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Properties of Darkness

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Vegeta checked, then double-checked, the coordinates.

Something wasn’t adding up. It wasn’t possible—a whole star system couldn’t just vanish without a single trace. But the datafeed scrolling across the navigational charts on his control panel told him as much, and his eyes confirmed it—past his pod’s viewport, there was nothing but vacuum in every direction.

“There’s gotta be a mistake,” Raditz’s voice crackled through Vegeta’s scouter, and Vegeta bristled at the doubt in Raditz’s voice. “Vegeta, are you sure this is the place—”

“Yes, I’m fucking sure Raditz,” Vegeta barked. “These are exactly the coordinates that Zarbon sent us, and the starcharts say that Ilukya should be right here.

“Ilukya’s a young star system, right?” This time it was Nappa’s voice that sounded through the scouter. “Shouldn’t there be a massive planetary disc? We wouldn’t be able to miss it, even if we were a couple parsecs off-course—”

Yes, Vegeta wanted to snap—that was exactly why the system had been chosen for the experimental jumpgate in the first place. There should have been lots of fresh, easily accessible matter, ripe for the taking—perfect for assembling a massive, artificial wormhole.

Too bad there was nothing. No star, no protoplanetary dust, no swarms of machines weaving the jumpgate into place—just nothing except an incomprehensible void. Vegeta could barely bring himself to focus on the place where the star wasn’t—it felt like the longer he stared, the heavier the darkness became. Like it was becoming more solid.

Like it was somehow spreading out toward them.

“This is fucked,” Raditz said. “Frieza’s gonna be pissed about the gate.”

“Well, that’s Frieza’s problem,” Vegeta muttered, shaking his head as he tapped at his control panel. “I’m transmitting our data from the system—or lack thereof—back to Zarbon now. We’ve done our jobs. Serves them right for sending us on a pointless fucking reconnaissance mission.”

“I’m not sure I’d call a whole star system going MIA as ‘pointless’,” Nappa murmured, and though it was difficult to tell over the grainy audio of the scouter, he thought Nappa sounded unnerved.

Vegeta glimpsed back again at the darkness beyond, and felt himself growing more restless the longer he stared.

“I’m gonna go in a little closer,” Raditz said suddenly. “I wanna get a better look at what’s going on here—”

“No,” Vegeta snarled, and his scouter crackled in silence for several moments, as if Nappa and Raditz were surprised by his reaction.

“No?” Raditz echoed

“We’re leaving,” Vegeta grit through his teeth, quickly keying in the navigational instructions that would get him the fuck away from this entire sector “That’s an order, Raditz.”

Raditz’s channel hissed with static for several moments, but he made no further argument. Nappa, too, had found the sense to shut up. Which was just as well—Vegeta could already feel his pod begin to shift in place, gearing up to accelerate back to where they had come from. He looked away from the pod’s viewport, a sudden shudder passing through him—he forced his his eyes shut so he wouldn’t feel tempted to look back out into the blackness one last time before speeding off.

He couldn’t help but feel the pull of the void all the same.