Things Behind The Sun

To The Victor Go The Spoils

May, 763

"Good things come to those who wait."

– was what Piccolo said and, at that, Bulma didn't look up because those words weren't for her.


In the one hundred and thirty days after Namek's explosion, Bulma tried to center herself.

She went back working in the lab with her father. She didn't have to, but she wanted to.

She tinkered with old models of Capsules and gave her input for highly experimental new prototypes. She casually shuffled through math books and, unbeknown even to her, a vague idea started to take shape in the back of her mind – she took a blue marker and wrote something on the white board that hung in the lab. She shared coffees and pizzas and scientific anecdotes with her dad and even tried a cigarette or two, on the roof at night, away from prying eyes.

After Namek's explosion she went shopping with her mother and one day, giggling, they bought three pairs of the same boots in different colors; they suntanned in the deck chairs of the garden and even tried the new bakery in town which claimed to offer the best carrot cake of the west district.

She watched movies and tried to go swimming every day at 7 pm, before giving up after the third week.

The one hundred and thirty days after Namek's explosion were something in between. They were supposed to be a time of peace mirroring a peace of mind but, as it often happened to Bulma, they were everything except that because, while she worked, shopped and tried to be normal, the entire Namekian race was taking refuge in her home – and though they were the most friendly and pacific creatures she had ever known, she couldn't take a step without being reminded of the mess occurred on their now extinguished planet.

Gohan had visited them a few times in the first weeks, to spend time with Dende and play with him and the other Namekians children – they both were bright, smart kids and Bulma could see why they got along so well. But then Chichi had gotten a full hold on her son all over again and his visits became less and less frequent before stopping altogether.

Bulma snorted and pictured poor Gohan chained at his desk in his room, head bent on some boring essay. She was all for a good education, obviously, but – also – any child of Goku should have been free to wander the world with wide eyes. Not that it was any of her business, of course.

The one hundred and twenty-ninth night was a quiet night of May.

She lit the cigarette with a few flicks of her lighter and exhaled the smoke slowly against the night, examining its lazy patterns. It was opaque against the pitch black of the sky, where she could see no constellations, never mind the direction in which she searched.

Goku's soul was too far away to catch a glimpse of a star and think it were him, anyway.

She tried to imagine his soul bordering on the rings of dark void that had once been occupied by planet Namek, green and blue, and shuddered. It didn't feel right.

"Will you be with me?"

"Always."

And he never left her.

Sometimes, she could feel him so close that if she hadn't been assured by King Kai himself that Goku had indeed kicked the bucket during Namek's explosion, she would have thought it impossible, because he was so strong and bright and hard and soft and it just didn't feel right that he was gone again.

Anyway, things would go back to normal – and Bulma struggled with the adjective normal – soon enough.

Goku had saved the Earth again, the universe even, and the one hundred and thirty days required for the Namek Dragon Balls to reactivate would be up the next day at noon and Goku, Yamcha, Krillin and the others would all come back to life thanks to Porunga. Of course she was thrilled.

They would come back… each to their home. Bulma wondered what felt like home for Yamcha – then promptly shook her head, not knowing what the answer was and not liking her reaction to any of the possible answers. She didn't want to ruin the joy for their return with those heavy thoughts, she told herself, flicking the ash away. She would found out soon enough anyway, she could as well stop wrapping her mind around it, around anything at all.

But – inside – she was frantic. Something in her soul was pulsating to some insane beat.

It surely didn't help that Vegeta, of all people, was lurking at Capsule Corporation ever since their return on Earth.

She didn't know why she had invited him in alongside the Namekians, it wasn't like the jerk hadn't tried to kill them all! But maybe it had been a way of thanking him for doing something useful for a change and come up with the idea to bring Krillin and Goku back to life – she should have been the one to think about that one, damn it! Maybe she wanted to keep him on their good side or, more simply, it had been the disconnection between her brain and her mouth, that always manifested itself in the worst possible occasions… stupid mouth. Stupid stupid brain. She had flirted with the guy for Kami's sake – what were you thinking, brain?

Anyway, the state of things was that Vegeta was now an inhabitant of Capsule Corp. and it was the weirdest sensation ever.

Nobody saw much of him, but everybody could certainly feel it, like a dark, looming, brooding presence all over their house. He trained during the day and at night – Bulma had no idea. She hadn't heard him once, so she assumed he just flew away to brood somewhere else.

He was unnerving, but she wasn't scared of him as much as she had been before because she had seen what he was training for. It wasn't to harm any of them – if you left him unprovoked for long enough – or to destroy the Earth or the galaxy or whatever.

It was Goku.

What were the odds.

Bulma let the half-finished cigarette fall on the ground and stomped on it with much more strength than needed. She didn't want to think about any of that.

She left the roof and went inside. The house was dark and silent, everyone was asleep or pretending to be.

It was well past midnight and she knew she needed to sleep at least a little bit, but she had something to do first. It wasn't funny anyway – she always used to sleep the night away like a baby – but things had deeply changed for her. Or rather – within her.

She didn't want to think about that either.

She reached the door of her laboratory and pushed the security code in the small pad on the wall beside it. The doors opened with a hiss and she made her way in, flicking the lights on.

Inside, it was a mess. Maybe a little bit more than usual, but Bulma had never been one to worry about tidiness, so she thought nothing of it. From the white board on the wall to her left, the unfinished equation stared at her, unresolved.

She picked up the blue marker and let it hover on it for a long minute, chewing the inside of her cheek, thinking. Then, with resolution, she drew something on the high corner of the board:

E=mc2

And she highlighted it forcefully one, two, three, four times.

There. Inspire me, dammit!

She took a step back to look at the whole thing again, when a sudden rustle of paper made her look up and she turned her head to the back of the lab, still plunged into semi-darkness. Bulma rolled her eyes – had dad forgotten his cat and locked him in again?

She had taken a few steps to the open door leading to the back of the laboratory when she jumped out of her skin, her eyes bulging, all her hair standing up in fear. He had suddenly appeared in front of her in the doorway, a darker shape against the gloomy background and she recognized the outline of the hair instantaneously.

He took a step forward, stepping into the light.

"VEGETA?!" she shrieked, her voice going at the higher octave she could reach.

It didn't make an impression, because the guy simply stood there in the doorway, still as stone, arms down by his side, fists clenched. His black eyes were stone cold, his lips set in a thin line, slightly cast downwards in a grimace that expressed – really? Bulma's jaw went slack. Was it disgust?

Bulma immediately discarded her fears. How dare he? She had invited him in her house, gave him food and a place to crash and not only he had invaded the sanctuary that was her laboratory, but he also had the gut to look at her with disgust?

She wanted to slap that insufferable expression out of his face.

She narrowed her eyes.

"What the hell are you doing down here?" she snapped, her voice high as ever.

He didn't reply but took a step forward. Bulma forced herself to stand straight though her legs were trembling. Hard. He was a crazy murderer bastard, by all accounts.

The muscles of Vegeta's face were deathlike still, it was as if he were wearing a mask of steel. Bulma held her head high and sent him one of her best glowering stares.

His mouth moved only marginally when he finally spoke.

"You're in my way, woman."

Bulma thought she had burst a vessel in her brain. She actually thought she was having an aneurysm out of pure rage when she shrieked in response, baring her teeth.

"I have a name, you know!" she seethed. " IT'S BULMA!"

At that Vegeta's lips actually curled into a smirk. Something sparkled in the back of his pitch black eyes, but it was disdainful, derisive. It was nasty.

"I don't care," he said, in a cool, toneless voice. "Move."

Despite herself, Bulma took half a step back, but she swallowed and pressed on. "How in the world did you get in?" she said. "And why?"

She had been on the exploding Namek. She wasn't afraid of a that deluded jackass. She thought she saw his eyes flicker downwards for a millisecond and she followed the direction of his gaze. He was holding something in his left fist, a piece of crumpled paper.

"What's that? What did you take from my lab?" she asked at once.

Vegeta flashed her an ominous glare.

"I said," he repeated, and his voice was made of ice. "Move."

Bulma glared at him. She had had enough. She was bored with his monosyllables, at his icy tones, at his guarded stance. She spoke before realizing what she was saying.

"Are you always this funny or it's only when you're pining over Goku?"

A split second, a flash, and Bulma thought she hoped they could spare a wish for her next time they summoned Porunga.

He had lunged at her like a predator with its quarry and had grabbed her neck, holding it tight, squeezing it. He pushed her against the closed door, making her bang her head on its metal. Bulma let out a strangled gasp as he fastened his hold on her throat and looked at her in the eyes, something dark glimmering in those irises.

She didn't lower her gaze. "Get your hands off me," she coughed.

"If you want to live," Vegeta replied, in a threatening low voice, "you'd better keep your loud mouth shut."

Bulma felt tears of pain and fear gather at the corner of her eyes. Her face was flushed, every part of her body was trembling with rage and helplessness. She'd have given anything to be able to give a lesson to the evil bastard.

She looked at him straight in the eye.

"I despise you," she spat, choking.

Vegeta smirked the same malevolent smirk as before.

"Same."

Bulma glowered at him, but she immediately felt herself being thrown aside. Vegeta had let go of her throat, pushing her sideways and she fell on her knees, coughing hard.

"Urgh! Dammit!" she cursed, hacking, touching gingerly her aching throat. Vegeta looked down at her, his face back at being a mask of stone.

Bulma looked up and let out a sound that was half a laugh, half a sob. "You hate us so much," she said, clenching her jaw, hoping he could feel – he could taste – the repulsion she felt. "So why don't you just leave? Nobody's holding you!"

She saw a shift in the mask of stone. Microscopic. He opened the door and left before she could think she hadn't imagined it.

It was the longest interaction they had had in those one hundred and twenty-nine days.

Bulma sat on the floor for a few long minutes, trying to catch her breath, to retain some composure, to get some feeling back in the legs – that had turned into marshmallows.

Suddenly, she remembered the crumpled piece of paper in the bastard's fist and scrambled to her feet, running to the back of the laboratory. She turned the lights on and looked around – everything was in place, it seemed. She picked up a green notebook on her father's desk and browsed through it quickly, making the pages make rustling noises. She stopped when she saw that a few pages had been ripped off. It was her father's work on a hypothetical 300x artificial gravity room.

Bulma laughed when she saw what she had risked her skin for. And not a giggle there, but a big old laugh.

He could have simply asked for it, but no, that was too below him.

Jackass.


On the one hundred and thirtieth day, with the first wish they brought back Krillin and with the second wish they discovered what she'd known all along in her guts.

He was alive. And he would be back at his own time.

Hearing it from the Dragon himself made it true, completely and utterly true, undeniable. Goku was alive. He was somewhere, he was whole. His flesh, muscles, bones, soul. Somewhere in the same dimension as hers.

Her heart quickened.

"I know!" Master Roshi yelled, the distinct note of a laughter in his voice. "Goku won't come home because he's afraid of his wife!"

Ha! Somebody actually dared to snicker at that – Bulma would have done so too, if only her beats weren't hammering in her chest with such strength that she could feel them echoing even in her skull.

"Good things come to those who wait," was what Piccolo said and, at that, Bulma didn't look up because those words weren't for her. He was talking to Gohan, who didn't understand – couldn't fathom a good reason why his daddy was refusing to come home to him.

Piccolo's words soothed Gohan, making him see that Goku rarely didn't have good reasons and they all just had to be patient. She didn't know how, or why, but Piccolo's phrasing hit her as well, even if she didn't allow herself to show it. And since when, anyway, her life had gotten to the point where she actually listened to anything the green demon-alien person said?

She was taking comfort in the words of a former demon and she couldn't feel sorry for Chichi. She was willing to laugh at Master Roshi's jokes, those were all signs of an unquestionable mental disorder! There was no other explanation… that, or she really had become a horrible, horrible person – because the news of Goku being alive doing something that didn't make him want to come back, had made her think that, at least, he wasn't going back to her.

If Bulma couldn't see Goku and couldn't touch Goku and couldn't talk to Goku, then neither could Chichi and that was only fair.

Except – it was not.

But Bulma – Bulma could feel him – she could feel him so. Freaking. Much.

All along – he coursed through her nerves. Like the raging water of the morning storm of all those years ago.

She could feel him in her hands. In her bones. In her stomach. In her lungs.

On her skin.

Breaking her and making her whole all at once. The more she pushed him away – the more he invaded her – filling her – the way wine went through water.

Bulma felt she was Goku and could there be anyone else in the whole freaking universe that could claim the same? Could his own wife?

"Will you be with me?"

"Always."

Bulma was starting to think it was a curse.

And he was alive somewhere in the space above her head and she was happy he didn't want to come back to his own family and as soon as she was starting to think she wanted the Earth under her feet to open and swallow her whole – she wasn't given any more time to speculate about what those crazy thoughts could possibly say about herself because the sudden roar of a spaceship blasting off had caught everyone's attention.

Bulma turned – Vegeta had taken the Capsule Corp. ship and launched himself into space and she immediately knew he had gone after Goku.

Could have asked if I wanted to go too – Bulma thought to herself, half-joking.

But she wanted the craziness to stop. She wanted the spell to break.

Porunga was probably in a hurry because he quickly demanded for the third and last wish and, again, what did it tell about Bulma, that she was so distracted with her insane reflections that she didn't immediately thought of Yamcha, but King Kai, nonetheless, had to suggest it for her?

"Your wish has been granted."

There was a blinding flash of golden light and the Dragon vanished, making the Earth tremble. Instantaneously, the Dragon Balls became globes of pure light and propelled in the sky at the speed of light, scattering in opposite directions all over the planet. The sky cleared again, turning back to the bright azure that was more suited for a May day and, with that, the magic was gone – the Dragon Balls had become ordinary stones, impossible to be found for the next one hundred and thirty days.

But still… no sign of Yamcha.

"Hello?"

Bulma twirled on her feet, her heartbeats suddenly slowing down, her head clearing up a bit.

He was standing there! Yamcha… after all that time, finally… he had a frog on his head. What?

But Bulma didn't care, because she felt her face relax into a genuine smile, and her heart was beating regularly enough for a change and her thoughts weren't so insane anymore.

"Yamcha…" she said, in a thick whisper.

He looked at her, his face open, rubbing his head with a hand.

"Hey," he said with a smile in his voice. " If you're gonna bring someone back, the next time try to pick a better spot."

"Oh, Yamcha…"

Bulma allowed herself to keep her hopes up.

Spell… please, be broken soon.


August, 764

"Well, your father says the ship didn't have a lot of fuel, so he thinks Vegeta will be back soon."

"I wish we could say the same for Goku."

When they made love, it seemed like some kind of validation they needed to perform.

Bulma wasn't sure if Yamcha thought the same, nor if he would ever admit it, but something was missing.

At first, things had been great, or so she had thought.

Yamcha was back from the dead and they had both wanted it; Bulma didn't think her reasons behind it could make any difference in the matter. She really tried, she tried hard and that was what was important; Yamcha was great and they started to act like boyfriend and girlfriend – holding hands and going to the movies.

When he kissed her, for the first time after a long long time, she closed her eyes and let him linger and she could have sworn she had felt something. He eventually moved back to Capsule Corporation, Puar in tow, and once again she could have sworn things were pretty good.

At night they washed their teeth side by side, locking gazes in the mirror, smiling. He followed her to bed and wrapped his arms around her. He kissed her on her mouth and trailed off on her neck, he tangled his fingers in her hair. They made love.

One night, Bulma caught herself staring at the wooden headboard.

But it could happen. And it was okay, as he wouldn't know.

They went along just fine, with the occasional petty fight and the occasional nice days to remember and once again Bulma allowed herself to think it could work.

A little bit after a year, it was Bulma's turn to get paranoid, to start thinking he thought there was something she wasn't giving to him. Which was crazy, because she loved him – they loved each other – he was her very first love. He was almost what any girl would dream of.

She wasn't any girl.

It was a humid summer night when, while in bed with Yamcha she found herself staring at the headboard again and it occurred to her that they were acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, but it was all that was to it. An act.

But she wasn't ready to let go, she would do anything in her power to postpone the inevitable.

So, when that day of August Vegeta crashed with his ship on their yard, Bulma gladly welcomed it – him – everything. The fuss. The distraction.

She hadn't forgotten what had happened between them in the laboratory – but, for some reason, she couldn't fear him less as she gave him a pair of yellow trousers and a pink shirt to change into. It said 'bad man' on the back and she and Yamcha giggled mischievously at him – and they did it together, with mirth sparkling in their eyes so, see, the inevitable wasn't that inevitable anymore. They were still going. They could work it out.

Still, that day of August Bulma could have used some distraction. Must have been the reason she followed them to the source of the unsettling power level.


"So, you decided to show your face on Earth again," the three-eyed guy spat.

Vegeta actually found that funny. There, in the middle of nowhere, on a planet that wasn't his own – but then again, there was no planet in the universe he could call his own – Vegeta let out a genuine laugh at the indignation of the three-eyed bald guy. Who had a white midget weird thing as best friend. Come on.

He remembered well how the thing had plastered itself on Nappa's back and went off in a big, showy deflagration, self-destructing in the hope of taking Nappa out with him.

Fool. Fools.

They had yet to see the true power of a real full-blooded Saiyan, born and bred on planet Vegeta. He had laughed so hard when the trick of the Chiaotzu – was it Chiaotzu? – thing didn't work out as they had expected.

Sure, soon after, Nappa had proved himself unworthy of life – he had broken his back with one single hit.

He being him.

The goddamn Kakarot.

Damn, how Vegeta wanted to punch something within the next five seconds. Come at me, bald guy.

"That's all you have to say?" he sneered.

"Hardly," the three-eyed guy replied, taking off his coat, since they were in the exact middle of August, in what looked like a rocky desert.

"But I've always thought actions can speak louder than words," the guy continued. "How can you stand aside of him, Yamcha?" he bellowed.

Vegeta smirked at the nice pre-rehearsed sounding little speech. "Ha!" he exclaimed. "Bring it on!"

"Fine!"

And they were about to quench his thirst for violence and get into a good old-fashioned brawl when the earthling with the ridiculous bowl-cut jumped between the two of them.

"Whoa! Hey… Cool it!" he said, spreading his arms. " This isn't the time, okay, Tien? Come on."

Vegeta snorted and turned his back to them, crossing his arms on his chest. He met the blue-haired woman's stare for a second before looking away, growling. The idiots were still yammering on.

"I can feel it, whoever it is," they were saying. "You think it's Frieza?"

"Yeah, that's how it's looking."

As if they knew half of what Frieza was. Of what Frieza represented and had always represented in Vegeta's existence.

"Enough talk!" he burst out. He was sick of the useless whining of those clowns. "Mask your power levels!" he ordered. "Or you fools want to die again? Frieza's minions can use the scouters to track us down! At least the Namekian can keep a low profile!" he concluded with a sneer, nodding towards the rock on which the green alien was standing.

The two finally shut up and looked around.

"The who?"

"Look, it's Piccolo!"

"He was so close and we didn't sense him!"

Vegeta clenched his jaw in exasperation. He felt like he was surrounded by idiots. The Namekian turned to look at them and was about to say something when, suddenly, they all sensed two more power levels coming at them, and they all looked up.

Great, Vegeta thought, recognizing the pair as it came into sight. And now the half-bred is here. Vegeta shot him a look as he landed. He seemed a little bit taller, but other than that, he hadn't changed much. He was wearing the blue battle-suit he'd given him on Namek. Try as he might, Vegeta couldn't bring himself to full-on hate the kid.

And, also, the members of that pathetic gang of losers Kakaroth liked to surround himself with meant nothing to him. They were annoying, with their little speeches and their cluelessness and their laughable power levels. They were annoying flies, they were nothing. He could have wiped them all without putting much of an effort into it.

But, they meant nothing.

They didn't fuel him, they didn't put him in a frenzy, they didn't ignite his rage, his primordial fury, the deepest and most ancestral recesses of his spirit the way Kakaroth did.

The way Kakarot had done with all his unforgivable deeds.

"Gohan, Krillin, over here!" the woman was shouting, waving her arms like a demented bird, doing her best to pierce everyone's ears. Gohan and the other bald guy – the short one, the one that had made a fool of himself on Namek – approached them, grim expressions plastered on their faces. Then, a lightbulb lit up in the brain of the earthling with the stupid haircut.

"Gohan!" he exclaimed, a disgustingly hopeful look on his face. "Is Goku back?"

Of course. The holy Kakarot, the guardian angel of all clowns. Vegeta snorted, but couldn't help turning to look at the kid, who actually said nothing. Gohan simply shook his head, solemnly.

So Kakarot was still roaming around somewhere in space, training, learning things out of Vegeta's reach.

Vegeta was fuming. He had searched the galaxy looking for him, looking forward to settle the score, looking for the day he would finally put an end to Kakarot's existence and, with that, to put an end to the shame he had bestowed upon the Saiyan race and upon Vegeta himself. Sparing his life, Kakarot had deprived him of everything he had and was, he had stripped him of his pride, of the thing he valued the most.

He had surpassed him in every possible way.

By fulfilling the millenary legend of the golden Super Saiyan.

By avenging their race putting an end to Frieza's empire.

All things that were written in Vegeta's destiny since the day of his birth and Kakarot – a filthy, undeserving low-class warrior – had taken that away from him. He had taken away everything. Vegeta's destiny denied forever.

And that, dear Kakarot, comes with a price, Vegeta thought.

The blue-haired woman had decided it was time to let some air in her mouth again.

"Aaargh! It's so hot!" she moaned, loudly, waving a hand in front of her face. "This feels like hell!"

Something in her stupid wording made Vegeta tick. He didn't know why. He didn't know why he bothered. Why was she there, anyway?

He growled under his breath.

"You know nothing of hell!" he spat, sending her a cold stare.

The woman looked at him for a moment, her red mouth hanging half-open as if on the verge of saying something, then she narrowed her eyes and threw him a glowering look.

"It's a figure of speech, you moron!" she yelled.

"What did you just s-

"HE'S HERE!"

Everybody looked up at the shout of the Namekian.

A huge, majestic spaceship was coming at them, flying lower and lower, lifting up a powerful wind, raising dust. They all gaped at it as it flew over their heads and they took a good look at it – there was no doubt about it anymore. Frieza's unmistakable circular ship was gliding down towards the ground, roaring, and it landed with a loud clashing sound a little bit further, luckily not directly next to them.

Frieza's menacing, furious, twisted dark aura was stronger than ever all over their senses.

"There's no doubt about it," Kakarot's son said quietly. "It's Frieza. He's alive."

The Krillin guy nodded grimly. "There's someone else," he said after a pause. "That's… even more powerful."

Vegeta couldn't believe it. Or better he could, but that didn't make it any less inconceivable. What the hell had happened on Namek?

Vegeta snarled. The answer not only was in front of his eyes. If you actually stopped and thought about it – It was goddamn obvious.

Indeed, the opposite situation – Kakarot killing Frieza without mercy and making sure he stayed dead – was the preposterous one and, all along, they had all been a bunch of fools believing that Kakarot could actually get the job done. He was too soft and a disgrace for the Saiyan race.

Vegeta felt his blood boil. "Listen up!" he shouted. " Nobody is allowed to fly! We're going on foot so we can keep our power levels hidden!"

It wasn't a request or an advice. If they wanted to get out of that freaking jam – and Vegeta wanted it more than anything – they had to use their brains. Did the blasted idiots have one of those? They'd be better following his orders.

Their only hope was a surprise attack.

"Let's go!" he ordered and, without waiting for a response, he started the painfully slow trek to the spot where Frieza's spaceship had landed. He didn't turn to see if the others were following, but he knew they were. With the corner of his eyes, he saw the three-eyed Tien catch up with him.

They had to climb a steep, rocky wall in order to gain the upper hand and assess the situation and they did so in silence, power levels at the minimum, the rocks grazing their hands and yet nobody uttered a sound – except – the woman. Who grunted, whined and was overall a huge nuisance as she had to rely on Gohan to make it to the top. On planet Vegeta she would have been left behind immediately, Vegeta thought with a snarl.

Finally, they made it. They had a fairly decent view of the spaceship, it was right below them. Squinting, Vegeta counted at least twelve on Frieza's stupid minions.

Krillin crouched and looked down before his face took an interesting shade of grey. "That's…" he stuttered. "That's…"

Gohan finished the thought for him. "He's turned himself into some kind of cyborg," he said, looking down at Frieza.

Bowl-haircut Yamcha stared at them, dumbfounded. He had never seen Frieza before, after all. "How… how bad is that?" he asked.

"In a scale of one to ten?" Krillin replied darkly.

Yamcha let out a nervous laugh. "Nah, I don't wanna know."

"Ten!"

"Bulma!?"

The blue-haired woman narrowed her eyes. "Well, if he's half mechanical," she said, waving a finger, "he'll probably be less exposed to pain, for starters."

Yamcha gaped at her. "Seriously, you're not helping," he said.

"Hey!" she replied, indignant. "I'm a scientist, I'm analyzing things over!"

Vegeta growled. The woman could actually have a point. "Woman!" he demanded. "Do you think there could be a weak spot in his mechanic parts?"

Bulma shrugged. "I don't know," she said and Vegeta lost his very thin patience.

"So now you're done analyzing?!" he snarled.

The woman scowled at him. "I said I don't know!" she shouted. "Why don't you go over there and analyze for yourself?"

"Keep quiet, both of you!"

The Namekian cut them off firmly. "Or we might as well fly in there waving our arms like idiots with a death wish!"

"It would be better than having to deal with any of you morons!"

"Wait, Vegeta," Kakarot's son intervened. "Who's the other one?"

Vegeta crossed his arms on his chest. "That's King Cold," he answered. "Frieza's father."

The Namekian didn't give his companions any time to process the information. He looked down at the spaceship, then threw a sideways glance at Vegeta.

"So," he said, his voice gruff. "What plan do you have in mind?"

"Are you kidding us, Piccolo?" Tien said, an incredulous expression on his face. "How can you tell he won't turn on us?"

Vegeta ignored him, plain and simply. He looked down as well. They had to get rid of Frieza's subordinates first, and fast.

"You idiots take them from the right," he said. "I take them from the left."

He heard the others snort but paid no attention.

"What if they get away?" Gohan said.

"I'll just blow them up."

Krillin scratched his head. "Well, I like it," he began. "Simple and easy to remember, right?"

Vegeta powered up. "NOW!" he bellowed and shot to the left like some kind of blue lightning, as the others scrambled to do as they were told.

"Wait! Are you leaving me here by myself?! I HATE! I HATE YOU ALL!" the woman shrieked into the wind.

Vegeta charged an attack and shot it to his target, the blast hitting a red-haired minion right in his chest, sending him flying backwards onto two of his comrades.

He sensed, rather than saw, the others doing the same on the other side and didn't stop.

He charged on through the dust, dodging a red laser aimed at his head, countering the attack with a powerful ki blast, taking down another one, then he disposed of another ki attack directed at him by slapping it away with a knife-hand strike.

With his other hand he returned the favor, and down went another sycophant. And another.

And another.

When the dust settled, all of Frieza's subordinates were dead, face down on the dirt like useless puppets. Looked like the morons had done their homework, Vegeta thought.

They were all standing in a circle, surrounding Frieza and King Cold, everybody in their ready stance.

Maybe their chances weren't so slim after all.

Frieza let out a metallic, soulless laugh.

"Well, well, well," he said, a cold smile slowly making its way on his creepy features. "If it isn't my little friend Vegeta. Holding onto life like a cockroach, aren't you?"

Vegeta held Frieza's red stare and bended his knees lower, ready to spring into action. "Look who's talking," he spat, looking at Frieza with hatred.

Frieza sneered. "It looks like that party came to us after all, Father."

King Cold let his eyes wander on the seven warriors surrounding them. "Indeed."

"Enough with the pleasantries, Frieza!" Vegeta bellowed. "Bring it on!"

"Don't be rude, Vegeta," Frieza said the malevolent smile leaving his face at once. His expression was stone cold when he spoke again. "You already had the honor of being killed with a flick of my fingers," he said. "Let's give someone else the pleasure."

Vegeta felt the other warriors hold their breaths, but nobody moved from their position.

Frieza stretched an arm, a sphere of purple, burning light forming in his palm, sizzling.

"Let's see," he said, shifting his eyes on their faces, slowly moving his arm to face each of them. "I think I'll start with…"

He stopped. "You."

Gohan's eyes widened.

"NO!" Piccolo yelled in the same instant Frieza fired.

A flash of light, a loud bang, a crash, and Gohan toppled backward, falling on his rear end.

He gasped audibly.

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