This one-shot came to me as one of the earlier ideas for Vöntun. I needed to explain how Rikyu and Nishi Jr. are on Lipanto during the first saga of Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon. This story shows how that happened. Originally, Nishi was to be Rikyu's father, but during plotting of Old Nishi, I came to the conclusion that he would simply be too old to be in HOTD. Thus, Nishi Jr. was born. Nishi Jr. of course also appears near the end of His Majesty's Pet during a side-plot featuring Dodoria. When I wrote that out about six months before this story, I was already thinking about how there had to be three generations of Namekians involved, not two.
Anyways, this is the second oldest story in Vöntun, despite being the fourth published. I began working on it on February 22, 2018, two days after finishing the first draft for Appetent Justice. I only wrote a paragraph and a half that day, though. The next day, however, I completed the first scene. On the 24th, I wrote the first line of the second scene. On the 25th, an hour and a half after publishing Appetent Justice to the wiki, I wrote another line or so of the second scene. Shortly afterwards, I switched over to The Naptime Championships. The second scene was the hardest part of this story. Coming up with exactly how the outlaws get to Namek and start harassing the Namekians was not an easy plot point for me to resolve. I ended up completely finishing The Naptime Championships before returning to this story.
Afterwards, I briefly considered moving back to Old Nishi. But I was still not satisfied with what I had come up with for the Galactrix strongmen. Instead, I moved on to Really Big Scary Monsters. Like The Naptime Championships, that story was completed in only a few days. On March 2, 2018, only seven minutes after posting Really Big Scary Monsters to the wiki, I finished the first paragraph of the second scene. I knew I could have moved on to He Needs Some Space Milk, but I didn't want to procrastinate on this story any longer. I had had enough time to think things through. That would be the only work I did on Old Nishi that day, but I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, which was a good sign.
I began working on this story again on March 5th. I don't remember why there was a three day delay. School might've been a factor. In any case, I wrote out the entirety of the remainder of the story that day. I wrote from 8:38 pm to 10:14 pm. The writing went very quickly. I don't exactly remember writing this, but I'm fairly certain that, as I had been going through the previous Vöntun one-shots, I had been thinking a lot about this one, and thus when it finally came time to write it, I knew exactly where I was taking the plot.
I was eager to get this one done and dusted, so I began editing at 10:50 pm, about thirty minutes after completing the story. I finished the editing at 12:46 am on March 6th and posted it to the wiki shortly afterwards. I did not take any breaks while editing, so that took about two hours straight to get through. There were a fair bit of changes made during the editing phase, particularly in the second half of the story. The first two sections were not changed much from the original draft.
There is not much else to say about this one. It's in the "now" trio of Vöntun one-shots for a similar reason that The Naptime Championships is. It's an old tale, probably passed down from Nishi Jr. to Rikyu. The "now" aspect is not entirely about irony, but more along the lines of "people never die if we remember their stories". Like Really Big Scary Monsters, this is a plot-driven one-shot, less focused on thematic content. The characterization of Nishi was the main focus, aside from the plot. I don't expect this one to have a lot of endnotes as a result. We shall see.
A long, long time ago, in the days before the great and terrible climate shift that brought the Namekian species to the brink of extinction, Planet Namek was under attack.
At that time, the Namekians were sophisticated and technologically advanced, capable of interplanetary travel and trade, and were well-known as ajisa sellers in the various galactic markets. While they were a robust civilization, they were little feared. Warrior-type Namekians, even in those days, were rare. Super Nameks were even more uncommon. For these reasons, their planet was periodically assaulted by space pirates and wandering tyrants and mindless space monsters. Often this was due to the legend of the Dragon Balls, making Namek a hotspot for those who would do anything and everything to fulfill their most desired wishes.
Despite this fact, Namek had not been wiped out; its native species had not been annihilated. Even though the mighty warrior-types were infrequently born, the more commonly-encountered Dragon Clan was full of powerful members in its own right, capable of wielding ki and magic on par with (and in many cases eclipsing) the mighty space warriors of that time.
Yet in the Age 260, a mere year before Namek’s extinction-level event would occur, another, less remembered plague tore a swath through that peaceful world. Some say it was the ajisa plants that had been poisoned by some off-world alien, jealous of the wealth of Namek. Others have stated that the infectious disease had originated from an alien who had come to the planet in order to use its Dragon Balls, having been defeated only by the combined efforts of several strong warriors merely a few weeks before.
Still others believed that it was punishment from the heavens above for their misuse of the Dragon Balls, for in those times, the Namekians had used their sacred artifacts to gain not only prosperity and harmony and peace amongst their communities, but technology and space ships and all sorts of trifling possessions that demeaned their hallowed purpose. Indeed, when old Miyairi, their Grand Elder, succumbed to the skin-eating disease and the Dragon Balls turned to stone, there were few Namekians who did not believe this to be true.
Perhaps forty percent of the population was killed by the plague, but eventually it disappeared, Namekians stopped dying off by the score, and a new Grand Elder was selected. Entire towns had been abandoned, and the Namekian people became much less happy, much less sociable, and their fear of the unknown compelled many of them to give up galactic trading, although doing such was not banned.
The Grand Elder had yet to create a new set of Dragon Balls.
The plague had targeted the young and the fit and strong, and so much of the Namekian population was now comprised of older members of the Dragon Clan, many of them too advanced in age to properly wield magic with any potency. Their species was at its most vulnerable point, perhaps. Not since the Saiyan Empire of several thousand years ago had attempted to conquer Namek (and failed, only due to the elders using the Dragon Balls to crush their fleet in orbit) had the species been so close to disappearing.
The last of Miyairi’s children was named Nishi. He was four years old, being one of the youngest living Namekians at that time. A member of the Dragon Clan, he served as the new Grand Elder’s steward (his father’s dying wish), perhaps not the most noble of jobs, but one that allowed him to learn the ancient skills and abilities of his species all the same. He was taught many arcane techniques as he cared for the Grand Elder, and was taught additionally by other elders with the intent that one day, perhaps, he could become the next Grand Elder should he prove to be wise and deliberate and calm under pressure.
None of them had hoped, however, that he would need to showcase his talents so soon, but the universe is an unpredictable place. The only thing that is certain is that the strong prey upon the weak, and right about now, Namek was languishing like a wounded animal, bleeding out for all the universe to see. It would not be long before the most ravenous murderers and thieves would make their move.
The intergalactic gladiator circuit known as the Galactrix Arena was in its death throws in the Age 260. Prior to being successfully revived several centuries later by the famed businessman Erakhi Muqhat, in this period of time, the commercialized gladiator pits were a realm of chaos and anarchy and blood, where only the fiercest of warriors could rise into prominence. This was an especially cruel form of genetic culling, and it was precisely responsible for the genocidal tendencies of the quartet of runaway gladiators who found their way to Planet Namek.
They were four particularly rotten individuals of a kill team that had crushed all competition in route to winning the Shearbone League. Their masters were delusional and weak, and during the trophy presentation ceremony, they stepped into the ring with the four barbarians and were butchered without second thought before a moderate crowd of cheering supporters. Before anyone could contain them, the league winners escaped, killing any guards they came across, as well as over half of the spectators who had been watching, for no other reason than they had wanted to.
The leader of this group, Kotats, Demonborn, was a corrupted Namekian, having been sent from his homeworld at a young age due to the evilness the elders sensed polluting his body. Rather than murder the baby, they believed it less morally repugnant to simply send him away, effectively washing their hands clean of the mistake he was. Yet, the elders’ sense of morality was as putrid a thing as that dark Namekian, for in the end, he went on to kill millions of innocent beings, and is not their blood the responsibility of those Namekians who turned a blind eye to evil, hoping that it would disappear on its own, rather than invest the effort and courage to confront it themselves?
So now had the evil returned, and he had three well-groomed companions with him, each stronger than the most powerful warrior-type Namekian alive at the time. They were nothing to Kotats but a means to an end–he would use them to find the Dragon Balls, but they were never meant to get his wishes.
They came upon Namek without warning, razing town after town, killing hundreds, before a coalition of Dragon Clan members gathered to stop them. Their magic was strong–stronger than Kotats had anticipated. They vaporized one of his companions, a horned, red-skinned beast named Kuughoi, Back-Breaker.
Upon seeing this, Kotats’ wrath became terrible and absolute, and he destroyed the elders and warriors one by one until none remained to oppose him. The planet had changed since the great plague, and he was unfamiliar with it now. Kotats knew not where the Grand Elder presently resided (for the town that he had previously resided in had been burned to the ground for fear of the plague spreading further). He ordered his two remaining soldiers to split off and go looking for the Dragon Balls. If they found them, they were to shoot a flare into the sky to alert him.
The evil in Kotats was beyond anything Namek had experienced before. Not only was he merciless and thorough in his destruction, but with every murder, he was committing a deeply profane crime. It is a different thing for one to kill a member of their family, than, say, a stranger. Both are evil deeds, but one requires a much deeper sense of depravity. Kotats was unleashed. He destroyed more than a dozen Namekian towns, leaving nothing behind but ajisa dust, and amidst it all, he felt nothing but contempt for those who had turned their backs to him.
Who were they to send him away? He had become a slave for that reason; he had been imprisoned by greedy men who had wanted to watch him fight, had wanted him to win them money. It was a filthy, disgusting, greedy evil that had ensared him, and so he knew he had to retaliate against those who had given him up. He was not there simply to gather the Dragon Balls and make his wish. He wanted to kill every one of his kin. Not one of them would escape his reach. He desired to watch them die screaming, begging, crying, especially the elders. Arrogant fools deserved no less of a humiliation.
While the bloodthirsty demon continued his rampage, his lackeys split off in their search for the ultimate prize. It was in this moment that Nishi, lastborn, was confronted.
The young Namekian had been practicing outside the Grand Elder’s hut when he felt it. He didn’t know exactly what it was that he felt, but it was a deep, pressing feeling in his chest, enough to take his breath away.
The old man’s wrinkles cut deep through his furrowed brow. “You feel it too, don’t you, Nishi?”
“Grand Elder… what is it? What’s going on?”
“A great evil has returned… We thought… but no, nevermind. Please, return to your training, Nishi.”
“Grand Elder… I…” He swallowed, the feeling of dread not leaving his throat. The boy’s antennae were twitching beyond his control. “Are th-they… dying?”
He was still for a long time. Then, as if in concession, the old man nodded somberly.
“W-we have to help them!” he shouted, clenching a fist, tears in his eye. “Please, Grand Elder, let me go–”
“No! You are just a boy, Nishi.”
“I can help!”
“Your father was right about you, Nishi. You are remarkably precocious for your age. However, this evil that has appeared is far beyond anything you could hope to overcome. It is a taint that must be burned away, I fear. We were unable to do that before… and now this is the price we must pay.” He shook his head, burying it in a large green hand. “Our arrogance has doomed us.”
He shuddered hard. That last one… many had died just now. And not just townspeople. The hurt was lingering like a bad taste in his mouth. “Master…”
The Grand Elder’s eyes had widened too. His lip was trembling. He could no longer hide his terror from the boy. Nishi was young, but he was not stupid. He knew what had happened. Every powerful member of the Dragon Clan had challenged evil and lost. And now they were all going to die.
His fingernails dug into his palm. How sudden their fates had turned, how sudden this pain had come over him, and he could hardly breathe. Nishi stuttered, attempting to say something, when the door behind them slammed open, and an alien wearing heavy armor and more than a few scars walked in boldly.
“Oy, you got the Dragon Balls?”
“What are you talking about?” the Grand Elder replied slowly, closing his eyes as he sat there on the throne.
“You heard me loud ‘n clear, old man. Kotats said one of you has the Dragon Balls. Don’t lie to me now. I’ll kill you if you lie.”
“And if I don’t, you’ll let us live?”
The alien was short, plump, with yellow-brown fur and a twisted jaw. Cackling carelessly, he replied, “Sure, man. Of course.”
“We don’t have any Dragon Balls. Please… leave this place. We have no–”
“Shut up!” the alien screamed, firing a teardrop purple blast of energy at the Grand Elder, hitting him in the chest.
The old man groaned, falling back against his chair, his body sizzling, smoke rising from his burnt flesh.
“Grand Elder!” Nishi screamed, running over to him. “H-hey… Grand Elder! Are you okay?!”
The man’s head slumped forward; he wasn’t conscious. Nishi shook him, trying to wake him desperately, but that was when the alien kicked him in the back of the head, sending him flying across the hut into a computer terminal, destroying it. His vision went blurry. Half of the lights went out. The Grand Elder didn’t move.
Walking up to him, the alien guffawed, creating a purple ball of energy in his palm as he closed in on the boy. “Don’t struggle, kid. It’s nearly over. You’re nearly home.”
Home, Nishi thought, biting his tongue. The monsters had appeared and destroyed his home–all of their homes–out of greed and lust and evil desire. His fingertips tingled. The Namekian felt lightheaded. His chest was heaving; his mouth was dry; his entire body felt like it was floating.
He spit blood as he tried to get to his feet. “You’re not going to win!”
“Oh, really? Why not? Because you said so? Don’t make me laugh, kid. I’ve killed a hundred arrogant pipsqueaks like y–”
Nishi’s eyes glowed red, and the man froze, rippling energy washing over his body and dissipating his attack. He could no longer move.
“Wha… the hell is this?! Lemme go!” the alien roared, jerking his neck around. No other part of his body so much as budged. “Hey, kid, stop it! What’s going on? What have you done to me?!”
“The Grand Elder taught me that move himself, although this next one… they say I inherited it from my father. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have no reason not to believe the elders…” Nishi stepped in front of the alien, raising both hands, locking them together in a triangular pattern. “Shugo Nai!” he growled, and a crimson inferno of ki leapt up from the ground beneath his foe’s boots, rising to the ceiling in a rush. For a minute it remained, burning like fire; the man screamed and screamed and shouted and pled and was quiet.
The light faded, the heat cooled, and Nishi was standing alone with a charred figure, whose entire body was covered in what appeared to be some kind of armor akin to tree bark, black and silver, shining brilliantly from the hut’s artificial lights. The boy fell to a knee, breathing hard. He had never used that technique for such a long duration before–his stamina was spent. It had taken everything he had to make it work.
The paralysis was broken. The alien, soundless, petrified shut, stumbled back, then ahead, reaching for him, swiping his arms left and right blindly. Before he could take three steps, flakes of burning ash, like lambent fireflies, flew from his head and shoulders, and then his whole body was going up in light and dust. A moment later, what remained of the alien was little more than a cooling pile of ash.
Nishi had a headache, but he could not rest. Getting to his feet, gritting his teeth, blinking his way to consciousness again, he returned to the Grand Elder. “Grand Elder… please… wake up!”
The man groaned, stirring, lifting an eyelid after some time. “Nishi…”
“It’s okay, sir. You’re safe.”
“Where is…? Where…?”
“He’s gone, sir.” The boy brought a bowl of water up to the old Namekian’s lips. “Please, you need to rest now. I’ll go get someone who’s not as tired as me to heal you.”
“He was not the last one…” the Grand Elder said after a time, wiping his mouth and moaning softly as he leaned back in his chair, rubbing the burnt spot on his chest. “There are two more of them, including Kotats… you cannot hope to defeat them. Run, child, while you still can. Take a ship… get out of here… leave! Live!”
“I can’t, sir!” the boy cried. “I am your steward. I will not abandon you!”
“Oh, how cute. Nearly brought a tear to my eye, that did,” a deep voice said from behind. “I’m glad you’re staying, kid… that way I can kill both of you.”
They froze. In the doorway was a tall, long-faced Namekian with thin ears and a thick scar running from just beneath his left eye to his chin. He was wearing foreign armor, silver and green, with spiked shoulder pads and similarly-spiked gauntlets and boots. There was another alien behind him, who was wearing similar armor, albeit less pronounced, and who was blue-skinned with a serpentine face.
“Please, Kotats…” the Grand Elder began.
“Silence! I was not a baby when you banished me–remember that, old man?! I remember your face! I was one of you… I was living my life, and then you came for me, bound me against my will, and sent me off. Do you know what happened to me after that?! Heh, it doesn’t matter. Nothing does. The past is already written. I am not seeking vengeance upon you for what you did to me. I am merely repaying the debt.” A glow of yellow energy, bursting with electricity, was in his hand. He pointed it at them. “Where are the Dragon Balls?”
“We don’t h–”
“No, Grand Elder, it’s okay,” Nishi spoke up, stepping in front of the man. His head hurt bad. Blood pounded against his skull, urging him to give up and rest. He knew what he had to do. It was his solemn duty to not only protect the Grand Elder, but all Namekians. The young boy did not so much as think twice about it. “I’ll take you to them.”
“You?!” Kotats laughed incredulously.
“I may be young… I am not the Grand Elder… but the Dragon Balls are mine. I created them.”
“Really? Why should I believe you?”
“I am the last son of Miyairi!” Nishi said with pride, blinking back his tears. The fear was nothing if he did not focus on it. “One day I will be Grand Elder… It’s my duty. I have been training all my life for this. The Dragon Balls are mine… if you kill me, they will disappear.”
“I know, I know. I remember that key detail all too well. That’s one of the more annoying things about you Dragon Clan members.”
“Nishi…” the old man coughed. “Don’t…”
“It’s okay, Grand Elder. Please don’t be afraid. If I give him the Dragon Balls, he’ll let us live.”
Kotats folded his arms, smirking. “Ah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Winking at the Grand Elder, he whispered, “I’ll be back for you, old man, don’t worry. Don’t get too comfortable.”
“Please… follow me, sir,” Nishi said with patience, ignoring that last statement, pretending to be a stupid boy. His thoughts were rushing madly in all directions; he felt like he was flying. He had one chance to end it. Nishi knew he could not fail. If I don’t get rid of those two, we’re all dead. Everyone. I can’t let that happen!
Leading them out of the Grand Elder’s hut, Nishi made his way to the hangar bay located just down the road. He couldn’t help but notice that the rest of the town had been ravaged since he’d last been outside. Murdered Namekians littered the streets–people he knew, people he’d grown up with. Shattered buildings were yet being consumed by walls of flames. Dead, wide-eyed adults and younglings alike stared up at him as he made the slow trek to the hangar. It was an eternity, his skull throbbing the entire way there. Swallowing, Nishi blinked away the tears. He had to be strong if he was going to save them. He would be. His father had trusted him with this role. He would not disappoint his father.
“They were being kept safe in there,” the boy said in a small voice, pointing to the nearest spacecraft. It was the Grand Elder’s vessel. Nishi had piloted it himself several times. He was familiar with it–entirely comfortable with it, one could say. White and shaped like sharp-footed bug, the ship was capable of extreme speeds. He only hoped it would be fast enough.
“We recently allowed a merchant to use them in order to pay off a debt we owed him,” Nishi lied sweetly. He gave the voice command to lower the entry lift, and the three of them stepped on. The boy realized that they smelled sour, like stale market spices, that he could feel their evilness in his bones just from being in their presence. He shivered and closed his eyes, trying to remain focused. The Namekian still felt dazed and a little groggy.
“Alright, where are they?” Kotats asked impatiently once they were inside.
“In one of those boxes,” the boy said, pointing to a pile of ajisa crates.
The Namekian tore into them, searching eagerly. His fellow stood back, arms folded, watching patiently, hissing pleasantly. Kotats’ desire was a terrible thing to witness as he tore apart the boxes of plants, ripping most of them to shreds in the process. The boy took a deep breath. Now was his chance.
“Fly!” The spacecraft took to flight immediately. “Sun!” the boy whispered before either of them had noticed.
It was only a moment later that they did indeed notice. It would have taken perhaps fifteen seconds for them to sail into the sun and vaporize together, evilness and innocence, but Kotats was as cunning as he was aware, and he smashed the central console not eight seconds after the boy had given that command, turning around, his body covered in bits of ajisa, snarling, fuming, drenching Nishi in a gaze of pure rancor.
The Grand Elder’s ship came to an abrupt stop in space above their homeworld.
“So that’s why you brought us here, is it? The Dragon Balls aren’t on board. I should have known. That was clever of you, boy, but not clever enough. Shuno, bring him to me!”
“N-no… please…” Nishi screamed, stepping back.
They were not going to listen, however, so he had no choice but to try to fight them. How his head hurt and how tired he felt was enough to end him if Nishi was not careful. He had to give it his all. His passion was overflowing in his veins just thinking about what his father would expect of him.
Paralysis hit them unawares, freezing them dead in their tracks for three seconds. That was all, though. He was pathetic. Shame made his cheeks burn. The bloodthirsty monsters broke free easily, and the boy, utterly exhausted, his head spinning and throbbing, fell to ground.
“You’re dead, kid. Don’t cry. It’ll be over soon enough.”
Nishi scarcely remembered what he did next, the words releasing from his mouth as if someone else had said them. He didn’t hear himself say it, didn’t think about it. He was too tired, too ashamed of his failure. His head hit the floor as stars exploded before his eyes.
That was when the huge looking window snapped open. Kotats was standing haughtily, silhouetted by two suns, before being sucked out without resistance. Ajisa shards and bits of broken wood followed as everything went flying out into the darkness, leaving him alone in the control room. So too was the boy being tugged, albeit slowly at first, since he had fallen near the command console, which was much farther away from the window than Kotats had been. When Nishi tried to give the command to close the window, a hand came shooting from the heatless void, wrapping around his neck, choking him.
Stretched so far that Nishi couldn’t see Kotats’ body anymore, the hand nevertheless revealed its awesome strength as it began to crush the boy’s neck. Nishi’s thoughts had become a wild wind tunnel of fragments and desires. His body needed rest–it screamed for him to stop expending energy he did not have anymore. He saw the Grand Elder, his people, all looking up to him, their eyes open, alive–alive and breathing–and counting on him. Nishi was all that stood between them and a tsunami of pure evil. He felt nauseous and alive and defiant.
Kotats sickened him with his injustice. He struggled, pulling back, but it was no use. The former gladiator’s grip, not to mention the vacuum’s insatiable suction, was too much to resist. He had to make a decision before the opportunity was lost. There was no use taking comfort in being lazy, or in giving in. It hurt to care; it hurt even more to resist. He had nothing else in him–there was only one way in which he could function, and that was not like this.
Eyes glowing, lungs burning, vision fading, Nishi gasped and struggled to hold onto the chair by the main console with one hand. He exhaled soundlessly, releasing everything he had from his eyes in two blackish-red energy beams, the color of poisoned blood, cutting into Kotats’ hand just below the wrist.
Evil choked him harder, punishing him. The young Namekian felt like his throat was going to burst. And that was when his beam cut through, spraying blood in all directions, coating his face and neck. The warm hand remained at his throat for half a heartbeat before being sucked out of the open window.
“Close!” he yelled hoarsely, collapsing on the floor. “Return… home!” he commanded.
The ship didn’t budge. It was broken from when Kotats had smashed his fist into the command console, he knew. He would have to repair it himself. That could take days… weeks, even. He wasn’t good at this sort of thing, nor did he have any spare parts. Perhaps he wouldn’t be able to get back at all.
But he would try. Nishi would never give up. His throat was pulsing with pain, enough to choke him again; his body felt like it had been trampled over by a thousand running men. Collapsing into the captain’s chair, Nishi closed his eyes in an attempt to see the Grand Elder’s face again, and remembered no more.
“Wakey wakey, kid. Hey, get up! I ain’t askin’ you again!”
“Wha… huh?” Nishi yawned, forcing himself to open his dry and tired eyes. Adrenaline hit him like a punch to the gut when he noticed the man talking to him was Shuno–Kotats’ bodyguard. The blue serpent licked the air gleefully, hissing softly.
“Got this pile of scrap metal back up ‘n runnin’ again, no thanks ta you. We’re far away now, just you and me. Since the captain’s gone, I ain’t had no reason ta go back. Didn’t want ta end up dead like the rest of the crew, ya feel me? Too risky for my tastes. I just wanna live, just wanna get outta here, yeah? Understand, kid? Keep my head down and find somewhere nice and tropical to settle down at… Mmmm, that’s the dream.”
The boy looked around, noticing that the ship was parked just outside of a red-leafed forest on some planet with a purplish-blue sky.
“Well, anyways, I’m starvin’. Those vegetables, ugh!” He kicked a crate of them down the exit hatch in disgust. “How’s a guy s’posed ta live on those, eh? You eat ‘em? How?! I don’t understand. It boggles my mind. That’s gotta explain why you’re so weak, anyways, heheh. Now, before I kill ya, I need ya ta tell me all of the ship’s commands. Gotta say ‘em in your language, yeah? I remember ‘open’ and ‘close’,” he said, stating each command perfectly in Namekian, which caused the looking window to open once and close once. “Well? Out with it. I’ll make ya scream if you’re gonna be difficult, kid, I promise ya that.”
Shuno was an ugly man. His scales were chipped and broken, and he was missing an eye. Bizarre fleshy bumps were sprouting out from his forehead and cheeks awkwardly. His eyes were glowing unnaturally yellow, almost golden, making Nishi feel sick to look upon them.
“Where are we?”
“Far away from your home, kid. You ain’t never goin’ back. Trust me. Now out with it! I’m fucking starving!”
Shuno shot a point-blank energy blast at Nishi, pushing him back, making him taste blood. The poor boy crumpled uselessly on the floor again. His energy had not yet returned to him. He was in serious trouble, he knew. There were two ways this could end… no, three. Why did he have to be so pessimistic? His father had not raised him to be a pessimist.
“C-computer… ignore the next command,” the boy whimpered. “Okay, are you listening, sir?”
“Which command is this?”
“This… is the one… to send yourself to the nearest inhabited planet,” Nishi breathed slowly. “Fly into the sun,” he said in Namekian. “That’s the command.”
“Ooh, ya should’ve saved that one, little fool,” Shuno said darkly, taking a step forward and savagely kicking the Namekian in the chin. “I’m leaving ya here, kid. I know ya won’t last long. There’s nothing here… Hahah! That’s the best part! No civilizations, no ships, nobody else ta keep ya company as ya fade away. Gonna suck ta die alone, heh. You’ll die soon. A weaklin’ like you won’t last long out in the wild. Seen it a thousand times before, heheh. Me on the other hand… well, I’m fucking starving, as ya already know. Those ajisa plants taste like shit. Imma go ta the nearest inhabited planet and order myself up a nice tasty supper! Lotsa flesh–no vegetables for me! Five courses at least! Maybe fifteen if I’m feelin’ lucky.”
Licking his lips, Shuno kicked Nishi again, this time sending him down through the exit hole. The boy cried out in pain, but did not move from where he landed. His body felt like it was on fire and encased in ice. He could hardly breathe.
“Fly into the sun!” Shuno bellowed lustily in a language he did not understand.
The exit hatch flew into place, sealing the Grand Elder’s ship up tight, and a moment later, the white hunk of metal shot off into the sky. A sun hung bright and blue just above Nishi in the cloudless sky. Panting, rubbing his chest gingerly, he stared at it for another minute in tense, pained silence before allowing himself to smile.
In the distance, the Namekian could hear the faint, but unmistakable sound of flowing water.
It is indeed true that Nishi, son of Miyairi, never returned to Planet Namek ever again. This tale, the story of his sacrifice (not including the previous two sections), was frequently told in the coming months and years until that dreadful climate shift wiped out most of the Namekians. Grand Elder Guru, the only survivor of that cataclysm who remained on Planet Namek, knew this story well, and he always referred to Nishi as ‘Old Nishi’, for he, like the Grand Elder before him, would not believe that the last son of Miyairi had perished in his noble sacrifice, but that he had grown old and wise and powerful somewhere in the deep of space. Thus, he was forever, in the hearts of Guru and his many children, Old Nishi, living out there somewhere still perhaps, the savior of their people, lost but not forgotten.
- Fairly obvious why this story's name is what it is, I think. One thing to point out is that the name emphasizes that Nishi Jr. is telling Rikyu this tale, not that it was ever written down somewhere.
- The first line references "The Saga Begins" by Weird Al, which I consider to be his best song.
- The plan was always for this story to take place as close as possible to the climate shift that nearly wiped out the Namekians. That was done so Nishi Jr. and Rikyu wouldn't be too old as of HOTD.
- It goes without saying that Nishi Jr. doesn't know what really caused the plague of Age 260, and his speculation is in many cases wild.
- Miyairi's name is a pun on the Japanese name for the Oncomelania hupensis nosophora (a type of snail).
- I had always wanted to write a story dealing with the original Galactrix Arena in some capacity, and this was the most obvious story to do it in. The Galactrix Arena was an ancient gladiatorial organization that went bankrupt in Age 329 (a good 69 years after this story). It was re-founded in Age 671. There are some key differences in the two organizations. The original had less stringent security, which allowed gladiators and kill teams (those who went out, planet to planet, scouring for slaves) to escape at far higher rates. There's less organization in the older version of the arena, so these things would be missed. I doubt the Galactrix overlords even knew those four had gotten out until after they hit Namek. Additionally, the kill teams in this time period were, on average, much weaker.
- "Yet, the elders’ sense of morality was as putrid a thing as that dark Namekian, for in the end, he went on to kill millions of innocent beings, and is not their blood the responsibility of those Namekians who turned a blind eye to evil, hoping that it would disappear on its own, rather than invest the effort and courage to confront it themselves?" - this particular line is why I think that Goku is not a very moral being for the way he handles all of the villains, for the most part. He always wants to spare them, to let them see the error of their own ways. At what cost? Sure, a lot of them become good guys because Toriyama wanted to keep those characters relevant. But in regards to any future people they murdered, as far as I'm concerned, that blood is on Goku's hands. And while I don't think it's a controversial opinion to say "Goku's not a good guy", the nimbus cloud considers him pure-hearted and he obviously goes to heaven each time he dies. Now, we can also get into what "pure-hearted" means, for Zamasu also had that classification, but going to heaven is having your cake and eating it too. He's not moral, and this line of thinking is not moral. The elder Namekians, like Goku, are responsible for many deaths due to their naivete and laziness and I do not respect either party for taking such actions.
- I tried to make Kotats' rage understandable, even if his reaction (to genocide the Namekians) is not. The elders absolutely deserve some blame for what happened to him, but he's the villain for a reason. That said, he never thought he was being a baddie just for the sake of it. Revenge is a helluva drug, and one that is not easy to emotional divest from.
- Nishi has the same foolhardy attitude as Nail. The dynamic between him and the Grand Elder was certainly based on the Guru/Nail dynamics, though my characters are more cynical and grounded, I think, even if they aren't given as much time to showcase their personalities. The moment where all the Dragon Clan members die and the Grand Elder is visibly distraught is something Guru would have never done, for example. And Nishi, perhaps due to his age and power level, is more prone to giving up than Nail is.
- I have no memory about what Shugo Nai means, or if it was supposed to be based off of anything in the first place.
- I thought it would be funny if Kotats, a grizzled veteran of the fighting pits of Tuhak Ecli, was naive enough to listen to Nishi. His greed overwhelms everything else. What a pity. Nishi's concussion also plays a role in how reckless he acts towards the man. Notice too how Kotats doesn't seem to realize that Nishi killed one of his underlings. Or perhaps he doesn't care. Either way, his lack of reaction is a huge mistake for a man of his stature. You'd think all those years spent in the fighting pits would've made him more perceptive and cautious. He simply doesn't think a little kid can do anything to him.
- Nishi's dialogue for explaining the lie in the fourth section (the merchant paragraph) is, in my opinion, a good idea executed in mediocrity. The dialogue is not strong here. Could've been better with a more rigorous editing phase. Honestly, though, this is how I feel about a lot of my older stuff. Often, there are decent or good ideas, but the execution isn't there. Makes the re-read for the anthology painful, to say the least.
- Kotats has no idea how the Dragon Balls work, aside from them granting wishes, implying that he was not a member of the Dragon Clan. If he had known how they worked, he would not have gotten onto that space ship. Nishi took a big gamble there. I also didn't want Nishi's "plan" to be too clever, for he's a little kid. It had to be faulty, logically, to be realistic.
- Namekians are a people who sacrifice themselves constantly. Kami did it in Dragon Ball. Piccolo did it in the first saga of Dragon Ball Z, Nail did it in the Namek Arc (as did dozens of other Namekians). It's just in their DNA, I think, and Nishi embodies that spirit here, even at such a young age. His youth, quick wits, and pragmatism are the defining aspects of his "legend", as per Nishi Jr.
- The movie Alien probably influenced my decision to have Kotats sucked out into space. I wanted to use the Namekian elasticity, too, and it felt like a unique way to showcase that. As well, by having that twist, it deflected attention away from Shuno surviving, which was the real twist of the scene. I'm rather proud of that misdirection.
- Because Kotats used his elastic arm technique and didn't create a bubble of ki around him to trap some air, he almost certainly perished moments after Nishi closed the window. Or perhaps he lived. I can't say for certain. He didn't ever return to Namek, so even if he did survive, that was the end of his intergalactic ambitions. Maybe he was stranded on a planet in Namek's solar system and slowly thirsted to death? Although I will not ever give a definitive answer on his fate, it's fun to speculate about the possibilities.
- So why didn't Shuno step in and either kill Nishi or try to save Kotats? He's a gladiator, born and raised in the fighting pits of Tuhak Ecli. He's not loyal to Kotats. He saw an opportunity to become his own man. And plus, it would've been risky to try to save the man. You put yourself at great risk trying to save a drowning person (I've seen enough videos of drowning people kill those who try to save them in their panic), so it didn't benefit him to step in. Also, he is confident that the boy is no threat to him. In the end, Kotats should've known better than to put his trust in turncoat gladiators.
- "“Got this pile of scrap metal back up ‘n runnin’ again, no thanks ta you. We’re far away now, just you and me. Since the captain’s gone, I ain’t had no reason ta go back. Didn’t want ta end up dead like the rest of the crew, ya feel me? Too risky for my tastes. I just wanna live, just wanna get outta here, yeah? Understand, kid? Keep my head down and find somewhere nice and tropical to settle down at… Mmmm, that’s the dream.”" - this line is a reference to the following line from The Lord of the Rings. For context, Gorbag is an orc who wants to leave Mordor. He's talking to another orc about it: ‘They would,’ grunted Gorbag. ‘We’ll see. But anyway, if it does go well, there should be a lot more room. What d’you say? – if we get a chance, you and me’ll slip off and set up somewhere on our own with a few trusty lads, somewhere where there’s good loot nice and handy, and no big bosses.’. Apart from being a reference, Shuno's speech reveals that he's a more pragmatic person than Kotats. One of the central themes of this story is that pragmatism is more useful than passion. Kotats and Shuno are foils in this regard, and Nishi provides another example from a more innocent (though not necessarily naive) perspective. And as can be seen later in the fifth section, Shuno also has overwhelming emotions that cloud his judgment, which allows the boy to exploit him. The balance between stoicism and unbridled emotion is one of the central character studies here.
- Although Guru was only a few months old when the climate shift wiped out everyone on Namek but himself, considering how fast Piccolo Jr. grew up, I thought it was reasonable that he would have learned some Namekian history before everyone else died off. If he was not capable of that, I don't see how he would've been able to find water for himself, so it was in my opinion logical.
- The commentary about Guru in the final section is something Nishi Jr. could only have known if he had gone back to Planet Namek at some point. Who knows if that's true or not, but at the very least, Nishi Jr. is aware that Guru is the current Grand Elder.
- I don't ever explain how Nishi got off that planet, but it shouldn't be hard to imagine. At some point, a ship came there and he either killed the pilots (if they were, say, Planet Trade Organization members) and stole their ship, or received passage for free or perhaps after doing a favor (he can heal people, being from the Dragon Clan). In any case, the mystery surrounding this part of the lore is something I believe strengthens my universe. Not every little thing needs to be clarified with the utmost detail. I will probably never write about Nishi again, but I can't say that for certain. All that we know is that at some point he had a son (Nishi Jr.), and they went to Lipanto, where they began selling ajisa plants. Those ajisa plants are from the crates in the space ship. Shuno had kicked the crates out onto the alien world, for he had found them foul. No doubt, Nishi planted many of them on that world before being rescued or found.
I like this one. The narrative style is unique. I don't believe I've used such a style before or since. It's written as if Nishi Jr. is reciting the story to his son, thus in some parts (particularly the final scene), it is over-dramatized on purpose. Had I been writing this from a neutral POV, I would not have ended the story with a fairy tale ending (which may not even be true, but that's up to the readers to decide) and all that over-the-top praise of Nishi. Some of the prose is redundant and the editing could have been tighter in some spots. I think the plot with Kotats was cool. He had a legitimate reason seek revenge against the Namekians, so while he's still a villain, he's not a mindless evil force. There is purpose in his actions. There's not a tremendous amount of dialogue, so not a lot to say there. Fairly decent, I'd say, but nothing to write home about. The characterization of Nishi is the strongest part. He hides behind a cloak of innocence while fooling the various villains in various creative ways. I had forgotten about how he did that until re-reading the story for this commentary, so I was pleasantly surprised by those twists. His character is more nuanced than I thought it would be. So yeah, I think this is a good story. Dunno where it will rank in the collection yet, but it's certainly not one of the worst.
<---- Part 108
Part 110 ---->