Hi fan fiction lovers! Here is the next installment of my crazy story. A whole lot is going to start happening very quickly!
Once again I underestimated the length it would take to cram everything into this chapter that I had originally planned to so I cut it in half and retitled this one since the other title went better for the second half of the chapter.
All previous disclaimers apply.
Chapter 10: Doppelgangers
Vegeta sat at helm of the ship, his eyes glued to the vessel leading him to the new mysterious base of King Frigid. In typical illogical style the baka lizard had set up his seat of government on a recently appropriated planet rather than Tsirisei and likely had a ridiculous reason for doing so. Feeling a tug at his sleeve he looked down to see his son gazing wearily up at him.
"What is it boy?" he asked hiking up one dark eyebrow.
"Are we getting close to the planet yet?" the child pleaded.
"We have another hour at least and asking about it every 20 minutes will not make it come any faster" Vegeta scolded "now go take apart one of the tin cans or some other nonsense."
"Theyíre shut down," Trunks stated before continuing his excited barrage. "Why are you just sitting there just watching the other ship?" Trunks asked.
"For the same reason you are bugging me" he stated "I am bored."
"Oh" the boy said turning his blue eyes to the floor before making a split second decision and climbing up onto his fatherís lap.
"What are you doing!" Vegeta exclaimed in surprise at Trunks bold move.
"We might as well be bored together" Trunks said with a pleading smile.
Vegeta sighed in defeat noting in the back of his mind how unsaiyaiin like it was to allow his child to sit on his lap but at the same time welcoming the contact. He truly missed his mateís habit of boldly cuddling up to him without notice. He thought perhaps the child sensed this and thus took liberties he wouldnít have normally taken.
"Father" Trunks asked. "Do you really think this Frigid guy will know where to find mother?"
"I donít know" he admitted "but it is a lead and we must follow it."
"You said you used to know him, right?" the boy asked leaning back in his fatherís arms inspecting his fingernails for dirt.
"In a way" Vegeta answered not liking where the conversation seemed to be headed.
"You knew him before you came to earth and were a good guy?" the boy asked still staring intently at his hands.
"Yes" Vegeta stumbled a bit. "He was a competitor of my former employer."
"Freeza?" Trunks innocently continued still without making eye contact. "I thought you were a slave for him?"
"A slave! I was never anyoneís slave" Vegeta snapped.
"But Mother told me that he forced you to work for him, isnít that the same thing as being a slave?"
Vegeta gazed intently at the back of his sonís lavender head. He was surprised by his childís temerity to bring up the subject of Freeza and disturbed by his innocent and truthful conclusion. His pride had never allowed him to acknowledge how helpless he had actually been against the tyrant who had raised him for a good portion of his life. "Your mother told you this?"
"Yes" the demi-saiyaijin answered still refusing to look at his Fatherís face. "She told me so I could understand how come you can be so mean sometimes. She said that you were prince on your own planet but you were taken as a little boy by Freeza who was mean to you so it was hard for you to be nice because you never had a good example growing up."
"What else did she tell you?" Vegeta demanded.
"Nothing much" the boy admitted shyly looking up into his fatherís face. "She said he forced you to do all sorts of bad things and before you met her that you didnít know how to be anything but evil. That was all she told me though. She said if I wanted to know more I had to ask you myself but that you might not like it if I did."
Vegeta stared down at his sonís down turned face in quiet astonishment. He honestly had no idea that Trunks had any knowledge of his past which made him wonder at the boy more than before. How the child could have any affection towards him knowing he was once a "bad guy" astonished him. Secretly the saiyaijin prince had feared what the boy would do when he inevitably discovered the truth about his past and yet all this time he had known because Bulma had told him. BulmaÖthe thought of her sent a fresh wave of mixed emotions through his soul but one was predominantly etched into his heart at the moment, the same one that was echoed in Trunks cyan eyes inherited from his mother. He was afraid, he the mighty Saiyaijin no Ouji was afraid of failing to bring her back, afraid to face the prospect of a life without her and afraid of being left alone to be this childís sole provider and being unable to give him what he asked. Immediately Vegeta shut himself off from this line of thought not wanting the boy to sense his disquiet.
"She is wrong," Vegeta stated trying to shut-off the line of the boyís questioning. "I had some very good examples as a child although your mother would probably disagree."
"Who?" Trunks asked his face alight with curiosity.
"My father, my mother and others I knew on my planet," he said almost sadly "my peopleís ways are naturally harsher than her human ways however."
"What were they like?" Trunks asked. "Your father and mother, I mean."
"What they should be," Vegeta said gruffly hoping to end the subject. Unfortunately the child seemed to have a talent of picking uncomfortable subjects. Vegeta was prepared to snap at him but he made the mistake of looking at his sonís face to see the silent expectation of learning something of his heritage. "My father was a proud King that ruled with honor and my mother was wise and beautiful," he said.
"I wish I could meet them," Trunks said. "Do you think theyíd have liked me?"
Once again taken aback by the statement Vegeta reflected. Of course the child would have wanted to hear they would approve of him but that wasnít exactly the truth. "My mother would have liked you very much I think" Vegeta began. "My father would have been pleased that you are a strong warrior." Before the boy could speak he hushed him with a finger on his lips. "That is enough questions for now" Vegeta said, "you can only remain here if you are quiet."
"Okay," the boy said leaning back further onto his fatherís chest once again.
Vegeta sighed and tried his best to relax but the unfamiliar contact was making him uneasy. Trunks always sat o his motherís lap like this while she read to him and he generally was a bemused observer of the sanguine ritual. He was so uncomfortable with the human propensity for tactile expressions for affection inborn in his son. Touch was something very personal and private only to be indulged in between mates. He had, much to his own displeasure, adapted quickly to these expressions with Bulma but he had never guessed how far he had allowed his attachment for them to go until that first night without her. From the moment he had taken her he had believed he could live very easily without her but in that first night without her he had proved himself delusional. Ever since the Cell Games he had spent every night in their bed surrendering to the impulse to pull her body close to his while they slept and that first night without her warm body up against his had been unbearable. His arms felt empty and his body and soul ached for her with a hunger so profound it was akin to physical pain. How had he come to depend upon her so much he missed even her mere absence?
He went to gaze back at the stars away from his disturbed thoughts but instead found himself perusing his reflection and that of the boy resting on his lap. "What would they think of me?" he thought. "Theyíd think Iíd gone soft polluting the blood of royalty with that of an alien woman. They would mock me for yearning for her as I am and my father would surely turn over in his grave if he saw my half-breed son" he thought perusing the lavender hair and blue-eyes of the child. "But they are dead and I am alive. Their blood will live on through Trunks and his children and I am not ashamed of it."
"I hate to break up this warm and fuzzy moment" 17 stated from behind the chair "but Iíd really like to know just what weíre walking into."
Vegeta frowned. He should have known that the tin can would turn back on and witness his moment of weakness. The funny thing was he didnít even consider extricating Trunks from his perch because he knew that it would hurt the childís feelings a true sign of how ridiculously emotional he had allows himself to become.
"What is there to know" Vegeta grumbled "we are going to see a mad tsirijin clan leader."
"If I remember right Freeza gave you a lot of trouble and if this one is anything like him then Iíd like more information" the android persisted.
Vegeta burst out laughing as 17 spoke startling both Trunks and the Android. "You have absolutely nothing to fear from him in that way. He is a weakling and an idiot. He was a laughing-stock to his peers as a warrior and gained his position by inheritance alone. Its his Shadow Sisters and advisors to look out for."
"You mean to tell me he is no threat but he has somehow managed to conquer several planets and throw his home world into an uproar?" 17 asked
"Exactly" Vegeta commented "and I have no idea how he managed it."
"Thatís a comforting thought" 17 remarked sarcastically.
"I know" Vegeta said darkly.
Bulma continued following Wrench down the long corridors taking mental note of each and every turn. She took to heart each and every feature the boy pointed out. She needed all of the information she could get her hands on if she was going to formulate an escape plan.
"So Bulma" he asked "any questions?"
"Yes," Bulma said pointedly. "Nothing youíve shown me so far has explained why you can be 50 years-old."
"Oh that" he said slightly amused. "I was saving that for the grand finale. Come with me."
Making a left down the next corridor he happened upon Wrench led the bewildered woman to a large security door. Reaching up he nimbly punched in a code with an unnatural speed. The door slid open revealing an incredibly large open room with hundreds of what looked of tanks each housing what appeared to something alive. Walking toward one of the tanks she gasped as she saw the tiny being within. Itís arms and legs and tucked up against its tiny chest a fetus floated in the strangely hued fluid of the tank. It had a myriad of wires and tubes and a thick black looking rope or cable about its waist attaching it to whatever manner of machines she could hear droning away in the room.
"Master Wrench" a white haired very human looking alien exclaimed nervously. "To what do I owe this pleasure."
"Iím just showing a special new recruit around the facility" the biomech replied.
"Isnít that highly unusual" the man muttered "and dangerous."
"No more so than questioning what isnít your place to question" the boy snapped at the man instantly silencing him. Fortunate for him, Wrench was far too occupied at the moment to take proper action against him and turned back to the woman transfixed by the sight of the developing projects.
"Dende!" Bulma thought. Backing away from the tank and taking note of the occupants of the other nearby tanks. "Theyíre all fetuses," she gasped under her breath.
"Yes Bulma" Wrench said startling her from her deep concentration "they are all babies conceived in a petrie dish through the miracle of science."
"What does that have to do with you?" Bulma asked.
"Seeing is believing" Wrench replied with a baiting smile. "Come with me" he ordered once again.
Following the child they came to another huge, hanger sized room. This room was filled with regeneration tanks, literally hundreds of them, all along every wall, three-stories high. As they walked by Bulma glanced at the alien occupants of each one within her line of sight. Some were creatures she recognized from Freezaís ranks on Nameksei but most were creatures she had never seen. Wrench led her to one particular tank he stopped and smirked mysteriously causing Bulmaís eyeís to dart up to the figure inside. It was a child, a blonde child, very young, probably about three and he looked somewhat familiar but she couldnít see much of his small face. Bulma squinted at him for a moment and suddenly shock descended upon her as her eyes darted back to her tour guide.
"Thatís right" Wrench replied "heís my future replacement. Meet Wrench # 4."
"Are you ready?" 16 asked unemotionally.
"I am" 17ís voice remarked over the radio "but Iím not sure about Vegeta."
"We are both ready," Vegeta snapped.
Trunks giggled. He knew his father didnít like being in the close quarters of the escape ship with the android. Vegeta had insisted that they use the small ship to touch down on the planet because he didnít want to bring the entire ship to the planetís surface lest he get trapped there. With 16 as his protector he was to stay on the ship where it was Ďreasonably safeí while Vegeta and 17 entered the base.
"Remember to leave the transmitter on Father" Trunks reminded him. "That way I can hear everything."
"It is not for entertainment" Vegeta barked. "At the first indication of trouble you and the robot are to leaveÖ"
"Öimmediately and go to the coordinates you set" Trunks repeated in a bored manner.
"Remember that as well android" Vegeta growled.
"Donít worry. I will be certain to get Trunks to safety if anything occurs" 16 stated. "If you are ready I will open the doors to the cargo hold now."
"Go for it" 17 confirmed.
The large android pushed the button on the console and waited until he heard the metal groan signaling it had opened. Trunks darted to the door to the hold and vaulted on top of a box peering into the blackness. He grinned as he saw dark silhouette of the small pod sliding into the starry abyss.
"This is awesome!" he exclaimed. "Goten is going to be so jealous when I tell him about this trip."
"This is not a game" 16 said "we must stay alert."
"Donít worry" Trunks said "my father wonít let anything happen to his son."
16ís only response was a frown and Trunks turned back to the window.
Bulma stared in shock at the boy floating in the tank before her. "This child is you?"
"Yes" Wrench replied. "He is my clone, or to be precise, another clone of my original self."
"Then you are a clone too?" Bulma concluded.
"Exactly" the boy said with a laugh. "My original self has been long dead but I lived on thanks to Dr. Kogouís genus. But Iím not the only one to have benefited from it."
"Dr. Kougouís a clone too then" Bulma concluded. "Thatís why you both are so young. Youíve cheated death by somehow using your clone."
"Regrettably yes" Wrench answered. "Unfortunately I was forced to take this body while it still was so young, although it does give me the advantage of being underestimated."
"How can you remember everything though?" she asked. "A clone should be a blank slate, a new being."
"Well" wrench stated lifting his hair to display his module again "thatís thanks to this little unit. It was implanted in my original self shortly before his death and has been transplanted into each of my subsequent selfs from that point on. It records and transplants all of my memories into my new self ensuring that I remain who I am."
Bulma quickly looked around herself at all the tanks surrounding herself in wonder. "Donít tell me that all of these things are clones as well," she asked.
"They are but not in the same class as the doctor or myself" he stated. "No genetic enhancements or mechanical implants are used for them. They are orders from our clients to ensure they will not loose their most trusted advisors and loved ones in death. Some have even done so to insure theyíre own immortality."
"Its absolutely insane to try to cheat death like this" Bulma stated in partly repulsed wonderment.
"Thatís all I can show you for now" Wrench suddenly stated. "Itís about time that I make sure youíre ready for your dinner with the doctor. Follow me and Iíll take you to your quarters."
Bulma sighed and did as she was told. Everything in this place defied the imagination. The mechanics, genetic engineering and now the clones were disturbing to say the least. The idea of millions of beings using it as a means to cheat death was somehow unsettling. Dragon Balls were no longer needed for a half-crazed madman to live forever. As they entered the first room she gazed at the tiny babies in floating in the tanks realizing that they must be clones as well. A new batch for some Ďclientí or another to use to replace their Ďoriginal selfí as Wrench had termed it. She allowed herself a second scrutiny of the first infant she had encountered only to find it in the same fetal position as before, however the tube around its waist seemed to be missing. She next noted its tiny fists seemed to be clutch something long and dark in its hands the tip of which waved ever so slightly before its face. Bulma gasped as she realized that it was a tail.
17 braced himself as the craft bucked and jarred. He glanced appraisingly at Vegeta as he tried to steer the craft and was rewarded by being jabbed in the face with the saiyaijinís elbow. Knowing there wasnít much of a point of saying anything since they were in such close quarters he looked out the small window to his left. The scenery slowly coming into view as they slid lower into the atmosphere was not what he expected. The sky was an eerie orange and the landscape was not lush and green but bare and pot-marked with holes and large tracks of dust blown plains. Basically it looked like an environmentalist on earthís worst nightmare of what pollution and misuse of the land would do.
"Frigid picked this place to be the seat of his government?" he asked incredulously.
"I told you" Vegeta replied "Heís mentally deranged."
"So by crazy you meant literally mentally ill not just in your charming, insulting way" 17 stated to which Vegeta snorted. "And you think this madman can help us?" 17 pried.
"Possibly" Vegeta answered succinctly.
"Why am I not brimming over with confidence?" the black-haired android asked.
Ignoring the androidís last cynical statement Vegeta busied himself by concentrating on the task of landing the craft. The ground rushed past as he approached the designated landing spot. He grinned as he watching the saucer-shaped craft touched down making a mental note to demand Bulma install some kind of system to soften the landing of their escape pads. Vegeta attempted to slow their velocity further as the ground rushed up to meet them. The saiyaijin gritted his teeth as they impacted with a jolt sending 17ís head smashing into his.
"Hey!" 17 shouted "Nice landing!"
"Just shut-up and letís get going!" Vegeta snapped back irritably trying to ignore his throbbing head while he slammed his fist down on the door release. Grumbling Vegeta extricated himself from the tiny cockpit and tried not to regain the use of his cramped limbs in too undignified a fashion.
In strict contrast 17 had no trouble regaining his equilibrium or flexibility and consequently shot Vegeta a significant look of superiority that didnít sit to well with the saiyaijn. Fortunately, before they could once again become hostile they were greeted by a small party of various and sundry aliens and, what 17 could only guess was the true form of Snow. Her appearance looked a great deal like what his databanks told him Freezaís final form looked. She was not terribly tall, the top of her head coming to just below his shoulder, and her lithe, sleek, graceful and definitely feminine form wasnít at all imposing lacking any plates of bone like her male counterparts save a small shelf of bone around the back and sides of her head from which two very small horns protruded. Her pale pink skin was unmarred and by the looks of things she must have been without a stick of clothing unless she had on a bodysuit the exact shade of her skin. Seeing his obvious examination of her she pulled her delicate features into an expression of acknowledgement, her large violet eyes lighting up with interest, and her lips into a self-satisfied smirk.
"Like what you see?" she questioned with a seductive lilt to her voice. "If you do I could show you some fun later and if you donít like this I can be anything you want me to be, even that barmaid you found so attractive."
17 was to shocked by the sudden nature of the proposition to answer. The idea of kinky role-playing was a bit disturbing especially coming from this tsirijin.
"Feh!" Vegeta commented "You havenít changed a bit tsirijin. You were always the most promiscuous lizard I ever met."
"Just because you were such a prude and missed out is no call to deny your friend some pleasure" Snow retorted sauntering up to the android. "What do you say?" she purred circling him predatorily coming up from behind. "It would be an experience youíd never forget" she fairly whispered in his ear.
"Uh" 17 fairly choked as her tail brushed his thigh "I think Iíll pass right now."
"Suit yourself" she stated goosing him lightly before walking away nonchalantly. "Follow me gentlemen and Iíll take you to Frigid" she said stopping to glance over his shoulder.
17, highly uncomfortable couldnít help but take nervous glances at the other people in the welcoming party who seemed either amused or repulsed. His "partner" seemed equal parts of both opinions and he himself was rather mortified to have allowed her overture at all.
"So tell me changeling why arenít you in disguise in front of the riff-raff?" he said speaking of the native guards.
"Its pointless to skulk around in the shadows at your own base" she commented lightly "the whole secrecy thing is pointless in front of allies."
"I assume these kyouryuujin are pleased about your takeover and wonít betray you to outsiders" Vegeta replied snidely "it seems you have grown a bit to careless with your peopleís best kept secret."
"New technology has made secrecy only a bureaucratic tradition" she answered. "Just like the whole retiring to the harem thing itís a waste of talent. I can do so much more out on the front lines where my skill can be recognized."
"So you thumb your nose at your peopleís tradition just like your master" Vegeta stated "a traitor to your clan, your order, and your people."
"Best keep your talk of treachery to yourself" she snapped wheeling around her eyes flashing with anger. "How dare you, who betrayed the man who raised you and gave you everything, condemn me for your ignorance. For all I know it was you who murdered Freeza and my father."
"At least your family loyalty remains intact" Vegeta said coldly with a smirk. "Iím sorry to report it wasnít me who ended their miserable lives although I wish that it was."
"Disgusting mammal!" she snapped. "You will pay for all your crimes against the Cold Clan and I will see to it that both you and that other monkey Goku suffer for all the indignities you have caused us."
"Iím sure your adopted clan would be glad to hear you speak so warmly about its greatest rival" Vegeta replied darkly.
Snowís threatening scowl abruptly changed to a cold and taunting smile. "The Frost Clan soon wonít have to debate over anything at all and then me and my true clan will hunt you down Prince of a dead race. I swear it."
She wheeled around and Vegeta smiled as he followed her. She was hotheaded and easy to provoke just like she was in his youth, so unlike her cold and calculating siblings but no less dangerous. He had gotten the information he had wanted though, it seemed she still was working underground for Cold Clan, and thus added a third volatile factor to the already dangerous equation. He was walking straight into the continuing feud of the two most powerful tsirijin clans.
Vegeta wanted to take nothing for granted so he commenced to study all of the members of their escort party. There were various soldiers of the peopleís he was familiar with connection with the Frost Clan but he was surprised to see that so many of the locals in the ranks. He hadnít expected the kyouryuujin help their invaders, but perhaps so many years under Freezaís thumb had finally taken the fight out of Zarbonís people. Zarbon was one of a handful who had went into Freezaís service, the most deciding to remain loyal to their home world. What was certain was that they found him interesting to say the least especially one girl who he had noticed watching him quite intently, perhaps someone he had met before. He looked directly at her determined to see her only to discover her to be a stranger with very notable differences between herself and any kyouryuujin he had ever seen. Although she quickly turned away and promptly hid herself from view behind a large kyouryuujin male he couldnít help notice the unusual softer tone to her blue skin and the fact she had a mismatched pair of eyes, one of the usual gold and the other a deep shade of violet. The guard whom she was using as a shield glowered at him for his scrutiny to which he gave an insolent smirk and looked ahead towards the doors to the throne room and was shocked to see two eerily familiar faces.
One alien was a dead ringer for Recoom and the other Bata, the long dead members of the Ginyu force. The doppelgangers pushed open the doors and respectfully stepped aside to admit them without making eye contact.
"What in the hell?" he exclaimed under his breath as they drew closer.
17, hearing Vegetaís exclamation, looked over at his partner to find his face pale with shock. He looked at the two beings they passed but unfortunately had no data on them to understand Vegetaís reaction.
As they entered the cavernous throne their footsteps echoed while they filed past the alien guards that flanked either side of their path until Snow stopped short and dropped to one knee. "Long live King Frigid, the greatest of our kind, ruler of the Frost Clan, destined to rule the universe," she recited.
17 smirked at the ridiculous speech of the female and took a moment to gauge Vegetaís reaction only to see him more shook up than before as he looked wildly around the room at the various aliens. This was not something the android took lightly because he knew from experience it took a lot to unsettle Vegeta. He looked around to find to his surprise that many of the guards had the exact same face as the two that had admitted them. The oneís that he didnít recognize also had their own duplicates. All of them seemed uninterested staring ahead almost like zombies from horror films. Not able to find any answers as far as this strange spectacle he decided to turn his attention to the back of the throne room.
Immediately he noted that there was a female tsirijin, the exact duplicate of their escort, standing off to the right side of the throne. She didnít seem to act like the other doubles however, because besides her uncanny resemblance she also seemed to share Snowís hatred for Vegeta by the way she was glaring daggers at him. He then looked up at the stylus upon which the throne sat eager to take in his first glimpse of Frigid.
* * * * *
Ahh! Am I cruel to leave you like that or what? Okay Iíd love to hear your reaction to this turn of events with the clone thing! I promise to reply to all reviews from now on. I decided it was the least I cold do for those of you faithfully following my stories.
Next time you finally meet Frigid in:
Chapter 11: Twisted Mind, Twisted Agenda
If you are expecting him to be just like Freeza then you are in for a surprise I think.