[ Contents | V. After Sunset | VI. Dawn | VII. Secrets ]



By Dragoness Eclectic



I can see him now, the fourth demon warrior. He's a yellow flame above that ruined temple; doesn't seem to be in a hurry to come down and challenge me. His friends didn't do too well. Heh.

Raditz smirked to himself. Demons, I can handle. He looked down. Goten was asleep in Bulma's bed; Bulma and Trunks were taking care of Gohan, and arguing over who was going to keep watch.

Good, the kid will live. Some rest and food and Gohan will have his strength back, and probably more. Heh. We saiyajin are tough that way.

He glanced back at the fourth demon samurai, still hovering in the distance. I really want to go after you, but if I do, and there are more of you around.. He glanced down at Bulma and Trunks again. No. I can't risk them. Damn you!

Why did I accept this burden? Why did I promise Vegeta--stupid questions. I know the answers already. My prince, in that other life I swore loyalty to you 'unto death', but there is a bond between us that transcends even death--but damned if I understand it.

We were the last of the Saiyajin: we suffered exile and humiliation together under Frieza, and we fought every battle knowing that not only could it be our last, personally, it could be the last battle of the Saiyan race. We were doomed together.

From Nappa I had friendship, from you I only wanted respect. I never got it. There was no room in your heart for respect; those weaker than you were tools to be used in your war with Frieza; those stronger than you were Frieza's allies, hated and schemed against. Until Kakarott.

The bitterest torment of Hell is this: to have all one's comforting illusions stripped away, to face one's self as one truly is, to know the truth--and to know the truth others saw. I was another tool to you, discarded and forgotten when I failed you. You never respected me, my prince--and I never respected myself.

What lies between us now? I don't know; once, I would have turned my back on you when you sought me out in Hell. But you've changed, my prince; you're not the empty-hearted bastard I once followed. That Vegeta would never have sought me out and asked me to protect his mate and child. That Vegeta never respected me that much; that Vegeta never cared about another that much.

Perhaps I wanted to take the measure of your respect, find out what you had entrusted me with. The answer appalls me; I was never worthy of THAT much respect. Am I now? I don't know; we'll find out. I know only that I, too, have changed; I'm not the same Raditz as I was when I died on that grassy field eight years ago.

That wasn't the only reason. I wanted to go back.. to see Kakarott again. My brother.. and I don't have the courage to make myself known to him. How ironic! To think that I once held him in contempt--until the moment I knew he died willingly to stop me. No fear, no hesitation, but the willing surrender of his life to his old enemy to stop me--to protect Earth from me. I could not have done that. I didn't even understand it, but I respected him for it, even as I died.

I still don't understand Kakarott, but I am in awe of him. He is the Super-Saiyan of legend, the destroyer of Frieza, without doubt the greatest warrior in the universe. Yet he does not conquer and rule the weak, but protects and defends them. He is so very unlike we Saiyajin--and yet.. I still remember what father told me when I said that of Kakarott, what he told King Vegeta when the king said that of Kakarott at Frieza's fall: "Kakarott is not as we were; rather, he is what we should have been."

What I should have been.

I like the kid. He looks like Kakarott did that day he was put in the capsule for Earth, the day I set out on my first mission as an adult warrior. He sees and hears me, and isn't afraid of me. He doesn't know what lies between his father and I, or his older brother and I; he simply accepts me.

But if anyone else calls me "Nunk Rats", I'll kill them.

* * *

"No arguments, Gohan. Even if you were in shape for a fight, the kids are in too much danger. I can search for another wish, another day. Right now, we're getting out of here." Bulma encapsulated the camp house and put it back in her case. It was shortly after dawn; Trunks and Goten ate breakfast from the extra supplies Chi-chi had sent along. Gohan slumped in the front passenger seat of the aircar, nibbling listlessly at his breakfast. His face was pale and drawn.

He smiled weakly at Bulma. "I guess it's a good thing that Mom packed that extra food. The kids are starved."

"Yes, I know. They had a busy night," Bulma said archly. She put her hands on her hips and glared at Trunks, who ducked his head and stared intently at the ground. "When we get back, young man, I'm.. no. I'm not going to do anything. I'm going to let you explain personally to Chi-chi why you dragged her baby Goten with you on this little adventure."

Trunks cringed. Goten reached over and grabbed another steamed dumpling. "Mom! That's.. that's not fair!"

"Sounds reasonable to me. YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN THE BOTH OF YOU KILLED!" Bulma wiped away a tear. "I've lost your father, I don't want to lose you. Not ever." She wiped away another tear.

"Mom." Trunks looked ready to cry. "I didn't know it was this dangerous--I thought Gohan could protect you from anything. And I thought I could protect Goten--and I did!" he declared fiercely.

Goten noticed that Trunks was paying no attention to his dumpling and snatched it up and stuffed it into his mouth.

"Hey!" Trunks yelped. "This is the thanks I get for saving your life?" He reached into the hamper and grabbed another dumpling, hanging onto it tightly this time.

"Nunk Rats, too." Goten pointed out between mouthfuls.

"Yeah, he helped." Trunks took a bite out of his dumpling. "Told me how to kill those gaki things, and stopped the green samurai ghost." He quickly ate the rest of dumpling. "Cut his head right off!" he said with relish. "Way cool. Then on the way over, I saw him hit the red samurai, I guess that was the one that hurt Gohan, and I think he got the blue samurai, too."

Bulma made a face. "I missed all that. I didn't see anything! Who or what is this person?"

Trunks shrugged. "I dunno. I thought he was just Goten's imagination, you know, like a pretend friend, but then he appeared out of thin air when the green samurai came after us. And Goten called him that silly name like he knew him, and he told me how to kill the gaki, and I was pretty busy after that."

Bulma looked ready to scream. "Trunks! You already said that part. WHAT IS HE?"

Trunks looked puzzled. "I think he's a ghost. Maybe Goten can see ghosts." He looked thoughtful. "That would explain why he didn't want to run through the village, or go explore it."

"ARRGGGGHHH! I figured that out already! I mean, what kind of person is he? All you've told me is that he's a he, and nothing else! For all I know, he's not even human!"

"Well," spoke up Gohan, "if that was him that I saw just before I passed out, he was wearing Saiyan armor."

Bulma stared at Gohan open-mouthed, and then snapped back to Trunks. "Trunks, it wasn't.. it wasn't.." her voice faltered.

He shook his head. "No, it wasn't Father." He looked directly into his mother's eyes. "He was Saiyajin, though no one I've ever seen before. And he had a tail." He thought a moment, as his mother sat, stunned. "He called me 'young prince'; I think he knows Father."

Bulma laughed nervously. "That would make.. a certain kind of sense." She shook her head. "I guess you just lucked out and got a guardian angel from your father's side of the family." She looked around; everyone was mostly finished eating. "Let's go, and worry about who the family ghosts are when we get home."

Gohan looked at Bulma, worried. "Bulma, there's something wrong.. I can't sense Dad, or Piccolo, or anyone. I can't sense anyone in the whole world but the four of us."

Bulma gulped. "And I still can't get the phone to work. Maybe the mountains are too high.. Get in, we're leaving now!"

Within minutes, everyone was in the aircar, and it was lifting off the ground. Bulma goosed the throttle, and they roared up the valley toward some of the lower mountains. They crested the mountain and dove down into the next valley.

"Look, there's another ruined village just like..." Bulma trailed off. She could see the ruined monastery, and the freshly cleared shrine uphill from the village. "It's the same one! Gohan, somehow I've gotten turned around. Keep an eye on the compass, the CIN-GPS isn't working for some reason."

She tried it again, cruising over the mountain pass only to find herself heading back into the same valley. "Gohan, what is going on?"

"The compass flipped, I saw it! Right when you entered the pass, the compass needle flipped completely around!"

"I don't like this.." She tried departing the valley in another direction. Once again, they returned to the valley. She tried again, climbing higher, only to find the car diving toward the ground once they climbed above the highest peaks. No matter what direction they tried, they always found themselves heading back into the valley as soon as they crested the mountains or entered the pass.

Finally, defeated, Bulma returned to their original landing site, and set the car down. "We're trapped."

"Something doesn't want us to leave." Gohan shivered. "Something powerful. Something evil."

* * *


[ Contents | V. After Sunset | VI. Dawn | VII. Secrets ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic