Saltation
by Peekapika     More by this Writer
In biology, saltation (from Latin, saltus, “leap”) is a sudden change from one generation to the next, that is large, or very large, in comparison with the usual variation of an organism. The term is used for nongradual changes (especially single-step speciation) that are atypical of, or violate gradualism– involved in modern evolutionary theory.

Author’s Notes: I really felt like this work was the pinnacle of everything I've written up to this date. I have a lot of old stuff on FF.net but none of it is as good as this. I just love Vegeta sei AU's, but it seems like there aren't many out there for Trunks and Gohan. I had quite a bit of input on it from Lord Truhan who provided the original idea, many drawings and built the plot with me which helped a lot with plot continuity and such :)
Graphic Violence



Chapter 01: The Arena
Gohan stared at the splatters of blood on the wall across from him. He could tell from their different colors which were older and which were fresh. The roar of the crowd was muffled a bit from the shape of the corridor but not by much. It sounded a lot like the waterfall Bardock would take him to train by sometimes. The thought helped him retain his calm.

It wasn’t that he was nervous. It was the weight of his family’s, specifically his father’s, pride that he could feel resting on his shoulders. Like a cape with too much fur, it threatened to suffocate. Gohan knew how to keep his head up though. He had fought a thousand times. Everyday as far as he knew, for his entire fifteen years had contained a lesson in battle. He was Saiyan, after all.

The cries of the crowd escalated, and Gohan knew that another match had come to an end out in the arena. While it wasn’t required, there was a good chance of these things ended in death for the loser. A real warrior didn’t lose control of himself like that though, to kill an opponent needlessly. Those were his sire’s words of wisdom. Gohan was always very careful to heed the terse musings Bardock would hand down on occasion after a spar.

Gohan’s fingers absently traced the raised ridge of a small scar on his forearm while he waited. It was just under the edge of his armband, where he could reach it. The oily slickness over all his skin was strange to him but it had been done at his sire’s direction.

“When you get in the ring after the weighing, take off your shirt before you fight” Bardock instructed. Gohan was obedient if nothing else and nodded. He knew if he let the unspoken ‘why?’ hang in between them that Bardock would go on to explain himself.

“Close your eyes” Toma wet his hands with oil and raised them to Gohan’s face. The young male could feel Bardock beginning to spread the substance over his back as well. The instructions continued as they worked it over his skin.

“The real test for you here isn’t going to be the fighting, Gohan. It’s the presentation. There are few full grown males you couldn’t beat in the arena, forget about these whelps. This is your first public appearance. You have to show them you’re just as Saiyan as the rest of us.”

Gohan watched as the limp form of a loser was drug across the floor behind one of the guards. He’d be heading for the healing tanks but no glory. Gohan’s father would be watching out there as would Bardock … as would the King. The victor’s name was announced to a renewed swell of cheering, but Gohan didn’t even register it.

“You and you!” a burly, unwashed Saiyan pointed at Gohan and one of the other contestants, “Get your asses over here! You’re up next!” he growled above the noise. With a stretch and a deep breath, Gohan stood, his mind focused and body ready.

His opponent was a half a size larger than him and known to be from a stamina line. It wouldn’t help him. He seemed quite confident as he walked out though. Raising his arms, the larger male urged on the cheering of the crowd as they hit the open air. He was from the younger generation, like Gohan, but had indulged in what was becoming a popular trend on the planet. His arms were covered in tattoos. Gohan could pick out quite a few patterns and images he recognized but didn’t let it distract him. That’s really all things like that were a distraction. After they had climbed up to the weighing station, the announcer let the cheers go on for a moment before beginning to speak.

“Your attention for the weighing” the well dressed male called out quieting the crowd. This was the most critical moment for Gohan. Just because they were scanned to test their power levels before the battle didn’t mean you had to let your real strength show. No one ever did. That would be giving away too much information to your opponent.

“Teeth or tails?” the announcer asked Gohan, holding the coin up.

“Tails” he said steadily. The coin flipped through the air, its golden glint catching the afternoon sun.

“Tails it is!” the announcer boomed.

“Second” Gohan answered immediately without waiting to be asked if he’d like to go first or not. His opponent shrugged it off with a roll of his shoulders and stepped onto the platform. These old types of scanners took a few seconds to read you but it was all part of the event so they would never be upgraded.

“I see you wear the markings of the line of endurance. Tell me, do you think you have what it takes to win your match?” the announcer knew how to keep the crowd’s attention and the young teen he questioned was happy to answer in the affirmative. There was quite a loud response from the crowd, but then again, this male was probably known to them. Gohan had been taught all the higher court’s manners and ways, in preparation for his win today, but he had never been exposed to the masses like this.

“600! That’s quite an impressive score for one so young! But what else is to be expected from this noble line! Alright son, step over here, now you, take your place” Gohan stepped onto the platform and let his eyes wander over the crowd as the machine did its job. He refused to look at the Royal box directly, where his father would be watching.

“You bear no markings… I don’t think we’ve ever seen you in the arena before. Tell me, are you not proud of your line?” the announcer asked. Gohan was ready for the official’s baiting though and didn’t let his incendiary words affect him.

“Tattoos are for those who don’t aspire to earn scars” Gohan quoted his sire evenly. He could feel his opponent bristle beside him.

“Well, well, those sure are fighting words! Good spirit!” the announcer seemed quite pleased by the quickened murmur spreading through the crowd at Gohan’s statement. The numbers of Gohan’s reading flashed above his head a moment after that, and the announcer gave a low whistle. The din of the crowd rose back into a roar.

“601! 601! This is officially a fight! Everyone, place your bets!”

Gohan stepped off the platform noticing the anger in his opponent had turned to quiet calculation. Though most Saiyans had learned to read and control their power levels in the past few decades, such precision was unusual. Gohan hadn’t needed to be that close for it to be considered a good fight. If he had been within 100, they’d still have let them go at it. Farther apart than that wasn’t considered worth it though. To come in one point over … it was a slap in the face and the crowd loved it.

Probably feeling like it would add to his own appeal, the larger teen stripped off his shirt before Gohan could. More tattoos were revealed across his chest and back. Gohan was beginning to see that Bardock’s take on the situation was indeed correct. It was just as important for him to sway the crowd as it was to win. He peeled off his own, letting it fall to the platform with less flair but more effect.

It wasn’t that Gohan was some battle scarred veteran but he did have a jagged one that ran down his left side and twisted to his back. The oiling made it and the one on the corner of his jaw stand out all the more. There were few things that couldn’t be healed properly in a tank. Gohan didn’t expect this male to be intimidated though. He wouldn’t know any better. He wasn’t even wrapping his tail around his waist properly.

The two of them jumped down into the main pit to wait for the starting bell. Gohan was greeted by the stench of blood and old sweat. It smelled like home. He didn’t let himself get cocky though and scanned his surroundings just as he had been taught. He’d already measured up all his opponents while they waited in the corridors.

When the start sounded, they both began circling and the noise of the excitement doubled. Gohan couldn’t hear anything but his own heart pounding in his ears but he was prepared for it. When he was rushed a few moments later, he was prepared for that too. His opponent’s moves were easy to read and predictable even aside from that. At one point, the fool even made the mistake of trying to plant his foot where a previous loser’s blood was still coating the stone floor.

Gohan let him think he had a chance for a good fifteen minutes as they grappled. Quickly changing tactics, he reached past his opponent’s defenses and broke three ribs in rapid succession. When the teen began involuntarily coughing up blood, Gohan took a few steps back and just waited. Ignoring the signal that he was being given a chance to give up, the bloodied male tried to stand. Gohan thought about grabbing the tail that waved angrily behind his tattooed torso just to teach him a lesson.

Surprisingly, the larger Saiyan was able to get to his feet and seemed to finally remember his tail. He obviously had little experience with someone really trying to kill him. Gohan crouched low again, waiting, making his injured opponent come to him if he wanted to keep going. He did but it wasn’t for long. Gohan grabbed the charging bulk around his waist and dropped to one knee using his agility instead of strength to counter.

Flipping through the air with the force of his own momentum, Gohan’s opponent landed with a smack against the stone. There was no move made this time to try and get up. Even with stamina, it was hard to fight with that many internal organs punctured. Gohan had some of the loser’s blood on his shoulder now but he didn’t even bother wiping at it. It wouldn’t be the last before the end of the day.

As the body was being drug away, Gohan’s arm was lifted up in victory by the announcer.

“Good fight, good fight. Tell us your name, now that you’ve been victorious in your battle” he was instructed, this being the crowd’s cue to quiet down for a moment.

“Gohan, son of Kakarot”

In less than the split of a second, the noise around them became deafening. It felt like the very ground beneath them trembled with it.

“My, my, my…” the announcer turned to the Royal box and gave a nod, “It seems we have a real contender here.”

Gohan raised his gaze to the box for the first time but it was too obscured to see anyone clearly. He gave a small bow, even though it wasn’t necessary, then resumed his stance. He could feel his father’s power radiating from the place of honor beside the King. Bardock was there too and other powers strong and small that he didn’t recognize. One of them would be the Prince.

Pushing the thought aside, Gohan left the arena as indicated to make way for the next round of contestants. The area the first round winners waited in was no different than where he’d waited before. Just a different hall of the former dungeon. The biggest change was that everyone here had a name, being winners.

If all eyes hadn’t been on him when he came in it would have been strange but Gohan ignored it.

In a lesser tournament, one purely for entertainment, fights were sometimes known to break out in the waiting rooms. With this level of competitors though and the seriousness of the prize, that was unlikely to happen here. Gohan had never seen the young prince in person but he knew his likeness. There was only one person on all of Vegeta-sei with that color hair.

Even though he was a half breed too, like the prince, Gohan had a normal Saiyan’s coloring. He had more of a mane, like the picture he had seen of his uncle Raditz, rather than the spikes of his father and sire. He let his dark hair fall to partially cover his face right now. It was a small amount of privacy during a long wait. With the prince reaching an age where he should be taking a bond mate soon, the honor of being his bodyguard was sort of implicitly tied with filling that position too.

All of Vegeta-sei it seemed had turned out to watch the vying.

As he rose through the ranks, Gohan only had to fight one other half-breed. He was just a cub of eight though and still no serious threat. Being the first of the offspring produced in the experiment of mixing with humans, Gohan wasn’t expecting any others to be put forth as potential bodyguards. Prince Trunks at ten was the second of their kind and all others even younger than him. Ironically, the eight year old was the best challenge Gohan was given among the entrants.

When all challengers had been defeated, Gohan stood from the puddle of fluids he’d created and bathed in the adulation of the people. The last opponent had demanded a fight to the death as was fitting. Gohan gave it to him. He had only to be vetted by the King’s guard now and then he would be accepted into their ranks.

The vetting was probably the only fight Gohan felt anxious over.

If the King was in a mood, Gohan could end up having to fight his own father. Which was a fight he couldn’t win. Any of the King’s guard could be put forth though… Gohan had to be prepared to do his best against any of the others, without embarrassing them and making an enemy. If he didn’t do well enough though, he wouldn’t have a good standing among the other males.

Bardock had told him once that this kind of shit was the reason he stayed out of politics.

It was a position of the highest honor … but Gohan felt that even after just this small taste, he’d have chosen Bardock’s path instead. If he’d had a choice. Gohan knew both his father and the King wanted the half breed program to be seen as a success. For obvious reasons, he did as well. So, he awaited his vetting with patience, determined to make his father proud.

~//~

“It’s my right!”

“Calm down, Nappa”

“I’m the General here, you third class piece of-”

“Nappa” the King’s tone brooked no argument when he interrupted their altercation. Everyone was quiet and waited to see what Vegeta’s decision would be.

“If the General wishes to vet the brat himself, then by all means, let him.”

Nappa smirked, his chest puffing out ever so slightly in victory. He still had some favor left, when it was needed. Pushing past Bardock with a shove on his shoulder, Nappa made his way down to the arena, stewing.

He had never liked that pushy, blue-haired woman Vegeta had allowed on the planet. Speaking against her or the program was out of the question though, so Nappa had bid his time. In his opinion, the royal heir was a joke. He even looked weak, exotically colored just like his human mother. If Nappa couldn’t go directly against them though, he would prove his point against Kakarot’s brat.

“That was surprisingly easy” Bardock commented quietly once Nappa was well and gone.

“Hn. He’s always been too ruled by his rage” Vegeta responded without looking away from the arena.

“May I ask, your majesty, why you waited until now to get rid of him?” Bardock always stayed polite with the King when they were in public. He’d been known to give the male a more honest treatment behind closed doors though, at least when he was younger. Pulling this kind of stunt without telling him first would definitely earn him a piece of Bardock’s mind later. Not that he was worried for Gohan.

“I have my own points to prove” Vegeta sounded both irritated and bored. Bardock couldn’t argue with that. He’d been urging Vegeta to get rid of the hot headed General for years. It did seem like the kind of thing Vegeta would do though, to keep the male he no longer trusted close. Waiting to use his death for an advantageous means was definitely not out of the King’s character. It was just the method of his disposal Bardock disagreed with.

He hadn’t told Gohan what to do if the commander of the entire Saiyan Army demanded a death match from him.

Cracking his knuckles, Bardock leaned back against the railing of the Royal box. He’d just have to hope Gohan came through and killed him like he was supposed to. The brat knew enough.

~//~

When General Nappa walked out of the gate, Gohan breathed a sigh of relief. As long as it wasn’t his father. Letting his mind wrap around the reality of his opponent though, Gohan began to feel uneasy.

“Alright brat, let’s see how you do against a real Saiyan!” Nappa powered up, glaring at the teen. “Fight me to the death if you think you’re worthy!” he roared.

The crowd and announcer were in a riotous state over the challenge. It was unprecedented, though technically still allowed. Plus, it wasn’t as if the General would have been sent down without the King’s approval. Gohan nodded, accepting the match, and powered up to Nappa’s level. He was multiple times stronger than this but Nappa could be holding back too…

He’d been taught too well by his sire to make the mistake of underestimating his opponent. Even if he thought he was stronger than Nappa, the decades of experience the older male had on him were not to be dismissed lightly. Conversely, Gohan had always had the necessity of forfeiting his life, if need be, pounded into him. It was ingrained too deeply for him to even think about giving up.

Nappa came out swinging but not with the haphazard charge of the lesser fighters Gohan had faced so far. As the fight progressed, he discovered Nappa’s ki attacks hurt like a bitch too. Gohan ducked under the massive male’s arm and landed a solid blast to his back, but he knew it wouldn’t be enough to fell him. It bought him time to breathe though.

“What’s the matter you little mongrel? Can’t take a real blast like a warrior?” Nappa taunted while crawling free of the rubble he’d made crashing through the wall.

Gohan had been to the brink of death many times in his training. He knew in the back of his mind though, that it would be counterproductive for his father to actually kill him while trying to make him stronger. With Nappa he had no such doubts. The General was trying to murder him and none too discretely either.

“Go ahead, run away you little half breed coward. That’s probably what you’d do defending the prince anyway” Nappa aimed another volley at him as he spewed insults.

That last one though…

Even as a small child, it had been easy for Gohan to pick up how most of the adults around him reviled the General. When he had asked why, he’d been given a long tale by Toma on bond mates and the King’s Last Order.

Nappa had been the former King Vegeta’s bond mate and as such wasn’t supposed to leave his side. That was just how being a warrior worked. You fought together, you bled together, you died together. That was what was expected of Gohan for Prince Trunks. But Nappa had let the King order him away, taking the young Prince Vegeta to safety during The Ruse. The King had been killed, even though the Prince was safe. There was a shame beyond speaking of in it for Nappa, having just let it happen.

“How dare you” Gohan spat back at him, his power jumping as he got genuinely angry. The mood of the crowd seemed to shift around him when he did that. Reigning himself in, Gohan stood stoically as murmurs flitted around them. Enough of the members of the crowd could sense power to know that the General was in serious trouble now. The details of Nappa’s betrayal were not commonly known but every Saiyan liked to see a good upset match.

~//~

“How much have you told him?” Vegeta’s head cocked to the side eyeing Bardock’s cool demeanor.

“It’s not my fault the boy’s smart beyond his years” was his gruff reply. The King turned his attention back to the arena with a sigh.

“Kakarot, I want to see everything the brat’s truly got after introductions.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

Kakarot’s eyes never left the field of battle, though he was perfectly aware of his surroundings. He’d not told Vegeta when Gohan had broken through, for several different reasons at the time. His son was doing well now though and would impress the King later with his full strength. A small smile of approval quirked across his face when he felt the level of ki blast Gohan was leveling at his opponent.

~//~

Nappa was in the middle of laughing a bit too maniacally, when the amount of ki reflected in Gohan’s hands suddenly became worth caring about.

“You little piece of sh-”

It was the last thing the General ever said. He should have learned to read power levels. The larger part of Nappa’s enormous form was eaten away by the massive blast. He still had knees to fall to though when what was left of his body crumpled to the ground.

Gohan steadied himself with a deep breath and walked over to the corpse among an explosion of cheers. As he had been taught, he coated his palm in the old way, with his enemy’s blood. Wiping a smear of it across his stomach, Gohan stood tall and raised his fist to the crowd. With all the excitement, the announcer couldn’t grab his other hand to raise it in victory fast enough. The cries and screams from the crowd drown out whatever he was saying, they were so loud.

The words were irrelevant though. The smell of the blood coating him and the jealousy of so many swirling around him began to give Gohan a heady feeling. Before he really knew what was happening, he was being bundled off by a group of four guards. He would be presented to the King now, for appointment. Then he would be formally introduced to the Prince.

Torch lit walls gave way to more modern lighting and the halls Gohan was led through became less filthy. Their procession stopped in front of a pristine sealed door and Gohan held himself tall. When it opened Bardock was leaning against the wall on the other side. He casually spit off the edge of the balcony and then turned to face Gohan. Summing up his pride with a rough smack on the shoulder, he lifted the teen’s chin so he could see his face better.

“His eyes are still dilated, you should give him a moment to cool down” he said.

Gohan was having a hard time keeping his tail wrapped around his waist. He wanted to offer it into the space between himself and his sire a silent gesture asking for approval. He knew he was too old for such childish things though and kept it snug like a professional.

“Send him in” the King ordered ignoring Bardock’s advice. Rolling his eyes the elder stepped aside crossing his arms over his chest. Gohan approached as instructed and knelt before the King. Vegeta minced no words having seen plenty already. All he wanted now was to know if Kakarot’s brat was strong enough to be a worthy guard for his son.

“Rise and power up to your maximum” he ordered.

Gohan stood immediately and enveloped the Royal box with a golden glow. The King’s cape stirred in the wave of the young half breed’s enormous power but he didn’t even blink.

“I guess that will have to do” he said blandly after studying him, “Power down.”

Behind the King’s back, Kakarot and Bardock exchanged the briefest of glances.

“As the Prince’s bodyguard you are expected to do everything within your power to protect him. Are you willing to die for my son if necessary?”

“Yes, your majesty” Gohan answered without hesitation. Vegeta crossed his arms and eyed Gohan again with a more piercing gaze this time.

“I have one more question for you before bringing you and the Prince together.”

Gohan knew a test was about to come. Especially since the King’s phrasing was one used more for bond mates than body guards.

“Why did you kill Nappa?” Vegeta asked, his tone sounding less disinterested for a moment.

Gohan raised his gaze, meeting the King’s but keeping his face steady.

“Because he asked me to your highness.”

From somewhere near the back of the room a snicker sounded. Gohan blinked. He couldn’t help but look away from the King when he saw his father break into a grin and chuckle. The throaty laughs of quite a few guards and advisers began filling the air and even the King cracked a smile.

“Kakarot,” Vegeta said over his shoulder not bothering to turn around, “You left him with your father too long…” A few more laughs were produced by that but Bardock’s posture didn’t change at all as he leaned against the wall. With a shake of his head, Vegeta resumed his seat and made a motion with his hand. A pair of guards stepped away to retrieve the Prince. Gohan felt a ripple run through his stomach.

“…asked…” the King said under his breath, rubbing one temple with an amused tone.

Before long, the guards returned with the young Prince in tow. Gohan was sure everyone in the room could smell how nervous he was but he breathed deeply and tried to stay focused. Prince Trunks was of an average height, slightly smaller build and stunning complexion. Gohan had never seen anyone who had eyes the color of a sunlit waterfall before. There was such a depth of challenge in them though that Gohan was immediately reminded this was royalty he was dealing with.

“My Prince” he said, dropping to one knee, waiting for Trunks to make the first move. The ten year old’s voice was surprisingly deep when he spoke sniffing the air as if wary.

“You need a bath.”

“…Um, forgive me, I killed three males today…” Gohan said by way of explanation.

“If you’re going to guard me, you’re going to have to bathe regularly” Trunks squinted at him, his nose crinkling.

“I do” Gohan said a tad more defensively than he’d meant to.

“Really?” Trunks’s tone seemed on the curious side of disbelief.

“Yeah…” this conversation wasn’t going how Gohan had imagined it.

“Alright, I guess you’ll do then. I accept” Trunks held out his tail and Gohan stood to wrap his around it right away. He wanted to complete their introduction before anything else weird happened. The Prince’s ‘acceptance’ was a mere token since it was actually the King’s decision and it had already been made. Suddenly, each of their fathers were at their sides, with a hand on their shoulders.

“Now, that that’s over with, let’s get back to the palace. I promised the King we’d show him your true strength” Kakarot smiled a sparring smile at his son. The bottom dropped out of Gohan’s stomach, but he only nodded in response.



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