[ Contents | Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 ]

Deceiver's Legacy

Part I. Naranja


Chapter 1

"Die, Kakarott!" A bolt of energy flashed across the field to hit square on and send its target tumbling head over heels until he bounced against a massive, wire-festooned block of machinery. The machine shuddered under the impact, and someone started yelling in the distance.

"Ow!" Goten said, rubbing his head, sending his spiky black hair into hopeless disarray. "Not so hard; I just learned how to block those things yesterday!"

Trunks looked over his cupped hands at the younger boy, blinking; his blue eyes were still dazzled from the blast he'd thrown. "Oops! Sorry; I guess I got too excited! You looked like you were catching it..." he said petulantly.

Goten stood up and brushed his pants off. "I did, but then I dropped it and it knocked me over. I need more practice," he said.

"Okay! Hyaaaaii!" Trunks hurled another small ki-blast at Goten.

Goten's eyes widened in surprise, and he quickly ducked. The blast shrieked past him to hit the machine and explode, sending metal shrapnel flying. A massive slab of metal screamed past Goten's head, missing him by inches; the blast sent him tumbling head over heels.

Quickly orienting himself, the young half-Saiyan spun toward a startled Trunks. "Hey! I meant I needed to practice with Gohan and Dad more, you big dummy!"

The purple-haired boy glared at him, both fists clenched. "Why didn't you tell me that? Now I'll get it for blowing up one of Grandpa's experiments! If you could block my attacks, that wouldn't have happened! I'm in trouble, and it's all your fault!"

Goten glared back at him, chin stuck forward. "Is not! I didn't try to blast me, you did!"

"Hey, you knew I was going to do it--that's why you ducked!" Intent on their argument, neither of the boys noticed the angry figure approaching.

"TRUNKS! GOTEN! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT FIGHTING AT HOME??" Bulma demanded, eyes blazing with fury. Dr. Briefs stood behind her, looking somewhat singed and unhappy; the small black kitten on his shoulder was standing up with its back arched and its fur stood on end.

"Uh-oh," said Goten. "Nan Bulma's mad!"

"Oops! Uh, we were just playing and it was an accident?" Trunks smiled sheepishly, raising his arms helplessly.

Bulma looked skeptical.

"He's 'Geta and I'm 'Karrot," Goten explained helpfully.

Trunks winced; they were doomed.

"I see," said Bulma, eyes narrowing. Trunks was right.

Engrossed with the matter at hand, none of them noticed the small fireball streak overhead.

* * *

Nezumi dropped the stack of manuals onto her desk with a thump. She reached for the top one with one hand, pushing her brown hair back out of her eyes with the other. It was time to get her hair cut, she thought--like I have time to go to the salon these days! I can't believe how much work Kidoru had piled up!

No one had much cared about office computer security--until VirtualBlack broke into Raditz's computer and stole Bulma's files. Then everything had happened at once, and when it was all over, Raditz was in charge of corporate security... and remembered just how much embarassment VirtualBlack's little break-in had caused him. (The iron bar Bulma laid alongside his head may have sharpened his memory on that particular matter). The big man knew next to nothing about computers or computer security, but he did know how to hire someone who did and have him teach Raditz's people how to handle it. Since Nezumi was the only one in the security office who actually liked tinkering with computers, she soon found herself in charge of computer security.

The short, brown-haired woman stared blankly at the first page of the system manual, not really seeing it. Hiregumi-san would never have given me this job, she thought. He was a dear, sweet, wise man, but he never believed that a woman could supervise men in this kind of work. Raditz is so different that way--he honestly doesn't seem to know that some kind of jobs have always been men's work. Comes from being an alien, I guess...

I wish he wasn't so alien when it came to me, though. Does he care about me, or not? I can't figure him out. After the earthquake and the demon, I thought that he did--but now he's always so professional toward me. It's like he doesn't want me to get too close to him, or him to me--but why? I don't understand!

Nezumi frowned and put the manual down, unable to concentrate. She rubbed her eyes. About that time Raditz walked by Nezumi's office and stopped just outside the door.

"Nezumi! Bulma wants to brief us right now on the security of Dr. Brief's latest project--something about accidental trespassers." He sounded both annoyed and bored.

Nezumi glanced up at Raditz, a pert smile on her face. All that greeted her was an impatient scowl. She sighed very quietly and put the manual down, rising to her feet at the same time.

"On my way, chief!"

* * *

A little bit later, Raditz stood with his arms folded and his face expressionless as Bulma explained her father's latest project. His tail was curled loosely around the waist of his dark jeans; the tip twitched restlessly as he listened. Nezumi stood quietly beside him, jotting notes down on her handcomp.

Trunks and Goten sat in opposite corners of the room, facing the wall; their huddled shoulders suggested extreme embarassment. What had they done this time? Raditz switched his attention back to Bulma.

"...anyway, while he's testing the new field generator, make sure no one wanders across the field--especially," Bulma paused to glare at the two children, "little brats! Dad's not sure how far the effects extend, but better to be safe than sorry," Bulma concluded, irritatedly pushing a stray wisp of blue hair out of her face.

Raditz thought that she must have been working very hard indeed on Dr. Brief's latest invention for her hair to get out of control like that. The only other time he'd seen Bulma the least bit disheveled was during the big earthquake...

Memories of blue hair tickling his nose, her warm body pressed against his chest as sobs shook her body, his own shock at how much he desired this fragile, human woman...

No! Raditz firmly shoved the memories away. There was no future in such thoughts. He kept his face impassive, unaware that his long tail had uncurled and was switching slowly from side to side underneath the cover of his knee-length hair.

"Hmmph!" Vegeta snorted, straightening up from his usual lean against the wall. "If anyone is fool enough to wander through one of Brief's experiments, they deserve what happens to them." In spite of his callous words, he, too, glared at the children.

Vegeta brushed a hand across Bulma's shoulder, letting his fingertips linger possessively on the curve of her arm for just a moment. No, reflected Raditz, no future at all.

Bulma rolled her eyes in disgust. "Maybe on Vegetasei, but that's not the way we do things here, Vegeta! Raditz seems to understand that, even if you don't." Bulma looked anxiously at the long-haired Saiyan. "Right, Raditz?"

Raditz smirked very slightly and shrugged. "Not really, but I know what you want done. It'll be taken care of." He fought back the urge to salute Bulma Saiyan-fashion, nodded, and left, never noticing Nezumi's narrowed eyes as he once again wrapped his tail tightly around his waist.

Behind him, Raditz could hear Bulma complaining to Vegeta, "Why do I have to explain why we do things this way to you all the time? Why can't you just accept it, like Raditz?"

Raditz knew what Vegeta's answer would be before he heard it: "Woman, Raditz 'accepts' it, as you put it, because he is a warrior and knows his duty is to follow orders without question. I am the Prince of all Saiyans, woman--I do not follow orders, I give them."

Is that so, Prince Vegeta? Raditz savored the irony of his current position. Death freed me from all oaths to you, Vegeta, but I freely chose to make one new one; I promised to protect Bulma until you returned. You've forgotten that. I wonder when you'll realize that I obey no one?

* * *

"I don't believe it!" Nezumi muttered as she stapled the "DANGER -- AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" signs to the posts near the roped-off area of tarmac. She slammed the power stapler into the sign as if it were a hammer, scowling furiously all the while.

I can't believe he's looking at Ms. Bulma that way! Nezumi thought to herself. I saw the way his tail was twitching--it was the same way it did when I gave him popcorn that night. I couldn't see his eyes today, but I bet he was looking at her the same way he was looking at me that night! I can't believe Raditz is that much of a jerk! Vegeta isn't exactly blind--but then, he puts up with Yamucha hanging around when he's got to know that Yamucha is Bulma's ex, so maybe he doesn't care as long as Bulma doesn't. Still, Raditz shouldn't be looking at Bulma that way--it isn't right!

Well, that explains why he's so indifferent to me--he's thinking about Bulma all the time! Nezumi furiously stapled the last sign to its post. So, she asked herself, just what are you going to do about it, girl? Try harder to attract his attention, or give up on him? That student of Yamucha's, Saisei, is awfully cute... and he isn't the only other guy in the universe. And why do I bother worrying about men anyway? It isn't like I really need them!

Nezumi sighed as she walked back to the maintenance shed and put her tools away. Saisei is really, adorably cute... but he isn't Raditz. She closed her eyes, remembering the warm, comforting strength of Raditz's arms as he carried her across the city, high above the terror and ruin of the earthquake.

It would be nice not to be alone, to have someone care about me and only me in that special way.


Nezumi looked down, suddenly distracted from her thoughts of Raditz. A small, gray kitten peeked out at her from behind the shed.

"Oh, my!" She crouched down to look the little kitten in the eye. It was scrawny, and dirty and looked up at her with big, hopeful eyes. "You're hungry, aren't you?" She picked up the kitten and cuddled it. "Let's see if we can find you something to eat."

* * *

Lina shook her head as Nezumi entered the office carrying the gray kitten. "Found another stray?"

Nezumi nodded. "Poor thing, it's all skin and bones. Do we still have some cream in the refrigerator?"

"Yeah, I think so. 'Zumi, there's got to be hundreds of strays living under the factory building. You can't take them all home!" Lina said with the mildest hint of exasperation; she was used to Nezumi bringing home stray kittens and lost puppies and injured birds.

Nezumi frowned at Lina. "Well, I'm not bringing them all home--just the ones that I find that need help. Anyway, I don't want to take this little fellow away from his home and family; I'll just feed him outside the back door."

"You're just turning him into a beggar, 'Zumi. The factory cats hunt rats and mice; if you feed him, he won't hunt for a living and he'll starve when you aren't here," Lina argued weakly.

"Lina! Take a look at him." Nezumi held the gray kitten out for Lina to look at. "He's barely bigger than a mouse, himself! Are you really expecting this little fellow to hunt for himself already?"

"Okay, okay! Just don't expect me to feed him, and if you bring him home, you clean up his messes!" Lina surrendered.

The outside door screeched as Raditz shoved it open and entered. He glanced at the two women and the current object of their attention. "Eating in again?"

"RADITZ!" Lina and Nezumi screamed as one. Nezumi held the kitten close to her, one hand sheltering it protectively as she glared indignantly at the big Saiyan.

Raditz smirked with amusement and disappeared into his office.

Lina and Nezumi stared at each other. "I think he was joking," Lina said, finally breaking the silence.

"I hope you're right; sometimes I'm not so sure. Here, hold the little furball for me; I'm going to make a batch of popcorn--just in case."

* * *

Raditz glanced up from the book he was reading (he was still working his way through World History) when Nezumi brought in a big bowl of fresh popcorn. He'd heard it popping, and the smell of it already tantalized his nostrils and set his mouth to watering.

He smirked. "I wasn't going to eat the creature, you know." Raditz still wasn't certain what the connection between the two women and numerous young animals was, but he was pretty sure they weren't meant for food. Not since the first time, when he had asked in all seriousness if they were planning on cooking the puppy for lunch, or if it was one of those foods eaten raw, like sushi. He winced at the memory of the abuse his highly sensitive Saiyan ears had endured.

Nezumi made a tiny shrug. "Well, you looked like you might be hungry, and I was going by the microwave anyway..." She bowed her head, apparently looking at the popcorn, letting the short, brown hair framing her round face fall forward, half-obscuring her eyes. Raditz could see the glint of her eyes as she watched him from behind her wayward bangs.

Raditz glanced down at the popcorn, momentarily at a loss. If she were another Saiyan, it would be up to him now to respond to her attempts to court him--but Nezumi was human. She couldn't possibly know the customs--but that look in her eye! She was trying to catch his interest--or was he imagining it, seeing what he wanted to see whether it was really there or not?

And why would she being trying to get his attention here and now? Human custom seemed to frown on romances between workers, or between superior and subordinate--but where did they meet each other, then? Besides, half of Capsule Corporation seemed to be married to each other; the wives who worked outside the home all seemed to work for the same master as their husbands. Raditz couldn't follow the subtleties--Kidoru had been roundly despised for his former attempts to seduce his subordinates, but ever since he arrived, Raditz could have sworn the same two women were trying to seduce him!

Raditz retreated into professionalism. "Thank you... Miss O'Neil." Raditz looked up at her, the smirk gone, his face impassive.

Her eyes widened, and Raditz thought he saw a brief tremor cross her lip, and then she straightened up. "You're welcome... sir." Her face as impassive as his, she turned on her heel and left his office, closing the door behind her. She pushed it perhaps harder than she intended, because it slammed shut with a loud "bang!" that echoed through the building.

Crud! I think I caught that signal, Raditz thought. She was interested, she's been dropping hints for weeks, and I didn't quite tell her to get lost. Why can't I ever say the right thing? First Kakarott, now her--I have a talent for pissing off people I... like.

And then there's Bulma--or rather, Vegeta. Why do I have these thoughts about Bulma still? I thought I had put that to rest, after Deputy nearly killed me. After I failed to protect Trunks, after returning to Hell, after the battle with Cacodemon... after Vegeta returned. What kind of fool am I?

Raditz stood and looked out the window. This room suddenly seemed too small for thinking. Raditz wolfed down the popcorn and rushed out the door, letting it slam behind him. Caught up in his own thoughts, he didn't notice Lina's anxious, confused face, nor the closed door to her office that Nezumi rarely closed.

Raditz brooded as he walked aimlessly around the compound. I'm too weak to challenge Vegeta for Bulma, and Bulma sees only him no matter what. There's nothing more pathetic than a weakling skulking about lusting after a stronger warrior's woman, and that's what I've become. Fool!

A dead fool, if I can't control my desire better--Vegeta will smell it on me, and that will be it for me. I don't really want to go back to Hell so soon--actually I don't want to go back at all! Though with my talent for doing the wrong thing, the only way to stay out of Hell might be to wish myself immortal with the dragonballs. Heh. Raditz smirked sardonically to himself. Yeah, right. Like I want to be stuck with my mistakes and limitations for all eternity...


Raditz noticed the sonic boom, and looked up just in time to see the flaming black wedge of a spacecraft flash across the sky and disappear beyond the hills to the east. "What the hell?"

* * *


[ Contents | Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 ]

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