[ Contents | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 ]

Deceiver's Legacy

By Dragoness Eclectic


Chapter 24

Raditz zoomed low over the city, just cresting the office buildings as he flew in a straight line toward Capsule Corporation. What had happened back there? The incredible explosion to the northeast as he flew toward the city, into which all trace of Naranja disappeared--Goku and Vegeta still missing--none of it boded well. He feared that time was running out faster than anyone thought.

Even as he touched down lightly on the tarmac outside the huge Capsule Corp hangar where Dr. Briefs worked on the spaceship, nearly a dozen contrails appeared high in the sky. Raditz snarled silently at the sight. They were coming. He clenched his fists, then turned deliberately toward the hangar. The others would have to deal with it; his task was to stop them at the source.

And how do you know that the source matters, the cynical, self-hating part of his mind asked him. Taking the one functional starship in the world--Vegeta won't be able to catch up to you on Jinkousei, will he, coward?

Raditz's big fists shook. Was he doing this just to flee Vegeta? That was just one side benefit, he tried to tell himself. Someone has to destroy Naranja's power-base.

You're fleeing in the middle of battle to deal with what is merely a clean-up detail, and you know it! You can fight the robots here and now. Only then you might run into Vegeta, the cynic in him jeered. Or is it that you're tired of being the weakest one, weaker even than the human warriors?

Raditz gritted his teeth and flushed with shame. He couldn't lie to himself anymore. He feared Vegeta, and he feared the humiliation of being protected by his little brother again. His duty was to stay here and fight the enemy--his knowledge of Naranja might make a difference, and he was strong enough to destroy the robots. He started to turn away from hangar--

A small door in the side of the building popped open and Nezumi beckoned frantically at him.

"Hurry up!" she said as he ducked in the door. "We've managed to clear the area, but we can't keep 'em away forever. Sooner or later, the government will send teams in, or we'll have to admit it was a false alarm--"

It was too late. He'd already set things in motion; perhaps it was cowardice sending him to Jinkousei, but it would be cowardice to back out now, after Nezumi and the others had risked much on his word...

"Never mind that. Did you get the computer core?"

"Yes, it's in the ship, but you didn't tell me how to hook it up, and Dr. Briefs is getting curious--he might do something with it!" Nezumi anxiously brushed a strand of brown hair back from her face.

Raditz grunted something incoherent and ran for the main hatch. No telling what might happen if Dr. Briefs decided to hook the core up and start analyzing it; at best he might succeed in wiping all the information Raditz so desperately needed, at worst... it might still have a self-destruct charge attached to discourage unauthorized use.

Behind him, Nezumi pursed her lips and returned to the hangar office. One last thing to get--her suitcase, and that box set of capsule vehicles that Bulma always used when exploring. They might be useful on Jinkousei.

Nezumi hesitated after picking up the box of capsules. She hadn't mentioned her plans to Lina or Raditz. Raditz didn't need to be told; he'd find out soon enough, but Lina... Lina was her roommate and friend. She didn't deserve to be left hanging, wondering what the heck had happened to her best friend. And then there was her mother.

"Darn it!" she said to no one in particular as she got out a pen and scribbled a note. "I'm just too nice for my own good."

* * *

It didn't take long for Raditz to hook the pod's computer up to the ship's computer. Dr. Briefs' latest ship was a re-build of his previous ship, which was a re-build of the ship before that, all the way back to the first ship that Dr. Briefs had built around the engine and computer of a Saiyan pod--Raditz's pod, to be precise. He had re-engineered the engine, scaled it up and improved upon it, and he'd done the same with the computer--but the standards and protocols remained the same. The old inventor saw no good reason to make his inventions incompatible with what worked before, and in the beginning, his devices had to work with the Saiyan ones.

Or rather, Raditz reflected as he jiggled the connections, Frieza's devices. The Saiyans had not developed any of the technology themselves; they merely used what their patrons in the interstellar community provided. They adapted the technology to suit themselves, but invention was not one of their racial proclivities.

Raditz gently pressed the switch that sent power to the pod's computer. He always pressed switches gently; Saiyan strength tended to break things that were not carefully handled. Even on Vegetasei, where the very trees had been as strong as the Saiyajin, one learned to move carefully. The world punished the clumsy. Thus, a Saiyan trained to direct and control his strength from early childhood; a true warrior used his strength against his enemies and his prey; only an oaf carelessly destroyed nearby objects. And the people and things of the weak, soft worlds like earth were so terribly easy to destroy...

It had been a point of pride among the Saiyans who worked for Frieza that they never killed anyone by accident.

Raditz probed the pod computer's memory, extracting the coordinates of its origin. Jinkousei. It really did come from that accursed planet. Jinkousei. Frieza had written the planet off; by all reports it was a blasted, radioactive wasteland inhabited only by roving death machines. It had no notable resources, and after the disasterous activation of the war machines by the Saiyans sent to clear the world, its value as a colony planet was nil. Unsaleable, it was not worth expending crews to clear off the robots, so it had been abandoned.

So he had always heard. But Perejil had told him a different story, of a verdant, heavily jungled world inhabited by a colony of stranded Saiyans and hunted by robotic killers. But Perejil was dead, and Naranja supposedly the last survivor of that colony... What had happened? How had Frieza's killers been deceived? And what happened to send Perejil to Earth with Naranja on his heels? Why had she murdered Perejil?

The pod's records confirmed Perejil's story in one respect: the pod was registered to Sub-commander Naranja, but the last passenger had been a young male Saiyan. It had been an old pod, too--dating from around the destruction of Vegetasei, and lacked the booby-traps of the newer models that Vegeta and Nappa had used.

One thing stood out above all others in significance: the pod had been programmed with Earth's coordinates, by Naranja. She'd meant to come here, even before Perejil stole the pod. And she'd brought a fleet with her. How deep did her plans go?

Raditz pressed another switch, the one that started the upload of Jinkousei's data from the pod's computer to the ship's navigation computer. Whatever Naranja's plans, wherever she was, the others would have to handle it. He'd have to trust that Bulma was smart enough, and Goku and Vegeta and the others strong enough to defeat the robots here. Raditz was going there, to Jinkousei, to cut off the root and source.

...and to get away from Vegeta, the cynic in him mocked again.

* * *

Why was it always harder for him than for Kakarott? Vegeta snarled inwardly. First, the Super-Saiyan, now this... Curse Kakarott! He'd made it look so easy, the way he'd turned to listen when Vegeta was dead. Now, living once again, Vegeta found that looking into the spirit world was not so easy a thing.

He tried to relax, to listen for things unseen, but his nature forbade it. Vegeta never relaxed; he'd learned too young never to let his guard down. Still, he'd learned to listen to his ki-sense once he knew the possibility existed. It was like feeling ki, this watching for spirits, but the ki was impossibly distant--no, that was not it, it was.. thin, spread fine like a mist, but close by. Yes, that was it. Look for the fine mist, instead of the inner light that was living ki.

Vegeta opened his eyes, focusing not on the house or the people or the hills beyond, but looking for that fine mist of being--there! The form took shape and color as Vegeta learned how to focus on it--a Saiyan boy, dressed in old, faded armor, gaunt and thin. Half-starved, Vegeta judged--a tortured existance for a Saiyan. The boy looked back at the Prince of the Saiyajin, nervous, hesitant; then he said something.

Vegeta realized he'd been looking, but not listening; the words escaped him. "<What did you say?>" he growled in Saiya-go.

The boy jumped back at the sharp tone in his voice. "<You are the Prince Vegeta? Please, I hope you understand me. Only one other did-->"

"<I understand you. How do you come to be here, and when did you die?>" Vegeta folded his arms, still skeptical.

The boy curled his tail tightly around his waist. "<I came here in the witch Naranja's pod, Prince Vegeta, from the world we lived on. My father said it was called Jinkousei, because of the robots.>" He stopped and clenched his fists. "<The robots she controls!>"

Vegeta leaned forward, eyes narrowing. "<How long ago?!?>"

The boy shook his head. "<I don't know. Time is-->" He shrugged and held out his hands. "<I don't know. But the grass under my pod was still green when you destroyed the witch Naranja's ship.>"

"Nani??" Vegeta's eyes widened. "<When I destroyed Naranja's ship? When did I do this--Ah! The ship of the robots!>"

"<Yes, Highness. That was the witch Naranja's ship, and she controlled the robots.>" The boy nodded.

"Damn her!" Vegeta growled. "She must have ordered her own machines to attack her in order to trick us!" He frowned. "<Who are you, boy?>"

The young Saiyan looked at the ground. "<I once was Perejil, son of Sergeant Lechuge, Highness. Now I am only a ghost, and I must protect Zan... and the two boys. Goten can hear me, but he does not understand, and Naranja hates him and the purple-haired boy.>"

Vegeta hissed, the sound of sharply indrawn breath. "<Torunksu?? She dares plot against my heir?? And why do you call her 'the witch' Naranja?>"

Perejil spread his hands in confusion. "<She is evil. She hates and kills where there is no fight to be had, even those who serve her loyally. She lied to everyone about the robots so we would obey her. She controls the machines, which hate all living people. Is she not a witch of the old tales, who did evil, and deceived, and controlled monsters?>" Perejil's hands dropped to his side again. "<I did not know Torunksu was your son, Highness. But the witch looks at him like she looked at me and my sister, right before-- right before-->" Perejil broke off, his fists clenched and his teeth gritted.

Vegeta's eyes narrowed again. "<What did she do, boy?>" He said harshly.

"<Do not ask me!>" Perejil's eyes were wide, pleading.

Vegeta was implacable. "<I must know. What did she do?>"

"<She-- she killed them, all of them. But my mother was first, then my father. I do not know why. Mother saw her coming and sent me away with Zana, to protect her, then. She said it wasn't my fault. Why would it be my fault, Prince Vegeta?>"

Vegeta closed his eyes. "<I do not know, Perejil. Why did she kill the others?">

Perejil shook his head. "<I don't know. I was hiding Zana then. She turned the robots on them, and killed those who escaped the robots, and send the robots searching for us. I knew we couldn't hide from them forever, so I slipped into the town and stole her pod. They would chase me, you see, and Zana could get away, or they would chase Zana, and I would find the other Saiyans to fight the witch Naranja.>"

Vegeta's eyes narrowed. "<Other Saiyans? What do you know of them?>"

Perejil looked puzzled. "<I do not know much about you, highness, or the warrior with the strange name--Goukuu? But Naranja knew there were Saiyajin on this world, that is why she came here.>" He shrugged. "<More than that, I do not know.>"

Vegeta pondered what Perejil had said--

The robots struck.

* * *

Consciousness returned to Naranja in flashes of light and pain. Overhead, lines of light streaked from one horizon to the other; below, half buried in the rubble of her own destruction, Naranja's seared and broken body twitched spasmodically. Each granule of dirt on her seared skin was a splash of pain; she struggled to move her fingers and push the gravel and dirt away.

What had happened? Who had dared to attack her? Naranja wondered dully. She had nearly died, and should be in a tank now. Why had they left her here?

Too close proximity to limpet detonation.

Yes... she thought tiredly. Too close to the limpets. She'd foolishly ignored the warnings--

Bardock had been far closer.

But they'd been aimed at Vegeta. And she shouldn't have been so close, she'd been warned--

Bardock had been far closer!

It knew how powerful the limpets were--hadn't it warned her away? And it had been right. And it had known how much closer Bardock was...

It mustn't know she suspected its treachery. She must keep her thoughts to herself, and use the machines until she was ready to-- don't think it! Darkness wavered at the edges of her consciousness. One command she had to give--

Pick me up, Naranja commanded. Get me into a tank...

Acknowledged. Command forwarded to secondary command vessel.

Naranja plunged back into blackness again, taking the command of the Jinkousei machines with her--for the command intelligence that whispered in her mind was formed from her own brain and the artificial memories and algorithms stored in the Jinkoseian command nano-net.

Another black wedge landed on the cratered, broken earth and disgorged robots-- not massively armored warbots, but the weaker, more utilitarian repair mechs of the robot fleet. The machines did not have the regeneration tanks that Frieza and the Saiyans used--but they could rebuild almost anything.

* * *

Raditz rested his hands lightly on the controls. He had the coordinates programmed in, the ship was fueled, fully supplied, and ready to launch. There remained only a few details...

"Now don't forget, you have to be in orbit before you activate the deep space drive," Dr. Briefs reminded Raditz for about the twentieth time. "You launch and land with the standard rockets, but--"

Raditz nodded his head impatiently. "Yeah, I got it. Drive would implode or something because of the excess mass." He turned his head slightly, bringing Nezumi into view. She leaned against the aft bulkhead, arms folded and a frown on her face.

Raditz indicated the bridge door with a jerk of his head. "Zumi, see that Dr. Briefs and Mrs. Briefs get a safe distance from the city."

Nezumi nodded. "I'll see to it," she answered. The lack of argument surprised Raditz; he'd expected Nezumi to insist on coming along. "You sure you got enough food?" she asked as she gently shoved Dr. Briefs toward the door.

"More than enough, even for me," Raditz said to Nezumi's departing back. "Enough to keep me fed for a year or so."

Everything was ready to go. Time to open the hangar and seal the hatches.

* * *

Vegeta turned to ask Kakarott a question--

Dozens of silvery glints streaked across the sky towards Muten-roshi's island, leaving white contrails behind them--

"BEHIND YOU!" Vegeta yelled. He lunged with Saiyan speed, grabbing Bulma and Trunks and throwing them to the ground, his powerful body between them and danger.

Goku's head snapped up, his eyes widening. "Gohan! Protect your brother! I have your mother and Grandpa!" As he spoke, he grabbed Chichi around the waist and Ox King by the back of his collar and with a brief gesture, vanished in a flicker of light--

--only to appear under another onslaught of silver disks at Piccolo's temple.

"Here, too?" Another gesture, and Goku vanished again.

Kulilin, Tenshenhan, even Yamucha--was everyone being attacked?? In desperation, he flashed to the great temple of heaven, where Dende watched all that passed. No silver robots streaked toward them, in that sacred place no machine could find.

* * *

KRACKOOM! Hot white power streaked into the ground from Vegeta's hand, blasting a shaft deep into the ground.

"Gohan," Vegeta growled, glancing over his shoulder at the oncoming warbots as he picked up a somewhat ruffled Bulma in one arm and Trunks in the other, "Stop any that run ahead of the main body." He lowered Bulma, then Trunks to the bottom of the shaft. "Keep your head down, woman!"

"Vegeta, if you think I'm going to sit at the bottom of a hole--" Vegeta had already vanished in the sky above. Bulma folded her arms and pouted. Well, he was trying to protect her, but sitting in the bottom of a hole while the battle raged above wasn't her idea of fun.

"Hey, I want to fight too!" yelled Trunks. He concentrated and started to drift upwards. Bulma grabbed him by one ankle.

"Oh, no you don't! You are not going up there to get shot up by a bunch of robots! Besides, you'll distract your dad, and I don't want Vegeta distracted when he's tossing around enough power to vaporize a planet!"

Trunks scowled. "Oh, all right." He glanced up as the sky suddenly darkened. "Besides--"

"Yikes!" Bulma squeezed to the side just in time to avoid being hit by a falling pig. "Oolong! You idiot, watch where you're falling! You almost squashed me!"

The pig hengeyoki glared at Bulma as he rubbed his buttocks, wincing. "You could have caught me! Those rocks hurt!"

Bulma glared back at him, scowling. Sitting in the bottom of a hole with a lecherous pig while the battle raged above was even further from her idea of fun.

Then Muten-roshi landed on top of Oolong and it was really crowded.

* * *

"GOTEN, GET DOWN! HIDE!" Gohan darted into the sky, his first blast blowing a saucer-shaped robot from the sky. As if in answer, a swarm of black darts spat from the saucers and converged on him as the saucers continued to plunge downward.

Goten froze. Those were the things that killed his friend Perejil!

Vegeta glanced up. "Gohan, destroy those things before they hit you!" The stocky Saiyan prince rose into the air, power crackling around his body as his hair rose, glowing incandescent, turning into gold.

"MA-SEN-KO!" A stupendous bolt of power sped from Gohan's outthrust hands toward the flying bombs. Caught in the wavefront of power, the black wasps crumbled, shattered and were gone, as did one of the saucers behind them.

"Bah! A careless waste of power!" Vegeta snapped as he extended both hands, casting a flurry of small bolts alternately from each hand. The tiny bolts fanned out, intersecting the incoming bomb darts and destroying them. In the time it took to destroy the darts, the saucers made it to the ground and began to unlimber their main weapons.

Gohan paled; there were too many for him and Vegeta to stop before they could fire! In his fear for Goten, he didn't even notice his own hair flare to molten gold.

Goten unfroze and darted for the hole in the ground as the first of the saucers touched down and unfolded its crab-like legs. Terror drove him; terror in the eyes of Perejil as he frantically beckoned from the mouth of the deep shaft. The robots--over twenty of them--swivelled their weapon arms, pointing six-barrelled guns at Gohan, Vegeta and Goten.

They fired.


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Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2002-2005 by Dragoness Eclectic