To call it an accident was wrong. The move had been calculated, and planned from the very beginning, though no one would know it. To the average spectator, it was nothing more than a very, very bad accident. The metal of the long transport convoy was a twisted fiery wreck, with dents and bumps along the previously unscarred surface. Several bodies of soldiers lay strewn across the road, and a few others were struggling to pick themselves up. It was a scene of pure chaos, but it had been planned nonetheless. All of the pieces had fallen into place, and now it was time for the show to begin. Metal began to shift and groan, and a loud pounding noise came from inside the caravan. With every pound a new welt appeared in the white metal, and the hinges of a door began to come loose. Several soldiers picked themselves up off the ground, pulling up their weapons and muttering amongst themselves in a panic.
"Someone stop it."
"It's going to get out."
Worried hushes spread throughout those left breathing, and a few of them backed up as a final pound echoed from inside the large metal container. All was silent for a few moments. And then there was a flash of light and the reinforced, twenty pound steel wall of the transport was sent flying into the air. All of the soldiers backed up, and finally, a figure emerged. It was dressed in all white, bound with heavy black restraints. His ankles were shackled together, his arms bolted across his waist, and even his mouth was bound in cloth and black belts. He jumped down from the side of the ruined metal caravan door, and landed in the mud, looking up at the soldiers who stared at him, awestruck. He was loose. And he was pissed.
Son Gohan had seen better days.
"Saiyans?" Videl snorted, lifting a plate off the table, putting her other hand on her hips. "Are you still going on about that?" She turned around and walked back towards the sink, setting the metal dish in, and flicking on the water to let it run. "You really need to find a better use for your time."
The group of people she sat with seemed to mutter in agreement but Videl knew better than to take their words for it. The Saiyan myth was after all, a very popular dinner story, but sometimes she worried that her friends and co-workers took it too far. She lifted a few of the plates off the table, and frowned. Of course she understood why they talked about it non-stop. It was a tantalizing story, and it hit home with them rather personally. However Videl was an educated young lady, and didn't really like to engage in myths and legends. The Saiyans were a dead race. That was that. So what if they were one of the most powerful races to have ever roamed free space? So what if legend had it that it would only take one of them to wipe out the species of an entire planet? Who cared? They were gone, and there was no reason to keep talking on about them.
"I'm just saying," one of her co-workers, a man with long black hair and heavy scars on his face spoke up, leaning forward. "That if there were some Saiyans left alive, that it would make a whole lot more sense of this situation."
"No, Yamucha, it wouldn't," Videl said. " It would raise a whole lot more questions, like why are they still alive, how are they still alive, and who knew about it?"
"Videl, come on, you're missing the point."
""I don't think she is," the shortest of her companions, man with a head full of messy black hair with small beady eyes spun a bottle on its side. "I think you are."
"See? Kuririn understands," Videl gestured, shaking her head.
"Tienshinhan, come on, you get what I'm saying, right?" Yamucha said, reaching forward towards the tall three-eyed man, sitting quietly against his chair. He grunted a bit and turned his head. Yamucha sighed and folded his arms over the table. "Well I think it makes sense."
"Well," one of the last two of their gang said, looking at his nails. "I understand how tempting it is, for you to think that it was Saiyans who abducted your girlfriend, but you really need to let it go."
"Oh shut up, 17," Yamucha turned his head, leaning into his arm.
17 laughed, leaning back on his chair, and tapping a finger on his chair. His twin sister walked over, and leaned over, resting her arms down over Kuririn's head, who didn't object and simply kept spinning his bottle. "18, you agree with me, don't you?"
"Saiyans are myths and legends," she said, sighing into Kuririn's hair.
Videl sighed and shook her head. "Yamucha, we all miss Bulma and Chi-Chi, but it's not going to help anyone by fantasizing about dead races," she walked over and put a hand on Yamucha's shoulder. "We'll find them both, I promise."
Yamucha sighed and shook his head, before standing up. "Come on, Mr. Pilot. Let's go see if we can get this hunk of junk back on course."
Kuririn sighed and stood up, stretching his arms over his head. "Alright, alright. I'm coming," he turned around and 18 placed a kiss on top his forehead before sitting down in his seat, lazily spinning the bottle he left behind. The two men left the room and Videl sighed, leaning on the wall. It had been nine years, since they had lost Bulma and Chi-Chi. The eight of them had all set out from earth about eleven years ago, on a transport ship. Videl had only been six at the time, but she had refused to be left alone while the only guardians she had shipped off into space without her. They all had taken up work doing whatever they could, but they found they mostly took up the roles of couriers, which suited Videl just fine.
Being earthlings meant they were mostly responsible for taking up odd jobs, and doing the work that no one else wanted to do. It was the entire basis of their economy, after all. When the alien alliance who had found their planet, they had declared it a ball of mud with no value. And in typical earth fashion, before the planet was destroyed for good, someone said: "Hey. We're a mud ball planet with no value. Let's make money off that"
And so they did. Earth became a neutral planet, a place for commerce and overlords and owners of planets to meet up and do business, sign treaties, and do other dirty business they could do nowhere else. A lot of Earthlings set out for space, to make a living and help their friends and family back home. Videl and the others had been some of them. The planet they were headed for was a low class, worthless little place in the boondocks of the galaxy. But that seemed to be where the best business was. They were the places that needed supplies the most, and a certain sense of dignity and heroics drew Yamucha and the others to places that would appreciate it the most. Which again, suited Videl just fine. She sighed as she looked up at the data screen, which told them their estimated arrival, and looked back and forth between her companions.
Her thoughts turned to the idea of Saiyans. They had been some of the most feared and powerful creatures in the universe before one of the many Galactic rulers had destroyed them for good. Freeza was one of the better-known rulers, and was mostly avoided by any other sections. Of course, being from Earth and being a neutral planet and ship meant they were often roped into doing work for some of Freeza's men, as well as anyone else who paid them. Saiyans were perpetrated as the scourge of the galaxy. Mindless beasts that only sought destruction and violence, and took no greater pleasure than in ending a life. Still you'd have to be a moron to believe everything you hear from that propaganda. However the fact remained that there was no one to counter such statements and no one knew anything about the long dead Saiyan race. They were destroyed long before Videl was born, about a decade earlier actually, and so as a child they had occupied her thoughts quite often, as imaginary monsters were wont to do.
Videl sat up, as she felt the strange lurching motion of the ship landing. 18 stood up, smiling and leaning on her brother's chair. "Finally, on a planet. I've been going stir crazy in here. It will be nice to get out and have an open sky above us for once."
"That's assuming the air is even breathable here." 17 said, looking up at her.
"It is," Tienshinhan stood up, looked down at the two. "Now hurry up and unload. We've got a drop to make."
"Yeah, yeah, we know." The twins left the room and Videl grabbed her jacket off the wall.
"You're coming this time, Videl?"
"Yup." Videl said, sliding her jacket over her arms. "Gonna see if there's a town and see if I can't find any more supplies. We're going to need to restock soon anyhow, and so I want to see if there are any unique things here for us to try."
"Alright, don't wander off too far, and be careful."
Videl nodded and ran down the stairs towards the cargo bay. A large pair of bay doors had been opened and 17 and 18 were both unloading large heavy crates off the ship. The two were androids and by far the strongest of the group, and were mostly there for grunt work. The more delicate operations were left to the rest of the group. Videl sidestepped the two; backing up down the ramp onto the dusty surface of the new planet they found herself on. She smiled and shaded her face, lifting her head skywards. It definitely felt good to be outside again.
"Careful, Vi-Vi," 17 said, walking past her, a huge crate on one shoulder. "I hear there are more than a few feds on this planet right now. Something went south earlier, so try not to get arrested."
"Oh right, it's me you've got to worry about getting arrested. You two could look at something funny and somehow end up doing something illegal."
Videl smiled and waved. "I'm going into town! Don't leave without me!" With those words she slipped off, taking off along the dirt road that spiraled through the hills. It sloped downwards, giving her a view of the town below, and she frowned at the sight. Even from the distance she had left she could see it was just as 17 had said, the place was crawling with feds. Soldiers of all types were swarming through the streets and guard vehicles patrolled up and down. Videl slowed to a walk as she entered the streets, falling into line with the other civilians. When she came to a large crowd she stopped and looked back and forth between them all, and turned to one elderly old woman with purple skin and long ears.
"What's going on?"
"Oh, it's quite dreadful, my dear," the woman said, frowning. "A federal ship, one of Freeza's we think, crash landed here. Apparently a convict got loose. You ought to be careful."
Videl smiled at the woman kindly. "I will, don't you worry about me," she eyed the feds a bit warily and made her way through the crowd. The shops all appeared to be open, though most of the citizens were all out in the streets. Videl spotted one particular shop; a clothes shop and she thought it over. She really shouldn't spend money on clothes-even though some new gloves would come in handy since she had worn out her last three on Tienshinhan's punching bag- but there was no harm in looking was there? She decided there was not, and made her way into the store.
The door creaked open; tapping a bell hanging overhead and Videl stepped into the musty old store, that was only illuminated by the light coming in through the windows. She looked around and noticed that the place was deserted. Videl coughed and waved in front of her face to try to clear some of the air of the dust that filled the place and Videl had to wonder how long it had been since the owners of the store had been introduced to a broom.
"Hello?" She called, maneuvering her way through the tables full of dusty rags and headscarves. There were bracelets made of rope, and skirts with small metal coins sewn into them that shimmered and knocked against one another in the wind, making a chiming noise. One word to describe it was quaint. Videl loved it. "Hello?" She called again, looking around the room. "Is anyone here?"
There was a soft grunt that came from deeper within the store and Videl turned towards the source of the noise. It was coming from behind a curtain, towards the back, in what Videl could only assume to be a dressing room of some sort. She frowned and made her way towards it. "Hello?" She tried one more time as she approached the curtain. "I'm sorry, are you closed? The door was open…" Videl pulled the curtain back and her words died in her mouth.
Inside was a boy, who couldn't have been any older than her. He was dressed in a white jacket, with thick black belts looped around it, which hung loosely across his chest. Heavy, very heavy, black restraints lined the floor around him, and the boy's hands and feet were both shackled together, held together with a long chain. The aforementioned restraints had actually broken through the floor around him, and he was prying the belts loose that held the fabric of his collar around his mouth. Videl could only stare at him, shocked. In an instant, he realized her presence. Videl gasped and lurched back, preparing to scream, but before she could properly defend herself, he was on top of her. He knocked her to the floor, and pinned her there, one of his shackled hands clamped tightly over her mouth, and the other pinning one of her wrists to the floor.
He was glaring at her, and Videl panicked, struggling underneath him. However he was strong. Very strong. She couldn't move an inch. He just stared down at her, analyzing her with black eyes. Videl wasn't able to look away from those eyes, until something flickering behind the boy caught her eye. She looked up past him and noticed just what was flickering back and forth. A tail. A long brown, and furry tail. Videl's eyes went wide and she felt herself shaking beneath his grip. Black eyes, black hair and a long tail, like a monkey's. No, no it wasn't possible. They didn't exist. They were all dead. There was no way there could be a Saiyan sitting on top of her!
They boy stared at her for what felt like an eternity. And then, finally, after what could have been a lifetime, he lifted his head and looked towards the door, looking anxious. He jumped up, off of Videl, and turned around, bolting towards the back room of the store. Videl gasped for breath and lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling. She was unable to move for the longest time, and kept heaving deep breaths. She was only vaguely aware of a few officers picking her up off the ground and shaking her shoulders asking desperately which way he had gone. She looked up vaguely, and pointed towards the back room. Instantly half the officers were gone, and Videl was left with a few more, who were helping her up. They took her outside of the shop and sat her down on the stairs, and Videl was still hardly paying attention to what was happening. It wasn't until there was an officer staring her in the face that she came back to reality.
"Miss? Did you hear me?" The man asked, leaning in closer in front of her. "What did you see of him? Tell me how much you saw."
Videl stared at him, for a long while before answering very slowly. "His face," she whispered. "All I saw was his face."
The officer looked suspiciously relieved, and patted her shoulder. "Alright, good," he said, standing up. "Well don't worry, you're safe now."
But somehow, that didn't make Videl feel better at all.
"Videl? Are you okay?"
Videl looked up from the pillow she had buried her face in, in her bunk and turned away, nodding slowly. Yamucha stepped in, any way and sat on the bed next to her, putting a hand on her back. She lowered her head back into the pillow as he patted her back a little bit.
"Must have been scary, huh?" He asked, sighing looking away. "I'm sorry, Videl. Someone should have gone with you," he whispered, looking over at her, and Videl took a deep breath through the pillow. "And before you give me the speech, I already know you can take care of yourself. I just think it would be a good idea if from now one someone goes with you, just in case something like this happens again-"
"He was a Saiyan."
"I know you- … What?" Yamucha's voice was quiet, suddenly.
"That boy who attacked me. He was a Saiyan."
It was quiet for a long time before Yamucha spoke up again. "He wasn't a Saiyan, Videl."
"He was!" Videl sat up, rocking back onto her knees. "He had black hair, black eyes-"
"So? I have black hair and-"
"He had a tail!" Videl said, dropping her arms exasperatedly. "A long brown tail, like a monkey's. Just like a Saiyan!"
"You were seeing things, Vi. You were probably under a lot of stress, and your mind just made things up."
"No, I'm telling you, he was Saiyan! When they found me, this guard asked me how much of him I saw. He wanted to know if I had seen his tail, or not. And I did. That boy is a Saiyan, Yamucha. I know what I saw!"
Yamucha was quiet again, and Videl sighed, letting her arms drop again.
"You don't believe me."
"No, I do."
"You're sure, right?" Yamucha leaned in a little bit. "You're sure you saw what you saw?"
"I'm absolutely sure, Yamucha. He was a Saiyan."
Yamucha grinned and sat back. "So the feds are keeping Saiyans they don't want the public to know about? That's really interesting, Vi."
"I assume we'll be snooping?"
"I'm sorry…" Zarbon hissed, through clenched teeth, his fists curled dangerously and his hair practically bristling at the words. He held up a hand, pinching his pointer finger and thumb together as if the very act would help him enunciate clearer. "What exactly do you mean… escaped?"
The scaly alien in front of him tense, and gulped rather visibly, and it made Zarbon tense even more. He didn't like the looks of this. "Sir… I mean to say that… Subject SG002 has… well… broken free."
"Broken free?" Zarbon said, his teeth still clenched unbelievably tight. "Tell me, how does one 'break free' from a ten ton, reinforced steel prison surrounded by our best battalion of guards? Tell me that, because, honestly, I'm curious."
"Well sir, there was a… um… there was an accident."
"Well I would hope so, because if you let him out on purpose your death would not only be violent, it would be slow and bloody, now why don't you skip through all this nonsense and tell me what the hell happened!"
"Another ship sir, it crashed into ours. We were forced to land on one of Lord Freeza's planets, and it was then that it… escaped."
Zarbon growled, and turned around, beginning to pace back and forth angrily. "Do you have any idea what this means? If we don't find him, it will not only be the loss of million of Zeni and over two cycles of research, we'll have to torch the whole damn planet, just to ensure he isn't found by anyone else! Do you know how much this is going to cost, commander? Do you have ANY idea what this has done?"
"Sir, please…" The alien officer pleaded, shamelessly. "We still have SG001 and SG003, not to mention the other two!"
Zarbon halted in his tracks and turned to look at the officer who was cowering before him. He took a step down off the platform he stood on and walked up to him. "… I am going to make this simple, commander," he said, in a quiet and dangerous tone. "I am going to make this so simple that even you can understand why THAT logic is more flawed than your ugly skin."
He took one step closer to him, and grabbed the officer's arm and yanked it clear off at the shoulder. A howl of pain was released from the alien as he grabbed at the stub, and purple blood leaked from the wound. Zarbon stared down at him mercilessly and held the arm in his hand in front of the alien, almost tauntingly. As soon as the cries of pain came to a halt, Zarbon opened his mouth to speak again.
"It's not so bad, commander. After all, you've still got your other arm and both your legs. That makes this…" He said holding up the appendage. "Unimportant, doesn't it?"
"I… I understand, sir…"
"Do you? Good," Zarbon crushed the arm in his hands, and dropped the mangled appendage to the floor. He turned around and climbed the steps.
"I'm going to report to Lord Freeza," Zarbon said, looking down over his shoulder. "I'll leave your fate to him. If you're very lucky, perhaps you'll be spared. You are just the messenger after all," he turned and climbed the stairs again, clenching his fists. If he was lucky he too would be spared. While he didn't exactly believe in killing the messenger it didn't mean Freeza didn't. He was bound to be punished for such bad news, even though it had nothing to do with him. He'd have to take responsibility anyways. Lord Freeza wasn't very forgiving of people who tried to shift blame, and even if it wasn't in his sector, he'd still have to find someway to accept responsibility. Otherwise Freeza would do it for him. Zarbon climbed the steps quickly to the look out tower, and knocked on the door quietly. "Lord Freeza? It's Zarbon. I have grave news."
"Come in, Zarbon."
Zarbon took a deep breath and entered the room quietly, bowing as he did. "I have news from the convoy that was transporting subject SG002."
"Grave news," Freeza repeated, eying him from his chair. Zarbon did not rise from his bow.
"I'm afraid so. The ship was struck, and the subject has… escaped."
"Yes, Lord Freeza. We're searching for him now, though so far our efforts are in vain," Zarbon took a deep breath. "I will personally take responsibility, Lord Freeza. I should have been the one to oversee the caravan."
"Noble, but unnecessary," Freeza said, lazily. "Bring me the ones responsible for this. They will pay. And Zarbon, I am putting you in charge of finding him. If you cannot find him within twenty-four hours… then burn him out. Destroy the planet. I don't care if you bring him back dead, mangled and bloated from space, just bring him back."
"Yes, Lord Freeza. I will leave immediately."
"And Zarbon… If you do fail, I will have you take responsibility."
"He will either be dead or in your custody by tomorrow, Lord Freeza."
"Good to hear it," Freeza turned back to the window and Zarbon took a deep breath, before standing and turning to leave. If he could give proof that the boy was dead, that would be good enough for Freeza. A corpse wouldn't even be necessary, and he saw no point and searching for him. The boy was crafty and would not be found within twenty-four hours. The planet had to go. And that was that.