Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Beyond Survival: Sole Survivors II ❯ A New Threat ( Chapter 2 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

 
{Once again, sorry for the delay between chapters, but I think I'm on a roll now. Please send comments. It really helps. I have a general plan for where I'm going with this, but I would appreciate criticism, whether positive or negative. Write me at queensaiyajin@aol.com. In the meantime, enjoy….}
 
 
Beyond Survival
A DBZ sequel to Sole Survivors
By Queen Saiyajin
 
Chapter Two: A New Threat
 
“It's okay. It's okay,” she whispered, gently caressing the baby that kicked furiously within her. She knows, Bulma thought to herself in a wonder that rivaled her fear. She knows her papa is hurt, and she's afraid. It wasn't unusual for their unborn daughter to react to Vegeta's presence. Her ki was born of his, and she seemed to sense his energy even from the womb. It had been no different with Trunks. Now, as Bulma struggled to contain her own dread, she knew that she would have to will the same calm to her baby.
 
The Saiyan doctor was shaking his head as he examined his King's precarious condition. “The King has nothing to prove,” he muttered as he ran a medical scanner over Vegeta's chest. “This was totally unnecessary…”
 
“What is it?” she asked anxiously, her voice edging on panic.
 
“Oh, I'm sorry, Ouhi-sama,” the doctor apologized quickly. “I did not mean to speak out of turn. I merely—”
 
“Never mind, just tell me what's wrong with him!” she cried impatiently.
 
Doctor Chamomi looked up at his Queen grimly. It had taken her months to convince the physician that it was no disrespect to look her in the eyes as he spoke to her. “One of his ribs is shattered, and there is a fragment lodged in his heart. The Regen Tank will be useless if I don't remove it surgically first. I just can't fathom the enormous energy it must have taken to do this. Vegeta Ou is the strongest being alive—“
 
“He had his ki shield down.”
 
Bulma looked to see the source of the voice that had suddenly intruded on the privacy of the examination room. “Bardock. Thank the gods you're here.”
 
“Prince Trunks told me that his father insisted he attack him at his full strength, and then lowered his own shield.”
 
“That's crazy! Why would he—?” But she knew. That insane obsession with becoming stronger. No matter how powerful he became, it was never enough.
“They both should have known better—”
 
“Apparently the King goaded him into it,” Bardock explained simply.
 
Bulma could only imagine what buttons he had pushed to bring out Trunks' inner rage. No wonder her son was beside himself. “Then do the surgery,” she instructed the doctor. “And no one is to know about this, do you understand?”
 
“Yes, my Queen,” the doctor pledged. “But I will need an assistant—“
 
“You've got me,” she told him steadily.
 
“Your Majesty?” the surgeon asked wide-eyed.
 
“Bulma, you can't do this,” Bardock said putting a hand gently on her arm. “I know you have medical experience, but in your condition—“
 
“Bardock, you know Vegeta,” she replied. “He wouldn't want any one else to know about this. If you're so worried, you can stay and assist too. But no one else is to find out how seriously he's been hurt.”
 
Bardock sighed and nodded, knowing it was little use to argue with Bulma once she had made up her mind.
 
“Come on,” she urged them, willing herself on despite the discomfort of the baby that seemed to be doing summersaults inside her. “What are you waiting for?!”
 
 
 
 
She'd tended to his wounds a thousand times before they'd come to Vegeta-sei. She'd mended broken limbs, and held him as he'd nearly bled to death in her arms from his injuries, both self-inflicted in training, and the result of battle. But even the minor surgeries she'd performed on him had not prepared her for this. Bulma wasn't sure if it was the sight of his open chest, the heart he'd once claimed to be hard as stone so fragile now as its beating kept him inches from death, or her own fear of losing him, that made her feel so light-headed that she thought she would faint dead away. But with Bardock at her side, she stood watching the delicate procedure, assisting the surgeon whenever asked to do so. The operation seemed endless, but as Doctor Chamomi sewed the final sutures and she breathed a sigh of relief, a glance at the clock told her it had only lasted an hour and a half.
 
 
“He'll be fine now, my Queen,” the surgeon assured her. “The Regen Tank will do the rest.” He turned to Bardock. “If you will assist me in lifting him in, Commander—“
 
“Just a minute,” Bulma told them, taking off the surgical gloves and touching her fingers lightly to her husband's cheek. She bent down to his face, whispering, “Vegeta, can you hear me?”
 
“He's in a coma, Your Majesty,” the doctor explained gently. “He can't—”
 
Bulma hadn't needed a physician to tell her that. As she'd reached for him through their bond, she had found no conscious thought, just a haze of thoughts and voices engulfed in blackness. Vegeta, can you hear me? she said softly in his mind.
 
Bul…ma…
 
A flicker of consciousness grasped at her, and she smiled. You're going to be okay, she told him silently as she took his hand. It wasn't her imagination that his fingers tightened ever so slightly around hers, and as the Saiyan Princess within her made her presence known, Bulma brought Vegeta's hand to rest against their fidgety child, the connection between father and daughter palpable as the baby calmed down for the first time since Vegeta's life force had begun to ebb and fade. Bulma kissed his lips softly, then turned to the doctor and soldier who watched in wonder at what they knew was transpiring.
 
“It's okay, now. Put him in the tank. He's going to be fine.”
 
Neither man would have presumed to doubt her.
 
 
 
He was floating.
 
The cool dark waters engulfed him, soothing him with their healing
powers, even as they sent a chill through his aching bones. A myriad of images played their way through his mind as consciousness crept back upon him. Trunks, so reluctant to use the full force of his magnificent power, then taking aim as Vegeta's cutting words intentionally provoked the rage which still brimmed so close to the surface. For a brief instant he had felt immeasurable pride in the fact that his firstborn son might actually be strong enough to destroy him. Then had come the nothingness of what surely must be the prelude to death. The rest was a muddle of voices laced with the dull sensation of pain, and his woman's voice whispering in his mind, begging him to return to her...
 
Vegeta ... Can you hear me? The unvoiced plea to open his eyes shook him to full consciousness as he willed his heavy lids to defy the pain in his head and the sting of the blue liquid that held him suspended as if in space. He saw through the glass, felt her palpable sigh of relief as she realized that he was awake. The breathing apparatus made it impossible to speak, but with his thoughts he said, Get me out of this blasted contraption!
 
It was with a mixture of relief and amusement that she replied, Well, you're back to your obnoxious self, but then added as she came closer to the glass to look into his eyes,Just a little while more. You have no idea what you did to yourself this time.
 
But as consciousness brought with it the full sensation of excruciating pain, he somehow knew that he wasn't quite ready to leave the regen tank just yet.
 
Besides, now that Bulma was sure he would live, she would most likely try to kill him for what he had done.
 
 
 
 
 
He awoke to the swirling of the draining liquid, as the regen tank's scanners found his health within normal parameters. Instinctively he reached out to the glass wall, steadying himself as the air about him failed to support his body as the fluid had. He grunted angrily as his legs nearly gave out, and ripped the oxygen mask from his face as the door to the chamber swished open. Bardock and the doctor were there, looking at him with a concern that annoyed him at once. “Clothes,” he commanded, surprised at the effort it had taken to utter that one word. Doctor Chamomi complied, handing him a fresh uniform. Of course. The one he'd been wearing had been torn to bits. He raised his ki slightly to dry himself off, and proceeded to dress himself as the doctor asked him a series of foolish questions. Did he remember what happened? Did he know where he was?
 
“I was sparring with my son, and I'm in the palace infirmary,” he replied in annoyance. “I believe the blow was to my chest, Doctor, not my head. Now I thank you for seeing to my injuries, but I must be getting back to—”
 
“I'm sorry, Ou-sama, but I'm afraid you're going to have to restrict your activities for at least a couple of days,” the doctor interrupted apologetically, as if afraid of his King's reaction. “You've had serious surgery—”
 
“Surgery?” he asked, suddenly confused. It was then that he saw Bulma enter the room, the look on her face quickly turning from relief to anger.
 
“I hope you're not giving the doctor a hard time, Vegeta,” she warned. “He saved your life.”
 
“There was a bone fragment lodged in your heart, your Majesty,” Chamomi explained. “It had to be removed before you went into the tank. Even with the full regeneration cycle, your body still isn't completely healed.”
 
“My body will heal itself, and be stronger than before,” he said stubbornly, though the pain in his ribs was becoming more than a discomfort. “I am the King of all Saiyans—”
 
“Even a SuperSaiyan needs time to heal, Vegeta-sama,” Bardock said gently, trying to take pressure off the doctor.
 
Don't embarrass yourself, Bulma warned in his mind. I know you're in pain right now.
 
He gave her a sharp look, then nodded to the doctor. “Fine. How long?”
 
“At least a day or two of bedrest should do it, Sire,” the doctor replied.
 
“I will conduct business from my suite,” he told Bardock. “And no one is to know that I am in any way not up to par.”
 
Bardock nodded. “No one even knows about the surgery, except for your close family. Queen Bulma herself assisted Doctor Chamomi to maintain secrecy.”
 
Disbelief must have been written all over his face as the doctor added with real admiration, “The Queen was more than helpful. I daresay she could probably have done the procedure herself.”
 
Vegeta's face softened as he marveled once more at the woman who seemed capable of anything. “She probably could,” he agreed softly.
 
 
 
 
 
Vegeta had never been a good patient, and the last few hours had not proven otherwise. After his initial objections, he had agreed to bedrest. The soreness in his ribs had not yet healed, and the fresh scar on his chest was a reminder of the severity of his injury. He'd slept only an hour or two, during which she had tried herself to rest beside him. But he had never been a heavy sleeper, and was soon anxious to go back to training. Under other circumstances, she would have known very well how to keep him in bed for hours, but neither of them were in a condition for that right now. He had tried to take her into his arms and the pain in his ribs had made him wince. Frustrated in more ways than one, he had laid his head back on the pillow in resignation. It was a perfect opportunity for them to do what Bulma loved most and what he found most difficult.
 
Talk.
 
“So, did you learn your lesson?” she asked, carefully turning to lie on her side to face his profile.
 
“I don't know what you're talking about,” he replied dully, closing his eyes as if to pretend he was asleep.
 
“Just what were you trying to do?” Any anger she had felt was abated in her relief that he was alive, and she simply wanted to know.
 
“What I always try to do,” he replied tiredly. “Become stronger.”
 
“You already are the strongest man alive,” she told him gently, reaching to caress his cheek.
 
He turned his head to look into her eyes. “I intend to keep it that way,” he said without elaborating. He didn't have to. The image of Goku at SuperSaiyan 3 had haunted his dreams and found their way into hers.
 
“Trunks…was beside himself. I can't imagine what you said to him to get him to—”
 
“Trunks did as I ordered him to do,” he replied simply, not willing to answer the question implicit in her words.
 
“You know why he's training so hard, don't you?” she asked, though she was sure Vegeta was so self-absorbed in his own obsession with strength that he probably had never even considered it. “He wants to go back to his time and kill King Cold.”
 
She could see from his stricken expression that he had had no idea what he had inadvertently been preparing the boy for. “He told you this?” he asked.
 
“No. But Cordera did. She sees it in his dreams. And she's worried sick that he'll actually do it.” She paused. “So am I, frankly.”
 
“I won't let him,” he assured her, reaching up to caress her hand on his cheek.
 
Bulma breathed deeply. She trusted him in this. He might be a fool with his own life, but he wouldn't let his son do the same.
 
"I need him by my side," Vegeta said resolutely, then added, "In any case, he has a life here now. He's happy with his woman. He's put the past behind him."
 
Even as he said the words meant to reassure her, he realized the irony of expecting his son to do something he himself had found an almost insurmountable task. Bulma said nothing, simply kissing his shoulder as she lay her head against him. But his uneasiness was as palpable as her own. If Trunks were anything like his father, the horrors of his past would not be forgotten until all debts were repaid in blood.
 
 
The next morning, Vegeta could feel his strength returning, and with it his desire to test his new limits. He rose quietly while Bulma was still fast asleep, hoping to shower and dress before she awoke. But as he emerged from the bathroom he found that the baby had prevented him from slipping out unnnoticed. Bulma looked at him reproachingly as she held Trunks in her arms, and said, "Look, Trunks-kun, Papa feels all better...but he'd better not be planning on training, or he might get sick again."
 
"Woman, I can not spend another moment idle in that bed. I will go insane!"
 
"Then come join everyone for breakfast," she told him cheerily as Trunks flew out of her grip and lunged at him.
 
"Papa!"
 
Vegeta stifled a grunt of pain as the boy's full weight pounding against his chest nearly knocked the wind out of him. Perhaps he had overestimated the extent of his recovery.
 
"Papa! Fight? Fight?" the child asked excitedly, disregarding his mother's words as much as Vegeta himself had intended to.
 
"Not yet, son," he told the boy with grim resignation. "I think Mama's right. Let's go have something to eat."
 
“Okay, Papa,” Trunks replied, happy to do whatever his father asked.
 
"That's my good boy," Bulma said coming over to give them each a kiss on the cheek. But Vegeta had the distinct feeling that she was addressing him, and not their son. Damn that woman for always being right!
 
 
 
He sat at the head of the table as usual, trying to ignore the pain in his chest as the others came to join him. Arnaki ran over to him, thrilled to see him up and about, attacking him with a big hug that both embarrassed him and warmed his heart. She truly was a daughter to him, and Bulma had reminded him to make sure to pay as much attention to her as always after the baby was born, lest she feel jealous of their biological daughter. It was good that his woman instructed him in these things, for otherwise he would have no clue as to what the proper emotional responses were. The whole notion of family that she had taught him was literally so alien to him that he'd learned to defer to her in such matters. This custom of family meals was certainly something he'd never heard of before, but he had to admit that it gave him some modicum of satisfaction to see them all together at least once a day—it grounded him, when the affairs of state and his quest for power threatened to get the better of him.
 
Trunks and Cordera came to him next, and he could sense his son's unease. It was the first time Trunks had seen him since their sparring session that had ended so badly, and he knew the boy felt guilty as hell. He had too much of his mother in him.
 
“Father, how are you feeling?” Trunks asked, taking a seat next to him.
 
“Ready for a rematch,” Vegeta told him with a smirk, quietly enough so that Bulma wouldn't hear.
 
“I heard that,” Bulma said, placing Chibi Trunks in his high chair.
 
“Dad, I'm really sorry,” Trunks said confidentially.
 
“Don't be foolish,” Vegeta reprimanded him sternly. “You did what I asked you to do…and quite effectively,” he said with pride. “I wouldn't be surprised if my power levels were doubled the next time we spar.”
 
“Really?” Trunks asked, wide-eyed. “You mean I could—“
 
“Don't get any ideas, Trunks,” Bulma warned, not liking the direction the conversation was taking. Vegeta could see the worry in Cordera's eyes and remembered his conversation with Bulma the night before.
 
“You are sufficiently strong, Trunks,” Vegeta told him. “Your power is second only to my own. You are more than prepared to follow me some day as King.”
 
“But—“
 
“No buts,” Vegeta said. “What I attempted was…dangerous,” he admitted reluctantly. “It's not something you should try without more experience.”
 
Trunks said nothing, but the protests left unsaid were evident on his face, and Vegeta was sure that Bulma's estimation was right. The boy did have something planned, and was training with a vengeance.
 
The conversation was dropped as Bardock and Rabia entered the room, and Vegeta was more than a bit relieved that Kakarot and his woman and brat were not with them. He'd dealt with Bardock on a day to day basis, and the man remained his closest advisor and confidant. It was easier to think of him as a trusted friend than as his mother's mate. He still had a problem wrapping his mind around that image. In any case, his presence here seemed natural. Kakarot was another matter. Even the knowledge that both he and his son had far surpassed Kakarot in power did not lessen the sting of Kakarot's betrayal in having kept his ascension secret. Bulma had assured him time and again that her dear "Goku" would never challenge him, and yet his pride would not tolerate any rival to his supremacy.
 
Even a clown with no desires more far-reaching than his next sparring session and meal.
 
"Hello, Mother," he said, standing as she came to kiss him on the cheek. Those words still felt strange but good coming from his mouth. And each time she gave him a little peck or affectionate hug, the little boy within him who had been deprived of her was healed that much more.
 
"Are you feeling better?" she asked with concern.
 
"Better than ever," he assured her, in part so she wouldn't worry, in part because it was what he wanted everyone to believe. He nodded at Bardock, motioning for him to take the seat to Vegeta's left. "I trust there have been no major problems in the last twenty-four hours?" he asked taking his own seat again. His greatest concern had been that some situation would arise while he had been incapacitated that might bring attention to his absence.
 
"No, Vegeta-sama, things have been quiet. Some discontent over the shortage of servants and laborers in the workforce, but this is to be expected. No one could have imagined that so many of the freed slaves would choose to leave the planet."
 
"They were given the option to return to their homeworlds," Vegeta replied blandly. "Can you blame them?"
 
Bardock shrugged. "Even taking that into account, at least 40% of those whose planets were purged or destroyed have still chosen to leave Vegeta-sei for some other world. It doesn't make sense, when there are ample opportunities here."
 
"Of course it makes sense! Why would they want to stay among people who had enslaved them and destroyed everything they loved?"
 
Cordera seemed to shock everyone with her sudden emotional outburst, even herself. Her face grew crimson as all eyes turned on her, and Trunks' gentle but insistent, "Corda, no!" seemed much louder than the whisper it was meant to be as it broke the silence of the room. The girl seemed utterly mortified for what could have been taken as a complete lack of respect for the King and the world that had accepted her as its Princess. But all Vegeta could see in her eyes was the grief and humiliation of the young woman who had seen her family and world obliterated by Vegeta's father, had nearly been forced into service as a pleasure slave, and been brutally violated by Vegeta's enemies simply because he had dared to show her and her sister compassion.
 
"Forgive me," she whispered shakily, but the irony of her asking forgiveness of him made Vegeta feel sick to his stomach.
 
"You said nothing wrong," Vegeta managed through his own guilt, then turned backed to Bardock with, "My daughter is right. And our race has spent generations building a reputation of total disregard for any beings less powerful than ourselves. If we are viewed with contempt it's of our own doing, and we will have to pay for the sins of our past."
 
Bardock nodded silently, apparently regretting his insensitivity in speaking thus in front of the Creas-sei-jin girls. Vegeta was sure his mother was scolding Bardock mentally, just as his own mate was telling him through their bond, I'm so proud of you.
 
Luckily, at that moment the mechanical drones Bulma had designed came hovering into the room, carrying the trays of food plentiful enough to satisfy any hungry Saiyan family. The pain in Vegeta's chest had diminished his appetite, and as he forced down a few bites just to build his strength, he took this lull in the conversation as an opportunity to study the others. Cordera was unusually despondent, and would not meet his eyes. Was she still ashamed of her outburst? If so, he had no idea what he could possibly do to reassure her. Hadn't his words, and his reference to her as his daughter, been enough? Or did she really harbor a hatred for the Saiyan race for what it had done to her own? He glanced at Arnaki, the sweet little girl who was always so open and demonstrative in her love for her new family. He didn't know what it would do to him if she were to someday grow to hate him for what had happened to her real family. Would he ever be able to make up for what his father had taken from them both?
 
Arnaki looked up from her meal and caught his gaze, then asked, "Do you like the meat, Father? I programmed the cooking drone myself this morning."
 
"I thought it tasted exceptionally good today," he responded warmly. The bright smile she returned was all the assurance he needed.
 
Bardock was eyeing the serving drones suspiciously. Despite the appendages that functioned as arms to perform simple tasks, the machines were far from Artificial Intelligence. But they were still years ahead of any similar technologies on Vegeta-sei. "Bulma-sama," he commented, remembering to add the title of respect that Vegeta insisted upon in public, though he often dropped it in private at the Queen's own request. "Do you still have concerns about the palace staff? Kakarot and I interrogated and investigated each and every one ourselves, and the King himself had them pledge their loyalty."
 
"They're fine, Bardock, and I trust them for the most part," she replied as she wiped some sauce from Trunks' face. "But where food is concerned..." Her voice trailed off. They all remembered how Vegeta's enemies had poisoned Kakarot as he'd stood guard over Chibi Trunks and the girls.
 
"I think it's wonderful that Arnaki has learned so much working in the lab with you and Cordera, Bulma," Queen Rabia broke in to shift the conversation. “But have you seen about getting her another private tutor? There are so many other subjects besides science that she should be well-versed in.”
 
“We've gone through two already,” Bulma replied, glancing at Vegeta. “Vegeta didn't like either of them.”
 
Vegeta grimaced. “The first was a cocky old conservative who treated the child as if she were inferior because she's not of Saiyan blood. He tried to bully her, and when I found out he was lucky to get out of here alive.”
 
“Understandable,” the Queen Mother replied thoughtfully. “What about the second? Bulma said Arnaki liked him.”
 
“Oh, yeah,” Arnaki piped in, grinning mischievously.
 
“He was a little too young,” Bulma explained. “About five years older than Arnaki and very handsome.”
 
“He had the audacity to flirt with her!” Vegeta burst out, not understanding why Bulma took this so lightly.
 
“Oh Vegeta, he didn't really,” she retorted, dismissing him. “He was just friendly.”
 
“A little too friendly for my liking,” he replied dryly.
 
“So you fired him?” his mother asked.
 
“Not at all. He quit.”
 
“After Father started sitting in on our lessons, glaring at him until he was sweating,” Arnaki piped in.
 
The others laughed. “Oh Vegeta, you are so overprotective,” his mother told him. “A typical father of a young girl.”
 
“I think it's cute,” Bulma teased him, and he felt his cheeks grow hot.
 
Vegeta was glad when the conversation turned to other things, and he simply sat quietly trying to will the pain in his chest to go away. Maybe you should take a rest, Bulma thought to him as she set Baby Trunks down.
 
He was about to concur as the others began to leave the table, when Bardock trailed behind, as if needing to speak to him privately.
 
“Something on your mind?” he asked, trying not to sound as physically uncomfortable as he felt.
 
Bardock nodded. “It's Kakarot, Vegeta-sama. I'd like you to bring him back to the palace. Keep him close by.”
 
Vegeta sighed. “We've discussed this, Bardock. I put him in charge of the warriors in the Leguma region so that he could settle his family on your estate.”
 
Bardock breathed deeply, as if he had known Vegeta's response. He was, after all, a Seer. Perhaps he had. “Sire, if you could put your differences with Kakarot aside, I think it would be to your advantage—”
 
“This isn't about my differences with Kakarot,” he replied sharply, then, realizing that Bardock knew him too well, he amended, “Not entirely. It is to my advantage to have men who are loyal in the outer provinces to keep a watch over my enemies.” He paused, his voice softening. “I do know he is loyal, Bardock. I'm not blind. I trust him to protect our people—“
 
“But you think he's trying to surpass you,” Bardock finished. “Ou-sama, Kakarot meant no harm in keeping his ascension secret. He hasn't a deceitful bone in his body. It's a game to him, a challenge. He enjoys sparring, and pushing his limits, just as any Saiyan. You are the only one who truly challenges him. He doesn't even understand why you stopped sparring with him.”
 
“Intelligence was never his strong suit—no offense,” Vegeta replied.
 
“None taken. He's a strong warrior and a good man. That's enough to make a father proud.”
 
Vegeta nodded, thoughtfully. “All right, Bardock. I trust and respect you greatly. If you wish to summon Kakarot back to the capital, then do so. I know…” This part was a little more difficult to express, but it needed to be said. For thinking of Bardock and the son he had met just months ago reminded him of his own firstborn. “I know you have missed out on a great deal of time with your son. I don't wish to deprive you of more.”
 
Bardock smiled. “Thank you, Vegeta-sama. I am grateful. And I feel…safer having him close by.”
 
A warning bell went off in Vegeta's head. “Safer? Why? Have you had some vision I should know about?”
 
Bardock's face grew serious. “Nothing that makes any sense—yet. But there is some trouble brewing. We should be vigilant.”
 
That afternoon, it was even more difficult for Vegeta to remain at rest. But he knew that he must. If some danger lay just below the horizon, he would have to be prepared.
 
His family, his people, were depending on him.
 
 
 
It wasn't until two days later that Vegeta awoke free of the pain that had been nagging at him since his surgery. He had reminded Bulma to ask her parents to bring some of those Senzu beans from Earth when they came for the child's birth. If Bardock's visions of impending trouble were correct, he would be prepared to face it without any weakness.
 
Kakarot had returned to the capital with his annoying woman and brat, and seemed utterly unaware that Vegeta had ever been upset with him. Was he that stupid, or simply so carefree that he had let the incident roll off his shoulders? Vegeta wasn't sure, but Bulma had urged him to act as if nothing had happened. In a way, it was easier that way. Vegeta had agreed to spar with him, and sometimes between Saiyans that was all the communication that was needed. Anyway, Kakarot was unaware of his near-death experience, and would certainly be floored by Vegeta's increase in power.
 
That in itself would be all the satisfaction Vegeta would need.
 
They'd agreed to keep it at Super Saiyan, mostly for practical reasons. Bulma had not yet repaired the Gravity chamber, and there was no need to rip apart half the planet as they might if they let their power levels get out of hand. Only Trunks, Bardock and Gohan had come to watch, though Arnaki had pulled at his heartstrings begging to come along. But he didn't want any distractions, and concern for the girl's safety would make him hold back. No, even at Super Saiyan, he wanted to have some fun beating Kakarot to a pulp.
 
Even as they began to exchange blows, Vegeta could feel that it had become almost effortless. With growing confidence he burst into Super Saiyan, spinning Kakarot around in circles, then tossing him into the rocks below. Within seconds the other Saiyan had come back with his signature Kamehameha blast, though Vegeta could see that Kakarot had left his energy level so low that he would have to power up to go Super Saiyan. Vegeta deflected the beam, letting it topple in a moment a mountain that had probably taken millions of years to form. Quickly responding with his own Galick Gun, he smirked in pleasure as the wave of energy hit Kakarot before he could transform. At that moment Vegeta realized that the media had joined the onlookers that had rushed to investigate the huge energy coming from the desolate area. He would give them a show they would replay over and over. Graciously allowing Kakarot to power up until he burst into a golden glow, Vegeta met Kakarot's energy blast with one of his own Big Bang attacks, throwing the power of both back at the bigger Saiyan. When the smoke had cleared, Kakarot, his hair once more black, struggled to lift himself, only to stagger back onto the ground, completely spent. Remembering their agreement not to ascend further, Vegeta kept his word, but flew down to stand over Kakarot's heaving form. “Are we through?” Vegeta asked needlessly.
 
Kakarot managed a lop-sided smile. “You've…gotten…stronger…” he said, before passing out.
 
Vegeta just laughed. There was nothing more to say.
 
 
 
By the time he reached their suite in the palace, Vegeta was met by Arnaki excitedly running towards him. “Father, come look! You're on the video screen!”
 
He glanced over to see the nightly news replaying his bout with Kakarot. Amazing. Watching the replay as an observer brought the thrill of his victory rushing through his blood once more. Gods, he was powerful. And this had only been a mere fraction of what he was truly capable of. Yet it was enough to impress his admirers and frighten those who might even consider opposing him. A wonderful invention, this medium. And in six months, he'd learned how to use it to his advantage. But it hadn't even occurred to him until this moment what the impact of his defeat of Kakarot being televised throughout the planet could be. He'd never forgotten his father's words, that the people admired Kakarot for his ascension to Super Saiyan and his defeat of Cooler. Sure, they had seen Vegeta ascend beyond, to Super Saiyan Four, and kill the former King. But his father had not been a Super Saiyan. This clear demonstration of his superiority over Kakarot, another Ascendant Saiyan, could only solidify their confidence in their King as the most powerful being alive.
 
“It's good to see you boys sparring again,” Queen Rabia commented as she came into the living room, Chibi Trunks in her arms. “I'm sure Kakarot enjoyed it too.”
 
Vegeta smiled devilishly. “I don't know, Mother, you might want to ask him when he gets out of the regen tank.” He looked around, even as he failed to sense the ki that normally entwined with his whenever he was near.
 
“Where's your Mother?” he asked Arnaki, his curiosity turning into concern.
 
“She's in the Infirmary,” Arnaki replied, her slight reluctance obvious.
 
“What happened?” he asked them both in barely concealed alarm, his heart beginning to pound. Surely if she had become ill he would have sensed it even from the other end of the planet.
 
“She was having some contractions, and I thought it best she see the doctor. There's no need to be concerned,” his mother assured him.
 
“Contractions? But it's not her time yet! Why didn't someone notify me at once?!” He turned back towards the door, ready to storm to the Infirmary, when the door slid open to admit Bardock.
 
“Ou-sama, you have to see what's just come in on the newsfeed from the Southern Quadrant—“
 
“Not now, Bardock, Bulma's—“
 
“I'm right here,” she said, following Bardock into the suite.
 
“What's going on?” he asked her, though mentally he nearly cried out, Are you all right?!
 
“I'm fine,” she promised him, both aloud and through her thoughts as she came to stand in front of him.
 
He heaved a sigh of relief, wanting nothing more than to hug her to him protectively, but holding himself back in front of the guards that had followed Bardock, allowing himself only to take her hand and squeeze it tenderly. You will tell me the details when we are alone, he told her, turning back to Bardock and the guards.
 
“A Tsiru-jin survives,” Bardock told him. “One of the Kold clan. She has been spreading the news of the destruction of Tsiru-sei throughout the Southern Quadrant, blaming you and demanding retribution.”
 
“Who?” he demanded, cursing himself for having missed one filthy lizard.
 
“Lady Frigia,” Bardock responded grimly, the look on his face telling Vegeta that somehow this must be the threat Bardock had forseen.
 
Vegeta's eyes opened wide in surprise and something else he dare not betray.
 
“Frieza's sister,” he mouthed grimly, the words leaving a vile taste in his mouth.
 
“Yes,” Bardock replied ominously, as Rabia hurried to switch the newsfeed on.
 
There she was. A loathsome vision of purple and white that bore a striking resemblance to her twin. The mere sight of her sent a chill down Vegeta's spine as cold as her very name evoked. He'd dispatched Frieza to Hell, sending his father in his wake, in what now seemed to have been an effortless task. Yet the resemblance between this loathsome creature and her barely masculine counterpart was so overwhelming that it brought a lifetime of fear and rage brimming to the surface. “How did that abomination escape?!” he roared, feeling the electricity of his own ki beginning to engulf him.
 
“Vegeta, calm down,” Bulma said all too quietly at his side.
 
“I will not rest until every fucking lizard is dead!” he cried, shaking her hand off his arm as he moved towards the video screen.
 
Lady Frigia, what exactly happened to your planet?” a bronze-skinned Lodi-jin journalist was asking in the interview.
 
“It was destroyed by the Saiyan King, Vegeta,” the Tsiru-jin replied with certainty. “I was off-planet at the time, but received a transmission from Tsiru-sei that they had detected two Saiyan space pods approaching. When the signal was cut off, I knew that my world had been mercilessly destroyed by that power-hungry monkey. Who else would have done it? Didn't he murder my brother—and our father, the King—in cold blood? How ungrateful a monster he is, especially after my brother took him under his wing and nearly raised him—“
 
Frigia's face disappeared in the smoke of what had once been the television monitor as Vegeta's insane rage compelled him to silence her with a blast of energy.
 
“Vegeta, stop it!” Bulma cried, grabbing his arm. He was shaking with fury, and only as he felt her fear did he will himself control.
 
“Where is she?” he snapped at Bardock, ready to face her now.
 
“On Lodi-sei, my King,” Bardock replied. “It's a weak world, that had thought itself free of the the Tsuri-jins when you destroyed Frieza. If they're giving her asylum and a platform to speak out, it's certainly against their will. Their government had signed a peace and trade agreement with us two months ago in return for our protection.”
 
Vegeta was silent for a moment, then asked, “How many survived with her?”
 
“Hard to say. The reports vary, but probably only a small crew she had with her on her private ship. No more than a dozen.”
 
“That's a dozen too many,” he muttered as he realized Trunks and Cordera had come into the room. He turned to his eldest son. “Trunks, you'll come with me to Lodi-sei. We'll finish them off once and for all.”
 
“Are you sure that's a good idea, Vegeta?” his mother broke in. “Don't underestimate the impact of Frigia's transmission. Those who don't know the truth of everything that happened could sympathize with her. You can't afford to have the galaxy believe her accusations that you're a power-hungry murderer. You've worked far too hard to erase all the damage done by your father.”
 
“She's right, Vegeta-sama.” Bardock stood beside Vegeta's mother, his wife, with the certainty of the sage that he was.
 
“Have you foreseen something, Bardock?” Vegeta asked suspiciously.
 
“Only that the battle will not be fought on Lodi-sei—or Vegeta-sei for that matter,” he added, prompting Vegeta to heave an involuntary sigh of relief.
 
“Fine,” he grumbled, his blood still boiling. “I will wait, then.”
 
He felt his woman lie her hand on his arm again, but this time he did not shake it off. Only then did he remember that she had just come from the Infirmary, and he looked into her eyes, with the silent question, What happened to you? Are you all right?
 
She nodded, answering him verbally, “Yeah. I'm okay.” For some reason she would offer him no more than that. He was about to pursue it when he heard Arnaki's voice.
 
“Father, did you really destroy that planet?”
 
Her voice was so timid, her face so white with the fright that his outburst had given her, that he was suddenly filled with guilt. He'd never told her, told anyone except Bulma and his mother, what he and Trunks had done that day. No one else would have understood the absolute necessity of an act which might otherwise seem random and cruel.
 
“They were our enemies, Arnaki,” he told her matter-of-factly. “Frieza nearly killed your mother, and King Kold murdered Chibi Trunks. If it hadn't been for the dragonballs, he'd still be—”
 
“I know all that,” she replied more boldly, stepping towards him, saving him from saying something that he still found painful to voice aloud. “But you killed Frieza, and King Kold. The other people on their planet were innocent—they didn't do anything to us…”
 
Vegeta was at a loss for words. How to explain to her that they were a threat, that every Tsiru-jin had a soul as cold as their planet, that no one in the galaxy would ever be safe as long as even one lizard lived to spawn others…?
 
There were tears in her eyes now, tears he had not seen for months in the sweet little face that had looked at him with nothing but pure adoration ever since the day he had made her his daughter. He reached a hand out to touch her cheek, but she shrank from him in…fear? Revulsion? “You destroyed an entire planet! You promised you'd never do anything like that! But you did. The same way your father destroyed ours!”
 
She ran from the room before he could respond.
 
It was a good thing. He wouldn't have known what to say anyway.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 1
Chapter 3
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