Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

            “What about my son?”

 

            “No, not Kakarot.  You have another son, he—”

 

            “What has Raditz done this time?”

 

            “No, not Raditz.  You have another son.  I’m taking care of him right now.  I need help, though.  He’ll be killed if he isn’t sent off planet soon. I need your help, I…”

 

*           *           *

 

            Pazru broke out of his endlessly circling thoughts as a sharp spike of pain rippled through his scalp.  The baby, a lock of Pazru’s long green hair tightly clasped in one fist, giggled and tugged harder.  Grimacing in pain, the young man smoothed his fingers down the captured piece of hair until he reached the baby’s hand.  He slid his fingers firmly down the silky strands and pushed away the tiny grasping fingers.  An absent-minded look on his face, he moved quickly and set the child on the floor. Walking away to lean against the nearest countertop, he let his mind drift back again to the run-in he had had with Bardock three days before.

 

            The child stared at his lanky caretaker in mingled anger and confusion.  He cocked his head to the side and studied the glazed-eyed face of the tall young man standing on the opposite side of the room from him. The tip of his tail curled into a tight spiral and then released, curled again, released.  The Orange Man (as he liked to think of him) was different today, quieter; the child knew this, but was too young to understand exactly what the difference was.  He wasn’t fun like usual, throwing him up into the air and catching him, tickling his sides.  It made him angry to be ignored by the Orange Man.  The infant growled and whipped his tail back and forth behind him in agitation.  He was angry because the Orange Man’s behavior was making him feel like he had felt before, with the other person, the Bad Man.  The Bad Man had hurt him and eventually had begun to ignore him, and that had made him feel insignificant and weak.  His tail stopped its movements and settled about his waist in one single, fluid motion.  A look of fear crossed briefly over his face and he popped one of his thumbs into his mouth and began to suck at it thoughtfully.

 

            The Orange Man wouldn’t hurt him, would he?  He wouldn’t stop bringing food like the Bad Man had, would he?  He shuddered as flashes of the Bad Man zapping him with the little box he always carried and then striking him entered his mind.  He hunched over his knees into a tight little ball and began to rock slowly from side to side, the motion comforting him.  Tears pricked at his eyes, but he refused to let them fall.  The Orange Man had yelled at him plenty of times, but never had he struck him.  He didn’t think that his gentle caretaker had the capacity for violence that the Bad Man had, but the vacant look that was on the Orange Man’s face right now wasn’t very reassuring. 

 

            Bright light and a jumble of images suddenly flashed before his eyes and he clasped his head in his hands.  The vision didn’t relent but attacked his mind again.  A large red sphere on a plain of white bursting into tiny pieces and the weakly smiling, blood-streaked face of a dying man superimposed themselves onto his vision.  Grimacing in pain, the child shook his head violently to clear it of the disturbing pictures. 

 

            Not again.  The images were coming again.  They were always the same.  The exploding crimson ball and the dying man.  The child buried his hands in his thick hair and pushed against his skull with all the strength he could muster.  The visions intensified for a moment, the colors sharpening and the images becoming frighteningly real for a moment before blending back together and fading away quickly.  Cold sweat popped up all over his body and the child heaved in a breath, gulping the air as eagerly as he would the food the Orange Man always brought with him.  His body began to shudder uncontrollably and he popped his thumb back in his mouth in an attempt to calm himself and dispel the shakes. 

 

He didn’t like to see these things.  They scared him and made his head hurt.  To him, the visions seemed to have been coming on and off for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality they had only just started a little less than a day ago.   He didn’t understand what these scary pictures meant, and that thought frightened him even more.  Hot tears trembled in his eyes and spilled over onto his cheeks.  The child whimpered quietly and began to rock even more frantically. 

 

He knew that his brother was seeing the exact same images because he could sense the connection between them—the hazy presence in the back of his mind that had grown less and less as the time he and his twin had spent apart had increased—become stronger when the visions came.  And he sensed that there was another person, an adult, someone who he had never met before but held a strong connection to nonetheless, that was also having in these strange visions.  In fact, they originated from him. 

 

Threads of anger pulsed dully in his mind and down his spine, spiking up the fur on his tail.  The child hated the man for causing him and his brother so much pain.  Another emotion that he couldn’t place tightened itself in a cold uneasy knot in his belly.  For some reason, he felt bad that he hated the man who had sent him the frightening images. 

 

Confused with these conflicting emotions and cold now that the sweat had begun to dry on his small body, the child threw back his head and began to wail loudly.  Startled by the noise, Pazru jumped and glanced frantically about the room for the source.  He immediately darted over to the other side of the room and scooped the screaming child up into his arms.  The infant Saiyan buried his head in the young man’s tunic and sobbed inconsolably, his chest hitching with the force of each breath.  A troubled look passed over Pazru’s face as he stared down at the bawling child in his arms. He gently rubbed the infant’s bare back and cooed tenderly at him. 

 

He didn’t like this recent development in the child one bit.  It bothered him to see the normally active (to say pleasant and good-natured would be a stretch) baby in such a pitiful state.  He had been unusually sulky and listless as of late; if this had been any other Saiyan baby in the nursery, Pazru would have taken one look at the child and concluded that he was suffering from the effects of hunger.  However, he knew for a fact that this was not the case.  He went to such lengths as to make several return visits to the mess hall for extra food to confirm that the child was well nourished. 

 

Pazru shifted his weight to his other hip and adjusted the still shaking, but much quieter bundle in his arms.  He stroked the soft black hair and hummed quietly as he thought.  This seemingly odd behavior couldn’t actually be part of normal Saiyan development, could it?  Pazru frowned and bit his lip.  He didn’t think so, but then again, he had never been around a Saiyan child this age since most were sent to other planets about a week after birth. 

 

            His lips suddenly curved into a small smile.  Probably the only people who knew anything about Saiyan development after that first week or two would be the unfortunate inhabitants of the planet the baby was scheduled to clear, and Pazru sincerely doubted that any would survive to tell the tale.  He smiled grimly.  “Maybe you’ll be the one to write the book on it.  That is, if you manage to make it through this alive.”  It was a dark and gloomy thought, but would probably end up to be true in the end. 

 

He glanced down at the whimpering child in his arms.  Pazru didn’t think that the baby would try to kill him.  True, Saiyans were unpredictable, but their loyalties to companions and kin were typically very strong.  He had been caring for this child since he was born and knew without a doubt that the child trusted him.  The way he was clinging to his tunic right now was almost irrefutable proof of that point.  Loyal or not, Pazru was going to do whatever he could to make sure this child survived.

 

A sudden thought crossed his mind.  It was a brief memory, an image of Bardock standing with his face pressed against the viewing window of the nursery staring in on Kakarot.  Pazru’s brow furrowed in concentration.  Something inside of him told him that this memory held the explanation to this odd behavior.  Let me see,” he thought to himself.  Kakarot was sound asleep…until or shortly before Bardock arrived. Then I went out to talk to Bardock, which was absolutely pointless,” he frowned in remembrance and rubbed idly at his bruised elbow.  “Bardock fell into some sort of trance-like state while I was trying to talk to him.  If I can remember correctly, Kakarot …. Kakarot’s cries actually intensified when Bardock zoned out.  Hmmm,” Pazru looked off to the side, his brow wrinkling in deep concentration.  “What is the connection though?  As far as I know, that was the first time Bardock and his son had ever met, so Kakarot shouldn’t have had any lingering negative feelings against him.  Could it be that whatever is affecting Bardock since he has awakened is affecting his son also?  Realization dawned on Pazru’s face and he glanced down at the sniffling baby huddled against his chest.  Make that both sons; Kakarot hasn’t been the only baby of the two who has been suffering from fits of inconsolable crying lately.”

 

“But what exactly is wrong with Bardock?” Pazru thought, frustrated.  The Saiyan had been staring vacantly off into space, almost as if he was in another place or world.  For those few seconds he had taken his twin sons with him.  Judging from the way the two babies had reacted to the experience, whatever they had seen or felt hadn’t been too pleasant.    

 

The infant in his arms turned his tear-streaked face up and stared at Pazru.  The young man met his dark, troubled eyes, smiled warmly, and chucked his chin with one hand.  “What did you see that bothered you so much, little guy?” he asked gently.  The child’s face suddenly lightened and he stretched grasping hands towards Pazru’s face.  Pazru, an amused expression on his face, bent his head forward and let the child touch his face.  Tiny fingers moved over and down his cheeks lightly.  They tightened around his chin, pulling his face down so that the two of them were nearly nose-to-nose.  The child shut his eyes, his brow furrowing in concentration.  He pulled Pazru’s head closer to his own so that their foreheads just barely touched.  

 

The young man nearly reared backward in shock as the room disappeared around him, replaced by a blinding, red-tinged light.  Random, scattered images appeared, became distinct, then merged back with the bloody background.  The images slowed briefly, enough for him to pick out a few from the disturbing kaleidoscope swirling before his eyes.  He could see a man, a Saiyan from the spiky black hair and hard, feral eyes.  Blood ran in dark rivulets down the sides of his face; he was dying.  The Saiyan’s lips moved, but Pazru was able to discern no sound coming from them.  Then that image was replaced by another, this one of a large, red ball (a planet perhaps?) swirling in space.  The planet suddenly exploded into a million tiny pieces.  Pazru jerked backwards, trying to avoid the flying hunks of rock as they passed by him. 

 

His movements broke the connection and the room suddenly reappeared around him.  Sweat was running down the sides of his face in streams and he was shaking with the intensity of the visions.  A breathless cry issued from his lips and he pressed his eyes shut and shook his reeling head to clear it.  Still gasping, he opened his eyes.  Only inches away, the child was staring at him with a sad, yet relieved, expression on his face.  A single tear ran down his cheek.  He patted Pazru’s face gently and began to speak to him in gibberish. 

 

Da da eee ee?  Buh da oo?” he jabbered, a serious expression on his face.

 

Pazru nodded.  He didn’t need words to understand what the child was trying to ask him.  “Yes, I see.”  He smoothed an errant strand of hair from the child’s face and smiled tenderly at him.  “I may not understand what those things mean, but I see them.” A rare smile crossed the child’s features and he snuggled into Pazru’s chest, his arms wrapped around his neck and his tail around his wrist.  Pazru, having recovered slightly from the deluge of images, returned his smile, hugged him close, and buried his face in the soft spiky hair on the child’s head. 

 

*           *           *

 

            The shower was warm and soothing after the harrowing last few days that had just passed.  Pazru leaned into the spray and let his skin and hair soak up the steaming water.  He sighed in relief and let his shoulders sag.  It was so good to be back in his quarters again.  This day seemed to have lasted for nearly an eternity.  His hand strayed to the small shelf that extended from the shower’s smooth interior and the plastic jar that rested on it.  He fumbled with the lid for a brief moment and then shook it over his body.  A thick blue powder floated downward from the open container and foamed up immediately as the water mixed with it.  Pazru rubbed the soap into his skin and hair, scrubbing away the sweat and grime of a long day’s work. 

 

            Kakarot’s papers had finally gone through and he had been assigned his first mission.  The target: a small, out-of-the-way planet named Chikyuusei.  It was a fitting destination for a third-class Saiyan infant and he would more likely than not thrive there.  At least that was what Pazru had assumed when he had read over the mission directives the first ten times.

 

            He had been put in charge of all of the preparations for Kakarot’s departure and, not being the most adept leader, the nursery had been thrown into near chaos.  Scleren had been preoccupied with other things that he had crustily refused to name.  The old doctor had been grumpier than usual lately.  He had waken Pazru in the early hours before the first sun rose (Pazru had just barely returned to his quarters from feeding the child not an hour before), led him to the nursery, and told him that he was to see to the preparations for Kakarot’s departure.  Besides that, Scleren had not been very forthcoming with suggestions, growling angrily at him to “get used to it,” before storming off to his own living quarters. 

 

            The rest of the day was pretty much a blur of activity after that.  Pazru remembered rushing about the nursery throwing out orders, sometimes the same order to two or more different people.  The result had been a confused group of over 30 med-center personnel running back and forth throughout the complex with papers, blankets, and other items clasped in their hands, asking him questions and receiving nothing but questions in return.   Worse yet, flashes of the disturbing visions the child had given to him (dumped on him was a better description, but Pazru wasn’t about to complain; he had wanted to know what Bardock and the twins had been seeing) kept coming up during the course of the past three days, making it difficult for him to concentrate on the task at hand.  Also, he had been unable to sneak off to care for the child until the very end of the day since seemingly every staff member in the entire complex wanted his opinion on the best cryo-sleep program to use in the pod or whether or not Kakarot would need an extra blanket and a million other mostly inane questions to which he had no answer. 

 

            Pazru sighed and watched the filmy soap suds slide off of his body and down the drain at his feet.   First he had only been responsible for completing his homework assignments and other tasks, then taking care of the baby, and now Scleren had put him in charge of preparing for Kakarot’s departure.  Pazru let his forehead rest against the smooth wet surface of the shower wall and shut his eyes.  Sometimes life seemed too difficult to deal with sometimes.  At least there were only two days left until Kakarot’s pod would launch.  Then all this leadership business would cease, at least until the next baby was born, and that was assuming that Scleren would allow him to take over the launch preparations again after the royal mess he would most likely make of this one.    

 

            Pazru turned off the water, the handle giving a rusty squeal as he did so, and stepped out of the stall.  Grabbing a towel from the stack hidden in the cupboard beneath the sink, he began to briskly dry himself.  Still toweling his hair off, he stepped naked into the main room of his small apartment in the complex.   

 

            Geez, Paz, show some shame, why don’t ya?”  Pazru gave a startled yelp and jerked the towel down to cover himself.  Kyokou’s eyebrows rose in an appraising look and he whistled.  “I see now why this girl of yours is so enamored with you.  Wow.”  He threw his head back and laughed as the other man stood before him, mouth opening and closing wordlessly.

 

            Finally, blushing furiously, Pazru managed to break his paralysis.  He darted to the small closet on the far side of the room and began to dress himself, using the closet’s door to block his body from view.  Fully clothed, he stepped over to the small, ratty couch on which Kyokou was reclining with his eyes shut, his hands folded behind his head. His helmet, scouter carefully tucked inside, lay on the floor beside him. He cracked open an eye, took one look at Pazru’s indignant expression, and started laughing all over again.

 

            “Come on, Paz, it’s not like I interrupted you while you were in the middle of something important or anything,” he said with a grin and a suggestive wink.  “Besides, a few of the guys mentioned that some crazy bum had been trying to reach me and, figuring that they couldn’t be talking about anyone else but you, I decided to stop by and see how you were getting along.”  He eyed Pazru again and grinned.  “At least you cleaned yourself up.” 

 

            Pazru sighed and relaxed, all signs of anger leaving his face.  There was just no way he could stay upset with Kyokou for very long, especially when he had that ever-present, idiotic grin on his face.

 

            “Where have you been, you idiot?” he yelled in mock annoyance and anger at his friend. 

 

            Kyokou’s smile widened, but he looked weary.  “At the palace.  I thought that the guys told you that.”

 

            “Yes, they did, but what took you so long to get back?”

 

            “Delays.”  He shrugged and looked away, unwilling to add more.  Pazru didn’t press him.  Judging from the dark circles lining the undersides of his friend’s normally bright blue eyes and the wrinkles in his normally crisp, clean uniform, Kyokou had had quite a harrowing time these past few days.

 

            “So, do you want a drink?”

 

            “No, thanks.  I have to pull duty down at the pad in another fifteen minutes or so, so it would be best if I didn’t stay too long.”  Pazru nodded in agreement and sat down in the chair facing the couch.  He wanted desperately to ask Kyokou if any pods had become available, but decided to remain silent, figuring that since he had just returned it was unlikely that he had had the time to find one.  Kyokou studied his face intently.

 

            “Two days,” he said quietly.

 

            “What?”

 

            “Two days until your pod to Frieza #93 leaves, so get packing,” he repeated in the same calm, surprisingly serious voice. 

 

            Pazru stared numbly at the other man, not quite able to believe what he was hearing.  Kyokou smiled again.  He stretched, swung his feet to the floor, and bent to retrieve his helmet and scouter.  Yawning, he turned to walk to the door. 

 

            “Well, Paz, it’s been a blast, but I’ve got to go the pad before I pass out on your couch.”  Still pleasantly shocked, Pazru followed him to the door.  Kyokou turned around suddenly and grabbed his upper arm in a tight grip.  “And, Pazru, pack for a long trip.  My advice would be to stay away from Vegetasei as long as possible.”

 

            Wha…what?”

 

            Kyokou sighed, glanced nervously at the closed door panel, and walked back to the center of the room, Pazru in tow behind him.  An apprehensive look on his face, he looked the room over again.  He leaned in close to Pazru’s face and began to whisper quietly into his ear, his eyes still traveling over the room as if he suspected that they were being watched.  Pazru’s eyes widened in shock as he listened intently to his friend’s words.

 

            “So you’re saying that he had one of his guards contact the palace saying that they had arrived but he never sent word that he was returning?”

 

            Shh, Paz, not so loud,” Kyokou replied, waving his hand to indicate a lower volume.  He began to whisper into Pazru’s ear again. 

 

            “Wow!  What does that mean?” Pazru, being careful to keep his voice low, queried.  His friend gave him a troubled look and shook his head in a “I don’t know” gesture.  “Do you think that he and the others were….were killed then?”

 

            “Maybe.  It’s hard to say.  He may have forgotten, but it’s just not like the king to forego set procedures.”  Kyokou’s face clouded momentarily and he idly began to chew at one ragged fingernail.  “And the way Frieza had been acting lately towards the Saiyans….well, I don’t hold much hope that any member of the envoy, King Vegeta included, survived.”

 

            “But you don’t know that for certain,” Pazru reassured him as well as himself.  “It could be like you said, he just forgot, or there could have been some malfunction in the pod’s communication systems.” 

 

Kyokou’s eyebrows rose and he flashed him a skeptical look.  “Not highly likely.  All of the pods would have had to have carried the same malfunction.  Besides, even if all of the communication systems had broken down, the king and his entourage had their scouters with them.  And if those weren’t working for some reason and everything was going well with Frieza, you would think that they would have been able to use one of the radios on Frieza’s ship to report back to the palace.   Pazru nodded solemnly in agreement.

 

“Yeah, but you can’t just assume that Frieza would resort to killing the king and his guards.  Wouldn’t it be disastrous for him if the Saiyans rebelled against him?”

 

Ummm.”  Kyokou began biting his nails again.  “I would guess no, but it’s hard to say.”

 

Pazru laughed uneasily.  “I think that you’re so exhausted you’ve become paranoid.”

 

“Well it must be catching, because I’m not the only one who is making plans to leave this miserable rock.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the good doctor has been making some hasty flight arrangements lately.”

 

Pazru looked at him confusedly and scratched at his head.  “Who? Scleren?  He has been awfully busy lately, but I don’t think that he has been trying to charter a pod.”

 

“Think again, Paz,” Kyokou countered as he positioned the scouter over his left eye.  The dark green lens flashed as the overhead lights struck it.  “He chartered two pods (I’m figuring that one of them is for you) a little over a week ago.”  He grunted in concentration as he twisted the tiny knobs on the earpiece of the scouter to firmly affix it to his ear.  As an afterthought he added, “Plenthor and a few others have also scheduled flights.”

 

Pazru bite his lip and stared off to the side in thought.   He had known that Scleren was concerned about Frieza’s possible feelings toward Vegetasei, but he wouldn’t have expected the man to have gone ahead and planned to leave the planet.  The fact that he had also chartered a pod for him was rather touching, but Pazru was a little disturbed that Scleren hadn’t mentioned  anything about it to him. 

 

“Don’t think about it too much.”  Kyokou pressed the small button on the wall next to the door panel.  The panel slid open and he stepped out into the corridor, pulling his helmet down over his head as he did so.  “For all I know, nothing will happen.  King Vegeta and his brat of a son could return the day after tomorrow without a scratch on ‘em.  If I were you, though, I would still keep my eyes open to anything out of the ordinary.”  With that, he turned and darted down the hallway in the direction of the pod landing and departure area.  Pazru stared after him, a worried look on his face.

 

 

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Author’s Note:     I hope you all remember King Vegeta going to visit Frieza, right? I realize that this event probably happened long before Vegetasei was destroyed, but it makes for some more drama in the story.  Besides, I’ve already taken enough liberties with the original plotline as it is (Turles and Goku being twins, for example).  One more couldn’t hurt, could it? *^_^*

 

P.S.—Keep those reviews coming!