Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ In Hell ( Chapter 15 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

In Hell

Touketsu stood alone in a field of blackness, his skin ghostly white once more. The light faded from the strange stone in his chest, leaving it the dark, red-purple of a garnet. Finally, he collapsed onto his knees, his arms hanging weakly at his sides. Panting, he stared at nothing. Then, a dark, fanged grin began to tug at Touketu's lips. He snickered in disbelief. He held his hands up and looked at them in amazement, his laughter developing into hysterical glee.

That powerThat power. It was absolutely incredible. He had never felt anything like it before. The power he wielded as a beast had absolutely nothing on that. Additionally, it was now paired with something he'd never had: freedom.

There was no Zhernobog left to dictate his moves and direct his energy; it was all his. It was only his. And to think he had been afraid of being without that false family? Afraid of having full command over himself? Ridiculous. Before that sword was plunged into his heart however, the notion had been unthinkable. It seemed more than Zhernobog and his brethren had died in those fires; his old self died as well. Touketsu snorted, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "Good riddance," he sneered.

What to do now? Why, he could do whatever he wanted. Zhernobog's army was still creeping across this planet. Tearing apart that lying, crowned bastard and his soldiers had been absolutely delicious, and far from being sated Touketsu wanted more. He could continue to indulge in his revenge and hunt the vermin down for the sheer satisfaction of it.

"Then what of you, Super Saiyan?" Touketsu murmured to himself, his eyes sliding off to the side. Goku hadn't been able to kill a single Kagemazoku soldier, something that Touketsu could now boast doing with ease. "You will be next - if I don't find you first. We have a score to settle, you and I. Hn. I suppose I should thank you - right before I tear you apart as I did my brothers." He chuckled in anticipation as he looked back to the hands that wielded that dark power, flexing them. Then, his smile began to fade. Those white hands…the black nails. His clawed hands curled into fists, and his arms began to tremble as his gaze grew distant. He again saw similar hands holding him by damaged armor, ready to strike him down.

"Goodnight, sweet prince."

Frieza. The moment Zhernobog's sword was plunged into his heart he had been flooded with a lifetime of tortured emotions: hatred, fear, despair, anguish. As he sat alone in the dark and quiet, now ruminating on the one called Frieza, other dormant emotions slowly awakened to creep out from the shadows of his consciousness. They were strangly conflicting; there was a sense of…admiration? Ambition? Touketsu lowered his eyes and frowned in confusion. One thing was for certain; the powerful, insatiable desire for revenge against this creature eclipsed all else: more than revenge against Goku, more than the Kagemazoku.

He became aware of a weight that was growing in his chest, drawing all his senses inward as a cold hatred gripped him. The spreading cold within grew in intensity. It felt familiar…very familiar. It was something that had been a constant before he cut ties with his master forever: a power experienced between worlds. His eyes snapped wide when he was hit with a sudden recollection from what seemed another life. They were the words of his former master:

"Combined with your own individual ki, your power is capable of piercing through dimensions."

A smirk tugged at his lips. "Is that so, Zhernobog? Well, thank you for your guidance my king," He chuckled sarcastically. "From now own though, I think I'll be using it for my own objectives."

Slowly, he rose and stood up from the dead earth, his reptilian tail lashing once behind him. His smile melted into an expression of steely resolve. In the silence and darkness, he focused on a single point, a solitary objective in his mind: Destroy Frieza. He lifted his right hand out before him, stretching outward. He focused his thoughts on Frieza, while allowing the pain and rage attached to the creature to pulse throughout his body. It took a few minutes, but the heavy, icy sensation throughout his limbs increased. Then, the cold grew so great it started to actually burn.

The shadow began to creep over Touketsu's skin. The ultraviolet energy pulsed once more through the scar-like markings on his face, shoulders, and biceps, slowly at first before quickening in tempo as the dark ki circulated throughout his body. The aura of dark light reappeared, and the strange stone in his chest began to glow and pulse with rising power. His aura burst into the dripping fire, the flames rolling off of his body before a concentration of the energy manifested over his outstretched hand. The dripping blue and purple flames began to swirl about his hand before whipping into a vortex.

At last, the shadow receded from his body and traveled up his hand to become a black hole at the center of the vortex. Touketsu's eyes widened in anticipation and he focused all his attention on destroying his hated target. Gritting his teeth, he ignored the trembling in his arm and the sensation of his heart being torn in two as the whirling vortex continued to widen in circumference around his hand until it became the size of a large doorway. Then, the palm-sized black hole at the center punched through the atmosphere before widening to the edges of the vortex. It stabilized.

Touketsu lowered his arm, his penetrating gaze fixed on the twisted landscape framed by the whirling dark fires of the entrance. Beyond, lay the spiked forests of Hell.

"Frieza," He hissed. "I'm coming for you."

Toukestu stepped through the portal. It retracted behind him in a whirl of indigo flames before disappearing, and the blackened landscape was plunged into darkness once more.


At the Lookout, the small group of refugees collected around the newest arrivals. Dende healed Trunks's wounds and Bulma's minor injuries before attending to Goku while Bulma and her son tearfully reunited with her parents. Everyone gathered around immediately began asking Goku questions when he held his hands up.

"Everyone, just a second." The Saiyan looked to his old friend, and he could tell by her expression that she knew something about the situation. He shook his head in bewilderment. "Bulma, just what happened while I was in Otherworld? When did this happen?"

Krillin shifted Marron in his arms. "Goku, what are you talking about?" he asked before he and the others look quizzically to Bulma.

Bulma's brow furrowed, and she looked around to her friends. "We found him…he was that animal in Satan City." There was a ripple of surprise throughout the group as she returned her attention to Goku. "He went missing almost a year ago," she said, drawing Trunks close. "I didn't know if he was alive or dead or what. The others couldn't sense him. We searched for him with no luck before I started gathering the Dragon Balls. I thought maybe I could wish him back if something had happened to him, but I…" Her voice trailed off. Goku and her transformed husband had been embroiled in battle the last she saw of them. She looked up at her long time friend, almost afraid to ask. "Goku…is he-"

"He's alive, Bulma," he cut in before somberly amending, "The last I saw him, anyway. I can't pinpoint his ki. There was something strangely distant about it even when I was standing right next to him. When I realized you all were still in danger I left to IT you all here."

"You left him?" Bulma asked, incredulous.

Goku looked remorseful. "I'm sorry, Bulma. It was a snap decision. The leader of those things came back and, well, Vegeta seems to be loyal to them." Standing behind Bulma, Yamcha's mystified expression turned grim before he looked regretfully over to his ex.

When Goku saw the dismay on Bulma's face, he elaborated. "But, I don't think he's really conscious of it. I think he's possessed or brainwashed or something. He called himself "Touketsu", I think it was. He didn't remember anything - not his name, not me, nothing. I tried to jog his memory, once I could get him to stop fighting me, anyway. It seemed to be working a little, but then those demons arrived."

Standing nearby, Gohan inwardly allowed himself to rejoice a little over the good parts of the news; after nearly a year they had managed to find Vegeta. The situation wasn't ideal, but he was sure they'd be able to help him. He'd be all right. Vegeta was nothing if not a survivor.

Trunks piped up. "Well we gotta go help him! What are we waiting for?!"

"Trunks, no!" Bulma said, turning to her son. You're staying right here. You almost got killed!

"You would have too if I wasn't there!" Trunks bit back.

"That's enough out of you, mister!" She shouted, sternly pointing a finger in his direction. "You're on a timeout." While Bulma fumed over Trunks's disrespect, she nonetheless couldn't deny his logic. Still, as a mother she wasn't about to willingly let her 8 year old son fight an army of indestructible demons. Losing Vegeta a year ago was hard enough. She wasn't about to lose her son, too.

"I'll find him Bulma, I will," Goku insisted as he put a hand on her shoulder. "Hopefully he'll be willing to listen and maybe come with me to the Lookout."

"Dad, do you know what those things are?" Gohan cut in.

"No," he replied, turning to his eldest. "King Kai seemed to recognize their energy though, and It's a good thing he could because I can't feel them at all. Super Saiyan energy seemed to be the only thing that really had any effect on them - it seemed to slow them down. I can't explain it, but for some reason it's enough to destroy them now. They're still out there, but something's weakened them. We're going to take advantage of that."

Goku powered up to Super Saiyan 3 before the stunned eyes of everyone there. "They could well be crawling across the entire planet, and I can do more damage this way," he said with a confident smirk.

Gohan's jaw hung open in complete awe over what his father had achieved. "So that's what you've been up to all this time," Gohan mumbled in respect. The level of power his father had attained was beyond incredible. He never thought there could be anything beyond Super Saiyan 2. His father had yet again made him question if there were limits to anything.

Goku looked to his eldest son. "Gohan, you and Goten clean up the cities and countrysides here." He then looked to Bulma. "We'll need Trunk's help, too."

"What?!" Bulma exclaimed, dismayed. Trunks looked hopefully from Goku to his mother. After her initial reaction, Bulma reconsidered. Gohan and Goten were going, and they needed Trunks's help. Seeing Bulma's indecision, Goku offered "He can do this, Bulma."

Bulma chewed her lower lip as she grappled with her indecision. She looked back at the urgent expression on the face of her oldest friend before looking back at her son, his face brimming with hope and steely determination. Finally, she relented. "Ok." She held up a finger to her son in warning. "Trunks, you be sure to listen to Gohan, got it?"

Trunks nodded. "Ok, Mom, I will. I'll be careful, I promise."

Bulma straightened, crossing her arms as she schooled her tense features. She was so worried about him. "All right then," she said with a nod.

"I'm coming too," Piccolo rumbled as he looked to Gohan. He was deeply troubled that he had been unable to assist his protege earlier. He wasn't going to let that happen again. "Even with these things weakened I don't know how much help I can offer, but at the very least I can spot these two if needed." he said, nodding to the two youngest and most inexperienced Saiyans of the group.

Goku nodded in agreement and was turning to leave with them when Bulma caught him by the arm. He stopped and looked over to his friend expectantly. "I'm counting on you, Goku."

He turned to her completely. "We'll look after Trunks, Bulma. And we'll find him - don't worry," he said. He gave her any easy smile before his face brightened considerably. "And hey, our boys are Super Saiyans already! That's something."

Bulma forced a smile. "Yeah. Trunks and Goten are a pair, that's for sure. When Trunks ascended Goten naturally wanted to keep up. Those two are so competitive." She sniffed a little and smiled in spite of herself, shaking her head. "Saiyans."

Goku chuckled, giving Bulma a warm smile. "Vegeta must have been a good teacher." His brow furrowed in bewilderment when Bulma's face cracked, her facade of strength crumbling. Goku immediately pulled her into a hug. He couldn't remember ever seeing his old friend look so distraught.

Bulma broke down. "We missed him. We missed him so much," she sobbed, embracing her friend tightly back. "Trunks ascended soon after he disappeared, he was so upset," she shuddered against him, rambling now. "Vegeta was trying to teach him. He pushes so hard. Too hard, the idiot." She drew in a shaky breath and composed herself before pulling away. She looked off to the side, pulling her jumbled thoughts and emotions together. "He was in such a dark place before he disappeared," she sniffed. "He was a good husband. He was a good father." She shook her head mirthlessly, a small trembling smile quirking the corner of her mouth. "Back when I first met him I never thought him capable of being either of those things, much less with me in the equation." She looked back up at Goku, her glistening eyes imploring. "Please, please promise me you'll bring him back."

"I will," Goku said without hesitation, his expression resolute."I promise I will."


The atmosphere was thick with an eerie gray mist. Intermittently in the distance, the occasional cry of agony or the insane gibbering of some unseen ghoul could be heard. The twisting, barbed branches of the Forest of Needles spread out for miles, home to all manner of demon and condemned soul. One such demon looked very much at home, though it was not of that world.

A pair of feet that looked like those of a theropod stalked across the gray forest floor before coming to a stop. Touketsu looked up and sniffed the stagnant air laced with the pungent scent of decay. He hoped that he could remember what the tyrant had smelled like so he could more easily track him down. He stopped and looked around, taking in the strange surroundings of the dead-looking world. There was something vaguely, teasingly familiar about it. It wasn't a place he would have visited while he still worked for the Kagemazoku; if it was, everything here would have been imprisoned within the dark ice that was the demons' hallmark. Touketsu shrugged it off. He was having a lot of so-called memories lately, after all.

Through the forest overgrowth he could see the pale gray of the overcast sky as some otherworldly corvid croaked in the distance. It was cool and damp here, and a thick, low-lying fog creeped across the land. In the distance there was a mountain range shimmering with countless giant needles in the diffused light. The landscape was choked with twisted iron trees and winding vines, adorned with foliage as sharp as razor blades. Here and there were slews and small ponds of stinking, congealed blood, stagnant and dark red in color.

"Where are you, Frieza?" he muttered to himself. Doubtless, this place was enormous. He had focused his efforts so exclusively on Frieza however that he convinced himself that he should have opened a portal close to where that monster resided.

"Now this is an oni I have not yet laid eyes on. Smaller than the others, to be sure."

Startled, Touketsu whirled in the direction of the reedy voice that punctured through the still air. He quickly lowered his body in preparation to fight.

After a tense moment, Touketsu called out. "Frieza! Show yourself!"

"Now you know me, but I don't believe I'm familiar with you. It's considered good manners to introduce oneself, you know."

Touketsu grit his teeth. "You know me, creature," he ground out, malice dripping with every syllable. "And I now know enough about you! Show yourself! Or are you too much of a coward?"

Suddenly Frieza phased in behind Touketsu. Touketsu whirled around in surprise before gathering his bearings again.

Frieza stood before Touketsu in his perfect form. His alabaster arms were crossed over his chest as his red eyes gazed impassively up at this newcomer that claimed they had a history. A halo hovered over the tyrant's head.

Touketsu masked his surprise with a menacing snarl. Frieza was dead? Where the hell was he? Would he even be able to kill a dead man? His mind racing, he felt his body begin to swiftly seize up. It was the rage towards this being that enabled him to open a portal to this strange place. Now that he was at last standing before him, he began to feel the other powerful emotion attached to the tyrant:


It was as though he was preprogrammed to react this way. Touketsu swallowed, and to his dismay he felt a creeping, chilling sense of self doubt spread throughout his limbs. It was a gripping iciness that was very different from the burning cold that heralded his power. It had taken every ounce of his concentration to create a portal; Was he capable of channeling the necessary power for battle when his body and mind were behaving this way? Zhernobog was no longer controlling him, yet if felt like something still was…

Frieza looked up at the creature, studying him for a moment. Then, his cool features gave way to dawning recognition. "Vegeta?"

There was that name again. Touketsu was becoming more curious about that person - the person he apparently once was. But he'd be damned if he would ask this demon. He said nothing.

"It is you isn't it, Vegeta?" Frieza said in awe. He looked him up and down. "My, my," he whispered. A small, satisfied smile spread over Frieza's lips. "You certainly have taken after me boy, haven't you?"

"My name is Touketsu," he spoke evenly. "I don't know who Vegeta is, but I know enough about you to justify tearing you apart."

Frieza arched a brow at this. "Touketsu, hm? Well, that is a name worthy of my lineage."

Suddenly blinded by surprising rage, Touketsu lunged at Frieza with a roar. Frieza easily sidestepped him and slammed an elbow hard into the back of his neck, sending him flying forward. Touketsu's vision greyed out momentarily as he landed directly into one of the many small blood ponds that pock-marked the landscape. Everything became muffled around Touketsu as his hearing and sight were obfuscated by the cold, stagnant blood. After a moment his head breached the surface as he gasped in a lungful of the damp, cool air, coughing and sputtering as he did. Blinking and grimacing, he slicked his saturated hair back before bringing a hand down over his face to wipe the blood off. There was laughter behind him. He angrily whipped his head in its direction, his sodden mane sending an arc of blood through the air.

"My goodness, that out of practice? Your new form hasn't helped much with your sense of fighting discipline, Touketsu-Vegeta," Frieza mocked. "How disappointing."

Touketsu growled, bristling in skyrocketing fury for being humiliated and mocked by the object of his profound hatred. Without his awareness the shadow cast over his skin for a moment as the dark light pulsed once throughout before disappearing. Frieza scowled at the strange display when Touketsu suddenly launched out of the pool of blood with a furious scream, bounding over to Frieza in two leaps. The tyrant barely had time to react.

Touketsu's animal rage had kicked in to temporarily overshadow his self doubt. Falling back on familiar fighting tactics, Touketsu struck him in the face hard with a clawed hand. The pale lizard went skimming and bouncing over the blood pools like a skipping stone. Touketsu then leapt after him and nailed a kick to the still airborne Frieza's gut with a clawed foot, sending him flying far towards The Forest of Needles.

Frieza recovered mid-air and performed a backflip before landing to the ground. He skid backward several feet before dropping to one knee, barely avoiding the deadly spikes of the forest behind him. A second later the black-haired demon landed heavily in front of him on all fours before standing upright.

"You were saying, bastard?" a deep voice growled. Frieza looked up. Looming over him with his tail lashing angrily from side to side, Toukestu looked absolutely hellish. His pale face and body were streaked all over with dark, dripping blood, and his long black hair was plastered to his shoulders and back with the congealed gore.

Expressionless, Frieza flew straight up into the air to levitate several hundred feet above him.

Touketsu blinked and looked up in surprise. What? How many of these bastards can fly?! Touketsu planted his feet firmly in the ground and attempted to summon his dark energy. He was able to do it before; he had to do it now.

Frieza was way ahead of him. With the speed of a seasoned warrior, Frieza gathered a large death ball over his head and immediately launched it downwards at Touketsu.

Touketsu gasped. He aborted his attempts to gather his energy and bounded out of the way, but he was not able to clear the point of impact in time. The exploding ball of energy tore up the land, throwing Touketsu off his feet and forward into the Grove of Iron Trees. He brought his arms up over his face just before he went tumbling end over end through them, their leaves of razors shredding his flesh to ribbons.

Upside down, his back finally connected with the base of a metal tree trunk and he dropped on his head an undignified heap. After a moment he pulled himself up from his prone position with some difficulty before glancing up over his shoulder, a pained grimace etching his face. The winding branches of the Iron Trees partially covered the sky above him. He cautiously stood, his eyes scanning for Frieza and his ears pricking up as he strained his hearing.

"Forget how to fly, Vegeta?"

Touketsu whirled around in the direction of the voice. Frieza hovered 20 feet above the gnarled tree limbs before unleashing a volley of ki blasts. Touketsu reflexively leapt up onto the limbs of the nearest tree and continued to bound from one to the other, higher and higher through the trees as he flanked Frieza. Touketsu's crimson gaze did not stray from Frieza as he bounded upwards to his target, ignoring the pain inflicted by the trees' razor leaves that lacerated his hands and feet as he climbed.

He moved so quickly that Frieza did not realize that his target had moved. Touketsu suddenly leapt out of the grove and flew directly into Frieza with such force that they both went sailing horizontally before they descended back down through the Iron Trees. They crashed downward, now both being slashed by the razor-sharp foliage. Frieza landed hard on his back, Touketsu on top of him. The demon prince immediately laid into him, raining down blow after blow from his clawed hands. Completely unhinged by a beastly wrath, he showed no signs of slowing down. As he spiraled further down into his berserker rage, the shadow began to creep over his body. Suddenly, Frieza brought a hand up against Touketsu's stomach and fired.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion: Touketsu gasped, blood flying from his mouth as the ball of energy drove into his gut and blasted him into the air. The shadow that had cloaked his body disappeared on contact, having absorbed and dissipated much of the blast's power. If it hadn't, the point-blank attack could have punched right through him.

His back finally slammed into an iron tree, one of its twisting, pike-like limbs skewering him straight through the left shoulder. Touketsu screamed out in surprise and pain. Reflexively, he grasped onto the thick, metal tree limb in an effort to break it, wrench his shoulder free - something. Impaled and dangling some 15 feet above the ground, his clawed feet scrabbled against the slippery metal of the trunk behind him, unable to gain purchase. The blood flowing from his shoulder merely increased with every futile effort of his struggles, and Touketsu screamed again, his voice growing ragged with frustration and pain.

No, no, not like this. Damnit! He couldn't harness his scattered thoughts, couldn't summon the energy that had liberated him from Zhernobog Daimao. He grimaced in pain and rising desperation when he ventured to look down, his struggling slowing to a stop. Frieza was now standing. He casually wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his knuckle, his burning red gaze never leaving Touketsu. He looked completely unfazed after their brief scuffle; it was as though the tyrant was simply testing him the entire time.

Frieza crossed his arms over his chest and languidly walked up to the tree where Touketsu hung. Touketsu kept his eyes trained on the approaching demon, waiting in dread for what Frieza would do to him while he was immobilized. Frieza slowly levitated until he was eye-level with Touketsu, eyeing him cooly. Twin pairs of crimson eyes regarded each other for a moment: one cool and composed, the other burning with desperate hatred.

Frieza looked him up and down, then finally spoke. "Hm. You're fast in this new form I'll grant you that, but your strength is disappointing. After your strange little light show I expected a bit more. On top of that you fought like an undisciplined child. You were never my equal, but you were nonetheless one of my most powerful and skilled soldiers." Frieza narrowed his gaze. "Now. Whatever happened to you?"

Touketsu matched Frieza's unwavering gaze, even as the tyrant came threateningly close. He resumed his fruitless struggling but remained stubbornly silent.

He's behaving as though he was born yesterday, Frieza thought with some fascination. I can use this to my advantage. He's obviously not dead. Whatever happened to him…somehow he can traverse between the physical and spiritual planes. Very interesting indeed. "One thing is certain," Frieza went on, straightening. "You revealed to me that you have forgotten much. You obviously don't know how to fight like you used to…now that you're this "Touketsu" or whatever," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Vegeta was something of a prodigy."

Touketsu finally stopped struggling completely, and Frieza suppressed a smirk. "Curious? Vegeta was able to channel and manipulate his ki at a very young age, and even when he was just a boy his power level was extraordinary. I cared for him once, but he fell out of my favor when he openly defied me. He tried to take what rightfully belonged to me: the Dragon Balls. After I raised him, after everything I did for him, in return he betrayed me." He eyed Touketsu levelly. "Apparently, the little ingrate still resents me."

Touketsu scowled. There was the mention of those artifacts again. Vegeta had stolen them?

Frieza continued, his speech taking a conversational tone. "It was I that helped him hone his skills, you know. I once ruled an empire that reached every corner of the universe. My power was uncontested in my time…and I taught Vegeta everything he knew." Touketsu seemed to be hanging onto his every word, like a child listening to a bedtime story. Frieza supressed a smile. He had him now. "I didn't just help him hone his strength. I taught him how to use it. I taught him military tactics and fighting disciplines. I hardened his heart and his mind, and that made him a true warrior. He was very gifted. He was a part of my vast army, but unlike the other soldiers, I rather considered him something of a son." Frieza adopted a thoughtful look on his face. "Perhaps it was because he joined my ranks at such a young age. As a result, I was very involved in his training. In fact, I believe that I was as close to a father as he had."

Touketsu had scarcely taken a breath as he listened. Frieza certainly had the cowing effect of an authority figure. Regardless, it couldn't have been an amicable relationship if his instincts to hunt Frieza down were correct. Scowling, he finally asked, "You…you weren't my father?"

Frieza looked at him incredulously before throwing his head back and laughing heartily. "Oh heavens no, of course not! You really have forgotten everything, haven't you?" Touketsu fumed as Frieza continued to laugh at his expense. Finally, the tyrant composed himself, an amused smirk still affixed to his face. "No, I'm not your father." Frieza leaned in and looked Touketsu dead in the eye. "And you are not Vegeta…not anymore. You don't have his strength, and you don't have his skill. You may now be some sort of reflection of me in a literal sense, but Vegeta was my reflection in a different way - a far deeper way. He became the embodiment of everything I taught him, everything I knew. For that, I was actually rather proud…of him."

The disparaging comparison felt like a slap to the face, and Touketsu couldn't understand why. A sudden, inexplicable heaviness settled into his heart. He was surprised to feel a sensation that he had first experienced after his regression, when Zhernobog deemed him unfit for service: it was a sense of abandonment. It was rejection. This time however, it was paired with an almost painful desire for…approval. "You raised me," he finally stated in confirmation, unaware that he was now suddenly identifying with his past incarnation. Why? How? What happened to my real father?"

"He left you."

Touketsu's mouth became a thin line. He swallowed, and he couldn't understand why his throat suddenly felt so tight. After trying to maintain eye contact with Frieza he finally looked away, angry tension etching his features. He spoke carefully, so as to not give this gloating creature anymore ammunition. There was something about being in the tyrant's presence that compelled him to try to hide what he was feeling. "You're wrong," he replied, his voice thick. "I haven't forgotten everything. I know I was once a prince. If you, an emperor, weren't my father, then my true father must have been a ruler."

"That's right. He was a king."

"Was I…do you know if I was his eldest?"

"Yes, Yes you were."

"Why did he leave me then?" he demanded, his voice harsh. "If I was to inherit his kingdom then why would he have done that?"

"He must have not deemed you worthy," Frieza replied matter-of-factly. Touketsu stiffened, blinking. He continued to stare off into the vast expanse of Hell before him, the muscles in his tightly closed jaw flexing as he struggled to control his breathing. "He left you with me, and he didn't return. Now, he may not have deemed you worthy, but I did." Frieza scrutinized Touketsu's profile, almost whispering in his ear now. "You were alone then, and you're alone now, aren't you? You're like a lost pet," he spoke pityingly. A ghost of a smile tugged at Frieza's black lips. You're a dog without a master.

Touketsu swallowed and slowly looked back at him, distrust in his eyes.

"You were alone," Frieza went on, "but I raised you, and I gave you guidance. That is what you need now. I would be willing to guide you again - to develop these strange, newfound little powers of yours - if you do something for me in return."

Touketsu painfully gripped the twisted tree limb that was holding him aloft, but he was thinking about the offer. To his abject dismay, Frieza just showed him that he was no stronger than he was when he faced off against Goku. His newfound strength was locked away in abilities that he was clueless how to use. He wanted to summon that power again - that power he tasted when he scattered Zhernobog and his army to the winds. He wanted control of it, he needed it. But, would Frieza honor his end of the bargain?

"Why should I trust you?" Touketsu growled. "I may not have many memories of you, but I trust my instincts far more than you - and my instincts demanded I find you and kill you."

"Your instincts, or your emotions? Are you sure you know which one is leading you?"

Touketsu faltered momentarily before his features hardened again. "What's the difference? So what if it was my emotions? You're telling me that I had no reason at all to hate you?"

"I'm telling you that your reasons are misguided. Vegeta resented that I pushed him so, in spite of the fact that my training was exactly what shaped him into the incredible fighter he became. He was a prideful one. Arrogant. Ambitious and ungrateful. Did you not consider that it is his old drives that are pulling you along like a dog on a leash? Do you really think they are still valid to you?"

Touketsu was once again left speechless; Frieza was making far too much sense. All the anger, the fear, the outrage - were they just what Vegeta had perceived? He thought back on the vision of a merciless beating - the vision he had before Tosho was driven through his heart for the last time. Was it justified? Was Vegeta a thief? For personal gain, did he turn on the one that had helped him realize and use ahis power?

"Your emotions can lead you down dangerous paths, Touketsu," Frieza warned. "It seems you've already fallen victim to them. Vegeta had a problem with this as well. As much as I tried to teach him the folly of emotions, he could never seem to fully wrest them under his control. In spite of the strides he made as he grew older and more experienced, he would nonetheless eventually slip up. He would let his passions overtake him. He'd rush headlong into battle like a stupid animal, make sloppy mistakes…nearly die. Sound familiar? You need not repeat the same mistakes as he did, Touketsu. You have a chance at a new life. You're a new person. Perhaps you can even become a better student than he was?" Frieza gave a half-hearted shrug. "But, if you choose not to accept my offer…" He backed away slightly and raised his palm, charged with deadly ki energy, up to Touketsu's face.

Touketsu's eyes widened in alarm, and he grit his teeth as his heart raced. He couldn't see Frieza's face beyond the blazing glow of the charging ki blast, but he could hear his mocking voice.

"While I held some fondness for Vegeta before he committed treason, I have NO attachments to you. You come here with the intent to destroy me, and you think I would let that slide? I certainly don't think you would were you in my place. Hm - you will need to get in my good graces first before I teach you anything." Frieza chuckled. "And might I remind you, you desperately need the help. Otherwise, you wouldn't find yourself in this little predicament. By the way, would you mind telling me how you arrived here, Touketsu? You just decided to do the impossible and visit the Land of the Dead? I can make you a permanent resident, if you'd like."

Touketsu squinted at the charging ki blast nearly blinding him. Shit, shit! he cursed inwardly. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Frieza had the upper hand in every way. The tyrant was immensely powerful, and he had untold years of experience on him…it also didn't help that he was nailed to a damn tree. He was a fool - a complete fool to come here; his powers were as good as non-existent if he couldn't access them on command. He could either die here and now, or he could take Frieza up on his offer. Touketsu's eyes began to water from the burning glare of Frieza's gathered ki energy. He squeezed them shut, the tears spilling over his cheeks.

"Wait," Touketsu said tonelessly.

Frieza arched one smooth brow up in expectation. "Yes?" he prompted.

Touketsu took a deep breath. "What is it that you want?"

After a moment, Frieza dissipated the lethal ball of energy. "I'm glad you've seen reason," he said affably.