Chapter 1: Revenants


Darkness enveloped him. Twisting through the blackness, he floated, broken. Through the haze of blood obscuring his one remaining eye, Frieza assessed the damage to his body and tried to make sense of just what had happened.

In the span of – what was it, a few days? – he had gone from self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe, master of most of the known galaxy, to…this. Helpless, isolated, and dying in the void. His goal of immortality shattered, his men all dead, his ship destroyed, and at the top of the list, that accursed Saiyan was to blame for all of it. No…not just one Saiyan. Though Vegeta had been the one to throw a proverbial monkey wrench in his plans, as Frieza had always known he would, in the end he could have recovered from that setback.

If it hadn't been for him…that mysterious Saiyan from Earth, appearing from the blue to stand in the way of any hope he had to recuperate his losses. It had all spiraled out of control so quickly… Frustrated, the tyrant grit his teeth, then screamed soundlessly into the void, railing against the pain and the encroaching darkness.

Son Gohan had been dozing off after a long study session, his head propped on his elbows, resting on the desk. A slowly warming glass of juice sat next to him on a coaster, thoughtfully brought by his mother earlier that morning. Everything had returned to normal…or at least, what he remembered as normal. His early childhood had been one of nurturing and learning, before life had been turned upside-down by the arrival of Raditz. After that day, he was forced to grow up, and grow stronger, under his mentor Piccolo's tutelage. Though the Namek could be – and still in many ways was – vicious and gruff, the young boy knew that in his heart of hearts, Mr. Piccolo had made a choice to be better than what fate had cast upon him.

Sighing, he reflected on memories of training, battles, and of venturing to Namek to revive all of their friends. "I wonder what Mr. Piccolo is doing right now?" the boy yawned. "Probably meditating, or training for when my dad gets back…man, I wish we knew when he'd come home…" He frowned, thinking back to the last time they'd spoken. On a backdrop of flame-colored sky, on the crumbling planet, his father had told him, no, yelled at him, to take Piccolo and leave using his ship. It was so unlike Dad to yell like that, Gohan thought to himself. 'Before then, I don't think I ever recall seeing him mad at anyone before.'

"At least, after all that, Frieza was finally defeated and the Namekians got to go to their new home." He leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head with another yawn. "I'd better finish these essays before Mom comes to check on me, or else she'll think I was slacking off or someth-"

A sudden sensation flickered across the half-Saiyan's consciousness. He fell backwards, ignoring the minor pain as the chair connected with his back and the floor. Rolling to his feet, he stood, mouth agape, hands shaking.

"That's…that's…" His throat suddenly felt dry, his heartbeat quickening. 'Why? How?!'

"N-no…way…how could he be alive still..?" Fear consumed the boy, his knees beginning to shake.

"…Mom? Mom! Hey! I…I'm going out for a while, okay?!" He tried to force his voice to come out calmly, to not betray the swelling fear in his heart. From downstairs, he thought he heard his mother asking what was wrong.

'No time to explain…and I don't want her to try to stop me…' he thought as he tugged on the Saiyan armor, not even dusty yet, that he had hidden beneath his bed. Throwing open the window, he leapt into the clear blue sky.

Krillin was already in flight, wearing his trademark orange gi. Though Porunga had revived him and restored the Saiyan armor he had worn on Namek, he felt most comfortable, and also most safe, in this gi, however illogical it sounded. 'Even if I did wear that armor, it's not like it really helped in the end…' he grimaced, briefly remembering his last moments alive on the planet Namek. It felt cheap, like his life was fragile enough to be snuffed out without a fight. He had struggled, had fought Frieza's psychic grip on his body, but it had overtaken him so quickly that he wondered if it had even made a difference. Now, he'd be damned if he was going to wear that armor again to face Frieza, when he had the choice to display his Kame school uniform. The armor was a symbol, as far as he was concerned, of the Saiyans, of Frieza, of everything evil, vile, and corrupt in the universe. Nobody who wore that armor had ever proven themselves an ally, and besides, it just didn't feel right.

From the corner of his eye, he spotted Gohan, whom he'd felt flying towards him earlier. He wondered if Chi-Chi had let the boy go, or if Gohan had just taken off. Knowing Goku's wife, he guessed it was the latter.

"Hey kiddo! Long time no see! Shame it's under these circumstances, but hey, I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that massive power… I'd be a little worried if it was just me, you know?"

Gohan smiled and waved in greeting. "Yeah, I thought I was going crazy at first too. But, it's really Frieza again, isn't it?" His expression shifted from a friendly smile to genuine concern.

"Yeah… and it feels like he's not alone, too. I've got a bad feeling about this, Gohan. I just hope, wherever your dad is, he feels it too."

"I… He's gonna come help, Krillin, just wait and see. I know he will!" Krillin wanted to reassure Gohan, but part of him wondered if his friend really would come and save them, like he did on Namek.

"Gohan, I know you believe in your dad, but… well… if he doesn't come, we've gotta worry about ourselves, okay? I don't want you to hold back out there for any reason, alright? You might not realize it, but other than Vegeta and Piccolo, you're the strongest one out of all of us." 'And certainly more likely than either of them to help us,' he thought. 'If we have to rely on their strength…well, it's not the same situation as Namek. Neither one of them has any incentive to help us, besides saving their own skins, and we certainly can't control either of them if they decide to hang us out to dry.'

Up ahead, Tenshinhan, Chaotzu, and Yamcha came into view. Bulma, not content to sit out this battle, had convinced Yamcha to let her tag along. The blue-haired woman was currently following the pack in a lightweight plane. Vegeta was flying some distance away from the others, silently fuming in the garish Earth clothes that Bulma woman had given him. Krillin and Gohan fell into formation beside them, and filled them in on everything they knew about Frieza on the way towards where the huge power levels had stopped.

'That power is huge! It has to be him. There's only one being in the universe more sadistic and powerful than Frieza…' Vegeta thought, a sick feeling growing in his stomach. He glanced at the humans and Kakarot's brat, rehashing their battle on Namek against Frieza. 'They have no idea what they're going into, not a clue.'

"…so remember guys, we can't let him attack the planet. If he does, we're all done for. Got it?" Krillin, his face serious, had finished his explanation, to which the others nodded in understanding.

"Great, so this guy could even destroy the Earth?" Yamcha moaned. "Just when I get wished back, I might have to put up with another year of Kaiou-sama's bad jokes and worse cooking again…"

"Well, nobody said you had to train, Yamcha." Chaotzu replied.

Tenshinhan interjected, "You could try just going to Otherworld like everyone else, Yamcha. You've already proved yourself in battle, so no-one would hold it against you." In response, Yamcha bit his lip and mumbled something about wasting time being a ghost while the others were getting stronger. The rest of the trip was uncomfortably silent, as every fighter considered the probability of their death today. Just getting closer to the unnaturally high power made the humans especially uneasy.

Piccolo had sensed the powers before any of the earthlings, and had made his way to their origin earlier. Now, carefully concealed behind an outcropping of rock in the desert landscape, he took in the massive ship. Extending his senses, he carefully assessed every life on the vessel. There they were: two enormous powers. That had to be Frieza and… who else? The Namek frowned unconsciously. Unless Frieza had the power to duplicate himself, that other power felt suspiciously similar…what's worse, it had the quality of stillness to it, like a deep body of water, with a nary a ripple at the surface. In comparison, Frieza's power felt slightly different from before. It felt jittery and electric, so different from the relentless surge of rage he had felt from the tyrant on Namek. 'What is going on?' he wondered. 'He's supposed to be dead, and even if he isn't, he should be weaker… unless, like a Saiyan, he gets stronger when he's beaten…' A grim expression masked his green face. This whole situation seemed unwinnable, no matter how he considered it. A flicker of ki behind him caught his attention. Great. The humans were here, weak as they were. 'Damn it, they brought that loud-mouthed woman with them. Just what I need, a useless noncombatant on the sidelines, on top of everything else we have to worry about..!' He exhaled in frustration; they'd all only get in the way if he needed to go all out. Unlike him, the other fighters weren't serious about improving while dead, he felt.

"Gohan, Krillin, good to see you came." Gohan turned at the sound of his mentor's voice, a bright smile already on his face. "Piccolo! Boy I'm glad you're here; you must've felt those two powers like we did. Which do you think is Fri-" He was cut off by a stern look from the tall Namek.

"Quiet Gohan, unless you want to get us all killed here before we understand what we're up against." He hissed. "Keep your powers and your voices down. Got it?"

Suddenly remembering the situation, the half-Saiyan obediently masked his power. "So, uh, Mr. Piccolo… which one is Frieza? They both feel like him, only not completely…" The others looked expectantly at the Namek, apparently wondering the same thing.

"I don't know. We'll have to wait here and press our advantage – it looks like nobody on that ship can sense us out here yet." The Namek crossed his arms, his cape billowing around him in the hot breeze.

They did not have to wait long. Above the round ship, a small squadron of fighters emerged from the central hatch. They were all different races, but had one thing in common: they were relatively weak. The Earth warriors breathed a sigh of relief, until they felt the remaining powers on the ship stirring.

"This is it, guys." Krillin intoned in a steady voice. He gulped, his throat suddenly parched. He flashed back to Frieza's laughter ringing in his ears as he shot into the air against his will, struggling against the invisible grip, and then… Krillin blinked, and clenched his shaking fist harder. 'No, this time will be different. Goku…'

Inside the imposing ship, Frieza was lost in thought. 'I've become stronger, I feel it… now, at long last, I will exact my revenge!' He smiled in anticipation. 'The Saiyan called Son Goku will be nothing more than a bad memory, and I…' His thought was abruptly cut off by a soldier's entry into his line of sight.

"Your Highness, we are prepared to disembark, whenever you and Prince Frieza are ready." Frieza scowled at the insignificant minion, who was dutifully ignoring him.

'They never look directly at me. It's not out of respect to my father, either.' His hand unconsciously strayed to his mechanical arm, gripping where it connected to his flesh. 'Damn it, just a little longer and I'll be free of this pain.' His father briefly nodded to acknowledge his subordinate, before catching sight of Frieza.

"Cease that show of weakness at once." The rebuke came with narrowed eyes, but an even, cold tone of voice. "If you are too weak to fight, then simply stay on the ship and observe, and we can make… other arrangements." Frieza tensed with anger at his father's words.

"I'm fine." he tersely responded. He deliberately put his arms at his sides, curling both hands into tight fists. "Father, you know that this is my fight. I would never back down from an opportunity to redeem myself here." 'I'll show you,' he thought, 'I will redeem myself in your eyes again, now and forever.'

"Then, let us disembark, my son. The last of the Saiyans will die this day, and our clan will restore our status as the undisputed masters of this galaxy." Kold rose from his seat, briefly stretching his tail behind him before making his way to the central hatch of the ship. Frieza followed obediently behind, careful not to betray any weakness in his stride, his thoughts now only on the duty ahead of him.

"Oh man, here they come… what power…" Krillin's eyes were wide as he spoke, while the others were momentarily speechless as two figures emerged from the spacecraft. Piccolo was the first one of the fighters to cease his gaping, and muttered a curse under his breath.

"Looks like our suspicions were on the mark; there are two of them this time… what I can't figure out is just how Frieza recovered so quickly…" Beside him, Vegeta growled, though the others could tell that, just like they were, he was rattled by the power they all now felt.

"Fool, of course Frieza recovered as quickly as he did, his empire contains scientists of the highest echelons, you don't think they could patch him up, even after a fight with a Super Saiyan?"

"Well Vegeta, if you know so much, then how about filling us in on the big guy down there? Just who the hell is he?" Vegeta glared at Krillin, seemingly about to tell him off, before spitting to the side in disdain.

"Ignorant, sheltered little human, of course you wouldn't know… that 'big guy', as you so put it, is none other than King Kold. He's Frieza's father, but more importantly, he's many times stronger than Frieza himself."

As shocked as they were upon first seeing the giant Arcosian, the other fighters were even more surprised to learn that this was Frieza's father. Gohan asked, "So…if that's his dad, and you said he's really strong, then how're we going to win? He's not stronger than my Dad, is he? Is he?!" The kid looked like he was on the verge of panicking, Vegeta thought.

'Such a show of weakness… it's embarrassing that this sniveling brat has Saiyan blood at all!' "Listen, brat, your father isn't coming, and even if he was, it's not enough, Kold is too strong for anyone to take… not even a Super Saiyan can save us now." The prideful prince hated to admit defeat…but this was the one and only person in the universe who he feared more than Frieza himself. 'If only I had been chosen by fate to become the legend, instead of that soft-hearted excuse for low-class trash..!' "Damn!"

As his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight outside the ship, Frieza took in the landscape. "Hmm, not too bad of a planet… a shame I'll have to reduce it to a smoldering husk, but it can't be helped." He grinned confidently at his father, "The time is at hand, and I know just how to smoke out that Saiyan from wherever he's been hiding!"

Kold, unmoved by his son's show of exuberance, responded, "That is, if he is even alive, Frieza. After seeing what was left of that planet you carelessly blew up, I have trouble believing that a mere Saiyan could survive such destruction." Frieza's face fell, annoyance creeping into his voice.

"I saw him, Papa. I told you, he is alive! I have no doubts!" Kold moved his tail in a slight shrug.

"You may have no doubts, Frieza, but you must promise not to be too disappointed if this 'Super Saiyan' fails to respond to your bait." Lightning crackled around him, a smirk tugging at his features, as Frieza silently fumed in response.

"You'll see, father. I know what I saw, just like I know he'll be h…" He trailed off suddenly, his confident expression morphing into one of express panic.

"What is the matter, Frieza?" Kold frowned at his son, who was now standing stock still, except for the lightning wrapping around his mechanical body in livid arcs, his jaw slack, eyes wide and staring.

"D-don't you see him? He's…h-he's here!" The smaller Arcosian choked out, staring off into the distance towards a small bluff. "I…I'll k-kill you, Saiyan..!" He growled, tensing his hand until blood seeped from his clenched fist. The soldiers who had exited the ship before the pair were furtively glancing at Frieza's display, with no small amount of nervousness.

Kold stood directly in front of his son, tail slowly swishing back and forth under his cape with growing annoyance. "There is no-one there, Frieza. You are testing my patience" he growled. Frieza's eyes seemed to focus again as he remembered himself and relaxed, the lightning crackling to nothing.

"…Forgive me, Papa, I… I thought I saw… he was…"

Kold snorted in disdain. "I have a feeling that this trip of yours isn't for honor at all, but just a waste of my time! My patience on this worthless mudball of a planet is wearing dangerously thin, so you would be wise to get this over with. No more of your excuses."

The Arcosian prince withered under his father's gaze, shame burning in his face. 'He's right, I can't procrastinate like this. The longer I go without the treatments, the worse it gets… it won't be long, now.' Drawing himself up to his full height, Frieza strode towards his father's warriors.

"All of you - scatter and use your scouters to scour this planet. I want every living thing on this rock screaming in agony within the hour, or you'll be the ones punished! Have I made myself perfectly clear? Not a single Earthling left alive! I want the Saiyan to suffer!" As he spoke, his eyes flashed from within with the same electricity that shrouded his body. The soldiers wasted no time in taking to the air, just as intent on distancing themselves from their masters as they were on following their orders.

"Oh shit! Here we go guys!" Yamcha exclaimed as the weaker aliens took off. Krillin nodded in hasty agreement.

"Surprise doesn't matter anymore, we've gotta stop those goons from hurting any innocent people! Come on Gohan, stick with me!" He leapt into the air, followed closely by the young hybrid. The others hastily took to the sky, fanning out to intercept the low-ranking soldiers.

Vegeta screamed towards a knot of soldiers, his aura already flaring brightly. "Looks like today's not your lucky day, you worthless peons!" At the insult, a burly, scaled alien took aim with his blaster and fired, only to falter backwards in surprise as the Saiyan prince emerged from the smoke unscathed. "Not your lucky day at all", he said as he kneed the man in the gut with enough force to crush or break all the organs and bones in his path. As the first alien limply fell to the ground below, he turned his attention to the other two. One looked to be some sort of long-snouted, feral looking brute, while the other had bright red skin and short horns protruding from a thick mop of silver hair. They both looked terrified. Vegeta's face twisted into a wide grin, drinking in their fear before dispatching them both with one ki-blast that engulfed them until they were ash.

Elsewhere, Tenshinhan and Chaotzu had picked off another soldier, and were teaming up to bombard a second from all different angles, their speed rendering them blurs of motion. Yamcha grappled briefly with a tall humanoid alien, before unleashing a Wolf Fang Fist to the fighter's head, snapping his skull back with a crack. "Hey guys, you look like you could use some help!" he yelled in his comrades' direction. Just as Yamcha had finished his suggestion, Tenshinhan and Chaotzu blurred into view, having sandwiched the unfortunate minion between two simultaneous kicks. He wheezed wetly and fell from the sky, landing with a thud far below.

"Nah, we're fine here! You better worry about yourself though, Yamcha." Chaotzu called, motioning at the orange-skinned alien coming up behind the scar-faced former bandit. The desert rogue merely smirked and raised his arm in a backfist, connecting with the alien's bulbous forehead and shattering his scouter. Moments later, the alien crashed to the ground.

"These guys are small fry; I don't even need to put my guard up!" Yamcha smiled.

Watching the one-sided fights with mild disinterest, Kold sighed and glanced sideways at his son. "Are you going to waste all of my troops on these weaklings, or are you going to dispatch them?" Frieza's face was inscrutable. "I didn't realize you cared for their lives. I'd just as soon let them die – they'll only serve to draw the Super Saiyan to our location. You know how they have an uncanny ability to home in on a fight, these Saiyans…" In the back of his mind, despite the calculated coldness in his voice, Frieza was worried.

'What if he doesn't come? What then? Maybe…I was wrong? Maybe that infernal ape truly is dead.' But then, what was this sense of foreboding? It wasn't an aftereffect of the drugs or the other treatments. It felt as though his soul was screaming at him to remain on guard. He'd had the same sort of premonition on Namek, shortly before it had all fallen apart, though at the time, he'd mistakenly attributed it to Vegeta's actions.

'Hmmm, looks as though the earthlings have almost finished off father's soldiers…well, it won't hurt to test my new powers a bit, before the Super Saiyan gets here…' He chuckled to himself, imagining Son Goku's face when he arrived to see the mangled bodies of his friends. 'Yes, that's right, monkey. I am going to take everything away from you, for everything you've robbed me of!' He saw the last alien in his father's ranks fall, and took that as his cue. Taking off, he flew with amazing speed towards one of the humans, body crackling with energy. 'Just a punch should be enough to take this one out' he thought, 'and scare the rest into either fighting or begging for their lives.' A malicious grin crossed his face as his fist connected with flesh, eliciting a satisfying crunch.

Krillin and Gohan, after teaming up against their opponents, now turned as they felt Frieza's ki rising, and stared in shock for a few moments. Krillin reacted first, screaming, "Yamcha, look out!" As if in slow motion, the scarred human turned towards his friend's voice, in time to see Frieza bearing down on him at high speed.

"A…Aaaagh!" The former bandit screamed, hastily trying to block in time. Tenshinhan winced as he saw the blow connect, Yamcha having lifted his arm in a hasty block in front of his body. "D..damn…" he breathed, "such speed…"

The resounding crunch of bone on bone was followed a split second later by Yamcha howling in pain, clutching his right arm. Bloody trails oozed from the splintered bone visible protruding from his forearm. Upon seeing and hearing his handiwork, Frieza smiled and floated back in the air, arms crossed. "Well…it seems that you're a more resilient insect than I expected. Guess I'll just have to squash you again! Ahahaha!" Yamcha was in agony, still moaning and grimacing, his mangled arm twitching.

"Leave him alone Frieza! You monster..!" Everyone looked at Krillin, from whom the outburst had come. "You're…you won't win. Not here. Goku beat you on Namek, and he's going to beat you again…but until he gets here, you'll just have to settle for all of us!" Gohan nodded his agreement, taking a strong stance at Krillin's side. Piccolo and Vegeta, finished dispatching their share of minions, came to a halt behind Frieza, surrounding the cyborg.

"Chaotzu, take Yamcha, and get him out of here. It's no use, he can't fight in his condition, and we don't have any senzu right now." Tenshinhan motioned for his long-time friend to attend to Yamcha, secretly relieved that, hopefully, Chaotzu would be out of harm's way. Things were starting to get serious, and he couldn't help but think of how stubborn he'd been against Nappa…and all for nothing. Setting his jaw with grim determination, the three-eyed human placed himself between Yamcha and Chaotzu, and the enemy before them.

"So then," Frieza began in a taunting tone, "you plan to hold me off until the Super Saiyan comes to your rescue? My, what a hopeless fantasy that will prove to be…"

Krillin, his fists shaking – with rage or fear, his friends couldn't tell – snapped, "You've got that right, Frieza! In case you forgot, we were more than a match for you on Namek before you transformed, and this time it's no different!" Frieza's smile only widened at the bold response.

"I have to hand it to you…humans" - he spat the word as if it was distasteful – "you're second only to Saiyans in your stubbornness. Unlike Saiyans, however, you are far less durable!" He screamed, powering up, feeling his energy bubbling outwards, drinking in the sudden fear on the Earthlings' faces, where moments earlier there was defiance. The Namek and Vegeta, of course, were still holding their ground, but no matter.

"Haaa!" He launched a ki wave at the one with three eyes, who yelled in response, dispelling the crush of energy slicing towards him. "Now die!" He sped behind the man, firing a death beam at his back…only to have the afterimage dissipate in its wake. "…Where?!" He scanned the immediate area, before looking up to see the green-clad warrior charging a peculiar attack, fingers arranged in a triangle. "You think that can hurt me..? How amusing…" He narrowed his eyes in sudden pain, feeling two blasts strike him from either side. 'It's those two brats again, the same as on Namek! Damn them!' His attention on Gohan and Krillin, he took his focus off of Tenshinhan.

"Kikoho!" Tenshinhan bellowed, sending his entire gathered power straight down at the distracted tyrant. 'The diversion worked perfectly', he thought, 'Gohan and Krillin were right, this guy can't sense energy in the slightest.' The beam of pure energy hit, clashing against Frieza's aura with a roar.

"Raaaargh!" Frieza struggled against the attack briefly, before the dense block of light hammered him into the ground below.

"All right, we got him!" Gohan said exuberantly.

"Not yet, Gohan…it's never been that simple, and this is Frieza we're dealing with." Krillin intoned. As if on cue, the alien warrior burst from the depths of the crater, slightly scuffed and burned, but otherwise unharmed.

"I told you, foolish little humans. You can't beat me, let alone kill me." His voice was hushed, his red eyes glaring at them as though by will alone he would make them cower. "But, you've put forth a good effort. If you were not already my enemies, I would offer to have you join me. After all, you did wipe out my best men on Namek… However, you made the mistake of making me your enemy, and I don't let my enemies live." Frieza ground out the last word, raising his hand with one finger outstretched. Tenshinhan realized that the tyrant was aiming at him.

"Do your worst, I've been training, so I'm not afraid of your weak attacks, monster!" he was doing his best to provoke the creature into focusing on one of them at a time, and so far, the plan was working. 'This Frieza character seems to lack any sense of strategy – or maybe, Tenshinhan thought, he doesn't realize the danger.' He snapped out of his thoughts as the death beam shot through the air at him. As Tenshinhan warped away from the path of the deadly blast, Piccolo and Vegeta, who had been charging attacks in Frieza's blind spot, struck.

Frieza glared at the three-eyed human who had insulted him as he vanished again. Suddenly, above him, the Namek appeared, his whole arm cloaked in energy. "Wh-what the-?!" Frieza was blindsided by Vegeta, attacking him from below. 'Damnit!' he thought. 'That traitorous monkey and the Namek! How dare they!' Vegeta and Piccolo, taking advantage of Frieza's momentary surprise, pressed their advantage.

'We only have one shot at this, and if what Vegeta said is right, we might be able to win this if we can just disable him enough..!' Piccolo thought. Swooping down from above the tyrant, he used his ki-enhanced arm to grip and drive Frieza's outstretched hand down. Simultaneously, the Saiyan Prince came up from below with his own ki-sheathed palm strike, catching the Arcosian's arm just above the elbow as the Namek forced it down.

The scream that tore its way out of Frieza's mouth was nothing short of bone-chilling, as the two warriors, their work done, quickly moved out of striking range as Frieza began blindly lashing the air around him with his metal tail. "Damn you, damn you ALL!" he roared. 'Argh…my arm…' he thought, gritting his teeth in pain. 'they baited me..!'

Below the aerial fight, King Kold stood, unmoving. He had been quiet as a statue in the shadow of his ship, silently spectating. He saw no reason to interfere, even as he watched the Namek and...what was his name? Vegeta, yes, that's what the Saiyan was called. Only a slight switching of his tail betrayed any reaction to their combined attack, and his son's subsequent keening. 'Really, that boy needs to learn better control...' he thought, 'those cretins are making a fool of him, and he's too impulsive to learn from his mistakes!'

Electricity crackled around Frieza's broken cybernetic arm as his emotions surged. "Think you're smart, do you, Vegeta?" He faced the smirking warrior. "A little victory, one broken arm, and you think you've won? Even you can't be so delusional!" Frieza was screaming now, his patience wearing thin. Without warning, he flashed through the air, closing the gap and burying his good arm in Vegeta's midsection.

"…" The prince's eyes bulged, blood and spittle flying from his mouth. Frieza smiled cruelly. "That's more like it. You know Vegeta, I like you better with a pained look on your face than that cocky little grin." He got in another knee to Vegeta's gut before Tenshinhan flew to the rescue, blasting him away.

"Grr…we can't let him corner one of us like that…you okay, Saiyan?" In response, the proud prince straightened himself up with some effort, wiping the trickle of blood from his mouth.

"Why don't you worry about yourself and your weak little friends, Earthling? My plan worked perfectly!"

Krillin interrupted them. "Guys, focus here. Frieza's injured, but his power's still holding steady, so we've gotta be on our toes."

"Look out Krillin!" Gohan suddenly yelled. Frieza had seemingly recovered from the shock of a broken arm, and had sent a barrage of blood-red energy beams at the group.

"Everyone! Scatter!" Tenshinhan shouted. The others flitted away, and as one, began to attack Frieza from all sides.

'Just…gotta…wear him…down..!' Krillin thought, sending a right hook at Frieza's jaw.

The humans, Namek, and Vegeta were all in a swarm around him, and Frieza was forced onto the defensive. 'Where is the Super Saiyan?! I didn't come here to fight these insolent wretches!' that thought was dissipated by a sharp pain as the short, bald human punching him in the face. 'How?! How did they improve this much? Why the hell am I having such trouble with this?' He growled, raising his power even more, until the electricity around him flashed jaggedly. Drawing his one good arm in and pulling his knees to his chest, he pulled all of his energy inward. Then, with a shout, he released it in a roiling sphere of lightning, a barrier around him that sent his assailants back, screaming as the electricity licked their skin. Panting, his left arm swinging useless at his side, Frieza decided, 'that's it. I've had it with playing with these inferior worms. Super Saiyan or no Super Saiyan, I'm through with these upstarts.' He didn't want to admit it, but they seemed stronger, somehow, and that made him uneasy. "It's been fun, humans, but I'd hate to give you any sense of hope. It would be too cruel, even for me, to delude you! Hahahaha!"

Krillin only saw a white-and-metal blur out of the corner of his eye, before he felt his head snap back from the vicious blow. "Gah!" he cried out as he flew backwards, flipping midair to finally halt his momentum. Rubbing his jaw, he gasped in shock. Tenshinhan was falling to Earth, blood pouring from his mouth. Piccolo floated shakily, doubled over in pain, and Vegeta…he scanned the sky. Looking below, he finally saw Vegeta lying on the ground in a crater. 'But then where's…oh no…' Spinning around, he caught sight of Gohan just as Frieza backhanded the boy. "Gohan! No!" The orange-clad monk dove to the young fighter's aid, catching him as he fell. Before he could ask if he was alright, Krillin felt a knee impact his spine, making him crumple mid air, and lose his grip on the child.

"So, still alive, eh? I guess I'll have to deal with you like I did last time. Wouldn't that be nostalgic?" Frieza's voice behind Krillin made his blood run cold, as he struggled to move.

"Krillin! Oh no…" Gohan had recovered after being dropped, and now strove to fly back up to where his father's friend hovered like a sitting duck. Meanwhile, Krillin had put his pain aside, and spun around, hands to his head.

"Taiyoken!" he screamed, light flooding the battlefield. Gohan shielded his eyes in recognition of the attack, but Frieza was not expecting the short human to have much fight left in him.

"Augh, my eyes! Why you little-!" With his left arm broken, Frieza resisted the urge to use his right to instinctively cover his face, leaving him completely open to attack. 'This tactic again…grr…these humans and their tricks are starting to piss me off!'

Back on the ground, Kold hissed at the sudden burst of light that overwhelmed his sense of sight. "Khhh, these insects are starting to annoy me..!" As his vision cleared, he could make out, albeit blurry, the sight of the short human preparing a curious looked almost like a Kienzan. 'Hmph, there's no way that such a primitive creature could manipulate ki as we can...' As his sight fully focused, he saw that it was, by all accounts, indeed a Kienzan. "Impressive, for such an insignificant creature..." He briefly considered shouting a warning to the younger Arcosian, who still looked as though he were struggling, before dismissing the idea with a half-smile. "On your guard, Frieza." he whispered to himself with an upward flick of his tail.

A faint buzzing sound caught Frieza's attention, and robbed of sight as he was, he immediately remembered what it was. "Shit!" He cursed as he dove to the side, the buzzing sound growing louder. He felt something brush his face, then the sensation of blood dripping down his jaw line. Vision slowly returning, he probed his cheek, finding a small gash there. 'Damn…that was too close…I have to put these humans down, or they'll-' His thought was interrupted by Gohan smashing into his chest full-force, forcing him to focus on the kid's attack.

"Well well, I can tell that you're at least partially Saiyan, brat. Unfortunately, you've got none of the Saiyans' killing instinct in you, huh?" The tyrant taunted Gohan, who was shaking in rage.

"…friends…alone!" he growled, fists balled.

Frieza smiled. "I think that I'll kill all of them in front of you, how does that sound?" He looked behind the child at the small bald fighter. He was panting hard, though he was still glaring angrily at Frieza. 'That one's no longer a threat…' he thought smugly. Gohan ground his teeth together, his voice quavering.

"You just wait, Frieza! Wait'll my Dad gets here! Then you'll be sorry! He's gonna stop you, just like he did on Namek!" Frieza's smile instantly disappeared, replaced by a scowl.

"He didn't stop me on Namek, boy, if he did, then what am I doing here? And where is he?" For a moment, the half-Saiyan's stance faltered as he looked unsure, but he renewed his composure.

"He's coming! I know he'll come, and you're gonna pay for what you did to Mr. Piccolo, Krillin, and everybody else!" He jerked backwards as Frieza suddenly appeared right before him, leaning down to stare him directly in the eyes.

"Will he come?" Frieza spoke evenly, with an eerie calm in his voice. "If I make you scream, if I break every bone in your feeble body…if I torture you to death, will that give him an incentive to show his face?" The boy looked into the monster's unblinking eyes, too terrified to speak. "I'll take that expression as a 'yes'. So be it!" Frieza, voice suddenly back to a shout, grabbed the back of Gohan's head, and viciously slammed his head into his knee. Holding him by the hair, he laughed as he slammed his tail into the small body, the boy eliciting a pained squeal whenever the metal appendage connected. Soon enough, his armor shattered and his face bruised, Son Gohan hung limp in Frieza's grasp, unable to summon the strength or will to resist.

"D…Daddy…help…p-please…" he gasped through the pain.

"Your 'daddy' isn't coming, you stubborn brat. He's a coward, afraid to face me after I've cheated death and become even more powerful!" He shook the prone half-Saiyan up and down for emphasis, making Gohan whimper.

Suddenly, a bright purple light spiraled across the sky, hitting Frieza and breaking his grip on his victim. Gohan struggled to keep in the air. "Mr. Piccolo!" he cried, somewhat painfully, at the tall Namek whose Makankosappo had saved him.

"Can it kid, and keep on your guard!" Piccolo said gruffly, panting with exertion. Frieza had recovered, and was now screaming and flying towards Piccolo. Having incurred the Arcosian's wrath, Piccolo swept his arm backward and started gathering energy rapidly as the alien closed in.

The older Arcosian, still nonchalantly spectating, took note of the turn of events. 'It seems as though that Namek has some affection for the Saiyan child...' He frowned with distaste. 'Such attachments will only bring them down in the face of Frieza.'

Frieza, his face dark with rage, bore down on the Namekian warrior, retaliation his only thought. Piccolo unleashed a barrage of yellow spheres of ki, which Frieza steadily dodged as he advanced. "You think that will stop me, Namek?! You're sorely mistaken!" To this, Piccolo only smirked, and quickly danced out of range of the Arcosian's punch. 'Mock me, will you?! I'm going to rip you limb from limb, you insect!' He readied a blast, only to be bowled over as Piccolo's previous ki attack rushed towards him on all sides. Too late, he realized, he'd been had again. Growling, with a vein standing out in his temple, Frieza floated with scarlet electricity wreathing him, having withstood the onslaught. "I'm going to…destroy you!" he screamed, furious. "…No, I'm going to enjoy watching you writhe in agony first…I want you to suffer!" Piccolo saw that his fist was clenched so hard that blood dripped from between his fingers.

'Damnit Goku, where the hell are you? We've done all we can to hold him off, but even I can't keep this up, and he's barely injured!' the Namek thought. He spotted Vegeta, still spread-eagled in a crater, starting to come to. 'Good, at least Vegeta's not dead yet. If I can pit the two monsters against each other, maybe it'll be a more even match, and we can kill two birds with one stone.' Piccolo didn't have long to strategize, as Frieza dashed forward with a screech, delivering a two-handed hammer fist to his head. Hurtling towards the ground, Piccolo righted himself and rushed up to meet Frieza, determined not to let the alien put him on the defensive. They clashed with the sound of a thunderclap, their auras – Piccolo's white and Frieza's deep red – bursting into sparks.

Piccolo dodged a kick from Frieza, and then prepared a knife-hand strike, but the fiend suddenly fired a point-blank death beam, knocking him back. The beam hadn't hit anything vital, but Piccolo slowed down momentarily from the pain, giving Frieza a chance to strike. The tyrant thrust a knee into Piccolo's chin, and then as he arched backwards, again hammered him, this time in the stomach, before using his tail to slap him down towards the ground. As his opponent fell, Frieza unleashed a torrent of death beams that followed him to the earth below, shrouding the impact of his body with a cloud of dust.

"Piccolo! No…agh!" Gohan could only watch in pained shock as his mentor was lost in a plume of smoke. The dust cleared, and the Namek stood, clutching his side and breathing heavily.

'Damnit, he's too strong, too resilient…' the injured green alien thought angrily. 'He's picking us all apart, and it's only a matter of time before he gets bored and stops playing with us!' He wearily got into a defensive stance as Frieza touched down with a metallic clank.

"My, my, where did all of that energy you had earlier go? Seems that after a few cheap tricks, you've exhausted your repertoire." Piccolo bared his teeth at Frieza's words.

"So come and get me, if you think I'm all out of fighting tactics – at least I have the ability to fight with strategy, unlike you! Getting beaten by a half-Saiyan child and a handful of humans! Pah, you're not a real warrior without your transformation power and your cowardly goons backing you!" Granted, Piccolo thought, it wasn't wise to provoke him even more, but at this point, the warrior would rather die with a final insult on his lips than not. The way it was looking, that fate would come sooner rather than later, he thought grimly, scanning the battlefield. Tenshinhan lay on the ground, unmoving. Yamcha and Chaotzu were nowhere in sight – probably doing the smart thing and hiding. That left Krillin, Gohan, and Vegeta. Right now, Krillin and Gohan both looked ready to throw in the towel, and Vegeta looked like he'd seen better days, even as he stood, shaking, in the crater he'd created when Frieza impacted him earlier.

Frieza growled at the Namek. 'Second only to Saiyans in their ability to keep coming back from the brink of death…what does it take to kill this one?!' Granted, he did look exhausted, but he was still standing, and worse, still had enough energy to mouth off. That had to be rectified. He dashed forward, headbutting the taller fighter in the solar plexus. The blow drew a choked gasp. Reaching up, Frieza gripped the antennae protruding from his opponent's forehead, and slammed his face into his knee. Following up with a kick that sent the Namek rolling across the dusty landscape, he laughed. "Hahaha! Not so full of tough words now, are you? What, are you still holding out hope that someone will arrive and save you?" Frieza flicked his mechanical tail behind him, and strode towards the downed Namek. "Nobody will save you", he intoned as he kicked Piccolo in the side, "I learned long ago that one's individual strength is the only truth in this world, and the only thing that allows you to survive!" Another kick to the fallen warrior's ribs brought forth a groan of pain. 'Strength is the only thing that determines whether you live or die.' The Arcosian thought to himself. 'It doesn't matter if you're smart, or respected, or undeserving of punishment. Having superior might is the only way to survive.' He continued kicking the Namek while he was down, each time the groans of pain from him sounding weaker and weaker. A sudden flash of blue, however, interrupted his torture.

The Saiyan child was screaming…no, roaring was more like it; and coming straight for Frieza. Quickly raising his uninjured arm to block, Frieza fended off his first attack, but set his jaw in pain at the impact. 'What? How has this kid gotten so strong all of a sudden? Before the little shit couldn't even touch me!' He readied a knifehand, but the small warrior blurred and disappeared before his eyes in another afterimage. Seconds later, Frieza let out a grunt as Gohan smashed into his back with a kick, pushing him forward. Vanishing again, the young fighter reappeared in front of Frieza, sending an uppercut at his jaw. The hit connected with a crack, knocking the tyrant up in an arc. He panted, feeling some of his rage dissipating, and stole a glance at Piccolo. His teacher was still on the ground, but had propped himself up on one elbow to watch the exchange.

"Such a massive increase in power..." Kold spoke as he watched, inwardly wishing that he had a scouter with which to accurately measure the small child. It was obvious that Frieza seemed put off by the brat's increase in power, as well. Tapping one finger absentmindedly on his crossed arms, Kold wondered if he would have to intervene... 'Hmm, no, for the moment, Frieza seems to have it under control.'

Meanwhile, Frieza had recovered, coming to rest on the ground again. "Ku..! That actually hurt, you little brat!" He narrowed his eyes, scrutinizing the child, trying to decipher what had changed in him to boost his power. "Seems I was wrong earlier when I said you had no Saiyan killing instinct…I just needed to push the right buttons. Like pummeling the Namek over there... Right, boy?" He smiled at Gohan's look of rage in response. "Still, a little boost of power can't beat me. I seem to remember you doing the same thing on Namek, and it amounted to only a…small annoyance." Gohan was now audibly growling, his fists clenched tightly.

"Don't touch him again, Frieza. I don't care if you break every bone in my body, but I will not allow you to hurt my friends!" His anger, mixed with the conviction in his words, made Frieza nervous. A sudden flash of Namek came to him, unbidden…

The wind whipped around the battlefield, under a green sky. He had survived that strange, gigantic ball of ki being hurled at him, but his survival had come with a cost. In attempting to escape it, his tail had been lost, a sacrifice to the howling maelstrom of energy that threatened to crush him. In the turbulent waters of Namek, he almost lost consciousness when a huge boulder slammed into his face, damaging his eye, and then he had been swept away by the torrent of water. Now, as he struggled to crawl up on dry land, he gasped in pain, his entire body aching and singed. He heard voices. 'The humans', he thought to himself. 'Looks like they survived…whatever that was…and it sounds like they're pleased with themselves, so they must think I'm dead…' He chuckled to himself, ignoring the pain. 'Yes, let's go prove them wrong...' Circling around to a better tactical position, he drew himself up to his full height, and stood at the top of the small bluff.

The small, bald human seemed to notice him first. The expression on his face was extremely gratifying, as his eyes grew wide and he started to shake. Beside him, the half-Saiyan child's jaw had dropped, looking almost comical. Then, he turned around, at last. The one who had been a thorn in his side for longer than anyone had ever dared to be before. Son Goku. Even with one eye closed from the pain, Frieza could see how tired he was, how hopeless. 'Yes, that's it, drink it in, Saiyan. I'm the harbinger of your death, the final thing you'll ever see.' Frieza fired a death beam straight at Goku, intending to snuff out his life, and his comrades' hope, all in one fell swoop. That pesky Namek, however, had other ideas, summoning enough strength to leap in the path of the beam. The injured Arcosian frowned, mildly annoyed that his plan to terrorize them all had been thwarted. 'Oh well, I guess I'll have to find another, more creative way to crush their spirits…' Frieza thought. His victims were busy attending to the fallen Namek, while Son Goku was, again, lecturing him. For a Saiyan, he had to admit, he certainly was eloquent, in his own primitive, one-track mind kind of way. At this point though, he wasn't in the mood for speeches, so he took aim at his next best target. Concentrating his ki and sending it outwards, he caught the short human in a psychic death grip, and swung him upwards. The terrified fighter screamed in fear, while Goku begged him to stop. Was that a tone of desperation in the Saiyan's voice? Ah, so it was. Excellent, now he finally understood the hopelessness of his rebellion. Frieza grinned maliciously, still holding the human in the air. He brought the fingers of his hand together, bidding the psychic energy to compress to one point. He felt as well as heard the sharp shockwave as the energy became unstable and instantly exploded outwards, rupturing the frail human's body, and reducing him to bloody ashes slowly floating down on the wind.

Almost instantly, Frieza felt a change. The Saiyan wasn't looking at him, or at anything, just standing there shaking, and mumbling something. "What's wrong, Saiyan? You look shaken. Was that human I just killed so important to you? He didn't seem all that strong…I was trying to leave a body, but, well, I guess I was too enthusiastic. Hahahahaha!" He laughed, but his confidence was being replaced by some small voice in the back of his head, warning him, urging him to flee. Why? They were defeated, demoralized, half-dead…what threat could they possibly pose to him now? He got his answer in Son Goku's next action.

Lightning crashed all around, and the sky suddenly seemed dark, foreboding. "Y-you…you killed him…" the Saiyan spat.

"So I did - what of it? The little midget wasn't fun to play with anymore, and I thought I'd try to motivate you, since you seemed so tired." Frieza leered down at the Saiyan, still hunched over, not meeting his eyes.

"His name…was Krillin…you hear me? He had a name!" Goku was struggling now to articulate the words, a primal growl creeping into his voice.

"Oh? Forgive me if I don't commit that to memory; I don't have time to learn the names of the weak life forms that are beneath me." Frieza grinned, watching the black-haired man quake with anger. Wait…wasn't his hair splayed in all directions before? His smile faded, as he watched the Saiyan's quiet anger simmering, his ripped clothes and hair swaying upwards in an invisible breeze. A flash of gold startled Frieza, as Goku's hair briefly turned yellow. "What…what's going on? What are you doing now, you Saiyan scum?!" Frieza yelled angrily. The man standing below ignored him, as his head now jerked up in spasms, while that yellow color overtook his hair.

Finally, in an eruption of bright light, Goku put his head back and screamed like a wild beast, as his eyes rolled back and his hair bled into a brilliant gold. "What the-? What is this?! Saiyans transform into giant apes, not this…what is he?" In his mind, Frieza was beginning to panic. 'What's this feeling? I can feel…something…emanating from him? No, that's impossible, I wouldn't be able to feel his power level unless… Unless…' The voice in his head, telling him to run before, returned with the unquestionable truth: the Saiyan was now stronger than he. And he was angry. Turquoise eyes now bored into his scarlet ones, making his blood run cold at the sight. Whispered tales returned to his memory, as he recalled the story of the legendary Super Saiyan.

Gohan glared at the cyborg, puzzled. He wasn't attacking. He didn't seem to be there; it was as though he were watching something else happen, far away, his eyes unfocused, and a look of mute shock on his features.

Kold growled, glaring up at the passive form of his youngest child. ''s happening again. He's losing himself.' He thumped his tail on the ground in mild annoyance. 'This should have ended by now.'

"Gohan, quickly! Before your power fades, get angry again! You can stand up to him!" Piccolo shouted.

"Right!" Gohan nodded, and rocketed towards the tyrant. "Masenko…HA!" The blast hit Frieza squarely in the chest, eliciting a gasp as it knocked the wind out of him. Not letting up, the small warrior let loose a flurry of kicks and punches, hitting with all his fury. Frieza seemed to recover from whatever trance he was in and hastily countered some of the strikes. Now, though, he wasn't smiling, instead wearing a look of grim determination.

"No…no, no, NO!" the alien screamed. "I won't let you! YOU DIE FIRST THIS TIME!" Wreathed in electricity, Frieza pushed his power to its max, trembling with the effort.

By now, Kold was seething with anger. 'How dare Frieza behave like this? It's so unbecoming...' He watched the cyborg scream and rave, curling his lip back at the sight of Frieza's now-apparent madness.

'What's he talking about..?' thought Gohan. A scream from his opponent snapped him back to the fight, as Frieza shot towards him, fist cocked to strike. Gohan hastily blocked the blow, before a kick caught him in the ribs, causing him to sputter and cough blood. "A…aughk..!" the boy choked, desperately trying to dodge. Frieza had a maniacal look on his face as he continued to scream with each blow he delivered. An elbow finally sent the child soaring, blood trailing in an arc.

Vegeta had slowly come back to consciousness after Frieza had smashed a fist into the side of his head, knocking him out. He was surprised by this behavior – normally, Frieza relished in keeping his enemies awake and aware of everything as he tortured them. 'But then,' thought Vegeta as he watched the skirmish between Gohan and his former master, 'he's been acting awfully pragmatic since he got here. Seems like he's got priorities above sadism, for once.' Was it his imagination, or did Frieza look scared? Of the kid? No, something else was setting him off, but the Prince couldn't put his finger on what. "Well, just standing here useless isn't defeating him", Vegeta coughed and spat out the blood in his mouth, "so I suppose it's time for the Prince of all Saiyans to fight this freak!" His head still felt a little fuzzy, but it would take more than that to put him down. Kakarot's brat was sent flying after a nasty elbow from Frieza – a perfect time to jump in, while he was preoccupied.

Smirking, Vegeta charged up a blast, feeling the energy thrum in his hand. 'That's it Frieza, keep your eye on the bait…' The white-and-metal alien dashed after Gohan's limp body, preparing to kick him towards the ground. Before he had a chance to strike, Vegeta leapt into place behind him, and fired.

"Gaaah!" Frieza screamed as the blast hit his undefended back, and whirled to identify his attacker. "Vegeta! So, not dead yet, are you? You'll soon be wishing you were…I was hoping I'd find you here on this pathetic planet, it saves me the trouble of hunting you down later!" Bringing his arm up, he fired a death beam at Vegeta's heart. The prince coolly turned to the side, letting the blast harmlessly pass him.

"Looks like your attacks are getting slower, Frieza. Not to mention predictable." He smirked at the angered face Frieza displayed, teeth bared, vein throbbing on his head.

"Frieza is losing his touch... Grr... At this rate, I may have to step in if he gets any sloppier in fending off that lowly Saiyan!" Kold angrily spat, now regretting his decision to let Frieza come this far.

"You'll…pay…!" Frieza ground out, before launching himself at Vegeta. The two fighters clashed, fists, legs, and tail a whirl of motion and sharp sounds as they impacted.

Pulling away, his shins smarting from coming up against the metal of Frieza's mechanical legs, the prince threw both arms back, drawing in a breath. Having gathered enough energy, he released a multitude of small blasts that zoomed towards Frieza.

Upon seeing this display, Kold tensed on the dusty ground below - even without a scouter, he could see the power behind such an attack. Reflexively, he deflected one of the glowing yellow orbs as it streaked towards the bridge of the ship. Growling, he fastidiously wiped the sooty residue on the edge of his cloak, as though anything produced by the Saiyan was an affront to his person. Still, more out of a want to preserve the spaceship's integrity than anything else, he stood his ground, continuing to focus on the battle.

While some of the round blasts shot past the tyrant, most hit home, shrouding the now-cursing tyrant in smoke. 'Good…' Vegeta thought, zipping behind the smokescreen. Now above the fray, Vegeta focused on Frieza's ki, making sure he was still there, before charging up a more powerful attack. 'Just stay right there, like a good little target, Frieza!' he thought, straining to gather ki more quickly. Coughing, Frieza batted futilely at the wisps of acrid smoke, not wanting to leap out blindly, and right into Vegeta's waiting hands.

"Curse you, Vegeta! You think I don't know your plan?!" From above, he heard Vegeta shout, "Galic Flash!" before the smoke parted, revealing an angry red beam shooting straight towards him. "Rrr!" Frieza clenched his teeth, and met the attack with a blast of his own, struggling briefly before overwhelming the attack. He couldn't see Vegeta behind the massive beam, now dissipating into space, but he doubted he was dead. Confirming his conviction, Vegeta suddenly dropped down from directly above him, hands clasped and radiating energy.

"Oh shit!" Frieza muttered, trying to block with his one good arm.

"Finaaaal…Craaaash!" Vegeta came down with a furious battle cry, meeting his opponent's upraised block first with energy before his fists impacted, breaking the block, and leaving Frieza's head open to the full-powered strike. Frieza head gave under the blow, doubling him over. 'Now! This is my chance to finish him!' Vegeta thought with a grin. "Not only are you slow and weak, Frieza, but you've left yourself vulnerable with one giant liability…" He charged his right fist with an electric aura, something he'd seen Raditz perform and picked up. "…your cybernetic implants aren't as strong as you are!" He aimed for the crown of Frieza's head, a mass of armor plating, and, he guessed, a lot of relatively delicate sensors. Abruptly, Frieza whipped around, his red eyes flashing with hatred, and caught the short Saiyan's punch. Vegeta gasped involuntarily. 'I…I thought I'd had him! It was perfectly executed!' Realizing his fist was still in the alien's grasp, he tried to wrench himself free, to no avail.

"What's the matter, Vegeta? You think that I, Frieza, would fall to you, a lowly monkey? Come now, give me some credit. After all, who do you think trained you to take advantage of an opponent's greatest weakness? His disturbing, half-mechanical face lit up with a lurid grin and the glow of red lightning as he summoned his electric aura. With Vegeta in his grasp, he flared the unnatural aura, sending shockwaves of pain through his former protégé as Vegeta howled and squirmed.

"You're so hard to pin down, Vegeta, but once I have you…well, then it's child's play to cause you pain. And what a splendid victim you make, hehehe…" Again, he flared the aura, sending Vegeta into further convulsions. He flung Vegeta to the ground as the prince began to falter in the air, sending him crashing to Earth. The Saiyan lay in the dirt, trying to will his uncooperative muscles to stand. A metallic clank announced Frieza's approach, out of his line of sight. He braced himself. The pain came, a sharp kick to his spine, then another, and another, with Vegeta striving not to cry out in pain, to not give this monster the satisfaction of hearing him break. After a few minutes, Frieza prodded Vegeta with his foot into a face-up position. With his mechanical arm broken, and his tail not flexible enough to wrap around the beaten prince, he wanted to make sure that at least the Saiyan wretch could see his death coming, and feel appropriate fear. Vegeta was bruised and bloody, lying in the dust with absolutely no sign of being able to fight back.

"Guh…" the prince choked, "So…this…is it, huh? Make sure you…at least have a better aim…than on Namek…otherwise, I'll still be lying here while Kakarot makes mincemeat out of you…Guhaack!" He coughed up blood as Frieza, seething with anger, stomped hard on his chest.

Looking out across the flat expanse of the crater valley, Kold took in the sight of his son, now stamping on the monkey's chest with all the fury of a child throwing a tantrum. "Fufufufu...Frieza, you always were more vulnerable to petty insults than physical punishment...even now, your ego is a laughable hamartia..." Despite himself, he smiled at the scene. 'At least he's momentarily back to his old self...none of that lunatic act...'

Across the crater, Frieza continued to punish Vegeta, bringing his metallic foot down to punctuate his words. "He's not coming, you...stupid...little...monkey! He's dead, just like you'll be, soon enough! And to think, I was afraid… Seems the legend is just that, a legend, and I'm finally free of the so-called Super Saiyan for good!"

He closed his eyes, still standing on Vegeta's chest, and recalled his father's words to him earlier. In the end, he wasn't altogether disappointed, seeing how just these humans and a rogue Saiyan and Namek had managed to injure him. He'd ended it conclusively, no sign of the Super Saiyan, and he killed all of the ones who had opposed him, so his honor was as good as restored. Now, all that remained was to destroy the planet…his expression darkened at that thought, now not so far in the future. He'd considered gathering the Dragonballs that were said to exist on this planet, but at the risk of repeating Namek, with the infuriating native-language passwords, traitors at every turn, and unknown elements coming out of the woodwork…the Arcosian sighed. Best to cut one's losses, he supposed. Groaning beneath him, Vegeta made his feeble presence known.

Frieza, who had been lost in thought, quickly smiled, hiding his thoughts behind his confident expression once more. "Well Vegeta, it appears that you can finally offer me no more sport. I guess I should put you out of your misery then, hmm?" Gripping the front of the broken Saiyan's shirt with his foot, he flung the prince like a ragdoll into the air, and aimed for his heart.

"Now DIE!" Frieza said as he fired a thin, but devastatingly powerful death beam. Vegeta, barely clinging to consciousness, registered the attack, but could do nothing to stop it. He closed his eyes, resolving that, at least this time; he had died with his face dry of tears, his pride intact. All at once, it was as though a new energy had simply appeared out of nowhere. Before the prince could make sense of it, someone caught him, and he heard the distinct sound of the death beam ricocheting off into the distance.

'No…it's not possible…' he thought, daring to crack his eyes open. 'Kakarot, you bastard…what the hell took you so long..?' he thought before losing the battle for consciousness.

On the other side of that attack, Frieza stood transfixed with horror. His mind screamed at him to run, to get away, to put as much distance as possible between himself and the nightmare before him. A nagging voice, however, questioned if it were real. He dismissed it quickly. 'No…this is no illusion, it's not another of those damned hallucinations…he's here.' Suddenly, the relief he'd felt in pummeling Vegeta, the last surviving Saiyan, seemed like a distant memory, replaced with a gut-wrenching fear.

So far, nothing had changed. In the universe we all know, Goku dispatched Frieza quickly and went on to kill Kold. The other Z Fighters, along with Vegeta, recovered from their injuries (thanks mostly to the help of the senzu), and peace reigned on Earth until the heart virus killed Goku...and the deadly cyborgs came.

But in this universe, something was different.

Hello everyone, Rocket here! Thank you for reading the first chapter of Savior of Demons, my first independent story. Special thanks go to my partners in this endeavor: American Vigor, Davidstarlingm, & Saucemonkey. You guys are the very definition of the term "dream team". Also, I'd like to thank the commenters on the English DBM comments - you inspired me to write, & encouraged me to take what's in my head & share it.