The Namekians had questions and each of them required an answer or they would have refused me my request. Being an empathic species, they carefully observed my every expression, twitch, and energy flux as I responded to them. Deception, they warned, would likely be uncovered.
“How did you get into this time?” That was the first question of the Great Elder.
“A machine which I constructed in my own era,” I replied, “that has since been destroyed.”
“Can you not construct another such machine?” one of the advisors queried.
“I constructed it on another world, in my own era,” I answered carefully. “I could construct another were I to return to that world. But I don’t possess the resources in this time that I do in my own, and obtaining the materials may take years.”
“But you could do it,” the advisor noted. The Namekians then had whispered amongst themselves, seemingly in agreement.
This angers me briefly, but I simply bite my lip and hold it in. It was, after all, the truth.
“Yes,” I nod.
“Why did you come to this time, warrior?” A second advisor, which oddly enough reminds of a much older Dende, asks.
I take a very deep breath before answering. All eight Namakians focus their eyes on me.
“In the time I came here from,” I start, “the world of my people has been destroyed. I never got to see it. I needed to see it for myself. I needed to experience the culture and ways of those I am descended from.”
For the most part true. Not really a lie-
“You’re holding something back,” the Great Elder says softly.
I nod slowly. I suppose I’ll have to be honest.
“My husband, the Prince of my people, is the only one who remembers our home world. I wanted to,” the words fail me, and I have to collect myself. My thoughts race for the proper words, and find them. “I wanted to understand him. Understand completely who he was, and how he came to be who he is.”
Another damned silence follows as they look at each other. The one that resembles Dende turns to me.
“Was it not enough to know who he is now? Could you not love him with only that knowledge?”
I open my mouth to reply but then have to rethink my answer. I’ve never doubted his love, even if I felt he longed for something I couldn’t give him. I loved him knowing the destruction he and Nappa caused during his first visit to Earth. I loved him despite the times he worked against us on Namek and during his absence when our son was born. And when he returned, did he not remain by my side?
Wasn’t that love enough? I’d like to think so, but if that’s the case, why did I do all of this?
“It does seem like a needless, and selfish, desire to summon Pourunga,” another Namekian, short and heavy, states softly.
“But yet,” the Great Elder mentions quickly, “she could have attempted to take them by force. She’s obviously familiar with our people and what the dragonballs are capable of. Her power is great-enough that we might not be able to prevent her from doing exactly that, if she chose to. Still, she came to us with the highest respect and asked if we would make the wish for her.”
The murmuring of agreement follows. A few voice their discontent, and then very civilized discussion ensues. I can do nothing but wait. The minutes drag on. My patience slides and slips and almost vanishes completely. If they will not help me, I should leave and head to Earth. I’m wasting time here otherwise. If I get to Earth, I can get the dragonballs there or if nothing else, obtain the parts to build a new time machine.
I could just tell them that in my era, I gave shelter to their entire damn race after Frieza destroys this planet, and that they owe me a home for the home I gave them. But that might cause repercussions in the future, my past, when I needed their dragonballs to wish back Tien, Chiaotzu, and Yamcha.
And still…was it not enough to love him as I was, as he was?
These words continue to echo, over and over. When did it not become enough to have just that?
“It is decided, then,” the Great Elder states with finality. The old Namekian turns to me and with him, the rest of the council. I clear my expression and nod to them.
“We will grant your request,” he continues. “You must be the one to phrase it, however.”
What I told them to ask for was to be returned to the world of my birth, exactly one minute after I had left my time for this one. And of course I, being me, left out yet another important detail and neglected to give them a location more specific than “my proper world,” so I ended up half the world away from West City above the ocean. Unprepared for flight, I fell into the saltwater and swallowed a mouthful of the awful stuff before I was able to focus my chi and take to the air.
The sight of Earth below me almost makes me weep. Almost, but not quite. Buruma would have wept, but I’ve seen too much to weep at such a simple thing. Still, it’s beautiful and absolutely unlike every world I’ve seen in my long journey. The oceans become mountains, and deserts and back again as I pick up speed. West City, and then Capsule Corporation are lovely dots on the horizon, blossoming quickly.
Nobody is home when I step through the doors. It is still, completely quiet and, to my minor dismay, a complete mess. Vejita and Trunks are not the most tidy of people, but then again, I suppose, I haven’t been either recently. Dirty plates litter the dining area. I’m surprised they figured out how to cook without me. I wonder how many times it took them to get it right.
I am back in my own time exactly on the day I left it. Two weeks after my training with Eighteen. Enough time that my friends might be worried about me, but not enough that they’d have done something like use the dragonballs to find me.
But…for me it is has been so much longer. I can tell this simply by looking at a photo album of mine. Flipping through the pages, at all the photographs of me with the others, I hardly recognize myself. My expressions, my hair, the lack of a tail…is that other woman truly me? Was I ever so small, so helpless?
I sit upon my sofa and slowly turn the pages, and they are all there, the many different faces of myself throughout the years. The girl whom met Son Gokuu when he was but a child, the girl who dated Yamcha for a while, the woman who went to Namek…god, did my hair ever look that bad…? At the end is a picture I took of myself right after my transformation, before my hair started to change. I don’t look all that much different than I did in all these other images. All new images will be so radically different, though. I should probably just start a new book.
This book contains images of Buruma, and I haven’t been her for a long time.
My front door opens and closes, and with it, a skip of my heart.
This is it. I’m about to face either my husband or my son, or maybe both of them, for the first time as a full-fledged Saiyajin warrior. I hear footsteps coming towards me, and keep my back to them for the moment. No need to rise just yet.
I take a deep breath, and wait.
“You’re trespassing,” a voice finally says. It is Vejita’s. “I could sense your energy from miles away. Very careless for someone intruding into my home.”
I suppose with my Saiyajin hair fully-formed, I would be unrecognizable from behind now. Particularly if he only saw my head and neck.
So I stand.
And I turn to him.
His expression drops.
I can’t read it. It’s not anger. It looks like shock. He takes a step back.
I’ve terrified my husband. This isn’t good. I knew the reaction might be bad, but I haven’t even gotten the chance to say-
“Kansha…” he murmurs, his voice thick with disbelief.
Not a divergent timeline then…? Or…was this always fated to be…?
Then it hits me. He said Kansha. Not Buruma, but Kansha.
He doesn’t recognize me as Buruma. He’s seeing a ghost from his past. He’s seeing someone Frieza ordered to be nice to him, and not the mother of his child.
This is what I wanted though…isn’t it?
I nod numbly.
“Vejita,” I begin, trying to find the right words. He talks over me.
“You look no different than my memories,” he shakes his head. “I was but a child when I last saw you, and you are unchanged.”
“This is going to be hard to explain,” I try again, and again, he speaks over me.
“What are you doing here?” He is struggling for words. “Why have you come here?”
“My home is with you,” I say, and immediately regret not wording it differently. “Rather, I mean-
“Dad? Who are you talking to?” My son’s voice now, coming in behind my husband. Then he is there, looking at me with the same expression my husband did.
“That’s another Saiyajin!” Trunks exclaims with one finger extended in my direction.
He doesn’t recognize me either. My family doesn’t…what would my mother and father say if they walked in right now? Would they scream? Would they flee?
“Quiet, son,” Vejita mutters, standing in front of our child in an uncharacteristically protective gesture.
This hurts me. Even as my rational side tells me he’s thinking of his child’s safety, my emotional self is crying.
“You think I would hurt him?” I ask low in my throat. “What kind of monster do you take me for?”
“Whoa…” Trunks mutters suddenly, taking a step back as well. “Dad, she sounds like Mom.”
I smile at him. At least my son-
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Vejita admonishes him, “your mother never spoke like that. Only warriors speak with such tones.”
This is true. Back then, as my husband remembers me, I’d have gone into hysterics and been overly melodramatic.
“That,” my husband continues, “is a warrior I knew when I was younger than you are now. Her name is Kansha.”
“Kansha,” my son repeats as he looks me over curiously.
Just say it. Just say it. Just say, I am Buruma. Open your mouth, woman, and say it.
“That’s what I am called, yes.” I can’t do it. I was Buruma, yes, but no longer.
But still, I have to say something about that, too. I can’t hide this. They have to know what happened to me.
“Vejita, listen to me for a second,” I again try to explain. Again, he interrupts me.
“When did things change enough that you can address me as though we were old friends?” He crosses his arms. My son is peeking out from behind him.
His words, though…I’m just another Saiyajin to him…I’m not his wife.
The hurt begins welling up and I can feel it start to overshadow any rational thoughts I might have. I have to force the words out of my throat.
“Vejita,” I say slowly and carefully, “I know this is going to sound unbelievable, but I am…I was…”
I can’t finish it. How can I expect him to believe me? What can I say to him to convince him without sounding mad?
“I still remember what you said to me,” my husband smirks. “That one day, I’d surpass you and every other Saiyajin raised on Vejita.” His first slowly begins to ball up. “You knew then that I wouldn’t be the strongest. You knew and you deceived me!”
“I told you the truth,” I say evenly. This is going badly. I think he’s going to lose it in a few moments. “I never meant-
“You lied! You knew what was to come and let me believe a pretty fabrication!” I can sense his chi beginning to rise. He probably is unaware of it.
“Would you have believed me,” I begin carefully, “if I said a low-class warrior would one day surpass you?”
“No,” I continue. “You would have laughed in my face, and who knows, perhaps even ordered some of your little cronies to have me put down. I said what I had to keep you pacified so I could survive.”
“Is that true, Dad?” Trunks almost tugs on Vejita’s sleeve and changes his mind. “Would you really have had someone killed for saying that?”
Vejita looks down at our son. His expression is mixed; obviously, he would have done it but that’s not a side of him that Trunks has ever seen. It’s a side of him that, during the final confrontation with Majin Buu, everyone believes he has finally put behind him.
He doesn’t answer him. Turning his focus back to me, he says through clenched teeth, “You knew it would a low class warrior? How did you know?”
Just say it. Simple words. Because. I. Am. Buruma. But…knowing that, will it make it worse that I said that to him when he was a child?
I’m strong. I can probably stand up to Piccolo if it ever became necessary. But not him, not when he is conceivably the second-strongest warrior in the history of the Saiyajin race. I can’t let him come to blows with me.
What the hell am I thinking?
Back down? I didn’t go through all that blood and death just to be the same woman I was before I set all this in motion.
My fingers slowly curl inward, collecting in two tense balls. I spare a moment to look down at them.
“I’m sick of this argument, Vejita,” I mutter, loud enough for both of them to hear. And it’s true. I’m sick of this. Everything boils down to him being the strongest. From his ongoing competition with my oldest friend to the subtle rejection which drove me to be this thing that I have become…
“Dad,” my son says in a hushed voice, “her energy is-
“Get out of the way, son,” Vejita tells him, and he does so, running outside. Vejita remains exactly where he is, not even bothering to assume a defensive stance. He can probably sense that my chi won’t be enough to cause him serious harm. Either that, or he just isn’t going to show any weakness to me specifically.
With my head low, I look up and meet his gaze.
“When I left our home world,” I say darkly, “there wasn’t a Saiyajin who had beaten me alone. That included you.”
Vejita hehs, smirking. “Much has changed since then.”
“Yes, I know,” I smirk back. “You’ve become a legendary Super-Saiyajin. Surpassed that, so I’ve been told. Even then, it wasn’t you who killed Frieza. Or Cell. Or Majin Buu.”
That shakes him a little.
“You know about all of that, then,” he grits his teeth. “Where did you hear about this from? Kakarot?”
“No,” I admit, knowing fully that my next words are going to push him over the edge. But I don’t care. I don’t care. “I also know that you were going to name your child after me.”
His mouth opens wide with momentary shock, that vein in his forehead throbbing as it often does when his anger really escalates.
“I must have made some impression on you back then, for you to honor me so. You’re being awfully hostile to someone you apparently admired once,” I smile. It must be true, of course. Why else would he have chosen it? I hope he’ll tell me someday.
If both of us keep our head right now and don’t do anything stupid.
“Where did you learn this?” He’s composed himself again, and he doesn’t look happy.
I can’t help myself. The words come out of my mouth and I’m somehow unable to stop them.
“From your mate.”
He blinks. And I grin darkly.
I’m blown through the wall before I realize what hit me. It was just a punch, not enough to do anything more than startle me, but the force of it turned my body into a nice projectile. I sail through the structure and out into the open air, where I am able to focus my chi to hover above my home. Vejita is already up there waiting for me.
“The great Saiyajin Prince angered at the mention of his human mate,” I chuckle. “My, there have been some changes in you since the last time we spoke.”
“If you have so much as-
I interrupt him this time. It feels great to suddenly have control of the situation.
“Making threats, now? Willing to fight me for her sake?” I smile. “I’m touched,” and it’s true, I am very much so. The irony, that he’s willing to fight the new me for the old me isn’t lost, but it’s warming to know that he’d-
I pay for my distraction. He’s on me before I can react again, and gets in another punch before I’m able to start blocking him. It’s all I can do to stop his attacks. His technique, so amateurish as a child, is practically perfect now. I’d have to be quicker than him to land any blow and he’s much, much quicker than I am. I can’t hope for him to get tired either. He’s trained to fight enemies with impossible stamina. I’m going to tire long before he does. I’m still not at the limits of my power level, far from it, but I don’t think that’s going to make any difference in the end.
He grabs me by the shoulder straps of my armor and throws me towards the ground. I’m able to use my chi to shield the brunt of the impact, but the wind is still taken from my lungs. Before I’m able to pull myself out of the crater I left in the earth, he’s already grabbed my armor again and lifting me out. I can feel his breath on my cheek as he holds me suspended off the ground.
“Where is Buruma?” he growls, his chi flaring out as it rises ever so slightly. My own breath returns to me. He wasted enough time for me to get it back.
I wait for him to start barking at me again. Rather, I wait for him to open his mouth and as he’s about to speak, I focus everything I have and try spinning underneath him to throw him over my shoulder while grabbing his wrist with my opposite hand. Miraculously, he either doesn’t react quickly enough or lets me get away with it. He lands in the crater with a soft thud, enough time for me to get airborne and away from him.
Or so I thought. I put kilometers between us in a handful of seconds and he still is fast enough to pick himself off the ground and outrace me. I’m able to stop my momentum before we’d collide, just barely inching out of his outstretched fingers as he grasped for me.
“Pathetic,” he chuckles as I cautiously adopt a defense form. “You’re fleeing already.”
I smirk back. “This must remind you of every single fight you couldn’t win,” I say, “except now you’re the big evil for once. I bet you enjoy hurting those who have no chance against you. But then, I suppose the only fights you can win are the ones you start against weaker opponents.”
As soon as I’m finished talking, he’s attacking me. Feet and hands and forearms come at me over and over, most of them connecting. I guess I hit a bigger nerve than I intended. The impacts of his attacks are going to leave bruises. Big ones. If I wasn’t in real danger, I’d be proud that I’ve stood up this long to him. No serious damage just yet.
He brings his fists together and slams them into my stomach, sending me sailing back towards the ground a second time. He catches me long before I would’ve hit. Again, he holds me aloft with one arm but close enough to gloat.
“You’d better hope that Buruma isn’t hurt,” he growls low in his throat. I almost laugh as he says it. Of course, Buruma isn’t hurt. I am, but she’s not. Thankfully, I keep my expression even.
“Your wife still lives,” I reply, enjoying the double meaning far more than I should, “but it will be up to you if she continues to do so.”
The brief moment of pause is all I need. Once I sense him hesitate, when I see his eyes widen and his mouth freeze, I plant my foot squarely into his chest. I put everything I possibly can into that kick, and he feels it. My instincts, still sharp, take over and from that first kick I snag his forearm and follow up with three more: one to the side of the neck, another to his chest, and one to his face. The force of the last one breaks him free from my grip and he sails backwards.
I wish I could say that I’d planned for that to happen. I know I just got lucky, a happy accident, that my words affected him like they did. Nonetheless, I’m filled with immense satisfaction.
I struck him. In combat, I was able to land blows on Vejita. No matter how badly I lose this fight, I’ll always be able to say that. He’ll never ever laugh at the thought of me being a warrior again.
I can hope, anyway.
Vejita rights himself, wiping his mouth once and checking it for blood. I wish I could claim that I drew it, but his face is unmarked.
“I’m impressed,” he chuckles. “That actually hurt. I didn’t think you’d be able to hurt me.”
You and me both, I marvel silently. So, I wounded him a little too. Even more points in my favor. If I can keep him angry enough perhaps I have a chance to prove myself without getting killed.
“The thought of your mate in trouble weakened your resolve,” I taunt carefully. “You have a weakness after all.”
“Feh,” he chuckles. He’s definitely angry. “I don’t think so.” Then he’s at me again.
A flurry of feet and hands come towards me from all sides. I’m fortunate that he’s not using his chi against me except to augment his body, because if I had anything else to think about, I wouldn’t be able to block and dodge quick enough to avoid being hit. I am nearing the limits of my chi to be able to do this, but he doesn’t know that. At least, I hope he doesn’t know it. All he can sense, if I’m not wrong, is my current chi without a scouter. That’s all I can sense, anyway. I don’t know how far he can push his chi without going gold on me. With any luck it’s not much further.
With sudden pride, I decide that I have to push him that far. If I can make him go Super-Saiyajin on me, then I will have forever proven myself as a worthy warrior. And with that in mind, I push aside any thought of admitting to him who I really am, of stopping this fight, and raise my power level. With speed I hadn’t let him see just yet I plant my fist squarely into his face and go on the offensive.
I immediately strike his chest and stomach as often as I can. Blow after blow lands, and I begin pushing him backwards as he looks on in surprise.
He really should have known better. I’m betting he didn’t think I could hide my true power like Kakarot and him, like Trunks, Goten, and Gohan. He probably is thinking of me exactly like he would any of the other Saiyajin warriors he bested on Vejita, and thinking of me in terms of their weakness.
And, grabbing suddenly for my waist, and more importantly my tail, he proves me right. I’m able to get out of the way of it before he close his fingers around it, and swing my leg around to bash the side of his head. The force is enough to send him spinning away from me, which unfortunately gives him enough time, the scant seconds he needed, to right himself and regain his coherence.
My tail… I’d forgotten how much of a disadvantage I’m at with it. It’s not even a full moon right now, and what little tactical advantage it gives me as a fifth limb will be meaningless if he catches it. I suppose I could try the same trick he pulled on Kakarot, making a ball of energy to simulate the moon’s light, but I’ve never done that and am not certain if I can do it. Besides, transforming like that is admitting weakness, and we’re too close to Capsule Corp for me to even think about becoming that big.
That little distraction costs me. He’s back on me before I can even see him recover fully. I must have hurt his pride, and I’m back on the defensive. His chi is higher now.
This isn’t a training session. Not that I needed to remind myself of that, but it’s now occurring to me that the others will be sensing our chi and realize that as well. It won’t be long before Piccolo, Gokuu, Gohan, and Kurirrin arrive. And I have to push my chi even higher to have a prayer at defending myself.
More of my punches land before he can raise his chi in response. The problem is that I don’t think I’m hurting him. His face remains unmarked despite everything I’ve hit him with. When he catches both of my fists and holds me in place, I know I’ve been suckered.
“Where…is…Buruma?” he grunts between breaths. At least he’s breathing heavy.
“In the last place you’d think to look for her,” I spit back, pulling my fists back and spinning around to plant my foot in his chest.
But far too slow. Or he’s too quick. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He catches my armor just below the back of my neck with one hand. His other hand reaches down to my waist and firmly grips my tail.
My cohesion bottoms out as my vision goes blurry. I’ve never had anyone successfully do this before. All the fight goes out of me instantly and I’m trapped in his grasp, defenseless.
“Heh heh heh,” my husband chuckles behind me as he pulls me close to him. “So easily beaten after all.”
I want to say something snide back to him, but I can’t put enough coherent thought together to think of the words. Even if I could, I doubt I have the strength to get them out of my throat. All those times this happened to Gokuu when he was a child and I couldn’t understand how it could be so draining. What a time to learn that lesson.
“Now, Kansha,” Vejita says quietly into my ear, “tell me where she is or I’ll rip the tail from your body.”
Lose my tail? No. No, anything but that. It’s best to end this now, anyway. I’ve lost, and I’ll just have to accept that. I never expected to win, anyway.
I try finding the will to answer him. The words are in my mind but this time it’s my body failing to deliver them instead of my desire. In my thoughts, I want to say “I am her, you idiot.” What actually comes out is-
I guess that would be correct, if he stopped to hear it all. The way his hand clenches down tighter on my tail indicates he heard only the “you idiot” portion.
“I’m feeling rather generous at the moment,” he growls, “so I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”
I feel my eyes beginning to roll up backwards and blackness about to consume me as he squeezes.
“Now,” he continues, pausing between each word to squeeze even tighter. “Where…is…she?”
I’m trying to answer, but I can’t force out the words. I’ve got no strength in me whatsoever. I feel a horrible ripping pain in my lower body, and then my focus returns violently quick.
“Not quick enough,” Vejita chides, letting go of me. I manage to stay airborne and turn around to face him.
It’s in his hand. My tail is his hand.
“What have you done?” I mumble numbly. It’s gone. I’m too old for it to grow back. It’s gone for good.
“I don’t play games where my family is involved,” my husband’s expression becomes terrifyingly serious. “Tell me where Buruma is or I will kill you.”
“You cut off my tail…” I mumble again.
He smirks, throwing it towards me. I watch disbelieving as it falls to the ground and out of sight. My tail has been such a part of my life the past years, I can scarcely imagine life without it. I know it’s unnecessary, after all, he doesn’t have his. None of the Saiyajins on Earth do. But that doesn’t matter.
“YOU cut off MY tail…” I almost scream. Him. My mate. He did that to me.
He looks at me, knowing that I’m angry but misunderstanding why I am. My chi instantly flares to its maximum, seeing that ignorant expression change as he senses the increase of my power level.
“YOU BASTARD! HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?”
I want to hurt him. He hurt me, and now I want to hurt him. I forget in my rage that this is my husband and stop holding anything back. I throw everything I have at him Everything. My energy braids, little shots of razor light, and everything I’d learned from Eighteen and my two years in the past. My power is several times what he, as a child, remembers it being. I’m certain he was thinking I’d be no stronger now than I was then. But those last missions that Frieza sent me on after Nappa returned almost killed me, and made me far stronger than I was then.
It all hits him. I wish, suddenly, that I had learned the kaio-ken technique so I could make this hurt more than it will. As it is, the smoke from the explosions upon his body is hiding his expression. I don’t know the kamehameha wave either, but I channel what I’ve got left into one final braid.
A blur of color, and my son, glowing gold, is floating before me and Vejita.
“I’m going to make you pay for that,” he threatens, pointing a finger at me. I pause, the awesome power of his chi overwhelming me. I’ve never felt the chi of a Super-Saiyajin before.
What Piccolo told Gohan was right.
It’s like becoming onto a god…
A god. My son.
“Get out of the way, Trunks,” I yell in my maternal voice. And just like I hoped, it’s his turn to pause. He’s heard that same tone a million times from me before, and his eyes widen with the expected hesitation.
But I’m wrong. It’s not me he’s pausing at. It’s the absolutely cosmic chi forming behind him, making his own appear a fading light before an atomic detonation.
I’ve awoken a god and he is angry. The smoke dissipates and the first glimpse I see reveals Vejita’s now green eyes burning into me, his Super-Saiyajin chi a blinding corona threatening to incinerate my own eyes. My final attack, held back since Trunks intervened, evaporates without me ever using it.
“Listen to her and get out of the way,” his voice thunders to our son.
“Dad,” Trunks stammers, still between us. “Dad, she knows who I am. She knows my name.”
I’m only dimly aware of their conversation. Seeing a Super-Saiyajin with senses that cannot perceive chi is deceiving, and I realize now that I should’ve never pushed things this far. I have proven myself, I have made him go gold on me, and if I survive this, I will force him to acknowledge that he was wrong.
If I survive this.
“Vejita,” I mumble, but I doubt he can hear me. His eyes narrow threateningly, and Trunks flies quickly away from us.
“So,” he says gravely, “you think you’re powerful enough to challenge me, Kansha?” He cracks his neck and his knuckles in one fluid motion. “Perhaps you were once my better. Having never seen a legendary Super-Saiyajin before, you might have thought yourself still superior to me. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were.”
His attacks land before I even see him move. A punch to the gut, and I feel a rib break. A chop to a pressure point on my shoulder and my left arm immediately becomes useless. Saiyajin women are warriors just like the men, and just as dangerous. Gender does not discriminate power levels to our species, and so Saiyajins never had any code of behavior resembling chivalry towards females. He will destroy me without any pangs of conscience.
He throws me over one shoulder and is fast enough to sail in front of me as I hurtle through the sky so my forehead smashes into his foot. I black out for a second. When next I open my eyes, the clouds are zooming further and further from me. The ground again breaks my fall, and again, I black out.
Consciousness returns to me with the ringing echo of pain in every single muscle and joint of my back. I’m strong enough only to crawl on my three good limbs out of the two meter deep crater, and then collapse. There is blood on my tongue, and the taste of it prevents me from fading out a third time.
A pair of boots comes into the skewed angle I have my head resting at, touching down on the ground. They walk towards me, coming to rest just within arms reach. They aren’t Vejita’s feet, but I recognize them anyway.
“It would be wise of you to stay down,” Piccolo’s voice says coldly. “You fought skillfully, but even you must see now how outmatched you are.”
Voice behind me.
“Let go of me, Kakarot!” My husband.
“Calm down, Vejita!” And so he is here too. “Look at her! Unless she can go Super-Saiyajin too, you’ve beaten her. You don’t have to kill her!”
“Release me now, Kakarot! She knows where Buruma is!”
“Huh? Oh, well why I don’t I just ask her then?”
More footsteps. Piccolo remains where he is, and in my current, broken condition, I don’t dare so much as move.
“Dad?” I hear Trunks behind me about where Vejita would be standing. “Does she really know what happened to Mom?”
“She’d better know,” my husband grumbles to my son.
I now see the boots of my oldest friend as he walks over to Piccolo, and then crouches down.
“Wow, so you’re a Saiyajin too? I’ve never met a girl Saiyajin before.”
As he says this, I move my head just enough to get a better look at him.
He’s grinning at me. That goofy, child-like grin he’s always had. And for some reason, I feel belittled and therefore angry at how casually he’s examining what’s just happened to me.
My lips open and spitting blood, I snap, “Don't look at me that way, Kakarot.”
“Whoa,” he grins. “You know who I am!”
“Of course she knows who you are, you idiot!” That’s my husband. I would smile if it wouldn’t hurt too badly. “Everyone knows who you are.”
Kakarot grimaces and chuckles, holding one hand behind his head. “Actually the name is really Gokuu. Only Vejita calls me that other name.”
He turns his attention fully back to me. “What’s your name?”
Vejita doesn’t let me answer. “Her name is Kansha, Kakarot. Now drop the pleasantries and ask her where Buruma is!”
“Thanks! I can handle this just fine from here, Vejita!” Kakarot replies without any sarcasm whatsoever. Looking down at me, he asks, “So, Vejita here seems to think you know where our friend Buruma is.”
More chi signatures, dim as though kept low. Probably Gohan, Videl, and Goten.
“Oh man,” Kuririn groans. I guessed wrong. If Eighteen is also here, I wouldn’t be able to sense her. “Don’t tell me there’s yet another Saiyajin after you, Gokuu.”
“I don’t think this one is after him,” another voice pops in. Eighteen. I wonder how much she might have revealed. From the sound of it, nobody knows anything but her. It’s funny that the only person I can see right now is Kakarot.
Well, and Piccolo’s feet.
“Huh?” Kuririn responds. “Why do you think that?”
“Because we’re nowhere near his home, are we?” she snaps back.
“For a race that supposed got wiped out,” Videl states with perfectly innocent curiosity, “a lot of you keep popping up, you know.”
“Yeah,” Gohan replies. “It does tend to happen that way.”
“Hi Kuririn,” Kakarot waves happily. “Eighteen, Videl, Gohan!”
I can almost hear Vejita’s face contort as he bellows, “Great. I suppose we’re going to have to wait for everyone to get here before something happens. I’m getting impatient, Kakarot!”
“Gokuu,” Piccolo says softly, needing only to say that.
“Oh right,” Kakarot turns back to me for the third time. “So, do you know where Buruma is?”
“And,” I mumble painfully, “would you do if I said she’s laying somewhere, bleeding and broken?”
“She’s definitely a Saiyajin alright,” Kuririn mutters under his breath.
It was Kakarot’s reaction I wanted, but I guess I was loud enough that Vejita could hear me.
“Vejita, wait!” Gohan’s voice.
I’m picked up quickly while Kakarot looked over at Kuririn. Vejita holds me aloft by my neck. Not strangling, but still snug enough that the pressure on his fingers is threatening.
“I will kill you if you’re speaking the truth, Kansha!”
He spins me so I’m looking at him. Behind him, at last I see the gathered warriors. My eyes drift downward, and I see the hurt in his eyes. Those eyes that are bracing themselves for the possibility that his loved one might have been killed. Those eyes that see me as reason his wife has been missing for the past weeks.
My rage vanishes instantly. I can’t bear to hurt him while he’s looking at me like that, when all he’s thinking about is me.
The saltwater wells up and spills out down my cheeks and onto his hand. I can’t remember the last time I cried. Surely there was some private moment during my time in the past where I broke down and sobbed, but I…just can’t…remember…when.
“Whoa!” Kuririn gasps. “Do see that? Have you ever seen a Saiyajin from Vejita cry before?”
“What?” Vejita sees me crying and I feel his fingers lessen their grip. “Is that supposed to move me? What kind of a warrior are you?”
“A warrior,” I choke out between tears, “that forced you to go Super-Saiyajin even if you didn’t have to.”
His fingers begin to tighten again.
“You told me,” I continue, sobbing only occasionally, “that you’d never consider me a warrior.”
“I never told you that,” he snaps. “I told you that I would surpass-
I interrupt him. “When Frieza destroyed Namek, I offered you a place in my home even though you had fought against and even killed some of my dearest friends.”
His eyes begin to widen, and he drops me. I fall to my knees in a heap, but I don’t stop talking.
“When you left me to travel through the stars, I found myself waiting every single day for you to come back. Even though all we did was bicker and complain at each other, I still wanted you there. When you eventually came to me,” I am distantly aware that while almost everyone I care about in the world is watching me have a breakdown, and that it hurts that they’re witnessing this, it’s not stopping me, “and took me as your lover, I thought I’d finally reached something inside of you new and untouched. When you finally came back, and saw our son-”
Vejita looks at me in disbelief. I’m certain the others are as well.
“And when I heard that you…you gave…” the words are so hard for me to push out now, just so hard in a different way, “why you were willing to give your life against Buu…”
“Oh man,” Gohan mumbles.
“You…you,” I’m sobbing uncontrollably now, “you later told me, many years later when the two of us were alone, that when I offered you a place to stay you thought I was a vulgar creature for presenting myself to you the way I did.”
And I can’t say anything more. I’ve probably just ruined any chance of being thought of as a true Saiyajin, but at least he knows.
“I don’t get it,” Kakarot says suddenly. “Vejita, were the two of you together back when you were working with Frieza? No, that’s not right, cause she said after Frieza destroyed Namek and-
“SHUT UP, KAKAROT!” Both Vejita and I scream together at him. He jumps back, startled.
“That’s Buruma, Gokuu,” Piccolo says very quietly.
“What?” My oldest friend looks at me with an expression I’ve never seen him give me. To other people, yes, but not me.
“That can’t be Buruma, Piccolo,” he insists. “That woman is a Saiyajin!”
“Mom?” Trunks peeks out from behind Gohan’s leg. “Is that really you?”
“I’m really confused here,” Kuririn pipes in. “Somebody explain to me why Piccolo thinks she’s Buruma?”
“I don’t know,” Videl offers, “trim her hair and dye it a little, and she would look like her. Been working out a lot, though.”
Vejita remains speechless. I don’t know whether to take that as a good sign or a bad sign.
“That is Buruma,” Eighteen says finally. Cat’s out of the bag anyway, no reason for her not to. “Rather, it was Buruma.”
“Was Buruma?” Kuririn asks.
I remain silent as well. I continue to gaze upon my dumbfounded husband through now-dry eyes as he looks at me through still-wide ones.
“Her energy signature is just what I imagine Buruma’s would be if she was a Saiyajin,” Piccolo explains. “I’m not sure how it happened, but she’s telling the truth.”
“Oh wow,” Videl exclaims suddenly. “Do you think I can do that too?”
“What?” Gohan exclaims immediately after.
“Feh,” Vejita finally remarks. “All of this is a deception. She could have learned everything she’s told us from Buruma. No one can learn to fight like that in two weeks.”
“Try two years,” Eighteen retorts. “I should know, I’m the one who trained her.”
“Huh?” Kuririn, still clueless, asks. “When did you do that? I mean, the two of you were gone for about an hour or so two weeks ago, but you’re been at home ever since.”
“A time machine,” I admit, and everyone looks at me. I feel their eyes on me again, though I don’t actually meet any of them with my own. “When Trunks came to us from the future, warning us about Dr. Gero’s plans, it was from a time machine that a future version of me constructed. Since I knew it was possible to do it, I’d been trying to make it ever since. I succeeded a few months ago.”
“That’s amazing, Buruma!” Kakarot exclaims, all suspicion in his face gone. “So you’ve been training in the past?”
“In the past, yes, in the Room of Time of Space.” I keep my eyes on my husband.
He keeps his on me, but spares a glance at Eighteen. She did, after all, best him before.
“Her technique is similar to Eighteen’s,” Piccolo agrees. “From what I was able to witness, though, she must have had another teacher.”
“She knows maneuvers taught only on Vejita,” my husband insists. “That woman couldn’t have instructed her in those arts.”
Everyone’s eyes turn back to me. I hold my tongue for a few seconds, but nobody speaks. I’m not spared any secrets, it seems.
“I also used the time machine to visit Vejita,” I mumble, “and managed to get stranded there for much longer than I’d anticipated. Vejita in the past, before Kakarot was sent here.”
“You what?” Kuririn exclaims. “Buruma, do you have any idea what that world is like? It’s dangerous and full of evil-
Both Vejita and I shoot him a hard glance. Kuririn grimaces and doesn’t finish his sentence.
“Hey Buruma,” Kakarot mentions quietly, seemingly a little embarrassed, “do you think you could stop calling me that? You used to call me Son.”
“And my name is Kansha,” I say with a little more anger than I meant to. It gets more than a little reaction from the group. “I’m not Buruma any longer.”
“Oh man,” Kuririn mutters, “this is going to take some getting used to.”
Trunks, my dear son, walks out from behind Gohan’s leg and right to me. He looks me up and down twice with a child’s scrutiny.
“Cool,” he grins, turning to Vejita. “Mom’s like us now. I bet things are gonna be a lot more fun from now on.”
I choke back another sob and hold up my arms to him, and he walks into them. I hold him against me for a long time. I wasn’t expecting his acceptance to move me the way it is. It’s definitely the brightest part of what’s been a very difficult day so far.
“Mom,” he says into my ear, “come on, everyone’s watching…”
I release him, but he stays near me. I’m thankful that he does.
“Which explains everything,” Piccolo states smoothly, “except how you managed to transform yourself.”
I now, having already taken my eyes of my husband, look up at the Namekian. He looks down at me icily, distant and merely curious.
“Yeah,” Videl mentions with genuine curiosity, “how did you change like that?”
“That isn’t really that important, is it?” I regret saying that immediately after the words are out. I know exactly what Piccolo is going to say.
“It is vital to establishing you aren’t deceiving us,” he retorts, proving me right.
“I agree,” Vejita adds, but his voice betrays more curiosity than suspicion. He knows it’s me, but just wants to know how I did it.
“Not here,” I mumble. I don’t want to have everyone knowing what I did. Stealing my husband’s genetic material and splicing it into my own…it’s not likely to go over well with anyone here.
“Then tell us why you did it!” Vejita points his finger at me accusingly while he speaks.
“Why?” I gasp. I realize then that I’m very angry at this statement. I rise to my feet, holding my still useless arm carefully. Everyone braces for me to launch in to an attack, but I’m in no condition for that and have something I want to say.
“Why? How can you ask me that? How can any of you ask me that?” I let my eyes roll over the group once. Only Videl, since in the time I’ve known her, she’s pretty much been in the same boat I was in, and Eighteen, my teacher, I spare. “Because I was tired of running for cover while all of you rushed into to save the world.”
I look at Kakarot, letting go of my arm long enough to poke him in the chest. “You, treating these contests like some stupid game. You killed us all by not stopping Buu when you could’ve. You forced my son, and your sons, to carry the burden when it wasn’t theirs to shoulder! My son! You let my husband,” I point to Vejita, “sacrifice himself needlessly. Needlessly! I died because of your gamble. Me and the entire world! We had to use the dragonballs to undo what you let happen!”
I turn to Piccolo. “And you! Deciding on whether or not my son’s life was a sacrifice or not. Do you have any idea what it’s like to know that your child’s life isn’t in your hands any longer? That he’s been effectively drafted and some general is going to decide that he’s a worthwhile sacrifice? That all of this is happening without my knowledge or my acceptance! I didn’t even to get to say goodbye to him before you blew up the damn door to the Room of Time and Space! I’ve never felt so helpless, and so useless! Never!”
And now, my husband. “You left me alone,” I begin quietly. “You gave up your life for me, but you left me alone…” For him, my tears begin again. “It hurt so badly to watch you fight Cell. Knowing I couldn’t help you. Not knowing if you’d come back or not. And then,” I choke another sob, “you didn’t when Buu showed up. I couldn’t stand the...” I swallow, “I just had to…be there with you, if it ever happened again. You and Trunks. I…I had to know that you didn’t think less of me. That you didn’t think me weak.”
“Feh,” he spits, crossing his arms, “do you honestly think I’d have stuck around if you weren’t important to me? I liked who you were.”
“What?” I freeze in my tracks, the cohesion of my entire existence suddenly dangling by a thread. “Don’t you understand, Vejita? I did this for you. I wanted to give you-
“Do you really think what you’ve done makes you a true Saiyajin?” There’s genuine venom in his voice. “That I’d prefer this form to your other one?”
I fall to my knees, numb. After all this, to hear those words from him…
“What good would you be in a fight?” I feel my eyes spilling more tears as he continues. “Do you really think, after how easily I put you down, that you’d last a handful of seconds against anything I’d have to face?”
“Hey Vejita, that’s a little harsh,” Kuririn tries to defend me. I’m too shattered to care.
“This isn’t your concern!” Vejita snaps at him before turning back to me. “You worked for Frieza, knowing what he was and what he did! Have you no pride?” He keeps talking, each word something hurtful, but eventually I just stop listening.
After all this, all the blood on my hands, everything I’ve done…he’d rather have the old me. He doesn’t accept me. What was the point of all of this?
It was about me.
Me being selfish and never about winning his acceptance. Me wanting to be someone that didn’t hide anymore, someone that made a difference on the scale of my friends. Me afraid of losing my son to forces beyond my control, afraid of being alone if Vejita didn’t come back again.
I don’t care about any of that any more.
I want my old life back, but I know that it’s impossible to reclaim. Even if I became fully human, I can’t forget what I’ve felt or what I’ve done.
I don’t care. I don’t care.
I don’t want my husband to look at me with scorn. I don’t want to hear such harsh words directed at me. But I don’t care because he doesn’t understand why I did any of it. He’s not listening to me.
I don’t care about proving myself as a warrior. I am a warrior, regardless of what my friends believe. I sacrificed my own blood and tears to become who I am.
I don’t care.
I DON’T CARE!
Over my husband’s voice, I feel my eyelids close and I scream as I have never screamed before. Everyone takes a few steps back. Everything I have, all of my pain and frustration, the humiliation that my friends and family know that I worked with Frieza, the hurt of my husband’s rejection, the torment of the lives I have damaged and destroyed, pours out of me. I am aware of nothing else.
I feel nothing else but this rage and pain.
My voice grows louder and louder until I have no more voice to scream with.
And just before I go silent, I open my eyes. The ground around me, everyone’s face and clothing, everything, is illuminated by a golden glow. I look to Vejita immediately, but his aura subdued long ago. Even still, it takes me a few seconds and the image of his shocked expression burned into mind to realize that the light is not coming from him, and that the rage has left my spirit and infused itself into my flesh.
“WOW!” Kakarot exclaims behind me. “Buruma, that’s great!”
This is, to say the very least, unexpected.