Chichi couldn’t help swallowing slightly as Bardock presented her and Kakarrot to General Leke. She still wasn’t entirely sure how the saiyan naming system worked, so she’d been a little surprised to see that the general was a woman, not that she should have been – saiyans, it seemed, tended to look at strength first and everything else last – and General Leke was an imposing figure. Six foot ten, greyish skin, short hair that spiked in an arc over her right eye and was held back slightly by her strip of resistance red cloth, a powerful build, and with the handsome features that saiyan women seemed more prone to than Chichi’s own more delicate build. Chichi realized she was fiddling with the edge of her new armor and forced her hands to still, silently thanking Kami that Kakarrot had insisted they both train before they did this as the grey woman looked her over critically.
“Hmf. Scrawny little thing, power seems just barely acceptable, but I suppose you can handle yourself in a fight or else Bardock wouldn’t have brought you.” She folded her arms and glanced between the two teenagers, then turned back to Bardock. “All right, I’ll take them. Kakarrot, you’ll be assigned to Onigrin’s squad. Human, you’ll be on mine.”
“Can’t we be on the same squad?” Kakarrot asked hopefully and the general narrowed her eyes.
“No – we don’t have any squads with openings for two and even if we did I prefer to keep mates, even prospective ones, on separate squads.” She turned back to Bardock, “Will that be all, Commander?”
The scarred saiyan nodded, then clapped both teenagers on the shoulders. “Try and stay alive, brats – I’ll be pissed if you don’t.” And then he was gone and they were being shown to their room and introduced to the rest of the saiyans onboard. Including General Leke there were seventeen already living on the ship – eighteen now with Kakarrot, and nineteen total counting Chichi, the only alien onboard. Kakarrot’s new squad greeted him with punches and the general roughness that Chichi was beginning to understand was just a part of daily saiyan interaction. He gave Chichi a quick wave before returning to chatting happily as General Leke led her off down a side corridor of the ship to meet the member of her own team she’d be working the most directly with.
“You’ll be paired with him during missions,” the saiyan woman informed her as they walked, “He specializes in sabotage, so he isn’t usually in the larger brawls – hell, half the brawls our squad starts are covers for him to get his work done. You’ll act as lookout and guard for him.”
Chichi nodded, rubbing her arms a little as they walked and wishing she had on a shirt with long sleeves. He was dressed in black and violet saiyan armor with full sets of panels, though the shoulder ones curved to fit closely rather than flaring out. Her small armor was blue and consisted of long pants and a sleeveless top with a high collar. Gauntlets and boots to match the armor completed the outfit, and her strip of Resistance red cloth was currently pulling her hair back. It all felt strange, the textures smoother than she was used to (though, she did have to admit… for being designed to stretch to fit, the chestplate was surprisingly comfortable. And supportive. She might have to look into getting a plainer one for everyday wear if this proved to be true long-term as well as short term…)
She snapped out of her thoughts as Leke halted in front of a door indented into the wall and hit a button to open it without knocking, “Oi, gerine-brains, pay attention, you’ve got a new partner!”
Chichi gaped as the man turned to face them. He wore loose grey pants tucked into black and indigo boots, with a length of indigo cloth draped around his hips, held in place by a sash of the appropriate shade of red, and a form-fitting black tank top, an outfit similar to something one of Kakarrot’s own new squadmates had been sporting, albeit the other saiyan had had a chestplate on as well. The man before her also wore what looked like a red scouter that had been modified to cover both eyes instead of one.
What surprised her, however, wasn’t his clothes but the fact that he looked almost exactly like Commander Bardock – his skin was much darker, his hair a little wilder, an, curiously, he was missing his right eyebrow, but other than that they could have been twins. He straightened with as smirk as they entered the room.
“A new partner? Oh General, you shouldn’t have – I always knew you liked me best.”
Leke growled at him. “You have a mate already, Turles, quit flirting with the entire gods-damned ship! And put your chestplate on – we’re at war!” the general bristled at the irreverent shrug this earned her, turning to the human at her side with a huff. “This is Mao Chichi, she’ll be working with you, as I said. Chichi, this is Turles. He’s an expert on sabotage and explosives. He’s also a shameless flirt and absolutely insane. Good luck.”
And before Chichi could respond, the general had left. Swallowing, she turned back to see the dark saiyan smirking at her.
“Well, go ahead, say it, you know you want to,” he mocked, “Everyone does.”
Chichi raised her chin. His ki reserves were larger than hers, but damned if she was going to let him intimidate her. “You look like Commander Bardock.”
“We share an extremely lusty great grandfather.”
He was trying to get a rise out of her. Chichi narrowed her eyes. “You lose a bet or something?”
His eyebrow raised. “Not recently. Why do you ask?”
She gestured at his right eyebrow, or lack thereof, and allowed herself to feel smug when he scowled at her.
“I had an accident with some unstable chemicals and am currently waiting for it to grow back. In the meantime I am keeping the area safe,” Turles tapped his odd scouter, “You’ll likely be getting a similar one, since we’ll be working together.” He grinned suddenly, “You seem spunky enough, I believe you’ll do nicely. I think I’ll call you ‘Lackey.’”
Chichi growled. “Ya will not! I’m Mao Chichi, the Ox Princess, and I’m nobody’s lackey!”
He gave her an amused look, then turned back to his worktable while still talking. “What, you don’t like it? How about I call you ‘Jewel,’ then, is that preferable?”
She huffed. “If you insist on calling me something other than my real name, then I suppose that would be acceptable.”
She had a feeling she’d made a mistake somehow the instant the words left her mouth, but she knew she had when Turles froze for a moment, then straightened and slowly turned to face her, grinning like he’d just been handed the best gift in the universe on a golden platter. “Really? Jewel it is, then!” he laughed, “This is turning out to be a good day! Oh, and Frieza Day’s coming up! And me with a brand new partner to celebrate it with!”
Deciding to shelve the ‘jewel’ topic for later, Chichi addressed this new topic instead. “What’s Frieza Day?”
“Why, only the best day in the whole year,” Turles gave a toothy grin, “The day I look forward to and plan for constantly!”
“What’s so special about it?”
“It’s the day Frieza destroyed Vegetasei.”
She gaped at him. Dear kami, he really was insane, “How the hell is that a good thing?!?”
Turles’s smirk took on a dark edge, “Because every Frieza Day, to commemorate the event, we destroy something of his.” He beckoned to her to join him at his workbench, “I was just putting some final touches on the current plan, but your presence changes things. Come here and we’ll see how we can fit you in.”
That evening Chichi found out that ‘Frieza Day’ was not an actual holiday, but rather Turles’s own personal term for days he had missions because, as people kept reminding her, he was insane. She also found out that ‘jewel’ had a rather different meaning when applied to a living being rather than a lump of crystalline rock in saiyan culture. Apparently it was an old term for saiyans who were considered beautiful, but had no fighting capabilities and a very low power level. Applied to a saiyan who met those qualifications, it was positive, a denotation of value of a different sort than usual.
Applied to someone with a decent power level and fighting skills – like Chichi for example – it was an insult.
“Basically, it’s implying that you’re a shitty fighter with no value but your looks,” Crumbar, a short, reddish saiyan with longer spikey hair, explained. He was one of Kakarrot’s new squad mates and had been chatting with the younger male when Chichi joined them.
The Ox Princess stared blankly into space for a moment. “I’m gonna rip his tail off. I’m gonna rip his fucking tail right off his ass.”
Crumbar snorted derisively. “As if you could – he’s too strong for you, human.”
“And I’m also an excellent fighter.”
Chichi turned to glare at Turles, who was smirking at her, arms folded. She growled at him and he tisked.
“Now now, Jewel, is that any way to treat your partner.”
“You son of a bitch-” she snarled, going for a swing at him.
She was yanked to a stop by a hand clapped over her mouth, ceasing her forward motion. “Ah-ah-ah, not in the meal room. I’ll be happy to fight you any other time you want, though – I need to know your fighting style if I’m going to strategize around it properly, anyway.” He released her and stepped back, smirking, “And if you want my tail so badly, by all means, just try and get it.” And he turned and sauntered over to a red-skinned saiyan woman who tilted her head to the side to let him nuzzle her neck without pausing in her conversation. After a moment, though, she’d apparently had enough, because she reached up and, still without looking at him, grabbed Turles by the head and mashed his face into the table, holding it there while he flailed, not really paying attention or pausing in her chat with a smooth-haired male.
“Who’s that?” Chichi asked. Possibly this woman could be an ally…?
“That’s Nippatu. And, before you get any ideas, Turles is her mate.” Crumbar snorted, “Crazy, the pair of them.”
“Everyone around here except General Leke seems a little crazy if you ask me,” Chichi grumbled, annoyed at her lost opportunity.
A tan hand slammed down onto the table next to her and a broad saiyan man smirked down at her nastily. “The only crazy ones on this ship are Turles, you, and the Commander’s brat.”
“Me?” Kakarrot looked up from his plate, blinking, “What did I do?”
“You’re Commander Bardock’s youngest, aren’t you?”
“Well yeah,” Kakarrot scratched his neck and looked away, “What does that have to do with-”
“Then you got raised soft.”
Kakarrot froze, turning to face the other male again. “What did you say.”
“You got raised soft,” the other man smirked at him and around them conversation quieted as the surrounding saiyans turned to watch, “By that weakling brother of yours. I hear he doesn’t even fight any-”
He stopped then. He had to because he was holding his head and screaming. The room went silent and remained so, even when the screaming stopped a moment later as Kakarrot hopped lightly over the table to stand over the other saiyan, lifting him by the front of his armor.
“My brother,” he said, tone like ice, “Raised me when it would have been easier to throw me away. I was born with a low power level, it wouldn’t have been hard, it wouldn’t even have been wrong back then, and it would have made his life easier. But he protected me anyway, and trained me. He evaded Frieza’s forces for fourteen years on his own, even while he was going through his growth spurts, while they were actively hunting us, and he’s a better saiyan than you’ll ever be.” Flinging the man down, he looked up and addressed the room now. “I am Kakarrot, son of Bardock and Gine! I have trained with Sei Celipa, I have fought with Broly! My power level is near six digits, and I haven’t gone through my second spurt yet,” he grinned, cold and confident, “So go ahead, make me angry – I’m planning to follow in my father’s footsteps, anyway.” And he turned and strode out of the room, tail swinging in challenge behind him.
A short while later Chichi got up and returned to the room they would be sharing. Kakarrot was already there, sitting on his bed in his brown small armor, staring at the wall. He looked up at her as she came in. “Hey, Chi.”
“Hey, Carrot,” she sat down on the bed beside him and leaned on his shoulder, “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he sighed, “Dad warned me I’d probably have to do something like that at some point, since I’ve been on the run and training on Earth and everything, but I didn’t think it would be on our first night here.” He leaned his head against hers. “General Leke came by.”
“You in trouble?” she began to finger-comb his hair, and he hummed happily before it turned into a light purr.
“Not really. She just said not to use mental attacks on other saiyans again unless she gives the okay. How about you? Want me to beat up Turles for you?”
“No,” she stopped playing with his hair and ignored his pout at that, “I’m gonna deal with him on my own. Can’t have people thinkin’ I can’t handle myself.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, rolling her eyes when he made a face. “Still gross?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I really don’t think that’s going to change,” he admitted, though his tone was regretful.
She patted his hand and got up to go to her bed, “At least I know yer intentions are pure.”
Kakarrot settled into ship life fairly smoothly. Even Bagitzu, the man who had given him grief the first evening, backed off a certain amount, though there was no love lost between the two. The young saiyan had made his impression on the ship, however, and been accepted as a fellow warrior.
Chichi had yet to make her mark. Her time was spent mostly sparring and studying with Turles, who continued to call her ‘Jewel,’ taking what seemed a malicious glee in her frustration. He wore black and indigo armor over the short, swimsuit-like bottoms that everyone in the ship except Chichi seemed to consider perfectly acceptable public wear, at least when he bothered to wear armor (as opposed to the more casual clothes she’d first found him in), and their first sparring session had ended up with Chichi going to the medical wing with a badly sprained wrist. She had numerous bruises as well, the biggest one being to her pride, because halfway through the match Turles had removed his chestplate, proclaiming he didn’t need it since she couldn’t hit him anyway (and thank kami he’d been wearing a sleeveless small armor shirt beneath it or else she’d have had to deal with distraction on top of everything else). The part that really stung was that he’d been right. She was good, but he was stronger, and better.
He mocked her. He belittled her. He outright insulted her.
And, on their first mission together, Chichi was pretty sure it saved her life.
She’d been with the Resistance for about two weeks at that point, as far as she could tell – she’d slept fourteen times, anyway (time was tricky in space). The mission was labelled ‘routine’ afterwards, but to Chichi it had been terrifying, and exhilarating. General Leke and three others of their squad had gone to raid supplies on one of Frieza’s military space stations and cause a diversion while Chichi and Turles slipped over to the ship bay. The dark-skinned saiyan had set about rearranging bits of engines and adding drops of chemicals to fuel tanks, and Chichi had kept watch. It went smoothly, and it wasn’t until they were going to deliver Turles’s ‘Frieza Day present’ to the station’s engine that they ran into a patrol.
The aliens were purple-green, amphibious-looking, and favoured an attack involving a kick that used flight to change angle and momentum mid-flight, a move that had felt… oddly familiar. Chichi hadn’t had time to think about it right then – they’d deposited Turles’s bomb in the engine, and Chichi had activated her new scouter (a blue one that covered both eyes, like Turles’s) and reported back to Leke as her partner cackled and they ran. It wasn’t until that night, leaning against Kakarrot while he held her and shivering over what she’d helped to do, that it suddenly came to her where she’d seen that attack before. Turles had been using it on her for most of their sessions. It was a tricky move to predict, and she’d been mercilessly battered at first. By the time of the mission, though… blocking it has almost been instinctive. The big difference was, Turles didn’t have four-inch claws on his feet. The blow from him had hurt. The same blow from the aliens would have killed.
She’d stared at the ceiling a long time that night, Kakarrot wrapped around her like a friendly octopus (while not really interested in kissing or sex yet, cuddling was another matter entirely, and she hadn’t felt like sleeping alone). Had Turles done it on purpose? But- he hadn’t known they’d encounter those specific aliens.
It didn’t matter – he was still a jerk, and he still insisted on calling her ‘Jewel,’ even after she’d shown that she could handle her own in a fight. It left her more determined than ever to beat him, but it was looking like that would day would be a long time in coming. She could still barely lay a hand on him during their spars and, no matter how she trained on her own, no matter how she worked with her ki to increase it, she wasn’t saiyan and simply didn’t gain strength at the rate they did. She needed something else, a way to close the gap.
Two months after her first mission, she found it.
And it wasn’t what she’d been expecting at all.