Disclaimer: As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and that the lawyers don't take away my money for a rainy day. So please if they do read this rhyme, remember I’ve not made a dime, or claimed to own in any way, the characters of Akira Toryiama or the story ideas of Madame Orczy.

(Hey, I've never claimed to be a poet).

Note: Part of this chapter will be written in a style similar to the one used in Chapter Three of Huntress, mainly that flashback sequences integrated with present time scenes will be written in either Italics or Bold type. What would I do without formatting? There is also a mention (nothing graphic) of some sexual content and a good deal of violence, so read at your own risk, especially if you are sensitive to these issues or under legal age. Credit goes to Lisalu for the use of one of her species names. After reading her work, I can't think of another name for them. And one final note, this is a thanks to Lisa Starr, for giving me back the flow and desire to write that was so long ago lost. Both your beautiful work and your wonderful personality are a source of inspiration.


Chapter Two


"Damn it. Whose moronic idea was it to hold a meeting on this of all nights, with the very enemy under our noses? You might as well announce every detail of this little operation at the next intergalactic conference before the Colds get a chance. I cannot honestly believe that Freeza would send the head of military operations of the border region by accident. I've heard too much about that white bastard to know he doesn’t do anything by chance. If what our contacts in Tsume and my instincts tell us is true, he is more sadistic than his father, and he's on to something. It was foolish to even consider that this could go unnoticed for so long. Maybe we should just cut our losses…"

"And leave our allies stranded while we stave off the inevitable, proving once and for all that the Saiyajin race is just another species frightened into submission by the Colds. Spoken like a true caitiff, Parnis. We did not come this far and get in this deep to just turn back at the first sign of trouble. It is not the warrior way; it's not the Saiyajin way. You do poorly by your descendants, Mahonia, even the bed wenches of my eldest have more guts than that." The older warrior proclaimed, the lilt of a Western brogue still found in the roll of his rs and the harshness of his vowels. The years spent away from his native moors and plains travelling through the void of space could not hide his roots. Yet as soon as the words left his mouth, the man's face hardened and he grimaced at his unfortunate slip of the tongue.

For the first time since the meeting began he must have taken notice of the other people in the room. While it didn't alter his identity, his time in space had shifted his perceptions of other races and species enough to give them any consideration at all. The change was evident in the self-conscious flicker in those normally cool, assessing eyes now set on the various non-Saiyajin faces. Even in the dim light, the expressions of unease and rage were apparent on those who knew the stigma of slavery.

It was a victory in and of itself that they were here, sitting along side warriors and the pinnacle of the Saiyajin race, these former slaves and oppressed people. Maybe it was the years amongst their kind, or a reflection of a sentiment that had been growing since the King's proclamation that made even the third class warrior hold his tongue and show consideration to beings who were not even acknowledged as life a few decades ago.

What strange bed fellows the forces of war created. It made diplomats out of grizzled fighters, and fighters out of diplomats, to say nothing of the opposing groups and views that would sit together in the same room. Old tensions not withstanding, memories of past indignities and former positions of power would fade. They seemed to be already slipping away in the desire for a mutual end, the defeat of a common enemy. Equality between the different species was a goal that would come with time and success, when they were all part of the same Empire. In the meantime, older tensions than racial hatred, those of blood, rank, and clan caused the greatest damage. Time or unity, while it could heal many sins, could not erase them between Saiyajins.

"Maybe you should think of the mission and not your fear for your position, boy. If the presence of one enemy makes you turn tail, what will happen when you find yourself in a real battle? You’re jittery about one blue skinned puff in our presence, not because of what he is but what he could represent? I suppose if, or rather when, the Colds decide to break through the border, you’ll probably welcome them with open arms, as long as you don’t have to face any danger. It's a good thing you were born of high blood. You wouldn't have made it to puberty if you had been sent out on an infant purge. I doubt you would even reach your next year if you had to join the ranks of the purging squads."

"How dare you, you third class Viscum bastard. I served ten years on the general staff of Commander Romale, fighting in the battles to fortify our hold on the central and western portions of the galaxy. I've seen this Empire grow strong and looked into as many enemies' eyes as you and I will not give all of that up for a battle that isn't our own. I've earned my right to serve the Empire, even if I don't actively tempt the gods of Fates. But tell me, Bardock, what's your justification? You trail after your sons and their glory, act as if you have the power to defeat the Colds singlehandedly when you're nothing but a lowly squad leader." The Saiyajin’s eyes shifted from one warrior to his younger copy, snarling in disgust at the white egis emblazoned with insignia of the off-world troops.

"How could the King and council show such bad judgement by putting a Viscum in any position of power? The whole pack of you are nothing but traitors to the crown. At least they were smart enough to ship your genetic throwbacks off planet with their ‘old man. Better to have them rotting out in space than on Vegetasei, even if they do have some ill-gotten rank." The words were barely out of the Under Secretary's mouth before they were drowned out by a curt snort and a look that promised pain radiating from a set of hard black eyes.

"Say that again, Mahonia, and it'll be my pleasure to teach you who your better is as I pound your pampered, inbred ass into the arena floor." As coolly and calmly as the challenge was given, it was answered with a growl that betrayed all emotions.

It was on Parnis' lips to call Bardock's bluff, the younger nobleman's eyes burning with barely contained anger. This was an offence of the highest order and Parnis meant to take back the honour that all Saiyajins held sacred, even more than their loyalties to the ancestral clans. Anger shifted to blood lust as his eyes glazed over, his focus solely on his lower ranked opponent. Nothing else mattered; the various warriors and non-Saiyajins in the room, the rebels, Zarbon, Freeza, and the whole operation. As far as Parnis was concerned, they could all go to …

"Enough!" The single voice screamed out in the shadow filled room, the cry punctuated by a loud clang of flesh against wood and stone as the speaker's massive fists struck the table in his anger. With that one gesture, the attention of the silent, strained audience swayed from the match of wills to the giant Saiyajin that had assumed the head of the table, and unconsciously, the group referee. And what a motley group it was, the Secretary of State chided himself, regarding the awkward collection of individuals.

It was truly a sight, seeing some of the strongest and most formidable men in the Empire sitting as peers with former slaves and rebels. It was stranger still to consider the reason for the meeting, nothing less than the destruction of a tyrant and the establishment of a free Saiyajin protectorate. Each individual provided a small piece to the puzzle, one that stretched over three systems, encompassing millions of lives if they succeeded. If they failed ... Cawliefe didn’t want to contemplate the consequences. Theirs was a hard-fought battle, one for hearts and minds, of guerrilla tactics and nameless allies, where one overheard word or neglected detail would cost them everything.

Still holding the command of the room, Cawleife sighed heavily through his nose and ran his hand through his thick spiked locks, an old habit that he seemed to never discard, the gesture somehow bringing a temporary halt to the hostilities.

 It was almost a year now since he had been approached to the help form this small, extraordinary cabal. At first he had thought it a fake, or a means to flush out the dangerous elements in the royal council, vassals of the ruling house were cutthroat in their efforts to remove any rival. It wasn’t until he had received a summons from one of the chiefs at the helm that he realised it was no game. There had been near constant whispers and grumbling against the tentative peace since its conception in that desperate, blood soaked time, but only now had the incessant talk moved into actions, but in a direction no one could have imagined. The tentative peace of the treaty wasn’t the only consequence of the war.

Fifty years ago, to reward the allies of the Saiyajin-Tsirujin war, the Ou signed a proclamation declaring all slave worlds and slaves of the Empire free. Since then, a silent war existed between the old and the new, in the hearts and minds of every true Saiyajin born before and after the accursed treaty was signed. In many ways, this newest breakthrough came as a travesty to the old Saiyajin ways. It was a product of young and hungry blood, new ideas, and the coming forth of new, unconventional allies. As a warrior of the old ways he was filled with horror, this plotting and scheming, using technology and working with races that were not considered life twenty years. Yet, it appealed to that warrior he was, and the statesman he became, this genius born out of adversity. He hadn’t felt this way since he joined forces with the current Ou in the last great battle for the Empire that made the Saiyajins a true force in the Universe. Here he was again, part of the push to raise the Empire beyond its current plateau, along with nine men of his race, several desperate rebel leaders and three systems of loyal followers who knew nothing of whom they had sworn allegiance. Unfortunately, not all his comrades shared his new found egalitarianism.

 "Cawliefe, you cannot be so blind to the danger we are facing. You've fought against Cold and his army, you above any of us should know how devious he is and I can’t believe his son would be any different. No matter what this country back water thinks, I am not going to jeopardise the fate of the Empire for the fleeting hope of a successive coup d'état." Cawliefe groaned to himself as the argument started again, with obligatory dig at Bardock. Victory was one thing but pride was another and Parnis' higher born blood was not coping well with the idea of being on equal footing with someone of lower birth, let alone with former slaves.

Just as quickly and harshly as the insult was thrown, a growl of warning came from the other side of the table, from 'the lower orders', as most Saiyajins above first rank referred to them in private. Had he been able, the older statesmen might have given his acquaintance a warning look himself. Whatever thoughts Cawliefe had about Bardock, it was a fool's errand to say them in front of the unusually strong third class warrior, especially in the company of his son.

Letting the mini-verbal growling war play out, Cawliefe looked about the room for an aid, but no one seemed able or interested in breaking up the feud. Why should they, he realised, they were grouped in their own coteries.

Still dressed in their ceremonial armour from the reception, the Minister of War and his under Secretary sat as a single block, the necessary evil as he titled them. Whether it was loyalty or personal gain that convinced them to join, the two men had put aside their considerable distrust to aid the cause, a fact they both reminded him every time the group met. Close to them on the same side, the Minister of Finance was seated with his own underling, a young, grey skinned Occhion book keeper. At first he had balked at the servant’s involvement, but Noion assured him of the boy’s loyalty and skill, calling the Occhion nothing less than a miracle worker.

Looking down at the young and obviously nervous man, more a boy in a pit of powerful jackals, Cawliefe had to give his own grudging respect. Twenty years ago, the Occhion would be little better than a slave, and for most of the old guard and powers within the Saiyajin government, less than dirt under their feet. A first generation freeman, Miriat had proven all Cawliefe’s suspicions false, but the nagging sense of doubt still weighed on him. Fifty years was a life time to some species, but compared to three hundred years, it was nothing, especially when one bore the wounds of slavery. Whether Miriat bore a grudge or not, he didn’t show it, the Occhion’s eyes focussed intently on the ground, the only one on that side of the table showing such deference.

The battle of wills was still going on between Parnis and Bardock, only now their respective sides had gotten involved. With his whole body tense and ready to attack, Panis stared icy daggers at his opponent across the table, the grizzled and scarred Letunce stared daggers in general, while Noion’s gaze shifted to each person at the table. The three elite warriors had all, at one time or another, shown their disgust for the plan and the players involved, standing as sentinels of the by-gone era. They signed the documents, created the means, and scorned the method even while they dreamed of its results. Hardest of all was the knowledge that the success of the mission rested on the shoulders of the group that fought against the longest, the Western Saiyajins or 'Elites' of the purging squad class, Kakarott called them. Cawliefe often wondered how close Kakarott was to the truth of that statement, his power on a level approaching Nappa’s and the greatest vassals of the Southern houses.

 No more than twenty two years of age, he was already an officer in the Royal Saiyajin military and a head of the military corps near the disputed territory. The man was a testament to everything not Saiyajin with his lower than average birth ki and higher than average intelligence. Yet he had succeed beyond the limits of his blood to achieve a rank worthy of Parnis' noble lineage itself. Worse than that for the nobles, Kakarott was a testament to his father, a mirror image in appearance but for the heavier scarring and tanned skin that spoke of a life as the purveyor of planetcide. Bardock, now there was another Saiyajin stronger than his blood and smarter than his superiors. No wonder Parnis' tail twitched like a cornered snake when either father or son were found in his sight.

 "You couldn't possibly be doubting the King's guards, Under Security. Nappa would be so offended." The airy tenor of Kakarott's voice now filling the room, drawing a chuckle from the 'lower orders' and Elites alike, though there were several glances into the dark of the room in caution. As much as dislike for the pompous air and stupidity of the Commander was a quality shared by all, the man's position was highly coveted, and his loyalty and connection to the crown without reproach.

 "I doubt the blue lackey has been out of sight by our scouters since the convoy arrived, and none of his attendants or the ambassadors from the Colds would have the balls to try such a scheme." The another member of the soldiers' triad added, a lower officer in the ranks of the off world military forces. He was another of this new ‘Elite’ order, two years above Kakarotttt’s own age, and more powerful than reason dictated he should be. Zucin, he believed the man was called, a Western name, not that the soldier could hide his origin. His words, like those of Bardock, were accented with harsh consonants and overdrawn vowels of the regional brogue. With a moderate build and a collection of wild spikes, he looked like another other soldier in the off-world troops, one Cawliefe had never laid eyes on.

Until the moment he opened his mouth and backed up his commanding officer, Zucin was just another faceless soldier that performed his duty without knowledge of exactly why or who was commanding him, until now. Like the majority of the alien races that had taken their aid, the soldiers who carried out the drops knew nothing but the whens and wheres. It was better this way, the less a soldier knew, the less of a liability they would be. Such blind loyalty was due to the efforts of the last silent man at the table. He was above Bardock's son in the off-world ranks, above most of the table in terms of blood rank, and he should have been higher, if it were not for the lovely alien female that sat by his side.

Potat himself showed no great concern by Zucin's knowledge, or his capacity to run at the mouth, but then neither did the man's direct superior. Maybe marriage had begun to soften his old comrade, while the impetuousness of youth making Kakarott unwary by such openness. Something about Zucin though gave the Secretary pause. This one knows more than he should already, all the way to knowing the security procedures for the palace and foreign dignitaries. After this meeting, Cawliefe realised, he would have to speak to Potat about speaking so freely with his own officers. When the operation depended on each part only knowing a part of the whole, a man how knew too much and was unwise in sharing it might prove their undoing.


"Beyond whether Zarbon is hear to ‘spy’ on us, there is a far greater issue to discuss with regards to his presence. The Tsiru-jin are a ruthless race, sadistic and egotistical in their own way. No move they make is by coincidence, or without being thoroughly thought out. They sent Zarbon for a reason, whether he realises it or not, to tell us we have overplayed our hand. The rebels have enough weaponry to hurt the Cold Empire, let them fight for their own freedom and wash our hands of the whole affair. A rebel planet will not allow itself to come under the thumb of Saiyajin rule, not without the threat of them rebelling against us, just as they have against the Colds." The normally silent Noion replied, a measure of the snobbery coming out after listening to Zucin's brogue. Unlike the younger Parnis though, his head was far cooler and his blood not so full of rage, but he could be more dangerous for it. Even the beleaguered Secretary of State had to concede to Noion's reasoning.

 "Can any of us believe with any certainty that we need these weak slave worlds to topple the Tsiru-jin, particularly after the confrontation tonight. It was the only thing that made this mockery of a 'celebration' worthwhile.

"Cawliefe, you and the King might be committed to keeping the peace but the actions of the Prince is what will shape our future. I only wished that it could have been taken to the arena, for no other reason that to show the Cold's the strength of our side. The diplomatic service has destroyed you, Cawliefe. You used to be a warrior, used to remember that we were warriors and it should be by a warrior's honour that we should move, not this … this shameful hiding. If we mean to crush them we will do it with Saiyajin strength, out in the open." He has gone into the wrong profession, Cawliefe thought, as low approving growls came at the end of Letunce's little speech, and one contemptuous snort.

 "There is more than just the simple physical brute force, Minister Letunce. Even in your own discipline of combat, you must allow the need for strategy, especially when facing an opponent far stronger than yourself. It would be suicide to try anything else."

Up until that point, neither he nor his fellow Saiyajins gave attention or glance to her, the last great link in the chain of command. Yet, most of the men in the room had never seen her face to face until this night. She was a credit to her species and her mission to free them from their enslavement.

Since she first stood up during a meeting of intergalactic diplomats and spoke out against the powerful Cold Empire, he had been impressed with her, a sentiment he did not bestow often to anyone, particularly to non-Saiyajins. When he finally pledged himself to this plan, the Chikyuu-jin Ambassador was the one person he knew had to be on their side, she was the link to the rebels. As the voice of those oppressed under the Cold's hand, she had the ear of every rebel and freedom organisation in the borderlands and easily urged them each to join this shadow coalition. And come they did, flocking by the dozens to the mysterious benefactor who gave them weapons, supplies, and a promise of sanctuary for what they had been doing all along, defying the Colds. There was mettle in the small, frail women beyond most warriors twice her size, as she was aptly demonstrating with her last comment. After seeing her in the diplomatic arena against the Colds, Letunce would be a breeze. Whether her determination was born in the blood or bred through the life as a rebel and a refugee, it held firm as the backlash came.

 "Hold your tongue, bitch. How dare you insult the Saiyajin race. This isn't some simple game, this is war, something beyond anyone of such low blood. The Saiyajin have survived for centuries as a solitary specie. We grow strong and fight with honour, like true warriors. This whole mission is an affront to everything held dear by our ancestors: fraternising with these rebels, using technology, even take kinship with these vermin." Letunce growled, the words bitter on his tongue, a sneer forming on his scarred tan face. His stare moved away from the frail, pale female, to his fellow nobles and members of his race as he played on their racial pride and prejudices.

"If we mean to attack the Colds, the only means that can and should be used is open conflict, not this crawling and begging and cowardly hiding." Once more there was a show of support, smaller now. Noion was too controlled in his emotions to react to Letunce's propaganda, but Parnis, ever the politician himself, took the sentiment given to him.

 "Yes, we've invested more than enough time and resources into this mission. If these 'allied species' are not established by now, if they continue to demand aid then every moment we keep this up is putting the Empire in danger. I still say that there is more than just coincidence behind Zarbon being sent, they suspect.

"We’ve been far too lucky as it is. All we need is one slip up, one communication intercepted, and the border will be a memory. This plan and these rebel worlds have become a liability. We are diverting funds to pay for arms and supplies for weaklings when we could be strengthening our own defences. And for what, a bunch of weakling traitors who will probably start attacking us as soon as they join the Empire. Once a rebel always a rebel." The palatable sense of contempt radiated off Parnis as he addressed the last great issue, at least for every Saiyajin involved.

Again the room was silent, the challenge made and accepted, first by the human ambassador, countered by the Saiyajins. All eyes were on her now awaiting her answer. As the symbol of the rebels and their fight against the Colds, she had unwittingly become the symbol of the alliance, and its continued existence hinged on her force of her will, and another’s. Allowing his eyes to dart back to the unseen presence, he gave a single probing glance, holding his breath until he received a subtle nod, and the Saiyajin at the head of the table stared down at the Chikyuu-jin at its foot.

Against his stern nature, the hardened warrior gave a light smirk as the woman's face transformed, first flush with anger, pale with realisation, tight with worry, only to return to cloaked confidence. That woman was a fighter, he growled to himself, and a very lovely one at that. Her features were soft, yet they could almost pass for Saiyajin, he admitted as he took in the changing details of her strong face in the low light. Just like Noion, she was a pillar of discipline, her body still as a stone and with the same warmth, only the enigmatic flickering in her eyes giving any indication of her anger. She was not the only one who was so enraged, he noted, as the fine boned, olive skinned woman who Potat had claimed for a wife began to growl low in her throat and quickly rallied to her fellow woman's defence.

 "Brave words said by men several dozen light years behind the line, millions of miles away from any threat." The words were hardly out of Amante's mouth before a growl of contempt came ripping out from Letunce's. An attack of words stings the pride more than the strongest ki blast, and like any true Saiyajin, he demanded blood for blood. Not that it bothered the older woman. Amante was like all her kind: strong, smart, and horribly stubborn. Cawliefe had no doubt that the Battagli woman could defend her point, but she quickly stood down in deference to Chichi. Both women shared a kinship that none of the deadly warriors in the room could understand, the pain of losing a home world to the Cold Empire.

 "Of course," Chichi began, speaking with the greatest of ease, taking over the argument Amante had begun. "The paper tiger cannot understand the driving force behind the rebels. You will though, when you see your family and all that you hold dear crushed for a tyrant's ego. It’s easy to hold yourself so aloof when you can talk about maybes and ifs, when the monster isn’t destroying your home, when it's not your people being killed. How quick you are, Minister, to judge the rebels as maggots under your feet and think that we will betray you the first chance we get. You forget that we are all fighting the same enemy. Our cause is one, even if you are content to hide behind that line out in space with your tails between your legs?"

It must have been a blur to the woman's eyes, The rumbling growl bubbling up from Letunce’s chest jus before he disappeared completely from her view. Her eyes went wide and her skin paled, it was to her credit that she didn't scream when Letunce finally appeared his fist cocked back a mere foot from her face. Stupid fool, believing that satisfaction would come with beating a weaker opponent.

About to join the fray himself, it proved unnecessary as another warrior appeared before the startled woman, blocking Letunce's punch with the speed and strength of youth. Kakarott's face started down with a barely contained calm as the elder Saiyajin snarled like a caged animal at him and the girl. He truly was Bardock's son, Cawliefe reflected, unafraid of any fight with any foe. Even now a half grin was forming on his face as he looked back at the frightened woman, giving her a good once over which earned him a snarl better than Letunce's.

At the small female's show of anger, Kakarott actually chuckled a little, the sound light and abnormal under the present circumstances, the very flippancy of it all causing Letunce to strike out at the Lieutenant. Again, the attack was stopped by an action that was nothing more than a blur to most of the room. Waiting for the next attempt at a strike, Cawliefe was amazed as the elder elite merely gave a warning snarl at the young officer and slowly backed away. Maybe his old comrade had finally learned some restraint. Pride or not, everyone in the room knew he could not beat Bardock’s youngest, not in this contest at least.

At the first sign of slackness in the blow, Kakarott eased away as well, his point made. The amused expression he gave to Ambassador Mau faded to a cold, contemptuous glare.

 "We've heard enough of yours and Parnis' rumblings, let the woman speak. We have so few allies, would you deny us another, even if she is a loud mouthed wench." At that, he got a laugh from the 'lower bloods', a half sneer from Letunce and a half smirk from the rest of the room, baring the aforementioned ‘wench’. Eyes twitching and hands fisted, the Chikyuu-jin was beyond speak, offering nothing but gnashing of teeth and the occasional sharp murmur of 'chauvinistic bastard'.

Had the situation been a little lighter, Cawliefe might have laughed at the scene before him. Chichi was so caught up in her anger, she didn’t even realise that Kakarott may have saved her life. She could only thing about how he had insulted her, no doubt to spare her life. No matter the species, women were a trial and a complete mystery. Tonight, the boy seemed bent on testing fate. Turning back to her, his tail lashing about. He smirked at the ambassador in her rage, inclining her head as a mock bow.

 "You were saying, Ambassador?" His eyes once more seeming to burn at her, his tail continuing to lash like a contended feline, or a male ready to pounce. For all that he inherited his father's sense he was still too much a cub to not understand the need for discretion.

Waiting for both men to return to their seat, the young woman collected herself, gathering back her wits and bearings with all the dignity she could muster. It was clear to him that she unwilling to let either Letunce or Kakarott know how badly she had been shaken by the whole affair. She did look over once more at Amante though, this time finding only an friendly, if giggling ally. Her time with Potat gave the Battagli an eye for Saiyajin custom better than Chichi's.

Flashing a kind hearted smirk as her only encouragement, the human woman rolled her eyes. Even the fright of a beating by Letunce was no match for her sizeable anger.

"How long do you think you would last in direct conflict, Minister Letunce? A month perhaps? The Colds do not play by this sense of honour you seem to cling to so religiously. You have not looked across the floor of a meeting hall, and have not seen the lengths that they will go to achieve their ends. Minister Noion is right, they are ruthless, cruel, and will use any means at their disposal to destroy everything in their path. They kill and crush races underfoot like a man stepping on an ant, then charm and bully the intergalactic community to forget that these crimes have been committed at all. Your border and agreements won’t protect you when they decide to strike, but by helping the rebels you are striking first. And no matter what the cost, Minister Letunce, Minister Noion, having an armed and willing force of enemies against the Cold is worth the sacrifice.

"The majority of the Galaxy has given moral support, the press alone has caused a major blow to your enemy but we have not achieved victory yet. The biggest breakthrough will come at the conference at the end of the week. It is there that the final push to independence will be made. If and when it comes, it will be huge and the Cold Empire will be forced to heel to the rebels, but not forever. As soon as the attention dies down or another cause comes to the forefront, the border region will be forgotten and ripe for the plucking. The rebel systems are not strong enough to stand on our own in a full out war. It isn't weapons that are needed, it is protection.

"I see our situation with clearer eyes than you imagine and the rebels know the lengths that must be paid for the price of freedom. They will be loyal, probably onto the death, if you give to them what was promised, equal treatment as your other colony worlds. A man would feel nothing about giving tithe to a leader that did all that. Give us this, Under Secretary Parnis, and ever rebel world would get down on its knees and pledge allegiance to the crown. We have lived like refugees and fugitives in our own lands, on our own planets. We are all warriors of circumstance, not by choice, and we crave only a semblance of the life we had before the invasions." She sat finally after the last statement, her jaw now held so taught, it shook with the weight of the lives she held up on those slim shoulders, and the room descended into silence, taking it all in.

Sparing a glance to the 'lower bloods', he could help but smirk at Bardock, the grizzled warrior showing at least grudging respect, and amusement at his son. The boy, by contrast, exhibited little discipline as Kakarott gave a confident smile towards the human woman. So to did Parnis and Letunce wear their emotions clearly on their face. Anger, and disgust radiated from their expression, even while the same grudging respect that Bardock had displayed at her words could not be hidden from their own expressions. Only Noion, the ever calm and composed statesman, had no outward sign of either ire or esteem for Chichi, but the same could not have been said his own companion. Miriat's brown eyes shone with something akin to adoration. Maybe if the Occhions had a leader like her, his people might have never been slaves.

 For his own purposes, the Secretary of State could only think of the trust she and the other rebels were laying at their feet. 'For the safety of the mission' the identity of the silent benefactor was kept just that, silent to all but a few rebel leaders. Even their people were ignorant to who the alliance was between. The only moniker used by the alliance was a single insignia: a phoenix bursting forth from the ashes of Hell, its wings outspread and reaching for the heights. From the mysterious benefactors, the rebels were provided with weapons and food, and knew that they were to fight against the Cold, everything else was irrelevant. Some of the more repressed of the planets would have joined the ranks of Hell itself, it if was against Freeza and his brutal style of rule. What did it matter to them who gave them the weapons, they simply took them and fought. A man would get down on his knees and swear undying loyalty to anyone who could promise them freedom from their torment and a semblance of the life of normalcy and peace in return.

A semblance was all it would be, Cawliefe thought wistfully. The Saiyajins were only slightly kinder in their ownership of those 'protectorate' planets than the Colds. They held back the direct running of the planets to the indigenous population, establishing a military governor as the ultimate head of the planet, while keeping the order and the loyalty of the people with a stationed garrison on every planet. Even with that, the lives of the Saiyajins' subjects were still far above those of the people of the Cold Empire. The planets were, for the most part, kept in one piece after the necessary tithe of loyalty and promised support in war had been presented to Vegetasei. After that the planet's resources were their own. The people living by the laws of the Saiyajins, but respect for local customs and laws were still observed.

It was a far cry from the days of fighting over the galaxy, with purging squads claiming any planet they could to gain supremacy over the then known universe, and a huge leap backwards from the democratic monarchy that Miss Chichi hoped for. Compared to life under the Cold’s though, it was Heaven itself, a fact that was not a mere coincidence. Cawliefe had been part of the King's council on the day they had decided to diverge from the course towards an Empire of slave worlds, to that of Mercantile colonies, against the urging of his military advisors. The elder Vegeta was wise beyond his years, a man of the galaxy unlike any of his predecessors. A great King, he had delivered them from the worst war the Saiyajin people had ever faced and showed himself to be a charismatic leader. In a time of conflict and strife, no measure of power or terror could equal the authority over the hearts and minds of men as a charismatic leader. The once youthful monarch had learned the arts of power, terror, and charisma, the full measure of these gifts which would soon come to perfection in the son.

 "What say you, Ouji-sama?" The older warrior asked, his voice ever confident as it graced the ears of everyone in the room and all noise stopped. Every eye now turned from the central table to the wall, the whole of it obscured by the shadows from the low lamps illuminating the other members of the meeting. Moving slowly away from his symbolic perch above the squabbling, he walked into a single beam of light from a flickering bulb. His whole face was dark and set in stone, the light making him appear as some bird of prey, like the phoenix itself, come from the fires of Hell. Eyes as dark and penetrating as his father's, the young man glanced at everyone seated before him, only Kakarott not flinching with a touch of anxiety at being caught in that sight. With a power and authority as potent as his sire, he finally broke the unnatural silence, and Cawliefe felt the unbidden need to smirk once more, feeling a sense close to fatherly pride towards this boy he was now watching become a man.

 "I think, Cawliefe-san," he replied, the old term of respect coming from his mouth with the ease of a response learned long ago as a child. "That this is a waste of time we don't have over points that should no longer be under discussion. We did not come so far to back away like mice at the supposed threats of Freeza, or his blue pretty boy, no matter how much of a warrior he thinks himself to be. If they had any true information, they would not be crawling around here looking for hints and clues of a Saiyajin conspiracy but fighting a real war. It is bad enough we hide our identity and deny the honour of our Saiyajin blood, but if we wish our blood to continue to be strong and exist at all, this is the action we must take. Unless any of us wish to find out if the rumours of the torture chambers below the royal capital are true, we…" The younger man paused, looking out with black, opprobrious eyes on his captive audience, the bleak reality and even bleaker illusion of the alternative weighing heavily upon all of them.

Holding the room in grim suspense, Vegeta smirked, feeding off the fear of those around him. Casting his eyes once more over them all, the gaze lingering on the dark head of the human ambassador and Potat's wife. Even Cawliefe himself paled and tensed in his seat as he was met with those eyes. The resemblance between father and son was strong, more so now as the young Ouji was forging himself into a leader, walking in his footsteps and yet surpassing his father in cunning and tenacity. In so many ways, this meeting and the mood of the room echoed that of an earlier time, and of a debate that was ultimately the life or death of that once fledgling Empire, and the species that would find dominion over it. That day a boy turned man turned King had laid the ground work with unwavering determination, much like the son of that man was doing today. His expression focussed and proud, the Prince proclaimed a decision as if from the will of the First himself.

 "We will fight on."

 Like an edict from above, the petty bickering and infighting stopped as the mood of the room turned from squabbling to an awkward calm. His eyes, trained for battle, kept a constant vigil on the faces of those around the table until he felt the animosity fade and he let out a soft breath he didn’t realise he was holding.

On the outside he was cold, hard, steadfast and all seeing; the mirror image of his father. Since his naming ceremony, he had been exposed to the uses of power, taking in the ins and outs of courtly proceedings and political battles. Though he had dozens of tutors, his first and greatest had been his own Father, watching his sire rule the Empire he had forged. A man of action, his Father rarely spoke to him about the role which would one day become his. When he did though, Vegeta knew those words of wisdom were precious as he had begun to learn.

‘Power, my boy, is not just the ki which you can bring to hand, the punch you throw or the opponent you kill. It is a hold over the hearts of men that you can lead them through hell itself and they will gladly follow without question. You have scores of the first, boy. You do well by your ancestors, becoming the strongest seen since the first Legendary. Men will take your word on this alone, but true power comes only in the second. Fear lasts longer than love, a man will cower and give tribute to one who is stronger, but he will serve to the death the one that has earned his loyalty.’

And here I am, Father, the young Prince replied to himself, taking the last steps from youth to maturity and the mantle of Kingship that would eventually be his. For all his confidence though, he could not escape a feeling that had been bubbling inside of him since the alliance began: self-doubt.

Damn it, he was made to be a warrior, thrived in the merciless training and strengthening of his body. His fate was to reach a pinnacle of combative perfection talked about only in legends. It is one thing to sharpen and focus one's mind on the singular goal of physical power, but to rule, to lead with utter confidence upon a course that could be the end of all of them. It was the one place where his strength meant nothing, only the strength of his mind, his honour, his sense of responsibility. Though he had sharpened his wits on politics and his mind with strategy, he was unschooled in true combat, this all or nothing battle. Unbidden from his mind, his thoughts shifted to another time, when self-doubt threatened him.

‘Stay true, boy,’ his father's deep, commanding voice spoke to him. He easily recalled the memory, the end of a brutal training session with his sire when his small, prepubescent body was taken past the brink of pain and exhaustion. It was not the pain or humiliation but the words that burned into his brain. ‘Never show weakness or fear. A battle can always be fought another day, a defeat made into a later victory, but lost trust can never be won again.’

Now he was threatening his Father’s trust in him, bargaining the very existence of the Saiyajin Empire for a fleeting dream. It would be easier if they knew what they were fighting for. It would be easier if joining in this underground fight did not mean joining with races and beings that once would not have been a recognised as a race or a being to the Saiyajins. Like his Father, he was leading them into strange, uncharted territory, but where and to what was he leading them? What would the Empire look like when they reached the other side of this? Would it be this utopia that the Mau woman spouted on about, a place of freedom and equality? It must be some quality in these Chirkyuu-jins, to strive for the ridiculous, even she used to talk about it, with all the passion the Ambassador showed earlier. Against his will, he could see her there, squaring off with him with all the powers of her mind, those blue eyes snapping at him, full of fire. She was so full of hope when he met her, until ...

"I gave you everything. I trusted you with my life, and you crushed it like it was nothing." Harsh blue eyes bore into him, and for the first time, he felt a small clenching in his chest. The words were nothing to him, nothing to the emotion and conflict he saw swimming in her eyes.

His own eyes went wide as the memories assaulted his mind, the voices of the past flooding over him. Never one to wear his thoughts on his sleeve, he couldn’t hold back the tensing of his shoulders, or the clenching of his gut. With control and discipline born of a warrior's life, he kept himself steady, keeping back the flinch and growl that threatened to rise to the surface. It must be the stress that was getting to him. The sense of excitement and the very real threat of annihilate must be causing his mind to play tricks on him. Or was it the smell of her still on his skin, the feel of her in his arms again?

It was all a mad rush then, both of them grabbing hold of each other until there was nothing left, no division between his body and her own. By the First, she was all around him, inundating his senses. His ears were filled with the soft whispered moans of her voice as she crooned and arched against him. Even with all of those royal concubines, with the innumerable techniques they possessed to please a man, he never felt like this. He was awake, alive, invincible, until one of those delicate, calculating hands touched his tail. He reared and bucked above her. Half crazed, his perceptions blurred into one as the sweet metallic mix of her blood touched his tongue and flooded his mouth…


"Ambassador, I thought you might have brought your second with you as well. Surely she must have a greater value than making a spectacle of herself."


The sound of Cawliefe’s rich, cultured voice brought him out of his memory and he chided himself for his lack of discipline. Where was the alertness he had spent years honing? Instead, a kind of madness grabbed hold of him and made him think such blasphemous thoughts. She was just a weakness like any other, one to be purged from his consciousness. It was a mistake, one that would stand as a reminder of what he had done, and show the price that must be paid for lust.


"Dear Kami no. I doubt she could understand what would be happening, let alone the gravity of the situation. I have kept her in the dark in fear that telling her might make her head explode, trying to keep the secret in her head for more than twenty minutes.

"The head of the rebellion forces on Chikyuu requested that she be given this position for her own protection. The situation at home is growing far worse, and she is a great favourite of his." That damn human woman replied, her normally tense voice now full of laughter at the follies of her travelling companion, and her obvious annoyance as to why the useless chit was there. A great favourite? Whoever the man was, he had the most horrid taste in mating partners.

Just thinking of the insane woman, Vegeta had to give the Ambassador her due. His ears were still ringing from the time she tripped over ... her.

Was he to be plagued with her all night, couldn't he just purge her from his system? Remembering the last time he tried to burn away her memory in the arms of the palace harem he actually shuddered. Better to endure her essence imprinted on his brain than go through that again. The cure was almost as bad as the disease. At least the woman possessed one good attribute over that doppelganger: a measure of grace and sense.

Looking about the room once more, he again relaxed against the cold stone wall that was swallowed up by the darkness. All the focus was directed on the coming conference and the Cold reaction, the discussion now lead by the two non-Saiyajin females.

After all the insults and stories he had heard about the Battagli, it was strange to be face to face with the lovely, olive skinned temptress that had ensnared one of his father's most trusted soldiers. Potat was not the only one so ensnared, as he noted the possessive glare Bardock’s youngest was giving that loud mouthed, insolence Chikyuu-jin harpy. Honestly, what kind of Saiyajin was this Kakarott to show such partiality for a non-Saiyajin? A weakling? For all of his amazing and decidedly unexpected power, the young man knew nothing about showing discretion. Already he had spoken in her defence, even to the point of putting himself between her and the rightful hand of discipline. Next the idiot would start writing sonnets to her. There was something wrong about this off-world son of Vegetasei, a jovial nature that was not found among the civilised, the home-worlders.

It must be a sickness borne of prolonged exposure to non-Saiyajin females, the Ouji realised, as Potat’s shrewish wife came to the forefront of the conversation, attacking Minister Noion on the rising cost of the mission. If the woman had acted so brazenly anywhere else, she would have put her in her place, probably with a light cuff. Looking at the Purging squad ‘Elites’, he realised that any of them would put themselves between the woman and her justified reprimand, if their commander didn’t get there first.

Many were the legends, stories, and rumours about this woman and one of his father's top general. He had heard many himself, the whispering of guards that spoke of a man possessed by the witchcraft of a woman. Still worse was the fanciful tale of a man directed by love over duty to take a rebel as his mate that his simpering female caregivers used to tell.

Hmph, a Saiyajin knows no such sentimental attachments. The truth was hardly the overly romantic picture that those gossiping alien nursemaids had painted. He regarded the woman with mild disdain, this tempestuous bitch who charmed a man by sinking her sexual claws into her victim until he was made to marry her. The words quickly turned bitter to his thoughts. How close were those words to his own mockery of a marriage?

Like Potat and his Battagli woman, the official story passed about his joining was the simplified and diluted version that told little truth. Maybe it was easier to boil down the complex nature of his and that wench's attachment into a single episode in bed. It was one night of misspent lust between two strangers, nothing existing before, and nothing great afterwards. His honour demanded no less but to live the prescripted script. It was certainly less frustrating that dealing with the mess he created with her.

Yet, Vegeta couldn't help but look over to the man and his wife, the truth there appearing far different from the reality he had been presented. He couldn't help take a closer look at the controversial couple, specifically the woman as she regarded her own brooding husband, a contented smile forming on her drawn lips. What came next caused every Saiyajin in the room, himself included, to growl half in awe, half disgust as a low grunt spilled from the stoic warrior's mouth. To think any Saiyajin would be so open with a mate in public, particularly one of foreign heritage, to the point of letting her touch his tail! It must be something in the artificial air, or the lower gravity that damaged brain tissue. Or maybe something more primal, he thought as he watched the woman’s soft touch on her mate’s tail.

Though he was not a man typically given to fits of insanity, he could see her appeal. She was a woman of great beauty, at least in the physically: curvaceous body with, astoundingly enough, a strong ki. More than that, she was a mystery, an intriguing contradiction, this ‘warrior’ in the body of a weakling. It was hard to believe that this woman was once a rebel spy and fighter, with her delicate upturned face, healthy olive skin, and fiery red eyes that seemed to display every emotion. They were nothing like . . . hers, those two pure blue pools of ambiguity, as icy as the Tsiruseian night. Yet, he had seen beyond her shield, at the moment of utter victory or defeat when the curtain parted and the true woman revealed herself.


"Typical stance of a Neanderthal male from a warrior race. Then again, to show any other point of view would require you to see past the end of that snooty nose of yours, or think with something more than your penis and your ego. I can assure you, Saiyajin, that I did not wish to offend your well ordered sense of normalcy by holding an opinion and being outspoken enough to say it. Where I do it, how, and why are none of your affair."

He knew he should have been enraged at her words. The chit was cutting him down like the royal gardeners trimming back an annoying weed; he, crown Prince of Vegetasei, heir to one of the mightiest empires in the galaxy. Yet, he remarkable held back his tongue, and the minuscule amount ki it would take to silence the insolent woman as realisation struck him.

She did not cower before him. She showed no fear, or any sign that she recognised him. He knew in a heart beat that he gained the ultimate victory over her by that fact alone. Even the Colds showed him deference due his rank, and if he wished it, he could easily bring her low. His triumph was sealed without lifting a finger but it wasn't enough. Something surrounded this woman, this aura of spirit that called to him, intrigued him. As weak as she was, she injured him worse than any of his opponents during the tournament with nothing more than her words.

What an interesting development, he chuckled to himself, the sound obviously reaching her ears as her cheeks flushed in anger. His laughter turned louder as he watched her growing anger at his supposed insult. So there was fire in her as well, beyond the graces, smiles, and witticisms. Maybe this trip wouldn't be a waste after all.


"Typical response from an empty-headed intellectual who speaks reams and reams of words, and none of them are worth a thing. You must fear warriors a great deal, woman, to speak against every member of my race and with nothing but rumour and innuendo back up your claims. If I were an experienced judge of character, as you claim to be, I'd say from your little barrage of insults that I was closer to learning your weaknesses than you are willing to admit.

"I can tell you know that you have no knowledge of what you speak. Of course, with an ego like that, I’m sure you are often wrong, though never uncertain about your misguided beliefs. If anything, it is your body that has won you more attention than your highly vaulted mind, though why anyone would be interested in either, I can’t imagine. Have you grown too comfortable with these fawning weakling men who throw empty compliments your way? Are you afraid to fight against me, if you can handle anyone from a warrior race?"

Here it was, no more than a half an hour in her company, only a few minute of direct vocal contact and already he was engaging her in combat. She could never match him in a true battle, but the outcome of this little episode was yet to be seen and it was already affording him more stimulation than any challenge the arena had to offer. No matter what, he meant to savour this victory, would taunt and stalk his opponent until the very end, as long as he kept his identity a secret. Already he could hear the whispers of his name. While his identity was unknown to the girl, it was not to most of these men.

Flashing an icy, predatory stare worthy of his race, the whispering fell silent. As weak in body as their learning had made them, they possessed enough common sense to know that he was not to be trifled with. Only the woman seemed so lacking.

Something in his words must have struck her as that carefully controlled expression was swept away. Her eyes radiated an inner glow of anticipation, a want and desire for battle that he himself knew all too well. Her skin, once as pale as the ice and bone exterior of the Tsiru-jin royal palace, flushed pink, and upon her soft, full mouth, a wicked smirk spread across her lips, proclaiming her intent to the whole room to take up arms against him.

Against his own tutelage in poise and restraint and all the discipline he had acquired in his training, he smirked in reply, indicating his intent, no, his desire to take her on at her own level. His tail swayed behind him at the promise of a fight, or was it the woman herself? The blue ice queen was transforming into something out of one of the ancient legends he had endured in his academic studies: a far-ven or cealair, women of great magic and power.


"Afraid of you? Don't make me laugh, Saiyajin. I welcome any form of debate, whether the opponent is worthy of my skills, or not. You're not the first man to question how I have the gall to speak my mind, but I can assure you, you will be my favourite one to bring down. So come on, Monkey Boy, I can take any challenge you could ever give me."

If only he knew the weight of those words, and how prophetic they would become. Part of him knew it was too late even then. All men have their obsessions: Prince or pauper, commoner, noble, and slave, no matter how foolish and fleeting they may be. Better to get such weaknesses over with quickly and work it out of the blood. His father's lesson echoed through his brain as the wash of memory ebbed from his consciousness and he returned to a sense of reality. ‘A man without passions is dead, boy. All men have hungers. Be it for war, power, women, the greed and vices are what make life what it is, and you will be no different. Have them, enjoy them, but leave no casualties. Nothing comes without a cost.’


"Do not be so hasty to take these unknown elements into our counsel. They switch sentiments like a chameleon changes its colour, changing from fawning love to hatred as the need takes them. For all their moral righteousness, they still hold the same values and practice the same forms of domination over their people as the Colds. It's been my experience that people with such principles form alliances freely as it suits their needs, and stab their allies in the back at a moment's notice. If we let them in, it will only be a matter of time before our conspiracy is known, and their alliance to Cold is conveniently remembered once more." The once silent warden of the borders spoke out, his quiet voice vibrating through the room as Potat stepping into the fray.

‘Nothing comes without a cost’, some more than others. With a mind geared to the tactical and a power level in the Super Elite range, the man could have been one of his father’s closest advisors. It made the young Prince wonder at what madness struck the man that he would give up the power and influence Potat once knew for a position in the pits of the Empire, all for some woman, a insolent, loud mouthed Battagli wench. To be resigned in disgrace from the precipice of power, all for the lust of a woman. Had it not been for his own position, the fact that he existed as the only heir, he would have sealed such a fate for himself.

The mindless banter continued back and forth as the factions played one against the other and neither gaining for their effort. He listened with mild interest at the off-world soldiers, if only to hear about various missions, as well as their thoughts. Though Elitism had been drilled into his head since infancy, Vegeta couldn’t deny a desire to know the freedom that the lower ranks enjoyed. While he had the greatest sparing partners on the planet, there was still no challenge, the thrill of fighting to the death had never touched him.

Maybe, he thought as his gaze shifted over to the Westerns seated next to Potat. While the lines of heredity were strictly observed in all other parts of the planet, the Western quadrant of the continent still lived by rule of the strongest, clan members often fighting each other to the death for leadership. Such practices and their open defiance of the Southern quadrant’s rule was the cause of the Western exodus into space. Many of the youngest generation had never set foot on the harsh land that nurtured their parents, the move an attempt to curb the rebellions and control the unusually high power levels that comes from the Western lines. To his Father’s credit, it succeed in the first but in the second, Vegeta paused in his thought as his eyes bore into Bardock’s spawn. It may have created something far stranger and more powerful.

And too wise for their own good.

"We cannot think that the Colds’ are lame yet, for all that our victories have hurt them. They still have more strength than we can imagine, not to mention cunning and stealth. Of the two sons, Freeza is the reflection of his father: ruthless, cruel, and clever. We cannot trust these old allies of our enemy, not until victory has been achieved." The Western purge captain said, bringing Vegeta’s thoughts back to the topic which had been hanging over them all night: Zarbon.


Freeza was very clever in his decision to send that Changling. He was sending more than one message with it, and every one of them the devious lizard wanted Vegeta to read. Parnis was right, the bastard is far too cunning to just send Zarbon by accident. The choice of 'Protectorate of the Outer Borderlands' was far too telling. There must be more than a veiled threat.

If Freeza knew anything for certain, he would have sent a military invasion force, not one favourite on the outs. With every rebel victory, he knew Zarbon must be feeling the heat. Vegeta himself had heard some of the taped com links where Freeza tore through the blue pretty boy, the threats enough to make even hardened warriors uneasy. It was very apparent that the tyrant's confidence in the Changling was steadily declining, Freeza's insulting litanies coming to mind. There was a method to the madness of this choice, and it was centred on one thing.


"Good evening, your 'highness' or should I be saying your highnesses? It is a pleasure to see you again, Bulma. It is a great shame that the same can’t be said for your husband." The sickeningly confident man replied, his large blue hand grasping on to the pale, stunned woman like grim death even as those gold eyes were trained on him with a look of loathing that could melt lead. Beside him, he could hear his father growling lightly at the Changling, or maybe who he represented. Just the thought of having the enemy so close to Vegetasei was enough to make his father livid. The fact that Zarbon was associating himself with the traitorous wench didn't help matters, and neither did the slight with the introductions.

Moronic fool. Did Zarbon think to make him jealous by touching his 'wife' with such familiarity and making light of their former relationship? About to reply to the insult with several of his own, he held his tongue and he tried to calm his anger as the bastard took the woman's hand and kissed it, the golden eyes once filled with disgust now gazing lustfully at his woman. Vegeta tightened his fists in an attempt to keep from expressing the rage that burned through his blood. How dare the Changling touch anything that belonged to a Saiyajin, no matter how unwillingly he took it. The whole thing was intolerable.

It wasn’t helped by how her clingy hold on his arm, or the display they made walking through the Grand Hall in front of the whole court while she fawned over him like a bitch in heat. Here it was, the last nail in her coffin, the proof of her guilt that she had so long denied. It would be all the proof that Nappa and the purists would need for a charge of treason, either by breaking her mating vow or fraternising with the enemy.

A pit of rage formed in his stomach at the thought, his mind picturing the two in a lover's embrace. Just thinking that she could have been Zarbon's and pined for him still was more than the Prince could take. If he could have squeezed harder, Vegeta was sure that his hand would have been bleeding when he finally shifted his eyes to his perfidious mate, and all of his anger turned to confusion. Of all the expressions of enjoyment, lust, and deceitfulness that he expected, the last would be the stupefied look upon her face. Her blue eyes were wide with shock, telling the whole room she was amazed at the Changling's gesture as anyone. Then, as if he had called out to her to smarten up, the woman looked back at him, fear now mixed with confusion and shame as those blue eyes almost seemed to plead. It was all gone in a moment as his father broke the fragile peace and the woman turned her face away, but not before he caught it, her hand tightening into a fist around … .


"They've been cracking down on both incoming and outgoing communication signals, every communication satellite around the borders has been shut down. The official line they are shouting is rebel terrorism in an attempt to garner sympathy but that still doesn’t explain why they are down. Every message I've been sent has been scrambled beyond usability and from my own calculations, it will take at least three more days before alternative channels can be found." The sound of that loud-mouth wench's voice cut through the din of memory and background noise that the rest of the meeting had become, the mention of that little tidbit both intrigued and worried him more than he was willing to show on the surface.


"Ha, that is too rich by half. They are obviously still unable to decipher our codes or means of communication, even with their all mighty Tanto and high level technology. If we needed any more proof that we are making an impact, here it is. They are showing their hand, and every move is making them weaker. With the approaching conference, those bastards will do anything to silence the rebel cause, even if it means shooting themselves in the foot." Impertinent woman, Vegeta replied, the Battagli once more speaking out of turn, her very openness an insult to her husband's power. The validity of her words was lost on him, as was what had been going on through most of the meeting, but for some reason he couldn’t get off Potat's disobedient wife. The look on her face, the ire in her voice, coupled with the episode earlier, every motion of the alien woman reminding him of his own.

Even now, looking into those red eyes, his mind remembered a similar set, blue in hue and just as fierce, and filled not with hopeful determination, but contempt and helplessness. Whether it was tension caused by Zarbon's presence or the loss of his normal nightly training to rid him of his stress, his mind would not allow him to put it to rest. In the din of background noise, he recognised Letunce's gravely, bull horn voice demanding that the Empire prepare itself for war, whether their alliances with the rebels bore fruit or not. None of these issues would be a problem if military reforms were passed. It was an old performance that the venerable war horse used over again in council, arguing for greater preparedness and a return to the older ways of the early Empire. The practised and self-aggrandising speech was so familiar to him that he could guess Letunce’s next word before it left the older warrior’s mouth.

Clearly lining out the steps that should, 'nay must', Vegeta quoted by memory, be taken to ensure stability against alien threats, Letunce gave up criticisms of Nappa’s leadership of the military, often while the Commander was in the room. Being a paragon of patience and understanding, the giant warrior would blow up, cursing and swearing to the point of no return and challenging Letunce for the supremacy of the military by a match in the arena. It was by the grace of sense and Nappa's willingness to live another day that kept the threat of challenge just a threat and never a reality. The act of challenging a council superior and a Saiyajin of higher rank was an act of treason itself punishable by death. That didn't stop the idiot from working off his anger in their weekly training sessions, always leading to one of the most common sights of the young Prince's childhood, the huge Saiyajin suspended in a regeneration tank, surrounded by that distinctive blue glow. Ironic how such a simple beginning could have so disastrous an end, and all a product of that damn machine.


  

"Stupid ... idiotic. Argh!" He yelled out his fury to the whole med facility. One white gloved fist crashed down on a nearby table and every healthy occupant of the room jumped then scurried about to do their business. Anything was better than being caught in the visual range of a Saiyajin during a blood rage. For his part, the young man who had inspired so much fear amongst the medical staff, took only mild interest in his feat and felt no great satisfaction in it. His attention was fully centred on the figure before him, floating in a nimbus of blue gunk.


"How long before his injuries completely heal?" The Saiyajin's voice snapped out once more, his harsh tone only re-enforcing every med worker’s fears. This fear was doubly so for the poor unfortunate who was making the final adjustments for the tank's newest tenant. The poor reptilian med shook as he typed in the normal vitals for a typical Saiyajin specimen. His pupil-less eyes widened with every gesture Vegeta made towards the giant in the tank. One scaly finger was an inch away from imputing the last command when every muscle in its body tensed and the creature began to gasp for air, the pursuit hindered by a gloved hand crushing the wall of his windpipe.


"I asked you how long?" His voice was barely above a whisper, the anger that raged earlier was barely contained in his tone but somehow the reptile understood. With little to no effort, the smaller Saiyajin held the med off the ground by his neck, not making any move to loosen his hold until the creature began to claw and shift on his neck. And the moral naysayers of the intergalactic community said that violence would never solve anything, Vegeta chimed to himself, his fingers slowly releasing their hold and a temporary smirk formed upon his mouth.

He enjoyed the reptile’s panic for several minutes until his annoyance at being ignored was appeased. Not bothering to lower the being down, or show any sort of common courtesy, Vegeta released his hold and allowed the med to collapse to the floor. The telltale sound of wheezing and coughing told the Saiyajin that he would get some answers as soon as the thing got some needed air into his lungs.


"It … it will be a good wee … week, Prince Vegeta. Along with the numerous lacerations and the hole through his side, Commander Nappa sustained extensive internal damage from the Ginyu's Eraser gun attack. It will be at least a day before we know if he is out of immediate danger. Please excuse the delay, your Highness. We had prepared as well as could be expected for the tournament, but did not anticipate the number of fatal casualties that have resulted.

"Only two days earlier I had to set up a tank for Lieutenant Kuwi after his first round match. He looked a wreck. His spine was nearly broken, his arm crushed beyond repair… " The moronic tech continued to speak, describing the fish faced fighter's injuries in graphic detail, spurred on by the smirk that formed across Vegeta's face. Sensing that the being was acting a little too familiar, Vegeta growled out for silence, pleased that his command was so quickly obeyed.


"Very well. A guard will be posted here within the hour to ensure that nothing happens during that week. If anything does befall any individual with Saiyajin blood in this med centre, Lord Cold will have to start looking for new staff. Do I make myself clear?" Again his voice did not reach above a whisper but his intent was understood by the frantic med who nodded his head like a mad man. Feeling especially pleased with himself, Vegeta walked towards the doors that lead back to the tournament area and the royal quarters, but not without turning his head back to the frightened med.


"Tell me, how is our poor lieutenant Kuwi doing?"


"The tissue in his spinal cord has only begun to reform, and his brain waves corrected themselves yesterday, your Highness. It almost appears as if whoever he was fighting dug their hand into his back and crushed his spinal cord with their bare fist." A snort followed from the now relaxed Saiyajin, and he turned back once more, amusement flashing in his eyes.


"Not quite barehanded. I would never allow that scaly fish skin to touch my own." He didn't even bother to look back, the deadly silence was more than enough to tell him everything he needed to know. He laughed then, passing through the sliding doors that separated the tank ward from the rest of the Cold's austere palace, uncaring of who or what heard him. The reminder of his first round win, and the three others that came after brought a smirk to his face.

With every win he was strengthening the image and power of the Saiyajin race, displaying its might over any and all challenger. At least that was what he and his companions where supposed to do. Of the four representatives from the Saiyajin Empire, only he could boast of a berth in the fourth round. The first two young pups, Naret and Potherb, were beaten to a pulp after the second round. For their defeats they each spent a night each in the regeneration tanks before they presented themselves to him with their tails between their legs. Felled by mere mercenary soldiers, the thought left a bitter taste in his mouth and to the overweening pride he felt for anything Saiyajin. At least his commander, the warrior who had been his sensei and sparring partner for nearly twenty years had ended his run in a great battle.

The cries of the arena crowd still ran in his ears as he watched Nappa’s defeat at the hands of the hulking giant from the Ginyu Force, Ricoome. Harsh reality asserted itself as he thought back to the bloodily mess that was at this moment floating unceremoniously in the blue mix of chemicals and synthetic Saiyajin DNA. No one was allowed to put Nappa-san there except him, the almost childish statement came to him, as his thoughts turned to victory and revenge.

It didn't take the young Prince long before he was standing before the main board that displayed match results, odds at the gaming houses on every match, and match ups for the next round. At the very centre of the massive computerised terminal was a screen that showed the current action within the arena. Vegeta watched stony faced as an unfortunate Guerrier warrior was beaten into the arena floor by a red blur that eventually revealed itself to be the red Ginyu member Jeice. The rabid crowd cheered the victory which led to a series of ridiculous stances, gestures, and poses that were the hallmark of each of those imbecilic Ginyu force fighters. Elite fighting force indeed, more like a troupe of travelling fools.

Glancing at the odds, there was a 64% chance he would face the red devil in the semis and 47% chance of meeting Ricoome in the finals. While he was insulted by the lower odds on him in the final, he could help but nod in satisfaction. If fate was true, then everything was going as it should. Not only would he prove the supremacy of the Saiyajins in combat and but avenge his trainer as well.

Unfortunately for the impatient Saiyajin, he still had a number of weaker opponents and sorry excuses for warriors left before his revenge could be complete. Until that time, he would have to find those two worthless noble escorts that Nappa insisted on accompanying him. The guards would have to begin a rotation that included the med centre, and he needed to rid himself of some of the adrenaline that pumped through his veins from his far too easy win. Next match he would have would be against the telekinetic Guido, another member of that wretched squad but the weakest of the five. The creature would hardly be a challenge at all, even the gaming house odds were in his favour. While beating on a member of Freeza’s Elites sounded fun, he knew it wouldn’t provide him with the release he needed now.

Stuck with no alternative, he began to walk towards his private quarters, determined to get a decent match out of the escorts. Those two weaklings had to be of some use beyond embarrassing him and listening to Nappa's deep seeded superiority complex about Southern nobility. He almost wanted to snort out at the impossibility of that statement. Of the four of them, Vegeta was the only one that had been tested for the worthiness of their titles, and he was the only one left standing tall at this tournament.

Maybe there was more truth to the squad captain’s talk than just lower blood envy. There had to be a reason why Cawliefe deemed him worthy to join their most treasonous mission. He had heard reports of the man's intelligence and uncommon strength, as well as that of his son, but just the thought of his fellow conspirators made him remember his mission. He was behind on the task Cawliefe had given to him before their envoy left, to infiltrate as much of the Cold's court as he could, discover any troop movements or rumours that could be of any use to them.

The first night of the tournament he skipped out on the grand feast Freeza had planned especially for the occasion, finding the idea of dining and playing nice with men he would be facing within the next week gruesome and pointless. He had attended the last two nights to learn any imperative information and ended up with a stomach filled with less than satisfying food, a hatred of anything connected with the insidious Lord Freeza, and a genuine sense of amazement that the Cold Empire hadn't imploded upon itself yet.

The infighting and excesses were everywhere with the signs of corruption showing through the façade of the far too old dynasty. Only the unnatural physical strength of the Cold family seemed to keep the seams together. That, and the almost systematic means of censorship and propaganda, centring mostly on one person, some traitorous wench from around the border lands who now extolled the virtues of the Empire. It seemed he missed her that first night, she had been let out of the cage the Colds must have placed her in to official open the tournament and since then she had not appeared again. Either way, he was going to have to find a way to speak with their plants in the Capitol, and in the city, without arousing any suspicions. Hyperlink communication was growing a little too dangerous since the last rebel victory so only the bare minimum had been sent in the last few months. With any luck, he would have a detailed account of everything that happened in the Capitol in the last few weeks, though it would mean hours of reading, sorting, and analysing the data for clues or advantages. At the thought of the task before him, Vegeta groaned softly.

It was for his Empire and the future of his people; it couldn't all be fun and games.


  


"What news from our plants in the Capitol? Just from the talk at the last conference, there was the distinct feeling that the once proud patriarch is slowly losing control, of both his hold on the reigns of power within his Empire and with his sons." Speak of the devil, or think of him at least. Bardock's voice sliced through his reverie that was beginning to dig far too deep into areas he was not willing to delve into, at least while he was surrounded by others. He wondered how long he had been reliving the past as he slowly loosened his arms from his chest without arousing any notice. He must have unconsciously tightened them, as if to preserve some of his body heat against the bitter cold that had enveloped him every time he had set foot on the flagitious planet, or was in the presence of his enemy.


"Freeza and Coola continue to war amongst themselves. Nothing is new there, if only that it has gotten even more violent. Last week, the main industrial centre for Coola's forces in the Pamphylia quartrant was attacked and decimated. Officially it is supposed to have been an explosion in the planet's main core reactor that set off a chain reaction. Unofficially, the whispering around court are blaming the attack on the rebels, saying that they have reached the very heart of the Empire." Cawliefe stated, his voice even and composed, but the small smirk on the old warrior's face was not fooling the Prince. They all knew it could not have been the rebels, and obviously Cawliefe had learned the truth, probably from the numerous spies and allies to the rebellion movement that were their eyes and ears in the enemy's camp. How right the rumours were. The Cold's enemies were well within the heart of the Empire, and there was no indication that anyone in at the top was any the wiser. Then again, they were always far too lax with the weaker species within the Empire.


"One of our plants in Freeza's personal staff overheard the head of Freeza's elite fighters himself, Captain Ginyu, telling his master that the mission was a success. It seems as if King Cold suspects just as much from his youngest son. He's dismissed the little pasty bastard from court on the premise of securing the threats of rebellion by the Elams before the intergalactic community can take them as a cause." Potat replied, completely Cawliefe's thought with the message that came over the hyperlink frequency. From what Vegeta had read, heard, and seen with his own eyes, he knew the young Tsiru-jin lord would not take kindly to the insult of being punished so publicly. Vegeta smirked at the thought.

Just the look on the pasty bastard's face would be worth this whole mission, when the end came. When this was all over, when the rebels won their independence and declared loyalty to the Saiyajin Empire, by the First, he would be there. He would look on in triumph at Freeza's face and know that he had won. All this cloak and dagger, underhanded dealing would be worth it for that look, to make up for every insult against the Saiyajin race and himself.


  


Stepping out of the automatic shower in the arena locker room, the Prince ignored the stacks of towels as his pent up ki evaporated the water from his body and hair. In truth he didn't trust the Colds, or any of the competitors not to try something. There had been stories of poisoned or disease infested towels been given to enemies of the Colds, or any number of accident occurring outside the arena by unexplainable means.

Searching out with his ki sense, he found he was alone and allowed a curse to pass through his mouth as he walked through the rows of grey metallic lockers to the one he had stored his clothes in before the shower. Not bothering to disengage the lock, he simply punched his fist through the thin steel door and crushed the mechanism in his bare hand. Pulling the door open, he nearly ripped the useless thing off its hinges before he grabbed his specially made armour and usual blue training suit and began to dress.

Four hours he had been in the arena against both Naret and Potherb, sparring, dodging energy techniques and generally bashing the two weak willed idiots' brains in. By the First, the two of them were hardly worth the effort at all. By the end he was just starting to break a sweat and the two young nobles were both spent to the limits of their endurance and in dire need of a night in the tanks. Pitiful, absolutely pitiful. Worst of all, he was in no better a mood than when he decided to test the two as his possible temporary sparring partners.

His need for a challenge that had barely been realised during his pitiful match earlier was only heightened by the lack of proper opponents in Naret and Potherb. His whole body was tense with it and he needed a release. Nappa was out of the picture, as was a rematch with the Saiyajin nobles. If the clock upon the wall was not lying to him, then any of the other decent fighters would be gorging on the food and drink in the main hall. Giving serious consideration to going to the banquet and doing his duty for the cause, it took all of three seconds to scrap that idea completely. Just the thought of another night surrounded by gossip of that 'Crown Jewel' or dealing with the Ginyu force and the rest of Freeza's brain dead lackeys made Vegeta's stomach churn. The experience would only serve to make the restless feeling worse.

He needed a challenge, a release. The thought of release made him think back to the harem, not his favourite means of relieving physical frustration, but…, it had been far too long since he partook in any sort of sexual activity. The thought was quickly dismissed from his mind as his body tensed at a new sound. Muffled at first, the click of footsteps against the polished black marble floors grew quickly. It was too loud to be servants and their direction, coming from the training hall, told him that they belonged to fighters. Gripped by his natural distrust of anything Tsiru-jin, he ducked behind the alcove of lockers, and listened. From the growing din of voices and footsteps, he assessed his opponent, or rather, his opponents, hearing two distinct voices. He finally had to force back a growl as the synapses in his brain connected, his mind remembering the two speakers and the memories were not pleasant ones.


"Did you see Ricoome beat that bald Saiyajin today? It was more a joke than a match, that slow wit hardly got one shot in. You'd think Ricoome had fought against a Chikyuu-jin, the ugly bastard only had a broken nose. The Saiyajin, though, I'm surprised he still had that tuft of hair above his lip." Malicious laughter filled the empty hall outside the locker room. The voices were still a distance away, but getting closer every moment, and it was a testament to his self-restraint that he kept himself silent and still. The two of them were idiots, he reminded himself, and were dumb enough to speak of more confidential and useful information.


"Almost all of the monkeys are out," the original speaker began again, the red skinned playboy, Vegeta noted. The light accent was a dead-give away. "Only the midget is left and I'm going to enjoy beating the smirk off that little bastard's face. Did you see the monkey Prince after he defeated Kuwi? You would have thought he had won the whole tournament; he actually thinks that he could take down Freeza's army all by his little self."


"Hey, who say's he'll even make it to you, Jeice. I'm facing him next and that pathetic little ape won't last five minutes against me. If you want, you can have what's left of him after he gets out of the tank." Four eyed freak; how dare he insult the Prince of Vegetasei. The muscles of Vegeta's hand burned with the tightening of his fist, as the physical pain, mild as it was, reminded him to keep his mouth shut. His mind though was not so constrained and he was snarling inside, chomping at the bit to beat the frog within an inch of its life for daring to even think him weak.

From all the rumours he'd been subjected to in the last two nights, Vegeta learned that Guido was nothing more than an embarrassment, too much mouth and stomach and too little power.

Thinking that the two of them would keep walking, he ducked quickly into the shadows and slowed down his breathing as the door swung open, cursing the whitewashed walls that offered so little protection from unwanted eyes. Neither Ginyu fighter noticed him though as the two idiots continued with much of the same, bantering back and forth about nothing. For five minutes he endured them insulting each of the remaining competitors, singling himself out for special abuse, while they praised themselves to the skies. He stifled back a groan of annoyance at the two of them, catching himself before it could completely escape his mouth, but in the empty room it softly echoed against the thick stone walls and floor.


"What was that?" Guido's nasal voice snapped at the foreign noise, and began to walk deeper into the locker room. Vegeta slowly charging a ball of ki in his hand, knowing inexplicably that if he was found they wouldn't hesitate to try to kill him.


"You're imagining things, idiot. Something in that bald Saiyajin's locker probably finished its larval state and has begun to move around. You have no idea the sorts of things that some of those other world warriors bring with them. It's probably harmless, if it's anything at all. What's the matter, Guido, you think it’s a rebel spy?" Jeice laughed out at his own comments, and to Vegeta's great relief, they turned back, forgetting about the sound for the time being.


"You laugh, but I don't trust that it wasn’t related to them. Those rebels have already started taking back the border planets. With the recent string of sabotaged troop transports from the Tsiru-sei to the frontier, I'd say it's very likely that they've infiltrated that far. It doesn't help that Lord Cold is being so lenient on that bitch, I don't trust her."


"You don't trust anything. The little piece isn't stupid enough to say anything that would get her killed, but she needs to be taken down a few pegs. To think that whore would gladly let that weak changling fuck her but turned me down every time. Fitting though that they give her residence in the heart of the bordello district. Would serve her right if one night I were to mistake her residence for the Grimor whore house. If anyone even heard her scream, they still wouldn't care." A soft light chuckle followed Jeice’s comment and Vegeta's blood ran cold at the sound, sickened by the thought of the Ginyu raping anyone. At least they forgot about him. The two men, if he could even call them such, were growing too lax and started to speak more freely with each other.


"Are you sure? I've heard Freeza's started to develop an interest in her. The rumour is he's been to visit her residence, and I doubt it was some light social conversation. Why else would Zarbon have left her in the Capitol if it weren't because one of the Colds wanted her. From the gossip in the court, Cold can't even get it up, if he ever could, and Coola tastes run towards young males, but then what can you expect from hermaphrodites? As to the girl, I'd leave her; she'll fall soon enough. Until then, if those rumours are even slightly true, if she tells Freeza or even a whiff of something like that reaches his ears, you might wish you were that bald Saiyajin."

"Shut up," Jeice lashed out, his hand suddenly grabbing Guido by the neck. "Don't you dare speak a word of this to anyone. If I find out that you betrayed me, you'll wish you were that damn Saiyajin. Now come on, we're already late for the banquet and the Captain ordered our attendance. We wouldn't want to keep our little monkey Prince waiting too long. I have something special for the bastard tonight; he might not be able to crawl into the arena tomorrow if I get my way." Listening carefully for anything more, the Saiyajin finally relaxed when the two voices were drowned out by the rush of water from the showers.

For the first time since they walked in his brain started to compute what he had just learned. So, it seemed Freeza had himself a favoured whore, and one that he kept away from the main palace. Interesting and a huge mistake on the Tsiru-jin's part. A male will often reveal any number of secrets to a concubine, the prejudice of male superiority or the wish to unload the hardships of responsibility made men's tongues loose around such females.


With a smirk and a glance back to the occupied showers, Vegeta slipped the familiar Saiyajin chest armour over his head and walked out of the locker room. His feet led him quickly away from the main hall and the traps and pitfalls which abounded there for him this night. His mind now returned to his earlier thought, deciding that he had just found the means to rid himself of his frustrations. It had been far too long since he had partaken in his physical needs and one woman would kill two birds with one stone.

It wasn't long before he was at one of the few exits of the massive palace, his quick mind formulating a plan. He would find this woman of Freeza, persuade her by force or reason to tell him everything that she could about the Empire's workings. Afterwards ... afterwards, he repeated to himself, the final details solidifying in his brain, he would spare her the horror of having to bed the Tsiru-jin. What a blow it would be to the bastard to have his personal concubine killed under his very nose.

Taking one last look about, his characteristic smirk grew wider. How lax could the Colds be? There wasn't even a guard at the door, all of them probably enjoying the drink in the main hall. No wonder their spies could reach so far into the Capitol.

Slamming the grand door open, he let his ki shield form around him to hold back the icy air of the frozen world, but still his body tensed with the cold. No matter, he chided to himself. Soon he would be inside, getting everything he would need from the whore of the Colds.


  

"Could there be anything to the timing? Communication networks don’t suddenly shut down, unless there is some will behind it." Minister Noion’s curt voice cut through his memory as Vegeta’s ears finally perked up to the conversation around him. For all his loyalty and ingenuity, the former clan chief was ever alert and suspicious. Vegeta had stopped counting the number of missives and vague notes that had come from the Minister’s office, telling him to cut the ties now. For all that it grated on the Prince he couldn’t fault Noion his distrust. The marks of betrayal ran deep, especially in someone like him.

"No greater will than dumb luck and bad maintenance. You’ve been too spoiled on Vegetasei, it’s not uncommon to lose the network for a few hours a week." The Western grunt called out, his brogue thick with mockery at Noion’s suspicions. Vegeta held back the urge to growl. This Zucin was too brash, insolent, and open with his words, a bad combination when discretion was needed.

"I wouldn’t put it past the Cold’s to blame their faulty equipment on the rebels. Ever since they lost their top engineer in the Borderlands, their technology, weaponry, everything has gone down hill." At that, Vegeta did snap and only his bone deep control kept him from pounding the insolent bastard into the ground. How dare that little shit mention that bitch in his presence.

Cawliefe, on the other hand, could hardly keep down his look of alarm at Zucin’s comment and quickly took back the reins of the conversation.

"Whatever the state of their technology, the black-out is definitely unusual. The satellites have been out for several days, the whole of the borderlands is effectively cut off from the rest of the Cold Empire. Our contacts on Tsume say that Cold believes it is the work of something more childish and vengeful than the resistence. A spoiled brat with a bruised ego and the desire to disobey his father."

"Freeza shutting down an entire system just to be a nuisance? I’d believe it." Zucin remarked, earning a chuckle from most of the room for his efforts. Vegeta cracked a smile but inside he was brooding on the question. As spiteful as Freeza could be, there was some deeper method in this madness than a childish whim of pissing off a father.

"A nuisance to whom?" Kakarott asked and the mood grew sombre once more. Barely moving his head, Vegeta watched the Western Lieutenant with renewed interest. This one was far too wise, and if the rumours were true, more powerful than any third class soldier had the right to be.

"No doubt to everyone, but if you think it is a direct ploy, it must be against the resistence. As dense as Freeza’s soldiers must be, even they must realise that the border rebels are piggybacking off the Cold’s own communications network. We all knew it was only a matter of time before they started taking these kinds of strikes against us." The Chikyuu-jin ambassador replied, her tone curt as she subtly glanced over at the third class.

"But why now?" Kakarott continued, now openly watching the black haired woman. If he was able, Vegeta would have snorted at such an open display of affection in front of a potential mate. Maybe he was too hasty to call the Viscum soldier wise.

"I’d think it would be obvious, even to you. It’s a ploy to secure their grip over the region before the conference meets. With no eyes to watch them and the rebel communications down, it would be easy for them to wipe out each planet one by one." Letunce announced with a voice of absolute certainty.

"And nearly impossible to keep such a plan under wraps, especially in the Tsume court. One of our contacts in the Capitol would have picked up something like that. They would also need more ships, warriors, and a lot more firepower than what is there now. According to our sensors, there hasn’t been any new ships in the border region in the past week. The only war ship moved away from the region and it was only carrying out a transport mission for our great Commander of the Borderlands." Vegeta finally spoke from the shadows, deciding to make himself known once more. He would not let anyone know of his unbidden thoughts, or that he had been off his guard twice now.

Parnis’ and Noion’s words sprung up in his mind and his own natural suspicions flared up. The third class was on to something, what though was uncertain. There was method in the mad move and the purpose must have been strong enough to force such a drastic step. A number of possibilities came to mind but he dismissed them quickly. Freeza wasn’t just doing this to make a nuisance, or to avoid the outside influences out, but keep the ones in the border region silent.

"Can no one else see the opportunity that is presented here, the whole borderlands would be at a standstill, if we instructed the rebel forces to strike now… ." The menial third class soldier began speaking again, and Vegeta sneered. He still hadn’t forgotten the fool’s previous comment about ... her.

"And how would we accomplish that, idiot?" Parnis snapped and the whole third class contingent bristled at the insult. "Forget the issues of timing, strategy, and weapons, how could we even get a message through the black-out? Haven’t you been listening?"

"What about through the pod drops?" Zucin replied, giving one last push to defend himself.

"Yes, send thirty pods over the border carrying weapons and plans for a revolt during a communications freeze and security high alert. Maybe we should just declare our intentions at the conference, or just give ourselves up to Freeza himself? Even that imbecile Zarbon would figure out what we were up to." Letunce’s underling continued, swatting down each of the upstarts notions. The Western had heart, Vegeta had to admit, but was sorely lacking in the brains that Bardock and his own spawn seemed to possess. For his part, Vegeta smirked at the idea of Zarbon discovering their plot. Hmph, that blue-skinned pretty boy was too interested in getting laid and kissing Freeza’s ass to come up with any idea on his own. The only time he had ever succeed was ... her hand tightening into a fist around …

Kakarott’s warning blared in his head and Vegeta’s own instincts flared as the memory and its implications struck him. Why now? Why would the communication grid go down just at the time that Zarbon delivers a message to his bitch of a mate. A part of him snarled that it was for sex, the bitch and her whore getting back at him for the mistake that was their mating. The logical part of his mind knew it was something else, the reason for the black-out lay in his mate’s delicate hands.

She had always been dangerous to him. Now she could bring him to ruin, again.


  


The tension in his body eased as Vegeta looked back at the massive eyesore constructed of ice and bone. The ancestral heart of the Cold Empire was grandiose and imposing, a den of intrigues and a house of tyrants that always made him ill at ease.

By his own interest in the enemies and his education as future king, he was made to learn the history of Tsiru-jin and its rise to power, the ways and means that their ruling family held on to power. Just a glance at the foreboding palace that looked down on the metropolis that bustled around it reminded him of those early lessons. As the political centre and military stronghold, every important office and bureaucratic ministry was headquartered upon Tsiru-sei, in the city under the palace. Like a giant stone gargoyle or the hand of God, the influence of the Colds hung above the head of every member of the Empire, both metaphorically and physically. A brilliant ploy if it were not for the harsh reality.

The ancient hierarchy and religious adoration that marked the strength of their Empire was falling apart as military failures mounted and the all too natural frailties of want and excess were growing stronger in the degenerate paper house. Ten years ago such degradations as public whore houses and spice dens would not have seen the light of day, but with first great riches then great loss, the populace of the Empire was growing corrupt and dissatisfied. While the natural born inhabitants of Tsiru-sei still held themselves to the set of tradition, the loyalties of the mercenary army that now made up the bulk of the Cold's military required far more carnal rewards.

Speeding quickly from the palace, the landscape below him deteriorated slowly the farther he travelled. The massive, ostentatious castle and the extensive garrison on the far end of the compound gave way to the ever growing city of Tsume. Like white oblong boxes attempting to reach for the precipice of power that towered above them, the hundreds of uniform, white stone buildings grew up against the edge of the blue-purple base of the citadel upon which the ancient castle was built.

Scanning quickly through the area, he could pick up no discernable ki signature; they were empty. As hard as it was to tell on a planet that boasted of no near star to act as a proper sun, night had descended upon this half of the planet. The countless lower beings which would by day occupy those buildings were either in the residential section to the West, or else were in the tiny territory before him, the bordello district.

From the immaculate spread of the pure white stone edifices, the ground below him grew darker, dingier, reflecting the moral decay even in the cleanliness of the air. The white beneath him shifted from grey to brown and finally to black as he touched down on some abandoned side street. Wrinkling his nose against the smell of vomit, death, and depravity, he looked about. The streets were empty at this hour of any life, the frigid cold of the Tsiru-sei night keeping all but the most determined, fool-hearted, or crazed from venturing out. That did not mean that the lower element wasn't out, the dull beat of music and the sounds of people was muted through the black stone walls, the night riding people of their inhibitions and sense.

Raising his ki shield a little more, he steeled himself to his plan. The smatterings of Jeice's bravado had confirmed several reports he had received about a woman believed to be a courtesan in Freeza’s court. All of them were vague, the woman and her personal dealings with the Colds were hidden from even his own contacts.

He had never given much thought to the whores in the Court but now that he was on her scent, the woman intrigued him. If Freeza was willing to visit one of the brothels in the district just to see a woman, she must have been something to him and Vegeta wanted to know what it was, and how much the woman knew. At the moment though, he was lost. He would have to find an informant, willing or not. At the possibility of finding a less than willing one, the Saiyajin Prince smiled. Maybe he would get the challenge he craved, even if it had to come from a few dozen drug influenced patrons.

Walking silently towards the mouth of the alley, he was a few steps from the street when he once more ducked into the shadows at the distinct sound of footsteps echoing through the cold still night. Visions of military patrols or an agent of the Colds flared in his mind and he tensed his body, preparing to strike down any enemy that might come upon him, the feeling of unease coming over him. It would take only the hint of impropriety, or worse, violence against the Cold Empire to bring the horrors of his enemy upon him and his people. His mind didn't venture further, the story of the torture chambers in the bowels of the ice and stone palace making him tense in real fear.

Inching up to the edge of two dilapidated buildings, he readied himself to attack as the hurried pounding of feet grew louder. His hand curled into a fist and his mind was set on the need to strike and kill, until his eyes took hold of his victim and he once more ducked back into the shadows.


"Hello? Hello? By the goddess, first I'm late, now I'm hearing things." A timid voice called into the pitch black alley, the small framed Elamites ambassador shifting nervously. The creature had obviously heard him, or felt his presence on some level. Stupid weakling, Vegeta sneered. If he sticks his head out like that, sooner or later it will be sliced off. Even as he was cursing the Elamite, the Saiyajin Prince almost sighed in relief at the sight of the small man. It wasn't long before the rotund diplomat returned to the street and back to his hurried pace. The fear of the unknown was enough to keep the diplomat on his way and checking over his shoulder every few seconds.

Peering out of the shadows to watch the man leave, a smirk formed on Vegeta's once tensed face. If he were a believer in the super natural, he would think someone or something was with him tonight. As much as he would miss the chance to bash a few of Freeza's soldiers around, opportunity had provided him with a far better method, a trail to follow and prey that could be easily blackmailed. And prey, he noted, that was now getting away. Hmm, he always did prefer a hunt.

This time he gave no thought to soldiers, silence, or hiding in the shadows but shot into the air. His keen eyes, easily adjusting to the low light, found his prey within seconds and followed the blue skinned Elamite through the empty streets.

Against his better sense, Vegeta had to admit now that he was intrigued. He had met the ambassador once before at an official visit to his father's court and the old man came off as stuffy, timid and conservative then. Why in the Empire would such a dour little man be roaming about the streets of the most notorious section of the Tsiru-sei capital? To keep an appointment it had sounded like, the immediate connotation making the Saiyajin flinch in disgust, his mind momentarily filled with mental pictures.

Instantly regretting this course of action, he set himself once more, holding back the voice of self-doubt that was rising like the coming tide every moment, making him question the impetuousness of this scheme. This was a waste of his time. He was on a wild goose chase, searching for a woman that might not exist while chasing a scared Elamite. Worse than that, what would happen if he was sighted by the military patrol, or caught in this area. There would be a scandal, one he was not willing to put upon his Father or his people.

While his pride hackled at the various pitfalls circling his brain, his logic and sense of duty was pushing him forward. For all Vegeta’s contacts, to have an operative in the heart of Freeza’s household would be a huge chink in his enemy’s armour. Besides, people were beat up or killed in the bordello district all the time. If a patrol or an Elamite ambassador suddenly ended up dead, who would be the wiser?

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his chance as the tiny speck on the far away ground disappeared into one of those dingy, low grade buildings. The Saiyajin started to descend, surveying the terrain before he moved in for the kill. Pausing at the single, thick metal door, his eyes made one last sweep of the surrounding area, ensuring that neither he nor the ambassador had been followed, then turned once more to his task. It would be far easier to win the Elamite to his cause if the ambassador were to be found in a compromising state, so he waited a moment more and then slipped silently through the door.


The first thing he noticed, much to his amazement, was the smell. Not that it was particularly bad, on the contrary, the air seemed filled with the smell of clean. No filth, or sex, or vomit, urine, alcohol or the like could he detect with his nose, just a clean scent mixed with a lighter, softer, more pleasing aroma he knew and yet could not recognise it.

His eyes quickly adjusted to the dark, the few shafts of light which escaped from one of the other rooms giving him back his sight. It seemed he was in a foyer, taking in the neat little closet and collection of couches with passing interest. The look of the small room reminded Vegeta of the various waiting rooms within the Saiyajin palace. Though they were empty of life, the signs of a crowd were there in the dozens of overcoats and other clothing to ward off the chill of the night.

About to ask aloud what trick was being played on him, his attention was diverted by the soft whisper of a voice, followed by various sounds of approval, and a woman's laugh. By the First, he was mesmerised by the sound, and he drew closer to that laugh and the warm light.

Through the small hall and around a corner he absently walked, his ki sense flaring every so often to assure him of what he was feeling. The house was empty, except for one room, the one at the end of the hall. When a quick sweep confirmed that no other warriors or high powered fighters were nearby, he moved quickly to the door and the woman's voice that seemed now to lilt through his ears like some siren's song.

As confused and intrigued as he was by the house and the strange voices he heard from behind the door, he held back his curiosity. Even though the outside was nothing more than a crumbling building in the centre of depravity, he knew this was a place of peace he would not disturb that for the crown of the Saiyajin Empire. Besides, he thought, taking in the gentle tones of the various conversations, he would get far more using cunning and stealth over violence and intimidation. He was a Prince and had been groomed in the arena of politics since his naming.

Lightly pushing one of the doors open, he almost hid his face from the glare of the light. His eyes, so long deprived of the sensation, now cried foul at being exposed to too much too quickly. Squinting his eyes and snarling at the sight he must be making, he finally pushed past the door's edge and into the mysterious room, keeping his head up and his expression confident, giving the appearance of authority before he could address the waiting crowd.

"Excuse me, sir. Can I get you anything?" A tiny voice asked him in Standard, the words garbled with a gutteral accent. When the spots before his eyes finally cleared he saw one young servant girl standing beside him with a food tray. What in the Empire was this place?


Before him was a grand receiving hall, worthy of royalty. The room was bathed in the light of several hanging chandeliers and the polished hard wood floors were adorned with a finely woven rug. Unable to keep back his amazement, he knew his eyes must have betrayed it all as he took in every detail, the elegant reclining sofas, the mirrors, and vivid paintings which graced the light blue walls. Within the room, discussing, debating, or enjoying the food and drink were dozens of dignitaries and intellectuals from across the universe. It took a minute more for his mind to begin to work on a normal level again when he realised with a degree of shock and annoyance that he was being ignored. Searching once more for the Elamite ambassador, or a possible source of that lyrical laugh, he finally turned back to the nervous girl that had not moved from his side waiting patiently for his answer.


"What is this place? More important, what is it doing in the middle of the bordello district?" Though his voice low and calm, there was note of unquestioned authority in his tone. The harshness wasn’t lost on the servant as she gulped softly and the unmistakable scent of fear permeated off her.


"I … I'm terribly sorry, sir. If you were wishing for more lascivious entertainment I’m afraid you must have made a wrong turn. I know that Grimor house is but a block from here, I can give you directions if you need." Every word punctuated by the broken standard, the young wench watched him for a reaction of anger, or more to the point, if he would take his anger out on her.

Holding back a low growl in the back of his throat at the implication of her words, he felt her inch back when fiery black met with passive grey until a hint of that laugh from before drew his eyes back to the centre of the room.


"This is a private residence, sir." The girl continued, obviously relieved to be spared his gaze and his wrath. "This is Mistress Bulma's salon. If you wish, I can offer you something to drink before you go back out, I'm sure our wine is far better than any you would find at a whor…"


"Do not presume, wench, to know what I want or why I am here. Now go to whatever menial task you were performing before, since your usefulness is at an end." He hissed back, the intent behind his voice enough to make the chit scurry away. So much the better, now he could look about, explore this contradiction in terms, a centre of culture and refinement in the den of depravity.

All thoughts of finding some mysterious woman and learning any secrets about Freeza's military were quickly forgotten. A salon the girl said, what’s more it was all run by some woman, with one of the oddest names he had ever encountered. Who in their right mind would name their daughter after a piece of underclothing?


Keeping to the shadows at the back of the room, his ears and eyes were opened to anything and everything in the room. He even hoped to get more information for his cause than two nights in the company of Cold's court had accomplished. He listened in as men and women who were the foremost minds of their time discussed the complexities of intergalactic politics.


"I've heard over the hyperlink that the rebels have won another victory. The whole of the Centauri systems munitions supplies blown to bits moments before the ship was going to touch down. Some people are now saying that Zarbon is on his way out, and Freeza might set Dodoria in his place, or worse, whichever member of the Ginyu force wins the tournament in the Capitol. Either way, it may be the end of your favourite cause, Morphus, unless they can once more pull out a feat of impossible odds."


"It wouldn't be the first time. When you're fighting against one of the strongest Empires in the galaxy, and winning, the hand of fate must definitely be working in your favour. Can you blame me for taking a little satisfaction for every victory, or hit the Colds’ take to their power base and their pride? It might be easy for you to remain silent about the whole affair, but politically and just ideologically, nothing would make me happier to see them succeed." The Guerrier diplomat replied to his Pamphylian counterpart. Fools. The hand of fate, more like the hand of the Saiyajin. If only they knew.

Trekking further into the centre of the room, Vegeta allowed himself to slip from the cover of shadows, all the while keeping himself unnoticed by the majority of the room. The implacable look on his face was enough warning to any that did dare to stare at him.


"My dearest Bulma, I'm sorry I was so late. I was honour bound to attend the celebratory banquet for the tournament and diplomacy necessity kept me from breaking it. By Torem, it was a nightmare, like a den of thieves and killers. You dare not turn around for fear that you'll have a knife in your back. Worst of all, the farther along in the week, the more violent and bloodthirsty competitors remain. It's a miracle a fight didn’t break out.

"My skin crawls just thinking about it. I swear I was followed the whole way here, that a set of eyes were watching me the whole time." Ah, so he had not totally lost his means into this place, Vegeta’s characteristic smirk returned to his face at the Elamite's statement.

He was a second from finding the servant girl again, the mention of food and drink echoing all the stronger as his stomach began to rumble, until he heard it. All noise and thought and sense of time stopped and that voice touched his ears again. Before his very eyes, the mingling crowd shifted, parting by some inexplicable force to reveal the centre of the room, the little soft spoken Elamite ambassador, and… by his ancestors he could not describe it. The flash of pale skin, luminous in the soft light. Her eyes were the most unusual light blue, the same hue as pools in the royal gardens. Blue hair was neatly curled above her head and clothed in a gown of finest blue silk, like something ethereal to his eyes.


In retrospect, she was a collection of faults and aggravations. From the lift of her head to the set of her jaw spoke of a stubborn nature, her soft mouth hiding a tongue that delighted in striking hard and tasting blood of any who defied her. Her hair, eyes, and body were nothing more than snares for the unwary. It made confusion out of a man's mind, bringing out as much desire to help her as it did just to have her. Even the smell of her body and the sound of her voice was a cause for alarm. Hindsight was always twenty-twenty and at the time, caution was the last thing on his mind.


"Please, please, I beg of you, Rese-san, don’t mention that horrid tournament. I went to the first celebratory banquet and I can l assure you it will be a cold day in Hell when they can get me to another one willingly. Dear Kami, just thinking about having to remain in the company of warriors, I'm sure I would get far better conversation out of a brick wall, and I'd probably get more respect. Back on my home planet, warriors once followed a code of ethics known as chivalry. Eastern warriors had the code of the Bushido, but I find that such honour is a rare entity in the rest of the universe." The ethereal fell to earth at the first words out of her mouth. She would dare such things about warriors. Where did she come from, Shangri la?

Holding back an annoyed growl at her words, he reasoned that she could not expect such high standards of honour and pride if her life was spent in the Cold Empire. Obviously, she had not met a Saiyajin warrior. Soon the room descended around her, and he snarled yet again as the object of his interest was hidden from his view. Now only the top of her head visible while the gentle lilt of her voice teased his ears.


"I assume you have not gone to see any of the actual competition?" Another, unknown voice asked from out of the small sea of bodies that hovered around the blue haired woman in breathless anticipation. She laughed once more, the gentle tone making him growl against all the hard forged control he had worked at for so long.

Like some queen ruling over a court, she looked out over everyone and saw no one, revelling in the one universal emotion that every observer around her possessed: enthralment.


"Do not misunderstand me. In my younger days, I was a great lover of fighting, well watching it. There is an artistry, grace, and dignity in fighting, but not in the head bashing and chest thumping that is going on in that ring. I was always taught of tournament fighting is that it should be a contest of skills between two fighters, but I've walked through the med centre after the first round of matches. There is no nobility in that. Two fighters, specifically two low intelligence males from my experience, literally rip each other apart. For what? Bragging rights?

This tournament is allowing these men to do in the arena what they cannot do on the political front. Peace has kept them from real battle so they take to beating each other for kicks to relieve the tension. It's pathetic really. It brings one harsh and indelible reality perfectly into light; as far as we come, we never progress as far as the lowest common denominator, be it Tsiru-jin, Echina, or Saiyajin." Insolence, loud-mouthed wench!

If he were not one of those that she had so unceremoniously insulted he might have smiled at her spirit. It was rare indeed to find someone that could speak so freely and command such attention but circumstance had made them enemies in this.

He began to wonder what odd backwater she must have spawned from. She certainly couldn't be a native Tsiru-jin. The body could almost be that of a Saiyajin, if it weren't so obviously weak, her colour so exotic, and the very lacking tail. Her arrogance was also beyond anything he had ever encountered, especially in one so weak. Only the unofficial and outspoken Chikyuu ambassador had such gall. His blood boiled at the prospect of defeating this blue haired vixen at her own game, using the wit he refined in his father's court.

Pushing completely out of the shadows as he stood sentinel behind the sea of turned backs, he crossed his arms and snarled, staring right at the woman. His reply poised on the tip of his tongue, his voice caught in his throat as that sea blue gaze fell upon him.

The light in them chastised him for being in a place where he had no business entering, taking such a liberty as to look upon her. Then he saw it, that haughty look slowly melting away as she really saw him, not just some face in the crowd but him. Those bright, exotic eyes widened in disbelief and something akin to amazement at the sight of him. Her whole body tensed, if ever so infinitesimally, and her breathing quickened in her chest.

In reality the tableau before him had hardly changed. Even the high-minded individuals that hung on her every word had not noticed her apparent shock, slight as they were but it was enough. So the little ice queen could feel, and she certainly could fear, he smirked at the expression of uncertainty that shone from her eyes. Like his own flicker of shock, it took but a moment for that impassive, confident stare to return, but it was too late. He had caught sight of her weakness, the uncontrolled emotion in her eyes like blood in the air and, predator creature he was, he struck out.


"How easy it is to throw around insults when there is not a true or competent warrior to counter your simple-minded arguments, woman." Everything seemed to echo in his ears. His voice sounded strange through the roar of blood and his own self-doubt screaming to him, the former giving him the nerve to go forward as the latter tried to rein him back.

It was too late to go back, her eyes had firmly centred on him. Whatever emotion that had been betrayed in them earlier was nothing but a distance memory, or more aptly, transferred to the gaze of the crowd that now turned to him. His focus strictly on his new prey, he allowed his eyes to stray for a moment to the startled faces, many of whom held recognition in their eyes. Glaring out with a stare worthy of his father in his greatest rage, every voice in the crowd went silent, lest they lose their tongues from his wrath.


"As far as I can tell, there still isn't a true and competent warrior here to do so, not that one could ever been found. It is a contradiction in terms, especially in the case of your race, Saiyajin." As quickly as he had begun to smirk at his own words, she countered back, showing him a smirk to rival his own. The eyes of the once frightened group widened with amusement at the woman's words and tone. Damn the little wench to hell, he swore before lashing back, enjoying the challenge of her mind against his own.


"Then you must be blind, wench, or as ignorant as a new born babe. It’s obvious you have no sense, but then, what woman does? Do you really think you can compare to smarter and stronger men? If I had more time and patience, I might teach you how to shut that mouth of yours. It might keep you from getting yourself raped or worse, speaking so freely against those who could so easily crush that fragile neck of yours."

"Then I really must thank you, monkey of the loud mouth, for proving my point better than I possibly could and in only two minutes in your company. If anything, I give them too much credit. What is the matter, Saiyajin, is just the idea of anyone questioning you enough to make you threaten violence and rape? Or is it that I, or anyone weaker than you, should not live in fear of abuse by those who are stronger that offends you? The days when a muscle bound cretin wielding the largest sword, or ki blast I guess for you, are over, and in retaliation against the inevitable, 'warriors', mostly ignorant males, see it necessary to terrorise each other in supposed contest of strength.

"You misunderstand me,'warrior'. I find nothing against the practice of fighting for the sake of personal defence or for the protection of those who cannot protect themselves, but with any of the men I have ever seen in that tournament, I can give no such nobility. I also see it does not just stop at the tournament arena. I can’t for the life of me remember sending out any invitations to any Saiyajins but after tonight I can definitely tell that the stories of their brutality were not exaggerated, neither it seemed were the tales of their horrid manners." At her words laughter ensued from the once nervous intellectuals around them, but he took in none of it. His eyes watched only her, his ears taking in only her words, his mind focussed only on the task of beating her ass.


"I could say that the reports of your unending tongue and barely registering wit were not exaggerated either, but I've never heard of you, so obviously you don't warrant the importance. Trust me though, wench, when I say that you would never fear rape from me. No matter what you think of the Saiyajin, we have honour, too much to ever rape a weak detestable piece of baggage like yourself. It would be too gruesome a thought to bed you, let alone to take you by force. As to the last charge, there was no lock on the door, or security measure to stop me, but then you live in a home in the vicinity of whore houses. And since your house is still standing and none of your invited guests are dead, my manners are far better than you deserve." He replied back, barely kept back a smirk of superiority. The look on her face, particularly at the point when he told her why she had no fear of rape was positively livid. Holding himself in a relaxed posed, arms crossed over his chest, he waited excitedly to hear her reply.


"Oh, you’ve proved that you are nothing more than a spoiled brat, lashing out with rude comments and pathetic threats every time something doesn’t fall in your favour. But you are a rarity, a talkative Saiyajin who speaks a great deal of nothing. I thought that your race was one of few words, but now I see how wrong I was. Your mouth could be an amazing find. Why the powers of the universe would tremble in terror at the very prospect of hearing you talk. Have you gone to the King with such a discovery, or the 'heaven help the future' heir apparent monkey Prince. As arrogant as he is said to be, he might actually listen to your insane ideas, though you may want to work on your butt kissing." She delivered her barb and waited for his response, first with that deceptive smirk, but even that dissolved when he remained silent, his body tense as she attacked his pride on both sides. Her condescending voice found life again and began to grow as she took advantage of his silence.


"Typical stance of a Neanderthal male from a warrior race. Then again, to show any other point of view would require you to see past the end of that snooty nose of yours, or think with something more than your penis and your ego. I can assure you, Saiyajin, that I did not wish to offend your well ordered sense of normalcy by holding an opinion and being outspoken enough to say it. Where I do it, how, and why are none of your affair."

He knew he should have been enraged at her words. The chit was cutting him down like the royal gardeners trimming back an annoying weed; he, crown Prince of Vegetasei, heir to one of the mightiest empires in the galaxy. Yet, he remarkable held back his tongue, and the minuscule amount ki it would take to silence the insolent woman as realisation struck him.

She did not cower before him. She showed no fear, or any sign that she recognised him. He knew in a heart beat that he gained the ultimate victory over her by that fact alone. Even the Colds showed him deference due his rank, and if he wished it, he could easily bring her low. His triumph was sealed without lifting a finger but it wasn't enough. Something surrounded this woman, this aura of spirit that called to him, intrigued him. As weak as she was, she injured him worse than any of his opponents during the tournament with nothing more than her words.

What an interesting development, he chuckled to himself, the sound obviously reaching her ears as her cheeks flushed in anger. His laughter turned louder as he watched her growing anger at his supposed insult. So there was fire in her as well, beyond the graces, smiles, and witticisms. Maybe this trip wouldn't be a waste after all.


"Typical response from an empty-headed intellectual who speaks reams and reams of words, and none of them are worth a thing. You must fear warriors a great deal, woman, to speak against every member of my race and with nothing but rumour and innuendo back up your claims. If I were an experienced judge of character, as you claim to be, I'd say from your little barrage of insults that I was closer to learning your weaknesses than you are willing to admit.

"I can tell you know that you have no knowledge of what you speak. Of course, with an ego like that, I’m sure you are often wrong, though never uncertain about your misguided beliefs. If anything, it is your body that has won you more attention than your highly vaulted mind, though why anyone would be interested in either, I can’t imagine. Have you grown too comfortable with these fawning weakling men who throw empty compliments your way? Are you afraid to fight against me, if you can handle anyone from a warrior race?"

Here it was, no more than a half an hour in her company, only a few minute of direct vocal contact and already he was engaging her in combat. She could never match him in a true battle, but the outcome of this little episode was yet to be seen and it was already affording him more stimulation than any challenge the arena had to offer. No matter what, he meant to savour this victory, would taunt and stalk his opponent until the very end, as long as he kept his identity a secret. Already he could hear the whispers of his name. While his identity was unknown to the girl, it was not to most of these men.

Flashing an icy, predatory stare worthy of his race, the whispering fell silent. As weak in body as their learning had made them, they possessed enough common sense to know that he was not to be trifled with. Only the woman seemed so lacking.

Something in his words must have struck her as that carefully controlled expression was swept away. Her eyes radiated an inner glow of anticipation, a want and desire for battle that he himself knew all too well. Her skin, once as pale as the ice and bone exterior of the Tsiru-jin royal palace, flushed pink, and upon her soft, full mouth, a wicked smirk spread across her lips, proclaiming her intent to the whole room to take up arms against him.

Against his own tutelage in poise and restraint and all the discipline he had acquired in his training, he smirked in reply, indicating his intent, no, his desire to take her on at her own level. His tail swayed behind him at the promise of a fight, or was it the woman herself? The blue ice queen was transforming into something out of one of the ancient legends he had endured in his academic studies: a far-ven or cealair, women of great magic and power.


"Afraid of you? Don't make me laugh, Saiyajin. I welcome any form of debate, whether the opponent is worthy of my skills, or not. You're not the first man to question how I have the gall to speak my mind, but I can assure you, you will be my favourite one to bring down. So come on, Monkey Boy, I can take any challenge you could ever give me."

With that the two traded verbal blows, arguments, insults with the ferocity of two warriors in the grips of mortal combat. Transfixed in their places, watching entranced by the spectacle, the crowd around them stayed until the late, late hours of the Tsiruseian night.

His blood was alive with the song of battle, his body experiencing the rush of adrenaline and the burning need to fight just as he would with any punch, kick or ki blast. He revelled in the challenge of matching her quip for quip, insult for insult. She too must have felt it. Every time the topic shifted or an hour flying past, she lost that perfect composed air, her manner growing wilder and more abandoned. Even her appearance grew more tousled, almost sultry and hoydenish, the effect making Vegeta try even harder to cause her to slip up, enjoying the transformation the lost control made in her. In the end, as hard as he fought, he could not stave her off, experience in the field of mental combat giving her the edge. At last she pinned him down, both knowing that the victory, hard won as it was, was hers.


"That, Saiyajin," the woman replied, her once high voice now low and husky with the effort of sustained speech, and he unconsciously shivered at the effect her voice had over him. She didn't notice, or seem to care, instead, grabbing a goblet of the sweet red wine from the passing servant girl to toast him as a competitor. "Was check-mate." The edge of the cup was posed at her lips for her to drink to his defeat, her eyes roaming over him in open appreciation, only to blush when his eyes bore into hers.


"No, woman, only check." He purred to her, stepping into the shadows as he bowed in a mock show of respect, and to compliment himself on causing so striking a reaction in her.

Looking back, he grew lost in those blue eyes of hers. Never in all his days had he seen anything like them.


  


Ripping himself from the wash of his memory, the set of blue eyes planted in his brain faltering a little. The captivating blue hue dulled to black and he burned with the realisation that he was being watched and caught woefully unaware.

Sliding his eyes open, Vegeta fixed a contemptuous stare upon his face, glad beyond all measure for the shadows that hid the red tinge of his cheeks from display. Expecting the whole assembly to be turned and openly staring at him for day dreaming, he was surprised, and somewhat offended to find the talk going allow remarkably well without him. No one noticed his lack of enthusiasm in the slightest, well almost no one. His unforgivable lapse was seen by one pair of eyes.

The sideways glance of Cawliefe's hard stare was still on him, trying to read his thoughts with his eyes, all the while he felt the prodding of the older man's mind to his. Still shaken by so deep a submergence into his memories, he responded with a sharp mental cuff to Cawliefe. The opprobrious invasion was far too personal but he got the intended message and his attention returned once more to the meeting. At least his good intention did. Much to his displeasure, Noion had deferred to his Occhion assistant to explain the difficulties of hiding the expenditures in the military budget.

At least someone still knew their place, the Prince noted. The young man, born to be a bureaucrat by the look of him, smelt strongly of fear. Not that any subtle sign was needed to tell him that, every word out of the boy's mouth was a stutter. Letting his own mind wander, he couldn't help but glance over to Bardock and his son, Kakarott, specifically at the latter.

Of all of the individuals that Cawliefe had assembled into this motley crew, the two Western Viscum clansmen were the most notorious. Word of their clan, and it seemed particularly their line's power was infamous, combined with the traitorous past made the Saiyajin Prince on edge. Both had shown great loyalty to the cause, even to taking his orders. Common sense did not seem to be passed from one generation to the next, remembering Kakarott’s shameful display, but there was something to the younger man especially.

By chance, or more probably Potat's manoeuvring, he and his father had been stationed to the palace for the duration of the treaty festivities. In just one week, the off-worlder had become the talk of every guard and trainer, defeating every opponent that challenged him. There was even talk that he was elite level or higher, and Vegeta freely admitted to himself that he wanted to challenge the upstart. He hadn't had a good challenge since, since Tsiru-sei.

It seemed also that he was not the only one that was drifting with this boring talk, the object of his investigation was not so subtly shifting his eyes about the room. Like clockwork they first settled firmly on the human woman. Hmph, the boy really didn't have any tact when it came to women. Neither did he have any when it came to royalty Vegeta replied to himself when the Viscum’s black eyes turned to him.

The two men stared across the room menacingly to each other. The tension between them seemed to make the air crackling with the primal rivalry instinct of two very alpha males, to see who was the stronger. From the looks of it, Kakarott was as interested in a battle as he had just been, the prospect of it making the man actually force out a grin on his impassioned face.

The sudden familiarity made Vegeta's blood boil. About to strike the boy down, he stayed his voice and his hand when Bardock’s voice caught both of them, indicating that the topic had switched yet again. When Kakarott turned away, the almost tangible link of distrust and desire for power was severed. The remnants of it hung in the air, causing the Prince to growl and mutter and bring attention back once more onto himself.

This time he decided to nip Cawliefe's coming question in the bud, and voiced his opinion with all the authority of his title. Reduce money for new arms to the rebel, he said, giving the various reasons which had come earlier that night along with several of his own. Intelligence was by far the greatest important asset they had now, especially with this recent communications blackout.

Staring down his newest opponent once more, he expressed his distrust of the current border guard, his glare and tone making light of the fact that Kakarott was one of those soldiers that defended the border. A pair of low growls followed his terse remarks. He'd struck a cord with the Viscum boy, and his lapdog underling, Zucin, but their ire soon died out. As headstrong as they were, the two were not foolish enough to say a word against the crown.

Enjoying the indirect cuff to remind the men of their place, he was not quite so fortunate with the human representative. The words were hardly out of his mouth before the woman was at the cusp of a possible diatribe, but showing better judgement than the other nobles, he cut her off before the words left her mouth.


"Ambassador," he said, his voice as thick with sarcasm as during his first meeting with his own Chikyuu witch. "If Freeza hasn't figured our little scheme out yet, it will be only a matter of time, and every transport we send over the border will alert him to us. Better that we know what is in his head than simply giving him the answer and have him destroy us both. I would not scoff at any attempt to fortify the border, since it will soon be all that separated the rebels from the Colds."

There was silence in the room after his little speech, the occupants looking over at each other to see who would be the first to speak, or speak against him. Confident that he had made his point and recovered himself from the inexcusable slip up from earlier, he eased himself back against the wall, back into the thickest shadows. The room seemed to relax around him and Cawliefe took the lead once more.

The meeting continued back to its previous pitch, the real animosity finally played itself out from before, though the underlying tensions still persisted. The only one that caught his interest though was his own between himself and the upstart, even to the point where a mini verbal war started between them over the possibility of direct Saiyajin involvement in the fight. It seemed the rumours of Kakarott’s intelligence were false, the young Prince decided, nearly calling the young, cocky officer to the arena. The day a good idea split from that idiot's mouth was the day his 'wife' would be a Saiyajin hero. He would give the boy one thing, Kakarott was sly and very confident. The Viscum did not lack at all in a warrior's pride, as befitted the Saiyajins, and in particular the Western clans. It would be his pleasure to beat the impudence out of the officer.

The prospect of a real battle filling his head with the promise of the victory that would come, and the glory of matches he had not so long ago won.


  


Fuelled with insatiable desire for battle which the night before had only mentally quenched, he let his power surge and his body sing as his fourth round opponent crumbled and fell. The weak bodied Ginyu’s telekinetic tricks were no match for his brute strength and cunning. He savoured his victory as only a member of the royal house could, making sure that what remained of Guido would not be getting out of the regeneration tank for a long while. His attack would send a message to all the competitors, and most especially to Freeza's Elites; never underestimate a Saiyajin.

Like every other match before, a medical team was soon rushing the charred time shifter away to the med centre, leaving the Saiyajin alone in the arena to revel in his success. But the greatest irony of all afflicted him, the metallic smell of blood and the roar of the crowd was nothing but an annoying gnat to his conscious. Already he was thinking about his next opponent, but on a very different field. It was the first time since he had arrived on this ice ball that he had found a challenge worthy of part of his attention, and now that he had lost, he was determined to find victory.


He spent the rest of the day in a most unlikely fashion, hunting down intellectuals and dignitaries who had graced the woman’s home last night. Each were found and given the pointed warning about what they could reveal about him in that woman's presence. If anyone was going to unveil the high power and nobility of his blood, it would be him.

That night he returned to the inconspicuous house, slipping effortlessly through the doors that at least finally been locked and back once more to the elegant room to face its mistress. Hoping to catch her again by surprise, if for nothing else to have a repeat of that look when she first saw him, it was he who was mildly stunned as she called to him by the derogatory title of ‘Saiyajin’. The brazen nature that she displayed last night was in full force once more, she was taking no prisoners, but it wasn't long before he joined her in the fray, parrying to her verbal thrust.

Almost an hour into their debate he couldn’t hold back a smirk of satisfaction. This verbal and mental challenge easily exceeded the stimulation of any of his tournament bouts. Even though the outcome here was already set in his favour the thrill of combat remained.

He had fought verbally and mentally since he was ten, and had become as well versed in this form of combat as the physical. Since he had joined his Father’s Council, he had never been defeated in a debate. It had reached the point that he hardly paid attention, the challenge long gone but this woman ... she was a challenge. True to his competitive nature, once he had found a challenge he would pursue until he triumphed.

At the back of his mind though, another thought found birth as to why he wanted to come. It was born from her expressive, enchanting blue eyes, his grudging admiration of her warrior's spirit, and the beautiful vessel in which it was stored.

The second night continued as the first. Back and forth they went, not giving an inch. All eyes were fixed intently on them and neither noticed, if only to hear whether a particular jab had made a strong enough effect.

At the end though Vegeta was the one sporting the smirk. Forced into a corner, he held back her assault to the point of stalemate, and more importantly, getting in the last word. This time he held a toast to her, eyes taking her in, unaffected by her angered stare or the light blush that stained her cheeks, and proclaimed that he had her in check. That night was the first time she invaded his dreams, the sight of her teasing eyes and the smell of her hair faintly imprinted on his brain when he awoke the next day.


  


"Once we get lines of communication operational again, it might be in our best interest to start planning our next major attack. We have a window of opportunity approaching us to free at least one rebel world, and I think Chikyuu should be our main objective. We can thank Ambassador Chichi for keeping the plight of Chikyuu in the forefront of every intergalactic conference, gaining the support we will need to make the push. Strategically and in the minds of our supporters and enemies, Chikyuu is our stepping stone into the Outer Borderlands.

"If the next conference goes as I believe it shall, the rebels should have enough support to being a petition that any defecting colonies be allowed to decide their fate by referendum. After that we will have precedent and a lightning rod upon which the other rebel worlds can break hold of the Cold's grasp."


"As long as they know to whom owe their loyalty." The Prince finally said, breaking his self imposed silence after his spat with Kakarott and stepping out of the shadows enough for the whole table clearly see him. A contemptuous snort followed, but the woman was not so stupid as to dare insult him. Against her rage at him, she eventually nodded her assent. The Saiyajins’ help came with a price and she would have to lead her followers to pay it. Vegeta was not worried, no matter what the naysayers proclaimed. It would not take so much convincing to bring Chikyuu to accept rule under the Saiyajin Empire; anything would be better than Freeza.


"We are settled on all issues, and unless anyone has any other business to address, I believe we should be adjourn." Against the sober demeanour that he had been gripped in the whole night, the Saiyajin Prince chuckled under his breath. For the first time in the whole night, the entire room agreed on one thing, and it wasn't long before it was empty of just himself and his father's advisor.


"What do you think our chances are, Ouji-sama?" The older warrior asked him, his tone like that of a father on the future welfare of his children.


"Of victory, or that Bardock and Parnis will end up in the arena by the end of the week?" Vegeta replied, at part of his mind still remembering the past and the woman. Instead of her snort and smart comeback, Cawliefe smirked.


"I'd put ten to one on that, and three to one that Bardock would win. He is unusually powerful, Ouji-sama, as are his sons, as you yourself seemed to have noticed. It is against caution and possibly sense to have them with us, but I trust them. The same cannot be said for the son's companion.

"He is too outspoken for his own good, I think. Our enemy is in our presence, and there is still a threat of discovery which can only increase with a soldier’s gossip about classified activity. If you would excuse me, Ouji-sama, I need to complete a task I had given myself, before they get too far from this room." With that, Cawliefe nodded his respect while sporting a smirk that showed anything but awed reverence, and walked out of the room.




All men have their obsessions. Without these passions, we are dead and his father's words never truer than at that moment.

Once more he was jumping out into the night, into the cold and on a path in the sky which had become as familiar as his own hand over the past few days.

The competition, both in and out of the arena was becoming more and more intense. The matches now coming two in a day as the field grew smaller and the wheat was removed from the chaff. Every day he pushed his power and skill to the limits, pushing what was left at the end for training, knowing with every match he would grow stronger. Five days had passed since Nappa went into the tank. Five days he pounded his way through to make it to the semi-finals, every challenger falling under his superior strength. Every one but the woman.


Touching down, he broke through the meagre security system, noting that she was growing more sophisticated in her attempts to keep him out. His condemnation of her laxness had been taken to heart. It had soon become part of their game, every night a better lock would be upon the door, and every night he would crack it and get in. If her moral reproach of him was not so strong, he might have through she was teasing him, and instantly the thought of colleeys comhrag came to him, and with it a growl of frustration with anything to do with her and mating.

While he revelled in the labour of pushing his mind and wit to his mental limit, an unfortunate side effect was developing. His disdain and aversion were slowly growing into something different. He took pains now to keep to the shadows before each evening to simply watch her in the relaxed, kind-hearted way she greeted her guests, even catching himself half smiling when one spread across her own lips. During their matches he deliberately baited her to make her anger, enjoying the way her eyes snapped fire, even going so far the night before to make her physically attempt to attack him so he could touch her.

Damn wench, she had very sharp nails.

Beyond even that, he had begun to see her in his dreams. At first just glimpses of blue eyes and that exotic hair, soon her face, but now it was her completely, teasing him, taunting him, driving him mad. Like a man possessed, he came to her odd salon, enjoying the passion of competition, all the while he knew he was spirally towards obsession with the wench ... if he wasn't there already.

It was that night though, when the boundaries began to crumple as his world during the day and night blended.

Last night had been his best triumph to date. Arguing her down instead of the other way around, the woman struck back like a wild cat but it was not enough. He was growing more cunning in his tactics, but she still won the last word before retiring to lick her wounds. For every inch he gained she fought back with greater fervour, and more than ever she was out for blood, seeking him like a hunter stalking prey.

As soon as he walked through the door, his instincts were on edge with the sense that he was being watched. His eyes scanned through the room for the source only to land on the face of the blue haired woman before she slipped into the safety of the crowd. Not since the first time he had laid eyes on her did he feel so shocked, or display it so openly, uncaring of how he would appear to the crowd around him who were in anticipation for their next match.

She had smirked at him, her mouth skewed into an expressive so close to his own, and her eyes raged with revenge, yet in their depths he had seen it, that teasing, powerful look. A primal urge was calling out to him to come and get her, if he could. If she were a witness to his dreams, she could not have copied them more perfectly, and with more determination than ever, he stalked after her, taking up her invitation to the colleeys comhrag.


Breaking his own cardinal rule, he stepped out of the shadows and into the centre of the room after her, slipping through the throngs of intellectuals and noting, with a degree of pride, how each conversation stopped to mark his passing. It was a credit to their fear and good sense that his name had not been directly mentioned since that first night. His presence amongst these 'lambs' enough to make them silent and respectful even if they did not know his name. No, only the woman had gall to speak to him with such open disdain, with superiority of character, with no fear.


"You grow too lax, Saiyajin." A soft, husky whisper brushed against his ear and he stiffened to attention. Growling in his throat at her insult, he tried to hide the low purr that threatened when he caught the scent of her. Keeping himself turned away from her to keep her from witnessing his shameless display, he steeled his expression with an air of indifference.


"If I were a fighter, or one of the noble warriors you go on so about, you'd have a knife in your back." She continued, as her hand brushed against the nape of his neck. Faster than her human eyes could take in, he turned around and grabbed her hand, forcing it away from him. Black eyes burned into suddenly very frightened blue, barely registering the looks of the people around him, or the way she trembled against him. It wasn't until she struggled against him and tried to tug her captured hand away that he finally moved.

Leaning towards her, he grinned as she tensed against him at the touch of his cheek against hers.


"If you were such a warrior, woman, you would have been dead by the time I walked into the light." He growled back into her own ear, the creature next to him shivering at his own husky tone. With that he released her arm, crossed his own about his chest and waited for her counterattack, chuckling as the woman stood there, her anger rising by the moment. She must have been on the edge of physical violence. If she could have hurt him, Vegeta realised, there probably would have been a knife jutting from his back.

About to turn around to see how she would handle such a move, one voices of the faceless crowd broke the deadlock and she suddenly remembered her place, her position, and who was now watching her. With that she relaxed and returned to the ever controlled hostess, but all of her control could not hide the flush of her anger, or the waver in her voice. It didn't take long for that to finally fall away and she was once more the ice queen, arguing against him while keeping herself aloof, saying anything that would make him lose his cool, and visa versa.

The topics changed from politics, cultural difference, economics, and the law and Vegeta, for once in his life, thanked the endless lesson he was made to endure by the royal tutors. Both held their own until he through one insignificant remark.


"What a baffling existence you must find yourself, wench. In the time I've tolerated your mindless chatter, you've expounded the virtue of intellectualism, of the noble warrior code, of democracy and a non-centralise planetary coalition government. Tell me then, how is that you live in of all places, the most repressive, tyrannical Empire in the whole galaxy? How you can justify such views and live in such a repressive regime?

"You truly are a contradiction, woman. How the voice which defends the measures of the Borderland rebels can allow the praises for their oppressors to pass through their lips." He waited for her expected reply, preparing himself for a witty remark or a comment about the contradiction of the Saiyajins and their Empire, but it never came.

Looking intently at her face, he was mildly stunned to see the fire which burned in her eyes and cheeks was gone, the latter blanched and the former as large as saucers. Her gaze was not directed at him, but someone behind him. Dropping his smug expression, he was about to turn himself when the woman swept past him and towards the living quarters of the dwelling. She walked quickly, ignoring him, her guests, everything but the mysterious presence that only she had seen.

Before he could react, the timid voice of the young servant girl rose up above the din of questions and speculation that began to arise from the crowd at the woman's sudden disappearance. Shuddering out in the same skittish tone as before.

"Mistress Bulma gives her apologies but an urgent matter has come up and she must attend to it immediately. She hopes you do not mind making it an early night." The thinly veiled explanation was good enough for most as the elegant room quickly and quietly clearing out. Soon it was only Vegeta and the girl in the unnatural silence of a place that had teemed with the signs of intellect life but a few moments ago.

Not caring to hear more spurious excuses, he followed the woman’s path, determined to get to the bottom of it. In his path stood the shaking sentinel guard, the grey eyed servant girl who had first informed him of the identity of the place. Repeating the speech as if it were an oft recited poem, her stuttering grew with every step he took towards her.


"Please, sir, Mistress Bulma wishes you will …"


"I will not." He replied, interrupting the girl, not pausing in his stride as he pushed her to the side and walked into the shadows of the living quarters. He was through the spacious kitchen and down the hall towards the stairs when whispered voices in the dinner room caught his attention.


" … requests you to attend the finals, by his side of course. Considering your role earlier on, he feels it would be prudent." The voice caused his blood to run cold in his veins. By instinct he slowed his pace to keep his presence hidden.


"Requests." Bulma's voice replied, her normal light lilt replaced by something much harsher, more cynical and hardened by the blows of life, not the proud, passionate creature he battled with every night.

"What a nice word for so strict a summons. He demands, you mean. Does he actually believe that watching some blood bath will frighten me into greater submission? That it will bring out the blood thirst in me? Or maybe he wants to see me come to his side like a trained dog to its master? You really should have asked, Jeice. I, for one, would demand to know for what reason I had been demoted to messenger boy." At that he had to smile but from the sounds of it, Jeice did not find the comment so funny. He absently wondered if the red Ginyu would look even redder when he got mad. The question was all pushed aside as Jeice continued, sounding completely unaffected by the woman's remarks.


"Ah, still haven't changed, Bulma. Still sharp tongued when it suits you, and looking as beautiful as ever. You must be insane, living in such an area. You should be kept in the lap of luxury, or better yet, in mine. I think you should come, love, just to see me win. I only have to beat that pathetic monkey you were bating around this evening, and I'll be in the final.

"It'll be the greatest boost for me to see you cheering for me. I may forget the treasonous actions I saw tonight, if I could be persuaded to forget." Creeping close enough to peer into the dim room, he watched as the Ginyu stepped away from the grand wooden dining table and towards the blue and grey ice queen, his eyes not hiding their look of lust. Neither could Bulma hold back her own look of rising fear, the woman swallowing it as she began a slow retreat back to the hall.


"You bastard. You really are desperate if you think threats would ever make me consider letting you touch me, and unless you've joined the censorship squad, you could never find anything against me." At first the woman's voice was so soft and unsteady, he could barely make it out. Stepping closer, he found that he was not the only one on the move. Jeice also walked towards her, forcing her to unconsciously back up against the wall. Even cornered, he knew the woman was a force to be reckoned with, especially with that tongue of hers.


"What is the matter, lieutenant? You thought because I live in the general vicinity of whores and spice houses that I would let anything as vile as you touch me? Not even the threat of death would be enough. If it were a choice between a round through the Tsiru-jin torture halls or being raped by you, I'd confess to the authorities myself.

"And as to the divine built 'monkey' as you call him, I would watch out if I were you. As stupid and cocky as you are, you could never defeat him, especially with me." With the low light and bad angle he couldn't see her face as she spoke but damn it, he could feel the confidence and almost seductive power of her voice, made all the more forceful by the fact that she was talking about him.

Wishing that his eyes could take in more than the grey tinted world, he could almost make out the darkening of Jeice's face as the imbecile turned an even darker shade of red.


"You fucking bitch." The alien growled at her, determined to wipe the obvious look of power from her face and succeeding when he slammed his fist through the wall behind her as she cried out in shock.


"You would spread your legs for that filthy Saiyajin but you insult me, looking down from your perch that you only achieved by fucking your betters. Maybe you should learn the real punishment for a disobedient whore." With his last statement, Jeice actually smirked. The whole balance of power shifted as the woman lightly whimpered in obvious fear. The groan of cracked plaster followed as Jeice pulled his hand from the wall. A choking gasp from Bulma confirmed his worst fear, the Ginyu's hand had wrapped around her fragile neck.

The room soon filled with the sickening sounds of the woman thrashing against the wall, gasping out for help. Jeice just chuckled and tore at her clothes, the screech of ripping cloth making Bulma's attempts to scream even stronger.

With every scream and laugh, an uncontrollable anger bubbled up in the Prince, burning his throat and pounding in his brain. She was embedded so deeply in him now. The images, both waking and sleeping that had burned into his memory, stabbed at his anger, but the one that pierced the most was the grey washed picture before him. He didn't know if it was instinct, frustration, a sudden sense of justice, possessiveness, or the need to take a shot at the cocky bastard but in that moment Vegeta didn’t think, he struck.

Giving no warning or challenge, Vegeta cocked back his right fist while his other hand reached for the offending arm at the woman's neck. Stupid fool, Vegeta muttered to himself. Jeice's attention was so focussed on the woman that the Ginyu had only a moment to turn his head and curse out before he went flying across the room. The Saiyajin’s eyes followed Jeice’s path as the red-skinned warrior slammed into a wall, disappearing in a cloud of plaster. After the impact, the whole room was still, only the woman’s panicked breathing broke the uneasy silence.

They stayed in that tense strained state for several minutes until Vegeta's impatience got the better of him. Not breaking the battle stance he had adopted after the initial attack, he let a minuscule amount of ki form into a ball over his hand. The ki lit the room with its blue glow before it followed Jeice's path across the room, blowing the makeshift cover apart and taking care of the Ginyu for the time being.

Vegeta allowed himself to relax infinitesimally and finally looked at the woman who had inspired his attack. He scowled at the various bruises that marred her skin and the torn remains of her clothes which she desperately clung to to maintain her modesty. Against his better judgement, his gaze flittered up into hers, and his anger dimmed at the sight. Those two blue, bottomless pools, that once sparkled with fire, anger and humour were filled not with fear, but soul wrenching shame. It wasn't long before the look was gone, the woman's focus shifting over to the pile of rubble and dust that was slowly settling after the ki attack, but Jeice was long forgotten. With the first issue now laying in a heap, Vegeta began to walk towards his main focus, the woman huddled against the wall.

With every step he took towards her, the frown on his face grew as her breath hitched in her throat and her whole body shook with the weight of the shame that shone in her eyes. He was no more than a foot from her when his hand shot out and grabbed her small chin in his palm and forced her face towards him. Cursing his own stupidity and growing attachment, he couldn’t hold back his hand as he wiped away a tear that trailed down her cheek.

In that single gesture, the all consuming shame dimmed and her eyes shone with relief and timidity. Struck with a sense of irony, the Prince smirked down at the woman, remarking to himself the complete reversal from his screaming hoyden into silent, coy female, not at Jeice's assault, but rather from his own touch. Leaning into her, he allowed his cheek to brush against her as he whispered softly into her ear.


"Silly woman, I do believe I've won my point. There are warriors with honour." With those words she relaxed. The weight of her fear faded with the realisation that she was out of danger, at least from the violent nature of Jeice. Resisting the urge to look her in the face, Vegeta decided to bait her a little more, suddenly missing that fiery look in her eyes.


"I am expecting a public declaration tomorrow stating that I was right, plus your undying loyalty and a gift of your first born." That did it.

The emotional wall she built around herself after her attack slowly crumbled away, the fear and shame replaced with anger. The air vibrated with her growing ire, a biting retort posed at her lips, and he couldn't help but look down at them. Licking his own, the sexual frustration he suffered with for the past four nights hit him hard. Pushing her gently against the wall, mindful of the fist size hole close to her head, he lowered his face to hers. Taking advantage of her proximity and the privacy, he studied her soft eyes and lips, and most importantly the sweet smell of her. He almost growled when he first inhaled the aroma off of her. It was there, tickling his nose, almost palatable in his mouth. It hadn't occurred to him that she might want him as much as he had wanted her.

As he came closer her body vibrated, and the smell grew a little stronger even as she began scowling at him, slight curses flowing from her lips. Stubborn wench, even in this she had to fight him, not that she would win the challenge either.

Hmphing at her, he finally bridged the space between them, his arms winding around her waist. Pausing to check her smell again, he pressed his lips to hers.

Merely brushing his lips against hers at first, he deepened it as he felt her body begin to relax into him. All anger, shame, and inhibition melted out of her, to the point where she started kissing him back. At that he began to purr like a content cat. The screaming vixen he knew was making her presence known and the shell she built around herself fell away. The lax arms at her side wound around his torso and her hand slowly stroked him through his body suit.

It was what he had wanted since he had first seen her across the brightly lit salon that first night, commanding the crowd with her formidable charisma, beauty, and grace. His mind dreamt up inferior imagines of how she would feel and what it would be like; it wasn’t nearly as good the real thing. His every sense was assaulted by her presence, the taste of her was on his tongue. It wasn't good enough though. He wanted more, he wanted her.

Pulling away to let her fill her lungs, he smirked at the sight of her. Her flushed cheeks, lust clouded eyes, husky erratic breathing, and all from him. Running his hand through her hair, he was an inch from her mouth when she closed her eyes and she pushed herself against him. He smirked wickedly as her mouth partly opened … when they were interrupted by a heavy groan from the pile.

Damn him, Vegeta growled. Jeice always had the worst sense of timing.

The whole atmosphere in the room shifted with the rudely timed sound. The lust she was giving into a moment before receded as fear and shame returned to her brilliant eyes. Fighting against the alien feelings that kept him by her side, he walked over to the pile, preparing to beat the unfortunate warrior for putting him in this position in the first place. At the sight of his enemy, Vegeta’s anger evaporated, and his lips formed a devilish smirk. Ignoring Bulma for the time being, he gave Jeice a slap across the face to test his theory, earning a low moan for his effort. Figures, out cold.


Turning back towards the woman, he hardened himself against the wave of uneasiness sweeping over him. The overwhelming desire was now gone, its memory lingered heavily in the air. Staring over at her though, his wish to continue was dampened by the sight of her clothes and the fragile state of calm that she was holding onto by a thread. He could still take her, was openly admitting his desire to do it, but it would not be like this. He would not have her after a near rape, taking advantage of her. It wasn't that he cared for her welfare, but when it happens she would be at her full wits, snapping at him.


"It seems our friend is unconscious. Must have hit the bastard harder than I thought, but what can one expect from the Ginyu Force. Heads as hard as stone and brains as soft as mush. Do you have a back entrance to the house?" Still unable to trust her own voice, she nodded and pointed back towards the kitchen before her knees began to shake with the strain of holding everything in. Pushing herself away from the wall, she quickly sat down in one of the chairs still left intact. Slowly walked over to her, the need to comfort her overwhelmed him again. Placing his hand laid on her shoulder, he silently accepted the duty of handling Jeice.


"I think it would be best if we," Vegeta said, gesturing to the plaster pile. "Slip out the back. Cold's spies have eyes and ears everywhere, and it would be best if no one knows what happened tonight.

"Your mouthy maid once gave me directions for one of the premiere brothels in the vicinity. I can grease a few palms, leave him at Grimor's bathed in alcohol and smelling of women to keep him silent." When he admitted his knowledge of Grimor and how he came by it, she blushed softly.


"Thank you." She replied, her mouth opened and poised as if to say something more, her eyes glinting with hopefulness and, he noted, her scent contained the linger remnants of lust. She still wanted him, and was attempting to ask for just that, but he pressed one finger to her mouth.


"As much as I'd like to keep going, you are in no shape to oblige me." Gasping at his words, whether to the fact that she was being rejected or that he would have conscience enough to reject, he didn’t know. Not wanting another argument, he pressed his finger a little harder to maintain the tentative silence.


"Once I leave, locked all of your doors and windows, hopefully with something better than the simple things you've been using to tease me with this past week." The huff that followed told him he hit his mark, but she relaxed and nodded, rubbing her cheek against his hand.


"Goodnight, woman." He whispered to her, taking his hand from her shoulder to walk back towards the unconscious Jeice. About to grab hold of the bastard's wrist and drag him out to the kitchen, he turned back to Bulma, remembering the moments before she had left the hall and their verbal spar.

Finally getting out of the chair, she was almost to the hall when he called out again, needing to see her angry again.


"Woman, I believe that was check mate."


"Only check, monkey boy. Only check." She replied, her voice softly echoing through the halls. The sound was hardly loud enough for most species to make out, but it came through clear to his Saiyajin ears. It wasn't over just yet, he admitted to himself, suppressing a shiver at memory of that kiss. It was just the beginning.




It was late now. The revelry and talk from the banquet in the main hall melted away, the excitement which hung in the air went flat after his and Zarbon's confrontation. Through the brightly lit corridors, past the night patrol and the few alien dignitaries still about, it was blatantly apparent that his mini-war was still the talk of the night.

With every retelling he heard from guards who obviously were not present, the story grew more fantastic. It had everything from an assassination attempt by Freeza to a rumour that he might have flicker golden during the fight. At least the guards were wise enough to keep silent as he walked past, all of them giving their bow of loyalty and keeping silent with their tall tales until he was out of sight. The alien accounts were far less flattering. There were whisperings of secret alliances between the Saiyajins, the Colds and any other major super power, to the point where they would conquer every free planet in the galaxy. He wondered bitterly where the weaker species could get such ridiculous ideas and speak about them so openly, with no regard to the sensitivity of the Saiyajin ears. At the conspiracy theories he just chuckled. The very thought of such an alliance was ludicrous but what made his tail lash in anger was the rumour that the fight was a personal vendetta, a lover's quarrel over the woman.

For diplomatic reasons, the true status of the Hime was never openly discussed, no dissension was to be shown in the royal house. Though they were never really seen together, due to the nature of their joining, most of the galaxy believed their marriage to be a ‘love’ match. With her shameless display in front of Zarbon and his own reaction, many assumed that he was mad because of his wife's former love affair, or worse, that it was not so former as it was reported. He even heard that she had met the Changling in his chambers plotting the downfall of the Saiyajins, his beautiful wife and Freeza's lackey locked in some sordid embrace.

Unconsciously, he actually began to power up. The fur on his tail stood on end at the thought, only to smooth down as logic reasserted itself. It’s only an empty rumour, he reminded himself. The bitch would never risk her life on such a pathetic creature as Freeza’s ass kisser.

His resolute conviction wavered slightly when he learned that the woman had not been seen since after his confrontation three hours ago. Probably retired to her room, he declared to himself, or to her beloved lab. There was no way she could be with him, Vegeta proclaimed with more conviction than he truly felt.

The look on her face when she saw Zarbon was telling, full of shame. The expression was the same as the night Jeice attacked her, called her a whore and revealing the truth of her relationship with Freeza, albeit unknowingly. Besides, as stupid as the woman is, she would dare not try such a scheme right under his nose …

The woman looked back at him, fear now mixed with confusion and shame as those blue eyes almost seemed to plead. It was all gone in a moment as his father broke the fragile peace and the woman turned her face away, but not before he caught it, her hand tightening into a fist around … .



His match against Jeice was a wash. Whether from the blow last night, or the embarrassing situation Jeice must have found himself in when he woke up, he looked a wreck when he entered the arena. Vegeta suspected that the other man indulged in the brothel's specialities to forget his humiliation. The smell of spice, alcohol and sex hung on the Ginyu like a cheap scent.

It took twenty minutes to beat him unconscious, nineteen minutes too long for the Saiyajin Prince. While Jeice got the worst of it last night, Vegeta found his own means of suffering.

He dreamed of her again, spent the night in agony reliving that kiss and the feel of her body against his own. His frustrated mind went one step further, imagining what it would be like to have her in bed, or just on the floor. While such images were far from a nightmare, what followed was.

The memory of the slurs Jeice yelled against her continued to play on Vegeta's mind. Every time he heard them, he would find his arms empty, and look up to see the woman in the arms of another, with her legs spread, screaming her pleasure. Four times that night he had awoken to with that image burned on his brain, his subconscious not letting him ignore it, or her. Even now he was still feeling the effects of his horrible night, his mind in turmoil even as he fought. His victory was a hollow one, his opponent hardly worth the effort, and his mind was rebelling against him, all for the sake of one woman. What in the name of the Empire was wrong with him?


To add to his troubles, his revenge for his fallen sensei was robbed of him. The second match between the Ginyu members Berta and Riccome ended with the red haired giant falling to the blue skinned reptile. He watched impassively as Riccome was taken from the arena, badly beaten but not near to Nappa’s state. Vegeta's fist clenched with fury that it was not he who had beaten the bastard, or that his punishment was not equal to his sensei's. He would have to take his revenge against the one who stole it.

Stepping into the arena once more, Vegeta knew his chances of winning were good. His body was primed, and his power had grown immensely over the week of hard matches and trials. He would win. Saiyajin pride dictated it; honour called for it; revenge demanded it; his own will could accept nothing less. Bowing to his opponent, the judges, and, most disgustingly, to the royal box where Freeza and his father sat, he caught a flash of blue before Berta attacked.


  


The air above the ring crackled with both warriors' ki. The whole atmosphere was filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of combat while the sensations all accentuated by the roar of the crowd surrounding them. Jumping back from a mini timeout, Vegeta wiped the blood and sweat from his brow and stared across the arena floor at his bleeding panting opponent. He had one a great victory already, wiping the smirk off the kusotare's face.


Both fighters were evenly matched, a fact which much have surprised the blue skinned freak. Vegeta had struck first blood and the first real major injury with a reduced form of his Gyariku Hou, a feat that stunned the crowd. His small victories had still not won him the battle though.

The bastard was fast, and large with a reach the diminutive Saiyajin was hard pressed to counter. Relying on sneak attacks and ki strikes, Vegeta was becoming tired. Exhausted really, his energy drained from his body, but the rewards were well worth it. He could sense his opponent was near to the end as well. Berta's ribs were broken, as was his nose, or whatever equivalent his species had. Add in a dislocated shoulder and it would take only one well placed attack and his victory, the title of champion of the Cold Empire, would belong to a Saiyajin.

Letting his aura flare around him once more, declaring for all to see his intent, he glanced up once more at the royal box, wanting to see the look in Freeza's eyes when the defender of the Colds fell. He could almost laugh out at the sight. The huge form of the father sneered down at the ring with barely held contempt. The youngest son hid his emotion far better, even inclining his head to speak with a third occupant of the box. Following those ruby eyes, his own eyes went wide, while his pupils closed to the size of pebbles. His whole body shaking with confusion as the stinging taste of bile lodged in his throat.

There she was, the temptress of his nightly dreams, the unmistakable form of his woman sitting in the royal box beside his most hated enemy, the Tsiru-jin's hand caressing her cheek. Staring right into those exotic eyes, the look of utter shame shone out, the woman shaking her head as if to beg forgiveness.

He didn't know how long he stood transfixed. All noises dimmed, time stopped, the world receding until there was only her. With that one move he left an opening, a hole in his defence. He didn't even see it coming.

Time itself seemed to slow as he watched her own eyes grow large with fear, fear for him. She screamed a warning to him, her panic filled voice echoing over all others as she shouted his name. Breaking his eyes from her, he turned to see the massive wall of ki moving towards him, too close to dodge, too powerful for him to hope to block and remain standing. Before he was hit and the world went black, he heard her, and amazingly, he smiled.

She said his name.





He was in darkness, unable to feel his body, unable to feel anything. Free from all the hurt and confusion that had afflicted him before, all he had was the memory that these emotions once existed. It was bliss.

It reminded him of the first time he had felt this sort of void, after one of the most brutal training sessions with his father. His father's lessons were always more than just about fighting and physical strength. Every encounter was constructed to bring him one step closer to taking his place upon the Saiyajin throne. That one time though, he had not been good enough and he was punished severely for it. It was the first time he was sent to the regeneration tank, and for the last time, he knew complete contentment. Then he enjoyed the last lingering childish sense of peace before he began to throw off such irresponsibility and started on the road to manhood.

This time though, another emotion had crept in. Like a persistent itch or stinging gnat, it invaded his mind and temporary peace. Maybe it was madness, one of the last logical parts of his brain suggested, as the feeling turned to a low rustle. No, he realised, it was something else, something he dare not name.

Letting his mind float towards the sound, he cringed as he grew closer. The whisper turning to talking, the talking to screaming, the screaming full of pain and fear and sadness. Like a little boy he actually shook with fright at the sound, then with desperation. With the certainty of a child, he knew he must find the source of the pain and stop it.

Still surrounded by the darkness, the din had no physical manifestation for him to stop, just that pleading scream which wrapped around him like a wall of sound. He couldn't take much more of it. The stress of hearing such a terrifying wail racking at his nerves, the Prince willed the sound to stop, wishing for it to be all over. Just as quickly as it started, the scream stopped and the world around him suddenly changed.

The darkness was gone, pierced by a vision that made his blood run cold. Before him was a woman soft and lovely, a blue and white vision. Surrounding her were men of all shapes and sizes, all following the lead of one sinister beast, a black horned lizard with icy smooth skin and an almost too perfect face. All of the men were smirking, laughing and taunting the woman who trembled as she stood her ground, unsuccessfully holding back her fear. He knew her, he remembered her, and everyone else in the lewd, taunting crowd, but his mind, like his wayward memory, was suppressing the names, either by accident or for protection. He only knew that he hated the men before him, and feared the woman, and feared for her. She was alone against them and it was only a matter of time before they struck, the supposed leader making its move.

Removing himself from the wild pack, the lizard walked towards her, the thick tail swaying back and forth in some sick anticipation. The woman shuddered in disgust, the display only earning a cruel smirk and another round of jeers. Finally the creature reached her, placing one small hand on her cheek, and the woman turned and looked straight at him, right into his eyes, and screamed for help as the lizard's tail wrapped around her legs and she was thrown to the floor. Before she hit the ground they were all on her, laughing, jeering, their hands ripping at her clothes, and she was crying out for help. It was the awful cry he had heard before, full of fear, sadness and pain, only this time it was a tangible word, a phrase, a name, the sound of which made his blood run cold.




He woke up screaming into his gas mask, the Saiyajin opening his eyes so fast, the regeneration tank liquid burned his eyes, and his whole being was in chaos. Beyond the warm, blue fluid world that he was encased in, he could hear the voices of the med techs scurrying like ants around him, their voices muffled through the tank.


"His readings are off the chart. Brain activity like this isn't to be expected…didn't get in fast enough ... there might be a possibility of infection…how are we to report this to Master Freeza?" Freeza. Freeza. Damn it, Bulma.

It was some sort of trick, they were keeping him here, destroying his brain waves, torturing him, like they were torturing her. Jeice would be out on the tanks and telling his scaly master about what he saw. Maybe he had already told. Maybe it was too late.


"We'll have to up the sedative level …" No, they were not going to stop him. He had to get out of this place, he had to get back to her.

Feeling for his ki, he didn't even stop to think or reconsider, simply powered up and blew a hole through the tank's cover and flew. Not stopping even to dry himself off, the liquid evaporated as he let his aura flow around him. Flying at breakneck speed through the med centre, he soon crashed through the main doors, not stopping until he found one of the rare windows in the palace. Vegeta didn't even take in the view, just centred a ball of energy in the palm of his hand and fired, the tempered glass melting like butter under his attack and the barrier between the palace and planet was dissolved. He perceived people running beneath him, shivering with the cold, yelling out as it slowly froze their blood as he let his ki warm him as he followed his well worn path.




The lights in all the halls were being dimmed for the night when he stalked through the palace, hiding his presence from every guard and security device that the palace boasted off. The system not nearly as remarkable as his sensei or that upstart Malanga boasted. It was like a game to him first growing up to beat the security system, just for the challenge of doing it. Now it was child's play to him, but he didn't wish to gloat about this mission.

Imagine, the crown Prince of all Saiyajins, sneaking through the halls of his own palace to spy on an enemy, and possibly catch the bastard in bed with his 'mate'. It was only to catch her in a betrayal, to be rid of her and the stain she'd left on the royal house. So why was he dreading to find the truth? The woman had slept with Zarbon before, she had proven herself to be the whore they all said she was.


"Did you hear? Zarbon actually openly challenged the monkey Prince to a fight, and the little ape said no. Begged to be spared the task I heard." So the Colds were as trusting of them as the Saiyajin were of the Tsiru-jin, a pair of guards dressed in standard Cold armour broke through his contemplation. Ick, as if they would every get him into that hideous armour. Maybe he should see how well it stands up to a punch or a ki blast. Hmph, he thought to himself, they would hardly be worth such an effort even if he did do it. As hard as it was, he waited until the idiots continued their rounds. Best not to try anything that could be used as evidence of an attack.

Dropping to the ground, he continued on, his pace growing slower and softer as he neared the set of imperial rooms which had been given to the Cold delegation. He stopped outside the door and held back a gag. His senses were on overload as he heard and smelt the scene which was now making his eyes burn. Two people, one definitely Zarbon and a woman going at it very loudly, the scent of sex heavy in the air.

About to burst through the door, just to stop the horror on the other side, he caught a clear scent of the woman. It wasn't Bulma. Testing it again, he tried to sense what he could through the set of rooms, and he almost sighed in relief. Whatever whore or drunken wench Zarbon had taken, it wasn't her, but a hint of her scent was still in the room. Damn it, she couldn't have, his mind now replaying the former horror when he first heard the vulgar exhibition. She wasn't here, but she had been here or with Zarbon, his old fears creeping up his spine and hot taste of acid burnt up his throat. He had to find her now. He would not be made a fool of again.




With the icy wind to cool his rage, a portion of his sense returned and he stopped in front of a set of steel encased doors. She had at least taken his advice, he noted, through the overriding feeling of worry caused by the receding nightmare that still played in his head.

There was something more here, something he didn't understand but that everyone around him knew, and had neglected to tell him. It was why she was in that box, why Jeice had visited her, why this place even existed. He had to know but the answer was out of his grasp.

More than his desire for the truth, another stronger desire came on him. She cared for him. The sound of her voice screaming his name had not faded, nor the look of sorrow in her eyes at his pain. He had to see her again. Tomorrow he would go back to Vegetasei having failed at one mission, but he would not be fruitless in this.

Putting his palm against the cold, unrelenting steel of the door, he focussed his ki one last time, and melted a hole in the barrier large enough for him to walk through. Through one door, he encountered yet another, only this time, the lock had been broken, the door left slightly ajar. Flinging the door open, he flew inside, his aura once more blaring around him, causing the empty sitting rooms now flooded with light. Everything was silent, not a sound coming from the stately hall at the end of the corridor, or any other room he could hear. He was too late, something had happened …


"Freeza-sama?" A soft voice called out, and he stopped, searching out for the source of the noise, the energy draining from him as he beheld her. She was pressed against the far side of banister, her head and part of her face visible through the wooden balusters of the rail. He didn't pause, but blurred in front of her and growled, alerting her to his presence. At the sound, the woman relaxed infinitesimally and turned to him.


Dear Kami, what had happened to her? Her eyes looked wild with fear, the grip on the ki weapon that she carried for protection was so tight, her knuckles were white from the effort. Her face was the worst, streaked red with the evidence of her tears, the bruises Jeice had left still marring her complexion. There was more than just the Ginyu's attack at work to produce such a marked contrast in so confident a woman. She whispered Freeza's name when he first arrived, and the memory of the Tsiru-jin's hand on her cheek jarred him out of his catatonic state.


"Prince Vegeta." She whispered again. For the first time in their strange relationship she had used his name, referred to him by his true title with the proper respect of tone, just as he always promised that she would. He couldn't keep the frown from his lips, his victory as hollow as his arena defeat.


"I'm so sorry. I saw you go down in the arena, swallowed up by that ki blast. They told me that you might not make it, that you were dead." With a familiarity bred of their time together, she dropped the gun and went to him, wrapping her slim arms around his shoulders as well as she could. She was babbling mindless about thinking him dead, killed by Berta's blast and that it was all her fault. So, seeing her at the tournament wasn't a dream.

He was about to pry himself from her grip and question her. Why was she there? Why did she have such an intimate relationship with the Colds? Everything that he should have demanded after the episode with Jeice, or when he first found her home whirled through his head. At the time, he thought she was nothing more than high level courtesan, someone to beat in her own method of combat and to bed. Like the tournament, nothing seemed to go right.

Raising his arms from against his side, he easily broke her hold and grabbed hold of her chin, his expression hardening as she flinched at his touch against her cheek and stopped speaking. A thousand thoughts were going through his mind at the time. He shouldn't be here, the woman could be a danger to him; look at what she had already cost his pride. What of his sensei? Nappa-san would be getting out of the tank tomorrow morning. They would be leaving in less than twenty hours and here he was cavorting with a weakling woman. He couldn't even answer his own question, his instincts taking over his rational mind when he caught the scent of her. Just like the previous night, and following his lead from before, she leaned into him and kissed him.

It was one of those moments when only in hindsight is the truth revealed, actions clearly understood and answers given to the problems which ate at the mind. He should have just let her go, or knocked her out. He wasn't ready for the future that would be forged by this decision, but just like the first time he laid eyes on her, his reasoning wasn't worth a damn.

This time though he didn't let her go, or stop; there were no distractions or inhibitions. The sexual games they had been playing over the week came to a head and neither had sense to pull back. Before he pulled himself away to let her catch her breath, they were half way up the stairs, the top of her dress hardly covering her chest while his shirt was halfway up his torso, her hands touching every inch of his back. The skin to skin contact only intensified the situation, all sense and reason burned away by raw, primal instinct. Nipping, clawing, and grasping at one another, they inched their way towards her bedroom.

The next thing that burned through his mind was the feeling of cool linen sheets against his hot skin when they finally discarded their clothes. The two attacked each other as the emotions of the past few days boiling over into this need to feel alive and to give it in return.

It was all a mad rush then, both of them grabbing hold of each other until there was nothing left, no division between his body and her own. By the First, she was all around him, inundating his senses. His ears were filled with the soft whispered moans of her voice as she crooned and arched against him. Even with all of those royal concubines, with the innumerable techniques they possessed to please a man, he never felt like this. He was awake, alive, invincible, until one of those delicate, calculating hands touched his tail. He reared and bucked above her. Half crazed, his perceptions blurred into one as the sweet metallic mix of her blood touched his tongue and flooded his mouth…


He claimed her then with the traditional mating bite and himself, thrusting into her, toppling the last physical barrier between them. It continued well into the night, sometimes hurried and desperate, others slow, one whispering to the other what they wanted. Soaked in sweat, his nose filled with her scent, his body and mind sated in a way he had never experienced, he slept and had no dreams.


  


For the first time in his life, he woke up in the arms of another person. Filled with a sense of utter peace so strong, he actually smiled at the simple pleasure of the distant rays of the Tsiru-sei sun touching his skin. Well that and the warm, drowsing body of the naked woman pressed against him. Poor little human, he had worn her out.

Watching her breasts rise and fall beneath the sheet, he wondered what would he do with her now. The issue of what he wanted with her before he left was resolved after last night, but an even more pressing one presented itself. Now that he had her, he still wanted her.

The lingering scent of last night was imprinted on her, and it wasn't long before he was touching her. His hand glided up and down her back until he was rewarded with a low moan of approval. Cracking open her eyes, she soon shut them tight, the rays of the sun causing pain to her sensitised eyes and she snuggled even closer to him, burying her head into his shoulder.

"Good morning." He chuckled, the innocence of the scene amusing him in this state of blissful calm he now found himself in. Taking in the scent of her hair, he started to feel himself react again to her.

Propping herself up against his chest, he was greeted with a beautiful sleepy smile, winsome without an ounce of regret.


"Good morning." She sighed back, leaning into him until their lips met. The two battled for a moment before she broke off for air, and he parted away her hair to start on her neck. Cooing softly as he went lower, she finally moaned loudly when he reached the crook of her neck, the sudden sound causing him to open his eyes and break away from his reverie. Lifting away, he caught her gasp of disappointment but it fell on deaf ears as his own eyes went wide with shock. There on her neck was a set of red teeth marks marring her skin. He was not in his right mind last night, his control weakened by lust and frustration, and then when she grabbed his tail... .

A painful dose of reality hit him then. He wondered what he would do with her, now he had found his answer, albeit by the most unusual means. His conscious reminded him of what this move must have cost him. Marrying an alien, someone with no measurable ki at all could destroy him. It was his duty to produce an heir…. He couldn't even finish his thought as the woman he had left neglected deciding at last to take matters into her own hands, kissing and biting at his neck while her hands buried themselves in his hair. Feral wench, he gasped to himself, knowing he should fight against it, but why? He had made his decision last night to claim her and no amount of denial would reverse what had been done.

Already he was warming to the idea. She was stubborn and headstrong enough to amuse him, though that defiant streak was something he would have to work on. She was also well-versed in the etiquette and graces of court, intelligent, and, as his arms wrapped around her, she aroused him to no end.

But what of royal purity, the last conscience part of his mind growled at him. What of his honour? His pride? Marrying so below his station and an alien as well, it could cost him is title, his dignity, or worse, his father's trust. Like the night before she silenced him with nothing more than her fingers playing through the soft fur of his tail.

To hell with it. He was the Prince. He would prove himself worthy of his birthright, his honour and dignity lay in following his choice. Tradition demanded that he take her as mate, and no Saiyajin, either the lowest born off-worlders or the King himself could reverse that, or take away the name and future he won seventeen years ago. He was the Prince, the heir apparent, the next King and possibly the next Super Saiyajin. His word would be law, he declared, and the whole issue dropped from his mind.


Before she could say a word, he had her pinned to the bed and continued where he had left off when he had discovered the scar. Groaning beneath him, she had kept hold of his tail, petting and stroking it to the point where he was panting above her, ready to thrust into her. About to reaffirm the mating bite on her neck, he cursed when a light knock on the door interrupted them.

Damn that little wench, he growled, as the door squeaked in protest at being moved. The young servant girl's back appeared, no doubt embarrassed by the obvious sounds they had been making.


"Mistress, I hate to disturb you, but there is a visitor for the gentleman, a very large, bald-headed visitor. He demands to speak with his highness immediately."

"Tell that inconsiderate bastard that he could have waited half an hour, but I will down shortly." Vegeta growled, the maid eeping in fright at the task of speaking with such impertinent to a man as intimidating as Nappa. Imagining the look on both faces, the Prince actually laughed out, returning his gaze to the woman beneath him.


"Aren't you going to see him? What if it is something important? Do you think nothing of your own empire?" She was acting like a Queen already, thinking about her subjects. She should be thinking about him as he reminded her the state he had been in before the ill-timed messenger.


"Nappa can wait but I can’t. I'm not finished with you yet, woman."

He was hard pressed afterwards to pull away. He had tried to make it as quick as possible, doubting there would be much left of the girl when he finally left the woman's bed. Extracting himself from her arms, he brushed away the soft strands of hair that clung to her forehead. He watched her pleasure glazed eyes as he waited for her breathing to return to normal, smirking at the sight she made. It wasn’t long before his sense of duty called as Vegeta walked into her bathroom, grabbing up the pieces of his battle suit as he went. Washing quickly, he dried himself with his ki before heading out. She had finally calmed her breathing when he told her to get up off her lazy butt and shower, adding a jab about making herself look presentable if she could. He couldn’t keep back the chuckle when his sensitive ears picked up a few choice swear words.


"I expect you down here in ten minutes, or I'll get you myself, no matter what state of dress you are in. I will not be made to wait to present my mate." He called out, the last part hardly spoken above a whisper. Dodging one of the many hairbrushes on her dresser, he just laughed at her attempt and joined Nappa in the kitchen for some much needed food.


Walking triumphantly into the hastily repaired dining hall, his own recovered sensei bowed then glaring at the young servant girl to do the same. The poor wench turned an even paler shade of green.


"So you've recovered at last, Nappa. If it is not too much of a burden to yourself and our entourage, I will like to remain on Tsiru-sei for another five hours more."


"As you wish, Prince Vegeta, but why would you want to stay any longer than is necessary?"


"Why, Nappa-san? To fetch my wife."


  


He found her in the royal gardens, seating on a rock while she stared into the starlit sky; in his own personal meditation place, how dare she violate his personal space.

The day before their mating ceremony she had found it. How she chose it, or even had the dexterity to climb over the natural stone barrier he didn't know. He had walked in on her as she stared at the sky, her face filled with happiness, the last time he ever saw it like that. She had asked him what the ceremony would be like and if he could take her back here when they were official joined, the glint in her eyes betraying her thoughts. The same mischievous glint was in her eye when she asked if she could swim in the pool, silently inviting him to join her. He had icily replied that carnivorous fish lived in the waters and that if she wanted to be fish food it was her own choice. There were times he wished he had thrown her in and spared himself this mockery.


Time had not healed the rift between them. He still remembered when he discovered his bite mark on her neck, the traditional mark of marriage for the Saiyajins. He had been happy and careless, and he let all of it show as she had played him for a fool. How she must have enjoyed the way he had become enamoured with her, even to the point of laying the throne of the Saiyajin Empire and its greatest son before her feet. All the time he had acted like a love struck boy, she had known. No wonder she had played him so well, it was her speciality. Jeice's words still haunted him, the warning that came too late, proclaiming her as nothing but a whore, which she proved tonight.

Watching her like a predator, he followed her as she got up and left the secluded spot, wandering back towards the palace. Creeping closer to her, he caught her smell. Even after everything between them, it still had the power to make him shiver; or it would have, if it weren't for the two other scents that lingered on her. Mixed with her potent fragrance was the sharp stink of hard Saiyajin spirits and Freeza's pet Changling.

So preoccupied with his discovery of the hard truth, he grew careless with his tracking. A small dried twig snapped under his foot and the woman screamed and jumped as he laughed at the sheer absurdity of her actions. He was still chuckling when she turned to him, her own eyes enraged while her shoulders drooped with exhausted and despair. He mentally stiffened at the sight of her; this was not the image of a woman after a passionate meeting with their lover.

He could help but growl low in his throat at the fire in her eyes. No matter what the situation was between them, there was something about the challenge of her mind which appealed to him. It amazed him how she would rise to his challenges but now, she looked on the edge of collapse, ready to admit defeat. All pity was pushed aside as he reminded himself who she was and what she had probably done earlier this night, in the arms of one of his worst enemies.

Making some flippant remark, he watched her bat him away like he was nothing but a pest.


"Forgive me, 'oh sainted Prince', if I care not to banter with you this evening, for a find your company as engaging as a wad of gum." With that she turned from him, declaring all communication between them to be over. Oh no, it would not be that easy.


  


After dropping that bomb shell in Nappa's lap, he dismissed the Commander with nothing more than a wave of his hand. Before Nappa left, Vegeta told him not to worry about another chamber for the journey and be there at the ship to pledge allegiance to his future Queen. As transparent as the giant was, he held back on the millions of questions that were no doubt whirling through his mind, he could not keep one down.


"Sire, are you positive? Is she even worthy of you?"


"Oh yes, Nappa-san, she is. I have no choice anyway. She has my mark, and honour declares that she is mine." The elder warrior's eyes grew round at the announcement, realising the severity of the situation and the futility of continuing to question Vegeta's choice. Choice had nothing to do with it, this was a matter of principle.

Swallowing that fact, Nappa simply bowed and left the Prince, ensuring that the transport would be ready five hours from now. Good, he would need that time to inform his wife that they were leaving and convince her that it was her only option. He didn't have to wait long.

A few moments later she descended the stairs in a simple pair of slacks and a sweater, the sight of her in casual clothes almost surprised him, though the sight wasn't wholly unappealing. It was nice to know she had a practice side.

Meeting her at the bottom of the stairs, he grabbed her about the waist and kissed her, smirking as she melted against him.


"Hey, what about your friend? Was anything wrong?"


"Hmph," he replied, smirking at her. "Nappa is my subordinate, not my friend, and don't worry about him. You will meet him soon enough. You should be worrying about yourself. I've given you five hours to get ready, but if you are like any other woman I've encountered, you'll never be ready in time."


"Ready for what?"


"I'm taking you back with me to Vegetasei. You are my mate, woman, and I will not tolerate my mate living on Cold soil. You have five hours to pack and get your affairs in order before we leave, but know that you will be on that flight, even if I have to carry you on." Three … two … one.


"WHAT! What are you talking about … ?" Ten minutes later he had finally calmed her enough to explain, going over in detail what the scar on her neck meant. Her hand grazed it as he talked, her eyes going wide with disbelief. Through his whole explanation she was silent, either too stunned to speak, or she was hoping he would provide the answers to all of her questions. Waiting for the inevitable backlash when he finished, instead she seemed to pause, her mind almost working in slow motion.


"But I haven't agreed to anything. You expect me to leave my home, everything that I've worked for?" He stopped her there, not willing to hear her refusal.


"You have no choice. It is not some question or request, we are united by blood. Once the mating mark is forged, it cannot be broken. If you wish for a choice then tell me, woman, will you stay here or will you come to Vegetasei to be my mate?" She seemed to pause at that, glancing over the walls of her home with happy remembrance before her eyes welled up with shame. The look was soon gone and she stared at him with a solemn expression on her face.


"Once forged we will always be joined: true equals; companions; lovers?" Grunting at the word ‘equals’, he nevertheless nodded in agreement, and smirked as a beautiful smile spread over her face.


"Then the answer is yes."


  


That she dismissed him with no more than a wave of her hand made him burn with rage. How dare she throw him off when she had the audacity to have sex with Zarbon. The way she had clung to him in the grand hall, the smell of the bastard on her clothes; did she really think he didn’t know? The discovery of her infidelity as sickening now as it was when he had first learned of her true past.

"No, since you decided to rendezvous with a thing so vile and repugnant that he is only matched by the abomination that he serves. You’re slipping, bitch. Any Saiyajin within a metre of you could smell him on you, and ushtey bea. You would dare to breach the vows of honour that you swore to at our joining? You would dare give yourself like a common whore to him?"


"And what about you? You don’t give a shit whether I live or die, but the very sight of impropriety is enough for you to have a concern? I have not breached our blessed 'vows' since that day. I have honoured you as a husband but I cannot say the same for you. You certainly see it fit to enjoy the harem, I didn't know you like fucking the walking dead. Tell me, Vegeta, what first made you hate me? Was it that I was an agent of the Cold Empire, or that I used to screw Zarbon?"

He was ready to rip into her. To do such a deed was one thing, to deny it was another. Did she think he was an idiot? She could not possibly think he was still so bewitched with her that he would believe her, or that he could be so easily blinded by a simple smokescreen? She was the viper tongued whore of the Tsiru-jin court, a woman who sold out her own people, who built machines that the Cold empire used to wipe out whole planets. The accusations were poised at his lips, the ones that had burned through him the moment he heard her numerous sins, but she beat him.

Levelling those huge, bottomless eyes at him, she sighed and took the one approach he despised the most, bringing up his past mistake.


  

Five hours later he was waiting on the landing dock, his ki blaring around him to keep back the chill and ward off the sudden fear that overtook him. She wasn’t going to show. She changed her mind and left him here like a fool.

For every minute that he waited, his patience grew shorter, his anger grew stronger, and his mind was wracked with uncertainty. The waiting and the worry only made him rethink the scene he made that morning, actually asking her to become his mate. After he left her with nothing more than a chaste kiss and the time and location of their departure, he had looked after the other errands, the most agonising giving his respect to the Colds.

There was a great degree of arrogance within the Tsiru-jin court. His horrible loss still played on everyone's mind, hinted at constantly by the royal patriarch. Holding back his own contempt, he asked after the health of his victorious opponent, and couldn't keep back his own smirk as he learned that Berta was still in the tanks and would remain there for the whole day. His encounter with the youngest son though, left an icy hole in his gut.


"I hear, Vegeta, that you have recently become enamoured with a young woman of the Capital, a Mistress Bulma Briefs. Very beautiful I am told, if you like mammals. I have even heard a rumour that you are taking her back to Vegetasei with you." Freeza remarked, that unnaturally high cruel voice echoing through the halls of the Tsiru-jin court. The smirk he had worn since learning of Berta's fate turned quickly to a scowl.

How did the bastard know, and most importantly, what did it mean?


"I wish you much success then, Saiyajin no Ouji. May she be your Crown Jewel." Freeza continued, chuckling at the very last. Again, Vegeta kept his peace, only wishing to get as far away from the depraved pit of vipers as he could.


As he kept his vigil for her Nappa had remained by his side, thankfully keeping quiet. In the twenty minutes since his deadline the bigger warrior had only opening his mouth to remind Vegeta of the time and to speak about the lack woman had for telling it. At the point of taking his frustrations off on his hapless noble attendant, he heard his name being called over the howling winds. There she was, bundled up against the icy cold, running towards him and Nappa. Smirking at the sight of her, he was about to order Nappa into the ship to wait, but instead greeted with the most contemptuous snarl from his old sensei.


"Nappa, you would dare show such insolence to my mate." He murmured, the bald giant becoming silent and as pale as Freeza himself. About to ask him if he had seen a ghost, he ignored the older warrior for the young woman now nearly within arm's distance. Not wishing to show any sign of affection in front of Nappa, he instead grabbed the woman by her arm and led her in front of the other Saiyajin.

At the sight of him, Bulma paled as well, Vegeta's own eyes going wide, then narrowing suspiciously. He didn't have time for such nonsense. Nodding to his sensei, he watched as the man dropped to one knee and growled out the oath of loyalty to his new mate, annoyed with Nappa’s poor recitation.

It wasn't long before he got all of the Saiyajins on board to give such an oath, most giving it proudly, though with a measure of reserve to an alien woman. Already she was winning admirers. Only Naret and Potherb showed the same reaction as Nappa, but he gave it no mind as he led her into his chamber and left to ensure a successful takeoff.


  


She was in fine form tonight. Pulling out all the tricks, she ran the gambit, from reasoning with his better nature to letting those haunting eyes of hers fill with tears. Loathed as he was to admit it, a part of it was working on him. As much as he hated her for the fool she played him for, he was still guilty of every accusation she threw at his feet. For a moment, he let through a bit of the regret he refused to acknowledge come through, and it was enough to make her tell him the truth, one that Parnis had hinted at but never totally considered.

So they were smart enough to realise that there was more than just individual movements, or even one simple unified resistance. Somewhere they had slipped up and a trace of the conspiracy broke through, more than that, they believed it centred in the Saiyajin Empire.

Even with her confession, Vegeta knew she was keeping something back. Zarbon would not have come all this way just to inform a former traitor of a capture, and the cornered desperate air about her confirmed his suspicions. She seemed on edge, tense, and obviously afraid if she were willing to confide anything in him, unless ... unless it was a rouse. Zarbon was using his last card to keep himself alive, using her to find the answers the entire Cold intelligence and military machine could not. The ironies were so great, it took all his control not to laugh out, the very spy they obtained to flush out the resistance leader was at this moment revealing the whole scheme to the man she was told to find.

Keeping his voice as level and disinterested as possible, he began to quote off the utter impossibility with her request, taking a few digs into the rebel cause as he could to draw her away from the scent. It worked even better than he had dreamed. The woman worked herself into a fine rage, damning him, putting out lies about her now rediscovered loyalty to her planet, questioning his honour, bringing up her former lovers.

The two together made him snap. It was bad enough she stood there before him with Zarbon's scent on her body, but to speak so openly of yet another old lover; did she think he could ever forget what she once was?


  

Vegeta breathed a great deal easier once they slipped past the gravitational pull of Tsiru-sei and they were on a course back to the security and warmth of Vegetasei. At their current speed, they were two days from his home soil, but this time with a new addition.

Once the course had been laid in and the skip shifted to warp, he walked with as much dignity as he could muster back towards his quarters and to the woman who would be no doubt waiting for him. Licking his lips, he smirked at the memory of the night before, thinking with great delight what they soon could be engaged in when he reached his room. He never made it to his chamber door, never even to the hall. Before he could make it to the residential level, he found his sensei waiting for him by the main elevator.

Before he could demand an explanation, or brush him aside, Nappa began to speak. Saying he couldn't keep silent any longer, his old trainer proceeded to tell the Prince the truth about his new mate. Trembling in annoyance at being kept from her, he was soon stock still as the truth he had ignored was finally revealed.

He continued to listen to Nappa's tale, disbelieving at first but the farther along he went, the more the missing pieces fit together. He held back the bile in his throat as the weight of his actions crashed down on him. At some level afterwards he just shut off. He stopped feeling, thinking, just the thought of going to his room and facing her again brought him to a rage. He didn't return to her that night, the chamber and its occupant dead to him from that moment on.


"I first saw her at the opening banquet for the tournament, seated at the main table with the Cold family, wining and speaking with the greatest familiarity to the whole clan, especially Freeza. It wasn't long before they presented her, like some great prise. That is she is, sire, one of the great prises of the Cold Empire.

"In her short time under their power, she had become the Mistress of one of Freeza's favourites, Zarbon, and in due time the chief engineer of their imperial fleet. As unbelievable at it may be, your highness, that pale weakling help create some of the fastest and stealthiest ships in this galaxy. If the other rumours I heard are true, she was the inventor of the pulse heat cannon and the artificial ki simulator ray. Amazing though it is, that weak female has destroyed fourteen planets with her machines.

"They say she sold her way into the Empire at the cost of her own planet, her father's blood, and one of the reigning royal families to win their good graces. That is not all, Ouji-sama and I cannot allow you to continue in ignorance of her past. She is a danger to us, her loyalty to the Colds runs deeper still. After so sickening a tale as that, I was finally told the worst.

"She was, at the time of your mating and has been for nearly a year, the greatest ambassador for the Colds. She became a diplomatic lure with such success that they bestowed upon her the title of the Crown Jewel of the Cold Empire. It is a moniker she ‘earned’ for her worth to them as a symbol of their triumphant Empire, and to honour the beauty they said could snare any man. I even heard that Zarbon presented her as a prise to the Colds in the hopes of winning back their good graces after his defeats in the border region. It must have been a great success, he was given an even higher post for his gift. Freeza himself was particularly enamoured with her, it was thought that within the last few months that they had become lovers…"


  

She walked away from him after saying her peace, telling him that she wished to warn him that Zarbon was lurking about in search of anything that might be used against them. About to throw another insult after her, she beat him to the punch as she turned back to him. His blood ran cold with her words, her vowed hatred of him, a hatred as deep as Vegeta's was for Freeza.

He did nothing but watch her go, taking in her beauty with a blind-eye to her past and he shivered with repressed passion. The feeling of her skin against his plagued him to this day. Even if he had known of her past, he would still have done it, he admitted to himself, she aroused him more than anyone else.

Taken in by the soft sway of her body, even the padding of her bare feet upon the dew soaked grass, he wished that the circumstances could have been different. If time could be reversed and lives relived, there could have been a way, but ifs and maybes would not change the past or the present. Fate dealt each person a hand, and cruel as it was, there was no way back.

He didn't know how long he waited there, just staring at her foot prints stamped into the grass. The chirps of night creepers filled the cool evening air as he wracked his brain over this new turn. Deciding what to do now, his mind was beset with feelings of anger, disgust, confusion, and regret.


  


Never in his life had he felt such shame at the thought of a home coming. The defeat he suffered in the tournament was insignificant to the sickening thought of presenting his new bride to his father, explaining who she was, and why she was now his mate.

Leading the woman off the ship, he observed several of his father's council growling at the sight of her, particularly when he brought her before his father and revealed the bite mark upon her neck. The air at that moment was so tense, it could be cut with a knife. The woman next to him trembled, her eyes wide with fear at the sight of the imposing Saiyajins that circled around them, trying to get a look at her. Excusing the two of them, he fetched a servant to show her to her quarters, maintaining his distance from her as he had since learning of her past.

Before long he was in a receiving room answering for his transgression. Like a young child with a guilty disposition, he went to greet his sire, Nappa by his side to relate the true identity of the woman, the words still sticking in his throat. So he had found the woman after all, he realised, and gave her what none of the men she'd had relations with could: legitimacy.

His father took the news as well as could be expected, listening in silence. Unlike his own stunned muteness, the King's silence was borne of rage, not shock. Bidding Nappa to leave, his father rounded on him and asked the question that Nappa couldn't.


"What were you thinking, boy? Do you have any idea what you have done? It is bad enough that you take an alien woman as a bride, but Freeza's whore! A known traitor!" He stopped in his diatribe and glared at his son, but Vegeta held his ground. His father had not asked him anything that he had not wrestled with in the last two days.


"Tell me this, boy, have you truly bitten her? An affair can simply be washed away if it was that." Vegeta hung his head then. The sweet metallic taste of her blood still in his mouth and that night and the morning after were burnt onto his memory. He couldn't deny his claim, it would be to deny his honour itself.


"Then you have a choice to make, Vegeta. You have taken the woman as mate, bitten her in the warrior's tradition of claiming. Tomorrow we will have the official ceremony where you will claim your mate again before the court and the people. Choose wisely which is more important to you, the loyalty of your people and the honour of the Saiyajin race, or your personal honour and the affections of some talented whore."


The next day he went through the motions of the ancient ceremony, most of which had been discarded due to the frailty of his new mate. His new mate, the phrase still burned through him with shame. She could have been anyone now, his mind so desensitises itself to the reality he was now facing, preparing to make the move that would save himself in the eyes of his people.

Before the waiting hateful crowd, he grabbed hold of her by her delicate shoulders, pressing her soft, warm body against his own. All lustful and lighter thoughts were gone now, only his duty remained. For his people and his honour, there was only thing he could do.

Gathering up her silky hair, he held it to the side and performed the mating bite again, cradling her against him when she whimpered and gasped at the sudden pain. Warm sweet blood flooded his mouth, the binding symbol of their union. Releasing her from his grip, he spit out her blood like it was poison to his mouth. The action and the deeper symbolism was known to every Saiyajin in attendance, and the crowd cheered him and mocked her. Looking over at her, she almost seemed to smile through her pain, not realising what he had done. She wouldn't until that night, when she found him in the harem.


  

It was lying in a crumbled pile upon her dresser, the ink smudged with sweat but the writing clearly legible and the intent of the note clear. How sweet, he still called her by a pet name. The rest of the message though really caught his attention. Yamcha, the name of the rebel leader on Chikyuu, well one of them. He was once her lover as well, maybe it was a power thing with her?

So then it was true, and would explain a great many things: why Zarbon had come, the communications shut down, and how they were using his own 'mate' to trap him. This was too good, he thought. They must be getting desperate now, calling upon her to hunt down the leaders of the conspiracy. He knew Cawliefe would have to informed of this development but he was definitely going to hold the little tidbit about his ‘wife’ back.

Dropping the note to its original spot on the dresser, he walked over to the bed and its sleeping occupant. Pulling back the covers, he watched the rise and fall of her body with every breath she took. Against his better judgement, he allowed himself to appreciate the view. She was quite a prise, and quite a hunter he was told. She had betrayed and damned her own planet and now she was going to attempt to hunt him. Bending over her, he let his own lips graze the faded mark on her neck, smirking as she moaned in her sleep. Oh yes, it was going to be a good hunt.

* * * * *


Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 3