By Dragoness Eclectic
All my DBZ stories are tied together, so if you haven't read "Why?" and "Welcome to Hell, Son", you might want to. Any alterations from standard reality will be obvious, so--enjoy!
On the burning plain, a demon paused, sniffing the air. It was a small, wiry demon, barely man-high, with the appearance of a horribly emaciated grey man with huge, round eyes, crooked pointy teeth, and elongated fingers tipped with monstrous claws. Its head swung from side to side, listening, smelling, waiting.
SWA-KOOM! A rock exploded in a flash of energy! The demon leaped toward the source of the blast, razor-sharp claws extended, chittering eagerly at the sweet taste of soul force.
Its target side-stepped the demon's charge, and a keen blade lashed out. The demon collapsed as it landed, its feet cut out from under it. It wailed, and futilely tried to ward off the bright blade with its claws. The head rolled, still wailing and gnashing its teeth, until the point of the blade pinned it to the burning plain.
"Got you! I thought you were never going to come out of hiding, but you just couldn't resist the taste of raw ki, could you?" The demon's would-be victim smirked. He might have been human, except for the long furred tail wrapped around his waist and the immense mane of stiff black hair that flowed down his back to below his knees.
"Feh. A sword, Raditz? I didn't think you'd fallen that far!" came a contemptuous, familiar voice from behind.
The tall, powerfully-built warrior answered without even looking behind himself, "The mara is an energy vampire, Vegeta. It feeds on soul force. My blade is as steel; it has neither passion nor energy; it's just sharp." He smirked. "I'd be happy to let you fight it, but then I'd have to clean up the mess." He finally turned, carefully keeping the writhing demon's head pinned with the blade, to look at his former partner and prince.
"Hmmph! So don't blast it, just hit it." The saiyan prince aimed a vicious kick at the demon's head; Raditz blocked it. "You dare?"
"The mara drains soul force by touch--yours or its. You really don't want to finish that kick!" Raditz grinned unpleasantly. "He's weak now--I haven't let him feed for days--but you should see him all charged up. Heh. The maras hang around the borderland, looking for mortals whose spirits are wandering in dreams--then they harry them all night, sucking ki out of their souls and giving them nightmares in return. Good for me Earth mortals are so weak; maras can't do much more than look really ugly from what they steal. Too bad for Earth mortals they are so weak--they die or go mad from the life theft if it keeps up."
Vegeta laughed; a cold, malicious sound. "So blasting the little bastard would make him stronger, would it? And he'd steal my strength if I fought him hand-to-hand? That would be a tricky fight.. an interesting fight! Are there other demons like him?"
"There are. Why do you think the Saiyajin Demon Guard--my outfit--all carry swords?" He took out a small black stone, and stopped, looking quizzically at Vegeta. "When did you get here? Did you die recently, Vegeta, or am I clueless as usual?"
"Not much more than a week ago." The short, dark-haired saiyan frowned, and spent some time straightening out his white gloves. "There is a problem--I've already been wished back once with Earth's dragonballs, and no one knows where Namek's dragonballs or the Nameks are. They can't wish me back."
"I could have been wished back with the dragonballs--funny how that never happened. Sympathy isn't one of my virtues, Vegeta." He abruptly clapped the black stone to the demon's head, and watched coldly as the demon's head and body dissolved into mist and seeped into the stone.
"I was better off without you," the prince of the saiyajin said coldly, as he turned and walked away.
Raditz sighed and straightened, demon-stone in hand. "Wait, Vegeta."
"I shouldn't have said that. I dug my own grave, and I didn't leave many friends behind. I've no right to complain.."
"Did you leave any friends at all behind?"
"One." Raditz smiled to himself.
"Vegeta, you were my prince and I was loyal to you unto death, but you were always 'the strong man who stands alone, above all'. Remember?"
"Yes, I know. Who--"
"Nappa. He was a good friend, mentor, and teacher--and he would have wished me back if he'd had the chance. He told me that much." Raditz spoke quietly. "I would have wished him back."
"Nappa should not have lost to a mere third-class warrior like Kakarott." Vegeta closed his eyes, and half-turned away, the regret in his face belying his callous words.
Raditz looked at Vegeta, astonished. He opened his mouth as if to say something, then thought better of it. You have changed, my prince. You have changed.
"I don't have friends here," Vegeta said. "Though my father is.. my ally in this. There's only you, or Nappa, and Nappa--"
"--is still a bit peeved at you for killing him." Raditz regarded his fallen prince thoughtfully. "When did you ever have any use for friends?"
Vegeta smirked. "I never had a use for them, but they're a nuisance I've acquired along with my wife and son. However, they're all alive and not here. By the way, how is Nappa otherwise?"
Raditz just stood there. "Wife.. and.. son?" He blinked. "Wife and son? You have a wife and son?"
"It does happen--we choose a mate, we have children.. I have heard that such a thing might have happened with our fathers," Vegeta's sarcasm was sharp enough to cut. "Now if you're paying attention.."
"Oh, you've got my attention. I'm curious as to what amazing thing I'm going to hear next."
"My wife, Bulma--an old friend of Kakarott's--is alone and unprotected without me. They can't wish me back. I will find a way back myself."
"That's impossible! You can only go back as a ghost, and only if the way is opened for you..."
"I could--and I have, briefly--but I mean to go back as myself, not a powerless ghost. I have learned that it has been done before, and if some mere human can do it, so can I!" Vegeta's eyes were wide with excitement and determination.
"But how? As far as I know--"
"There are other hells, deeper hells than this. Other pasts, other peoples now forgotten went to them. There are legends of humans and others escaping, or winning their way back to life from those hells."
Raditz closed his eyes. "Of course. The mythic hells." He opened his eyes again. "You would. You can't resist a challenge like that! You know the way is guarded, don't you?"
"Of course. I have my father's 'kind permission' to make the attempt; I also have your father's permission for one other thing." King Vegeta, Duke of the Hell of Evil Warriors, had not been overly enthusiastic about his son's proposed quest, but had grudgingly acceded. The occasionallly prescient Commander Bardock, Lord-General of the Legions of Hell, had been enigmatic but cooperative.
"I don't know how long I'll be gone on this.. quest, but I won't be able to watch over her and protect her while I'm gone. I want you to do that."
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CONTINUED IN CHAPTER II. EARTH
Disclaimer: Dragonball, Dragonball Z and all the associated DBZ characters (too numerous to list) are the property of Akira Toriyama and a whole lot of other people who are not me; the Opawang and his Ochimo were originally created by Jeff Grubb and are probably the property of TSR/WOTC/Hasbro; a bunch of other characters belong to others, see . for details. Everyone else is mine, and this story is mine, too. This is a not-for-profit work.
Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic
Last Updated: Mar 8, 2009.