Pandora's Box: Chapter 7
aka Vegeta's Fear

"I don't believe in trouble/
I don't believe in pain/
I don't believe there's nothing left but running here again/"

-Franka Potente "Believe"

Upon arriving, Goku noticed that most of the other fighters were already present. Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, Chou-tzu, and Gohan were all standing around in a semi-circle formation. They spent the next few seconds greeting each other before Kami cleared his throat, gaining everyone's attention.

"As you know I have called you all here today over a very serious matter," the old Namek began as their gazes were attentive, "There has been something troubling me over the past couple of years. As Guardian of Earth, I have decided that now is the time to act upon it."

Goku tipped his head to the side, "Uh..so what exactly is it that's been troubling you?"

Kami closed his eyes briefly, deciding on how he wanted to word it, "I'm not too sure myself. It is a creature that has been devouring the people and animals of the Earth."

Trunks was confused as well as shocked, "Devouring the people and animals of the Earth?"

Kami gave a grave nod, "Yes. This strange monster is somehow able to absorb living creatures, and I fear it will soon be powerful enough to take action to complete its goals."

Krillin scratched the top of his head, his voice a bit low as he spoke, "Okay... So what exactly are its goals?"

The guardian shook his head slightly, looking frustrated, "I do not know that either. But if we do not act soon, this thing will."

Piccolo growled a bit, shifting his stance, "That's all and good except what exactly are we supposed to do?"

Gohan gave his suggestion after carefully overlooking the situation, "Someone should approach this creature and find out how powerful it really is."

Yamcha was stunned, "That could be really dangerous."

Gohan looked over his shoulder at him, "What else are we supposed to do? Wait for this to develop even more?"

Goku sighed, putting his hand to his chin in thought, "I think that's all we can do for now." Everyone turned and looked at him in shock. A chorus of "WHAT!?" filled the air. "Well, for the most part, I agree with Gohan," Goku admitted, folding his arms, "but then we lose the element of surprise. Other than that, we just aren't sure how powerful that thing is. If we wait just a bit longer it may be to our advantage."

Kami, though slightly flustered, spoke calmly, "I will have to agree then. Though I will not wait much longer to pursuit a more suitable course of action. I give this two more days to mature, and then, I will act myself."

Goku gave a nod, a look of determination crossing his features, "No problem, Kami."

Chit-chat arose as it seemed the meeting was over. The full-blooded Saijin sighed deeply, stepping away from the crowd. He stared over the edge of the lookout, taking in the Earth's appearance from high above. A tiny movement caught his eye and he turned to it in an instant. Quite a distance away, Vegeta stood leaning against one of the stone pillars, his tail doing an agitated twitch. Goku waved to him, beckoning him to come join him. The prince stared a moment before slowly walking towards the younger man, his arms still folded. "I'm glad you came," Goku said with a warm, reassuring smile. Vegeta kept a good six feet in between them - he said nothing, only glancing to overlook the Earth.

"Hey Goku!" Krillin shouted out, "C'mon, we're going to have lunch!"

Goku called back, "I'll be there in just a sec!" He focused his attention on the brunette before him, "Hey, let's go get something to eat, ok?" Vegeta looked up into his eyes for a moment, his expression blank and void of emotion. Goku felt his stomach knot as the deep, black eyes met his own. Something was completely wrong with the look - like a sensation of bad memories or the haunting of a nightmare. Vegeta broke the gaze and walked swiftly towards the others. Goku swallowed, watching the other man walk off, 'He isn't calm. He's anything but calm. He's waiting. Waiting..for someone to provoke him. Waiting for an excuse...' A bit shaken, the taller Saijin followed after the prince, trying to dismiss the bad vibes he had received. A large table had been set outside the main hall in the shade, plates and food adorning it. Conversation stopped when Vegeta sat down, silently and emotionlessly setting up and eating his free meal.

"Oh no," Zarbon sighed deeply in agitation, "What are you doing here?" Goku took the seat across from the brunette, keeping a worried eye upon him. Vegeta said nothing, merely taking a few gulps of his drink before he continued eating. After getting no response after a considerable amount of time, Zarbon sighed again, "Please Vegeta, don't do this no-talking shit again. It's going to get tiresome after awhile."

Vegeta said nothing.

Goku's interest was sparked a bit, "What do you mean again?"

Zarbon rolled his eyes and took a bite of his food, "Oh, he did this once before when he was a kid. Didn't talk for years." Most of the Z fighters were quite surprised at the information, though they didn't want any part of the discussion.

"For years!? What happened??" Goku asked, so concerned he didn't quite care that he was gaining this knowledge through Zarbon.

"Yeah, he refused to speak, so after awhile Frieza made him learn sign language just so he would communicate," the blue-skinned alien informed, rather irritated, or bored, about the whole subject.

"Vegeta, you know sign language??" Goku asked the prince, highly impressed if it was true.

Vegeta looked up from his meal, paused, and gestured a "Yes" to Goku.

Zarbon rolled his eyes, "He said yes if you didn't know. Too bad you can't talk Vegeta, then you could tell them why you stopped speaking all those years ago. Or even better, why you started again." Zarbon smirked before dropping the subject. To Vegeta, this was like playing with an open, festering wound...

***

The Prince of Saijins walked through the bowels of Freiza's ship, a heavy weight upon his mind. He had just been informed that his planet had been destroyed. His entire race was obliterated in the blink of an eye. The Saijins perished in a brief, freak incident that seemed unnatural, unbelieveable. Such a strong race was demolished so quickly. Silently, he mourned the loss of his people, and somewhere deep within himself, he mourned for himself.

The sole survivors were Nappa, an elite soldier, and Radditz, a third class nobody. His hands were clenched in frustration and he was unable to sit still. It was hard to fathom that everyone and everything that he knew was gone - but he knew it. He forced himself to understand and accept it. To know that he'd never see his home again. That from this day forward - he had no home.

He hadn't been able to stomach anything in the last three days - since he had been informed - and he hadn't uttered a syllable either. At night he couldn't sleep well, merely feeling a bitter emptiness as he stared at the ceiling. He lost sense of time, and yet managed to perform his duties as a soldier. Everyone was dead, he was all alone, and no one cared. Frieza threatened him in an attempt to make the prince speak, but it had no effect; the boy simply kept his mouth shut.

The white changeling thought it would pass soon enough, but he was unpleasantly surprised when still, a few weeks later, Vegeta refused to speak. The tyrant made a pastime of trying to beat the boy into some type of verbal outcry, but that had no effect as well. Despite the fact that he was impressed by Vegeta's constitution, he despised his insubordination, and therefore could not stand the child's silence.

He set the prince on a ration schedule - a punishment for any soldier, and especially grueling for a growing Saijin. Vegeta found a means of compensation during his missions. After one particularly bloody beating session, Frieza finally got fed up, "Damn you, you stupid Saijin brat! If you will not speak then you must learn to talk otherwise!" Vegeta was relieved from the duty of purging planets for a brief time to learn sign language, adapting perfectly to life without spoken words. One evening, however, changed it all.

Vegeta had just returned from a routine clean-up job, and was making his way to report to Frieza about the success. The tyrant never missed an interview, finding Vegeta the most entertaining minion out of his whole lot. Not watching where he was walking, the prince bumped into a figure. The child grunted, his lips curling as he released a snarl. A noise wrought from himself was allowed, but no one else could ever influence him to do the same for them. Or so the prince believed.

"Hey, that's not polite," the man said, his face contorted with a taunting smile. Vegeta presented his middle finger, sneering to show that he didn't care. "Don't mind if I do," the man said, grabbing the prince's wrist. Surprised, the brunette tried to rip himself free of the other man, but he was too weak to do so. He knew this, and loathed this. He was inferior to this stranger, but desperatly wished to inflict harm upon him. The man dragged the silent, though fuming prince, down a set of corridors - too many too remember - and into a room. "Look what the cat dragged in!" the man announced to the others there.

Vegeta crinkled his nose at the pugnent stench of burning chemicals. Drugged soldiers overlooked the Saijin in a manner that made him feel very uncomfortable. The look was that of a predator about to pounce upon its prey, except much more terrifying. He twisted sharply to try to dash for the door, but the man's grip was too strong. "Where do you think you're going, little prince?" the man taunted, throwing him to the floor.

He began to get up when the other men finally did pounce, each holding down an appendage - arms and legs. Vegeta wasn't exactly sure why, but the oddity of the situation scared him in a way he had never felt before. His instincts told him that these men were going to try to take something away from him, though he was too young to fully fathom what.

"Where's your Nappa, boy?" one of them taunted, the others laughing along.

The leader knelt down and overlooked him, gazing and leering with a satisfied, grotesque smile. A hand reached out and Vegeta jolted, not wanting the man near him. But the hand caressed his cheek, an injustice to Vegeta, who lashed out and snagged the appendage with his teeth. Howling, the man hit the prince in the temple, hard.

With the Saijin in a daze, the hand rubbed down his chest and stomach, till it came to his crotch. Vegeta felt adrenaline rush through him as pure fear consumed his entity. You just weren't supposed to touch people there. He didn't want to be touched there. He struggled vainly, wildly, as he felt his clothes starting to get torn from his body. Vegeta panicked, his mind complete chaos. Hands were tugging at his pants, others were tearing at his shirt.

The next moment the men were completely dazed as the prince released a shrill screech strong enough to break glass. It was a natural defense mechanism in Saijins, an auditory noise equal to a cry for help. After puberty, it'd change into what could blatently be called a battle roar, meant to instill fear in the opponent.

In one moment, Vegeta forgot his pride, and in that moment, he screamed, "HELP!!" His voice sounded very strange in his own ears, as he was only used to the sound of his thoughts.

The leader winced, covering his ears, "Shut that kid up!" A hand went over his mouth, covering his nose as well. Vegeta grasped at the forearm, clawing at it, his eyes wide as he couldn't breathe.

"Hey, kid!" a red-head seethed with anger, "Shut the fuck up and I'll let go. Deal?" The prince's lungs begged for air and he feverishly nodded. The hand retreated and he gasped in the precious oxygen.

The leader approached the brunette again, his gaze confident and full of lust. He knelt down, spreading the prince's legs wide. Vegeta flushed in mortification, wishing for this bizarre torture to end. It was embarrassing and wrong to be this vulnerable. He tried to escape, but strong arms held him captive. Somewhere in the background, someone complained, "Damnit, I hate sloppy seconds."

When the leader removed his pants, Vegeta was horrified at the erection that sprung free. He couldn't help it, he released another Saijin plead, an animalistic howl. A hand clamped over his mouth, the owner nodding to his leader, "Go ahead, I'll keep him quiet." Lifting the child's thighs, the elite positioned himself, however, before he could act, the door opened. Vegeta turned to see Frieza and Dodoria standing there.

"What's this?" Frieza asked, sounding rather disappointed. His tone held no malice, but instead, was flat and undecipherable. There was a moment when nothing occurred, and then, Vegeta wrestled out of the grips he was held in, and made a dash for the door.

Dodoria grasped his arm, commanding him, "Vegeta, wait!"

Frieza turned to the young boy, his features the most genial Vegeta had ever seen, "My little prince, were they trying to rape you?" Rape..? Vegeta's wide eyes looked around at everyone in the room, an expression of confusion and terror on his face. "Did they try to touch you in a way they shouldn't?" Frieza reiterated, glancing angrily at the group of men. Vegeta couldn't reply, his ignorance stunted that ability. Clarifying, simplifying, Frieza finally asked, "Did they touch you without your permission or consent?"

Dodoria shook the small Saijin, "Answer Lord Frieza, or he will have no choice but to let them go!"

Let them go? No! Never! These bastards needed to pay! With all his heart and soul, Vegeta instantly choked out, "Yes!" Frieza gave Dodoria a nod and the large pink man released him. Frieza idly watched as the prince dashed down the hall, tripping slightly in his haste.

The tyrant turned to the group of men, "Well, well...I think it's interesting how my 'A' Squad, who knows better, would try to steal my favorite acquirement. This is very disappointing." Before they could protest, Frieza let out a blast of energy, instantly killing them. "I don't mean to sound cliché, but good help is so hard to find these days," Frieza muttered, a smirk quirking the corner of his mouth, "Come Dodoria, let's leave this place; it bores me. Oh, and be sure to announce that there's openings for the 'A' Squad."

Meanwhile, the Saijin prince skidded into his room, locking the door behind him. He retreated to the corner, curling up to hide his nudity. That night he dared not sleep, his eyes not moving from the door. They would come back for him, wouldn't they? He got them in trouble and they would punish him. The slightest sound made him jump, and nothing was more terrifying than hearing approaching footsteps. The prince was lucky to escape that situation in the condition he did. Though Nappa could not understand why he began to speak, or why he suddenly required complete privacy for using the restroom and showering, he was glad he could understand his prince - for the burly warrior was sign-language illiterate.


***

"You say it like it's a shame he started talking again," Goku said with a slight tone of hostility.

Zarbon didn't pick up on it, only thinking the question over, "I guess, for Vegeta, it is."

Goku turned to say something to Vegeta but the prince was staring at him already. The look of anger in the prince's gaze nearly caused him to gasp. 'Tell me what business of yours this is, Kakkarot,' Vegeta demanded of him, his eyes unblinking.

Hello, excuse. "Vegeta, I-" Goku began, but the prince was standing in an instant.

'You dare pry into my life!?' Vegeta seethed, his fists clenched, 'You dare question Zarbon, of all people, about me!?'

Goku slowly stood as well, "Vegeta, that's not-"

The prince's mental onslaught cut him off, 'You have no courage to ask me yourself! How dare you! Taking information from that bastard when he doesn't even know what he's talking about! Any story he's heard had been demented and twisted so out proportion it isn't possible to tell what the original case of the matter was! You have the nerve to listen to him spew this shit about me when I am sitting right here!'

Goku sighed, gesturing for the prince to calm down, "Look, Vegeta-"

Vegeta cut him off again, 'Traitor.'

Goku's eyebrows knit together, "Vegeta.."

The brunette narrowed his eyes, 'Liar! Faker! Traitor!'

Goku's face hardened slightly, "I think you better calm down."

Vegeta stepped up onto the table knocking dishes everywhere, 'How can I when the very last of my kind will betray me?'

Goku took a step back, "I will not betray you."

Vegeta growled, flashing his teeth, 'Am I just to take your word for it? You will desert me like everyone else, you traitor. For one such as you, your crimes are punishable by death.'

The taller Saijin sighed silently, "You and I both know I am stronger than you, Vegeta. I'm a Super Saijin."

The prince merely smirked, 'Is that what you believe? That being Super Saijin makes you stronger?' He outstretched his arm, his palm in a reaching position towards Goku, 'I want to show you something, third class - something not many people have seen before. And those that had, died.' Goku stared up into Vegeta's eyes, trying to express his wishes though the prince seemed to ignore any of Goku's personal feelings about the matter.

The prince's ki skyrocketed for a moment before diving back down to normal. He closed his eyes briefly before opening them to taunt Goku. Small spheres of ki appeared within a seven foot diameter, the smirk never once leaving Vegeta's face. The younger man glanced around, his eyebrows quirked in confusion and curiosity. The spheres moved together, joining as one in front of Vegeta's palm. With that, he clenched his fist, though not entirely, causing the energy to reform. It took upon a long, thin shape, and then, its form gathered details and glowed radiantly. The gathered Z Warriors looked on in awe. 'Beautiful,' it could of been a question or it could have been a statement. He explained, 'It's the sword of the Royal House of Saijins. The House of Vegeta.'

Goku cautiously took a few steps back, agreeing, 'It looks wonderful, Vegeta.' The taller Saijin tried not to look too stunned, thinking to himself, 'It's a ki sword, isn't it? I can't feel its power though. What is it?'

The prince's smirk grew a bit wider, if not a bit darker, 'Good. Because it will be your undoing, traitor. Though one is only allowed to use the royal sword after being crowned king..I think this will be a rather nice exception to the rule.' There was a moment of silence before Vegeta lunged into the air.

"Goku! Catch!" Trunks screamed, tossing his sword to Goku.

Catching it, Goku barely blocked the attack. He had no previous experience of fighting with a sword, and though he thought the prince hadn't as well, he did not question the possibility. 'Vegeta's sword has so much power, it's unreal! Where does it come from??' he wondered as he struggled to defend himself. Vegeta snarled, lunging at the man, but missing as Goku jumped back. With one hand behind the prince's back, he took small, swift steps toward the other Saijin.

Trunks looked on with mute fascination, 'His skills..they're incredible! Is it possible this is why I'm partly so good with a sword? He's like an expert fencer!' His father was extremely agile, and Goku was at a big disadvantage, but due to his strength, he was able to manage. The best the younger Saijin could do was block the attacks that Vegeta was quick to carry out.

'Damn, he's good!' Goku thought as the tip of Vegeta's blade cut the front of his shirt. He felt his skin burn from the slice, and had to double check to ensure he wasn't injured. Back flipping into the air, Goku paused momentarily to transform into a Super Saijin, but Vegeta was in hot pursuit and the younger man had to lean backwards as to not get cut. He immediately dived, as to keep the battle out of the skies. Even with Goku's increased strength and speed he seemed to be unable to get the best of Vegeta. The taller Saijin heard the brunette's laughter ripple across his mind.

'You're clueless as to why this sword is so powerful,' Vegeta stated, not questioned, 'The legend says that the first King of Saijins made this sword from his very own will. He wished it into existence by using his heart and soul.' Goku tried to pay attention to the story and fight at the same time, a very distracting mix.

'It was said that when he died, all his power went into the sword. The next king that inherited the sword used it well and respected it. After he too died, the power of the sword increased. The power of the kings has been passed down from generation to generation. It hasn't been used in over two thousand years. It became a rumor, a legend,' Vegeta continued, keeping Goku on his toes all the while, 'And you know how it is about legends, Kakkarot. You see, the only reason that I'm able to use this sword is because I willed myself to. I believe, just as I believed in the Super Saijin. The power of the kings flow through me as well, that is why I know how to use it. That is why even a Super Saijin will be unable to defeat this sword.' At that moment Vegeta gave a powerful swing, knocking Trunks' sword out of Goku's hands.

'Defeat the sword? Never,' Goku agreed, his face suddenly becoming solemn and calm. Vegeta lunged, but Goku was faster. 'Defeat the swordsman? Out of necessity,' the younger Saijin said with a twinge of guilt. Vegeta fell forward onto Goku, looking up at him with surprised eyes of black liquid. The prince attempted to breathe, sporadic gasps filling the air.

'I lost...again.... I lost...' Vegeta unknowingly shared his thoughts before his eyes rolled back and he slumped unconscious. Goku caught him, sighing deeply with regret as he released the prince's tail.

At the last part of their fight, when Vegeta had knocked the sword out of his hand, he noticed something he hadn't before: Vegeta didn't have his tail wrapped around his waist, and it swung out, as he assumed, mostly for balance. Though knowing that the sword was more than capable of finishing him off, the dirty move had been his only hope, and so, as Vegeta lunged, Goku turned sideways and leaned over, grabbing his tail in a tight grasp. The pain, he knew, would be unbearable.

He set the prince down, feeling extremely awful. He knew how bad it hurt when someone grabbed his tail and he had just knocked Vegeta out by simply doing so. 'Please forgive me, Vegeta,' Goku sent the message to the prince, even though he was almost positive the smaller man couldn't hear him. A silence fell upon the lookout, everyone trapped in their own thoughts.

'What a coward I am,' Trunks thought to himself, sighing deeply, 'I again did nothing to prevent this. Why can't I?' A small groan informed all the people present that Vegeta was awakening.

"Vegeta? Are you ok?" Goku asked, his eyebrows knit together in worry. The prince sat up, his scowl on his face. He overlooked his tail to make sure nothing was broken before he stood. "Vegeta?" Goku asked, standing as well.

Vegeta huffed, giving a slight growl as he spoke, "Fuck you." He ran to the edge of the lookout and blasted out of sight.

"Well," Goku pathetically tried to stay optimistic, "at least he's talking again."

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