A Monster's Apprentice
Part II: A Beast
I look over his slender physique, licking my lips. I have had a taste of that forbidden fruit before, and ever since I have hardly been able to stave off the desire for another bite. Still so young, merely a boy coming of age. Compared to his two brutish companions, disgusting roaches who escaped their fate, he is small and delicate. But beneath that tender exterior lies a heart that has rotted, now cold and black as the deepest reaches of space. I resist the urge to smile as I finish my appraisal of his young body.
"What have you come here for?" I ask, keeping my tone as neutral as I can manage. It amazes me still, seven years after acquiring this little morsel, that my emotions rage within me simply from looking at him. Ah, this must be what love will do to a man. Desire to own this wild beast fights with reason that dictates I must keep my distance. I rest my chin on my upturned hand, narrowing my eyes as I await his answer. Visibly, he shows no sign of anxiety, but I can practically hear his pulse quickening. What a delightful sound, made even more pleasant when I see the stony mask of stoicism he keeps so well.
"My lord," he says, taking a knee before me. His voice is delectable, growing deeper with age with an airy rasp that belies his past torments. I feel pride blooming in my chest whenever I hear it, knowing it was hours of screaming in desperate agony at my hands that changed his voice forever. I realize my attention was diverted when he continues, "We would like to be assigned a new mission."
My brows rise. "A new mission, little monkey?" I chuckle quietly, amused by the tightening of his fist that has become the sole sign of his anger. "I suppose you are eager to prove to me that you are not as incompetent as you showed during your last assignment."
Incompetent was hardly the word. He had merely…lost control momentarily. Not only did my young prince destroy all life on the planet to which he was assigned, but he marred the landscape irreparably, which had been a major selling point for that particular mudball. I see his shoulders tense and know he is reliving his last purge, remembering with perfect clarity the beams of ki he sent tearing through the magnificent mountain ranges and the craters he made in the lush valleys and forests. He shifts uncomfortably, staring beyond my throne to avoid eye contact, yet refusing to drop his gaze to the floor.
My sweet little demon of destruction, how I long to fold you in my arms and dote on you as I would my own child. I sigh, knowing that would never achieve the desired results. He looks at me warily, not knowing where my thoughts had been. I shrug. "If that is what you want, monkey," I tell him, waving him away. "Tell Zarbon I have authorized you for an assignment and he will arrange it."
He bows his head. "Thank you, Lord Frieza. I will not disappoint you."
"No," I whisper to myself as he leads the other saiyans out of my throne room, "I don't believe you will." I smile. His eagerness to kill is thrilling for me. It has only been two weeks since his last purge and he is already champing at the bit for another. Have you become so ruthless already, little prince? Have you found a way to assuage your boredom? Go, take the lives of the worthless scum of the galaxy!
I pace the length of the mess hall on my ship, glancing over my troops as they eat and share stories intended to impress any who would listen. I hear raucous laughter as they describe their expeditions, telling all the gory details of their killing and raping. But there is one table that is not crowded, from which there is no noise. I frown slightly when I see him there, alone aside from his two constant companions, inferior dogs hardly worthy of his presence. Alas, they are the last of his race, and to take them away would rend his heart anew. Perhaps at a later time. I wonder why it is he does not likewise boast, knowing he has killed more than many of those other fools combined.
I stop when I reach his table. He continues eating, pretending not to notice my nearness, or at least not to be bothered by it. I reach out and ruffle his mane of upswept hair, tangling my fingers in the feathery strands. He grits his teeth and finally looks up at me, unease flickering in his eyes.
"You are awfully quiet, my pet," I comment, gesturing around the hall to all the other men who were eager to tell more tales of glory and battle. "Is something the matter?"
He snorts, an endearing sound I have become quite fond of over the years of his servitude. "There is no need for me to go on about my work in this place, Lord Frieza."
My brow quirks in amusement and curiosity. "Whatever do you mean?"
His right shoulder lifts in a half-hearted shrug. "My lord, it matters not to me if any of these fools know my accomplishments. I report only to you." I see his Adam's apple bob as he swallows, likely fighting back the urge to retch after admitting such a thing. It makes me smirk triumphantly.
"Quite right, little prince," I chuckle, patting his shoulder and moving on. I can practically feel his obsidian eyes boring into me from behind, wondering what the significance of our exchange had been. Worry not, dear one, I simply wanted to be sure you felt no regret for your actions, a shame that would keep you silent. I see now that is not the cause of your reservation, and I am satisfied.
Zarbon knocks on the door to my personal chambers. I answer, not happy to be bothered, but rein in my anger when I see his agitation. I cross my arms over my chest. "Well, what is it?"
"It's the monkey, my lord," he says, grabbing my full attention.
"What of him?" I can feel my skin prickling as apprehension takes hold. Vegeta was sent away on a purge mission little over a month ago. He should be near completing his assignment. Had something gone awry?
"Lord, the saiyans have finished the purge, but Vegeta did not set his coordinates to return to base as you commanded." Zarbon draws himself to his full height. "I have come to request permission to send a retrieval squadron after him to bring him back for punishment."
I look up at him, tapping my chin with my finger. He assumes Vegeta has tried to escape, deserting my army for some unknown destination. This is hardly conceivable for me. My prince is a proud creature, not a coward who would run. I shake my head. "Do you know where he is going?"
"As far as we can tell, he has gone to a nearby planet. The locals there are," he pauses, his mouth twisting as he searches for the right word, "unwholesome, my lord. Crime there runs amuck."
I roll my eyes. "What is your point? Don't tell me you're afraid my dear Vegeta will mix with the wrong crowd."
A dash of pink flashes across Zarbon's face. "N-no, my lord, I simply worry that he will make an attempt to escape your surveillance."
"Are there guards posted on this planet?" I ask.
I nod thoughtfully. "Very well. Have them keep an eye on the little monkey once he lands. Have them send me a report hourly of his movement. I want to know where he goes, who he talks to, and what he does while there. Am I understood?"
"Yes, my lord," Zarbon replies, bowing low and turning to leave. I huff, considering what Vegeta might be up to. Oh well, I figure, shrugging it off. He will come back to me soon enough, willing or no. I will eagerly await the first report to come in.
A vigilante? I never would have believed it, but the news has me bursting with laughter until my stomach aches. I hardly think Vegeta was acting for the sake of justice, but whatever his motivation may be, he is killing the criminals inhabiting the godforsaken planet. I laugh harder, imaging the chaos and panic he is causing among the riffraff of the galaxy.
Vegeta, you precious gem, I await your explanation with bated breath.
He kneels before me, a smug smirk turning the corner of his lips up. I find it a rather attractive expression on his face. I look down at him, and rap my fingers impatiently on the armrest of my throne. "Where have you been, Vegeta?" I ask, feigning anger for his disappearance. Of course I know where he has been and what he has been doing, but I long to hear his story.
"Lord Frieza, I simply stopped on another planet on the way back to base," he explains. "I had heard there were a multitude of criminal organizations based there and desired to clean them out."
I laugh softly. "And why would you want to do that?"
He looks up at me now, fire burning in those onyx orbs, his smirk growing into a feral grin. I feel a shiver running down my spine when I see it: the bloodlust. "Because, my lord, I figured no one would mind my killing those worthless scum."
I lean forward, longing to hear him say the words that would make him fully mine. "Why bother?"
He shrugs, lifting his chin proudly. "Because I could, lord."
I clap my hands together, unable to wholly contain my excitement. Joy bubbles through my veins as I regard him with a new fondness. Because he could he killed tens, maybe hundreds of lowlife peons without orders. I see no remorse in those blazing eyes, no guilt. Still, they were hardly innocents; those he still only seemed to want to kill if he were ordered to. There was still work to be done. He had not yet reached the pinnacle of cruelty that I endeavored to push him to.
Clearing my throat, I again school my expression to be an unreadable mask. "I trust you enjoyed your outing?" He does not answer. I grin. "Very well, Vegeta, I will spare you punishment this time, but if you do such a thing again without my express permission, there will be consequences."
"Of course, my lord," he says, standing and bowing.
Normally when I stop at a supply planet I do not bother to leave my ship. I have no need to personally oversee the business involved. That is why I have subordinates. Nevertheless, I have been on my ship for far too long without venturing out, so I have elected to tour the capitol city along with Zarbon and Vegeta. Not only are they symbols of the power of my army, they are also my most prized possessions that I proudly display at my sides. I know neither of them have much interest in this city. For that matter, neither do I, but I believe I may get some amusement from the civilians as we pass by.
With no set destination in mind and no official escort, we roam the city. Zarbon walks at my right and Vegeta is on my left. I keep a close eye on the little prince, almost hoping to see some expression aside from his usual stoicism. Perhaps mild irritation, or, even better, embarrassment for being paraded around like a show animal. Unfortunately his expression reveals nothing, so I can only admire my pet's perfection – not that I mind. His back is always rigid and it appears every fiber of muscle is tense as if he is awaiting an attack at any moment. Paranoia? No, that isn't quite it. Rather than a sense of fear, I can feel expectation, almost anticipation.
Glancing around our surroundings, I smile. There are so many civilians wandering about, hardly aware of our presence. Are they blind or just stupid to not be aware of my presence? Do they not see my throne? Do they not notice my "guards" around me? Are they not overwhelmed by the power? Mindless peons, they could never comprehend my magnificence. It matters not. I have no business with the people of this planet, though they are subjects of my empire. I have no interest in them.
I am taken aback as a man runs in front of my small procession. He does not seem to see me, but could he really lack any skills of observation? Surely no one could be that brainless. These thoughts no sooner cross my mind than the man is no longer there. There is only a quick flash of light and a small wisp of smoke where he once was.
Of course I saw what happened. The man was annihilated without any ceremony by my dear pet. Amused, I bring my hands together in a single clap of approval. From the corner of my eye I see the slightest upturn in Vegeta's lips as he works to hide his smirk. Even Zarbon was not so quick to act. On my right I can feel his anger coming off him in waves. It is hard not to burst with laughter.
My dear Zarbon is never so quick to kill. It is not because he is a merciful being, but he is simply never so prepared to kill. He is far too relaxed, trusting not only in my strength but his own. He fears no attacks and expects no such thing from such weak creatures as those all around us. Likely he would have killed that disrespectful scum less than a second after Vegeta, but he was outdone. Oh, Zarbon, if you are not careful you will continue to lose to Vegeta. I care not what the difference in power is between these two. It matters not whether the one always by my side is the most powerful subject I have. I only want the most capable soldier to personally serve me.
I feel both amusement and pride swelling in my chest. My little prince has become such an indiscriminate and efficient killer. He has just revealed to me another beautiful step is his evolution to become my perfect creation.
I look at the glass of wine I hold in my hand, swirling it until it nearly splashes out. This boredom I feel is nearly unbearable as I await reports from my favorite possession. Vegeta has been away on a mission for several weeks. In his absence there is a terrible quiet aboard my ship. Rather than occasional explosions, alarms sounding, and news of fights amongst my soldiers, there is only the humming of the ship's engines and the clatter of footsteps in the corridors from time to time. I sigh heavily and take a sip of my wine.
In the silence I hear steady footsteps approaching the doors to my throne room. The strides are long, so I know it is Zarbon. I am torn between feelings of irritation and expectation. He has likely come to either deliver reports from purge missions or to receive instructions for more tedious projects. Before he enters I turn my throne away from the door to gaze into the vastness of space. I hear the doors open and close as he enters and then more footsteps before he stops and kneels.
"What is it, Zarbon?" I ask, making no effort to hide my sour mood.
He clears his throat softly before replying, "I have news of the monkeys, my lord."
My interest is immediately piqued. I can feel a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth as I gesture with my hand for Zarbon to rise and come to my side to speak. I take another sip of wine while I wait for his report.
Zarbon stands at my side, following my gaze into space. He never does seem to want to look at me when he is speaking of the little prince. I have often wondered why, but I imagine it is because of his jealousy for my affection. Though I never speak of my fondness for Vegeta, I know Zarbon is no fool. Surely he is aware of my feelings. I resist the urge to laugh at these thoughts. From the corner of my eye I see the tension in his body increase and he takes a deep breath as if to calm himself before speaking.
"The monkeys have completed their assignment," he tells me. His voice trembles slightly, increasing my interest. "However, Vegeta has once again acted foolishly."
Ah, so it was anger that Zarbon was trying to mask. I again stifle my laughter. "What has he done this time?" I ask.
"Apparently the mission had become too difficult for the weakling monkeys, so the fool took it upon himself to destroy the entire planet."
I cannot keep my eyes from widening when I hear this. Vegeta has destroyed a planet he was ordered to purge. But really, because he was having difficulty completing his assignment? I find this hard to believe. Regardless, my little prince has overstepped his authority by destroying a planet I had planned on selling. I rub my temple with my free hand. Foolish monkey, indeed. There will be no excuse acceptable for this behavior.
"Very well. He will report to me as soon as he returns." My hands clench into fists before I remember I am holding my wine. The glass shatters and wine splatters all over. I growl and throw the remains of the glass at the wall, only gaining a fragment of pleasure from the resulting dents in the metal.
Zarbon finally turns to me and bows. "As you command, lord." He straightens, again avoiding eye contact, and strides out of the room.
My dear prince, my shining jewel, why have you done something so foolish? My curiosity is eclipsed by my anger. Favored or not, he has failed his assignment and cost me a sizeable profit. I will not forgive him for this stupidity regardless of his reasons. I will punish him severely.
Vegeta kneels before me, his eyes piercing the floor in front of him. This is not the first time I have seen his eyes lowered before me, but I find it disappointing nonetheless. He only does this when he expects punishment beyond his endurance. To me, it appears he is admitting defeat, though I know he would never admit it. His pride would never allow such a thing. Even so, he is nervous and preparing himself for what is to come. Does he have no explanation then? No excuses? My anger that had ebbed the past two weeks returns in an instant as I watch his silent submission.
"You had better explain your actions, monkey," I say with an iciness only this little prince can ever bring out. It is perhaps because of my love for him that I can feel such fury when he disregards his orders and my authority. I have known from the first time I set eyes on him that he would never be tamed, and yet I have longed to make him conform to my will. Almost ironically I would cease to favor him if he were to ever break. That pride, that unyielding honor of his is what makes him so beautiful.
There is a momentary pause as he gathers the courage to speak. I see his fists tighten. If he were not wearing those white gloves, I would be able to see that his knuckles are the same color. Finally, he raises his chin and forces himself to meet my gaze. In those obsidian eyes I see the same stubborn flame of hatred and rebellion as always. That flame entrances me, and I can feel it trying to melt my resolve to harm this exquisite creature. I must resist the urge to coddle him.
"There is no explanation to offer, my lord."
My heart skips. I lean forward in my throne and reach out to him. My fingers curl under his chin and pull him closer to me until I can feel his breath on my face. "What do you mean there is no explanation?"
Now I can see panic in his eyes though he gives no other outward sign. His fear is nearly palpable. Before I know it I can feel something warm trickling down my fingers and the smell of blood fills the air. He does not show his pain with even the slightest wince, but I can hear a sharp intake of breath. My anger is beginning to cloud my judgment. My little prince, do not dare be so weak in front of me.
"My lord, the mission was more than my squadron could handle. The natives were stronger than expected. If I had not destroyed the planet, we would have been killed." As if being crushed with shame his words grow quieter. "In order to survive I had no choice. If we had retreated we would have been pursued."
My eyes narrow. I can hardly bear to look at this pathetic creature. What has happened to the proud prince I love? His eyes are strangely dull now. They seem empty, lifeless, like the eyes of a doll. I have no need for such a thing. Still holding his chin, I raise my arm and whip his body across the room. He crashes into the wall with a sharp crack and falls to the floor in a lifeless heap. A pained groan escapes his throat followed by his ragged, heavy breathing. I see blood pooling around his body and sneer.
"Because you feared for your life you destroyed the whole planet?" I shriek. "Foolish, pathetic monkey! It would be better for you to die than to return to me without any profitable merchandise!"
I glare at him as he slowly pushes himself to his hands and knees, coughing up gobs of blood. His body shakes with the effort and his arms nearly buckle under his weight. The flood of anger has passed and now I am filled with such disappointment I can only scream. I have not worked so hard to raise him for this! He was supposed to be made perfect in my image! To think I have wasted years of time on this stupid, disgusting animal. And yet… and yet I can feel no hatred for him. How deep is my love for this thing? This… this…
Words fail me, so I turn away from him. The unspoken command to remove him from my presence has been given. Immediately I hear guards dragging Vegeta's beaten body from the room. I look down at my hand. Without thinking I raise my hand to my lips and taste the blood of my useless pet. The taste is as delectable as ever. Cursing, I wipe the rest of the blood off on a handkerchief and toss it aside.
How could he abandon his honor as a warrior for the sake of survival? He has lowered himself to the level of a simple beast.
A stupid, ugly beast.
I rest my chin in my hand and stare out into space. He survived. It is only now that I realize my relief that he chose survival over the death of a lowly pawn. I sigh and close my eyes. It may be true that he is a beast, but he is undoubtedly the most magnificent beast in my empire. Now is not the time to feel disappointed in my work; there is simply more to be done. If he can kill without remorse, if he can kill without orders, and if he can survive even if it means forfeiting his pride, he is already close to becoming the ultimate creation I seek.
A/N: Wow, it's been almost 2 years since I've updated this. Sorry for the long wait! I can't say I've been writing anything for at least a year...Still, I hope to finish all of my stories eventually. But, with being in grad school now... I don't see that happening anytime soon.
To anyone who has sent me messages and left me reviews during my hiatus, thanks a bunch! I still enjoy them very much even if I'm not currently updating things. Anyway, I hope you all have a happy new year! As a special gift I'll try to update another story before my winter break is over.