The Ways of the Saiyans
Chapter 14: Long Live the King
“Sire, there are several ships currently in orbit. Some of them are ours, the rest are an unknown design,” reported one of the helmsmen on King Kold's ship as the data began to come in. “They're fighting-”
“I don't care,” King Kold answered, cutting him off, his voice low. “Make a hole for us so that we can land.”
“Sire?” the helmsman looked at him uncertainly.
“Must I spell it out for you? Destroy whatever vessels are directly in our path so we can get through to the planet!” King Kold barked, and everyone on the bridge jumped and flinched.
“Y-yes, my king,” the helmsman said with a shiver. “Weapons charging.”
“Our fleet can always regroup and re-engage the enemy fleet later,” King Kold muttered as he paced around in front of his command chair, “but I want the ones responsible for Frieza's death to pay first. When that is done, we’ll come back to eradicate the rest of the vermin.”
King Kold couldn't remember ever being so angry, but then he had never lost something so dear to him in such a terrible way. His beloved Queen Chill had died of illness; nothing could have been done about that, but for creatures as lowly as the Saiyans to dare invade his home world and kill his youngest son was utterly unthinkable! How had they even managed it? Frieza was far stronger than any mere monkey could ever dream of being.
“No matter,” he said to himself aloud. “They will all die for this insult! My poor little Frieza. . .”
On Aisu-sei Prime's surface, Vegeta was trying to make sense of the overlapping reports he was receiving through his communicator. Exhaustion, physical and emotional, was starting to set in and he felt himself release the intense power onto which he'd been holding. The golden ki faded as he landed back on the ground. Pain clawed through his body with every breath, but he made himself stand up, straight and tall. Any sign of weakness now would only encourage Frieza's remaining forces to continue resisting. Kakkarot landed next to him, also shifting back to normal.
“Damn! Why didn't we think about King Kold and Coola?” Vegeta said as he turned his communicator off for a moment.
“Frieza has been the bane of the Saiyans' lives for generations. We've had little contact with the rest of his clan,” an older voice replied before Kakkarot could respond. The two younger Saiyans looked over in surprise as Kele came ambling up to them, gazing at both of them in a kind of awe. “How did you do it? How did you control it?” he asked eagerly.
“I'm not really sure,” Kakkarot admitted.
“We can worry about it later. Right now, we have a war to finish winning,” Vegeta shook his head. “Wait – how did you get here, Kele? Weren’t you on your way to the colonies?” Vegeta suddenly refocused his attention on the elder Saiyan, who chuckled throatily.
“I was on my way to the colonies,” Kele said, “ but then I ran into the armada on the way there. General Nappa had a third-class take my ship the rest of the way to colonies and I decided to join the army.”
“But why -” before Vegeta could finish his question, the sky was suddenly rent with a beam of light. Several explosions pounded down on the ground below, startling everyone. As a fresh wave of spaceship debris cascaded to the ground, Vegeta looked up in time to see the two royal cruisers flash across the sky as they headed for the nearest landing pads.
“They're here,” Vegeta growled.
Bulma wasn't sure just how far away Vegeta and Kakkarot were, but she fervently hoped and prayed it wasn't too far. She, Krillin, Yamcha, and Son Gohan were weaving their way through the ongoing battles and around the burning piles of rubble and deep trenches that had been left behind by the fighting. They would have flown, but anything in the air was being shot at by both sides, so they stuck to the ground. Bulma's heart pounded painfully against her ribs as she muttered prayers they'd get there in time. Somehow, while she ran, Bulma also fiddled with the rifle she had brought with her, adjusting dials and punching buttons she had added to the weapon during the flight to this accursed world.
“You know, they may not need the senzu beans that much,” Yamcha offered in an effort to comfort Bulma.
“There's no way to know how hurt they are,” Bulma answered, panting for breath a bit. “And they're about to face two fresh opponents who are probably stronger than Frieza was!”
“Point taken,” Yamcha admitted.
Bulma suddenly skittered to a halt and then ran over to the left. Two gravely wounded Saiyans were lying on the ground, awake but unable to get up.
“Bulma, we're in a hurry, remember?” Krillin called. “You can't keep stopping like this!”
“Just a second!” she said over her shoulder as she crouched in front of the two Saiyans. “Here, take these, they'll heal you,” she said, handing them each a senzu bean. "Then get back in the fight!”
“Who-who are-?” one Saiyan asked as he blinked blood out of his eyes.
“A friend,” Bulma said quickly as she ran back to join the other Z-Fighters. The two Saiyans looked dubiously at the beans in their hands for a moment, then figured they had nothing to lose so they ate them.
“Bulma, why do you keep slowing us down like this when you're the one who wants to get there so badly?” Yamcha asked as they resumed running.
“We need all of our soldiers intact if we're going to win this!” Bulma said.
“She's right, you know!” Son Gohan said.
“Maybe, but we still only have so many beans, even after taking every one that Korin had in stock! Save some for Vegeta and Kakkarot!” Krillin said.
The two Saiyans slowly stood back up, watching the humans disappear into the smoke. They examined themselves for a moment, stunned by their sudden lack of injuries.
“What was that?” one of the Saiyans wondered.
“I think we were just saved by the prince's Blue Lady!” the second Saiyan said in surprise.
“My lord, please wait! We'll be landing in just a few moments!” the soldier pleaded as King Kold entered the code to unlock the outer hatch.
“There is no reason for me to wait! Those filthy Saiyans killed my son and are now tearing apart my planet! I'm going after them NOW!” King Kold barked, and opened the hatch. Paying no heed to the explosive decompression that ensued, the Aisu-jin King simply flared his ki and flew into the sky. However, the soldier who had pleaded with him, as well as another unfortunate who happened to be in the hallway, were both sucked out and plunged several feet before they were able to catch themselves.
“How like Father,” Coola observed as he watched his sire's impatient departure on his view screen. “Really, they should be grateful he waited until we were in the atmosphere!”
“Orders, my lord?” asked the blue-skinned soldier that stood a few steps behind Coola's right shoulder. Coola turned and strode off the bridge, the solider dutifully following behind him.
“Salza, take the Armored Squadron and start cleaning up the mess down there while Father and I search for the ringleaders,” Coola said. “Make these worms suffer, but don't take too long on any one of them; the place is positively infested.”
“As you command, Lord Coola,” Salza said with a bow of his blonde-haired head. He then turned on his heel and ran to gather up his team members.
Coola came to an airlock, opened it, and flew after his father with a blaze of purple-hued ki.
The younger Aisu-jin caught up to his father easily and was mildly impressed by the power he could feel emanating from the old man. When it came to individual power levels, Coola had surpassed his father ages ago, but out of respect had never revealed it to him. However, as the king's rage continued to increase, his power level spiked in equal measure. King Kold was scanning the ground with his scouter, reading dozens of energy levels at once. Coola activated his own scouter and began searching for ki readings strong enough to defeat Frieza. He then turned his dark gaze to the ground around them. Normally, he delighted in his little brother's failures, but this was too much; their capital city was in flames and Saiyans were everywhere. The debris of buildings and ships seemed to cover every inch of ground that wasn't covered in corpses. If Frieza wasn't already dead, Coola would likely have killed the little fool himself for all of the trouble he had caused.
King Kold growled loudly in frustration. “How is this possible?! I can't find a single ki reading high enough to have killed Frieza!”
“They must be able to hide their ki, the cowards,” Coola scowled. “Or else they killed Frieza through some kind of trick.”
“Bah! Do you really believe one of us could be taken down by a mere trick?” King Kold spat and Coola tilted his head in acknowledgment of his mistake.
“You're absolutely right, Father; that was a ridiculous thing to say,” Coola said. “All right then, we need to find a Saiyan to question, assuming my Armored Squadron leaves us any,” he continued as he saw the unmistakable ki readings of his best soldiers flashing through the war raging below. He tapped the transmitter button on his scouter. “Salza.”
“Yes, my lord?” Salza’s obedient voice replied in his earpiece.
“Bring a Saiyan to me, alive enough to talk,” Coola ordered.
“At once, my lord,” Salza replied with a chuckle. Coola then hung back a bit, awaiting his delivery while King Kold continued scanning about for any sign of extraordinary ki levels.
“Can you believe this mess?” Salza asked as he landed amongst the debris. His usually immaculate gloves were already stained with blood.
“Frieza screwed up big this time, didn't he?” Neiz, a brown, reptilian soldier observed as he landed next to his leader.
“This is gonna be fun,” Doore, a green-skinned male with long hair, chuckled as he joined the others. “We haven't had a real fight in ages.”
“Where is the Ginyu Force? You'd think those posers'd be here,” Niez said disdainfully.
“Maybe they're dead, too,” Salza shrugged. “They were useless anyway. Now then, to borrow a Saiyan. . .” He glanced around for a fraction of a second then flashed forward through the smoke. His teammates heard a masculine shout of surprise accompanied by outraged cries. Salza reappeared a moment later dangling a long-haired, scarred young man by the neck. The man struggled, but Salza's grip was like iron and was beginning to cut off his captive’s air supply.
“Good catch!” Doore chortled.
“It was too easy. Now, then, Lord Coola has some questions for you before we gut you,” Salza chuckled cruelly.
“And don't bother lying, it won't help you,” Doore said.
“Hold on, I'm not sure he is a Saiyan – look, no tail!” Neiz suddenly cut in, motioning toward the prisoner's backside.
“He could have lost it in any number of ways,” Salza said. “But on the other hand, he's awfully weak, even for a Saiyan,” he added thoughtfully as his scouter took a reading of his prisoner and gave him a surprisingly low number.
“You know what? I think he might be a human!” Doore said. “Some must have survived Earth's purge! Did you think, fool, that you could get revenge?” All three members of the Armored Squadron laughed at the thought, only to be cut short when a disc of ki energy nearly took their heads off.
“Put him down!” Krillin snapped as another Destructo Disc suddenly appeared in his right hand. Son Gohan stood with him, readying his own ki attack within his cupped hands.
“My, humans are full of themselves, aren't they? You want a fight, little man? We'll give you one!” Salza said as he chucked the still-struggling Yamcha back towards Krillin.
Krillin dodged out of the way as Yamcha flared his ki to slow himself down, managing to roll with the throw and avoid hitting anything head-first. In mid-dodge, Krillin flung his ki disc, but Salza batted it aside as he lunged forward. Before either human had a chance to find his feet, Salza struck with brutal force, kicking Yamcha and punching Krillin. Krillin and Yamcha hit the ground hard, but forced their aching bodies to move quickly to avoid the next blows.
“KAMEHAMEHA!” Son Gohan suddenly yelled. The forceful ki blast diverted Salza long enough for Yamcha and Krillin to get into a better position.
“Are you kidding me, old man?” Salza asked, turning a cold look on Son Gohan.
“What does this guy think he's doing?” Doore chuckled.
“This is just sad, I can't even watch,” Neiz snorted. “I don't like abusing the elderly, except when I have to, like now.”
“Bulma,” Son Gohan whispered from the corner of his mouth, “keep going and find Kakkarot and Vegeta while we keep these guys busy.”
Bulma, who was hidden by smoke and a pile of debris, swallowed nervously and nodded.
“Okay,” she whispered back, but before she could move Salza slammed into the older man. Doore went after Yamcha and Niez attacked Krillin. Bulma bit back a small cry and forced herself to keep running.
Bulma only got a few steps away, however, before Doore appeared in front of her. A fast, frightened backwards glance showed Yamcha face-down on the ground. She couldn't tell if he was breathing or not.
“Where do you think you're going?” Doore said with an evil smirk before he grabbed Bulma by the shoulder and threw her down face-first. He raised one heavy foot to stomp on her back and break her spine, but she was snatched away a second before the impact hit. The ground cracked around Doore's foot where it landed.
Bulma looked up in terror to see Salza holding her by her shoulders, a nasty grin spreading across his face.
“Wait a moment, wait – blue hair? Blue eyes? Boys, I think we've found the much-vaunted-about Blue Lady!” Salza laughed cruelly. Bulma mentally cursed her distinct coloring while she squirmed in his steel grip. Neiz ceased pounding on Krillin to listen to his leader. Salza stopped laughing and stared into Bulma's eyes, relishing the fear he saw in them. “Ah, of course, the Saiyan prince is here somewhere! He must be the one who took down Frieza,” he sneered.
“I don't suppose you can tell us where he is, eh, missy?” Doore said with a nasty smile.
“Go to hell!” Bulma hissed.
“No doubt someday, but for now, I think we'll stay here and use you to coax little Vegeta out of hiding. He must be very fond of you. After all, he did write that ridiculous love song!” Salza was so busy gloating that he didn't notice her slightly raise the muzzle of her rifle, which she had somehow managed to hold onto, towards a point on his leg. The shot was so close and so unexpected he couldn't dodge. Salza let out a scream of surprised pain and fury and threw Bulma to the ground again. “You little bitch!” he spat, grabbing his leg. “That actually hurt!”
The bullet hadn't penetrated very deep and the recoil had probably done more harm to her shoulder than the bullet did to his leg, but Bulma allowed herself a momentary feeling of triumph at the sight of the blood on his thigh. She scrambled to her feet as she fished a senzu bean out of her pocket and quickly ate half of it to heal the burning pain in her shoulder. Around her, Yamcha, Krillin, and Son Gohan began getting back to their feet, and she heaved a small sigh of relief.
“We're in trouble here, guys,” Krillin said between pants. The fire-like ache in his chest told him he probably had broken ribs and his vision kept blurring.
“I'm open to suggestions,” Yamcha said through swollen lips. His eyes were swollen, too, and Bulma wondered how much he could see.
“Don't kid yourselves,” said Neiz. “You're all going to die in a moment.”
“Remember, we want the woman alive to bring out Prince Vegeta,” Salza said, scowling as he cauterized his leg with his ki. “Breaking her arms and legs should make her scream loud enough for him to hear.”
Neiz and Doore laughed in malicious pleasure and the humans braced themselves for the next attack – which didn't come. Before the Armored Squadron could make a move, they were all jumped from behind by Saiyans.
“What the hell?!” Salza snarled.
“Huh?” Yamcha gasped in surprise at the same moment.
“You scum!!” Doore bellowed as he wrestled with his opponent.
“Get out of here!” barked the Saiyan who was holding Salza. He looked directly at Bulma and shouted, “Find Prince Vegeta!”
Bulma was bewildered for half a moment and then suddenly realized that these were some of the Saiyans to whom she had given senzu beans. Needing no further prompting, Bulma, Yamcha, Krillin and Son Gohan took off running as fast as they could, hoping to disappear amongst the smoke and fighting.
“You filthy, monkey-tailed beasts!” Salza roared as he threw off the Saiyan who'd been holding him. “Do you think she can get away? Do you think any of you will leave here alive? When Lord Coola is done with all of you-!” his heated tirade was cut short by a ki-blast to the chest which forced him into the ground. As the blue-skinned man pushed himself back to his feet, his armor cracked and flesh burnt, he swore in several languages.
“Salza?” Coola's voice suddenly asked in Salza's ear.
“Yes, Lord Coola?” Salza replied as he punched the communicator button on his scouter. “We have some Saiyans in our sight, we'll be-”
“No need, I heard everything. Little Vegeta must be hiding his ki somehow, but no matter – we can find him. Resume killing every Saiyan you can find,” Coola said and Salza grinned.
“At once, my lord!” Salza said.
“Really, I should have guessed it was Prince Vegeta,” King Kold said lowly as he shifted the focus of his scans. “Before Frieza destroyed that miserable little planet, the Saiyans were always going on about how he was going to be the strongest Saiyan ever born.”
“Now, at least, we have some idea of what to look for. A power level reading higher than the rest – or a reading surrounded by other readings. He's bound to have a group of his subjects around him by now,” Coola said, then a small smirk quirked his dark lips. “We should also see about finding this 'Blue Lady' – killing her in front of him should be most amusing.”
“If we have time for it. . .I think I've found him!” King Kold proclaimed as his scouter registered a tight cluster of energy readings surrounding two high readings 30 kilometers away. Wasting not a second more, both he and Coola flew straight towards the found energy cluster, twin trails of power blazing through the sky
“Sir, we have incoming!” a Saiyan soldier warned as his scouter beeped wildly in rapid succession.
“I'm surprised it took him this long to find us,” Vegeta grunted. He'd already known that Kold and Coola were heading their way; the lessons in ki detection hadn't been wasted. A field medic was dressing his wounds, but he shrugged the man off. “All of you return to the battle immediately. Kakkarot and I will handle Kold and Coola.”
“But, Your Highness -” the medic began to object, thinking of all the injuries Vegeta had sustained that hadn't been treated yet. Kakkarot, likewise, was barely patched together.
“We'll be fine,” Vegeta said sharply. “Just go!”
The Saiyan soldiers hesitated for a moment more before obediently scattering back into the battle. Kakkarot moved painfully over to Vegeta and took in as deep a breath as he was currently capable of drawing.
“We should have gotten some senzu beans before we left Earth,” Kakkarot observed quietly.
“Too late to worry about it now,” Vegeta answered, sparing only a single, longing thought for the mysterious healing beans.
“I estimate they'll be here in about ten minutes,” Kakkarot said.
“Sooner – they're picking up speed. Can you call up Super Saiyan again?” Vegeta asked, summoning his own power again. Having reached that peak, he now felt the power humming inside him, like a small, bright star burning within his heart, waiting to be summoned once again, whispering of higher levels of power yet to be reached.
“I think so. I just wish we'd had more time to catch our breath,” Kakkarot answered and Vegeta could feel the younger Saiyan's ki start rising.
“Time's up,” Vegeta said as King Kold and Prince Coola dropped out of the sky, landing several feet away from the two Saiyans.
King Kold sized them both up with a hard scowl. His scouter was feeding him a string of data on his opponents, and his scowl deepened as he read.
“You killed Frieza? You? With power readings like that?!” King Kold snapped.
“Father, do keep your wits about you. We both know what an overconfident fool Frieza could be; he probably just dropped his guard and these filthy monkeys got in a lucky shot,” Coola said calmly, his dark eyes glinting with cold hate.
“Not impressive enough for you?” Vegeta asked, smirking in spite of his pain. “You didn't listen to any reports about what, exactly, was happening down here, did you?”
“I heard enough!” King Kold bellowed and flashed forward at top speed.
Vegeta had no idea how he managed to dodge that first blow in his condition, but he did it, and as he flipped through the air he pushed his power skywards again and felt the transformation sweep over him. When he landed between the enraged father and son, he was a Super Saiyan again.
“What the hell is this?!” Coola snapped, both surprised by the transformation and shocked by the readings his scouter was now giving him. The numbers were shooting up so fast the mechanism within was starting to squeal in protest. Coola abruptly ripped the scouter off his face before the piece of junk could explode, as they sometimes were known to do.
“Monkey bastard -!” King Kold snarled as he spun around. Just as he completed his turn, Kakkarot, also in Super Saiyan form, delivered a flying kick to his head that sent him crashing into the debris-strewn ground. A moment later, King Kold was back on his feet and threw a ki ball at Kakkarot, who barely dodged it in time.
“Damn! I was hoping to hurt him more with that one,” Kakkarot muttered to himself as he narrowly avoided a kick to his own head.
“So, killing Frieza was a tag-team effort, was it?” Coola asked as he attacked Vegeta. “That explains a few things – should have known no one monkey could be strong enough to defeat one of us!”
Coola's blows were landing hard and fast and Vegeta, still worn out from battling Frieza, could only just keep up. He had already popped some of the new stitches he had just been given and blood was flowing afresh from reopened wounds. Why couldn't these bastards have waited an hour to get here? Vegeta thought in frustration. He still had more power than he'd ever dreamed of, but even so, the previous battle could not be easily shrugged off.
“Coola, leave him! They're mine!” King Kold suddenly barked, and Coola reluctantly withdrew, returning to where he had stood before.
“As you wish, Father,” Coola said as he crossed his arms over his chest, still glaring at Vegeta.
Vegeta wasted no time in turning his attention on King Kold. The arrogant fool thought he could handle two Super Saiyans at once, did he? Vegeta fully intended to show him the high price of such foolish pride. King Kold used his huge, powerful tail to lash out at Vegeta, but the prince barely dodged before aiming a blow at the giant Aisu-jin's back. King Kold spun at the waist and with a swing of his powerful arm succeeded in knocking Vegeta down, only to be blindsided by Kakkarot. King Kold caught himself before he hit the ground again. He turned his head to the side and angrily spat out blood. Swearing loudly, he summoned another ki strike, heedless of anyone or anything else around him.
“Your whole filthy race will die for the insults you've given me!” Kold snarled as he unleashed the ki blast. Kakkarot dodged, but something made Vegeta stand his ground. Just as the ball of destructive energy reached him, he swatted it aside. It wasn't exactly easy, but the ball flew away into the distance and Vegeta smirked in triumph. Over the din of the war around him, he couldn't really hear that particular ki strike explode when it hit, but he knew something had happened by the look on King Kold and Coola's faces. Daring a fast glance behind himself, he realized that he had unwittingly sent the ki ball directly onto the voanium-covered tower, unaware that their battle had brought them so close to the impressive edifice. The tower, which had so far apparently survived the rest of the fighting until that very moment, was now slowly collapsing into a pile of rubble.
“Mother's monument. . .!” Coola hissed through clenched teeth.
“DAMN YOU!” King Kold screamed and started rapid-firing ki shots from both hands.
“Okay, I think we've located Vegeta and Kakkarot!” Krillin said as King Kold's barrage lit up the landscape.
“Please tell me we’re not too late!” Bulma begged aloud, her heart pounding in her throat.
“It's not too late until they're dead,” Yamcha said, and scooped her up into his arms so they could more quickly cover the distance between them and the battle ahead. “Come on, guys, let's go!” At his words the humans all took to the air, though they still tried to keep low enough not to draw attention.
King Kold finished his attack and stood panting in the smoke-filled air.
“Frieza was right to try to wipe out you Saiyans,” he said, his calm tone returning for the first time since he heard of Frieza's death. “But he was sloppy and careless.”
“As are you!” Vegeta snarled as he flew out of the smoke and drove his fist through King Kold's chest.
King Kold staggered back, as much in surprise as in pain. Blood flowed thick and fast from the wound and he felt a mixture of fury and unanticipated fear. As he gathered up his senses to resume his attack, he became aware of a voice coming from the smoke just to the right of him.
“KA-ME-HA-ME-HAAA!!” Kakkarot bellowed, and an immense, bright wave of ki energy sliced through the surrounding smoke, thoroughly incinerating King Kold to ash before he could do more than scream.
Coola was too stunned to move for a moment. Then he began to seethe and his ki began to spark.
“I suppose in some ways, I should thank you since the entire empire is mine now. But however much I despised my father and my little brother, they were still my family – and you will pay for this!” Coola growled.
“Vegeta?” Kakkarot wheezed to his friend as blood dripped into his eyes from a deep gash on his forehead. With each intake of labored breath, he was convinced that there wasn’t a single part of his battered body that didn’t feel as if it was on fire.
“Yeah?” Vegeta said, panting for breath. He also pondered for a brief, amused moment if any of his ribs had actually remained unbroken.
“We're going to die,” Kakkarot said as Coola charged them.
“Yeah,” Vegeta answered with a slight smirk as he marshaled his remaining strength for a last defense.
“There they are!” Son Gohan said as the humans finally came within view of the battle. Much of the fighting around them was dying down as the Cold Empire's forces continued to dwindle in number, but the few that remained refused to surrender while one of their lords still stood. The humans landed on a pile of debris a short distance from the actual battle between the two new kings. There was a moment of bewilderment at the sight of Vegeta and Goku's now-golden hair then they refocused on the task at hand.
“Okay, how are we going to get the beans to them? Neither one of them can afford any distractions right now!” Krillin observed, feeling short of breath as he watched the three warriors exchange crushing blows.
“Actually, a distraction is just what they need,” Bulma said as she pressed some buttons on her rifle. The weapon began to hum and pieces of it began to glow. She then handed her bag of senzu beans to Krillin. “There will probably be a window of opportunity for only a few seconds’ time, so don't waste it.”
“Wait, what the hell are you planning to do? What did you do to that rifle, anyway?” Yamcha said, suddenly alarmed by the determined look in Bulma's eyes.
“I've rigged this rifle with a ki device that not only draws ki out but magnifies it. Right now, I have enough emotional energy to feed it to at least draw away Coola's eyes for a moment. Move fast!” Bulma said and ran forward before they could stop her.
“Wait, Bulma!” they all shouted as they leaped after her.
“Are you crazy?!” Yamcha called out to his ex-girlfriend as she cocked her rifle and tried to get a clear shot of Coola on the run. Yamcha grabbed her arm and spun her around.
“Yamcha, if they don't get some beans, they're going to be killed!” Bulma snapped at him, her nerves at the breaking point.
“Getting yourself killed won't help them!” Yamcha protested.
“Leave the distraction to me!” Son Gohan said as he suddenly ran past the two younger warriors.
“What?!” Bulma and Yamcha both gasped as Son Gohan found an open space and dropped into a very familiar stance.
“Aw, are the poor little monkeys getting tired? Perhaps I should put you down for a nap!” Coola laughed mockingly as he did a mid-air spin that ended with a hard kick to Vegeta's back. Vegeta went down hard then rolled out of the way of the next blow and fired a ki beam that Coola dodged by a mere hair's breadth. “Still got some fight in you? Good! I wouldn't want this to end too easily.” Coola smirked and easily deflected the punch Kakkarot tried to swing at his head from behind. “Getting a bit slow, aren't we?” he said as he grabbed Kakkarot's wrist and threw the younger Saiyan into a pile of jagged debris. “You know, I've changed my mind – I'm going to end this now!”
The Aisu-jin began building a large ki-ball in his hand and chuckled as his opponents strove to get to their feet. The golden aura surrounding them was flickering out, and it was obvious that they were nearly spent. While Coola held no doubt that he could have easily defeated them even if they were in top shape, he still considered himself fortunate that his opponents had already been severely weakened by their recent battles with his brother and father. A victory, regardless of how it was achieved, was still a victory in his book. His self-congratulatory gloat was interrupted when he heard a voice from somewhere behind him, startling him with the very same attack chant that had just killed his father.
“KAMEHAMEHAAA!” Son Gohan yelled through the smoke, and the powerful wave of energy barreled toward Coola. The Aisu-jin spun around and immediately blocked the wave with one hand. This attack hadn't been anywhere near as destructive as Kakkarot's had been, but even so, Coola's hand now stung badly and that made him all the angrier.
“You pathetic worm! How dare you interfere!” Coola bellowed in rage, unleashing the ki attack he’d been holding in his other hand towards Son Gohan. The old man caught the brunt of the blast and fell backwards several feet, his body turning into a broken, burned heap. “Getting yourself killed just to buy your prince a few more agonized seconds of life – what useless, foolish sentiment,” growled Coola before turning around to face Vegeta and Kakkarot once more.
For a fraction of a second, Coola was blinded by the brightness of the two Super Saiyans' restored auras. When his vision cleared, he was stunned to see both Vegeta and Kakkarot standing tall once again, all injuries and weariness gone. Kakkarot’s eyes were narrowed and his body seething with rage, having recognized the person who had just sacrificed himself for them. Coola barely noticed the small figure of Krillin running like mad to get a safe distance away.
“Impossible!” Coola blurted out. “You both were half-dead a moment ago!”
“And now we're not. Shall we try this again?” Vegeta asked, a new smirk twitching at the corner of his mouth. Despite its slight bitterness lingering on his tongue, he thought that the taste of the senzu was one of the best he'd ever known. He felt sorry for the old man, but he had no time to focus on the loss.
Coola glared in disbelief for a fraction of a second longer then refocused his rage and flew forward in the blink of an eye, aiming for Vegeta's throat. Vegeta sidestepped his attack with ease, his hand grabbing at his enemy’s wrist, fully intending to break the bones. Before Vegeta could finish tightening his grip, Coola slammed his other fist into Vegeta's chest, causing the Saiyan to release him. Kakkarot struck at Coola with a close-range ki ball as Vegeta staggered back, coughing. In a matter of seconds, Vegeta quickly regained his breath and rejoined the impossibly fast battle. Coola suddenly and unexpectedly found himself on the defensive as he strove to block literally hundreds of punches and kicks – each one delivered with bone-crushing force - being thrown from two sides. The Aisu-jin Royal scowled as blows began slipping past his defenses and actually striking him.
This is insane! Coola thought furiously. Where did they get all of this power? How did they heal so quickly?
His train of thought was derailed abruptly when Kakkarot grabbed him by his tail and swung him into the same debris pile his opponents had been in moments before. Jagged spikes of pain blasted all other thoughts from Coola's mind for a moment as broken stone, glass, and metal sliced into his exposed flesh. A sharp, stabbing pain in his tail told him that at least one vertebra in the appendage was fractured. For a moment, his mind was numb with shock, but then a new wave of fury washed over him. With a bellowing scream, he unleashed a wave of power in a dome shape that blew Vegeta and Kakkarot back several feet just as they were closing in on him again.
Coola breathed deeply a few times as he straightened his stance, glaring at his enemies with nothing but loathing in his gaze. Then he began laughing; it was a small chuckle at first, but it quickly grew into a near-hysterical belly laugh.
A puzzled Kakkarot and Vegeta hung back for a moment, wondering what was going on now. Coola stopped laughing long enough to offer the two golden-haired Saiyans a blood-stained smile.
“Now I see,” Coola said, a strange calm overtaking him. “You've achieved your peoples' legendary power, haven't you? The so-called 'Super Saiyan,’ isn't that right?” he asked as he wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand.
“It took you this long to figure that out?” Vegeta asked, still braced for another attack.
“How nice for you,” Coola said accompanied by another chuckle. He slowly spread his arms out from his sides and grinned. “Would you like to witness my peoples' legendary power?”
“W-what?” Vegeta blinked. He knew that Coola was already in the sleek fourth form that only a handful of Aisu-jins were able to attain. Fortunately for them, King Kold had been fighting in the second form – he had always liked its imposing size the most. What other power could Coola possibly have?
“I don't like this -” Kakkarot muttered as Coola started to glow.
“Our scholars say that only one Aisu-jin in thousands of years is capable of this. It saddens me that Frieza will never get to see this form; how I so longed to rub it in his smug, little, bratty face. But I suppose crushing you two with it will just have to suffice,” Coola said as his body began to change. His chest and shoulders suddenly expanded, the bony plates covering his chest stretching and changing shape. He gained a foot in height and his muscles all expanded in size. The smooth, bone-like structure that surrounded his head like a helmet suddenly grew and stretched into spikes, two on either side of his head, and large, bony spikes grew from the undersides of each of his forearms, curving backwards toward his elbows. A mask covered his mouth and nose and his eyes turned a pure, glowing red. Vegeta and Kakkarot stared at the new form, feeling the intense power radiating from it in soul-sickening waves. “Shall we see who has the advantage now, boys?” Coola’s voice taunted from behind his mask, and before Vegeta or Kakkarot could do anything, Coola was upon them.
“What the hell just happened?!” Yamcha said as he squinted through the smoke and dust. “Vegeta and Kakkarot had him on the ropes, then his ki spiked higher than anything I've ever felt before!”
“Aisu-jins don't have a fifth form, do they?!” Krillin asked shakily, on the edge of freaking out.
“I think Coola does,” Bulma said, cold terror spreading through her chest.
Vegeta could scarcely believe it, but Coola had reclaimed the upper hand. The Ascended Aisu-jin tossed the two Super Saiyans around like useless dolls, re-breaking recently healed bones and opening new cuts and gashes on both of them. Vegeta and Kakkarot's minds raced frantically, trying to think of a plan even as Coola deflected all of their counter-attacks.
“I think we've come to the end of this farce-” Coola started to say, but just at that moment, Kakkarot suddenly raised his hands to his face, palms facing inward and fingers splayed out.
“SOLAR FLARE!” the younger Saiyan yelled, releasing a blinding flash of ki that filled the air. As Coola reeled back, rubbing at his newly blinded eyes and cursing, Vegeta and Kakkarot flew off, quickly putting some distance between him and them.
“Good thinking, Kakkarot,” Vegeta panted, every breath a new stab of fresh pain.
“Thanks, that was part one of the plan,” Kakkarot answered, trying to catch his own breath as they flew.
“You have a plan?” Vegeta asked incredulously.
“Yeah – Spirit Bomb,” Kakkarot said with a faint, hopeful grin.
“Do you think he'll be nice enough to give us the time to create one?” Vegeta spat back sarcastically.
“Geez, Vegeta, I didn't say the plan was perfect.” Kakkarot shook his head.
Vegeta rolled his eyes. Kakkarot and his Spirit Bomb. . . “Wait, I think I've got it!”
“I'm all ears!” Kakkarot said, grinning at the renewed enthusiasm in Vegeta’s voice.
“Damned monkeys! Do you think you can trick me?!” Coola bellowed as his vision finally began to return. Everything was still annoyingly out of focus and spots flashed intermittently, but he could see shapes again, which was the only reason he was able to keep Vegeta's double-footed kick from hitting him square in the face. The blow still sent him crashing back to the ground and before he could recover, he heard the Saiyan prince-turned-king shout from above him:
Coola barely had time to brace himself as the ki beam slammed down on him, but it was enough to block the worst of the attack. The ground around him cracked and debris flew every which way from the force of the strike, but Coola’s body was just barely singed. He looked up at Vegeta floating a good twenty feet above him and snorted.
“Pathetic!” Coola laughed when the attack ceased. “Is that the best you've got?”
“No,” Vegeta said, cupping his hands together for a second time. Coola leapt into the air, gathering a ki ball into his own hand, only to fly right into Vegeta's next attack: “FINAL FLASH!”
Coola was slammed into the ground yet again, this time far more painfully than before, and it took him a second to regain his feet. Frustrated by his inability to bring an easy end to the battle, he was beginning to reach levels of anger he had never thought possible, even after a contentious childhood shared with his sibling Frieza. This new level of frustration he was feeling towards these two infuriating Saiyans was making Coola blind and reckless. He barreled headlong toward Vegeta so quickly that the Saiyan had no time for a third attack – only to be tackled to the side by Kakkarot as Vegeta winked out of sight. The two powerhouses traded blows as they tumbled through the air before Kakkarot broke away and started a barrage of ki strikes. Coola charged him, dodging through the attacks, but before he reached Kakkarot, Vegeta reappeared and Kakkarot disappeared again.
“What are you two ridiculous worms doing? Do you think you can beat me by playing tricks?” Coola snapped as he swung at Vegeta. The prince just smirked as he dodged.
Kakkarot was actually a bit surprised, and rather relieved, by how much life essence still remained on the planet even after all of the battles had decimated a substantial chunk of it. He focused quickly, drawing upon all of that energy, gathered from soldiers, civilians, animals, plants, and even from the sunlight, and concentrated it into the ball above his hands. Every few minutes he swapped with Vegeta to keep Coola off-balance, but his mind never entirely left the Spirit Bomb. When King Kai had taught them the technique, Kakkarot had an easier time with it than Vegeta, which was why Vegeta had him start it off. As Vegeta bought him a few more minutes, he reached out beyond Aisu-sei Prime's surface into orbit, where he discovered mostly Saiyan ships had remained. Then he stretched a little further, towards a base located on one of the world's moons, and then to the next planet over. The Spirit Bomb was starting to blaze like a second sun through the smoke-heavy air when he and Vegeta switched places once more. The two Saiyans had no time for words between them as they worked, but Kakkarot could still sense how impressed Vegeta was with the attack they were forming.
If this doesn't work, nothing will! Kakkarot thought as he fired off another Kamehameha Wave at Coola.
Kakkarot was never certain how Coola dodged. One second the Aisu-jin prince was about to be struck by the ki attack, the next second he was driving his fist deep into Kakkarot's stomach. The air left the young Saiyan's lungs in a hard rush and bile shot up his throat from the blow. Before Kakkarot's mind could process what had happened, Coola grabbed him by the throat and threw him into the ground. Kakkarot gasped and coughed violently as he struggled to his knees, trying to force air back into his body. Coola slammed into Kakkarot's undefended back and drove him deeper into the cracked pavement. Kakkarot's scream of pain was half-muffled by the stone and dirt.
“Now then, I think we've had enough of your ridiculous little hit-and-run game,” Coola sneered in victory as he stomped on Kakkarot's back repeatedly. “Really, what were you hoping to accomplish with such a childish tactic?”
Shit, shit, shit! Vegeta mentally screamed as he watched Kakkarot take blow after crushing blow. The Spirit Bomb wavered above Vegeta's hands for a second and he refocused his mind on it. The weapon was very nearly finished, but how could he use it without killing Kakkarot, too?
“Come out, Prince Vegeta! Your little plan isn't working anymore!” Coola called out mockingly. “If this is the best the Prince of the Saiyans has to offer in a fight, your race deserves extinction!” Coola laughed cruelly, scanning all around himself for Vegeta.
The fighting around them had slowed to a near stop as the survivors watched the royal battle. By this time, Coola was well aware of their audience and was making plans for all the ways he would humiliate Vegeta before killing him.
“Where are you, you coward? Are you going to hide while I kill your friend? You-” Coola's taunts suddenly trailed off as he noticed a few oddly long shadows stretching out over the ground and the sky growing suspiciously brighter. “What is that?” Coola wondered as he craned his neck back.
The Spirit Bomb’s radiating glow was pushing away the smoke and filth in the air around it. Vegeta hovered below the massive ball of ki, tiny in comparison. Coola's eyes bugged out for a moment as he took in the weapon that was floating overhead and his heart skipped a beat.
“What in the ten hells is that thing?!” Coola barked before he could stop himself. Then he made several connections at once. “Now, I see! That's why you were swapping places; you were taking turns making that! Hmm, but it's not done yet, is it?” His calm swiftly returned. “Or else you really don't want to kill this guy here. Either way, you're wide open, Your Majesty,” Coola lifted a hand, ki now focusing onto the tip of his index finger, cruel laughter on his lips once more.
“Vegeta, drop the bomb!” Kakkarot suddenly screamed from his pinned position. His hair was black once more, his face a bloody ruin, and he was in more pain than he'd ever been in his life; but he knew they would not get another opportunity like this to finish Coola.
“Too la-” Coola started, but before his could finish his thought or his attack, a laser hit him full in the face. “My eyes!” Coola shrieked, his concentration broken, his hands flying to cover his face. The surprise more than the pain made him stumble back a step, allowing Krillin to zip in, grab Kakkarot, and pull him to safety. “Who did that?!” Coola screamed as his vision returned. Bulma stood twenty feet away, her rifle raised and aimed. The Aisu-jin stared at her for a fraction of a second in disbelief before his mind could make sense of what he was seeing. Then a horrible kind of delight swept over him. “The Blue Lady!”
Bulma felt a wave of cold terror sweep over her at his words. Cursing the song and her unique coloring for the thousandth time, she went to fire her rifle again. The trigger clicked, but nothing happened. All of the regular bullets were spent and, according to the color gauge, the ki charge was still rebuilding from the last shot.
“Fuck!” Bulma screamed and instinctually threw the rifle as Coola lunged at her. He caught the weapon easily and laughed.
“Language, young lady!” Coola scolded as he took another step toward her. The rifle suddenly emitted a high-pitched whine, drawing Coola's attention. Puzzled by the sound, he looked at the weapon he held in his hand just in time to see its ki-gauge spike hard into the green. Bulma immediately dropped to the ground and covered her head the moment she heard the whine. “What -?” Coola's question was cut off as the rifle exploded in his hand from severe overload. As he screamed in surprise and pain from his eyes getting injured yet again, Bulma scrambled away quickly while she had the chance.
“What just happened?!” Yamcha asked as he pulled Bulma out of harm's way.
“Th-the rifle. It must have sucked up a bunch of Coola's ki when he caught it in his hand – he just hit himself!” Bulma said in a rush, half-laughing and half-gasping for breath after such a close call.
“You are all going to die screaming!” Coola bellowed. “You little blue bitch, I'll tear you apart in front of Vegeta, and then I'll gut him before I finish off the rest of his filthy race!”
“COOLA!” Vegeta's voice echoed through the air, and Coola snapped his head upward, suddenly remembering the massive attack on which his enemies had been working.
“No!” Coola gasped in realization and he flew at Vegeta to stop him. Vegeta released the Spirit Bomb in the same instant. The gigantic ball of ki hurtled through the air straight at Coola and he threw his arms up in a desperate attempt to catch it.
The powerful attack slammed into the Aisu-jin Prince. For a brief second, he actually thought he could stop it and then the gathered energy slowly passed over his hands and arms, capturing him in its unrelenting grasp. Vegeta clenched his teeth and grunted with all his might, concentrating on directing the massive ball of energy up and away from the surface for fear of what would happen if it touched down. With a final scream of effort, he sent the Spirit Bomb, dragging/pushing Coola, out into space. Coola screamed again as the attack continued to absorb his body and painfully burn into his flesh.
“Damn you, you filthy ape! I'll get off of this! I'll come back and then-!” Coola snarled desperately as he flew out of orbit. From the Saiyan ships, the occupants continued to monitor their enemy’s progress in shock, noting that he and the Spirit Bomb were both on an unstoppable trajectory, heading towards the solar system's blue sun. Coola's final scream just as he was ultimately consumed by the powerful combination of the Spirit Bomb and the sun's searing plasma atmosphere was never heard.
For several long moments, there was complete silence. Everyone waited, barely breathing, half-expecting Coola to drop back out of the sky, ready to renew the battle. After several minutes of nothing happening, everyone began speaking at once. Reports began flying between scouters and other communication lines, confirming that Coola and indeed been thrown into the sun. Everyone left on the surface looked up at Vegeta, who was still hovering in the sky and still glowing gold. Suddenly, Vegeta dropped from the sky in a barely-controlled descent, utterly exhausted, his entire body aching. As his feet touched the ground, his form immediately returned to its normal state. Bulma ran to him and quickly wrapped her arms around him to support him. He managed a weak smile as he looked at her concerned face, fighting the battle fatigue that was making the world go gray around the edges of his consciousness.
“What the hell are you doing here? I told you to stay on Earth,” he said, trying to sound angry and stern but far too tired to pull it off.
“Sorry, I couldn't just let you face this alone,” Bulma answered with a slightly teary smile.
It was only then that they realized that the survivors of the Saiyan army were gathering around them in droves. Healed by another senzu bean, Kakkarot came running up behind Vegeta to congratulate him on finishing the Spirit Bomb, but Vegeta waved him off. Vegeta straightened up and took half a step away from Bulma to face his people. Before he could speak, they all began to cheer.
“All hail Prince Vegeta! All hail The Blue Lady!” the Saiyans shouted.
“All hail me?” Bulma blinked in surprise for a moment as the chant continued and then smirked in a way that made Vegeta proud. “Damn straight! All hail me!”
Vegeta raised his hands to signal for silence and the cheering quieted down.
“King Kold and his sons are dead!” Vegeta declared and the Saiyans roared back in triumph.
“You think this is over?!” A voice screamed and Vegeta barely managed to deflect a ki attack that came from the sky. The crowd looked up to see Salza flying overhead, beaten and battered, but most of the blood covering him wasn't his. “This battle is not over while I still live!”
“Your masters are gone, and by the look of it, so is the rest of your team! Walk away now while you have the chance!” Kakkarot yelled back.
“Never!” Salza snarled and readied another attack that he never managed to fire. He was suddenly struck by ki attacks from every Saiyan on the ground that could see him. Within seconds, nothing remained of Coola's defiant lieutenant but traces of ash floating in the sky.
“Anyone else want to keep this going?” Vegeta snarled loudly, looking around him.
Much to everyone's surprise, an Aisu-jin pushed his way through the crowd and walked up to Vegeta, stopping ten steps away from the new Saiyan monarch. The Aisu-jin was wearing a general's uniform and was openly scowling. Vegeta glared and scowled back at him.
“Are you about to claim the throne?” Vegeta asked.
“No, I'm here to declare our surrender; there's no point in continuing this battle. We accept our defeat – and our deaths,” the Aisu-jin general said solemnly.
“Deaths?” Kakkarot asked before he could stop himself.
“You're going to destroy our world, just as Frieza destroyed yours, aren't you?” the general said quietly, resignation in his voice.
Vegeta considered that for a moment. A tiny, dark voice inside him insistently muttered in his ear: why shouldn't they wipe out this wretched planet? Wouldn't such an action be viewed as justice in its purest form? After everything the Kold Empire had done, plus all the worlds Frieza had destroyed, like Vegeta-sei, Mikusubodo-sei, and Namek-sei, why should their home world continue to exist? Vegeta balled one hand into a fist as he thought it over.
Then another voice spoke up inside him that sounded remarkably like his foster father, Durama. But should an entire race be held accountable for the murderous actions of a few? Weren't the people on this planet as much slaves and victims to the perverted whims of their corrupt leaders as the rest of the empire?
The whisper then shifted a softer, feminine tone, sounding more like Harpena, his foster mother, who reminded him about the Saiyan's lost heritage and what the Aisu-jins had also undoubtedly lost during the oppressive rule of the Kold empire. How much of their history and traditions were destroyed, stolen, or corrupted to suit Kold and his sons? Vegeta gave a quiet snort at that thought and trailed his gaze across the badly damaged landscape. Very little of the capital city remained standing and very few of the Kold soldiers still survived.
A younger male voice that sounded rather like Sasu spoke to him asking, what if those families also wanted revenge? Would they acknowledge that only Frieza was to blame or would they want to attack the Saiyans again? But then, none of them could stand up to the Saiyans, now. They needed to be watched, though. . .
A slightly more mature, feminine voice took over in his mind, sounding now like Fululy, his ever-practical, big sister. Yes, the Aisu-jins could be allowed to live and rebuild, so long as they don't rebuild their empire, right?
Then again, the easiest way to stop that from happening was to kill them all now, whispered the dark voice again.
Vegeta flinched slightly at the thought, and then he heard a gentle voice that sounded just like Tammibo: Frieza had dismissed the Saiyans as nothing more than barbarians. Please don't prove him right, big brother. Prove that you're better than that, better than him.
Vegeta drew in a slow breath of the heavy, tainted air as he made his decision.
“I'm going to give you all one chance,” Vegeta said as he stalked toward the Aisu-jin General. The Saiyan prince was thoroughly exhausted and his body ached. His armor was destroyed and the clothes underneath ruined, but his movements were still strong and sure. “One single chance to prove to me and every other world in this galaxy that you all aren't like King Kold and his family. One chance at peace. But if I ever see an Aisu-jin tyrant rise again and try to reclaim Kold's Empire, I swear to you upon my sacred Saiyan honor that I will return, without any hesitation, to destroy this planet and everyone on it myself! Am I perfectly clear?”
“Very, Your Majesty,” the Aisu-jin General said with a nod, his eyes wide with surprise. He turned on his heel and flew away to begin spreading the word of Vegeta's unexpectedly merciful declaration.