[ Contents | XI. Downslope | XII. Dark Heart | XIII. Tremors ]


By Dragoness Eclectic



"BULMA!" Bulma started awake, blurry and confused for a moment.

"Vegeta?" Where was he? She'd heard him call her name in desperate anguish--no, wait. Bulma's head cleared, as she remembered where she was and when. She was at home, and Vegeta--was dead. Had been dead for months. The familiar ache in her soul gnawed at her, and the tears ran down her face.

"But I heard him." Bulma got up and drew on a nightgown. "Where are you, Vegeta? And when will you come back to me?" There was no answer, nor did she really expect any. Last week's dream.. perhaps it was just a dream. Perhaps not.. the scent of him had lingered in the air.

A pale half-moon hung just above the horizon, highlighting the lonely bedroom in moonlight and shadows. Bulma watched the moon, puzzled. "Something is very, very wrong." She went to her bookshelf and started digging around. "Ah ha, Daily Almanac. Moon phases. Oh, my." She looked at the moon again, and looked at the almanac again, and reached for the telephone.

"..uh huh... assumed a geosynchronous orbit.. hmmm..."

After a long conversation, she hung up. "Well. So the 'learned astronomers' have no idea, and are trying to figure out how to make it public before everyone panics." She stared hard at the moon. "What could possibly have stopped the moon in its orbit? And why?"

*      *      *      *

In Niflheim, Vegeta shuddered in agony as Nidhogg's venom seeped into his wounded spirit. He had no strength left; the poison stole what little had remained untrapped by the Corpse-Tearer's gaze. Only a terrible regret was left--regret that he would not see or even remember Bulma, or Trunks, or Kakarott, or Gohan or any of them, ever again; regret that he had failed them and failed himself; regret that all memory and knowledge of everything he'd been and seen and done would soon be gone forever; and bitterest of all, the knife-sharp regret for the things he had done half-mad with hate and rage for so many bitter years--the deeds were not worth the cost.

What was the temporary quenching of anger in someone's blood, the lashing out in a moment's hate to kill, worth? What satisfaction did they give in the end? None that lasted. Worthless, compared to holding Her in his arms; nothing, compared to a wonderful, precious violet-haired son, his flesh and blood and power; and empty, compared to the rivalry (or was it something more?) with his comrade/enemy/rival/ally Kakarott.

The agony receded, and a strange lassitude replaced it. Vegeta's eyes closed, he struggled no more. Crushed and broken in the jaws of the Corpse-Tearer, he awaited oblivion.

*      *      *      *

Oblivion did not take him. Nidhogg suddenly spasmed and heaved his head high into the air; fresh agony tore through Vegeta as Nidhogg spat him out. The Corpse-Tearer's thrumming song changed to a high wail of agony. The Saiyan prince tumbled through the air; below him, Nidhogg thrashed like a headless snake, clawing madly at one darkened eye. Still too weak to move, let alone fly, Vegeta could only stare in wonder; above the Corpse-Tearer, tail coiled tightly around a splinter of Yggdrasil's root, a monstrous cobra flared its hood and spat venom into the death worm's eye.

Elivagar whirled beneath the prince; a monstrous slab of ice, tumbling end over end as it flew into the air caught him and carried him with it. By what miracle the ice slab shattered on Yggdrasil's root with him atop the slab rather than crushed beneath, Vegeta never knew. He sprawled lifeless on the root of the World Tree, weaker than a newborn kitten--but still himself. He was still Prince Vegeta of the Saiyajin.

The moon-wolf's fur warmed him, and the horrid lassitude left his soul. Vegeta's mind started working again. "How in all the hells did a giant spitting cobra appear in the middle of Elivagar to attack--of course! I am an idiot! Kadru! So that's what she looks like in her snake form!"

With some effort Vegeta managed to move his right hand; he had that much strength back. With a great deal more painful effort, he rolled himself over and crawled to where he could peer over the vast root into Elivagar. Now that Nidhogg's spell was broken, the Saiyan prince felt stronger with every instant that passed; yet more strength seemed to flow into him from the World Tree.

"What is that stupid snake doing now? Ah!" Vegeta smirked, watching as a blinded Nidhogg sank into the depths, fleeing its small, vicious tormentor. Apparently satisfied, Kadru the Cobra tried to reverse herself and crawl back up the splinter of root she clung to, but slipped back repeatedly, foiled by the slick ice glazing the root. She perservered; as Vegeta watched, she slowly, doggedly crawled up the root in spiral coils, one laborious foot after another.

Vegeta chuckled, painfully. "She's persistant, I'll give her that." He rolled over on his back, a slightly less painful position, and began the agonizing task of putting his ribs back in place. Spectral bones knitted as the strength returned to his soul, but it was no less painful for that. "Raditz knew what he was talking about," Vegeta muttered to himself. "It feels like I've been beaten to death by Frieza all over again. Ayyyy-yaahhh!"

"What?" That sense of foulness, again--welling up, rising, intensifying. At the same time, Elivagar's roar seem to change, become deeper, more threatening. Vegeta hauled himself stiffly to his feet, and looked down.

The cauldron of Elivagar was dark as night, and clouds of black ice crystals swirled around it like the eye-wall of a hurricane. Kadru still struggled up the lower root, and the darkness below began to rise.

"Kuso!" Vegeta blazed with power, and plunged into the cauldron. The foulness intensified into a burning ache--he felt again the monstrous stinger plunged into his back, and the poison that burned through his nerves--the taste of his own blood filled his mouth. He flung both arms around the Kadru-cobra's body, and rocketed up, out of Elivagar.

Energy crackled around him, and his hair blazed golden as he hurtled the length of the Gioll carrying Kadru the Naga. Behind him, the raging fury of Elivagar exploded in darkness. The hellish concussion nearly swatted Vegeta from the sky; a shard of wood larger than a skyscraper tumbled past him to impale a nearby mountain. He glanced back once.

Darkness filled the sky, lit along the length of the World Tree by weird green flashes. Luminous green sap dripped from the cracked and twisted root of Yggdrasil; the mountains surrounding Elivagar were cracked and shattered, tops blown away. Something screamed in anger and rage, and a great howl answered from ahead--Garm! Hel's hound bayed his warning to all Niflheim. Vegeta caught a momentary glimpse of something huge and winged, tailed and toothed and all vile, rearing up where Elivagar's cauldron had raged. He did not need another glance--the ache in his chest, the foul taste in his mouth told Vegeta--THIS was his enemy!

"Time!" Vegeta realized. "Somehow I got to Niflheim BEFORE the demon did! He's only now tearing his way through to the next hell! I don't believe this--it's insane! I don't dare fight him here before I fought him on Earth; who knows what future THAT would create!"

Behind him, Cacodemon, Chaos demon of Death and Disorder, rose howling from Elivagar, another layer closer to the World, and his ordained prey. Vegeta did not look back again.

*      *      *      *

"SEAN! I know you're in there, open up this door before I kick it in!" Sinhika was not in the mood for patience. She'd knocked repeatedly on the door for a good ten minutes, and she knew Sean was home--she could sense his presence.

Before she could bang on the door again, Sean flung it open from inside, and stood there glowering at her. His black hair was tousled and matted, he was unshaven, shirtless and barefoot. He blinked, obviously just awake.

"What?" he scowled.

"Yeah, I'm happy to see you, too." Sinhika pushed her way inside, and hooked the door shut with her foot. "I need the services of VirtualBlack."

Sean gave her the finger, then reconsidered. "What for, you want to get even with some ex-boyfriend? I don't do that kind of crap. Just security work--or are you paying?" He ran his fingers through his air, trying to straighten out the mess.

"Paying is the problem. One of my dear family members got my credit cards and bank accounts cancelled. ALL of them. I need at least one of them reinstated." Sinhika laid her cards on the table. "Or, I need to get a decent job in time to pay next month's rent." She smiled wryly.

At least I won't go hungry, she thought. Two more attempts to knock over temples and kidnap priests in the last two days--who the heck are these people? I can't let Khara run me out of town now--something is going on that I need to get to the bottom of.

Sean frowned abruptly. "I guess you'll have to get a paying job. I don't do banks; that kind of hacking gets you hard time. They call it bank fraud, and where I come from, it's 10-20 years of making little rocks out of big ones." He looked curiously at her. "You're an adult; how could 'a family member' get YOUR accounts cancelled?"

Sinhika paced about the small living room. "They weren't exactly MY accounts; more like expense accounts on the family treasury. I should have just drawn enough off and set up my own independent accounts, but I was lazy, and didn't think Khara--my brother--would pull a stunt like this. Achintya!"

She looked Sean over. "You're cute without your shirt, but you look like you've been pulled through a knothole. Howsa'bout I make you dinner?"

"Uhhhh..." Sean's jaw dropped. He gulped as he came to his senses. The incredibly gorgeous and graceful Sinhika was in HIS apartment, telling him he looked good shirtless, and he, Sean, had been acting like a complete boor. Where the hell was his brain? On the floor with his shirt, apparently. "..sure!" He twisted his face into a smile. "I'll go get cleaned up, there's some beer in the fridge, help yourself," he babbled as he headed for the shower.

While he was gone, Sinhika prowled around the apartment and inspected the kitchen. "Hmm.. hasn't cleaned the stove since he moved in, and washes dishes once a month whether they need it or not. Typical bachelor. Hmm.. hmmm.. need to pick up a few things."

A bit later, Sean emerged from the shower; Sinhika was nowhere in sight. "I knew it was too good to be true," he muttered, and then spotted the note on the table.


"Pizza? Where the hell is she getting pizza? There's no decent pizza to be had this side of the Pacific Ocean!" Sean frowned.

A few minutes later, Sinhika came in the door with a bag of groceries.

Sean looked at her, puzzled. "I thought you were getting pizza."

"No, I was getting the stuff for MAKING pizza. Here, put these cokes in the fridge--got to have caffeine to cut the grease."

"Home-made pizza?" Sean was astonished. "Do you know how long it's been since I've had decent pizza? You are making me so homesick!"

Sinhika smiled at him. "Think of it as a bribe," she suggested sweetly.

Sean stopped abruptly and shook his head. "Uh-uh. It ain't worth hard time."

"Okay, help me find a job. Database searches, corporate job postings, that sort of thing. And tell me about that painting you're working on," she added casually as she started mixing the pizza dough.

"Uh, er, it's a painting," he said defensively.

"Well, duh. Even the beautiful but bubble-brained Sinhika can figure that out," she said, winking at him. "I just wondered if you like, used models from around here, or something."

"No, I don't use models at all. Why do you ask?" Sean asked slowly.

Sinhika shrugged. "Your king reminds me of someone I've met--couldn't quite place my finger on who, though." As she was putting the pizza in the oven, Sinhika said, "Pomona told me you didn't paint anymore. What's the story here?"

Sean's face became expressionless. "Just.. artistic block, I guess. It happens," Sean lied.

Boy, you are a lousy liar! Sinhika thought. That painting of yours just reeks of magic, and your tall, sinister, handsome brown-haired king looks like he could be a close relative of Ghost Prince Vegeta. Not to mention the device on his armor, which matches that on the armor of the Ghost Prince himself.

"Whatever," she said cheerily.

Later, much later, she asked Sean again. "What is the story with your paintings?" She snuggled against him on the couch. Amazing how his shyness and inhibitions had dropped away after six or seven drinks.. amazing how well she had hidden the beer behind the illusionary color and taste of coke.

Sean sighed. "I never did tell Pomona the real reason I dropped out of art school and burned all my paintings--I just let her think it was depression." He looked at her, worried. "You won't laugh, will you? Even if you don't believe it?"

Sinhika shook her head solemnly. "Of course not!"

Sean leaned his head on his elbow. "It started with vivid dreams, in art school. I needed inspiration, so I used my dreams--I painted them. I was getting fairly good, though I didn't know it--I liked to paint in a realistic style, and my modernist professors didn't approve of realism--they wanted abstracts and 'interpretive' art, so I never got good grades from them." He took another drink. "Anyway, my paintings would.. change. I'd paint them, and go away, and the next day, things would have changed. At first it was just background details, things only I would notice because I painted them, but then whole foreground subjects would disappear! Or new ones appear--I wasn't sure what was worse."

"'Foreground subjects'?" Sinhika raised an eyebrow.

"A nice neutral way of saying monsters.. demons. That was the kind of thing I dreamed about and painted." Sean laughed ironically. He frowned. "When it was only background details I dismissed it as just harmless weirdness..." He gulped another drink. "But when the demons started disappearing from the pictures, and I started hearing voices in the night, and seeing things out of the corner of my eye.. I started getting scared. I thought I was going crazy." Sean fell silent.

"What then?" Sinhika prompted.

Sean shook his head. "Then my roommate started to see and hear.. things. The last straw was when me, my roommate, his girl, my girl were all together, and we saw THE THING FROM MY PAINTING. Right in the middle of the hall, plain as you are standing there." Sean finished his drink. "It was the dripping wet footprints that convinced me. After that, I burned the paintings."

"What you're saying is.." Sinhika ventured cautiously.

"--that my paintings have a nasty habit of coming to life!" He yawned, and laid his head in Sinhika's lap. "I told Pomona I didn't paint anymore, but I never really stopped. I just did them on computer for the last few years--they never seemed to get out of hand that way. Only my computer was trashed, and I was mad, so I started painting for real again." Sean murmured sleepily. "The demons are different now--they look almost like people. Maybe they aren't the same.. kind.. of.. monsters..." His eyes closed; Sean slept.

Sinhika gently stroked his black hair. "Oh, Sean, I played a dirty trick on you, getting you drunk so I could find out about your magic painting." She kissed him lightly. "I'll make it up to you one of these days--you're too cute and too sweet for me to be so mean to you." She extracted herself carefully without waking Sean, putting a spare pillow under his head instead.

She stepped into the tiny second bedroom Sean used as a combination computer room and studio, and studied the painting. The king who reminded her of the Ghost Prince, his white-cloaked guards, the other scar-faced warrior in the red cape standing beside the king, the bull-headed demons--her eyes narrowed. She recognized the latter from last night's temple; she'd taken the form of one of the bull-headed temple guardians.

"Gozu Oni... these aren't just 'demons' as Sean thinks, these are protectors of the divine order! They don't get involved unless the gods are involved---or those appointed by the gods, like the rulers of Hell. What is the purpose of this picture? From Sean's account, this must be some kind of summoning magic, or a rift. But why this bunch? And what is that infernal king's connection to the Ghost Prince?"

At that moment, the building shook, and the easel swayed ever so slightly. Sinhika's hand brushed the painting, and she snatched it back guiltly. She looked it over; no paint. "Guess it was dry already. That was a good thing; it would be a shame to ruin Sean's masterpiece because of a little earth tremor." She dismissed the minor earthquake without further thought; they were a daily occurence here, on the edge of the Pacific plate.

"Time to go; I don't think Sean needs to worry about that lot climbing out of his painting and eating his neighbors. If they're what I think they are, they can't even go to the next room without filing a report in triplicate first, let alone do something like come to Satan City and cause trouble!" Sinhika let herself out the door.

Behind her, the painting shimmered, responding to the touch of the demon girl...

*      *      *      *

"Where's Kakarott?" Raditz asked abruptly as Chi-chi opened the kitchen door.

Raditz and Trunks had just arrived for Trunks' training--since the attempt on Chi-chi and Goten, Goku was staying close to home, where he could keep an eye on them, and training Trunks and Gohan there. Chi-chi rather liked it that way--Goku and her sons would be home for dinner on time, for once, and Raditz and Trunks would happily eat anything she put in front of them. However...

Chi-chi glared at Raditz, arms crossed. She'd had about enough of both Raditz and Vegeta's bad manners--Vegeta she couldn't do anything about (and besides, he was dead), but Raditz was another story. If he thought Chi-chi was going to let him hang around and teach his rudeness and bad attitude to little Goten, Raditz had another think coming.

"I don't believe I know anyone by that name," Chi-chi answered.

"What?? Woman, don't play games with me! Where's Kakarott? I'd find him myself, but he's got his ki down low," Raditz growled, looking impatient. Behind him, Trunks watched, wide-eyed.

Chi-chi's voice was frosty. "My name is not 'woman', it's Chi-chi--or more properly in your case, Mrs. Son."

"What?" Raditz looked confused and irritated. "What is this foolishness? You're my brother's mate, not a stranger!"

"First, I'm Goku's WIFE, not his 'mate', and second, if I had a brother-in-law, I would think that he would know my name and his own brother's name!" Chi-chi's voice dropped well below freezing. As Chi-chi continued to glare, Trunks smiled, and put his hand over his mouth to stop himself from giggling out loud.

Raditz blinked, completely bewildered. He scowled, started to say something, and stopped abruptly--a sudden hunch that he was walking on VERY dangerous ground. He gritted his teeth. "Chi-chi! Just tell me where Kak--my brother is! Please. I promised him I'd bring Trunks over today."

Chi-chi frowned only slightly. "GOKU said he'd be up around the first waterfall on White Cloud Stream, and to meet him there. It's--"

"I know where it is," Raditz said impatiently. "That's where he took the kids fishing. Trunks," he nodded to the purple-haired lad. "let's fly; you do need the practice." He started to leave, when Chi-chi interrupted him.

"Oh, one more thing. You can tell GOKU that if he's late for dinner, he gets cold rice and yesterday's soup. You, too."

Raditz looked slightly worried; behind him, Trunks looked very worried. "I'll.. tell him. We won't run late, I'll make sure of that!"

*      *      *      *

Hours later in the afternoon, after training and some impromptu sparring between Raditz and Goku, and a fine dinner that everyone had showed up for on time (much to Trunks' relief--he'd been terrified of getting nothing but leftover soup), Raditz and Goku found themselves alone on Chi-chi's new back deck. (One of the things keeping Goku busy was catching up on the last two years of projects and maintenance...)

Goku watched his brother. Raditz looked toward the horizon, at the mountains and hills and forest; he seemed to be about to say something several times, and then stopped. Finally he looked at Goku.

"Kakarrot.. why are these things so hard for me, and so easy for you? You seem to know what is right as if by instinct, and just do it--while I had to struggle just to understand why what I did was wrong! Damn it, Kakarott, I think the only good and useful thing I did in my life the first time around was die!" Raditz leaned hard on the new railing of twisted wrought iron, hands gripping it tightly, arms tense.

"Raditz.." Goku looked at his brother, his face unusually serious and thoughtful. "How did you miss learning that murder is wrong?"

"How did I miss that basic lesson?" Raditz laughed bitterly. "You should know enough about us Saiyajin to know that by now! I was taught.. I believed that killing your enemies in battle was right, and that all non-Saiyajin were enemies--if they were even people." He shrugged. "Weaklings were always despised, and weaklings who were different from us--aliens--well.. animals, vermin of some kind is all they were."

"And even if I had believed differently.. like Diive.." Raditz sighed. "You wouldn't know about Nappa's eldest son, Diive. Vegeta would not have told you about him." He looked away, and a certain sadness seem to settle over him like a cloak.

"Diive? Was he a friend of yours?"

"No, he.. died before I became an adult warrior. But we all.. knew." Raditz's knuckles were white where he clenched the railing. "Diive was Nappa's eldest, his favorite and favored son. He was an elite warrior like his father, and led the attack on many tough, civilized worlds, and would handle the surrenders of those we or Frieza permitted to survive as slaves. That's where he got into trouble--he got to know other peoples.. as people. Someone you could talk to, rather than just mowing them down in battle." Raditz smiled wryly. "He committed the cardinal sin of falling in love with a woman who was not Saiyajin."

Goku looked at his brother, questioning. "This is bad?"

"For our ways, our customs then--yes. Remember, we saw non-Saiyajin as little better than animals. I suppose a low-class warrior might dally with some non-Saiyajin female and get away with it--but Diive was a noble, and he didn't stop with an night's pleasure, he fell in love with her, bonded with her, and brought her with him. He rescued the woman and her family and tried to protect them, when the order was to clear her world."

"By 'clear', you mean murder all of them!"

"Yes, I mean exactly that. I think Diive might have gotten away with it even so, except for one thing--he was Nappa's son, and Nappa had enemies. There was a faction that didn't like Nappa or his influence with the Prince, and wanted him ousted--which is another way of saying killed, of course--and their own man to replace Nappa as Prince Vegeta's teacher. Somehow they found out about Diive's indiscretion, and brought the matter before the king, in open court." Raditz bowed his head before continuing.

"It couldn't be ignored then, and the challenge to Nappa was also an challenge to the king, as the conspirators well knew. They probably thought that Nappa would try to defend his son, and the king would be forced to remove--sorry, kill--Nappa to show his power to those who defied his authority." Raditz was grim. "Nappa did what he had to do; he condemned his own son, and carried out the execution himself."

"What Diive did was treason, though now I can finally see that he did it for love and there was no harm in it for the Saiyajin, and he died a traitor's death. Blinded, mutilated, staked out in the desert to die by no man's hand--a slave's death, not a warrior's--dishonored and his name forgotten and cursed. And before he was executed, Diive was forced to watch the deaths of his mate and her family."

He looked away for a moment. "Nappa was never the same afterwards. After that, he led the attacks on the toughest alien worlds, and his ruthlessness was unparalleled, even for a Saiyan...."

Goku shuddered, remembering the huge Saiyan's brutal attacks on Gohan and his friends. "You think you'd have died like Diive if you'd believed murdering people who weren't Saiyans was wrong?"

"I don't know, maybe, maybe not--I'm no noble--but that wasn't the whole reason I told you about him--there is something else I need to understand in all this." Raditz looked at his brother.

"Diive is not in Hell. The 'despised traitor' found a better place in the end, and those of us who learned well the lessons of our race and followed our warrior ideal--we were damned. Kakarott, how did we go so terribly wrong?"

Goku was silent for a long moment. "You stopped listening to your hearts."

"What do you-- oh." Raditz clenched the rail tightly again, almost breaking the wrought iron. No need to ask.. I know, he thought, remembering.

It was his first adult mission, "clearing" a world. The locals had fought bravely, but futilely, their primitive technology and courage no match for Saiyan fury--but they looked far too much like Saiyans. It would have been easy to kill purple sponge-headed aliens or pink lizardoids--they weren't 'people'. But these--too much like Saiyajin without tails. It had been his luck to find, not warriors, but the secret place where they'd hidden their women and children.

When the woman faced him, a woman his mother's age and build, holding in her arms a infant that could have been his little brother, he'd hesitated. His heart, his feelings recoiled from what he was here to do, everything he'd been taught--

--and then the bright flash as the blast came in from over his shoulder, disintegrating them. Sub-Commander Kale (later Commander), the squad leader, glared at him. His face softened for an instant as he saw who it was.

"First mission jitters, kid? Get over it. Remember, once he's found the enemy, a true warrior never hesitates to kill even his own brother. Now get over to quadrant 3, we think there's another nest to clear out."

Raditz had saluted, and complied. The next time, Kale was there watching again, and Raditz just shut out his feelings and did what he'd been sent to do. It became easier and easier over time; every mission, every kill added another layer of armor around his heart.

And yet.. I never enjoyed killing in cold blood. In the heat of battle, yes--I fight without restraint, with all the fury of a Saiyan warrior, dealing death without remorse to those who oppose me-- but there's no.. honor, no joy in slaughtering defenseless victims. I did it for long years and to countless people--but I never liked it. Not like some. It was always a distasteful task, one that had to be done, but not sought after--and never indulged in wantonly.

Kakarott never knew, during my first visit to Earth, how lucky his friends were. I could have killed Kulilin, Bulma, the Elder Roshi, those other strange creatures in the blink of an eye. I could have obliterated all of the towns and cities I flew near while searching for my brother. I did not--because I just didn't want to.

The worst thing I did was try to force my brother to kill them. I knew that after he'd killed a hundred people, felt them die under his hand, he'd have learned to shut away those weak feelings of his, learned to harden his heart. I'm glad, now, that he refused.. I'm glad Kakarott didn't let me make him just like me.

And then that last fight--when I had Kakarott down, at my mercy.. 'A true warrior never hesitates to kill, even his own brother'. THEN my heart rebelled; I could not kill him. I could not stop killing him either--the battle had gone too far, and rage and pride would not allow me to stop or surrender then.

"Raaa-ditz? Chi-chi's not going to like it if you wreck the porch." Goku's gentle rebuke brought Raditz out of his dark spiral thoughts. He was startled to see the wrought-iron rail bent and crumpled in his grip.

"Oops. Sorry." With an effort, Raditz straighted the railing out again. "You were right. How did you know?" He looked at Goku.

Goku looked back, dark saiyan eyes into dark saiyan eyes. The face so similar to his own, just enough different--slightly finer, more delicate features--and a characteristic scowl that Goku never had, and looking out of those eyes, a soul so very different--or perhaps not, Goku reflected. What would he have been, had he not struck his head and lost all memory of himself as a child? Once, at King Kai's, he'd had a vision of himself as a Saiyan warrior, arrogant and sneering. It had chilled him to the soul, and he'd passionately rejected all connection with his Saiyan heritage.

It was many years before Goku realized that King Kai had feared that by training Goku, he might create a far worse threat to Earth and the galaxy than Vegeta or even Frieza--that what returned to Earth might become Kakarott, and not Goku. When he became the Super-Saiyajin.. Goku thought King Kai feared he'd truly become Kakarott. Even Gohan had been shocked by his anger--until he'd experienced it himself. He, Goku, had always been so mild--so few things truly angered him, that there were very few indeed who'd ever seen him deeply angry.

Goku smiled to himself. If they'd only known! There was no Kakarott, no Saiyan warrior lurking in him waiting to come out--the anger was his own. Few things angered him, but the deaths of those he loved always did. Death was the one enemy he couldn't fight in battle, couldn't subdue--though with the dragonballs, sometimes they'd even defeated death. He remembered the terrible, helpless rage that tore through him for days when his grandfather Gohan had been killed. Rage and hate for whatever had killed him (not knowing until years later that he had killed Grandpa himself, as an ouzaru), anger at Grandpa for dying and leaving him, anger at himself for not being there and somehow helping Grandpa, anger so intense that he shook, remembering it.

"Kakarott? What's wrong?" There was an uncharacteristic look of concern on Raditz's face.

"Just memories." Goku sighed. "How did I know? My heart is MY guide; if I did not listen to it, even when crazy Super-Saiyajin.. I would have hurt Gohan, maybe killed him when he disobeyed me on Namek--I was crazy-mad Super Saiyajin, and so worried/angry he hadn't left; Vegeta would've been killed on Earth--and not alive and saving Gohan on Namek; and I wouldn't have let go your tail and given YOU another chance.."

There was no reproach in Goku's voice, but Raditz winced anyway. "Which I promptly blew, and went on to make a complete ass of myself. A dead ass." He looked away.

Goku looked intently at his brother until he looked back. "..and I wouldn't have given you a chance when I found you holding my son Goten up there in the mountains."

Raditz eyes widened in shock. "But I didn't.."

"Yah, I know that now--but then? Big shock, seeing you there, ALIVE, with little Goten in your arms. Brought back nightmares of you with Gohan. Part of me said 'kill, before he hurts Goten'. Heart said 'Goten is happy, Raditz is YOUR BROTHER, give him a chance, maybe some good here'. Good thing I listen to my heart, yes?"

"Uh, yeah." Raditz was still shaken; he managed to smile weakly. "Getting killed twice in one day would have been.. depressing. And I'd have had a hell of a time explaining it to father."

*      *      *      *

The World Tree groaned. Yggdrasil shifted; its third root, sunk in Elivagar's well, was cracked and twisted; it could no longer bear its share of the load. In time it would heal and regrow, but for now--Yggdrasil shifted. The Nine Worlds, bound together by the World Tree, shifted in alignment to one and other; old pathways closed, new pathways opened. Midgard and Niflheim drifted farther apart; Hell and Earth warped closer together.

On Midgard (Earth), an ancient avatar of destruction slumbered deep beneath the ocean's floor. Faint echoes of the World Shift disturbed its endless sleep. One gigantic eyelid opened the merest hair, and slow cold thoughts stirred in the monstrous brain.

"What has disturbed me? Is it the Black Star Dragonballs?" Some time later, more sluggish thoughts trickled through its consciousness. "No, no one summons me. Is it Ragnorak?" The mighty body, long endless coils of draconic might buried beneath all the oceans of the world, shifted and shuddered in the monster's troubled sleep. "No, the Aesir do not stir abroad, and Fenris still groans in his bonds. Something else.."

Jormungund the World Serpent drowsed, still gripping his tail between his jaws, writhing and shuddering in his troubled dreams. The whole Earth trembled.

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[ Contents | XI. Downslope | XII. Dark Heart | XIII. Tremors ]

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