[ Contents | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 ]

Deceiver's Legacy

By Dragoness Eclectic


Chapter 8

Nezumi was half-conscious for quite some time before she realized she was awake. For that time, she just lay still, unthinking, her mind still wrapped in a nice warm haze of sedatives and anesthetics. Eventually Nezumi realized that she was laying on a bed, and that someone was near her. Her left arm was stiff and heavy, and her body felt uncomfortable. Presently it occurred to her to open her eyes and look around.

She lay in a hospital bed, her arm was in a cast, her ribs were taped up, and the usual IV tubes and monitoring devices were hooked up. Sitting next to her bed, looking worried, was her roommate, friend, and co-worker Lina.

"Hi," Lina said when she saw Nezumi looking at her. "How do you feel?"

"Like I got into the Narcotics evidence locker," Nezumi answered groggily. Her tongue felt awkward and heavy in her mouth.

Lina smiled weakly. "I guess the anesthesia hasn't entirely worn off, and they're going to keep you on painkillers for a while yet."

"What happened?" Nezumi asked.

Lina frowned and looked down. "She hit you."

Nezumi didn't need to ask who she was. "She hit me? You mean, beat me nearly to death, right? I can't remember it, though."

Lina shook her head. "No, she only hit you once." Lina bit her lip. "She's like Raditz and Vegeta, 'Zumi. She can level the city if she gets a notion to do so."

"But... why?" Nezumi was bewildered. "What did I do to her--oh."

Lina nodded. "Word is, you talked back to her. She didn't like that. Like I said, she's like Raditz... or Vegeta."

Nezumi caught the bitterness in her voice. "Not Radi--he's not like that!" she protested.

"I don't know," Lina answered. "She's still there. They haven't done anything about her, and Raditz has been gone who knows where for two days now. Word is, Vegeta is protecting this Naranja because she's a noblewoman of his people, and he and Ms. Bulma had an awful fight over it. I don't know if it's even safe for her anymore, and I don't know whose side Raditz is on."

"Lina... it can't be as bad as you're making out! People don't change overnight, you know that!" Nezumi felt suddenly tired; major surgery did that.

Lina noticed. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have put this all on you! It's just my silly worries--forget about it." She smiled, but it was a false smile.

Nezumi's eyes closed as she fell back asleep. Lina doesn't trust Raditz anymore, she thought. Is she right? And what do we do?

* * *

Nezumi next woke up in the middle of the night. She immediately became aware of the presence next to her, and turned her head to look.

Raditz sat next to her bed, his immense frame and mass of hair dwarfing the cheap padded chair that the hospital provided for visitors. He watched her, his eyes wide and dark in the dim glow of the nightlight, his face as somber as his dark grey clothing.

"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to wake you up," the big Saiyan said softly.

"It's okay," Nezumi said. "I don't think it was you; I think the painkillers are wearing off." As she tossed off the polite excuse, she realized it was true--she could feel the aches and itches and general unpleasantness of her injuries. She squinted at Raditz's shadowy form. "How long have you been sitting there?"

"About three hours," he answered.

"Then it definitely wasn't you, or I would have woken up when you came in." Nezumi wondered why she felt so anxious to put Raditz at ease--shouldn't she be angry at him or something?

"Where's Lina?" she asked abruptly.

"She went home about three hours ago." Raditz smiled wryly. "She's... a bit angry with me, so I waited until she left. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize," Nezumi said, and again wondered why. Of course Radi-kun would want to apologize for not being there when Nezumi was hurting-- Why?? What am I thinking here?

"Yes, there is. What I--no never mind, but-- I'm sorry, 'Zumi. You would not be here if I had not rescued Naranja. I should have known better, I should have remembered what my own people were like." He stared down at his hands, avoiding Nezumi's eyes.

"Maybe the painkillers haven't worn off yet, because what you just said makes no sense," said Nezumi.

Raditz sighed. "To put it plainly: Naranja is a brutal killer, I knew it, because we are the same kind, but I rescued her from certain death and brought her back to Capsule Corp anyway. Therefore, it is my fault," Raditz said, his voice curiously impassive.

"What?" Between Raditz and Lina, Nezumi decided she'd heard enough nonsense for one night. "If you're just like her, why did you rescue me and save my life? Don't be an ass, Raditz--you don't look good with long ears and a tail--okay, forget the tail part, you already have one. But you're being silly! And no kittens for lunch if you keep this up. Oh, forget it," she said, "I can't say this right, the drugs have my thoughts all screwed up. But you know what I mean."

The ghost of a smile quirked the corner of Raditz's mouth. "I think I do... but I still allowed it to happen, and it's my job to make sure she doesn't hurt anyone again. If I can." His shoulders slumped and he sighed. Seemingly at random Raditz asked, "Can you eat?"

"No, they've got me on intravenous glucose right now, but they should start me on delicious hospital food tomorrow or the next day," Nezumi answered, slightly confused.

"No, no. I don't mean 'Are you allowed to eat?', I mean 'Is it physically possible for you to eat?'. Can you chew and swallow right now?" Raditz leaned forward, an odd intensity in his voice.

"Ye-yes, I think so."

"Good." Raditz reached into a pocket and pulled out a small pouch; from it he extracted what looked like a bean. "Eat this," he said, placing the bean in her mouth. "It'll help you get better."

"Mm-mmph?" Nezumi asked as she chewed. "Oooooh!" She gasped as warmth flooded through her, healing newly-stitched wounds, fusing broken and cracked bones, restoring her energy and health.

Raditz smirked. "See you at work," he said, rising to his feet and padding out quietly.

* * *

Naranja paced the breadth and length of her magnificent instant mansion, stalking up one corridor, down the stairs, up another. Where was that useless, low-born scum Raditsu? He'd been gone for two days, after the prince told Naranja that Raditsu had submitted to Vegeta's wishes, and would indeed be her mate. Naranja growled to herself; so much for the hope that Raditsu's irrational and rebellious behavior would bring Vegeta's wrath down upon him. It had been unlikely at best, but it would have been preferable to Naranja's other plan.

She grimaced; loathsome as her part must be, it could not begin without Raditsu--and he was missing. Damn Kinoko and all her brats! Even killing them was a frustrating task.

The relay is operational; what are my commands?

Naranja paused in her restless pacing. Not now, she thought; I don't want to bother with this now.

Orders are needed.

What are they doing--ah. They follow the contingency plan. Let them carry on; the opposition will be stronger than originally projected. They will need enhanced weaponry.

Not understood.

Naranja frowned. The local technology is much higher than expected, and there are several people who may be as strong as the Saiyans. I have obtained plans for a weapons system much more powerful than yours. Use it.

Data transmitted. When will Vegeta be neutralised?

I'm still working on that! He is very strong; I must find someone stronger than he....

With that thought in her mind, Naranja stepped off an upper balcony and drifted into the sky, toward the east.

* * *

BAM-BAM-BAM! A chain of energy bursts detonated, destroying the tiny training robots furiously pursuing Vegeta around the gravity chamber. Vegeta smirked ferociously, flipping across the chamber under 500 gravities to blast, upside-down, the last training 'bot. Landing lightly on his feet, burning gold hair swaying slightly, he flipped off the gravity generator.

Gravity dropped back to the feeble pull of the Earth alone, and Vegeta smirked again as he relaxed. His hair still blazed golden as he opened the chamber door and stared out at the blue morning sky. A trail of white fire streaked through the air toward Vegeta, who arched his brows slightly as he recognized the incoming ki.

"Took you long enough," Vegeta said as Raditz alighted in front of him.

Raditz said, "Senzu beans are not only scarce, they have a price--a price I could meet easily enough, but it was... time-consuming." He smiled briefly, amused at some private joke. His eyes widened slightly as he looked Vegeta over.

"Yes," Vegeta smirked, tilting his golden crest of hair from side to side, "I have achieved Kakarott's level--I remain a Super-Saiyan even while resting! And, since I trained at 500 gravities while Kakarott exercised lightly in this world's feeble gravity, I am far stronger than he can possibly be!" He clenched one fist and grinned wickedly, then glanced at Raditz; Vegeta's grin faded into his usual scowl.

"Well, go find Naranja and make your arrangements with her!" Vegeta snapped.

Raditz frowned slightly. "I would, but she is away on one of her excursions."

"Wait until she gets back, then," Vegeta said, feeling generous. He was ready to test himself against the one opponent who mattered; Raditz's wayward mate-to-be was Raditz's problem, not Vegeta's. Without another word, Vegeta soared into the sky, flying toward the east and Karkarott's hunting grounds.

Today would be a good day; Vegeta was finally the most powerful Saiyan, and, after two days unexplained absence, Raditz had returned ready to obey his prince's command, much to Vegeta's relief. Vegeta had discovered he was curiously reluctant to kill the usually loyal warrior, but if Raditz's insubordination had continued....

But it hadn't, and Vegeta had not had to enforce his will. Just as well; if he'd killed Raditz, he would have had to mate with the woman himself, and that would have caused no end of problems. "I might as well have brought that snake-woman Kadru home with me," Vegeta muttered to himself.

Today was not a day for petty problems. After seven long years, Vegeta, Prince of the Saiyans was ready. He had trained for years to become Super-Saiyan, only to watch with horror as Kakarott died saving them all from Cell. Saving them all when Vegeta could not even save his own son, laying bare Vegeta's failure and weakness for all to see--then, after humiliating Vegeta, cruelly robbing the Saiyan prince of any chance at revenge by dying in battle! But then, three years later, Kakarott returned only to witness Vegeta's death, a death that again robbed Vegeta of any chance to avenge his pride.

But now, after his own death and odyssey through the hells, learning new techniques in the underworld, and returning to life to train for yet another year, Vegeta was the best he could be. He'd been ready for months, but Naranja's presence reminded him anew of everything he'd lost: father, world, people, pride....

It was time, time to prove that he was indeed the prince of all Saiyans--

"KAKAROTT!" Vegeta howled to the uncaring sky. "PREPARE YOURSELF! IT'S TIME!"

* * *

Goku felt the roiling, polluted ki long before he saw or heard any other sign of Naranja's presence. She flew north and south, sweeping the mountains--probably looking for him. He was also aware of Vegeta's furious energies away to the west, Gohan at home, and Raditz to the south, as he was always aware of every ki of import.

As he was also aware of the small, elusive ghost that haunted the windowsill of Goten's room every night. Goku frowned; the ghostly boy was too shy to talk to him, though Goku had waved to him and said "Hello" several times. In his younger days, Goku would have thought the boy rude, but he could tell the boy was scared, very scared of someone. The boy watched him, though; Goku could see him lurking in the shadow of the trees whenever he worked around the house.

Who was he, and what did he want? To Goku, it was obvious that the ghost boy approached Goten because Goten, was, well, a child, and not very scary to another boy. Only, Goten couldn't understand him.

Goku scratched his head; the ghost child was a Saiyan--maybe he spoke Saiyan and no other language? If Raditz or Vegeta could see or hear the child, they might know. Goku didn't know if they could or not. He had learned to see spirits after dying and becoming one the first time, but it had taken practice, practice he'd gotten when Vegeta had visited him from Hell to give him his pride and strength against Frieza, and later, to warn him not to act prematurely against Cacodemon. Raditz and Vegeta had both died once, but did they know how to look into the Spirit World?

One other thing Goku knew: the child was very, very afraid of Naranja. Whenever her twisted ki drew near, he hid someplace deep and dark. Goku didn't like that: a dead Saiyan child whose lost spirit could not rest--murdered, perhaps? And the boy feared the vicious Naranja more than anything else. What had Naranja done?

As he finished chopping up the tree he had felled, Goku felt Naranja's tainted ki pause overhead, and drop down. He was unsurprised when she alighted several yards away.

"There you are," she said with a touch of petulance. "You're not hiding from me, are you, Bardock?"

Goku sighed with exasperation. "I'm still not Bardock. What do you want, Naranja?" His normally friendly face was closed and hard.

Naranja drew back, gathering herself up like an angry tiger ready to leap. "You have gone native for too long, Bardock--you're forgetting who and what you are!" she hissed. "You were the greatest warrior I've ever commanded, and my best sergeant, too. Remember that! Don't you long for battle? Do you not remember the shrieks of the dying and the hot blood of your enemies falling on you like rain? Don't you want to test your strength against a worthy enemy, matching him blow for blow, power for power until he falls at last, broken and empty-eyed at your feet? Don't you? Anything else is weakness!"

"I'm not like you, Naranja; I don't hurt innocent people," Goku answered, watching the Saiyan woman warily.

"Innocent? What does that matter?" Naranja snarled. "If they are too weak to survive, they deserve to die!" Her eyes narrowed and her eyebrows arched angrily. "I heard what happened to Kakarott--he went completely native, actually bred with the local vermin!" she spat. "At least Raditsu hasn't fallen that low." She looked Goku over. "I hope for your sake that you dealt suitably with Kakarott and his 'mate', but Vegeta will not speak of you--you displeased him, did you not? No wonder he wishes to me to mate with Raditz--you are as one dead to him!" Naranja paused in her ramble, frowning thoughtfully.

Goku's jaw dropped. "You and Raditz?? That's crazy!"

"Of course it is! But the prince has commanded--" Naranja stared into Goku's eyes, suddenly intent; Goku shifted uncomfortably, embarassed by her unabashed rudeness.

Her voice softened. "--but he has not the power to command you, does he? You would not be alive if you were not the stronger--for all his decadence, he has the strength and temper of the Vegetas of old. Yes..." Her face lost the intense expression and she looked away from Goku, inward, considering some option.

"Yes! Challenge Vegeta--he is unfit to be prince, and you have the power to prove it, Bardock! Challenge him, destroy him, and we shall be as we should have been, all those years ago!" Naranja's voice rose and her fists clenched. "You will be mine, and we will make this weak planet ours, and command the legions of Jinkousei to conquer all!" Her voice rose to a shout, and her eyes were wide and strangely bright.

"Naranja, that's crazy!" Goku pushed one foot back, unobtrusively slipping into a fighting stance. "I don't want to 'destroy' Vegeta, and I don't want to conquer anything, and--"

"KAKAROTT!" Vegeta's exultant shout and a flash of brilliant white light announced his sudden arrival.

Goku looked up; Vegeta stood boldly on air, his fists on his hips, a taunting, wicked smile on his face. Vegeta raised his right hand and pointed down at Goku, crooking his fingers in an invitation.

Goku grinned wickedly himself; he knew why Vegeta was here. He leaped into the air to face Vegeta, his arms folded, Naranja all but forgotten.

"Think you can beat me now?" Goku asked, a very Saiyan smirk on his face. He could see the hunger for battle in Vegeta's eyes, feel it quickening in his own veins. He had fought greater opponents: Cell, Cacodemon, Paikuhan, but there was something special about fighting Vegeta--a battle never quite resolved, a question never really answered. Which one of them was the greater? Goku thought he was, but Vegeta challenged him, pushed him to greater heights like no other--

--and Goku's strength challenged Vegeta, pushed Vegeta to excel in ways that no enemy ever had. He hated Kakarott for always staying one step ahead of him, no matter how he tried to catch up and surpass the vulgar peasant--and yet, who but Kakarott had ever challenged him? Without Kakarott, he would never have pushed himself to the Super-Saiyan; without Kakarott, he would never have looked beyond. Without Karkarott, who would he have to fight? A Saiyan with no one to fight was nothing more than a walking corpse awaiting burial.

"DIE, KAKAROTT!" Vegeta dove toward Goku--

Black hair and orange gi, black hair and dark blue bodysuit slammed together, meeting in a frenzied swirl of blows and blocks and feints and dodges. Each Saiyan tested the other, a blow here--dodged, a feint there--blocked, a kick, a strike--blocked or shrugged off.

As suddenly as they came together, the two warriors pulled apart, each staring the other down.

"Quit playing around, Kakarott," Vegeta smirked.

"I will when you do," Goku answered, grinning.

Vegeta darted up and Goku turned, watching warily as the Saiyan prince rose above him--and then dodged as Vegeta hurled a bolt of white energy down at his rival. Goku responded with a ki ball of his own, only to watch Vegeta slap it away.

"Enough of this!" Vegeta's hair suddenly blazed golden; Goku yelled wordlessly and his own blazing gold hair and turquoise eyes matched Vegeta's.

Forgotten by the two avid combatants, Naranja slipped off through the forest, running until she was clear of the battleground, running to the east, toward Goku's home.

* * *


[ Contents | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2002-2005 by Dragoness Eclectic