNLÓNG OF THE SUPER DRAGON BALLS IS WITHOUT PEER AND RESTRICTION."
With this final wish granted, Earth's crimson Dragon Balls rose high into the sky, before splitting into every which direction. Erasa made note of where the One-Star Ball had flown. It would be returned to its shrine when she found the time.
"That was a waste of a wish," Trunks muttered. "Sure, these Super Dragon Balls sound cool, but they sound stupid hard to find."
"I'm more surprised at the mention of other universes than Dragon Balls of limitless power," noted Videl, and a few heads nodded in agreement.
Gohan was the only one unperturbed by that bit of knowledge. Whis and Beerus had always spoken of "this" Universe very deliberately, and while he never considered asking, it wasn't a surprise in the slightest to find their words were literal. When prompted, Whis replied simply.
"Yes, what Shénlóng said was indeed true. This general universe is currently part of a set of twelve!, and each Universe has a twin. This is the Seventh Universe, and the aforementioned twin is known as the Sixth."
"Currently...?" asked Bulma warily. She, like Gohan, paid deliberate word usage her attention. "Implying there were more?"
"There were originally eighteen," replied a disgruntled Beerus. "Its best you don't ask where they went."
That stopped any further questioning.
"Still, like Trunks said, its just a load of new information with no use," said Goten, shrugging. "We didn't find out anything useful."
"We did," said Gohan. "Whomever brought Cell back from the dead is a deity, and a fairly powerful one." He sighed, slumping down into a sitting position. "This isn't over," he said grimly. Looking up at Whis, the black-haired man's eyes were ablaze. "Will you continue to train us, Whis?"
Whis smiled knowingly. "Of course — in return for more of Earth's delicacies."
It was with a cloud hanging over the celebrations that the debacle concerning Cell had come to a close. With their comrsdes and the citizens revived, the Dragon Team began to resume their lives. Nos. 17 and 18 were released from Majin Bū, who was relieved that everything had worked out and his family and friends were safe. No. 17 returned to his reserve, and No. 18 to the city.
Gohan and Erasa returned to their dōjō. The time for training would come, and when it did, they would take up the mantle rigorously. But right now, Gohan thought, scooping Pen up into his arms, these are precious moments. I can't skip out on what's important. The family of three headed inside to a night of quiet and rest.
The future would bring its problems in time.
Seventh Universe, Nebula of God, the Winding Tree Palace, Dining Room
Having returned to his world, Beerus casually devoured some sort of cooked animal - it wasn't a delicacy from Earth, but Whis had told Beerus that dining only on Earth food would dull its taste. Reluctantly, he agreed, but the food of this Universe was subpar on every planet but Earth. Wolfing down the last scraps of meat, Beerus leaned back casually in one of his floating chairs.
"You surprise me, Lord Beerus," Whis said, cutting a slab of meat onto a plate and passing it towards his deity. "You know full well who send Cell after Gohan. Did you not wish to tell him?"
"It isn't his business if he doesn't ask," said Beerus thickly, his mouth full of his dinner. With a great swallow, he said more clearly. "We don't want that lot to become too reliant on us gods; you're already doing too much by training them — though I suppose that's well within your limits."
"Its as you say, Lord Beerus," Whis smiled wryly. "We Angels are permitted to do so much as instruct; it doesn't go against our laws, after all. You can also hardly claim not to be interested in how Son Gohan will grow."
"Hmph," Beerus scoffed. "I just think dealing with her might be good for him. She's no longer an official Hakaishin - what she does has no bearing on us. Instead, we'll see how Gohan comes out of it. And if he's successful," Beerus shrugged. "Then he's worthy of being called my rival."
The discussion ended on this matter-of-fact note, while Beerus continued eating well into the night.
Peace, as tenuous as ever, had been restored for now.
A/N: So first off, everyone, Happy New Year! I'm sorry the first chapter of 2022 is a short one, but here we are. Now..I wonder how many of my readers are old readers? That's an odd thought to begin an author's note with, but it really does come into scope that I've been writing this fanfic since 2014. That's been seven years of inconsistent updating, but for everyone who has stuck around through that - you all are the real MVPs. This brings the Bio-Android Resurgence arc to a close; I spent way too long on this arc, and I didn't intend to. However, it did what I intended it to: this was Gohan's comeback arc, and I was happy to write it. To everyone who wanted, or expected a longer chapter than this - you all know me by now. I don't like dragging fights out. When I have a good ending, I have a good ending,
What I very much enjoyed was finally establishing the the Multiverse, and the Super Dragon Balls. This story has long been in the "DBS era", and these important details are finally brought to light. Where will we go from here? Only I know. But I hope you all enjoy the trip with me: I'll see you all in the next exciting chapter of the Erased Chronicles!