Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z. Period, dot, end of statement.

Chapter 24: Interlude – Piccolo

It's been seven years since Gohan disappeared.

Seven years.

Seven years.

Has it really been that long?

Yes. I've counted every single day since he was taken from us. From me.

I still replay that moment in my mind, even though it's nothing short of torture. We still don't know what caused him to disappear. I don't suppose that we ever will. But still, I keep wondering. Could I have done something? Could I have saved him from whatever happened to him? Could any of us have helped him? When Shenron told us that he couldn't bring Gohan back… He granted Garlic Junior immortality. What kind of situation did Gohan find himself in that Shenron couldn't take him away from? Do I even want to know?

…silly question.

Of course I want to know.

It was so hard to forgive Goku for what he did. He was an idiot that day. Forcing Gohan to fight, to suffer the way he did, was the stupidest thing he's ever done. And as idiotic as Goku can be, that's saying something. But Gohan would have wanted me to forgive his father, so I did. Eventually. Just because I knew that it was unintentional didn't mean that I wasn't furious at him anyway. But I did it. And now I'm competing at a tournament with the imbecile, even though we all know that it will boil down to him and Vegeta in the end. It always ends up with him and Vegeta as the last standing, though I remember a time when Goku and I were on the same level, once. I still can't believe that I didn't win that tournament. Lucky son of a bitch. Or is that monkey? What the word for a female monkey?

Did I just really ask myself that question?

…I did. I've gone mad. That's all there is to it.

Suddenly, I feel it. The spot in the back of my mind, a place reserved solely for that little boy who wormed his way through my defenses and into my heart (gods, how that analogy disgusts me), gives a tiny pulse. Could it be possible? Is it…?


Another beat. And another, and another. A sudden, enormous power level for a brief second, then nothing.

But the link still beats strong.


Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba—

Wait, what's happening? The beat… it's faltering…

Ba… dum-ba…

He's in trouble. But where? Why? How? Does this have something to do with that evil power that we all felt a few days ago? Did he somehow stumble across them the second he returned? Knowing Gohan, he probably did. The brat attracted trouble like nothing I've ever seen. The number of times I had to save him from being chased by hungry dinosaurs, falling into rivers, fighting against Saiyans and the like…

The link gives another unsteady beat. I can't feel him now, though whether that's because he's concealing his power or something more… ominous, I can't tell. I get the feeling that it's the latter of the two options. I'm sure he knows that he's on Earth; Vegeta and Goku don't bother to mask their power levels anymore. Their combined strength has scared off more would-be invaders than I can count. But I'm digressing. The point is that Gohan should be able to feel them easily and raise his power accordingly. The fact that he hasn't done so yet tells me that he isn't in the position to do so.

I'll see Goku and the others at the tournament in just a few minutes. I'll tell them what I felt.

And then I'm going to save Gohan, with or without them.

And so Alea Iacta Est comes to a close. The 25th World Martial Arts Tournament is about to commence and Gohan has somehow gotten himself into trouble. Again.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this story, whether by reviews, story/author alerts, and favorite story/author. Knowing that so many people have enjoyed this gives me the drive to continue to write. Be on the lookout for Part Two of Sic Veta Est, De Profundis.