Disclaimer: I do not own
Author's Note: I couldn't continue any of my other stories until I got this little one-shot out of my head. I tried to make it purely humorous, but anyone who has read my other work knows that anything I try always turns into angst. Note: I will always add the appellation "King" whenever I refer to King Vegeta. The Vegeta we all know and love, especially when he's in chibi form, can be either Vegeta or Prince Vegeta. Whatever. Enjoy.
Added Author's Notes: I replaced the first edition with this edited one. I looked back at movie 8 and realized it WAS the lighting that was making Brolly's hair look purple. I think they miscolored it in Butoden 2, though. I'm not quite sure. I fixed it. Too back, though. Had to get rid of a good moment of irony, where Vegeta said that he'd get rid of his child if it had purple hair. *Sigh* I also fixed a couple of typos. Not many, though. I'm surprised, considering I didn't carefully reread this before I posted it the first time.
Meeting of Rivals
On a planet that stood just outside of the current boundaries of the Kold Empire, closer to Lord Frieza's territory than any other, lived a warrior race of some reputation called the Saiyans. Once a refugee minority on the planet Plant, the warriors had wrested power away from the technological natives of the planet – the Tsufuru. Of all the Saiyans, one man had risen to power, eventually commanding and unifying all the Saiyans. The man, considered of noble birth by tradition, became the king of all Saiyans. After the ultimate defeat of the Tsufuru, the planet was renamed after its new king – the planet Vegeta. King Vegeta led the Saiyans into a golden age of prosperity, technology, strength, and the advent of playing a serious role in intergalactic politics. The planet Vegeta witnessed another explosion in prosperity when the Saiyan Empire became allied to the Kold Empire, and Lord Frieza, to be more precise. Through the Kold Empire, the reputation of the Saiyans spread across the galaxy as some of the fiercest warriors in existence. Rumors spread of the unlimited potential of each Saiyan warrior – that they were impossible to kill, but if you fight them, you'd better kill them, because they'd come back stronger than ever. This became common knowledge, but what didn't become widely known was that Frieza was nervous.
None of this truly mattered to the heir of the great Saiyan Empire, the son of that first king of Planet Vegeta. The five-year-old Prince Vegeta stood by his father's throne, grinning in the delight of just being there. It wasn't all that often that he was allowed in the throne room on court days. He'd been standing there for a couple of hours, but he didn't get bored like he usually did during his lessons. At times like this he could marvel at the immensity and power of the Saiyan Empire, and his father. There was no way he could get bored. Whenever there was a lull in activity, he would marvel at the giant stone statues of legendary Saiyans long since past that lined the walls of the throne room. Or he'd gaze out the window into the exotic inner gardens of the palace – so different from the arid red cliffs and low-lands that characterized the planet of his birth. The world was a wonder, and some day it would all be his.
The little prince looked up at his father, whose voice was terrifying to some, but comforting to him. King Vegeta was the most powerful Saiyan alive – the only way he could keep his position. But Prince Vegeta didn't of the conspiracies against his father. Prince Vegeta didn't know of the tenuous politics that ran throughout the palace – the quarrels over the alliance with Frieza. Prince Vegeta didn't know about the rebellious Saiyan factions that had secretly sided with the Tsufuru and would have gladly seen the entire royal family, including him, slaughtered. All he knew was that the Saiyan Empire was the greatest force in the universe, and his father was the strongest and most powerful man in the universe. The boy only hoped to become just like him.
Warrior after warrior bowed before the king, who pronounced judgment on all. Every now and then the king would murmur instruction to his son, who would listen wide-eyed and absorb all. He was desperate to become as strong as his father. Of course, he could become stronger, and would, but he couldn't comprehend anything stronger than the king. He had lived a relatively sheltered life of training, studying, and practically worshipping King Vegeta. Words like "Frieza" and "Kold Empire" were just abstraction to him, not at all applicable to his life. He had never even seen the man called Frieza, having been sent to another part of the palace whenever Frieza would come to see his father. He didn't truly understand the fear the always ran with that name. As they say, ignorance is bliss.
"King Vegeta!" A harried court messenger ran into the throne room and fell to his knees, almost knocking down a rather tough-looking elite. Prince Vegeta snickered. He was going to get it.
King Vegeta regarded the messenger calmly, but with a foreboding sense. The man would not have risked life and limb without good reason. "What is it, warrior."
The messenger stayed on the floor, sweat dripping from his face, oblivious to the murderous glares he was getting from the elite near him. "Lord Frieza is here, and is requesting audience."
"What?" King Vegeta surged to his feet. The rest of the Saiyans in the throne room started mumbling amongst themselves. Usually Frieza give them a little notice – at least a day. Who knew what he wanted. The few elite children who had been allowed in the throne room that day were bustled out my parents or any Saiyan that happened to notice them. Prince Vegeta crossed his arms, refusing to just run out with his tail between his legs. He was determined to see this Frieza for himself, to see what the big deal was.
For the moment, King Vegeta was a little preoccupied to notice that his son had not left. He was busy barking orders at various warriors. Prince Vegeta frowned as a note of fear crept into his father's voice, then shook it off. It wasn't fear; it was just hurry. The boy was too busy marveling at his own luck. He usually didn't like to be ignored, but his diminutive stature was working well for him that day. No one had sent him out yet. Prince Vegeta edged behind the throne to heighten the chances of him staying and peeked his head from behind.
Slowly, the huge double-doors across the room opened, admitting the reddish mid-day light in an ever-widening strip on the floor, which moved along the room until it basked the king in an angry glow. Abruptly the light was broken by a large shadow. Vegeta's eyes widened. The shadow was enormous. He started to understand why Frieza was so feared. The boy waited breathlessly, expecting the monstrous form of Frieza. But as the form drew closer, the shadow diminished. The doors closed, and the appearance of Frieza was finally revealed. Vegeta smirked when he saw the famed tyrant. 'He looks like a fat grandmother,' the child thought.
Indeed, Vegeta had never seen a warrior quite like Frieza. Every warrior that was worth anything was muscled, yet slightly compact. Like Vegeta's father. And they walked under their own power. They didn't need a hover chair. Vegeta wondered if the tyrant was crippled and only used ki to fight and keep his reputation. Even if that was the case, Vegeta was now sure that Frieza had an obvious weakness. All the fear Frieza inspired was pure exaggeration.
"Kakra! Get back here!"
The awed silence was broken by the violence clatter of a side door being thrown open. A tiny Saiyan boy burst through the gather throng of warriors, narrowly escaping capture. Unfortunately, the boy ran straight Frieza, hitting the hover chair at just the right place to send it toppling over. The next thing anyone knew, Frieza was standing next to his fallen hover chair on perfectly good legs and the boy Kakra was on the other end of the room, unconscious.
Vegeta was so astounded that he didn't even hear the apologies his father was trying to make, or the amused disdain with which Frieza answered these entreaties. He was too busy reevaluating his opinion of Frieza. Kakra was an elite child, near Prince Vegeta's power level. He trained with him occasionally. And Frieza had nonchalantly thrown him across the room with a move that, from the looks of it, King Vegeta couldn't even see. Despite the unassuming appearance, Frieza was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Vegeta continued to stare at the tyrant, completely fascinated. 'Why didn't I bring a scouter?' he thought wistfully. 'I'll bet his power readings would be off the records.'
"Well," Frieza said in a voice that reinforced Vegeta's "fat grandmother" image, "since one of your 'great warriors' has deprived me of a seat . . ."
Vegeta glared at the tyrant from his hiding place. How dare he? There was no way… until the prince saw his father move away from the glorious Saiyan throne, offering it to Frieza, as if the almighty King of Saiyans was a low-class servant. Vegeta looked up at his father with big eyes as Frieza sat down with a "You're too kind." The king was bowing fearfully, like a common servant or a low-class warrior who'd displeased his master. Vegeta didn't understand it, and he didn't like it. Beyond thinking, he crossed around in front of the throne, practically nose to nose with the most feared man in the universe. In a voice brimming with a combination of royal indignation and childish anger, the prince growled, "Get off my father's throne."
Frieza and Vegeta stared hard at each other, completely ignoring the startled gasps of the Saiyan warriors in the room and King Vegeta's exclamation. Vegeta looked on with unbridled wrath, while Frieza regarded the child with restrained amusement. Vegeta then realized what he'd done, and braced for the blow he expected to come. The blow didn't come, only a patronizing chuckle that drove the prince's anger to new heights. He was about to attack, or maybe just spout off at the mouth some more, when his father stopped him.
"Vegeta, you're dismissed."
The prince stood his ground, half out of fear and half out of stubbornness. He knew what happened when he ignored his father's orders, but he didn't care at the time. Keeping his eyes on Frieza, he said in a dead calm voice, "I want to stay, father."
A sudden bright light caught Vegeta's eye. He turned, only to be looking straight into his father's ki pointed straight at him. Vegeta's breath caught in his throat. Suddenly, the threat from his father was more immediate. His father had never powered up a ki-blast to him as a form of punishment. Vegeta knew this was serious.
Again, King Vegeta repeated, "Vegeta, you're dismissed."
Visibly trembling, Vegeta turned tail and ran out of the throne room. He still heard the disgusting laughter coming from the tyrant, and almost turned back to challenge it. But the thought of further displeasing his father pushed him on. He ran through the corridors, his face red with anger, pushing down any Saiyan he met. No one around had the authority to reprimand him, so Vegeta was free to do as he would, for the moment. Vegeta didn't even acknowledge the warriors he met. He was too shamed – too confused – too angry.
The prince got to a relatively quiet part of the palace and sat down just outside a door. He pulled his legs to his chest and curled his arms and tail around. He sniffed in shameful childish anger. It just wasn't fair. He'd been reprimanded in front of the entire Saiyan court AND Frieza. He'd actually been proud that he had the courage to stand up to Frieza when even his own father bowed to him, but now Vegeta realized that he'd just come off as looking like a weak little baby. He angrily wiped a mutinous tear that he'd been fighting off. If he cried, he'd look like even more of a baby. Wiping away a few more tears, Vegeta sank into a true pout.
The boy started, heart pounding as he realized the identity of the voice and the reason it was calling him. He was supposed to be training with Nappa. The general had specifically made a break in his tight schedule to work with him. If Nappa caught him now, especially after his performance in the throne room . . .
Before Nappa turned the corner to see Vegeta, the boy ducked into the nearest doorway. He closed the door quickly and took a few minutes to catch his breath. Vegeta didn't really see anyone around, but there was a noise that broke into his thoughts and grated against his nerves. Vegeta looked around, and saw that he was in the nursery. He grinned. Nappa would never look for him here.
Going down the rows of mechanical bassinets, Vegeta regarded each baby with a whimsical amusement. Their name, fathers' names, and power levels were listed on the foot of each bed. Most of them were third-class, ready to be shipped off to other worlds. The longer Vegeta stayed in the nursery, the louder the sound grew. Any doctors or nurses were absent at the moment, so Vegeta decided to investigate the disturbance himself. Some baby was crying, and Vegeta thought that maybe he could get the baby to go to sleep, like most of the infants surrounding him. Maybe even knock the baby out. The problem was, the cries were so loud that they seemed to fill the entire room. Vegeta wondered that he hadn't been able to hear them outside of the room through even the thick soundproofing.
Finally Vegeta got to the cause of the shrill noise that hurt his ears. Vegeta pulled himself up to look into a bassinet deep in the third-class section was a squalling naked newborn with the wildest head of hair Vegeta had ever seen. The hair did look vaguely familiar, though. The boy floated down and read from the chart on the bed.
The squalling baby did not acknowledge its name. He just kept on screaming, as if his life depended on it. Vegeta smirked. "Now I know why I recognized you. You're Bardock's son. He's one of my tutors. You look just like him. Stupid hair and low power level and everything."
Still the baby did not acknowledge him. Vegeta turned to the baby next to Kakarrot – a baby with dark purple hair and looked to be pretty upset about being next to such a loud-mouth. He read the name off the chart. "Brolly." The prince looked up at the baby. "I don't blame you for being mad. You probably can't even get any sleep, he's so loud." Vegeta looked again at Brolly's chart. "Father: Paragus. Power level: . . . Hey, you know they didn't put a power level for you, don't you? Maybe it's because you have purple hair. If I ever had a purple headed kid, I'd get rid of it, too. How embarrassing."
Vegeta shrugged, writing them both off as low-levels that would be sent to other planets. "You're lucky, you know," he addressed Kakarrot. The other seemed a bit too weak for his taste. "Your father won't yell at you. You won't have to put up with it." He snickered. "Good thing too. Bardock has a pretty bad temper. But you won't have to put up with that. You'll have a whole planet to conquer. You won't have to go to lessons and have people tell you what to do and . . ."
Vegeta trailed off bitterly. Kakarrot wouldn't have to deal with Frieza. He wouldn't have to see his father bow to that disgusting tyrant. Seeing his power level, Kakarrot would probably take years just to conquer a little weakling planet. By that time King Vegeta would probably have killed Frieza. Vegeta grinned at the thought of his father killing that bully. He began imagining how his father would do it, until Kakarrot's screams became more than he could take.
"Shut up already, you stupid little third-class! You're hurting my ears!"
Kakarrot continued to ignore him, and if anything the screams grew louder. Vegeta scowled and floated up to look at the insubordinate third-class. "Hey, I was talking to you. Shut up!"
Vegeta put his hand over Kakarrot's mouth, and for a minute the infant's cries were halted. Vegeta smiled in momentary relief. Kakarrot was starting to give him a headache.
"Prince Vegeta. I was not aware you were in here."
A doctor whose name Vegeta couldn't remember was stepping in from an adjoining room. Vegeta looked up to acknowledge the doctor, and that was all the distraction Kakarrot needed. Sliding his mouth around the inhibiting hand, the Saiyan infant chomped down with all his might.
In the shock, Vegeta took a minute to realize what was happening. He let out a scream, and wrenched his hand away from the sharp baby teeth. He held his hand for a moment, glowering at the neat row of tooth marks left by the third-class Saiyan. With a yell, he powered up a ki-blast intended to incinerate the offending child. Kakarrot, not really comprehending his precarious situation, started giggling at his own accomplishment. Vegeta's eyes hardened. That baby would pay for that.
Vegeta whirled around in the air at his name. He only heard his name without the appellation whenever he was in trouble. And sure enough, he was. There was Nappa standing in the doorway, a murderous expression on his face. Vegeta gulped and quickly absorbed the ki-blast he still had pointed forward, now at Nappa instead of Kakarrot.
"Where have you been?! I've been looking all over for you!"
Nappa seemed even more upset than usual. Vegeta realized he must have heard about what happened in the throne room. Vegeta's head went down in shame. Nappa was one of the only people who had the authority to order him around, and woe betide the prince if he ever disrespected the general.
"And what were you doing? Trying to kill a baby?!" Nappa continued.
Vegeta's indignation shot up at the memory. "He bit me!"
Nappa smirked at the evidence to the attack on the prince. "I'm sure he was a true threat to your safety. Beware the third-class who can threaten the prince."
Vegeta glowered, ashamed at the ridicule he had to endure. The doctor just laughed. "Well, this is one third-class you won't have to worry about any more. I was just about to prep him for his space pod. I was just waiting for Bardock."
Nappa cleared his throat. "Bardock's probably on a mission right now. He wouldn't even come to see the boy if he was here."
"Oh." The doctor seemed a bit sad, but shook the expression away. "Doesn't matter anyway. Oh, well. Here we go, Kakarrot." He took the baby up in his arms and walked out.
Nappa's expression softened as he regarded his prince. "Vegeta," he began, "we need to talk."
Before Nappa could lead Vegeta out of the nursery, a group of royal guards walked gravely into the room. After giving respectful bows to their prince and their general, they turned their attention to the rows of bassinets. Finally locating one, the guards roughly grabbed the purple-haired baby that had been so upset by Kakarrot's screams. Again bowing to Nappa and Vegeta, they walked out.
"What would a bunch of guards need with a little baby?" Vegeta asked, half to himself.
Nappa's eyes narrowed in seeming regret for a moment. "Never mind that. Let's go."
As the two walked out of the room, a Saiyan about Nappa's age ran straight into the general. The Saiyan had a desperate look about him, and was upset enough to completely forget protocol. Without even an apology, he ran into the nursery.
"They've already taken him, Paragus," Nappa called after him.
The Saiyan – Paragus – whirled around at Nappa's words. Vegeta was shocked. He rarely saw any warrior in such a state of fear and desperation. "Why didn't you stop them, General?" Paragus demanded in a thick whisper. "You have the power – you could have stopped them –"
Nappa's eyes hardened. Vegeta winced; he knew that Nappa didn't like his authority questioned. "I have bigger problems than worrying about your son."
Paragus's eyes widened, and from his mouth emitted a string of curses, most of which Vegeta had never even heard of. Before Nappa could reprimand him for using such language and manners around his betters, the desperate father ran out of the nursery and sprinted to the throne room.
"What was that all about?" Vegeta demanded.
Nappa merely bowed his head and ignored the question. "I need to get you fitted for armor. We're going on a journey."
"A journey?" Vegeta looked up suspiciously at Nappa's grim demeanor. Usually journeys to other planets were happy occasions that he could spend learning from his father. He so looked forward to those trips in space, but King Vegeta hadn't mentioned anything. "Will father be coming along?"
"Then I wish to say goodbye to him." Vegeta stopped, fully intending to turn around and walk to the throne room.
"Oh, I wouldn't count on it," came a voice from the shadows.
A tall green-skinned soldier walked in front of the two, flanked by alien guards. Vegeta took a surprised step back, and Nappa quickly moved in between the strange soldier and his prince. "It isn't time yet," the general said threateningly, yet with a tinge of panic to his voice.
"But Lord Frieza's ready to blow this place," Zarbon said, with a touch of dark humor. But Nappa was too worried about the prince to catch the double meaning.
"Wait!" Vegeta yelled. "You never said anything about going with Frieza. I'm not going anywhere with that fat grandmother!"
Zarbon scowled. "You'd best never insult Lord Frieza again, if you know what's good for you." Then his scowl twisted into a smirk. "And you don't have a choice. The agreement's already been made. Your father sold you to Lord Frieza, so you'll have to come with us. Don't worry though." Zarbon stooped so he could be eye-to-eye with Vegeta. "We'll take good care of you."
The last thing Vegeta thought before blacking out was that attacking was probably not the smartest thing he'd ever done.
The thought continued when he woke up in a pitch-black cell that Vegeta deduced could only be aboard Frieza's ship. He sat on a bench, and after a few hours a small stream of light was allowed in when whoever kept the cells realized the prince was awake. The rest of the cell was dark, but Vegeta could guess at the dimensions from the tiny squeaks of rats in the far corners covered in shadow. When one half-starved rat ventured too close to Vegeta, the boy fried it with a small ki-blast. Shaking in disgust of the horrible vermin he'd almost never encountered in the palace, he kept his hand extended, daring any rats to come near him.
After a moment, Vegeta found himself staring at his hand. It was covered with tiny tooth marks, reminding him of the Saiyan baby who'd bit him what seemed like days ago. He reflected on his own state, and what he guessed was the state of that loud-mouthed newborn. Vegeta, the Prince of all Saiyans, was sitting in a dank, dark, rat-infested cell with the pangs of hunger gnawing at his stomach and his throat burning with thirst – betrayed and sold by his father – a slave of Frieza. The little low-level Kakarrot was lying, probably dozing, in a comfortable space pod where all his needs would be instantly taken care of, heading to a planet that would be crushed under his feet in a few short years. Vegeta grumbled at the unfairness of it all. Curling tightly into a ball on the cold, hard bench, yet not daring to go to sleep lest the rats take vengeance for their dead kinsman, Vegeta swore vengeance on the tiny son of Bardock.
"Somehow," Vegeta whispered bitterly into the darkness, "this is all your fault, Kakarrot."