Back at Ringuin's home again, Goku was not in his normal cheerful mood. His second encounter with Frieza hadn't been successful; he'd not been awake to terrify, and on top of that, it felt like Goku was the one being psychologically manipulated. He hated taking an innocent life, which Frieza most definitely was not, but at the same time, he couldn't stomach having to kill someone so helpless. He stabbed at a spear of some leafy orange vegetable, absentmindedly chewing and swallowing. 'Damnit, I can't even enjoy my food, this whole issue is giving me a stomachache...' he fumed silently. He hated being pushed into this, but he knew, deep down, that it had to be him. No one was strong enough to take on Frieza. Vegeta had the will, but lacked the strength. 'I'll bet he wouldn't lose his appetite over this...' Goku thought angrily. He could just imagine what Vegeta would do to an immobilized, unconscious Frieza. The two were sadistic to the same degree. That night, Goku fell into a troubled sleep on his spongy bed. He tossed and turned, finally exhausting himself enough to drift off.
Muffled voices sounded almost as though they were traveling to him from the surface of a deep pool of water, as he floated numbly in the depths. He tried to remember what was going on, but came up with fuzzy, useless recollections. It was so hard to think... A sharp pain in his side brought him minor clarity, as the muffled voices grew louder, and from the sound of it, more panicked. "Hold him down, dammit!" a loud voice clearly shouted. 'Hold who down..?' he thought groggily. Maybe if he opened his eyes, he could figure this out, but his eyelids felt so heavy... With enormous effort, he managed this small feat. Above him, a blindingly bright light drilled into his skull, and outlined by this, several doctors of various races stared at him with expressions ranging from fear to horror. He became aware of the pain, starting with a stabbing pain in his lower abdomen, but radiating out from there to encompass his whole body. He struggled to look down at himself, seeing and smelling blood, antiseptics, and metal. The pain intensified, and he screamed, not bothering to try to contain the sound. A mask was shoved onto his face, and in a panic, he inhaled sharply. Almost immediately, his eyelids felt heavy again.
Goku's eyes snapped open. 'Another dream...' he closed his eyes, massaging his temples. His body felt rested, but his mind, subject to Frieza's consciousness, begged for more rest. He couldn't afford to waste time sleeping in, though. After an enormous breakfast with Ringuin, he trudged out the door to meet Ramein and continue his training. 'I sure hope that these dreams fade away soon...Ringuin said they would, eventually, at least...'
Within a few minutes, the tired feeling had almost faded from his mind, as he weaved his way through the maze of streets in the village, taking his time in reaching the training grounds. Ramein was already impatiently waiting for him, with the usual scowl on his face. "You're late, off-worlder. If the training is too much for you to handle, you can just let me know, instead of sleeping in and wasting my morning." He crossed his arms.
"Ah...sorry 'bout that..." Goku yawned, trying to look convincingly tired. "I've been having those dreams every night now, but at least they seem to be getting shorter and less...involved, I guess. Still pretty scary, though." The dreams were disturbing, yes, but Goku knew that he had other reasons for unconsciously avoiding training. Today was a new day, and every single day, Ramein wanted him to "visit" Frieza, and make his presence known.
Ramein sighed in a way that indicated his annoyance. "Whatever. Now, are you awake enough to use the technique correctly? If you miss your mark, I will not relish having to come rescue you out in space."
Goku hesitated, weighing his options. If he lied - he felt tired, but not exhausted - he wouldn't have to do this today. Of course, he hadn't made much progress, and he still needed any advantage he could get. He sighed, "...Yeah, I'm okay, I guess." Ramein nodded at him, and stood watching as he cleared his mind for the jump.
Again, he found himself in the same room on board the ship, with the dim red lights overhead. Frieza was back on the table, eyes closed...but from his ki, Goku sensed that he wasn't asleep. The Saiyan walked out of the shadows of the darkened, red-hued room, trying to force calm into his being. 'This is it...he's awake, I feel it...' Getting closer, he saw that Frieza's appearance had changed. Shiny metal accentuated his paper-white skin in places, though where the two met was discolored and puffy. Several tubes and wires ran from some of the protrusions on his chest to a machine beside the table that emitted a soft hum. As he approached, Frieza, without opening his eyes, sighed. Goku almost jumped at that, but forced himself to stand his ground.
"What..? Do you have a message from my father for me? Or are you with Dr. Karam?" he rasped. 'He thinks I'm one of the doctors' Goku realized, remembering that the Arcosian couldn't sense energy. His voice had a hint of the haughty tone Goku remembered from Namek, but more than anything, he sounded tired. The Saiyan was tempted to just leave, but it was too late for that. Ramein had given him some idea of what to do and not do, and Goku didn't think it would be smart to try to talk to Frieza, lest he slip up and say something that would make him suspicious. So, he waited, silently.
Frieza's eyelids twitched, and he emitted a small growl of annoyance at being ignored. "I can hear you there, I'm not deaf! You'd better speak up, or I'll —" As he started to berate what he thought was a hapless minion, he finally opened his eyes, almost immediately locking on to the person standing next to the table. His words trailed off into a cry of surprise, and the whole table briefly shook as he struggled to move backwards against the straps holding him down. "...No. N-no, it c-can't be..! You! You're...alive? No! You're j-just a ghost!" At this, Goku allowed a faint smirk to play upon his lips. Frieza's eyes grew wide at this small gesture, and he immediately tried to escape, even as the table held him securely in place. With some amusement, the Saiyan watched him struggle in vain, unconsciously making small noises of fear in his throat. 'So, he's afraid of ghosts, huh? Guess he thinks I'm dead, then.' He chuckled at the thought that someone so powerful was superstitious to the point of panic at the sight of him, dressed in a ragged gi. Frieza's eyes were wide with terror, his lips quivering. He sounded like he was whimpering, or maybe quickly whispering something under his breath. 'I know, I'll bet this'll really make an impression on him...if I can just do it...' Goku thought as he stopped chuckling, instead thinking back to when he had first transformed. Ramein had suggested that to regain it, he had to relive the desperation and need.
The Genkidama had failed, and there he was, staring down Frieza with all of his strength sapped, but still determined to fight. But the coward before him didn't attack him directly, instead targeting Piccolo, and then, coldly murdering Krillin. The shock and horror of his best friend's death still fresh in his mind, he heard the monster laugh, saw him aiming for Gohan...
He felt a rush of energy, and by the pure horror on Frieza's face, he knew he'd done it. The golden flame licked around him, and he knew he was grinning a wild, dangerous smile. He felt energies outside the room, probably alerted by their scouters to his presence. With a final smirk at Frieza's stunned face, he casually walked behind a tangle of electronics in the red-lit room, and prepared to depart. 'See you in your dreams, Frieza' he thought.
Once again back on Yardrat, Goku relayed his "meeting" with Frieza to Ramein. His master looked immensely pleased, despite his flat tone when congratulating him. "Soon enough, Saiyan, he'll be too terrified to even think of attacking your homeworld. He may even convince that other strong alien that it's a bad idea to seek out your Earth, as well." He grinned devilishly.
"Uh...Ramein?" Goku asked, "Have you used Shunkan Idou like this before, like, on the other warriors Frieza sent here before?"
"Eh? No, not really, though Soba and I have done other things with the technique to thwart their plans for conquering us. You know, sabotaging their ships, stealing supplies, basic scare tactics." the blue-green alien said in his gravelly voice.
"Oh...well, I was just wondering where you got the idea for me to scare Frieza like this... I mean, it's not very honorable..." Goku ventured cautiously.
Ramein regarded him with a haughty scowl. "You and your honor again... It is as I said before, you cannot afford to fight fair when your enemy won't play by your rules, and they're stronger than you. As for your "visits" with Frieza...hmph, I'd be lying if I said that we hadn't heard of the legendary Super Saiyan. You're the ultimate avatar of fear in the universe, despite your soft nature, so why not use it? It's working, is it not?"
Goku frowned, "Well, yeah...it is working, but I just... I dunno, I don't think I like it when other people are scared of me..." He looked down, fidgeting with a loose thread on his already threadbare gi.
"The Readers sure had you pegged, though I couldn't believe it at the time." Ramein sighed. "To think, someone with such power, and you have no intention of ever abusing it for your own gain or lording it over others, even enemies. You truly are simple-minded, but in your case, maybe that is for the best. At any rate, I am glad that you can turn into that Super Saiyan form of yours again—from what you've told me, you'll need it."
After another day's training with Ramein under his belt, Goku sighed with genuine exhaustion as he made his way back to Ringuin's place. His stomach growled loudly, in anticipation of the feast he was sure Ringuin would have ready for him. 'Man, what a day...' he yawned, thinking of that morning. 'Frieza is probably pretty rattled now. I guess all I gotta do is keep going back, and going Super Saiyan for him to see. It's easier to do it when I'm standing in front of him, so that's convenient.' He felt better about what he was doing, if only slightly. He wasn't actually hurting Frieza, just scaring him. He insisted to himself that it was the right thing to do.
He was struggling, the thick straps of the table starting to cut into his flesh as he thrashed about. "I am not insane! I'm telling you, I saw the Super Saiyan!" Standing over him, the doctors exchanged worried looks, before the head medic, Karam, fixed him with a look that was clearly patronizing. He growled deep in his throat.
"Lord Frieza, our scouters detected a power level on the rise just before the guards entered your recovery room, but there was nobody here." The bird-like doctor clasped his clawed hands together. "You were probably having a...nightmare...and powered up, waking yourself in the process. I assure you, it was —"
"I was awake! I know what I saw!" Frieza roared. Bruises were beginning to form around his wrist and chest from the straps, but he ignored the pain. "He was here, and you are too incompetent to even properly guard against intruders!" His voice was quivering in rage now, and the doctors all backed away slowly.
"My lord...you're obviously a little...ah, confused..." the avian doctor tried to keep the fear out of his voice, but it was clear to Frieza just how afraid he was by his cowering posture. "Perhaps if you were to rest, your mind would heal more fully, and then—"
"Dammit! Are you deaf?! " Frieza practically shrieked, "I want a full security detail on this room, at all times, do you understand? I don't know how, but the monkey has a way of appearing and disappearing at will, and I don't appreciate being left unable to defend myself!" He punctuated his sharp words, veins bulging out on his body as he jerked against the restraints. The head doctor unconsciously took a step back, eyeing the table's straps warily, as if wondering how close they were to breaking.
"Frieza, do behave yourself. You are far too old to be throwing tantrums when you are inconvenienced." Frieza's head snapped to the side, just now noticing his father had entered the dim room. The giant Arcosian ignored the startled gasps from the lower-ranking technicians. "Really, Frieza, listen to yourself. 'Appearing and disappearing at will'? Since when has your logic been so woefully absent?" the king chided.
"I...I know what I saw, father..." Frieza said, in a much quieter tone than before. He clenched his one fist. "This Saiyan...he is unlike any we've ever encountered, and I don't think—"
"How presumptuous of you, my son." Kold interrupted. "You have no idea of that which I have experienced...so far be it for you to tell me what I have or have not encountered." His serious tone drew more frightened noises from the weaker aliens present, while Frieza continued to stare stonily ahead, his face a blank mask. "If this Saiyan of yours is even alive—which I doubt—he is merely an ape, no more, and no less." The King leaned in close to his scion's newly-mechanized face. "You are not in charge here, Frieza. You are on my ship, under my command, at least for now. If you've forgotten how to be respectful, I'll be quick to remind you." He straightened himself, then strode out of the room without another word. Frieza curled his lip in anger. Inside, he was beginning to doubt what he'd been sure he'd saw, and felt. As much as it hurt his pride to be embarrassed by his father in front of these...peons...it hurt him more to think that he was weak-minded. He would have to keep his temper under control, or risk his father's wrath. Goaded as he was, he felt exhausted from straining against his bindings, and reluctantly gave in to sleep, troubled by turquoise eyes and gold flame.
Goku opened his eyes, with the sensation that he'd just closed them. 'It wouldn't be so exhausting if it didn't feel like I wake up right when Frieza goes to sleep...' he concluded. He yawned cavernously, rolling out of his spongy bed reluctantly. Another day, and another workout with Ramein beckoned, after which, appropriately exhausted and rumpled-looking, he'd don his old gi and use Shunkan Idou to pay Frieza a visit.
After training, he readied himself to transmit to where Frieza was. "Wonder what I can do this time to scare him?" he pondered out loud, scratching his head. "Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure something out!" With a smirk of anticipation, he vanished into thin air.
Frieza was awake, and unrestrained for the first time since Goku had begun coming to the ship. Casually walking out from behind a tall metal structure, Goku allowed his golden transformation to overtake his aura. Almost in slow motion, Frieza turned around, his mouth dropping into a slack-jawed expression of fear. "Y-you..!" he choked out. Goku began advancing on him, noting that today, he had two arms - the new one was shiny, polished metal, with armor-like sections on it. "W-what do you w-want from me?!" the Arcosian spoke in a harsh whisper, voice trembling. The Super Saiyan remained taciturn, only smirking in response as the small alien backed away from him. Not watching where he was going, Frieza crashed into a metal tray on a stand, falling backwards. In his moment of distraction, Goku quickly flashed in front of him using only his speed, so that when the cyborg looked up, the Super Saiyan was right in his face. The scream he emitted was gratifying.
This time though, Frieza wasn't held down by any straps, so in addition to screaming, he lashed out. A Death Beam aimed and fired swiftly at his head, Goku merely tilted his head to the side, feeling the heat as the thin beam passed by his temple, then a BANG as it drilled through the wall behind them. 'He's feeling more energetic today, I guess,' Goku thought. 'That's probably enough for now. That blast'll probably bring the guards running.' He already felt the ki signatures of the soldiers outside the room closing in. With a smile, he left Frieza sprawled on the floor shaking, stepping behind a piece of machinery, and transmitting out of the ship. He didn't notice that a few of his singed, now-black hairs had floated to the metal-tiled floor.
That night, Goku was in better spirits, eating enthusiastically and joking with Soba, who had come over to ask about his training and stayed for dinner. Ringuin kept the food coming, so by the time Soba had said his goodbyes, Goku was well and truly stuffed. Patting his distended belly, he thanked Ringuin profusely for the meal, and went to bed.
There was a sense of nervous tension. Goku observed through Frieza's eyes, knowing now to simply relax and let the vision play out. The tyrant seemed to be worried about being discovered, skulking through what Goku could only guess was a maintenance corridor in the vast ship. His biological hand was clenched tightly, and he kept looking at it to reassure himself that what he held was still there. 'What's he got..?' Goku thought curiously. Coming to a ledge formed by an overhanging pipe, Frieza reached up, feeling around for something. He withdrew a small metal box from the hiding place, grinning in what looked like relief. "I'm not insane, and now, oh now...I'll be able to prove it..!" he whispered to himself, opening the box. Opening his hand above it, he released a few strands of something black into the box. 'Wha-?! How'd he get that?! Oh no...' Goku thought with worry. 'When he shot at me, I guess he grazed my hair...shit, now I'm in trouble...if I don't do something, he's gonna blow my cover!' He watched as Frieza replaced the box, before backing out of the alcove and stealing his way back through the claustrophobic corridor. Goku could feel the wave of relief wash over Frieza's senses. Though his psychic dreams had diminished to where he wasn't in tune with the Arcosian's direct thoughts, strong emotions still left an impression. Frieza was convinced that he had proof of his ghost.
With a start, Son Goku woke up, again in his own body. "Shit," he groaned, "I messed up, big time. Ramein's gonna kill me..." He hastily dressed, ate a quick breakfast, and went to meet his teacher. After conveying the situation, Goku saw that instead of being angry, Ramein merely smirked.
"Don't fret, Goku. This offers you another opportunity to make Frieza doubt himself further. Could you locate this alcove on the ship, and find the box?" he asked.
"Well...yeah, I guess so... But didn't you say I shouldn't touch anything? Won't it make Frieza suspicious if I take the box?" the pure-hearted Saiyan looked at his teacher with a puzzled expression.
Ramein crossed his arms, shaking his head. "Ah Goku, you truly are naive... You will not be taking the box. In fact, it's imperative that you put it back exactly where you found it, and exactly as Frieza left it."
"Huh?" Goku's eyebrows furrowed with further confusion. "I don't understand, master, if I'm not taking it —"
"You're simply going to remove all traces of your existence, Goku. Just the hair exists as a clue that you are not a specter. With that gone, Frieza will begin to doubt his own mental state, knowing that he left the evidence in that box, but being unable to account for its absence." He smirked again. "He'll believe he's gone mad."
Goku nodded, finally understanding the plan. "Then, in that case, I oughtta go there as soon as possible, before he decides to show it to someone. It's a cruel thing to do...but...I can't have him discovering my presence, especially if it might lead him back here..." Closing his eyes, he used Shunkan Idou to reach the ship.
Frieza was asleep, hanging from a vertical metal frame, with a multitude of wires and tubes sticking out of him. With only a brief look of pity for his usual target, Goku reached out with his senses, feeling for every life aboard the ship. It was "night" on the ship, so there were only a few patrolling guards in the hallway outside. 'Good. I should be able to get around all of them, no problem!' he thought. The closest guard, he estimated, wouldn't be able to see him slip out of Frieza's recovery room. Cautiously, he palmed open the door, which slid open with a jarringly loud beep. 'Gah, oh man, that's not good! So much for stealth!' he panicked mentally. Already, a voice was calling out from around the curved hallway, and he heard boots tapping on the floor. He forced himself to calm down, then, put on a burst of speed, dashing past the humanoid guard with a gust of wind. The perplexed guard looked around, even glancing at the ceiling to see if he was under an air vent. Behind him, Goku breathed a sigh of relief as the man shrugged, then continued walking in the opposite direction. He was safe, for now.
'Okay Goku, now to go find that corridor...and the box...' he urged himself. From what he remembered from Frieza's perspective, the corridor was on the other end of the ship, near the bridge. Without any more encounters with the guards, he made it there in record time, even going slowly and cautiously. Goku carefully walked down the cramped passageway—it was even more narrow than he'd expected—looking for the overhanging pipe. 'Geez, I gotta be careful, or I'll get stuck in here!' he thought as he banged his elbow on a protruding tap on the wall. "Frieza can get in here no problem 'cause he's so short!" he snickered. "Aha!" he cried in triumph. At his height, he could not only see the pipe in front of him, but could make out, in the dim light, the box sitting at a careless angle atop it. "Okay then..." he reached for the metal container. Ramein had impressed upon him that he touch nothing but the hair, and put everything back just so. He popped the box open.
"Huh..? Wonder what all this stuff is..." he murmured, looking at the contents. His hair was resting on top of a pile of yellowed papers adorned with an alien script, next to two small, round objects that looked like oversized, shiny, blue beads. After removing his hair—and incinerating it in the palm of his hand with ki—he again looked at the items. 'I guess whatever they are, it's something he wanted to keep hidden,' the Saiyan thought, 'probably something personal.' He shrugged, then replaced the box at the same angle he remembered finding it. His mission completed, he focused, brought two fingers to his forehead, and vanished from the passageway.
After a harrowing, unexpected brush with disaster, Goku was eager to go back and train with Ramein. They spent the day sparring, and Goku devoted some time to perfecting his transformation. As gloam turned the sky various shades of pastel oranges and reds, he headed back to Ringuin's home, satisfactorily tired from training.
Frieza was irate. Goku could feel the acid in his words as he raged, making him almost cringe. "It was here, I swear it! I know it was!" A crash, as he overturned a table. He was growling and glaring at a diminutive scientist in the typical white frock, who had backed against a wall in abject terror, cornered by the cyborg.
"M-my lord, p-please, calm yourself..." He stuttered, his yellow eyes bulging. "Are you certain that this...evidence...wasn't j-just another dream, o-or..." he trailed off, as Frieza bared his teeth and punched the wall, putting a large dent into it.
"I had it, I know I did..!" he ground out in frustration. "Where could it have gone?! Unless..." He rounded on the scientist, making him jump. "He took it. To prevent me from exposing him, and to embarrass me! That sneaky ape..!" he clenched his fists in anger, even his metal tail lashing with the strength of his ire.
"...'He', my lord?" the scientist questioned. "Do you mean the, uh, Super Saiyan you've been seeing?"
"Of course, you blithering idiot! Who else is driving me insane, besides you and your compatriots, with your incompetence?" Frieza said, exasperated. He massaged his left shoulder, grimacing.
"Well, if you have no physical biological evidence for me to sequence, my lord..." the alien scientist began, trying to keep his voice from trembling, "then...may I be dismissed?" Despite his valiant attempt at sounding unafraid, his voice came out as a squeak. He shifted nervously from one foot to the other, realizing his mistake.
Frieza stiffened, his face hard and angry. "Yes...and I think that it would be good if you were punished for your insolence, don't you?" He raised one hand, already charging a Death Beam.
The scientist turned almost white as the blood drained from his face. "M-my lord, I promise I won't speak a word of this t-to anyone! I swear! I...I'll return to King Kold, a-and tell him that you were t-telling the truth, I promise!" He put his hands in front of him, as if that might protect him from Frieza's wrath.
"Oh, I'm sure that you won't. You proved your disloyalty before when you told Father that there was no evidence, and humiliated me." Frieza coldly said, as he fired the precise attack at the cowering man. Goku, not privy to the tyrant's thoughts, could only guess that Frieza had tried to reveal the proof to his father, but by the time he'd gone back for it, Goku had already destroyed it. He must have told this scientist about it first, expecting him to corroborate the evidence. He looked, through Frieza's eyes, at the slumped body, feeling a pang of regret—he was partly responsible for this person's death. However, his earlier destruction of the hair was having its desired effect: Frieza's mind, he could feel, was a swirling sea of uncertainty.
Waking up to bright sunlight streaming through the window, the spiky-haired Saiyan yawned and stretched, his stomach already clamoring for food. 'Guess Frieza's really second-guessing himself now,' he thought, 'with any luck, he'll realize he's not fit to fight, and leave Earth alone.' Still, something about that wishful thinking was off, Goku knew. Being inside Frieza's head, if briefly, had left him with a more profound understanding of the Arcosian, and his motivations. He was obdurately stubborn, if nothing else. Regardless, Goku knew he'd have to keep trying to wear down his resolve, if there was any hope of keeping his home safe. Sighing, he left his heavy thoughts behind, smelling a tempting breakfast in the kitchen calling his name.
"Okay Ramein, guess I'm off." Goku said casually to his mentor, adjusting what was left of his bloodstained orange uniform. The ripped, tattered cloth looked, convincingly, just as it did on Namek. It had been a week since he had witnessed Frieza's first panicked reaction to his Super Saiyan form, and every day since then, he'd made sure to go back, sometimes startling Frieza by suddenly appearing, other times casually strolling up to him from around a corner as though he owned the huge ship. Every occasion brought a new level of terror from the tyrant, and every night, Goku saw how his handiwork was affecting his enemy's resolve. Goku sensed Frieza's ki, and, making sure no-one was immediately around where he'd transmit, vanished with a displacement of air.
He appeared not in the usual dimly-lit red-hued room, but in a hallway. He had sensed that the placement of energies on the ship was weird from a distance, but now, it was even more apparent. 'Why are all the other aliens on the other side of the ship?' Goku thought, 'Then there's Frieza and Kold...they're so close to each other...and they're powered up!' The hallway was eerily deserted, and a thick metal door to his left concealed the two Arcosians. From the feel of it, the two might have been sparring, Goku thought as he sensed them. Suddenly, he felt Frieza's ki drop significantly, hearing a muffled sound from the other side of the door. In the next moment, he was forced to duck behind the curve of the hallway, as the door abruptly opened. "Whoa..." he whispered to himself, watching the huge Arcosian from before stride out. He was much bigger than Goku had realized from seeing Frieza's perspective. 'His ki is enormous..!' he gulped, feeling his skin prickle with the ki.
Goku let out a sigh of relief when, thankfully, the monstrous alien stalked down the hall in the opposite direction. He certainly didn't want him to catch sight of him. He waited, tense, for Frieza to exit as well. The door remained open, but empty of the cyborg tyrant. 'Where is he..? I still sense him in there, wonder why he's not coming out...' He heard a soft moan from inside. Confused, he stayed where he was, hidden by the hall's curve. He concentrated on Frieza's energy, feeling his ki rise, as though he'd woken up from being knocked out. After a few more minutes, he heard a sound of scraping metal, and Frieza finally made his appearance. Goku's eyes widened. 'He's really badly hurt..!' he thought with shock. To say that Frieza had been on the losing end of a fight would have been an understatement. His left eye was swollen almost shut, and that side of his face was nothing but a mass of bruises. He teetered on his metal feet, grabbing onto the edge of the doorway for support. Then, with a grunt of painful effort, he pushed off of the door, and began to stagger down the hallway...directly towards Goku. 'Shit...' the Saiyan thought, putting his fingers to his forehead. He was still working on the fine control of Shunkan Idou, but he managed to transmit so that he was behind Frieza, looking at his back as he stumbled down the hall. The Arcosian showed no reaction that indicated he'd heard the telltale sound of Goku's technique displacing the air. Goku silently exhaled in relief.
He considered walking up to Frieza now and scaring him, but... He listened to Frieza's ragged breathing. It didn't seem right. 'I think he can go a day without seeing me, and Ramein doesn't have to know.' he thought, reflecting that he was getting sneakier, considering lying about this. Up ahead, the cyborg leaned on a wall for support, panting, his labored breaths shaking his whole body. Goku scrutinized his nearly all-mechanical form. Suddenly, something dawned on him. 'He's only hurt where he's still got his body...' Unconsciously, his face formed into a concerned frown. 'There isn't even a dent in his metal parts...and there's no way that stuff's stronger than he is.' He figured that the lack of damage wasn't due to the metal's resilience - in fact, he'd bet that Frieza himself could take more of a beating than any material he knew of. Slowly, he came to an answer that disturbed him the more he considered it. 'That big guy...Kold. He must have done this on purpose!' Without realizing it, his teeth were gritted in anger. 'He beat him, nearly to death from the look of it...all without touching the metal parts. Guess he thinks they can't be replaced, but Frieza's body's another story...' Something about that conclusion made him seethe, just thinking of how callous someone would have to be, to do this. Frieza stumbled, almost falling to the floor, before dragging himself up, and lurching forward again.
'Where's he going, anyway?' Goku wondered. He had been quietly following the small alien for a while now, who was leaving a trail of smeared blood on the walls as he leaned against them, and on the floor in drips and splatters where he stopped to cough, his shoulders shaking. Wherever he was headed, Goku thought, he seemed bound and determined to get there, even though he was hurting. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Goku could see, up ahead, a room that looked different than the rest of the doors they had passed. Even from here, his sensitive nose could detect the sterile smell of the healing tanks and medical supplies. 'He's heading there, I guess. Kinda weird that it's way on the other side of the ship from the training room...' he thought.
A few meters away from the entrance, Frieza seemed to lose his balance entirely, toppling over and landing in a heap. He didn't move to get up. His ki had fallen to a level that Goku knew spelled unconsciousness. Seconds ticked by, then minutes, until it was apparent that he wasn't getting up. The kind-hearted Saiyan hesitated, waffling between using Shunkan Idou to leave now...or doing something that Ramein really wouldn't approve of.
A puddle of blood leaked out from beneath Frieza's slumped form, and Goku realized he'd been clutching his side with his organic arm this whole time. Now he could see a jagged bone poking through where his hand had covered, probably a rib. 'I...I just can't leave him like this...' Goku closed his eyes, balling his fists. Nobody was coming down this hallway any time soon, he had a nagging suspicion. Nobody would help Frieza. Cursing under his breath, he gingerly picked the Arcosian up, freezing when he groaned slightly, but when he didn't awaken, he hurriedly ran the remaining distance to the entrance of the medical bay, and peeked around the door. 'Good, nobody's here...' he thought with relief. One of the tanks was already open, as though expecting an occupant. 'Perfect!' he thought, gently placing Frieza inside and pulling the oxygen mask over his face. "Now...let's see..." he mumbled, trying to remember the buttons Vegeta had pushed to start the thing up. "Ah, here we go." He filled the tank, keeping an eye out for any of the aliens on the ship, or Frieza waking up. With a sigh, he remarked, "Man, maybe Ramein's right. I can't stand seeing anyone in pain, even you...maybe my kindness'll get me in trouble..." Satisfied that Frieza was securely in the healing chamber, he finally put his fingers to his head, and zeroed in on Ramein's waiting energy signature.
As he predicted, his gruff mentor was fuming when he came back. "Where the hell where you? You were gone far too long, Goku!" He said impassively, though his face was furious.
"Uhh, well...I was...gathering intel?" Goku used a word Ramein had explained to him before. The Yardrat's expression slackened from the angry face he'd been making.
"Well, next time, see that you notify me that you'll be a while; I was beginning to worry that you'd been compromised in some way." he replied with a huff.
"Yeah...I'll try to keep that in mind..." Goku mumbled lamely, hand on the back of his head. 'I hate lying to Ramein like this, but...' He hated to admit it, but the more he saw of Frieza, the less he wanted to kill him. He was already so broken and miserable, it seemed to the Saiyan, that defeating him again would be needlessly cruel. He resolved that if it came down to Frieza coming to Earth with evil intentions, he would at least try to stop him without killing him. That Kold guy was another story, though. The pure-hearted Saiyan always felt a cold shiver whenever he got too close to the behemoth of an Arcosian, and he couldn't delude himself into thinking that he wasn't dangerous. He wasn't sure how he could defeat him, but he hoped beyond hope that it wouldn't come to that, that Frieza would convince his father that pursuing revenge wasn't worth it. Goku hoped it would work.
The next few months seemed to go by in a blur. Goku, training with Ramein, and rarely with Soba and the other strong Yardrats, was starting to feel like the Shunkan Idou technique was second nature to him. It might have been lazy, but he rarely walked anywhere in the village anymore, if he knew someone he could transmit towards. Ramein encouraged this, saying that muscle memory and psychic impressions of the technique were nothing but beneficial. The ease of using the technique meant that Goku visited Frieza more often as well. Throughout the months, the Arcosian had started a steady downward spiral into what the doctors onboard the ship hesitantly classed as a combination of psychosis and paranoia, with more than a few whispers that he'd finally "snapped" under all of the stress and trauma he had endured. It was in this state that Goku found him on his next arrival.
Goku blinked, coming out of hyperspace. It was the designated "nighttime" on the ship, though it was just a formality in space to keep the crew to a workable schedule. All of the main lights overhead were off, with only dim lights illuminating the ship. Frieza was in his recovery room, Goku knew, and since it was night, he knew exactly how he'd find him. 'Wonder if he'll try calling for the guards again...' he pondered, remembering the last time he'd come at this time. Since gaining better control of Shunkan Idou, he could effortlessly zip around inside the space on the ship, and he'd used it last time to conveniently disappear from Frieza's sight, reappearing unbeknownst to him back in the room, out of sight behind a huge hulk of machinery. Listening in to Frieza's near-hysterical reaction, he had to admit that, if he didn't know about his technique, he'd probably be thinking "ghost" too if someone asked him to describe it. A small part of him even relished the fear in Frieza's voice.
Locating Frieza's room, he smirked, then bypassed the door, two fingers to his forehead. The small Arcosian was suspended on the vertical metal frame, various wires and tubes running in and out of his body. His head was down on his chest, and he felt...not asleep, but certainly not fully awake. 'Perfect...' Goku thought. He'd already decided to stick to his silent routine, and he couldn't touch him, so instead, he slowly, gradually powered up, finally breaking into his Super Saiyan form almost gently. At this, Frieza stirred, raising his head.
"...You again." he spoke, his voice sounding hollow, and his eyes looking strangely unfocused and dull.
'What's wrong with him?' Goku thought, searching his face for the usual fear. It was absent, along with any other emotions. His ki, the Saiyan realized, had a sick feel to it, the fluctuations feeling sluggish.
"Go...away... L-leave me...alone...stupid monkey..." he said, in the same monotone as before. Goku realized that his demeanor was really off; even if he was half-asleep, usually by this point he'd have some reaction to him. The Arcosian closed his eyes, weakly gritting his teeth before slumping his head forward again.
Goku's mouth hung slightly agape in shock. 'What?! There's definitely something wrong with him, now I'm sure of it!' He scanned the room for any clues to the tyrant's new behavior. He spied a jar on one of the tables, next to a metal tray containing several nasty-looking instruments, among them, a long, thin needle. Goku shivered at the sight, gingerly picking up the bottle for a better look. He couldn't read the alien writing, but the pills inside were rather large. Chi-chi had once told him, jokingly, that bigger pills were always for bigger ailments, when he'd protested taking a small vitamin, complaining of the medicine-y taste. At the time, he'd been grateful the ones she'd convinced him to swallow were tiny, about a third the size of these. He couldn't imagine getting one of these down easily. 'Big pills for big problems, huh?' He glanced at Frieza, still apathetically ignoring him. That would explain the sick feeling to his aura, and his out-of-character indifference to seeing the Super Saiyan form. Replacing the pill bottle back on the table, he transmitted away, knowing he wouldn't get a rise out of Frieza tonight. He was too out of it, and whatever they'd given him must have been really strong to calm him.
The next few times he "visited", Frieza was again in a dazed state. A few times, Goku noticed darkening purple bruises on his face and chest, and chalked them up to minor damage from sparring with Kold. 'In the state he's in,' Goku thought, 'he's probably slow to react, so his father must not be going all out on him.' He didn't know what was worse, a Frieza who ranted and screamed whenever he caught a glimpse of him, or this quiet shell of his enemy who just stared blankly through him, before resigning himself to the situation and squeezing his eyes shut. Still, Goku continued to check in with the tyrant, at Ramein's insistence. It was frustrating, and more than a little disheartening, to see him in such a pitiful state. One day however, Frieza seemed much more lucid.
A low, mirthless laugh caught him off-guard as he transmitted behind a pile of equipment. Frieza was talking to somebody, Goku realized. 'But who's in here with him? I didn't sense anyone...' he furrowed his brow in confusion. Inching to the edge of the pile, he stole a glance around it. Frieza was standing, his back to the Saiyan, and conversing, seemingly with thin air. Goku's eyes widened.
"Back again to haunt me, huh?" the Arcosian said, a hint of anger in his voice. He brought his hand up to his head, resting his palm over his eyes and sighing. "My doctors, worthless cowards that they are, gave me a peculiar suggestion. Do you want to hear it, monkey?" Silence filled the room again, as Goku watched the exchange with a morbid curiosity. After a moment, Frieza again spoke, staring at the wall. "They told me...that I should try to talk to you. Face my demons, as it were." Another hollow laugh. "My, but I have so many, you're just the latest in a long, long line of nightmares and unwelcome visions." Goku shifted uncomfortably in his hiding place. 'He's really lost it, and thinks he's talking to me, even when I'm not here.' The Saiyan briefly wondered how many times Frieza had "seen" him, as opposed to how many times he'd actually "visited".
Frieza was again addressing a blank spot on the metal wall. "I stopped taking the pills," he said, in a tone that sounded like a mix between a confession of guilt and slight regret, "They make me dull. I can't think straight...or even think at all sometimes... Fufufu, now I might have some idea of what it's like to possess your inferior brain. Oh, but don't worry, I'll be back to normal soon enough. My bad dreams always fade away, and after I've wiped out that nasty little planet of yours, I think I'll be able to sleep easier...oh, much, much easier..." he trailed off, his tone suddenly sounding somehow...sad? 'Why's he sound so down about it? Doesn't he want to destroy Earth? He's not making sense at all!' Goku thought, trying to decode the alien's thoughts. He spoke again, pointing at the wall. "I won't let you break me, do you hear me? I am Frieza. I am g-going to erase you from this world, and prove once and for all h-how foolish the legend of the Super Saiyan really is...there's only one legendary being in this universe, and that's me. Your little fairy-tale will die with you, while my legacy will...will remain!" His voice and body shook as he spoke, and he didn't sound confident in the least, Goku felt. He sounded desperate and scared, as though his speech was more to convince himself than anyone or anything else. Finished with his soliloquy, he turned away from the wall with a dismissive gesture, muttering, "Now go away, and let me rest for once..!" He stiffly walked to the door, clutching the flesh above his mechanical left arm in a way that suggested that he was in pain, before walking out of the room, wincing as he did so.
Goku stayed behind the pile of equipment for a few moments, mulling over what had just happened. 'Geez...if he wasn't before, he's definitely insane now...I kinda feel bad for him, and it looks like his resolve to go to Earth isn't getting any weaker...' Silently, Goku cursed himself, and Ramein for putting him up to this whole charade. He'd end up having to fight Frieza anyway, only next time they met, he'd be dealing with a loose cannon.
After that encounter, Goku reluctantly continued making trips to the ship under the guise of terrorizing Frieza, but more often than not, he found himself silently observing Frieza's world, how he interacted with the others on the ship, and most of all, how the Arcosian seemed to be slipping ever deeper into the grip of despair and madness. Sometimes, when he arrived, Frieza would be near-catatonic, staring up at him with dull, dilated eyes through a haze of drug-induced sedation. Other times, he would be restrained on the table again, laughing madly until he was hoarse, screaming threats and curses at invisible enemies. Still others, he would seem almost normal, but drawn into himself, his thoughts dark and distant. Always, he seemed to be in pain from the metal prostheses.
"There's nothing more I can do to him, Ramein." Goku said in a serious tone. "I'm only making things worse, I think, and he'll be unpredictable in a fight. I think I should stop now."
The blue-green alien stroked his whiskers thoughtfully. "Mm, yes, I suppose you are correct. Too much interference can be overkill, and you need to train some more before you leave...didn't you say that you wanted to depart from us after a year?"
"Yeah," Goku replied, "I think a year's been more than enough to train, keep tabs on Frieza, and recover my strength. Now I can go Super Saiyan pretty easily, and my psychic dreams are almost gone, so I'd say that's a good sign." He clenched his hand in front of him confidently. "I'm really startin' to miss home, too, not that you guys aren't nice to me. I'll have to thank Ringuin for letting me stay at his house this whole time, and cooking for me too!" He was about to comment out loud on how he ought to get Ringuin to write down some of his recipes, in case Chi-chi could replicate them with Earth foods, when a sudden change in energy got his attention. "Hey... The ship, it's moving!" He stared up at the sky, senses fixed on a distant point.
"Ship?" Ramein parroted blankly. "Well then, looks like your Frieza came to the same decision as you. You'd best be off, if you want to beat him to Earth." He gazed upwards as well, feeling out the energies.
"You still think he's heading there..?" Goku said in a grave tone, though he already knew the answer.
"Yes, which is why expediency is key." Ramein gruffly said, shoving Goku ahead of him. "Come on, you need to go back to the village. Go gather your things, get in your ship, and just go."
"Wha-? But...shouldn't I say goodbye to you, and Soba, and everybody else? I've got time for that, don't I?" Goku balked at not even saying farewell to all the Yardrats who had showed him kindness over the past year.
"They'll understand; you have a duty to uphold to protect your planet and family. We Yardrat warriors, more than anyone else, understand the importance of this." Ramein smiled, a rare, genuine smile. "Now go."
"Right!" Goku said with determination. "Thanks for everything, Ramein. Hope we meet again, someday." He put two fingers to his forehead, smirked at his mentor, and with a wave of his other hand, disappeared.
Hitting the ground practically running, he dashed into Ringuin's place, grabbing his old clothes - he was currently dressed in his Yardrat getup. Dashing out the door, he shouted a hasty goodbye to the doctor before he headed for the outskirts of the town, where his space pod had been moved. All the while, he could feel the enormous spaceship, through its web of auras, moving further away. 'Gotta hurry, don't want them gettin' out of range of Shunkan Idou, just in case!' he thought worriedly. 'Alright, I got all my stuff, so guess it's time for me to go.' Reaching the small, round ship, he jumped backwards into it, landing on the cushioned seat. Pressing the button for launch, he was suddenly grateful that the Yardrat scientists had programmed in Earth as his destination, so he wouldn't have to fly it himself. 'Now all that's left is to sit back and enjoy the ride as best I can in here,' he reflected as the ground fell away from the launched pod, 'it'll be the last bit of peace and quiet I'll have for a while, I suspect.' The mechanism for hyperspace flight sedation had been turned off at his request, so he could spend the journey meditating, and of course, mentally keeping an eye on his enemies. 'This is it...' he thought grimly. As much as he feared having to fight Frieza on Earth, a small part of him wanted this fight, wanted to test the new limits of his Super Saiyan form's power, and wanted to test the Shunkan Idou technique in a real battle. The Saiyan smiled.
"...So that's all there is to tell, really." Goku concluded, looking at the rapt faces of his friends on the plane. "After that, I just sat in my pod, and psyched myself for this battle. It was hard sitting still in that itty-bitty space, so now I know why they normally put you to sleep in those things..."
"Wow..." Krillin shook his head in disbelief. "Goku, I don't know what to say. So, you went to an alien world, planned to drive Frieza crazy—well, crazier than he already was, you learned a new technique that defies belief, and never once did you consider that maybe you oughtta let us know where you were and what happened?"
Goku put on a dismayed face. "Well, I figured that Porunga would tell you I was okay, and that was the only thing that mattered. I felt him in my head one day, asking if I wanted to be transported back to Earth, but I knew I had to complete my training before I went home, so I told him no. Sorry if I made you guys worry!" he laughed nervously.
"Oh Goku..." Bulma sighed. "As long as you're out learning some crazy new move, you couldn't care less about anything else...you never change." She put her hands up in a shrugging gesture. "Oh well, you're okay, the Earth's saved again, and everything's pretty much back to normal for now—"
"Except for one big problem," the Namek cut in, glaring at the seat across from them. "Frieza's still a threat, Goku, maybe not to you, but to everyone else here. Even after hearing your explanation for saving him, I still think it's a terrible idea to just let him live. At the very least, we should look into a way of somehow weakening him, so that in case you're not around, one of us could stop him if need be." Piccolo glared at the Arcosian.
"Well..." Goku started, hesitating, "I just think that maybe, just maybe, if we give him a second chance, he could be a useful ally, y'know? I mean, look how far you've co—"
"Don't ever compare me to that monster again, Son Goku. I'm warning you." the tall Namek's face darkened, a murderous tone creeping into his normally calm voice. "Don't forget, he killed my people, slaughtering them as though they were nothing. I won't forget that, not in a million years."
"I know, Piccolo." Goku's face looked serious, though his voice softened with empathy. "I'm not saying he's not dangerous, or that he isn't evil still. I just think that since I'm strong enough to control him, I should at least try to convince him that there's more to life than making others' lives miserable. If we just killed him here and now, Bulma's right, we'd be just as bad as he is." The green alien scoffed under his breath, continuing to glare at Frieza, who was still limp and unconscious, lying on the bench-like seat of the private capsule plane.
Silence fell. Krillin cleared his throat after a few moments, looking at his friends' concerned faces, and Piccolo's inimical scowl. "Uh... Guys, just wondering, but what are we gonna do when Frieza wakes up?"
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