Chapter 1: Capture
“My Lady,” the woman said with a bow as she entered the office, “the 2nd Talon has returned victorious. The base was captured with a minimum of damage and a number of prisoners have been transported back for interrogation. The dampeners worked flawlessly. They’re already working on data mining and converting the facility.”
Bulma looked up from the papers on her desk. The broad expanse of dark exotic wood was covered in various plans, schematics, and messages from the field. “Wonderful news General Launch. But I’m sure that didn’t bring you all the way to me in person. What else?” she asked, rising from her desk and going to the shelf on the wall that served as a small bar to start pouring two drinks.
“Our troops found some agents working directly for the Colds at the base. ‘Course no one told me until I got back here, so I wasn’t able to separate them from the other prisoners,” the General stated, taking the glass handed to her and taking a small sniff. “The search has already commenced to locate them.”
“I trust that you’ve given those posted to the intake center a strong sense of how important it is they be found?”
“Oh yeah my Lady. I lit a fire under them for sure.”
“Excellent! That’s all we can ask for. In the meantime however, lets us toast to your victory,” the lady said, holding out her glass.
“To this victory and many more to come. And to the future Empress Bulma,” General Launch replied, clinking her own glass lightly before taking a drink.
Vegeta was pacing the small room he’d been placed in, seething to himself. No one had removed any of his restraints, so it was the only thing he could do other than sit since the damned things even kept him from flying. To add insult to injury, he’d also somehow lost his gloves.
It was an absolute outrage. First to be sent on a stupid mission that wasn’t even important just because his master was feeling pissy, then to actually be captured! How did that even happen? He kept going over and over the events but he still wasn’t able to figure out how they’d been ambushed so thoroughly. There had been a second to fight back, which should have been more than enough, but somehow they’d managed to negate their power and restrain them.
At first they’d all been herded together with the other prisoners from the base, shoved into a transport ship that was just a bit too small for them all. When they arrived at this base or planet, he wasn’t able to tell which, they’d been marched through a hallway with equipment and people that sorted the prisoners somehow. Then he’d been put in a separate room.
Vegeta had made sure to take in the sights around him carefully. Who were these people? Who did they work for? He hadn’t recognized any of the markings on their uniforms or the designs of the few ships he’d glimpsed.
The biggest question then became one of allegiance. Were they with the Colds or against them? If they were with them, then he had a good chance of getting out of here alive.
If they were opposed… If they found out who he was they’d either torture him for information or kill him on the spot.
He’d been in there for hours when the door finally opened and a strange man stood in the doorway. He was short and bald, definitely weaker, but something about him besides his uniform said he was a fighter.
“There you are! Finally! Man, the General will be super happy that I found you. I can’t believe we had some of the Cold Empire’s own soldiers in here! Alright, you’re coming with me,” he said.
General Launch was sitting at her own desk in her much smaller office when a knock was heard. “Come in.”
“First Sergeant Krillin reporting ma’am. I managed to locate the last Cold agent and transferred him to the guest block. He’s still in restraints currently, since I was ordered to not remove them.”
“Good work First Sergeant. I’ll see to them immediately. Please inform our Lady. You’re dismissed.”
“Ma’am” he replied with a salute as he withdrew from the room.
The general made her way quickly down to the guest block, the section of cells reserved for prisoners of value that needed to be kept safe and healthy. She found three prisoners therein: The first was a tall, broad man, bald on the top of his head, with a moustache dropping over the sides of his mouth. The second was a female, slightly shorter, but well muscled, with wild black hair draped just over her shoulders. The final one was the smallest, but with the look of a caged predator about him, all compact muscle ready to spring and the strangest crest of hair she’d ever seen. All three had brown-furred tails wrapped around their waists.
“So. Saiyans. I’m familiar with your species. Seems its my lucky day,” she observed cooly. “Sorry about having to keep you bound up, but we can’t afford to give our cells that kind of stress test right now. Hopefully a different arrangement can made soon.”
“You can try it if you want, but as soon as we’re out of these things, we’ll kill you all and eat you. Maybe not in that order,” the large man said.
“Maybe. But things change. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
“Tomorrow will bring me feasting on your warm heart you weakling bitch.”
“Sure thing big man. Nothing I haven’t heard before.” Launch turned to the female in her cell. “You got anything to add?”
She smirked darkly. “I’m more partial to liver myself. Heart is so tough.”
The general smiled slightly. “As for you,” she said turning towards the last one. “I heard you’re a prince. Is that true?”
“Yes,” he said, standing straight and firm. “I am Prince Vegeta.”
“Good. Thought so when I saw you on the video. You’ll be meeting Lady Bulma soon.”
“Am I to meet her like this? Trussed up like a roast? Am I to have no dignity or pride?”
“You think we should trust you unrestrained? After what your buddies said, it seems unwise.”
“I would give you my word, as Prince, that I will attend the meeting with respect due a sovereign. I will do no harm from the time I leave this cell until I am returned to it.”
“I’ll tell her exactly what you said. It’s her decision since it’s her own life she’s risking.” And with that she left.
Lady Bulma turned off the viewing screen. The prince was a very interesting character indeed. Fortunately, she’d already been developing a new kind of Ki suppression device that didn’t require the same physical restraints. It would just be too difficult to keep prisoners that had to have their needs tended to by others even inside a cell.
Now she just had to pick out the perfect dinner dress. She knew that the Saiyans hated the Colds. They were treated with the minimum of respect to avoid revolt, and that was before their planet had been destroyed. Now that there weren’t enough to be a major threat, the survivors were treated more as slaves than soldiers. Not to mention that the destruction of their planet was a deliberate act by Frieza himself and not an asteroid as officially reported.
It was going to be tricky in any case. She not only had to convince Vegeta to lead his few remaining people to betray their former master, but also that the Four Star Nation would support them without becoming a new master to serve. It was going to be a hard sell, but with the right combination of luck and know-how, she’d come away with a new and powerful ally.
A few hours after the general had left, a new man arrived. Shorter than Nappa, but taller than himself. Vegeta thought he had the look of a Saiyan about him, but his broad smile and lack of a tail seemed to counter it.
“Hi! I’m Goku. I’m here to change your restraints to these new ones so you can use your hands and stuff. Also I’m gonna take Prince Vegeta to meet Lady Bulma.” He went down to Nappa’s cell. “Ok I’m gonna come in. Don’t try anything or else you might get hurt.”
“Oh sure… I’ll be reeeaaalll nice,” Nappa drawled sarcastically.
“Great!” Goku said with a smile as he touched the panel to let him into the cell and stepped inside.
The barrier raised again right behind him, but at this point Nappa would just be happy to make the fool bleed even if he couldn’t escape. “What’s that do?” he asked, looking at the small device in Goku’s hands.
“I dunno how it works exactly, but it’ll keep you from using your full power.” He reached for the back of Nappa’s neck to attach it, but the larger man directed a savage kick at his captor.
Nappa expected to feel his foot connect solidly with the smaller man’s torso, but instead he felt a hand clamped around his ankle like a titanium strap. He tried to yank free, but his foot wouldn’t budge.
“I told you,” Goku said, before yanking back on his leg and pushing forward with his other hand planted between Nappa’s shoulders, resulting in the large Saiyan landing on the floor face down with a thud. Now pinned, Goku was able to finish his work and remove the original set of restraints before quickly exiting.
“Nappa?” the female asked in Saiyago. “Are you still alive?”
“Yeah Okara. The twerp is stronger than he looks, even with these stupid dampeners on, so be careful,” he replied with a growl.
Goku approached Okara’s cell next. “Your friend tried to kick me, but it didn’t work. Please just let me change this ok?”
“Are you Saiyan?” she asked with a glare. “You smell like you are, even if you don’t act like it.”
“Yeah! I grew up on a different planet, but I didn’t know that I was an alien until I was older though.”
“Whatever. You’re tailless anyway so it doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t at this point. Do whatever you’re going to do so I don’t have to look at you anymore,” she said while she watched him come in her cell.
Okara didn’t try to repeat Nappa’s attempt to fight the man. A stronger opponent (at the moment) and a space she couldn’t escape didn’t leave a lot of options.
After Goku finished changing the restraints on the woman, he moved to the last cell. “Are you Prince Vegeta?”
“Who else would I be?”
“Oh, yeah. Ha ha! We’ve only got three Saiyans in here after all.”
By the gods the man was an idiot. And he was a Saiyan too? That couldn’t be right. He prayed he wouldn’t have to endure him long. “So this Lady Bulma, what is she like?”
“Oh she’s super smart! She comes up with a lot of cool inventions, including these devices. She plans battles sometimes too, but I’m pretty sure the general helps with that,” Goku replied, fitting the new restraint device and removing the old one.
Vegeta tried to discreetly stretch out his arms after having had them tied up for the better part of a day. “Do you know when we will be fed? We’ve not been given any food since our arrival.”
“Oh! Really? That’s not good. Well, you’re going to eat with Lady Bulma, but we’ll get your friends dinner too.” He pressed a couple buttons on a wall panel and a screen came on showing a black haired woman. “Hey Mai, can you make sure these two get dinner?” He turned back to Vegeta. “Is there anything that you guys can’t eat?”
“Are you allergic to anything? Or will some kinds of food make you sick?” the woman clarified.
“No, nothing like that.”
“I think I can make this work,” she said. “I hope the guys in stores are ready to have three more black hole stomachs hanging around.”
“Thanks Mai!” called Goku. “Mai is the head of the kitchens. No one calls her by her rank, but everyone salutes her anyway.” He leaned closer and whispered behind his hand in a grave tone, “If you make her mad or someone tells her you got in trouble, she’ll make you eat leftovers for days. Even if you’re someplace else!”
Vegeta looked askance at his escort. ‘What kind of insane place have I landed in?’ he wondered to himself.
Bulma sat in the formal dining room waiting for the arrival of her guest. She’d selected her outfit with care, even the jewelry. She’d had the table in the room changed from the large one used for state dinners to a smaller one and even requested the meal be presented in serving dishes rather than a single plate. She’d made every preparation she could think of to open negotiations on a good note. Now all that remained to be seen was how it all fell apart when it met the reality of Prince Vegeta.
She couldn’t say she wasn’t nervous. This negotiation going well could mean the difference between a true victory or a stalemate. She never let herself believe they could lose. They might not be able to liberate all the systems and planets under the Cold Empire’s control, but they could at least defend what they had accomplished so far.
But if Prince Vegeta and the Saiyans came to her side… Then there could be a victory. Goku and Raditz were formidable fighters, especially after training with King Kai for a year, but they were only two people against a vast army. She was confident in their ability to take on 98% of the Cold’s forces with no trouble, but that last 2% was the tricky part. That was comprised of all the super elites and Frieza himself. They had some solid intel on them from Raditz, but that was now years old, so they were a wild card.
With a few more powerful fighters, they’d be enough to overcome Frieza’s special forces and the tyrant himself. She just had to convince a man who probably thought of diplomacy as something you did to tease your enemies before you killed them.
For his part, Prince Vegeta was hoping they weren’t far from the dining room. If he had to spend any longer than a few more minutes with this moron, he was going to try strangling him, dampeners and promises be damned.
“Ok we’re here.”
Bulma turned as she heard the door opening and saw the Prince walk in ahead of her trusted guardsman Goku.
“Prince Vegeta of the Saiyans has arrived Lady Bulma,” Goku said.
“Wonderful,” she said, gliding across the room to meet him. “It is an honor your Highness. I rarely get to entertain royalty. I hope we’ve been able to make things a bit more pleasant since your arrival?” Bulma took in her guest. He was shorter than she had expected, about even height with her not counting his hair. And what hair it was! Standing straight up like a flame. His face was angular and his eyes were sharp. He might be a fighter, as the bunched muscle beneath his suit proclaimed, but he was certainly no fool. Of course there was also his tail, still securely wrapped around his waist.
“We’ve been released from those bindings and no one has tried to kill or beat us.”
“I understand that we neglected to get meals to you in a timely manner in the shuffle. I apologize for that.”
“Your man there,” he said, waving a hand in Goku’s direction, “seems to have it handled.”
“You mean he had Mai handle it,” she said with a soft laugh. “You must be quite hungry as well. Please have a seat and I’ll have the meal brought out.”
Vegeta settled in the large high backed chair at one end of the table and looked over the place setting. The wares weren’t the finest he’d ever seen, but they were certainly of quality, and having a look that said they were selected for their sturdiness as well as appearance. He’d noted that most everything he’d seen of this place had that same feeling. That things were to be used well, maintained, repaired, and kept rather than disposed of.
“Mai prepared the food for us herself this evening, so you’re in for a treat. She’s a wonderful chef. Very versatile,” Bulma said as she seated herself. “I do hope you find it to your liking.”
“I’m sure it will be fine, no matter what is served. For someone in the field, a cooked meal is a luxury.” He wondered where this was leading. He wasn’t the most patient or diplomatic of people, but it wouldn’t help him any to try and figure things out on an empty stomach.
The chef herself appeared then, with a number of other servers bearing large platters of various kinds of meats, a soup tureen that looked more like a punch bowl in size, and smaller plates filled with various other foods. When they had finished laying it all out on the table, there was only a small strip at each end left for the diners themselves.
“I hope this is enough. I know that Saiyan appetites are quite healthy,” Bulma said with a smile. “I had Mai prepare a variety of delicacies,” she said indicating the smaller plates. “Since you’re able to eat so much, might as well take advantage of it right? Feel free to take as much of anything and everything as you like your Highness.” She turned to Mai standing next to her chair and pointed out a few of the dishes on the table. She expertly arranged portions of them on a single plate which she then placed in front of Bulma.
Vegeta took his cues from his hostess, indicating which foods he wanted to be served first. The smell of the table by itself was making him salivate, and when the plate arrived in front of him it was all he could do not to tear into it like a commoner. As it was he probably ate too fast than manners demanded, but he was too hungry to worry about it. The food was excellent as promised. So many different flavors running over his tongue, it was difficult to keep track of them all. After his first plate, he looked at this Lady Bulma while he waited for it be refilled.
She didn’t seem to take any notice of how he had been conducting himself. He could see she was shrewd though and probably hadn’t reacted even though she had noticed.
“The Chyrellion red wine goes excellent with your second choices, if you’d like to try it,” she said, indicating a side table with a few glass bottles sitting on it.
“I prefer not to have intoxicating drinks. Water will be adequate.”
“Of course. We have non-alcoholic drinks though if you’d prefer something with flavor. I hope you don’t mind if I have a glass or two?”
“Not at all,” he said with a smirk. He wondered if a game was already being played.
Bulma was pleased to see that the prince was as sharp as she had guessed. He declined the wine without hesitation, as she’d seen several warrior-types do over the years when they were suspicious of their surroundings and company. While she kept it to herself, she’d noticed that he was carefully observing everything.
She’d been told once that the best way to survive was to make a plan to kill everyone you meet and escape from every room. Even if he didn’t know the axiom by the same words, his sharp gaze seemed to suggest he was living by it. Bulma hoped that Vegeta would keep his word. Even with the inhibitor fitted, she wasn’t eager to have him trying to throw his strength around.
“So, I suppose I should give my condolences first,” she said. At his questioning look she continued. “I heard that the Saiyan homeworld was destroyed. I understand it was some time ago, but that is a heavy loss.”
“It isn’t important and not something I wish to discuss.”
Not important? That was interesting. She didn’t want to poke him too hard right away, but she had to know more. “I understand, but indulge me one more question. I’d heard that it was an asteroid? That doesn’t seem likely given the might of your species and the technology given by the Cold Empire.”
He glared at the woman. Did she know? Raditz had told him Frieza was the one who actually destroyed Vegetasai. At first he’d dismissed it as nonsense, the only Saiyans who’d been there were all dead, but a strong feeling that he was right had been growing for years. “Yes, it was unlikely,” he said flatly, “but the universe is cruel and unmerciful to the weak and unprepared.”
She smiled inwardly. He didn’t believe that asteroid bullshit either. Good. “How do you like serving with the Cold Empire by the way? Your leader is quite demanding of his forces.”
“I have served my whole life. From the time I was a child on Vegetasai I was trained to be a warrior and all of my teachers and my father demanded the best of me, no matter what. That is how great warriors are made. Being sent to serve Frieza was no different.”
Despite her experience and resolve, Bulma couldn’t help but feel her heart break just a little at his reply. No childhood? Was he ever loved? How could someone live like that? Still she made sure to show no trace of it on her face. “I see. But you didn’t answer my question.”
“These questions are pointless and trying my patience,” he said, shooting up from his chair and giving the table a light pound with his fist. “I am your captive for now, but it will not always be so. I agreed to meet you only to secure our release or see if you just plan to kill us. I don’t understand why you are doing all this,” he said, gesturing around the room.
She blinked once, her pleasant expression never wavering as she delicately replied. “I was simply trying to get to know you. I don’t plan on killing you, so don’t worry about that part, but I was curious about you. You speak the word ‘Saiyan’ in some places and its like a nightmare came to life. If you can get a name, its usually yours. What kind of species, what kind of man, commands that much power and fear, yet still serves Frieza?”
“I did answer your question,” he said more soberly as he sat again. “I serve because it is what I have always done.”
“No, I asked if you liked it, not why you do it.”
“It doesn’t matter what I like.”
“Are you sure? Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer a different life?” she asked with honey on her tongue. He was stubborn, but if she were honest, she relished the challenge.
“What do you mean?” he asked her warily.
“I mean, we’re fighting a war. Cold Empire on one side, and a bunch of others standing in opposition. Well there were a bunch of others. Now its the Four Star Nation and our allied forces.”
“The Cold Empire is still going to be a formidable opponent. Even with allies on your side.” He had an idea of where she was going now, but he decided to let her show her own hand first.
“True. Which is why we’re always looking for more allies. The time is coming soon when we’re going to have to fight Cold forces directly. The endgame of this war. We’ve got technology on our side, which boosts our chances, but what we really need now are fighters. The toughest, the strongest, the best.” She took a deep breath. “To put it plainly, we need the Saiyans.”
“You already have one. Even if he does seem like an idiot.”
“Goku is an amazing fighter. He’s brilliant when it comes to combat, but struggles with a lot of other things. We need someone with tactics and leadership ability.”
“Things he certainly lacks.”
She ignored his jab and continued. “What will you do? Sit in your cell, plotting your escape? Say you succeed in getting out? What then?”
“We kill everyone here, destroy whatever we can, take a ship, then return to base.”
“Return to Frieza you mean. Return to the master who treats you like dirt and claims all your hard earned glory for himself. The one who profits off your blood and gives nothing back,” she said airily.
He stared at her. This woman, with a pitifully low power level, spoke as a warrior would about a greedy commander taking credit for his subordinates’ efforts to polish his own renown and pride. How could she know such a thing? For all his incredulity however, he couldn’t escape the fact she was right.
She took his silence as a good sign. He was thinking about what she was saying. She had hoped that his deflection wasn’t signalling denial of the truth of his situation. Of course, she was sure he also didn’t trust her yet either.
“Since we’re speaking for the sake of argument. What would you propose instead?”
“That you, Prince Vegeta, lead the Saiyan people as allies of the Four Star Nation in our battle against the Cold Empire. Any other Saiyans currently on the other side of the lines would be offered a chance to join you if encountered in the field. After the war is over, you’d be free to settle your people on an uninhabited planet of your choice. You’d have our full support in obtaining resources for your settlement as well.”
“Who would I answer to?”
“Myself and General Launch, my lead commander.”
“I mean after the war.”
“I’d hope we could still be on friendly terms, but you’d be a sovereign Saiyan planet and free to do as you wish.”
“You’d let us go?”
“First, you wouldn’t be slaves or servants, so there would be nothing to let you go from. Second, what use is there for warriors in peacetime?” Bulma sighed. “I’m not asking for fealty. I’m asking for help. The only reason you’d answer to anyone now is to maintain the chain of command that lets this whole thing work.” She was sure he was interested in what she was offering, she just had to gain enough of his trust that he accepted.
“In my experience, help doesn’t come without a cost. What do you want from me?”
“I already told you. I need warriors. Besides, I’m the one asking for help, so I should ask you: What do you want from me?”
“Your word, that I will be permitted to engage Frieza myself when the time comes. I will kill that bastard myself, with my own hands.”
“I give you my promise. You’ll be first in line to take him down. Anything else?”
He pondered carefully. If they did win, and they settled on a new planet, what could he have to make sure she followed through on her promises? “I will need to consider other dem - requests. Negotiations are not something I do very often.”
“I gathered that. You certainly don’t have to sign any agreements right now. We can take a little more time.”
“I will admit, I am surprised that you would ask us to be allies. It is clear you know our reputation, and yours seems to be quite different.”
“It is. However I also know that without your reinforcements, things are not going to go well for us. Frieza and his empire is also a blight on the galaxy and everyone in it.” She sat back in her chair, taking a slow drink from her glass. “If this is the path to victory, then so be it. The details of reputations can be worked out after he’s gone to hell.”
He smirked in reply. The woman was more ruthless than she first appeared. She might put on a happy and peaceful show, but underneath it seemed that she had a willingness to draw blood.
“So, does this mean that you’re officially on board with us? That we’re not speaking for the sake of argument anymore?”
“It does. I’ve been wanting to take Frieza out for years, but… the conditions haven’t been favorable to succeed yet.”
Bulma stood from her chair and walked towards her guest. As she approached, he stood as well. “Alright then, we’ll meet tomorrow to talk further,” she said sticking out her hand. He looked at it like it was a dead rat. “It is customary to shake hands when reaching an agreement.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” he said hotly. He was meant to touch her? She wasn’t bad to look at, resembling a Saiyan even with her ridiculous hair color, but he didn’t like touching his own people, much less an alien, and certainly not without his gloves.
She continued to hold out her hand. Bulma wasn’t backing down now. It was the little things that could cause trouble later. If she stood firm on this insignificant thing, he’d know she wasn’t a pushover and he’d, hopefully, be less inclined to fight her on more important matters.
He gave a heavy sigh internally, and grasped the woman’s hand gently, at which point she moved them up and down slightly a few times before letting go. He realized that she was very probably a stubborn woman in addition to being intelligent. Her hand was also curious. Vegeta had expected it to be soft, since she wasn’t a warrior, but while that was true, there had also been raised spots, like scars or calluses. Goku had said she was an inventor. Did she actually build her own devices?
Bulma suppressed her smile when he relented and took her hand. It was rough, but not as rough as she had thought it would be. It was incredibly warm though. What she wouldn’t do to be able to get bio-data on their new arrivals. Sure she had Goku and Radtiz, but a sample of two wasn’t much to work with. She made a mental note to include bio-scanners in the next version of the suppression device.
(Here is the amazing art by Rutisbe for this chapter!)
“How was dinner?” Nappa asked when Vegeta was returned to his cell.
“Satisfactory,” he replied.
“And the ‘Lady Bulma’?”
“Oh my, sounds like she made quite an impression on you,” Okara said, the wink evident in her tone.
“Remember your place soldier!” Vegeta snapped back.
“Apologies my Prince. My jest was out of order.”
“Were you both fed adequately?”
“We were,” Nappa answered. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to formulate a viable escape plan yet. I’ll keep working on it.”
“Very well, but do nothing until I tell you to. The woman believes we can negotiate. If things go well, it might put us in a better position.”
“As you command.”
“They think they’re being sneaky by speaking Saiyago,” the Colonel said as she watched the cells on her vidscreen.
“Aw, that’s cute. I’m not going to spoil the fun by telling them we can speak it too,” Raditz replied. “Are you?”
“Of course not. They talk so freely when they don’t think we can understand them.”
“Its always nice to have an easy job every once in a while. Even the Intelligence Service deserves one sometimes.”
“It is. Though the work will never really be done.” She handed some data chips to the large man in front of her. “You know where these go?”
“Yes. I’ll make sure they get to the right places. No trace.”
“Good luck. Kami and Kais watch over you.”
“Please tell me you’re not serious?” Oolong asked as he wrote out the documents that Bulma had requested. “You’re not really going to try and make an alliance with those guys are you?”
“Why would I not?”
“They’re Saiyans! Everyone knows they’re a bunch of bloodthirsty maniacs!”
“Goku and Raditz aren’t,” she replied evenly.
“Well… yeah… but I mean… they’re different. Goku grew up on Earth and Raditz dying was the only thing that calmed him down. Plus Goku keeps him in check.”
“Why are our guests different?” the Colonel asked from her seat near Bulma’s desk.
“They threatened to eat General Launch! Who does that??”
“Hmm… Bloodthirsty maniacs I’d say.”
“Exactly! Man I’m glad you’re seeing reason. Now if you can just get the boss to see it that way. ”
“Yes. I see the reason I need them.” Bulma smiled wickedly at her assistant. “We’re fighting a war, Oolong. Against an entire army of people who enjoy killing. Who like causing pain. We’ve got a lot of good soldiers but in the end, we need more strength to back it up and power through. Saiyan rage and love of combat is the perfect solution. With our technology and their skill, they will be unmatched.”
“I still feel like this is going to blow up in our faces. They’re a bunch of crazies.”
“That’s what I’m for,” the Colonel said. “To make sure that it doesn’t. Or that if it does, the damage goes elsewhere.”
“As long as I can keep the Prince agreeable, he’ll keep the rest in line. He’s smart enough to see the long view and go for the better deal,” Bulma added.
“If he survives,” Oolong said. As they looked over he continued. “I see that he gets first crack at Frieza. I’ve heard rumors about that guy and how strong he is.”
“It’s true Bulma. All my information says that he is a very formidable opponent. Not to mention his lieutenants. And that specialist team he has on call.”
“You don’t think he can win?” their leader said with a small frown.
The Colonel leaned back, taking a moment to think. “I think it is possible he could win a one on one with Frieza, but not if he has to go through the others first. Even so, the chances are not in his favor. Of course, this is a best guess since we’ve never seen either of them fight in person, so we don’t have a real measure to go by. I strongly recommend trying to dissuade him from that course.”
“Yeah Bulma,” Oolong said. “You said he can keep the others in line, but if he dies they’ll be running loose!”
“Oh Oolong. If the Prince dies, they’ll just fight harder to defeat Frieza in revenge.” She took a sip from her wine glass. “Of course I’d rather that not happen. I’d like to keep them as an ally after this is over, but if the worst should occur, it will still be in our favor. It would also be a shameful waste of a handsome man.”
The Colonel chuckled. “Brilliant and thirsty as ever Bulma. But… Perhaps a strategic sharing of information?” she said in Saiyago.
“What do you propose?”
“Perhaps if he knows he’s not fighting a losing battle against extinction, he’ll be more open to strategy instead of revenge. I agree that the Saiyans remaining allies with us would be a wise move.”
“You want to share information? That’s unusual.”
“It isn’t that strange. And I did say strategic. No details, just a seed of hope for there being a future for them.”
“Hmm. It is something to consider. I wanted to honor Raditz’s wish to keep it secret, but Vegeta is Saiyan as well. I’ll keep it in mind if I need something extra.”
Raditz was in his ship, heading towards his next drop. Three down, two to go. His ride was a small craft, technically built for two, but barely, and definitely not meant for long hauls. Cramped almost, but perfect for landing and departing places all over without fuss. As he was stretched out on the small bunk, he heard an incoming signal. His stomach twisted a bit. Command usually kept radio silence while he was on these rounds unless there was a problem.
He jumped to the comms and put it on the speaker. “Omega 99, Omega 99. Fire in the sky. White glove service. 552 Golf, 91 Fish, 647 Taco. A5-T0-KR4. PB 5.”
He grabbed the codebook from its hidden compartment and started thumbing through the pages as the message started to repeat. Omegas were the best the Intelligence Service had to offer in terms of agents. For one of them to broadcast a signal like this didn’t look promising.
He found the key for the lock code and followed along with with the phrases as they played again, making notes on a scratch pad as he went. He looked at the full message after he finished. He read it five times. “Holy shit.”
Lady Bulma was entertaining Prince Vegeta, enjoying lunch while breaking from hammering out details of their treaty for the second day in a row. For all his personal dislike of politics, he wasn’t shy about working to get what he wanted from the accords.
“So, I think its going well,” she said. “What about you?”
He leveled his hard glare at her. “In the short time I’ve known you, you’ve proven to be one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met. Certainly that I’ve not killed for being so.”
“Well I appreciate that and your honesty. Its so refreshing to deal with someone who isn’t shy about speaking their mind.” At his lack of reply she continued. “It gets boring trying to figure out how I’m being lied to all the time. Especially after its become predictable,” she sighed.
“Predictable?” He made it a point not to lie as much as possible. Not because he thought it was wrong so much as he didn’t want to bother trying to keep up with what was told to whom. The idea that someone had been lied to enough to be able to predict them was slightly intriguing.
“Yes. They tend to fall into the same patterns over and over again. Not the exact same lie, but the lies usually come out in the same places for the same reasons. Once you know where and how to look for them, they’re pretty easy to refute.”
“You must be quite skilled in telling your own lies with that kind of knowledge.”
“I could be if I needed to. But really, I hate it. It goes against everything I believe as a scientist. Plus its just damn rude, if you’ll excuse my language.” She continued, her voice getting more forceful as she went. “Just say what you mean and mean what you say. Seriously, problems exist to be solved, but you don’t get anywhere without good data to start with.”
Vegeta smirked. “No excuse needed. I might have thought your statement was a lie, intended to lull me into trusting you more easily. Perhaps it still is. I’m a bit more inclined to believe you though since you seem to be so passionate about it.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.”
“You’re welcome, Lady Bulma.”
As he was brought back to his cell, Vegeta reflected further on their meeting. He still didn’t fully trust the woman, but he didn’t think she was out to trap him either. All three of them had been well-treated, even if they were still locked up. The beds were pretty comfortable compared to others he’d been in. They’d been taken to bathe, given fresh linens, and their garments had been cleaned as well. The lights were dimmed at night, and in stark contrast to how Cold prisoners were treated, all the guards seemed to care to do was quietly make sure they weren’t trying to escape or hurt themselves, and give them their meals. They were even offered entertainment!
Part of him still thought it could be part of a scheme to bind them to her side then turn into another master, but the mounting evidence seemed to counter that. He wouldn’t be foolish enough to trust her completely, but if half of what she promised him was true, it would be a chance they never thought they’d get again.
“Hey Vegeta,” Nappa said, interrupting his thoughts. “How are the ‘negotiations’ going?”
“Well. Has their good treatment of you been continuing?”
“Oh yeah! I’ve eaten better in here than I have in ages. Not that I want to stick around.”
“Tch. Of course not. Okara? Are you well?”
“Yes. The guards here are either spineless or dickless. Not one has looked at me. I’d kill them if they tried anything of course, but still.”
“Or they could have some civility. Not everyone are animals like Frieza’s men.”
“If you’ll forgive my saying so, but you sound like you’re starting to like these weaklings.”
“I agree with Okara,” Nappa rumbled. “More talk like that and I might start worrying that you’re going soft on us.”
“Such foolishness,” Vegeta replied with a growl. “I care nothing for these people, save what they can do for us.”
“What do you mean? Are you taking these talks seriously?”
Vegeta thought about it for a moment. “Yes. This Lady Bulma has so far been agreeable to terms that are favorable for us. If it continues, I see no reason to not take advantage of her resources.”
“Vegeta, think about this carefully,” he said with a sliver of panic in his voice. “Look at what happened the last time we negotiated with someone.”
“I am thinking very carefully, Marshall Nappa. I will not make the same mistakes my father did. I also will not allow the Saiyan species to go extinct when there’s a chance to save it!” he finished with a roar. “I will do my duty as Prince, and will do whatever is necessary for us to survive. I will also not pass up a chance to destroy that monster once and for all with my own hands. Do you understand me Marshall?”
"I understand and obey my Prince.”
“Okara? Do you have anything to say?”
“I have doubts, I won’t lie. Feels like we might be walking into a trap. But I will trust and obey you my Prince. You haven’t gotten us killed yet,” she added with a twist of her lips.
“Good,” he said firmly. “I want both of you to still be alert. When I’m not here, you are my eyes and ears. You also need to get in as much exercise as you can. A cell is no excuse for laziness.”
Bulma looked at her head of Intelligence as she flipped off the screen.
“He’s good,” the Colonel said. “Leading from a cell, where you can’t even see the others.”
“Yup,” Bulma replied. “Gives them enough slack to think for themselves, but makes sure they know he’s the final word.”
“Seems to take his duty as their leader seriously as well.”
“Yes,” Bulma replied with a grin. “Its good though. It means despite his desire for revenge, he is thinking long term.”
“You were unsure?” she asked with a note of surprise.
“Not really, but I like to have my theories confirmed.”
“Did you tell him what we talked about the other day?”
“Not yet. I’m holding on to it. He might be seeing the long view now, but when it comes to fighting Frieza, I worry he’ll get tunnel vision. He’s lived his whole life fighting, killing, and being angry. I can’t imagine what that does to a person. He’s too valuable to let him kill himself like that.”
“Are you sure that’s all?”
Bulma raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “And just what does that mean Colonel?”
The Colonel was going to reply when a signal interrupted her. She turned to the comm on her desk and when she looked at the code, her eyebrows shot up. “It’s Raditz,” she said as she keyed in her access command.
“I thought he was making the rounds? Doesn’t he stay on radio silence?”
“Normally yes. Which makes me wonder what this is going to be about,” she said as the signal finished decoding.
“Shaggy calling Eagle. Do you read?”
“This is Eagle, go ahead.”
“I just picked up a short rep burst signal from Omega 99. They signaled a fire in the sky and requested service,” Raditz said in a rush. “Permission to go?”
“Hold your horses. Give me the numbers.”
She unlocked a small drawer in her desk and pulled out a codebook, quickly opening to the relevant page. Her eyes went wide. “Confirm, fire in the sky?” Bulma looked over the officer’s shoulder and to where her finger was sitting on the page. As she read the code, her own shock was plain on her face.
“Language please! I don’t care if you are a soldier,” she replied primly. “You have a go. Packet transmit only. Estimated time of op?”
“Given the distance and situation, minimum 10 hours.”
You’ll have 6 until full security lockdown on the ship systems trigger and at 10 it’ll convert into a total wipe. If your package is waiting, you can be in and out. If not, you’ll have your full 10 hours. Your code should be showing now.”
“I can work with that. Destination is locked. Mission code is input and awaiting activation. Anything else before I go dark?”
Bulma stepped over to the pickup. “Yeah. Be careful out there. Your brother would really miss you if you didn’t make it back.”
“Aw, well I’d miss you guys too.”
“Yeah well… You Sa- guys can get a little bull-headed when you’re focused. We all know its important, but don’t give up your life too easily.”
“I’ve already been dead and am in no hurry to do it again.”
“Nothing further,” the Colonel said.
“Talk to you in under 10 hours then. Shaggy out.”
Who is the mysterious Omega 99?
She almost couldn’t believe what she’d heard. The very strong green being the soldiers had dragged aboard turned out to not have as much resilience against Frieza’s ministrations as one might have thought. He may have called himself Lord Slug, but he broke like the rest. It took a while still, but in the end, he was telling the leader all sorts of things. Including the existence of Dragon Balls.
99 knew that she had to get out. She couldn’t report remotely without being caught, and even the signal for extraction would be a big risk. However it was nothing compared to Frieza getting his claws on Dragon Balls. She just hoped there was someone listening close by enough to hear her.
She’d rigged up a remote burst transmission, set to go off when she’d be someplace else with a lot of witnesses to verify 99 had been busy there for hours beforehand. The acknowledgement code wasn’t a problem, and would show up on her hidden micro-receiver, telling her if she’d been heard and how long she had to get to her extraction point.
After she’d finished her chores, 99 went to check her receiver, hidden in the support post of an old radio tower. “Signal received. 5 transit. Packet only. Reply w/ local if able.” Five hours to arrive. She checked the timestamp. Given the time of the reply, it was actually less than three now.
Twilight had just settled heavily on the arid planet. The dusk would last a while, a quirk of the orbit, but the dark that followed would be deep and inky. Long enough to complete her final task she hoped. The last thing she did before leaving was send a reply on a coded frequency and hoped like hell that the person coming got it.
Raditz came upon the planet and took a look. Lots of desert, minimal signal chatter, signs of destroyed population centers, and lots of resource extraction facilities. Textbook Cold Empire invasion pattern. He set himself in a wide orbit, out of scan range of the planet and started listening.
He was just before the five hour mark and wanted to see if his pickup would be able to signal before dropping into the atmosphere. He figured he’d give it 15 minutes then head in. There wasn’t a lot of time to spare if it was going to be a manual job. He was grateful that they’d been able to send a ping back giving a general area for pickup, so he was also was looking for possible landing zones nearby.
At five hours and ten minutes a signal came through, but it was not the tight band, low power one he expected. “Shit. That’s not good,” he grumbled as he flipped the engines over to active mode. Sending a signal like that was akin to setting off a flare. His fears were confirmed just after he got through the atmosphere when his radio crackled to life.
“- hot! I repeat, LZ is hot! All measures authorized to secure, Omega directive 4!”
He pinpointed the exact location of the transmission and responded. “Acknowledged. Inbound on course 87N by 34W. Two minutes.”
So far so good. If anyone had noticed her transmissions, a general alert hadn’t been called. At least not yet. She knew it was dangerous to assume no one had picked up her signals, but she couldn’t help a sliver of relief cross her mind the longer things stayed quiet.
She’d left the safe house and headed to her apartment in the lower district. Normally she was aboard Frieza’s ship, a post she had worked hard to get, but this was too important. There were others there now anyway. She arrived to a small apartment and traded her clothes and ID to an agent she’d been training to take her place in case she had to leave. A placeholder for her cover. She also removed the heavy makeup that disguised her normal features.
99 headed towards the edge of town and the area she’d signaled as her pickup point. It was as the buildings thinned out a bit that she spotted the first patrol. Damn. It was likely someone had caught on and was actually smart enough to quietly send out troops instead of sounding a general alarm. Her suspicions were certainly reinforced by the second and third patrols that she found winding through the narrow streets. She passed the soldiers with a wary glance, matching everyone else still out.
Not too much farther now. The area she’d picked was in a section of the old industrial district before it was closed to divert the workers to resource processing. There was a large landing area in the center that cargo ships used to use, which would provide cover until the last 20-50 meters, but was still large enough for a small craft to make a fast landing and takeoff.
Her chrono vibrated silently against her wrist, letting her know that the last hour was up. She’d tried to eavesdrop on the patrols passing by, but all she’d been able to figure out was that they were definitely looking for an unsanctioned broadcast and the person who sent it.
Nothing for it then. She had to make a move before the ship arrived because that would definitely alert the patrols. If she wasn’t ready to leave as soon as they landed, they’d both be in trouble.
She’d scouted a route into the abandoned factories, one that should have allowed her to bypass most of the soldiers and cover her popping through the broken fence along the perimeter of the area. However finding one of them pissing against a wall behind a building wasn’t accounted for.
“Hey!” he called gruffly. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“M-me? I’m just… trying to get home. All the soldiers… its scary up on the road.”
“That doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be more than 2 meters from the back of your own building unless you’re on the walking path or the street,” he said in a growl, coming closer. “I should take you in for questioning!”
“Please! No! I just want to go home!” she cried, forcing tears into her eyes, desperately hoping he’d give up and let her go.
He closed more of the distance between them, obviously not threatened by the crying female. “Where is your home, hm? You don’t look like a native of this planet with that pale skin of yours.”
This was taking too long. She had to get rid of this guy. “I live in the green block just up the hill. Can I please go? I’ll go straight there. I’ll even go up to the street right now and take it the rest of the way.”
He acted like he was considering it, but she could tell that he was enjoying the chance to bully someone weaker. She could see the part of the fence she needed just a few meters past him. “Well… Its been an awful hassle to take care of this you know. And you interrupted me. If you have anything to compensate me for my time I could see letting this go.”
“I don’t have much, but I’ll give you what I’ve got if I can leave.”
She pulled open the small bag she had on her shoulder, showing the bit of money she had, as well as a sweet bun she’d stashed in a cloth. “That’s everything I swear.”
“Hmph. You weren’t lying about there not being much. Guess that’s how it goes in the poor part of town.”
He reached out to take the items, and as he did, she grabbed his wrist and pulled. She quickly moved to clamp her other hand over his mouth so he couldn’t shout for help. As she adjusted her grip, she pinched the joint on his hand to get him to drop his gun, then swiftly moved both her hands to snap his neck. It was over in seconds.
Unfortunately, at that moment, someone had been sent to see what was taking their comrade so long, and that someone had now alerted the rest of the squad by not only their exclamation, but by opening fire.
“Damn,” 99 muttered as she ran for the fence while ducking blasts. No need to be subtle now, just get the hell out. She pulled her comm out and signaled the ship. “White glove, LZ is hot! I repeat, LZ is hot! All measures authorized to secure, Omega directive 4!”
The sun was getting ready to set, the shadows growing long and spidery in the maze of metal walkways and pipes that linked around and through the factories. 99 had so far been able to elude the bulk of her pursuers. One or two would find her randomly, but she’d made quick work of them before moving on. Running into a bigger group could be a problem though.
She’d just made her way onto the platform when a full squad of soldiers ran onto the pad. “There’s the bitch!” One of them shouted. “Get her before she can get away!”
She dropped into a fighting stance, but then 99 heard the engines, and saw the small craft come skimming over the building behind her. There was a roar and light spat from the cannon slung under the nose of the ship. 99 blinked the dazzle from her eyes, and saw that all the men had been obliterated. The pilot performed an expert landing and the ramp in the back opened.
99 walked aboard the ship, plopping into the seat next to the pilot. She had her harness halfway on when she realized they weren’t moving yet. “Well Raditz, are we going?”
When he finally closed his mouth enough to speak, only one word came out. “Chichi?”
“Lady Bulma,” the Colonel said as she entered the room, “Raditz has reported back.”
“Did he succeed in extracting the agent?” Bulma asked, looking up from the papers on her desk.
“He did. Her report contains troubling news.”
“Oh? More troubling than just Dragon Balls being mentioned?”
“Indeed. There is another set of them on another planet.”
“Shit. That is bad.” She looked at her Colonel’s blush. “Sorry. I need to talk to Vegeta.”
“Now? Is that wise?”
“We’re out of time. I wanted to approach this differently, but we absolutely cannot let Frieza get his hands on Dragon Balls.”
“And what of the Prince? What if he were to get them instead? Can we trust him not to betray us if they should fall into his hands?”
“I don’t know. I want to believe that we can. I want to believe that under that macho Saiyan bullsh-crap, there’s a man of honor.”
“We can’t take a chance like that,” the Colonel said. “I know you will do as you wish, but I strongly urge you to leave out all mention of the Dragon Balls.”
“I hadn’t planned on explaining that part. As much as I don’t want to lie to him, you’re right. That much power falling to someone who isn’t prepared for it can cause more harm than good.”
Raditz took a deep breath. He’d barely been back an hour and they’d sent him to the guest block to bring Vegeta to Bulma. He hadn’t wanted to do it, but for some reason the boss had insisted. Shit, he didn’t want to see those assholes. Had to happen sometime though if this alliance thing he’d been briefed about was going to take place.
He walked down the passage outside the cells, and a familiar voice called out as he came into view.
“Raditz? Is that you?” Nappa asked.
“Yeah its me. Not dead.”
“Your scouter data said you were.”
“It got messed up in the fight,” he lied easily. “As you can see, I’m still kicking. Not gonna lie, it was a close call though.”
“Why the fuck are you wearing their uniform?” Okara chimed in.
“Because I joined up. After I nearly died fighting my brother, I had time to think while I recovered. Their planet is really nice. Plenty of food, some strong fighters, clean air and water. No boots on necks. Plus bacon and booze.”
“You asshole. You betrayed us for that? Your own kind?!?! For weaklings!” she spat.
“I didn’t betray shit,” he replied hotly. “I’m on the side fighting Frieza. Everything I do advances the goal of wiping that monster from the universe, so you can fuck yourself.”
A clapping started from the other end of the cells. “My my Raditz,” Vegeta said dryly, “You finally grew a spine.”
“I’d like to see how tough he is if I was out of this cell. Weren’t you like just over 900?” Okara asked with a sneer.
“Tough enough,” he growled back to her. He turned and stood in front of Vegeta’s cell. “I actually was told to come and get you. Lady Bulma needs to speak with you right away.”
“Oh this wasn’t a social call?”
“Nope. But I knew the others would want to say hello when they saw me,” he said opening the cell and acting as escort.
“So, that tailless imbecile is your brother, Kakarot?”
“He’s not an imbecile, he’s simple, and yes. Though he goes by Goku now. He got adopted by a human who gave him that name. Also he sustained a head injury when he was still a baby.”
“That explains so much,” Vegeta mused. “I see you still have your tail.”
“I’m adult and know what species I am. Goku was a child and was turning Oozaru without knowing what was happening. His friends removed it to keep people safe.”
“What a waste.”
Raditz shrugged. “It is what it is. Hasn’t slowed him down any in getting stronger. He blew past me a while ago.”
“I thought his power level was third class?” Vegeta said with a frown.
“It was. But the way they train, the techniques they use, we just keep getting stronger, even without near death experiences. That makes the jump bigger, but there’s progress without it. I think the last time I checked I was up around 7500. Goku’s like over 9000 now.”
“What? 9000? That’s impossible!”
Raditz chuckled. “Nah. It really isn’t. Maybe you’ll think I’m full of shit, but these people, they’re good. Bulma’s a woman of her word and stubborn as anything. If she promises you something, she’ll do whatever she has to so she makes good.”
“How long have you known her?”
“Since I recovered on Earth. Her and Goku have been friends since they were kids.” He looked down at Vegeta who was scowling in thought. “Look, I know we haven’t seen each other in some years, but we almost grew up together. You know me. Am I the kind that would trade in one scumbag for another?”
“You told her,” Vegeta said as he stopped walking.
“You told her about Frieza. The Earth is a backwater in the middle of nowhere. She never would have known about it on her own. You told her about Frieza, you explained the technology, you helped her start creating all of this.”
“Yes I did. I like that planet. I like having a brother, and friends, real friends. I also knew, that if anyone could figure out a way to beat Frieza, it was that woman. I got to sit in her lab and look at her work and you’re right, she created all of this. Everything from the hulls to the bunks, all her designs. Besides, it would only be a matter of time before Frieza showed up there. I wasn’t going to lose everything again if I could help it.”
“You trust her to run an empire and not turn into a despot?”
“More than you,” he said, turning to walk away.
Vegeta walked the rest of the way in silence, deep in thought, which Raditz was happy to give him.
Bulma was trying very hard to sit still and maintain her image as the unflappable ruler of a star spanning nation. So much was happening so quickly though, that it was difficult not to want to work on three things at once. She knew it was important that she present a calm face to Prince Vegeta though.
“You’re almost vibrating,” the Colonel said.
“I know. There’s so much to do! This has to come first though. If they’re not 100% on board, everything has to be planned without them.”
“I’ve still got some doubts about them personally, but if anyone can win them to our cause it’s you.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she replied as a knock sounded on the door. “Come in!”
Raditz opened the door and Vegeta followed him inside. “The Saiyan Prince as requested. Do you need anything else?”
“Yes. I want you to stay for the meeting please. Have a seat.” She gestured to a chair on one side of the table.
“As you like,” he said, making sure to hide his surprise as he sat down.
“You’re inviting the soldiers now Lady Bulma?” Vegeta asked.
“Just this one.”
“What about the chef?”
The Colonel stood from the chair she was sitting in to Bulma’s right and extended her hand. “We haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Colonel Mai of the Intelligence Service. I maintain an in-house cover to better keep an eye on things.”
Vegeta shook her hand briefly, a bit in shock before sitting in the empty chair. The woman kept spies in her own base? “Why are you telling me this now? What’s happened?”
“We’ve received a report from one of our agents in the field that Frieza has learned the whereabouts of a very powerful weapon. We don’t believe his forces are aware that we know about it, or its location,” Mai said evenly. “We’re going to try to beat him to the location and set an ambush, or at least take him by surprise while they look for it.”
“Frieza doesn’t need weapons. Why would he care at all?”
“He might not need it, but I’m sure he wouldn’t want any of his enemies to have it either.”
“Is it a single weapon?” the Prince asked.
“Then again, why would he care?
“Because I only need one,” Bulma said. “I only need one to pull apart, figure out how it works, what it’s made of, what kind of power it uses. Then I can make it better. More powerful, more efficient, and as many as I want. I built this fleet because I got my hands on one small ship. We don’t use scouters here because I’ve already made something better,” she finished, her eyes all but glowing in the ferocity of her words.
Vegeta sat back for a moment. He decided this woman was one of the more fearsome beings he’d ever encountered. It had started to sink while he was walking with Raditz, but now he felt the full force of realization. Bulma had gotten Raditz’s armor, pod, and scouter, plus the basic tech manuals he’d taken to carrying after a close call. Out of those tiny pieces, on a backwater planet almost no one knew of, she’d created an empire and risen to be a real threat to Frieza. “Alright, but what does that have to do with me? Surely your forces can handle a surprise attack on a scout patrol.”
“They could,” Mai said, “but we’ve determined that Frieza is taking his main fleet out himself.”
He gave the women a cold glare. “You’re hiding something. Frieza wouldn’t go himself if it was just a weapon, no matter how powerful.”
“You’re right, we are. For operational security reasons.”
“Vegeta,” Bulma began, “we’re not trying to screw you over. You’re here because I want you to know what’s going on, because I want to include you in the planning. It is vital that we have trust between us, and since we’re out of time for the long way, I’m trying my best to show you that everything I’ve been saying has been truthful and honest.”
“You say that you want our help and you’ll help us in return, then you hide things from me. I’m not sure that is a very trustworthy thing to do.”
“You’ve stated that you wish to face Frieza yourself,” Mai said. “If things should go badly, do you think he won’t try to extract information from you about your time here? You can’t reveal what you don’t know. Even accidentally.”
Vegeta suppressed a shudder. He knew how Frieza liked to treat prisoners that he took personal interest in. “Fine. I will tolerate this for now, but only until I kill him. Once that is done, we’re done.”
“You won’t reconsider this course of action?”
“Why should I?”
“I guess that’s where I come in.” Raditz said.
“I want to avenge our race Raditz. You said it yourself, that bastard is the one that destroyed Vegetasai. I will not let that go unanswered!”
“I get that. But he’s way stronger than you think. We’ve managed to get a couple of readings and they’re high. Really high. Do you really want to leave your people without a leader?”
“You mean all four of you?”
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“You ever wonder how I knew that Frieza destroyed our home? Did you ever hear about my father, Bardock? About him telling crazy stories that Frieza was going to kill us all?”
“I - no.”
“Long story short, dad got hit by one of a race of psychics who gave him the ability to see the future as revenge for purging their planet. They had already seen our doom, and he saw a chance to have a Saiyan tortured with the knowledge. Bardock was a crafty one though, and after the shock wore off, he went about getting help to escape our fate. He managed to talk around several commanders up the chain, and they made a plan.”
“What kind of plan?”
“A plan to prevent our species from going extinct, even if the planet itself was gone. There are over 6000 Saiyans out there, scattered all over in secret bases, waiting for the word. 6000 of your subjects Prince Vegeta, waiting for their leader to return.”
“Why didn’t I know about this?”
“As the Colonel said, you can’t reveal what you don’t know. After dad died, I was the only one who knew of their existence and the codes to give the all clear to them. Once I joined up with this bunch, I told one other person, not my brother, that information so that if I got killed, someone could reach them.”
“Who are they? Why aren’t they fighting already?”
“A lot of them aren’t really warriors. Many are of course, but they’ve been making sure they’re ready to defend their bases. The rest are technicians, support staff, farmers, some artisans mixed in, children. Don’t look shocked. They set up for a long wait. They’re prepared to carry on the Saiyan species for a few decades. By the time they run out of room to produce enough food, they’d have large enough numbers to emerge en masse and take on anything or anyone.”
“I’m not sure if I should execute you for hiding this.”
“I’d prefer to stay alive thanks. Especially since we’re about to head into a big fight.”
“Hmph. I think that’s the only reason to keep you alive right now.”
“Aw, you like me too much to kill me,” he said with a smile, “no matter how much you yell.”
Vegeta smirked. “I don’t need you to be the jester anymore when your brother does it so much better without the smart ass backtalk.”
“Yeah yeah… You say that now, but his sunshine personality will wear you out real fast there stormcloud.”
“What??? Stormcloud? You dare to address your Prince in such a way?”
“I remember what I called you when we were ten…”
“I WILL execute you if you even dare.”
Raditz held up his hands. “Alright, alright. The point’s been made anyhow. You have people and a future to consider. Is that all you need me for ma’am?”
“Yes Raditz,” Bulma replied. “Thank you.”
“Thank you, Lady Bulma,” he said as he stood, gave a salute, and left.
“So I suppose you plan to hold the locations from me until victory has been achieved?” Vegeta said.
“Not if you don’t want us to,” Bulma replied. “They’re your people. You have a right to know where they are.”
“The Colonel doesn’t agree.” He waved a hand at Mai, whose face was outwardly calm. “Her heart rate sped up when you said that.”
“It’s my job to keep secrets,” Mai said. “My trust is much harder to earn than the Lady’s. I agree with her statement, it’s only the timing I have an issue with.”
“I will… think on it. How much time do we have?”
“Not much, sadly. The General and the fleet commanders will be meeting with us to make plans first thing in the morning. If we hope to intercept Frieza, we’ll have to be underway in the next 48 hours.”
“I’ll be ready. Can we have a place to train before we go to battle?”
“I’m sure we can arrange it,” Bulma said.
Vegeta only nodded in reply before leaving the room and heading back to his cell.
The Colonel, the head of Intelligence, is the same Mai as was serving the dinner.
Vegeta stood in front of the cells of Nappa and Okara while the guard watched nearby.
“They let you run around on your own now Vegeta?” Nappa asked.
“As long as I don’t try to attack anyone or break anything, they seem to think I’m civilized enough to conduct myself properly.”
“So what’s wrong?” He knew it was a bold question, but it wasn’t often he’d seen his Prince with an expression of deep thought.
“Okara. You need to hear this too. Come forward.”
“What’s going on? Are they going to execute us?”
“No. We’re going to fight with them. They’ve discovered where Frieza intends to be next and are planning to attack. We’re going to help them wipe out his fleet and kill him,” he said quietly.
“Maybe you’ll kill me, but I have to know. I thought you swore personal vengeance on him? You’re just gonna give that up?” Okara asked.
“We aren’t alone. As much as my pride demands I fight him myself, my duty demands that I not leave the rest of our people without a leader.”
“The rest of our people?” Nappa repeated. “You mean Raditz and the numbwit?”
“No. There are far more that survived, thanks to a cunning plan their father created. There are more of our people, scattered, hidden, living to carry on our species.”
Okara stepped back in shock before letting a small sob escape as she sank down with her back against the wall. “Oh rings and moon, we’re not alone! Do you think someone still knows how to make rubashi? Or even meyott?”
Nappa chuckled. “I’d be happy if there was just some blue fruit! Ha ha! We’re still in the fight! Saiyans aren’t put down that easily you lizard bastard!”
Vegeta grinned wickedly at them. Normally he’d chide them to better composure, but if he was being honest with himself, the feeling of his chest loosening at the news of more survivors was something he’d never thought he’d experience. Their own expression of that relief could be forgiven.
Goku came up behind him a minute later. “Hey guys! You ready to go?”
“Go where?” Vegeta asked.
“Training room. Bulma said you wanted to train before the fight. Raditz and I sure wouldn’t mind some more sparring partners!”
“Do I get this thing off?” Nappa asked, gesturing to the inhibitor.
“While we’re training you can.”
“Do I get to fight you without it?”
“Sure! That kick was pretty strong even with it on. I’d love to see how good you are.”
“Well then, let’s get going!”
Vegeta addressed his subordinates. “For now, these people are our allies and they do not operate like Frieza’s troops. Do not kill or cripple anyone.”
The two Saiyans nodded as Goku let them out of their cells.
Vegeta was stunned. He’d thought that Raditz must have been exaggerating when he’d spoken about their increase in power earlier, but he hadn’t. Not a bit. Kakarot was every bit a match for his own strength and Raditz himself wasn’t far behind. Nappa had challenged the tailless Saiyan to regain his pride, but found himself beaten again. Kakarot had complimented him on his ability of course, but to Nappa it was almost insulting.
Raditz had gone against Okara, and it wasn’t much of a match. She’d bitched that she was an Elite and should have been able to wipe the floor with him, but it was more frustration than anger. He’d shrugged and said free living was better for getting more powerful than endless combat. Okara said that was bullshit, and he shrugged again saying she could believe what she wanted.
After hours spent sparring one another until they were all exhausted, the group made it into the mess hall and found a large table filled with food. Goku said he’d called ahead when he figured they were about done.
Vegeta looked around him. A table full of Saiyans, eating their fill after a long training session. They’d challenged each other, helped each other to improve. The distrust had vanished in that time and place, and even now seemed distant. These were his people. Despite the difference in attire, Kakarot and Raditz were still Saiyan at their cores. They jostled and sniped at each other’s plates, trying to get the best or favored bits, all in camaraderie.
This is what she was promising him. Lady Bulma had found the one kind of treasure he could truly care about. Damn her. Despite all the things his past had taught him, and how little time he’d known her, he believed her. Shit he even trusted her. He’d spent so long thinking there was no future, that to suddenly be presented with one was something he was unprepared to deal with.
After they’d ate all they could, they were led to a new area instead of the cells.
“Ok these are your new rooms,” Goku said as he opened the door. Inside was a large cylindrical space with six doors spaced around it. “This is my room,” he said pointing to the one on the far left, “and the one next to it is Raditz’s. The blue door is the bathroom. You guys can pick which ones you want.”
“We’re not going back to the cells?” Nappa asked.
“Nope! You guys are officially allies, so you get a regular bunk now.”
“I will take the one next to the door,” Vegeta said, heading towards the room.
Bulma was at her desk when there was a knock on her office door. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was very late. ‘Probably Mai, or Chichi since she’s back,’ she thought. “Come in.”
The large frame of Nappa eased through her door. She hoped she was hiding her shock at the sight of her unexpected guest. “Sorry to stop by so late, but I saw the light was on. I hoped I could speak with you?”
“Of course. You’re Nappa right?”
“Yeah. Marshall Nappa of Vegetsai. Or I was, am, I dunno. Anyway, I just wanted to see you for myself. Poke around, ask some questions.”
“I understand. I’m sure it feels like what I’ve been telling your Prince is a little too good to be true, especially after serving under Frieza. You’ve been looking after Vegeta for a long time too. I’ve heard that even when they get older and start growing up, kids always stay kids in the minds of their parents.”
“Never heard that. I have heard fool me once, fool me twice though.”
“So have I. Marshall Nappa, I’ll be plain. My goal is to win this war and send Frieza to hell. Some might say that we shouldn’t kill if we don’t have to, and for the most part I agree, but at the same time, there are some things that just have to be done. No matter how you’d like things to be,” she got up and went to the sideboard to pour a drink. “Care for one? Yes? In any case, I might be ambitious, but I’m not a tyrant. I believe in freedom, self-determination, and peace. I understand that our values might not align in many ways, but I still think we can find a way to co-exist. The first step to all of us having a future however, is to put that fucker in the ground,” she said as she handed him the small glass of liquor.
“You have almost no power level, but I can tell you’re not afraid of me. Even with this thing you put on me, you’d have no chance if I wanted to kill you.” He took in her steady hand, her smooth tone and icy gaze. “Lady you have got some of the biggest balls I’ve ever seen,” he said with a chuckle. “If you were Saiyan, I’d tell the Prince to make you his mate as soon as this thing was over. Shit, I might even though you aren’t if you manage to kill Frieza.”
“I’m not really of a mind to marry, especially for politics, but I will admit to your Prince being not unattractive. I’m thinking he’s not inclined to get married anytime soon either. Very single minded.”
“I won’t disagree there. I’d better be on my way. Its late and if I fall behind in training tomorrow I’ll get my ass beat. Thanks for the drink. Its good by the way,” he said as he closed the door behind him.
Vegeta was awake. He heard Nappa leave his room and he was pretty sure he’d left the suite entirely. As he stared at the ceiling, he couldn’t help his mind looping back around to the future.
The future. A destiny he’d long thought had been taken from him along with everything else. For years his only thoughts, his only goal, had been to get strong enough to kill him once and for all. To give vengeance to his people. He’d thought that he was going to be heading into that fight soon, but suddenly everything had changed. In less than a week he’d gone from remnant of a dead race and slave of Frieza to trusted ally of a genius leader and Prince of thousands. Was this what it felt like to be free? He’d been so young and served for so long, that he wasn’t sure.
And that brought up the other half of his thoughts. His people. They weren’t gone. Diminished, but enough left to rebuild. Hidden in little enclaves, waiting for - did they even know he was alive? He wasn’t sure if he wanted them to or not.
Bardock had done the impossible. Not only were his people alive, but their culture was too. Raditz had said all sorts of people had been included in the exodus. He wondered if the food they had was all native to Vegetasai.
He normally didn’t think much of culture and history, but as a leader he had to give it some consideration. It was strange to think about the preservation of their arts, but the sovereign was expected to also be a patron in some capacity. He also had a memory from when he was very young, barely out of his creche, of some kind of festival. There was dancing and music and fabric of all colors streaming in the air. The idea that it wasn’t lost made the corners of his eyes damp.
He decided that was enough rumination, and that if he wasn’t going to sleep, he should train instead. So he got up and headed to the workout room to run through drills until he wore himself out enough to rest.
The following morning, Vegeta knocked on the door of Bulma’s office, paused a moment, then let himself in.
“Prince Vegeta, perfect timing,” she said. “General Launch and Colonel Piccolo just got here. Pick an empty chair. Coffee?”
“Coffee? Is that the bitter smell making me want to bite my own nose off? You really drink that?”
“Yes. It helps us get started and keep up our energy. Especially for long sessions.”
“Fine. I will try it.”
“Put some sugar and milk in it. It tastes better that way,” she added as she poured a cup for him.
“I didn’t know you had a Namekian in your service,” Vegeta said indicating Piccolo as he added things as instructed to his drink.
“Its a long story, but he’s been a good ally. Colonel Piccolo is in charge of the ground forces. His insight has been incredibly valuable and helped us win many battles.” She gestured to the blonde woman at the table. “You recall General Launch? She is the leader of the Four Star Nation army as a whole. Now that introductions have been made, let’s get started.”
The planning went on for hours. It was about at the three hour mark, when Launch and Piccolo hit an impasse and started to argue loudly, that Bulma stepped in. “Please, please, let’s keep the volume down,” she said standing from her chair. “Prince Vegeta, do you have anything to add? Something that could break the stalemate?”
“I believe I do. For one thing, Frieza’s main fleet is a different composition and maintains different formations. Since most of his strongest are there, they use different tactics. He also likes to use overwhelming force to annihilate opponents. The harder they’re beaten the better.”
“What about keeping some in reserve?” Launch asked.
“Hmph,” Piccolo answered. “By what I’ve heard, Frieza doesn’t care about that. His men either live or die depending on how well they fight. If they should be beaten, he’ll just send in his elites to clean up.”
“The Namekian has the right idea. Everyone is expendable to Frieza. He may be minorly disappointed or inconvenienced if he should lose someone higher up, but he doesn’t actually care.” He looked each person at the table in the eye in turn. “Be very certain of this: Pain, suffering, fear, torture - these things are amusements to him. Your efforts so far have given him a black eye and he will take it personally. If you end up losing this war, my advice is to take your own lives before he has a chance.”
“Right,” Launch said. “What’s the best plan so we kick his ass instead?”
There it was, Planet Namek. Bulma looked over the wide view projected by the external pickups. It was smallish, but so very green. It looked like even the water took on a green hue under its bright suns. Her fleet had arrived before Frieza, but she doubted he was far behind. “General Launch, make sure all ships are switched to passive sensors and have their energy cloaks up.”
As the officer relayed the commands to the rest of the fleet, she looked over at Piccolo. “How does it feel to see your home?”
“Hmph. It was never my home, not really. Still. It could be interesting to see where Kami came from.”
“I take it you’re ready to head down and see if we can get a hold of the Dragon Balls first then?”
“I am. I picked a solid team for this mission. I’m sure they won’t let me down.”
“I heard you’re taking Gohan too. Did you ask his mother?”
“Yes and… Sort of.”
“Sort of? Chichi is a force of nature, and all you’ve got is ‘sort of’? You’re braver than I thought!” Bulma said with a grin.
“She’s going too. I didn’t want her to, its not her specialty, but she refused to allow Gohan to join the mission otherwise,” he said with a grumble. “I’ve tried to explain why its a bad idea,but you’re right, she is a force of nature and won’t be persuaded.”
“Her skills are very useful in a variety of situations. Don’t count her out just because she’s not a toe to toe fighter like the rest of you.”
Piccolo gave a “Hmph” in reply as he turned and walked out to the staging area.
Gohan was nervous. He’d been training with Piccolo for over a year and was now getting to go on his first mission. He was a little disappointed his mother was going too, but determined to prove she didn’t need to be there.
“Hey buddy,” Krillin said from next to him. “Don’t worry. We’re a team and together, we’re all gonna be fine.”
“I know Krillin. I’m just excited I guess. I know its serious, but I can’t help it.”
“Heh heh, that’s ok. Its a big milestone for you and that’s ok to be excited about. As long as your mind is on the mission when we land, its all good.”
“It will be. I promise. I want to do a good job and support the team. Who else is going with us?”
“Tien and Yamcha. Chiaotzu is still helping out elsewhere.”
“Ok listen up!” Piccolo yelled. “Our mission on Namek is to find the Dragon Balls, not to fight. We retrieve as many as we can before Frieza’s forces overtake the planet and keep them away from him. Ideally we’ll be able to gather them all, but we must recover at least one to succeed.
That said, it is possible that we could encounter resistance. Be on your guard. The soldiers travelling with the main fleet are the some of the strongest his forces have. If you are forced to fight, unless you are 200% sure you can win and keep fighting some more, fight until you can make an opening then run.”
“Why should we run from them? They can’t all be super strong.” Yamcha groused.
“Because that’s not our mission. Fighting them will only wear you down and make you slow. If you want to help slow them down, target their scouters. We’re here to keep ultimate power away from Frieza. The Saiyans are going to take the front line on this one.”
“Bunch of glory hogs. OW!”
“That’s my husband you’re bad mouthing there,” Chichi said from behind him. “He’s going to be facing way more danger so you don’t get yourselves turned into paste. Be at least a little grateful.”
“Alright, that’s settled. Do you final gear check and be in the pod, ready to drop, in 5 minutes.”
Vegeta sat quietly in the ready room off the hangar bay. He wondered who he’d face today down on that green planet. He secretly wished for a chance to wipe that pretty boy smirk off of Zarbon’s face, but he’d take whoever he could get his hands on. They all had offenses to pay for after all.
Was this what Sayian life was supposed to be like? Sitting with your comrades before a battle, boasting and challenging each other to outdo the rest? He’d seen so little of it before it was gone, but the bits he recalled didn’t seem to completely match with what he’d been told. Or perhaps this was new? Something created out of adversity to improve their chance for survival.
He shook his head slightly. Now was no time to think on that. He had blood to spill and assholes to kill. He looked at the equipment they’d been provided. New armor, the device that had replaced the scouter, and something he’d never even heard of before - field medicine.
Somehow they’d engineered an medicine that when ingested, healed the user and restored their energy, even from the brink of death. Unfortunately, it was difficult to make and so each person only got one dose per mission.
The armor was better than what the Colds issued, and more comfortable too. The scouter, designated ‘PEEK’, was a technical accomplishment in its own right. It had no screen, no large shell over the ear. Instead there was a small metal loop that fit over the base of the ear and a small, soft plastic arm that swung up towards the eye. He’d been told that the sound came from the loop sending vibrations through the skull and into the ear. The arm’s end had a small projector that shone pinpoints of low-intensity light into the eye to create the picture.
It was a massive leap in terms of quality from even the newest model of scouter he’d last seen. The picture was in full color, the detail of the readings it produced was incredible, the reactivity of the sensors was amazing, and the clarity of the sound even over the roar of a fight was pristine.
Combined with all the extra training they’d gotten in during the long journey and completely full stomachs for over a week, not to mention Kakarot and Raditz, this squad of Saiyans was going to be a rival for even the Ginyu Force.
The screen on the wall blinked to life. “General Launch to Prince Vegeta. Frieza’s fleet has arrived in system. Be ready to drop.”
“Acknowledged,” he said without moving from his spot.
“3, 2, 1, drop,” said the computer voice.
Everyone in the pod was used to flying under their own power, but the shift into freefall was something entirely different. Krillin looked at everyone else’s faces as the gravity of Planet Namek pulled them towards it. Gohan still looked as excited as a kid going to their first theme park, even as the ship started to shake with the turbulence of hitting the upper atmosphere.
He checked the status screen next to the door, and saw the readout that proclaimed Frieza’s fleet had just arrived in the system. “Guys. Just so you know, the party’s about ready to start.”
The rest looked to the screen. “It doesn’t change our mission,” Piccolo said. “Just tells us we need to get moving as soon as we hit dirt.”
“Hey Piccolo,” Yamcha said, “this is where you’re kind of from right?”
“So there’s probably more people down there. We should tell them what’s happening and give them a chance to get away.”
“Hmm. Yes. Keep it short, but we should try to get civilians out of the way. I know it’ll be difficult, but no matter what our priority is keeping the Dragon Balls away from Frieza. Even if that means those people die. We can wish them back after it’s all over if we win.”
“Right,” Chichi said. “As long as we do our job, their deaths can be temporary. Gohan, make sure you remember that ok?”
The pod began to shake more violently as they proceeded into the denser part of the lower atmosphere. The screen changed to a timer display, showing a thirty second countdown as the braking engines roared to life.
The five Saiyans stood in the hangar bay, looking down at Planet Namek through the two way shield that held in the air as they watched Frieza’s main ship head down through the atmosphere to land.
“What’s the plan Vegeta? Take em head on?” Nappa asked.
“No. While I admit we have surprise on our side for the moment, even with the five of us, barreling headlong into that will probably get us killed. We need to catch the elites out away from the ship so we don’t end up with Frieza in the mix too. Dodoria, Zarbon, and Cui are the ones I’d expect to be here already. I’m sure the Ginyu Force is on call if things start going badly.”
“There’s more than four soldiers on that ship.”
“Yes, but I don’t doubt we can handle the rest of them easily enough.”
“I wanna get my hands on that ugly purple asshole Cui so bad,” Okara said.
“If he shows up he’s yours. We’ll head down to that rocky area there,” he said as he pointed to the planet. “We’ll have to be careful to keep our powers low until we can jam or destroy their scouters. I’ll put in an appearance at the ship, which I’m sure will have at least one of the elites sent out to chase me down. I’ll lead them back to the group and we’ll fight it out.”
“Why you Vegeta?” Goku asked.
“Because Frieza took pride in having him as a servant. So it’ll piss him off to see his lost toy turning up and taunting him,” Raditz explained. “He’ll throw a tantrum and send a top errand boy to fetch ‘his prince’ back. He’s very predictable.”
“Yes, he is predictable. And we’re going to take full advantage of it,” Vegeta said with a sneer.
General Launch cut in over the bay speaker. “The enemy flagship has started deploying troops on the surface. The fleet is in position. Saiyan Force, you have a go for drop. All ships, fire full missile assault!”
“Everyone good with their Ki bubbles?” Raditz asked. “It might be bumpy out there while we’re trying to be low profile.”
The rest of the group indicated the affirmative as they all pulled their energy around themselves and then stepped off the deck into the void, flying down to Namek, as the weapons of their fleet impacted on the Cold ships that had stayed in space.
“Lady Bulma, their fleet is in position,” the General Launch said.
“Tell the Saiyans they can go as soon as we fire. Then light them up.”
The General moved to her console. “The enemy flagship has started deploying troops on the surface. The fleet is in position. Saiyan Force, you have a go for drop. All ships, fire full missile assault!”
A moment later, the outside view showed a large wave of missiles, each tipped with an antimatter warhead, streak across the black gulf. The pinpoints of their drives fading from view a few seconds before explosions bloomed across the enemy ships.
“Three ships destroyed, five with heavy damage, and four with significant damage,” a crewman called out. “Ten undamaged ships remain, including their heavy cruisers. All with engines online are moving to intercept.”
“Ready the gravity shield,” Bulma said. “In the meantime, let’s send some more goodies over.”
“Generator volley is ready ma’am.”
Bulma grinned wickedly. This idea had come to her not long ago, and if it worked as well as her tests, the Cold Empire soldiers were in for a nasty shock. “Fire.”
Missiles once again raced to meet the enemy, but instead of fiery destruction, hundreds of tiny little machines spread out and anchored themselves to the hulls before activating their gravity generators. In little pockets all over, the enemy was now finding the gravity fluctuating wildly. She wished she could see their reactions.
“Damaged ship just exploded ma’am!” the crewman said. “Engine containment was breached, likely due to gravity flux.”
“Time to beam range?”
“Bring up the rail guns!” Launch said. At Bulma’s glance she continued. “They’re not closing to beam range. They’re closing to melee. Projectiles don’t have to kill if they can tear holes in their suits. Raditz’s envelope trick isn’t common knowledge.”
She nodded and turned back to her own console. “All Free Space Combat squads, enemy is closing the range to melee. Deploy immediately!”
The retrieval team had in fact hit the ground running. In order to cover their tracks and keep their powers low, they’d taken to running and leaping across the landscape. The radar they had lead them to a small village a few miles from their landing site.
They wasted no time in speaking to the elder there, explaining their reason for coming. Chichi secured the Dragon Ball itself while the others informed the villagers of who else had landed and that they should try to get as many as people as possible, and their Dragon Balls, away from their villages in case the next visitors weren’t as friendly.
“So here’s an interesting twist,” Chichi said as she returned, holding the Dragon Ball. “These things are huge.”
“Hm,” Tien said, “that might fit in the bag, but it’ll be the only one in it.”
“Well it’s a good thing there’s more than one bag then isn’t it?” At the look she got from him she added, “What? You think I’m going to drop with only ONE carry bag?”
“Mom usually has all kinds of bags inside other bags,” Gohan added.
“Exactly,” she replied, taking a sack out from her waist pack and tucking the ball in it, before looping the handle over her wrist. “There. One down.”
“Enough chit chat. We’ve got one, now to lengthen our lead,” Piccolo said. “The fleet is fighting, the Saiyans are on their way down and a bunch of Frieza’s soldiers are searching right now. Let’s keep moving.”
“Vegeta. I wondered where you’d gone,” Frieza replied. “Are you with the rest of those pathetic creatures trying to resist me? That does look like their uniform.”
Vegeta smirked. “I’m here for the same thing you are. They were simply a means to an end.”
“I see. Are you helping in the search or taking them for yourself?”
“What do you think?”
“I think you’re in over your head little monkey. Cui! Dodoria! Bring him to me, alive. I still want to have some fun.”
“As you command Lord Frieza!” Dodoria cried as they both leapt into the air.
Vegeta turned and led them away from the ship, keeping a bit of distance between them, but not so much that they realized how much faster he’d become, before landing in front of the rocks they’d picked out earlier.
“What’s his power level Cui?” Dodoria asked.
“Hmm. 19,000. Bit of an improvement. Still not enough though. Especially not against the two of us.”
“Are you sure?” Nappa asked stepping out from the rocks.
“Are you really sure?” Okara said smoothly as she too appeared.
“They don’t look too sure,” Raditz said from behind them.
“No they sure don’t,” Goku added.
The two in the middle pointed their scouters at the group one by one. “That’s impossible!” Dodoria cried. “The scouters didn’t pick you up at all! And now its saying your power levels are barely over 1000!”
“Yes Dodoria. Turns out there are new things to learn in this galaxy. Today, you and Cui get to learn all about pain.”
Between Vegeta and Nappa, Dodoria was short work, and ended up nothing more than a bad memory.
Cui had tried to bargain with Okara, bribe her with power and freedom. She laughed in his face and told him she already had freedom before she locked her hands around his throat and strangled him to death. The delight she took in doing it made everyone decide not to ask why she hated him so much.
“Whew,” Yamcha said, “that’s three now. And we still haven’t seen any of Frieza’s troops!”
“Don’t be complacent,” Chichi chided, her eyes scanning the area. “They aren’t that far away.”
“I can’t sense anyone…”
“I can. Part of my training is to have very sensitive ki detection. I can spot insects from 100 yards when I’m focused.”
“Piccolo? What’s wrong?”
“She’s right. Once I focused in, I could tell they aren’t far. They’re going away from us, but that doesn’t mean much. I don’t think our luck is going to hold out much longer, so be ready. Gohan, Krillin. Take the balls we’ve collected and hide them here,” he said, sending a map image to their PEEKs. “They’re too big to carry around like this and it makes us easier targets. Stay out of sight and guard that spot. We’ll bring the rest we find back there too.”
“Yes sir Mr Piccolo!”
Chichi opened her mouth to protest, but Piccolo cut her off quietly. “I know Chichi, but we need your ki sense more. They’ll be safer than us.”
She turned to her son and crouched. “Be careful Gohan. No matter what happens, mommy loves you and will always be proud of you ok? Daddy too.”
“I know mom. You be careful too.”
“So how do we lure out Zarbon?” Okara asked. “If you appear again, Frieza will know something’s up.”
“Which might not be a bad thing,” Nappa added. “If he thinks you beat Dodoria, Frieza might think he was careless again and send Zarbon to clean up.”
“Or he might decide to fight Vegeta himself since he’s shaping up to be a threat.”
“I’m not a threat to him yet. Not really. Annoying yes, a threat no,” Vegeta said.
“So what’s the plan then?” Goku asked.
“Lets annoy him some more. He’s got soldiers looking for the weapon, we should make sure they don’t find it before our team does. If that means they don’t report back, all the better.”
Raditz chuckled. “I get it. Piss him off so he can’t see straight and he’ll sic Zarbon on us to get things back on track without a second thought.”
Vegeta nodded and they headed off, tracking down the nearest squad of soldiers they could sense.
“Damage report!” Launch shouted as the ship rocked again.
“Hull breach on lower decks, containment fields are holding. Fire on deck 7, suppression systems offline. Shields are back up. Targeting is rebooting. Engines are offline, but engineering is reporting they’ll back soon. Weapons are still powered.”
“How’s the rest of our fleet?” Bulma asked.
“Two losses with escape pods away, three with heavy damage, five with moderate damage, twelve report no damage.”
“They’re making progress against the enemy, losses minimal so far, but they’re starting to wear out,” General Launch answered. “We need to take out more of their ships to reduce their weapons. They don’t care about firing through their own men to hit us.”
“As soon as engine power is back online...,” Bulma stated. “This shit is starting to piss me off.”
They stood in the ruins of a Namekian village, Cold empire soldiers laying around them. The Saiyans arrived just after the others had started tearing the place apart. Fortunately, the natives had already left, so the only bodies were those of the enemy.
“Search team must have put the word out,” Raditz said.
“Good,” Goku replied. “I’d hate to think what they’d do if people were still here.”
“A massacre is what,” Nappa commented sourly.
“Let’s go find some more. Kakarot, where to next?”
Goku narrowed his eyes and peered into the distance. “That way. There’s a group not too far.”
As they headed the indicated direction, Raditz spoke up. “Maybe we should let one get away? We pretty much destroyed those guys the minute we showed up, so if one ‘escaped’ they could tell Frieza about the team messing up his search.”
“Hmm. Agreed,” Vegeta mumbled. “Make sure you all talk about how we took out a bunch of their comrades when we arrive too.”
They arrived to the next village and squad of soldiers a few minutes later. The squad leader looked them over as they landed.
“You guys with that other group? The ones who destroyed our scouters but were too scared to fight?” the grey alien said.
“We’re on the same side, but we already took out a bunch of other guys in the last village we were at,” Goku replied.
“Yeah it wasn’t hard either,” Raditz drawled. “You think you can take us?”
“A bunch of nobodies like you? Hell yeah we can. Get em boys!”
They all dove into the fight, but the Saiyan Force once again proved to be an overwhelming opponent to Frieza’s grunts. As planned, one was allowed to escape, but not before attempting to chase him down.
“That should do it I think,” Vegeta said.
“I hope so,” Okara said. “I can’t wait to mess up that pretty boy’s face.”
“I want first crack at him,” Nappa said. “I might not be able to win, but I owe that fucker.”
“Yeah, me too,” Raditz added.
“We’ve all been insulted by that little bitch, except Kakarot,” Vegeta replied. “We’ll tear him apart so we all get a piece.”
“Sire! There’s a group of the enemy out there, wiping out search teams! We tried to fight them, but they killed everyone else.”
“Why are you here then?” Frieza asked. “If they killed everyone shouldn’t you be dead too?”
“I… Sire I wanted to warn you. I think Prince Vegeta was leading them!”
“I suppose that means Dodoria and Cui are dead then,” Zarbon said.
“Probably so. How annoying. Now he’s trying to take my Dragon Balls,” he said looking at the two orbs at his feet. “Zarbon. Put an end to this and bring me Vegeta.”
“Dead or alive Lord Frieza?”
“Preferably alive, but do what you must to end this little game of his.”
“And the others with him?”
“Kill them all. Oh and if they happen to be Saiyan, bring back their tails.”
“As you command.”
“Big power on the move,” Chichi said. “I think its one of the elites. Two of the other high powers went out a little while ago after spiking. I felt the Saiyans around then too.”
“Must have taken out a couple of the top guys then,” Tien said.
“All right! We’ve got a real chance here!” Yamcha said. “If they can take out Frieza’s generals, they’ll be able to beat him too.”
“I wouldn’t count on it just yet,” Chichi answered. “I can see Frieza’s power. It goes down deep, like a well.”
“You don’t think they can win?” Piccolo asked.
“I think that its going to be a very difficult battle, and win or lose, I don’t think they’ll all make it back alive. I’m going to run this ball back to the drop point. I’ll catch up as soon as I can,” she said soberly.
“Here he comes,” Okara said.
“He feels really strong,” Goku said.
“He is. He’s pretty much only weaker than Captain Ginyu and Frieza himself.”
“Well well, Prince Vegeta. I missed your first appearance at the ship. I wasn’t sure if there had been a mistake. You monkeys all tend to look alike after all,” Zarbon said as he landed. He looked around at the stoic faces of the Saiyans around him. “Oh? Nothing to say? Come now, its been a while since we’ve seen each other. You must have something on your mind.”
“You stink,” Nappa said finally.
“I said, you stink.”
“Filthy creature! How dare you???” he shouted and charged to attack.
Nappa blocked his wild swings with ease, but could feel the power behind them. He knew he couldn’t win, at least not alone, but he’d be able to put some hurt on him before trading out. The big man waited for an opening then landed a heavy knee straight into Zarbon’s side, barely missing his solar plexus.
Zarbon answered with a blast to his chest, enough to break away and recenter before closing with Nappa again. A blinding flurry of punches and kicks were traded between them, then Nappa was able to trap his opponent’s arms and headbutt him three times before using a mouth blast on his face. The force ripped Zarbon from the big Saiyan’s grip, but the damage was done. Zarbon hung in the air, breathing heavily, bleeding from cuts on his face and limbs.
“You disgusting, ugly, beast! You’ve wounded my lovely face!”
“Yeah yeah. Whine some more. Your feather-filled punching bag doesn't cut it. Real warriors have bigger concerns.”
“I didn’t want to have to do this, but if that’s what it takes to kill you, then so be it! Arrh!!!” With a whipping of energy around him, his body began to bulge and his face stretch. After a few moments, Zarbon stood in a new form. Bigger in both size and power.
“You’re still smaller than me shrimp,” Nappa said with a laugh as Zarbon charged him again.
This time however, Nappa’s disadvantage was much more clear. He was taking more hits than he was giving and starting to slow down. He saw the blow coming, but he knew his body wasn’t going to get there fast enough to block it. Then Zarbon went flying to the side as Raditz impacted with a kick to his ribs. He nodded at Nappa and surged after the green man as he slammed into a rock face.
“Play time’s over asshole!” he said as he waited for Zarbon to appear. He didn’t have to wait long as the debris exploded out from the impact site, showering pebbles and stones onto the green grass.
“That was cheating!”
“Says the biggest cheat of all. You think I don’t know how many times you rigged shit? Feelings like glass.”
“I’m going to skin you alive and bring it back to Frieza for a rug!” Zarbon roared, unleashing a wave of energy blasts at Raditz, who danced out of the way with ease. However Zarbon followed up by charging towards the Saiyan, expecting to catch him off guard.
“I can’t help that my hair is better. I was just born that way. Saturday Crush!” he shouted, as his hands filled with energy and then slammed together on the sides of Zarbon’s head.
He grabbed his head and fell back screaming in pain. Raditz quickly closed the distance, planting a foot in his midsection and then an elbow into the back of his neck, sending him screaming straight down into the ground with a boom.
Vegeta walked over to the crater and looked down at the creature trying to get up. “So Zarbon, what do you think of your last moments? Was it fun? I thought it was rather amusing myself.”
“I’ll kill you all…” he gasped.
“No. You’re much too weak to beat us. Just think, you’ve only faced two Saiyans today, and we have five.” He didn’t acknowledge the others coming up to the edge as well. “For your crimes against the Saiyan people, and being an accomplice in the attempted genocide of our species, as Prince I sentence you to death.”
“Attempted? There’s only five of you… That’s nothing. So what if you live another few decades? You’re lost anyway.”
“You’re wrong Zarbon. Your master failed. Take that to hell with you,” he said, before charging a blast and blowing him to vapor.
“I wish you wouldn’t kill them, Vegeta. He was beaten,” Goku said.
“If I’d left him alive, he would’ve gotten back to the ship, gotten in a regeneration tank, then come back again. We can’t afford that.”
“Trust me little brother,” Raditz said, “he was pure slime. He got off light compared to what he truly deserved.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“No one said you had to Kakarot. But know that none of Frieza’s men are innocent. They’re all killers and scum.”
“But… weren’t you all Frieza’s men too?”
“Then what?” Vegeta asked, looking back at Goku to see his gaze was turned to the sky. He frowned. “What is it?”
“Feel for it. Its huge and dark.”
“Shit. He really did it. He called the fucking Ginyu Force.”
“Damn. Never thought I’d see those guys in person,” Okara said. “Not to be a coward, but I’m not sure I want to either.”
“No one wants to see the Ginyu Force. They’re a bunch of assholes who only spell trouble,” Nappa said.
“Alright,” Vegeta began, “this is what we’ve training for all this time. We’re going to beat those assholes, and then we’re going to kill Frieza. I’m giving you an order: Do not die.”
“Damn right!” Raditz said. “Zarbon was tougher than some of those guys. We kicked his ass. We can kick theirs too. We’re all still standing and fighting. Let’s show them what Saiyans are really made of!”
“Ah! Damn it!”
“Piccolo what’s wrong?” Yamcha asked. “Oh wait… I feel it too. Wow! That’s huge!”
“Yeah. This isn’t good.”
“But, didn’t you get like way stronger by merging with that Namekian warrior we found? The one who was dying?”
“Yeah, but this is still much stronger. Hopefully the Saiyans will be able to keep them away from us. I don’t know if we’d have much of a chance otherwise.” He tapped his PEEK. “ChiChi. Where are you?”
Her voice came back over the comm in a whisper. “I’m scouting. Frieza’s men have collected two of the Dragon Balls. They’re sitting right outside his ship.”
“Are you insane??? What are you doing that close?”
“Gathering information. That’s what I do Piccolo. Now, don’t scream like that anymore. Unless you want me to get caught.”
“I’m tempted,” he snorted. “Fine. You’ve gathered enough information, now get out of there.”
“Alright, I’m going.”
The Saiyan Force watched as the five members of the Ginyu Force landed in front of them. Then watched as they introduced themselves with their ridiculous poses.
“Rings and moon! I hate these idiots,” Nappa said. “They make real fighters look bad.”
The rest nodded in agreement.
“So these are the Saiyans causing trouble for Lord Frieza?” Jeice asked. “Thought you lot were all dead.”
“You couldn’t be so lucky, popsicle,” Raditz said.
“What’s a popsicle?”
“Who cares?” Guldo asked. “Let’s just kill them and get it over with.”
“You want to start the party, dumpling?”
“Sure monkey. I’ll take care of you myself.” He vanished from where was standing, and the fight was on. Raditz did his best, but couldn’t figure out what was happening to make the little being so fast. Vegeta figured it out while watching though. He closed his eyes and listened, then struck with his own true speed. Guldo’s head rolled from his body and he was finished.
“Captain, they killed Guldo!” Jeice cried.
“So it seems,” Ginyu growled. “Lord Frieza needs me on another errand right now, though. Seems someone managed to steal the Dragon Balls that were collected at the ship. He wants me to find them while you take care of this bunch.”
“I’m confident you guys can handle these losers. Call me when they’re dead, then we’ll meet up and find the rest of the orbs.”
“Yes sir!” they all replied in unison as the Captain took off.
“Burter, you ready mate? Let’s show these guys not to mess with the Ginyu Force,” Jeice said.
“Yeah. I’m the fastest in the galaxy, boys! You won’t win.”
“We’ll see about that,” Goku replied. “I think its my turn.”
“Yeah sure,” Jeice said. “Aren’t tailless Saiyans supposed to be weak and a disgrace? If you’re in a hurry to die, I guess we can do that.”
Goku just quirked a smile, and rushed in to attack Burter. When Jeice moved to double team him, Okara jumped in to take him on and their fight didn’t last long. After a series of punches, kicks, and Ki blasts were traded, one that she simply flew through unaffected by, he tried to get behind her. Okara slipped her tail around his ankle and pummeled him while he dangled from her grasp. “So much for being the best,” she said as she threw him to the ground and sending energy blasts to join him.
“You haven’t seen my best yet!” he said as he jumped back into the air.
“Oh I think I have,” she said, as she met him halfway, sinking her fist into his gut before letting go with a full force blast. “Cosmic Bust!”
Goku had finished off Burter, beating his speed and breaking his back by throwing him towards the ground, then landing and punching up into him.
“You may have beat the others, but you won’t beat Recoome!”
“Oh I think we will,” Nappa said. “I think we’re all gonna kill you right about now.”
Recoome however, was a much tougher opponent than expected. His strength wasn’t so much greater, but his ability to take damage and not miss a step was incredible. They laid into him with everything they had, but even all together, were finding it difficult to overcome.
“This is gonna take all day at this rate!” Nappa said. “We’ve gotta do more damage!”
“Kaio-ken!” Raditz and Goku screamed as their auras turned red. The rest of the team felt the two’s power levels rise dramatically as they renewed their attack on the larger man. This time however, it was clear that the other two Saiyans’ blows were more effective against their opponent.
Recoome wasn’t beaten yet though. “Eraser gun!” he shouted suddenly, letting loose a massive blast from his mouth. The rest of the team dodged out of the way, but Goku took the hit full force, flying backwards and crashing into the ground a little ways away. His armor had a hole punched through it and his chest under it didn’t look in good shape. “Ha! One down. Who’s next?”
The remaining part of the team redoubled their efforts, with Raditz and Vegeta leading the way. Vegeta called in Saiyago, “Nappa, Okara, keep him busy on the ground. Raditz with me,” then headed up. Raditz followed wondering what they were doing. “Power up your biggest attack.”
“Got it. Let’s see if little brother’s lessons pay off. Ka-ma-ha-ma…”
Nappa and Okara suddenly sprung back, breaking off their attack, which left Recoome confused for a moment, until he saw the twin beams of pure energy bearing down on him. They slammed him into the ground, but the two warriors above didn’t stop pumping more energy onto the giant. He bellowed from below, and slowly emerged, pushing back against the punishing blast, before it finally dissipated.
“Ho ho ho…” Recoome said. “That was strong. Not strong enough, but strong. Look! You loosened some of my teeth! Recoome Ultra Buster!” he said as he began to power up.
Suddenly Goku appeared in front of him and drove his elbow into his gut. “That’s enough,” he said as Recoome gasped and fell over, finally out of the fight.
“Holy shit!” Nappa said. “I thought you were all but dead! How?”
“I took my S-Pod. Good as new!”
“Near death, then fully restored… with a huge power jump. Wow,” Okara remarked. “That stuff is the real thing.”
“Enough chatter,” Vegeta cut in. “We need to get Captain Ginyu, then we can face Frieza. If we don’t get to him before the battle in orbit is done, they’ll be able to escape. Or worse, they’ll find the weapon!”
The retrieval team had had one hell of a day. They’d tracked down the Dragon Balls, and through Chichi’s daring theft, had recovered six. They’d met the leader of the Namekians and had their latent powers unlocked. They’d been assigned a guide, Dende, who was also a very good healer. They’d fought soldiers, rescued people, and generally gone above and beyond the call of duty. Now they had one Dragon Ball left to find, but with the large and evil power moving through the skies, they all could say they were nervous about going after it.
“We could just take the ones we have and go,” Tien said. “All the people are hiding out, so even if they destroy every village, it won’t be a bloodbath. And they won’t be able to make a wish.”
“True. But we can’t leave yet. Not until Frieza is dealt with or leaves. If he suspects that they’ve been moved off-planet, he’ll go after the ships and they won’t be able to stop him,” Piccolo said solemnly.
“That doesn’t mean we have to find the last one.”
“No,” Chichi said, “but it also means we can’t make a wish either. After being that close to Frieza, I’ll bet we end up needing it before this is over.”
“I’ll leave it you all. Do we go after it or guard what we’ve got?”
They looked at each other, silently coming to a decision. “Let’s go,” Krillin said.
The Saiyan Force was streaking through the sky, racing to catch up to Ginyu, who they could feel was getting close to the retrieval team. They could only hope they weren’t too late.
Piccolo’s team was visiting a hiding spot they found in a small crevasse between two cliffs, speaking to the people there and getting the location of the final Dragon Ball.
“He’s here,” Chichi said suddenly. A moment later, the dark purple being known as Captain Ginyu landed in the open area just outside the crevasse.
“Damn,” Yamcha said.
“The others are on their way, so we’ll have to keep him occupied.”
“Occupied? Are you out of your mind? We can’t beat that guy!”
“She’s right,” Gohan said. “If he comes in here, he’ll start killing these people.”
“That’s not what I’m concerned with, Gohan,” she replied with steel in her voice. “We have to keep him here so the others can fight him without having to chase him all over the planet first. I’m pretty sure after this guy, they can go after Frieza himself.” She walked out of the crevasse before the others could stop her to stand in front of the large alien. “Can I help you?”
“You’re not Namekian. You’re with those other people right?”
“So what if I am?” she said in her best ‘mom’ voice and planting her hands on her hips. “I don’t think you belong here either.”
“I was told to get Dragon Balls. You don’t happen to know where they are do you?”
“No I do not! Why would I know anything about the private parts of a dragon?!? Disgusting! You pervert!”
“What? Me? You’re the one making assumptions!” He balled his fist and bared his teeth. “How dare you insult Captain Ginyu!”
“Captain Ginsu? What kind of a name is that for a grown man?”
“Grrrrrr… I’m gonna smack that sass right outta you lady!”
“Leave my wife alone, you jerk!” Goku cried as he dropped from above. “If you wanna fight, you can fight us.”
The five Saiyans landed on the dirt as Ginyu turned to face them and Chichi slipped back in among the rocks.
“I guess you managed to beat my men. I’ll make you pay for that. You won’t beat me.”
“You’re right Ginyu,” Vegeta said with a smirk, “we won’t beat you, we’re going to kill you. Just like the rest of your idiots.”
“I’m gonna kill you last so I can take my time,” he said to Vegeta before launching himself at Goku.
The rest settled in to watch as the fight raged around them. Goku matching Ginyu blow for blow, neither one seeming to tire or take damage. Energy blasts shook the ground and split the sky, but they both continued full force. They finally broke apart, hanging in the air a several feet from each other, breathing heavily.
“You’re good,” Goku said.
“I’ll admit, you’re not bad. In fact, I think you have a lot of potential.”
“Thanks. Sure you won’t change your mind about which side you want to be on?”
“Heh heh… Maybe. But then, why not do both?” he asked as he stuck his hand into his own chest.
“What?? What are you doing?”
“CHAAANNNGGGE… NOOOOWWWWW!” Ginyu cried as white energy spilled out of his body, heading towards Goku.
“Shit! No! Kakarot MOVE!! He’s trying to steal your body!” Vegeta cried. He’d heard about this, but until he saw it, he’d forgotten Ginyu was supposed to be able to body swap.
“What?” He was bewildered by the bright light and couldn’t seem to look away, even though he wanted to.
Suddenly the light was gone. Ginyu’s body dropped from the sky, and landed on all fours, attempting to hop away. “Rrbbt,” it said.
Chichi appeared as Goku landed, still looking confused. “That was a dirty trick Captain Ginsu,” she said, scooping up a big green frog-like creature in her hand. The ‘frog’ croaked miserably.
“How did he become a frog?” Vegeta asked.
“I saw the light, heard what you said, and when I saw this frog near me, the rest was easy. I threw it into the beam and here we are.”
“Kakarot, this is your mate?”
“Yup! Sure is! Chichi’s the best,” he said, giving her a big hug. He then saw the others over her shoulder. “Gohan! Guys! How’s it going out here? Did you find them?”
“Yeah. Mission accomplished, so far,” Piccolo said. “Now its time for you guys to wrap this up.”
“Are these more of our allies?” Okara said, eyeing them up. “Don’t look like much.”
“We’re plenty enough,” Yamcha replied, crossing his arms.
“Whatever.” Her eyes took in Gohan. “You’ve got a tail…”
“Yeah. Goku’s my dad.”
“You could breed with your mate’s species, Kakarot?” She turned back to Gohan. “Are you strong, boy?”
“Yes ma’am. My dad, Uncle Raditz, and Mr Piccolo say I’m getting stronger all the time.”
“Amazing. I’d always been told that even if we could breed with other species that the children would be weak and deformed.”
“Hmph. Now is no time to get sentimental Okara,” Vegeta said. “We have a tyrant to kill.”
“Yeah. About that,” Raditz said pointing to the distance. “I don’t think we have to hurry.”
The mixed group looked up to see a small dark speck in the distance, growing closer at amazing speed.
“Everyone who’s not a full Saiyan, get the hell out of here!” Piccolo cried. “MOVE!”
The Saiyan Force stood their ground on the ledge of rock, Vegeta in the center, with Raditz and Nappa on either side, then Goku next to his brother, and Okara on the other end.
Frieza landed in front of them. “My my. So this is the little band that’s been causing all these problems for me today. One, two, three, four, five little monkeys who think they can just take what belongs to me.”
“The weapon will never be yours Frieza.”
“Weapon? Is that what they told you? No no, my dear boy, the Dragon Balls are much more than a weapon. They can grant a wish. Anything you want. I’m going to wish for immortality, then I can rule my empire forever.” He looked at Vegeta’s expression of mostly concealed confusion before continuing. “You were always my favorite, Vegeta. If you get me the Dragon Balls now, all will be forgiven. I’ll even let you make a wish on them.”
“What kind of wish?”
“Anything you want. Within reason of course.”
“Could I bring back our planet? Restore our home?”
“Perhaps. But why do you need it? You’re so much stronger and better than any of them ever could be.”
“All I have to do is get them and let you have your wish?”
“Yes Vegeta. That’s all.”
“Vegeta,” Goku began. “Don’t… You’re our ally. Our friend.”
“Shut up Kakarot. Frieza. I was right about you. Under all the arrogance and posturing, you’re really a coward. You’ve never had to face anyone who was a match for you, and you were so afraid of Saiyan potential, you committed genocide to prevent being challenged.” He smirked as the tyrant’s face contorted in rage. “You’ve been handed everything your entire life. Never working, never suffering, never sacrificing. Even these Dragon Balls are another shortcut. It all ends today, Frieza. I hope you like this planet, because its the last one you’ll see.”
“We’ll see about that!!!” Frieza screamed, raising his power and transforming. He first grew larger, with his horns lengthening, then his muscles swelled even more, and his head elongated into a strange shape. Lastly he shrunk in size, compacting into a sleek form, not much larger than Vegeta, deadly in its simplicity. “I’m not wasting any more of my time with you monkeys! I free myself of all constraints! Behold my final form and despair at the coming of your death!”
Vegeta shot forward, raining down blows like a hailstorm, and while Frieza managed to block most of them, the ones that connected were solid hits. Then Frieza starting hitting back. Vegeta blocked many of the impacts, but ultimately wasn’t able to stand up to the assault. After a savage kick, the prince was sent flying into a mountainside. The others rushed in to stop the tyrant from follow Vegeta and give their ally a chance to recover.
Vegeta pulled himself from the rocks. Or tried to. He couldn’t see out of one eye, even though he knew it was open, several of his ribs were shattered, and he was pretty sure if his knee wasn’t dislocated, the tendons around it were shredded. He suddenly coughed and a gout of bright blood landed on the ground. Add a punctured lung. Time to test this S-pod medicine for himself. His nearly numb hand managed to fumble it out of the little pouch and get it to his mouth.
“You are no match for the mighty Frieza!” he said as the other four Saiyans pummeled him. “Are you actually trying? It doesn’t seem like it.”
“Try this!” Vegeta roared as he flew back into the fight, returning the kick that had sent him flying. “Thanks for that last kick. It was just enough to give me a boost when I healed.”
“How??? It doesn’t matter. You’re still dead!”
They traded blows, and it was evident that Vegeta’s power had indeed grown in the few minutes he was away. However, it still wasn’t enough. Frieza managed to hold off the others while he grabbed a further wounded Vegeta by the neck in his massive tail, and punched him repeatedly in the back, enjoying his cries of pain.
“My my. It really is too bad it’s come to this Vegeta. I had high hopes for you. But in the end, you’re still just a monkey.” He extended his tail away, raising his hand for the kill, but before the blow fell, a blast of heat and metal sliced down from above, ripping and searing through the appendage, causing the prince to be dropped as the severed part went limp.
Art by Ash0 at the end
“General Launch, the Saiyan Force has started to engage Frieza.”
“Put the view up on the secondary screen,” she replied. One of their recon drones, hovering soundlessly about four kilometers from the surface, had its camera trained on the fight. “Looks like they’ve got a chance at this.”
“Seems so,” Lady Bulma as she spared some of her attention for the conflict on the surface, before turning back to the enemy ships.
A few minutes later however, things changed. “Shit!”
“Frieza’s beating the shit out of the prince’s kidneys.”
Bulma’s face turned stony. “General Launch. Do you have a shot?”
“Seriously? If he decides to retaliate…”
“I am aware. However I also believe that he and Goku are the best chance of victory. Do you have a shot?
She turned to her console, taking out a gadget that had the look of a gun with no barrel or firing pieces and a trailing cable on the stock. “I will make a shot.”
“I’ve linked number 4 to your terminal,” Bulma said.
The General plugged the cable into the console and a holographic rifle sparked to life in the frame. As she sighted into the scope, the view changed from the ship’s interior to Namek, looking down from above. She took a deep breath, rested her elbow carefully on the top of her station, steadied her aim from the rocking of the ship, exhaled, then squeezed the trigger.
The railgun spat out its 100 gram osmium slug, twice as dense as lead and superheated, at ten times the speed of sound, racing towards Namek.
“Direct hit ma’am!” a crewman shouted a few seconds later.
“Amazing aim as always General Launch.” Bulma quirked her lips as she recalibrated the railgun for ship combat again, while Launch’s frame dimmed and was set aside.
“Here’s hoping we don’t all end up dead because of it.”
“If that’s not a strong enough sign that I truly consider us allies, I don’t know what else I can do.”
“You could marry him,” Launch said with a grin.
Frieza lashed the remaining portion of his tail furiously before shrieking in rage. “HOW DARE THEY!!! You think your pathetic little toys are a match for ME?” He raised his palm to the sky, focusing beyond the atmosphere, gathering a Ki blast big enough to burn the entire fleet. Before he could complete his attack however, Nappa jumped in and grabbed him by the throat.
“Enough of this you piece of shit!” he cried before letting a mighty gout of energy pour from his mouth into Frieza’s face, throwing him to the ground. “DIE YOU MONSTER! You killed almost everyone I’ve ever known! My family is gone because of you!” He punctuated each cry with a punch to the tyrant’s face, followed by dozens more. Frieza was beaten into the dirt by the assault before Nappa finally stepped back.
Frieza stood up smoothly, the only sign of the attack being a small trickle of blood from his nose. He said nothing, just pointed at Nappa and sent a pencil thin beam of light through his heart. The big man blinked owlishly a couple of times before falling to the ground.
“This is taking too long,” Frieza said. “Let’s change the game a bit.” He created a massive, pulsing dark ball of energy. Everyone braced for the attack, so were unprepared for him throwing it straight down into the planet’s surface. A few moments later, everything shook violently. “There. I think we’ve got about five minutes until the planet explodes. Oh don’t worry about me,” Frieza cooed, “my species can survive in space.”
“Engines up!” the pilot called.
“Excellent! Launch clear the FSC teams from in front of us,” Bulma ordered as she furiously worked the terminal projected through the holo-display from her gauntlet. “All ships, incoming program, do not attempt to override!”
“What the hell is this?” another crewman asked as her terminal flashed.
“Shit, I couldn’t even guess,” General Launch replied. “She’s got her ‘I’m a pissed-off genius’ face on so I’m guessing whatever is, their world is about to be fucked.”
“Power output at… 200%?!! Shields are failing, thrust is failing, weapons are over-charging.”
“Which ones crewman?”
“All of them General.”
They all looked up at their leader. Lady Bulma had a mad gleam in her eye, one that spoke of blood and death. “Are they clear, General?” she asked coldly.
“FSC teams clear of the bows ma’am.”
She stretched out her hand, the dark metal glove only a small physical symbol of her technological might and prowess. The holo-display still emanating from the palm glowed like a Ki strike, before every weapon in the fleet disgorged a fury of plasma and super-accelerated, superheated osmium slugs, targeting their two biggest ships.
The blast wave of their explosion rocked the ship, mitigated only by the automated rerouting of power to the shields after they fired. Bulma stood on the bridge, a statue in a storm as she watched them break up, lost atmosphere freezing and glittering in the dark as pieces of the structure, as well as bodies, drifted away.
“All ships reporting controls back online,” the crewman reported quietly. “Both heavy cruisers destroyed, collateral damage to at least four other ships. The amount of enemy melee combatants has been sizably reduced. Beam weapons offline, railguns on cool down.”
Bulma opened a channel to broadcast her image to the enemy. “You have sixty seconds to break off and leave. If you don’t we will fire again. Without your heavy cruisers to take the brunt of the damage, if there are any survivors, it will only be a lucky few. Do not test me, you will fail.” She turned to the crewman. “Put up a clock.”
The countdown was overlaid on a corner of the viewscreen while they watched for what the enemy would do.
“Thirty seconds. Missiles have armed.”
“Missiles at this range Bulma? Heh heh you’re crazier than me!” Launch exclaimed.
“Fifteen seconds. Railguns are coming back online, power output is climbing again, just passed 150%.”
Bulma was once again working with her holo-display as the clock counted down.
“Ten, nine, eight, - Enemy ships are breaking off!”
As they watched, the few remaining ships with functional engines had indeed begun to turn away from the battle, their melee combatants speeding away to catch up.
“As much as I’d like to say they saw it was better not to fuck with Bulma Briefs, I’m gonna guess the situation on Namek was at least a partial motivator,” Launch said, looking at a screen.
Bulma looked over to her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean the fight is on and its fucking huge. I’m not sure if anyone is trying to signal from down there, but if they are it’s probably being blocked by the insane amount of electromagnetic interference in the area.”
“Ki attacks don’t cause EM.” She adjusted her display to show Namek. “Oh no. I think the planet is going to explode; the core is exposed and destabilizing fast. Frieza must have decided to go out with a bang.”
Launch turned to her console. “All ships! Planet Namek is only a few minutes away from detonation. If you can’t get your engines online, get your people out however you can. If you’ve got power, launch evac boats.” She turned back to Bulma. “What about the people dirtside?”
“Working on it,” she said, going back to her display. “Comms, adjust the outputs to a carrier signal of 3200 gigahertz, then layer our normal signal into it at 320 terahertz. That should punch through the EM.”
“We’ve got to get out of here.”
“No shit,” Tien said to Yamcha dryly. “How? This interference is blocking the comms and the drop ship fell into a crack.”
“What are you guys panicking for? We have a set of Dragon Balls right in front of us. We can wish us and all the Namekians away from here. Heck we could wish the whole fleet home,” Chichi said.
A voice came from their comms. “Surface team! Do you read? Status report!”
Piccolo recapped the important details to General Launch, who then conferred with Lady Bulma. They decided that using a wish to evacuate Namek was the best solution with the timeframe they had. Chichi asked Dende how their Dragon Balls worked, and he said he would summon Porunga for them.
“I will not stand by in the presence of evil like this.” Everyone looked at Goku, his tone more serious than they’d ever heard. “This ends now Frieza. No one else will die because of you. All the suffering, the destruction, the pain, the fear. No more.”
“Oh? What will you do? You’re not powerful enough to beat me.”
“Alone he might not be, but together we are,” Vegeta said, standing up. An S-pod dropped from his hand. He looked to Nappa’s body. “Thank you.” Turning back to Frieza he continued. “I could list your crimes against just me, but that would take far too long. It's enough to know that it's finally going to be over. Monsters try to turn everyone around them into monsters too. For all the terrible things I’ve done, I can say that while I might be evil, I am not a monster. You failed to warp me. You failed to kill my people. And now you will finally die.”
“Raditz,” Goku said, “you guys should go.”
“I… Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Try to find the others and help them get out of here. We’ll be ok.”
“Alright. Come on Okara.”
Okara opened her mouth to protest, then shook her head and wished them luck. She scooped up Nappa’s body before following Raditz off into the distance.
Goku watched them for a moment before speaking. “Vegeta, have you ever heard of the Super Saiyan? Raditz said our dad told him the story.”
“Once I was told I was destined to become one, but I’d have no idea how.”
“The Super Saiyan?” Frieza said. “That stupid old fairy tale?”
Vegeta narrowed his eyes. “You believed it.”
“You believed that the legendary would appear and be able to beat you.”
“Nonsense!” He shouted as he dove for the pair.
The two Saiyans kept up a beautiful dance, switching off with ease to take advantage of Frieza’s weaknesses, dodging his attacks, and pressing their own advantage. The longer the fight continued, the angrier the tyrant became, frustrated at his inability to crush them as easily as he thought he should be able to. The planet under them seemed to reflect this as the skies darkened with dirt and ash thrown up from the heaving ground and erupting magma.
Over time however, the grueling battle took its toll and they started to falter. Unfortunately, it was Vegeta whose error cost him the most. He was too slow getting out of the way of Frieza’s attack, taking a number of blows fully, before being hurled to the ground. He slammed into the rock shelf below them, not able to move again. He berated himself for not having the forethought to take Okara and Raditz’s S-pods before they left.
In his dazed state, he saw Frieza land a few steps away from him. He wondered where Kakarot was. He saw the other being’s mouth moving, but the dull pounding in his skull kept him from hearing the words. Just as well. He was sick of hearing that asshole. Frieza pointed at him, and he felt a searing pain in his chest, like there was a fire under his ribs. He saw Kakarot finally. Good he wasn’t dead. But he did look enraged, which was not a word he’d ever thought he’d use for the other man.
Goku saw Vegeta hit the ground, and had tried desperately to keep Frieza away from him, but had been sent flying quite a long way for his efforts. He’d raced back to find him standing over the fallen prince, mocking him, and finally, before he could close the distance, sending another thin beam into his chest.
He landed on the edge of the rocks, feeling more enraged than he’d ever been in his life. It was white hot and his mind was a blur of emotion and drive to avenge Vegeta. His ally. His friend. “That was your last mistake Frieza,” he gasped. “No more!” he screamed, before throwing his head back in a primal roar.
Vegeta’s hearing had come back some, he guessed it had something to do with dying so pain wasn’t as important anymore. Kakarot sounded like an oozaru with that roar. As he watched, too entranced to let go of his life just yet, the other Saiyan started to glow. Softly at first, but then there was a rush of energy. A column of pure gold swirled around him, bringing back the sun for a moment, and then finally receded to reveal Kakarot. He stood tall, proud, renewed. A beacon of light in darkness. Of hope in despair. “Kakarot,” he managed to croak, “avenge us all.”
“As you command my prince.”
He closed his eyes and finally felt at peace.
Art for this chapter by Ash0
Chapter 17: Epilogue
Vegeta regained awareness. He wasn’t on Namek anymore, the air smelled too clean to be the volcanic wasteland Frieza had turned it into. He remembered fading away, so he thought that he must be dead and this was the afterlife. He opened his eyes to see what eternity was going to look like and was surprised to see an open window, looking out into a garden. There was sunshine, a blue sky, and a soft breeze.
He looked down at himself. No wounds or injuries, not even bandages. Different clothes though, something soft and loose fitting rather than armor. Vegeta had almost convinced himself he’d somehow made it to paradise when he suddenly realized he had to pee. Badly. No kind of paradise he could think of would require toilet trips. Did that mean he was actually… alive? If so, where was he?
He found the facilities behind a small door he’d first thought was a closet. He was planning to venture out and assess his situation when there was a soft knock at the main door. “Nurse Anapan, your Highness. May I come in?”
A woman in a light blue uniform came in, carrying a tray of food, which she set down on the table. “How are you feeling?”
“Am I alive?”
“Yes,” she replied with a smile. “Very much so. You’re on Earth, Lady Bulma’s home planet. The battle was two days ago. Goku won, but the ship he found to escape in was thrown off course in the explosion of the planet. As for any other answers, Lady Bulma wishes to give them herself. You can make your way to her study at your leisure.” As Vegeta moved to leave she added, “‘Make sure he doesn’t rush right out the door,’ were her exact words.”
“I see. A meal would be an acceptable delay.”
“Any medical needs I should see to?”
“No. I feel fine.”
“Alright. I’ll leave you to it.”
Bulma was reading through a mountain of after action reports when there was a sharp knock on her door. “Unless you have coffee, go away!” She looked up as the door opened anyway. “Oh! Vegeta! Sorry about that. I didn’t know you were up. Please come in. Have a seat,” she said, gesturing to the large chair in front of her desk.
“The nurse said you wanted to see me. She also said the battle was only two days ago. How’d we get back so fast?”
“The Dragon Balls. We used a wish to get everyone out of the area of Namek before it blew up. Except Goku. He refused to go because he wanted to finish off Frieza.” She watched his silence for a minute before continuing. “I’m sorry we didn’t explain it fully, I know…”
“I understand,” he interjected. “If things had been reversed, I would have done the same. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted when Frieza told me what they were capable of. But as a ruler, I cannot indulge selfishness like that.” His face shifted as he thought, before asking another question. “Was I dead?”
“Yes. We brought back Nappa too. And some others who didn’t make it.”
“When will Kakarot return?”
“I’m not sure. When the dragon contacted him - we tried to wish him home - he said that he was training with some new people he’d found and would be back later. Knowing him it could be a while.”
Vegeta nodded and stood. “Empress Bulma, thank you for your assistance.”
“Thank you,Prince Vegeta. We never would have won without your help. Please take as much time as you like to rest and collect yourself. You, Nappa, and Okara pretty much have free access of the house and grounds. Heck, go sightseeing if you want! There’s some time before we really have to work on mop-up operations.”
He walked towards the door, then stopped with his hand on the knob, and turned to look at her. “I know our treaty was already signed, but could I have a wish?”
“Considering your actions on Namek, that can definitely be arranged. Can I ask what your wish is?”
“Home,” he said as he left.
Bulma smiled as she leaned back in her chair. Enlisting the Saiyans’ help had been a gamble, but one that looked like was going to pay off better than expected. She looked forward to the future and seeing what it would bring for all of them.