The first strike came as he was turning back from Avia. Trunks didn't see it coming; only Avia's sudden expression of warning saved him from a tremendous blow to the head. As it was, he only partly dodged as it instead pounded into his shoulder. Rolling away from the attack, he flipped into air, putting distance between himself and King.
"Stop running!" King Vegeta howled as he shot a bolt at Trunks. Trunks snapped his hand up, knocking it away. The blast had been light, he realized as it shot into the open ceiling of the Pit; the King must be testing him. He would use that; as long as he appeared to be having trouble, he could keep the King arrogant. As another blast seared the sky just in front of him, Trunks smiled grimly. He had an ace in the hole; a surprise for anyone who thought him easy prey.
Cyrane leaned against Osper, her eyes focused on the fight below. It had been going on for an hour now, mostly with Vegeta chasing the lavender-haired boy. Trunks, she reminded herself, my daughter's declared mate. She shuddered as she considered the possibilities of a future with a half-breed as King and her daughter as Queen. But worse would be the other possible future – one where her daughter was dragged into death by a bond. Avia was sitting on the seat in front of her; on impulse, Cyrane leaned forward and put her arms around her daughter. "I love you," she whispered to her, praying that if Trunks did fall – which was almost certain eventually – that Avia would survive or be wrong about the bond.
Avia crossed her arms over Cyrane's, careful not to apply too much pressure on the woman's bruised limbs. "I love you too, Mother," she murmured as her own body cried in protest from the movement. Strange how just over an hour ago, she had been sleeping next to Trunks' tank, her brother had been safe and everything was normal. And now, she was watching her mate fight for her and her brother's lives while her fight for adult independence was forestalled. She glanced over at Prince Vegeta, worried about him.
He had refused to have medical attention. Instead, he had insisted that Osper bind his leg into a seal-cast so that he could watch the fight. "It is a fight for my life," he had growled. "At least let me see it. Besides, the regen tank won't do anything more for me if I don't wait, and if Trunks loses, then I've just wasted the time healing." Prince Vegeta had grimly propped himself up on the stone bench to watch the fight, and he was still sitting with an intense, pale face.
Avia reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. Silently, though it must have hurt him, Vegeta put his hand over hers, squeezing lightly. His eyes never left Trunks, causing Avia to frown at the younger Saiyan with worry. Her concern for her brother caused Avia to miss the hit that knocked her mate from the sky, but his reaction warned her as well as if she had seen it herself. When the terrible roar sounded in the arena and her brother's eyes grew wide and his face twisted with despair, Avia spun back to the fight. Trunks lay in a rubble pile, bruised and bleeding.
"No," Avia whispered, clasping her hands together. "Please, no." Behind her, her mother tightened her arms around Avia's shoulders, trying to offer comfort. Next to Cyrane, Avia could hear Osper urging the demi-Saiyan to his feet.
King Vegeta hovered like a dark omen over the downed Trunks, his face expressionless. He could end his life now, Avia thought, but he's holding his hand. Why? A sudden thought flicked through her mind. Could it be that he did believe that Trunks was his son?
Trunks gasped in his first breath of air since making the crater in the arena, nearly choking on the dust his landing had thrown up. He had really underestimated the force of that last blow. With a groan, he rose to his feet, feeling the aches and pains of his wounds. He looked up at his father, hanging impassively in the air, and Trunks knew it was time.
With a scream, he threw his head back, calling forth the golden light. It was time to show his father who he was, time to show everyone that he was the heir to the Saiyan Empire. The light rushed into him, filling him with power and joy and soothing his wounds. But Trunks didn't stop when it had filled into him; he kept pulling it deeper and deeper into himself, drawing in as much of the energy as he could. He would need it all to defeat his father.
Sudden horror swept through all of the watching Saiyan as a second sun blossomed in the arena. The audience cried in terror, their voices rising as one as they realized that this slave bore the golden aura of the Legendary.
King Vegeta gasped as Trunks became the Legendary, golden light engulfing his form. This then, was his proof, the key that he had been waiting for to prove that this was his son. Bulma, he thought, my sweet Bulma. I was a fool to doubt you, to doubt our son. And now, I'll make it all up to you, him, to everyone. Steadying his voice, King Vegeta shouted down, "Well you do seem to have some tricks. But are they good enough?"
"Let's find out, Father!" Trunks shouted as he gathered his ki into an attack. Shouting exultantly, he sent the beam flying at King Vegeta.
Trunks had expected the beam to hit the King, to hurt and to start the long fight of whittling each other down. He was not prepared for the King to drop from the sky, slamming into the floor of the arena with a roaring thud.
The audience went silent as their King fell from one blow. Not a sound could be heard as Trunks moved over to his father, bending over the fallen Saiyan. "Father?" he asked, turning the King over. The damage was extensive, and Trunks gasped at his own power. His eyes picked Osper out of the audience. "Prep a tank!" Trunks bellowed. "We need to get him in there immediately!"
"No," King Vegeta gasped, grabbing Trunks' arm. "No, don't. Just let me go."
"Father," Trunks whispered, filling tears fill his eyes. That surprised him; he hadn't thought that he would cry when he defeated the King. But this was different – there was no preparation, no long fight to numb the heart and burn the blood, only death.
"Tell Cyrane she's free," Vegeta whispered, "and tell the brat that his father is fool. And go easy on Nappa; he's a bit slow sometimes." The sky was so blue, like her eyes…
"Father, please," Trunks gasped. "Now that you know who I am, we can--"
"Play at being a family?" Vegeta chuckled. "Stupid brat. I'm too old to change my ways except in the Oblivion Beyond." The King's grip grew weaker, and his eyes became unfocused. "Any… messages for… your mother?" He could see those eyes now and that flowing blue hair; at any moment, her wicked smile would appear and he could take her hand again…
Trunks was shaking so hard he couldn't answer, holding his sobs in through willpower alone. "That's alright…" Vegeta sighed, his voice almost too soft to hear, "I think that… I can guess what you'd tell her."
The assembled Saiyans watched as their old King died in the arms of the new. They all wondered what horrible changes awaited them under the rule of the lavender-haired King.
Osper sagged with relief and Avia relaxed. The tyrant was dead. With a frown, Avia turned to her brother. "Let's get you into a regen tank," she said as she scooped him up in her arms.
Vegeta didn't protest as she carried him away like a child. Instead, he finally let himself feel the pain coursing up and down his nerves, and he was only grateful when Avia tucked him into a regen tank.
Osper laughed with joy as he flew down to Trunk's side, who was still kneeling over his father's body. "Get up, lad," he grunted. "Time to claim the crown."
"Leave me alone," Trunks hissed, scrubbing at his face. "I just killed my father; leave me be!"
"You have to claim your crown, boy," Osper said, kneeling down next to the new King. "If you don't do it, and do it quick, you'll have to kill someone else when one of these nobles gets it into their heads to take the crown for themselves."
"Let them have it," Trunks hissed, scowling at Osper. "It's not worth it."
"You've paid the price for it," Osper said. "Now, get over it and do what you started to do. Take the crown; change the world."
Trunks sighed heavily and pushed himself to his feet. Osper was right; the consequences to earn his crown had already been paid; all that was left to do was try to make his father's death worth it. Staring up into the crowds, the young demi-Saiyan intoned, "By the right of might, I am the King of all Saiyans. Bow to me, and know that I am the strongest in the land."
"You're not even a Saiyan!" someone in the crowd cried angrily, and a growing murmur surged forward from the stands.
Trunks hid his weariness – he had a terrible feeling that he was seeing the model of his rule would follow. Reaching inside, he pulled forth his legendary power while shouting, "I'm half-Saiyan actually. Would you care to make something of it?"
Silence greeted him, and Trunks nodded with satisfaction. At least it was easy to calm down the masses, he thought grimly. Eager to get this business done, he said, "Let's get the acknowledgement of superiority going. Who's first?"
One by one, the nobles filled down, a bowed to the earth, acknowledging his superiority. Trunks watched each one, trying to learn their names and faces. All the while though, there was something nagging at him, and he suddenly realized that he hadn't seen Grandfather Vegeta yet. "Where is Lord Vegeta?" he said, interrupting the noble kneeling at his feet.
"King Vegeta killed him," one of the nobles blithely replied. "He tried to argue with the King, Your Majesty, and the King blasted him."
Trunks went cold, frozen by the casual remark. "Father – King Vegeta? Killed him?" Trunks gasped. Next to him, Osper shifted uncomfortably. Of all those assembled here, he could understand best the strange rages that could grip the new King. After a moment, Trunks hissed, "Get away from me. All of you, leave me alone."
Obediently, the nobles drifted away from King Trunks. After a moment, Osper also moved away, leaving Trunks alone with his grief in the arena. It was a long time before he moved to his feet and began the task of ruling the Saiyans.
Cyrane sat alone in the arena for a long time after the end of the fight, after the end of the declarations, and even after Trunks had given her Vegeta's message. She replayed the fight again in her mind, trying to figure something out.
She had been watching Vegeta, not Trunks in the fight, and she had seen Vegeta cease being the Legendary before Trunks' beam had hit him, as if he were sacrificing himself. But that made no sense, especially when she compared it to the Vegeta that she had known for so long.
Perhaps, she thought as she finally stood up to join the celebration with her family, no one knew the real Vegeta at all. But she even reconsidered that thought when she tilted her head back and saw the blue, blue sky. Maybe there had been one person who had understood him, after all.
Trunks lay quietly next to Avia, filling strange in the big bed. It was somewhat chilling to consider that just yesterday, this had been his father's bed. He sighed and shifted slightly, trying not to wake Avia. To his chagrin, she raised her head and looked at him. "So you can't sleep either?" she murmured.
"I didn't want to kill him," Trunks whispered, his voice tight. "I just wanted to stop him."
Avia ran a comforting hand down his arm. "Saiyans do not stop well. He would have been miserable if you had spared his life."
"Like Grandfather was," Trunks muttered, feeling his throat tighten. "Is it selfish of me to wish that I had spared his life? I mean, he was my father, and I barely knew who he was. I have the stories Mom told me, but nothing else."
"Hold on to your mother's stories," Avia said softly, staring into the flames. "The stories of the sad king are more comforting than those of the brutal tyrant that I will remember."
Some time later
Prince Vegeta picked his way up the walk to the Saiyan palace, leaning heavily on his cane. While the regen tank had been able to mostly repair his leg, he had lost both muscle mass and bone. He now had one leg that was noticeably shorter than the other, and it had taken a year of work to rebuild his ruined muscles to the point where he could just use the cane. He would never be able to get around well without it; sometimes, in his more bitter moments, he counted the cane as the most enduring gift that his father had given him.
Just over two years ago, he had been sure that he would rather die than display physical weakness, but things changed. He certainly had, and not just about the cane: he didn't care that he wasn't King. He was perfectly happy to live his days out in his cottage in the mountains. And societies, even societies such as the Saiyan Empire, change, too, Vegeta thought with a chuckle, glancing around at the palace. Servants still scurried around, attending to duties, but there was a different air to them than when he had been here last as a child. There was certainly less fear in the air, though the fact that the expected event was to happen today could have something to do with the attitude in the palace.
Vegeta tilted his head back, staring at the pale, sun-bleached sky. He found that he greatly missed the mountains when he was gone from them; of course part of that could be that the Montessi treated him as one of their own. Here, he still got the occasional dirty look.
Everyone now knew he was genetically imperfect, but Vegeta didn't care if that was the cause for the dark scowls. He had come to terms with it, and it was nobody else's business. He realized he was dawdling and picked up his speed, determined not to miss anything.
He met Cyrane just inside the door. She had been at the palace a week, hovering worriedly and getting on everyone's nerves, according to Avia. "Mother," Vegeta exclaimed, grabbing her for a hug. "Have I missed it?"
"No," Cyrane laughed happily. "No, you haven't missed anything." Together, they hurried through the white corridors of the palace, hastening toward their goal.
Their joy was cut short when they reached the doors of the royal bedrooms; Bardock stood outside the door with a strange expression on his face. "Bardock?" Cyrane asked hesitantly. There was something terrible about the way that Bardock held himself. "What's wrong? Has he come?"
"Is Avia alright?" Vegeta butted in, his concern for his sister surging forth.
"Avia's fine," Bardock said tonelessly, "and the heir has arrived."
"Is something wrong with the baby?" Cyrane asked, uncertain how he could be anything other than fine. He was destined to be the strongest Saiyan alive.
Bardock finally looked at them, his dark eyes fearful. "It's a girl. The heir to the Saiyan Empire is a girl."
ARGH!! It is finally done. Yes, I plan a sequel, but I will finish The Grand Prix first. So look forward to me posting TGP soon, and I'll see you all again.
A special thank you to everyone who reviewed, good or bad. I love my readers! You are the best!