Break Through the Limit
Note from adult me in 2018: I wrote this when I was sixteen. I don't look back as favourably on its writing quality these days, but plenty of people still love it dearly and it's still very important to me for essentially teaching me how to write and keep to a schedule. So. Yeah, read with that in mind I guess.
Chapter 1: Demon King
"Six!" the announcer shouted. It was the final of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai. The audience had fled. The stage lay in ruins. And one contestant—the reincarnated Demon King Piccolo—lay unconscious at the bottom of a crater, half-covered in dirt.
"Seven!" The other fighter—Son Goku, the world's most powerful martial artist—stood triumphantly over his defeated opponent. Once again, he'd defied the impossible, overcoming all odds, even surpassed the Guardian of the Earth. He was battered, his training uniform shredded, but the smile never left his face. This was, after all, what he lived for.
"Eight!" Goku's friends, standing behind him, all joined in the count, as if this would mean that in some small part, they had helped to defeat Piccolo.
"Nine!" The count was almost a formality really; no-one expected even the toughest fighter to get up after an attack like that.
"Te—" With blinding speed, Piccolo leapt to his feet, opening his mouth and unleashing a brilliant yellow wave of energy. It shot through the air in an instant, piercing right through Goku's shoulder. Everyone froze in horror, unable to believe their eyes. But their despair lasted only a moment—Goku's image, pierced by the beam, faded and vanished. The warrior had dodged at the last second, leaving an afterimage.
Goku suddenly appeared right in front of Piccolo. "Nice shot—you almost got me there!" He grinned as the green demon took a stumbling step backwards in shock. "Let me show you how it's done!" Goku drew back a fist.
Piccolo lunged forwards, but the battle had worn him out and he was slowing down. Goku slipped through his defences and rammed a punch into the side of Piccolo's face, putting all of his ki behind it. Goku felt bones crack in his opponent's jaw, and the demon was sent flying. He crashed to the floor several yards away.
"Hey, uh, announcer?" Goku asked, pointing at Piccolo's prone body. "Is he out of bounds?"
"Uh…oh! The tournament!" The announcer, still clutching his microphone, wiped sweat from his forehead and scurried over to the unconscious competitor. "Well, it's hard to tell…there's not much of the ring left, after all…but I'd say…" he looked back and forth a bit. "Yep! Piccolo is out of bounds! Goku wins the tournament!"
The group standing behind the stage ran up to the victor, cheering and congratulating him. "Nice job, big guy," said Bulma, Goku's oldest friend, patting him on the shoulder. Standing apart from the others, Kami, the Earth's Guardian, shook his head in disbelief.
"Aargh!" The guttural cry split the air as Piccolo's eyes snapped open. He sat up, one hand holding his aching jaw. "You…" he stared straight at Goku, who immediately raised his guard.
"Will you just give up already?" The spike-haired fighter asked, moving in front of his friends. "Or are you back for more of the same?" He tried to focus whatever energy he had left—he knew this monster wouldn't care for the rules of the tournament.
Piccolo grunted, standing up slowly and painfully. "You…how did you defeat me? I…I am the great King Piccolo…you are a mere human! You are nothing to me!" He snarled. "I cannot accept this! This…will not stand! I will return, even stronger, and you will suffer!" He clenched his fists, shaking slightly as he tried to summon up the strength to fly. He could barely manage that; continuing the fight was out of the question.
One of Goku's allies stepped up from behind him—a bald warrior with a third eye in the centre of his forehead. "What are you talking about? You're not just going to leave." Tien turned to Goku. "Finish him! You're the only one who can! Or he'll just return to kill more people!"
But Goku shook his head. "Get out of here, Piccolo. I've beaten you twice already—you should learn when to give up."
"Fool." Piccolo took off, and within a few seconds he vanished beyond the horizon.
Tien shook Goku by the shoulders. "Goku! Are you crazy? You heard him, he's just going to come back and do the same again!"
"I'm not so sure." Goku brushed Tien off of him. "Ever since he was reincarnated, he hasn't seemed as bad to me. I mean, I haven't actually seen him kill anyone." He shrugged. "The first King Piccolo destroyed an entire city. This one seems more angry than evil, really. And besides, if I had the chance to show mercy, and I chose not to, wouldn't that make me just like him?"
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure—" Goku was interrupted as Chi-Chi tackled him, embracing her fiancée.
"Oh Goku I was so worried you were fantastic that was amazing let's go get married we have a house ready and everything and we'll have kids and a family and…"
Over a hundred miles away, Piccolo stood motionless in a vast, empty plain. The anger was building inside of him. It was impossible—a human defeating the almighty demon king at his strongest. It simply went against everything he knew and believed. He couldn't contain it anymore. Piccolo roared his anger to the wind, releasing all his power outwards. A raging storm broke out over the entire continent. Miles away, in East City, windows shattered. Babies woke up screaming. And back on that island, where a group of friends stood, having just witnessed the fate of the world being decided, all felt a chill run down their spines. Primal fears passed over the group, fear from the darkest corners of the mind, fear of nameless things that lurk in the shadows. All but one. One, who stood above the rest. One who was not of this world. His kind had no fear of terrors in the night. Half the galaxy trembled at their name. And soon, so would Earth.
Five years later…
Piccolo stood atop a cliff, surveying the devastation around him—a result of his intense training. At first his plan had been to create a devastating new technique—one which would destroy Goku in one attack—but he had since contemplated the speed Goku had dodged his surprise attack with, and the strength he had countered with. Besides, he'd already tried creating a new 'ultimate technique', and at the Budokai, that too had failed. No, to defeat this opponent, he would need to be stronger, faster, and tougher. So he had trained his body into the ultimate fighting machine. He was the most powerful being on the planet, and he would crush his enemy with ease—like stepping on a bug.
All of a sudden something caught his attention. "I sense a great power…coming closer…" he turned to face the approaching ki slowly. "Is it Goku? If so, he's been training harder than I expected…" A figure appeared in the sky, flying towards him with incredible speed. "No, it's not him," Piccolo muttered to himself. "Then who…"
The approaching figure landed. It was a tall, muscular man with knee-length, untamed hair, wearing strange armour. He had some kind of device over his left eye.
"Hmm. You are not Kakarot…" he said.
"And who are you?" Piccolo demanded. "Do you have business with me?"
"One does not deal with insects," the stranger replied with a grin. "One simply crushes them."
Piccolo growled. "If you're looking to die, keep talking like that!"
"Heh heh heh…quite a temper you have…" the visitor said, tapping a button on his device. "Eh? Power…536? I wouldn't have thought such a being could exist on this little planet…besides Kakarot, of course…" He was visibly taken aback by the reading, but quickly shook off his unease. "Still, you're no match for me."
"What?!" Piccolo yelled. "Do you know who you're talking to?!"
The other snorted. "Do I care?" There was a long silence. Piccolo stood silent, staring down the stranger, who returned his stare with a smirk. Then, Piccolo smiled back, his confidence returning.
"You sure think a lot of yourself…" He hurled his cape off, and his turban followed. Both hit the ground with a heavy thud. The stranger took a step back, surprised.
"What?!" He hissed, incredulous. "Y-Your power…just jumped to nine hundred…w-well it makes no difference! You're nothing to me!" But Piccolo ignored him.
"If you won't tell me who you are or where you come from, I'll just have to beat it out of you." He flexed his muscles, settled into a low, wide stance, and gritted his teeth. The wind picked up. Veins throbbed all over his body. "Hrr…"
The stranger began to sweat. "W-What is this?! What are you doing? Your power level's rising again! Now it's over a thousand!" A faint blue glow appeared around Piccolo's body. "How are you doing that? Answer me!"
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. Piccolo relaxed. "How do you like me now?" He asked, baring his fangs.
"E…Eighteen hundred…even higher…than mine…" The stranger said, shocked. "No…no, the scouter must be broken!" He clenched his fists. "It's inconceivable that any being on this world is the equal of a saiyan warrior!"
Piccolo shifted into a combat-ready stance. "Want to test that theory?"
A vein throbbed on the saiyan's forehead. His eye twitched. "You dare to mock me? Prepare to die!" He charged straight at Piccolo, but his fist swung at thin air. Piccolo appeared behind him, and landed a kick to the small of his back. The saiyan was sent flying, landing in a heap in the dust. He pulled himself up on one elbow, fear in his eyes. Piccolo stood over him, one hand crackling with energy. This was the first real test he'd had of his new power, and he was delighted. He was dominating an enemy who was many times stronger than he or Goku had been at the world tournament.
"I was going to make you tell me who you are, but I don't think I care anymore," he chuckled. "Good riddance."
Note from 2018, part two: There used to be a longer introductory note here from when the story was about two-thirds done and two years in the writing. Most of it was gushing about how this became the second-biggest DBZ story on the site, got a TV Tropes page, fanart, etc...and I'm still incredibly thankful and surprised it did so well! I'm just trimming it down to make this first chapter less daunting. The rest was a table of contents of sort, so I'll leave that mostly intact and just clean up a bit:
Saiyan arc: Chapters 1 to 10
Namek arc: Chapters 10 to 19 (chapter 10 contains both the end of the battle with Vegeta, and the start of the trip to Namek)
Cold Family 'mini-arc', I guess (a bit spoiler-heavy to explain): Chapters 20 to 24
Android arc: Chapters 25 to 38
Countdown arc: Chapters 39 to 71 (this was originally going to just be a few chapters bridging the gap between the android and Buu arcs, and covering the events of a couple of movies. It developed into the longest and the second-most divergent-from-canon story arc up to that point. Go figure.)
Buu arc: Chapters 72 to 91
Postgame arc (another bridging-the-gap section, includes Battle of the Gods among other post-Buu things): Chapters 92 to 104
The hundred and fifth chapter marks the beginning of the sequel, Even Further Beyond (removed some ranting about GT from the previous version of these notes, a show I mostly hadn't seen at the time so kinda ignore anything teenage-me says about it in later chapters. I have now seen it though! I like it. Come at me), a story spun out of a wild mix of random ideas from all over the DB canon and my own concepts. I dotted extremely tentative 'previews' for it throughout Break Through the Limit, but the final EFB ended up looking nothing like them, so look at them as a fun what-if at most.
Even Further Beyond remained posted as part of the main story, just restarting with numbering the chapters from 1 (with a 'chapter 0' prologue), in order to make it easier for readers trying to follow the story than suddenly having to look for a new one.
This should be the last time I need to edit this chapter's notes. Anyway, I hope you enjoy Break Through the Limit!