"Gohan?" she asked softly. "Son Gohan?"
It was the woman from before, the one with the white hair and the sad eyes. She acted nervous, almost like she was afraid. Again she registered absolutely no ki, which just wasn't possible.
Behind him, his otousan stood up, and she took a step back. If she was trying to confuse the hell out of him, she was doing a very good job. She seemed to relax a bit as Gokou simply went back for more food.
Slowly he answered, "I'm Son Gohan."
Her unusually blue eyes brightened just a little. "We need your help then, Gohan-san."
"How did you know my name anyway?"
"No sense wasting what little time we have," she muttered. When she continued, she spoke more audibly. "I'm from the future. About three years in the future as far as I can tell so far; maybe more. We--"
"Who's this 'we' you keep saying?"
Her eyes darkened; apparently she didn't like being interrupted. "Myself," she grinned darkly, "and the heir to Vegitasei."
The smirk on her face grew. "Iie. Vegita's son."
She laughed as he felt his face fall. "Vegita has a son?"
All traces of mirth vanished from her face, and a frown replaced them. "Not here. The time for him to be born came and went long ago. Besides, his mother seems to be otherwise attached." She shook her head, and her hair swayed in its weird style. "That is not the point here, Gohan-san. There is an enemy coming that will completely destroy Chikyuu if all the senshi don't fight together against it. I won't let another Chikyuu die."
In an odd way, everything she said made sense, and she was so vehement. "Why did you come to me then instead of otousan?"
Her eyes widened. "Son Gokou? In all the times we've had to travel to in order to avoid this enemy, I've never met him. I have heard and read enough about him though; he's legendary. I've met a version of you before."
His senses snapped to attention; there was a large ki heading straight for them. The woman turned her head toward it and smiled. "Is that Vegita's son?"
"Hai. That's Trunks."
"Trunks," he repeated softly. That sounded more like something Bulma would name a kid, not Vegita.
A purple-haired teenager landed a few seconds later. He wasn't very tall, barely taller than the woman in fact. It was the same boy he'd seen with her at the Imperial Palace earlier. Until he saw them together, he'd assumed they were related; he could tell now that they couldn't be. The only thing they seemed to have in common were those weirdly intense blue eyes. Besides, the woman was obviously not Saiyajin; she didn't have. . .
"He still has his tail," he almost gasped, trying to maintain a calm face.
Trunks looked at him briefly. "Of course, Gohan-san. Obasan, they're on their way."
"Already?" She turned back to Gohan. "Can we count on your help, Gohan-san?"
"Yes," he agreed. "We'll help, Miss--"
Trunks shook his head and pointed his thumb over his left shoulder. "No time, obasan," he declared. The blue uniforms of the royal guard were coming into view.
The woman nodded. "You're right, aino-chan. Gohan-san, can you meet us somewhere later?"
Her anxiousness was catching. "Sure. Where? When?"
She glanced back over her shoulder. "How about," she looked around, "the Imperial Gardens at six? You show me your warriors, and I'll show you mine."
She and the boy turned and almost literally disappeared into the crowd, Trunks's
ki dwindling down almost as low as Bulma's.
"Usagi!" Rei screamed. Serenity stopped and looked over her shoulder at her. "Where did you go?"
"To see someone about accomplishing why I'm here."
Rei looked like she'd been slapped. "Usagi, when this is over and we've defeated Chaos--"
"If we defeat Chaos. We're a few Senshi short."
"--will you leave us again?"
Serenity was still. "I don't know, Rei-chan," she finally offered. "I would like to, demo. . . I want to be sure before I commit to anything. Okay?"
"I guess it'll have to be."
"Good." She looked around. "Can you get all the Sailor Senshi up and meet me in the Imperial Gardens before six, please?"
"Of course. You might want to change into the dress Setsuna-san left you."
"Of course." With a small sigh, she went upstairs to change. Twenty minutes later, Neo Queen Serenity came down the staircase, an almost pained look on her face.
"Obasan?" Trunks asked gently, getting up off the step he'd been sitting on as soon as she came near him. "Are you all right?"
She smiled affectionately. "Of course, I am, musuko-chan." She gestured at the dress. "I'm just too old to run around dressed as my mother."
That drew a chuckle from him and the almost permanent scowl lifted a little, then it settled back into place. "You're worried about something."
"You know me too well. The truth be told, I'd be happier if we had all the Sailor Senshi for this fight."
"Sailor Gemini." She'd made a big impression on both of them. "Can we fight without her?"
"I don't think we have too much choice. We can't afford to keep teleporting; it always attracts Chaos's attention."
"That's why it finds us quicker each time," he summarized.
She nodded. "At least we have Gohan-tachi, ne?"
"Are you going to meet him dressed like that?"
"Trunks!" Neither of them could really help it and started laughing. "Iie. If at all possible, I'm going to get back into my clothes. This itches."
"Okaasan," ChibiUsa whispered from the doorway. "Okaasan, Ami-san wants to announce to the kingdom that you're back."
"Iie!" Trunks almost yelled.
"Not until we meet with the other senshi, at least, okay?" Serenity continued.
"Other senshi? There are more Sailor Senshi?"
"There are the constellation senshi and more star senshi, but those aren't the senshi I meant."
"The Saiyajins you told us about?" she asked in a small voice.
Serenity nodded. "I think we count on Gohan-san and Gokou-san and whoever they bring with them. I hope we can expect Vegita-ouji as well."
"Hai," Trunks agreed. "He's my tousan."
"You're a prince too then?"
"Of course," he quipped. "Couldn't you tell?"
Serenity dropped her face in her hand. "Knock it off, you two. Trunks-chan, do you think we can expect Vegita-san?"
"Hai, even if it's only to prove he's--"
"I know. 'Better than Kakaroto.' ChibiUsa-chan, has anyone called the Starlights yet?"
She nodded. "They're on their way here. They should be here by five."
"Good. We'll need them too."
"Okaasan," ChibiUsa asked, her voice small once more, "do you think we'll make it out of this?"
Serenity hugged the young woman, and Trunks placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "We'll win," he stated.
Serenity smiled at both of them. "We have hope, and we believe. Of course
Four brilliant lights touched the ground shortly after five. "Fighter!" Healer called as sooner as the woman in leather took off running into the palace, black hair streaming behind her.
She turned a corner and literally ran into another woman. The young man the other had been waking with caught her before she could hit the ground, and Fighter only barely caught herself. "Daijoubu, Fighter?" another of the woman's companions, ChibiUsa, asked.
"You know this person?" the purple-haired young man asked.
"Of course I do, Trunks. It's Seiya."
"Usagi?" The hair was wrong, but that was Usagi's voice, Usagi's face, Usagi's eyes--but not quite. Usagi's eyes never looked so troubled, so. . . old. She looked closer at the face; Usagi's crescent moon was replaced by an eight-pointed star.
The woman laughed. "You don't look quite so tall from this angle, Fighter, Healer, Maker."
"What do you mean?" Maker asked, a confused expression on her face.
"The last time I saw you, Starlights, I was this tall." She gestured about three feet off the ground.
"ChibiChibi," Healer whispered. "You're ChibiChibi."
"And Usagi and Neo Queen Serenity, all in one." She shook one finger at them, grinning. "I bet if you'd known that, you would have been a lot nicer to me, ne?"
"You told me you went to the past once," Trunks commented, "but as a kid?"
"Aino-chan, I couldn't have very well gone back like this, could I? I'm too recognizable."
"True. I just can't picture you as a little kid, obasan."
She smiled at him and nodded. "A little kid with red hair. ChibiChibi."
"You've changed a lot, Usagi," Fighter slowly commented.
"Not that much, Seiya-kun."
"'Kun'?" Trunks asked.
Serenity laughed, almost giggling. "That is a very, very long story, aino-chan. Seiya-kun, can we count on your help against this enemy, no matter what happens?" she continued, suddenly serious once more.
"Hai. You can always count on me, Usagi, odango."
She smiled sadly. "Healer? Maker? You as well?"
Maker nodded once slowly. "Of course, Your Majesty."
"I'll be pleased to fight by your side once more, Neo Queen Serenity," the red-haired woman answered, smiling beautifully.
"Although," Healer commented, "technically, it should be Neo
Neo Queen Serenity."
The Imperial Gardens could best be described in a single word: a maze. Gohan chuckled to himself as he turned yet another corner; maybe they should have just flown after all.
"Gohan-san?" a voice asked from very near him. A very weak ki on the other side of the wall flared, and Trunks came over it to land beside him.
"Trunks," he greeted the young man. "Where's--"
"Obasan sends her apologies. She said she forgot how confusing this place can be."
"No kidding," Gohan's father commented.
Trunks grinned brightly and stepped up to the taller man. "Gokou-sama, it's a pleasure to finally meet you. You were a legend in mine and obasan's time."
"Were?" Kulilyn asked very softly.
A very Vegita-like scowl settled on Trunks's face. "I'll let obasan explain. She's this way," he said, rising silently up in the air over the high hedge wall.
Gohan and Goten exchanged shrugs, and then one by one they all followed the young man with the sword. "Ne, Trunks," Goten asked, flying a little faster to catch up, "when did you come from?"
"Who are you?"
"I'm from a little while into the future. That's about how my obasan figures it."
"And we're all dead there?"
"I've never heard of you before. I don't think you were even born in my world. There they are." He slowed down and set down on the ground near a group of strangely-clad women.
"Trunks-kun!" the girl with the unbelievably pink hair called. "Are these them?"
He nodded. "They are, ChibiUsa-chan."
"Oniisan, oniisan," Goten whispered, tapping Gohan's arm.
"What?" he answered softly.
"Is it just me, or does that lady have wings?" he asked, nodding towards a woman in the far corner of the box-like center of the garden.
Gohan glanced briefly at her--then stopped and looked again. Okay, so she did look like she had tattered, teal wings. She wore a golden and white dress that hugged her body almost to the point of indecency. She was facing away from him, talking to a woman with long black hair, but there was something familiar about her. And she had gleaming white hair that seemed to keep on going forever.
As she slowly turned around, a gold and pink tiara with a red stone in her hair caught the light. There was a star on her forehead. Her eyes skimmed over Yamucha, Kulilyn, Tien, Chaozu, Goten, and Gokou without registering much of anything, besides a little confusion at Goten. Then those weirdly blue eyes settled on Gohan, and she smiled sadly. "I'm glad all of you could make it," Neo Queen Serenity began.
22 December 1999
Well, how bad does it suck? I'm sorry it took so long for me to get it out; procrastination is a bad thing. Things only get better from here.