Age of the Empire

The First Tale of Shukumei: Ghosts From the Past
Chapter 10

"First, second, and third class Saiya-jin, I have important news. In just a few days we will be coming upon the frontier planet of Chikyuu, but, unfortunately, we have no plan of action. I wish to ask you, the people of our new empire, to decide what we will do." Vegeta paused a moment to guage the reactions of his people. Most were intrigued. "Option number one: we can go into unknown territory in all of our aggressive might and probably be cut down where we stand; option number two: we can attempt to negotiate with something that we probably do not have; or option number three: we can ask them for assistance. I leave you now to vote on this matter. You have five minutes." He turned away from the screens that displayed the bridges of three ships, and left the room.

Bardock was waiting outside. "You're changing the course of history, Vegeta."

"I don't have any other choice." He folded his arms and leaned back against the wall. "Either we alter the way we do things or fail immediately from the start. Society was fucked up back on Vegeta, both you and I know that. I may have only been six years old, but I remember the protests outside the castle. I remember the weekly assassination attempts. I remember fearing revolution." He frowned at the older Saiya-jin. "You have no right to treat me like an ignoramus. After all, I know more about how the government works than you do."

"Would it surprise you that I was only making an observation?" He patted his shoulder and walked off down the hall. "You know what I'm voting for."

Vegeta stared at his back, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Did he just compliment me?" A grin. "I think he did."

The five minutes went by quickly and soon (almost *too* soon for his tastes) Vegeta was once again before his people. "Daikon, what are the results?"

Frowning at a piece of paper, the stocky captain of the first ship to leave Planet Vegeta spoke, "Twenty-five for option one, ten for two, and seven for three."

"You seem annoyed at them," Vegeta commented. "What's wrong?"

"Permission to speak freely, sire."


He glanced once at the small crowd behind him and blew out an explosive breath. "These idiots voted for option number one, something we can't possible survive. How many people live on the planet, King Vegeta?"

"Around two billion."

"You see! If that option wins, we're all going to die!" Daikon glared at his crew. "What have you got to say for yourselves?"

For a moment there was only silence. Then one man spoke up. "I would rather die fighting than live with the knowledge that we begged for help."

"I felt that way too, at first," Vegeta told him. "Then I thought of the children who would have no life. Dying so quickly on Chikyuu would serve no purpose. It may be different for you, but I don't want to be remembered as a foolish warrior." He motioned to Nanka to move onward to the next ship. "Results, Nashi."

"May I ask a question first?"

He sighed. What was with all the sudden questions? "Go ahead."

"Would the results make any bit of difference? Are you just allowing us to think that we have any input in the way you run things?" His fully-white mustache twitched slightly as he pursed his lips. "This is highly unorthodox."

"Why would I waste everyone's time by asking this of you?!" Vegeta's voice rose of its own accord. "Don't you think I have better things to do than listen to voting results?"

There was a brief pause until Nashi realized that his king's questions weren't rhetorical. "It's not my place to wonder, sire."

"Just give me the damn results."

"Right away, sire. Ten, one, and thirty-six."

Dark eyebrows rose almost even with his widow's peak. "That was unexpected," he said. "Is there a large amount of elders on your ship?"

"No, sire. Mostly young ones barely into adulthood. They've never seen real battles before so that's why they hesitated to select option one."

The other two sets of results were remarkably similar to those from ship number two. Option one had a total of fifty-six votes, option two had twenty-six, and option three had eighty-one. Secretly Vegeta was glad things turned out the way they did. He would have hated to overrule the decision after all the preaching he'd done.

"It's settled, then. After we land on Chikyuu we'll request help. That way we'll gain allies instead of enemies."

"Hooray for us," Beibak muttered. He never saw it coming. One minute he was glaring at the radar screen, the next he was lying on the floor beside it. He looked up into the annoyed eyes of his king and knew fear.

"Do you know how tired I am of you?" Vegeta asked in a surprisingly conversational tone. He crouched beside the other man, fingers reaching out to touch the growing bruise on his jaw. "Imagine if my fist had connected with some other extremely tender area." His eyes slowly moved down Beibak's torso until they landed on his groin. "I bet I could've made you cry."

A small incoherent sound left his throat as Vegeta's hand moved. Instead of doing him the ultimate injustice, however, the king stood and turned away. "I will spare your manhood, but next time you won't be so lucky."

Bardock nodded approvingly as the two of them departed. "Now that was a threat worthy of Furiza."

"What threat?" he smirked. "That was a promise."


It was early afternoon when the shining blue sphere of Chikyuu came into view. The four ships slowly approached it, the faces of old and young alike pressed against windows. Bardock smiled on the bridge, happy that his vision seemed to be correct. Several puzzled glances were sent his way, but none were seen by the soldier. His gaze was fastened solely on the last hope for the Saiya-jin race.

"ETA, Orenji." Vegeta commanded.

The navigator did a few quick calculations in his head. "If we keep going at this speed, we should reach Chikyuu in ten minutes." He continued before Vegeta had even opened his mouth again. "We'll use up too much fuel if we go any faster and that'll be a problem when we try to land."

The king gestured and left the bridge. Orenji stared after him, a puzzled look on his face. "That means keep doing what you already are," Bardock translated. "You know the king is a man of few words. Most of the time, anyway," he amended after a moment.

Vegeta hated not being able to go faster, it gave him too much time to create scenarios inside his head. What kind of reception would they receive? Certainly the people on Chikyuu could detect ships entering their atmosphere. Would they be curious or would they see them as a threat and try to eliminate them as soon as possible? There had only been scant information about the planet, mostly demographical statistics, and none of it told him what he needed to know. Sure, knowing the population totals and structural makeup of the planet was helpful, but without knowing what sort of mentality the people had, he couldn't even begin to imagine a reaction.

'I'm probably just worrying too much,' he said to himself. 'If it's just a small group of humans then we can take them without a problem.'

What if the humans had weapons? Powerful weapons of great destructive might? What would he do then? As a matter of fact, they couldn't even kill a few of the humans that threatened them. Eventually more would find out and that'll most likely bring out an entire army to neutralize the new threat. What's left of their race would be wiped out before they could even begin anew.

Vegeta cursed his overactive formerly-dormant imagination and tried to find something to take his mind away from things. There was always Kyuuri's teddy bear. Bardock had taught him to sew two nights ago and it was slow work. The needle was made of bone and, because it was straight, it was pretty hard sewing around the bear's appendages. So far he had the right leg reattached and was half-way through the left one. Often he wondered why he was repairing Boo-Boo in the first place and, each time, he received the same response from his brain.

Because you don't want to make her sad.

The words always made him pause for a moment. When did he begin to care about other people? When? But his brain was silent, it had no answer to this question. 'When I ask idiotic things, it *always* has a response. When I need to know something important, I get nothing. Damn it.' He blinked and his hand paused in its task. 'Isn't having conversations in your head the first sign of insanity?'

He finished the leg a few minutes later with only a few mistakes along the way, and leaned backward to recline on his bed. There would be much to do for the first week as it would determine whether or not they could resurrect the stability of their former society. Most nights would be spent hunched over policy, critiquing many drafts before creating an official copy. He would have to appoint people to help him, people whose wisdom could guide his hand. Of course Bardock would be one of those people; Vegeta had found his counsel invaluable over the years. He was a man who'd seen numerous horrors and refused to let the mental scars fracture his spirit. Instead, the experiences strengthened the warrior and gave him the knowledge to prevent those things from happening again.

Suddenly, the answer to his previous question hit him. When did he start to care about others? When Bardock began to care about him. It took the fatherly love of one man to erase the apathy his biological father helped to implant within him as a child.

There was a knock on his door. "We're descending, Vegeta."

He placed the bear onto his bed and left the only place he could truly call his own. There would be new places in the future, but he would always remember fondly the tiny cabin on a ship called Survivor.

Vegeta paused after he shut the door, a multitude of words tumbling throughout his mind. Finally he just placed a hand onto Bardock's shoulder and gave one of his rare smiles. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Just... thank you."


They found a vast field to land in, the four ships just barely fitting. By unspoken agreement the king himself was elected to be the first to set foot onto the soil of their new home and Vegeta did so after giving a short, moving speech.

"So, where are we?" Orenji asked, feeling completely clueless. It was a feeling that drove him crazy. As the senior navigator on Planet Vegeta, it was his job to know their present and future location at all times. "Does anyone have a political map?"

The other three navigators, looking nearly as annoyed as he, shrugged. "You know as well as we do that there's only an image from space," one answered.

"We'll set up camp here and I'll send scouts out in search of other intelligent life." Vegeta divided everyone into three groups: the able-bodied, the handicapped, and the children. Most of the warriors were sent out to secure the perimeter or to search for humans, but some stayed behind to protect those preparing camp. It was mid-afternoon by the time they'd finished and the scouts were just returning. Frustration was the only thing they'd gained.

"We found a small farm about five miles away," Gurepu started, "and I knocked on the door. The woman who answered took one look at us and fainted!"

Another scout continued where his companion left off. "We left Kabu to take care of the woman while we searched for other people." Here their faces grew red. "The farmer found his wife and thought we'd hurt her so he chased us off his property with a pitch fork. Humans are strange people."

"So let me get this straight," Vegeta tried to keep his amusement from showing but he didn't think he was very successful. "You couldn't ask for information because an enraged human male came at you with a farming implement?"

"We couldn't hurt him, you know. That would completely defeat the purpose of option number three." Kabu was indignant for a moment until he realized that his king wasn't really angry. A wry smile crossed his lips and everyone within hearing range exploded into laughter.

A beeping nose suddenly made itself known to a small group of warriors that were shooting dice. A man pressed the button on his scouter, one of the few devices that had survived the collapse of their empire, and marveled at the levels he saw on the lens.

"Uh, King Vegeta?" he said in a voice filled with awe. "I've got some pretty strong life-forces heading towards us."

"Look at me," he commanded, mind already formulating a plan. "Are any stronger than mine?"

"Only one, sire." Yet one was more than enough. Vegeta was the strongest of all their warriors. "It's about three hundred higher."

At Vegeta's word they all scattered, warriors surrounding their makeshift village to protect those unable to do it themselves. Silence fell upon them, all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the unknown warriors. Two minutes passed and then five, until ten minutes later dots appeared in the sky above the horizon. The few specks grew into several larger shapes that eventually turned into what looked to be four humans, a clown, and a not-so-jolly green giant. Before anyone could even wonder about this unusual group of people, they were upon them.

"Alright people listen up!" Vegeta said loudly. "We're gonna talk first, okay? I know that's very un-Saiya-jin-like, but I don't think we have a better choice."

The people dropped down into the small forest just a few dozen feet to the east of their village. For a moment nothing happened and then the leader of the group emerged from the trees. Bardock froze, completely stunned, and only one word dropped from his lips.