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Let it be noted that part of this story overlaps with events you probably saw on TV (or read in the manga)... but tells it from a slightly different point-of-view. Some of the people in Nappa's past have been previously mentioned: Diive in Chapter 12 of "Mythic Descent" and Rashi and Diive both in Hyper-Angel's story "Closer to the Heart".
It was a short message, barely more than a few words interspersed with noise on the hyperwave channel--a terribly short message to signal the doom of a world.
The Marshal of Vegetasai pulled his reluctant hand away from the scouter's transmit button. With an odd detachment, Nappa noted that his hand was shaking. How strange. He shook it, and tapped the scouter again; where in all this chaos was the prince?
The massive Saiyan tapped twice more on the scouter, opening a channel to Vegeta. "Prince Vegeta, do you read me?" he asked, his voice carefully impassive.
"What is it?" answered the prince, sounding bored.
"We've just received a message from Lord Frieza."
The Marshal of Vegetasai was a Saiyan, and not just any Saiyan--he was an elite warrior and a noble. Centuries of tradition dictated that an elite showed no passions except anger at his enemies and pleasure in their destruction. Even then, extremes were disdained; extremes suggested lack of control, and lack of control was a weakness. But within... Nappa felt nothing at first, not even anger; just numbness, as if all the words were meaningless sounds that had nothing to do with him.
"Vegetasai has been destroyed by a rogue asteroid." Nappa paused, listening the young prince.
They were all dead, all but the merest handful of Saiyans. The last of his sons and daughters were dead because of a cosmic accident. The king to whom Nappa had sworn his oaths on bended knee was dead. Centuries of tradition and history had been blasted to crumbled rock and dust. Vegetasai was gone.
In later years, Nappa questioned the truth of the accident: how could a rogue asteroid that was large enough to destroy his world remain undetected before it just happened to collide with Vegetasai--less than a day after the King resolved to defy Frieza over Prince Vegeta? But that was many bitter years later; now, he only knew that his entire people had died a shameful death, caught unawares by a mindless force of nature like some peasant in the field. It was no way for a warrior race to end!
"And?" Prince Vegeta answered with a tone of "Why are you bothering me with this?"
Nappa continued, "Including us, there are very few survivors."
For the first time, he found consolation in Rashi's death, for his wife had died in battle years ago, the way a warrior should. He hadn't been numb, then--he'd felt her die, felt the blast that had torn her nearly in half, felt her spirit slip away from him. He'd felt rage and despair and emptiness, then--and hidden it away, keeping always the stern, impassive face of the Marshal of Vegetasai.
Col, his third son, had died in battle just a few short months ago. He, too, had been fortunate. There was no such consolation in the memory of his first son, Diive, so many years ago--better that he had died with his brothers and sisters under the asteroid than to die a traitor's death. To condemn one's own son to death for treason was a bitter thing. Bitterer still had been his favorite son's curses when Nappa killed the alien woman and child that had led Diive to his dishonorable fate.
Wretched vermin! He'd remembered them every time he ordered a Saiyan purging crew to a new world. Sometimes Nappa regretted the efficiency of his own people; the vermin always died much too quickly. They should nave suffered more.
Nappa took cold satisfaction in Latta's death; that she-viper died a peasant's death with the planet, and may Hell take her for the part she played in Diive's treason! She'd betrayed her favorite brother for one reason alone: he was Nappa's favorite as well, and there was nothing she hated more than her father. But the others... Chishan didn't deserve that death, nor did Apio, nor Kimchee, nor Zukini, and Trigo may have been a young fool, but he deserved at least a warrior's end. Not this!
General Nappa--no, he was not a general, for there were no warriors left to command, and he was not Marshal, for there was no king and no kingdom any more. What, then, was left? He would ask himself that many times during the coming years.
For now, his duty was to the last of the royal line of Vegetasai, and whatever the young prince should command. Though the world had ended amid ashes and despair, honor remained, and honor was a stern commander. He would not falter; Nappa was an elite warrior of the nobility, as his father before him and his fathers before him; there was no other possibility.
"And?" The young prince answered with cold indifference.
"Uh, nothing in particular. That is all." The older warrior's blood chilled; in Vegeta's voice he heard not the stoicism of tradition, but true indifference--the young prince cared for no one and nothing beyond his own quest for power. If he had become king...
No. Vegeta was his prince, and Nappa's duty was to the prince, no matter what. Vegetasai was gone, but there would be survivors, those who had been purging planets or in space at the time--they would rebuild, and Vegeta would be the king of a new dynasty on a new world someday. For now, it was Nappa's duty to make sure the prince survived to become king.
* * *
It was late, almost midnight by the ship's clock, but still Prince Vegeta stood watching the stars through the ship's main observation bubble. Nappa waited patiently beside the door for the Prince to grant him his attention. At last, the haughty young Saiyan tore his gaze away from the observation bubble long enough to acknowledge the giant Saiyan with a glance.
"What is it, Nappa?" he said in bored tone of voice.
The former general bowed to his prince. "They've found a survivor, Your Highness. He's just been picked up, and I've given orders for him to report as soon as he's presentable."
The boy prince frowned sulkily. "How strong is he?"
"He's supposedly a Royal Guardsman--that means he's at least first-class." Nappa remained impassive, but his frustration grew. Over the weeks since the destruction of Vegetasai, reports of "few survivors" had become "no survivors"; until today, it had appeared that the two of them were the only Saiyans left in the universe--and all young Vegeta cared about was how strong the survivor was! Damn it, didn't the prince give a damn about the survival of his own race, and his duty to what was left of his people??
The door chimed.
"Let him in," Vegeta said, sounding even more bored than ever.
The door slid back, and in stepped a tall, young--barely out of adolescence--Saiyan warrior. A wild crest of hair rose from a sharp widow's peak and cascaded down his back under its own massive weight; it brushed the floor as he knelt on one knee before his prince.
Nappa started inwardly; this warrior's hair was so different from that auburn crest, and his face was delicate and pretty where Diive's face had been strong and sharply cut, but this young warrior had the same tall, rangy, muscular build, long tail and unscarred good looks that his son had had. Nappa's memories of his oldest son nearly betrayed him; fortunately the former marshal was looking at the newcomer and away from Vegeta. Only the newcomer noticed the surprise that flashed across Nappa's face.
"Guardsman Raditz reporting as ordered, Your Highness."
* * *
A month later, Raditz was in the tank for the fifth time. "Your Highness, why don't you spar with me for a while; Raditz is no challenge for you," Nappa said, trying to keep any semblance of pleading out of his voice. Vegeta had savagely beaten the adolescent Saiyan again, careless of Raditz's relative weakness compared to himself.
Vegeta sniffed. "Quit whining, Nappa! Of course he's no challenge--he's weak, with a power level less than 1000. I will make him stronger or he will die--he's useless if he stays weak."
"Vegeta! There are only three of us left--even a weak Saiyan is worth something! He's not all that weak for a Saiyan warrior; he's just not an elite."
"Anyone who cannot survive is worthless," said the young prince coldly. "The Saiyans of Vegetasai were not strong enough to survive--even my father was not strong enough!" At the shocked look on Nappa's face, the boy prince frowned. "Get your head out of the sand, Nappa--only power matters! Take care of the weakling as you see fit, and make him strong." Prince Vegeta pointedly turned his back on the massive Saiyan.
"Thank you, Your Highness." Nappa bowed and hurried off, heading for sickbay and the regeneration tanks. He was worried about Raditz; the young warrior had gone from relief at being rescued and finding other Saiyans to a dark, bitter moodiness. He spoke only when directly addressed, now, and he fought like he'd forgotten how--or like he didn't care.
Such negligence had almost cost Raditz his life at Vegeta's hands; the first time they sparred, the young prince mistook carelessness for contempt and decided to pay back Raditz for his insolence, slowly and painfully. Every bone in the warrior's arms and legs had been broken by the time Nappa intervened. Nappa still didn't know what had driven him to stop Vegeta; he'd had no intention of risking his life against the power he feared most in the universe for the sake of one half-dead common warrior. That was the first time Vegeta put Raditz in the tank, and Nappa had ended up in the tank next to him.
A few minutes later Nappa bellowed at a slimy purple alien medical technician, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, HE'S NOT HERE?"
The alien cringed, terrified by the angry, bellowing Saiyan. "Raditz-san was released from the tank less than an hour ago, Nappa-san. Perhaps he has returned to his quarters?"
"Bah!" Nappa snapped disgustedly, and backhanded the alien across the room as he stormed out.
Out in the corridor, he stopped and activated his scouter. Nappa's head turned slowly as he scanned the ship, looking for Raditz's power level. There! Power level 992--the boy had gone up a bit from Vegeta's beating... but what was he doing on the lowest deck of the ship?
Nappa hurried down the corridor toward the nearest lift, trying to figure out what was significant about the second cargo deck. It was small, cramped, badly lit, one lift shaft, one airlock, out of the way--a good place to avoid the rest of the crew, Nappa supposed...
* * *
The airlock's inner hatch was open. He found Raditz leaning against the airlock bulkhead, staring out the porthole in the outer hatch. Tense fingers gripped the opening lever and released it; the stout metal bar was twisted and dented from Raditz's grip. The lock controls had been torn open and wires hung loose.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, you stupid punk?" Nappa snarled.
Raditz turned his head slowly to look at him; Nappa grew angry at the emptiness in his eyes. This was no way for a Saiyan warrior to be!
"What do you think, General Nappa?"
Nappa almost flinched at the mention of his old title; then he nodded at the wrecked controls. "Something too stupid to be Saiyan. Trying to override the interlocks? They'll only seal off the deck when the pressure drops." He growled, fighting the impulse to grab Raditz and slam him against the bulkhead repeatedly.
Raditz sighed tiredly. "I haven't tampered with the interlocks; I cut the alarm to the bridge."
"You stupid fool!" Nappa growled, a low, vicious sound.
Raditz looked up at that, startled. Nappa grabbed him by the front of his armor and slammed him hard against the bulkhead. The young Saiyan's eyes rolled up as his head bounced off the hard metal surface and his teeth crashed together, nearly biting off the tip of his tongue. Blood trickled down one corner of his mouth.
"You are a Saiyan warrior!" Nappa snarled. "A warrior of the proudest, deadliest race in the universe! Where is your pride, boy? A Saiyan never surrenders, never gives up, never gives in!" His backhand blow caught Raditz across the jaw and bounced him off the outer lock.
Raditz coughed and spit out blood. "What race, Nappa? Look around; the proudest race in the universe is DEAD! Vegetasai is GONE, and the Saiyans are nothing but dust!" He crouched in a fighting stance. "What good is pride now?"
"While the three of us live, the Saiyan race lives, boy!" Nappa growled, crouching in fighting stance himself. "This is no death for a Saiyan; if you're in such a hurry to die, die with the death screams of your enemies ringing in your ears, and the taste of your life's blood in your mouth! That is the way a Saiyan dies, Raditz--not alone, and NEVER without a fight!"
A dangerous light entered Raditz's eyes. "You are right, Nappa--not without a fight!" he agreed. He wiped the blood from his face, then lashed out with a sudden kick to Nappa's midsection.
The giant warrior blocked Raditz's strike with casual ease, and returned the strike. Raditz crashed through the airlock's side bulkhead with a screech of rending metal; water poured out, flooding the cargo deck.
"Idiot. That set off the bridge alarms," the long-haired Saiyan hissed as he pulled himself painfully out of the breached interhull water tank.
Nappa's fist caught him just under the ribs, and Raditz doubled up, retching. He looked up to see the power gathering in Nappa's hand.
"Too bad for you--I'll kill you myself rather than let Freiza's lackeys see what a fool you've made of yourself," Nappa snarled in Raditz's face. "Are you going to let those scum laugh at a Saiyan dying a coward's death? ARE YOU?"
Raditz laughed bitterly. "They already laugh at us, Nappa--the deadly Saiyans, wiped out by an asteroid! They snicker whenever they see Prince Vegeta, the Crown Prince and Heir, kneel before Master Frieza; and they laugh like damned demons to see the former Marshal of Vegetasai bow to Zarbon and Doddoria!" Raditz drew in a painful breath. "We only have enemies left, Nappa, enemies too powerful to fight. Even if we had the power to kill them all, everything worthwhile is still gone."
Nappa doused the gathering energy, and instead thrust his sneering face into Raditz's. "What was worthwhile for you, boy, beyond brawling, eating and wenching? You're a low-born, common soldier; you never had lands and clan and position to lose, boy. You stupid fool, you're whining about losing what you never had." He punched Raditz in the face; blood gushed from the younger Saiyan's nose. "Well, there's plenty of fighting still, and you aren't starving, and there's more important things than whether or not you get laid." He backhanded Raditz again. "You say you were in the Guard, boy--you miss the part about duty and honor? Death's easy, boy; honor's harder, and duty is the hardest of all."
"What honor? No one knows or cares." Raditz's voice was low and bitter. "Who is our duty to? The prince? He serves Frieza, and will never be king of our dead world. And I will die by my own hand before I give honor and duty to Frieza!"
Nappa stepped back and folded his arms, glaring at Raditz. "Honor isn't given to you by others--it's inside, boy. It's what you know about yourself, about what you know you are supposed to be, even when no one is looking. How the hell did you manage to finish training without knowing that?" he growled. "Now you tell me what you know about the 'honor' of what you're doing now."
Raditz muttered something Nappa couldn't hear, and the giant scowled. "I didn't hear you."
"I said, it's dishonorable--dishonorable and cowardly." Raditz snarled at Nappa, "That's what you wanted to hear, isn't it? I'm a dishonorable coward as well as weak!" Again, he laughed bitterly. "The proud Saiyan race would be better off without me. Just ask Prince Vegeta; I'm sure he'd agree with me."
Nappa kicked Raditz's legs out from under him and then slammed a knee into the younger warrior's back. Raditz groaned as his ribs cracked under the impact. Nappa knelt on his back and grabbed a handful of hair, yanking Raditz's head up and back. His lip curled up in disgust. "You will speak of the Prince with respect, boy. You don't know your duty, either, so I'll tell you again: your duty is to Prince Vegeta. He is your ruler, and the oaths you swore to the king belong to him, now. He says whether you live or die, not you, because your life belongs to him. He is Vegetasai! Do you understand, boy?"
Raditz hacked and spit blood across the deck. "I hear what you are saying."
"But do you understand, boy?" Nappa yanked his head back again, and ground his knee into Raditz's back, catching the young warrior's tail between his kneecap and Raditz's spine. What would it take to get through to this thick-headed young fool?
Raditz shrieked and thrashed helplessly as Nappa crushed his tail again. Finally Nappa shifted his weight, and Raditz collapsed, panting hard.
"I.. understand," he gasped. Nappa released his hair, and Raditz's head dropped to the deck with a thud. He lay unmoving for several minutes. Nappa lifted himself off the battered youth and stood, looking down at him. "Why you keep calling me 'boy'?" Raditz finally asked as he got his hands under his body and pushed himself up to his knees. "I'm adult, and I was sworn into the Guard!"
Nappa snorted. "When you act your age, boy, I'll call you 'warrior'. Until then, you have the name you've earned--boy." Taut muscles relaxed the merest trifle; a crisis point had passed, and the older, more experienced warrior knew it as he watched Raditz struggle to his feet.
Raditz's sharp ears picked up the whir of the lift at the far end of the cargo hold at the same time Nappa's did.
"Company coming." A ki blast destroyed the airlock controls and a chunk of the bulkhead besides. "Now, what were we arguing about to cause all this damage?" Raditz smirked, a expression made grisly by the blood covering his face.
Nappa lunged, and caught Raditz in the ribs with his elbow, sending him crashing into the nearest pile of cargo. "I was chewing you out for being so weak and sloppy with the prince; I've seen infants spar better than that!" Nappa snarled. "One more thing, boy--who were those scum who dared to mock the Prince? Was it Doddoria or Zarbon?"
"They don't lower themselves to talk to me," Raditz panted, staggering to his feet again. "It was the soldiers."
"Stronger than you?" He feinted at Raditz's midriff, then clipped Raditz on the jaw again.
"No." Raditz stayed down this time, rubbing his jaw as a trio of brightly hued aliens rushed up, yelling indignantly.
Nappa smirked. "You know what to do, then--warrior."
"Hey! You can't fight down here, that's what the training rooms are for, who's going to fix all this damage? What the--"
Raditz pulled himself to his feet and glared at the smaller aliens. A ball of energy formed in his hand, and Raditz flung it at the alien who'd spoken. BOOM! The unfortunate alien slumped against the wall in a smouldering heap.
"Anyone else got a complaint?" Raditz smirked that dangerous Saiyan smirk.
"Ah, no, we'll just clean up when you're done, okay?" The loudest of the remaining aliens backed quickly away.
Nappa smirked as the aliens backed away from Raditz. Yeah, the boy's remembered he's a Saiyan warrior. He'll do. He's not Diive, he'll never be Diive, but he could have been one of my other sons: Chisan, Col, Apio or Trigo--well, not Trigo, even Raditz has more sense than Trigo had...
* * *
Twenty-four years later Raditz knelt before his prince--and dropped a bombshell. "I found out where my little brother was sent; there's a chance Kakarott survived."
"What??" Prince Vegeta looked sharply at Raditz. "How? All the offworld Saiyans were accounted for, and no one who was on-planet survived."
Raditz still knelt before Vegeta. "Kakarott was sent off in his capsule shortly before the catastrophe--there were no offworld records, except by accident. No one saw anything important in those records until I came across them." Raditz shrugged.
Nappa scowled; he understood the boy's hope, but it just wasn't realistic. "In twenty-four years he never signaled for pick-up? He's dead."
Vegeta frowned at Raditz. "How old was your little brother?"
Raditz's fingers flexed. "Less than a year old," he rasped.
"As I thought--a weakling. Too feeble for even the common soldiery, so he was sent off to a weak planet. Feh." Vegeta sneered. "Nappa is probably right; and even if he's wrong, Kakarott would be too weak to be of use."
"Vegeta, he's still a Saiyan," Nappa growled. After twenty-four years, hope of reviving the Saiyan race had long since died--yet Vegeta's contempt goaded Nappa into contrariness. If even one more Saiyan was alive, that was one more warrior, and where one had survived, perhaps more--perhaps even a woman might have survived, somewhere! It wouldn't hurt to check; couldn't Vegeta see how important this was?
Nappa noticed the stricken look that flashed across Raditz's face. This is personal for the boy, he thought. Nappa still thought of Raditz as his boy, though the long-haired Saiyan was a good fifteen years into his fighting prime as a warrior--and he would have long since taken a mate and sired children in the normal course of things. He'd grown into a strong and capable warrior, though Nappa wished he'd learn to hide his feelings a little better. Raditz always had such an open face; Nappa sometimes felt embarassed for the boy, always revealing his emotions to anyone who watched him.
He was embarassed now; Vegeta had also seen the unhappiness on Raditz's face.
Vegeta smiled cruelly. "You can go... but only if you come back with Kakarott."
"But... what if he's dead, or--" Raditz protested.
"--Make sure he's not," Vegeta said with that same cruel smile, "or you'll be a deserter." With a wave of his hand, the former Crown Prince dismissed Raditz from his presence.
As the door closed behind Raditz, Nappa had an odd feeling of foreboding, like he was about to lose another son.
* * *
Nearly a year later, Nappa sat beside a campfire feasting on the half-cooked carcass of some insectoid creature, listening to the drama unfolding on the scouter's hyperwave channel. He stopped eating, and all but held his breath as the last frantic shouts echoed in his ears--then the sickening howl of a high-energy ki blast. The mighty Saiyan's appetite suddenly vanished as he watched the telemetry readings plummet like a stone, and heard those last, agonized words. Finally---
"Raditz... is dead," Nappa informed his Prince, his face impassive. My boy is dead, he thought. They're all dead. I've lived too long; a man should not outlive all his children.
Vegeta spat out a chunk of shell, and bit off another hunk of the chitinous creature. "He deserved it... killed by power levels barely over a thousand."
A sense of failure weighed on Nappa. All these years... I taught him nothing. Vegeta chose a different path, Frieza's path. Only Raditz listened to me all these years, and...
Nappa's great fingers flexed, but he managed to keep his voice neutral. "We can leave this planet for later," he hinted. No matter how weak you thought he was, Prince Vegeta, Raditz was a Saiyan. He must not lie unavenged! Did I at least teach you Saiyan honor?
"Hmmm..." Vegeta said thoughtfully, chewing the gristly foothand of the insect thing. "These 'dragonballs' sound intriguing... make any wish come true."
The prince stood abruptly, his decision made. "Let's go."
Nappa was careful to keep the relief off his face. "To bring Raditz back to life?"
Vegeta, Prince of the Saiyans, looked scornfully at Nappa. "Get real. That would be a waste of a wish; we're better off without him. Instead, how about immortality for ourselves? No death, no aging, only an eternity of combat!" Vegeta smiled evilly.
Nappa always excelled at hiding his true feelings; an eternity of hopelessness and grief, of broken pride, of empty honor and meaningless duty? Nevertheless, his response was truthful:
"Ah..! Now that's a wish!!"
* * *
Just before the pod's hibernation systems kicked in, Vegeta remarked on the power of Raditz's attackers. "The child's power was impossibly high for a Saiyan child."
Nappa growled into the communicator. "Raditz's scouter was malfunctioning!" The very idea of a hybrid Saiyan-alien child revolted him. Such things weren't possible!--Yet, if they were...
"I don't think so, not with the amount of damage Raditz suffered from that one strike," mused Vegeta. "It seems that mixing Saiyan and Earthling blood begets a powerful hybrid."
Nappa folded his arms and swallowed the bitter words that he wanted to scream at Vegeta. His duty was more important than his hatred; Prince Vegeta had noted the obvious, and was finally seeing his duty. When the giant Saiyan spoke, his words were calm and reasoned.
"A Super-Saiyan, eh? So if we spawn a flock of them ourselves, we could build another Saiyan Empire!"
Vegeta's answer was cold and crushing. "Don't be stupid! Do you want a lot of ingrate brats running around with powers greater than ours? We must exterminate all life on Earth!"
Nappa's hate burned hot in agreement: destroy the world that killed his boy, and murder the race that had seduced Kakarott the way that other race had seduced and destroyed his son Diive! Another part of Nappa, the part that had held to duty and honor for so many years, in the face of losing everything, turned cold and empty; Vegeta hungered only for his own power, and cared nothing for the Saiyan race, for his people.
"Oh. Right." Nappa answered.
I tried to teach him the traditions of a dead race, and the duties of an prince without a kingdom; Frieza taught him power and fear. Vegetasai is forgotten dust, while Vegeta kneels before the Horned One's throne every day. How could I compete with Frieza? Despair and darkness closed in on him as the pod's hibernation system finally activated.
* * *
One year later, Nappa smirked evilly as the green alien greeted them.
"Let's make this clear: what exactly do you want here?" asked Piccolo.
"Ah, that voice... it was you who killed Raditz, wasn't it?" observed Vegeta in that deceptively gentle voice of his, the voice of a cat toying with its mouse.
"Voice?" answered the green creatures, surprised. There was something familiar about the color and shape--Nappa had seen his kind before.
"Didn't Raditz tell you?" Vegeta asked in mock surprise. "This," he indicated his scouter with a finger, "also serves as a transmitter."
"He's a Namek," Nappa observed.
"Looks like it. Not so strange that Raditz was beaten, then," allowed Vegeta.
A queer sense of relief ran through Nappa--Raditz had not fallen to a dishonorably weak enemy. A Namek warrior was a worthy opponent; there was no longer any shame in Raditz's defeat. His boy had died well, fighting a stronger warrior--and he would be avenged.
Nappa amused himself with thoughts of revenge while Vegeta tried to find out if the Namek made the dragonballs, and the other Earthling babbled uselessly. Which one would he kill first? The kid, or the Namek, or the babbler?"
"...You know about the dragonballs?" The small babbling one gaped.
"Why else would we bother with this dump?" Nappa sneered. Earth really was a valuable planet, but the giant warrior was not going to let the vermin get inflated ideas about themselves. "Hand them over!"
A belated thought occurred to him. They probably thought Vegeta was hesitating because the prince feared the Namek! That was unthinkable.
"Bring on all the Nameks you can find!" Nappa challenged. "They're just slugs to us!"
"...alas for me, however, I did not make the dragonballs. My speciality.. is combat!" Piccolo hissed at Vegeta, crouching in a fighting stance. "As you will see. Now, who is a slug?"
Vegeta looked bored. "If you won't tell us where the dragonballs are, we'll just have to beat it out of you."
Nappa watched his scouter's power indicator with contempt. What did these vermin think they were challenging? "981.. 1220.. 1083.. FOOLS! Do ya really think you can beat us with power levels like those?"
Vegeta pursed his lips. "Nappa, take off your scouter."
"What?" the giant said, rattled. He was even more startled as Vegeta removed his own scouter and dropped it.
"These scum vary their power numbers to suit the battle. Those numbers are meaningless."
"Yeah.. that's right." Obediently, Nappa removed the scouter. So that's what happened, Raditz--you got careless, depending on your scouter. Nappa smirked evilly. These dogs are cocky, now--they killed a Saiyan, and they think they're tough. Let's rattle their cages a bit.
"That weakling Raditz probably got himself killed because he depended on the scouter's numbers--and got caught off guard." Nappa sneered.
Oh, that got them! It was worth it, the insult to his boy; the vermin weren't so cocky now. They didn't run, but Nappa was satisfied for the present. They'd learn to respect Saiyan strength yet.
If only Vegeta hadn't smirked with such satisfied contempt when Nappa called Raditz a weakling...
* * *
The cultivars were dead. One--just one!--of the arrogant Earthlings was dead, though his death shook up the vermin. Oh yes, they were finally beginning to understand Saiyan might.
"Let me do it," Nappa requested his prince. "I'll kill all five of them at once."
Vegeta smiled with amusement. "As you will."
At last! The giant Saiyan braced himself, and raised his power. As the earth shook, dismay filled his enemies, and a fierce delight filled the huge warrior. Nappa would show Raditz's killers the true power of a Saiyan elite--and they would pay for his boy's life!
Two more of the vermin died fighting Nappa--strangely, the weakest one did the most damage. Nappa's armor was blown apart and his back singed by the self-destructive blast of the white child-thing--but he survived, and the tiny horror was blown to oblivion. The three-eyed alien had been shaken, and had attacked wildly, uncaring of itself, spending its very life to kill Nappa.
It had failed. Nappa smirked triumphantly--until the Namek grabbed his tail. A vicious, vulgar tactic--and one that Nappa was ready for, having woven a ki-shield around the vulnerable appendage as a matter of course. Did these fools really think a veteran like Nappa would make the same stupid mistake Raditz had? He slammed his elbow into the Namek's skull, crumpling the rubbery dome and slamming the creature into the ground.
"Bah! Not even the toughest guy on this planet can survive one punch," Nappa growled as Piccolo collapsed to the ground. "Well, if he's gonna take a nap, I guess I have to play with his little friends." Nappa laughed cruelly, stalking past Piccolo toward Kakarott's terrified son.
"You're Kakarott's son, you've got Saiyan blood in you, too. Give me a real fight, brat." Nappa growled as Gohan cowered. This pathetic creature nearly killed Raditz by himself? Bah! Raditz's scouter must have been broken. He would enjoy killing the brat--slowly. The brat's terror delighted him; the creature was frozen in absolute panic. Nappa wanted much more than that; he wanted to feel the child's bones break in his hands, and he wanted to hear the brat scream himself hoarse in pain and fear before Nappa finally burned him to ash.
"Heh. What a father you've got," Nappa sneered, "leaving his little boy to die."
The brutal kick sent Gohan arcing high into the air, only to be met by Nappa's follow-up strike, which sent him hurtling through the air to slam into a nearby rock formation. The child slid limply to the ground.
"Hey, don't die yet! I want to play!" Nappa mocked. This has only just begun, brat. Don't you dare cheat me of my revenge by dying this easily!
Gohan twitched, and slowly pulled himself to his feet, coughing blood and dust. He swayed on his feet, gasping for breath--and something was different. The wide-eyed, frozen panic was gone; in its place, anger gathered.
In spite of himself, Nappa grinned. The boy was a Saiyan, after all! "There you go--fight like a Saiyan!" Nappa lunged forward with a sudden burst of speed, closing for the kill. "AND DIE LIKE ONE!"
"YOU BASTARD!" With unexpected speed, the small bald Earthling slammed into Nappa, kicking him in the jaw with all his strength. His follow-through sent Nappa careening across the battlefield...
The fight continued, though Kulilin's ki-enzan nearly finished it--only Vegeta's warning shout saved Nappa from beheading. Piccolo's blast finally cracked Nappa's defenses, enough to hurt and enrage the huge warrior--then everything stopped.
"Wh-what? A tremendous power approaching from afar!" Piccolo exclaimed.
Battered Gohan looked up. "I feel it, too. It's huge, but it's familiar!"
Piccolo smirked, baring sharp fangs. "At last--it's him! SON GOKU IS COMING!" He snarled. "I should have known that fool would make us wait!"
"Daddy! Daddy's coming! Hurry, Daddy!" Gohan shouted.
Nappa paused, too. Had his enemies all gone mad? "Kakarott? Where?"
"Interesting. They seem to have the power to detect ki," Vegeta commented as he picked up his scouter. "Let's see..." There was a beep as Vegeta turned it on.
Vegeta's eyes widened; for the first time in Nappa's memory, the Saiyan prince was speechless.
"Vegeta! Are they telling the truth? I hope they are. Heh." At last, he would get his hand on the traitor who'd betrayed his own kind, preferring alien weaklings to his own brother!
"I don't know if it's really Kakarott," Vegeta said slowly, "but whoever it is will be here in four minutes--with a power level of five thousand!"
Nappa's jaw dropped. "Five thousand? That's impossible! It has to be a mistake! Your scouter is broken!"
"It may be," Vegeta mused. "These fools seem to be able to vary their power level, so... five thousand could be just for starters."
Nappa suddenly felt light-headed. It was impossible! Before the prince's birth, Nappa had been the second strongest Saiyan on the Vegetasai--only the king had been stronger--and he was the strongest Saiyan ever born outside of the royal family! There was no way some low-class soldier's brat could even come close to Nappa's power--no way at all!
"Heheh. I do believe your partner's actually worried," said the insidious Namek.
Vegeta clenched his fist. "NAPPA! Kill those two NOW! Their help could actually make Kakarott a challenge--but their corpses will shake him up!"
"But--the dragonballs? How will we--?" Nappa was bewildered; the dragonballs had been Vegeta's goal from the beginning!
"Never mind that! We don't need them!" Vegeta snapped. "I never believed the legend of the Namek Power Spheres, but if Kakarott has returned from the dead, then it's true. There must be more dragonballs on the slug's home planet--a little rampage on Namek would be a lovely way to wind down after the destruction of Earth, don't you think?"
"I still say your scouter's broken; Kakarott can't be five thousand--but's it's a good enough excuse to start the killing!" snarled Nappa. Finally, he could send that damned Namek to hell and avenge his boy!
"Piccolo--you've got to run!" Gohan shouted. "I'll hold 'em somehow until Daddy comes! If you die, then Earth's Kami-Sama will die, and the dragonballs!"
"Feh. Don't be ridiculous, boy. You can't hold them alone," said Piccolo, an odd smile on his face.
An old memory suddenly flashed across Nappa's mind, a memory of a younger Raditz standing over his wounded body and screaming at him to get to his pod, that he'd hold off the bastards long enough for Nappa to get away! He'd said much the same thing to Raditz those twenty years ago: Don't be a fool, boy! You've a tenth of my strength on your best day, and you think you'll hold off something that knocked me down?
"So," Nappa smirked evilly, "the little lad's going to hold me, eh?" He charged. "DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!"
The brat hit him. The blow slammed Nappa's jaw around with neck-wrenching force, and sent him crashing into a nearby mesa. This was the power that nearly killed Raditz--no, much stronger. This blow would have killed Raditz instantly. The brat was strong, far stronger than any Saiyan child had ever been--except for one. That one was Prince Vegeta.
NO!! No filthy half-breed alien could equal the power of the greatest Prince of the Saiyans! And no worthless half-breed whelp was going to kill his boy and draw his blood without paying in full. Power crackled around Nappa's hand as he drew it back, readying for the attack.
"DIE!!" The bolt of white energy flashed from Nappa's hand toward the half-alien whelp. Nappa could see the terror of death in the vile little brat's eyes, just like he'd seen it in the eyes of those others, the lavender-hued bitch and her whelp, who'd seduced and doomed his son Diive...
SHKOOOOM! Nappa's eyes widened; at the last instant, the Namek leaped into the path of his attack, blocking the deadly blast from harming the brat. Nappa grinned as the scorched Namek staggered and fell, cooked alive by the deadly blast.
"Piccolo?" Gohan staggered to his feet, pleading. "Why--why did you save me?"
"Run... G-go... han. H.. hurry." Piccolo gasped.
"P-please! Don't die, Piccolo! Daddy will come soon!" Gohan begged, crouching next to the dying Namek warrior.
"Idiots--making me kill them in the wrong order," Nappa snarled. "Oh well, it all ends up the same." The giant Saiyan watched the brat crying over the fading warrior with disgust. The half-breed was completely corrupted--crying like a weakling over this alien scum! Raditz had been a fool to risk himself over the brat; there was nothing Saiyan about it.
Piccolo breathed his last, and Nappa smirked in satisfaction. Raditz's killer was dead; his boy would have company in hell.
Then the child screamed. "YAAAA! NOOOO!" Vegeta's scouter beeped in warning as Gohan's power skyrocketed and the boy howled in pure Saiyan rage--
--"Power twenty-eight hundred!" the Saiyan prince exclaimed.
Nappa grinned, his eye alight with the fire of battle. "Twenty-eight hundred, eh?" Maybe Raditz wasn't such a fool after all. The brat's got the power of an elite Saiyan--but not elite enough.
With a shout, Nappa caught Gohan's powerful blast--a blast that would have vaporized Raditz and all six of the cultivars--and bounced it away. It exploded, making yet another huge crater in the battlefield.
"Heh. That actually stung a bit," Nappa said, still grinning. "Not bad, for a shrimp." The boy was shaking, barely able to stand. What the--?
"His power dropped all the way down," Vegeta observed, answering Nappa's unvoiced question. "It seems he used it all up just now."
"I'm sorry, Piccolo," Gohan whimpered, collapsing to his knees. "I.. I couldn't beat 'em for you. I c-can't even run away anymore."
Nappa laughed cruelly as he advanced on the helpless child. "I can't wait to see Kakarott's face when he finds his son crushed to a pulp!" This is for my sons, brat--and you'll die far easier than Diive did.
The blow never landed.
* * *
It was shameful enough that that low-class traitor brother of Raditz's fought him to a standstill... but then Vegeta called him off, in public, in front of non-Saiyans! No! Not after two decades of swallowing his pride, of bending his knee to that monster Frieza, of enduring the mockery of Frieza's syncophants--he would not yield to these weaklings! He would show them the price for mocking a Saiyan warrior, and his sons would be avenged!
"Curse you... curse you to hell, boy," Nappa growled, a vicious, hate-filled sound, "for making me surrender your execution to Vegeta." He flashed a brief, cruel grin. "Heh. You'll be damned sorry it ever happened. There's a reason he's named after Vegetasai itself. I'll leave you to him because he ordered me to--but I won't be satisfied with leaving things as they are."
No matter what else happened, the brat would die. Nappa did not see Raditz's nephew; he saw a soft-hearted, weak half-breed, the child of the soft-hearted traitor Kakarott and some weak Earth woman--just like the soft-hearted, weak alien woman and her cursed child who had corrupted his son Diive, making him soft-hearted and turning him against his own kind... Because of her, Nappa had put his favorite son to death as a traitor; because of her, his beloved Rashi died offworld, far from his arms; because of this brat, his adopted son Raditz died uselessly on this weak, soft world. Damn them all, damn them all to Hell!
Nappa charged for the brat and the bald midget, readying his deadliest ki blast--
--Kakarott broke his back.
Humiliated and defeated, his broken body flung at Prince Vegeta's feet, Nappa could only beg for help, like the lowliest, most dishonorable weakling of a last-class soldier. His Saiyan pride and honor were both gone; the only thing left was his duty to his Prince... if only Vegeta could get him to his capsule, on life support, back to Base 79, a tank would fix everything, he would not fail in his duty!
He reached eagerly for the proffered hand, willfully ignoring the cold contempt and rage in Vegeta's eyes--
--and realized, too late, as Vegeta flung him high into the air that he had truly and completely failed in his duty--for the prince cared nothing for Saiyan honor.
An instant later, there was nothing left at all.
* * *
"Nappa? If you could have any wish granted, what would you wish for?"
"Raditz? RADITZ!! Where have you been? They said you were alive, but I didn't believe it. I knew you were gone like Bardock and Sullion and Kale..."
"Bardock is gone?!? Yes, he would be... Nappa--I am alive."
"You're alive? What are you doing here?"
"I'm not exactly here, and you're not exactly there. I needed to talk to you; I need to know about the wish. Just don't ask for all Vegetasai back--I already tried that. It didn't work."
"You're alive... and you have the Dragonballs? You could make any wish! Why waste your wish on me?"
"It's not a waste."
"You're alive, Raditz! Use the wish to give yourself a real future!"
"Heh. I don't need to; I already have a future, a good one. Tell me your wish; I can't stay here that long."
A long silence. "I think my wish has already been granted."
A sharp Saiyan smile. "Don't tell me that was your only wish, Nappa. I know you better than that."
Another silence. "Let me talk to him. I don't know where he is, or how, or if he'll even listen to me, just let me talk to my son again. Let me talk to Diive."
Disclaimer: See Credits.
Copyright 2000-2005 by Dragoness EclecticLast Updated: Mar 9, 2009