Much like Bluestreaker, Lionheart was a spur-of-the-moment one-shot written on April 27, 2014. Also like Bluestreaker, Lionheart was written directly after an episode of Game of Thrones season 4. I was highly inspired by the Game of Thrones episode, so I spent a good deal of time writing this story. I had school the next day, but I kept writing Lionheart late into the night because I didn't want to lose my inspiration. I dislike taking breaks in writing - especially with a one-shot, I like to write it all in one go. So I was exhausted by the time I was done and I went to sleep as soon as I posted the story. Unlike with Bluestreaker, I had come up with Lionheart's name before I even sat down to write the story.
I chose to write about Nappa simply because he is someone I had never written about before (from his own point-of-view) and he's a cool character. His story was chosen because I wanted to talk about his reaction to the Genocide of the Saiyans. Previously, I had explored Vegeta's own coping in Dragon Ball Z: The Forgotten and Strength, and I had even taken quite a bit of time to look at Ledas' coping with the Genocide in The Forgotten, but I had never talked about the only other (notable) Saiyan's reaction. So it had to be about Nappa. Because Nappa is who he is, he cannot express emotions in the normal way. Like Vegeta, he has to conceal them. Unlike Vegeta, he is a volatile, angry individual, so I thought it would be very natural for him to vent his sadness and anger during a mission to conquer a planet for Frieza. Like Burter, he is coping with grief the way a warrior does, however unlike Burter, he finds no solace at the end of his release. Instead, he finds the cold reality of the world. And he doesn't break down and cry, because Nappa is not weak. He is a lionhearted individual.
By the time I wrote this story, I was considering making it and Bluestreaker part of a new short story collection. I held off on the notion at this point because I had so many active stories and I didn't need another one. I didn't have too much worked out at this point. I thought I might do something with seven total stories - 3 good guys, 3 bad guys, and Shenron - but I wasn't totally certain. I know I talked to Destructivedisk about it, but he didn't give me much advice either way. I was considering adding Derelict to the collection as well so I would only have to write four more stories (instead of five) and since Derelict was my only one-shot at the time which was not part of a larger collection. However, I did not end up making Lionheart, Bluestreaker, and Derelict a part of a collection when I posted this story. I did have the core idea for The Black and White Collection by this point, though.
“Stand back, Vegeta”, Nappa shouted.
The hulking brute jumped forward, flinging a handful of white energy matter ahead of him. It exploded brilliantly, briefly silhouetting the behemoth of a Saiyan in its all-encompassing wake. When it cleared, the ground was burnt to atramentous ruin, and carcasses littered the vapored land like shards of broken glass. Nappa stood amongst it all, breathing heavily and frowning.
“Come on, Nappa. This is boring. Lord Frieza wants us to hurry up,” Vegeta said after some time. The gall of his voice exuded impatience as much as it did arrogance.
“Shut up, prince. Just let me do this,” was the larger Saiyan’s only reply.
The princeling was taken aback, he could tell. Nappa had never disrespected Vegeta so openly, and surely, Vegeta wasn’t taking it well. Nappa didn’t care. He didn’t so much as look at the small boy flouting his arrogance and childish pride behind him. Nappa stepped forward, the light of the planet’s sun shining off of his armor in robust crispness. He looked up and saw a fortress towering over the landscape but a few miles ahead. It was as stygian as it was foul, and when Nappa saw it, his face grew red and hot. He gritted his teeth together and seethed uneven, ragged breaths. Then, he suddenly pushed off from the ground with such force that he left a crater in his wake. By the time the dust had cleared from that, he was already on fast approach to the great fortress.
It was an ugly thing, Nappa thought. Its high, pointed walls, its numerous misshapen skyscrapers, its dull, smog-filled atmosphere reminded him of home. He grit his teeth again and sneered. This was no devilish grin, no happily evil expression. Nappa’s face with rife with rage. He started pelting the metropolis with his most powerful energy attacks.
The buildings exploded, bodies were flung about in ragdollish lifelessness, and screams punctured the constant explosions like a well-choreographed chorus. With each explosion, Nappa slammed his teeth together harder still. He thrust his hands forward with more force. His face contracted into a fiercer and fiercer gaze of hateful ire. He did not delight in the mayhem he was causing. But he craved for it to never end.
Nappa descended to the ground, landing in a moderately-sized pothole which he had created himself. Beings ran around him in terror and mindless paranoia. He ended their sad, miserable lives with the flick of his wrists. The carnage soon overtook Nappa, and the sunlight, which had been shining on him and providing his visage with a polished, scintillating glow, was lost. He was neck-deep in the shit; the clouded, sooty destruction he had unleashed upon the city was now consuming it like a swarm of locusts.
Then came to the giant the planet’s defense force. He had not seen them on his scouter – so consumed with ravenous slaughter was he that only when their forces started shooting their energy blasters at him did Nappa turn his attention towards his own survival.
Nappa yelled, baring his teeth like a rabid dog. Out of his spumescent mouth came a vicious beam of energy. It tore a swath through the aliens, knocking them away like blades of grass from a weed-whacker’s grasp. Then, the warrior leapt forward with feline-like deftness. He coated his hands in burning white ki, and with every punch, he ripped limbs and flesh from anyone who was unfortunate enough to get near to him. He tore heads from their necks, split torsos in half, snapped appendages as if they were wood, and caused his victims’ blood to spray everywhere. He coated himself in the sanguine of his enemies, bathing in their mortality with grim enmity and a deathly hunger. Their screams all melded into one constant, re-occurring voice that was soon his own, though he knew not why he heard it so.
Growling, Nappa pushed the soldiers away from him. He blinked furiously in the inky, ebon area around him. The soldiers stood on the edge of light and dark, where their figures were gigantic and monstrous. But when he threw a refulgent ki blast at them, they shrunk to normal size and disappointed Nappa in their insignificance.
The visibility soon betrayed the great Saiyan. For as he picked off stragglers on the edge of sight, the majority of the soldiers disappeared altogether. Nappa was an impatient beast, and in his state, he could not tolerate such cowardice. He threw himself forward, and it was directly into a trap. There, the remainder of the defense forces were grouped together. One of them at the head of the troop let out a shout that sounded like a wheeze and a choke. Then, the others fired their blasters simultaneously. Nappa gasped, stopping his momentum and putting up his arms to block the attacks. Yet, they collided with him like rainwater hitting pavement. For a moment, Nappa hollered, and then he was swallowed up by so much energy and smoke that his voice was lost amongst it all. For some time, there was silence, save for the whist that was the constant stream of energy from the soldiers’ blasters to Nappa’s body. Once their batteries had run dry, the soldiers dropped their weapons and looked on with frightful trepidation, for they knew not if Nappa was still alive.
It was then that, like a savage wind from the north, Nappa flew forward from the dust cloud. He landed right in front of the soldier at the head of the pack and picked him up by the face. With a low roar, Nappa placed his other hand on the back of the alien’s head and then pulled his hands apart from one another. The alien screamed a muffled yell under Nappa’s huge palm, but it soon died away as the creature’s head split in half. Blood poured out, and its brain fell like a stone into an empty river. The others watched this, too horrified to move or make a sound. Nappa was bloody, his face bruised and burnt. His armor was chipped and cracked, his clothes ragged and torn. But he seemed unaffected. The pain he felt, he did not express. The only thing he could emote was rage.
Nappa screamed, then raised two fingers. Still screaming, he thrust the fingers to the sky. At once, a white energy attack exploded at the feet of the soldiers, instantly incinerating them. Once the light from his attack died down, Nappa saw that there was nothing left. No aliens, no city, no darkness. He dropped to one knee and started panting.
Nappa felt the sun on him again, though he guessed that it did not make him look as lustrous as before. He didn’t care. They were gone. They were all dead. That was all that mattered.
The beast of a Saiyan looked up as he saw the prince land next to him. The boy had his arms crossed and his face much the same. Nappa knew the boy had watched him take out the city. Though Vegeta would never show it, he was surely shocked at what Nappa had just did. Being covered in blood and dirt and withstanding that last attack like he had, Nappa shouldn’t even be alive, let alone kneeling there calmly. Vegeta was surely envious of his endurance and power. Surely.
“Hmph, look at you, Nappa,” he began. “You almost let a bunch of weaklings kill you. You’re an embarrassment. Out of all the Saiyans, why did I have to be left with you?! You’re going to ruin our reputation as the greatest warrior race in the galaxy!”
Nappa looked back down, shielding his eyes from the sun’s rays. He looked once again to the energy-scorched ground, and found it dark as death. “Sure, prince. Whatever ya say.”
“Come on, let’s get going. Lord Frieza’ll want to know the planet’s cleared,” Vegeta whined to him.
Nappa wanted to call him a brat; he wanted to punch that smug smile off the boy’s face. But he had neither the strength or will to do either. So he nodded and followed his prince back to their pods. Before he stepped inside, Nappa once more looked up to the starless sky where the sun hung. It was bright, hot, unforgiving, like the one on his homeplanet had been. But he would never see that sun again, he thought. Nappa bowed his head and stepped into his pod.
It had been three days since the destruction of Planet Vegeta.
- I had fun with using a bunch of different words for black in this story. Atramentous and ebon are a few examples of synonyms I used.
- There is a clear dichotomy between light and dark throughout this story. In the beginning, Nappa is surrounded by white light and he burns the ground to a black crisp. These kinds of contrasts happen throughout the story. The light of the sun, the darkness of the city, and the colors of the attacks all play into this completely on purpose. It's the most important theme of the story, in my opinion, though as to what the light and dark represent as the story progresses, I cannot say. You'll have to find that out as you read! Worthy of mentioning, however, is the fact that Nappa is clothed in light and darkness both during this story, and he also creates both at different times.
- The opening dialogue between Vegeta and Nappa was really fun to write because I usually do these scenes from Vegeta's perspective, portraying Nappa as a stupid, slow oaf. Here, Nappa is a Saiyan with a purpose and Vegeta is the whiny annoying brat in the corner. This shows the bias each one of them has towards the other when reading from their perspectives.
- Nappa grinding his teeth so much is a reference to Stannis Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire, who does the same thing.
- Nappa is portrayed as a rabid dog, someone who is vicious and terrible because it shows him in his raw state. He's emotional, he's powerful, and he's bloodthirsty.
- Nappa coating himself in the blood of his enemies is him reaching his mental breaking point. It's gruesome, but he's also a gruesome individual.
- Nappa survives the large blast from the aliens because he's running on so much adrenaline. I'm sure he felt it the next morning, though.
- The brutal execution of the alien was written to show just how hurting Nappa is. He is so sad, so angry, that he's literally tearing beings apart with his bare hands, which is something he wouldn't normally do.
- Vegeta insulting Nappa after his great battle is so typical of Vegeta, and shatters Nappa's notion that he had just done something impressive. It forces the story to end on a sour note instead of a noble one. Much of the story was focused on Nappa's strength and his victory, and Vegeta serves to undo all of that.
- Nappa ends the story giving in to Vegeta. He's too weak and tired to go against his prince. Of course, in his later canon appearances, he does lament this and try to attack Vegeta.
- The destruction of Planet Vegeta being the impetus for Nappa's rampage is revealed only on the last line, but it's heavily implied throughout the story, especially when Nappa notices the planet's sun is much like Planet Vegeta's.
- Of course, that comparison with the planet's sun only adds more meaning to the sun's light shining on Nappa and making him look his best.
Lionheart is one of my favorite stories I've written. I really enjoyed writing a scene with Nappa and Vegeta from Nappa's perspective. Their dialogue sections reminded me quite a bit of their appearances in The Forgotten. The writing is also some of my best. I am completely happy with all of the wordings and descriptions. I use plenty of words in ways that I find pleasurable to read. The use of themes was also a subtle bit that I liked. The themes on the colors is really wuxia-like, but this story isn't a wuxia-type at all. I thought I was highly successful using an element of one genre in another. That this was ultimately about Nappa's grief about his homeworld's destruction gives greater meaning to Nappa's actions. His helplessness is palpable, particularly when standing up to Vegeta or trying to be a difference-maker in the universe. Even through it all, he holds his ferocity and his courage, and that's why he's a lionheart. I'd give Lionheart an S.
<---- Part 31
Part 33 ---->