Howdy! So, I've decided to take another stab at my most popular work on this site, mostly so I could read through it without cringing at every last bit of prose, and to tone down the edgelord vibes. I wrote that story by the seat of my pants as a bored college student with barely any life experience, writing skill, or media exposure besides pro wrestling and children's anime. Now I'm a bored capitalism mercenary...er, copywriter at an ad agency, with a better grasp of storytelling. Expect the earlier chapters to have only minor narrative changes, with the rewrites mostly on the technical side. But it will drift further away from the original story over time.

Hope y'all enjoy (again), and no, I don't own Dragon Ball, Z, GT, or Super. Do I look like Akira Toriyama to you?!


The four-year-old half-Saiyan tried to recall what had brought him to this frigid, murky planet. All he remembered was being kidnapped by that…Saiyan or whatever. Yeah, his "uncle," Raditz. Then he said something about "power levels" and "710," but whatever was spoken beyond that faded into a blur. The last thing he recalled before being shoved into the spaceship and knocked out was Raditz saying -

"Kakarot isn't worth it…this boy is far stronger…"

Son Gohan reached for the top of his head, only to realize that his red hat, with the four-star Dragon Ball sitting atop it, was gone. Raditz probably carelessly shoved it away back at the crater, meaning Gohan's father had no way of tracking him down. All Goku would find when he got there was the ball and an empty crater.

Water filled Gohan's eyes as reality blossomed - but before he could cry out his despair, a harsh blow to his neck stopped him.

"Enough of your crying, boy!" Raditz ordered, "I already had enough of it on your planet and I will not be dealing with it now!"

Gohan stiffened, forcing his tears back. If he knew anything about this man, it was his absolute treacher; he was more than capable of carrying out his threats.

"Good, nephew," Raditz said with a snicker. His long hair waved in the air as he turned around. "Now follow me, if you know what's good for you."

Gohan meekly nodded and did as ordered. While following Raditz's lead, he took in his surroundings. It was a rather barren planet, made up largely of mountains and cliffs; a bland white dome surrounded by a few towers was their destination. For such a nondescript building, it filled Gohan with dread – in there were Raditz's associates, and they were sure to be every bit as nasty as he.

Why couldn't he just be home with mom and dad? It was all so simple before, but in only one nightmare of a day, Gohan's entire world flipped upside down. There he was, trapped on a planet with a ruthless space pirate and his comrades, with no help in sight.

Raditz pushed a button that slid the door open. Gohan followed his lead into the facility. It looked like a science laboratory, rife with gadgets and machines. Men clad in armor resembling Raditz's walked about, eying Gohan harshly as they passed him. If fear weren't consuming Gohan's thoughts at the moment, he may have been captivated by all of the unique technology.

They came to a stop once Raditz found whom he was seeking. "Ah, Vegeta, Nappa, here as I expected."

Raditz's two comrades grunted as he stepped aside to bring Gohan into clearer view. The four year old looked up at the two men before him. The first was a behemoth of a man; tall, stout, bald and mustachioed. Even a child like Gohan could sense he was a maniac on the battlefield.

But it was the other one who truly commanded Gohan's attention, so much that he shriveled up in his presence. He was short; even with his spiky hair that stood up like a flame, he barely even made it to the bald one's shoulder. His height failed to tell the story, though - it was his eyes, intense even at rest. His pupils were black ice, hazardous in their own right. Though a smirk etched his countenance, Gohan saw a savage warrior lurking beneath it; one capable of sending the toughest thugs in space running for their lives with his piercing gaze alone.

A lump filled Gohan's throat as he tried to contain his fear. "Tried" being the operative word.

Both soldiers laughed at the trembling toddler before them. "Oh man, this kid's gonna be a funny one!" said the bald one.

"Allow me to introduce you to your two new comrades, boy," Raditz began, "This is Nappa," He said, pointing at the bald one, "And this, is Vegeta. He is our leader, and your prince. You are to do as he says and do it well."

Vegeta's smirk curled into a frown as he scrutinized the boy. His studious stare made Gohan avert his eyes to the floor.

"Anyway, the kid's name is Gohan, although I'm sure you'll just refer to him as 'brat,' Vegeta," Raditz snickered.

"Hn. I just hope you're right about him; you better not be wasting our time with just a sniveling, weak little half-breed." Gohan froze at the sound of Vegeta's voice. It was deep, gruff, and most importantly, commanding. Yet at the same time, his tone was almost bored.

"I assure you, Vegeta, he has potential. If we are to hone it, he shall prove very useful," Raditz argued, choosing his words carefully and watching his tone so as not to anger the prince.

Not acknowledging his taller subordinate, Vegeta inched towards the quivering halfling. Vegeta took a second to snicker; those looks of crippling fear towards him never got old. He raised a hand to the pink device over his eyes and pushed a button. It flashed a few yellow symbols before stopping with a loud beep.

"Hmm…710," Vegeta muttered.

"Correct. That's the exact power level I read as well. I figured it was a malfunction, though I couldn't be sure," Raditz explained, "Seeing as how yours is saying the same thing, I can only assume it's correct."

Vegeta nonchalantly nodded. "Indeed. Going by Kakarot's power level that you gave us, this boy should prove more useful than his father would have been for our next mission."

"Yes, and unlike Kakarot, he has a tail. He'll be able to make a transformation in case the battle gets tough."

Vegeta turned to the side. "I'll go and double check the numbers on Planet Trident. Make sure the brat doesn't try anything funny."

"Yes, sir."

Vegeta walked down the hall. Nappa approached Gohan with a boorish grin, much to Raditz's amusement. "So this is Kakarot's kid, huh?" With no regard for his personal space, he yanked Gohan's yellow tunic. "His clothes look stupid."

"G-get off me!" Gohan yelled, but his plea fell on amused ears. Nappa did oblige, though...by tossing him to the ground like a China doll.

Raditz approached Gohan with folded arms. "Hell of a far cry from that spoiled, pampered life you were living before, isn't it?"

Gohan didn't reply, instead fidgeting up to his feet. Sweat filled his forehead, his despair over his predicament swelling with every second.

Nappa laughed. "Don't be scared, brat! You should be glad you're getting away from that stupid mudball! We're gonna make you a real warrior."

The words made Gohan squeeze his eyes shut. "B-but, I don't wanna be a real warrior, I wanna be a scholar!" None of that mattered to the two Saiyans who stood, who only continued to laugh at him. Tears spilled from his eyelids, but that harsh voice showed up to promptly cut off his whimpers.

"Cease your whining, brat! You are a Saiyan, not a 'scholar'!" Vegeta shouted. Determined to not even inch to his bad side, Gohan quickly shut his mouth and forced any more tears from leaving his eyes. The prince reverted his attention to Nappa and Raditz. "I just checked the numbers again. Planet Trident's average power level is 12,000, though the greatest power levels go as high as twenty. With the Great Ape transformation, we should be able to scope out the strongest ones with ease."

That lump filled Gohan's throat again. What even was this? Going to planets, killing innocent people? Why was he, a mere boy, being tossed into this? He was too young to even consider harming others, let alone kill.

But even a boy as young as Gohan understood that any protest in front of Vegeta would mean his death.

"Will you look at that, the brat's so eager about his first mission!" Raditz joked.

Gohan's resolve slipped away. "But why do you guys even need me? I'm just a kid!"

"'Just a kid?'" Vegeta echoed. "All three of us were your age when we started fighting. Man up, or you die here."

Well, he certainly had a compelling argument. Gohan looked down and whispered, "Okay."

"Hn. We still have about another week until we're sent out. Let's get you cleaned up and in a set of armor so we can introduce you to -" it was subtle, but Gohan noticed Vegeta glance at the device over his eye and let out the faintest growl - "Lord Frieza. We'll also get a few days of training in for him."

Raditz nodded at his nephew and cocked his head in his comrade's directions as an instruction to follow. Gohan complied and walked with them to a metallic door. Vegeta pressed a button and it slid open, revealing a closet filled with replicas of the armor the three Saiyans were wearing. Raditz grabbed a set and tossed it down to the floor in front of Gohan.

"Here, wear this," he said.

Gohan nodded and picked the outfit up. The armor was black, with green shoulder and crotch guards. It came with white boots & gloves, and a dark blue, long sleeve bodysuit. Gohan looked at Vegeta and gulped before speaking up again.

"Permission to speak, sir?" he asked nervously.

That got a laugh out of all three warriors and filled Gohan's cheeks with crimson shame.

"Ha, now he gets it!" Nappa howled.

"Kid, you can speak as long as you're not whining," Vegeta said. His expression shifted back to stern. "Now, what were you gonna say?"

"Is this the formal attire around here or something?"

"Not formal attire, idiot. It's our armor; we Saiyans got it from the Tuffles that used to live on our planet until our ancestors…politely asked them to leave," Vegeta replied, although his cryptic tone left no secret as to what he really meant. "Lord Frieza and his men adopted it for their little organization when they discovered our planet."

Raditz nodded and pointed to his right. "Now go find a closet and change, boy."

Gohan hesitantly made his way to the nearest closet. It took him nearly all of his strength just to get the door open. Once he shut it, he let every piece of his uniform slip from his hands and collapsed to his hands and knees, his breath as heavy as an anvil. Frankly, he would've rather locked himself in and rot away.

The Saiyan trio soon heard Gohan's ring from behind the closet door. "Hey, how do I put this stupid thing on?"

"Just force it over your head, it's rubber and can stretch to any size!" Raditz answered. His nephew's whining voice felt like a screw twisting against his eardrum.

About five minutes later, Gohan arrived from the closet in his new Saiyan armor. All three looked him up and down and gave approving nods. Raditz tossed a device at him that looked just like the one they all wore over their left eye. This one was blue, like Nappa's.

"This is a scouter. Put it on, so we can communicate with you. It also measures power levels," Raditz explained.

Gohan nodded and placed the device on his ear like the three Saiyans did. "Now, press the button to activate it," Raditz directed. Gohan did as told, and a yellow light flashed at the bottom of his scouter and beeped.

"And wrap your tail around your waist. You don't want it sticking out so some fool can sneak up on you in a pathetic attempt to increase their rank," Vegeta said.

Gohan had almost forgotten about his tail, which had been waving restlessly back and forth since he woke up in this predicament. He wrapped it tightly around his waist, not doubting for a second that the people around here weren't above such foul play.

"Good. Now we'll go to the home base to introduce you to Lord Frieza," Raditz said.

"Um…who is this Frieza guy?" Gohan asked.

"He is our ruler," Vegeta replied. "When you're not answering to me, you're answering to him." Gohan didn't miss the bitterness lacing his tone.

"Oh boy, ya think he's ready for Frieza's test?" Nappa asked with a smirk.

Gohan's whole body went stiff. "What do you mean?! Wh-what kinda test? Do I have to study for it?!"

Laughter escaped Raditz so explosively he needed to press himself against the wall to calm down. "Get a load of this kid!"

"Ah, we're doing you a great favor getting you off of that planet," Vegeta said, reeling from light chuckles himself.

That was it. Gohan was just going to stay silent for as long as necessary.

"But anyway," Raditz began, wiping a few humored tears from his eye. "We're not going to sugarcoat it. He's going to have his two right-hand men attack you."

The young Saiyan breathed a fearful gasp. Vegeta shook his head. "Raditz, are you really sure this toddler will be of use to us?"

"As I've said before, yes," Raditz replied with just enough chagrin to make Vegeta narrow his eyes at him - the only measure necessary to correct his tone. "Sorry, Vegeta. But I'm sure of it; once he gets over his fear, he will be a great asset"

Vegeta surveyed Gohan even more intensely than earlier, which didn't do much for the boy's anxiety. Just to confirm that his initial reading wasn't just a common malfunction, he ran the scouter again. Upon seeing the reading, even he blinked. "Seven hundred…forty?"

Both Nappa and Raditz gave their prince wide eyes. "It went up a little? Are you sure it's not some malfunction?" Raditz asked.

"Is 740 good?" Gohan asked.

"Not by our standards, but the fact that it increased a bit from the last time we measured it is interesting…" Nappa replied, his hand raised to his chin as he pondered.

Perhaps Raditz was right about this kid after all… Vegeta thought. "Alright, let's head out of this dump. Lord Frieza's probably getting impatient."

Vegeta headed for the dome's exit with his two soldiers and new recruit on his trail. Four spaceships lay in wait for them, all silver pods identical to the one Raditz hauled Gohan into. Fearful of making the choice for himself, Gohan waited for the Saiyan trio to get in their ships first before he entered his own. The pod opened with a simple push of a button. Before he could climb in, Raditz called out to him.

"I almost forgot to explain the space pods to you, kid," Raditz called from his pod. "Press the red button on the control panel to turn on your speaker. That way, we can communicate with you through the ships should we ever have a need. There's a white button there too, and that'll turn on a sleeping gas. Our trip to the base should take a few hours, so you'll probably want to use it."

Gohan nodded and took a seat in his pod. A button press later and the door shut itself. The control panel was just as Raditz detailed. Before he could even raise his hand, he was jerked back into his seat; the pod blasted off into the sky. The abrupt takeoff made Gohan shriek at the top of his lungs, though he adjusted to its speed moments later. He turned his attention back to the control panel. Pressing the red button, Gohan leaned into the panel to search for a speaker. Not finding one, he just took a shot in the dark.

"Uh…can you guys hear me?"

"Yes. Can you hear us?" Raditz asked.

Well, at least it worked. Gohan followed his ear and found a small speaker tucked in a corner behind him to his left. "Yeah."

"Good," Raditz said through the intercom.

Gohan took in the vast darkness of space through his glass door. It was an awe-inspiring sight, just like what Gohan had seen in his textbooks. Though he would've rather fulfilled this fantasy under literally any other circumstance, it was still pretty neat all the same.

So enraptured by the sight was Gohan that he never even thought to turn on the gas and induce sleep. The four odd hours passed in almost a flash. Upon landing, his pod's door opened itself, revealing a planet virtually identical to the one he'd left, with a similarly black night sky. There were a few more buildings, though. Gohan stepped out of the pod and found the other three leaving their pods from the corner of his eye. He dusted himself off and stretched out his arms a little, his body stiff after being seated in the pod for so long.

"Raditz," Vegeta called to his wavy-haired comrade. "Go tell Zarbon that we've returned. Nappa, go to Frieza's door and wait for our arrival."

They both nodded and entered the white, marble complex. Gohan turned his attention to Vegeta, who fixed him with that sharp glare that already had a reserved seat for his next few nightmares.

"Now, you listen to me, because I won't tell you again. Do not cry in front of Frieza. Though your blood may be tainted by the humans', you still represent the last of our Saiyan race." The prince's voice was low, but firm. He gave a curious press to his scouter, just to confirm it wasn't on. "If you show any fear, that bastard Frieza and his sycophants will waste no opportunity to mock us." All Gohan could do was nod. Vegeta's expression fell just the slightest bit sullen.

"More importantly, it's for your own good. Frieza will pick up on your fear and only draw your beating out to make it more miserable. Take the pain like a man; do not appear like a spineless coward in front of him." Vegeta kept a close eye on Gohan's disposition - much to his surprise, the young one tightened up, as if he were automatically complying. "Smart kid…" he muttered before entering the building. Gohan followed his lead.

Gohan reasoned to himself that he was safe from Vegeta's potential wrath for at least the time being. He found enough confidence to speak. "Um…Mr. Vegeta, sir?"

Unfortunately, Vegeta laughed at him again. "Look, kid, as much as I like being treated with the authority I damn well deserve, it's painfully obvious that you're trying too hard. Just call me by my regular name and leave it at that."

"Okay. Well, I was going to ask if this is where you all live," Gohan said. He'd eased up just slightly.

"If you can call it that," Vegeta replied. "Now I want you to understand: whatever pampered life you were used to back home is done. I don't want to hear you bitching and moaning about your discomfort, or else I'll permanently put a stop to it." Vegeta's warning sounded less like a threat more like a report of the afternoon weather, which only made it resonate with Gohan even deeper

"Though Frieza is the head honcho here, you still answer to me as well. Do not forget your place," Vegeta said before opening the door. While taking Vegeta's lead, Gohan kept a watchful eye on his surroundings. It looked much like the other planet's building although with far more soldiers walking to and fro. Violence filled all of their eyes, much of it directed towards one another.

Vegeta could overhear Gohan's heavy throat clench from behind him. "Most of these people are trash, kid. If you're this nervous around them, I shudder to think of how you'll act in Frieza's presence. I was just as old as you when I first met him, but I never forgot who I was and kept my pride. You must do the same."

The fact that Vegeta understood his plight at least put him somewhat at ease. Of course, the man was still frightening, but if he could endure decades of servitude and remain on his own two feet with a staggering swagger and command to boot, maybe there was hope for Gohan. Maybe he could do the same?

As the pair headed for Frieza's quarters, a purple alien stepped in their way. His eyes were a wide, pale yellow, and he had a smug grin plastered on his uncomely face. "So the monkey's got himself a little pet mutt, eh?

"Out of my face, Cui. I don't have time for your bullshit."

Cui just laughed him off. "Vegeta, don't go thinking you can toss threats at me. You're still a tad…weaker than I am."

Vegeta let out a feral growl and marched past him. Although Gohan didn't like violence, he wouldn't have minded seeing that guy get knocked on his butt. He was obnoxious, plus he smelled really bad.

They stopped once they finally reached a set of metallic doors. Vegeta looked down at Gohan. "Remember what I told you."

Gohan finagled the best stern glare he could muster, trying to tuck his fear into the corner of his mind. The doors fell open, and Gohan followed Vegeta's lead inside. The room was vast, decorated with extravagant architecture made up of both stone and marble. Illuminating the corridor was a pink light emanating from the ceiling. Already present were Nappa and Raditz, each standing on one knee.

Three new figures accompanied them. The first a tall, slim, pale-skinned fellow with well-maintained, dark green hair. Besides Saiyans, he was the most humanlike of the men he'd seen in space thus far. A blue scouter, much like Gohan's, rested over his eye. The other one wasn't so pleasant to look at - hideous was a better way to put it. Spiky, pudgy, and pinky, the brute smugly simpered at the Saiyans.

But sitting in a floating chair between the two? All Gohan could see of him were two black horns protruding from his head and a pink tail. It must have been him…Frieza.

Vegeta walked in the middle Nappa and Raditz and inched a few steps ahead of them before hunching over on one knee. He motioned toward Gohan to stand directly in between Nappa and Raditz. Gohan did as ordered and mimicked his elder Saiyans' posture.

"Report," The elegant green man commanded.

"We have wiped out Planet Maltar's population in three days," Vegeta said through a well-fortified tone.

The green figure snickered. "Care to repeat yourself? Did you really say that it took an entire three days?"

"I did not stutter, Zarbon," Vegeta said, contempt creeping in.

"You dare forget your place, monkey?" Zarbon snapped.

Vegeta stifled a growl, though it probably would've been drowned out by the pink goon's chortles.

"Come now, Zarbon, there is no need to upset our dear prince; he was only giving his all," said the figure in the middle. His tone was disarmingly good-natured. "I'm more interested in this new addition of which Raditz has kindly informed me."

The man's voice dried Gohan's throat into a desert. If Vegeta's vocal presence sent him shivers, then this one made his blood feel like it ran on ice. Dare he say, it was elegant? Like that of an aristocrat hiding his lack of sanity.

"Lord Frieza, Raditz has sent us a half-Saiyan from the Planet Earth. Despite being born to a low-class father, his strength already exceeds his even at his age," Vegeta explained. Although Gohan didn't like hearing his father being belittled, he couldn't stop the small well of pride that filled his chest upon learning he was already stronger than him.

"Interesting…" the figure, Frieza, said. His chair slowly rotated until he was facing the Saiyan quartet. The sharp cut of his crimson eyes forced Gohan to turn his head away from him. Whatever fear the Saiyans gave him was like a housefly compared to this pink lizard. Only the recall of Vegeta's earlier order could settle Gohan's eyes back to him. He opted to direct his attention to Frieza's red scouter instead.

It didn't take much for Frieza to see right through the boy's brave front, however. A throaty chuckle escaped his purple lips as he observed. "Striking, indeed. And what, pray tell, is your plan for this one?"

"We believe he will provide some assistance in our assignment on Planet Trident. If his power is honed properly, he could prove to be a very useful soldier, sire," Vegeta answered, his voice leashed even more tightly than it was towards Zarbon.

Frieza took a sip from the glass of wine perched in his left hand. Gohan wondered if it was blood but opted not to further speculate for his sanity's sake. Frieza breathed a contented sigh and returned his attention to the Saiyans. "Now, Vegeta, you know I can't just allow a soldier willy-nilly until he's proven his worth." He directed his eyes to Gohan. "Step forward, boy."

Though his breath grew heavier with every second, Gohan complied and stepped forward until he stood next to Vegeta.

"What is your name?"

"Son Gohan," The four year old carefully spoke, making sure he didn't stutter.

"Son Gohan…has a nice ring to it," Frieza mused. The answer elicited a twitch from Gohan's left eye. "Wouldn't you agree, Zarbon?"

"Yes, Lord," Zarbon replied, almost on cue. The Saiyans in the room fought their temptation to roll their eyes at Frieza's sycophant-in-command.

The lizard eyed Gohan up and down, studying every element of his appearance. "Yes, something about him does remind me of Raditz, and not just his bedraggled hair. I see the family resemblance."

The snide comment triggered just the slightest growl from Gohan - it was a reminder of Gohan's real family, whom he would far, far, far rather be around. Though Frieza overheard it, he declined comment.

"It pains my heart to see a most adorable young boy separated from his home," Frieza crooned. "But you must understand, it is simply part of the universe's natural order that anyone carrying Saiyan blood lives under my subjugation."

Frieza directed his deviltry to Raditz. "Such is why I almost want to discipline Raditz for not finishing the job and sending his brother here as well. But you see, my young lad, I am a firm proponent of grace and mercy. So I will allow your dear uncle to go unscathed for his half-heartedness."

Gohan tried to keep himself together. This affability that Frieza presented towards him felt like a virus infecting his brain.

"However, we have a pecking order here in the planet trade. At the bottom of the proverbial totem pole lie ye uncivilized simian, though I admittedly do care for Vegeta as if we were my own flesh and blood," Frieza explained. Vegeta fanned the flames of his temper with a deep breath. "Directly below the few remaining Saiyans are newcomers, such as yourself. Therefore, I'm afraid you'll have to experience the punishment in your uncle's stead."

Gohan sunk his teeth into his bottom lip, his breath running thin. Frieza heaved a thespian's sigh. "Now, now, don't be mad, my boy! Do not misunderstand; this comes not from contempt, but from simply a lack of other options! We must work within the system!"

Vegeta tilted his head towards Gohan, a silent imploring to stand his ground.

"Vegeta, I'm going to need you and your two pets to step back a bit. This may get ugly," Frieza warned, his voice ice cold. Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz did just that and moved closer to the door.

Frieza turned to his pink minion. "Dodoria, if you please?"

Dodoria, the azalean barbarian, smirked and cracked his knuckles. Gohan watched his bated breath as he circled him like prey, stopping once he was behind him.

"I'm going to need you to unwrap your tail for me," Frieza said.

Shiver though he may, Gohan uncoiled his tail and stood in wait. A jolt of pain surged though his small body - Dodoria's calloused hands squeezed his tail. The half-Saiyan gasped for air, using what little strength he had to stifle an agonized wail. With a firm grip on the boy's furry achilles heel, Dodoria cackled.

Though he somehow remained on one knee, Gohan's foot was slipping beneath him. His grandfather had done it once having not known how much pain it could cause, but Gohan never realized just how debilitating the hold was until now. Sweat streamed down his face and converged with the blood drawn from the vice grip his teeth had on his bottom lip - a marvelous portrait in Frieza's eyes.

"Oh my, he reminds me so much of Vegeta when he was first brought to me!" Frieza exclaimed.

Vegeta stood vexed. The reminder of his servitude and his father's cowardice released a low growl from his throat.

Frieza leaped from his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "Ah yes, trying so hard to look confident. No doubt Vegeta urged you to do so. Zarbon, I was going to leave the rest of the punishment to you, but I'm afraid I'm compelled to take this into my own hands!"

Even Vegeta gasped, dreading what Gohan had in store now. Frieza was typically a sloth, but clearly all too ready to jump at any opportunity to crawl under his skin.

"By all means, my Lord." Zarbon said. He certainly showed no disappointment.

Frieza closed the distance between himself and Gohan and stared him down, relishing his struggle. Looking straight into the tyrant's eyes, Gohan was on the edge of crying, but Vegeta's words kept ringing in his head-

"Do not cry in front of Frieza."

"You still represent the last of our Saiyan race."

"It's for your own good…"

I can't cry! Gohan said to himself. He clamped his teeth together to shut out any indication of distress. Frieza snorted in amusement.

"I see the blood of another race hasn't diluted the impudence that runs through all Saiyans' veins." Not even bothering to use his limbs, Frieza perched Gohan's head up by tipping his tail onto his chin before smacking him across the face with it. Gohan nearly felt the skin smack off the left side of his face, and before the right side could smack the marble floor, Frieza's tail swiftly and harshly halted its trajectory. He tucked his tail under Gohan's chin again to hold him in place. Gohan's half-human, half-Saiyan blood spilled onto its tip.

"Now there's the proper position for a Saiyan," Frieza said through a twisted smile. "Cowering before me on both knees. Yes, you will make a great servant indeed!"

Just to pour salt on the wound, Frieza patted Gohan on the head with his tail and smiled in his face as if he was his docile pet. He brought his tail to his violet lips and licked the blood clean off. "Ah, nothing like the taste of freshly shed blood. I suppose that should suffice. You can release him, Dodoria."

Dodoria removed Gohan's tail from his grip. Gohan sunk to the floor, but before he could give into the cold marble, Frieza slammed his tail into his entire frame hard enough to knock him into Dodoria's sturdy chest. The force of his immense torso alone smacked Gohan face-first into the floor, where he was left to hoarsely cough in agony.

"Oh my, I got a little carried away, there. My apologies, young lad! My tail has a mind of its own," Frieza said through throaty chuckles.

Nappa and Raditz had to avert their eyes. Vegeta watched the sight with no emotion; this type of violence was standard to him; he'd observed it, dished it out, and experienced it plenty in his 29 years. But he understood Gohan's plight, and it served only to fuel his resolve towards his ultimate goal.

"Dear me, the coughing's stopped already?" Frieza asked, expressing disappointment at Gohan's now unconscious form. "Tsk. You Saiyans wouldn't know fun if it bit you on the tail.

"Well, I suppose you three ought to get your new cub to a rejuvenation chamber," Frieza said as he returned to his chair. "Train him first thing tomorrow morning."

When Nappa approached Gohan, he noticed a speck of blood drop from Vegeta's fingertips. He effortlessly slung the child over his shoulder.

"You three are dismissed," Frieza said.

The Saiyans turned around as Raditz led the way out of the room. They reached one of the building's many infirmaries and opened up the healing chamber. Nappa gently placed Gohan in the chamber and put a breathing mask over his face before closing the door. Raditz pressed a button on the unit, releasing a green solution that submerged his young nephew.

"I gotta say, the half-breed's pretty tough. I expected him to cry like he was earlier," Nappa said, taking a deep breath.

Vegeta nodded and studied the boy through the glass of the rejuvenation chamber. The road that lay ahead for Gohan was paved in torment. Survival of the fittest would be his sole compass, and all he could do was master it.