Edit: APRIL FOOLS, everyone. I’m keeping the post below for posterity’s sake, however.

I have an important announcement to make today.

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with writing Defying Destiny, my third War of Broken Mirrors book.

I’ve realized that, while writing as a professional has been very fulfilling in some respects, it’s taken a lot of the joy out of the writing process for me. I miss writing just for fun, and by making it my profession, I’ve lost much of my momentum and enthusiasm.

And so, today, I’ve come to announce that I will no longer be a professional writer. I’ve decided to pursue my true passion in life – writing Dragon Ball Z crossover fan fiction.

I realize that this may come as a shock to some of you. Not everyone can be as much of a true, passionate fan of Dragon Ball Z and crossover fan fiction as I am. I hope that if you decide to read my fan fics, you’ll see why I’ve made the choice that I have.

Here’s the first chapter of my first fic.

***

After a lifetime of wondering what my father was like, I spent my first moments in his presence avoiding him.

There was little rational reason for it. It was possible that talking to him at this early stage could create enough of a divergence in the timeline that I wouldn’t be born in that particular timeline, but that wouldn’t affect this iteration of me in the slightest.

Mother’s earliest tests had made it clear that we were dealing with a multiverse setup, and that changes to another timeline wouldn’t directly impact our own. That had, as far as I understood, been one of the greatest challenges with designing the time machine.

Getting here was easy. Setting an anchor point so that I could eventually use the machine to come home was the difficult part. She needed to find and save some sort of multiverse variable so that I could return to exactly the right time and place – otherwise, I’d either potentially end up in another timeline when I used the device to move forward, or just end up in the wrong location in space. Earth moved rapidly, so even if I returned a few minutes off, I’d be in the middle of space rather than on the planet.

If I made a serious enough mistake, I could end up in another dimension entirely. I didn’t know a lot about those, but Mother had spoken to me about legendary figures like King Kai, who had once trained many of the warriors of the past.

As exciting as the prospect of learning the Kaio Ken was, I was hoping to avoid meeting him this soon.

Still, I considered, I should see if Son Goku is willing to teach it to me, and possibly others. What would the cumulative effects of the Kaio Ken and a Super Saiyan form look like? And perhaps with such a technique, we’d be able to keep some of the others from falling so far behind in the power curve. With Piccolo’s legendary regenerative abilities, I suspect he’d be able to handle the technique’s strain even better than Goku could.

My time ship was, of course, also equipped for space travel – just as a precaution. We didn’t have the resources for exhaustive testing. Even if we had, redundancies were a good idea, and mother had considerably more experience with space flight capable ships than she did with time machines.

Killing Frieza and King Cold had been comparatively easy. Doing so without much collateral damage – and without giving a clear indication of who I was –were the difficult parts.

By my calculations, Goku would be arriving in about three hours. I had capsules on me with food and other resources to help pass the time, but I had a few more important things to do first.

I withdrew one of my capsules and expanded it, revealing a backpack. Then I opened the back and began my salvage operation.

I’d done my best to keep Frieza’s soldiers relatively intact, using only my sword when I killed them. That meant that there were a number of pieces of equipment on them that still had considerable research value.

The highest priority were scouters. My mother had fixed the one left behind by Goku’s brother, Raditz, many years ago – but that was an older model. While she’d been able to reverse engineer it and make some improvements of her own, having access to newer models of scouters would undoubtedly be useful.

Maybe we’d even be able to correct that obvious design flaw where they exploded when they detected too much power. It boggled my mind that someone would design a computer that couldn’t handle more than a six-digit integer. Maybe it was a deliberate self-destruction mechanism to prevent anyone that powerful from retrieving the device and using it to track the other devices it was connected to?

We’d find out soon.

The arm-blasters used by Frieza’s soldiers put out too little energy to be of use to me, but they could be used by seemingly anyone. I wanted to know if they generated ki on their own, or if they had some way of focusing an ordinary person’s ki to distribute it into a ki blast even if that person couldn’t manage one on their own.

The former was still useful; it could give us insights into how the android’s energy weaponry worked. If Mother could reverse-engineer the blasters – and she obviously could – perhaps she could make ones that were powerful enough to harm the androids eventually. Or, perhaps, a protective shield that would work against similar types of energy attacks.

If they worked by utilizing an ordinary person’s ki, that had better long-term applications. Any use of ki – even through the device – was likely to build up the amount of ki in the user’s body over time. We could use them as a training aid to teach ordinary humans how to manipulate ki. Eventually, maybe they would help bring people up to the level that the various legendary humans like Master Roshi, Krillin, Tienshinhan, and Yamcha used to be.

I paused, glancing upward to where most of those legendary figures were actually standing. They were still observing me from a distance.

Father was closest. He was the least intimidated my presence – understandably so, given that he was clearly the strongest person here aside from myself. He was, however, also very obviously angry.

Father’s competitive instincts were something of a legend, too.

I could use that.

I floated over to them. I was nervous, embarrassed. Fighting with Frieza and Cold had been something I’d trained for, but no amount of practice could prepare me for speaking to a man who had died before I’d been old enough to form memories of him.

I his hands clenched into fists as I floated in his direction, settling about twenty feet away.

Mother was there, too, I realized. Hiding in the back behind…was that Yamcha?

Awkward. They’d had a “thing” once, before she’d met Father.

I drew in a deep breath. “Son Goku will be arriving on this planet shortly. With his return, you will all be safe once again.”

I saw Father’s eye twitch.

Good.

“I’ve eliminated these paltry threats for you, but you should be aware that stronger opponents will be on the way. Ones that won’t sit around and gloat, or go through four forms before demonstrating their actual power. When they arrive, I’d advise you all to allow Goku to handle it. In reality, none of you will be strong enough to contribute.”

Father stepped forward, just as I’d expected. “Who do you think you are, boy? I am Vegeta, proud prince of the saiyan race! An elite among elites! If there is a threat coming, it will be I, not Kakkarot,” he spat on the ground, “that rises to handle it.”

I shook my head. “Elite? Among…who, exactly? There are four people with Saiyan blood left that I’m aware of. You couldn’t hope to scratch me or Goku in your present state, and frankly, even the boy is likely to pass you shortly.”

Vegeta trembled.

“And why are you spouting about your ranking in a structure that clearly wasn’t actually accurate? Your system classified Goku as ‘lower class’, because it apparently only took childhood power level into account. Perhaps the Saiyan species would have flourished if people had actually taken potential power into account, rather than simply looking at a starting point.”  I shook my head.

“Such. Arrogance.” Vegeta stepped forward, power cracking the ground around him. “Our empire once ruled the stars! We were the mightiest of warriors, a proud people, with generations of conquest. If not for the work of a single treacherous—”

“Frieza?” I snorted. “The guy I just offed in, what, a second?” I shook my head. “Honestly, if Goku wasn’t messing around, I’m sure he could have done the same on Namek. That’s what’s wrong with you — all of you. Stow your pride. Use a little common sense. Maybe then, the saiyan species will actually be worth something.”

“I will listen to your insults no longer!”

Vegeta charged me.

I had to hand it to him — he really had some courage, trying to attack someone who just obliterated an opponent who had killed him with ease not long before.

I didn’t bother going into my Super Saiyan form. My base strength and speed were more than sufficient to catch his hand, then punch him once in the chest.

There was a crack. Ribs breaking.

He bent double, clutching at his chest.

There was something deeply cathartic about finally being able to punch the bastard that had sired me. Sure, I’d wanted to meet him, but I knew his background.

And I knew Mom never had much in the way of taste.

This son of a bitch had once tried to destroy our world, all because a lower-class saiyan was beating him in a fight.

He coughed, producing blood.

I was unconcerned. He’d handled far worse and survived. Saiyan physiology was tough stuff.

I raised my hand again, but hesitated.

I didn’t actually want to kill him. From a practical standpoint, our future would be safest if he both existed and had sufficient motivation to grow.

That was enough time for Gohan, of all people, to flicker and appear in front of my father.

“Stop.” Gohan’s eyes narrowed. “I won’t let you hurt him anymore.”

I blinked, lowering my hand.

I couldn’t fight him. I wouldn’t. Not even if it would make him stronger.

“I won’t.” I lowered my eyes to Gohan. “But I do have one more thing to say to him.”

To his credit, Vegeta raised his head, staring me straight in the eyes in spite of his injury. “I will heal from this, boy. And I will get strong enough to destroy you for this insult.”

I laughed at the utter irony of that statement. “You should grow stronger. Getting near death like this makes us all stronger. You know that, but for some reason, you apparently forgot about it after your fight with Frieza. Get yourself a reliable method of healing and train. And when Goku is stronger than you, don’t complain that he’s ‘low class’. He’s a warrior. If you want to compete with a warrior, you need to start training like a warrior, not a prince.”

Gohan raised his head slightly, giving me an odd, appraising look. I wasn’t speaking to him, but he seemed to be processing my statement.

Vegeta just smirked. “Oh, I am a warrior. I have no doubt been fighting before you were even born. I don’t know where you came from, boy. I don’t know what backwater planet produced another hybrid — and I have no doubt that’s what you are. That hair of yours could never mark a pure blooded child, and I’ve seen the strength a hybrid can produce. But you’ve reminded me of something; a power that only a true saiyan can reach. And when I find it, I show you what a saiyan prince is truly capable of.”

“I’ll look forward to seeing it.” I smiled. “Now, I think that’s enough boasting and posturing.”

I produced a capsule. People tensed as I hit the button and tossed it, producing a mini-fridge. “Anyone want something to drink?”

***

It was, oddly enough, Krillin that chose to take Vegeta toward Korin’s landing. Perhaps there, he could receive healing from Dende. I didn’t know if he was presently on Earth, or if he’d gone to New Namek – my knowledge of certain events in this timeline was a bit fuzzy. I’d focused primarily on knowing what I needed about Goku.

The damage I’d dealt was enough to trigger a zenkai boost, the kind of near-death power increase that saiyans always seemed to experience. While taking my anger out on Vegeta had been cathartic, expediting an increase in Vegeta’s power growth had been the primary goal.

With it, perhaps he’d reach Super Saiyan a few years earlier. And with that, I hoped he’d have more time to properly train — perhaps even with Goku — before the androids arrived.

More importantly, I’d reminded him and Gohan of the utility of zenkai boosts in general.

In my timeline, they weren’t a usable advantage. We didn’t have any easy means of providing the healing necessary to get an instant benefit. There was no Dende for in-combat healing, and we’d long ago exhausted our supply of senzu beans. With Piccolo dead, we had no easy access to dragon balls.

Not until I managed to get to New Namek and used their dragon balls to wish for Piccolo, but I couldn’t do that while the androids were still roaming. I worried they might destroy the entire planet while I was away, and I wasn’t sure the Namekian balls could fix that. They were limited to restoring one life at a time.

Perhaps mother could have gone to New Namek without me, but she was rightfully concerned that the time travel machine was a higher priority.

We’d handle that soon after I returned.

I made awkward small talk with the others for a few hours until Goku finally landed.

It was amazing to see him in person.

“Hi, everyone!” He emerged from his capsule.

“Daddy!” Gohan looked so strange like this. He jumped into his father’s arms, hugging him tight.

“Oh, hi, Gohan! Wow, you’ve grown so much since I was gone.” Goku smiled, setting his son down. “You’ll have to show me what you’ve learned in a sparring match later!”

Gohan’s expression momentarily slipped into a frown, but then it brightened again. “Of course, Father!”

I noted some of the dissatisfaction there, but it wasn’t my place to say anything. Was it?

I took a step forward. “Son Goku. It’s an honor to meet you. Could we talk in private?”

“Sure!” He beamed a smile at me. “You must be the one who beat Frieza! I could sense your power even from space — you must be quite the fighter!”

I nodded to acknowledge his compliment. “I am. But there are others you’ll need to worry about more. Please, come speak to me in private.”

I noticed Piccolo listening closely to our conversation from not far away, but I ignored him. The Namekian could be discreet.

It was Mother who couldn’t hear this conversation. True, I’d probably already pushed events enough to prevent my own birth, but I didn’t want to change things so much that she avoided father entirely.

…probably.

I had conflicted feelings on that.

Goku and I walked off a ways, far enough that ordinary humans probably couldn’t hear us. Gohan looked worried, but said nothing. His eyes narrowed, not in anger, but in scrutiny. Even at his age, he was analyzing the situation.

Perhaps he’d noticed the “Capsule Corporation” logo on my jacket. I should have been more subtle.

“I’ll be direct. Son Goku, I’m from the future.”

His eyes widened for a moment. “Wow! Is that why you’re so strong?”

I nodded. “Indeed. At this point in time, I have not even been born. In order to ensure the safety of this planet, I need you to train hard for a battle to come.”

“No problem! I love training. What am I fighting?”

I smiled at his simple response. He was just as Mother had described. “A pair of androids. Their creator remains unknown in my time, but their power is tremendous.”

“What’s tremendous mean?”

I flexed for a moment, drawing in a breath. I felt a tingling sensation in my spine. Then, in a moment, my hair had shifted to the spiked gold that signified my super saiyan form.

Perhaps on reflex, Goku did the same. His power shattered the stone beneath him, shimmering in a brilliant translucent field.

I could sense his strength. It was truly impressive — almost as high as Gohan’s had been in my own time, and similar to my own current power.

“As we are right now,” I explained, “We would not stand a chance against them, even if it was two of us against one of them. We would be beaten and broken, then left to die. And they would continue to destroy the world.”

A grin slid across Goku’s face. “I like it.”

I blinked. “What?”

“A challenge. Good. I was worried that Frieza would be the end of it.” He punched his fists together. “Good, good. I needed this. You’re strong. Can I fight you?”

I nodded. “I’d like that. It would be wise to evaluate each other’s strengths. And, if possible, I would like you to share a technique or two with me.”

“Teaching isn’t really my thing,” he grumbled. “But I guess I’ll think about it, if you give me a good enough fight.”

I gave him a slow nod. “I can do that. But first, one more important thing. In my timeline, you develop a severe heart disease. It completely cripples you, leaving you incapable of fighting.”

“Aww, man! That sounds awful.” He frowned. “Don’t spoil my fighting mood like that!”

I raised to hands in a warding gesture. “I brought a cure. We developed it in the future.”

“Oh.” He sighed. “That’s a relief.”

“You have to take it when you start feeling the symptoms. No delays. Do not lose it, and do not forget. This disease will prevent you from fighting, Son Goku.”

He gave me a serious nod. “Alright, alright. I get it. You have it with you?”

I nodded, reaching into a pocket and producing a vial.

I tossed it. He caught it, then shoved it into the belt on the side of his gi.

“Great. Ready to do this?”

I nodded. “Let’s begin.”

***

I’d never fought Son Goku before, but I’d fought his son a hundred times. A thousand.

I knew much of his style and techniques, even if Gohan’s primary teacher had been Piccolo, not his father.

And so, while we were more or less evenly powered, I had an information advantage.

It amounted to little.

Son Goku was a master of technique.

Every time I came in with a direct assault, he deflect it with ease.

Every time I tried to exploit a weakness, he moved smoothly to roll with the punch.

Every time I tried one of his old companion’s tricks that I’d learned — like the famous Taiyo-ken, or Solar Flare — he knew a counter.

When I tried to leverage the reach advantage of my sword, he simply blocked it with a single ki-infused finger.

I could have imbued my sword with ki as well, allowing it to potentially cut him, but that was too much of a risk. I didn’t want to maim Son Goku in a sparring match.

In truth, fighting him was an exhilarating experience, as well as a true lesson.

Power was intensely important, but what Goku demonstrated was something different.

Skill. Instinct.

He had these things in levels I couldn’t hope to achieve.

If I wanted to confront opponents like him in the future, I’d need to devise a style that suited my own strengths more clearly.

In the end, we stopped our fight quickly. We were clearly scaring the others, and a simple mistake could have caused collateral damage.

“Wow.” Goku said. “So that’s what another Super Saiyan is like. We should do this again sometime!”

I smiled. “I’d like that. I plan to return here to assist you with fighting the androids. But first, would you do me the honor of teaching me the Kaio Ken technique?”

Goku frowned. “Why do you wanna learn that? Super Saiyan is stronger.”

“I believe we could develop a way to use them simultaneously, increasing our power even further.”

Goku shook his head. “I don’t know… There’s a difference in the allocation of ki in our bodies when we’re in our Super Saiyan state. I don’t know if it’s possible to push enough ki into the extremities at the same time to maintain both techniques.”

I stared for a moment. It was a far more technical answer than I’d expected. It was easy to forget that Goku was both a veteran fighter and a ki-wielding prodigy. While he utilized most of his abilities intuitively, that didn’t mean he didn’t understand them at all. “Could you show me regardless? Perhaps even they can’t strictly be used at the same time, I could find a way to adapt them in a useful capacity.”

“I guess.” He shrugged.

“And perhaps show the others? It may be useful to people without a Super Saiyan form, such as Piccolo or Tienshinhan.”

“Hm. Why not? Okay.”

With that, he launched into a series of demonstrations for the group.

I took copious mental notes and began to practice them.

Flooding my limbs with ki was a simple enough exercise, but I wasn’t able to emulate his technique completely. Not right away.

Still, I could sense the foundations of it working, and perhaps in time, I could learn to master it.

***

Before I left, there was one more thing I had to do.

I gave Goku the date, time, and location of the androids.

Then I went to speak privately to Piccolo.

“You heard everything, didn’t you?”

He nodded. “You’re from the future. From the look of you and the attitude, I take it you’re Bulma and Vegeta’s kid.”

I saw no reason to argue. “Yes. I’m sure you can understand why it’s important they don’t learn of that too soon.”

“Right. Fine. What do you want with me?”

I handed him a second vial of the heart disease medicine. “Make sure Goku actually takes this.”

Piccolo snorted. “I’m not his babysitter.”

“No. You’re his son’s babysitter. But you’re also practical enough to know how necessary Goku will be on the battlefield. Consider this a favor in exchange for convincing Goku to teach you the Kaio Ken.”

Piccolo glowered at me. “Fine.” He snatched away the medicine.

“One more thing. Don’t die. In my timeline, you’re gone, and so are the dragon balls. You may also want to make a backup plan, like preparing someone else who can make a dragon.”

“Hmpf. I’ll consider it.”

I nodded to Piccolo. I suspected he’d do as he was asked.

I briefly regretted hurting my father before I’d had Goku teach everyone the Kaio Ken, but with several people using it, I suspected he’d pick it up on his own if he needed to.

For now, it was finally time to go.

I headed back to my time ship, then loaded in all the goods I’d salvaged.

The scouters and ki-blasters would be useful.

With a moment of hesitation, I went back to the group.

“Did anyone bring senzu beans?”

I confiscated the small bag that Yamcha was carrying.

They’d have fewer for a little while, but they had years before the androids arrived.

I needed every edge I could get in the months ahead.

If I was injured again, now I could pop one of these immediately and earn a zenkai boost. They’d also be useful if I severely injured myself while training to combine the super saiyan form with the kaio ken.

With those in hand, I punched in the coordinates to return home.

I didn’t notice that my craft had been just slightly damaged in my sparring match with Goku.

When I hit the button to return home, I saw an error message.

And then I was somewhere else.

***

I found myself in a dark passage. The space was tight enough that my ship could barely fit inside.

I exited the craft cautiously, grimacing when I found the damaged component. I’d have to repair it before I could return.

For the moment, I stored the ship in a capsule and put it on my belt.

There was an unfamiliar type of ki source nearby, and I had to investigate.

I used a ball of ki to illuminate my surroundings.

I was indoors, in some kind of ancient-looking structure. Strange glyphs were carved into the stone walls, perhaps inscriptions in some unfamiliar language.

Was I in the wrong time, or simply the wrong place?

I didn’t know. Perhaps the ki source up ahead could tell me.

I cautiously walked forward, keeping a hand ready to draw my sword at any time. The ki source was both strong and operated under an unfamiliar frequency. It felt almost like human ki, but there was something about it that was subtly different, as if it was deeper and more all-encompassing than something I’d sensed before.

It reminded me of the descriptions that Son Goku had given me for King Kai’s ki, in fact. Had I died, perhaps, and found my way into the afterlife?

I didn’t think so. This didn’t exactly look like King Yemma’s desk.

In fact, it looked rather more like some kind of labyrinth. I imagined the ancient pyramids might have looked similar.

I sniffled at the dust in the air. This place wasn’t well-trafficked. There were no spiderwebs, though. No insects at all, so far as I could tell.

Just a single source of ki up ahead, looming. Not threatening, exactly. Just radiating outward with might.

I came to a single huge stone door and pushed it open.

A man stood on the other side, already wary. He had a white-bladed sword in his hand, glimmering with some sort of unusual ki that felt cold to my senses.

Strange, blade-like constructs protruded from his back. I could sense a faint signature of unfamiliar ki from them as well, but they appeared mechanical in nature.

My eyes widened. Was he another android?

My hand drifted to my sword, purely on instinct.

“So,” the man said, “The Abidan have finally sent me a challenger. A wolf, from the look of you.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I suppose it doesn’t matter. Perhaps you don’t even know why you’re here.” He stretched out his sword in front of him. “But people only come to this place for one reason.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

He nodded. “To die.”

I tensed, drawing my blade. “Do not threaten me.”

“Oh, not threatning.” His lips curved up in a little smile. “More of a challenge, from one swordsman to another.”

“If I beat you, will you explain some things to me about this place?”

He shrugged. “Sure. But you won’t. I’ve come too far to fail here. Tell me, though, stranger. Who are you?”

“I’m Trunks.” I drew in a breath. “A saiyan from Earth.”

The swordsman nodded to me. “I’ll remember that, stranger. You should know that your opponent as well. You face Tim,” he made a flourish with his blade, “Sage of the Endless Sword.”

That was an impressive title, I had to admit. “A pleasure to—”

I heard something ring in the air, then ki exploded from my blade.

I barely had time to shift the ki in my own body to shield myself before the energy made contact. If I hadn’t trained with Goku, perhaps I wouldn’t have responded quickly enough.

As it is, the strange ki rebounded harmlessly off my body, much as the sword had been deflected by Goku’s finger.

I didn’t know what that attack was, but it was clearly a dangerous technique, and he was already preparing another. I could see a bright white light beginning to form around his sword, and the mechanical arms on his back were glimmering as well.

There was no toying with someone like this.

I powered up immediately, taking my super saiyan form.

His eyes widened just a hint, and he drew his sword back to strike.

I punched him once.

He flew back against the nearby wall, cracking into it, and collapsed to the ground.

I winced.

I’d hit him a little too hard.

***

I dragged Tim’s unconscious, bleeding body into the nearest room. There was a bed set up there, as well as a second nearby rug that looked like it might have been where someone else was meant to sleep.

I may have made a terrible mistake, I realized.

If I was in the distant past, had I just caused some serious harm to the future?

I decided the simplest approach was the safest.

The so-called “Sword Sage” was alive, merely unconscious. I left him in what looked like his bed.

He seemed a resilient sort. If I left him alone, he’d probably recover on his own.

I briefly considered giving him a senzu bean, but I decided against it. I didn’t know enough about the physiology of the people here to know if it would work on him. He seemed mostly human, but there was enough different about him that feeding him a pill didn’t seem wise.

And, of course, I didn’t want to waste any senzu beans when I was still in a strange land.

I didn’t even know if I was on Earth. I hadn’t heard of any human swordsmen with power comparable to his. Yajirobe had used a sword, but he didn’t have sword techniques like this man did.

Perhaps I was in the afterlife after all?

I shook my head, then headed out of the room toward a light that indicated the surface.

Just after I left, I sensed several other, much weaker ki signatures nearby, heading toward the entrance to the labyrinth I’d just exited.

I hid my ki signature, observing.

The other figures included several warriors and a small child. None of them had ki comparable to the man I’d just faced. They were armed with various weapons, but also carrying what looked like potion vials.

I felt a degree of relief. Perhaps they had healing concoctions they could give to the man I’d knocked out.

I left the area without a word, hoping that the Sword Sage would get the treatment he needed.

I had a whole new world to explore.

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