Sins of the Fathers-Part One
Far beyond the reaches of the solar system, past the lonely orbit of Pluto, two battle-scarred pods flew through the vacuum of space. In the previous thirty years, many of these fighter-class ships had travelled on a course through the system of planets, all sharing the same final destination.
Only fitting that the last remnants of the Saiya-jin race would call such a strange planet home. Or perhaps that was just Frieza talking. Seventeen years dead and yet he still lived on so vividly. She painfully cracked open her eyes as the suspended animation unit disengaged and the hum of the interior lighting took its place. The view outside was that of the starscape, one of the few comforts she had left in her life.
The neighbouring pod was hailing her. Tapping the comm button, she tried to settle more comfortably into the padded interior with little success as her partner hailed her.
'…Ten minutes to land. Engage final touchdown preparations.'
'Acknowledged.' Securing her landing harness, she prepared herself for atmospheric entry, a painful process at the best of times. With an open side wound and a malfunctioning critical support system…The comm system remained open. They both knew they wouldn't receive a warm welcome once they arrived, not if the last landing was anything to go by. There was still a chance however that the Saiya-jin had mellowed with the years of peace.
'…You're kidding yourself if you think they'll greet us with open arms.' The rasp of pain in his voice was obvious. '…We haven't been welcomed nearly anywhere else with intelligent life.'
'The name of Frieza still holds a great deal of fear in this quadrant of the galaxy.'
'…So does the name of the Saiya-jin.' She could tell he wasn't enjoying the reminders of his past.
'Touché.' Outside, the blue sphere of Chikyuu shone in the light of its sun, growing ever larger by the second. The outside of the pods began to glow red, then white-hot as they blazed through the atmosphere.
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Many earthlings considered the highlands of Yunzanbit uninhabitable. Even Piccolo thought this place was desolate. A perfect place for training and meditation. The years of peace after the awakening of Majin Buu had relaxed many of the others; only Kakarott had remained strong enough to spar with him. At present, he enjoyed the solitude, although he kept his senses attuned to sensing the ki of his…friends? After so many years, it was still difficult to accept anyone as being his equal, bar the obvious.
Responsibilities. It sounded like a cheap word even now. Twenty years ago, he would have thought nothing of blowing this entire planet to hell and back, just as Vegeta-sei had been obliterated. But now, a son. And recently, a daughter. The one he called his mate, a human. One whom he had detested so much when they had first met, but now it was hard to imagine life without Bulma. In a way, she was a fighter, but always with her mind, never her fists. Sparks of contempt often flew, even after years of marriage, but he knew now that the day he would finally lose her would be the day he would lose part of himself.
His offspring. Both so like their mother, the human side always present. Weak and vulnerable. But the Saiya-jin side…
He had seen it in Mirai Trunks, always stubborn, questioning the authority of the prince of all Saiya-jin, but merely trying to protect the father he had never known. It rang true for his son from this time, but in a different way. Never losing those he loved had never marred him in the way his future self had been. Maybe he was even a better fighter for it.
The most recent addition to his life, Bra. His little princess, Bulma and Trunks using the name only half jokingly. Somehow, that little blue-haired girl had captivated him ever since she was born. Three years old, and she had an incredible amount of ki. She still hadn't used the power yet, but it was apparent she could be one of the most powerful females on this paltry planet.
A movement of ki distracted him from his thoughts. Moving from the north, it was closing in on his location. Inclining his head, Vegeta stood up and closed his eyes, placing the ki signals. The stationary ones first. To the south, the offspring of Kuririn along with her damnable jizouningen mother. The shrimp Chao-tzu, and the old man Kame-Sen'nin were with them. To the east, the human weakling Yamucha, probably with that idiotic cat. In the west, Bulma and Bra remained at Capsule Corps, Kakarott's wife and granddaughter with them.
The ones moving…Kakarott and his sons, Kuririn, Tenshinhan, the Namek, and Trunks. Clearly they had sensed what he had known for some time. Two weakening kis on a direct course for Earth. One seemed vaguely familiar to him, the other…this would not be easy. Flaring his own ki slightly, he rose into the air to intercept the other fighters, falling into formation alongside Kakarott.
Goku wasn't the smartest of people; he had never had much in the way of schooling bar his martial arts training, he retained a certain naivety that some enemies had turned against him, but even he could tell Vegeta was disturbed by the signals. Instead of his usual scowl painted on his features, his face wore an expression of ambiguity, and if anything, he looked almost reluctant to join them. It was like…he'd been expecting this to happen, but at the same time, he believed it wouldn't happen.
Dropping altitude, the Super Saiya-jin of Chikyuu flew alongside Vegeta as the group sped through the Yunzanbit wastelands.
'You know who it is?'
'You think they're Saiya-jin?'
A small scowl appeared.
'You think they're not Saiya-jin?'
The scowl remained stationary.
'So you think it's both?'
A dark glare lanced his way from the prince's direction.
'One Saiya-jin, one non Saiya-jin?'
'Would you shut it with your baka questions Kakarott!?'
Goku grinned and moved back into position, leading the group towards the landing spot. 'Vegeta thinks there's one who might be Saiya-jin and one who's definitely not. Kuririn, Piccolo, Tenshinhan, keep your power suppressed as much as you can; Gohan, Goten and Trunks, don't go SSJ unless we tell you to, 'kay?'
A chorus of affirmation was echoed by the three demi-Saiyajin, Namek and human, and quickly got whipped away by the wind as they landed on the rough terrain. This was the same place where over twenty years ago, Earth's Special Forces had faced off against Vegeta and Nappa. Ironic that now they would fight two more aliens, friendly or otherwise.
The sharp smell of ozone hit their noses as the winds dropped and the sound of the pods' engines filled the air. The impact of the landing flung clouds of volcanic dust into the air as the pods crashed into the hard ground causing impact craters nearly a kilometre wide and nearly twice as deep. The kis had flared slightly with the crash, but now they dropped, even weaker than before. The clouds began to clear as the wind rose, muffling the whine of the pod hatches as they swung open. All of them crouched into fighting stances as the clouds disappeared.
No one appeared.
Dropping out of his fighting stance, Goku floated over to the pods, a ball of ki palmed in his fist if needed. A movement inside one of the compact ships caused him to step back and raise his fists, slowly lowering them as he took in the state of the fighter inside. Kind-hearted and naïve as always, he reached inside and helped the inhabitant of the pod to emerge. His gasp was clearly heard as he pulled the young fighter out into the open.
Four ugly slashes tore across the face, bleeding profusely. Another gash on the forearm opened slightly with the movement of the body beside it, spilling red-black blood over the rocks underfoot. Bruises of various colours and sizes mottled the skin over the legs. But the most obvious wound was the on in the side, barely 6 inches away from the heart and so deep, the ribcage was clearly visible. What had caused the look of shock on Goku's face though was also apparent.
The fighter was a female, not much older than Trunks. From the furry brown tail wrapped round her waist, she was also clearly a Saiya-jin.
Vaguely aware of someone supporting her weight, the girl looked up at the face above her. She recognised it immediately. Turning her head round, she gazed painfully at the assembled throng, settling her eyes on one person.
'Vegeta…' It was her only word before she passed out.
Uncharacteristically, Vegeta moved to help the girl as she collapsed onto the ground. Few females had ever served in the Planet Trade, but those who did wore an adaptation of the white armour and black spandex uniform meant for the males. The armour remained essentially the same, merely altered around the chest and waist, and without the plates covering the thighs and groin. The spandex underneath was cut into a skirt, slit to mid thigh on both sides for ease of movement. The gloves and boots were considerably longer in length, the boots ending around mid-thigh, while the gloves ended around the elbows.
Even after eighteen years he still recognised her. Black hair and dark brown eyes set off her face, already so like Apri it amazed him.
'Dad? You know her?' Trunks looked completely baffled as to his father's reaction. He looked even more confused as Vegeta raced past him to the girl's side, kneeling down and picking her up in his arms like a child. She didn't respond to the contact. Ignoring the scene for the time being, the lavender-haired demi-Saiyajin joined Goten, who was examining the inhabitant of the other pod.
'It's totally out cold.' He warily reached in and shook the body of the inhabitant. Getting no response, he started trying to pull the body out of the ship.
'What d'you mean, 'it'?' Gohan joined them, looking over Trunks' shoulder and getting a good look at the new fighter. His eyes widened in horror and recognition at the sight. White armour covered its entire body; cobalt-blue crests embedded in its forearms, shins, chest and forehead. A thin line of violet coloured blood trickled from an indention near its right ear, while several deep gashes and bruises covered its torso. The thick tail looked like it had been lanced by something painfully sharp; here and there were holes that ran straight through the bones, clean pierced in one case.
'Get away from that thing now. I mean it.'
His younger brother and his best friend looked at him in confusion. At least until they were dragged away bodily by Piccolo and Tenshinhan, who had also seen the fighter.
The Namekian's scowl deepened. 'A changeling. Damn, they just keep coming.'
From the other pod, Goku, Kuririn and Vegeta looked up at the sound of the name. Three names now raced through their heads. Frieza, Koola, Cold… Praying to Kami that it would remain out cold for a while, the two Saiya-jin and human warriors crossed over to the other crater, Vegeta still cradling the body of Kitara in his arms.
'Uh, dad? What's with the freaky silence? And what's a changeling, anyway?' Goten was completely baffled. The thing looked pretty harmless, and beaten to hell and back, not to put too fine a point on it. What was the big deal?
'It's one of Frieza's people. The one I fought on Namek when I became a Super Saiya-jin for the first time. But most of his race are long gone; Koola and King Cold died nearly twenty years ago.' Goku's expression grew harsh. 'Apparently some did survive.'
'We could kill it now pretty easily. It's unconscious; no resistance, right?' Kuririn sounded almost hopeful. Unsurprising, since he had met his death at Frieza's hands. He'd never returned the favour, either. Still, it was never too late to correct an old mistake…He placed his hands by his side and started to power up.
All eyes turned to Vegeta in complete disbelief. The kamehameha wave Kuririn had prepared flared, then died as he dropped his hands. Tenshinhan and Piccolo looked aghast. The Son males wore identical expressions of bafflement, and even Trunks looked askance at the sanity of his father's decision.
'The changeling will not be killed.'
Gohan was the first to speak out. 'Vegeta, a little detail you might have missed; that thing is a changeling. Frieza was a changeling. And unless you forgot, he killed you and Kuririn…'
'My memory is working fine, thank you.'
He hadn't finished. '…And you want to keep it alive?! Does anyone else think this is insane?'
The prince of the Saiya-jin looked down at the unconscious body in his arms. 'We keep it alive until we find out what the hell it's doing here. Then you can kill it any way you want. But not before then, CLEAR?'
'I still think it's a bad idea.' Gohan didn't have the energy to deal with Vegeta once he'd made a decision. Tenshinhan and Kuririn looked at each other, then took off into the air. Piccolo, Goku and Gohan followed suit. Goten and Trunks shrugged and picked up the changeling between them, flying next to Vegeta as he held the female's body close to him.
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'That's a changeling?' Bulma peered into the first regeneration tank installed in the Capsule Corps medical unit. She had guessed there would be an arrival on Earth since her husband and son had taken off so fast, but she had never expected a changeling, especially not in this condition. 'Eewww. Weird.'
'This coming from someone who said Frieza was cute.' Yamucha pushed in beside her to get a better look at the floating body in the tank, slowly healing in the synthetic DNA surrounding it.
'You're not gonna stop reminding me of that any time soon, are you?' She tapped at the controls, satisfied that the changeling was healing fine before moving across to the other tank and shoving her husband out of the way. Vegeta hadn't moved away from the female since she had been isolated in the tank over half an hour ago. It concerned her to say the least. The girl was a Saiya-jin, but she couldn't be any older than Trunks, twenty at most. To have sustained those injuries and survive…The odd thing was; Vegeta appeared to know the girl. He called her Kitara, his mother's name. It meant he either knew her parents or she was connected to the Saiya-jin royal family in some way.
Putting the thoughts out of her head for the moment, she ran a brief diagnostic on the girl's injuries. The slashes and her side wound were steadily knitting together, while the bruises were starting to fade. She would be out of the tank within fifteen minutes at the most.
'I still don't get it.' Goku peered into Kitara's tank, then looked over towards the changeling. 'Why would a Saiya-jin possibly be travelling with a changeling? And how come she's so young? I thought most of our race died out, but she doesn't look like she survived the destruction of Vegeta-sei.'
'She didn't.' Vegeta broke from his vigil beside the tank.
'How do you know her anyway Dad? Was she a friend of yours or something?' Trunks was still staring in fascination at the changeling. Having only ever heard stories of Frieza and Koola from his father and Goku, he was eager to learn more about them firsthand.
'You'll find out soon enough, brat. Now stop asking me any more idiotic questions.'
'I still don't see why we're helping the changeling.' Gohan remained adamant on this topic. 'It's got enough power to destroy this entire planet. Look at what Frieza did to Namek; he would have done the same to Earth without any remorse. Keeping it alive is dangerous.'
A loud beep distracted them from the discussion. The fluid drained out from the tank as Kitara started to stir. The Z fighters looked at one another and opted to leave until she was fully conscious.
The feeling of being watched was the first thing the young Saiya-jin recognised, the slight nausea from being in a regen-tank being the next. Cautiously opening her eyes, she took in her surroundings in a sweep of her head. She was in some kind of lab, still inside the regen-tank. Outside the glass dome, she made out several shapes, one of which was manipulating the control panel on the tank. The dome hissed open and she shakily stepped out of the machine, the cool air hitting her skin and making her shiver.
The one who opened the tank wrapped something round her shoulders, warming her body slightly. She looked up into the face of a female, short green hair falling to her shoulders. A pair of blue eyes gazed warmly back at her, her lips forming a smile. 'You're lucky to be alive. We managed to heal you and the changeling we found in the other pod. It should be waking up soon as well.'
'Thank you, um…'
'My name's Bulma. You're Kitara, right?'
She looked confused. 'Who told you that?'
'Goku said it was your name…'
'Goku? As in Son Goku!?' Kitara suddenly looked shocked. 'The legendary Super Saiya-jin?'
'That's Goku. He and the others are quite keen to see you, provided that's ok with you.'
'Y-yeah, no problem!' She looked over towards the door as Bulma ushered a group of people into the lab. Nine in total, she recognised three as being human, though one had three eyes. A little unusual, but then again, the Bas-jin had four eyes, so it didn't faze her. The tallest of them was Namekian, dressed in a cape and turban. The others she was unsure of, but they appeared to be either human or Saiya-jin.
Bulma led the introductions. 'Tall Green and Moody over there is known as Piccolo, the resident Namek. The short one's called Kuririn, the three-eyed guy is Tenshinhan and the one with the scars is Yamucha; they're all human.' She gestured towards the remaining fighters. 'This is Son Goku, the two black-haired ones next to him are his sons, Gohan and Goten. They're both half-Saiya-jin, half-human.' As normal, Goku offered a cheery little wave and a grin as a gesture of goodwill. 'Nice to meet you.'
The human woman pointed out the next in line. 'This one is called Trunks; he's my son and half-Saiya-jin as well. Last up is…'
'Vegeta.' Kitara stared at him unwaveringly. Vegeta was completely oblivious to this, mainly because he was staring straight back at her. Bulma trailed off as she looked from one to the other.
Neither of them moved nor spoke for a few seconds. Finally Vegeta broke the silence. 'It…it is you…I wasn't mistaken?'
She shook her head. 'No…it's me.' Her eyes shimmered slightly with tears. 'This…isn't some kind of dream o-or something?…'
'No…I'm here.' He offered her a crooked smile, one which none of the others had ever seen before. He held his arms out to her. 'Kitara…'
She stopped fighting back and let the tears fall as she ran headlong into his arms. 'Vegeta…TOUSAAN!!!'
Simultaneously, nine jaws hit the floor as she sobbed in Vegeta's arms.
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