The Prince of All Sayajin
|Xanadu story universe|
The Prince of All Sayajin
By Robert Haynie.
A Liquid Courage sidestory.
"I am the Prince of all Sayajin, once again!"
-- Vegita, Dragon Ball Z, the Cell Games
Maybe it was fate.
Win a little lottery prize-- only five hundred bucks, but enough to go to a con.
Meet a few people all excited about Xanadu.
Agree to accompany them on the drive to Florida... hey, this was supposed to be a BIG one. Besides, in IRC, I had learned that a more than a few fellow fan-authors were going to be there-- some I hadn't met yet.
That Breck guy twisting his ankle at the last moment, and bemoaning the fact that he wasn't going to be able to enter his carefully crafted Vegita costume into the contest because he just plain couldn't WALK.
Everyone else in the damn room noting that I was about his size, and anyway, I did a better Vegita than HE did.
Maybe it was fate.
Personally, if I ever MEET fate face to face, fate is going to be on the receiving end of a Gatling Burst.
Breck is a total otaku. I don't mean that in the US application, I mean that in the Japanese sense. The man is OBSESSED with cosplaying. He makes costumes that are insanely accurate. He puts almost all his money into the damn things from his day job at K-Mart.
And he's about my size.
And he's clumsy as hell.
By now you see where this is going.
Now, everyone was telling me I looked fine in the costume. And everyone was telling me that Breck deserved to have it in the contests. And everyone was telling me that I was just being silly about it. A TRUE cosplayer knows how to deal with a bit of discomfort, you see.
What everyone was ignoring was that I was NOT a true cosplayer, but a fanfiction writer, that I wasn't in the best of health anyway, that I had always had problems with heat, and that I was sweltering in layered foam faux muscles and that damn ludicrous foam wig. And I couldn't see clearly more than three feet in front of my face.
Only Breck's promise to buy me a few Lovecraft paperbacks and some Ranma manga volumes and a case of Anchor Steam if the damn thing won kept me in the heat-sealing gear. He owed me at least one Ranma and a sixpack regardless.
Then it happened.
I figured at first that I was going to have a nice little case of heatstroke-- the sudden dizziness, the uncertain wobbling in my knees, and the not quite describable feeling of something wrong inside. Then I remembered the time I HAD had heatstroke, and realized that this was nothing like that.
And then... I felt great.
For the first time in years, I felt completely healthy.
And that SCARED me.
About then I started to realize I was hearing better than I was used to. And for a second I wondered when I had put my glasses on. And then I remembered... I hadn't.
That's when the chaos began to happen. Screaming. Yelling. Stuff like that.
I didn't know WHAT to do. So I went to my room. Whatever was going on, I was going to take the damn costume off before I tried to figure it out...
And a few minutes later, Breck was staring at me as the only thing I peeled off was what looked like spandex and I realized that I had somehow gained muscles that just plain did NOT make any sense.
"what... what happened... to..."
"Man, I don't know. This is--"
"What happened to my costume? I spent almost a YEAR on that!"
I sighed. Damn otaku.
Uncertainly, I reached upwards. Hair. Not wig. Very STRANGE hair, but hair. Almost but not quite shaking, I turned to the mirror.
I had been dreading that I was somehow an living cartoon. That wasn't the case. Rather, I looked like Vegita if he had been a real person, and Toriyama had based the characters design on me-- the animated version being a caricature of the reality (or surreality) that was me.
"Nothing happened to your costume. Your costume happened to me."
"Never mind." Why bother to explain anything to this insect-- Whoa. Where had THAT thought come from?
Somewhere deep inside, I knew I should be panicking. But I wasn't. It was as though panic was no longer on my mental list of things to do. In fact, I had never felt more calm in my life.
No, calm wasn't the right word.
Self-assured. That was it. A strange confidence. I looked at myself--I'd lost about nine inches of height, and now barely hit five feet, but balanced that with what looked to be an added hundred pounds, apparently entirely muscle. The pine-cone like 'do somehow looked right on me, where on anyone else it would have looked completely silly.
Breck was slowly beginning to take it all in. "O.K. So, somehow you turned into my costume?"
"No, Breck." Exasperating human. "Somehow I turned into Vegita. There is no costume."
"Or at least I look like him. And I think it's happening to other people too."
"But... but what about my costume?"
I felt a sudden flare of anger. "Damn it, Breck, can't you see anything other than your pathetic cosplay obsession?" For a moment thoughts of erasing him from existence bounced around enticingly in my mind. This was all his fault, after all. The idiotic human would deserve anything I chose to deal him--
Whoa. Calm down, Rob. That's not like you. I looked up, to see Breck cowering in the corner of the room, his face white, his eyes nearly as wide as mine were now.
"Breck? Look, I didn't mean to yell at you--"
"You... you were glowing..."
Jenny staggered into the room a bit later, about as confused as confused could be. After all, she hadn't been expecting her cheap cat ears and tail to become real ones. And trust me... considering how her tail was bristling, I knew she was major upset.
"I have whiskers. I didn't even put whiskers on. Why do I have whiskers?"
"Search me. Whatever it was, it's why I can do this," I replied as I tossed a just finished beer can up in the air and vaporized it with what I could only call a very very very tiny chi-burst.
"Eeeep." Her new whiskers were twitching.
Breck had finally calmed down-- well, he'd more gone into a state of minor catatonia-- and wordlessly passed me another beer. I opened it by poking my finger through the top instead of the pull ring. Yeah, showing off, but only in little ways. I wasn't sure how far this had gone yet. One thing was for sure, I was glad the costume was based on the Freeza Saga-- you know, the cooler one without the silly shoulder flaps-- which meant I had no tail. Somehow I didn't want to experience the joys of turning into a hundred foot tall monkey during the next full moon.
"I expect that it's something of a madhouse out there, girl. I mean, Jenny."
"Um... yeah, but not like you'd think. I mean, I think some of those people really think they ARE who they... um... are."
"At times I have similar... impulses. Fortunately, I'm strong enough not to fall prey to them." I couldn't keep a strange note of pride out of my voice at that.
"Anyway, I'm going to change clothes. Mine feel funny."
"Tail's in the way of your jeans."
"And it pinches." She grabbed her bag, and stepped into the bathroom... and a moment later poked her head out, face paling. "My... my figure's changing. I think I'm losing weight. And gained a cup size."
"Hmmph. Never saw a catgirl who didn't have perfect proportions unless they were exaggerated."
"You're not helping."
I replied by going back to my beer.
It wasn't that I wasn't concerned for these guys. It was rather that any concern I had was an abstract. And somewhere inside me was a strange longing... one I, quite frankly have never had personally since I grew out of adolescence.
I wanted a fight.
A good one.
And I was painfully aware that there probably wasn't anyone alive who could give me one. I knew how to compare the various costumes I'd seen, and...
Breck had no idea how the gods must have smiled on him and his ankle.
Things had begun to calm down, and I was hungry. In fact, I was hungrier than I had ever been in my life. I decided to get a sandwich.
Things had BEGUN. But stuff was still happening. Some kid ran past me screaming, "Alice, cut it out!" Alice, apparently, had green hair, dressed in a tiger bikini, was flying erratically, and was screaming back, "I'm sorry, Darling, I can't figure out how to stop!"
I passed by a few Playboy Bunnies, who were serving sodas to some cops, nodded at what I guessed to be a Pern fan from the living firelizard on his shoulder (There had been a dealer selling plush ones, I guess they took) and ignored-- pointedly-- Dan Hibiki. (Why anyone would dress as THAT loser was beyond me.)
Then I felt it. A familiar energy. Something I had never felt before, and yet it was as if I had felt it a million times.
I looked about, half in anticipation, half in a not-exactly panic. And I saw him. Well, I saw his absurd hair across the hall.
And I approached. Part of me wanted to meet this guy and start swapping stories. Another part wanted to start plowing into him without further ado. And a VERY BIG part said, "Even if you can't seem to get drunk, you REALLY need a drink anyway for the timing."
I decided to go with impulses one and three. Approaching, I overheard the subject of Kakarott's conversation.
A series that we held quite different opinions on.
"She's a complete and total maniac. Violent, uncute, flatchested-- and the way she treats him--"
"Aw, Kakarott, Lina's nowhere near as bad as you make her out to be."
He spun, staring. "What-- WHAT THE HELL?"
"Besides, Grey, you always exaggerated her bad points, in my not so humble opinion."
"How... how do you know my name--"
I sighed. "Because you're still wearing your con badge. It's so damn symmetrical. Rob Chaynie, at your service... Kakarott."
He sighed. "Please don't call me that."
"Son Grey, then?"
"Anyhow, I was going to get a drink and a sandwich. Looks like we have a lot to talk about."
"Food sounds good."
It was lucky for me that I had a fair amount of cash when I went to the concession stand, one of many dotting the convention. I'd intended to buy a single hotdog and a beer. Instead I found myself ordering a dozen dogs with everything possible on them and a sixpack. Stranger, I ate them in less than ten minutes, and still didn't feel sated.
Grey did the same, except he chose sodas, and was, well, messier than I was about eating. "I'm going to have to get more food somehow, but I can't afford these darn hotel prices."
"Same here. I suggest we head to a supermarket-- there's one across the street-- and stock up on food."
We chose just the right time to do so. Just after we came back, the police sealed the hotel.
"So. WHY did you buy two cases of ramen, one of Spam, all that bread and a rice cooker?" asked Jenny.
"Because my appetite seems to be hitting Sayajin levels as well, you can cook ANYTHING in a rice cooker if you know how, it was cheap, and no WAY am I going hungry." Paper bowls for ramen, check. Spam to add for protein, check. Rice cooker to cook all the rice I had bought, check. Pickles, spices, vegetables and tons of other cheap and easy foods, check. Two for one on cup noodles is a GOOD deal when you are starting to eat like a Sayajin. I would have been out of petty cash except for an ATM at the store.
Before, carrying all this stuff would have been impossible. Now? Even the three cases of beer and six of soda meant nothing. If anything, I was STRONG. Then again, so was Grey, who had bought much the same mix, except where I had got beer, he'd gone for a ton of sports drinks. We'd just asked for a few large boxes instead of bags and carried them manually.
So in a cheap five-cup (makes ten cups cooked) rice cooker, I was prepping six packets of ramen, with three cans of Spam that I'd shredded with my bare fingers and a bag of frozen peas. The rice cooker wasn't designed for this, and in less than a month would burn out under the abuse, but then I wasn't planning to keep it around. This was an emergency measure.
"You're really going to eat all that?"
"And I probably won't be really satisfied either. But until we are released, this is the best I can do."
Later I ran into Tony. And realized that release would be... problematic.
I remember the meeting very well. I'd mentioned that apparently every physical ailment I had had vanished. This prompted Grey, who had apparently been lactose intolerant, to dash downstairs and reappear in three minutes with a half dozen huge milkshakes.
I wasn't sure why I was at a so-called superhero meeting-- if anything, I was more of an antihero. Lord knows, the scraps of memories I was beginning to filter said that. It was like remembering a dream, but not a good one. Vegita had been a strange cross between noble and honorable warrior and total rat bastard. I wasn't either. But I was uncomfortably aware I easily could be.
There's a phrase that started to percolate... Personality Death. It seemed to be a matter of, well, the more you "got into" your character, the more like you were going to become that character totally.
I suppose I hadn't been trying enough. Yet another advantage to not being a real cosplayer.
I'll admit, things were a bit surreal. June, who I had first had the pleasure to meet in person last night was a cabbit. An honest to god cabbit. And Captain America, and Captain Marvel, and... Okay. Maybe being a Sayajin wasn't THAT strange. Comparatively speaking.
Earlier, Tony had suggested that I find out if I could fly. Kak-- I mean, Grey and I had managed to sneak up to the hotel roof to check. Yep. Pretty wobbly, as though we were exercising a totally new muscle, but we could at least levitate and maneuver. What we'd need to really practice, to perfect, would be wide open spaces.
Which, I suppose, is how we both agreed to the Larkspur idea.
The place where we set up was desolate, barren, hardly habitable. And a tiny part of me felt pleased. It was a lot like Vegitasei, the Sayajin homeworld-- but without the heavy gravity, radical extremes of temperatures, and vicious animal life-- that is, other Sayajin.
I liked it.
Time passed. We built up the place. There were conflicts, there were adventures... I was able to attend my father's funeral incognito, to let my family know I was alive... Michael, my eldest nephew, calls me Uncle Vegita. Heh.
It's as good a life as I can ask. Somehow I speak perfect Japanese, and read it too. And about a dozen other languages... I think it's either those that DBZ was translated to, or maybe it's because on the show EVERYONE spoke the same language, irrespective of race, nation, species or planet of origin.
There have been some fights that were worth it. Grey and I spar daily, in the mountains. We're learning a lot from the Saotome twins about techniques, and we're getting their power up to decent levels-- nowhere near ours, true, but they are likely to be the most powerful humans alive.
And right now I'm sitting here with a laptop that Ami and Brain made for me, on a mountain peak, typing this for no reason I can think of. Except as, perhaps, a record to future generations about out changed world.
And a silly impulse overcomes me...
I stand, hair waving in the wind as much as it ever does, and I raise one fist to the sky. For a moment, I allow the power to truly sink into my soul. For a moment, I indulge myself, to be TRULY Vegita...
And I howl into that wind the words I have held in my changed heart since whatever had happened happened.
"I am the Prince of All Sayajin-- for the first time!"
And this time... it's the truth.
Perhaps I'll let fate off easy if we do meet.
Robert Haynie, who really really wants to find a working technique for making beer out of cheese. Why? Why ask why? I just want to...