AN: The hitcount suggests I lost about half my readers due to the long delay between updates...which just tells me how much more awesome those of you that stuck around are. ^_^. Anyways, here's this one, we should only have a couple of chapters left now. Remember to review, it's a fanfic writers lifeblood. ;-)

...

"What do you mean no?" Vegeto growled lowly, standing tall and proud over the elder kaio, who simply returned his stair unflinching while sitting on the edge of the lookout. Something about being one of the oldest beings in the universe was the prospect of potential death, in this case final death even, didn't much bother him. That, and he knew that Vegeto wasn't going to kill him, there was enough Goku swimming around in him to prevent that. A slight grin spread across his face as he watched a voluptuous vixen half the world away jog down a beach topless. Some things hadn't been lost with age. "I mean it's impossible. The technique doesn't work on Kais or Kaios."

Vegeto grunted with annoyance, though a small amount of relief swept through him at the note that it wasn't possible to have his power unlocked, for whatever reason. Too much pride was swimming through him, from both of his contributors, to look forwards to having a hand out of power. Desperation and a desire to protect family won out in him begrudgingly asking, but the relief at not being able to follow through was no less real.

He scratched his head, annoyance fading. "I'm not either."

The old kaio didn't glance back at him. "No, you dolt. But those earings are meant for Kaios. What was your base strength when you fused?"

Vegeto shrugged. "About what Kakaroto's SSj3 was. Maybe a little weaker or stronger, hard to remember that far back."

"Exactly. How strong should you have been if it was a simple merger of your bodies?"

Vegeto thought about that. "I guess probably about twice Kakaroto or Vegeta's base strength." He tapped his chin. "That's not right either. Vegeta didn't have SSj3 power tied to him, so the absolute strongest I would have been with a merger, even at max level, would be an SSj3 + an SSj2... which is just barely a noticeable fraction in comparison to my SSj strength alone. An extra, massive, well of power had to come from somewhere."

The elder nodded. "And you had access that ascended state of yours as well. Phenomenal, overkill power, to the point of causing near imbalance to everything that exists in our universe." He finally turned his attention to the Saiya-jin. "Of course you have no idea where the power came from. Long ago in the first order of Kaioshin, whom I count myself a member of, it was decided that the Kaioshin and Kais should never directly interfere in the world of mortals. Instead, we decided that should we feel the need to alter the course of events, we would give power to a mortal to champion our cause. Thus we took 2% of the total power of the universe, half from the living world and half from the other world, and created a special purified pool of ki in which to power our champions. It would serve as where they would get their massive boost of power from, as to not cause minor imbalances between the ki in otherworld and the living world."

He looked stern, for a moment. "As our champions died, the energy would be recycled into the pool. But to truly purify energy to the point where it works with my own unlock ability and the potara, you need a full set of Kaioshin, something that we are not fortunate to have, and likely won't have for another millennia or two."

"Ah." Vegeto nodded. "You've already given out so much of that power, you don't want to risk not having it available in the several thousand years between when we die and when you can refill it."

The kaio suddenly looked very tired, and looked away. "I hadn't thought that you would be as powerful as you were. Saiya-jins are new, and I knew nothing of the modifications that had been done to your race. The process of fusion broke apart your bodies and reassembled them, but the adaptive qualities for accelerated growth within you took advantage of this recombination by rapidly adapting your forms to hold more and more power."

Vegeto paused, a slightly concerned look in his features. "How much power?"

The old Kaio shrugged. "I think you know the answer to that. The only thing that limited your power in that moment was that the well ran dry."

Another pause from Vegeto, as he noticed a slight hole in the story. "What about when you unlocked the earthlings power?"

Old kaio chuckled. "I belief Gohan may have been too embarrassed to tell them the exact process to actually unlocking ones power. Having no idea, they could just assume that the intense training I put them through was the same that Gohan had undergone."

A chuckle from the fused Saiya-jin, which trailed off with a measure of some distress. "I had hoped that you would have been able to unlock Bra's power. The extra ki would have done wonders to help marginalize Broly's."

For once, the old kaio actually seemed to show some regret. "I'm sorry that it isn't possible. The boost in amount of power would certainly have reduced the control of Broly, and removing the emotional element from her power by breaking down the walls and allowing her base access to all of her strength without the need for transformations would certainly have done a sight good to rectify the situation." He shook his head. "It can't be helped. Even the Dragon wouldn't have been able to do anything."

Vegeto nodded. "Very well. I appreciate you coming down here and answering my questions. I guess we're going to have to mostly do this the old fashioned way."

...

Morning. Exhaustion. The entire night had been spent holding his daughters hand while trying to ignore the piercing screams that seemed to shake the entire structure as the nightmares tore through her skull. Madness and rage coursed through her, and even during her waking hours he could see the struggle coursing through her, the fire dancing behind her eyes.

The worst of it was that he knew every slight pain that she suffered was his fault. His irresponsibility had caused this. If he had just been paying more attention, or if he'd not been reckless enough to make the kids fight the madman none of this would have happened. So many things he could have done differently to avoid what had happened, and he had failed on every account. He had made potentially the rest of his daughters life a living hell, all for what? The sake of his own pride?

She was awake now, Gohan, Trunks and Goten all going on a picnic. She deserved some calm rest and fun...and she needed the supervision for now. For the moment, Gohan wouldn't let his own daughter anywhere near her though, afraid for his little girl. Vegeto was hurt, and he could tell Bra knew what was going on, but he couldn't blame him. Pan though, that was another one he could be proud of. She was growing fairly rapidly, and would be passing up Goten and Trunks sooner than the pair would be happy about.

For now though, he allowed his eyes to close, hoping to drift away from the panging guilt that beat at him during the past few days. Exhaustion claimed him, and the world went black.

It seemed only like a few moments later he found himself in the sureal landscape of Otherworld, his hazy mind wondering why he would dream of such a thing. There were differences, though, from the Otherworld he was used to. First, the landscape was much different than any location he had been to, not that he had been many places, and the sky around them was as dark as the darkest of nights.

Probably what was most unusual was the giant red dragon that hung in the sky for a moment, eyes glowing as though it had just granted a wish, before it suddenly exploded and 7 giant dragonballs shot off in every which direction. Was this dream more of his guilt? Wishing that a wish on a dragon could put things right? That even in his dreams, where there was apparently a dragon, it had already been used moments before he could make used of it?

His own thoughts were sidelined as with the dragon not occupying his eyesight his attention shifted to rest on the large Namek approaching him from where it had been.

"It's good to see you again, Vegeto."

"Sorry." Vegeto said with a yawn, oddly exhausted for a dream. "I don't think that we've met before."

The Namek look slightly amused, though also seemed as though the weight of the world was resting wearily on his shoulders. "No, I don't suppose that you've met me, though I've met you many times."

Vegeto looked quizzically, but resigned himself to shrugged. Dreams were weird sometimes...most of the time. "What type of metaphor is that supposed to be?"

The large Namek, easily 9 feet tall, rested an arm on Vegeto's shoulder. "This is no dream, Vegeto. This is a vision, a vision of Hell."

Vegeto looked around, as the world lightened from the dragon dispersing, eyes taking in the jagged mountains and rivers of blood. A chilling breeze blew through, and he realized that they were alone. "Where is..."

"Gone. Most of them were recycled, becoming ambient energy in Otherworld above, punishments thrown out in the name of the safety of the Universe. The rest...Cell. We're only luck that he either can't or has chosen not to raid the upper otherworld yet."

Vegeto nodded, suddenly very solemn. "How strong is he?"

The Namek looked very worried. "Unbelievably so. He's destroying everything that he runs across. He knows techniques that allows him to utterly destroy a soul. No second chances, no need to die twice. One time, and you shatter into lose Ki. After that, the Majin curse absorbs it and channels it into him."

Shock swept through him. Cell was becoming so strong that his power could literally be measured as a percentage of all the ki in the Universe...which was appropriate, as that's how he was gaining strength. Realization swept through him. "He plans on casting the entire Universe except Earth into a state of nothingness before coming for us."

"Yes. All power that isn't on Earth, isn't in your champions, population, planet and Sun will be part of him before he returns. That's the bad news."

Vegeto looked at the Namek with suspicion. "There's good news?"

A nod. "What you saw was the most powerful manifestation of Dragon to ever exist, or is ever likely to exist. It was powerful enough to create a barrier that specifically disallows Cell from crossing over into Otherworld again...for a time. He will eventually be able to pierce it, but in a span of time measured in decades. The fate of the Universe will be decided before he bothers with the barrier."

Vegeto nodded. "I was told that a balance existed, half the Ki in the living world and half the ki in the other world. Denying him access to half his potential strength is certainly good news."

The Namek nodded. "There's more. First, Cell was overly ambitious when he set his time table. At his current rate of progress, even accounting for his rapid growth of power, you have an additional two years to prepare for his return."

A sigh of relief from Vegeto. "There's more?"

The Namek nodded. "Transform to your third stage, Vegeto."

Vegeto looked at him, concerned. "I can't. The way it works..."

He was cut off. "I'm aware of how your psudostage of Super Saiya-jin works. I sacrificed enough power to grantee Cell wouldn't be able to cross the barrier for centuries to give you a chance, because I know that if you fail on the other side everything is doomed regardless of the time table."

Vegeto nodded and braced himself, slowly building the power up. Like crossing through a doorway, the first stage slipped through him. Power remained condensed, not fluctuating around him in the least as he concentrated it within him, reinforcing his stability. Lighting crackled through the golden aura as his hair spiked solidly up, before the aura suddenly shot into his body and absorbed through it. He felt himself his the barrier, felt his body giving way as he pressed his power further and further up.

His memories of Goku's transformation flooded through him as he remembered the seemingly limitless strength as he crossed through the barrier and grabbed hold of what he would one day have. But as Vegeto crossed that barrier, as he felt his body slightly destabilize as unbearable pain flushed through him, he found a massive pond of energy laying on the other side. Massive, but nowhere near the seemingly unlimited ocean that he had encountered as Goku. He thought perhaps it was simply a relative difference, due to the magnitude of difference between there strengths, but as he grabbed hold of is and felt it poor into his body, he realized it wasn't the case.

The world returned around him in a sudden burst as his pattern was forcibly snapped back into place, power flowing through him. There was certainly a massive difference in strength between his SSj2 and his new SSj3, evident by the very world around him rising into the air and swirling around him, but the magnitude of difference fell far short of the other examples of the stage. If he had to guess, he would say he was only around half the strength of the full transformations capabilities.

The Namek nodded with some concern as he looked on. "It's as I thought. Perhaps the wish was wasted...it's very likely you would have been able to handle that magnitude of power without the safeguard in place. The dragon couldn't simply grant you the stage, but I was able to word a wish so that if you lost your stability in the process your soul would be forced back together before it could disperse."

A slight nod occurred from Vegeto, not concerned with the specifics, attention more turned to himself and the lack of power he knew he should have.

"Look around us, Vegeto." The Namek said, realizing Vegeto hadn't noticed.

The fused Saiya-jins attention shifted back to the world, and as he looked around with some startle, he realized that they were floating alone inside a void where Hell had once been.

"That was all the energy that Hell had to offer, all the ambient energy that even Otherworld above had to offer. Everything that remains in the world of the dead lays locked within the bodies and physical objects that remain within it. Hell was completely broken apart and sacrificed for your strength, as it has become unnecessary now."

Vegeto nodded, shakily, the realization of everything setting heavy upon him. "Was it enough?"

The Namek considered for a moment before looking away. "I do not know. The balances of power between the worlds of the living and dead has become so unbalanced over the course of the past few decades that it's impossible to tell if there was a true balance. If more of the power lay on this side of the divide, you would certainly hold the advantage as between you and your family there wouldn't be enough power on the other side for Cell to match it."

"What happens now? What do we do now? Is there any point in training further?"

The Namek nodded a confirmation. "Yes. The living universe still has a great deal of ambient energy not locked in a body, and Cell's process isn't 100% efficent, some still escapes into the larger Universe due to entropy. Every ounce of power that your family can gain pools that much power from how much Cell can ultimately obtain."

A grin came to Vegeto's features. "So despite everything, despite every little trick, every play of the cards, every piece on the chessboard being moved, everything boils down to good, old fashioned training?"

The Namek nodded. "Yes, just like old times, Vegeto." A sudden flash of light occurred around the Namek, and suddenly Piccolo was standing beside him. "The Namek that is most familiar with you will be traveling back with you. He has all of our gained knowledge, and will be able to assist you."

Realization set in Vegeto on who, or what, the Namek standing in front of him was, but he didn't voice it. There would be little point in narrating something that all three of them were aware of.

Before he could say anything else, though, he found himself once again laying in his bed, a yawn sweeping through him as this time he really fell asleep. They had another 9 years before Cell came now, one night of rest wasn't going to doom them.