Yin and Yang
(A/N: I can’t leave things in their own universe. I have to cross them! MWAHAHAHAH! This is a crossover. It will be weird!)
Disclaimer: Dragon Ball Z belongs to Funimation, while Highlander belongs to Rysher. I make no money, even though I need it for my medication.
Piccolo meditated alone atop a tall cliff, with a waterfall crashing down behind him. The face that he drifted above was sheer, and made of dull red sandstone. Trees grew a good way from the rock face, and grass covered the edge. It was a temperate area, and a cool breeze was blowing off the water.
For the apparent calm of the place, though, Piccolo’s mind was anything but peaceful. He was in silence of his own soul, glimpsing a vision that made no sense.
There was a fighter, standing with sword upraised against a massive darkness. For some reason, though, this didn’t seem to bother the human, (that was what the fighter was). The warriors arrayed against the fighter suddenly powered up, but the face was shrouded in darkness. Still, no fear came from the mind…
No fear radiated from that mind, and an almost desperate hope. Hope that it would be over, and that she (she? How could he tell? He hadn’t gotten a good enough look at the fighter to tell one way or the other!) would have rest, that some burden would be lifted. A blow struck her from behind, and she pitched forward. An axe-kick was about to hit her head, when she rolled out of the way. It was then that the entire circle attacked, viciously trying to grind her into the ground. A signal came from somewhere, and they backed away.
Another swordsmen entered the ring, and the fighter seemed to smile ironically, and knelt. The other swordsman raised his sword-
The expression of peace that settled over the now clear face of the woman was terrifying-
The sword arced downward-
He woke up.
Piccolo shook his head, disoriented. He had had this vision before, and the meaning was still unclear. True, it looked like a fight scene, something he was more than familiar with, but the way that the woman had looked, when she was about to die, was more frightening than the fact that she was going to die at all. She just didn’t care.
There were other things about the vision that changed…
It was just plain confusing.
Shaking his head, he started down to the base of the falls, looking down.
Karen was hiking. It was one of the few things that she ever did that kept her from loosing her mind, away from the teeming masses of humanity.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like people- it was that she couldn’t stand to be around them, because of all the memories.
She was currently climbing a cliff, because, well, it had been in her way. Karen liked straight lines, for some reason.
Startled, Karen looked up, pulling her hands into a defensive position, forgetting that she was climbing for the barest of seconds, and lost her grip.
She cursed herself roundly for her stupidity, but she didn’t scream.
Piccolo was shocked at how much this woman looked like the person from his vision, and it halted him for a moment. Still, only for a moment, as the hero’s instinct that had been hammered into him, first by Goku, and then by Gohan, made him shoot downwards to grab the wrist of the falling lady.
His cloak fell, draping her face before she got a good look at the great green form before her. The sun was to Piccolo’s back; all she saw was a big shape. (A very big shape)
“If ya don’t mind, could you swing me back to the rock face?” she yelled, rather surprised she wasn’t street (or as the case was, cliff) pizza. She also didn’t know that she was being suspended by a flying green alien.
“I would think that you would like to go to the top, but, you seemed to be in an awful rush to get back to the bottom,” said Piccolo, amusement in his voice.
Karen frowned, not understanding what he was meaning.
“I’d like to finish my climb, thanks.”
Sighing to himself, Piccolo floated upwards, and Karen gave a squawk of surprise.
“Excuse me,” she asked, batting away the covering of him cloak, “but how-“ she was about to ask, when she got a good view of his face. She stopped in mid-sentence, and blinked. Just when I thought that I had seen it all… she thought.
He pulled her up to the edge, with her still gaping at him. He started his familiar smirk, guessing what she was thinking. The normal reaction of most humans to the Demon King was to gape, scream, and run. And with my luck, he thought, she’ll dive right off the cliff again, and I’ll have to rescue her.
It was something of a shock to his system when she just closed her mouth, giving him this look of weighing, turned to walk away.
“You can scream now,” he told her, and she simply tilted her head.
“Why would I do that?”
“If I was to yell at everybody that had no fashion sense, I would be shrieking every time that I saw a mirror. I’ve met people who were stranger than flying green turban wearing ones with,” she looked him over again, and shrugged, “no hair.”
This had him a little off balance, but he wasn’t a Z Senshi for nothing.
He recovered, but became a little more agitated when she just walked off.
“Thanks,” she called over her shoulder, leaving a very bemused Piccolo behind her.
The infamous couple was at it again.
It was morning, and Bulma was fixing herself breakfast. She had just finished pouring herself some coffee, and was looking at the paper as she sat down in front of her half a grapefruit. She had just finished going through the stocks, checking to see how Capsule Corps was doing, when Vegeta walked in from the gravity room, and snatched the paper from her grip. He began carelessly tossing the other sections away, looking for the funnies.
“What?! Hey, you, what are you going that for?” shouted Bulma, who started to pick up the dropped pages. Vegeta ignored her, as they went on, looking for his favorite comics. Bulma took a deep breath, preparing to blast his ears out, when Trunks walked in. He saw his parents acting like adolescents in front of him, which didn’t surprise him one bit, and leaned over to help his mother pick up the paper. Then he noticed the headlines for that day.
“HEADLESS BODIES FOUND THROUGHOUT CITY”
“That’s weird,” he muttered, looking at the rather gruesome picture of a mutilated body.
“Let me see that,” said his father, snatching the page from him.
“Dad,” Trunks said, but Vegeta ignored him too.
“HAHAHAHAHA-“ he burst out, and handed the paper back to Trunks. The Prince of Saiyans doubled over with laughter, while Trunks scanned the article.
“What is it?” asked Bulma, the rest of the paper forgotten in her hands.
“It seems that there have been all sorts of dead bodies found, all with their heads cut off. The forensics people say that except for the recent wounds from their fights, they were all in perfect condition. Teeth, skin, everything, not even scars. And-“ he flipped it over, and continued to read the article, “ There are no leads so far, and nothing to connect the victims except how they died.”
Trunks had had to increase his volume as he spoke, his father’s laughter starting to drown him out.
“Humans. You never know what they will do next!” howled Vegeta, while his mate and child sweat dropped.
“Now, why am I thinking about that green guy?” Karen asked herself, and shook her head in confusion. Truthfully, she didn’t know. Well, you didn’t meet big green people all that often, but it seemed to be more than that.
“Weird,” she muttered, and went along her way. She had other things on her mind for now.
The Gathering, for one.
“This was really getting me worried,” said Bulma, over the vid-phone. She was talking to the ‘Great Saiyaman’, and she was wondering if this was a good idea. While he meant well, and was very intelligent, almost as much as she was, he just wasn’t a detective. Yet he was all she had available.
“This isn’t something that I would trust Vege-chan with, knowing him, he’d go right along with this person, and have a blast doing it,” Bulma sighed, and brushed a piece of hair back. “You think you and Videl can handle it?”
“You bet!” said the enthusiastic dark haired man on the other end of the line. He gave her the famous Son smile. “I don’t think there is anything the two of us can’t handle,” he mentioned, and blazed to SSJ.
The com shut off, and Bulma’s eyes became wide as plates.
“Oh, dear, what have I done?”
Bura had been listening to her daughter’s conversation with the young demi-Saiyan with trepidation. She had also noticed the recent string of beheadings, but unlike her genius husband and child, she had a good idea of what was going on. It wasn’t like she wanted to know, of course.
She was standing behind a corner from her daughter, and she rubbed her wrist and sighed. Her husband had never asked why she wore a watch with an extremely wide wristband, and she was grateful. She had never wanted to be a Watcher, had never wanted to know about the Immortals or the Gathering, but it had literally fallen into her lap one day. She had gone to the store with her young daughter in a stroller, when the dress shop they were in was robbed, by an immortal.
Another one was close by, and when the shots had been fired, the other immortal had shielded Bulma with her own body. She had died, and Bura had seen her return to life, and then was introduced to her Watcher.
She scowled as she thought of what had happened later. Though she knew that she was lucky when it came to her assignment, she still resented it. She didn’t want to have the responsibilities of being a Watcher!
“Why am I doing this?” Piccolo asked himself as he followed the strange humans trail through the trees she had disappeared into.
He rattled off a mental list of answers to that question. One: She hadn’t been afraid of him; that suggested that she had power, and was a possible threat. Two: She had been a normal part of his visions for about a month, and he wanted to know why. Three: He was just damned curious.
That in and of itself was kind of strange for him, because he had never been that curious about a person before-
What, under Dende-sama was he thinking?
Growling to himself, he continued on, until he found her campground. She had chosen a rather picturesque place for her camp, one that cupped a small waterfall, and an even tinier cave. Her packs were inside the cave, and she herself was balancing precariously on some of the wet and mossy stones, doing an eclectic kata.
She had stripped down into a pair of cutoff shorts and tank top, and was barefoot as she went easily from a kung fu form, to one from tai chi, to tae kwon do, then slipped into savate. Piccolo frowned, watching her blurred movements, thinking that she must simply have never learned any ki manipulation, because she was easily strong enough to fly.
He didn’t notice the tiny motion of his own that betrayed him; because without warning, the woman did a back flip which carried her away from the rocks she had perched on, to the cave, where she unsheathed a sword, and before Piccolo could move-
There was a sword stuck about three inches deep in front of his face, in a bole of a tree.
This had Piccolo rather stunned for a split second, but not so stunned that he was taken by the next attack, as he blocked quickly with his feet, and stopped a ridge hand thrust to his neck.
“Gah-“ he garbled out, not expecting such a fierce, or powerful attack from this woman.
He had captured her hand, and it was just hanging there, and Piccolo wondered how long he could keep his grip. The power was surprising, and if he didn’t bring his ki up to stop it…
But he did.
There was no fear in the woman’s voice as she said,” Haven’t you heard that it is rude to spy on people?”
They glared at each other; neither yielding, and Piccolo took a moment to get a good look at her. Her face was scarred on its left side from some kind of burning, shiny and ridged. The other side would never have been called beautiful, either, but it was untouched. He thought that she was lucky that both her eyes were still intact. There was a pain and isolation there that he didn’t understand, and wouldn’t try to. He had a feeling that if he got sucked in, he would never get out.
It was then that a look of curiosity flickered across her features, and she pulled back. Not in surrender, but in truce.
”I have never seen a green skinned man before,” she stated baldly. “I never thought of myself as being interesting enough for one to follow me.” She titled her head, taking him in, again, like she was measuring something he had no idea of.
“I’m Karen,” she told him, putting out her hand. Piccolo just stared at her.
Pulling back her hand, Karen grunted to herself, and shrugged. “What do you want, or were you just being friendly?” she asked him, while the confused Namek stared at her. His brain was having trouble wrapping the concept of someone acting like this around it. (Unless that person was Son).
“I don’t know,” he finally said, trying to figure out what he was saying himself. “There are very few people who react the way that you did to me, and I was- curious.” He stopped, wondering if that sounded as dumb as he thought. Again, the woman- no, Karen, shrugged at him.
“Can I ask you something?” she said, the corners of her mouth twitching.
“You just did, but go ahead.”
“How, by the Gods, can you fly?”
It was when classes were over for the day, and Gohan was looking at one of the crime scenes. He shook his head, mentally ticking off the known clues. While there were a string of bodies, there was nothing connecting them, not wealth, gender, occupation, or anything else. He turned, feeling Videl’s presence come into range, and wondered briefly if she was actually distracting him… He grunted to himself, and tried to get a hold on his hormones.
He had no idea what could be causing this; that was one fact that he had no doubt. All had been killed using an extremely sharp object; all had been in almost perfect condition, male and female, no ritual to the murders, and nothing to tie them together.
“You can’t have an entire group of insane head hunting nuts out there,” he said out loud, and Videl shuddered.
“Don’t even say something like that!” she hissed. “If this is some kind of cult thing, we may never see the end of this!”
He turned to her, and nearly fell into her eyes… Then got back to business
“It’s the only thing that fits all the fact,” he told her, and grinned wryly. “There is nothing, other than cause of death, that links them. No sexual assault, no robbery, nothing other than pure, random murder. Add the notion that there is more than one person…” he frowned, and Videl looked away.
“Maybe we should leave this to the police,” Videl said delicately, and Gohan muttered, “Wish that we could.”
“Guess the only way we can find the person is to both patrol the streets,” he added, and it was Videls’s turn to sigh.
It had been a few weeks since Karen had first asked him to teach her to fly, and he had simply walked, then flown, away from her. He knew that he had been rude, and she had made no move to follow him, but she still had center stage for whatever it was that he was seeing in his dreams.
A particularly vicious one had made him awake in shock, wondering if it had been his own head that had been chopped off. This time the vision had something to do with Gohan and his girlfriend- he couldn’t remember her name. There was lightening, and it was being pulled away from his student. For some reason this was bad. He had seen Karen, standing in a corridor next to him, and she had rushed to the rescue, but she didn’t know how to do something, and that was also important. He had seen other people chopping off heads, and wished he knew why he was suddenly kneeling in front of the evil creature responsible for so much. Then the blade had arched down, and he wasn’t himself any more, he was Karen. It was eerie, feeling the resignation and almost joy at your own death-
“Damn,” he groaned, coming completely to. Wiping sweat from this forehead, he got up. He had to find Karen. That much was certain.
They smirked at each other.
The both stood there, silently, until Karen moved. Striking with her left heel, she delivered a hook kick, landed, and tried to turn it into a jumping back kick.
Piccolo recovered, blocked, and sent a punch to her jaw, even as she twisted her neck, making him miss.
They tossed blows back and forth for a few minutes, when Piccolo powered up, sending a ki blast that threw Karen into a tree.
“Nice little warm up,” said Piccolo, and he almost smiled. They had both been holding back. Karen, who had recovered as fast as Yamcha or Tien would have, stood in front of him again.
“I think I could learn a lot from you,” she said in an off hand sort of way. Cocking her head to the side, she cut her eyes back to him. “It would also give you a sparring partner who might show you a few tricks. Game?”
Piccolo considered the thought. He hadn’t had a regular sparring partner since Gohan had started spending so much of his time with Videl, and she wouldn’t complain the way Gohan had. In fact, this promised to be a lot of fun…
Karen smiled with relief when he nodded. You didn’t have much time to think about the meaning of life and the universe when you were having the crap beat of you.
Bura’s worst fears were realized when she got an urgent report from the Watchers’ Council.
While it wasn’t the Gathering, it was an immortal psychopath, and there wasn’t anything they could do about it. She sneered at the thought. They would only watch. Looking up, she saw the calendar. In the next few days, she would be having her pre-arranged meeting with her Immortal. Her sneer softened a bit. The Old Lady was nice enough, she had long ago decided, but that didn’t mean that she wanted to spend that long around her. Some immortals had covert arrangements with their Watchers. They would report what they were doing, who they fought with, killed, etc., in return for not having their entire lives watched. The Old Lady had decided it would be less than fair for her to drag the mortal tracking her life through whatever wilderness escapade that she was on at whatever time, so she told her then Watcher, four hundred years before, that she would meet her current Watcher at a certain place and time, once every ten years.
She was looking through her file on a computer in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee. The most recent picture of the Old Lady was on the screen. Scrolling down, she found that she actually enjoyed reading the Immortals’ files.
She tittered to herself. It was just like a historical romance!
There were other pictures, of course, of her in various times in history, and a few rough sketches as the dates became farther and farther into the past. She had just gotten to the part of her being in a civil war, when –
A faint breath of air was all the warning she had. Looking up, she noticed Vegeta watching her from behind, reading over her shoulder.
Giggling nervously, she looked at him, trying to shield the screen with her body.
“Vegeta!,” she said, trying to sound more air-headed than she usually did. “Is there anything can help you with?”
He gave her his usual smirk. “I was wondering what could have gotten an extremely stupid example of an idiotic race so interested that they would have been in here for three hours.” In Vegeta speak, this meant he wanted to know what she was doing. Glancing down at the tiny clock on her screen, she saw that he was right. She hadn’t even noticed that her coffee was ice cold.
“Well,” she rushed to explain, “it was something that a friend forwarded to me. It was a really interesting bit of a novel, and- Are you sure that there isn’t anything I can get you? It must have been a while since you last ate!” She said this with her usual empty mindedness, but the mention of food emptied her son in law of any suspicion.
Bura hadn’t really been afraid of Vegeta in a long time. She taught her daughter all the tricks a woman needs to keep a man in line, and Vegeta, Prince and alien that he may have been, was still male.
Still, Watcher business was something very serious, and she couldn’t let her family know about it. They, and she, would be killed if she ever broke her oath, no matter how snoopy her son-in-law might be. A little shiver ran down her spine. Vegeta was eyeing her, so she started to talk very brightly about his clothing, and the next time he would go shopping. He lost interested quickly.
He was powerful, but the Watchers knew things that would even make him afraid.
Gohan glided over the city in his Great Saiyaman disguise, after school, hoping that none of the murders would ever take place when he couldn’t stop it. For the most part, he went unnoticed, although occasionally a little kid would look and shout, “Hey, there went that flying guy in a bandana!”
Well, they could be shouting worse things.
He and Videl had been patrolling everyday recently, and it was beginning to tell on both of them. They were thinking that maybe they should take a day off. Even as he thought that, there was a scream.
Looking down, he saw that it was something that was really frightening. There was a person, he couldn’t tell it that person was male or female, who was standing over a prone child. His hands were raised above his head, grasping one of the most hideous swords he had ever seen in his life. It was made of some sort of lightless metal, one that didn’t reflect anything, and was spiked.
“NOOOO!” he screamed, and the blade descended.
He flashed to SSJ.
He still didn’t make it.
“I tried,” he sobbed into his mother’s shoulder. Gohan didn’t know what else to say, he had seen so many deaths, done his own fighting since he was four, and was a creature bred to kill. Then, why did the death of one little child make him want to scream, pound his fists, and pull out is hair? He didn’t feel rage, this was something different. It was failure, and depression. Impotence. His confidence was shot.
Chichi absently held him, trying to keep breathing in his crushing hug. “You did all that you could. You know that. The police couldn’t have done any better…”
Gohan hadn’t wanted to face Videl after it had happened. He didn’t want her to see him as some kind of failure.
“Have you gone to see Bulma yet?” Chichi asked, still patting her ‘little boy’s’ head.
He sniffled loudly, remembering the expression on the boy’s face, his fear, and the awful look of hope that covered his face, when he thought that he might be rescued. He couldn’t have been older than Goten
Goku handed him a tissue.
“No,” Gohan whispered weakly.
Chichi smiled at him then. “Maybe she has found something out that might be helpful.” Goku had been listening the whole time, and nodded.
“I’ll take you,” he said, and grabbed his son’s shoulder without warning, placing two fingers on his forehead. Then, they were gone. Chich sighed, not knowing if it was in relief or vexation.
“What will I do with those two? I guess that means they will be over at Bulma’s for dinner.” Sighing again, she decided to do the dishes.
Morning was Karen’s favorite time of day.
She stood on the edge of the cliff, looking towards the east, as false dawn colored the sky a steely blue. Humming to herself, she opened her mouth to sing the first notes of the song of morning, what her village elders had said must never be missed, or the sun wouldn’t have enough courage to rise that day. The language she sang in hadn’t been spoken in centuries, and nowhere was it recorded. The cliff face and the nearby hills and peaks echoed her voice back to her, forming a strange harmony that ended abruptly, as the first rays of the sun shyly appeared over the horizon.
Still, the memory of it hung in the air, fragile as spun glass, and the next sound would break it.
“That was…interesting,” said a deep voice behind her. Turning, Karen made eye contact with Piccolo. She gave an ironic bow.
“It is a song that I learned in my childhood,” she said, and this time he looked at her measuringly.
“How long do you have left in this camping trip of yours?” he asked, wondering why he cared. True, she had learned so fast that he wondered if all he had done was show her the door way to her own power. He was still stronger than she was, in brute force, but she was craftier. She had done moves that he had thought were impossible, and for a Namek, that was saying something. She had mastered flying in a few hours, and then went on ki blasts. At this point she had mastered everything he had to teach her.
Which, even he had to admit, was incredible.
“Would you believe that I have been on this particular camping trip for years?” she asked, not really listening to him. It had occurred to her that she hadn’t been keeping track of the years the way that she had been, and that she may have to go into civilization sooner than she would have liked.
Piccolo was, well, flabbergasted. While Goku had been raised in the wild, that was because he was a child and didn’t know any better. Most humans lived with other humans, few ever did as he or the Turtle Hermit ever did. And Master Roshi could never be said to be much of a hermit anymore.
“Don’t humans have, well, family and stuff?”
For some reason this disturbed him. Family was a part of what humans were, they didn’t reproduce asexually the way his kind could.
“You must be related to someone.”
“No, I’m not. What’s the date?” she asked suddenly, changing the subject. Karen didn’t like to go into her past, and since she hadn’t told him of her immortality, she felt it would be best to keep things like that unsaid. Her past was poignant and bloody. Sometimes plain scary, and not good story telling.
The sun was making a bloody stain on the ground in front of them, while the sky was turning bright orange.
Piccolo told her the date, off balance because of her sudden change of topic.
I only have about a day, she realized. Well the trip wouldn’t be so bad, now that she knew how to fly.
“I need to make a trip to West City, could you tell me the way there?”
“Why are you going there?” he asked, feeling confused, and bleedin’ annoyed about it.
“I have an appointment to keep.”
“After how many years you have been out here, which I will believe you about, no human I have ever met has ever had clothing so…archaic, you are going into a city. Dressed like that?”
She gave him an unexpected grin. “I told you I had no fashion sense.”
He sighed. He would miss having her as a sparing partner; she was one of the best he had had in years.
“I know someone who might be able to help you there,” he told her. Why the heck am I wanting to help her? She’s human, and weak.
Right, and I am a purple Saiyan.
Karen was taken aback, and blinked.
“I’ll show you the way there.”
Piccolo then took off towards Goku’s house.
Bura looked at her watch, and hoped that she wasn’t too conspicuous at the diner she was waiting in. She had no idea when the Old Lady was going to show up, and she had gotten there earlier.
She sighed to herself. A whole day of shopping, wasted.
Karen was flying along behind the large green form in front of her, wondering where they would be going.
It was a pleasant day for a flight, she mused, feeling the sun warm her back through her well-worn clothing.
She still didn’t know anything much about the tall alien, although sometimes her curiosity wanted to eat her alive. As far as she knew, this guy didn’t know anybody either; where were they going?
Her question was answered soon enough as the approached a small house in the middle of the forest. Her eyes scanned the area, and she felt an extremely powerful ki there. The house that she assumed was their goal, looked like a combination of a normal house and one that could have passed for a space ship. She blinked; it was one of the strangest houses she had ever seen. What was wrong with the roof?
“What is it?” Piccolo asked, sensing that his sparring partner had stopped. He saw her suspended in the air, with a baffled look on her face.
She didn’t answer, but pointed at the house.
“What about it?”
“When did they start building things like that?”
Fortunately for the confused Namek, Gohan had sensed their arrival and was heading up to them.
“Mister Piccolo!” shouted Gohan joyfully, seeing his mentor.
Karen just looked at him, and wondered why he seemed strange to her.
Right, old girl, he seems strange. So does the green alien, and you are a nearly two thousand year old immortal.
Snorting to herself, she turns her attention back to her ‘friend’ and his student.
“Who’s this?” asked the boy, looking at the rather hobo-ish appearance of the woman with his teacher.
“I am called Karen,” she answered, and bowed slightly.
Gohan didn’t look impressed.
Karen smiled faintly back.
Piccolo coughed. This was something out of character for him; he usually let silences linger. Unfortunately, they were there to do something, and that meant actually talking.
“We are here because Karen is going to South City, and that means she needs to know the way there, and it would be a good idea to stop and for her to clean up a bit…”
Karen didn’t know about that part, and glanced at him quickly.
“Things tend to change while I’m in the woods,” she cut in, seeing the odd look on Gohan’s face. “Piccolo was taking me somewhere I could ask for directions.”
The young man’s face cleared. Then he noticed the strange look that the woman was giving him.
“Is there something wrong with my nose?” he asked, brushing his nose, trying to scrape whatever it was away.
Slowly, Karen shook her head, and blushed.
“What is it? Really!”
Karen went to giving him this strange look. “You seem, well, different. Other than the flying part, of course.”
Gohan stopped short. Different? Him? Well, there wasn’t all that much to make him different, other than the fact he could fly. And was the Great Saiyaman, and that he was part alien, and that he-
Okay, maybe he was a little different.
“I guess so. Um, come on in, and we can get you some directions.”
They looked at each other uneasily, and descended to the earth. Approaching the door, there was a screech, and Chi-Chi ran out of the house, followed by Goten.
“What is that beast doing here??” she screamed, pulling out her frying pan, about to do battle.
Piccolo just stood there, looking at the irate mother in front of him. Seeing what was about to happen, Gohan tried to intervene, and started with his famous “Mother, Mister Piccolo is not-“
It was then that Goten decided to meet their visitor.
It was a very surprised Karen that found herself suddenly staring at the sky above her, with an eight-year old boy in her lap, babbling about how happy he was to see someone new.
“Uh- Nice to meet you.”
Goten then got a good look at her face, and jumped back.
“What happened to you?” he asked, and Chi-Chi turned her attention to the unknown woman.
Goten was gently touching the scars around her left eye, confusion marring his face.
“Wha’ happened to yer face?” he asked, wondering at the strangeness.
This caught Chi Chi’s attention. She had been about to whack a certain Namek over the head, but stopped at the last minute.
“Oh, my dear, whatever happened to your face?” she asked, echoing Goten, suddenly the over protective mother. In her eyes, she couldn’t have been that much older than Gohan. She rushed over, and soon, her own cool fingers were tipping up her face to see what had happened.
“I- uh, well, it’s a long story.”
Chi Chi’s eyes widened, and her glare was redirected at the Namek again.
“Did this monster do this to you? Why, you green, stinking, slimy!”
Her trusty frying pan was out again, and she scrambled up, about to swing-
When a huge saber blocked it.
Karen had shed the little boy and her traveling pack in an instant, surging to her feet, and had unsheathed her sword without thinking.
Everyone, including Goten was staring at the blade. Karen grimaced, looking at it. Well, she had to admit, it was ugly.
It was enormous, and it should have taken more strength than she had to weld it. It had a broad blade, curved like a flame towards the point, with bar for a hilt, and a shiny, scrolling pommel.
The fine work on it had long since been rusted and tarnished away, leaving only the functional parts. The bright Damascus steel remained, and it was enchanted against breakage.
In fact, it shattered the nice copper frying pan.
The silence remained even after the sound of tinkling went away.
Finally, the quiet was broken by an odd sound. Piccolo was laughing.
Piccolo sat, somewhat bemused, in Chi Chi’s usually spotless kitchen, while the woman in question looked around for a map, and Karen searched through her huge pack for something to pay Chi-Chi back for her pan.
There were several loud crashes as Goten helped her look, and Gohan was looking at her sword suspiciously.
“Where were you two weeks ago?” he asked, while her attention was still on her packs.
“Uh, I think I was having the crap beat out of me by Piccolo,” she answered, voice muffled.
Gohan frowned, and crossed her off his mental list of suspects.
There were a pair of simultaneous “AH-HA’s!” and Chi-Chi came back into the kitchen, while Karen had pulled out a small coin from her bag.
“This should cover the price of the pan and the map,” Karen told her, looking at the small coin, and biting it. It gave slightly. She was glad that she had kept most of her investments in gold; it never changed in value.
Handing the tarnished and dirty coin over, Chi-Chi looked at it, and promptly fainted.
“What did I do?” Karen asked, aghast.
Gohan noticed the coin that was locked in his mother’s fist. Prying it loose, he inspected it, his eyebrows trying to hit his hairline.
“You know this is gold?” he asked, looking rather dazed himself. He was thinking that this woman comes out of nowhere, seems to be only a little older than himself, with gold. This is too weird.
Karen blinked. “Yes it is. I keep my savings that way, because gold keeps it value.”
Gohan was wondering what the heck this person was.
“Uh, I’m a collector?”
Gohan seemed to accept that.
“So, you were needing clothes and a bath? I’ll go get the bathing barrel,” he said, blushing, hoping his mother would wake up in time to help.
Karen mouthed the words ‘bathing barrel’ at Piccolo. He nodded, and she snorted.
Gohan disappeared briefly, while his mother woke up. She was nibbling on the coin to make sure it was real.
“I, ma’am, thank you, that pan really wasn’t worth-“
“Its fine, ma’am. Really. I have a feeling that it will just be payment in advance.”
Chi-Chi just looked at her, while Piccolo had what looked suspiciously like a grin marring his usual scowl.
“I’ll go help Gohan get your bath ready,” she said finally, still a little overwhelmed by this seeming girl who looked like a hobo.
Karen grinned at the massive Namek, and shrugged.
“I guess I need to get out more.”
It didn’t take all that long for a demi-Saiya-jin to heat up water, and when Chi-Chi came outside with several towels, Gohan got the hint and went back inside. He shuddered to think of what his mother would do to him if she even thought he had been peeping.
There was a sound of splashing, a sigh, and then fierce scrubbing. Gohan guessed that it had been a long time since her last real bath.
In little time, however, Karen was getting out, and Chi-Chi was handing her some used clothes. While they had been used, he guessed it wouldn’t take much for them to be in better shape than what she had on her.
“Thank you. This is very nice, though-“
Gohan just realized that she was wearing one of his old gis. It was dark purple, and she had belted it with a black sash his mother had found somewhere. It sagged off of her thin frame, because although she was a big girl, with a strong build, she couldn’t match that of a teenage demi-Saiya-jin.
Karen, he noted, was well built for fighting. Her muscles didn’t bulge, but were instead well defined, and sinewy. She was steel and whipcord, under a hide of what looked like boot leather. With that scarred face, he thought, she was almost ugly.
He tossed her a towel, and they both headed back to the house, where some lovely smells were coming from.
“Really, Son-san, this is unnecessary,” Karen protested, as her plate was loaded down.
Chi-Chi sniffed. “Who knows how long it has been since you have had a home cooked meal, young lady. Now, what had you been doing in the forest for all that time anyway?”
Karen realized that eating would be a good way to avoid that kind of question, so she started stuffing her mouth. When the only noises she could make were those of chewing, she tried to talk, but of course, Chi-Chi super mother wouldn’t let her talk with her mouth full.
Swallowing, Karen looked over at Piccolo, who was sitting over in a corner.
“Really, Piccolo-san, there isn’t any reason for you to sit over there,” she commented.
He opened his eyes from his meditative pose. “I don’t eat,” he answered curtly.
“That doesn’t mean you have to be alone over there,” she said back. It saddened her to see her friend over there like that. If these people were his friends, well, Gohan was, then why was he doing that?
“What do you consume, anyway?” Karen asked, when he casually floated up, ignoring Chi-Chi’s glare.
“I drink water.”
Karen blinked. “Well, I guess this means that you tend to stay sober,” she added lightly.
Gohan was gaping at the whole thing. He had never gotten his mentor to talk like that. He sighed, a little enviously, at the way that the two interacted. They may not have known each other long, but they acted at ease with each other. He had trouble-getting Piccolo to say more than a few words!
Karen suddenly looked up, and realized what time it was.
“ThankyouSon-sanforthemeal,gottago,bye!” she shouted, and sprinted for the door, looking at the map, and picking up her pack on the way out. She was off like a bullet, and they saw a blur as she flew off.
Piccolo watched her go off, feeling a little confused. He felt strange that she was gone.
Seeing his sensei’s expression, Gohan stated,” I’ll go with her, if it makes you feel better, Mr. Piccolo.”
Piccolo absently nodded. For some reason, he felt like there was a strange hollow somewhere in his chest. It was kind of like when he didn’t see Gohan, or anyone, for that matter, for a long time.
He shook it off, in time to see his one-time student take to the air.
Vegeta had been hard at work training, when his curiosity caught up with him. He had noticed the strange files that his mother in law had been reading, which had struck him as odd from the beginning. While he was not the most observant person in the universe, this was beyond strange. That woman didn’t have two thoughts in her head at the same time. What would she be doing staring at computer for hours on end?
The question bugged him to the point where he had to do something about it, before it got in the way of his training. Stopping, and turning off the artificial gravity, he stepped out of the gravity room, sensing to see if that annoying woman’s ki was anywhere in the building. It was gone.
His next big problem would be getting into her computer. He had seen some of the types of protections that Bulma and her father put on their computers. He didn’t know if he could handle those.
Opening up her laptop, he started. She hadn’t even put in a password!
Muttering about the stupidity of Earth women, he looked at the icons on the screen. There were the usual ones, internet, word processing, and so on. Then, he glanced down, and saw one that seemed strangely familiar. Using his mouse, he clicked it open.
~The war had been going on for several years when the Old Lady, at this time going by the name Dominique, entered in. She became a fighter pilot, and was shot down-
“What the?” Vegeta said aloud, wondering what the hell he had gotten into. Scrolling down, he found earlier dates.
~It has been almost a thousand years since this immortal was reported. Since then she has-
Vegeta blinked. An immortal. There were people out there, humans!, that were immortal. He had to find out how they did it!
Not thinking any further about it, he dressed, jumped outside, and flew off, following Mrs. Briefs ki signature.