Brave is a one-shot that I wrote about ten days after completing Tyrant. I was beginning to form the idea before I sat down to write Brave that it would be part of a collection with Tyrant, Lionheart, and Bluestreaker, but this idea wasn't as set in stone with this story as it was with the next three Black and White collection stories. As mentioned in the Tyrant anthology page, I wanted this collection to have stories about three villains and three heroes. The decision to base a story on Tapion and Minotia just came to me a few days after Tyrant was completed. I didn't spend any time going over who would be the protagonists of this first hero one-shot. It just seemed natural to do Tapion and Minotia. I knew I wanted to show what happened to Tapion after the end of his movie, as him traveling into the past presented a few problems that the Dragon Ball universe never addressed. For one, when he returns to the past, his past self will be there, so there will be two Tapions. Obviously, that's a problem, so I didn't think Tapion could really stay in the past. He would have to come back. But what could he come back to?
That's where I started to research Minotia. There was very little information on this Konatsian on Dragon Ball wiki, so I just opted to re-watch the beginning of Wrath of the Dragon, where his only two scenes in the series come from. I used these scenes as reference to develop Minotia's character (his obsession with smiling, trying to be brave, etc). Aside from that, Wrath of the Dragon also helped me frame (and accurately write) the first section of this story, as it's basically a retelling of Minotia's death scene with added perspective.
A unique thing about this one-shot is that it is the first story that I ever wrote on google docs (since Brave, I've written most of my Dragon Ball fan fictions from docs, aside from the quasi-fictions like The Perfect Lifeform and Be a Man). At the time, I didn't have access to microsoft word (the primary application I had used to write all of my stories on), so I used google docs. I looked up a few other internet writing programs, but docs seemed to be the best. When I wrote Brave, I did not initially title it. Like with Bluestreaker, Brave's name was chosen after the story was fully written. I remember a little bit of the actual writing process. The early section was dominated by me switching back between a Wrath of the Dragon video and my document. After that first section was done, I knew that I was building up to the death scene, so I immediately looked for a song for that section. What I soon thought of (and decided on) was "Fix You" by Coldplay. Now, I don't listen to Coldplay, and I'm not much of a fan of them in general, but I had heard this song before, during the season 1 finale of the Netflix show "Derek". I loved that closing scene, and thus the song stuck with me. I already had an emotional connection to it, and putting it in this story just heightened that. I wrote this song late into the night, and finished in the early hours of the morning. I probably listened to "Fix You" dozens of times that night, trying to position it within the prose perfectly and have the text compliment it completely.
I personally found Minotia's death scene extremely heartbreaking. It's the closest I've come to crying while writing any of my Dragon Ball fan fictions (which is saying something, since I've written many an emotional scene). After I completed Brave, I immediately considered it the best one-shot I had ever written and potentially the best story I had ever written. I considered it better than In Requiem, but was less sure of how it stacked up to Spindlerun and The Forgotten. Because of this feeling, I didn't want to anthologize this page for a while, to allow myself to get some distance from the piece and be able to look at it in a more objective fashion. As of writing this, I don't know that Brave is the best one-shot I've ever written anymore. I'll address this in my self-review thoughts below.
As far as the other mechanics of the page go, I continued my minimalist philosophy from Tyrant here: no intro, no description of the upcoming story. Just my property and universe template at the top and the Black and White collection template at the end. This keeps the page cleaner and keeps focus on the actual text of the story. As for the pictures, I just wanted to try something new. Each picture helps add atmosphere to the piece, especially the last one showing Minotia smiling. Minotia smiling despite being in pain is what defines his character, what makes him brave, and that picture illustrates what he looks like when smiling. So it certainly helps. I was fortunate that there were enough pictures to use throughout this piece. For others, like Lionheart, it would be nigh impossible to add relevant pictures.
One final thing - after I completed Brave (and before writing any more one-shots), I made the page for the Black and White collection. It was this story that finally gave me the impetus to bind all of my recent one-shots together. In doing so, I decided that there would be seven stories - three about heroes, three about villains, and one about a true neutral character. I consider there to be three pairs of two in the Black and White collection, with one villain and one hero story apiece (Bluestreaker and Sleep being group 1, Lionheart and Yellow being group 2, and Tyrant and Brave being group 3). I decided to place Brave with Tyrant because of their thematic similarities. Both stories struggle with the concepts of life and death and living with oneself. In Tyrant, Frieza's story ends in a very depressing, hopeless way. Brave ends on a far more optimistic note (despite no one dying in Tyrant and Minotia dying in Brave). This is why the last image of Minotia smiling is so pivotal to this story. It shows the divide between the heroes and the villains, between Frieza and Tapion/Minotia. Minotia dies, but he's brave. Frieza lives, but he's a pitiable wretch. This striking contrast is really only seen in the context of the Black and White collection and is why I had to bind all of these one-shots together after making Brave.
The cold gripped him like a vise. It was so dark, so utterly encompassing that it drowned him in fear. Terror took him by the throat, and he could not even breathe. Smile. You can’t be scared if you smile. He tried, but his lips went numb and he felt his fingers shaking uncontrollably. A deadly flash of lightning flared across the dark sky ahead of him. Thunder followed in a raucous snarl. Only, that wasn’t thunder. Something that loud couldn’t possibly be thunder. Just smile.
He felt for his sword. Unsheathing it, he saw another flash of lightning ahead of him. Its reflection danced across his cold steel like a cool flame. He saw something ahead of him, moving in front of the breaks of lightning. It was large, swift, evil - a harbinger of death. Shivering, he looked down to his side. No! It’s gone!
Dismay and dread, horror, and doubt seized him and he fell to his knees. He felt his fingers loosen around his sword’s handle. Another flash of lightning lit up the night’s sky like an explosion. And following it was the lumbering din of an unimaginable beast. He patted his side, eyes wide and full of tears. The ocarina was gone. Smile! Don’t be a coward! Tapion wouldn’t be a coward. He would believe in me.
A loud boom rang and shards of rock and stone flung at him like daggers. He shielded his eyes and looked up just in time a dark mass hurling itself towards him. Desperately, he grabbed his sword, sheathed it, kicked off from the ground, and rolled away. The ground was so dark, he could barely see anything. He frantically looked about, this way and that, but there was no sign of his ocarina. It’s gone. I’ll have to beat him like a warrior. I have to be brave, like Tapion. Smile! The fear is weakness. I’m not weak. I’m brave.
There was a large vortex hanging over the sky just ahead of him. And in front of it was half a nightmare, the bottom section of Hirudegarn. His brother and he had defeated that monster once before, but they had been together. But now he was alone with the colossal beast, and he was scared. He shivered. Why is it so cold? He blinked and the creature was gone. He found himself breathing hard then, knowing the demon was around him. It didn’t make a sound, as huge as it was. He spun around. Where is it? How can it hide from me?
Another flash of lightning made him jump. He reached for his sword and pulled it out again. Spinning around, he narrowed his eyes, looking for any sign of the fleeting darkness that was hunting him. Then, he heard a sound, a crashing that made his ears pop and ring, and he clenched his mouth to stop himself from screaming out in agony. He was just below the vortex now. Its blue-white light shone down on his quivering visage. Then, like a tremor, he felt something move. He gasped, flung his sword to his chest, and looked up. No! It can’t be! The monster was coming out of the portal. It had tricked him. He thought it had left the portal. He saw it outside just a moment prior. Had it really been so fast that it could hide away in the blink of an eye?
A foot the size of a building came shooting out of the portal towards him like a snake striking at its prey. His body tensed up. He could not move. All he could do was let out a cry, a muffled gasp and then the foot was over him. He felt his sword slip from his hands and his body slam against the rocky ground. And then he felt nothing, save for the biting, bitter cold, swallowing him whole.
Tapion stepped out of the time machine and stretched his neck. He smiled. Bulma had been unbelievably gracious in making him the ship so that he could return to his home. He had traveled to 1000 years in the past, back when Minotia had still been alive. He only wished he could live out his remaining days in peace. No more war. No more death. Tapion left his time machine and walked into his city of birth. It was a beautiful place with massive marble buildings and statues of the heroes of his people. He briefly stopped and looked at the one of him and his brother, and a tear came to his eye. Just seeing the likeness of Minotia in the marble brought back innumerable memories as delicate and ephemeral as life itself. He wiped his eyes and then moved forward. Can’t let Minotia see me like this.
He would kill every Kashvar himself. Hirudegarn would never be summoned again. He just needed to find their homeworld. It was the solution for everything. His planet’s war council would surely know where those cowardly vermin lived. Tapion made his way to their building, which was a gigantic octagon situated at the center of the town. Climbing the steps, he noticed plenty of people milling about, laughing and conversing with one another as if life was normal. Good. I’m going to keep it that way. We won’t have to be afraid ever again. Entering the great council chambers, Tapion saw ahead of him several people standing. As he crept up on them, moving from being marble pillars, he saw that they were him and his brother. He froze.
He remembered this - it was when the great Konatsian wizard who had given Minotia and him their ocarinas and swords sealed them away in their music boxes. I’m already there, he realized. He had come back in time, but he had only just now realized that his old self would also be in the past. Of course. I’m so stupid.
He watched the wizard seal his past self and Minotia away in the music boxes. Soon, others would come to take those boxes away. He knew his past self would be sent to Earth and his brother to the other side of the universe. Not this time.
Tapion stepped forward. He saw the confusion, the disbelief play across the faces of the war council and the wizard alike. Clearly, they were shocked at his sudden appearance, for they had just watched him get sealed away.
“Tapion? H-how… wh-what… what is going on?” one managed to speak.
“We just watched you get put into that!” another said, pointing furiously to his music box.
Tapion nodded. “I’m in there, I guess. The past version of me, anyway.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m from the future,” Tapion said. The council fell into utter silence, their faces stony and cold. “I’m here to put a stop to Hirudegarn.”
“If what you say is true, then you know what we are doing here,” the wizard interjected. “This measure will prevent the monster from ever returning.”
Tapion breathed out. “No, it won’t. He will get out in the future kill many people. He killed my brother. He nearly killed me. But with the help of a couple friends, I was able to stop him.”
They stared at him like fresh corpses.
“This plan won’t work!” Tapion yelled, his voice echoing throughout the chambers. “We have to kill the Kashvar! We have to do it now! Tell me where their homeworld is, and I’ll do it myself. I won’t let anybody else die over this!”
“It is a terrible thing wage war on an entire race. Many of the Kashvar are not evil…” one council member began.
“All of us will die if I don’t do this!” Tapion spoke. “All of you, our people, even my brother!” Tapion’s eyes grew desperate at their lack of resolve. “Don’t you want to survive? Any of you?!”
The wizard stepped forward. “If we must kill millions to save billions, then so be it. What say you, councilmen?”
The others nodded and grunted in approval.
The wizard stepped forward and put a heavy hand on Tapion’s shoulder. “You know it is a grievous thing to kill innocent beings. You must live with that if you choose to do this.”
Tapion looked down at the two music boxes. “I will. And my brother will live because of it. That’s all that matters.” The wizard smiled softly, patting Tapion’s shoulder. Tapion screwed up his face. “Don’t tell my past self or my brother that I came. I don’t want them to know. Just let them be happy.”
The wizard gave Tapion his word, and the mohawked hero exited. Soon, he found himself back in the time machine, shooting off towards the Kashvar homeworld. Many of them were innocent beings. But it was for the greater good. Hoi’s ancestor was somewhere on the planet. If he did not die, countless other trillions would.
Tapion felt sad in a way. Even as he exited his time machine and threw a giant green ball of ki into the center of the Kashvar homeworld, soon watching it cause the planet to collapse in on itself and explode in a brilliantly silent blast, Tapion felt alone. It was brave, being the one to do this, he told himself, but he scarcely believed it. All he knew was that he couldn’t return to the past. There was already a Tapion in the past. And it wasn’t him. So Tapion, his heart being suffocated by the weeds of sorrow, decided to return to the present, where he knew only death and misery awaited him.
It was an ugly world, where his brother had been sent to. Grey rocks and jagged mountains that looked like broken teeth dotted the world’s surface and little else was noticeable. He landed the time machine in the valley between two such mountains, following the wizard’s instructions on where Minotia would be. He soon found craters and cracked rocks and saw the heavy, deep imprints of Hirudegarn’s footprints sunk deep in the old stone. And then, before Tapion, was the ocarina of his brother, cast aside in a corner as if it were nothing. He snatched it up and held it close to his chest. He knew he was close.
The weight of killing all those innocent Kashvar coupled with finding his brother’s corpse left Tapion anxious. His heart was beating so fast that he could hear its screaming thumping in his ears. He was even finding it hard to breathe. He had never felt like this before. What’s wrong with me? Why am I scared? I know what’s coming. I can’t be scared. I must be brave. For him.
And then, he saw it. Ahead of Tapion, in a broken bit of rocks lay his brother. Upon seeing Minotia, Tapion ran. He ran all the way up to him and then found himself kneeling over his brother’s corpse. He softly grasped the back of Minotia’s head with his hand and pulled his head towards Tapion’s own. It was then, he saw a flicker come from beneath Minotia’s eyelids.
“Minotia?” Tapion gasped.
His brother’s eyes cracked open, slowly and painfully. For a brief second, the two just stared at one another. Then Minotia spoke, his voice quiet and deliberate. “T-tapion? A-am I dead?”
Tapion felt tears coming to his eyes and he had to swallow to keep them back. “N-no, I’m here! Minotia I’m here. It’s okay. Everything will be okay.”
His brother smiled that same smile Tapion knew him so well for. Tapion couldn’t help but smile back. “I’ve missed you, Tapion. I-it’s been so long… I almost… forgot wh-what you looked like!” He grabbed onto Tapion’s arm, hard. “T-tapion… I hurt. I hurt all over,” he whimpered.
Tapion saw tears welling in his brother’s tired eyes. There were bruises and gashes with dried blood lining his face. His nose was broken, and his ribs were too, most likely. Tapion couldn’t believe he was even alive at this point. “It’s okay, Minotia. I’m going to fix you. You will be all right.”
Minotia looked up at his brother with those wide innocent eyes of his. “Did you… k-kill Hirudegarn?”
“Yeah, we got him.”
Minotia sighed, looking up to the sky. He smiled. “I want to go home. I always wanted to return home. I’ve m-missed it so much.”
“You’re home, brother. As long as you’re with me.”
“I’m so glad I got to see you again.”
“You’re going to be okay. I’ll find you somewhere where we can-”
“No, Tapion,” Minotia whispered feebly. Tapion felt Minotia’s grip on his arm tighten. “P-please, play me something on the ocarina. That’s all I want.”
Tapion sat up straight, realizing what that meant. This time, he could not hold back the tears. “No! I can fix you! I can save you!”
“Tapion, please…” his brother said in a tremulous voice.
There was nothing else to do, nothing else he could do. Minotia was barely hanging on. He saw the life flickering in his brother’s eyes like a dying flame. He could try all he wanted, but he could not fix Minotia.
So Tapion sat back and drew up Minotia’s ocarina to his mouth. He began playing, slowly at first. It was a haunting tune, the same one Minotia and he had learned to tame Hirudegarn. He remembered those times, with the great wizard. They had defeated Hirudegarn the first time together. All three of them. He remembered how Minotia had called Tapion a brave warrior, a fearless hero after the battle. He looked down at Minotia, who was still smiling up at him, even as Tapion knew his brother was in immense pain. How does he do it? How does he smile through this? Tapion could barely see, his eyes were so wet. He was no hero, no brave warrior. He was miserable. He was going to have to carry that weight. He would have to go on. And he was scared. He was so very scared. He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready to let go.
Tapion felt Minotia’s grip loosen, and then his brother’s arm fell to the ground. Tapion shuddered. His skin felt numb, his mind started swimming in despair. But he sat there still, until he had finished the song. He owed his brother that much. It was Minotia’s now, and Tapion was going to carry that weight. He was going to be brave.
No, he thought, I’m not the brave one. Minotia was braver than I ever could be.
- This is the only hero/villain story in the Black and White collection to have nothing to do with the Planet Trade Organization.
- This is the only one-shot I've written that has two different point-of-views in it.
- "The cold gripped him like a vise." - this is my favorite comparison in the story, and one of my favorite comparisons I've ever used in fiction.
- Minotia has very little character in canon aside from Tapion remarking that his brother smiled a lot. So I had Minotia smile to keep him consistent with his canon appearances. But also by explaining why Minotia smiles, I am able to develop his character.
- The entire first scene is a retelling of what happens in the opening of Wrath of the Dragon, where Minotia is stomped on. While the plot is the same, I created all of Minotia's thoughts to develop his characters and to buildup to his death later on in the third scene.
- When I originally wrote the first section of this one-shot, I had a hard time keeping track of where Hirudegarn went. Watching Wrath of the Dragon helped me navigate the scene more easily.
- In my humble opinion, Minotia is relatable here because he struggles with being brave. So many people in Dragon Ball are just brave warriors by default. Minotia has to constantly fight to be brave in his first scene, and it adds reality and sympathy to his character.
- The cold in this first scene serves multiple purposes. For one, it's a physical things, describing the setting through touch. But the cold is also Minotia's fear, that blackness swirling in his mind. So when he's hit by Hirudegarn and he feels nothing except for the cold, the prose is ambiguous as to if Minotia is just feeling the physical cold or losing his braveness and being overcome by fear.
- I mentioned this above, but I'll say it again: Wrath of the Dragon really doesn't tackle what happens to Tapion. It ends with him going back in time, but that's a huge problem, because anywhere he goes back to, a past copy of himself will exist. Tapion realizes this in the second section, which is what propels him ultimately to return back to the present time.
- The Konatsians staring at Tapion like fresh corpses is a reference to the corpses staring at Frieza in Tyrant. This is just a little easter egg, since the two stories are tied together in BW group 3.
- The Konatsian councilmen were not too important to the story, so I had their argument with Tapion be as short as possible. In terms of purpose, they exist solely as a moral argument against what Tapion is doing. I think deep down inside, Tapion agrees with them that killing all of Hoi's species is morally wrong. But at the same time, he knows he must do it. More will die if he does not. His brother will die if he does not. And that's what makes him do it. He doesn't feel like a hero. He thinks he's a murderer, a genocider. But I think this is a very brave gesture by Tapion, even if he struggles to see it that way. Tapion is sacrificing his conscience to protect the universe. He's not doing it for glory, because he didn't want the wizard to tell his past self and past brother what he's going to do. It's incredible noble, but incredibly sad at the same time.
- I never wanted the assault on the Kashvar homeworld to be described in much detail. The actual act isn't that important; it's that Tapion could come up with it and execute it that speaks about his character. Thus, having only a few short paragraphs describing his genocide is what is necessary for the sake of pacing.
- The third section of this one-shot brings together Minotia and Tapion, but it also shows how each's character has developed throughout the short piece. Both become brave in their own way in this part.
- I think it says a lot about Tapion that after he did the horrific deed to the Kashvar race, he returned to the present time, not seeking anybody out for emotional support. He just wanted to go back to his brother, to cling onto that little bit of what matters to him in the universe. He fully expected to find Minotia dead, so it took him tremendous courage to make that journey.
- I decided to only use the second half of "Fix You" because the scene didn't seem long enough for the entire song. Additionally, the early part wasn't quite right for what was going on. That outburst of guitars and drums with the second part works very well for when Tapion discovers Minotia, in my opinion.
- Minotia saying he hurts is a reference to Benjamin Carmine's death in Gears of War 2.
- The dialogue between Minotia and Tapion was hard for me to write, though I am happy with how it turned out. Tapion ends up being very much the big brother, trying to console Minotia. Minotia is very feeble and passive and very much the younger brother. Despite all of this, Minotia knows he's going to die and he has to help Tapion understand that. Minotia is wise beyond his years to be able to do that.
- Tapion says he's going to fix Minotia a few times in the last conversation. This is simply referencing the Coldplay song of the same name.
- You can see how good of a person Minotia is when he asks about Hirudegarn. Letting that monster get away clearly has wracked him with grief, so knowing that Tapion (well, Goku) was able to kill him gives Minotia relief.
- That moment when Minotia asks his brother to play him something on the ocarina gets me every time.
- Tapion remembers how Minotia had looked up to him when he plays the ocarina, and this brings back Tapion's guilt about killing the Kashvar. He realizes in that moment, that he's not as brave as Minotia. I think he feels as if he's let his brother down. But he's conflicted too, since he knows his actions have saved the past version of his brother's life.
- Minotia smiling as he dies is the development of his character. He struggles with it in section one, but as he is in excruciating pain, knowing he has no hope, he smiles anyway. He doesn't let fear take him. This was an important arc for me to tell between the first and third scenes.
- The role reversal at the end of the story is quite something. Tapion is the scared, hurt one. Minotia is the brave one. Tapion is looking up to his younger brother.
- Tapion thinking about carrying that weight is a reference to the ending quote on the last episode of Cowboy Bebop, which said "You're Gonna Carry That Weight". This is, itself, a reference to a Beatles song.
- I didn't want to have a specific description of Minotia dying. I believe his arm dropping was direct and indirect enough to convey what was happening.
- Tapion ends up thinking that Minotia was brave - which I think is true - and that he himself is not - which I don't think is true. Tapion sacrifices a lot in this story for others. One of his greatest moments to me is when he plays the ocarina for Minotia and doesn't let up even when he feels his brother's arm fall. He's got to be grieving really hard inside, but the fact that he doesn't stop then shows a lot of respect for his brother and a lot of courage and strength of mind.
I'm doing this anthology 5 months after writing this story in late June 2014. When I originally wrote this story, I thought it was possibly the best story I had ever written. Now, with perspective, I don't believe that. Right now, I think another one-shot called Yellow (click the blue "Part 37" link at the bottom of this page to see my anthology of that story) is better than Brave, not to mention The Forgotten and (maybe) others. But in my opinion, the Minotia's death scene is one of the best single scenes I've ever written (potentially the very best). The characterization of Minotia and Tapion is also something I am extremely proud of. I think that, more than anything else, shows how my ability to write one-shots has grown since the beginnings of the Brady Patrick collection. The descriptions, the prose, and the dialogue are all how I like them; I wouldn't change anything. The scene with Tapion and the wizard and councilmen is probably the weakest scene, although I don't think it's bad at all. Even in with how short it is, I would have liked it to take up less words, though I'm not entirely sure how I could have made that happen. Overall, I'm extremely happy with this story. I find the use of "Fix You" with the closing section particularly powerful, and I'm quite content with the themes I presented in this story. I'd give Brave an S.
<---- Part 35
Part 37 ---->