Once Upon A Time In The City Of South City
A BatB/DragonBallZ Crossover
“They Both Wake Up And See...”
Their napping was both refreshing and much needed. To Goku and Piccolo, it didn’t matter whether it was ten minutes or ten days; they needed all the sleep they could get. Actually, they had slept another seven hours; but their sense of time was lost, partly due to their surroundings, and partly due to the needs of their battered bodies to heal.
The growling purring stranger had physically visited them several times, checking up on their sleep and other needs. They were not aware of his presence during the very moments when he was with them in person; but some times after he had stepped out of the infirmary room, and before he had stepped back in for another check-up, they usually dreamt about him. Thus when he was not physically with them he was with them in spirit (or at least an abstract or amorphous or distorted image of him, based on the catlike sounds he tended to make), providing some strange sort of solace during those nightmares they were having, the chaotic muddle of images: visual images of enemies both known and unknown, sound images including the basso-profundo voice of some fellow named Paracelsus, the mention of----what was that?!----a Ten-Thousand-Year Dragon?!--and the tactile imageries of feeling weakened by the Ki-Drainers and of the intense burning pain of the enemies’ knives. All those wild and terrifying imageries, including the painful sensations of the knives’ searing first touches! Then came afterwards, some very welcome images to alleviate their discomfort from the painful imagery, including the soothing voice of the growling, purring stranger; a stranger whose melodic whispers were the right music to calm both Goku’s and Piccolo’s savagely fear-tortured minds, at least partway.
For some reason, the sound of his voice would appear in their dreams and give them much-needed comfort; and there was something to be said about the gentleness of his touch and the kind manner in which he had fed them the soup. Any imagery of him would be comforting: auditory, tactile, the way he smelled.... they all gave much-needed solace.... even any visual imagery of him, something that their unconscious minds were not able to generate, because they had never seen him very clearly.... yet...
Yes, they missed their families, the Z-Team families; but at the moment, the kindly stranger was all they needed in their present predicament.
Meanwhile, in a library portion of the underground village (“underground” in both physical and cultural senses), Vincent was arguing with his older brother, who several decades ago had become a physician, Dr. Devin Welles, M.D.
(So far, Devin had lived a very long life, partially because of factors he cannot control, and partially because of factors that he can. Yet, he was not as well-preserved as Vincent, who appeared to be about forty at youngest or fifty at oldest, with the trim athletic physique resembling that of a full-time professional swimmer; for the leonine younger brother had a very extraordinary genetic endowment, either unique or possibly the first of his kind or the member of some unknown race).
“But of course I had to take them into our home, Devin! Wouldn’t you have done the same?”
“Vincent, those two are very strong, athletic-looking men. A public hospital would have been good enough.”
“How do you know that? Something had overpowered them and viciously knifed-apart their skin. If they were strong as D.C. Comics’ Superman, then whoever savaged them was probably stronger still, or at least had the proper deadly weapons to harm these two. Also, the police are not always helpful, and the Topside world has failed and betrayed us many times, Devin. Both of us have had very miserable experiences Above.”
“Sometimes, Vincent, I just don’t understand you. You don’t want to be seen in the daytime; you walk about under the cover of darkness while wearing a cloak for extra cover; you do all you can to keep the Secret Place a secret; and then you pull this stunt by dragging a couple of strangers down here from Central Park, when, in my opinion, you could have just as easily left them in the emergency room of a hospital.”
“Devin, I would need to walk into the hospital in order to put leave them in the emergency room, and then meet lots of strangers who work there face-to-face in bright light, in a very impersonal system. Or, do you recommend I leave them at the entryway, and hope that someone might take care of them in time, albeit with myself coldly watching them from a distance? I’ve done that once before, didn’t like doing it, and I’ll never forgive myself for being that aloof! Don’t expect me to do that again to anyone, except maybe Mitch or to similar people whom I know are deadly poison!”
“Well, forget about the question over whether someone may be poison, and consider this other angle you need to consider, Vincent: They probably have relatives. Catherine had relatives, and eventually her mysterious disappearance was broadcasted in the major newspapers. I’m afraid that can happen, again. If these two men are proclaimed missing, then there might be a search, and then the Secret Place would be in serious jeopardy.”
“Have we seen any such articles in the newspapers? Are there any signs that we are dealing with the members of any rich or powerful families who might easily be hostile to us? Do you think the families of these two men might be mortal enemies of the Secret Place? Perhaps we are doing the families a favor, and they’d appreciate it later on. Think on it, Devin. I don’t want to abandon innocent strangers to a corrupt and impersonal system, when I can show them the Secret Place. My statement is true whether both live alone or if they have any sort of families. Only someone as vile as Mitch should be left at the doorstep of some hospital, because we know what he had done no longer deserves the comforts of friends or of family. It is probable that our two guests had done nothing wrong, so let’s treat them as innocent as long as they do no harm; and they probably won’t.”
“Okay, Vincent: while it is true that we have seen no article in the newspaper about them; yet, we don’t want the Secret Place to be revealed, if a newspaper article should eventually surface. You of all should understand that risk the most,” Devin replied.
Vincent winced a little at the innuendo that Devin had just uttered. Of course he knew the risk! Why did Devin remind him? “Most probably, the Secret Place won’t be revealed, and I’d much rather take the risk of being revealed by doing what I did than by taking the easy way out; which I only do with someone who had several times taken the easy way out with us, or had used us as an easy way out,” Vincent thoughtfully answered, being both gentle and adamant, yet also namelessly referring to Mitch Denton.
Devin fully understood what Vincent meant when he said that he would only be so cold to the likes of Mitch Denton. Devin knew the betrayals of any system of society or of justice that had been corrupted by the deceptions and gambits of fellows such as Mitch. Decades ago, when he was very young, he had been framed for at least one or two juvenile crimes, and Father had scrape-goated him, when the actual culprit was a very malicious little pig named Mitch. Devin fully understood the selective coldness that would allow Vincent to leave someone such as Mitch at the entryway of a hospital; but strangers, on the other hand, got a much warmer treatment, because they were innocent until proven guilty. Devin also understood what Vincent meant by denouncing Mitch’s taking “the easy way out with us” (Mitch’s mistreatment of the people of the Secret Place).
Mitch had always been very good at the Easy Way Out, always from childhood finding ways to both eat his cake and later on have it, too. There were even times, as Mitch grew bigger, that he had on several occasions committed crimes (some of them unusually atrocious, to embarrass most felons) and then had tried to use the Secret Place to hide from the Topsider justice system, until eventually someone found out his real motives for “visiting” them, and from that point onward he was permanently denied entry. Mitch, as a master of the Easy Way Out, knew how to either corrupt the local social or justice systems (both Secret Place and Topside), or evade them when he cannot manipulate or modify them to his liking. Rumors had been circulating around the Secret Place, especially among Helpers and Secret Place denizens who liked to go out a lot, that Mitch had earned the nickname “Bitch”, while in the “Grey Bar Hotel”, from his well-earned reputation of conniving, underhanded tactics.... Yet, that tale about his new nickname was only a rumor, albeit with greater truth, value and plausibility than the average rumor.
“Okay, Vincent, I see what you mean. Those two are perfect strangers, and therefore innocent until proven guilty. Don’t worry, I won’t give them the Mitch Denton Treatment, now that I know that they deserve better. They can stay here for a while, at least until they get healthy enough to no longer need any further care,” Devin answered sympathetically.
“Thank you, Devin,” Vincent answered with a gentle smile. Like most of Vincent’s other smiles, it was slight and subtle, sincere and gentle, and was like a sunrise to end a cold dark night. Vincent’s smiles were truly enjoyable and inimitable.
Devin grinned back, trying to make a smile that came close to Vincent’s smile, and actually succeeded for once at conveying such refreshing warmth.
Meanwhile, the Z-team families were getting very concerned about the whereabouts of Goku and Piccolo, and how they were doing. Chi-Chi and Bulma were particularly upset, as also was Gohan. Those three had particular reasons to be either upset or at least concerned. The other members of the Z-Team also were very uncomfortable with their friends’ mysterious disappearance. They were also painfully aware that whoever was strong enough to fell both Goku and Piccolo, was obviously too strong for the police, especially the local police; if, in fact, the attacker(s) weren’t the police. (A darker fear loomed in their minds, that perhaps the vicious persons who had attacked Goku and Piccolo either were the New York City police, or had the NYPD on their sides...?) Master Roshi tried to find reasons to believe that there were no kidnapping or attack or any other wrong occurring, making himself the one token officially pathetic, farcically extreme optimist in the bunch.
“Of course, this is not the first time that they have gone off and disappeared and stayed away for a longer period of time than planned,” Master Roshi observed. “Remember, I was Goku’s instructor in the martial arts, for many years, so I know him well, probably much better than most of you ever could,” Roshi boasted, braving the angry glares from most of the others (especially Goku’s wife), “Goku has been off for much longer periods of time, and on other planets, Planet Namek and Planet Yardrat, remember? He had sometimes even fought the likes of Furiza! How could this be any worse? What could happen on Earth that can top what he and Piccolo had already faced on those other planets?”
Gohan, Goku’s son, chimed in, “You seem to forget about the Black Water Mist, and that happened here, on Earth, not on Yardrat; besides, Yardrat is a peaceful planet. And, don’t you remember that Furiza and his father, King Kold, eventually followed Dad by space-ship, all the way down to Earth? Dad might have technically won that fight with Furiza and Kold, thanks to Trunks’s intervention; but without Trunks, it might well have been a stale mate, to could easily have injured Dad to such an extent that either he would have lost several decades of living, or would have even died within six months afterward. Don’t think for one moment that people or things too dangerous for Dad or Piccolo to survive would never touch Earth: extremely dangerous, possibly unsurvivable things have come to Earth, and can come to Earth again!”
“You’re sure keeping up the spirits! Where’s your optimism?” Roshi rebuked a rather observant Gohan.
“I’m trying to be realistic,” Gohan said. “So, where’s your sister, the famous Urusai Babba? She might be able to find out what goes on. Also, I’m beginning to reconsider my position about letting the local authorities know about a couple of missing persons. Yet, it doesn’t look good: did any of you see the local paper about what is happening to the current District Attorney?”
“I have,” Chi-Chi, Goku’s wife and Gohan’s mother said. She lifted the recent newspaper off of the coffee table of the large low-cost hotel room that the Z-Team was sharing. She gave it to Gohan and said, “Pass it around so the others can see.” And that he did, and everybody got to read at least some of the headline-news article about the recent scandal in the D.A:
“DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOSEPH MAXWELL THE FIFTH CONVICTED FOR FIVE FELONY COUNTS OF CORRUPTION”
“ You can always count on low life to sooner or later occupy high places,’ said the prosecuting attorney, referring to the ancient scandals of some previous D.A.s before the Maxwells had become a District Attorney dynasty....” [and people mentioned in the news article also had very bad things to say about the accused; even the court judge did not seem emotionally detached and his comments were quoted in the article as], “....his ancestor, the original D.A. Joe Maxwell, would probably be spinning in his grave with shame, right now. The original Joe Maxwell had twice said, and on separate occasions, that a lawyer with a mud-splattered or blood-splattered coat will always be remembered for the condition of his coat. The original Maxwell’s descendant had succeeded in splattering his own coat.”
Everyone saw the newspaper article, including what had happened to the D.A. who was a fifth-generation in a line of D.A.s.
“Now, suppose he were actually guilty,” said Gohan, “Then we know that the powers that be in this city can still be incredibly corrupt. In fact, they do have a recorded history of corruption, including the occasional necessary sting on judges who take bribes, or the Black-Robed Wall of Silence And Conspiracy, which parallels police corruption, or the Blue Wall of Silence. New York City seems to have even more of that than South City! Also, suppose that Joe Maxwell the Fifth were innocent, then this town is infested with various powers, mostly criminal and/or political powers, who can take him down by besmirching his name, or as his namesake ancestor had once said, ‘splatter’ his ‘coat’.”
Goten, Gohan’s younger brother, interrupted, “But how can a man as good as the original Joe Maxwell spawn a descendant as evil as Joe the Fifth, if in fact Joe the Fifth had done such corrupt acts?”
Gohan answered, “It’s called ‘Free Will’, little brother, ‘Free Will’. Saints sometimes have thorough rotters for their progeny, and rotters sometimes have saints for their offspring. Your parents’ levels of goodness and/or evil will not necessarily determine your own levels. Remember that the Piccolo we know is the son of a very evil man, King Piccolo Dai-maou....”
Gohan continued, “And that leads to a second point: most of the world do not know that King Piccolo Dai-maou is dead, and our Piccolo looks a lot like him, especially from a distance. Dai-maou had so terrorized villages and cities and nations all over the world, that he had acquired the very nickname ‘Dai-maou’, or ‘Demon-King’. People still hate him, and if they found out of our Piccolo’s misfortune, they just might: (a) laugh at his bad luck; (b) accuse us of harboring a criminal and assume that we were criminals, just like Dai-maou, and possibly even attempt to punish us; (c) display a very lukewarm response to what had happened, pretending to want to help, but actually wasting everyone’s time, both ours and their own--and that is if they respond or react at all; maybe they’ll be too apathetic to respond--or, it could be (d) a combination of all those bad things. Also, we don’t want any sworn enemies of Piccolo, good or bad, or any sworn enemies of our Dad, to know of our whereabouts in North America, or that a couple of our champions have been overpowered and therefore not available to protect their own families from kidnapping. I think that the only thing we can do right now would to keep a very low profile. Also, and I don’t like having to resort to this: if anyone asks us about what happened to Dad or Piccolo or any of our loved ones, we are to deny that anything bad might be happening. If anyone asks; then tell them that our loved ones were just going off for a good while. I hate lies, especially lies from my own mouth; but we can’t let preventable danger befall Dad or Piccolo or ourselves. Understood?”
The rest of the Z-Team agreed with Gohan’s advice, sadly and reluctantly. The vote was taken, with the result: a unanimous decision to not tell the police nor the local newspapers nor any private investigators about Goku or Piccolo as missing persons, but instead, maintain the story that Goku and Piccolo are off hiking somewhere that the rest of them didn’t really care to go. Also, there was a more positive step: they all agreed to send out their own little search teams; yet the logistics of that step were still debated, as while most of the women were asked to stay home to guard most of the children and old men. There was a hot quarrel between Chi-Chi and Bulma as to who would baby-sit the children and old men (actually one: Master Roshi, and to those who ever knew him, he’s an infamously lecherous old man), as neither woman wished to be in Roshi’s company.
“But I’m Chi-Chi, the strongest woman in the world! I should be out and about looking for my husband Goku and his friend Piccolo!”
“Don’t you remember that I have known Goku since he was about ten or younger? He’s like a little brother to me, and we have been helping each other out, since! I should be out looking for Goku and Piccolo! Besides, maybe Gohan’s woman Videl can help you avoid Roshi’s advances....?!”
“Awgh! What ever did you mean by that comment?! Are you trying to say that I’m no longer the strongest woman in the world, and that now I need Videl to keep Roshi at a distance from me?!”
“No, Chi-Chi, I meant----”
“Oh, I see, you meant that Videl, whom I think is the perfect match for my son Gohan, is too weak to be out on patrol at my side, looking for Goku and Picc----”
“Maybe we women can help the men look for Goku and Piccolo, in shifts,” the frighteningly attractive blonde woman, Andrea 18 (AKA “Android 18” and “Cyborg 18”) said in a knick of time, terminating what might have otherwise become the perfect verbal cat-fight between Chi-Chi and Bulma.
“Oh, damn!” Roshi said, angry at Andrea 18 for her having terminated the cat-fight; and angry that he, the weak, pathetic, dirty old man, was not allowed to go looking for Goku and Piccolo with the men and women. “Why can’t I go with?”
“Because you’re a weak, pathetic old coot who can’t even free yourself from the imprisonment of a wet paper bag; and you harass women. Every time I have seen you reading something, except for the occasional newspapers, it came complete with illustrations: *pornographic* illustrations! And some people call ***ME*** a ‘pig’!!!!” said Oolong, the mutant talking pig. (The world has been a very strange place, ever since the Great Mutation, in which people had acquired unusual hair colors; and lots of animals had acquired the powers of speech, reasoning, and bipedal locomotion.)
“He doesn’t harass me,” Babba said, appearing in a poof of smoke, a tiny and somewhat physically repulsive woman, about three feet in height, in a steretypical ‘witch’ outfit riding atop her favorite floating foot-diameter crystal ball. (She looked like the classic Halloween-decoration witch; but with a bizarre hair-color, either magenta or a bright mauve, that can be attributed to hair dye, magic, The Great Mutation, or even some sort of ancient mutation in the family that pre-dated the well-known worldwide Mutation called ‘Great’ for its covering the whole planet.)
“Of course Roshi doesn’t harass you,” Oolong answered, “because you are his sister, and.... er, you are his sister,” Oolong said with a frightened and embarrassed smile, biting his tongue in mid-sentence so as to not say what he really wanted to say to the witchy old Uranai, or was that Usanai, or was that Urusai?.... Babba. Oolong continued, “Can you contact King Yamma?”
Babba replied, “Just did! Yamma said that Goku and Piccolo are both in a secluded area, a forgotten place kept secret by some sort of covenant made a few decades ago with both Heaven and Earth and all that lives in this world. The nature of the covenant was that the place were to exist to help people in extremes of difficulty, and to help those live well for whom living reasonably well would otherwise be impossible; in returns for the place’s kindness and usefulness, Heaven and Earth and their guardians had made a promise to protect the secret. Several people were there to witness the making of that covenant, including a Haitian woman named Narcissa and a man named Jacob Welles, shortly before he died; and the Grand Kai and Mr. Popo were also a witnesses to the pact, as the Earth guardian Kami was not able at the time to be there in person. Yamma’s not telling me the location of that place; and he tells me to tell you: don’t come looking for Goku or Piccolo for at least two weeks. They are in good hands, and they need to get their strength back. Essentially, they’re okay, so no fussing, or you’ll make it worse for everyone, both them and yourselves.”
The hotel room was filled with mixed feelings, both great happiness for Goku and Piccolo; yet they were also moaning and groaning that they were not needed, but in a few minutes, everyone quieted down, accepting the fact that they were useless for the next two weeks and reminding themselves that vacations are meant to be enjoyed and not to feed egotism. Babba stated an idea on her mind, “If you would just simply go about touring this city, then people won’t even know that you’re hiding out. I suggest you do that. Don’t let the enemies know that you know that someone is missing. Have fun tricking them into thinking that you are enjoying yourselves; in fact, you should actually have some real fun in this city. Oh, and the cover story, keep it: Goku and Piccolo were off on a two-man adventure; good idea, Gohan, thanks,” the wiley old witch said, and the expanded Z-Team family agreed. “As for the folks who insist on calling me ‘Urusai Babba’ behind my back, you know who you are, and shame on you! I thought you knew better: my name is pronounced either ‘Uranai’ or ‘Urasanai’ or even‘Usanai’----not ‘Urusai’!! I should be telling *you* when to shut up, tootsies; don’t try to tell *me* to shut up!”
(A/N: Sometimes her first name is spelled ‘Uranai’ with an R, other times it’s ‘Usanai’ with an S. Either one is a mistake; or maybe both are partway accurate, suggesting some sort of Composite Name that too much resembles the expression ‘Urusai’ which is a rude Japanese expression. ‘Urasanai’ is a composite that I guessed on the spur of the moment; if that be the full-length form of her name, which is improbable, then I had made a very lucky guess. I saw “Urusai” on one of those Internet dictionaries, that ‘Urusai’ is Japanese for “Shut up!” The character “Babba” probably gets to hear her first name mispronounced as “Urusai” all the time. Did anyone really believe that the Japanese had no rude words in their language? Japanese people are simply very discreet in cussing.)
(Another A/N regarding Babba the witchy sister of Master Roshi: the DBZ universe is essentially a pagan universe, in which the Supreme Being is never seen, and probably never known; although one can contact some of the various lesser “deities” such as King Yamma AKA Enma-Daou, and some people can have access to them via magic. Sorry, there’s not much that I can do about that particular fairy-tale aspect of DBZ. Besides, the Arthurian cycle had Merlin, and the Middle-Earth tales had Gandolf. Merlin and Gandolf were depicted as decent teachers and guardians of their society’s moral climate. While Babba is nowhere as good as Merlin or Gandolf, maybe it would be wise to see her as the poor man’s answer to those two. Notice that I am not graphically or explicitly depicting any of her apparently “magical” techniques. Thus, her witchy aspect can be overlooked.)
(Yet another A/N: As for Babba’s brother, Master Roshi? Well, there’s nothing that I could do about the fact that he is a lecherous, porn-addicted old pustule of a has-been. That’s part of the DBZ canon. Yet, notice that he can’t escape the imprisonment of a soggy-wet paper bag, even if his life depended upon it. Some of the mightiest warriors in DBZ degenerate into pathetic weaklings, after decades or even centuries of maintaining habits of using pornography. Roshi is to be more pitied than hated.)
To be continued in Chapter Six