"I'm starting to think this might've been a bad idea."
"What do you mean? It's not like you don't usually go along with my bad ideas, anyway."
"Yeah, but people look at me as the voice of your conscience, or whatever. Y'know, the reasonable one. So guess who gets in trouble if, like, your mom finds out?”
“She's been around Saiyans enough to understand that this is totally safe. Besides, Mom definitely wouldn't get mad at you. Has she ever been mad at you?”
“As your proxy, yes. But seriously, I don't think bonding time with one's five-year-old sister usually involves her jumping off the tops of trees. I'm not even sure the climbing part is safe.”
I rolled my eyes. “That's why we're here at the bottom. She's not in any danger as long as we're with her, and teaching her to fly properly is perfectly good bonding time. Besides, I've yet to see her actually get scared of anything so far.”
Goten looked up, squinting in the light that streamed through the branches, trying to spot Bulla despite the sun in his eyes. The burning yellow disk was high in the sky, and it climbed every day that midsummer drew closer. The greenery was already all in bloom, thanks to spring, and as intriguing as the surplus of colours was to me, I instinctively craved the blistering heat I'd grown up in. Everyone else seemed to prefer our current seasonal stasis of occasional rain and mild temperatures.
Four months. That's how long I'd been on this planet, and that was about how long Mom had promised our project would take.
Just as I was about to call up and ask Bulla if she was nearing the top, something blue amidst the green appeared, moving around until I could clearly see my sister's form at the crown of the tree. One of her short, thin arms waved down at us.
“I'm ready!” her small voice echoed down.
“Alright!” I said so she could hear me. “Now, just remember what we told you! Don't worry, I promise to catch you if you can't do it!”
“I can do it!” she replied. “Watch this!”
“I'm not so sure I can,” Goten muttered, wincing as Bulla readied herself, then leaped from her perch and immediately began falling through the air.
However, seconds after her launch, her path slowed and then came to a complete stop, channelling what ki she possessed to remain in the air and hold herself aloft. Unfortunately, she seemed to have a poor grasp on how to stay upright – her feet kicked towards the sky and her arms flailed, but she didn't move from place.
“See! I can do it,” she stated proudly, slowly beginning to drift towards us upside-down, her long blue hair and the legs of her overalls the only part of her obeying gravity.
“Um, good job, but... you know you're supposed to face the other way around, right? Or all the blood's going to go to your head,” I suggested.
“I can go right-side-up if I want to,” she bluffed, trying to save her self-image. “I'm doing it this way 'cause I'll be smarter with all the blood in my brain. That's why I know how to tie my shoes and you don't.”
“She has a point there,” Goten chuckled.
“Excuse you, but I can tie a perfectly functional bow knot now,” I said.
“Yeah – and it only took you, like, a hundred tries,” he mocked.
“Says the guy who can't count that high.”
“I can count that high,” Bulla interjected. “One, two, three...”
A repetitive beeping starting coming from my pocket, drawing my friend's and sister's attention.
Reaching into the left pocket of my jeans, I pulled out the ringing cellphone my mother had given me (technically the second one; I'd broken the first by accident underestimating my own grip). Oftentimes, I would forget it in my bedroom or random counter tops, as I used it only to make or receive calls and even that wasn't a common occurrence. Even so, Mom had it equipped with an excessive amount of functions, even by regular standards according to Goten.
Although, while scouters had their benefits, I didn't mind having a device I could carry around in my pocket.
The caller ID said it was Mom, so when I answered it I didn't bother to be formal.
“What's up? Bulla's fine, if you're about to ask,” I said, glancing at my sibling trying to turn herself upright while levitating.
“Good to hear, but that's not why I called,” Mom's voice came through the speaker. Then she paused. “Unless... you're letting her do something reckless?”
“Of course not. So why did you call?”
“Well, unless you've forgotten, the wedding is today and you won't be ready in time if you don't get back here.”
“Ohhhhh,” I said, then moved the receiver away a little to address Goten. “Hey 'Ten, Mom says you're going to be late for your brother's wedding and he's never going to forgive you for it.”
“We're not gonna be late. Besides, this jaunt was your idea,” he replied.
I brought the phone back to its regular place. “Don't worry Mom, we're on our way.”
“Alright then. Chi-Chi's here at Capsule Corp with Goten's stuff, so you can all come straight here.”
“Okay. See you soon, Mom.”
“Don't be too long,” she said before ending the call. I put my phone back in my pocket and turned to Goten and my sister.
“Mom says we have to start getting ready for the wedding now,” I said. We'd already been out for a few hours, and on spotting the towering grove of trees (“Look at those tree trunks, Trunks!”) I'd had the bright idea of daring Bulla to climb it and practice her flying on the way down.
Although it wasn't directly rule-breaking, with my mother's return a whole host of regulations for living on Earth came with her. Most of them were things to avoid doing, rather than what I ought to do – like no hitting things when angry; no flying where I could be seen; no climbing, especially up buildings or over fences; no cutting in lineups (because of my status I'd never had to stand in a lineup before, although I instantly hated it); no challenging rude people with hand-to-hand combat, and so on.
As a preventative measure, Mom demanded that if I went anywhere unfamiliar, Goten would have to go with me. If it was an especially questionable venture, she made Bulla go too. Hence our current bonding time, although it wasn't like she minded it; I didn't mind either to a certain point. Neither my sister or friend actually stopped me from exploring, they just made sure I didn't get into too much trouble.
“Yay! I get to wear my pretty dress!” Bulla squealed. In her excitement, her concentration broke and she would've fallen on her head if Goten hadn't been immediately next to her and caught her. She merely giggled as he turned her right-side-up and set her down.
“I'm tired now. I wanna fly back on Nimbus!” she demanded.
The strange, golden cloud in question was some sort of family heirloom that Goten had been handed down. He'd told me his father had gotten it from an old martial arts master of his a long time ago, and in turn Goten had been given it as a child to get him around before he could fly well.
When I'd first seen it, I'd instantly wanted to know how it worked, but Goten had refused to give me any details unless, for some unknown reason, I showed him that I could ride it. We were so far still at a stalemate, since I refused to dignify his absurd curiosity.
Goten called into the air, and we waited for no more than a minute when a growing speck of gold appeared against the backdrop of the blue sky, leaving a trail behind it.
As soon as the cloud came level with us, Bulla sprang up and onto the soft yellow tuft.
When Goten took to the air, the cloud followed him and I flew alongside, our group of three going along at a decent place through the warm sky – heading back to my temporary home of Capsule Corporation.
- ~ -
Though quite possibly one of the most uncomfortable things I'd ever worn, Mom insisted that the suit she'd picked out for me was perfect.
While Bulla leaped around happily in her delicate rose-pink dress, looking for all the world like a tree petal blowing on the wind, I felt awkward in my clothes, the shape of them too padded and constricting for my taste. The sole good thing was that they weren't itchy, at least.
When I said so out loud, Mom clicked her tongue at me.
“Oh, come on Trunks,” she said, putting the finishing touches on her makeup in the mirror. She wore a dark indigo dress without straps or sleeves that was about knee-length, and had her hair pinned up in a similar style to Bulla's. “It's not like you have to do this all the time. It's only for the day – and besides, you look handsome all tidied up like that.”
“Is it a trade-off for how uncomfortable I feel? There's so many unnecessary layers I feel like an onion, and it's about as tear-worthy,” I retorted. (My first encounter with the vegetable in question was one of the select few, truly miserable experiences I'd had with Earth food thanks to my keen sense of smell, right behind Goten tricking me into tasting wasabi.)
My mother heaved a long sigh at my answer. “If you aren't your father's son,” she muttered, finishing up with her cosmetics.
After we were all ready, my mother drove us to the location Videl and Gohan had chosen for their wedding. Since the only wedding I'd ever been to – my parents' – was when I was too young to remember, and marriage wasn't a Saiyan custom, I didn't have any particular expectations for the ceremony.
When we arrived, it was to an area largely outdoors, with gazebo-like structures for an open feel and vegetation flourishing everywhere both naturally and artificially placed. There were rows of seats to accommodate the guests, of which there weren't that many due to the desired personal feel of the occasion. Most of them were people I knew, excluding a select few. All the men were in suits, and all the women in dresses (Piccolo, as he was by technicality neither of these, wore his usual robes), and once everyone had arrived and was seated the event got started.
The proceedings weren't long, but simple and eloquent enough. It mostly involved an older woman presiding over Gohan and Videl, who spent much of the time smiling at each other and tearing up as they said their words of promise, and the official declared them husband and wife. Gohan took Videl's hands in both of his – the mechanical prosthetic not noticeable in the slightest – and they, both clad in pure white, grinned brighter than the sun before they kissed, and everyone clapped.
The food offered afterwards was a veritable celebration-sized buffet, and it had to be when six people with Saiyan blood were in attendance, not to mention the others there as well. A team of hired cooks had prepared it all ahead of time, so everyone was relaxed and, once satisfied, conversational. (It was also amusing to see my little sister eat nearly the same amount as my uncle.)
Since it was a nice day, the meal had been served outdoors, leaving everyone milling about on the manicured grass or at the tables. As soon as I found the opportunity after offering my congratulations to Gohan and Videl, I'd shed my overcoat and tie, leaving them draped over a chair somewhere as I relished the warm sun with lessened discomfort. Mom rolled her eyes at me, but no one else seemed to care, too busy enjoying the weather and jovial conversation with old and new friends.
Of course, the one person still missing was my father.
Our efforts to find him by sensing alone had decreased with each month that he remained incognito. Even if he had raised his energy at some point, we'd have to be looking in the right direction, and aside from a brief spark of what Goku had been sure was Father two months in, we'd had no luck.
There was one other method I'd tried to get Father's attention: telepathy.
I could use it to communicate with Gohan alright, but from my efforts it didn't seem like my father could hear me. Every so often I would do it anyway, hoping that he might respond. I wasn't sure if he knew how, but one memory of mine – when I'd been losing consciousness from blood loss, back home after defeating Broly – I'd begged with my thoughts for Father's help, and he'd arrived.
It was a slim hope, but he wasn't the only one in our family who was stubborn.
“Hey,” Goten's voice interjected.
I turned to look at him. Like me, he wore a black suit, but the design of the jacket was different and he wore a bow instead of a tie. His hair, which he'd had cropped short for months now, was brushed neatly, his bangs (the only longer part of his hair left) brushed to the side. He looked more comfortable than I was, but still not natural in the formal attire. He was taller than me since the Time Chamber.
“They have desserts out,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets.
“You know I'm not much for sweet food,” I replied.
“I guess not,” he said, “but most people don't leave the wedding party just because they don't like the food.”
“I haven't left anywhere. Just enjoying the sun with a little solitude, that's all. You're welcome to sit here with me.”
He sighed, plopping down next to me. “Four months seems like a long time, huh?”
“Two years,” I said. “Almost two years – four months out here, sixteen and a half in there. You can't blame me for being a little reticent at this point.”
“True. But I thought you'd be a little more adjusted to Earth by now. More lukewarm between one home and another.”
“I may have been born here, but Planet Vegeta is home. I suppose you being here makes Earth a little less strange, though.”
“Not sure whether that's a compliment or an insult, but I'll take it.”
“There's nothing wrong with this planet. It's beautiful. It's just... I did what I came here to do. I'm strong enough now to go back.”
“I agree. But what's a few more weeks gonna matter at this point? That's all your mom needs to get the finishing touches on the ship. I'm sure your father is just back on Planet Vegeta, trying to manage things as usual.”
“Yeah,” I finished noncommittally. Logically, if Father was home, he didn't want us there with him, or he wouldn't still be hiding his energy. But I didn't bother to say that. Instead, I let my mind wander off to other places.
Soon, Mom would be finished building the spacecraft that could return us to Planet Vegeta. I'd assisted her of course, but she was the real engineer, so though I (and others as well) helped where possible, it was all a matter of waiting for her efficient yet careful hands to craft the machine that would take us home.
- ~ -
As soon as I set foot on the tile, it was as if the spiritual energy of the place was palpable. Even though the lookout rested in the sky, it truly felt like I was at the edge of the world, nothing but blue sky and the occasional cloud surrounding the platform.
The figure that greeted us only served to increase the aura of the place.
He was like Piccolo, but also not – he was smaller, his green skin darker and heavily lined with wrinkles, and his eyes held a kindness and wisdom to them I didn't often see on a person. In one hand he held a long, wooden staff, and leaned on it a little to walk as he approached us. Behind him, a round figure with pitch-black skin watched us with large eyes, situated under a pale head-wrap of some sort.
The Namekian looked at each of us in turn, from Goku, to Gohan, to Goten, and then lastly to me, presumably the only unfamiliar face of the group.
“Welcome, Goku,” the alien said, “and to your sons as well, and to this young man.”
“Kami, this is Trunks,” Goku introduced, setting down the bag on his shoulder. “Trunks, this is Kami – he made the Dragon Balls and he watches over our planet. The lookout here is where he lives with Mr. Popo.”
I knew I was looking at the closest thing I'd probably ever see to a god, so I placed an arm over my chest and bowed deeply to the Namekian.
“I'm honoured to meet you,” I said.
“The honour is mine, young Trunks. May I ask what brings you to the lookout?” he asked.
“I'm here to ask you a favour,” I replied. “Goku told me there was a place here where I could train safely. Something... happened recently, and because of it I can't control my own strength without risking harm to other people. I want to master it and put it to good use.”
“We were wondering if he, or we, could use the Time Chamber,” Goku said. “The plan is to let Trunks go in first alone, for about a month or two until he's sure he can control his energy enough to not hurt someone by accident. Then Gohan and I were gonna go in with him for another couple months – see if we got any clues to unlocking Trunks' new form ourselves – and then Gohan was gonna switch out with Goten.”
“I see,” Kami mused. “You are free to use the Time Chamber for this. However, if there are three of you in at once, there won't be enough supplies for two years. If the first two months are only with Trunks inside, you may be able to last a total of a year and a half inside, perhaps less.”
“That seems like enough time for Trunks to master this Ascended Saiyan, yeah?” Goten asked. “I'm kinda excited to see it, even if I have to wait a month or two.”
“Technically, one year on the inside is one day on the outside. So two months is only about four hours for us,” Gohan said.
“It seems straightforward enough,” I said. At that, Kami nodded and gestured for me to follow him.
“Ah, wait – hold on a sec,” Goku interjected, causing me to hesitate. The man reached down, rusting through the bag he'd brought and then pulled out a couple sets of folded, turquoise-coloured clothes.
“We can't train in our regular stuff, so I brought us gis to wear. These ones are for you, Trunks, and there's a couple extra sets in case one or two get destroyed,” he explained, holding them out.
“Th – thank you,” I stuttered, taken off-guard as I accepted the clothes gratefully.
“I've been in the Time Chamber before, so don't worry. You can handle yourself for a month or two alone. Just remember to come out when you think you're ready, okay? There's a big hourglass and a clock inside for you to keep track of time. And don't wander too far away from the middle where the building is, or you might get lost,” he said.
I nodded, memorizing his advice for later use as I turned to follow Kami once more.
“Good luck, Trunks!” Goten said, and his brother and father echoed the sentiment as I trailed after the old Namekian, wondering what I was getting myself into.