"Thank all for coming here on such short notice. I realize you're all deep into your respective training regiments and I assure you, I won't take up too much of your time." King Kai assures them following a small cough to clear his throat. He stands at the head of a simple, wooden table long enough for dozens of people to dine on, giving him a clear view of, almost, all of the people his news will be the most relevant to.
To his left are the two members of the Son family, Goku, and Gohan, clad in their usual attires but with a distinct difference: their golden hair. Some months ago, at Gohan's insistence, they opted to remain in their Super Saiyan states as much as possible. To eliminate the strain the form places on the body but more importantly, the emotional turmoil which can turn even a nice, polite boy like Gohan into a bloodthirsty warrior his Saiyan ancestors would approve of.
A far cry from the path his most recent... student, Prince Vegeta has decided to take, the only one not present for this meeting as he insisted on training instead. Instead of mastering the regular form, he spends his days constantly increasing his power to bigger and bigger heights. Not ineffective by any means as he's right around Goku and Gohan's level by King Kai's latest estimate, but for every gain, the Son duo make with greater ease, he has to through days of practically destroying himself.
The God suspects Vegeta himself is aware of this potential flaw and if he thought it could make a difference, King Kai would try to make Vegeta see the benefits of Gohan's method, but this is Vegeta after all so he'll take what he can get. Who knows, perhaps the Saiyan Prince holds some secret of his own for the Super Saiyan power he's keeping close to the chest?
Tien and Krillin, sitting to his right, have been diligently training as well. Olibu has spoken of their practice, though not in great detail. Apparently, the two have been tinkering the Kaio-Ken technique to lessen the strain on the body while trying to increase their strength to near Super Saiyan levels. Even as they sit here, fully relaxed, the Kai can sense a great increase in power from the two of them, but as he was from the start, he remains doubtful if they can truly reach the levels of their more alien, battle ready companions.
Piccolo, resting off to the corner with his arms and legs folded, remains the big x-factor out of all of them. Unlike the others, neither Piccolo or Slug have made an effort to keep King Kai in the loop with regards to his training. All he can sense is a great swell of powering lingering inside the relaxed Super Namekian, but what else is hiding there? The Super Namekian's of old, before their civil war destroyed the original Namekian population down to two, had many exotic abilities of Ki manipulation never seen or replicated anywhere else, was that the bulk of Piccolo's training? Refinement of energy instead of increasing raw power?
In any event, King Kai and more importantly, his superiors, would see what the fruits of their training soon enough.
"This is about the tournament, I assume?" Piccolo speaks up first. "I overheard Master Slug discuss it with some of his fellow warriors the other day, it's supposedly quite an event."
"Indeed it is," King Kai confirms with a nod. "For once every one thousand years, the Grand Kai, overseer of the four quadrant Kai's such as myself and my brothers and sister, holds a tournament where warriors residing here may participate to test themselves against one another in tests of speed, strength, and endurance. Warriors from across time and space of every size and gender fighting to attain the ultimate prize."
Everyone but Gohan and Goku leans forward just a bit with looks of barely contained anticipation in their eyes. Even the usual stoic Piccolo fails to contain his curiosity judging by the slight widening of his eyes.
"The Room of Spirit and Time!" King Kai reveals with a smirk and a flash crossing over his glasses. "A special dimension designed to give its user the harshest training imaginable."
"How hard can it be?" Krillin asks, raising his hand awkwardly into the air. "No offense to you King Kai but we've done some crazy things these past few months. Stuff I thought was gonna kill me... Uhh... Destroy me? For sure!"
"I do not say things like that lightly my boy, especially to a bunch of diligent workers like yourselves," This gets him smile from everyone in the room, even Piccolo smirks a bit. "But this place is beyond anything else in the afterlife or the living world. It is a dimension where the very laws of space, time, physics are loosened or heightened at complete random. Tell me, what's the highest level of gravity you've trained under?"
"Uhh," Goku moans, scratching his cheek. "I haven't used the machine in forever but I think it was...a hundred times Earth's gravity?"
"Not bad," King Kai nods. "Now imagine going up to five hundred or even as high as two thousand times!"
A moment of silence passes in the room as they try to comprehend such a thing with faces of expected shock.
"B-but," Krillin blurts out. "That's... That's insane!"
"Precisely the point. The Room of Spirit and Time is designed to be as dangerous and hostile as possible. It is a vast, empty dimension where it is difficult to even breath, the gravity shifts at complete random, as does the temperature. One moment you may find yourself enjoying a reasonable ten times Earth's gravity when suddenly a blazing inferno explodes all around you and you find yourself crashing into it from the gravity becomes dozens of times stronger in mere seconds.
"If you venture deeper inside, you will find more bizarre occurrences. You may find yourself caught in a thick mist where if you let so much as an ounce of Ki leak out of your body, you will be unable to move at all. In fact, if what Pikkon once told me is true, bizarre creatures, capable of sensing your fear and adapting to your power reside in the furthest corners of this dimension, an ultimate, final test of your strength."
"This is why you've let us train for so long without using it," Tien concludes as a few visible drops of sweat roll across his face. "If we tried going in there when we just arrived-"
"You would have all died, Earthling or Super Namekian or Super Saiyan, it would have made no difference, you'd have all died sooner or later. Certainly well before a full-year could pass."
"A-A year?" Gohan gasps out, taken completely aback by the prospect of spending another year while the Earth and everyone on it, his family and friends most of all, are in constant threat of dying. "B-But King Kai! We can't stay in there for a year! Everyone we know could be dead by then-"
"Calm yourself Gohan," The God tells him with a soothing voice and smile. "The Room of Spirit and Time operates under different rules than the rest of existence, a single day out here is the equivalent of an entire year out there."
This gets its desired effect with Gohan letting out a relieved sigh and even chuckling a bit for losing his cool so quickly. "Sorry, King Kai."
"It's no trouble my boy, I understand perfectly."
"So," Piccolo speaks up again, taking his away off Gohan and back to King Kai. "If we want to get entry into this Room of Spirit and Time, we're supposed to win the tournament?"
"If you want one day, sure. Whom so ever wins the champion title for this turn around is allowed to enter the Room with any one person of his or her choosing or go in alone. But if they wish to enter for another day, or simply pass this opportunity on to someone else, they must defeat the champion of the last tournament."
"Thus bringing us to our next obstacle, Pikkon."
"Indeed," King Kai admits to the Namekian and the others. "Pikkon is a formidable warrior, and even with all you've done to grow stronger, defeating him will be no easy task. He has spent the better part of millennia without a proper challenge, and he will not hesitate to hold back or go easy on you should anyone of you here face him. He will push you all to your limits and beyond, for a warrior deprived of the true thrill of battle such as him... Let's just say, he's got some steam to blow off."
"We'll beat him," Gohan proclaims confidently. "We've got too much riding on us not to do it."
"Indeed we will," Piccolo agrees to the boy's statement with a smirk. "I've no intention of passing up a chance for testing myself in this Room of Spirit and Time. Champion or not, Pikkon is in for the fight of his life this time."
"You'll have to beat me and Krillin first, Piccolo," Tien challenges from across the room good-naturedly. "We've got a few tricks up our sleeves that're gonna throw you for a loop."
"He does have a point, Piccolo," Goku speaks with excitement oozing from his voice. "I've been noticing some pretty crazy power spikes from these two lately. They're gonna be a pair to watch out for."
"Well, I don't know about that..." Krillin chuckles, rubbing the back of his head. "You Super Saiyan's and Super Namekian's are a tough bunch to keep up with."
"Don't sell yourself short, Krillin, uhh..." He trails off, noticing his play on words and the glare from his best friend. "I mean, I'm sure you guys are gonna do great. Besides, you can't tell me you aren't even a little excited about the idea of having a rematch with me, are you?"
"There's at least four people we know out for a rematch with you, Goku," Piccolo comments from behind the Super Saiyan. "Give it some more time, and I'm sure we could hold a special tournament just for the chance of fighting you."
"Now there's an idea," Goku rubs his chin before they all erupt into a fit of laughing together. As he watches them, King Kai can't help but smile at finding them all in such high spirits. It makes what he has to say to them next all the more difficult, but if it helps them to train harder in the remaining time they have left to the tournament, it will have to be done.
"I have something else to tell you," In contrast to before, a sternness enters the God's voice. A tone he reserves for only the most serious of situations. "As you all know, there is another reason for you training here besides merely helping you save the Earth. The threat of Babidi and his ultimate creation, Majin Boo."
"You've got news for us?" Gohan inquires.
"Yes and you're not going to like it, not one bit," He warns them and sighs before explaining further. "My superior, the Supreme Kai and his attendant, Kibito, have spent the past few months tracking down Babidi and his minions across space. As I said when you first arrived here, their agents took notice of a powerful warrior, a Super Saiyan capable of giving enough energy to revive the monstrous Majin Boo. But until recently, they've made little progress in finding the man behind this scheme. Forcing them to do something... Questionable..."
"Which is?" This time, it is Piccolo to ask, his previous smirk vanishing as his instincts visibly tell him something is very wrong.
Following a gulp and another sigh, with a heavy heart, King Kai tells them. "They're going let information about to Earth to leak out..."
"What?!" All of the present fighters spring to their feet with Gohan being the first, most mortified by this news and Goku the most relaxed out of the whole group.
"Yes... They've decided that with your training nearing completion, and following my... Confident reports on your progress, well for most of you, that the best course of action is to leak the location of the Earth once you've more or less become as strong as you can be after your time here."
"How can they do this?" Krillin asks in a mix of shock and fear. "Don't they realize these kids rampaging across the planet could be strong enough to revive Majin Boo?"
"They're going to put our home at risk, King Kai," Gohan says in much the same tone as the bald, Turtle School student on the opposite seat from him. "Are they really so desperate to find this Babidi?"
"I do not condone this condition, if it were up to me, I'd simply let Babidi and whatever group he's aligned with to rot in the darkest corners of the universe until his magic can no longer sustain him," He tells them honestly, always one to prefer caution instead of confrontation. "But you must understand, the Supreme Kai is the only survivor of the original Majin Boo rampages. He witnessed the deaths of his closest family at the hands of this beast and has hunted his remains, and his master, for millennia. He sees an opportunity to draw him out, and he will not pass it by."
"That doesn't excuse putting our planet at risk," Tien answers coldly, crossing his arms. "The fact he'll do it no matter what without our say even..."
"The threat of Majin Boo is great, yes, but it is not guaranteed," King Kai states matter of factly to try and deflate the situation. "Babidi stills needs the energy of a strong, evil being to release the creature. Once you all arrive on Earth and Babidi comes to collect, you will all be more than powerful enough to defeat him and whatever minions he has. The odds of Majin Boo actually reviving are quite slim, and become slimmer with every increase in strength you gain."
"It'll be alright guys," Goku puts a reassuring hand on his son's shoulder. "We've been in some tough spots before and we've pulled through. This time'll be no different. Plus, I'll be going back to Earth with you for extra insurance."
All save King Kai and Gohan give him puzzled looks. The God decides to explain for him. "Thanks to the efforts of one Uranai Baba and King Yemma, Goku has one day with which he can temporarily return to the world of the living and fight there should the need arise. Given the importance of this mission, I thought it best to have you all there on the ground for extra insurance."
This does seem to make the others visibly relax somewhat. Just by looking at them, their practically stiff and battle ready bodies all relax and settle down. Though, even with this, King Kai takes notice of the worried frowns and scowls of Piccolo and Tien.
"I mean..." Krillin awkwardly begins, drawing all eyes in the room on to himself. "Goku's gonna be there... And we're all a lot more powerful than ever, plus with this Room of Spirit and Time..."
"Even with all of that, we can't relax," Piccolo tells them like a drill sergeant to his troops. "Though I suspect we won't make many more strength gains in the next two weeks until the tournament, growing lax will only leave more room for things to spiral out of control when the moment of truth comes. I suggest we all return to our business and do whatever it takes to get stronger."
"My thoughts exactly," Tien nods at the Namekian. "Come on Krillin, we've got a lot of work to do."
Without another word, Tien flies out of a nearby window with a dumbfounded Krillin left in his wake. The bald monk gives the others an awkward smile, and an awkward farewell bow to King Kai before powering up as well. "See ya later guys!"
"We should get moving too, dad," Gohan tells his father with a look of sheer determination. "I don't know if it'll make much of a difference, but we've got to win this tournament and get into that Room, whatever it takes."
"You should listen to him, Goku," Piccolo says with a proud smile. "The boy knows what he's talking about." After receiving a smile from the two Super Saiyan's, Piccolo also flies out of the room, no doubt back to his own master and sparring partner. Following a farewell wave and bow, the Son duo vanish back to their training area as well. Leaving King Kai alone as he tries mentally hopes for their success.
For if his superior, the Supreme Kai is willing to put even a single planet at risk just for the sake of his mission, he worries what else might he do before this whole ordeal is over and done with?
So yeah, we had a big lore change happen here but one I had planned from the beginning. The tournament lacked a real purpose initially besides just letting characters we know, along with ones we may not, fight in some cool locales just for the sake of it. But by making the ROSAT or Hyperbolic Timechamber a prize, along with the looming threat of Majin Boo, I think the change justifies itself.
And don't were, Cell will factor into things yet, I won't just skip him over ;)