DISCLAIMER: I don't own Dragonball-Z, not really sure who does either. It'd be a shame if people I don't know sued me. J v

THE KILL

By Jacob M. Bosch

CHAPTER 1: Meant to be

The Prince of all Saiyans was scrutinizing the Namek boy trying to figure out how the brat had been able to heal the half breed and the Earthling, when he suddenly felt Freezer's ki disappear.

"Huh? W-where did he go?" Vegita turned away from the two brats and stared the direction where the bald human led "Lord" Freezer in an effort to save Kakarotto's brat.

Could Freezer have learned how to suppress his ki? Vegita wondered, his fear of the ruthless tyrant increasing a thousand fold. Vegita leaped into the air and extended his senses, hunting for the slightest hint of Freezer's power in the distance. But there was nothing, nothing except chrome-dome's measly ki.

"What's going on?"

Vegita strained his new senses even farther and still felt nothing from Freezer. Even if he's left Namek's atmosphere, I know I'd still feel him if he were in space! I'm certain of…

Then Vegita started as an impossible thought sprang forth.

"No… No! I am a fool for even entertaining such nonsense!" Vegita hissed to himself and kept searching for Freezer's ki.

"Thanks Dende," Gohan told Dende after the younger boy healed him.

Dende gave a small half bow, "You are welcome--" Dende stopped when he felt Freezer's ki instantly vanish from his perception. Gohan also felt its disappearance. Both boys faced one another in confusion.

"Did you feel Freezer's fade away, too?" Gohan asked.

"Yes. Does that mean he-he's dead?"

Gohan put his hand on the younger boy's shoulder, "I don't know."

Gohan doubted it; he couldn't imagine anything killing Freezer. Then he remembered that Mr. Piccolo was on Namek. Could he have beaten Freezer? But where is his ki? Gohan looked up at the hovering form of Vegita; maybe he could sense what was going on. Despite Dende's healing, Gohan wasn't quite able to control his own powers totally.

"Wait here Dende," Gohan told the Namek boy. He didn't want to expose the boy to Vegita any more then was necessary, remembering Dende's earlier encounter with the Saiyan. Gohan lifted up into the sky and flew over to the Saiyan Prince.

Vegita ignored Gohan when the boy levitated up beside him. The Prince's teeth were clenched and sweat drenched his wide, prominent forehead as he extended his senses beyond their limits.

"Vegita?"

"Shut up." Was that something? Yes. Vegita suddenly felt an enormous ki fast approaching their location. But it wasn't big enough to belong to Freezer and obviously didn't belong to the bald Earthling. Then who could it be?

"Mr. Piccolo!" Gohan cried out, immediately recognizing the new ki.

"Of course, the Namek from Earth."

"He must have killed Freezer!"

Vegita grunted noncommittally. He refused to believe that a Namek could succeed where a Saiyan failed. But what other explanation was there? Freezer's ki was gone and the Namek's signature was the only big ki reading out there.

If the Namek has killed Freezer then that means I'm free! I can finally take my rightful place as the ruler of this universe. All I'll need is time and I shall surpass the Namek and Kakarotto, then there will be no one who can oppose me.

My chest still hurts. Krillin thought, but knew it was just his imagination. Dende had healed him fully. There wasn't even a scar to mar where Freezer had impaled him. Only the hole in the Saiyan-Jin armor Vegeta had given him earlier told the tale.

Stop being stupid, Krillin! You've got bigger problems then ghost pains.

Krillin risked a glance backward as he sped through the aqua green sky of Namek. There he was. Freezer. And he was gaining on Krillin effortlessly. The overlord wasn't even using a power aura boost. Krillin gritted his teeth to stifle the scream filling his throat like barely suppressed vomit, and faced forward again. Putting a little more effort into his Bu Kuu Jutsu. He had to buy Dende more time so that the young Namek could heal Gohan's injuries. That meant keeping Freezer's lethal attentions on himself.

"I can't keep up this pace though," Krillin said through his teeth. "Besides, I know he's just playing with me, he could overtake me anytime, and he will when he gets tired of this game."

Krillin spotted a large stone formation a hundred meters ahead, roughly the size and shape of the North Capital sports coliseum. It was split into several triangular sections, like a carelessly cut cake, and its crevices appeared very deep. Krillin quickly altered course and sped towards the segmented rock.

I hope Freezer's still in the mood to toy with me.

Krillin flew in a downward arch into the formation.

That little Fuck is going to pay for cutting off my tail! I'm going to slowly eviscerate him and watch his guts spill onto the ground! And I'll make his friends look on as I do, oh yes!

Freezer routinely thought these kinds of thoughts when it came to the lesser beings, but he never before felt them as strongly as when he chased after the Earthling in front of him. Of course no one had ever damaged him like the Earthling had. The Saiyan boy surprised him with a few well-placed blows, but ultimately they were nothing Freezer could not absorb. But the bald Earthling actually managed to slice off a piece of his anatomy! And the human wasn't nearly as powerful as that obtuse Saiyan, Vegita, or that oddly advanced boy. Unacceptable!

The human must die before all the others, and quite painfully. But first I will let his terror grow until there is nothing left within him but hopelessness. The Earthling will learn, as countless billions before him learned, no one dare opposes Freezer, much less damage and humiliate him!

Freezer chuckled when he saw the human suddenly swerve and fly toward a small range of fractured rocks. Certainly the little shit doesn't think he can lose me in there?

The Earthling entered the formation. His aura trailing after him then faded away. Freezer halted in mid air several hundred feet above the rocks and crossed his arms over his chest.

Then he vanished.

Krillin didn't know what to expect. It all depended on Freezer's mood. Krillin was well aware of the fact that the iron-fisted, so-called ruler of the universe could easily atomize the formation and Krillin with it. But Krillin also knew the maniac wanted to make him quake with fear.

When death didn't come from above, Krillin had his answer: the game was still on. Krillin chose one of the paths in the formation and flew full tilt, hoping he was deep enough into the natural structure that Freezer couldn't see which way he was going. If he was lucky—luckier—he might come out on the side where Freezer wasn't.

For a brief moment, joy filled Krillin as he approached the light of open air and Freezer was no where in sight. Krillin's optimism evaporated when only inches away from freedom, a black, white and pink form materialized in front of him. Krillin halted in mid air, his eyes wide with absolute horror as Freezer hovered before him. The despot's massively muscled had his arms crossed over his chest, the severed remainder of his tail whipping lazily from side to side. As Freezer appraised Krillin he wore a knowing, twisted smirk.

"Wow, you're really fast for a corpse," Freezer said.

Krillin flew-walked backward in mid air to get away from the monster before him. He turned about, allowed his ki aura to flare and flew in the opposite direction. Not caring if Freezer saw him retreat into the dark. But no matter what path he took, Freezer was always there, waiting for him. Again and again, no matter how fast Krillin flew from one side of the formation to the other.

"Kami, he's too fast!" Krillin gasped after finally giving up any hope of escape, floating breathlessly in the center of the rocks.

Dende's gotta' be finished healing Gohan by now, or Kami, I hope so! Because I get the feeling Freezer's not going to let me run for much longer. I have to get back to the others, or I'm so much dead meat!

"Oh, you've finally stopped scurrying, have you?" Krillin heard Freezer call out from above.

Krillin looked up at the all-powerful Freezer and knew it was over. Freezer was through playing. The diminutive monk took a deep breath and slowly rose higher into the sky and out of the formation until he was level with Freezer, no more then fifty feet away from the Changeling.

"You should be quite proud of yourself Earthling. It is not everyday filth such as yourself suffers death at my hands, face to face." Freezer declared, his deep baritone voice sounded almost wistful. "I cannot even remember the last time I felt the desire to do so."

Krillin was too scared to tremble at the monster's words of promised destruction. What was the point? The fear reaction was just nature's way of telling you to flee or fight, to survive somehow. But Krillin didn't have any of those choices. Dead things don't have choices.

Again there was an ache in his chest. The memory of Freezer's horn penetrating him seemed vivid and alive in the realm of his own imagination. Krillin brought his right hand up to the imaginary wound, his gloved fingers touching the exposed skin through the hole in his armor.

How did Freezer miss his heart?

"Time to die, insect!" Freezer shouted and flew at Krillin.

In that instant several thoughts went through Krillin's mind: Freezer had deliberately avoided his heart. At the time and for some time afterwards, Krillin had believed himself fortunate that Freezer failed to hit his more vital organs with his horns. But that hadn't been the case Krillin now realized. Freezer's sole reason for missing had been to torture Krillin. To see his blood gush as that bull-like horn bucked and raped the wound it'd made in Krillin's chest…

That… animal!

"Taiyoken!" Krillin yelled out at the top of his voice after bringing his fingertips up to either side of his forehead. His cry followed by a blinding explosion of ki emanating from his eyes, and caught the charging Freezer in its glare.

Fury creased Krillin's usually easy-going face as he flew over to Freezer. His fists straining the fabric of his morphic gloves because they were clutched so tightly. Krillin wasn't afraid anymore. How could anyone be afraid of this… thing… this beast that was beneath even contempt?

Krillin raised his left hand over his head. Splitting his concentration between seeing through the waning Taiyoken flare and the ki he was gathering in his left arm.

"Kienzan." He whispered. Then a spinning disc of energy formed two inches above his palm. At the same time his first attack was losing its effect on Freezer. And the tyrant was slowly regaining his sight… but it was too late.

Krillin threw the Kienzan at Freezer's neck and cleanly decapitated the Changeling.

"Urk!" Freezer's head gagged as the rest of his body fell to the ground below. A thin trickle of purplish-red blood spurting from the ruins of his segmented neck.

"But how?" Were Freezer's last words before his eyes rolled back and his head, which somehow had remained aloft, finally followed the downward spiral his body had taken. Krillin looked on with a grim expression. Somewhere in the back round of his awareness, he felt his Kienzan dissolve into nothingness.

He was a killer now. Like Freezer. Like Vegita, or even Piccolo. He'd never killed anyone before, not even in self-defense.

What's worse, I think I enjoyed it.

Kita no Kaiou was nearly catatonic after the death of Freezer.

Chou-zu, Tenshinhan, and Yamucha were sparring when their mysterious benefactor collapsed. The warriors having decided to release the tension they'd been feeling ever since Piccolo was wished back by continuing their special training. Leaving Kaiou alone to monitor the situation on Namek. It was the guardian's scream that alerted them to his distress.

"Kiaou-sama, Kaiou-sama!" Chou-zu shook the prone form of the rotund entity.

"Shit, what happened to him?" Yamucha asked on his knees then pressed the side of his face to Kaiou's chest. Searching for a heartbeat, even though he was far from certain where Kiaou's heart was.

"He's still alive… I think," Tenshinhan said.

Yamucha raised his head from Kiaou's chest, "How do you know that? I can't hear his heart and I can't feel him breathing either?"

Tenshinhan's three eyes narrowed but not with anger, but in concentration as he stared intently at Kiaou.

"I can sense his thoughts, they're strange and foreign, but they are there."

Yamucha looked at Tenshinhan and almost apologized for forgetting about his friend's telepathic abilities, but Chou-zu's alert stopped him.

"Look, he's waking up!"

Kiaou stirred slowly to consciousness. His antenna quivering as he awakened. Yamucha and Tenshinhan each grabbed one of Kaiou's arms and helped their current sensei to his feet. Chou-zu hovered several feet off the ground in front of Kaiou, his cherubic face furrowed with concern.

"Kiaou-sama are you all right?" The small telepath asked.

Kiaou gave no response. His facial features utterly neutral and the dark glasses he had on hid whatever thoughts or emotions might have been reveled through his eyes. The three warriors exchanged glances. Each disturbed by the sudden subdued attitude from Kiaou. The only explanation for it was the death of one or more of their friends on Namek.

Tenshinhan was the first to ask the question they all dreaded an answer to.

"Did someone die on Namek?"

"Yes, Tenshinhan," Kiaou replied, his usually pleasant alto voice came out very hollow.

Yamucha cursed under his breath, "Who was it?"

"Freezer. Freezer has died."

"Piccolo did it!" Chou-zu let out a high pitched whoop and laughed happily for a few moments before he realized that no one else had joined in on his elation.

"I don't understand, Kaiou-san. You don't sound too happy about Freezer dying. Isn't that want you—we—wanted?" Tenshinhan asked. His face now an exact reflection of Kiaou's.

Tenshinhan was actually receiving impressions from Kiaou. Something he hadn't been able to do before. Kaiou's had been like brick wall when Tenshinhan first tried to read him. It was like the Guardian wasn't even there. Now thoughts were radiating from Kaiou in waves.

And the impressions were terribly foreboding.

"Wait a minute," Yamucha began, "Did Piccolo die fighting Freezer?"

"Piccolo never fought Freezer, Yamucha." Kiaou stated flatly.

"Then who? Gokou, Vegita?" Yamucha asked his voice raising with frustration at Kaiou's remoteness.

"Calm down, Yamucha," Tenshinhan told his friend.

"One of our friends could be dead! Hell, all of them might be! I'm not going to calm down until he tells us what's gone wrong!"

Kaiou sighed and finally looked to each of his students, "Krillin killed Freezer."

The silence that blanketed Kaiou's planet couldn't have been cut with even the sharpest blade. None of the Earthlings quite believed what Kaiou told them. Though the trio knew the Guardian hadn't any reason to lie to them. But the possibility of Krillin defeating Freezer, the weakest of their number, seemed plainly impossible.

He'd been staring down at the body for a long time before he decided he had to destroy it.

The evidence of the murder made him sick to his stomach. Krillin couldn't stand the sensation. And he didn't know why.

Freezer had wantonly annihilated countless beings and had fully intended on killing Krillin and his friends. So why did Krillin feel guilt eating at his spirit? Shouldn't he thrill at the accomplishment of ending Freezer's malevolent and bloodthirsty existence?

Yes, I did thrill, didn't I? The sight of his head separating from his body made me want to laugh. Even now I wish Freezer could have suffered more… bled more. I wanted him to endure the agony of a lingering death, not the relatively quick demise I gave him. And that's what's wrong. The thrill of killing him is like a disease spreading through me…

Corrupting me.

Krillin brought the heels of his hands together then pulled them behind his right hip.

"Ka… me… Ha…me…"

The last "Ha" wouldn't come. It stuck in his belly and bloated him. As the ki welling up between his cupped hands was held back by doubt. Krillin's eyes never left the body.

Krillin brought his hands apart and let the ki dissipate. The aborted energy glittering like fireflies from between his fingers.

No.

I can live with this. He deserved to die. He needed to die.

Krillin forced his gaze away from the body and stared straight ahead. Krillin's ki aura engulfed his armored form as he launched himself in the direction of Gohan and the others.

Yes. Gohan, Dende, Gokou, and Piccolo… they're what mattered. Freezer dying made them all safe. I have to focus on that.

Piccolo arrived on the battlefield in a rush of wind and power. The imposing Namek had been following the large ki of Freezer, but when tyrant's energy signature disappeared, Piccolo focused on the next largest ki, which belonged to Vegita. Gohan and the Saiyan were hovering high above the blasted ground, while a young Namek child stood below them.

Dende! Nail exclaimed inside Piccolo, causing the former demon to grimace as he involuntarily experienced Nail's relief at seeing the boy.

Stop it! That's annoying! I didn't fuse with you so that I could feel your inane emotions! Piccolo rebuked the other.

I'm sorry. It's just that I am so happy to see him alive.

Piccolo made a guttural sound and let his gaze fall onto Gohan, and for a moment sympathized with his other aspect.

Whatever, just don't do that in the heat of battle, understand? Mentally, Nail gave the equivalent to a nod. Good.

His bone white cape whipping in the wind, Piccolo cautiously moved over to Gohan and Vegita. The Namek focused on the Saiyan. Not seeing the warrior as an ally, but as the dangerous enemy he was. He understood Vegita too well to trust the Saiyan's motives, especially now that Vegita had destroyed Freezer. Whatever truce there had been between Vegita and the others was most likely void.

"Gohan… Vegita." Piccolo hailed the flying pair, albeit he greeted the former more warmly then the latter.

"Hey, Mr. Piccolo!" Gohan returned the greeting, staring up at his mentor with nothing less the pure admiration.

Vegita crossed his arms over his chest and smirked.

The Namek and the Saiyan sized each other up, both warriors trying to get a sense of the power they both knew the other was hiding. This went mostly unnoticed by young Gohan.

"You beat Freezer, Mr. Piccolo! I knew you could do it!"

Piccolo was so surprised by Gohan's declaration that he actually broke eye contact with Vegita for a moment to look at his former pupil.

"What are you talking about? I haven't seen Freezer since I arrived on Namek!" Piccolo said although it wasn't quite true. He had encountered Freezer, after a fashion, through Nail. "I thought Vegita defeated--"

Vegita's smirk faded, replaced briefly with a scowl, then his eyes went wide in realization.

"No fucking way!"

As Krillin came upon the group he could hear Vegita screaming, a sound that should have immediately filled him with dread. When Vegita screamed, it usually meant someone was about to get blasted. But Krillin could only manage a weary sigh.

Emotional responses seemed beyond Krillin for the moment.

Krillin watched as Vegita's ki started to burn the sky. The Saiyan's tantrum masked the monk's own ki like the sun outshining a small flashlight. So Vegita, Piccolo, Gohan, and Dende had yet to notice Krillin's arrival.

"That weakling couldn't have! I refuse to believe it!"

Gohan took refuge behind Piccolo, who squinted at the blinding light of Vegita's aura produced, but easily maintained his position in the sky.

"Gohan, what is this lunatic prattling on about?" Piccolo asked.

"I think he's talking about Krillin," Gohan answered after reaching the same conclusion as Vegita. Gohan recounted to Piccolo how Krillin stopped Freezer from killing him, and lead the tyrant away so Dende could heal his injuries.

"H-hey guys," Krillin hailed, forcing a smile across his face as he drifted over to his friends and Vegita.

The Saiyan growled when he saw the Earthling and in a blink of an eye was hovering in front of the monk. Vegita grabbed Krillin by the neck and began crushing the human's throat in his vise-like grip.

"Tell me what happened out there you flea! Tell me right now!"

Instinctively, Krillin's hands tried to pry Vegita's right hand from about his throat. The suddenness of the attack hadn't allowed Krillin to draw in any air before his windpipe closed off, and Krillin found himself quickly suffocating. The circulation of blood to and from his head had also ceased, turning his bald cranium and face a deep shade of purple.

"Speak up!" Vegita screamed making a fist with his other hand and cocked his arm back for a blow.

Choking and desperate for oxygen, Krillin's felt his strength sapping away rapidly, his strength and his life. Krillin's vision fading to dark and his arms dangled weakly at his sides. Suddenly, Piccolo was behind Vegita.

The Namek took a hold of the Saiyan's wrist and squeezed. Causing Vegita to grunt in pain.

"Get your fucking hands off me, Namek!"

Vegita threw Krillin aside, the monk's near unconscious body falling as he gasped for the sweet, cool air of Namek. Gohan was the only reason the monk didn't crash straight to the ground.

Piccolo held Vegita's wrist, staring impassively at the infuriated Saiyan. Vegita had powered up so that Piccolo's hold wasn't hurting him anymore.

"I said get your hands…" Vegita threw a punch which Piccolo caught in his other hand, "off of me!" Vegita thrusted his head forward and struck Piccolo in the forehead, nearly knocking Piccolo's white and purple turban off.

Piccolo flinched and his grip lessened, allowing Vegita to escape.

"You don't want to fight me Vegita, you will lose." Piccolo told the smaller man, swiftly recovering from Vegita's head-butt.

"Oh, really? You think because that Earthling somehow gets lucky and ends Freezer that miracles can happen? Forget it! I'll pound you into the fucking ground then I'm going to beat the truth out of that little bastard!"

Piccolo smiled. It was not a nice smile, "You know I've been looking forward to this, Vegita. I've been wondering what it'd be like to finally send a Saiyan straight to Hell," Piccolo removed both his turban and his cape, "And since Son is no longer an option, you will have to do."

Vegita threw his head back and laughed as he began fully power up, "This ought to be good! All right then, "Mr. Piccolo", come get some!"

Krillin you must stop them.

Krillin groaned as the familiar tingle of healing life force energy spread throughout his body. Krillin felt the soreness in his throat began to diminish gradually, and the cracked bones in his neck start to nit. Krillin opened his eyes and the dark outline of Dende slowly came into focus. The boy was holding his hands over Krillin's chest. A bright, yet soft yellow light flowed from Dende's palms and surrounded Krillin's entire body.

You must stop them.

Kaiou's voice reiterated in Krillin's mind.

Stop who?

Piccolo and Vegita—if you don't, Vegita will die.

I'm sorry Kaiou-sama, but so what? This is the second time that maniac's tried to kill me. I won't help spare his life again.

Kaiou's telepathic voice paused. You spared his life once before.

Because Gokou--

No, Krillin, you allowed Vegita to live because you are not a murderer.

You don't know what I am.

Again Kaiou paused. Krillin, do you know why I asked Gokou to tell you to let Vegita live?

No, Kaiou-sama. Krillin wondered if the God of the Northern Galaxy could hear the growing irritation in his mental voice.

Because if Vegita hadn't survived, Freezer's men would have prevented you from attaining the Namek dragonballs and killed you all.

Are you telling me Vegita is going to help us in the future?

Kaiou did not respond.

Kaiou-sama?

Trust my judgment in this Krillin. Like Gokou trusted my judgment on Earth.

Gokou trusts everyone, Kaiou-sama. That's not a very convincing argument.

Krillin sighed when Kaiou gave no further reply.

How am I supposed to stop them? The monk asked.

Krillin could almost hear the relief in Kaiou's mental voice. You'll just have to stop Piccolo. Soon he'll overwhelm Vegita and--

Krillin interrupted. Go in for the kill…I understand Kaiou-sama.

The battle moved to the ground as the two warriors fought hand to hand. Vegita furiously struck out at the Namek, finding that Piccolo was evading or fending off his blows with ease. The Saiyan was beginning to suspect just how much stronger his opponent had gotten since Nappa fought him on Earth.

Vegita knew he had to change tactics. He began pulling his punches and kicks, letting his ki levels drop a little at a time. Piccolo immediately took the bait and went on the offensive.

Piccolo brought his right knee up quick and hard, forcing Vegita to use both hands to keep the Namek's kneecap from connecting with his stomach. Piccolo threw a left punch hitting Vegita's jaw then followed up with a blow with his right elbow to the Saiyan's temple. Vegita was able to roll with the first punch, but saw stars from the elbow. Dazed, but still in control, Vegita let the elbow shot's impact carry him away from Piccolo, augmenting the inertia with his own ki.

Vegita skidded across the ground. His arms and legs flailing until he came to a rest flat on his stomach. But the Prince was not all that badly hurt, though he added to the illusion that he was with a few pain-filled groans.

Blood was seeping into his mouth from a deep, meaty gash his teeth had sliced into the inside of his cheek. Pushing himself onto his hands and knees, Vegita spat the salty fluid to the ground just as Piccolo materialized in front of him. The Namek brought his elbow down on the back of Vegita's skull, knocking the Saiyan's face into the damp spot his spit and blood made in the dirt. Vegita cried out as he went flying after the Namek's foot dug through the ground and struck Vegita squarely in the face. Vegita felt his nose break.

Vegita both sensed and heard Piccolo's ki aura flare as the Namek launched himself on an intercept course with Vegita airborne figure. The Prince had to use his other senses because his eyelids were glued shut with the dirt, tears, and blood that had splattered and congealed across his face. The Saiyan worked through the agony stabbing him in the face and gathered his energy.

Vegita waited until he sensed that the Namek close enough to his position before he let his power spike and stopped himself from tumbling through the air.

"Gallic Gun!"

He was probably expecting an attack, which means… Vegita cut off his energy wave and twisted around to fire the beam just as Piccolo materialized behind him. Got him!

"Nice try."

Shit!

Krillin raised slowly, but steadily to his feet, gently waving off Dende and Gohan's efforts to aid him.

"Thanks Dende," Krillin told the boy. "That's another one I owe ya."

Dende bowed and Krillin smiled. Then Krillin turned to Gohan who was watching the battle between Piccolo and Vegita in awe. Krillin's smile was soon replaced with a severe frown when he followed Gohan's gaze and saw that Piccolo was already close to defeating the arrogant Saiyan prince. Even worse, Krillin could see the insane grin on the green man's face as he elbowed Vegita's head face first into the ground. The hard packed soil breaking apart on impact.

Stop Piccolo. Yeah, right! Under ordinary circumstances I'd be just as afraid of Piccolo as I am of Vegita.

Krillin grimaced when he saw Piccolo kick Vegita in the face, causing blood to spray from the prince's nose. The kick sent Vegita skyward and then Piccolo shot after the Saiyan like a bullet. An instant before the Namek could to continue his assault, the Saiyan abruptly halted in mid air and held his arms out in front of him bringing his hands, palms out, together and shouted 'Gallic Gun!'

Gohan started to shout out a warning to his sensei when the Namek used Zanzoken to blink out of the path of Vegita's attack, and in that same instance faster then Krillin could follow, the Saiyan turned and redirected his Gallic Gun behind him. Both Krillin and Gohan gasped when the beam of energy appeared to hit Piccolo. Then Piccolo was behind Vegita again.

"All right, Mr. Piccolo!" exclaimed Gohan.

Krillin grinned along with the boy before he realized Vegita was only a few seconds away from death. Something he was supposed to prevent. Krillin took a few running steps and then propelled himself toward Piccolo and Vegita.

"Krillin, where are you going?" Gohan called after him.

"To get killed most likely." Krillin answered.

Vegita gritted his teeth and refused to cry out in pain as Piccolo grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked him backward. The Namek's sharp nails cut into Vegita's scalp, and more blood joined the rivers already flowing from his nose and mouth. Vegita felt a huge amount of power concentrating in Piccolo milliseconds later.

"So this is what it's like. Disappointing," Piccolo said and released the energy from his hand.

Piccolo's beam missed Vegita entirely, but grazed Krillin's back.

The energy instantly scouring away the section of the armor it made contact with. But both Krillin and Vegita cried out. Krillin howled because Piccolo's beam left serious burns on his back, and Vegita did so because strands of his hair had been ripped out when the human tackled him out of the Namek's grip.

Krillin carried the weakened Saiyan over to Gohan and Dende, although not exactly. Just close enough that he hoped Piccolo might consider not sending a devil beam his way. Krillin looked over to the two boys to make sure they didn't come near him and Vegita. He wasn't surprised to see that neither of the boys looked even remotely interested in approaching.

Krillin set the prince down as they landed. Vegita managed to stay on his feet, however precariously, unaided. The Saiyan, face badly bruised and smeared with plasma, turned to the small Earthling. One dark eye glaring with emotions Krillin didn't recognize. Krillin backed away from the prince.

There was a whooshing sound behind him. "What the fuck are you doing, Krillin!" Piccolo bellowed.

Krillin quickly turned to face a very angry Piccolo. "Uh, well, Kaiou…" Krillin started to explain but the Northern Guardian's voice stopped him.

Krillin do not tell Piccolo what I've told you! Kaiou's ordered.

He'll kill me if I don't give a good reason…

Think of something to placate Piccolo, but you cannot let him become aware of what I have imparted to you.

But why--?

"Krillin, I swear I will dismember you if you do not explain your actions this instant." Piccolo declared in the most frightening way possible: in a chillingly calm, even voice.

Struggling to stay upright, Vegita stared down at the short Earthling whose badly burned back was to him, wondering the same thing.

"H-he saved Gohan from Freezer," Krillin said.

The Namek took and few steps toward the human and Vegita could see the Earthling fight the reflex to give ground before the seven foot tall Namek.

"To hedge his bets no doubt!"

"It doesn't matter why he did it, Piccolo. The fact is he did save Gohan and me from Freezer and his people. So he's even a little responsible for bringing you back."

If it wouldn't have caused him so much pain, Vegita might have laughed. Clearly, the bald man was overstating Vegita's involvement in the wish that had returned life to the Namek. The Earthling was purposely omitting the part when the Saiyan prince swore he'd kill Kakarotto's brat and the Earthling after the dragonballs became useless.

Why was this Earthling protecting him?

"His mistake," Piccolo said and started to go around Krillin. Vegita took a step back and summoned up his remaining power. But Krillin blocked Piccolo's path. Vegita wasn't sure who was more surprised, him or the Namek.

"Vegita really isn't a threat to us anymore, Piccolo, and Freezer's dead… we won. Vegita can go his way and we can go ours. It's over."

Piccolo's gaze bore into the human.

His expression alternating between anger at the Earthling's audacity for interfering, and a grudging respect at his bravery.

"Very well," The Namek finally replied, then placed his glare on Vegita. "I suggest you take this opportunity to get the hell off this planet. Now."

"Fuck you," Vegita snarled his ki aura flaming to life.

"Vegita, you don't stand a chance against him. Just go. The universe is yours, but you better hurry before some ambitious soldier in Freezer's army beats you to it," Krillin said to the Saiyan while still facing Piccolo.

Vegita bowed his head grinding his teeth together in impotent rage. I was so close to immortality, so close! But the little baka is right. Freezer's out of the way and it won't be long until his men discover that fact. I need to make my move soon.

Vegita raised his head and grinned maliciously. "Tell Kakarotto goodbye for me!" The Saiyan said and streaked off into the air.

But this is not over, Vegita thought as he pulled his space pod's tracker out of his left glove. Oh, no. I'll come back and destroy them all: Kakarotto, the Namek, and that bald flea. Yes, he deserves my special attentions as well. Freezer underestimated him, but I won't!

Vegita smiled and winced as his face rebelled against the action. I'd still love to know how that weakling killed the all-powerful Freezer. I wish I could have been there. Damnit, a Saiyan should have been there!

Piccolo, Gohan, Dende, and Krillin flew in the opposite direction of the Saiyan prince. The quartet was on course to Freezer's star cruiser. Gohan soared next to Piccolo, and Dende flew slightly behind the half Saiyan. Krillin had taken up the rear. The monk's intent was to stay far away from Piccolo, who was in the lead. Krillin's fear of the Namek once again reasserting itself now that the job of saving Vegita's life was accomplished.

Kaiou-sama? Krillin called out to the Guardian silently.

What is it, Krillin?

Why couldn't I tell Piccolo what you said? Do you know how close he came to--?

You couldn't tell him because Piccolo was not meant to know about Vegita's future importance.

And I am?

Yes, Krillin. Because from the moment you killed Freezer, you changed what was meant to be.

W-what do you mean, Krillin asked, a brief pang of regret gripping his belly.

Krillin, you were not meant to destroy Freezer.