[ Contents | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 ]

Deceiver's Legacy

By Dragoness Eclectic


Chapter 17

Naranja sped through the sky toward Raditz's last known location. She'd stopped getting reports on his position not long before... That worried Naranja. What if her soldiers killed Raditz before she got there, before she had a chance to look in his dying eyes and gloat? She well remembered their terrible power against all but the strongest elites...

"Commander! This is some kind of strongpoint--the damn warbots are all over the place down here!" Sub-commander Naranja yelled into her scouter as she ducked behind an armored blast door. Plasma blasts thundered into the patch of wall she'd stood beside only an instant before; the blast door grew painfully hot to touch. The tip of her tail tucked itself under one of its loops as she crouched, waiting for the fire to die down.

Naranja, her sergeant and one other warrior were cut off from the rest of her squad and Commander Col's company by the automated defenses of the Jinkouseian command bunker. The Saiyans had been reconnoitering a newly discovered sector of the sprawling complex when they somehow tripped an alarm--suddenly blast doors came crashing down to seal off segment after segment of corridor while hordes of massively armored, heavily armed robots emerged from the walls to attack them.

The scouter crackled and hissed with static--too much high-energy weapon fire nearby. Naranja tuned her scouter, trying to catch Col's response; the robot's blasts finally died down to where she could hear. The hair on the back of her neck and tail bristled; the machines only stopped firing when one of their own was in the way. She snapped her head up just as the massive crab-legs of a warbot appeared in a gaping hole in the wall beside the blast door--the same hole the Saiyans had blasted earlier to bypass the sealed door.

Behind her, Garba growled angrily and leaped to his feet, hurling a blast of ki at the intruding robot. The hulking machine was flung back; Naranja heard the clatter of its legs as it scrabbled for footing and righted itself, not seriously damaged. Garba was breathing hard; with one hand he mopped the sweat off of his forehead. The warrior was running low on energy; they'd been fighting hard for almost three hours.

Beside him, Penjal was not in much better shape. Blood trickled down the side of the stocky, heavy-set Saiyan's face; he'd caught a glancing blow to the head that had laid his scalp open when the new warbots first attacked them. Naranja judged that he wasn't quite as exhausted as Garba, but he was close.

"...Warbots?" Col's voice crackled and popped in her ear. "... mean heavy security droids? Surely a warrior of your experience isn't having trouble with them?" The static did little to hide the supercillious contempt in Lord Col's voice.

"No, I do NOT mean those stupid little tin targets on legs!" Naranja snarled into the scouter's audio pickup. "I mean full-grown, moon-cursed, kicking-our-asses-with-plasma-cannon-and-enough-armor-for-a-space-cruiser WARBOTS! There's something damn important down here, and if you want to find out what it is, Commander, get the rest of the squad down here before I have to go ouzarou and destroy the whole place!"

Metal shrieked a few yards away as Garba and Penjal upended the attacking warbot and tore its legs off, using the chassis as a shield against the rest of the warbots. Plasma blasts thundered deafeningly in the narrow space as the other robots opened fire on the downed warbot and the Saiyans behind it; its armored body reflected the blasts for the moment.

"Damn it!" Naranja shook her head angrily, her spiky, shoulder-length hair rustling against her armor; the static from the nearby plasma fire again blocked communications. "Damn that arrogant bastard!" Naranja stood up, glaring at Garba, Penjal and the attacking warbots as her fists tightened. "I have had enough of this crap!"

Power flowed into and through her; waves of it shook the already dusty, rubble-strewn corridor. The robotic fusillade wavered and slackened as the warbots' aim was disrupted; the deadly machines stopped firing to concentrated on stablizing themselves as their crab legs bounced and skittered across the shuddering floor. Garba and Penjal staggered and braced themselves against the fallen warbot as Naranja's power surged.

Hot anger surged through Naranja, making her almost dizzy with the need to strike out, to destroy and burn and shatter. How dare that supercillous swine treat her like some timid third-class slut recruited fresh off the Street of Whores! She, Naranja, had commanded a good squad of her own before that Kyadarmit commando put her in the tank and on medical restriction for months--how dare that egotistical lecher imply she was whining for help over a few lousy security droids! Curse the bastard, and curse that witch Kinoko for stealing the best Squad Sergeant she'd ever had, and half the squad along with him! If she'd still had Bardock, her squad would never have been wiped by those devil-cursed Kyadarmit cyborgs, and she, Commander Lady Naranja, would not have suffered the humiliation of being reduced to a mere Sub-Commander in another's squad.

"DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!" Naranja leaped forward and released a tremendous blast of energy from her joined hands. A wall of white fury swept the corridor, carrying the warbots before it. The hulking machines rolled, softened, crumbled and finally disintegrated in the ravening energies hurled by the elite warrior woman.

Finally, silence reigned. Nothing moved in the blackened, blasted corridor; not a single robot remained.

"Whoa!" A single, appreciative yell burst from Garba's lips. Penjal blinked, his eyes still dazzled with dark after-images, but a vicious smirk spread across his face.

"Let's see what the bastards were guarding," Naranja said in cool, clipped tones. One hand went up to her scouter, adjusting the communications frequencies as she strode forward.


The blow was sudden and blinding, sending Naranja plunging out of the sky and into the ground. She could only lay helpless at the bottom of a crater and watch as Vegeta dropped lightly down beside her.

"Fool!" he hissed, brows furrowed with anger. "You did not tell me there were more robots!"

"Prince... Vegeta," Naranja said, rising unsteadily to her feet. Her heart raced, and genuine fear showed in her pale face. "I did not know! I thought they sent only one ship after me..." She swayed on her feet. "I DIDN'T KNOW!" she screamed as Vegeta seized the front of her armor and forced her to her knees.

"Pray," he growled, "to the ancient gods that nothing else happens that you 'didn't know' about. How many robots are there?"

"I don't know--" Naranja broke off in a gasp as Vegeta raised one glowing hand, cold rage in his turquoise eyes. "I DON'T KNOW! They could have built a base and be making more right now! Any number of them could be hiding underground anywhere!" She shuddered as Vegeta lowered his hand. "That's why we never could defeat them--they kept building more of themselves."

* * *

Goku's throat grew tight as he saw the billowing column of smoke ahead, where his home should be.

"Gohan?" Yes, he could sense Gohan's ki, there in the center--

A rippling flicker of light heralded Goku's arrival in the midst of the smoking crafter that had been his home. There was Gohan, holding Trunks and Goten-- His gaze darted around the wreckage and alighted on two figures moving haltingly out of the woods--

"CHI-CHI!" Goku yelled and ran to his wife, grabbing her out of Ox-King's sheltering arms and hugging her. "Are you all right?" he said, looking her over from head to toe.

Chi-chi's eyes brightened for a moment. "Hmmph! How can you ask such a question? My clothes are a mess, our beautiful house is gone, and those things nearly killed my babies!!" She hugged Goku back, hard as she could.

"They're okay," Gohan said as he carried the two younger boys out of the crater to his mother. "Just a little shaken up."

"Owww, my ears!" Trunks said a little too loudly. "Make the ringing stop!"

"What?" asked Goten, rubbing his ears. "What did you say?"

"Goten!" Chi-chi snatched her youngest son from Gohan's arms and hugged him. "Thank goodness!"

"What, Mama?" asked Goten, looking puzzled. Trunks, too, was rubbing his ears and looking annoyed.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Why is everyone so quiet?"

Goku looked puzzled; Gohan frowned momentarily, and then comprehension dawned. "Oh! They're deaf from the blast--must have really rattled their ears. I was ready for it, but they weren't. Even my ears were ringing for a bit; it was really powerful."

Goku frowned now. "Those robots tried to kill me and Vegeta, too." He turned a stern face toward the horizon, where he and Vegeta had again fought. "And they tried to kill you all." The anger in his face was plain to see, now. "Maybe we destroyed all of them... but maybe there are more." He turned back to Chi-chi. "It isn't safe here, and the house is wrecked. I want you and the boys to stay at Master Roshi's while I find out what caused all this."

"Stay with that old pervert?!? A fine example he is for children!" Chi-chi protested reflexively, then looked around at the devastation and sighed. "I suppose there isn't much else to be done right now. Goku," she said wistfully, "take care of it--of us."

Goku nodded gravely and raised two finger to his forehead. In a flicker-flash of light, they vanished. A few leaves drifted on the breeze, falling into the scorched earth of the empty crater where once a house had stood.

* * *

That evening, when Nezumi returned home, she reflected that Lina's anger at Raditz for failing to protect Nezumi from Naranja had kept her from looking at the facts clearly--but then, Nezumi hadn't given Lina all the facts about Raditz, either, had she? Maybe she should have told Lina about Raditz's midnight visit to the hospital, and his part in her 'miraculous' recovery. It might have helped her see that Raditz was not the kind of man who could have done the terrible things he was being accused of.

As she set her purse down on the kitchen counter, Nezumi froze. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something was not right--a sound, a smell, a shadow where no shadow should be.... There was someone else in the apartment with her, and it wasn't Lina. Her hand crept toward the snub-nosed revolver she carried concealed under her jacket...

"Glad you're here. I need your help," said Raditz.

Nezumi looked up at the tall, powerfully-muscled warrior dominating her living room. The great mass of black hair that tumbled down his back to his knees made Raditz seem twice as large; Nezumi felt dwarfed by Raditz's size and barely-hidden power. She swallowed hard.

"Y-you need my help?" Her voice came out in an startled squeak. Nezumi blushed; what had gotten into her? She'd worked with this man for nearly a year!

Raditz didn't answer at first, but looked down and through her--something he often did when deep in thought, and which never failed to annoy Nezumi. It didn't fail this time, either.

She folded her arms and cleared her throat loudly. "Before you say another word, you tell me what happened to Bulma!"

Raditz blinked. "She is alive, well, and safe. I can't tell you where, and it's not safe for her to come home."

"That's... interesting." Nezumi looked up at Raditz, put her hands on her hips and tilted her head to one side. "What's going on, Raditz? It's got something to do with that Naranja woman, doesn't it?"

Raditz frowned slightly. "Yes," he said reluctantly.

"Well?" Nezumi's eyebrows furrowed with exasperation. "Out with it!"

Raditz sighed and began to pace the tiny living room. This resulted in him taking two steps, turning around, and taking two steps back; after one pass, he gave it up.

Nezumi folded her arms again, and drummed fingertips against her arm impatiently.

"Naranja wants Bulma and I dead, and she did her best to make sure Vegeta killed me--by framing me, convincing Vegeta that I..." Raditz hesitated, glancing at Nezumi.

"That you raped and kidnapped Bulma?" Nezumi glared up at him. "That's the rumor, you know!"

Raditz sighed, and looked curiously relieved. "Good--"

"GOOD! What is 'good' about that??" Nezumi all but shrieked.

"If Vegeta believes that, he won't kill Bulma and Trunks," Raditz answered abruptly. "Just me."

"Why would he kill--oh." Nezumi laid two fingers to her lips, which stood out against her suddenly pale face. "He was supposed to think you and Bulma were having an affair? How in the heck did Naranja pull that off?"

Raditz stared at the floor, his cheeks reddening. "Vegeta was supposed to find us, ah, in a compromising position. He almost did, too."

Nezumi grasped his meaning immediately. "In bed together?" She sat down in the nearest chair. "I think you better sit down right there and explain what happened, from beginning to end."

Raditz did that, omitting any mention of his own passion for Bulma. "...I had no choice; I had to stash Bulma somewhere safe, and no, I'm not telling even you where she is. What you don't know--"

"--I can't spill; yes, Raditz, I can figure that much out myself." Nezumi scowled at Raditz. "What I can't figure out is you, Raditz."

Raditz raised one dark eyebrow. "Huh?"

It was Nezumi's turn to pace. She turned her back on Raditz as she paced into the kitchen. "I guess it means a lot to you that she's your kind. I can't blame you for being attracted to Naranja--"

Raditz looked at her oddly. "Attracted?? I despise the woman!"

"Hmmph! I didn't know that men had a habit of jumping into bed with women they despised, but any port in a storm, I suppose!" Nezumi said bitterly.

"I told you, Vegeta ordered me to--"

"He ordered you to marry the woman, according to you--not that you argued very much. I don't think he ordered you to take her to bed that very night, or do Saiyan betrothals include a try-out session?" snapped Nezumi.

Raditz turned very red. "That was her idea! And..."

"And you just went along with it--you said that yourself! I'm missing something here, and I think it's honesty and sense on your part!" Nezumi nearly shouted, her small fists clenched at her side.

Raditz stared at her, shocked and slightly angry. "What the hell? Woman, you are making no sense yourself! Who I take to bed and why is my affair; I'd almost think you're jeal--" Raditz stopped in mid-word and stared at Nezumi. A very Saiyan smirk began to spread across his face. "You are jealous!"

Nezumi folded her arms indignantly. "Jealous? Why should I be jealous of a big lout who can't take the simplest hints, and who throws himself at the most obnoxious woman he can find? I would be a fool to be jealous of a complete idiot!" Bitter tears pooled in her eyes; she looked away, trying to hide them.

Raditz stood up to his full height, his spiky hair pushing against the ceiling. "Zumi! I obeyed Vegeta because I could think of no other way to tame the monster--and Naranja is a monster, trust me on that. I thought perhaps I could teach her to see things as I saw them, while keeping her from doing harm. It was a foolish, futile thought." He looked at Nezumi with an odd, gentle smile. "You're not a fool; don't ever think that."

Nezumi brushed a hand across her eyes. "You're still not telling the whole story, Raditz. Even I've noticed that you... find Bulma attractive."

Raditz blushed and looked away. "Does everyone in the city know?" he muttered. "Has it been that obvious?" he asked Nezumi. His tail uncoiled and lashed in agitation.

Nezumi folded her arms and looked at Raditz. "Do you know just how much your tail reveals about you?"

Raditz's tail froze in mid-twitch, and then quickly coiled around his waist. "Oh."

Nezumi smiled then. "You're like a big cat; your tail announces your mood to everyone in sight. Even when you coil it that means something, I've noticed."

Raditz turned very red and he muttered something Nezumi couldn't hear.

"I hope that wasn't something rude," she said warningly.

Raditz smiled wryly. "No, I just remembered why Vegeta and Nappa always kept their tails coiled. Especially--" He stopped talking.

"What?" Nezumi looked at him suspiciously.

He shook his head. "Never mind, it's a bit... crude. But what I really came for was help in figuring out what Naranja did, and proving it." Raditz sighed and sat down again. "I can't investigate here while running for my life, and until I can convince Vegeta of the truth, Bulma and Trunks are in danger." He frowned, slightly puzzled. "I can't figure where the robots fit in, though."

"Robots? You mean the ones that you rescued Naranja from?" Nezumi seemed puzzled.

"No--well, yes. Not that original lot, but the new ones that attacked me when I was running from Vegeta."

Nezumi's eyes widened. "There's more?"

"Yes. They looked like the first ones, but had heavier weapons." Raditz started trying to pace again. "Either Vegeta missed some of the robots from the alien ship, or there was another ship with more robots. Or something."

"Vegeta obliterated every one of the things out in the open." Raditz scowled. "Still, I don't like it. The robot's ship could have had more robots stashed in a hold, more weapons, could have called for help, who knows what else. We didn't investigate it."

"Hmmm... Well, what do you know about them?" she asked.

"Only what Naranja told us." Raditz quickly relayed Naranja's account of her stranding and survival on Jinkousei. Nezumi grew steadily more pale as he progressed.

"Raditz," Nezumi's voice was suddenly strained. "Those robots can build ships--and they know the way to Earth. They can obviously repair themselves, and, worse yet, there's a chance they can build themselves!" She glanced at him sidelong. "Why were your people attacking this world? I notice you carefully avoided mentioning that."

Raditz's tail coiled tighter yet, and his hands flexed. He stared at the floor, not meeting Nezumi's gaze. "It's what we did. We were a warrior race--fighting is in our blood and little else matters to us. I suppose that was the original excuse, better to fight strangers for profit than slaughter each other--if we even needed an excuse. The Saiyan kings originally hired out their elite warriors as mercenaries to any world that would pay and guarantee fighting... but things changed. A new power moved in, and changed the game.

"It used to be that squabbling worlds hired mercenaries to settle trade disputes and establish claims to disputed resource worlds or colonies, but there were no real wars of conquest--too expensive to subdue and occupy an entire inhabited world. King Cold changed all that; he expanded his empire by simply exterminating all the inhabitants of worlds he wanted and moving in. Inhabitants that were useful to him got offered the chance to live as his slaves instead of being slaughtered. Powerful warrior races like the Saiyans were offered the 'opportunity' of fighting for Cold as slave-mercenaries. Mercenaries, for we got paid, but slaves--we dared not refuse to fight--as if any Saiyan would!--or go to work for another ruler.

"Cold's son and heir, Frieza, added a new wrinkle to the game; once the Cold Empire had dominated or exterminated all the worlds it could control, they developed the business of exterminating the populations of weak but desireable worlds and selling the now-uninhabited worlds off as virgin colony planets." Raditz sighed. "We Saiyans were Frieza's toughest mercenaries, with few exceptions, and we didn't balk at any job, no matter how tough or bloody. We were the big guns that Frieza sent in when his regular troops couldn't do the job."

"That's what I did for thirty years: murdered worlds full of innocent people." Raditz sat and looked down at his hands for a long time.

Nezumi looked at the long-haired warrior for a long moment before she spoke. Moistening dry lips, she said, "You were a soldier, Raditz. Soldiers kill people and sometimes do terrible things in wars."

"It's not that simple," Raditz answered. "We Saiyans saw all other races as vermin--animals to be eradicated if they got in our way, or if there was a bounty on them. It wasn't terrible to us that we butchered them by the billions; it was just work, and often boring work at that."

Nezumi grew paler still. " 'Vermin'... that's what Naranja called me just before she hit me!"

Raditz looked at her, brows slightly lowered. "Yes," he growled. "Naranja is very Saiyan that way. And worse... I said it was often boring work--because our victims were too weak to give us a decent fight. We love nothing more than a good fight--the lust for battle is as powerful in us as plain old lust is in humans--and often that lust for battle becomes a lust for killing. Naranja is one of those who likes to kill."

"Are you one of them?" Nezumi looked intently at Raditz, her face pale and expressionless.

Raditz shook his head slowly. "No, I never really enjoyed killing. A good fight, yes--but nothing more. That makes me no less guilty."

Nezumi backed up and edged around a nearby chair, putting it between her and Raditz. "You never told me any of this!" she accused.

Raditz sighed. "I tried to warn you, girl. I tried to tell you what I was, but you thought too well of me, and wouldn't listen."

"What? When was this?" Nezumi demanded, puzzled and angry.

"Back when the demons snatched the kids--right before we went into Hell after them."

"Oh. That." Nezumi frowned, her lips pouting slightly. "I thought you meant-- I didn't think you-- oh."

"I told you then you didn't know what I was. Now you do." Raditz's voice was flat, his face impassive. "I was a mass murderer on a scale that makes your history's worst butchers no more than children playing at toy soldiers." He frowned, looking down at his hands again, and said, half to himself, "This was not the time to tell you this. I need your help to save Trunks and Bulma, and I do not think you will help me now."

Nezumi gripped the back of the chair to keep from falling; she was white and shaking. "Raditz... I have to... think about this, and I can't think straight with you sitting there and telling me things like that. You can't stay; not now." Nezumi struggled to keep the sickness and anger and fear out of her voice.

Raditz clenched his fists tightly and stared intently at the floor. You stupid fool! Raditz thought to himself. You had to blurt it out and disillusion the one person besides Goten who still believed in you!

"That's part of my problem," Raditz said so softly Nezumi had to strain to hear him. "I've run so long and hard I've very little strength left, and I have no place to go. I have to hide my ki among humans, or he'll find me, and you've very efficiently gotten the police looking for me, too--so I must hide from humans, too. You're the only one I trust who can get in and out of Capsule Corp and whose ki he doesn't know..."

* * *


[ Contents | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2002-2005 by Dragoness Eclectic