Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Familiar Faces ( Chapter 16 )

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

Familiar Faces

Clinging to the tree limb that still had his left shoulder impaled, Touketsu blinked with some relief when Frieza aborted the attack. Releasing a shaky breath, he grabbed onto another of the tree's limbs to his right. With a grunt he hoisted himself up a little to better distribute his weight and alleviate the pull on his shoulder.

Frieza patiently waited until he had Touketsu's full attention. "Comfortable?" He asked sweetly.

Touketsu's grimace of pain dissolved into a contemptuous glare.

"Good." Frieza clasped his hands behind his back. "Now then. What I want is to be free of this place…and return to the land of the living. The Dragon Balls are capable of bringing the dead back to life. Aside from what I have told you, are you familiar with them, Touketsu?"

Touketsu gathered his bearings. "Yes. Not long ago I spoke to someone…Goku, he called himself." Frieza's momentary surprise was quickly replaced with a scowl of hatred as Touketsu continued. "He told me that I had once fought him, and that I had come to take the Earth's Dragon Balls. From what I understand they also exist at a place called Namek."

"Goku finally returned to Earth then?" Frieza demanded. "He's living there?"

Frieza knew him? A bit confused and unnerved by Frieza's murderous tone of voice, Touketsu clarified. "Not exactly." He nodded to the halo above Frieza's head. "He's dead, as you are. He is…only visiting, apparently."

Frieza glowered. "Hm, that's rather a shame. I would have liked to have had my vengeance on that monkey."

Just how powerful was this Goku? "He bested you?" Touketsu immediately regretted his poor choice of words at the death glare he was receiving and he began back peddling. "I meant no disrespect. I only ask because he bested me in battle. He humiliated me…" Touketsu began to shake with an animosity that went far beyond their recent fight. "I …I hate that BASTARD!-"

Frieza held up a placating hand and halted Touketsu's tirade. His expression once again cool, he observed Touketsu still trembling with repressed rage. "Well, our mutual hatred of Goku is something else we have in common, I see." He crossed his arms and schooled his features - a difficult feat even for Freiza as he related the humiliating tale. "Yes. I suffered my first defeat at the hands of that ape. The coward did not finish our fight, instead fleeing for parts unknown. I went to Earth, the planet he called home, to finish what that cowardly monkey started. It was there that I met my end: I was cut down before being incinerated by some teenage, Super Saiyan punk. I expect he's still alive on Earth. If I can't have my vengeance against Goku, I WILL have my vengeance against that brat. Super Saiyans are admittedly very powerful. Therefore, I will need to be prepared. If the Earth's Dragon Balls are anything like those of planet Namek, they should be able to grant three wishes. When you bring me back to life, any remaining wishes are mine, understand?"

"Understood," Touketsu nodded eagerly.

"Very good." Frieza studied him for a moment. "Now, I suppose It would behoove us both for you to gain a little education before embarking on this mission, so I will give you some advice: do not underestimate your enemies. I suppose you've already learned that lesson though, hmm?" Touketsu looked away, utterly embarrassed. "Now, if you find yourself locked in battle with one stronger than you - for example, Goku - then you'll have to use your wits, not your strength in order to defeat him."

Touketsu growled low in his throat, bristling at the comparison between their differences in strength. Nonetheless, since the tyrant had seen fit to spare his life there was a part of him that was grateful that he had been shown his inexperience before he sought out Goku. The notion of losing to him again seemed far worse than losing to Frieza.

"Look for cues from your opponents," Frieza continued. "Study them. Anticipate what they will do. Then, circumvent them before they have the chance to act. They will likewise look for cues from you - don't give them any. Keep your emotions on a leash. If you let your emotions take the lead they can be used against you. Again, I don't think I need to point out the repercussions if you were to repeat that mistake."

Humbled, Touketsu lowered his eyes and nodded. "I've learned my lesson," he said quietly before looking back to Frieza. "I'm ready to go back to Earth's physical plane and find these Dragon Balls."

"Which brings us back to my earlier question, Touketsu: how is it that you were able to traverse planes?"

Up until recently, Touketsu had been completely unaware that he had crossed into the spirit plane. He had remembered Zhernobog's words saying that he was capable of piercing through dimensions, but he hadn't comprehended just what that entailed. He had basically managed the feat on accident, so intent on finding Frieza. He kept his answer simple. "I learned how to use my energy to open gateways through space."

Frieza smirked slightly with intrigue. "Really?" He drifted towards Touketsu, the demon prince stiffening as he neared. "Well then. You, dear boy, are going to give me a demonstration," Frieza stated, pointing into Touketsu's chest directly over the heart.

Touketsu flinched when he felt a piercing heat rip through his heart, and the coppery taste of his life's blood welled up in his mouth to choke him. He was bulldozed with a lifetime's worth of helpless regret for a pointless life beyond redemption before the muscle stopped beating altogether. He had not yet processed the chilling vision when Frieza's tail shot out to wrap around his neck. With a gasp of surprise, his blood-slick hand released the tree limb and desperately gripped the tail. He released a strangled cry as he felt the haunting agony of his vertebrae being shattered in the blink of an eye and his internal organs ruptured. With a forceful jerk, Frieza yanked Touketsu forward, freeing him of his impalement before flinging him to the ground.

"Show me," Frieza commanded harshly, still hovering in the air just behind Touketsu.

Eyes wide and struggling to get his breathing under control, Touketsu pushed himself up onto this knees with his good arm. He feverishly glanced down at his chest, fully expecting to see a smoking entry wound over his heart. Nothing. Rubbing his throat with a grimace, he looked shakily over his shoulder up at Frieza. Completely unnerved by the intense vision, he gripped his wounded shoulder as he looked away and pulled himself unsteadily to his feet. His skin prickling with anxiety now, Touketsu raised his right arm and tried to focus. However, it was as before when he found himself in the midst of battle with Frieza; he couldn't grasp his whirling thoughts, his mind haunted by the violent mental images. He swallowed and he began to tremble with exertion and something else: Frieza was right behind him. He could decide to kill him any moment while his back was turned…

"Having a little performance anxiety, are we?"

Touketsu started. He tried to keep his voice level. "I'm sure I can open one back to Earth. I just…when I came here it was the first time I had done it," he confided reluctantly. He waited with dread how Frieza would respond to his ineptitude.

Frieza only snickered. "Hm Hm. All the more reason why you need me, Touketsu. You'll have to remember what you were doing when you summoned that power, and duplicate it. Now, think back," Frieza said with a patronizing air. "What were you thinking of at that time?"

Touketsu looked up over his shoulder at Frieza, his eyes narrowing. He couldn't help himself when he hissed, "I was thinking how much I hate you."

Frieza simply chuckled. "Well then, perhaps you should think about something you hate."

Touketsu stared up at Frieza. Was he serious?

Frieza smiled glibly. "Hatred was always a powerful driving force for Vegeta. However, it is what is behind the hatred that affects results: absolute conviction. Remember this. For now, we can work with what you're familiar with. Is there anything on Earth that you hate? I'm sure you can think of something," he said, smiling.

Giving Frieza one last lingering look, Touketsu turned around and made another attempt to create the portal. He held his hand out before him. Goku. Completely overshadowing all thoughts of his oppressive brethren, his mind went to the one for which he harbored relentless, inexplicable hatred.

Then…he felt it: that searing sensation of rage that burned like dry ice. He felt the weight in his chest, and a shadow plunged his pale skin into darkness. The dark energy, like a vacuum at first, strummed within him and pulled him inward. It began to pulse through him, lighting up the markings on his face and arms. A thin corona of indigo energy wreathed his body, and the stone in the center of his chest began to glow. At last his body burst into an aura of dripping blue and purple fires, the energy traveling up his arm into a vortex around his outstretched palm. The shadow left his body and raced up his hand, punching a black hole into the atmosphere. The opening widened to the periphery of the spinning accretion disk, and a gateway was opened. Touketsu lowered his hand.

The portal had opened up right above a glowing figure that hovered mid air over the darkened landscape. It was Goku in his Super Saiyan 3 form. Touketsu had vague recollections as the Demon Oozaru after Zhernobog's mental connection was severed, and he recalled how the Super Saiyan had clobbered him straight in the eye while in that form. His lip curled in hatred.

Frieza meanwhile had smoothly disguised his outrage at the sight of this new level the Saiyan had achieved. He almost wished that Goku wasn't returning to Otherworld; He wanted his vengeance against that filthy ape. At Goku's current level of power however he doubted he would stand much of a chance. I can only assume that these Earth Dragon Balls indeed have the same properties as those of their Namekian counterparts. If they do, I certainly know what my second wish will be…"Bravo, Touketsu!" Freiza praised mockingly. Toukestu frowned in irritation. "Now remember your lessons - they could keep you alive. If you forget them, you could be killed for it. You will have then failed in the assignment I've given you. Your soul will be sent straight here…where I'll be waiting for you."

Touketsu suppressed a shudder at the threat. Then, without a word, he leapt through the portal.

Touketsu fell through the air weightlessly for a moment before landing directly on top of Goku with a snarl. So great was his hatred, Touketsu instantly fell back onto his animal impulses. His body briefly pulsing dark, he delivered a punch laced with dark energy straight to Goku's face. Goku hit the ground leaving a shallow impact crater as Touketsu pushed off of him to land on his feet not far away. Goku leapt up onto the opposite side to face his opponent.

Touketsu grappled with the powerful rage, reigning it back in as he reminded himself of Frieza's parting words. He had not left Frieza two seconds ago and already he was giving into his emotions. On sight he wanted to tear Goku apart, but the promised consequences of any reckless actions helped temper that desire; he had to improve his self control. Frieza schooled him in humiliating fashion that he was no stronger than he was upon his regression. Unless he could dip into and control that elusive power, Goku still had the upper hand.

Geez, where did he come from? Goku took in Touketsu's appearance; he was a complete mess. The white skin was almost completely concealed under cracking streaks of dried blood and grime, and the normally spiked, long hair was wilted and plastered against his shoulders and back. There were deep lacerations all over his arms, hands and feet, and there was an ugly, broad puncture wound through his left shoulder. Touketsu let it hang lifelessly to his side, not bothering to waste energy holding it up so long as they weren't fighting.

Goku then noticed the slight changes to his body; gone were the markings that adorned his chest. Just below the sternum was a garnet colored stone that was very reminiscent of that of Perfect Form Frieza. The physical changes certainly suggested that some transformation had occurred. However, Goku couldn't detect any discernible increase in power that should have accompanied it; the demon prince's ki remained strangely subdued. Nonetheless, he had apparently learned to use some energy attacks, if Goku's throbbing jaw was any indication. Goku knew from personal experience that every breakthrough came with a learning curve, so Vegeta could still well be learning how to use this new form.

Goku suddenly felt a tightness in his chest, and his hand reached up to clutch his heart. It occurred to him that perhaps Super Saiyan 3 was taxing his body too much at the moment. The questionable motives of the fundamentally changed prince demanded he stay on guard, so he'd best conserve his energy. He powered down to Super Saiyan and held his hands up in supplication.

"Vegeta, please - please listen to me. I don't know what those guys did to you, but they've been using you. They're out there, and they're destroying this world. We've been fighting-"

"They're nothing now. I cut the head off the snake."

Goku faltered. "You destroyed their leader?"

Touketsu nodded slowly, his red eyes never leaving Goku's.

"And you…still wanted to knock my block off?"

"Sorry. Force of habit," Touketsu replied crisply.

Goku lowered his hands and gave him an appraising look. He could believe him; it looked like he had been mired in quite a battle with that Zhernobog and his soldiers. He hesitated before adding remorsefully, "Vegeta, look, I'm really sorry I wasn't there. Those demons were going after other cities, our families-"

"I didn't need your help, so you can shelve your pathetic apologies," Touketsu cut him off coldly.

"Well, the least I can do is help you get healed. How about I take you to Dende's lookout? He can heal you. From there we'll figure out what to do next. Some friends are there too…maybe seeing them will help your memory some more," he said, thinking of Bulma. After a moment he asked, "You're injured right now, but do you think you can fly?"

Touketsu gripped his injured arm and glared at him, his tail lashing once behind him. He hated that he was standing before an enemy wounded as he was. Giving Goku ammunition was the last thing he needed to do, and now he was in danger of revealing another shortcoming. Hanging onto Frieza's advice, he tersely shook his head no.

For all his apparent absent-mindedness, Goku knew quite a bit about sizing up an opponent. Given Vegeta's strange new form and the glimpse into his new abilities, it was wise to know more about what he was dealing with. Vegeta's behavior was erratic and unpredictable as a result of his memory loss, and if he had gained significant power then it could be disastrous. At best Goku could be dealing with a clean slate, some recently jogged memories not withstanding. At worst, Vegeta could mentally be the same destructive alien that had first set foot on Earth. During their first battle Vegeta hadn't used flight once, and Goku seriously doubted that he simply chose not to. Seeing as how he had virtually fallen out of the sky moments ago, he may have learned how to fly somewhere along the way. If he could handle flight, then he could be capable of more.

"It's ok, I'll just use my Instant Transmission to get us over there. It's faster anyway. I'll just need to lock onto a ki signature first, and we need to be in contact. Is it all right if I put my hand on your shoulder?"

Touketsu's scowl darkened further.

Ok, he doesn't trust me. "Or, you can put your hand on my shoulder?" he suggested.

Touketsu's stern gaze didn't waver, but he slowly closed the distance between them. Without breaking eye contact he clapped his good hand onto Goku's shoulder.

Goku nodded before putting two fingers to his head, searching for Dende's ki. Covertly however, he used his telepathy to communicate to Gohan.


"Dad! How are things going on your end?"

"With Super Saiyan 3 I've taken them out quickly. I've been scanning this continent and I haven't found anymore. You?"

"Goten, Trunks, and I have been going city to city here and destroying the armies we've found there. They've spread out absolutely everywhere, but since they aren't regenerating anymore we're making fast progress. Right now the boys and Piccolo are combing the smaller townships and countrysides. We still have some work to do but it looks like things are starting to get under control.

"That's great. When you guys are ready, all of you head over to Capsule Corp. I'll be bringing Bulma back soon, and I'm sure Trunks wants to see his mom…and his dad.

'Dad - you found Vegeta?"

"Yeah…well, he found me. He's here with me now. Says he killed their leader, which may explain why we've suddenly been able to actually destroy these guys. He's wounded, so I'm taking him to Dende's Lookout to be healed. I'm going to help him as much as I can, but since some of our friends are at the Lookout too I'll need to keep a close eye on him. He's been unpredictable, and he could be a danger to others. I'm hoping that with Bulma there he might remember more. Just keep track of my ki and step in if needed. I'm going to teleport us both there.

"Ok, Dad. Be careful."

"I will, son. Let me know when you get to Capsule Corp."

"Sure thing, Dad."

"Will this take much longer?" Touketsu drawled impatiently. He tightened his grip on Goku's shoulder in warning, digging his claws in.

Goku didn't react. "Just a second more."

They both winked out of sight.


Above the ominous cloud cover and under a starry night sky, friends and family were safe from the Kagemazoku attack at the Lookout. Chi-Chi and Bulma had retired to the living quarters in the temple, confiding in their mutual concern for their sons' welfare. Videl, Mr. Satan, and Bulma's parents were with them as well. Tien and Choutzu, Yamcha and Puar, Krillin and his family, and Roshi, Oolong, and Turtle were all off in their own little groups, occupying themselves as best they could while they played the waiting game. Dende, Mr. Popo at his side, kept a grim vigil at the edge of the tower, noting the loss of life. Suddenly Goku appeared in the middle of the tiled floor, along with a demonic looking being streaked with gore.

The world around Touketsu had warped for a moment before he found himself standing on a broad, white, tiled marble floor, fields of stars overhead. The floor was circular and lined intermittently with finely trimmed trees. Twin sets of palm trees lead up to an ornate ivory and gold temple that was flanked on either side by a total of 4 minarets, and the area was illuminated by warm, gold lamp-light. Several people (…and a sea turtle and a pig and some kind of floating cat?) were clustered in several small groups. They seemed surprised by their sudden appearance. Touketsu removed his hand from Goku's shoulder to grip the arm hanging lifelessly at his side.

"Goku! What's going on?"

"Who's that?"

"Any news on those demons?"

Touketsu scanned the strangers warily, his nerves on edge. A defensive snarl began to tug at his lips as his heightened senses of smell and hearing were quickly overwhelmed. There were too many people in one place for his liking. He growled low in his throat and his tail began to lash in agitation.

Goku held his hands up in supplication. "I'll explain as best I can in a minute." He turned to the Namekian. "Dende, can you please heal him?"

"Uh…right," A bewildered looking Dende nodded in the affirmative and began to walk over to the two. Touketsu meanwhile was glancing around at the unfamiliar faces fervently. His eyes landed on a blonde woman cradling a 3 year old girl against her hip. She regarded him with impassive, ice-blue eyes. A mental image of the woman breaking his arm ripped through his head, and he clutched his injured left arm tighter.


His red eyes flared. With a sudden roar he launched himself at the woman, fangs bared and surprising everyone around him. 18's cool demeanor faltered when the creature leapt directly towards her and her little girl, and her maternal instincts kicked in. Hugging her daughter tightly to her body, she performed a spin kick that connected directly to their assailant's face.

He was propelled spinning before he landed on all fours. He dug his clawed feet into the tiles before immediately bounding back towards them, his dead arm dragging on the floor. He didn't make it far before a short man with short, dark hair barreled into him, knocking him onto his back and straddling him as he drew back his hand for a punch. Touketsu saw a flash of a similar looking but bald man with a sword to his throat. A light shadow flashed over Touketsu's' body for a moment. With a snarl of rage he caught the other's fist and crushed it. Krillin cried out in agony as Touketsu lifted him up by his hand as he got to his own feet, his tail lashing behind him.

"Krillin!" 18 shouted. She had quickly put Marron down and was rushing to her husband's aid when Goku phased in behind Touketsu and put him in a chokehold. Surprised, Touketsu dropped Krillin to the floor to grip the arm around his neck. As he struggled in Goku's grasp, Krillin scrambled back to his family.

Everyone was exclaiming in a panic while Goku tried to shout over the cacophony. "Everyone, please! Stop - just try to calm down! He doesn't remember anything!"

"Except maybe a grudge," Krillin muttered as he looked sidelong at his wife who was now holding him in a protective embrace. Dende rushed to his side to heal his broken hand.

"Who is that guy? exclaimed Oolong.

"What is he?" piped up Puar.

"It's Vegeta," Yamcha said grimly, not taking his eyes off the demonic creature Goku was desperately trying to subdue. Tien, like Krillin, had come to the same conclusion and didn't look surprised. Roshi, Oolong, Puar, and Dende however were gaping, dumbfounded. Goku and Bulma had failed to mention that; Vegeta hadn't transformed completely back from that four-legged Oozaru that showed up with those shadow demons in Satan City. Inwardly, Yamcha conceded that maybe his friends didn't want to acknowledge that themselves.

Just then, Bulma, her parents, Chi-Chi, Videl, and Mr. Satan all came running from the temple living quarters, drawn out by the commotion. They skidded to a halt; Dr Briefs stood dumbfounded for a moment, and Bunny's hands cupped over her mouth in dismay over what had happened to their missing son-in-law. Dr. Briefs began whispering gently to his wife in consolation as he pulled her close, and Bunny lay a comforting hand on her daughter's arm. Bulma however was focused completely on the demon, and she took a step forward.

Touketsu was livid now. Leaning back awkwardly in Goku's chokehold, he struggled as the panic around him further stoked his animalistic aggression. He was about to elbow Goku in the ribs with his good arm when he caught scent of something that stood out from the others… something familiar. What?

He glanced over to the small group of people that had arrived, and Touketsu caught his breath as he watched a female approach him. His struggling slowed to a stop.

The blue-haired woman.

Red eyes locked on blue, and the panic and chaos surrounding them seemed to slow and fade into the background. They studied each other, Touketsu's attention arrested completely.

Bulma gave him a small, strained smile. "Hey you," she said softly.

Touketsu had been distracted by her long enough to finally register Goku speaking to him. "Please - just try to relax. Let Dende heal you, and we'll get everything sorted out." Touketsu gripped Goku's arm and was reminded of the tail that had been wrapped around his throat, along with its owner's words: "Keep your emotions on a leash. If you let them take the lead they can be used against you."

Right. He had an agenda that needed to be addressed, but he had once again let his reactive animal nature take over his thinking completely. He needed to be smarter than this. He gave Bulma one last lingering look. He needed to be much smarter than this…

Taking a deep breath, he relaxed his grip and nodded to Goku. "All right," he replied.

After a moment, Goku carefully released him. Dende cautiously approached, more wary now than ever after the transformed Saiyan's abrupt and unwarranted attack. He suppressed a chill as he drew closer to the demonic-looking prince, his mind going back to the last day of planet Namek. "He's just like Frieza," Dende had protested to Krillin after the monk insisted he heal a mortally wounded Vegeta. "Um, if you could please kneel down," he politely requested of the looming, blood drenched figure.

Touketsu's eyes flashed at the suggestion, and for a tense moment he merely stared at the Namekian. He didn't seem to be listening to Goku who was gently encouraging him, but finally, he acquiesced and knelt to the floor. Dende swallowed as Touketsu's red eyes bore into him; he felt as though he was approaching a wild, wounded animal. He raised his hands towards him, fingers outstretched. "Just relax," he said, as much to himself as to Touketsu. Dende closed his eyes and summoned his healing magic. After a few moments, Touketsu's injuries began to heal, and the gaping wound in his shoulder at last closed. His healing finished, Dende stepped back. Bulma began to walk over to him when Yamcha grabbed her by the arm.

"Bulma," he whispered in warning.

"Yamcha, I'm going to him," she told him quietly but firmly. "It will be okay." Goku looked to Yamcha, nodding his head. Still uncertain, Yamcha reluctantly released her arm.

His wounds healed, Touketsu breathed a sigh of relief. He covertly marveled at the green being's magical abilities when he noticed the woman in the red dress approaching him from his peripheral vision. The others stepped back, and he looked up at her warily when she stopped a mere foot away. His heavy tail thumped once on the tiled floor in warning.

Bulma looked down at him with an almost pained expression. She knelt so that they were eye level, and they simply studied each other for a moment. "Do you remember anything?" she finally asked tentatively. She was harboring the faintest hope that Dende's healing abilities may have recovered his memories.

After a moment he answered quietly, "No more than I did." He looked away and slowly stood as he experimentally rotated his now healed shoulder. The others around him tensed, and Touketsu picked up on it, sneering subtly.

Bulma stood. She looked a bit deflated but her expression was soon overcome with a look of determination. She didn't want to overload him with information, but she had to start somewhere. "Well, then I'll help." He looked back at her. "Your name is Vegeta. I'm Bulma, your wife."

His brows drew together in confusion. "You're my what?"

Bulma blinked, then after a moment clarified. "We're mates." Realization dawned on his features. It was no wonder her scent arrested his attention the way it did. Bulma took a deep breath and continued. "You disappeared almost a year ago. We did everything we could to find you. I was still looking. I was beginning to think you were dead. Do you remember at all where you've been?"

After a moment he answered, "No, not really. The Kagemazoku and myself have visited countless planets, but they all seemed the same to me." He continued almost mechanically. "My purpose was to carry out the will of my master, Zhernobog, and help him bring balance to the multiverse. This world was to be cleansed next."

Dumbfounded, Bulma studied her husband. He was speaking like a different person. Just what did those things do to him? And what was this about a multiverse?

"What are you saying?" Yamcha blurted out. "So you were working for them?"

Touketsu scowled at him. "No more. I'm done with them."

Yamcha straightened and calmed himself. "Really?" He asked, disbelieving. "How did you come to that decision?"

"I learned my master was keeping secrets from me," he replied, glancing at Goku for a moment. "I chose to no longer serve him, and I killed him." He gave Yamcha a lingering look before crossing his arms and turning his attention to Goku.

"I told myself I would thank you if we were to cross paths again, Saiyan." He gave a tip of his head to Goku, his penetrating eyes never straying from his. "Thank you." His words didn't sound the slightest bit sincere.

Goku scratched the back of his head. "Um, you're welcome-"

"It's because of you that I learned a little about myself," Touketsu interrupted, straightening. "It's because of you that I questioned my place, and I finally cut ties with those lying shits," he hissed. "And, it's because of you that I learned I was more than a servant…much more." He smiled a little "So. I was a prince, was I?"

Nearly everyone present inwardly groaned. Krillin slapped a hand to his forehead while Yamcha pinched the bridge of his nose.

"A Saiyan Prince," Touketsu clarified.

Goku swallowed. Oh shit. Oh no.

"Your prince. So, why is that you haven't bowed to me yet?" He asked politely.

"Well, we were…kind of in the middle of a fight the last few times," Goku sheepishly offered as he nervously tapped his index fingers together.

"You can certainly bow now."

Tense, everyone looked to Goku. Goku took a deep breath. "Ok, Vegeta, I want you to trust me. I want you to know that everything I've told you is the truth. And…it's the truth that I've never bowed to you."

Touketsu's easy expression turned murderous. Behind Touketsu, Krillin's wide eyes were locked on Goku's as he mouthed emphatically What are you doing?! "And why is that, Goku?" The demon prince demanded.

"Even though I'm Saiyan, I was raised on Earth. Earth is my home, and its people are whom I protect. It's to Earth that I give my allegiance. You eventually came to understand that. Earth became your home too."

"He must have not deemed you worthy," Frieza whispered. Touketsu's nails dug into his biceps. Another thought occurred to him. "You called yourself a Super Saiyan," Touketsu's voice booming. "Now you didn't say as such but is it safe to assume that I could manage that transformation as well?"

Behind Touketsu, Bulma locked wide eyes with Goku and emphatically shook her head. Oh please oh please don't tell him about Super Saiyan 3!

Goku kept his answer simple. "Yes."

Touketsu studied him for a moment. The demon prince was unaware that the differing appearances of Goku's Super Saiyan transformation marked different levels of achievement, and he accepted the answer.

"Hm. Well, from what I've witnessed, your little golden transformation isn't too effective against the Kagemazoku. While in that state your attacks barely injured them."

"Well that sure was true before. But they haven't been returning after taking direct ki blasts at Super Saiyan. I'm betting that when you destroyed Zhernobog you must have weakened them.

"That's right. It was my power and mine alone that was able to destroy their king. I suggest you remember that." He turned to the others. "Now, the remnants of his army remain loyal to him. They're trapped here, and they've nothing left to do but complete their objective. Sounds like you have your hands full with them. I would be willing to aid you in dispatching these creatures." These people knew where to find these Dragon Balls. He needed to gain their trust. If he offered his assistance then he could be accepted into their fold. There was no way in hell however that he was going to divulge to them the difficulty he had in accessing his powers at will.

"Why is it you want to help us now?" Yamcha asked, his voice level. "You were loyal to these things and now suddenly they're your enemies? How can we trust you won't turn on us?" Standing not far away, Krillin couldn't help but wonder the same thing; the situation was eerily familiar to the uneasy truce he and Gohan had struck with the Saiyan prince years ago on Namek.

"I said nothing about helping you, fool," he snarled at Yamcha. "Any benefit you people reap from my assistance is incidental. I just wish to rid my life of these deceitful creatures once and for all, got that?"

"You're not giving us much of a reason to want to accept your help!" Yamcha barked back. "How do we even know you're telling the truth about killing this Churn-a-bok or whatever?" Touketsu uncrossed his arms and squared his shoulders to face the other.

Brainwashed or not, all Yamcha knew for certain was that this demonic looking version of Vegeta had attacked them without provocation just minutes ago. He hated seeing what the Saiyan Prince's disappearance had done to Bulma, and it was far from the first time he had done such a thing. He had up and left Earth around the same time that Bulma found out she was pregnant, and remained distant from Bulma and his son when he returned. When the prince had disappeared a year ago, Yamcha was convinced that he had decided to finally leave for good. Vegeta had a long history of unpredictable behavior and an ever present lust for power. For all he knew, the prince may have made a conscious decision to join this demon army.

"Goku brought you here to be healed and you start attacking everyone. How do we know you're not just going to snap again?" Yamcha demanded.

Touketsu growled, his eyes narrowing. This scarred one was beginning to grate on his nerves. "You needn't worry, weakling. I only attack those that I perceive to be a threat." Yamcha bristled at the veiled insult as Touketsu's gaze slid past him to lock onto Oolong. "Or food." Oolong swallowed nervously at the predatory way Touketsu was now eyeing him.

Bulma quickly stepped in. Transformed or not, she recognized when her husband had reached his limits with social interaction. "Hey it's all right, I'll get you something to eat, come on." She put a gentle hand on Toukuetsu's fur-covered forearm, which he jerked away with a defensive growl.

"Bulma," Yamcha hissed in warning, worried what the unpredictable creature would do. Fractured memories aside, the demon seemed to share the Saiyan prince's hair-trigger temper.

She motioned to Yamcha to stop. "Shh, it's ok," she said. She looked back to Touketsu and smiled kindly. "Come on, you must be starving…if your temper is any indication. Then after you eat maybe we can get you cleaned up," she said casually, taking in his form that was still crusted with dried blood and grime. "Come on, follow me."

Touketsu hesitated for a moment. He didn't trust a single one here. But, his "mate" as it were put him a little more at ease. He crossed his arms and walked behind her. Yamcha did not trust the creature to be alone with Bulma, and he began to follow them. That is, until Goku stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder.

"It's ok Yamcha, just give them some space."

"Goku are you insane?" Yamcha whispered urgently, looking helplessly back in their direction. He shook his head. "I don't know what happened to him, but-"

"I'll step in if I need to," Goku cut him off, now using his telepathy. I'll keep a close tab on their ki. Bulma may be the best bet in helping his memory right now." Goku rubbed the back of his head. "Or at least, she may help revive some better memories. I gotta admit, up to this point he seems to only remember anything that pisses him off. But, he said he destroyed this Zhernobog guy who was leading the shadow demons, and I believe him. We weren't having any luck destroying them up until a little while ago. We may be able to use his help. Their army's been reduced to almost nothing, but they're still out there, and they're bent on carrying out their leader's plans."

Yamcha relented. "I sure hope you're right about him, Goku," he sent back.