The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost careened through the streets of Manhattan, speeding as if it was on fire. Vegeta knew he had to hurry. He had to get to Bulma on time. He was hoping…praying that she was in the hotel or at least still on her way there. He screeched to the parking lot and jumped off the vehicle, rushing towards the entrance of the building. He was running so fast, that before he knew it, he was turning the key in his doorknob. He entered his domain, greeted by the silence of the sitting room. A feeling of foreboding suddenly gripped his heart, nagging at the pit of his stomach. Something wasn’t right. Hanging his coat on the coat rack, he slowly treaded towards the oak door, which led to his bedroom. He opened it, the hinges squeaking in complaint. The curtains had been drawn down, leaving the fire the only source of light. Through the dim glow, his bad premonition proved to be true. Yamcha Jones and one of the men who had been in the nightclub a while back, Dodoria Eastman, stood in front of him, both arms crossed across their chests, both still wearing that same uniform black striped suits, the rings on their fingers glittering with the Seven Dragons ruby seal. Dodoria seemed to find the look on Vegeta’s face funny. Yamcha on the other hand, seemed quite uneasy.
"What the hell are you doing here?!" the boxer demanded to know.
"Hush, now. No need to shout dear boy," came a hissing voice the prince didn’t recognize. Like a ghostly apparition, two other men materialized from the shadows. An awfully pale, short man wearing a dark purple silk tux was repeatedly flipping a silver coin, a cigarette dangling from his thick, dark lips. The man beside him, Zarbon Kelly, was holding a pistol against a woman’s head: Bulma’s.
"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, her azure eyes fixed on the weapon pressed against the side of her emerald crown.
"What the—you let her go, right now!!!" Vegeta started to walk towards his mistress’s captor but stopped abruptly when Yamcha and Dodoria pointed choppers at him.
"What a nice reunion," the man in the purple tuxedo commented, tossing his half finished cigarette on the floor and extinguishing it with his patent leather shoes. "At last…I finally get to meet the great Vegeta. The Prince of Knock Outs," he paced around the room’s tenant, inspecting every angle of him. "I’d bow to you, your highness, but gods don’t bow to mere princes."
"Let me guess. You’re the big cheese of the group," the ebony haired man said through clenched teeth.
"Lord Frieza, in the flesh," the gangster’s thick lips curved to an evil sneer. "I must say you had me quite impressed. I never had a…client, as hardheaded and determined as you are."
"You mean victim!"
"Call it whatever you want," Frieza waved his hand, flicking the topic away. "Anyway, we’re doing some sort of business transaction one way or another," he seated himself on a velvet-covered chair. "I was very disappointed the way you tipped the authorities on us. Very disappointed," he shook his bald head. "Do you know how hard it is to seclude an organization such as ours?"
"You killed Joe! You deserved to be exposed!"
"We warned you, didn’t we?" the boss tapped his fingers on the armrest of his chair. "Though it was a bit of a mistake. We only meant to hurt him. How were we supposed to know he’d be in the receiving desk at a time like that?" his arms snaked away from their relaxed positions, crossing across his small chest. "We had thought it was all over for us…that you’d never lose the match after that old jigaboo died. But that was until Jones here…" he held his pale palm towards Yamcha. "…told us about someone else close to you, which is this doll, right here."
Vegeta shot a look at the scarred man, who shifted his eyes away, his lips curling to a frown.
"Tell you what," the gang leader continued. "I’ll forget about you telling the feds on us but by the second round tomorrow, you should be knocked out. Or else…" he laid his eyes on the captured flapper. "…you know what I mean. If we decide to bump her off, we’d be killin’ two persons, not one: your little sheba, and your little baby, in her little tummy."
"Nice rhyming, boss," Dodoria laughed out loud, his large stomach jiggling.
"Fine! I’ll do it!" Vegeta growled. He hated being in this fix, being forced, pressured and controlled but he didn’t have any choice. "Now let her go!"
"Sorry, boy," Freiza stood up from where he sat. "We’re keeping her as insurance. Until you lose, she stays with us. After the match tomorrow, we’ll give her back to you safe and sound."
"How can I be sure that you won’t harm her in any way?!"
"We won’t. Kapish?" the leader snapped his colorless fingers. "Let’s go, boys. And remember Vegeta, no cops. You keep your end of the deal, and we’ll keep ours."
Yamcha and Dodoria hid their weapons in two identical suitcases. Zarbon kept his in his coat but kept a tight grip on his hostage’s shoulder. The boxer could do nothing more than stare disbelievingly as the gangsters left the room. For a fleeting moment, his eyes caught those of his mistress, those eternally blue ones that had been haunting him since the first time he saw her. Then they were gone. Just like that. The anger he had suppressed a while ago finally spewed out, overriding his senses. He began pummeling the marble walls with his fists, cursing while he did so, oblivious to how it bruised and cut fingers. There was that feeling again: that same feeling of helplessness he felt the day he was orphaned. But there was nothing he could do now. What happened happened because of him. He sank down the floor, propping himself on his hands and knees, the sweat dropping from his temples. He was ensnared in the deadly web of the Seven Dragons and the only way to escape was to sacrifice his pride. Slowly, he pulled himself together. He needed to prepare for the last day of what was supposed to be a promising career.
"This is it, boy! After you win tonight, the world will know of Vegeta! The prince!" Borris encouraged enthusiastically, tying the gloves to his trainee’s hands.
"Don’t be to sure about it," Vegeta grumbled, clamping on his mouthpiece.
"Hooey! You’ll do great!" the trainer helped the prince with his black gold-trimmed robe, with a gold patch shaped into a crown at the back. The robe matched his trunks, which was also black in color and trimmed with gold.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Madison Square Garden!!!" the sound of the announcer’s voice reverberated throughout the building, followed by the cheers and applauses of the audience. "Tonight, we shall be witnessing the first and most exciting battle of the year! The fight for the heavyweight championship!"
"You hear that boy?" Borris tapped the boxer’s shoulder. "You’re about to be introduced. Go on. Make Joe proud."
Vegeta could only nod. It took a while for all of these to sink in: the lights, the benches full of excited spectators, and the boxing ring before him…it was all real. He had trained long and hard for this moment. He was here at last. Everything would’ve been perfect if it hadn’t been for the fact that he must lose this fight.
"Hey! What’s wrong with you, Vegeta?! You’ve been introduced! Go!"
Vegeta snapped out from the brief period of thought and jogged to the ring, the crowd cheering as he took off his robe and handed it to his friend. He pulled up the ropes and stepped on to the platform. The lights blazed everywhere, cameras constantly flashing from the audience. He slowly spun around in a circle, scrutinizing through the sea of unfamiliar faces. Then, he stopped. Sitting three benches away was Bulma, surrounded by some members of the Seven Dragons. Freiza was sitting to her right, Yamcha on the left with Zarbon and Dodoria behind and in front of them respectively. She was still wearing the same clothing she had on when the group abducted her. She looked terrified but other than that, she was unharmed; at least physically.
"Boy! Have you gone deaf? Can’t you see the referee’s calling?" Borris scolded. Vegeta hadn’t realized that his opponent was already there. He stared longingly at the belt around Goku Son’s waist, watching as it glittered and sparkled under the light. Much as he wanted it, he couldn’t have it. Both fighters went to the center of the ring. The tall man gave the prince a conspiring wink and smiled.
"Okay, you both know the rules. No head butting or kicking in the groin," the referee glanced at the men before stepping back. The bell ring signaled the beginning of the match.
The fighters circled around each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. Neither seemed to want to do it. Goku gave his adversary a look of puzzlement, which was returned by an unreadable face. Finally, the taller boxer decided to attack, giving out a powerful right hook.
"Oh! Looks like our champ’s got him! Oh! That’s another good punch! And another! Nice uppercut there! I think the challenger’s gonna have to quicken up his moves or else we’ll be presented with one short match!"
Goku took a step back, panting. Vegeta was bending his head down. He wasn’t hurt; at least, not that bad. But he needed to be. There was still time before the second round and he had to use that to be knocked down. That way, he wouldn’t be awake through the shame. Then, another blow hit his face.
"That’s got to hurt! The champ’s really giving him a good beating! Oh! That hit could’ve been avoided! That was so slow! Anyone could’ve dodged that!"
Something ignited inside the prince when he heard that comment. His true self emerged. He wasn’t going to go down that easy. Suddenly, he started attacking.
"Whoa! Vegeta’s making a come back! Oh! Oh! Another bone cracking hit! Nice move! Swift one! The prince is relentless! He’s giving the champ a run for his money!"
Blow for blow, fist for fist, Vegeta was giving it all. His pride was overriding his thoughts, pushing him, urging him to win. The people were going wild. He could feel the impact on his hands for every hit he gave his competitor. From time to time, Goku would give out his own punches but it was clear that he wasn’t giving out his best.
"Pow! Right on the kisser! Smacked on the jaw! Goku’s putting his arms up for defense. It’s holding…holding…holding…oh! The challenger’s broken through! The champ’s taking another beating on the face! We can clearly see the importance of the mouthpiece this way! With only a few minutes left, looks like we have a sure guess at the winner for this round!"
Vegeta firmly planted his left leg in front of him and bent his knees, pulling his arm as far as he can to get ready for a final and powerful assault. Then, he turned his head sideways. He didn’t know what made him do it, but he did. There, he saw Freiza, a flicker of anger in his sinister eyes. He put his arm around the viridian haired woman beside him, his frown replaced with an evil grin. That gesture was enough to stop the boxer in his tracks. Goku’s fist immediately found the flat of his cheek.
"That was a surprise attack! The champ’s moves are getting slower, probably from his previous beatings but they’re just as lethal! Our two contestants are both getting groggy this time and…"
"Whoops! That’s the end of the first round! Son has the upper hand but the challenger’s not far behind."
"What happened out there, boy? One minute you were at him like a charging bull, next you become a sheep being attacked by a wolf!" Borris handed a towel and a jug of water to Vegeta, who had seated himself on a stool. "He’s an easy opponent! His huge body’s making him move slower than you do! Didn’t I tell you to study your enemy’s weaknesses and use it against them?!"
"Shut up! If you’re so confident, why don’t you go and fight him yourself?!"
That kept the black man quiet. He hastily stepped out of the ring and decided to wait for the start of another round. Vegeta breathed in deeply, heat emanating from his every pore. His onyx eyes clashed with a pair of the same color that belonged to his competitor. Goku was barely listening to his trainer as he stared at the prince, a look of frustration on his face. Ignoring him, the spiky haired boxer decided to check up on his mistress once more. He couldn’t see her face, for she had bent her head down. When he turned to Freiza, he distinctively saw the gang leader mouth "Round two" while holding up to whitish fingers and turning it into a thumbs down sign before bringing his forefinger across his pale neck. This was it. The second round. Vegeta knew he had to fight his pride more than he had to fight his foe.
"Round two is up now, folks! We’ll see what happens next! Yup! The boxers are walking to the center of the ring. They’re sizing up each other again, just as they did in the first round. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for one of them to attack. Time is of the essence in this game!"
"Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!" Vegeta chanted repeatedly in his head, though his fists hungered for the feel of hard flesh upon them. This was his last round. If Goku doesn’t attack soon, it’ll be over for Bulma. He could always pretend to be down, but he hadn’t exactly practiced acting. The crowd might never believe it, nor will the judges. The scam could be revealed and that would prove to be highly dangerous. Then, just as he hoped for, Goku gave him a smack on the side of his head. The sudden blow made him dizzy, causing his arms to fall to his sides, weakening his defenses.
"Bam! Bam! Bam! Son’s just going at it! And Vegeta’s not doing anything!! Seems that those punches he received from the previous round is finally taking effect! Nice swing with the arm! Very fluid movements there!"
The announcer continued to broadcast the events. Vegeta could hear nothing except the sound of gloved hands implied on his muscled form. Everything was a blur now. It’s not that he’s at the brink of unconsciousness. He knew exactly what was happening and he knew he had to succumb to this abuse. His mouthpiece began to loosen as another blow hit his jaw. He fell forward, instinctively putting a bear hug on his opponent.
"What the hell are you doing, Vegeta?!" Goku whispered, postponing his offense. "I thought you said you weren’t going to lose! We had an agreement!"
"You think you’re the only one with problems to deal with?!" the prince hissed back.
"What do you mean?! You saw my moves! I stink at this. I’ve already given my best shot but you’re still standing. Don’t slump and pretend that you’re tired. I know you aren’t. Now, c’mon!"
Vegeta kept silent. He didn’t want to lose, but he had to. He glanced at the timer. Only a few more minutes ‘til the end of the round. He shifted his eyes to Freiza, a smirk dancing on those purplish lips of his.
"Two more minutes, folks! The players are still in that bear hug. Both seem unable to make a move! Well, they better hurry up!"
"You won’t move?!" Goku was now extremely frustrated by his competitor’s passive behavior. "Fine! And I thought you were the answer to my family’s prayers…Palooka!!!" he began pummeling the sides of Vegeta’s abdomen, making him stagger back.
"Great attack from Son! Now this is a fight! It looks like there’s no stopping Son as he throws more punches than ever! And…oh! Vegeta’s knees are shaking! And…I think this is it! Goku’s famous stance! He’s preparing the deathblow, ladies and gentleman! It seems the end of this round is getting closer and closer! We still have about a minute and a half left! BOOM! There it was! That head twisting punch of his! And Vegeta’s down! Vegeta is down!!"
"Who’s…the…palooka…now?" Goku panted, wiping the sweat that dripped down from his chin. Vegeta was laying flat on his back, his eyes barely open. He couldn’t hear anything, nor feel anything. He was blocking out everything with his mind. The referee began his count.
He was losing. For the first time in his career, he’s actually going to lose. But there was no honor in this kind of defeat. Disgusted with himself, Vegeta shut his eyes and waited for the inevitable.
The fallen boxer’s eyes flew at the sound of Bulma’s voice. He turned to her direction. There, she stood, clutching her hands together, her glazed azure eyes begging him to get up. Something sparked from within him. In a split second, he was up on his feet.
"That was a close call for Vegeta and…whoa! He’s giving out powerful punches! Oh wow! I can barely see it! He’s so fast!!"
Vegeta wasn’t himself now. Forgetting everything else, he threw punch after punch, his mind set on one thing only: victory.
"He’s giving him a right hook! Then a left! Then an uppercut! What a great combo! Only forty-five seconds left! Holy Mackerel!!! That was it! Vegeta’s famous heart breaker punch! Flat on the chest! The tables have turned! Goku is down!!! He’s not moving!! The referee starting his count!!"
The crowd was going wild. Goku was barely breathing, face flat on the platform, his mouthpiece sitting a few feet away from him.
"The bell has rung! And since the champ didn’t make the countdown, Vegeta wins by Knock Out!! We have a new heavyweight champion!!"
"No…" Vegeta whispered to himself as the reality of the situation sank in. He hadn’t meant to win. His knees shook hard, his wide eyes staring at his opponent, who was now, being laid on a stretcher.
"You…did…great,…Vegeta," Goku gave a weak salute and a contented smile. "You…d-deserve t-to win. And thanks. I can’t feel anything in my legs right now, but it’s worth it," and with that, he was carried away, his wife Chichi rushing to hold his hand as they left.
"Attaboy! That was darb! I knew you’d pull through!" Borris cried out, holding Vegeta’s arm up in the air, as did the referee. The belt was then fastened around his waist. For a moment, he was lost in the sweetness of his success but that period was short-lived. The new heavyweight champion searched for the syndicate and their hostage but to his horror, found their seats were empty. He broke away from both the referee and his trainer’s grasps and dashed out of the platform, putting on his robe and taking off his gloves and mouthpiece along the way. A loud murmur rippled among the crowd but Vegeta turned a deaf ear to their calls for him to come back. He ran along the hallways, bumping into unfamiliar faces until he saw a man wearing that same dark striped suit: Yamcha.
"Stop! Stop you bastard!" Vegeta ran after him, his boots pounding hard upon the concrete floor until both of them were out of the building. The prince found himself in a dark alley and there, standing before him was Freiza, holding a pistol against Bulma’s head with Yamcha behind them.
"Ah, Vegeta…nice of you to drop in," Frieza’s snake like voice crooned. "You just made a big mistake there, boy. I gave you a chance and you blew it," he pulled the woman closer to him. "First, I kill your sheba and your kid. After that, your next," he readied the weapon. "Don’t worry. Nobody will ever know. I’ll have my boys clean this place up of blood and your bodies dumped in the East River. So…if you have anything else to say to each other, you better say it now."
The couple gazed at one another, their hearts pounding hard against their chests. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Not this way. Vegeta tightened his fists. There he was: the heavyweight titleholder; yet, he couldn’t do anything to save the most important person in his life.
"Vegeta…I love you…" Bulma whispered, tears streaming down from her face as she put her palm over the small of her stomach. She had lost hope. In a matter of seconds, she would be crossing to the next world. But it was nice to know she would be bringing a piece of Vegeta with her: their child.
"Well…" Freiza smirked. "I guess that’s settled then. Time to—UGH!" the pale man suddenly lay face down on the pavement, the pistol flying away from his hand. The couple’s heads shot up at Yamcha, who was still holding up his chopper. He had struck the nape of his boss’s neck with the butt of the machine gun, knocking him unconscious.
"You two! Go now!" the scarred gangster pointed towards the Silver Ghost parked several feet from where they were. "I’ll distract the guys when they get here. Go!"
"Yamcha…" Bulma breathed, gratefulness sparkling in her eyes.
"I said go! Vegeta! Take care of her! Now go! They’ll be coming any minute now!"
Vegeta nodded and gripped his mistress’s hand tightly, dragging her to his vehicle. Yamcha watched as the ghostly white car quickly sped off from the parking lot and disappeared into the night.
"Yamcha! What the hell happened to the boss?" Zarbon called, followed by a group of thugs with uniform striped suits.
"Vegeta knocked him out with one helluva punch. I tried to stop him but he did the same to me. I just woke up. He probably took Bulma with him too."
"Do you know which way they went?"
"Are you deaf? I said I just woke up."
"Fine. You and the others take the boss back to the mansion," Zarbon turned to the pinkish short man beside him. "Dodoria, we’ll round up the city. They couldn’t have gone too far."
* * * * *
Attaboy! = Well done; also Attagirl
Big Cheese = boss; most important person
Darb = great
Doll = an attractive female
Hooey! = Nonesense!
Jigaboo = A derogatory term for an African-American
Kisser = lips