|Before Creation Comes Destruction|
|Things Were Better Then|
|Written:||May 9 - May 10, 2015|
|Released:||May 10, 2015|
|Theme song:||In the Garage|
|Things Were Better Then track listing|
This story's theme is In the Garage.
“Deliver this by sundown,” Mr. Kvassus said, protracting and retracting his claws absentmindedly. He was sitting in a half-broken chair of wood, his great belly swaying back and forth, dangerously close to making the man fall off his perch. “Get going, boy. You must leave at once. Bouza City is many miles away.” In the dimness of that grimy shack, the older man looked like a ruined statue, ready to crumble. He was smoking Nysala – a sweet-smelling weed – from a long pipe, and coughed viciously as he looked at the boy. “If you fail me again, there won’t be a next time for you, boy. I will hunt you down and make sure you pay! Don’t screw this up.”
“I will leave at once, sir,” the boy said, bowing hastily before scampering out of the shack. He slung the package Mr. Kvassus had given him over his shoulder and then dropped to all fours as he ran down the dusty street. He had no desire of failing Mr. Kvassus again. It was yet morning, cool and quiet, though soon the red sun would rise into the emerald sky and the very air would feel like a furnace. The boy hoped to reach his destination before then.
“Hey Beerus!” a squeaky voice yelled, breaking the calm of the early morning. She was the boy’s sister. “Beerus, come play!”
The boy stopped running, stood upright, and beheld a group of his peers, boys and girls huddled around a shack, their purple, wrinkled skin covered in dirt from hard play. Some of them were chasing a ball colored artificial red, its mere presence a slap in the face to the rest of the scenery. Others stood in a group under the roof of the shack where a long piece of string was hanging. A few of them jumped at it, their claws outstretched, their eyes wide with anticipation as they just barely missed hitting it. Another group was playing a game of clashing claws, of quick reflexes, of little love. Around the houses, the forest squeezed everything together, and Beerus felt like his people were trapped in a prison. They would never see the outside world, for the forests were too thick, and they too simple.
“I cannot,” Beerus replied. “Mr. Kvassus has asked me to deliver this package,” he gestured at the thing on his back, “to a customer in Bouza City. It’s urgent.”
“So?” the girl replied. “Take it later. Besides, school starts soon. You don’t want to miss that, do you?”
“Mr. Kvassus said he would kill me if I did not deliver this package on time, Millie. I don’t wish to upset my boss.” Beerus’ whiskers twitched. “This is serious, sister. You don’t want me to die, do you? I thought you loved your brother.”
Millie cocked her head and stared down Beerus with a queer gaze. “You could quit. Come back to school. Everyone else is here – all your friends. Are you just gonna leave them behind? What about your education? You need this to grow up to be a successful food seller. I thought that’s what you wanted!”
Beerus placed his hands behind his back in closed fists, feeling his knuckles brush against one another. “No, I want to do this,” he said. “I don’t care about school. I care about me. I want to see the world. I don’t want to be stuck here in this stupid village for the rest of my life. Mr. Kvassus’ job is the only way.”
And so he left her just as the tears came rushing to her little golden eyes. It rained blood. When Beerus had been little, his mother had told him it was the blood of the gods who lived in the sky. When they fought and bled and died in war with one another, their divine sanguine droplets would cover the world like tears. Beerus was older now, and he knew it was just another thing that happened sometimes. It was sticky and red and covered everything, but it wasn’t blood.
He reached the edge of the village just as the fog was beginning to dissipate. The sun was rising, the air was warming; it was a new day. Bouza City was only fifty miles away. Moving into the forest, Beerus was careful to watch his step. He didn’t get close to the red-bark trees, for if you were careless and skipped up to one of those trees with the intent of eating their low-hanging, enticing fruit, the tree would grumble and spring forward and swallow you whole. The forest was dense, ruby and gold leaves so numerous and poking out every which way, that Beerus could barely see more than a few feet in any direction. He pounced over cities of roots, angry crimson covered in parasitic moss. The very dirt smelled of hunger. He wondered how many travelers were killed every day in the forests. Probably not enough to satiate that hunger.
Beerus thought he saw other people in the shadow of the forest, behind carnivorous trees and old shacks, but he was never sure. He kept running, and when his bones began to ache, he ran faster. The boy had been through the forest before, and he would go through it many more times, if his life was headed where he hoped.
The heat made him pant; bugs buzzed around in all directions, some getting snapped up by hungry vegetation, others trying to bite at Beerus’ skin. He didn’t even try to swat them aside. He knew that if he ignored them, the bugs would soon leave him alone.
As the day wore on, the boy came upon a mass of white-dead wood sprouting up from the ground in rows of spikes, like the broken teeth of giants. They formed roughly a circle, a jagged crown more like a grave marker than something fit for a king. Beerus stopped and entered the small formation.
All life had fled from the area; the ground was pale red from the rain, but elsewise, there was no color in the place, no energy. Falling to his knees, the boy panted and looked around. When Beerus found himself very much alone, a careful smile broke out across his face like a burgeoning wound.
“I can’t stay for long today,” he said in a lazy tone. “Mr. Kvassus needs me to deliver something to an important customer.”
The boy stood up and walked over to the far side of the makeshift room. He dug in the dirt and produced a small package from within it. Shaking the excess filth off of it, he opened the package and took out a little blue-and-green piece of meat. “I stole this from a store in Tongbari,” he said, sniffing the thing. “It sure looks good. Sometimes I wish I could live in a city and eat this good everyday!” He took a bite, closing his eyes as the pleasure of the morsel’s taste hit him. “Mmm… yes, this is good. Very good. I’ll have to find another. Once I get enough money from Mr. Kvassus, perhaps I can move into a city.” He sighed, closed up the package, and placed it back into the hole in the ground before kicking some dirt back over it. “That’ll be the day. No more farming in a stupid village for me. Maybe I’ll be a food taster for a rich lord somewhere and spend my days however I like,” he chuckled. “Hey, I can dream!”
He closed his eyes and thrust his fists forward as if he was taking part in some slow-motion dance. His tail hung low and free, his mind as clear as the dawn. Beerus had seen advertisements on the video feeds of mythical warrior poets, whose powers were second only to their grace. They were the kind of people whom stories were told about. They were the stuff of legend.
Some days, the boy wanted to be one of them; some days, he would rather be a food taster or reviewer, or whatever people did in the big cities – he did not know, of course. He wondered what Millie would think of that, but he did not wish to tell her. Beerus couldn’t grow up the way his parents had, slaving away on poor farms for untold hours everyday, that was for sure. His parents had died because of their back-breaking work, and Beerus did not intend to follow them to the grave.
He left his sanctuary and ran through the forest, the angry trees grumbling at him for being too cautious. The heat had not yet reached the forest, for the walls of leaves could hold the sun at bay for a short while. That was part of the reason why Beerus liked the forest so much. Despite it being such a dangerous place, it was nice, cool, quiet. No one bothered him in there, as few ever tread through the place. The rich traveled in their fancy air cars, and those in the city rarely sought travel to distant run-down villages. No, he was almost always alone in the forest, and it was his kingdom, his own little slice of the world. Lord Beerus he liked to call himself sometimes when he sat in the jagged crown eating food spoils from the rich cities, but it was just a silly name for a silly place.
The city of Bouza hovered half a mile over a sea of molten rock. From its twisted, oily-stoned skyscrapers and buildings, pollution rose into the jade sky, masking it in boiling plumes of black. Beerus took an air-taxi into the floating world. He found the city cooler than the surface of Tuhak Mal, a faint breeze blowing through the artificial streets. He made his way through Bouza’s red-light district, where older women draped in dark furs huddled behind half-open apartment doors, smoking low-grade Nysala and peering out with their bloodshot eyes, waiting for customers they knew would come. The apartments were three stories high, endlessly expansive; Beerus could not see their end and he did not care to. He guessed they wrapped around the entire city like a belt. Beerus was sure not to stop or look at the women. The last time he had been in Bouza and done that, a woman had approached him and offered him a puff from her Nysala pipe before trying to mug him. Beerus had clawed out her left eye in the struggle. He wondered if she still stood in the shadows behind a half-opened door, or if only having one eye disallowed her from continuing to play the watcher.
There was a man lying in the street, his tail spasming in the air, blood running down the side of his mouth. No one seemed to notice. Air cars sped around and over him without the slightest care. He would soon be dead, and then the sanitation workers would rush forth and take him, never to be seen again. A weird-looking person, whom Beerus could not tell the gender of, sat on a bench watching him from behind a scarf and hood. He saw a grimy-faced woman sitting on the curb of a busy street blowing into what looked like a wooden box and producing shrill music. Beerus watched a man walk up to one of the doors in the red-light district; then a woman quickly opened it and pulled him inside. Beerus wondered what they did in there. He guessed they smoked Nysala – but why then did the men need to come to the red-light district for that? And why were there no female customers?
Beerus’ own customer – Mr. Kvassus’ customer in truth – was a wealthy businessman who lived in the top of one of the skyscrapers. Beerus had serviced the man once before. Just thinking about that made the boy’s tail flutter in annoyance. That man had been rude to Beerus last time, had slapped the boy for daring to look him in the eye. If Beerus had had half the courage of those warrior poets he saw on the video feeds, he would have defended his honor with his own claws.
“Delivery from Mr. Kvassus,” Beerus spoke into the intercom at the entrance of the customer’s skyscraper. A second later, the door clicked open and Beerus stepped inside. No one awaited him inside – not even guards. Brownish light seeped into the room, distorted from the building’s tinted windows. It wasn’t abandoned – the room was well-kept, and blue flowers dotted the walls. Still, the boy was unsure, for the last time he had been here, there had been people. Now only storage boxes greeted Beerus, as they covered the counters and tables and chairs, and dust clung to the air.
Beerus moved carefully through the first floor until he found a gravity shoot and jumped in. He pressed the top floor button on the holo panel that materialized in front of his face and then he felt like he was flying, shooting up and up and up. Vertigo was tugging at his stomach, but before Beerus could pay it any heed, he was at his destination. The shoot pushed him out onto a cold black marble floor, and the boy found this new room to be as desolate as the previous.
“Hello?!” Beerus’ voice echoed thrice. “I’ve got your package… Hello? Is anyone here?”
“Shut your fucking mouth.” He was an old wrinkled man, his skin pale lavender, covered in a slew of little black dots. He was sitting in a pool of orange liquid, steam rising from its glassy surface. He sighed as he looked at Beerus. “What did I tell you last time, boy?”
“Sorry sir,” Beerus said before genuflecting. He raised his head slightly, not looking at the man. “I have your package, sir.” The boy unslung it from his shoulder and presented it to the old man.
“Kvassus’ stock is the highest grade shit I’ve ever laid eyes on. You know that, boy? Your old man runs the best Nysala business on the entire planet. You should be proud.”
“He’s not my father… sir,” Beerus replied politely, keeping his head bowed.
“Shut up, you lout. You’d keep your mouth shut if you knew what was good for you. Now pass it here. I don’t have all day.”
Beerus threw the package to the man, who caught it with cat-like reflexes, just before it hit the water’s surface. The boy did not move until he saw, with his peripheral vision, the man reach for his pipe and rip open the box. That caused the boy to stand up and turn to leave.
“I know it was you, boy,” the man whispered.
Beerus spun around. “What–”
“You stole from me last time.” Beerus went to respond, his eyes wide in shock, but the man raised a paw to silence him. “No, I know it was you. Don’t bother coming up with any excuses. You took my chocolate sundae.”
Beerus had nothing to say. He had indeed taken the man’s sundae. It had looked so tasty, he had been unable to resist. He looked at the man properly for the first time. “I, uh… sir…”
“You know, I’m dying.” He plucked one of the black dots off of his skin and threw it into the water where it hissed and dissolved. “I’ve tried everything,” he said, peeling another black dot off his forearm. “These little buggers are sucking out all my bad blood, but it’s not helping. This bath’s not helping. Nothing I can buy will save me from the pain. There’s no cure, no end to it.” The air hung thick. Beerus noticed he was panting. It was far too hot. “It’s hell. Nothing has worked. I’ve driven everyone I know away from me because of my pain. Good riddance. They were stealing from me, anyway. They knew I was dying. I’m the lord of this city – who wouldn’t do what they did? Who cares about an old dying man? Money’s all that matters. It’s what makes the world go around,” he spat. “It’s funny really. Even the delivery boy stole from me. Was the sundae good?”
Beerus gulped and shrugged. “Y-yes sir.”
“Of course it was. I paid for it. And I only buy the best stuff. That brings us back to the Nysala,” he said, laughing and patting his pipe fondly. “This is the only shit that relieves my pain, but even the Nysala can’t get rid of all of it. I’m dying.” He looked at Beerus, his little coal eyes flickering behind the rising steam. “Once I’m gone what will happen to this city?”
“I don’t know sir.”
“Of course you don’t. You’re a village rat. You won’t amount to anything.”
“Shut up!” Beerus exploded. His sudden anger even took him by surprise. For a moment after shouting, all he heard were the echoes and the ragged breathing of a dying lord.
“What did you say to me?!”
Beerus bared his teeth. He’d come this far. No use in backing down. “I told you to shut up. You don’t know anything about me. So don’t say anything!”
The man grit his teeth and began stuffing the pipe with the Nysala. “I know where you came from. I know you’re uneducated, poor, pathetic. You’re not handsome either. You have nothing going for you. You’re going to have a hard time in life.”
Beerus felt his face flush but tried his best to ignore it. “I’m moving into this city. I’ll become the new lord once you’re dead! I swear it!” Beerus declared. It was a foolish boast even by the boy’s standards and he felt stupid as soon as the words had left his mouth.
The man shook his head and lit his pipe. He pressed the fine wood – likely taken from the corpse of a hungry tree – to his lips and closed his eyes. “Your insolence will be your downfall, kid. If I wasn’t hurting so much, I’d wring your filthy little neck. I’d put you in your place.”
The Nysala was beginning to affect the old man. He sunk deeper into the pool until just his head poked up from the surface like a misshapen sea rock. He murmured something at Beerus, but the speech was so slurred, the boy couldn’t comprehend it.
Beerus loathed the man for what he had said. The boy had played at being someone in the forest, where he felt safe and no one could laugh about his ways. He liked to play pretend, because the pretend was better than the real. Pretend was what he wanted to be real, but what he knew could not be. He hated anyone who thought bad of him, who thought he was nothing more than a stupid village kid. He didn’t choose to be born in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t choose to grow up never having seen a city until he was old enough to marry. He knew deep down that he wanted to be like them, to be amongst the wealthy, the successful. He wanted to be on the video feeds as a warrior or a food reviewer. He wanted to do something exciting, something worthwhile, with his life. And he hadn’t. But there was one thing he knew he could do.
“You’re just a stupid old, dying man. You’re worthless!” Beerus’ venom coursed through his veins. He forgot the heat of the room, and focused in only on the pain the old lord had caused him.
He walked up to the man, who struggled to open his eyes. Surprise filled the beady little things when they beheld the boy standing right overhead. The lord of Bouza watched in horror, his eyes widening back open with all his strength, as the boy placed his boot to the man’s head and kicked. Then the lord went tumbling into the water, peach waves splashing in the brown-tinted air. The man sunk to the bottom of the pool, his body mostly paralyzed from the Nysala in his weakened state. He stared back up at Beerus through the rippling waters, and the boy stared back, unmoving, unflinching, until, at last, the good lord began his long sleep.
On his way back home, Beerus rode a waterfall up to the point where the forest met the sea, and watched the waves lap against the pearl sands. He skipped rocks into the white foaming waves and snacked on city sweets as he watched the sun set behind the horizon, the sky sketched with deep scars of purple and crimson and ultramarine. Far away wide-winged birds soared majestically through the air in tightly-bound groups. The boy felt like he was being watched from the forest at his back, and oft he would spin around to discover there was no one there, just lifeless shadows in a hungry paradise awaiting his return. That reminded him of the time he and Millie had played hide-and-seek in the forest. When their father had caught them, the two had been beaten near bloody. He still remembered his mother’s sobbing, her wrathful, heartbroken tone when she told him that he had nearly gotten his sister killed. That had been before anyone had told Beerus that the trees were alive, that they were always waiting for anyone who trespassed into their home to make a wrong step.
It was night when Beerus returned to the village. The sea breeze had washed over the place, chilly and smelling sweet. Most of the torches were out, though Beerus could hear many people conversing with their families in their homes, their windows open to the night air. The bugs were loud that night, and a few of them nipped lightly at his flesh. He returned to the little home he was sharing with Millie and a few other orphans. Everyone else was asleep, so the boy tiptoed across the creaking wood floor to his bed. That was when he saw it.
Her head was on a spike, dried blood running halfway down the wood in long, tearful streams. It was fresh, but not too fresh. The blood had dried. But her face was still full of color, full of the last throws of life. Millie’s eyes were half-open, her mouth askew. She reminded Beerus of the man in the Bouzan street he had seen earlier that day.
Beerus could hardly work out more than a gasp, a faint whisper. He fell to his knees, felt his body numb over. He began to shake. Tears came then, and he had not the strength to stay them. Beerus felt himself falling forward, as if he was bowing again, only this time, it was something he could not escape. He could not look at her again. The first instance, forever imprinted in the boy’s mind, had been too much. He grabbed the spike, turned his head from it, and stumbled out of the shack. Once outside, Beerus felt himself retching, the half-digested candy bursting out from his throat, burning and no longer sweet.
He began to sob; he could hardly see. But the boy knew where Mr. Kvassus’ hut was. No amount of pain or grief would keep him from that place. He stormed into it, kicking down the door, the wooden spike in one hand. His grief cries grew louder.
“Kvassus! Wake up!” the boy shouted, his voice thick with rancor. “Get out here, you coward! Face me!”
Mr. Kvassus was in his night clothes and yawned upon seeing Beerus. He had a candle in his hand, and he set it down on a table upon seeing Beerus at his door. He sat down, his great rolls of fat rippling like water, and lazily pulled out his Nysala pipe, lit it, and began to smoke.
“What do you want, boy?”
Beerus roared and threw himself at the man. Kvassus jumped back from the seat with sudden agility, his pipe unmoved from his lips, and kicked the boy across the face, sending him sputtering to the floor. Beerus felt his nose and saw blood dripping from it.
“Monster?” Kvassus repeated, dumbfounded. “Monster, me? No, I’m a man of my word.”
Beerus tried to stand up. “What?”
“I told you to deliver the package or I’d make you pay.”
Beerus pounced upon the man again. Kvassus punched the boy under the chin, causing Beerus to fly into a wall and slump down into a corner, broken and bleeding. “I… I did deliver it… you fool…”
“Yes you did. But then a funny thing happened.” Kvassus stared at Beerus. “A funny thing indeed. One of the consequences of being extremely wealthy is that one is likely to have cameras in every room of one’s house. They saw what you did, boy. You stupid, stupid boy. They know! And they’re coming to get you. I won’t stop them.”
“He was dying!” Beerus shouting, the tears falling down his face mixing with his blood. “He told me himself!”
“And he had another year to live! Another year as a paying customer! You brat! Do you know how much you’ve cost me?!”
“Millie was innocent!” Beerus screamed, throwing the spike at Kvassus. When it hit the man, the corpse head slid off one end and landed on the floor with a wet smack.
“She’s the only one you cared about, except yourself. It was the only way to teach you a lesson.” The man blew a ring of smoke. “It doesn’t matter anyway. They’re coming for you – that man’s relatives. You aren’t getting out of this either way. You’ll be with your precious Millie,” he spit on her bloody head, “soon enough.”
“I’ll kill you!” Beerus lunged at Kvassus. This time, he ducked out of the way as the man went to punch him. He slid under the table and latched his claws onto Kvassus’ legs. He tore flesh from bone then, blood and bloodcurdling screams leaving Kvassus’ body in perfect harmony. The man kicked at Beerus, hitting him square in the chin. Beerus stumbled backwards and then felt himself rising again, as if he were flying. Kvassus picked the boy up by his tail, punched him deep in the ribs, shattering half of them, and then threw him out the door. Beerus landed in the mud and did not move. It had begun to rain again, but this rain was not bloodrain, which happened only at the start of every summer, but a cool, clear, biting rain. It had turned the ground to mud, and Beerus realized the pain in his broken bones had left him unable to get up.
He twisted onto his back and felt his chest, wincing. “I… I’ll kill him… I’ll kill him,” the boy repeated over and over as cold rainwater washed over him. Then, as time wore on, the pain grew acute to the point of torture. “Help!” Beerus said weakly, though under the roar of the rain, his weak voice went unheard. “Help!” he wheezed a little louder before gasping in pain. “Help!” he cried. “Please… someone…” But there was no one.
The streets began to flood with water, and Beerus felt himself sinking, the water rising around him, threatening to drown him. It was a cruel joke the gods were playing on him, a cruel irony. He closed his eyes and thought of his family, of his mother and father, of his sister, of happier times, as the water rushed over him. He thought to the place in the woods he would go and pretend to be a warrior poet, where he would stash expensive food from the cities and then review the flavors to an invisible audience. And then, Beerus felt warm; he felt at home.
It was okay; he didn’t need help. He was good where he was. He thought back to the man lying in the street and wondered if he had had a family, if they were still out there looking for him. Beerus knew that he and that man were more alike than not. No one cared about his ways either. “No one hears me…” he said with a little laugh. It wasn’t funny – he was dying – he didn’t know why he was laughing.
“Yes I do,” a voice replied. “I do.”
Beerus’ eyes widened and he tried to stand up. He saw a dark figure hovering over him – a figure whose face was obscured by a hood and scarf. The being stepped over Beerus and then snapped his blue-skinned fingers. In a second, the rain stopped, and quiet filled the world.
“Who… are… you…?” Beerus breathed, trying to push through the pain in his ribs.
The being looked at Beerus for a moment and then took off his hood. His skin was all blue, his hair white and rising like a foam spire. He wore clothes Beerus had never seen before and knew to be foreign. “I’m Whis,” the being replied.
“A-are you a god?”
“I’m a life-form known as Whis,” the blue-skinned creature replied with a small smile.
“You’re an alien then…” Beerus said. “What… do you… want… with me?”
Whis tilted his head. “When you were little, your mother told you a tale about how when it rains red droplets – blood, as she called it – that it was a sign of the heavenly gods fighting and dying in glorious battles.”
“How… do you know… that?”
“Oh Beerus, please,” Whis replied, shaking his head. “You are the one I’ve been looking for to replace one of those gods who died in the last battle. I know everything about you.”
“Those… were just stories…”
“Gods… don’t exist…” Beerus coughed.
“Oh we don’t, do we?” said Whis as he held up his hand to his face. “I’m pretty sure this is real.”
That gave Beerus pause. His breaths became shallow, fewer, and he studied Whis intently. “If you’re a god then go kill Mr. Kvassus for me.”
Whis shook his head. “No, no. That wouldn’t do. I’m only the Whis, after all. You’re the real god.”
“I’m no god.”
Whis conceded, “Well, not yet. That is very true. But soon. If you come with me, I’ll show you how to become a god.”
Beerus sat up from the muck. “You… know everything about me?” Whis nodded. “Then you knew what Mr. Kvassus… did to me… what he did to… to my sister…”
Whis nodded gravely. “It is a most unfortunate series of events, if I do say so myself.”
“Why… why didn’t you stop him?”
“Because, young Beerus, before creation comes destruction. That is how things must always be. Now are you ready to become a god? Are you ready for all the pain to go away?” Whis put his hand out.
The young boy took a sharp breath inward, dried his eyes, and then reached out and grabbed ahold of Whis’ hand. “I… I want to have the power… to make my enemies suffer… That’s all I care about…”
“Is this the place, Whis?” Lord Beerus asked idly.
“Oh yes, Lord Beerus,” Whis replied fervently. “Just where we left it, I believe.”
The two hovered in space over a small planet. A red sun shone fiercely in the distance.
“Hmm… I don’t like that. If I remember correctly, I left my homeworld in rather… poor circumstances.”
“Yes, that is true, Lord Beerus. But if it’s any consolation, your species died out several million years ago. A new sentient species has not yet evolved on Tuhak Mal.”
“That’s not any consolation, no,” Beerus said. He yawned. “I will need to sleep soon. Fifty-three years, I think.”
“Excellent, Lord Beerus. Do you wish to destroy the planet before taking your nap?”
Beerus aimed a finger at Tuhlak Mal. The planet was covered in blues and yellows and reds. Beerus thought he knew why that was, but racking his brain produced no suitable memories. “Did I have any family there?”
“Why of course, Lord Beerus,” Whis replied softly. “You were born like any other person, after all.”
“And… what happened to them?” the God of Destruction asked in his lazy drawl.
“They… well, they died,” Whis offered. “Like every other member of your species. They were mortal.”
“Oh.” Beerus scratched his chin. “Do you have any food on you, Whis?”
“Why yes, Lord Beerus, here!” the attendant said cheerfully before producing a little lunch box with a crayon-drawn likeness of Lord Beerus himself on the front. “I packed all your favorites.”
Beerus grinned and licked his lips. “Excellent! It appears I won’t be napping quite so soon after all.” He grabbed the lunch box and shot forward, his aura suddenly forming around his lanky purple body. “Wait here, Whis. I want to see something.”
Lord Beerus descended to his homeworld for the first time in many years and found it to be mostly alien to him. At one time, he had been a part of this world, shared in its memories, but that had been so long ago that he had mostly forgotten the feeling. But there was one thing he still remembered.
The crown was gone, the dead wood long decomposed. But Lord Beerus knew he was in the right place all the same. By muscle memory, his feet had taken him back to the place he had once loved. As it had been so many million years prior, nothing grew in the area. There was dirt, a few animal tracks, and little else. The walls of brooding trees had given way to this little circular sanctuary; they dared not enter into it themselves. The God of Destruction realized that he had liked this spot more when the dead trees had formed a jagged crown and given him protection. Still, he walked into the place and felt instantly at home. Déjà vu hit him with a left hook. Nostalgia came swinging from the right. Beerus staggered to his knees and looked around the whole area. The memories came shooting back to him in incoherent fragments. It smelled as it once had, he understood, but it wasn’t the same. All things change, but not everything does. Beerus felt his fingers closing around the dirt, feeling the life of the planet in his hands.
The God of Destruction took out his lunch box and opened it. Delighted at the morsels of fancy food he found inside, Beerus took out a bib and wrapped it around his neck. He sighed, peering around the area one more time, and chuckled.
“I can’t stay for long, today” he spoke to the empty forest. “I’m the God of Destruction now – I know, I know, you probably have no idea what that is. There are plenty of important things I have to take care of. The whole balance of the universe is my responsibility!” he boasted. Then, Beerus began to eat his lunch. “I know you’re proud of me… mother, father, Millie. I just want you to know I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for things to turn out how they did. If only I could have become a god sooner, I would have saved you all.” Beerus felt something warm coming to his face and stopped it by taking another bite of food. “I’m sorry for everything. But if things hadn’t turned out how they did… well, maybe I wouldn’t be here. I hope you guys understand.” Beerus yawned. “This job really takes a lot out of you, I gotta say. I sleep much more than I did back when we all lived together.” Beerus stuffed his face full of food and then swallowed. “Things were better then, I know. But it’s not like any of us can go back.”
Beerus finished the last of his food and then stood up. This had been his sanctuary once. He remembered. But it didn’t feel the same, not anymore. So he readied a small purple ball of fire on the tip of his finger. It suddenly expanded into a ridiculous size – that of a small moon – in the blink of an eye. Beerus aimed the attack at his homeworld and stood there, unmoving.
“We can’t go back,” Lord Beerus whispered to himself. A quiet breeze rustled through the red-and-gold leaves of the forest, as if in response. And, in that moment, Beerus finally understood what that meant.