Trunks, Robin, and Starfire barreled through time, with the nervous Tamaranean checking the rearview mirror every couple of seconds. Robin noticed her worry. "We lost them for now, Star," Robin said, "they'll make themselves known again if they catch up."
She wasn't the only one with a troubled expression on her face. "Now I'm starting to wonder something about our friends back there," Trunks said.
"What is it, Trunks?" Starfire asked.
"Well," he said, "either I'm fending them off successfully, or they're not out to stop us."
Robin looked out the window as well, the paranoia inside the car creeping up on him. "They've trailed us at every stop," Robin said, "what else could they be doing?"
"They could be planning to revive Gohan," Starfire said, "I would imagine learning what the Saiyans can do would make them quite valuable to anyone searching for a powerful weapon."
"I noticed that they never seem to go for Gohan straight off," Trunks said, "maybe they just want to take me out first, but getting away from them so easily three times in a row isn't a coincidence."
"Who else would they go after?" Robin asked. "Gohan was the most powerful Z-Fighter of our time, letting us revive Gohan and have him fight with us will let us take out whoever they send our way."
"All the other Z-Fighters are alive," Starfire said.
Trunks' eyes narrowed. "Not all of them."
Starfire saw two purple blips appear in the rearview mirror. "They're here," she said, seeing the portal to their next stop opening in the distance. "Perhaps we should ask them ourselves?"
"Getting the likes of them to talk about their dreams and aspirations isn't an easy task," Trunks said.
"I have a feeling she knows that," Robin said, "the longer we let them stay in our way, they only become a bigger problem."
Their opponents rushed underneath them, firing back before they rushed through the portal. The car shook terribly with a hit to the undercarriage, making them lurch forward and flip through the entrance to the past after several minutes of uncontrolled spinning. They nosedived from the portal and into a bright, rocky plain with dust kicked up hundreds of feet in the air as if bombs had been going off all day. "That was a lucky shot, but not a fatal one," Trunks said, darting out the window with the Titans and carrying the car to safety.
"If we don't hurry, they'll be the ones getting off lucky," Robin said, bursting into the air and looking down at the battlefield. The Z-Fighters all looked broken, battered, and bruised from a tall, green and black insect of a humanoid with a green crown-like extension on his head, long, black wings and armor plates from his exoskeleton, and smooth, bluish gray skin on his eerily human face standing with a Super Saiyan's aura. He laughed at his fallen ring of opponents, with Vegeta laying on the ground barely conscious and a warrior close to them now laying in a pool of his own blood in a terrified Yamcha's arms. "Trunks?!"
"Cell looks far more formidable in person, his ki is incredible too," Starfire said, "he killed you, Trunks?"
"I told you I died once," Trunks said to gloss over the brutal image below, desperately trying to sense for the energy of the bandits, "and we missed Goku's by a few minutes, I hope that wasn't it, but I have a theory that this moment might matter more. You two stay here and swipe that crystal so we can get out of here, I'll find Mira and Towa."
Before Starfire could question it, Trunks had vanished in search of their ominous travel partners. She and Robin watched from a plateau far from the battle but close enough to feel the heat, keeping their eyes focused on the young boy in a tattered purple training uniform with flowing, spiky golden hair, emerald eyes fixed in a rage at the insect who had defeated his friends, and blood running down his forehead, arms, and exposed torso. "At such a young age," she said, watching the hero they knew as a man fight for the fate of them and their entire planet as just a boy, "such a great burden…"
Robin watched him closely in awe as the skies darkened from his raw power, ignoring his one broken, limp arm to draw everything he had in his little body into his one good arm. "I remember the Cell Games, at least I heard about it as a kid," Robin said.
"Ka… me…" Gohan announced, spiking the familiar blue wave of death on his hand.
"It was the event that convinced so many heroes to come out of the shadows to fight together, in case we were taken off guard like this again," Robin said.
"Ha… me…" Gohan continued, peaking Cell's interest.
"The Justice League did not believe it was real," Starfire said, noting the destroyed news vehicles scattered around the plains, "but something needed to change their minds."
"Something big did," Robin said, feeling the battlefield shake from the opposing forces' powers. "They didn't need to see it, to know it was happening."
Cell laughed at the last stand with a deep, rich voice, mirroring the attack. "Now you die!"
"Ha!" Gohan screamed at the top of his lungs until his throat turned raw, blasting out a Kamehameha Wave larger than the two Titans had ever seen anyone fire before clash with a wave of equal size, swallowing the entire white, square stone arena with four tall, spiked pillars that chipped off into rubble as soon as the center of the clash consumed them.
"They could feel it," Robin said, jumping back with Starfire as the clash consumed the rocky plateaus nearly a mile away from the center of the struggle for earth.
The other Z-Fighters flew away as fast as they could, but the winds swept up from the attack were overwhelmingly powerful and threw the two Titans to the ground. Robin looked up and his heart nearly stopped as the attack burnt the soles of his shoes. He backed up with a rocket of ki, barreling into Starfire trying to do just the same. They stumbled to their feet and shot back in the air while keeping their eye on the young warrior. Thankfully, they knew how it ended. Cell was having the time of his life, laughing confidently while pushing forward against Earth's last hope. "Man, at this rate, he's going to change the shape of the planet!" Krillin shouted.
"If there's a planet left," Piccolo growled nervously, shielding his eyes from the dust. "Cell…"
"This must be hard for you with all those wounds," Cell taunted, "I'm sure this makes them burn!" Cell intensified his half of the clash, the horizon of the center inching closer to Gohan with every passing moment. He could feel the young man's strength fading from the shakiness in his opponent's arm. "And now this is where you end!"
Starfire watched Gohan nearly stumble headfirst into it, gasping as he barely got his footing back to continue holding on with every remaining ounce of his strength.
"I can feel you slipping!" Cell shouted.
"Masenko-Ha!" Piccolo roared from above, firing his attack passed down to Beast Boy at Cell's back.
"No, Mister Piccolo!" Gohan screamed, feeling him drop in vain.
"Kikoho!" Tien shouted.
"Kamehameha!" Yamcha yelled, falling with his best friend next to the Namekian.
One yellow shot from the sky caught Cell's ire, forcing the bug of a man to turn with a twisted grimace at the Saiyan. "Vegeta?!" he exclaimed, but still, his form barely faltered.
Starfire raised her hand, aiming it at Cell's legs. "Star, what are you doing?" Robin said, trying to divert her arm charging the green energy blast forming on her hand. "We can't alter the past, we could drastically change the future!"
"I don't think we are, Robin," Starfire said hurriedly, "take the crystal when you see it, I will give Gohan the edge!"
She fired the blast, hitting Cell's foot and dropping his leg two feet through the dirt. Cell gasped at the sudden burst of energy from the opponent's side that he couldn't suppress from trying to regain his footing first, but Gohan's attack started to burn his hands. Cell turned to the source of the blast, opening his mouth to curse out the Tamaranean and instead letting out his last scream of desperation as the blue wave from the young Saiyan broke free with a true warrior's cry, carrying Cell's ashes into space and dispersing the menace among the stars. Robin shielded his eyes from the blinding light, but the diamond shadow forming over Gohan's head forced Robin to trudge forward anyway. He crept up to the Saiyan wonder, swiping the crystal and darting away while he was too invested to care. Robin darted over to Starfire. "Now let's get out of here!"
Starfire gave one last heartfelt, sad glance to the Saiyan with the world on his shoulders, flying back to the car. They could see the bright epicenter of the fateful battle from miles away, but didn't have time to dwell on it. "Get in," Trunks said from inside the car. "We have to move to our next checkpoint right now if we have any chance of catching up to Mira and Towa."
"They completely neglected the crystal," Robin said, holding it up for him to see.
The Titans got into the car and the time travelers took off. "It's not Gohan they're after," Trunks said.
"Then who?" the Titans asked.
Trunks scowled in the rearview. "The only person who could beat him."
"It's too hot out here, man!" Cyborg said, wiping away sweat from the human half of his forehead. "Are you sure he's all the way down here, Raven?"
Raven pulled out the keys to the large, orange spaceship built for five people the leaned up against, sending it off into the sky to call on later. They hopped off the top of the small building they secretly touched down on, landing in the alleyway and turning into the bustling sidewalks more or less hidden with the occasional glance from nervous fans here or there. "He has to be," she said, passing a banner that read "All Year, All Mardi Gras, All New Orleans" in bright purple letters in the distance where a large crowd converged upon, all ready to party.
"I wish Robin and Star were here," Garfield said, "we could've had some fun while hunting down the other gates."
They blended into the odd crowd, people of all shapes and sizes moving down the busy streets to dixieland jazz blasting from all around to set the light mood. The smell of cajun spices lingered in the air that was hot and ripe with magical energies that nearly overwhelmed the daughter of Trigon.
"On second thought," Beast Boy said, seeing market stands left and right with roasted pigs, fried chicken, and seafood of all kinds getting waved in his face, "maybe we shouldn't stay here for too long."
"The event just started," Raven said. "It's harder to pick up on him here than if he was anywhere else, but I've got him locked on. You'll know him when you see him."
"It's harder to pick up on him here?" Cyborg said. "You're not telling me there are other demons here, right?"
"This is New Orleans, Cy," she said as if it was obvious, "this place known for food and voodoo, and with pompous Europeans using voodoo foolishly to open doors that they couldn't close over two and a half centuries, it turned this place into a Mecca for my father's children and spawn."
"How are we going to find our guy if one out of two people here are demonic?" Beast Boy asked. "It's like looking at something with sonar but everything's a red dot."
"We're looking for Gluttony," Raven said. "Follow the food."
The trio of Titans pushed their way through the crowds slowly but surely, going from food table to food table in search for their target. "What does he look like, Rae?"
"No clue," Raven said, "the last time any of my siblings saw him was a decade ago. I have his ki locked on, we just have to catch up."
"For someone who's supposed to eat everything, he's not wasting any time!" Beast Boy said. "Does he even taste it before it goes down?"
They reached the city hall where the festival was blocked at the steps, with a long buffet table managed by the state's best chefs feeding the mouth of one gargantuan man wearing wide, red shorts, a blue tee shirt far too small, and a brown cul de sac on pale white skin, The chefs looked disturbed as they handed plates to the man gorging them out of their other customers left and right, slamming the plates down on the ground as soon as he finished them. "Apparently not," Cyborg said with disgust.
"We can't fight him here," Raven said, "you two lead him out of the festival, I'm going to take this one."
"I thought your magic didn't work against your siblings," Beast Boy said, "I can-"
"I'm not going to use magic," Raven said, "you both got hurt fighting my last two brothers, and Gluttony's magic is more advanced than the others."
Beast Boy looked into her eyes earnestly. "We don't expect anything in return from you," Beast Boy said, "as long as you're here with us and happy, that's all that matters."
Raven turned away quickly to hide her blush. "Just go,"
Garfield nodded to Cy and the two Titans stood on either side of the demon. He had a huge face with beady, yellow eyes, stubble caked with food and sauce, and generally gave off the impression that he was fairly sticky. They watched the chef closely as they shakily passed another plate of brisket, mashed potatoes, and corn to the sin, but this plate never reached his gullet. "Hey!" he shouted in a whiny voice, turning sharply to the machine of a man holding the plate. "That was mine!"
Cyborg looked him in the eye, chomping it down to make the pale sin's skin burn bright red. "You want it back?" he said, opening his arms asking for a fight. "Did I piss you off, Jabba?"
"I'm gonna turn you into scrap metal!" Gluttony roared, his black aura exploding and blowing the buffet tables back.
The two Titans dashed over the boundary lines for the party and the demon barreled after them like a linebacker into downtown. "That was easy," Beast Boy said.
"That wasn't the difficult part," Cyborg said, darting into the nearest dead end alleyway.
"I got you now!" Gluttony said, blocking the exit with his girth. His hands burned with black energy and he focused one hand each on the Titans. "I think I might just cook you, save you for lunch! Azarath Metrion Zinthos!"
A black bolt crashed in front of Gluttony in the shape of a bird with glowing red eyes. Raven rose to her feet, glaring into the beast's eyes. "I think you know why I'm here."
Gluttony focused his hands on her. "You can't win, sister."
"That's what they all say," Raven hissed, striking hard and fast. Gluttony stumbled back from the hit that did practically nothing.
"Was that supposed to hurt?" the demon scoffed. "I'm gonna turn you into ash if you fight like that!"
"I was making space," Raven said, drawing her hands into a diamond over her chest. "Ki Blast Cannon!" she barked, blasting him into the alleyway across the street with a yellow flash of burning chi. She turned to her friends, holding her hand out. "Just wait there."
She rushed across the busy street, hopping and flipping over cars before twirling into the alleyway to deliver a speedy spin kick to the mammoth's fat face. She crushed his thick rimmed glasses with a knee strike to the nose and flipped back with a kick to the chin, landing with her finger pointed right at his chest. "Dodonpa!" she exclaimed, firing her teacher's signature yellow beam of dense spiritual power.
Gluttony countered with a blast of his own dark energy, blundering forward and swiping with slow, sluggish, but heavy strikes. Raven dodged the last one just barely, watching a few dark strands of her hair fall off drained of nutrients and white. "Hey! Where'd you learn how to do that?"
Raven punched him in the gut, doubling him over from the force. "Father wouldn't be happy with me if I told you," she said, blowing him into the bricks with a hook to the jaw and blasting him in the face. The savagery continued, with Raven standing him up with a kick to the chin. She kicked him in the chest and send him tumbling into a brown dumpster, striking the black blood from his engorged lips and drawing her hands to her chest. "Ki Blast Cannon!"
Gluttony let out an inhuman screech as the flash burnt off chunks of skin, swiping forward desperately to get in any hit at all.
"Dodonpa!" she shouted again, this time piercing his elbow to drop his swinging arm. He looked into her hand and his jaw unhinged for one final scream as she fired, turning him into a large pile of black dust. She turned around, gesturing the other Titans over and fastened her hood.
"Three down, three to go," Cyborg said.
"Who's next, Rae?" Beast Boy asked.
The trio exited the alleyway, walking away from the battleground unscathed for once. "Envy," she said, "he's going to be a bit harder to take down without attracting attention like the last three, so we all need to be ready to fight our way out of whatever situation he drops us in. Envy always has an entourage."
A silence fell over them as they walked, simply decompressing from the stress and violence they've endured over the past few days and nights.
Beast Boy's attention was stolen by a tall tofu square sitting on a platter surrounded by spinach and drizzling with a spicy sauce that carried through the air and invited him over. "Hey, uh, guys?"
Cyborg and Raven looked at him quizzically.
"Can we stay for a couple minutes?" Beast Boy said with a bashful laugh. "I'm actually kinda hungry."