a rewrite of an older tale by Dot
Part Two: Interrupted
“Hey, Goten!” Trunks clapped a hand on Goten’s shoulder. “Glad to see you’re still in one piece.”
Goten didn’t bother to look up. “She didn’t yell at me, or even raise her voice.”
Trunks’ eyes widened. “Woah, that is pretty scary.”
Goten shrugged. “I guess, but right now I’m more relieved that she isn’t harping about my supposedly dismal future every time she sees me.”
“But you’re still grounded indefinitely, right?”
“Do you even have to ask?” Goten shifted his weight so that he could more adequately shoulder the burden he had placed on himself. “At least it’s only two more years before I graduate.”
Trunks wondered if Goten read from any of those books or if it was just all show to placate his mother. Goten was far from being as much of a slacker as he was, but he couldn’t imagine his friend burying his nose in, say, A Brief History of The Universe. He patted the thick, bulging pack. “Hang in there, buddy.”
“Thanks, I think.”
And then they parted ways, causing no end of speculation from those that saw them do so.
< - >
Trunks shook his head and sighed as he observed the spectacle going on overhead. Doesn’t Dad ever learn? He sighed a second time as he trudged towards the house, steeling himself for the tirade that his mother would no doubt dump on him. Here we go again.
Bulma was, indeed, at the door waiting for him. As Trunks feared, she seemed to be on the verge of exploding, or at the very least using him as a giant box of tissues. It was not until he drew closer and she failed to acknowledge him by calling out his name, bursting into tears, or clutching at him with surprising strength that he realized she was starting at something behind him.
Trunks turned to look as well and felt his blood run cold. He’d heard enough about what happened before he was born to recognize that armor, that tail, and that arrogant sneer.
“Whatever you do, Mom, don’t move,” he muttered just loud enough for her to hear as he shifted into a defensive stance. He darted a glance towards his father’s direction. So they’ve noticed. Good.
Goku landed between Trunks and the stranger, while Vegeta positioned himself on the other side.
“I’m not in any mood to deal with random strangers showing up in front of me, much less a Saiyan.” And then, as if to emphasize his point, Vegeta raised his energy profile so that he was only one flash of anger away from going Super. “So I suggest that you get out of my sight quickly.”
Trunks had to suppress a laugh. His dad not interested in fighting? He was sure that nobody who knew anything about Vegeta would buy such a bluff.
The Saiyan must have had a similar opinion, having failed to look impressed or frightened at Vegeta’s display. “Random? Hardly. We go way back, you and I, but I suppose I shouldn’t have expected you to remember. You never did care very much about anyone other than yourself.”
Trunks’s jaw almost unhinged. If this Saiyan was as familiar with Vegeta as she claimed, then must either be brave, stupid, or just plain nuts. Vegeta’s temper may have mellowed out over the years, but his ego had not, and the last Trunks checked Vegeta was not given to ignoring such a blatant display of disrespect.
And yet Vegeta made no move, although Trunks was sure several veins in his father’s forehead became more visible. Perhaps he recognized that she was baiting him. “So what makes you think I’d want to recall the insignificant presence you had in my life, if any?”
The Saiyan’s head shook. “You haven’t grown up at all. How utterly disappointing.”
Trunks tensed as the Saiyan walked forward. Why wasn’t Vegeta or Goku doing anything?
“You seem awfully calm about all of this,” the Saiyan remarked, stopping next to Goku. “What if I suddenly decided to blow this place to smithereens?”
“I think if you really wanted to, you would have already.” Goku smiled at the Saiyan. “Now, then, why don’t you introduce yourself, so we can be friends?”
This time, Trunks chortled. Leave it up to Goku to attempt defusing an explosive situation like that.
Vegeta, on the other hand, was not amused in the least. “Your head seems to be especially empty today, Kakarrot. Can’t you tell I’m trying to get rid of an unwanted pest?”
For the first time during the entire conversation, the Saiyan turned to look at Vegeta. “Come now, Veggie, don’t tell me that’s the best you can do.”
This time, Vegeta charged, but his fist swung through empty air, and Bulma held her hands over her ears as what sounded like a whip crack echoed in the space where the Saiyan had been.
Goku concentrated and frowned. “She’s gone. I can’t find her any where.”
“I can see that for myself,” Vegeta ground out between clenched teeth.
Bulma let out the breath she had been holding and fanned herself. “I must be getting old,” she remarked. “I can’t stand this kind of excitement any more.”
Vegeta allowed himself a small smirk. “Says the woman who repeatedly exposed herself to danger for curiosity’s sake. But don’t worry. Even Trunks could take on that Saiyan, if things came to that.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Trunks demanded, feeling his face flush. “I exercise.”
The next thing Trunks remembered happening was Vegeta moving almost too fast for him to see. After that, Trunks found himself sailing through the air, his cheek throbbing. It was about then that his instincts kicked in and he managed to roll as he hit the ground a good four or five feet from where he had been standing.
Vegeta relaxed his fists and dusted off his hands. “Those pathetic routines you dare call ‘workouts’ don’t cut it against an opponent who’s trying to kill you.”
Bulma sighed and put a hand to her forehead, as if she could block out the rest of the world, or at least her migraine- inducing husband, that way. “Vegeta.”
Even the otherwise oblivious Goku seemed to be aware of some transgression on Vegeta’s part. “That wasn’t very nice.”
Vegeta shrugged. “It proved my point, didn’t it?”
< - >
Goten plugged his headphones into Trunks’ Walkman—on indefinite loan until his mother broke down and got him one of his own, or hell froze over, whichever happened first—and began scanning the radio stations until he found something to his liking. In truth, the song was awful: the man sung as close to monotone as the simple melody allowed and the guitar backup consisted of a few basic cords strummed over and over again like some summer camp counselor whose entire musical training was “Guitar for Dummies”.
What had caught Goten’s attention were the lyrics.
o/ The roof, the roof,
the roof is on fire.
The roof, the roof,
the roof is on fire.
We don’t need no water
let the motherfucker burn— o/
“Burn, motherfucker,” Goten sang along with the music, letting it wash over him. “Burn.”
< - >
“You look bored. Care for some company?”
Goku turned, not stopping his practice routine. The Saiyan that had shown up at Bulma’s house now sat behind him perching on a stout branch, her tail swishing behind her. (At least, Goku thought the Saiyan was a girl. He could never tell very well, and he doubted she would let him use his sure-fire method for determining things like that.)
She jumped down, landing in front of him. “Well?”
Her stance was relaxed, almost playful, and Goku could find no trace of animosity within her. And he was hoping that someone would spar with him.
He smiled at her. “Okay, sure.” He held out his hand. “My name is Son Goku. What’s yours?”
She studied his hand with a somewhat puzzled look for a moment before imitating his gesture. “That’s a secret for now. If I live long enough, I might tell you.”
< - >
“We need to talk.”
Vegeta froze and groaned to himself. He was hoping to avoid those four words, but far be it that Bulma should ever forget to pester him about something, this in particular. Even after all these years, he remembered the horror stories Yamcha told him. Sure, the other man was quite drunk at the time and the raw emotions of being dumped made him a bit prone to exaggeration, but he knew by now that there was a considerable grain of truth in those tales.
He stayed neared the window, not looking back, wondering how mad she would be if he just made his getaway then and there. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Oh, yes there is.” The tone in Bulma’s voice seemed to suggest that she had made it so, just by ordering it.
Vegeta bit his lip to keep himself from smirking as he found himself thinking that she would have made an excellent Queen. He coughed to cover the chuckle that threatened to escape. “Like what?”
“Like that Saiyan.”
And now begins the Inquisition, Vegeta thought, steeling himself. “What about her?”
“Who is she? Why does she claim to know you?”
Something in Bulma’s voice suggested that her anger was not about a potential rival, but her third, unspoken question: And why didn’t you ever tell me about her?
Women were strange like that sometimes.
< - >
Trunks wiped the condensation from his face and once again checked his reflection. The bright red welt was finally starting to fade, and to his relief, no uglier purple bruise was rising to take its place. He would have rather skipped school than walk around the halls sporting the results of Vegeta’s latest “object lesson” and having to endure the whispers and stares he would get.
But I guess I am kind of out of shape, he thought, sighing. Especially compared to how Dad carries on.
Not that he’d ever care to live up to Vegeta’s expectations, of course. But neither did he wish to be groomed into to take Bulma’s place, which was what she seemed bent on accomplishing. He much preferred to find his own direction, which according to the “wisdom” of his elders would consist of a lot of frustrated and fruitless wandering only to discover that the answer was right under his nose all along.
Trunks put the ice-pack onto his cheek again and closed his eyes, trying to visualize himself according to his parents’ desires.
Prince of the Saiyans?
CEO of Capsule Corp?
Some odd amalgamation of both? (He had to laugh at that one. SaiyaCo? No doubt the cold was getting to his head.)
Or was he meant to be someone else altogether?
< - >
Goku’s face was starting to hurt from all the grinning, but he couldn’t help himself.
“Glad to see you’re having so much fun,” the Saiyan called as she eluded a fireball and returned with a volley of her own shots.
Goku deflected first few, flipped over some more, and caught the last between his hands. “Uh huh! This is just like a game!”
She landed on the ground, allowing her ki to disperse. “Then let’s play a different one, with everybody.”
Goku did likewise. “Everybody?”
“Anybody that’s a strong fighter.” She smiled. “The more the merrier.”
“No problem! I’ll bring Vegeta, and Gohan, and Trunks, and Goten too!” Goku put two fingers to his forehead and began to concentrate. “Be right back!”
< - >
Gohan exchanged worried glances with his brother. “What’s going on?”
“I dunno, Dad just showed up, grabbed my hand, and here I was.” Goten sighed. “Mom’s gonna kill me if she doesn’t find me in my room.”
“This is the chick that showed up at our place earlier today,” Trunks whispered, indicating the Saiyan who stood on a medium-sized rock. “Wonder what she wants with us.”
“I suggest you explain yourself quickly,” Vegeta said to the Saiyan, crossing his arms.
“Yes, I doubt your puny attention span could keep you awake for the whole history lesson,” the Saiyan replied, smirking. “So I’ll give you the abridged version.”
Vegeta did not react in any detectable manner, but Gohan felt his own body begin to tense nonetheless. There was something unsettling about the otherwise relaxed way the Saiyan carried herself.
The Saiyan sat down and crossed her legs. “Many generations ago, the Saiyan were embroiled in conflict with their former raiding partners and distant cousins, the Suponjians. The Saiyan had the advantage of strength and numbers, but the Suponjians had the advantage of technology. For one hundred years, the tides of the war blew hot and cold depending on how aggressive each side felt and the balance of see-sawed back and forth until that fellow’s grandfather—” And here she indicated Vegeta with the steel tip of her right boot, “—sold the Saiyan into servitude under Freeza in exchange for his help. A small group of Suponjians managed to escape the ensuing massacre, and as you can imagine, they haven’t been to happy about it ever since .”
Vegeta scowled. “So they’ve tracked down the descendants of their enemies, and are swearing revenge?”
The Saiyan shook her head. “Not just revenge. This is a couple centuries worth of deep, intense hatred we’re talking about here. They won’t be satisfied with anything less than total and complete annihilation. I’d call it ‘genocide’, but there really aren’t that many of us left anyway.”
“That means they’ll kill you, too!” Goten exclaimed.
The Saiyan shrugged. “Of course. That would only be fair.”
“So why are you helping them?”
The Saiyan smiled again, but the mirth didn’t reach her eyes. “I have my reasons.” She returned to her feet. “Anyway, to reiterate in case you missed it, the Suponjians would like all of you to die. Whether this is voluntary on your part or forcefully implemented is up to you. You have thirty days to think it over.”
“I don’t need thirty days,” Vegeta declared, going Super Saiyan. “Here’s my answer right now!”
“Vegeta, don’t!” Gohan heard Goten shouting as Vegeta fired a huge blast of energy at the Saiyan. “We can still talk this over!”
“There is nothing to discuss,” the Saiyan answered as she whipped out what looked like a flashlight. She pointed it at the beam of energy heading her way, and in the blink of an eye it had disappeared into the device.
Vegeta growled something and was readying a second shot when Goku put a hand to his shoulder. “So if at the end of thirty days, we don’t surrender, we have to fight?”
“If you would like to. You can also try running away, if you wish. In the end, it’ll all be futile.”
“We’ll fight,” Goku declared, all business now. “We won’t give up, even if things look hopeless.”
“Very well.” The Saiyan jumped off the rock and launched herself into the air. “I will relay your decision to the Suponjians.”
Gohan watched her go. “Now what?”
“We wait, of course,” Vegeta answered, lowering his ki back to normal levels and pulling Goku’s hand away. He grinned, baring his fangs in a wolfish manner. “And then we play.”
< - >
“Don’t be angry.”
Chi-Chi bit her lip to hold back a bitter laugh. Angry? Angry didn’t even begin to describe how she felt. “Why would I be angry?”
She had to look away as Goku called her name. He was being so serious, so mature, the husband that she thought she could only dream of having. And yet she always dreaded it when he used that tone of voice.
And there it was again. She forced herself to face him, keeping her face impassive. “Yes, dear?”
“It’ll only be a month. And Goten can still go to school if you want him to. And we’ll try our best to make sure nobody dies.” He grinned. “Besides, there’s always the Dragon Balls.”
No. He was not going to put her through this farce any more. “And you always do what you want anyway.”
A puzzled look came across Goku’s face. “But, Chi-Chi, I just want you do understand—”
“I don’t, and I don’t ever want to!” Chi-Chi tore herself away as Goku tried to embrace her. “How could you, Goku? It’s bad enough to watch you flirt with death, but Gohan and Goten too!”
Goku became even more bewildered. “But being dead isn’t bad.”
Chi-Chi had to suppress a scream. “You still don’t get it? They’re you’re children, too, Goku! Your! Children! You’re supposed to protect them so that they can grow up and have a peaceful, normal life!”
“But they’ve already grown up, and things have been pretty quiet.” Goku frowned. “Or are you talking about something different?”
Chi-Chi felt herself deflating as Goku’s question caught her off guard. “I—I don’t know.”
< - >
After picking up her daughter from day care, Videl came home to a scene of absolute chaos. It looked like a tornado had passed through their tiny apartment and dumped the entire contents of their closet onto the floor. Meanwhile, Gohan buzzed about, piling clothes into a suitcase that seemed on the verge of bursting. “What in the world are you doing?”
Gohan kept packing. “We’re moving back in with my parents.”
Videl’s hands tightened around her daughter’s small body. “What?”
Gohan gave an abbreviated account of what had happened earlier. “And that’s all we know for now, so I’m preparing for the worst.”
“So, safety in numbers, huh?” Videl asked, trying to keep her voice at a reasonable level. “What happens if your mother and I kill each other before these sponge-people beam down and wipe us off the face of the Earth?”
Gohan sighed, stopping to address Videl face-to-face. “She’s my mother, Videl. She’s overprotective of me because she cares.”
“And she doesn’t think I can ever be as good as her. In her eyes, the only decent thing I’ve done since we got married is give birth to Pan, and sometimes she doesn’t even give me credit for that. I’m not going back, and that’s final.”
Gohan looked at his wife, at the piles of clothes everywhere, then towards the ceiling, and back again. “What about the Briefs, then?”
< - >
Trunks wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry as he discovered the real reason his father took to leaving scorch marks in the Capsule Corporation’s lawns: Bra had converted the gravity room into her own personal doll kingdom.
“Oh, hi, Trunch,” Bra greeted without looking up from her royal duties.
“That’s ‘Trunks’, squirt. Tra-unks.” Trunks frowned as Bra giggled at his exaggerated pronunciation. “Ha, ha, hilarious. Do you know where this is?”
“Course I do. This is daddy’s special room. He let me borrow it.”
“Yeah, right. Pops just didn’t have the heart to throw you out.” Trunks picked up one of Bra’s pink-haired denizens and shook it in a threatening manner. “But since I’m mean and nasty—”
At once Bra became a blinding mass of golden fury. “You put Sasha down right this minute!”
Trunks was so surprised that he almost dropped the cloth-stuffed hostage, but came to his senses and set it down with care, patting it on the head. Bra was otherwise such a typical little girl that he often forgot she was still his sister and therefore inherited both of his parents’ genes and tempers. “Okay, okay. Geez. I was only kidding.”
In the same space of time that she had ratcheted up the stakes, Bra was back to ‘normal’ again, tending to her subjects. “Close the door when you go, okay? You’re letting all the magic out.”
Complying, Trunks turned around—and almost walked face first into Vegeta. “Oh, sorry, just on my way elsewhere.”
“You’re not going anywhere. You two—” and here Vegeta gestured to both him and Bra, who had risen to attention in the mean time. “Need to get yourselves as ready as thirty days are going to allow.”
Bra had all the solemnity a child of her age could muster. “Am I in trouble, Daddy?”
Vegeta entered into the chamber and ruffled Bra’s hair. “Not from me or Mommy. Remember what I told you about how things were like before you were born?”
Bra nodded. “And you beat all up all the bad guys.”
“Close enough,” Vegeta muttered before continuing, louder: “I was going to wait for you to be a little older to teach you how to fight, but we’ve got trouble coming.”
“I’m not afraid,” Bra declared. “Daddy can win, no problem.”
“Maybe, but I’ll still need your help.” And here Vegeta crouched to Bra’s level, clasping her by the shoulders. “Your job will be to keep Mommy safe. Can you do that for me?”
“Uh huh,” Bra chirped. “You can count on me, Daddy!”
Trunks cleared his throat for attention, fighting the wave of jealousy that had been growing in him. So what if Bra was spoiled compared to him? If he lived life looking for ways to make himself unhappy, there would be no end to the misery. “Let me get these dolls back to Bra’s room first. She’s named them all, you know.”
< - >
“What deep mysteries of the universe are you pondering today, Great Guardian of the Earth?”
Dende chuckled despite the joke being a thousand times old. They would have plenty of time to be solemn later. ” Well, Piccolo, I was wondering exactly how this platform connects with Karin’s Tower. Obviously what we’re standing on isn’t just a disc at the end of a pillar, or we wouldn’t be able to see everything that occurs beneath us. But I’ve never been able to notice any indication that we’re moving, either.”
“Another excellent meditation tragically interrupted by the harsh realities of having to run a planet,” Piccolo intoned with exaggerated pathos touched with just the slightest bit of sarcasm, causing Dende to giggle again. “So, what’s the diagnosis on this latest disaster?”
“Actually, the ‘invasion’ has been pretty low key so far. The Suponjians only seem interested in ethnically cleaning their enemies with as little impact on the rest of the planet as possible. I’m guessing they plan to settle afterwards; why waste a perfectly inhabitable planet, right?”
Piccolo’s antennae began to twitch, a sign that he was irritated. “How considerate of them. They were even nice enough to say when the mass-murdering would begin.”
“Thirty days.” Dende wondered if there was any significance in that number. “They do have what it takes to pull off at least a few casualties.”
“Nothing the good old Cosmic Eraser can’t fix,” Piccolo muttered, imitating the voice of the cranky, old Grand Kai they had met during the whole Buu mess. “What’s going to be a bit trickier is that Saiyan. She’s going to be a catalyst for quite a bit of change around here—and no amount of wishes can put together what’ll be broken.”
“Well, we’ll manage somehow. And sometimes it’s not bad to break things. It’s the only way you can move on from the past.” But Dende had to wonder if there was any hope for anyone other than the usual suspects to make it through in one piece. He couldn’t see past the dark cloud building in the horizon with any clarity, but he knew the weight of some ancient tragedy lay heavy on the shoulders of these Sponjians, one that would destroy what was left of them if they insisted on their current path of indiscriminate revenge.
“It’s either that or annihilation,” Piccolo agreed, no doubt having the similar thoughts. “I’m not opposed to you doing what you can to help them, of course, but at the end of the day it’s not your job to play therapist unless they’re receptive to getting over themselves. Good luck with that, by the way.”
“Thanks, I think.”
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
Deleted the scene with the villains, because I have since changed my mind a little bit on their characterization. It felt too forced anyway.