Just a Nightmare
(Part II: Enter the Nightmare)
"So, let me get this straight," Gohan said slowly. "There's something out there that wants to do us serious harm, and the only one who can sense it is Bra?" He shook his head. "I find the credibility of an eight-year-old lacking."
She glared at him. "What does my age have to do with anything? I felt what I felt."
"We have more proof than just her word, son." Goku glanced down briefly, unsure of what to tell him. After a moment, he was encouraged by the nods of both Goten and Vegeta. "For the past few nights, your brother has been having the same nightmare over and over again. When you think about this as an individual thing, it's not really that serious. Then you factor in that Vegeta has also been having a reoccurring nightmare and we have a potentially grave situation."
"Is there room to factor me in?" Gohan asked quietly. "I started having a dream on Friday and every night since then. Videl hasn't noticed anything strange yet, but it's only a matter of time. What can I tell her?"
Vegeta gave him a 'that's a stupid question' look. "How about the truth? What is the dream about?"
"We're outside one night and I talk her into trying the bonding ritual. It's a complete failure, of course, and Videl always tells me that she wants a divorce." He tried to shrug nonchalantly, but the gesture was too stiff. "That's what forced me to try it for real; I wanted to prove my mind wrong. We all know how that turned out."
Goten stared at Trunks silently for a moment before relating his nightmare. He ended with, "It doesn't scare me as much as it did before. Tousan gave me something to think about this morning."
"Oh, Chibi," the lavender-haired young man sighed. "I wouldn't lie to you about anything. Besides, I don't really think that I can."
"What do you mean? You've lied to people hundreds of times."
Trunks gave him a look that clearly meant, 'shut up, Goten'. "I think, as soon as I lie, you would know it through the connection. If, for example, I said that the sky was orange, you would know that it wasn't true."
"I would know anyway, bond or not." Goten rolled his eyes. "You've got to do a whole lot better than that."
"Okay...." He thought for a moment. "Let's say that the fridge is almost empty and papa didn't plan on going grocery shopping for another two days. There are two pizzas in the freezer and I found them first. But then you come into the kitchen extremely hungry, as usual. I would give both of them to you."
Goku had an 'how sweet!' look on his face (because, to him, giving away food was the ultimate sacrifice) until Goten shook his head. "No, you wouldn't. Those pizzas would be in your stomach so fast, I would barely get to smell them when you took them out of the oven."
"Pardon the interruption, but what the hell does this have to do with anything?" Gohan asked. Any mention of the bond tended to make him upset. "We're here because we need to stop this new enemy, not because we want to know the benefits of the bond." He held up his hand when Goten opened his mouth to retort. "Moving on. Vegeta, what was your dream about? It may be important to solving this problem."
"Why would it be?" Trunks whispered to Goten so softly that a normal ningen would not be able to hear a sound. "Yours wasn't and neither was his. I think he's just nosy."
"He shouldn't be. Not about this."
"You know about-" He was cut off when his father began to speak.
Vegeta stared steadily across the table at his stepson. "I know that you're trying to find reasons to hate me despite the fact that Kakarotto wants us to all get along. My nightmare might just be the extra push you need."
" 'geta, you don't have to tell him. The content of the dream is irrelevant."
"Iie, it's alright." His dark eyes took on a touch of sadness that caused Goku to wince. "I murdered him, Gohan. If there's anything I fear in this world, it's that I'll lose control of myself and harm those closest to me. Apparently we all had nightmares about what we were worried about the most. In addition to the sleep we would have lost by forcing ourselves to stay awake in fear of the dream, our relationships would have been strained to the point of breaking. I've got to hand it to him; it's an good plan."
"Hai, but not quite good enough." His mate took charge knowing that they would have expected him to. "When we're able to find him, I want us to team up. Trunks and Goten, you're together. We may need Gotenks. I'm with Vegeta, of course, and Gohan does pretty well on his own. Since Bra has to lead us there, and because you really dislike getting involved, I'm putting you in charge of protecting her." He received nods of assent. "Bra-chan, can you take us to him?"
She shook her head. "I feel him, but I don't know exactly where he is. Sometimes his ki shoots up and then it's easy for me to sense him."
"Why does it do that?" Trunks asked. "I can think of a few reasons, but I hope I'm wrong."
"Strong emotions have a way of causing your ki to rise," Gohan explained. "Happiness, sadness, grief, anger, etc. Who knows what it was for him."
At the very same time, Bra and Goku frowned at looked upward toward the ceiling. "Is it the new enemy?" Goten asked. "What happened?"
"I felt a ki spike," the little girl told them. "Can you feel him now, Tousan?"
"Iie, I felt a sudden absence of ki. The ningen on this planet are like background noise to me, but now there's considerably less of it. He must have decimated the population of a pretty large city." His fists clenched automatically, as they always did when a large amount of people lost their lives unnecessarily. "C'mon, let's go."
Bra led them to the other side of the world. A few miles away from the city they could see the smoke from many fires rising upward to form a dense gray cloud in the sky. Above it all, balanced perfectly on the top of a flag pole, they saw a form shaping dark energy in its hands. The demon didn't notice the group until they were nearly upon him.
He turned and regarded them with disdain. "So you're what passes for guardians in this world? I must admit that you're not much to look at."
"Looks mean nothing," Vegeta crossed his arms and glared at the beast. "Who are you and why are you here killing people we're just going to have to wish back?"
"I am Nightmare, a chaos demon. As such a creature, it is my job to create fear and disorder." He surveyed the ruined city below him. "I haven't even worked my way up to your largest cities, but here you are. You're much faster than the people of Remnar. It took them months to realize that something was going on." He lightly tapped his chin with one sharp claw. "Hmm, maybe I should blame myself for that. I was a young demon, you see. Quite inexperienced. But I've had a long, long time to plan so nothing will defeat me this time." He grinned widely at them, wicked teeth glistening in the pale sunlight that shone through the haze. "You're welcome to try, however. I do so love a challenge."
"Don't mind if I do." With little effort, Vegeta launched himself at Nightmare and engaged him in combat. Goku just shook his head and joined him, leaving his three sons to gauge the demon's strengths and weaknesses.
Not two minutes into the fight, Gohan grabbed Bra and physically hauled her down to the ground. "If you see someone that needs help go ahead, but don't do anything stupid. Your father would murder me if something happened to you."
"He's now your father too, you know," she told him, eyebrows drawn together in a frown. "Why won't you admit it?"
"Now isn't the time to talk about this."
"When will it be?"
Silently they stared at each other until Gohan sighed and turned his head back toward the battle. "I don't have time for this now, Bra. There's evil to vanquish."
She called after him before the distance became too great. "Things will never get better if you don't let them, Gohan! Putting it off will only make it worse!" There was no sign that he'd heard her so the child could only hope.
As she settled down to watch the battle, she heard a soft mewl from somewhere nearby. Thinking that he, she, or it was in serious need of help, Bra quickly followed the sound to its source. "Oh, poor kitty," she said as she pulled away the debris covering the shaking gray and black tiger-striped kitten. "Did the bad demon scare you?" She received a meow in response and a lick on the cheek with a warm, rough tongue. She sat down against the side of a building and the small animal curled into her lap and began to purr. "I'll take you home and care for you as soon as they beat Nightmare." Based on the way the current battle was going, she had a feeling that it was going to be a very long time.
"This isn't working, 'geta. Time for Plan B."
"And what, pray tell, is Plan B?" he asked as he countered a slash from the demon's sharp claws.
"We fall back for now and come up with a good strategy." Even before he told him, he knew that it wasn't going to be well-received. "Trying to overpower him with brute force wasn't the best way to go."
"Running can be construed as fear! I am not a coward, Kakarotto!"
"Nor are you a fool. Besides, we aren't running. Not really. Let's call this a momentary pause in the fighting."
"What are they doing up there?" Trunks asked as he shielded his eyes to reduce the glare from the sun.
"I think Nightmare is wondering the same exact thing." Goten watched the demon cast a puzzled look towards the two Saiya-jin he was supposed to be engaging in battle. They'd both stopped and was staring at each other intently. Abruptly, Goku and Vegeta dropped to the ground and turned their backs to their enemy. "What's going on....?"
Vegeta glared at his lifemate. "There's been a slight change."
"What he means to say is that we're going to come up with a plan. When you fight nearly full-out for ten minutes straight, and aren't damaging the enemy, something's wrong."
Trunks covered his mouth to muffle the chuckles, but his eyes displayed his mirth. "You actually got papa to agree to a plan! It's a miracle!"
"Excuse me," Nightmare interrupted politely. "Could you let me know what's going on? If it's not very much trouble, that is."
Goku was the one to respond. "Oh, sure. We're coming up with a way to kill you. It'll just take a moment."
A low, haunting laugh echoed throughout the surrounding area. "You're only wasting your time and mine! I'm immortal, people. I can't be killed! In fact, the only reason I stopped before was because a priestess sealed me away." He smirked at him. "I doubt any of you on this planet possess that power."
Goten sighed. "He thinks right. None of us are in a deity's favor." His eyes suddenly lit up. "Except for..."
"Please don't make me deal with them again!" Gohan remembered clearly how long it took the Kaioshin of the Sword to release his hidden powers... especially since he had goofed off in the process. "That man is insane."
His brother raised his eyebrows at his outburst. "Who said I was talking about you? Tousan's the one they usually ask to save things, Gohan." The young man blushed and inwardly Goten was pleased that he'd embarrassed him.
The large Saiya-jin thought for a minute. "You three distract him while I go speak with Kaio-sama, okay? I don't want him going off to kill more people while I'm gone. Fuse if you think you need to."
"Hai, Tousan," his sons all said in unison. Gohan glared at Trunks, who only ignored him.
Goku brought Vegeta aside. "I know that this goes against everything you are, 'geta, but please don't get involved. If what he said is true, then you would only be wasting energy. If the demon killed you..." He closed his eyes as tears threatened to escape at the mere thought.
"Take me with you," the ouji said. "It's the only way we can be sure. He only has to piss me off, Kakarotto." He smirked slightly. "That's a very easy thing to do."
"Alright, grab on." He touched two fingers to his forehead. "Don't let me down, boys." He received a trio of nods in response and, a few moments later, he vanished.
Trunks nodded to Goten. "Let's do it, Chibi."
They got into position and went through the movements. "FU-SION HA!"
"Konnichi-wa, Kaio-sama!" Goku called out as he and Vegeta materialized on the spiritual plane. The round blue man was no where to be seen.
"Don't tell me we have to go look for him," the ouji grumbled. "There isn't time for that!" He turned around and tripped over Kaio-sama who was fast asleep in a lounge chair (as evidenced by the large snot bubble coming from his nose). Only Goku's hand grabbing his shirt kept him from falling.
He grinned. "I knew he was around here somewhere."
More than a little annoyed, Vegeta shook the kaio none too gently. He snorted, rolled over onto his back, and began to snore very loudly. Goku's hands flew to his mouth to cover his snickers while his mate frowned. "Do something, Kakarotto."
So Goku kneeled down beside the sleeping kaio and leaned very close to his ear. Taking a deep breath, he shouted, "WAKE UP, KAIO-SAMA! WE HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT!"
"AUGH!" he screamed in response as he sat straight up. The bubble popped as he turned to regard his one-time pupil. "Ah, Goku. Nice to see you again. Next time, though, could you please NOT WAKE ME UP LIKE THAT?!"
"Gomen nasai, Kaio-sama," he said, one hand automatically moving to the back of his head in the typical Son gesture of embarrassment. "Have you noticed what's been happening on Chikyuu lately?"
He scratched his head and yawned. "Should I have? Everything's been pretty quiet... no one's said a word."
Goku and Vegeta exchanged looks. "He can hide himself from the kaios. That can't be good."
"Why can Bra sense him? I've never noticed anything very special about her until now."
"Rewind just a tiny little bit," Kaio-sama commanded. "Who are you talking about? What's going on?!"
The larger Saiya-jin began to pace uncharacteristically. "There's a demon killing the people on Chikyuu. We didn't notice until Bra did -- she's the only one who can sense him."
"Hmm, that's new. Closest thing to a demon that you've ever had to fight was Majin Buu."
"And Piccolo Daimou. Don't forget about him."
"Hai, but I didn't know you back then." He pushed himself with effort from his seat. "We're going to see the Dai Kaio. He may have answers." Kaio-sama gave them each a look from the corners of his eyes. "I don't think that I need to remind you to be very respectful."
"Oh, we will. Won't we, Vegeta?" Goku gave him a pointed look and the prince shrugged.
"If he doesn't anger me, I won't say anything to anger him." That said, Vegeta was ready to be done with everything. "Where does this Dai Kaio live?"
Kaio-sama frowned at his lack of respect. "Farther than you've ever been allowed to go, Vegeta." He pushed himself up from his chair and motioned to them. "Follow me."
After catching the next flight to the Dai Kaio's planetoid, they walked to the palace and requested an audience with Kaio-sama's superior. They were kept waiting for two hours (during which Goku was visited by several old friends and Kaio-sama was harassed by the still-living kaios) and were very annoyed by the time the ogre assistant informed them that the Dai Kaio would see them. Vegeta gave him a glare that threatened to make him lose control of his bodily functions and strode into the marble hallway.
"Pretentious," he muttered quietly to himself. "As if he's all talk and no action." He easily dodged the blow of reprimand that was headed for his head. "Have you LOST YOUR MIND?!" he asked Kaio-sama, his voice rising with each syllable.
"Have you lost yours? I told you to have respect! Failure to do so might result in him not giving us any information at all!"
Goku turned slightly to regard them. "I would follow his directions, 'geta. I would also not try that again, Kaio-sama. Now, can we all just keep going?"
"Of course." "Whatever." They answered in unison, silently glaring at each other. Then, without anything further, they continued on.