The snowflakes were running like tears against his scars. Blindly, he trudged through the blizzard, his hands in front of his face, as if he could stay this storm. Around him, the carcasses of mud-armored insects lay like half-sunken grave markers. They had been weak and stupid. The cold bit his skin. He was free.
More of the black-shelled creatures skulked in the shadows, clicking their mandibles in the frigid cold. If he wasn’t so pressed for time, he’d wipe them out. He craved to.
He knew not where he was, nor how he’d gotten here, nor where that infuriating Saiyan boy had gone. He sensed no one nearby who was comparable to that boy in terms of power level. The snow dripped down his chin. The lizard was tired and shivering. He had no time for games. Not after the hell he’d been through. If this was some kind of sick trap, he would find out. And if he was already doomed, well… this time, he would go out on his own terms. That much he knew.
The dark-cloaked being flared his aura, as black as ice, and flew. He swore to himself that he would find that boy and rip out his pathetic throat if it was the last thing he ever did.
His hate would keep him warm. So thick was the snow that if he had still had his eyes, he would have known only black. Icicles tore through his veins; he barely remembered crashing to the ground. Trembling, the warrior knew it was not enough. He wanted to see the Saiyan bleed. He wanted to feel the warmth of the boy’s life’s blood rush down his claws. But all he held now was melting snow.
It clung to his scales like knife wounds. He fell to a knee, breathing hard. He felt nothing; he was nothing in this choleric storm. So much easier would it be to give in, and yet…
Her scent rode the frost winds. The guard fell silently as snowflakes rained down upon them. He broke her heart; he tore her throat; he buried her in the snow and tasted her blood. A fire grew in his belly, and he forgot the cold. There were more, he knew. The black-mantled lizard could taste them in the air, as easily as he had this one.
By smell and sense, he found them. Their camp was alight with the orange breathes of burning steel braziers, but he saw those not. Dark plumes reached up towards the swirling grey sky like flailing arms. Transport ships were rising and falling like drifting snow. The outpost was surrounded by palisade walls, with guards posted every few feet, wrapped up in their warm, thick armor. The frosty chill blanketed him; he welcomed the pain. He could not remember feeling so alive. Galled was his throat, and his cheeks ached from the punches of ice. Ignoring the pain, the warrior tread onwards.
The shrill whining of mining tools came in broken gasps under the howling winter winds.
He slit their throats with crimson finger beams. He didn’t have to see. They reeked of fear.
The station captain was a gargantuan grey-skinned alien with so many folds of flesh that he looked like a belch of expanding lava. In his hand was a clipboard, and his voice at times rose above the winds with hoarse fury. The air was raw, biting upon exposed flesh; everyone was moving quickly this night. They wanted to get home.
The black-hooded lizard landed in front of the alien, causing him to grunt in surprise. He didn’t get to scream before he got his throat torn out. Steam rose from the corpse, where the wound was painting the snow. He saw none of it. His eyes had been taken from him long ago. That boy… that young, cocky Saiyan…
The cold cloaked him as a shield, and his aura shone like dark fire in the snowstorm raging around him.
Soundless as a shadow, he eliminated the guards. They fell easily – too easily. The lizard wanted to say something. But they were only miners. This world was cold, but it was not the coldest place he’d ever been.
Snow fell about him, gently stroking his shoulders. With a bowed head, the wanderer came to the descending cargo ship, its rear door splayed open, welcoming him inside. The pilot splattered his brains upon the glass. There was no time. His claws poked and typed deliberately, and he was away – like a blind sprinter. He knew not how much time he had left.
It was an endless expanse, full of passion and apathy. The lizard was no longer numb. No… he felt everything in this cursed universe. He knew just where he was – just who he was.
The ship jerked to a stop. He had nowhere to go. The feeling was so real, he could taste it. Buzzing, old as iron, the cargo vessel strained against the invisible force and failed. It jumped and held, and so too did the cloaked warrior. He stood, sensing an unusual power level approaching. This was not the one he expected. He clenched his fists, felt his claws digging into his palms again – an old feeling, to be sure.
Taking another breath, he was thrown against the metal door. The force of it made the lizard exhale. He tasted blood.
“Who’s there?” he growled.
“You dare ask me that, beast? After slaughtering my men and stealing my ship?”
She was shockingly powerful; he had never sensed anyone of this quality before… not even the boy. His empty sockets itched. His chest heaved. It was good to be alive. “Tell me who you, are and I may let you live.”
That made her laugh. The sound was like a ki blast bouncing off metal. “Have you ever heard of my father?” When he did not respond, she snapped, “My name’s Audacci. I take it you haven’t heard of me before, right? No? Well, get this straight, lizard: nobody ignores me. Nobody defies me. There have been plenty who’ve tried. I don’t need to tell you what happened to them.” She paused to chuckle. “I’ve got half a mind to blow you outta here. For what you’ve done to my men, I’ll–”
“The weak deserve what they get,” he seethed. “Leave me be. I just want to leave this place.”
“What were you doing on that planet?”
“That is none of your concern.”
“You’re right. But if you don’t answer me, I’ll kill you. I decide who lives and dies, beast. Not you. You are at my mercy, and I am not merciful.”
The heat of her warming ki caressed his flesh lightly.
The blind warrior bit his tongue. He despised arrogance. Worse was unpunished pride – those who were allowed to get away with their stupidity. How he wished he could make this one bleed. But even trying… he knew that would be his life. The air was stale in his throat.
“I was left on this world by a foe,” he breathed. His tone was unwilling, his pace snappy. He was in no mood to be questioned. Overhead, space rats sprinted across thin steel, clacking and pounding and banging their paws against the rusted metal. “I need to get out of here so I may find him… so I may make him pay for what he’s done to me.”
“I see,” she said bitterly.
He nearly threw himself upon her then. “Let me go,” came the lizard’s voice at last, colored with restraint and nothing else. “I want nothing to do with you.”
“You killed my men. That debt you owe me, alien. What is your name?”
“I have none.”
“Do not play me.” She was brutish, full of audacity. He hated her. “I asked you a question. Answer, or die.”
He sucked in a breath, raised his head to the grated steel, and flexed his muscles. Yet none of this gave him comfort. The lizard shook and steadied himself. “Frieza called me his benefactor,” the tattered warrior whispered. “I have had no other names.”
“Frieza?” Her voice was high, flinty, and full of malice. “I’ve never heard of him.”
“Then you haven’t been around long.”
A scorching blast of energy took him in the shoulder. It was all the lizard could do not to scream. “Let… me… go…!” He would not beg.
Her hands were on him then. A chill befell The Benefactor. “On your feet, alien.”
His shoulder aching, he bowed his head. His breaths came quick and strong. The tinkling of scampering space rats in the walls scratched at his brain. “Kill me, or release me. You have no other choice.”
Her words were like water – cold and sudden and soon to fall from memory. “I see more in you, lizard. There is potential lurking in your bones.”
“Then let me go.”
He spit blood upon her feet. “There is one person in the universe whom I care about. I’ll kill him, or I’ll die trying. Nothing else matters to me.”
The air was dusty, as tired as three-week-old snow. He had had enough of this game. Grunting, The Benefactor produced a red ball of energy between his fingertips, washing himself in heat and vibrating excitement. If only he could have seen the woman standing before him. She would kill him for this, but it was the only way.
“Who is he?”
“What does it matter?”
“Don’t tempt me, beast.”
He threw his energy blast. It dissolved in the air before it even reached Audacci. Sneering, The Benefactor lunged at her, only to be kicked up the jaw. He flew back into the same wall, banging his hurt shoulder against the blue-grey metal again.
“He’s a Saiyan boy. He did this to me,” the lizard spat boldly, gesturing to the two sunken pools of lightless ruin upon his face, “and I will make him pay. He will die for this!”
“A Saiyan.” She liked to talk as if she owned the universe. “A boy. By chance, was his hair golden?”
“The same foolhardy cretin killed my father, I’d wager.”
He had nothing to say to that.
“I want you to help me kill him,” she said. “I can sense your energy. You’re powerful… the strongest person I’ve met in years. And your energy… it’s evil. Black. Perfect for what I need.” He felt the smile spreading across her face. “You will do.”
He bristled. “I’m not your slave.”
“You’re powerful… benefactor.” She spoke awkwardly. “I would appreciate your help in this matter. It would benefit us both, I think.”
“Would it?” he sneered.
“I don’t speak lightly, benefactor.”
He was on her in the darkness, a furious explosion of black and green. He threw punches, and she matched him, blocking every advance with a fiery calmness. He went low, trying to take out her legs, but it was no use. Audacci was faster than him. And she could see.
He was thrown back, skidding across the metal floor like an acolyte. On his feet, The Benefactor threw himself at her again. His energy was black and red, strobing with passion in the low light. He threw it all at her – he unleashed everything he had. Yet, the woman caught his strikes, blocked him, and absorbed his ki. And when he faltered, when his energy ran out, she kicked him across the nose, and sent him flying again.
“Are you done?”
“Kill me,” he breathed. Though he tried to mask his ire, he could not. “Or release me. I will not play these games any longer.”
“You will obey me, lizard!” Suddenly, The Benefactor’s body rose into the air against his will. He tried to struggle, tried to break free, but it was no use. She slammed him against the wall, and he tasted blood. The tar-like texture made him gag. Crumpling into a heap in a metal crater, The Benefactor felt dust settling on his scarred face. “Are you done?”
With the last of his energy, The Benefactor threw himself at the woman one last time. Their exchange of fists was furious and too fast for anything but intuition. He felt the scrapes materialize against his scales, shallow and numerous as the stars. Though he punched, the lactic acid built in his veins, and soon he was on his knees, panting and bleeding and ready to die.
“That’s… enough!” Audacci bellowed, catching her breath. “I want you alive, benefactor. I need you.”
“To wake Sesami,” she said simply, as if he knew what the hell she was talking about. “Your energy is plenty enough for her… and it’s evil… just what I need.”
“Quiet,” Audacci snapped, hitting him with an invisible ki blast that sent him flying backwards. His mind was as empty as a frozen field. “You will aid me how I wish, or you will die. It’s your choice, lizard. You can have your pride rule you if you want. But you’ll never get revenge on that boy if you go down that path. I’ll help you kill him. I want him dead just as much as you do. He took from me more than he ever took from you. So do not doubt my fury. But if you want my help, you’re going to help me first. You owe me, benefactor. You killed my men.”
“The weak deserve their fate,” he recited stoically. Even now, he could taste the stale air upon his tongue. He spat and lowered his head, focusing on the pounding in his brain.
“Aye,” she agreed, “but that don’t change things. Help me wake Sesami from hibernation, and the kid’s yours. Refuse, and we’re done. It’s your choice, benefactor.” Again, he could sense her conjuring up ki, and this time he knew it was enough to wipe him from existence. Somehow the heat gave him a measure of comfort.
He wished he could see her. All he could feel was his aching shoulder and back, and the pulsing pain in his skull. His phantom eyes itched. He wanted to see. His fingers twitched. The Benefactor nearly created an energy blast between his claws. He nearly gave in.
Instead, he collapsed in the near-darkness. He was so cold. There were rats around him, cackling at his folly. Breathing hard, The Benefactor tried to drown them out with his voice:
“Fine. Where’s Sesami?” he exhaled harshly. “And how do we wake her?”