[ Contents | XVI. Aftershock | XVII. Revelation | XVIII. Venom ]
Raditz blasted through the sky toward Son Goku's house in the mountains. He took no notice of the natural beauty all around and below him; his thoughts were elsewhere.
Her heart belongs to Vegeta--I could hate him for that, for meeting her first.. only he didn't. I met her first, on that tiny island--yet another wonderful chance thrown away by my own stupidity. Damn, damn, DAMN!
I want her--gods, I desire her!--but it would be just plain WRONG. Even I know that. We Saiyajin had that right, at least--stealing another man's mate is just plain wrong. And seducing my prince's consort.. I have no word for the depth of betrayal and evil in that!
For my sake, for her sake, I can't stay near her--but I have to! I'm sworn to protect her! I can only hope that Kakarott is wiser than I; I can't see a way out of this tangle.
A flash of something yellow caught Raditz's eye. Welcoming the distraction from his own tormented thoughts, he looked--there it was! A familiar mottled yellow and brown winged shape flying just above the treetops--the dinosaur-demon called Sekko-Ma!
Raditz grinned fiercely as he turned and dove toward the demon. "You picked the wrong day to find me, demon! Hell, any day would be the wrong day for you!" He rocketed down, battle-lust singing in his heart.
* * * *
On the Stygian Nile...
The only sound was the creak of the steering oar as the great black boat floated down the dark waters. Her single black squaresail was furled; no breath of wind disturbed the Fourth Hour of Night. The Ferryman leaned but lightly against the oar; this stretch of the Twelve Hours of Night was calm and gently flowing.
Vegeta lounged against the gunwale, affecting a air of complete boredom while watching and listening, alert to everything around him. Kadru and Modgudh were out of sight, stashing the junk they'd collected from the serpent-men in the bilges for some stupid reason. Vegeta didn't really care why, but he did appreciate that they were out of sight and out of his hair for the time being.
"Hmmm.. interesting," the Ferryman observed. Mighty thews flexed as the dark boatman swung the steering oar over.
Prince Vegeta dropped his air of boredom. Anything that interested the Ferryman, interested him. "What now?"
"A new ghost. Wants a pickup. Hmmph. Probably running from those krjalk demi-gods that barbecue sinners along this stretch."
"What is so interesting about a new ghost in the underworld? Have people suddenly stopped dying since I left Earth?" Vegeta scowled.
"Hmmph. They stopped coming here millenia ago--since anyone last followed the gods of old Khem. Egypt, you foreigners call it. Looks noble, too." The Ferryman bared sharp teeth and tusks in his version of a smirk.
The black boat's prow bumped gently against the bank; the ghost floundered awkwardly aboard. He wore tattered yellow robes and the charred remnants of a leopardskin cape; he had the high features and sharp nose that Prince Vegeta had seen adorning every royal scuplture and wall painting along the Twelve Hours. Unlike those impassive sculptures, this face was set in a scowl, and angry frustration flashed in his dark eyes. Something, demon or beast-god, howled in the darkness beyond, and the Ferryman quickly sculled his boat off the bank, back into the current.
"Took you long enough," the ghost snarled. "They nearly had me. Damn them all!"
The Ferryman rumbled mildly, "Some say patience is a virtue; it serves me well. Some also say beggars can't be choosers; I know kindly Ra would not have offered you a place on his barge. You stink of evil; you avoid the Devourer only because Anubis cannot find one improperly laid to rest."
The ghost glared at the Ferryman, and at his only visible passenger. The dead prince regarded him thoughtfully, arms folded. "The good Ferryman tells me that none have come to this underworld in over two millenia. Who are you, and why are you here now?"
"Only Osiris may know my True Name, and I come here after five thousand years--I, who was a prince of Khem, Adept of Thoth, immortal, undying, master of spirits--I am brought low by the ignoble whelps of a bestial race." His face was terrible to see. "I know their names, and the names of their fathers, and from the Abyss I will curse them as only the dead can curse-- Such woe and grief will I bring on Gohan, son of Goku; Trunks, son of Vegeta; Bulma, consort of Vegeta and mother of Trunks; and Raditz, brother of Goku, that they will beg for death and curse the day of their birth. I will bring upon them--"
"--Will you? I think not!" snarled Prince Vegeta, as his hair flamed golden. Vegeta was on him in a flash of golden light, slamming his good hand into the ghost's breast and seizing his heart. The Saiyan pulled the sorceror up to his face.
The dead sorceror stared at Vegeta in astonishment and horrified recognition. "YOU! You are the brat's dead father!"
"So you're the 'bad one' Gohan and Raditz killed!" Vegeta smirked. He snarled suddenly, "THEN WHY CURSE MY MATE AND CHILD, YOU TRASH??" The dead prince squeezed the sorceror's heart in his hand.
"AHHHHHH!" The ancient sorceror gasped in pain. "You damned beast-spawn! You dare--" His anger was choked off by a moan of agony as Vegeta gave another squeeze.
"Answer the question, filth!" Vegeta growled.
"She made the wish.. summoned that damned spirit warrior Raditz.. wasted MY wish from the kami of the spring.. coerced the kami into betraying ME, the disloyal wench! The child slew my fairest Ochimo, the Ochimo of Air.." The Opawang gasped in pain as Vegeta's grip shifted.
Prince Vegeta smirked, plainly pleased. "He did, did he? Well, he is his father's son!"
The Opawang's face writhed with hate. "Too late for them!" He shrieked. "Even as I was slain and dragged below, I called on the Child of Chaos to fulfill our pact! I will be avenged; the whole world shall be my funeral offering!"
"Oh, really?" Vegeta's voice was oddly calm; turquoise-green eyes regarded the sorceror cooly. The corner of his mouth turned upward, as if he smiled at some private jest. "And why do you think Raditz or Gohan will not destroy this 'Child of Chaos'? They killed YOU-- 'immortal' and 'undying' you called yourself, did you not?"
"Fool! Why would I make such a pact with something no stronger than myself? I am NOTHING compared to the Spawn of Wakboth! I gained such power as to be worth any cost--what care I if Chaos devours the world after I am slain? I am done with the world, and it with me--but my vengeance shall shake the very heavens!"
Vegeta's eyes widened with startled understanding, and still further with rage, and he rose into the air above the ship, still carrying the dead sorceror. "WHAT DID YOU DO, YOU BASTARD??"
The Opawang's laugh was cruel and ugly. "I opened the way to the living world for the Child of Chaos; my price was power and vengeance! It is bound to fulfill my death curse, do what it will with the rest of the world!" He lowered his voice almost to a whisper, cutting with cold contempt, "and I see the demon-god has begun well--in slaying YOU, he brought woe and despair to your wench and your bastard brat!"
With a scream of rage, Vegeta plunged downward, still holding the damned sorceror. At the last moment, he veered toward the shore, and flung the Opawang down to smash into the river bank amidst a group of lion-headed gods and naked goddesses. The sorceror hit hard, very hard, digging a crater several feet deep.
Prince Vegeta hovered above, watching, as the naked goddesses waved long bronze knives and descended on the stunned Opawang, hacking and chopping him. A cold smirk spread across the dead prince's face as the vengeance goddesses carried the Opawang away, in chunks, to the firepits that burned eternally along the shore.
"Now, demon, I know your reasons! Soon.. I'll have your secrets-- and your life!" Vegeta laughed wickedly.
* * * *
Raditz laughed as he snapped his fist out in a hard blow below the creature's ribs; at last, a decent fight!
It dodged. As before, the demon moved with incredible swiftness, and lashed out with the great gutting claw on its foot. Raditz blocked it with a mocking laugh. He blocked the second kick.
"I know your tricks, demon! You're fast, but not strong!" Raditz snarled. He drew one hand back; a ball of light began to form.
Scout's head snapped back; his neck frill flared. Warned by the demon's moves, Raditz dodged, leaning his head to one side as the demon spat its sticky green venom past his ear.
The ki ball was almost fully charged; Raditz tensed his arm--
--and something slammed him brutally in the back! He lost control of the ki ball and it flew off to detonate harmlessly against the ground. Raditz himself was hurled down to crater into the ground. As he hauled himself out of the dirt, something broad whipped around from behind and caught him just under the ribs, sending him hurtling past a monstrous winged form and smashing through several trees.
Raditz tumbled and pulled himself out, gaining control of his flight through the forest. He flew up, above the treetops; his opponent was there to meet him.
"What the??" This wasn't any dinosaur!
Huge, blatantly male gargoyle body the size of a very large house, leathery wings, long supple tail, powerful hindlegs tipped with great claws, long sinewy arms ending in razor-clawed hands, a head like some monstrous horned dog with bat ears and jagged, venom-dripping teeth, baleful red eyes--head, arms and torso covered in mud-slimed fur, bare wings, fine scales on the hind legs and tail.. Deputy grinned at Raditz, showing all of his teeth.
"Now," it said in a basso growl, "you die."
"Heh." Raditz sneered in contempt. He rocketed down and around--the great demon shifted slowly to face him. Raditz smirked; the thing was much slower than he was! Probably weaker.. Raditz suddenly realized with some consternation that he could not sense the demon's power. It wasn't low--it just wasn't there! Hidden power; maybe a lot of hidden power. He grinned again; this was going to be a good fight!
"HAAAAI!" Raditz dove in, slipped under a wing, and hammered on the thing's side just under the ribs. A flurry of blows, and the demon arched its back--
WHAMM! The leading edge of the nearest wing cuffed Raditz on the side of the head, knocking him away. He shook his head, slightly dazed. How'd that wing move so fast?
Flapping wings behind him--Raditz dodged Scout's clumsy attack; as usual, Scout dodged Raditz's counterpunch.
"You should have stayed away!" Raditz growled as he charged up a ki ball in his hand again. This time, he dodged Deputy's blow to his back--and flung the ki ball into the great demon's face.
BOOM! Deputy yowled, a harsh metal-scream sound, and shook his head from side to side like a dog with a noseful of cayenne. His facial fur looked singed, and it smoked.
Scout's ineffectual kicks raked Raditz's back, but his defense kept them from doing any real damage--though he'd need a new jacket. Tiring of the dinosaur-demon's nonsense, Raditz suddenly snapped a hand back and grabbed the creature's right foot; his shoulder muscles tightened as he heaved the beast over his shoulder and into Deputy's face.
Deputy batted his servant aside, and hissed. The smaller demon blinked, and dove away, twisting and turning as it skimmed the treetops, heading away from the fight and toward the city.
"Now it's just you and me, ugly," Raditz said, a fierce grin on his face, and a fiercer joy in his heart. He dove at the demon, doubled his fists, and slammed the side of the demon's hideous jaws hard enough to snap the creature's head to one side. He followed up with an overhand blow to the thing's head--
It laughed at him. Deputy turned his monstrous head back to face Raditz, showing no signs of injury.
"Now it's my turn." His jaws opened wide and vomited fire at Raditz. The Saiyan warrior's eyes went wide just before the blast of fiery ki hit.
When the smoke cleared, Raditz was still there, hands crossed over his face in a ki block. His clothes smoked and smouldered. "I should have worn armor," he muttered. "A scouter might have been smart, too."
Raditz dodged the demon's razor talons, block, block, counter-strike, strike... no good. His best blows weren't doing enough damage to this monster. He rocketed up and away from the demon, ki beginning to glow in his hand.
With slow flaps of his ponderous wings, Deputy rose to meet him.
"Perfect.. hold that pose just a bit longer.... HAIIIII-YA!" Raditz hurled a brilliant white bolt of ki down into the demon's face--
--and Deputy flung up one taloned hand and batted it away. A flash of aura--
He does have a lot of power! Raditz realized. I still can't sense it for some reason!
--Deputy again vomited out a fiery bolt of ki. Raditz blasted back; the two beams of ki met and splashed, a fierce battle of wills and power. Inch by inch, Raditz's beam smashed its way down the stream of contending ki, pushing the demon's fire back and back.
Deputy spasmed, coughing up another, larger gout of fire that surged up the beam, pushed back, and devoured Raditz's ki blast as it exploded in his face. Raditz barely managed a block; the force of the blast tossed him through the air. He barely regained control in time to land.
His jacket was gone, blown to shreds and his jeans were torn and tattered. Raditz pulled off the burnt rags that had once been a shirt, uncurled his tail and switched it from side to side, then curled it about his waist again.
"Now I'm getting angry," the long-haired Saiyan growled. He screamed as power began to seethe around him. The ground shook, and small pebbles and twigs rose into the air as the warrior gathered power.
"Fool." Deputy landed nearby. "I am the spawn of Cacodemon, Child of Wakboth the Devil. You are NOTHING!"
With a harsh screech, it leaped into the air, coming down to attack Raditz as he gathered the last of his power in. Raditz dodged the clawed foot, smirking--but Raditz never fought Frieza or he would have been more careful--
--of the tail! Deputy's tail whipped forward and smashed into the side of Raditz's head, twisting it around with neck-popping force. Raditz was flung back and away by the blow, crashing to earth like some discarded rag doll flung from the window of a passing car.
The Saiyan warrior staggered slowly to his feet; stabbing pain in his neck told of damage done. Probably cracked a few vertebrae, he thought. He spat out blood and a broken tooth, but carefully refrained from shaking his head to clear it of the confusion and blurriness.
Deputy landed behind him and lashed out with glistening razor-sharp talons. Raditz screamed as the talons raked his back; an acidic slime glistened wet on the demon's talons, a slime that entered the talon wounds and ate at his flesh, blistering and dissolving it before being diluted and washed away by Raditz's flowing blood.
Great chunks of black hair fell to the ground, sliced away by the demon's talons. Raditz tried to dodge before the next blow hit, but the demon's damned tail swept his legs out from under him. He fell face down, and rolled quickly over, just in time to avoid the demon's clawed hind foot slashing down.
He rolled again, and grabbed the monster's tail. Raditz smirked as the demon arched his tail and snapped him off, high into the air--it was exactly what he wanted! He gathered ki; energy crackled and glowed in both hands.
Deputy flapped up towards him again, red eyes glowing. "Come on, you bastard.." Raditz muttered to himself. "Hurry it up!" The big Saiyan felt the warm blood still running down his back from the festering talon wounds; he was already starting to weaken. "I was saving this one for my next spar with Kakarott--your luck to get to see it first!" He grinned as the energy built up in each hand.
Then Raditz saw what he'd been watching for: the demon's neck muscles bunching, getting ready to vomit out fire again.
"MAN-KI-BATSU!" Raditz brought both hands together in front of him--a brilliant white flash, and a tremendous beam of white ki edged with incandescent purple slammed down into the demon's face, catching Deputy in his open jaws. The demon's own fire exploded in his face, and the great demon was flung back and down as Raditz's beam blasted through its mouth and out the back of its neck, burning the flesh from its skull in its searing passage.
Raditz landed gently, chest heaving with the exertion. Across the newly made clearing, the fallen demon sprawled atop the trees knocked down in his crash. Raditz's neck hurt, and by sheer will he shut out the screaming agony of his back. The breeze was cool on his bare, blood- and dirt-streaked chest.
"I got you. It took everything I've got, but I got you, you son of a bitch!" Raditz smirked--
--and Deputy got up.
Raditz's eyes went wide; the demon's terrible neck wound was closing before his eyes; the half-charred skull rippled as flesh crawled across it, regenerating.
"Oh, crud. A regenerator... and I've got nothing left."
* * * *
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER XVIII. VENOM
[ Contents | XVI. Aftershock | XVII. Revelation | XVIII. Venom ]
Disclaimer: See Credits.
Copyright 2000 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 8, 2009