The day was young, as the light was just spilling in through the cracks in the arena walls. Gohan's eyes opened to survey the area and he stood, cracking his neck and flexing his muscles. His eyes glanced down at where the wound he had earned last night was carved through his chest, noticing the size of the metal sheen that gleamed back at him had reduced in size over the night. Apparently it was accelerating the healing process.
"Good morning." Nagato voice called to him, and he glanced up to see the teen sitting in a window overlooking the outside world. "I've been doing some thinking. You're pretty much stuck on this planet at the moment, and I'm sure there's people out there that you'd like to get back to. I don't have the power to help you, but I know someone that does."
Gohan tilted his head slightly, answering with curiosity. "I'm not sure how you could help. I doubt this planet has anything in the way of faster than light travel or intergalactic communication."
Nagato nodded. "And you'd be right. Even so, She'll be able to help, if I can convince her to do so at any rate. Though that might be a touch tricky."
"Oh, and why is that?"
"Well..." He trailed off with not a small amount of hesitation. "The last time we saw each other, we fought, and she won. That's part of the reason that I'm living in my exile here."
"Oh. Well. Yeah. I suppose that might cause some problems getting her cooperation. How long ago was that?"
Nagato chuckled. "Oh. Three centuries or so, give or take a few years."
Gohan gaped. "You're three hundred years old?!"
He shook his head. "Don't be foolish. I'm four hundred and twenty. I didn't do what I did without a good century of experience working everything out first."
"You know. You're going to have to explain what exactly happened..."
He shook his head. "You'll learn once we meet Her. You have to promise me that if something happens, you won't get involved. It's between the two of us... and to be honest, I'm not sure if even you can beat her."
Some part of Gohan grew extremely excited with that statement, but he nodded his agreement. Nagato had seen his Ascended state, and he was still thought this woman might be stronger than him? He felt a shiver run through his body with anticipation.
"Alright. Come, Gohan."
It had taken them several days of traveling on foot to reach where Nagato was bringing them. They hadn't limited themselves to normal speed, but Gohan estimated that they had crossed a distance of near one hundred thousand kilometers. This planet was much larger than Earth. Much, much larger.
He thought about it for a minute. That meant that the gravity here would be much higher, but he hadn't given it any thought. He supposed that since he had been unconscious when he had arrived, his body had naturally adapted it's Ki flow to support him in these conditions. And he hadn't noticed the size in space because he had been so intent on the battle.
When all was said and done, the rough math in his head suggested that, assuming Earth like composition, this planet's gravity was 5x Earth's.
He had seen it from a distance, and had marveled at it's beauty. Standing at the edge of a mountain which overlooked a massive desert, had had looked down upon that desert and seen a gem resting in the middle. It was a massive city, large enough to hold Earth's population with ease, he imagined. He could approximate the cities size based on their distance and the horizon, which placed it as having exactly a five hundred mile diameter. The city was designed as a massive, perfect circle, with a huge spire extending into the clouds from the center.
And now he was standing before the gates of the large city. The walls seemed to be made of white marble, the gates themselves seemed to be made of gold, or at least gold plated. And far beyond them, situated in the middle of the city, was a massive tower that reached so high he couldn't see the top.
"Esmeria." Nagato said, seeing Gohan stair up. "The Eye of the World."
Gohan managed to close his gaping mouth. "I assume that's where she lives? It's got to be at least..."
Nagato nodded as he lead Gohan up to the gate. "250 miles tall, exactly the radius of the city, and exactly flush against the edge of the exosphere. She couldn't possible stand not being on top of the world."
"250 miles? But the Exosphere extends..." He trailed off. "Oh. Right. Gravity is about five times that of my home. Meaning that, based on elevation from the sea...250 miles is about right."
The Gates opened for them, but as Gohan looked around the pristinely clean city, he noticed that there were no guards on the walls, and the path leading in the city, and straight towards the tower, was lined on either side with a row of people all smiling. The message was clear; you're free to enter, but only straight to the tower.
Oddly, he felt his mood slightly elevated as he entered, and he couldn't help but notice a slight smile on Nagato's face. He shook his head.
"You noticed it?" Nagato asked as they walked.
"Yeah. I just feel...happy, for some reason." Gohan struggled with the worlds.
"It's her. The inherent power that she possesses allows her to affect peoples emotions. Through this manipulation this is a city of harmony, of peace. There is no violence, there is no hate crimes. It's effectiveness is probably limited on you due to your alien physiology."
Gohan nodded, but was a little irritated, a feeling that wasn't affected. "That's wrong, though. She's controlling people, taking away their free will..."
Nagato shrugged. "It's a Walruschicken and egg question Gohan. Actions vs. emotions, emotions to actions. No one's free will is altered, they just have no violent emotions, and they always feel in a slightly better mood. Would you choose to feel angry, choose to feel violent, if such emotions and actions were gone outside of yourself?"
Gohan thought about that for a minute before shaking his head. "No...I suppose your right. For me, violence exists in order to protect other people from violence. If there was no other violence, I wouldn't want to have it either. What of other emotions?"
"All other emotions still exist, except negative ones at the extreme ends. Irritation exists, anger exists, Rage is suppressed. Sadness exists, depression does not. Joy exists. Happiness exists. Jelousy exists, but within confines of not to an extreme to warrant violence..."
Gohan nodded. "So everyone has a full range of emotions, they just fall short of the ones that cause suffering, either to self or others."
Nagato smiled. "Yeah. That's how it works. Things are...peaceful, perfect here. It's not that no one never has a bad die, or no ones ever upset or mad, but it never spills over to harm. No one goes hungry, everyone works together and gets along. All through Her power."
"But what about people that attack you?"
Nagato shrugged. "No one is forced to live here. Once people come here, they always stay. But there's a few people out there that hold out, and they blame me for this city existing. They think that I stole their free will and gave it to her. That's not true. I just..."
"Took away their power and gave it to me." A whimsical, female voice washed over them. Gohan looked around and was startled by the fact that they were no longer in the city. Rather they were standing on the top of the tower, the entire Earth stretched below them. The tower itself, now that he was here, was ten miles in diameter, and itself a perfect circle. Looking down on the world, he found it odd. It was much like Kami's Lookout in that you could actually see everything, not just what you should be able to.
He felt a force in his mind. Unlike Nagato, it didn't just flicker on the surface. Unlike Nagato when he actually got a piece of information, it didn't gently reach in and take it. No, this was like warmth and comfort, seeping into his head and like a wave washing through it, and then it slowly receded, remaining just on the edge of his awareness.
He looked forwards in the physical world and came to see a woman standing before them, surrounded on all sides by the tower and Space, the stars themselves severing as her ceiling. This was her, the woman they had come to see. She was tall, taller than him or Nagato, probably an even six feet in height. Her build was small but perfectly tone. Every muscle, he could tell, was developed to the height that it could be without growing larger. It seemed the only body fat she has was her moderate bust and hips and why was he thinking about that?
Oh. Right. Emotion control. She fancied herself as a Goddess. Even if the general feed that she sent down just tempered people, there was no harm in including a little attraction in the vibe.
"An alien? Interesting." She paused, and suddenly he felt more violated than he had in his entire life. And the weird thing was, he couldn't explain it. It wasn't his mind, or his body. It wasn't even his soul. But she had just torn apart some part of him and put it back together.
"Interesting." She said, much like Nagato when he had met him, her attention seemed as though it was being brought from somewhere far away.
"You can't have him..."
Her gaze settled on him in response, cold and superior, before it shifted to Gohan. "No. Of course not. He's far more important that that."
She waved her hand and space seemed to flicker before it was replaced by Earth. All of his battles played out in the heavens around them through some kind of telepathic projection. He was watching the cliff notes of his life.
"This...half Saiya-jin..." She began. "Is far more powerful, and far more important, than anyone we've ever seen. And his destiny runs strong, tied into the threads of everything." Her eyes were glowing a deep purple. "The fate of the Universe itself is wound with him and those connected to him. It's quite incredible. He's not ready, of course. That's why he's here."
"What do you mean?" Gohan was pretty confused.
"Please. Why do you think you're here? I grabbed on to your destiny thread and pulled it."
He blinked. "You..wha...you can do that?!"
She laughed. "Of course I can."
Nagato shook head. "Not exactly. She's powerful, she isn't that powerful. Sure, she could pull on that, but it would have to be possible. Some slight tweak to something that's already happening..."
Gohan nodded. "I understand what happened."
She nodded. "Not a slow as you look. Yes, you were being revived at the time. A tug made where you revived change, as your Dragon can move something anywhere in space."
He growled. "But still. You can't just do that. It's kidnapping. There are people that are waiting for me, and..."
"They'll all die if you're not ready. We all will." She cut him off with a dismissive wave of the hand.
He sat and thought about that for a moment, before nodding. If she had the power to manipulate his fate like that, he wasn't going to doubt she could see it.
"First things first though." She gestured a hand towards him, and the world shifted. The tower vanished, Nagato vanished, and the planet vanished. All that remained was him and this Woman floating in the void of space, a few planets and moons floating impossibly close together for gravity to function.
"My name isn't woman." She smirked, before launching herself at him. "It's Amaterasu!"
He reached out to sense her power and found that he could much more easily do so than with Nagato, as her Ki flowed similar to what he was familiar with. He settled into a defensive as she closed the distance, raising his power to his maximum without tapping into his SSj strength.
She twisted as she neared aiming her right heal at him with a spin kick, and he responded by raising his left arm to block at her calf negating the force from impacting his head. Instantly he attempted to grab that leg, but a burst of ki shifted her momentum up and in a quick flip allowing her to bring her other leg down for an axe kick from above.
He shifted to the right and slammed his fist into the leg as it came down, causing her to let out a small grunt of pain. This punch rapidly shifted her momentum to cause her to spin away from him, and as she did so she raised her left arm causing a purple ball of ki to channel into it. Gohan shot back and to the right to dodge out of the way of the beam, but rather than shooting out it exploded sending a cone of ki shrapnel forwards.
A few of them managed to tag him in his left side and arm, indenting about a quarter of an inch into his body and drawing blood. it was his turn to let out an indication of pain, but didn't have much more time than that as she shot forwards.
Held behind her back he noticed her other hand clench and felt blinding pain as those shards exploded into smaller shrapnel causing the wounds to rip open and spill more blood. He flicked his head to clear the shock but found her fist implanted in his gut causing him to double over, and an elbow to the back of the neck sent him racing downwards with significant speed. A few seconds later he crashed into the surface of one of the moons, causing a crater and cracking to shoot out and away from it.
She was hot on his tail though, and his senses picked up an increase and rapid increase in Ki density above him, and he recognized it shifting to Nagato's. He didn't have time to dodge, and instead through a punch up to intercept her own. The punched collided, and with her own ki surpassing his, and concentrated for physical offense and defense, Gohan's right arm actually shattered from the exchange and he was blown back and into the crater. The surface of the moon gave and an explosion of rubble and dust shot up and the crater depend much further.
He let out a yell of pain and rage as he came back down to impact his chest with a follow up punch, mixing his SSj strength with his base causing his power to shoot to a drastically increased level. Even so, he didn't know if he'd survive the punch. Her Ki was currently optimized for a physical strike, and even with his own surpassing hers by a good margin, he didn't think it would be enough to negate the strike without being able to block it.
He was saved, however, as the metal seemed to react to his thoughts, and the ki was absorbed into his body and to his chest where the metal was holding him together, drastically increasing the Ki concentration in that area and condensing it into "Heavy" ki. Her punch collided into his chest with such force that the moon below him actually buckled and then gave as it exploded into celestial sized rubble from the impact that was the equivalent of an entire minute of all of the Sun's energy output, concentrated in the single collision of a chest vs. a fist.
He didn't let the opportunity slip. He gathered his energy as he was flying backwards and thrust his hands forwards, letting fly a massive beam of Ki. She didn't have time to reformat the flow of her ki and took the assault head on, being consumed by the resulting explosion.
Gohan breathed heavy as he felt the metal shifting through his bone, serving as artificial structure and "repairing" the cracks and minor breaks that had occurred. This metal of Nagato's was quite amazing. It seemed to be feeding on his SSj energy, drastically increasing the numbers of molecules inside of him.
The carnage around him cleared out as gravity carried pieces away in orbit, and before him the explosion had died down, leaving him and Amaterasu staring down at each other once more. She had some burns and marks, and much of her clothing had been vaporized, much to Gohan's embarrassment, but she was mostly unharmed. He noticed that her Ki had drastically increased once more, coming to rest above his own, and her body was covered in glowing, purple runes that pulsed with her ki flow. Some kind of transformation, then.
She didn't say anything then, instead holding her hands before her. A slight purple glow lit up in her eyes, and an intense concentration of Ki came to life in her hands. But it wasn't an energy blast. It started yellow, then shifted to blue, then to white, then became almost invisible to his eyes as energy and temperature increased. He felt a spike and then.
"Oh hell." He ascended to his highest form, and lightning crackled around him as the fire exploded out; a concentrated solar flare as though from a white dwarf almost instantly, to his eyes, washed over him and bathed him in it's heat.
He shot up and out of the burst of fire, singed, smoking and more than a little burned, just in time to see her make a motion with her hand. He twisted his head to dodge where she was pointing and felt, and then saw, the laser slice by him, cleanly cutting and cauterizing a gash in the side of his face.
He dashed towards her, dodging and weaving as she waved her finger around, almost lazily, cutting cleanly with a laser. He was dodging her finger, not the beams, as lasers traveled at the speed of light. Behind him, the rubble from the moon was getting sliced to pieces effortlessly.
He channeled a huge surge of energy into his hands, not wanting to form a blast and have her detonate it premature, and when he maneuvered close to her shot forwards with a burst of speed. Dodging under her hand and then up and inwards, closer to her than she could point, he placed both hands against her chest and unleashed a torrent of power which washed over her, sent her crashing into the planet several thousand kilometers away, and then detonated taking the planet with it in a massive explosion.
Then, he felt it. Overwhelming powerful, power beyond even that of the Android that had basically killed him. It flared to life where she was, a torrent of purple energy with such force and power that the shattered planet began orbiting around her, drawing in. It went up and up before it stopped, and the next thing he knew there were continent sized chunks of earth hurtling towards him.
He dived under the first in a near miss, face just skimming along under the mass hunk of rock as it flew by him at hypersonic speeds. As he twisted around to avoid the second, it detonated as an explosive Ki trapped within it burst, causing him to be bombarded by a shower of earth the size of states.
He flared his power as he recoiled from the first and after gathering energy began firing off blasts, detonating them before they could get close, all the while bobbing and weaving around the smaller ones he simply didn't have time to blast into oblivion.
He saw a flicker of purple and black rush past him from the debris and twisted to face it. By the time he did it was too late, as she was hovering above him upside down, and as he looked up placed a finger on his forehead. She didn't even bother to flick, and a moment target there was a spray of blood.
Nearly a minute past, him hurtling through debris, feeling it scrape against his skin, momentum out of control, before he impacted, hard, on another moon. The planet shattered on his impact, his sheer force causing an explosion the likes of which ripped the moon apart, sending him crashing past it before he impacted the next. He coughed up a small amount of blood as he floated in the debris...
But he was alive? How was that possible? And his power was...
Through the roof. Beyond that of the Android that had been responsible for his death. He closed his mind from the outside world for a minute and thought about it. After a few moments he realized.
'That's right.' She said within his mind. 'I unlocked your power.'
'Just like that?'
'It was quite easy. All the power was there, you just needed to mix it.'
He nodded, even though she couldn't see him, feeling his power almost having doubled. He gathered his energy to max to race outwards, but when he had only got a kilometer off when he noticed that she had closed the distance.
His dark black hair stood straight on edge, Amaterasu having helped calm his mind into tranquility, allowing him to harness both his full SSj2 power and his Zen, bringing him to the maximum strength that he could bring to bear. At this level he could have handled that Android by himself with some moderate difficulty. But...he felt out of his depth here.
His stance shifted into the defensive as he watched her hand almost lazily raise in front of her. The power coursing through her caused her now long silver hair to flow, and the purple glow of her eyes and the runes traced along her sleek and shining midnight black body pulsed with energy, laughter and amusement echoing in his head. She folded her fingers down, just pointing her index and middle finger towards him.
Gohan didn't think about it. Instinct kicked in as her eyes and runes flashed with intense light. He shifted, and twisted around as a searing purple laser shot past him, it's angle slicing clear through the large moon that had been behind him. He gathered his ki and exploded in that direction to hide on the other side of the destroyed celestial body.
Once he was on the other side he had a moment to rest, and a moment to allow the pain to actually hit him. He glanced down to his left arm and saw the metal twisting around to repair the damage, but his real arm was still floating on the other side of the moon, abandoned in space for his hasty retreat.
He didn't have much time to regret, though. The metal managed to shape itself into a new arm for him, but his senses, both Ki sense and visual, picked up a another massive surge of energy and he watched in stunned amazement as the frightening girl flipped up and over, launching bringing half the moon around at a speed of three thousand kilometers per hour. The surface area was too large, and he couldn't dodge. If he let it happen, he's be crushed between the impact of the two bisected halves of a moon.
He gathered his ki to the limits and rushed forwards, thrusting out his hands in either direction and blowing both moon halves to oblivion with a well timed beam detonation at their centers. Not stopping he closed the distance to Amaterasu before she could shift to a different form of attack, upper cutting her in the gut and causing her to double over. He was utilizing his metal arm, enhanced my condensing to heavy ki, and crashed his fist into her gut a three more times.
When he swung again his arm was intercepted by her own, and she clamped down on his hand, her own Ki having shifted to dense form. He mentally chuckled, having been waiting for that, and used his other arm to blast her with Ki, sending her flying one hundred kilometers back before it detonated.
When it cleared she was obviously injured, burns, bruises and bleeding evident in her body. She laughed in his head.
'Good. Very good. I see that Nagato has loaned you some of his metal, allowing you to utilize both heavy and loose ki simultaneously. Well. So can I, to a much greater extent. Time to end this, I think.'
The constitution of her ki drastically shifted. The ki in her right arm condensed to the point that it was almost solid, while the ki in the rest of her body shifted to the point that she herself became almost ethereal. She raced forwards much faster than he had ever experienced, her body seeming to blur between real space and some other dimension causing normal speed limits to no longer restricted to her physical limits.
In the instant he had, he thrust all of his power forwards in a massive Masenko, the golden energy poring out of him rapidly, washing her her. But it wasn't enough. A huge deal of her ki shot around her enhanced fist, combining the extremely condensed ki in the arm with the full strength of the rest of her Ki transferred into telekinetic power. The punch impacted his chest, his strongest point of resistance.
Gohan had never traveled at realistic speeds before, let alone light speed. Space itself bent around him under the force of her impact and manipulation of ki, and he felt himself partially slip out of space as he hurtled back at the speed of light, in some sort of "slip stream". He felt himself crash through one planet, and then a moon, and then another planet, absorbing each and every beating. But in front of him was a massive laser, 3m across, to was less than a foot behind him and traveling at the same speed.
When he slipped out of that slip stream and his velocity once more became subject to the laws of the physical universe, that beam almost instantly overtook and consumed him, erasing him from existence. He blinked.
And found himself back where he had started, staring into Amaterasu's eyes. She smirked at him, before nodding with some slight approving. "You are strong. Very, very strong. But as you can see, you have a lot to learn yet."
He instinctively, probably due to her telepathy, knew what had happened. She had dragged him into a mindscape so that they could fight at full power without worrying about collateral damage.
"But how are you so strong?"
Nagato spoke up. "That's a long story. But basically, a long time ago, our race was heading towards destruction. Individuals didn't have the power to destroy the planet, or even a moon, but they wielded enough strength to cause lasting harm to the planet. And we fought wars. The devastation was enormous. I built this tower and utilized an ability to redirect the power of the living things of the planet, stripping them of all but a little more than the strength they needed to live."
Amaterasu chuckled. "And sensing this in the Fate of the planet, I manipulated the strings so that rather than harmlessly storing and then dissipating through the tower, it would channel into the person that stood above it."
"I stole their power to save them." Nagato continued. "And she stole the power away from me, in order to reshape the world into what she considered ideal."
She nodded. "By utilizing the massive influx of Ki, I was able to heighten my powers to affect the entire population of this city. Of the world, if I wanted. I took away suffering and violence. Now there is simply peace and cooperation. It's perfect. It didn't come over night, and I had to develop higher forms to allow my body to hold all of the power."
Gohan nodded in understanding. Nagato had played a game of chess against the world, and won, but Amaterasu had been the Chessmaster that had taken the ultimate victory. Still...he didn't think he could find a moral fault with what had happened. At least, not enough of one to try and force a change.
"Now. I assume you have no problems staying here with me and learning all that you can?"
Gohan showed hesitancy. Thoughts of the people he'd left behind coming to his mind, primarily wondering about someone who had died.
"Oh. Her." Amaterasu laughed. "I know the connection." She waved her hand to the side and space seemed to bend. A second later, Zaula was standing there, looking mildly confused.
"What...how..." Gohan and Zaula seemed to say simultaneously.
"She wasn't dead, for the record. She was hurtling through space on an energy blast due to her inability to die. A little manipulation allowed the wish that would have moved her to send her here. I knew that you would be distracted if you didn't know she was safe."
Gohan nodded, not able to express his appreciation.
"Now then." She began. "It's time to begin your training.
SSj Zen: 1,800,000,000
SSj2 Zen: 3,700,000,000
St. 2: 1,500,000
Adaptive Max: 500,000,000