Dragon Ball Z: Dynasty
Written by: Feraligreater328 and StevenBodner
Edited by: StevenBodner and SparkerLightning
A/N: Sorry I'm late. Not going into too much detail...life sucks and depression is a bitch. Sorry if I disappointed anyone by breaking schedule. And, in addition to that, I wanted to make sure that one scene in this chapter went just right, so it took a little extra time to work out. I'm sorry. I'll do better in the future.
Chapter 95: Gohan's Birthday
Mt. Paozu, Goku and Chi-Chi's house, Gohan's room...
It was a peaceful morning up on Mt. Paozu. Twisting and turning in his bed as he slowly woke up Gohan's eyes cracked open. And the first thing he saw as his vision unblurred was the smiling face of his mother. Chi-Chi was leaned on the side of the bed, a peaceful smile on her face. Her hair hadn't even been properly done up yet. Gohan smiled and chuckled. "Hey, Mom~"
Chi-Chi smiled back. "Happy Birthday, my love. I just wanted to be here when you woke up so I could be the first person to say that~"
Gohan sat up in bed and he and his mother hugged. Chi-Chi's voice wavered a bit. "Where do the years go, Gohan? You've gotten so big..."
The boy chuckled. "Oh Mom, I-"
In an instant, Goku appeared in Gohan's room with two guests hanging onto him. Goku smiled. "Here we are, Dende!"
Dende smiled and let go of Goku's pants, running over and leaping into Gohan's bed. "Gohan!"
Gohan laughed as Dende tackled him over. "Hey Dende! It's good to see you again!"
Watching as the two kids played, Chi-Chi was a bit annoyed. She glared over at Goku for ruining the moment she was having with Gohan, but then smiled at the sight of her husband's cheery smile. She sighed. "Welcome to our home, Dende. We're happy to have you."
As the two boys laughed and began to talk, Chi-Chi turned to Goku and Mr. Popo. "Hello Mr. Popo."
He waved. "Hello."
Chi-Chi turned to Goku. "Okay. We need to set up for our guests, Goku. Call Raditz and get him to come and help you assemble the grill."
Goku saluted. "Yes ma'am!"
Chi-Chi began folding her hair into a brim and proper bun, using her evening shawl to wrap it up tight. "I'm not going to have any time to do it later, so I need to prepare a few bottles for Goten and Chika."
She turned and looked back at Gohan and Dende. "Speaking of, would you two mind going and waking the babies up?"
Gohan nodded. "Sure thing, Mom."
Dende smiled. "Oh! Earth babies! I helped raise up newborns back on Namek, I wonder if Earth babies are similar~"
The two boys hopped up and Gohan quickly began to change. "You're going to love them, Dende. And then, once we grab them, we'll go outside and wait for Krillin. He should be here anytime~"
Chi-Chi marched out of Gohan's door, pecking Goku on the cheek on her way out. Goku chuckled and then turned to Mr. Popo. "Come on, Mr. Popo! Let me get you a chair! You deserve to take a load off~"
Goku exited the room and Mr. Popo followed, a skip in his step as he did.
Meanwhile, in the guest room...
Future Goten woke up with a big yawn, a sense of peace, ease, and serenity filling him from head-to-toe. He brushed his newly sheared hair out of his face and looked at himself in the mirror across the room. "Heh...I look like Grandma Gine..."
Future Goten stretched and really took in his situation. This sense of calm was still quite odd to him, even a bit off-putting in some regards. But, finally having a chance to chill out and relax for the first time in ages was something that he quite enjoyed. Future Goten stood up and opened his curtains, staring out at the rolling hills of Mt. Paozu in the distance. "Man, look at it all..."
He took a deep breath and slowly let it out, a determined look in his eye. "A monster like Cell will never ruin this. I refuse to let that happen!"
And then, the sound of voices in the hallway caught Future Goten's attention. Moving quickly, he stripped out of his pajamas that Chi-Chi had given to him and got dressed up in some light clothes, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Future Goten opened the door and peered his head out, seeing Goku and Mr. Popo standing at the end of the hallway. Mr. Popo cocked his head. "Are you sure, Goku? It would be no trouble."
Goku shook his head. "Nope. Not a chance. You're not here to work, Mr. Popo. You're here to relax. Go frolic in the fields. Mt. Paozu has a lot of butterflies~"
Mr. Popo seemed a bit reluctant, but he eventually acquiesced. "I suppose finding some new butterflies to bring up to the Lookout would do my garden some good~"
Goku nodded. "Exactly."
Mr. Popo turned and began to walk away. Goku called after him. "Just remember, Mr. Popo, we're gonna start cooking the food around 2 or so. You might wanna make sure you get back in time. Lots of Saiyans are showing up!"
Once Popo was out of sight, Future Goten approached his father. "So... does Mr. Popo actually eat?"
Goku turned and looked at his older, younger son and shrugged. "I dunno...I was just trying to be a good host like Chi-Chi said..."
Future Goten nodded. "Ah. I see. Well...even if he doesn't eat, I sure hope Mr. Popo is able to find a way to relax. He seems to work non-stop on the Lookout."
Goku smiled. "Well, maybe he just needs some pointers. You've gotten pretty good at relaxing lately~"
Future Goten flinched, and then chuckled as he scratched the back of his head. "Well...I wouldn't say I'm any good at it. Just been shutting my brain off, ya know...?"
Another awkward chuckle. But Goku's smile was genuine. He placed his hand on Future Goten's and pulled him close into a hug. "I'm glad to see you in better spirits. Even if it was a few days ago... Happy Birthday, Goten~"
Future Goten nodded, placing his chin onto his father's shoulder and hugging him close. "Thanks, Dad..."
Outside, Goku and Chi-Chi's front lawn...
Gathered next to the house, around a large, shallow pit they had dug up, Goku, Future Goten, Ox-King, and Raditz were hard at work. The four of them stacked stones atop one another in the shape of a large square. Once that was done, the men worked together to quickly fill their new pit with chopped wood. Goku clapped his hands together. "Okay then, now..."
Raditz approached from behind with a massive metal grate. "...we put this on top..."
Ox-King chuckled and placed a metal sheet over half of the grate. "...and then we attach this part..."
Goku smirked. "And now, we just have to light it up~!"
Goku, Raditz, and Ox-King turned to Future Goten. Goku smiled. "Would you like to light the grill, son?"
Future Goten flinched, but then nodded. "Sure. Um...where's the lighter?"
Goku shook his head, wrapping his arm around Future Goten's shoulder. "No no. We don't use a lighter for this. We use our ki~"
Future Goten nodded again. "O-Okay..."
Goku pointed to the grill. "Now, it's a special process for this. We want the fire to be quality so that we can make sure the meat tastes good. So, to make a quality fire, we have to make sure the ki we use is of a good quality."
Future Goten crossed his arms. "Okay. How do we do that?"
Goku smiled. "Close your eyes."
Future Goten closed his eyes. "Okay."
Goku spoke again. "Now, just think of a good memory. Something that makes you feel happy."
Future Goten nodded. He thought through all of his memories of the past and eventually landed on just a few days ago, the memory of him and Goku leaving Chazke Village. He smiled. "Okay."
Goku finished. "Now, use that thought to generate the ki from within, and then fire a beam of it into the grill."
Future Goten focused, translating the positive emotions into a handful of energy. He opened his eyes and pointed that the grill, firing the beam between the slots in the grate and setting the wood ablaze. The flames within the grill spread, engulfing the wood, and sweet-smelling smoke began to curl out of the grill. Future Goten smiled. "Wow...that smells really good, actually."
Goku chuckled and pat Future Goten on the back. "Wait until you see how it tastes~"
Nearby, underneath a shady tree...
Gohan and Dende sat next to one another on the ground, Baby Goten and Baby Chika thrashing around on a blanket in front of them. Watching as the babies kicked, Dende smiled. "Earth babies are so small. By the time I was ten days old, I was already able to walk..."
Gohan smiled. "Yeah. Mr. Piccolo used to tease me about being feeble compared to him when he was four."
Dende tickled Baby Chika's tummy. "I don't think I could ever have called you feeble. Namekians just mature a lot more quickly."
As the two of them sat there and talked, the first of the guests started pouring in. Descending from the sky, two of them through flight and two of them on the back of Baby Gamera, were Krillin, Turtle, Master Roshi, and Oolong. As Roshi and Oolong both stumbled off of the back of Baby Gamera and vomited into the bushes, Krillin and the Turtle gently landed on the ground. Turtle smiled. "Thank you, Krillin. I hate being dizzy."
Krillin nodded. "Anytime, buddy."
Then, the monk turned and smiled at Gohan and Dende. "Sup guys? How's it going?"
Krillin sat down next to Dende and the two high-fived. The monk looked down at the babies and smiled. "Wow. Look at 'em kick. They're both so lively~"
Gohan chuckled and nodded. "Yeah, they sit still~"
Krillin looked down at his younger friend and chuckled. "Well, here's hoping they turn out like their big bro!"
The monk reached into his shirt and pulled out a wrapped parcel. "Happy Birthday, Gohan! From me, Master Roshi, Oolong, and Turtle~"
Gohan gasped, taking the parcel with a smile. "Oh! Thank you!"
Krillin and Dende both watched on as Gohan carefully undid the wrapping paper, pulling out the box within and popping it open. Gohan pulled the contents out and smiled as he held them up. It was an orange, Turtle School gi, a pair of orange trousers, and a pair of black, kung-fu sandals. Gohan looked at his new outfit. "Is this a genuine Turtle School training gi?!"
Krillin nodded. "Yep. Me and Master Roshi agreed that, even if you've never trained with us, you're just as much a member of the Turtle School as any of the rest of us are! We'd be happy to call you a fellow pupil!"
Gohan smiled a genuine kind of smile. "I'm touched, Krillin. Thank you."
Krillin chuckled and grabbed Gohan into a hug, which Gohan eagerly returned. "Anytime, buddy!"
Gohan called out. "Thank you too, Master Roshi! Oolong! Mr. Turtle!"
Master Roshi smiled over to Gohan and waved, before joining Goku, Ox-King, Raditz, and Future Goten around the grill.
Krillin separated from Gohan and sat back down. "So, you get anything else good for your birthday so far?"
Gohan smiled as he sat back down. "Well, my Mom and Dad are throwing this entire party for me, so I asked them to not bother with anything else. This all is more than enough. Grandpa Ox got me this..."
Gohan pulled out and showed off a brand-new Capsule Phone. He put that back into his pocket and then pulled out a small, plastic card. "The Goten from the Future said he isn't the best gift-giver, so he went and bought me an annual pass to the movie theater in Orange Star City~"
Krillin nodded. "Those all sound like good gifts."
Gohan smiled. "I certainly think they are. I hope everyone shows a bit of restrain. I don't want too much money being spent on me..."
Krillin looked past Gohan and grimaced. "I'd, uh, I'd brace yourself buddy..."
Gohan turned and he, Krillin, and Dende all looked into the sky at the approaching Capsule Plane. Gohan flinched. "Oh no... I didn't even think about what Bulma might do..."
The Capsule Plane didn't even fully touch down before the door slid open and Bulma rushed out, a giggle Baby Trunks held tightly in her arm. And, being swung around in Baby Trunks' grip, was a distressed Giru. "Giru Giru Giru! Make him stop! Please! Giru Giru Giru!"
Bulma ignored Giru's pleas and called over to the grill. "Hey, Goku! Where's Chi-Chi! I have something I wanna tell her!"
Goku pointed his thumb towards the house. "She's inside. Why, what's up?"
Bulma chuckled and pulled a key-fob out of her pocket. Pressing a button on it, the back shudder of her Capsule Plane rose up and hundreds upon hundreds of parcels came pouring out onto the ground. Bulma puffed out her chest. "I went nuts for Goten and Chika! Diapers, toys, bath-time stuff! The works~!"
Goku flinched. "Uh...I mean...thank you. But, ain't that a bit of overkill, Bulma?"
Bulma scowled. "Shut up! It's not overkill! I did the same thing for Trunks and Ranch when they were born!"
The scientist turned and began her march towards the house. On her way, however, she made a quick stop with Gohan. Bulma winked. "Happy Birthday, little man~"
Gohan smiled. "Th-Thanks Bulma~"
Bulma reached into her other pocket and pulled out a single envelope. Gently, she pressed it into Gohan's hand and kissed him on the forehead. "I hope you like it~"
And then, without another word, Bulma went sprinting away towards the house. As she disappeared into the doorframe, Gohan carefully opened the envelope and pulled the card out. He read what was written on it and smiled. But then, Gohan noticed a smaller piece of paper within the envelope. "What's th-"
Suddenly, Gohan's face went ghostly white. His hand trembled as he looked over the piece of paper again. It was a check written directly from Bulma's bank account. The memo on the check had a note that simply said "FOR COLLEGE~" and the signature line was signed with Bulma's full name: Bulma E. Briefs.
Seeing Gohan shocked speechless, Krillin and Dende both peered over his shoulders. Dende cocked his head in confusion, but Krillin's jaw dropped to the floor, his voice going high-pitched. "That's a lot of zeroes..."
This moment of utter, baffled shock was quickly broken up by three more approaching people. "Hey! Gohan!"
Gohan shook himself out of his shock and turned to seeing Future Trunks, Future Ranch, and Future Bulma approaching. They all happily smiled down at the boy; Future Ranch gripped tightly onto her new fiance's arm. Gohan nodded. "H-Hey Trunks! P-Please don't tell me you guys have a present for me too. B-Bulma just-"
Future Ranch cut him off. "Well duh! Of course, we have a present for you! What kind of friends would we be if we didn't?"
Future Bulma snickered. "You're just the same as ever, Gohan. Such a humble, little guy."
Future Trunks nodded. "But don't worry. I know that my mother probably went overboard for you just like she did for the babies. We're not going that extreme..."
The future teen reached into his jacket and pulled out his Capsule Case. Snapping it open, Trunks reached in and pulled out a single capsule, passing it to Gohan with a smile. "This belonged to you in the future. It only seems right that you have it now..."
Gohan was curious. He took the Capsule from Future Trunks and clicked the top. Tossing it to the ground next to him, the Capsule burst open and revealed a stunning sight: a custom-built Capsule Motorcycle. Gohan was taken aback. "G-Guys...this is..."
Future Bulma crossed her arms. "That was your hobby in our time. Whenever you weren't stressing out about the Androids, you would always find somewhere quiet and work on that bike. It's designed just like Ranch's guns are, meant to feed off of ki as a fuel source. I remember you always losing yourself in it. It was one of the few times you ever truly looked at peace back home..."
Gohan frowned. "A-Are you sure you want to part with it? It seems like such a cherished heirloom. Don't you wanna hold onto it to remember Future Me by...?"
Future Trunks shrugged. "We had a long discussion over the phone with Goten about it. The four of us all decided that, well, it was time to move on from the haunting memories of the past..."
Future Ranch smiled and looked down at her sparkling engagement ring. Her eyes were filled with love. "The future has the potential to be so radiant. Gohan would never want us to constantly relive bitter memories."
Future Bulma nodded. "And letting a nice bike like that rot inside of its Capsule is a special kind of evil. It would do better in your hands rather than just sit around and collect dust. Just ask me or Present Me if you ever need help fixing something with it~"
Gohan smiled, reducing the Capsule Bike back down and putting it into his pocket. "Thanks guys. I'll treasure it forever~"
Future Ranch let go of Future Trunks' arm, walking up to Gohan and picking him up into a hug. Future Trunks and Future Bulma both joined in as well. After a few moments, Future Ranch sighed. "Now then, not to just give a gift and split, but we actually need to go have a talk with our Goten. Right, Trunks?"
Future Trunks nodded. "Y-Yeah! We need to talk about that thing after the Cell Games tomorrow!"
Watching the two Future teens sprint off, Gohan looked confused. Future Bulma chuckled. "It must be so weird for a younger kid like you. But...well...you'll meet someone you wanna marry one day, then you'll understand just how frantic planning a wedding is~"
Gohan didn't have long to process that before Dr. Briefs and Panchy approached him. He turned and smiled. "Hello~"
Vegeta watched from behind the Capsule Ship as his in-laws gave Gohan their gift to him. Gohan awkwardly held a plate of freshly baked cookies as Panchy practically smothered him with grandma kisses. The Prince glared down at the box in his hand and his eyebrow twitched. He would never admit it, but he was actually a bit nervous. He had no clue how Gohan might react to what he had brought. Once Dr. Briefs and Panchy cleared out, Vegeta made his move.
Dende and Krillin both flinched as they saw the Prince approach, a wrapped parcel in his hands. Vegeta awkwardly glanced at Gohan out of the corner of his eye. Gohan put on a small smile. "H-Hey Vegeta..."
Vegeta grunted back. "Gohan."
An awkward silence. And then, Vegeta shoved the box into Gohan's arms. Gohan looked up at Vegeta, who tightly crossed his arms over his chest, and then opened the box. Within was a handmade badge with a strange symbol embossed onto it. Gohan looked up at Vegeta. "Uh...thank you..."
Vegeta still didn't look at Gohan. "That's the Saiyan Royal Crest. It's only given to warriors that the monarchy sees as worthy of standing alongside them in battle..."
Gohan looked down at the badge again. "I-I see...thanks Vege-"
And then, it dawned on Gohan. "Wait! Vegeta! Are you saying...?"
But Vegeta was already halfway across the yard. Gohan gripped the badge tightly and then smiled. "We're going to beat Cell tomorrow, Vegeta! Together!"
Vegeta stopped, almost turning around to face Gohan. But then, he saw Piccolo approaching from the distance and scowled as he continued to walk.
Dende frowned. "I feel bad. Had I known that gift-giving was such a big tradition for Earth celebrations, I would have brought something..."
Gohan quickly turned to his friend. "No! Don't be upset, Dende. It's fine, I-"
Piccolo quickly cut in. "We'll just say that my gift is from me, you, and Mr. Popo."
Gohan, Dende, and Krillin all turned to see Piccolo marching up to them, his cape blowing in the breeze. Piccolo held out his empty hand, concentrating and willing something into existence with Magic Materialization. "Here, Gohan. Happy Birthday."
Gohan smiled and thankfully nodded as he took the box from Piccolo. He pulled the top off and reached within, pulling out something that put a big smile on his face. It was a model Formula One car for him to build. "W-Wow! I can't believe you remembered that I like these, Mr. Piccolo. I've only ever talked about it a couple of times."
Piccolo's cheeks glowed purple and he cleared his throat. "Why wouldn't I remember something like that...?"
Krillin chuckled and slapped Piccolo on the back, much to the Namekian's annoyance. He laughed. "Aw, Piccolo! You're such a b-b-b..."
The monk's train of thought immediately ran off the rails as he looked over towards the Capsule Ship. As it turned out, Vegeta wasn't the last passenger aboard the vessel as, emerging from the side exit of the vessel, Android 16 and 17 appeared. And, sitting in wheelchair that was being pulled by 17, there was Android 18. The blonde-haired Android was radiant in her appearance, wearing a subtle amount of make-up and what appeared to be clothes she had borrowed from Bulma.
Krillin stammered, his face burning bright red and steam rising off of his scalp. Piccolo rolled his eyes. "You're embarrassing yourself..."
The monk whispered through gritted teeth. "Well excuse me. I had no idea she was awake...much less that she would be here..."
He quickly looked over his own appearance and shook his head. "Dammit. I look like crap. How could I ever think to try and talk to her like this..."
And then, without consulting anyone else, Krillin ran off to hide from Android 18's view. Gohan and Dende watched him flee with confusion. Piccolo rolled his eyes again. "Romance is so ridiculous..."
Over at the Capsule Ship...
17 leaned down. "Hey, you okay, Sis? I know that plane ride was a bit turbulent with all the mountain wind and such..."
18 shook her head. "I'm fine. This is just...too damned awkward..."
17 looked confused. "Oh, come on. These guys aren't so bad once you really get to know them. They're all good people..."
18 groaned. "You got to spend a year with a few of them. I've spent the entire time we've been 'friends' with them in a coma. And besides...no offense meant, by the way...was it really a smart idea to bring 16 here?"
17 shrugged. "I mean, it should be fine. Right, 16?"
16 looked stern and serious, his arms crossed over his chest. "Everything will go smoothly so long as I do not have to directly deal with-"
"Hey guys! Glad you could make it!"
17 flinched. "Oh crap."
18 sighed. "Told you."
Walking up to Androids, blissfully unaware, was Goku. He had a cheery smile on his face as he waved. "It's nice to see you guys actually came. We're happy to have you here! Welcome to my home~"
17 and 18 both nervously looked up at 16, who was rigidly locked in place. After a moment of silence, 18 grumbled and glared off into the distance. "You don't need to welcome us; we've been here before..."
17 chuckled. "Yeah. We kinda broke into your house, sorry about that. Abandoned our van here too. I blew it up cuz I was annoyed..."
Goku flinched. "That was you?!"
He leaned in and whispered. "L-Look. Keep that between us, okay? Chi-Chi was really mad when we came back and saw that someone trashed our yard..."
17 went wide-eyed for a moment, as if thinking. And then, he turned back to Goku. "Your wife is the scary one, right?"
Goku scratched his head. "That depends on what kind of scary you're talking about. Bulma and Launch can be just as terrifying if you make them angry..."
17 nodded. "Good point. We'll keep our mouths shut. Right, 18?"
18's chin was rest in her hand. She raised up her free hand and gave the least enthusiastic thumbs-up possible. Goku nodded. "Good."
And then, moving past Android 17 and Android 18, Goku addressed the red-headed elephant in the room. "Heya! Nice to finally meet you! You're Android 16, right?"
Goku extended his hand forward with a wide grin, offering Android 16 a handshake. 16 was trembling in place as he stared down at Goku. He was struggling against every instinct that was programmed into him. He gripped his fists so hard the structural components within them strained. He gritted his teeth so hard he could feel them cracking under the pressure. Within the poor, hulking Android's head, all of his thoughts faded into the background. His brain was on fire. A singular voice screamed louder and louder the longer Goku stood there, the voice of Dr. Gero. "KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU!"
16 swallowed a massive lump in his throat, he forced his gaze to shift away from Goku and stomp through a tightly clenched jaw. "H...E...L...L...O..."
Android 17 and Android 18 both looked with pity at their friend. The moment he managed to force out the most basic greeting he could manage, 16 turned on his heels and stomped away without another word. Goku frowned, turning back to 17 and 18. 17 sighed. "He's trying his best. Trust me..."
18 growled under her breath. "Gero might want you dead, but you're not the only person whose life he made considerably harder. Bastard couldn't even leave his own son at peace..."
And then, quickly changing the subject, Android 17 looked at all of the people already in attendance. "Man. Pretty big shindig you have going on here."
He pointed at Dende. "Even God showed up."
Goku chuckled. "Yeah, well I wanted all of my friends to show up~"
The word "friends" made 18 flinched. Goku continued. "It's too bad not every God we invited showed up. King Kai caught a cold, so he couldn't come..."
17 nodded. "And we're all staying the night?"
Goku smiled. "Yup. Tomorrow morning, we're all gonna head to the Cell Games together."
Some time passed...
As the day continued along, more and more people started showing up at the Son Family household. Yamcha, Suno, Eighter, and Puar all showed up in Yamcha's new Capsule Convertible. The two humans seemed to have grown close over their time together, much to the approval of their robotic and feline companions.
Tien and Chiaotzu showed up as well. The three-eyed warrior immediately marched across Goku's yard, walking up to Android 17 and giving his former training partner a firm, manly handshake.
Goku smiled wide at the sight of three of his oldest friends. "I'm proud of you guys! You all feel a whole lot stronger~"
He nudged Tien. "You especially, Tien. You might be able to beat Frieza, if he ever comes back."
Tien was a bit thrown off at first, but then he adopted a joking, boisterous grin. The three-eyed warrior flexed and the muscles on his arms bulged. "Are you kidding me? Frieza wouldn't dare come here if he ever came back to life! Not unless he was an utter fool."
Goku chuckled and sat down on the ground. "Shouldn't be long before Chi-Chi's ready. Pumping milk for the babies usually takes her a little while, but she should nearly be done."
"Well, worry not, boys! Chi-Chi might be busy, but I'm ready to cook!"
Everyone turned to see Blue Launch walking up the path, Baby Ranch kicking and waving her arms from her chest carrier. Tien saw what Blue Launch was carrying, a big green bowl topped with plastic wrap and filled with ground beef. He smirked. "Oh, is Blondy making her Diablo Burgers?"
Blue Launch chuckled and then reached into her pocket, pulling out a packet of pepper opening it before taking a deep sniff. Her nose twitched and then, one sneeze later, Blue Launch was gone and Blonde Launch was wide awake. "Hell yeah! I'm makin' the Diablo Burgers! There's a grill here, ain't there?"
The blonde she-devil pulled her chest carrier off and handed it to Chiaotzu. "Make yourself useful, shorty!"
Chiaotzu nodded. "Y-Yes ma'am!"
As Launch stepped up to the grill, Tien sighed. "It'll be nice to eat your food again, Launch. I must admit that I've missed it."
Blonde Launch rolled her eyes. "Pfft. Don't start that shit now. You had your chance, stud. I'm taken."
Tien flinched, his face turning red. "N-No! I wasn't-"
Blonde Launch rolled her eyes, "Dude, calm down. I was joking."
Tien nodded. "Oh. Right."
Blonde Launch chuckled. She kissed her fist and jokingly punched Tien in the jaw. "You ain't gotta be so jumpy. I know you wouldn't hit on a married woman. And, even if you did, I'd just get my hubby to kick your ass! Ain't that right, Raditz?!"
Raditz quickly responded. "Leave me out of this!"
Beyond that, the party continued on in earnest. Yamcha and his group eagerly gave Gohan their birthday present to him: a baseball bat with his initials carved into it. Tien and Chiaotzu gave him a special, secret blend of incense exclusively known by members of the Crane School to help in ki-based meditation. Blonde Launch even took a break from flipping burgers on the grill to give Gohan a laptop from her, Raditz, and Ranch.
After that, Korin and Yajirobe arrived with gifts of Senzu Supplements and a Korin Plush. And following them shortly after were Mr. Lao, Kooky, and Lime. Kooky and Lime eagerly presented Gohan with a special cupcake that they had made for him.
As everyone gathered around the grill and Launch started to hand out Diablo Burgers to people, Yamcha spoke up. "So, what the hell happened in the western mountain range? It looks like a ton of TNT went off!"
Raditz immediately pointed to Goku. "It was him. He's been practicing some new technique that he thinks can beat Cell."
Everyone was stunned to suddenly hear something so concrete after Goku had spent so long avoiding the subject of how he was going to beat Cell. Vegeta glared over at Goku. "So, Kakarot? Have you perfected it yet?"
Goku shrugged. "I mean...I can definitely pull off the technique. But...still not sure it'll be able to kill Cell..."
As that rather heavy conversation went one above them, the babies all played around on the ground. Baby Trunks, Baby Ranch, Baby Goten, and Baby Chika all kicked and thrashed about, the two older infants moving around their younger peers as needed. The four of them, all half-Saiyans with enhanced strength for babies, were making their own fun by harshly smacking a ball back and forth to one another. The one thing that was amiss, however, was that the ball was screaming in terror and begging for help. "Giru Giru Giru! Please stop!"
Baby Trunks giggled as he slapped Giru towards Baby Ranch. Baby Ranch squealed in joy and slapped him towards Baby Chika. Baby Chika slapped him with the back of her hand towards Baby Goten. And Baby Goten's tail twitched and smacked Giru to the ground. Giru bounced against the ground and laid still. Shakily, he pushed himself up, only to see four demon infants looming over him. Beads of coolant ran down Giru's face and he cried out. "No! No more! I cannot deal with this!"
Fearful, Giru retracted his legs into his body and sped off into the sky. "Must flee! Must flee! Must flee!"
"Oh no you don't!"
Bulma burst out from Goku's house and pointed her key-fob right at the fleeing Giru. She pressed the red button on it and, immediately, all of Giru's systems were disabled. The round robot fell from the sky and collided into the ground several yards across Goku's yard. Bulma sighed. "That was close. The Dragon Radar nearly got away..."
Her gaze snapped over to the crowd of people eating and she shouted. "Vegeta!"
Vegeta's mouth was half-full of Diablo Burger. "What?!"
Bulma pointed in the distance. "Get the damned robot!"
Vegeta was incredulous. "You get the damned robot!"
Bulma sneered back. "No! You get the damned robot!"
Vegeta growled. "Why should I get the damned robot?!"
Bulma smacked her hand against the wall. "You let him eat my Dragon Radar!"
Vegeta seethed. "Raditz let him eat your Dragon Radar!"
Bulma countered. "Well, I'm not married to Raditz! So, get the damned robot!"
Vegeta finished his burger in one bite. "Fine! Whatever! I'll get the damned robot!"
As he stomped away, Vegeta grabbed Piccolo by his cape and gave it a yank. "Namekian! Come with me to get the damned robot!"
Piccolo was nearly pulled over. He snatched his cape away from Vegeta, but continued to follow. "Why is it my problem to get the damned robot?!"
Vegeta and Piccolo both marched out into the outer reaches of Goku's yard, Piccolo growling under his breath as he de-wrinkled his cape. "I don't know why in the hell I'm even following you. I hate you."
Vegeta rolled his eyes. "The feeling is mutual, green man."
But then, a wry little smirk spread across Vegeta's lips. He reached into the pocket opposite of Piccolo a dug around, feeling a certain object within. Pulling it out, Vegeta chuckled. "Hey, Namekian...do you eat breakfast cereal?"
Piccolo sneered. "I don't typically eat in general. Why?"
Vegeta held up the King Piccolo squeezy toy. "Oh, that's a shame. I would assume you'd want to know what they've done to your father. So much for the revered Demon King, am I right?"
Piccolo reached over and grabbed the King Piccolo toy, squeezing it and flinching as an egg erupted from its mouth. Vegeta grinned from ear-to-ear. "Aw~ Are we upset?"
But then, to Vegeta's shock, Piccolo didn't react to the King Piccolo cereal toy with utter revulsion. Rather, the Namekian laughed out loud as he squeezed the toy again and again. Vegeta looked genuinely annoyed. "Wh-Why are you laughing?!"
Piccolo chuckled. "I hate my dad more than I hate you. My dad might be the single person I hate more than you. So, this is just hilarious..."
Piccolo paused to think for a moment. And then he shot a wry smirk of his own at Vegeta. "Wait... I understand now. You were trying to upset me, weren't you?! You wanted to get me riled up and pissed off~"
Vegeta snarled and glared away. Piccolo chuckled. "Oh. That's adorable. Nice try, jackass!"
Piccolo immediately stopped following along, turning and walking the opposite way. "I'm keeping this, by the way. Thanks, Vegeta!"
Vegeta was flustered. "Wha?! Hey?! My toy!"
Giru crawled over, grabbing Vegeta by the pants leg. "Giru...Giru..."
Vegeta kicked Giru in frustration, launching the little bot over the treeline. "GODDAMMIT!"
Giru cried out as he flew over the trees. "GIRU!"
Vegeta grimaced and face-palmed. "And, I kicked the damned robot even further away. Shit..."
A few minutes later...
Vegeta returned holding the disoriented Giru in one hand. He tossed the battered bot back to the babies, much to Giru's dismay, and then plopped back down in his chair. "Ugh..."
Raditz looked down at the horrific display of robot abuse and cocked his head. "Uh...wait a minute. That thing had a ton of weapons. Why are we letting the babies play with it?"
Bulma smirked. "It's fine. I disabled all of his weapon systems. All he can do is talk and move. And if he gets too riled up, I can just disable him. Also, watch this~"
The scientist reached down and grabbed Giru out of Baby Trunks' hands. She bonked him on the top of the head with her fist and a panel on his back popped open. And, nestled within that slot, was the screen for the Dragon Radar. Bulma chuckled. "All it took was a few threats and he 'remembered' that he could access any tech he's ingested. So, the Dragon Radar is still functional. It's just trapped inside a little helper bot now~"
Bulma chuckled and threw Giru back to the infant wolves. As the robot cried out in terror, she smiled. "He's plenty durable too. So, he can keep the babies busy and entertained with no issue~"
The scientist glanced down into Giru's personal Hell and she watched as Baby Ranch rolled the poor robot to Baby Chika. Bulma sighed. "That would be nice..."
Bulma flinched as a sharp pain ached in her stomach. "Damn...spent too long bent over the footboard..."
Goku popped up next to her. "What's a footboard?"
Bulma flinched and cried out. "Uh...I..uh...I didn't say footboard! I said I'm...feelin' bored...yeah..."
She cleared her throat. "Feeling hungry again too. The burgers were good and all, but I came out here for some of Chi-Chi's heartier cooking. Is she going to start cooking soon?"
Goku chucked and scratched the back of his head, sitting back down between Piccolo and Tien. "Yeah, sorry about that everyone. Chi-Chi, Launch, and Kooky are prepping stuff inside the house. But we're still waiting on two more people~"
Yamcha looked around. "Oh yeah! I thought two people were missing. Where are those parents of yours anyway, Goku?"
Goku and Raditz both went to answer Yamcha's question, but were quickly cut off by the sound of a semi-truck horn blaring all across the mountain. Everyone turned to see a big rig, with no trailer attached, pulling up the road. It came to a screeching halt as it pulled in behind Bulma's airship and the brakes let loose a loud hiss. The door kicked open hard enough to make the hinges audibly strain, and a familiar face leapt out holding two giant coolers over his shoulders. "WHAT'S UP, PISSANTS?! DIDJA MISS ME?!"
Everyone cheered out, all of them shouting their greetings as Bardock stepped forward. The older Saiyan smirked and tossed one cooler to the ground, the top popped open and it was revealed to be full of ice, sodas, and beer. Bardock popped open the other cooler and reached in, grabbing several frosty bottles between his fingers. "This party looks lamer than shit! Let's get things going, people!"
Bardock tossed drinks to everyone in attendance. Nearly everyone eagerly accepted one of the more adult beverages, except for Tien and Chiaotzu who both took a soda as well as Piccolo and Dende who thankfully accepted a mineral water. Bardock pulled out two bottles and thrusted them to 17 and 18. "You brats are old enough to drink, right?"
17 shrugged as he took his. "Probably."
18's was already half gone. "Who cares?"
Bardock sat down between Bulma and Piccolo and tried to offer her one. Bulma waved him off. "Nah. Sorry. Stomach isn't feeling right..."
A bottle of ginger ale came over Bulma's left shoulder. She turned to see a smiling Gine. "If your stomach isn't feeling well, this might be better."
Bulma smiled. "Thanks, Gine~"
Gine moved into the crowd, sitting between Yamcha and Raditz. "So, how has everyone been? Feels like we've been waiting for the Cell Games forever..."
Raditz sighed. "Waiting in anticipation, I suppose. Trunks and Ranch got engaged, so that's something."
Gine gasped, looking around for the Future Trio and Future Bulma. "Where are they?! I wanna congratulate them!"
Gohan pointed off to the far side of the house. "They're back there. They said they wanted to talk to Goten about something."
Gine nodded, grabbing a beer for herself out of the cooler and lounging back in her chair. "Well, it's nice to finally relax. We got all of the deliveries done so, I guess we can take it easy until tomorrow..."
She smiled at Gohan. "Happy Birthday, by the way. Love you, Gohan~"
Gohan smiled wide. "Love you too, Grandma~"
Bardock leaned over, wrapping his arm around Gohan's shoulder. "Yeah, it is your birthday, ain't it?"
Gohan nodded. "Yep. I'm turning 10. But I guess I'm technically 11 due to the Time Chamber."
Bardock nodded. "Cool. Wanna beer?"
Gohan flinched. "I, uh..."
Bardock smirked. "Come on~ 11 is basically 21, ain't it?"
As the older Saiyan jokingly offered a drink to his grandson, a massive hand came and smacked him on the back of the head. "Sorry for hitting your husband, Gine."
Gine shrugged. "He was being dumb, you're fine."
Chi-Chi reached down and took the offered beer from Bardock's hand, popping the top with her thumb and placing a huge tray of seasoned meat on the edge of the grill. She took a long swig of the drink and sighed. "Ah~ Thank Dende I'm not pregnant anymore..."
Dende flinched, looking confused. "Y-You're...welcome...?"
Blonde Launch and Kooky both stepped up to the grill alongside Chi-Chi and, working like a flash, the three women began to toss various meats and vegetables onto the grill. The delicious smell was immediately overwhelming and threatened to knock most of the Saiyans out of their seats. Wiping her forehead from the heat, Chi-Chi took a large backpack off of her shoulder and tossed it to Gine. "Hey Gine, that's the twins' diaper bag! Would you kindly feed them for me?"
Gine set her drink to the side and reached into the bag, pulling out two premade bottles of breast milk. "Sure thing~"
Bulma sighed, pulling out and Capsule and opening it to reveal baby supplies. "I should probably feed Trunks too."
Blonde Launch turned her head. "Hey Raditz-"
Raditz was already picking Baby Ranch up, pulling a bottle out of a nearby diaper bag. "Already on it, honey."
Bardock leaned back into his seat, smiling as he watched his various grandchildren being fed. As he scanned around, eventually, his and Goku's eyes met. The older Saiyan glared at his younger son and Goku stared back. Goku sighed and scratched the back of his head. "A-Are we cool? I mean...I know with the future vision and what I told you..."
Bardock sighed and shrugged. "Look, Kakarot, I don't want to spend our last day to relax being pissy. We had a disagreement. It's fine. We'll just have to...see how tomorrow shakes out, okay?"
Goku nodded, still looking kind of guilty. "O-Okay..."
The air seemed tense. But, that tense feeling only lasted a brief moment. As Bardock was quickly bombarded by three drunken messes tackling into him at once. Mr. Lao laughed. "Well well, I finally get to meet that Goku's dad! You seem like a fellow old fart!"
Ox-King chuckled. "He is, he is! But Bardock can be a lot of fun too~"
Master Roshi cackled. "Turn that frown upside-down, Bardock! We're here to party, not pout!"
Everyone laughed as the three, drunken geezers knocked Bardock off of his chair. Bardock looked annoyed at first, but then he chuckled. "Fine! Fine! Get offa me and hand me a goddamned beer!"
On the far side of Goku's house...
The Future Trio and Future Bulma all turned their heads as they heard a massive racket emanating from over by the grill. Future Ranch smirked. "We need to hurry along; they're having fun without us~"
Future Trunks chuckled. "Yeah..."
Future Goten smiled, laughing to himself. "Well, guys...I guess I don't have any option but to say yes. I'd...I'd be happy to be your best man, Trunks~"
Future Trunks smiled wide, giving an excited fist-pump. Future Ranch looked quite happy as well, jumping into Future Trunks' arms with a delighted squeal. Future Goten watched the two of them celebrating with a genuine smile. And then he sighed and lamented to himself. "I'm gonna be alone forever. Heh~"
Future Bulma rolled her eyes. "I swear. You're as bad as your father sometimes..."
Future Goten turned to her. "Wh-What do you mean?"
Future Bulma smirked and began to walk in the direction of the party. "I'm not going to spell it out for you, Goten. But, Mai might~"
Future Goten blinked a couple of times. He didn't really get what Future Bulma meant, but that didn't really bother him at the moment. His heart was still light from the very concept that he might be allowed to do something as special, yet mundane, as be the best man as his friends' wedding. Even a few days prior, this all would have seemed like little more than a meaningless fantasy. But now...life was actually good.
Future Goten watched as Future Bulma hooked her arms over Future Trunks and Future Ranch's necks. She cheered in a delightfully relaxed tone. "Come on, guys! It sounds like Bardock is here with the drinks. We can't just sit back and let all the beer get drunk up without us~"
She turned and smiled. "You coming, Goten?"
Future Goten started to stand, but then he remembered one last thing. Sitting back down, the boy had an ashamed look on his face. "Actually, before all of that...Ranch..."
Future Ranch nodded. "Sup?"
Future Goten looked up at her. "Would you mind grabbing your mom and dad and bringing them back here? I... have something I wanna say..."
Back over by the grill...
As Chi-Chi, Blonde Launch, and Kooky slaved over the hot grill, turning meat and making sure nothing burned, Chi-Chi suddenly felt a slimy chill run up her spine. Turning around, she glared around and her gaze immediately fell upon Master Roshi and Oolong staring directly as her butt. Master Roshi chuckled. "Hey hey! Don't ruin the view!"
He smiled wide and cackled. "Then again...two boobies are better than one butt~ So maybe it'd be nice to have you turn around for a minute. Heheheh~!"
Oolong was instantly shivering in fear. "Uh...Roshi..."
Roshi glared at him. "What is it, pig?! I'm bu-"
A single leg, like a steel whip, shot through the air and connected with both Master Roshi and Oolong's jaws. In a single blow, the two perverts were sent flying and crashing through one of the windows on the front of the house, shattering it instantly. Chi-Chi snarled as she went back to cooking. "And you're paying for my damned window too, Roshi!"
But, as Chi-Chi returned to the task at hand, she was suddenly called away from it again for a much different reason. Hearing the sound of Chika crying, the mother turned around and her furious gaze fell on a different person entirely. Krillin, pulling his hands away from his face and releasing the funny face he was making, quickly began to apologize. "I'm sorry, Chika! Please don't cry! I-"
A cold chill ran up Krillin's spine. He turned around and cowered in fear at the sight of Chi-Chi looming over him. He flinched at the sight of a vein popping out of her forehead and stammered. "I-I-I-I-I'm-"
In a flash, Krillin was sent flying through the air and into the broken window, crashing into the recovering Roshi and Oolong and knocking them all to the ground.
As that raucous display was going on, Vegeta and Raditz both stood next to one another. Each of them had a plate of food in their hands and they were both staring down at Baby Trunks and Baby Ranch. They both appeared to be deep in thought, watching as their infants played very closely together. But then, the two of them looked up and saw Future Trunks and Future Ranch lovingly hanging onto one another. Raditz smiled. "You know...I don't think I'd mind being your brother-in-law, so long as it makes Ranch happy..."
Vegeta sighed and scratched the back of his head. "Fate is fate, I suppose...Trunks is still going to be stronger, though."
Raditz rolled his eyes. "Hardly."
Vegeta glared over at Raditz, but then his gaze fell down to Raditz's plate. "You appear to have an unwanted guest..."
Raditz smiled and sighed, not even looking at Goku's hand blindly fished around his plate for a piece of grilled chicken. "Oh, I know~"
And then, without a moment's hesitation, Raditz spun on his heel and roundhouse kicked Goku in the face, sending him flying into the broken window and smashing into the recovering Roshi, Oolong, and Krillin and knocking them all to the ground.
Watching this happen, Yamcha nodded. He pulled Puar off of his shoulder and set his beer down. Suno looked confused. "What's wrong, Yamcha?"
Yamcha shrugged. "Nothing much. I just know a trend when I see one."
And then, without another word, Yamcha punched himself in the jaw and went flying back into the window, bowling over the recovering Goku, Krillin, Roshi, and Oolong. Everyone was confused at first, watching as Yamcha did what he did. But then, the humor set in and everyone burst out in wild laughter.
As everyone laughed, Future Trunks, Future Ranch, and Future Bulma merged into the group. Future Bulma and Future Trunks both grabbed a drink from the cooler, take a seat amongst the rest of the party-goers and joining in on their fun. Future Ranch, however, walked up to her father and nudged him. Raditz turned to her and Future Ranch whispered into his ear.
Immediately after, Future Ranch walked up to the grill and tapped her mother on the shoulder. Blonde Launch turned and smiled. "Well, if it ain't the blushin'-bride-to-be! Wassup?"
Future Ranch whispered into her ear. Blonde Launch seemed confused at first, but then she immediately nodded. Handing her tongs to Kooky, Blonde Launch followed Future Ranch, and Raditz followed behind them. And, as a group, the three of them walked towards the far-side of Goku's house.
As they walked off, Dende watched with vested interest as the entire Turtle School dragged themselves out of Goku's broken window. Even with what seemed like several conflicts, they had nothing but smiles and laughter to share. The little Guardian looked around and observed the same from everyone at the party. Even stoic types like Piccolo and Vegeta couldn't help but crack a smile at the horseplay having taken place before them.
Dende watched as Krillin collected himself, and then immediately turned bright red at the sight of Android 18 rolling off in her wheelchair. He watched as Goku leaned over and, despite not having the best grasp on romance, whispered small encouragements to his best friend. And then he watched as everyone else gave Krillin encouragement and praise, pushing him to follow along after 18. Dende bowed his head and looked at his reflection in the bottle of water he was holding. "This planet is so lively and full of kindness...I don't know how I'll ever watch over it as a wise Namekian like Sumari did..."
Gohan gave Dende a reassuring pat on the back. "You just have to give it all you've got Dende. We all believe in you~"
Lime scooted next to Dende with a smile on her face. "You're going to do just fine, little green guy~"
Mr. Popo chuckled. "I cannot help but agree, Dende. You have the air of a truly caring person. The Earth is lucky to have gained such a dedicated young man as you~"
Dende adopted a little smile, his hands gripping on his overshirt. "I sure hope that I am able to live up to everyone's expectations~"
Over near the edge of the forest...
Krillin peered out from behind a tree and stared into the forest clearing at Android 18. The female Android had been quiet for most of the party, only really reacting when someone spoke directly to her. Now that she thought she was alone, 18 threw her head back and leaned back in her wheelchair, letting loose a long, sighing groan. Krillin watched as 18 just sat there, plate of food in her lap and drink sitting on a stump next to her. He swallowed a lump in his throat. "Th-This is nuts...how do I even begin to talk to her...?"
Android 17 leaned onto the tree next to Krillin with an unimpressed scowl on his face. "Sup Tommy? How's the peeping?"
Krillin yelped. "17?!"
17 shook his head. "Spying on my older sister in her private moments? Shame."
Krillin immediately got defensive. "N-No! I-I swear I wasn't! I mean...I-I mean..."
17 sighed and rolled his eyes. "Dude. Relax. I'm just yanking your chain. I know you aren't that type of guy."
Krillin flinched. "O-Oh..."
17 smirked. "Yeah. I can't really get drunk, neither can 18. The stuff Gero did to us prevents alcohol from ever taking full effect. But we can both still get buzzed. So, I'm feeling a little bit unleashed, ya know?"
Krillin nodded, returning his gaze toward 18. "Right. I get it..."
17 watched him for a minute and then spoke up. "Why not just go talk to her, man?"
Krillin shivered. "I... I mean...it's not like she would have any interest in a guy like me, ya know? I just...I'm worried I might put her off if I tried..."
17 cocked his head. "She...took a stinger through the heart for you. The visual metaphor couldn't stick out more if it was trying to, man..."
Krillin's eyes hit the floor. "I mean...I always just assumed that was her true nature shining through. I... I was pretty sure, by that point, that you two were both really good people deep down. I had always just thought she was being a good person..."
17 crossed his arms over his chest, looking up into the sky. "Listen, Krillin. You are just...way too good of a guy to have such little confidence in yourself. You put your ass on the line for all of us. And 18 knows that..."
Krillin looked up at the raven-haired Android. 17 smiled. "And, while I'm not saying that means my sister owes you anything, I am saying I know her well enough to be able to tell how she feels about someone. 18's not a blushing, romantic type...but it's easy to look at her face and see when she actually loves someone..."
17 reached into his pockets, pulling out two cold drinks. "She looks pretty thirsty. That bottle she has with her is almost empty. So, why don't you go and be the gentleman everyone knows you are and offer her something to drink."
Krillin took the bottles with a small smile. "Thanks, 17..."
17 leaned down and put his hand on Krillin's shoulder. "Don't mention it. Just do me a solid and convince her to enjoy herself. She's not going to come out of her shell on her own and me asking her to isn't going to make her."
Krillin nodded and turned, his face instantly glowing red at the sight of the tender beams of sunlight cascading down onto 18. "I-I'll try..."
Back with the party...
Giru fearfully peered out from behind the threshold leading into Goku's house. The little robot was scared that his tormentors were looking for him. To the robot's surprise, however, his infantile abusers were not on the ground, but in the air. Their bodies were surrounded by some kind of glowing energy and they were all laughing and shrieking with utter delight. Giru was unsure of what was going on, but then he got his answer when a few cans were thrown in his direction.
He looked up and his single, red eye focused on Tien and Chiaotzu. Chiaotzu's eyes were glowing the same color as the energy surrounding the babies and his index finger seemed to be lazily directing them around in the air. Giru was frozen in place, unsure of what to make of this. But then, Tien picked up a fourth can and tossed it his way. The three-eyed warrior shot Giru a thumbs-up and Chiaotzu winked and shot him an okay sign. Giru, nearly moved to tears, thankfully bowed to the two and then picked up one of the metal cans, finally finding some enjoyment of his own as he voraciously chowed down.
Tien chuckled to himself and went back to his own plate, picking up a piece of chicken and biting into it. Chiaotzu sighed. "Isn't it nice to just be able to relax like this, Tien? Together with our friends without a care in the world..."
The three-eyed warrior nodded. "It truly is. We...we need to make it a habit to spend more time alongside them. Life is too short to spend it in our solitude..."
Chi-Chi walked up to the two of them with a tray, placing a vegetable skewer on Tien's plate and handing Chiaotzu a plate with a perfectly cooked steak on it. "There's plenty more if you two are still hungry. Just walk on up and grab what you want~"
Chiaotzu nodded. "Thank you, Chi-Chi~"
Chi-Chi nodded and smiled as she walked back to the grill. Chiaotzu sighed. "Okay, kids. I have to stop for a few minutes to eat~"
Chiaotzu motioned with his finger and the babies all gently descended to the ground. As they did, Giru began to freak out, knowing that his doom would soon be back upon him. But, luckily for the round robot, Puar and Eighter eagerly jumped into the fray. Eighter gently scooped up Goten and Chika and cradled them close. "Hello, little friends~"
Puar, meanwhile, transformed into a walking teddy bear and began to dance for Trunks and Ranch. The two babies laughed at the silly display before them, clapping their hands and squealing in delight. Giru breathed a sigh of relief, and then Yajirobe stepped up behind him, opening the door leading into Goku's house. "Just go hide in here, man. The kids'll never find you in there."
Giru looked up at Yajirobe and the overweight ronin smirked. Giru bowed to him. "Bless you. Giru Giru Giru."
Meanwhile, watching as Eighter and Puar played with the kids, Suno was rather tense. "H-Hey! You two be careful over there! Babies are fragile!"
Sitting with Bulma, Chi-Chi, and Kooky, Suno was very confused when they all began to chuckle. "Wh-What's so funny? I just...I don't want the babies to get hurt!"
Bulma sighed. "Suno, it's fine. Trust me. Saiyan babies are more durable than they look."
Suno flinched, thinking back and remembering how she found Goku in a frozen plane wreck when he was only a kid. She nodded. "I guess they are, huh...?"
The scientist snickered. "Yeah. They really are. While I was babysitting Ranch, she was crawling around the house, not paying attention and ran face-first into a wall. I was pretty worried...until Ranch got angry at the wall and put her fist through it~"
Bulma smiled. "And a few months later, Trunks was throwing his toys around the room and put one of his blocks through a window..."
Suno nodded. "R-Right. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be such a worrywart..."
Chi-Chi shrugged as she flipped a steak. "I don't mind, Suno. I've pretty much made up my mind that you're Goten and Chika's godmother. So, it's nice to see you care so much about them."
Suno blushed. "You really plan to make me their godmother...? Wouldn't it be better to just make Bulma their godmother like she is with Gohan? I mean..."
Chi-Chi smiled. "No. I'm positive I want it to be you. You're basically part of our big, happy family now. And you did help me give birth to them, after all~"
Under a nearby tree...
Bardock sat in the shade and watched as the party went on. From the women sharing various stories about their kids, to Vegeta and Gine smashing open a watermelon to eat, to Goku, Yamcha, Roshi, and Korin enjoying some fish together, everything seemed super peaceful and super relaxed. As he sat there, however, Bardock was soon joined by another guest. The older Saiyan turned and looked as someone sat next to him. "Hey Piccolo."
Piccolo nodded. "Bardock."
A moment of silence. Bardock spoke again. "So, what's up? Just wanted some shade?"
Piccolo nodded. "Yes. But...beyond that..."
He glared over at Bardock. "Do I even want to know what you and Goku were talking about earlier?"
Bardock appeared to think about this for a moment. Eventually, he sighed. "Honestly, you'd probably have a better time if you just chalked that up to a father-son disagreement and let it lie. Kakarot and I had a disagreement in the Time Chamber. We haven't really spoken since then. And now I come back and, from what I've heard from everyone else, he seems to have switched gears from what he told me..."
The older Saiyan leaned back and closed his eyes. "And, if I'm being real with you, I'm scared to take my bandana off and have a look into the future. Scared because I'm afraid I might see the future working out how I saw it before. And... scared because I might see something worse..."
Piccolo nodded. "I see."
Bardock sighed. "Yeah. And you would know better than anyone, I think...it's best not to invoke a demon's name, lest you summon it into your life..."
Back over with the party...
Goku chuckled to himself as Korin began to drunkenly sing the Soft Kitty song. He quickly finished the last piece of grilled fish on his plate and then looked around. He saw Gohan was hanging out with Lime and Dende. He hadn't seen Future Goten in a while, but he figured this his teenage son was fine. Chi-Chi was by the grill, throwing more meat to sizzle on the flames. With those three accounted for, that only left two family members left. If had been a couple hours since their bottles, so it was probably about time for Chika and Goten to "do their duty", so to speak. "Let's see...last I saw those two...Eighter was holdin' them. So where...?"
Looking around, Goku did eventually spot Eighter. "Oh~ That makes sense~"
And so, Goku turned away from the party and began to march right towards Eighter...as well as Android 16, who was sitting right next to him.
Meanwhile, on the far side of Goku's house...
Raditz, Blonde Launch, and Future Ranch all stared with a mixture of sadness and pity at the display in front of them. Kneeling before them, his forehead pressed to the ground, was Future Goten. The future teen was shaking, struggling to even take a deep breath. But, in a showing a true strength, he did eventually manage to speak. "I am so, so sorry...to all of you..."
It was clear that Future Goten was very near tears as he spoke. "Uncle Raditz and Aunt Launch...I lied to the both of you. I made you think that...you had a son...I took your emotions and I toyed with them out of my own selfishness..."
His hands gripped against the ground. "And Ranch...I stole away all of that time you could have spent with your Dad. I robbed you of a chance that you had been looking forward to since we first came to the past..."
His voice was shaky. "I-I know that what I've done is u-unforgiveable...evil, even...but...here I am, shamefully hoping that you'll forgive me for what I've done..."
A long silence. Future Goten squeezed his eyes shut and waited for the yelling to start. He had already gotten lucky with Goku being so forgiving, but he was sure that he wouldn't be able to escape his due punishment twice. But then, to Future Goten's shock, Raditz spoke. "This is all so unnecessary..."
Sitting up like a bolt, Future Goten's eyes fixed upon not the looks of scorn he was expecting...but eyes and smiles full of genuine compassion. Before he could say a word, Future Ranch ran up to him and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. "Don't be silly, dude. Stole? I gave you that time. Because I care about you and didn't want you to be hurt..."
Blonde Launch stepped up as well, kneeling next to Future Goten and planting a kiss on the side of his face. "You ain't evil, Goten. You're just a kid that needed to be reminded of the good in the world. That's all. We don't have to forgive you, cuz there ain't nothin' to forgive..."
Finally, Raditz stepped up. He kneeled in front of Future Goten and placed his hand on the boy's shoulder. Raditz glanced down to the ground, trying to drum up the proper words to say. Eventually, he looked Future Goten in the eyes and smiled. "So, Launch and I never had a biological son in the future. That's fine. That can be fixed here in the present...but that doesn't mean we don't have a future son..."
Future Goten gasped, tears building in his eyes. Raditz gently smiled and began to roll up his sleeve. "Even if we don't have a son in the future...we'll both always have our Daikon."
Raditz gripped his hand around the tension band on his arm. "I don't care if you're Kakarot's kid. For that year in the Time Chamber, you were my son. And nothing will ever change that. To be honest, I kind of owe you an apology..."
Future Goten shook his head. "N-No. Wh-What do you have to apologize for...?"
Raditz offered the tension band forward. "Your birthday was a few days ago and I didn't get you anything. So, it's not much...but I hope this will do."
Future Goten raised his hand and shakily grabbed the band from Raditz. Raditz smiled and piled into the family hug. "No matter what, even when you go back into the future, I want you to always remember that I love you, Goten. Just as much as I love either of my Ranches. Okay?"
Future Goten didn't speak, instead collapsing his face into Raditz's shoulder. He made no noise, but Future Goten shook like a leaf as Raditz, Launch, and Future Ranch all held him close.
Over in the forest clearing...
Android 18 had managed to zone out. She stared up as the shifting leaves of the trees above and felt the anxieties and stress of her life slowly drifting away. Thinking introspectively, the blonde Android considered everything that had happened to her over the past few days. In such a short time, she had gone from having no one but her brother to having not only 16, but so many other people saying she was there friend.
And, deep down, such sentiments touched 18's heart. She was just too introverted to ever openly admit it. 18 draped her arm over her eyes and roughly sighed. "Life is friggin' crazy..."
"I know, right?"
Android 18's eyes went wide and she sat up like a bolt in her wheelchair. She turned to the source of the voice, ready to defend herself if she needed to. But then she saw Krillin and Android 18 felt her insides melt. Her face blushed a bright, crimson red. "O-Oh..."
She glanced away. "H-Hey..."
Krillin nervously smiled. "H-Hey...I, um, I saw your drink was getting kind of empty. So, I, uh..."
The monk held up a bottle of beer, looking away from 18. Nervously, the female Android took the bottle and twisted it open. "Thanks..."
Krillin twisted his bottle open as well and then, simultaneously, the two of them both chugged their beverages down. With a sigh, the both set their bottles to the side and then looked back towards one another. At first, it was awkward. Neither of them knew what to say. But then, Android 18 managed to screw up the courage to speak. "So... I heard that the only reason me, 17, and 16 are still around is because you stood up to everyone else about us..."
Krillin sighed. "You make it sound a lot more manly than it was..."
18 snickered. "I will admit, I pictured you uppercutting Vegeta in the face..."
Krillin shrugged. "Well, I mean, what can I say? You saved my life...I had to do something, ya know...? I wouldn't change a thing, looking back."
18 smiled. "I feel the same way~"
Another awkward silence. Krillin drummed his fingers on the ground. 18 fiddled with the empty bottle in her hand. Both of them were blushing with the intensity of a small sun. The two of them turned, looking one another in the eye. There was definitely something there. Slowly, they leaned towards one another, each closing their eyes.
18 could feel the heat from Krillin's skin on her face. Krillin could feel a lock of 18's hair brushing against his head. The monk's jaw trembled; 18's lips slightly parted. They were right there...but then both of them chickened out at the last second. Krillin cleared his throat. "So, uh, why are you over here all by yourself? You're more than welcome to hang out with everyone else, you know? You don't have to be scared to talk to people or anything like that..."
Android 18 frowned, hugging her arms close to her chest. "I... I'm not good around new people. New people have, uh, they've always been...the worst part of my life, minus you and 16..."
Krillin smiled. "Trust me, 18, it's not like that. Nobody over there is going to judge you or treat you badly. I promise~"
18 flinched. Krillin reached over and gently grasped her hand. "Why don't you come and give it a shot? I'm sure you'd have fun~"
18 took a deep breath and let it out. She defensively looked away and mumbled in a low voice. "Fine...but you have to stick with me, okay?"
Immediately, Krillin stood up and grabbed the handles to 18's wheelchair. He smiled. "I won't leave your side~"
18 blushed and looked away, a nervous scowl spreading on her face. "L-Let's just go..."
And so, Krillin pushed 18 out of the forest clearing and back towards the party, gently assuring her for the entire walk that everything would be okay. As they walked, however, someone was watching them from a nearby high tree branch. Android 17 sighed and downed the rest of his beer. "Damn it. They were so close..."
The edge of Goku's yard, overlooking the Son Family Farm...
Eighter and Android 16 were both sat on a large rock at the edge of Goku's yard. Android 16 was at peace, Puar and Dr. Briefs' cat, Scratch, napping on his shoulders and taking in his warmth. The hulking Android watched on as Eighter did his thing, entertaining Trunks, Ranch, Goten, and Chika with funny faces and silly noises. As the entertainment went on, however, Chika suddenly began to tear up. Eighter and Android 16 both flinched. And then, Chika began to wail. Joining her not long after, Goten also began to scream and cry. Eighter was upset. "D-Did I do something wrong?"
Android 16's eyes flashed and he frowned. "Both of the infants have an increase of mass with their diapers."
Then, to Eighter's relief and 16's shock, a familiar voice called out. "Yep! I figured it was pretty close to poopin' time~"
Out of nowhere, Goku sat on the rock right next to Android 16, reaching over the hulking Android's lap and grabbing Chika. "You first, baby girl. You started crying first~"
Both Androids watched with open-mouthed awe as Goku changed Chika's diaper. Eighter was impressed that Goku could change a baby so quickly. Android 16, meanwhile, was stun-locked in place by the all-too-familiar sound of Dr. Gero's voice screaming out. "KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU!"
Goku whistled while he worked, blissfully unaware of the threat behind him. After finishing with Chika and giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead, he handed his daughter across 16 to Eighter and then grabbed Goten for his turn. As he worked, Goku spoke with humor in his voice. "You know, I really sucked at this when Gohan was a baby. Like, really sucked. But, when I saw that Chi-Chi had twins, the first thing I did when I came home was sit down and learn how to properly do up a diaper! And, after trapping my hands a few times in the test run, I manage to learn how to do it~"
He held up the giggling Goten. "I don't do nearly as much as Chi-Chi does, cuz Chi-Chi is a super mom~! But I'm trying my best to help her out however I can~"
Poor Android 16 was trying his best to hold it together, but it was clear that he was struggling. Sweat was pouring down his face, and he gripped his fists so hard that all of his knuckles popped out of place. Thinking quickly, 16 squeezed his eyes shut and stood up. It was clear that, no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't do this. "I must excuse myself. Forgive-"
Goku spoke up. "Hey, Eighter, would you grab the babies and the cats and head back with the others? I need to talk to 16 about something important."
Eighter and 16 both paused. 16 was at a loss for words. Quickly nodding, Eighter grabbed the kids, Puar, and Scratch and stood. "Sure thing, Goku. Just...be careful..."
Goku chuckled. "Be careful with what? There ain't any enemies around~"
Eighter fell silent and nodded, taking everyone but 16 and quickly hightailing it away. Goku smacked his hand against the rock. "You got a minute, buddy? I've gotten to speak to 17 and even 18 for a bit. But I don't think I've ever said anything to you other than 'hi'..."
16 spoke through gritted teeth. "That...is...for...the...best..."
Goku chuckled. "What do you mean?"
Finally, 16 exploded. He turned toward Goku and raised his fist. He threw a punch and Goku caught it, having a bit of a struggle against 16's strength. Some of the more alert warriors over at the party stood and acted like they were going to rush over, but Goku waved them off. He chuckled at 16. "Man! You're really strong! I'm actually having to put effort in holding this punch back! Bulma must've rebuilt you pretty tough~!"
16 shouted. "HOW CAN YOU BE SO FLIPPANT?! DO YOU NOT REALIZE WHAT I WAS BUILT FOR?!"
Goku nodded. "Of course, I know what you were built for. Same as 19, 17, 18, and Cell. You were built to kill me, right?"
16 snarled. "Yes. And I am currently, very poorly, fighting back to urge to attempt to follow through with such programming. So why...why...why...would you want me to stay near you?!"
Goku rubbed his chin. "Why, huh? Well...how do I put this...? I guess...it's cuz I have faith in the type of person that you are~"
16 gasped, an electrical current arching out around his entire head. For just a brief moment, his eyes went static. "Wh-What?"
Goku smiled. "I said-"
16 cut him off. "I heard you! H-How can you say that?! You...you are able to observe my body language, correct? You can see-"
This time, Goku cut 16 off. "I can see a guy that, despite every bit of his being telling him to attack, is desperately trying not to attack. I mean, I get programming and everything...well, I don't...but Bulma explained it to me..."
Goku's mind wandered. "What were we talking about, again?"
Frustrated, 16 snatched his hand away from Goku and turned to a nearby tree, punching the massive oak so hard that it was reduced to splinters. 16 crouched down, squeezing his head while visibly in pain. "I... I do not understand...how can you have such faith in me when we do not know each other...?"
Goku calmly sat, smiling at 16. "Well...I guess I've just heard too many good things about you. You love animals, you're a pretty relaxed kind of guy, you fought Cell with everything you had...even when he had you outmatched..."
The Saiyan from Earth grinned from ear-to-ear. "You'd probably be one of my best friends if we ever really got to know each other~"
16 growled. "But...my programming. Even...even being near you is a fight against every instinct my body has...whenever I can observe your presence near me...all I can think of is thoughts about killing you..."
Goku laughed. "Well, you wouldn't be the first friend to say that~"
With a sigh, Goku stood up. He took a short walk and crouched next to 16, placing his hand on the Android's back. "Like I was saying, 16...Bulma told me that she could have removed that bit of the programming. She told me that while she was fixing you up. And we talked about it..."
Android 16 sneered. "Why?! Why didn't you just remove it?! Why?!"
Goku scratched the back of his head. "Bulma said that it might end up warping your personality. Changing around what makes you the person you are. She said it would be the same as killing you if something went wrong. So... I asked her not to~"
Android 16's eyes went wide. "WHAT?!"
Goku smiled. "I wouldn't want to lose a nice guy like you. You're too cool a person for that. So, I made a bet with both of the Bulmas. I told them that I thought I could win you over without them having to take that risk. And, well, if I was wrong...then I'd just have to spend the rest of my life avoiding you. That's not really something I would want to do, but that's one of those 'it is what it is' type things. I'd rather just have to spend the rest of my life dodging attacks from a strong guy than have to kill a nice guy, ya know?"
16 was at a loss for words. Goku nodded. "But, still, I'm the type of person that believes in people who genuinely want to be better. And that's you, man~ You chose to be a good guy. You chose to risk everything to save 17 and 18 and even Krillin from Cell. So, I think that you could chose to ignore that dumb programming if you really put your mind to it. I believe in you~"
Goku extended his hand towards 16, offering a handshake. "Saiyan-to-Android, Earthling-to-Earthling, Man-to-Man, Living Person-to-Living Person~"
16 gasped. Goku smiled. "Human-to-Human, 16~"
Android 16 gritted his teeth again. There were tears in his eyes. In his head, Dr. Gero's voice continued to scream "KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU!"
16 reached out his hand towards Goku's extended hand. Goku spoke in a calm, cheerful tone. "Once we're done with Cell, once and for all, I'd love to just go walking through the woods with you. 17's told me you know a lot about things that live in the forest~"
"KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU!"
The closer 16's hand got to Goku's, the louder the voice got. 16 felt his palm brush against the Saiyans and bio-fuel began to leak out of his nose. Sparks shot out of his entire body. And yet, Goku didn't flinch. 16 wrapped his hand around Goku's and gave it a forceful, popping-sound-inducing squeeze. And yet, Goku returned that displeasure with little more than a gentle grip. "Whaddaya say, 16?"
"KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU! KILL SON GOKU!"
Android 16 opened his eyes tears pouring form the sides of them. And yet, what he saw when he opened them was a gentle, inviting, almost loving smile. The sheer pressure of his conscience and his programming clashing against one another swelled and, deep within 16's electronic brain, something broke. And then, for just the briefest flash, Goku's face morphed into that a mysterious, kind-looking, red-headed woman.
16 closed his eyes again and took a deep, shaking breath. And finally, he responded. "We will defeat Cell...together."
Goku chuckled and smiled wide, using all of his strength to help Android 16 to his feet. "Heck yeah we will~"
Back with the party...
And so, the rest of the party following that moment went off without a hitch. The Z-Fighters all gathered around the grill, next to Goku's house, and they enjoyed a long night of being in each other's company. Korin, Yajirobe, Oolong, and Master Roshi, all plastered three sheets to the wind, stood on top of a nearby woodpile and danced for everyone's amusement.
Future Trunks, Future Goten, and Future Ranch, in a moment of drunken clarity, set out five bottles and shared a drink with Android 17 and Android 18, forming a shaky peace with the Androids of the present timeline.
Fooling around, and enjoying a bit of the drink himself, Goku crashing into Eighter and Android 16. The two Androids supported his weight as Goku looked up at them, and then they all shared a laugh. The voice was still present in 16's head ordering him to kill, but it was screaming just the tiniest bit more quietly now.
As the night wore on, Gohan's birthday cake was eventually wheeled out and he was encouraged by all of his guests to blow out the candles and make a wish. Gohan happily complied, blowing out the candles...but he had no wish in his head to make at the moment.
Once that was done, and the cake was divided up, the party continued late into the evening. Around the time the Moon reached its height into the sky, people began to fall out. Soon enough, everyone but Gohan had either fallen asleep or purposefully went into a resting stasis.
Being a good friend and a good host, Gohan retreated into his house and came back out with two armfuls of spare blankets. He covered up all of the guests so that they could stay warm, his last stop being Krillin and 18 leaned against the side of the house. And then, he himself laid down between Dende and Lime. Covering the three of them with a blanket, Gohan laid down and stared up at the starry night sky.
He reached into his shirt and pulled out the candle from his cake. Holding it up against the empty space of the crescent Moon, Gohan thought long and hard about what he wanted to wish for. Today had been perfect in every conceivable way for him, so what could he wish for to make it better. Thinking hard, Gohan closed his eyes and gripped the candle tight. "I wish for us to be able to beat Cell...no matter what it takes..."
A shorter, noseless Cell fearfully sprint through the tropical jungles of the South Sea Islands. Looking behind himself, the devious imp chuckled when he didn't see his pursuers. "I've lost them! Perfect~"
Unfortunately for the reduced Cell, he neglected to notice a root jutting up out of the ground. His foot hooked underneath the root and he was thrown off-balance, tumbling across the ground and shrieking in pain. "Ow...everything hurts..."
"I would memorize that pain, worm. It will only get worse from here..."
Shaking with fear, the reduced Cell looked up as his pursuers loomed over him.
Descending from the sky, looking like mighty gods sculpted from marble, where Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu. The three of them landed and all posed as the intense sunlight shone down upon them. The reduced Cell shrieked. "No! Please!"
Tien stepped forward, speaking in a deep register. "Foolish bug. You shall pay for your transgressions against the Warrior Pillars of the Earth!"
Yamcha stepped forward as well, his muscles straining against his shirt. "Krillin was but the weakest of our number. Absorbing him shall be your doom!"
Chiaotzu stepped forward, his pecs pulsing hard enough to create miniature sonic booms. "You shall face the true might of our unlimited potential. You might have met your maker, but we are your unmakers!"
The reduced Cell pitifully crawled away as tremoring footsteps stomped up behind him. "No! Please! Don't kill me!"
He turned and saw the mighty Tien reaching down to grab him. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
At the Cell Games Arena...
Cell stood in the middle of his ring, a starry nighttime sky twinkling behind him. He eyes were squeezed shut and he was visibly distressed. "No... no...nonononono...NO!"
Cell's eyes popped open. "Ah!"
The monster breathed heavily, rubbing his hand over his forehead and finding it drenched in sweat. He took a few deep breaths, letting the cool night air wash over him, and then he sighed. "Ten days...was too long to wait for a tournament..."