CHAPTER 82: Shapeshifter

With incredible speed, Piccolo flashed like a green lighting bolt around the massive form of Dai Shinnoma. Bardock could barely track the green man's movements; for though the fused god was not stronger than Dai in terms of raw ki power, he was much faster. Piccolo's blazing speed, punctuated by the occasional kick here and there, seemed to be thwarting Dai completely.

Growling, Dai suddenly whirled, both his fists lashing out, then splaying open to release a wide energy beam from each hand. Grinning maniacally, the huge demon began to rotate like an energy propellor. The beams slashed through the air like swords, annihilating a few breakable objects - rocks, boulders, mountain ranges, and suchlike. Bardock immediately ducked into a nearby embrasure; the others took up similar hiding places.

From his hiding spot, Bardock could easily see that Piccolo was nearly beaten. However, the green demon seemed to hold himself triumphantly.

A moment later, Bardock understood. Ducking aside, Piccolo channeled a huge chunk of his ki out of his body... forming a double of himself. The two Piccolos rushed Dai in tandem, dodging his beams with ease and kicking the huge demon about the head and face repeatedly. Dai staggered back, his beams cutting off as a viscous black ichor seeped from his nose and mouth.

The two Piccolos landed to face Dai as the other Earth warriors emerged from their hiding places.

Dai lifted his right hand to wipe ichor from his chin, smirking at the same time. "You've all done far better than I expected," he commented. "However, I've still got another card up my sleeve. The game's over, kids. Incidentally, the deck was rigged in my favor. Now watch closely, 'cause you'll only get to see this once."

As Bardock and the others looked on, Dai steeled himself, calling a scarlet flame into being about his body. The huge demon's body began to ripple with raw power... and then began to expand. His seven-foot frame grew to a massive nine feet as long black spikes rose up to form a ridge down his spine. Jutting from his forearms came similar curved spines. The black horns on his head grew thicker and began to arc forward. Bardock couldn't help but note that the spiked spine-ridge had given Dai a bit of a stoop.

It was the face that struck Bardock the most, hovever; during the transformation, Dai's nose and mouth had extended to form a devilish muzzle, giving him the appearance of some sort of troll. Fire blazed in his eyes and at the back of his throat. The image struck terror even into Bardock's hardened spirits; this form of Dai Shinnoma was like something out of an ancient myth.

Only Piccolo and his double seemed unaffected.

"Now who wants to be the first to die?" Dai roared.

"Looks like you," the two Piccolos responded in unison, then simultaneously lunged into a super-fast attack... which cut off abruptly as Dai's fist connected with the double's stomach. The clone was flung backwards, bursting into the real Piccolo's chest to be reunited with his creator. The green demon was hurled backwards, landing hard on his spine on the rocks. A low gurgling moan escaped his lips, followed by a gush of violet fluid.

"Now THAT was pathetic," Dai noted.

The demon didn't have any more time to make comments, for Kiwi, Kakarotto, and Cirell jumped him simultaneously, punching and kicking for all they were worth. Dai Shinnoma seemed not to care, however. Smiling almost indolently, he brought his spiked forearms forward and began swinging them with rapid slashing movements. Kiwi and Kakarotto stumbled back with blood gushing from slash wounds across their bodies, and Cirell followed a moment later.

"That goddamn does it," Raditsu's voice rang across the landscape. "I'm done fucking around with you, Shinnoma. It's time for you to FUCKING DIE!"

"No!" Bardock roared, reaching out with one hand, ineffectually grabbing at empty air to restrain a son who stood a hundred yards away. Raditsu had already lunged at Dai, his fist drawn back. However, Bardock's eldest son met with a solid wall of Dai Shinnoma; the demon caught his punch in one hand, using his other hand to pick Raditsu up by the collar.

"I'm going in," Broli growled suddenly.

"N-no!" Raditsu howled. "Don't! If you try and fight him, he'll kill you too!"

"Such noble words," Dai Shinnoma said mockingly. "I like nobility, actually. It amuses me. However, you've proven yourself to be pesky. And I have a fun way of dealing with pests."

A sick feeling began to rise in the pit of Bardock's stomach. He knew what was coming, and he wished to God that he didn't have to face the horror of it.


Miles away, Bulma sat straight up in bed, sweating profusely. [It was only a dream,] she tried to convince herself. [Only a dream.]




She had seen Raditsu being killed by a huge, spiny demon.


The face of this demon had been the stuff of dark legends; borne from flame, the beast's muzzle protruded primitively, and his eyes glowed with fire.


And nobody had been able to save her husband...


Bulma slowly slumped back into bed, but she was certain that she wouldn't be able to go back to sleep; not with the fear gripping her heart in a fist of cold steel.