I stood in a great white expanse, a vast nothingness all around that almost hurt to look at. The only things of note were some amenities so far off in the distance that they were hardly specs in my vision, but there was a cafeteria, a private bath, and a door that would lead out of this space that seemed to stretch on for eternity. It was modeled after a memory of mine. Or, a memory of a past life. I thought it had been an exaggeration when I heard that staying in this white expanse could drive someone mad, but if I were alone, I could see how it would strain my mind….

Thankfully, I wasn't alone. Standing directly across from me were the Teen Titans, plus Kara. I'm not sure if she had officially joined the Titans, but she was found with them more often than not. All of them looked worse for wear and the same could be said about me as well. Medicine Balls took care of any injuries, but the undersuits that they all wore sustained some damage and in the three months that we've been here, we were running out because they insisted on changing out sets almost every other day.

My remarks that the undersuits could be worn for months at a time without need for changing fell on deaf ears.

Robin crouched low, his staff unfurled and in hand. Raven floated above the ground, her hands glowing with magical energy while her shadow seemed to churn like a boiling pot, threatening to rise up from the ground. Kara's eyes were glowing red, her hands clenched into tight fists. Kori floated next to her, her hands similarly glowing with green light that matched the same shade of green in her eyes. Kid Flash was in a runners position…

Beast Boy stood back and to the side, his skin was rippling like a water that just had a stone dropped into it, not revealing exactly what he was going to turn into, but based on the formation that the Titans took, I'm guessing it was going to be of the large variety. His teeth were sharper and his eyes displayed a slit pupil, small hints of what he was changing into but kept at bay.

I made my own preparations, taking in a deep slow breath, letting the air fill my lungs to the brim, before I let it out slowly. Settling in a familiar stance - legs wide apart, one hand outstretched to the side while the other was curled inward. It was tempting to drift into one of my transformations, or even the Wrath State. Doing so would completely defeat the purpose.

There was no signal, but the Titans all moved as one with a clear plan of attack. Beast Boy changed, rapidly growing into a creature that I had only seen once before on Planet Vegeta. A large animal with bristle-like scales, massive claws, six eyes going down a long snout over a gaping gullet that was filled with thousands of razor sharp teeth, each one stronger than a diamond because that was the creature's preferred food. I never learned the name of it, but it was impossible to forget the sight of it.

It was the creature I had killed back on Planet Vegeta, and it had been the only time that Elery, Vegeta and I had shared a meal.

A mental attack? Garfield being able to turn into animals not native to Earth was old news at this point, and it seemed like he was rapidly expanding his options. Turning into the exact creature that I had some level of sentimental attachment to was one hell of a coincidence, which made me think that it wasn't one.

Garfield fired his spines at me while he lunged, making me twist into the air as I grabbed hold of the two crystalline spikes, dodging his attempt to swallow me whole. Flinging them as soon as I smashed down on Garfield's massive head, delivering a powerful axe kick that slammed his jaw into the ground, the two spines intercepted a pair of starbolts that Kori threw at me. They exploded on contact, and I darted away, narrowly avoiding the spines that Raven redirected at me.

I was too slow to avoid Kara punching me in the face hard enough that every tooth in my head felt a little bit looser afterwards. I was flung back, twisting sharply to kick out at her, but Kara threw up a forearm to catch the blow before I could kick her in the temple. Her eyes glowed red and I flipped back, narrowly avoiding her heat vision. I could feel the Wrath State and the Super Saiyan transformations itching to be sprung free but I kept them at bay.

This was training, I reminded myself, Kara throwing a high knee that I just barely caught before she followed it up with a elbow to the temple. I turned my head to lessen the impact, but it still felt like my brain was ringing in my skull like a bell. My base state wasn't good enough. It wasn't good enough even after three months of being locked in the training room with the Titans.

I was growing stronger, just not fast enough. My base power level was six and a half million - more than doubling what I had to come to Earth with - but it was nowhere near enough. Kara, at her weakest, was around two hundred million. It's why I needed my transformations to just keep up. And that was why I refused to use them. My transformations were only as good as my base state, and my base state was lacking.

As if to agree with my thoughts, Kara punched me in the face hard enough that I flew away, skidding across the floor like a skipping stone before I managed to right myself. There was a slight grin on Kara's face, "It never gets old," she decided, cracking her knuckles. I wasn't the only one that improved. Kara probably saw the most progress.

Annoyingly enough, she started fighting like me. The prior issues she had with combat, and her over reliance on her durability were being smoothed out. She still took hits when she didn't need to, but I figured that was more Kara's personal choice than an outright flaw in her approach. She was a Kryptonian. Kara and Clark weren't wrong in thinking that they wouldn't often find those that could hit them hard enough to hurt.

"I'd prefer it if you take your anger out on the Guardians rather than me," I remarked, spitting blood on the floor. The rest of the Titans were fanning out, going to surround me. They were getting used to fighting me, I noticed with some annoyance but there was a note of pride there as well.

Kara just smirked, "Would if I could, but since I can't, you get to be King Whipping Boy," she shot back. I hadn't been privy to the details, but through Raven, I heard the story. Kara had just about destroyed the planet in her reckless desire to crush the last three Guardians. Atrocitus joined in to help her. It had been a whole… thing. The point being was that Kara had learned a harsh truth about her race.

The Guardians had tampered with them. Early Kryptonians had proven too aggressive, and with their powers, they were nearly unbreakable to most of the galaxy. They meddled with the Kryptonians' homing instincts - just like how a pigeon knew where to fly to get home, the Guardians changed the Kryptonians' instincts. So, instead of expanding outward, they would hone in on their home. Planet Krypton.

The story on what destroyed the planet itself was getting murky. Kara had been adamant that it was caused by them hollowing out their planet and it collapsed in on itself, but Ganthet said it was because of the sun exploding. It wasn't really an issue since the result remained the same. That result was that because of the Guardian's tampering, there were only two Kryptonians left. Kara took that hard. Very hard. Clark was more ambivalent about it, unhappy certainly, but I don't think it changed anything for him.

Training every day for about three months helped vent how she felt - sometimes we fought at full power, far away, and kept going at it until she was utterly exhausted. The knowledge came with a price to it - Kara was angry. There was a pot of simmering anger in her chest at all times and it boiled over almost at random. She had good days and bad days, and given that I wasn't picking up my teeth when her control over her strength slipped, today was one of her better days.

"What an honor," I replied, the net closing in around me and the Titans fought as one. Wally blurred forward, tenderizing my ribs with a thousand punches before I realized that I had even been hit. A Gravity Ball formed in my hands, catching Kid Flash when he suddenly slammed into the ground, then through it when Raven teleported him out of the range of my Gravity Ball. Wally started to run, circling the edge of the Gravity, and kicking up a cyclone, trying to obstruct my vision.

I responded by flicking a ki blast from my palm, slamming it into the ground to disrupt his rhythm before looking up to see Garfield above me, turning into a creature that I didn't recognize. It was large though. Large with segmented armored plates as natural armor and a mouth filled with teeth that were too large to properly fit. Flipping back, Garfield landed on the ground and sank right through it before being launched from behind me. I continued my flip, using Garfield as a springboard and sending him at Kara while Kori flew forward, a fist glowing with green light that she slammed into a waiting forearm.

All of the Titans were finding ways to utilize their powers in new ways - Kori started holding the starbolts in her hands to increase her striking power when her attempts to shape the UV light didn't see much success. It made her hit a lot harder, that was for certain, because I felt the bones in my arm rattle at the impact.

Responding with a kick to her side, I never felt it connect before a hand grabbed me from behind. A glance down told me that it was Raven grabbing hold of me with a black magic hand that was highlighted with white, making me grab hold of it. The magic didn't budge underneath my grip, irrefutable proof that Raven had gotten far stronger. Her magic was potent and innately powerful to start with, but after she stopped fearing her own abilities, Raven became a foe to be reckoned with.

She flung me back, sending me through the air and I sensed the trap that she was putting me in. Robin fell into a support roll. His limits were defined. He was something called a Peak Human, but that was a limitation of his species. Physically, Robin was already the strongest he would ever be. Meaning that he had to make up for that shortcoming with ingenuity. Technology and skill. In this case, Robin utilized his team almost as an extension of himself, creating plans within plans.

When I touched down, I realized what that plan was. I had landed in a square that was marked with four disks that crackled with blue energy. What they were exactly, I wasn't entirely certain. They were developed by Robin over the past three months, so I had no clue if the disks I was looking at right now were something completely new or a rendition of a previous gadget that he was developing. As if to answer me, the four squares lifted up and projected a hard light forcefield, boxing me in.

"That's a capture!" I heard Garfield call out while Kara flew over, a confident smirk on her face.

"We so would have beat you when you first showed up on Earth with these babies," Kara remarked when I pressed a hand against the hard light barrier. It was rather powerful, I found, when the hard light refused to bend with a hard push. The confidence wasn't completely misplaced.

"If I only possessed my base state," I reminded, slipping into Stage Two of the Wrath State and trying again. The barrier held. Stage three as well. And Stage Four. It was only when I reached Stage Ten that the hard light began to crack under my fingers, shattering like glass and allowing me to easily escape. I saw that Robin was visibly disappointed with the result, but he shouldn't be. He was developing a portable containment system for higher end villains and it took me pushing past fifty million pl to break out.

If I had encountered that containment field during the war, for most of it, I wouldn't have been able to escape. People that were past that point were outliers for good reason. Just because it failed on me didn't mean that it was a failure.

Golden energy started to emerge from my body as my hair shifted to a golden hue. "My turn," I remarked, letting them know that it was time to test how they dealt with a me that was stronger than them. The Titans braced themselves, some awaiting the coming fight more eagerly than others. Only for a sharp beeping to interrupt us before I could move.

"It's been a day already?" Kori questioned, her tone mournful as I let the Super Saiyan transformations drop. I looked at the entrance to see that the doors were swinging open. Letting out an annoyed breath, I started to leave the training room with the Titans in tow.

"Feels like it's been months," Garfield remarked, nudging Robin in the ribs, who just groaned as we stepped out of the training room to get a view of Earth from the very edge of its atmosphere. My space elevators were complete, granting a decent view of the planet.

A robot, with a metallic hand, offered the Titans an arrangement of syringes that were filled with a purple fluid. The only ones that didn't take a gun syringe was Raven and Kara, the latter on account that her skin was too tough for one. They injected it into themselves with little difficulty, though Garfield did whimper at the prospect of needles. The drug, in essence, reactivated their aging process that had been on hold during the past three months in the training room while it had been a day in real time.

I didn't take it in the first place on account that it didn't matter. I was likely closing in on my final growth spurt, and after that, I would remain in my prime for, in all likelihood, several million years. Perhaps longer. Robin and the other humans didn't have that luxury.

"It is time for what was promised, Tarble!" Kori decided, grabbing hold of me and dragging me closer to the Titans. I allowed it and noticed the faintest hint of a smile on Raven's lips before she opened up a portal below us that we all sank through. It was a blind jump for me - I knew that the rest of the Titans had been conspiring with each other on where we would go after the training session.

What I didn't expect was to materialize in front of a pizza parlor. One that was vaguely familiar. Overhead, a flying car zoomed above the roads - one of Lex Luthor's designs. There was someone programming a hologram projector on one of the buildings across the street to display some advertisements for human companies, as well as companies that existed within my empire. Earth was still primarily human, but I did sense a Saiyan flying above the city and various species hidden amongst the population.

"Marlo's Pizza will never change," Garfield sighed, sounding happy about it. There were signs of change everywhere in Jump City. Across the entire world.

We had spent three months in the training room, but before it, it had been three months since our visit with the Guardians and New Lanterns. Earth was getting used to the idea that they were now part of a massive empire. On a neon sign, I saw that Marlo's had made the official transition into credits instead of using dollar bills. As I understood it, on Earth, American dollars had become something of a black market currency, but there were no official exchange rates for dollars and credits.

I think they were trying to make a point to me, as we entered the pizza parlor and I saw that, indeed, it hadn't changed much since we were last here. Back then, the Titans had been trying to reach out but the attempts were clumsy, awkward, and overall painful. The patrons of the establishment gaped as we all entered, eyeing me up and down. Some dropped to a knee in a bow, but I quickly gestured for them to stand up.

"I'll grab a table," I decided, seeing that we came at a poor hour since most of them were full to varying degrees. A problem that soon rectified itself when I began to approach - I didn't need to be an empath to feel the sense of unease for some of the patrons. For the most part, the humans of Earth had started to ease out of their knee-jerk reaction of fear. Now, they seemed to just not know what to make of me or how to act in my presence, but I didn't think that was unique to me.

Taking advantage of it, I claimed a table when a few people cleared out of the pizzeria entirely. My eyes lingered on the arcade game that I had played some months ago, nearly half a year ago already. There were times when it felt like it had been so much longer. The games there still seemed the same to my memory. Drifting over while the rest of the Titans ordered our food, I approached one that displayed the high score.

My eyes narrowed into slits when I saw that I had been knocked into third place. "Unacceptable," I decided, pressing a button to boot up the machine. Retro games were a dying breed to my knowledge that mostly stemmed from Garfield's complaining. Coins were effectively worthless on Earth, but the arcade games typically weren't worth the expense to retrofit them to accept digital credits. As a result, they became free to play with a purchase of some kind.

"I figured that this would happen," Raven remarked as she approached, pushing back her hood. "They're going to find a way to beat the high score as soon as you leave. You do know that?" She remarked, completely missing the point.

"It's a matter of pride," I decided, grabbing the joystick and getting ready to smash the buttons. I would have to inspect my high score for the basketball game as well.

"Then it all makes sense," Raven decided, her tone dry but she lingered. Sparing a glance at the others, she saw Kara posing for a picture with some fans while Garfield and Wally were carrying stacks of pizza boxes. We had a number of big eaters to provide for. "These past few months have been peaceful."

I continued to rack up points, my superior Saiyan reflexes allowing me to effortlessly dodge between blasts from the alien invaders that fired down from above. "They have been," I agreed.

"That won't last," Raven told me, a note of sadness in her voice.

"It won't," I agreed, "but that just means we need to enjoy the moments of peace that we do get." I responded, hearing a clatter behind me as the Titans began digging into the pizza with gusto.

Six months ago, I never would have imagined that it was possible - to be on Earth and to be having fun. The Titans couldn't ever replace my team, but they weren't trying and they didn't need to. For all of the hiccups and setbacks, it felt like I was making tangible progress towards all of my goals - both securing my empire as well as more personal goals.

However, there was a storm coming on the horizon. Everyone felt it.

But, I was right. Even with the storm that was coming, as much as we had to prepare…

We had to take the moments of peace while we could. Which is why I threw the run in favor of taking a seat at the table and grabbing an entire box of pizza for myself with Raven seated right next to me. They wouldn't last, so we had to make the most of them.

...

The next chapter is currently available on my Pat re on and Subscribe Star, so if you want to read it a week early, all it takes is a single dollar in the tip jar. Or, for five dollars, you can read the chapter after that two weeks before its public release! I hope you enjoyed!