Chapter 28 – Plots and Counterplots
"Onna!" The concerned voice of Vegeta was heard over all other startled onlookers as he unceremoniously caught her before she fell. Within seconds Radditz and the nearest planetary leaders had her surrounded as they attempted to assess what had happened to the seemingly unharmed female.
"Bulma?" Radditz called her name as he and Vegeta simultaneous knelt down on the ground to attempt to resuscitate the suddenly afflicted princess.
"Give her some room to breath, damn it," the seamlessly frantic voice of Juunanagou shouted as he roughly pushed through the circle surrounding them as he knelt down next to the infuriated men.
Grabbing the king’s collar, more than ready to throttle him for his exploitation of the situation, Radditz threatened, "Get the hell away from here. The princess’s well-being is not your concern."
Choking to fight for breath, the Adajinzoun objected, "It is when she is carrying my child."
The stunned expressions of both Radditz and Vegeta slowly fell upon the bold king as the entire room was silenced by the impromptu announcement. "What did you just claim?" the mordant voice of the Saiya-jin monarch permeated through the room, causing more than one man to swallow nervously.
"Bulma is with child, it was confirmed just hours ago by two separate midwives," the king announced as he pushed Radditz’s violent hands away so he could finish. "She is carrying my heir."
"That’s a lie!" Radditz was fast to force his objection. It was simply impossible, the princess was untouched; she would not have lied to him about such an imperative truth.
Straightening his attire out, Juunanagou cleared his throat before continuing. "No, it is not. If you do not believe me, summon the midwives who examined her. They will confirm the authenticity of my claim."
"Only if you bribed them to do so," Vegeta declared boldly before returning to his still unconscious ward. "Bulma," he whispered her name so softly, only Radditz and Juunanagou were close enough to hear the gentle articulation.
After a few further moments of silence, a soft moan from the awakening onna sparked a sigh of relief from the surrounding few. Helping her to sit upright, Vegeta asked carefully, "Are you all right?" The question came with the feel of his hand against her forehead, checking to make certain she was not running a fever.
"Yes," Bulma barely whispered, as she made certain not to look into her warden’s eyes. Accepting his helping hand, she was guided to her feet, seemingly oblivious to the exchange that had the entire group awaiting either her denial or confirmation. "I think I just need some rest. I feel awfully worn out."
"That is to be expected," Juunanagou forced the comment to be acknowledged as he pressed himself forward to stand by her side, pleased when she immediately broke from her warden’s grasp and accepted his. "Come my darling, we should have you examined to make certain our child is well." The silent nod the princess offered in response was all the spectators needed to conclude that the Adajinzoun king and the Saiya-jin princess were in fact lovers. But for the two Saiya-jin males surrounding them, the simple gesture was far from convincing.
"Neither of you are going anywhere," Vegeta sidestepped the pair, blocking their path towards to exit.
"The lady is ill, Vegeta," Juunanagou’s tone reflected the epitome of concern, "I need to make certain she is examined and our child is—"
"There is no child, stop spewing these ridiculous lies!" The accusations sent a shocked murmur throughout the crowd, reminding him how public their spectacle was. Briefly turning towards the assemblage, he barked dangerously, "Everyone clear out now!" The frightening tone was more than enough to send most of the spectators sprinting from the room, and the few whom were more resistant to the order were shuffled out by surrounding Saiya-jin guards. After several minutes that felt like an eternity, the room was all but cleared out save for Bulma, Juunanagou, Radditz, Vegeta and a hidden figure that watched from the shadows of a nearby pillar. "All right, your audience is gone, what the hell is the meaning of this farce!?" The Saiya-jin king focused his eyes on the princess before him; it was unnerving to see her refuse to meet his gaze.
"This is no farce, Vegeta; it is the gods’ honest truth. Bulma is carrying my child." The proud man slithered his hand around her waist to rest upon her stomach for emphasis. "So the sooner you accept that, the less painful this will be for us all."
"I accept nothing!" Vegeta sliced his hand through the air in an infuriated gesture of rage before pivoting on his heel and pacing back and forth in a poor attempt to calm himself. As he did so, another voice ventured to speak.
"Though I am not an expert on child rearing, I do happen to know that a couple must mate to conceive, and since the two of you have not, this trick you are pulling is a severe waste of all our time," Radditz kept a calm placid expression upon his face as he looked down at the cuddled pair.
"No one asked you to speak, monkey!" Juunanagou snapped, images of the guard with his onna from the night prior still fresh in his mind.
"Perhaps not, but my interest in the matter is as pertinent as yours since that is my fiancé you hold in your arms," uncrossing his arms, Radditz reached out a hand to pull her away. "Come on, saiai, tell him."
Raising her head for the first time since her faked brush with unconsciousness, she admitted slowly, "I know that was the plan, Radditz, but I can not marry you. Not now."
Scanning her eyes, the elder man growled as he realized, "he is blackmailing you with something. What is it, saiai?" after taking a step forward to reach out to her, he was abruptly stopped by Bulma’s loud objection.
"He is not entrapping me!" The almost desperate sounding admission forced the attention of all the surrounding men upon her. "Look, I," she ran her fingers through her curly mane in an attempt to calm herself. She failed miserably. "I know this must all sound insane, but it is the truth. I was feeling a little queasy after I returned to my chambers from seeing Chi-Chi. I thought at first it was merely a reaction to all the insanity that had been happening, but I wanted to be certain, so I had myself examined and that was when I found out I was," she took a long breath, slowly closing and opening her eyes, willing her tears not to fall. "I did not want to believe it at first, but a healer and two separate midwives confirmed I am… I am with child." The dam withholding her tears completely collapsed as the words echoed through the room. Forcing herself to look directly towards Vegeta, she forced her confession, "I am so sorry I lied to you about my coupling with Juunanagou, but I knew you would be so ashamed of me if you knew the truth," she made a point to cover all her bases, ensuring Vegeta’s detachment from her. "But I can not lie anymore, not at the expense of my child’s father." Burying her face in the palms of her hands, she muffled her sobs until Juunanagou pulled her into his embrace, pleased by her performance.
"Well, gentlemen, I think you have upset my fiancé more than enough for one evening. Now, if you will excuse us, she needs to be examined." Guiding the emotional woman out the door, Juunanagou was pleased when the brute of a guard prevented Vegeta from stopping them as they disappeared into the hall.
Once out of sight, Bulma violently pushed herself out of the king’s grasp. "I hope you are happy," she hissed at the gloating man. "I did what you want; Vegeta thinks I am carrying your child so I am sure he hates me now. So if you do not mind, I would like to go wallow in my misery over the situation." Hoping to flee from the smarmy man, Bulma turned to head down the hall towards her room, when she was stopped rather forcefully.
"Ah, ah, ah, not so fast, princess," Juunanagou swung her around so she was plush against his body. "There is still the other part of our agreement that you have to fulfill if you do not want the shadow of an archer whom is arming for your warden to complete his task." Releasing her arms, he allowed her a moment to massage her bruises before explaining, "You have two hours to ‘wallow in your misery,’ and then I expect you in my chambers, fully prepared to complete our agreement or else," he gouged his index finger into his chest in a suggestive manner, "well, you know what happens." Twisting past the raging onna, he laughed heartily as he dodged the few heated punches she threw at him; Juunanagou headed towards his chambers, while seductively suggesting, "Do bring that passion with you tonight!"
And with that sick thought, Bulma collapsed against a nearby wall and began to curse her miserable luck, all the while completely oblivious to the empathetic figure that had watched their entire exchange from afar.
"Damn it, I should have known she was lying to me!" Vegeta bellowed as he paced frantically back and forth across the dining hall, chaotically throwing things in a poor attempt to help vent his rage. "Her story was too farfetched, of course it was untrue! If only I had not been so desperate to believe it, I would have realized it sooner!" He flipped a table over to expel the last of his energy before sinking to the ground unceremoniously. As he swiftly wiped a piece of debris away from him, he cursed under his breath, "this is a fucking nightmare."
"And should that not set warning signs off in your mind?" the burly man who stood quiet during the king’s rampage finally spoke up. "Even the most perfectly laid plots could not have been woven as well as this. Think about it, Vegeta, what are the chances, even if Bulma and Juunanagou mated and she actually was impregnated, that tonight, of all nights, when Juunanagou was out of recourse, she learned she was with child? Come on, you know it does not make any sense. Fate is not that cruel!"
"The hell it is not," Vegeta sprang to his feet in a near fury. "My entire life has been fate’s cruel joke!" spinning on his heel, the king tried to calm himself as he massaged his forehead with his fingers. "I was so close, after so many damn years…" the soft confession was just barely spoken, but Radditz’s keen hearing picked up the disappointed realization.
"You still have a choice, Vegeta," the low-keyed whisper was enough to straighten the king’s shoulders, signaling that he was listening. "You can contest the paternity."
Raising his brow in confusion, Vegeta turned his head slightly as he questioned, "What the hell are you talking about? I never mated with Bulma, so the child obviously cannot be mine!" a heavy hint of regret was laced through his voice.
"But, Juunanagou does not know that," the shrewd reminder seemed to peak Vegeta’s attention as he turned around to fully face the now elite. "Bulma told me Juunanagou walked in on the two of you in bed together, and assuming the two of you had mated, spewed a series of crude remarks towards her. Now, from what she told me, neither of you denied the charge, so there is no reason Juunanagou—"
"would not believe it was true unless the onna tells him otherwise," Vegeta completed the plan as he contemplated its possibilities. He found several flaws. "But, then what? It will disgrace the onna if it is publicized that she has been with two men in a matter of days! Not to mention the humiliation it would put on the child should he or she ever come to term. I will not destroy her and the child, not even to stop Juunanagou from taking the onna away."
"You would not have to," Radditz advised, "Juunanagou’s honor would take a beating if it were known that his bride was promiscuous. He would not want this dispute made public any more than you do. Vegeta, if you can simply convince Bulma to follow through with the lie it will give us a chance to at the very least hold off a marriage, but more importantly time to figure out where the hell we go from here after all that has been happening."
Turning his back to the soldier yet again, Vegeta took several minutes to consider his options before realizing that he scarcely had any others. "All right, I will see if I can talk any sense into the onna." Without further acknowledgement, Vegeta departed from the hall, hoping to find the princess and set into motion a plan he feared she would not follow.
Once Radditz believed he was alone, he sunk to the ground in a similar fashion Vegeta had merely minutes ago. As he massaged his temples, he hoped to relieve some of the stress, when a delicate hand grasped his shoulder, breaking his concentration. Spinning his head around to gaze upon the blonde haired female that had caught his attention, the man’s jaw practically dropped as he slowly rose to his feet. "You," he wondered how she had found her way to his side. "What are you doing here?"
Taking a long breath of her own, she closed her eyes momentarily before she began to speak. "I can help you save your princess from the unlawful marriage Juunanagou wishes her to partake in."
Widening his eyes, the elder man could not help but ask, "How do you know what has been going on? And why would you wish to help?" The skepticism in his voice was highly prominent.
"Because," she sighed slowly, "I will not stand by and allow my brother to browbeat Bulma as I am beginning to believe he did me."
Blinking his eyes several times as if trying to make certain the female before him was in fact saying what his ears were echoing throughout his mind, the repetition almost immediately followed, "your brother?"
Nodding her head with a hint of shame, she agreed. "Yes, Juunanagou is my brother. I am Juuhachigou, your queen."
"Well, is it done?!" Juunanagou demanded, as he stormed into his room, not even needing to look over towards his desk to know his associate was present.
The husky man nodded his head as he rose to his feet. "I found a Saiya-jin approximately fitting the build of the man your sister coupled with returning from the woodlands not terribly long after your sister did, very much looking as though he had just departed from a, how should I put it, rather zealous workout. So, I disposed of him. But not without some effort however, these Saiya-jins are not the pushovers they appear to be."
"No, they are not," Juunanagou nodded in both agreement and foreboding. "So you had better be on your toes for a while. Once they find out one of their own is dead they will all be out for blood."
"Of course, sire," Juurokugou nodded, fully prepared to handle the heated situation that would most certainly ensue. "And what of Vegeta? Do you wish me to order Juugogou to stand down?"
Shaking his head, the Adajinzoun king chuckled as he disagreed. "Of course not, how will I be able to keep my bride in line without the aid of an arrow chasing Vegeta’s heart?"
Narrowing his eyes, the warrior sighed warningly. "You do realize sir, the longer Vegeta is tracked, the more likely Juugogou’s exposure will be. And if it is discovered that you have sent an assassin after the Saiya-jin king, you could stand to lose much more than just your position among the elites of society."
Batting his hand at the wary soldier, Juunanagou disagreed, "Relax man, we have barely three days left before the princess and I will be married. So trust me," he lifted his right arm to pat the larger man on the back as he began to guide him out of the room, "everything will go exactly to plan." Opening the door, he offered one last piece of advice before shuffling the man out, "now if you do not mind, Bulma and I have a private evening planned, so do not dare come to check in with me before noon tomorrow. I will not stand for any interruptions."
Nodding his head, the still unsettled man said nothing further as he left his king to his evening, silently hoping the monarch’s flawless plan would be just that.
"So, can you help her?" Kakarrot asked the shinrigakusha desperately as he held his emotionless mate’s hand tenderly.
The elderly man shook his head sadly as he explained, "she has retreated inside of herself; I am not certain how long it will be before she feels safe enough to reemerge."
"Safe enough?" the young guard shook his head, lacking understanding of that which the mind healer was speaking on. "She has nothing to be afraid of, Chi-Chi is a strong onna; her mind would not be broken so easily!"
Rising to his feet, the shinrigakusha sighed apologetically. "I believe you, sir, you know your mate best; which means whatever she saw that has forced her mind to shut the world out like this must have been terribly horrific. You would be wise to trace her steps prior to her fall; if you were to discover what has instigated this state she has succumbed to, it will go a long way to helping bring her back to us."
Nodding briskly in affirmation, Kakarrot saw the man to the exit, vowing to do everything in his power to decipher what has caused his mate such upheaval. "Please summon me if you need anything further," the gentle promise was made before taking his departure, leaving Kakarrot once more to his numbed mate.
After retaking his rightful spot by her side, Kakarrot grasped her hand more securely as he quietly pleaded for some aid, "please, Chi, I need you to come back to me. Our child needs you to come back for us. You have to give me some sign as to what I can do to help you." Realizing his plea would not be answered, the Saiya-jin dropped his head to rest upon his mate’s stomach. Closing his eyes he began to whisper words of comfort to his unborn child, including promises like his mother would pull through this and that there was no need to worry; he only wished he could have taken the same advice.
It was some time after, when Kakarrot was beginning to fall under the spell of sleep, that the resonance of a single name graced his ears. At first, the man had thought it his imagination, but when he lifted his head to look upon his still mate, he saw her lips part ever so slightly as she shakily whispered the name again.
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Juugogou - Fifteen