"This is terrible," Kuririn muttered.
Goku crouched on his knees, hand clamped tightly over his chest, head bent. He gasped for breath, so loudly even Chiyo could hear him from several feet away.
He pitched forwards and only just managed to stop himself from falling.
"Dad!" Gohan cried, and made to move forward.
"St-stay!" Goku said, lifting his head with effort. "Both of you!"
"Don't do it," Kuririn warned. "Your dad is still in charge and we can't intervene until he says so."
Gohan and Chiyo exchanged a glance, then stared at Goku. Chiyo was the first to look away. A painful lump rose in her throat; she swallowed hard and remembered what her father had told her before they left for the island.
"Are you nervous?" Goku asked as he watched her stretch in the dawn light.
Chiyo shook her head, bending to touch her toes.
"A little. Maybe." She held up her thumb and forefinger. "This much."
"Come here," Goku said, and she ran towards him, laughing when he tossed her into the air. "Now, you gotta listen to me for a bit. Okay?"
He told her about the Z fighters and what he knew about the Androids, stressing that it was not a game; that there were bad people who would hurt her if she wasn't careful.
"And finally," Goku said. "You need to promise me that if any of the other fighters tell you to do something, you do it."
"And Gohan, too."
"And most importantly," he said, and clasped her shoulder. "If I tell you to run, or to hide, or to not fight, you need to listen. Even if Papa gets hurt. Okay? Promise me you will."
"Pinky swear," Chiyo said, grinning. "That means I can't break it no matter what."
Suddenly, Nineteen's eyes glowed and twin chi beams shot from them; the same chi beams his companion had used on the island. Goku shot upwards to avoid the blasts - the fat Android followed. He landed a damaging punch and a kick on Goku before slamming both clenched fists into his gut. He fell, skidding on the rocky ground.
"It is his heart!" Gohan said.
Kuririn frowned. "But why? Why didn't the medicine heal him?!"
"Papa's never been sick," Chiyo repeated, determined to be a part of the conversation.
"Yeah, she's right. He never got sick. He was healthy the whole time, so he never took the medicine."
"I'm sure that's it," Gohan said grimly. "He needs to have the medicine, but it's at home. So we have to go home to get it."
"How d'you know we even have it?" Chiyo asked.
"The boy from the future gave it to your dad so he wouldn't die from the virus," Kuririn explained.
"Die?" Chiyo squeaked. "What - Gohan! He's not gonna -"
A sudden explosion of dust and rock interrupted their conversation - Nineteen knocked Goku into the ground with an especially hard blow, and this time he didn't get back up. The blonde faded from his hair and beneath the tightly closed eyelids, his eyes darkened.
"He – he can't even stay as a Super Saiyan anymore!" Yamcha gasped.
Chiyo watched, horrified, as Nineteen slammed a foot into Goku's chest. He coughed up blood, gasping in pain, and the Android seized him by the throat. His chi began to drain.
"Curse it," Piccolo growled. "His energy…!"
Piccolo leapt forward; seconds later the rest of the group followed suit, including Chiyo. Heart in her mouth, she raced with all her speed towards Goku.
They hadn't gotten far when Twenty appeared, forcing Piccolo to stop abruptly, and the others with him.
"You won't be going an inch past me," the Android said. "But you can try if you want."
Piccolo smirked. "I will!"
He lunged, throwing his weight behind a punch - but Twenty's eye beams hit him in the chest, and he fell with a grunt of pain.
"Piccolo!" Gohan cried. He dropped to the ground and bent over him, shaking his shoulder.
"Go to hell!" Kuririn swore at the Android, clenching his fists.
"What Piccolo did just now wasn't courage," Twenty snapped. "It was stupidity."
He was only trying to help Papa.
Chiyo clenched her fists together until her fingers began to ache, and her gaze darted between Twenty and Piccolo's still form.
She had to do something! Even if Papa said not to, even if Twenty was stronger than she could ever imagine, even if - she closed her eyes as the anger rose in her chest, and felt Kuririn's hand on her arm.
"Don't," he said. "We don't need more casualties."
"I don't care," Chiyo said, and shook him off. "I can distract him. I have to do something!"
She released her chi, clenching her teeth at the uncomfortable sensation, and saw Twenty's eyes begin to glow -
Then behind the Androids there was a sudden flare of chi, the sound of a foot hitting flesh, and the sound of Nineteen's grunt of surprise.
Standing over Goku was a man, dark-haired and dark-eyed. He wore a blue suit of some skin-tight material and a strange covering strapped over his chest.
"I'm the one who's going to defeat Kakarrot," he said, smirking. "I won't lose my revenge to a bunch of cheap toys!"
"Vegeta!" Kuririn exclaimed, eyes wide in surprise.
"Who's Kakarrot?" Chiyo asked Kuririn.
"Vegeta!" Piccolo growled, sitting upright.
"Piccolo!" Gohan cried, a smile spreading over his face. "You're okay!"
"Just when I had distracted them from Goku with my 'defeat'," Piccolo rumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. "Blasted Vegeta just has to butt in."
"I don't care how strong they are. It'll take more than that to bring me down."
The man called Vegeta stared down at Goku, his arms crossed, an expression of contempt on his face.
"I saw everything," he said. "You noticed the anomaly in your body – but you turned into a Super Saiyan anyway! You fool! You knew it would only put more strain on your heart." He scowled. "My target has always been you, Kakarrot." He kicked the Saiyan hard enough to send him flying.
Piccolo caught Goku in mid-air with an outstretched hand and set him down. The others landed and rushed over.
"He's barely holding on," Tenshinhan said, bending over the unconscious Saiyan.
"Dad," Gohan murmured. He began to pull Goku over his shoulder. "He's unconscious, but he's still breathing."
"Someone drag him home," Vegeta snapped impatiently, "and give him his medicine!"
"Come on, you're going to be okay," Gohan said, his dark head bent over Goku's. "We'll take you home." He shot Chiyo a glance, and she knew that we was meant to include her, too. Stifling disappointment, she began to sling her father's limp arm over her shoulder.
"Hey - " Yamcha gripped Gohan's shoulder. "No. I'll go."
Gohan and Chiyo glanced at him quizzically.
"I seem to be the least useful here," the fighter added, with a wry smile. "At least I can get Goku home and give him the medicine."
"He said this disease is caused by a virus," Piccolo said. "It might be contagious, so you should take the medicine too."
"Thanks, Yamcha," Gohan said as Yamcha slung Goku over one shoulder. "Take care."
"Right. Stay alive until we get back."
Chiyo stared into the sky for a long time after Yamcha left. The day had not gone one bit like it should have. The Androids should be dead or...or however a robot died. And they should all be on their way home. Not standing out here watching a strange man square off with the Androids while her father was being carried home, unconscious and probably dying from a virus.
She bit her lip and lowered her head to conceal the sudden tears that welled in her eyes. She hoped Yamcha would fly home fast enough. Mama would know what to do.
"Events may not turn out as our visitor said," Piccolo rumbled, jolting Chiyo out of her thoughts. "The timing of Goku's illness was very different. He's probably changed the course of history in subtle ways."
"What do you mean?" Chiyo asked.
"Three years ago a man came from the future," Gohan told her. "He told us that three years from then - which is today - two Androids would come here and kill everyone except for me and you." Seeing Chiyo's white face he added, "but we've been training, so we're prepared for them, see? In that guy's future we didn't know they were coming, so a lot of people died. But we're still alive, so we'll be okay."
"Are you sure?" she whispered, face ashen.
Gohan began to reply, but Vegeta cut across him.
"I know from my limited observations of your actions that your legends far outstrip your realities," he informed Nineteen, his voice booming across the dry landscape. "The palms of your hands…they seem to draw in life force. I need to watch those."
"You say you were watching the whole time," Nineteen replied, "but you missed the part that mattered. We know your capabilities, Vegeta."
"You seem awfully surprised when Kakarrot became a Super Saiyan. You thought your mathematical projections would tell you all you needed to know."
"Who's Kakarrot?" Chiyo asked again, squinting at the Saiyan.
"It is what Vegeta calls your father," Piccolo snapped. "Pay attention and you'll find out these answers for yourself."
Chiyo turned back to the stand-off. Nineteen seemed hesitant to attack, even though they had been cocky enough with her father. She wondered what Vegeta had up his sleeve.
"You know some of my moves," Nineteen replied, "but I know all of yours, Vegeta. Oh, yes...the great Dr Gero studied you very carefully."
Vegeta's smirk widened. "We Saiyans can't be reduced to numbers."
Vegeta clenched his gloved fists. "I'm curious…if Androids can feel fear!"
Then Vegeta's chi surged, higher than anything Chiyo had ever felt; higher than even her father's had earlier. Veins began to bulge from his forehead and his eyes glowed.
Chiyo stared at him in disbelief. She was not the only one - the others were exclaiming in awe as the ground cracked beneath the Saiyan's feet and his hair began to lighten.
"Shit!" Kuririn shouted. "I don't believe it!"
Vegeta screamed, and a golden aura exploded from him, or what could be seen of him - his chi had created a seven foot crater in the ground.
"He looks like Papa," Chiyo murmured.
Gohan nodded, his arm thrown up to shield his face from dust and flying rocks. "I guess he's a Super Saiyan too," he said.
"No way!," Kuririn shouted. "Why is he a S-Super Saiyan? I thought you had to have a pure heart…!"
"My heart is pure – pure evil!"
Vegeta rose out of the crater, arms folded. The light had turned his skin deathly pale, throwing his golden hair and green eyes into sharp contrast.
"I desired nothing but to be stronger," he said, landing neatly on the edge of the crater. "I endured training from hell. Then I ran into a wall – my own limits. In the rage I felt towards myself, I awoke – into a Super Saiyan!"