Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Undead Memories ( Chapter 7 )
The sounds of carnage and destruction could be heard above the palace's opulent subterranean bunker, dust occasionally raining down from the ceiling as explosions continued to level the city above. A 17 year old soldier stood in the middle of the expansive room, a cocky smirk on his smooth, youthful face. He had a prominent widow's peak, a couple errant locks of hair falling over his forehead. A red scouter covered his left eye, and his arms were crossed over armor that looked almost too big for his lanky frame. It was spattered with blood. All around him lay the dismantled corpses of the palace guards, their red blood streaking the white marble of the floor. Standing anxiously before him was a king, his hair long and white, his silver skin perspiring with fear. His queen cowered just behind him, her flax-blue eyes intense with terror for her family as she shielded her two young sons, one roughly 5 years of age, the other 10.
The Saiyan's tail unwrapped from his waist to swing lazily behind him as he glanced down at the corpses littering the floor. "That was kind of fun I guess but enough playing," he jested as he half-heartedly kicked aside a nearby severed arm. He looked up to the king. "Pretty fucking stupid of you, old man. Your planet had it good with the Cold Empire. You really thought your pathetic forces and your underhanded little planetary alliances were enough to revolt against Lord Frieza? Is that why you're here cowering underground like some rodent?" he sneered, his already rather gruff voice more befitting a grizzled veteran of war than a young man.
King Chevalo grit his teeth. He knew he was facing certain execution for this. His life was over as far he was concerned. All he could do now was appeal for the life of his family. "I will go quietly. I only ask that my wife and sons not be harmed."
"Pfft. Of COURSE you'll go quietly," The teenager snorted with a roll of his eyes. He smirked. "When you're dead, there's really no other option." In the next instant Vegeta was in front of the king, his right arm buried to the elbow in the regent's chest. The king collapsed over the slight teenager's shoulder, in shock and coughing up blood as he struggled for breath. His family behind him screamed, their pleading wails the antithesis of the young soldier's mocking laughter. Vegeta withdrew his arm, now completely coated in crimson gore. As the king began sinking to his knees, Vegeta grabbed him by the armor with his other hand, hauling him back up and steadying him.
Vegeta's amused expression grew critical as he studied the sputtering king. "How the hell could someone so weak be the leader of his people?" he snorted, eyeing him with disgust. "Hn. Weak AND stupid. You've done them a great disservice." His eyes flicked over to the hysterical family before returning to the king. "You've done a disservice to both your people AND your family." Vegeta faltered when he noticed the elaborate royal medallion that hung from the king's neck, as though really seeing it for the first time. A thoughtful look came over his face, and his bloody hand drifted up to gingerly graze it. He slid his hand beneath it, cupping it in his palm before slowly looking back up to the king. His youthful countenance suddenly appeared far older than it had any right to be, his black eyes cold.
He smiled a little, his eyes not lightening in the slightest."That's alright, though," he said, his voice unnervingly quiet as the royal family continued to weep and plead in the background. "Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes they're made with the best of intentions." A crafty smirk crawled across his face. "We can learn from our mistakes…I think we have a valuable opportunity here. I'm going to impart a little wisdom on your two boys before we conclude our business. Just three little lessons." Vegeta closed his hand into a fist around the medallion. His smirk broadened until he looked completely mad, and he turned his attention to the two terrified boys.
"Lesson number 1!" He announced. "Attachments are for the weak." With a hard jerk Vegeta yanked the medallion, and its chain sawed through the monarch's neck to instantly decapitate him. Vegeta was coated in a spray of blood; he stood chuckling in morbid amusement as the headless body slumped against his shoulder before falling to the floor.
Completely panic stricken and now screaming in abject horror, the queen pushed her children behind her and desperately scrambled for one of the rifles from a fallen soldier. The gore streaked teenager turned his attention to her and dropped the medallion. It bounced off the stone floor with a resounding clang before he advanced on them.
Training the weapon at the boy, the queen fired. With a grin, Vegeta lazily batted the blast aside before flicking a small ki blast that knocked the weapon out of her grasp. He chuckled, his face spattered with blood. "My turn," he smirked, and he pointed his finger out like a pistol. "Bang."
The ensuing ki blast went through the woman's stomach and she sank to her knees. He slowly swaggered up to her as the two little boys, hugging each other in terror, tearfully cried out for their mother. He stopped before her and placed a hand on either side of her head, forcing her to look up at him. He wiped the trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth with a bloody, gloved thumb, the pointless act simply smearing more blood across her cheek. He smirked suggestively. "Seems even a queen knows her true place," he chuckled. Her expression was one of agony and helpless fear for her children as he looked up to the boys again. "Lesson number 2, kids: the weak die." He casually broke her neck.
"MAMA!" they screamed hysterically, tears streaming from their blue eyes.
Vegeta felt his heart twist before numbness quickly overcame him, and a smug smile tugged at his lips. "Welcome to the world, boys." He raised a glowing palm to them. "Third and final lesson," he intoned, his voice dropping along with his smile. "Death can be a mercy." He fired.
Vegeta turned away from the two small, burning corpses and began to leave. He stopped when he noticed the blood-slick royal medallion lying on the floor. He bent over and picked it up, running an errant thumb over its surface as he turned it over. It was probably worth a few credits on the black market. Tightening his fist around it, he strode out of the room.
Vegeta did not know how much time had passed as he lay there naked on the icy cave floor, reliving his darkest memories all over again. He had killed so many families just like that one in similar fashion. Thousands. All of them lumped in with the billions upon billions of other lives he took in purges and planetary annihilations. Back then, he never felt remorse; unconsciously, he didn't allow it. After he settled down on Earth, however…after he found himself with a family of his own…the remorse would creep in when he'd awaken from his many nightmares.
Ever since the destruction of his planet he had numbed himself to emotional pain. After a while, he managed to convince himself that he was impervious to his emotions, but they were there. Even when he didn't feel anything, they were chained deep within him, waiting to be unleashed. Unconsciously transmuting his captive pain into rage, he channeled it into all his battles and physical training. It was in battle that he could lose himself and distance his mind from painful thoughts.
That was not an option now. It felt as if that blade of ice was still lodged in his heart. After reviving the memories and their emotional agony, Tosho had left behind an invisible weight in his chest. It was siphoning all the strength from his body, diverting the energy instead to his now overworked mind. In this catatonic state, Vegeta could do nothing. His old memories resurrected, they trudged about in his head like the walking dead to feast upon his brain.
As Frieza's soldier he carried out the tyrant's orders, but he quickly learned to revel in the tasks given to him. It was the only time he felt powerful and in control. Frieza had taken everything from him and yet…Vegeta emulated him. Yes, he did. He hated that man, but he also admired him. He wanted to be like him. That was what true power looked like: being afraid of nothing and answering to no one. Frieza commanded an army larger and more powerful than any other in the universe. Power like that meant never being subjugated. Frieza had been a part of Vegeta's life far longer than his father had. For all intents and purposes, Frieza was his father figure.
Frieza sat in his levitating chair, a glass of wine in hand as he gazed out at the Planet Luscep through the immense viewport. The purge had gone well; the rebellion had been quelled, and in addition the planet yielded a number of valuable resources. He returned his attention to the holographic display before him, swiping through the pages. Per his request, Frieza had received the performance reports on the promising up and coming individuals assigned to the mission.
He chuckled a little upon reading Vegeta's report. At 17 standard cycles of age, Vegeta had an unparalleled thirst for carnage and an incredible talent for perpetrating it. His already violent appetites had exploded with the onset of his adolescence, and they only continued to grow. Still, he was becoming increasingly recalcitrant and duplicitous. Frieza continued to read the report, snorting a little in amusement.
"My, my. He leveled the Luscepian forces and their alliances almost completely on his own. He even went so far as to hunt down the royal family himself. Hm. That was certainly not his responsibility, but I do admire the incentive." Frieza had intended to make an example of King Chevalo and his family, torturing all four of them before dismantling them piece by piece, but what was done was done.
Frieza continued to swipe through the holographic report. "Hm. The Luscepian Royal Chain of Office is missing, is it?" He chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. "Hm, hm. Pretty audacious and sloppy of the little monkey. The fool boy doesn't think I know he's committed theft before? Hmph, apparently not. Sometimes I think I've pampered him too much." Frieza tsked. "These simian races always seem to go through these annoying little phases when transitioning to adulthood."
Frieza's bemused expression slowly turned into a frown as his eyes became distant in thought. Frieza allowed his favorite little pet to get away with a lot, but he always had his eye on him. If it became apparent that Vegeta was pushing his boundaries too far, Frieza saw to it that he was corrected. The theft was a trivial matter. Taking it upon himself to kill the royal family was insubordinate, but not egregious. Those matters were not what concerned him. No, It was the tapped conversation Frieza had received after the purge. Via a private frequency, the little sneak had engaged in some idle chit-chat with his cohorts about becoming the strongest in the known universe. A boy's fantasies. But, still…
As much as Frieza denied it - even to himself - he harbored some concern for the Super Saiyan legends he had heard about from the now dead culture. Those legends were a contributing factor in his decision to subjugate Planet Vegeta before he decided to eliminate the possible threat altogether. It was when King Vegeta had lead an attack on his ship in a foolish effort to take back his son that Frieza followed through on the decision.
If any of the Saiyans could have risen up to overthrow him, to wield the power of the Super Saiyan, it would have been their little prince. At the time, the boy had already exceeded any of the adult Saiyans on the planet in strength. Frieza could have killed the child outright all those cycles ago. Had Vegeta been an adult he would have done so without hesitation. However…a child was malleable. It would have been a shame to let such talent go to waste. He could cultivate that raw power in the boy to serve him and the Planet Trade Organization while exerting his influence over his still-growing mind. Vegeta would become his pet project, his little protege, and the boy would learn his place.
Frieza took a sip of his wine. It seemed it was again time to reinforce his authority over the boy. He sighed. "It's important to correct a child when the situation calls for it, after all. Coupled with his increasingly rebellious behavior, his little conversation with his underlings is borderline treasonous." Frieza would not reveal the true motivation. Letting on that he harbored concerns about the prince's potential to become The Legendary would only serve to bolster the boy's confidence. No, Vegeta's little transgressions would provide a sufficient smoke screen. He reached up to his scouter and called for an audience with the Saiyans.
The three Saiyans entered Frieza's command center. They simultaneously each dropped to a knee, one fist to the floor as they bowed their heads in deference. Frieza smirked. "Excellent work on the purging of Planet Luscep, gentleman. You two monkeys can leave now, I would like a word alone with your better."
Nappa's head snapped up. "What? What'd you call us in here for?" Vegeta's immense body guard had been fully expecting a bonus for services rendered, what with the way Frieza had called them in and praised them.
Frieza's smirk remained fixed in place. "I suggest you watch your tone, ape." Nappa quickly rose and took a step forward, fists clenched.
Vegeta, still genuflecting on the floor, glanced up at the giant Saiyan that was already losing his cool. "Shhh! Shut up, Nappa! Do as he says!"
"Now, Nappa!" He glanced at Radditz. "You too, get out," he said with a flick of his head to the doorway behind them.
Raditz rose. "Yes, my prince," they both replied as they bowed in respect, each crossing an arm over their chests. Nappa gave Frieza a lingering look before the two Saiyans left the room.
Frieza swirled the cup of wine in his hand idly, not looking at the prince still kneeling on the floor. "You may rise, Vegeta." The teenager rose as he clenched his hands at his sides, his mouth set in a hard line. "Having a little trouble controlling your men?" Frieza asked casually.
"No, my lord. They just...get over-excited sometimes," Vegeta grumbled.
"Hm, hm," Frieza chuckled. "Yes, it can be so hard to find good help. The universe is infinite in its scope and every corner of it seems to be over populated by the inferior. It can make the exceptional truly feel lonely." Frieza paused to take a sip of his wine. "Your performance today was impressive, Vegeta: Ruthless and efficient. I will see to it that you are given a substantial bonus for your efforts."
Vegeta's hard features relaxed a bit with the rare praise, and he unconsciously stood a little taller as a sense of pride overcame him. He tipped his head in gratitude, his intense eyes never leaving the tyrant. "Thank you, my lord."
Frieza politely nodded in turn. He then levitated out of his floating chair and, turning his back on the prince, walked over to a bar area. He set aside his wine glass and instead pulled out two goblets carved from translucent green stone. He began to fill them both. He turned and walked back to Vegeta, a goblet full of wine in either hand.
"As a boy you were and still are heads and shoulders above the rest of your kind. You are different from them: you are intelligent and skilled, and your abilities only improve with time. You really are something of a prodigy, as far as Saiyans are concerned, anyway. Until you I had never met what I would call an intelligent Saiyan in my life. You never cease to surprise me. I am gratified that I made the decision to invest in you."
Vegeta's ego swelled a little more with the compliments, backhanded though some of them were. Frieza offered Vegeta the goblet. Disarmed, the young prince looked up at Frieza with some uncertainty. He had never received treatment quite like this from the emperor. Frieza was sharing a drink with him? What, like an equal? Frieza only nodded in encouragement, gesturing the goblet to him, and Vegeta finally accepted the proffered drink.
Frieza smiled. "You and I have much in common, Vegeta. We are two exceptional beings surrounded by fools." Frieza raised his glass for a toast. "To the lonely," he quipped, chuckling. Vegeta just stood there numbly holding his goblet. "Drink, drink, dear boy," Frieza encouraged.
Hesitating a moment, Vegeta ventured a sip before having a true drink. Frieza imbibed as well, watching the young Saiyan studiously over the rim of his glass. Vegeta swallowed the wine. "Thank you, my lord," he replied, giving a curt nod. He was beginning to get nervous. Was Frieza up to something? Was he testing him? No, that couldn't be it; Frieza was more than satisfied with his performance. His mind raced. He did swipe that medallion, though. Did he know about that? Frieza's soldiers were prohibited from helping themselves to spoils after a purge, though that didn't stop Vegeta from risking it in the past. He'd been getting away with it, too. He was beginning to wish he hadn't tried it this time…
Vegeta snapped out of his musings when Frieza spoke to him again. "Now being the intelligent person that you are, I'm sure you don't want to be associated with the likes of those two knuckle-dragging apes, do you? Those stupid monkeys are set in their barbaric ways. Destroying and pillaging what they can…no sense of order or hierarchy. That isn't YOU now is it Vegeta?"
"No, my lord," he replied evenly. Beads of sweat broke out over Vegeta's brow and he nervously took another sip. The wine was beginning to taste like bile.
"That's good to hear, Vegeta. They're complete fools," replied Frieza as he began circling the Saiyan. He stopped right behind him, and the back of the young prince's neck broke out in a cold sweat. He knocked back a good swig. He was beginning to feel like he was going to need it.
"You don't take ME for a fool, do you Vegeta?" Frieza asked, his voice dropping dangerously. Vegeta nearly choked.
"No of course not, Lord Frieza," he sputtered, wiping his chin with the back of a gloved hand while he suppressed his coughing. He was feeling sicker by the second.
Frieza resumed circling Vegeta like a predator sizing up its prey. He stopped to stand in front of him again. "Really? So you're not a thief?"
Vegeta's face paled. Then, he winced in pain and his hand went to his stomach.
"The wine not agreeing with you, Vegeta?"
Vegeta looked up at him in surprise when another stabbing sensation ripped through his midsection and his knees buckled. He gasped and began to double over, his teeth gritting in rising pain as he began to lose his grip on the cup.
Frieza swiftly took the goblet out of his weakening hand. "Here, I'll take that from you. Wouldn't want this to drop and shatter. That would destroy my set. These cups are carved from genuine nefir stone. I don't suppose you've heard of it?"
Vegeta could barely hear anything Frieza was saying, the blood that was now pounding in his ears was drowning out everything else. He groaned as he stumbled back a bit before collapsing to his knees, his arms wrapped tight around his stomach as he lowered his face to the floor.
Frieza continued. "When the minerals in the stone come in contact with certain compounds..say, that found in alcohol, it releases a toxin. For physically exceptional, highly evolved species such as myself it merely enhances the effects of the wine. For more inferior species however, it can be fatal."
Vegeta gasped in agony before screwing his eyes shut. His stomach lurched, and he threw up red wine onto the floor. A sharp pain lanced through his head and he continued to vomit as his nose began to bleed. The bleeding quickly becoming a relentless torrent as he completely emptied the contents of his stomach, the red wine giving way to blood. The blood was now gushing from his nose with every uncontrollable dry heave. His stomach felt as though it would implode and his head would split.
Frieza calmly set aside the two goblets before clasping his hands behind his back. He regarded the convulsing Saiyan impassively. "Yes, a fine performance from you today, Vegeta, but it was not your duty to execute the royal family. Your duty is to follow my orders. Understand?"
"Yes, Lord Frieza," Vegeta wheezed before heaving again.
"Where is the item you stole, Vegeta?"
Vegeta made no attempt to deny the theft. "It's in our barracks, under my bunk," he ground out, his teeth clenched in pain.
"I'm glad you decided to show some kind of sense. I meant it when I said you are intelligent, Vegeta. I was sincere when I said you were different from those other monkeys. You are stronger, more skilled, smarter. Superior in every way. I speak the truth when I say that we both have some things in common. But…you are not on the same level as I, understand? At the end of the day you are only a Saiyan. The Saiyans were an inferior race. That is why they are extinct. I outrank you in intelligence and cunning. I outrank you in fortitude, and I outrank you in sheer power, physical prowess, and skill. Is that perfectly clear now?"
"Yes, my lord," Vegeta panted, his now pale face coated in a sheen of sweat.
"Remove your armor."
Shaking, Vegeta looked up as the blood continued to stream from his nose. "What?" he choked, blood bubbling from his mouth.
Frieza glared impatiently. "I won't have good equipment destroyed."
Vegeta realized Frieza's disciplinary action was far from over. Slowly, painfully, he pushed himself up and shakily unfastened the armor. He tossed it aside, leaving him in his blue uniform.
Frieza approached to stand over the kneeling Saiyan. "You're going to benefit from this; therefore this can hardly be considered a punishment, even though your transgressions make you deserving of one," he spoke as he gently removed the scouter from Vegeta's left ear. Frieza tossed it aside before turning back to the shuddering Saiyan. "That is one of the most miraculous things about Saiyans…how you and your kind become stronger after near-death. While painful, you will ultimately be stronger for it, my pet. I will help make you one of my most powerful soldiers."
Frieza beat Vegeta nearly to death even as his organs began to shut down from the effects of the poison. It had not been the first time he was beaten to within an inch of his life, and it would not be the last. "To aid you in reaching your potential," Frieza would say. Aside from capitalizing on a Saiyan's innate physiological ability to become stronger after surviving near death, Vegeta knew that Frieza was demonstrating to the Saiyan just how strong he was. For a long time it quashed from his young mind any notion of overthrowing the tyrant. Without words, Frieza told him exactly what would happen if he ever dared defy him.
After all those years living and working under Frieza's influences, he hadn't even realized how much like him he had been becoming. Vegeta had come from a bloodthirsty culture, one that reveled in war and victories won on the battlefield. Frieza and his army had been no different; his influence was almost inseparable from the ways of the Saiyan race that had already been instilled in him as a child. What Vegeta had failed to begin noticing, however, was how he had gradually come to despise his own dead race. Frieza called them stupid monkeys. When Vegeta looked at his only surviving Saiyan cohorts, Nappa and Radditz, he found himself agreeing. They were stupid: stupid, reckless, impulsive animals. They claimed that they swore their allegiance to the sole surviving heir to the Saiyan throne. However, on the battlefield, his commands often fell upon deaf ears. When lost in the throes of battle, they listened to nothing.
As he grew older, he held onto the title of "prince", that title that made him feel superior to others and over his dead race, but he felt no fealty or responsibility to his kind. They were gone. Dead. Dead because they were weak, and the weak deserved to die. He was not weak; he would not be one of them. He would worry about his own survival. He would play the game and live for the day that he would wrest control of Frieza's empire from him. That was all that mattered. He no longer gave a shit about his dead race. His sense of vengeance and honor would be solely and completely for himself. The callousness and indifference to his race and his culture only grew with time as he sought to be more like the all powerful Frieza, and he continued to distance himself from the two idiots that only made him feel ashamed of himself. He was embarrassed to be considered one of them.
By the time Raditz died on Earth, Vegeta truly felt nothing. When Nappa, who noticed Gohan's power, suggested they could resurrect the Saiyan race with their own hybrids, Vegeta had scoffed. He had meant it when he said he didn't want half-Saiyans around that could overpower him. That was exactly what Frieza had feared. No, absolute power was what Vegeta wanted. He would serve no one ever again, least of all his worthless, undeserving people. His father had handed him over to Frieza to preserve their people and their planet. As far as he was concerned, It wasn't just his father but they that ensured his slavery under the Cold Empire.
On Earth, Nappa's persistent bull-headedness as he battled the Z Senshi nearly pushed Vegeta's patience - already stretched thin over the years - to the brink. That dumb fuck NEVER listened. Nappa finally deferred to Vegeta's orders to cease his fight with Kakarot only to turn around and deliberately antagonize the Earth Saiyan by attacking his son and friend. Nappa got his back broken by his opponent through his own stupidity. Vegeta had become gripped completely with a coldness that had been stalking him for years. That overgrown monkey had ignored his commands for the last time. His heart was frozen when he gripped his fallen comrade's hand, outstretched in a plea for help. It was without a second thought that he threw him into the air and, in an impulsive rage, disintegrated his body with a powerful ki blast. He brutally brushed aside the expression of shock and betrayal on his life-long subject's face, numbing himself. He never dwelled on it.
…Not until he was brought back to life after dying on Namek.
Frieza destroyed what he had created. As Vegeta lay dying in the Namekian soil, he finally saw with torturous clarity that the heir to the Saiyan throne had died a slow death long ago under Frieza's influence. He had lost his mind. He realized, too late, that he had become Frieza himself: a tyrant that looked down his nose at the Saiyan race. After Vegeta was revived by the Dragon Balls, he later came to realize that a part of him was left dead on Namek, now dust on the solar winds. He was grateful for that. It was sobering to realize that his hated rival was the one to begin reviving his Saiyan pride during the course of events on Namek. It was Kakarot who renewed his faith in the tales of The Legendary. Kakarot, ignorant Earther though he was, turned out to be a true Saiyan. The Saiyan prince, meanwhile, had been twisted into an image of the Saiyan people's oppressor.
Vegeta lay on his left side, his hand still over his heart and his arm wrapped tightly around his trembling body. His eyes drifted closed. Nappa, he thought morosely. I'm sorry.