Disclaimer: I own nothing.


DIVERGENCE

CHAPTER ONE: FIGHT INSIDE


GOKU

It had only lasted mere moments, but Goku felt it. Something inside him had broken, and he'd felt a torrent of fiery rage begin pouring into him. Was it his spirit? His sanity?

The warrior from Earth stood still, frozen in place with shock, as Piccolo's body dropped with a sickening thud to the dirt at his feet. The murderous tyrant who had punched a clean hole through the Namekian's chest stood laughing above them all, relishing in the others' pain. Gohan knelt by Piccolo's side, hot tears streaking his face. He screamed his mentor's name over and over again, willing him to stay alive. Seeing his son in anguish only intensified the heat Goku suddenly felt blooming in his heart.

"Frieza…" Goku whispered through clenched teeth.

The Arcosian tyrant wasn't satisfied; he intended on finishing all of the other warriors from Earth before disposing of the outcast Saiyan.

"If you think that your little friends can escape me, you're sadly mistaken," Frieza sneered, each word as toxic as poison. He extended a hand towards them—this time his gaze secured on the undersized, bald warrior by Gohan's side.

"Krillin, look out!" Gohan cried.

"This time you won't come back!" snarled the demonic voice.

Seconds later, Goku watched helplessly as his childhood friend was sent flailing into the air, his screams for help suddenly silenced by a terrible explosion. The fire ravaging inside of the Saiyan exploded too, consuming his soul, and he gave in to it. He'd never felt this way before. It tore through him, unlocking wave after wave of energy within his body. It gave him power.

It was more potent, more terrifying than mere anger. It was hatred.

Feeling this way sent new shockwaves of fear through the Saiyan's heart. Goku sensed the tremendous energy the hatred gave him rush through his veins, more powerful than the mightiest jolt of adrenaline. He felt his muscles bulge and grow to accommodate this new, forbidden strength. The aura surrounding him whipped violently and shimmered with golden light. His vision blurred red, and a terrible scream tore from his throat.

"What?!" Frieza marveled as Goku's transformation took place before his eyes. "Saiyan's transform into apes; what is this?!"

Finally, the lone Saiyan's figure stood tall, still, and silent. His new blue eyes locked on the Acrosian, his golden hair and aura in stark contrast to Planet Namek's cerulean landscape. The power had overtaken him, and he had transformed into a different kind of warrior: It was something only Saiyan legends spoke of, and Goku realized this as Frieza's face contorted in fear.

"How? How did you get this incredible power? Don't tell me," the alien cried out, his voice trembling. "It's true, isn't it?!"

Goku didn't answer, he only responded with a silent stare that promised redemption for his fallen comrades and all others Frieza had mercilessly killed. However, despite his stoic expression, the Saiyan struggled with his own fears. There was more than just rage and hatred bubbling inside of him: A sudden feral bloodlust burst forth from the depths of his consciousness, and Goku nearly lost control of himself right then and there. He quickly commanded his son to retrieve the nearly-dead Piccolo, find Bulma, and leave the planet. Whatever was about to happen to him, he knew it would be destructive, and he didn't want to risk hurting anyone he cared about. Then he turned his attention back to the Arcosian tyrant.

"No more," Goku demanded, as he saw his son and the injured Namekian safely fly out of sight. "Now you will know the horror, Frieza!"

A mighty roar gathered in the back of his throat, and when it forced its way from his lips, Goku barely recognized his own voice. The sound was primal, full of loathing—it was the tattered remnants of what it had been before, and his soul was the same. Goku thought one more time of the expression on Krillin's face when he'd been ripped from the ground into the air, and relived in his mind his best friend's scream as his body exploded. Then he rocketed towards the Arcosian at mind-blowing speed, fully intent on seeking revenge.


MASTER ROSHI

The ancient martial arts master sat, frozen in place as he sat outside of Capsule Corporation's headquarters. A massive, spherical spacecraft was toppled over onto its side in front of him, and from inside Roshi heard the echoes of Dr. Brief's argument with a hysterical Chi-chi. The space suit the old man still wore was cumbersome and uncomfortable in the heat of midday; sweat poured from his forehead into his eyes, down his back, and even soaked the palms of his hands. However, it wasn't the heat or the argument from within the spaceship that troubled Master Roshi. It was incredibly faint, but he could feel the battle between his former student and another terribly strong, but much darker power on Planet Namek. Goku's spirit energy had taken an inconceivably massive surge upward, and it was still growing exponentially stronger. And although the signature was clearly recognizable as Goku's spiritual power, Roshi could feel a frightening shift occurring in the nature of his former pupil's energy.

"Hey, what's up?"

The martial arts master glanced up at the round figure—also clad in a space suit—approaching him. Yajirobe plopped down next to him, a soda clenched in his fat fist, his eyes squinting in suspicion.

"You look worried," the fat warrior observed. "What's the deal?"

"Strange, this life—it's always full of unexpected twists and turns," Roshi replied cryptically.

"So, what's up?"

Roshi sighed, glancing upward at the sky with a grimace. "It's Goku," he confessed. "Something's happened to Goku—I can feel it. I've had a sixth sense about him since he was a boy."

Yajirobe's face creased into a frown. "Is he dead?"

"Oh no—that's not it. He kept digging, and he finally hit the mother lode: A power so great that normal men can't even fathom it."

"So what? Isn't that good?"

"Not necessarily," Roshi replied, his worry compounding. "Having the kind of power that I'm talking about is uncharted territory for Goku. He's never experienced anything like it—that much I can guarantee—yes, sir. A power of this magnitude could overwhelm a man and change him forever."

"Say what?" Yajirobe cried, disbelieving. The pudgy swordsman gawked at the martial arts master, urging him with his eyes to continue, but Roshi's words had run dry.

The old man gritted his teeth as he felt still another rise in Goku's faint, faraway energy signature. He didn't know if it would ever end, and it was turning out as the old master had always feared. Ever since he'd first met Goku—a pint-sized, cheerful child with a strange tail, an enormous gift for mastering martial arts, and an even greater knack for harnessing the power of spirit energy—Roshi had felt a dark premonition surrounding the boy. He'd ignored it when Goku proved to be pure of heart by being able to ride on the Nimbus cloud the old man had offered him, but he had never forgotten about it completely. Someone with as much skill as Goku had the capabilities to do the world a massive amount of good, but also had the lingering potential to cause just as much harm. Roshi had trained the child in an attempt to steer Goku's life in the direction of the latter, and it had seemed his intervention had worked when the young warrior repeatedly defended Earth against King Piccolo and the evil trio of Saiyans. Now that he knew that Goku's seemingly unnatural powers came from his Saiyan heritage, Roshi worried about his former student's ability to maintain his pure-hearted ways and resist the temptation to give in to his race's darker impulses. Even now, the old master felt Goku's internal struggle as the nature of his power shifted from light to dark, dark to light, and then back again.

Something terrible had happened on Namek, and Goku's pure spirit had broken.

"Right now Goku's struggling to hold on to who he is," Roshi sighed when he found the power to speak again. "God bless him. Now all we can do is pray."


GOKU

The Saiyan no longer was aware of the passage of time; he was only aware of the enormous power that had taken hold of his body. Something had certainly happened to change him physically, but there was an equally terrible transformation threatening to take over his consciousness: The screams of the beast inside of him ripped out of his throat, filled him with insatiable brutality, and commanded his fists and feet to lash out at unimaginable speeds and seek the most vulnerable targets on his opponent's body. It cried for freedom—for complete control over him. So far, Goku had somehow managed to remain himself against this new, bloodthirsty fragment of his personality, just as he managed to gain the upper hand in the battle against Freiza. However, the flashes of bestial rage were growing stronger by the minute; they betrayed his intentions and slowly dominated over his restraint. To his horror he found himself enjoying every crunch of the Arcosian's bones against his fist and relishing every cry of pain he could cause to a frightening degree. Every time he landed a punch or a kick, he felt giddy with anticipation of the next. It was intoxicating.

The two superpowers clashed again and again, their energy crackling in the air, exploding in fantastic spectacles of light and destruction. Goku solidly landed a mighty punch to Frieza's face, and sent the Arcosian spiraling downward into the Namekian soil. He formed a crater the side of a building when he landed, but it didn't take more than a few milliseconds for the alien to recover and shoot back upward to face the Saiyan. For a few moments, they traded words instead of blows.

"Why do you loathe what I've done so much?" Frieza inquired with a sick smirk crossing his battered face. "Saiyans are just as ruthless as I am. They were killers—all of them! And you have the gall to condemn what I've done? You and your bloodthirsty race!"

Goku met the Arcosian tyrant's smirk with a detached scowl. "They paid for their mistakes!"

"Is that why they died?" Frieza's eyes—and his crazed smirk—widened. "I thought it was because I killed them."

Goku struggled to maintain expressionless on the surface, when inside Frieza's words were making his Saiyan heart swell in rage. He was winning the battle with Frieza, but he was slowly losing the one he was fighting inside his mind. The monster inside of him was slowly gaining ground, and he was being forced to relinquish hold of his body and mind to it.

"You're just a beast with no conscience," Goku said, speaking more to himself than to the alien floating in front of him.

"So I'm a beast, eh?" Frieza heard his words and laughed knowingly. "And what about you, Super Saiyan? Aren't you just like me?"

No, no I'm not! A desperate voice cried from within Goku, even as the bloodlust gained yet another hold on his conscious. I'm good! I'm not going to become like him. I can't…

Frieza watched intently as the Saiyan stared back at him, his silence speaking volumes.

"Guess the jury's still out on that one," the Arcosian sneered. "Let's just give it a little more time."

How does he know? Goku thought. Can he see the struggle I'm having inside? Has he seen it before?

The Arcosian's stinging words bit deeply into the Saiyan, and he realized that he had to end this quickly, or he would certainly lose control. If that happened, he didn't know if he would ever regain it again. With a desperate shout, he threw himself back into the fight with everything he had. Frieza welcomed his assault, throwing an endless torrent of destructive energy waves in Goku's direction, but the Saiyan simply passed through them as fluidly as he would a pool of water. Goku landed another impressive series of blows, before he began to see red leak into his vision and realized another horrifying detail of his transformation: The fighting was helping the feral presence that had awoken inside him gain more control. The more he fought, the more it fueled the bloodlust inside him. He had to stop, or he'd risk giving into the fearful manifestation. Goku's aura flared as he propelled himself away from the battered alien tyrant. The two warriors sunk down from the clouds, perched on some jagged pillars of rock, and studied one another.

The Saiyan didn't understand what was happening to him, and he was made even more uneasy by Frieza's undying smirk. The Arcosian must have realized by now that Goku had far surpassed him in power, but for some untold reason, that sadistic grin never left his face.

"You may be a filthy monkey," Frieza began, wiping a thin rivulet of blood from his chin. "But you and I have much more in common than you realize, Saiyan."

"Your evil deeds have become the noose around your neck, Frieza," Goku replied, his every syllable dripping with disgust. "I'll never become like you."

"Oh, really? Don't tell me you don't feel it." Frieza chuckled darkly, seemingly amused. "That deep-seeded rage—that bloodlust—inside of you? That's a Saiyan trait."

Goku's eyes widened slightly. Frieza did sense that something was happening to him.

"I've spent a lot of time around Saiyans, you know," the Arcosian continued. "So I know their nature. They're animals with a predatory instinct for preying on the weak. That's why they made such exceptional soldiers in my army."

"You enslaved them," replied the Saiyan through clenched teeth. "And then you exterminated them without a thought, just like you did the people of this planet!"

"Of course I did. It's in my nature to prey on the weak as well. The Saiyans served their purpose, but they were evolving, and I couldn't allow them to gain any more strength. Every rogue animal has to be put down eventually," Frieza snickered, his words tainted once again with poison. The alien drew back a pointed finger, the energy he was summoning already gathering at its tip. It glowed with an angry red aura, and the air around the glowing orb crackled and popped with heat. "Even you, Saiyan!"

Screaming, Frieza whipped his finger towards the waiting Saiyan, sending the blast of light and energy rocketing towards him. Goku watched as it traveled through the air at astonishing speed, aimed directly at his chest—but it was as if everything since he'd transformed was happening in slow motion. The words from their previous exchange were still churning in Goku's head. So this sudden surge of bloodlust and the terrible force he felt swelling within him, attempting to overtake his mind and body, was a Saiyan quality? But he'd been a Saiyan his entire life, and he'd never struggled with this feeling. Why after over a quarter century of living with a good-natured, content conscious, was this conflict erupting inside of him now? Again, panic gripped him as he felt the monster inside gain more traction in its slow but steady takeover of his mind.

Just as Frieza's death beam was about to make contact, Goku easily sidestepped, avoiding the destructive force and the dozen like it that quickly followed. Finally, Frieza's smirk was wiped clean and replaced with a crazed, furious grimace.

"Why can't I hit you!?" the Arcosian cried. "Nobody should be able to dodge my blasts!"

Goku said nothing in response, but continued to glare at the frustrated alien. It wasn't long until Frieza once again adopted his sly grin, and he clasped his palms together, as if preparing to pray.

"I'll destroy us both before I let you live," sneered the tyrant, and a blast of blood-red energy exploded off the surface of his skin. "Either way, you'll never make it out of here alive!"

"We'll see about that," Goku replied, his eyes narrowed.

Frieza's lips curled up further, revealing white teeth and blood leaking out from between them. With a grunt, he concentrated his energy and parted his palms. Goku watched in awe as the crimson aura flaring around the Arcosian suddenly swirled and condensed between his hands. The result was a colossally powerful, shimmering orb of dark energy. As Frieza held it aloft with both hands, he gathered still more energy, feeding his creation. Crackling bundles of lightning began to flash around him, and the air around the two warriors resonated with the immeasurable power of the glowing orb.

"I've figured out how to beat you," Frieza whispered, every word as cruel and cold as the stab of a knife. "You may be a Super Saiyan, and you're power is amazing, but there's more to winning than that! Sometimes it's the smartest one who wins, not the strongest!"

The Arcosian's red eyes lit up with a crazed vengeance, and he heaved the ball downward, the energy in his hands erupting with sheer power. The blast rocketed towards the planet's surface at a speed not even Goku could surpass.

"Now say goodbye to Namek!" Frieza screamed. "Die, planet, die!"

As he watched Frieza laugh at the sight of his creation ripping towards the planet core, Goku remained struggled to contain his shock—and a new, even more powerful wave of rage. So, Frieza had finally realized that he'd been outclassed, and his response was to destroy the both of them? There was huge shudder and a mighty groan from below as Frieza's attack made contact with its target, boring deeply into the planet crust and throwing Namek's core into a downward spiral of destabilization. Columns of rock burst from the ground, spewing the molten core of the planet into the air and transforming its oceans into churning, boiling cauldrons of liquid. The alien world would die in a matter of minutes, and so would everyone who remained on its surface.

"You fool!" Goku shouted, his resolve to remain in control of his anger beginning to wane. "You would destroy an entire world just to make sure I don't win!?"

"You still don't get it do you?" Frieza replied, his grin widening maniacally. "I didn't plan on destroying myself—just you and the planet. I can breathe in space and you can't. That means if the planet goes, then you won't have any more air to live on. And I shall be victorious!"

The Saiyan glared back at the laughing alien. "You may destroy the planet, but you can never destroy what I am, Frieza."

"Oh, really?" the Arcosian said with mock interest. "And what is that?"

Goku swallowed, as if the action would somehow suppress the monster inside him for a few more minutes. The ferocity had bubbled at the surface of his consciousness for so long, and he'd been barely able to keep it from emerging. But he was beginning to see that his fight against this hidden part of himself was futile. Again, Goku hid his fears behind an expressionlessness mask and powerful words. Every sentence he spoke took on a new meaning, as he tried to remember who he really was, as he struggled to reign in the burning hate that still scorched his soul, and as he gradually felt himself relinquish his control to the beast raging within him:

"I am the hope of the universe."

I am the scourge of the universe.

"I am the answer to all living things that cry out for peace."

I am the bringer of death, terror, and pain.

"I am protector of the innocent."

I am eradicator, slayer, killer, executioner.

"I am the light in the darkness."

I am what lurks in the darkness.

"I am truth."

I am destruction.

Goku paused, and let out a hot breath as he heard the echoes of his voice hang in the air, marveling how much they differed from the whispers that were invading his mind. The hatred that had been fueling his increase in power, energy, and stamina throughout his entire battle continued to course through him, increasing with every pump of his heart. With it, a hidden personality bubbled up as if from the bottom of a darkened lake. It had been a part of him all along, Goku realized, ever since he'd been born.

I am Saiyan.

His entire life, he'd only caught brief glimpses of his Saiyan tendencies through the murky water of his consciousness. It was this part of him that had emerged whenever he'd transformed into a giant ape in his youth. It understood only rage and it sought only to destroy; although he remembered little about his own transformations, he had witnessed firsthand what happened to his son when he was transformed. Now this same monster was trying to overcome him as he underwent a new Saiyan transformation, and despite his most valiant mental efforts, it was succeeding. The massive savage presence, with its equally terrible degree of power, was simmering just underneath the surface of his control.

"I am Saiyan," he whispered, feeling the darkness creep further still into his head.

Frieza's eyes grew wide as he felt the power of the warrior floating before him increase to astronomical heights. "What is this!?" he cried, unbelieving of the spectacle.

Goku screamed, his throat feeling as if it were about to tear apart from the strain. He was giving in, he realized. The ugly head of the beast within was cracking through his resolve, and he was helpless to stop it. But he had resisted his true nature much too long, and it had come back with a powerful vengeance and an equal penchant for blood. He was out of options, and he was tired of fighting a battle that it was clear he was about to lose. The warrior felt one more scream rip through him, before finally he surrendered. The beast and the power that it commanded surged forward, merging with his consciousness, turning the hero an entirely different kind of monster.

"I am Saiyan!" Goku suddenly screamed, his voice ripping out of his throat with the power of a god. "And I am your worst nightmare, Frieza!"


PICCOLO

"Don't worry Mr. Piccolo, we'll have you home in no time!"

He was barely aware of what was happening, but he felt the child's shoulder wedged underneath his gut as the rest of him hung limply towards the ground. They were flying, he realized. Gohan was taking him somewhere. As the Namekian lingered on the edge of unconsciousness, he was granted a tiny window into the colossal battle that was taking place through the energy signatures spiking and surging across the planet's surface. Goku was taking on Frieza, and he'd tapped into a terrifically powerful new energy. It was unlike anything Piccolo had ever felt before. If it hadn't been for the pain, he would have sworn he was dead or dreaming.

That wasn't the only thing he was feeling that left Piccolo in disbelief. All across the planet, individual energy signatures were popping up everywhere. Everyone who had been slaughtered by Frieza or his men was miraculously returning to life. The Namekian warrior realized that Kami, his elderly counterpart on Earth, must have concocted some kind of plan—now that they were both alive again, the Earth's dragon balls must have been used for this purpose. The Namekian people were reviving, and that would mean that the Namekian dragon would live again as well. There was hope for them after all.

"There it is! Dad's spaceship!" Gohan excitedly announced. "Hang on, Piccolo. We're going home!"

The injured Namekian struggled to hold on to what little life still fluttered within him, the hopefulness in his pupil's words giving him strength. He continued to focus on the monumental fight taking place miles away. Yes, it was true—Goku's power was no match for Frieza, but something was transforming his energy. It was becoming dark and distorted. Something was wrong.

Piccolo groaned as he felt Gohan enter the door of the ship and lay him flatly out on the cold floor.

"Gosh, it's bad," the child apologized, placing a small hand on the Namekian's injured chest. "Stay here, Mr. Piccolo. I've got to focus; there's no time to waste."

The boy began to pull away, but Piccolo used the last of his strength to reach up and clasp Gohan's tiny hand in his. The child gasped in surprise, and then turned back to the dying Namekian, leaning over him with questions in his eyes.

"Gohan…" Piccolo rasped with difficulty. "You….have to…stay here."

The half-Saiyan's brow furrowed in confusion. "Mr. Piccolo, I have to find Bulma—and I can't leave my dad here! I've got to help him!"

"Goku's…power….has changed…." The Namekian continued, his every breath a struggle. "He's no longer…himself."

Gohan blinked, and then leaned back, casting a glance at the still-open doorway of the spaceship. Piccolo knew the boy could feel his father's energy signal as well, but he might not have been aware of the savage new nature it had suddenly taken on. When the boy looked back down at him a few moments later, he had tears in his eyes.

"I don't understand," Gohan cried. "Why can't I help my daddy?

"Don't…worry…Kami has…a plan…"

"But—but Piccolo! Bulma's out there! And my dad!"

"You can't….help him…Gohan…" Piccolo gasped. "He has to…find it…within himself…to…"

The Namekian warrior's eyes fluttered closed, his voice drifted off, and Gohan's watery eyes became a waterfall. He leaned further in towards the green face of his mentor, his tears washing away the bloody mess that had crusted around his eyes and lips. But Piccolo was floating into unconsciousness, and he didn't know if he'd ever return. As he drifted off into oblivion, he grasped the young boy's hand tighter against his chest. Then the darkness took him.


VEGETA

It was like awakening from a deep sleep. The first thing he was aware of was a metallic taste invading in his mouth: Blood. He sucked in a breath, and something gritty and dry clogged his nose. He tried to open his eyes, but he saw nothing but blackness, before the same filth fell into them too. Vegeta realized—terrifyingly—that he was underground.

The Saiyan prince tried to shout, and attempted to move his limbs. The soil found its way into his open mouth instantly, and it weighed down on his chest, preventing him from inhaling in more ways than one. He choked and sputtered on the Namekian dirt, and began to claw his way upward. There were several horrifying moments of uncertainty before he felt his fist burst through to the surface, and he was able to finally heave his head above ground. Vegeta spent the next few moments of his newly restored life alternating between gasping in mouthfuls of precious air and spitting out clods of grime.

What the hell happened? He thought, his memory of dying returning to him. Who buried me? How am I alive?

When he'd finally composed himself, the Saiyan glanced about his surroundings with disbelief. The world around him had been consumed by fire. Pillars of rock collapsed around him, the oceans raged at the shores, and huge tornadoes of flame spat fire into the atmosphere. He briefly wondered if perhaps he'd not been revived, but had simply woken up in Hell. As he stood up and brushed the remaining dirt from his uniform, Vegeta gave himself a small pinch on the exposed flesh of his arm. He felt a small sting of pain, and blood rushed towards the affected area, making it turn a rosy pink.

I must be alive, he concluded. But what happened here?

Glancing skyward, he became aware of two enormous power levels clashing—again and again—no far away from where he was standing. One he recognized as Frieza—he'd ascended to his maximum level of power. It was incredible and fearful to realize how massively strong the tyrant had become. However, Vegeta was even more astonished to register the energy signature of his opponent. Kakarot's power had grown so large that it made Frieza's seem like that of a child.

Can it be true? Vegeta wondered. Is this what a Super Saiyan's full power feels like?

The prince felt a surge of jealousy grip him, as he analyzed the staggering power of the other Saiyan. He'd never felt such raw, unbridled intensity in his life. Additionally, something was had changed in the nature of the energy that Kakarot emitted, and that could only mean that his suspicions were true. The legend had come to fruition. But it hadn't been him. Prince Vegeta—the prince of all Saiyans—had been trumped by a low-class warrior who denounced his Saiyan heritage.

There was no greater shame for the prince. Vegeta stood despondently, wondering what to do next. The planet was certainly dying; he could feel the ground shift under his feet as the core destabilized. If he wanted to live, he had to escape somehow. The Saiyan prince flew up, glancing frantically around him for a ship that had not been damaged.

There were none.

Vegeta released a scream of rage, but then composed himself once more. He needed to get off this rock, and soon. He glanced again in Frieza and Kakarot's direction, marveling once more at the tremendous energies that clashed between the two warriors. And then he saw it: A spiraling, glowing green form flickering into existence against the black sky.

The Namekian dragon had been revived as well, Vegeta realized, and a sudden relief filled him. He didn't need a ship—he'd just wish for immortality and a planet blowing up would no longer be a problem for him. His aura flashed around him, and he rocketed towards the mythical beast faster than he'd ever thought he could fly. As he grew closer to the fight, he saw the blazes and heard the sonic booms that were produced by the two combatants. Envy gripped him again, but he certainly hoped that Kakarot was giving Frieza the thrashing the tyrant deserved.

The Saiyan prince was in luck: The terrible battle was taking place right next to the Namekian dragon's gigantic form. Frieza came into his view first, and Vegeta was more than pleased to see that the Arcosian was battered, bruised, and looking very much like he was losing. He was shouting something towards the dragon, but it was in the common language. Vegeta knew now that the dragon didn't respond to wishes made in any tongue besides Namekian, so he didn't concern himself with the angry alien's cries. Kakarot's form didn't come into focus for a moment, but when Vegeta looked upon him, any doubt that could have remained regarding the Saiyan legend was completely wiped away.

Kakarot looked like a god: His hair, which had previously been a jet-black, shaggy mess, had transformed to an upright, golden-yellow mane. The aura swirling violently around his body was golden too, and his eyes a cold blue-green. Vegeta was astonished, horrified, insanely jealous, and utterly blown away by the sheer magnitude of the power before him.

Suddenly, a booming voice echoed through the air around the three warriors.

"Your wishes have been granted," the dragon rumbled, and his form began fading away.

Vegeta glanced up, completely shocked. The dragon had granted a wish? How? His heart shuddered to think that Frieza had gotten what he had asked for. The prince's eyes followed the twisted, fading form of the dragon down to its source—the seven Namekian dragon balls. A small green figure swathed in white and brown robes stood smiling next to them.

It's the damned Namekian child, the Saiyan realized. But what did he wish for? Certainly not for Frieza's immortali—

The Saiyan prince didn't get the chance to finish his thought, because before he knew what was happening, a bright light surrounded him, and he felt a mystical energy take hold. There was a loud snap in his ears, and he disappeared into nothingness.


GOKU

The Saiyan had utterly triumphed over his enemy. Even when Frieza had admitted to holding back his ultimate power, and then exploded with torrents of new energy, there was no contest. He had supremacy, and he held Frieza's very life in his hands.

It had been fun to toy with the Arcosian, while he reacted again and again with surprise as the Saiyan continuously reached into the immeasurable depths of power he possessed. He'd batted Frieza around like he was a doll, he'd mocked his so-called "ultimate power," and he'd done everything else he could think of to cause the alien tyrant physical and mental anguish.

But throughout it all, the Saiyan had been plagued by one thing: The remnants of his former self calling out to him from somewhere in his consciousness and begging that he show mercy towards his enemy. It had been easy to ignore—along with the other voices that sounded in his head. One belonged to King Kai, who had tried to contact the Saiyan about wishing him back to the safety of Earth. But safety wasn't something the Saiyan wanted—he wanted more time with his victim—so he'd refused outright to be wished anywhere. When the Kai's pleas had no effect on him, other voices had replaced it: Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu all begged him to reconsider. He shut them all out.

Now Frieza was face down in the Namekian dirt, beaten nearly to death with his life bleeding out in pools around him. As he stared down at his enemy, the Saiyan again felt the familiar sentimental tugs on his conscious. The warrior he had been before his transformation had been merciful and foolish, and was trying to persuade him to be the same way. The Saiyan ignored the desperate pleas just as he had all the other voices. But unlike the other voices, this one would not relent. It fought its way further towards the surface of his mind, its cries growing louder and louder. They had to share their power, and this personality was trying to regain the control that had been stolen from him. Despite the power he had held over the other half for the last few minutes, the Saiyan felt his control slip, and his emotions began to affect him once again. For several minutes he struggled, unsure of what to do next. One part of him wanted to walk away—the work was done, and the planet's destruction would end Frieza's life for him. But another part of him screamed to kill the disgraced, broken alien at his feet—and not out of mercy. It wanted to kill for the sake of killing, without regard for compassion or any other irrational emotion. Still another part of him was horrified by the conflict that was emerging from inside him.

Finally, after he thought he'd be caught in a deadlock forever, the Saiyan resolved to turn and walk away.

That was, until the Arcosian began begging for his life.

"Please, help me…I beg of you…" pleaded Frieza, his voice a mangled whisper. "Don't…don't leave me to die like this! Have mercy on me. You can't do this!"

The Saiyan whirled around to face the creature on the ground, rage flashing in his newly-blue eyes.

"How many people asked you for mercy? Hundreds? Thousands?" he shouted, the power having shifted momentarily towards his more sentimental side.

Frieza gave no response. Instead he grew still and silent, but the Saiyan could still barely hear his weakened, wheezing breaths over the din of the planet disintegrating around them. Another flood of hateful darkness crept into the Saiyan's head and heart.

"What gives you the right to expect any mercy?" he asked, an air of cruelty punctuating each syllable. "Especially from a Saiyan?"

The warrior from Earth raised his arm towards Frieza and presented him with his glowing palm, a bright spot of fresh energy pulsing between his fingers. The Arcosian cracked opened his eyes, glancing up hopefully at the point of light. However, the former tyrant's pathetic expression was quickly extinguished when the glowing orb in his opponent's palm transformed into a torrential, angry ball of energy. Frieza's eyes grew wide and round as he looked upon the last image he would likely have in life; the Saiyan's stoic face betrayed no part of the inner conflict that continued erupting inside him.

He could help the pitiful alien, he knew. He could give him just enough energy to survive, and then leave. What happened afterward would not be his concern. He could show the slightest trace of mercy.

But that would be against his Saiyan nature.

The sizzling ball of energy grew exponentially brighter in his hand, flaring with more than enough power to wipe Frieza's existence from the universe. A smile crept up the Saiyan's face, no matter how hard he tried to repress it. He'd killed his enemies before, but only when his hand had been forced, and he'd never enjoyed it. But this…this he was neither forced to do, nor would he cease to revel in the moment.

He would enjoy killing Frieza.

The same sentimental, frantic part of the Saiyan's mind screamed at him to stop, that the way he was acting—the way he was feeling—was totally against everything he'd ever stood for. But it was merely a voice, and it was drowned out quickly by the Arcosian's last scream as the energy from his hand surged forward, vaporizing him where he lay.


Author's Note: This story was born out of my desire to do three things: a) to give me a break from writing Vegeta's character in my other story "Imperfect Symmetry", b) to challenge me and help me improve my characterization skills, and c) to give some development to what I see as an unforgivably static character—Son Goku. I'm going to take some artistic liberties with his characterization in this story, as the main conflict arises when his Saiyan tendencies resurface for the first time since he was an infant, while he struggles to adapt. That being said, this will NOT be a happy-go-lucky Goku story. He's going to have a transformation of the mind as well as of the body, and he's going to feel some very real angst, and he's going to make some really, really horrible mistakes. Don't read if you don't like it.

One thing I want to note for the hard-core fans out there…I use dialogue from both Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z: Kai. It just turned out that I liked some of the lines from Kai much better than the ones that had been originally written. However, I didn't use all lines word for word, and I added portions of my own dialogue too. I'm not out to recreate the exact fight scene on Planet Namek, as awesome as it was. I'm creating something of my own. In addition, some minor events have been switched around, just for the sake of a smoother narrative. The most important major deviation from the canon occurs at the end of this chapter, and will be the catalyst for many other departures from the canon in the future—hence the title "Divergence."

Lastly, I have to give credit where it's due. This story would not have come to fruition had I not been motivated to a crazy degree by another creative writer. So if you get the chance, I urge you to check out the story that inspired mine: "The Catalyst" by Drakthul, which features the character of Raditz, has great balance of mystery, action, and angst, and provides enough plot twists to make M. Night Shyamalon dizzy. Drak, thanks much for inspiring me!

Hope you enjoyed! Please remember to leave a review—my muse is hungry! : D

~Rose