I know! I know! This isn't the next chapter of Faded Future. I'm sorry. Because of my internship at a local army base (Don't worry. They don't have me around any of the weaponry), I haven't been able to get a lot of work done on it since I can't take in the notebook that FF is in. However, because it took them three weeks to get me on a computer (don't ask), I was able to work on some other writing.
This is an idea that I'd been toying around with for a bit. It started out as something completely different before slowly sort of combining with another idea I had, and then it sucked up a third idea I'd been contemplating before it finally started to resemble what it's turned into. It's like Buu...only somewhat more benign.
This is the first of four parts. It has no schedule, so it updates whenever I get the next piece finished.
Leaning against the railing, ignoring for a moment propriety, which demanded he stand straight and proud regardless of the ache it created in his lower back, King Vegeta looked out over the palace grounds. This was the time of year when everything was flowering, so there was plenty to be seen.
He didn't much care for plants one way or another. They existed, and so long as they were not of the variety that might attempt to devour him or any of his people, he was content to allow them to continue existing.
It was his wife who was fond of them, and it had been at her insistence that a large section of the grounds had been converted into a proper garden. This had led many to declare that she was not fit to be their queen. Surely she could not be a true warrior if she liked such weak things as flowers, and only a true warrior could be consort to the leader of a warrior people.
She had dared those who doubted her capabilities to come and to challenge her directly if they truly believed she was unfit as a ruler. They had, and she had taken them all, demonstrating to each one of them that she was every bit the warrior they claimed she couldn't be.
Eventually the number of challenges had tapered off before finally ceasing altogether. There was no longer a question that she had the strength and skill, but there remained the grumblings of those who objected to her nature. Surely any child to come from her would share the same softness and weakness of character that she possessed.
A movement on the edge of his vision caught his attention, and he looked, lips quirking slightly into a prideful smirk as he saw his son, Vegeta, practicing a kata in the gardens. Hand, with the fingers curled as though they were claws, struck out with sharp, precise blows. Behind him, his tail lashed to one side, providing momentum and balance as he spun around to deliver a kick. Arms rose up in a blocking pose, and for just an instant the boy paused.
The tip of his tail flicked, and suddenly he was off again, moving into the next part of the pattern. He liked the plants too. He liked them because almost no one else did, so there were rarely any other people here.
Vegeta had put a stop to the disgruntled rumblings concerning his mother's suitability as queen. At his birth, he'd had a record power level, surpassing most of the seasoned soldiers at his father's command. The boy had barely begun learning how to fight when his level had risen beyond his father's as well.
A boy who hadn't even lost his milk teeth was the single strongest member of the Saiya-jin race. It was almost ludicrous enough to be infuriating, but it was far too incredible.
Not only was he strong. The child also displayed the love of battle typical of their people, and he showed intelligence beyond what was typical of their people. He was learning far above his expected level, seeming to simply absorb skill and knowledge as it was presented to him. He was a marvel.
Thus, it had seemed all the more baffling to the people in retrospect that the king had initially tried to keep as much information as possible about the boy hidden from everyone. It had been done in an effort to avoid gaining undesired attention, but his secrecy on the whole matter had worried them and raised their suspicions. Was something wrong with the child? Was it weak or deformed in some way? Had it died and the king was simply trying to keep it quiet? Had the detractors been right about the queen's soft nature poisoning the child?
They'd heard almost nothing about the child since the news of its birth had been released. What else could they be expected to do but speculate and draw their own conclusions.
For the first few months, the royal couple had remained stubbornly silent about the subject, ignoring the questions and accusations being leveled at them. Eventually, however, someone had caved to the pressure. A well-intentioned palace servant, who'd worked close to the queen—and the young prince by extension—had decided that the rumors needed to be put to rest.
Because of her position working as an aide to Her Majesty and because she was speaking when there was an ordered silence from the palace, she'd largely been thought of as credible when she'd begun spreading news of the boy's growth and progress. They'd been pleased to learn that the child was male and that he showed all of the usual signs of a strong, healthy battle spirit. No one, however, had been willing to believe her reports of his high power level until she'd produced upon which she had recorded a reading of the prince's strength.
Everything had changed then. The people had ceased their criticizing of Zukirri, feeling at last assured in the continued strength of the royal line, but there had been more to it than just that.
The overwhelming sense of gloom that had been hanging over the Saiya-jin people since their subjugation by Freeza two decades ago had seemed to vanish almost overnight. Not even half a year old, the boy's power already topped many of the elite ranked soldiers. The child was beyond expectations.
He would be the one to kill the tyrant and to pay him back for his people's humiliation at being forced to submit to his rule. The future that had previously seemed so dark and bleak began to grow brighter, like the breaking of a new dawn on the horizon. They could have hope again.
Of course, it was then that the unwanted attention they had been trying to hide the boy from had decided to make an appearance.
Freeza had chosen to make a surprise visit to the planet, having heard of the young prince's impressive strength and noticing the people's suddenly changed attitudes. He wouldn't admit the boy's power, couldn't acknowledge the strength of a lowly servant, but he hadn't needed to. His interest said everything.
Having completed the kata twice over, Vegeta now stood very still. Even his tail made no movement. His eyes were closed, and he held one arm outstretched in front of him with the palm facing upwards.
A moment passed, and nothing seemed to happen. The boy's eyebrows furrowed as his face shifted into an expression of serious concentration, but he remained motionless otherwise.
Slowly something began to form in his upturned hand, and King Vegeta's expression momentarily to on an element of surprise as he realized what it was. A faint light grew in his hand, flickering and wavering like the flame of a candle in the wind, but suddenly something seemed to click. The light formed into a ball and condensed into a small, bright orb of strongly glowing light. Vegeta opened his eyes, smirking triumphantly. It was ki.
"Prodigy," murmured the king, sparing a glance over at the large figure that had joined him on the walkway overlooking the garden. He was watching the boy as well.
As much of a blessing as the boy's power was, it was also a great danger to Vegeta as an individual as well as to them as a people. The majority of the attention was focused on him, but he was only the most outstanding example of their growing strength.
Most of the people didn't realize it, but the average power rating for newborns was on the rise. King Vegeta had noticed, of course, and Freeza had noticed it too. He saw that they were growing stronger, and for now, he was content to allow them to continue on. But that could easily change if they weren't careful. What would happen if he decided that they were becoming too much of a threat to be worth keeping around?
They would be annihilated.
Although the knowledge of the prince's power had been wonderful for raising the people's general morale, it would have been better if it had remained a secret for a while longer. Now was not the time to be bringing attention on themselves.
"No other label fits him better," said Nappa in a somber tone. He was one of the few others who knew the precarious position that the Saiya-jin people were currently in.
"Indeed," agreed King Vegeta in a tone that was equal parts pride and regret.
The men lapsed back into silence, and the king turned his attention back to his son. The child was playing around now, making the ki ball disappear from one hand and reforming it in the other. It seemed like a game to him, but its true purpose was to practice fine ki manipulation and increase the ease of channeling. He had no difficulty in dismissing the energy ball, but the effort still showed on his face whenever he attempted to recreate it. Even so, it was rather impressive how well he was doing.
"When did you begin teaching him ki manipulation?"
"I didn't," answered Nappa. There was no surprise in his voice, so this wasn't a new discovery to him.
"He reached this level all on his own?"
"He arrived early for our training session today. It was before I arrived, and he witnessed a pair of elites engaged in a sparring match. Apparently, after watching them trade a few blasts, he decided to try making one of his own," explained the large man, turning his eyes away from the boy just in time to see the open look of shock on the king's face before he recovered himself.
It shouldn't have been possible for a child so young to be able to learn how to make ki attacks simply by watching another person perform the technique before him. Certainly Saiya-jins could learn new skills through observance alone. It was a part of their highly adaptive nature, but still, learning that level of ability through that method was something children more than twice his age were still unable to do.
"This was all learned in an instant?"
"He managed to create a blast on his first try, but it wasn't perfect right off," responded Nappa, lips twitching slightly in amusement at the memory. "It was a bit sloppy, but it was better than what most cubs can pull off their first time. He destroyed the training room."
Now the king looked amused too. Of course his first foray into serious ki usage would be a near disaster. He'd honestly half-expected the complete obliteration of one wing of the palace to be his only notification that Vegeta had learned how to wield ki. The loss of one training room seemed rather inconsequential in comparison. "Were there any injuries?"
"There was nothing too bad. The elites were rather pissed that their fight was interrupted like that, but they cooled down pretty quick once they saw it was the prince." His expression suddenly seemed somewhat devious, and the elder Vegeta allowed himself a chuckle at the men's expense.
They hadn't backed down because he was royalty. Even that didn't matter for an offense like disrupting someone's fight, but strength always mattered. He was already stronger than them physically, and if he'd learned to use ki—that was a whole new level to the boy's power. That his newly acquired skill was completely untested had likely only added to their wariness.
"I scrapped the original plan for today's lesson and spent the whole session on refining his channeling and control."
"Good. With his level of power, it is imperative that he master proper control as quickly as possible." The child would have been a serious danger to everyone, walking around with no real understanding of what he was actually doing.
"He very nearly has it down already. He really only needs more time practicing to increase his ease and speed of blast creation."
King Vegeta grunted lowly in acknowledgement of the other man's words. The boy's training would need to change. He was done learning how to fight. Now he was going to have to learn how to kill.
Silently the man swallowed around the bad taste that thought left in his mouth. The heavy feeling settling in his gut was somewhat harder to ignore, but he forced it. It didn't matter what he felt. It had to be done.
He hated what his people had been reduced to, what he'd agreed to reduce them to. The old way of life was gone. It had been wiped away with such speed and efficiency that it was almost as though their people had not existed before Freeza had come.
Maybe it had taken two or three years all told. Almost all of the old traditions had been abandoned, and those that had managed to remain were shallow empty farces of what they had once been. The legends of their ancestors were largely forgotten. None of the children knew them anymore, and their original language too had almost completely died out as they were forced to learn the common tongue of Freeza's army.
Damn Freeza! Damn him to Hell and back!
"'Geta!" exclaimed a new voice, pulling the king at least momentarily out from the dark thoughts he'd been stewing under. He and Nappa looked down into the garden again.
Tarble, his second son, walked into view this time, but that was no surprise. He'd already known who it must be by the sound of the voice and the address used. Only one person called Vegeta by that name. Only one person was allowed to call him by that name.
"What's that?" asked the younger boy, pointing curiously at the glowing ball in Vegeta's hand.
He was one of the few other people who liked the garden as well, but he seemed to like it for the same reasons as his mother. Tarble actually liked the plants and the flowers. It was a slightly worrisome behavior for someone of his circumstance, but his father was somewhat less concerned by it than he might've been had that boy been first in line for the throne.
"Ki," answered Vegeta in an almost wary tone. He never seemed completely certain about how to handle his little brother. Sometimes he seemed like a proper playmate, but other times he seemed almost too fragile to even touch.
The problem stemmed from the large gap between their power levels. Whereas the older boy had been born with a record setting high level, the younger one had been born with an average—perhaps even slightly on the low side—level for a child of elite class. That Vegeta was a year older had only made for a greater divide between them. Neither boy had managed to fully understand what this difference meant, and it was something that was easily forgotten in the midst of play.
"I wanna hol' it."
"Why?" Tarble stuck out his bottom lip in a pout.
"It'll hurt you." Vegeta was farther along in understanding the difference between them. His first and largest step towards that had come when he'd accidentally broken his brother's arm. Although Tarble didn't seem to remember the experience, the older boy certainly did. They could see it in the agitated twitch of his tail.
He would need to learn to put that under control.
"Du'int hurt you," countered Tarble quickly, brow furrowing just the slightest bit. He didn't seem to possess the same potential as his big brother, but that didn't mean he was without any.
It was difficult to really make any comparisons between the boys. At this point the year separating them might as well have been a century for the amount of difference it made between their developmental levels. Judging Tarble's abilities against Vegeta's wouldn't only be unfair, it would almost be downright mean.
Tarble had a very different personality from his brother. He seemed of a quieter, less aggressive disposition, coming off sometimes as being almost meek. The boy kept up with his training, progressing at a rather average rate, but he only seemed to do it because it was required of him. He had no great passion for fighting, and neither did appear to have any exceptional talent at it.
"I made it. It won't hurt me."
"Make a ki ball?" An emphatic head nod was his answer. "I guess. Nappa said all Saiy-jins can do it."
One thing they seemed to have in common with each other—aside from sharing a fair amount of physical appearance—was their minds. Both boys seemed to have inherited a greater than average level of intelligence. It was this particular aspect that gave King Vegeta hope for his younger son's future. Even if he did not love battle, an intelligent man could still become an exceptional warrior.
"Watch," said Vegeta, quickly extinguishing the ball in hand and then holding it out towards his brother. "Watch this."
"Sire?" asked Nappa with a note of concern in his voice.
Brow furrowing thoughtfully, King Vegeta watched the two boys, mentally debating over whether they should interfere or not. His first instinct was to put a stop to this immediately. Ki as the boy was using it was essentially a weapon, and Vegeta had only just begun working with it. Still, he'd not lost control once the entire time they'd been watching him, and he was only using very small amounts of it. Any injury would be minimal at worst, and it could stand in as a good lesson for either or both boys.
"Let's wait for now," he said finally, speaking at a slow pace that gave away his own uncertainty at the prudence of his decision. "We will intervene if it begins to look like it's moving beyond their control."
"As you command, Sire," said the large man in a reluctant but dutiful tone.
That was one of the good things about the man: despite his close association with the royal family through his previous position as a general in the army and his current task as private instructor to both princes, he never forgot his place. He never tried to act as an equal to the king, and he continued to follow orders as loyally as he ever had. It was part of what had made the king and queen choose him to train their children over all the other highly qualified candidates. The others had come so that they might influence the boys with their own agendas.
Nappa had come to serve. He had gotten the job.
"Oh," said the king as though in afterthought, "and you are not to tell Her Majesty about this under any circumstances."
"Of course." He sounded amused again now.
Again Vegeta created a ki ball in his hand, going through that same slow formation process that he'd done the first time. Tarble watched with rapt attention, letting out a small noise of awe as the ball condensed into its final, concentrated shape. "Like that."
The younger boy held out his hand in imitation of his brother's pose and stared at it with a look of utmost concentration.
"Do you think he'll succeed?"
Never shifting his gaze, King Vegeta responded, "You're his instructor. You should be able to judge that better than anyone else."
It wasn't a question to be answered, but it was an invitation to make an assessment. "Prince Tarble is progressing at a very average rate for a child of his age and standing."
Outside of the royal family, only Nappa used that word without making it sound like it was a bad thing. It was the word that had followed the second prince around like a dark cloud since his birth.
Unlike he'd attempted to do the first time, King Vegeta had made no attempt to keep any of the information regarding Tarble a secret from his people or Freeza. He'd learned his lesson the first time, and it would have been pointless to try anyway. The tyrant had already known that he had one child of remarkable power, and he would occasionally visit just to see how the boy was growing, making it quite clearly known that he had his own plans for the young prince. It had been on one such visit that he had seen the queen as she was finally beginning to show her second pregnancy.
The only person they would have cared to hide Tarble's existence from had been amongst the first to learn of it beyond those who lived and worked in the palace.
For King Vegeta, it had been almost a relief when Tarble's birth level had measured at such an unremarkable level. The child had been extraordinary in how simply normal he'd been. He was as strong as they had needed him to be.
The child's initial power recordings had been immediately released to the people, making their way quickly to Freeza. Maybe seeing that Vegeta's high level had been nothing more than a fluke would diminish his unsettling interest in them. He could turn his attentions on some other people foolish enough to desire them.
Of course, the Saiya-jin people had reacted to the news of the boy exactly as the king had expected they would. They were disappointed. He knew they had hoped for the second child to possess an incredible power level just as his brother did.
Strength had become so important to them that they couldn't see the danger it had put them in. It had been so important to him that he hadn't seen the danger he had walked them into.
"'Geta~," whined Tarble in frustration as his hand remained empty. "Won't work."
"That's 'cause you're just thinking about the light," said Vegeta, dismissing his ki ball. "Don't try to make the light."
"Huh?" he asked, cocking his head to one side in confusion.
"Based only on his apparent combat ability and what we know of other children of similar age and level," continued Nappa, crossing his arms over his massive chest as he also watched the boys, "I would say 'no'. However, he has a couple of factors that separate him from those other children."
Vegeta huffed as though in irritation, but the two men could see that he was really enjoying this. The boy was really an irrepressible show off. Any opportunity to impress someone was a good one as far as he was concerned. "It's your energy. You try to pull it out from inside you, and the energy makes the light."
"He is smarter than most of his peers, and he has a brother who wants someone he doesn't have to hold back against in play. It could make a difference."
"Oh." The younger boy stared down at his feet for a minute, twisting uncomfortably under Vegeta's gaze. "How?"
King Vegeta chuckled quietly in amusement as he watched his older son flounder about for an explanation. He had picked it up so naturally that it hadn't really occurred to him to wonder at the "how" of it. "You don't think he will be able to succeed though."
"What about Vegeta? Do you think he will succeed in bringing Tarble up to his same level?"
For a moment silence hung heavy and expectantly in the air between them. "No," answered Nappa finally, choosing to give his honest answer on the matter. "I only expect the gap between them to grow. Tarble has the potential to become a decent warrior in his own right, but he will not grow to match his brother. He does not have the desire to."
Nodding his head in acknowledgement of the other man's answer, the king continued watching his sons. Vegeta had cobbled together some sort of explanation that seemed to at least half-way make sense to him, but Tarble still looked utterly confounded about the whole thing.
Quietly he considered the answer. He appreciated that it had been the man's genuine opinion rather than what he might've thought his king wanted to hear. More of his generals and so-called advisors had begun to fall into doing that. Where had any of them gotten the idea that he liked that sort of garbage?
"I think…" he mused slowly, finally straightening back up into "proper" regal posture. "I think it is best that way."
"That their powers are so widely separated?"
"Partially," he admitted in a low voice. It was a difficult thing to say aloud, even knowing that he said it with the best interests of his people foremost in his mind. "Mostly, I think it is best that Tarble does not desire to match Vegeta's power."
"You hope that will avoid a rivalry between them?"
"The time is coming for rebellion," stated King Vegeta in a firm tone, but he continued to keep his voice cautiously low. To be caught with such traitorous words on his tongue would ensure his people's destruction. "The people need one person to unite behind. I cannot be that person. I have failed them too greatly, so it is left to my sons. If the boys were closer in power or if Tarble had the desire to meet or surpass his brother, the people would be too much divided to ever hope to defeat Freeza."
Glancing momentarily away from the boys, Nappa asked, "You think that all it would take to sway so many is for Tarble to truly desire to grow stronger?"
A small, self-mocking smirk quirked his lips. "There are those who would support anyone else given the smallest opportunity. They see me when they look at the boy. They see my failures in his face." He released a heavy sigh, looking suddenly very tired, but he quickly corrected himself, wiping away all signs of the perpetual strain he was under. It would not do for him to look so weak.
"One leader for one people," said Nappa as though reciting an old saying from rote memory.
"At the rate he is progressing, Vegeta will be far too beyond everyone else to be able to relate to their power. Tarble will not. He will act as the liaison between them because he will know both sides."
Down in the gardens Tarble stood with his hands held slightly in front of him, roughly chest-width apart, looking almost as though he was clutching an invisible ball. His face was screwed up from the effort of trying to concentrate his ki according to his brother's instruction, and he growled in exertion as he tried to force it to manifest.
It looked rather humorous actually, but he seemed to be getting some results from it. A faint trace of light was slowly forming between his hands, and a bit of a breeze had begun to pick up around him.
Suddenly, the barely visible ki vanished, the wind ceased, and the boy collapsed onto his hands and knees, panting heavily. It had been too much for him to manage after all.
Ki was the energy of life, and it was very resistant to being torn from its source. It took time and training to become in tune enough with one's body to be able to consciously divert ki from its natural flow. He hadn't had the time yet.
"…You did better," said Vegeta with a sigh. As young as he was, he could tell defeat when he saw it. "Mom's coming back today."
Tarble looked up at that, still panting but seeming less tired. "Really?"
"Yeah," he confirmed before turning and beginning to walk off. The younger boy stood on slightly shaky legs and stumbled after his brother, who did not wait up but slowed his pace slightly, allowing the other to catch up.
"One will lead, one will support, and the rest will follow," said King Vegeta before he too departed.
I swear, writing some parts of this one made me feel evil. Anyway, I hope you guys liked it.
Oh, and at this point, you probably shouldn't expect a new chapter of FF until July. Really, I'm sorry about that.