Warning: much liberal use of artistic license now applied. Also, very minor fiddling done to the last chapter. Won't be important 'til way later.

Now let's get this show on the road!

Chapter 17: Dark little secrets

-

-

Ten years later…

"Forty-five years ago, Frieza fell. No one knows exactly how or exactly why, but he vanished with the destruction of an unidentified planet in the Quatar system. Months later, his father and the Imperial Cruiser disappeared near the same location. And chaos ruled, leading eventually to our creation of course, the InterNorth Quadrant Organization. INQO, as we like to call it."

The speaker, with pale orange skin that seemed far too tight for his oversized thin bones, grinned chummily at this comment, but no one else echoed his amusement. A few of the politicians rolled their eyes, the figure with eight making a rather dramatic show of it. They all knew this. The speaker quickly went on.

"Most of Frieza's soldiers were exterminated in the ensuing struggle by either others scrambling for control or bounty hunters. Those that escaped were either highly prized fighters or went underground."

He pressed a button and a picture emerged on the wall behind him, the lights automatically dimming. One politician yawned, bringing a flipper up to at least seem polite.

"Frieza's most elite warriors however, the Ginyu squad," he made a motion and the picture switched to a handsome green-haired man and a bulbous orange figure "and Zarbon and Dadoria, disappeared along with Frieza, leaving none strong enough to regain the power vacuum left by Frieza."

Abruptly the screen changed to show a magnified close-up of a short, but imposing man sneering, his eyes glinting with malevolence. His hair stood as straight as he did, arms crossed to his chest with just a hint of brown fur peeking to give testament to the fact he had a tail. A politician in the corner snapped to attention, his luminescent white skin taking a darker hue, while another, who was completely covered from head to toe in colorful cloths, leaned forward and began a steady beat with his feet.

"The next on the ladder was Vegeta, one of the few survivors of the Saiyan race. He's become something of a legend by now, the Prince of a people that Freiza thought enough of an eventual danger to exterminate, and one of the tyrant's most valued planet purgers."

The close-up began to recede, opening into a panorama to a barren and blackened landscape with a few unrecognizable bodies scattered around the smoldering ruins of what appeared to be building. A red haired man in the back felt his features harden, though not literally. Two others gagged.

"What is most mysterious are the circumstances of his disappearance. There are rumors that though he too traveled to the planet like Freiza for unknown reasons, he did so without his master's bidding, indeed in a show of rebellion. Some even claim so far that the Saiyan's legendary power increases were the reason for Freiza's demise and that Freiza destroyed the planet with his remaining power to ensure his killer would not survive either. As Freiza's records from that period in time have all but been obliterated though, this can not be substantiated."

The display shifted to a blank screen, leaving the room pitch black. Several members grumbled, one of whom was seated by a slender aquatic creature who immediately coughed and lit up, illuminating the surrounding area with a dull watery light. It/she was thanked rather gruffly. Blithely, the speaker went on.

"What is perhaps more puzzling are the various reports of Vegeta being spotted as late as two years after his trip to the unnamed planet. If he indeed survived the destruction of the planet, why did he not try to take Frieza's place? Accounts remaining show that power was Vegeta's highest goal as well as revenge for his own planet's destruction. But we do not have answers for this question anymore than the others before it."

He gave a dramatic pause, grinning unseen into his, er, captive audience.

"Until now."

Over half the audience immediately came to attention, several so fast they nearly toppled out of their seating stations. The speaker grinned triumphantly and made another motion, a floating planet of blue and green abruptly appearing out of the void. It spun slowly.

"As you know, the planet Chikyuu has been up for consideration for induction into INQO. And as is customary, we have gathered information that will allow us to make the best informed choice as to whether it should be added. In securing data on the planet's past, we've stumbled on a truly incredible find."

The speaker paused again, this time with a much more gratifying result – all attention was focused on him. He gestured behind him.

"Vegeta no Ouji."

The figure of Vegeta leapt unto the screen, floating in an extremely similar aristocratic pose as the one before, decked out in pristine armor and flanked by a large bald Saiyan clad in similar garb. Despite the slightly gritty quality of the shot, Vegeta's alert and arrogant eyes pierced the audience through the scouter's gleam. The red haired man shifted in his seat.

"The figure on the right has been identified as Nappa, another Saiyan survivor, though far inferior to the Prince in power. This shot is from a video, extremely hard to come by, dated close to a year before Frieza's disappearance. The film, though cut short, makes it clear that Vegeta had more than destruction in mind when he landed on the planet. This is substantiated by the fact Chikyuu is found in none of the Ice-jin records, indicating that there is a good chance that Freiza never even knew it existed. Being as out-of-the-way as it is, this fact is unsurprising. As it stands then, Vegeta chose to go to Chikyuu for reasons of his own, rather than his master's orders. The only reason that seems even halfway plausible can be traced to one particular person."

The picture that appeared seemed rather worn and a little blurry, but the grin made the man unmistakable: Son Goku.

"I'm sure you've all heard the stories of the three travelers that toured space nearly fifteen years ago. If you have, then you should know the name Son Goku."

The speaker's hands flew in an intricate pattern and three figures of Goku appeared, each of him at a different age, obviously from Boukadai footage as he was in a fighting crouch in each one. In the first two, his tail was prominent.

"In three different Chikyuu world competitions, the displayed male entered and made it to the finals. He was entered as Son Goku and as you can see, he bears the Saiyan brown furred tail. During the second contest, there happened to be a full moon and he transformed into an Ozaru, the infamous power-magnifying form that made a whole planet of them unfeasible in Frieza's mind."

A small clip was played showing Goku's conversion and subsequent rampage.

"How he came to be on Chikyuu can only be speculated, but it is unimportant. What is more significant is the fact that Vegeta may well have learned of his existence and come to recruit his help in a rebellion against Frieza. Unfortunately, the video of Vegeta's appearance cuts off before this probable meeting."

Finally another voice broke the Grindar's monologue.

"This is all very interesting Darnikal," the man said intently, his navy skin making him extremely hard to pick out in the gloom. However, as he was seated in the most central locale of the room – he was the most prominent fixture and most turned reflexively towards him. "But I'm failing to see the relevance of this history lesson." His tone was one of tried, but calm patience.

Darnikal's grin widened.

"There is more, Chairman Loret. In fact…"

With a grand gesture, he motioned to the screen and a clip began to play. This clip was far different from the previous one, instead showing an arid area in which an incongruous precise white arena square lay. A green, blurry figure was apparent in the square's middle, but attention was quickly diverted to flying figures that dropped from the sky. Once Vegeta landed, the clip froze and focused on him.

"This video is dated three years after Frieza's death."

There was no mistaking the triumphant tone in his voice as the room broke out in murmurs. He made a wave and the video continued, this time coming to rest on the other fighters around him, particularly two blonds.

"The blond man you are now viewing is apparently Goku, though why his hair is not the black as we've seen before can not be explained. The smaller blond figure is his son. This gathering of warriors was to deal with a threat to Chikyuu's existence, as the being standing in the ring, called Cell, was apparently threatening to destroy the planet for whatever reason."

More than one brow furrowed.

"But I know what you are thinking; why would Vegeta completely abandon his life's directive, indeed even reverse it to protect instead of destroy? And why Chikyuu, when his power could be more effectively used elsewhere in space?"

A good half of the audience decided that they thoroughly hated the sight of Darnikal's superior smile, but their attention was quickly diverted to the fact a new picture had emerged – and this one, though of Vegeta, also featured one who was definitely not a fighter.

"This should help."

Darnikal spoke brightly and there were astonished curses in a wide variety of languages. One aged and bearded 'man' cleaned his glasses, as if that would somehow take away the image of the blue-haired, expensively dressed woman smiling on Vegeta's arm – who for once was not in armor at all, but rather a suit and a bored, still arrogant expression.

"If you've stopped to learn even a little about Chikyuu, you should be able to identify the woman by Vegeta's side. She is Bulma Briefs, CEO of one of the biggest technological firms on Chikyuu and one of the richest persons there as well. You could say, Vegeta found the closest thing to royalty and attached himself."

He gave a little laugh, but there was no echoing agreement, rather shocked silence. One politician, a meaty, dull red orange armored fellow, broke it.

"And how do we know this isn't some kind of," he gave a bewildered wave, "anomaly?"

"Representative Neurol has a good point," Loret interjected smoothly. "Are you honestly purposing that one of Frieza's ex-top destroyers decided to give up seeking power just for a woman?" His disbelief was clear.

The other orange skinned figure was obviously expecting such skepticism and two more pictures emerged.

"These are their children: Trunks Briefs, the eldest by fourteen years, and Bra Knightly, formerly Bra Briefs. Trunks was born by the time of the a-foreshown event."

A digital mapping of Trunks and Vegeta's faces appeared side by side and rotated.

"As the screen shows, Trunks and Vegeta have strong facial similarities, indicating his parentage is as indicated. Bra, as apparent, bears the strongest resemblance to her mother, but by the time of her birth, Vegeta and Bulma had participated in a Chikyuu marriage ceremony. One can only imagine that Vegeta would not abide his mate baring another man's child."

The screen morphed back into the original one of Vegeta and Bulma.

"As for how current this is, this specific picture was taken last year."

Calling the audience shocked would be an understatement of the highest kind. One senator even went so far to melt, literally, from his seat. This was greeted with little surprise though, as 'Emlanis had a reputation for dissolving when experiencing strong emotion.

"So, in other words, the Saiyan Vegeta becomes an important variable in the decision of whether or not to have Chikyuu join INQO," Chairman Loret finally concluded after a long pause. He snapped his fingers and the lights came back on. Darnikal nodded emphatically.

"The Briefs are the number one family to contend with on Chikyuu, so consideration of Vegeta's involvement is imperative," he pressed. "And Goku's as well, especially including the fact Trunks Briefs' mate is Pan, daughter of Gohan Son and granddaughter of Goku."

There was a jolt of recognition. The latest stories of Son Goku had included those names as well.

Loret's eyes turned to grimly survey the room. "Well gentleman, it seems it is time for the debate to resume. What is to be done with Chikyuu?"

-

"Will the opposition persist or resign its objection?"

Kentorek stared at his monitor with veiled, but very real loathing. He had no real choice, though as there was still a quarter minority opposed, they could still persist. But it wouldn't be long until the number was whittled down. And if he didn't back down, people would be start to suspect personal motives. Not that he had any.

None at all.

He flicked the signal bar on his personal station. Across the room, Hemola saw the bottom bar on his screen flash red.

"The opposition will resign its objection Chairman Loret," he intoned, his purple spines gracefully smoothing back into his skin.

Chikyuu would be joining INQO.

More than one eye turned to Kentorek and a certain senator – a Zan who looked completely humanoid except for the fact his skin color was actually a result of inch high peach colored fur, smirked victoriously. It was no secret that Kentorek had been behind the scenes of this resistance. They continued even as the session was dismissed, eyes following the vivid red hair out the door.

Kentorek let no emotion show on his face, though he knew his displeasure with the decision was apparent.

"Looks like the Unopposable Diplomat finally suffered a defeat." Kentorek showed no surprise as the Zan, Kevim, appeared from the shadows to gloat.

"No one is unbeatable," he returned reasonably, refusing to stop his journey. Kevim gasped in mock shock and fell in beside him.

"You don't believe that do you? After all that research and manipulating you've done for so long to make you so-" Kentorek rolled his golden hued eyes.

"Senator, if you don't mind, I'm going to prepare for the next session. I suggest you do the same, seeing as your sector's border trading methods is one of the topics for debate. And considering how big illegal Zanbok shipments are…" he trailed off, noting with pleasure that Kevim stopped walking and just glared sourly at his back.

"Just remember that I won this one Diplomat!"

"He's such a berk." Kentorek lifted his hand to his temples and pressed down hard on them.

"It's jerk Rerc and you know, I wouldn't mind not talking about him." The boy next to him nodded comically solemn. To be totally accurate, he wasn't really a boy necessarily. Maenitics as a race aged slowly, both physically and mentally, so though Rerc was over thirty, he acted closer to the human sixteen while looking in his twenties. They were humanoids, but had very tightly coiled curly hair all over, with the least amount on their face. Rerc's was a medium shade of blue, something Kentorek privately disliked, but as with all young Maenitics, it changed shades several times a year. This time it was a very pale blue.

"Well, it's not a big deal you know, the fact you lost the bid," Rerc went on, oblivious to Kentorek's annoyance. "Your side has won, what?" He flipped open a small computer pad and ran his hands over it. "the last 182 debates. That's amazing."

"Rerc, I am not looking for cheering up," Kentorek snapped at his assistant. "just give me the latest reports for the next session."

The boy nodded. "Well, the Zanbok shipments have been abnormally high for this time of year-"

"They've been tipped off they may be banned soon-"

"And the Zwerg have been getting anxious over their representative's stance on the issue-"

"Because it is their biggest money maker."

"There's talk of an emergency recall and new election-"

"There won't be a new election." Rerc looked up from his palm computer and frowned at the definitiveness of the statement. "The Terin family controls the construction of the Zanboks and they'll want to ensure the next representative is sympathetic. They'll move to back one of their own, probably Iliona, seeing how high up she already is and the fact she was married to one of the family. The separation with her husband will be a perfect smokescreen. I should send her something then soon."

Rerc shot his computer with a snap. "And how do you know that?" he caught himself and rolled his eyes before Kentorek answered. "Right, research. What's the point of having an assistant when you know everything?" he sulked.

"Not everything," Kentorek murmured, his eyes drifting to the window they were passing that faced space outside. They paused. Rerc looked at his boss uncomfortably, having only witnessed Kentorek so contemplative a very few times.

"Still enough to manage to have everything you want work out," Rerc plowed on.

Kentorek smirked grimly. "Not everything," he repeated, his eyes automatically sifting through all the visible gleams to focus on one particular sun. "Not everything."

-

He was standing there again, looking exactly as he had so many years ago, arrogant smirk, dark clothes and hair and eyes that just melted into the shadows.

"Princess…" It was a whisper, but she knew her lines. She thrust out her hands, but no words came from her throat. Her finger was bare.

She stared at it in horror and suddenly he was far too close, leering at her.

"No protection this time," he sneered.

"But Tenshi…"

"Your little angel's dead remember?" She couldn't bear his face.

"It's over!"

"It'll never be over…" And then his face transformed, his jaw dropping and expanding until all she could see was the black of an abyss. And he swallowed her whole.

Bra woke up with a scream clawing its way out of her throat. With feverish panic, she immediately threw out an arm to touch her husband. Her arm hit air. She turned over only to be confronted by an empty, cold spot that had been so for months and she swallowed heavily.

He'd been right.

She sat up.

Tenshi was dead.

She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself, blinking away the ever-present tears that had lingered in her eyes since his death.

It had been an accident really, him getting treated for something minor and developing something major. A doctor who hadn't washed his tools properly. He was dead within the week.

She suppressed a deep sob, but suddenly became aware of the creaking of her doorway. Her eyes flew up only to spot a bushy-haired small head peeping in. She sighed a little and merely opened her arms, a signal the child immediately understood and he was nestled to her before she could blink. She held him close, striving to give him the comfort she knew he needed. His father was dead.

She held him tighter as guilt built up in her throat. Almost ten years of marriage and she'd never shared her secret.

None even guessed that Galen Goka Knightly was not Tenshi Knightly's son.

Bra had known though, known from the day she had found out she was pregnant, though she'd told herself there was no possible way she could know. But she had. And when she'd finally seen his black crowned, smiling face, she'd cried, knowing there was no possible way to refute the proof she held.

But she'd lied anyway. And miracle of miracles, no one had ever questioned it. She got anxious at times, when G.K. (as Vega had insisted on calling him and thus the only name he'd eventually come to answer to) grew spiky hair, became obsessed with sparring, or even started picking up Son mannerisms.

They'd all blamed it on being a Saiyan throwback (Vegeta at least, had been gratified to finally have some offspring with black hair) or else too much of Vega's influence. As she was so close to G.K.'s age and shared his heritage of Saiyan blood, they'd become inseparable, splitting their time equally between her parents' house and his. Considering Grandpa Vegeta was Vega's biggest hero, it wasn't such a surprise that sparring had become her and subsequently G.K.'s favorite pastime. Then again, on her other side, she had three generations of female fighters – so Bra guessed it had been inevitable.

Inevitable. The very word sent chills down Bra's spine.

Goten had had to leave, she could see that plainly after so long. The lure of space had called him as surely as his father, though for vastly different reasons. She now feared its call on her son – a fear not assuaged by the recent invitation into space given by the enigmatic INQO.

Her parents had accepted inevitably.

Inevitably.

"Pawns…" she whispered.

"Mommy?" G.K.'s sky blue eyes, a heritage she jealously clung to as her own, emerged to gaze at her and she collected herself. His gift of seeing through people though, that was all Goten.

"Yes, honey?" She treasured the word he'd spoken, one he'd all but given up once proud Vega had decided mommy and daddy were far too childish terms to use.

"Will I see Daddy up in space?" She froze.

"No."

She desperately hoped not.

"It'll never be over."

-

Okay, I know the last scene was rushed, but I really, really wanted to keep my two week promise, so voila. I'm guessing you'll know who Vega is – my hints weren't the epitome of subtlety. Poor Tenshi though, I barely introduced him and then I kill him off. –whips away lone tear- And he really was a sweet guy.

And don't worry about all the different alien designations, I basically just made them all up on the spot, though I might go more in-depth for a few. After all, who could honestly believe Vegeta's 'coming out' would be completely peaceful?

Next chapter: the Saiyans arrive onboard the INQO head ship and G.K. runs into a certain red haired figure. Warning – for the next while, Vegeta, Bulma, G.K., Vega, Kentorek and the others, not to mention INQO itself, will be more fleshed out and in the spotlight. G/B goodness will come, but slowly. Also, prep for some more action and drama.