Without Our Commander

Status: Completed; Short Story
Slaughter, minor cursing, violence
Rated: PG13
(varies according to the reader's imagination)

I. Toma

Although he had seen him in the healing tank often enough, it still pained Toma to see his companion enclosed inside a dome with wires attached to his torso. He didn't want to look at him. He couldn't. No matter how many times he told himself to look straight ahead, he always glanced away. For that, he blamed himself for being weak.

When he claimed that he was weak, he meant it all three ways: emotionally, mentally, and physically. He knew he was. Too sentimental for a Saiya-jin's liking. Never gave up yet always gave in. Failed to protect and complete. Failed to protect his friend, complete his mission. Failed to kill a remaining inhabitant.

This time, it was his fault that Bardock was in the tank. He knew it was and wasn't in the state of denial. But no one blamed him. They just looked at it the commander's way: Bardock just got a little careless. Toma knew that wasn't so. He should've done something to prevent the Kanassasei-jin from attacking. He was the closest to that cocky fish and he could've attacked before it did!

But he stalled. Now he regretted it awfully while he listened to the doctors' over exaggerating admiration in the low-class warrior. They bragged too much about his abilities. Everyone already knew what the commander could do and could not do. And it's what he could not do that inspired the sub-leader the most. Bardock could not dedicate himself to one person only. He couldn't and would never choose one over the other. He could not leave a scratch on someone without making him bleed. And only Bardock could not hold grudges against his comrades for any reason at all.

It's high time someone stopped this conversation, he thought coldly. Only the doctors knew what was wrong with him, yet they were not letting leaks out at all! He'd ought to kill them, but they were the only people with medical abilities this side of Vegetasei, and without them Bardock would have almost no chance of survival at all. "So, how is he?"

He continued to refuse to look at the unconscious warrior, and kept his eyes locked to the green-scaled medical assistant. He pulled his brows together as he heard of the strange brain patterns the computers reported him of having. How he hated computers. He knew it was merely a concussion. But he didn't question, didn't argue. Just gave one small glance towards the warrior before turning to the Panboukin's suggestion.

"It's no use. We might as well go without him this time."

"Fine," Toma replied automatically, hesitating not one second. He spun on his heel to walk out the door before he heard the doctor's query of their destination. He replied back with excitement and pride that their commander will come after them after he was healed, so he could give him his gift of apology for being weak, and maybe make him to have second thoughts. After all, they normally shared the same thoughts. So he'll know his exact intentions.

But would the others know?

II. Panboukin

If he didn't appreciate having assignment after assignment enough before, then it was a good thing that Panboukin's thankfulness boosted up a few thousand notches. But he was also rarely disappointed. He expected a challenge, and he wanted a challenge. The Meatsei-jin never gave it to them. Most didn't even try to save themselves from extinction. Only a few fled --as to be expected from them, but none tried to fight. It was too easy for his tastes.

"There has to be more around," he told the others gruffly. "That was just too easy. Besides, we wouldn't want to leave any leftovers behind, right? That wouldn't be good for our reputation."

"What reputation?" Toma joked, letting out a few chuckles. "I didn't know we had a reputation."

"Still, we wouldn't have as much work to do as we are now," Panboukin replied, not amused with his companion's carefree attitude at the moment. Suddenly an idea loomed onto him, and he smirked dangerously. "Besides, we wouldn't want Bardock to think that we didn't give these weaklings a painful death. That wouldn't be good, would it?"

Toma frowned at that last comment. "That was low," he growled.

"Sorry, sometimes you two can become an easy target," Panboukin shrugged. He wasn't backed up by the other two; Totepo just kept silent and Celipa clearly became annoyed. He lifted his shoulders and arms in another casual shrug. "What? Don't you think so?"

Before anyone could answer, if anyone was going to answer at all, the sub-leader automatically agreed. Again. He tapped the side of his jade-tinted scouter and just let out a small breath of air after looking at the numbers. "What do you know?" he stated with a weak smirk. "Panboukin's right for once. I didn't know there was that many. Celipa, would you be as kind as you are to take care of them for us?"

"Gladly," she responded smugly, checking her scouter for the combat ratings. A split second later, she took off, leaving behind a very angry Saiya-jin.

"You know, I was the one who suggested it," Panboukin snapped.

Toma just laughed, fluttering a hand towards him telling him to calm down. "There's more in the opposite direction," he shook his head, obviously still very amused. "A lot more then what Celipa assigned herself to. I'm sure you can handle them."

"Or can he?" A voice snickered from behind them.

Totepo and Toma swiftly spun around to see who it was. Panboukin only swiveled his head. It was all he had time for. He only had one glance at the source of the voice and heard only rumbling before his back was hit with a burning beam. The last thing he saw and heard was black. Nothing more.

III. Celipa

She knew as well as the next person that easy missions were refreshing every once in a while. But no one liked it too easy. That was the way it was with these inhabitants. She killed the remaining Meatsei-jin slowly yet quickly. She enjoyed watching them cower in fear as she slain each of them one by one. But like the night before, they didn't flee. They just stayed put.

Frozen in fear. That was the first time she had seen anyone do that. She didn't feel at all happy that she experienced her victims stand still while she was carried out her duty. It took all the fun away from it.

"I'm officially bored now," she murmured to herself, sick of the same scenery of non-challenging inhabitants and easily breakable buildings. "Maybe it's time to head on home."

Without a second's hesitation, she levitated into the air and burst towards the north, where her companions were. It didn't take too long for her to finally spot them, plus four others who were clearly not Saiya-jin. She saw that the Saiya-jin were really peeved yet ready for battle. A battle? It was then when she noticed that there was one Saiya-jin missing.

Where was Panboukin?

Celipa saw that there was no time to stall, however, so she landed quickly in front of the two males that were there. She managed to make only the tiniest noise audible enough to be heard over the aliens' slurred chuckling. The smirks on their faces were too suspicious for her taste. Their eyes were narrowed to illuminate the evil intentions they may have planned. She tilted her head with a scowl, and wondered what they were doing here. But after taking a look at their armor she noticed who they were. She took not a single liking towards it either.

"They're not here to help us, Celipa," Toma announced from behind her with a menacing tone. "They killed Panboukin."

She already knew that before he even told her. It wasn't hard to figure out after she noticed their attire. They were assassins. Freeza's assassins. The only question she had in mind was: why were they targeted? "Those bastards," she hissed, getting into the same stance the other two behind her were in.

In response to her insult, the assassins threw taunts and teases back at the three low-level soldiers to irritate the Saiya-jin to the extreme. She knew that she would have to wait for the command to attack to take out her anger on them --how she hated being taunted and teased-- but she was finding it very difficult to do so. She wasn't afraid of death, but she didn't want to face it so soon. Not that she will die today, of course!

"That's it," Toma growled in annoyance. His tolerance of this friction had left the planet and was further than Vegetasei was. He charged at them so fast that she could only feel his wind as he flew past. A second later, Totepo joined in. She already saw the outcome of the fight and didn't like it, so she decided to step in.

She had no idea what she was getting herself into.

The young female couldn't think clearly at all while she tried to fight the assassins. For some reason she kept getting distracted, which fell to her weakening. Every strike she attempted on one of the aliens, they just blocked and counterattacked and always succeeded. Her clothing soon became tattered, and pieces of her armor started to rip off of her body. Her biggest mistake came when she noticed that all four were ganging up on her. In bewilderment, she stole a glance to her side to look for either Totepo or Toma, but never saw them. The assassins took advantage and landed a good punch that sent her flying backwards.

After rolling on the ground a few times, she weakly staggered to her feet, angrier than ever. She noticed that now she could see a little more clearly, only because her scouter fell off during the one-sided battle. She glanced around the area, moving only her pupils in an attempt to find her scouter. She finally did, and was more than relieved to see that there were only a few cracks. She contemplated if she should risk grabbing it, but automatically refused to do so. Hopefully luck will be on their side so they could get it later without the assassins noticing. She wasn't exactly sure what they'd use it for at the moment, but they could use it for something. Anything!

The brown assassin grew bored and put a hand out in front of him. "We really need to quit playing around," he announced.

By the time she noticed that he was directing the next energy attack towards her, it was too late. He fired. She only had time to cross her arms in front of her face to shield it, but it was no use. The bright beam engulfed her entire body, throwing her back into the Saiya-jin right behind her. He managed to grab her before she ricocheted to the pile of pieces of broken buildings.

He spoke to her and tried to help her stand on her own at the same time. But she couldn't respond. She was too weak. There was so much she wanted to say to him! But she was satisfied enough knowing that she will die in the arms of one she felt attached to. Or one of them. She closed her eyes and her body went limp. She only rallied one thought as sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and touch dissolved from her spirit.

I'm sorry, Toma. I really am.

IV. Totepo

"Celipa. Celipa, you know better than to give up. Celipa! Celipa!"

Panboukin's dead. She's dead. This cannot be happening!

Toma was in complete denial. Totepo was in electrifying shock. Both were furious and vengeful. Neither wanted to join their companions in the afterlife. Both wanted answers. Why were the assassins killing them? What did they do? Or, did Freeza allow them to kill whomever they felt like killing because they complained about being out of the job for a while? It was obvious they were enjoying their successful murder of the four Saiya-jin. Why?

Totepo glared back at the four assassins. All of them have been left untouched. Totally unintended. They were the ones who deserved to die! He knew they were! He struggled to stand, ready to attack. He ignored all pain that he felt, and all the liquid flowing out of his body. He was about to charge with everything he had, but the assassins had already chosen their next victim. To his misfortune, it wasn't him.

Without a warning or a moment's hesitation, the same bastard who killed Celipa shot a yellow beam of fire towards Toma, who still was concentrating on somehow reviving her. Totepo opened his mouth to shout, but almost on cue Toma finally glanced up. He threw the dead female in front of him, and prepared to dodge this blast.

He was one second too late. In mid-leap his left leg was caught in the middle of the heat, causing more spillage of blood. He slid on his back, flipping over repeatedly. Three seconds after he slowed to a stop, he struggled on his hands and knees and started panting heavily. Totepo decided this was a good time to fight. At least for him, just until Toma felt ready to get back into the action again. He needed to rest for a little while.

Totepo let one foot off of the ground, but the brown-horned creature was quicker. He was both surprised and infuriated that he was not the one chosen to be killed next. He wouldn't allow himself to be killed though, but he didn't want Toma to die either. Celipa was the weakest, but she held out long enough. Panboukin was just a tad stronger than Totepo, but he was caught by surprise. Toma was the most powerful in will, integrity, and strength. At least, until Bardock showed up. Whenever that may be, and if he ever came to this planet.

So instead, the brown assassin charged at the sub-leader. Totepo trailed his path, just five steps ahead of him. This time, Toma did not see him at all while he struggled to get up, too.

The assassin threw a blockade of punches and kicks on the weakened warrior. It was so swift that the Saiya-jin couldn't defend himself at all. Totepo's fury kept climbing as he watched, waiting for the right moment to step in. He never found it. By the time he was ready to attack, the assassin kicked off of the Toma's back to return to the rest of the assassins. The terribly wounded Saiya-jin fell over onto his stomach. From his place more than ten feet away, Totepo could see that his companion was completely still. Blood trailed down his face, limbs, and tail, and the way his face looked was pained and painful to look at.

He gritted his teeth together and snapped his head at the four aliens. How dare they! They will not get away with this!

After that final vow he charged, not caring about anything at all. As he went he prepared to strike. But before he could make the first move, he felt a hard blow to his face. He flew and landed on his back, but the image of his commander gave him a death filled with hope.

V. Toma

The sub-leader shook his head violently, and looked up in time to see Totepo's final moments. He picked up his upper torso and cursed as loudly as he could, the sounds of the assassins' chuckling reaching its final nerve point in his brain. He was the only one left. He had to be strong. For himself, for the others, for Bardock. He must be the opposite of what he's been for the past nine years. He must!

Toma knew now he couldn't take care of them by himself anymore. That is, if he ever could. Nonetheless, he needed help, and there was only one person who would listen. Again, he cursed himself for being weak. He let all his comrades get killed. It was extremely worse than the things he has done to Bardock, as inadvertent as they had been. If he survived this, how will he explain everything? And if he didn't survive, he knew the worst that would happen. Banished from the Bardock's memory. That was something he didn't want to happen.

Toma readjusted his eyes, shaking away the spots that were right before him. Once he was able to see clearly, he took notice of his last hope. A scouter. It couldn't be his. He saw it disintegrate right before his eyes. Panboukin's scouter exploded when he died. And if Totepo dealt with too many energy blasts during the battle, than that could only mean it was Celipa's scouter!

Did it matter? To him, yes. He couldn't explain it, not even to himself. There wasn't anything special about the female's scouter, either.

Last hope, he thought sternly as he reached for the jade-tinted scouter. Must.. get..!

Everything came to his astonishment when the same creature that had killed everyone else destroyed the only source of communication he had. He now knew he was going to end up dying. No chance for survival. But he wasn't going to go down without answers. He asked the same question that had been ringing in his mind for the past hour.

That's when he took the hardest blow of them all.

They --no, all of the Saiya-jin-- had been betrayed by Freeza.

Freeza wanted to kill them all despite the hard work they put into their labor. Despite their loyalty and trust. Why? Dodoria claimed that they had become bothersome to him. After that comment Toma did a skim of all the jobs he had to do with his crew. They always met the deadlines. As far as he was concerned, they did a pretty good job. Always. But why the brutal attack on this team if they didn't do anything save for what Freeza requested? Why not the other teams that weren't doing such a good job?

Why us?

The answer never came. He didn't even have time to ask the question. The next thing he knew, his entire jaw was in the worst pain he had ever felt in his entire life. He felt passing air surround his body while he flew through the air. Then, black.

VI. Bardock

Blood. But it was not Bardock's inner liquids dripping across his hand. It was his closest companion's blood, who had just died in his arms. He still couldn't believe it. Still couldn't believe that each of his comrades had been killed. By Freeza. He had no clue of what had happened, or how it happened. All he knew was that if they had been a little patient they'd still be alive.

It's all my fault for being careless on Kanassasei! Bardock fumed while he stared at all of his dead comrades. If I had just attacked instead of just standing there while the Kanassasei-jin was charging, this wouldn't have happened!

Now he suffered with the illusions in his head, his dead companions, and the sudden urge for revenge. He told himself it wasn't just because his crew had been murdered. It was because all of the Saiya-jin --including himself-- had fallen victim to being slaves. Tricked. How sickening the thought was!

Nonetheless, he still wished Toma had decided to wait instead of trying to impress him. Bardock would much rather have his crew breathing, walking, and talking than being impressed at their success they had done by themselves without them living.

If only they hadn't decided to leave without their commander...

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