Dragon Ball Z: Achillea

Vegeta's Gamble

Meanwhile, back in the desert, the soldiers of the Cold Empire under General Shoul's command were hard at work getting their forward base up and running. Having found a decent sized cave, the soldiers had since expanded it, carving out several tunnels to store salvaged equipment, barracks for the soldiers and a makeshift command center.

Vegeta had not been pleased that it had taken them this long to organize but given his conditions of not attacking native settlements, he had to accept it. The few power generators the crew had managed to put together where sketchy at best. They were barely able to put out enough power to get the basic equipment running and were almost constantly giving out simply from the dust falling from the ceiling.

General Shoul hounded his men constantly, despite the setbacks, to use their long-range scanner to locate the rest of their fleet, per Vegeta's orders. Once they were located, Shoul had planned to contact them and get a status update on all vessels. There was no other way to know how many ships had survived the battle or how many had managed to stay hidden from the Yousari fleet that was still pursuing them. The next course of action would become clear once Vegeta had a better idea of what he was dealing with.

At first, his treatment as the new lord had felt odd.

It had been years since the Saiyan prince had men at his beck and call. Following orders without question, and refraining from eye contact like he was some kind of god. In all honesty, Vegeta reveled in it. It was like coming back to work at a job that you always loved. No one was mouthing off, telling him what he should be doing, crying for his help with some miniscule task. It felt every bit as great as he remembered. Of course, his enjoyment never made it to the surface. He made sure that all the men saw was a calm, calculating Saiyan warrior that could blast them to smithereens whenever he chose.

And even though he felt good, he never lost sight of his goal. Nothing was going to get in the way of completing it.

"This is taking too long." he said finally. Tapping his fingers against his crossed arms as the soldiers in the command center continued their work. Hearing his voice made them wince and turn to regard him. Only to turn back around the second he made eye contact. General Shoul, standing next to him, tried to give yet another excuse.

"Please my lord, be a bit more patient. Given the power limitations and location, this is as fast as my men can work. Perhaps if my lord reconsidered his conditions regarding the native populace, we would have more energy and tools at our disposal?" Shoul said snidely.

"For the last time, my conditions remain the same. If you do not follow those orders, our partnership will be null and void." Vegeta said coldly.

"As you wish. Perhaps the next shift will work fast enough to please you."

Out of the surviving crew, most of the technical minded ones had been segregated into separate shifts, working on the base's power systems and now tracking the ships of the fleet with the long range scanner. Men exhausted from the non-stop work would be replaced by the following shift and rested until their turn came again. Tracking the fleet had been a non-stop project and since they had begun last night, over 56 ships had been found. According to some of the technicians however, several of the ships' ID signatures had not responded to the signals; meaning that either the ships had fled and changed identification, or had been destroyed. Either way, they were useless to Vegeta.

"Got another one!" One technician shouted. "The Andromeda is still intact and hiding out in the Yarlsha asteroid belt."

"Damn. I don't know what's crazier. A ship hiding there and not taking any damage or the dumb-ass who thought that hiding there would be a good idea." another chuckled.

"Hey it worked didn't it? Adding the ID to the scouters now."

"See my lord? It will only be a matter of time before all these ships will be at your disposal." General Shoul said confidently. Vegeta wasn't sure how much more of the alien's excessive groveling he could take. Some of it he enjoyed sure, but other times it became downright annoying. Regardless, there were more surviving ships than he had anticipated. He clenched his fists tight.

Just a little longer.

"Keep working!" Shoul ordered when he noticed Vegeta's quiet irritation. "Your break will be double in length if you succeed in locating the rest of the fleet!"

Their morale reinvigorated, the technicians doubled their efforts calling out a few more ship names as the minutes flew by. It wasn't long after the name of the last ship was called, that they reached their total number, 42.

"That can't be! Check again! There must be more!" General Shoul shouted.

"I'm sorry sir, but this is the third time we've gone through the list. None of the other ships are showing up on the long range scanner."

"Damn those Yousari. A fleet over 200 strong just...gone. All of that effort for nothing!" Shoul growled as he punched the cave wall, causing it to shake. He turned to face Vegeta when he realized that he was being watched.

"Uh, my most sincere apologies my lord but...this is just a minor setback. We may not have enough equipment to construct new ships, but I believe we may be able to turn the war in our favor if we rely on guerrilla battle strategies. Isolate the enemies strongest ships and wear them down bit by bit."

"Do you have the exact location of each ship?" Vegeta said, ignoring Shoul's posturing much to the latter's irritation.

"Y-yes sir." the head technician stuttered, his back going straight as a board.

"Let me see."

Vegeta walked closer to the small monitor as a galaxy map appeared on the screen. Tiny red dots were highlighted across the map, while a small blue one indicated Earth. Just as expected, 42 red dots appeared all across the map. Scattered a good distance away from each other. Vegeta's brow furrowed when he saw them.

Not as close as he would have liked but in hindsight it didn't really matter.

"Very good. I want this downloaded and stored for transport." He said curtly. General Shoul looked at his new lord confused.

"What for my lord? All we need do now is contact the remaining fleet and get a rescue effort together. No need to record information that is bound to change."

"Did you ever question Frieza's orders General?"

"Well, no sir but-"

"Then you and your men will do as I say. Or suffer the consequences."

That was more than enough to put down Shoul's argument. Though he still narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

"What are you waiting for? An order has been given! Get to it!" Shoul shouted.

It only took a few seconds for the data to transfer to a small storage device, no bigger than his thumb. The head technician gave it to Vegeta who immediately pocketed it.

"Well done. Now then, on the next order of business." Vegeta said giving his signature smirk.

"Very well my lord. Now as I said the best course of action would be-" Shoul started to say when a powerful ki blast erupted from Vegeta's hand. Colliding with the head technician and ripping a hole in his chest.

Without hesitation, Vegeta systematically did the same with each following technician and soldier that came into his line of sight. The force of explosions radiated heat in the small tunnels, turning the stone to a dull red. The already unstable cave shook violently as alien soldiers were blasted across the cave, creating new tunnels and collapsing old ones. Some of the stronger warriors attempted to put up a fight but where quickly dispatched as Vegeta's attacks tore right through them. General Shoul stared on in absolute horror as all that remained of his crew died one by one.

"My-my lord..."he stammered, looking like he was about to wet himself. "What are you doing?! We-we had a deal!"

"I don't recall ever giving you my word General. You simply offered your services to me and I made use of them. Now that I have what I want, you and your men are no use to me anymore." Vegeta said proudly surveying the piles of charred corpses scattered around the base. Shoul's tried to hide his fear with rage, clenching his teeth and fists. Vegeta smirked when he could still hear the general's teeth chattering.

"What you wanted? We were shipwrecked! Most of our valuable equipment was destroyed! What did we possibly have to offer-" Shoul shouted but stopped dead when the realization finally hit him. "The fleet-you wanted the location of all our ships?"

"Bravo! Well done. You seemed to have earned your rank after all." Vegeta held out the storage device. Waving it in front of Shoul before putting it away. Shoul narrowed his eyes and dropped into a fighting stance.

"Should have known better than entrusting our fate to a monkey. Even if you hated Lord Frieza for what he did to your people, how can you pass up an opportunity to take over his legacy?" Shoul said as he slowly took several steps back toward the command center's communication device. An act that didn't go unnoticed by the Saiyan Prince.

"Hmph, what legacy?" Vegeta said smugly. "You said it yourself, without your master the empire is crumbling to pieces. And thanks to the Yousari it's only a matter of time before the Planet Trade Organization is put out of business. A job I'm eager to help along."

"You bastard! Generations of transactions to create the ultimate empire, years of sacrifices and hard work. Your work! You'd throw it all away, and for what?"

"So that you annoying flies never bother me again." Vegeta said coldly as he began to walk toward Shoul. The alien general looked desperately for places to retreat but Vegeta had him cornered. "It was my mistake to believe that scum like you would just kill each other after Frieza's death. And I've been in need of a little excitement recently." Vegeta smiled.

"A little trip into space to visit old friends sounds like just the vacation I need."

Shoul screamed and charged at the Saiyan Prince, punching and kicking at anything that looked like an opening in his defenses. Yet no matter how hard he tried, Vegeta dodged each blow with ease. As the Prince prepared a counter attack, the general, out of reflex, blasted a ball of ki at point blank.

Though it forced Vegeta a few inches away, it was far to weak to leave a single scratch. Shoul trembled violently as his options of escape vanished. In a matter of seconds, Vegeta dashed in front of him and with a mere two blows had almost completely incapacitated the last general of the Cold Empire. With his last ounce of strength Shoul crawled toward the command console. Reaching up to grab the it for support.

"Heh." Shoul smiled as he tried to stifle a bloody cough. "Its almost poetic. After all my years of loyal service to the empire, I am to share my lord's fate."

"More like pathetic. If the situation had been reversed, Frieza would have left you for dead."

"Hm! Perhaps, but at least I lived by my principles and never sacrificed them for anything. My conscience is clean. Can you truly say the same?"

"What are you blathering about now?" Vegeta asked, daring the little slime ball to say something to piss him off.

"My family has served the Cold line for 13 generations, loyalty has been branded into our very genetic code. As such, every action I've taken, no matter the outcome, has always been for my lord and his family. Even here, at the end, I have no regrets." He said as he struggled to stand. "But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you Vegeta?"

The Saiyan Prince narrowed his eyes.

"It is your nature to lie and betray. It is one of the very things that convinced Lord Frieza to destroy your people while he had the chance. The reason that your race is reviled by the entire galactic community. You may put on airs of being satisfied with this rock of planet, but when a better opportunity comes along, you'll discard it. Anything to serve your needs. So you see, I may go to hell for my actions, but I'm sure that King Yemma has a special spot reserved for someone like you. And nothing you do is ever going to change that."

Vegeta grit his teeth. He was tired of Shoul's failed attempts to threaten him. However just as he was preparing to finish him off, Shoul made his move.

"In fact, why wait when I can arrange your meeting with him in advance." The general said pressing a button on his damaged scouter. A sharp sound of a signal came on the speakers of the base as a prerecorded message echoed down the tunnels.

"Attention to all vessels of the Cold Empire! This is General Shoul speaking!" The sound of blaster fire, screaming and explosions in the background could only mean that the message had been recorded before the ship had crashed on Earth. "If this message is being relayed to you, both myself and my crew are dead. Killed by the Yousari or the one responsible for Lord Frieza's demise.

However, I urge you to not lose heart. For it is with you alone that the future of this empire rests. As one of King Cold's most trusted soldiers, I and I alone am in possession of his remaining legacy. Seven hundred billion credits. Personally saved by the King himself from all of the business transactions of the Planet Trade Organization. The information of the legacy's whereabouts are kept in a indestructible black storage device which I have kept by my side. To those of you who are brave enough to come and claim it, here are the coordinates of my crew's last location. Destroy everything in your way and the legacy will be yours to do with as you please. Glory to the Cold Empire and the Planet Trade Organ-"

Several ki blasts cut off the last bit of the recording as Vegeta destroyed the speakers.

"Your wasting your time!" Shoul shouted with glee. "Has it been so long since you last used a scouter, you forget their communication capabilities? The rest of the fleet should be receiving this planet's coördinates as we speak." The reptilian alien howled with laughter as Vegeta tried to contain his anger, with little success. Shoul just sneered. "42 ships may not be enough to destroy the Yousari fleet. But it's more than enough to wipe out every living thing on this planet. Even you with all your strength, you couldn't possibly take on a whole fleet single-handed."

Vegeta lunged forward and grabbed Shoul by the collar of his armor. Shoul made no effort to resist. He knew he was going to die, but still he smiled with satisfaction of his victory. "That's right. You never saw your planet get destroyed did you Vegeta? Now you'll get to witness it first hand. I certainly hope you haven't made any serious attachments to this one!" Shoul cackled like a madman even as Vegeta shoved him into the cave wall. His ki rising to the boiling point. Shoul's scouter tried to keep up but eventually shorted out. Vegeta slowly tightened his grip on Shoul's neck.

Why bother giving scum like this a quick and painless death. He was going to pay dearly for what he had done. Vegeta felt his power reach the first tier as his muscles bulged slightly and ki surged through his body, turning his hair gold. The sight of it silenced Shoul in seconds.

"Your!...This." He stammered. "This is impossible!" he began to scream in terror.

"For a Saiyan, nothing is impossible. Your about to get your wish Shoul. Feel the same fear your master felt before he met his end. But I promise your demise will me MUCH more painful!"

An ungodly scream echoed through the cave as Vegeta kept his word.

With the deed done, Vegeta destroyed all the tunnels and the entrance to the main cave. He decided to keep his energy damper as a souvenir. As he floated above the desert canyon, he began to plan for the invasion that was surly on its way. As much as he hated to admit it, Shoul had been correct. 42 ships armed to the teeth and staffed with bloodthirsty fighters was more than he could handle on his own.

With his super saiyan forms it woud have been a breeze, but he had no way of knowing if the damper could suppress that much ki at once. There was the chance that if it failed, he would alert the Yousari to his presence making an already bad situation worse. Like it or not, he was going to have to get them and possibly the others involved if they were going to have a chance at keeping the Cold Fleet contained. The fact he had to limit his power was beyond irritating, but being discovered and igniting the Yousari's wrath was an even worse scenario. One that would certainly put the planet in greater jeopardy.

He was going to have to get in touch with Kakarot and give him the news. But first thing was first.

"Your watching aren't you old man?" He said aloud.

'I have a name you know! Geez, nobody respects me any more.' King Kai complained telepathically. 'You do one guy a favor and suddenly your everybody's nanny.'

"I don't have time to listen to your complaining! Have you been monitoring the situation or not?"

'Of course I have! It's not like I have anything better to do up here. Besides putting in another repair order for my planet, thanks a lot Goku.' The North Kai grumbled.

"Then tell me how long we have before the fleet arrives."

'Alright, give me a sec.' A few minutes passed as Vegeta waited for a reply. He had to wonder, as a Kai, why scanning an entire universe had to take so long. 'Yep, I see them. Moving pretty fast by the look of it. Guess they're all looking to make a quick buck.'

"How long?" Vegeta reiterated.

'If they keep up this speed, my best estimate is two weeks.'

"Damn it!" Vegeta said through clinched teeth. He had hoped they would have more time to prepare but he hadn't considered how fast these ships could travel compared to the standard space pod. He was going to have to move quickly.

"I want you to keep me updated on their progress."

'You expect me to take orders from you?'

"If you want Planet Earth and your precious protegé to make it out of this alive, then yes."

'Fine.' King Kai sighed. 'I'll get back to you if they slow down or change course.'

"Good." Vegeta said as he gained altitude and flew toward the horizon.

'So what's the plan? The least you can do is fill me in.' King Kai asked.

"Once Kakarot knows whats going on, I plan to lay low. I can still move about freely with this device but I don't want to take any chances if the Yousari plan to do the same. The Lookout should suffice even if I cannot use the Hyperbolic Time chamber."

'What happens when the Yousari find out they're coming?'

"I'm counting on it. If they don't hear it from Kakarot, their own men will notify them."

'And how do you expect to take on an entire fleet, while keeping yourself hidden from old enemies who will be fighting on the same battlefield?'

"That is for me to know and for you to find out." Vegeta replied. He had a plan, but it would depend on a lot of uncertain variables and he was not about to reveal that to the Kai.

'I'm sure I don't have to remind you Vegeta, what will happen if Queen Clemartis discovers you're alive and well.'

"No. You don't." he said grimly as he flew in the direction of the Lookout.

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