It was a miserable, horrible, rotten day. Grand Uncle Icer had just been proclaimed the next Emperor of the Planet Trade Organization, and she had been dragged to Lipanto with Kirka and some of her governors to witness it. On top of it all, Uncle Icer had humiliated her in front of the officers. Sure, she had risen in rebellion following Uncle Cooler’s death, but so had Kuriza. Her grand uncle hadn’t humiliated him in front of the soldiers. She fantasized about standing over the man as he gasped for life and bled out at her feet.
Kirka had left her. The party was getting underway, and the walls were already shaking with the repetitive bass of synthetic and energetic music which she did not find very appealing. Eventually, her cousin popped up out of the crowds of officers, his modest plate of cake and other sweets following him through the air. The young Arcosian was almost as sour as her.
It was almost funny, how cruel a joke this was. Not long ago, she and Kuriza had fought for the sake of claiming the imperial throne, and Kuriza had won that duel fairly, loathe as she was to admit it. And then Icer had beat him down in a stunning show of force. Neither one of them had expected him to be so powerful. Indeed, nobody had. Their grand uncle had hidden his true strength until that moment. Clever as that strategy had been, it hurt knowing she was the third strongest in their family. Hail and Polaria, her grand uncle’s twin daughters, were powerful warriors in their own right, but they didn’t compare to the half-Saiyan, half-Arcosian, nor to the son of Frieza, who was by all accounts the greatest living prodigy in the royal family. Kuriza might not have been as talented as his father, yet he had put in more effort, it seemed, through training, education, and a greater sense of desperation than his father ever had. He was also not nearly as cruel as Frieza, and for that reason, he could be manipulated in battle.
She still couldn’t believe he had beaten her. It stung. Perhaps it stung worse for him, knowing that for one fleeting moment he had been the unquestioned emperor of their entire empire. Only then had Uncle Icer appeared and reminded everyone of how strong members of this family really could be. She knew with Uncle Arcterial dead, and now her own father gone, Uncle Icer was the only veteran member of the royal family remaining. He was the last of the old guard; it made sense that he was her superior in battle. Still though, that didn’t make her feel any better.
The boy dug into his cake first. “I thought you were supposed to go back to your region. That’s what Uncle Icer said. It would be most unwise to disobey him, cousin.”
“Oh, quiet. He left already, and I’m hungry. Kirka is too. I’ll eat if I want to. I’m no slave.”
The boy grinned lightly, looking away, burying his smile in a sweet treat. “How does it feel, by the way? I never had the chance to ask.”
“Like it felt last time.”
He cocked his head, confusion plaguing his face. “Wha… what are you on about? I am speaking of losing your father, you imbecile. We’ve never had the chance to talk about it. I assume this is the first time for you. Yes, as for me, I know all too well how it feels.”
His father Frieza had died a little more than two years before her father, Emperor Nitro. Again, it was a cute little fact, but in recounting it, she felt nothing except hollow rage. She was so, so tired after having been put in front of those people and mocked, and now, if not for the food, she would have done nothing more than crawl into her spaceship and sleep all the way back to Planet Nitro 001, hoping to forget this day.
Kirka was hitting on one of Icer’s governors–a squat Sobren girl with a plain yellow face. She almost had to laugh. He was half her size.
“Yuki, don’t be glum. I am sorry about your father. Truly.”
“I don’t believe you mean it.”
“That sounds like a ‘you’ problem,” Kuriza said with a shrug as he finished off his cake.
They sat in silence for a little bit. Kirka returned with a plate of food, eyeing the prince. She didn’t say a word to him, so the little Ocaran simply dropped off her plate and ran back to the party, hardly hiding his excitement. She sighed audibly, catching Kuriza’s attention. The boy’s tail flicked back and forth. Ahead, they noticed Icer had returned to the party, as he was talking to several members of his staff–Garish Ureigo, Governor Ran Thembii, and Fleet Admiral Jahu. They were laughing and drinking wine carelessly.
“It was barbarous for Uncle Icer to leave you out of the line of succession.”
She tried not to let the ire color her face. That was nigh impossible. “So be it.”
“Our family is much smaller now. Ever since Grandpa Cold went to Earth with my father… and then Uncle Cooler followed them… well, there aren’t many of us left. Yuki, you are my cousin, regardless of what we’ve been through.”
She eyed him somewhat lazily. His line of reasoning was not entirely reasonable, so she struggled to believe him. “You’re just saying that.”
He looked away again. “Sure, okay, cousin.”
“Uncle Icer is fiercer than Grandpa Cold or Uncle Arcterial ever were. We could never have known it until now, however. He kept his dominance hidden while they lived. I do not know why, but I do know he’s the strongest one remaining. Even my father would pale in comparison to what Uncle Icer’s become. We must follow him loyally, no matter what he says or does. I believe it is in our best interest to remain in his favor.”
“You would think that.”
“It is not easy to lose your father,” Kuriza told her. “I still miss mine. All we can do now is bide our time. We must mature, both of us, if we are to survive in this new situation. That and continue to train. I will prioritize training, myself. It will take many years before we can catch up to Uncle Icer. Still, we must start somewhere.”
“The Mrovians will pay for killing mine. You must go to Earth to avenge your father and Uncle Cooler and Grandpa Cold all.”
“Why won’t you?”
“You beat me the last time we fought. You’re stronger. Vengeance is in your hands, Kuriza.”
“Perhaps not as strong as my father, nor yours. I require much more training before I would consider traveling to Earth. That journey is many years away for me, I fear.”
“That’s one of the reasons I haven’t attacked the Mrovians. One of them was somehow strong enough to kill my father. I don’t even know exactly how strong he was. He never showed me his full power. It’s maddening. If only he had, I would have some sense of how much stronger I need to become. I’m in the dark, Kuriza. I have no idea how close I am to being ready. And, I mean, I know where one Mrovian outpost is, but what does that matter? I can’t start a war with them yet.”
“I say get as strong as you can before you go, or you’ll make the same mistake he did. Uncle Icer promised to train me once I’ve cleared all the pirates and insubordinates from my territory. That will be a big help if we’re gonna…,” he said, lowering his voice and leaning in, “you know, take him out.”
Her eyes went wide. “Kuriza, shut up! Are you mental?!”
Thankfully, no one was around to listen in, or so she hoped. The boy was unperturbed. “Hey, he’s a cunt.”
She couldn’t help but smirk.
A pair of officers walked by, sipping from nearly-empty glasses. Drunk as he was, the Faerin said too loudly, “She’s even uglier when she smiles, oh look at her! What an abomination! I can’t believe Nitro thought that was a good idea.”
“Imagine waking up next to that in the morning. Gah!” the Torrnan officer guffawed.
They were recklessly obnoxious enough for the royal orphans to hear. The two exchanged a look. Kuriza got to his feet. Her eyes found Kirka, who was watching her from across the room, down on the first floor. His Sobren mistress was nowhere to be seen. Above them, on the balcony, Icer was continuing to hold court with a multitude of officers. Every few seconds, they erupted in unnaturally raucous and uncontrollable laughter (which faded to silence again within moments). Yuki apologized with her eyes to the Ocaran. She wasn’t supposed to be here. Her cunt of a grand uncle had ordered her back to her region without so much as including her in his line of succession, despite her loyalty. What had Kuriza done that she hadn’t?
She knew the answer. Her fingernails dug into her palms. Following the prince and those men out the door, she turned off her scouter, lest anyone else hear.
So the story goes that Governor Kabuso and Governor Orze went to the restroom that day, and there were no witnesses as they were brutally mauled to death inside two separate stalls, their blood painting the space toilets indigo and crimson respectively. It was horrible for whoever had to clean that up–any self-respecting janitor would have quit before dealing with that mess. Brain matter and bones were splattered across the walls and floor; it was, to put it lightly, just a little bit vile.
Kuriza and Yuki never spoke of it, not even in the moment, though ever since that day, she thought better of him than she had before, and he likely thought the same of her.
The unsolved murders of Governors Kabuso and Orze haunted Lipanto for years. Suffice it to say, there weren’t any witnesses, and though each governor shit his pants, and each one attempted to scream, they both got their faces blown apart by Death Beams when they tried to call for help. That silly mistake meant they ruined any chance they had at open-casket funerals. That was all on them, and knowing that made Yuki proud.
Even better was the fact that their deaths ruined Uncle Icer’s big party. The ‘Golden Emperor’, as he liked to be called, was furious for many days after, and some said all he did for a week was delegate people to find the killer while drinking alone in his palace. Whether or not that was true, Yuki never knew for certain, but it was slanderous, so she tended to give it the benefit of the doubt and believe it, because, of course, the alternative was far more boring.