I. The Call
It was raining miserably, so terribly it was impossible to see more than a foot. The lightning could easily blind, and the thunder was deafening. And they all had their reasons for being out in it.
Tenchi, for instance, was hiding out from both Ryoko and Ayeka, who were out to kill each other and win him over more than usual. Ryo and Seiji were out sparring, testing out their armors against the elements, as well as trying to get away from the three rather loud boys in the house. Yusuke and Kuwabara were on the roof of their school, skipping class; nothing unusual there. A certain fire demon and a certain youko were also on a roof, catching a little private time away from Yusuke and Kuwabara. Zelgadiss was working on a new spell, far away from Lina's and Amelia's prying eyes.
Carrot, on the other hand, was chasing a girl literally around in circles, while his younger brother Marron watched in dismay. A young man with light purple hair was fighting for his life against an Artificial Human. Said young man's father was training to become a Super Saiyajin. Gokou and Gohan were training for the battle coming up in a little less than three years against the Jinzouningen.
There were others. . .
Suddenly everything went black and silent. The rain continued to fall, but it now made no noise. Even in the dimensions where it no longer existed, even in places it was daytime, the moon exploded into a full white glow. The torrent became warm like tears. Then everything got really strange.
"Minna-sama," a voice said. Everyone froze. "Ano, I don't know if anyone can hear me yet; I'm still so weak from. . ." The voice, a silvery but sad woman's voice, trailed off. "My name is. . ." Her voice faded out again, and when she spoke again, it was now rushed and hurried. "There's no time. I need your help, minna-sama. The fate of all the worlds depends on your answer. I can only move five of you here safely. I will. . ."
Silence, deafening silence. The moon's light died down, then the thunder and lightning returned, though the storm stopped moments later.
A woman with white hair sighed and settled against the wall of her prison, rubbing her head in pain. "Itai," she whispered.
"It will never work, my dear," a familiar voice said from behind her.
"Don't call me that," she weakly retorted. "You're not the man I was to marry."
"You'll never manage to bring anyone here who's strong enough to free you," he taunted. "You'll never get the worlds' strongest here."
She just kept her back turned and tried to ignore him. "We shall see," was all she said.
"Yes, we shall. But know this, Princess, anyone you bring to this world, I shall kill. And you shall remain a prisoner in your cage until you surrender to us."
"I shall never surrender to you. Never."
"We shall see," was all he said.
She listened to his footsteps as he walked away. When she could no longer hear them, she rested her head on her hands and sighed again. He had just narrowed her selections a bit. Someone, preferably several someones though, strong enough to free her and strong enough to defeat her captor. She began marking people off her mental list.
"It's so strange," Gohan muttered to himself. "Who do you think she was, Otousan?" Gokou shrugged, continuing eating. "And why didn't anyone else hear her?"
"I wonder if Vejiita heard her," the elder Son puzzled aloud. "Maybe it's just us Saiyajin who could hear her."
"Yet she said she could only safely move five. Counting that young man from the future, there are only four Saiyajin alive now."
"I wonder who she is." A very determined expression on his face, Gokou stood up from the midnight snack he and his son had been sharing. "I'm going to see what Vejiita knows."
Less than a split second later, he stood outside the gravity room at Capsule Corp. The first thing he heard was Vejiita cursing, some of the vilest phrases Gokou had ever heard and some that he'd never known existed. Vejiita was apparently in a very foul mood, and he almost turned away from his self-appointed task. But instead he smiled his widest and greeted, "Ossu, Vejiita!!" Vejiita growled in response, barely looking up high enough to glare at him. He thought quickly and couldn't come up with a way to ease into this conversation. "Did you hear her too?"
"Hard not to," the prince of the Saiyajin answered, "except none of those bakas," he nodded at Capsule faintly, "could."
"Any idea who she is?"
He growled yet. "Not yet, but I intend to find out. Not only did she interrupt my training, now she won't let me get any sleep."
"Nani?" Vejiita shook his head, apparently deeming there to be no need to answer his question. Gokou sighed, leaning against the gravity room wall too. "I hope she picks us to go; I'm curious about all this now."
"Tenchi?" she thought aloud. "No. Too much trouble to deal with Ryoko and Ayeka. Ryo and Seiji? No. Problems with the other three. Definitely not Carrot and Marron; Chocolate, Gateau, and Tira would want to come too. Zelgadiss? Maybe. Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei could handle this, but I need to be able to bring three others; besides, I'm not too sure how well their powers would work here. That leaves me with six choices and five spots to fill."
It hadn't taken too terribly much to get Vejiita to the Son house for dinner, just a threat of Bulma's cooking. He was shoveling food in his mouth as fast as Chichi could place it on the table. Then again, Gohan was matching his pace and Gokou was surpassing even that. It was rather dangerous to even be in the same room as three eating Saiyajin; you could easily lose an arm.
The lights flashed, and a breeze knocked over a vase of wildflowers Chichi had gathered earlier. That certainly didn't stop the eating trio. The silvery laugh, on the other hand, did. "Konban wa, minna-sama," a very familiar woman's voice greeted. "Can you hear me?"
Gohan opened his mouth to answer when an overly anxious voice interrupted. "Loud and clear, pretty lady." There was an exasperated sigh in the background.
She laughed. "Doomo, Carrot-sama. I have made my decision."
"Wasn't that rather quick?"
"Hai. It had to be, Seiji-sama. I was only," her voice faded, ". . . four."
A rather feminine voice spoke next. "Only four?"
"That's correct, Kurama-sama. I had to choose who would be able to survive here. I have no doubt about you or Hiei-sama, demo. . ."
"What is going on over there?"
"Nothing good, Tenchi-sama. My world has been taken over, and it's only a matter of time and how long I can hold out until it spreads to all your worlds."
Gokou dropped his bowl of rice when the next voice spoke. "Who are you?" Trunks asked.
The woman sighed. "I am. . . I was Serenity. I am the guardian of my world. There's no time for long explanations. I will contact the four I have chosen within the next week with the details."
Suddenly she screamed, and an image appeared before all their eyes. A large black crystal, lightening inside it. A woman was inside it as well, being electrocuted. A white light formed in her hand, and she threw it at her unseen attacker. Her blue eyes opened, looking directly at them, then the image vanished.
"Remember: I will kill whoever you bring through," he said as soon as the electricity stopped. "It would be so much simpler for you to just give up now."
"Kesshite! I will protect this world as long as I live!" Even though her voice would not reach above a whisper, she sounded very determined.
"My dear, you can't even escape that crystal. I don't think you stand a chance of taking this world back, no matter who you bring. The small pockets of your supporters are being eliminated." He turned, and his black cape swirled around him. His attention moved to one of the guards. "Watch her carefully, and inform me if she tries to contact anyone."
Niare snapped to attention then bowed deeply, though perhaps not as deeply as he should have. "Hai, Oo-sama." As soon as he heard the other man leave, he rushed to a dark corner of the room. He brought the blanket over and passed it through the crystal, watching as she wrapped it around herself. "He's lying, Serenity-sama," he reassured her. "The resistance is thriving as never before."
"Doomo arigatoo, Niare-san," she weakly answered. "Hopefully I shall be out of this prison soon, and we can defeat them all."
"Are the warriors you've chosen so powerful?"
She smiled tiredly. "They are the four strongest fighters in all the worlds, stronger than even our own senshi were." Her beautiful face turned hard. "I may not be able to get them to the palace. Niare-san, I'll be depending on you to bring them here."
"As you wish, Serenity-sama, so shall it be done."
"Then just pray that this will work better than my last attempt to escape this crystal prison."
A week passed, then two. Gokou seemed to be pouting, Vejiita noted, watching the other Saiyajin's face as they sparred in the mountains; he must have really wanted to go. He was slacking off, his fighting only half-hearted at best, and it was really annoying Vejiita.
"Otousan!" Gohan yelled, stopping near his father. "Are you okay?"
"Nani?" Gokou asked, finally quitting.
"Something told me you were hurt," he explained.
"Gomen nasai," a woman's voice apologized, "but I needed the three of you alone."
Gokou's face brightened. "So you did pick us!" he cheered. "Yatta!"
"Of course. Who else is stronger? Even on my far-away world, we have heard of the Saiyajin. However, I didn't wish to chance bringing your mother through, Gohan-sama."
"Eh. . . doomo arigatoo, Serenity-san."
"Well, then, are you all ready to go?"
"Hai!" Gokou yelled.
She laughed faintly. "Then take a deep breath and relax." She paused. "Never mind. Forget that. There may and probably will be trouble as soon as you arrive. I will try to bring you as close to where I am being held as possible. One of the soldiers who is still loyal to me, Niare, will bring you the rest of the way. And, minna-sama, doomo arigatoo gozaimasu for your help. I realize I haven't given you much choice in this."
"Shimpai shinai, Serenity-san," Gohan said softly. "We want to help."
"Speak for yourself, brat," Vejiita growled.
She laughed slightly. "Brace yourselves. Here you go."
20 March 2000
[A.N.: Well, how badly did it suck? This story is the hardest ones I've ever undertaken, so I'd really appreciate some comments, critiques, anything, though preferably not flames.]