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Nappa followed silently behind the young prince Vegeta as they were led through the winding passageways of Frieza's base. Looking around at those they passed, though, he could tell that there was something wrong. The others were staring, and those unfortunate enough to catch his displeased eyes quickly looked away. It had not been like this before they had left on their last mission.
A frown marring his face, Nappa glanced back over at the insignificant foot soldier that was escorting them to Frieza's chambers in order to report. The man had not given any indication of what had transpired since they were gone, but Nappa could feel his tail tightening around his midsection in agitation. Something was wrong.
But then again, he thought, nothing had been right since they had come to this accursed place. The prince's rage at having been abandoned by his father in order to become Frieza's newest pet burnt brighter with every passing day. Over this past year, Nappa had watched with growing agitation as Frieza slowly molded the boy into a cold-hearted killer with no care for saiyan tradition and honor.
They were not being sent out to fight worthy opponents. They weren't even pit against fighters. No, they were being sent to murder pacifists. There was no honor in it, and each new assignment made his stomach churn in disgust. How much longer must they suffer such humiliation?
With a grunt of distaste, Nappa shook his head and glanced up to find that they were approaching Frieza's quarters. As they entered the poorly lit room, he could make out the hulking forms of Zarbon and Dodoria. Frieza stood looking out the window, a glass of wine held casually within his grasp. Their footsteps echoing around them, he and Vegeta made it to the center of the room and knelt, hands coming automatically across their chest.
Sparing a quick glance at Vegeta, Nappa could not help but feel his heart clench at the sight. The thought of how many times Frieza's elite had beaten the small boy in order to make the young prince automatically go to his knees in the presence of Frieza haunted him to this day. Those first few weeks had been the worst for both of them. Both of them had been left bloodied and beaten. Vegeta for his insolence, him for trying to put a stop to it.
"Report," Zarbon snapped out as Nappa watched the other alien's cold gaze fall upon his prince.
Vegeta's head lifted. "Nissam has been purged," Vegeta replied, his voice flat.
Zarbon nodded before Frieza himself turned, a smirk forming across his face. Since their forceful admittance into Frieza ranks, Nappa had grown to know that smirk, and seeing it made his blood run cold. Something was definitely wrong.
"Excellent," Frieza hissed out, his smirk growing even wider as he stepped out in front of Zarbon and Dodoria. "I have some news for you as well." If possible, Nappa's tail tightened even further around his waist, and he could see that Vegeta's own body had gone stiff. "Unfortunately, while you were gone, planet Vegeta was destroyed," Frieza continued, as if he were commenting on the weather.
It was like someone had shot a blast through his heart. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't think.
"You lie!" It was Vegeta, and he was standing now, the power crackling across his body.
"Oh, my dear princeling, I do not. It was a meteor shower. Most unfortunate." Frieza paused, taking a sip of his wine before smirking back at the prince. "No one survived."
With a howl of unthinkable fury and rage, Vegeta was throwing himself towards Frieza before Nappa could even move to stop him. He watched in horror as his prince was struck down with ease.
"Tut, tut," Frieza admonished as he kicked the young boy where he had fallen. "I thought we had been teaching you better than that."
Nappa yearned to whisk the boy away, to keep him safe, but the words died in his throat. If he said anything now, it would only fuel the monster that stood before him. Steeling his heart, he resolved himself to watch and to remember. One day they would have their vengeance.
The boy was coughing up blood, but Nappa watched with a small sense of pride as the prince rose to his feet. He could see from where he knelt that there were unshed tears adorning the prince's eyes.
"I hate you," the boy yelled, throwing himself at the stronger being yet again. "Why didn't you warn them?!"
Frieza laughed as he swatted the boy away yet again. "Hate me all you want, boy," Frieza replied, his voice amused. "The truth remains; you are the prince of nothing now. Your sole purpose is to serve me."
The words only served to enrage the prince even more, and Nappa's own stomach twisted in knots hearing what he knew to be the truth. There was no home for them to return to now. There was no throne for Vegeta to inherit. There was no army for him to lead. There was no King to take them home. His mind seemed to cloud over as he watched his prince throw himself again and again at Frieza, each attempt becoming weaker and weaker until finally the boy lay unmoving at Frieza's feet.
With a kick, the tyrant turned the boy onto his back, exposing his bloodied face. Nappa felt sick as he glanced up into the face of their captor. One day, he vowed, it wouldn't be like this. One day it would be Frieza at his prince's feet.
"Nappa," Dodoria barked, bringing him out of his stupor. "Get this filth back to your barracks. No restorative chamber," he commanded, his voice flushed with amusement at their pain.
Nappa, stiffly got to his feet, his arms shaking with his own pent-up fury, as he bowed low to Frieza, choking out a raspy, "Sir." Quickly moving to where Vegeta lay, Nappa carefully assessed the damages before gently scooping the small body up in his massive arms. It was not the worst that the prince had ever endured, but with no restorative chamber, the young boy would be in a deplorable state during the upcoming days.
With care not to put pressure on any of the major wounds, Nappa turned and made to leave.
"Oh, and Nappa," Frieza said, just as Nappa made it to the door. "We've a new assignment for you and the boy to go on. The shuttles leave in three hours."
"But, sir," Nappa gasped out in surprise, whirling around with his arms tightening protectively around his charge. "The Prince! He needs rest!"
"Is this going to be a problem, Nappa?" Frieza hissed, his cold eyes narrowing.
"I just think-" Nappa began.
"And there is your problem," Frieza cut in, his voice sharp. "You thought. Get out of my sight. You and the boy will be in those pods."
Not trusting himself to speak, Nappa glared at the tyrant before spinning on his heels and marching out of the room. Whether anyone stared at them on their way to their barracks, Nappa could not say, so embroiled in his hatred for Frieza that he was blind to anyone else, save his prince.
Reaching the cold, dark room Nappa entered and with great care laid the prince down upon the hard slab that constituted a bed. He watched in concern as Vegeta stirred, the injured boy's eyes opening ever so slightly.
"Nappa." It was the closest Nappa had ever heard the prince come to crying. "My dad," Vegeta whispered his voice hitching as he turned his head to look up into Nappa's face.
"Vegeta," Nappa breathed out softly, his gruff voice oddly gentle as his hand came to rest of the small boy's shoulder. "I am sorry, my prince."
"He promised he would take me away from here," the boy moaned, his words heartbreaking. "I want to go home."
Nappa's fingers clenched on Vegeta's shoulder as his throat tightened. "I may not be able to take you home, or give you your family, but," he paused, his throat bobbing as he swallowed, "I will always stand at your side. I will follow you wherever you go, support you in any way I can. You are my King, Vegeta."
The young boy turned his head away from him, his eyes gleaming. "I'm not a King, Nappa. Where is my throne, my people? Gone!"
"I am yours," Nappa replied stubbornly, his voice heavy with conviction. "And you will always be my King, throne or no."
Nappa watched as the boy nodded slowly, his eyes falling shut from exhaustion, injury, and shock. "You are a loyal fool, Nappa," the boy whispered, his body growing limp as he fell into unconsciousness.
Nappa just grunted. He could live with that. "Sleep well, my King," he whispered.
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