I look out the wide, picturesque window of my high rise office, taking in the spanning city that mills about far below me. It is only an assemblage of scaffolding and iron, surrounded by concrete and heavy machinery, but it's bathed in the glorious light of the afternoon sun. There is no dust to cloud out the brilliance of the sky, nor is there any smoke to choke way the sun's eminent rays. I watch the people, nothing but mere ants below me, hurrying to and fro like distinguished arthropods, moving with total, unrestrained freedom.
That word tastes so good on my lips I actually whisper it out loud.
I revel in that word, so much, in fact, that a monstrous flag, bearing the symbols in bold crimson on white, flies high over the newly rebuilt Capsule Corp. Every day, every night, it soars above the capitol, so high and proud, reminding all of us what it means to be free. Even in the most torrential weather, it remains strong, a symbol of our pride and faith as human beings.
We will never forget what it means to be free.
Every fiber in my being has yearned for a life to live freely, and now I have it. At times, it's still hard to grasp this deliverance, and I fear I will wake up from some blissfully cruel dream. I suppose that is to be expected, when one lives their entire life hiding in the darkest of shadows. Until now, I've known nothing but interminable fear my entire existence.
I slide the window open a bit, just enough to lean my torso outside. My eyes slide shut as the breeze whips my hair about my face. I can smell the clean scent of autumn on the wind as I inhale deeply, filling my lungs.
My blood begins to stir, as my heightened olfactory senses pick through the many scents carried on the air. The sky beckons to me and the birds tease me in their playful flight. I turn and look up at the flag that billows and snaps not even 20 feet from my head, even it seems to call for me to come out and play. It is more than enough. The side of me that I try so hard to suppress pricks at my soul, and I give in a little, letting my more animalistic, feral self come forth.
Maybe it is my Saiya-jin blood that holds my freedom, my people's freedom, in such high regard. I cannot deny the frustration and fury I feel when pushed under thumb, whether it be by an opponent or by insignificant matters such as work and chores. Once my blood begins to awaken, it sings in my veins like a drug, and my will cannot be oppressed.
My mother calls it "stubbornness", and I can't help but laugh. She's certainly one to talk. However, I imagine it is my Saiya-jin nature, that fierce urge to move at my own liberation, that gives her fits. She may scold me or call me irresponsible, but I know she embraces this part of me as well. How could she not, when she herself could not deny that it was this very trait that drew her to my father? "You are your father's son," she always tells me, usually when she's angry with me, but there is always that hint of sad affection in her voice.
Those words make me proud.
More proud that she or my father could ever imagine.
Melancholy works its way through my content demeanor, spoiling my mood. I close the window slowly, a frown tugging at my lips as I turn back to my desk. The clutter I see fills me with dread and sickening exasperation. My mood does not temper and I walk to my desk, swiping at a stack of unsigned business documents. I'm in no mood to push paper and talk to disagreeable clients today.
Unbuttoning my freshly starched, white dress shirt, I press the button on my multi line phone and wait for my assistant to answer.
"Yes, Mr. Briefs," she calls immediately.
"Cancel all my afternoon appointments…please," I reply a bit gruffly, but quickly add in the 'please' to soften my demands. Out of pure habit, I'm an agreeable person, polite to a fault, and gruffness would only make her curious.
Her reply takes a few moments, and I wonder if she's contemplating my curt request. I hold my breath and she finally responds hesitantly, "Um…Certainly Mr. Briefs…should I contact your mother for you?"
Stars no, woman!
I shake my head furiously, even though she cannot see me. My mother would skin me alive if she knew I was cutting out of work, especially as busy as we are. Our company is handling the rebuilding of nearly half the world's cities as we speak, and ditching work is certainly out of the question in my mother's opinion. She's probably right, and I'll catch hell for it later, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.
"No, don't bother my mother," I reply, trying to make my voice cheerful, yet authoritative, "Just sign the files on my desk and go home for the day."
"Very well, Mr. Briefs," she answers.
Nodding in satisfaction, I throw the itchy shirt onto my desk, not really caring what my assistant will think when she finds my clothing strewn about my office.
Now dressed in only my white under shirt, black slacks, and loafers, I roll my arms and crack my neck, happy to be free of the stiff restraints of business attire. As proper as I might seem, I silently loathe etiquette, and if had my way, I'd come to work in sweat pants and a gym shirt everyday. However, being the president of the worlds wealthiest company, I can't take such liberties and live a miserable life behind starched shirts with tight necks, ugly ties, and bad shoes.
Limbered up, I reach behind one of my many filing cabinets and retrieve my sword. I fasten it in place and return to the window, reopening it. A smirk creeps across my face, anticipating the reactions of those below me. You would think as many times as I've made my escape through this very window, the surprise would eventually wear off, but it never does. I suppose seeing a body launch itself from a window several hundred feet in the air does hold its unexpectedness, no matter how many times a person sees it.
I laugh a bit and without another thought, I place a foot on the sill and allow myself to drop over the edge. My arms fold around me and I close my eyes, manipulating my inertia into a spin as I free fall towards the ground below. Though my eyes are closed, I can sense the rapidly approaching turf and I can hear the terrified screams of the unsuspecting people beneath me. I'm not worried however, and only feel slightly guilty for striking such a fright into my fellow citizens.
It only last for a moment, though, as my Saiya-jin blood sears through my veins with the selfish desire to be liberated from human constraints. I let it consume me, my humanity becoming a distant fog in the back of my brain. My entire being is alive, my senses ignited, reveling in the power that dwells deep inside this body of mine. My hearing, my sight, my smell…everything is beyond human perception now, enveloped in a swath of hypersensitivity.
The ground is upon me, and with a mere thought, I ignite my ki, ricocheting myself back into the sky. There is a very solid explosion, almost like a sonic boom, and it echos off the construction, streets, and cars of the city. Some people run for cover and those who know me only cover their ears and shake their heads.
Laughing slightly, I do a barrel roll and zigzag on the wind amongst the birds.
I fly low enough to see the city below me. The once leveled metropolis is coming along nicely. Buildings, merely skeletons, dot the horizon and mountains of rubble wait patiently to be swept away. Freshly paved streets, brand new and inky black, map the newly spanning city. It's difficult to believe that barely six months ago, the android terror was still rampaging across the world, wreaking devastation and death on us all. Thankfully, that hell was put to an end by my hand, and now the Earth and her people could start anew.
That thought alone should have filled me with overwhelming pride and peace, but unfortunately, I have little to celebrate. As ecstatic as I am at the thought of a peaceful future for my people and the unbridled opportunities that lay ahead of us, I cannot shake a nagging sadness in my heart. It torments me daily, always there, just under the surface of my happiness, shadowing my joy with guilt and mourning.
Peace comes with a hefty price.
I know my destination when I see it, though it was not my intention to come to this place. It was as if I was drawn here, by some force beyond any physical comprehension. I land among the plethora of stones, pillars, and small shrines. A soft breeze ruffles the last of autumn's leaves, as if the voices of the dead are welcoming me to this place.
As I look around me, taking in the beauty of the landscape, with its meandering paths, small brook, and tailored lawn, I am amazed that it remained untouched by the devastation of the androids. Not a tombstone is unturned, not a tree out of place. It's almost as if they left the graveyard purposely unscathed, as a standing tribute to their love of death. The thought makes me shiver and I quickly quench it.
The silence gnaws at me as I take a short walk down one of the curving, cobblestone paths. I stop once I reach a small pond surrounded by a grove of leafless Sakura trees, tucked at the very back of the small cemetery. Tucked away behind the twisting trunks and gnarled limbs, a small stone covered in thin moss and brittle, creeping vines hides in the shadows away from prying eyes.
My heart tightens in my chest as I close in, brushing away some of the limbs that catch my hair and scratch my face.
"Hi, dad," I hear myself say, my voice barely a whisper.
Staring at the quiet stone, I somehow feel like an intruder, a nuisance. It feels wrong to disturb my father's rest this way. I can't help but think that even in death, his very memory is still intimidating. I know I didn't know my father in this time line, but I don't imagine him to be much different than the one I met in the past, and I begin to wonder if he'd even want me be here in the first place.
Something compels me, and I sit down Indian style in front of the modest marker, folding my hand in my lap. For the longest time I only gaze at the stone, thinking how appropriately it fit my father's personage. Mother chose well, knowing my father would not tolerate a brazen display of eccentrics, nor would he consent to having nothing at all left of him, though he might not admit it. The location spoke volumes as well, encompassing my fathers love for solitude and secretiveness. He would hate to be ogled at, nor would he appreciate flowers or incense, though mother probably chose the site with the Sakura trees just to spite him.
As beautiful as it all was, I cannot help but feel the tomb is a bit unfitting for a prince.
I have to wonder if my father is truly at peace here, his ashes laid to rest on a planet that isn't even his own. My father, so proud of his heritage and his people, so insistent that he would never embrace the Earth as his own, ironically met his end on it and was buried beneath it's soil.
Even the act of death seemed to mock him, adding insult to his pride as a warrior, and I have to subdue the pity I feel for him. I know not much about his entire life, but what I do know makes me shudder. He spent his youth under the rule of a tyrant, a slave subjected to God only knows what sort of horrors. He bore the burden of his peoples extinction on his shoulders, a powerful prince, unable to lift a finger in retribution. His entire life revolved around a dream of become the powerful Super Saiya-jin, and though he hid behind the excuse of galactical conquest, I know his main objective was to avenge the death of his kind. My father was not born an autocrat murderer, he was made into one.
He and I aren't so different really. I might not be a cold killer like my father, but I very well could have been one if I'd grown up in the same situation he had. If surviving to meet my ends meant doing despicable deeds, I might be able to take lives mercilessly to save my own kind. I really can't tell, I've never been subjected to slavery of that nature. However, I do know what it is like to grow up in fear of losing all things precious to you. I know what it's like to wake up each day and wonder if it will be the last day I take a breath of air. I understand what it is to carry the entire responsibility of a planet on my shoulders, knowing that I am the only one left who can bring justification to the wrongs done upon them. I know what it is to be the last…to be alone. These are things my father knows well too.
On several levels, we aren't so different.
I pull my knees to my chest and wonder why I came here, to sit in the company of a man a long dead man I never really knew. I stare silently at the symbols of my father's name and suddenly am overwhelmed with a crushing weight in my chest. Sadness blankets me and my breath catches as I bring a fist to my chest.
The full force of my situation buries me.
Years of pent up frustration and loneliness washes over me and I feel the sting of salt in my eyes.
My life, since I was a mere babe, was one ongoing nightmare. Death clings to me like a chronic sickness and the horrors I've witnessed haunt my dreams. I know nothing of what it is to be a normal young man, nor will I ever regain my youth to experience it. I'm far too stained with my past, my temperament and mannerisms shaped by a world that knew nothing but despair and carnage. Gohan, my father, Goku….all those who died in this time and the past…including myself…I know now, that even in these peaceful times, my joy will always be haunted by the atrocities I've lived through.
My loneliness will never end.
I am alone. The last warrior on this Earth, the only person to defend it if another crisis arises, and the last of a gallant, warrior race. Who will pick me up if I fall? There is no one I can turn to when my confidence waivers, no one to teach me what it is to be a Saiya-jin, no one to help me further my training in the ways of a warrior. I've been denied my friends, my father, and my race. No one is left who understands the fighting urges that tug at my very soul, or the strange cravings I can only assume that are undeniably Saiya-jin.
No one on this planet will ever fully understand me, no one can. Not even my dearest mother.
It is then that I know why I've come to the graveyard. How my father must be ashamed, watching me from Heaven or Hell, where ever he may be. Emotion meant nothing to him, but I don't expect him to accept these feelings I'm having. I know he understands them, and that's all that matters. I only want to sit in his solitude and find solace in knowing I am not the only one who's ever felt such things. My flaw is I'm half-human, and oppressing my emotions isn't as easy as it is for a full Saiya-jin as my father. It's times like these I wish he were here to teach me to subdue these feelings that are so second nature to me.
I feel like a fool, but I cannot stop these tears in my eyes. I'm a grown man, son of a warrior prince. Crying is not allowed. Irritated at myself, I rub my eyes furiously, smearing the salty, unspilt tears in my eyes across my face.
"I'm sorry, dad," I say, my voice catching like a 12 year old boys, "You must be pretty disgusted with me."
I cannot stay in this place in my current state of emotional turmoil. Doing so would defile my father's grave, and I have far more honor than that.
I stand up abruptly, wiping my eyes again with a forearm.
Briefly, I reach out to gently touch the small stone, surprised at how warm it feels to the touch. I let my hand linger a moment, trying to contain this torrent of grief and sadness before I leave.
"I only wanted to know you," I say to the stone as I turn away, "I only wanted you to be proud."
As I gather my sword, the wind suddenly gusts, blowing leaves and dust across the graveyard and into my eyes. The warm air blasts my face with the force of a dry, desert heat and I raise a hand to shield myself from it. Behind me, the water of the pond ripples, splashing against the sandy bank and the bare limbs of the Sakura rattle.
I feel my skin start to prickly eerily as the wind begins to die down.
Slowly, I turn back to look at my father's grave.
My eyes widen in shock.
Scattered across the ground I see seven Sakura flowers. I look around, perplexed, and train my ki to my surroundings but feel nothing strange or ominous.
Slowly, I stoop down to finger on of the flowers, my mind working furiously. I glance up at the naked branches, my brow furrowing in thought.
There are no Sakura this late in November.
A smile starts to creep across my face. A genuine smile, and I feel my grief and hopelessness leaving my body as I look to the sky.
For a moment, I only stand there, testing the wind that has picked up again for familiar scents. My smile begins to broaden, so that even my wolfish teeth are showing, and finally I let loose with an outburst of laughter. It erupts from deep in my chest, spilling out from my lungs. I let out a whoop of excitement and thrust my hand to the air, the sign for victory raised high to the heavens.
"Thanks dad, I understand."