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My Alice by Sami01
by Sami01

The more I stare at this, the more moved I am by it. My first thought was what an interesting coloring choice (making Alice a red head,...

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Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. But if I did own DBZ...it would still be going.  

Warnings: Cussing. Violence. No sexy times. Sorry.

A/N: Holy crap, I thought I was going to have trouble writing the action part, but once I sat down and actually wrote, man did it flow. I hope you guys enjoy the next few chapters! Not going to lie, I now know more about 1830s England then I ever thought I would. PS, too all of you out there who knows England topography and history, I have taken liberties here. Many liberties. And I am aware of that, especially in regards to parliament and what it looked like. Yeah for artistic license!

Thanks to all of you who leave loves and likes, you guys definitely keep me going. I am genuinely excited to see what you guys think of the upcoming chapters. Love you all, my gratitude for you is overflowing.

Kattastropi, you are that person who knows what word I am trying to say, even when I don't know what word I am trying to say. Everyone needs someone as awesome as you in their lives.

Chapter Forty: Let's Get Ready to Rumble

      Come quickly to House of Lords. The King is being held captive in the cabinet room. Frieza has secured a way in, with at least fifteen of his men. We need everyone to help defuse situation before people start to notice. Stealth is of utmost importance here.
     
     The words of the note were burned in Vegeta's brain as he rode the horses Nappa had somehow procured for the three men, taking what would have been a half hour walk and turning it into a ten minute ride. Vegeta was glad for the time saving, as he knew that once they arrived at the wooden footbridge, with Westminster, tall, proud and beckoning only a Thames length away--they would have to abandon the horses. Basil's note had urged covertness, and horses coming over a wooden bridge was not particularly descreet. Instead of taking the Westminster Bridge, the one that was closest to Westminster and that would deposit them to the North, Vegeta urged his horse south, following the curve of the river until they came upon a bridge that would deposit them south of the House of Lords. It took them a few extra minutes, but Vegeta hoped those minutes would prove worth it.
     
     Nappa had understood, but Vegeta had seen Kakarrot's confused face, so he only gruffly told him, "Even if Frieza does not know about my current job with the government, I can guarantee he knows I will be coming after him today. He is expecting us to come from the Northwest, where my residence is--I want to come from the Southwest, to see if we can find a way in that will not get us noticed."
     
     Kakarrot had only nodded, and the men resumed their brisk pace as they crossed the bridge. As much as time was of the essence here, Vegeta knew that the element of surprise was just as important. Frieza was sure to know that he would come, and Vegeta did not want to give that fiend the pleasure and ease of him walking past where all of his sentries were sure to be placed. As they walked, blending in with the midday market crowds who were crossing from one fresh market to other on either side of the bridge, Vegeta's mind continued to whirl, his heart hammering in his chest.
     
     He could not believe--but today was the day. The day he had been planning for,  for years! The day he could finally seek his revenge...and the day he was most likely to either lose his life if he failed. Or, on the other hand, sign his death warrant should he succeed. His stomach turned at that thought. He ignored it. Focusing, instead, on the way adrenaline slithered and coiled through his system, putting all of his senses on overdrive. Today. Today was the day he found out whether or not all of his training, the austerity he had imposed on himself in his social life, whether it was all worth it or not. His mind drew away from heavy thoughts, turning instead to the moment in front of him--trying to find answers to questions he knew only Frieza could answer.
     
     The biggest question, though, for Vegeta, was not how he had gotten in, or why he was holed up in the House of Lords--but rather just exactly what Frieza's tactic was. He was a man of open warfare--he was not one to hold a king hostage, demanding they turn over power to him or else. No, he was much more likely to ride into London with all of his troops and hold every single Londoner at sword point, killing as many as he had to to gain power. Something about the whole thing smelled fishy to Vegeta, but he could not figure out just why. It really might be the lack of army that was throwing him off--Frieza never entered battle without a battalion of soldiers larger than any army he was sure to face. But it seemed there was none, or none important enough to mention in the note. But how did Frieza expect to take a kingdom without an army?
     
     It was not sitting right with Vegeta, but still he pushed on.
     
     Nappa's large footsteps no longer right at his heels alerted Vegeta to the fact that his cousin had stopped even further back on the bridge, turning to look at him. He was surprised to a see a frown marring his face as he walked back towards him, following his line of sight towards their destination, the large building looking serene and as if it were not the spot for the biggest showdown on British soil in...well forever. Kakarrot turned back to look at Vegeta as he approached, "You know this town inside and out right?"
     
     Vegeta, growing impatient with the knowledge that every minute wasted, standing around, was one where Frieza gained an upper hand simply nodded, and Kakarrot continued, "We need to find a way into the palace where we aren't seen, right?"
     
     Barely containing his rising ire, Vegeta snapped, "Of course."
     
      "Are there canals that lead under those arches?" He pointed down from Westminster where there were arches about Fifteen feet off of the Thames. "We can use to go up into the building?"
     
     Vegeta's mind blanked for a second, mad at himself for not having thought of the cellar below. The canals were low hanging arches the perfect cover for three men trying to enter Westminster unnoticed. Before he could chastise himself too much (now he was the one wasting time!) he only growled, "There are canals underneath, and a cellar we can use to slip into Westminster." He paused before catching his cousin's eye, begrudgingly forcing himself to admit, "Excellent idea Kakarrot."
     
     Kakarrot did not idiotically beam at him, and Vegeta would forever be grateful for that. His cousin's face was instead set, much like Vegeta remembered has father's had been whenever he had spoken to the dowager, and Vegeta drew comfort in that. He did not need the Americanized Kakarrot today--he needed the one with Saiyan blood. He was not sure if his cousin was truly combat tested, in a real battle where death was the only way to move on--but he would be by the end of the day. Vegeta needed to know that his cousin could face it before he threw him into the fray--and seeing his Saiyan side coming out, well, it let him know that he would be.
     
     Vegeta turned then, knowing that the men would be on his heels as he continued across the rest of the bridge. Instead of exiting the bridge and heading down Milbank, they instead followed the path from the mouth of the bridge down to the river. Vegeta considered flinging coin at the first boat they saw--but he was worried that Frieza would have sentries posted along the edge of Westminster to watch the river for ships coming in. There was a well worn path (if it could be called that, in actuality it was more of a lip that provided a one foot ledge that held people over the river) that followed alongside the river, twenty feet below the short wall that ran from the bridge to parliament. A man would have to be looking straight down to see anyone on it, which was why it was perfect for three men trying to sneak into Westminster in the middle of the day.
     
     Nappa's large frame worried Vegeta, but he was appeased when he saw Nappa cling to the wall sideways, stopping his shoulders from hanging into people's sight. Though it slowed the man, it did provide them the cover they needed--plus Vegeta was not worried about Nappa falling behind. The man had proved himself time and time again in helping Vegeta with his spy work.
     
      They arrived at the canals that led to the Westminster cellar within minutes, but Vegeta stopped short before they could enter one. Kakarrot hit him, and Nappa hit both of them--and Vegeta's sure footing was the only thing that stopped them all from falling into the view of the Russian longboat that was already waiting in the docks underneath Westminster. Vegeta motioned to the two men behind him, who took in the longboat sitting at the dock--full of about fifty men who were dressed in British soldier's uniforms.
     
     That did not fool Vegeta though--he had fought enough Russian's to know what an army of them looked like. Plus the commands being yelled at them by the CO--they were not in English. Vegeta observed as the men, under the canal and out of view of the people on the other side of the Thames, were pulling on antiquated, yet effective in close battle, armor. Full on armor that would protect them from swords (though whether or not from bullets was another story entirely).
     
     So that was Frieza's game. Pretend to be leading a small number of people--but really having an army at his beck and call to launch a surprise attack once everyone was inside the closed confines of the House of Lords. If Frieza attacked from the front and the back in the long hallways--well, it would be a bloodbath. Whatever British generals and soldiers who were there now--they were sure to be all higher up in His Majesty's Service--Frieza could eliminate the head of the British army, navy, hell every branch of their defense with one sneak attack. That would be sure to cause pandemonium in the royal services once Frieza actually revealed himself--and make it that much easier for Frieza to gain control.
     
     Now that was more Frieza's style.
     
     Vegeta pointed back, knowing that they had to warn Basil, as it would be impossible for the three men to take on the large number of Russian soldiers who were standing between them and the docks. It was Nappa though, that froze this time. Vegeta raised an eyebrow, ready to berate his second, before Nappa pointed above the ship--pointing out the old defense system that had been here as long as there had been docks underneath Westminster.
     
     A rather large cauldron was stationed right above where the boat was docked--and Vegeta would bet his life that it was filled with pitch--the idea being, of course, that when an enemy ship docked you would light the rather large cauldron on fire before tumbling it over onto the unsuspecting boat below. It was rather medieval, but it was effective. Dangerous around all of the wooden buildings--but definitely effective. Especially against a boat full of men wearing heavy armor that was sure to sink them to the bottom of the shallow river. Shallow, yet deep enough to drown them before they could even take off the heavy armor. Vegeta looked a little further along the catwalk that led to the cauldron, and saw two unlit torches sitting there, as well as another cauldron that was placed closer to the front of the dock--if they used both, they were sure to incinerate the ship and the soldiers before they knew what hit them.
     
     Vegeta pulled both of the men back, away from the eyes and the ears of the Russian soldiers, as he looked at Kakarrot, "You are a good climber, yes?" Kakarrot nodded, and Vegeta continued, "How is your stealth?"
     
     Kakarrot smirked, in an almost cocky manner as he admitted, "Pretty damn good." Vegeta eyed him for only a second after the curse word--was that the first time he had ever heard Kakarrot curse? Vegeta just hoped it was a sign of his Saiyan side coming out further and further.
     
     Vegeta looked at both of the men as he laid out his plan, "Kakarrot we need to kill as many of these as possible before Frieza gives them the signal--do you see that cauldron?" Kakarrot looked past Vegeta, his head back in the canal entrance for a moment, just long enough to look at it, "There is a second cauldron stationed further ahead, up by the front of the boat, do you see it?" Vegeta waited until Kakarrot peaked around the lip of the cave, nodding his answer as he pulled back, looking at Vegeta again. Vegeta frowned, "I need you to climb over to that one--the catwalk for that one is on the other side of this arch, so you need to climb over that first. Once inside you have to hug the wall, but the ladder does not look that far into the catwalks. Just make sure you grab a torch once you're up there. When I give the signal light it and use it to set fire to the pitch inside the cauldron, and pull the lever that will turn the cauldron. We need to do this at the same time, catching the men by surprise--can you do that?"
     
     Kakarrot only smirked (was that a real smirk on his face? Vegeta's confidence in him rose right then and there), Nappa handing him some matches before he was off, climbing the rocky wall outside of the canal. Vegeta held his breath as he watched his cousin climb over and around--but the man was a literal monkey. He climbed around using only his arms, not even a toe of his coming in sight of the mouth of the canal. Vegeta waited until his cousin was ready, standing on the other side, giving him a thumbs up, before he looked back at Nappa.
     
     Nappa gave Vegeta a grim smile, "Good luck, sir." Vegeta said nothing; only taking the proffered matches, knowing full well Nappa knew how he felt about luck.
     
     Vegeta turned as he began to twist his way into the dock opening. It was a twenty-foot walk along a small lip before he would reach the ladder that would lead up to the catwalk. Vegeta's heart hammered loudly as he knew that all it would take would be for one man to look either his way, or Kakarrot's and the game would be up. Not for the first time did he thank his affinity for wearing all black, as it helped him blend into the dark entrance to the canal, his footsteps sure but light as he made his way to the ladder. For the first time in a long time, Vegeta also thanked Kami for his small stature--as he looked over his shoulder, he saw Kakarrot's feet hanging over the lip, one of his feet slipping--as well as Vegeta's heart. But his cousin's strength and agility made up for his large size, and he caught himself with his hands, scurrying along the wall the rest of the way to the ladder.
     
     When Vegeta reached his own ladder, he climbed up with a speed that rivaled Kakarrot's, disappearing up into the darkness of the roof of the canal. He stayed low on the catwalk, crouching, but grabbing one of the unlit torches as he made his way over the creaky wooden beam. When he reached the spot where the cauldron was, he looked across, further into the tunnel, glad to see that it was connected through a small opening to the other cauldron--he and Kakarrot could see each other perfectly. Kakarrot was already waiting, his hand on the pulley that turn the cauldron over, the other hand holding a lit torch away from the highly flammable tar. Vegeta took in his cousin for a moment, noticing how tense his body looked in that moment--the smirk was gone too. Instead he looked grim, yet determined. Gook, Vegeta needed that determination.
     
     Vegeta turned to his own unlit torch, lighting it with sure and steady hands as he took a deep breath, calming himself, his adrenaline fueled (and jittery) body with that breath. He allowed himself a second to look down from where he was, taking in the amount of soldiers on the long boat.
     
     The men no longer looked like British soldiers, not with their heavy armor pulled on, and Vegeta felt a sadistic smile cross his face as he realized how this worked to his advantage. The men who did not catch fire by getting hit by the flaming tar, would sink to the bottom of the river the second the pitch burned their boat. They canal was wide enough that it would be a seven or eight foot jump from either side of the boat to solid land--this would work out perfectly. No one could jump that far in their armor, and no one would be able to swim the relatively short distance with such heavy armor on.  
     
     Vegeta looked back at Kakarrot, and the other man raised an eyebrow. Vegeta only waited a few more seconds, looking back down and giving time to the stragglers who were still pulling on their heavy armor, before he moved his arm, knowing Kakarrot would do the same, lighting the pitch as he pulled the lever.
     
     The tar was already falling as it caught on fire--and drew all of the attention of the men who were directly underneath it. There was not enough time to scream before the boat caught fire in the front and rear of the boat, the men directly underneath the two cauldrons covered in burning tar and flames, as the men around them either caught fire, or tried to jump from the fast burning wood boat.
     
     Those who jumped did not meet a much better fate than those men who had caught fire--they disappeared underneath the water as quickly as they touched it, the movement of the surface the only indication that they had even jumped in. No one resurfaced from where Vegeta stood. The other men stayed on the burning boat, scrambling for a way to safety, finding none as the plank they had used to reach the dock at the front of the cavern burned as quickly as the rest of the wooden longboat. The docks themselves, perhaps damp with the humidity in the air, oddly, did not catch fire--and neither, Vegeta noted with a sigh of relief, did any of the walls of the cavern, or the roof that had them directly underneath Westminster.  
     
     The smell of burning hair and flesh hit Vegeta's nose, the screams of the men renting the air. Vegeta took a look back to the mouth of the cave to see if the flames or the screams were catching anyone's attention. Nappa was standing at the mouth of the cavern, and he only gave Vegeta a thumbs up, indicating that no one up there had noticed--yet.
     
     Still, Vegeta knew that time was of the essence here. He did not want the people of London to know what was happening. The last thing they needed was a panic among the hundreds of thousands of people milling around about town--that would work in Frieza's favor, especially if he tried to escape.
     
     But the screaming did not last long as the burning ship sunk, rather quickly, especially under the weight of the armored men, dragging those who did not burn down to the bottom of the river. Not a single soldier had made it--they were either burned or drowned. He looked across to Kakarrot, who looked rather queasy, but who had met his eye, a grim look on his face. Vegeta motioned him down, pointing to the now unguarded entrance to the cellar of Westminster. He turned back in and waved Nappa in, knowing the man would have to shimmy along the lip like him and Kakarrot had done to get to the front of the where the dock's still stood.
     
     The three men converged outside of the doors that would lead them to the cellar. Rather than rush in, Vegeta caught Kakarrot's shoulder and his attention, forcing himself to ask, "Was that your first time...killing someone?"
     
     Kakarrot did not meet his eye, but Vegeta felt the tensing of his shoulder, saw the crease that ran between Kakarrot's eyes, and he had his answer. Still Kakarrot answered in a gruff tone, "Yes."
     
     Vegeta tried to find words to soothe his cousin's conscience, but there really were none, other than the truth. "They would have massacred His Majesty's service, as I do not think our side was expecting an army to ambush them. You saved countless lives."
     
     Kakarrot's frown deepened, the lines of either side of his mouth deepening, but he only looked forward, determination in his eyes.
     
     Vegeta, well used to reading the emotions of a man who did not want to speak, wasted no more time, his voice gruff as he commanded, "Come on, we have to stop Frieza."
     
     It was not until they moved that Vegeta realized that something was off--if the king was in residence at Westminster, which meant every entrance, EVERY entrance should have been guarded. Even ones as insignificant and rarely used as the cellar doors. But they had yet to see any British officers down here, doing their duty.  
     
     Before Vegeta could voice these concerns, Kakarrot was pulling open the double doors of the cellar--and Vegeta felt his heart stop as they saw four Russian soldiers who had not been on the boat, the dead bodies of the British officers behind them. Vegeta only had a millisecond to take this all in before he realized they had four muskets pointed at the three of them, Nappa the one who grabbed him from behind, screaming, "DIVE!"
     
     Nappa pulled Vegeta from the line of a bullet that whipped past his hair, as Kakarrot jumped to the other side. As the men were using outdated muskets, they could only get off one shot. Vegeta and Nappa wasted no time, pulling their blades from inside of their boots, and coat (respectively), moving at the speed of light as they rushed in, slashing without looking. It only took ten seconds, but four Russian soldiers now lay heaped on top of the British soldiers they had killed. Nappa and Vegeta wasted no time in lifting the weapons from the dead bodies, arming themselves with their swords and knives, but discarding the muskets. They would be useless in close combat.
     
     It was only when they were armed that they realized Kakarrot was not with them, ransacking the bodies--Vegeta turned, frowning as he saw Kakarrot standing at the entrance to the cellar, his eyes large as he took in the bodies. Vegeta sighed, walking over to him, trying to find the right way to phrase this, "Kakarrot, it is only going to get worse the closer we get to Frieza--you will not be able to escape this alive if you do not prepare yourself to fight someone to the death." Vegeta sighed, running a hand through his hair, "If you do not think you are prepared to do this--then it is better if you return to Bulma. I still want you there protecting her."
     
     At the mention of his sister's name, Kakarrot's back straightened. A resolve set in his eyes--as he looked at Vegeta, his voice steely as he said, "I made a promise to Bulma, and I am not turning my back on you or her. You need me here. We will not always be as lucky as we have been with the boat, and you need men you can trust behind you. I am one of them. I told Bulma I would bring you home alive, and I intend to do just that."
     
     There was truth in Kakarrot's words, so Vegeta only nodded, handing him a sword and the belt it had been in. Kakarrot took the sword from the belt, examining it, before turning it over in his hands a few times, easily slashing it, the sword looking comfortable in his hands, before he returned it to the belt, tying that around his waist. Vegeta smirked as he watched the display--for once, he was glad he could admit that his cousin was one well-trained individual. Even if he had never seen battle, he sure knew how to fight. That was definitely an advantage they would need, the closer they got to Frieza.
     
     "Come on, we do not have much time before Frieza realizes his whole army is dead." Vegeta turned to walk through the cellars, moving past the main entrance and to the right, where, with the right push, a whole casket of barrels moved out of the way, revealing the entrance to the tunnels that ran under and throughout Westminster. Vegeta took the first right, stopping at the foot of a long set of stairs that would lead them up to just right of the cabinet room.
     
     He took a breath, and then faced his two companions, "We still have the element of surprise, and I intend on using it to kill Frieza."
     
     With that, he turned back around and began the jog up the steps that would lead him to the man he had vowed to kill all those years ago.

~~&~~

     Piccolo was grateful for the swiftness of the Vegetasei carriage driver, holding on to the side of the speeding carriage as they left the east side of town, crossing one of the only bridges open to carriages, entering the west side of London. They sped as fast as they could, heading for Mayfair and the doctor's office that Vegeta had commanded he go to.
     
     His concern for his father outweighed his need to comprehend what had just happened, what had just occurred with the man he had always been taught to hate. He did not let himself even think for a second about what he had seen, about what he had heard, to allow himself to process what he had been told about his father. But still, he thought about Goku--their first meeting had not gone as Piccolo had ever imagined. He was not the man his father described him to be, gleeful, and malicious--but Piccolo was not going to try and decipher that just yet.
     
     In fact, he only focused on the changing streets, his heart thundering as he thought of how unwell his father looked, of how small and sick he looked in the actual light of day. He did not dare to peek into the carriage, afraid to see his father throwing up, or having another seizure. He only prayed for speed, his stomach turning itself in knots as he prepared himself for the worst. The only comfort was the ring weighing against his leg, the full weight of the Vegetasei privilege carried in the heavy brass ring. Where before he could only afford the opinion of a doctor, this would buy him whatever care his father needed.
     
     The carriage drew up to a wealthy looking establishment on a street full of wealthy looking establishments, but Piccolo barely noticed as jumped from where he was, opening the door. As the door to the carriage opened, Piccolo was hit with the familiar, yet stronger than usual, stench of sick and decay. His father must have purged his body on the carriage ride over. Piccolo did not even notice as he reached in for his father, his small frame easy to grab, though Piccolo felt his stomach turn as he realized how insubstantial his father had grown.
     
     His father surprised him by opening his eyes as he groaned, saying his name in a raspy voice that bespoke his need for water, "Piccolo.... Piccolo...."
     
     Piccolo leaned in close, uncaring of the smell as he looked for some sort of wisdom from his father on what to do, "Yes father, I am here."
     
     Piccolo Sr.'s eyes were glazed with fever, but the swung, unfocused until they caught on Piccolo's own; "It...it is..." he broke off in a grasp of wheezing, his whole body shaking with the force of the racking coughs. Piccolo's heart squeezed as he felt his father's body shake so, but Piccolo Sr. continued on when he stopped, talking with the lowest voice he had ever heard, "It is our time. Our time to earn our revenge."
     
     Piccolo had not been expecting that, his eyes growing wide as he realized what his father was talking about. Piccolo had been waiting months for this moment--but now he could care less. All he cared about was getting his father well. Still, he told him, thinking him confused, "Father--Goku is not here anymore. We left him."
     
     Another racking cough, another long wheeze as his father grabbed his lapels, holding himself up even as a fire burned in his--whether that was from the fever or the passion he had in his hatred of Goku was hard to tell. His words were raspy and low, but Piccolo hung on to every one of them. "Good. It...it is not him we will...murder."
     
     "Father?" Had he just said murder? Piccolo had never killed another person in his life, not even in combat. He was a fighter yes, but their people were peaceful, even with the settlers who took more and more of their land. Sure he had expected Goku to get some sort of retribution--but to murder someone else in their quest for revenge against him?
     
     Piccolo's fathers eyes grew wild again, as he sunk back into himself, "His family is unprotected. Go...(cough cough), go kill his family like he killed ours." Whatever strength Piccolo Sr. had had was gone with that last proclamation, his eyes rolling back into his head as he passed out.
     
     Piccolo felt his father's hand grow lax, his body slackening--snapping Piccolo into action, and away from his shock as his father's plan was laid out before him. He took his father into the doctor, fishing out the ring as he laid his father down on a waiting bed to show the nurse. Her eyes grew large as she recognized the seal, rushing for the doctor, before she hurried him from the room. It was there that Piccolo sat, finally allowing himself to think, think about what had just happened, and what his father expected of him.
     
     He was sitting on a fancy chair, in a fancy office, in a foreign land--all because he thought he owed his father something. He thought he was doing what was right--he thought he was following his uncle's teaching in paying respect to his elder's...but this? To murder innocents because of the own tragedy that had befallen his family? Especially now, in light of what Piccolo had learned what he feared was the truth from his sworn enemy?
     
     Goku had not been trying to harm his father, Piccolo let sink in, realizing that Goku was truly trying to help his father back there by their apartments. That did not fit in with the malicious and cruel man his father had always painted. He had told Piccolo that Goku had laughed in his face when he had asked for some of the money to help his family. He had said that Goku had told the man he had spent all of that money on a large meal, and that he did not deserve a single penny. He said he had mocked him for being poor, telling him if he had wanted to save his family than he should have won the tournament.
     
     But this Goku--the one he had met, the one Vegeta (a man he begrudgingly had to admit he respected) had painted--was not that sort of person.
     
     That raised even worse questions about what had actually gone on after the World's Marital Arts tournament those few years ago. Had Goku truly given his earnings to Piccolo's father to help save his family? And had the man he owed love and respect to really spent that money on booze rather than the medicine he knew his family so desperately needed? There was something so...it struck something in Piccolo. Some chord he wished to ignore, but he found he could not. His father's attitude since he had started to drink, even before his mother and brother's had grown sick, had sunk to new lows. Maybe his need for that drink, for a drink not readily available to him in Quebec, but was so readily available to him in New York had distracted him from his family.
     
     Piccolo fought with everything inside of him, wishing it not to be true--but Piccolo knew it fit in with his father's long disappearance after the tournament. Piccolo had originally attributed it to shame at not winning, at having been denied the money that would buy his family medicine and him a way home--yet Piccolo Sr. had ridden to their village on a horse that was not his own. He had told Piccolo he had won it in an earlier fight of the tournament--but what if it was something he had bought using the money he was supposed to be buying his families medicine with? That thought made Piccolo physically ill, his hands fisting at his side as he considered just what sort of man his father always had been--selfish, greedy, and power hungry--and what sort of man he had become after the tournament--unbearable, intolerable, and a drunk.
     
     Piccolo looked up in horror as he realized how blindly he had followed his father to London; abandoning those he loved to--murder innocent people? That was not who he was.  
     
     Piccolo was pulled from his thoughts, looking up as he heard footsteps rapidly approaching him as the doctor appeared, looking grim. His words were wind to Piccolo though, barely filtering in as he told him, "I'm sorry--your father, he did not make it. He had a--. Surgery--complications--we did everything."
     
     Piccolo only nodded, asking for the body to be prepared for sea travel. The doctor had raised an eyebrow--but said nothing, only nodding his assent. Piccolo considered leaving his father here, in this Kami-forsaken place where he had drunk himself to death--but he was not his father, and he could not be that petty. He still owed the man who had given him to life a burial with the rest of his family. Whether or not their deaths were on his father's hands was no longer his concern--he would be judged by the gods on the other side, and whether or not he would be reincarnated would be up to them. Piccolo then went outside, to the waiting carriage, "Take me to Vegetasei's seat. I need to find a ship that can take me back to the new world, as well as my father's body."
     
     Piccolo found himself on a ship, sailing home within the next six hours, his eyes firmly glued to the horizon, ignoring everything he had left behind in the old world, his father's body safely preserved underneath. It was time for him to go home. It was time to reach out to his uncle, praying with everything in him that he would be allowed his seat back at his side. He had learned his lesson, and from that point on, Piccolo would always put the needs of his tribe before his own--which was what would make him an excellent tribal leader one day, even if he did not yet know it.

~~&~~

Vegeta stopped at the top the staircase, holding his hand up to the halt the two men charging up behind him. His other hand reached out for the secret lever on the wall in front of them that would turn it into a door with a flick of his wrist. Vegeta closed the fist on his hand that was still held up Nappa extinguished the torch, Vegeta giving himself a moment to adjust his eyes to the darkness in front of them before he opened the door. On the other side of this door was a cabinet, built specifically to cover the secret entrance into the quarters of the King's office, filled with coats that Vegeta pushed out of his way.

     This was built as a way to sneak the King in and out in times of dire need (or when the King grew bored of cabinet meetings, it was rumored among his staff), and directly connected to the room where Frieza was holding the King hostage. Vegeta stopped as he reached the inside of the cabinet door, his hand ready to push it open--but there was a shuffling on the other side of the cabinet, and Vegeta froze, the shuffling alerting him to the fact that they were not alone in the room.

     It hit Vegeta like a ton of bricks then, with certain clarity. How stupid of him--this was probably how Frieza had snuck into Westminster without being seen. They must have come on the longboat that had entered the canals, dressed as British soldiers who would have been seen as common for entering through the canals. Now there were men on the other side of this door, probably meant to be messengers to the now-dead soldiers downstairs and the soon-to-be dead ones that were up here.
     
     Fuck.
     
     Vegeta had been hoping to sneak in--if there were a large number of soldiers, they would have to backtrack and find another way to sneak in. But first, he needed to listen, to try and figure out how many men were on the other side of the cabinet door. Vegeta pressed closer to the crack, his eyes swiveling as he took in the room--and he breathed a small sigh of relief. As far as he could see there were only two guards left in here, both of them standing sentry at either doorway. One right by the cabinet Vegeta was behind, and one at the door that led to the cabinet room directly across from the cabinet. Vegeta observed them, something not right as he noticed that they were both staring at the desk in the room. Vegeta could only see the edge of the desk, but he surmised that there was someone sitting in the chair there--the king perhaps? Frieza himself?
     
     Vegeta motioned to Nappa, knowing this was where Nappa's brute strength would come in handy. He used two fingers to motion towards where the two guards stood, and then motioned towards the desk, indicating with hand gestures that someone might be there, but he did not know if they were friend or foe. Years of going on missions together made their silent communication flawless, and Nappa gave a nod of understanding. Vegeta moved back into the tunnel with Kakarrot, watching as Nappa reached into his coat, grabbing two of his throwing knives before he froze, looking through the crack in the cabinet to orient himself.
     
     After a moment, Nappa used his shoulder to push the door of the cabinet open, catching the surprise of both guards as he burst forth with agility that did not match his size. Nappa wasted no time though, swinging in midair, using the momentum to slice the throat of the man directly to the right of the cabinet, his other arm straight out as he threw the knife right into the throat of the man across from them.
     
     Neither men had time to react before they fell to the floor, blood spilling from their throats as they gasped their last breaths--Nappa having made sure to cut their vocal chords so they could not cry for help as they died. Nappa hardly noticed their death gurgles though, as he was already turned to face the person behind the desk, his knife ready to throw--before his arm dropped, his whole face falling as he took in what he saw.
     
     Vegeta did not wait for the signal then, leaving the dark space of the armoire as he looked at what had captured Nappa's attention. Vegeta's eyes grew wide as he saw what had stopped Nappa, unable to stop a low curse from escaping his lips. There, sitting in the chair as if he were taking notes was the body of the king, propped up in his chair--the angle his head hung off of his neck the only indicator that he was not still alive.
     
     Still, Vegeta was thorough if nothing else, so he wasted no time in approaching the body, putting his fingers to the neck, before cursing again as he pulled away as he felt how stiff and cold the body was. He did not have to check for a pulse, this man had been dead for hours. "We are too late. The King is dead."
     
     Nappa frowned, Goku looking perplexed as he entered the room, still whispering as he spoke, "I thought Frieza was holding him hostage."
     
     "We thought he was--His Majesty's Service must have slipped up though, and Frieza had him killed. We might be too late as it is."
     
     The three men then turned to the door connecting them to the cabinet room, wondering what their next move should be. Vegeta knew he needed a plan, a new one, but he needed to know what he had missed. Unfortunately he did not even know where Basil or the other leaders of His Majesty's Service was, so he needed gather some intel first before he formulated his next plan.  
     
     Vegeta moved closer to the door of the cabinet room to listen, to hear what was going on in there, but the murmur of voices was too loud for him to make out any one voice. Though they were all speaking in Russian, and that certainly was not a good sign. But still--it did not sound like there was fighting. Perhaps his fellow countrymen had capitulated to Frieza's demands and there would be no fighting? Or, far more likely, Frieza had already killed off the British soldiers, and was planning his next attack.
     
     Vegeta walked to the only other door in the room, the one that led to the hallway outside of this room, the cabinet room, and the floor of the House of Lords. Vegeta pressed his ear close there as well, relief flooding through him as he recognized British voices, glad to know they were not to late to save everyone's lives. A British officer, a general he recognized, spoke then, loud enough that he could clearly be heard through the wood of the door, obviously speaking to someone in the cabinet room. "We demand to see the King again, to know he has truly agreed with your conditions before we surrender."
     
     A voice answered--a bone chilling voice Vegeta instantly recognized, the fat pink blob of a man who had never left Frieza's side, not even when he had been torturing Vegeta. That voice was enough to stop Vegeta cold, but then the Russian-accented reply caught Vegeta's attention wholly, as Dodoria said, "Bring the King forward. We need to show them that he is alive."
     
     Vegeta, Nappa and Kakarrot all looked at each other then, ready to move back to the cabinet if someone entered this room to grab the body--but there was rustling in the hallway, no one even approaching this room. Vegeta grew even more confused, especially as he heard the British officer's voice again, sounding concerned this time, "Your Highness, are you all right?"
     
     A voice, one that sounded harried, but familiar to the Duke, rang out, "For the love of Kami, please help me. Capitulate to Frieza, do not be a fool. It is too late for our Kingdom, and Frieza has promised to be kind."
     
     Vegeta felt his confusion grow, and he looked behind to make sure that the dead King was in fact still there, before he heard the King's voice plead with the general to surrender. Something clicked, then, and Vegeta turned to his companions, whispering, "They must be using a imposter. They think that the King is actually still alive--they have no clue what Frieza has already done."
     
     He took a steadying breath, a new plan already forming in his mind, closing his eyes for just a moment, before he opened them, fire burning there as he spoke, "That means we still can catch them by surprise. Come, we must warn the British the truth of the situation--and then we attack."
     
     The other two men said nothing, but followed Vegeta back into the cabinet, Vegeta knowing that these two men would follow him to hell and back.

~~&~~
A/N: So that's actually the end of Piccolo's story, and I would love to know what you guys thought of his whole arc. I didn't realize how parallel it ran to the show until nancy103 pointed out--thank you nancy103! That was an awesome comparison you made, and I would never have realized it without you.  

Okay guys, lots of action still coming up, can't wait to see what you think!
The Dark Duke-- Forty
I legit can't wait for what happens next. Now I just need to go write it... (don't hate me!).

How did it all begin? The Dark Duke- Prologue

Last time: <da:thumb id="507514961">
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Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. But if I did own DBZ...Chaotzu would have been explained. What the hell was he? She? Fuck if I know what Chaotzu self identifies as.  

Warnings: Cussing. Some minimal violence.

A/N: Happy new years guys! Big thank you to all of my readers/reviewers old and new. I love you and am always grateful that you guys have stuck around with me for this long. Big thank you to everyone who always leaves me encouragement to write--honestly you guys are the reason this monster of a story is still going!

Kattastropi, you are a gem. Never forget it!

Chapter Thirty-Nine: Loyalties

     Billy had never been allowed inside of an establishment like the one he was currently sitting in--truth be told he was never really allowed inside of anywhere but the orphanage he had been raised in. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind that this bar was not that glorious, or particularly clean, but to him--it could have been the gentleman's club White's he had always heard the men of the dock dreaming of entering. But to Billy--the fact that he was eating at a table where he did not have to fight for scraps with the other street boys, ignoring the stench of so many unwashed bodies shoved into one place--well that made him feel like a king. Billy had been born a street rat, found abandoned by a church (he had never been told what church, not that it mattered), given to the orphanage, and he had been told constantly by the adults around him that the highest he would ever reach would be...well, street urchin. The very subtle difference between street rat and street urchin, of course, being that of working at the docks.

But if someone had woken Billy up today and told him that today he would have enough pounds in his pockets to last him a lifetime, he would never have believed them. Not in a million years! But sure enough, all he did was answer some questions for Mr. Wicket--and here he was, experiencing for the first time in his very young (yet still rough)...eating his third offering of a meal that he did not have to share with anyone else. Not any of the other orphans, not the other street urchins, no one but himself.

To Billy, this was heaven.

The same could not be said for his table companion, Mr. Wicket, who was clutching the table, watching every little bite of food Billy was eating as if willing it to disappear faster. The same Mr. Wicket who had delivered him to that Duke fellow who had given him all of the money he was currently treasuring. The same Mr. Wicket who had tried to bodily carry Billy out of the pub they were in--and the same Mr. Wicket who had dropped him the second Billy said he would run after that regal who had given Billy his small fortune. Billy was quickly discovering that that regal was a powerful tool he could (and would) use against Mr. Wicket, especially if he thought that Mr. Wicket was not going to provide the life and house the regal had made him promise he would have.

Before he got ahead of himself, though, Billy decided to take pleasure in the hard fought battle to eat inside of the establishment Mr. Wicket clearly never wanted to set foot inside of again, and eat his third plate of food as slowly as he had eaten his other two, enjoying and savoring every bite of food that passed his lips. It had been a long number of days since he had eaten an actual hot meal, and even longer that the meal was one he earned, and had not stolen. Nothing, especially not Mr. Wicket's palpable fear, was going to ruin that for him.

"Oy Wicket! You okay? You need anything else?"

     Mr. Wicket, who was anything but okay, was also anything but talkative at the moment, so Billy turned around, a wide smile on his face, " 'E's allrigh' guv'nor. 'E did ask for some desser' 'e did." The bartender eyed Billy speculatively (as he had been doing since Billy had first walked in)--but then Billy had pulled out a couple of papers from his pocket, being careful to not throw the cash all over the place. The bartender's expression had not changed at the sight of the money, but he had nodded his acquiescence before he had headed to the back to grab Billy some dessert. Real proper dessert, Billy hoped. Not those horribly hard biscuits the orphans were given every Christmas that had once cracked his mate Reggie's teeth.
     
     Billy turned back to his table companion, a smile on his face--though it was slightly tempered as he saw that in the second he had turned around to order more food, Wicket's eyes had grown larger, his fists going whiter from where they were clutching the table. Mr. Wicket sure was nervous about something, wasn't he?  

Whatever concern Billy had was gone the second the bartender placed pudding in front of him. Real proper pudding--which was the most delicious thing that Billy had ever had the pleasure of tasting. Each bite of the delectably sweet and fruity concoction went down smoother than the rest, each bite a moment of pure bliss on his tongue. Billy could have kept eating it forever--but his stomach was not going to let him. Maybe he should have saved more room for dessert, because after he ran the spoon around the rim of the glass, licking the last remnants off of it, Billy felt the beginnings of a bellyache. But not one that he usually felt--this was not the gnawing pit of hunger he was used too, but rather a stomach protesting at being shoved full of so much food. Billy smiled at the simple pleasure, glad to know--at least once in his life--what a fully belly felt like.

With that happy thought, Billy finally looked up at the man whose knuckles had gone so white from holding the table the bone might as well have been peeking through, and kindly informed him, " Aye'm full."

Mr. Wicket had not only let go of the table (finally), breathing a sigh of relief, but Billy saw him cross himself as he stood, finally ready to turn and leave. But as he had stood, Billy at his heels, ready for a warm bed, or just a warm couch, or just a warm place to lie down...the front door to the pub had dinged open.

     The man who entered, well the first thing Billy noticed about him was that he was tall--well that and his pointy hair that spiked everywhere. The second thing he noticed (besides that ridiculous hair), was the custom cut of his clothes, identifying this man as rich. It took Billy less than half a glance to recognize this man as a gentleman, and it took him twice as long to convince himself not to lift this man's coin purse. Billy reminded himself that he did not have to anymore. Especially not from big scary men who could squash him under his boots. Though as he looked at this man's face, he noticed that it looked more as if this man had a constant smile on his face than anything else.

Billy was pulled from his musings, though, as Wicket, who was also staring at the man, muttered to himself, "You look familiar...."

The tall gentleman, who had been scanning the bar, looked over as he heard Mr. Wicket speak, striding over to them as he nodded his head. "Good afternoon gentlemen."

     Billy's mouth dropped open as he heard the man's unusual accent, "You're a yank!"
     
     The tall man had smiled down at them, both of them ignoring Wicket as he stared at the man as if he held all of the answers to life's questions, "Through and through, son." He had reached out to ruffle Billy's head at that, and Billy's admiration for this man rose, as he had not even flinched at how dirty Billy was, nor had he wiped his hand off after touching Billy. In fact the man had gotten down on his haunches, making eye contact with Billy as he asked in a no-nonsense tone, "Maybe you can help me? I'm looking for a short, dark man--with hair spikier than mine."

Billy smiled instantly, nodding. Of course he would remember the man who had given him all the money in his pockets. "Yup! 'E was short, but better dressed than you--some sort of regal type. Wha' was 'e? A Duke of some sor', I reckon."

The tall man's smile grew, "That's the man! The Duke of Vegetasei." At that, both of them turned up as Wicket let out a gasp, and crossed himself again, but both turned back, ignoring him when no further sounds (or explanations for the earlier sounds) were forthcoming. The tall man only stayed at eye level with Billy as he explained, "It's really important to me that I find him, I've been sent here by someone who loves him very much. Could you possibly tell me where he is?"

Before Billy could answer, Wicket let out a strangled sound that drew both of their eyes. It took Billy a second to realize that Wicket had been trying to speak, but that all that had come out was some squeaks and grunts. The tall man cocked his head, and Wicket made eye contact with him; finally, as he cleared his throat and tried again. "Why would you want to possibly know that?"

The tall man stayed hunched down, but his tone changed instantaneously as he spoke to Wicket, "I'm his cousin."

With that, the quite hearty and hale Bob Wicket gave another garbled reply of squeaks and gasps, before promptly falling to the ground in a dead faint.

Billy blinked at the man who was supposed to be taking care of him, before shrugging, ignoring him as he turned back to the tall man. "I can tell you exactly where he is." Billy waited a second before holding his hand out to the tall man, motioning with his head, winking as he said, "For a price that is."

Hey, he might not be a street urchin much longer, but that did not make him stupid enough to turn away begging money off of some regals.

     Even nice ones.

     ~~&~~
     
     Goku found himself in sight of the apartment building he had been sent to by the boy, praying with a deep sigh that he had found the right blue apartment building by the docks on Canal street that had a butcher shop underneath it. To be fair, there were not a lot of blue buildings in this part of town, but Goku was not known for his navigation skills. He might have gone to East Canal street instead of West Canal street, he might have mixed up what color the building he was looking for was--hell he might have accidentally crossed the Thames and not even have realized it.  
     
     It would not be the first time he was supposed to be looking on one side of a river, and ended up on another.
     
     He had been to New Jersey more times than he would like to admit because of--Goku shook himself. Focus Goku! Time was of the essence here; Bulma had made that very clear. Hell, Goku knew it himself. There were lives at stake here, not just those of his family, but of the king, and possibly all of England if even a hint of what Bulma had told him about this Frieza character was true. And here he was wasting time, reminiscing about the times he had been lost in America?! Sheesh, his sister had not been lying when she had told him he needed to work on his concentration skills outside of the ring.
     
     Goku approached the building, smiling as he saw that there was in fact a butcher's shop on the bottom floor. That was promising, very promising. Goku's strides lengthened, his past quickening as he got closer to the building, feeling glad that he was out and about doing something, rather than acting as a bodyguard to Bulma. Though he felt guilty for leaving his sister, and disobeying Vegeta's direct orders to watch Bulma--but Goku was a man of action, and he was glad that Bulma had sent him out here to find Vegeta. He was not meant to be a bodyguard or a prison warden (as Bulma had called it)--he was glad he could be out in the field helping out, even if it just meant finding Vegeta, informing him of the note Bulma had given him to show him, and then promptly being beaten to death by his cousin for disobeying him.
     
     In his defense though, Goku had made sure Bulma was safe before he had left. Goku was not as stupid as people believed--and he loved his sister more than almost anyone else on this planet. He would not have left Bulma if he had not felt her well protected with the posted guards outside of the Ducal office, hidden in the secret office. Plus, he had gifted his sister with a pistol he had found in Vegeta's larger office before he had left, knowing she could shoot. Though, being Bulma, she had revealed to him two she had hidden under her skirts, a smirk on her face as she shook her head at his underestimation of her.
     
     He should have known. Bulma could protect herself, pregnant or no--but that did not mean he was not still worried about his big sister. He would always be worried about her--that was his job as her younger brother. Especially a younger brother who had an older sister who could be as reckless as his was.
     
     In all actuality, Goku was more worried about failing Bulma than Vegeta finding out that Goku had left Bulma. Vegeta might be his blood cousin, but Bulma was his true family, and it would literally kill him to know he had failed her in not finding her husband. Especially after how heartbroken Bulma had looked when she had told Goku that Vegeta had gone to die. No matter how angry she had looked on the outside, Goku knew that anger was a product of her fear. He knew his sister well enough to know that she would not show weakness on the outside--but that did not mean she did not need his help. So it was time to see if his faulty directional sense had failed him or not and see if this was the building Vegeta had supposedly rushed off to.

     Goku ignored the shop entrance right in front of him, and went for the second door to the right of the storefront, the one that led to a set of stairs, finding himself on a landing. Though dimly lit, he frowned as he saw four doors around him, wondering which room Vegeta was supposedly in--and why the hell he was in one of them. What exactly was he doing here? Looking for somebody that kid at the bar, Billy, had informed him--though who the hell Vegeta could be looking for was beyond Goku.
     
     Well, only one way to find out.
     
     Goku approached the first two doors, knocking on them and getting nothing. He had remained absolute still and quiet by the time, trying to see if he could hear anyone moving inside of either of them, but hearing nothing, he moved on to the third. As he approached the third closed door, his senses picked up on the unmistakable odor of alcohol, sweat, and sick. It was a smell he recognized from fighting in the streets of Manhattan (even the best pugilism club's could not outlaw drink, or the drunks attracted to the bloodthirsty sport of pugilism). It was also a smell he detested, his nose wrinkling as he wondered if anyone was inside the room or not. He knew that nothing good ever came of men smelling like alcohol and sick.  
     
     Goku's brow furrowed, knowing whoever was in this room was unwell, his general need to help everyone making him forget his mission momentarily, only concerned with helping the person inside. He needed to make sure that he could get them help--and then he would worry about finding Vegeta.
     
     Goku knocked softly on the third door, "Hello?"

     There was no answer from inside, and Goku frowned, wondering if he was already too late. If whoever had been sick in this room was either, well, best case scenario, taken to a doctor, or worst case scenario--dead--well then there was not much Goku could do. But if whomever it was in there was still in there and alive--then it was Goku's duty to help them. Goku knocked again, louder this time, "Hello? Is anyone in there?"

     There was a long silence, and Goku's heart started to thump as he considered breaking the door down. "Is everyone okay? Do you need my help?"

     When a low groan answered him through the door this time, Goku's debate about whether or not to enter the room was forgotten, and he jiggled the handle--needing to get inside. He would break the door down if he needed to. An unnecessary heroic he found, when he turned the handle and the door, surprisingly, popped open. Goku only blinked at it in confusion for a second before rushing into the room, freezing as his nose and eyes began to water when his olfactory senses hit wall of sick, sweat, and alcohol that assaulted them. Goku let out a cough, before he tried again, "Hello?"

     As his eyes adjusted, he stepped further into the room, his feet kicking an empty bottle, which rolled from him as he stared down at it. It did not roll far before it hit another empty one, and Goku's heart dropped as he saw the large number of empty bottles strewn about the floor. Goku's mouth set in determination as he looked back up, scanning the room as his eyes further adjusted, looking for movement, a person, anything that would tell him who made the moan. There was two beds, both messy, but empty, and Goku wondered if he had imagined the groan, trying a third time, "Hello?"

     This time, the groan came from the direction of the floorboards by the furthest bed, and Goku moved there in three long strides, uncaring of the empty bottles he kicked and crushed with his feet. His heart thundered as he rushed over to what he had initially thought were some discarded rags or sheets, before he realized he was standing above a person who was crumpled to the floor in a heap, their arms and legs in positions no human body should be able to reach. Goku's mouth went dry and he tried to piece what went on here--had someone come in here and robbed this man?

     Goku gently leant over the prostrate form, his voice hushed, "What happened here? Are you okay?"

     Another low groan wet this time as it turned into a coughing fit that ended with the man's lips covered in blood. The blood drew all of Goku's concern, and his instincts took over as he leant down, picking the figure up, knowing he needed to get help--and he needed to get it fast. As Goku picked him up, he realized the man was insubstantial, weighing as much as Bulma or Chi-Chi. That was never a good sign, especially as the frame on the man was long--he was a tall man, and he should not weigh as much as women who were at least a foot shorter than him.
     
     As he picked the man up, his only goal to get him to a doctor, another loud groan came from the man, the smell of booze mixed with blood wafting from his open mouth so pungently, Goku had to breathe through his mouth not to smell it. There was another wracking cough, more blood, and Goku turned the man in his arms so he was coughing onto Goku's jacket. The last thing he needed was the man to choke on his own blood or bile, or whatever it was. What the man needed was medical attention, and Goku was going to make sure that he got some before it was too late. Vegeta would have to wait--this man needed help.

     Goku rushed from the dark room, knowing that the butcher downstairs would be able to lead him to a doctor or a hospital--and using the Vegetasei name, Goku knew he would be able to get service no matter where he went. He might not always like the way his life had turned out, but if it meant his name could help him save someone just by using his name, than far be it from Goku to ignore that benefit. Goku took the stairs three at a time, and only as he burst into the light, did he allow himself to look at the man in his arms.

     His mouth dropped open as he instantly recognized the man, stopping right outside the doorstep as he took in the deathly looking figure. Though he was now more a shell of the man that Goku knew rather than the man himself, he was still instantly recognizable. He might not have seen him since he defeated him at the World's Martial Arts competition a few years ago, but he knew him at once.
     
     "Piccolo?"

     Piccolo, the Indian he had defeated for the title, only groaned again, and Goku's heart sank as he took in the wan man before him, remembering the healthy and hearty warrior he had been the last time Goku had seen him. "Oh Piccolo...what happened to you?"

     ~~&~~
     
     Piccolo was still being held in the oaf's arms, Vegeta's fists raining into his stomach, but he was a million miles away. He refused to speak, and used his years of training to separate his mind from his body. He thought of his mother and brother's, now passed, and he thought of the man his father used to be. The great warrior with a twinkle in his eyes who had left the village once, saying he would win the World's Martial Arts competition and buy his family the medicine they so desperately needed. Piccolo had believed no one could stop him, especially from saving his family--but it was not too be. A young upstart warrior, the reigning champion it seemed, was to defeat him, and to start both Piccolo and his father on the path they were now on.  
     
      He also thought of Kami, with a great sadness and shame, remembering all of his teachings, even as his body was pushed to the limit with the physical blows he was being dealt. Kami who had always been so patient with him--and Piccolo had thrown that in his face by leaving and choosing his father over the tribe. Still, Piccolo did not focus on that, but rather all of the training the pair had shared, especially that of being able to separate body and mind. He knew that he was going to be in physical pain if he was ever let go, but in that moment, he let himself float further into his Zen like trance, his eyes slightly over Vegeta's shoulders as he focused on the street outside the alley.
     
     He did not watch the street traffic, hoping for someone to come and save him, or hell, even to notice him, but to give his mind something to focus on. Keeping his eyes away from what was happening was key to tricking his body into absorbing the pain without letting it over power him. Piccolo felt the punches as a human felt a fly landing on them, though even he had to admit his Zen state was only getting him so far. Vegeta was not pulling his punches, but there was nothing Piccolo could do in this moment to stop him. Piccolo had known he was not going to answer any of the Duke's questions on principal, but when he heard the questions; Piccolo realized that Vegeta was currently beating him for something that had nothing to do with Piccolo.
     
     In fact, it seemed as if the only thing Vegeta actually knew about Piccolo was that his codename his father used for him in England was green--but the rest was a bunch of gibberish about him being French and a spy for Russia. Really, Piccolo was beyond lost. But he was not going to correct Vegeta, he would rather him be under the misconception that Piccolo was some sort of spy, then who he really was, and why he was actually here.
     
     Piccolo's mind was a blank slate, as he repeated his Zen mantra he had been taught since he had begun training under Kami, wondering if he would black out anytime soon. The thought of fighting back did not even cross his mind. There was nothing he could do, not when the Duke's strength matched his own, and he was outnumbered two to one--Piccolo briefly wondered if he was going to die today. If so, he found himself growing sad that this was where and how he was going to die--beaten to death in the middle of a disgusting and dirty city, for something he know he did not do.  He wondered how his father would carry on without him. Would he continue the mission? Or would he drink himself to an early death?
     
     Something cosmic zipped through Piccolo as he was lost in his thoughts, especially as he thought about what would happen to his father, drawing his attention not to the physical pain that was happening to him, but to some sort of ruckus on the street. Piccolo tried to fight it, but the commotion drew his attention, bringing him back to his current self, forcing himself into the now and present, right as one of Vegeta's fists landed on his solar plexus.
     
     Piccolo coughed, or his body did in gut reaction as the breath left his body, as his eyes focused on the familiar, and sickly, figure of his father's body--in Goku's arms.
     
     Piccolo did not hear the loud scream he let out, or feel himself wrench out of the giant's grasp, but before he knew it he was running down the alley, towards his father. It was as if every moment of peace he had found while zoning out had left him, and left him with a white-hot anger that streaked through him as he saw his father in the enemy's arm. It only grew as Goku dropped Piccolo Sr. from his arms, throwing him towards the ground, the prostrate figure of his father hitting it violently, the frail body shaking and convulsing as Piccolo approached the pair. Goku knelt down immediately, and Piccolo burst forward with a force he did not know he could possess.
     
     "You!"
     
     Goku's head popped up from staring at the man at his feet, confusion and not an iota of recognition (though why would, he had never met Piccolo before) as he stared at the approaching man. Piccolo did not care though, ignoring the physical pain of his body as he swung his fist as hard as he possibly could, connecting with Goku's jaw, catching the large oaf by surprise and knocking him to the ground in one swift motion. Goku only blinked from where he landed on the ground, as he rubbed his jaw, surprise on his face as he looked at Piccolo.
     
     Piccolo dropped to the ground, ignoring the felled buffoon, kneeling by his father's side to make sure he was okay. "Father, what has he done with you?" Piccolo took in the shaking, saw the still wet bile on his lips, and his heart sunk even further when he realized that his father was having another of his seizures. This was not the first seizure he had seen his father have, but it did not register to Piccolo as a natural occurrence, instead causing him to stare at Goku as he rose up, snarling, "What did you do to him?"
     
     Before Goku could respond, Piccolo leapt at the man, knocking him back into the street as his hands found their way around his neck. Goku, whose confusion turned to concentration, grabbed Piccolo's hands as they reached for his neck, pulling them apart as he used his knees to kick into Piccolo's stomach--hard. Piccolo was knocked over Goku's head and on his back, landing with another loud oomph. He took but a second to catch his breath before he jumped back into standing position, noticing that Goku was doing the same. Both crouched into fighting stance, but before Goku could move, Piccolo's anger coursed through him again and he screamed as he jumped for the man's throat with the intention to kill--but he never reached his destination. Instead two very strong arms grabbed him from behind, and pulled Piccolo away from his target and off of the street.
     
     Piccolo snarled, twisting in Nappa's arms as he yelled like a wild animal, catching the attention of every person on the street as he screamed, "What did you do to HIM?!"  

     Goku dropped from the fighting stance, putting his hands up now that he knew he was safe--at least for the moment. "Nothing! I swear to Kami." Goku looked down at Piccolo Sr. as he let out another moan, dropping to his knees to grab the man back up, holding him as gently as if he was a baby, before turning back to Piccolo, "I found him passed out in his room like this."

     Piccolo yelled again, trying to break free especially as his father was still shaking, though finding the giant holding him completely unmoving, even as Piccolo threw his weight against his arms. "PUT HIM DOWN!"
     
     Goku shocked both Piccolo and Nappa, by finally yelling back, anger evident in his voice, "NO! HE NEEDS HELP! I NEED TO GET HIM HELP!"
     
     His words knocked something in Piccolo, who felt the anger in him begin to be replaced by bewilderment. What had he just said? Why would he ever want to help Piccolo's father--Goku hated the man. Goku, the same Goku who had once laughed at him when he had asked for help--the same Goku that had openly mocked his father! He was not the type to get help for those he deemed beneath him! His own father had told Piccolo so!
     
      Piccolo finally stopped struggling in Nappa's arms, looking at the man he had been hunting for what felt like years (had it only been months?) as he let out a confused, "What?"
     
     Goku frowned, looking down at the man in his arms, his earnest tone confusing Piccolo further. "I knew this man once, long ago. He was a strong fighter, a good man. I can't just leave him on the street--I need to take him to a doctor. I owe him that much."
     
     Piccolo's image of this man, the one Piccolo Sr. had always presented, was completely at odds with the concerned younger man in front of him, who was watching Piccolo Sr. with apprehension on his face. How could this be? His father--he would not lie to him about what kind of man this person was, would he? Piccolo's ears perked up as Goku continued, but softly and introspectively, as if to himself. "The last time I saw him--he was almost disqualified from the quarterfinals because he showed up drunk. Yet he still managed to win and almost beat me in the finals...." Goku's head reared back up, "I don't know who you are, but I was trying to pick this man back up when you attacked me. I don't know what you think I did to you, but we can settle it later. I must get this man help."
     
     Piccolo frowned at him, processing this information, trying to rectify this man with the one his father had always presented to him as buffoonish and brutish--but he could not. Before he could speak though, Vegeta (who Piccolo did not realize was standing right next to him) spoke over him, his voice shocked, "Goku, you know this man?"
     
     Goku nodded solemnly, not taking his eyes off of Piccolo Sr. as he held him closer to his body. Piccolo was glad to note that the seizure had finally finished, but he could not tear himself away from listening to the man he had been taught to hate. "I beat him for the title of World Champion in the last World's Martial Arts competition--but he said his wife and sons were sick, so I gave him my winnings to buy them medicine. He was such a good, strong fighter--I hate to see him like this. What could do this to a man?"
     
     Vegeta's answer was droll, "If I had to guess, about three or four bottles of gin a day."
     
     Piccolo did not answer Vegeta, unhearing of his snarky reply, instead focusing in on Goku. There was too much information to process, but he definitely knew that Goku could not be telling the truth about giving his father his winnings--his mother and brother's deaths were testament to that. "Liar!"
     
     Piccolo did not move from the tight circle of Nappa's arms, though he struggled to be free, frowning as he parroted back to these men what his father had told him when he had returned from the World's Martial Arts championship weeks late, and empty handed. "He told me you refused to give him your winnings and taunted him by throwing the money away on food!"
     
     Goku's mouth dropped open, shaking his head, "Why would I need that money? I hate money! I don't even need it--my family has enough money to buy me all the food I could ever want!"
     
     Too many years of his father's stories, too many years of built up hatred burst through Piccolo in that moment as he only repeated, "LIAR!"
     
     Goku turned to the man, his mouth open in disbelief, before he shook his head, "I do not have time for this--I must take him to a doctor, and now."
     
     "DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE!" Piccolo struggled in Nappa's arms, and Goku turned back to face him, anger evident in every fiber of his being as he looked to reply--but Vegeta did not let him.
     
     Instead he stepped between the two men, staring at Piccolo as he told him, "If I may--this man is not who your father painted him out to be. It might seem hard to believe, but I bet Goku did not enter that tournament for any sort of money." Vegeta looked over his shoulder for confirmation, "Did you Goku?"
     
     Goku shook his head, honesty lacing his voice as he admitted, "I just like to fight."
     
     Piccolo struggled again, but said nothing, staring at the other man, before Goku finally put two and two together, "Wait--are you one of his sons?"
     
     Piccolo only nodded, and there was a silence as the two men sized each other up.
     
     It was Vegeta who spoke next, his voice catching both of their attention's as a note of frustration and understanding that had not been there before lanced through his question, "Piccolo--are you not someone called Green?"
     
     Piccolo looked at him, giving a slight nod, before Vegeta continued motioning towards his father, "And is this a man you call father?"
     
     "He is my father."
     
     Vegeta sighed, rubbing the space between his eyes, as he let out a frustrated breath before continuing. "I meant.... you know what, forget it. Just answer this--did you or did you not sneak into Goku's introduction ball at my Mayfair estate, before meeting your father out in the gardens where you two had a short conversation where he referred to you as Green before leaving in opposite directions?"
     
     Piccolo blinked, taken aback by how spot on Vegeta was, before he gave a slight nod, "That was me."
     
     Vegeta let out a low and loud frustrated note, an oath, a curse, before he opened his eyes again, looking Piccolo dead in the eyes as fire sparked in the Duke's. "You are not Zhelonie, are you?"
     
     Piccolo gave him a simple shake of his head, before Vegeta frowned, "Nappa, let the man go, he is not who we are looking for." Vegeta turned towards Goku, "Give the man back his father." The authoritative note in Vegeta's voice brooked absolutely no argument, and Piccolo was let go, and he rushed to Goku, snatching his father away, the pair of men still glaring at each other.
     
     Vegeta was not yet done though as he looked at Piccolo, "Look, take the Vegetasei carriage, and go to the doctor who is on High street, and give him this ring," Vegeta nodded to Nappa to take his ring off, who handed it to Piccolo, "Tell him I sent you, and he will give you the best care in the world. When you are done there, go to my estate in Mayfair and ask for Jeffries. Show him the ring and he will give you two a place to stay. Or if you desire, he will give you two tickets on a ship to wherever the hell you desire to go." Vegeta's eyes flashed as he snarled, that old anger surfacing as he sarcastically added, "Is there anything else I can get you? Or do you have to now beat my cousin to death in my presence? Because if you could hold off for a few hours, I would greatly appreciate that."
     
     Piccolo considered this briefly, wondering what was more important--his father's grudge, or his father's health, before he took the proffered ring in his palm, following Vegeta's lead to the all black carriage with the Vegetasei seal. As Piccolo laid his father in the back, he turned back to Vegetasei, and looked past him to Goku, "This does not mean I will not still come for Goku."
     
     Vegeta shrugged his shoulders, before he turned his head, considering for a second before he spoke, his voice low enough for only Piccolo to hear, "You are always welcome to avenge any grudges you hold, but be sure you know the truth before you commit yourself to evening the score on something that might not have ever happened. I cannot speak to what happened between your father and Goku, but my cousin is not malicious or greedy--the man was willing to turn down an offered Viscouncy because it meant leaving his family behind." Vegeta stopped for a second, his eyes locked with Piccolo's as he said, "You are not your father, and you should not have to answer for his sins."
     
     The weight behind the words was what caught Piccolo's attention, as he took stock of the other man, noticing something shift behind the Duke's dark eyes. Piccolo was not entirely sure what it was, but he did know that in that moment--in that exact moment, he felt a bond with the man he had never felt before, even when they were fighting. There was an understanding there, but then the Duke blinked, turning away, and it was gone. Piccolo only took a second to let the words sink, through his fog of anger, and need for revenge (as well a the physical pain that was starting to sink in), before he turned to the footman driving the carriage, and told him where to go.

     ~~&~~
     
     Vegeta did not even wait to hear the carriage roll away before he turned back to his cousin, making sure his face gave absolutely nothing away as he calmly said, "Follow me."
     
     Vegeta walked past Kakarrot with an arrogance and calmness he did not feel, not even turning back to make sure Goku was behind him as he moved. Vegeta moved down the same alleyway he had just been fruitlessly beating up Piccolo in, moving further down, making sure that he was a very appropriate distant away from the street before he stopped. He waited with his back to the main street for a moment, hearing the approaching footsteps of Kakarrot, and the heavier ones of Nappa, though those stopped further back, probably standing at the mouth of the alley as a sentry.
     
     Vegeta waited until he heard Kakarrot's footsteps stop, before he finally turned around, making sure all of his frustration (at finding he followed the wrong lead, at knowing that his cousin had disobeyed his strict orders, at not knowing who Zhelonie was, at not still being in bed with his wife) was evident in his voice as he calmly said, "Kakarrot, you must know better than most that I am not one to lose my temper."
     
     Kakarrot had that face on, that one that made him look most like his father, his eyes glinting like steel as he said nothing, instead only calmly nodding. Vegeta had to admit that he was impressed with his cousin for not speaking, for not trying to defend himself, the two of them in a silent stalemate as Vegeta looked him over.
     
     Vegeta took a deep breath before he decided to continue, "Then you should know right now that I am fighting with all of my might to stop from beating you dead in this alleyway for disobeying a strict order of mine." Vegeta took a step closer to his taller cousin, his eyes glued to Kakarrot's as his voice dropped even lower, "Can you give me one possible reason you would have for leaving Bulma's side when I explicitly asked you to protect her? I did not think you were that careless with Bulma's life."  
     
     The slight against Kakarrot's regard for Bulma's life was ignored, as Kakarrot took no notice of his cousin's attempt to rile him up. "Vegeta, Bulma sent me to you with this note. She told me that it was the most important note you had ever received from your gardener, and that it had just missed you. She told me you would never forgive her if you did not receive this note."
     
     Vegeta's kept his face blank as his mind whirled away, wondering what could possibly be in this note, but he did not ask for it right away as he only said, "You left Bulma unprotected?"
     
     Kakarrot shook his head, still not cracking from the Bardock face. "Never. She is in the secret office, with two armed guards keeping watch on the outside door. I love my sister and would never leave her in a dangerous situation."
     
     Vegeta did not feel the slightest bit appeased by this, but his concern for Bulma's safety waned the slightest bit. Enough for him to be concerned about the note, and to wonder why on Earth Bulma would send her brother out here to look for him, especially with what she knew was a confidential note. "Do you have the letter from my gardener?"
     
     Kakarrot nodded, but hesitated in handing it over. Apparently he had something to say. "Vegeta, I am here as your wife's brother first, and as your cousin second. So you must understand where my loyalties lie, especially when I have a sister who asks for me to bring her husband back to her, alive."
     
     Vegeta snarled at that, but Kakarrot finally handed him the letter, and Vegeta snatched it out of his hand, his eyes flashing over the note so quickly he had to read it slowly, again, to fully comprehend what he was seeing. Vegeta's mind began to whirl again, his anger at his cousin falling to the wayside as he processed what he was reading. The king was being held ransom? But how--how had Frieza's gotten close enough to the King to hold him hostage? And holding him hostage--that was not Frieza's style. But now was not the time for questions--it was the time for action. It was his chance, what he had been waiting for for years. His chance to have his revenge against Frieza.
     
     Vegeta took a calming breath as that thought flitted across his mind, before looking back up to his cousin, making sure his face and his voice gave nothing away.
     
     Vegeta turned back to Kakarrot, "Bulma read this?"
     
     Kakarrot nodded.
     
     Vegeta hesitated a moment before he asked, "Did she explain it?"
     
     Kakarrot did not falter as he nodded again.
     
     Vegeta cursed something fierce in his mind, but he only nodded, "Then there is nothing that I can do to make you leave my side today, is there?"
     
     Kakarrot shook his head for the first time, "I am with you until I can bring you back to Bulma like she asked."
     
     Vegeta smirked inwardly as he realized that was never going to happen, but knowing that his cousin was strong--and not a bad ally to have around when facing the head of the Russian army. Vegeta finally started to walk, past his cousin, striding with purpose, "Then hurry Kakarrot, we do not have much time, and I want to make sure there is enough time left in the day for me to kill you for disobeying me later."

~~&~~
A/N: Oh snap--shit is going down in the next chapter! Thanks for reading guys, and I'll see you next time xx
The Dark Duke- Thirty-Nine
I love Piccolo. I wish I could write more fanfiction about him, but it seems if there isn't any romance I'm the worst at writing the story. Oh well, maybe once I've matured...

The beginning:The Dark Duke- Prologue

Last time: okieday17.deviantart.com/#/art…

Take me to the next chapter! <da:thumb id="510650967">
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Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. But if I did own DBZ...more Tien!

Warnings: Cussing. Foul mouthed sailor that I am.

A/N: I'm not dead yet! Not that life hasn't tried throwing some crap my way--I will always come back to finish this story up. Slowly but surely guys. Thank you to anyone who has read from the beginning, or found this story today. Seriously--I love you all. Your reviews and likes mean the world to me. Also, this chapter is partially unbetaed, so take it easy on the grammatical errors. Those are all me.  

Lilpumpkingirl, thank you for making this chapter easier to swallow, I love you and your advice.

Finally, last time I forgot to give a shout out to theanyanka. I can't believe I forgot you and your support. Hope you enjoy the chapter!

Chapter Thirty-Eight: From Silent Bear to Hell Hath No Fury

     He was strong. Always had been. Since the day he had been born with the name Pi'colo, meaning silent bear among his Abenaki people, the tribal family had praised his parents for breeding such a stout and hearty, yet stoic, baby. The praise only grew to ravenous awe the day he had had his first tussle. It was no small deed thrashing three kids four years older than he was. The tribe praised him for using only his knuckles, for walking away with a bloody lip, while the three older boys had had to drink sleeping potion for three days straight so they could not feel their injuries.
     
     His strength went beyond his ability to fight though--when Piccolo had heard about the three boys needing the sleeping potion he had gone into the forest himself to bring the boys' families the essential herbs for the potent medicine. He had bowed his head as he had presented them, giving his apologies in the old tongue of his tribe, eschewing the popular (and necessary to trade) French to show how truly sorry he was. He had told the families it would be his honor to sit with all three boys until they felt better, tending to their wounds, and caring for them. If there was one thing Piccolo had understood from a very young age it was that while his tribe was built upon individual strong warriors like his father, the true strength of his people came from their community and how much they all cared for one another.
     
     Piccolo's strength of character had been greeted with surprise from the tribe. It was expected for Piccolo to be physically strong. He had been born of superior stock, from the seed of the strongest warrior in a tribe of renowned warriors.  The oldest son, he had been raised to fight since he could make a fist. But the week Piccolo had sat with those injured boys, fetching them food and water, Piccolo had shown the whole tribe that his strength was not something he was going to use to be a tyrant--he was going to use it for the good of his people. He would not only fight, but fight for what was right. To do what was best for his people.
     
     That was the week that Piccolo's uncle, the elderly tribe chief Kami, had picked him to be his personal protŽgŽ. Piccolo, through both blood and his known moral character and physical prowess, had been groomed to be the next tribe chief. So Piccolo had trained with the best, had meditated with the leaders, and had sat in on the many meetings Kami sat through. He sat through grievances from other tribe members hearing how his uncle settled small disputes such as what family could grow crops where, when the harvest festival should be held, what deities should be worshipped that week, to larger meetings between all of the tribes on how to proceed with those from Europe--every meeting a chief might have to go through, Piccolo was there. He learned what it meant to be a true leader, to give personal sacrifice, and to live an austere life-style, like his uncle, so that the tribe could prosper. He learned it was important for a man to be skilled and courageous in battle, but wise and fair while listening to others.
     
     When he was still a child, Kami would ask for Piccolo's opinion's on disputes between tribe members, and would always listen to exactly what Piccolo had to say, a faint gleam in his eyes the only approval that was ever shown. Piccolo knew that Kami had trusted him...but still. There always came a time in meetings where Piccolo was asked to leave, when he was dismissed with a nod. Even as Kami's obvious successor, Piccolo had not been trusted with everything. Piccolo had found no offense in this--he knew that trust, like respect, was something that took hard work to earn, and was not just something that was freely given out.
     
     It did not bother him, truly it did not--but his father, Piccolo Sr. on the other hand, had been displeased at this. Piccolo Sr. had never been invited to tribe meetings though he was the strongest warrior the tribe had, as he was known as a man who craved power amongst all things. Many had feared Piccolo would be just like his father, as a family full of strong men could tip the precarious balance in their tribes collective style of living. The Abenaki were a people that survived because they all worked together, they shared their crops, they fought together, and they shared goods and services. Everyone was a family member, not just a tribesman or neighbor--yet Piccolo Sr. had always bristled against this. He thought since he was the strongest he deserved more.
     
     And he was going to use his son to get that 'deserved' more, many feared.
     
     Piccolo had been allowed, once a week, to leave Kami's side, to return home to share a meal with his father, his brothers and his mother. This was the one time a week Piccolo did not have to act like the future chief, and for a twelve year old boy it had been a much needed relief. He could play with his younger brothers, still a boy, and spar for fun--not being watching and judged at all times. But the older that Piccolo had gotten, the...well, odder, dinners had grown. Piccolo was not a fool, and he knew that his father lusted for more power than he was given--and Piccolo was afraid he was using Piccolo as some sort of unwilling and unknowing spy to gain this power.
     
     The family dinners would begin in a loving way, and right when everyone had been laughing about something, some story of Piccolo Sr. and Kami as children, his father would quite abruptly changed topics, looking at his namesake and oldest with an intensity in his eyes that betrayed the forced ease in his voice. "So what does my dear brother think of the latest treaty the French are extending to us?"
     
     Piccolo felt that odd uneasiness that always built inside of him at moments like this. He always felt like he was betraying his father if he did not answer, and he felt like he was betraying the tribe if he did. Kami had brought him into these meetings in confidence, but Kami had always taught him to respect his elders. Piccolo wondered, not for the first time, what happened when those two wishes were in opposition with each other, and which he was supposed to choose.
     
     Piccolo thankfully did not have an answer to his father's probing on the new treaty, his whole body relaxing as he answered honestly, "I know not, father. I was asked to leave before they spoke of it."
     
     Piccolo's father had frozen, the whole room seeming to freeze with him. Piccolo's mother had moved with a speed that only came with familiarity of the situation, standing and ushering Piccolo's younger brothers out of the room, leaving the two oldest males alone. Even then Piccolo Sr. had not spoken for a few moments, instead leveling his eyes at his son, the future tribe leader, as his arms had crossed. His voice was as chilled as the icy grasp of death itself as he spoke, Piccolo's inside clenching in fear, though he showed not an ounce of it on his young face, "My brother dares insults my family by asking you to sit with him, and not to trust you with any of his secrets?"
     
      Piccolo foolishly tried to answer back, "Father, uncle trusts me as much as he should--"
     
     But his father rolled over him as if he had never spoken, "Does he know how much we sacrifice as a family to have you as his protŽgŽ, rather than here, helping your own family? Does he know how much harder I work than anyone else in this village?! How much our family has sacrificed for my goody two shoes brother to be the chief in this village?! How dare he!"
     
     Piccolo felt ashamed, ashamed of what his father was complaining about, and then ashamed of himself for even daring to feel shame for his elder, his father. Piccolo reminded himself, as his father often did, how hard it must have been for Piccolo Sr., to see his older twin brother be chosen from a very young age to be the village leader, while he was dismissed as the fighter of the pair because of his 'temper.'
     
     Piccolo had tried his whole life to keep the balance between respect owed to his father and respect owed to his whole tribe level, but finally, after a night of too much questioning, of shame felt upon his father's words of not caring enough about the family, Piccolo had caved to his father's wishes. He had come to Kami the morning after the family dinner, and when his uncle had asked him how dinner had been, Piccolo had worked up his courage and asked, "Uncle, if I am to be the future leader of this tribe, why do you not allow me to sit in on all meetings?"
     
     Kami had frozen, much like his twin brother had the night before--but the coldness was not there, the ice numbing fear that Piccolo Sr. could project replaced by...was that sadness? Kami's voice had been soft as usual when it came out, but there was a pitying note there as he dismissed his serving man, "Leave us, Mr. Popo." The serving man had bowed obediently, only giving Piccolo a passing look as he left. When he was gone, Kami had turned his eyes on Piccolo, and the two had been in a staring stalemate for a few moments before Kami softly asked, "Why do you ask to sit in on all of the meetings?"
     
     Piccolo was flabbergasted by the question--he had no answer for the chief, and Kami could read it on his face. Kami sighed and folded his hands on his staff as he surveyed his nephew. Kami pressed harder when he asked his next question, "Do you ask for your father?"
     
     Piccolo considered lying, but then he realized this went against everything Kami taught him, and he would not insult his master in such a way. So instead he simply nodded, feeling that shame, again, for betraying his father.
     
     Kami sighed, shaking his head as he turned away, staring out of the tent flap, "Oh Piccolo, I had hoped we would never have to have this conversation, that we would never have to speak like this, but I see that my hope was foolish." He turned back to Piccolo, "I honestly wished you would have been a horrible pupil from the beginning, so that I could dismiss you right away. Instead my very fears were realized when I saw the greatness within you, the greatness to be a great leader"
     
     Piccolo felt a small dusting of anger sweep through him at this moment, the compliment not heard as he took in the insult, but his face, his whole being, betrayed nothing as usual.
     
     Still, Kami--as always--noticed, and he shook his head with an amused look on his face. "Do not misunderstand me. It was for your sake that I hoped this, Piccolo."
     
     There was a silence, a long one, Kami looking at Piccolo expectantly, as if that last sentence had explained everything to Piccolo. It had not. "I...I don't understand."
     
     Kami's amusement turned sad again, his hands grasping his staff a little tighter as he shook his head, "I should not expect you to. Not yet." Kami waved Piccolo closer, and he obeyed, Kami placing his hand on Piccolo's shoulder as he said, "Your father, my brother...he is a good man. But he does not have the spiritual center that former elders saw in me, that I see in you--he does not understand the need of the many over the one. You do, I know you do. I have seen the choices you have made, have seen how quickly you learn. This is a great gift Piccolo, and one that your father is jealous of. He has always been jealous that I have the gift, and I saw that same jealousy in his eyes when he saw what a formidable character you had."
     
     Piccolo felt ignominy, once again, as understanding dawned on him. All of his father's snide remarks to his own twin brother, to Piccolo, especially once he had started training, came back to him. All of the times his father had complained about sharing the family's food with villagers who had not had as lucky of as a crop as their family, all of those time Piccolo's father had chosen to stay home and sleep rather than attend the village ceremonies, or took advantage of being the chiefs brother to 'negotiate' (or bully) into better prices for their family. Piccolo felt embarrassment on his father's behalf, and as usual felt shame for feeling this way towards his father.
     
     Kami regarded him with kind eyes as his hand squeezed Piccolo's shoulder again. "Boy you have a hard future ahead of you, but I would not have picked you, or continued to train you if I had not felt like you could handle it." Still Kami's eyes drew far-off, his hand clenching further as he said, "There will come a time when your father will demand that you respect him above the tribe, that you put his needs above everyone else's...and that is a choice I do not envy."
     
     Piccolo had yearned for more information, yearning to ask the question of who came first, the goods of the many or the good of the elders--but he stayed silent, hoping that the point never came where he would have to choose.
     
     But life had decided that it was to be his fate to have to choose, and he remembered Kami's face as Piccolo and his father had left their village, as Piccolo had chosen his father, the elder, over the village.
     
     Piccolo had thought about that conversation almost every day since he had left the village, and now, he hoped, he prayed, that when he got back Kami would take him back, bring him back under his wing. Piccolo was tired, both physically and mentally, and at the point where he was ready to throw in the towel and head back to Canada. Piccolo wanted to go back. Even if it meant...well, his tribe had not banished him. They had banished his father, and Piccolo was weary of waiting for his increasingly more alcohol soaked father to direct him in what to do next.
     
     Especially as it had been over a week since he had presented his father with the information on where Goku was, a week since his father had looked him in the eyes and went, "Good. Now you wait for my mark in the next few days, and we attack him. He will pay." A few days had come and gone, and when Piccolo had confronted his father again, asking when, his father had been bleary eyed and shaking as he told him in a whisper of the voice he used to have, "Just a few days more. The timing needs to be just perfect...."
     
     Piccolo had waited for his father to elaborate, for Piccolo Sr. to finally reveal the plan to him or tell him why the timing had to be perfect, as he had always been quite vague on what exactly their revenge would be--but nothing had been forthcoming. Instead his father had done what he had done increasingly of late, reaching for a half filled bottle that sat at his nightstand, and drinking it with such alacrity, Piccolo's own stomach had turned. The shaking hands had stilled as the alcohol had rinsed through his system, and Piccolo had had to leave the room, anger and shame warring within him. The shakes had scared Piccolo when they had first occurred in his father, but he had paid for a doctor to come see his father when they had first happened, and the man had scoffed, taking all of Piccolo's pay as he had told him, "He's an alcoholic, boy. Tell the old fool to stop drinking if he wants the shaking to cease and to not drink himself into an early grave--but then, men like him often don't." The doctor had seen Piccolo's face, and his tone became softer as he had sighed, "If he will not stop drinking then keep a steady supply of alcohol on hand for him and the tremors will abide in the very least."
     
     Piccolo had been waiting for his father to rise from his gin and rum induced stupor for what felt like years now, asking almost daily for what the plan would be--and nothing. Well Piccolo was tired, and he was done waiting. They had traveled halfway around the globe, they had been kicked out of their tribe, and they had bided their time in this city for almost half a year. Piccolo found himself, more and more increasingly, longing for the solitude of the forests of Canada, the counsel of his wise uncle, for the comfort of the rest of their tribe. He would beg on his father's behalf, call on the bond of family, and he would get his father help. Because whatever his father's plan was not worth waiting for this long....
     
     But he had not acted on these desires, not yet. Out of deference to the respect he owed his father. He was the man who had raised him, the man who had given him his very life. So no matter how tired and weary Piccolo grew with their English life, he knew he would continue waiting. But that tenuous string called respect that he felt he still owed his father was growing more and more drawn out, more frayed, and Piccolo honestly did not know how much longer he had it in him to continue to bide his time and wait. He had turned his back on the whole of his village, for all of the responsibilities he had shouldered as Kami had grown older, and he was finding it harder day in and day out to tell himself that had been the right move.
     
     Piccolo sighed as he finally finished the walk from the docks to where he lived now, as he drew up to the blue building, where they had been renting rooms, he fought the urge he had to head to Jackson's. He knew that Vegeta would not be there for a fight, but Piccolo, despite his weariness, always thought (and felt) better when he worked on his fighting form and physical movements. Perhaps some Tai Chi would do him good? Stretch his tired muscles out, and allow his brain to function at more than the half speed he felt like it had been operating at of late? Maybe then he could find a way to get his father away from that foul drink, so they could finally accomplish what they had set out to do when they had found out Goku was coming to England. Piccolo wondered if they should have taken the chance when they had been tailing Goku in New York State, but the opportunity had never really presented itself.  
     
     Piccolo heaved another weary sigh as he faced the door that led up to their rooms, his hand on it, ready to push--when something in his back tensed, alerting him to the fact that he was not alone. He was not sure what it was--call it fighting instincts, call it intuition, but something sparked in his tired brain, putting all of his senses on alert. He did not have to turn around to know someone was behind him--he could sense his or her very presence.  
     
     Piccolo slowly lowered his hand, his whole body ready to fight as he surreptitiously turned his neck to look over his shoulder. His eyes grew wide as he recognized the men standing behind him, Piccolo's mind going into overdrive at what they were doing here.
     
     A refined, polished voice cordially caught his attention, "Piccolo."
     
     Piccolo felt his heart stop beating for a moment, before going into double time, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he saw Vegetasei standing behind him with that large goon of his right next to him, both of them wearing malicious smirks as he turned to face them. Those smirks, more so than how they were standing, or anything else about their physical presence, alerted him to the fact that they were not here for a friendly visit. Piccolo cursed himself, cursed his father for waiting so long--he should have known the Duke would figure out what Piccolo's true purpose in England was. "How did you find me?"
     
     Vegetasei cocked his head to the side, studying the man, "Does it matter?"
     
     Piccolo thought about it, knowing that he had not been particularly stealthy, what with having to work a normal job to support his father and himself, and he shook his head, "No, I guess it does not." Piccolo took a deep breath, deciding to tempt fate, to see if he was worrying himself for no reason. "Are you here because I have not been going to Jackson's?"
     
     Vegetasei snorted, the goon behind him letting out a bark of a laugh that drew some stares of those on the street. Piccolo's head swiveled, taking in all of the innocents (witnesses) who were watching the Duke and Nappa with curiosity, realizing how out in the open they were. Piccolo frowned, but his forehead cleared when Vegeta spoke, his voice low and threatening as he explained, "You know why I am here. Did you think I would not find out?"
     
     Piccolo felt his worst fears confirmed, the world crashing down around him as he realized he had waited too long. He should have known that Vegeta, the smart fighter that he was, would have realized that Piccolo was using him, and that the man he innocently sparred with twice a week was a threat to his family. Piccolo, for the first time in memory, cursed his father without shame, knowing that it was his fault hey had waited too long. Why had his father not told him the plan? Why had they not avenged his brothers and mother--and left this place months ago? Piccolo, was not given much time to think past that, though, as Nappa had come up, wrapping his hand around Piccolo's forearm, steering (or dragging) him away from his door, and into the darkened alley by the building.
     
     Piccolo felt relief course through him--his father was safe. He worried less about himself--he had taken a lot of pain, trained his body to withstand as much as it physically could--but his father was feeble, and vulnerable right now, and Piccolo needed to protect him. No matter how angry he was with him. Nappa waited until they were hidden by some shadows, away from the prying eyes of the street, before turning Piccolo so his back was to the brute's front, Nappa's large arms wrapping under his arms, locking him, holding him as Vegetasei slowly followed them into the alley.
     
     Piccolo watched with interest, already priming his body for the hurt that was about to come to him, as Vegetasei stripped his jacked off, undoing his cuffs, rolling his sleeves up before catching Piccolo's eyes, "Now I have some questions to ask, and you are going to answer them."
     
     Piccolo felt his pride swell up, his mind whirring into overtime as he tried to figure out how to get out of this situation, at the same time as he detached himself from his body, knowing that the Duke would not go easy on him, now that he knew the truth. "I will tell you nothing."
     
     The Duke gave him a cold stare, before a chilling smile spread across his face as he softly said, "Oh good. I was hoping you would be difficult."
     
     ~~&~~
     
     Bulma was angry. She was angry, and sad, and scared, and a million other emotions. And was she allowed to act on any of these emotions? No! She had been escorted to Vegeta's secret office, and here she sat, her arms wrapped around the curve of her stomach, as if cradling the child within, waiting like a Kami-damned damsel in fucking distress. Bulma was no fucking damsel in fucking distress. That was for fucking sure. And yet....
     
     She had not run after Vegeta, she had not even tried to trail him as he left her in the secret office--something in his face, in his curt goodbye, where his eyes lingered on her far longer than they ever had before had stopped her and her millions of plans to go with him. His last words echoed in her head, even as her thoughts traveled a million miles in each direction, Be safe Bulma. Take care of our child. I will always...the time we had together...I must leave. And that had been it. He had been gone.
     
     But those strained silences where he tried to think of the words to say--they had been telling to Bulma. Vegeta was not someone who said his feelings--you had to watch him, and read his actions. The fact that he was trying to tell her something before he left, well, it did not bode well.
     
      Oh Vegeta, just what have you gotten yourself into?
     
     He was all she could think about as her eyes swiveled about the articles, pictures, and other curios Vegeta had pinned up to the large board that dominated her view. She searched every bit of information in front of her, every bit of knowledge she had gleaned in her time as a spy (and a spy's wife) willing herself to think, to just use that large brain of hers to figure out what was going on. She knew she needed to figure out a way she could help, to figure out a way to stop what she feared what her husband saw as the inevitable. But she could not. All she could do was sit in Vegeta's chair, smelling Vegeta with every inhalation of breath, his last words echoing to her in her head, pushing all rational thought out of her head as she sat there, anger warring within her as she realized how...how...useless she felt. She knew she was pregnant and she knew the health of the child came before even her--but still.
     
     Bulma was a doer, and this damsel in distress stuff was not working for her. Being told to sit and wait--it was the equivalent of being thrown in prison for her. Speaking of prison....She could swear the walls were closing in on her as she sat here, not working, not moving, so she forced herself to focus, focus on the wall in front of her, willing it to divulge all of its secrets to her. She was surprised that Vegeta had not actually locked her in here earlier. She took that as a sign that he actually cared--or that he knew her well enough to know she would not risk their child's health to chase after him. Bastard!  
     
     Bulma felt rage sweep through her again, bubbling up, pushing on her chest, constricting her breathing, but she bit it down, forcing herself to think. Come on Bulma...use that giant brain of yours!
     
     But it would have been easier at that moment to will herself to China than to clear her muddled thoughts.
     
     Bulma moved for the first time in what felt like decades (but was surely only minutes) as she heard the Ducal office's door open, Goku's voice drawing her in as he spoke in the outer office, "Bulma, Bulma, where are you? Are you in here?"
     
     Bulma forgot she was in a secret office, uncaring of how she gave away its secret as she flung the inner office door open, all but leaping into her brother's arms as she called his name. Goku, being the world's best brother, opened his arms to her, allowing her a moment to sink into him and his familiar warmth. Goodness she did not realize how much she needed him until his arms closed around her, giving her a moment to abandon all thoughts to the comfort of being squeezed in Goku's strong arms. But all too quickly reality hit home, and she pulled back, grabbing her brothers arms and shaking him (well trying to at least). "What do you know? Where is he? Kami-dammit Goku! What is happening?" Not for the first time did Bulma wish she had at least been taller than Goku--she used to be able to intimidate him with just her height. Hah! Long gone were those days, to say the least....

     Goku shook his head confirming that he was just as lost as she was, holding his arms open in honest supplication. "I don't know, Bulma. I mean, I know Vegeta is gone... I wish I knew where but...." Goku took a deep breath, his arms crossing in front of him, his eyes burning with determination she recognized as what she called 'Goku is serious as shit' face. "Bulma, what is going on with Vegeta, with you? All I got was a letter from Vegeta saying it was his time, and that he needed me to watch you, to take care of you, to protect you. What is it time for? Do you know Bulma?"
     
     Bulma was not quite done ranting and raving, and since her brother was the only human in area (the dowager was there, but Bulma was now completely sure that woman was not at all human) she wanted to keep ranting and raving at him. But now was not the time--even in her most emotional of states, Bulma knew when to hold a good temper tantrum in. So Bulma switched to scientist mode, all business as she asked him, "How much do you know about Vegeta's job with the government?"
     
     Goku cocked his head to one side, looking confused and slightly like a puppy dog the 'Goku is serious as shit' face gone as quickly as it had come. "Vegeta has a job with the government?"
     
     Bulma sighed, running her hands through her hair, realizing this was a welcome distraction from her constantly shifting thoughts as she muttered, "Sit down, I have some explaining to do...."
     
     As Bulma explained to Goku everything about Vegeta as a spy, telling him how she had found out, how she had even helped him, how she had really broken her ankle--she gave her brother credit. He did not ask stupid questions, just letting her speak, his face growing more and more serious as she explained to him everything about Frieza and Zhelonie and Russia that she knew. He waited until she took a breath before he finally spoke, "So you think this has something to do with Frieza finally making his move? That Vegeta thinks he might have figured something about Zhelonie or Frieza's plan out?"
     
     Bulma nodded, watching her brother process all of the information she had just told him. People mistook Goku's genial nature for stupidity, and often commented he had never inherited the Briefs' brains--but they had never seen this side of Goku. If he had been more vicious, he would have been an amazingly tactile and strong general--battle was where he belonged, and this kind of thinking was what he did best. He turned to pace the room, Bulma knowing that Goku was like a shark who needed to keep moving lest he die, seeing the wheels crank in his head as he thought about the situation in front of them.
     
     Some thought, some bubble Bulma had been trying to ignore, but could not, especially as she laid everything out to Goku, pushed out at the moment Goku turned for the fifth time and she admitted to himself (and herself as well), "I am not worried that this is Frieza finally attacking. I mean I am worried as he's a bloodthirsty tyrant, it's just that...it's that." She forced herself to stop for a second, taking a deep breath, closing her eyes as she blew out a long breath, before she opened them, continuing, "...Goku, I don't think Vegeta intends to live." There had been a split second where she had almost said she thought Vegeta was going to die--but saying that word out loud gave it to much power. So she had chickened out.
     
     Goku's looked at her fascinated, his eyes widening as he prompted, "Are you sure Bulma?"
     
     Bulma frowned, the words rushing out of her as she put into language what she could not think, "It just...it explains so much about Vegeta. I mean think about it--that's why he had to come to America to get you, why he spends so much time making sure you are ready to take over for him. Why would he do that unless he needed to ensure that he had a successor? It was not just his pride. He is young enough that even if he had not met me he could have married someone and fathered a child--but not if he did not think he had the time left. He knew something big was brewing with Frieza, and I know Vegeta feels more than just a nation-type hate towards the man. It is personal, and I think it all comes down to whatever happened with Tarble in Russia, and Tarble dying."
     
     Goku frowned, his eyebrows shooting up as he blew out a low whistle, "Seriously?"
     
     Bulma tried to speak to say more, but hearing everything out loud--it made it too real. She suddenly found a lump forming in her throat, so she only nodded.
     
     Goku started to pace again, turning to look at her as he reached the far side of the room, "Tell me more about Tarble, and what happened to him. What do you really know about that?"
     
     Bulma sighed, throwing her hands up, frustrated, as she admitted, "Not much." She moved so that she was closer to Goku, her hand resting protectively on her stomach as she explained to him how aggravating her husband could be when it came to telling her the whole truth, "Vegeta has been less than forthcoming, and all I know was what the dowager basically yelled at me when I went to pump her for information." She ran her hands through her hair as she told him, "I know Tarble was killed in the service, and it was in Russia during the war. But I think there is more to Tarble's death than just a simple death...well, death on the battlefield. It would explain why Vegeta does not talk about it, and why he felt the need to lie to me about when Tarble died. I think Tarble's death might explain why Vegeta is heading into this like he is going to die."
     
     Goku, being more attuned to how Vegeta thought as a warrior, perhaps, or maybe just as a fresh set of eyes to this whole situation spoke slowly, his words careful as he said, "Perhaps Tarble's death has given Vegeta a death vendetta he feels the need to carry out. Like he needs to avenge his brother's life, and he knows it will cost him his own life. Especially if he goes after someone as bloodthirsty, ruthless, and important as the crown prince of Russia. It would also explain...." Goku looked up for a second, getting that guilty look he used to get when she caught him sneaking to the kitchen, before he looked away, "Never mind."
     
     Bulma turned to look at Goku, her heart in her throat as she realized he was hiding something. "Goku? What?" He shook his head, his eyes drawing past her as he stared out the window, before Bulma grabbed his arm, shaking it, "What is it? Tell me, please."
     
     Goku swallowed heavily, still not looking at her as he admitted, "I never told you this, but when...well, when we were in Scotland and Vegeta and I were outside...uhm...,"
     
     "Fighting," Bulma supplied for him, willing him to talk faster, wanting to know what he was afraid to tell her.
     
     Goku looked at her, surprised that she could have deduced her husband and brother had fought (as if the bruises and cuts both had been nursing that next morning had not been a huge fucking giveaway), but he continued, "Uh, yeah. Fighting. Well, after we had finished fighting and Vegeta agreed to marry you--well, he made me promise to take care of you."
     
     Bulma was confused as what this had to with what she had been saying, and she could not keep the exasperation out of her voice as she prompted, "So?" She would have assumed that any man would ask that of her brother if they--hold on. Her voice was frantic as she said, "Goku, what else did he say?"
     
     Goku looked right past her again, his cheeks reddening as he admitted, "He told me he would be making you a widow sooner rather than later. That there were some dangerous situations he was going to be putting himself in, and that he would not be making it out of these dangerous situations, well, alive."
     
     Bulma could not help it--she collapsed back into the couch she had been standing in front of. It was one think to posit and hypothesize about her husband, the man she loved, going out on missions that would get him killed, or hell, carrying out some sort of revenge vengeance that would get him killed--but to hear it from Vegeta's own mouth. To know that her husband was indeed planning on dying soon, before their child was even born, to know that her short time with him was about to get cut even shorter--well it knocked it all out of her.

     It all began to fall into place, the whole Kami-damned reason Vegeta even came to America in the first place. He thought he was going to die, and soon. Why else would Vegeta act as he had, making it known how important it was that Goku be there to inherit the dukedom from Vegeta, as well as why he had made sure to marry Bulma, in case his heir was not Goku, but his son...a son he might not ever get the chance to see.
     
     Bulma felt anger well in her again as she realized just how crazy the man she married actually was--could he have picked a bigger, homicidal, sociopathic or nastier person to have a personal vendetta against?! What bigger target could he pick but the crown prince of another country?! Especially a man as bloodthirsty as Frieza? Even if Vegeta were able to get close enough to Frieza, and beat him somehow--how would he ever get past the fact that he had killed a monarch of another country? If Vegeta managed to make it out of his suicide mission alive, his head would have a price on it from Russia. Kami Vegeta, was there seriously no one more dangerous on Earth to have a grudge against? Was Satan too difficult?
     
     That was it. If he made it out of this alive--she was going to kill him himself. Mother fucking suicidal bastard. If he wanted to die so badly she would gladly relieve him of his life herself. In fact she had to stop her hands from clenching around Goku's neck as a substitute as she turned up to face him. Goku, seeing that fire in her eyes took a step back, his hands up, supplicating. "Easy Bulma."
     
     Goku's words grounded her, bringing her back from the anger that threatened to choke her, and she took a step back as well, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands, pressing as she sighed. Still, she could herself from hissing out through clenched too, "That stupid asshole. That mother fucking stupid asshole. I will kill him for not telling me the truth."
     
     Goku let out a nervous chuckle, but, wisely, let her words fall without picking them up and prodding Bulma with the terminology she had just so venomously spit out at him.
     
     Bulma was gearing up for another attack on her husbands sanity, intelligence, manhood, hell, whatever she could think of when something miraculous happened. For the first time in her pregnancy, Bulma felt a little telltale kick against her upper ribs, a kick that brought Bulma back from the scary place her anger was bringing her. Bulma immediately dropped her hands back to her stomach, looking down at the swell and at the life that she was currently carrying, tears instantly springing into her eyes. The kick made her real pregnancy, well, even realer somehow. She had a child inside of her--and she liked to think they were as angry with their father as she currently was. She saw that kick as a kick of solidarity with Bulma, agreeing that their father was being just plain stupid.
     
     Well it was a good thing Bulma was a genius then--because the time for pouting was over. Vegeta thought he could get away with killing himself with Bulma 'genius extraordinaire' Briefs as his wife? Hah! She would show him--she would save his life, and then she would nag him for the rest of his natural born life, to remind him that no one got away with trying to die on Bulma's watch! Killing him would be too easy of an out. He deserved her on his back for the rest of all time for the pain he was putting her through. Bulma rubbed her stomach as she thought she felt another flutter of movement, as if the baby was agreeing with her.
     
     Okay then. The time for anger was over. It was time for action.
     
     When she looked back up, Goku was eyeing her speculatively, "Are you all right?"
     
     Bulma, despite herself, smiled as she admitted, "The baby just kicked. For the first time. They are as mad at their father as I am. Which is why that rat bastard is not allowed to die." She took another deep breath before she said, " Goku, we are going to save that rat bastard."
     
     Goku recognized that spark in her eyes, and smiled. "Good, because I've been thinking--."
     
     There was a knock on the door at that exact moment, and Bulma bounded over Goku to open the door, hoping it was her husband, but knowing he would never knock. She threw the door open, trying to appear as if nothing was wrong as she smiled at Jeffries as he stood there, holding out a missive for Bulma, "This came for the Duke, your Grace. Can you see that he gets it upon his return?"
     
     Bulma took the note, trying to arrange her face in something that looked like a normal smile (though she was sure it was more of a grimace) as she nodded,  "Of course," waiting until Jeffries left to close the door and look at it.
     
     Her mouth went dry as she saw the name on the outside of the letter, and she must have lost all color in her face because Goku simply asked, "Bulma--what is it?"
     
     Bulma took a deep swallow before looking back up, her eyes large as she told him, "It's from Basil." Why would Basil be writing Vegeta, when Vegeta was already out doing his duty? Maybe he had not sent a note to Basil, and Basil had had a similar breakthrough? Bulma tried to move her hands to open it, but suddenly found that her hands were immobile, her mouth dry, and her heart racing again.
     
     Goku saw Bulma's reaction and kindly took the note from her, opening it, but frowned, almost immediately handing it back to her. "I can't make heads or tails of the code Bulma, what does it say?"
     
     Bulma took the note back, translating it as she quickly read the words about flowers and gardening schedules, before grabbing her throat, looking back up at Goku, "It says that it is time. That Frieza launched his attack, and that he needs him at the palace, right now." She took another deep breath before she admitted, "I'm not...I'm not exactly sure, but I think it says that King William is being held hostage."
     
     Goku's eyes grew large again, but Bulma was not done, "Goku, I think Vegeta went to the wrong place this morning. I think he thinks' he had finally discovered who Zhelonie is, but it is all moot because we know where Frieza is. Goku, we need to find him. We need to find Vegeta, and we need to get him this note. He would never forgive himself if he is not there to carry out his revenge."
     
     Goku's mouth opened slightly, before closing again, confusion clearly written on his features,  "Wait, did you not just say we were going to save him?"
     
     Bulma stopped for a moment, thinking. It was true, if she led Vegeta to where Frieza was, there was a good chance that Vegeta would not live. But...she loved the man and she knew him well enough to know that if returned, and found out that she had hid this information from him, he would never forgive her. But that did not mean she was going to let him die. Still, she needed Goku to understand since he was such an integral part of her plan.  
     
     "Brother, think about it. What if I, or Chi-Chi, or mom or dad, ever stopped you from fighting a fight that would mean finding vindication for losing your brother or me or whoever? I need to let him fight. I need to let him attempt his revenge--but this time, we are making sure he is not alone." She sighed, before looking into his eyes, making sure hers were as large and as pleading as she could make them, "Because you are going to go help him, and make sure he does not die today."  
     
     Bulma gave a satisfied nod, and began heading towards the door, ready to run out to find Vegeta with Goku in tow before going to the palace together, but Goku grabbed her arm, shaking his head, "Bulma, whoa, hold up. I promised Vegeta I would wait here with you, wait for you, and protect you. Not him."
     
     Bulma set her mouth then, determined, "Goku, what better way to protect me then to ensure my husband makes it home safely? What better way to know that I will be safe, then to know that my mind will be at ease with you there to help Vegeta fight, to protect him, and to stop him from making any ridiculously stupid moves?" Bulma knew her brother, knew how to get him on her side, her eyes large, her lower lip quivering as she said, "Goku, please. Please go out there and save my husband. I need you to find him."
     
     She could see some sort of internal struggle going on with Goku and his inner thoughts, but she knew she won out when he closed his eyes, blowing a large breath out through his nose. Plus, she knew he would never resist a large fight--he was not one to sit here, and if he tried, she would poke and prod him until he felt forced to go out there and fight to blow some steam off. "Fine, where is he? I will go get him. I will watch his back, but Bulma, he will not like it."
     
     Bulma knew that, but if it came between having a dead husband, or an alive one who was pissed at her for not following his orders, she knew which one she would prefer. She threw her arms around Goku, hugging him tightly, "Oh Goku. Thank you so much." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, before she let him go, seeing the red on his cheeks, before she admitted, "I don't, uhm, exactly...I don't exactly know where he is at the moment."
     
     Goku's mouth sagged open again, and he turned his back to her, his muscles visibly tightening in his back as he muttered. Something to do with two people deserving each other's crazy asses. Bulma did not need to guess who he was muttering about. When he turned back to her, Bulma was glad to see his ready to fight someone face was on--Goku was on his primal (Saiyan?) instincts, and that meant something would get done. "Okay, Bulma, this is what we are going to do. You are going to call every able bodied servant you have, and we are going to look for Vegeta."
     
     Bulma jumped up, ready to go, needing to find her husband, needing to help him. "Okay, let me just go get my co--."
     
     Goku cut her off, his face and tone letting her know he was not to be argued with. "You are going nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. You are going to march back into that secret room you just popped out of, and you are not going to leave it until Vegeta or I return. I may be breaking my promise to Vegeta to protect you, but I am sure as hell not bringing you to a warzone." Goku's eyes narrowed, "Bulma, you want me to go protect...fight with Vegeta, fine. I will--but this is my price. You are not to follow me, you are not to leave this very room. I will be posting two of the footmen in front of the outer office to ensure that you will be safe, and you will not move until Vegeta, myself...or hopefully both of us, say so."
     
     She was about to protest, but Goku's eyes softened as he admitted, "Bulma, you're my sister. One of the people I love more in life than anyone else, and I cannot run out of here without ensuring that you will be safe. Vegeta is going to be pissed enough that it is that I am with him and not you--he would straight up kill me if he knew that you were out on the streets of London. He needs to know that you are here and safe. Please, promise me."
     
     Bulma saw the steely resolve in her brother's eyes, reminding her of the way Vegeta had looked at her earlier when he had drawn almost the same exact promise from her, and she frowned, but walked to the bell pull, calling Jeffries in, informing him to gather up any and all of the servants that were here today. They did not waste their time with explanations for the staff, just letting them know that Vegeta needed to be found, and immediately. When he was found, they were to report back to the Viscount, who would be waiting for them at a pub in central London. Goku asked for any servants who had experience with guns, and took two of them, arming them, and posting them in front of the outer office, letting them know that no one but Goku or Vegeta would be entering this office. The servants, Kami bless them, did not even blink, dispersing with alacrity, following orders without a second thought.
     
     Goku waited until they were all gone, ensuring that the two men who were there to protect her were properly at their posts, before turning back to Bulma, grim, "Okay Bulma. I will go find him, and I will save your husband." Bulma nodded, but Goku was not done, raising an arm, pointing to the secret office, "You know what you promised, though."
     
     Bulma frowned at him as adrenaline pumped through her veins, singing out at her to do something other than sit there, but she let out a loud sigh as her final protest as she walked back to the secret doorway, pulling on Pride and Prejudice. She waited until the door sprung open, then she turned back to him, her mouth set, her arms crossed, "Bring him back to me Goku. Please, just bring him back to me. And don't die on me either. Chi-Chi would never forgive me."
     
     Goku nodded once, before striding over to her, pulling her in to him for one last hug, "Bulma, I promise to try and bring him home safe. I promise."
     
     Bulma nodded, before resigning herself to her fate as she pulled back from him, and sat back in the chair in the secret office she felt she had just vacated, Vegeta's scent overwhelming her as she leant back. She heard the door click close as Goku left, Bulma's eyes and thoughts all went heavenward as she prayed to every deity she could think of, willing a safe return for both her husband and her brother. Or Kami help her--she would have her own vendetta against the Russian crown that she would have no problem following through on.
     
     No one messed with her family and lived to tell the tale.  
     
~~&~~
A/N: Not going to lie--when I first wrote this, I had Bulma so much more anguished and crying. But on second reading, I realized Bulma was wayyyy more likely to be pissed at Vegeta than sad. So hopefully this is believable.... Thanks for reading guys, and feel free, at all times, to poke and prod me to update. Getting those reminders from fanfiction.net let me know you guys want to know how this ends as much as I want to write it. Love to all!
The Dark Duke- Thirty-Eight
I love Piccolo. I wish I could write more fanfiction about him, but it seems if there isn't any romance I'm the worst at writing the story. Oh well, maybe once I've matured...

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okieday17
Procrastination Central
United States
Hey there! If you're on my page, I'm assuming you're either reading the Dark Duke or you're here by accident (in which case I say...ha ha suckah- welcome to my world! :evillaugh: ahem...anywhoo...)

I wanted to write a journal entry though, since I wanted to still promote the awesome fanart two of my favorite artists have done for my store

First off there's :iconsami01: : The Dark Duke by Sami01
Vegeta is looking quite amazing here, and I was in awe of what a great job sami01 did

Then there's: :iconcrimsongriffin: Formal Wear- The Dark Duke by CrimsonGriffin
CrimonGriffin really captured Bulma's beauty and sensuality here, and I am just so grateful that they took the time to do some fanart for my story!!

:dalove: :dalove: :dalove: :dalove: :dalove: :dalove: :dalove: :dalove:

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for groups that I should be posting The Dark Duke in, let me know, as I'm always looking for ways to get my story out there.

That's all for now, and I hope you keep enjoying the story. Love to all!!

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:icondragonballzfangirl17:
DragonBallZFanGirl17 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love reading and enjoy your work but I just have one question. could you please explain Chapter 34 to when you have the chance.

Thanks
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:iconokieday17:
okieday17 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013
Sure! What part confused you?? I'd love to clarify!

And thank you!
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:icondragonballzfangirl17:
DragonBallZFanGirl17 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The introduction about the butler, i don't understand it
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:iconokieday17:
okieday17 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2013
Oh, of course! Jeffries got caught between Bulma and Vegeta. Vegeta clearly did not want Bulma to come with him to London, whereas Bulma refused to be left behind. They both kept sending him notes, confusing Jeffries as to whether or not Bulma was coming back to London with Vegeta...until Vegeta showed up, angry because Bulma had followed him, despite his wishes otherwise...

Does this help?? Feel free to ask more questions!
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(1 Reply)
:iconsami01:
Sami01 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Student General Artist
Thank you for the favorite!
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:iconokieday17:
okieday17 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013
Anytime my dear! I love your work!
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:iconsami01:
Sami01 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Thank you for the favorite!
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:iconmortualia:
Mortualia Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the fave :)
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:iconokieday17:
okieday17 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012
Thank you for being awesome!
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:iconaspiringauthor20:
aspiringauthor20 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave! :D
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