... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,
the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time
handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now
restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:
Bread and Circuses.
I. Bread and Circuses
Lost and Fondness.
Shades of Crimson
The fan her maidservant had handed her this morning after dressing her had been intended to be nothing more than another item to lug around as a fashion statement. It had been crafted to match her lacy parasol and floor length games gown - which were equally as useless.
However, the young princess found that such a frivolous object should be used for it's true purpose; and so she wafted the fan in front of her face in a feeble attempt to cool herself off.
She frowned, a rather unladylike gesture, at the flimsy fan that was held together with only light lace, as she watched as it flapped in a purposeless manner. There was simply no use! The three bright suns were high in the sky and she was forced to sit through the games and make pleasant conversation for another three hours in this horrid heat.
She looked across at her brother; he looked rather noble, she thought, with a smile. Then she replaced it with an immediate frown. He, of course, wasn't miserable. He was bald for Heije's sake! The sun wasn't beating down on his thick main of hair … and his dress robes were loose and light. Much unlike her own floor-length gown.
Her cerulean eyes turned back to the games unfolding before her. Nearly seven stories below their luxurious sky box, two men were fighting furiously. The eyes rolled - and all for entertainment's sake.
She hated the games; they were cruel and bloody. She hated it even more when the men were evenly matched, like in the case below. It dragged the matches out far too long.
She let out an exasperated sigh, blowing a lock of azure hair away from her face as she did so.
This action was not missed by the man who was seated next to her, and she watched as his attention turned from the fight to her, "Lady Bulma, are you not enjoying the fight?"
Two rows of perfectly white teeth were shown in her best attempt at a polite, but rather forced, smile. "Of course Zarbon, I am rather enjoying myself."
A smirk grazed his features and she couldn't help but feel that sudden girlish jolt in her stomach. It was no secret that Zarbon, her father's right-hand man, was noticeably and incredibly attractive. Furthermore, being only two years her senior, it was also not a secret that her father had been making arrangements for them to be married.
Though the thought didn't sicken her … it did upset her a little more than slightly. Not only was Zarbon incredibly arrogant, but he was rather boring and when he fought he transformed into this hideous beast that simply appalled her.
Whenever she would talk to him, she would picture his transformation and had to control the need to visibly grimace. Besides, he was that feminine and beautiful kind of handsome. She was a princess - she rightly deserved someone ruggedly handsome.
After a short chuckle and smile in her direction, his attention was diverted to the fight still underway bellow their box.
With mild interest in the games, Bulma, once again, let her mind wander. She thought about the allied king in the suit with them that her father was currently making small talk with. She thought about how he was nothing more than a brown noser who wanted the security her father had to offer. She thought about the halfway decent looking queen seated next to him. She thought about reaching over and removing some of the mascara clumped in the corner of her right eyelash.
Bulma thought about her brother and how he was unable to stand up for himself. She thought about if she had been born the male that she would have been able to stand up to their father. Her mind wandered to Zarbon and thought about his ugly transformation, and then looked over her beautiful mother and scowled at her ignorance.
Then, when she had no one left in their box to criticize, she thought about all of the people in the audience. The ignorant fools who cheered for death for their own selfish amusement. Her cerulean eyes rolled as the fight bellow them began to draw to a close - the darker skinned man cornering the other and shooting weak ki blasts in his direction.
She couldn't help but compare this entire scenario to that of the Roman Empire she had read about from some faraway planet that had fallen thousands of years ago. Though the race was not only ignorant but they were weak to top it off. So much so that they had to fight to the death with weapons. She had read that the Emperor of this Roman kingdom had kept his people happy with this very form of entertainment so that they would not rally against him.
She frowned, such tactics of bread and circuses were not unlike the ones her father used to subdue his own people. Taking his prisoners and enemies and making them the gladiators who would fight to their deaths kept people under him amused and those against him in fear.
Heiji, the god of the Ice-jins, her father's race, would probably be frowning down upon them now if he did in fact exist. The Ice-jins were a powerful race and ruled over much of the universe; it was a pity that her father took such pacifying, palliative procedures to keep his forces intact.
The ashy dirt of the coliseum floor was littered with crimson and blue specks of alien blood; the royal family that was seated in the sky box took this time to stand.
Freeza, the short pink scaled emperor, took this time to speak halfway true spouts of his ideals and praise to his great empire. The starving and ignorant citizens cheered and praised his name. They shouted in return commends of his majesty and proclaiming him Heiji's chosen one.
The short ruler turned to his beautiful, white-fleshed wife and kissed her roused cheek when the cheering has ceased - causing it to start up again.
She was a beautiful creature, with pallid skin that was smooth, clear and soft. She had long, turquoise hair and cerulean eyes. Arguably the most beautiful specimen from what is not arguably the most beautiful race in the universe from planet Konatsu.
It was no question to anyone why she was chosen as his queen.
The two children had been lucky enough to receive the genes of their mother. They had the soft, white skin and their daughter, Princess Bulma, had even inherited the long, flowing aqua locks and cerulean eyes with gave her beauty to rival that of only the queen.
As the royal family, followed by those accompanying them in the suite, began to depart, so did the crowds filling the modern structure built only to host the to-death battles that were held the first weekend of every Universal Month and the capital of the planet Cold.
Departing the games, the tall prince watched as his sister hurriedly scurried off towards her room. He frowned at her quick actions, but he was not surprised by them.
Now she would be slipping out of her gown and throwing back her tamed hair, and she would be on her way to her personal tech lab to tinker with one of her inventions or to modify one of the ships their father had bestowed upon her to keep her mind occupied.
He had always known that his sister was something else - a combination of such beauty and brains was rare to be seen anywhere in the universe. She, unfortunately knew this fact and was haughty beyond belief. Her strong knack for politics and her knowledge for planetary and universal economics made her their father's jewel. That and the fact that she looked strikingly like their mother.
Tien turned to the queen and king of Guota and smiled courteously at them. He knew that his sister had a tendency to be rude to those she found below her, and since nearly everyone was, she often lacked all manners. It was up to Tien to be the affable member of the family.
"It was nice of you to join us during the games this month King and Queen Skipatha." Another gracious smile, "I hope that you will remember us next time you visit this planet - there will always be an open room for you to sleep in at our palace and seats in our sky box for any upcoming game."
The King bowed respectfully to the young prince and smiled, "Thank you so much Prince Tien, it has been an honor to get to know the future ruler of all that is."
"Yes." Freeza stated lightly, "I will leave the universe in good hands, no doubt."
"Well I would say." The Queen said, sending Tien a flirtatious smile in his direction, and then one at Zarbon.
After they had departed and were out of hearing range Freeza sighed, "I must be getting old. She didn't even take the time to come on to me."
The two men laughed and Freeza nodded, "You did very well though Tien, the alliance with Guota is very important to us. They have more than enough resources available on their planet to last us many years, and they like you very much so that should only strengthen our affiliation with them."
Tien nodded swiftly. He was beginning to see how things worked. He wasn't sure how clean his conscious was going to feel about manipulating poor planets into strengthening an alliance for his fathers forces, however.
"That sister of yours however," Freeza began, a look of displeasure crossing his features, "she will need a good stern talking to."
The bald prince sighed, "I will speak to her first father. I'm sure her temper is more than a little flared at the moment."
Zarbon laughed and watched as Tien bowed respectively at the pair and than departed.
Freeza watched his son go and turned to Zarbon, "It is a pity his emotions are so weak. He has the charisma and strength to grow an army of planets so powerful that it would engulf the entirety of the universe."
Zarbon nodded, "But charm is, unfortunately, all that he has. When the time comes to use the instrument he has been welding, I am sure that he could make no brash moves with it."
Freeza sighed, "And that is where you come in, dear Zarbon."
With a few light taps against the stainless steel barrier blocking him between the dimly lit hallway and his sisters personal lab, he was finally granted access and stepped inside.
He found his sister laying beneath a ship, cursing as she threw a wrench in his direction.
Tien easily dodged it and laughed as his sister pulled herself up from under the ship and shot him an annoyed look, "What, father unhappy with my performance at today's games?"
A shrug was all he could muster.
She frowned at him, "Well, you're not getting an apology out of me so stop wasting your time."
He laughed wholeheartedly at his sister. She never ceased to amuse him. He felt a pang of pity for the poor man who was going to be stuck with her, he would have more than enough of a handful with her tongue alone.
With a sigh, she removed the goggles from the top of her head and wiped her greasy hands off on her pants, "Really Tien, why are you here?"
"Father was perturbed by your manners today." He frowned, "Or lack there of, and, frankly, I have to agree with him."
Her cerulean eyes rolled at this statement, "What? I did him a favor by remaining mute the entire engagement. I will not make polite conversation with such ignorant weaklings."
He was not surprised by her statement, her next statement, however, caused him to blink in bewilderment.
"I will not be another mom Tien. I cannot. Do you know why I do this?" She pointed to the broken ship behind her, a jaded expression crossing her features, "Do you know why I spend my time playing mechanic?"
The question was rhetorical, so he stood there in the stark chambers, awaiting her reply.
"It is because I will not stand by and be a brainless doll! I refuse to be nothing more than a pretty face and a convenient uterus to bear Zarbon's heir!" Her eyes remained steady, such control over her composure was something she had been bread to do. Both of them - taught to be nothing but royalty and warriors.
He hadn't ever thought of his sisters place as such. Her actions had never made him compare her to a dimwitted princess. She was, however, correct in thinking that that was exactly what she was expected to be. He frowned, that was the reputation his father had let on, his frowned deepened, and perhaps that was the reputation he wanted not only others but himself to believe.
The fact about her bearing a child for their fathers right hand man, however, was a new revelation all together.
She thought that their father wanted her to wed Zarbon?
"Bulma, we all know that you are not a brainless doll, and father doesn't expect you to behave as such," he thought about how he had granted her this lab and had listened to her economical ideas, believing it himself, "And I highly doubt that he has any devious plans to marry Zarbon and yourself."
Their tête-à-tête was drawing to a close as Bulma's eyebrows furrowed, this was soon to be a one-sided conversation, "Tien! You have no idea what father's intentions are. I have known him for eighteen years and I have yet to come to know him. They say I am his prized possession, and yet it seems that he is only pushing the union of myself and Zarbon to carry on the future of the universe he has kept sheltered from me."
She paused to take an exasperated breath, "Don't you see it? When he looks at you, he feels pity. He loves you Tien, I believe he does, but he finds that you have too much compassion for your own good. And, did you know, he's planning on making you pick a bride soon? He has been wishing it for some time. This is not to make you King or anything like this, no, he only wants it because weddings are excuses for big parties, and you know how he feels about politics and parties."
Tien gave her a disbelieving look.
Sure, much of what she said was the truth, but there was so much distraught anger behind her words. He hadn't known his sister harbored such emotions.
Turning from her he went to open the door, pausing momentarily above the keypad he spoke lightly, "I will tell father that you were against apologizing, but promised to try and be a bit more social next time."
With that, the door opened and the blue haired princess watched her brother depart without a glance back.
When the sliding steel door had closed again, her wide eyes slid shut and her lungs breathed in a large intake of air. She felt that familiar feeling of misplacement and longed to fill that void.
Turning back to the broken ship before her, she began once again her task of fixing the wrongs with it. She hadn't had to power to do so in her own life, so this was the only escape she could find.
She wasn't sure why the word echoed so nicely through her brain.
But for some reason a troubled frown crossed her perfect features as she halfheartedly began to unscrew a bolt in the rear of the ship.
Tien blinked in disbelief. He had repeated to his father exactly what he had told his sister he would say, but his father only shrugged in clear disapproval.
"No son, it's time she step up and fulfill her duties," Freeza paused to take a short swig of the liquid he had been swirling around in his glass, "She is ungrateful and out of place, has been for far too long."
Glancing at his father on the throne, Tien thought for a brief moment that his father was going to suggest that Bulma be married. The very thought frightened him - for his sisters brash actions would more than likely get the best of her, and if she were to be proven right in this case he would never hear the end of it.
"Her sharp tongue often gets the best of her," another swig of the plum liquid, "See to it that Avacadria gives her a few lessons on common courtesy."
Tien blinked. His father had sounded like he was going to punish his sister greatly, and yet, her only punishment would be to receive a few princess lessons from her maidservant who happened to be a queen from a planet her father had destroyed years ago.
"Also," a devious smile appeared on the emperors lips, "You may want to inform her that I will have her tech lab temporarily off limits."
Tien nodded obediently. That was more the suiting punishment that he had expected.
However, he wasn't sure it was deserving, nor was he anticipating being the barer of the news to his younger sister.
"It is also time for you to begin your search for a bride."
Nodding courtly the prince allowed his father to continue, "See to it that it does not take long, because your wedding will be followed shortly by your sisters."
A smirk grazed Freeza's lips, "And I have already found a suitable man for her."
Waving his son off as if he were just another visitor to the throne, Freeza turned back to his glass and drank from it, his plans of the coming ascension and weddings of his children filling his thoughts.
When her brother entered her personal lab for the second time that hour, she glanced up at him with an annoyed expression.
"What?" She snapped, her attention turning back to the pile of blueprints spread across her desk.
"Father is taking away your lab."
He didn't wait to brace himself for the blow, but he did flinch as his sister's eyes snapped open in realization and turned to the unfortunate messenger.
Then she frowned, "And why did he send you to tell me this?"
A much better reaction than he was expecting.
"He's a busy man, you know this sister."
Her only response was a sharp roll of cerulean eyes.
"He … also wants me to find a bride so," he paused momentarily as she looked at him expectantly, "So you can be wed."
Eye brows knitted together, furrowing a very unladylike crease in her pallid brow, "Son of a bitch."
"Bulma," he scowled, "That is exactly why he is doing this. You are … so …"
Another glance and the aqua haired teen stood up to face her brother, "Any lucky ladies in mind?"
Tien wasn't taken back by her sudden change of mood. She was often unpredictable. If her father was planning on a union between her and Zarbon, then he was definitely putting the poor man in a place where he would be constantly on his toes.
"No." His lips almost dipped into a frown, "No lucky ladies lined up."
She kissed him softly on the cheek, having to stand on her toes as she did so, "Chin up Tien, you're a nice, handsome prince; the girls will be falling all over you when they find out you're looking for a bride."
He laughed at his sister. She truly was a gem.
"Talk to Avacadria, would you?"
Confusion filled her eyes. He clarified, "Father wants you to be on your best behavior - she will be able to give you a few pointers on -"
She cut him off with a short laugh and nodded, "Okay, okay Tien, I get it. Thank you so much for trying to help me out, but I am fully capable of acting properly on my own."
With a short smile in his sisters direction, Tien turned and exited the soon to be abandoned lab. His thoughts wandering to his upcoming search for a proper princess.
Bulma, however, allowed a coy smile to cross her features as thoughts of escape occupied her mind. She wouldn't be making it to next months games because, the smile widened, she was going to be proving to her father and everyone that she could be much more than just another pretty face to hang off the arm of some very undeserving dick.
"I just don't understand Avacadria," the princess wined, "You are a beautiful woman - how can you stand being oppressed here?"
The dark haired woman's face remained emotionless, as always, as she looked intently at the young woman, "Bulma, my dear, you are the only person who keeps me sane in this palace. However, I am not a happy woman and I fear I will never be able to be a happy woman again.
Your father had my planet destroyed, my people annihilated, my son kidnapped, and thought that it would be only appropriate if I were to suffer further than that of the death of my husband and people. Instead, I was forced to stand by and watch the universe I was destined to rule over collapse in his callous hands."
The cerulean eyed princess merely blinked. Though her maidservant was probably her closest companion, she had never heard her utter more than two strings of sentences jointly. And never, ever had her words held any sort of emotion or depth.
"Avacadria … I'm so sorry," Bulma's eyes slid shut. How could she empathize with this woman? She hadn't had her family, planet, people, and title stripped away from her in a single instant … she couldn't even fathom the definition of the word suffering. Her words were empty and she knew that they would be received as so.
She tried something entirely different instead, "You don't deserve this."
The silent womanly merely nodded.
"I can't stay here any longer." The princess' words surprised even herself,
The dark haired woman looked upon her with a confused glance and Bulma sighed, "My father is cruel and thinks only of himself. I will be damned if I don't prove myself to him."
A sinister smile made the former queen frown, "Bulma … you are insane dear."
She laughed in response.
"I'm serious Avacadria! When you were queen did you have to play the brainless fool? Hang onto your husbands arm and pretend you were nothing more than another lavish jewel for him to bestow?"
The queens eyes snapped, "No. We Sayains do not take pride in ignorance. It is another weakness, and we were a people based solely on strength."
"It's a pity that such an honorable race was destroyed."
"Taken down without a fight, you mean." The woman frowned, "We were taken by surprise - a lowly blow from your father." She paused, knowing that speaking in such a way about the emperor in front of his only daughter was punishable by death, but continued. "My Sayain pride has long since died, however. If it were still in tact I would snap your neck for offering pity to a race that has no shame nor frailty."
Bulma smiled. This was why she liked to be in her maidservant's company. She didn't hold back like the others did. She wasn't afraid of speaking lowly about her father in her presence and didn't bite her tongue when Bulma crossed these invisible, verbal boundaries.
"The Sayains would have put up a good fight no doubt," Bulma smiled, "And I will not stand by and watch as my father destroys another defenseless race for fear that they may one day come to over power him."
The woman sighed, "Such words of treason from such a sheltered princess."
She snorted in response, "Sheltered? Perhaps. But not for long."
"Oh really my dear? And what is a pampered, frail beauty going to do? Runaway."
Her lips pulled back into a smirk.
Avacadria smiled inwardly, she would have made a fine Sayain.
"No." Bulma continued to smirk, "Not run. I'm simply going to escape. Prove myself to everyone that I more than just a pristine flower. My father will not marry me off to be some bastard's trophy wife. I am much, much more than that."
A fine Sayain indeed.
"I will not utter a word, Princess."
She was normally a brash person, but tonight diction such as this was an understatement.
Her hair, normally lightly curled at the tips and flowing down to her midback, was currently tied back in a high pony tail. Her body, normally clad in loose dresses or stylish training garbs, was now being clung to by a pair of low caste spandex sparing clothes. It was rather plain and she felt strange something that lacked any sort of ornate material.
Scrubbing off her make up, she pulled away to look at herself in the mirror.
Yes - she looked noting like the pamper princess she had been raised to be.
With a satisfied smile, she slipped into the shadows. The extensive training she had been taught over the years helped her to steady her balance and remain silent as she snuck outside of the palace walls. Realization dawned on her that she had never been outside of these gates unoccupied before.
A sudden wave of fear swept over her, but she steadied herself. She had made it this far - and there was no turning back. She had to be brave. This was all temporary and would be worth it in the end.
Just outside of the palace walls there was a building that she had often passed with much curiosity. It was stark and plain. She had questioned her father about it on several occasions.
That was where you could sign up to join her father's army.
The Universal Army - one that required strength but did not need proof of it. If you were ignorant enough to sign up unqualified, your life would be ended quickly in the heat of battle and nothing was lost at the army expense. It was your loss alone.
With a serious expression planted on her features, she inhaled a burst of air, as if readying herself, and casually entered the small compound.
Behind the desk sat a lone creature. He was definitely not humanoid and was definitely not a species who would be allowed to step food inside the palace walls.
He smiled wickedly at her, "We do not hire concubines for our missions dear."
"I'm a mechanic." Her voice didn't waver like she had expected it to. Instead, it resounded strangely confident. He cast her a short look and then down at the belt tied loosely around her waste with capsules filled with what he could only assume were tools.
A short nod was all he gave her as he shuffled around his desk for papers, "Ah. Mechanics are in short supply. You are in luck my dear."
She remained silent until her questioned her, "Name?"
She had spoken again with such poise that the creature felt no need to glace up to quirk an eyebrow at using the princesses name.
Unless … he didn't recognize her name. She knew it wasn't well known.
Bulma, however, had not opted to use an alias. She hadn't decided on this plot to sneak away but to prove something. She wanted this to get back to her father if all possible.
"Take a seat," He stood up, "I will be right with you."
The creature left her alone and swiftly made his way into a back room. She could hear muffled voices from inside the room and decided against taking a seat in any of the chairs available. They were grimy and she wrinkled her nose at the polluted air filling the room.
She hated this place.
Breaking his relaxing silence, his private messenger threw open the large double doors and broke the peace with his heavy breathing, "Freeza, sir."
Narrowing his eyes at the bowing man before him the powerful creature side, "What is it?"
"News, sir." A few long gasping breaths, "From one of the purging offices. He says that it is quite urgent."
A short roll of beadlike eyes and wave of the hand, "Go now."
The messenger scurried off as quickly as he had entered and Freeza lifted his eyes to meet a large screen, flipping it on he was met with a holographic image of a disgusting looking yellow-green alien.
"Tompijia, this had better be important."
The creature frowned, "I assure you that it is sir."
Looking at him expectantly Freeza growled coldly, "I haven't got all day!"
"Emperor, sir, there is a woman here. Beautiful beyond reason but dressed like a low class warrior. She has given me the name Bulma and … I thought I would bring it to your attention."
Unexpected by the officer, Freezas let out a hallow chuckle, "Fearless brat."
"I do believe that it is her, sir."
Another chuckle, "And I have no reason to doubt this assertion. She's a feisty little wench, that one, but I assure you she is only doing this to defy me."
"I can send her back to you, or, you may have someone sent to collect her, sir."
"No, no." Freeza knew his daughter better than that. She would only come back kicking and screaming, "Let's play along with her little stunt. She believes life here to be so unbearable - let's just show her how hard life can really be."
The man gaped at his emperor as the cold man only continue, "Who do we have on station currently?"
"There is a Makyo fleet in need of a mechanic," The man looked over some more papers, clearly baffled by his rulers request, "The weaklings from Nito, a small group of Saiyans, and a slightly larger group from the newly acquired planet Shikk are all also in need of a mechanic."
"See to it that she is placed with the Saiyans and give them the Kanassa mission." Freeza smiled, "She will be begging for her pampered life after just a few days with the sole company of those bastards in the void of space."
With a short stoop the hologram of the creature bowed respectfully and Freeza shut off the connection with another laugh.
Back at the cramped purging office, the scaly creature returned to woman who was still standing impatiently in the empty entrance and smiled, "You have been assigned to the Sayain fleet."
Bulma's eyes widened slightly. She thought that Avacadria had said that they had suffered mass genocide?
"Also," he handed her a folder citing the specifics of the Kanassa termination, "give this to them."
She took the folder silently, and listened to his brief directions to the ship that was in need of some repair. With a short nod Bulma exited the grungy office and quickened her pace until she was standing in front of a high-tech ship.
A smile grazed her features and she couldn't help but allow the excited anticipation in the pit of her stomach get the best of her.