Chapter 26 – Plans
"She is my ward, regardless of my marital status. I claimed her, I choose her fate, not my resurrected wife," Vegeta insisted his point while standing before the nine leaders of the alliance.
"Vegeta, please," Sycro, the speaker for the group, hid a chuckle as he leaned casually back in his chair. "Let us not mince words; we all understand why you want to keep the young princess here. Any red blooded man would desire uninterrupted access to such a fair creature, but if I may remind you, you already have a gorgeous female whom you can share a bed with every night. And since you can not prove your claims that she has taken any measures to deem herself an unfit queen, she has every right to desire your mistress removed from the situation."
"My mistress!?" Vegeta screamed in outrage, there were only so many accusations he could take before eliciting an outburst. "Let me say this once again in a language perhaps you old men can understand, Bulma is mine, mine to decide her fate and mine to keep under my roof if I so desire. Her life is in my hands as was per the agreement I made with Aclon eight years ago. An agreement made with me, not Juuhachigou!"
"We understand that, Vegeta," Sycro raised his hand to halt any further argument, "however the agreement was made for Princess Bulma to become your ward, and by your own Saiya-jin customs, a citizen is recognized as an adult upon their eighteenth turning of age, a date which Bulma passed four years prior. So even by your law, Vegeta, she is not technically your ward, but instead, as you recognized her seven years ago, a Saiya-jin princess. And by your own laws once again, both the King and Queen have joint say over what will become of their subordinates—"
"Joint say," Vegeta interrupted to emphasize that very point. "But in a matter where there is a dispute, the decision lies solely in the hands of the king to choose. And I have made my choice to allow Bulma to make her own decision in the matter of wedlock. So you must honor my decision as is declared in Saiya-jin law."
Silence permeated through the room for several minutes as the heads of the senate contemplated their ruling. After a few shared whispers and a brief glance over the doctrine of Saiya-jin law, a resolution was announced. "Very well, Vegeta. We will honor your right to make rule in the matter of princess Bulma’s marital life. She may have her choice of any suitor she deems fit and then during the evening of the closing of this conference, she will wed said suitor before the public court. I think it will be a splendid event, do you all not, gentlemen?" he turned to his fellow leaders, seemingly oblivious to the blinding rage that was enveloping the Saiya-jin no Ou.
"I said nothing about a time limit on her selection!" Vegeta reminded as he forced the group’s attention back to him. "I will not force her to marry in a ridiculously restricted period of three damn days!"
Sycro narrowed his eye slightly as he heard the king’s crude order. "That is the compromise, Vegeta, your ward selects her mate as you wish her the freedom to have, and then she will marry come the end of these conferences, as your wife wishes. It is a reasonable compromise, Vegeta. Your princess has had four long comforting years of solitude, by all planetary standards she should have been joined long ago. It is time that she becomes a prosperous wife for a lucky king or prince. You cannot keep her in seclusion forever, Vegeta. Better you sever ties now before you become any more attached than you already are."
Vegeta spun to show his back to the assemblage as he tried to control his anger. This could not be happening, not now that he and Bulma were finally moving in a direction that he had for so long dreamed of. After taking several long breaths, he turned back to the leaders and decided to take another approach, "all of this is dependant solely on my marriage to Juuhachigou. Once our marriage is annulled, this ruling of yours will be void, ne?"
Raising a suspicious brow, Sycro tried not to read too much into the king’s statement. "Assuming you have grounds for an annulment; but from what I have gathered from you and her, you have none. In fact, it sounds like short of a divorce, your union will not be severed; of course, if you divorce she will acquire the bulk of your assets, and I know you do not want that."
Vegeta did not bother to respond as he turned on his heel and sped out of the room. He had no further time for the collection of bumbling idiots. He knew what he had to do, he had to find someway to convince Juuhachigou to grant him an annulment and he had to do it fast.
"What the hell do you mean you had sex with some unknown Saiya-jin last night!?" Juunanagou nearly screamed after hearing his sister’s forced admission. Only the gods know what would have happened had Juurokugou not found his sister and acquired the confession from her.
"I felt miserable!" Juuhachigou declared as she jumped to her feet in restrained anger. "Do you have any idea how humiliating it was to learn that Kakarrot was mated? Why the hell didn’t you tell me?"
Juunanagou ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, "is that all you can think about?!" he could barely control his anger at her absurd excuse. "I have given you a chance to reclaim your life, to take revenge upon the man who wronged you, to grasp the power you have too long been denied! And this is how you repay me?! By laying with what? Some low-level palace guard? Some stable hand? Do you have any idea what you have done!? If Vegeta were to learn of this act of adultery he would have grounds for his annulment and you will be left humiliated and disgraced, just like you were the last time around. Is that what you want?!"
"You know it is not!" Juuhachigou’s voice cracked as she interrupted her brother’s harsh claims. Lowering her head to cover her lips, preventing a few threatening sobs; she barely managed to mutter, "How would you feel if you just found out the one you loved was claimed by another? I was devastated Juun, I was—" her thought was broken as she felt two welcoming arms wrap around her torso to pull her into the comforting grasp of her brother. Burying her face in his shoulder, she sobbed for her lost love.
The Adajinzoun king sent a dismissive glance towards his silent partner as brother and sister were finally left alone to bare their hearts to one another in private. "I know what you are going through, trust me, I do," a hint of bitterness was laced through his words as he made the admission. "But you can not lose focus on your goals." Pulling her back so he could grasp her face in his hands, he obliged her to look into his eyes. "Listen to me Juuha, you can not allow this set back to plague you. You cannot change the fact that Vegeta separated you from Kakarrot, thus making it possible for him to move on with this harpy that he has found, but what you can change is your husband’s clemency in the matter. Take the anger and misery you feel and redirect it towards him, Juuha, you have lived for this day too long to let it go to waste over some moment of weakness."
Shaking her head in understanding, Juuhachigou wiped her tears as she stepped back from her brother to straighten herself out. "I will follow our plan," she reaffirmed her intent, "and I promise I will not stray again."
With a small sigh Juunanagou nodded, "excellent. Now why do you not go to your quarters to clean yourself up and take some time to relax?"
Juuhachigou silently nodded and disappeared from the room through the adjoining door that connected hers and her brother’s bedroom. Almost immediately after she was out of sight, Juurokugou reemerged into the room, already knowing what order would be declared next. "Kill him," Juunanagou declared as he began pacing back and forth across his room. "I do not know what you have to do to find out who she fucked, but find out who he is, and make certain he does not live long enough to whisper a word of this indiscretion!" Juurokugou silently nodded and then proceeded to begin his departure from his king’s company to complete the task when he was given one further request, "Oh, and Juurokugou, make certain his death is discreet. The last thing I need is Vegeta tracing this back to me."
"Yes, sire," the quiet affirmation came from the giant before he disappeared from the room. Certain that being the flawlessly trained warrior he was, the task could be completed swiftly and lethally.
"Chi-Chi!?" Bulma called her governess’s name as she completed her search in the stables. After searching the entire base level of the castle and taking a circular path around the exterior of the palace, she unfortunately ended her search without being any closer to having a clue as to where her teacher was. With a sigh, she walked over towards her mare and began to pull out her saddle in preparation for what she anticipated being a forest wide search, when the feel of a large hand grasping her shoulder evoked from her a horrified scream.
"Are we not incredibly jumpy?" the deep voice of her guard calmed her fears as he gently turned Bulma around to set her worries to rest. "It is only I."
Feeling the tension slowly slip away from her rigid back, the princess shook her head apologetically as she confessed, "Sorry, Radditz, it is just that I was standing right here the night I was attacked, I suppose I am still on edge."
The elder man nodded his head in understanding, mentally kicking himself for not being more considerate. "You know, if there is anything you can tell me to help take this perpetrator down, you should do so now. He deserves to be properly punished for attempting to violate you."
"I wish I could help," Bulma shook her head feebly, "but it was simply too dark, I could not make out his face. The best I can offer is that he was large, approximately Nappa’s build. Anything more, I could not tell you."
"Well, it is a start," Radditz nodded his head, consciously reminding himself to look into the matter personally. "I suppose you had no luck finding Chi-Chi either," he swiftly switched gears as he recalled their purpose for being in the stables in the first place.
"Regrettably, no," the princess frowned with disappointment. "But Kakarrot has yet to return, perhaps he has found her," she forced the optimistic comment, trying desperately to ignore the nagging feeling that something was terribly wrong.
"Found who?" the voice of the Saiya-jin king echoed through the room as he alerted his subordinates of his presence.
"Chi-Chi," Radditz informed as he offered a brisk nod to his sovereign. "Kakarrot has not seen her since the pair had an impromptu encounter with your wife. We were attempting to help him look for her."
Vegeta nodded in understanding before crudely commenting, "Then it seems Juuhachigou has been spreading her venom in more than one place. She has also done quite a number on the council members."
"Did you have any luck with them?" Bulma rushed out the question nervously. After all, it was her fate being determined.
Vegeta slowly closed and opened his eyes while massaging his forehead, "If ‘luck’ means that I was only met half way on my demands, then I suppose I did have some." Releasing his forehead he turned to face Bulma directly as he explained, "by Saiya-jin law both king and queen hold equal power, save for an occasion where a stalemate is reached. In such a matter a compromise is to be made, and so the congress took into consideration both Juuhachigou’s and my demands and made a ruling."
Silence proceeded for several seconds before Bulma demanded, "And??" she could not take the suspense, she needed to know her fate.
"And you will marry come the end of these conferences," it took all of the king’s strength to prevent himself from choking on his words. "But the power to choose who you will be joined with rests solely in your hands." Taking a step back so she could lean against Hikari’s stall, Bulma tried to control her breathing as she heard the depressing declaration. "You need not fear," Vegeta advanced on her as he saw the horrified look upon his ward’s face. Wrapping his hands around her cheeks he forced her to look into his eyes as he promised, "that is the ruling, but it will not come to pass. As long as I can discredit Juuhachigou or convince her to withdraw her demand upon your marital status this nightmare will simply go away."
"And what if it doesn’t!?" Bulma shook her face free, "Do you honestly think in a matter of two days Juuhachigou will see the light when she has been plotting your downfall for the last ten years!? Wake up, Vegeta! This is not going to go away, only I will be!"
"Not necessarily," the guard who had remained silent for most of the exchange finally spoke up. Once he was certain he had the pair’s attention, he suggested, "She can marry me."
"What?!" Vegeta twisted away from Bulma to glare daggers at the low level guard. "You are a second class soldier, you can not join with royalty, it is forbidden."
"Perhaps, but if I were say, raised to the ranking of an elite, by Saiya-jin law I would be eligible to contest for the princess’s hand," he suggested slyly as he watched the fury continue to rise within his king’s face, while conversely an exuberant sigh of relief from the princess shifted the mood greatly.
"Yes, that is true," Bulma approved his assessment of the possibility, "and if I were to marry Radditz, then I could remain on Vegeta-sei!"
"And waste the rest of your life as the mate of a low level guard? I think not," Vegeta shot the soldier an angered glare. He did not doubt for a minute the man’s ulterior motive.
"Not the rest of her life, only until this mess with your wife, who has put Bulma in this predicament in the first place, is all sorted out. I will only remain bound to her for as long as necessary. By Saiya-jin law we can at any time be granted an expedient annulment as along as the union has not been consummated and both parties willingly desire to be separated from one another."
Vegeta cringed upon the possibility of either of the two conditions, but he said nothing. As much as he resented realizing it, the warrior offered a seemingly flawless solution to an otherwise disastrous predicament. "You think this is a good idea?" Vegeta turned towards Bulma as he asked the question quietly. The glowing smile and brisk nodding of her head more than confirmed her appeasement. Helpless to do anything else, Vegeta nodded begrudgingly. "Fine," the hiss in his voice emphasized his restrained disgust in the matter. "I will announce your rise in rank, along with your engagement to the onna tonight at dinner."
"Very well, sire," Radditz poured on the flattery, he knew the beating his king’s ego must have been taking to do this.
"Thank you, Vegeta." Bulma reached out her hand to gently grasp his and guide it to her lips for a soft kiss. "This will only be temporary," she reminded, silently hoping this new arrangement would not impede his interest in initiating some kind of courtship with her.
"It had better," the monarch said threateningly towards Radditz as he used his ward’s grasp upon him against her, and with some roughness pulled her delicate body against his. "We still have unfinished business," the words were purred caressingly against her ear before Vegeta forced a passionate kiss upon the surprised female. She had not expected such a bold demonstration of his affection for her, especially in the presence of watchful eyes.
Once Vegeta broke from her lips, he look a moment to shoot a suggestive glare towards the princess’s soon to be husband, making certain that he understood what the little scene was for.
Radditz made no motion to acknowledge the scene, but felt little doubt in his king’s obvious exemplification of territorialism. Bulma was his, and if there was any doubt left in Radditz’s mind before, it was surely gone now. "We will be prompt in arriving at dinner tonight," the statement was meant to both break apart the pair and admit his complacency in the situation. It did both.
"Have either of you found Chi-Chi!?" the distant voice interrupted the three as they glanced over to see a worried Kakarrot running towards them.
"No," Bulma was the first to adjust to the swift change in the conversation’s momentum. "We were waiting for you. Radditz and I had hoped you found her."
Shaking his head frantically, the guard insisted, "We have to find her. The longer she is gone, the more concerned I become. It is not like her to simply take off like this, even if she is angry with me."
"Right," Bulma agreed wholeheartedly as she ordered that they take their search to the woodlands and even further into nearby villages. After a resounding agreement with her plan, Radditz and Kakarrot quickly mounted Karyudo and Chibi Odango and separated to search the two closest villages, both promising to return to this location in two hours, should their searches come up empty.
Bulma was all but prepared to investigate a few of her governess’s preferred woodland locations, when a strong hand grabbed the reins of her mount, halting her departure. "Where do you think you are going, onna? I ordered you not to be left alone while Juunanagou is lurking around." His tone softened to hold a hint of empathy as he saw her sunken expression to hearing his words. "Onna, I know you are concerned, but leave the search to Kakarrot and his brother. I will not have your safety chanced in a pursuit that will most likely end up for not."
Glaring at her warden, Bulma argued, "Chi-Chi is like a mother to me, Vegeta! I will not stand by idly while only the gods know what has happened to her. Now, either get out of my way and allow me to find her, or face Hikari’s trampling hoofs."
With a repressed smirk, Vegeta stepped aside, "all right, onna, you win." She was persistent, a quality he loved about her. Whistling, he beckoned his well-trained mount out of its stall.
Raising her brow, Bulma asked, "What are you doing?"
"You do not expect me to allow you passage by your lonesome, do you?" he questioned brazenly as he mounted his midnight stallion. Directing Akuma into the light of the afternoon, he mocked, "well, are you coming or not?"
Shaking her head, Bulma silently wondered if this over protectiveness was a sign as to what was to come should their relationship develop any further. Gods, she hoped it was. Without reply, Bulma, followed by Vegeta, set out in search of the missing female, hopeful that she would be found unharmed.
"Let me get this straight," Juunanagou narrowed his eyes as he glared at the political leader. "You are still forcing the princess to marry, but she has the liberty to choose who the lucky man will be?!"
Sycro nodded briskly; the husky man continued to walk towards the dining hall for a pre-dinner snack. "Yes, that is my ruling, an even compromise between husband and wife. There was simply no fairer way to handle the matter."
"Yes, there was!" Juunanagou protested adamantly, "you could have maintained your vow to my sister that she would make the selection for Bulma’s suitor."
Shaking his head, Sycro brushed the man’s insistence off. "If I did not compromise, Vegeta could have contested the ruling of the court, and thus nullified any order I made. Your plans are still in order. You merely have to convince the princess to marry you. You did it once; I have faith that you can do it again."
Growling at the extra planning this mess would now take, Juunanagou spun away from the leader with the intention of departing without further word when a sordid reminder tickled his ears. "And do not forget our agreement, Juun, once she is your wife, you will give her to me for one bliss filled night."
Juunanagou cringed as he falsely smiled and nodded in compliance to their arrangement, silently reminding himself to make the leader’s death particularly brutal for believing that he would be foolish enough to share a prize like the princess. She was meant to be his, and he knew of only one failsafe way to ensure that she would agree to marry him. It was a last resort, for he would have to show his true colors to achieve such a feat, but it seemed he no longer had any choice.
Heading towards his chambers, he had to set a few stratagems into play before ensuring his victory. A victory he could almost already taste.
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