Vegeta sat in silence as he studied the various sounds surrounding the monastery. The monastery, unlike his home, was very calm and quiet. It was as if the whole place remained untouched by time but remained in a perpetual state of tranquility. The old man sat before him, his eyes closed in deep meditation. After several moments the man finally spoke.
"Your soul is still at war within itself, Vegeta. You must learn to control your bitterness and anger, for it is your greatest weapon but also your greatest adversary. Only when you master yourself will you obtain the power hidden within."
Vegeta thought on the master's words but said nothing. >>Anger? Bitterness? They have been my closest friends since I could remember…>>
(Flashback) The smell of fresh rain followed Mariko into the room as she approached the prince with a tray of food. She carefully set the tray in front of the prince, who was currently kneeling on the floor, cleaning his sword. Vegeta paid little attention to the food, but continued to go about cleaning his sword. Mariko sat next to the young Saiyan and watched him curiously. Finally she spoke.
"Why do you do it? Why do you train so hard?" Vegeta could sense the frown in her voice. The prince's hand stopped moving and he slowly turned towards Mariko, surprised by her question.
"What do you mean, woman?"
"I mean, how can you continue to push yourself nearly to the point of death and exhaustion day after day? You're killing yourself Vegeta. Why?" Vegeta paused and thought on this puzzling question.
"When your enemy takes away everything that means most to you, you find yourself left with nothing but emptiness and hate. It is hate that drives me to become stronger. During those few periods where I thought myself to be lost in a sea of my own despair, it was hate that got me through. Hate told me when to wake up in the morning, how to eat, how to breathe…I thought I would die from all the hate in my veins…" Vegeta turned away. Mariko softly placed her hand upon Vegeta's shoulder, ignoring his attempts at shrugging it off.
"Can't you see that vengeance will only lead to a path of death and destruction? Do you really believe that killing others in acts of vengeance will satisfy your pain and suffering?" Mariko's grasp tightened with her increasing frustration.
"Of course I do, woman. What else is left to believe in?" Mariko recoiled away from Vegeta as if she had just been slapped.
"Then you are truly lost." Mariko said, her voice barely a whisper. She then hastily stood up and left the room, the salt from her tears hanging heavy in the air long after her departure. (end flashback).
Master Roshi stood, his saffron robes rustling against the ground sending the scent of prayer incense into the air.
"I feel that your soul is still on Mt. Hakurei," the old man continued gravely, "reliving the cold and tragic events that took place there. You must bring yourself out of that place of perpetual darkness, my prince, of I fear you will be lost forever…"
Vegeta scowled at the monk's words and leaped up to his feet. "You know nothing about me old man, or the state of my soul! I didn't ask for your philosophical nonsense- I asked for you to make me stronger!" Vegeta spat defensively.
Master Roshi chuckled, "I know much more about you than you think, my young prince. It would behoove you to heed my words. I simply wish to help you, you and your people", said the monk.
"I don't need your help!" Vegeta stated, and then he turned and stalked away from Master Roshi. Roshi gazed back at the angry Saiyan as he stomped away into the courtyard. The old monk shook his head and returned to the temple.
Bulma kneeled before the statue of Buddha, curiously studying the amazing details of the famed idol. She turned around and studied the vast room, where hundreds of monks came to pray and meditate three times a day. Their daily, monotone chants echoed throughout the temple and had soon became a part of her everyday life.
Bulma glanced at the pail and cloth in her hands and sighed. It had been a month since she and Vegeta had first arrived at the Kameshima Monastery. When she had first arrived she was awestruck by the beauty and simplicity of the monastery life. It was so unlike the Saiyan household, with its constant hustle and bustle.
Here at the monastery Bulma had begun to really appreciate the fundamentals of life. Observing the extreme devotion that the monks had to their way of life had made her notice things that she had been taking for granted.
However, the monastery seemed to have the opposite affect on Vegeta. He became more and more distant, secluding himself from everyone…especially her. She rarely saw the prince anymore, and when she did she felt an overwhelming sense of anger and bitterness coming from him. She saw it in the way that he walked, and even heard it in the way he talked. Vegeta concerned himself only with his training and paid her very little attention. As much as Bulma hated to admit it, she missed the conversations with the prince, even if they had usually ended as arguments and conflicts.
For the first time in her life, Bulma found herself alone and without anyone to talk to. She was a woman, and women technically weren't allowed in monasteries, so she wasn't allowed to go near the monks. With Vegeta retreating more and more into himself, Bulma essential had no one to talk to or turn to for comfort. She hated it.
Bulma turned her gaze back to the smiling statue of Buddha. The statue was made of pure gold, standing at 12 ft well above Bulma, its head brushing the ceiling. The sparkling detail of his garments and features were simply breathtaking, and it looked as if at any moment he might spring to life. The golden Buddha's smile vaguely reminded Bulma of the carefree smile often worn by Goku. I wonder how they are doing, Bulma thought to herself, suddenly overwhelmed with nostalgia.
Bulma reluctantly turned her attention to the task at hand: cleaning the floors. As she moved the rag rhythmically up and down the altars, she noticed how old her hands looked. Her once soft and delicate hands were now calloused and worn from her constant labor as a servant. She paused for a moment as she came to the realization that she had changed: emotionally and physically. The Spoiled-Princess-of-Hakurei had totally vanished and left Mariko the Servant-Woman in her place.
Bulma continued studying her hands and it dawned on her that her life would never be the same. She had nothing and no one left except ChiChi, who was miles away. Everything from her past life died in the fire, and she would be forced to live a lie for a long time…maybe even forever. The young woman did not know whether to laugh or cry. So she did both.
After only a few moments of Bulma's breakdown, Master Roshi entered the Temple. Glancing curiously at the crying/laughing woman the monk asked,
"Is everything alright Bulma-Chan?" Bulma froze in mid-sob as a chill ran down her spine.
Vegeta continued to walk down the path through the courtyard, his head still reeling from his past training session. He had become dedicated wholeheartedly to his training; he needed to get stronger and prove to everyone who the prince really was… to show Mariko that he was worth something, to show his father that he was worthy enough to wear the crown of Vegeta-sei.
Vegeta abruptly stopped walking and allowed the smells and sounds of the courtyard wash over him. There was a profound peace here, a peace that Vegeta had never experienced before. This peace gave him the renewed strength to continue with his back-breaking training. He could feel his strength building with each day. Vegeta smirked at this and continued to let his mind wander towards visions of himself becoming the Emperor of the Three Kingdoms. And then there came a voice that made Vegeta stop short.
"Hello, old friend". Vegeta paused for a moment as those words hung heavy in the air and then he turned and sneered.
"So you have finally decided to show yourself after all this time. You have been hovering on the edge of my senses for a long time and now you finally have the audacity to face me. I am very surprised that you've managed to get your tail from between your legs long enough to even approach me". The voice behind Vegeta snorted.
"You're always running that big mouth of yours, Vegeta! But can you back it up?"
"What do you want from me Yamcha?" spat Vegeta, annoyed with his games.
"Ahh, what an interesting question. Well, as you know, I've wanted you dead for a long time…" said Yamcha slyly.
"The feeling is mutual," spat the prince coldly.
"Well, Lord Bardock wants you eliminated as well, for you are a great hazard to the success of this kingdom, and so here I am to dispense his will!"
Vegeta laughed. "Oh, so he sent you, the biggest coward in all the Three Kingdoms? I always knew the bastard had a sense of humor."
Yamcha glared and Vegeta and unsheathed his sword.
"Don't you dare make a mockery out of me!" yelled Yamcha, red with fury.
"You have already made a mockery of yourself!" the Prince spat as he whipped out his sword to counter the challenge.
"May the Gods grant you safe passage to Hell, my lord," Yamcha hissed, crouching into his Wolf Fang Fist Fighting Style.
"Don't worry Most Honorable Lord Yamcha, all ten thousand gods and goddesses couldn't stop me from dragging you down right with me!"
Energy crackled in the air as the two swords sprang at one another. The battle had begun…
"How do you know my real name?" Bulma's voice trembled as she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. The monk smiled slyly.
"There are many things that I know about you, Lady Bulma," the monk stated simply.
"B-But how?" whispered Bulma, on the verge of hysterics. How could he have possibly found out? What will he do to me! Is he a spy for Vegeta? Am I going to DIE? Bulma's thoughts raced around in her head as she began to slowly back away from Master Roshi.
"I believe you have an uncle named Krillin, am I correct?" Bulma's heart fluttered about her ribcage and her mouth went dry with fear and hope. She slowly nodded.
"Well, he was a student of mine, along with Lord Goku…" the monk trailed off. Then there was a rustling in the back of the room and suddenly a figure emerged in the doorway. Bulma leapt up onto her feet and screamed!
"Uncle Krillin!" She ran into the arms of the last remaining member of her Clan.
"It's been so long- I'm so glad you are still alive!" said Krillin, grinning.
Bulma looked in astonishment at the change in her Uncle. His once full head of hair was completely shaved and replaced with the 6 dots of the Shoaling Monk Monastery.
"Uncle…I thought you were dead." whispered Bulma, tears beginning to blur her vision as she remembered that frightful day the Saiyans attacked. Krillin glanced down with a pained look on his face.
"I barely got out alive. If it wasn't for Tien's help I would have died along with the rest of the Buruma Clan. Sadly, I couldn't save him…" Krillin trailed off, his voice becoming choked with emotion. Bulma's tears now began to spill down the side of her face as she remembered how caring and strong her Uncle Tien had been. My Uncle's helped me so much but I didn't realize it until it was too late…at least Krillin has come back to me, perhaps I can start over again . Bulma smiled at her uncle, her eyes glittering with tears, and they both fell into an embrace. Finally, after Bulma was sure that if she shed another tear she would disappear, she pulled away from her long lost uncle.
"Uncle Krillin, there's someone I want you to meet. I think he could use your help." said Bulma, happily, as she wiped away her tears. Krillin nodded cheerfully and signaled Bulma to lead the way. As uncle and niece walked out of the room, Bulma stopped short and turned slightly to glance at Master Roshi, who had walked to the other side of the room to give them privacy.
"Thank you for saving my uncle, Master Roshi. Thank you for everything…" Bulma then continued through the door and towards the garden in search of Vegeta.
The old monk turned and nodded as the pair left the room, but his expression was grave for he suddenly felt a great disturbance in his spirit. He knelt before the statue of Buddha and closed his eyes to meditate but no matter what he did he could not shake the feeling that something was going wrong…very wrong.
Vegeta bared his teeth in anger as hot sweat rolled down his face, the salt stinging his sightless eyes. He could hear Yamcha's labored breathing a couple yards in front of him as the scared Saiyan recovered from the furious attacks of the prince. The scent of sweat and blood hung densely between the two warriors. Every bone, muscle, and ligament seemed to be aflame with pain in Vegeta's body, but the stubborn prince refused to stop until his opponent was destroyed. Unfortunately, Yamcha felt the same way.
"Wolf Fang Strike! Kyaaah!" screamed Yamcha, leaping at Vegeta and swinging his sword around wildly. Vegeta, his arms weak and strained from his last attack, was unable to dodge quickly enough and Yamcha's sword slashed him right across his chest. The prince hollered as he felt the blade tear his flesh and fell to the ground. Yamcha smirked but suddenly felt all his strength sap out of him and he collapsed as well. Vegeta grimaced as he felt his warm blood spill from his wound. The two warriors had been fighting for a long time and the sun had already begun to hang low in the horizon. Vegeta slowly sat up upon his knees, his muscles straining with effort. He faced his opponent and smirked.
"Nice move…too bad it will be your last!" Vegeta suddenly sucked in his breath as he summoned all his strength to deliver a final death blow. Then suddenly a voice beckoned to him, causing the young Saiyan to lose his concentration, and he barely managed to hit the side of Yamcha's face before falling to the ground in sheer exhaustion.
Yamcha looked up to see Bulma, running towards them followed by a man he had never seen before. Instantly, he sat up on his knees, forgetting his injuries. Bulma instantly ran to Vegeta's side, her eyes wide with fear and anger.
"What have you done?" screamed Bulma as she saw Vegeta bleeding profusely.
"Ah, so the mysterious Mariko finally shows her beautiful face. I knew we would meet again, my love," Yamcha said smugly. Bulma looked at the Saiyan in disgust as she tried to bring the wounded prince to his feet.
"Who are you?" demanded Krillin, his eyes hot with anger. Vegeta quickly shrugged away Bulma's helping hand, determined to stand on his own.
"Stay out of this woman. This is my fight, not yours!" Vegeta snapped, irritated that he still had not defeated Yamcha. Bulma opened her mouth to spit back a retort when Yamcha cut her off.
"But it is she who should be fighting with you as well, my blind prince," Yamcha sneered as he slowly rose to his feet as well. All heads turned to Yamcha in confusion.
"What are you talking about, Scarface, this fight is between you and me! Don't you try to bring the woman into this," yelled Vegeta, stepping in front of Bulma protectively.
"Ahh, not quite. See, she was already part of this issue before I was. Why don't you tell him the truth, Mariko," Yamcha said slyly, knowing that he had hit a nerve. Bulma stared back at the man before her in confusion until realization hit her with a sickening blow. No! He wants me to tell Vegeta that I'm from the Buruma clan…What do I do? . Bulma's heart began to race as fear crept into her body like ice cold fire.
"I…I…" Bulma's mouth went dry. Yamcha's smirk grew wider as he saw the fear glittering in the young woman's eyes. Vegeta turned to Bulma in bewilderment.
"What is he talking about, woman?" Vegeta demanded hotly. Krillin looked back and forth between Yamcha and Bulma, utter confusion plastered on his face.
"Bulma, why did he just call you Mariko?" Krillin asked hesitantly. Bulma's heart stopped as she watched her Uncle form those destructive words. No! I didn't want it to end like this…Why did it have to end now? . Vegeta turned sharply in the direction of this new voice.
"What is going on here?" ordered the prince, his anger mounting. Krillin and Bulma both opened their mouth to explain but Yamcha once again beat them to it.
"Ahh, aren't you a smart little wench! Hiding your real name from me and giving me an alias! I would say I wish I had never saved a lying traitor like you, but the look on Vegeta's face makes everything worth while. I couldn't have done it better myself, darling. So go ahead, Bulma! Tell him who you really are!" Yamcha shouted, his voice rising with every sentence.
Bulma finally spoke. "Stop it! Just stop it! That's enough…" her voice cracked as her eyes swelled with tears.
"Tell him! Tell him how you betrayed him and tricked him into believing that you were just another harmless servant girl when in reality you were a traitor in disguise! You are the Daughter of Lord Buruma of the Buruma Clan!" Yamcha smirked as he watched the range of emotions fly across the proud prince's face.
"No!" screamed Bulma, her face streaming with tears.
"Your father tried to kill Vegeta, but only managed to blind him. So you showed up here to finish the job! To think that the proud prince of all Saiyans was harboring the enemy all this time."
Then suddenly all the air had been sucked away and Vegeta couldn't breathe. It seemed as if time itself had stopped and the prince was stuck in limbo. Yamcha's words shot through his heart like a million shards of glass, cutting and destroying everything in its path. He heard voices but Yamcha's words kept repeating themselves: "…Daughter of Buruma clan…"
Pain and fury overwhelmed Vegeta and he gasped for air as memories with Bulma danced across his consciousness. No…No…NO! Vegeta could not bring himself to believe the horrible words his long sworn enemy had spoken. But he could not bring himself to forget those words, for those words were engraved onto his mind forever. No…No…No! "Daughter of Buruma…finish the job…Bulma…Daughter of the Buruma Clan…finish the job…"
"NOOO!" Vegeta screamed as he felt an overwhelming rage and power take over him. The sky began to darken with black storm clouds. Lightening crackled across the sky. Vegeta's hair flickered bright gold as he felt himself taken over by this uncontrollable raw power. All he heard was a woman's shrill scream and then his world went silent.