Chapter Nine: Dende's Instruction

Moot held the Dragonball up to The Canopy, allowing Dende to bravely inspect the jagged cracks up close. The ball, apparently, was the reason for the strange half-light that had been trained on the Kami his whole time here; as long as he held it, he could see just a little bit. No longer thinking the ball to be dangerous, he'd given it to Moot to hold for a while - and been amazed at what he saw. The ball reacted differently with different persons; Dende was lit in a sourceless, dim spot light, Muuri gave off a warm, comfortable heat, and Moot... well, Moot glowed. Light began to pour from his skin, from his eyes, filtering the air around him and making even his clothes sparkle. Reep alone had not been struck in awe at the sight of this transfiguration.

"Very pure, he is," said Reep, and hopping up the Namek, began to sing. "Pure of heart, and pure of will; making sleep and slumbers still. Slumber not, to 'venge, to die; rage is pure as love is high." Humming happily, he began rubbing himself against Moot like a contented cat. Moot giggled and held the dragonball above his head.

Dende looked with wonder at this; in the glowing light of the dragonball, even Reep seemed threaded with beauty.

"What is going on here?" he wondered aloud, and Muuri answered him.

"I don't know," he said, "but I am quite sure that no one has ever seen it before." Then, as if realizing that statement was stupid without context: "We need to ask Reep what he's singing. Have you been listening to him? I think he's giving us clues." Dende turned to look at him, unconsciously moving to the rhythm of Reep's humming.

"You think so?" he asked quietly. "Yes," he answered himself. "Yes, you must be right. I hate to interrupt this little bonding session, but... Reep?"

Reep stopped singing and turned towards him. "Yes, oh Kami mine?" he said, sounding unnervingly like Katherine Hepburn in Little Women.

"What are you singing?"

Reep smiled his impossible smile again and said, "The words."

Muuri choked back a laugh.

"Ah... yes Reep," said Dende, wondering what in hell Muuri could find that was so funny about all of this. "But what words are they? Are they important to what we're doing here? To saving the Real?"

Reep closed his eyes and began to sway from side to side. "To save the Real," he said meditatively - rhythmically - and the Nameks present were suddenly filled with a sensation, as of powerful music only felt and not heard. "To save the All," continued Reep, slightly louder. "To save yourselves," he said quietly the third time. "...you must learn the Prophet's tongue. Words he has left, to guide you to him; words on the wall of Time." Reep continued swaying for a moment, and his audience was unable to suppress a shudder of inevitability. Vision filled them, vision hazy and indistinct, yet superimposed over their reality as if it were fake and the vision were Real.

And just as suddenly as he had started, Reep stopped swaying and sidled happily back to Moot, cooing softly as the Namek petted him. The others came to their senses slowly, almost unaware that they had been entranced.

Dende turned to Muuri. "What... what was that?"

"I think we just got a glimpse into our friend Reep's head," said Muuri, watching Moot giggle as Reep touched him. "It hurt."

Dende nodded. "Yes. It hurt. But I think I understand what I saw."

And so they ended up outside, using Moot's glow to search the wall, because Dende could not get the vision out of his head - a vision of white, scraggly letters, somehow inscribed inside of the false sky they called the Canopy.

Interlude 9.1: Vejiita's Child

Bra sat alone in her room, no longer waiting for the breakfast that had not yet come. She knew Trunks would bring it to her eventually; he was just busy right now, trying to find the man who had caused Gohan's murder. She knew; she had been with Trunks since early that morning.

Son Gohan would have been proud of her; she was learning how to connect with people now without being near them. Now, she was trying to find the person who had killed him. She had thought, really, that it was going to be easy. She'd caught a glimpse of him through Gohan's mental eyes when it had happened, and she knew what he felt like; now it was just a matter of skimming the surfaces of the different people on the ship - kind of like surfing TV channels - to find the right one.

The problem was these people were nearly impossible to lock onto. Finding her daddy had been easy enough; but then, he had always been transparent to her. She knew when he hated to look at her, even though she had not known why until Trunks explained it; she even knew how scared he was when he thought the Tus… the T... the Tsuf-something were going to get her. Were going to get them all.

She had begun to skim the minds of the others - the Others - on this ship, but was so frightened at what she found there that she had instinctively pulled back. They weren't like anything she had ever seen before - not even on earth, where she had, before knowing how she did it, once accidentally connected with an earthworm. She got the strange feeling that, in fact, if she were to be with any of these people for any real amount of time, she risked losing herself - and not the other way around. They didn't seem to be all there, somehow; not physically, anyway. They were hard to gasp onto, ethereal, wispy.

Bra did not know anything about the physical and energy-conducting properties of the creatures her father thought were Tsufuru, but she did know that they were somehow more advanced psychically than she could ever hope to be, and that scanning their minds was a huge risk - no way around it.

She concentrated on Gohan's face for a moment - Son Gohan, who had shown her such kindness - and closing her eyes, began to focus on Ru Sa, the Captain of the Guard.

***

Trunks sat and concentrated at his desk. He had, of course, disregarded Piccolo's warning and begun to do his own investigation full blast. His first step had been to send Goten to comfort Gokuu. His second act, unknown to him, had been eerily similar to Gohan's; he had crept around the ship like an escaped convict until he collected two samples of DNA: one definitely Saiya-jin and the other definitely Not. Now he was in his room, and had fed his samples into the computer. What he'd hoped he'd find was not there; the computer initially insisted that both samples actually WERE Saiyan.

The odd thing was that this only lasted for some twenty minutes.

After that point in time, following some instinct, Trunks had checked the samples again, and found that the Other sample had began to change; after fifteen more minutes, it was not even recognizable, and his computer did not have anything that corresponded even roughly to its genetic structure. Not very helpful, all told.

However, this did settle one thing for sure - these aliens were not Saiyan, and more importantly, never had been. Trunks had no idea why that last bit was so important to him.

He leaned back, that much of his curiosity satisfied, and tried to think of what else he could do. He was still concentrating when he heard the heavy, running footsteps approaching his door.

Curious, he peeked out.

Ru Sa was tearing down the corridor, and nodded only briefly to Trunks as he passed. His expression was less than pleased.

I wonder what's eating him? Trunks thought to himself as the Captain ran by.

*

Ru Sa pounded down the hallway, nodding to Vejiita's simpering brat as he ran by. He could already feel the inside of himself beginning to dissolve. If he had bothered to scan Trunks' mind as he passed, the boy's last thought would have struck him as funny. Ru Sa could be faulted for many things, but insensitivity to the ironic was not one of them.

He raced toward Chive's laboratory, the one that branched off from the room that held the regen tanks. He was puffing with what might have seemed lack of breath to the ignorant observer; but the truth was somewhat different. His lungs were losing their capacity to process oxygen.

Trembling with effort, he punched in the command code and entered the room.

"Chive!" he called.

"Captain," she observed, wiping her hands on some sort of disposable towel and appraising him with her usual detachment. "You have waited too long for your treatment again," she said. Ru Sa snarled.

"I know that, kaporra," he said, reverting to insults in his native language. "Now fix it!"

Chive took up a hypodermic needle and advanced toward him with slow, deliberate grace. "I sometimes wonder what would happen if you didn't make it in here on time," she said.

Lightening quick, Ru Sa lunged threateningly and grabbed her, yanking her close. She looked up at him unconcernedly.

"It might help if you snagged the arm that does not hold the hypodermic," she said calmly, and Ru Sa narrowed his eyes.

"Hurry up," he commanded roughly, shoving her away. Unperturbed, she inserted the needle into his upper left arm and waited. Although there had been nothing visibly wrong with Ru Sa - certainly nothing that would indicate imminent dissolution - he sighed as though finally relieved from great discomfort. Chive returned the empty hypodermic to the table.

"I supposed now you'll be wanting an alcohol rub," she said in the closest thing she had to humor.

His eyes closed, Ru Sa rolled his head and moaned softly, reveling in the after effects of the serum. It always made him feel slightly drunk.

"No," he said, eyes still closed. His organs seemed to be knitting themselves back together. "We can do without the alcohol part."

Chive ignored the comment and returned to whatever experiment she had been working on. "The Son boy," she said.

Ru Sa frowned. "Yes," he growled. "The fix didn't last nearly as long as it should have, and the side effects were… unpleasant. Remind me never to do that again."

"Never suck on a half-breed again," Chive said dutifully, and carefully added two drops of something blue to her project.

Ru Sa was feeling amorous; walking up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist. She ignored him.

"This version of the serum should help you to stay solid longer," she said, holding the beaker up to her eyes and studying it. "As long as you don't fill yourself with any more faulty nutrients, you should be all right for at least a week."

Ru Sa sighed and rested his chin on the top of Chive's head. "A week," he said bitterly. "Hoo, boy. That's wonderful. A week."

Chive sighed as well and put down her ingredients. "And what more do you want, Ru Sa?" she asked with what was almost tenderness in her voice. "That's better than any of your contemporaries are doing, and it's better than our ancestors. We simply cannot reach the level of stability we once had."

Ru Sa used his hands to pivot her toward him. "Yes, we can," he said soothingly, and nuzzled her hair.

"And I still have not mastered the reproduction of Bulma's pheromones," Chive continued as though Ru Sa were not even there. "It will be impossible to coax the required information out of him without them."

"Mm," agreed Ru Sa, twisting against her slightly as his arms slid further around.

"All the other hormonal combinations have proved highly ineffective," she continued implacably. "Her human pheromones are nearly impossible to replicate. They are bizarrely complex, even more so than our own."

"But I prefer our own," Ru Sa said decisively, and bit her on the shoulder.

Chive sighed and gave in. It seemed she would not get a lick of work done otherwise.

***

Meanwhile, at the same time and yet a time totally different, Dende whooped in triumph as the dragonball's light shone off seven words somehow etched into the very center of the Canopy's glass: "... rage made whole, the bearer of life..."

"We found it!" he cried, and stepping back, tried to position Moot so that this entire Prophecy could be seen.

***

Intermission 9.2: Earth and the Night Before

"Perception gets you killed," the Voice said. "Didn't you know that Piccolo-san?" The Voice was confident and sly, and Piccolo, for one, was not inclined to disagree.

He sat hovering in lotus position above his favorite waterfall, listening to the Voice in his head and of course, agreeing with everything it said. It made perfect sense; perception would kill you, and perspicuity made you dead. The more you had of one or the other, the more easily you met your doom. Why, look at Gohan, the perfect example; he had had perspicuity, and now he was dead. Of course. If only he hadn't been quite so smart, if only he'd left it all alone, why, then he might be still alive, mightn't he? And then nothing would be the same.

Piccolo moaned in his sleep and listed slightly to the left, looking a little as though he were on an invisible rotisserie. He was asleep; tomorrow was the day when they would all go in and try to take out the earth-bound comrades of those who had been Gohan's killer. So, to rest his body, Piccolo slept - but he could do nothing about his mind. To anybody who said that deep sleep was an escape from all woes, Piccolo could have said that they were fools who had never truly slept. When you were really asleep, you went down deep, deep inside of yourself; and that was where the Voices were. Accusing, condoling, it didn't matter; when you were asleep you were alone with them, and they were all there was.

Resting and unrested, Piccolo slept through to the morning - and waited for revenge.

*

Kuririn lay asleep in the arms of his wife, his face in the nape of her neck and his hair gently stirred by her breath. They, too, were waiting for tomorrow, waiting with an undiscussed eagerness for the justice tomorrow would bring. They knew without speaking that they were going possibly to their deaths; that their loss would mean Marron would grow up alone and kinless.

They also knew there was nothing in Kaiou's heaven that could change their minds.

And as they slept, strong in the comfort of one another's love, Marron lay upstairs awake and prayed that they, unlike Son Gohan, would return to their home alive.

*

Tenshinhan also stayed awake, standing in the cool grass behind the Son house and contemplating the sky. How big the universe was, he thought, and how vast; and he found himself wondering as he finally fell asleep if anything that he did or planned to do would make even the tiniest of ripples across that indifferent expanse. If anything, really, even mattered.

So, each surrounded by their own night thoughts, the Z Warriors slept - and dreamed of tomorrow.

*

In Heaven, Kaiou-Sama was scaring his companions; he stood silent and taciturn and did not even make an attempt at humor. Bulma, too, was concerned.

"Kaiou-sama," she said respectfully, unconsciously using the same tone of voice she had used when Vejiita was in a mood like this. "Kaiou-sama, what's wrong?"

Kaiou-sama did not answer.

Bulma looked off in the same direction as he, as though hoping to see whatever it was he saw; but she lacked his foresight and his powers, and whatever it was remained hidden from her sight. Gohan, she knew, was at least safe now with Rou Kaioushin, who was attempting to heal him; just the thought of whatever had ravaged Gohan's very soul in such a way left Bulma gripped in a fear that sickened her more than any fear she had have ever had for herself.

Within the easy reach of that monster were Vejiita, Bra, and Trunks.

And so she looked out over snake way along with Kaiou-Sama, feeling his anxiety but not knowing his cause, and prayed for tomorrow.

***

To the Index To Chapter TenTo the Previous Chapter