Twelve

Title: The Intermediate Years: The Legend
Plot, or Lack Thereof: The Z warriors fight another set of enemies.  Whee.
Reason for Banishment: Weak characterization and annoying new character.  Awaiting rewrite.


After all seven Wish Crystals were safe on board the ship, a great celebration took place.  Crew members sang, dance, ate, and drank—and drank and drank.  Katsy, however, did not join the party and was instead looking out a window at Earth.

Je Muo, her second in command, noticed this and went to talk to her.  “Why aren’t you enjoying yourself, Katsy-san?”

“I just don’t feel like it.  You go ahead if you want to.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  Go.”

“But—”

“That’s an order!” Katsy snapped.  In a more gentle manner, she added, “Please.”

“As you wish,” Je Muo bowed, and left.  After he was gone, Katsy sighed and continue to stare at the planet below her.

I’ve killed people plenty of times without batting an eye.  So why do I feel bad about it now?

She thought back to when Apuro was fighting Mikazuki—no, a massacre was more like it, after Mikazuki was incapacitated.  Katsy didn’t know which was worse: That Apuro had enjoyed beating Mikazuki into a bloody pulp, or that Katsy had helped him.

Or maybe what was bothering Katsy even more was the possibility that the entire crew was being used by Apuro for his own selfish purposes.  After all, if Apuro had betrayed and killed his own brother, what would stop him from doing the same to the Queen?

***

Gohan, having slept very little, woke almost right after dawn.  Stretching and looking out the window, he saw Mikazuki going through a routine in the yard.  Instead of the rapid and fierce round of kicks and punches Gohan had seen Mikazuki execute earlier, it almost looked like she was reaching out and caressing invisible strands of silk.  Each movement was delicate, focused, and carried hidden strength.  Gohan became mesmerized in watching Mikazuki’s slow, deliberate ‘dance’; he opened the window and leaned out to get a better look.

“Morning, Gohan,” Mikazuki greeted, still doing her routine.

Startled, Gohan nearly fell out of the window, but quickly righted himself.  “Morning.”

“Didn’t sleep much?”

“How did you know?”

“I saw it in your eyes last night.”

Gohan decided that now would be a good time to change the subject.  “Where did you learn a routine like that?”

“My mother taught me.”

“Oh.”

Mikazuki continued to practice in silence for a while, then said: “My father could have gotten away with it.”

Gohan had heard that sad, reminiscent tone of voice before: the Trunks from the future had used it whenever he talked about his world.  “With what?” He prompted.

“Marrying my mother.  Even with the supposed law against ‘corrupting’ the Saiyan blood, a lot of people had children by the natives of Sentou and passed them off as purebloods.  You see, the Saiyans and Sentonians look pretty much alike, but there are several distinct differences that, with training, an astute observer could pick out.  In fact, that was my father’s job: to find and arrest those who had broken the law,” Mikazuki sighed.  “But the more he worked, the more he discovered that the Saiyan government was corrupt, hypocritical, and cruel.  That was also when he fell in love with my mother.  So he ran off with her to Sarada; the government and his family disowned him after that.”

Gohan blinked at this new revelation.  “Your father chose to go to Sarada?”

Mikazuki smiled sadly.  “That’s what he says.  I think the more plausible scenario was that someone caught him and Mother together and reported him to the authorities.  Anyways, once they got to Sarada, they consummated their relationship, and I was born a little while after that.”

“Growing up was a constant battle: both sides hated me for my ‘taint’, and harassed us constantly, even when Father kept chasing them off.  And as soon as Father thought I was old enough to fight, I helped.  Finally, after two years, we settled into an uneasy truce.  They were actually starting to respect us when everything went wrong.”

Lost in memories, Mikazuki stopped her kata.  “Father and Mother was so proud of me.  They said I was ‘the best of both worlds’,” she unconciously wrapped her arms around herself, as if it suddenly became cold.  “Why?” she whispered.  “Why did they have to die?” A small tear rolled down her cheek; she wiped it away.  “No.  I won’t cry.”

“Damn right you won’t,” said Vegeta, who was now also standing outside.

“Vegeta!” Gohan exclaimed, both in surprise and rebuke.

Vegeta ignored him.  “I hope you didn’t waste all morning with useless chatter.”

Mikazuki straightened.  “I didn’t.”

“Good,” Vegeta shifted.  “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

They sparred until Bulma called them in for brunch.

After everyone had eaten their fill, they gathered in the living room for a war council.

Goku began the discussion with: “Now what?”

“Simple,” Vegeta replied, as if it should be obvious, “we find out where our ‘friends’ are headed with the Dragon Balls.”

“Oh,” Goku nodded, and them immediately became confused again.  “How?”

Somehow, Vegeta did not jump across the room and throttle the brainless idiot.  “We use a scouter, idiot!”

Bulma, tinkering with one of the Scouters, shook her head.  “Nope.  They’ve put up a force field or something, because this one’s not picking anything up.”

Mikazuki also looked into her Scouter.  “Not a blip,” she observed, somewhat glum.

Bulma poked her tiny screwdriver into the delicate electronics of the Scouter, and was rewarded with a slight shock.  “Ow! Damn!” She slammed a fist onto the coffee table.  “Why can’t this thing have a bigger detector?”

Mikazuki’s eyes lit up.  “Hold on, I have an idea,” she almost dug into her armor for her miniaturized spaceship.  Placing it away from the others, she expanded it, then stepped into it and began flipping switches.  “This computer’s routed to detect planets and ships, but if I link the Scouter with it, I can tell it to look for a specific energy pattern.”

“Like the Dragon Balls,” Bulma guessed, awed.  Mikazuki nodded.  “Do you need some sort of physical line to connect them?”

“I think I have one here,” Mikazuki replied, opening a small compartment, “but if you could find a type 3 male-female cable, that would be great.”

Bulma disappeared into her workshop; a few moments later, she re-emerged with the desired part.

“Wow, Bulma, you have everything in that lab of yours,” Gohan remarked, awed.

“Once I get a kitchen sink, I’ll have everything,” Bulma joked, handing the cable to Mikazuki, who connected her Scouter to one of the screens in the ship.  She opened yet another panel to reveal a keyboard.

“All right,” Mikazuki murmured, typing at a rapid pace.  “The detectors should be able to pick up the Wish Crystals, or at least the source of the electric interference that was jamming the Scouter.”

Everyone held their breaths as the parts began to hum.

A nearly unbearable amount of time passed before a small blip showed up on one of the screens.

“Bingo!” Mikazuki cheered, relief sweeping across her face.  She clicked in a few more commands.  “According to the current projected path, the ship is planning to enter the orbit of the neighboring planet,” Mikazuki disconnected the cable and shrank the ship back down to carry-able size.  “Looks like they’re in a bit of a hurry to make their wish.”

“A fatal error,” Vegeta grinned.  He then turned to Mikazuki.  “This ship of yours can go fast enough to catch up to them, no doubt?”

“Hai.”

“Then you’re going after them.”

Everyone turned to stare at Vegeta; he kept his composure.

“Me?” Mikazuki pointed to herself, stunned.

“Yes, you,” Vegeta confirmed.  “You’re the only one knows how to pilot that ship.”

“Y—Vegeta.” Mikazuki’s heart was about to burst with gratitude.  After she had nearly ruined everything, she was getting a second chance.  She knelt before Vegeta.  “Thank you,” she managed to whisper.

“Just don’t make the same mistake twice,” Vegeta answered, showing no emotion.

Mikazuki stood, bowed, and hurried outside; a few moments later, her ship took off into space.

Vegeta watched until the ship disappeared, then turned to Goku.  “Kakarot, as soon as you can focus on a big enough energy, Shukdan Idou us there.”

“Okay,” Goku nodded, and began to concentrate.

Comprehension dawned on Gohan’s face as he pieced together everything which had happened since Mikazuki arrived.  For the first time since after Buu was defeated, he felt a respect for Vegeta that was more than just the obligatory deference to his father’s friend.

Bulma and Chi-Chi, while they didn’t quite understand Vegeta’s reasoning, knew that it was too late to say anything, so they stayed in their seats.  There was a time when both of them would not have hesitated to be a part of the action, but now, they knew that this time they could do no more than play the role of the spectator and occasional supporter.

Goten and Trunks, on the other hand, soon became completely bored.  With their mothers’ permission, they set up the Super Nintendo, and started playing.

The long wait began.

***

As Mars came into view, and the engineers prepared the smaller ship for launch, Katsy assembled her team together for what she was sure would be the last time.

“Men,” she began, taking a deep breath.  “Keep a close eye on Apuro.  I think he’s going to try something; I want you to be prepared to protect our Queen.”

“Hai,” the Condiment Warriors answered as one.

Katsy felt both proud that her men were so loyal and sad that she would be dooming them to almost certain death.  “Let’s go, then.”

A robot was the first to exit the ship, to determine whether space suits were necessary.  It scanned the atmosphere, then reported that the air was thin, but breathable.  A few moments later, the main door of the ship opened and Queen Regal stepped out, followed by Apuro, Katsy, Je Muo, Zebo, and Sazoan.

Regal consulted a small scroll in her hands before turning to Apuro.  “The Wish Crystals, Apuro.”

With a nod, Apuro reached into his armor, and pulled out a small object.  Setting it on the ground, he pressed a button and expanded it to full size, revealing a large container.  Opening it, he brought out the Wish Crystals and set them on the ground.

“All right,” Regal took a deep breath, then closed her eyes and shouted: “Arise, Xiao Long, and grant my wish!”

For a few tense seconds, nothing happened.  Then, just as Regal was going to rip up the scroll in frustration, the Crystals began to glow brightly.  The orangish-pink sky grew dark as a golden shape came out of the Crystals.  When the glow finally faded, a giant blue dragon floated before the group.

“YOU MAY HAVE ONE WISH, AND ONE ALONE,” the Dragon boomed.  “THE FIRST WHO SPEAKS SHALL GET HIS HEART’S DESIRE.”

Regal stepped forward to make her wish; her bodyguards, remembering Katsy’s words, tensed at once.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Sazoan saw a blur speed towards the Queen.

Only have one chance to stop this, he thought, willing himself to move faster than the blur.

“I wish—” Regal was interrupted by a startled gasp.  Annoyed, she turned to the source of the sound, and almost gasped herself when she saw Apuro’s bloody fist protruding from Sazoan’s back.  With an air of almost casual contempt, he pulled it out, and Sazoan dropped to the ground, his eyes glazing over in the all too familiar look of death.

The others formed a protective ring around Regal.  “So, Apuro,” Katsy hissed, shaken by the ruthless killing, but trying to make herself seem as menacing as possible.  “You’ve finally showed your real self.”

Apuro grinned.  “I’m sorry, but you’ve outlived your usefulness.  So if you were smart, you would get your pathetic little rear ends out of my way and let me make my wish.”

Katsy narrowed her eyes.  “I don’t think so.”

As if some sort of silent signal had passed, the remaining members of the Condiment Warriors pulled out their energy draining devices and activated them.  The smug look on Apuro’s face was replaced with pain as he doubled over and curled into a fetal position.

Zebo walked over to Apuro.  “You have two options: one, die here and now, and quickly; two, be publicly humiliated and executed, slowly and painfully.  Which one will it be?”

Apuro answered by tripping Zebo to the ground and breaking his neck with a swift chop.

Je Muo’s jaw dropped.  “What? How?”

Apuro grinned again.  “You didn’t think I would take the proper precautions?” He stood to his feet and cracked his knuckles.  “I’ll take option three: all of you die.”

Katsy and Je Muo charged Apuro; he dodged both of their attacks, and finished them off as quickly as he had Sazoan and Zebo.  After they had breathed their last, Apuro licked some of the blood from his glove and grinned a third time.

“Now it’s just you and me, ‘Your Majesty’.”

***
Mikazuki watched Regal and Apuro fight.  Even though it was clear that Apuro was stronger, he held back, as if he was playing with Regal like a cat would a mouse it would kill.

That bastard’s really enjoying himself, Mikazuki thought, anger growing.

“DOES NO ONE HAVE A WISH?” Xiao Long boomed.

“You hear that?” Apuro asked.  “The Dragon is getting impatient.  And so am I.” With one swift motion he drove his hand into Regal’s heart; Regal soon crumpled to the ground, dead.

Mikazuki readied herself; she knew that Apuro would not be prepared, but she still had to be fast.

“DOES NO ONE HAVE A WISH?” Xiao Long repeated.

“I do!” Apuro shouted.  “I wish—”

Mikazuki leaped into view.  “—that Sarada and its citizens be restored!”

Apuro’s brain froze.  All of his efforts—his disgusting posturing before Regal, staining his hands with blood so low it did not even deserve to be spilled—was ruined by this halfbreed, and daughter of Kyuuri, no less.

With a roar, he formed an energy sphere and launched it at her.  Mikazuki leaped out of the way, and the sphere crashed into Xiao Long, who had yet to grant Mikazuki’s wish.  When the dust settled, the Dragon was gone, and what was the Wish Crystals were now ordinary stone.

“Well,” Mikazuki observed.  “Looks like the legends came true after all.”

“You bitch!” His fury blazing like wildfire, Apuro turned Super Saiyan.

***

Goku furrowed his brows, then shook his head.  “Nope.  That last burst of energy went too quickly for me to focus on it.”

Just as he said that, Apuro’s energy exploded; a few moments later, Mikazuki’s energy lit up with brilliance as well.

“How’s this for focus?” Vegeta asked.

“Perfect!” Goku put two fingers to his forehead while Gohan and Vegeta each placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t teleport too close to them,” Vegeta reminded his transportation before they disappeared.

***

Apuro wiped blood from his eyes and glared at Mikazuki.  Though he loathed to do so, he had to admit that his niece was good.  Very good.  And very determined to win.

But he was no wimp himself.  And he still had a few tricks up his sleeves, if he could get a chance to use them.  Mikazuki’s attacks rained down on him, forcing him to concentrate on keeping his defense up, quite the draining task.  Of course, it wasn’t possible to block or dodge everything, and in time, one punch made it through; and then another; and another; and yet another.

Apuro hit the ground, hard, as his transformation disappeared.  Mikazuki also landed, panting, and her aura dropped as well.

Apuro struggled to his feet.  “Well, dear niece,” he said with a confidence he didn’t quite feel.  “What are you going to do now?”

Mikazuki cupped her hands together in a manner Apuro recognized.

The King’s Sudden Death.

Knowledge of the destructive and fatal attack was exclusive to members of the Royal Guard and their children.  Apuro’s family line, even though it had belonged to the Royal Guard, had fallen out of the government’s favor two generations earlier and been forbidden to learn, teach, or use the technique.

But Mikazuki knew it: between her hands, a small point of bluish light shimmered and began to grow.  Apuro himself had just seen it once before, during the execution of some fool who had tried to assassinate the General.  There was no mistaking it, though; no other attack looked like that, the one which could without a doubt kill him.

“How?” He croaked.

Mikazuki looked Apuro square in the eyes and told him in a voice mixed with pride and anger: “My mother taught me.”

Had he been given enough time to think about it, Apuro might have remembered that Momo once served under the greatest and most powerful family in Sarada before being sold to his household.  He also might have realized that Momo had been trying to use that technique on him before he killed her.  But the only conscious thoughts in his head consisted of several unmentionable swear words.

The sphere of energy slowly floated out of Mikazuki’s cupped hands.  It dipped a little; Mikazuki concentrated, and it steadied itself.

And then she fired it at Apuro.

It caught him square in the chest; its momentum carried him into outer space towards the enemy’s ship, which was preparing to fire its cannon.  And then, Mikazuki released her control.

Even at such a distance, the force of the explosion stirred up a windstorm.

Mikazuki fell to her knees, exhausted from the effort.

“Good job,” said Vegeta, stepping out from behind a hill.  Goku and Gohan also emerged; the former gave Mikazuki a senzu bean while the latter helped her to her feet and explained how they got there.

“What are you going to do now?” Goku wanted to know after Mikazuki finished.

“I’m not sure.  I don’t really have a home to back to.”

“You can stay with us,” Goku offered.

Mikazuki smiled.  “Thanks, but no thanks,” she turned to Vegeta.  “When I was preparing the King’s Sudden Death, I almost got lost in myself.”

Vegeta nodded; he remembered how new Guard recruits talked about becoming in touch with their souls when they created the sphere, no doubt an intense experience.

“I took a good, hard look at what I was doing,” Mikazuki continued, in her quiet-sad voice.  “I was killing people, and feeling nothing.  Maybe even enjoying it,” she paused, shuddering with the memory.  “That’s not the kind of life I want.  I may be half Saiyan in blood, but not at heart.  I hope you can understand.”

“I can’t be mad at you for being who you really are, can I?” Vegeta asked.

Aware of what he was implying, Mikazuki looked at him with alarm.  “You mean—”

Vegeta chuckled a little.  “Calm down.  I don’t blame you; I’m not very likable.”

“It’s not just that,” Mikazuki began, still a little nervous.

“I know,” Vegeta cut her off.  “When you fought me this morning, it was like you turned off part of yourself.  I could tell.  You can drop the whole ‘Highness’ thing.  Really,” he put on the best grumpy look he could manage.  “It’s getting on my nerves.”

Mikazuki giggled despite herself, then coughed to regain her composure.  “Well, I guess this means goodbye, then.”

“I suppose so,” Vegeta extended his arm.  “Duk tivet.

Mikazuki’s jaw almost dropped.  Duk tivet, the greeting between comrades.  To call someone your ‘duk tivet‘ was to acknowledge him as your equal, a fellow warrior.

Eyes glimmering, Mikazuki clasped Vegeta’s arm.  “Duk tivet.”

Goku and Gohan waved as Mikazuki’s spaceship took off.

“What a nice girl,” Goku remarked, watching the disappearing dot.  “You think we’ll see her again?”

Vegeta shrugged.  “You never know.”

Series NavigationTwo >>
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrby feather