This was one of the first stories I decided to add to A Short-Lived Dream. I almost put it in The Heels of the Unknown, but I was unable to develop satisfactory plot details for it during the writing of that collection.
I have long felt that some kind of resolution to The Benefactor's cliffhanger in Dragon Ball: Cold Vengeance was needed, despite Destructivedisk at one point several years ago saying that he didn't think such a thing was necessary. For a while, I considered putting this in an early chapter of Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon. After thinking about it more, I decided that this story would work better as a one-shot.
With that said, there is not much that I had planned for this story before I wrote it aside from the fact that TB needed to escape Niflheim somehow. At the outset, I didn't plan on introducing Audacci in this story. Indeed, I began writing this story before deciding to add Audacci to it.
I had an idea for a sort of "evil triumvirate", similar to the Sith triumvirate of KOTOR 2, for Heart of the Dragon. I don't remember when I came up with who would be in it - this was a gradual process that slowly developed over months of thinking about villains for HOTD. From that brainstorming came the idea that I could ally Audacci, The Benefactor, and Majin Sesami together. Even after coming to that realization, it took me a while to think up the specifics for how this would unfold. As of yet, I haven't quite decided on how to introduce Majin Sesami to the group, as that will happen in Heart of the Dragon; but for Audacci and TB, I felt it would be better for them to meet earlier, to already have a plan to re-awaken Sesami at the beginning of Heart of the Dragon.
I always wanted this story to be short and abstract, to deal with a lot of things in subtle ways. This presented a problem in the writing, and indeed, this story, despite being relatively short, took me forever to write; it was immensely difficult to convey things how I wanted to, for some reason. At multiple points during the writing, I questioned whether I should discard everything and start over - that level of doubt is more than I've ever felt for any other one-shots before this one. From start to finish, this one-shot was a ten day project, which is quite absurd for something that isn't even 2500 words long.
I wrote the first six or so paragraphs in the very early hours of October 13, 2016 from 12:32 am to 1:46 am. I obviously wasn't writing with good rhythm at the time - I would write a few words or sentences, take a significant break, and come back. This was because I was drunk the whole time I was writing. Being drunk makes it harder to write in some ways, but easier in others. Obviously I wouldn't get drunk to write if I didn't think the benefits outweighed the problems. As well, I want to mention that I began this one-shot two days after finishing Not So Far, which is unusual for me. I usually spend much more time between my one-shots. In this case, writing about Ledas inspired me to do the story about The Benefactor. This is, after all, the first real look at what's coming next for TB since the completion of Cold Vengeance in 2012. That's a long time - almost five years. This is similar to how The Great Sushi-Eating Contest also showed for the first time in several years where I was taking Ledas next. Because of that, I consider this story to be a "brother" of The Great Sushi-Eating Contest.
Regardless, I wrote those opening paragraphs and then didn't touch the story again for another two and a half days. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do with the story in that time. I was afraid that Ice Age Coming would be "pointless", that the description of TB's escape was meaningless. To fix this, I added more emphasis to his hatred of Ledas driving him through the snow, literally keeping him alive and warm amongst the snowstorm he's trying to escape from.
At the same time, other techniques that later became defining characteristics of ASLD stories began to show themselves in this story. My Japanese literature class of Fall 2016 impacted me most when we discussed haiku; the sparse, plain, terse style of haiku began to be reflected in my prose in this story. Also, I tried to start making my prose a lot more subtle than before. This was also something I attempted with THOTU; I tried to take that kind of thing to the next level in this story. This kind of thing is difficult to talk about because I don't think it's appropriate to reveal so much about what I'm trying to do. But it is important to note that in this story, I began taking subtlety far more seriously. I wanted readers to work for answers, to have to come up with conclusions, to have to figure things out, moving away from the type of fiction that explains everything.
I wrote a big chunk of this story on October 15th. It took me roughly the whole day to write about another two pages of the story, which took me up to TB and Audacci talking about Ledas and Gohan. I was writing very sporadically, slowly, and without much confidence. This was a difficult story to write in all phases - conceptually, technically, tonally, thematically, and most of all, figuring out how to make this story matter to me, to be a story I felt was worth telling, was a surprising issue I spent many hours trying to find a solution to.
From 11:27 pm of October 16 to 2:15 am of October 17, I edited and changed things for what I had already written with the intent to deal with all of the above-mentioned issues. I spent the rest of the day completing the story. The first draft of Ice Age Coming, which was partially finalized, was finished at 10:35 pm on October 17th.
In the early hours of October 19th, I edited the opening part of the story again, for I was not satisfied with how it had turned out. I spent roughly two hours re-editing a section I had previously edited and deemed finalized. It is exceedingly rare for me to do something like that. I only re-edit finalized sections if I have deep concerns about the quality of the story, as was the case here.
I didn't touch Ice Age Coming again for three days. In the early hours of October 22, 2016, I once again edited the opening part, this time adding in a few entirely new paragraphs to fix the issues I had with it and to more cohesively deal with the themes I wanted to. Later in that day, I once again edited the opening part (before TB meets Audacci), and once I was satisfied with that, I quickly edited the remaining part of the story and then posted it on this site.
So as can be seen, I had significant issues with this story that required me to spend hours tinkering with it - an unusual move for me. It was the opening part I had a problem with - TB's escape from Niflheim. The part I thought would be hard (meeting with Audacci) ended up being the easier part to write, though that's not to say it was easy to write. The opening few paragraphs may seem inconsequential, I suppose, and until I re-read the story again for this anthology's endnotes, I can't say entirely why that was, for I don't remember everything that went on in this story, as I wrote it entirely while drunk. Every time I wrote or edited, I made sure to get drunk first. As such, there are details that are unclear to me now that will return to me when I re-read.
This story is one of the most significant in terms of building up to Heart of the Dragon, and in that way, it continues the theme of fanon character one-shots from The Heels of the Unknown. I made this DLC of Dragon Ball: Legacies as a way to, metaphorically-speaking, re-write Were It So Easy. I wanted to show the growth in writing between the two stories while also providing a good little tale about The Benefactor that will have future importance in a major story of mine. We'll see how successful I was. Anyways, onto the endnotes!
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?”
- The name of this story comes from a lyric in Radiohead's "Idioteque".
- Writing this story from The Benefactor's point of view proved to be challenging because he's blind. I actually forgot about that when I began writing and during my first re-write, I had to remove most references to how things look in the text. That made telling a cohesive narrative difficult.
- The opening section was originally going to be much longer, but I decided to cut it down because of TB's inability to see. Additionally, I struggled quite a bit with making the first part work how I wanted it to. It's not so hard to tell the tale of TB's escape, but that in and of itself was not noteworthy to me - just showing how he escapes Niflheim is not worthy of being a story in my opinion. There has to be weight behind the narrative to make it worth writing to me. For a long time, that was my problem. I think I dealt with that problem eventually, but who can ever really know?
- Anyone who has read TF knows that TB's scars are an important part of his character, both physically and emotionally. Even in the snowstorm, the snow melts against his flesh, which I find a little odd, considering he's a cold-blooded reptilian. Perhaps this indicates his aura is around him, heating his body.
- The insects noted in the first paragraph are the same species that Ledas does battle with in Dragon Ball: Cold Vengeance just before he leaves Niflheim. I think it's safe to assume that TB switched places in the mind prison with one of them.
- I sought to develop a more terse, haiku-like prose style in this story, in contrast to the more lavish style I used in Not So Far. This style would further develop in the rest of my one-shots in A Short-Lived Dream.
- I think it would be erroneous to compare TB to an evil force like a Majin in regards to his desire to wipe out all of the bugs. His desire to end them stems from his sense of pride and justice, not so much an inherent need to kill and destroy.
- It was important for me to establish that TB has not forgiven Ledas early on - he still wants to hunt down and kill the boy. This hate is what drives TB, what keeps him alive in the midst of the storm. Despite his power level, his biology makes him vulnerable to the cold, and so, it is literally his hate that is keeping him alive, keeping his energy burning hot enough to melt any snow or coldness that touches him. Basically, this allows for me to start foreshadowing any future confrontations between him and Ledas in Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon.
- I really like the phrase "black as ice". If I had to reduce the story to three words, those three might be the ones I'd choose.
- Because TB could not see, I had to focus on the sensations of the cold instead - mostly touch and sound, which are two senses I don't usually focus on tons when I write.
- "He wanted to see the Saiyan bleed." - rooted in this line, more so than anticipating revenge, is TB's underlying desire to see again, something that he does not confront openly in the text. He's an unreliable narrator, of course, and the fact that he does not openly confront this issue speaks to its effects on him.
- Melting snow cannot substitute for blood, alas.
- To feel nothing and to be numb to the cold are two entirely different things, or perhaps they aren't.
- "Her scent rode the frost winds." - because TB cannot see, I had to use other ways to explain the unfolding plot. In this case, I tried to play up his role as a hunter and show, from his perspective, how he catches his prey. I found exploring this idea to be more interesting because TB's blind. Of course, there are a few scenes where he's shown to be hunting in TF, but that story is not written from any character's perspective, so the way the prose is written and the words that are used (and how they are used) are significant to his characterization.
- He broke her heart indeed. I'm sure TB would understand the double meaning in that phrase, so it was an active choice to phrase the sentence like that. This kind of characterization occurs throughout the text, and I will try to refrain from bringing it up again, as it's not good if I just reveal everything little thing I'm doing. But do take care to note that this kind of characterization occurs in nearly every sentence. Word choice matters. Especially in the sparse, minimalistic style that's developing in this one-shot, every word matter, and there are no phrases, no sentences, no paragraphs that exist just because. Everything is working towards specific purposes. I'm not sure how much of that can be picked up on in one reading, but that's not the kind of stuff I generally care about. If you're willing to work at this story, and indeed all of my stories, the depth of content, hopefully, will be possible to discern.
- At several points, I felt I had to give visual descriptions of things, and in those instances, it is an omniscient narrator who is revealing those things. This is mainly seen with the descriptions of the fires in the mining camp.
- TB is a bit of a masochist. To feel pain is to experience life. To embrace pain is to embrace life. He's back. He's been in that mind prison for only a few years, but already that has felt like an eternity to him. So experiencing sensations, whether or not they are pleasurable, is the point here - he is able to feel again, and his reveling in that feeling implies that he has no plans to suicidally attack Ledas again - he's gotta have a plan to defeat the boy whom he now knows is stronger than him (at least he was the last time they fought - TB doesn't know that Ledas has gotten stronger since then from training and fighting Yuki).
- To tear out one's throat is to silence them, to annihilate their agency.
- TB could feel the heat of the steam rising from the captain's corpse.
- TB has been to Planet Frieza 001 as well as Arcose in the past. Both planets are generally colder than Niflheim, even during the summer months.
- I wonder where TB could have been headed. Surely, he was not going to Earth. I never came up with a destination for him, as I knew what was going to happen next.
- Notice how whenever TB kills someone, it's as if their death ruins them. They all fail as they die, in some way or another. Their sturdiness - indeed, their worth - is shattered as they die. Later ASLD one-shots glorified deaths a bit more in general. This would be an example of a prose style unique to TB, at least in my writings.
- "It was an endless expanse, full of passion and apathy." - lovely little line, kv, great job.
- TB knows who he is, and I do, and you should too (if you're a perceptive reader, that is).
- The overload of emotions, emotions that are more vivid than normal, is a consequence of TB being stuck in the mind prison for several years. Because he was separated from reality for so long, he's basically re-acclimating. Re-acclimating to reality is such an interesting concept to me that I essentially structured this entire story around exploring that idea.
- Old feelings are little more than memories, like fragments of dreams, especially for someone who's been reborn.
- Luckily I didn't have to physically describe Audacci. Still, it was a bit of a challenge to write out their confrontation when TB cannot see. I tried to limit the visual stimuli as much as I could, only describing how things looked when it was absolutely essential, and in this case, I deemed that Audacci's appearance did not need to be described.
- TB's opening remarks are meant to be overly aggressive. He acted in a similar way to Ledas and Vegeta when the boys first met him on Frieza's ship in TF.
- Audacci is already described as being stronger than SS2 Ledas at the end of TF, which is quite powerful - far more powerful than Bojack ever was, I think. His daughter is simply stronger than him, due to a variety of reasons, not least of which being she was never imprisoned like her father (thus giving her, in my universe at least, hundreds of more years to train and grow stronger than her father). This is the first hint of her importance, for if she is that strong, who can stop her? Certainly someone will have to in HOTD, so her role as an upcoming major villain is pretty obvious from this point.
- Audacci's personality was meant to be harsh, like TB's, but more reckless and cheeky, because she has had a space pirate upbringing. I had that decided before writing this story. Of course, as of doing this commentary, I've since written her origin story, A Flap of the Wings, and she's also appeared in several chapters of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Planet Trade Organization, where this space pirate upbringing is shown with more detail.
- Audacci's pretty arrogant to assume that anyone she comes into contact with would know her father. In fact, it's exceptionally arrogant. It shows her elitist attitude towards others, assuming everyone would know her family and all their accomplishments. Yeah, Bojack and Audacci have done some violent, newsworthy shit in the universe, but not to the scale where they should be household names that any random alien they come across would recognize.
- It's new territory having TB being berated like this. For the first time ever, really, he's being given a taste of his own medicine. To his credit, he's no coward, so he doesn't back down, but he certainly realizes the quality of his foe early on. He still makes threats and tries to maintain his psychological superiority over her with his own elitist attitude, but his lack of power prevents this from working.
- I sought to reveal a lot about Audacci's personality in her conversation with TB. I think there's a lot that can be understood about her from this story alone. Their conversation is not filler - not in the slightest. This might be one of the most important stories to read before HOTD for the readers, I think.
- TB is a hypocrite; he despises arrogance because it lessens his own agency, but this is the same tactic he's used on others a thousand times - he's even done this against Audacci in this very story!
- It is significant to me that TB has chosen to live. He could very well be suicidal due to his blindness, lack of direction, and his last defeat at the hands of Ledas. But his desire for vengeance, stemming from the pride he has in himself, is what is keeping him going. He's not willing to risk his life against Audacci because he wants to kill Ledas that badly.
- Ah, good ol' TB and his name. That was a callback to Outbreak: Paved In Blood. I haven't actually come up with his Iyxan name (or if I did in the past, I've long since forgotten it, heh), and I'm not sure if I'll ever reveal it. When I think about this, I think about Death Note, and how L's name was revealed after the series finished. That was a poor move by the author of Death Note. It cheapened the story to me, and I still sometimes think about how big of a technical literary blunder that was, so it's unlikely I'll ever reveal TB's real name. If I do, it'll be in a careful and probably indirect way, meaning that most people won't figure out what his name is, but the clues might be there. I don't know if I want to do that or not yet.
- Audacci's the first person since Frieza to hold TB in check. I like how she doesn't know who Frieza is, though. That parallels with TB never having heard of Bojack before.
- It was tricky to get TB to ally himself with Audacci. Both are prideful people, making a possible alliance between them more difficult to manage. Add into that the fact that TB doesn't socialize much at all (even when he was one of Frieza's soldiers), so he has no need to ally himself with her. He would prefer to kill Ledas by himself. He doesn't want help.
- TB doesn't want to beg, and from his POV, he's not, but I'm inclined to believe that he actually was. Is he not blinded by his pride in that spot? I'm not entirely sure. He may be unaware, or he may be deliberately lying to himself.
- "“Then you haven’t been around long.”" - while this is a perfectly reasonable assumption, I think it's rather ironic too, considering how old Audacci is (she's like over 500 years old at the time of this story).
- "Kill me, or release me." - that line is a reference to this.
- Audacci fills a role very similar to Frieza in Outbreak. She's more of a space pirate, though. Overall, she has more personality than Frieza did in Outbreak so I could have them converse for longer. Their conversation is essentially the whole one-shot. I rarely have conversation scenes in my stories, especially shorter one-shots, that are as long as the one between Audacci and TB here.
- Audacci mistakes Ledas for teen Gohan. This is partially why the two of them team up. They won't realize the folly of this assumption until Heart of the Dragon. It's still a cool comparison though. To me personally, Ledas is a far better character than Gohan, and I'll not apologize for that opinion. It's not close to me - Gohan's not a very well-written character in general. But the comparisons of the two Saiyans go beyond petty stuff like that and was primarily put in for other reasons that I'll not name here ;).
- The themes of darkness, coldness, emptiness, blackness, and evil are themes that recur throughout A Short-Lived Dream, perhaps most prominently in A Flap of the Wings.
- I like how TB knows the color of his energy despite his blindness. He has a feel for the different types of energy, and he would of course know his primarily techniques by heart and wouldn't have to see them to know what they would look like.
- "“Are you done?”/“Never.”" - this exchange sums up one of the most important aspects of TB's character, at least to me. I find his perseverence and robotic-like will to succeed to be a highlight of his character.
- It was fun to introduce major plot points like Sesami into the story as I did. Sesami comes from From Magic to Monsters, a story about the history of many different Majins, both the artificial kind created by Bibidi, and "True" Majins, such as Sesami and Buu. In that story, Sesami was one of the few Majins to survive (the only other being Majin Jaduu, though he was an artificial Majin and therefore much weaker than Sesami). I had always planned on taking at least one Majin from that story to use in Heart of the Dragon. I wasn't entirely sure until relatively recently if that would be Sesami or Jaduu. It's going to be Sesami, although Jaduu may appear in some capacity as well. Sesami, being a Majin, has the potential to become a recolor of Majin Buu. I plan to make her different enough from him so as to be wholly unique - I think I was well on my way to that endpoint with how I portrayed her in FMTM, but that's just my own opinion on how things went.
- "The weak deserve their fate" - I believe TB has said this in TF at some point. I vaguely remember scouring through TF to pull a few lines and re-use them here.
- The change in argumentative tactics Audacci uses is interesting. She goes from practically begging TB to join her to threatening to kill him. She does this only after she reveals enough of her plan to him to entice him. He doesn't want to serve her, but he begins to understand how she can help him. The debt he owes her from killing her men is extremely significant in the forging of their alliance, more so than any arguments either one of them makes. Actions speak louder than words, after all.
- Notice that Audacci never states why she needs to wake Sesami - not to us, not to TB. This will become clearer in Heart of the Dragon. I expect in one of the early chapters, I'll show them waking Sesami, and Audacci's ambitions will be revealed with more clarity at that point. This was far too early of a point to reveal all of Audacci's plans for HOTD.
- TB embraces the cold, but he's astute enough to recognize that heat can comfort him too. He used this to great effect in the beginning, when his hate kept him from freezing to death. There's a subtle parallel with heat right at the end, though why TB is feeling comfort is entirely different in both scenes.
- We all want to see, TB, but we have to wait and work for it and be worthy.
- I re-wrote the final line of this story while doing this anthology because the original line was terrible and I simply couldn't allow it to remain as it was. The ending was simply meant to build up to HOTD, to serve as a prologue for TB and Audacci in that regard. As it turns out, I wrote a little further into the timeline for both of them, in A Flap of the Wings, but we'll get to that in a later anthology.
Decent little tale here. I find the prose style itself to be the most memorable thing to me. I really like the prose here, and exploring a story with a blind character was a fun challenge. This is a story I've meant to write since 2012, and I'm glad I waited long enough to come up with Audacci before writing it. I'd give this one a good ol' A.
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