Unbeknownst to quiet slumber of the triumphant threesome, a new predator had emerged from its slumber. Jumping down onto the icy sheet, this grim reaper quietly strode across the slippery surface towards the napping trio, his baggy pants bristling in the cutting wind coming from farther North.

This mysterious foe wasn't a new opponent pining for world domination. He was an older foe of Goku, predating even the demonic Majunior in age. Upon closer inspection, the man's old wrinkled skin, bushy grey moustache and Red Ribbon Army paraphernalia revealed his identity: the infamous mastermind of the old Red Ribbon Army. The great Dr. Gero.

Gero had neither repented nor regretted the ruthless and cutthroat way he had climbed to the top of the world's foremost paramilitary force. Under his brilliant command, it was he that brought half the world to its knees. And it was he that deserved to rule the world he had subjugated.

And he would've—provided he didn't run into one super powered little brat that didn't know when to get out of the way.

Vengeance had once become his sole motivator. He hadn't forgiven Goku for bringing his ambitions to ruin, and only the complete and utter destruction of the hero would satisfy the dark genius. The plans for how he was going to do it were complete as well. For over five years, he had been stalking Goku. Recording whatever he did and documenting it for later use. His goal: create a new line of invincible fighting machines. Surely when they were complete, they could bulldoze through Goku and reclaim the world he had so sought to obtain.

But what does this have to do with what his happening now? Like the good little espionage agent he was, Gero was very much aware of the conflict between the long-haired Saiyan and his arch nemesis. He was also aware of the fact that Goku's son was out in space, and Goku would stop at nothing to retrieve him. Knowing firsthand about how hard-headed Goku could be when he wanted too, the mad doctor knew that the pursuit would be a long, arduous ride for the Earth-raised Saiyan. It was very likely that the man may never come back at all!

With Goku out of the way, everything was open to the genius. Conquering the Earth now was a trivial thing once Piccolo, Raditz and their friend were out of the way. He could do it with the flick of the wrist if he so chose.

Yet, like all the megalomaniacs before him, the evil scientist wasn't satisfied with just the Earth any longer. It meant nothing without his ultimate prize dangling in his bony grasp. And to do that, he needed to get off this planet.

However, Gero also wasn't an idiot. He was well aware that his current power was nowhere near sufficient enough to withstand the frontier that was the universe. When his androids were ready he could be, but something told the genius that the world as he knew it wasn't going to be around much longer.

The conflict between Turles and Wheelo had attracted Gero like a moth to a flame. Saying he was curious about the altercation would've been a grave miscalculation, because his fate and ambitions were equally on the line. He may not have had the power to face either party individually, but his power could turn the tide of the fight to whoever he chose, as what actually happened had proven.

Although he couldn't claim to be a fan of either party, Turles's was vastly better than Wheelo's for more than one reason. For one, he wasn't completely disposable. The Saiyan's had a clear lack of manpower, and Gero knew he had specialties that the three amigos desperately needed right about now. Although he considered his skill set to be superior to Wheelo's, the old scientist knew that the man with the power may think otherwise. That was an instability that Gero didn't want to deal with.

He had other reasons as well. Turles's group was likely heading back out into space, which was where he wanted to go. Wheelo would likely just scour this land and fixate on the Earth like a simpleton. The alien's would also likely be more familiar with the world he would be entering. Any intel he could gather on his hunt could be extremely lucrative.

Aside from these more pragmatic reasons, Gero did have one last aim that influenced his choice—this one displaying his truly nefarious motives. Raditz and Piccolo. Of all the people in the world, no two others had caused his nemesis more anguish than them. Goku's behavior in the last battle against Piccolo was more than enough proof in Gero's mind that their influence on Goku's mind was substantial. It intrigued the evil degenerate. And it was for primarily for this reason in particular that he sent Wheelo his one-way ticket straight to hell.

Vindication and vengeance was his drive now. He didn't want to simply kill Goku; he wanted to bring him to his knees. Any way he could inflict harm on Goku was a path that Gero would take. From a psychological angle, allying himself with the kidnapper of his son and the slaughter of all his best friends was only a natural course for him to take if his ultimate goal was to facilitate the most wretched death possible for Son Goku. And that was precisely what Gero intended to do.

But for the moment, he'd let the three rest. They weren't exactly friendly and it could provoke a violent response if they stirred while he was standing over them. Nevertheless, he'd keep an eye on their activities and eventually an opportunity for a more…diplomatic standoff would show itself. And when that time came, he'd make them serve his ultimate interests.

Done with his musing, the old engineer strode away from the scene and returned to the shadows from wince he came.

An eerie light filtered in through a barren room, dancing around the out cold form of Son Goku. His rather unruly entrance onto Planet Yardrat ruffled more than a few feathers amongst the planet's populace. The ruined remains of a PTO war pod heighted their already reasonable levels of suspicion. Fortunately for the Earth-raised Saiyan though, the Yardratians were not a race known for being either xenophobic or hasty to incriminate. They would hear out what this invader had to say before a communal tribunal would opt to free or imprison their new 'guest.'

After cornering and enclosing their visitor, the natives lifted the fully-grown man onto their backs and proceeded to drag the man to the municipal courthouse. Being the deep sleeper he was, Goku hardly felt a thing while a procession of aliens carried his living corpse over a mile to their final destination.

Plopping him down in an interrogation room, the Yardratians advanced on to procure an `inquisitor' to analyze their guest's intentions. Once the questioning was finished, the man would report to the tribunal all of his results and they would give sentence. From there, transfer of the foreigner would be given to the bailiff. But where he would go was the mystery.

A mystery that was about to be answered.

Slowly and fluidly, Goku came too in the barren room. Immediately he noticed how dim the lighting was and how dungeon-like his surroundings were. But being who he was, Goku didn't really perceive this as an act of hostility by a far-off people rather than just an oddity.

Suddenly, the door to the room clicked and a small alien walked in. On close inspection, this Yardratian wasn't anything ordinary for his race, in physiology or attire. Small with red baggy pants with a black vest covering a white undershirt. Skin a deep shade of red, the alien was small, pudgy with a rotund shaped head. Sitting down on a cold steel chair, the native waved his hand down, gesturing for Goku to take a seat.

Taking his seat, the Saiyan scratched the top of his temple, clueless about why he was being told to sit down. "Um, who are you?"

"Aadesh, but that is irrelevant," stated the Yardratian, his face concealing no warmth but no malice either. He simply had a job to do that he intended to complete faithfully and honestly. "No, this meeting is all about you."

"Me?" cried Goku, still scratching the side of his temple rhythmically to show his confusion. "What about me?"

Staring deadpan at the easily befuddled foreigner, the native tried to clarify his intentions. "Like what's your name? Where do you come from? Exactly who do you work for? My people are interested in knowing this."

"Well…" started Goku, shifting his hands so that they were repeatedly tapping on the top of his chin. "My name is Goku, and I'm from Earth. Who do I work for—I don't work for anybody if I remember correctly—who is your people? Where are they?"

`That accomplished a lot,' mused Aadesh, sighing languidly at how troublesome this questioning was going to be. Either this guy was the mother of all idiots or he was a master class at revealing nothing under fire. Aadesh hadn't concluded which one `Goku' was yet.

"Well, Goku, we are on Planet Yardrat," explained Aadesh, sensing that no harm would be done by giving his captive that small olive branch. "You crash landed here sometime earlier today unexpectedly and we don't know what to make out of you. If you would kindly answer all of our questions, we would greatly appreciate the gesture immensely."

Moving his hands back into a resting position, Goku raised his brow at the discovery that he was on another world. "Yardrat? Where's that?"

"Unimportant," stated Aadesh, his temper starting to be tested by the childish questioning he was getting in return. "Let's please get back on topic: is there anybody you work for Goku? And if so, is it because of them that you have decided to visit our planet?"

Pressing down on the top of his lips with his index finger, the Saiyan's eyes squinted in contemplation. "I don't think I'm working for somebody. I didn't even mean to land here, just I was on some really big ship and some voice told me I had to get away. That voice led me to the pod and the pod led me here."

Needless to say, the Yardratian found that explanation to be really farfetched. He had heard some interesting things in his life, but that was close to taking the cake. Even more marvelously, the questioner actually believed his interviewee. Beyond his interpretative skills, the native was an excellent judge of who was telling the truth and who was lying. This man was giving him no indication that he was lying about any of this strangely.

"Fair enough," admitted the pudgy alien, letting none of his skepticism show in his tone. He may've somewhat believed the hero, but that wasn't going to fly when he explained his views to the tribunal. More was needed. "Who was this "voice" you speak of, and what did it want of you?"

Reverting back to scratching his head in confusion, the Saiyan closed his eyes trying to remember what the inanimate voice had wanted. "I don't know. It just wanted me to get off this ship and it didn't want me to be seen in the process."

"And why did he want you to navigate this ship secretly?" asked the Yardratian, sensing that he may be closer to solving the puzzle now. "Was there a particular reason why you just couldn't walk through?"

"Yah," replied Goku, glad to have found a question he could answer without acting confused. "There were these guys on the ship, really bad guys. Something bad may've happened to me or my son if I was caught by them!"

Explanation still a bit vague and puzzling, Aadesh decided to probe on the bad guys. "Were these evildoers wearing some kind of chest armor with some strange device on their eyes?"

Tapping the tips of his index and middle fingers against his chin, the Saiyan affirmed Aadesh's question with a simple "oh yeah."

"Was there anything you could've done to provoke the wrath of these soldiers?" inquired the questioner, trying to hunt some last smidgens of information before he turned in his report to the tribunal. Although he still had some reservations about Goku's character, the man was starting to lean more towards him just being a bumbling buffoon rather than a genuine threat to their people.

His eyes gravitating to the top of his head, the Saiyan shook his back and forth implying that he hadn't. "No, I can't think of anything I did to anger them."

"Nothing at all? Anything else you think I should know?"

"No, nothing."

"Very well then," concluded Aadesh, getting out of the chair and heading for the door. But before turning the knob and walking out, the pudgy native turned to face the Saiyan. "I've gotten what I've came here for. In the meantime Goku, I'd recommend that you just stay here and try to get some rest. We may need you to answer some more questions if we need too. But we'll come and get you if that is necessary. Good day sir."

"Okay," replied Goku, as the door shut on him and he returned to sitting down in his lonesome state.

Aadesh's day wasn't over after he had `talked' with Goku. Immediately after the discussion, the plump Yardratian paced down the hall and turned in his notes, which would then be rerouted to the tribunal. After that, he walked into the waiting room and promptly took a chair while the tribunal went over his notes before calling him in for his opinion.

It wasn't long after he had waited for the clerk stationed in the waiting room to call him in to talk with the tribunal. Advancing through the door, Aadesh walked into an empty courtroom with the three members of the tribunal waiting for him at the judge's stand.

Under standard conditions, Goku would've been brought into the courtroom for his arraignment, but considering the fact he wasn't really being tried officially, the measure would've been moot.

Sitting atop the mahogany bench was the three members of the tribunal: Maahir to the left, Haady to the right and Haatim in the center. All of them were slim, tall Yardratians with green skin with the same orange-shaped cranial structure. Although all of them wore standard Yardratian clothing, it was all cloaked underneath an immense black robe which trailed down from their clavicles to the very tip of their toes. In essence, they all looked very `judge-like' despite the fact that they didn't look like humans in any way.

"I assume you have read my report, honored tribunal?" stated Aadesh, bowing before the esteemed court. Like with Earth, customary respect was mandatory in the legal system found on Yardrat. And judges were very revered figures where the use of honorifics was very much encouraged, even for inquisitors and attorneys.

"Yes we have," replied Maahir, speaking up for the rest of the tribunal; his dark, critical eyes boring holes into Aadesh's skull. "As you can imagine, this entire testimony is very…fantastical to put it lightly. Very hard to really make heads or tails out of, and quite frankly, useless without more context to surround it. Could you kindly give us your account of the defendant and your verdict on his sincerity?"

"Certainly, your honor," bantered back the inquisitor, taking a pause to collect his thoughts and address the tribunal without making an utter fool of himself. "Of all the cases I've been involved in, this case is notable for its paradoxical irregularities. As you can so readily see, his assertions and statements are very outlandish. It's bizarre and hard to address seriously. That being said, it's my honest opinion that he was telling the truth, as strange as the truth is."

Aadesh turned to look at the expressions on each face in the tribunal. Maahir looked almost aghast, like he couldn't believe that anybody could think the jargon put in front of him was the truth. Haady and Haatim, on the other hand, just raised their brows skeptically. They seemed a bit more open-minded to the possibility, but like the good judges they were, still weren't firm believers to the contrary.

"Pardon our cynicism, but is there a possibility that this man could be lying to you?" probed Haatim, his tone sincere yet conflicted. The man didn't exactly want to go down in the history books for freeing the man that could bring extinction to his people, but at the same time he didn't want to imprison somebody that had committed no wrong.

"It is possible that he could've been deceiving me, but he would have to be a master class deceiver for it to work on me. He had no obvious tells or contradictory elements to his story that would've disproved what he was saying. I very much doubt that he was lying," stated Aadesh, his eyes narrowing involuntary at the justice. His specialty as a professional was gleaming who was lying and who said the truth. Therefore, the insinuation otherwise was a bit humiliating, especially given that was his explicit purpose for being there.

Still, the justices were not convinced and some of Aadesh's incense showed in his tone. Maahir, who was still the least sympathetic tribune to Goku's plight, offered counter opinion to Aadesh's assertion. "My colleague has a point. The claims of the respondent are extremely unusual and your tone in rebuttal implies a certain bias exists. And considering there is a connection between this man and the PTO, the utmost caution has to be taken into assessing this. Failure can have catastrophic consequences, and we have to look at this with an objective lens—which in your case I have to question."

Taking a second to smoother his brief anger, the man steeled his expression and gathered himself. "My professional opinion is my opinion. The story is fantastical, I will give you that, but you can't judge the man by his words alone. It's his earnestness that makes me think that he could be innocent of wrongdoing, and that's something no amount of paper waste could prove."

Still somewhat unconvinced, the tribunal gestured for Aadesh to move away from the stand. Haady, who had been silent up until this point, gave the final address. "Very well then. We'll bring this foreigner to the stand and see for ourselves whether hearing these claims from the horse's mouth makes them more believable. For his sake, I hope they do. His life is very much in the balance."

Posterity may interpret his actions as cowardly today. Not many warriors were willing to weasel away from a fight two times in the same day, especially against the foes they claim to despise. Nevertheless, staying around would've been equivalent to suicidal martyrdom, and Pui Pui thought it has been well established that he was nobody's martyr. The shame of death, after all, is worse than the shame of temporary faintheartedness.

It was child's play getting off Frieza's ship. For whatever reason, the don of the vessel was busy attending to other matters and his lieutenants were all dead or incapacitated. And all his little orderlies were hardly even worth his attention. Blasting his way out of the infirmary to the closest hangar in his vicinity had proved to be an easy task.

Calling in his ship to his location, the Zoonian quietly boarded his cruiser when it landed on the airstrip. Before anybody could even figure out what was going on, the former emperor was gone and heading out into the stars again.

Walking into the ship's tight galley, the former emperor was met by his entourage, who had been waiting in the wings waiting for their sovereign to return. Pui Pui, contrary to what he thought at times, wasn't the last remaining Zoonian. He wasn't alone in his ship when Baden blew his planet to kingdom come. Like the good little nationalist he was, the man had a squad of all-Zoonians with him wherever he went. This turned out to be a godsend when his planet was unceremoniously blown to bits, as it reduced the numbers of Zoonians that were destroyed.

Now, his crew wasn't big. Maybe a dozen at most; certainly not enough to lift the Zoonian race off the endangered species list. And even more peculiarly, Pui Pui didn't really interact with all but three of them: Ming Mei, Yen Hu, Xing Xing.

Admittedly, he didn't know Xing Xing all that well, or at all for that matter. Just that he was supposed to be the twin of some other crew member with some kind of interest in astronomy. How Pui Pui got into that conversation still mystified him.

Yen Hu was his second mate on the ship. At first glance, the man looked virtually like Pui Pui. Just that instead of the porcelain white skin that Pui Pui had, his was ruby red and his head was a bit more square-like than the elongated slide that was Pui Pui's

Since Pui Pui pretty much kept himself isolated and away from the rest of the staff, most of the leadership and managerial tasks pertaining to the ship were delegated to Yen. Pui Pui liked the arrangement because it allowed him to focus on other duties while somebody else kept the ship afloat. Still, they only met on the most formal occasion with any regularity. He seemed a nice enough guy.

However, the story with Ming Mei was far more convoluted and murky. Of the dozen or so Zoonians on the ship, there was only one female amongst the group: Ming Mei. As what could be imagined, this caught Pui Pui's eye almost immediately. When a male and female existed in close proximity, offspring could be produced, and the race can continue to live on. It was fairly obvious what Pui Pui wanted out of her.

Apparently, Ming Mei understood as well. She didn't resist his advances, although her real thoughts on the matter remained clouded. Did she permit his advances out of an equal obligation to sustain and advance the Zoonian species? Was it due to some form of status in her mind about being in a "relationship" with the "king" of their people? Could it have been because she felt that he was going to have his way with her regardless? Whatever the case, she allowed him and Pui Pui didn't really care why as long as she did. He gets what he wants—no matter if he has to resort to revolting means to do it.

Outside of these encounters, he really had very little contact with the girl. She seemed to be bit of gabby little thing from what little he had observed, but again it didn't really matter. She had her purpose and she fulfilled it—no more and no less.

Navigating through the common, the Zoonian leader proceeded up to the bridge where Yen was sitting at the helm. Approaching the other Zoonian, Yen got down onto his knees and bowed before his lord. "My master, how can I be of service to you? I assume that you have vanquished the great scourge of our race."

"I'm afraid there have been many complications to our original plan. I have come to learn that Frieza was not responsible for the eradication of our people. I have come to learn that it was the work of a filthy little Saiyan that caused the destruction. Rest assured that I will find this Saiyan and I will exterminate him."

"I'm sure you will," assured Yen, his soothing tone serving to amuse Pui Pui instead of irritate him. "Is there anything I can do to help hasten the process of you getting your most deserved vengeance?"

Haughtily smirking, the emperor flicked his hands upwards, signaling for his second-in-command to return to his feet. "As a matter of fact, there is. The battle onboard the ship got a bit…hectic, and we may need to lay low for a little while. Nothing permanent mind you, but it would not be wise to be caught by the Arcosians for the moment."

"Yes, of course, my lord," agreed Yen, knowing that his commander loved the little glorifiers that served to elevate his ego. Getting back onto his feet, the man saluted his royal ruler. "Where do you recommend that we go to wait out the search?"

"That's the trouble, lieutenant," stated Pui Pui, his voice uncharacteristically austere and serious. "I'm not entirely sure where to go. I never thought that I would ever need to retreat after this. Foolish, I know, but do you have any ideas about where we can go to wait out the storm?"

His face squinting in confusion, Yen ushered Pui Pui over to his computer desk. "Oh, I see. Let's see what I can do about this!"

For almost ten minutes, Yen scrolled and searched for viable options to "lay low" as they say. With the Zoonian Empire in shambles, and bereft of its network of hideaways, the remaining ragtag survivors were at a loss about where to go. Victory was the expectation with their all-powerful leader in tow. Therefore, they hadn't envisioned nor prepared for a scenario even remotely like the one coming forth.

"I'm not finding anything that would be useful," replied Yen ruefully, frustrated that he couldn't find anything that could be of use. Either he found clear traps set up by the Arcosians or substandard shelters that would not be able to handle people of their immense status. "This is fruitless."

Eyes twitching irately, the Zoonian overlord threw his hand high into the air and growled, getting the attention of everybody in the room. "Do any of you dodo's have anything to say? Surely one of you must've had to tuck tail one time in your pathetic little lives!"

"If you spent more time listening instead of boasting, perhaps you'd get what you want."

Prepared to blast the urchin who badmouthed him dead, the Zoonian ruler had to restrain himself when he realized it was Ming Mei who said that. Holding his hand, the man allowed the insult to stand for the moment. If she wasn't capable of being the only one capable of bringing more Zoonian life into this world, he would've blasted her dead.

Looking closer at her, the Zoonian found the girl to be completely unremarkable. She looked very much like him, just more feminine in feature. Her face was rounder, pudgier and her body was plumper with softer curves. She wasn't exactly attractive, but not intolerably ugly. Just plain and ordinary.

And that frustrated him. He wasn't repulsed by her nor attracted. It was just a chore, a burden. One that he didn't want nor ask for but felt compelled to do because of his love for his race. His hubris challenged his devotion—preached to him that his greatness had transcended his race, transcended everything! Adherence to something as inane as chivalry was pointless waste of time for somebody as great as he!

Nevertheless, his hubris wasn't powerful enough to overthrow his pride in his stock. No matter his personal revulsion towards sullying himself, he felt it was his duty to do what he did. And he hated it to his core.

Ming seemed to understand this, and didn't hesitate to use it if it benefitted her. Sure, she knew a reprimand would come, but ultimately her lord would have to at least consider her opinion for appearance's sake. Pui Pui knew this as well and he resented her for it.

"Oh and what do you recommend, my bitch?" snarled Pui Pui, fuming at the embarrassment of being called out in the galley in front of his entire crew.

"Very simple," bantered back Ming, her voice not fluctuating or alternating treble. She seemed confident, not afraid at all of her master's increasing rage. "If you look at official channels, you'll find nothing. There are places in the universe that can house people like us, but they don't advertise they can. You have to know somebody."

"Oh, and you do?" implied Pui Pui condescendingly, his snide dismissive tone making it all too clear what he thought of the suggestion.

"Actually, I do," informed Ming, her voice as impassive as ever in this war of wits. How she could satirize somebody in a neutral monotone was beyond Pui Pui's comprehension. "Have you ever heard of the Syndicate?"

"No," replied Pui Pui, shrugging his shoulders jeeringly. "Is that supposed to mean something or are you making something up like you always do?"

Ignoring the jab, Ming rolled her eyes while she prepared to talk. "About half-a-decade back, I was on a disastrous expedition that crash landed on some hellhole that was called Planet M2. On that planet is one of the universe's premier engineers: Dr Myuu."

"We were quickly captured and all of my squad-mates died of exposure and…exploratory procedures. I survived, but only barely, and was thrown away in a trash heap. How I was able to get back to Zoon from there miffs me even to this day. Once back home safe and sound, I did a lot of research on the man and discovered he was a member of the Syndicate."

"The Syndicate is a membership of elite traffickers that distribute illicit goods, substances and services on the black market and reap a massive profit margin for their services. Bar none, they are the most organized and dangerous of the mafias in the entire universe. More than capable of harboring an enterprise like ours away from the prying eyes of the Arcosians. In fact, the enterprise is so secretive that if it wasn't for Myuu babbling about it while he was…experimenting on me, I wouldn't even be able to tell you he's a part of it. Nobody knows who the big guns are but the big guns themselves as well. If you want to disappear from official authority, then you want to be within scattershot of a man like him."

Looking into the girl's eyes, Pui Pui tried to detect any signs of deceit or deception. He found none, but he did find traces of something else: fear. Ming was not a soul easy to frighten, as that fact had aggravated Pui Pui since the moment he had met her, but the subtle hints of trepidation in her face spoke volumes. Nothing frightened her more than going back to M2, even the risk of incarceration at the most bleak hellhole the Arcosians could commandeer it seemed didn't frighten her as seriously.

"You looked shaken," stated Pui Pui, a sickening smile slithering up his face hideously. "I assume your memories of this place you're referring to aren't fond? Don't tell me you're afraid of this man?"

Deeply exhaling, the female Zoonian got closer to her lord, her eyes boring into the pupils of her contemptuous lord. "Nobody with a brain wouldn't be afraid of him—and what he is capable of could chill your blood. Myuu is a scourge to everything with a pulse, the worst kind of monster. I can vouch for that personally."

Laughing maliciously, the Zoonian felt his lips arch upwards and nostrils flare insultingly. "Dear, I did bring back horrid memories, didn't I? Don't worry, as long as you are behind me, you'll be safe and sound."

Eyes narrowing critically, the female Zoonian snorted haughtily at the not-so-subtle jab. Unlike most of her race, she saw through her lord. Most Zoonians viewed him as a faux-god figure, his power something most couldn't even fathom at. A freak in the truest sense. And a freak he was, with his ugliest traits only on view if you knew him personally. Because of her position as the last Zoonian female, she had unrestricted access to her lord and could see through most of the glamor that had dazzled her when she had first put eyes on him. Oh how first impressions could be wrong.

Pui Pui had many flaws, most he wasn't aware of. His most glaring was hubris. It was his way or the highway, and he didn't care what anybody thought deep down. It didn't matter how foolhardy or unnecessary: once he made up his mind about something, he'd kill you for resisting his vision. And, sadly, most of the time, the only reason these plans succeeded was that he was forced to intervene with his freakish power level and save the day. And naturally, this made his hubris worse and the cycle got more vicious.

His delusions were almost as bad as his hubris. And when they combined, they formed a very lethal duo. Ming knew that the minute she mentioned M2 and her story that Pui Pui was going to follow up and proceed onwards. She could read her master like a book, and she knew this was the path he would take—right into his grave.

"You can't promise me that. Nevertheless, I know that you will advance regardless of any personal objections, so continue on ahead!"

Slightly humiliated, the Zoonian overlord signaled for Yen to set course to M2. "You're damn right, sister! You ready to face your demons?"

`What a fiasco,' darkly mused Frieza, returning to his quarters which, besides from the bullet damage instigated by that pint-size twerp, hadn't been damaged by his enemy's last stand. Needless to say, Frieza was in the mood to inflict pain on something. He had gotten nowhere near enough fun with that final enemy than he had longed for. Instead of brimming with amusement like he thought he'd be right about now, Frieza felt even angrier now that the deed was done.

It was very rare that a fly, a maggot, got truly under his skin. Most urchins he killed were simply objects of pleasure; things that he could toss aside once he no longer had a use for them. Others died because they committed some sort of crime against his empire, not realizing the true scale of who they were facing. Frieza generally wasn't angered by these foes; they fueled his god-complex. Ignorance and arrogance was so much fun to correct.

Whoever he was facing last didn't possess any of these qualities. He was neither ignorant of his true power nor arrogant about his own abilities. He knew he was entering a battle that he couldn't hope to survive from. But for whatever reason, that person chose that path for themselves, of their own free and unforced will. Picture this: the last thing that urchin did was insult him before blowing up. Who does that to the lord of the entire galaxy and actually gets away with it?

Frieza wanted to punch something, he desperately wanted too. The lack of accomplishment stung worse than the venom of even the most dangerous viper. Confrontations like that made him feel mortal, vulnerable even. That he could bleed and be left speechless like everybody else at times—that he wasn't as special or omnipotent as he thought he was. A back-breaking thought to an emperor who based his entire mentality on his god-like power. Validation of his exulted status was needed that he sorely desired right now.

Looking around his lavishly furnished quarters, the Arcosian had to sigh when all of his servants, adjutants and stream of sycophants were nowhere to be found. `They must've scampered off to places a bit safer when the fireworks show began to go off. Better go reel them in.'

The very act of doing this work himself humiliated the tyrant. Normally, he'd order Dodoria or Zarbon do this grunt work, but all the best laid plans of mice and men don't always go your way.

Right when he was about to pick up the receiver, Frieza sensed a stillness in the air. Like there was something wrong, missing perhaps. `Where's Dodoria?' Although the man was a first-class bootlicker, he was an experienced fighter. Next to Zarbon, he was strongest fighter he kept by his side. He should've been back to him by now!

Phoning directly to the highest ranked general on his flagship, Frieza demanded to know where his bodyguard went during all the chaos. Needless to say, the news that not only Dodoria had been murdered but Cui as well was a shock to Frieza's system. Some of him was unfazed by the news—if Zarbon was killed, naturally Dodoria and Cui would also be on their hit list. And it wasn't like those cretins didn't have the power to kill his henchman if they wanted too. `Today just can't get any better, now can it?'

Ending the conversation shortly thereafter, the emperor ordered his general to cease the state of emergency and resume normal activities. When questioned why, the despot screamed at the man and told him to not question his orders. After that, Frieza demanded that the man call his servants and order them back up to serve him.

Hanging up, the tyrant moved back to his audience chamber and jumped back into his hover chair. Rotating around, the emperor darkly glared at the spectacle of the vast cosmos stretching out across the entire windowpane. Somewhere amongst those stars were those fools: mocking him for his temporary difficulties in eradicating them.

Entering his earshot, the Arcosian heard the telltale signs of footsteps enter the relatively vacant room. It wasn't all that common for the lizard to be without an entourage. Still, it just felt out of place to have company at this dark hour. Then again, he did ask for the service so he didn't have anything to complain about.

"Captain Namole reporting for duty!" cried the soldier, getting down onto one knee and saluting his overlord. The man was overwhelmed and honored to be given the responsibility of personally serving his master.

Ignoring his employee's peppy introduction, the despot stood still as his eyes continued to linger on the distant stars in his view. Where could the rest of those urchins be? In which one of those pretty little jewels lay those fragile little rebels?

Anger really didn't properly express the swirling discontent that was brewing just beneath the surface of Frieza's civilized debonair manner. Like a spoiled little brat, he wasn't used to dealing with anybody that properly stood up to him. Even more rarely was the case where he actually didn't get what he wanted in the long run. And, because he wasn't just like a spoiled brat, the Arcosian felt himself on the verge of a violent tantrum. He felt sullied and humiliated, which wasn't something he had ever learned to bare. Heads were going to roll because of this day, and that brat's friends were the first on his kill list.

"Namole," whispered Frieza, his voice deathly silent as it communicated his utter disdain and loathing of the predicament he was forced into. "Come closer to me."

Doing as instructed, the precocious soldier knelt below his lord and put his right fist right below his heart. "Yes, sir. Anything I can do for you?"

"Actually there is," replied Frieza, the inner madness that had consumed the Arcosian's soul beginning to float to the surface. Defeat always brought out the worst in Frieza, it always had. Namole was about to discover this the hard way. "Give me your scouter."

Detaching the device from his eyes, Namole accidentally brushed the gadget across his golden locks as he handed it off to Freiza. Grabbing hold of the tech, Frieza stared at the used device in disgust. He could practically see the crust of skin flakes on the grooves and ridges of the thing. Revulsion aside though, the tyrant placed the appliance on his skin. "Now one last thing," the despot commanded cryptically.

"Sure, my lord. What is it you want me to do?" responded Namole obediently, willing to lay his life on the life for his master's orders.

Turning around, the Arcosian revealed his true form to the hapless foot soldier. Like the snake preying in the Garden of Eden, devouring the souls of common man. Pointing his index finger straight at the helpless grunt's heart, the tyrant whispered his intentions. "Die!"

Firing a Death Beam clean through the captain's heart, the emperor didn't even react when the carcass of his own soldier fell to the floor, dead before the bastard even hit the floor. Unfazed by the carnage, Frieza turned around and switched on his scouter and called his major general again. "The servant that was sent didn't meet up to my satisfaction."

Waiting for the general to swallow the wad of spit pooling in his mouth, the Arcosian listened calmly as the general stuttered about some kind of request for the action he could take on his lord's behest. Clearly, the fool didn't want his lord's wrath to turn on him like said foot soldier.

"Contact Arcos. Inform the authorities there that I require the services of the Bloodhounds to…assist me in chasing down my enemies. Nobody makes a fool of me and gets away with it!"

Gohan was glad that the fighting was over—elated even. Conflict was not a state that he enjoyed being surrounded by. Participating in it made the confusion and displeasure even more immense. But when the smoke cleared, a relief had swelled in the boy's heart that just felt dang good.

Gazing at the procession of 'meteorites' descending down onto Uyyasid's surface, the boy felt his arm squeezed by his guardian. Looking up at the other boy, Gohan got the overt message on the pre-teen's lips: don't go anywhere.

Forced to stay put with the other Saiyan, Gohan patiently sensed Baden's `family' emerge from out of their pods and fly towards where they were. Of course, the tension in the air was still there and the silence made the wait extremely awkward to Gohan.

Eventually though, Baden's group came into view and landed in the ruined remains of the prison. Lining up in unison, the Earth-born Saiyan looked on in shock at how big his guardian's family really was.

"Who are these people?" asked Gohan, craning his neck up to Baden for an answer. Sure, he knew they were his friends, but he didn't even know their names.

"They are my brothers, Gohan," replied Baden, pointing his hand out to the man on the far left. "That's Machen." The pre-teen then shifted his finger to the twins, then to Putzen and finally to Traje, naming each one as his finger moved on by.

If Gohan wasn't told of their identities, he couldn't have imagined them to be family to his self-proclaimed guardian. Each family member looked different than him. Gohan could barely tell there was even that much of a family resemblance. All of them had unique hairstyles and ways of carrying themselves as people.

Machen, for example, was clearly the oldest and tallest of the group. While not exactly fat, the male couldn't be called thin by any means necessary. He was the very definition of burly and his physique epitomized it. As for his face, it also accentuated his brutishness. Gohan had to wonder, if you judging by his hair and his facial complexion, whether Raditz had a son somewhere and that son was Machen. They looked very similar, albeit Machen's hair didn't spread out like mattress or go down to the back of his legs.

On the other extreme was Traje. If Machen was a burly brawler that would be competitor at any heavyweight boxing championship, then Traje was the lanky, rail-thin stoner of the group. The little kid could practically see the ribs of the fifteen year old through his clothing. And like Machen, Traje's face emphasized this. The boy's jawline was thickly defined, along with the ridges around the orbit of his eyes and side of his nose gave him the appearance of being much older than what he really was. Punctuating the picture was the boy's Mohawk, which, by design, only sprouted up on the meridian of the teen's head.

Putzen was kind of a mixture of Machen and Traje. Unlike Machen, he was by no means big and wide. He was pretty small really. At the same time there was meat on his bones, which Traje didn't have much of. His physique didn't leave much to be criticized. On the other hand, his face was another matter. Thin lips and a pug-like nose weren't all that attractive to anybody. Yet, all of these facial disfigurements were dwarfed by the look in his eyes. Steel could probably crumble under Putzen's intense stare, and the boy knew how to use it to unnerve people. Gohan made a mental note to himself to not get on Putzen's bad side. The teen's eyes reminded the boy of Vegeta.

Finally and perhaps most shockingly, were the twins. Whoever he had been expecting, Gohan had not foreseen Baden bringing along children of their age. Sure, his guardian was by no means a man, but those two were barely bigger than him. A part of the child wondered whether Baden's motive for being nice to him was solely an effort to mold him into a weapon like the two of them.

Erinnern and Merken were essentially identical twins. There were a couple superficial differences, but they were all clearly artificial to distinguish the two from each other. Most notably though was that the child on the left had a prosthetic arm and the one on the right didn't. They both had messy black hair, perfectly round eyes, cute button noses and pudgy cheeks that would be common among children their age. Like Putzen, neither of them were bulky but not quite skinny either. Although their musculature wasn't as taut or defined as Putzen's due to the fact that one was a teen and the other two were prepubescent children.

Still, none of these physical characteristics really were as important as the aura both of them were giving off, particularly the child with both of his arms intact. Sorrow seemed to radiate from him in waves, and his eyes were intentionally dull. Gohan was no armchair psychiatrist, but he knew that look from his own experiences: it was the look of somebody trying to weather a psychological storm. Something terrible must've happened to them, and the four year old didn't really know what to do about it. They were in a standoff after all.

Ironically, it was at that moment when the standoff finally ceased. Ever the jackass, Machen craned his neck to the side and smiled leeringly at Gohan, which caused the chibi to lower his head and hide his face. Laughing at kid's apparent shyness, Machen pivoted his head back towards Baden. "Cute kid. Where'd yah get him?"

"Not important," chided Baden, not really in the mood to deal with his older brother's tomfoolery for one day. Sliding his head so that he got eye contact with everybody, the pre-teen eventually returned his head into a static position before getting to the heart of the matter. "The real question is why are all of you here? And why did you come in a bunch of space pods?"

Taking a step forward, Putzen aggressively widened his shoulders and asserted himself before his younger brother. "Complications arose during the attack, ones that were far worse than any of us could have possibly foreseen. We got the job done, but the costs to do so were grave.

Recognizing the aggression, Baden chose to ignore it. He wasn't in a good mood, but he wasn't going to go off the handle on some implied posturing and create a scene in this tense atmosphere. "Stop speaking in circles and referring to foreboding implications to indicate what happened. Clearly something awry happened, you wouldn't be here otherwise, so spit it out."

"That's a discussion that could take awhile," piped up Merken, who had come too in his pod. He was exhausted and felt dehydrated from the long ride getting to Uyyasid. And that wasn't even considering the metal thing in the place where his arm was. Safe to say, the nine year old wasn't really in the best of spirits after all of this crap. Nevertheless, there was one thing troubling him and encountering it had awakened his curiosity. But that was a discussion for a day when he felt more up to snuff.

Snorting out of habit, the pre-teen crossed his arms across his chest and scowled at his brothers. "All the more reason for you guys to stop twiddling your thumbs and stop beating around the bush."

"And we will," bantered back Merken peevishly, frowning at the response to his statement. "All I'm asking is that we take the discussion to wherever basecamp is. It's probably too long a conversation to have out here in the middle of nowhere."

"Fair enough," admitted Baden, turning around and pacing back to where he left Vegeta. "I'll consent to that."

Approaching the comatose prince, the pre-teen grabbed hold of the man's torso and lifted the man onto his shoulders. Returning back to the group, the rest of the Saiyans raised their brows at the strange Saiyan that was resting on Baden.

Eternally the most tactful, Machen pointed at Vegeta's spent form and laughed. "Eh Baden, who is that clown?"

"This…" replied the pre-teen using his head to point towards Vegeta slumbering form like an arrowhead. "…is the prince of our race?"

Chuckling softly at Baden's response, Machen smirked at the pre-teen. "So he's the Prince of All Saiyans? I hate him already," joked the young adult, although he really wasn't lying. It wasn't just the aristocracy of where he was from that he despised, it was all nobility in general.

"You don't say," questioned Baden, a devious grin starting to crawl its way onto his face. "How would you like to keep after this little braggart for me while I'm away? I can't afford him to go around without a noose on; he's almost burned me once."

"It would be my pleasure," stated Machen, a ghoulish smile starting to dot his mouth. Oh what fun it was going to be to have the Prince of All Saiyans as his personal bitch. It was going to be an enjoyable task indeed. "I'll make sure he's not around to bother you."

Chuckling at his older brother's implied intentions; Baden waved his right hand up and down. "Be sure that you do. Although I would appreciate it if you didn't rough up the sullen little guy too much. He could be a valuable bargaining chip if we play our cards right."

"Whatever you say, man," responded Machen, that smug smile still not wiped off his face just yet.

"Are we going to leave or not?" complained Traje, breaking up the sadistic little banter between Baden and Machen before it gave him a headache. "Let's just debrief and get this troublesome venture over with, thank you very much."

"Whatever you say, man," reiterated Baden, his smirk never leaving his face. Looking from Machen all the way over to Traje, Baden instantly had to snicker when the lazy fifteen year moaned at his corny word play. Reverting back to normal, Baden returned to his austere manner before giving the all clear. "Very well, then. It's best that we get back to the palace promptly."

The flight back was very uneventful, although the tenseness of the affair was still very thick in the air. Silence hung in the space like a miasma, suffocating everybody and leaving the entire group with a strong sense of foreboding.

Upon landing, Merken promptly collapsed. Apparently, the boy was far weaker and dehydrated than he first let on once landing on Uyyasid. Fortunately, the group was able to flag down a doctor and get him to the infirmary before anything serious could happen. Bed rest and an IV drip was all he really needed to be as right as rain.

After that momentary scare, Gohan was put to bed. He had no real reason to be involved in this meeting, especially given the secretive nature of what they had been doing on Frieza's flagship. With that detour over with, all of the remaining Saiyans could get back to business and entered the sitting room.

Back in the very same chamber where Baden and the king had been before, all four of the Saiyans involved in the Ship Invasion promptly sat down on the furniture. Machen and Putzen had commandeered the armchairs while Traje and Erinnern took the sofa. Meanwhile, Baden opted to stand and tower over all of them.

"Okay, now," commenced Baden, scanning the room as the tension got even thicker. "Mind telling me what happened?"

"The plan started out pretty well," began Putzen, closing his eyes and beginning to recite what he had heard. "The planned massacre went through without any hitches along the way. It was the quick gruesome affair that we had calculated it to be. Escaping back to the hangar was equally easy, but it was there that we ran into somebody we didn't expect to see."

"Who was this person?" questioned Baden, his tone implying that it was less a request and more of an order.

"We don't know," replied Putzen, his tone a bit snappish and angry. Like the memory wasn't something he really wanted to revisit. "Considering his power level, he most certainly wasn't PTO. The bastard was vastly stronger than Frieza in his containment forms and was stronger than me for the vast majority of the fight."

"Do you have any clue about what species this foe could've been?" asked Baden, resisting the urge to bang his head against a wall. He had an idea of who this somebody could be, and that fact made Baden want to murder somebody. "Let me guess: this foe was a Zoonian."

Mulling over the possibility for a second, Putzen shook his head up and down, affirming Baden's hunch. "Yah, he looked like a Zoonian. How did you know that?" fired back the teenager, suspicious that Baden actually knew that asshole's race. Something was afoot.

"I blew up the guy's home planet and framed the affair so that it seemed to be Frieza's fault. Bastard was probably deluded enough to think he could exact revenge on the lizard and ended up running into you. Figures," declared Baden, having to sigh dejectedly at how fate loved to interfere with them. Of course, crap like this would happen. It always does.

All of the other Saiyans in the group raised their brows at that discovery. Baden was the reason that asshole happened to be on the ship and endangered all of their lives. Sure, he couldn't be necessarily blamed for the altercation, but they would've appreciated knowing that another mega-power could've been potentially on the ship. It was neglectful at best and downright cruel at worst. And needless to say, none of the four were particularly happy about that.

"And you didn't mention this, why?" chimed in Traje, annoyed that they got into a violent exchange with a dangerous opponent because of miscommunication. As usual, if they had known this, it would've saved him some good deal of time and effort that he didn't exert.

"Why didn't you actually use your God-given senses and actually avoid the fight?" snidely retorting Baden, pushing Traje's insinuation straight back at him while avoiding his own culpability on the matter.

Nobody responded to the claim, although the huffs and grumbles by the three that were eyewitnesses to the fight weren't exactly appreciative of Baden's counter claim. It was a bit insulting to say that you could avoid a fight against a being that wanted to take a bite out of you. Nevertheless, they didn't want to have this talk go on forever.

"So what happened once this battle got underway?" followed up the pre-teen, deciding that it was best to leave off of the `why did you fight this asshole' to `what happened during the fight with this asshole.' After all, something bad must've happened.

Surprisingly, it was Machen who spoke up before Putzen. "Putzen was the first to challenge this "Zoonian" as you call him, and what a rumble it was. My brother was getting his ass handed to him up until the bastard broke through Putzen's helmet. Shortly after that, Putz' had decided enough was enough and ascended up to full power. However, the strain on his ki poisoned him and he collapsed before he could properly finish the job. From there, I entered the fight and gave the guy a good clocking!"

The synopsis of the fight made Putzen cringe and Baden smirk. Machen really had a way with words. Mortified, Putzen lowered his head out of view, trying to remain as anonymous as possible. It didn't work one bit, which caused Machen to laugh like a hyena.

Baden, in the meantime, looked sternly over at the general. Despite his condescending smirk, the boy was disappointed with his brother. From what his intel told him, Putzen was one of the most competent Saiyan commanders out there. What Machen told him though directly contradicted that and now Baden was confused on ho much faith he could have in the teen. Flying off the handle and potentially exposing all of them to being caught was not sound strategy.

"Is that all?" inquired the pre-teen, almost praying that this was all. But deep down, he knew he had just begun to open Pandora's box.

"No unfortunately," murmured Erinnern, who had been as quiet as a little lamb during the initial debate. But he knew that it was only a matter of time before the true debacle of the invasion would be disclosed, and that folly was on him. It was only justice for him to spit it out.

"During the attack, Frieza's forces weren't acting as we assumed," started Erinnern, his voice on the verge of cracking up. "They were abandoning their posts, but nowhere near enough of them and not in the sectors we needed them too. Very likely, if a second diversion wasn't created, Goku would've been caught and all of this would've been all for naught. I took it upon myself to create this second front."

Narrowing his eyes and crouching down so that his face was level with Erinnern's forehead, Baden towered over the boy like a wolf next to a distraught lamb. "And what is this second front to which you speak of."

Closing his eyes, Erinnern anxiously inhaled before exhaling steadily. Repeating the tense action numerous times to Baden's annoyance, the nine year desperately clawed for a way of finding the strength to say what really happened. Gathering the resolve in his gut, the child opened his eyes and raised his head so he could face Baden eye to eye. "That second front was a battle between Frieza and I."

"You what!" exclaimed Baden venomously, his fists pounding threateningly onto the table. Yes, he hadn't stated a direct rule to not engage Frieza under any circumstances, but he expected them to be competent enough to assume such a thing. Any confidence he had in his crew was now officially destroyed. "Do I need to tell you how idiotic that was? What you've endangered because of your recklessness?"

"I realize," muttered Erinnern, sniffling through the response. He felt bad enough about what happened as it was—getting ball-beaten wasn't really helping anything. "I thought it was necessary at the time."

"Necessary?" mocked Baden, his jaw almost agape at the sheer drivel that spewing forth from the mouth of his foolhardy brother. Seriously, was he going to have to reeducate everybody? If somebody with sanity didn't show up, he was going to have a chuck something off a cliff. "Come on, Erinnern. Am I expected to believe that?"

Reverting back to closing his eyes, Baden clearly saw the other boy's cheeks crunched up and rise. Telltale signs that the boy was biting down on his tongue to prevent himself from impulsively shouting back in retort. Baden had to respect the boy for that much; he wasn't just trying to swiftly deny his folly or hide behind some bravado. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

"No," rasped the boy, his chest congested and his eyes becoming puffy. Fortunately, for the boy's pride, he was able to fight off the well of tears building up in his tear ducks from spilling out. "I screwed up; what other way do you want me to frame it? But is there a point in chastising me on something I well know? I've already reaped what I sowed."

Preparing for another blistering retort, Baden was almost shocked when another one of his brothers came to boy's defense. Even more surprisingly was that this brother was Traje of all people. "Lay off of him. His stupidity has been thoroughly punished as it is. Further yelling will only result in my ear drums popping."

"Fine," growled Baden, throwing his hands up into the air like a brat. "What were these difficulties then?"

"My best efforts didn't mean much against the might of Frieza. After he ascended to his final form, he hunted me down and cornered me with no way out. I was going to die, but then Merken appeared out of nowhere and got me away."

"Then what's the problem?" mocked Baden, not hearing any great tragedy in what Erinnern was saying. He was getting tired of getting beaten around the bush.

"But there was a price to this!" cried Erinnern, the heat and pressure under his eye lids beginning to intensify, threatening to tear up at any second. The boy wasn't sure that he could hold them for much longer. "I woke up hearing my brother screaming bloody murder. Rushing over to him, I was shocked to see that his arm had become a grotesque mess. I didn't know what to do, my eyes darted all over the place for a doctor I could trust. Eventually, my resourcefulness paid off, but the price for that was steep. For my brother's life, I had to toss away everything about him that made him Saiyan. And even then we couldn't save his arm!"

Erinnern was right. Somewhere during the description, the pressure and misty heat pooling beneath his eye lids became too much. Tears slid down his cheeks in a rivet and snot began to clog his nose. Ashamed, the nine year old tried to shy his head downwards, shadowing the embarrassing sight from Saiyan eyes even if the effort was futile. Mockery wasn't something he wanted to confront when he already felt this bad.

Staring in disdain at the unbecoming sight, Baden began to snap his finger impatiently. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the pre-teen wanted the boy to get over his bout of sobs and continue. Empathy apparently wasn't in Baden's vocabulary today.

"That's enough, Baden," stated Traje, getting tired of all the theatrics. Baden really didn't know what they had put up with for him; therefore all of them were getting sick and tired of getting banged over the head. "Does the boy sound like he's capable of answering you right now? Give it a rest."

"Excuse me?" snarled the pre-teen, pivoting so that his fearsome ire was laying straight on Traje. Fortunately for the lazy fifteen year old though, intimidation rarely worked on him although Baden wasn't entirely aware of this. "Oh, so you want to tell me how else you guys screwed up?"

Shrugging his shoulders apathetically, the lazy teen rolled his eyes disrespectfully at his 'leader.' "Not really, no. But since it'll make you shut up quicker, I'll consider it."

"Then stop thinking and start doing," lashed back Baden, starting to completely lose it. He hadn't envisioned his crew being this much of a pain to keep in line. He had heard that Traje was a handful, but words didn't give the kid justice.

Snorting dismissively at the suggestion, Traje narrowed his eyes and finished the narrative that Putzen and Erinnern began. "After Pui Pui, we were able to get back onto the ship and get out of Dodge. On the ship, there was a rather…heated discussion between Spiesen and me over whether to leave and accept Erinnern and Merken as losses or go after them. I wanted to leave them and Spiesen wanted to go after them. He won and we went back into the cauldron. Everything went swell until Frieza appeared out of nowhere and blew up our ship. Spiesen chose to sacrifice himself so we all could rescue our two brothers and get off the ship. And that's exactly what we did."

"So let's get this straight," muttered Baden, his glare utterly menacing as he compiled the sheer number of setback and casualties of what he thought was going to be a simple diversionary mission. "One of my greatest enemies is on the loose, Putzen's carelessness has exposed us to a potentially damning investigation, your ship—the only way any of you nincompoops are getting out of here discretely—is a piece of scrap, and, to put the cherry on top, one of my allies was killed in the resulting evacuation."

Breathing deeply, every Saiyan in the room knew Baden was utterly livid. His brow was furrowed, his teeth were furiously bared, and his upper lip was curled. And apparently he wasn't content to just glare them to death. "Un-freakin-believable. I didn't expect any of you to be such screw-ups. Seriously, next you are going to tell me that you don't know where Goku is!"

"My god!" shouted Baden, his entire form set alight by rage. He thought things could go wrong, but nowhere to this degree. This was sloppy, beyond amateur. And they were going to hear it. "Who did I hire? Who did I demand to join me? People of your ability should be smarter than this, more skillful. Amateurs—every single one of—"

"I've heard enough!"

Turning to where that interruption came from, Baden was greeted to the sight of Putzen standing straight in front of him. Without even as much as a `how do you do,' the seventeen year old cold-cocked his brother with a bone-breaking left hook, which sent Baden off his feet and right into the sitting room's fireplace.

Dazed and bloodied, Baden's hand subconsciously gravitated towards his nose. Moving the appendage slightly, the pre-teen could only groan when a sharp pain was emitted from the action. Clearly the facial feature was broken. `Just great.'

Not even close to finished, Putzen grabbed hold of Baden's shoulders and hoisted his younger brother up to eye level. Scowling murderously at the pre-teen, the teenager pushed the other boy into the wall, pinning him in place.

"You have a lot of nerve, you know that?" grumbled Putzen, unconsciously spitting on Baden's cheek as his arm's shook with indignation. "Do you have any idea of the sensitive spot that mission was to anybody that was actually there? You really don't have a clue about what you are talking about, and none of us can tolerate your ideal bullshit any longer. Don't pretend to lecture us on our faults on a mission that failed precisely because of you!"

Pausing to glower at Baden, Putzen took one hand and lifted Baden's chin so that the tween's eyes could only be aimed at his. "This entire mission is your fault, and we were the ones to pay the toll for your mistakes. If it wasn't for your pitiful record keeping and task management, that entire mission would've been unnecessary. And even then we had to do all the work because you spent that entire day freaking out like a feral dog. If it wasn't for you, none of us would've even had to have been there! Even the flaws of the mission itself are your fault! Pui Pui is not the type of opponent that you just assume you have killed; that kind of negligence almost did us all in!"

"Yes, we all made stupid decisions, but you are not the one to criticize us for them. Get off you high horse and come down to reality like the rest of us." And with that Putzen dropped Baden back onto the mantle of the fireplace and left the room.

Jumping back down onto the ground, Baden patted the dust and ash out of his uniform before sighing. "I think enough is enough for one day. You won't have to deal with me for at least a couple weeks. My time is up; it's time for me to go back to Cooler for some time. In the meantime, I have some responsibilities for the rest of you."

Turning to Traje, the pre-teen smirked, knowing that the lazy fifteen year old wasn't going to like what he was going to say. "You remember that four-year old from earlier? You are responsible for him. Make sure he doesn't get into trouble, train him a couple times a week, yada-yada. Don't make me regret this." The boy snorted when he got a languished groan in reply.

"As for you, Machen," remarked the tween, pivoting to face his eldest brother. "You know what I want from you."

"You got it," replied Machen, a sinister sneer plastered on his face. It didn't take a genius to figure out any interactions between those two was going to get ugly.

`This could get ugly,' mused Baden ruefully, knowing all about Machen's hatred of nobility. Perhaps leaving Vegeta in the hands of his notoriously brutal sibling may not be the best idea, but it wasn't like he had much of a choice. Hopefully, he wouldn't be greeted by a half-dead corpse when he got back. "Don't kill him though. He could be a useful bargaining chip in the coming days."

Bringing his attention back to the entire group, the pre-teen coughed before addressing everybody. "I have to be leaving now; I can't stall Cooler any longer and now have to go back from whence I came. In the meantime, enjoy Uyyasid—don't get yourself into too much trouble, I don't care." And with that, Baden left the room.

Apologies for the wait for this chapter and I hope you all enjoyed the twenty-second installment of CD. Officially, the preliminary arc is over and now CD transition into something somewhat different. What it will be though is a somewhat veiled secret. I guess y'all will see soon enough.

Announcement: in case any of you are interested, I have a second story that has officially been published that will alternate with CD. It's called Epiphany. If you like my writing here, you'll probably like it there.

Now for review replies:

S: In any case, I will say that the final part of this chapter was far too large. We never really got a chance to connect with our pudgy friend, so all this exposition at one time was really hard to take in, and some paragraphs really just felt like former paragraphs but worded differently. I would have gone for perhaps revealing such details of his life via the other Saiyans if/when Gohan asks about the subject. (Supersaiyaninfinitygohan).

R: The final scene was less about Spiesen and more about a philosophical point about what the CD verse actually is. Yes, I'll admit it can be convoluted, but I viewed (and still do) that scene as necessary to state. That and besides, none of the other Saiyans are even aware that Spiesen feels this because this is his metaphorical death-bed confession.

S: First off, I'll be honest: I'm kind of getting lost in the mess of OCs. I've been having a lot of trouble lately picturing or remembering what a lot of the original characters are supposed to look like, which makes it hard to visualize what's happening overall. I'm also having a hard time getting past the idea that there's a whole colony of Saiyans just camping out on some remote planet, especially when there were only supposed to be a handful of them left.

R: Yah, chapter seven was a bit of a toxic waste dump of information. Unfortunately, there are occasions when a metric ton of characters are introduced at one time. That being said, I do think I get better at introducing OC's and interpreting characters in a unique way in the coming chapters.

S: Now... I do have some criticism on the Vegeta scene. I don't want to say Baden is a Gary Sue... but he is treading the line dangerously close, in my opinion. It is still vague with him, but we know this: he is the mastermind behind an extremely large plan (seems to me that he's the smartest of the bunch), he was able to easily outwit Vegeta (and the king, and Gohan, and everyone else), and he absolutely dominated Great Ape Vegeta in his BASE form. All at the age of nine. I just have a difficult time liking his character because of this. Hopefully as things progress, he reverts down to Earth and gets a little bit flawed, which I have no doubt you plan to do.

R: Admittedly, I was thinking the exact thing even while writing it. Unfortunate, there really wasn't a way to resolve that confrontation that came to mind without portraying Baden as a Gary Stu momentarily. However, I have no intention of letting him get away with just out powering opponents (or at all, pretty soon). His mistakes and follies will come back to haunt him sooner than you think.

S: do have one concern though, and that pertains to how it seems like the Saiyans always get bailed out of their troubles (except for Spiesen). I mean, first it was Merken against Frieza, then it was Putzen against Pui Pui, and now it's Errinern vs. Pui Pui? It seems a bit too coincidental for them to always arrive at the precise moment, and that is also why I wanted one of them to die. Good thing that seems to be happening.

R: A lot of actions stories have coincidences, but it's true that I've become slightly enamored with the "last ditch save." . True though, I will try to cut down on them in later chapter. But yes, I didn't permit everybody to get out alive. The ship arc wouldn't have been the same without it. XD