Chapter 1: Separate Lives
A lavender-haired teenager ran as fast as her legs could carry her through the corridors of a large ship. She shot a ray gun at the armored soldiers who tried to stop her. She continued running even after her lungs began to burn. She ran all the way until she came to what looked like a garage door. She pressed the button to open the large door. She leaned against the wall as the lights went out in the hallway. The red emergency lights soon flickered on just as the door opened enough for the girl to slide through.
She entered the hangar of the ship and glanced around quickly. It was almost completely devoid of any type of ships. She found one small space pod sitting off to the side. Footsteps could be heard from the hallway behind her. She turned and shot the lock on the door. It slid shut quickly. Putting the gun away, she ran to the lone space pod. The pod did not seem to be functional.
Shit! How is it possible that nothing in this damn hangar works! The teenager tried her best to get it open. She looked up quickly as she heard the hangar's door being pried open. She began almost begging the pod to give a sign of any sort of life. The second it started, the hangar door was opened and soldiers flooded in. Before the space pod could close, a chubby pink hand yanked the teenager out by her neck and threw her to the metal floor.
"Thirty-three men," an effeminate, yet strangely masculine voice said. "That's a new record for you, Bulma."
The teenager, known as Bulma, simply smirked as she rubbed her neck. She glared up at the owner of the raspy voice. "You know me, Frieza. I only live to impress," she said. Her words earned a slap from the chubby pink hand.
"You will address Lord Frieza properly, girl!" a fat, pink, spiked blob with purple lips yelled down at her, spraying her with his saliva.
Bulma held her cheek, still feeling the sting of the slap. She could already imagine the enormous bruise that was starting to form. She heard footsteps coming towards her and looked up at the one known as Frieza. He was small and did not look intimidating in the least. However, Bulma could feel his powerful aura. She knew he was not to be messed with, but she paid that no mind.
"Dodoria, what have I said about striking her like that?" Frieza glared at Dodoria. The fat one straightened up immediately, mumbling his apologies. Frieza rolled his eyes and looked back down at Bulma. "Stand up, Bulma."
She begrudgingly got to her feet, spitting blood at Dodoria's feet. She smiled as he growled obscenities at her. Then Bulma turned her sight back on Frieza. She was only a little taller than him, but that was not saying much as she was in no way statuesque. She watched as his eyes raked over her body with intrigue.
"You do know how much I hate to punish you, don't you?" Frieza's eyes made it back up to her face.
Suddenly feeling dirty under his gaze, Bulma shrugged and crossed her arms. "I stopped caring long ago, Frieza. Nothing you do fazes me anymore."
Frieza simply smiled at her. He snapped his fingers and two guards grabbed Bulma by the arms. She already knew where she was headed. She would be taken down to the bowels of the ship, stripped bare, and hung by her arms. After that she would be sprayed with hot water until her skin was raw and then whipped. That was her punishment for trying to escape.
That was her life.
A small girl with wild hair that was wild and unruly was squatting over a curious sight. She was looking down at the body of one of the inhabitants of the planet. There was a hole blasted through the native's red head. From the looks of it, what had been inside this person's head was incinerated from the blast. The girl reached forward to touch the purple stuff that oozed around the sides of the hole. She'd seen plenty of dead bodies in her young life, but this particular species had the weirdest way of dying.
"Kinomi! Don't touch that! Who knows what kinds of diseases these creatures carry!" a gruff voice yelled from her left.
The girl stood up. "I just wanted to see what was inside, Nappa!" Kinomi crossed her arms and walked over to the much larger man, stepping carelessly on the dead bodies surrounding the area. He made her look smaller than she actually was. "Are we done here? These guys stink and my nose is starting to hurt."
Nappa sighed. Why did I get stuck babysitting today? He watched Kinomi rub her nose. She was only 15 but she was a very competent fighter, if not a little careless. She literally had to have the sense beaten into her by her eldest brother.
"Come on, Kinomi. Let's regroup." Nappa took to the sky. The young girl followed after him.
As they flew, she did twists and turns around him while he just flew straight. She stopped right in front of him, nearly scaring him out of the sky. She just laughed and continued flying. Nappa rolled his eyes and followed after, growling low in his throat. They soon came to an area where eight circular pods had created eight separate craters. Four other people were already milling about the area. Nappa and Kinomi landed next to them.
"Kakarrot, do you always have to yell?"
"Well, I'm just happy to see him is all. You never know what could happen while we're separated, Raditz."
"Leave him alone, Raditz. Kakarrot's just a naturally caring guy."
"Don't take up for him, Chichi. You're just as bad."
"Hey! We can't all be bloodthirsty mongrels like you, Turles. I'll never understand how you and Raditz even come from the same gene pool as Kakarrot. Especially you, Turles. You're his identical twin. You have the exact same DNA. I guess you're just from the evil side of the uterus," the girl with a long black ponytail said. She was older than Kinomi and smiled when she saw the younger girl.
"And Kakarrot is from the stupid side," Turles shot back. He and Kakarrot were indeed identical, but were as different as night and day. Looks-wise, the only way one could tell them apart was their difference in skin tone; Turles was a bit more tan than Kakarrot. That and their dispositions were radically different. While Turles was a perpetual frowner, Kakarrot wore a smile most of the time and was not the sharpest tool in the shed.
"I'm telling you Kakarrot was dropped on his head as a baby, Chichi. That's the only plausible explanation," Raditz joked.
"I'm still here, guys," Kakarrot said. He turned his attention back to Nappa and Kinomi. "Vegeta's not with you two?"
Kinomi unfurled her tail from around her waist. "Obviously not. He's off somewhere with MY twin; probably teaching the idiot how to make a proper kill," she said with a snort.
"Kinomi, you should not speak of your brothers in such a way," Nappa said sternly.
"Oh please, Nappa! We all know Tarble's hopeless. He's more interested in his machines and books than fighting. What good's that stuff gonna do for him?" she complained.
"A lot more good than running your trap will. One of you has to at least use your brain." A shadow appeared over Kinomi. She glanced over her right shoulder to see both her brothers descending. Both of them were taller than her, but still shorter than the rest of the Saiyans except Chichi. Both had hair that like hers; black hair that appeared almost brown in the light and that defied gravity, the only difference being that Kinomi had a lot more hair. The one who had spoken was the tallest and the oldest: Vegeta. Kinomi stuck her nose in the air and looked away from her brothers. Tarble walked over to the group while Vegeta stomped over to his own pod.
"How did it go, Tarble?" Chichi asked.
Tarble shrugged, glancing over at his brother. "Not too well, I suppose. Geta's a bit angry with me," he said quietly. He felt a hand go upside the back of his head and flinched. He glared over at his sister. "What was that for?" he yelled at her.
Kinomi crossed her arms. "Don't shrink up like that! If you messed up, so what? Geta isn't gonna kill you for that!" she yelled back.
"Hey!" Everyone turned to look at the man in question. "Shut up! Get in your pods! And you two, stop calling me that!" Vegeta glared at his younger brother and sister. Tarble nodded quickly and Kinomi stuck her tongue out at him.
Nappa walked over to Vegeta's pod as the group dispersed to head to their own pods. "Should I alert Frieza of our return?" he asked.
"Hn," Vegeta said as he sat down roughly in the space pod. Nappa walked away as the door began to close.
As the other seven pods took off into the sky, Vegeta crossed his arms. He always wanted to be the last off the planet. Nappa fought adamantly against it since he was still technically Vegeta's bodyguard. One look from the diminutive one settled that argument quickly enough.
Vegeta fashioned himself the leader of the Saiyans. They were the last eight of their race and he was their prince. He had Frieza to thank for that. Vegeta was not so blind as to know how his planet had come to be ashes and space dust. He was still young by normal standards; he was only three years older than his siblings. At 18, he was the most powerful Saiyan left alive.
And he was in the clutches of Frieza.
Frieza believed he had the Saiyans' loyalty. The elder prince had been on his very first mission as the tyrant destroyed his home planet. Somehow, Vegeta's father sent his youngest children along with the princess' playmate away, crammed uncomfortably in a space pod. The twins and Chichi had only been 3 when they were sent barreling out into space on their own. Whether it was by fate or sheer dumb luck, the single pod crashed into a planet Vegeta was purging along with Nappa and the three brothers. Even as a 5-year-old, Vegeta had the soul of an old man. He immediately understood that he had to look out for his siblings. That's exactly what he did.
Though Frieza did not like it, he saw the benefit in letting the three stowaway Saiyans live. If anything the galaxy's oppressor thought it beneficial that there were three more Saiyans he could add to his force. Plus, they were all so young and impressionable. They could be molded to be whatever he wanted them to be.
The prince would not allow that to happen. Vegeta was very cunning and smart. He had always had a penchant for mischief. He allowed Frieza to believe whatever he wanted to believe about the way the eight-man Saiyan detail worked. If Frieza wanted to believe he had eight loyal mercenaries, Vegeta would allow him to. In reality, Vegeta was simply biding his time. He did not know how long it would take, but until his own heart stopped beating he was going to do everything in his power to make sure Frieza's stopped first.
What Frieza did not realize was that Vegeta did not just command seven other people. He commanded thousands.
Time. All I need is time, the young prince thought as his ship pulled away from the planet's gravity.
"Geta, can you turn on the stasis now? I'm sleepy," Tarble's voice came in through his scouter.
Vegeta grunted his response. Usually Tarble could fall sleep by himself. Whenever he asked for stasis, something was usually bothering him. Vegeta pressed the button that controlled his pod's sleeping gas. He made a mental note to have Nappa talk to Tarble about whatever was troubling him. There would be no stasis sleep for Vegeta, though. He had more pressing matters to think about.
Bulma sat in a marble tub filled with water that was tinted blue from the various healing ointments put inside it. She stared straight ahead, hugging her knees to her chest. A handmaid sat outside the tub beside her. She was stirring a mixture of more ointments and salts. The maid took some into her palm. She looked at Bulma's blank face. Then the girl began rubbing the mixture on Bulma's back. Her back was covered in several bloody lashes from a whip. As the maid rubbed the ointment on Bulma's back, she noticed how Bulma did not even seem to notice.
"Miss, maybe it would be better if you stopped trying to escape. Being hurt like this cannot be good for the mind," the maid said quietly.
Bulma hummed low in her chest. She moved her vibrant lavender hair from her left shoulder to her right shoulder. The maid could see where, for whatever reason, there was a patch of hair missing. It was almost a perfect square. As long as she could remember being with Frieza, Bulma had always been missing her hair from that spot.
"Maybe he'll kill me one day. Maybe if I do something so awful that he can't overlook it, he'll finally just kill me," Bulma said quietly. "Do you think he would, Rika?"
Rika, the maid, sighed as she continued rubbing the ointment into Bulma's wounds. "Lord Frieza would never kill you, miss. Lord Frieza thinks of you as... special," she said.
Bulma let out a dry, scratchy laugh. "Special, huh? I think it's more like he sees me as a tool; a means to an end. I make him money, Rika. I keep him SAFE. That's all that matters to LORD Frieza. He is no lord of mine," she said gruffly.
Rika sighed as she finished treating Bulma's wounds. She watched as the wounds began to close, leaving no traces that they were ever there. She stood and retrieved a bath towel. Bulma stood and allowed herself to be wrapped in it as she stepped out of the bath.
Bulma was a prisoner of the space tyrant Frieza. She had been taken from her home world of Aoi when she was only 5. That was right before Frieza destroyed her planet. Her people had tried to bargain with the evil overlord by giving Bulma over to him in exchange for their loyalty. Frieza agreed and took the little girl from them. Either to show Bulma how powerful he was or just because he felt like it, he destroyed her planet while Bulma watched.
She made a vow that day. As a 5-year-old, she vowed to kill Frieza and avenge her people. She did not know how she would do it. She did not know when she would do it. All she knew was that Frieza would pay with his life.
Bulma was not disgruntled at all by the punishment she had been dealt for trying to escape. She had lost count as to how many times she'd tried to escape during the past 13 years of her life. At 18, she was still determined as ever to get away from the man. She had actually made it to another planet on her second attempt. However, it was planet that was firmly in Frieza's grasp. She'd been turned over faster than she could climb out of the space pod she'd stolen.
She smirked to herself. That beating had been particularly severe. I wonder what got him so mad about that, she thought. The planet had appeared to be like a cold planet. She'd later learned that the planet was Frieza's distant relative's home world. It had been the worst possible planet for her to escape to. The people there were just as bloodthirsty as Frieza was.
Bulma had long ago realized that Frieza would never kill her. He would beat her so badly that her vision would run red, but he would never strike her to kill her. She'd come to realize that Frieza needed her. She was extremely valuable to him. Anyone who made Frieza a lot of money was valuable and indispensable. Bulma had a gift that was both troublesome and beneficial. It was a gift that if in the wrong hands could be very dangerous.
It was most definitely in the WRONG hands.
"Miss?" Rika's voice interrupted Bulma's thoughts.
"Would you like anything else?"
"No. You may go." Bulma slipped into a white nightie and got under her covers. It was not nearly late enough for her to retire, but she wanted to be alone for the rest of the night. She heard Rika turn out the light and leave the room quietly. From then on, Bulma tried to sleep.
"That girl will be the death of me," Frieza said while rubbing his temples. He was watching his soldiers clear the dead victims of Bulma away. "I treat her with nothing but care and she constantly pulls tricks like this. Perhaps if I just chain her to a wall in the cells of the ship she'll finally become more obedient."
"That is a good idea, Lord Frieza. Maybe a week in anything less than the luxury you give her will smarten her up. Show her what she's being saved from," Zarbon, Frieza's right-hand, suggested.
Frieza shook his head. "Such a thing could break the girl. Her mind is much too precious to be tampered with. Besides, now that these resistance groups have been popping up out of the woodwork, I need her talents in order to flush them out. I think she realizes that she's indispensable and she's grown bolder than ever at that knowledge. Teenagers..." Frieza groaned.
Zarbon took note of how much Frieza sounded like an annoyed parent when it came to Bulma. He knew his master well enough to know that he cared not for the girl herself, but rather for the valued ability she possessed. There was only one other Frieza favored as he did Bulma. As far as Zarbon was concerned, that person was the bane of his existence.
That person was the Saiyan prince, Vegeta.
"By the way, has Vegeta and his ragtag group reported back in, Zarbon?" Frieza asked almost as an afterthought.
Speak of the devil, Zarbon thought with a roll of his eyes.
"The last time I spoke with Nappa, he said they were on their way back from their latest mission."
Frieza quirked an eye. "Really? The Jovian System easily had five large planets that needed purging. How is it that they have finished already? It's only been a week. I daresay I'm a little impressed. The people in that area are not exactly lightweights," he said.
Zarbon frowned. He hated whenever Frieza gave the Saiyans any sort of praise. As far as he was concerned, every one of them was scum. He stopped and thought for a moment. Well, that one female isn't too bad to look at. He pictured the only female Saiyan he'd seen in recent years. She was loud and bossy as well as possibly insane. She also seemed to have most of the Saiyans under her thumb.
"Let me know when they arrive, Zarbon. Once they do, get this ship moving. I'm going to retire to my chambers for now."
"Yes, my lord."