Dragon Ball - The Heart of Adveturers
By LastationLover5000, Demod20, and Firegod00
Chapter 23 - A Chorus of Evil Intentions
Time spent in recovery was time wasted. This was the mentality that both Raditz and Gokū shared equally during their stay in the Western Capital's largest hospital, without any access to the quick and effective healing methods that Raditz had grown accustomed to as a member of the Freeza Army. Their stay had mercifully been cut short by the arrival of Muten Rōshi and Yajirobe. The latter had brought them the healing Senzu — the healing bean unique to Earth which Raditz was beginning to grow fond of — while the Kame-Sennin had informed the two brothers of the group's plight on Namek, as Bulma had miraculously managed to contact them from a planet billions of light years away. He then told them of Dr. Brief's progress on a spaceship that could get the duo to Namek.
Thus, they found themselves flying full pelt, Raditz on his own, and Gokū by way of Kinto'un, towards Dr. Brief's home. The younger of the Saiyan brothers felt himself staring at the palm of his hand, clenching it tightly into a balled fist. Raditz noticed this, bemusedly glancing at Gokū.
"Is your hand that interesting, Kakarrot?"
"No, it ain't that," replied Gokū. "It's just...I never paid it much attention before...but now that I'm completely healed, I feel amazin'! Even more than you'd think, healing from those sorta wounds. I feel better than new, even!"
"Little brother, do you not have ears?" Raditz sounded exasperated. "I told you this while we were interned in that blasted building; we Saiyans are a warrior breed. We've evolved to fight. Not only do we become stronger as we fight, whenever a Saiyan recovers from life-threatening injuries, our bodies compensate for our lacking power and we experience a huge increase!"
The orange-clad Saiyan clapped his hand to his forehead. "Ah, that's right! You did mention somethin' about that. I'd almost forgotten. Still, it's strange...I didn't think we had anything that convenient."
"It's possible you simply never had anything push you to the brink of death on this backwater world," said Raditz carelessly. "Mother and Father sent you here precisely because this planet wasn't considered of much worth, after all."
Comin' back from the brink of death even stronger...? Gokū thought to himself, completely ignoring Raditz's slight against the Earth. "I dunno if I've experienced anything like th—" His own uncertainty was cut short by a vivid remembrance of an event long past. He had experienced something like this, years ago.
Six hours. Six hours of writing in pain, feeling the cold hand of death trying to pry him from the world. It had been agony the likes of which Gokū had never experienced. Yet the young lad was sitting upright, feeling only slightly delirious from spending such an extended time screaming in pain. His two benefactors — the blue-furred cat, Karin, and the pudgy man with a bad attitude, Yajirobe — were looking at him in amazement. "G-Gokū, I'm stunned," Karin leaned on his cane, looking at the lad with exhaustion that would have suggested he'd drunk the water, rather than Gokū. "You didn't die, Gokū!" crowed Yajirobe. "You're really somethin' else!" The young martial artist was chuckling in spite of himself. Despite everything that water had put him through, he felt like he was an entirely new person. "P-Power...I'm overflowin' with power...!"
"G-Gokū, I'm stunned," Karin leaned on his cane, looking at the lad with exhaustion that would have suggested he'd drunk the water, rather than Gokū.
"You didn't die, Gokū!" crowed Yajirobe. "You're really somethin' else!"
The young martial artist was chuckling in spite of himself. Despite everything that water had put him through, he felt like he was an entirely new person. "P-Power...I'm overflowin' with power...!"
"Yeah...I have felt somethin' like this before. Once or twice, actually," Gokū said. "I know you don't think much of the competition here...but I've had my fair share of fights when I was growin' up too, Raditz." While it was a standard statement, Gokū laced it with an an aggressive undertone that challenged Raditz to continue belittling the planet he called home, and its struggles.
The older Saiyan was taken aback, his sharp eyes widening, before his face relaxed into a neutral bearing. "Talk is cheap, little brother. If you want to show me what your history of fighting has been like, then show me on Namek." In spite of his statement, a belligerent, half-formed smile could be seen on his face.
Letting himself relax, Gokū laughed freely. "Let's see if I can't blow you away!"
Making their way to Capsule Corporation was a blessedly quick excursion. Gokū leapt from his cloud, spinning downward to land on both feet with his arms outstretched. Raditz sighed, making a far more dignified landing than his younger counterpart, touching down right foot first, before settling both feet onto the grass of Capsule Corporation. Before the two had a chance to even twitch their tails, they were greeted by a woman with poofed, blonde hair, clothed in a frilled, polka-dotted white dress.
"Gokū!" She trilled, nearly dropping the platter of tea she was holding in her excitement at seeing her son-in-law. "Sweetie, it's been too long! Bulma only told us everything that happened after you were interned in the hospital! I'm glad that you and Pan are doing alright!"
Chuckling in his familiar, laid-back manner, Gokū scratched the top of his head sheepishly. "Honestly, there's a whole lot that happened and I haven't had time to come home 'till right now! Sorry about that!"
Accepting her son-in-law's apology with ease, Panchy slid over to Raditz, her squinted eyes observing him intently. The older of the Saiyans was taken aback, his expression working awkwardly as he tried to put a slight amount of distance between him and the blonde woman — an effort ultimately futile when the woman grabbed his arm, pulling him inward and opening her eyes to reveal the same shimmering blue that Bulma possessed.
"You must be Raditz!" Panchy broke the silence and shattered the tension in one sentence. "Tights has said quite a lot about you! I trust you're treating my daughter well?"
"I-I-I'm what?" stammered the long-haired Saiyan in disbelief.
"The way she was going on about you, I could have sworn you two were dating!"
Raditz's face blanked entirely, and his head turned from Panchy, to Gokū, back to Panchy, and then to his younger brother. "Kakarrot, what is 'dating'? Is it a strange Earth custom?"
Gokū shrugged. "Beats me!"
When it became obvious to Gokū that his mother-in-law wished to regale Raditz with the tales of Tights' younger years, he remembered that time was of the essence, hurriedly explaining to Panchy that her daughters and Pan were in trouble on an alien planet, and they needed to quickly see Dr. Brief. Panchy reluctantly acquiesced, leading Gokū and Raditz towards the back of the Capsule Corporation building, where they came face-to-face with the craft that was meant to take them from Earth to Namek.
From a first glance, the two brothers would confuse this as a giant decorated egg. But upon closer inspection they could see that the stripes of black that wrapped around the door lower middle -stopping at the sealed entrance and framing the dozen viewing windows spaced evenly away from the door- complemented the black ovular top. Large capitalized font letters of "CAPSULE" was inscribed just above smaller letters of "CORP." just above the entry into the craft. Four landing gears with suction-like feet kept it solid on the lawn of the home and headquarters of Doctor Brief's family, making it stand out among all the homely neighborhood aesthetics surrounding the pair.
"Dear! Our little Gokū has come home!"
At Panchy's call, Dr. Brief poked his head out of the doorway of the ship, blinking owlishly through his spectacles. "Oh! Gokū! You're recovered? I really will have to analyse those Senzu one of these days!"
Gokū, however, was too busy gaping at the spaceship like a child who had been given a new toy. His face was alight, amazed by the sight of the gargantuan craft. "I-Is this it?! This is the spaceship?!"
"Calm yourself, Kakarrot," urged Raditz, who had seen more impressive craft during his tenure in the Freeza Army. Though, reluctantly, he had to admit internally that he too was impressed; not by the craft per se, but for the fact it was an Earthling who had managed to construct the behemoth.
"Ain't it done yet?!" inquired Gokū impatiently.
"Nearly," replied Dr. Brief. "Why don't you come take a look inside, the both of you?"
Raditz and Gokū accepted that offer immediately. The inside of the giant ovoid spacecraft was deceptively larger than the outside lent from exterior perspective. The moment the pair stepped in they'd see a massive white interior with only scant greys and blacks on various aspects of the spacefaring vessel. While the older sibling would compare it to a transport capable of housing the entire Saiyan squadron Vegeta had under his command and then some, the Earth born brother saw it as a vastly bigger craft than anything Bulma had ever had him fly in.
The ovular windows were flat, rimmed by white along a more solid substance akin to a reinforced metal infused mineral they couldn't quite identify. Strips of white slid up into a vaulted top, meeting a central pillar that had an odd shaped circular disc contraption with a variety of oblong orbs that looked like light bulbs. Narrowing down to a grey rimmed beam that widened into a pale control console with deep emerald glass and dark grey switches and knobs, it fed into the floor proper and was the true epicenter of the ship's main room.
The elder Saiyan looked to the immediate forward left, noticing a matte grey metal railing that circled around to a ladder that descended downwards. He could only assume that from the dim lighting that his eyes could see that it was a combination of sleeping quarters, supplies and storage for other miscellaneous equipment necessary for prolonged interstellar travel.
Unlike the other, the younger Saiyan could see with a lean of his head the true master control of the ship. A plush white chair bolted to the tiled flooring with a ninety degree angled white control panel at the back of the ship. This was what Gokū believed to be the pilot's seat, and he desperately wanted to go sit on it, dabble with its controls at once; as his tail's innate wiggling entailed to his older sibling.
"It's huge!" Gokū crowed. "Was this really that tiny little ship?!"
"You bet," replied Dr. Brief. "And everything is here, made to order, just like you requested it. Saiyan technology is amazing, but I managed to rebuild the whole craft from scratch."
"You say that so casually, old man," Raditz interjected ruefully. "But our technology isn't supposed to be so simple that an Earthling can do all this. You aren't so normal either, are you?"
"Oho, so you must be Raditz," Dr. Brief smiled, absentmindedly petting the cat on his shoulder. "You're exactly as Tights said you'd be."
"I...that woman...!" the elder Saiyan hissed, his face tinged slightly.
Dr. Brief laughed, before patting Raditz on the arm, the highest point on the man that the short scientist could actually reach. "As you can see, Gokū, everything is here." He gestured to the central pillar specifically before continuing. "This device here will control the gravity, just as you asked for; an Artificial Gravity Generator." Beckoning the two Saiyans to him, Dr. Brief pointed at a keyboard and the HUD itself. "This switch right here will turn the A.G.G. on or off, and this controller — which makes use of the acceleration of the ship — can generate an increased gravity of up to 100G." Turning away from the pillar. Dr. Brief appeared concerned. "Honestly, I wasn't big on adding this doohikey to start with; it's ridiculously extreme training, Gokū.. At its maximum output, even if you only weigh 60 kilograms, you'll become 6,000 kilograms at 100G. That's 6 tonnes!"
"It's the kind of training we're going to need," Gokū replied breezily. "I was able to handle 10G on Kaiō's planet; we'll increase it little by little as we go!"
Raditz smirked. "Our homeworld had naturally stronger gravity than Earth. Even now, I still feel lighter on Earth than I ever did on Vegeta. A little something like increased gravity isn't enough to put a Saiyan down, old man."
"So, can this bucket 'o bolts take off then?" Gokū was confused. It sounded as if everything was in order.
"You bet! I've already punched in the coordinates Bulma gave me for Namek," Pointing a finger towards plush white chair Gokū had successfully identified as the pilot's seat, he explained, "All you need to do is press that switch to activate the ship, and it'll take you to Namek. At this ship's speed, you'll make it there within six days." Shifting positions, he diverted their attention towards the ladder which had caught Raditz's attention. "This ladder will take you to the bedchambers; you'll also find the restroom, bathroom, and kitchen down here as well."
"Then what's left?!" Raditz posed the question impatiently. "The basic necessities are all here! There's no reason we shouldn't be taking off right now!"
"Well, y'see, I'd recently come up with a machine that'll whip you up coffee and pastries in less than a minute!" Dr. Brief explained, proudly. "I've already fitted the stereo; give me another hour, and I'll have this installed downstairs, and you're all free to go."
"Are you daft, old man?!" barked Raditz. "We don't have time to wait for something as trivial as that. We received a message from Tights and the rest on Namek; what they thought was going to be a little excursion has turned into a nightmare! My former bosses and compatriots are all there too!"
"Your daughters and my daughter are all in tough spot right now!" Gokū added, the urgency in his voice contributing to Raditz's own. "As nice as that machine sounds, we ain't going to Namek on a pleasure trip!"
"My..." Dr. Brief's cigarette fell from his mouth. "That is urgent...I could speed the process up, it'll just take a half—"
"Just teach me how to fly this thing!" Gokū cut across his father-in-law, who reluctantly showed Gokū — excited in spite of himself once he sat in the pilot's chair — how to take off. Once Dr. Brief had vacated the ship, Gokū leaned forward, and pressed the aforementioned button. Within seconds, they had achieved lift-off. No thrusters, no propellant, none of the mundane Earthling methods of space travel. Gokū and Raditz had mere moments to take in the sight of Earth's horizon as a blur before they left it entirely, plunged into the void of space itself, the Earth no longer visible in the background. The lights came on automatically, sending the spaceship into a staggering brightness, both Gokū and Raditz briefly recoiling until their eyes adjusted.
"This thing is fast!" Gokū's eyes had finally recovered and he was able to take everything in. The inky blackness outside was especially startling. "It's like night right now...!"
"Enough of that," interrupted Raditz. "We have six equivalents to an Earth day, and let me tell you Kakarrot, that isn't a lot of time."
"It'll be plenty!" Gokū held up a brown satchel to Raditz, tossing it to his elder brother. The older Saiyan opened it to find a collection of the Senzu inside. "With these, we're going to train to our absolute limit, before we take one of these to recover, and pick the pace right back up. Thanks to Master Karin, we can make the most of these six days without wastin' too much time!" Stretching his body to get accustomed to his new space, the younger Saiyan grinned. "Besides, we're going to be trainin' with each other; the benefits you get from trainin' with a sparring partner doubles what you could if you just trained on your own."
Raditz tossed Gokū the bag; he caught is easily, tying it to his obi with its thin string. "That's all fine, but I don't really think you know what we're in for." Raditz took a seat on the polished tile floor of the ship, and motioned for Gokū to do the same. The two sat across from each other, cross-legged, so Raditz could more easily speak to Gokū. "It's likely that we aren't simply dealing with Vegeta, Aspara, and Nappa when we get to Namek. There's a high likelihood that Freeza will be there as well."
"Freeza? You mentioned that name before. How bad can he really be?"
The armour-clad Saiyan sighed. "I don't have many memories of Freeza, but the ones I do, I try to repress..."
"Why?" Gokū asked. "Did he hurt you or somethin'?"
"Not directly," Raditz shook his head. "No, it was more like a ripple effect. Anything he did or said to Vegeta, that'd be passed onto me. I was the runt of the pack, remember? I was next to disposable as far as they were concerned." He'd come to rest his head in his hand with aggravation, bitter memories flooding to the surface which the older Saiyan had tried to ignore. "The only reason I wasn't tossed aside as that I was as much a piece of comedy as I was a symbol of Vegeta's power; the last official job I had from the Saiyans was to bodyguard the Prince. My job didn't end till he came to collect my head on Earth."
"But, that was all Vegeta, right? How can Freeza be anymore worse?"
"We Saiyans aren't any stranger to ruthlessness and savagery. But Freeza? He relishes in the small acts of cruelty," Raditz slowly looked Gokū in the eye again. "Petulant as he may be, he had the power to sway entire worlds to his whim and destroy them without a second thought. Everything Vegeta would have become is thanks to Freeza's...discipline...in how he molded him into his perfect little replica of himself."
It seemed that, however Raditz had phrased it, the words were beginning to sink slowly into Gokū's skull. Vegeta had been the pinnacle of ruthlessness during their battle, callous enough to cast aside even his own allies if it benefited him, and willing to use whatever means it took to secure victory. If Freeza was that, and more...well, he sounded like a real piece of work. "You guys worked for Freeza, right? So it won't be just him there then, will it?"
"You're catching on," replied Raditz gravely. "No...and that actually brings me to my next point. When Vegeta and his ilk invaded Earth, there should have been someone else with them. One of our own was absent from Vegeta's ranks that day." Raditz let out of an involuntary shudder, one built by years of conditioning to fear. "If he was there, we would have been killed, no questions about it."
"Who was missing?"
"Our father's brother. The Saiyan Tullece, one of Freeza's elite soldiers."
Freeza was displeased.
It was hard to quantify just how much the icy tyrant was unsatisfied with how the most recent events have turned up. Of course everything was going swimmingly. Every village he came across on this backwater planet put up very little struggle and they always did their best to either misdirect or confuse him in a way to keep him from finding the Dragon Balls. But of course, he always got what he wanted and did so when he wanted it.
The upstart Nameccian Village Elder, -whose name escapes him mere hours after his death- had utilized the distraction of his warriors' timely arrival to do the unthinkable. He destroyed his precious Scouters! He even looked smug when he did it too! Watching him die so quickly wasn't nearly as delicious as he thought it'd be. He wanted to watch him die again and again! If only he could've watched the last brat die just as gruesomely as his sibling-!
But, that's when he saw that child. The Saiyan came out of nowhere and struck one of his strongest warriors as if he was an overgrown sack of morlaps. She -or was it a he?- had help come too, and stole away the surviving Nameccian. He dispatched the clumsy oaf to follow after. He waited for the inevitable return, given Dodoria had never outright failed in a meaningfully spectacular way before.
It's been hours since he was deployed.
Freeza had long since returned to his ship, debating on what the next course of action should be. Without the Scouters they'd be blind but it wouldn't be impossible to eventually discover the villages. But, he didn't want to be stuck on this massive planet for weeks of investigation, let alone months. He had a so-far efficient mission of allocating the Dragon Balls. He already possessed four of the seven. He will not be denied when victory was almost within his grasp!
The Frosty Dictator then paged for his number one soldier to meet with him. It took less than a minute for him to knock on his personal quarters' entrance. Allowing himself a slight smile at his punctual nature, Freeza let his cadence reflect his appreciation, "You may enter, Zarbon."
A whoosh of the automatic barrier sliding up and the tallest of his current entourage strode in. Despite his more effeminate appearance he was not only the most loyal but also the most ruthless of the triage had took with him to Namek. The teal skinned warrior strode in, his cyan cape fluttering from his pointed shoulder pads. With his cobalt sleeved arms kept flat to his sides, the rare specimen of the Freeza Army finally spoke.
"You called for me, my lord?"
"Yes," Freeza began to say, pouring himself a glass of blood red wine into a cylinder shaped glass. Hearing the sound of it gush in brought a measure of nostalgia; like the emptying of an unsightly creature's artery right before his eyes. "As you may have noticed there's been no sign of Dodoria since he was deployed last. My suspicions of Vegeta arriving on the planet since Cui's own demise can only mean that he has begun to make his move against me."
"But, you don't think Vegeta is kind of person to be working with those Earthlings, do you?" Zarbon asked, almost in disbelief that such an occurrence could be believed based on his personal dealings with the Saiyan.
"What? Do you actually believe in that pride nonsense of his?" Freeza chuckled dryly, his rhetorical question finished with a slam of his bottle onto the night stand of his room. Picking up his glass underhanded, he began to swirl it as he floated upwards and turned to look past his own reflection to the greater Namek fields and trees of blue. "No, there is likely a conspiracy afoot. I've always figured Vegeta to be the type to use anything and anyone to get what he wants. After all, I raised him to think that way, haha!
"You don't think he's alone?"
"Of course not!" The Icy Tyrant snapped, making Zarbon flinch visibly behind his reflection. His face contorted into something foul, nose scrunched and eyes squinting in a seething glare. "He's never far away from his lapdog squad! He always has lackeys to answer his beck and call. He must think that I'm not capable of seeing through his deception and maneuvering against him as effectively. I'll show him the error of his ways."
"What will you have me do, Lord Freeza?"
As much as he enjoyed being floundered with respect and etiquette, the ruler of the known galaxy wasn't going to be satisfied on ceremony alone.
"Here's what I want you to do," Freeza turned around, floating around till he was face to face with Zarbon, pointing his free hand at his chest while his glass remained in a contradicting soft grip. "I want you to find Vegeta. I want you to kill his followers. And then, I want you to bring him back to me, alive. If that is impossible, bring me his corpse."
"A-Alone?" Zarbon inquired, briefly remembering the power level reading he got moments from the point Cui was slaughtered. Then, the matter with Dodoria being vanquished unseen and unheard, was equally disturbing.
"If you can't handle the task, perhaps I should ask our Saiyan friend?" The Frosty Dictator sneered, eyes thinned along with his lips with bared contempt. "Maybe he can replace you just fine, hm?"
"O-Of course not!" The emerald haired man exclaimed readily, standing more erect and then bowing lower to the airborne leader. "I shall depart at once. I shan't fail you!"
"See that you don't," Freeza snarled, turning to look back out of the viewing glass, sipping his wine as Zarbon turned to exit his quarters. But not before hearing Freeza's parting words. "Or don't bother coming back at all."
Tullece felt good.
Contrary to the mood of his employer, he could tell things were going in a direction that wasn't entirely unfavorable. Sure, his warning went unheeded by the strangely familiar Saiyan brat, but the child had done something that inherently benefited him. Luring Dodoria away only to have him never return to Freeza's fold not only put the competing aides of his off balance, but gave him more freedom to maneuver without being impeded. While not the smartest, the rotund elite always had an eye on him due to his particular racial status.
With him out of the way, that just left the toadie, Zarbon. In contrast he was much easier to predict and even simpler to manipulate. By simply earning Freeza's favor he was putting Zarbon's usefulness into question. It was why he ensured that, due to chaos of the situation, he took a more passive role in the events that led to Dodoria's demise and the destruction of their own Scouters. He personally disliked his own device being destroyed but if it meant that it deprived Freeza's forces from being able to locate the Dragon Balls sooner, that was all the better for him.
He heard a brief speaker sound off within the halls of the Freeza Army dreadnought. He leaned over one corner, catching sight of the man's braided head turning with his caped backside into his boss's room. Grinning, he had a feeling what was coming next. Positioning himself just in the path away from the quarters in question he had the makings of a vague conversation outside. At one point, he had an inkling he was mentioned and that brought a dark smile across his face.
Leaning against the wall, he placed his hands behind his head and waited for his inevitable exit. The smooth gliding sound of a door rising up and the stomping footsteps followed. Not more than ten steps later and Tullece let out a whistle, causing Zarbon's movement to temporarily stall.
"Man, the boss must be furious to talk like that to you," The Saiyan jeered, turning his face to toothily stare at the Freeza Army Elite. The look he got in return was what he expected; dangerous, burning and quite infuriated with himself. "Guess that means word of mouth is true. Vegeta iced Dodoria, right?"
"That's right," He intoned, turning halfway to glare at Tullece with open disdain. "And I'm going to clean up the mess he left. After all, to lose to someone as low as Vegeta and his ilk? Disgraceful!"
"Yeah, a real bluster," Tullece replied back in agreement, thinning his smile as he looked away with a look that was nothing short of mocking. "Better hope you can back up your words, otherwise you really will be replaced."
It was quick. Far faster than any normal eye could read. One moment Zarbon was facing Tullece; the next he was in front of him with his gripping the front of his jacket tight enough to squeeze around his throat.
"Watch your tongue, Saiyan whelp!" Zarbon hissed, his fangs more pronounced as his face threatened to bloat with a more reptilian snarl on his usually humanoid appearing visage. Veins bulged across his neck and forehead, even more across his clenched fingers that attempted to choke the Saiyan; all the while continued to smirk rebelliously against him. "The only reason you're not dead yet is because my lord finds you amusing to have around! The only reason I won't snap your neck now is because I rather not dirty my lord's hallway with your blood! Do you follow, monkey?!"
Tullece found this hilarious. The most well mannered and pretentious of Freeza's goons was a hairline away from making a mistake of murdering his colleagues because of his own insecurities and foul temperament. It was adorable how much they squabbled to earn favor of 'their lord'. They never had any ambition beyond earning meager scraps above their peers.
They lacked a plan, and an objective to move past being a pet of Freeza.
"I asked you a question, Tullece," Zarbon sneered, his face contorting back to its normal shape but still full of barely controlled rage. "Do we understand one another?"
"Sure," He replied, his dark eyes glaring back and his smile darkening with his olive complexioned visage. "I understand that the only thing keeping me from wiping the floor of you, is that his door just a few meters from here. Killing you within earshot of him isn't going to benefit either us, now will it?"
The teal shaded alien found himself throttled out of breath. A whipping motion of a belt of fur thrashed over his unguarded, battle jacketed abdomen enough to kick the wind out of him. Stumbling back, releasing his grip of Tullece's own jacket, the ponytailed alien grimaced with bewilderment. By the time he righted himself, Tullece crossed his arms and nodded to him.
Without a word exchanged, a teeth bared Zarbon only exchanged the briefest of sneers before turning away. Cyan cloth fluttered behind with a braided emerald set of hair. Before he disappeared completely, he heard a brief meaty crunch of an unlucky soldier who got too close to the temperamentally unstable elite.
Glancing at his employer's door, he chuckled, his tail winding back around his waist as he began to walk in the same direction as Zarbon.
"Time to begin to move some pieces on the board."
They found it.
It only took a moderate amount of low altitude searching but Vegeta and his two subordinates found their destination. The Nameccian Village, inhabited by their count of up to if not around the ballpark of several dozen of the green men and children. The three could tell even from a glance none of them would pose a threat to even just an individual against the whole.
"How shall we proceed, Vegeta?" Nappa inquired.
"Simply," Vegeta said, darkly smiling as he lowered in altitude towards the hovel of calcified huts of alien design. "We ask them for the Ball."
"If they don't comply?" Aspara asked with an almost bored sound in her voice.
Chuckling, Vegeta didn't answer as his lowered down slowly. When his feet touched down on the soft soil, his arms crossed his mere entrance causing the adult Nameccians to notice his arrival upon instinct. They too also had the ability to sense ki, as he suspected. If they had an inkling of what Freeza was up to, they should be far more on guard; another sign of how easy pickings this place was.
Joined by Aspara and Nappa on his left to right sides, he was finally faced directly by a wrinkled rotund shape of age and wizened appearance. The Nameccian was garbed in a frilly white collar and with a semblance of purples bordering on cream colored robes. More statuesque members of the tribe stood on either side of his, teeth clenched with anxiousness or intimidation, he couldn't say. Not that it mattered to him.
"Greetings, traveler," The Elder replied, surprisingly coherently to the three Saiyans. Vegeta surmised the Elder was trying to appear cordial, instead of possibly speaking his own native tongue to cause confusion. It was likely he was going to attempt diplomacy, for all that'll do. "I see you may be a bit lost. Do you have business with our village, or is there another reason you've entered our home?"
"I'm going to make this simple so you don't misunderstand, old man," Vegeta grated out, his eyes staring chillingly into the Elder's eyes as his smile retained its false pleasantries, sharply contrasting his dangerous tone. "I'm here for your Dragon Ball. I know you have it. Hand it over, or I'll begin making your lives very painful."
"You've got some nerve!" The Nameccian to the Elder's right growled, jabbing his finger towards Vegeta with aggression as he spoke fearlessly to him. "You can't show up on our planet and into our Village demanding a sacred relic such as that! Have you no shame?!"
"So you do have it?" Vegeta inquired with an elated look on his face, eyes widening at hearing this news. "Can you be a good Nameccian and fetch it for me?"
A sharp bang penetrated the air, the sound popping the atmosphere as much as it did the skull of the taller emerald skinned being. Falling forward with a wet thud, hushed whispers, cries and shouts of outrage filled the whole of the village. Raising a still smoking index finger, his thumb cocked back to give it the impression of a gun to aim towards the Elder and his left sided companion.
"I believe that was the wrong answer," The Prince proclaimed loudly, bringing a chuckling smile from Nappa and a snorting glare from Aspara towards the Nameccians that were giving them dirty glances.
"Please!" The Elder raised his hands, clearly looking upset by the sudden and swift loss of life. "The Dragon Ball is an heirloom of our people. Blood shouldn't be shed over it, but you shouldn't take it either. It's not right!"
"Not right, you say? I don't think so," Vegeta turned his steaming finger, aiming it towards the nervous lanky Nameccian beside him. Before the Elder could protest more, he fired it again, causing his chest to blast open from the outside. Left with a gaping hole, the antennae-adorned man's eyes whitened and his mouth agape; falling to his knees before falling to the earth, bleeding out on the azure soil beneath him.
"You black-hearted wretch!" The Elder declared, his hand throwing to the side as he sweat profusely with anxiety. "How many more will you kill till you get what you want?!"
"The whole village, if I have to," Vegeta grinned maliciously, his finger aiming for another that stood by -this one a child by comparison- as he primed a visible glow of red at the end of his gloved finger. "Only fools deny the mighty what's theirs by right."
A shrieking whistle came out of his periphery, a stream of light flinging straight towards him from behind. However, the Prince didn't need to move to respond. Nappa's burly arm swung in the path of the ki bolt, the projectile colliding into flexing biceps and triceps. The Nameccian that fired it looked on in horror, paralyzed as his fellow brethren watched Nappa grin maliciously in their direction.
"You call that an attack?! Let me show you how it's done!" The largest of the three Saiyans bellowed out. Swinging his arm, the little orb was sent flying around in a circle straight up into the sky where it exploded in a flash of blue and red. In a crimson overcast, Nappa raised a clawed hand as if he was holding something. Then, he thrust it straight at them, launching an instantaneous stream of blinding force that caught the group of villagers.
Along with kilometers of the lake filled hills of the planet.
With a line of fire rising up, spouting smoke profusely into the cloud-less atmosphere, the Elder watched Vegeta smile ruefully at the older emerald skinned entity. The child turned to run towards the oldest of the assembly, wanting to run to help as quickly as he could. But, even as wrinkled hands reached out to catch him, a sudden blast of scarlet erased him with a haunting, ghostly scream escaping the youth's vanishing lips.
"No..." He exhaled.
"How many more lives will end because of your stubbornness, old man?" Vegeta inquired, his smile turning into an impatient sneer. "I doubt there'll be anyone left by the time you make up your mind. Why not make this easy for everyone and give us what we want?"
Another handful of the Nameccians leaped to attack Vegeta from his left. The five were of varying shape, some lithe, some burly and others more lanky in constitution. But none of it mattered as an arc of azure cut through their bodies in a single stroke. Even as they spouted blood, their bodies diced into ruined pieces, their eyes met Aspara's as her venomous glare was only comparable to the ghostly blade of ki formed across her right arm.
"You don't get the privilege of cutting him down," She spat, watching their remains splat into a gory pile in front of her, to Vegeta's left.
Clenching his teeth, the Elder fell to his knees, his hands touching the earth as he visibly wept. Tears poured from his eyes onto the ground, his body heaving from the trauma that was inflicted upon him. The reality of his situation set in as nearly all of the people he had come to know and cherish were now butchered by these monsters of no empathy.
"I'm waiting," Vegeta chided with annoyance clear in his voice.
"Don't do it Elder!" A voice said from behind the weeping older Nameccian.
"They won't stop with just them! They'll murder us all if you give him what he wants!"
"Do you want their deaths to have no meaning?!"
"There is...no meaning...in death," The Elder rebuked, his body finally pushing off the earth, now sullied by the dirt of the ground. With grounded molars, bared fangs, the tear-stained face of the wrinkled and portly visage of the oldest Nameccian stared back at cold stare from Vegeta. Shaking, he raised a hand and pointed it towards the hobble immediately to his left.
Seconds later, a glimmering sphere of orange coloration with four red stars enamored within its hallowed container. Despite the angle of approach, it slipped into the wrinkled digits and rested upon a withered palm with ease. Raising it upright, the Elder spared no ounce of contempt as he spoke to Vegeta with his people's heirloom to the three, "Here. This is our prized possession, the Dragon Ball. Take it and go, for it is no use to us as much as it is to you on its own."
"I'll be the judge of that," Vegeta grinned darkly.
The Prince himself stretched his hand out, gripping it with his own brand of telekinesis and tethering it back into his own grip. Smiling at his own reflection cast over the opaque, glass-like material, he looked to Nappa and smiled. Tossing it to the larger Saiyan, he crossed his arms, narrowing his eyes at the Elder.
"You have what you want!" The Village Leader shouted, swinging his arm with gesticulated outrage. "Take it and leave!"
"Oh we will," The Prince replied, revealing his teeth as his aura began to rise up in a visible blue flame around his body. "But I can't leave this place intact. If anyone found this place and tortured the information out of you, it'd undo our efforts here. I'm sure you understand."
"You-!" The old Nameccian began to shout, only for a sudden flash of light to envelop the whole of the structures and its people.
Screams of agony and fury were overwhelmed as the violet-uniformed warrior unleashed a flash of ki wide enough to completely subsume what could've been evidence of their culture and existence. The dome of light rose up, widening and evaporating lakes as much as incinerating bodies of land. Once it was finally over, a deep crater was left to fill the bordering trails of water into a smoldering crater.
"We did it, Vegeta!" Nappa praised, cheerfully raising the Dragon Ball with audible reveling. "We got one!"
"Yes," Vegeta replied simply, his smile now gone as the moment of annihilating the fools left his mind.
"Where to?" Aspara intoned with a vague sense of genuine curiosity.
"It's likely our ex-employer is going to send someone to find us, given dear Dodoria hasn't reported in," The leader of the three predicted aloud, crossing his arms over his chest as he mulled his thoughts into coherent speech. "It's unlikely he'll entrust this decision to anybody else but his number one lackey. The biggest bootlicker of all: Zarbon."
A slight chill crawled up the spines of both Nappa and Aspara. They had remembered the scant encounters the squad that followed Vegeta in their time of the Freeza Army. It was no secret that the handsome alien was a secret sadist and a monster who rivaled Vegeta in his worst of mean streaks. But given the power gap that separated them they always gave him a wide berth; the few times they did encounter him, he did all he could to put them in their place.
Nappa tightened his free hand into a grip, a savage smile spreading as he now looked forward to wiping the floor with him like he did with Dodoria!
Aspara hoped Zarbon would kill either of them, or at least put them into a position she could take advantage of the chaos. She didn't want to tail behind the Prince forever and finding an out now became paramount to her. Perhaps Zarbon could even grant her amnesty if she turned on Vegeta?
"Once I sense him, I want you to hide the Dragon Ball, Nappa," Vegeta ordered his more trusted of his subordinates, looking over at the taller Saiyan General with a serious glare aimed to him. "If something were to happen, this entire trip will be for nothing."
"Understood, Vegeta!" The largest of the three straightened at the sight, ensuring he looked acquiescing to his superior.
"Good," The violet clothed Saiyan nodded with acceptance. "Now, let's go looking for our old colleague, shall we?"
A chuckle from Nappa and a grunt from Aspara was all that was required. A triage ignitions of bluish-white light swathed over the trinity, and then soared over the bluish-green horizon of Namek. With the Vista left behind in complete utter ruin, the squad of Saiyan rebels were another step closer to completely achieving their objective of immortality.
And soon, an inevitable clash of the renegades and the Freeza Army would come to a head once again for dominance!
"Whew," Kuririn sighed with relief, the dwarf finally stopping short of the site where they had left Bulma and Tights. They hadn't stopped running from where they left the bulbous monster. It took them all of ten minutes but they were confident that he was gone and had lost trace of them. Looking down at the child in his arms, he couldn't help but smile as the Nameccian looked at him with a strange calmness in them. "You okay little guy?"
"Yes," He replied quietly, sniffling a little bit in addendum.
"So he can talk," Pan awed, looking around from the side while Chi-Chi loomed over Kuririn's head and Jaco on the left. Pan's dark eyes met the onyx orbs of villager boy's, and she smiled broadly. She was happy he was alright, and the fact he had calmed down since the trauma showed a remarkable sense of will for someone so young. "What's your name?"
"Dende," The Nameccian replied concisely.
"Well, Dende, I'm Son Pan," The child of Goku greeted, placing a hand over a fist, bowing politely as she had been taught.
"I'm Kuririn!" The bald ex-monk introduced exuberantly. "Can you stand, little guy?"
"I can do more than that," Dende responded with a small smile. When Kuririn thought to set him down, he suddenly bobbed back up, his clothes billowing up around him as he levitated under his own power much to his amazement. "We learn to fly when we are small. Our life force is something that is taught to use as much as we are to learn how to tend the land. I should be able to follow if you don't go too fast."
"Impressive for a squirt," Chi-Chi remarked with a slight smile.
"Squirt?" Dende furrowed his hair-less brow, unable to fathom what was said.
"She meant you're a pint-sized midg-ECK!" Jaco began to explain, only to feel Chi-Chi's fist slam into his head. Clenching his swollen cranium, he turned to sneer at the female fighter only to shrink at her glare. Sighing, he raised a finger and nasally intoned to the confused boy. "It's an endearing nickname for someone of small size."
"Oh," The Nameccian blinked blankly, now understanding but not finding any emotion to express from this discovery. Looking up to the woman, he ogled her chest with curiosity. "What are those?"
Chi-Chi traded glances with Pan, Kuririn and Jaco, the latter of which did his best to completely turn his back to the group in refusal to comment.
"They're called breasts," The Orin Monk said as casually as he could without his face turning red.
"They look strange," The Village Child intoned bluntly. "Do all humans have those?"
"We really don't have time to entertain 20 Questions on Human Biology!" Jaco finally interrupted the dwarf, turning about with a sharp heel turn and gesture to the direction they were headed. "I don't want to be that guy-"
"Nothing stopping you there, Paco."
"But there are still a lot of enemies skulking about!" The Galactic Patroller exclaimed, ignoring Chi-Chi as his hands swinging wildly within concert of his concerns. "Who knows when big, fat and mean will come back across the horizon?!"
"Relax," Kuririn chastised with a hand waving nonchalantly at his compatriot. "If he really was going to find us, he'd done so by now. Without those Scouters, they might as well flying blind. That Saiyan too."
"If Vegeta wasn't bad enough," Chi-Chi intoned with a sullen expression expressed along her face, her hand raising to bite on a nail as she thought out loud her own worries. "That Son look-alike seemed awfully strong too. Without their Scouters, I can't help but wonder how long until that faker finds us."
"Well, we won't be able to find out while we pine away how much trouble we're in," Kuririn shrugged, gesturing a thumb over his shoulder. "Let's get back to Bulma and Tights. I want to make sure they haven't gotten into any trouble since we left."
Nodding with agreement, the four rose up into the air and Jaco followed with haste as they made the last lap towards their destination.
Reaching the site they last left, it was difficult to tell exactly where they were apart from the grooves of the modified spacecraft of Piccolo's they used to land. After a little bit of looking they saw a flat plate with a door handle sticking on the surface of the lake a dozen meters away from the island's mass. Flying by, they'd knock and were greeted by a plasma gun sticking in their faces.
"Oh, it's you!" Bulma said excitedly, smiling with joy as Pan nearly tackled her in embrace. Nuzzling with her child, she ushered the others to come down, climbing down the stairs into what they discovered was an underwater complex.
Walking out of a staircase, they all met in what they presumed was the kitchen, with a laminated table top and a window that showed the outside enormous sea creatures that lived within the lake they were presiding in. A few hallways adjacent showed they had space to sleep and congregate, but obviously it wasn't too luxurious. While Pan and Chi-Chi looked outside to gaze at the odd underwater creatures that floated by, Kuririn and Jaco presented their events with Dende as a living witness.
"That's horrible," Tights commented with a look of shock on her face. Raising a hand to cover her mouth, she looked to Bulma who looked grave at the news but held her composure a bit better.
"I see," She solemnly pursed her lips, her brows furrowing. "So it seems this Freeza character is a lot more dangerous than Vegeta."
"It'll only be a matter of time till he collects them all," Kuririn wagered, his hands raised up with proposal. "But it isn't entirely a loss. Their Village Elder managed to destroy their Scouters, so they're running blind on the planet. Vegeta too, if we cross him."
"But given how fast they can fly, it's only a matter of time before they comb every mile of this world in record speed," Bulma dissuaded, casting a glance back to Tights as she spoke aloud."And my prototype lenses I surgically installed into my eyes can't pinpoint power levels if they aren't lighting up like beacons. It'll be tough for us to find other villages in time before the others."
"Hey kid," Jaco piped up, looking over to Dende. "You don't think you could point us into the right direction of where another Dragon Ball is?"
"I don't know if I could tell you," The small child admitted, looking straightforward between him and the two non-combatant women. "But I do know of one of us who does have a Dragon Ball. The oldest of our kind, the Grand Elder. He presides over the highest point of our world and is the wisest one where we all stem from. If he has guidance to give, he'd definitely be the one to go to."
"We should probably wait a little bit before leaving just yet," Kuririn proposed, looking to Chi-Chi and Pan as they rejoined the conversation. "But I think it'd be best to have only a couple of us head to this Grand Elder at a time. This way this place isn't undefended in case we're found out here."
"Sounds like a plan," Chi-Chi agreed with a nod. "You and I should head there together."
"Uh, sure," The dwarf thought with a questioning look.
"I just want to see what this Grand Elder looks like, that's all," She huffed, looking away with her arms crossed. "This planet is incredible, so he should be impressive, ya know?"
"Whatever you say," Kuririn waved dismissively.
Suddenly a throat was forcibly coughed, and they turned to look at Tights giving Bulma a look. Suddenly, the lavender haired woman palmed her forehead with realization gaining an even more strange expression from the group.
"I almost forgot!" Bulma exclaimed, leaning over to them with her hands on the counter top. "Son and Raditz are on their way! They'll be here in just six days on Dad's Capsule ship!"
"Wow, six days?!" Pan cried out with saucers for eyes. Despite her big eyes staring at her mother, she couldn't help but show the biggest smile on her face. "Really?!"
"Yes, really," Her mother responded with enthusiasm, rustling her hand over her child's head with a grin. "Your grandpa was making leaps and bounds of innovations on the Capsule ship's prototype while modifying God's spacecraft. Apparently the whole time we were traveling in space he was putting the final touches on it."
"And this means Raditz will be here all healed up and ready to help when he gets here!" Tights squealed with excitement.
"Six days still might feel like awhile, though," Chi-Chi countered, her initial expression of elation erased as her brows furrowed with contemplation. "Having to avoid serious battle against these freaks for that long? I'm not so sure..."
"I'm of the mind that we lie low and let that Vegeta you mentioned fight it out with the Freeza Army," Jaco proposed with a shake of the head. "Better they kill each other off and leave us intact."
"Oh yeah, and leave us caught in the crossfire in the event they decide to blow up the whole planet?" Tights drawled out sarcastically with arms crossed.
"I'm just saying there's no point throwing our lives away when we are waiting for help to arrive!"
"We should at least try to save some of Piccolo's people," Pan insisted. Gaining a look of approval from Kuririn and Bulma, the lavender haired girl looked over to Dende and smiled at him with sincere endearment to him.
"Th-Thank you," The small emerald child said, looking around and bowing to the lot of them with desire ebbing from his calm voice. One that began to crack as his big eyes looked up with tears threatening to flow from them. "It means a lot that you want to help us!"
"You can count on us," Bulma said with a wink and tongue sticking out, her sister pushing out a pair of fingers in a V shape.
As everyone exchanged comments and glances, awaiting the next bout to the planet to find the Grand Elder, Pan couldn't help but look at the underwater scenery of Namek. Somewhere, far away, her uncle and father were coming to help them. If they were going to be successful they'd have to fight smart and move carefully if they were going to survive until then.
"Don't worry, papa!" She thought with a look of conviction etched over her face. "You can count on me!"
Demod20:This is probably one of my favorite chapters in terms of Villain writing. Not even just because I get to deliver a truly wicked Vegeta showcase, but also just take a sample of some of my favorite ones in the Saiyan Arc. Creating a duality between the Prince of all Saiyans and the cruel tyrant Freeza was probably the best parallel for a single chapter to accomplish. Tullece also showing he's more than a simple goon is another thing I like displaying, and his relationship to the rest of the main characters is quite telling that his involvement will be more than a simple side show. As for the Heroes side, I had a little fun writing the banter of our characters and the introduction of the meek yet calm Dende. Thankfully Bulma is thinking more proactively in our story instead of whining while waiting; plus she's got plenty of Capsule Corp weapons she's got packing in case of emergencies! I enjoyed what I read of my Co-Author's rendition of Raditz and Goku; this is the kind of dynamic denied to us by Toriyama, of having an actual brotherhood for the Main Character to have with someone so alike yet so different at the same time. This also gifted us the ability to inform Goku just what he's up against, and to grant him context to why this confrontation is so important; along with genetic relations Tullece has to our dynamic duo. Can't wait to unveil what comes next, see you all in the next several months!
LastationLover5000: Heya, everyone! This chapter was a doozy on Demod's part, but I got to the handle the more subdued portions this time! And I didn't mind that, it was quite fun to be able to take on this section. The interactions between Gokū, Raditz, Panchy, and Brief were a great fun to write, and I had the privilege of dropping a little bombshell up there! I hope you all enjoy this chapter, and we'll see you soon!