His fist digs into my cheek before I go flying into the wall. I hadn’t seen that coming. He gets faster everyday, and the challenge for me becomes all the more difficult.
Bam! He is down and grounded. I can always meet a new challenge.
"Ow!" Kakarotto winces. I yank him up to his feet and smack him across the face.
"You don’t have time to whine in the middle of a battle," I snap, letting go of him.
His knee connects with my stomach in an instant, and his fists slam me down to the floor.
"I don’t have time to answer your advice, either," he taunts, and we begin another round. It always amazes me how astute his mind is in battle, and how slow it can be at all other times.
I get in close, weaving around his fists, and knee him in the groin. As his hands instinctively snap down to grip the pain, I trip him with ease, and he falls to the floor on his back. The most vulnerable position. It is a good thing this room is ki-dampening; it can handle the burns while I beat the shit out of Kakarotto.
He shouts and cries out as lightning blows smash all over his body, but he does not ask for mercy. For I know that if I pause for even a split-second, he will recover and force me into the defensive. But meanwhile this is quite fun. There is so much satisfaction to gain from just feeling your fist pounding into flesh and hearing bones crack.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I jump off of Kakarotto and allow him to rise. Wiping the dripping sweat off my brow, I listen again for the computer’s voice. It is programmed to interrupt my training only at the most crucial news. This better be important.
*We have entered the orbit of an unknown planet. This has not been planned-*
My head slowly turns toward Kakarotto’s hunched form. He does not notice my glare as he breathes heavily with his hands on his knees.
"You messed with the controls, didn’t you?" I accuse.
I am already out the door, getting to the navigation panel so I can correct the course. Beginning the tedious process of setting new coordinates yet again, I glance out the viewing window at this rogue planet. It has much more landmass than Minaro, and fewer oceans. There also seems to be a light show playing in one part of the main continent. That catches my attention. The familiar explosions of ki effervesce in giant bright bubbles spreading to the atmosphere, but I cannot sense the ki at all. How can this be? Such immense releases of power, and no readings? I delete the coordinates I have input, and decide to head straight down to this planet.
Ki means battle.
While on my way to the private chambers I brush by Kakarotto roughly, ignoring his bumbling apology.
"You might want to go hide in your room. A real battle awaits me down there."
My voice laced with scorn, I shut the door.
As I ready my combat armor, I wonder what kind of warrior I will be facing. It has been so long since I killed something worthwhile…I will make sure to draw out my victory and savor the bloodshed. I just hope Kakarotto doesn’t interfere. The stupid boy is too clumsy and inexperienced to win anything.
But inside, I know that I only want him to keep out of this so I can show him my true power. With the obvious limitations of this ship’s training room, I do not get a chance to battle seriously. I need to remind him who will always be on top, ever since the Minaro incident.
I wait until the ship lands, and program it to track my ki, and to follow my path to where I land. Ki raised, I step out, advertising my presence to any opponents. I hear two other feet step out behind me, and still I ignore him. He follows me wordlessly as I take to the air and begin the search.
There are no more explosions or ki discharges, to my dismay. No signs of devastation are in sight, yet. Endless fields of green are all I see, this planet might as well consist of one gigantic meadow. Kakarotto is silent behind me, also scanning for any life. I put on a burst of speed, halfheartedly trying to leave him behind, even though I know he will catch up. So begins a little race that actually works to my benefit, accelerating the search itself.
There, ahead. Oh yes, there has definitely been some action here. The vast meadows suddenly stop at a jagged line, and beyond it is burnt wasteland. Craters the size of lakes cover the ground, earth upturned everywhere, forming hills and deep ditches. The smoke has already diminished; I must be late.
"You think a Saiyajin was here?" Kakarotto asks.
"No such chance," I answer flatly.
"Yeah, I guess not. I can’t even feel any ki," he notes.
"Whatever it is, it probably went into hiding when it felt me coming. I’ll blast it out if things become boring."
He says nothing. I cannot tell if this is a sign of submission or disrespect.
"Wait," he stops in midair, and I loop back towards him.
"What is it?" I demand.
"There’s ki down there, right…about—there," he says, pointing a finger to the land a thousand feet below us. "It’s really small, like-"
With some effort I am able to sense the diminutive life energy Kakarotto has picked out. It wavers, like a candle flickering in the wind. Definitely not the opponent I am seeking.
"It’s just a dying animal, let’s not waste time," I say dismissively, and begin to fly away.
"No, wait. This is strange," he says, unmoving, his eyes revealing that sharp intelligence that comes to him erratically and spontaneously. "This is so strange…it feels like…like my father…"
"Your father is—"
I abruptly stop myself. "It’s impossible, Kakarotto," I amend hastily.
"I’m going to check it out," he says firmly, and rockets down to the source of the ki. Resignedly, stupidly, I follow. Shame burns in my chest as I realize I am being helplessly towed along by this third-class warrior.
He sifts through the rubble of a demolished building. The smell of acid fills my nostrils, and I see the ground stained in patches of fluorescent colors, perhaps spilled contaminants. I do not see any remains of anything living yet. I fling aside chunks of metal and rock, not bothering to watch where they land, while Kakarotto examines everything in his path with exhaustive care. My foot kicks aside a large rod lodged in a pile of metal.
A streak of aquamarine blue catches my eye just as I turn away. Peering more closely, I see a face of pale skin smeared with blood. It is a naked woman, unconscious and half-dead. I kneel down and check her pulse, weakly throbbing in her slender wrist. She is alive, but barely. As I begin to rise, her scent hits me, and I find it more intoxicating than the acid on the ground.
"Vejita! You found it?" Kakarotto calls, and I stand up immediately.
"Yes," I reply.
"Oh, she’s almost dead!" Kakarotto sounds so concerned. He lifts her with great care, as if her body is made of glass, and throws an innocent glance at me. "We’ve got to get her in a regen tank!"
"Dump the damn corpse here. I don’t have time for this," I say disdainfully, looking away from the inert body he holds in his arms.
"She’s still alive, Vejita," he says, now almost glaring at me. "We can-"
Suddenly he is flying sideways, leaving a trail of blood droplets in the air, struck by a powerful blow to the jaw. Involuntarily I move forward to catch the delicate thing wrenched forcefully from his hands. I stare down at her for a second before realizing that the enemy must have just arrived. A hundred feet away, Kakarotto is just getting up, wiping his lip of blood, his ki flaring angrily.
A blonde female and a black-haired male land several feet away from me, looking almost exactly alike. By the looks of them I know I will enjoy wiping the smugness off their faces.
"Hey, spike doll. You into dead women?" the female taunts. I keep my composure calm as I inwardly berate myself for forgetting about the weakness in my arms. Promptly I drop her, hearing a thud as her body hits the ground.
"I’ll be into you once you’re a dead woman," I shoot back breezily.
To my surprise the male slaps her on the back, laughing at my crack. She pushes him away with a scowl.
"He forgot to tell you about your oversized bra, Juuhachi. Two sizes too big, eh?" he says loudly, clearly annoying to his partner.
Kakarotto suddenly juts in, his voice concise and brimming with fury. "You did all of this?"
The two turn simultaneously to face him. The blonde puts on a mask of total innocence. "Who, us?"
Kakarotto takes a step forward, but I intervene to take matters into my own hands.
"Well, I must say, you did a thorough job of wasting a quarter of the planet. I couldn’t help but notice the fireworks, so I decided to drop by and join in. You two seem like you’ll be fun to kill."
The male whistles and rolls his eyes. "Ooo, tough guy wants to take us on. Whaddya say, Juuhachigou?"
"I bet I can kill both of them first," she says, not taking her narrowed eyes off me.
Kakarotto has been silent since I interrupted him. He is ready for a battle, I can feel him yearning for it. Perhaps he will put up a good show.
"Well then." I smile thinly. "I got my cash down."
The ground trembles beneath me, jolting my head against the rocks, jerking me painfully into consciousness. I groan through bleeding lips, a feeble hand brushing dirt out of my eyes. Tremors continue to thunder through the earth, my entire body vibrating and my head pounding with a thousand drums. What is happening?
Straining with effort, I lift my head and peer through the dense dustclouds surrounding me. My throat lets out a hacking cough, choking on the debris, my nose inhaling the scorching heat in the air.
Then it all comes back to me, and I realize with dread that it must be the androids. Why am I still alive?
A deep-throated scream tears through the air, followed by that eerie laughter, sending shivers down my spine. They have found someone new to torture.
A bright beam sears past me, singing my skin and exploding in a great burst of light only a couple of feet behind me. The shock wave sends me tumbling forward, and amidst my tangled limbs and disconcerted mind, my hand makes contact with flesh. At once a strong hand closes like a vise over my upper arm, and I find myself staring into the face of Bardock. I scream, my eyes widening as he tightens his grip on me. His other hand covers my mouth.
"Oh! She woke up!" the black-haired android exclaims with sick glee. He lands not four feet away from my face.
"Bastard." The man lying next to me spits, suddenly releasing me and charging the android in a whirlwind of light. The impact of his strike rolls through the ground and knocks me away like a tumbleweed…into the feet of Juunana’s twin. Fear catches like a thorn in my throat. I cry out as I am yanked up by the hair.
"I must thank you for your generosity. It seems I didn’t get to show my gratitude last time," she says, smirking in my face. At once, hatred for her burns right through my fear.
"…Bitch…" I manage to gasp, breathing raggedly, my nose almost touching hers. "I’ll kill you…"
Yes. I will kill her, before she gets off this planet to wreak havoc elsewhere. And I know exactly how I will do it. It’s funny how I can think so straight when death is looking me in the face. Literally.
"Oh? What’s that? I’m a bitch? Well, why didn’t you say so before?" she says, gritting out the last word and twisting my hair around, causing pain to shoot into my scalp, and I only let out a small whimper.
"I’ll blow you up, bitch. And your brother too," I say simply. Realization dawns in her eyes, and for a second I have her fearing me.
Then something strikes her, and I see only a blur as I am knocked loose from her grasp. As I collapse on the floor I feel blood draining my body in multiple places. Exhaustion begins to take over after the initial adrenaline rush of confronting Juuhachigou face-to-face.
She shrieks in surprise and anger, and now I see the back of an armored man, his fiery midnight hair swept upwards and his arms crossed in a confident poise. I shiver as he speaks. I know him. The prince of Saiyajins. The killer of Bardock.
"Are you going to fight or not? Please, entertain me before I skin you and hang you out to dry."
Her face contorts with fury, and bright glowing balls appear in her open hands. I duck my head and scream my throat hoarse as they begin to fight, the sounds of fist meeting flesh and energy blasts being hurled everywhere deafening in my ears. I am caught in the middle of a four-way war, helpless in the center of a battlefield. My body aches everywhere, and the fear of death looms like a guillotine in my mind. Any stray energy blast could wipe me out instantly…and now that Juuhachigou is ticked off at me, she may aim to kill me at any time…
I desperately pray for the Saiyajins to win…but even then I do not know what they would do to me.
I have no choice but to help them. Staying here will only mean immediate death. Crawling on cut hands and bruised knees, I inch my way through the demolished remains of Gero’s laboratory until I see the outline of a ship.
BOOM!!! BOOM!!!!!! BOOM!!!!!!!
Ignoring the scene of devastation that blankets me with dirt, suffocating heat, and nausea, I inch my way towards the craft. Every step brings me closer, I keep telling myself. I must keep going, even though I am beginning to see stars. I must get on board.
The door is open, the ramp already down. As quickly as I can, I climb through the entrance, dragging myself along on my hands and elbows. Lights flash everywhere inside, a computerized voice repeatedly giving instructions for takeoff, all in vain. I search for any weapons or machinery I can use or manipulate; I find nothing. Almost every room is locked. Finding the head of the ship, I look outside and see both Saiyajins lying on the ground.
The androids taunt them, taking turns in dealing the blows, not giving a chance for them to rise. No, they are going to lose!! I bite my lip in frustration, forcing myself to look away from the window.
I think back to the blueprints I saw on Gero’s computer. I had formed a plan to kill them, but that would take up too much time. Desperately I scour all the information I still remember. Through the screaming chaos in my mind I bring back the picture of the retinal components of the androids. They can be blinded if light overloads their vision…my fingers flip multiple switches and buttons, searching for lights…no, weapons.
This ship must have an armory of some sort, but then again, with Saiyajins on board, who needs defense? I begin attempts to communicate with the computer.
*Arsenal?* I type in universal code.
*Begin ki input.* it immediately responds, and a small panel slides out over my lap. I place my palms on the two imprints of hands, my fingers dwarfed by the large engravings, no doubt meant for large Saiyajin hands.
*Ki level insufficient.* the computer states the obvious.
I let out a cry of exasperation. The Saiyajins even power their ships’ weapons with their own energy!
Suddenly a jolt runs through me like a thousand volts of electricity, and I scream myself out of breath as my palms plaster themselves to the pad, throbbing with a glowing energy.
"AHHHH!!! Ah!! Ah!! Ahh!" The pain is unbearable, worse than any other torture I have undergone so far! My vision fades in and out hazily, and through this all I feel everything draining from all parts of my tormented body into my hands, channeling into the ki panel. Streams of tears flow from my face down my neck and chest.
*Ki level sufficient.*
My hands come off the panel like two suction cups being torn off the wall, and I collapse backwards on the chair. What…what the hell had just happened to me? Where did that power come from?
No time to think about it.
Hanging onto consciousness by a mere thread, I type with twitching, burnt fingers. Two red dots appear on the screen, and I have to fight to keep my aim steady, focusing the blinking lights on the two monsters I have to kill…or at least blind for the moment…
One of the Saiyajins tries to rise again, and actually blocks a blow from his oppressor. It is the Prince. A shock wave rolls through my senses, similar to the sickening hatred I feel for Juuhachigou, my enemy. I hate him now, too. My finger instinctively hovers over the release switch.
I almost back away. This sudden animosity towards the Prince is not mine at all. It is Bardock’s. He is using me for revenge. My brain is in a jumble. But isn’t Bardock alive, out there next to Juunana? I have gone insane.
I grit my teeth and take aim once more for my desired targets. I switch the twin lasers on. Each blinking light is pinpointed at their faces, in their eyes. Neither of them is aware of what will hit them.
I flip the switch.
"Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!" the blonde bitch wails, now lying on her back on the ground, rubbing feverishly at her eyes. I draw my fist back, my legs wobbling under me, and bring it down-
into air. Kakarotto has yanked me away. I snarl at him furiously. "Let me kill her! I have to kill her!"
"Shut up! We have to escape!" he hisses, and hits me on the side of the head. I blink, stunned for a second, long enough for Kakarotto to reach the ship in a dash. I lash out at him as he tries to hold me back from the door, already closing.
"Filthy wretch! Get your hands off me! I have to—"
"Vejita! Listen to me! You’re almost dead and you don’t even know it! We’ll never win!" he shouts, his eyes ablaze. Ignoring his words, I continue to struggle, my bloody hands clawing at his skin.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
With three more blows to the face I am on the floor, wheezing for breath and feeling blood in my eyes. No, this cannot be! I am too weak to move! The ship roars to life, the metal floor vibrating beneath me, and I cry out in anguish. Kakarotto! The worthless coward!
At maximum speed the ship reaches atmosphere in a matter of seconds. Not even a minute ago I was in the middle of battle, ready to finish off a hard-won match. Now I am running away!
The turbulence dies down, and the engines slow as the ship drifts in orbit. Everything is silent; my ears are filled only with the sound of my shallow breathing. Kakarotto shifts awkwardly, as if pretending not to know that I lie broken and defeated. My eyes waver to the form next to him, slumped across the captain’s seat. It is the blue-haired female. And she is still unconscious.
"She saved us." Kakarotto’s voice is quiet.
Despite my condition I sneer at him. "A woman in a coma saved us? How stupid can-"
"I know she did," he interrupts, and carries her limp form to me. I drag myself up to lean against the wall, staring blankly at my blood covering the floor.
"Look." He shows me her hands, severely burnt, the skin raw. "She charged the weapons and fired."
"It’s not possible, Kakarotto. Her ki was barely readable!" I rasp, holding back coughs that threaten to tear my throat apart.
"But it happened," he says stoutly. His arms wrap around her shoulder as if he is cradling an infant. "When—when she woke up—in the middle of the battle…I touched her…and she felt like my father. It was-"
"Idiot." I cannot hold back any longer. "Your father is dead."
He stops and looks at me with a frozen stare.
"Bardock is dead. I killed him, all right, Kakarotto? I killed your goddamn father, just like I would’ve killed those two bastards today if you hadn’t decided to high-tail it outta there."
He does not move, his stare is transfixed. My breathing is even more labored than before, and yet I return his ghostly look with defiance. He shifts his arms and lets go of the unconscious body.
"I think it’s time I got you in a regen tank," he whispers, and he lifts me by the waist. I cannot even lift a hand against him. This is unbearable. He does not even believe I am sane anymore.
I am helpless as he dumps me in a tank and fills it with water. I am helpless as he continues to stare at me even as my breathing begins to stabilize through the oxygen mask. I am helpless as he puts the female next to me, in this single tank we have on this ship. I am helpless as my skin is forced against hers, as my body is forced to touch her. Smooth, pearly skin against my chest. The slight swell of her breasts on my skin, her long hair brushing my neck. I look in her face.
I am helpless as her utter beauty engulfs me.
* * * * *