Disclaimer: I don't own Dragonball Z.

Interlude: Lord and Liege

A small child stands beside his Lord's throne, his pudgy features hard with a seriousness usually found only on those far beyond his years. Had he been born and raised on his mother's home planet, he would have only just begun his primary education. He may have gone to school and made friends with others his age, or stayed at home and spent mornings learning with his mother, and afternoons playing with his father.

But this child knows nothing of friendship or play. His father is dead, and his mother is a mere shell of the woman she used to be, caged in the lower dungeons of his Lord's 22nd planet. He is not trifled by such matters; all he knows of his father is the man's Earthling name, and all he ever sees of his mother are faint, forgotten memories that flit through his twisted dreams every so often.

All he knows is what his Lord tells him. He is a strong, intelligent boy; the strongest and oldest of his kind. He is special, because he is a Saiyan-Human hybrid, with the power to destroy entire worlds, and the potential to destroy all who dare to defy his Lord.

He is a bloodthirsty killer. He trains with the determination of one who wants nothing but to succeed. This earns him praise from his Lord, but he is also well aware of the punishments that come from upsetting Lord Frieza. He has been to the dungeons many times before, felt the sting of ki whips against his skin, and heard the sound of his own flesh tearing.

But after each incident his Lord is always kind, and the boy understands that this punishment is for his own good. It makes him stronger and reminds him to always respect the mighty Lord Frieza, who is the only father figure he has ever known.

His Lord runs his cold, clammy fingers through the boy's shaggy hair. Many of the hybrids resemble their mother's people, but this boy resembles a Saiyan in appearance, his hair and eyes as dark as the cold, endless space.

"One day you will lead my army, my little pet," his Lord murmurs. There is silence, and the boy stands still under his Lord's red-eyed gaze. "You will be the greatest soldier of them all, my little monkey general!"

On some level, the boy understands that this hybrid army has become his Lord's obsession. The breeding is on-going; every year, more and more hybrids are created. As their numbers swell, his Lord's excitement increases. They are all his pets, his children that will shock the universe with their strength and cunning.

The boy smirks, his sharp canines glinting in the harsh light of the ship as his lips part into a wide, disturbed smile.

"I will kill that rebel Vegeta," he tells his Lord. The Lord laughs in reply, throwing his head back and cackling with unhinged mirth.

"When the time comes you will bring him to me," his Lord eventually answers. "And we will kill him together." His Lord pats his head with something akin to affection, although northing of the sort ever reaches the Lord's eyes.

"Oh, my little monkey boy," his Lord murmurs. "My little Gohan."

The boy looks out to the stars that surround them. One day he will find Vegeta, and make his Lord proud.