[ Contents | XVII. Revelation | XVIII. Venom | XIX. Serpent of Darkness ]
Modgudh and Kadru were already back on deck when Vegeta dropped lightly on to the deck just aft of the mainmast. The Ferryman looked around, sweeping his muzzle from side to side, making that high chirping sound that only Vegeta's ears could hear. He then looked at Vegeta steadily.
"What do you want?" the Saiyan prince snapped.
"You should not have done that," the Ferryman rumbled.
Vegeta's eyes widened, and he sneered, "Too bad! That damned sorceror--"
"Not him. You--turning into a sun spirit. There will be trouble," the Ferryman growled.
"Huh? What happened?" asked Kadru, puzzled.
"Of course--I go into the bilge for a few minutes, and something interesting happens." Modgudh laughed. "At least there's more fun to come, if our gloomy captain is correct."
Vegeta smirked, and looked sidelong at the Ferryman. "So.. you think the snake will mistake ME for the sun god, and this boat for the solar barge? That's a very stupid snake."
"Sun god takes the same route, same time, every night. Snake still hasn't pulled off a good ambush."
"That's a very stupid snake."
* * * *
"Mama?" Little Goten looked out the window while his mother Chi-chi cooked soup on the old wooden stove in the corner. She didn't use it very often; only times like this, when earthquakes or typhoons knocked out the electricity. Living up in the mountains far from nosy neighbors had many advantages, but one disadvantage was that the Son household was dead last on the utility company's list for getting power turned back on. Chichi was used to getting along without electricity for days or weeks at a time. Losing phone service, however, really annoyed her.
"Yes, honey?" Chi-chi replied absently. She tasted the soup; yes, it definitely needed more leeks. Gohan liked leeks, and he'd be hungry when he got home from school.
"How far are those mountains? Can I walk there?" Goten was worried about something.
Goten was very proud of being three, now, and tried hard to talk like the grown-ups--or at least like Trunks! Goten adored the older boy, and followed him everywhere when he and Raditz visited. He could hardly wait to start training with Trunks!
Chi-chi washed some more leeks and chopped the roots off. "They're several miles away, honey--too far for a little boy to walk. If you want to see them, wait until your Daddy gets home, and he'll take you on Kintouen."
"I need to go now! N'uncle Raditz is hurt," Goten said carefully, looking more worried. "I think he's fighting something bad."
Chi-chi froze and looked hard at Goten. "You aren't going anywhere, young man! If Raditz is getting hurt fighting something, it is far too dangerous for my baby boy! We'll tell your father when he gets home, and he'll take care of it."
Goten pouted, but said nothing. He stood at the window, trying to watch events far beyond his vision.
* * * *
Raditz crashed hard into the ground, flung by Deputy's lashing tail. The pain in his neck was worse, and his right arm was numb from the elbow on down. Blood trickled out of his nose and the corners of his mouth. Above the clearing, the waxing gibbous moon on the horizon mocked him, so near to full, yet not full.
The great demon toyed with him, leaping into the air and coming down with hindclaws extended, just slowly enough for Raditz to dodge out of the way--then he kicked Raditz across the clearing, watching as the saiyan warrior doubled up, coughing blood. Just as Raditz started to get to his feet, Deputy knocked him down, slashing across his chest with acid-slimed talons.
The demon leaped into the air; this time Raditz didn't have the strength left to dodge, and could only watch numbly as the great hindclaws slammed down on his body. The saiyan was mildly surprised; it wasn't a killing blow--the great demon pinned him to the ground, its claws wrapped around his torso.
Deputy bent over and grinned at his prey, pinned beneath his claws like a mouse beneath a cat's paw. The demon licked his long barbed tongue against his teeth and tittered mockingly. Then he lashed out with his poisoned tongue and probed the bleeding gashes on Raditz's chest, lapping up the fresh blood and whatever bits of flesh his barbed tongue hooked.
Raditz convulsed with fresh agony. "Damn you!"
"No," giggled Deputy, pausing in its blood-tasting. "Damned are you." It squeezed Raditz's chest in its massive claws; there was a dull crack and a brief cry of pain as the first rib snapped. "Listen."
"Why should I?" gasped Raditz, fury and hate in his eyes.
"You must suffer and despair before you die," Deputy hissed. "Do you know what I am going to do?" It squeezed his ribs again, snapping another one.
"Kill me?--I figured that part out already." Something about imminent death brought back Raditz's natural sarcasm. "What you're going to do is die when Kakarott catches up with you. Heh."
The demon giggled again. "Son Goku will not be able to find me before he has much bigger concerns!" The demon leaned closer, grinning. "Taste despair at your own failure--dead, you will not stop me from taking the woman Bulma and the child Trunks. Dead, you will not stop my followers from taking the child Goten. Dead, you will not aid your brother when Cacodemon arises to destroy him and the youth Gohan! Dead, your soul will join Vegeta's, devoured to feed Cacodemon's power--your own power used against your brother and nephew! Is that not sweet?"
Vegeta's soul, destroyed?? That cannot be! I met him in Hell! The demon lies! Raditz's eyes widened in fury, and he fought to pull himself out from under Deputy's claws in spite of his agony.
Deputy growled; something was wrong. The prey should be paralysed with guilt and despair, not fighting back in anger! "Fool. You cannot escape me." It tightened its grip, grinning as it felt two ribs snap simultaneously.
"Listen to what I will do with the woman Bulma, now that you will soon be dead and helpless to protect her. Imagine also that her child Trunks will witness, and suffer the same fate--and the child Goten will go to feed the appetites of my demons." Then Deputy giggled, and told Raditz in obscene and horrific detail how he and his broo would torment and destroy the beautiful blue-haired woman and her child.
Raditz was screaming with rage and despair long before Deputy finished.
* * * *
"MAMA!" Tears started from Goten's eyes; he was frantic. "Nunk Rats is hurt very bad, we HAVE to go help him! PLEASE!"
Chi-chi looked at her son; in his panic, he'd forgotten all his careful grown-up speech and grabbed on to her, bawling hysterically.
"I'll call your father; maybe he's close enough to hear." She said, trying to calm her hysterical son. Chi-chi stepped outside.
"GOKU! GOKU, COME HOME! GOKU! ANSWER ME!" she yelled at the top of her lungs. No answer; he was too far away.
Goten followed her outside. "DADDY!" He looked at his mother. "Mama! Can't you go? PLEASE, find Daddy! Nunk Rats won't be fun anymore soon."
Chi-chi nodded grimly. "Wait here while I take care of things." She went inside, banked the fire, picked up a Dragunov heavy sniper rifle, loaded it, and towed Goten with her to the hangar. It only took her a few minutes to fire up the stubby little canard-nosed ground-effect plane, and they were off, searching for Goku.
* * * *
Piccolo looked down to where Deputy was tormenting the helpless Raditz. He snarled, baring one fang; the Namek's keen ears had picked up every detail of the great demon's hideous plans.
"This has gotten a bit too interesting," the turbaned green warrior growled to himself. "I don't give a damn what happens to that wretched Saiyan, but..." He plunged down.
Deputy's massive head snapped up as the white-cloaked alien warrior appeared before him. Its eyes narrowed; the demon could sense some power here, and suspected more that was hidden. "Interloper! This is no concern of yours!"
"Don't be so sure about that. Your plans are a major concern of mine," the Namek stated calmly. "You're done with Raditz; face me now!"
I can't sense the demon's power, but I have watched him fight Raditz--unless he was holding back the greater part of his power, he's a lot weaker than I. Piccolo slid into fighting stance, flexing his muscles.
Deputy eyed him warily. <SCOUT!>
<You did not tell me of a green alien warrior, wearing purple, a white turban, and a white cloak. Tell me of him now, my loyal Scout!>
<Great Deputy! I do not know of this creature--unless he is the entity called Piccolo, of whom the youth Gohan spoke on occasion. I know nothing of him.>
<Useless creature! Go, assist Enforcer in his plans; perhaps you will be more useful to him!>
Deputy cocked his head from one side to the other, looking Piccolo over from several angles. The alien had probably seen him fight, and he was too confident for Deputy's liking. "You are Piccolo. You are not a Saiyan."
"Well, I see news of me has travelled far. Perceptive, aren't you? Now, what are you going to do?"
"Leave." Deputy flapped his massive pinions and rose into the air, carrying Raditz's limp body in his huge taloned foot. "You are correct; I am done with Raditz."
Deputy gave Raditz a final squeeze. caving in his remaining ribs, and snap-kicked, flinging the body into Piccolo's face with considerable force. Instinctively, Piccolo tried to catch the limp form of Raditz; as he did so, Deputy rolled and flitted away with deceptive speed, diving into the irregular valleys and hills.
By the time Piccolo steadied himself, Deputy had vanished into the forested valleys. Piccolo cursed; he was unable to detect the demon, and with no others to assist him in search, there was no way he could find the monster if it was the least bit intelligent--and it had proven itself to be no fool.
"Gone." Piccolo glared at the limp body gripped in his right arm; long hair dangled down. "Damn you, Raditz! Even dead, you're a pain in the ass."
A faint gasp from the seeming corpse. "Not.. quite.. dead.." Raditz's body shuddered; he didn't have the strength to laugh aloud. "Soon... Demon.. poisoned me... Happy now?" A trace of his characteristic sarcasm returned.
"Great. I think I'll let Son Goku deal with your soon-to-be corpse." Piccolo laughed unpleasantly. "It'd be just my bad luck if you lived long enough for someone to get some senzu into you." The green warrior flew toward Goku's house, still carrying Raditz under one arm.
"Yeah.. I.. like.. you.. too." Raditz's pained whisper was only audible to the keen ears of the Namek.
"Do all Saiyans share your delight in talking non-stop when you're dying?"
"Can't.. fight. Might.. as well.. talk... Won't.. make me.. any.. deader... Heh."
"The last time we met, it made you dead sooner."
"Not.. by.. much... Heh." Raditz's body shuddered. "Listen.. you.. heard.. the demon... You.. Kak.. arott.. stop it... Please.." The Saiyan fell silent.
"Raditz?" There was no answer. "Just my luck. Now where's Son Goku--there! Flying this way, fast."
Two shooting stars blazed through the evening sky, just south of the frozen full-moon on the horizon. They blazed larger and larger until Piccolo could perceive two figures in the blazing auras--then they came to halt in mid-air before him -- Goku and Gohan.
Goku looked quizzically at Piccolo. "What happened? Did you and Raditz--"
"No, Son Goku. Two demons attacked Raditz, one large and one small. The large one did all the damage; your brother is badly injured and will die if not healed soon."
"Wh-What happened to the demon?" Gohan asked, wide-eyed.
"I interfered, and it ran away from me." Piccolo did not seem willing to talk further.
Goku took his wounded brother from Piccolo. "Thank you for saving Raditz, Piccolo. I know you don't like him, but he is my brother."
"What are you going to do?" Piccolo asked.
"Take him home, and get some senzu." Goku looked faintly surprised at Piccolo's question.
"After you do, I need to talk to you--the demon is after Bulma, Trunks and Goten. There isn't time for more than that now," answered the Namek.
Goku nodded, and blazed into the distance until he was just a shooting star in the sky again. Gohan stayed to talk to Piccolo.
"There's something you don't want me to know, isn't there?" Gohan sounded disappointed.
"There are some things I don't want ANYONE to know until I've talked it over with Goku," Piccolo replied. "Even he doesn't need to know all the details. Some details should never be known by anyone," he concluded, anger on his face. "Keep an eye on your little brother; tell your father I'm going to check on Bulma and Trunks."
* * * *
<Scout! Enforcer! Prepare our followers--I will be initiating them on the next night!> Deputy advised the sub-demons. <All is in readiness?>
<Yes, Master> answered Enforcer. <Already my sorceror goes about his task. He is the best of the lot; bestow your mark and favor on him.>
<If he accomplishes this task, he will have great favor indeed!> Deputy was pleased; all was according to plan.
<Great Deputy! I await the opportunity,> hailed Scout.
<See that you do not miss it when it appears!> snarled Deputy, displeased with Scout on general principles.
<Yes, Great Deputy!>
* * * *
"You see, Oshimu, your lackwitted compatriot did do one thing useful," Voron noted as he held up a plastic card to the light.
"What's that?" the burly thug in the black commando-style shirt and fatigues asked.
"He grabbed a mid-level in the security department--which means WE have all his security passes, keys, and IDs. Keys to the kingdom, my lad, keys to the kingdom." Voron laughed unpleasantly, and pulled the plastic card through the electronic lock with a flourish.
With a buzz and a click, it opened, admitting Voron's team to the ruins of the Capsule Corp compound. The team spread out, each going to their assigned position; Oshimu stayed close to Voron. Both carried air rifles and air pistols of unusual design.
Voron concentrated a bit, then smiled. "Good. Whoever's in charge of security is either inexperienced, or short-handed--they're guarding the attractive areas for looters instead of securing the perimeter. This is going to be easy, gentlemen--but do stay alert!"
It was easy--Voron simply walked up to the front door, waited while Oshimu turned off the alarm and oiled the lock, and turned his stolen master key in the lock.
PFFT! PFFT! One heavy dart from the rifle for the child, one small dart from the pistol for the woman and it was done. Bulma and Trunks were in the hands of the enemy.
* * * *
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER XIX. SERPENT OF DARKNESS
[ Contents | XVII. Revelation | XVIII. Venom | XIX. Serpent of Darkness ]
Disclaimer: See Credits.
Copyright 2000 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 8, 2009