Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z or any of the characters contained within, save a few minor OCs. I am merely playing around in Akira Toriyama's world for a while.
Cargo felt foolish for not taking the time to check the ki of the Namek he had mistakenly called Nail. Piccolo had glared at him ever since, as if it were something an infant should have known to do. Though it hurt his pride to admit it, the older Namek was right. He would not have made a spectacle of himself if he had thought before opening his mouth. He promised himself he would not make the same mistake twice.
Cargo was currently watching some of the other children play a game of poker with the human called Krillin. They giggled every time he groaned or made a face at them. Dende was part of that group, and he seemed to be enjoying himself greatly. Cargo frowned. Could his brothers not see that every second wasted in frivolity was less time spent in preparation for the next war?
He balled his hands into fists and gritted his teeth. He had overheard Muuri speaking to one of the other village elders – Lumaca – about how the Dragonballs would only attract trouble now that their presence was known. Lumaca had thought carefully before replying that unless Frieza had relayed the information to someone else, he was the last remaining invader with that knowledge. And now, Frieza was dead, by the hand of Goku. Muuri had argued that they needed to find some obscure planet somewhere far away, somewhere no other greedy beings could find them. As the new Great Elder, Muuri's decisions were absolute and final.
Cargo agreed with Muuri, to a point. Let them come, he seethed. By the time they find us, I will be as strong as Nail. I could kill them all.
The thought of killing someone made him stop cold. He was surprised that he could think such a thing. Defeating them, yes. Protecting his people, yes. But killing? Murder, in cold blood? Murder was a strange thing to the Namekian people, save that Piccolo fighter. Would he ever be able to do such a thing?
As angry as he was, he thought he could. The answer shocked him when he realized it was true.
As he thought this, Dende swiveled in his seat and stared straight at him, mouth dropped open in astonishment. Cargo! came his nervous exclamation, the words falling directly into his mind. You can't mean that! Surely you don't!
I do, Dende. I will do whatever is necessary to make sure this kind of war never comes to us again.
Dende caught the underlying anger in his brother's ignored the concerned look Krillin was giving him and instead focused on Cargo. Please, little brother, he begged, don't do anything rash. You are still young. You're hurt and angry right now. Many of our brothers are gone. Our Elder is gone. Please, think rationally. I don't want you to do something in anger that you will regret later!
Cargo snapped at his brother. I will not regret my decision! I will become strong, and I will fight!
Dende wisely let it drop. It would not matter for much longer, anyway. The dragon would be sending them to a new planet soon. No outsiders would be able to influence Cargo there. Hopefully, he would grow out of this strange, aggressive phase.
A few days later, the dragon wish was spoken and granted, and with a sensation that felt just as wild the second time as it did the first, the Namekian people were transported to a new world, one that could hopefully be likened to the original.
Dende could not quite understand his brother's new way of thinking. With the exception of Piccolo, Nameks were a peaceful race. Even Nail, their greatest warrior, had been nonviolent. Cargo, on the other hand, seemed to be about as calm as a tempest these days. He had been a playful and sweet child, never one to argue over whose turn it was to help pull weeds from around the Adjissa flowers. He was a bit brooding, but then again, so had Nail been. Cargo practically idolized the older Namek. When he came to visit, Cargo would follow him around the village, mimicking his mannerisms and even the inflection of his voice.
Then, of course, came this drastic change. They had been on this new planet for a week already, and the only thing Cargo had done was pester the village warriors about teaching him how to manipulate his ki. They had all been incredulous. It was unheard of, a child begging for lessons that would only be taught to a young adult – and not just any youth, but one close to maturity! – and with so much to be done to transform this strange place into a home… Some of the younger adults had begun to whisper among themselves that Cargo had lost his mind on Earth.
For his part, Dende did not believe it. He realized that Cargo's death and revival must have taken such a toll on him that his mind had matured past his physical years. Their people had not had such a horrific situation to deal with since the Cataclysm hundreds of years ago, and so his brother's situation was rare. However, it had been seen before. Krillin had told him something like this must have happened to Picccolo, too – the older Namek was only three Earth years, nine Namekian years, older than Gohan, who was of an age with Dende himself.
According to the human, Piccolo had hatched from his egg not long after his father had birthed him, at the time of his death. He had then spent the next few years of his life training to fight and nurturing his hatred of Goku, the Saiyan man responsible for the death of Frieza. During that time, he had nearly attained his adult height and his full mental development… when he still should have been a young sprout.
The same adults that whispered about Cargo also discussed the strange Namek on Earth, the one who had fused with Nail. Mostly, they pitied him for his lack of a childhood and for the lack of peace in his life. One or two of them thought he was a throwback to the Nameks of earlier times, several of whom had gone mad with power. The rest argued them down, saying that he knew his heritage – he was of the line of Katat, a member of the Dragon clan, as were they. Though they were not brothers, they were cousins. Well, whatever the case was, they seemed concerned that Cargo was going to follow in their strange relative's footsteps, a fear that was not unfounded.
Dende watched as Cargo made frantic gestures with his hands to Muuri. He had been pleading for warrior training for most of the week. One would have thought that Muuri, being their people's new Great Elder, would have had no time for Cargo, but the man had been receptive to the child's presence, if not his interests. Cargo gestured again, and Muuri squared his shoulders. Then Cargo's slumped. He bowed low to the ground and backed away from his elder.
The young healer decided it was about time to have another chat with his brother.
He caught up with him near a storage hut, which contained the tools used to cultivate Adjissa. It had not been difficult. Cargo was practically vibrating with pent-up energy. When Dende came around the side of the rounded hut, the younger boy was kneeling back on his heels and pressing his forehead against the stone wall.
"Cargo, are you all right?" he called softly.
The younger boy swiped one sleeve across his eyes and met his brother's concerned gaze. His eyes were puffy. "I'm fine," he replied quickly.
Dende called his bluff. "I'm a healer, Cargo, and your brother. I know you're lying." He moved closer to the other boy, with his hands both held out from his sides in plain sight. "I can feel your pain."
"I am not in pain."
"You are. Maybe not physically, but I can feel it still." Dende knelt down next to Cargo, intending to wrap his arms around his brother. "Let me help you." He touched his hands to the boy's arm, extended his arms to encircle him…
…and Cargo shoved him off.
Dende fell flat on his back and lay sprawled on the ground. His eyes were wide with surprise at the unexpected violence as he stared at his brother. Cargo's eyes were as wide as his for a moment, then he glared at him. "You can't help me," he declared. "You're only a healer. You don't know anything about fighting."
Cargo rested his forehead against the hut again. "You don't know," he repeated softly. "Nobody knows. We don't have any real warriors left to teach us."
The boy suddenly screamed angrily and slammed his fists into the stone. "Nobody! We have nobody!" Dende watched in horror, frozen in place, as Cargo beat his fists into the wall, until he began leaving bloody prints. Then he jumped to his feet and tried to restrain him. He sustained several scratches from the other boy's talons, but he was able to keep him from further injury.
Cargo struggled against him for a moment, but Dende was still the older and larger of the two, and Cargo tired more quickly. He eventually sagged against his older brother and began to cry. Dende gently guided him to the ground. "It will turn out all right, Cargo," he murmured. "You'll see. Everything will be fine." He stroked the top of the boy's head with one hand. Cargo turned to him and buried his face in his robes.
Dende held him until his sobbing subsided. He did not realize until afterward that Cargo had fallen asleep in his embrace. Dende almost smiled. This was something they had done many times before when they were younger, one falling asleep while curled up against the other. His little brother was still inside there somewhere, hidden beneath the anger-ridden child that raged against the universe. He leaned down and pressed his cheek to Cargo's.
"I am glad to see that someone has found time for Cargo," came a soft voice from directly behind him. Dende jumped. Cargo shifted in his arms but blessedly remained asleep.
It was Muuri who had snuck up on him. "How is he, Dende?" he asked the youth.
"Um… he is tired, Muuri. And he is very upset," Dende replied.
Muuri looked at the bloody prints on the wall and pursed his lips. "I see."
"He wants very much to be able to protect our people," Dende suggested. "He is concerned that this will happen again, and that when it does, there will be no one to stand between us and it."
The elder's lips twitched. "He has been most emphatic about that. He desires training."
To Dende's surprise, Muuri sat down beside them and placed a hand on Cargo's arm. He was silent for a moment. When he spoke again, he spoke with a heavy heart. "I have spoken with the village elders, and the majority believe his insanity will be cured with the realization that his desires will not bring him happiness."
"Many believe that our time on Earth has done him harm. His proximity to the outsiders has influenced him negatively. They use Piccolo as an example of what the future holds for him."
Dende nearly leaped to his feet, only remembering that he held his brother at the very last moment. He stilled with effort. "But he only wants to help!" he cried.
"I know," said Muuri. "I know. I am only telling you this because you are closest to him out of all our brethren. You may see things the others will not. You do need to know something about him, though, Dende."
The boy took in his elder's solemn expression and nodded. This was no mere probe for information. This was serious. Not that he had doubted the gravity of the situation before, but now it was very clear to him that Muuri had not come to them just to be sociable. There was some other factor involved.
"Dende, before we were wished to Earth, Cargo displayed the beginnings of an aura as he searched for you. I saw this myself. The last one to manifest such power was Nail. Though the other elders may not agree with me, I believe that our little brother has the potential to become a powerful warrior. I also believe that he needs training before he sustains injuries while attempting to teach himself."
Dende's jaw dropped.
Muuri smiled at the surprised youth. "Did you think I would not be receptive to the needs of our brother?" he asked him. "I am not unaware of what has been happening. Cargo will need our help and our understanding if he is to recover from the trauma he has suffered. The best that can be done now is to give him an outlet for his grief. If that outlet must be through violence, it is better that he channel it in a way that will not bring harm to our people or to himself." He gave a pointed glance to the bloody wall. "I will arrange for someone to teach him how to harness the ki he possesses."
"He is only a child!" Dende exclaimed.
"As are you," the elder replied. "Yet you are the greatest healer among our brethren. Power does not discriminate to whom it flows."
"His thoughts are dark and full of anger."
"And he can learn to put it aside. Have faith in our brother, Dende."
Dende was silent for a moment. Then he asked, "Why am I being told this?"
Muuri smiled again. "Because you are the one he cares most about. You are his light in the dark." His hand moved from Cargo's arm to Dende's shoulder. "You also bear a great burden."
Dende suddenly understood what the elder was telling him. "We will both be receiving training, then," he stated.
Muuri nodded. "At first. As novices to the use of ki, you will both be instructed on its basic properties. During this, I would like you to keep an eye on him, Dende. Keep me informed on his progress. He is far more fragile than he will admit, and he needs you."
Cargo shifted in Dende's arms again, and Dende pulled him closer. Muuri stood up and moved away. "Within seven days, someone will come to you. Be prepared, child."
"Do not forget what I have told you."
"I will not."
With that, the elder was gone. Dende sighed. "You, brother," he said softly, glancing down at the other boy, "are going to drag me into many things that I don't want to be a part of, aren't you?"
As if in response, Cargo smiled in his sleep.
I'm a classic DBZ ficker? Thank you!
Again, this story will probably be updated slowly. I apologize in advance. If you would like to keep track of it, you can favorite it. (I do also greatly appreciate reviews. A flattered writer is a faster writer.) Also, feel free to comment on any choppiness in the story. That can be a flaw of mine.
Thanks for reading. 'Til next time!