Chapter 01 : Space Flight
Arms crossed, eyes closed, Vegeta leaned against the wall and ignored the fighters as they sat at the long garden tables. The gravity room was still broken, the kitchen had been emptied for the company picnic, and with so many people going in and out of the house, there wasn't an empty room to be found.
Something struck his boot and he looked down. An empty beer bottle had apparently rolled along the grass and come to a stop at his heel. He glanced at the main table. Although the event was a public gathering celebrating some Capsule Corps innovation, the small group of fighters was treating it like an excuse to get drunk. Several emptied bottles lay under their table with more tumbling after.
Goku noticed his glare and grinned. "Sorry 'bout that," he called, finishing off another bottle. Between him and his sons, a sizable pile was growing under their chairs.
"Three!" Trunks said, slamming his emptied bottle on the table before tossing it into the air. Trunks blasted it, then grabbed a bottle and bolted it down as fast as he could while Goten counted. So far they were up to ten blasted each.
Summer, day in, day out. Vegeta kicked the bottle away to shatter against the wall. Could something please descend from the sky and start killing people, just to break the routine? He sighed and looked up at the sky. Not a single cloud, just an infinite field of blue, a perfect summer day.
He glared at them all again. Just sitting around living their lives, a little training here and there, school, married life...day in, day out. Sickening. He'd done that on Frieza's ship and knew how much it sucked out of you without you knowing. He closed his eyes and remembered. Of course it had been different then. The routine involved being beaten, slaughtering whole planets, but still it was a routine. Frieza's ship, helpless planet, Frieza's ship, helpless planet, and maybe a little training here and there, a soldier's life, day in, day out. A waste.
Gravity wore heavy on him, even when it was as light as the earth's. A planet was no place to live, not for him. He'd tallied it all up once, out of curiosity, and figured he'd spent most of his life in deep space capsules. He exhaled. Deep space, black with a few bright stars in the distance, and only the dim controls of his capsule for light. Once in awhile he'd wake up, stare out of the porthole for awhile, watching the stars drift by before he fell asleep again. Those were the only times he slept without nightmares, without feeling confined. Even in those tight pods, how could he feel confined with space expanding all around him?
Their loud laughter interrupted his thoughts. Eighteen had let Krillen fall off his chair and Roshi had laughed until he'd fallen, and when you're drunk that's the funniest thing in the world. Vegeta snarled and flew into the air, escaping into the sky.
The brief spike of ki caught the fighters' attention, and Gohan glanced at the spot where the prince had been standing. "Where'd Vegeta go?"
"Who cares?" Krillin said, climbing back onto his seat and reaching for another drink. "He wouldn't know a good time if it bit him in the ass."
Capsule Corps shrunk as Vegeta flew higher and higher. The laughter and clinking bottles faded into silence and he floated for a few minutes, relieved to be alone. He looked around. The city lay spread out beneath him, a noisy gray blur of humans and cars. Even high up he could hear it. He knew that the city ended several miles west and headed that way at top speed.
It didn't take long. After a few minutes, the streets gave way to green fields rippling like water. Deer leaped through the tall grass like dolphins, swallowed up in the waves before leaping up again, heading to some unknown grazing spot. He descended until he skimmed just above the grass, letting his hand trail as if it were water.
His mind wandered back in time, before earth and before Frieza, even before his father, to a handful of days on Vegetasei, then simply a red planet full of chasms and canyons to fly through, a sky a dozen shades of scarlet, and warm winds that cradled him as he trailed red dust in his wake. In those days, flight was a gift, a freedom to explore any place he wished, test his skill against the jagged cliffs and rise into the sky as high as he dared.
And then came Freiza, and with him flight became nothing but the shortest distance between his capsule and death.
Bad memories. He shook his head and flew a little higher than the trees that went by as if they were the ones moving and he was standing still. Earth grated on his nerves, no matter how much nicer it was than most planets. He'd never seen a blue sky before coming here. Other planets were orange or red, sometimes yellow, swirling with noxious gases that burned his lungs. But earth...this planet was different. Unnatural. Sweet air, even in the cities where the humans complained of pollution. He shook his head as he flew. Fools, all of them. They'd never had to struggle through methane clouds, live on atmospheres heavy with ammonia, fight in hurricane gales a thousand miles deep. The trace amounts of carbon and radiation only made the planet real so he wouldn't confuse it with a dream. So much blue seemed unreal. It made him feel detached from everything. The only way he knew it was real was the way its gravity dragged on him, no matter how lightly.
The grasslands turned into rocky shores and then ocean. How long had he been flying? He didn't stop. The ocean sparkled in the noon sun, and dark shapes swam beneath the surface before diving down into deeper waters. On the horizon, the sky and ocean blended together until they were indistinct, nothing but that unnatural shade of blue surrounding him, crushing him until he thought he would collapse on himself.
Without a second thought he stopped flying forward and starting flying up. He had the sudden need to reassure himself that black space and all the stars were still there somewhere behind all that blue. The air turned cold, then freezing. He took a deep breath before it could freeze in his lungs and ascended to the first super level. The sky began to turn hazy as he moved between atmospheres, slipping from light blue to gray, and then to black, the same comforting black he saw the few times he'd woken up in a deep space capsule. The air stopped being frozen and simply stopped being, and he could no longer breathe. After a few seconds, the back of his head started to tingle.
It wasn't close enough. Without a backward glance he ascended to the second level, pushing all of his strength to take him higher, one more mile, one more foot, one more inch. Stars filled the range of his sight, and he stretched out his hand to the brightest. He knew they were lightyears away, but moving like this, he was sure that if he could only push himself a little harder, he could touch one. They seemed so close it hurt to look at them. His eyes began to freeze.
The tingle turned into a hum as his body demanded oxygen. The stars blurred, turning from diamonds to an indeterminate field of light. He curled his fingers and the star slipped out of his reach, fading into the rest, and with groan he fell out of the super state. His hair turned dark again. For a second he stopped moving, then slipped back to earth.
Although he could breathe again, he did nothing to stop his freefall, helpless as the planet drew him down. Space turned into sky again. The whole sky was one shade of blue, like a painted wall. Everything was blue, the sky, the ocean, the entire planet. No trace of cold, comforting space. Just blue.
The ocean turned the sky into stained glass before he realized he'd hit the water. He held still, sinking fast until the sun disappeared. The deepest waters were black with luminescent small fish, but it wasn't the same. Even though he couldn't breathe and the water was cold, it was no substitute for the stars. Arms outstretched, he forced himself to rise slowly, breaking the surface and floating a few inches above the water so that the waves brushed his boots. He stood like that for several minutes, cold and breathing hard and disoriented.
Everything was blue, the sky, the ocean. The entire damn planet was blue, and he resigned himself once again to living with only an occasional glimpse of black. He shrugged once. What did it matter? There was nothing out there for him, just empty space and stars.
The only place he'd ever slept without nightmares or memories, always heading towards one star or another.
In the uniform blue planet, he finally reoriented himself and turned back towards Capsule Corps, slowly trailing his boots in the water. It would be another beautiful, cloudless day.